Good People Doing Good Things —

I usually focus on every day, average individuals in these ‘Good People’ posts, but on occasion I like to highlight companies, businesses, and organizations that are going above and beyond to make people’s lives a little bit better in one way or another.


In Dubuque, Iowa, there is a school, Alternative Learning Center, that has found a unique way to encourage students to help others.  In lieu of running laps for their physical education credits, students can volunteer to help disabled and senior citizens.

Hitzler-2The learning center is specifically geared towards junior and senior high students who are at risk of dropping out of traditional schools.  Teacher Tim Hitzler is the man behind the program, and he has directly overseen it.  The students volunteer to do yardwork or other chores for those who struggle to do these things themselves.  According to Mr. Hitzler …

“The students and I and other students come out and help them. Could be raking leaves, pulling weeds, cutting grass, cleaning gutters, just depends on what they need. The students aren’t typically too excited at the beginning, but once they get involved and start doing the yard work, they become more motivated. What they really like is … helping people. They really like giving back to people and meeting the person.”

Hitzler-1.pngTurns out this is not Tim Hitzler’s first journey into altruism.  He is also the founder of a non-profit, Key City Creative Center, in Dubuque, that lends space, tools and studios to people to work on a variety of projects.  Veterans are given free membership, others pay a small fee.  As Tim says …

“The tools and the space are very valuable. But the collaboration and the knowledge you get from other people here are where the real value is.”

Take a look …

Thumbs up to Tim Hitzler and the Alternative Learning Center for helping people, and especially for teaching young people the value of being good people, of helping others.


Back in March, I wrote in another ‘good people’ post about a large supermarket chain in the UK, Sainsbury’s, and gave them kudos for being a company that took care of their people.  Well, this week Sainsbury’s is back on my radar for another extraordinary move, this time taking care of the environment.SainsburysThe company has already implemented measures that are leading to a reduction of 8,101 tonnes (that’s 17,859,626 pounds) of non-recyclable plastic and “virgin plastic” every year.  But now, in addition, they have committed to cutting a further 1,284 tonnes (2,830,732 pounds) of plastic from their supply chain over the course of the next year, including plastic cutlery, bags, lids, and trays.

Plastic cutlery will be removed from all their over 1,400 stores as well as plastic trays for asparagus and sweetcorn; plastic cream pot lids; plastic tomato and carrot trays; and plastic sleeves from herb pots.plastic-freeThe company has also committed to replacing their black plastic trays; plastic fruit and vegetable film; PVC and polystyrene trays; and plastic egg trays with recyclable alternatives.

According to Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe …

“We are absolutely committed to reducing unnecessary plastic packaging in Sainsbury’s stores. Our customers expect us to be leading the way on major issues like this, so I am determined to remove and replace plastic packaging where we can and offer alternatives to plastic where packaging is still required to protect a product.”

Yo!  Kroger, Giant, Safeway, Food Lion … are you guys listening???  Thumbs up, once again, to Sainsbury’s!


Mike-Than-Tun-Win.jpegMeet Mike Than Tun Win, a businessman and entrepreneur in Myanmar.  Mike is the founder of Flymya.com, a successful travel agency, and is CEO of BOD Tech Co., Myanmar’s first fully tech-based vehicle financing company.  Sounds just like many a rich capitalist, eh?  But what sets Mike apart is his big heart and the fact that he is using some of his success to help others.

Mike Than Tun Win created a non-profit organization called LessWalk which is buying up the bikes and making them suitable for students, then donating them to underprivileged children across the country who walk miles to school.

“It’s a common sight to see lines and lines of students walking long distances from home to school in rural villages. Some students can walk up to one hour from home to school and the families can hardly afford a simple form of transport like bicycle or motorcycle… a school bus is almost unheard of to the students in rural villages.”

Than was able to purchase the bikes at $40 per bike, costing a total of $400,000. Half of the money for the project has been funded through donations to LessWalk. Than himself provided the rest.

“I’m only halfway through the journey. The remaining 50 percent is making sure we have an impact.”


