“It’ll Start Getting Cooler. You Just Watch.”

I’ve written a couple of times in the past week about the West Coast wildfires, but our friend Jeff today shared an open letter to Trump by the esteemed Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, that pulls no punches, that “tells it like it is”! I have always respected Governor Inslee, and now even more so! Thanks, Jeff, for sharing this letter!

On The Fence Voters

Every day, the current president seems to be on a mission to eliminate as many people as he can in the United States of America. Whether it’s through his immense incompetence and failures to address the worst pandemic in a century, or ignoring the ongoing climate crisis, we can see in real time how devastating another four years of this administration would be to human life and suffering.

Today, I’d like to share a letter written by the current Governor of the state of Washington, Jay Inslee, that was published today on Medium. In it, he addresses the current president in an open letter to lambaste him for his abject failure to even acknowledge there’s a climate crisis emergency in progress.

Open letter to President Donald Trump on the role of climate change in historic wildfires

WA Governor’s Office

WA Governor’s OfficeFollowSep 14·5min read

September 14, 2020

The Honorable…

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When Good People Don’t Act …

Over the last couple of years, I have wondered how so many of my friends could seemingly ignore what was happening in this nation.  It is as if they are oblivious to anything that is outside their own little world, as if they were wearing blinders and could not see the atrocities happening in our nation, but instead focus exclusively on what’s for supper, what concert they will go to next weekend, the cute little things their kids or grandkids said yesterday.  As if … nothing has changed, life goes on, it isn’t their problem that kids are kept in cages, that more than a thousand people die every day from the coronavirus, fires are raging on the West Coast, climate change is taking a steep toll and we are doing less than nothing to stop it, and there is a madman at the helm who will soon drive this ship into an iceberg.  None of that seems to bother far too many of the people I know.  Where is the outrage?  Do they simply not care?

The following by Charles Blow in yesterday’s New York Times mirrors my own thoughts, only much more eloquently than I can state them.


When Good People Don’t Act, Evil Reigns

Stop thinking that the horrors of the world will simply work themselves out.

Charles BlowCharles M. Blow

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

I have often wondered how major world tragedies and horrors were allowed to unfold. Where were all the good people, those who objected or should have? How did life simply go on with a horror in their midst?

How did the trans-Atlantic slave trade play out over hundreds of years? How did slavery thrive in this country? How was the Holocaust allowed to happen? How did the genocides in Rwanda or Darfur come to be?

There is, of course, nearly always an explanation. Often it is official policy; often it is driven by propaganda. But I’m more concerned with how people in the society considered these events at the time, and how any semblance of normalcy could be maintained while events unfolded.

It turns out that our current era is providing the unsettling answer: It was easy.

As I write this, nearly two hundred thousand Americans have died — many of them needlessly — from Covid-19, in large part because the Trump administration has refused to sufficiently address the crisis, be honest with the American people and urge caution. Instead, Trump has lied about the virus, downplayed it, resisted scientists’ warnings and continues to hold rallies with no social distancing and no mask requirements.

Things are poised to get worse: Models now predict that the number of Americans killed by the virus could double between now and Jan. 1. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington:

“We expect the daily death rate in the U.S., because of seasonality and declining public vigilance, to reach nearly 3,000 a day in December. Cumulative deaths expected by Jan. 1 are 415,090; this is 222,522 deaths from now until the end of the year.”

And yet, Americans still flock to Trump rallies, Republicans continue to defend his pandemic response and it is not clear that he will be defeated in November. We are, in many states, back to restaurants and bars, schools and churches, gyms and spas. It’s not as if we don’t know that there is a deadly virus being transmitted through the air, but it seems as though many Americans, weary of restrictions, have simply made their peace with it.

We have a climate crisis that continues to worsen. Storms are getting stronger. Droughts are severe. Rivers are flooding. The sea level is rising. And yet, we don’t do nearly enough to stop it and may not do enough before it’s too late to do anything.

Right now much of the West Coast is ablaze with hellish scenes of orange skies, and yet too many of us entertain climate change deniers, or, perhaps worse, know well the gravity and precariousness of the situation and still haven’t changed our habits or voted for the candidates with the boldest visions to save the planet.

Right now, China has detained as many as one million mostly Muslim citizens, in indoctrination camps, hoping to remold many into what The New York Times called “loyal blue-collar workers to supply Chinese factories with cheap labor.”

