The moon, rising late and shrinking, was hanging in Venus’ cloudy neighborhood when Koko and I went out walking in the gray of pre-dawn, long after the roosters had awakened, and just as the other birds were stirring.
Getting out for walks, and to the beach at dawn and dusk yesterday, has been a nice break from the total immersion in “stuff” that characterizes moving. I’m making progress, and got my phone hooked up yesterday, but the Internet isn’t working. Luckily, I’ve been able to get on line because the Airport feature on my Mac automatically picked up a wireless signal from someone living nearby.
I was on the phone, telling a friend about the details of my new house, when he interrupted to say, “Yes, but does Koko like it?”
What’s not to like? She’s got tons of new smells to sniff, ample opportunity to mark new territory, and when she’s outside, the neighborhood kids all want to pet her.
“I might actually get some trick-or-treaters for the first time ever this year,” I remarked to a friend, surveying the keiki that move like flocks of birds from one yard to another on my street.
“Garans ball bearin’s,” he replied.
A parade of kids has stopped by over the past few days to tell me their names and ask about Koko. Dogs are great for initiating conversations with strangers, like the old Filipino man this morning, who was walking his Golden Retriever puppy down to the store, where he planned to meet a friend for a cup of coffee and a cigarette, and yesterday, the dumpmaster, who took the old pillows I was tossing to use as bedding for his four dogs while asking what I fed Koko to give her such a glossy coat.
“I cook for her,” I answered, and he nodded, saying he made food for his dogs, too — Costco chicken, vegetables and rice — and did I have any suggestions on what oils he should use as his bulldog had a tendency toward dry skin.
If only we could so easily strike up friendly conversations with world leaders. Maybe Obama would make more progress if he took family dog Bo with him on his global rounds. Then perhaps we wouldn’t have to spend $80 billion to expand the war in Afghanistan and keep it going in Iraq. The $106 billion bill approved by the House also includes $5 billion for the IMF’s line of credit, a $1 billion incentive package to get folks with old cars to buy new ones and nearly $8 billion to “fight” H1N1 Flu.
Gee, I wonder how much of a role the automobile, pharmaceutical and defense lobbyists had in drafting that bill?
No one in power really wants to cut military spending, aside from a few anti-war Democrats like Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who was quoted on Democracy Now! as saying:
“We’re destroying our nation’s moral and fiscal integrity with the war supplemental. Instead of ending wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan now by appropriating only enough money to bring our troops home, Congress abdicates its constitutional authority, defers to the President, and asks for a report. That’s right. All we’re asking for is a report on when the President will end the war."
And even if a war were to wind down in one place, Pentagon officials and people like failed Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain are busily fanning the flames of fear elsewhere. Take North Korea’s missiles. As the Associated Press reported after covering a Senate missile defense hearing:
North Korea’s missiles could hit Hawaii or Alaska in as few as three years if the reclusive rogue nation continues to ramp up its weapons system, Pentagon officials said today.
Wow. They're breathing down our necks. Maybe we shouldn’t cut that $1.2 billion from the missile defense budget after all.
But if you read a little more, things get a bit murky, what with all those qualifiers like “if” and “could,” not to mention the unanswered question of why, or even whether, North Korea might be inclined to launch a missile at Alaska or Hawaii.
[Deputy Defense Secretary William] Lynn did not immediately know how long it would take North Korea to build a powerful enough missile to hit Alaska or Hawaii.
But Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it would take at least three to five years for North Korea to pose a real threat to the West Coast of the United States.
“That’s assuming a lot of luck on their part in moving forward,” Cartwright said during questioning by Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.
Of course, focusing our attention on external bad guys makes it easy to ignore the gravest threat yet to “the homeland” and America’s materialistic way of life, even as the Obama Administration released what the Guardian called “the most authoritative report to date on the effects of global warming in America.” Its article quotes Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as saying:
"I really believe this report is a game changer. I think that much of the foot-dragging in addressing climate change is a reflection of the perception that climate change is way down the road in the future and it affects only remote parts of the world," she told a press conference today. "This report says climate change is happening now. It is happening in our own back yard."
"The most important thing in this report is that the impacts of climate change are not something your children might theoretically see 50 years from now," said Tony Janetos, one of the study's authors and a director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland.
"The thing that concerns me the most is that we have a whole host of impacts that we now observe in the natural world that are occurring sooner and more rapidly and that appear to be larger than we might have expected 10 years ago. If anything we might have underestimated the rate and the impact of changes in the climate system."
So where's the $80 billion appropriation to deal with that threat? And more important, when are we going to stop waging war on nature?