Eleven bloggers from around the world agreed to write a short piece and post all the contributions on each of our blogs, around the theme “There is a Choice”, in defence of our environment and in consideration of the upcoming election. First up is Bob Whitson, who organized this compilation:

I‘m Bob Whitson from “Howling At A Waning Moon“. My blog tracks the Bush administration and what it is doing to our environment. There has never been a time in my life when working together was more important. One quote you will read in this post says it all, “We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”óMark Vonnegut.

For me the choice this November 2nd is as clear as the lakes in the Minnesota Boundary Waters; where 20 years ago my son and I did our coming of age trip. We still talk about that canoe trip as if it were last weekend. That’s what the wilderness can do; it can create a touchstone for your life.

I first learned about taking care of this earth from my dad. In the 1950ís, growing up in west Texas, my dad worked for the Texas Highway Department. He designed and built the highway system throughout that part of the world. To this day there is a long curve in an otherwise straight four lane lonesome highway that permits the highway to avoid a grove of rare trees and a small patch of wetland. There’s also a bridge in the curve that allows for the passage of wildlife. My dad did that, in 1950! Always having known about that curve in the highway [He was placing the environment first.] is enough for me–50 years lateróto see the clear choice we have this November 2nd. I can tell you without a moment’s hesitation that President Bush is not taking care of our environment.

Now, if you will, let me introduce just a few of the ideas you will find in this cooperative post:

From England, an American talks about how the “rest of the world is counting on you” this November 2nd.

One blogger is nervous and even talks about moving to Mexico, land of fresh, hot tortillas; town squares and mariachis” but that in the end she “won’t do that; the country needs changing.”

Another Blogger quotes an American folk song:

You’ve got to prime the pump. You must have faith and believe.
You’ve got to give of yourself ëfore you’re worthy to receive.
Drink all the water you can hold. Wash your face, cool your feet.
But leave the bottle full for others. Thank you kindly, Desert Pete.

One frustrated Blogger talks about the need for Robert Redford and Paul Newman to hold a press conference standing in the middle of the Brazos River (in Texas) while wearing haz-mat suits.

Another says with determination, “So for me, now is the time: Time to plumb our fundamental values; time to re-evaluate our lives, our time, our energies, and the money we spend doing the things we do; time to connect with others and to re-connect with those left by.”

From all the blogs there seems to be an underlying comment that “Our work does not end when Kerry is elected.”

There’s much much more in this post. Take your time and read it all and think of the others that will come after youóand leave the bottle full. Do what is in your heart this November 2nd.

From ::The Thought Offering::

“We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”óMark Vonnegut

Maybe you’re not all that impressed with either candidate. Maybe you are disdainful of a process that gives so little choice, where you must vote for the lesser of two evils ñ where a candidate with your values doesn’t stand a chance. Yes, maybe so.

But… I am an American citizen living in England. Once in a while I e-mail my grandfather in Phoenix an article about the U.S. from The Guardian newspaper over here. The last time I did, he wrote back and said, ëThey sure do spend a lot of time writing about the U.S.’ And I replied, ëGrandpa, the U.S. is the most powerful country in the world and the decisions made there affect the lives of everyone all over the world. People are always watching.í Yes, the whole world really is watching. It’s so clichÈ, just as it would be clichÈ for me to add that this clichÈ has never been more true than it is now. It’s not fair that the rest of the world doesn’t get to vote on who the next world leader will be. It’s not democratic at all, really. Which, I think, does place a large burden on the American people. There are an estimated 195 million eligible U.S. voters in the world ñ and over 6.3 billion people in the world. So when you place your vote in the ballot box, you are doing so on behalf of over 321 people. You are one of the lucky ones.

The rest of the world does see a difference between the two candidates and they do think Americans have the power to decide who becomes the next president. So a high voter turnout alone will send a strong message to the rest of the world ñ that we *do* care. We know what is at stake and we care. Hey: the rest of the world is counting on you.

From: nervousÖmarked by strength of thought, feeling, or style

As November 2, 2004 approaches, I am beset with anxiety. What if? What if? I can’t even bring myself to speak my fear.

What would I do were the unthinkable to happen? I’m torn. As Mark Morford in pointed out in a recent column, geologically speaking, this is a mere blip on the radar. I could do nothing and live in lala happyland and try to never pick up another newspaper, turn on the television or heaven forbid, read blogs about anything besides knitting. Xanax is another option.

Or I could move to Mexico, land of fresh, hot tortillas; town squares and mariachis. Or perhaps I will put on my best suit and join the Republican Party. I could live out every Jane Bond fantasy that I’ve ever had.

I won’t do any of those things.