And yet, the world does little. Many look away. Life goes on.

This is how these catastrophes happen — in full sight — and people with full knowledge don’t revolt. People sometimes think that the issue is far away, or if it’s not, that it’s too big and they are too powerless.

They think provincially, or even parochially, concerned with their own house, their own street, their own community.

“It’s too bad that those children are in cages, but I can’t worry about that now, the clothes in the dryer need folding.”

“It’s too bad that an unarmed Black man just got shot by the police, but I can’t worry about that now, the yard needs mowing.”

I guess in some ways this impulse is self-protecting, preventing the mind and spirit from becoming overwhelmed with angst and rage. But, the result is that evil — as a person or system — rampages, unchecked, taking your personal laissez-faire as public license.

If you don’t complain, you condone.

But this mustn’t be. Stop thinking of yourself as weak or helpless. Stop thinking that things will simply work themselves out. Stop thinking that evil will stop at the gate and not trample your own garden.

Gather the energy. Gather your neighbor. Fight, vote, email, post. Do all you can to stand up for the vulnerable, for the oppressed, for the planet itself. Don’t let history record this moment as it has recorded too many others: a time when good people did too little to confront wickedness and disaster.

As Edmund Burke wrote in his 1770 “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents”: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

But you may be more familiar with another quote often attributed to Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

While The West Coast Burns …

The West Coast of the United States is on fire.  Property is being devoured by the hungry flames, lives are being lost, people are being uprooted with nowhere to go, having lost everything.  Surely the nation’s leader must be on top of this situation, must be worried and seeking help from all venues to assist in the firefighting, yes?  Well, no … not exactly.  In fact, he hasn’t actually mentioned the fires since a few weeks ago when he taunted California’s Governor Gavin Newsom for not … um … raking the forest properly and threatened to cut off funding to the state.

fires-5Oh, but the so-called leader has many things to draw his attention away from the disaster that is taking lives and leaving thousands homeless!  He is busy throwing away his campaign money on such foolishness as limos and paying his businesses for his own profit.  And he’s very busy watching Fox ‘News’ for 6-9 hours per day, and denigrating Democrats and thinking up new nasty names for us all, but especially his likely successor, Joe Biden.  Oh, and holding mask-free campaign rallies even in cities that have banned large gatherings.

While the nation burns.  The fires that started in California, then spread to Oregon, have also now spread to Washington State.  Consider, if you will, that those three states account for 16% of the U.S. population total, as well as some of the most beautiful natural resources in the nation.  So, why is the person in the White House ignoring the fires in those three states?  For starters …

All three states have Democratic governors:

  • California – Gavin Newsom
  • Oregon – Kate Brown
  • Washington – Jay Inslee

Trump seems to have some misguided notion that democrats are not his problem, that his job is only to represent republicans, and especially those who “like” him.  Another reason …

fires-4The fires are largely a result of climate change.  Trump can still be heard calling climate change a “hoax” (one of his most favourite words) and during his 45-month tenure, he has done everything possible to add to the destruction of our environment.  He has rolled back regulations … nearly every one that was in place to help repair and protect our planet … he has pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accords, letting down every other nation on earth.  He has signed “executive orders” to virtually destroy the planet by the end of the century.  So, to spend time focusing on the fires would be to open himself to intense scrutiny and criticism in his handling of all environmental issues.

And the third reason, I think, is that to care about what is happening on the west coast would require a certain level of empathy, of compassion, and Trump is an emotional black hole when it comes to caring about any but himself.  Even his children and grandchildren are judged by him and found wanting, they may get financial help from him, but they will never receive love or compassion from him.  So, how can we expect him to care about Jacob and Jamie Hyland who just lost their one-year-old child to the wildfires in Washington, while they themselves both suffer serious burns?

fires-7fires-6Or Blake Campos who just lost his house and the family farm to the fires.  Or Dewey and Anabel Bratcher who lost not only their home, but all five of their kitties.  Jesus Mendoza, a 42-year-old tree-trimmer who lost his home, truck, car and all of the equipment he uses for his gardening business. Eileen Menzies Gram, age 78, who lost her ranch, all of her possessions and several of her animals in the fire. The list is endless already and there is no end in sight.  Do you believe for one minute that Donald Trump cares about any of these people?  If you do, please contact me, for I can give you a great deal on a bridge – practically new, barely used!

fires-1fires-2fires-3I have a number of friends who live on the west coast, who are potentially in danger of losing their homes, their livelihoods, perhaps even their lives.  In fact, our friend Jeff Marzick (Brookingslib from On the Fence Voters) lives in Oregon, not too far from the site of one of the fires.  Never having been up close to a wildfire, I can only imagine the trauma, based on the pictures I’ve seen.  For the “leader” of this nation to shrug it off and put all his energies into his re-election bid, his hate campaign against the 60% of the people in the nation who do not support him, is beyond unconscionable.  It is criminal.

