Law and Order?

When I was a kid we used to play games. The games usually had rules, albeit soft rules. “Soft” meaning that if we didn’t like them we would say so, try to work out a new rule system with the group, usually to some success even if it was usually some sort of compromise. Once in awhile if the group wouldn’t go along with the proposed change someone, having an especially self-centered day, would get mad and say something fine such as “If you don’t like the rules then don’t play,” or from the other perspective, “If you don’t change the rule, I’m not going to play” — maybe something even more home-centered: “I’ll tell my Mom!” Well, some folks never grow up.

How do you feel about someone breaking the law, justifying it by saying that he did it for our good, and then having the law changed by his friends after the fact.

Here is a quote from Dan Froomkin “White House Briefing,” Washington Post :

Late Night Anger
Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) was on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night, talking about his censure resolution. Crooks and Liars has the video.

Feingold: “I was taught that it’s the Congress that makes the laws and the president is supposed to sign them and he’s supposed to enforce them. He’s not just supposed to make them up. And on this illegal wiretapping, he apparently just decided that he didn’t like things the way there were, and made up his own law. I don’t think we can let him get away with that. So I think it’s a pretty mild step to say, by resolution, Mr. President, you did the wrong thing. How about admitting it, and maybe apologizing?”

Stewart, in conclusion: “This feels like some attempt at accountability, and that’s what I really like about it. Because it seems like the worse you screw up, with these guys, the bigger the trophy they give you.”


“Chiselling Little Crook”

Mayor Ken Livingstone (London) said “It would actually be quite nice if the American ambassador in Britain could pay the charge that everybody else is paying and not actually try and skive out of it like some chiselling little crook.” Livingstone was referring to the London Congestion Charge on all vehicles entering the city. Perhaps it was a tactless way to put it but can someone tell me why diplomats are allowed immunity from such things as this? I’m not referring only to this specific London charge but to almost anything and anywhere– London, New York, anywhere? Just because you are a diplomat you don’t have to abide by the laws and regulations that keep the rest of us under control and avoid total societal meltdown? If the laws allw this, the laws need to be changed! I wish we had chaps like Livingstone in the U.S. who could say what they really think without having to run it by a political advisor to see how it will play in next week’s polls.

Stop Genocide in Darfur? “No, No, We Won’t Go”

Utah Congressmen Cannon and Bishop, both Republicans, voted against increasing aid to the African Union’s peacekeeping force. To see the House roll call vote (in case you are not from Utah) click here. The purpose of the peacekeeping force is to protect and assist those who have been the victims of more horrendous atrocities than we here in our little self-righteous bubble can imagine. The vote by our representatives is something all Utahns should be ashamed of, yes, including those who profess a belief in The Book of Mormon (see Jacob 2:19). American Progress Action Fund has more.

Fighting the War that You Make

Richard Cohen talks today in his WAPO column about Bush’s determination to go to war in Iraq. This is nothing new, we’ve been hashing and rehashing, screaming from the left and the right about the “rightness/wrongness” of this war. Cohen, as have others in the last three and a half years, says that perhaps the Bush probably truly believed the feeds his advisors, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and the other neocons gave him. I’m not saying anything new or profound here, just venting. I agree because all the evidence available to the general public (minus actual intelligence scores) indicate that Bush’s intellect isn’t high enough to facilitate deep analytical abilities. He seems to be a very concrete thinker so if you tell him something that fits into his ideas of the world he will believe it. The dangerous part is that all of his feed is coming from one trough in the sty; no balanced diet here. Why are we willing to follow a man who can only see one way? This is a weak post but I’m short on time.

