Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dirty Tea Water for Owensville

A few years ago I wrote a Blog post about the dirty water that flows from the Wabash River tributaries in northern Indiana, just west of Fort Wayne, through Lafayette, Indiana, a city I have a personal interest in, to the southern Indiana delta where the Wabash, White River, Patoka River and Ohio River come together just south of Gibson County, a county that I also have a personal interest in. I used an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) inspection report to trace dirty water from several polluters along the way to show that those few people I know are forced to pay for clean water whether they liked it or not. My post connected the dots from the dirty polluters to the water those people drank, dirty tea water. It showed that the war against the EPA that intends to destroy the EPA was nonsense.

But, since then, the war against the EPA has heated up even more, if that's possible. The Tea Party Republicans have since taken control of the House, and bills attempting to stop the EPA are nearly a weekly event. I track bills in Congress through GovTrack, OpenCongress and Popvox. OpenCongress and Popvox give me a way to send my vote and comments to my Representative and Senators, for whatever good it does. My vote is probably undetectable in Washington. And so, I notice again that a House bill is on the side of corporate polluters rather than the side of those people who must have clean water. This bill, H. R. 2250, EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, is attempting to stop the EPA from regulating industrial, commercial and institutional boilers, process heaters and solid waste incinerators. The sponsor is Representative Morgan Griffith, a Tea Party Republican from the 9th district of Virginia. There are 126 co-sponsors on the bill, some of them Democrats. That's disappointing, but in a quid pro quo Congress, I shouldn't expect more; votes are traded for votes, or money. In this case, it was money. You can see who in Congress got the most money to vote for this bill here.

I think I can say with a high degree of certainty that the major money contributor for this bill is International Paper Corporation. It uses all of the equipment and processes that this bill would regulate, and it is on the list of bribing Congress. International Paper operates twenty-three locations in Virginia, ten in Indiana and over forty in my state, California, and the water it uses at all of these processing plants, whether it is processing wood pulp into paper, or recycling paper trash into new paper, comes from the rivers and tributaries that furnish drinking water. I also think I can say, with a high degree of certainty, that Rep. Griffith did not write this bill; International Paper wrote it, because this bill will cost it money to comply with the regulations. Well, of course it will. So what? If we want to drink and cook with clean water, somebody is going to pay to keep the water clean. The question is, who?

International Paper, IP, would like nothing better than to have taxpayers and water customers pay to keep the water clean. That kind of cost management is called "Externalizing Costs," costs that IP can pass on to taxpayers and customers. And, IP doesn't care which taxpayers pay for it; such as those who live close to the processing plants, or those who live way down river and who know nothing about the processing plant a hundred miles upstream. All those taxpayers downstream know is that their water is filthy and they have to clean it.

Another thing IP doesn't want to pay for is the additional workers it will have to hire to operate the cleaning process, such as a scrubber or filtering plant. Each additional worker it hires reduces profit, at least that what IP tries to sell us although all of the labor cost is a write-off. The truth is that labor costs reduce the amount of money that can be paid to company executives and share holders, and that's about it. The truth is that regulations do not kill jobs; in fact they create more jobs, 1) jobs to make the scrubbers and filtering equipment, and 2) jobs to operate those things. So, don't be sold on the myth that regulations kill jobs. It's a lie.

The water for Owensville, and the area miles around it, including Fort Branch, Poseyville, Mt. Vernon, Evansville, Princeton, and for everyone in Indiana for that matter, comes from artesian wells. These are wells that get water from pressurized ground water because the water table is high enough to push the water into a pumping system. The water table is supplied and pressurized by nearby rivers and tributaries through underground seeps and aquifers, usually through porous sand and gravel that filters out much of the debris in the water. Manufacturing paper uses very high concentrations of some of the most toxic chemicals we know of and, unfortunately, Mother Nature's natural filtering system, the sand and gravel, does not filter out enough of these chemicals. She would have a much better chance of success if most of those chemicals were filtered out by the processing plant itself and she needs help from regulators.

So, if you drink water, and I assume you do, then you need to fight this kind of topsy-turvey, fuzzy thinking legislation. This is a bill that a corporation bought. It isn't one that's for the good of the people.


