I think the oil spill is getting us to think more about about what humankind has done to the other living creatures that make up the Gulf's biosphere. As I was searching for something completely different (the source of the joke "Death or Moobli" which I laughed heartily over as a read a book on conversation that I picked up at the Shepherdstown Library... I'll repeat it further down the post), I discovered this small video entitled "Tortoise helps tortoise":
Obama is making his fourth trip to the Gulf. Will it matter?
I guess we'll know tomorrow with his "speech to the nation," as it is being called by the TV Pundits. It's been 56 days now since the explosion that started the oil eruption under water and just about everything that has been tried has been functionally useless (there's a cap of sorts taking our a small percentage of the flow, but not enough to make a difference, and two relief wells are being drilled to cut off the leak itself, but we're about two months away from it happening).
BP is spending millions on advertising where they say that they are taking "full responsibility" for the leak and the cleanup, and that no American taxpayers will have to pay for this. Of course, such a statement is utter bullshit, since all the news shows talk about lately is business owners and fishermen on the Gulf who have appealed to BP for recompense do to their losses in the tragedy and have not been able to get the oil company to pay for anything.
BP put this out on it's <a href="http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9033655&contentId=7061997">website</a>: <blockquote><em>BP's onshore response efforts have rapidly expanded, with equipment and people staged and ready in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. BP has positioned rapid response teams in Alabama and Louisiana to enable quick response and cleaning of areas where oil may come ashore. These 12-person teams will assess initial impacts, and then call in a larger contingent of trained responders and volunteers to clean the affected area.</em></blockquote> If that sounds good you should tie it to the word yesterday afternoon from Alabama that their beaches were now covered with tarballs and oil mass and their summer tourist season has been destroyed (along with the wildlife.) So much for "rapid response." One of the things Obama is supposed to be doing today is speaking with BP officials. Let's see if that gets him anywhere.
"They got everything else in the entire bureaucracy that they need to control our healthcare system ... with the signing of this bill. ... That's why repealing this bill has to be our No. 1 priority."
- Republican Minority Leader John Boehner on a live radio show announcing his intention. Repubs are pulling this out on the week that the first b$250.00 Medicare supplement checks are going out to seniors. Tim Kaine, head of the Democratic National Committee is daring the Repubs to make this destructive repeal move the focus of their fall campaign to win back Congress and has challenged Boehner and Company to reveal the things they'd take away from Americans and give back to Insurance Companies. Today the DNC will release this television ad:
Back in March, he President made it clear that Democrats wanted Repubs to use health care repeal in their campaign:
"Now that we passed it, they're already promising to repeal it. They're actually going to run on a platform of repeal this November. And my attitude is, 'Go for it.'""If they wanna have that fight, we can have it," he went on. "Because I don't believe the American people are gonna put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat. We've already been there, we're not going back. This country's moving forward."
Looks like Boehner is walking right into it. One would hope. (thanks to TPM for staying on top of all this.) http://underthelobsterscope.wordpress.com
OK. As we look at the alarming crisis that BP and the oil industry has brought us to, as we evaluate the amount of military spending we are pouring into the middle east for no evident return (and as we consistently apologize for killing innocent civilians with airborne missiles), as we observe politicians and lobbyists letting payoffs and focused fundraising deny the needs of voters in favor of the needs of corporations, as we see the Supreme Court gradually eliminate generations of civil rights achievements, we are getting more and more convinced that making a change in America... indeed in the whole world... is getting less and less possible.
If you want to read a depressing but true book on the changes in our planet and it's environment... not changes coming in a generation, but the changes that are HERE NOW, then pick up a copy of "Eaarth" by Bill McKibben (who 20 years ago tried to warn us with "The End Of Nature." The spelling of the planet's name is not a typo... McKibben wants us to see that our planet is somewhat familiar to us, but has changed enough to be not quite the same... and we will have to get used to it. One of his scariest points is that, even if everyone in the world were given an electric car tomorrow, changed all our lightbulbs to the low output variety, grew all our own food and collected our own water from rain, ended all wars we are involved in and brought everyone home, it would still be hundreds of years before we recovered the world of the mid 20th Century, if at all.
Here's a video of McKibben on the book: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG-QtvMB3tM&hl=en_US&fs=1&] To me, starting the change in how we live, what we eat, how we power what we do must begin now, even if it is my grandchildren's grandchildren who start to see the results. But, as McKibben points out, change has to be complete and worldwide, either voluntarily or by political force, for anything to really matter. Of course, this brings up the conflicts of economics, progressive growth of economies (which must end...especially in huge countries like China and India as well as with us), and views of climate change moving faster than all predictions by politicians and scientists. And it brings up the problem of religious belief. For instance... there is reason why some extreme right leaning Christian fundamentalists might do nothing to help change our ways of living"
As I thought about Florida Rep. <a href="http://underthelobsterscope.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/a-quote-for-the-day-2/">Ted Deutch's quote</a> in my previous post this morning, I also recalled a discussion I head either on Olbermann or Rachel Maddow last night ( I really wasn't looking at who was talking, but was lying flat on my back after taking a pain killer for my cracked ribs) in which a Republican said he was really in agreement on the nuclear decisions that the President had come to, but in terms of voting for the treaty with the Russians he would probably have to vote NO. The reason? Because the Party Leaders are insistent on not supporting anything the President does prior to the November elections.
