Beto O’Rourke: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I bring you the 10th 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. Beto O’Rourke is on deck today. Last year, Mr. O’Rourke challenged Senator Ted Cruz for his Senate seat and came very close to winning. He is, in my opinion, an exciting candidate, so let’s learn a bit more about his platform. Thank you, TokyoSand, and your diligent volunteers, for helping us get to know Mr. O’Rourke!

Political⚡Charge

Beto Beto O’Rourke, Photo by MICHAEL STRAVATO via The Texas Tribune

The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. To briefly use a sports analogy, I see our candidates as the starting players on the Blue team, each bringing 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…

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Slavery and Chocolate: Some Not-So-Sweet Truths

Blogging buddy Brendan is a warrior for social justice, and this afternoon I came across this post that cries out to be shared. I must admit that I was clueless about all of this until I read this post. I only wish I had seen it before I bought candy yesterday for the girls’ Easter baskets. Well, live and learn, yes? Thank you, Brendan, for shining a light on these abuses, for I think it likely that many are unaware, as was I.

Blind Injustice

Every Valentine’s Day, Easter, birthday, and Christmas, many of us in the United States like to give chocolate to friends and/or family. Most of us look forward to getting that sweet goodness during those times of year.

For better or for worse, I’m about to sour that sweetness because of some ugly truths about slavery and chocolate.

Namely, there is a good chance that the chocolate you eat was made by slaves. But not just any slaves. Child labor.

A variety of sources have widely reported on how the three major American chocolate manufacturers—Hershey, Nestlé, and Mars (the makers of M&Ms)—all produce chocolate made with child labor. It has been a persistent problem, and a problem that isn’t getting resolved quickly.

Fortune Magazine best describes this problem in an article they wrote about the issue:
“The major chocolate companies—from Mars to Nestlé to Hershey—are heavily reliant on these countries…

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Game Over? I Think NOT, Donnie Boy!

The republicans are, once again, dancing in the streets and pouring champagne over each other’s heads.  Party hearty, republican friends, but guess what?  The game isn’t over, but has just begun.  The redacted report that we were given is only part of the story, but even that part is proof that Trump & Co are guilty of having conspired with Russian agents to rig the election in 2016 and put Trump in office.  What more there is, will eventually be discovered.  But … republicans?  Let me ask you a question.  Why, if Trump had nothing to hide and was guilty of naught, did he make this statement when apprised of the hiring of Special Counsel Robert Mueller …

“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”

And then he proceeded to berate the bearer of the news, then-Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Why, guys?  Doesn’t that sound like the voice of a guilty man?  Sure does to me.

Now on to the present.  Yesterday morning, as I noted in my snarky snippets yesterday, Attorney General William Barr felt it prudent to give us his version of the Mueller report.  Unnecessary and unwanted, but here are a few of the proven lies he told in that event:

  • … We now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign – or the knowing assistance of any other Americans for that matter.
  • … The Special Counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials.
  • … The White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. (This one damn near caused me to choke to death!)

Even Fox News’ own Chris Wallace criticized Barr, saying …

“The attorney general seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president, rather than the attorney general, talking about his motives, his emotions.”

Let us consider, for a moment, that even if Mueller’s investigation did not turn up indictable criminal activity on the part of Trump, it damn sure did turn up improper behaviour, especially toward the investigation itself.  According to the Associated Press …

Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president. Trump was largely thwarted by those around him.

Mueller laid out multiple episodes in which Trump directed others to influence or curtail the Russia investigation after the special counsel’s appointment in May 2017. Those efforts “were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller wrote.

I ask you … is this the ‘man’ you want to lead this nation?  Seriously?

Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, has appropriately determined that the committee needs to hear directly from Mr. Mueller, and as such sent him this letter …Nadler-letter-Mueller

This should make for some real interesting conversations in the White House.

Of course, the republicans are reading into the report what they wish to see … or more likely, are simply accepting Barr’s version, for that is what they want to believe.  Take the blinders off now, people … time to wake up from that little nappie.

