Oil Tech

I read with interest, "A Farmer's Call," by Helen Waller [4/1/06 TPP]. While I am sympathetic with Ms. Waller's concerns, I must take exception to her analogy between the Stone Age not running out of stones and our present predicament -- an analogy which might make our leaders complacent about attacking our problems -- with even the anemic vigor they presently employ.

Fritjof Capra [the physicist and systems theorist whose 1975 classic The Tao of Physics explored the parallels between Eastern spirituality and Western science] employed the same words, to the same effect, in his dissertation in the Utne Reader, some months ago. The meaning of the Stone Age is that in that era men fashioned their tools and toys from stone. If we were to carry it forward through the Bronze and Iron ages to today, we might now be in the Alloy Age, the Plastic Age, or the Silicon Age? There might be some parallel ages established according to energy usage, but it would be unnecessarily complicated, I think.

There are several sources of energy: gravity, tides, wind, hydro, combustion, nuclear reactions, sunlight, muscle power, geothermal, elasticity, and expansion due to heat, cold, growth or expansion due to inhibition of moisture. Since the beginnings of the human race, we have utilized all these sources of energy as our technical abilities allowed. I will grudgingly admit that it has been only recently that we have been able to start, and to some minor extent control, nuclear reactions. There may be others I have overlooked in my haste, and I can not rule out that others may be discovered. From the literature I gather that not even one new promising source is on the horizon.

All these sources hold some promise, but it is a little beyond my interests to go into each and every one here. Suffice it to say that the best minds have been at work on the problem and they have come up with nothing that impresses me, or in combination with any or all others, with its ability to satisfy forever our present energy need, let alone our growing need. Take the hydrogen fuel cell as an example. It may soon be practical to convert one "cheap" "plentiful" source of energy to a more flexible source of energy. What is seldom noted is that it takes more energy to produce hydrogen than can be extracted from hydrogen. This is a kind of law in the energy field.

No, we are not going to run out of petroleum. Using present technology we can't recover more than half of what is in the ground. It will get scarcer and more expensive. At some point it will become uneconomical to use it for certain low priorities like heating the homes of the poor. This is the pivotal moment where Fritjof Capra's and Helen Wailer's hero, Superior Technologies, makes his entrance from stage right ...

Benjamin A. Greaves
Seaside, 0re.


Game Goes On

The title of Molly Ivins's article "So Far No Good" [4/15/06 TPP] "says it all" about Bush's meaningless war on Iraq. In keeping with his "keep 'em scared" rhetoric Bush now says that if we fail to defeat the terrorists in Iraq our security will be at risk. Does he mean our own physical security in mainland USA? Wow! In that case he better adopt the techniques used by Genghis Khan in the 12th-century. Genghis Khan made sure that whichever towns and settlements he attacked, they were left immobile by capturing or killing all the horses they possessed. This was to diminish the chance of being counter attacked from them. Bush should also ensure the enemy in Iraq (terrorists!) are not left with any weapons to counter attack us. He should destroy all the ICBM capable of carrying nuclear bombs -- all the submarines and aircraft carriers, chemical and biological weapons and any other weapons that could threaten our security. Nothing should be left out -- and, yes, it includes "boxcutters" also. By the time "this danger on our mainland" reason is deconstructed by military experts the administration will cook up yet a another reason to "stay the course" -- the game must go on -- the death and destruction must go on.

G.M. Chandu
Flushing, N.Y.


Mass Murder

Zachariah Moussaoui became eligible for the death penalty in federal court in Alexandria, Va., because he lied to the FBI, thus causing the death of at least one American citizen. George W. Bush has lied to the American people about his invasion of Iraq from the very beginning and is responsible for the deaths of 2,300 American servicemen and women, nearly as many as were killed on 9/11, and countless numbers of Iraqi citizens. Why is George W. Bush, not in court for perjury, treason and murder?

David Tierney
Lowell, Mass.



Has anyone actually seen a weapon of mass destruction in the Mideast? Conflicts between religious factions have been going on over there for 3,000 years. If they really had said weapons, don't you think that they would have used them on each other by now? The scariest part of this whole deal is that I think our commander-in-chief has lied about their existence so long that even he's convinced himself that they're real.

I just hope that the President doesn't try to divert attention with some other kind of "campaign." We're all going to be in trouble if this guy decides to visit the automakers in Detroit or a large corn producer in the Midwest. Bush might decide to declare war on these states because he's seen "weapons of mass production."

How about Bush's domestic spying? Wasn't there another Republican in the White House who got himself in a whole lotta trouble for wiretapping? At least his secretary erased some of the evidence. Then there's still the Republican senator from Wisconsin who claimed he was on a crusade to save the country from Communism.

Do you see a pattern here?

Tom Hohman
Hillside, Ill.


Mayors Climate Pact

There is a little thing called the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. In Iowa, Des Moines is the only city involved. Today is a sad day to claim being an Iowan.

