Thursday, March 30, 2006

Colorado's Flatlander Senator, Wayne Allard's Homepage


And, an American flag is where?

P.S. The Mexican flag has been removed from Allard's website. Hizzoner's staff claims they knew nothing about the flag being there, because they "outsource" their website maintenance.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Celebration of America - While Waving Mexican Flags?


A small piece from Jay Root, Knight Ridder Newspapers, that appeared in Sunday's Denver Post caught my eye in the context of the media frenzy over Latino demonstrators marching against efforts to control illegal immigration to the United States. Suffice it to say, the mobilization of the Latino community, legal and illegal--estimated to be 50,000 in Denver and 500,000 in Los Angeles--by the Catholic Church, Spanish language media and liberalistic entities with very big hearts, provided a colorful and interesting spectacle, conspicuously festooned with hundreds (thousands?) of flags of the nation-state of Mexico.

Yes, this is the United States. Yes, this is where the immingrants come. This is where the great promise of a better life thrives and pulls like a magnet for all those whose lives may be enriched by our, the United States', promise.

But, back to point.

The article that caught my eye in Sunday's Post begins with a description of the plight of an 89 year old Mexican, Pedro Avila Salamanca, in Joaquin Amaro, Mexico, who relies upon the meager financial support from his daughters who have gone north to the United States.

"Avila is a part of the immigration debate that neither Mexican political leaders nor cheap-labor advocates in the United States like to talk about: Heavy migration has all but emptied much of the Mexican countryside."

The story goes on to say that: "Money sent back to Mexico from those working in the United States reached a record high last year, $20Billion, making remittances from migrants Mexico's second-largest source of income, surpassed only by oil exports."

The flood of illegal immigration of Mexicans to the United States (estimated to be 10,000 people a day) has curiously benefited Mexico in that the exodus has taken a significant weight off the Mexican government. Indeed, if a nation--where there are basically two classes, the very rich and the very poor--can avoid political and social upheaval because the likely source of that upheaval has crossed the border into the bend-over-backward generosity of the United States, then that nation is off the hook.

Rodolfo Garcia Zamora, an economist and immigration expert at the autonomous University of Zacatecas, is quoted in the article: "For the governing class, immigrants become the solution. They leave. They reduce the political and social pressure. They even reduce the costs of public works projects. ...They can only hope that everybody leaves and sends home collective remittances."

The story goes on to tell us that in five Mexican states, 100 percent or more of the salaries generated locally come from remittances from relatives in the United States. "In 31 percent of Mexico's municipalities, population is shrinking steadily because of migration to the United Sates..."

"In Zacatecas, known for silver mines and dry, mountainous terrarin, the data are even more stark: 45 of the 58 municipalities are shrinking. The state's population of 1.5 million would double if all its emigrants and their offsrping returned home from the United States."

Having begun this post with the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of proud Latino folk marching in the streets waving Mexican flags in opposition to immigration legislation, a question occurs: "If your essential loyalties lie with Mexico, with your brethren in Mexico, then--please tell me--why you're not in Mexico working hard to remake, reform that country? Why do you spew the guaranteed promise of the United States (huddled masses) while waving the Mexican flag as you march in the streets of the United States of America? I'm sorry. I don't understand this dichotomy.

I lived in Los Angeles for three years in the '70s. Even then, if you did not speak Spanish, it was foolish to trek into downtown LA. The city, by then, had already become a Mexican enclave. Now, thirty years later, one does indeed wonder if even Topeka, for God's sake, had better concentrate more on Spanish language classes rather than the dissemination of Intelligent Design.

Beware Dubya's "...we're all Americans..." spiel. He actually believes what he says. North America. South America. Yes, we are all Americans. Dubya's perception of what that particular statement means, is, I admit, a little scary. And, it's scary because I wonder if the concept "citizen" of the United States of America means anything at all, anymore? Does it?






Sunday, March 26, 2006

Denver's Parks - Unacceptable Neglect


JoAnne Ditmer's column, "Selling our parks," which appeared in this morning's Denver Post advises that, "The city's park system has an estimated $90 million backlog of capital and maintenance needs."

To give you some sense of the enormity of Denver's park system, Ms. Ditmer points out that, "Denver Parks and Recreation has 202 named parks and 30 recreation centers, 16 outdoor swimming pools, six golf courses, a skate park and about 100 unnamed parcels. An updated inventory of the entire system is underway. Named parks, parkways and golf courses total 5,696 acres. The 24 mountain parks have 13,500 acres, including Red Rocks. Parks and Recreation's budget is almost $45 million in public money, up from $44 million in 2005. "



The main thrust of Ms. Ditmer's column is to expose suggestions that putting Denver's parks up for sale to the highest bidder (not the park itself, but naming rights, corporate sponsorship of events, projects and sites) is a decidedly "ethical slippery slope." Major objections to this kind of commercialization of Denver's parks is just that: the commercialization of our parks as well as the inevitable corporate cluttering of our precious open spaces.

Ditmer's column included a quote from Denver's mayor, John Hickenlooper: "Parks are points of reflection, inspiration, where you might go when you're trying to make a decision."

It's probably irrelevant to note that Hickenlooper generally goes to massive committees or high-priced consultants to make his decisions (no, the buck doesn't stop with Hickenlooper. Never has and probably never will!)