The country needs changing, folks, regardless of the outcome of this election. We have choices about how we will go about doing that. My hope for the future is that after the election, people don’t throw down their hats, and say “Th-th-that’s all folks.” Let’s keep on with our agitating and advocating, and perhaps, just maybe, something wonderful will happen.

From: Will Kirkland at The Ruth Group

Why Am I Doing This?

A friend of mine asked me: Why are you doing this? — meaning blogging and all the hours spent, looking, writing and posting. He asked me if I would share the answer with others. I will.

The election or non election of John Kerry would not have been enough for me to have given over a major part of my waking hours to do this work. The motivator is much stronger.

When the bombs are falling it is too late to cry out No War! The time to stop a war has long gone. The time to stop Hitler was in 1932 when he was elected, or ë33 or ë34. By August 1939 it was too late.

The time to stop the massacre of over 7,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in the summer of 1975 may have been during Tito’s time, but certainly began two years before the massacres when the city was declared a safe haven.

The time to stop the Rwandan massacres of 1994 was when hate radio began filling the air with their cries of “cockroach” and “vermin” about their Tutsi neighbors.

So it is now for us. All the markers are in place; the future is predictable. Hate radio fills the air. Our public forums have turned to public spectacles. A small war in Iraq is preparing many, many for war, on many sides. The gun and scimitar is reached for before a word is heard. Fear is in the air and yes, the delicious thrill of sacrifice and killing.

The Republican Party, the party of isolationism, of fiscal probity, of order enough to pursue accumulation of wealth, has been taken over by the party of intolerance, of rock-bottom beliefs, of moral certainty, of Our God and Our Empire. [I didn’t make these phases up. You can hear them from appalled Republicans.]

We have been told and we have been shown what lies ahead for foreigner and citizen alike.

The Republican Party, defeated or not in the coming election, will continue its present course, like a terrible gathering river of mud, sweeping people into it, estroying those who oppose it. If the GOP presidential candidate is defeated on November 2 it will be harder for it to pick up speed. If he is victorious it will gather more force.

Now is the time for all of us who see these things. Now is the time when our twigs in the stream can alter the flow of the gathering river of mud, more than a stream but less than it seems in four years, or eight, it may be a mighty flow, with disaster its end.

Now is the time to block up, divide and divert this river of mud. The election of John Kerry would be a good& log, around which some will be able to gather. That victory deserves all our attention. Now. But win or lose, the river of mud will continue its downward course. So for me, now is the time: Time to plumb our fundamental values; time to re-evaluate our lives, our time, our energies, and the& money we spend doing the things we do; time to connect with others and to re-connect with those left by. We cannot defeat disaster. We can only turn it aside by working with the tools, the intelligence, the passion that we have. We can build a better way.

From: Dave Pollard at  How to Save the World

There’s an old American folk song called Desert Pete, written by Billy Edd Wheeler and made famous by the Kingston Trio in the early 1960s. The song tells the story of a thirsty traveller in the desert who comes upon a water pump with a note from “Desert Pete”, and a jar of water. The note warns that if the finder drinks the water instead of using it to prime the pump, the pump won’t work and from then on everyone who comes upon the pump will be left thirsty. The Chorus goes like this:

You’ve got to prime the pump. You must have faith and believe.
You’ve got to give of yourself ëfore you’re worthy to receive.
Drink all the water you can hold. Wash your face, cool your feet.
But leave the bottle full for others. Thank you kindly, Desert Pete.

This is the choice we face today, and how America votes on November 2nd will tell a lot about our character, and how we would have responded if we came upon Desert Pete’s note. George Bush is an advocate of privatizing, developing and commercializing our environment for all it’s worth, without care or consideration for the consequence or the legacy he is leaving for our children and grandchildren. As a result, we are running out of everything, including water: wilderness, biodiversity, old growth forests, wetlands, oil, stratospheric ozone, clean air and water and food, and thousands of species of animals and birds. George Bush’s answer is to drink from the bottle now. John Kerry has a strong record of environmental protection, and cares deeply about the natural legacy we will leave for future generations. John Kerry will leave the bottle full for others, for our children. When you vote, please think of your children, and remember Desert Pete’s note. You have a choice.

From:  MakesMeRalph

There is a choice and it is quite simple. It isn’t really about John Kerry. This election is a referendum on George Bush’s presidency. Economically, it is a disaster. From a foreign policy perspective, it is a disaster. From a civil liberties perspective, it is a disaster. Fewer jobs, more uninsured, higher tuition, more abortions, higher deficits, more dead children, less international respect, more maimed soldiers. The only measure by which this presidency can be judged a success is Halliburton’s stock value, which has more than doubled since September 11th. If you judge your vote on only one issue, let it be the success of this administration over the last four years.

