Monday, June 30, 2014

Long before Obama, Congress was impossible on immigration reform

Boehner claims that immigration reform can't happen in Congress because "the American people and their elected officials don't trust Obama to enforce the law as written." "Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue."

I, Robert, think that Obama's use of executive order is kind of a non issue. Instead, I think a lot of T-Party style Republicans have been rattled for years, including during the Bush years, by illegal immigration. This has created a "build the wall rather than reform immigration" mindset in much of Congress. There's enough "build the wall" mindset in Congress to block reform regardless of what Obama does.

It's true that some of that political mindset comes from the fact that over many years, more people have wanted to come to USA to live and work than are legally allowed by the number set in our quota for legal immigration. This was a big issue during the Bush years, ironically more than during the Obama years. Changing demographics and other factors have slowed the flow of illegal immigration during Obama's watch. Former President Bush was also hoping for immigration reform, but even he ran into congressional inaction against his proposal for a guest worker program.

Seems like everyone talks around the true issues. It has to due with certain times in our history when more people want to come to USA than our legal quotas for immigration allow. We should be asking, is the quota for legal immigration too low and not reflecting the reality of farm jobs and so forth in this country? On the other hand, maybe this country is starting to get too crowded. Maybe we are just experiencing being part of a planet that's still having population growth.

Article in Yahoo News that inspired this comment.

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's a little late, but now they are saying Bush Senior worried about sectarian division in Iraq as a reason not to go all the way, so to speak

Now they tell us.

I hear that George Bush Senior didn't go into Baghdad to topple Saddam Hussein, during Iraq war 1, because he know that destroying the Iraqi government would just lead to the type of sectarian fighting which we're seeing today.

Why wasn't this talked about before Bush Junior started the second Iraq war? Back then, people thought Bush Senior didn't go into Baghdad because it wasn't called for in the UN mandate. That mandate only called for pushing Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. Back then, a lot of people thought, "if we could only unseat Saddam Hussein, the Iraqis could build a democracy." People thought that only the limited nature of the UN mandate prevented us from, supposedly, creating a democracy in Iraq during the first war so Bush Junior thought "just no UN mandate, what a flimsy reason, let's go ahead and do it."

Well now, hindsight is better than foresight. People are saying Bush Senior thought all along that the ethnic situation in Iraq was unsolvable. If we had known that all along, maybe the second Iraq war could have been prevented.

I know, there was also the weapons of mass destruction myth and so forth, but at least the "let's bring them democracy and free them from that dictator" myth could have been avoided. I even almost bought that myth, myself, admittedly.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

When people in Iraq keep fighting each other, we are probably best to stay out

I hear in the news that the insurgents taking over in northern Iraq are even worse than Al Qaeda. Even kicked out of Al Qaeda for being too brutal. How can anything be worse than Al Qaeda? Wasn't Al Qaeda about as bad as one can get? I guess Iraq doesn't work as one country. Trying to hold it together is just a waste of money, not to mention lives. Iraq is Kurdish in the north, Sunni in north central and Shiite in the south. The most stable part is the Kurdish area. I think Iran is trying to hold Iraq together, or at least keep the Shiite leaders in power. If we (USA) do the same, we are strange bedfellows to Iran. History makes strange bedfellows. I doubt there is much we can do. Iraq is bound to disintegrate for now, except for the Kurdish section. That part seems most stable of all.

On the other hand, remember Somalia being a mess? I now hear that it's starting to get better. They're just starting to get tired of killing each other, and/or the most violent have killed one another off.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What does World Naked Bike Ride have to do with global warming? Is it a shaky philosophical stretch? My own reasons to ride.

Why bike nude, or even semi nude? There are about as many answers to this question as people who participate in the WNBR rides in various cities around the world. It's certainly an attention getter. In this world of "information overload" nude and colorful cyclists aren't as easy to ignore as a stack of manifestos.

Many will say that it's a protest against the use of fossils and global warming, but others would ask, "what does nudity have to do with global warming?" Some will say it's about body freedom and casting off the barriers, such as clothing, that often divide us.

The concept of vulnerability comes up also. Demonstrating the vulnerability of soft human bodies among the hard steel environment of cars; like the phrase "visualize bicycles." In a way, that seems like kind of a negative message. Might scare people away from bicycling in the world of steel automobiles, but there is another aspect to stepping outside the cover. Coming out of the shell can also mean exposing oneself to other people as well as positive experiences.

Going places on bike, foot, or even public transit can open one up to meeting more people. Chance conversations from stopping beside friends along a trail versus being inside the box of an automobile fighting freeway traffic. Fellow cyclists and walkers can be opportunities for interaction, versus morons blocking traffic. Last time I biked around Lake Padden, here in Bellingham, (I had my cloths on) I stopped and visited with 5 people I knew along the trail. That's partially from living in a fairly small area where I know a large percent of the population, but also it's from getting outside the box and being seen. Boxes can be suburban homes, cars or whatever. The bike is a friendly way to go.

