I find I am anticipating gardening season--I mean actual, get-your-hands-dirty gardening season. I will take some pictures when I get the mini-greenhouse up (in about two-and-a-half months.) I will post some for everyone (especially you, Kay and Lois.) Right now my gardening is all in the planning stage--figuring what I can plant where. By next week I should have my seed orders ready to go. Seed packets last me three to four years and unless we really don't like a particular variety I don't by many new seeds each year.
The political situation and how it is likely to develop over the next two years continues to be a major topic of discussion here. Our consensus is--prepare for a very bumpy ride. Politics is messy even when the parties aren't busy trimming the 'facts' to their particular preconceived notions. Now-a-days the ideological knives are being wielded with particular gusto. I noticed that yesterday when the news clip showed the new House Majority Leader dismissing the recent report of the (usually respected) Congressional Budget Office as merely the CBO's 'opinion.' This HuffingtonPost article also noticed the change in tone. Of course, Rep. Boehner
didn't like being told that the proposal to repeal the health care reforms would cost a couple hundred billion. Question--what data does he propose to use in place of the CBO? He didn't say.
First we had blackbirds dying en mass in Arkansas and Louisiana. The similar deaths elsewhere along with dying fish and crabs washing ashore in Arkansas, Maryland, and Brazil. Now turtle doves falling from the sky in Italy. Experts tell us that these are not really out of the ordinary events. They may be right and the spate of stories may simply be the now pervasive of a 24/7 news cycle that demands the airwaves be filled with something. My brain tells me that may be the case but somewhere deep down these are troubling--deeply troubling.
So Defense Secretary Robert Gates is proposing to cut another $78 billion from the Defense Department budget on top of the $100 billion over the next five years already in the pipeline. Actually, I am not so sure that these are really cuts since the appropriations will actually modestly increase each year and do not include the costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We still spend more than the rest of the world as a whole on defense. It is nice that they recognize that we can't 'have a rich man's defense on a poor man's budget.' But this seems simply lip service when we aren't talking about actual cuts in money which a large number of ordinary people are experiencing.
The next questions though are rarely if ever asked even when discussing how the military can transition from the 'seven fat years (decades?)' to the 'seven lean years (or more?)' This post by William Astore on tomdispatch indicates a great need for some serious national soul searching in place of the hyperbolic praise that has been so in evidence over the last 20 or more years. We're Number One!!?? Perhaps, as with health care, in dollars spent (or misspent) but certainly not in results. As a companion to Astore's facts on the unfitness (physical and educational) of large numbers of American youth to serve in a modern military, check out June Calendar's post today on dealing with the new nearly illiterates (and innumerates).
This story from the New York Times sounds eerily familiar. Substitute salmonella for dioxin and cast your minds back to last fall in this country. Both stories show a major weakness in the modern industrial model of agricultural production. A small mistake can have major consequences far from the initial source. And once again we have officials reassuring the consuming public that the danger isn't really all that bad. That sounds to me like someone assuring you that a one in six chance of dying while playing Russian Roulette with a revolver isn't all that bad. It can really mess up you whole day if you are on the wrong side of the probabilities. CNN has this update which indicates that the situation may be more serious than originally thought. The company at the heart of the contamination may have known for months that its product was contaminated.
Well, the Republicans in the House had their little drama with the reading of the Constitution yesterday. It was mildly interesting on two counts: their decision to ignore certain portions of the original document and the (sarcasm alert) enthusiasm all of the Republicans and Tea Partiers had for the whole process. They said that they ignored parts of the original because they wanted to focus on the Constitution 'as it operates today.' That simply erases the fact that those parts have a great influence on the present.