We learned this week that Trump intentionally downplayed and blatantly lied about the coronavirus pandemic, calling it a “democratic hoax”.  His greed and corruption, his self-dealing, cost thousands of lives in this nation.  And now, we have wildfires out of control and all he can do is shrug his shoulders and … “Nothing to see here, folks, let’s move on to the Trump Family Circus Show”.

When Trump took that oath of office on January 20, 2017, he swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution and he took his office to support all 330 million people in this country.  Not just whites.  Not just males.  Not just Republicans.  Not just people who “like” him, for whatever reason.  But he has let us down … has let us all down.  Congress cannot step up to the plate and fill in the gaps Trump is leaving, because the majority in the Senate are paid to do Trump’s bidding!  Oh sure, We the People pay their salary, but they are paid much more by big corporations and lobbying groups that see an advantage to keeping Trump in office and therefore they care NOT ONE WHIT about the people in California, Oregon, and Washington.  They care NOT ONE WHIT for the Black people who have been killed by police for no reason other than the colour of their skin.  Like that ‘man’ they have sold their soul for, they have only their own self-interests at heart.

To all our friends on the West Coast … keep safe, and know that you are in my heart and thoughts.

Trump’s Campaign Platform: Abortion

In this year, a year of pandemic, global strife, a looming recession, sky-high unemployment, mortgage foreclosures, millions without health insurance, etc., there are any number of things that I would expect to see on the platform of any candidate for the presidency.  Among them, in no particular order, are …

  • Climate change and environmental issues
  • Education
  • Gun policy
  • Immigration
  • International relations
  • Civil rights
  • Election security
  • Health care
  • Affordable housing
  • Income inequality
  • Minimum wage
  • Campaign finance
  • Taxation
  • Consumer finance protection

And the list goes on.  You may notice that nowhere in my list do you see the word “abortion”.  Abortion is not … or at least should not be … a political issue!  As I’ve said at least a hundred times before, if you think abortion is wrong, then don’t have one!  But don’t impose your religious or moral beliefs on the rest of us!

While it should be a personal issue, not a political one, a good chunk of time on Tuesday night was spent by the republicans at the Republican National Convention, dissing and discussing a woman’s right to have autonomy over her own body.  These people call themselves “pro-life”, but in fact they are not that at all, for most of them support the death penalty, and few of them are in favour of their tax dollars going to help support low income families who are struggling to feed their children.  Most of them seem unconcerned about the extremely high number of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., relative to every other nation.  Most of them own guns and put their right to do so ahead of the rights of the public, and even their own children, to be safe … that in itself puts paid to the “pro-life” argument!

The religious right in this country has become a strangling, suffocating movement whose foray into the political forum is not welcome by the majority of us!  I very intentionally stay as far away as I can from any discussion or opinion on religion, for I truly believe that everyone has the right to believe as they will, and it is not my place or anyone else’s to attempt to bend others to my own beliefs.  HOWEVER … I also expect the same courtesy in return!  I do not expect to have evangelicals or any other religious group tell me what I can do based on the tenets of their religion … tenets that even they do not follow, except when it suits them!  This is exactly why we have separation of church and state.

Separation of church and state means that no religion or religious group has the right to set public policy.  There is good reason for this.  We are a very diverse nation with hundreds of different religions and a good number of us (23%) who ascribe to no religion, as is our right.  It is our right.  We … most of us … do not wish a specific religion to be taught in our schools.  We do not wish to be held to honour laws that are created by and for a particular religious sect, for they may very well go against our own beliefs.

