Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." - Frederick Douglass

earthrenewal.org
Wednesday April 24, 2013

Contents

There are moments in history when the fabric of everyday life unravels, and there is this unstable dynamism that allows for incredible social change in short periods of time....It's a moment when the ground and the sky sort of split apart, and there's a space, a revolutionary space. During these periods all sorts of people- even people who are passive under the pressure of everyday life in capitalist society- are touched by the spirit of revolution and behave in extraordinary ways.- Tony Kushner

From the Declaration of Independence, 1776

"W
e hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security"




Soalrizeus.org

Renewable Energy for a
Sustainable Global Future ...



“Continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions, for just another decade, practically eliminates the possibility of near-term return of atmospheric composition beneath the tipping level for catastrophic effects."

"When this hinge-point in human history is remembered, there will be far more sympathy for the people who took to the streets and rioted than for the people who stayed silently in their homes. Two global crises have collided, and we have a chance here, now, to solve them both with one mighty heave – but our leaders are letting this opportunity for greatness leach away. The protesters here in London were trying to sound an alarm now, at five minutes to ecological midnight..."- Johann Hari, 4/3/2009

Gaza Freedom March

About
Beautiful Earth
Theme & Variations
Contact
Find
Site Search
News@earthrenewal
Animal Care
Art
Business
Careers
Children & Education
Computing
DisABILITY Resources
Environment
Health & Social Action
History
Home & Leisure
Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Trans
News & Publications
Politics & Government
Science
Society & Culture
Spirituality & Philosophy
Teacher's Resource
Travel
Book Store
Articles
Reviews
Credits

To heal the earth, we must heal ourselves. To heal ourselves, we must heal the earth.


Most beloved

Know that my beloved is hidden from everyone
Know  that she is beyond the belief of all beliefs
Know that in my heart she is as clear as the moon
Know that she is the life in my body and soul
-Rumi, translated by Freydoun Kia from, The Love Poems of Rumi, edited by Deepak Chopra.

The connection to individual enlightenment is recognizing who we are. Who we are is not our emotions, our feelings, our fears, even our love...who we are is that essential primordial self- manifesting in pure silence, peace and love. Complete emptiness...complete awareness. Non-duality. Our thoughts are not who we are....

Human beings often ask themselves what is the purpose of life. Sometimes they resign themselves to the notion that there is no purpose. But the answer to the question is simple. In fact is all around us- in every natural process there is a cycle of birth, decay, death and rebirth. The ultimate longing of the soul is to return to source- merge with the one. Merging- becoming part of the great creative oneness of the universe. But to merge we must become the emptiness- dissolve- realize our true selves. And as the universe begins- so it ends and begins again-and so the process repeats- like the waves on the ocean. How to merge with the one- how to become who you are- how to dissolve. Simply be. Simply love. Understand that love and consciousness is in everything- become who you are- the great luminous being that is in everything that lives. It is already there, you must simply remember.

Veritas et integritas: Fight for what you believe

There is nothing more important in the universe than unconditional love- remember this if nothing else.

The fear of being loved is a fear that we are unlovable- yet love reaches out to us from the very soul of the universe. Accept it- sacrifice for its sake- Let it become you.

Hate, withdrawal, anger is really a plea for love- in some ways it can be the soul's preparation for achieving the ability to receive love. No one is alone. There can be no fear where there is unconditional love. There can be no true love where there is fear.

From darkness & silence comes light. Light & darkness are one and in all creation.

The lesson is to learn compassion with detachment.

If one could stand atop the Universe and see all things at once, one would know that all is in balance and compassionate- creation and destruction, ebb and flow.

Love as the Universe loves you- unconditionally, with compassion and great understanding of the pain- and what lies beyond. The fruit of spiritual pursuit is compassion and respect for all creation.- Lowell Greenberg

"The Great Work now, as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner." Thomas Berry, The Great Work, 2000

"They would teach the peoples how to pray to the Great Spirit with love that flows like the beautiful mountain stream, and flows along the path to the ocean of life."- Warriors of the Rainbow



I asked the Mountain who created you. I expected him to say- the Earth- I arose from volcanoes and shifting tectonic plates. But he said- no, you created me. But I asked him- how is this so? He said- I am spirit - your spirit is part of the universal consciousness from which all creation arose. Later I realized how much the Earth loves us- even as we hurt her and take but do not give in return- we are still loved unconditionally.

"Mountaintop removal is a crime against local people, nature, our children, and our planet." Dr. James Hansen, NASA


AIDS.ORG
 
AEGIS
AIDS Action
 
AIDS Info
HIV Plus
Children With AIDS
Human Rights Campaign
LGBT

UNAIDS
World AIDS Day

"I am gay, out & proud, so the issue of LGBT rights obviously has a special poignancy and significance in my life. While my homosexuality is only one aspect of my character, acceptance of it is fundamental to my happiness and well being. Society's lack of acceptance is therefore a tragic reminder of the importance of being who I am and the struggle that can entail.

Even though we seek to live our lives with joy- we cannot but be made to feel powerless- in part for who we are, for not accepting what society says we should be. Every time there is a denial of rights, a slight, an injustice it cannot but effect us and remind us of who we are and what that means in this world. It is this experience that binds us as a community and we all share it.
"
Lowell Greenberg


PFLAG
Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays

Rainbow World Fund
GLBT Humanitarian service agency

Same-Sex Marriage & Personal Statement on Same-Sex Marriage

California Court Affirms Right to Gay Marriage, 5/15/2008

Oregon Equality Act banning discrimination based on sexual orientation & gender identity goes into effect 1/1/2008; Domestic Partnership for same-sex couples now legal in Oregon

Basic Rights Oregon
Ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Oregon


The Unjust War with Iraq

Pray for
Peace
"A time comes when silence
is betrayal."

Peace Action

Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy

United for Peace & Justice

None Dare Call It Stolen: Ohio, the election, and America's servile press by Mark Crispin Miller, 8/05; Also: Was the 2004 Election Stolen?, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

 Democracy In Reverse: Free Speech
Under Severe Attack in US


When the idiotic and cowardly politicians talk about war with Iran; Endless drone attacks in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the War on Terror...remember this:


War perverts and destroys you. It pushes you closer and closer to your own annihilation—spiritual, emotional and finally physical. It destroys the continuity of life, tearing apart all systems—economic, social, environmental and political—that sustain us as human beings. In war, we deform ourselves, our essence. We give up individual conscience—maybe even consciousness—for contagion of the crowd, the rush of patriotism, the belief that we must stand together as a nation in moments of extremity. To make a moral choice, to defy war’s enticement, can in the culture of war be self-destructive. The essence of war is death. Taste enough of war and you come to believe that the stoics were right: We will, in the end, all consume ourselves in a vast conflagration.- a quote from Ernie Pyle, in an article entitled  "Murder Is Not an Anomaly in War," by Chris Hedges

For those that speak of war as a necessity and saber rattle- let their children be the first to fight, the first to die. So many of these cowards have never even been in the military, never given thought to giving their lives for any cause. Yet the call for war springs unceasingly from their mouths. Hypocrites. Don't believe them.
 

What our stupid politicians won't tell you...Canadian Tar Sands- the Carbon Time bomb

Why do I use the politically incorrect word "stupid" ? Perhaps that word is too charitable. Stupidity implies a lack of knowledge and intellectual ability. Most politicians lack neither. What they lack is the character and courage to see the truth and to fulfill their responsibilities as global citizens to prevent an eco-holocaust.


If you challenge the system (just a little)..'She Was Screaming in Pain, 1/29/2012'

Freedom in America- Not

5,500 Occupy Arrests  0 Wall Street Executives Arrested- Your Government at Work...Punt


The Pearly Gates and The Candidates for President

One day all the men running for President will return to their maker. After they die their life will flash before them. They will have the chance to recollect and reflect on what they learned from their life time on Earth. When they are done, they will stand before God. Then they will be asked questions. It will begin like this:

On Earth, you had great power. Did you use it to feed the hungry? Were you a peacemaker? Did you start or end wars?  What did you do to stop the eco-holocaust that has killed so much of what I love?  When the world was on the brink of nuclear destruction, what did you do to bring peace? Did you stand up to the forces of oppression?

When children were hungry, did you lose sleep? What dominated your thoughts? What kept you awake at night?

Did you live your life with humility? Did you protect those who sacrificed to bring truth into the world? Were you loving to your family and community? Did you love all beings- or only those that were like you?

And when these men answer from the depths of their soul- lies and prevarication are no longer possible- they will need to answer No to all of these questions.

Some will then proclaim...but we are imperfect. Then God will ask- yes- but did you know? Did you know that you persecuted the weak and exercised and sought power without conscience or remorse? They will answer- Yes- we knew. Then they will say- but we seek your forgiveness. God will then say- as you forgave, so will you be forgiven. They will then ask- where will go? Will we go to heaven? And God will say- what do you think? (God has a sense of humor). Again they will ask- will we return to Earth? God will then say- you will go to where you can do the most good- neither heaven or Earth. Then where? Then God will say- you know where...you know.

In writing this I challenge the world's spiritual gurus that argue that salvation is for the individual, that the value of life on Earth is as a gristmill for human learning. I challenge the notion that we are not responsible for our acts. That God's grace saves those who repent and seek forgiveness. Hell maybe self created- but it is no less painful. Money, power, security have nothing to do with the purpose of human existence. These men are profound losers- having lost their souls to pursue the illusion of permanent power. The smallest blade of grass is more. Yet we all must ask these questions- while we are here. Not just to prepare our souls for return, but because they define precisely why we are here.


Many Things

Many things have transpired since I have last commented on this web site. This is not because I have been inactive- but because I have been quite busy. We had success against the Keystone XL Pipeline- for now. Brave activists of all ages have been brutalized by the state police and forced to leave encampments where they were exercising their right to free speech and assembly. Egypt is again aflame with freedom's call and the sacrifice it demands. The federal government in Washington DC continues over and over again to demonstrate cronyism, corruption and the gross abuse of power. 5,000 Occupy arrests, no Wall Street arrests. Financial institutions using government guarantees to make even riskier investments- an economy less structurally sound than the one that collapsed in 2008. This is what Washington offers the American people.

Yet what is clear more than ever, is that there are brave, wise people throughout the world- of all ages and ethnicities- that will challenge these corrupt institutions and work forcefully and creatively together- with the Truth on their side- to bring forth a new world. A world where each human being has an equal voice and where violence is replaced with love and community. Where men achieve happiness not with material possessions but with the gifts of the human soul. The reign of today's tyrants is coming to an end. The only question is, Whose side are you on?


Bradley Manning

He is a hero. As much as anyone else who has died or sacrificed for what they believe. So much of what has been delivered was already known. The jaded liberals profess, "We already knew." Which, if true is a form of complicity. Apparently it is more important that those most afflicted know. They actually have the guts to act.
 

Martina Correia, 1967-2011: Led Struggle to Save Brother Troy Davis’ Life as She Fought for Her Own

Comment: Martina Correia demonstrated more courage, love and  wisdom defending her brother against the unjust assault of the state than anyone I have ever known. Infinitely more than the Georgia politicians, bureaucrats and judges- who caught in a corrupt system- decided to illegally and immorally kill her brother, Troy Davis. To the scrap heap of history will go these wrong doers- but future generations will honor her and her brother's stand against state barbarism.
 

My speech to a Keystone XL Rally/March that I helped organize with a small group of Tar Sands arrestees and Occupy Portland. Approximately 500 participated.

Today we face planetary disaster- a holocaust never before seen in recorded history. Every man, woman and child- every animal and plant is faced with extinction.

The earth is losing 30,000 species per year. The ice sheets are disintegrating. The subtropics are expanding. The coral reefs are dying. The Amazon experiences record droughts. The oceans are turning acid. The great glaciers are receding rapidly. Today, unprecedented flooding, drought, forest fires and super storms are ravaging the earth and killing 150,000 men, woman and children each year. Indigenous lands are being carved into dead moonscapes to extract minerals and oil, the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage patch is now larger than the United States and growing, great mountains are being leveled, toxic chemicals are infiltrating our air, water, land and bodies, birds are falling to their death from the sky, sea life is dying, communities exposed to oil spills are afflicted by horrifying forms of petrochemical caused cancer and respiratory illness.

Fresh water- the very source of life- is running out- from Chile to the Philippines, from South Africa to the United States, yet instead of protecting it for the common good, we seek to privatize it for profit. And as we face these disasters, perhaps an even greater one looms. The threat of nuclear destruction- for without food and water security, nations may seek survival- at any cost.

And in the face of this approaching holocaust, what have we done to avert it? Nothing. In fact we are accelerating it. Why is this?

Extreme concentration of wealth and the welding of power and influence at all levels exclusively for the needs of the plutocracy has destroyed our democracies, made our governments corporate shills and threatens to destroy life itself.

How do we fight this?

The urgency and severity of the crisis may require the ultimate sacrifice. Men and woman have died over history in the name of social and environmental justice. They are dying as I speak.

Why in fact are we gathered here today? The Alberta Tar Sands, if fully developed will destroy the world’s climate. I repeat- it will destroy the world’s climate. What stands in the way of the international banks, politicians, and revolving door government officials to stop this? The answer is you!

Paulo Freire, the great Brazilian educator spoke of three principles of non-violent, revolutionary education and change: To possess sufficient passion to seek justice for all; to possess convictions without imposing them and to dream the world one seeks in order to create its reality

I cry for the suffering I cannot see, but that I feel and know is present everywhere. I take responsibility for my role in creating this suffering. In my dream, there is no war, no inequality, the earth is cherished for all generations and we are all loved and cared for.

Occupy Portland Event:

2 PM, November 6th: March against Tar Sands Extraction and the Keystone XL Pipeline: Encircle the Portland Courthouse Federal Building in Solidarity with 350.org


http://www.facebook.com/xlpipelinepdx

Beneath a green sweep of Boreal fen and forest in northern Alberta lies a promise of addiction — tar sands that are being refined into petroleum products like gasoline. With the tar sands, Canada has the second largest oil reserves on Earth.

Proposed is a massive 7 billion dollar pipeline to transport this oil-The Keystone XL. To be routed from Hardisty, Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, this tar sands pipeline is set to cross the country’s largest freshwater source, the Ogallala Aquifer (30% of all agriculture), and the fragile Sandhills of Nebraska, posing  devastating consequences to human health, livestock and agriculture.

If we stop construction of the pipeline- we will choke off the supply at the source and put a major dent in TransCanada Corps profits and the viability of exploiting this oil.

What else happens if we don’t stop Tar Sands extraction?

James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climatologists wrote:  “The carbon emissions from tar shale and tar sands would initiate a continual unfolding of climate disasters over the course of this century. We would be miserable stewards of creation. We would rob our own children and grandchildren.”

In addition to the destruction of the water, land, indigenous communities, people’s health, production of enormous toxic waste areas that are visible from space, destruction of one quarter of the Earth’s remaining intact forests and 11% of the planet’s terrestrial carbon storehouses (an area the size of Florida)- the Tar Sands oil extraction project produces 3 times the global warming pollution of conventional fuel. The burning of fossil fuels is making our oceans acidic, destroying our climate and jeopardizing food and water security for billons on the planet.

In the face of this threat to the 99%- what does the US State Department have to say about Tar Sand oil exploitation? Drill-baby-drill. However, final approval of the pipeline is Obama’s decision- he and he alone can stop the pipeline.

Fight the global plutocracy- as Chomsky refers to it,” the rule by the wealthy or power provided by wealth that is destroying life on this planet.”

Join us at 2:00 PM at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 1200 SW 3rd St, downtown Portland. This event is endorsed by Occupy Portland, The Sierra Club Oregon Chapter and Climate Justice Portland.


On The Occupy Movement

Currently 1% of the US population have as much wealth as the bottom half. An unfair distribution of wealth and a lack of true democracy have been hallmarks of the American republic since its founding. This is why we needed an abolitionist, woman's suffrage, union and civil rights movement, to name a few.

At various points in our history- including today, it has become apparent to most of the remaining 99% that the social, economic and military system that pervades all aspects of our lives is failing and can no longer address the needs of the majority. Essentially, we have today a global plutocracy, serving the needs of those wealthy enough to buy sufficient influence. In addition our global military industrial complex is inherently unsustainable- already in a state of collapse.

If the government is in opposition to one's moral compass- then there is an obligation to oppose government and the foundation of its rule. Too often people believe they fulfill their civic responsibilities by abdicating their moral compass and voting for the lesser of two evils. This is not freedom- but a kind of bondage. It is one thing to recognize evil or misdoing- it is quite another to do something about it. I am firmly opposed to violence in any form. Yet short of this, there is much that we can do...

There are many steps from a bare awareness to bringing awareness and action in accord. Ultimately it is a moral choice. It always involves risk. The question is always- what is the alternative. The answer is always the same- and it is never easy.

The harder government reacts- the greater the level of violence-the more it shows its weakness. However, I do not assume the inevitability of any outcome. The point of civil disobedience is not to be persecuted, but to effect change.  I can chose to be non-violent- what others do, I cannot control or entirely predict.

I believe the Occupy Movement is an effort to restore true democracy, giving everyone a voice-regardless of status or wealth
I believe it is the only international movement that is willing to face the truth of what I just wrote and work at all levels for solutions. It is a natural reaction to a failing, dangerous system out of touch with the reality it has helped create.
It is a strong reaction to a world corporate based culture that through greed and domination is destroying itself- life itself. The path we are on is unsustainable. The vast inequity in global society, the endless wars of domination, the utter disrespect for the land, air and water, all of these things are understood by the movement at a visceral level. The young and young of heart, see through the lies. If their heart is not too scarred by hate, they recognize their individual and collective responsibility for this mess. If nothing else it is Occupy Heart. The details of policies to undermine, radicalize, transform our way of life- they are almost boundless- but at the core is community, non-violence and love The movement is here to remind us of ourselves and save what is left of our humanity.

Global society is now at a fork in the road. If the Occupy movement is forcibly repressed by government, it will become further radicalized. If government at all levels gives it a meaningful voice, allowing for radical changes in power structures-it can help co-create a peaceful and sustainable world.

Can we achieve a just, sustainable and peaceful world?  I believe the answer is yes- but not with the current systems of  political and economic power.


The Occupy Movement- All have a Voice

I am actively participating in this movement. One thing I can assure you of- the majority of the protesters and occupiers get it- they understand the fundamental corruption in society and the way the unfettered actions of corporations-and their egregious influence on government, the military and society in general- literally kills people and nature- all life. Direct action can take many forms. There is direct action that focuses on a specific individual, company, industry, government branch, department, agency or official, etc. There are specific actions to address key issues. There are also coordinated sets of actions intended to build a movement and impetus for change by raising awareness as to the the general rot of the system and they need for a fundamental shift in power and institutions. None of these forms of direct action need to or should take place in the context of violence. The adherence to non-violence is not itself a mere tactic- but a fundamental pillar of a successful movement. To adopt the means of the oppressor to justify one's own ends- no matter how worthy- in effect causes one to become like the oppressor and will ultimately undermine the cause and remedy sought.

I would encourage readers to actively follow the Occupy Movements and related actions on Twitter and Facebook, as well as the various Occupy web sites. Social media- has become a great facilitator of change and direct organizing. I would also warn readers not to believe all of what is reported in the mainstream press. That press is highly manipulated and rarely has the inclination and resources to thoroughly investigate an issue. Rather, show up yourself. Be respectful, learn and contribute and finally free your voice from fear and a sense of disempowerment. The leadership models are intended to be non-hierarchical- giving everyone a voice. Finally, the movement is about far more than slogans- at its core, I believe it is a response to injustice and the suffering of people. It is not corporate funded, like so many movements on the Right and it is not really supported by either political party- since both are dominated by moneyed interests. However, politicians, business people, teachers- people from any walk of life that care about the suffering of others- who truly want a more just and equitable society are welcome. However, the movement models a system where all have a power and a voice- not just the rock stars :-)

The name of the movement is the OCCUPY movement. Not the protest injustice XXX and go home movement. Further, if there is a way to create genuine community without day to day interaction, discussion, fighting and peacemaking-please let me know. Forgive the awful analogy, but it reminds me of a marriage breakup where one of the partners wants to be friends. They want to be friends, just not have to put up with you every day :-) Is it possible to develop a movement were people genuinely interact without occupying a city park-probably. But I believe there needs to be an ongoing physical community. Destroying the possibility of physical community will only drive more people underground. Humans are social animals. They can only actualize their potential working and living with others. Alone we are weak and easily controlled by the state and the vagaries of Fate. Together we are powerful, not because of our weapons, but because of our innate compassion and greatness.

