May 16th, 2003 ~ I would like to introduce you to a time-tested, sure-fire, political ploy which you may not be aware of, but which has been used to great effect throughout the history of our nation. The ploy is co-opt and bury. It goes like this:
When confronted with an opposing position which has the potential of great popular support, but which conflicts with the interests of your party's financial backers, you first appear to embrace that position (to rob your opposition of their thunder), then slowly, quietly, bury that position among the other back-burner items on your platform. Case in point: Fusion power.
We ALL know that provided with the same resources as the Apollo Program and considering the advanced state of research both here and in other countries, we could have clean, safe, limitless, and cheap fusion powerplants online within a decade. Such a program is obviously in the best interest of the American People as it would free us from our shackles to middle east oil and the bloodthirsty maniacs sitting on top of that oil. It would also jump start our economy as never before. Freedom, security, and prosperity; not a bad payoff on an investment.
Unfortunately, the power-elite are neck deep in oil. Many are several generations removed from the brilliant, imaginative, and sometimes ruthless progenitors of their fortunes. What you and I see as opportunities, they see as threats to the status quo and with the genius bred out of them over the generations, all that's left is the ruthlessness. So anything more imaginative than co-opt and bury is beyond them. Case in point: ITER.
Iter is a Latin word meaning "The Way". ITER is also an acronym for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a collaborative effort to develop and deploy the worlds first cost-effective fusion powerplant. Shortly after the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Administration started hearing rumblings about why more is not being done to find alternatives to Middle East oil. ITER started coming up in more and more high level meetings; both within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), as well as in meetings with G7/G8 and EU leaders.
A movement was forming (or more accurately reforming) and it threatened the status quo. So Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary, Spencer Abraham, had OSTP Director, Jack Marburger, step in during the summer of 2002 to ask fusion community leaders to submit a feasability study of putting fusion powerplants on the U.S. grid within about 35 years. Delighted with this apparent interest and after DOE's Office of Science Director, Ray Orbach, formally requested such a plan in a September 2002 letter, the plan was completed and transmitted to Orbach in March of 2003.
There it sat until May of this year, at which time Marburger aide Patrick Looney, OSTP Assistant Director for Physical Science and Engineering, informed the fusion community "There is no agreed upon fusion energy development timeline." He went on to say, "This is energy science, not an energy technology." He also said "If the U.S. joins ITER it would not be as a lead player," and "The U.S. has no interest in hosting ITER." Co-opt and bury.
Now that we know about this effective ploy, I guess the question is, "What will we do about it?" Will we continue to allow our 21st century nation to be dominated by 19th Century energy technology and threatened by fanatics better suited to the Dark Ages? Will our future and our children's futures be forever enslaved to barrels of foul-smelling dinosaur remains? If not, then we must act NOW. There's an election coming up in 2004. We can elect a President and Senators committed to fusion power, or those who "seem" to be committed while secretly opposing it. It takes a little savvy to tell the difference, but now we know what to look for. In poker, it's called a "tell"; a tick in the eye, or a sweaty upper lip, or a nervous laugh that tells us we're being cheated. Let's call their hands and see their cards on the the table. The stakes are too high for anything less.
May 14th, 2003 ~ Dejavu all over again. While Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah gives lip service to the "spirit of cooperation" in investigating this week's bombings in Riyahd, FBI investigators are still languishing in Germany, waiting for Saudi approval to enter their country. Can you say two faced?
May 13th, 2003 ~ Al Qaeda is back. "Most of them had no beards", claimed a survivor of the homicide bombings which rocked Riyahd, Saudi Arabia shortly before midnight last night; killing 34 including 8 Americans. The targets of the attacks were Western (mostly U.S.) compounds of companies doing business in Saudi Arabia. The message was clear.
Al Qaeda is once again on the offensive. More ominously, the perpetrators of these attacks were obviously quite young; magna cum laude graduates of the Wahabbi schools found throughout Saudi Arabia. A communique, issued shortly after the attacks, indicated the American heartland is high on their to-do list.
A French counter-terrorism expert stated on CNN today that he believes Al Qaeda's primary command and control has moved into Chechnya. This was probably true 6 or 7 months ago. I believe they are now well into Africa, with major cells in Nigeria, Somalia, and Cote d'Ivoire. I also believe there are significant C&C cells in Indonesia and the Phillipines. But who am I? Certainly no expert. Just a keen observer with senses somewhat heightened by the lingering stench of tortured steel and the blood of innocents who were murdered in my city on September 11th, 2001.
On a cheerier note, it looks like Ali Ismael Abbas, the 12 year-old boy so terribly injured - both physically and psychologically - during the taking of Baghdad, seems to be making real progress under the care of Kuwait's top surgeons and doctors. I was deeply moved by the sight of his smile as his doctors showed him the advanced articulated limbs they hope to fit him with shortly. God bless them and God bless the folks of The Limbless Association which helps countless such children worldwide.
