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Good news! There ARE clean elections!

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Swim Against the CurrentA blog friend of mine from Europe wrote recently about her amazement at the role money plays in US politics. The idea that donors would give big bucks and expect favors in returns was purely astonishing, I guess. Of course to me it’s astonishing that it would be astonishing, having never even imagined any other way.

She tells me that if politicians in her country received donations from corporations or individuals, they would be breaking the law! Imagine it! How different would US politics be if private money weren’t involved! How different would US law be if corporations could not fund campaigns! How different would the slate of candidates be, if one didn’t have to be rich to run! How different would our itch for war be, if munitions-makers and oil brokers didn’t elect candidates! How different campaigns would be, if candidates weren’t begging for money!

Now an even greater surprise. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 12, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Posted in Politics, Social change

EPA returns! ‘Hold’ on mountaintop removal mining

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Good news! After years of forced inaction, the Environmental Protection Agency has come back to life—for the moment, at least—to slow the rapacious practice of “mountaintop removalcoal mining.
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In a major reversal of Bush policy, “mountaintop coal-mining permits are being put on hold until the projects’ impacts on streams and wetlands can be reviewed,” the Environmental Protection Agency announced today: […]

Citing its regulatory role under the Clean Water Act, the EPA said the letters stated that the projects “would likely cause water quality problems in streams below the mines, would cause significant degradation to streams buried by mining activities, and that proposed steps to offset these impacts are inadequate.” […]

A midnight regulation by the Bush administration attempted to make permanent its policy of permitting coal companies to strip the tops off of Appalachian mountains and bury watersheds with the waste. […]

Update: “Lax rules by the Bush Administration have made mountaintop removal an American emergency,” JW Randolph of Appalachian Voices tells ThinkProgress. “Today, the people of Appalachia are celebrating.”

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“[T]he EPA said the letters stated that the projects … would cause significant degradation to streams buried by mining activities […]”

Gosh, ya think?

The process, you’ll recall, involves ripping off the head and shoulders of an Appalachian mountain.  On this mountain lives a host of wildlife along with the descendants of Scotch-Irish pioneers who have never known another home, and have little power to prevent the theft of the one they have. The “removed” mountain gets dumped—believe it or not—into Appalachian ravines and streams; they are simply gone forever.

The holy grail of this mountains-to-mudflats search (thoughtful ad-men will want you to know) is “clean coal.”  Coal barons can hire said pretty much whatever they like; they’ve funded generations of Appalachian politicians.  Of course coal is not really the goal, nor do coal barons likely give a rip about how clean it is.   Scraping Appalachia flat – destroying national treasures and poor peoples’ homes – serves one sine qua non:  it makes a few rich people richer.

Even more then, say a bravo! for the EPA.  The permanent destruction of our lands is too great a loss to be ignored.   More millions for millionaires is a miserable trade for a mountain.

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More already on Clinton and business

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Sure enough. Here’s an addenda to After Bush, another Big Business White House?:

The Huffington Post reports today that Senator Clinton made a pitch for more money for alternative energy, including clean coal systems, on Feb. 27. The very next day, her chief campaign strategist authored an internal blog post at his other job (CEO of public relations firm Burson-Marstellar), in which he describes how B-M worked “behind the scenes” for TXU Corp., the Texas company fighting to build eleven coal-fired plants, which some say would be major polluters.

Isn’t that odd? A guy who’s the CEO of a company representing an environmentally controversial coal consumer is Hillary’s choice for top strategist?

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Written by Monte

June 4, 2007 at 3:41 pm

Posted in Environment, Politics

Loving people I forget to love

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Here’s last Sunday’s (September 10th) sermon, and the trouble it got me into!

Proverbs 22

1 A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.

2 The rich and the poor shake hands as equals—

God made them both!

8 Whoever sows sin reaps weeds,

and bullying anger sputters into nothing.

9 Generous hands are blessed hands

because they give bread to the poor.

22-23 Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor,

and don’t use your position to crush the weak,

Because God will come to their defense;

the life you took, he’ll take from you and give back to them.


What’s better than striking it rich? A sterling reputation.

What hands are blessed hands? Generous hands.


cue Psalms

Now, instead of the Psalm on your handout, let me switch to the alternative Psalm, #146, and read it from the blue Bible in your seat racks.


Psalm 146

1 Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD, O my soul.

2 I will praise the LORD all my life;

I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

3 Do not put your trust in princes,

in mortal men, who cannot save.

4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;

on that very day their plans come to nothing.

5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the LORD his God,

6 the Maker of heaven and earth,

the sea, and everything in them—

the LORD, who remains faithful forever.

7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed

and gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets prisoners free,

8 the LORD gives sight to the blind,

the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,

the LORD loves the righteous.

9 The LORD watches over the alien

and sustains the fatherless and the widow,

but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The LORD reigns forever,

your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the LORD.


What does he do? Start at 7 and call them out.

cue Journey with Jesus

journey-with-jesus.gifDaniel Clendenin, in the excellent Journey with (for September 10), writes: Christians should favor the poor not because of any political agenda of the right or left, but because we’re called to imitate the character of God. Using a legal metaphor, Proverbs says that God is the Maker of the poor, their advocate, and their vindicator who will “take up their case” (Proverbs 22:2, 23).


A thousand years after the Proverbs, James has discovered something that amazes him. Far from reflecting the nature of God, he writes of churches who reflect the nature of the world: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

September 11, 2006 at 1:29 pm