Courts Blow EPA/Bush Admin’s Hot Air

A federal appeals court today supported the petition led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer against the EPA for its new rule in 2003 allowing power-generating plants to upgrade or modernize up to 20% of the plant’s value without having to install pollution-controlling equipment. The Clean Air Act stands as is, allowing exemptions only for routine maintenance, repair and replacement. The court’s rejection of the EPA’s attempt to be exempt from the controls mandated by the Clean Air Act also rebuffed the Bush Administration. The 2003 rule was part of the advisement from Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force which included top energy company executives. Now the energy[electrical] companies are telling us that being required to adhere to the Clean Air Act will result in higher prices for consumers, more pollution and the decline of the electrical power-generating system as a whole with potential disruptions as a result. Of course that is what they will tell us; they are businesses, not public service systems. Please feel free to have a conversation with me on this, but I disagree and I’ll tell you why. First, the cost: yes, upgrading and installing the pollution controls will cost money but these companies will pass those costs to the consumer so they will not lose money. Second, increased pollution: These plants are restricted to measured standards already established by the EPA. If pollution emissions increase and exceed these standards the plant will have to shut down and make repairs. Third, potential disruptions: the second and third points coincide here because plants cannot shut down, nor can disruptions be major or continuous. These are, again, businesses that produce a consumable product — energy. If the product is not being consumed there will be no income or profit and shareholders will not receive their dividends. This doesn’t consider the potential cost of accident or other litigation that could result from an electrical disruption. Again, money is driving the system. If, however, we let the energy companies drive the dialogue they will continue to use their manipulative scare tactics on the public.

We, the public, the consumers of their product, are dependent on them for our power [electricity] but they are dependent on us for their power [money]. We are codependents which makes this a win-win situation. They install clean air equipment, we help pay for it, they get their money, we get our electricity and we all benefit from better technology and cleaner air. We can do this! I am grateful that this court was wise enough to see that we cannot stay in an energy company-induced “dark age.” Now we can all move into the light together!

My Eden

Porpoises, that’s what the waves look like as they leap Porpoises, sea sprite, moms....toward the rocks and shore. The spray arches back over each breaking wave like a mother hovering over her child on the first day of school. Clinging for that last touch and then fading back and settling into the rolling sea.

How many times can you look at the same scene yet see something completely different? How many times can you photograph the same beach, the same island, the same forest and still feel that you’ve never seen it just this way? That it has never before been this beautiful. What kind of place is it that can connect with your soul, reaching and touching your innermost self with a familiarity that says, yes, this is home, this is my place of most belonging?
As I look from the front window of the rustic cabin where my family stays in La Push, Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula, I see the same scene I have seen many times before: the beach, James Island – Akalat in the local Quileute language– as well as the other cabins clustered in this quaint little resort. It is after 9:00 a.m. but sunlight has yet to fully break through the dawn into morning as if it regrets having to wake us. These mornings of gentle low light, though familiar to people of the northern regions are unfamiliar to me as I come from Utah, a western mountain desert region where the sun usually bursts into the day before we are ready to join it.
evening at Second Beach

This is a quiet place, a place of stillness. Walking the trail to the beach, the only sound I hear above the muffled waves is my clumsy stumbling among the pebbles. The rhythmic beating of waves grows louder and more distinct as I draw nearer and, cresting the rise of accumulated driftwood, sand, rock and grass, the length of the beach crescent stretches before me. This morning the waves are as gentle as the dawn itself. Other visits to this same scene have been of crashing, foaming wildness that awes as it reminds me of my smallness. For this moment I am alone on the beach, not even a gull or sea bird accompanies me. Looking down the beach toward the jutting headland I see the waves breaking against the rocks sending showers into the air. Now they stand defiant and challenging against the water’s strength but how long, I wonder, will it take the small cluster of sea stacks, those spire-like remnants of the receding headland, to finally dissolve under the never-ending waves?

