Archive for November, 2015
Read this: Election after election we liberals / progressives frequently find ourselves “shaking …(our) heads in dismay as yet another mean-spirited red-state Republican manages to defeat the Democrat by essentially promising to make his own constituents’ lives more miserable. Afterwards we all intone the familiar refrain which boils down to ‘these people don’t know any better’.” Well the article linked below from The Daily KOS, by Dartagnan examines this specific dilemma and comes to conclusions that Democrats / liberals / progressives need to pay attention to. It seems the Republicans figured this out quite a while ago and have taken advantage.
Dartagnan cites Alec MacGillis, who covers politics for ProPublica, wondering the same thing, then ” took a tour through deep red America, asking the same questions”. This is what he found:
- “[T]he people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period.”
- “The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder …(a resentment) in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net”
Read the whole article to get a much more complete idea. Seems we liberals need to really take note and find aways to expand a lightly taped potential base.
Read this: Keeping an eye on the results of man made disasters is essential. It is part of our responsibility as citizens in a democracy. After a disaster we are all amazed, upset and demand justice, but then we slowly stop paying attention and soon forget. Sadly this is to the benefit of those who cause those disasters, particularly large corporations. The BP Oil Spill is a classic case of this neglect by us all. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has continued to monitor this disaster and says “The extensive research on the impacts of the BP Oil Spill were kept private until the case was closed against BP. Now that the report is public, some of the effects are much worse than estimated. We broke the report down into the most crucial data.” The link below to an article from the NWF, by Ryan Fikes briefly details 16 types of damage along with the severity of each. We as citizens expect our national leaders to ensure that these disasters are corrected, but we are naive. The required actions occur minimally at best and often much too late. We need to realize it is up to us to make sure does. As the CEO of the NWF said: ” Helping the Gulf of Mexico recover from this unprecedented disaster should be a national priority. Ultimately, as much as $16 billion in criminal penalties, the RESTORE Act dollars, and the Oil Pollution Act fines will be available for restoration efforts across the Gulf. Ensuring that this money goes where it can do the most good will require commitment and coordination—we’re on the ground in all five states working to make sure this happens.”
Read this: Climate Change is so complicated and interconnected it is very hard to even keep up with the basics. So we better have a knowledgeable person leading things in congress. Nope! The GOP leader of the corresponding committee is neither a scientist nor does he believe climate change is real. Only in America can something so dangerous happen! The article in the link below from The Daily KOS, by Pakalolo, tells of yet another hidden feature of climate change that could drastically accelerate its’ effects. This is something known as a “pingo” and specifically sub-sea pingos.
“Pingos are spectacular land forms associated with permafrost in the Arctic. They are circular or elliptical formations protruding from the level ground of the tundra, and can be up to 60 meters high. In essence, they are huge lumps of ice covered with soil. Similar structures are now found strewn on the ocean floor in the Arctic shallow seas.” These formations, previously hidden under giant ice formations are becoming exposed and possibly not stable. This may be “leading to potential blowouts of methane” and as we know methane is much more destructive in our atmosphere than CO2. A recent study “found that the sub sea pingos are much larger than those on land and they suggest that “the mound formed more recently, moving material physically upwards.” Potential dangers are essentially unknown. “During a geotechnical drilling in the close by Pechora Sea, an industry vessel unknowingly drilled a hole into one of these mounds. It triggered a massive release of gas that almost sunk the vessel.” This was scary enough, but the real issue is that we simply “don´t know if the methane expelled from the sub-sea pingos reaches the atmosphere, but it is crucial that we observe and understand these processes better, especially in shallow areas, where the distance between the ocean floor and the atmosphere is short.”
Check out the article and know that we need experts in these fields to lead our national decisions, not political idiots intent on spreading misleading propaganda.
Read this: One of the most frustrating things about politics is the dilemma of getting people (particularly our leaders) to think before reacting to every crisis. When that crisis is something as devastating as terrorism and possible war, we seem to inevitably be driven by the blinders of our reactive selves. Consequences of this are explained well in the article linked below from The Nation Magazine, by Tom Engelhardt, explaining how ISIS has “grasped the dynamics of our world, of what makes us tick and especially what provokes us into our own barbarous acts”. Sadly, as our collective adrenaline sores, we seem to have no ability to rationally choose alternatives. This is insane as Albert Einstein supposedly said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Since 9/11 (2001) the US and much of Europe have been on a campaign of destruction, helping “create five failed states (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen), worlds in which terror groups could thrive and in the chaos of which they could attract ever more recruits”. Paradoxically, the explanation for why these efforts fail is usually that they didn’t go far enough.
