October 22, 2012

Local thoughts on global warming


I live deep in the Chequamegon [she-WAH-me-gun] National Forest in northwest Wisconsin, where I am intimately connected with the environment. We have four true seasons here, with literally 150 degrees of separation between the hottest summer temperatures and the coldest winter temperatures. I've seen the winter snow cover reach over five feet. And now I've seen drought that is going on for something like six or seven years.

Don't get me wrong, we still get some precipitation. Heck, nearby Duluth had a thousand year flood this summer. But, that doesn't make it any less spooky that last spring we had no maple sap flow with which to make syrup. Usually there is a month long period where I can catch 10 or 15 gallons of sap a day from just a dozen trees. Not this year. There was a total crop failure. All across the North American continent, the maple syrup producing region has moved hundreds of miles north.

It was the warmest winter on record, followed by the hottest summer on record. Furthermore, 2012 is on track to be the hottest year since records started being kept 118 years ago. Small ponds in the woods that typically are home to puddle ducks dried up. A small impoundment created by the dirt road on which I live is now so low that ancient railroad ties from the logging days of 100 years ago are exposed, looking like the ribs of an emaciated Ethiopian.

All of the respected geologists and climatologists in the world expound upon the topic of anthropogenic (man made) global warming, and yet there are still nut jobs in the Tea Party wing of the G.O.P. who call it a hoax. They cling to the declarations of a few pseudo-scientists in the pay of the oil and coal industries who come up with the predictable false logic necessary to make their case.

There are dozens of these specious arguments like

  • We can't trust computer models of climate”.

  • Many leading scientists question climate change”.

  • It's all a conspiracy”.

  • Global warming is due to the sun, not humans”.

  • Human CO2 emissions are too tiny to matter”.

These and many more are easily debunked. Rather than take up space here, I refer my readers to this link. http://www.astronomynotes.com/solarsys/s11b.htm Read it at your leisure. It will arm you against the wanton mouthings of ignoramuses.

It is even more productive to investigate the powerful interests who pour millions of dollars into disinformation on the subject. The liars motivations are thinly veiled indeed. Take Nigel Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer of Great Britain and creator of the so-called Global Warming Policy Foundation. What a fancy, official sounding name! I mean, it's got “global warming” right in it! It must be a balanced, non-biased organization, right?

Wrong! Lawson is a right wing politician who came to prominence under the regime of Margaret Thatcher, rising to the rank of Chancellor of the Exchequer. Since his retirement he has waded in on the matter of global warming, writing a book entitled An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, and in 2009 created the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Great Britain's leading newspaper, The Guardian wrote that “Lord Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation is spreading errors. The former chancellor is an avowed climate skeptic – and the 'facts' he repeats are demonstrably inaccurate”.

A similar fake organization in America pretends to be a neutral authority on global warming. Called The Heartland Institute, is actually a conservative, libertarian think tank in Chicago (on Wacker Drive, no less) that is funded by Charles Koch. It is against anything that challenges the hegemony of big business. Previous to their taking up arms in denial of anthropogenic global warming, they made it a point to attack the idea that smoking is bad for one's health. Something to do with being funded by Philip Morris, I think.

Heartland is conducting a massive campaign to debunk the well established scientific consensus that global warming is an imminent threat caused largely by mankind's burning of coal and oil. The venerable Christian Science Monitor wrote last February that “Documents leaked from the 'free-market' Heartland Institute reveal payments to prominent climate-change deniers, a plan to create a fossil-fuel-friendly curriculum for Kindergartners, and efforts to 'keep opposing voices' out of the media.”

Heartland has even sunk to the depths of depravity with a billboard campaign using the likes of unabomber Ted Kaczinsky, Charlie Manson and Fidel Castro to promote their point of view.

The topic of climate change is noticeably absent during our current presidential campaign. Both Obama and Romney have in the past acknowledged the phenomenon's reality. But, during this political season, they have both dropped the subject.

This is one reason why I favor Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein. She truly has a handle on the subject, and especially on the solution. Here is her platform, taken from her web site www.jillstein.org


  • Create a binding international treaty to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to levels deemed safe by scientific analysis to reduce global warming.

  • Phase out coal power plants to end their unacceptable harm to the climate, health and the economy.

  • End mountaintop removal in Appalachia.

  • Redirect research funds from fossil fuels and other dead-end industries toward research in renewable energy and conservation.

  • Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled, terrorist-proof energy.

  • Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies.

  • Stop hydrofracking to prevent devastating pollution of groundwater, destruction of roads from the transport of millions of tons of toxic water, and the threats of earthquakes recently determined to be caused by drilling and disposal of fracking water in seismically unstable regions.

  • End Federal subsidies for "clean coal" -- an expensive, carbon intensive, unproven technology promoted by the coal industry public relations campaign.

  • Halt all drilling that poses a threat to public lands or water resources.

  • Halt the Keystone XL pipeline and bring the tar sand oils under a comprehensive climate protection treaty.

If you care at all about the future of the human species and the civilization we have built, you should think long and hard about who to vote for next month. Although the odds are overwhelming that Stein will not win, this is not about picking a winner, in my opinion. It is about creating a multiparty system in America. We will never have a voice as a citizenry unless this comes about.

I would rather vote for something I want and not get it, than vote for something I don't want and end up with it. In that direction lies despair. We can yet turn this ship around. Will you get on board?

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May 11, 2012


A real Mother's Day


I miss my mother. Shirley Bailey walked on to the spirit world in 1998, but it seems just like yesterday. So, I wish a happy Mother's Day to my sister Nancy and niece Jessica, who are the only people I now love that I can give my best wishes to this Sunday.

It was on Mother's Day, 1982 when I came back to Kenosha from a three year stint in Los Angeles. I went there ostensibly to study guitar, which I did. I also took in the culture of what might just as well have been a foreign land like France or China. I went to big name concerts by the likes of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, Canned Heat, Doc Watson, and a little band called the Rolling Stones.

I had a bunch of jobs, the last of which was with the City of Beverly Hills Parks & Recreation Department. There I was a “Recreation Specialist” who took people back packing, mountain climbing and cross country skiing.

Ultimately, though, I missed my family and my home state of Wisconsin, so I moved back. Ah yes, Wisconsin, where you can drink the water, and can't see the air. After a brief stay in Milwaukee, I moved to Grand View Township in Bayfield County, where I remain to this day. I love it here.

Aside from the family vacations when I was a child, my first trips up here by myself were with fellow students from Carthage College. Several times we traveled from the school, which is in my home town of Kenosha, up to my family's cabin on Lake Nothing. These weren't just the larks of college kids out to party. We came up to protest what was at the time called Project Sanguine. It later became known by the acronym ELF, which stood for Extremely Low Frequency.

It actually was a huge radio transmitting array by which the U.S. Navy communicated with its Trident Submarines bearing nuclear missiles. These subs were at the time the spearhead of America's nuclear weapons program, capable of delivering first strikes at our arch enemy, the Soviet Union. Part of the strategy known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), they were also capable of surviving the early exchanges of a nuclear war, and were thus able to put a cap on the festivities with final strikes.

The first one of our protests at ELF was scheduled for Mother's Day in 1968. I led the way, because I was the only student on campus who knew his way around the Chequamegon National Forest. It also didn't hurt that my family had a tar paper shack on little Lake Nothing.

Protests at Project ELF continued on Mother's Day for almost 30 years, until the Navy finally shut the place down. It was a huge antenna array that resonated the granite bedrock from Clam Lake, Wisconsin to Marquette, Michigan. Made famous by the movie The Hunt for Red October, the transmitters at the Navy's Clam Lake facility could send simple coded messages to submarines half a mile deep on the other side of planet Earth.

Why were these protests always scheduled for Mother's Day? Because that holiday started out as a day of peace between mothers on opposite sides of the American Civil War. At first there were limited observances in the 1870s and 1880s, after the practice was formalized in 1868. It was then that Ann Jarvis created a committee to promote a “Mother's Friendship Day”. Then in 1872, Julia Ward Howe led an anti-war observance which was accompanied by a Mother's Day Proclamation.

It was celebrated in Boston for about 10 years, and then died out. But, concurrently, it was first celebrated in 1877 in Albion, Michigan, where it was prompted by the temperance movement. Then in the 1880s, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Albion set aside the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.

Frank Hering, President of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, made the first known public plea for "a national day to honor our mothers" in 1904. In its present form, Mother's Day was established by Anna Marie Jarvis with the help of Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker, following the death of her mother Ann Jarvis on May 9, 1905. It then picked up steam as it was promoted at Wanamaker's store in Philly. The next year it was also celebrated in New York.

The holiday was declared officially by the state of West Virginia in 1910, and the rest of states followed quickly. On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day and requesting a proclamation. On May 9, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother's Day as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.

As the decades passed, however, the holiday gradually lost any ties to the idea of peace. It seems that thoughts of freedom from war have declined as our culture increasingly became imbued in perpetual patriotic pugilism.

We had two world wars during the first part of the Twentieth Century. You'd think that would be enough for anybody. But, no, they were not. On the heels of a recession following the end of World War Two's economic stimulus, we cranked up a “police action” in Korea. About the same time, France's conflict in Indochina sputtered along until the U.S. picked it up. We began to refer to that “police action” as the Vietnam War. Popular unrest grew along with the number of draftees who were sent there, many of whom came home maimed or dead.

Today, we have more need than ever for a national day of peace observance. Let this Mother's Day 2012 be that, please. Pray for public awareness of peace to grow, and for the madness to shrink. People everywhere suffer from war. Here in America, it is mostly out of sight, out of mind. Everywhere else in the world, it is right in people's faces.

How many more mothers must grieve the death of their sons and daughters and husbands?Just once in my lifetime I'd like to see a Mother's Day with no warfare. Now, that would be a real Mother's Day.

— 30 —

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March 13, 2012


Iron mine dead...for now


Walker administration also suffers numerous other setbacks


Wisconsin populism is alive and doing very well! I am so proud I could burst. The year 2012 is off to a flying start. First we turned in two million petition signatures to force recall elections for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators. Now we have apparently driven the wolf from our door, sending Gogebic Taconite packing its sorry self back to Florida. (Or actually back to West Virginia, were the rapacious mining magnate Chris Cline dwells.)

Now, our next big task is to choose a gubernatorial candidate. Scott Walker has finally elected to give up the sham that he's contesting the 1,000,000+ signatures on petitions requesting a recall election. He never was really contesting the signatures, of course. That would have been a hopeless task, given how meticulous were all of the dedicated 30,000 volunteers who braved the Wisconsin winter.

What he was actually doing was drawing out the time during which he could raise unlimited amounts of money to “challenge the signatures”, traveling all around America sucking up to the wealthy right wing. His most ludicrous moment was when he addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. in early February, where he likened himself to Ronald Reagan.

He certainly has raised big money. Some pundits have suggested that the total spending on advertising for the recall election could top $100 million! Most of this will come from out of state right wingers with very deep pockets. This is from Talking Points Memo: Just recently, Walker was able to raise $4.5 million in just over a month. He has raised $12 million since January 1, 2011, and has over $2.6 million on hand. Already in full campaign mode, he has been spending lots of money on TV advertising, campaign organization, and other expenses.

How will most of this money be spent? Well, we do know that the billionaire Koch brothers financed $4.3 million in negative political advertising against Tom Barrett, Walker's opponent in the 2010 gubernatorial race. That is the only reason that Walker won. Once in office, he gave them $2.7 billion in tax breaks for their Georgia Pacific plant near Green Bay.

Already the underhanded Walker campaign strategy has tipped its hand. During his fund raising free pass interval he has been able to bring in donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time, from donors such as Texas businessman Bob Perry, who financed the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth campaign of 2004, which spread false information about Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s war record.

I'm sure we can expect much more mud slinging. Then there is the big lie technique invented by Joseph Goebbels, German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany. Tell a lie big enough, often enough, and it becomes embedded in receptive minds as truth. In Walker's case, we can expect to hear “unions, big union money, out of state unions, unions, unions, unions” constantly.

Furthermore, failed Tea Party presidential candidate Herman Cain is now raising money to support Walker's anti-recall effort. In a letter dated March 8, 2012, he says that “This could be the most important political race in America this year. If the unions win and take down this good man, it will be a crushing blow to the cause of reform. What's more, it will be a generation before any Governor dares to take on these labor unions again.”

Yeah, right, like the labor unions can come anywhere close to the deep pockets Walker supporters like the Koch brothers and Texas businessman Bob Perry. The governor has hosted fund raising events from New York to Florida to California. Walker is raising millions of dollars, and only about 17 percent of it comes from within Wisconsin.

"Out-of-state Tea Party extremists are Scott Walker’s remaining base of support after months of job loss, a criminal corruption probe in which he may be charged with felonies, and massive cuts to programs that benefit working families, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Friday. While the ongoing presidential primary has devastated Republican hopes for the fall, it’s surprising to hear a leading Republican be so candid that the GOP has no shot against Obama."

Meanwhile, Walker has had several other significant setbacks as well. In the ongoing John Doe probe by the FBI, six arrests have thus far been made in what is now being called Walkergate.

One of his top aides waived her preliminary trial and is being charged with four felony counts of campaigning on the taxpayer dime while working for Scott Walker during his tenure as Milwaukee county executive. Former aide Darlene Wink has plead guilty to two charges. Wink, 61, worked as Walker's constituent services coordinator in the county executive's office at the time, a job that paid about $41,000 a year. She was charged with working on fundraising events for Walker's gubernatorial campaign in 2009 and 2010 while in her taxpayer-funded county job.

Former Walker aide Timothy D. Russell, 48, is accused of embezzling more than $21,000 in 2010 from a veterans-support organization account entrusted to him by Walker. He is also accused of siphoning lesser sums from campaign accounts of two Milwaukee County Board candidates, and prosecutors say he helped set up a shadow Internet system with a hidden wireless server only 30 feet from Walker's office that other aides used to perform campaign work on county time.

Walker himself is now under investigation, a situation that has legally allowed him to now set up a defense fund for himself. He has denied that he is under investigation, but, when an elected official wants their own legal team, it is usually to protect themselves (see Sarah Palin, 2008) from the transparency that comes with state funded legal defense. Second of all, in the state of Wisconsin, an elected official may only start a legal defense fund if they are being investigated for violations of one of two things: campaign finance or election practices.

Walker just had another setback when the Republican sponsored Voter ID law that was recently passed has been ruled unconstitutional by Dane County, Wisconsin Circuit Judge Richard Niess. In the case of League of Women Voters versus Walker, judge said that “Voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression, indeed they are two heads on the same monster.” Signed by Walker in May, Wisconsin’s statute required voters to present government-issued photographic proof of identity such as a driver’s license, U.S. passport or an armed forces or college ID. Subsequent to its signing, the law caused cases of disenfranchisement of people unable to obtain a birth certificate and those attempting to use tribal photo IDs.

All in all, Wisconsin is turning out to be the radical right's worst nightmare. In illegally stripping public unions of their right to collectively bargain, Walker kicked off the massive protests and occupation of the state capitol one year ago. That in turn sparked the Occupy Wall Street movement that spread across America.

With his snide, uppity demeanor, he has offended the citizens of Wisconsin who are fed up with ultra-rich corporate titans buying and manipulating our political system. We have rejected the corporate rapists who wish to despoil our pristine environment, disenfranchise our citizens, and privatize the common wealth.

We're pissed as hell, and we won't take it any more!

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February 10, 2012

G.O.P demonizes government



But they're all about welfare for the rich


At every turn the Republican Party, especially the Tea Party wing, demonizes government. Of course, they use a classic semantic ploy, linking through constant repetition the word “big” with the word “government”. Over and over again, “big government” is nailed to the political cross.

It's pretty easy to call upon common experiences people have of being bulldozed by some government action or other. The Internal Revenue Service is by far the easiest target. Nobody likes the IRS. From the days of old, when makers of bootleg whiskey would holler the warning “Revenooers a comin', pa”, that's the kind of association it has in people's minds.

So, by extension, that is what we're conditioned to think when politicians of the Libertarian ilk call the tune to which they want us to dance. It was Grover Norquist who said that "I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub”.

I am just sick and tired of the specious logic which says that government regulations are all bad and, therefore, should be abolished in the name of freedom. The Republican Party, especially its Tea Party faction, insists that all sorts of regulations are bad for business. They say that regulations get in the way of creating more jobs.

This logic just doesn't hold up. How do regulations that prohibit discharge of stinking, poisonous pollution into the air and water get in the way of creating jobs? They don't. What they do is cut into profits by making manufacturers and agricultural businesses clean up their acts.

Furthermore, they hammer away at how taxes are too high, and they are responsible for our high unemployment rate. “If only we could lower taxes more, the 'job creators' (i.e. the wealthy 1% and corporations) would be able to hire a lot more people.

Businesses don't exist to create jobs. They exist to make money. As a matter of fact, this simple axiom is why we don't have enough good jobs in America any more. In order to keep profit margins high, the jobs have been shipped overseas or automated out of existence.

These same businesses are happy as can be to get government subsidies left and right. Boeing doesn't research and design airplanes. Get that out of your head. The U.S. Defense Department pays huge bucks to them for the designing and testing of bombers for the Air Force, which Boeing then adapts for civilian use.

The public monies that are needed to sustain our control of the oil rich Middle East boggle the mind. We've spent trillions of dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then there was our little engagement in Libya, which cost $600 million in less than a month. This is where the big boys make the big bucks. Coming soon to a theater of war near you is Iran.

The "recent war in Iraq is the first privatized conflict in history. No more soldiers on KP duty peeling potatoes. All of the support work is contracted out. Much of the war making itself is done by private contractors like Blackwater. After we've bombed a country's infrastructure to bits, companies like Bechtel come in and get paid to rebuild it.

The biggest threat to America’s long-term fiscal health is runaway military spending. At $1 trillion a year (DOD's official 2010 request of $663.8 billion doesn't include the nuclear weapons arsenal, homeland security, the Veterans Administration and the "black," or off-the-books slush funds of our various national security agencies), the US spends more than all other countries combined on death. Death, that's right. Our overdrawn defense account not only levies a tithe on socially beneficial investment, but also kills people.

This is not to say there aren't real dangers out there. But using our precious tax dollars to wage illegal wars of aggression; maintain unwelcome military bases in 700-800 locations around the globe; support covert operations to overturn democratic elections – to cite a few of the many unconscionable and expensive activities carried out in our name – spreads social unrest and instability worldwide, makes a parody of our founding principles and legitimizes the perpetrators of violent extremism.

Getting control of military spending would have obvious benefits – both here and abroad. At home, a 50% cut (for starters) in military outlays would be enough to jump start funding for quality healthcare for all, help to revive a dysfunctional free education system, improve energy efficiency and nurture environmental sustainability. Overseas, restrained military spending would signal a shift towards a less belligerent US foreign policy, reducing tensions and misunderstanding with friend and foe alike.

Big government, you say? How about the USA PATRIOT Act. Its full name is Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act. It is the quintessential law that enables big government.

How about “black” (invisible) agencies and programs: the Pentagon's black budget?

The black budget is the government's illusory and tangled accounting of what it spends on intelligence gathering, covert operations, and - less noticeably - secret military research and weapons programs. It admits to no easy calculation, but by estimates of those who watch it, the black budget may hit US$30 billion a year - a figure larger than current federal expenditures for education. It includes spending by the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and military R&D.

Corporate welfare

One of Ralph Nader's goals when he ran for president was to stop corporate welfare. He figured if Congress was so thoughtful as to cut welfare to mothers and children (less than 3% of the federal budget), then perhaps it was time to eliminate corporate welfare (greater than 17% of the federal budget).

Corporate welfare from US and state governments includes drug research welfare. The U.S. government routinely funds research into new drugs. We might argue about whether they should be spending our money in this way, but I think the average taxpayer would at least agree that we should get the maximum benefit from that research. In reality, though, the government often hands out to corporations the royalty-free rights to commercialize government financed inventions.

Now, I happen to think that (in general) if a company develops a drug at it's own expense it should be able to charge whatever it wants for it. But they didn't develop them! My money and your money is taken as taxes and used to develop drugs for them so they can make hundreds of millions more in profits. At the very least we should require lower pricing.

An internal National Institutes of Health (NIH) document, obtained by Public Citizen through the Freedom of Information Act, shows how crucial taxpayer-funded research is to top-selling drugs. According to the NIH, taxpayer-funded scientists conducted 55 percent of the research projects that lead to the discovery and development of the top selling drugs.

End tax breaks for drug companies. 2011-2020 savings: $50 billion. Permit government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare. Savings 2012-2021: $157.9 billion. Stop the $5 billion-a year annual tax break for direct-to-consumer advertising. We should pay for drug companies to market to us?

The king of blatantly obvious corporate welfare is the agribiz giant, Archer Daniels Midland. ADM and its chairman Dwayne Andreas have lavishly fertilized both political parties with millions of dollars in handouts and in return have reaped billion-dollar windfalls from taxpayers and consumers. Thanks to federal protection of the domestic sugar industry, ethanol subsidies, subsidized grain exports, and various other programs, ADM has cost the American economy billions of dollars since 1980 and has indirectly cost Americans tens of billions of dollars in higher prices and higher taxes over that same period. At least 43 percent of ADM's annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government. Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM's corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30.

Sports stadiums are another familiar example of public money being spent to benefit for profit corporations. Between 1990 and today 18 cities have put up government money to help build new stadiums for their baseball teams. Between 2000 and 2009, 31 major-league stadiums and arenas opened across urban America at a public cost of approximately $8 billion. The average cost of a football or baseball stadium built since 2000 is $528 million. The average cost of a basketball or hockey arena built during this period is $276 million. Public money has typically covered about two-thirds of these costs.

Who benefits from these expenditures? First and foremost it is the owners of sports franchises. Here's just one example. In 1997 Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, bought the Seattle Seahawks for $194 million dollars. However, there was a catch: Allen wanted a new stadium built to replace the 20-year-old Kingdome, a massive domed structure on the edge of downtown Seattle that had been home both to the Seahawks and the Mariners baseball team. A few years earlier he had spent $243 million to acquire 80% of Ticketmaster.

A statewide referendum was necessary to get state support for the new stadium, and Allen thoughtfully picked up the $4.2 million tab for the election. It was a good deal. Allen's $4.2 million investment resulted in a $425 million construction project for his own benefit, courtesy of the taxpayers.

Television deals alone for sports are a huge privatization of this publicly spent money. By 1998, the NFL had TV agreements with ABC, CBS, ESPN, and Fox for a combined total of $17.6 billion over eight years. Retail sales of licensed merchandise based on sports properties totaled $12.5 billion in the U.S. and Canada in 2009. And ticket revenues for 2010 exceed $49 billion.

The king of demonizing government, Grover Norquist

The problem is, he is a hypocrite who is all in favor of big government when it suits his personal agenda. Like when he supports America's terrorist activities around the world. He worked with convicted criminal Oliver North in his support of the Contras in Nicaragua

Yes, Norquist is fine with big government when he is able to influence it for the purpose of social engineering. Although he has never been elected to any office, he holds sway over the Republican Party.

Norquist is the founder of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) in 1985, which he says was done at the request of then-President Ronald Reagan. He is best known for his Taxpayer Protection Pledge (TPP), in which the pledger promises to "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

This is why legislators like freshman Representative Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin) and 237 other House Republicans, plus 41 Senate Republicans have insisted that they will not raise taxes on wealthy individuals or on corporations. This forces the government to borrow money to make up the annual budget deficit. It borrows the money from those same wealthy individuals and corporations, and ends up paying them interest on that borrowed money. This is a much better deal for them. Instead of paying taxes, they get hundreds of billions of dollars worth of income.

This is the “small government” dream of Grover Norquist, almost all Republicans, and every last Tea Party advocate. What they are really after is prosperity for the few, and poverty for the many.


"As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." – Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas




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Dear Readers;

The following newspaper article appeared in the Feb. 7, 1991 issue of The County Journal. I wrote it at the beginning of mining operations in Ladysmith by Kennecot Copper Corporation (a.k.a. Flambeau Mining Corporation).

A re-visit to this article is my opening salvo in the resurrection of my Namekagon Notebook column, which first appeared in the Four Seasons News in 1984. I look forward to many more columns in my new blog of the same name. We are comrades in arms, my friends. Now is the time for us to band together and take control of our destiny.

James Richard Bailey




Far from a silent spring


What's all the mining hoopla?


By James R. Bailey

This year, along with ice-out and the blooming of the trilliums, there will be a new signal that spring has arrived in northern Wisconsin.

Residents of Ladysmith will witness blasting and the rumble of mammoth dozers as excavation begins on a thirty-two acre open pit copper mine near the Flambeau River.

The final approval to begin operations was granted January 14 by David Schwarz, administrator of the State Division of Hearings and Appeals. This came after a fourteen year-long legal battle between Kennecot Copper Corporation and a coalition of local residents and environmental groups.

The announcement was big news. It was the top headline in the January 16 Milwaukee Journal, placed above the failure of U.S./Iraq last minute "peace talks."

What is all the fuss about? A few moments spent studying the ancient geology of Wisconsin may help.

Some 1.8 billion years ago this area was covered by an ocean. Up through its floor volcanic eruptions brought iron, copper, uranium, vanadium, gold, silver, and zinc, as well as trace elements of heavy metals, toxins like arsenic, cadmium and chromium.

Unfortunately, these same eruptions also brought up large amounts of sulfur. The underlying bedrock in much of northern Wisconsin is a sulfur-bearing volcanic structure.

As long as they remain underground, the sulfur, arsenic and other elements do not often enter into the water table. With the exception of cracks and seeps, sulfur pollution is not a problem.

When brought to the surface, however, sulfur combines with oxygen and water to form sulfuric acid. The acid has a great capacity to dissolve toxins and carcinogens, allowing them to find their way into the water table.

This is not startling news to anyone. The mining companies know it, and the environmentalists know it. We've all heard of acid rain, and we're well aware of its effects on the environment.

But, as the Bureau of Mines is quick to point out, we are a nation of consumers. Their statistics state that "Each year, the average American needs 40,000 pounds of new minerals. During his or her lifetime, the average newborn baby will need

  • 1,050 pounds of lead

  • 1,050 pounds of zinc

  • 1,750 pounds of copper

  • 4,550 pounds of aluminum

  • 91,000 pounds of iron/steel

  • 360,500 pounds of coal

  • over a million pounds of stone, sand, gravel, cement and clay"

Mining proponents say that all of this has to come from somewhere. In the past, much of the metallic minerals have come from third world countries where there are few environmental restrictions, and where natives will work for a fraction of the pay demanded by workers in the industrialized nations.

Things have changed. Political stability is waning in Africa, South America and elsewhere. Easily accessible deposits are being used up. Transportation costs are rising.

Equally important, world market prices are rising. The value of copper ore doubled in the late 1980s. This means that ore bodies that were too expensive to mine previously have now become worth extracting.

Northern Wisconsin is one big ore body. "The list of companies competing for a share of the area's resources reads like a Who's Who of the international mining industry: Exxon, Kennecott, Amax, Kerr-McGee, Noranda, Chevron, Amoco and Western Nuclear," according to Al Gedicks, director of the Center For Alternative Mining Development Policy. "Taken together, these companies have leased the mineral rights to more than 500,000 acres in the northern two-thirds of Wisconsin."

Gedicks also points out that the geology of the Lake Superior region is similar to Canadian and South African areas where rich uranium deposits have been mined.

Not surprisingly, Kennecott Copper is owned by Noranda, Inc. A Canadian company, Noranda ranks sixth in terms of profits in that country. They are major players in minerals, forest products, manufacturing and energy.

Noranda, the company that owns Kennecott (which, in turn, owns Flambeau Mining Company) has since the mid-1950s operated the Elliot Lake uranium mines in Ontario. They are blamed by environmentalists for poisoning a seventy-five mile stretch of the Serpent River basin.

"In the 1960s, it was recognized that environmental mistakes had been made in the rush to feed nuclear power," admits geologist Julie Anderson of Noranda Explorations, Inc. "Today, however, those mistakes would not occur and the environmental repairs have been made and continue to be made."

This may be true, but among the variances granted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to Kennecott is exemption from the rule requiring them to monitor baseline water quality for radioactivity.

This means that they don't have to test the water for radioactivity before they start, as required by WDNR rules. If the public can't document how radioactive the ground water was before mining operations started, they cannot prove that it has become thusly contaminated.

The mine pit itself will come within 140 feet of the Flambeau River. This also required a variance from the minimum of 300 feet specified in the rules.

All together, Kennecott requested and got six such variances from meaningful sections of DNR rules.

Yes, the mine in Ladysmith will yield copper. It is one of the richest deposits in existence. Their permit specifically allows for the mining of uranium too, despite denial of any such interest by Kennecott. The lode also contains gold, another entire topic.

The story as related here thus far is only the tip of the iceberg. Closer to home is the Round Lake vanadium/titanium deposit in Sawyer County, the largest in North America. It is owned by Union Carbide.

Then there is the zinc deposit near the Wolf River at Crandon, Wisconsin. Said by the U.S. Department of the Interior to be the richest in the world, it is owned by Exxon.

According to a Wisconsin Department of Revenue study, "there is potential over the next twenty years for development of about ten mines in northern Wisconsin . . . [and] the possibility that a smelter may be built."

We will, in forthcoming articles, recount the legal maneuverings by both sides of the dispute. We will also investigate the environmental background of the mining companies, the treaty-rights connection, the local and regional efforts to halt mining and more.


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June 8, 2014

It's bug season!


Tips & tricks to beat insect problems

That golden time of year in the north woods, when winter is banished but the bugs have not yet made their debut, is over. Bug season is now in full throttle. Ticks, mosquitoes and biting flies all abound.

Of course, there are numerous chemicals available to repel, kill and otherwise abate the insect pests. How about N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide? You know it as DEET, the ubiquitous repellant in Off! and Repel. It works great, but it stinks, stings, burns the eyes and lips, and melts the finish on my Martin guitar.

For our pets we have Frontline as well as the usual neurotoxin-filled flea and tick collars. Once a veterinarian put Frontline on my dog Janus without my permission. It coincided with the site of an unrelated injection, and she ended up with a huge deep necrotic wound that took a month to heal.

You have probably guessed by now that I am no fan of commercial solutions to biting bugs.

Non-toxic repellent

There are inexpensive, non-toxic ways to keep the bugs at bay. Here is a simple recipe for a repellent I use on myself, my dog and plants. It uses citronella oil, tea tree oil and liquid peppermint soap, and only costs about $2 to make a quart. [NOTE: castor oil added to the mix June 2014, which ups the cost to $2.20 a quart.]

Citronella oil is available at health food stores. The brand I find locally is Nature's Alchemy, which costs $4.75 for 15 milliliters (ml). That is about a tablespoon. Since the recipe uses a teaspoon, that works out to $1.60 per batch.

Tea tree oil is available at both health food stores and discount retailers. It is obviously cheaper at the latter businesses, where it costs $8 for 60 ml. Since the recipe uses a teaspoon, that works out to 53 cents per batch.

The liquid peppermint soap, Dr. Bronner's brand, is also available at health food stores, where it costs about $6.40 for 237 ml. Since the recipe uses a tablespoon, that works out to be 40 cents per batch.

So, all you need to do is get your ingredients together and mix them in a spray bottle with warm water. I use an old Windex sprayer. The recipe is:

  • 1 teaspoon citronella oil

  • 1 teaspoon tea tree oil

  • 2 tablespoons liquid peppermint soap

  • [NOTE: ADDED JUNE 2014] 1 tablespoon castor oil

Mix them into a quart of warm water and spray on yourself, your pets, plants, kitchen surfaces, screens, anywhere you think that bugs are a problem. I spray my dog with this concoction first thing in the morning before I take her outside, and again mid-day and in the evening. It is not quite as potent as DEET, so I make sure to spray her all over, and then rub it in.

Likewise, when I'm going to be outside cutting firewood or walking her, I spray my socks, pants cuffs, T-shirt, hat, arms and head net.