For the right-wing religious extremists to call for government to interfere with a woman’s rights is beyond unconscionable … it is nearly a return to the days when women were considered second-class citizens, subservient to their menfolk.  For no matter how women view this issue, it is largely men who are making the laws in this country, even today.  In fact, one of the speakers at the RNC on Tuesday was a woman named Abby Johnson who sermonized on the ‘evils’ of abortion.  Ms. Johnson’s anti-women ideology goes much further, however, for back in May she spoke of her support for the idea of “household voting”, where only the “head” of each household would be allowed to vote …

“I would support bringing back household voting.  Each household would get one vote. In a Godly household, the husband would get the final say.”

If you are reading this and are not sputtering or spouting obscenities, then I’d have to question what planet you were born on.  And then, on Tuesday night she yammered about abortion …

“This election is a choice between two radical anti-life activists and the most pro-life president we have ever had. That is something that should compel you to action, go door-to-door, make calls, talk to your neighbors and friends, and vote on November 3.”

Really?  So, the republicans honestly think this election is about … abortion???  What about climate change, what about civil rights, what about education, what about health care, what about our relations with other nations, what about gun violence, what about … all of the things that really matter?  Frankly, if abortion, or rather anti-abortion, anti-women’s rights, is the only issue the republican voters care about, then there is a definite lack of understanding within the Republican Party.  There are far more monumental issues to be concerned about.

To the best of my knowledge, no woman in the United States has ever been forced to have an abortion against her will, and only about 1% of abortions are performed after the fetus becomes viable, those only in extreme cases to save the mother’s life.  Yet Trump claimed back in March …

“Virtually every Democrat candidate has declared their unlimited support for extreme late-term abortion, ripping babies straight from the mother’s womb, right up until the very moment of birth.”

It is this sort of verbiage that seems to fire up Trump’s base, despite being devoid of any facts.  In fact, not one single democrat has advocated for such.  I would remind voters that possibly the biggest, most lethal single issue that should be what they are considering, is that of the environment.  Frankly, if we do not re-implement environmental regulations, if we do not take fairly drastic measures and work with other nations to curb the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that we are emitting every minute of every day, you won’t need to worry a heck of a lot about whether a woman has an abortion or not.  You’ll be too busy fighting for every last breath to be worried about seedlings.

While California Burns … Trump Fiddles

It should come as no surprise that this year’s wildfires in California are even more devastating than those of 2019.   The wildfires, largely sparked by lightning strikes and exacerbated by very dry conditions, have now burned through more than a million acres.  The fires have claimed hundreds of homes and threaten tens of thousands more, forcing more than 100,000 to flee amid a coronavirus pandemic that vastly complicates evacuation decisions.wildfire-1At least six are known dead, and hundreds yet unaccounted for.

The fires started early this year, on August 14th, with literally thousands of lightning strikes setting off the dry timber.  In just over a week, the California blazes have charred more than 1 million acres, according to Cal Fire, more than tripling the area burned during a typical fire season (a little more than 300,000 acres). The area burned is larger than the state of Rhode Island.wildfire-2California has seen a significant uptick in large-wildfire activity because of a combination of climate change, land-use practices and other factors. Large fires have also increased across other parts of the West, which climate studies tie to human-caused climate change that alters the timing of precipitation, makes summers hotter and vegetation drier, and leads to more days with extreme weather that enable fires to spread rapidly.

And just when California, which is, by the way, part of the United States, most needs help, the person at the head of the federal government is doing what he does best … mocking, denigrating, and being an all-round ass.  You may remember that at the height of last year’s wildfires, Trump admonished California Governor Gavin Newsome, saying he should have “raked the forest floor”.  Well, he’s at it again …

“I see again the forest fires are starting. They’re starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up. Maybe we’re just going to have to make them pay for it because they don’t listen to us.”

WTF is this “them”???  There is no “them”.  It is we , not ‘them vs us’!  This country is called, in case Señor Trump has forgotten, the United States, and California is one of those states!  In fact, with nearly 40 million people, it is the most populous state in the country! I am so sick and damned tired of Trump’s ignorance costing lives in this country!  It was, in part, his rollback of nearly every environmental regulation on the books that has added to the massive problem of human-caused climate change, so in one sense, Trump himself has helped create this nightmare scenario.  He damn sure hasn’t done anything to help the state of California … or any other state, for that matter!wildfire-3Trump’s suggestions have prompted head-scratching from experts who say his prescriptions — more raking, less water released into the ocean for environmental purposes — suggest he does not understand the science of wildfires. Critics also point out that most of California’s wildlands are federally managed.

