Monday, March 28, 2011

the threat of original sin unleashed and the anarchy it would supposedly breed.

Recommended reading of a perspective that discusses purpose behind what otherwise seems like mindless and irrational theocratic talking points.

Original Spin: Progressives Dismiss Conservative Theology at Their Peril

Since that turbulent decade, conservatives have been mounting a desperate counterattack against the trust in desire, using an endless series of political issues to wage their fight: communism, multiculturalism, drugs, abortion, school prayer, terrorism, gay marriage (the list goes on and on)—and “big government.” Each symbolizes, in its own way, the threat of original sin unleashed and the anarchy it would supposedly breed.
From this perspective it’s not at all outlandish to see theological meaning in the conservative drive for slashing government spending for human services. It’s perfectly reasonable if we accept some version (no matter how secularized) of the concept of original sin. That concept makes it just as reasonable to spend endlessly on “national security,” to protect us from the evil machinations of sinners abroad. Here at home though, everyone must be left free to make their own choices and face the consequences.
This is only one theological argument for cutting domestic government spending. There are surely others, but all lead back to the premise of original sin.
Whether we, the people of the United States, should accept that ancient doctrine as a foundation of our collective political life is the great question of our time. Unfortunately, it remains virtually undebated in public political discourse because its central role remains largely invisible.
If Jim DeMint and all conservative politicians were forced to come out of the theological closet and talk about original sin directly, then we might see what a truly fruitful political debate looks like.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Create a Good Disaster Emergency Kit One Step at a Time

Preparedness Calendar from Thurston County 

This calendar is intended as a tool to help you take appropriate preparedness actions and create a 3-7 day disaster supply kit for your household before the next emergency happens.  Using the calendar, your family can assemble an emergency kit in small steps over a six month period.  Check off each of the items you collect or the actions you take

Week 1
r        1 gallon water*
r        1 large can juice*
r        1 can meat*
r        1 hand-operated can opener
r        Permanent marking pen

Additional: pet food, diapers, baby food.

Action Steps:
r        Date perishable items with marker
r        Decide upon & notify out-of-area contact who can coordinate information for scattered family members.


Week 2
r        Heavy cotton or hemp rope
r        Duct tape
r        2 flashlights with batteries
r        Matches in waterproof container for outside use ONLY with appropriate camp stove or BBQ

Additional: leash or carrier for your pet, extra set of I.D. tags

Action Steps:
r        Sign up for First Aid/CPR class


Week 3
r        1 gallon water*
r        1 can meat*
r        1 can fruit*
r        Feminine hygiene supplies
r        Paper & pen
r        Local map
r        Pain reliever
r        Laxative

Additional: 1 gallon water for each pet

Action Steps:
r        Find out about what kinds of disasters can happen in your area.
r        Encourage neighbors to develop their own plans.


Week 4
r        6-way laser flashing safety light
r        Compass

Additional: Medicines/prescriptions marked “for emergency use”, contact-lens supplies

Action Steps:
r        Develop a family disaster plan including where to meet if separated, name and number of out-of-area contact, kinds of information to give that contact in an emergency. 


Week 5
r        1 gallon water*
r        1 can fruit*
r        1 can vegetables*
r        1 can meat*
r        2 rolls toilet paper*
r        Extra toothbrush
r        Travel-size tooth paste

Additional: Special foods for special dietary needs

Action Steps:
r        Identify escape routes from house for all family members
r        Identify safe places to go in case of local disasters
r        Practice a drill for each of your plans


Week 6
r        First Aid Kit which includes sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes, adhesive tape, gauze pads, sterile roller bandages, latex gloves
r        Safety pins
r        Sunscreen

Action Steps:
r        Identify storage area for your supplies such as closet along an inside wall, or watertight plastic garbage cans that can be stored outside.  If using outside storage, ensure container is also animal proof.


Week 7
r        1 can ready-to-eat soup (not concentrated)*
r        1 can fruit*
r        1 can vegetables*
r        Sewing kit
r        Disinfectant

Additional: Extra baby supplies (bottles, formula, diapers)

Action Steps:
r        Place a pair of sturdy shoes, flashlight, whistle and work gloves in a plastic grocery bag and tie the bag to your bed frame.


Week 8
r        Scissors
r        Tweezers
r        Thermometer
r        Liquid hand soap
r        Disposable hand wipes
r        Petroleum jelly
r        2 tongue blades

Additional: Put extra eyeglasses in First Aid Kit


Week 9
r        1 can ready-to-eat soup (not concentrated)*
r        Liquid dish soap
r        Household chlorine bleach with medicine dropper for water treatment
r        1 box heavy duty garbage bags with ties
r        Antacid

Action Steps:
r        Test smoke detector and replace batteries


Week 10
r        Waterproof portable container for important papers
r        Battery powered or wind up radio
r        Wrench to turn off utilities

Action Steps:
r        Make sure that everyone in the house knows where to find gas and water meter shut-off valves and how to turn them off.
r        Attach a wrench near each shutoff valve so it is there when needed.


Week 11
r        1 large can juice*
r        Large plastic food bags
r        1 box high-energy snacks
r        3 rolls paper towels

Additional: Keep extra battery for cell phone or change for pay phone usage.