Head net

Get a good head net. This is an absolute must in the north woods. It looks kind of goofy to the uninitiated, but it doesn't look as goofy as somebody who is constantly waving their hands around their head and slapping themselves in the neck to kill mosquitoes.

I prefer a large one shaped like a little pillow case. They also sell head nets with built in beanie caps, which I don't like. I'd rather wear a plain old baseball cap underneath it.

It's amazing how carefree outdoor activities can be when you aren't inhaling mosquitoes and scraping flies out of your ears with a finger.

Indoor bug management

What do you do when the insect pests get inside? There are a number of non-toxic solutions.

  • Flypaper strips – These are available everywhere in the bug spray aisle at grocery stores and discount retailers. Costing about $1 for four of them, they are good for taking all flying insects out of circulation. Tip: hang them sideways close to light bulbs. Here's how you do it. They come with a thumb tack for attaching to the plastic loop that pulls the tightly curled strip out of its tube. Before you do that, though, take a piece of tape and make a tab on the tube itself so you can thumb tack both ends up out of the way. At night, bugs naturally circle around light bulbs. Eventually they all run into the flypaper strip and meet their demise.

  • Bug zappers – These really don't do much good outside. They just attract bugs to the area where you don't want them. But inside, that's another matter. I put a small one in my mud room (entry room to you city folks). Plugged in at night, most of the bugs that enter when you are going in and out quickly get electrocuted.

  • Floor level flea trap – Here is a neat trick to get the biting hoppers who sometimes set up shop in carpets and pet beds. Put a night light, one that uses a 4 watt light bulb or the LED equivalent in an outlet near the floor. Then put a shallow pan with detergent water on the floor underneath it. The fleas are attracted to the light at night, jump at it, and end up drowned in the soapy water. Note: do this in a place where you aren't likely to kick it as you walk about half awake on the way to the bathroom.


While researching an article on beekeeping, I learned about a non-toxic substance that kills ants and other crawling insects. Called diatomaceous (DI-ah-to-may-shus) earth, or DE, the beekeepers spread it on the ground around their hives to keep ants out of the honey.

It is a naturally occurring, soft,sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. The main component of this stuff is silica, which is a mild abrasive. It works by scratching the underside of crawling insects, so they die of dehydration.

Since DE is non-toxic, you can spread it along baseboards, along the backsplash of kitchen counters, and outside around the perimeter of your house. It is inexpensive, and available at hardware and garden stores. It is safe for use around food.


So, there you have it. My strategies for dealing with summer's insect problems. Now you know why I like winter better.

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Dec. 16, 2013


Why U.S. Presidents attending funeral didn't fear


being arrested for their crimes against humanity


President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were joined by former presidents George W. Bush and his wife Laura, along with presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton aboard Air Force One to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa on Sunday. The Obamas, Bushes and Clinton were joined by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, who traveled separately for security reasons

A memorial service for Mandela was held Tuesday at a stadium in Johannesburg, followed by a smaller funeral on Dec. 15 in Mandela's hometown. The latter event was held in Qunu, the village where Mandela lived as a child in the middle of South Africa's poorest region.

This trek could have been risky, given the former presidents' status as war criminals. Clinton's bombing of Belgrade and Baghdad, Bush's illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and Obama's invasion of Libya plus his drone strikes against Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq all qualify their status as murderous war criminals.

What about Carter? A little known fact is that on July 3, 1979 Carter signed the first directive on clandestine aid to opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabull, Afghanistan, a move that foreign policy experts warned would cause the USSR to invade the country. Military strategists hoped this would “give the Soviets their own Vietnam War”. This would in turn, cause the mighty Soviet Union to tumble, they predicted. This strategy involved not only arming the mujahidin (later known as the Taliban), but also flooding the country with Korans and promoting Islamic fundamentalism. Osama bin Laden was one of our hand picked leaders of this movement.

All of the above activities are quite illegal according to international law. War crimes are divided into two broad categories.

  • The first are called crimes against peace. Crimes against peace include the planning, preparation, or initiation of a war of aggression. In other words one country cannot make aggressive war against another country. Nor can a country settle a dispute by war; it must always, and in good faith, negotiate a settlement.

  • The second category are what we can call crimes against humanity; I am including here crimes against civilians and soldiers. These are violations of the rules as to the means and manner by which war is to be conducted once begun. These include the following prohibitions: killing of civilians, indiscriminate bombing, the use of certain types of weapons, killing of defenseless soldiers, ill treatment of POWs and attacks on non-military targets.

These crimes are embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, the Nuremberg Charter, which is the law under which the Nazis were tried, and a treaty called the Kellogg-Briand pact. America is a signatory to all three of them. We, of course, only honor such agreements when it is convenient to us.

Just to make sure that no U.S. citizens are ever apprehended and/or tried for such offenses, especially presidents and other high-ranking officials, we have passed a law of our own. It is mockingly known on the international scene as “The Netherlands Invasion Act.”

It's real name is the American Service-Members Protection Act, or ASPA. Signed into law by President George W. Bush on August 2, 2002 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, this American law declares that the U.S.A. has the right to take ANY AND ALL MEASURES INCLUDING FORCE to prevent American citizens from being held and tried for war crimes.

This is from Wikepedia:

The American Service-Members' Protection Act...aims "to protect United States military personnel and other elected and appointed officials of the United States government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not party." It was an amendment to the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act for Further Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States. The bill was signed into law by George W. Bush on August 2, 2002.

ASPA authorizes the President to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court”. This authorization has led the act to be nicknamed The Hague Invasion Act, because the freeing of U.S. citizens by force might be possible only through an invasion of The Hague, Netherlands, the seat of several international criminal courts and of the Dutch government.

The Act prohibits federal, state and local governments and agencies (including courts and law enforcement agencies) from assisting the Court. For example, it prohibits the extradition of any person from the United States to the Court; it prohibits the transfer of classified national security information and law enforcement information to the Court; and it prohibits agents of the Court from conducting investigations in the United States.

One of numerous stances held by the U.S.A. proclaiming that we are above international law, it shows plainly that this country is a Rogue State...the chief one in the world, for that matter. And here we were in South Africa, dominating the stage during its memorial and funeral for Nelson Mandela, the liberator of that country from Apartheid, and a self-declared revolutionary member of the South African Communist Party.

Arguably, this was also the anointing of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate in the 2016 American presidential election. I wonder how Africans feel about her role as U.S. Secretary of State in the 2011 overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi, a principle participant in the formation of the African Union.

— 30 —




Nov. 18, 2013

JFK Assassination 50 Years Later


Things you never knew about Lee Harvey Oswald

I come into this topic with a confession to make. Having been at this game of connecting the dots since I was 13 years old, I have precise memories of the time when I heard President Kennedy had been assassinated. I was in a 9th grade Civics class that Friday afternoon, not feeling well due to a sore throat. The teacher sent me to the school office to be disciplined for wise cracking while he was speaking. When I got down the long hall to the school office, I found that nobody was there, which was unusual for the noon hour on a Friday.

I remember that the PA system console was on, with a radio announcer’s voice speaking in somber tones saying that President Kennedy had been shot. Without a moment’s pause, I ran back to my classroom to relay the news. Bursting in, out of breath, I interrupted the teacher yet again, this time to say that President Kennedy had been gunned down.

Of course, the teacher thought that this was an excuse to get out of being punished for my previous antics. As he was dressing me down for my insolence, the PA speaker on the wall came alive with confirmation of my claim. Principal John Hosmanek informed us of the sad event, after which he asked everyone to stand and put their hands over their hearts while he played our national anthem.

We were then dismissed for the day, even though it was just one o’clock in the afternoon. I proceeded to walk the mile to my home, chewing my Aspergum and wondering if the newspapers I was to deliver that day would have the news in them. Indeed they did. Since the shooting had taken place mid-day, the evening edition of the Milwaukee Journal announced the tragedy.

The headline “President assassinated” filled most of the front page above the fold in big block letters. There was a black border around the whole front page. Still chewing the aspirin gum for relief of my store throat, I delivered the papers with a heavy heart, feeling it was my solemn duty to do so, even though by then I also had a fever. I delivered Saturday's and Sunday's papers as well.

As I recall, school remained canceled on Monday, the day of JFK’s state funeral. I continued my job of delivering the Milwaukee Journal for about 6 months after the assassination, collecting every newspaper I could get that had any mention of the tragic event. I was just terribly intrigued by the reason for it all. But, that faded as I grew older and embarked on my journey to the new world of high school.

It was, of course, a tumultuous time. The 1960s, you know? The Vietnam War, hippies, Beatles, civil rights….and the killings of ostensible assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, NAACP leader Medgar Evers, black Muslim leader Malcolm X, nazi George Lincoln Rockwell, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Deputy Chair of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party Fred Hampton, and the Party’s founder, Huey Newton.

In the decades that followed notable assassinations included Alberta Williams King (mother of Martin Luther King Jr.), Mi’kmaq Indian activist from Nova Scotia Annie Mae Aquash, Chilean ambassador to the United States Orlando Letelier, peace activist and musician John Lennon, Jewish liberal radio host Alan Berg, Zionist Meir David Kahane, and abortion providers John Britton and George Tiller.


Too many questions, not enough answers


In a speech 20 years ago, analyst Michael Parenti said “Look closely at the JFK assassination, and the gangster nature of the state will be revealed.” This is why for 50 years the findings about the JFK death have been dismissed and discredited.

The mainstream press hasn’t provided even a fraction of the information available to the public. Respected investigative journalists have published a plethora of facts that never make it into the public forum. Why should we be surprised to find out that some of the best investigative journalists of our time have delved into these murky waters, which are often deliberately clouded by the national security state?

Their numbers include Peter Dale Scott, Harold Weisberg, Carl Ogelsby, Mark Lane, Anthony Summers, Philip Melanson, Jim Garrison, Cyril Wecht and many more. Yet the popular media goes gaga over a whitewash like Gerald Posner’s Case Closed. And they spread far and wide their revulsion of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, beginning more than six months prior to its release, and for over a year after its release...even until this very day.

The question, as Parenti puts it, is institutional legitimacy. “A full revelation about the murder would be a serious attack upon the dominant institutions of state and class...The movie JFK pointed the finger at the national security state itself as the murderer.” [The rest of this essay is partly framed by that speech he made on the 30th anniversary of the assassination titled The JFK Assassination and the Gangster Nature of the State. Parts one and two of the full speech can be downloaded in Mp3 format HERE and HERE.

Back in 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that there was more than one assassin. Ask a thousand people here in 2013 if Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin, and you will get the view that to believe otherwise is to be a crazy conspiracy theorist. Yet, there it is. The U.S. House of Representatives official body entrusted with investigating the murders of JFK and Martin Luther King found that there were provable covert operations at work on both cases. As a point of interest, there was a civil trial in which a jury unanimously concluded that MLK was killed as a result of a “high level” conspiracy.

By the way, the word conspiracy is an ordinary legal term. Here is the definition: 18USC371. CONSPIRACY – a separate Federal crime for anyone to conspire or agree with someone else to do something which, if actually carried out, would amount to another Federal crime.

Harold Weisberg’s book Whitewash and Mark Lane’s book Rush to Judgment, according to Parenti, “demolished the Warren Commission.” The common perception of Lee Harvey Oswald is that he was a loner, an incompetent, kind of slow in the head. Posner, not very bright himself, turned amateur psychologist and pronounced that Oswald was “passive aggressive.” Right…a passive aggressive assassin. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Parenti quipped “That explains why he used a rifle that couldn’t shoot straight.”

Oswald is portrayed as a leftist in the popular media. The fact is that he was very much associated with ultra-right wing, anti-communist persons deep in the national security apparatus.

Things you haven’t been told about Lee Harvey Oswald:

  • He was actually a quick learner.

  • Historical records of his IQ tests show him to be of above average intelligence.

  • Far from being a lonely drifter, Oswald was directly linked to the US intelligence community for most of his adult life. According to Melanson, he had “one of the longest government paper trails of any person his age in the entire country”. [pdf Spy Saga]

  • When he was 18 he had secret security clearance while he worked in aircraft control at the naval air base in Atsugi, Japan. Atsugi was a top secret base where the U.S. controlled U2 spy plane flights. His knowledge included “all radio frequencies for all squadrons, all tactical call signs, the relative strengths of all squadrons, number and type of aircraft in a squadron...the authentication code for entering and exiting [the air defense zone]...the range of surrounding units' radio and radar”, according to his commander, Marine Lt. John Donovan, who testified to these facts before the Warren Commission.

  • The next year, at age 19, he was stationed at El Toro air station in California, with security clearance to work radar.

  • While there he became obsessed with Russia, talking often about Soviet communism, playing Russian language records loudly in his barracks, addressing his fellow Marines as “comrade” and otherwise speaking Russian. He read Russian books and proclaimed Soviet-style communism as the “best system in the world”. This was pretty unusual behavior to be practicing while in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1958, and such acts in any other corpsman it would have lead to an investigation followed by stern treatment. Despite all of this, he kept his security clearance, continuing to log radar records of flights coming and going.

  • In February 1959 he failed a Marine Corps proficiency test in Russian. Six months later he was fluent in the language. Only later in 1974 did it become known through a Warren Commission document that he had attended the U.S. Army Monterey School of Languages. (Note: the only way for a service person to attend that program was to be assigned to do so by the military for very specific reasons.)

  • Oswald was given an early discharge from the Marines because his mother had injured her foot. Although such a dependency discharge is difficult to obtain, he got it in one week. It turns out that the injury in which she had dropped a jar on her toe happened a year earlier. Immediately after his discharge he applied for a passport, which he got six days later. He then left for Fort Worth on the 10th, arriving there on the 14th.

Oswald in Russia


He then defected to Russia, which required that the U.S. government begin to act toward him in a very unusual, very favorable way. This is the timeline:

On September 4, [1959] the day on which he was transferred out of MACS-9 [Marine Air Control Squadron] in preparation for his discharge, Oswald had already applied for a passport at the Superior Court of Santa Ana, Calif. His application stated that he planned to leave the United States on September 21 to attend the Albert Schweitzer College and the University of Turku in Finland, and to travel in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, England, France, Germany, and Russia. The passport was routinely issued 6 days later. [2]

Information meticulously researched and compiled by Melanson [1] shows the following: In 1959 the entire cost of the trip to Russia was $1,500 yet Oswald's bank records indicate a balance of only $203. Friends and relatives who were interviewed claim to have given him no money during this time.

He booked passage from New Orleans to Le Havre, France, on a freighter, the SS Marion Lykes, scheduled to sail on September 18, for which he paid $220.75. On the evening of September 17, he registered at the Liberty Hotel. The Marion Lykes did not sail until the early morning of September 20.

Oswald disembarked at Le Havre, France on October 8. He left for England that same day, and arrived on October 9, then left for Finland on the 10th. He arrived in Helsinki on the 11th. There were no commercial flights that day, so he had to have had either a private flight that he paid for (unlikely) or a military flight. He had told English customs officials in Southampton that he had $700 and planned to remain in the United Kingdom for one week before proceeding to a school in Switzerland. This was obviously a falsehood, one of many that he fabricated in order to achieve his goal.

Once he was in Russia he renounced his U.S. citizenship. He went to the U.S. embassy there and announced that he had “lots of secrets” he wished to impart to the Soviets. They never took him up on his offer. When they ordered him to leave the U.S.S.R he responded by slitting his left wrist. He was rushed to a psychiatric hospital and confined there, still waiting for the Soviets to take him seriously. He was then released.

From Melanson's “Spy Saga”. After waiting several days for the soviets to make up their mind, Oswald decided to take action. He went to the American Embassy in Moscow where he denounced the U.S., praised the U.S.S.R., and stated that he wanted to renounce his U.S. citizenship. He also made another, very dramatic announcement: he stated that he had offered to give the Soviets radar secrets that he had learned in the Marines from his time in Atsugi, where he was privy to U2 flights information. In addition to U2 data, Oswald had access to a wealth of secrets concerning radio communications codes, radar installations and aircraft deployment in the western United States. He did all of this, likely knowing that the U.S. Embassy was bugged by the Soviets and every word he said would be recorded and analyzed.

He worked in a factory, where he joined the gun club. Their chief activity was rabbit hunting, during which he was never able to even hit one. He was a miserable marksman, as he had been in the U.S. Marines, where he was flagged a number of times for completely missing his targets.

In March 1961, Oswald met Marina Nikolayevna Prusakova, a 19-year-old pharmacology student; they married less than six weeks later in April. The Oswalds' first child, June, was born on February 15, 1962. On May 24, 1962, Oswald and Marina applied at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for documents enabling her to immigrate to the U.S. and, on June 1, the U.S. Embassy gave Oswald a repatriation loan of $435.71. Oswald, Marina, and their infant daughter left for the United States, where they received no attention from the press, much to Oswald's disappointment.

Oswald's defection was never assessed by the U.S. intelligence community, a fact that came out during the Warren Commission's investigation. What is usually done with all defections, especially those of government and military people, is that a damage assessment is done. Not in his case, though.

After 2 ½ years he had returned to the U.S. This was after renouncing his U.S. citizenship, and announcing that he was going to give away secrets. Instead of locking him up as a traitor, the U.S. gladly accepted him back. He was debriefed in The Netherlands, but the CIA has no record of that...or so they told the Warren Commission. They told the commission that he was just another tourist, with nothing special to attract their attention. This seems more than a little suspicious. Defecting? Giving away secrets? What would he have to have done, put up a billboard?

What did the State Department do? They gave him money to travel back to the U.S. and once more make himself at home. They paid all of his travel and moving expenses, including those of his Russian wife Marina Prusakova, and their baby daughter June. He was given back his passport with no restrictions on his future travels. His wife was exempted from the usual immigration quotas.


Back in the U.S.A.


Once back in Dallas, he became cozy with his new mentor, George de Mohrenschildt, a right wing Russian with CIA ties, and a long association with the family of Jackie (Bouvier) Kennedy. She used to call him “Uncle George” as she sat on his knee as a child.

This was the start of Oswald's new modus operandus, making himself very public in Dallas and New Orleans as a leftist. This was in spite of all of his future associations with right wing interests. First he started a one-man “Fair Play for Cuba” front operation in New Orleans...one that, in fact, never operated and never had another member. In all of his time in the two cities, he never made contact with anyone from the Communist Party, or any other left organization. However he did write lots of letters to the Communist Party and the Socialist Worker's Party.

Parenti says “He blazed a trail...fist fights, inflammatory incidents, leaflets.” One of the leaflets shows that his organization was in the very same building that FBI agent Guy Bannister had his office, 544 Camp Street. Other Cuban organizations were also there. Oswald's personal relations were, in fact, with right wing, anti-communist Cubans and with others of that same ilk that were linked to the CIA and intelligence community. He only portrayed himself as a leftist.

In Dallas he worked at a welding company, then at a graphic arts firm where he worked as a photoprint technician. In the latter capacity he had the opportunity to forge identity documents. He was fired in April, 1963 because of a bad temper with fellow employees, some of whom were suspicious of his reading Russian language literature.

In March 1963, Oswald purchased a 6.5 mm caliber Carcano rifle by mail-order, using the alias "A. Hidell” as well as a .38 caliber revolver by the same method. The Warren Commission concluded that on April 10, 1963, Oswald attempted to kill retired U.S. Major General Edwin Walker, firing his rifle at Walker through a window, from less than 100 feet (30 m) away, as Walker sat at a desk in his home; the bullet struck the window-frame and Walker's only injuries were bullet fragments to the forearm.This incident is further evidence that Oswald was a lousey shot...or that he only intended to further his "leftist" cover by attempting to kill a very right wing person.

He next returned to New Orleans, then spent some time in Mexico. On October 2, 1963, Oswald left Mexico City by bus and arrived in Dallas the next day. On October 14, a neighbor told Ruth Paine that there was a job opening at the Texas School Book Depository. He was interviewed at the Depository and was hired there on October 16. Oswald's supervisor, Roy Truly said that Oswald "did a good day's work" and was an above average employee. During the week, Oswald stayed in a Dallas rooming house (under the name "O.H. Lee"),, but he spent his weekends with Marina in Irving. Oswald did not drive, but commuted to and from Dallas on Mondays and Fridays with his friend and co-worker, Wesley Frazier. On October 20, the Oswalds' second daughter was born.

Oswald visited the Dallas FBI office about 2 to 3 weeks before the assassination, asking to see Special Agent James Hosty; told Hosty was unavailable, Oswald left a note that, according to the receptionist, read: "Let this be a warning. I will blow up the FBI and the Dallas Police Department if you don’t stop bothering my wife" [signed] "Lee Harvey Oswald."

In the days before Kennedy's arrival, several newspapers described the route of the presidential motorcade as passing the Book Depository. On November 21 (a Thursday) Oswald asked Frazier for an unusual mid-week lift back to Irving, saying he had to pick up some curtain rods. The next morning (Friday) he returned to Dallas with Frazier; he left behind $170 and his wedding ring, but took with him a paper bag. Frazier reported that Oswald told him the bag contained curtain rods. The evidence demonstrated that the package actually contained the rifle used by Oswald in the assassination.

Day of the assassination


According to Wikepedia, Oswald's co-worker, Charles Givens, testified to the Commission that he last saw Oswald on the sixth floor of the Depository with a clipboard in his hand, and that Oswald asked him to close the elevator gate and to send the elevator back up to him. He believed that his encounter with Oswald took place at 11:55 a.m.—35 minutes before the assassination. The Commission report stated that Oswald was not seen again "until after the shooting.” However, in an FBI report taken the day after the assassination, Givens said that the encounter took place at 11:30 a.m. and that he later saw Oswald reading a newspaper on the first floor at 11:50 a.m. Oswald's boss, William Shelley, also testified that he saw Oswald on the first floor between 11:45 and 11:50 a.m. Janitor Eddie Piper also testified to seeing Oswald on the first floor at 12:00 p.m. Another co-worker, Bonnie Ray Williams was on the sixth floor of the Depository eating his lunch and was there until at least 12:10 p.m. He said that during that time he did not see Oswald, or anyone else, on the sixth floor and felt he was the only one up there.

We are asked to believe that the fatal shot was not fired when the Kennedy motorcade was coming down Houston Street, straight at the Texas School Book Depository when Oswald would have had a full view of Kennedy's torso, chest and head. It is claimed that he instead waited until the motorcade had made a 110 degree turn up Elm Street when he only had a shot at the back of the president's head and a bit of his one shoulder, and this was obscured by a tree (which was later cut down).

Then, firing through the branches of a tree he rapidly got off three shots in 4.5 seconds. Again, this was with a bolt action rifle carbine. Cycling the bolt on such a rifle and restoring his grip with his finger on the trigger in such a short time was a feat only able to be duplicated by experienced marksmen after much practice.

Even then, it is known that the scope on Oswald's rifle was badly out of line and had to be corrected before the experts could hit anything with it.Connelly testified that when his head was facing about 20 degrees left of center, he was hit in his upper right back by a bullet he did not hear fired.

We are asked to believe that the fatal bullet went through Kennedy, paused in mid-air for two seconds (as indicated by an analysis of the Zapruder film) and then wounded John Connelly in two places. It then supposedly fell out of Connelly and came to rest in the stretcher on which was laying after the incident.

While we are delving into questionable aspects of the assassination investigation, it must be said that 21 witnesses and others with relevant information died violent deaths without testifying to the Warren Commission. Then in 1978, the second round, 16 more violent killings took place, including the murder of George deMohrenschildt himself . He was killed by a gun blast to the head three hours after a House assassination committee investigator had tried to contact him to set up an interview. Incidentally, he was a close friend of George H. W. Bush, who was in his address book that was on his person at the time of the murder.

These are the salient points in any consideration of the facts of the case. The most important potential criminal investigation of the Twentieth Century was not pursued with the vigor and determination that an ordinary bank heist would have warranted. To this very day, all we will hear in the popular media are nostalgic memories of the Kennedy era, well known recounts of the assassination, and dismissals of any reference to the most blatantly unprosecuted murder of any world leader ever known.

In my mind, it seems obvious that Oswald was a mere patsy, a red herring used to divert attention from a State Crime Against Democracy. I'll leave the discussion of reasons why Kennedy was murdered, and who did the deed for another time. I do, however, recommend the book Legacy of Secrecy by Thom Hartman. View a video of him discussing its contents HERE.



1. Philip Melanson Spy Saga – Melanson was University of Massachusetts Chancellor Professor of Policy Studies http://www.ctka.net/melanson.html

2. Lee Harvey Oswald in Russia; Peter Vronsky 1991 – is a Canadian author, filmmaker and investigative historian. first Westerner ever to interview Oswald's friends, lovers and acquaintances in Russia. He holds a Ph. D in criminal justice history and espionage in international relations from the University of Toronto. http://www.russianbooks.org/cv.htm

3. JFK assassination Mp3 downloads at



30 –

Nov.1, 2013

I had a dream last night



I woke up in the wee hours of this morning, drank the rest of my nighttime tea and fell back asleep. A dream unfolded for me. I was in Europe, in France, I think. The group I was touring with happened to be at a country cultural fair somewhere near the sea. As I am wont to do in such situations, I drifted away from the group and wandered about. I caught the tail end of a dance troupe's performance, then wandered a bit more. Upon returning to the area where the dance had taken place, I saw that some people were cleaning up where quite a bit of dirt had accumulated on the dance floor.

I joined in to help out. Not knowing the language, I didn't ask what to do. I just grabbed a stiff bristled push broom and started sweeping the dirt toward the sea. Then waves began to wash over the area, cleaning it up for us. As I backed away from the activity, I bumped into a lad in his late teens who smiled and met my eyes with a warm gaze. We hugged, and he indicated that I should follow him. Pointing to himself, he said what I assumed to be his name, “Emon.” I said, “My name is Jim.”

We boarded a train, and rode to I know not where, sitting side by side, shoulder to shoulder. Then we disembarked in a village where I followed him to a dwelling. Entering in, we were greeted by a small group of young people whom I assumed lived there. We had tea and some food, and I began to feel a drugged sleep washing over me. Turning to look where Emon had been, I found that he was nowhere to be seen.

The rest of the group sort of herded me into a small room, where I found myself sitting on a bench. The next thing I knew, I was restrained and a menacing mechanism of whirring pulleys and belts was descending around my head.

Terrified, I yelled, “But I hate war. During the Vietnam war I protested against it and got beaten by the police for my troubles. I got kicked out of college. After that, I rejected everything that America was doing. My whole life, I've tried to teach people what is right, and how evil things are in my country.”

The group beamed with happiness. Suddenly we could understand each other's words. Together we went to a nearby port, where naval ships were loaded with soldiers headed off to war. We had an intense discussion about the plight of the world, and America's role in it all. I pledged to return to my home country, and continue to be part of the resistance to the evil. They wished me well, and we parted with blessings all around.

That is when I awoke to my alarm clock, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and sat down with my mug of coffee to write this before the memory faded.

— 30

Sept. 23, 2013

What a summer it has been!

The summer of 2013 is officially over. I haven't written much, just a couple of Namekagon Notebook posts since our last snowstorm in the middle of May. My excuses for not putting pen to paper, aside from the fact that I use neither to write my blog, have ranged from a tornado touch down in my back yard to getting on with finishing the house Dave and I have been building for nigh unto 13 years.

Yes, there really was a tornado right here on little, unpaved Ryan's Lane in Grand View, Wisconsin. Whew! You talk about cutting it close. On August 26 the half mile of dirt road that leads up to my house was devastated by what I can only conclude was an F1 tornado, which scrambled at least 100 trees every which way. Basswoods were blown over with root balls pointed skyward, huge thick aspens twisted like wrung out wash cloths, and maples snapped off everywhere.

That happened at 9 o'clock on a Monday night. At about 10:30 pm we deemed it safe enough to take our badly shaken pooch Janus out to survey the damage by the beams of flashlights. Aside from one big tree down in the front yard, and numerous big branches impaled on the lawn, it didn't seem too bad at first. Then we walked down the driveway and looked up and down Ryan's Lane.

Woah! What a mess, and it seemed to have let up just a few hundred feet away. But, further down the lane it was solid trees laying across the road. With nothing else to do, we called Bayfield Electric Cooperative to report our obvious outage and decided to get some sleep, even though we knew there was yet another severe storm cell a few hours away. With the lights out, what else were we to do?

Sleep didn't come easy, but it did arrive. But then a few hours later we awoke to the sound of chain saws and heavy equipment. Surprisingly, our heroic Town of Grand View road crew was out there with chain saws, a skip loader, a big dump truck and a crew cab pickup truck. Moving very quickly, they had a path cleared to allow sufficient clearance for emergency vehicles and the electric company's equipment to get through in short order.

Shortly thereafter, the second storm walloped the area. Sleeping a few more hours, we arose at sunrise on Tuesday to get a better look at the storm damage. Mein gott, as Grandma Meyer used to say. I'd never seen anything like it in my 30 years here in the Chequamegon National Forest. It had obviously not been a straight line wind event. The term “scrambled eggs” comes to mind.

Trotting out the generator, we knew this would be a multi-day electric outage. And it was, but not as bad as I might have imagined. In spite of the fact that three nearby electric poles were snapped right off, the utility company crews had our power restored right before sunset on Thursday. No complaints here. Those guys and gals sure earned their pay, let me tell you.

It turns out that the funnel cloud had hopped, skipped and jumped around our part of southern Bayfield County, Wisconsin. It touched down near Cable, then Lake Owen, Diamond Lake, our side of Lake Knotting, and a few miles away at Atkins Lake. This certainly was one for the record books. Needless to say, I won't have to go far to gather firewood for the next few years.

And now for the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say

Our house building project is nearing completion. Begun in the year 2000 at the start of the new millennium, we have been building a 3 ½ story concrete block house from scratch. Details will be available when I write my next book, but suffice it to say that the building weighs an estimated 180 tons, every bit of which Dave and I lifted several times over.

Designed to be super energy efficient, not to mention durable, it was comforting to sit out our recent storm in it. I'm at the point of hooking up the plumbing. Like everything else I've done, this has been a learning experience. I'll sure be able to write about plenty of mistakes that people can avoid.

Mixed in with that monumental effort, I've still managed to keep on with creative endeavors too. I haven't completely given up on this blog. Between the two blizzards in May I wrote “In defense of a phrase: 'conspiracy theory'”, which got me kicked off of Daily KOS. (Apparently founder Markos Moulitsas Zúniga isn't all that liberal.) In June I wrote “The NSA whistle blower offered asylum: Iceland parliament offers to help; and in July it was “Syria is next”.

For sheer enjoyment, nothing beats music as far as I'm concerned. Not just listening to it, either. I have resumed playing the guitar after a nearly 30 year hiatus. Alternating between my steel string acoustic Martin D35 and a newly acquired Peavey Raptor electric stratocaster knockoff, I have embarked upon a journey through the plethora of guitar lessons available on the Internet. I'm happy to report that my muscles remember what to do. I'm re-learning at a pretty quick rate.

Blues is my specialty. I've always loved that musical genre for its grit and true life imagery. Given a couple of years of intense learning and practice, I hope to be up to performing before live audiences. You might say that when I grow up, I'd like to be a rock 'n' roller. Heck, I'm only 63 years old...plenty of time left.

On top of everything else, I maintain my intense interest in things political. Since the late 1960s, when I protested against the war in Vietnam, the nuclear submarine radio control station in Clam Lake called Project ELF, and racial prejudice, yours truly has been an enthusiastic trouble maker. I was even in the vanguard of LGBT awareness.

My current focus is on the fantastic community of Ojibwa Indians, environmentalists and progressives in general who are waging an impassioned battle to save the Penokee Hills from becoming the world's largest open pit iron mine. Believe it or not, the most active current element of America's occupy movement is here in northwest Wisconsin.

While I am still tied up with the house building project and gathering next winter's firewood, my contribution to the anti-mining effort has been, sadly, limited to writing about it. It is a great story that is unfolding right here, right now. Stay tuned for my next Namekagon Notebook, when I'll share what I have learned about it with you, gentle readers.






