Archive for June, 2015

McKibben Gives Obama & Clinton Climate Change Reviews & To Do Lists

 Bill McKibben  Read these:  I don’t know if we are going to have any chance in changing environmental policies in the US then we have to count on the Democrats.  But progress, although mostly in the correct direction, has moved much too slowly.  In the two articles below 350.org’s Bill McKibben writes 2 very different letters to President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton.  He focuses on what each has done / not done, and what the climate crisis requires.  Basically he gives them each an environmental review and to do list going forward.  Check these out and consider his points as mandatory policy guidelines for each candidate you support.


Letter to President Barack Obama:  Here Bill describes learning how the process works.  He then gives Obama “credit where credit is due”, goes into some detail as to “why this has not been enough” and finally gives him a “checklist for his final 18 months”.

http://grist.org/politics/mckibben-to-obama-you-still-have-time-to-be-a-climate-champion-but-not-much/


Letter to Secretary Hillary Clinton:  Here Bill reviews the highlights of what Clinton has done to date, provides “five reasons environmentalists distrust her”, lists “seven ways she could win some green stripes” and finishes by identifying “How she could really shift the climate tide”

http://grist.org/politics/mckibben-to-clinton-here-are-7-things-you-need-to-do-to-clean-up-your-climate-act/

 

 

 

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The Two Party Stranglehold on American Politics

 Politics  

Read this:  In this article from The Nation Magazine by John Nichols the rigid two party system in US politics is visited.  Most of us have voiced or at least wondered why we don’t have more than two “really viable” political parties in the America while so many other democracies aroud the world do.  Nichols focuses on Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein who “this week formally launched her second presidential bid”.  For the Green Party to have any chance Dr. Stein says there needs to be a “deep system change, moving from the greed and exploitation of corporate capitalism to a human-centered economy that puts people, planet and peace over profit.”  Could the 2016 presidential race finally open the door enough for additional voices to actually participate in the debate?  We might be closer than we have been for a long time, maybe ever.   “The overwhelming response to the bid by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination suggests the potential for dissident candidacies that challenge the political, social, and economic status quo.”  Even if Senator Sanders meets the predicted end to his campaign, could a visible role for a 3rd party such as the Green Party and Dr. Stein find a place at the table with our two standard fortresses of power?  As usual, there are barriers and roadblocks everywhere.  “This year, Stein is starting early by joining other third-party contenders who have been excluded from CPD debates as plaintiffs in a historic legal challenge to the commission’s practices. Initiated by the group Level the Playing Field, the lawsuit seeks to open up the 2016 debates to alternative candidates and alternative views.”  I hope the political process becomes more open, flexible, and free.  I want more voices and I want the big 2 to be forced to deal with different ideas.  They have controlled too much for far too long.


http://www.thenation.com/blog/210785/green-jill-stein-fighting-open-debates-and-real-democracy#

 

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Energy Is A Commodity Moving to Technology

 Renewable Energy  Read this:  This Sierra Club / Green Alpha article may help us understand why there is such a battle around our move from fossil fuels to renewable energies.  It begins by stating “we now live in a global economy with two fundamentally different types of energy: commodity-based in the form of fossil fuels and uranium, and technology-based, represented primarily by solar and wind. That observation is interesting as far as it goes, but what does it mean?”  Over time commodity based energies become more expensive whereas technology based (renewable) energy becomes less expensive.  The article asks the question “how much of the energy we pour into the economy is productive and how much is wasted?”  The article says that we must not continue to weaken our economies, “There will, before long, be such an abundance of renewable energy available that we need to start asking how it can best be deployed to maximize economic gains. Measuring where energy goes, and what is done with it when it gets there, will become more important than where it comes from.”  It is a very different way to view something we have taken for granted and there is a lot to think about in this article – well worth a concerted read.


http://www.sierraclub.org/green-alpha/2015/06/energy-commodity-technology-and-how-it-changes-everything

 

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Voices Swap To Help You Hear

 Video  Watch this:  This Daily KOS article and video by Faith Gardner illustrates how sometimes you need to shock your audience a bit to get them to focus and really hear what you have to say.  It is a simple concept, but beautifully executed.  Two Eastern Michigan University students, Darius Simpson and Scout Bostley speak for each other.  One is a young black man and the other a young white woman.  They are both speaking about privilege but a different perspective and as they swap roles you somehow better hear what they are saying.