 
I Support Occupy WallStreet Occupy Together

Comment: The level of hypocrisy, corruption and injustice in society cries out for direct action and protest. The spirit and heart of the Occupy WallStreet protesters deeply resonates with me. They care. They understand that the problem IS the system. My hope is that the movement- still I believe in an embryonic phase- can gel around specific sets of demands and become part of a coordinated set of actions to effect political, economic and social change. I write these words fully aware that by endorsing a movement where people have been subjected to police brutality and arrest, I may be encouraging others to risk the same. However the level of hypocrisy and corruption at Wall Street and DC is so great, so damaging to people's lives and the future of the nation and the world- I don't know what choices remain. At the moment I will avoid arrest, having recently been involved in the Tar Sand's protest and civil disobedience action in DC a few weeks ago. I do not believe arrest and acts of civil disobedience are an end in and of themselves. However such acts are a part of a cleansing of the national soul- a catharsis- saying no more to gross injustice and repudiating the system that forces those injustices on people and all life. More than 500 Arrested in Wall Street Protest.


Earth Roulette

When will our "leaders" begin to value the rights of future generations? When will there be leadership that says " This is enough." To argue that tar sands extraction, the delivery of the oil and its ultimate use, does not pose a significant threat to the planet- is insane. To approve this pipeline is criminal.

I was proud to join the Tar Sands action and be arrested for what I believe in an act of civil disobedience. Compassion- love- the poor, children, the weak, the innocent- untold future generations, it is their very existence that is at stake. To do nothing in the face of this holocaust is itself criminal.

People- particularly those that know truth- but do nothing- frequently look for answers. Each time they get answers- they find holes in what is said-“It is impractical- people are too jaded or uninformed, etc.” Yet it is THEY who are the true source of the problem. In return for a comfortable existence, they are willing to sell out their fellow human beings- knowing full well what is at stake.

The only thing that gives me hope are people that care, are willing to take a stand-who act and speak the truth. I was fortunate to meet a few of these people in the action I participated in.

If, as Cornel West says. the condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak, it seems me that the suffering- now and in the future- cries out- screams out-in wailing that perhaps has never been heard before on this planet.



Civil Disobedience

"There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; who even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free trade, and quietly read the prices-current along with the latest advices from Mexico, after dinner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both. What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for other to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give up only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and Godspeed, to the right, as it goes by them. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man. But it is easier to deal with the real possessor of a thing than with the temporary guardian of it." - Henry David Thoreau- Civil Disobedience.

"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on."- Martin Luther King


Dali Lama and eight other Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, urging rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline


September 7, 2011

Dear President Obama,

We--a group of Nobel Peace Laureates--are writing today to ask you to do the right thing for our environment and reject the proposal to build the Keystone XL, a 1700-mile pipeline that would stretch from Canada's Alberta tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast.

It is your decision to make.

The night you were nominated for president, you told the world that under your leadership--and working together--the rise of the oceans will begin to slow and the planet will begin to heal. You spoke of creating a clean energy economy. This is a critical moment to make good on that pledge, and make a lasting contribution to the health and well being of everyone of this planet.

In asking you to make this decision, we recognize the more than 1200 Americans who risked arrest to protest in front of the White House between August 20th and September 3rd. These brave individuals have spoken movingly about experiencing the power of nonviolence in facing authority. They represent millions of people whose lives and livelihoods will be affected by construction and operation of the pipeline in Alberta, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

All along its prospective route, the pipeline endangers farms, wildlife and precious water aquifers--including the Ogallala Aquifer, the US' main source of freshwater for America's heartland. We are aware that Nebraska's Governor Dave Heineman--as well as two Nebraska Senators--has urged you to reconsider the pathway of the pipeline. In his letter to you he clearly stated his concern about the threat to this crucial water source for Nebraska's farmers and ranchers. The aquifer supplies drinking water to two million people in Nebraska and seven other states.

We know that another pipeline that covers some of the same route as the proposed pipeline, and built by the same company proposing to build Keystone XL, already leaked 14 times over its first year of operation.

Like you, we understand that strip-mining and drilling tar sands from under Alberta's Boreal forests and then transporting thousands of barrels of oil a day from Canada through to Texas will not only hurt people in the US--but will also endanger the entire planet. After the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, the full development of the Alberta tar sands will create the world's second largest potential source of global warming gases. As NASA climatologist James Hansen has said, this is "essentially game over for the climate."

There is a better way.

Your rejection of the pipeline provides a tremendous opportunity to begin transition away from our dependence on oil, coal and gas and instead increase investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency.

We urge you to say 'no' to the plan proposed by the Canadian-based company TransCanada to build the Keystone XL, and to turn your attention back to supporting renewable sources of energy and clean transportation solutions. This will be your legacy to Americans and the global community: energy that sustains the lives and livelihoods of future generations.

Sincerely,

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976) - Ireland
Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976) - Ireland
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Laureate (1980) - Argentina
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate (1984) - South Africa
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Laureate (1989) - Tibet
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Laureate (1992) - Guatemala
José Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Laureate (1996) - East Timor
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1997) - USA
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2003) - Iran

 

Attica Is All of Us: Cornel West on 40th Anniversary of Attica Prison Rebellion

Comment: Truth to power. Watch this. Cornel West is a man- in every sense of this word. He knows what is most important is what flows from the heart. He understands courage. There is no obfuscation, no timidity in his words. Truth transcends all of these things.

Excerpts:

"...And we live now in revolutionary times, but the counterrevolution is winning. The counterrevolution is winning. The greedy oligarchs and plutocrats are winning. One out of four corporations don’t pay taxes, been gobbling up billions of dollars. And yet, not just 21 percent of our children living in poverty, of all colors, each one precious, 42 percent of America’s children live in poverty or near poverty. That is sick. It’s a moral obscenity. It’s a national disgrace. And yet, we have a political class, no matter what color they are, that won’t say a mumbling word about that poverty. Why? Because it sits outside of the give and fro between a right-wing, mean-spirited Republican Party, run by the oligarchs and the plutocrats, and a spineless Democratic Party, that’s got ties to the oligarchs and plutocrats, and the poor people get left out. They get invisible, disposable."

"...And the young people are hungry and thirsty, but the young people are thirsty for truth. Oh, yes. They’re hungry for truth. And the problem is that most of our leaders have either sold out, caved in, gave up. They don’t want to tell people the truth. They’re too concerned about their careers. They’re too concerned about success. They’re too concerned about just winning the next election for their status. In 1971, the Attica brothers told the truth. But they weren’t the only ones. You had a whole cacophony of voices telling the truth. But who wants to tell the truth? The condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. If you don’t talk about poverty, you’re not telling the truth. If you’re not talking about working people being pushed against the wall, with corporate profits high, you’re not telling the truth. If you’re not talking about the criminal activity on Wall Street and not one person gone to jail yet, you’re not telling the truth. Don’t tell me about the crime on the block with brothers and sisters and Jamal and Latisha out taken to jail, and yet gangsters who are engaged in fraudulent activity, insider trading, market manipulation, walking around having tea at night. That’s what we need."


David Suzuki & Thich Nhat Hanh in Conversation

Comment: How to bring about collective awakening is the central question they address. It is true that without love and community, there can be little healing and without healing, the crisis we face cannot be solved. But there is something else. Humans have evolved in a way that allows them to see the suffering of others and not experience it as their own suffering or the suffering of their close loved ones. In one sense, this has great survival value- if this was not the case, we might find ourselves in continual grief and pain- unable to act with compassion.

Unfortunately, this ability to perceive your suffering versus mine and to externalize the suffering of others- placing it at a lower level of concern- the inability to be open to the suffering of others- is at the root of mankind's self destructiveness.

Creativity is always inspired. You don't sit in front of a TV and become creative. You become creative when you feel pain or great desire to change yourself, help a loved one, increase your understanding of the world, share deep insights. Yet without this creativity- we cannot change our natures to insure the survival of life on this planet.

If someone is awake- if they can feel and understand the suffering of themselves and others-they will need to act. I will repeat this- they will need to act. They will need to act, not just, on behalf of themselves or their immediate loved ones- but the needs of people in their community-local or global. By now, it should be clear, that while this desire to act is one of compassion and love-  it is also one of selfishness. It is no longer about helping others out of altruism or a desire to satisfy your god- the very survival of the community- life on the planet- depends on this.

So it is really quite simple- change or become extinct. Use your creativity to reinvent what it means to be human in the 21st century- or become extinct. Some religions have a notion of god that seems more a projection of human characteristics onto some fictitious super human called god. Some human beings believe they are god-like. Well, at one time the dinosaurs ruled this planet- like gods. They became extinct in part because of the demands their very nature placed on their survival-including one of conspicuous consumption. They are gone- with traces perhaps in the lovely song bird...just traces.


Letter from Environmental Leaders on the Persecution of Tim DeChristopher

"Whatever the outcome of Tim’s sentencing, we urge you take a stand. The survival of humankind must become our leaders’ top priority. Historically, social change has only occurred when ordinary citizens are empowered to stand up for their rights, and act. To accomplish this, we must work together. We will win this crucial battle only through an empowered, unified movement committed to principled, positive, and sustained resistance.

– Dr. James Hansen, Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibben, Ted Glick and many more environmental organizations and leaders"


America's Debt

Comment: Oh America. Woe is is me. Political paralysis; A weak President; the stench of money in politics so great it- it sickens every American from New York to Hawaii; Unwillingness to address huge income inequality; Failure to address long term economic growth risks related to health care, climate and energy; Grossly excessive military spending; An uniformed electorate; Failure to responsibly address debt by increasing tax revenues for the wealthy even in the face of gross income inequality...sob, sob, sob. It seems as if the money goes where there is the greatest likelihood of profit- which if it isn't America- oh well...next victim. America it seems is not the flavor of the day.

Try to point fingers if you will. It won't work. The flow of money and the confidence of those that hold treasury securities has been shattered. It is irrelevant whether S&P is highly flawed and itself helped precipitate the great financial crisis of 2008. That is after all the past. This is not 1956. It is 2011. Things change.

Let me give you a hint Mr. Obama and the US Congress- just one. At the end of the day- the financial markets are completely self-serving and care about one thing- success. By deemphasizing job growth- by allowing the foreclosure crisis to "correct" itself with almost no government intervention- you have sown the seeds of economic stagnation. By agreeing to excessive spending cuts- without additional tax revenue and significant cuts in military spending- you have also committed the nation to a path of economic ruin. Oh- yes- while the world's bankers and in an interesting twist of fate China and Russia may tell you to cut...cut..cut- austerity- price stability- Know this. If your economy doesn't grow- all the kings horses and all the kings me- won't restore the creditworthiness of the United States. The only good thing our government has done is lay the seeds for a powerful progressive movement for real (non-Obama like) change. Do we still have enough of a democracy to meet the challenge?
 

Fascism in Action: Secretive Corporate-Legislative Group ALEC Holds Annual Meeting to Rewrite State Laws, 8/7/2011


America: The World Leader in Prison Labor, 8/7/2011

 

The President Surrenders

Comment:
What else is new- though it is unclear the degree to which he surrendered and the degree to which he got what he wants (it was Obama who brought social security cuts to the table). See also: New York Timed editorial, To Escape Chaos, a Terrible Deal. Not withstanding, I do think this is a great deal for Wall Street- Obama's largest campaign contributor. What baffles me though is by what convoluted sense of election politics does he and his advisors think this sham of a deal will help his reelection chances. Americans do not respect leaders who point fingers (at say the Republicans in this case).

Since Wall Street controls the Capitol- how likely was it that the US would actually default? The entire threat of default was a sham. The Republicans should take credit for an impressive victory- except of course that the victory, while tactically brilliant- was morally reprehensible-a form of extortion- and causes harm to millions of Americans. Congratulations. Republican campaign coffers should be overflowing.

Finally, even if one believes that spending cuts are necessary, cutting programs like Medicare while there are record foreclosures and high unemployment, huge income inequality, unfair taxation benefiting the rich, excessive military spending (Iraq and Afghanistan are exempt from the cuts)-opens the floodgates to class warfare.  As Paul Krugman wrote,

"For the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status."


Horn of Africa Famine: Millions at Risk in "Deadly Cocktail" of War, Climate Change, Neoliberalism

Comment: Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
 

Murdoch Empire "Pummeled" by Phone-Hacking Scandal Exposed by Guardian Journalist Nick Davies

Whistleblower in Murdoch Phone-Hacking Scandal Found Dead, 7/19/2011

Comment: As the Murdoch "news" empire collapses under the weight of its own corruption, abuse of power and deception- now a report of the death of a key whistleblower in the scandal who linked Andy Coulson, Director of Communications for British Prime Minister David Cameron, to phone hacking.


Boycott Israel Now!

Comment: I do not know what will happen with the Gaza Flotilla- but I do know that if there is Israeli aggression- every citizen of every country needs to insist on a boycott of Israeli goods. If this worked in South Africa- it can work in the brutally oppressive environment of the Middle East.
 

US, Israel Escalate Threats Against Flotilla, Including US Citizens, 6/37/2011

"...As the second "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" gets ready to sail this week, Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore urged Israel to avoid any repeat of last year's actions against the convoy, Irish media reported Sunday.

"Israel must exercise all possible restraint and avoid any use of military force if attempting to uphold their naval blockade," Gilmore, who also holds the post of trade minister, said after meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Dublin Boaz Moda.

"In particular, I would expect that any interception of ships is conducted in a peaceful manner and does not endanger the safety of our citizens or other participants," he added, reiterating the country's position that the Gaza blockade was "unjust and counterproductive'" and that the violence that marked last year's flotilla venture was "completely unacceptable and unjustified.""

Comments: Why given what the Irish Foreign Minister wrote is Israel considering repeating acts of violence against innocent citizens, including even journalists from their own country? Why is the United States seemingly condoning this violence- even when the lives of peace-loving US citizens are at stake?

There is an upcoming election year in the United States. Maybe this will be a factor in the response. Perhaps Obama and Clinton will use their influence to restrain Israel- since Obama cannot afford any further erosion of his liberal base. Maybe this notion that this- more than anything- will result in principled action is cynical. Maybe, behind the scenes, Obama and Clinton are working to head off the crisis- while publically sounding bellicose or stern. One thing is clear- the Flotilla will not give up. If their ships are attacked, the outcry will be so loud as to deafen the ears of the servile or cowardly who condone such behavior through overt action or covert complicity.


“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not.-Jeremiah 5:21

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail. - Proverbs 22.8


"The climate crisis, in reality, is a struggle for the soul of America. It is about whether or not we are still capable — given the ill health of our democracy and the current dominance of wealth over reason — of perceiving important and complex realities clearly enough to promote and protect the sustainable well-being of the many. What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it."- Al Gore, "Politics of Denial," Rolling Stone, 6/22/2011

Comment: Former Vice-President Al Gore is hardly a radical. He is in agreement with 98% of the scientists on this planet. He is better informed than any US Congressional and Executive leader. He is also not running for election or reelection and is beholden to no corporate, governmental or military interests.


FBI to Expand Domestic Surveillance Powers as Details Emerge of Its Spy Campaign Targeting Activists, 6/142011

Comment: Reprehensible activities by our intelligence agencies.


Bill McKibben: From Storms to Droughts, Devastating Extreme Weather Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change, 5/27/2011

The rapid and terrifying acceleration of global warming, which is disfiguring the ecosystem at a swifter pace than even the gloomiest scientific studies predicted a few years ago, has been confronted by the power elite with equal parts of self-delusion. There are those, many of whom hold elected office, who dismiss the science and empirical evidence as false. There are others who accept the science surrounding global warming but insist that the human species can adapt. Our only salvation—the rapid dismantling of the fossil fuel industry—is ignored by both groups. And we will be led, unless we build popular resistance movements and carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience, toward collective self-annihilation by dimwitted Pied Pipers and fools- "The Sky Really is Falling," Chris Hedges, 5/30/2011

Comment:  It is very difficult for me to write on these matters. The existence of life on earth depends on our collective awakening to a new dream- a dream of compassion for all life and self realization. As with individuals, so with societies- the very causes of suffering- ignorance, anger, greed, hatred, indifference- perhaps these can become the grist mill of our awakening to who we are. Perhaps when we understand at a deep level what we have wrought- and the nightmares that we create- perhaps this realization can help jog our awareness enough to realize the simple truths of our existence- and give birth to a new dream. 

Again, this topic Is not easy when you are as “dialed in” as I am. What I have learned however, is that there is very little difference between the suffering we experience in our daily lives- in our relationships for example, and the suffering that pervades society. No difference. It is pure illusion to believe that what happens “outside” is in fact “outside.” There is no outside. If  you wish to understand the causes of environmental collapse and devastation- you need look no further than yourself- I need look no further than myself. Or perhaps I should say the illusion of self.- Lowell Greenberg


A Bird

A few days ago, coming back to my car from work, I noticed a small, fat little bird was lodged in the front air grille of my car. The bird had died- hopefully painlessly and quickly- when I removed him, his head was crushed- but otherwise- he was intact. I moved to a place near where I was, buried him and offered blessings for his movement to the Great Light..Which is where he is now. While death is a part of life and life a part of death, yet I was struck with the cruelty of machine culture- how it obliterates life- animal, plant, human, river, mountain, water....I wrote this so that bird's voice is heard and that by so doing I may honor his death. That some may consider this sentimental, overly emotional or even absurd- speaks more to their coldness and lack of awareness than to the truth this fat little bird offers.
 

Nuclear Power, Coals and Gas- The Big Lie

My feelings about nuclear power is that it is unnecessary, costly and dangerous- both from a radiation standpoint and potential national security threat. It can be argued that there is in no safe level of radiation and that the effects of radiation are insidious and accumulate occur over time- often a long time- whether we are talking about an individual or an ecosystem. Probably related to this is that the overall rates of cancer are dramatically increasing.

However, the key point is it is unnecessary. Renewable energy from the sun (solar, wind, etc.), geothermal, etc. coupled with conservation can provide all of the world’s energy in the near term. Of course, this notion does not serve the needs of the coal, gas and nuclear energy industry- so they continue to spread lies, while buying politicians so that they can continue to receive huge tax breaks and irresponsible government subsidies- loan guarantees.

Fukushima, which granted was built on an earthquake fault line- like a number of US reactors- is nonetheless indicative of the risks of nuclear energy. Aging plants, outdated technology, lax regulation and increasing risks over time- all spell disaster- in some cases for major population centers in the United States. To believe that US nuclear plants are safer than Japanese plants is to stretch incredulity. Stretching the truth as much, for example, as to say that the Gulf spill oil magically dissipated a few weeks after the wells were capped. In fact, the use of toxic dispersants to create the illusion of oil disappearing, itself has and continues to wreak havoc with the environment and the lives of the people in the Gulf- particularly those whose livelihood depends on the Gulf itself.

There is no Hobson choice- nuclear energy or climate change disaster. This is myth. While coal is probably more dangerous in some ways than nuclear- both are irresponsible choices. Climate change is now in the process of wrecking economies, destroying the agricultural base of poorer nations, adversely affecting the supply of water, etc.  Of the nations of the world-the United States consumes far more per capita than any other nation of the world- and not surprisingly has been a major force blocking action on climate change. The federal government has completely failed to address this issue and without national regulation and controls, it is almost impossible to address it successfully. Even worse, state/defense department and private think tanks know full well the implications of peak oil and climate change on the world economy, internal strife and global war. Lemmings off a cliff- no disrespect to lemmings though.
 

The Fight over Coal Mining is a “Fight About Democracy”: New Documentary with Robert Kennedy, Jr. Chronicles Campaign to Halt Mountaintop Removal, 5/23/2011

Comment: Massey Energy- recently found guilty for the deaths of 29 men- having over 60,000 mining violations, more than one billion dollars in fines- union busting activities, rampant damage to the health of men, woman and children and massive mountain top destruction- Massey energy- who has paid off politicians while impoverishing everyone else...is a major Republican party contributor. Which is why- if people do not speak out- Massey's reign of terror will continue.


Harry Belafonte on Art & Politics, Civil Rights & His Critique of President Obama, 5/16/2011

Comment: Truth to power- a truly great man speaks about the civil right's struggle, his own struggles and contemporary challenges. What stands out is how this great confidante of Martin Luther King sees the world- understands the truth and still has the courage to speak out and boldly do good.


Climate Change and the Flood This Time
Midwest flooding is a taste of climate change in its early stages. We've got to fight back, and fast, 5/10/2011.

Comment: At some point it is not enough to spout words. Not enough to simply know what is right. Not enough to criticize. Sometimes it is necessary to act. To change one's life in order to do what is right. -Lowell Greenberg


Was the Killing of Osama bin Laden Morally Justified?