And, while this final story doesn’t exactly qualify as ‘good people doing good things’, it is heartwarming, and isn’t that, after all, what the good people posts are all about?

Harold Nelson started fishing when he was eight-years-old.  He later joined the military and served in the third infantry during World War II under General George S. Patton. Throughout the war, he made six amphibious invasions and was shot four times.

Ten years ago, when he was a spry 94-years-old, he was on a bus on his way to a casino near his Colorado home when a young lady, Jeanne Gold, happened to sit down next to him.  Jeanne was a spring chicken, only 84 years of age at the time!  The two hit it off, and it was a matter of days ‘til Harold introduced Jeanne to his one true love:  fishing.  Well, she took to it like a fish to water, and the two became boyfriend & girlfriend. Harold-JeanneToday, the couple are still boyfriend/girlfriend, Harold is 104 and going strong, and they still fish together most every day!  Though a gust of wind may knock him over, as it has in the past according to his recollection, Nelson has no plans to hang up his fishing pole anytime soon.

“When I’m pushing up daisies, I’m going to quit fishing.”

Just goes to show, you just never know when or where love will strike, and … you’re never too old to fall in love.  Maybe I’ll go buy me some hip-waders and take a bus ride!paragraph divider 2

An Open Letter To Our Grandchildren

This crossed my radar earlier this week and I saved it to share with you.  It speaks for itself and needs no introduction from me.  At the end, there is a short (3 minute) video clip that I urge you to watch.

We Trashed Your Future: An Open Letter to Grandchildren Everywhere

Dear Grandchildren Everywhere,

It is with immense regret that I must write you this letter of apology for the actions of my generation and previous generations that preceded me. We have trashed your planet and your future, and now we must take responsibility (albeit too late) for the Earth we are passing on to you.

In our quest to conquer nature and stock pile material wealth, we have systemically destroyed Earth’s life support systems, so that a few people could get rich beyond their wildest dreams. We have polluted the land, the rivers and the oceans. We have decimated global biodiversity and caused the climate disaster that now threatens your very survival. And the tragedy is that we knew the facts and realized the consequences of our actions long before we reached the point of no return.

At the time of writing this letter to you, the world’s leaders seem more focused on Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, global trade wars and Brexit than they are on your future. So preoccupied with what might happen tomorrow, they fail to consider the magnitude of what might happen a year, a decade or a generation from now. Needless to say, many of today’s grey-haired politicians will not live to see the dystopian future they have bequeathed you, and perhaps that is part of the bigger problem.

Nevertheless with every passing day we destroy our planet and ourselves through slow and painful destruction. We have created an economic system in which every natural resource is a commodity to be extracted and sold to the highest bidder. Every living tree, drop of oil, pool of water and patch of fertile soil is up for sale. And by the time you grow up, I fear much of what is left today will have been contaminated beyond restoration or have disappeared for good.

Of course, you have the right to feel deep anger and frustration, the right to question why we were so blind to our destructive ways and the right to ask why we did very little to fix Earth’s growing environmental problems while there was still time. I cannot blame you for feeling a deep sense of resentment towards us. We failed to safe-guard your future due to our never ending greed.

But now I ask only one thing: Do whatever you can to restore Earth’s systems and eek out a peaceful future for yourselves. We can only hope you learn from our towering mistakes and succeed where we failed. Sorry and good luck.

Yours Sincerely,

Your Ancestors

Alex-MoxonAlex Moxon is founder of Susticity.com. He is a sustainability and social justice writer with a “pay it forward” attitude, aiming to have a positive, uplifting impact on others in everything he does.

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A Debate Worth Having …

It’s a damn shame.  It’s a damn shame that the lust for power takes precedence over the well-being of the inhabitants of planet Earth.  It is as if the house is on fire, and half the people living in it say, “Oh no, we cannot go out into the street looking like this … we must first put on nicer clothes and fix our hair.”  Helllloooooo … wake up people!  That fire isn’t going to go into a holding pattern while you get prettied up, and climate change cannot be put on hiatus until the politicians make up their minds to grow a pair of cojones!