I wonder when last Hickenlooper actually visited a public park? Parks are much, much more than backgrounds for contemplative musing. They're vital, busy, robust centers for community interaction and play and recreation and... Well, I think the rest of us understand what parks are and what actually happens in them.

Ditmer mentions that another way to raise money for park improvements is to form a conservancy for a particular park. Conservancies are usually made-up of folks who seem to have a little extra time and a whole lot of cash on their hands and come up with--what in Denver has been--secret plans for park improvements. Witness my recent post on the Civic Center Conservancy plan for Civic Center Park. What a nightmare.

There are "Master Plans" for several park improvements around the city. I know of at least two in my neighborhood: Berkeley and Highland Parks. Master Plans are really cool conceptual, living color, visions from architects, planners of what a particular park might look like if improvements were actually made to the parks. Neighborhood groups ooo and ahhhhh at these pretty documents. But, unfortunately, when asked how these improvements are going to be financed, the politicians smile and give you the schpiel about general obligation bonds and capitol improvement project funding (CIP) which, sadly, comes from the city's general fund.

Now, the city goes to the voters with general obligation bond questions about once every ten to fifteen years. Then it takes about the same amount of time (or a little less) to actually implement and finish the project if the bonds are approved. And, of course, no community, no neighborhood is guaranteed that their pet project is going to be included within a general obligation bond ballot question. It's the politicians who decide that. And, don't you just know that all those political markers held by Denver's City Councilmen/women against one another are extremely valuable come time to determine what to put on general obligation bond ballot questions.

$90 million deficit for infrastructure maintenance and projects in Denver's parks. That's shameful.

Ditmer's final point is that the Hickenlooper administration is sorely in need of some "...transparency and honesty in planning the future of Denver's parks."

Indeed.

Friday, March 24, 2006

On the War Trail


On the War Trail, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Civic Center Park, Denver.

Bronco Buster


Bronco Buster, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Civic Center Park, Denver.

Colorado State Capitol


Colorado State Capitol, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Viewed from Civic Center Park.

Denver's City and County Building

Viewed from Civic Center Park.

Fred Phelps is Queer!







Yup, and so is his little bevy of hate-mongers--mostly family members--that showed up yesterday to protest the introduction of the bill (Colorado Legislature) to require, among other things, that protesters of funerals (what pond scum would protest a funeral?) stay, at least, five-hundred feet away from the solemn ceremony.

Yes, they're queer.

Queer: Worthless, counterfeit; questionable, suspicious; mildly insane.

From the Rocky Mountain News: "The Phelps group's protest began minutes after a news conference by state lawmakers on the west steps of the Capitol to discuss the 'Right to Rest in Peace Act.'

"It would prohibit protesters within 500 feet of funeral sites an hour before, during and an hour after services.
"Similar legislation has recently been introduced in 26 other states because of the Westboro pickets.
"We believe in dignity. We believe in respect. We believe in privacy," said Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, one of the bill's sponsors.







"During the news conference, more than 50 members of a volunteer group called the Patriot Guard Riders flanked the speakers, holding American flags. On the flagpoles, yellow plastic ribbons held stickers with the names of fallen soldiers.

"The Patriot Guard attends troop funerals to support the mourning families and shield them from the Phelps protesters.

"When the Westboro Baptist Church members began protesting Thursday, the motorcyclists silently walked away.

"The Phelps group plans to protest at a benefit dinner Saturday at a Denver hotel for the Matthew Shepard Foundation, named after the young gay man slain in Wyoming. On Sunday, they said, they will picket eight churches in Lakewood and in and near Englewood."



**

I had decided to take a break from my usual daily ritual, and head downtown to see this spectacle, as reported in the News, above. I had also arranged with David, my partner, to have dinner in Lodo, so, making a day of it, I headed downtown at about 2 P.M. I parked in Lodo, and took the 16th Street shuttle to Tremont and walked to Civic Center Park.

Civic Center Park was constructed in the early part of the twentieth century as part of what was then called the, "City Beautiful" movement. The park is exquisitely open and gracefully bordered by wonderful examples of Roman and Greek architecture--a Greek theater on one end, a Greco-Roman fountain and pavilion on the other. The park sits between the Denver City and County Building to the west and, on a slight rise to the east, the Colorado State Capitol.

The pictures that precede this post were taken within Civic Center Park.

It was disturbing to walk through Civic Center Park and see, witness, experience the machinations of the homeless, the aimless youth, the drug dealers, the insane, the unemployed and unemployable lounging upon every marble or granite surface in the park and on the grass and huddling on the park benches like conspirators devising the overthrow of...what? Indeed, I felt the absolute need to continuously look over my shoulder and keep a firm clutch on my bag in which I had put my camera and extra digital memory chips. There was, for the entire time I was in Civic Center Park, not a single police officer circulating amongst the throngs of folks, many of whom were obviously dealing in chemical nirvana. Oh, well...




About 3 P.M. I climbed up the rise to the steps of the Capitol and witnessed the arrival of the Patriot Guard Riders who have--God Bless Them!--interposed themselves between the mourners at the funerals of those young men and women, soldiers who have died as a result of the Iraqi and Afghan conflicts and those nutcases from Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church. The Patriot Guard carry American flags in order to block out the obscene message the Phelps pond scum are preaching. (The pictures above provide the thousand words that I can't express here.)




