Even one of my colleagues here at the Watch wrote a column critical of the County’s decision to pursue local hearings on impeachment, accusing me (somewhat incomprehensibly) of “flip-flopping” because I seemed to care about the world but the title of my recent book of poetry is As If the World Really Mattered (an ironic title underscoring how different this society would be if we really cared about the world, which I do, deeply, which obviously is why I’m involved in politics) … Nevertheless, stirring up the controversy pot over impeachment may seem to some like useless meddling in affairs far beyond our jurisdiction. And in some sense that’s a fair criticism, if you hold the narrow view of what it means to be an American citizen. But, last I checked, this is still a democratic nation, and it’s the people who make the final call on the direction of its government. Along with the right to vote goes the responsibility to speak out, and let our elected representatives know what we think, what we believe, what we want to see happen, or not happen … So, as a Green, I see speaking out at the local level as the responsibility of American citizens, not just an option, or a luxury. We need to let people in D.C. know what folks in Telluride and San Miguel County think … And in spite of the wimpiness of the Democratic leadership in Congress, impeachment is on the table. Rep. Dennis Kucinich has introduced House Resolution 333 calling for the impeachment of Cheney. Although mainstream Republicrats are afraid of it, some 24 House members have signed on as co-sponsors … But what really got me going was the National Lawyers Guild, which as an organization has called unanimously for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, and drawn up articles cataloguing their attacks on Constitutional civil liberties and international law. NLG specifically calls on local governments to join in this action … And what further has me concerned is this administration’s beating the war drums for an unprovoked attack on Iran. After lying the nation into war in Iraq, I will not stand by and see us led into another disastrous foreign intervention that will kill more innocent citizens as well as soldiers on both sides and bankrupt our treasury in the process. For me, the calls for impeachment are a counter-balance to the jingoist warmongering at work in the White House. If this president tries to take us into another war (which only Congress is authorized under the Constitution to declare), then I want to absolutely seek impeachment against him and his advisors … But that said, it isn’t my call alone on how the County responds to this call for impeachment. It’s the job of the people to consider and let the commissioners know where they stand and what they believe. And to that end, I think holding public hearings in both ends of the county is the right way to proceed. Let’s see what the people say.
JIM HIGHTOWER … While Bush’s approval rating is only 24 percent, Congress fares even worse with a mere 11 percent. So, what could the Dems do, with real leadership, since they have (nominal) control of both houses? … Jim Hightower has the answer: “There should be a barrage of investigative hearings, a proliferation of exposés on war profiteering, a surge of subpoenas, a hailstorm of contempt citations, a thousand specific cuts (none harming the troops) in Bush’s war budget, and unleashing of Congress’s ‘inherent contempt’ power – in other words, a strategic, unrelenting antiwar offensive of the legislative branch to march right in the face of BushCheney executive arrogance, reframe the debate, and rally the people.”
DEBTOR NATION … There is now an average of five active credit cards for every man, woman and child in the U.S. Of 145 million cardholders of record, 55 million pay off their accounts each month. The other 90 million make payments and pay high interest rates on their balances … Most of you are too young to remember a time when we only bought things we saved up for. And yet that day may come again … Particularly as gold prices continue to soar to their highest level in decades – a sure-fire indicator of looming financial chaos … If the nation were serious about curbing the excesses of the sub-prime lending fiasco, the leadership might employ the recommendations of Mortimer Zuckerman (U.S. News editorial, Nov. 12, 2007) … (1) Require loan originators to hold a percentage of mortgages, giving them a motive for greater diligence because they have a stake in the long-run performance of the loans, aligning their financial interests with those of the investors buying the securities based on those mortgages … (2) Have Federal Reserve act against the practices that exacerbated the mortgage meltdown, including excessive penalties for repayment, lack of escrow accounts, low-documentation lending, and inadequate borrower repayment standards … (3) Investment institutions must find a way to be more transparent in terms of their holdings. A system that disperses risk in such a way that nobody knows who has lost, or how much, is as random in its victims as musical chairs – and a menace to the credit system that lubricates the real economy.
WEEKLY QUOTA … "Despise riches, give alms to every one who asks." – Walt Whitman, from the preface to the first edition, Leaves of Grass (Thanks to George Sibley & Maryo Ewell.)
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY … It’s amazing the technological changes that keep interrupting the flow of our lives. From laptops to cell phones to iPods and beyond. Ubiquitous for most of us, and yet unknown a decade ago … In county government, when I first came on board, IT was hardly a part of the scene. Now, we have a two-person IT department – Jim Soukup and Sean Krentsa, as well as a GIS (Geographic Information System) wizard – Heather Widlund … Using the now indispensable Wikipedia (online open source encyclopedia), GIS is defined as “a system for capturing, storing, analyzing, and managing data and associated attributes which are spatially referenced to the Earth.” Heather is able to turn vast data banks of information into serviceable maps that facilitate all manner of government functions. Her role has become critical for planners, assessors and decision-makers, like myself … IT and GIS are not traditional county government functions, but these days they are essential elements, and their utility continues to grow … In 2008, Jim tells me that his office plans to make 1) County Assessor information available over the Internet, 2) perhaps full document searches from the County Clerk’s files (back to the beginning of the county in 1882), 3) enhanced searches with the county website, and 4) online permit tracking and document management … Even for a small county like ours, these two new departments have become crucially important services for our citizens in the 21st century.
CUBA UNDER CASTRO … Fred on Everything is a wildly funny and brilliantly uncompromising talking web head with leather jacket, shades and a big cigar. If you support the embargo we’ve had on our island neighbor to the south (since 1959), read this column, http://fredoneverything.net/FOE_Frame_Column.htm … Here’s a sample, “While I was on the island the UN voted 184 to 4 to recommend that the United States end the embargo. In this vote America had the support of the following great powers: Israel, Palau, the Marshall Islands, and itself. Several Cubans spontaneously told me of the vote, smiling triumphantly. Intrigued, I made a point of bringing the vote up with people I ran into. They all knew of it – the governmental television made very sure of it – and grinned broadly over what they saw as a victory for Cuba over Bush” … But he’s no Fidelophile either, and calls baloney on a nation where the Internet is non-existent, the phone company’s nationalized, the press isn’t free, and there’s no uncensored access to anything but government slogans.
© 2008 Art Goodtimes
THE TALKING GOURD
-for Chuck Kroger
man of iron
wheelbarrowing pick-axed rock
up out of his basement
man of air spidering his way
up Shiprock’s slick face
man of few words but fast nails
with the truth that punctures
man of the mountains
bone lean kind man
a leader of men