“The report is one-sided, it has an incredible standard of proof. It’s that ‘we couldn’t be convinced that he didn’t obstruct justice,’. Can you prove that he did? That answer is, no they can’t. That is like a cheap shot, but if they can’t prove it, why don’t they just regurgitate all the garbage that they have? It’s all one-sided, a lot of it not true, a lot of it exaggerated. Even if it’s all true, which it isn’t, he didn’t commit a crime. He didn’t do anything wrong.” – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is preparing a rebuttal to the Mueller report

I liked what Jim Wright had to say, and I fully concur at this point …

Impeach Trump.

There is more than enough reason to begin impeachment proceedings. We impeached both Nixon and Clinton for far less than is in the Mueller Report.

So, impeach Trump.

Impeach him in the House. Take up the investigation, one he CANNOT stop or obstruct or redact, one his pet Attorney General and his cronies cannot impede, one that Trump himself has NO control over whatsoever, and impeach him if that’s where the evidence leads.

THEN if the Senate refuses to convict, if Mitch McConnell refuses to take up the impeachment, refuses his duty and the Senate stands by him, hang it around their dirty cowardly necks like a fucking albatross.

Make them own it in 2020. Make them own it forever.

Surely, if they can read, even the republicans in Congress must now agree that Donald Trump has committed, if not indictable crimes, certainly impeachable offenses.  He does not operate in the best interest of this nation.  He is a president in name only.  Game over, Mr. Trump?  Far from it.

Chuckles …

Good afternoon, folks.  I have been bouncing about the ‘net for a bit, while waiting for the .pdf version of the Mueller report, and I thought this might be a good time to enjoy a bit of humour.  So, let’s take a bit of a break from the news to see how those talented cartoonists are viewing the events of the week, shall we?

The fire on Monday that destroyed parts of the historic Notre Dame Cathedral is certainly nothing to joke about, but I came across a few cartoons that I thought tastefully paid homage to the great landmark …

Bruce Plante Cartoon: The Easter LilyNotre-Dame-2Notre-Dame-3

Last week, Trump threatened to relocate immigrants to sanctuary cities, specifically in Speaker of the House Pelosi’s district, as a retaliatory measure for failure to provide funding for his border wall.  Thus far, he has been stopped from doing so by slightly cooler heads who question both the cost and illegality of such a childish measure …

MigrantsMigrants-2

Those who follow sports celebrated Tiger Woods’ comeback moment last week …

Tiger-Woods

Monday was the deadline to submit your taxes to the IRS.  Remember that little box on the first page …

taxes-billionairetaxes-billionaire-2

Many of us see that the entire system of checks and balances, of democracy, indeed the Constitution itself, is being eroded under the current administration, and the ‘toonists haven’t let that one slide …

democracy-U.S.democracy-U.S.-2democracy-U.S.-3

trump-constitution

And, of course, the main topic on the minds of us all this week is the release of the Mueller report and Attorney General Barr’s boot-licking antics surrounding the release …

BarrBarr-2Barr-3Barr-4barr-5MuellerMueller-2Mueller-3

Last but not least, scientists have taken a picture of a black hole.  Not being a science-minded person, I didn’t get as excited about this news as some, though if we could find a way to toss our current administration into that black hole, I might manage a bit of joy …

Trump-black-holeanti-vaxxer

And that’s a wrap for today, my friends!

It’s Time For … Snarky Snippets!

You could probably have predicted my angst would be running high today and I would pop up with a new batch of Snarky Snippets, yes?  You guys know me so well!  I have been pounding my keyboard so hard that I no longer have an ‘I’, ‘O’, ‘L’, or ‘N’ … the keys work, but the lettering has been worn off.  Good thing, I guess, that I took that typing class back in high school so I know where the letters are even without lettering to guide me!


Aw shucks, Mr. Barr … we can read as good as you … maybe even better!

I don’t know about you folks, but I learned basic reading skills at an early age.  Since then, those skills have been enhanced and honed, and I am now quite capable of reading many things.  There are things I choose not to read, for they either bore me or are offensive, but my literacy skills are at least on a par with most people’s.  Why, I have even read the U.S. Constitution, something that has not, as I understand it, been done by the ‘man’ who swore under oath to uphold said document.