Well, by about four P.M. is was all over. For me, two poignant photos appear above: The first is of the young woman who sobbed throughout the vicious hate-filled antics of the Phelps' group. She held a sign that read, "I love my soldier."




The other photo is that of the two four or five year old children from the Phelps' group wearing t-shirts declaring, "God Hates America." Pity the children


Conclusions: Fred Phelps and his little bevy of shamefully indoctrinated family members who spew his/their particular hate, are--for whatever reason--seeking the publicity that the media is tripping over one another to give to them. And, one more thought: There's something about Fred Phelps that doesn't ring true; that bothers me; there's some little pathological secret or quirk or fear that has caused this angry, angry man to do what he is doing. Indeed, if you visit Phelps website, godhatesfags.com, you'll note his bio indicates he actually had an appointment to West Point. But, God intervened and sent him off to preacher school. I'm wondering if something else might have "intervened?" And, I'm reminded of Willie Nelson's, "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other) in which part of the lyrics warns that you "...can't fuck with the lady that's sleepin' in each cowboy's head."

Come on, Fred, who'd yah wanna sleep with, way back when? Was the immersion into an essentially male existence at West Point just a wee bit threatening or, perhaps, even frightening?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

God Hates Fred Phelps


How do I know? 'Cause the bible tells me so.

This idiot, Phelps and his minions (most, if not all, are family members--he's got 17 children and 54 grandchildren, for God's sake!) will be spewing his hateful message in front of the Capitol today at 3 or 3:30. This is the idiot who pickets funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq with, well, the pictures above should speak for themselves.

I'm going to head downtown and take a few shots of these flatlanders (Topeka!) and I'll post them, hopefully, tomorrow.

These idiots are also going to picket a Matthew Shepard Foundation fund raising dinner outside the Westin Tabor Center at about 5pm on Saturday.

I'm remembering Anita Bryant, right now. Jesus...

Curiously, Fred Phelps--the leader of this hatefilled little bevy of dipshits--landed a slot at West Point--according to his biography on their website--and, subsequently gave up that appointment because God sent him in another direction. Something wrong with that explanation, me thinks.

Oh well... We'll see what develops today at the Capitol. Come one, come all.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Vernal Equinox - Spring Has Sprung (Somewhere??)

Did you know that the day upon which Jesus Christ supposedly rose from the dead wasn't established until three-hundred and twenty-five years after the supposed event? Indeed, "The Council of Nice decreed in 325 A.D. that 'Easter was to fall upon the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox.'"

Rabbits? Eggs? "The ancient goddess, Eostre, a Saxon deity who marked not only the passage of time but also symbolized new life and fertility, was the key symbol of this celebration which was also known as Ostara. Legend has it that the goddess was saved by a bird whose wings had become frozen by the cold of winter.

"This process turned the bird into a hare. Yet this was no ordinary cottontail; this long-eared rabbit could also lay eggs!

"The main symbols for Easter are the egg, for new life or beginnings, and the rabbit/hare, for fertility."

Yes, Pagan rituals and beliefs form the basis for Christian beliefs, practices related to Easter.

"As Christianity spread across Europe and Britain, these older symbols became incorporated into the new faith's holiday of Easter; even the name seems to have been a variant of the Goddess whose festival was originally celebrated with the arrival of spring. The old rites honoring the planting of new seeds, the fertility of the land and its people, and the hope of the new life arising in the world were replaced by solemn displays commemorating Christ and Christian beliefs."

You might want to take a look at Equinox and Solstice.Com.

It was 17 degrees this morning at 6:30 when I took Melissa for her first of three daily walkies. But, we're expecting 60+ degrees here in Denver this weekend. But, just wait until April. Vernal Equinox or not, I betcha we get a doozy of a storm in April.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sweet Melissa


Sweet Melissa, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Patiently awaiting the arrival of the Vernal Equinox (while basking in 3" of snow today).

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Three Years in Hell - Dubya's Nasty Little War

Repeating an earlier post is, for me, the most eloquent way to honor the American dead and reflect on this, the third anniversary of Dubya's nasty little war.

Additionally, CNN provides pictures, biographies and causes of death for the 2,519 coalition forces who have died as a result of the duplicity of the Bush administration in continuing this war based on lies and deceipt. Take a look at the faces of these young people. Just take a look.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Dude Rules!

From ifilm, the Lebowski fest. ("The Big Lebowski," is one of the best movies ever made. Just take my word for it!)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Wearin' O' the Green - Happy St. Pat's Day


Wearin' O' the Green, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

It's probably obvious Sweet Melissa doens't do ribbons.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Libeskind Abortion Redux?



What you see here (to your left) is the newest addition to Denver's Museum of Art. The architect was Daniel Libeskind, the world-famous (Gawd! He is so friggin' world-famous!) Polish immigrant who was chosen to provide the re-design of the World Trade Center site in NY.

Forgive me all ya'll artsy types, but this building is an obtuse abortion (a scary, extraterrestrial decidely dead fetus) that, for me, harkens back to some "art for art's sake" notion of what art is or should be.

From Christopher L.C.E. Witcombe:

" As the 19th century progressed, the exercise of artistic freedom became fundamental to progressive modernism. Artists began to seek freedom not just from the rules of academic art, but from the demands of the public. Soon it was claimed that art should be produced not for the public's sake, but for art's sake.

