The echo chamber feedback loop

Once again, our friend Keith is spot-on with his analysis and advice. Thanks, Keith!

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“Everyone is talking about this,” says the outgoing president on more than a few occasions.. “Everyone knows this is true” or “Everyone knows” he might use as an alternative or add-on to the above, as he is prone to repeat himself. These are intentional phrases used to make the listener or reader skip past them and assume the statements are true. When you hear or read these comments, do yourself a favor and assume the opposite.

Why? Because you are hearing an echo chamber feedback loop. The echo chamber occurs when the same piece of information, rumor or conspiracy theory is repeated within limited sources of information. In fact, this is how disinformation is so easily shared, especially with an untruthful, unrelenting and unaware user in the White House. In fact, when a Russian, Iranian, Chinese or American troll hears the outgoing president repeat what they made up, it is…

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The Week’s Best Cartoons: Hello 2021!

I find myself unable to write a post this afternoon.  The nightmares that have plagued both my sleep and waking hours have left me in a dark mood, down a rabbit hole, and anything I would write today would not be worth reading.  So, I turn instead to that lady who, every week, scours the political cartoons to pick the best for our viewing pleasure, TokyoSand!  Thanks once again, TS, for this terrific selection!


Just like we were, editorial cartoonists were pretty focused on saying goodbye to 2020 and welcoming 2021. Here are my favorite cartoons from this past week.

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See All The ‘Toons!

Second Verse, Same As The First …

It may be a new year, but frankly it feels the same as the old one did, with threats of violence planned by fools and idiots who call themselves the “Proud Boys”, a Republican-run Senate voting against helping the people who need it most, and a few jerks in Congress attempting to declare the United States to be a dictatorship by cancelling the votes of 81 million people to keep a mentally deranged madman in the Oval Office.  Yep, folks … it’s true what they say … the more things change, the more they stay the same.


Moscow Mitch strikes again …

The House of Representatives approved raising the individual stimulus amount from $600 to $2,000.  There are people in this country who cannot pay their bills, cannot afford to buy food for their family, or to see a doctor when needed, and Congress has already wasted months playing games, so it’s time to move on this.  So, the House passes the addendum, sends it to the Senate, and what happens?  It shouldn’t surprise anybody that Mitch McConnell is holding it up, likely to burn it or rip it to shreds today or tomorrow.  Why?

Mitch McConnell claims that $2,000 checks are “socialism for the rich.”  Tell that to the mother of three who lost her job due to the pandemic and is struggling every day to keep her children fed!  I have had just about enough of Mitch McConnell and I must question the intelligence of those who elected him yet again two months ago.  Damn you, Mitch McConnell … you’ve never known a day when you had to choose between paying the electric bill or buying food … you’ve always been an overweight priviledged white male of means.  Don’t you dare call a lousy $2,000 stimulus check ‘socialism’.  You apparently lack any understanding whatsoever of what ‘Socialism’ even is!

Now, if we really want to talk about ‘socialism for the rich’, let’s look for a minute at some of the tax rebate checks that were issued under Trump’s tax plan:

Amazon: $129 million

Delta: $187 million

Chevron: $181 million

GM: $104 million

IBM: $342 million

That’s socialism for the rich!  Oh, and one other example:  Mitch McConnell with an estimated net worth of $22.8 million, takes taxpayer money in the form of a base salary of $193,400, not including perks such as travel and meals.  Talk about socialism for the rich!!!  This nation does not need people like Mitch McConnell making decisions that rule our lives, and in many cases may cost us our lives.


Retaliation or fabrication?

Sunday, January 3rd is the one-year anniversary of the murder of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani by a U.S. drone strike.  Logic tells us that if Iran intended to seek revenge beyond what they did last year, they would have already done it.  But those of us who are able to see the logic here are not sitting in the Oval Office.  The person who does sit in that office claims he expects Iran to seek revenge on that one-year anniversary of the murder.  Certainly, they would be well within their rights to do so, but the Iranian leadership is not quite as stupid as our own, and almost certainly have no such plan.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Thursday accused Donald Trump of attempting to fabricate a pretext to attack Iran, and said Tehran would defend itself forcefully.

“Instead of fighting Covid in US, @realDonaldTrump & cohorts waste billions to fly B52s & send armadas to OUR region. Intelligence from Iraq indicate plot to FABRICATE pretext for war. Iran doesn’t seek war but will OPENLY & DIRECTLY defend its people, security & vital interests.”