November 18, 2014


Thin Ice: A Cautionary Tale…

By Jim Bailey

I seldom write about myself in the first person. It’s normally my job to write about others, those who are in the news or, often, people who are active in the business community.

But, each year when the calendar marks the end of November, I feel compelled to share this story from my past.

Around Thanksgiving time in 1975 the weather turned really cold, with temperatures plummeting into the single digits. Unusual in my hometown, Kenosha, which is as far south as you can get in Wisconsin.

It was the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving. Customarily, the scout troop of which I was the leader would meet each week on that night. But, because it was the night before the Thanksgiving holiday, we didn’t. As it turned out, we needed to assemble anyway because I had to call out the 60 or so kids of Troop 462 to help with a search mission.

I was also a member of the Scout Leaders Rescue Squad, the very first volunteer rescue squad in Wisconsin. Over the decades, the squad had taken part in many search and rescue operations, so it was natural for the Kenosha Police Department to mobilize us when three children from a north side elementary school didn’t get home for supper.

Before rolling out with the rescue squad, I called key adults on Troop 462’s committee to get the kids together and report to the Wade Real Estate Agency. It was in this small building on Birch Road that the search was coordinated.

A newly developed subdivision, the north side area of Kenosha had once been comprised of farm fields, wood lots and wetlands. As the streets were carved out and cookie cutter homes constructed, the wetlands were filled until little of them remained except a pond right behind the real estate office.

Hundreds of people fanned out over the area of more than five square miles, looking for the missing tykes. The searchers knocked on doors of homes, peered into open garages and poked around in unlocked places like multiplex apartment basements with shared washing machines and dryers.

Nearly three hours passed with no results. In sheer frustration, I decided to re-check the small pond right behind the office building where we were coordinating the search.

Donning my winter coat and hat, I asked a fellow member of the rescue squad to pull his jeep around in back and turn on the vehicle’s rooftop bar of off-road lights.

Everyone assumed that someone else had looked back there. Apparently, nobody had. I edged out onto the thin coat of ice little by little for about 20 feet when, suddenly, I broke through and plunged into the frigid water.

A few feet away from me a small arm protruded through the ice.

My buddy with the jeep reeled out some winch cable and threw it to me. He activated the mechanism as I clung to the hook at the end of the line, extricating me.

I was then treated for shock and hypothermia, while the search crew recovered three small bodies. It was all over…for us. The families of those three children mourned their way through the “holiday” season.

I can’t forget it, and I don’t want to. By the side of the dirt road leading to my house in Grand View is a small pond. It skins over with a thin coat of ice long before the lakes freeze up here in the Chequamegon National Forest. I walk my dog past it every day. Right now, a small stone tossed upon its ice will skitter along until it stops. However, a larger rock the size of a baseball will plunge right through that same ice.

Parents, teachers, grandparents and preachers, please caution the children of our communities to never venture out upon any ice-covered pond, lake or stream without adult supervision.

Tragedies can be avoided! Even adults need to carefully evaluate ice conditions before venturing out upon it. If you are unsure about the safety of the ice on a body of water, check with local authorities, people who live nearby, sporting goods dealers in the area…maybe all of the above.

When risking passage upon new ice, try to have an observer on the shore. A coil of rope with loops tied in both ends is a good accompaniment to the safety observer, as is a cell phone.

Finally, keep your eyes open. If there is plainly a trail out upon the ice, stay on it. If there are others out there engaged in recreational pursuits, that’s a good sign.

Conversely, if there is no evidence of previous foot travel, be suspicious. With the number of winter sports enthusiasts in this neck of the woods, if the ice is usable, it will be in use. If not, be patient. Wait for a really good cold spell to consolidate the ice. A few nights of single digit temperatures help a lot.

— 30 —





October 9, 2014 (originally posted on Oct. 29, 2012)

Voting and class consciousness


Right wing (a.k.a. Tea Party) and Libertarian thinkers frequently say “Get the government off of my back, there are too many rules and regulations.” [BREAKING NEWS FROM HUFFINGTON POST: Supreme Court Blocks Wisconsin Voter ID Law]

Why would this extreme conservative group suddenly insist on more regulations when it comes to the hoops we make certain people jump through in order to vote?

The answer to that question is a list of people to whom said regulations would adversely apply: senior citizens, single mothers, people of color, students and the poor lower classes. In other words, everybody likely to vote in their own societal and individual interests.

There's the answer to the question of why neo-conservatives have manipulated the general population into taking up positions unpopular with thinking, class conscious individuals.

Yeah, I said it: class consciousness. You can bet that the rich and powerful are all too aware of social class dynamics. They are also aware of the century old art of wielding propaganda through which to program their legions.

But those same upper class folks scream bloody murder when we try to put the pinch on them to feed the kitty. But, hey, the kitty is really hungry right now. Why make the broad mass of people suffer while the men in the shadows roll the dice of our lives, set the price of our lives and, ultimately, laugh all the way to the bank?

Please vote in your own enlightened self interest. We can together make the best lives for the greatest number of people.

If I may call upon a familiar image...what would Jesus do? He would feed the masses, lift up the Samaritan, heal the sick, comfort the afflicted and teach the children. Here we come upon the imperative need to throw the money changers out of the temple.

Can we as society do any less? We could. We could do a lot less. But, we could also do a lot more. We could at least come up to the level of our fellow A-list first world countries like Canada, Norway, Germany and England.

They are also suffering from the crash of 2007. The whole world is, but they still have the common sense to take reasonably good care of the citizenry, keeping their military activities from dragging whole countries over a cliff like the U.S.A. They all have kept up their social safety nets, their universal health care and public education enduring.

How do they do it? Everybody feeds the kitty. Like I said, kitty is very hungry right now, just like after the First Great Depression and World War 2. Back then, those who had lots of money were expected to kick in and take care of the working men and women who made them rich, first adding value to their products, and then buying those same products.

Those rich tightwads were squeezed until they felt the pinch, just like the little guy. Now is your chance to vote to make them feed the kitty once more. After 30 years of extraordinary wealth buildup at the top of the heap, it is only fair to take care of those whose wages have been stagnant for that same 30 years.

It is important to get out and  vote next month. Spread the word about the need for advance voter registration. Make signs. Stand on street corners. Write letters to the editor of local newspapers. Knock on doors. We can't let the Republicans take control of the Senate.

— 30 —






September 11, 2014  (Originally posted Sept. 7, 2011)




Marking the tenth anniversary of the 911 tragedy in New York City, we will be filled to bursting with patriotic fervor by our media. A friend just sent me a Power Point presentation of over 150 photographs from before, during, and after the destruction of the twin towers known as the World Trade Center. It was created to tug at the heart strings, but I don't buy it.

It is said, and I do agree, that nothing in America will ever be the same again. For that matter, nothing on Earth will ever be the same again, for on that fateful day the slow motion collapse of humanity was kicked into gear. As in The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, we were launched into a permanent war status.

A bunker mentality now rules the most powerful military nation on Earth. We were attacked, we are told, in a fit of rage by those who hate our freedoms. So, we send our young men and women off to kill with abandon anyone who we perceive to be tainted by otherness.

It is them. They did this to us. Us. We, with our big hearts and love of democracy. It is inconceivable that we should be so despised. Why? Why?

I'll tell you why. It is because we are taught from infancy that we are separate from and better than the rest of humanity. The red, white, and blue. That is who you are, little ones. Salute the flag. Pledge your allegiance to it.

I am now 61 years old, born of parents who survived World War 2. My father was a medical corpsman aboard a troop transport ship in the Pacific. He took fresh faced boys over to fight and brought back corpses, the wounded and the merely traumatized. His entire adult life was molded by that experience, and the sadness never left him.

I know very well a man whom I greatly respect. He is a veteran of the United States of America's war with Vietnam, where he was badly wounded. That experience has shaped his life. It is a testament to his love of a good woman that he has endured with head held high. He says that he is not proud of what he had to do, but he is not ashamed of it either.

He and all men and women like him are victims of patriotism. So deep and wide is our brain training that to even question the virtue, the validity of patriotism itself, is taboo. We sing patriotic songs at sporting events. We salute flags at parades and pow-wows. We ooh and ah at the thundering overflight of fighter jets. We thrust out our collective chests during election times, nodding in agreement with the talking heads on TV as they proudly speak of our democratic freedoms.

What have we gotten for all of this fervor? Quaker Tony White puts it this way. “Patriotism clouds our judgment; it hinders objectivity and detracts from our ability to assess political situations rationally. Patriotism biases us toward our country's perspective, encumbering our desire and ability to consider outside perspectives. Patriotism breeds conformity and closed-mindedness. Furthermore, it makes us overly trusting of those in power over us, and susceptible to abuses of power.”

I beg of you, dear reader, to ponder those words. We are humans. We are citizens of Earth. Divided by pundits who draw lines in the sand, our love of community is fragmented by those who would profit from our gullibility. Our economy is sapped by these vampires. They suck our life blood to enrich their coffers.

We march proudly to our doom, spurred on by national pride. It is the oldest of deceptions. The very first nation states made war upon each other. Greeks and Persians and Romans fought. Europeans crusaded, made war upon each other, and came to the New World to invade and destroy Native Americans.

Divide and conquer is a devilish strategy. We as humans are kept divided in order that we should be kept docile. We live, work, and die, grist for the mill. There is a war, alright. It is a war conducted by the elite class upon the rest of us.

There is enough for all. Without the war machinery, humanity could be well fed, educated and healthy. We could live in peace and joy. This is what every human wants deep down inside. Why do we put up with this madness?

We make our own enemies. Like a six-foot bully, we goad a little child into kicking us, and then murder it. We cry, we were attacked! Our reaction is justified!

People, people, people. We MUST pay attention to the man behind the curtain. He is evil.


— 30 —



May 7, 2015 (originally posted 1/23/14)


The demise of liberalism


(Based on 'Death of the Liberal Class' by Chris Hedges)

There have traditionally been six pillars of the liberal movement in America.

  • Universities and colleges

  • Churches

  • The Democratic Party

  • The press

  • Popular culture

  • Labor

It is easy to make the case that all six have been entirely taken over by big money. They have had their teeth pulled, been marginalized, or have been completely taken over by the 1%.

The institutions of higher learning used to be hotbeds of liberal thought. I was in college during the height of the Vietnam War, and the school was steeped in anti-war, racial equality and women's rights action. Now, universities and colleges are increasingly modeled along corporate lines. Unlike the days when a college education could be had at low cost, even no cost in some cases (GI Bill), it now comes with an unhealthy side dish of student debt that isn't even discharchgeable via bankruptcy.

In an article called How the American University Was Killed, In Five Easy Steps, ”this is how you break the evil, wicked, leftist academic class in America.”

(a) First, you defund public higher education.

(b) Second, you deprofessionalize and impoverish the professors (and continue to create a surplus of underemployed and unemployed Ph.D.s).

(c) You move in a managerial/administrative class who take over governance of the university.

(d) You move in corporate culture and corporate money.

(e) Destroy the students:

1.  Dumb down the curriculum.

2. Make a higher education insanely costly, so that the only students who can

graduate debt free are those who were wealthy to begin with.

These days in the political arena the only religious voices being heard are those of the fundamentalist Christians. They are climate change denying mouthpieces for the fossil fuel industry. They hijack the political debate through the use of anti-abortion and anti-LGBT rights stances. Religious broadcasters have turned worship into big business. It is a rare day when you hear from leftist theologians who advocate for compassion.

The Democratic Party has been taken over by big business and wealthy individuals just like the Republican Party has. This has been the case ever since the Democrats achieved corporate fund raising parity with the Republicans during the Clinton years.

Even with Barack Obama in the White House, things have only gotten worse. No bankers went to jail for their criminal activities that derailed our economy in 2007. Health care reform turned into a gift to the health insurance industry. Civil rights have been severely eroded. On the international stage, the U.S.A. has accelerated it's illegal drone strikes against Middle Eastern countries. State legislatures have been hijacked by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a front for the billionaire class.

Where were any prominent Democrats when the Wisconsin Uprising took place? Nowhere to be seen. What about the famous Obama quote?

And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.

All we got out of him was a Tweet on the day before the 2012 recall election.

The press no longer even acknowledges the existence of people power. Newscasts always feature business news. We have a Nightly Business Report. Where is the “daily labor report?” When I was growing up, there was a major radio station in Chicago: WCFL. Those call letters stood for the Chicago Federation of Labor. It no longer exists in that form.

Businesses act in their own self-interests, and in the interests of their shareholders.   Big media companies are businesses -- $360 billion worth.   They want a cultural, labor, legislative, regulatory, and judicial environment that allows them to maximize profits.   But progressive politics are an immediate and tangible threat to their interests.   In what alternate universe would big media companies permit a liberal bias in their own programming?!   'Liberal media bias' is more than a myth -- it's an absurd lie echoing from media corporations themselves, and resonating with the ignorant among us.” http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Myth-of-Liberal-Media-by-Larry-Butler-130428-804.html

My generation remembers protest songs as hallmarks of the times. Popular culture was once a powerful force in the liberal universe. Music, literature, movies, TV shows and art carried powerful messages that bridged the gap between consciousness and reality. The song War by Edwin Starr was probably the most popular protest song of all time in America, reaching the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1970. Other songs, like those of Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and John Lennon dominated the thoughts of the 1960s and '70s youths.

The book Catch 22 by Joseph Heller was so wildly popular that to this day the phrase “catch 22” is embedded in our lexicon. The TV show Mash used tragedy and comedy in a gripping mixture with its message about the stupidity of war. Songs like Free Your Mind by En Vogue, A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke, Blowin' in the Wind by Bob Dylan, Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell, and I Am Woman by Helen Reddy addressed racism, the environment and civil rights.

These days pop culture is all about narcissistic gratification of material desires. That and the gratuitous satisfaction of violence found in video games and movies.

Unions were once the proud voice of labor. I grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin. It was the quintessential manufacturing town. At 7 a.m. We could hear the factory whistles all over town, heralding another day for union employees at American Motors (AMC), Anaconda American Brass, Snap-on Tools, McWhite Wire Rope, Tri-Clover Ladish and Jockey International. On Labor Day, the annual parade included marchers and floats in a mile long procession. The AMC plant alone employed some 8,000 workers, supporting about 25,000 households.

Union membership is about 1/3 of its level during the heydays of the 1950s. The portion of private sector workers in unions fell to just 6.6 percent last year, from 6.9 percent in 2011, causing some labor specialists to question whether private sector unions were sinking toward irrelevance. Private sector union membership peaked at around 35 percent in the 1950s.

The biggest segment of labor union membership is now in the public sector. Teacher's unions have come under particular fire as the move to shift education dollars from public to charter schools has picked up steam. “Right to work” laws have been passed in 24 states. Auto manufacturing plants now pay people about half of what they did when unions were dominant.

All of the above factors have collectively meant the end of the liberal aspect of American society. One in four children live in poverty, and we have the highest prison population in the world. Even our prisons have been privatized. They are now big business.

According to Wikepedia, there are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.”

We are a permanent war culture, with civil rights on the run. I feel that the pendulum must soon begin to swing the other way. As our devastated economy and environment deepens, a new generation of Americans must rise up and take back our land....by any means necessary.

— 30 —


February 1, 2015 (originally posted January 20, 2013)


Population, resources, environment


Much of my environmental education goes back to early writers on the topic. Foremost among them is Paul Erlich, author of The Population Bomb. In this seminal book, Erlich made a case for the fact that, with it's exponentially rising numbers, the human population of planet Earth would of necessity run up against the stumbling block of resource limits.

To put it bluntly, he said that when our numbers rise high enough, we will run out of food, fuel and water. When the book was written in 1968, humanity numbered 3.5 billion people. Now, our population is double that at 7 billion. We are there and, yes, we really are running out of food, fuel and water. These trends will accellerate as the results of our running rampant over the environment pile up with increasing speed.

In his latest book, The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment. Erlich attacks the problem of humanity's effect on the earth's geology itself, and how the feedback loop we are a part of will probably lead to the collapse of civilization due to environmental catastrophe.

Many empires have collapsed before, from the Greeks and Romans to the Spanish and British. All of them collapsed due to resource depletion and the cost of over expansion by military conquest. It is my opinion that the American empire is now in that stage.

The worst part is that we are taking the entire world's civilization down with us. How is this possible? Our dominance over the world's economies began with World War 2. At its end, ours was the only economy in the world that was fully functional.

Not only was it fully functional, it was a powerhouse the likes of which had never before been seen on planet Earth. We went from making hundreds of thousands of autombiles in 1940 to making even larger numbers of tanks, ships and airplanes by 1942. When there was a will to make massive change to our society quickly, we did it. Think of the Manhattan Project. Starting from scratch, we figured out how to make atom bombs and then did it, all within about a three year period.

We are now facing a situation more dire than World War 2. It won't take decades to permanently cripple Earth's climate. It is right now on the tipping point of being a runaway catastrophe. We truly have the ability to destroy the ability to support life on earth as we know it. All we have to do is drive global warming above 2 degrees Celsius. Human dominance over the planet has spawned a series of crises, soaring energy demand, famine and environmental devastation.

To make matters worse, there is a huge reservoir of methane gas frozen in arctic tundra and under the shallow waters of the Arctic Ocean that is now starting to be released. Methane is the same as natural gas and propane. It is also a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2. It is beginning to be released as the arctic warms up and melts. Russian scientists are documenting thousands of methane “chimneys” that are bubbling up off of the coast of Siberia. The same is happening in North American tundra and offshore of Alaska and Canada.

These are not independent crises, and a single response will not serve to cure them. The central theme of The Dominant Animal is stark and profound. It is a tale of how one species, Homo sapiens, (us) has become so powerful and so overbearing that we can truly destroy Earth's ability to support life as we know it. For decades Paul and Anne Earlich have been documenting and warning about humans' effect upon the environment.

Humans must immediately implement a series of radical measures to halt carbon emissions or prepare for the collapse of entire ecosystems and the displacement, suffering and death of hundreds of millions of the globe’s inhabitants, according to a report commissioned by the World Bank. The continued failure to respond aggressively to climate change, the report warns, will mean that the planet will inevitably warm by at least 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, ushering in an apocalypse.

But, don't be deceived into thinking that we have decades in which to act. We don't. Global warming is proceeding much more quickly than it was anticipated just a few years ago. There is a time bomb going off right now without any awareness among our news media. Methane is a gas that is 20 times more powerful than CO2. It is being released in large amounts in the Arctic Ocean and nearby tundra in North America and Russia. This is where the runaway potential comes into play.

It is overwhelmingly important that we quit burning fossil fuels pronto, like YESTERDAY! This is why the extraction of tar sands petroleum must be thwarted. For starters, the Keystone XL pipeline should not be built. The open pit mining of the Alberta tar sands is just foolhardy. The extraction and subsequent burning of the hydrocarbons found there will all by itself seal our environmental fate.

How much carbon do the world’s fossil fuel companies have in their reserves? That number is about 2,800 gigatons of carbon, or about five times the 565 gigatons we can put into the atmosphere and stay below two degrees. For now that coal, oil and gas is still below ground, but economically it’s really above ground. It is on the oil companies' books as assetts. It’s reflected in the share price of Exxon, Shell and the rest. It’s reflected in the budget planning of Nigeria or Kuwait.

The current plan, as announced by the fossil fuel companies and governments of the world, is to drive us way, way, way past the two degree figure. They will do it unless we take drastic measures.

We are capable of changing major elements of our society in a hurry if we have to. From the time the Manhattan Project began until we detonated our first A-bomb was about three years. Similarly, in one year we stopped making cars and re-tooled to make tanks, bombers, and ammunition.

When we found out what CFCs (freon) were doing to the ozone layer, we very quickly found alternatives and switched over to them. Here are things we can do to change the situation:

  • Get birth rate considerations on the same level as death rate – eradicate prejudice against women; make education and birth control easy for them; provide job opportunities; encoureage sexual expression that is not reproductive.

  • Pay more attention to conservation than consumption – don't try to solve economic problems by increasing consumption.

  • Poor people need to be able to vote, so we should do away with things that hinder that, and promote things that make that more likely; i.e. same day voter registration, moving election day to the weekend, and reversing gerrymandering where it occurrs.

  • Pay attention to what technological things do for us, or don't do for us. If a certain product is very important, like a major medical advance, it can be allowed more downside than something like cosmetics or toys.

  • Educate people, beginning with little children. Teach them about ecology, socialism, consumption, history, agriculture.

  • Move away from nation states as a planetary organizing principle.

  • Recognize the need to have ethical discussions about our behavior.


Human societies can change with incredible speed. And, geologically, things don't always go ponderously. Sometimes, climate can change in short times. To quote Erlich, “It can be a decade or so. Methane release is one of the most dangerous things.”

Basic things we need to know:

  • Our history

  • Our dominance over the world – (and dependence on agriculture; transport and fossil fuels have huge impacts on food)

  • Educate leaders in evolution, biology, and climate

Think of the little kids who had nothing to do with this, and the kind of world they will inherit. Will they hate us because we failed to act? How do do we do the work that needs to be done to foster change?

In the long run, Erlich's original premise, which blames the inevitable resource depletion on overpopulation, is still operative. Not only are world population numbers growing rapidly, but so are expectations of higher standards of living. These higher standards inevitably lead to the consumption of more energy and natural resources. Even emigration from poorer countries to richer ones leads to this.

Lastly, I feel that we need to make ignorance of science a thing of the past, especially deliberate ignorance like that of Tea Party Republicans. Any legislator who disavows knowledge of our ongoing environmental crisis should be thrown out of office. It is not a matter of two equally valid sides of a debate. Science does not compromise. Either the earth is flat, or it isn't.

If more of us had listened to Erlich in 1968 we wouldn't be in the mess we are in now. At present, we still have chances to address these issues. These windows of opportunity won't last forever. The petroleum companies cannot be allowed to continue doing business as they are now. They must be nationalized and forced to comply with reality.

We urgently need to instate a crash program that moves us into renewable energy immediately. Funding for our military establishment must be cut to the bone. End wars, bring the troops home, and close bases around the world. Use the money saved to get this job done!

— 30 —
For a real PLAN to move to a US Hydrogen Infrastructure read Ekson Exhilaration HERE
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May 23, 2015 (First Published Nov. 4, 2013)


Book review:

Conspiracy Theory In America


By Lance deHaven-Smith


This is not the first time I've written about the bad rap that the term “conspiracy theory” has gotten here in the land of the free. Back in March I penned a piece entitled In defense of a phrase: conspiracy theory. I posted it on the supposedly liberal blog site, Daily KOS...from which I was promptly banned. Apparently founder Markos Moulitsas Zúniga isn't all that liberal. It is still available on that site but I am no longer allowed to post any contributions there.

Shortly thereafter I heard an interview with Lance deHaven-Smith, author of the book Conspiracy Theory in America. In this book he explores the social and media phenomenon of the excoriation of all references to events such as the assassination of President Kennedy, the toppling of the World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001 and the disputed presidential elections of George W. Bush.

This scholarly work, published by the University of Texas Pres s is not what one might expect, judging by its title. The introduction alone is 24 pages long, which is none too much in setting the logical tone of the chapters that follow. To wit:

Given its title, you might think Conspiracy Theory in America is simply another addition to the long list of books criticizing conspiracy theories. You probably expect the book to blame the popularity of these theories on some flaw in American culture or character. No doubt, you have encountered this view many times, not just in books and magazines but also on radio and television.

Not so. If it is a criticism of anything, it demolishes the tin foil hat image invoked by conspiracy theory debunkers. Being mocked for questioning the cover-up of high crimes is the fate of anybody who has the courage to connect the dots, to put together obvious patterns. The author explains:

This is because most of the criticism directed at conspiracy beliefs is based on sentimentality about America's political leaders and institutions rather than on unbiased reasoning and objective observation. Most authors who criticize conspiracy theories not only disagree with the theories factual claims, they find the ideas [themselves] offensive.

In a nutshell, it is the premise of Conspiracy Theory In America that a compilation of documented facts coupled with a logical interpretation of the pattern that emerges from doing so can be summed up in the concept of State Crimes Against Democracy, or SCADs.

The author is a stickler for logic. He points out simple fallacies, such as false balance. In plain language, this is comparing apples to oranges or, more accurately, comparing the promise of an apple to a bushel full of them.

The visceral reaction to conspiracy theories is understandable. However, it often results in blanket dismissals that treat all conspiracy theories as equally ludicrous and insulting. In fact, conspiracy beliefs vary widely in terms of their supporting evidence and plausibility

deHaven-Smith develops this line of thought by tracing back in time to the first appearance of the phrase “conspiracy theory” in American media. Its first use can be documented as stemming from popular mistrust of the Warren Commission's conclusions as to the facts surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The commission's report was issued in September, 1964. That year, the New York Times printed five stories in which the phrase “conspiracy theory” was used. These days the phrase appears in that newspaper more than 140 times a year.

How did this happen? In the chapter titled The Conspiracy-Theory Conspiracy, our attention is directed to the following facts. Due to inconsistencies in the Warren Commission's report itself, by 1966 public opinion polls started to show that Americans were beginning to reject the report's conclusions. This is when the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began a campaign mocking people's doubts, calling them “conspiracy theories.”

The author documents this by referring to a January, 1967 CIA “dispatch” that was numbered 1035-960, noting that the heading included the notation “PSYCH” and instructions to “destroy when no longer needed.” Their goal was not to promote the commission's report as accurate, but rather to sow doubt in the public's mind about its critics.

At first, conspiracy theories weren't mocked. Today it happens all of the time. People who are suspicious of any government malfeasance are routinely labeled “conspiracy theorists.” At this point, deHaven-Smith builds his case by going down the list of the biggest SCADs in history. The list is impressive.

  • Passage in 1798 of the Sedition Act

  • Election tampering in the 1824 presidential election

  • Manufacturing of a false pretext for war against Mexico resulting in the Mexican-American war of 1824

  • Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln

  • Passage of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, giving corporations the same constitutional protections as persons

  • The disputed presidential election of 1876, when Rutherford B. Hayes was given the presidency by one vote of the Supreme Court

  • Spanish-American war initiated by sinking of the U.S. Battleship Maine in the harbor of Havana, Cuba

  • Purging of leftists from government and business boosting the career of Richard Nixon

  • Assassination of President Kennedy

  • Escalation of the Vietnam conflict into full fledged war based on the false flag Gulf of Tonkin incident

  • Election of President Nixon due to the “October Surprise” of 1968

  • U.S. Government burglary of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office in 1971 to discredit the Pentagon Papers

  • Watergate burglary and wiretapping of Democratic National Headquarters and subsequent cover-up to facilitate Nixon's reelection

  • Attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981

  • Iran-Contra affair of 1984-86 to circumvent arms embargo against Iran in order to fund Nicaraguan Contra terrorists

  • Disputed elections of 2000 and 2004 that first brought George W. Bush into the presidency and then kept him there

  • Events of Sept. 11, 2001 as forerunners of invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq

  • Anthrax letter attacks of 2001

  • Assassination of Senator Paul Wellstone

  • False terror alerts of 2004 that boosted the reelection of President Bush


Author Lance deHaven-Smith solidly builds in Conspiracy Theory In America a case that State Crimes Against Democracy have been committed in America. He uses a scholarly analysis of conspiracy denial in the social sciences. He looks at European philosophers Karl Popper and Leo Strauss, who largely influenced a transformation of U.S. social science, moving it away from the well documented conspiracy beliefs of this country's Founders. These two actually blamed conspiracy theory for totalitarianism in Europe, World War 2, and the Holocaust. He says the following:

Popper is largely responsible for the mistaken idea that conspiracy theories are modern variants of ancient superstitions and nineteenth-century social prejudices. […] For his part, Strauss did not use the term “conspiracy theory,” but he advocated state political propaganda and covert actions to protect a society's traditional beliefs and ongoing illusions about its origins and virtues...

Looking at the conspiracy theory label, the American tradition of conspiracy belief, conspiracy denial in the social sciences, the ironic conspiracy to debunk conspiracy-theory, and his well documented exploration of State Crimes Against Democracy, deHaven-Smith ends up with a discussion of restoring American democracy. It pays to remember, he says, that the U.S.A. was established as a nation of laws, and that these shouldn't just apply to its citizens. These laws should apply to government as well.

Ask the basic question of crime investigation: Qui bono? Who benefits? This is the question that should have been asked from Day One.

Conspiracy Theory In America is an excellent presentation, logical and well documented. Do pick it up and see for yourself.

— 30 —





November 30, 2011


An Explosion of Creativity

Spawned by Computers


When I took the dog out to greet the morn today, I thanked the Creator for another day of life on this planet with those I love. Than I sat down to my computer. “Here we go,” I thought. “The sun is up, I've got my coffee, and I'm ready to write.”

Writing is the wellspring of my creativity. It's like breathing. I couldn't live without it. Even when I address topics that are serious, sometimes brutal, I still enjoy the writing and sharing my thoughts with you, the reader.

While I could imagine writing this with pen and paper, I can't imagine sharing it with you so easily without the Internet and my computer. I'm a photographer, too. Here's a shot I took yesterday while walking Janus down by Lake Nothing. Poof, it is there before you on your computer screen, brought to you with all the magic of a Star Trek transporter.

There was a day when I used to send film down to the Milwaukee Journal on a Greyhound Bus. It got there in 24 hours, then they had to develop it and choose which shot to use. No way to query me about who was in it or a background detail. I just sent them the film and the information about the pictures on a wing and a prayer.

Computers, the Internet and the digital age have made for an explosion of creativity. People used to be limited by their wallets when deciding how many pictures to take. The only ways to share them were either to have prints made from negatives, or to have them published.

These days, everyone is a photographer. Digital imaging is forgiving. You can look at the picture as soon as you have taken it. If it's not right, just take another. Or Photoshop it. Back in the days when I ran a darkroom at work, I spent long hours carefully developing black and white negatives, and then making prints with an enlarger. There were techniques that only a select few photo nuts knew with which to darken an area that was too light, or the vice versa; to crop a picture; to soften the focus or superimpose one image on another.

Now, “to Photoshop” is a verb, just like “to Google”. Do you want to know some quick fact, say how to spell Greyhound? Is it gray or is it grey? Google it. In a split second you'll get your answer. Often the search result is sufficient. No need to even follow the link. In this case, I went to a site called grayorgrey.com. For goodness sake, is there no end to the answers I can get? This is in itself addicting. But, it's also educational. Now I know “It is spelled grAy in America, and grEy in England”. Clever. And, I'll never forget it, either.

All of the arts have benefited from the computer and the Internet. Music is another example. There has been an explosion in that field. Hundreds of thousands of people are making music these days. I do it myself. When I decided to delve into it, I found a program called Mixcraft that puts a recording studio in my hands. I downloaded a free trial version and used it for a couple of months, testing it a bit. Called a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), it is an entire virtual recording studio, and a cheap one at that. For $69 I got the full version and I was off and running. With just a microphone, an inexpensive Yamaha keyboard, and a guitar I crafted a song that a friend of mine wrote and sang. We even copyrighted it with  the Library of Congress . . . on-line, of course.

You can hear it while viewing the video on this website. (Hint, turn up the bass.) Just go to the Main Menu and click on Home. This is a website that I made with open source software called Joomla, which I downloaded for free. Then I made the video with Windows Movie Maker, a free program that is built into the Windows operating system. The video is also on YouTube and Vimeo. On and on it goes. I learned all of this with the help of on-line forums, where the answers are all there if I ask the right questions.

Computers are a fount (or is it font?) of creativity and education. Without them, the Internet would not exist. Without the Internet, there would be no social media. It's not just [f]Facebook I'm talking about. There is YouTube for everyman, and Vimeo for those who are really into video creation.

What many folks overlook is the fact that these are interactive websites, especially Vimeo. The latter is for a very large community of film makers. Or should I say videographers? Vimeo is a showcase for original works, a video making school, a forum for sharing knowledge, and even a way of organizing video festivals.