Along comes Mr. William Barr, the alleged Attorney General of the United States, who determines that We the People are not capable of reading a 400-page document, the Robert Mueller report, and that we haven’t the intelligence to understand it, even if we could make out the words.  So … Mr. Barr decided that he would just save us the trouble of having to struggle with all that reading, and he would call a press conference and ‘splain it all to us!  Why, isn’t that nice of him?

Barr-puppetAnd, guess what else!  Mr. Barr delayed the release of the document in order to have numerous meetings with Trump’s lawyers.  Why, you ask?  Well, remember back when Robert Mueller first presented the report to Mr. Barr, and Barr wrote his own 4-page little summary, whereby he informed us that Trump, Ivanka, Kushner and all the rest were innocent of any and all wrongdoing, and that Mueller’s report cleared their names?  Turns out that Barr felt Trump’s lawyers ought to write their own little report to ‘splain just how, even though Trump & his cronies were in frequent communication with Putin and other Russians, there was no wrongdoing, for we might mistakenly decide on our own that there is some guilt there.  William Barr — Trump’s puppet on a string.

I will not be watching Mr. Barr tell fairy tales at 9:30 a.m., nor do I have any immediate interest in the rebuttal document by Giuliani and Co., though I will no doubt read that later just to see how the spin doctors played their hand.  I will, however, be reading the document prepared by Mr. Robert Mueller, whom I trust emphatically.  And I will draw my own conclusions based on the modicum of intelligence that I possess.  The next act in this play needs to be for Robert Mueller to testify before Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, where not everybody is drinking Kool-Aid.


Two thumbs up 👍 👍 for New York City!

Some good news from New York City.  While Donald Trump and his cronies trash regulations to protect our environment and do everything they can think of to hasten the demise of the human race, New York is taking a big, positive step.  The New York city council is expected to pass legislation today that will set emission caps for buildings and impose strict fines for those buildings that are found not in compliance.  Their stated goal is to achieve a 40% overall reduction in emissions by the year 2030.  It’s not enough, but it’s a start, and a damn sight better than our federal government is doing!NYC skylineAccording to the New York Times

Buildings are among the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions because they use lots of energy for heating, cooling and lighting, and they tend to be inefficient, leaking heat in the winter and cool air in the summer through old windows or inadequate insulation. An inventory of greenhouse gas emissions published in 2017 found that buildings accounted for 67 percent of the city’s emissions.

I admit a bit of demonic glee picturing Trump trying to figure a way around the law.  That is, until I remember that he is ‘above the law’ and will likely be the largest violator.  I hope the city goes after him with the big guns!


It makes sense … it makes perfect sense!Bernie-Sanders-FoxWhen I first heard that Bernie Sanders, not only a democrat, but a democratic socialist candidate, was appearing on Fox ‘News’, it was one of those wtf moments.  But then I pondered on it, did a bit of reading, and suddenly the 💡 came on over my head.  It’s positively brilliant, for a few reasons:

  • Most Trump-supporters are Fox viewers, and vice versa. Therefore, they really have no idea what the democrats stand for, because all they have to judge by is what they are told by the likes of Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Tucker Carlson, and of course Trump himself.  This gives them an opportunity to see that democrats are not, in fact, the big bad wolf, but people whose goals are humanitarian.  Now, I don’t look for them all to jump up and go change their party affiliation after seeing Bernie or another democratic candidate on their favourite news network, but it might open their minds a bit, might actually cause them to start thinking about some of the issues, realizing that there is more to it than they have been told.

  • It gives the democrats an edge they would not otherwise have … it shows they are not pandering only to their own supporters, but are reaching out to everyone. That’s important, folks, if you remember my post from last night where I posited that Trump is not our president because he speaks to and for only those who praise him.  The democrats, by appearing on Fox, are showing that they are for the entire nation, not just their own corner.

  • It is irritating the heck out of Trump! Could this be the end of the romance between Trump & Fox?