"Art for Art's Sake is basically a call for release from the tyranny of meaning and purpose. From a progressive modernist's point of view, it was a further exercise of freedom. It was also a ploy, another deliberate affront to bourgeois sensibility which demanded art with meaning or that had some purpose such as to instruct, or delight, or to moralize, and generally to reflect in some way their own purposeful and purpose-filled world. A progressive modernist painter like James Abbott McNeill Whistler, for example, blithely stated that his art satisfied none of those things. "

Okay. I'm bourgeois. Can't brush that off my shoulders like dandruff. I wreak of it.

Thing is, though, that some "elite" types who make-up what is called the, "Civic Center Conservancy," paid Mister Libeskind $75,000 to provide a plan for the redo of one of Denver's most coveted historically significant spaces, Civic Center Park, part of which is provided in the picture above on the right.

Civic Center Park was built during the "City Beautiful" movement that occurred during the infancy of the twentieth century. Public/private partnerships became the moving force behind the beautification of cities throughout America with parks and fountains and esplanades and pavilions and flowers and grass and, well, you get the point. Fat cats contributed enormous amounts of money in an effort to make American cities beautiful.

Well, Denver's Civic Center Park--like most other parks in the city, not to mention the entirety of the city of Denver's infrastructure--is deteriorating due to neglect in maintenance which, of course, is due to a lack of money to provide that maintenance which, of course, is due to our current Mayor, John Hickenlooper's (and prior mayors) grand schemes for "more important" general obligation bond projects like, for example, a new jail, rather than an aggressive plan to combat the deteriorization of the city's infrastructure, including its precious parks.

Okay. That said, let me tell you that the $75,000 paid to Libeskind produced what has become a "secret" conceptual "vision" for Civic Center Park. This vision includes what the Rocky Mountain News tells us is:

"There amid the park's classic, century-old City Beautiful design, Libeskind envisioned a spreading, shallow pond that would eliminate the great lawn. It would be drained for special events and possibly become an ice skating rink in the winter.

"A 330-foot tower would spiral from the center of the park, with an elevator that would whisk visitors to an Eiffel Tower-style observation platform.


"A new cafe kiosk with a shiplike prow would jut 30 feet over Broadway, with a twin kiosk protruding over 14th Avenue.

"A metal 'lightning bolt' bridge would be built over West Colfax Avenue, a pedestrian link to the 16th Street Mall area."

Um, nope. Libeskind's vision and the "Civic Center Conservancy," (which, incidentally is the epitome of a euphamistic moniker) can take a flying leap.

Helen Kuykendall, a senior city parks planner who serves on the Civic Center Conservancy, said in a Rocky Mountain News article that, "We want to take the City Beautiful principles and reinterpret them for the 21st century. That's why it is valid to be open to the ideas of an architect with Libeskind's stature."

Nope. Ain't buyin' it Helen. Civic Center Park represents much, much more than a playground for the likes of Daniel Libeskind to flaunt his "genius." Civic Center Park requires the gentle, loving, seriously motivated care of those who understand history, who understand the preservation of history, who understand the necessity to maintain history.

Civic Center Park does not need the plopping of another Libeskind (bloody awful) abortion into it's pristine midst.




Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Just a Dog










(That's Sweet Melissa on the left and Calvin above on the right.) My niece, Mimi, sent the below to me.

Just a dog Musings by Richard Biby, Contributing Editor Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

From time to time, people tell me, "lighten up, it's "just a dog", or, that's a lot of money for just a dog. They don't understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog". Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog". Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog", but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog", and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day. If you, too, think it's just a dog", then you will probably understand phases like "just a friend", "just a sunrise", or "just a promise". "Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. "Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person. Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. "Just a dog" brings out whats good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day. I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog" but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a man." So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog" just smile, because they "just don't understand" Roca (C) 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

Iran-Contra Revisited

Scary stuff from ifilm. (Video)

So Sick of Politics




Bill Frist, Republican from Tennessee and the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate who, you may recall, said upon the Senator floor that, Terri Schiavo was"...not somebody in persistent vegetative state..." and later recanted those words by telling folks (via the media) that he agreed with the autopsy conclusion that the Florida woman had suffered severe, irreversible brain damage and that he would, "... never, never, on the floor of the Senate, [make] a diagnosis, nor would I ever do that." However, Frist's remarks on the Senate floor with regard to the Schiavo case were made with the caveat that he, Frist was commenting on Schiavo's highly publicized case "more as a physician than as a United States senator." You may recall that Frist went on to say in that speech that, he had reviewed videotapes of Schiavo and noted that her brother "said that she responds to her parents and to him. That is not somebody in persistent vegetative state. . . . There just seems to be insufficient information to conclude that Terri Schiavo is [in a] persistent vegetative state."

Suffice it to say, Frist was playing to his constituency and pressing one of the neocon, fundamentalistic Christian hot buttons most often shouted from the steeple as: Pro Life.

Are the rest of us Anti Life?

I guess it's important to note that Frist also advocates the teaching of Intelligent Design in the nation's public schools.

