For The Good Times
Mike Flint Remembered
BY JUDY BORELLO
It all started in the early '70s when my then-husband Mike Hawley and I owned the Old Western Saloon.
Dick and Jackie MacFarland, Mom and Pop, were the bar's stability by day and Mike and I took turns running the bar at night.
The locals that hung out there in those days were quite a motley crew. Rough and tumble as they appeared, we shared many a good time that led to some great stuff which memories are made of! Classics each and everyone of them in their own rambunctious way.
Conjuring up those most memorable times of yesteryear led me to the fact that most of the antics performed (in youthful exuberance, of course) were done when Mike Flint ran our back bar and pool room, which he referred to as "The West Western."
Mike possessed such a gregarious personality that he captivated raucous audiences. Many times he put more money on that back bar till than we put on the front bar, which was quite amazing because all he sold was beer and wine back there. You had to come to the front bar for the hard stuff.
In those days times were looser and we were wilder and woolier. The crew that hung at "The West Western" were his brother Dave, Marty Shoemaker, Bruce Stevens, "Bear" Tony Morris, Tom "Tree" Kent, Nick Whitney and Ben Johnson, Jr. Each and everyone could have played a character in an old western movie. If I were rich, I would have cast them myself, and we all would have been rich and famous by now. Dave Flint could have taken Jack Elan's crusty and dry sarcastic parts in those westerns and made Elan bland by comparison. Marty Shoemaker with his moth-eaten black cowboy hat and slow, witty country drawl would have buried Billy Clyde in "All My Children."
Brewster "The Rooster" Stevens with that mischievous elfin look in his eye and his flair for off-the-wall behavior such as stealing the wooden Indian and putting it in the window of the Grandi Building to see if we'd notice, made him a definite Academy Award winner.
Mike Flint had a razor sharp wit and could impersonate Leroy Martinelli better than Leroy, He would entertain us with his renditions of a chain-saw, birds of paradise lost, and Jack Nicholson was never done better.
A lot of pride went into the way Hawley ran his "West Western." Pool tables were constantly brushed, pool tourneys were run constantly and efficiently, the bar was spit and polished. He talked us into putting the Old Western Saloon-girl manikin back in his room, until the guys literally danced her arms and legs off and he had us put speakers in the back room so he and his captivated audience could hear the tunes from the jukebox with greater volume.
One evening round about midnight, I was bartending the front bar while Mike was holding court in the back when all hell broke loose. It seems Ben Johnson Jr. had made a few comments to two silage truck drivers who had just returned from the Point after hauling all day and they didn't take kindly to whatever was said.
Well, locals will back up locals, and it looked like a John Wayne donnybrook center stage. Fists were flying, tables were being tossed along with chairs, and Mike warned me, "Don't get out there and try to stop it, you'll get decked." I heeded his warning and went to the phone to call the sheriffs. The line was dead! I locked up the till and told Mike I was going across the street to the Two Ball and have George Ball use his C.B. and radio the law. After sipping a Grand Mariner on the rocks across the street waiting for the sheriffs to arrive, I noticed the brawl had landed outside on Main Street. What happened next made this encounter an epic in bizarre proportions. Fisticuffs stopped abruptly and the brawlers were scattering and running for cover. It seems Waldo Giacomini's cows had cut loose and were stampeding straight on down Main Street at full muster. When they reached Cheda's Deli, they turned around and came bounding back. The sheriffs had their hands full ramroding the cattle back to safe haven. When I finally worked my way over to the Old western, all my local cherubs were on their stools as if nothing happened, except for a few black eyes and bloody noses. Mike Flint had put in about three foot stations, whole bottles of booze out on the bar. I ranted, "What the hell are you doing, Mike?" He came back at me in his best Jack Nicholson style, "Don't worry, Miss Kitty, the boys needed to be calmed down, and since the till was locked up, I passed my cowboy hat and I bet we've got over a hundred dollar in it!" Well, you couldn't beat Mike Flint ingenuity and that night was the greatest show on earth and it could have been a Cecil B. DeMille with Mike Flint in the starring role.