From: John Orr at Coyote Gulch
A weblog for the dazed and confused

I’m asking all registered voters to vote this election. You have the choice to do so or not.

Quoting Donna Redwing:

“I know that most or all of you would not dream of not voting. However, I am sending this to you in the hopes that you might pass it along — particularly to young women who may not realize fully how difficult getting the right to vote was for our mothers and grandmothers.” I think we need the wisdom you can bring to the election. Please, if you’re registered and haven’t already voted, you can still vote early for a couple of days. After that get to your polling place on Tuesday. Email me if you need a ride.”

From:  two fish

Jake Gittes: “Why do you need it? You’ve got enough money.”
Noah Cross: “The future, Mr. Gittes. The future.”

The root of democracy is demos which means “common people:” that’s us. We are each uncommon, unique individuals, with one thing in common: our democracy, which is based upon our active citizenship. Please vote this November, to influence our common will. I’ve been contemplating the costs of the Iraq war, considering whether it was just. There are now some 15,000 Iraqi civilian casualties and over 1,000 dead and 7,000 injured American troops, of which 4,194 have been wounded so seriously they cannot return to active duty.

Kofi Annan has said that the Coalition’s war in Iraq “was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal.” The reputation of the United States for fairness and justice has been defamed by recent events in the eyes of the international community. And we’ve been losing our most precious democratic commodity: citizen’s rights, as Amnesty International recently reported.

As well, the issue of global warming is not being confronted by the current administration. As was reported recently, “The planet’s getting hotter, ecosystems are going haywire, government scientists know it ñ and still the president denies there’s a problem.”

I don’t know about you, but it feels good to act as a citizenóto make one’s will known, in public concert. Although my vote may be more of a “no” to the present administration than a “yes” to the next, the sense of fresh air is hard to miss.

From: For the Record
Reality-based information, opinion, and activism concerning national and international affairs.

Bush’s holding on to power for another term would seal the corporate takeover of the US. A long-established Republican goal is to destroy the federal government. The strategy is to destroy Social Security and Medicare. To most people, these programs exhaust the happy face of the government, and a government with all unhappy face would have no legitimacy, and therefore no power. Corporations would be the only powerful institutions remaining, and would run amok. Suskind’s Times Magazine article reported Bush’s declaration that “privatizing” (that is, destroying) Social Security would be the first move of the next term, and there’s no reason to suppose anything would block him. Checkmate. While electing Kerry won’t win the game, it will have the significant virtue of keeping the game going.

From:winding road in urban area
“What you find hateful do not do to another. This is the whole of the Law. Everything else is commentary.”

Speaking from the gutter that is our political world, Tom DeLay said this week, “I’ve never had a campaign where the entire nation has tried to destroy my name. They are going after me in the most personal and vindictive way. It’s gutter politics.”

“I am effective and that’s why they are after me,” DeLay said. “I am passionate and aggressive about what I do.”

They can’t do it alone. Are you passionately, aggressively doing your part to destroy the political career of Tom DeLay & George W. Bush?

According to the Houston Chronicle, “In recent weeks, the House ethics committee admonished DeLay for offering a political favor to a fellow Republican lawmaker if he voted for a Medicare prescription drug bill; for perceived links of political donations to legislation; and for asking federal aviation officials to help search for Democratic Texas state representatives who fled Austin last year during the redistricting fight. Three of his political associates were recently indicted on charges of illegal political fund raising. DeLay called those charges laughable.”

What is tragic is DeLay, like George W. Bush, considers much of the solid science on global warming and the use of pesticides like DDT laughable. He thinks that his degree from the University of Houston and his career as a pest control businessman puts him in a position to criticize Nobel Prize laureates.

Like Bush who deeply believes that if one is “resolute in the face of reality, reality will yield, and science will not matter.”

This thinking is best exemplified by the word “Truth” encased by the plastic silhouette of a fish eating the plastic silhouette of a fish encasing the word “Darwin” on the bumpers of thousands of Bush and DeLay constituents in Texas.

If John Kerry is able to out-macho George W. Bush and is elected in November, he will have to contend with a House of Representatives led by Tom DeLay. DeLay isn’t going down for his crimes. Not in Texas, not with any jury empanelled here. He must be seen as such a liability that his own party rejects him as their majority leader.