Our interactive, computer-filled world, far from reducing literacy, actually has increased it. Oh, I know, in some ways it has contributed to a downgrading of language use. There is a profusion of the ever present use of Textlish. You know, tnx instead of thanks, r u ok? instead of are you OK? In some ways, though, it is actually the birthing of a new language.

Textlish is also a code, intelligible only to the initiated. There are little pictographs made with letters and other QWERTY keyboard symbols. Of course, there is the ubiquitous smiley face :), or :-), or :-D . On and on they go. From a heart <3 to the more gross fart F<3 to the more elaborate <(ovo)> (which I just now created).

It gets more interesting yet. How about converting text to Morse code? The previous sentence would then be .... --- .-- .- -... --- ..- - -.-. --- -. ...- . .-. - .. -. --. - . -..- - - --- -- --- .-. ... . -.-. --- -.. . ..--.. No kidding. There's a site for that. How to find it? Just Google “convert text to printable Morse code” and you will find http://www.onlineconversion.com/morse_code.htm . Or, if you would you like to make the Morse code into a sound that can be played on your computer (a WAV file to the initiated) go to http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/fileexchange/7791 . Try looking up a binary code converter, you know, the basis of all computing. The phrase “basis of all computing” would then be 011000100110000101110011011010010111001100100000011011110110011000100000011000010



I once got a message like that on [f]Facebook. I was a bit puzzled, but quickly found this site http://www.roubaixinteractive.com/PlayGround/Binary_Conversion/Binary_To_Text.asp It is a fun trick to play on your [f] friends.

It can get really addicting, this ability to find the answer to almost any question through the use of a search engine, of which there are many more than just Google. Although Google, Bing, and Yahoo are the big three, the first one I ever used was Alta Vista with the Windows 95 platform. There are many more customized search engines, though. Find a list of them at http://www.thesearchenginelist.com/ One that's kind of fun is omgili, which stands for “Oh my God, I love it”. It is a search engine specific to forum topics.

This Internet thing is the greatest library the human race has ever known. It connects us all to one another in a way never seen before. Language translation is available from the simple Google Translate to various professional services.

And yes, I know, there is also rubbish galore on the Internet. One can even waste a lot of time using a computer without being on-line. From the very beginning there have been games like Solitaire and Minesweeper. There are violent video games and pornography around. Such is the scope of the human mind.

Nonetheless, lives are changed. One of my best friends has been blind since birth. He's adept at Braille, the language of little bumps arranged in squares created to be read with the fingertips. He is also a musician, and was happy as a clam when Rolling Stone magazine came out with a Braille edition for a while. That ended, but scanners combined with programs that read text aloud came to pass a while later. Now the blind can read anything. See what I mean?

Sometimes I despair over the fate of the human race. It seems like our world is collapsing in a big pile of rubble due to greed, hatred and violence. Our infrastructure is getting old, and the money to fix it is used up by war and pointless consumerism.

But I also realize that we are on the cusp of a new age of mankind. Young and old people alike are able to put their minds together to solve problems. This new explosion of creativity is a double-edged sword. Which way will it cut? I have to think that clever, generous, well meaning folks will triumph over the greedy, selfish, power crazed types who just don't get it.

Here is a post by Laura Priebe that I copied from [f]Facebook. "There is a synergy among artists, local arts organizations, and creative communities where each fosters and sustains the other,” says arts scholar Bill Cleveland, director of the Center for the Study of Art and Community. “Artists bring money to their neighborhoods, knit the community together, and increase its capacity to overcome economic challenges."

Challenges are there, but so are solutions.

— 30 —


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November 23, 2011



I come late in the game to the works of author Bill McKibben. He has written more than a dozen books since he first published The End of Nature in 1989. Thanks to my local public radio station, WOJB-FM, I recently was inspired to read eaarth , the most recent of his string of remarkable volumes.

The fundamental principle that he espouses in this book is that our idea of geologic climate change is based on a flawed assumption.  It is commonly believed that it takes millions of years for changes to occur to our planet's climate and the ecosystem that depends on it. In this, his latest book, he makes the case that mankind's activities can indeed alter earth's climate, and that in fact we already have altered it profoundly in a very short time.

McKibben is the founder of the organization 350.org. The number “350” refers to parts-per-million of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth's atmosphere, the number which we must not go above. This goal is nothing less than the saving of human civilization. Saving it from what, you ask? From being ravaged by the consequences of global warming. So what? A couple of degrees warmer. Big deal.

Yes, it is a big deal. A very big deal. In the first half of eaarth the case made by McKibben is based on hard science by unbiased, top ranked organizations such as NASA , the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Summary of findings: Through analysis of rock and ice samples we know that since human civilization began, atmospheric levels of CO2 have averaged about 275 parts per million (ppm). This is the status quo that we have always been used to. It is this level at which the conditions of the last 2,000 years have allowed for the stable climate, the backdrop against which we have built everything we know.

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution when we began burning large amounts of coal and petroleum, we've been adding about 2 ppm to the atmosphere per year. We now are at 390 ppm of CO2.

Already the worlds oceans are warming up and getting more acidic. Glaciers are melting, adding large volumes of non-saline water into the oceans. We are on the brink of altering our climate irreversibly. And that is just the tip of the iceberg (pardon the pun).

Lurking just around the corner is a sneaky devil called methane, a potent greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than CO2. There are vast amounts of it locked up in arctic permafrost and the ocean depths.The following quote is not from McKibben's book. I've called it into play in order to augment the points that I wish to make in conjunction with this review. It is excerpted from the website Think Global Green (see link).

Many climate scientists think that the frozen Arctic tundra is a ticking time bomb in terms of global warming, because it holds vast amounts of methane. Over thousands of years the methane has accumulated under the ground at northern latitudes all around the world, and has effectively been taken out of circulation by the permafrost acting as an impermeable lid. But as the permafrost begins to melt in rising temperatures, the lid may open with potentially catastrophic results.” http://www.thinkglobalgreen.org/METHANE.html

During the early Cenozoic Era, when atmospheric CO2 was at 450 ppm, ocean levels were 200 feet higher than they are now. That is because the atmospheric carbon kept the planet sufficiently warm that there were no polar ice caps or glaciers. We face this reality as a possibility during the lifetime of our children.

McKibben's premise in eaarth is that we are already at the point of no return, where some amount of these climactic changes is a certainty. It will be hard enough to adapt to living on a planet like nothing humans have ever lived on. But, we have no choice. It is a fait accompli, a done deal. The new planet he has dubbed eaarth is spelled with an extra “a”.

Global warming is a stark reality that has been brought about by the activities of man. I don't merely believe this, I know it because the reliable information on the subject is so overwhelming as to constitute proof beyond a shadow of a doubt.

These are just a few of the hundreds of published reports on the matter:

  • NASA Study Links Severe Storm Increases, Global Warming”, Pasadena Star News, Jan. 23, 2009

  • "Arctic Treasure, Global Assets Melting Away" Eban Goodstein resource economist at Bard College in New York state

  • Mason Inman, “Arctic Ice in 'Death Spiral',” National Geographic News, Sept. 17, 2008

  • Mike Stark, “Climate Change, Drought to Strain Colorado River”, Associated Press, Dec. 5, 2008

  • Solomon et al. 2007, Stott et al. 2010, and Min et al. 2011

  • American Meteorological Society statement on climate change Feb. 1, 2007 [link http://ametsoc.org/POLICY/2007climatechange.html]

Extreme weather events fill our news reports. The tornado outbreaks, drought, dust storms, and wildfires of 2011 come to mind, as do the hurricane that hit the from New Jersey to New England, the Halloween snowstorm in that same area, and the recent “snowicane” in Alaska

The United Nations International Panel on Climate Change is so concerned that it just released a first-ever Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. The key words in that lengthy title are “managing”, “risks” and “adaptation”.

The SREX report was divided into two sections: how human-caused climate change has already affected extreme weather events, and predictions on how these events will change during the rest of the century.

In the second half of eaarth McKibben says that adaptation is now the name of the game. We must adapt, he says, to the new reality that our planet is rapidly becoming a foreign body. We have landed on a different planet than that of our origin. Our adaptation needs to take two forms.

  1. We must change our manner of living in order to hold the line at 350 ppm of CO2 in order to limit the damage we have already done, damage that cannot be undone. The CO2 in the atmosphere, along with the methane, nitrous oxide from fertilizers, and our deforestation of vast stretches of continents will continue to roll along for hundreds of years even if we completely disappeared as a species. There is no going back. The warming will itself increase the greenhouse effect as methane is released. Population will continue to escalate, causing further burning of fossil fuels.

  2. How we conduct our affairs will change whether we like it or not. We'll have to find ways to adapt to drought/desertification in some places, and excess precipitation and flooding in others. Agriculture will be disrupted, the cost of recovery from cataclysmic weather events will eat up financial resources that should have gone to infrastructure repair and construction, and political interactions will get increasingly hostile as factions fight for survival.

At this point McKibben's writing becomes somewhat hopeful. Our reckless, hurried spending of this planet's fossil fuel capital will of necessity be throttled back, and as that occurs, he foresees societal changes leading to a healthier, more sane manner of living for humankind. Local production of food and hard goods. A slower pace of life. Community building. Sustainable practices. Independence from centralized control. These changes, he states, will be fostered by the information revolution and result in the growth of democracy.

I urge Namekagon Notebook readers to get the book eaarth by Bill McKibben and read it through, including the 25 pages of footnotes. It is the latter that underpins the truthfulness of the whole book

In the final analysis, there is hope that mankind will come through this rather lengthy rough patch better for the experience. We will be forced to become more local in our food and energy production, many of the societal structures we've come to perceive as the only possible realities will be blown away. Eyes will be opened. I like to say that we must form islands of sanity and sustainability.

In historic terms, if humankind survives the upcoming turmoil, it could be the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. But I think it will take a while, perhaps seven generations, to be realized.


*                *                *                *                *

"The laws of physics are eternal and cannot be changed with additional research, venture capital or majority votes." Ulf Bossel, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara

— 30 —

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November 9, 2011


111111 and 8888

Then and Now

I'm not really into numerology. I placed no special significance on the event when we marked the change from the 1900s into the 2000s. But, I find it kind of neat when a date is the same whether viewed backwards, forwards or upside down. I'm using it herein as a premise for a flashback comparison that could be titled “that was then, and this is now”.

So, here we are at 11/11/11. Nothing special. Neither was 8/8/88, which comes to mind for me because back then I was fully engaged in writing my Namekagon Notebook column when I was editor of the Four Seasons News.

Let's compare what things were like in 1988 with how they are today, in the year 2011.

In 1988:

  • After 9 years of occupation, the Soviet Union begins to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, where they had fought against the proxy army set up by the United States known as the mujaheddin

  • In order to use Islamic ideology against the Soviets, the Koran and other religious material becomes compulsory reading in army training courses run by the U.S.

  • George Bush beats Michael Dukakis for the U.S. Presidency

  • Iran and Iraq accept a U.N. peace plan after an eight year war during which the U.S. armed and backed Iraq

  • The world had just exceeded 5 billion occupants

  • The savings and loan scandal bailout was delayed until after the elections, bringing the cost up from $20 billion to $1.5 trillion. At the time, it was the largest theft in the history of the world. Neil Bush, Jeb Bush and their father, George Sr., are heavily implicated in the scandal.

  • George Bush Sr. is elected president, while the S&L scandal is not part of the debate. (It would have implicated the Reagan administration for easing oversight of the financial institutions as part of its deregulating of the S&Ls.)

  • Two hundred and eighty people die when Pan Am Flight 103 is blown from the sky over Lockerby, Scotland, by a bomb later traced to Libya. The event is one in a series of terrorist actions by Libya, part of an exchange of violence with the U.S. that included the 1986 bombing of Tripoli in which Ghadaffi's daughter Hanna is allegedly killed along with 60 others.

  • Poison gas attacks on Kurdish villagers kill 2,500 in Iraq.

In 2011:

  • Wisconsin becomes a hotbed of political unrest and is labeled the “Tunisia of the U.S.” in reaction to Governor Scott Walker's plan to cut the bargaining rights of public sector workers. “Longer term, the Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class — pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, and the poor against the working middle class” writes former Labor Secretary Robert Reich in the Huffington Post.

  • Also in Wisconsin, special elections to recall Republican state legislators occur in the summer, resulting in two losses for the G.O.P.

  • A campaign gets underway to recall Governor walker with a petition drive that needs over 500,000 signatures to succeed in triggering the recall election in 2012.

  • An earthquake measuring 6.3 in magnitude strikes Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 181 people

  • An 8.9 magnitude earthquake and 30-foot tsunami strike Japan, triggering the largest nuclear power plant crisis since Chernobyl.

  • A string of unusual earthquakes and unexplained mass animal deaths occurs in Arkansas that are attributed to hydraulic fracking used in natural gas extraction. The similar quakes later strike Oklahoma, also due to fracking.

  • A 5.8 magnitude earthquake hits Washington, D.C.

  • A 5.8 earthquake occurs in Mineral, Virginia felt as far north as Ontario and as far south as Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Osama bin is Laden killed by U.S. Seal Team 6

  • Arab awakening” occurs with revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is overthrown. U.S. precipitates a Libyan revolution with massive military intervention. Syrian unrest grows.

  • Occupy Wall Street” begins in New York and spreads across America and throughout the world. Egyptians protest in sympathy with badly injured Occupy Oakland protester Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen.

  • Ten thousand people surround the White House to protest a proposed tar sands pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to curtail carbon emissions into Earth's atmosphere.

  • Hurricane Irene strikes East Coast, millions left without power.

  • The U.S. space shuttle program ends.

  • Human population approaches 7 billion.

  • The U.S. war with Afghanistan becomes the longest in America's history. Troop withdrawals from Iraq are in the planning stage.
  • Fidel Castro resigns from the Communist Party of Cuba's central committee after 45 years of holding the title.

  • Over 300 people die in a super outbreak of tornadoes in the southern U.S., the deadliest in the country's history.

  • A month later, an EF5 Tornado strikes the US city of Joplin, Missouri killing at least 158 people, the single deadliest US tornado since modern record keeping began in 1950.

  • The global economic and financial crisis gets to the point where the default of Greece could trigger major problems in all of Europe as well as in the rest of the world. Italy threatens to follow suit.

  • Texas experiences a drought, the worst on record, that surpasses anything from the dust bowl days. Subsequent wildfires kill four and destroy over 1,000 homes.

  • An ice-free patch of Arctic ocean about a mile wide has opened at the very top of the world. The northern passage from west to east is open, something that has presumably never before been seen by humans and is more evidence that global warming may be real and already affecting climate.

  • Natural disasters across the globe make 2011 the costliest year in history.

  • The end of the age of America is pronounced by the International Monetary Fund as China's gross national product is projected to exceed that of the United States by 2016.

  • A Halloween snowstorm on the East Coast left 15 dead and over one million people without electricity.

  • On November 9 a hurricane with snow, called by meteorologists a “snowicane”, struck Alaska with 90 mph winds caused by the low pressure equivalent of a category 4 hurricane. A seven foot storm surge hits Nome, where roofs are ripped off of buildings. Elsewhere in the state ice accumulation is measured at 23.5 inches in one hour.


And 2011 isn't even over yet! I am not gleeful over these past and present events. There is no “I told you so” here. Others have told us so, but with life's hectic pace, things tend to slip down the memory hole over time. When that occurs, reminders assist us in the recognition of patterns. The weather events we are experiencing are beyond the pale of normal variability. Ditto for societal events. We are slipping into uncharted territory.

My only admonitions are:

  1. Monitor patterns as you see them develop. It's a matter of ballistics. If you know where something was, its mass and configuration, what direction it is going, how quickly it is moving/accelerating, and the conditions through which it travels, you can reasonably predict where it will go.

  2. Follow the Boy Scout Motto “Be Prepared”.

To comment on this blog post CLICK HERE

— 30 —



November 2, 2011


Wisconsin's credit unions in danger.


Is nothing safe from Governor Scott Walker and his pals? Now they want to take over our credit unions (CUs) just like greedy Mr. Potter in the movie It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. Remember how the power hungry banker wanted to take over the Bailey's cooperative building and loan institution?

It is just about to happen before our very eyes, without we the people even having a say in the matter. Our Republican-controlled legislature is in the final stages of shaping the state's next budget, and they're using the process to implement this right-wing policy with little or no debate. Governor Walker could still veto the provision, but he won't unless we overwhelm him with public pressure.

One of the surprise items slipped into the budget was a change in the way state-chartered credit unions can convert to banks. Who is behind this move? The Wisconsin Bankers Association is, that's who. No surprise there. Over two million Wisconsin residents belong to CUs, and the WBA wants a piece of that pie. And, they're angry that credit unions, being non-profit organizations, pay no corporate income taxes. Yeah, right, like big corporations are famous for paying lots of income taxes.

The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted last Thursday to include language in the state budget bill that would make it easier for Wisconsin's 2.2 million credit union members to be stripped of their equity in the cooperative financial institutions they own by permitting direct conversion from a credit union to a bank charter, according to the Wisconsin Credit Union League.

Infamous for their stealth tactics, the legislative fat cats who are on the Koch brothers leashes once again slipped something into a fast track with no chance for public outcry. Just like the jobs bill that would fast track strip mining in Ashland County. Just like the reapportionment of Congressional District 7 that will assure the reelection of Representative Sean Duffy.

In this instance, a vote on the budget amendment came after the provision was inserted into the bill without any public hearings, without any notice to credit unions, and without seeking any input from CUs or their members.

For the moment, there are two ways that Wisconsin CUs can convert to banks. Currently, a credit union can change to a bank two ways. It can first convert to a federal charter, then to a mutual bank. That can take up to two years. Or, it could dissolve the credit union and simultaneously charter a bank, said league Vice President of Government Relations Tom Liebe.

Currently, a credit union would have to return member-owned equity to the membership before the conversion, or first convert to a federal credit union charter and then convert to a bank. Under the proposed new rules, a state-chartered credit union would not be required to distribute the equity to members before converting to a bank.

The scary part of this stealthy arrangement is that all it will take for the Bankers Association to triumph will be for any given credit union's board of directors to vote in favor of the conversion. No written vote from the member ownership will be required.

Furthermore, a CU board of directors could schedule the meeting when they vote on conversion for an inconvenient time when members would be unlikely to attend and voice their opposition.

And, get this, should a credit union convert to a bank, board members would be able to go from being unpaid servants of their membership to a status wherein they can be paid many thousands of dollars for being on the newly-formed bank's board of directors.

In all fairness, I have to say that this change was first introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature when both houses were Democratically controlled. Although the provision had the support of both houses, Governor Doyle exercised his line-item veto powers and struck it out of the budget bill.

In fact, when then-Governor Doyle vetoed the provision in 2009, he cited the total lack of public input as a reason for his veto, saying that the change would require “further review through the legislative committee process where the merits of this provision can be fully considered. This is a significant change in the scope of services offered by these organizations and it requires broad input and discussion.”

This time, no public hearings were held before the Joint Finance Committee slipped this into the budget. Why slip it into the budget bill? Because should it be put up for a vote as a separate matter, hearings would be required.

That there was no hearing is a sore point with CUs. The proposed budget bill amendment provides for inadequate notice to members, and no requirement for input from members when a credit union board recommends conversion.

"We're wondering why legislation is being written about credit unions without any input from credit unions," said Pat Ranson, vice president of marketing for Landmark Credit Union.

According to Chris Henzig, director of communications of the Wisconsin Credit Union League, “At this point, all Wisconsin CUs that we know of still intend to operate as not-for-profit, member-owned cooperatives.  And instead of credit unions wanting to become banks, just the opposite has happened in recent months. The banking industry’s unabashed greed has only turned more positive attention to credit unions, which are benefiting as a result.

Media nationwide have heralded the consumer savings offered by credit unions and efforts on social media – like Bank Transfer Day, set for Nov. 5 – are galvanizing efforts for consumers to drop their banks in favor of credit unions.”

Credit unions are certainly making the most of this new awareness in the media,” declared Mark Wolff , Credit Union National Association senior vice president of communications, as the trade group counted the number of CUs reporting new account openings and surges at CU call centers from Boston to San Francisco. This was reported in the Nov. 2 issue of Credit Union Times.

Now, here is what I personally plan to do. Since no banks in the Hayward area where I do business are guilty of taking federal bailout money, nor have they proposed a fee on debit cards, I'm not closing my accounts with them. I will, however, do two things. First, I will open an account at the Hayward Community Credit Union in solidarity with all Wisconsin credit unions. Secondly, I will send letters to the banks that I have traditionally used, expressing my displeasure with the tactics of the Wisconsin Bankers Association. I urge you, my loyal readers, to do likewise.

It is time we put a stop to this state's Republican juggernaut. I oppose initiatives like this, and so should you.

— 30 —


View the YouTube viral video "Move Your Money". Click here




October 26, 2011

The 14 elements of a fascist state

Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt wrote an article about fascism ("Fascism Anyone?," Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. This excerpt is in accordance with the magazine's policy.
The 14 characteristics are:

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
    Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottoes, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing, in public displays and TV commercials.

  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
    Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, et cetera.

  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
    The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

  4. Supremacy of the Military
    Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

  5. Rampant Sexism
    The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

  6. Controlled Mass Media
    Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. Government and military spokespersons are heavily featured as “experts” in news reporting. In war zones, reporters are only allowed when “embedded” (i.e. controlled by) troops.

  7. Obsession with National Security
    Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
    Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions. Fundamentalist forms of religions that are extremely vociferous garner major influence out of proportion to the actual numbers of their adherents.

  9. Corporate Power is Protected
    The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. Reference Dwight Eisenhower's “military, industrial [and congressional] complex”.

  10. Labor Power is Suppressed
    Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
    Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. Funding for education on all levels is reduced in favor of funding for military imperialist adventurism. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts. Academics are excluded from national discussion.

  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
    Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forgo civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
    Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

  14. Fraudulent Elections
    Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

    Copyright © 2003 Free Inquiry magazine
    Reprinted for Fair Use Only.

— 30 —







October 5, 2011


The leaves are coming down


It's Indian Summer right now, but I know how that goes here in northern Wisconsin. The historic high and low temperatures for today range from 86 degrees down to 17, respectively. Anything can happen from this point on. Our peak fall color took a big hit the other day when we had a heavy rain and high winds. Now the ground is completely covered in those lovely leaves we found so enchanting the day before.

But, hey, my wood pile is the size of three mini-vans, my water pipes are freeze-proofed, and I've put away the lawn mower for the season. Yes, I'm ready for winter. Heck, I'm actually eager for it.

I've got my winter activities to look forward to. I plan to do the plumbing and electrical wiring in the house I've been building for over ten years. There's music to be made and guitar playing to be practiced. Writing to do. Videos to be made. And I plan to have some much-needed surgery on my hand down at the Mayo Clinic.

Oh yes, I've got a couple of books selected for my reading pleasure. I even hear that it is possible to check movies out from the public library. This modern world is amazing, isn't it? OK, so I'm a little behind the times. I've never even seen Citizen Kane, or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Speaking of which, I find it weird how the “seven degrees of Kevin Bacon” phenomenon comes into play. I actually have a connection to the second movie I just mentioned. The video I produced this summer to accompany the song I produced last winter has some art work in it by Zane Kesey, whose father, Ken Kesey, wrote the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He was also a counter-cultural figure who considered himself a link between the beat generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s.

Another connection I have to the senior Kesey is the fact that I was most definitely one of those 1960s hippies. About 10 years after he volunteered to participate in a CIA-sponsored program to test the effects of various psychoactive drugs on people, I went through my own “testing program” stage.

This is probably why the video I produced, Black Gold (Oil) Street Mix, is psychedelic in nature. The lyrics make mention of “altered states of consciousness”, a condition that I do recommend. However, drugs need not be the first choice of how to get to those states. I have grown up a bit.

Actually, I recommend education as the best way to foster altered states of consciousness. The more you know, the higher your state of consciousness becomes. Then there is meditation, which I have mentioned in an earlier Namekagon Notebook post. [August 10, 2011 – scroll down this page to read that one]

Exercise is certainly a good way to achieve altered states of consciousness. I remember two of the best highs I've ever had in my life, both resulting from vigorous exercise.

One was on a perfect summer day when I elected to do the Mile Swim at a Boy Scout camp where I worked. Instead of swimming countless laps, I swam from one end of a lake to the other and back again. A friend rowed a boat ahead of me, so I didn't have to pay much attention to the direction in which I swam. I did the breast stroke timed with my breathing for about a half hour. I was deep into the meditative state for the whole time. That high has stayed with me to this day.

Then there was the time when I had come up north, where I now live, with my parents for a Christmas vacation at their trailer house on Lake Nothing. I was an accomplished cross country skier, so I took the opportunity to circumnavigate the snow covered lake's edge. A gloriously sunny day on the On top of Mt. Hoffmanvirgin snow was irresistible to me. Again with the oxygen high, I just broke out with whoops and hollers as I completed the circle and returned to our dock where I'd started out.

I haven't used those XC skis in years, but I have a feeling that this winter I'll be breaking them out again at long last. I've got the skis, poles and an ancient tin of blue wax. All I need is a pair of three-pin boots to complete the set. I no longer have the knickers and knee socks that I used to wear when I moved here to the great white north, but perhaps I can find a pair at the local ski swap, and maybe some old style three-pin boots too.

If any of my readers have boots to fit a man's size 11, or any knickers for a 36 waist, let me know. Of course, my old knickers were a size 32, so they wouldn't have fitted me now anyway. Times do change, you know.

The thing about those oxygen highs is that I still remember them vividly. Come to think of it, there are countless other times like that for me. Reaching the peaks of Mt. Langley and of Mt. Hoffman, both in the Sierra Nevada range of California. The night I walked the twelve miles from Cable to my home in Grand View, and heard the call of a whippoorwill for the only time in my life. A time when I was nine years old that I rode my bicycle from our home in Kenosha out to the Ahlfeldt farm in Pleasant Prairie just for the joy of helping to make hay. A bicycle ride from Milwaukee to Kenosha for dinner with my Dad, Mom, sister Nancy and brother-in-law Steve for the Christmas of 1982 when it was unusually warm.

Those memories linger, long after the experiences on psychedelics have faded.


— 30




September 29, 2011


My dog Janus


Someone once said that “Writing is easy. All you have to do is open up a vein”. Well, this one is easy, alright. This week's Namekagon Notebook blog is about a dog that I love.janus090424_opt200pxl

Our princess, Janus, is a five year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever/German Shepherd hybrid. I sometimes say that “she's a Chesashep”.

Dave brought her home one dark winter night after work. She was a little chocolate-brown handful with wavy hair, barely weaned. Oh, she whined and whimpered for a night or two, but she quickly adapted to our loving care, housebroken almost from the get go. Because we got her in January, we named her Janus for the Roman god with two faces, the gate keeper after whom the month was named.

As she grew older, much bigger, and way stronger I heeded the published advice of experienced Chessie owners. They said this is a breed of dog that likes to be trained. Otherwise their intelligence goes unchallenged and they'll get into mischief. I've taught her basic commands, and even hand signals.

Although Chessies are retrievers, they aren't related to Labrador or Golden Retrievers, so they're not nearly so laid back as the others. They are an intense breed unto their own.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are the largest of the retriever class of dogs, a mix of Newfoundlands, hounds, setters, water spaniels and other dogs dating back to the middle 1800s. With webbed feet and an oily coat, they were bred for fetching ducks out of cold water all day, and then standing guard over the catch while their master went about the business of marketing the birds.

Janus, being cross bred with a German Shepherd, is a rare mix of qualities. She is, like all Chessies, sensitive, loyal, loving and highly intelligent. The German Shepherd component seems to amplify those qualities.

I've had many dogs in my 60 plus years, and she is the smartest, flat out. Have you ever seen a dog tied out on a rope get wrapped around a tree as the rope got shorter and shorter until it was hog tied? This pooch knows enough to go back around the other way and unwind herself. No kidding.

She is happiest lying nearby, in a corner or under a table, just watching us go about our business. When we walk her a mile or two, at least twice a day, she is eager to go. Not a dog who shuns exercise, this is good for me. Her exerecise regimen helped me to loose a bunch of weight, strengthen my heart, and calm my mind. There's nothing like a good walk to quiet the talk-talk in my head and help me to appreciate all four seasons.

I've had other dogs that I loved. For example, there was Spotzer, the Wheaten Terrier in my life before Janus. Like all terriers, he was spunky and loved to play. Weighing about 40 pounds, he could jump straight up in the air over twice his height. He was a good lap dog.

Now Janus, she thinks she's a lap dog, but really isn't. She just loves to climb up on my lap when I'm in the recliner. However, at about 60 pounds her lap dog status is a bit of a stretch. But I just can't turn her away. She also loves to climb up on my bed and snuggle once I'm settled in for the night. Comforting on cold winter nights, she is.

A good thing about her sleeping by me is my awareness of whether or not she has any fleas. I happen to be highly allergic to flea bites. Mosquito bites don't even affect me, but fleas, oh boy. I react badly to those critters.

If there is even one flea on her, I wake up keenly aware of that fact in the morning. I don't believe in toxins as a way of canine parasitic pest control. Flea collars are made of a time-release neurotoxin, step children of the no-longer-marketed Shell No Pest Strip. That's how they kill fleas and ticks in hours or days, by destroying their nervous systems. And, I believe that long-term exposure to the poison is bad for mammals too, including me and Janus.

Nor do I go for Frontline or other injectible toxins marketed as no-effort ways to keep dogs and cats pest free. Instead, I spray Janus (and myself) with a watered down mix of citronella oil and liquid peppermint soap. And, she gets frequent baths with that same Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap. Made with hemp seed oil, no less. She also gets frequent inspections and brushing.

I'm a naturalist, so I haven't had her spayed, either. Don't worry, she won't get pregnant, since she is never, ever unsupervised, inside or out. To me, it's a lazy form of abuse to just kick a dog outside and hope it comes back unharmed. She won't get knocked up, because I won't ever give her the opportunity.

And, yes, she goes into heat every October. For about a month each year I launder her bedding, mop the blood spots up off of the floor, and treat her with the loving sensitivity that a female in estrus needs.

This includes the phenomenon of false pregnancy. It took me a while to figure it out. Each year, about two months after her heat, she goes off of her feed and acts as if she is about to give birth. Her six teats swell. She undergoes nest-making behavior. She cuddles with her favorite toys and places them in position to be nursed. We just treat her with loving sensitivity, knowing that it will resolve itself in time.

Yes, Janus is a labor intensive gal. But, I love her a lot, so I don't find all of this to be any burden. If she wakes me up at 4 a.m. like she did today, I throw on a coat, grab my flashlight and out we go. She pees and poops, then gets a treat and we go back to bed.

Speaking of edibles, I've always fed my dogs like my mother taught me. Just as she did for our German Shepherd, Penny, I go to the local feed mill and get Janus the best dry dog food available. The Northern Lakes Co-operative in Hayward carries Chicken Soup For The Dog Lover's Soul brand of dry canine chow, which is what I usually buy. It's a weird name, but the stuff is righteous. As an alternative, I sometimes feed Janus Iams Healthy Naturals.

Both brands of dry dog food have chicken as the first ingredient, not corn meal like the cheap stuff. Since I am a firm believer in vitamin and mineral supplements for myself, I like the fact that these top-end brands of dry dog food contain dozens of these nutrients for her.

Spotzer lived to be 16 years old. With good nutrition, exercise and love, I hope that Janus, who is now almost 6, will exceed that mark. Still, after having around a dozen dogs in my life, I know that I will probably outlive her.

As I exit from middle age into my senior years, this thought is no longer depressing. It is merely bittersweet. I love her as if she was a child of mine. I treasure my baby, never tiring of taking her picture, taking her for her walks, and waking up with her by my side.

Thank you God, for this blessing.

30 –


Chesapeake Bay Retriever Relief and Rescue site






September 23, 2011

For background information on this topic, scroll down to "Archive".