Osama bin Laden was not armed during the attack on his compound. The mission of the security forces was to kill him- not bring him to stand before an international court of law. An international court of law would have allowed him and others a voice. It would have catalyzed a discussion about the root causes of terrorism and perhaps shown how tenuous is the line between state terrorism and acts of terrorism by al-Qaeda and similar groups. Perhaps this is why there was no interest in a trial.

Perhaps- given the nature of the venue- the result would have been a foregone conclusion. However, the function of an international court is not merely to render a verdict- but also to promote awareness and understanding such that similar events do not repeat in the future.

By murdering bin Laden, the United States reinforced its reputation as a world power that justifies its actions based on the use of force and not international law. What could of been a responsible act designed to promote justice- bringing bin Laden to trial in world criminal court- instead became more an act of revenge and hatred. As such, the act caters to people's worst instincts.

So- the answer to the question is no- the killing of bin Laden was actually murder and in violation of international law. It was not morally justified. This in no way condones the acts of bin Laden or al-Qaeda. Rather it speaks more to the United States government and its morality and goodness- or lack thereof.


Deepwater Drilling Resumes Despite Unclear Impact of BP Spill: "It is All about Hiding the Oil, Not Cleaning It Up", 4/20/2011

Comment: It is reprehensible that, "Congress still hasn't passed a package of basic drilling-related measures that would substantially improve worker and environmental safety. And the oil industry still hasn't come up with any fail-safe device that works well in deep water.

The World of Our Dreams: A stunning and hopeful truth: The world we must create in order to survive is also the vision that unites us- David Korten.

In response to David's essay:

Everything David writes is true- but is still only the surface. The dilemmas we find ourselves in as a species are rooted in the dilemmas we find in ourselves in as suffering beings- the wounds almost always self inflicted.

In nature, in the spirits that live in nature- the trees, the mountains, the running rivers, the smallest insect and the greatest mammal- there is only love and wisdom. This can only be understood if it is experienced directly. There is death of course in nature- but that death is the source of life- the returning of a tree to the ground when it dies- to be consumed by microbes and insects, to dissolve into the fertile soil and to live forever in the spirit and soul of new trees- the new deriving sustenance from the old.

There is suffering that is defined by the very nature of our existence-disease, injury, old age and more. But often the greatest suffering is self inflicted- unnecessary- but brought about by a failure to understand that we are infinite- that all there is- is love/consciousness and ultimately all there is- is love. To heal the world, we must heal our souls. To heal our souls- we must become self aware of who we truly are- to quiet the mind- to awaken to our true selves and our connection to and oneness with the universe. We must see the truth.


Bill McKibben at Power Shift 2011: 'We're Going to Create the Future We Need Ourselves'
"The first thing we need to do is build a movement."

Comment: Bill still has the notion that climate change is an isolated issue- that it doesn't reflect something fundamentally criminal in our global society. It may be important to focus on climate change- recognizing that a failure to face up to its reality will create untold suffering- but one must remember- that at the core the issue is spiritual and more broadly touches upon the very fabric of global society. The longer we chose to ignore this in the name of pragmatism- the longer we delay solutions and genuine hope.


UN Document Would Give 'Mother Earth' Same Rights as Humans, 4/13/2011

The Planet Strikes Back: Why We Underestimate the Earth and Overestimate Ourselves, 4/14/2011

The Torture of Bradley Manning, 4/11/2011

Please sign:

To Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Quantico Base Commander Colonel Daniel J. Choike, and Quantico Brig Commander CWO Denise Barnes:

We call on you to stop obstructing official visits to PFC. Bradley Manning at Quantico Marine Base. Marine confinement rules clearly state that people "conducting official government business, either on behalf of the prisoner or in the interest of justice," can be allowed "official visits" not subject to monitoring by the brig. Rep. Dennis Kucinich is clearly conducting official government business in the interest of justice. He should be allowed to official visits with PFC. Manning, along with officials from the United Nations and Amnesty International

 

Obama and the Republicans- Class Struggle

Nuclear disaster in Japan- While Germany and other nations are moving away from nuclear power- the US continues recertification of nuclear plants that should have been retired decades ago and supports expensive loan guarantees to build more nuclear plants- this is Obama's nuclear policy- even after Fukushima. What perverse level of self interest allows this President and his Republican friends to sacrifice the health and well being of the people he is supposed to protect?

A recently announced Obama energy security policy that emphasizes non-renewables- more oil drilling, more natural gas extraction, more biofuel...all with a blatant disregard for the ensuing climate change holocaust. Not to mention just how dangerous to workers and the environment is the drilling for oil and the extraction of natural gas. Raise your hand if you believe the causes of the disaster in the Gulf have been properly addressed and that the recent explosion (pun intended) of new drilling permits is proof of this. Sorry...if you raised your hand you would be wrong- go to the back of the class.

Freedom...goes to the highest bidder. Dilute Miranda; Codify illegal search and seizure; .Deport foreign nationals that face great hardship or persecution in their home countries; Illegally imprison immigrants; Destroy the ability of public and private workers to unionize and collectively bargain; Privatize government; Elevate corporate leaders such as Immelt- who export most of their jobs overseas and whose companies pay no taxes; Do nothing of any consequence to prevent a future economic meltdown- of far greater proportions than the one in 2008; Get a health care plan into law that is legally challenged and lines the pockets of the health care industry; Kill innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, the Philippines and elsewhere- in the name of anti-terrorism; Start an undeclared, unconstitutional and illegal war in Libya as part of the "Obama Doctrine" (this phrase is beyond laughable)

These things and more are part of the Obama/Republican legacy. Obama IS the problem. Nor is making him a one-term President and electing another corporate shill the answer. Look to the people of Wisconsin or Egypt or Tunisia. The power elite must fear that they will be held accountable for their actions. See also: Shunning Grassroots that Propelled ’08 Election, Obama Turns to Corporate Insider, Anti-Public Option Campaign Manager Jim Messina; This article leaves no doubt what economic class Obama supports. Also: Riz Khan - Cornel West and the fight against injustice; Kucinich: Obama Admin Transferring Wealth to the Few


Obama Loves Nukes, 3/24/2011

Democracy Now's Superlative Haiti Coverage: The Return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Convenient Consequences

While the crisis in Japan understandably dominates the world stage- with all peoples and nations concerned with the suffering that is taking place- it seems our leaders have abandoned support for democracy in Libya and Bahrain. In the later case it appears all to convenient given the Saudi/Bahrain monarchies' support of US gulf oil/military interests. In the case of Libya- it is perhaps a demonstration of a lack of will. While I am not advocating the use of military force or securing of no-fly zones in Libya- there needs to be no sparing of diplomatic and other efforts to support the freedom movement in that country. While not new, there is also no tangible support from the Executive branch for the brave Wisconsinites who are fighting for their economic and political rights.

In the United States the weekend firing of PJ Crowley, a very senior state department official that told the truth regarding Bradley Manning's torture and, in addition, the denial of visitation rights to Dennis Kucinich and others- are abject, transparent acts of dishonesty and deception. Since these acts, as well as other acts that deny basic human and economic rights, are clearly condoned and in some cases codified by President Obama- he will not have my support in his 2012 Presidential bid. While the President will clearly not lose sleep over my decision- he may lose sleep over the constituency I symbolically (admittedly in my own mind) represent- the progressive wing of the Democratic party. While this block of potential voters is a clear minority in the Senate and House, it is not an inconsequential minority in Ohio and Wisconsin- and Obama is not winning the Presidency without Ohio.
 

Japan Facing Biggest Catastrophe Since Dawn of Nuclear Age

Comment: It is unclear whether or not complete meltdowns can be avoided- including further breakage of containment- and substantial and deadly leakage of radiation.

At this point, the only thing that is clear is that nuclear power is not a viable source of energy for the future. Not only is it not cost effective, requiring expensive public subsidies and loan guarantees to build new plants- it is dangerous and unnecessary. Renewable sources of energy can meet the world's current and future energy needs.

Disasters like this will increase in frequency as developed nations continue to engage in riskier and riskier efforts to exploit non-renewable forms of energy. While there is no direct connection between the Gulf disaster and the tragedy in Japan, the essential connection is nonetheless clear- the willingness to take inordinate risks to feed an insatiable appetite for energy. It is important to not let governments justify these pursuits under the guise of "national security" or economic growth. The real cause is the unbridled pursuit of profit and the ability of corporations to externalize environmental costs- completely avoiding responsibility and risk to shareholders.

The tragedy that is ensuing in Japan pales in comparison to the unfolding tragedy caused by climate change. Again, mankind will be shown the limits of technology and the devastation that may occur if nature is ignored. Those politicians who prefer the comforts of corporate largess while deceiving their constituents and/or stubbornly refusing to accept the truth of nature - will be harshly judged by their children and their children's children. These judgments are not merely my own- but are shared by the vast majority of the world's climate scientists.

None of this in any way diminishes the suffering and pain that is occurring. We should as a world reach out to the Japanese and recognize that their tragedy is truly ours. Please give in any way you can... See also: Obama Loves Nukes
 

Tim DeChristopher: Taking a Leap and Pointing the Way

Comment: Give me a break- Tim is convicted of bidding on federal lands for oil and gas development with no intent to pay- while corporations externalize trillions of environmental costs. All agree the auction itself was irregular and illegal apart from anything Tim did...In conclusion- a principled young man could go to jail for up to 10 years...while corporations that are destroying the environment...pay nothing. Now that is justice....IN REVERSE.

Climate Direct Action: Civil Disobedience

Republicans Attack Obama's Environmental Protection From All Sides: Environmental protection in US under attack from extremist Tea Partiers backed by big business


Wisconsin Fights Back..

'General Strike!' Thousands Storm, Reoccupy Wisconsin Capitol in Response to Legislative Votes: "We're not leaving. Not this time."

"Shame! Shame! Shame!"
Lawless Legislators Approve Wisconsin Governor's Anti-Worker Agenda


Wisconsin Senate leader admits union-busting bill is about defeating Obama

Comment: Obama, why don't you offer your support for the civic resistance in Wisconsin and 15 other states? Or are you sympathies with the sycophant Republicans (and their backers) who are attempting to break the backs of unions?

Michigan Going Down Hill...Democracy In Reverse...

Bill in Michigan that has passed the Michigan House allows the state executive to dissolve local governments and appoint corporations to run municipalities in the event of unspecified emergencies....

U.S. Representative Tom McClintock attempting to Undo Historic Dam Removal Agreement

The Oregon and California state governments, the federal government, farmers, fishermen, ranchers and PacifiCorp- agreed it was in the best interest of all to remove four Klamath River dams by 2020. This dam removal would be the largest in US history. Tribal communities and others strongly made the case that to protect the environment, their communities and the salmon- it was necessary and cost effective to remove the dams. Enter McClintock- who attempting to politicize the issue- under the guise of protecting rate payers- wants to stop the studies that are required prior to dam removal and thereby obstruct the process. His argument of reducing the cost of electricity is a ruse. The dams provide electricity to no more than 70,000 rate payers. In fact, dam removal would probably decrease rate payers rates- since PacifiCorp would not be required to make costly dam modifications to conform to environmental laws. In fact, from a shareholder perspective, it appears that it is in PacifiCorp''s economic interest to bring down their dams.

The issues surrounding this issue are complex, and McClintock is representing at least a part of his constituency who oppose dam removal. Further, some in support of dam removal see the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement as flawed. Still, if properly managed, the removal of these dams will serve the interests of all parties. Quoting from a National Geographic article by Greg Addington, Director of the Klamath Water Users Association and others:

"A crucial turning point came in 2007 when, for the first time, farmers, fishers and tribes realized they shared a common future. If the Klamath’s rural communities were to survive, they had to work together. This translated into a joint commitment to restore the Klamath River."


White Dove

I saw a white dove on the parking lot pavement. Wings outstretched and bloodied. At first a sharp pain wrenched through my heart- like a stab wound. Then I realized I had seen an angel fallen on the ground- a victim of human anger and hate- environmental devastation. In every way a martyr and a reminder of what we have become.


Comments to a Friend on Climate Change, 3/2/2011

It requires forceful and clear political leadership to address the challenges we face. Obama is not up to the task. Quite frankly- even if 80% of Americans believed that climate change was a serious issue and had dire consequences- in my opinion- that would still not be enough for Obama to act decisively- the man can’t even mention the term climate change in his post 2008 election speeches. Energy SECURITY is the “new” code word for climate security.

The issue is not simply climate change as you know. We are undergoing a level of species extinction only matched a few times in Earth’s history. Food and water supplies are seriously compromised throughout the globe. While inflating food prices are in part related to market manipulation- the underlying cause is ballooning fuel prices and scarcity. Peak oil- that can easily strangulate every “advanced” economy is by some OIL company estimates- less than 20 years away (may already be taking place). Abusing the environment further to feed this oil addiction will only exacerbate the effects of peak oil and environmental destruction.

Unfortunately, unlike government and corporate think tanks- most ordinary citizens cannot couple the notion of climate change and war. Governments that cannot feed their populations- let alone their oil addictions- will if allowed by their citizens- engage in a war for survival. This scenario is not a sci-fi plot- but a likely possibility if current trends continue. Do you understand that these think tanks I just alluded to even see nuclear war/winter as a partial counterbalance to global warming. Can you conceive of how horrific this notion is?

He issue is NOT over population. Even at Europe’s level of consumption- the earth could support up to 11 billion people. At US consumption- the Earth cannot support the current 6 billion. The issue is unnecessary consumption, mass deception of the public and irresponsible manipulation of the environment coupled with spiritual death. The latter permits people to destroy life and busily go on with their daily lives- without much concern- focusing on their own individual needs- the rest of the world be damned. It also relates to the core questions of economic versus spiritual values- and whether GDP is a measure of happiness or there is something else of greater value.

The world is on the precipice of disaster and destruction- like no other period in human history. Collective action is required- it is impossible to address any of the issues I mentioned above in isolation.


In response to Chris Hedges artice, "This Time We’re Taking the Whole Planet With Us"


Chris- as usual writes boldly and clearly and presents the dilemmas we face. The operative term however must be WE. When one has the insights that Chris has- however much truth resides there in- it is important not to descend into misanthropy. The earth- all life- including man derive from the same source. In many respects the earth gave birth to us. In nature- in life- in the universe we find boundless compassion. The true inner and essential nature of man has nothing to do with the societal destruction and suffering he co-creates. In truth- this time in history demands an evolution in consciousness- not something new- but a remembering and hearkening back to our true natures.

When I work on solving issues- as soon as I find one exception- one anomaly- I know whatever theory I constructed that does not incorporate that anomaly is flawed. Just as I cannot and do not ignore Chris's message- in fact I grapple with it every day- every minute of my existence- I cannot deny the existence of compassion and wisdom...and with compassion and wisdom there is hope. However, I must radically agree with Chris- there is no guarantee that our species will survive- or survive without a period of great and untold suffering and destruction.

It is more productive perhaps to think about process- how to create the societal structures- the ways of thinking and feeling that allow transformation. In life- when I want to overcome something- I do not focus exclusively on the the negative forces- instead I overwhelm them- rendering them impotent. Focusing on the negative confers a power to it that in the end only makes it stronger. However, becoming a pollyanna- an apologist or a hypocrite- are not options. Inaction- turning the cheek- are not options.

One more thing- openness and vulnerability- YES-..weakness- NO. Strength, commitment and purpose are essential. The doing is important- as soon as one acts- the entire matrix changes- new possibilities emerge that where not foreseen- fear is what dis-empowers and is the chief instrument of control.


Barack Obama May Be Forced to Delay US Climate Action: Funding gap could force president to order a two-year delay in Environmental Protection Agency action, conference hears

As the world faces environmental collapse and runaway climate change- with the United States being the world's most prolific contributor to this disaster- consuming grossly more per capita than any nation on earth- Obama and his administration will agree to a 30% cutback to the EPA's budget?

30 years of economic stagnation, environmental devastation, gross income inequality, corporate/military domination of government, hopelessness, anger...How long will we remain silent?

We face a crisis so severe that it is as compelling as if somebody was shooting at our children, raping our partners, poisoning our food and water- and worse. How dare we stand by.


Bradley Manning charged with ‘aiding the enemy’

Comment: The conditions under which Bradley Manning are being held constitute inhumane torture and are in contravention to the Geneva Convention. The charge of aiding the enemy is unfair- not substantiated by facts. What is clear is that if he was the principal source of the series of Wikileaks revelations that have helped bring down repressive regimes in Egypt and Tunisia- that he is in fact a hero. If he is an enemy- he is an enemy to the entrenched powers in the United States and elsewhere who seek to maintain their power by deceiving the public and oppressing the ordinary citizen. Their time will come.


Why a Wisconsin Sheriff Refuses to Serve as Governor Walker's "Palace Guard”, 3/3/2011

Comment: Governor Walker is a toady to the Koch Brothers and others of similar interests. He should be treated as such.


Idaho Students Stage Walkout to Oppose Teacher Layoffs, Collective Bargaining Curbs, 3/2/2011


Comment: Common sense and courage...


Courage and Heart: Protesters Expect 100,000 in Madison as Assembly OKs Anti-Union Bill, 2/25/2011

“Mr. Walker, if you’re listening: We know pretty well know who you work for. Now let me tell you who we work for,” he said, eliciting a round of cheers from the crowd.
 

"Iran, the Green Movement and the USA": Hamid Dabashi On the Future of the Iranian Pro-Democracy Movement, 2/21/2011

Comment: Correctly labels Iran, US and Israel as embracing the politics of despair. US veto of U.N. Security Council resolution that condemns Israel's settlements in Palestine territory- despicable and shameful.


“Libya is Forever Changed by These Events”: Libyan Poet and Scholar Khaled Mattawa on the Pro-Democracy Movement Amid Government Violence, 2/21/2011

Comment: Where are the voices of the United States and Europe in condemning the action of Muammar Gaddafi? Are those voices so afraid of jeopardizing the supply of oil that they dare not speak out? Is there nothing more the world can do to support the Libyan people?

"...As the situation continues to develop, those words mean much more to me than the platitudes of government representatives in the US and the UK, who have done so little to oppose Gaddafi’s rule, and so much to enrich themselves, and who, in addition, have almost excelled in cynicism when it comes to Libya’s role in the “War on Terror...”-Revolution in Libya: Protesters Face Gaddafi’s Murderous Backlash as US, UK Ooze Hypocrisy
by Andy Worthington


What's Going on in Wisconsin? Latest Developments and Analysis on the Democratic Uprising Against Gov. Scott Walker, 2/21/2011

Comment: Wisconsin has become a battleground. Just how far can a government go to repress free speech and the right to unionize? How far will moneyed interests be allowed to control government? How far will media outlets such as Fox News be allowed to repress and distort the truth? How accountable will public officials be held for their action? How much scapegoating be allowed and finally- will the real culprits of the economic collapse be held accountable- instead of the victims?

By starving funding for states- the federal government has unwittingly set the stage of a true revolution of values. Thank you.

See also: The moral and intellectual caliber of the Wisconsin governor: Madison police chief asks Walker to explain ‘troubling’ comments- we know whose pocket he is in...


Turmoil in Middle East spells trouble for your budget, 2/25./2011

Comment: This article- predictably enough on MSNBC- illustrates the shallowness of an approach to news that focuses solely on the most recent job numbers, recent this and recent that. The underlying weakness of the American economy is due to irresponsible government and corporate policies that have emphasized the short term over the long term and a short sighted American public that seems to have no collective memory and a propensity to elect corrupt and incompetent leaders beholden to special interests (witness the new and old croup of Republicans and Democrats). The American economy is threatened on all fronts as things come to roost. Irresponsible tax policy, derelict energy and environmental policies, astronomical military spending- out of proportion to any nation on Earth- horrendous social and economic policy that has resulted in staggering inequality, a diminution of worker's rights, unimaginable debt, gross corruption in the economic and political system and the virtual fiscal collapse of state governments.

You sow what you reap. It is unfathomable that the only thing that wakes up so many Americans is the price of oil at the pump- in the meantime their basic economic and political rights have withered to almost nothing. Buy those SUVs- the illusion of safety they provide is just that...an illusion.

Notwithstanding the above- there are still amazing patriots and compassionate Americans who work for the well being of themselves and others. However, something is rotten in the state of the United States- and unlike Hamlet's Denmark- it is only barely concealed.


IPad 20 and No Food

Imagine the IPad 20- no touch interface- only voice. Retina + resolution and speeds that go faster than the blink of an eye...wait- there is something else...no food. You see- instead of using Facebook and Twitter to start a climate revolution in this country in 2011- we enjoyed the latest Duke Nukem game. Climate change accelerated with the melting of the permafrost, the strangulation of the oceans and the destruction of the world's rainforests. As a result of weather instability- the United Stated cannot grow or import enough food to feed itself. Due to melting glaciers and flooding-China- with its 2 billion people can also barely feed itself. Food prices have skyrocketed and in many cases there simply isn't enough.