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/24/1396071/-A-black-man-and-a-white-woman-switch-mics-and-the-result-is-amazing?

 

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Guns, Guns, Everywhere a Gun

 Guns  Read, watch & cry:  I recently attended a meeting discussing violence and gun control in the US.  There were speakers representing several of the recent shootings across the US.  A father who lost his daughter at the UC Santa Barbara tragedy, speakers touched by the Arora incident in Colorado, representatives from the Brady organization, etc..  Unbelievable stories and the statistics on gun violence in the US were staggering.  I have consistently supported increased regulations on the use of guns and this meeting made me realize we all need to do more.  For some reason, I left with the overall thought that we are making progress, although very slowly.  The article below in The Daily KOS by Leslie Salzillo is just dumbfounding.  It shows I / we have no idea how massive and bizarre the push to spread guns everywhere in the US really is.  Satirically and yet sadly and truthfully, Michael Moore shows a bank in Michigan that gives you a free gun (many to choose from) if you open up a new CD account.  NO, you might be thinking.  Sure enough, Michael opens an account and walks out with a gun.  What could go wrong, it’s America?  Further emphasizing the mentality of the gun enthusiast is Michael’s previous video “Bowling for Columbine” that opens with Charelton Heston’s famous 5 word quote “From My Cold Dead Hands”.  I guess all of the other dead hands don’t seem to matter much.  If this moves you, stop thinking about it.  Find a anti-gun violence organization and get active.


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/22/1395147/-Michael-Moore-Tweets-Out-To-Every-Racist-War-Mongering-Pseudo-Christian-Right-Wing-Gun-Extremist?

 

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What Do You Mean I Can’t Have Any Water?

 Clean Water  Read this:  This article in Mother Jones Magazine by Julia Lurie provides some real perspective on the worldwide water crisis.  It shows that “humans are depleting more than half of the world’s 37 largest aquifers at unsustainable rates, and there is virtually no accurate data showing how much water is left.”  In the US we have the impression the water crisis is a California thing.  But it is not so simple.   A recent study in the journal Water Resources Research, gave a depressing prognosis based on satellite data: “eight aquifers, primarily in Asia and Africa, were qualified as over stressed,’ meaning they had nearly no natural replenishment.”  NO NATURAL REPLACEMENT!  Many other aquifers are “quickly disappearing” and others (like California) are “‘extremely’ or ‘highly’ stressed, with some natural replenishment but not enough to make up for growing demand.”  This message is never told as we watch the news and the narrative is primarily political.  Science is seldom involved and then there are the endless commercials by our Fossil Fuel friends painting their portraits with colored praise.  Instead we should be informed that “the growing demand on water, exacerbated by overpopulation and climate change, has led to a situation that is ‘quite critical,'” as Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA states.


http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/06/aquifers-groundwater-world-depleted-california-drought

 

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Starving The Beast

 Budget Cuts  Read this:  This older Daily KOS article by RETIII takes a look at the “real” problem concerning the US budget.  A policy that really came to life during the Reagan presidency.  The “prime reason why we have a budget deficit problem in this country is because Republicans almost universally believe in a nonsensical idea called starve the beast.”  The author describes his frustration when writing about the deficit that often forces him to “stop because none of it makes any sense whatsoever if you don’t acknowledge and discuss the larger Republican plan to ‘Starve the Beast’.”  The primary tool, cutting taxes – inevitably starves the beast.  But “let’s be clear, ‘Starve the Beast’ is not about cutting government spending; it is about starving government spending for social programs that Republicans don’t like.”  This policy has almost taken on a life of it’s own, but be assured, the conservative right and specifically the 1%, actively push this rigid agenda and “while it originally focused on tax cutting as a tool, it has mutated to the larger ‘hostage crisis’,” being used on almost any conservative issue.  The article concludes asking “if this was the Republicans’ openly acknowledged view, and it worked, so be it. But why the hell is it not reported, and why aren’t Republicans forced to defend it?”  Read more and observe as this policy is continually applied in our various levels of government, remembering that while we are “starving the beast”, that money is going somewhere else.