The current battle

Make no mistake about it. We've got a battle on our hands. The things that Fighting Bob LaFollette warned our ancestors about a hundred years ago are coming to pass. There is no more democracy in America. The big money boys have total control of the situation. Or at least they think they do.

For the most part they're right. What little hope there is of preserving our human rights, of saving our planet's biosphere, of living with dignity, is only to be found in our willingness to dedicate our time and resources to joining in the battle. You and me together, brothers and sisters.

Hope. It may be foolish, but I still have hope. Hope that we can turn the tide. Hope that it's not too late. Hope that with the modern tools of mass communication and the classic tools of spiritual strength we can yet pick our battles and put the fear of God into the mealy-mouthed, self-important bastards who think they are entitled to steer the ship of humanity wherever they damned well please.

Wisconsin's homage to LaFollette is Fighting Bob Fest, the annual event that celebrates and explores how unity of purpose may yet save our asses. The tenth annual Fighting Bob Fest just concluded this past weekend with some exciting and inspiring speakers, including ex-Congressman Dave Obey (D-Wisconsin), current Representative Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) and the ever-feisty progressive firebrand Jim Hightower. The theme was Class Warfare: Fighting Back”.

Cornel West, a thunderbolt of a speaker, said that the class war has been going on for 30 years, no reason to deny it. That's true; it got ramped up back in 1980 when Ronald Reagan was elected. His first act as president in this regard was to break the back of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers union. Remember that? How about The Gipper's “trickle-down economics”? That became his administration's catch phrase. It seems to me that it was more like tinkled-upon economics.

More recently, progressive pundit Bill Moyers said that “the super-rich declared class war in 1984 and they have won." Sadly, his flagship PBS television series “Bill Moyers' Journal” is now history. Its replacement, “Need To Know” is just more non-controversial mush. I've tuned it out for good. Thank the Bush-appointed, Republican-controlled Corporation for Public Broadcasting for that. I blame the CPB for public television's overall lack of focus on anything relevant to our ongoing battle. Most mass communications are orchestrated to keep the masses ignorant.

I can only hope that the sleeping giant of underclass anger is awakening. There's a big battle going on right now in my back yard. Here in the beautiful pristine forest of northern Wisconsin, with its clean air and water, there is a monster emerging.

You've heard of mountaintop removal, right? The stripping of whole mountains in order to mine coal, leaving behind the blight that destroyed vast stretches of Appalachia. That's what Wisconsin Governor Walker's cronies want to do right here in the Chequamegon National Forest, except that it is iron ore instead of coal which they are after.

This forest is named for the Chequamegon (pronounced she-WAH-me-gun) Bay of Lake Superior. Also known as Gitchi Gumi in the Ojibwe language, Lake Superior is the mother of the five Great Lakes. The biggest and cleanest of the lot, it is upstream of everything from here to the Atlantic Ocean.

The proposed Penokee mining project will be a strip mine 4 miles long, 900 feet deep and a quarter-mile wide right at the headwaters of the Bad River. This river feeds North America's largest fresh water estuary, the Kokagon Sloughs, ancestral source of the Bad River Ojibwa Tribe's wild rice beds. Kokagon is known nationally as “The Everglades of the North”, a gem upon the shore of Lake Superior.

This proposed mining operation would sit astride the Great Divide of Northern Wisconsin, headwater source of both the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, where there is a rich deposit of high grade iron ore that contains as much 20 percent of the nation's remaining unearthed ore.

Northern Wisconsin is one big ore body. Many years ago the Wisconsin Department of Revenue prognosticated that there is potential here for as many as ten metallic mines and a smeltering complex. This proposed iron mine is the third such attempt by a giant multinational corporation in as many decades. The first was the copper mine in Ladysmith, which was rammed through under the administration of Wisconsin's ex-governor Tommy Thompson.

Owned by the Canadian mining giant Noranda, it came within 140 feet of the Flambeau River. Overseen by the Thompson-controlled Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the mine pit received variances to six significant permitting requirement provisions. One of those variances allowed them to avoid establishing baseline radioactivity levels in the affected groundwater.

Without the need to establish how much radioactivity was present in the groundwater before mining operations began, the Noranda-owned Flambeau Mining Company could not be held responsible for any increase in radioactivity that their operation caused. Keep in mind that the presence of radon in subsoil is a well-established cause of lung cancer. This gas, like all gasses, can easily be held in solution with ground water.

The Flambeau mine was supposed to bring many jobs and overall prosperity to Ladysmith. That did not happen. Most of the employees were transferred to the operation from other already established Noranda operations. The mine operators paid no property taxes to the affected municipalities, and it was wrapped up and shut down after just four years (1993-1997).

Total production was 160 thousand tonnes of copper, 3.3 million ounces (100 tonnes) of silver, and 330 thousand ounces (10 tonnes) of gold. The gold alone was valued at nearly $100 million dollars. The mine pit continues to leak pollutants into the Flambeau River. The “reclamation” carried out with State of Wisconsin approval is a farce.

Do you know what Ladysmith got out of the deal? One firetruck. That is it.

This is the kind of treatment we can look forward to if the Penokee Mountains iron mine is approved. There is no such thing as a non-polluting open pit mine. It is scientifically impossible.

The pollution produced by the proposed mine in Ashland County will despoil the incalculably valuable natural resources of the area. The Bad River. Copper Falls State Park. The Chequamegon Bay. The Chequamegon National Forest.

The groundwater in the entire Bad River watershed will suffer. Of course, many people in Ashland are enticed by the prospect of new jobs. They should be wary of such promises made by mining proponents, because such promises never come true.

Maybe the people of Ashland don't worry about ground water because their municipal drinking water supply comes from Lake Superior. But, think about it. Where does Lake Superior water come from? It comes from basin runoff through the Bad River and smaller streams along the south shore. A lot more of it comes from groundwater.

On the Bad River Reservation, though, drinking water comes directly from drilled wells, just like the drinking water used by area residents outside of the City of Ashland service area. I fear that most of the jobs resulting from the proposed Penokee mine will be in the medical sector, dealing with widespread cancer cases. Cancer now and forever, that is the tune we'll sing if that mine becomes reality. Human cancer, cancer in the fish and wildlife, and cancer of the landscape.

Pollution emanating from the proposed mine would continue for all eternity. When minerals are tucked away underground, they are locked in place. Dig them up and expose them to air and water and they get into the environment. It's not rocket science, just common sense.

Wouldn't it make more sense to mine the tens of millions of junked engine blocks in auto salvage yards for already pure iron and steel? What other sensible alternatives would gain us the needed metals without enriching the greed heads who can just never have enough money and power?

By the way, the second attempt by a multi-national conglomerate to establish a metallic open pit mining operation in Wisconsin was defeated. When mighty Exxon sought to create a copper mine near the headwaters of the Wolf River, adjacent to the Mole Lake Sakoagon Ojibwe Reservation, and upstream of Potowatomi and Mohican reservations, a coalition of tribal, environmental and tourism-minded business people fought the proposal and forced then-governor Tommy Thompson to sign into law a Mining Moratorium bill in 1998.

Then, in 2002 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the right of Indian nations to have "Treatment as a State" status on applicable issues was interpreted to apply to setting and enforcing clean air and water standards. This resulted in Wisconsin gaining an international reputation as being highly unfavorable to mining development.

We intend to keep it that way!


30 –


{jcomments on}


Click here for a home made music video by John Prine and Jackson Browne singing the classic ballad Mr. Peabody's Coal Train.


For the lowdown on the the mining interests' rush to change Wisconsin environmental laws go to http://headwatersnews.net/feature/whats-the-rush-on-mine-permitting/


Click here for a [f]Facebook link to the Citizens Concerned About The Proposed Penokee Mine group.


Click here to read about the current citizens law suit over ongoing pollution from the “reclaimed” Flambeau copper mine.


Click here to learn more about a progressive movement founder, Fighting Bob LaFollette. Click "Home" on that same website for recordings from the recent Fighting Bob Fest.








September 4, 2012


Down the memory hole


With the recent Republican National Convention out of the way, and its Democratic counterpart underway, it behooves us to cast our minds back to previous administrations of both stripes.

Did you notice that no previous Republican president spoke at the RNC? They had a couple of Georges to choose from, both H.W. Bush and W. If the Repubs were so proud of what they had “built” during their heroes' administrations, why not bring one of them forward to tout how great they were?

I mean, there were videos of George 1 and George 2, although 1 did most of the talking. And, their fair ladies also made video appearances. But, no talk of all they had accomplished from 1988 to 1992, and from 2000 to 2008. Why?

Perhaps because both Georges are war criminals. Do you think that might be why? Just two days ago, on Sept. 2, 2012, South African Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for George W. Bush and his British counterpart ex-prime minister Tony Blair to be tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

"The immorality of the United States and Great Britain's decision to invade Iraq in 2003," Tutu wrote in an exclusive for the Observer this weekend, was "premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction [WMDs]," and instead of bringing peace, democracy, or harmony to the region, "has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history." [1] [2]


The second Iraq war

People forget that the second Iraq war was premised on a lie, namely that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was planning to use them. On December 5, 2002 the White House issued this statement: "The president of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and vocally as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it," spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

There were claims that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, and had purchased special aluminum tubing that could only be used in centrifuges to enrich uranium. In the long run, the only thing that was provable at all was that Iraq at some point in the past had poison gas that the U.S. had given to them for use in its war against Iran. Then, America pulled out the United Nations weapons inspectors before they could finish the job of not finding any other WMDs.

In the end, we invaded Iraq just because there was a dictator in place that the United States CIA had staged two coup attempts to put there. Saddam was our boy, but we now turned against him and used him as a reason to go into Iraq for a war that lasted until this very year, 2012. It has turned out to be the second costliest war in America's history, second only to World War 2.

The Bangor, Maine Daily News wrote this last January: “Even though the last U.S. combat troops have left Iraq, American taxpayers will face decades of additional expenses, from veterans’ health care and disability benefits to interest on the debt accumulated to finance the war. [3]

The Washington Post has calculated that the cost of the second Iraq war will top $3 trillion dollars. But you will hear no talk of this when Republicans insist on cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Fuel Assistance and other social safety net programs. [4]

And what about the first Iraq war, that little excursion into the land of war crimes by George H. W. Bush? The first Iraqi war was also premised on a lie. There was no reason at all to go in and destroy the entire country's infrastructure (except so Cheney's company, Halliburton, could make hundreds of billions of dollars rebuilding what we destroyed). Here's the story on that.


The first Iraq war

You may not remember, but in the Carter Administration days, our enemy was Iran. Here we go with the history lesson.

Back in 1953, after World War 2, the Iranian people elected a popular president named Mohammad Mosadeck [spellings vary]. He knew Iran had lots of oil, and decided to claim their oil for themselves, so they could sell it and enrich the people with schools, water supplies, hospitals and so on. This pissed off the American oil companies. So, we overthrew that government and put in a dictator called the Shah, a.k.a. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He ruled there with an iron hand, our puppet, glad to sell all of his oil to Standard Oil and their buddies.

In 1979, the people of that country got tired of the torture and dictatorial rule of the Shah. So they had a revolution, overthrew him, and took a bunch of hostages. Remember the hostage crisis? The Oil companies had a guy waiting in the wings next door in Iraq. You guessed it. It was Saddam Hussein. He was another dictator that we had installed, just like the Saudi royal family. [look them up if you want a real lesson in dictatorship]. It took two CIA coups to put him in power.

We had already armed Iraq, so it was easy to send them to war with Iran. Got it so far? Saddam Hussein was our big buddy. We had even given him poison gas. Sound familiar? He used it against Kurdish population in the town of Halabja in 1988. It doesn't matter that doing that is illegal under international law.

He carried on the war against Iran from 1980 to 1988. America was a supporter of his activities the whole time. By gassing Kurds and unleashing his military on other northern Iraqi tribes, Hussein was responsible for over 200,000 civilian casualties in his own country. On the same day as the gassing, our defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld was meeting with Saddam Hussein, shaking his hand for the cameras. Meanwhile, American oil companies enjoyed total access to and control of Iraq's oil.

That lengthy war cost Iraq a lot of money in several ways. Hussein had to borrow money from other countries, including Kuwait. Also, the over production of oil from Iraq created a glut in the market, sending price per barrel down. By 1988, when the Iran/Iraq war came to a stalemate, Iraq was unable to meet its debts to Kuwait. So, Hussein trumped up charges against the tiny emirate, saying that Kuwait was slant drilling under its border with Iraq and stealing the bigger country's oil. And, he said that Kuwait's refusal to reduce its oil production was depressing the price per barrel, which further sent Iraq into debt.

Since Iraq was all geared up for war, but had stopped fighting Iran, Hussein decided to put the troops to work with an invasion of Kuwait. Now, this is where a critical thing happened. It is absolutely documented in the American Congressional Record that on July 25, 1990 Hussein met with the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie. He told her of his plans to invade Kuwait. She admitted in open testimony to Congress that she gave him the green light. She said to him,”Your dispute with Kuwait is an inter-Arab matter of no concern to the U.S.A.” Ambassadors don't do things on their own. They are official voices of the countries they represent.

Eight days later, on August 2, he proceeded to invade Kuwait. Under the George H. W. Bush Administration, America reacted by invading Iraq in a war of aggression called “Desert Storm” or “Gulf War 1”. It was a minor war, compared to the protracted conflict known as “Operation Iraqi Freedom” or “Gulf War 2”. It began on January 17, 1991 and ended two months later. We had during that time officially killed 50,000 Iraqi civilians.

A hallmark of the first Gulf War was the aerial bombardment of the entire country's infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, water and sewage treatment plants, bridges, dams, electrical generating plants, cement making factories, radio and television stations, refineries, and factories that made medicines, textiles and basic materials like electrical wire.

No violence short of a nuclear explosion has been as intense as the air onslaught then unleashed upon Iraq. In the first 24 hours, for example, over 1,300 combat sorties were flown by Coalition air forces. Called a “hyperwar” it was much like the “Blitzkreig” carried out over London by the Nazi air force. There was no excuse for the damage done to the civilian infrastructure.

Immediately following the war, Iraq was producing only 4 percent of its pre-war electrical capacity. This completely shut down all hospitals. Civilian deaths resulted in large numbers, followed by starvation and disease from lack of drinkable water and from the complete end of sewage treatment for the entire country. This is the moral equivalent of biological warfare.

We also pioneered our use of depleted uranium tank busting ordnance during Desert Storm. There is common belief that depleted uranium isn't radioactive. Not true. It is highly radioactive. Depleted means that we have taken the U235 out of it for use in our reactors and hydrogen bombs. There is a huge amount of U238 left in it, which is just as radioactive!

In areas where depleted uranium use was the highest, Iraqi doctors have reported a massive rise in the number of babies born with birth defects and they have seen the number of cancer cases among Iraqi citizens absolutely skyrocket. In September this year, say campaigners, 170 children were born at Fallujah General Hospital, 24 per cent of whom died within seven days. Three-quarters of these exhibited deformities, including "children born with two heads, no heads, a single eye in their foreheads, or missing limbs". The comparable data for August 2002 – before the invasion – records 530 births, of whom six died and only one of whom was deformed.

To really get educated about this, go to the following site: http://gulfwarvets.com/du.htm . We have used uranium armaments in both Iraq and Afghanistan. At last count, more than 1,000 tons have been used in Afghanistan and more than 3,000 tons in Iraq. Our own soldiers are sick with radiation poisoning, which is why the site I told you about was created by Gulf War Vets.

So, America is the only country in the world to have used weapons of mass destruction both in the old days (Japan atom bombed) and in modern times. Notice something here? You have never been told about this. No news organization reports on this stuff, especially Fox News. No one knows about this unless they are active in the peace movement.

What do you think of America now? We have literally killed over a million people in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, because of the lingering effects of our war tactics, people will continue to suffer and die there for a hundred years.

Now you know why neither President Bush 1 nor 2 spoke at the Republican National Convention.

— 30




August 21, 2012


Mitt & Paul, sittin' in a tree...


It's a marriage made in heaven, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, running against Barak Obama and Joe Biden. Mitt is the very definition of a plutocrat, a guy who exercises power by virtue of wealth. Paul is the pilot fish to the big whale, the worshiper of atheist libertarian Ayn Rand, whose message is “greed is a virtue, and compassion is a vice”.

What a pair. Only in America could the population be sold a message that central control by big government is bad, and then be spoon fed a potential leader who has built his own personal empire by dictatorial control. Get this straight, my friends. Romney's empire, Bain Capital, is not a democracy, not even a republic. Its modus operandus is to take over weak companies, fire a lot of people, outsource jobs, strip them of their assets, and then sell them off at a profit.

Romney claims that he is only worth a couple hundred million dollars. Don't believe it. Unlike his father, George Romney, who ran for president in 1968, Mitt won't be releasing 12 years worth of tax returns. No, all we get from him is one year. He won't release any more than that because, the truth is, he is worth billions of dollars, not the $200 million he admits to.

Romney is worth over $6 billion, maybe even more, a lot more. Mitt was CEO of Bain Capital. CEOs typically keep 10% ownership via shares, and often more than that. Since Bain capital was worth more than $65 Billion, Mitt's minimum from that venture would be $6.5 billion to, perhaps, as high as $20 Billion.

Another open-secret is that, based upon Mitt's own words, he made $20 million last year on his investments. Those blind trust investments, even as 10 year notes, pay only about 2%. Mitt has to be worth at least a billion dollars to earn $20 Million in just in interest income.

So, there you have it. Romney is such a liar that his pants should be on fire. Then there is his newly minted best buddy, Paul Ryan. I love it. Romney's choice of Ryan as a running mate could well end the Wisconsin representative's egocentric rule over the Tea Party.

You see, Paul Ryan has a big problem. Up until now he has been the darling of the Tea Baggers because of his all out war on the big, bad boogeyman of socialism. He gets this point of view from his life long infatuation with Ayn Rand, author of The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. Ayn (rhymes with “line”) was an atheist, libertarian, emigré from Russia. She moved to the United States in 1926 in the wake of the Russia revolution.

Paul Ryan has since his college days been a staunch advocate of Rand's philosophy. The problem is that his love affair with her potentially gets him in big trouble with the Christian Right. So, he's backing off...WAY off...from his personal core belief in the objectivist philosophy of the atheist author.

But Ryan made no bones about his philosophical influences just a few years ago. He told the Weekly Standard in 2003 that he gave his staffers copies of Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents. Speaking to a group of Rand acolytes in 2005, Ryan said, “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.”

Although he wants to back off from his support for extreme laissez-faire capitalism, he can't take back statements like this:

What’s unique about what’s happening today in government, in the world, in America, is that it’s as if we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel right now,” Ryan said. “I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault.”

Capitalism is under assault? Give me a break! In 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court handed on a platter to big business the entire government structure of America with the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision. The Dow Jones stock market average is now hovering around 13,000. Corporate profits are at record highs. Our government has spent trillions of dollars bailing out big business, and trillions more on highly profitable wars. Corporations pay practically no taxes at all.

Paul Ryan says capitalism is under assault? What we have here is the fascist principle of the big lie taken to the maximum. The entire Republican Party has taken a pledge not to raise taxes on rich individuals and trans national corporations. Their line is: we are in financial trouble, so we must cut expenses. Nowhere do they mention increasing tax revenue. That is a taboo subject that elicits the knee jerk reaction of “class warfare”.

Get this straight, my friends, class warfare has been going on for the entire history of the United States of America, and the wealthy plutocrats have won. They own both American political parties. The same corporate insiders are running the Obama administration as when George W. Bush was in power. And now we are in great danger of having the loving couple Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan come out of the big money closet and display their unashamed plutocratic affection for each other in plain view.

— 30 —


See the 1959 interview of Ayn Rand by Mike Wallace here: http://youtu.be/ZV1BllA7rWM


August 8, 2012

Coping with madness and fear


There is a sickness upon the land. As a nation, we are mentally ill.

“Not I,” you say. “Perhaps others, but not I”.

No, my brothers and sisters. We, the group, we Americans are mentally ill. Some of us are truly, horribly sick, like Wade Michael Page, the shooter of Sikhs in Oak Park. Or like James Holmes in Aurora, Colorado.

Just because you, dear reader, are not like that, does not mean that you can't have an affect upon the body of people as a whole. It's as if your liver is diseased. Can't your hands and brain play a part in healing the diseased organ?

I'm trying to live sanely in an insane world. We are all living in a world full of insanity. That much is pretty well established. One more cruel bit of it surfaced over the weekend when Wade Michael Page shot and killed six adherents of Sikhism in the Milwaukee community of Oak Park. He then ambushed a police officer, Lt. Brian Murphy, who was assisting one of the victims. Page purchased the 9mm pistol used in the shootings on July 28, just a week before the shootings.

Page, it turns out, had been on the radar of those who monitor hate groups for a number of years. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism were aware of his neo-Nazi, white supremacist activities.

According to the Sacramento Bee newspaper, “In the wake of the Sikh temple shooting, the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center both revealed that Page had previously come to their attention; reportedly, as early as 2000. The ADL’s researchers, for instance, had analyzed pictures of Page playing guitar, adorned with tattoos associated with a self-described white power group called the Hammerskins.”

The article published on Wednesday, Aug. 8 continued, “The Southern Poverty Law Center, for one, has identified what it calls “1,018 known hate groups” nationwide, including 84 in California, 55 in Florida, 45 in Texas and 34 in North Carolina. The ADL publishes an online “Extremism in America” encyclopedia, whose entries range from the Nazi Low Riders, founded in California, to the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, whose members won a major Supreme Court free-speech case last year concerning protests outside military funerals.”

These organizations, while they are very much aware of the broad spectrum of potentially dangerous people engaged in hate activities, are unable to seek preventive action regarding these groups due to very real legal constraints.

The FBI also stays at arm's length from such people because, they say, there has been no actionable threat presented during the build up period in which the plans were hatched in these sick individuals' minds before the horrible culmination of their desires.


What are we to do?

What can be done before the fact? Well, as it usually turns out, some person or persons close to the perpetrator are usually worried and suspicious of the characters. Are we all supposed to bug the police and FBI when we know of somebody like this? In doing so, wouldn't we place ourselves in personal danger?

Yes, that is the dilemma. Start pestering an armed crazy (or group of them) and don't we risk being their first victims? Yeah. That is the problem. So, we hold back, afraid.

I sure don't have some glib, easy answer to this dilemma. I mean, it's not like I want to wake up to my house on fire with somebody outside in the bushes waiting to shoot me as I flee the conflagration. This is what it has come to, isn't it? The level of fear among people in America is beyond palpable. It is at a level high enough to draw us all into the mentally ill stew.

I know one thing. I have trust in a higher power. My faith in God is my bulwark against mental disease. I can't do it alone. However, my association with others of similar inclination gives me strength.

Just like the Sikh community in Oak Park, I must pay heed to that inner voice which says, “God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

I am so blessed to be a member of a community up here in northern Wisconsin, a living breathing organism that fosters solidarity. Even those fellow citizens with whom I differ politically or spiritually are folks I would give assistance to in a heartbeat if I saw them struggling with their car in a snowbank.

We come together in support of volunteer activities, to uplift a family who has undergone a trauma, to break ground for a new facility, to celebrate, to shop, to pray. Our fire departments and rescue squads are manned by volunteers. We have utility and retail cooperatives. We suffer the vagaries of severe weather together.

That is why I live here. Fine, you say, but I am a resident of a large city. Or, I am alone in the wilderness.

My message to everyone is the following. “Come together and form islands of sanity and sustainability”. More importantly, whenever possible, reach out, however tentatively, to troubled individuals who might explode into a flurry of rage. Gently, gently. Draw off some of that anger from them. Try to fathom their hate. Love thine enemy.

Conversely, we must also bolster our defenses. To appear weak is to invite aggression. I'm sorry that I must end this essay like this. We can be compassionate, but we must also make it plain that we will not willingly be harmed.

I do not advocate the disarming of good, sane people. I've had my life threatened for my liberal leanings, and I am armed. I reserve the right to protect myself from lone crazies as well as from rogue authorities. My life and the lives of those I hold dear are sacred. I trust that God will keep me both sane and well. I also trust that God gave me the brains and skills to protect myself and others.


30 –


Note: There is a fine two-part article about our recent tragedy by Joe Vittie, a reporter for the Wisconsin Citizen's Media Co-op, here:








July 12, 2012


It's been a month


Where has the time gone? It has been a month since I last put pen to paper, metaphorically speaking. In the intervening days a bunch of big things have happened to me. I had surgery on my left hand, lightning struck my computer, my new book got released, and my partner published his plan to save planet Earth.

How's that for a plate full of happenings? It's the middle of summer, and I'm way behind on my various projects. But, that's how it usually goes with me.

The surgery went well, I'm back to typing at my usual production speed. Not 80 wpm like 30 years ago, but still a respectable 60 wpm. The scar is gnarly looking as all hell, made worse looking by the lingering outline drawn in really indelible dry marker. Just so the surgeon wouldn't get lost, I guess. The fellow who did the work was Dr. Peter Goldschmidt of Orthopaedic Associates in Duluth. Pending full recovery, I plan to go back to him for some work on my right hand next year. I pick my surgeons carefully, and he's a keeper.

Lightning didn't exactly strike my computer, but it might as well have. I was working away on the morning of June 14, monitoring an incoming storm front on the side. I'm addicted to National Weather Service live radar, and about four or five other radar pages as well. It seemed plenty far away, with just distant thunder rumbling faintly. As a precaution, though, I unplugged my computer from the wall outlet, so the Uninteruptible Power Supply kicked in and I was running off of the battery. I kept typing.

Then all of a sudden I saw a flashbulb-like spark at the back of the computer tower accompanied by a loud snapping sound. No lightning or thunder, mind you, just a huge discharge of static electricity buildup. Of course the machine instantly stopped running. Trying to switch it back on was met with an “Oh, my God” utterance and nothing else.

It turns out that the surge came in on the Ethernet cable, the fiber optic broadband connection. When my computer go-to repair guy, Rick Rooney of Circle Systems near Hayward, took the machine apart, there was an obvious cluster of toasted components connected to the internet cable connection. He says it would have happened, even if the computer was off, because broadband connections like that are always on 24/7.

So, he fixed my computer, which required a new motherboard, CPU, hard drive and sound card. Being kind of heart he set me up with all used stuff, except for the hard drive, saving me a bundle. Then there was the struggle to recover all of the lost data from the old hard drive. He got most of it, and I had a lot more that I had backed up to DVD. I only lost some work done in the last couple of months that I hadn't backed up and he wasn't able to retrieve fully. My next purchase will be a 500 gigabyte stand-alone hard drive that does a whole system backup that can be restored in one easy procedure.

The moral of this story is: even if a thunderstorm is miles away, turn off your computer AND unplug your internet connection too.

That's it for this Namekagon Notebook blog post. It still hurts a little to type. And the other big items mentioned at the top of this post each deserve a whole treatment unto themselves. In the meantime, I plan to be back to writing every week.

Be well, my loyal readers. I'll be back soon.

— 30 —



June 9, 2012



"Governor Barrett,

Meet President Kerry”

[quote by Jon Cohen]


Like most Wisconsinites I know, I was angry when Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett threw his hat into the ring at the last minute. I knew that the common reaction among friend and foe alike would be “Walker already beat him once. This is just a do-over.”

There were two types of people who gathered those million signatures to trigger the recall: structural Democrats, and everybody else. Likewise, the four Democratic candidates were divided into two pairs: the two big time Dems, and the two underdogs with PhDs. Up here in the northwest corner of the state, the clear favorite among the grass roots folks was Katherine Vinehout. Being the contrarian that I am, I chose to volunteer for Doug La Follette's campaign where, in collaboration with others, I wrote speeches, position papers and press releases.

La Follette is my kind of guy. He's a hard core environmentalist, a man with big ideas, a uniter-not-a-divider, and heir to the progressive tradition of Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette. And, unlike Falk and Barrett, he is not trying to claw his way up the political ladder. He is an idealist who eschewed big money contributions.

Barrett tipped his hand right away by not declaring his candidacy until he had been re-elected as Milwaukee mayor. Not one to climb out on a limb and then saw it off is he? Not a risk taker. Not one to engage in battles enthusiastically, either.

I thought to myself “Why isn't he pounding away on Walker's vulnerabilities, the criminal investigation, the Koch brothers/Rupert Murdoch connections, the tax breaks to Georgia Pacific, the dumping of $850 million in railroad stimulus money, the Tea Party agenda?” He just didn't act like a guy who is fighting for the 99%

And why didn't Barrett talk about the elephant in the room? The recall election itself should have been a topic during the short, one month campaign. He could repeatedly have said that the law is clear. A governor does not need to have committed a crime for citizens to demand a recall.

The whole thing stunk. It is not just that I am a sore loser, either. What we did worked. We cranked out the voters in spades. The Republicans had maxed out their voters in 2010. Democrats in that same year were significantly fewer in numbers than in 2008 when they elected Obama. Our mission was to bring out Democrats in record numbers, which we did. It was GOTV all the way.

On election day everything went swimmingly at first. The polls were swamped. Exit polls indicated a dead heat. Then little things began to crop up as I followed the progress on [f]Facebook. The Attorney General's office had teams in Democratic districts that were hassling student voters. Polls began to run out of voter registration forms, then ballots. Robo-calls were reported as telling people that if they'd signed petitions, they didn't need to vote. Poll workers told registrants that they needed to produce photo identification on the spot (not true).

Still, it looked good. People were forming long lines to vote. News media were reporting that the vote was projected by exit polls to be “razor thin”.

Then, all of a sudden, the media were saying that Walker was way ahead, by five points or more. What the heck? Where did this come from?

At 8 pm when the polls were to close, there were still long lines in many urban locations. As the media's predictions spread, people began to leave the lines. By 10 pm Barrett had conceded the election. People were still waiting to vote. Absentee and provisional ballots had not yet been counted. I went to bed with a sad heart.

The next morning, I was able to console myself with the fact that the Lehman had won in Racine, tipping the state senate over to Democratic control. Better than nothing.

Hey, we knew the system would make this difficult. Walker had the advantages that were built into the law. A bully pulpit, fund raising with no limits or reportage, and no serious need of a primary race to draw his funding down. He had big business on his side. Unions have been out of favor with the public since the 1970s. (Not that Barrett made an issue of working people's rights.)

But, the question of the exit polls lingers. Let me tell you something about exit polls. They have been fine tuned over the years to the point where the Carter Center uses them to determine whether elections in foreign countries are legitimate. They are exceedingly accurate . . . . that is, if the raw data is made known.

Exit polls that are released following American elections are adjusted to conform with the reported vote counts. You see, the exit poll of 1,555 Wisconsin voters was conducted for the Associated Press (AP) by Edison Research in a random sample of 35 precincts statewide. Edison is the official polling organization used by American TV networks and the AP. Exit polls are exceedingly accurate, and proved to be that way around the world. They are used the the United Nations to determine whether or not a third world country's elections are fraudulent.

However, it is interesting that since Diebold-style voting machines have come into use in the U.S., suddenly exit polls prove to be “inaccurate”. Whenever they seem to favor Democrats, they don't match the theoretically trustworthy reported vote count.

All of the media, who hired Edison Research to do exit polls, assume that the company got it wrong, and that the vote totals were accurate. Or so they say. Just like they said in 2004 when Kerry mysteriously lost the election in Ohio, resulting in a second unelected term for George Junior.

This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue. We have to take back the vote. Here are some common sense things we can do right now to put the fear of God into these election-stealing creeps.

  • Vote early, or refuse to use touch screen voting machines. Insist on paper ballots. Make it known that a lot of people will do this, so poll workers should be prepared for it.

  • Using your smart phone or a digital camera, take a picture of your ballot before turning it in.

  • Form a Citizens Election Board in your county to monitor the goings on, including testing of voting machines before the polls open to verify that they are working properly.

