Congress: Keep our National Parks Open

“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

Dearest Congress:

I write to you with deep concern about the threat the current budget situation poses to national parks. Congress has allowed park budgets to continuously erode, and now face the possibility of an additional cut in January. We cannot allow our national parks to be the victims of a failed budget process, especially when parks are so important to millions of Americans like me and do so much to benefit many local economies.

     If Congress fails to find a solution by January, the National Park Service budget will automatically be cut by more than $200 million. That could mean some level of closure at virtually every national park in the system, including reductions in park hours or seasons, closures of campgrounds or visitor’s centers, and even the outright closure of many parks in the next year. And it will force the firing of as many as 9,000 rangers who serve the public, protect our parks, and keep the parks running—a devastating blow. We need a balanced approach to addressing the federal budget deficit that accounts for cuts to parks that have already occurred.

     Even if the mindless budget sequester does not occur, Congress needs to stop nickel and diming our nation’s national parks each year. The budget for the National Park Service in today’s dollars is already 15 percent less than it was a decade ago. Every driver knows you need to put enough gas in the tank or you run out. Congress isn’t putting enough gas in the tank, and the tires are about to fall off.

     Washington needs to solve our deficit problem, but national parks didn’t cause the deficit. Cutting or closing them won’t cure it. Our national parks attract nearly 280 million visitors each year. The parks support 258,000 jobs and more than $30 billion in private-sector spending and generate $10 in economic activity for every federal dollar spent. And they do it all with funding that is only 1/14th of 1 percent of the federal budget. Our national parks are job producers and economy builders (in the latest political parlance) and should be treated accordingly in federal budget deliberations, not subjected to mindless cuts. At the end of the day, slashing national park spending does not make sense.

     At a time when there is so much disagreement, the American public agrees that protecting our national parks should be a priority. According to a recent poll, 9 out of 10 likely voters–which includes Republicans, Democrats and Independents–agree that funding for our national parks should be held stable or increased. I am one of those people. Please prevent the January sequester from occurring, and support an alternative solution that protects our national treasures. We should be investing in what works.


Daniel Morgan

If this is something YOU believe in, take action here.

(Edited from a boilerplate message on

Here’s some history of the National Parks in the US.

Winter in Yosemite National Park from Henry Jun Wah Lee / Evosia on Vimeo.

Historical moments in Oil

Besides the day when I heard the first airstrikes hit Iraq in 2003 (the year I graduated high school) — one of the rare moments I really felt like I was really living through a historical catastrophe occurred during the spring of 2008. Oil had passed $100 dollars a barrel for the first time. I was a senior who for good reason thought poorly of worldly interminglings: my time was spread between an eye-opening ‘chemical and biological weapons & arms control’ course and an optimistically named course: ‘The philosophy and ethics of globalization.’

Amazing, thought I, that my class will forever be known as the class that graduated when oil passed $100/ barrel. For a brief moment in March, just a few days before my birthday, the first trade at 100 was made. By graduation day in May, a barrel hit $135. I’m not proud to belong to the High School class of Iraq’s bombarama, nor the ‘burn it till it hurts’ class of ’08.

(I wrote the previous two paragraphs back in March of 08. Since today is my birthday I figured it’s time to let it out!)

A new Constitutional Convention

Time for a new Constitutional Convention?

Conventional wisdom will argue that constitutional conventions or amendments are just impossible. Just like it was impossible to wrest a republic from the grip of monarchy or abolish slavery. Or impossible to elect Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama. But conventional minds are always wrong about pivotal moments in a nation’s history. And this is a pivotal moment in ours, when a movement to restore democracy is possible.

Indeed, the movement has already begun. Legislators in South Carolina, Virginia, Oregon, Rhode Island and Florida are already throwing sparks that could soon become a brush fire across the country. More and more are coming to see that if reform is necessary—as most all of us, whether from the right or left believe—this is the only way.

Congress has perfected the art of defending the status quo because it is dependent—for its campaign funds—upon the status quo. If we are to break this dependency which holds our nation hostage, we’re not going to do it in Washington. We’ve got to start handing out pitchforks in the states and organize a national convention. From there we will scale the federal ramparts and regain some sense and accountability.

Wikileaks releases the bestest leak

This is irony: Plan to take down a whistleblower clearing house put together by the DOD posted to said whistleblower site:

I just received an email from Wikileaks editor Julian Assange that’s pretty wild. It accuses the U.S. government of deliberately trying to take down the whistle-blower site PDF two years ago.

As proof, Wikileaks has posted a 32-page classified document PDF from the Department of Defense Intelligence Analysis program, dated March 2008, which details “the counterintelligence threat posed to the US Army by the Web site.” It reads:

The possibility that a current employee or mole within DoD or elsewhere in the US government is providing sensitive information or classified information to cannot be ruled out. claims that the “leakers” or “whistleblowers” of sensitive or classified DoD documents are former US government employees. These claims are highly suspect, however, since states that the anonymity and protection of the leakers or whistleblowers is one of its primary goals.

The sad truth is that sites like Wikileaks and Cryptome exist because the mainstream media can no longer be trusted to assume its role as the “fourth estate.” Just one example: The New York Times sat on the NSA warrantless wiretapping story for a full year before running it, and nobody in the mainstream media wanted to touch AT&T whistle-blower Mark Klein before he handed his documents over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Continue reading here.

Download the PDF from Wikileaks here or here.

Continue reading “Wikileaks releases the bestest leak”

Global Collapse linkpiece [recommended reading]

Unfortunately this is a serious post.

Jan Lundberg on a post-petroleum future:

The trucks will no longer pull into Wal-Mart. Or Safeway or other food stores. The freighters bringing packaged techno-toys and whatnot from China will have no fuel. There will be fuel in many places, but hoarding and uncertainty will trigger outages, violence and chaos. For only a short time will the police and military be able to maintain order, if at all. The damage that several days’ oil shortage and outage will do will soon wreak permanent damage that starts with companies and consumers not paying their bills and not going to work.

After an almost instant depression seizes the modern industrialized world, and nation-states break down, the frantic attempts of people to feed themselves, stay warm and obtain fresh water (pumped presently via petroleum to a great extent), there will be no rescue. Die-off begins. The least petroleum-dependent communities will survive best. These “backward” nations will be emulated by the scrounging survivors of the U.S. and the rest of the “developed” world, as far as local food production will be tried – in a paved-over, toxic landscape by people who have lost touch with the land…

Serious reading for a petroleum-heated afternoon in San Francisco:

  • Automatic Earth –  “40 ways to lose your future
  • Also from Automatic Earth: “Renewable Power – Not in your life time
  • Blog: Baseline Scenario
  • Blog: Zero Hedge
  • GlobalCorp (FTW Archives)
  • And below “United States Healthcare Spending” via National Geographic

  • health_spending_graph