Mike, wherever you are, and I'm sure you're with Brother Dave, we will always love you and treasure your memory.
News And Notes Of Novato
BY BETTY MACHADO
Hello, Dear Hearts
When we think of June, it means Father's Day, weddings and graduations. Congratulations to all. Family picnics and outings are being scheduled for the long summer ahead. Have fun. It's wonderful to have a family that acts like a family. Enjoy everyone and every activity! Happy Birthday to Rachael Machado. June 16 is her Big Day!
South Novato improvements
We have waited 35 years to have this major street improved. Sidewalks have been placed on the west side. But look at the major hill in the design between Arthur and Rowland. The skateboards should use that as a practice site. How the young mothers of my age wanted sidewalks on South Novato to wheel the children to the Nave Shopping Center!
The brick tunnels make you think of Oakland when you come off Highway 101 at Rowland. The concrete dividers scare me to deathÑwatch when you approach Center Road by the Nave Shopping Center. Cars are coming from every which way. The parking for the Human Needs Center is a disaster. The bus stop should be relocated down at the shopping center where the post office has all the drive-in mail boxes. In front of the Human Needs thrift shop is the worse place for a bus stop! When drivers start to receive tickets for just stopping to drop off donations, a war will start.
The trees being planted in the middle of the center strips look fine nowÑtall and thin. What happens when they grow out of control with no maintenance funds in the City budget? Do hope the type of tree the City has selected never do the damage the City-selected trees (liquid amber) did on Dawes Street in the South Novato area. Whole chunks of the City sidewalk is buckled like an earthquake has hit the area. Totally dangerous and has been this way for years!
To end on a positive note: South Novato project has offered a long employment season for the North Bay Construction Company (NBC) from whom Jack Machado retired.
Speaking of Jack Machado
The column last month did not give you his new address. After being discharged from Yountville on April 12, he was sent by Whistlestop bus to the skilled nursing facility of Pleasant Care at 1565 Hill Road, Novato. Dianne McClain, admitting nurse, was a great person in receiving Jack. She made the transition a very easy affair. He is in 419 on ward 4. When you visit him, please "sign in" at the front desk so we can know who is there to see him. Ray Struck, a Tam High classmate of over 50 years ago went to see Jack. They reminisced over old baseball days.
Days in court experience
On Thursday, May 16, a court hearing was called by Public Defender Monica Rudden, in which she stated in her filed report: Most importantly, "John Machado has nominated his children to be his conservator." This statement is dated April 4 while Jack was in Yountville and being refused admission because he had dementia and requires skilled nursing! The court date of May 16 shall remain with me the rest of my life.
Ed Grundstrom, my attorney, had substituted himself out. We were asking for a 30-day continuance to allow me to hire a new attorney and close the case in the near future. Would you believe Judge Michael Dufficy refused the continuance and made me be my own attorney up against the public defender, Monica Rudden! I pleaded I was not preparedÑMonica had subpoenaed six witnesses! "Only a fool represents himself as a client in a court," and I professed to be no fool. "Nor am I Marcia Clark," I told Judge Dufficy. "Case to proceed!"
To this day, I am still in shock. Here I am a 73-year-old, not in good health, senior citizen warring and sparring with a professional. Paul, Laura and Paul's wife, Angela, were representing themselves (pro per) by choice, since their attorney, Judith Austin Brown, had been told by the court of Mary T. Grove on April 15 the legal fees were to be the children's responsibility and not attached to the estate of John A. Machado. Monica Rudden was there to protect them in the name of being a court-appointed lawyer for Jack.
I had to cross-examine Monica's witnesses. All related to Barbara Dolan and my action of taking Jack to Yountville on January 9 with ten stitches in his head after Kaiser released him at 5:00 a.m. Laura brought him back home with a bag of doughnuts and she left! Never called again to ask what I planned to do. The Thursday court case related to abandonment filed by Angela Machado against me in Napa and Marin counties. Without my knowledge, our children got into the system with the Adult Probation Agency because Barbara Dolan and I took Jack to Yountville on January 9!