Under ordinary circumstances, I would accept the word of the president that there was some plot afoot, but … people, we haven’t had ordinary circumstances in nearly four years now, and we all know that Trump is not above lying through his teeth for the sake of his own self-interest.  And what, you ask, could he possibly gain from taking the nation to the brink of war with Iran?  Nothing, but he is leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to remain in office.  If he were to declare a state of emergency and implement martial law …

Think about that one.


And speaking of which …

I was pleased yesterday to read that Mike Pence asked a judge to reject the lawsuit filed earlier this week by Louie Gohmert and others that aims to expand Pence’s power to use a congressional ceremony to overturn the presidential election, arguing that he is not the right person to sue over the issue.  I would have preferred hearing him say that it was not the right thing to do, period, that President-elect Joe Biden is the next president of the United States, but hey … I’ll take what I can get, which is little enough these days.

More than a few times in recent days, I have seen Republicans say “74 million American votes matter”.  Sure, every vote matters, but the bottom line is that while 74 million people, and I use the term loosely, voted for Trump, 81 million voted for Biden.  Biden won, Trump lost … what the Sam Hell is so difficult about that concept?

So, on Wednesday, January 6th, Congress convenes to certify the Electoral College votes, 306 of which are for Joe Biden as compared to the 232 for Donald Trump.  At least one Senator, Josh Hawley of Missouri, and several Representatives (again, I use the term loosely, for they sure as hell don’t represent We the People) plan to contest the results, ensuring that there will be further delays and more of the ulcer-inducing chaos we have been subjected to for months now.  Joe Biden will be certified by Congress, of that I am 99.8% certain.  However …

Also, on Wednesday, January 6th, at least four large rallies have been planned by those who would see the election overturned in one way or another.  The events will be headlined by Trump’s most ardent supporters, including recently pardoned George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during its Russia investigation, and longtime ally Roger Stone, whose sentence for seeking to impede a congressional probe into Russian election interference was commuted by Trump in July before being upgraded to a full pardon.

Formal rallies are planned most of the day and will draw pro-Trump demonstrators to the Washington Monument, Freedom Plaza and the Capitol. But online forums and encrypted chat messages among far-right groups indicate a number of demonstrators might be planning more than chanting and waving signs.

Threats of violence, ploys to smuggle guns into the District and calls to set up an “armed encampment” on the Mall have proliferated in online chats about the January 6 day of protest. The Proud Boys, members of armed right-wing groups, conspiracy theorists and white supremacists have pledged to attend.

Trump, meanwhile, has continued to issue calls to supporters to converge on D.C. “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!” he tweeted Wednesday.  My friends … this is not how this nation behaves.  This is the most juvenile, abominable behaviour and surely even his supporters cannot support this madness.  WHY do we have to put up with this?  First, he drags this nation down in the eyes of the world, then he bungles the response to a pandemic so badly that we have the world’s highest death rate … nearly a half-million people in this nation have died from the coronavirus.  And now this.  It’s time for it to end.  January 20th cannot come soon enough, and frankly I think he needs to be removed from office immediately in order to ensure the safety of this nation.


Welcome to 2021, the continuation of 2020.

The Bright Spots in 2020: Yes, There Were Some

The year 2020 will likely go down as one of the worst in the history of the United States, however … there were bright spots!  Our friend TokyoSand has spent hours and hours digging for the best stories from the past year, and she has done one fantastic job of it!  Please take a few minutes to read her wonderful post, reminding us that all was not lost in this year of the pandemic.


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We are very close to putting 2020 behind us, but before we do, let’s take one last look back. Now if you’re thinking this is going to be a dreary look at everything that went wrong, you would be wrong. This list is all about the bright spots of light that appeared throughout the year, including some entries I received from my Twitter friends, plus a handful of editorial cartoons I liked. Let’s take a look:

January

The Supreme Court affirmed that cities may not criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of experiencing homelessness.

When Trump authorized the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani (which he may not have had the legal authority to do), anti-war protests were held in over 70 cities and calls from activists poured into Congress. Politicians from both parties, notably in the Senate, pushed back against the administration and passed a resolution to limit Trump’s war powers.

Read TokyoSand’s entire post!