Now, of course (why we couldn't expect less of the gentleman from Tennessee, now could we!) Frist will reintroduce the Defense of Marriage Act before the United State Senate some time in June of this year. Hot buttons. Hot buttons. Hot buttons. That's the key; that's the secret; that's the great trump card the right latched onto through their lean years: press those hot buttons and your constituency will respond...in droves.

What have the Democrats learned during their lean times? Nada. Nothing. Reactive impotence, maybe. I don't know.

Now, the recently concluded Republican Leadership Conference in, where else, Tennessee gave Frist the number one slot in their straw pole for the Republican nominee for President in '08. Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts got the second place nod.

Now, let me just expose my bias, my prejudice here. Both these guys, Frist and Romney turn my stomach. They are, in my opinion, condescending, effete, privileged consummate politicians whose only passion is the fulfillment of their own egoism.

Okay, that said, a little something about Romney.

Romney, in this story from 365gay.com, (and I quote in full):

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has announced plans to file a bill exempting religious organizations from the state's nondiscrimination law in the wake of Friday's decision by the Catholic church to get out of the adoption business.

Catholic Charities said it would stop placing children for adoption rather than adhere to state law that bars discrimination on the basis of sexuality. (story)
Romney said his bill would include institutions run by all religious denominations and said it was a matter of 'religious freedom".


Although he was not specific on details of the legislation he indicated it also would extend to church run hospitals, agencies that help the needy and other faith based groups tied to churches, and not just to adoption agencies.

The proposal was dismissed by Democrats who control the State House but was immediately hailed by Republicans eying a future after George W. Bush.

Romney, like most other GOP presidential hopefuls, is attending the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis, Tenn.

His tough stance for an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and his faith based human rights exemption plan for churches catapulted him to the number two spot in a weekend straw poll of potential candidates.


The number one spot went to Tennessee Senator Bill Frist, a sponsor of the proposed federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Frist, as a southerner and a Tennessean had the "home team advantage" since the Conference is meeting in his home state.
Romney's bill is not likely to get far at home however.


A spokesperson for Senate President Robert E. Travaglini (D) said the bill had little chance of passing.

''Given the antidiscrimination laws and the history of gay adoption, there's been nothing to suggest that there's been a problem with these adoptions," Ann Dufresne told the Boston Globe.
House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi (D) said there is little support.


In a statement DiMasi said that the state must ''ensure that discrimination is not tolerated in this vital publicly-supported function."

As he presses forward with plans to seek the GOP presidential nomination Romney is not seeking re-election as governor.

Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who is seeking the Republican nomination to succeed Romney last week, saying sheƂ’s opposed to exempting the church from the anti-discrimination laws.


Other Massachusetts Republicans also distanced themselves from Romney's plan.

Okay, so Romney wants to create a "special class" of people, institutions who can legally discriminate against gay folk. You conservatives out there should evaluate this in light of your oft-voiced objections, on the basis of "special class" creation, to gay marriage and/or domestic partner rights legislation.

Anyway, I'm really getting sick of politics in this country. Maybe it's that I'm really getting sick of the two-party system.

Maybe it's just that I'm of that generation whose minds, souls were captured by the promise of Camelot, by a New Frontier that, sadly, died in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Couple Things - Another Novel; And, Well, Um, Maybe Ethanol Ain't So Bad

I finished writing my second novel last week. When I retired, I pledged to myself to write a novel a year until either my mind goes south (some think it already has) or some other eventuality occurs. This novel is 120,489 words from my seriously brilliant :-] fantastically skewed brain, where, among other things, two elderly lesbians who are camped on the western shore of Grand Lake (the deepest natural lake in Colorado) find a baby floating on the water, encased in a life jacket, with a bottle of apple juice in its mouth. The more athletic of the two, shucks her clothes and swims out to the baby. Suffice it to say, they don't give the baby up. As a matter of fact... No, I can't give that away. I've named the novel, "Finding Deaglan." Yes, the child is decidedly Irish. And, legend has it, there is no bottom to Grand Lake! There are wolves and wealth; a bevy of gay and lesbian folk whose friendships span thirty years and there are Indians and the old medicine passed down from the progenitors of those Indians and an old haunted house on, what else, Gaylord Street and, well, lots of other--as I said--fantastical things going on in the little tome.

**
It appears the source on my recent post dealing with Ethanol may have been debunked. (Suz, you can start-up those Sunday morning corn-worship meditative dance ceremonies again.) I'm not totally convinced (neither is Jack, one of the commenters on that post), but this morning's Rocky Mountain News provided several editorials with regard to my source. In the interest of "fair and balanced," here's what the green folks had to say:
Ethanol race has begun

In his March 4 column, Kevin Hassett states "Exxon Mobil Corp. had $36 billion in net income last year. If an alternative fuel source could be developed that would compete for that business, the rewards would be enormous. There would be a race to get there first."

Well, the race is on. At today's gasoline prices, ethanol can be produced for less than gasoline, and the rush to build new ethanol plants is on. There are 41 ethanol projects under way with a combined capacity of 2 billion gallons per year.

Does Hassett know how much domestically produced fuel that is? How about the equivalent of the largest oil refinery in California? Just two years ago, new ethanol projects numbered about a dozen per year. Now, ethanol plants are being built at an unprecedented rate, just as Hassett suggested would happen. Only he hasn't seemed to notice. The equivalent of a large refinery is being built about every two years by the U.S. ethanol industry. The fuel from these refineries is grown and produced right in the U.S.