The latest?  Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, who is one of the many democratic candidates vying for the office of president next year, along with at least five of the other candidates, requested of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that at least one of the presidential debates be devoted to climate change.  Given that climate change is the number one problem facing every nation in the world today and given that our current excuse for a president has, bypassing Congress and using the power of his executive pen, accelerated and exacerbated the effects of climate change, then it makes perfect sense that it should be a major topic of the debates.  However, the DNC is cowering in the corner and says “no”.  WHY?

Because the DNC fears that such a climate-centric debate could force Democratic contenders to confront policy differences they have so far papered over, including how quickly they would push the U.S. to shift away from the fossil fuels that provide jobs — union jobs. The candidates would also face pressure to offer specifics on their position on the Green New Deal, the ambitious progressive climate resolution that Republicans have sought to tar as an expensive socialist boondoggle.  In other words, it is politics as usual.

Let’s get something straight here.  The purpose of these debates is to provide an opportunity for the candidates to share their ideas and platforms, and to help We the People to decide, based on where the candidates stand on a host of issues, which candidate is most closely aligned with our own views and values.  The purpose is not for the party to control the agenda and ensure we get ‘cookie-cutter’ choices that all look basically the same.

There will be a total of twelve … yes, count ‘em, twelve … democratic primary debates during 2019 and 2020.  TWELVE.  And they cannot make the topic of one of those twelve, climate change???  In this, the Democratic Party is starting to act a whole heck of a lot like the Republican Party!

Not only is the DNC refusing to hold a debate where climate change is the main topic, but they have also threatened to punish democratic candidates who participate in such a debate hosted by other organizations!  Gestapo tactics?  According to Jay Inslee …

“Today, my team received a call from the Democratic National Committee letting us know that they will not host a climate debate. Further, they explained that if we participated in anyone else’s climate debate, we will not be invited to future debates. This is deeply disappointing. The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time. The next president must make defeating this crisis the top priority of the nation. And I will continue to do everything I humanly can to ensure the climate crisis is at the top of the national agenda.”

DNC Chairman Tom Perez justified his decision thusly …

“The DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single-issue area—we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on all the issues. You have my word that I will do everything I can to make sure our candidates are able to debate all of the critical issues during this primary.”

First, with twelve debates scheduled, I really think that if one were set aside for climate change, the other eleven would still provide the candidates with ample opportunity to debate every other issue at some length.  Second, if we don’t address climate change, frankly there are no other issues, or at least none of the other issues will matter 50 years, 100 years down the road.

I have to concur with what freshman Representative Sean Casten of Illinois said …

“This is the most important issue that we face as a planet and a species right now. If you don’t want to have public debate, this is probably the wrong line of work for you.”

The survival of this nation depends on the democrats defeating Donald Trump in 2020, but this is not the way to go about it.  The democrats need to stand above the fray of the republicans, need to get their priorities straight.  While it is the strategy of the Republican Party to deny climate change in favour of corporate profit, the democrats cannot mimic this strategy.  The majority of people in this country, in the world, understand what the climate scientists are telling us … that this planet cannot continue to sustain life as we know it if we do not act now to stop the damage being done every day to our environment.  To eschew the issue is to condemn every living creature on earth to a near-certain death by the end of this century.  I suggest that every concerned citizen respond to Mr. Perez’ tweet, letting him know that he is wrong, that We the People want debate on climate change, that we need to know where the candidates stand in order to make an informed and intelligent choice.  We cannot afford to put political posturing ahead of life on earth.

NO Dammit … Just NO!

The press release from the U.S. Department of Interior dated 05 June 2019 reads, in part …

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today announced from Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge a proposal for new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 74 national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) across more than 1.4 million acres.