But there is more. You wakeup in your beautiful spacious home and find that there is barely enough drinkable water. You feel sick- because with the destruction of habitat, starvation and drought- there is an increase in disease.

Turn on the TV- and there are wars everywhere- nation's that can't feed themselves use nuclear weapons to try to secure what their survival demands. When that is unattainable- there are always chemical and biological weapons.

Cling to those IPads- because there may be not enough rare earth metals to make it to IPad 30. Then what will you do?

What do I know? Not much. It is true I have more science degrees than most in Congress and the Executive branch. It is also true that the IPCC and virtually all climate scientists agree with the existence and impacts of human induced climate change. It is even true that the stench from government is so strong that even the likes of Shell Oil see the above scenario as possible.

Wait- I know- you have your faith. Well you are correct- the earth will never be destroyed by the hands of man- just all life on it. If you don't believe me- ask Noah.

Have a nice day...

Permafrost Melt Soon Irreversible Without Major Fossil Fuel Cuts, 2/17/2011

Comment: There is no subtlety in this analysis- no margins of error that reduce the potential threat- the world stands on the precipice of disaster.


What it means to be human...

To be human is not the possession of great technology. It is not the power to destroy all life. It is not the capacity to build hospitals, roads, power plants, etc. It is not the capacity to make revolutions. It is not the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. To be human is to be compassionate and loving to all things. To recognize the connectedness of all that is and was and will be. It is the spirit that seeks truth and is willing to sacrifice for what one loves.

Chris Hedges and Wendell Berry have devoted their lives to love. Perhaps the pain they obviously feel is a form of attachment- and it may not fully define what makes them truly human- it nonetheless may be in part the wellspring of their compassion.

To conclude, I would simply say that all life is interconnected. The violence we do to our Mother Earth and to what is upon it is violence to ourselves. There is no difference- none.

Solutions to the world's problems are not difficult- it is rather our difficulty in facing fear that obscures our willingness to see that solutions are possible. See: Fight for a World Without Coal
by Chris Hedges


In response to a quote from Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry also wrote:
"I must invent a new economic system or be enslaved by the other man's." That project is underway.

My first impression upon reading your Wendell Berry quote was favorable. In fact I was going to ask what you mean by "that project is underway."

Perhaps you are referring to the work of David Korten and others who wish to- among other things- redefine wealth and productivity. I agree that it is important that local communities- intentional or not- continue to open up new (or rediscovered) possibilities and levels of awareness around community and sustainability.

However, I believe that it is naive to believe that in a period where human beings can and are destroying life on the planet- whether through nuclear annihilation or environmental holocaust- that a change in economic and political structures is enough. This age embraces a kind of modernism that is nihilistic and in this sense more primitive than any past culture. The institutions we create reflect ourselves- and while it is true that the reverse can also be true- the former cannot be forgotten.

It is not inevitable that humanity will survive this period. All things in nature ebb and flow, rise and fall. Yet if we are to survive, we must hearken back to our truer selves. We as a species must attempt to consciously define what it means to be human- what our true place in the universe is. Diversity is healthy and beautiful- but by forgetting who we are- we are becoming something we are not- monolithic and without beauty.

Any system- economic-political- social- that fails to recognize this reality- this crisis- and the change it demands-will fail.

I think Wendell Berry recognizes this. Do you?
 

“We Are Writing History by Our Blood”: Egyptian Physician on Why Protests Won’t End Until Mubarak Resigns

Comment: Courage


"The World Should Keep Watching, 2/9/2011"

Noam Chomsky: “This is the Most Remarkable Regional Uprising that I Can Remember," 2/2/2011

“Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

Comment: Is the United States next? 30 years of economic stagnation, gross income inequality, corporate/military domination of government, hopelessness, anger...How long will we remain silent? see also: Part 2 of Chomsky's interview.; See also: '"Sheik al-Torture': Washington's New Man in Cairo," by Pepe Escobar, 2/9/2011

Also: "Recognizing the Language of Tyranny," by Chris Hedges. Chris wrote:

"Empires communicate in two languages. One language is expressed in imperatives. It is the language of command and force. This militarized language disdains human life and celebrates hypermasculinity. It demands. It makes no attempt to justify the flagrant theft of natural resources and wealth or the use of indiscriminate violence. When families are gunned down at a checkpoint in Iraq they are referred to as having been “lit up.” So it goes. The other language of empire is softer. It employs the vocabulary of ideals and lofty goals and insists that the power of empire is noble and benevolent."

One can't help but feel that we are hearing from the United States and Europe the "softer language" with regards to Egypt. Knowing that if the Egyptian revolution turns fully to the will of the people- the language of oppression will follow- and its consequences.

Why the Egyptians on the street should not trust the United States: Former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld: Guantanamo one of world’s ‘finest’ prisons, 2/9/2011


Dystopia

As usual I agree with Chris Hedges' analysis. Yet the movement of American democracy to totalitarianism and empire was observed by de Tocqueville in the early 1800s. One question to pose is whether any prior society was truly free from the domination of fear and powerful elites. While there is a tendency to equate egalitarian and sustainable societies with simpler (and more profound) indigenous society- to what degree is this over idealized?

We must go beyond the dystopic vision- however true and yes....frightening. We must fully accept as a species that our problems are spiritually rooted. Evil governments spring from ignorance and fear- and that fear is us. There can no longer be an abandonment of individual responsibility.

It is understandably difficult for some to disassociate spirituality from corrupt religious institutions that represent the ultimate attempt at mind control- but if mankind is to survive- and remain human- we must.

People must end perceiving themselves as victims. Massive empowerment is needed. As we redefine what it means to be human- to be alive- we will redefine what it means to die.

All that mankind is experiencing and may experience in increasingly evil dystopias- is a culmination of centuries of oppression, war and fear. Not unlike an individual facing their past- we are being asked to face our collective future.

Our lives as individuals and as part of collective communities is a gift. We may chose to bask in fear and lose our gifts- or become one. We have a choice.

See also: this reply to the above from Stephen V. Riley.


No Time for Silence-The Environmental Holocaust

My first thought this morning- however unoriginal- was that Nuremberg-style war crimes trials are in order for political leaders who through inaction, malfeasance, etc. are allowing nations to be destroyed, species in unfathomable numbers to die- who are creating untold suffering for both current and future generations...But then I asked..who would hold these trials? And the answer is that all major nations are complicit- with the United States the most- perhaps because they are all controlled by corporations. Environmental holocaust is not an inappropriate or inaccurate depiction of what is taking place. As a society and a world- we as communities and individuals have become so inhumane and corrupt as to allow this holocaust to occur- in the face of virtually certain knowledge and no chance of escape.

Without the beauty of nature to remind us of our humanity and connection to all things- we will further descend as a species into a machine-like hell dominated by militaristic states- without values- or I should say the only values will be the one deemed Darwinian- the survival of the fittest- strength-power-money.

I was a teacher once. One unit I conceptualized, developed and taught was about the Jewish holocaust- in part from a children's perspective. To achieve this- and to make it meaningful- I challenged my students to live the holocaust through the eyes of its victims. The story was not completely bleak- there were many individual acts of courage and compassion. But my point is that your words- however "realistic" are dross. It shows that you cannot FEEL what is happening- you can intellectualize- you can observe- but you are not THERE. I have the fortune or misfortune of being THERE. I can FEEL this suffering. I cannot escape it. I cannot allow pretense to change my thinking. Please understand- I am sure you are well meaning and caring- but do you FEEL? If you did- you could not sleep. You would have difficulty containing your tears. You could not look at a tree- a mountain- a suffering child- and easily walk away- without something deeper than guilt- an admission of responsibility.

The Buddhists argue for detachment and compassion. Without the former the later is supposed to be difficult to achieve. I argue for attachment and compassion. Not the attachment to material things- delusions of strength-vanity- rather attachment to what is- to the silence within- to the great unfolding- to who you are- REALLY are. In this sense I suppose I agree with the Buddhists- except to say that detachment is not nihilism- it is the embracing of what is.

Perhaps it is too much to ask of humanity that it be human. And who am I to say so?

See also: "Droughts, Floods and Food," by Paul Krugman. The consequences of climate change...


"A time comes when silence is betrayal."

The greatest speech ever delivered by an American- prophetic and as true today as it was over 40 years ago.

Extremists Considered in Spokane Bomb Investigation: Where's the Coverage, the Outrage, 1/21/2011?


Why is Glenn Beck Obsessively Targeting Frances Fox Piven?-1/14/2011


False Equivalency

President Obama gave an appropriate and insightful speech during the Tucson Memorial Service. One thing he said in his speech is that there is evil in the world. This is true- which is why it is imperative that we take stands. If a Rush Limbaugh declares himself a fair and unbiased journalist- and for example calls donations to Haiti the US income tax, or claims that President Obama is not black- but is Arab- as if by doing so he can fan hatred and anger- then this commentator needs to be called out-and where there is incitement to violence- prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If Sharon Angle espouses second amendment remedies- then she needs to be called out- not in some pseudo debate about the left versus the right- but directly as a false patriot and someone who should be condemned. Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and other media ratings hounds- need to be called out- not with palliatives such as Jon Stewarts weak appeal for getting along with his buddies- but clear condemnation.

Yes- there can be a debate between positions. Yes- because someone holds a position I disagree with- no matter how misguided I may feel it is- it does not give me the moral or legal right to espouse violence or to impugn their motives. We live in an Orwellian society where the government and media manipulates words and too many citizens are afraid to speak out. However, this was not the case with Gabby Giffords. The right wing talking heads- of which Sarah Palin is nothing more- pretend to forget that Gabby herself spoke out against Sarah Palin's cross hairs and her messages of hate. It will never be possible to prove a direct relationship between a sycophant's words and an individual's act of violence- yet there is always the possibility that there is a link- witness the murder of Dr George Tiller- where the link is far less than tenuous.

The right wing commentators I mentioned deserve to be called out and condemned. To the extent their free speech encroaches on the freedom and safety of Americans that oppose their views- they need to be held legally accountable. And- President Obama- you need to take sides. Not because it is childish- not because it will bring short term resolution- but because it is right- a simple notion that you sometimes forget. Who is going to stand up for the brave political leaders in Congress who continue to meet face to face with constituents in public settings? Who is going to make their pain and fears known? Who is going to bring attention to the strain threats to their life have on their families and personal well being. While these legislators support the Presidents weak positions- that by their very weakness generate hostile debate- who is going to support them?

The Tucson county sheriff is a straight talking man who is probably at some level voicing not only his own concerns but those of Gabby Giffords. It is ashamed that such straight talk doesn't come from the White House. Oh yes Mr. President- enjoy your interview with Fox News during the Super Bowl. Be sure to praise their journalistic integrity that you help dignify-if not by your presence- the presence of your office. Also- finally- instead of great speeches- how about straight talk and principled stands.
 

"I mean, this is a situation where -- I mean, people don't -- they really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up and, you know, even things, for example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list. But the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. When people do that, they've gotta realize there's consequences to that action."-- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), in a MSNBC interview earlier this year.

I wrote this (see below) in April 2010 in response to now House majority leader John Boehner's threat against a Democratic congressman. In light of the recent shootings that involved Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, I would ask that the Republican leadership take responsibility for their rhetoric and its consequences. While most Americans would not act on verbal threats by Boehner and others- a small percentage of Americans would be encouraged to act violently. For this reason- the violence threatening campaign of Sarah Palin to defeat her political opposition disqualifies her from any public office now or in the future. The same applies to Representative Boehner- but I doubt he will step down. Again, while I recognize that neither politician wishes physical harm on another- the irresponsibility of their rhetoric and the violence they encourage- demands rebuke and legal repercussions.

Further, Fox News and commentators like Bill O'Reily, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and others also bear responsibility for the culture of violence- all driven I might add by a quest for higher ratings and nothing more. While these cynical personalities may be embraced by parts of the popular culture- they have no principle- and are undoubtedly repulsed by very forces they appear to champion.

As for Congresswoman Giffords- she is a courageous politician that has demonstrated a sincere desire to act from principle on a range of issues. I have the deepest respect for her and her family and offer sincere prayer for her recovery and ability in the future to serve in any way she sees fit.-1/9/2011. See also: Brady Will Offer Bill to Expand Protections for Members;
Climate of Hate, Paul Krugman, 1/9/2011


April 2010:

Congressman Boehner: Resign Now!

Boehner called Ohio Congressman Steve Driehas a dead man for voting for health care. A day or two later the Congressman and his family's  life was threatened. Boehner needs to be censured and forced to resign. His vituperative, cowardly and intimidating behavior encourages violence and should not be tolerated.

Congressman Boehner is reminded that If someone yells 'Fire' in a crowd to start a stampede and people are harmed- it is called reckless endangerment and can be treated as a felony crime.

See also: Paul Krugman's editorial: "Going to Extreme." ; Rachel Maddow: Right Wing Threats of Violence Intensify, 4/7/2010

 

Crackdown on Organized Labor: States Call for Wage & Benefits Cuts, Urge Laws to Curb Union Influence, 1/6/2010

Comment: While leading economists such as Joseph Stiglitz argue for increasing taxes on the wealthy - we find instead that state and federal politicians are attacking the wages and pensions of middle and lower class public employees and doing nothing to force the wealthy to pay their fair share.

Why is this? In part it is because government employees are relatively easy targets and most politicians are cowards. However, make no mistake- this is part of an ideological agenda that seeks to weaken or destroy public unions and privatize the public sector. The destruction of public unions will destroy wages and needed job protections- resulting in significantly fewer qualified teachers, firemen, policemen, etc. If efforts are made to privatize key government functions such as police and fire protection, the history of such efforts suggests that the public may be endangered. Significant legal issues will arise and citizens may no longer be afforded equal protection under the law and a quality education for their children.

My advice to public unions is to fight back and use whatever power they possess- including the right to strike- to make clear they will protect their members from corporate dominated state and federal legislatures who seek to protect the rich while decimating the working class. Further, every American should understand that an attack on the public sector is really an attack on the private sector and all working class Americans. Truly- United we stand- divided we fall.
 


Eyewitnesses Describe Death of Palestinian Woman in Israeli Tear Gas Attack, 1/4/2010

Comment: Israel needs to be held accountable to international law for the killing and maiming of innocent protesters. Israel is an apartheid state that should be condemned and isolated in the world community.
 

Courage & Hope: As Ex-Argentine Dictator Sentenced to Life in Prison, Mother of "Disappeared" Children Recounts Decades-Long Struggle for Justice

Also: Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo

I am weak and you protect me
I am hungry and you feed me
I am homeless and you shelter me
I am forgotten and you remember me
I am unlovable and you love me
Whatever I do- you see through me- into who I am
And in your eyes I am perfect

Mother


Obama & the Price of "Victory"

Pundits like Rachel Maddow and others are declaring the recent lame duck legislation passed by Congress as a significant legislative victory for President Obama. Well here is my assessment.

The President caved in on a cornerstone economic issue. As a result there will be 900 billion dollars of tax cuts in the next two years- of which a grossly (disgustingly) large percentage will accrue to the top 2% of wage earners. This is the case even though the top 1 percent earn between 21.4 and 23.5 percent of the national income and this share exceeds what the entire bottom 50 percent of the United States earns. Income disparity in the United States is the greatest of any developed country in the world. This degree of income inequality is undermining the political, economic and social fabric of the country and will increase economic instability.

Perhaps to some Americans- tax cuts are a simple way of stimulating the economy during a recession. But far from it. These tax cuts will, by heavily favoring the wealthy, have a minimum stimulatory effect and exacerbate income inequality. In addition- by providing no additional aid to the states- state governments will be forced to raise taxes to provide basic services- in effect nullifying a large portion of whatever stimulatory effect there is from the Federal tax cuts. Further, the government has yet to address the foreclosure crisis- with about 2.5 million delinquent mortgages and 2.3 million in foreclosure. As a result prices continue to drop- creating a snowball effect that could result in as many as 11 million (1 in 5) borrowers losing their home.

In fact, taxes need to substantially increase for the wealthy and large corporations- to allow a responsible decrease in deficits while continuing to allow the economy to expand. Yet this will not happen in what is essentially an oligarchic society. To underscore this point- even with the majority of Americans opposing tax cuts for the wealthy-the Republicans pressed their elitist agenda and the President caved. In truth, the recent financial and health care reform bills- rather than being seen as true reforms- need to be seen as concessions to these economic elites- since they are the ones that will ultimately profit- to the detriment of the average American. In the case of health care- this is precisely why a strong public option was so vital- it would have provided the principal counter-weight/competition to the private insurance industry and a means to control costs. Instead we have an insurance company monopoly codified into law and guaranteeing accelerated health care inflation and significantly increased profits to health care providers. And for precisely this reason, Republicans will never repeal health care reform. As for banking reform- there is no clear indication that the reckless speculation that led to the financial collapse will be curtailed in the new laws. Both health care and financial reform seem more like endpoints than as the President claims, starting points for additional reform.

In the next two years- leading up to the 2012 elections- the mantra from Washington will be reducing the deficit. What the tax cuts will do is place intense pressure on Congress to cut social spending. The Republicans will not agree to significant cuts in military expenditures. Congress will be "forced" to cut programs that serve the needs of the poor and middle class- and then have the temerity to blame an aging population and irresponsible government spending as the root cause! What this effectively does is undermine the safety net for the average American.

Once the President agreed to this extremely damaging tax policy- it appears as if the Republican leadership released its stranglehold on its party members- allowing members to vote their conscience. DADT was repealed- with support of 75% of Americans and the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff. While this is a significant milestone in the advance of Lesbian, Gay and Bi rights- it is hard to see its passage as a profile in courage for the President- given the strong level of popular support. Similarly, the START treaty was supported by almost every responsible member of the foreign policy establishment. Most importantly, the treaty helps prevent Russian nuclear stockpiles from going into the hands of terrorists by reinstating nuclear cooperation/inspections of Russian facilities. A victory for the world- Yes. However only in a bizarre political environment would this be construed as a great victory for anything but common sense.

The President deserves some praise for not overly politicizing the DADT and START debates. However, what he gave up is beyond the pale. DADT would have been eventually overturned by the courts. A new START treaty would have been passed regardless- if the President summoned any political will- and ditto for an extension of unemployment benefits. Victory in exchange for massive defeat does not equal political courage and most importantly- what is good for the nation. Adding to this- environmental collapse, threats to the world's water and food security, wars, etc.- perhaps the metaphor of victor should be replaced with the image of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.
 

Presidential Lies about Afghanistan...


Update: Senate Approves DADT Repeal! 12/18/2010

Comment: This repeal is a a significant advancement of Lesbian, Gay and Bi rights in the United States- yet there is still much more to be done. Stiffer laws against hate crimes, much better protections for transgender citizens, LGBT marriage- with all of the benefits and rights conferred on opposite sex married couples, protection against bullying and harassment in schools and the work place, access to partner health care plans and retirement benefits- in other words: full legitimacy in the eyes of the law and society.


WikiRebels - The Documentary

It should be clear from viewing this documentary why Wikileaks and similar organizations are needed to counterbalance excessive secrecy and the abuse of power- ultimately to save lives.


Barack Obama to Sign Package Extending Tax Breaks for the Rich, 12/17/2010

Comment: Ironically in this case we have a confluence of multiple forces- all aligned to significantly weaken the American economy in the mid to long term. We have a measure that will (1) Significantly increase income inequality thereby further erode sustained economic growth; (2) Create a type of indebtedness that will not stimulate sustained economic growth, but instead will decrease the solvency of the nation and its debt- accelerating the transfer of economic power away from the United States and European and Asian economies dependent on the United States economy; (4) Result in a significant erosion of long term growth prospects and remove any semblance of a safety net for the average American. Quite a deal Obama struck. Wait...Did I write mid-term? It's becoming clearer- short term= 2012 election and increased political contributions for the courageous politicians that dropped estate taxes while the nation has trillions in debt. Well at least we can rest easy. The President's reelection chances have not been to compromised- or so he thinks...
 

Bradley Manning: Tortured, 12/16/2010
 

Sanders Filibusters Tax Deal As Key Senate Democrats Join Revolt

In addition to Senator Sanders, I would also like to praise Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon for his courageous and clear stand against the egregious tax cut agreement. This is the first time in two years I can begin to see the Senate and House Democrats standing with conviction for what is right (sane)!