Every study regarding the energy efficiency of ethanol has found that ethanol production is energy-efficient except the one cited by Hassett. Most recently, the distinguished chair of energy at UC-Berkeley, Dr. Dan Kammen, stated "It is better to use various inputs to grow corn and make ethanol and use that in your cars than it is to use the gasoline and fossil fuels directly."
Let's summarize the situation this way. Corn is the largest crop in the US. The majority of that corn is used for animal feed in the U.S. and abroad. Corn contains about 70 percent starch. The world is starch-rich and protein-poor (think rice in Asia). Ethanol production removes the starch from corn and concentrates the protein threefold. The protein and other nutrients in the corn are still available to feed animals in the U.S. and abroad.

Why should we import gasoline and export starch when we can cost-effectively convert the starch into fuel and still export protein to a protein-starved world? Do you think U.S. gasoline refiners want to see that last 10 percent of imported gasoline replaced with ethanol and with it more than $5 billion in profits? With this level of money involved, the disinformation will continue.

Mark Yancey, vice president BBI Ethanol Consulting Denver
Ethanol shows promise

The "A-maize-ing" opinion piece that ran last Saturday was permeated with misinformation. Apparently, the Rocky Mountain News has adopted the role of propagandist mouthpiece for extreme right-wing think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute.

The "recent study" that was cited in this article has been debunked by half a dozen other sources. Although Hassett would like to have you believe that the only reason a federal initiative exists to promote ethanol is because of large soft money donations to political parties from agricultural companies, the fact is that ethanol has shown promise in solving our country's energy dependence problem.

It is hard to believe that any rationally thinking person could believe the statement that "cars emit more pollution when running on gasoline/ethanol blends than when running on gasoline alone." Why has our air quality improved since the mandate to use 10 percent ethanol during the winter months was enacted? Ethanol is renewable; when burned it generates zero greenhouse gas; it can utilize the existing fuel distribution infrastructure and can be used in 5 million autos that are currently on the road.

Brian P. Boyarko Littleton
Fuel claims appalling

In response to the editorial by Kevin Hassett in the March 4 business section of the Saturday Rocky Mountain News titled "A-maize-ing: Bush has fallen for the costly ethanol scam," I was appalled by the claims made for the continuing use of petroleum-based fuels. An example that contradicts his claims is a study reported by the EPA, gov/otaq/consumer/06?clean.pdf, proving that it makes more sense to continue the development of alternative fuels and press for the distribution of these products.

The only item that is factual about Hassett's editorial is that petroleum products are cheaper to distill and distribute. From an economic standpoint this makes sense for the petroleum companies since the EPA regulates the pollutants that they produce. Alcohol distillation is a new industry and must be monitored in the same way that any other industry is monitored. I believe Mr. Hassett is a fine economist, but his facts are clearly wrong based on misinformation.

Matthew Spiegel Denver

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bennett, Colorado - Putting the Devil in His (Her?) Place



The Rocky Mountain News reports this morning that when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built a meeting house in the town of Strasburg, which is just about a hop, skip and a jump from the town of Bennett, the good folks of Bennett had some very intense conversations about whether or not Mormons were Christians.

Ah, Bennett. To recap the essential nature of Bennett, Colorado and what this little slip of a town has to do with anything, some details are necessary.

Now, hoping you've read the background, the News reports this morning that, "Several parents complained that the video (a thirty-year-old video tape that was an introduction to opera for school children that featured Joan Sutherland and excerpts from the opera, "Faust"), which Tresa Waggoner got from the school library and showed some twenty minutes of which to her class, contained references to abortion and Satan worship.

"During the February 16th (school) board meeting more than 53 people appeared to support her (Waggoner's) returning to the classroom and six opposed it, Waggoner said.

"'Dr. Sauter (school superintendent in Adam's County where Bennett beams signals back and forth to
Fred Phelps in Topeka, Kansas) told me it would be too disruptive to let me teach again," she said.

Suffice it to say, the offending music teacher, Tresa Waggoner, has chosen to seek employment elsewhere. Indeed, the Mayor of Bennett, Karen Grossiant "...resigned in February and said Waggoner's removal was the 'last straw.'

"Tresa Waggoner was the last in a very long line of very peculiar situations,' said Grossiant, an administrator at Regis University [in Denver].

"'Bennett has a mean-spirited undertone. I'd had enough,' she said."

I guess, under the circumstances, it's just plain silly to mention that the offending teacher has cut two Christian based CDs and sees herself as pursuing a position as a church music director.

Ah, what the hell... The culture war persists.

What, I wonder, would the good folks of Bennett do if they found themselves dealing with what Willie Nelson tells us: "Small towns don't like it when somebody falls between sexes. And a small town don't like it when a cowboy has feelin's for men."

Yup, forget Faust. Danger looms in more substantive, temporal forms.

ColoradoPols - Alas, A Paucity of Civility


One of my links, ColoradoPols, purports to provide the inside track on the behind-the-scenes machinations of Colorado politics and politicians which, I do believe, it successfully accomplishes to one extent or another. The site endeavors to provide the latest Colorado political news, gossip and, sometimes outright baloney that seems to erupt daily from our beautiful state's politicians and wingnuts--left and right. Suffice it to say, the site provides a forum for the supposedly "inside track" political hacks, office holders, bureaucrats, petty functionaries, wannabe big shots, journalists, to post on any given "political" topic that is highlighted or raised in conversation by those posting. It is important to note that probably 99% of those who post on the site, do so anonymously.