Time For The Silent Majority To Speak — LOUDLY

This morning it was announced that Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri will contest the votes of the Electoral College when the U.S. Congress meets on January 6th to certify those votes.  I am outraged.  How can a ‘man’ who took an oath to protect and uphold the U.S. Constitution attempt to deny the people of this nation the right to choose their president?  The following is the email I sent to Mr. Hawley early this afternoon …

You, Mr. Hawley, are in breach of your oath to protect and uphold the U.S. Constitution.  WE THE PEOPLE have spoken.  We voted, fairly and honestly, for our next president to be President-elect Joe Biden.  We are sick and damn tired of the buffoon who has occupied the Oval Office for the past four years and we need a government that functions, a president who cares about the nation and its people, not about his own personal whims.  For you to contest our votes, to take away our right to choose our leader, is simply unconscionable.  You better think long and hard about what you’re doing, for you will face the consequences of your actions.  At noon on January 20th, Joe Biden WILL become the next president of the United States, else there will no longer BE a United States.

Hawley’s reasoning, or so he claims, is that “some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws.”  What he refers to are the accommodations, such as postal voting, that were made by the states in order to enable more people to vote in light of the pandemic, a scourge made far worse than it needed to be by the very lying, bungling person Hawley and others are attempting to keep in the highest office of the land.  There was no criminal activity, no voter fraud, just people voting from the safety of their home rather than being exposed to a deadly virus while standing in line at the polls for hours.

What Mr. Hawley is doing, as well as what Representatives Mo Brooks and Louie Gohmert are doing in their efforts to silence the will of the people, is not only unconscionable, but is against the Constitution, is against the law of the land.  I believe with 99% certainty that their efforts will fail, but the efforts themselves are criminal, are acts of sedition.  Not only that, but they are keeping us all on pins and needles, keeping us from being able to enjoy this holiday season, costing us sleep and our health, just so they can play these foolish games with our lives!

Our friend Keith wrote an excellent letter to several newspapers regarding ‘Representatives’ Brooks and Gohmert’s efforts to change the outcome, to rob us of our voices. Keith has kindly given us permission to alter as needed and use his letter … I strongly suggest we all take him up on that offer, for if enough of us make ourselves heard, make it clear that we will not stand for this circus the GOP is putting on, perhaps others will follow suit.  These people do not deserve their seats in Congress, for they do not represent the people of this nation, they only pander to the whims of the madman who has destroyed much of what was once good about this country.

The United States was founded on the notion of “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, as President Abraham Lincoln so famously noted in his Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863.  Hawley, Gohmert, Brooks and others are attempting to take “the people” out of that equation. It is time for We the People to rise up, to make our voices heard so loudly and clearly that we override those of the fools in Washington who are lining their own pockets while draining ours.

The Week’s Best Cartoons: Holiday Edition

Today I am remarkably uninspired to write a post.  Post-holiday exhaustion, or political overload — I don’t know which.  So, since I haven’t yet shared with you TokyoSand’s latest cartoon post, I shall do so this afternoon!  Thank you, TS, for doing such a great job of picking out the best holiday-themed political cartoons!

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View the rest of the ‘toons!

Stop This Madness!!!

Donald Trump is playing games with the lives of the people in this nation.  He is like a child who will destroy anything in sight if he does not get his way, but instead of the stakes being some toys or even a few broken dishes, the stakes are human lives.  We the People are being treated as pawns on a chessboard to be toyed with on a whim.

Finally, after months of back-and-forth, Congress managed to come together to produce a spending bill to fund the government until October 2021.  That bill also contains a nearly $892 billion stimulus bill to help the people of this nation survive the economic consequences of the pandemic that is and has been far more devastating than it would have been, had Trump acted with conscience at the beginning of the year.  Or at any time during the year.  The bill also extends the moratorium on evictions, extends supplemental unemployment, and much more to help people and small businesses survive.  It passed both chambers of Congress with a veto-proof majority.  Trump has neither signed nor vetoed it.

President-elect Joe Biden issued a statement yesterday …

Statement by President-elect Joe Biden on the Need to Sign the COVID-19 Economic Relief Bill

It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority.

This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences. Today, about 10 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance benefits. In just a few days, government funding will expire, putting vital services and paychecks for military personnel at risk. In less than a week, a moratorium on evictions expires, putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays. Delay means more small businesses won’t survive this dark winter because they lack access to the lifeline they need, and Americans face further delays in getting the direct payments they deserve as quickly as possible to help deal with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. And while there is hope with the vaccines, we need funding to be able to distribute and administer them to millions of Americans, including frontline health care workers.

This bill is critical. It needs to be signed into law now. But it is also a first step and down payment on more action that we’ll need to take early in the new year to revive the economy and contain the pandemic — including meeting the dire need for funding to distribute and administer the vaccine and to increase our testing capacity.

