helen99: This Man is your Friend -- He Fights for Freedom (Freedom)
Letter to MD Congressman Van Hollen:

Letting you know that I am against the following three bills before congress:

H.R. 814: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h814/text
H.R. 759: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h759/text
HR 875: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h875/text

I do not like these bills. The problem of food safety lies in overcentralization, not in individual farms. The tainted peanut butter was tainted due to poor practices at a packaging plant, not a farm.

Any one of these bills alone provides too much regulating power to the government. HR 875 allows for frequent, random inspections without probable cause or warrant. While it doesn't target small farms or organic farms openly, the end result will be that small farms will not be able to meet the regulatory expenses and will be most likely to go under. Farmers who sell at local farmers' markets that are just across state lines will have to meet expensive regulations and fees to sell at their local markets. It will become more difficult to get or to grow fresh, organic produce and be self-sufficient.

Together, the three bills create a formidable triad that particularly affects small, local markets but also influences global markets.

What I find most troubling is the combination of "the Secretary shall promulgate regulations…" and criminal penalties for violating those yet-unknown regulations.

Also the applicability to "produce shipped in interstate commerce" doesn't include the local farmer at the local farmers' market, unless that local market is on the other side of a nearby state line. Which many of them are. I see these bills, if passed, greatly restricting cross-border marketing of local produce.

These bills need to be taken off the table. If you want to pass bills to promote food safety, attach these regulations and penalties to centralized packaging plants, not to farmers.

Please don't bother to answer me with cliches about safety. It didn't work when Bush tried to use the refrain of national security and terrorism to take away individual freedoms, and it's not working now that congress is trying to use food safety in the same manner to destroy small farmers.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I just went to Whitehouse.gov to catch Obama's first press conference during lunch, and ... it's content-blocked. It's embedded on Whitehouse.gov from YouTube, and YouTube has been blocked by $_workplace for years, because their content filter categorized it as a 'social networking' site. I always thought of it as a place to find music videos and an occasional movie. I've never made any use of the social aspect of it.

The irony of having the president of the United States content-filtered was amusing at first, but now it's starting to grate. I may have a talk with our security officer about the possibility of allowing whitehouse.gov's specific YouTube pages as well as their other networking pages.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I hadn't known this was happening: A ritual to animate the spirit of democracy, involving Pagans from all over the country. It took place at the Jefferson memorial.

I watched the first video at the link above. I particularly liked Caroline Casey (who reminded me a bit of [livejournal.com profile] foxgrrl age-progressed about 30 years). I agree with a lot of what she had to say about being a practical mystic. "I reject any religion that fails to improve the life of your cat or dog." She wore an outlandish Hat. Not as good as Aretha's Hat, but close. A fierce looking African-American woman spoke in the delightfully rabble-rousing style of a Southern Baptist preacher (which worked surprisingly well for progressive messages). I recognized a lot of faces from when I used to attend events organized by the more active local Pagans. Some parts of the ritual were a bit dissonant with me, as is always the case when a large, inclusive ritual occurs, but for the most part I'm glad it happened. Orion was there and gave a short blessing.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I missed this entirely: MSNBC coverage of George Bush leaving Washington DC.

Here's a much longer, larger, and clearer version on Youtube -- the singing occurs around the middle of the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNdVj_jeWJI&feature=related

When the helicopter took off, the entire crowd of a million or more people started cheering and chanting "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey-ey, goodbye". It is quite audible over the voices of the show hosts, who were discussing everything but the singing. I don't think any president in history has received a comparable sendoff, and I hope no future president is ever worthy of that again...

In case anyone is curious, what they sang is from a song called "Kiss them goodbye" by Steam. Steam was one of those 70s bands that got a lot of air play (at least for a song or two) but nobody ever knew who they were. The only reason I know is because I looked it up and found this:


Oh, the bad comb-overs. Oh the shirts. Oh the soup-trainer mustaches. Oh 70s fashion, no.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
We were introduced to the new Secretary of Energy today. He is a geeky, brilliant scientist, obviously not a public speaker or a politician, and is much more interested in alternative energy research to alleviate climate change than any previous secretary of energy ever has been. Notably, he was appointed by President Obama. This indicates to me something about the president's stance on the environment. He may be too late to save my local woods, but at least he won't embarrass the US globally by being one of the ONLY two countries that refuses to sign environmental agreements.

My fellow viewers were all bland-faced and polite, and nobody expressed any opinion about him. The auditorium was pretty well attended, though. I have no idea what most of the Department thinks of him, but there he is - they'll have to deal with him. He mentioned some sort of stimulus package for energy research. I don't know whether or not this will translate into any money for me, but here's hoping.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I was thinking about how the same "we the people" who were collectively willing to vote Bush into office (twice) also voted in a landslide for President Obama.

Where were these voters when Al Gore and John Kerry were running? Those two may not have been saints, but I think they held themselves to higher principles than Bush did. My question was, "What does it take to get people interested?" followed closely by, "What does it take to *keep* them interested?"

I noticed that when Bush was speaking, his speech was loaded with neocon slogans and language that spoke directly to his constituent base - much warrior-speak: (proud; defend; protect; homeland; The American people; terrorists; attack; God bless America; prayers; security). Likewise, Obama's speech used progressive language that spoke directly to his constituents (trust; humble; generosity; cooperation; We the People; health care; God bless the United States of America; hope; liberty; new age; move forward). It seems that people are looking for someone who can tell a good story that speaks their language, even if the content doesn't altogether agree with them or serve them.

I think there were more factors that contributed in the present case, though. One was the fact that a large portion of the African-American population was mobilized to vote for Obama, even those who may have been indifferent to another person. Another was the internet. I think Obama is the first president who has his own Facebook and Youtube videos (all of which are blocked from my workplace, ironically). Another factor is, he's 47, so anyone young or young at heart probably identified with him more than McCain. Another factor is the financial crash. The last Democrat was good at money, so people hope this one will be also. All of these factors together were just the right mix to throw out the neocons. I'm hoping that the hope-based factors outweighed the fear-based ones.

Although the neocons have been dislodged from the presidency, they're still alive and well in the form of state legislators, school boards, city planning commissions, governors, etc., where they can do a lot of damage to quality of life. They are working to regain the presidency when they can once again convince the public that "the liberals" are to blame for everything that goes wrong. Which brings up something interesting:

Before the election I asked myself what it would take to throw out the previous administration, and the answer was to accept responsibility for the mess. I realized then that the reason I wasn't totally involved in the Kerry election even though I voted for him, was that I wanted the neocons to fix their own mess. It became evident that they would not do that in my own lifetime, however, and that the only way out of the mess was through it. Once we accepted the responsibility, barbs and invectives lost their sting and we could see straight enough to complete the task at hand.

Besides, I have no in-depth knowledge of which laws each president signed into law. This would be an interesting area of study. Until I do know this information, I can't be sure which president is to blame for certain things or if a previous president laid the foundation for the next one's mistake. So maybe the way to keep the office of the presidency is not to fight it when accusations are flung, but to accept it and fix it. Nobody can argue with that...

April 2010



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