The only way to defeat DeLay is by a national effort to marginalize him. Running a well financed credible candidate who can capitalize off of Delay’s own maniacal egomania without allowing the press to characterize his candidacy as some romantic lost cause would be nice, but isn’t going to happen in the world of Texas, Inc. Robert Redford and Paul Newman could do advertisements for DeLay’s opponent and it would not defeat DeLay unless Redford or Newman moved to Sugar Land, Texas, ran against DeLay, registered and drove to the polls every unregistered voter in the district and held press conferences wearing haz-mat suits standing in the middle of the Brazos River.

It is going to take more than politics. It is going to take passion about the environment and corporate greed. Until we take back our right to clean air, clean water, and the right to control what we ingest, the Tom DeLays and the George W. Bushes are going to win. Until we demand media coverage of their environmental atrocities, we lose.

From:Deep Blade Journal

Kerry for President: More than a dime’s worth of difference

In both 1996 and 2000, I voted for Ralph Nader. I do not regret either of these votes one bit. They were true acts of conscience. This time it’s different…

Long ago, I was a Democratic Party activist, Chair of the largest City Democratic Committee in Maine and a committed volunteer for progressive Democratic Congressman Tom Andrews who served in the US House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995. Under Bill Clinton, however, I became severely disaffected from the Democratic administration. A myriad of environmental and human rights insults disguised in a mix of genuine and disingenuous positive actions marked this period. Perhaps the worst are the neo-liberal economic policies, including NAFTA, where worker and environmental protection have been trumped by the needs of wealthy investors.

But this time I do not support Nader. I am back in the Democratic fold. There will be more than a dime’s worth of difference between an election result awarding George Bush another four-year term versus one turning the U.S. presidency over to John Kerry. Foremost is the incredible harm Bush will do with a perceived mandate. Ratification of the last four years of lies, war, and terror-inspiring atrocities committed against detainees will usher in unimaginable horrors on multiple fronts. The Bush regime will rule with monarchical zeal and false religion previously unknown in U.S. history. To see what’s ahead on the environmental front, one need only look as far as the brazen Bush cancellation of Clinton-era rules for cleaning up highly toxic mercury emissions from aging power plants — along with his audacity to tell the total lie that the air and water are cleaner now than four years ago. That is but one example among thousands. The only way to deny him ratification is to vote for John Kerry.

Is this an “anybody-but-Bush” (ABB) position? Sort of. Unlike Ralph Nader and some other Kerry critics, I feel that ABB is totally justified. Furthermore, I am not nearly as pessimistic about Kerry as are some of these critics. I hold some reasons to hope that a Kerry Administration will be humane and progressive in a way unseen in America for a long time. Kerry/Edwards wants to preserve and strengthen international law, re-enter the Kyoto negotiation process, regulate greenhouse gas emissions, enact big changes in the Patriot Act, protect American jobs, promote a higher minimum wage, reduce corporate welfare, halt media consolidation, and a put a true emphasis on energy conservation, energy efficiency, and alternative energy. I am still very, very concerned about how Kerry would conduct the Terror War — I have written frequently that he has promised to kill, and kill, and kill. But my hope is that once he gets past the reactionary politics Bush has inspired, his Terror War positions will moderate. Maybe I dream, but along with this I see in him a desire to back the United States out of Iraq.

Kerry promises never again to commit US troops in a Mideast war over oil. Of all he says, this position I like most. There are reasons to question whether he will stay true to this position. But for now I take him at his word. Deep Blade Journal will work hard to hold him to this promise. Our work does not end when Kerry is elected.

The last word goes to the editors of the New Yorker magazine, who this week took the unusual step of issuing a combined lead editorial vigorously endorsing John Kerry in November 2nd election. Here’s what they had to say about Bush’s record on the environment:

Bush signalled his approach toward the environment a few weeks into his term, when he reneged on a campaign pledge to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions, the primary cause of global warming. His record since then has been dictated, sometimes literally, by the industries affected. In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed rescinding a key provision of the Clean Air Act known as “new source review,” which requires power-plant operators to install modern pollution controls when upgrading older facilities. The change, it turned out, had been recommended by some of the nation’s largest polluters, in e-mails to the Energy Task Force, which was chaired by Vice-President Cheney. More recently, the Administration proposed new rules that would significantly weaken controls on mercury emissions from power plants. The E.P.A.’s regulation drafters had copied, in some instances verbatim, memos sent to it by a law firm representing the utility industry.

“I guess you’d say Iím a good steward of the land,” Bush mused dreamily during debate No. 2. Or maybe you’d say nothing of the kind. The President has so far been unable to persuade the Senate to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but vast stretches of accessible wilderness have been opened up to development. By stripping away restrictions on the use of federal lands, often through little-advertised rule changes, the Administration has potentially opened up sixty million acres, an area larger than Indiana and Iowa combined, to logging, mining, and oil exploration.

There is a choice.

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