It should be noted that the president is elected by the people of all 50 states.  It should further be noted that he takes an oath to “… faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  That oath does not say he will only be responsible and accountable to people living in states that voted for him, or that have a republican governor, or a republican majority, or that “like” him!  The good people of California pay taxes the same as the people of Florida, Mississippi, Michigan and New York!  And in return, they are treated by the federal government as one of those “shithole countries” Trump refers to!

Hennessey Fire Burns In Napa County

It is time for our government to step up to the plate and help the State of California.  If Trump won’t do it, then Congress damn well better.  Off your ass, Mitch McConnell, and do something good for once in your life!wildfire-5

Is this what a president for the common man does?

Trump supporters seem to be unaware of the many ways in which they are voting against their own best interests, or effectively shooting themselves in the foot, when they vote for Trump. Keith provides a few of these examples in his excellent post this afternoon. Thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

Many of the Trump base have no idea they are voting against their economic interests. This advertised populist, common man president, fails to let folks know the following:

– in his first two hours of being president, he repealed a regulation that would have reduced homeowners insurance premiums for securing mortgages with the less than 20% down, that was scheduled to go in effect February 1, 2017. This would have helped about one million low income homeowners.

– he has hobbled the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was very successful, but banks and credit card companies did not like it. The CFPB penalized these companies for fraudulent and aggressive lending practices, with 95% of the fines going to cheated consumers. In short, the CFPB helps folks who are targeted.

– he eliminated a new requirement that said all investment advisors have to be fiduciaries, meaning they must put your interests…

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The World Is ONE!

We don’t need a world leader; we need world team players.  We need nations to work together to solve some of the most pressing problems that affect all people in all nations, such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, world-wide poverty and food insecurity.  Instead, we cannot even achieve cohesion within a single nation.  Instead, half the population of the U.S. believe climate change is a hoax and refuse to do so much as turn their thermostat down and don a sweater.  Instead, we add more nuclear weapons rather than supporting the reduction of the global nuclear arsenal.  Instead, we pander to the already-wealthy and turn a blind eye toward the poor.  We continue to populate the earth, even knowing that the earth cannot support more people.

On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, no later than Friday.  Why?  According to a spokesperson for the State Department, “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”

“The United States will not tolerate the PRC’s violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs and other egregious behavior.”

Funny, isn’t it, that the ‘United States’ is perfectly willing to not only tolerate but encourage Russia to violate our sovereignty and intimidate our people.  Have you ever felt intimidated by anyone from China?  I haven’t, but I’ve damn sure felt violated by Vladimir Putin and his henchmen who interfered in our 2016 election on behalf of Donald Trump, leaving us on a ship headed for an iceberg.

That same spokesperson intimated that China was in violation of the Vienna Convention, that they had somehow breached the requirement that diplomats must “respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State” and “have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.”

And yet … the U.S. State Department had no problems with Trump bullying the United Kingdom into banning Chinese tech company Huawei from the UK’s 5G telecoms network. No problem with Trump attempting to blackmail the president of the Ukraine into creating false data to bolster Trump’s own bid for re-election.  No problem at all demanding that other members of the G7 accept Russia back into the fold.

The demand for closure of the consulate appears to be in retaliation for two Chinese nationals accused of hacking into U.S. pharmaceutical companies doing coronavirus research.  Russia has also been accused of hacking into drug companies research in the UK, U.S., and Canada, but … no Russian facility has been ordered closed. No sanctions have been applied to Russia.  In fact, it hasn’t been mentioned by any in the government.  Double standard?  Oh yeah, definitely.  China didn’t help Trump in 2016 and isn’t helping him now, so they are not entitled to the ‘special privileges’ that Russia is.  Trump is Russia’s puppet, not China’s.

China vowed to retaliate, likely by forcing the U.S. to close either the embassy in Beijing or one of the five consulates it has in various cities in China.  This, my friends, is how tensions escalate and wars begin.

But let’s talk for a minute about countries hacking into the virus vaccine research.  Mind you, I am not in support of hacking at any level … ever.  However, I think we need to consider some extenuating circumstances here.  We have a pandemic that is killing people in every nation around the globe.  The pandemic is also killing businesses and economies around the globe.  This is not unique to the U.S. or the UK, though these two nations have done possibly the worst jobs of any in dealing with the virus.  Donald Trump has already made it abundantly clear that he is pushing drug companies in the U.S. to rush through a vaccine by election day, November 3rd, in order to give him a campaign advantage.  It doesn’t matter whether it remains effective in the long-term, nor whether there are devastating side effects down the road, just so long as he can tout that he was the reason there is a vaccine. Worse yet, he has declared his intent to buy any and all vaccines for the U.S. and keep other nations from having access to them.  So … other nations will do what they must to attempt to gain access to a vaccine in order to keep their people from dying.  It’s simple.