The goal is, still, to make the current Administration a failure.
The Watts Towers are in Trouble... I've really only been to Los Angeles to spend time once, but during that time one of the most important things for me was to visit the Watts Towers, the folk art monument and masterpiece in one of the city's worst neighborhoods. The Watts Towers have been on my interest list since I first read about them in the early 1960s while a student at Northwestern (I got interested in them after seeing a black and white photograph on the cover of a paperback volume of poetry), and I have been monitoring their condition and appearance ever since. Yesterday's LA Times pointed out a falloff, due to the economy, in support from the County of Los Angeles in the maintenance of the Towers, Here is a section :
L.A.'s municipal budget crisis has hastened the need to find help just to continue the partial measures that have been the rule. Because of layoffs, a hiring freeze and an early retirement plan aimed at trimming city employment rolls, the Department of Cultural Affairs expects to see its staffing reduced from 70 positions to 37 by July 1. Among the employees being lost to early retirement, Garay said, are Virginia Kazor, longtime curator of the Watts Towers and another historic landmark, Hollyhock House, which architect Frank Lloyd Wright planted on a Hollywood hilltop in 1921.The towers, topping out at just under 100 feet high, were created single-handedly by Simon Rodia, an uneducated Italian immigrant stonemason who built them in his spare time from 1921 to 1954. He created the framework of steel, wire and concrete and ornamented the three main spires and their 14 surrounding sculptural elements with colorful bits of broken glass, pottery and seashells.Especially after they were left untouched during the 1965 Watts riots, the towers gained symbolic heft as an emblem of resilience, individual initiative, underdog achievement and potential rebirth.
It is well- known, actually a part of the Towers' historic mythology, that Rodia, after spending over 30 years creating the architectural model, deeded the property to a neighbor in 1955 and moved away. He died in 1965 in Martinez, California age 86. In 1959 William Cartwright and Nicholas King purchased the lot for $3000. It was later given to the City. That the Towers have survived this long is in itself somewhat of a miracle.
LACMA officials said they would lend their expertise to help conserve the towers. They also promised to help raise private donations to keep them in good repair. That's critical, because heat and moisture continually create cracks in the towers and the fanciful structures surrounding them, and the eye-popping ornamentation -- seashells and pottery shards and discarded tiles and glass bottles -- often falls off. The cost of deferred conservation work has been estimated at $5 million, yet the city will struggle to scrape up $200,000 for the landmark next year, and the Cultural Affairs staff is being cut nearly in half. Among the departures is the towers' curator.If the Watts Towers were located in, say, Westwood, they might be a more internationally renowned symbol of the city than the Hollywood sign. Then again, if they weren't tucked at the end of a cul de sac in a poor and gang-wracked neighborhood, there's a good chance that by now they would have been torn down and replaced by a mini-mall or a housing tract. Notorious for bulldozing its historic structures, Los Angeles is also remarkably stingy when it comes to support for the arts.Rodia's gift to the city is far too precious to be lost to history.
One of the things that the LA Times pointed out to me was how few visitors, relative to the quantity of tourists visiting LA and to the actual visits by residents themselves, the Watts Towers actually get. Seeing them in person is something I will never forget. The were splendid, remarkable creations ... creative expressions of an Italian craftsman who spent a major part of his life making them. If you get the chance to see them in person, don't pass it up. http://underthelobsterscope.wordpress.com
And have you noticed that even when they are "in Session" they throw away most of Monday and Friday with traveling? And have you noticed that from Tuesday to Thursday Senators are rarely on the floor, so they are spending more time having Quorum Calls than they are debating?
Have you noticed that when they are debating neither side ever seems to be actually "debating" with the other side... like they don't respond to each others' comments and queries? And have you noticed that even when they do comment on a question from the other side they never really provide an accurate answer?
OK... while many are watching the NCAA Basketball games, I'll be watching the big sports action of the weekend: The Health Care bill in the House of Representatives.
CSPAN is showing BOTH the debates in the House and the Reconciliation Bill debate in the House Rules Committee (on CSPAN 2). The major players will all be out there, making the points or stalling to try and get the bill bogged down. Whatever happens today will determine what gets voted on tomorrow.
I listened to a Congressman from Alabama give the Republican's weekly statement (after the President's weekly statement) on NBC this morning and was told that despite what Pelosi and Reid want, despite the threat of using reconciliation to push the Health Care bill through, the American People don't want the Health Care bill as it has been debated and argued over the past year. He said the American People want Congress and The President to "start over on a new page."
Here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, about as American a location as you can find, I sit watching this knowing that I WANT a Health Care bill to be passed NOW. I know that if the government starts on a NEW PAGE it will be in the face of a rate-raising, highly profitable private insurance system and a 10-to-1 ratio of lobbyists who are NOT starting on a new page, who will work day and night to weaken any p