Judge Dufficy allowed the case to be heard all day Thursday. It adjourned until 9:00 a.m. on Friday. I would not endure what I had on Thursday. So I wrote a statement into the record before the proceeding continued, stating, due to my known health problems, stress, I have been warned to not allow it to happen, so I demanded the court not continue without my two doctors' permission. Judge Dufficy wouldn't pay any attention. He and Monica engaged in a legal discussion over my finances and I walked out after filing my written statement with the court. It is in the record. Last words of Judge Dufficy, "Let it be noted, Mrs. Machado voluntarily is leaving." No, I was forced out due to no attorney representation and health reasons. Will give you the next chapter! Thanks to Ed Ryuken, Jack did go by Whistlestop to court on Thursday.
Downtown Specific Plan Steering Committee
This group met on May 2 at 5:00 p.m. Margaret Todd Building. Ned Lagin, chair, was allowing discussion about the future of the downtown area. It will be proposed to have a 1880 to 1925 look. Sandy Huff, of the French Toast business, was making sure no neon signs will be allowed! At Mail Box, Etc., on Seventh Street their neon sign of "open" is what I look for as a customer. Told Al, the owner, when his sign is off, I don't even stop!
It's The Stupid Economy
BY FRANK SCOTT
News of stunning insignificance is treated as earth-shaking bulletin when a presidential candidate decides to devote full time to his losing effort. We are on the way to a campaign in which issues like who has seen more combatÑin a bedroom or in a warÑwill be newsworthy. Meanwhile, it will be left to minor party candidates to broach the subjects of most importance. There is nothing more important than the performance of our economy, currently being praised by one side and degraded by the other, all for the wrong reasons.
Ralph Nader's presidential run has seemed like a stealth candidacy so far, and may never reach the greatest possible audience, but he has already identified the economy as the major issue for the nation and the world. Clinton and Dole are not in the same universe as Nader and their campaigns will mask the seriousness of this election year.
In 1994, those leading us to failure were replaced by those who would speed up the process. In 1996, the choice of a lesser evil is forced on people concerned about their nation's short-term needs, but ultimately we must come to grips with our long-term economic problem. If we don't, the future will amount to choosing between tentative, mincing steps toward social disaster, or bold, crazed leaps into chaos.
While breathless reports inform us that Dole has removed his tie and chosen a new image, the substance of economic reality escapes notice. As eager pundits tell us, Clinton's lead in the polls make him unbeatable, the economic context in which we live remains unexplored. Divisions between Americans grow deeper and more serious, but while race, ethnicity or sex receive some attention, it is economic dysfunction that is causing the most problems. Candidate Nader is addressing the issue of this economy and its dangerous tendencies toward greater inequality and wider gaps between classes, while the major candidates raise money for campaigns that will have all the substance of ads for Nike shoes or Toyota cars. And that is the result ofÑto paraphrase the '92 Clinton sloganÑthe stupid economic system that rewards corporate wealth with more wealth and places the expense for that on the backs of an ever more insecure majority of working people. Of course, we can be called stupid for not seeing it, but were the Europeans slaughtered by Nazis all stupid for not having seen the reality to come? Or were their leaders stupid for not having warned them? Retrospective IQ tests won't reveal what happened then, but the thing to do is to change what might happen now and create an economy that rewards the most people, instead of the least.
Our system of free markets regulated either by the firmly invisible hands of conservative god, or the limply visible hands of liberal god, is outmoded and leading us to a depression that could be worse than anything in the past. One deity insuresÑwith a vengeanceÑthat minorities profit at majority expense, while the other shields the poor from total chaos by taxing the middle, thereby insuring the ruling status of the same creators of both religious cults. The present conflict between a fundamentalist clergy that wants no government interference at all, and a more benign priesthood that wants greater market domination by global capital, domination of reality; they merely represent different masters, some nicer to their slaves than others.