As for Bill Clinton- he is no model for principled opposition. His support of the Obama/Republican tax agreement only strengthens the argument against it...Further- he should use whatever limited influence he has to release aid to Haiti. See also: Maddow And Olbermann Slam Obama's Tax Cut Compromise; Comment: Disgusting, irresponsible tax giveaway.


Glenn Greenwald Calls Julian Assange's Arrest "Pure Authoritarianism", 12/7/2010

While the US government is at it- preparing for Assange's indictment on espionage- they may as well add the New York Times, Guardian UK, Der Spiegel and Le Monde to their list. According to the Declaration of Independence, governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whether this is another principle sacrificed to the whims of expediency or a principle to be treasured and defended- remains to be seen in the case of the United States and other countries. In my view it would be a grave mistake to extradite Assange to the United States. Not only is it unlikely he would be convicted- it reinforces that the practices described in the cables are in fact alive and well- only further justifying the work of Wikileaks and others in exposing abuses of power.


The Odious Grand Compromise...


House Democrats vote to reject Obama-GOP tax cut deal: At least Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Caucus has guts...12/9/2010

Expediency and political "realism"- these seem to be the bedrocks of Obama's tax "compromise." None of these are the basis of good policy- and in this case they are the basis of very bad policy. Compassionate action- which the President pretends to espouse- looks not just to the next election cycle- but to the needs of future generations.

By accepting this "compromise" Obama is committing the nation to policies he knows are economically and morally bankrupt. If a purist objects to a 900 billion dollar boondoggle- I would hate to hear the objections of a realist. Is Erskine Bowles a realist?

Listening to Obama defend his compromise- it struck me how disingenuous he is. At times the analogies became ludicrous. Keeping your aim on the North Star- or better yet- the wisdom of negotiating with terrorists- with the American people deemed hostages. Wow…this really is a beleaguered President. He seems to have lost his way- his voice- his convictions and his purpose- if he ever had these things to begin with.

In his press conference, the President reminds us that the battle has just began and that he intends to defend the solvency of the nation- while only whispering about how he will defend the needs of the poor and middle class.

What I want from this President is a tangible commitment on what he will or will not cut going forward. I want specifics as to the impact of the tax cuts for the wealthy on programs that help the poor and middle class. I want specifics as to how far he will go in reducing the deficit. The freezing of the wages of federal workers- Is not a good sign. I want clear answers to fundamental questions and not vague hints and hopeful rhetoric.

I will not stand for a child going without a school lunch so as to support a tax deduction for a Wall Street hedge fund manager. And I have news for Republicans and Democrats- at some point soon- neither will the rest of the American people.

It appears Republicans are holding the vote on DADT "hostage" to the Democrats agreeing to the tax compromise. Well I have a message for the Republicans- "Go ahead, make my day." The courts will hopefully end DADT soon- relegating the Republican party and the DADT policy to anachronisms.

One last thing- some in the Press feel the President is finally acting "Presidential." The only things I can say in reply is that some very well educated people believe that McDonald's hamburgers are healthy and nutritious- go figure. Bottom line: Look at the fruits of their labors. The truth always has a nasty way of pushing aside the delusions of egotistical men who believe they are demi-gods and can dictate for the lesser mortals- namely us.


John McCain Attacks DADT Study

Update: Senate Approves DADT Repeal! 12/18/2010

"I am a supporter of LGBT rights and am against DADT - I fight every day. Until you are the daughter of a republican senator - don't assume what I do and the stances I take are ever easy."- Meghan McCain- daughter of John McCain.

What do these countries have in common?

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania (though having other gay rights issues), Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland (though there may be anti-gay bias in the government), Romania, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Bermuda, Uruguay.

They all allow gay men and woman to serve in the military.

What do these countries have in common?

Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Cuba, Cyprus, People's Republic of China, Dominica, Egypt, Fiji, Ghana, Greece, - The Greek ban on homosexuals is the object of criticism by the European Union, as EU law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; Grenada, Guyana, Iran, Kenya, Kiribati, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

They all do not allow gay men and woman to serve in the military.

The countries highlighted in red have particularly serious human rights issues. While it is true that not all countries that allow gays in the military have acceptable human rights records-even towards their LGBT communities- the majority do. The same cannot be said for those countries that ban gays from the military. The countries highlighted blue, in addition, are African nations- in a continent that is rife with homophobia and anti-gay policies. Uganda, in particular, has a pending anti-homosexuality law that in its present forms calls for the death penalty for gays and lesbians who engage in sex and are HIV positive, have committed the "offense" of homosexuality more than once, have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol during a sexual encounter or where one partner has a disability. Further, while Uganda like many other African nations, has a deep seated homophobia- it was only after the intervention of American evangelicals such as Scott Lively, Rick Warren, Mark Tooley, Stephen Null and others that the government decided to bring the issue to the fore and begin systematic persecution. While some of these evangelicals indicate they oppose the Ugandan law- to this day American right wing evangelicals come to the country and make loud anti-gay speeches- further reinforcing their blatant hypocrisy and sending the wrong signal to the Ugandan populace and government.

Why then does the United States of America put itself in pariah status and at least partially on the side of nations that abuse human rights and delegitimize behavior- which I- as a gay man- know is natural and normal?

Most Western military forces have now removed policies excluding non-heterosexual individuals. Clearly the issue is not military combat effectiveness as Senator John McCain and others state. McCain is transparently cynical. Even in the face of support from the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff- even when a soon to be released Pentagon study indicates that allowing gays to serve would not be disruptive to the armed services- even then- he argues for more study- further exposing the true nature of the opposition- who refuse to see serving in the military as a human rights issue. I served in the military and I was gay. I can assure you- the policy of DADT- implemented after my time- is nothing more than a selective cover for a military superior to punish a service member when there is no other reason to. The policy is reprehensible and is a detriment to morale- since it denies the basic rights of service members and solidifies the military's hypocrisy on the issue.

Finally- remember this. A nation that discriminates against some of its citizens- ultimately sacrifices the rights of all of its citizens- not just those who appear to be the targets. It is no coincidence that so many nations that discriminate against gays have the worst human rights records- for all of their peoples.


WikiLeaks Cables: Shell's Grip on Nigerian State Revealed

This revelation is important. Why? From the web site/movie Sweet Crude:

"In this small region of Nigeria known as the "south-south," something huge is happening. The adverse effects of oil exploration have been unfolding in the Niger Delta for the past 50 years. Now, the people have had enough. From environmental activism to peaceful protest to stakeholder dialogues, nothing has worked. A new brand of militancy has emerged in a different kind of attempt to call attention to the desperate poverty and injustice.

Here, citizens of an oil-rich nation struggle to eat in a land that can no longer support them. The Delta’s water and soil have been fouled by the same oil production that accounts for more than 80 percent of the country’s revenue. Traditional fishing and farming livelihoods are all but gone. Potable drinking water is rare. So is electricity. With pitifully few clinics and schools, curable conditions go untreated and illiteracy is high. Families are broken up, as men die young or take off for the cities to find jobs.

The advent of militancy has brought both hope and fear to the region. People live with the constant threat of war, yet many feel that armed resistance is the only avenue left to make their voices heard."


Canada and US: Climate Criminals, 12/7/2010

WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord, 12/6/2010


Obama's Waterloo- The Concessionary President

"
Yes, letting taxes go up would be politically risky. But giving in would be risky, too — especially for a president whom voters are starting to write off as a man too timid to take a stand. Now is the time for him to prove them wrong."- Paul Krugman on tax cuts for the rich cave-in, 12/5/2010. Result: Voters are right. ; Also: Frank Rich: "A chief executive who repeatedly presents himself as a conciliator, forever searching for the "good side" of all adversaries and convening summits, in the end comes across as weightless, if not AWOL."

What is perhaps most tragic is that Obama himself cannot and/or will not accept the truth of his critics. The essential element of tragedy is that the protagonist cannot change his very own nature- the source of his downfall. The twist for Obama is that at times what some may deem cowardice- could perhaps be perceived as a kind of wise and mature leadership and acceptance of the truth. The test however is whether the leadership is compassionate and defends the basic rights of the innocent, weak and oppressed. And measured against this test- his leadership again fails and the perception of wisdom gives way to that of cowardice.

In the spiritual realm- seekers of truth often have difficulty reconciling their spiritual understanding with their worldly actions. Perhaps too many recoil or escape from the world- not necessarily in divine silence- but in avoidance. And when a person with spiritual understanding engages in worldly action- to alleviate suffering or effect social change- one of the greatest challenges is to recognize the difference in themselves between compassionate action and ego driven acts. There is no simple answer- however the solution of avoidance in the end yields no fruit and becomes a failing of the spiritual life.



Foreshadowing...

On the Choice of Rick Warren for Obama's Inaugural Invocation, 12/21/2008

Whatever the reason- friendship, a quid pro quo- it doesn't matter. At a personal level, I believe that the Warren's attitudes towards gays is not merely a social stand- not merely a biblical interpretation- but an effort to dehumanize gays- to make it more difficult to grow up gay and as a youth believe that you are normal and entitled to the same quality of life that straight people can have.

By bolstering Warren in this way, Obama contributes to undermining the gay community. It diminishes his voice as a leader of integrity. It reminds people of his view of politics and change- one that may foreshadow weakness- not strength. Shallow manipulations by politicians or others will ultimately have no effect on the course of history and emergence of the truth. So as Obama returns a favor to his friend and reaches out to the evangelical Christian right- the struggle for gay rights marches on and will prevail. A struggle that Obama says he fiercely supports.


Cablegate- Exposing Dark Secrets, Lies & Corruption

Update: Julian Assange's Arrest, 12/7/2010: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."- Julian Assange quoting a young Rupert Murdoch. Assange wrote this in an editorial released prior to his arrest in London on 12/7/2010. To be honest- I am not certain this quote is true- or consoling. The power of truth in part is that its revelation is timely- so as to avoid wars and other human misery. Also- as many have found- the release of the truth is no assurance it will be used courageously and wisely or even understood. This is especially true in an age of media manipulation where propaganda and disinformation are treated as equivalent to the truth. Ironically, no greater distorter of the truth exists than Rupert Murdoch and his ratings driven news empire.

Still, without the Bradley Manning's and Julian Assange's of the world- what hope for informed change remains? Merely wishing for the best is an act of cowardice. Blaming one's adversaries is equally so.

Cablegate

From: http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/

"The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret.

The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice.

The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in "client states"; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.

This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments -- even the most corrupt -- around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.

The full set consists of 251,287 documents, comprising 261,276,536 words (seven times the size of "The Iraq War Logs", the world's previously largest classified information release).

The cables cover from 28th December 1966 to 28th February 2010 and originate from 274 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions."

Comment:  There are many questions raised by the most recent leaks. They expose a pattern of lies, corruption and deception among the powerful elites that are inimical to the national and world interest- perpetuating, for example, conflict in the Middle East. Our nation's catering to the corrupt, unpopular Saudi elites on Middle East policy while the very same elites fund Al-Qaeda is beyond the pale. Our illegal expansion of the Afghanistan War into Pakistan through secrets ops- now laid bare by the Wikileak disclosures- is immoral and unjust. They way in which we attempt to obstruct justice in Spain - as in the Couso case- is reprehensible. Clearly war crimes tribunals need to be convened to hold US leaders responsible for illegal acts against the citizens of the world.


Speaking of war crimes, last night I watched the movie, "Fair Game," which is about the falsification of intelligence leading up to the Iraq War and the illegal outing by former Vice-President Cheney of Valerie Plame Wilson as a covert CIA agent. The outing was a vendetta against her husband- former US Ambassador Joe Wilson- and his revelation that in 2001 George W Bush lied about the purchase of aluminum rods by Iraq to create weaponized uranium. Bush used this "information" as a principal justification for going to war. Perhaps if there was a Wikileaks then- the true nature of the US involvement in Iraq would have been revealed sooner- and lives saved.


Americans are naive if they believe the illegal and unjust practices our government pursues overseas doesn't spill over at home. In fact, they are all part of one very corrupt system. Erosion of freedom of speech, illegal detention, corporate domination of government, environmental abuses and favoritism for the wealthy- Welcome to America- 2010.Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and others have done this nation and the world a great service by bringing the truth to light.


Hope

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame,

W.H. Auden, quoted by Chris Hedges in his article entitled, "Hope, Real Hope, Is About Doing Something."


Power and the Tiny Acts of Rebellion

Writer and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, after critiquing the current state of politics, society and reform movements wrote in an article entitled, "Power and the Tiny Acts of Rebellion,"

"It is time to think of resistance in a new way, something that is no longer carried out to reform a system but as an end in itself. African-Americans understood this during the long night of slavery. German opposition leaders understood it under the Nazis. Dissidents in the former Soviet Union knew this during the nightmare of communism. Resistance in these closed systems was local and often solitary. It was done with the understanding that evil must always be defied. The tiny acts of rebellion—day after day, month after month, year after year and decade after decade—exposed to everyone who witnessed them the heartlessness, cruelty and inhumanity of the oppressor. They were acts of truth and beauty. We must take to the street. We must jam as many wrenches into the corporate system as we can. We must not make it easy for them. But we also must no longer live in self-delusion. This is a battle that will outlive us. And if we fight, even with this tragic vision, we will lead lives worth living and keep alive another way of being."


Comment: I respect Chris Hedges critique and embrace his analysis as fundamentally sound. However while he can correctly diagnose the patient and recommend one healing modality- voicing and acknowledging the truth- his way of thinking about the system is to accept the very assumptions that led to the problems. "Reality" is highly malleable. Change is the only constant. Stability is an illusion- there is only change. Small shifts in perception can bring about fundamental societal change. Chris abets the process of meaningful change be speaking and writing the truth. The possibilities of change are only limited by our imagination. Imagine the reality you desire and bring it into being. There is no hope and there is no lack of hope- both are delusions.


Sustaining a War Economy


Deficit cutting seems to be the rage in many Western economies. Under pressure from the very financial institutions that caused the Great Recession of 2008, governments have decided to squeeze their populations. In the process they go counter to Keynesian theory and the experience in the 1930s that says that cutting expenditures in a deep recession/depression is folly and counterproductive. Instead the emphasis needs to be in creating employment, stimulating demand and lessening economic inequality- not out of love for the lower or middle class- but because it makes economic sense. Of course, if we repeat the pattern of the 1930's- then War will become the main vehicle for ending this recession. Which coincidently is the only spending program supported by the very elites who caused the financial crisis and whose elected cronies have gained an even greater foothold in Washington during the mid-term elections.

This pattern occurring in the developed nations is of course no stranger to the left behinds of the developing world- who acceding to the bankers- in many cases crippled their economies and devastated their economic base. Only those developing countries that stood up to the IMF and World Monetary Bank- China for example- who discouraged speculative investments- only those economies are now prospering- becoming the love children now of the very economic forces they spurned.

Yet the issues are even more complex than in the 1930's- on top of this we have peak oil looming and the devastating effects of climate change. And how does the elite and their crony politicians react?... by fudging numbers and denying reality.

So what should take place is not taking place because of the very individuals and institutions that caused the financial crisis to begin with- and who historically have oppressed the world's poor. And once again- what goes around- comes around. The United States is becoming tomorrow's banana republic. In fact- despite its wealth- its level of income and GNP- the United States is more unequal than Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela in income distribution, and roughly on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador (with all due respect to these countries).


To Derrick Jensen

Today I watched the recording of Derrick Jensen's recent interview with Amy Goodman. Derrick is sometimes referred to as the philosopher poet of the environmental movement. In response, I would like to say this. First the premise that global capitalism is destroying this world and that in addition to environmental destruction- destruction based on war is possible- even probable- is I believe self evident. Yet it is as Max Frisch wrote, "unworthy of man to call stupidity a fate."

Is it so difficult to imagine a different world? What would it be like? How do we get there? Jensen is right. A failure of the progressive and environmental movements is that they work piece by piece and fail to see the big picture- the overreaching whole- the cumulative impact of human actions.

Derrick spoke of his abusive father and said that even if his father was perfect- there would still be the environmental holocaust that is taking place around us. Well in an obvious sense this is correct- but in a deeper sense it is not. His father- all those alive today- are a product of a karmic chain that extends from past to future generations. The anger, the fears, the distrust, the abuse-  the inability to understand our own minds- our own constructed realities- is the basis of the destruction that is now taking place.

The gift to mankind is that it is possible to re-imagine- to dream something else and bring it into being. Yet, we are living in the age of Orwell- the Orwellian vision is not in the future- it is NOW. We are conditioned to limit our imaginations and settle for what we are told is possible. This must change.


John McCain Attacks DADT Study, 11/15/2010

"I am a supporter of LGBT rights and am against DADT - I fight every day. Until you are the daughter of a republican senator - don't assume what I do and the stances I take are ever easy."- Meghan McCain- daughter of John McCain.


What do these countries have in common?

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania (though having other gay rights issues), Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland (though there may be anti-gay bias in the government), Romania, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Bermuda, Uruguay.

They all allow gay men and woman to serve in the military.

What do these countries have in common?

Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Cuba, Cyprus, People's Republic of China, Dominica, Egypt, Fiji, Ghana, Greece, - The Greek ban on homosexuals is the object of criticism by the European Union, as EU law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; Grenada, Guyana, Iran, Kenya, Kiribati, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

They all do not allow gay men and woman to serve in the military.

The countries highlighted in red have particularly serious human rights issues. While it is true that not all countries that allow gays in the military have acceptable human rights records-even towards their LGBT communities- the majority do. The same cannot be said for those countries that ban gays from the military. The countries highlighted blue, in addition, are African nations- in a continent that is rife with homophobia and anti-gay policies. Uganda, in particular, has a pending anti-homosexuality law that in its present forms calls for the death penalty for gays and lesbians who engage in sex and are HIV positive, have committed the "offense" of homosexuality more than once, have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol during a sexual encounter or where one partner has a disability. Further, while Uganda like many other African nations, has a deep seated homophobia- it was only after the intervention of American evangelicals such as Scott Lively, Rick Warren, Mark Tooley, Stephen Null and others that the government decided to bring the issue to the fore and begin systematic persecution. While some of these evangelicals indicate they oppose the Ugandan law- to this day American right wing evangelicals come to the country and make loud anti-gay speeches- further reinforcing their blatant hypocrisy and sending the wrong signal to the Ugandan populace and government.

Why then does the United States of America put itself in pariah status and at least partially on the side of nations that abuse human rights and delegitimize behavior- which I- as a gay man- know is natural and normal?

Most Western military forces have now removed policies excluding non-heterosexual individuals. Clearly the issue is not military combat effectiveness as Senator John McCain and others state. McCain is transparently cynical. Even in the face of support from the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff- even when a soon to be released Pentagon study indicates that allowing gays to serve would not be disruptive to the armed services- even then- he argues for more study- further exposing the true nature of the opposition- who refuse to see serving in the military as a human rights issue. I served in the military and I was gay. I can assure you- the policy of DADT- implemented after my time- is nothing more than a selective cover for a military superior to punish a service member when there is no other reason to. The policy is reprehensible and is a detriment to morale- since it denies the basic rights of service members and solidifies the military's hypocrisy on the issue.

Finally- remember this. A nation that discriminates against some of its citizens- ultimately sacrifices the rights of all of its citizens- not just those who appear to be the targets. It is no coincidence that so many nations that discriminate against gays have the worst human rights records- for all of their peoples.


The Truth

Strategically it would appear that Obama, having through his generals, won a decisive battle (the Presidency), then decided that the vanquished (Republicans) would work for the common good and not seek redress. Perhaps he did not realize early on that his adversaries saw and still see his eventual defeat as their principal goal and future source of victory. Yet his response has been to tack politically to the right and squander opportunities with excessive compromise and back door dealing- undermining his popular base of support. Perhaps he believed improvement in the economy would somehow rescue his Presidency or that the public would understand his "historic" achievements- and victory would then fall into his lap. All this however did not materialize- because for them to have a chance of taking place he would have needed to align his words and actions with Truth.

And what is Truth?
Truth is inherent in the Universal. In our choices in life we can chose to be compassionate, loving and sensitive to the suffering of others. We can forgo personal gain and the pursuit of power. We can see fear for what it is and instead seek what is genuinely human and good. We can allow our self to face the consequences of this at whatever the cost. For me this is Truth. And without the pursuit of Truth- there is nothing- all victories without the Truth are ephemeral. What remains is suffering.


The Democratic Defeat

The rout of Democrats yesterday can be looked at many levels. Fundamentally, a misinformed populace, manipulated by corporate media and clinging desperately to a failing and unsustainable corporate system/value structure returned to their corporate rulers for solace and protection- they very forces that undermine their security. I might add that some of those elected are equally victims of this repressive structure- essentially believing their own lies- made even more dangerous because of blind passion and a tendency towards violence.

