View from the Loft 

war and peace, politics, books, rants, the passing parade ...


Saturday, April 03, 2004

This You Gotta See!

Rush on over to Kos or Atrios and see what The Economist has on its cover!

Action is urgently needed! Click away!

Please take a few minutes to act on these extremely important issues. A few clicks and you can read the details and send an e-mail or, in some cases, a fax.

FEC Trying to Gag Nonprofits

We have until April 9--that's this next Friday--to get comments to the Federal Election Commission regarding their proposed rule change that would make it impossible for groups like MoveOn to air commercials critical of President Bush. From MoveOn's site:
The Republican National Committee is pressing the Federal Election Commission ("FEC") to issue new rules that would shut down groups that dare to communicate with the public in any way critical of President Bush or members of Congress. Incredibly, the FEC has just issued -- for public comment -- proposed rules that would do just that. Any kind of non-profit -- conservative, progressive, labor, religious, secular, social service, charitable, educational, civic participation, issue-oriented, large, and small -- could be affected by these rules.

Operatives in Washington are displaying a terrifying disregard for the values of free speech and openness which underlie our democracy. Essentially, they are willing to pay any price to stop criticism of Bush administration policy.
If this isn't a violation of the First Amendment, I'd like to know what is. Please click the link and read about it, then follow MoveOn's link to where you can e-mail a comment to the FEC. MoveOn also provides a link to a site that will let you contact legislators.

This is a crucial issue and a crucial test of democratic (small d!) principles. Please add your voice to those complaining about this proposed rule.

"The Computer Ate My Vote"

This is a campaign by True Majority to get states to establish a paper trail for computerized voting. Please visit the link and send a message to your state officials asking them to require a paper trail. Right now there is no way to ensure that these machines work, that they won't be hacked, or that your vote won't just disappear into the cyber void. After what happened in Florida in 2000, it doesn't take much imagination (or a tinfoil hat) to fear the theft of the November election. (In fact, Florida has passed legislation expressly forbidding the manual recount of computer-cast votes!)

Please send a message on this vital issue. It takes only a couple of minutes.

Unborn Victims of Violence Act

By now you know that Bush signed into law the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which grants personhood status to an embryo or fetus. You may not know the appalling details of the legislation, which gives to a fertilized egg the same legal status as the woman carrying it. Yes, a zygote. Never before in history has an attempt been made to do so. It's quite obvious that the next step is to outlaw abortion on the grounds that it is murder, since this law grants rights to a fertilized egg. (I'm also wondering what this does to in vitro fertilization ...)

If you can support NARAL through a donation, please do so. And don't forget the March for Women's Lives on April 25 in Washington, D.C. I hope it will be a huge one. I can't believe they have so denigrated women with this legislation.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Down on the Farm, It's Spring!

It didn't happen all at once, of course; it just seemed like it.

We write on the calendar such items as "saw turkey vulture," "heard spring peepers," etc. Actually, not until we hear the spring peepers do we consider it spring around here, and that momentous occasion occurred on Friday, the same day we awoke to find that the ice had finally disappeared from the lake.

The redwing blackbirds have been back for about two weeks, the robins for longer. The sandhill cranes returned a few weeks ago, no doubt wondering why they couldn't fish in the lake but had to walk upon it instead. Is it just coincidence that they no longer seem to be hanging out in our back yard, drawn by the water that drains from our geothermal unit? They are a sight, stately yet ungainly birds that walk in unison, thrusting their heads forward as they engage in their odd choreography across the now-greening grass.

Other returning birds we've noticed include the brown-headed cowbird, the geese of course (ours truly migrate and don't stay the winter as geese are known to do), and a Caspian tern, whose white wings sailed above the lake one day as it swooped and curved in its graceful flight. No bluebirds as yet, nor tree swallows, but I expect them soon.

The spring peepers were soon joined by other frogs with the more traditional croak. We haven't heard the "banjo-string" frogs yet, whose call sounds like a loose string being plucked, nor the wood frogs, who sound like ducks. But soon.

Right now it's enough to wake to the sound of bird calls and to contemplate the hard work soon to come. Already the petunias that will grace our balcony and front porch have been started and are nearly ready to transplant, and the leeks will be started today. (What fun transplanting them in a few weeks, lifting each grass-like blade carefully from the container to plant in the soil.) Yesterday was the day for cutting back the grape canes and fertilizing the vines. Now the number of our chores increases exponentially, and I can't tell you how glad we are to find ourselves here in springtime, about to be busier than the beavers who have recently added to their dam out where two peninsulas nearly meet between the lakes. The seeds are ordered; the gardens await the tractor and the rototiller, the herb garden already needs weeding, the new fencing must be installed to keep the deer and other critters well out.

We've ordered some trees and shrubs, too. My spouse is determined to rid the place of those pesky autumn olives (not a native species, and very invasive), but that means we have to replace them with something, as the wildlife have come to depend on them. We've lost a lot of trees the past two years, so this year we will begin a tree nursery, duly fenced in, where we can water and fertilize the seedlings for a couple of years until they're more likely to withstand the elements and the deer.

It's not as if we ever run out of things to do, or plans of yet more things to do! That's the beauty of it. This place is and always will be a work in progress. Like a person, it will never really be "finished." Never is that more apparent than in the messy, teeming, noisy, busy season of spring.

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