An economic system should not be glorified when it throws millions out of decent jobs and lowers their standard of living. It should not be praised when it increases the tax burden of 90% of citizens while lowering that of the top 10%. When market forces create multi-millionaire CEOs and impoverished workers, palatial estates for a few and diminished housing stock for many, inflated profits for HMOs and declining health care for seniors and children, something is seriously wrong with that system. Yet it remains unchallenged and unquestioned by major candidates, who gloat over increased creation of low-paying jobs and prisons, or complain about welfare, crime and immigration, which are all by-products of the stupid economy.
The bipartisan balanced budget frenzy, NAFTA, GATT and countless other issues reveal similarities between the major candidates. Now that Dole has removed his tie, we may soon find him lowering his pants in pursuit of the MTV vote, while Clinton bites his lip, feels our pain and looks brilliant compared to the plodding hack from Kansas. The real choices for voters are in Congress, where the combined Black and Progressive Caucus has created a budget which becomes balanced in the only sensible way: by cutting military spending and corporate welfare, two untouchable areas for the high priests of the economy. These forces within Congress are still a minority, but could become a majority with public support. They call for an enlightened form of government spending to renew our economic life, one that is based on a tax system that stops the disgraceful trend toward greater individual wealth at the top, and fights against corporate control of reality.
The Progressive-Black Caucus warrants attention and support for the future, even as many will select a lesser evil in the present. But the greatest evil is the stupid economy. We won't have a decent nation until we face that fact, and work to make the economy intelligent. Listen to Nader, hold your nose in the voting booth, vote Democratic, and stay tuned.
Get RealÑHelp Women
BY CLAUDIA PRUESS
Stories about the California Gold Rush sounded very adventurous when I still lived back East. I came originally from Germany in 1963, running away from a country that had lost its honor. I couldn't quite take the humiliation that came back on the people after the War. I felt enthusiastic about life and certainly did not want to cry over spilled milk, over something I could not even understand because I was just a baby when it all went down.
I set out into the world very early to get a taste of a free life in another country where I couldn't feel the pain from a nation that put millions of people on the move. After I had lived in several European countries, I came to the U.S. via New York, Massachusetts and eventually California. I always knew California as going to be one of my last stops.
Not being cradled in the arms of a husband family or homeland, I adventurously underwent the task of raising two boys as a single mom, underestimating the rough U.S. climate as far as mothers are concerned. Today, it feels like alien immigrant women and women in general are being put into straight jackets all over again with the new abortion laws and no assistance, etc. How is a single woman going to survive, tell me? Are the days coming back when women give themselves spontaneous abortions with coat hangers and have to be rushed to a hospital? What about all the Mexican aliens who have to live a closet existence with their babies today because of the fear of getting reported? A gun in one arm and a baby in the other? What is her kid going to be like? How does she have any time or leisure to pull her kid away from the TV set so she can relate to him or her personally? We need more schools and time for our children, not jails and guards. The government is biting it's own tail.
Women are the stronghold of the earth, let's face it. We are connected to the moon by the nature of our womb. The system drains women of all their creative energies and make them fearful and weak with tough immigration laws and a medical system that likes to control our bodies and tell us what to take and how to do things. Most women are totally out of sync with their own biology, having depended on men doctors forever. How strange to have to confide your personal problems to a man and expect a solution from him.
I was glad to read in the Independent Journal the other day that we are making room for the illegal Mexicans and especially the children in school since Proposition 197 is still in court. It makes sense to treat the people who are already here in a welcoming manner and with respect. They all have a strong reason to be here, like me. Once you have created our own family in a new country and you have been here for awhile, you are one of the people. Californians are very open folks compared to the rest of the States, although I feel there is a lack of authenticity here. The princess consciousness that exists here doesn't allow people to really step outside of themselves and give a hand where it is needed. I suppose that's why many people move up north to Oregon, Colorado or New Mexico where folks are genuine and real.
I don't see why a woman has to be put under such tight scrutiny in our present-day society. If you are a single mom from a foreign country and especially alien, you can expect one of the worst receptions here, you may as well go back home and God only knows what awaits you back there. This country is vast and spacious, and to feel any kind of belonging to this land and earth takes an inner appreciation for everything that has remained sacred over the years, and a strong gut survival spirit.
Hug a redwood tree before you come out with a new tough law, especially when it's for women.