Still, people wonder why WNBR riders go so far as to expose their genitals? Again, there are as many answers as there are people who do the rides. Not everyone goes that far. Many of the riders are actually clothed. Some, like me, wear scanty clothing (though I was more nude for the dance). Also the body paint is a big part of the rides. It's kind of like a town parade. While not everyone is painted, some of the body art is incredible. Brings lots of smiles to passersby. In 2014, Bellingham ride took place during the monthly Art Walk Friday.

Some of the riders who expose their genitals try and say that it's not related to eroticism, but I might ask, who are we trying to kid? Eroticism is a part of life and it could be the biggest draw for crowds watching the rides as well as viewing the many photos that go on line afterwards. I say, might as well use the erotic draw for something positive. Eroticism is used to sell cars, televisions and then the weight loss programs needed by folks who sit all day. Why not use this psychological energy to promote bicycling and other active lifestyles? I once heard an ad for a sleek sports car that said, "the shape you want to be in." How about promoting bicycling lifestyles in this way. Think of all the money people spend on diets.

Once we encourage more folks to bike, for personal reasons such as health and fitness, or meeting interesting folks, there is less fossil fuel burned when people are biking rather than driving. There's a connection.

Of course one need not be a supermodel to be part of the rides. It's for everyone of all shapes and sizes and its non competitive.

I think there is a big connection between dancing and bicycling and I'm glad the Bellingham WNBR ride ended with a great dance, this year (2014). If one can bike, one can dance and if one dances, especially through the dreary winter months, one is ready for biking come better weather. Both dancing and biking are good ways to keep the cobwebs from forming in our minds and bodies and also to get out and mingle with some fun folks.

My Flickr gallery from the local rides.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Another fun WNBR ride in Bellingham, 2014

An estimated 190 rode this time and possibly 1,000 lined the streets. Biggest WNBR ride in Bellingham's history.

Stay tuned for more photos and ideas. I didn't take quite as many pictures as on other rides. Too busy having a good time to work on the logistics of camera.

Here is an image someone took of me that turned out nice. I was only partially nude on the street, but totally nude for part of the dance. Maybe the dance was the best part. High energy, good music. A band named Br'er Rabbit and then a DJ. Even some old style favorites from the disco era. People throwing the leftover paint at each other.

I danced barefoot for a while, which people are asked to do at the free form dances in dance studios that I go to. Problem here is that there was gravel under the straw that they laid out on the outdoor dance space. For some people, lying on a bed of nails can be pleasure, but not as much for me, so I put my shoes back on. Most folks had their shoes on, but some neo-hippies still went barefoot.

It sure was a lot of fun clear till midnight. Maybe the dance being the best part, but all of the event was fun.

I feel very fortunate to still be enjoying the energy at this stage in my life and also fortunate for the diverse group of accepting people who did the ride, volunteered, watched the ride and the community of Bellingham for allowing it. Special thanks to Zach Roberson for being at the focal point of the rides each year.

Some of my images from the rides in Bellingham.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Bellingham naked and clothing optional ride on Friday June 6th 2014

Very good article in Bellingham Herald. Interview with my friend Zach.

The sixth annual Naked Bike Ride on Friday, June 6, will, in fact, have people wearing clothes.

"A lot of people plan to wear clothes," said Zach Robertson, one of the event organizers. "It's 'clothing optional,' so no one has to go naked. It's more of a space for people who want to be naked to be naked."

Body painting starts at 4 p.m. and there will be a legal debrief and a raffle before the bike ride at 6 p.m.

The route is set to start at the Hub Community Bike Shop on North State Street and loop around downtown on streets including Holly Street, F Street, Dupont Street and Railroad Avenue. Click here for a map of the exact route.

Everyone is welcome to participate in the bike ride regardless of how they feel about their body, Robertson said.

"I hear a lot of people say, 'No, my body's not good enough for this,' and it makes me sad," he said. "It's through the naked bike ride that you realize the human body is not very exotic and it's also not taboo. It's mundane."

The naked ride starts a lot of important conversations, Robertson said. For example, there's not much difference between a bicyclist wearing clothes and a bicyclist not wearing clothes, but the ride draws attention to driving safety around bicyclists. It's also an opportunity to talk about issues with fossil fuels and body image. Those, organizers say, are the reasons behind the ride, which is part of a worldwide movement.

Robertson said he hasn't heard anyone accuse them of looking for an excuse to go naked in public, but social change often brings criticism.

"We're looking to be as gentle and communicative with people as possible. When you're doing something different, there's often a critique," he said. "But it raises a conversation that needs to be had."

About 120 people participated in the bike ride last year, Robertson said. This year Chelle Beautiful will be available to body paint anyone who calls in advance at 360-599-5036.

See more details on web site.

Link to article.