Democrats and Republicans are both bought and sold by this political/economic/social structure. Yet it is astounding how Americans could yesterday elect so many leaders whose views (stated and unstated) are so antithetical to their best interests.

Predictably, Democrats will probably look at the defeat of Russ Feingold- a relatively principled Senator- as a reminder of the need to move to the right and compromise principles for expediency. This in turn will be their undoing.

Perhaps instead they ought to study the works of the late Nestor Kirchner in Argentina- or even better the teaching of Howard Zinn. Perhaps they need to think about how to revitalize, not just their political base- but the country as a whole- not just through spending programs or nods to the system- but fundamental change that builds community, equality and creates a future vision that treats all peoples of the world as important, valued and loved. In summary- perhaps they need to begin to restore democracy to America and free this country and the world from the stranglehold of corporate and military power. Sadly, this election, is one more blow to this goal- and another setback- a learning experience whose lessons will be born in pain- unnecessary pain.



The Republican "Tsunami" and Why...

Vote! Below is an analysis of a possible/likely Republican victory this week. But remember- there is still time to vote. The Republicans fear nothing more than the votes of working class Americans, woman, minorities and youth.

The Republican/Tea Party is poised to sweep Congress- and would have swept the Senate if enough Senators were up for reelection. The question is why. Is it because the party has better ideas? No- the party is bankrupt of new ideas or common sense. Is it because the party has greater integrity- No- the party is morally bankrupt, espouses violence, is corrupt, and promises to reinstate an even more influence peddling culture in Washington. Is it because the party is better organized, more effectively run? No. Michael Steele, the Party Chairman for example, is a veritable laughing stock. Is it because of the new rules that allow massive amounts of corporate money to flow into elections? Partially perhaps- but by no means does this fully explain what is taking place.

So why. There are three answers. The party since Obama's election has engaged in a destructive policy whose primary goal- in the words of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and others was/is to destroy and defeat the Obama Presidency. This singular goal to discredit the President and if even if by doing so harm the nation has thus far, been successful.

Second, the Republicans by focusing on the negative- pursued the "easy" path- it is far easier to destroy than create- far easier to act selfishly then morally and ethically- far easier to suppress the truth than embrace it. Far easier to scapegoat then accept responsibility and work together. Far easier to lie than tell the truth. 

Finally, the condition of the economy- which Republicans worked to worsen- generated outrage and impatience from an American electorate that expects instant results and has little sense of what it means to build an enduring, sustainable future. The President- whether due to misguided policy, politics or both has failed to convince Americans that he is in fact working towards a better future.

Like the policies of the Reagan and George W Bush administrations- the "new" Republican policies will hasten the destruction of the moral, economic and political fabric of the country. It will increase the propensity for war. Attempt to silence those that seek justice and truth. In the end they will hasten the destruction of the very corrupt system they embody.
 


WikiLeaks & War Crimes

"Thanks to WikiLeaks, I now know the extent to which top American leaders lied, knowingly, to the American public, to American troops, and to the world, as the Iraq mission exploded."- Ellen Knickmeyer on the carnage she saw as Washington Post Baghdad bureau chief"

It is seems hard for the US government to admit its mistakes- the atrocities committed by American and Iraqi soldiers- the hundreds of thousands of unnecessary civilian deaths. Recently, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Bush Administration, Hugh Shelton, admitted that, ""There was a very strong push in those days for us to go into Iraq, and there was absolutely no intelligence, zero, that pointed toward the Iraqis." This all suggests, in my opinion, that war crimes charges need to brought up against key members of the Bush Administration for deliberating fabricating evidence and/or knowingly lying about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attack.

The WikiLeaks release of close to 400,000 documents- field reports from US troops- document over 280,000 casualties. They show a US military that in many cases, under the direction of their superiors, looked the other way when Iraqi troops committed horrible atrocities. They document tens of thousands of previously undisclosed civilian casualties.

The group Iraqi Body Count has documented over 100,000 civilian deaths during the Iraq War. And for what? Who will be held accountable? That our elected government has decided to dodge this issue does not mean that the US mainstream press should shirk its responsibilities to pursue the truth. Without disclosure and accountability, the likelihood or reoccurrence of war crimes is even greater. Finally, government leaders that commit war crimes often do so out of a distorted sense of patriotism- that they are patriotic- in no way diminishes their crime.
 

Hope

We live in dark times. It is true that many people become fearful, for example, when their economic security is threatened- their future. Fear manifests in the many forms of hate we see today. LGBT and other minorities become scapegoats. The truth is that sexual repression and violence are linked. The most repressed, the most homophobic in our society- are often the most violent. They are out of touch with their own feelings- their own nature. They are so out of touch- they turn to whatever makes them feel alive- in control- and that is often violence- verbal or physical. They are driven by fear and have very little real connection with their families, partners, children, communities and themselves.

The truth is that to be sensitive is too be alive- and to be alive is to feel pain. To be sensitive is to be fully human. This is not easy in a world that is filled with hate and repression. To remain human in this world- truly human- is a fight- a continual battle. But it is important to recognize the great beauty and wisdom in yourself and others. Do not allow feelings of guilt or anger to change your perception of yourself or others. Accept all aspects of yourself. Reach out to others like yourself. People who care. People that have similar experiences and viewpoints. Let them become your new family. Enlarge your compassion. There are so many that suffer for so many reasons- poverty, hunger, disease, war, oppression....the list is endless. Yet all of these things need to enlarge your compassion- both for yourself and others. This compassion should extended to all life- not just human. To trees, mountains, rivers, lakes, animals, plants- to all living things.

Feelings- of despair and anger are normal- healthy in fact. When you find yourself taking actions- writing, speaking and acting to manifest yourself more fully in this world- to experience-you will find that the despair will pass- in fact you may see these darker periods as periods of renewal.

However, if the despair does not pass, then you must from deep within recognize this and following your heart seek the help that you need from within or without. Sometimes it is just reaching out to a trusted friend. Sometimes a counselor, a family member- an ancestor-a tree, an animal- someone. Sometimes it is reaching out to yourself- holding that inner conversation that allows you to restore your balance. Please remember that seeking help is an indication of strength- it is also your birthright as human being- as someone connected to this universe and all life.

Do not repress your anger, your sadness. Do not wish it away or in any way convince yourself that is wrong. It is a message-it provides a lesson. Why I am I angry or sad? Is it justified? How should I change my perspective? Do I need to change something in my life? Reach out? Understand your anger- do not judge it- learn from it. Depression can at times be internalized anger. This anger can in part be a reaction to the many angry and repressed people in this world. Don't let their anger harm you or your life. Instead, grow stronger, wiser and more alive- more human. If you are reading this- then you have the capacity to do this.


Vote!

G.O.P. Allies Drive Ad Spending Disparity

As a citizen, you have the responsibility to become informed enough on the issues to make intelligent, non-fear based decisions that can be supported by facts.

You have a responsibility to vote for the best candidates at the local and national level. Not all politicians- Green, Democrat, Republican or Independent are corrupt- not all are unable and unwilling to stand up to the system. By failing to vote, you allow manipulative self serving interests to buy favors and corrupt government at all levels. Plain and simple, by failing to vote you effectively disenfranchise yourself and increase the potential for harm to your community and family. While voting alone is not enough in a participatory democracy, it is one of the bedrocks.


Don't Ask Don't Tell...

US District Court Judge Virginia Phillip's recently issued a ruling in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States stating that DADT, the ban on LGBT citizens from serving in the military, is unconstitutional. Judge Phillip's noted: "...DADT violates LGBT personnel's substantive due process rights, as articulated in Lawrence v. Texas, associated with the "'autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.'"

Yet the Administration is appealing Judge Phillip's ruling because Obama favors repeal by the US Senate- after the ongoing military review- versus a reversal by the courts. Yet, Republicans, now poised to become the majority party, are almost uniformly opposed to repealing DADT and would likely filibuster any bill to do so.

The Obama Administration doesn't have to appeal the court ruling, but is doing so in deference to the Senate and the Pentagon. Yet, there is little chance that the Senate would repeal the ban on gays in the military and there is no guarantee that the Pentagon study will support repeal.

Human rights issues should not be decided through a Pentagon study. Nor should the Senate be supported in its upholding a law that is unconstitutional.
The truth is that the opportunity to right injustices against minorities only comes after long struggle- and when the opportunity presents itself it must be seized upon. Instead, this opportunity is being squandered.

Whether it is insufficient economic stimulus- resulting in high, structural unemployment; illegal and unjust home foreclosures; unjust wars; continued violations of civil liberties by government; compromised health care reform; banker/Wall Street windfalls; and a quickening of the pace of environmental destruction- the Obama Administration and the Senate have failed the American people. The failure to repeal DADT- to fight for its repeal- is only one more sad example of this.


One final comment. Imagine what it would be like to be injured on the battlefield and not be able to say "I love you" to your partner from the hospital. Not even have your loved one notified of your injury- or even death- or have any say in your care or burial. Imagine not being able to share an important aspect of yourself- one that many of your fellow soldiers freely share with each other. To suffer or die in a kind of silence. Why are gay people subjected to this? Conversely, why would a gay person subject themselves to this? Perhaps it is because they honor their country above themselves- yet this disqualifies them from service?
With respect to DADT, I reminded of the famous quote from English poet John Donne, "“Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."


What is Needed: Think Global- Act Local (and Global)

There is frequent talk about the need for change given the seeming inexorable human induced planetary pull to self destruction. I won't even list here these destructive trends- there are too many, they all converge to one point and I have addressed them elsewhere. Again, the world today is in a very dangerous period. If trends continue this danger will increase at rates that will ultimately cause the world's economic, social and environmental systems to totally collapse. The question for many is- how to accomplish change to avert or lessen the coming collapse.

So what is needed? The general framework for what is needed is clear. What may not be clear is that change has its own dynamic. Not unlike the melting glaciers- small cracks, even seemingly small changes can break the overall system- essentially opening the flood gates to "meaningful" system change that can alter the landscape and bring the potential for sustainable prosperity for all nations.

Governments play a key role. Mechanisms, taxation, exchanges, incentives, agencies, structures must be created that allow a competing world view to take hold - one of sustainable community and growth. Call them what you like- incubators, schools, banks, businesses, regional alliances, co-ops, currencies- institutions that are predicated on the belief that a non-carbon based, sustainable economy that recognizes the aspirations of all the world's peoples and that is strongly committed to social justice- these are needed- NOW. If these vehicles are created, then I believe that large numbers of activists, entrepreneurs, citizens, businesses, individuals, civil society groups, etc. can start the process of accelerating meaningful change.

Today, we find that instead, national governments are so controlled by corporate interests, that even slight levels of innovation are opposed or reversed. This is true in the United States perhaps more than any other nation in the world. Ironically these global corporate interests work against their own mid and long term interests. Their strategy is based on fear and control. They have an unrealistic/dysfunctional view of reality that permeates their world view and shapes their economic decisions and efforts to control governments and consumers. However, it is not uniformly true throughout the world. Though inadequate, certain European and developing nations and their governments are starting to make headway.

Accompanying this resistance to change are right wing movements growing like a cancer in many developed nations. Their messengers speak to a "golden" age- when the Fatherland was supreme and when their wealth and power was unchallenged. When their populations were freed from poor, non-white immigrants. Of course- this golden age never existed or perhaps existed for a brief space of time in the memories of their aging politicians. And, need I mention- it was hardly golden. A corollary to this world view is the belief that governments and corporations should also have unbridled power to violate civil rights and privacy- to protect against the terrorists their very policies help create. Finally, there should be no surprise regarding the love fest between many on the right and major corporate oil, gas, defense industry and media interests. They feed off of each other in an unholy exchange of mutual delusion, fear and money. The entrenched nature of these interests is so great- even Dwight Eisenhower, who spoke so eloquently in his Presidential farewell speech about these trysts- would if not be in shock- suffer profound dismay. 

Still, hope exists because millions of people-young and old and in-between- around the world support fundamental change that can result in a fairer, more just world. It is not easy for these concerned people to read about or experience childhood starvation- in their own country and in other countries. They have sensitivity to the environmental destruction and they realize that it must not continue. They may be conservative, moderate or liberal. They are informed by involvement in their local communities and a decentralized alternative Internet media- not yet controlled by global billion dollar media or defense corporations. They are capable and in many cases are already rising above their personal selfish economic wants and making a difference. They recognize, for example, that the world's environment is a shared, common resource- owned by all and not to be controlled by selfish interests.

For the United States this is a Rooseveltian (Franklin and Theodore) era- new institutions MUST be created NOW to foster needed change. Sadly, Obama and his administration clearly do not understand this- which is unfortunate- because this is exactly what the times demand. This is not the time to patch the system- it needs a reboot and restructuring- a new operating system if you will. However it is clear, the Obama administration, the US Congress and the Supreme Court are too controlled by the very interests that must be broken. Obama and the Democrats need look no further when attempting to understand the so-called enthusiasm gap in the mid-term elections.

If immediate change can't happen at the federal level- then the states and localities must take on the "burden." Except it won't be a burden. State economies that forge ahead with sustainable grids, locally generated renewable energy and a new culture of "dematerialization"- will flourish. The federal government will have no choice but to support this change- or the politicians that oppose it to protect their corporate backers will be removed from office. The federal constitution must be amended to once and for all remove money from politics. The constitution will also need to be amended to recognize the personhood and rights of nature and the environment. In addition, there must be new limits placed on the executive power to start and fund wars.

In conclusion- at least in the United States- the federal government can no longer address the nation's fundamental economic and environmental needs. Local governments, regional alliances, civil society, etc. must supplant the role of the federal government. Activist pressure must be exerted strongly at the local level. However, pressure must still be applied at the international and national levels. Companies and stockholders can still be influenced by informed consumers who can choose not to buy. But local government must now play a much larger role in constructive change.   

I know that localities will be challenged to play these roles without federal support (and even in the face of federal obstruction and/or restrictive monetary and fiscal policies). But again, the key is to start a snowball effect. Once the cracks occur they can be exploited- and new directions will emerge. We have to start somewhere. Pinning our hopes solely on national governments and traditional global for profit corporations will result in failure. However, the fight must still occur at all levels of government. Finally, it must be recognized that the possibility of failure exists. The very forces that seek to perpetuate the current system will hasten its self destruction and themselves will be destroyed in the process. However, to not work to avert the severe crises ahead- is irresponsible and devalues the lives of the innocent men, woman and children who are victims of this drive to self destruction. It also turns a deaf ear to the cries of past, present and future generations. I can hear their cries. Can you? Are you listening?


The Problem...No Focus

I have listened to political, spiritual and eco activists throughout the world. The problem is that while people who are awake recognize the destructive effects of globalization- their solutions are inevitably hedged. We need to do this- but we need to feed a world population that is doubling...we need to be sustainable, but we need economic growth (albeit not based on unbridled materialism). It is as if these are all competing desires and that global capitalism, abetted by science, will address the needs of the future- and all will be well. Indeed we have human rights groups, indigenous rights groups, environmental groups, all kinds of civil society- working in their individual areas for a better world- while the world they are working for is slipping away.

In the meantime, behind not so closed doors, the military/governmental/industrial elite (government is probably redundant here), plan for resource wars, starvation, a shrinking food and water supply, etc...Nations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and others suffer now and the stupid rich plan to use their armies to secure what they need for survival as the future worsens.

The problem is that all of these people have it backwards. To effectively solve an issue you start with a set of minimum requirements. Sustainability, control of global warming, preservation of the environment- these are not competing priorities- these are sine qua non- without which there is none. All of the human potential for creativity must be directed to addressing these issues as a prerequisite for economic growth, feeding the world, etc. Again- these are not liberal ideals that are put forth by intellectual elites who don't know what economic slavery and poverty really is. These are essential preconditions for the survival of life as we know it- that is life that is worth preserving.

Would you plan your family's budget and consider eliminating the cost of feeding your children? Yet this is exactly what the world's leaders do when the fail to act on sustainability and climate change issues. The BRIC countries can grow 40% per year- but in the end- what is the point if the only hope to secure this wealth is war... and what is left of the world is a waking nightmare. The United States can invade every oil rich nation, destroy what's left of its democracy and become an arm for global capitalism- but were exactly does this leave the American people?

The right wing is right to see the views expressed above as a threat- because to address these issues appears to require fundamental societal change..and why should they want to change when they and their backers have all of the support and money. Future generations are of no concern to them. Seven generations? Rather try next year's corporate balance sheet.


The Solution starts with recognizing the truth

Hatred and violence are not solutions. When the oppressed use violence and there is no overreaching moral structure and context- then they become like the oppressor.

I wish the solutions were as simple as uniting together. I wish that Christian, Islamic and other religious institutions were strongly advocating for needed change- whether environmental or societal. Mostly, I wish that the human race had another thousand years- another century- to unite on environmental issues and issues of war and peace.

You live in a nation that spends more on the military then all of the other nations of the world combined. You live in world where nations such as the Congo, Pakistan, Niger, Nigeria and others have become victims of the very same corporations that bring you your oil, water, food and cloths. You live in a nation that in response to the loss of 3,000 souls on 9/11 has killed over a million people- most of whom are innocent. You live in a country where elections are bought and sold by corporations and where the halls of Congress are littered with money changers and lobbyists. You live in a nation that offers more protection for billionaire bankers than the average citizen. I did not make these things up. I fail to see how they are left or right issues. By opposing these things, I express love. For those that defend them- I cannot answer for them- except that I will oppose them until they recognize that these are problems and show a willingness to work towards solutions.

Do you really think the United States or any nation can afford to spend trillions on military spending when the foundation of the world’s prosperity and future generations are at risk? What gives the American people and its leaders the moral or ethical right to expend this wealth when so many suffer? Is this a left or right issue?

The challenges are global. The United States is playing the least constructive role of any industrialized nation in the world in addressing many of these issues. The political division in this country is not because each side merely hates each other. In fact both sides are being played against each other by the very corporate and military interests that perpetuate the world's collapse. The issues are in fact spiritual and go far deeper than politics. At the core, there is a denial of the truth. Yet I hope my understanding of the truth is wrong. I hope so- for the sake of you and your children and your children's children. But to believe that I am wrong, I would have to not believe 90+% of the world’s climate scientists. I would have to ignore the pleas of Nobel laureates and replace it with a trust in people like Sara Palin and Rush Limbaugh. I would have to deny my years of education and experience. Sorry- I can’t do that. Nor do I believe you are asking me to.


The Average American

Paul Krugman wrote an excellent analysis in the New York Times today (10/11/2010) on why federal spending has been too small. He writes:

"...Here’s what you need to know: The whole story is a myth. There never was a big expansion of government spending. In fact, that has been the key problem with economic policy in the Obama years: we never had the kind of fiscal expansion that might have created the millions of jobs we need."

It is easy for the average American to understand this assessment- given the record levels of unemployment, foreclosures, job uncertainty and the failure of government to address fundamental economic, educational and environmental issues in a way that instills confidence in the future. As Democrat and Republican incumbents contemplate and spin their poll numbers they will do well to remember this.

Yes the political debate is vitriolic and misinformed. Yes- Fox News is an opinion rag- not an objective reporter of news/analysis. Yes- corrupt money is flowing into election coffers and continuing to marginalize the role of the ordinary citizen (who nonetheless abdicates their political responsibility by not voting). The list goes on and on.  

With all these things being true, it is also nonetheless true that when the average voter goes to the polls, they will ask themselves, Is my life better? Could government have done more? Could I have done more? What needs to change? And if I were an incumbent, I would be uneasy over their answers.


Brilliant reporting from Democracy Now! on FBI entrapment techniques against "suspected" terrorists that border (or are) criminal, 10/6/2010

"..Prosecutors and defense attorneys made their final arguments this week in the trial of the Newburgh Four, a high-profile case that has made national headlines as a potent example of so-called "homegrown terror." The defense has argued that the defendants were entrapped by government agents and not predisposed to commit a terrorist crime. For several months, Democracy Now!’s Anjali Kamat and Jacquie Soohen of Big Noise Films traveled through Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey to track the Newburgh case and two others..."


Why is Russ Feingold Struggling for Reelection in Wisconsin?

I am baffled as to why Russ Feingold is struggling in Wisconsin. Russ Feingold is a courageous senator- a pioneer in campaign finance reform, a strong advocate for civil liberties, health care reform, genuine financial reform and LGBT rights; and a vocal opponent of the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is being challenged in a Democratic state by a wealthy business executive who is using his substantial wealth to buy an election. An individual with no legislative experience, who is essentially a front man for the NRA, big business, the coal and gas industry, etc.