Love Thy Neighbor
BY EDWARD W. MILLER
On the eighth day of Israel's latest violent attack on Lebanon, her gunners shelled the UN refugee shelter at Qana, killing almost 200 women and children. Robert Fisk, British reporter at the scene described in The Nation: "When I reached the compound the blood was flowing in streams, running down the road near me. Inside I found heaps of bodies, a baby without a head, a dismembered woman, a Figian UN soldier holding in horror a headless child."
Responding to international anger, the Security Council sent Netherland's Major-General Frank van Kappen with other experts to the scene. Van Kappen reported to the UN that Israel's slaughter "was purposeful." Her military had been informed the day before that the UN shelter was full of refugees. Established in 1978 after Israel's invasion, this UN command compound was identified on every Israeli military map. Moreover, Israel's artillery was being directed by a pilotless drone plane delivering TV images to the gunners, visible even on video tapes replayed on CNN. The first salvo of four regular detonation bombs just missed the camp, whereupon the Israeli gunners switched to M-732 proximity fuses (anti-personnel bombs) that explode seven feet above the ground, expressly targeting the shelters within the compound, and accounting for that mass of mangled bodies and decapitated children. At the UN the U.S. and Israel sought without success first to deny and then to buy the report.
Israel's disregard for the lives of non-Jewish civilians repeatedly criticized by the International Red Cross, the Red Crescent, Amnesty International and the UN was discussed by Israeli author, holocaust survivor and emeritus Professor, Israel Shahak, in his recent book: Jewish History, Jewish Religion. Professor Shahak quotes from the soldier's handbook issued by the Israeli Army Central Regional Command:
"When our forces come across civilians during a war or in hot pursuit or in a raid, so long as there is no certainly that these civilians are incapable of harming our forces, then according to the Halakkah [legal system of classical Judaism] they may and even should be killed. Under no circumstance should an Arab be trusted, even if he makes the impression of being civilized. In war when our forces storm the enemy, they are allowed, and even enjoined by the Halakkah, to kill even good civilians, that is, civilians who are ostensibly good."
The Second and Fourth Geneva Conventions signed by 140 nations, including Israel, instructs armies do their best to preserve civilian lives. Americans, we remember, punished their officers responsible for the civilian massacre at Mai Lai during the Vietnam War.
Two years ago when Professor Shahak was on a lecture tour, I had the privilege of interviewing him in San Francisco for local papers and he discussed this Jewish attitude toward non-Jewish life. Shahak pointed out that in the religious schools in Israel the supremacy of the Jew as contrasted with other races is emphasized, and children are taught that even the Jewish embryo is different from embryos of non-Jews.
Professor Shahak said this teaching effects Jewish attitudes at all levels of contact between Jews and their neighbors, and even relates to the dead. In his book he notes: "Jews have a tremendous reverence towards Jewish corpses and Jewish cemeteries, but have no respect towards non-Jewish corpses and cemeteries. Thus hundreds of Muslim cemeteries have been utterly destroyed in Israel...but there was great outcry when one Jewish cemetery...was damaged under Jordanian rule."
Americans have not come away unscathed from assisting Israel in her lawlessness. Aside from billions of American taxpayer's dollars which have and are still supporting that country's military misadventures, we have sustained a loss of whatever moral creditability we once enjoyed. Presidential confidant, advisor and author George Ball in his book The Passionate Attachment points out also that our unquestioning support of Israel has cost many American lives. We lost almost 300 marines in Lebanon. Again, when Israel targeted our U.S.S Liberty off their coast during the 1967 War, their fighter jets killed 34 American sailors and wounded 171 more, many being strafed as they clung to life rafts. The ship had to be scrapped.
When ex-President Carter was interviewed on March 26, 1989 for the New York Times, he said: "You have only to go to Lebanon, to Syria, to Jordan to witness first hand the intense hatred among many peoples for the United States, because we bombed and shelled and unmercifully killed totally innocent villagers, housewives, children and farmers in some of those villages around Beirut...as a result we have become a kind of Satan in the minds of those who are deeply resentful. That is what precipitated the taking of hostages and that is what has precipitated their terrorist attacks."