I am one of the few posters on the site who has never posted anonymously. I have no reason to post anonymously. Admittedly, some posters on the site need to protect their identity. Or, do they? Why? If they have the courage of their convictions, why post anonymously. But, then, that's another discussion for another time.

All you rightwing, corncob-up-the-ass conservative (probably evangelical) wingnuts may put your hands over your ears for a moment.

Richard Dreyfuss (I know: Lefty, Commie, Pinko-fairy, Hollywood harpie), who addressed the Washington Press Corps recently, said something that caught my attention and got me to thinking about a couple of things, notably ColoradoPols. I'm paraphrasing here, but Dreyfuss said something to the effect that civility is the oxygen of democracy. If we have no civility in our discourse, then there is no democracy; there is no opportunity for the other side to be heard or for their notions, their polemic to be considered.

Okay, rightwing, come on back.

I used to post often on ColoradoPols. At the point where I actually contributed a post in which I called some ignoble son-of-a-bitch a "dick," was almost precisely the same moment I happened to turn the mute button off and caught the CSPAN broadcast of Dreyfuss's speech in which he spoke about civility, among other things, including (close your ears again, righties!), the necessity to impeach George W. Bush.

Fate!

Usually the post strings on ColoradoPols will begin civilly enough but, let me damn sure guarantee you, that the posts generally degenerate into what, I do believe, anonymity encourages on sites like this: the mad-doggedness aggressiveness of intemperate, crude, bullying, rude put-downs and castigations, threats and epithets, recriminations and rebukes.

Um, now that I think about it, what I've shared in the above paragraph sounds a little like the state of American politics these days. The national polemic--the culture war, the polarization extant in this country today-- is as sickenly palpable as a neglected goiter on the neck of a seriously engaged sufferer of thyroid dysfunction. Those are nasty lookin' growths, ya'll.

Curiously, something else always seems to surface on the post strings on ColoradoPols. Pretty much, no matter what happens to be the subject of the post, the most prolific participants (posters) on the site feel the need, the urge, perhaps the responsibility to suggest that if you ain't served your country under combat sit'ations, ya'll, then your thoughts, your reasoning, your argument ain't worth the shit it was delivered on. (I'm thinking now about something Willie Nelson said in his little ditty, "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (fond of each other") but I won't bring that up here. )

Well, anyway, I've stayed away from posting on ColoradoPols for a while. I guess I was shocked to have actually published a post that called some anonymous presence, a "dick."

I still enjoy reading the posts on the site and I do, occasionally offer my thoughts. (Archbishop Chaput and the Hick are two hot buttons that I can't seem to avoid commenting on.)

But, what about civility? Would the site be less, oh, popular if those who posted were civil to one another? I doubt it. I guess part of the allure of the site is the reflection of the fucking mess this country is in -- Thanks, Dubya! -- which is reflected each and every day, on each and every string that appears on the site.

"Civility is the oxygen of democracy." Hmmm.... I still think those are good words.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sweet Melissa-Thank you, Je-Hah-Sus! Finally, Snow in Denver!


Sweet Melissa, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Bright Eyes, "At the Bottom of Everything"

We must

"...set fire to the preacher who is promising us hell,
and in the ear of every anarchist,
that sleeps but doesn't dream,
we must sing, we must sing, we must sing."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The More Things Change... Yeah, It's Colorado Again! Bennish v. Media Hype

Back in the late '60s, the Black Panther Party in Denver provided breakfast to black children who, presumably, would not otherwise have received a good breakfast prior to their arduous trek to the white man's school. Or, so the Panther's claimed. Along with the breakfast, though, the Panthers also provided the children with coloring books and crayons. The coloring books portrayed police officers as pigs being killed, maimed by proud black folk hoisting automatic weapons, pistols, ball bats, etc.

Burn Baby Burn!

In the late '60s, I sat, twice a week, in a Sociology 101 class at the University of Colorado, Denver Center, presided over by none other than the Director of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Jim Reynolds. There were probably more than a hundred of us in the class. Only guessing here, mind you, but there may have been one other student in the class who took more than a little umbrage with Mister Reynolds' oft-voiced admiration, adulation of the Black Panther Party.

"But, Mister Reynolds," I said, "the Panthers advocate the murder of cops; they advocate the burning of American cities."

"The Panthers feed hungry children," was, consistently, the response from Mister Reynolds.

The more things change...

I suspect most of you have heard about Jay Bennish, a geography teacher from a Denver suburb, whose fiery lecture--he compared George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler, for heaven's sake!--was taped (MP3'd) by one of his tenth grade students, a precocious, slightly pudgy youngster with a staunchly Republican father, a supposedly Democratic mother and surely a yen for stardom...bypassing American Idol all together.