Americans continue to erode their democracy by not voting in political elections. It is this apathy that may defeat principled politicians such as Russ Feingold.

The greatest of many threats to US democracy is the recent Supreme Court decision that allows corporations to contribute unlimited dollars to elections. Russ Feingold and John McCain were the key sponsors of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that sought to regulate the financing of political campaigns. While the Supreme Court ruling- probably the worst ever by a Supreme Court- gutted this law- voters have the responsibility to support legislators that stood up to corporate interests- not cronies like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican lackeys who fundamentally and exclusively represent the interests of their corporate backers. Wakeup America! Vote!



Jim Hansen, leading climatologist, being arrested, 9/28/2010

Courage: Appalachia Rising: 100 Arrested at White House Calling for End to Mountaintop Coal Removal, 9/28/2010


A Fine Whine, 9/28/2010

Obama (and Biden) Have No Clue About What's Bothering Their Political Base, Rabbi Michael Lerner,  9/28/2010


Comment: Rabbi Lerner expressed well how I feel about Obama and the Democratic party leadership. However, as he implies, none of this is an excuse for Democrats and independents not to vote. The truth is that a Republican/Tea Party majority will accelerate the decline of the country and create much greater hardship for the poor and middle class throughout the world.

The real underlying issue that is destroying this country and world is
global capitalism/militarism run rampant. See: Globalization, Climate Change, Environmental Destruction, Developing Nation Exploitation, Wall Street Collapse, Fascism, Unlimited War- Are all Related. As for Mr. Obama- his fate was foreseen a year and half ago- see: Obama at the Crossroads.

...Obama should have put the solar panels back on the White House roof... It is the tears of the young people who watched his team of politicos reject the panels- the tears of those who have suffered because of his subservience to corporate interests and right wing fascists- it is those tears that will defeat his leadership. Sadly- what comes in its place may be far worse- more tears. But eventually from tears will come joy.


Jeremy Scahill- The Nation: Blackwater's Black Ops, 9/15/2010

Comment: In the United States corrupt politicians that leave the Congress go to work lobbying for corporations and use their influence and connections to represent their corporate benefactors. Apparently, when at least some senior CIA and military officers retire, they work for paramilitary private corporations like Blackwater- becoming the foreign policy arm of major corporate interests or government interests that seek deniability. Not surprisingly- one of the world's most corrupt and morally egregious corporations- Monsanto- hired Blackwater to perform black ops and surveillance against animal rights and other groups that oppose its interests.

Clearly the US Congress should aggressively investigate these matters- and not in the typical whitewash fashion they have become accustomed to. But is it reasonable to expect that they will when they are complicit and seek to protect the very interests that are under investigation?
 

Chris Hedges on Moral Courage

Comment: In this and other speeches and writings, Chris Hedges seeks to dismiss the illusion that any form of band aide can repair what is essentially a corrupt capitalist/totalitarian world order. His vision is largely one of dystopia- a broken fragmented world order firmly on the path to self destruction. While he discourages violence, he firmly espouses resistance and adherence to the best aspects of the liberal democratic tradition. He embraces sustainability and community.

I want to caveat his statements- qualify them- offer a less pessimistic vision- but I can't. The dystopia he speaks of exists today- its roots go far back. His is an accurate depiction of reality.

This dystopia was not difficult to foresee. Yet at its root- the crisis is spiritual. And despite all- transformation is possible if the mind is freed from illusion- delusion- and is willing to understand the human condition and our relationship with each other- with nature- with the Universe. The answers are not found in religious institutions- but in our renewed understanding of the present and connection with the living universe. The vision of Chris Hedges outlines is tragic- mankind is as much victim, as willing participant in his own destruction. However, another way is truly possible. Love and compassion are real- they have meaning.


The Republican/Tea Party, 2010: Mass Stupidity

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”
--- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, November 8, 1954


Comment: There are many reports that Sarah Palin is a fundamentally angry person- self destructive- violent- uncaring to those closest to her- while at the same time having a public visage that is somewhat the opposite- the soccer mom- with a health dose of patriotism and common sense. I tend to think of her more in terms of the wolf in sheep's clothing. It is no coincidence that she taps into the public angst- anger- since she is an embodiment of this anger- and its destructive consequences.

When I listen to Glenn Beck- I hear threads of megalomania- a belief that his mission is from God. I hear the same from Sarah Palin. Yet I believe that if most Americans truly understood both these people for who they are- they would not see them as popular champions- but as dangerous manifestations of their own fears- insecurities and in some cases hate. Frightening individuals.

The Republican party- the Jan Brewers, the John McCain's and others- seem to also appeal to this mass fear- hatred- in the case of Brewer- willing to scapegoat against immigrants for personal benefit. In the case of McCain- there seems to be a predisposition to solve all international problems through the use of force. Listening to McConnell and Boehner- I hear two servile and detached politicians that have no empathy- are fundamentally self serving and seek to appeal to the worst elements in their party.

When I hear Obama I hear two things. A politician that espouses liberal democratic values- yet in his actions either embraces a kind of cowering realpolitik- or worse a cynicism that calls into question his sincerity. Yet, Obama and the Democratic party- have brought constructive change. There is probably no American that has not directly or indirectly benefited from a governmental program they have spearheaded. Yet the change has not been fundamental- it is not change that dramatically changes the course of democracy- of the environment- of the financial system, of the war machine,  etc. Obama skillfully tries to navigate between different constituencies- different metaphors- his notion of leadership is fluid- dynamic- but not substantial. Perhaps his campaign motto should have been "change" and not "real change you can believe in."



The Ending of the War in Iraq

Lies...not really over. Combat mission reduced. Sectarian violence reduced. Potential for re-intervention however.

Iraqi infrastructure in disarray. 500,000 Iraqi children died due to US backed sanctions before the War. By some estimates a million or more Iraqi's died during the War. US soldiers killed and maimed. For what?

Initial intervention a violation of international law. Gross mismanagement of almost all phases of the War. Do we learn from our mistakes? No...Instead we declare or pretend victory and refocus on another international foreign policy disaster- Afghanistan.

The American public as badly informed as ever- poised to vote into power fascist, right wing leaders who have no understanding of the issues facing this country and the world- further accelerating the nation's decline. Unimaginably these "leaders" take on the mantle of Martin Luther King- a man's whose greatness overshadows them in degrees unspeakable.

And Obama...this source of great change...believes he can do nothing and does nothing-does he even care?



Meteorologist: Record Heat Wave in Russia Could Kill Tens of Thousands Russia-fire


"Wildfires across Russia. Devastating floods in Pakistan. Deadly landslides and flash floods in India and China. Heat wave across the United States. Severe drought in Niger. Taken together, scientists warn the events match predictions for extreme climate events caused by global warming. This year is on track to be the warmest since reliable temperature records began over a century ago, mainly due to a buildup of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels. We speak to Jeff Masters, co-founder and director of meteorology for Weather Underground, a weather information website."- Democracy Now!, 8/10/2010; See also: Bolivian UN Ambassador: Despite Extreme Weather, US and Other Developed Countries Failing to Make Serious Pledges to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Comment: See: A Prediction- a New Warning


Our Deceitful Government- The Gulf Crisis

Scientist Accuses Obama Administration and BP of Underestimating Amount of Oil Left in Gulf of Mexico

Fishing Industry in Gulf Still Worried About Levels of Toxins in the Water and the Impact on Marine Life

Comment: 4-6 million gallons of oil disappear in two weeks. Wow...just how dumb does the Obama administration think the American people are. Though I have a background in microbiology- I had no idea those little microbes could work that quickly. Idiots! The oil will take years...decades to cleanup- assuming even that the fragile ecosystems of Gulf- under threat before the BP spill- will ever recover.

Toxic dispersants are used to sink the oil to the ocean floor so that the old adage- out of sight-out of mind- can take hold on a supposedly gullible American public. In the meantime fisherman and shrimpers get sick, all forms of marine life die and....Haley Barbour, the corrupt governor of Mississippi, won't even use all of the federal money his state has been given for the cleanup.... Good ole boys indeed.

Lessons learned? A coherent energy policy- solid steps to address climate change? Anything? No- too politically risky. Well we will see just how politically risky inaction is come November.
 

Brief Comment on Proposed Muslim Community Center Near Ground Zero

There appears to be little disagreement that the land owners of the proposed Muslim community center have the right to build there. The question is whether they should voluntarily refrain from doing so out of respect for those who died during the 911 tragedy.

I strongly believe that the building of the community center is a demonstration of the desire for peace and a renunciation of the use of violence. As such, I strongly encourage the building of this center. I also believe it is the responsibility of political and community leaders to be unequivocal in the defense of constitutional and universal human rights for all peoples.

Finally, for those that have passed over- I believe that they understand that we are all one and that rather than perpetuating the very fears that caused their death, we, the living, have a responsibility to stand for compassion and peace. That is true courage.


Help Bradley Manning, 7/28/2010

Comment: Pfc. Bradley Manning is suspected of leaking confidential information of the type recently released by WikiLeaks concerning the Afghanistan War. This release of 71,000 documents reveals possible war crimes and irresponsible behavior by military and government officials. Predictably the Pentagon, instead of investigating its own misconduct, is pursuing a criminal investigation of the leaks. Bradley Manning has displayed great courage and deserves the support of Americans that value governmental transparency and accountability.

Comment, 8/4/2010:
Once again, the Washington military and political establishment attempts to destroy the whistleblower and not face the issues they, the establishment, have wrought. Idiot surrogates such as Marc Thiessen, former Bush speech writer, call for the Wikileaks "criminal syndicate" to be pursued by civilian and military resources- including where such pursuit would violate international law. Criminal syndicate? A better case can be made that the criminal syndicate is the Obama administration, US Congress and military/industrial complex. Where exactly is that 9 billion dollars of development aid to Iraq? Just whose pockets did this line? Cutting food stamps and giving X billion dollars to the Taliban (who is fighting against us)?

Nothing new in the Wikileaks disclosures? US assassination squads OK? 20,000 previously unaccounted for civilian deaths OK? Hundreds of thousands of private military contractors- many of whom are engaged in covert activities and have access to sensitive intelligence. Intelligence they could conceivably sell to the highest bidder. I could go on and on. Perhaps what we need is an international war crimes investigation with the United States being the target of investigation.

The US Congress (particularly Republicans) showed its true colors by recently voting down a measure that would force corporations to disclose to whom they contribute vast sums to. Oh yes, the unlimited spending that corporations can now make to pursue their narrow, selfish, entirely profit driven interests. Brought to you by the Supreme Court. Criminal syndicate indeed. Just how will democracy- or some relic of it succeed if billions of dollars will flow from corporations to fund politicians- who are already subservient to their interests? Fascism by definition.

Citizens have a right to be angry- but turning to the Republicans in November is quite literally going out of the frying pan into the furnace. The Democrats? We need to do better.


A New Dream

Excerpt from a letter to a friend, 7/4/2010: In my view there are many cognitive approaches to the subject of climate change. Systems thinking is important. A purely scientific approach that is not cohesive will tend to confuse the general public. An intuitive- eco-spiritual approach- while frowned upon by some scientists, is in fact the key to understanding what is happening on a holistic level. Albert Einstein was a great theoretical physicist- but he did not shy away from trying to understand the world holistically- with a compassion that extended to all life. It is not coincidence that Oppenheimer would have quoted the Bhagavad Gita when witnessing the first nuclear explosion-“ I have become Death- the destroyer of worlds.”  He knew what he wrought.

The notion that we are separate from our environment is a relatively recent phenomena- perhaps starting with the Renaissance and the likes of Descartes and others. The industrial revolution with emphasis on homogeneity and regimentation accelerated this thinking- forming the intellectual underpinnings of a world that has become  a uniquely efficient machine world that is inherently unequal and uniquely exploitative. While you and I experience relative prosperity- most of the world does not.

The public needs- the science- but also an open discussion and forum to begin to envision a sustainable world- one not sustained by increasing military expenditures and control- but sustained by empowering people to dream a world that is just, beautiful and secure. Climate change is a very dangerous symptom of what is wrong with the world we have constructed- but it must be dealt with in the broader context of societal change.

The world we have dreamed- is just that a dream- it can be undreamed and a new better world put in its place….

To the same friend...in a later exchange:

There are many ways of knowing. Sadly- in this society- in global society in general- the only modality left (or certainly the most predominant)- is the scientific method. Of course, in the ways we treat each other- science often goes out the door- and we are left with habitual patterns of violence- fears and deep insecurities.

The scientific way of knowing never comes close to approaching the truth- the truth of being- the essence of who we are- the essence of what we call reality. It promotes little understanding of self and very little as to the true nature of the universe.

Unless we fundamentally address who we are- individually and in community- then the doomsayers are right- we will need to learn from crisis after crisis- and unless I understand the science incorrectly- there isn't much time to head of disaster after disaster- each disaster worse than the last. Believe it or not- some in power place their faith in geo- engineering. I am sure you know how Lovelock feels about this. Others see winners and losers and think up war game scenarios where the stakes are whether a population can feed itself-have enough water to survive... 

Yes- our reliance on oil and gas will diminish- it has to- there isn't enough in the ground. But at what point will we stop? How fundamentally must our world change for us to stop? How many degrees centigrade- 2, 4, 15, 20?

Bill McKibben raises awareness and does good- in a way not dissimilar from Al Gore and Jim Hansen. However, the strategy is clearly failing when people know the truth (as most do- despite the so-called Climategate), and none act with the needed sense of urgency? Try to answer this question without addressing my fundamental point. And don't blame it on governments- the capitalist system, etc- they are but manifestations of the same problem.


Maude Barlow: "The World Has Divided into Rich and Poor as at No Time in History"

Comments: Listen to her...We need a new dream...
 

Who Cooked The Planet, Paul Krugman, 7/25/2010


Obama Has Kept the Machine Set on Kill”–Journalist and Activist Allan Nairn Reviews Obama’s First Year in Office, 1/6/2010

Comment: There is nothing that Narin says here that is false. His interview is not so much a critique of Obama, but the military-industrial-governmental complex that Obama and others support and extend. Violence must be opposed and condemned- whatever the source. Right now Narin is in danger of being arrested by the Indonesian government for exposing its military's assassination of civilians. See also: Journalist Allan Nairn Facing Possible Arrest in Indonesia for Exposing US-Backed Forces Assassinated Civilians, Democracy Now!; See also: Obama supports battlefield executions- illegal- immoral- reprehensible-Change you can believe in... 5/12/2010
 

The American Fascists

The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism. They cultivate hate and distrust of both Britain and Russia. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.- from Henry A. Wallace, The Danger of American Fascism

Comment: Today, over 60 years later, former Vice-President Wallace's remarks ring true for most of the Republican party, Tea Party activists and many in the Democratic party- who espouse corporatism over the interests of the ordinary citizen. For these men, for example, global warming spells profits- even as most life suffers...


Scientist Working With Government Says BP Restricting Access to Study Gushing Oil Well, 7/6/2010

Comment: You have got to be kidding...not allowing press and science access to oil spill sites. Unconscionable.


Feingold: 'Standing Up to the Unholy Alliance Between Washington and Wall Street', 7/1/2010

Comment: I believe that Russ Feingold has taken a principled stand on this and other issues. I think it is important to praise a politician who has taken a firm and obviously correct stand in a nation where the truth is considered all to inconvenient.

The real question is- why aren't there more people like Russ Feingold in government? Why has common sense and principle been replaced by fear, corruption and subservience to corporate interests? What does this say about our culture? Our government?
 


A dolphin-killed by the oil spill-
We are all responsible for this.

Obama's 6/15/2010 Oval Office Speech

There is nothing that Obama said in his speech that is untrue. His intent to hold BP fully accountable and deal with the the Gulf's systemic environmental issues, at least on the surface, appears laudable.

However, the lack of specifics was based purely on political considerations. This notion of trying to build coalitions at all costs versus transformative leadership still holds. We are to wait on a Commission, hope that BP lives up to its corporate responsibilities, encourage a cornucopia of ideas from politicians and place our faith in Congress. Well- I have no faith in these entities. What is needed is bold leadership backed by the willingness to take political risks. Obama, at least tonight, displayed none of this. It is almost as if the words "climate change," and "biodiversity" are persona non grata. When is he going to have the courage to mention climate change, peak oil, water degradation, the destruction of the oceans, the melting of glaciers, food security? When? Perhaps when in the near future the spill disaster in the Gulf is seen as an early and mild harbinger of what is to come?

Energy Legislation, 6/30/2010

The President is about to come forth with a compromise energy bill, that like so many of his efforts- is best termed compromised- than a compromise. Your President (My President) lacks any sense of the fierce urgency of now as he tackles the global warming crisis. Further, the tepid response the Administration is seeking- will only delay the dramatic actions needed to stay disaster.

The American people are well ahead of Washington and the special interest groups. We need a carbon tax- not cap and trade. We need significant reduction in global warming emissions- over an 85% reduction by 2050- with aggressive measure to meet intermediate targets sooner. We need to stop the use of coal fired plants.  We do not need more nuclear plants. We need to price carbon fairly- to reflect its contribution to environmental damage. We need to more strongly promote renewable energy technology- even under the present state of advancement this technology can meet our energy needs.

The planet is rapidly losing its biodiversity. The climate is and will become increasingly unstable. Untold generations will suffer because an American President and US Senate lacks the vision and boldness to do what is right- and instead is intimidated by naysayers and pundits. Also: Where's the Outrage? EPA Betrays Coalfields (Again) With New Mountaintop Removal Permit, 6/30/2010
 

Wikileaks Manhunt

"I think he would not be safe even physically, entirely, wherever he is ... We have a president who has announced that he feels he has the right to use special operations operatives against anyone abroad that he thinks is associated with terrorism,." – Daniel Ellsberg on Dylan Ratigan Show, 5/12/2010

Daniel Ellsberg is referring to the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange. Among other things he is known for the release of the Baghdad air strike video that showed the killing of 12, including Reuters news staff, Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen. In addition innocent children were also injured.
 

Michael Hastings-Rolling Stone and the Mass Media Puppet Press, 6/29/2010

I applaud Michael Hastings article in Rolling Stone, "The Runaway General." The article is hard hitting- ironically not so much against General McChrystal or his staff- but the dismal state of our military and political effort in the region- for which they bear much of the responsibility. In essence, Hasting's exposes the truth in an unvarnished way that is rare for the mainstream American media. The best parts of the article are not the McCrystal staff one liners about Biden, Eikenberry, Obama, the French minister or Hollbrooke- but rather the facts he gives about Karzai, our allies and the situation on the ground. Should General McChrystal have been fired? I want to say-'Yes'-  however, not for his staff, eccentricity or off color remarks- but rather for his shamelessly self-promoted flawed policies. Policies that have been embraced by President Obama and Secretary Clinton. Should they be fired? Just were does the buck stop?


Naomi Klein: The Real Crime Scene Was Inside the G20 Summit, 6/28/2010

Comment: A convention of jokers- who actually believe that they can stem a world wide recession/depression with deep spending cuts. Who lack the will and integrity to create a financial tax/transaction fee on banks. Who require 1.2 billion dollars of enhanced security, fences, tear gas and riot police to protect themselves from the people in Toronto's streets. Banks- Yes!- the average citizen- No! The environment- No! The legitimacy of the G20- Not! Democratic- Not!


The Reprehensibles-Strike: Supreme Court Guts Gun Control Laws, 6/28/2010

Comment: Yes it is true- the second amendment says, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

However, it was probably assumed by many of the founding fathers that the spirit of this amendment was not intended to encourage violence or deny the reasonable control of handguns by local and federal authorities to protect the public safety. To construe the amendment in its literal meaning- is to do two things- consign law abiding citizens to their death and to once again force the reconvening of a new constitutional convention to amend the constitution (something highly unlikely). While it is true this was a 5-4 ruling, and the minority's views are significant- the Supreme Court once again earns its reputation as the Court of the Reprehensible. Beyond insular, the Court's recent rulings threaten the bedrock of the republic- a form of government they are supposed to protect.

Ironically, while citizen's appear to have a right to bear arms with only minimal restrictions- the government appears to have an almost unlimited right to deny due process to its own citizens and to use whatever violence necessary to quell any form of civil disobedience. Both views encourage violence and destroy freedom.


Israeli gunships head to sea to block flotilla, 5/28/2010

Comment: The cost of stopping the flotilla with violence may be the lives of activists who are bringing food and medicine to Gaza- but the cost to Israel will be future US economic and military aid, new trade embargos and the loss of whatever shred of international legitimacy the country has left. http://witnessgaza.com/

Comment, 5/31/2010: Israel attacked ships delivering humanitarian aid on the open seas. At least 10 were killed and many more wounded. The attack is a major breach of international law. It is a great tragedy for those who have lost their lives and for those who still suffer under Israeli occupation.