The recent photo opportunity in Washington staged by the smiling Peres and Clinton, in the face of all reports from Lebanon, strongly suggests this "honest broker," once again implicated in Israel's terrorism had best leave future Mideast peacekeeping efforts to our European friends and the UN General Assembly.
UN = Police State
Has the New World Order already been established while Americans slept? Is it already directing the Clinton Administration and much of the U.S. government? Have we already become an occupied nation?
Thousands of sightings of unmarked black helicopters have been documented across the nation. Whose are they? What does their presence mean?
Why are thousands of foreign troops being trained in the United States? Why are U.S. troops being sent to serve in a UN army under foreign commanders?
Why are thousands of Soviet trucks, tanks, chemical warfare vehicles, and armored personnel carriers being shipped into the U.S.?
Why are closed American military bases being converted to UN bases?
Why are numerous civilian detention centers being established?
Why do the media and certain government agencies try to create the idea that patriots, Christians, home schoolers, pro-life groups, petitioners for prayer in school, gun owners and Second Amendment organizations, constitutionalists and states right advocates, opponents of the New World Order, and similar groups are extremists, cultists, radicals and a threat to peace and security?
Is the outlawing of assault rifles and other significant weapons, and the intended disarming of the American people, a necessary stepÑso that Americans cannot oppose our merger into the New World Order?
Why is the U.S. military being trained for police enforcement and civilian control, in direct violation of the Constitution and U.S. law?
Why is illegal and unconstitutional search and seizure being made lawful by the Congress and the courts?
Why are local law enforcement personnel being federalized? Why are SWAT teams needed by the Post Office, Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Game Commission, and nearly every state and federal agency? What is the Multi-Jurisdictional Task force? Is it to control and enslave the American people? Are these things real or only paranoid delusions of the Patriotic Right? Are Americans willing to consider the facts and accept the truth? Why, for 50 years, have all our presidents, whether Democrat or Republican, worked to strengthen the United Nations organization and numerous international agencies while weakening our national sovereignty and giving away our national resources?
What will the New World Order mean to citizens of the United States? Are Americans simply too stupid, lazy and preoccupied with nonsense to observe important events and recognize their ominous danger? Are the American people too brainwashed by the controlled media to even care? Will the uninformed and unconcerned care when they are done away with as part of the program Global 2000 [to reduce the world population from nearly 6 to 2 billion]? Do the liberals and the wimps realize that they will be liquidated just like the patriots, only more easily? When millions of Americans are taken away to be gassed or have a bullet put in the back of their heads, will they still believe that all of the information and warnings provided by constitutional, Christian, patriotic organizations such as American Pistol and Rifle Associations were only the imagination of those dedicated Americans who for decades had been fighting for the freedom and independence of the United States and the liberties of American people?
"And they did not understand until the flood came and swept them away." (Matthew 29:39)
Time is running out!
Corporations Rake In Profits Of Congressional Warfare
BY SANDY LEON
Out of the murky ruins of a congressional debate deprived of all meaning by political subterfuge and untouchable corporate interests, a clear victor emerges. Guess who it is.
Clues are as follows:
This year alone the government has already lost nearly $2 billion in revenue because of its inability to collect industry taxes. Quibbling between Congress and the White House over the language of a toxic cleanup law already gutted in spirit is the stopping point.
The debate between legislators and the executive branch of government has degenerated into largely one of how best to fool citizens into thinking their health and safety interests are being served. That mockery is responsible for stalling legal collection of corporate monies owed the federal government. Losses to the public revenue are mounting daily.
Beneficiaries of the stalemate are primarily petroleum and chemical companies, who as a direct result of the gridlock, have stopped paying millions into the environmental Superfund for toxic waste cleanup.
The government stopped collecting Superfund taxes in January because Congress was unable (or unwilling) to reach a compromise with President Clinton on reauthorization of the toxic cleanup law. Under normal circumstances the Superfund tax generates some $4 million a day, mainly from chemical and petroleum companies.