  • Perform your own exit polls by reporting your vote to a common web page for your precinct. If nothing else, set up a [f]Facebook page where a group of administrators can turn the information into a spread sheet. Supplement this with on-site freelance exit polling.

  • Do research on the subject, starting with the work of Richard Charnin http://richardcharnin.wordpress.com/

  • Join any one of the organizations who monitor election activities

So, here we are, Walker is back in office, empowered to pursue his Tea Party agenda. There is even talk of him being Romney's choice for the vice presidential slot. To that I say, “Good, make him vice president. Then he'd be EVERYBODY'S problem.”

Unless he's in jail.



— 30 —





April 17, 2012

La Follette campaign important Links:

Hello I'm Doug La Follette

Doug La Follette Knows What Democracy Looks Like


Doug La Follette: Social Revolutionary


Doug La Follette: People's State of the State


It's In Their DNA - Speech by Fighting Bob La Follette






April 5, 2012


Recall Walker race


Primary choices for May 8 election


It is an unusual election year in Wisconsin. Even with a big, nation wide presidential race afoot, it is still our gubernatorial recall election that is getting the most attention. There are now four Democratic figures with hats in the primary ring. In the order in which they entered the race, they are:

  • Kathleen Falk – former County Executive of Dane County, Wisconsin, serving from 1997 until 2011

  • Kathleen Vinehout – Democratic member of the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 31st district since 2007

  • Doug La Follette – Wisconsin Secretary of State since 1987

  • Tom Barrett – Democratic Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, serving since 2004

This primary election serves as a way for everyone in the state to give voice to their vision of Wisconsin's future. It is shaping up as a choice between two big time powerful Democrats who are approved by the state's party on the one hand, and two lesser-known Democrats with grass roots appeal on the other hand.

The social media buzz is that the Recall Walker movement must avoid political infighting. I certainly agree. There will be negative advertising aplenty courtesy of the Walker campaign, so we don't need to add to that impression.

We already know how that works. During the 2010 election Walker was backed to the hilt by the Koch brothers, who contributed $70,000 directly to his campaign. But, that was only the tip of the iceberg. They gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA), and so did Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News. In turn, the RGA spent $3.4 million on negative ads aimed at Walker's opponent, Tom Barrett.

This brings me back to my plan for counteracting all of the big money that will be spent in defense of Walker during the next two months. I'm going to keep hammering away at this plan, and adding to it until June 5, when it all comes down to the ballot box.


Take control of public dialog


Here is how we do it. Letters to the editor of newspapers outlining talking points. Letters to television news rooms insisting that they cover the ongoing criminal investigation of Walker and his staff's campaign misdeeds while he was Milwaukee County Executive.

One of the best ways to get our points across is to use the comments function available with online newspaper and website articles. These are especially useful because there is no limit to the number of times a person can wade into a discussion, unlike letters to the editor which are usually limited to one per month and a total of no more than a total on various subjects of at most four or five per issue.

Public demonstrations are a bit more work, but sure reach a large number of people. A regular spot at a regular time makes for the most effective effort. In Hayward, for example, every week on Friday afternoon a group comes together downtown at the junction of State Highways 63 and 27/70. This has been going on since the beginning of the Recall Walker movement. Using [f]Facebook, organizer Sue Menzel, has made it a regular thing.

Here's an idea. Arrange for a group of parents, kids and teachers to demonstrate with signs that say something like “Recall Walker – he cut education $$”. If you do this, make sure to get advance notice to your local newspaper, radio and TV stations so you get some coverage. You could also apply the same strategy, but in front of the offices of Republican state senators and assembly persons.

Here's that list of bullet points again, with some additions suggested to me by friends.

We can win using the same grass roots, Occupy-Everything-Everywhere methods that are being employed around the world. Flash mobs. Political theater. Volunteer campaign working.

Here is my own contribution to the idea pool. Make use of letters to the editor of every newspaper in or near to Wisconsin. There are certain points that must be stressed over and over again. The following things are ammunition. Use them!

  • The ultra-rich Koch brothers and their buddies are already committed to pumping over $10 million dollars into supporting the Republicans, almost all of it out of state money. This point must be hammered home. The airwaves will be saturated in support of Walker. Use this very thing against him. More information is available at http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/four-donors-jointly-gave-walker-1-million-in-recent-weeks-jh3u371-137978248.html

  • Walker and his aides are subjects of an ongoing FBI John Doe investigation into campaign and election fraud. More information is available at http://www.thenation.com/blog/165896/wisconsin-john-doe-probe-what-did-walker-know-when-did-he-know-it?comment_sort=ASC

  • Walker turned down $850 million in federal stimulus money for railroad infrastructure that would have created thousands of jobs.

  • Specifically try to counteract the Republican droning on and on about unions, as if union money can even come close to the billionaire donations. Unions are good things, they made our country great. I'm not saying to distance yourself from unions. But, don't let the right wingers get away with saying that's all these recall elections are about, either.

  • Unity is the goal. Stress the Wisconsin Idea, that we are all in this together. Reach out to Republicans who don't like the direction in which their party is going. And pay close attention to Independents, who are probably key to a successful Recall Election.

  • Walker is making our state's financial status worse, not better. He gave $2.7 million in tax breaks to the Koch brothers Georgia Pacific operation in trade for the million dollars the Kochs spent to put him in office. (The $$ bought negative ads against Tom Barrett, whom Walker defeated.) And, the Koch boys are at it again. They have already contributed another million to help with his anti-Recall Walker campaign.

  • Walker's cuts to education are a disgrace, and make Wisconsin less competitive in the jobs arena.

  • There is nothing bad about recall elections. It was a 2002 recall election of Tom Ament that put Walker in office as Milwaukee County Executive in the first place.

  • Walker is the worst thing that has happened to our fine tradition of protecting the environment.

  • The Republicans treated our state's Indian tribes with callous disrespect, ignoring treaties that are upheld by Congressional approval and Supreme Court decisions.

  • The Tea Party has hijacked the Republican Party, and many moderate Republicans are tired of it.

  • War on women – the battle for reproductive rights is once more being fought. Importance of women in the Recall Walker election: In Wisconsin 53% of voters are women; 60% of all Recall signatures were women! My candid impression of the 85 Recall petiton signatures I personally got on petitions was that about 3/4 of them were women.

  • Walker got $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin, then they received their reward: AB463/SB368, 'Wetlands Deregulation Bill


Follow newspaper and blog postings on the Internet that are related to our struggles. Comment on every article that you can. While only an occasional letter to the editor will get published, these comment opportunities can all go into the belly of the beast. Note: pay special attention to the Journal-Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal http://host.madison.com/wsj/ online articles. Some really lively discussions take place there. More importantly, they have wide exposure to large segments of the voting public. Do the same, of course, with local newspapers.

I especially recommend posting to the Ashland Daily Press, a publication that is widely read in Bob Jauch's state senate district, and ground zero for the iron mining resistance movement. Jauch is now the target of a recall effort himself. In retribution for his attempt at putting some teeth back into the Republican-sponsored mining deregulation bill, a failed Tea Party candidate for Wisconsin Assembly named Shirl LaBarre is spearheading the effort. It is unlikely that they will succeed in garnering the needed petition signatures, but it is very worthwhile to stick up for Jauch, who has represented the 25th Wisconsin Senate District since 1987. Visit the [f]Facebook site in support of Senator Jauch at https://www.facebook.com/SupportBobJauch.

Put up signs on your yard, and in your business if you own or manage one. Use bumper stickers on your own vehicle, and pass them out to sympathetic friends.

Carry out public demonstrations in prominent areas. Get kids out there with signs that say “Support Our Teachers – Recall Walker” (or something to that effect).

Make contact with your local Democratic party organizers. Same with union organizers.

30 –

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March 23, 2012


Recall elections set


And Republican shenanigans continue


Meet the candidates for the gubernatorial race at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College on Saturday, March 24 starting at 5 p.m. This opportunity has been organized by the Sawyer County Democratic Party in conjunction with Indian Country Communications. EVENT IS NOW OVER. TO SEE VIDEO RECORDING GO HERE ===>



The big news is that the dates have been set for special elections in Wisconsin to recall Governor Walker, Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch, and four Republican state senators. Recently, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess signed off an agreement that makes May 8 the primary election date, and June 5 the big day when a field of Democrats or Independents will square off against the Republican politicians who have wreaked havoc with Wisconsin's political system.

The Wisconsin elections board unanimously voted earlier to order recalls against four Republican state senators, determining that enough valid petition signatures were submitted to make them face elections.

The field of candidates squaring off against Walker include:

  • Douglas LaFollette – Wisconsin Secretary of State since 1987

  • Kathleen Falk – former County Executive of Dane County, Wisconsin, serving from 1997 until 2011

  • Tom Barrett – **STILL TENTATIVE ** Democratic Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, serving since 2004, who was defeated by Scott Walker in his 2010 bid for the governorship

  • Kathleen Vinehout – Democratic member of the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 31st district since 2007

  • Peter Barca – Representative for the 64th District in the Wisconsin from 1985–1993, and 2009–present. He also served as a member of the U.S. Congress between 1993–1995 (Note: he is a life long resident of my home town, Kenosha.)


In the race for lieutenant governor, Mahlon Mitchell, the president of the Wisconsin Firefighter's Union, is the only declared candidate so far. Private investigator Ira Robins of Milwaukee has also indicated that he may run for the number two post.

In the race for the Wisconsin State Senate, the lineup is largely as expected: Lori Compas of Fort Atkinson, organizer of the Recall Scott Fitzgerald campaign, will run against him; former Sen. John Lehman will run against Sen. Van Wanggaard of Racine; former Rep. Kristen Dexter will run against Sen. Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls; and Rep. Donna Seidel will run even though her former opponent Sen. Pam Galloway of Wausau has withdrawn from the race.

Yes, you read that correctly. Pam Galloway has resigned from the State Senate, officially making the body balanced evenly with 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans. This has, in turn, changed the nature of committee assignments. Previously the State Senate was dominated by Republicans 19 to 14, then last summer recall elections were held for six Republican senators and three Democrats. None of the Democrats were defeated, but two of the Republicans were.

In the wake of those efforts, mainstream media labeled the proceedings as a failed attempt to take over the senate by the Democrats. But, with the count shaved down to 17 Republicans and 16 Democrats, it only took one swing voting Republican to defeat the recent mining deregulation bill.

That rogue Republican was Dale Schultz of Richland Center. He and Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) lead the effort to put some teeth back in the bill, which was written for billionaire coal mining magnate Chris Cline by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Now, a group has filed papers to begin a recall petition drive against Jauch, and is exploring the possibility of doing the same against Schultz. The Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) said its local organizations are moving forward with recall elections against both senators.

A failed Tea Party candidate for the Wisconsin Assembly, Shirl LaBarre, filed with the state's Government Accountability Board on Monday, March 19 to begin the process. She gave as her reason the belief that Jauch and Schultz impeded the adoption of the mining deregulatory bill. It is noted that in her 2010 attempt to gain a seat in the state legislature, she accepted $7,000 in contributions from the mining company people who stood to benefit by the bill's adoption.

LaBarre is also instrumental in a nascent movement to boycott the Bad River Tribe's casino. A [f]Facebook page called Boycott The Bad River Casino was formed in late 2011, along with one called Recall Robert Jauch. LaBarre has stated that CRG will mostly employ social media in its attempt to garner the 15,270 signatures necessary to trigger the recall election. The group has 60 days in which to do so. This is the same amount of time during which roughly 30,000 volunteers gathered nearly two million signatures that triggered the upcoming scheduled special elections.


Where we go from here

We've come a long way since December 15, 2011, when the Recall Walker petition drive started. Through the cold and snow of winter we soldiered on, garnering signatures by the hundreds of thousands. Then there was the battle to defeat the ferrous mining bill and its ugly conjoined twin, Gogebic Taconite's media blitz.

A citizen army showed the world that Wisconsin is still the cradle of the American progressive movement.

Now we march forward, not in lock step, but as individuals, determined to throw the bums out. It is now up to us to choose wisely, to select the best people from among a field of promising gubernatorial and senatorial candidates.

Study them. Do your homework. Continue to use the social media, community gatherings, friends, neighbors, families and congregations. Strategy is key. We need to anticipate the predictable ways in which the monied interests will fight us. We can't beat them at their own game, because big money will dominate the air waves.

We can win using the same grass roots, Occupy-Everything-Everywhere methods that are being employed around the world. Flash mobs. Political theater. Volunteer campaign working.

Here is my own contribution to the idea pool. Make use of letters to the editor of every newspaper in or near to Wisconsin. There are certain points that must be stressed over and over again. The following things are ammunition. Use them!

  • The ultra-rich Koch brothers and their buddies are already committed to pumping over $10 million dollars into supporting the Republicans, almost all of it out of state money. This point must be hammered home. The airwaves will be saturated in support of Walker. Use this very thing against him.

  • Walker and his aides are subjects of an ongoing FBI John Doe investigation into campaign and election fraud

  • Walker turned down $850 million in federal stimulus money for railroad infrastructure that would have created thousands of jobs.

  • Specifically try to counter act the Republican droning on and on about unions, as if union money can even come close to the billionaire donations. Unions are good things, they made our country great. I'm not saying to distance yourself from unions. But, don't let the right wingers get away with saying that's all these recall elections are about, either.

  • Unity is the goal. Stress the Wisconsin Idea, that we are all in this together. Reach out to Republicans who don't like the direction in which their party is going. And pay close attention to Independents, who are probably key to a successful Recall Election.

  • Walker is making our state's financial status worse, not better. He gave $2.7 million in tax breaks to the Koch brothers Georgia Pacific operation in trade for $4.3 million the Kochs spent to put him in office. (The $$ bought negative ads against Tom Barrett, whom Walker defeated.)

  • Walker's cuts to education are a disgrace, and make Wisconsin less competitive in the jobs arena.

  • There is nothing bad about recall elections. It was a 2002 recall election of Tom Ament that put Walker in office as Milwaukee County Executive in the first place.

  • Walker is the worst thing that has happened to our fine tradition of protecting the environment.

  • The Republicans treated our state's Indian tribes with callous disrespect, ignoring treaties that are upheld by Congressional approval and Supreme Court decisions.


Follow newspaper and blog postings on the Internet that are related to our struggles. Comment on every article that you can. While only an occasional letter to the editor will get published, these comment opportunities can all go into the belly of the beast. Note: pay special attention to the Journal-Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal online articles. Some really lively discussions take place there. More importantly, they have wide exposure to large segments of the voting public. Do the same, of course, with local newspapers. I especially recommend posting to the Ashland Daily Press, a publication that is widely read in Bob Jauch's state senate district, and ground zero for the iron mining resistance movement.

Put up signs on your yard, and in your business if you own or manage one. Use bumper stickers on your own vehicle, and pass them out to sympathetic friends.

Carry out public demonstrations in prominent areas. Get kids out there with signs that say “Support Our Teachers – Recall Walker” (or something to that effect).

Next week I'll write about my choice in the Democratic primary on May 8.

— 30 —


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December 26, 2013


Originally posted on July 25, 2011 •  Re-posted here in conjunction with the article below this one on misleading information about vitamins. Read them both.


Health 101


A topic most dear to my heart is: health. The basic concepts sound simple. You are what you eat. Stay hydrated. Exercise as much as possible. Practice mental health techniques. These fundamentals can be expanded.

Eating. There are some things that are necessary in our food. Vitamins, fiber, protein, essential fatty acids, minerals and live enzymes constitute the essentials. We are told by the talking heads on TV that just your basic, normal diet is good enough. Maybe take a multi vitamin if you wish, they say.

Here's a wake up call. Most doctors don't know a darned thing about nutrition. They may take one three credit course in nutrition during their eight or more years of higher education. Then again, maybe not.

What about dieticians? Not much better. Their idea of a balanced meal is a can of Ensure. Mention vitamins and you'll get the old line "they just make for expensive urine". Dieticians are the people who bring you hospital food, for crying out loud! Their guidelines are the Recommended Daily Allowances

The Recommended Dietary Allowance or RDA (sometimes referred to as Recommended Daily Allowance) is defined as "the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (approximately 98 percent) healthy individuals".

Note the wording here. "Nearly all healthy individuals." That would exclude smokers, people who drink more than a little alcohol, anyone with a common cold or other medical condition, those under much stress, folks who live in toxic environments, people who eat poorly, and those with hereditary conditions.

Sound like anyone you know? I'd say that describes a big chunk of the human population. Then there are growing children, who suffer badly from poor diet. Kids don't like to eat healthy fare, even when it is provided for them. They want to eat what they see in TV commercials. Sweets. Burgers and pizza. So-called energy drinks loaded with caffeine.

More wording: "sufficient to meet the needs". Sufficient means just barely enough. Nowhere does it say "optimum amount to maximize health". BIG DIFFERENCE!

Look around you. Overweight people are the norm, young and old. Take a stroll around WalMart and notice what people are buying. Look at what's for sale. It's enough to make you sick.

All right, Bailey, you're shooting your mouth off. What do you eat? I spend half of my food budget in the produce department, first of all. Four or five nights a week I make a salad with several kinds of lettuce, plus cabbage, carrot, cucumber, onion, tomato and radish. I use low-fat dressings, mostly made of vinegar, olive oil and spices.

If I want "fast food" I microwave a potato, steam some broccoli and add cheese and butter. That's right, butter. Back when my father had heart surgery in 1982, the dieticians recommended that he switch to margarine, which he did. Ironically, we now know that hydrogenated fat used in margarine is far worse than butter. The human body simply can't digest it properly.

Back then nobody told him about good cholesterol, Omega 3 fatty acids and so on. We now know that oils derived from fish, flax seed, olives and avocados are good for us.

What about food supplements? At the minimum, I take vitamins C, B complex, D and E, folic acid, calcium, milk thistle, garlic and flax oil. All are in levels much higher than you would get in a multivitamin.  When I can spend more money I take Co Q-10, which is the most potent anti-oxidant I know of. When money is no object at all, I take around 25 vitamins, minerals, herbs and neutricuticals.

What are anti-oxidants, and why do we need them? Think of the windshield wipers on your car. When they are new, they are flexible and do their job well. As they age, they get hard and lose that flexibility. That is due to oxidation, just like steel rusts. Oxidation of our tissues releases free radicals into our systems. These are rogue molecules that link with our cells and damage them. They are cellular poop.

Anti-oxidants are free radical scavengers. They pull the free radicals away from our cells and destroy them. The fact is that our bodies are forever being exposed to toxins. When we ingest the toxins, our bodies try to eliminate them. That's what the kidneys and liver are for.

In today's world, there's no getting away from toxins. Our food containers, cans and bottles, are all toxic. Aluminum alone is a deadly metal. Pop and beer cans, anti-antiperspirants and cooking pans all load us up with aluminum, which is a major contributor to the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease. Plastics leech estrogen mimics into our food.

What we can do is shop and eat intelligently. Drink fresh water. Get tons of fiber. In upcoming Namekagon Notebook columns I'll go into these topics in more depth. For now, if you've got to eat out, avoid fast food. Go to most grocery stores, where you can find salad bars that are inexpensive. At that same grocery store you can pick up single whole grain rolls. Butter is free at the deli. Bring water from home in a glass or stainless steel container.

Follow this simple rule: eat until you are no longer hungry, NOT until you are full.


— 30 —


December 21, 2013


Misleading news about multivitamins


I wrote this article a couple of years ago, when I complained about the perpetual cycle of vitamin supplement debunking every year at the start of cold and flu season.  This week, once again, like clockwork, the major media presented the results of a quasi-scientific study supposedly demonstrating that taking one multi-vitamin a day doesn't prevent cancer, heart attacks or Alzheimer's disease. No kidding!

But then they generalize a conclusion that there is no point in taking any vitamins at all. What they don't say is that even that measley little multi-vitamin is enough to prevent several deficiency diseases like scurvy and rickets. Scurvy is vitamin C deficiency, the first symptom of which is bleeding gums followed by loose teeth. Ask your dentist about that. Then there is folic acid, which prevents spina bifida in newborns.

Everybody knows that insufficient calcium leads to brittle bones. What they don't say is that without enough vitamin D, you can't absorb calcium. That's why it is included in all calcium supplements. Well, doesn't it make sense then that you can't properly absorb the calcium from food without the vitamin?

Don't tell me that vitamins are totally useless. And, don't tell me that you can get all the vitamins you need from an ordinary diet. Once again they trot out the "expensive urine" cliche. Here is a link to the study. Read it carefully and you'll see what I mean.

Below is my original article. This year's annual assault on nutrition just proves my point once more. Here is a balanced statement from the Harvard School of Public Health. Please read this for the truth about multi-vitamins.


Reprint from Oct. 19, 2011


They've done it again, and I just can't stand it. Last week the nightly news TV shows once more acted in concert to foist upon us a “study that suggests multivitamins may be bad for us”.

I'm used to this stuff. Every few months they trot out their running theme, reporting that efforts to bolster our health through the use of nutritional supplements are misguided, or even counter productive. It's the old “expensive urine” ploy.

This time they flaunted a study conducted at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health in Minneapolis by postdoctoral researcher Jaakko Mursu of Finland. The 19-year effort involved questionnaire driven self-reporting of 41,836 women to determine the relationship between weight and chronic disease. As a secondary focus, the women were also questioned about diet and other lifestyle factors. It was not a study about vitamins per se.

So far, so good. Just like the population of all women, those who took supplements tended to be healthier, with less diabetes, more normal blood pressure, and less fat than women who didn't. But, here's where it gets tricky. More of the women who took supplements died during the study than those who didn't.

So the news mongers, whose TV shows are sponsored largely by pharmaceutical manufacturers and hospital conglomerates, interpreted this study as proving that multivitamins are bad for us.

Huh? How did they make that leap? They headlined their segments with bullet points such as “New study shows that multivitamins may lead to a higher rate of death in older women”, and “Vitamin use not recommended for older women”.

That's quite a leap for an interpretation of five questionnaires over 19 years. Its author at UW-Minnesota even said that “the women who took supplements were more likely to be sick from other causes, and died from their underlying disease”.

Did you get that? The study's author, Mursu, said that the research did not explore whether supplements contributed to the causes of death among the women. But that is sure how the evening network news shows made it sound.

Such limitations led some to question the significance of the findings. "I wouldn't recommend anyone change what they're doing based on this study," said Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. "It's very hard to conclude cause and effect."

What is important here is to pay attention to the spin that the brainwashing machine puts on this relatively minor study. Put it in context. I know, it's hard to see the forest for the trees, but this happens about four or five times a year where suddenly, all acting together, the major news sources come out with a big pronouncement about how nutritional supplements are a waste of time and money.

And, it's not just TV either. Take a look at some radio, newspaper, and on-line headlines:

  • Too much vitamins dangerous for women: studyWorldNews Network

  • Older Women Should Avoid Vitamins, Study FindsHuffington Post

  • Well Blog: More Evidence Against Vitamin UseNew York Times

  • Supplements Look Risky In Study of Older WomenNational Public Radio

This is how it is played in mainstream media. Anything that promotes health by way of increased nutrition is harpooned. Why? It is because this concept presupposes the idea that average, normal diets don't supply all of the nutrients we need for good health. The flip side of this is the idea that with better nutrition, we would need fewer prescription drugs and medical procedures.

When do you ever hear about trace minerals, for example? Never. You will not hear in the mainstream media about their role in health. It isn't rocket science. When vegetables and fruits are grown in natural, undepleted soil, they take up more than just nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK), the common elements in fertilizer. They uptake more than 70 trace minerals like selenium, vanadium, boron, copper and so on.

What happens when crops are farmed on the same soil decade after decade with only NPK put back in the soil? The produce that we buy in grocery stores looks healthy. Great big green leaves of lettuce, huge onions and radishes, flavorful cabbages and cucumbers are all on display.

We are told by Dr. Oz and his fellow televised M.D.s that a plain old “good diet” with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables is all we need for good nutrition. Hmmm. Well, what about that?

Take a look at a bag of Science Diet dog food. It lists over five dozen trace minerals in its contents. Purina puts over 40 minerals in its lab rat feed. Every known vitamin is also included in those products. Yet there is no mention of trace minerals and vitamins as they relate to our health in any talk by the popular media about our diets.

Vitamins? Yikes! It is the old “expensive urine” argument all the way. If you take more than the government's Recommended Dietary Allowance (sometimes referred to as Recommended Daily Allowance) otherwise known as RDA, the talking heads say that you are just peeing money down the drain.

Let me relate a personal experience here. In 1973 I went on a college study trip to London, England with my fellow students in the Speech and Theater Arts program at Carthage College of Kenosha, Wisconsin. We went for a little over three weeks to attend plays, tour museums, and explore the castle and cathedral rich countryside.

The problem was that it was the year of the great London Flu Epidemic. Our trip, scheduled for January, was marred by the flu epidemic, which was so severe that the entire college was shut down before Thanksgiving of 1972, and did not re-open until nearly February.

About 30 of us flew over to London, accompanied by the Theater Department head, Dr. Tristram Shandy Holland. Pretty much everybody on the trip got very ill with the flu. Some were so bad that they were coughing up blood.

I, on the other hand, came through with flying colors. How did I do it? Well, I had recently become acquainted with nutritional therapy following a near-fatal car accident a couple of years earlier. I'd begun reading the works of biochemist Adelle Davis, author of the seminal work Let's Eat Right To Keep Fit. I took a number of bottles of vitamins with me on the trip.

Furthermore, when I became alarmed by the rampant illness among my friends, I struck out and found a local chemist's shop near our hotel. (The British call chemists what Americans refer to as pharmacists.) There I found the highest dose of vitamin C that they sold, a preparation of fizzing tablets containing 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C apiece. In America the legal limit is 500 milligrams per dose.

I took ten of them over a 24 hour period, one every couple of hours. That is ten full grams. After that I continued to take four a day. I never got even a little bit sick. Keep in mind, I was fighting the London Flu while in its epicenter.

I was also influenced by the work of Dr. Linus Pauling, the American chemist, biochemist, peace activist and author. He is one of only four people to ever win more than one Nobel Prize, and one of only two who got those honors in divergent fields: chemistry and peace prizes.

I call your attention to two of his many books. They are Vitamin C and the Common Cold, and How to Live Longer and Feel Better. The Nobel Prize winning biochemist was a firm advocate of high-dose vitamin C used orally for the promotion of everyday health, and of the intravenous use of huge amounts of vitamin C for the treatment of disease. In 1973 he founded the Institute of Orthomolecular Medicine in Menlo Park, California (later renamed the Linus Pauling Institute) to study the effects of what he called mega-nutrition. Pauling himself lived to be 93 years old. His institute is alive and well to this day.

My friends, we are entering a time when preventive health practices are finally being put to work by a sizable cohort of the population. Many fine health food stores can be found in towns large and small. Even the big box joints have a vast selection of vitamins, minerals and nutriceuticals.

Do your own research, starting with the three books I've mentioned in this column. Be forewarned, there is a lot of junk science out there that is bought and paid for by big pharma and the illness industry. They will always insist that vitamins are bad, and prescription drugs are good. Doctors will always promote expensive procedures and pills, pills, pills.

Even with my family's history of heart disease, I've never once had a doctor suggest that I take vitamins. Before my dad's open heart surgery in 1982 I tried to get him to take vitamins, but the doctors told him not to. He only lived three years after that surgery.

Meanwhile, the public perception of nutritional supplementation is fortified by corporate media as they did last week. Like the Pink Floyd song says, “All in all, it's just another brick in the wall”.


— 30 —

June 14, 2013

The NSA whistle blower offered asylum;

Iceland paliament member offers help

The ranks of America's top whistle blowers just grew by one third when 29-year-old Edward Snowden stepped forward to proclaim that privacy in this country has been reduced to ashes. He is a former technical assistant for the CIA and lately an ex-employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

He joins Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning as yet another brave soul who is willing to sacrifice his own safety and peace of mind in order to inform the public of secret government misdeeds. Last week Snowden revealed the workings of two clandestine National Security Agency (NSA) programs, PRISM and Boundless Informant. With direct access to the servers of companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo, the NSA uses those programs to compile files on everybody while acting in the name of counterterrorism.

Like perhaps thousands of other employees of both government departments and private contractors, he is privy to the system of information complilation and classification. The very same colossus that sweeps every corner of our digital universe also is capable of being the object of public scrutiny when operatives like Snowden step forward.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, but I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant." Having watched the Obama administration prosecute whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate, he fully expects the US government to attempt to use all its weight to punish him. "I am not afraid," he said calmly, "because this is the choice I've made."

It seems to me that his motive for doing this is twofold. First it is, of course, to draw attention to the NSA's broad stroke harvesting of information from Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other social media organizations. Keep in mind that Google also owns Skype and YouTube. Yahoo owns both Tumblr and Flickr.

The other thing I think Snowden seeks to point out is that the Obama administration is prosecuting whistle blowers at a rate far exceeding even his Republican predecessor. When it comes to the degradation of our rights in the eyes of the law, things just keep on accelerating. Snowden is, in my mind, a hero who points out the fact that Big Brother is more and more vulnerable to citizens who know how to use its system against itself.

Has he done any harm to our national security? James Clapper, Obama’s director of National Intelligence, has said that Snowden’s leaks did “huge, grave damage” to “our intelligence capabilities.”

John Cassidy of The New Yorker disagrees. He says the following.

Before accepting such claims at face value, let’s remind ourselves of what the leaks so far have not contained. They didn’t reveal anything about the algorithms that the N.S.A. uses, the groups or individuals that the agency targets, or the identities of U.S. agents. They didn’t contain the contents of any U.S. military plans, or of any conversations between U.S. or foreign officials. As Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists who broke the story, pointed out onMorning Joe” today, this wasn’t a WikiLeaks-style data dump. “[Snowden] spent months meticulously studying every document,” Greenwald said. “He didn’t just upload them to the Internet.” http://tinyurl.com/m6l4wbw

I know, the collecting of this data is not technically illegal, just like it isn't illegal for every camera on every street corner and in every business to compile data on our comings and goings. Nor is it illegal for local law enforcement agencies like police and sherrif's departments to observe us from drones they now buy with funds from Homeland Security.

We are on one big fat slippery slope, and we are sliding down it fast. Using facial recogniton software, our every move is now in data banks that collect millions of gigabytes of data every day. Probably nothing is ever going to be done with 99.999+ percent of this data. But, should any one of us become an “object of interest” to some powerful agency, it is all there, ready to be searched for, found, and compiled into a file that includes every computer keystroke, spoken word, and shopping trip we have ever made.

Perhaps PRISM and Boundless Informant are technically legal, but they are definitely dangerous to our individual integrity as citizens of the United States of America. The endless data mining of everything we do is immoral. It's just like racial segregation that was made legal by Jim Crow laws in the south. The demonstrators who protested it were the law breakers. They were willing to suffer the consequences of occupying lunch counters and sitting in the front of a bus in order to draw public attention to a situation that had to be changed.

So, I guess in the long run that Eric Snowden is more like Rosa Parks than Daniel Ellsberg. He still deserves to take whatever steps he can to avoid prosecution, including fleeing to China. It is a mixed situation. His seeking asylum reminds me of the situation with Julian Assange of Wikileaks. If he were to be extradited to America, he'd suffer a fate similar to Bradley Manning. Both Russia and Iceland are considering asylum claims by Snowden. Read more HERE and HERE.

Perhaps Snowden's actions are more about calling attention to Manning's punishment than they are about PRISM and Boundless Informant. That being the case, I am 100% in support of his actions.

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."   WINSTON CHURCHILL, NOV. 21, 1943

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October 12, 2011

Garlic Recipes


I love garlic. Maybe it is because I'm from Kenosha, a town with a large Italian population that has some of the finest Italian restaurants anywhere. I make a mean pan of lasagne. But, that isn't the only dish I know how to make. Lasagne is a lot of work. Here are two easy dishes that I frequently prepare involving allium sativum, the noble bulb of garlic.