Action Steps:
r        Locate pay phones closest to your home.


Week 12
r        Litter and box
r        Extra water

Additional: Make sure all pet vaccinations are current and obtain medical records from veterinarian for disaster records kit.  Keep emergency supply of any special pet medication needs. 

Action Steps:
r        Photocopy important papers and store safely.


Week 13
Action Steps:
r        Add to emergency supplies a change of clothing and pair of shoes for each person in the family.
r        Put together a selection of favorite and most used spices- salt, pepper, sugar- in small packets.
r        Put aside utensils, cup, plate, and bowl for each person.
r        Check to be sure all perishables have been dated.


Week 14
r        Whistle
r        Extra batteries for flashlights and radio
r        Pry bar

Action Steps:
r        Check with your children’s day care center or school about disaster plans and contacts


Week 15
r        Pliers
r        Screwdriver
r        Hammer
r        Strapping and fasteners for water heater, bookcases and computer

Action Steps:
r        Secure water heater, bookcases, computer and other heavy items that could fall in an earthquake


Week 16
r        1 can fruit*
r        1 can meat*
r        1 can vegetables*

Action Steps:
r        Develop a disaster supply kit for your vehicles.
r        Find out if you have a neighborhood safety group and become involved. 


Week 17
r        “Child-proof” latches or fasteners for cupboards
r        Quakehold museum putty to secure moveable items on shelves

Action Steps:
r        Secure doors and moveable items


Week 18
r        1 box graham crackers
r        Assorted plastic containers with lids.
r        Dry cereal

Additional:  Special equipment such as hearing aid batteries

Action Steps:
r        Arrange for someone to help your children if you are unavailable or at work


Week 19
r        Rubbing alcohol
r        Antidiarrheal medication
r        Antiseptic

Action Steps:
r        Secure sleeping bag or blanket for each family member


Week 20
r        1 can meat*
r        1 can vegetables*
r        1 box facial tissues
r        1 box quick energy snacks
r        Dried fruits/nuts

Action Steps:
r        Assemble an activity box of cards, games, toys


Week 21
r        Plastic bucket with tight lid for toileting needs
r        Plastic sheeting

Additional: Denture care supplies

Action Steps:
r        Review insurance coverage with your agent to be sure your are covered for whatever events are possible in your area


Week 22
r        1 box quick energy snacks
r        Comfort foods (candy bars, cookies, etc.)
r        Plastic wrap
r        Aluminum foil

Action Steps:
r        Purchase and install emergency escape ladder for upper floors.


Week 23
r        Camping or utility knife
r        Work gloves
r        Safety goggles
r        Disposable dust mask*

Action Steps:
r        Photograph or videotape the contents of your home and send to an out of town friend to store

Week 24
Action Steps:
r        Begin rotating water and food stores, replacing those purchased in week one. 
r        Check that storage area is safe and dry.
r        Continue rotation each month so that fresh stores are always on hand.

Note:  You should store 1-2 gallons of water per person for each day.  This water is for consumption and sanitation.  For this reason the calendar repeats the need to purchase water several times.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pacific County to sacrifice for the higher good?


Note: I write this as a tax-paying citizen with the right of freedom of speech to express my opinions. My opinions are my own and do not reflect in any way any kind of official policy or position of the Department of Social and Health Services.

Locally we’ve been advised by the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) of an intent to close down the local office in South Bend as soon as possible.

Apparently DSHS managers believe that the higher budgetary good will be served by tossing the residents of North Pacific County under the bus.

The savings?

Well, rent on the office space will decrease a little bit which might take a huge $10,000 bite out of a statewide 6 billion dollar budget deficit.

Utility bills at the space might create a savings of ... oh … say another $4-5000

I wonder that perhaps the objective is not real budget savings, but more a PR attempt on the part of DSHS to make it appear they are seriously trying to help a spending problem by eliminating “eliminatable” expenses that won’t generate much backlash.


Like hell this one won’t.

We who work at DSHS are not at risk of losing our jobs … as I understand it we would be allowed to commute to Aberdeen or Long Beach and work there. There will be no savings by reducing wages for the affected workers.

Also, I am about to retire and I don’t like the idea of the limited access to state resources for me and my neighbors.

This is not about saving anybody’s state job. For me it’s all about the state deliberately stranding an entire community in a circumstance of undeserved lack of the same convenient access to necessary public services that exists statewide.

I’ll paint this picture for you as to what happens when bureaucrats crunch numbers and decide that small and rural communities are more expendable and with apparently less negative public outcry than what might happen in urban areas where more voters reside.

In Pacific County with seriously declined timber and fishing industries, unemployment remains among the highest in the state.

In Pacific County, living expenses are lower which is sort of nice but which also invites with consistent regularity low-income families and retiree’s – particularly those on fixed incomes – to move here ... because they can afford to live here.

A perennially poor economy coupled with a large number of low-to- moderate level fixed income households has always meant a much greater percentage of customers in need of medical, food and cash assistance coming through the doors.