In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for bipartisan action and compromise. I was heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together. President Trump should join them, and make sure millions of Americans can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads in this holiday season.

Trump claims to want far larger coronavirus relief checks for individuals and major reductions to the foreign aid budget and other spending he has deemed wasteful, even though he was fully aware all along what the provisions of this bill would be.  His own Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, was the very one who demanded the payments to individuals would be only $600, despite Democrats arguing for $1,200.

If Trump vetoes the bill, Congress will need a 2/3 majority in both House and Senate to override the veto.  Based on the votes for the bill, that wouldn’t be a problem, but … at least a few Republicans, such as Lindsey Graham, who voted for the bill have now said they would not vote to override Trump’s veto!  Cowards!!!  Spineless jellyfish!  (My apologies to any jellyfish who might be reading this … that was an unintended insult to jellyfish) It is well past the time that the damned Republicans in Congress act like representatives of the people of this nation instead of Trump’s puppets!  It is past time Republicans put human life ahead of their own financial interests, most of them being far wealthier than any of us to begin with.

If Trump does nothing, as I am told he has been advised by the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, the clock will run out on January 4th, one day after the current 116th Congress expires.  Bills die if they are not enacted during the Congress in which they are introduced.

If either of these two scenarios transpire, the bill will be dead, and it would be left to the next Congress and President Biden to try to pull together an entirely new bill.  Meanwhile, people who lost their jobs during the pandemic will suffer as unemployment insurance for more than 14 million expired yesterday and the protection against being evicted will expire on December 31st.

Additionally, the U.S. government runs out of money at midnight Dec. 28. If this battle is not resolved by then, Congress must either pass its fourth stopgap funding bill since last September or federal agencies will not have money to fully operate beginning December 29th.  In that case, tens of thousands of government workers could be furloughed, and programs interrupted. If Congress does pass a temporary bill, Trump would have to approve it, or the shutdown begins.

What Trump is doing is pure, unadulterated evil. He has no right to the position of power that he is in, has no right, in fact, to call himself a human being.  I call on the Republicans in Congress to look around to see if they can find both their conscience and a pair of cojones and STOP THIS MADNESS!

Saturday Surprise — Let It Snow!

So, did you guys have a white Christmas?  We did … sort of.  It started snowing on Thursday evening, was still snowing on Friday morning, but the temps were so frigid that it was a very dry snow with little accumulation … maybe a ¼ inch.  Still, it was snow, and we enjoyed seeing it, though we did not enjoy the 13° temperatures!  Brrrrrrrrrr.

Now you’ve all heard it said that no two snowflakes are alike, but with bazillions of snowflakes falling somewhere on the globe every day for centuries or longer, how can that be true?  Well, turns out that scientists who study such things say that the likelihood of two large snow crystals being identical is zero, and that the probability that two snow crystals (a single ice crystal) or flakes (a snow crystal or multiple snow crystals stuck together) will be exactly alike in molecular structure and in appearance, is very, very minute.  However, it turns out that apart from the molecular structure, snowflakes fall into one of 35 different shapes, according to researchers.  The precise reasons for the formation of various snowflake shapes is not completely understood by scientists, but they have been able to generate a list of eight predominant shapes, with each containing several variations of snowflake structures.  Shapes include: column, plane, combination of column and plane, aggregation, rimed, germs, irregular, and other.  If you’re interested, check out this article in The Science Explorer.

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Speaking of snow, I found some awesome snow pictures that I thought would make a fun Saturday Surprise.

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Snow Clinging On To The Branches Of A Tree, Finland

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Fresh Snow Over Christmas Lights

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The Ice Neatly Folded Itself

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Art Only Nature Can Create. Fence After A Snowy Night On Terschelling, The Netherlands

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Pattern In The Snow On A Patio Table

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When They Ask If There’s Much Wind

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Yep That’s Snow

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The Way The Snow Rolled Down The Windshield

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Stop Sign After A Week Of No Sun

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Crazy Ice Wave Formation From Snow Slowly Melting Off Patio Tin Roof

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Snow Striped Forest

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Apple Orchard After A Snowfall

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Snow Melted And Slid Down The Wire In A Spiral Form

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Perfectly Melted Ribbon Of Snow

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Snow Melted To Form A Moustache On Car

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Snow Rolls Formed By The Wind

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Snow Wave On Roof

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So It Snowed On The Cabbage Patch

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Unmelted Snow In The Shadows

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Cool Snow Swirls On Logs That Look Like Ice Cream

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Frost Formed On The Screen Around Deck

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Lone Tree And The Curvy Snow Waves

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Snow Is Curling Off This Roof

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This Frozen Leaf Carved A Perfect Circle In The Snow

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Snow Formation

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The Snow On This Patio Table Looks Like A Pastry Pie

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The Way This Snow Stayed In Place When The Trunk Was Opened/Closed

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend … holiday is over, so now you can relax and eat leftovers … leftover cookies, if there are any!