If you have no food in your house and no way to get any, but your neighbor has so much food that he must store his potatoes on his back porch, yet he refuses to give you so much as a single potato to feed your poor starving children, will you not be tempted to steal a few potatoes from him?  Greed and arrogance go hand in hand, and Trump has a triple dose of each.

People like Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo and others seem to have lost sight of the fact that the people in China, Russia, Mozambique and every other nation on the globe are … human beings.  There is nothing that makes citizens of the United States any better than the people of Afghanistan, Ghana, or India.  They are no more deserving of life than any person in any other nation.  If a vaccine is developed that is proven both effective and safe, the ‘recipe’ should be freely shared with every pharmaceutical company in the world so that enough can be manufactured to help every person on the globe.  This should not be about profit … but it is.

This should be about human life, about people.  It should not matter in what country or on what land mass those people live.  It should not matter the colour of their skin or what religion, if any, they follow.  It should not matter if they are rich or poor.  But it will.  It will because the leaders of some nations are arrogant and greedy.  It will matter because people who have more money than they could possibly need in a lifetime are more concerned with making even more profit than they are with the lives of people.

Imagine if the top 1% of all people on the economic scale gave … oh, say 5% of their net wealth to providing the vaccine, once developed and fully tested, to every man, woman and child on the planet?  The 1% would still be ultra-wealthy by any standards, and how many million lives would be saved?  Call it socialism if you wish, but in my book, it is simply humanitarianism.

I end as I began … we don’t need a specific nation to step up and become the “leader of the free world”, as the U.S. was once known.  We don’t need China or Russia or the U.S. to be the “leader” who dictates how the world should be run.  We need teamwork among nations, we need all of our leaders to put the greater good ahead of personal profit, ahead of their own desire for power.  We need people of conscience at the head of every nation, not the bungling Trumps, Johnsons and Bolsonaros we see today.  We simply cannot stay on this path we are on and still survive.

What Makes A Nation Great — Part III

In Parts I & II of this project, I spent a great deal of time pointing out the things that, in my view, keep the United States from being ‘great’.  In truth, the word ‘great’ is a superlative that sets my teeth on edge anyway, but it’s something we should always strive for.  If we strive for greatness, perhaps we can at least achieve ‘goodness’. (Links to Part I and Part II)

Make no mistake … despite its many flaws, some potentially fatal, there are good things happening in this nation, there are things that should give us hope for the future.  I didn’t want to end this project without pointing those out too.

A nation is only as good as the people who inhabit it, and we have, in this nation, millions of good people.  Every Wednesday, I write about some of those good people.  Most all of the people I know in this country are caring, kind, compassionate people who would literally give you the shirt off their back if you needed it.

Teachers in this nation are underpaid, overworked, and often expected to pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets.  Yet, I personally know a number of teachers who are dedicated in a way that no other professionals I know of are.  I know teachers who have taken a student in for a weekend when there was an illness in the student’s family.  Almost every teacher I know or have known personally go the extra mile every single day, and for little or no recognition … just because they believe that educating our young people is the most important job in the world.

I know people who spend every weekend working in homeless shelters and food pantries to help those less fortunate than us.  I know still others who give a portion of every paycheck to worthy causes that help people … not politicians, but people in need.  During this ongoing and devastating pandemic, there are many people who are bringing food and supplies to elderly friends & neighbors, checking on them to make sure they are okay and don’t need anything.

And let us not forget those on the ‘front lines’, the healthcare workers who are risking their own lives every day, working long hours, to help those who are sick, whether with coronavirus or other ailments.  These people have sacrificed sleep, meals, time with family, and their own health to take care of people they don’t even know.

We have countless volunteer organizations manned by people who help with everything imaginable, from child care to feeding the poor to rescuing animals to visiting the sick & elderly to picking up other people’s trash on beaches and along highways, to name just a few.  The majority of people in this country really do care about other people, about animals, about the environment.