According to Bernhardt …

“… Trump is committed to expanding public access on public lands, and this proposal is executing on that directive by opening and increasing more access to hunting and fishing by the Fish and Wildlife Service at more stations and across more acres than ever before. Hunting and fishing are more than just traditional pastimes as they are also vital to the conservation of our lands and waters, our outdoor recreation economy, and our American way of life. These refuges and hatcheries provide incredible opportunities for sportsmen and women and their families across the country to pass on a fishing and hunting heritage to future generations and connect with wildlife.”

BULLSHIT.

How the Sam Heck is the murder of animals “vital to the conservation of our lands and waters”???  And why must animals die for “our outdoor recreation economy”???  Did they ever hear of swimming, picnicking, playing ball, tossing a Frisbee, running, hiking, and all those other non-violent forms of outdoor recreation?  Must we murder in order to have fun outdoors???  If that is what is considered the “American way of life”, count me out!

Lion-not a trophyAs one opponent of the move said …

“We looked up the word refuge: a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble. Now if you and your family need a refuge we assume you would not want to be the target of gunfire. The same holds for our fellow animals.”

Bernhardt’s predecessor, Ryan Zinke, ordered the department in 2017 to review ways to expand hunting and fishing access to public lands. His spokeswoman said the Obama administration “did not appreciate access to hunting and target shooting like this administration does” and developed overly restrictive policies.

trump-leopard

Don Trump, Jr. (left) and Eric Trump with beautiful leopard they murdered in Zimbabwe in 2011

And as I was looking into this most recent abomination, guess what else I discovered?  Here is what the Department of Interior has been doing to wildlife protections since Trump took office:

  • Opened nine million acres of Western land to oil and gas drilling by weakening habitat protections for the sage grouse.
  • Overturned a ban on the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on federal lands.
  • Overturned a ban on the hunting of predators in Alaskan wildlife refuges.
  • Ended an Obama-era rule barring hunters on some Alaska public lands from using bait to lure and kill grizzly bears.
  • Withdrew proposed limits on the number of endangered marine mammals and sea turtles that people who fish could unintentionally kill or injure with sword-fishing nets on the West Coast. In 2018, California issued a state rule prohibiting the use of the nets the rule was intending to regulate.
  • Amended fishing regulations for a number of species to allow for longer seasons and higher catch rates.
  • Rolled back a roughly 40-year-old interprentation of a policy aimed at protecting migratory birds, potentially running afoul of treaties with Canada and Mexico.
  • Overturned a ban on using parts of migratory birds in handicrafts made by Alaskan Natives.

And currently under consideration are even more heartbreaking rollbacks …

  • Proposed stripping the Endangered Species Act of key provisions.
  • Proposed relaxing environmental protections for salmon and smelt in California’s Central Valley in order to free up water for farmers.

A former friend informed me not too long ago that “God put everything on earth here for our enjoyment and convenience”.  You may now understand why she is a former friend. Apparently, that is a belief shared by Donald Trump, Ryan Zinke and David Bernhardt, but I do not believe it is shared by the vast majority of people in the U.S.

trophy hunting 2I do not believe that any creature was put on this earth for men to get their jollies by shooting them with guns.  Back in the day, when that was the only way people could eat, perhaps it was justified, but even then, people of conscience killed only what they needed to eat.  When people kill just for bragging rights, I find myself hoping they end up face-to-face, mano-a-mano with the animal, be it bear or lion, and let the chips fall where they may.

Tiger, Petchaburi, Thailand

That our government believes a man’s right to kill senselessly supersedes an animal’s right to life, then that government is not one I can or will ever support.  Oh … and to all my hiker friends … better wear a bullet-proof vest from now on when you’re hiking, for the damned hunters don’t really look very closely … if it moves, they shoot.

The Trump boys with their trophies …

Trump-sons-hunt-1Trump-sons-hunt-2Trump-sons-hunt-3

Live For Today???

If there is a stack of dirty dishes in the sink and laundry piled halfway to the ceiling, will you wash the dishes and the clothes, or go sit down and read a book, hoping that the mess will go away?  If you choose the latter, then please contact me, for I have a lovely bridge for sale … cheap!  I’ll even throw in a book of fairy tales for free!