The first is so simple that it qualifies as fast food as far as I'm concerned. You only need a big pot of boiling water and a microwave-safe bowl. It is spaghetti with clam sauce, an easy, quick way to get a hot meal with all of the benefits of garlic, fish protein and parsley. Here are the ingredients:

  • one can of chopped clams (do not drain)

  • one can of condensed clam chowder soup (do not dilute)

  • six big cloves of garlic

  • a tablespoon of olive oil

  • a teaspoon of butter

  • fresh parsley, stems removed and coarsly chopped

  • grated parmesan cheese

  • cooked spaghetti noodles to make enough for two large servings

  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Peel and mince garlic.

  2. Place in microwavable bowl with olive oil and butter. Cover and cook in microwave oven on high setting for 30 seconds. Sir and repeat.

  3. Open can of clams and put contents including juice into bowl with oil and butter. Cover and cook on high for one minute. Stir and repeat for another 30 seconds, until steaming hot.

  4. Add clam chowder soup. Do not dilute.

  5. Stir, cover, and cook on high setting for one minute. Repeat until steaming hot.

  6. Serve over cooked spaghetti with chopped parsley and parmesan cheese. Makes two large servings. Recipe may be multiplied for more servings.

Here is my favorite garlic recipe, one I like to do every other week or so. It is garlic chicken pizza. It can be extremely simple as well. Note that both garlic and onion lose their pungency and turn deliciously sweet when baked. The ingredients you need are:

  • a large bulb of garlic, separated into all of its cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

  • an 8 oz package of mozzarella cheese

  • one cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced

  • a medium yellow onion (or large if you like lots of onion), peeled and thinly sliced

  • olive oil

  • a prepared pizza crust (I recommend Boboli brand) or focaccia bread


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

  2. brush crust all over with olive oil

  3. spread out sliced garlic over crust

  4. spread out sliced chicken over crust

  5. spread out mozzarella cheese over all

  6. top with sliced onion (The more, the better, if you ask me!)

  7. bake for 25 minutes or until cheese begins to turn golden brown around edges


Garlic and onion both have enormous health benefits. They are natural antibiotics, fungicides, and have anti-viral properties. Garlic is recognized as being good for your heart, and it helps to chelate heavy metals out of the human body.

Since autumn is the time when garlic is dried and ready for storage, you can often find it for sale at farmer's markets. My friends Randy Borchardt and Joan Cevenka are proprietors of Sturgeon Waters Organic Gardens in Hayward, Wisconsin. They grow gourmet quality purple Italian garlic, which they sell for $10 a pound, with a dollar a pound discount for orders of five or more pounds. If you're interested, leave a voice mail message at 866-394-6946.

By the way, namekagon is the Ojibwe word for “sturgeon waters”. Their gardens are adjacent to the Namekagon River. Also worthy of note is the fact that Namekagon Notebook is written at the headwaters of that same river. Jackson Creek originates on my property. Rain that falls here ends up in the Gulf of Mexico.

The photo at the top of this week's Namekagon Notebook is by Madeline Sebek Marshall.

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November 16, 2011

It's time to recall Governor Walker


Yes, my friends, the time we've been waiting for since last spring is here. It is time to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. We now have less than 60 days in which to garner over 540,000 signatures on petitions that say we want a recall election. It's time to get it on.

What an exciting, uplifting time this is. Last week a Namekagon Notebook reader commented “how about something good or positive?”. I agreed with her, and pointed out that the Occupy Wall Street movement is definitely positive, a good thing. Likewise, I said that the encircling of the White House by 10,000 people on November 6 in protest over the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was a good thing.

Look what happened as a result of that! Mere days after the encirclement President Obama announced that his administration would put off a decision on the pipeline until 2013. Then the pipeline's proponents let it be known that the delay might be so costly that they'd drop the idea.

WE CAN DO IT ! We can recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Our concerted, united actions all add up. They nibble away at us, we nibble away at them. They are relentless, so are we. One day at a time, one battle at a time.

Now the Occupy movement is under attack everywhere in America. Over this past weekend, cities from New York to Oakland cleared out encampments. This seemed to have been coordinated on the national level.

On Monday, November 14, just hours before the petition drive began, the recall drive's main website, United Wisconsin, was the victim of a cyber attack. Our right to free speech is being impinged upon. Well, they may be able to repeatedly break up Occupy encampments around the country, but the powers-that-be can't stop our petition drive.

Make no mistake about it. This movement is being watched all around the country, and all around the world. We have a huge tide to turn, a momentous, weighty tide of encroachment upon the welfare of the people. We can't stop this assault on a dime.

Many twists and turns of this effort will seem discouraging, like last summer when Republicans and Tea Baggers retained control of the Wisconsin legislature after recall elections for 5 Republican state legislators. We have to remember that two of the G. O. Pee members of that body hit the bricks, replaced by Democrats. It's not like we got skunked.

Keep your eyes on the prize, my brothers and sisters. Download petitions and get informed at unitedwisconsin.com . There is much more you can do. There are yard signs, buttons and T-shirts to be had. Speak up at township and school board meetings. Donate money. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper.

Speaking of the media, it is very important to pressure TV, radio and newspapers to give the Recall Walker effort its fair share of coverage. If you feel that any of these media outlets are not adequately covering this topic, picket them. Don't think it's unfair to picket the media, either.

I've seen labor unions picketing out in front of the Duluth News Tribune when I used to sell advertising for them, and later, when I got home in Grand View, I saw TV coverage of those picketers. Plus, representatives of the newspaper were forced to respond on camera to the picketers demands.

Pretty powerful stuff. It is not enough to do a good thing. You have to tell people about it. Remember what Mahatma Gandhi said. "First they ignore you, then they make fun of you, then they fight you....then you win".

So, get out there and do it. Never leave home without a petition. Take them with you when shopping, dropping the kids off at school, going to church, the doctor's office and even when you're out jogging. This is something to be proud of.

Wisconsin is in the forefront of this nationwide struggle against fascism. Never forget that the iron fist of corporate money is behind the resistance to our struggle. You have the ability to vote with your dollars. If the media outlets aren't being fair, boycott their advertisers. And be sure to tell those advertisers why you are doing it. Make them feel the pinch.

Don't forget the social media, either. [f]Facebook is a huge player in this sort of thing. Go to http://www.facebook.com/IloveWisconsin . That is the main, state-wide [f] page. There are also [f] Groups for individual counties. If yours doesn't have one, start one. It's a great way to communicate with your fellows in the Recall Walker movement.

Even put your kids to work. You aren't doing them any favors by leaving them out of a political movement that will protect their teachers' salaries. Recall Walker T-shirts are made in small sizes, too. You don't think that union families from days of old insulated their young'uns from dinner table conversation about worker's struggles, do you? If the kids have opportunities to write book reports or other history papers in school, suggest that they read about the great organizers of the past like Martin Luther King, Mother Jones and Mahatma Gandhi.

Hold meetings and rallies. Demonstrate whenever the opportunity to confront politicians presents itself. This is an exciting time. You might want to keep a journal, take pictures, or put videos on YouTube. Tell your story far and wide.

The game is afoot. May the force be with you.


To comment on this blog post CLICK HERE


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April 13, 2012


Doug La Follette should be

Wisconsin's next governor


The time has come when we Wisconsin citizens can choose a better future for ourselves and our children. We need to, because the Badger State has been thrust into the forefront of American politics. The 2010 mid-term elections cost us a lot. We lost a fine, liberal Democratic senator, Russ Feingold. Worse yet, the Tea Party took over this bastion of progressive politics, foisting upon us Governor Scott Walker.

Within months of the time he assumed office, it became clear that he was an arrogant, deceitful, foolish little man, intent upon pleasing his corporate masters by betraying every principle of sound leadership. As time passed, he and the Republican leaders of our legislature added insult to injury time after time.

That is when the citizenry of this state stood up, put its collective shoulder to the wheel, and set about kicking Walker and his minions out of office. So, here we are, ready to choose on May 8th a candidate to oppose him. There are four Democratic candidates to choose from. In the order that they declared their candidacy they are Kathleen Falk, Kathleen Vinehout, Doug La Follette, and Tom Barrett.

Let me tell you why I choose to campaign on behalf of Doug La Follette. During the primary, I have the luxury of being able to vote for the most desirable person, knowing that whoever wins will get my vote when it comes down to defeating Walker.

When the Democratic candidate squares off against Walker, this thing will get ugly. The Tea Party, with its untold millions of dollars pouring in from corporate titans, will resort to negative advertising, character assassination, and lies. This is utterly predictable. That is how Walker managed to defeat Tom Barrett. The Republican Governor's Association, a super PAC replete with millions of dollars from the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch and their buddies, ran a $3.4 million dollar negative campaign blasting Barrett.

Of the four Democrats I can vote for on May 8, Doug La Follette is the least susceptible to negative advertising. He has acted to forgo large corporate and union contributions, electing to model his campaign along the lines of the six-term U.S. Senator Bill Proxmire, who was an early proponent of campaign finance reform. He has held the office of Wisconsin Secretary of State since 1987, carrying the statewide races with the overwhelming support of Democrats, Republicans and independent voters.

At 70 years of age, La Follette is a true elder statesman. Furthermore, he is a man of intellect. His educational resume includes: a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marietta College, a Master of Science in chemistry from Stanford, and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Columbia University. Before entering politics he taught at the University of Wisconsin—Parkside in Kenosha. (Disclosure here: I was a student there at the time, and remember seeing him around the campus.)

It was around then that he also got active as an environmentalist, forming a group called Wisconsin's Environmental Decade. This was later re-named Clean Wisconsin, and it exists to this day. Doug has been on the national boards of directors of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the prestigious Union of Concerned Scientists.

La Follette's environmental background is a huge factor in my endorsement of his candidacy. He has the chops to be the nation's leading environmentalist governor. While I am loath to say anything negative about the other primary candidates, I think that he is the only one of the four who would veto a bill aimed at de-regulating mining. At least, I hope he would.

I prefer to focus upon the positive aspects that Doug has brought to the table. It is his stated goal of bringing the various Wisconsin factions back together under the big umbrella of “the Wisconsin idea”. What is this idea? It is the notion that we can use our famous university system, citizen involvement and our natural resources to enrich our citizenry, both personal and business.

I have to say that Doug La Follette is just the nicest guy you could ever meet. This has always been his motto: "I believe my most important job is being there when you need help." - Doug La Follette, Secretary of State. As he travels around Wisconsin on the campaign trail, make sure you get to meet him when he is in your area.

This brings me to my final point. All eyes are on Wisconsin. This is now ground zero in the fight to restore our rights as citizens. We have to wrest control of all three branches of government from the Tea Party. As we struggle to do so, we assume a position of leadership on the national level. We aren't just voting to replace Scott Walker with a person who deserves to be our governor.

We are voting to dethrone big money from the position of dictatorship it has grabbed. On May 8th we won't just be voting for a Democrat to face off against Walker. In voting for Doug La Follette we will be selecting a person who disavows massive fund raising as part of political campaigns.

Join with me and vote for Doug La Follette. It will make you feel good about yourself.

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September 15, 2011

English is the craziest language


I've been a published writer for over 30 years. Writing is one of my favorite things to do. While working mostly at newspapers, the duties of editing and proof reading have also quite often fallen on my shoulders .

It's the proof reading that can be the most exasperating part of the job. There are just so many common errors that people make. I see them everywhere. I mean everywhere. For me, it's kind of like being the TV show character Adrian Monk. He sees disorder and confusion everywhere. So do I. Monk often mutters “It's a blessing, and a curse”.

True enough. I despair at the degradation of the English language, but I can't look away. One of the mistakes I see most often is the confusing of the words there, their and they're. Words that sound alike but are actually entirely different are called homophones. The three I just listed fall into that category. Let me elucidate.

  • There is a place. “I'm going over there”.

  • Their is a word denoting possession. “I'm going over to their house”.

  • They're is a contraction, short for they are. The apostrophe takes the place of the letter a. “They're coming over for dinner”.

Another trio of homophones is to, too and two.

  • To means toward. “He ran to home base”.

  • Too is comparative. “He ran too slowly”. Or “He ran too late”.

  • Two is 2. “I gave two examples, and this is number three.”

Here are a few other homophones that are commonly confused. Accept and except. Tail and tale. Weather and whether. You're and your. Figure these out on your own from the context.

  • I would accept your offer, except for the fact that we don't get along”.

  • He told a tale of how the tail wagged the dog”.

  • I'll be there whether or not the weather is bad.”

  • "You're going to regret your actions".

Can you see how the English language drives people crazy when they try to learn it? It must be maddening for foreigners who try to make sense of it. But, in all fairness, most Americans I know have a lot of trouble with it too.

Of course, spell check is of no use when it comes to homophones. As long as the mistaken word is spelled correctly, the computer doesn't catch it. A lot of times, when writing something as I do this column, I don't see my own errors. A trick that I often employ is to print out what I've composed. Seeing the same words on paper seems to somehow take different corridors thorough my brain. Oops! I mean through my brain. There, did you see that? The computer can't tell the difference between the two words. They aren't even homophones. It's just a common typographical error.

But, I digress. Crazy? I'll show you crazy. There is that little trouble maker, the apostrophe. Everybody seems to want to stick one at the end of a word where there is an “s” involved.

The sign says “Rose's for sale”. Rose's what? Rose's books? Rose's fake fingernails? In this usage, the apostrophe is possessive. This is not just Jim's opinion. It is basic English as it used to be taught in high school.

It gets a little trickier. As I pointed out earlier, the apostrophe is also used to shorten a phrase into a contraction. “Jim's coming over later”. What about Rose? “She's coming over, too”. Okay, so the apostrophe has two different uses that look alike. “Rose's coming over with Rose's roses”. Aaarrgh!

Now, comes the actual craziness. There is an exception when the word it is involved. I did this incorrectly in a story when I first started working at the Four Seasons News, and a retired English teacher corrected me most vehemently.

With the word it, the contraction rule applies. “It's okay” means “It is okay”. But, the possessive rule does not apply with the word it. “That is not its fault, it's just the way it is” said the English teacher.

Sigh . . . These are the rules. I didn't make them up. They were just hammered into my head by some great teachers back in the old days. You know, the 1960s. Notice, no apostrophe there. That's a plural. One Bailey, many Baileys.

Speaking of rules and Baileys, I commonly break a host of rules when I write. It's called creative writing. You may have noticed that I don't put the period within the final quotation mark at the end of a sentence. I quoted the Monk character as saying “It's a blessing and a curse”. See, I put the period after the quote marks. Improper, according to my American teachers of English, but that's how it is done in British English usage. I like it better that way. It seems clearer to me. Who invented English anyway? I do think that the British did.

Ask Monk. “No one seems to care. Well, I do. Hey, who's in charge here?”

I am.

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August 31, 2011

First Aid

I joined a volunteer rescue squad in 1965, when I was just 15 years old. It was, and still is, called the Scout Leader's Rescue Squad, headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Below is a picture of the very first SLRS emergency vehicle circa 1942.



We were all certified in Advanced First Aid by the Red Cross, in heavy duty rescue by Civil Defense, and in crowd control by the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department. Most of us were also qualified as teachers of the first two of those subjects.

While a member of the rescue squad, I learned that there are three things that can kill you in just a few minutes. Each of them is something that demands immediate, correct first aid action. They are:

  1. Severe bleeding

  2. Stoppage of breath

  3. Poisoning

These three things are listed in order of how quickly you might die. Severe bleeding is top of the heap, with death ensuing in under two minutes for the worst possible case.

As any deer hunter can tell you, a bullet through the heart means instant death. There is no first aid for that. But, the worst bleeding that can respond to first aid is the severing of the femoral artery as it descends from the torso.

Example: Twenty years ago a teenage boy was shot from the rear while fleeing from the owner of a restaurant in Iron River. The shot, fired in a darkened room, struck the lad in his butt, exiting from the front. It severed the femoral artery. The boy died just a few yards away, in the bushes outside of the restaurant. The coroner estimated that he died in about two minutes.

First aid for severe bleeding must be immediate. The first thing to do is the application of direct pressure on the wound. The second thing is to elevate the wound site above the level of the heart. Next, apply a pressure wrap to the wound; in extreme cases use a tourniquet. Finally, application of ice may constrict the blood flow to the area. Of course, call for help as soon as you can.

But, seconds count here. Start direct pressure before you do anything else. If you can begin first aid and have somebody else make the call at the same time, that's best. If the bleeding isn't too severe, you might be able to apply direct pressure with one hand and make the call with the other. With a cell phone, put it on speaker-mode. Most desirable of all is to control the bleeding completely. Stanch the flow, and then make the call.

Ideally, direct pressure is done with a clean, absorbent cloth. Anything from a handkerchief to a towel will do. If there is nothing quickly available, use your bare hands. At this point, infection is not an issue. Bleeding to death is. Later, after the bleeding is controlled, deal with cleaning and properly bandaging the wound site.

Next on the list is stoppage of breath. While teaching mouth-to-mouth respiration is best done in person, the steps are simple enough to list here. First, clear the airway of any obstruction. If the person has been eating, and if he is conscious, he will probably indicate with hand gestures that there is something stuck in his throat. If that's the case, the Heimlich maneuver is called for.

If the person is unconscious, tip his head back, open his mouth and look inside. If you see something, remove it with your fingers. If you don't see anything, reach down inside the throat with a finger and do your best to clear it out.

Here is where the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation begins. With the victim lying face up, put a hand behind the neck and lift, tipping the head backwards. This opens the airway. Then with one hand, pinch the nostrils closed. With the other, keep the head tipped back by continuing to support the back of the neck. Tightly cover the victim's mouth with yours and blow in. Turn your head and look at the victim's chest.

You should see the chest rise as the lungs inflate, and then sink as they deflate. Keep this up at a rate of about 12 times a minute (every five seconds). If you're lucky, the victim may begin to breath on his own after a few puffs. If not, keep this up until help arrives. There have been cases where mouth to mouth resuscitation went on for an hour, keeping the blood oxygenated enough to prevent brain damage and death. Simply don't stop until the victim is breathing on his own, or a professional takes over.

Finally, there is poisoning. When we think of this emergency, we usually picture it as being caused by swallowing a harmful substance. This may respond to first aid if the victim is conscious. You've got to draw a careful distinction, though. Some substances should be removed by inducing vomiting. Others are caustic and may cause worse damage by another trip through the esophagus. There is a very real danger of causing harm when a victim inhales vomitus into the lungs.

In both types of poisoning, there is one safe course of action: dilute the poison. If the victim is conscious, get him to drink copious amounts of water or milk. Milk has the advantage of providing a coating action to the membranous lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

The most important directive I can give you is: determine the nature of the poison. If there is a container with a written label, READ THE DIRECTIONS for accidental poisoning. Again, call 911 or otherwise contact emergency services. Call a hospital emergency room.

If the label says to induce vomiting, the best way is to have the victim swallow syrup of ipecac. This is a liquid that is sold at pharmacies whose purpose is to get someone to throw up. It is good to have on hand, especially if you are the parent of young children. Follow directions on the bottle. If none is handy, you can use mustard dissolved in water. Mix in some salt too, if there is any available.

In all emergency first aid situations, get help fast. Use your telephone. Scream for help if there is any chance you will be heard. Honk a horn. Wave at somebody. Summon help by every and any way you can.

I urge all of my readers to get training in these matters. The American Red Cross is a good place to start. Encourage your sons and daughters to join the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Local colleges and technical schools may offer classes. Ask your local police and fire departments about classes.

Remember the official Boy Scout Motto: “Be Prepared”.


More information about Kenosha County Scout Leaders Rescue Squad


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January 28, 2012

The State of our Union,

The State of The People


We recently had our annual cheer leading rally a.k.a. the State of the Union Address. I wish I'd had one of those clickers you hold in your hand to count people as they walk by, only I'd have used it to count the lies told by our Commander in Chief.

President Barak Obama, mister firm-and-earnest, set about reassuring us that “our best days are yet to come”. That was his premise, one of reassurance that we are not an empire in decline. We are not facing the biggest crisis ever in our history as a nation.

Click goes the clicker. Obama can't help but know that multiple threats, a perfect storm of crises, are wracking the bow of our ship of state. We sit upon the edge of financial ruin of a sort that created Nazi Germany, hyperinflation. An environmental crisis brought about by global warming is upon us. And the absolute destruction of our representative democracy is at hand. All empires eventually fall. Ours is no different. But, of course, the state of our union is sunny.

Click goes the clicker. Another lie. The war in Iraq is over. No, it is not. It has now been privatized, and is being conducted by mercenaries in our employ, orchestrated from the confines of what is now the largest embassy in the world with over 2,000 employees.

Click goes the clicker. Our military adventurism in Iraq has made us safer and more respected around the world. I think not. We have demonstrated our ability to kill a half million citizens of another country, destroy its infrastructure, litter it with armaments made of radioactive waste, and plunder its universities and museums of some of the oldest cultural artifacts and documents in the world.

We have shown an insane ability to make ourselves more hated, feared and despised, all of which sets up situations that will lead to more war. Iran is next.

This is where it got really twisted. Obama then said that we can lead the world in education, have a bunch of high paying jobs, and control our own energy.

Click, click, click. We are on course to worsen our education levels by doing away with public education on the K-12 level through privatization, and decreasing access to higher education by making it unaffordable for ordinary people unless they want to be saddled with massive debt. Tuitions are climbing steeply in colleges, universities and even technical schools.

We will never see wage levels that match those of decades past. Auto workers now earn half of what they did in the 1980s, and government bailouts allowed that to happen. They also allowed General Motors to default on the pension obligations earned by tens of thousands of good employees. They had contracts, they had unions, but that's gone by the wayside, never to return. Assembly jobs are being done overseas either by workers who earn far less than we demand in the U.S., or by robots. High tech jobs are also done in that manner.

Controlling our own energy? Our energy production and distribution is controlled by trans-national corporations. We the people have no say in the matter. Energy production will forever remain centrally controlled, produced and distributed. This is called hydraulic despotism, a term coined in 1957 by Karl August Wittfogel, referring to government control of citizenry through monopoly of water resources. It is now generally applied to monopoly control by government of any fundamental resource. We will only be controlling our own energy when its production is decentralized and renewable.

Wow, we've only made it through the first couple of minutes of the State of the Union address. At this point Obama said that we can achieve the aforementioned premises because we've done it before, after World War 2. What he didn't say is that everything was different then.

Back then we could achieve unprecedented growth and prosperity because we were a unified country, heavily industrialized and unionized.

Furthermore, we had plenty of tax revenue. Remember, taxes on earned income were at the 90% level for the wealthiest of Americans. And there were plenty of wealthy Americans because they had made money on war-based industry. Corporations payed $1.50 in taxes on their profits for every $1 paid by individuals on their income. Now the highest rate paid by the wealthy is theoretically 35% and, in reality, often only 15%. Corporations now only pay 35 cents for every $1 payed by you and me.

Education was free to veterans, who also had subsidized home loans. We lead the world in manufacturing jobs, and even had the money to get Germany and Japan back on their feet. We actually had a worldwide monopoly on all of manufacturing, because the war had destroyed everybody else's industrial capacity.

At this point my clicker melted. Obama said “No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits.” That statement implies that we have moved away from those realities. We have not.

We can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules,” said our president. This indeed is the heart of the matter. “Everyone plays by the same set of rules”, eh?

That's a good idea, but such has NEVER been the case. Nor will it ever be the case, as long as the ultra-rich rule this country. What is never acknowledged is that money is power. We're supposed to fall for the idea that one man, one vote makes us all equal. It does not. The wealthy portion of our citizenry will always be able to influence, to leverage the government, the society in which we live in ways that further increase their wealth and power.

The poor march off to wars that enrich the 1%. This is called the poverty draft. The poor fill up our prisons, which are increasingly private businesses. Often times, when it comes to sentencing, offenders are given the choice of either going to war or going to prison. The rich plan and execute the wars, using their media corporations to control popular support of same. The wars rack up massive unacknowledged government debt, on which we pay trillions of dollars in interest to the wealthy bond holders who don't pay taxes!!


Glimmers of hope

Whew, what a tirade. But, it had to be said. However......

For the first time in decades I'm beginning to believe that there is yet hope for a reformation of human society. Standing on the shoulders of the information technology explosion, people power movements around the world have sprung up.

Furthermore, affinities span the globe. When Oakland, California, police cracked open the head of Occupy Oakland demonstrator Scott Olsen, who had survived two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine, messages of support and solidarity came from around the world, including Egypt, France and Bolivia. The Occupy Movement did not go away. Rather, it is now girding itself for the biggest challenge ever. In May both NATO and G8 will meet behind closed doors in Chicago.

This is what Chicagoist has to say: “Adbusters, the Vancouver-based activist group who helped spark the Occupy movement, is calling for over 50,000 protesters to come to Chicago for the May NATO and G8 summits, and they're invoking the ghosts of Chicago history in the process.” It promises to be as significant as the summer of 1968. One can only hope that Occupy Chicago will be less violent.

Would you like to hear some good news regarding rejection of trans-national corporate dictatorship? Try this on for size: Venezuela is now replacing the International Monetary Fund as lender of last resort to South America. With oil now at $60 per barrel, President Hugo Chavez's government loaned Argentina $2.4 billion so it could say “adios” to the IMF. In spite of a 2002 coup that overthrew Venezuela's government, Chavez is back in power as president of a democracy that has been certified by the Organization of American States, the Carter Center and the European Union as having above board, “transparent” elections.

Meanwhile in the U.S. Connecticut became the eighth American state to participate in the program by which Citgo Petroleum Corp. provides discounted heating oil for poor people. Citgo is owned by the Venezuelan government. In the contest for the hearts and minds of the hemisphere, Venezuela is clearly winning.

Closer to home, I'd like to point out that banks don't have to rule over the people. In an upcoming Namekagon Notebook I'll be writing about the Bank of North Dakota, the only state owned bank in the America. Furthermore, credit union membership is on the rise.

The movement to de-humanize corporations is spreading across America. Cities that have passed resolutions against corporate personhood include New York, Los Angeles, Boulder, Oakland and Albany. Recently, Montana’s Supreme Court restored a 100-year old provision banning corporate spending in local politics.

Vermont introduced a measure in the state legislature last week that calls on Congress to create a constitutional amendment separating the rights of individuals from those of corporations. California is expected to be the next state to take up a state-level resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision.

And best of all, the citizens of Wisconsin just collected over a million petition signatures in a mere 60 days to force a recall election for Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Turning this ship around will be no easy feat. The battle has just been joined. But it is on, brothers and sisters. IT IS ON !!



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January 11, 2012


The battle in the Penokees

Why the GTAC Cline Mine Bill must not become law


[ This is the testimony that I spoke on Saturday, January 7, 2012 during a protest demonstration held at the Ashland, Wisconsin high school in lieu of a Mining Committee hearing that had been canceled. It was later entered into official testimony in written form at a hearing held in Hurley Wisconsin on January 11,2012 ]

Hello. I am James Richard Bailey, a resident of Grand View Township in Bayfield County, Wisconsin. This is my testimony regarding Assembly Bill 426, also known as LRB 3520/1 proposed by Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald on December 8, 2011. I will refer to it henceforth as GTAC's Cline Mine Bill, for reasons that I will make clear shortly.

I oppose this bill. So does the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

This proposed bill is not needed, because we already have a mining law on the books. This is the law under which the Flambeau Mining Company created and operated a copper mine in Ladysmith during the 1990s. It is not a perfect law, in my opinion, but it is certainly more desirable than the GTAC Cline Mine Bill. In a memo to Wisconsin Representatives and Senators, former Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary George Meyer said the following:

  • The mining of an iron ore body can result in environmentally damaging acid generation and drainage. Therefore, iron mining can cause severe environmental damage just like a sulfide mine. Just because the iron ore lode does not contain sulfides does not mean that the overburden (soil and rock above the lode) has no sulfides in it.

  • The potential for damage also depends upon the amount and configuration of lakes and streams in the area, the nature of the land itself around the proposed mine, the plant and animal species present around the mine and downstream from it, the length of time the mining will take place, and the configuration of the pit itself.

  • Too tight a deadline, as the proposed Cline Mine Bill provides for just one year and then mandatory enactment kicks in, gives insufficient time for proper environmental studies or for public input.

  • The Flambeau mine shows that the current mining law can process a properly prepared mining application in a reasonable amount of time, about four years in that case. Since the effects of such a mine continue virtually forever, what is the harm in taking as many years as are necessary to do the permitting job right?

  • The Bad River Watershed is uniquely sensitive, and should be given the utmost in protection, which the proposed ferrous mining bill does not allow for.

  • Finally, even a well regulated mine can result in environmental damage. The so-called “reclaimed” Flambeau mine is now polluting the Flambeau river, which is only 130 feet from the old mine pit, and which is fed by small streams originating in the mine itself.


These points are from George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. He was also the DNR Secretary from 1993 to 2001 under Republican Governor Tommy Thompson. He has had extensive experience in regulating mining in Wisconsin during that tenure. And he says that the existing laws are suitable for application to the GTAC project proposed for the headwaters of the Bad River Watershed.

I say that the existing law isn't strict enough, and GTAC's Cline Mine Bill proposes to deregulate the existing law in outrageously significant ways. The existing law allowed for variances that put the Flambeau Mine far too close to a nearby navigable waterway, and allowed the mining company to proceed without proper baseline monitoring for radioactivity. Without proper baseline monitoring so we know the levels of radioactivity and other toxins in the water, there is no way to know if those levels have been increased by mining and reclamation activities.

This proposed GTAC Cline Mine Bill is being sold to the public as a jobs bill, which is why it is being managed by Mary Williams' jobs committee. The fact is that mining is a boom to bust activity. The Ladysmith Mine produced $132 million in gold, $16.5 million in silver, and $400 million in copper for a total of $548 million dollars in 1990s prices. That is a half billion dollars worth of minerals taken out of the ground there, and all Ladysmith got out of it is one fire truck.

There was only minimal employment generated in Ladysmith while the mine was operating, and there has been no residual increase in the employment rate there due to the mining whatsoever.


This proposed legislation is a special purpose effort meant merely to deregulate and dilute our existing law so the Cline Mining group can come in here and extract ore for one purpose: profit. They are not in the business of creating jobs. They will hire as few people as possible, using existing employees from their organization to construct the mine and operate it. They greatly exaggerate the number of jobs it will create in the north by including overly optimistic projections of how many other jobs will come about from building mining equipment down in Milwaukee, shipping taconite pellets to smelters, and secondary spin off work at stores and restaurants on down the line.

You want to talk about jobs? Right now, the biggest employer in this area is the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. They are firmly opposed to GTAC's Cline Mine Bill. Why? The Bad River Reservation is dependent upon the quality of air and water in the Bad River watershed. They get their drinking water from deep wells using the aquifer of this watershed.

Their reservation includes the Kokagon Sloughs of Lake Superior, the largest fresh water estuary in all of the North American continent. It is their ancestral source of wild rice, the sacred manoomin that is the first solid food eaten by their infants, and the last eaten by elders before passing to the spirit world.

Countless fish, birds and mammals are sustained by this estuary, known far and wide as the Everglades of the North.

This proposed legislation must not be enacted, for it would surely allow the greedy Christopher Cline and his heartless corporation to rape this land and forever ruin the Bad River Watershed. His company has never operated a metallic mine. All Cline has ever mined is coal, and he is notorious for mountain top removal in Appalachia.

Fortunately, the Bad River Band is signatory to treaties with the United States government that guarantee in perpetuity their retained right to hunt, fish and gather the natural resources in northern Wisconsin, the territory they and other bands of Chippewa Indians ceded to the U.S. Their rights to carry on these activities unhindered by environmental depredation were not GIVEN to them. These are rights they had before white man came here, rights that they retained as conditions of the treaties. These treaties are the highest law of the land, and they do not disappear with the passage of time. They are eternal.