Other democratic candidates are slated to appear on Fox as well, including Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Julián Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cory Booker.  Sanders’ appearance at a Fox Town Hall garnered the biggest television audience of any 2020 Democratic candidate — more than 2.5 million people.  This is a great way for the candidates to begin ‘reaching across the aisle’, and who knows … maybe a few Trump supporters may decide to sit on the other side of the aisle.


Well, I’m about out of snark for tonight, so I’ll return you to whatever you were doing.  great-day

Filosofa Reflects …

The majority of the people in the United States have no president.  Only about 40% of the people in the U.S. are represented by a president.  Now, I do not make this statement lightly, nor with the intention of being offensive.  I am merely stating a fact.  I am not registered with either party, but consider myself an independent, although I am considering changing that status in the near future.  I have lived through 12 full presidencies, from Harry S. Truman through Barack H. Obama … 6 were republicans, 6 were democrats.  Although I sometimes disagreed with the policies or certain decisions of those men, I still respected them and considered them as presidents. Every one of them, I felt, was doing the best he could to represent the people of this nation … ALL the people of this nation, not just those who praised them.

Today, however, is different.  Donald Trump is the president in name only for the majority – about 60% – of the people in this country but does not represent them.  He does not listen to us, but only to the people who show up at his campaign rallies wearing red hats and chanting “Lock her up”.  Those of us who do not like his bigotry, his racism, his incitement to violence, his name-calling and ignominious bluster, he calls ‘treasonous’.  He threatens our elected representatives in Congress.  He tells lies that his own supporters enjoy hearing, but that the rest of us know to be falsehoods.

To the best of my knowledge, there has never been another president so entrenched in partisanship that he completely ignored the needs of the majority, pandering only to the minority.  We, the majority, need representation also.  Who is there to speak for us?  Who is there to represent our values of diversity, peace, humanitarianism?  Who is there to say that no, we do not want to lock children in cages just because they are from another place?  It is truly a sad day in the history of this nation, a nation no better and no worse than any other, when most of the people are without a voice.

People in Trump’s camp mock the saying “Not my president”, but it isn’t just a saying, it is the reality.  Donald Trump does not bother with the pretense. He is speaking to his people, not the people. He has become, or so it often seems, the president of the United Base of America.

I have long believed that old adage, “United we stand, divided we fall”, and yet Trump seeks to divide, relishes the division that, while not of his making, he has encouraged and enhanced with his divide-and-conquer politics.  Perhaps we are coming upon a time where this nation must become many instead of just one, for we are now so far apart in ideology that I cannot see a united nation in the future.  On the right, there are the nationalists, tribalists, who prefer a nation sans immigrants, a nation where it’s basically “every man for himself” rather than a nation where all people are equal.

I see a nation where those in Trump’s camp care more about their guns than their own children.  I see a nation where ‘hate’ is becoming the norm.  I see a nation where violence is seething just under the surface, waiting for a single spark to set it off.  I see a nation where for far too many, acceptance of others is based on skin colour, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.  I see a nation where profits are valued more highly than humans.  I see a nation where for some, there is no care for the future, but it’s “live for today, and to hell with tomorrow”.

I don’t like the nation I see.  We need a president.  We need a president who governs, not rules – there is a difference.  We need … nay, we must have a president who is not above the law. We need a president where every single person matters, not just those who support him, not just those whose skin is white, not just Christians, and even not just citizens, but everybody.  We need a president who understands the word ‘respect’. People matter.

I want change in this country.  I want us to heal the rifts, and that cannot, will not happen as long as Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office spouting hate and encouraging bigotry, tribalism and violence.  We need to focus more on what we have in common than those issues that divide us.  We need to talk to each other, not at each other.  We need to meet each other halfway sometimes.  We need to take care of our planet, putting the future ahead of corporate greed.  These things cannot happen under the regime of Donald Trump, for he will do everything in his power to keep it from happening, to keep us divided and hating.

Think about it.