Friday, September 16, 2011

9/11/01 - The Day America Gave Its Soul to The Fox

Sunday, September 11, 2011 - ten years later - was a day of reflection, if you believe everything you saw on television. The day was all about the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93. The day certainly gave me a lot to think about, from the moving ceremony at Ground Zero to the 60 Minute interview with FBI Agent Ali Soufan, who interrogated Al Qaeda operatives (Frontline did an excellent job documenting Soufan's activities), to the documentary "9/11" hosted by Robert Di Niro about Engine #7, Ladder 1, a New York Fire Department response team just down the street from the World Trade Center, to the interviews with the 9/11 victims to the huge growth of America's Top Secret Security apparatus since 9/11, a thousand fold increase that now spies on its own citizens. Not all 9/11 victims died in the World Trade Center. Some were victims of the instant mood of the day; the national cry for vengeance, the dose of uber-patriotism - "the day the gloves came off," Cofer Black said. Cofer Black was "The" guy who sold Congress and the Bush Administration the "New" CIA war plan back then. He was in the right place at the right time with a plan, right or wrong, and America followed him to war. Well... there were a lot of people in the Bush Administration who already had war on their minds, especially war with Iraq. It was just a minor detail that Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan and not in Iraq, a detail that could be revised, repackaged and sold to fit the Bush agenda - even if it was a lie - especially after 9/11 finally set America's state of mind. The Iraqi War was a "product" and Bush put it on display. It is ironic that the Christian Evangelicals, one of which President Bush claimed to be, were so ready to go to war. It is ironic that, from their own behavior and speech, the God they claimed to represent mercy and justice became a God of War and injustice. After 9/11, America didn't care who it attacked, as long as the target could be even remotely connected to the Muslim extremists. The Christian Charismatic churches cheered - the end of days were near, the final war had begun. The War on Terror began - against Muslims, no matter who said it wasn't.

Two of my brother's grandchildren were born only a few weeks around the 9/11 attack. He reflected on the ten year anniversary, "What kind of world had my new grandchildren been born into?" What kind of world indeed? I would say a world of war, and this time it's different. They are ten years old and they've already been indoctrinated, in spite of anything my brother did himself, into the new America, an America with the "gloves off." They've heard the uber-patriotic ads on television and at movies about the glory of joining the National Guard, Army, Marine Corps and, although less so, the Navy and Air Force. They've heard to heroic deeds of Navy Seal Team Six who, in the dark of night and in a hostile country, killed Osama bin Laden. These are the paths to heroic deeds. They've never heard anything else. They've heard "God Bless America" so many times that they believe it's true. They will hear, if they haven't already, that "collateral damage" that kills a hundred thousand innocent Muslims is okay, and even willed by God. They will learn that torture is called "enhanced interrogation" and is necessary to find the truth, even though it never has. They may even get a daily dose of how God is on the side of our warriors, because the words "warrior" and "God" are used together more today than in the lifetime of their grandparents since World War II, if they were used as frequently in that war. The video games they see advertised, even if they don't play them, are mostly war games. Even churches build war game-rooms to attract new young members. Selling the American warrior is a big business.

By the time those children are eighteen, only eight years away, they will have been fully indoctrinated in the ways of war. We, America, may still be at war at that time, because Afghanistan is not a war we can end, even though it is identical to Vietnam, a war we did finally end by of overwhelming opinion against it. Nor will those children know any other economic system than one which gives unreasonably low wages to labor and extraordinarily high incomes to those lucky few to become industry leaders; the "trickle down free market" system. It is God's economic system, it is the system of "freedom." We've been told that for forty years. They will accept the fact that if they don't make it out of the lowly labor force, well - that's tough. They will believe that it is God's will that they are poor while other's have been given the blessing of the gospel of prosperity. That is the new religion that they will believe has been gospel forever. It hasn't been.

The above paints a picture of indoctrination, and I guess one might think that it began relatively recently, but it began a long time ago. This latest cycle, if I could point to a specific time, began in the 50s and 60s, with the rise of the New Conservatives, the neo-conservatives. Originally, Irving Kristol, the "father of new conservatism," was a Marxist, specifically a Trotskyist, and a liberal intellectual, but that changed under President Lyndon Johnson. Kristol's neocons liked Johnson's war against communism, especially in Vietnam, but they did not like his "Great Society" of welfare, so Kristol led his growing following to the Republican Party to support Senator Bary Goldwater's Cold War against communism. As a student of philosophy, he brought with him a philosophical principles that make me cringe.