Finally, we must not let this law be enacted, because it is part of a decades old plan to turn the northern part of Wisconsin into a mining district with approximately ten mines and a number of smelters. The north is one big ore body from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. Over 20 years ago the Wisconsin Department of Revenue predicted that this district would contain ten or more mines and a number of smelters. All of these outfits would be at the headwaters of either the Great Lakes or the Mississippi River. The proposed open pit iron mine in the Penokee Mountains would sit astride the top of the Continental Divide of Northern Wisconsin and, as such, it would pollute both the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watersheds.

And that plan to create a mining district is part of a much larger plan to privatize every aspect of life in this state, from the natural resources, to the schools, cities, counties and everything we do from birth to death. These mega-corporations have taken over our legislature, our courts and our governing executives for the purpose of shoveling the wealth up from the bottom to the top tiers of society.

Our very freedom itself is at stake. Our right to govern ourselves. Assembly Bill 426 must not become reality. Our voices will be heard. And our voices will be obeyed by those who represent us in government.

— 30 —

The entire testimony of that day can be found at this link http://livestream/1dDYN

ARCHIVE article on Flambeau Mine is all the way at the bottom of this page

To comment on this topic go to Namekagon Notebook [f] Discussion Group





January 1, 2012


Keep your eye on Walker's TV coverage


Here we are, my brothers and sisters, at the end of 2011 and the beginning of a new year. I didn't know what to expect from 2011 as it dawned a year ago, and I don't think I could have predicted the flurry of activity that we've seen.

The corporitization of America seemed to be marching along inexorably. Frankly, I was close to giving up hope that We The People would break through the barrier of complacency into an era of activism, but we have done just that.

As I go around collecting signatures on petitions requesting a recall election for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, I often remark that I haven't been this excited about a political activity since I campaigned for Eugene McCarthy in 1968. It's true. The very act of participating in this democratic exercise is invigorating.

Could it be because there is now a palpable enemy, a face to put upon the dark forces that have been steamrolling over our rights as citizens? Yes, it could be. Focus is good. Scattered efforts often bring no results at all. A concerted, united drive to recall from public office an official who personifies the addiction of our political leaders to massive money, this is something I can get behind!

There's a chink in the armor of the Koch brothers and their ilk. They have gotten so bold, so confident that they no longer even make an effort to hide their plan to do away with democracy in the U.S.A. They don't even ask us to “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” any more.

Well, good. Let them step into the limelight. Let them thrust out their chests and dare us to do something about it. We will. We are. At first they mocked our preparations to get this petition drive going. Then on November 15th they predicted we'd never get enough signatures to pull it off. Once it became apparent that we would in fact garner sufficient numbers, they resorted to saying that Walker would beat whoever we could put up against him.

Now we have collected the 500,000+ signatures needed to recall Governor Walker, and our final push is on to ensure that we have enough extra signatures that no amount of elimination due to technical errors can derail this train.

Predictably, the Walker-ites have now resorted to deceit in their program of defense. Last Wednesday I was watching the 6 o'clock local news on KBJR, the NBC affiliate in Duluth, when host Michelle Lee lead off with her top story: Governor Walker had just gone on record as officially accusing the Recall Walker petition drive of obtaining a large number of duplicate signatures. How could he claim this, when there had as of yet been no examination of the petitions? He couldn't. It was just one example of a big lie that the Republicans expect will be believed by their camp. After all, the big lie is a tried and true strategy in fascist societies.

The report sported the requisite footage of Walker making his claim. Then, on the heels of that opening segment, Michelle Lee introduced the next segment, saying that “Our news camera caught just one such incident as it took place”.

What came next caused my jaw to drop. Cut to a shot by the side of a city street, where an unidentified lady was bent over, apparently signing a Recall Walker petition. She is heard to say to the unidentified petition circulator that “I sign one of these every time you come out. I hate [expletive deleted] Walker”.

Then, in the blink of an eye, it was over and Lee was on to another segment. This obviously contrived load of bovine manure was intended to give credence to the statement that Walker was shown making moments earlier. I mean, how many signers did they have to film before they got one stupid enough to say on camera that she was fraudulently signing a petition? Why didn't the petition circulator say something, and if he did, why wasn't it included in the segment? Why were both circulator and signer unidentified? The whole thing seemed totally bogus to me, designed to discredit the scrupulous job Recall Walker petition curculators are doing.

It was if KBJR was saying, “See, we told you so. Now do you believe us?” No, I sure as hell don't. What I believe is that some idiot in the TV station's management thought he or she could put a little corporate weight behind Walker's big lie.

If there hadn't been another person in the room with me who confirmed what I had just seen, I wouldn't have believed my eyes and ears. I immediately fired off a letter to the editor of the Duluth News Tribune, to KBJR and, for good measure, to one of the TV station's sponsors. (I do believe that media sponsors are sensitive to this sort of embarrassment.)

This made me believe that Walker and the Republican party he represents are beginning to feel the heat. We have slightly widened the chink in their armor. They are scared that all of Walker's shady, underhanded activities will come out.

The FBI John Doe investigation into Scott Walker and his cronies using Milwaukee County government assets for Walker’s political career and other sordid chicanery. Milwaukee County prosecutors have opened an investigation into voter bribery allegations. Irregularities in the election of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Prosser. Cronyism with the Fitzgerald brothers running both houses of the Wisconsin legislature. Breaking the open meetings law, exaggerating the damage caused by protesters in the Capitol building, the influence of the Koch brothers, and the fact that he used the recall election of another politician to propel himself into the office of County Executive of Milwaukee.

My great hope is that we will succeed in throwing Walker out of office. This would get some real traction in the national press, maybe put some fear into the selfish politicians who want to privatize every aspect of life in the U.S.A.

It's like this. Did you ever have occasion to open a jar with a really tight fitting lid? You squeeze, and flex your muscles, grimacing with the effort. Again and again you try. What was that? Did it seem to move an infinitesimally small amount? Again...yeah, you think it is beginning to budge. Then finally....yes, you've got it.

We are beginning to budge the lid on this thing, this G.O. Pee / Tea Bagger takeover of America. There is hope that in 2012 we can genuinely begin to flex our solidarity muscles. We are the 99% and we will not only be heard, we will force some real change.

Fight on, brothers and sisters. Fight on.


— 30 —


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August 24, 2011


Information Revolution


For the biggest part of my life, the number of pictures I took was determined by how much film I could afford to buy and have developed. It's altogether different with digital photography because with it I can shoot as many pictures as it takes to do the job. Then I pick the ones I like and delete the rest.

Furthermore, in the old days, I accumulated box after box of slides, prints and negatives. Vaguely labeled, they now gather dust, unviewed and unused. In contrast, my digital pictures are tagged by the day they were downloaded, and exist in neatly ordered files accessible at the click of a mouse.

While I miss the mystique of the darkroom, the slick feel of paper in developer, the acrid smell of stop bath, I treasure the time saved by modern methods.

I liken the digital revolution to the inventions of movable type and even of the library. In the blink of an eye, everyman is a publisher, a printer, a movie maker, a researcher. If you ask the right question, you can find out any fact under the sun.

While some may decry time wasted by the masses on gaming and [f]Facebooking, thousands of professions have been advanced by the information explosion. We don't really have to waste our attention on trivia. There is great art and literature on the net. Forums abound. Bookkeepers in scattered locations can all work in unison on the same spread sheet.

What's more, the net is not the whole of it. To me the information revolution's biggest impact is the word processor. Lord Almighty, what an advance over the typewriter or pen and paper it is. In 1979 I worked at Gillette Papermate's world headquarters in Santa Monica, California, where I was an export expediter.

What that fancy title meant was: I sat at an IBM Selectric typewriter, banging out federally-required export paperwork at 80 words per minute; not in duplicate, not in triplicate, not in quadruplicate, but in pentaduplicate carbon copies. No erasing or whiteout allowed.

There was always a truck waiting to depart from our warehouse loading dock, on a tight schedule to make a flight at LAX airport. You talk about pressure! Egad, on top of it all, I had to learn to touch-type the entire numbers row, upper and lower case, and run a 10-key calculator on the side. Not surprisingly, I only lasted three months. The pressure was too enormous.

I just didn't hear the head of export explain that, if I stayed, I'd be working on a newfangled thing called a computer that would make my life easier once I got the hang of it. Little did I know!

Yes, little did I know of what was to come about. From punch cards, to tape drives, to 8 inch floppy disks, to 4 inch floppies, to 2 ¼ inch floppies, to CDs and USB flash drives we have marched inexorably toward more sophisticated portable storage media. In a whirlwind of change, chips and hard drives of ever increasing capacity brought with them the nomenclature of bits, bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes and now terabytes.

The Internet itself is an innovation worthy of the ages. It is inherently democratic, an ever-spreading group mind. Wikepedia alone has 19 million articles (over 3.7 million in English). It is the ultimate encyclopedia, written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site, and it has about 90,000 active contributors. [This is according to the Wikepedia article entitled “Wikepedia”.] Now, social media like [f] are the organizing factors in revolutions from Egypt to Wisconsin.

Not that all of this is just peachy. When powers-that-be wish to quash a rebellion, they shut down cell phone towers and hack (albeit crudely) our PCs, e-mail and voice mail. George Orwell's character Big Brother from the novel 1984 is alive and well in today's reality.

Every click of a mouse, every word uttered in an e-mail, every photo posted to [f] is all compiled somewhere. This fact is flaunted by name with the inception of The Cloud. Store all of your computer's information on the big server in the sky. Back up your entire cache of data to it. Don't worry, it's encrypted (wink, wink).

When I use [f], Photobucket, YouTube, even the archaic MySpace, I know that the mega-supercomputer, which is comprised of the totality of all the interconnected computers on earth, is watching and remembering.

So, it is up to us to program that colossus ourselves. If it eats, breaths and lives on its information input, we must remember that we are doing the inputting.

And, of course, there are the men in the shadows who make use of this uber-abacus. They are compelled, they feel, to steer the ship of humankind, not for the benefit of all, but for the benefit of the few. It is you and me down in the steerage manning the oars, however.

We must turn this ship around, however slowly, using whatever tools are at hand.


— 30 —




August 17, 2011



Making your own yogurt


Yogurt is a wonderful food that has many uses. We're all familiar with sweetened fruit yogurt, which is available anywhere that sells groceries. And, that's about it for most folks. But, yogurt can be used in all sorts of other ways.

My first experience with one of those ways took place in a Greek restaurant in London circa 1973, where I had a side dish of sliced cucumbers in yogurt flavored with garlic and dill. Try it some time. All it takes is the ingredients I just named and some plain yogurt. Slice the cucumber thinly, and allow it to drain on paper towels while you mix finely minced garlic and some dill weed with plain yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix together. Refrigerate for an hour and eat as a cool side dish.

However, why continually buy yogurt at nearly a buck for a 6 ounce container, when you can make your own? It's a piece of cake to do. Yes, for the starter you need one of those small containers of plain yogurt. Or, you can buy powdered acidophilus starter at a health food store, which I have never used. So all I can say about that product is to read the directions on it before embarking on this culinary journey.

After you've made your own yogurt, you can just freeze some of it and use it to start the next batch. It's sort of the same principle as sourdough.



====>> Here's what you need to make one quart of Greek-style yogurt:

  • a clean 1 quart canning jar with lid and ring

  • a glass or plastic measuring cup

  • 2 cups of powdered milk

  • 2 ½ cups warm water

  • 1 envelope of Knox Unflavored Gelatin,

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (or more to taste) vanilla
  • a small container of fresh plain yogurt (room temperature) or dried acidophilus

  • wooden spoon.

  • optional: a glass candy thermometer


====>> Procedure:

  • Soften gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water for 5 minutes

  • Heat gelatin mixture in microwave for 1 minute, then stir
  • Put powdered milk in canning jar, add warm water until 2/3 full

  • Mix dry milk, stir with wooden spoon until dissolved

  • Mix in sugar, gelatin mixture and vanilla

  • Mix in starter yogurt or acidophilus

  • Pour into canning jar

  • By now the jar should be full. If not fill with warm water to within 1/2 inch of top, stir.

  • Keep yogurt mix warm, about 100 degrees, stirring occasionally. Yogurt will be milk-like in consistency for several hours. Then it will gradually start to thicken. It usually takes about 12 hours for yogurt to fully thicken.

  • When yogurt is done, fill 1/2 ice cube tray with some of it and freeze. When solid, pop the cubes out and store them in a ziplock baggie. This is your new starter, so you don't have to keep buying packaged yogurt to repeat this recipe. When you're ready to make more, thaw the cubes to room temperature. After several generations you might need to buy more starter.


====>> Incubating: how to keep yogurt warm, but not too warm.

Yogurt is a live, growing thing, sort of like bread dough. For the acidophilus culture to incubate, it likes to be about body temperature, like a baby's bottle. If it's too cold, it just won't grow. If it's too warm, you kill the active culture and, you guessed it, it just won't grow.

So, here's how you accomplish this task. I like the cooler and bottles of hot water method. Use an insulated cooler with several large bottles of very hot water. Fill large bottles with the hottest tap water you can muster and set them in the cooler with your jar of yogurt ingredients. Close up tight and leave for 8 to 12 hours.

When it gets to the consistency of cream of wheat, you are there. Remember, the yogurt will firm up when refrigerated due to the Knox gelatin. If some liquid rises to the top when the yogurt is cold, just drain it off. It is merely whey.

When the yogurt is good and thick, refrigerate and enjoy. Try some plain, right out of the bottle. It is naturally sweet and oh so good!

Of course, you can add a variety of fresh fruit to your new treasure, or mix it with mayonnaise for a reduced calorie version, add it to cold cereal with milk, or invent your own recipes. You can also mix it with jam, canned pie filling, maple syrup, or vanilla. Use your imagination.

In a future Namekagon Notebook I will discuss the myriad health benefits of eating yogurt rich in acidophilus bacteria.


30 –



August 10, 2011




What do you think about? I mean, as a general rule, what goes through your mind when it's allowed to just run free? During moments when you're taking a shower, for example, or driving, is your mind a jumble of words, an interior conversation relating to worries, hopes, remembrances, problems to solve, et cetera? Does this mental state seem to be the norm?

I call this jumble of words the semantic grid. This grid is a sort of filter through which we perceive reality. It is a cliché of awareness study that, if we don't have a word for something, we can't conceive of its existence. For example, if you don't have a word for the way sand particles all fit together in an enclosure, you can't conceive of the concept of compaction. Supposedly, if there was no word for window, we couldn't conceive of one.

Is there ever a time when you are awake and functioning when your mind is not filled with words? Perhaps this might occur when, say, you're pitching a baseball. Or when singing, swimming, or sawing a board. How does this state of mind differ from the “constantly thinking words” state of mind?

Does the constant preoccupation with thoughts affect our abilities? How does peace of mind fit into this picture?

This brings me to the topic of meditation. A long time ago, back in the mid-1970s, I paid good money to learn Transcendental Meditation (TM). I had a practical reason for doing so, being plagued with frequent migraine headaches. And, it was a time when TM was very much in the news.

The Beatles had gone to India to study in the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a very public promulgator of the technique. They even wrote a song about meditation called Tomorrow Never Knows from their Revolver album.

After the song's opening strains there are these lyrics:

Turn off your mind, relax
and float down stream
It is not dying
It is not dying

Lay down all thought
Surrender to the void
It is shining
It is shining

That you may see
The meaning of within
It is being
It is being

That love is all
And love is everyone
It is knowing
It is knowing

Those lyrics are a poetic description of the meditative state. To turn off one's mind and lay down all thought is exactly the goal of meditation.

Here's an example of how words/thoughts get in the way. When you are listening to someone speak, do you constantly consider how you will reply to that person, mostly wishing he or she would finish talking so you can speak? This is only halfway listening. The semantic grid interferes.

When meditating, we should arrive at a state of clarity where the mind is open, but not anticipating anything at all. This is simply a state of being.

One method of attaining such a state is mantra meditation. This is a process that involves silently repeating a meaningless word over and over until the mind quiets down. Briefly at first, then more and more, moments of stillness occur. The meditator is fully awake, but the mind becomes still.

To meditate thusly, one assumes a comfortable pose, usually seated with hands resting on thighs. After settling the body down, the mantra comes to mind, is repeated over and over timed with breathing. Finally, the mantra itself ceases. It gives way to a state of clarity that is devoid of thought.

This process should be effortless. Effort is still thought. As one gets more adept at meditation, the mind seeks that quiet place because it is so pleasurable to rest the mind. It comes easily and quickly. Effortlessly.

The physiological and psychological effects of meditation upon human health have been the subject of many clinical studies within the medical community. Different sorts of apparatus can actually measure changes in brain waves, brain chemistry, breathing, blood pressure, electrical conductivity of skin due to sweating, heart beating, blood oxygen level and other factors. On a simple level, that is what a polygraph (lie detector) measures.

Since the brain is the master brake cylinder of the body, all of these various factors are regulated by it. We know that when meditating there is a relaxation response similar to deep hypnosis. My personal feeling is that learning to meditate is actually a form of self-hypnosis.

The Wikepedia article entitled Meditation Research states: “Electroencephelograph (EEG) recordings of skilled meditators showed a significant rise in gamma wave activity.” What this means is that many different neural circuits in the brain begin to fire in unison.

The article continues: “Experimental...data shows the ability to put the brain into a state in which it is maximally sensitive and consumes power at a lower (or even zero) rate, briefly.”

These brief moments of clarity lengthen with practice. Shutting down the semantic grid on a regular basis with daily meditation draws that state of mind into ordinary consciousness. The benefits extend into everyday life.

For one thing, I no longer get migraine headaches. For another, I find that peace of mind is always just a breath away. Ssshhhh. Relax my brothers and sisters.


30 —




August 3, 2011


TV is hypnotic

TV is hypnotic. On some level, we all know that. It's why DVD players are now commonly sold in family minivans. Do you want the kids to shut up during a long trip? Plug in Toy Story 16, or Batman 42.

Have you ever been in a room with the TV on in the background where people were engaged in conversation, when the weather forecast comes on and suddenly everybody shuts up? Are we programmed or what?

"Hey honey, the kitchen is on fire!"

"Yeah, yeah, I'll put it out when the commercial comes on."

Seriously, though, I've watched TV since its inception. I was born in 1949, the year that regular network commercial broadcasting began. Even then it was hypnotic, but that long ago people were unaware that there is never a complete picture on the screen all at once. Then some photographic types tried at home to take pictures of TV shows and wondered why only part of the picture was there. Why was that?

Scan lines, they're called. The cathode ray tube, commonly called a picture tube, squirts electrodes in a narrow stream back and forth across the back of the screen at a rate of 30 lines per second. That's what is so hypnotic about it. It's not unlike movies, where the frames, each one an individual still picture, flicker by at a rate of 24 frames per second. The eye gets fooled into seeing motion.

Actually, it is the brain that gets fooled. And, there's a lot of that going around these days. TV used to be hypnotic by accident. Now it is by design. Watch a network news show. Notice how there is subtle movement in the background or edge of the frame when Peter Jennings is talking to us. See the slow flow of colors and shapes in background graphics. Watch the flow. Be the flow . . . when you wake up you will remember nothing except what we want you to remember.

Snap. Wake up! Pay attention, folks. Our brains are computers. Like electronic computers, our brains are programmed and then fed information. When we watch TV, we willingly let it all in.

It is shocking how our mass consciousness is manipulated by the content of TV programming. After the war in Afghanistan began in the wake of the 911 tragedy in New York, I interviewed a sixth grade class in Hayward, Wisconsin. When asked what country the terrorists had come from, the kids all said Afghanistan. Not one was aware that 15 out of the 19 airplane hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. It's the old computer programmer's cliche in action: "Garbage in, garbage out".

Being a media analyst by both formal education and sad necessity, I recall when the first prescription drug advertisements began on TV. Remember Claritin, with its commercials showing hot air balloons and a voice-over singing "Blue Skies"? It was novel then. Now I swear that, for advertising placements, prescription drugs outnumber cars and fast food combined.

These days the new hot contender for advertising domination is the cell phone, which has morphed into a mobile computer. We are so hooked that it is no longer necessary to go through a hospital switchboard to talk to patients. They answer their cell phones as soon as the anesthesia wears off following surgery. But why wait, just call the anxious relatives in the waiting room during surgery. Pretty soon, we'll be getting tweets from the surgeon himself while in action. We are hooked on the latest aps, and propaganda comes over tiny computers in our pockets.

Now the latest "Countdown To Crisis" has taken over the TV news. We are so brainwashed that in the whole debate over the national debt, just one factor is considered untouchable: the military. So-called entitlements are the main targets.

Want a trigger word? How about ENTITLEMENT. That word implies that there are some sleazy low-lifes who want to suck off of the government's tit at the expense of good, hard-working people. I agree. The sleazy low-lifes are generals and the mega-corporations who profit from war.

Back when I was on our college debate team, we learned that those who frame the question and define the terms always win. Such is the case with television programming. Now that a "compromise" has been reached vis a vie the government borrowing limit, watch it play out.

The talking heads tell us that both sides in the Congressional debate gave in. There was no clear winner, they say. HAH! That is so much bovine excrement.

The Tea Party wing of the G. O. Pee had one main goal in all of this: to tie the raising of our national debt limit to reductions in entitlements, a.k.a. domestic spending. They won!

For the first time in our nation's history, there will now be a reduction in domestic spending during time of war. A little history here, if you please. Roosevelt's Works Project Administration did not end the Great Depression. World War Two with its massive domestic spending ended it.

The soon-to-occur reduction in domestic spending will take money out of your pockets and mine. Just as in Herbert Hoover's time, a tightening of our collective financial belt will plunge us into depression.

Except, this time, it will come hand in glove with rampant inflation. Wars cost money, and we've got a couple of big, expensive ones going on right now. How do we pay for them? Inflate the money, that's how. We sure won't raise taxes on the rich.

You will have the Tea Party to thank for that. As for cuts to Medicare and the military, keep close watch on the talking heads as they report on this. I'll bet that Medicare takes a very real hit, and the military establishment takes a fake hit. All our overlords have to do is eliminate cost of living increases in Medicare and Medicaid benefits, and then stomp on the inflationary gas pedal. As for cuts to the military budget . . . well, we've got to support the troops, don't we?

We'll never notice the difference. We'll be too busy watching America's Got Talent.


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July 25, 2011



Health 101


A topic most dear to my heart is: health. The basic concepts sound simple. You are what you eat. Stay hydrated. Exercise as much as possible. Practice mental health techniques. These fundamentals can be expanded.

Eating. There are some things that are necessary in our food. Vitamins, fiber, protein, essential fatty acids, minerals and live enzymes constitute the essentials. We are told by the talking heads on TV that just your basic, normal diet is good enough. Maybe take a multi vitamin if you wish, they say.

Here's a wake up call. Most doctors don't know a darned thing about nutrition. They may take one three credit course in nutrition during their eight or more years of higher education. Then again, maybe not.

What about dieticians? Not much better. Their idea of a balanced meal is a can of Ensure. Mention vitamins and you'll get the old line "they just make for expensive urine". Dieticians are the people who bring you hospital food, for crying out loud! Their guidelines are the Recommended Daily Allowances

The Recommended Dietary Allowance or RDA (sometimes referred to as Recommended Daily Allowance) is defined as "the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (approximately 98 percent) healthy individuals".

Note the wording here. "Nearly all healthy individuals." That would exclude smokers, people who drink more than a little alcohol, anyone with a common cold or other medical condition, those under much stress, folks who live in toxic environments, people who eat poorly, and those with hereditary conditions.

Sound like anyone you know? I'd say that describes a big chunk of the human population. Then there are growing children, who suffer badly from poor diet. Kids don't like to eat healthy fare, even when it is provided for them. They want to eat what they see in TV commercials. Sweets. Burgers and pizza. So-called energy drinks loaded with caffeine.

More wording: "sufficient to meet the needs". Sufficient means just barely enough. Nowhere does it say "optimum amount to maximize health". BIG DIFFERENCE!

Look around you. Overweight people are the norm, young and old. Take a stroll around WalMart and notice what people are buying. Look at what's for sale. It's enough to make you sick.

All right, Bailey, you're shooting your mouth off. What do you eat? I spend half of my food budget in the produce department, first of all. Four or five nights a week I make a salad with several kinds of lettuce, plus cabbage, carrot, cucumber, onion, tomato and radish. I use low-fat dressings, mostly made of vinegar, olive oil and spices.

If I want "fast food" I microwave a potato, steam some broccoli and add cheese and butter. That's right, butter. Back when my father had heart surgery in 1982, the dieticians recommended that he switch to margarine, which he did. Ironically, we now know that hydrogenated fat used in margarine is far worse than butter. The human body simply can't digest it properly.

Back then nobody told him about good cholesterol, Omega 3 fatty acids and so on. We now know that oils derived from fish, flax seed, olives and avocados are good for us.

What about food supplements? At the minimum, I take vitamins C, B complex, D and E, folic acid, calcium, milk thistle, garlic and flax oil. When I can spend more money I take Co Q-10, which is the most potent anti-oxidant I know of. When money is no object at all, I take around 25 vitamins, minerals, herbs and neutricuticals.

What are anti-oxidants, and why do we need them? Think of the windshield wipers on your car. When they are new, they are flexible and do their job well. As they age, they get hard and lose that flexibility. That is due to oxidation, just like steel rusts. Oxidation of our tissues releases free radicals into our systems. These are rogue molecules that link with our cells and damage them. They are cellular poop.

Anti-oxidants are free radical scavengers. They pull the free radicals away from our cells and destroy them. The fact is that our bodies are forever being exposed to toxins. When we ingest the toxins, our bodies try to eliminate them. That's what the kidneys and liver are for.

In today's world, there's no getting away from toxins. Our food containers, cans and bottles, are all toxic. Aluminum alone is a deadly metal. Pop and beer cans, anti-antiperspirants and cooking pans all load us up with aluminum, which is a major contributor to the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease. Plastics leech estrogen mimics into our food.

What we can do is shop and eat intelligently. Drink fresh water. Get tons of fiber. In upcoming Namekagon Notebook columns I'll go into these topics in more depth. For now, if you've got to eat out, avoid fast food. Go to most grocery stores, where you can find salad bars that are inexpensive. At that same grocery store you can pick up single whole grain rolls. Butter is free at the deli. Bring water from home in a glass or stainless steel container.

Follow this simple rule: eat until you are no longer hungry, NOT until you are full.


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Dear Readers;

The following newspaper article appeared in the Feb. 7, 1991 issue of The County Journal. I wrote it at the beginning of mining operations in Ladysmith by Kennecot Copper Corporation (a.k.a. Flambeau Mining Corporation).

A re-visit to this article is my opening salvo in the resurrection of my Namekagon Notebook column, which first appeared in the Four Seasons News in 1984. I look forward to many more columns in my new blog of the same name. We are comrades in arms, my friends. Now is the time for us to band together and take control of our destiny.

James Richard Bailey




Far from a silent spring


What's all the mining hoopla?


By James R. Bailey

This year, along with ice-out and the blooming of the trilliums, there will be a new signal that spring has arrived in northern Wisconsin.

Residents of Ladysmith will witness blasting and the rumble of mammoth dozers as excavation begins on a thirty-two acre open pit copper mine near the Flambeau River.

The final approval to begin operations was granted January 14 by David Schwarz, administrator of the State Division of Hearings and Appeals. This came after a fourteen year-long legal battle between Kennecot Copper Corporation and a coalition of local residents and environmental groups.

The announcement was big news. It was the top headline in the January 16 Milwaukee Journal, placed above the failure of U.S./Iraq last minute "peace talks."

What is all the fuss about? A few moments spent studying the ancient geology of Wisconsin may help.

Some 1.8 billion years ago this area was covered by an ocean. Up through its floor volcanic eruptions brought iron, copper, uranium, vanadium, gold, silver, and zinc, as well as trace elements of heavy metals, toxins like arsenic, cadmium and chromium.

Unfortunately, these same eruptions also brought up large amounts of sulfur. The underlying bedrock in much of northern Wisconsin is a sulfur-bearing volcanic structure.

As long as they remain underground, the sulfur, arsenic and other elements do not often enter into the water table. With the exception of cracks and seeps, sulfur pollution is not a problem.

When brought to the surface, however, sulfur combines with oxygen and water to form sulfuric acid. The acid has a great capacity to dissolve toxins and carcinogens, allowing them to find their way into the water table.

This is not startling news to anyone. The mining companies know it, and the environmentalists know it. We've all heard of acid rain, and we're well aware of its effects on the environment.

But, as the Bureau of Mines is quick to point out, we are a nation of consumers. Their statistics state that "Each year, the average American needs 40,000 pounds of new minerals. During his or her lifetime, the average newborn baby will need

  • 1,050 pounds of lead

  • 1,050 pounds of zinc

  • 1,750 pounds of copper

  • 4,550 pounds of aluminum

  • 91,000 pounds of iron/steel

  • 360,500 pounds of coal

  • over a million pounds of stone, sand, gravel, cement and clay"

Mining proponents say that all of this has to come from somewhere. In the past, much of the metallic minerals have come from third world countries where there are few environmental restrictions, and where natives will work for a fraction of the pay demanded by workers in the industrialized nations.

Things have changed. Political stability is waning in Africa, South America and elsewhere. Easily accessible deposits are being used up. Transportation costs are rising.

Equally important, world market prices are rising. The value of copper ore doubled in the late 1980s. This means that ore bodies that were too expensive to mine previously have now become worth extracting.

Northern Wisconsin is one big ore body. "The list of companies competing for a share of the area's resources reads like a Who's Who of the international mining industry: Exxon, Kennecott, Amax, Kerr-McGee, Noranda, Chevron, Amoco and Western Nuclear," according to Al Gedicks, director of the Center For Alternative Mining Development Policy. "Taken together, these companies have leased the mineral rights to more than 500,000 acres in the northern two-thirds of Wisconsin."

Gedicks also points out that the geology of the Lake Superior region is similar to Canadian and South African areas where rich uranium deposits have been mined.

Not surprisingly, Kennecott Copper is owned by Noranda, Inc. A Canadian company, Noranda ranks sixth in terms of profits in that country. They are major players in minerals, forest products, manufacturing and energy.

Noranda, the company that owns Kennecott (which, in turn, owns Flambeau Mining Company) has since the mid-1950s operated the Elliot Lake uranium mines in Ontario. They are blamed by environmentalists for poisoning a seventy-five mile stretch of the Serpent River basin.

"In the 1960s, it was recognized that environmental mistakes had been made in the rush to feed nuclear power," admits geologist Julie Anderson of Noranda Explorations, Inc. "Today, however, those mistakes would not occur and the environmental repairs have been made and continue to be made."

This may be true, but among the variances granted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to Kennecott is exemption from the rule requiring them to monitor baseline water quality for radioactivity.

This means that they don't have to test the water for radioactivity before they start, as required by WDNR rules. If the public can't document how radioactive the ground water was before mining operations started, they cannot prove that it has become thusly contaminated.

The mine pit itself will come within 140 feet of the Flambeau River. This also required a variance from the minimum of 300 feet specified in the rules.

All together, Kennecott requested and got six such variances from meaningful sections of DNR rules.

Yes, the mine in Ladysmith will yield copper. It is one of the richest deposits in existence. Their permit specifically allows for the mining of uranium too, despite denial of any such interest by Kennecott. The lode also contains gold, another entire topic.

The story as related here thus far is only the tip of the iceberg. Closer to home is the Round Lake vanadium/titanium deposit in Sawyer County, the largest in North America. It is owned by Union Carbide.

Then there is the zinc deposit near the Wolf River at Crandon, Wisconsin. Said by the U.S. Department of the Interior to be the richest in the world, it is owned by Exxon.

According to a Wisconsin Department of Revenue study, "there is potential over the next twenty years for development of about ten mines in northern Wisconsin . . . [and] the possibility that a smelter may be built."

We will, in forthcoming articles, recount the legal maneuverings by both sides of the dispute. We will also investigate the environmental background of the mining companies, the treaty-rights connection, the local and regional efforts to halt mining and more.


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