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/05/07/1374280/-Why-Will-No-One-Democrats-or-Media-Acknowledge-The-Republican-Starve-The-Beast-Plan

 

 

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Shell Spills Constantly – Arctic Spills Will Not Be Good

 Alaska Drilling Shell  Sign the petition:  The environmental group Sierra Rise emphasizes a simple fact about Shell’s scheduled drilling in the arctic: Shell has a history of constantly spilling.  “Last year alone, Shell reported 204 spills in the Niger Delta.”  These “accidents” cost them millions in fines, and this was only one site.  Furthermore, Shell’s problems have not been “confined to the land and water, of course. Gas flares, bright and widespread enough to be seen from space, cause toxic particles to clog people’s lungs…affected by oil pollution in the air, soil, drinking water, and fisheries.”  Shell has even been suspected of “assassinations in which Shell was rumored to have participated. While Shell continues to deny any involvement in the hanging of nine anti-oil campaigners, including prominent author Ken Saro-Wiwa, the corporation ended up paying $15.5 million to the activists’ relatives.”There are many reasons to be against this drilling:  As this article points out, Shell has a history that cannot be trusted but most importantly the reserves already identified by the Fossil Fuels industries accounts for more than 5 times the amount of carbon that has been deemed safe to add to our atmosphere.  Going beyond that will ensure a rise in global temperatures beyond the 2 degrees C agreed upon by countries in the G8.  We simply do not need the reserves we have and cannot risk burning them, much less add more to those collective reserves.

Sign this petition “Tell President Obama not to allow Shell to further their devastation in the Arctic” and stay active on this issue.

https://secure.sierraclub.org/site/Advocacy?page=UserAction&id=16027&s_src=915FSRSP07_NSRSR&sp_ref=128822987.5.14332.e.0.2&s_subsrc=email

 

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Federalist Society

Federalist Society


Read and watch:  The coordinated and stealth moves that have been made by the right since the early 1970’s to effectively stop gains by the left and control the legal and economic paths within the American democracy are really quite amazing.  What makes you marvel even more as you begin to learn about one piece or another is how comprehensive and well executed the hole effort has been.  I advocate for the Move To Amend initiative and continue to learn more about the evils of “corporate person-hood” all the time, but there are so many pieces in the puzzle that have lead to that overwhelming misapplication of the US constitution it is just amazing.  While listing some of the early conservative tools, I talked about The Powell Memorandum and ALEC as being extremely significant and they are.  Recently, however, I stumbled on another tool that began early as well and has had and continues to have massive influence over our laws and particularly the conservative application of our laws all the way to the Supreme Court.  That tool is called the Federalist Society, an organization that began in the early 1980’s and a couple of it’s earliest members are two people you may be familiar with: Lewis Powel (Powell Memo & previous Supreme Court) and Samuel Alito (current Supreme Court) but there are many more also positioned to influence laws.  The Federalist Society doesn’t act like a traditional political group seeking power would.  It doesn’t lobby, file briefs and other common methods.  Instead it focuses on indirect methods: strict training of lawyers (eventual judges) to think and apply the law according to a certain interpretation of the constitution – “originalist” interpretations.  Once on the bench they can and do affect changes in law.

To learn more on this watch the two videos below or read the book by Amanda Hollis-Brusky, “Ideas With Consequences – the Federalist Society and Conservative Counterrevolution”.


Thom Hartman interview on the Federalist Society

Interview with Amanda Hollis-Brusky

author of “Ideas With Consequences – the Federalist Society and Conservative Counterrevolution”

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The Art of the Climate Change Message

 Climate Change Art  Check this out:  I often wonder how to get people to pay attention to important issues and maybe even get involved in them.  Accordingly, Climate Change is at the very top of my list of critical issues and I am dumbfounded by the level of apparent apathy on this topic.  So what to do?  Sometimes a totally different tactic might be an answer, for some people at least.  I stumbled on the attached article from The Daily KOS by David Harris Gershon and thought, wow this is really cool.  As I thought longer, it occurred to me that this might just click for some people and make the whole issue become a little more real.  As Mr. Gershon says in the article, this is “a perfect metaphor for climate change inaction: from afar, it’s easy to ignore and dismiss, but zoom in and the crisis is clear.”.  If there is anything the story of Climate Change needs it is to make it “real”, “now” and “urgent” for more people.  Art that we usually never hear about and then discover can totally amaze us.


https://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/05/07/1297486/-The-Most-Striking-Climate-Change-Sculpture-You-ll-Ever-See?

 

 

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