We in the U.S. have many worries these days.  We have a madman at the helm who is steering our ship toward a huge iceberg.  Our civil rights are being stripped, bigotry is on the rise, education is seriously deficient, income disparity is greater than at any other time, and the list goes on.  But, frankly, none of those things hold a candle to the seriousness of one single issue:  the environment.

Climate change is not going away on its own any more than your dishes and laundry are going to wash themselves, folks.  Just this past weekend, many areas of the Midwest have seen devastating tornadoes, including several last night a mere 20 miles north of my own home.  Remember last year’s wildfires in California, and right now, as I write this, there are two wildfires in Alberta, Canada, eating everything in their path.  Remember the hurricanes, the floods, last summer’s excessive heat?  And still, Don Trump and his minions not only fail to act, but take great pains to further the devastation.

The latest?  As if it wasn’t enough that Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accords, making us the only nation on the globe not onboard to address the crisis.  It wasn’t enough that he has, by means of executive order thus bypassing democratic process, rolled back most every environmental regulation on the books.  It wasn’t enough that he has tried everything in his power to stifle the development of renewable energy sources in his support of the coal and oil industries that are wrecking our environment in multiple ways.  No, none of that was enough.  Now, he is launching a new assault on our planet, on our health, on our very lives.

In the next few months, Trump plans to officially rescind what’s left of Obama-era regulations to curb emissions from tailpipes and power plants.  But it doesn’t stop there.  U.S. Geological Survey Director James Reilly — a former petroleum geologist appointed by Trump — has ordered his office to only study the effects of climate change up to 2040.  Scientists say that would give a misleading picture because the biggest effects of current emissions will be felt after 2040. Models show that the planet will most likely warm at about the same rate through about 2050. From that point until the end of the century, however, the rate of warming differs significantly with an increase or decrease in carbon emissions.

And … remember the National Climate Assessment that was released last fall saying, “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities”?  Since that didn’t fit in with Trump’s policy to support the fossil fuel industry, it will not be included in the National Climate Assessment or other scientific reports produced by the government.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking of the melting of glaciers in the Arctic at a meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland, said this …

“The Arctic is at the forefront of opportunity and abundance. It houses 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil, 30 percent of its undiscovered gas, an abundance of uranium, rare earth minerals, gold, diamonds, and millions of square miles of untapped resources, fisheries galore. Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade [that could] potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days. Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century Suez and Panama Canals.”

Think about that one for a minute …

William-Happer

William Happer

Trump is said to be in the process of creating a scientific review panel with the intention of disputing the findings of climate scientists and discrediting the idea that climate change is a national security threat.  The man he is considering to lead the panel is named William Happer.  Let me tell you something about Mr. Happer.  He does not believe humans are responsible for climate change. In fact, he once likened CO2, the greenhouse gas most responsible for warming temperatures, to the Jewish people during the Holocaust. “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.”  Say WHAT???  No, Mr. Happer, you are comparing apples to oranges.

Happer has received money from the ultra-wealthy Mercer family, one of the principal causes of which is to deny climate science. The Mercer family also supports Trump.  Are you beginning to see a pattern here?  Trump and his wealthy donors, most of whom are benefitting greatly from Trump’s rollbacks and might actually see their profits reduced if proper regulations were in place, see no further than the tip of their nose.  Their motto?  Live for today and to hell with tomorrow.  As long as they are raking in the dollars and enjoying their hedonistic lifestyles, it matters not to them whether our children and grandchildren can breathe the air or have food and water in 30-40 years.  It matters not to them if every living thing on earth is gone by the end of this century, for they will have lived their lives.  Just because we won’t be here to see it doesn’t mean we don’t have a responsibility to future generations!

For those of us who do care about the future of this planet, consider this:

  • The U.S. is the second largest total emitter of carbon dioxide
  • The U.S. is the largest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide
  • The U.S. is the nation that is doing the least to reduce carbon emissions

CO2 emissions by nation.png

A number of states are enacting their own regulations, as are some corporations, but without consistency, without support from the federal government, it simply is not enough.  Not only is our ignorance and greed dooming our own nation, but the rest of the world as well.  There will be a price to pay … probably sooner than we think.