Yes, there are many people who are self-serving in this country, who eschew the diversity and would turn the country into one comprised entirely of white Christians with women taking a backseat as they once did, but those people don’t deserve mention here.  To me, the ‘good people doing good things’ are a large part of what is good in this nation.  But there is more, as well.

One of the items on the list in Part I that I think contributes to what is good in this nation is the diversity.  Just on my own street, we have families from Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Nigeria.  Knowing them has enriched my life.  I’ve learned things about the Middle East that you don’t get from history books.  I’ve tried new foods – some I loved, others not so much.  I’ve made new friends who have broadened my horizons, expanded my world view.  Immigrants have given so much to this nation, asking in return only a safe place to live and the opportunity to take care of their families.

There are signs of hope for the nation.  I think that the majority of people are waking up to what is wrong and understanding that, as a nation, we have taken a wrong path somewhere along the line.  I think people are ready and willing to make the changes we need to start the process of re-building the nation.  The divisiveness we see today cannot continue, and I do think most people realize that it is counter-productive.  I think people are finally ready to stand up against the systemic racism that has always existed here.  The overall response to the murder of George Floyd, as well as other recent episodes of police brutality against black people, is encouraging.  While I despise the violence some of the protests have spawned, I do like the fact that people are finally becoming aware and determined to demand change from our police and government.

The first steps in repairing what is broken in this country must be to realize that our government is not serving us, but rather is self-serving.  We must demand some changes in campaign finance rules, in term limits, and in transparency in government.  We must educate ourselves and our youth in how our government is supposed to work vs how it is actually working, then we must do whatever is necessary to demand change.  We must remind the people in Washington that it is We the People to whom they owe their allegiance, not the NRA, not the person in the Oval Office, and not the big corporations.  We must hold them accountable for every vote they make, for every dime of our money they spend, and for the things they don’t do, as well.  We must do this now, while we still have the right to peaceful protest, while we still have the right to vote people into or out of office, and while we still have a free press to keep us informed.  If we don’t, I see those rights slipping away.

We must learn to set aside our petty differences and focus on the big picture.  Think of two people building a house together.  We agree that I will do the right side of the house and you will do the left side.  If we don’t communicate and compromise, I build my walls 8 feet high, but you build yours 9 feet.  I paint my half yellow, you paint your half pink.  What we end up with is a mess that neither of us can nor want to live in.  This is what the partisan divide is doing to this nation … leaving us with a mess that we cannot continue to live in.  We must learn to put aside the petty differences and work together to resolve the bigger problems, such as racism, affordable education and health care for all, helping those who need help, narrowing the income gap, and more.  And how can we do this?

We cannot do it by pointing guns at one another.  We cannot do it by screaming and yelling such that our message is lost in the noise.  We can only do it by talking and listening, then seeking common ground for compromise.  We must stop trying to impose our own ideas on everyone else and work on the bigger picture.  What is the bigger picture, you ask?  Ensuring that this nation works for everyone, not just some.  Stepping up to the plate and being a part of the global community.  Working to reverse global warming, to clean up the environment, to find alternatives for plastics, working on ensuring the safety of not just this nation, but of the entire globe.  I could go on, but you get the picture.  On a scale of 1-100, with 100 being truly great, I would rank the U.S. as it stands today in the 30% range.  We can do better … the question is, will we?

Maya-Angelou

Discord & Dissension – Part XI -The Climate

The single most important issue in the 2020 election (apart from unseating Trump, of course) is climate change. We have stepped back 20 years in the last three years under Trump, and quite frankly, time is running out. The earth’s resources are finite and we are using them at an alarming rate. For this, Part XI of our series Discord & Dissension, Jeff discusses where we are, where we need to go, how we can get there, and what happens if we don’t.

On The Fence Voters

While the Republican and Democratic Parties disagree on most things these days, nothing epitomizes the significant divide more than does climate change. And it’s not just those who sit in Congress either. According to a recent Pew Research poll conducted in February of this year, among Democrats and independents who lean to the Democratic Party, 78% said climate change should be a top priority.

However, among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, only 21% felt the same way. To put that in even more stark terms, Democrats view climate as a top priority by nearly three times that of Republicans.

And, it gets even worse when registered voters were asked whether climate change is a problem for the country today. 77% of Democrats/lean Democrat said yes, it was a huge problem, and 17% said it was a moderately big problem—a net of 94%. On the flip side, Republicans/lean Republican answered 13/27% for…

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