Last Great Hate

The don’t ask, don’t tell in the military has reared its ugly head again. I call this the last great hate. Used to be whites hated minorities because they looked/talked/ate/acted different from them. Then, guys like Michael Jordan, Willie Stargell, Richard Pryor, Tiger Woods, all the great Latino baseball players, etc. came along. 24 hour television also brought the races and cultures closer together, and so even though there still seems to be a strong undercurrent of racism seen in the venom spewed at President O’bama, all races seem to be able to unite under the last great hate: homosexuality. Right wing, independent, and religious zealtots who want the government out of their lives, do want the government in their bedrooms. Or at least their neighbor’s bedroom. They’ve decided we can agree we can join hands with other races and cultures and unite to hate gay people whereever they may be. I might beat my kids and evade taxes and cheat on my
wife, but at least I’m not gay.

Gotta Stop Health Care
So I looked at what was passed for the health care bill, and scratch my head at all the venom and hate directed towards it, the Democrats and the President. “Government forcing me to buy a policy?” Where’s all the uproar for repeal of government laws requiring auto insurance if you drive? Never hear a peep about that. What about government required FDIC insurance for bank accounts? Or government required unemployment insurance premiums?

Why would people who are insured NOT want everyone to be insured? Do they think we aren’t already paying for those who are not insured? Of course we are. Hospitals aren’t going to turn away someone for lack of means to pay. They make up for it by charging more to us who can. I’ve seen nowhere that premiums for most of the uninsured will be free – only that they may be subsidized. These folks will not be getting free health care LIKE THEY ARE NOW!! However, I do believe it remains to be seen if the system will work from the get go. I understand that premiums will be based on age, so those much older may have much higher premiums, and I’ll wait to see if that part works out or has to be changed. I also have to see if I’m missing other things. What I hear from our Republicans is the bill is “too expensive” or “too much government interference” – one of which, at least, also voted for the Patriot Act when he wasn’t lobbying for new roads in
Florida. Our Democratic Senator only said the bill is needed to address the health care issues. Neither side gives much detail for or against the bill, just broad maxims.

I don’t ever remember this kind of venom from the right during the Clinton years, and think it has more to do with having a young, black president than it does with policy issues. Sarah Palin’s rise to popularity through name calling, with little in the way of specifics of contention in the bills, seems to exemplify the intellect of her followers. And the Texas politician who yelled “baby killer” in Congress, yet was a big backer of the war in Iraq and didn’t have a problem killing tens of thousands of innocent babies and women and children in carpet bombing in Iraq.

And how many people against health care have a clue about how much we’ve spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan war. Isn’t this, according to them, for our national security so there is no price too high to pay? To me, this amounts to “National Health Care”, since I assume they equate security with not being killed ourselves.

Student Aid
It never fails to amaze me how politicians can screw things up. In such a landmark bill like the health care bill, why would the Democrats put in a rider? Now this part of the bill is providing more political hay because it’s causing the corrective bill to have to go back to the House with changes, all because there’s a problem with the student aid rider. This rider practice is always screamed about by both sides but always used by both sides, as money always talks louder than words.

Clinton sorry again.
I rarely hear Dems say much bad about Clinton, but here he is again apologizing for something that clearly was a mistake at the time. I read in the paper today he said his policy of dropping tariffs to countries like Haiti so his Arkansas farmer’s rice could go there more cheaply was a mistake. Seems Haitian farmers quit growing rice, and now the country can’t come close to feeding itself. This has been America’s broken policy not just in Haiti, but places like Sierra Leone, too – begun long before Clinton, and known long before Clinton to be detrimental to developing country food independence and local farmer well-being. Bring in US imports of cheaper rice – many times right at the same time the local rice is coming to harvest – and drive down the price of rice so the farmers are discouraged from growing more for sale. In Salone, they could turn to other cash crops like coffee and cocoa, which aren’t going to do much for them nutritionally.
Clinton has also apologized for not doing anything in the massacre in Burundi in Africa – even after all intelligence told he and Madaline Albright that the shit was about to hit the fan. Tens of thousands died by machete, and all they could do was go back decades later, lay a wreath, and say “whoopsi!”. I’m still reaching for what he or his wife did do well, or why I would trust him now in Haiti. It’s not unlike Al Gore, who was all against signing on to the Geneva Summit on reducing carbon emissions when he was vice president, yet after he was done suddenly finds God in global warming.

ANWR and Caribou

A friend asked the other day about oil development in ANWR. I told him my opinions on both sides of the issue, including how the Porcupine Herd is different than the smaller herds that occupy Prudhoe Bay and western Alaska. Unlike these increasing herds, the Porcupine herd is much larger – over 100,000 animals – and has been declining for unknown reasons in recent years. I’ve not checked recent numbers, so perhaps the population has stabilized. I do remember it had dropped from 150,000 to 125,000 or less animals. This herd uses eastern Alaska and Western Canada for it’s range. The part it uses in Alaska in ANWR is a place where the mountains bow northward, on a plain about 50 miles from the ocean to the mountains. I realized yesterday as I was on my rounds that what I was looking at WAS that bow. I’d always thought the mountains looked closer here than in Prudhoe Bay, and realized I was located right on the western boundary of ANWR, and so was
looking at the very topography I had only looked at on topographic maps before. From where I sat in my truck to the base of the mountains seemed even closer when I thought about a herd of 100,000 or more animals using that plain to calve. It certainly would be a sight, perhaps not unlike the buffalo in the west before they were killed off. Anyway, it gave me pause for thought as to what, if any, impact oil development might have there – maybe a pipeline from a drilling pad and nothing else might not bother the herd, or would it? It surely seems that directional drilling, where the actual drilling and oil extraction would be done outside the refuge with a pipe drilled down, and then sideways under the refuge, would be much less of an impact, yet defenders of the refuge were staunchly against this, too, last time I heard.

It’s March 26 today, with blowing snow and a temperature slightly below zero – it was -7 when we checked at 515 am this morning. Visibility is down to being measured in yards, so no travel is allowed unless you’re part of a 2 or more vehicle convoy, and I’m sitting tight in my truck in the camp parking lot and monitoring my radio in case anyone needs me. Seems like winter is hanging on longer than I’d guess it would, as the temperature has only been above zero once, I think, over the past 12 days I’ve been here. But many days have been sun and more sun and just beautiful weather looking out over the coastal plain to the Brooks Range. I’ve seen an arctic fox and a few ravens this hitch, but that’s it for animal sightings.

Mark Stopha
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801

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