After the attacks in Paris, the collective response seems, once again, to be more bombs, more destruction, more and larger failed states, more refugees to blame. Sound familiar? Yes, the record seems to be skipping but will we ever get tired of the same old tune. Read the article for some alternate perspectives.
Watch these: Along with “a network of partners”, Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way have come up with an innovative way to allow citizens to express themselves regarding the Citizens United decision and other tactics which retard democracy in the United States. As their website says, they have created a
“‘$64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge,’ a contest seeking to tap into the creative potential of Americans of all political stripes with short videos in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn cases like Citizens United and get big money out of politics. The goal is two-fold: to encourage activists and filmmakers, both brand-new and experienced, to create videos highlighting the need for money in politics reform, and to use those videos to inspire action in support of the Democracy For All Amendment.”
Judges for the $25,000 grand prize will be:
- Michael Moore: Academy Award winning documentarian
- Norman Lear: legendary television producer and cofounder of People For the American Way
- Kathleen Turner: advocate and Academy Award-nominated actress
- Dolores Huerta: civil rights activist and cofounder of United Farm Workers
- Kelly Nyks: award-winning documentary filmmaker
- Stacey Reiss: Emmy Award-winning television news producer
- Ginna Green: managing director for money in politics and fair courts at nonprofit communications firm ReThink Media.
Take a look at the films already submitted on the link below. I think you will enjoy many of them and it is interesting to see the perspective of individual creators. You might even want to get involved or make a donation.
Read this: If we really don’t believe the famous saying on the Statue of Liberty maybe we should give it back to France, because they sure seem to believe the inscription. It is very troubling to see so much of the American dialogue (in the press and in person) saying we should not accept refugees from the various middle eastern crises. At the same time France, who gave us the Statue of Liberty and was just attacked sees no need to alter what they believe.
The base of our famous Statue of Liberty, on Ellis Island, professes a pledge that we (Americans) love to take credit for. It simply says:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!“
It looks like we don’t necessarily believe everything we say, or at least don’t think it should apply to us. At a time of crisis in France, immediately after they have were attacked, the French showed they mean what they say, while most of our leaders in the USA (particularly the tough guys in the Republican Party) immediately call for shutting down our refugee acceptance programs, state by state and even calling for a national shutdown. Many, if not most of these refugees are fleeing from the very conflicts started by the USA and yet it is “French President Francois Hollande (who) said on Wednesday at a meeting of French mayors that France will accept 30,000 refugees over the next two years, calling it his country’s ‘humanitarian duty’.” Comparatively, the US population is about 316 million while France has only about 67 million, but the USA accepts no responsibilities for these same refugees. What ever happened to American Exceptional-ism and some of the other cliche’s we love to describe ourselves with? Maybe it would be simplest if we removed the plaque from the Statue of Liberty or maybe the statue itself. We could just put signs that say KEEP OUT. Boy would Trump and many in the GOP be proud.
The link below points to a blog from Mother Jones, by Max J. Rosenthal, that tells more on the way the French are stepping up.
Read this: The attached article from The Daily KOS, by FishOutofWater provides a focused look and warning about the current El Niño. “If temperatures continue to rise, or plateau for a few more weeks, this will be the strongest El Niño in history.” This is just another reinforcement of the reality of “Climate Change”.
There are several good charts in the article emphasizing the possibilities that accompany this dynamic weather change. “With this year’s El Niño at record or near record strength NOAA’s CFS climate model predicts a strong southward drop of the storm track off the west coast. A very stormy winter can be expected from California, across the gulf states and up the east coast. This year’s intense jet stream pattern will bring much warmer than normal temperatures to the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.” Since El Niño winters are warm and wet the drought will be helped but don’t expect any long term drought solutions. “California’s water situation will improve but ground water levels are unlikely to rebound to levels seen before the drought began. One year’s rains will not alleviate the long-term water problems caused by the record California drought but reservoir levels will rebound.”
Read the article out and watch for other weather changes affected by the reality of “Climate Change”.
Read this: In the article linked below The Nation Magazines‘ John Nichols discusses the “endorsement of a longtime foe of privatization who supports postal banking”. That would be Bernie Sanders of course. Different from any other candidate, in either party, Bernie has been singing the same song and supporting that with corresponding actions throughout a very long career. As the right has been doing everything in its’ power to weaken the US Postal Service and then eventually force it into privatization so some corporation, or billionaire, can then gut it an reap a nice profit, Bernie, does the socialistic thing and tries to find ways to make it stronger, to ensure stability for postal workers. He just does what is right.