Anthony J. Gerst
Wapello, Iowa

Editor's Note: The US Conference of Mayors voted unanimously in June 2005 to support the Climate Protection Agreement sponsored by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. The agreement mirrors the Kyoto Protocol's goal of reducing emissions 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. As of April 7, 224 mayors representing 43.9 million Americans have accepted the challenge. Des Moines is the only Iowa city that has signed on, but there are several states with no cities participating. Get busy with your local city council. Get information at www.seattle.gov/mayor/climate/


Short Budget

While I wholly agree with Joe Conason's lead article in the 4/15/06 TPP ["Billions for Folly, Pennies for Survival"], I'd also like to add something. Bush's occupation of Iraq is not only short-sheeting health care, it's doing the same to the people of New Orleans. They (the Feds) can't come up with enough money to build levees that can withstand a Level 5 hurricane but they sure can shovel it into the unnecessary, increasingly unpopular occupation of Iraq.

Where the hell are this administration's priorities?

Chuck Eikel
Madison, Wis.


Need Honest Vote Counters

To impeach this most deserving and dangerous president you need Congress, as David Corn reminds us ["Impeachable Strategy," 4/15/06 TPP]. But Corn stops one step short. To get Congress you need an honest election (or two) -- that is, an election without one side's secret computers counting the vote.

All other hard and statistical evidence aside, does no one else find it curious that the right has done nothing but win critical elections, often against expectations, since the Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia, and Hart-Intercivic DREs, Op-Scans, and central tabulators took over the counting? Before we indulge in any sugar-plum visions of our progressive agenda, whether impeachment or policy, we might consider that the one constant here is that the radical right -- which has gone to an awful lot of lying, cheating, and stealing trouble to seize power -- has no intention of yielding it back. The only question is how they hold onto it, not whether. And as far as that goes: Rigged elections? No problem.

This is evidently just too much for democracy-is-a-given Americans, even sickened progressives, to wrap themselves around, in spite of mounting piles of evidence.

Jonathan Simon
Arlington, Mass.



My apologies to Becky Morgan, of Hamilton, Texas, who didn't like my recommendation for Bush to go back to Crawford. She's quite right: It was decidedly in the category of "Easy for you to say!" and I wouldn't want him in my neighborhood either.

It is for that reason that I cherish the memory of the citizen, public spirited beyond the call of duty, whom I saw on the Mall at the big peace rally in Washington in January of 2003. He was carrying a flattened cardboard carton on which he had written with a marker, "Came all the way from Texas to take him back." What a patriot!

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam
Baltimore, Md.


Give Us Ammo

Please, someone, give us the ammunition we need to fight our bought-and-paid-for Congress!

We need a website that has a complete, comprehensive list of every bill written or amended, every vote cast and every action taken by our congress-people and, opposite it, every donation made by lobbyists, NGO's, 501(c)3's, whatever, and who they represent, what the lobbyist's goal is, and a brief summary of how that bill, amendment or action affects our people, our environment and our democracy, both good and bad.

A website that you can go to and type in any public representative's name and get a list of every vote cast, who it helps (and who it hurts), and who paid for it and what amount they paid. Sure, everyone who is even a little bit aware knows that laws like the Medicare prescription drug bill pass because drug companies and insurance companies make large donations to many politicians, but no one seems to really pin it down. This information is surely available out there somewhere &endash;- someone needs to get it, compile and collate it and present it to the public in an easily readable, understandable and accessible format. Then, when we attend a "town hall" meeting or write a letter to the editor or a letter to our congressman, we can have the ammunition needed to state the facts behind their sell-out. Not just the appearance of wrongdoing ("access"), but the facts ("bribes)", in black and white.

This is the kind of information that it will take to force the American public to realize that almost all of our representatives, Democrat or Republican, senator or congressman, state level or federal, have been largely corrupted by the "legalized bribery" that we in this country call "campaign finance." It isn't access, IT IS BRIBERY! Give us the ammunition to expose it and fight it. Sunshine is the only answer.

Steve Larkin
Big Water, Utah

Editor's Note: The closest thing we have is www.opensecrets.org, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan, non-profit research group in Washington, D.C., that tracks money in politics and its effect on elections and public policy.



When I was a young, there always was one boy who would egg on a fight, but when it became bloody, he would sneak away and let someone else break it up.

President George W. Bush just played out the part of that instigator of my youth. Mr. Bush started the war in Iraq but he just told the American people that he would not be the one to finish it. Instead, he would leave it up to his successor to stop it.

That is not what one would expect from the leader of the greatest nation on earth.

Percy Pascoe
Cuba, Mo.


Democratic Solutions

I find The Progressive Populist always stimulating, and read it avidly. However, I would like to read more Democratic proposals for fixing what is so obviously out of whack. And that includes everything. I want a visionary such as I think [Sen. Russ] Feingold is, to lay out a program for such things as reducing our unsustainably national debt, for equalizing the tax system so that the very wealthy pay a fair share, for leveling the playing field in the globalization age, for developing a health care system that includes everyone, for raising the minimum wage, for facing up to global warming, for improving our public schools -- in all areas, but particularly math and science, for converting the US from being a consumer nation to once again being a producing nation, for getting us out of that mindless mess in Iraq, for introducing once again the right of Americans to criticize our leaders. (I just read of a VA nurse in New Mexico who is being charged with sedition because of a critical letter to a local paper.) This is a bare beginning.

We know what is wrong, and we must show that we know what needs to be done.

Burt Newbry
Mesa, Ariz.

From The Progressive Populist, May 1, 2006

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