Speaking Of The Planet’s Health …

Between the pandemic and the post-election chaos, both of which are still going strong, maybe the single most important issue in our lifetime, and the lifetimes of all future generations, has been largely ignored.  Yes, I’m talking about climate change, human’s destruction of the environment to satisfy their craving for more toys and conveniences.  There are, however, a few good things that have happened this year in respect to the environment, and an email I received today from Greenpeace highlights the most significant of them.  I thought it worth sharing, to show that despite Donald Trump and his love affair with the fossil fuel industry, others have been working to protect and repair the planet we call home.

Jill —

From the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to continuing the long fight for racial equality in the U.S. to the most important presidential race in memory, it’s been quite a year for the history books. In the face of all this hardship, our planet continues to suffer and the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies and big polluters everywhere haven’t missed a beat. 

While there were many difficult setbacks, from the melting Arctic to the Amazon and West Coast engulfed in flames, the fact is we did make great strides in 2020 to help heal our planet and our future. Here’s a brief recap of how your support for Greenpeace made a difference this past year:

  • A court defeat for Trump is a win for the Arctic. Just weeks ago, a federal appeals court ruled that the Trump administration violated environmental requirements when it approved an oil drilling project in the Arctic Ocean. This ruling is a vindication of your hard-fought activism to protect the Arctic and roll back the expansion of the oil industry. Not only did we win this lawsuit, courts also blocked offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean, cementing your people-power to Save the Arctic!
     
  • Greenpeace counters the plastic industry’s attempts to exploit the pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, the EPA decided it was the perfect time to roll back restrictions on pollution controls, and the plastics industry jumped in to exploit the pandemic by scaring people about the safety risk of reusable bags in transmitting disease. When trillions in taxpayer dollars became available, the fossil fuel industry scrambled to try to get a piece of the pie.

    We’ve been fighting back against the plastic industry for decades, and Greenpeacers like you were ready to take on this new challenge. We investigated the polluters and the politicians who enable them, exposed the corporate and political elites who hope their profiteering goes unnoticed, and we mobilized to stop them. And we had to do it online and on the phones — not in person. You responded, making thousands of phone calls and sending hundreds of thousands of messages to Congress.
     

  • One year of Fire Drill Fridays are in the books. Championed by our friend and fellow activist Jane Fonda, these weekly rallies included different speakers — celebrities, youth, Indigenous leaders, representatives from impacted and underrepresented communities, as well as movement and thought leaders — all demanding our leaders end fossil fuel expansion, pass a Green New Deal, and implement a plan for a responsible just transition to renewable energy as rapidly as possible. Hundreds of activists joined Jane in the courageous act of civil disobedience — even when our rallies had to go digital.
     
  • On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we committed to a plastic-free future. Plastic pollution is destroying our planet. As the fossil fuel industry doubles down on plastic as the new frontier for petrochemical production, we must do everything in our power to shape a new future that isn’t crafted by these powerful multi-billion dollar industries. That is why, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this past April, Greenpeace mobilized supporters to push for passage of the Break Free from Plastic Protection Act in Congress.
     
  • Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump to be elected the 46th President of the United States. With Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election, we can start the hard work of making up for lost time, addressing the climate crisis, and protecting the planet. Vital protections for the environment and democracy are now within reach. The Biden administration has the power to enact the changes needed in our political system to make bold climate action a reality. Greenpeace and our movement pushed Biden to adopt bolder climate positions in his campaign, are winning pro-environment cabinet nominees, and we will continue to demand the Biden administration fight back against the status quo and work with us to fight for a resilient, fossil-free future where all people have what they need to thrive.

As you can see, it’s been a busy year for Greenpeace, with much to look forward to in the New Year.

Sincerely,

Annie Leonard
Executive Director, Greenpeace

The Choice Is Ours

The events of the past few weeks have caused me to step back, try to look at the bigger picture, try to see what’s happening here.  A friend from the UK recently said he did not know what had brought this country to this pass, but that it needs to end.  I think we can all agree that it needs to end, but … what did bring us to this pass?  How did we become such a divided nation filled with racism and hatred, intolerance and threats of resolving our differences through violence?

