Monday, October 30, 2006


Commentator Andy Rooney concluded “60 Minutes” on Sunday, October 29, 2006 with a commentary on the names of towns and places across America. He concluded with the statement, “I only like to go to cities I’ve been to before so I’ll probably never get to Fargo, North Dakota.

I spent 2001 living on the side of a mountain between Ouray and Ridgway, Colorado. Prior to that I lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota for most of my adult life with a two-year stint in Chicago. The time in Colorado fulfilled a dream and when it was finished, I packed up my jeep and trailer and headed East. I decided I would stay in Fargo for a while as I had no where I had to be.

Initially I had the typical stereotype of Fargo: the end of the world, nothing to do, cold and lonely, and the people talk funny. I didn't know if I would like it here. It turned out that I love it here: the air is clean, the sunsets big, crime is minimal, the people nice, and a traffic jam means it takes you five minutes longer to get to your destination. I have cable television and high speed internet. I saw Springsteen here and hope the Fargo Dome will get another concert one of these days. I work as a consultant and some of the best leaders I've ever met are in Fargo. I am a day from Yellowstone and just east of me is Minnesota lakes country. I also rediscovered Northern League baseball from my youth and am a big fan of the Fargo/Moorhead Red Hawks; they are winners. In a time of voluntary simplicity, I cannot ask for more.

I've now been here for four years. The first blindness of romance has worn off, and I've seen some of the dark side of Fargo: the Scandinavians are tight with a dollar, can be hard to get a reaction from, and they really make a big deal of high school graduations in this part of the world. Graduation gives everyone an excuse to fix up the house periodically as the kids grow up. When one of your kids graduates, you plan on eating the left-over shredded pork for many months.

After being in Fargo for a while I told a brother about it and he said, "You sound like the Chamber of Commerce." I realized that I really liked it here. He said, "Too bad you have such cold winters." I replied, "It keeps the California 'riff-raff' out of here (he is from Carmel, California).

Besides with global warming, Fargo will become the next hot real estate market.I decided to stay, got married, and we live across the Red River and about 100 yards from Fargo in south Moorhead, Minnesota. Our home is along the river in a natural setting within the city. Wild turkeys are regular visitors.

Stay away Andy Rooney; help us keep our secret.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006



I watched with admiration as President Bush used a press conference in the East Room of the White House today (October 25, 2006) for a campaign-stop style political news conference.

Iraq was the topic, and the President was impressive: forceful, confident, and a true-believer in his war, which he says is the calling of this generation. Mr. Bush was shrewd, showed a depth of thought, and a connection with reality in Iraq that I have not seen during this Presidency of arrogant incompetence.

The President’s goal is to remain in Iraq until the Iraqi government is a sustainable democracy able to stand on its own against threats internal and from its neighbors. The President is setting “benchmarks” (goals) to measure the Iraqi government’s progress. Under the circumstances, the President’s strategy makes sense and he has clearly put more thought to it than ever before; however, two fatal flaws undermine his strategy.

First, there are not enough troops on the ground in Iraq to control the nation’s borders, disarm the country, and provide safety and services to Iraqi citizens. Absent security for citizens to live a basic life, political progress in Iraq is doomed to failure.

Second, the vision of a unified Iraq asks the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds (and tribes, clans, and families within those groups) to put aside their religious, geographic, and cultural identities and to embrace, fight, and die for an Iraqi national identity.

We know from the study of groups that people are the masters of their personal identities. We call this freedom. Only I can choose to change who I am. If you try to change who I am, I will fight you directly, or I will comply and fight you in passive/aggressive ways.

We can train a proud Marine in thirteen weeks and they fight heroically. We spend years training Iraqi soldiers and police and they run away or refuse to fight. We cannot understand why. They are not cowards. They just care more about their sect, tribe, clan, and family than they do about Iraq. They have chosen their identities. That is their human right.

This leads to the deeper, underlying failure of the Bush administration in Iraq: the failure to see reality as it is and the failure of imagination. Iraq is the wrong war. The right strategy in the wrong war is doomed to failure. The right war against terrorism is the war for energy independence.

The nation(s) that makes the quantum leap from a petroleum based life to energy sources that will rescue our planet from global warming, will lead the world to a renaissance of relationships with our natural world, with people in other nations, and with our own lives and aspirations. A national vision of renewal and energy independence would engage our citizens in the several Manhattan Projects needed to deal with the overwhelming number of issues that face our nation.

With energy independence, we can eliminate the biospheric threat of global warming and the strategic probability of wars over diminishing oil supplies. We can abandon our dependence on the Middle East and let people there choose the lives they want for themselves. Without the United States to blame for their problems, they will be more likely to see their leaders as the source of their problems and outrage. And we can renew our country in the process.

Energy independence is the right war for our planet and against terrorism and is the calling for our generation—not the war in Iraq as President Bush asserts.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


The climate crisis is a true planetary emergency, wrote Al Gore in "An Inconvenient Truth."

Reality is:

Our planet:

Record temperatures,
Powerful hurricanes,
Melting glaciers and ice-caps, and much more.

Our relationships:

Conflict in the oil producing Middle East,
Terrorist threats to oil production,
China’s burgeoning demand for oil,
Record gas prices until election time, and much more.

We and our machines are altering nature. Global warming is real. It isn’t coming; it is here. Anyone who says it isn’t is intellectually dishonest, and their motives must be challenged. When we change the atmosphere, the global transformation we talk about is now biospheric. Nature is no longer an independent force; people are the most powerful force, and we are destroying our home.

We place our freedom at risk as we destroy our home. Americans are energy pigs. We consume a quarter of the world’s oil supply and import more than 60% of what we consume. Every gallon of gasoline we buy pays a terrorist to kill us and puts 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

We consume our biomass like crazed addicts. We do not understand or seem to care that we are interconnected to all of life—our waste is needed by billions of people just like us. We endanger everyone on this planet and future generations for all time. The United States is in danger of moving from being the beacon of hope in the world to being the villain of the planet as we destroy our home. As we remain dependent on fossil fuels, we give up our freedoms and deplete our treasury to protect ourselves. We diminish ourselves as a culture and as people.

Our way of life is not sustainable on a planet of finite resources and a sensitive and varnish thin atmosphere. We approach the limits of what we can do to ourselves and survive. Is the legacy we want to leave for those who come after us?

Despite the evidence, most political leaders continue to deny our peril. History will judge our politicians and the rest of us harshest for the fundamental failure to see reality as it is, our failure to adapt to the world around us, and our failure of imagination if we do not change.

We elect our politicians at all levels. They mirror us. Our leaders do not ask more of us. We don’t want to give more of ourselves. We are responsible. Our political leaders carry a heavy burden into the judgment of history. So do the adults of our society.

It is time for us to be one with the rest of the world and to live within the limits of nature as together we meet this moral, ethical, and spiritual challenge. We need to “leapfrog” our crises and visualize a new and vital way of living together on this planet. We share a universal responsibility to do so and to do so soon.

The core question is: “Can we react and adapt to what we now know is true fast enough to minimize the damage to life?

As we prepare to vote on November 7, 2006, I hope we ask our leaders what they want for our nation, our grandchildren, and our world. I hope George W. Bush is our last “petro president.” All future candidates, whatever the political party, need to be renewal candidates who are pro-environment AND pro-business AND pro-humanity.

We fight the wrong war in Iraq; the right war is the war for energy independence.

Make your vote count.