EPA Administrator Carol Browner says the loss of revenue is not only unfair, but "will soon jeopardize communities waiting for cleanup action." Still Republican congressional forces are refusing to reinstitute the tax until, as one spokesperson put it, "the issue is resolved," which means until Republicans get their way.
Arguably and to a lesser degree, airline passengers who save a few dollars each, because Congress has allowed a federal tax on air tickets to expire, also benefit from the stalemate. Both the airline tax and the environmental cleanup funds are counted as revenue in calculating the budget deficit.
Just say balance the budget
The Republican mandate to balance the budget, no matter what, gets curioser and curioser. House Republicans who recently pushed through legislation for a temporary repeal of the 4.3 cent gasoline tax seem not to realize that the repeal of this tax combined with the failure to collect taxes due the federal government casts an eerie light on the much-touted budget-balancing act.
The damage being incurred under the guise of budget balancing will likely come back to haunt us in years to come. Congressional attempts to slash the funding that pays for enforcement of environmental protection laws and research into renewable energy sources (that is, not coal, oil or nuclear), are cynical at best. Factor in the brutal stabs aimed at enviscerating what's left of OSHA and the Clean Air Act, and a grotesque picture begins to emerge.
Put all that together with a little-mentioned quid pro quo style agreement between Republican military hawks and Clinton's Democratic Leadership Council to keep the bloated military budget off the negotiating table, and the national stage darkens to ominous.
President Clinton's complicity in this ugly game amounts to nothing less than collaboration that only his own corporate ties can begin to explain.
Corporate cost-cutting costs consumer lives
Not only are the current political gesticulations obscene, they may be dangerous to your health as well. Corporate cost-cutting under the guise of downsizing and deregulation are proving to be risky territory for the consumer.
The demise of Valu-Jet's Flight 592, a 27-year-old DC-9 cost-saving device, and the news of still another disastrous oil spill along the coast of Galveston, Texas, are two grim reminders among manyÑfar too numerous to listÑthat what's good for the corporation is rarely good for the consumer. As divergent as these two examples are, they have at least one thing in common. They both serve as potent symbols of all that is wrong with corporate and federal cost-cutting measures.
After the Galveston oil spill, one oil company executive assured the local media that voluntary agreements with respect to pollution laws were being honored by the industry.
Marci Glazer, an environmentalist and spokesperson for the Center for Marine Conservation, disagrees. Environmental studies show that not only have spills, dumping and pollution reached alarming levels, but says Glazer, "The Coast Guard is asleep at the helm of oil spill protection for California."
Coast Guard Commander Rob Lorrigan responded by ridiculously asserting that, "regulations mean enforcement." Unfortunately, that's not the way it works. What little money has in past years been allotted to enforcement of environmental regulations is now on the congressional chopping block.
The absence of political will to safeguard and protect our resource base is the stuff of environmental suicide. It results in half-hearted enforcement that makes a mockery of federal regulations such as the Oil Pollution Act, passed in the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.
That law is supposed to require all new oil tankers sailing U.S. waters to have double hulls. It also stipulates that all old tankers must be fitted with double hulls by the year 2015. But relatively few ships have been fitted with hulls and little is being done to alleviate the problem. "The Coast Guard is years delinquent on implementing the regulations set down in the 1990 federal act," one Sierra Club activist told the Associated Press.
Enforcement is made still more difficult, according to the Coast Guard, because, "most of the recommended exclusion zones extend beyond U.S. territorial watersÑthat means they will involve international accords." Provisions under both the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allow other countries to challenge U.S. environmental laws under the auspices of, "impeding free trade." Market forces have made the environment an extremely hostile place to be.
Because meaningful debate has been effectively preempted by corporate interests, the value of information, as we approach the turn of the century, should be viewed with skepticism. Pre-election frenzy only partially explains the lack of substantive attention by the media to the phenomenon of environmental suicide brought on by insatiable corporate greed and the canonization of military-industrial interests.
Instead of analyzing the details of a largely fabricated debate, the public interest would be better served by scrupulous attention to corporate sanctity and how it impacts on democracy and the environment.
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