How Mitch McConnell Killed The Senate

On occasion, I share with you the work of Robert Reich.  Mr. Reich has served under three U.S. presidents of both parties and is a wise man who sees things as they are and isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade.  In the following essay, he analyzes the ways in which McConnell is changing not only the Senate, but the whole of the U.S. system.  I think his words are worth sharing …

 

Robert Reich-4How Mitch McConnell Killed The Senate

by Robert Reich

Congress has recessed for two weeks without passing a desperately-needed disaster relief bill. Why not? Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t want to anger Donald Trump by adding money for Puerto Rico that Democrats have sought but Trump doesn’t want.

America used to have a Senate. But under McConnell, what was once known as the world’s greatest deliberative body has become a partisan lap dog.

Recently McConnell used his Republican majority to cut the time for debating Trump’s court appointees from 30 hours to two – thereby enabling Republicans to ram through even more Trump judges.

In truth, McConnell doesn’t give a fig about the Senate, or about democracy. He cares only about partisan wins.

On the eve of the 2010 midterm elections he famously declared that his top priority was for Barack Obama “to be a one-term president.”

Between 2009 and 2013, McConnell’s Senate Republicans blocked 79 Obama nominees. In the entire history of the United States until that point, only 68 presidential nominees had been blocked.

This unprecedented use of the filibuster finally led Senate Democrats in 2013 to change the rules on some presidential nominees (but not the Supreme Court) to require simple majorities.

In response, McConnell fumed that “breaking the rules to change the rules is un-American.” If so, McConnell is about as un-American as they come. Once back in control of the Senate he buried Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court by refusing even to hold hearings.

Then, in 2017, McConnell and his Republicans changed the rules again, ending the use of the filibuster even for Supreme Court nominees and clearing the way for Senate confirmation of Trump’s Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Step by step, McConnell has sacrificed the Senate as an institution to partisan political victories.

There is a vast difference between winning at politics by playing according to the norms of our democracy, and winning by subverting those norms.

To Abraham Lincoln, democracy was a covenant linking past and future. Political institutions, in his view, were “the legacy bequeathed to us.”

On the eve of the Senate’s final vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act in July 2017, the late John McCain returned to Washington from his home in Arizona, where he was being treated for brain cancer, to cast the deciding vote against repeal.

Knowing he would be criticized by other Republicans, McCain noted that over his career he had known senators who seriously disagreed with each other but nonetheless understood “they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively.”

In words that have even greater relevance today, McCain added that “it is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than ‘winning’.”

In politics, success should never be measured solely by partisan victories. It must also be judged by the institutional legacy passed onward. The purpose of political leadership is not merely to win. It is to serve.

In any social or political system it’s always possible to extract benefits by being among the first to break widely accepted norms. In a small town where people don’t lock their doors or windows, the first thief can effortlessly get into anyone’s house. But once broken, the system is never the same. Everyone has to buy locks. Trust deteriorates.

Those, like Mitch McConnell, who break institutional norms for selfish or partisan gains are bequeathing future generations a weakened democracy.

The difference between winning at politics by playing according to the norms and rules of our democracy, and winning by subverting them, could not be greater. Political victories that undermine the integrity of our system are net losses for society.

Great athletes play by the rules because the rules make the game. Unprincipled athletes cheat or change the rules in order to win. Their victories ultimately destroy the game.

In terms of shaping the federal courts, McConnell has played “the long game”, which, incidentally, is the title of his 2016 memoir. Decades from now, McConnell will still be shaping the nation through judges he rammed through the Senate.

But McConnell’s long game is destroying the Senate.

He is longest-serving leader of Senate Republicans in history but Mitch McConnell is no leader. He is the epitome of unprincipled power. History will not treat him kindly.

She … She Said WHAT???

Ms. Sarah Huckabee Sanders sold whatever soul or conscience she once may have had long ago, perhaps on May 5, 2017 when she held her first White House press briefing, standing in for then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer.  Mr. Spicer ultimately had the good sense to realize that he would not be able to sleep at nights if he continued telling the outrageous lies demanded by Trump, for he was possessed of a conscience.

