Cleaning up our messes

No one really likes the prospect of dragging through messes from the past, whether they're personal, institutional, governmental or whatever. But I believe it's impossible to move effectively into the future when there's unfinished business to clean up. Whether the subject is reparations for slavery or managing our relationship with Native Americans or Bush's criminal war in Iraq, the United States of America has ;eft more than its fair share of destruction in its wake.

So my response to this email from the Perdue campaign was mostly a simple sense of thanks.

McHenry's Big Budget: The 10th's Patrick McHenry is burning your tax dollars

It seems like Patrick McHenry has the stereotypical edge here in the 10th District- having claimed $140,000 earned in the last quarter (according to the Charlotte Observer). In fact, he's got a huge campaign fund, which he intends to use to blast his competitors off the map... or so we'd think. Unfortunately, due to his backwards view on finance, nepotism, and the money required to hide his illegal/immoral actions, McHenry may as well have no money at all.

Poor Foxx and Flipper

From the Dome today:

The fourth annual report by technology consulting firm Knowlegis on Congressional power was based on leadership positions, indirect influence, legislative activity and earmarks.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr score 18.94, ranking 69th in the Senate; while Sen. Elizabeth Dole scored 13.39, ranking 93rd.

North Carolina: Pro-military, Anti-mercenary

Many of the challenges we're facing here in North Carolina have been decades or longer in the making. Effective solutions will not come quickly, even when there is the political will for change. Environmental degradation over the last century will take decades to correct. Improving mental health care will require generous funding and commitment to rebuild the infrastructure and the confidence of caregivers. The toxic influence of free-market fundamentalism requires that we push back again and again and again.

But other challenges are not so deep-rooted. For example, the exponential growth of war-profiteering by the Blackwater mercenary army has been relatively recent.

Will science prevail over politics?

What do you know about Iowa? Caucus and corn - right? Corn-based ethanol is the "future" of Iowa, except that corn makes really lousy ethanol. So, someone, somewhere has started to do something about it. From Scientific American:

Farmers in Nebraska and the Dakotas brought the U.S. closer to becoming a biofuel economy, planting huge tracts of land for the first time with switchgrass—a native North American perennial grass (Panicum virgatum) that often grows on the borders of cropland naturally—and proving that it can deliver more than five times more energy than it takes to grow it.

But yields from a grass that only needs to be planted once would deliver an average of 13.1 megajoules of energy as ethanol for every megajoule of petroleum consumed—in the form of nitrogen fertilizers or diesel for tractors—growing them. "It's a prediction because right now there are no biorefineries built that handle cellulosic material" like that which switchgrass provides, Vogel notes. "We're pretty confident the ethanol yield is pretty close." This means that switchgrass ethanol delivers 540 percent of the energy used to produce it, compared with just roughly 25 percent more energy returned by corn-based ethanol according to the most optimistic studies.

Will Marshall Adame take Blackwater down?

When it comes to covering northeast North Carolina, the Virginia Pilot usually does a better job than any of our own state's papers. That was true of reporting on the Navy's misguided OLF, and it's true of coverage of Blackwater.

It started as a simple question during an online chat (at BlueNC) with Marshall Adame, a Democrat and retired Marine running for Congress in North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District. "We take great pride in being a military-friendly state," wrote a supporter. "Should that pride extend to being a mercenary-friendly state, too?"

Adame, a diplomat who spent three years in Iraq, responded that the U.S. military should have no place for private armies. "They are guns for hire," he wrote, "no more, no less."


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I was lucky enough tonight to hear George Lakoff talk about politics and language. One thing I came away with is a deep desire for political conversations where everything is right out there for anyone to see. That's what happened tonight and that's what happens here.

Lakoff covered a huge amount of ground, and I hope to be able to find it out on the Tubes and share it. But in the meantime, I have this question: Is transparency a fundamental value that progressives and conservatives share?

Please kindly note that this is an example of transparency.


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