Eric Swalwell: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I bring you the 14th installment of TokyoSand’s excellent series, The 7 Issues Guide, helping us get to know a bit about the platforms of the democratic candidates running for the office of president next year. Eric Swalwell is on deck today. I know next to nothing about Mr. Swalwell, other than that he is currently serving his 4th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He seems to have the right ideas, but with 23 candidates currently in the running, I don’t see anything that stands out and says, “Pick me!” Nonetheless, I believe all the candidates should be given fair consideration, for you never know where you will find a diamond in the rough. Thank you, TokyoSand, and your diligent volunteers, for helping us get to know Mr. Swalwell!

Political⚡Charge

swalwell Rep. Eric Swalwell

The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. Each of them brings their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the Democratic candidates, I’ve gathered quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the 7 issues that midterm voters identified as the most important. I hope that these guides serve as a helpful starting point for you as you look into which candidates (or how many candidates!) you are interested in…

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How ‘Bout Some ‘Toons?

I think it’s about time to catch up on a few ‘toons, don’t you?  The political cartoons are one way of measuring which issues are on the minds of the people at any given time.  Today, one of the biggest issues is, not surprisingly, the trade war Trump has engaged in with China and the tariffs that are hurting We the People more than any.

tariffs-1tariffs-2tariffs-3tariffs-4tariffs-5


After the recent United Nations report showing that we are in danger of losing one million species from the planet due to our poor stewardship of the environment, climate change and environmental issues once again came to the forefront of everyone’s mind.

environment-1environment-2environment-3Threatened and endangered species


Congress subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns from the Department of Treasury, but of course Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is refusing to honour the subpoena.  Meanwhile, the New York Times released 10 years of Trump’s taxes from 1985 to 1994, showing that in that ten year period, he lost over $1.17 billion … naturally the cartoonists had a field day with that one, as did our friend Don Lemon!

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump the business manfinances-2finances-3


And, of course, we are still dealing with Trump’s blatant and now undeniable obstruction of justice.  The Mueller report cites no less than ten instances where Trump obstructed justice, and he is still doing it today by trying to shut down the congressional oversight committees that are trying to pick up where Mueller’s report left off and determine whether impeachment is the right path.  

criminals-2criminals-3criminals-4criminals-5obstruction-1obstruction-2obstruction-3obstruction-4


And just a few miscellaneous ‘toons to finish up …

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Election 2020 … Part First of Many To Come

I have lost count of how many times I’ve heard people say that the democrats will win big in 2020, that Trump doesn’t stand a chance, that the democrats have a bunch of good candidates, that the nation will not re-elect Donald Trump, etc., etc.  And I know those people saying this mean well, and in most cases, I think they believe it.  But folks … make no mistake … it will be an uphill battle, and we haven’t yet taken the first step up that hill.  In this post, I want to talk just a bit about what is wrong with the democratic stance and what some of the problems facing the democrats are going to be.  I speak at the moment only of the presidential election, though I will later talk about the Senate and at some point, the House.

First problem … yes, we have a number of highly qualified candidates, from the elders, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, to the newbies like Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.  But that is exactly the problem.  Let me explain …

In 2016, when Bernie Sanders failed to be nominated by the Democratic Party, what did his most loyal supporters do?  Some voted for independent candidates, some even voted for Trump, but the majority simply did not vote.  If every Bernie supporter had cast their vote for Hillary Clinton, we would not have Trump in the Oval Office today.  So, next year, at the Democratic Convention, if Kamala Harris is the nominee, what will Buttigieg’s and Warren’s supporters do?  Some will vote for Ms. Harris, but more will likely either vote for an independent simply to show their anger with the Democratic Party or will simply stay home and not vote at all.  Some will even vote for Trump.  This is a big problem, folks, and while it makes no sense, it is reality.