May 6th, 2003 ~ The world, as we know it, will change on June 2nd, 2003. Don't bother trying to verify this with any of the broadcast media. They don't want you to know about it. On June 2nd, 2003, the Federal Communications Commission will hold a secret vote on changes regarding the ownership of broadcast media. The American public - the actual OWNERS of the airwaves as well as the internet backbone built with our tax dollars - are excluded from these proceedings, so we have no idea about the scope of these changes. That they are being purposefully conducted in secret, however, gives us some idea that these changes will not bode well for the American public.
One "lone voice in the wilderness", FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, has been touring the country, trying to alert us to this situation, but with a pittance grudgingly provided him by the FCC for such activities and the media blackout of these proceedings, attendance and awareness have been effectively kept off the public radar. If you are a good little consumer and could care less about the consolidation of ALL media - TV, Radio, Newspapers, Internet - into the hands of a very few giant corporations, then you might as well stop reading this right now. If, however, you find such silencing of diversity as disturbing as I do, I urge you to contact your Senators and Congresspeople immediately to postpone this vote until We the People have a chance to see what's on the auction block and whether or not it's stolen property.
May 3rd, 2003 ~ And so it begins... While our attention has been distracted, watching America's sons and daughters liberate Iraq from the clutches of Saddam Hussein and his henchmen, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and his henchmen were hard at work trying to overturn specific provisions of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act, passed last year. Not the entire act, of course. They like the increase of individual "hard money" contributions from $1000 per election - set in 1976 - to $2000 per election. What they don't like is the ban on "soft money" contributions by corporations and unions to national parties; contributions which have no limits. This restriction, they say, is an "unconstitutional" violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.
Yesterday, May 2nd, they received a mixed opinion on their position from a special three-judge panel in the form of a massive 1,638 page ruling which both sides of the matter claim as a victory. This should tell you something of the conflicting nature of the ruling; presented by two judges of the D.C. Federal District Court and one of the Federal Appeals Court. While this panel had no real power to effect changes to the act, their ruling is seen as setting the groundwork for a U.S. Supreme Court decision which might come as early as this Fall.
The insidiousness of this challenge to the McCain-Feingold act cannot - in my opinion - be overstated. I like to refer to it as the "Geppetto position"; which postulates that if you put enough effort into your puppets, you can bring an essentially inanimate object to life. In this case, the Geppetto position takes a bizarre twist in that the puppets are very much alive and it is their job, on behalf of the inanimate objects - corporations and unions - to imbue those entities with the God-given rights of living people. Let us, then, drag this challenge from the dark, cigar-smoke-filled workshops of the puppetmasters and see if it holds up in the light of day.
What are corporations and unions? Are they living, breathing, human beings? Can they have personal opinions and political positions? Those who say yes, claim that these entities are made up of living, breathing, men and women and are thus endowed with the same rights as the individuals they incorporate. But don't those individuals already have rights of their own to express their political will? Cannot those individuals EACH contribute up to $2,000 to the election of their choice? Do not those individuals EACH have the inalienable right to free speech and assembly? I am such an individual; as are you. Are you not reading these words right now? Have either of our rights been abridged by McCain-Feingold?
So if our individual First Amendment rights are in no way compromised by McCain-Feingold, what intrinsic rights do corporations and unions have exclusive of the rights of their constituents? Where is it written in our Constitution that these completely artifical entities are endowed with any rights whatsoever? I've tried to find such entries, but have failed thus far. Perhaps my nose needs to grow a foot or two longer to be able to see them.
I do know that as tools of the power elite, these entities truly have no peers. Individual employees and stockholders have no voice whatsoever - as we have clearly seen in recent scandals - to determine where soft money contributions go and what favors they buy. Neither do the rank and file of the unions have any say as to how their dues are parcelled out. These matters are restricted to the boards of directors and the union leaderships exclusively. Thus, one could argue that corporations and unions are themselves in violation of the First Amendment rights of their constituent members; appropriating monies from those individuals while denying them any say in how those monies are spent.
If you are a union member, when was the last time that union asked you if you want your dues being spent to support a political party's platform? I'll ask the same of stockholders and employees of corporations. Take your time. There's no rush. Give it some thought.
When you have your answer, be sure to let your elected representatives know what you think. Don't forget to include Senators McConnell, Feingold, and McCain in your letters and emails. I'm certain they would all like to hear how you feel about your country being ruled by a pack of long-nosed puppets and about the sincere efforts of those few true servants of the People who wish to cut the strings which make those puppets dance.