Seems the youngster and his daddy, Sean Allen and Jeff Allen respectively, were so terribly outraged by the Bennish classroom rant, that they contacted a compadre of Rush Limbaugh, Walter E. Williams of Virginia's George Mason University who, outraged as well, wrote a column that was posted on the internet. Not satisfied with the reaction thereto, the Allen boys contacted a local, very, very, very conservative radio commentator, Mike Rosen, who carried the ball from there. (It, of course, should be noted that Limbaugh characterized the likes of the teacher, Jay Bennish, as "...maggot-infested...".)

Suffice it to say, the media went apeshit with this story and, even today, the story abounds on the airwaves, through the satellite dishes and remains splattered in black on more than a few newspapers.

Two points: One -Radio talk show hosts are the most prolific whores on the face of the earth who, through time and practice, have affirmed their savage tendency to hump (to oblivion) any bullshit issue that latches on to the hairs in their nostrils, like beer farts from the dumb shit sitting on the stool next to them.

Two-Public education in this country is, has been and, most likely--with the exception of those holy roller enclaves of intelligent design--will forever be the marketplace of ideas where liberalism soars and where youthful minds need beware to think for themselves.

THINK FOR YOURSELVES, YOUNG'UNS! READ! Surely, without the media frenzy and sans a sure place in the fifteen-minutes-of-fame spotlight, the integrity, the substance of your beliefs can withstand the whining, dramatic, classroom rants of a twenty-eight year old blond Rastapharian, who--forty years ago--would probably also have voiced the unarguable sentiment: "They feed hungry children."







Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Last Straw - The Absurdity of Ethanol

Kevin Hassert writes in this morning's, Rocky Mountain News, that, "In a capital city that is full of shameless political scams, ethanol is perhaps the most egregious. There has probably never been a specific topic around which so much disinformation is spread. Ethanol lowers our reliance on fossil fuels! Ethanol helps clean the environment! Ethanol will save the family farm! Such sound bites work wonders when it comes to raising money. And the amount involved is mind-boggling. The federal government subsidizes ethanol producers with a tax credit of 51 cents per gallon of fuel ethanol; those subsidies will total about $1.4 billion this year."

If I were to suggest that I already knew what Hassert reported to be true, that I was not fooled by the hoopla over Ethanol (have you seen the tv commercials where youngsters stand in cornfields and imagine a better world? not to mention Dubya's touting of Ethanol in his SOTU), I would be lying. That hook, line and sinker was beginning to be deeply and securely embedded in my intellectual gut, in spite of my admittedly increasingly sardonic view of the world. We can't even believe in corn. Cynicism abounds.

But, for God's sake, I was not ready for Hassert's revelations that, by the way--if I had given any thought to it at all--are self-evident.

Consider: "If you look at the facts," Hassert continued, "the spending makes no sense whatsoever. Consider how ethanol is produced. Corn is grown, harvested, then delivered to an ethanol plant. There the corn is ground and mixed with water. After fermentation, a mixture that is about 8 percent ethanol must be repeatedly distilled until it is 99.5 percent pure ethanol. Growing and harvesting the corn, and heating and reheating the fermented corn to produce ethanol of a high enough quality to replace some of the gasoline in your car requires an enormous amount of energy.

"How much? A recent study by Cornell University's David Pimentel and the University of California at Berkeley's Tad Patzek added up all the energy consumption that goes into ethanol production. They took account of the energy it takes to build and run tractors. They added in the energy embodied in the other inputs and irrigation. They parsed out how much is used at the ethanol plant. Putting it all together, they found that it takes 29 percent more energy to make ethanol from corn than is contained in the ethanol itself."


"... no matter how expensive fossil fuels become, ethanol will never be economical because it takes so much fossil fuel to produce. It might be possible that someday technological processes will emerge that make production of ethanol less reliant on fossil fuels, but the billions in subsidies to this point have left us with a process that is still a disgrace and an absurd waste of energy and taxpayers' money.

"At least ethanol reduces pollution, right? Maybe the subsidies are worthwhile because they will buy us a cleaner environment. Guess again. First, corn production, according to Pimentel and Patzek, "uses more herbicides and insecticides than any other crop produced in the U.S."
And the Environmental Protection Agency has cited ethanol plants for air pollution. In a letter to the industry's trade group, the EPA noted that pollution was a problem in "most, if not all, ethanol facilities.


"These plants produce large quantities of waste water as well.


"Ethanol contributes to air pollution. Cars emit more air pollution when they run on gasoline containing ethanol than they do when running on gasoline alone. Our environment would be greener if we stopped relying on ethanol."


Hassert goes on to report that the ethanol scam is quite popular with politicians because, well, the corn and ethanol lobbyists are shellin' out the big bucks and, of course, every state in the union that grows substantial quantities of corn sees those generous government subsidies as essential to their well-being in spite of the absurdity of it all.

You know, in spite of everything, in spite of the lies, duplicity, treachery, unabashed ignoramousnous (is that a word?) espoused by this American President which has led this nation to shoulder the greatest deficit in it's history, has sent young, beautiful boys and girls to fight a war that cannot be won where democracy will forever play second fiddle to the calling of Allah; yes, in spite of all of this and many more disgustingly depressing matters which I've really grown weary of posting about, I thought there was at least one pure, God-sent truth out there that I could believe in, support, espouse the benefits of: Corn.

Ain't so, bucko. (Merriam-Webster: Bucko: a person who is domineering and bullying. A SWAGGERER!)

"Spin" from ifilms - Gotta See This one