Second problem … this election will not be, for the Democratic Party, about who is the most qualified and capable candidate, but will be only about who can beat Donald Trump.  Which translates to:  who has the most public appeal, who is the best-looking, who can win what will be naught more than a popularity contest.  Oh yes, I hear you saying that we all care about the issues, and I agree … those reading this post no doubt care more about the candidate’s stance on such things as climate change, health care, taxes, foreign policy, gun regulation, Social Security, etc.  But we, my friends, are not the majority.  The majority do not vote with their heads, do not study the candidates and issues, but rather vote with their hearts.  Why do you think Hillary failed to attain a larger margin in 2016? (I remind you that she did win the election by nearly 3 million votes)  Because she was not warm & fuzzy, was not a ‘likeable’ persona.  And the two straws that broke the camel’s back were her calling republicans ‘deplorables’, and Jim Comey’s “October Surprise”.

Third problem … nobody seems to be doing a damned thing about the fact that Russia did, in fact, influence our 2016 election and, while we will never know for certain if Hillary would have won the electoral college without the Russian influence, we can surmise that would have been the case.  This should be something that Congress is demanding be addressed by our intelligence community, and perhaps it is being addressed, but it doesn’t seem to be taken very seriously at all.

Fourth problem … voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandering.  Most of Trump’s base are white, middle-income, Christian, non-college-educated voters.  They have driver’s licenses, they own cars, and they live in predominantly white, middle class neighborhoods with a polling place only a short distance.  A large number of likely democratic voters are poor, are minorities, and live in neighborhoods where there are no polling places close by.  They may not have driver’s licenses, they may not own reliable vehicles.  They work at minimum wage jobs and by the time they get off work, take a bus to the closest polling place, it has closed, or the line is so long that they cannot wait in line to vote, for they must pick their child up at daycare.  States are, even today, trying to pass stricter voting laws.  In Texas, proposed legislation would force anyone taking more than 3 non-family-members to the polls to fill out a form listing the people being transported and the reason.  In many states around the nation, voter ID laws are being introduced.  Polling places on college campuses are being dismantled.  And I haven’t seen much being done in the way of re-districting gerrymandered districts.  These are all blatant attempts to discourage poor and minority voters, to make it harder for them to vote, and to ensure their votes are diluted when they can vote.

Fifth problem … voter apathy.  We are so bombarded every day with news of corruption on both sides of the aisle that some people … I have had people tell me this … just throw up their hands and say, essentially, “To heck with it … they are all corrupt, so why bother?”  As heated as the 2016 election was, do you know what percentage of eligible voters didn’t bother to vote?  Take a guess.  Almost 40%!!!  Colorado, Minnesota, Maine & New Hampshire were the only states where 70% or more of eligible voters turned out to vote.

I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, but the real danger, as I see it, is in being too complacent, in believing that because Trump is such a terrible president, he cannot possibly win.  He was an awful candidate, but he won in 2016, largely because of Russian interference, Hillary’s unpopularity, voter apathy, and voter disenfranchisement.  The Democratic Party needs to seriously get their act together, unite behind the best qualified candidate, and put together a winning platform that includes health care solutions, environmental stewardship, civil rights reform, gun reform, and a host of other solutions to the issues that are plaguing this nation today, such as dealing with Iran, North Korea and Russia, not to mention mending fences that Trump has torn down with our allies.

Let us not make the same mistake we made in 2016, thinking that Trump is such a buffoon he cannot possibly win.  He is a buffoon, he is a madman, but … he won in 2016.  Let us not let him win in 2020.

Joe Biden: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I bring you the 13th installment of TokyoSand’s excellent series, The 7 Issues Guide, helping us get to know a bit about the platforms of the democratic candidates running for the office of president next year. Joe Biden is on deck today. Biden is among my favourites, as I have long had respect and admiration for him. Joe was poised to run in 2016, but sadly his son died of cancer in May 2015 and he bowed out, feeling it was in the best interest of his family to do so at that time. Thank you, TokyoSand, and your diligent volunteers, for helping us get to know Mr. Biden!