Sarah-cartoon-2I largely ignore Ms. Sanders, for she is naught but a mouthpiece, says what she is told to say, and I cannot stand to look at her facial contortions nor hear her whiny voice.  However, this past weekend she was on a tear, and dear friend Ellen fed me just enough tidbits to pique my curiosity, so I had to go see for myself.  Sigh.  Where is that blood pressure medicine???

How doth she offend me?  Let me count the ways …

During an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox ‘News’ Sunday

Sarah-Sanders-Chris-Wallace“I don’t think Congress — particularly not this group of congressmen and women — are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump’s taxes will be.  My guess is that most of them don’t do their own taxes, and I certainly don’t trust them to look through the decades of success that the president has and determine anything.”

Grrrrrr.  Any single member of Congress is more qualified to review those taxes than Ms. Sanders, and we don’t need ‘thousands of pages’.  We’re only asking for six lousy years’ worth!  And Sarah … “success”???  The ‘man’ with more than 5,000 lawsuits in his career?  Think about that one, sweet cheeks.

“[Trump] is a person and a president of law and order. That’s his entire focus since coming in is actually restoring law and order to this country. … The president has asked them to do everything they can and everything they’re allowed to do under the law to stop the massive crisis we have at our southern border. It’s the same thing he says publicly day in and day out.”

Grrrrrrrrrr.  Law and order???  Did she really say ‘law and order’?  Trump believes himself and his minions to be above the law.  He incites violence, defends lawless organizations such as white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and she says he’s about law and order?  There was no crisis at the southern border until Trump fabricated one, then started stealing children from their parents and tossing them into cages, not even bothering to keep track of where they were!  Just last week Trump privately urged acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, to close the border and told him that he would issue a pardon if McAleenan ran into any legal troubles for doing so.  How is this ‘law and order’???Sarah-cartoonOn This Week with George Stephanopoulos …

Regarding Trump’s ignominious, hateful tweet about Representative Ilhan Omar:

“It’s absolutely abhorrent the comments she continues to make and has made and Democrats look the other way. I find what her comments to be absolutely disgraceful and unbefitting of a member of Congress and I think that it’s a good thing that the president is calling her out for those comments, and the big question is why aren’t Democrats doing it as well.”

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  If you could be bothered, Ms. Sanders, to read the entirety of Representative Omar’s CAIR speech, perhaps you could better understand that the single sentence your boss chose to focus on was taken completely out of context and that there was not a damn thing wrong with what she said!  She did something you never do … she told the truth!  Your boss put her life in danger, with a childish, juvenile act more befitting a 9-year-old than a 72-year-old who happens to be, for better or for worse, the leader of a nation.

Sarah-Sanders-3I’m certain that if I wished to dig deeper, I could find even more, but already I had to take a break from writing this post to de-stress by washing a sink full of dishes … don’t worry, I only broke a couple.  The job of a White House press secretary is to serve as a liaison between the president and the press.  Ms. Sanders is, rather, a puppet … a mouthpiece, who is so pre-programmed that when she is asked a question, the best she can do is condemn the reporter who asked it.  I suppose that if one lacks intelligence, the best defense is a good offense, and Ms. Sanders has that one down pat – she is very offensive.

HELP!!! — Part I

People who are not consumed by greed or blinded by Trumpism understand that the human race is racing toward self-extinction as a result of careless lifestyle habits in the industrial age.  It isn’t just one single thing, but a conglomeration of many things, the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, increasing use of plastics, increased consumption of beef and pork, overpopulation, far too many vehicles on the roadways, and more.  Credible climate science tells us that we have a very narrow window of time to take major steps to control and reverse the damage being done to the atmosphere.  And yet, while many countries are heeding the call, the United States is not, as a nation, taking the warnings seriously.

Point in case is this headline from ThinkProgress:

Republicans push anti-wind bills in several states as renewables grow increasingly popular

In regions like the South, the potential for renewable energy abounds. That isn’t going over well with fossil fuel interests.

Data shows that renewable alternatives to energy sources like coal are increasingly cheaper, in addition to helping offset greenhouse gas emissions. But as they continue to gain prominence, power sources like wind are becoming a popular target for those with a vested interest in fossil fuels. Now, opponents are using everything from national security arguments to targeting tax incentives in order to hobble wind power.