As Nichols points out, the postal workers have taken note as “the American Postal Workers Union endorsement of Bernie Sanders illustrates”. Bernie has been “an ardent foe of privatization, he … has championed the expansion of its (APWU) mission, backing innovative initiatives such as postal banking.” These types of innovation will help to stabilize the US Postal Service after years where conservatives have done everything in their power to weaken it in order to justify calls for privatizing it. The article discusses differences in how labor organizations have backed different candidates, emphasizing the choice made by the APWU. Sanders “decried the fact that ‘the Postal Service is under constant and vicious attack,’ noting that “the same billionaires who want to privatize Social Security, Medicare and public education, also want to privatize the Postal Service.” So they chose Bernie saying “Bernie Sanders is a fierce advocate of postal reform. He staunchly opposes postal privatization, and supports enhanced postal services, including postal banking.” And different from many candidates, he has been doing it his whole political life. So maybe socialism doesn’t always look so bad, huh?
Let’s add voter registration to the services provided by the Postal Service.
Read this: Sometimes a bill being proposed in congress makes so much sense you wonder “why hasn’t that already been done?” Usually that is why. It makes too much sense. Maybe I am a little too cynical here and maybe not. Luckily we now have a very active watchdog in the US Senate, looking for ways to make corrections and call out what is “just not right”.
As she so often does, MA Senator Elizabeth Warren saw an obvious need to correct things. ” For only the third time since 1972, elderly Americans won’t be receiving a cost-of-living increase in their Social Security benefits.” Different from popular Republican myths, Warren knows that the “majority of Social Security recipients don’t have income from other sources, and rely on benefits that are already fairly meager.” That means a cost of living adjustment will hurt, and like the Republican plan so often does, it will hurt those who can least afford it. Warren “and 16 Democratic colleagues have stepped into the breach proposed a bill on Thursday that would provide seniors with a one-time emergency payment of 3.9 percent of annual benefits, which would average out to a $581 payment.” How would we pay for that you ask. It just so happens there is a “hidden benefit for corporate CEO’s that that would virtually fund this benefit for Social Security. This amount “is the exact amount that CEO compensation at the top 350 US firms increased last year. The top 100 CEOs have a combined $4.9 billion saved for retirement, which equals the cumulative retirement savings of 116 million Americans.” What is really amazing is that “those CEO retirement accounts are explicitly subsidized by US taxpayers; the government provides CEOs with special tax-deferred retirement options and unlimited corporate deductions for executive ‘performance pay.’ Almost half of the retirement assets held by Fortune 500 executives are in these tax-deferred plans, which are not available to most of the executive’s employees.” Most of us don’t know about these little perks we are paying for the 1%. Instead our attention is diverted by negative media stories about efforts to help those who are “actually in need”.
Read the article in the link below found in The Nation Magazine, by George Zornick and find ways to support this bill and others like it. Remember, in a democracy it is up to all of us (not just Senator Warren) to constantly watch, participate and battle inequalities.
Read and watch: We have all heard how important and independent media is to a functioning democracy and we silently nod our heads. Sadly that where it ends for most of us. We don’t demand an independent media, nor do we refrain from supporting what qualifies as news today: News / Entertainment. The linked article below from The Nation Magazine, by Leslie Savan looks at part of the problem in this demise. As her subtitle says: “Truth and Spotlight put media at the heart of American democracy and make you wonder about its decline.”
The article focuses on two examples that have recently been made into ” two new films—Truth, about the fumbled 60 Minutes II report that ended Dan Rather’s career at CBS, and, opening Friday, Spotlight, about The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize–winning pursuit of the Catholic clergy child-abuse scandal”. These two examples give a positive portrayal of reporters and the often complexity of delivering some stories. She “portray(s) reporters once more as vital to American democracy, more like Woodstein in 1976’s All the President’s Men.” Often that difficulty can render a story and / or career doomed, regardless of the innate truth and validity of its’ content. A family crisis or the inability to explain something as trivial as discrepancies in font size can derail the story and possibly condemn a career.
Read the entire story below and when you watch the two films continue to be concerned about the diminishing role of real journalism (not entertainment) we are subjected to. Increasingly we must seek out alternative sources for any truth and support them in ways besides merely watching or reading.