July 10th, 2004 ~ Recently, I had been thinking long and hard about our nation's dependence on foreign oil and how that dependency binds us to avaricious and unscrupulous men; men who are every bit as dangerous to America's future as any Columbian drug lord or street pusher.  That thought, in turn, made me realize our dependence is truly an addiction and with that insight, I was struck by how eerily similar today's unholy alliances between Big Oil and Middle East regimes like the Saudis are to that between the multinational opium trade and the Qing bureaucracy of the Dowager Empress of China in 1900.
      The Dowager Empress was the second to last imperial ruler of China.  She attempted to prop up her failing reign by aligning her government with the Western powers who had come to occupy large sections of her country.  The spheres of influence those Western powers carved out of China quickly became poppy-based profit centers under their ruthlessly efficient management and the Empress' cash-starved bureaucracy shared in those profits as well as the military protection their armies provided against an increasingly disenfranchised people.
      The corruption and brutality of this alliance soon led to an uprising known as the Boxer Rebellion and while the Empress publicly condemned atrocities committed by the Boxers against Westerners, her government secretly supported their efforts to drive the Westerners out of China.  Her hope was that she could sustain her throne on the lucrative drug trade the Westerners had developed without having to share the profits, or rationalize their military occupation.
      Doesn't that sound familiar?  Are we, today, any less addicted to foreign oil than the millions addicted to opium at the dawn of the 20th century?  Are the Saudi royals and their fellow Princes of Petrol any less duplicitous than the Dowager Empress of yesterday and for many of the same reasons?  And like any addicts, do we not make ill-starred decisions, motivated more by our addiction than by good sense?
      We can; we MUST beat this addiction.  It's costing us our lives, it's costing us our jobs, it's costing us our American values, our Constitutional liberties, our future.  I believe that nuclear fusion power is critical to breaking our addiction.  I have no idea, at this point, how either John Kerry or John Edwards view nuclear fusion power in terms of energy policy.  I DO know that the current Bush/Cheney administration has done everything in its power to co-opt and side-track fusion research while pretending to support it.  Their Energy Secretary, Spencer Abraham, has served the oil cartel well in that regard.
      Mssrs. Kerry and Edwards would serve their campaign and America well by championing domestic fusion power and other cutting-edge energy technologies, to free us from our addiction.  Please don't misunderstand me.  Oil will always have a key role in American life as the basis of our plastics and petrochemicals industries; much as opiate-based pharmaceuticals are invaluable to the medical community in helping burn victims and other seriously injured patients survive and recover.  Like any strong medicines, however, either can lead to life-shattering addictions and worse when those controlling the supply care only about the bottom-line.
      When addicts beat their addiction, they usually say they've "gone clean".  With helium the ONLY byproduct of a fusion powerplant and no chance of a meltdown or radioactive waste, no polluting hydrocarbons in our air or water, no landscapes stripped to bare rock, you can't get much cleaner.
      But going clean means much more than just the physical boon of beating an addiction.  Going clean means cleansing our American Spirit of the diseased associations we maintain to feed that addiction.  Going clean means our foreign policy would once more serve America's best interests, not our worst.  Going clean means our economy would no longer be bound by OPEC's price per barrel, but only by our own imaginations and genius.
      Please let your Senators and Representatives know - let John Kerry and John Edwards know - we want to beat our addiction to Middle East oil with fusion power; we want to "go clean".  We are the most creative and industrious people on Earth.  We built a small sun within five years and put footprints on the Moon within ten.  With the advanced state of current domestic fusion prototypes, the ONLY reason we cannot have working fusion powerplants within the next five years is an active campaign to delay or prevent them.
      Let them know we are NOT the rubes of 1900.  The opium cartel had their own media and political operatives to "explain" why we needed to keep sending young men and women into harm's way in China.  I seriously doubt they ever mentioned the real agenda behind their foreign policy.  Today's beltway insiders are even more adept at manipulating the truth about the oil cartel's agenda.  Fusion power is VERY scary to that cartel.  Too much of the research is in the public sector, too hard to control, too hard to bury.
      Let your elected representatives know we are not fools.  We will not tolerate ten or twenty more years of blood for oil.  We will not settle for their so-called "clean initiatives" like coal gasification.  We will not accept America's few remaining wild places turned into lifeless tarpits.  We will certainly not buy the monumental hubris that their fission reactor waste can be safely contained for the next 10,000 years.
      Going clean is hard.  It means pitting a 21st Century nation against the 19th Century machinations of the Oil Barons and the 12th Century nightmares of their bedouin buddies.  Are we up to the challenge?  Can we afford not to be?

      July 4th, 2004 ~ Looking forward to this evening's Independence Day fireworks, I came across a small, but flashy preview to those fireworks on CNN this morning, as Bill Press and Christoper Hitchens went toe-to-toe over Michael Moore's latest film, "Fahrenheit 9/11" . While Press readily acknowledged Moore as a left-wing "polemicist", he defended the essential truthfulness of the film.  Hitchens, meanwhile, reiterated his own somewhat polemical article at Slate.com, "Unfairenheit 9/11".
      One of Hitchen's more inflammatory claims about the film is that Moore presents the bloodthirsty butchers of Islamic terrorism as freedom fighters and revolutionaries instead of the twisted sickos they really are. Not having seen the film yet, I can only point out to Mr. Hitchens that this is EXACTLY what the Reagan and elder Bush administrations did back in the 1980's and early 90's with their not-so-covert support of the mujahidin "freedom fighters" in their Afghan war against the Soviets; support which allowed the Taliban to seize control of that country and provide a safe harbor for Usama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda training camps.
      Press, in his turn, seemed a tad too eager to forgive Moore any cooking of the facts which he might have allowed into his documentary.  Naturally, I cannot comment on such allegations until I've seen the film for myself; which I hope to do tomorrow.  I can say, though, that with the wealth of hard evidence one could marshall against this administratation's four years of arrogance, secrecy, and mendacity, it would certainly be sad if not ironic for Moore to indulge in the same sort of shady practices as this administration just to get his point across.
      Wishing you and yours a safe and happy Fourth of July!