At the headland a forest trail wanders out to another isolated beach. The heaviness catchingof the moist air muffles sound. One must stop and listen carefully to hear the sounds of life in this forest as even the birds seem to respect the silence. Moisture accumulates on the needles and leaves from the humidity, mist or gentle rain and, ever bowing to gravity, droplets make their downward journey from one level of the forest to another, eventually soaking into the soft, sweet-smelling earth. This soil, as other rainforest soils, has a thick, rich layer of woody material and leaves to catch and hold the moisture while it breaks down into the nutrients upon which the vegetation greedily feeds. Root systems are shallow here, however, as the richness doesn’t extend past about a hand’s depth. Trees, therefore, fall frequently and, in their falling, sacrifice themselves to nurse new seedlings of hemlock, spruce, Douglas-fir and cedar. What a marvelous system of never ending life.
Walking this go toward the lighttrail and other coastal trails in the Olympic National Park is emotional, spiritual and physical therapy for me. I receive a renewal of spirit– a regeneration of sorts– for my soul here in the mist of the forest and the spray of the sea. The sifting of the sand and pebbles mirrors life experiences that sort and change me from one day to the next, never to be the same as before.
But enough of my self-reflection. Come to this glorious place– feel the forest and the sea. Fill your senses with the beauty of the natural systems at work and decide for yourself if the wave spray looks like porpoises, sea sprites or clinging mothers. Sit on the beach logs and watch the ocean. Share a walk with family, friend or self. If you plan on walking on the beaches, be sure to check the tides as high tide may narrow and shorten your beach walks. Low tide, however, extends an invitation to miles-long lengths of sand or pebble beach broken by small streams running from the forest to the sea and interrupted by rocky formations, remnants of headlands and stacks that lost their battle to the beating waves. Explore the rocks. Hidden in sand-worn pockets and pools are living treasures. Bright-colored starfish cling to the undersides of the rocks. Mollusks come alive as a wave washes over and the creature spreads its fanlike appendage to net passing nutrients. Hermit crabs do their scoot-stop dance through the pools, eyes ever watching and claws ready to snap!

There is something in this wonderland of life for nearly everyone. Simply driving along highway 101 to get to the western Olympic coast is a treat. The road carves a deep gap in the magnificent northwest forest as it climbs over hills and drops into valleys. The walls of trees break occasionally and you catch a glimpse of either ocean framed by cliffs and punctuated by stacks or mountains, often with either frosting-like snow caps or clouds like softly whipped cream snuggling gently ‘round. Whichever view one catches is breathtaking indeed.
From Port Angeles on the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Cape Flattery, the northwestern tip of the peninsula and south to Long Beach, the options available for an overnight stay range from resort lodge to bed and breakfast or even simple cabins. Towns with intriguing names such as Humptulips, Forks, or Hoquiam offer a variety of eating alternatives. Local seafood delights are on the menu if you prefer leisurely restaurant dining, burgers and fries are available at the local fast food establishments, or you can select and prepare your own beach peeking and fallingpicnic at a grocery store. Enjoy the variety of activities available: hike to mountain vistas at Hurricane Ridge and Storm King, follow forest trails to hidden waterfall wonders at Sol Duc and Marymere, reflect in mirror-like lakes such as Crescent, Quinalt, and Ozette, explore beaches from Shi Shi to South Beach, soak in hot springs at Sol Duc, wander rainforest trails along the Hoh, Elwha and Quinalt rivers, visit tribal centers and museums to see exhibits and hear lore and history on the Makah, Quileute, Hoh and Quinalt Indian Reservations.

One trip may not be enough. Perhaps you will decide that you must return again to this mix of ancient and present to wander the ageless forests and endless beaches. Whether or not you return, the images, sounds and smells will have forever seeped into the memories from which you can draw whenever you have need of solitude, reflection and peace.


…the place you have left forever is always there for you to see whenever you shut your eyes.
Jan Myrdal


Newly retired Sandra Day O’Connor voiced what many of us have been thinking recently — the actions of the Bush administration and our weak-kneed buddies in Congress are moving in the direction of yes, she actually said this word, “dictatorship.” Referring to the rhetorical attacks on an independent judiciary by such ethically-challenged congressmen as Tom DeLay and John Cornyn, she laid it out but was anyone listening? Not in any major media outlets. Slate’s Jack Shafer refers to the bloggers as”setting themselves on fire” over the speech but notes the absence of any coverage by the mainstream media. Nina Tottenberg covered the speech for NPR and that’s all we get.