Political⚡Charge

biden-smile Joe Biden

The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. Each of them brings their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the Democratic candidates, I’ve gathered quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the 7 issues that midterm voters identified as the most important. I hope that these guides serve as a helpful starting point for you as you look into which candidates (or how many candidates!) you are interested in supporting…

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Going … Going … Gone

This morning the United Nations released a report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the premise of which is that as many as one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction.  Think about this one, folks … one million

That in itself is cause for grief, but the report goes a step further than previous studies by linking the loss of species to humans and analyzing its effect on food and water security, farming and economies.  According to the report, more plants and animals are threatened with extinction now than any other period in human history. Nature’s current rate of decline is unparalleled, it says, and the accelerating rate of extinctions “means grave impacts on people around the world are now likely.”

Now, personally I do not, as some do, see the human species as superior to all others.  Obviously, if the human species were so superior, we would not be willfully destroying every living creature on the planet.  No, I think humans are without doubt the greediest, most selfish species on earth.  But, since we broke it, it is up to us to fix it, and yet the very people with the greatest ability to do so, refuse, putting their own convenience and profit ahead of the future of all life on earth.

It isn’t only the effects of climate change that are causing the global crisis. The report emphasized the effects humans have on animals that are key to their own survival. Pesticides sprayed by farmers that kill pollinators such as bees and other insects will likely have a devastating effect on crops. Homeowners contribute to the problem by purchasing “bug zappers” that target mosquitoes but also eliminate key pollinators such as butterflies and moths, as well as common flies that some animals rely on for food.

The report has a positive spin, saying that “it is not too late to make a difference.” But that difference requires more than 100 developing and non-developed nations to work together to bring about change.  Today.  Not tomorrow or next year – TODAY!

A friend recently told me that she believes God gave the earth to humans for the purpose of their enjoyment and that there is nothing to worry about, for in essence God wants people to be happy and will replenish the earth without us changing our lifestyle.  Well, folks, guess what?  That is the biggest line of bullshit I’ve ever heard.  The owners of those factories spewing tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, the companies that produce the killing pesticides, the fossil fuel industry have all contributed to convincing people to “stay calm”, that the scientists are all wrong, and that everything will be alright.

EVERYTHING WILL NOT BE ALRIGHT!

So, why am I carrying on again about the same topic I’ve written about multiple times?  Because we’re not getting through to the politicians who can make the biggest difference through legislation.  Because we’re not getting through to our friends and neighbors.  Because … we all have children and grandchildren and we are allowing their future to be destroyed.  I know you’re tired and so am I, but we need to do more.  We need to do our own small part, sure, but we also need to get back on a letter-writing, phone-calling, e-mailing campaign and tell our elected officials to get off their sweet patooties and do the right thing.

An anonymous comment I read this morning in The Washington Post says it all …

“For many decades, environmentalists have been sounding the alarm that people are destroying the Earth through their callous disregard of nature, because of the misguided thought that we are supposedly lords over the planet instead of another species that is PART of the planet.

People who think of themselves as separate from nature rather than part of it fall in to the dangerous assumption that they can just keep on killing off whatever plants and animals they want, in as large numbers as they want, without it affecting human life too.

For many decades, politicians have been ignoring these calls for people to have a greater respect for the natural world of which we are a part. For many decades, those calls have been answered with criticism from those who believe there should be no environmental regulations, no protections for wildlife, and that humans should be able to just destroy whatever they want, whenever they want, as often and as much as they want, because to them, making money by destroying the environment is awesome.

Now they’re going to learn the hard way that it’s not awesome at all. The environmentalists have been correct about this all along, and the greedy selfish people who think environmental regulations are bad just keep on trying to claim they’re not.”

This isn’t just another political issue.  This should rise far above partisan politics, should take precedence over trade wars, over corporate profits, and every other issue, for frankly, if we don’t do this now, none of the rest will matter a whit by the end of the century.  You won’t be around to see it nor will I, but our great-great-grandchildren will.  Think about it.