I do know that the racism we thought had largely ended in the 1960s with civil rights laws and integrated schools, buses, diners, etc., had merely gone into hiding.  There came a point where it became politically incorrect to express racist views, and those who dared do so were shunned.  The feelings of superiority by some whites, though, never actually went away, they just festered under the surface.  So, did we come to this pass by electing a Black man as president, not once but twice?  I’ve often thought that was the start of where we find ourselves today.  But that is a simplistic answer, and the election of President Barack Obama, while it certainly plays a role in our current situation, cannot be the entire answer.

Part of the answer, I think, comes from the uber-capitalism that has enabled some to become multi-billionaires, while others stay awake nights trying to figure out how to pay the rent and put food on the table.  In the U.S., with as many millionaires and billionaires as we have, there is no excuse for any child to go to bed hungry at night … but they do.  Single mothers work 2-3 jobs trying to make ends meet, and it’s a daily struggle, while others live in such luxury that they never have to do anything they don’t wish to do.

But what’s really puzzling is why some of those very people who struggle to manage to pay the bills are some of the most die-hard supporters of a regime that nearly worships wealth.  Trump & Co have made no secret of the fact that they have cut taxes on the wealthy, rolled back environmental and safety regulations in order to increase the profits of those already rolling in dough.  And yet, nearly half of the people in this nation – people who work hard to feed their families – still support Trump & Co.  WHY?

Why?  Because they are convinced by his rhetoric that he is their ‘president’, that the things he does are helping them.  Why are they convinced?  Because they are taken in by his fist shaking and his gutter-snipe verbosity.  They believe him when he says he has done more for Black people than any president except Abraham Lincoln.  They believe him when he promises the tax cuts were to help them, even though there is no proof in that pudding.  He has convinced them that immigrants are harmful to our society, to our economy.  They have not yet come to understand that any benefit they have gained from his policies is but a crumb compared to the benefit to the corporate giants.

People in this country want simple solutions to complex problems.  Income disparity, healthcare, education, immigration … Trump offers off-the-cuff solutions to these issues.  Take immigration, for example.  Simple solution:  impose a travel ban on people from Muslim countries and build a wall on the southern border to keep out the “rapists and murderers”.  But this completely ignores the fact that Muslims are not terrorists and Mexicans are not rapists nor murderers.  It also ignores the fact that immigrants add much of value to our country.  They bring new ideas and add cultural diversity.  To deny immigrants entry, to vilify all immigrants, is to spread racism and prejudice throughout the nation.  Those who would wish for a homogenous white, Christian, male-dominated society seek a nation that I would never choose to live in, one that would soon stagnate for lack of innovation, lack of diversity and interest.

The people of this nation are more divided today than at any other time … I would venture to say that the ideological differences in the Civil War era were not as far apart as we are today.  How did we get here?  Perhaps by being a nation of people with too much freedom, too many ‘rights’.  We have become a nation of greed, of “me first”, as evidenced by the refusal of some to wear a mask when in a public venue, claiming that mask mandates violate their civil rights.  Never mind that they are putting not only themselves, but their families, friends and co-workers at risk by exerting their ‘rights’.

Joe Biden has promised to be the president of the people – all the people, not only democrats, not only white Christians, but every man, woman, and child in the country.  He has promised to try to heal the wounds of divisiveness that have festered for the past decade, and especially the last four years.  I fully believe he will try to do exactly that, but his success depends on us … We the People must be willing to work together, to put aside petty and irrelevant differences.  Are we willing to do that?  I wish I could answer in the affirmative, but it’s rather like a loaf of moldy bread.  If there are just a few little spots of mold, you can cut them off and the bread is still good.  But, there comes a point where there is more mold than bread and you might just as well throw it out and buy a new loaf.

Unlike the moldy bread, we cannot simply throw out all the people of this nation and start over, so we have two choices:  we either learn the art of compromise, learn to embrace rather than eschew our cultural and ethnic diversity, learn to respect our fellow humans, else we will devolve into a nation of violence where it isn’t even safe to be on the streets.  We need to stop the petty bickering, need to accept that things won’t always go our way, need to learn to adapt to adversity.

It’s our choice what direction this country takes in the coming year, my friends.  Government can only do so much … the rest is up to us.  My New Year’s wish for us all is that we can build bridges instead of walls, offer friendship instead of hate, put away the guns and offer the proverbial carrot rather than the stick.  The choice is ours …