North Carolina is one of several states in which lawmakers are pushing new proposals to undercut wind energy. State Senator Harry Brown has proposed Senate Bill 377, the ‘Military Base Protection Act’, that posits that wind farms pose a national security risk and would essentially outlaw wind farms built on land within 100 miles of the state’s coast.

North Carolina’s Amazon Wind Farm, the first large-scale wind farm in the state, went through years of review and permitting studies, in addition to coordinating with the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense. Proponents of renewable energy say arguments about national security are just another way for fossil fuel interests to dissuade potential wind and solar investments in the state.

Folks, I don’t care if you’re republican or democrat, Christian, Jew or atheist, you are a member of the human race, and as such ought to care a bit more than this about our home.  Members of Congress, state legislatures, and voters need to wake the heck up!  CEOs of fossil fuel interests need to take their heads out of their patooties and realize that all that lovely money they are making isn’t going to do them a damn bit of good when they’re dead!  And dead is where they, their children, and their children’s children are going to be before the end of this century if this greed and ignorance continues!

An environmental firm, Energy Innovation in partnership with the grid analysis company Vibrant Clean Energy, issued a report on March 24th.  Their findings …

America has officially entered the “coal cost crossover” – where existing coal is increasingly more expensive than cleaner alternatives.  Today, local wind and solar could replace approximately 74 percent of the U.S. coal fleet at an immediate savings to customers. By 2025, this number grows to 86 percent of the coal fleet.

There is no longer any justification for the fight against renewable energy, and yet corporate greed and politicians in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry are trying to keep this nation from moving ahead.  Trump has claimed that there was a “war on coal” and that he is ending it, even calling for a bail-out of the coal industry.  There is no “war on coal”, but there is a battle to save the human race from extinction – a near certainty if we do not act soon.

Take Iceland, for example.  They are the country that generates the most clean electricity per capita on earth, with almost 100% of its energy coming from renewable sources.  Sweden, Costa Rica, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark … the list goes on of countries that are taking climate change effects seriously and being proactive in the fight to save lives, to save the planet.  The United States does not even come close.  There are states, cities and even some companies that are doing their part, but the effort needs to be wide-scale, it needs to start at the federal level.

I wish to leave you with something to think about.  Look ahead just a few years.  Many countries will have, through great effort and planning, ceased drilling, mining, or using fossil fuels, but instead will be relying 100% on renewable energy sources.  They will have become carbon-neutral, have stopped using single-use plastics, and found innovative ways to clean up the air and coastlines.  The United States may be the only nation that is doing … nothing.  Now, our pollution doesn’t just affect us, but affects the entire globe.  If you were, say, Germany or the United Kingdom, how would you feel about this?

fat-baronI can foresee a time when the European Union joins with other nations to offer an ultimatum to the United States that, if ignored, could lead to all-out war.  I wonder if the fat coal and oil barons will still think their profits are so all-important?  Frankly, if they were smart men, they would have seen this coming long ago and began investing their resources into renewables, phasing out the coal mines and oil fields.  But they are not intelligent beings, only greedy ones.  And they don’t give a rat’s you-know-what about you or me, or even their own grandchildren.

It’s time to get serious about this, folks … matter of fact, it’s way past time.  Stay tuned, for I am not finished!solar-energy

Small & Feeble Minds …

I live in a community that is probably 35% refugees from Middle-Eastern countries.  Our neighbors to the right are refugees from first Iraq, then Syria and have become our closest friends.  We share meals and holidays, share our cultures, laughter and love.  In the days following 9/11, another Iraqi family down the street whose daughters were friends with Miss Goose came to our door asking if there was anything they could do for us and saying how very sorry they were for what had happened.  I was so touched.  The police had to place patrols in the parking lot of the local mosque 24/7, for the Muslim community began receiving threats.  It was a tough time for us all … including our Muslim brothers and sisters.