"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Abraham Lincoln said that. He should have added, "but, you can fool enough of the people all of the time." All it takes is "enough" of the people to gain power. Kristol knew this as did many of his closest followers, who later became the leaders of neo-conservatism. They preferred the political realism of Machiavelli, who principally said that anything goes in grabbing power; the goal is more important than the means used to get there, and the goal, even back in Irving's day, was to once and for all grab the ultimate power in the United States and keep it. People like Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Richard Pearle, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, all key players in Bush's Iraq invasion. Kristol particularly liked a Chicago University Professor/Philosopher, Leo Strauss. He integrated Strauss' philosophy into the New Conservative movement. Strauss believed, like Machiavelli, and taught that "fooling the people" was appropriate to gain power, and he especially believed that religion could be used as a tool to fool people into supporting a political agenda even when the agenda was against the best interest of the people. Religion, Strauss said, was a useful myth. Another neocon who joined Cheney and Rumsfeld in the Nixon White House was Roger Ailes, who is now the Chairman of Fox Television Stations Group and runs Fox News Corp. Ailes was the media consultant to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, G. H. Bush and Rudy Giuliani. It was Ailes who saw the benefit of political party-media coalitions and propaganda in keeping a party in power and using the media, slyly designed advertising and outright propaganda to persuade a public to keep a political party in power.

And so the die is cast. My brother's grandchildren will hear it everyday, as many other children will and have, perhaps not directly from their grandparents, but in school, or maybe a teacher, or an aunt or uncle or their own parents. There is a teacher in South Gibson High School who regularly distributes anti-Obama, ultra Right Wing, Republican and racist emails to his list almost daily. That teacher will teach his hate and lies. They will not know that the government does good things because they hear that the government "is the problem." They will believe that all Muslims are evil. They hear angry slurs, curses, rumors and innuendo against President Obama, who really doesn't deserve the slurs and who, in fact, has followed more of a Republican agenda than he has a liberal left agenda. He is a good man. He is, in fact, a Christian man, but they will believe that he is a Muslim. They will not know that Bush's wars were illegal and unjust wars or that Bush is more likely a war criminal than not. Nobody told them that. How could they know? They live in a comfortable and secure home. They do not know how close they live to poverty caused by the deregulation, war and militaristic policies of the Right that slowly decayed the heart of a country since Ronald Reagan. They will never know that what they've seen and heard from the Right-Wing is more fascist than American democracy.

Congressman Ron Paul is more right than wrong when he said that the 9/11 attack is a result of three decades, and probably longer, of misdirected American foreign policies. We've been led down a road of force diplomacy rather than peace diplomacy. It is all documented on the website of the Project for New American Century, the website of the neo-conservatives, above. It is one of fear and of projecting America's military force to spread America's morality, system of government and its economic hegemony. But, Ron Paul was met with a yelling mob when he suggested that America may be partly at fault for the 9/11 attack as much as it was the hate of Muslim extremists. The yelling mob proves more that the indoctrination is successful than it proves any knowledge of truth by the citizenry.

So, ten years later, Americans have been indoctrinated very successfully. Most citizens hate Muslims - all of them. Most citizens glorify American warriors and reject any idea that their own children are being sacrificed or scared for life or destined to live a life with disabilities. We turn our back on anyone complaining, legitimately, of war-caused bodily or psychological wounds. Complainers are un-American. Suck it up and live with it, is the message. God is a war god and we lack faith if we question that idea. "Get a job!"  we scream at the unemployed, even though there are no jobs. Suddenly, the unemployed are freeloaders. Suddenly, the poor who have no place to turn are freeloaders if they take welfare. They should get a job or starve, we're told. Actually, none of these things happened "suddenly." It has been a gradual indoctrination, a brainwashing, in all aspects of American life, even religion. A preacher, Jerry Falwell, who was once thought to be a radical has become mainstream. He founded a university that teaches his particular religious beliefs and a number of Liberty University law students became district attorneys across the country. Publishing companies owned by Falwell, and other equally radical Christian organizations and preachers, now distribute their particularly radical beliefs to churches for Sunday School or the prepared text for the pastor's Sunday Sermon and even so-called "Christian" home-schooling. These companies even publish school books and many states now incorporate religious ideology in public school books.

America's indoctrination is nearly complete, if not fully complete. Now, all that's needed is maintenance, such as making sure new generations are brainwashed for the future, sort of like Hitler's youth programs that turned children against their own parents; country before family. It is all so easy. The truth is that 9/11 was the day that America turned it's back, a slow turn to be sure, on all of our compassionate and democratic beliefs. It was the day that we gave up freedom for security. It was the day that we became afraid. It was the day that we completed the Right Wing agenda and turned our back on God.