The DSHS office is within walking distance from South Bend and for those younger and more vigorous types able to walk further, Raymond is not too far away for a hike to see us. Regardless, that office is essentially within 15 highway miles of more than 80% of our community.

Although DSHS has attempted a mighty transition to a telephone and online interactive relationship with citizens (agency managers praise the new “Service Delivery” program with its technology-driven touch screens in the lobbies and a telephone call center presence for the convenience of calling from home), the truth is that statewide and especially in rural areas, only the younger set is able to consistently succeed with 21st century communication techniques.

All the CSO’s are getting walk-in clients: the elderly, the handicapped, those deemed eligible for the remaining cash assistance and who cannot afford telephones, private transportation and who are not easily persuaded to dive into intimidating internet waters.

In Pacific County, those walk-in clients will be the principal casualties of a highly questionable decision to save money on a small scale while what appears to be a bureaucratic desire to appease of a politically reactionary legislature and urban public audience of whom the agency seems to have greater fear.

In Pacific County, the buses do not run half-hourly, or hourly. If locals will be required to travel to Aberdeen or Long Beach to access DSHS services, public transportation won’t work well.

You can ride a bus to Aberdeen in the morning and successfully return in the evening because buses in Aberdeen returning to Pacific County won’t be available - even if your DSHS business only requires an hour. You cannot get the door-to-door service of urban bus systems that function every 30-60 minutes throughout the day.

If you are wheel-chair bound or fixed-income limited and even drive a 40-mile-per-gallon efficiency vehicle, you will need to spend the dollars out of that budget to finance a round-trip to Aberdeen or Long Beach at the current fuel price of close to $4 per gallon …

Try that on severely limited fixed income.

The truth of the matter is that the decision to throw Pacific County under the bus is the least viable alternative.

With just a single example – the 70-mile round trip effort to access DSHS services in a nearby city – consider this:

Tacoma is not 35 miles across. There are 3 offices in Tacoma, all on the city bus lines and to which most citizens can easily access transportation every 30-60 minutes.

Puyallup is not 35 miles from Tacoma, again within a more reasonable travel distance than that between North Pacific County and Aberdeen or Long Beach.

That same circumstance describes the multiple office locations in King and Spokane counties.

Would it not have made more sense to close an urban office where sister offices can more easily take up the slack than ask the poor and elderly in our county to “take one for the team?”

If ever an electorate needed to shake up the politicians and get the attention of those who have the ability to resolve this silliness before it’s too late …

Now is the time …

Citizens, put down your clickers, let go of your keyboards, get off the couch and close up the munchies bag, pick up your phone or write out a letter …

… ask your leadership what they are doing about things … and why.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Corporate welfare is not free-market capitalism. Those who take money to harm the country are not wise … nor smart.

The bill will die in the Senate but Republicans are putting themselves on record as so far into the pockets of business that any straight-faced attempt to portray themselves as genuine responsible political statesmen is in reality nigh on impossible.
What is happening here is nothing less than the ultimate white-collar crime and has very little to do with patriotism, constitutionalism, or pursuit of the common good. These individuals, having accepted money from corporate welfare lobbyists, have made of themselves high priests of greed…. nothing  more … nothing less.
Who are these heroes in their greasy and stained white hats riding filthy steeds who pass the foulest of gases as they trot along?
Only the polluters are drooling over gutting the EPA regulations that at least partially help preserve our lungs, our hearts and the lives of our children.
Their minds are made up. Do not try to confuse them with facts. These are not smart people.
This morning, top representatives of the scientific community tried in vain to reach fossil-fueled Republicans with the facts about the threat of global warming. In a hearing convened by the energy committee’s subcommittee on energy and power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), climate scientists clearly explained how years of research involving thousands of scientists in dozens of fields of expertise have come to the ineluctable conclusion that fossil-fuel pollution is threatening humanity.
… The response from the majority party was an embarrassment to the institution of Congress and to the American people.
When Rep. Markey suggested directly to them that they were fools, these corporate welfare hatchet men apparently felt that such talk was too complicated for them.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to a bill that overturns the scientific finding that pollution is harming our people and our planet.
However, I won’t physically rise, because I’m worried that Republicans will overturn the law of gravity, sending us floating about the room.
I won’t call for the sunlight of additional hearings, for fear that Republicans might excommunicate the finding that the Earth revolves around the sun.
Instead, I’ll embody Newton’s third law of motion and be an equal and opposing force against this attack on science and on laws that will reduce America’s importation of foreign oil.
This bill will live in the House while simultaneously being dead in the Senate. It will be a legislative Schrodinger’s cat killed by the quantum mechanics of the legislative process!
Arbitrary rejection of scientific fact will not cause us to rise from our seats today. But with this bill, pollution levels will rise. Oil imports will rise. Temperatures will rise.
And with that, I yield back the balance of my time. That is, unless a rejection of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is somewhere in the chair’s amendment pile.
After Markey’s remarks, the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), approved the science prevention bill by a voice vote.
 Yes to all you pretend wise conservative patriots whose blathering worship of the constitution does not include any sort of checks and balance between the smarts and the dumbs, this is a partisan post … partisan in support of the people.
We need more of them thinking about what is said and done by politicians dumber than those who voted.

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