We’ve come a long way since September 11, 2001.  Or have we?  Last November, the people of this nation elected three Muslim women to the U.S. House of Representatives, which would seem to indicate that we are moving … have moved … past the bigotry and Islamophobia that seemed in some ways to define the days and weeks after 9/11.  However, at least one person in this nation seems to have a problem with those women, one in particular.  The person I refer to is Donald Trump, and the newly-elected representative is Ilhan Omar, a representative from the state of Minnesota.Ilhan-Omar-Time-magIt all started back in February when Ms. Omar made a comment criticizing Israel’s occupation of Palestine.  House Minority Leader and member of the House Freedom Caucus, Kevin McCarthy, jumped all over her comment, saying it was even worse than Representative Steve King’s support of white supremacy.  He claimed her comment was ‘anti-Semitic’ (it was not), and rallied the forces of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) to condemn Ms. Omar.  What happened next was a series of back-and-forth that isn’t worth the time and space to relate here, but suffice it to say that Ms. Omar made quite clear that she was not speaking against the Jewish people, but against the state of Israel overstepping its bounds by occupying Palestine.  For the record, I agree with her.

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association), of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policies?”

Then last month, Ms. Omar once again came under fire after giving a speech at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), where she was speaking in response to the two mosque shootings in New Zealand, speaking about the lingering fear directed at Muslims since 9/11, and the rights Muslims have to speak out about being viewed with suspicion.

“CAIR was founded after 9/11, because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. Many people expect our community to feel like it needs to hide every time something happens. But repeatedly we have shown them that we are not to be bullied, not to be threatened, we are not to be terrorized, we are strong and resilient, and we will always show up to be ourselves because we know we have a right to a dignified existence and a dignified life.”

Many of us knew this would get worse, we finally have a leader, a world leader, in the White House who publicly says ‘Islam hates us,’ who fuels hate against Muslims, who thinks it is okay to speak about a faith and a whole community in a way that is dehumanizing, vilifying and doesn’t understand — or at least makes us want to think he doesn’t understand — the consequences his words might have.”

And once again, the republicans and Donald Trump were off the rails, with one comment I read even referring to CAIR as a ‘terrorist organization’.  There is no need for me to repeat all the ignorant comments that came out of the depths of ignorance, but one person took the hate and bigotry a step further, possibly even putting Ms. Omar’s life in danger.  That person is Donald Trump.

On Friday, Donald Trump who calls himself a ‘president’, took one small portion of Ms. Omar’s speech out of context and re-tweeted a doctored video that I will not replay here, for it denigrates every citizen of this nation, including Representative Omar, but suffice it to say that it attempts to show her as being dismissive of the lives that were lost on that tragic day.  This is the work of a small and feeble mind.  When the ‘man’ at the helm of a nation of more than 300 million people resorts to such juvenile tactics, he incites violence by the other small and feeble minds in the nation.  Who, really, is the terrorist here?  It seems to me the one who calls himself a ‘president’ is as much a terrorist as were Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah.

Predictably, the republicans and conservative media outlets went wild.  Ms. Omar has already been the focus of threats, including one by a Trump supporter who was recently arrested.  On April 7, Patrick Carlineo Jr., an ardent Trump supporter, was arrested for making violent threats in a phone call to Omar’s office. According to the criminal complaint, on March 21, Carlineo told one of Omar’s staff: “Omar’s a fucking terrorist. I’ll put a bullet in her fucking skull.”

Is this really the sort of nation we want to be?  Is this how we want to be viewed as a society?  The majority of us are capable of thinking for ourselves, reading or hearing Ms. Omar’s speech and understanding that it was a plea for inclusiveness, a condemnation of bigotry.  Sadly, however, there are people in this nation who, rather than use their own minds, prefer to believe what they are told.  In truth, we should be able to believe what the president of the country tells us, but under the current regime, it has been proven thousands of times that he lies to suit his own purposes.

I have the utmost respect for Representative Ilhan Omar, and if anything happens to her, her blood will be on the hands of one Donald Trump.  It’s time, people, to wake up and oust this abomination who some call ‘president’.