Obviously the facts will be disputed, but certain key areas need to be addressed: What should be the repercussions to Israel of what is a serious violation of international law? Who approved the boarding of the ships and the acts of violence that followed? Given the bellicose statements from the Israeli government leading up to the violence, it is likely it was approved at the highest levels of their government. What were the specific chain of events that led to injuries and deaths on both sides? What role, if any, did Turkey or other nations play in the convoy and any armed conflicted that in sued? It seems unlikely that activists would have risked armed resistance against a vastly superior military or that Turkey, an ally of Israel, would support arming the activists. Therefore it seems improbable that the activists were armed and violently resisted arrest and/or the seizure of their ships. However,
If they did resist violently, it seems clear that the Israeli response was disproportionate and brutal.

Comment: In response to what has happened, anti-semitic posts are cropping up throughout the Internet. This is my response to one such post:

"Calling the extermination of 6 million Jews- simply treating Jews "badly"- is the grossest understatement in human history. Do you really think that this history just fades out of consciousness? That it is forgotten and simply forgiven. It is not. It takes time- understanding, great compassion and the building of trust. Also, I do not underestimate the suffering of the Palestinians- the taking of their homes, the deplorable living conditions, the lack of hope and freedom- the deaths of woman and children- this also is not easily forgotten.

However, only a coward suggests that the solution to this is more violence. Accountability- yes. A firm moral stance from the world- yes (if this is even possible).

There is an excuse for Israel's behavior- but there is no moral justification. Its leaders lack sufficient courage and wisdom to see this and the consequences will be tragic for all involved in the conflict. To genuinely seek peace is the most courageous of acts- few political leaders- few men are capable of it.

Many on the flotilla had this courage and they gave their lives for what they believed. Honoring them and working towards what they believed in is our best chance for the peace and justice they sought. "

Additional Comment regarding Israel's actions:

Israel had a choice with respect to the Gaza flotilla. They could have sought to negotiate, bring a peaceful solution and yes- risk more flotillas- and increased pressure from peace movements to end the siege. Instead they chose a violent path- to attempt to stymie the peace movement and discourage others from challenging and bringing attention to the occupation. They chose the path of violence- they fail to recognize that violence begets violence and that their polices are inimical to their own interests.

Ahdaf Soueif wrote:

"...My anger and my sadness are so great that I have to deliberately draw a deep breath from time to time to ease the bands I feel around my chest. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that millions of people in the world are feeling the same. People everywhere see and understand what is happening. Many of us feel that Palestine is nearing its South Africa moment. This latest outrage must push it closer. And it will."

Comment: I would like to add, that my anger and sadness is further deepened as I realize that my own government is complicit and therefore incapable of strongly condemning these acts and using them as a springboard to peace and justice. Israel and the rest of the region never had a worse friend- Lowell Greenberg

Comment, 6/2/2010:

It seems that this is how it works...

The world condemns Israel- but there are no international consequences other than words or rebuke. The United States is complicit and sides with Israel and encourages her behavior. No one wants to really deal with a regional nuclear power that has run amok and can attack Iran at anytime- further destabilizing the region and leading to conflagration.

Israel spins the crisis to its advantage and provides cover for those nations and leaders who are unwilling to face the difficult choices they should make.

Principle gives way to expediency and the lost lives almost seem to be in vain. Much of the opposition in Israel is how stupid was their government's approach- not its immorality.

It is easy for Obama and others to pursue this course since there appear to be no immediate POLITICAL consequences to them. Operative term- immediate.

Inaction is justified by supposedly focusing on the end goal- a two state solution- not realizing or caring to realize that this solution is made impossible by the very actions that are condoned.

As always the ultimate victims are the poor and the weak- who when they turn to violence become its chief victims.

Oil rules the day- with Israel our principal ally in a world that will increasingly become starved for its life blood (oil). In a way Israel is a "model" for the United States on how to deal with conflict. When Israel claims the United States is no better than they are- they are correct.

All of this leads to war. The men and women who died in the Flotilla sacrificed themselves out of principle and because at some level they know that they are not merely fighting for the Palestinians and Gaza- but their own freedoms.

What is Needed:

Execution is as important as intent and strategy. To avoid martyrdom as much thought as possible must be given to likely scenarios. And if martyrdom is unavoidable- then its effects should be maximized. To solve issues requires attacking them at the root and the periphery- simultaneously. In addition, when opposing a stronger force, the attacks must be planned to maximize return- minimize collateral damage and planned with the whole campaign in mind. Think guerrilla warfare- but using PEACEFUL, not militaristic practices. I am NOT advocating violence.

What is needed is a non-violent coordinated pincer movement (sorry to use a warlike analogy- but it may be helpful). The attack occurs on the following fronts:

(1) Public opinion. This can be influenced by mass protests, writing, opinion leaders, exposing hypocrisy, etc.
(2) Economic boycott. This may be very difficult with Israel- but it must be focused and clear.
(3) Grass roots efforts with legislators across the world.
(4) Peaceful Confrontation- like the Flotilla- here the cost may be great, but is it is needed to focus attention. However it must be managed more skillfully so there is no doubt who is at fault. This needs to include international observers and the world's greatest peace activists. Let Jimmy Carter be on the next flotilla (sorry Mr. Carter).
(5) Campus/Youth group mobilization. Young people understand more easily what is occurring. They have not fully bought into the system and their thinking is often not clouded with ossified views of security, phony justice, etc.

The campaign must be focused on specific objectives that are achievable and in the best interests of all parties. One key objective is the establishment of dialogue- a process for resolving differences.

Cross mobilization along different progressive interest groups- Environmental, human rights, political, immigration rights, LGBT, etc. is important. If one cannot by now see that most of these abuses stem from the same mindset and thinking and that a threat to one is a threat to all- then it is hopeless for civil society.
These progressive interest groups must awaken more to the fact that they are engaged in a battle. This is a fight, not a series of meetings with legislators and publicity campaigns. They must be willing to sacrifice a part of their donor base to work more aggressively for change in areas that cut across their mission statements.

Israel is now grid locked because of institutional paralysis and fear into an aggressive military policy towards those who it feels are potential threats and who they can safely attempt to dominate. They are in sense addicted to violence.

One of their chief fears is that if the United States population realizes this and US leaders start spouting forth how dangerous their policies are- the fear is that it will weaken what is their only base of support. Anything that erodes this co-dependent relationship between Israel and the United States is helpful. By definition a co-dependent relationship is one not beneficial to either party.

Finally, there is a benefit to thinking about compassion- for Israel. None of its aggressive policies are beneficial to it. None will bring peace and security in the longer term. All of their policies perpetuate violence. If Israel must be subject to the non-violent "attack" I just laid out- it should be done with as much compassion as possible. The goal should not be to bring Israel to its knees- but to its senses. This is a nuclear power in the most dangerous part of the world. One must not forget this. Israel has a right to exist and live peacefully with its neighbors. While the Goldstone Report outlined Israeli abuses of power- Hamas was also criticized for human rights abuses. There are many gray areas here- but strangulating a people is not one of them.

See also: ANALYSIS / Israel needs national inquiry into deadly Gaza flotilla clashes- Haaretz; The Electronic Intifada


Obama's Press Conference, 5/27/2010: Disingenuous

The President's press conference largely focused on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He was prepared, detailed and eloquent. Yet with all of his verbiage- it is clear- he is lacking in integrity.

He is- disingenuous. He knows that this type of high depth oil drilling is inherently risky. He knows, that no blue ribbon panel can conceal the fact that drilling this way is a last gasp- desperation effort to maintain an addiction to fossil fuels and an unsustainable world economy.

He claimed surprise at the disaster. Yet his administration, working with Congress, is now crafting energy legislation that will do little or nothing to prevent a global warming climate catastrophe. He doesn't need a blue ribbon panel to understand the consequences of this inaction. The science is clear- yet as in everything else for this President- the politics isn't. As long as the politics is unclear- his policies will be equivocating- never really solving or preventing a crisis- at best giving the appearance of accomplishment- without the substance.

A profile in cowardice couched in pretty worlds and an admittedly sound grasp of issues. His is not a lack of knowledge or awareness- his is a lack of vision and courage- and because of this- the lessons will be felt more harshly. He knows- but he doesn't KNOW.


A Prediction...A New Warning

To see the future is not really to see the future- but rather to see the present in the future- the future is all around us..

I have written a great deal about climate change. Yet I have tried to stay within the bounds of science- and there the implications are frightening enough. Yet I now feel compelled to go beyond the science and make predictions- based upon my intuitive sense, understanding of science and something that almost whispers in my ear....

The causes of environmental devastation go back even before the industrial revolution. They are rooted in man's inhumanity to man- to the endless trail of tears and war. To the abuse of the innocent- to irresponsibility to each other and the Earth that bore us- this endless chain of karma that institutionalizes and dulls our minds and inures us to the consequences of our cruelty. To harm the earth is to harm ourselves- to harm ourselves is to harm the earth. We are children of creation- and that we have the ability to destroy much of it is less because of an exalted position- but more because of a responsibility born of pain.

In the next decade the Earth will teach us that we can no longer abdicate responsibility- no longer rape her- no longer degrade ourselves- our children. She will- for want of better words- sacrifice herself. It will appear as punishment but it is not. The industrial system will collapse under the weight of its own inertia and stupidity. Rich and poor- strong and weak will be humbled and a terrible fear will arise in our hearts as the seeds of destruction sprout. The climate will become erratic- not more erratic- but erratic. We will see things that have never been recorded in human history. We will be helpless to change these things- there causes stretches back too far. They will teach us and give us the opportunity to save future generations. The next seven generations will bear the consequences of our actions- but the next seven after that? This is still an open question.

These are predictions- phrased as the prophets of old- they are warnings. In truth nothing I have predicted is not happening now- but now there are still some that can turn away- ignore- jade their minds for awhile. In the coming years this will no longer be the case.

Why 10 years? Why not 50? 100? The climate models do not preclude what I have written- nor do they confirm it. What I have just written- unlike everything else I have written- is not anchored in science. I repeat it is not anchored in science. It is however anchored in a deep understanding of the pain we have inflicted upon life- upon ourselves. Sadly- my track record for predictions is very good...

It is not a message of hopelessness- in fact we learn from pain. Our jaded, self satisfied- narrow views of reality are enlarged by our suffering. But still greater risks are coming. There is no escape- no next island- no new frontier- no new lands to conquer. We are stuck here with the accumulated weight of centuries of hate, anger and irresponsible behavior. Our only remaining gift is the opportunity and potential to change- to create a new world- for now we have no choice. Evolve or perish. Evolve to what?


Noam Chomsky Warns of Risk of Fascism in America, 4/12/2010

"He said “the colossal toll of the institutional crimes of state capitalism” is what is fueling “the indignation and rage of those cast aside.”

“People want some answers,” Chomsky said. “They are hearing answers from only one place: Fox, talk radio, and Sarah Palin.”

Chomsky invoked Germany during the Weimar Republic, and drew a parallel between it and the United States. “The Weimar Republic was the peak of Western civilization and was regarded as a model of democracy,” he said.

And he stressed how quickly things deteriorated there.

“In 1928 the Nazis had less than 2 percent of the vote,” he said. “Two years later, millions supported them. The public got tired of the incessant wrangling, and the service to the powerful, and the failure of those in power to deal with their grievances.”

He said the German people were susceptible to appeals about “the greatness of the nation, and defending it against threats, and carrying out the will of eternal providence.”

When farmers, the petit bourgeoisie, and Christian organizations joined forces with the Nazis, “the center very quickly collapsed,” Chomsky said.

No analogy is perfect, he said, but the echoes of fascism are “reverberating” today, he said."

Comment: Um- let me see.

Unlimited corporate funding of elections (Yes!);

Political discourse led by unscrupulous, self serving manipulative "leaders" such as Sarah Palin, Mitch Mcconnell, Michal Steele and Glenn Beck- feeding off of the anger of a scared populace (Yes!) 

A well informed, compassionate, difficult to manipulate electorate provided information by a press largely independent of corporate control (Not!)

Financial leaders of major banks and investment firms who serve the public interest, are careful with their shareholder's and depositor's money and support the fair distribution of wealth. (Not!)

A peace loving nation that only goes to war out of necessity (Not!)

A perpetual, never ending "war on terrorism" (Yes!)

A growing respect for individual freedom and a deep respect for domestic and international law (Not!)

A legislative branch hardly touched by the influence of major corporate interests (Not!)

I can go on and on.

To say that democracy in America is not moving towards fascism is to be...unconscious. Noam Chomsky merely states the obvious- what already is- and could get a lot worse.

Quite frankly, I don't know how to stop it. How can I convince the people in Arizona who support their racist anti-immigration laws. How can I say- imagine if you were Hispanic. How can I say- when the rights of a minority are denied- the rights of all are sacrificed. How can I argue for compassion and fairness when the supporters of these laws seek to dehumanize. To understand these things requires judgment and compassion. I can't teach this- I can't convince people of this- at least with words. There is no alternative but to fight these injustices, expose them for what they are- and go on. Go ahead- try to repeal the Civil Rights laws- Go ahead- continue to destroy the environment- you want a fight- you will have one.

My personal response is this: My armor is the truth- yours is made of steel. It is clear who has the advantage. You think you live in the real world- and somehow I am a "pie in the sky" idealist- well I will tell you- you live in a world that is increasingly of your own making- and it is becoming a nightmare. While it is easy to accuse your neighbor- it seems far harder for you to see what you are - what you have become. You have exchanged your humanity for a nice home, a car and the illusion of security. Trust me- all illusions are shattered and your ruthless ways will be your undoing. This is not an issue of repentance or confession. The issue revolves around the very definition of what it means to be human. Every life that is needlessly lost is a loss of humanity. Every right that is taken- takes away all men's rights.  What you are doing to this planet is beyond words- the only thing worse is what you do to yourselves and the two are inextricably linked- one and the same.  A plea for the Earth is really a plea for humanity.


On Desmond Tutu's Plea for the Banning of Nuclear Weapons, 5/23/2010

Desmond Tutu is a greater man than I. But in a way he is fundamentally wrong. Wrong to ban nuclear weapons- of course not...But the real is question- why are there nuclear weapons- why does that world have enough stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction to destroy life many times over? In this age, we have no choice but to honestly and directly face this question. No longer can we say, "it is human nature." In fact, if this is the case, then it is clear that human nature must change. It will not change by taking away one weapon- exchanging it for another. It will change when we recognize our common humanity and work together to create a genuinely just world. We really have no other choice if we are to retain the very best of what it means to be human- the creativity, the capacity for compassion and the love of freedom. Otherwise we will live, as we do now, in a world that is moving to a nightmare state. A militaristic global nightmare where security is sought at all expense- where there is no freedom and no security. Where self destruction is the inevitable outcome.

We have to realize that the nightmare is us- and seek to change things at the root. If we can imagine a different world than the one I just described- a just world- then it is possible- and there is hope.


Arizona: "Leading the way on Facism & Racism,"- the new state motto, 4/29/2010; Also: Boycotting Arizona’s Racism

Obama's Answer to the Environmental Crisis: Gulf Coast Oil Spill: 'Exxon Valdez Is Going to Pale in Comparison to This', 4/29/2010; Also: Scientists accuse Obama over oil spill, 5/20/2010

Comment: Obama's unprincipled climate change political triangulation "strategy" faces reality. Also, I wonder why BP thought they could get away with felony crimes?

World's dumbest politician: Senator Vitter of Louisiana's response to the Gulf disaster, 4/30/2010


Letter to Bill McKibben- Leader of 350.org

"I want to comment on your approach to the issue of climate change. Perhaps- in a trivial way, I should point out that a rearrangement of the letters in the word Earth- can spell “heart.” And this is the thrust of my critique of your overall approach. It is ironic that by adding the “a” in the title of your new book, you have removed this juxtaposition of letters.

Climate change, while devastating in effects on all life is but one part of a larger problem. The problem is not just so obviously environmental- or even one related to the capitalist system and unbridled consumption per se. These are symptoms of a much deeper problem.

The problem, at its crux is that most in the developed and increasingly in the less developed countries have lost the ability to think and approach life holistically. Increasingly people have lost contact with nature- spirit- call it would you will. We have lost the emotional, spiritual and intellectual capacity to see how our actions are interrelated. As a result we have a human rights issue, a political issue, a social issue, an environmental issue- when in fact the real issue is that we can’t at an emotive and deep spiritual level understand and feel what it is like- what it means to see precious life die- animals born mutated from chemicals that poison ourselves- to understand at a deep, core level that as we poison the earth we are poisoning ourselves.

This inability is perpetuated in a mass delusion that has literally created a new beast. A beast whose only end is to consume- an unquenchable fire that ultimately must destroy itself. In fact, the greatest threat posed by our environmental problems may be less the potential for a Venus effect and more the advent of wars brought about by resource scarcity and starvation.

My key point- is that by only focusing on climate change- we perpetuate the very thinking that has resulted in the dilemma we face. We also abdicate responsibility- with this group or some part of the government responsible for this- and another group responsible for that- while the Earth and all life suffer the cumulative effect of all our actions.

The environmental movement has never adjusted to this realization- in some cases environmental groups have become co-opted by business. In other cases radicalized by the sense of hopelessness raised by your first audience question. Rarely do they unite in substantive ways with other environmental and human rights groups.

People need to be reminded of this interrelatedness. They also need to be offered solutions that do not exacerbate what ultimately drives their consumption and indifference- namely fear. It will not be possible to have fundamental environmental change- enough change to stem the tide- unless there is fundamental societal change. People will not support radically changing their life style- unless they feel confident that the live in a society that can take of care of they and their children’s basic needs. Try to convince a working family to reduce its income and consumption- when they are focused on the health and education of their children, the fear of losing their job, the loss of health care- the loss of dignity in old age. Forget it- they will cling to these fears until they have no choice- until the environmental devastation is so great- that the fear of it dwarfs their other fears.

The only way to address climate change successfully is to unite in our perception of the real problems and address them holistically- on a global scale. It is easier for the poor to see the dilemma and the coming tragedy- because they live it each day. Because they are not as “invested” in the system. Because, as in the case of indigenous people, they have in some cases not completely lost their connection to spirit- to the earth."


Runaway Climate Change

"...After the ice is gone, would Earth proceed to the Venus syndrome, a runaway greenhouse effect that would destroy all life on the planet, perhaps permanently? While that is difficult to say based on present information, I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty."-Jim Hansen, 2/4/2010


Environmentalist, 350.org Founder Bill McKibben on “Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet"-4/15/2010


Alice Walker on “Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel," 4/13/2010

Comment: Alice Walker is a magnificent elder- human being.


US special forces 'tried to cover-up' botched Khataba raid in Afghanistan

"US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened, Afghan investigators have told The Times."-4/5/2010

Wikileaks Reveals Video Showing US Air Crew Shooting Down Iraqi Civilians, Footage of July 2007 attack made public as Pentagon identifies website as threat to national security;

Comment: This video is not easy to watch. I will let it speak for itself. See also: Massacre Caught on Tape: US Military Confirms Authenticity of Their Own Chilling Video Showing Killing of Journalists; WikiLeaks


US Denies Climate Aid to Countries Opposing Copenhagen Accord:  Bolivia and Ecuador will be denied aid after both opposed the accord, 4/9/2010

Bolivia, Ecuador and others refused to join the climate deal because they knew it was a sham and is likely to make matters even worse than Kyoto by not setting firm mandates that actually can prevent regional/global catastrophe. Over 70% of global warming gases are emitted by the developed world- we have a climate debt to the developing world to help them both mitigate the effects of climate change and to assist them in leapfrogging to renewable energy technologies. Further we have a legal and moral obligation to prevent further global warming by firm emissions controls in the developed world- especially the United States.

It is not surprising that the Obama Administration would employ this bullying strategy to effectively help legitimize our irresponsible and dangerous climate policy. I find this policy to be despicable- and I do not say this lightly. Obama, Clinton and the rest deliberately refuse to acknowledge and take responsibility for climate debt.

As I have said over and over again- while the short term effects of climate change will/is disproportionately burdening the poorer nations, in the mid to long term- next 25-30 years and beyond the developed nations will see their economies and standard of living crumble. Which given their irresponsible behavior may be just desert- except that the tragedy will be so great- almost nothing will seem to make it just.


Sell Massey Energy Company Stocks

Complicit: The article below concerning Massey was written in late 2009- before the tragedy at the Upper Big Branch non-union coal mine- the worst underground disaster in the U.S. in more than a quarter of a century. See also: No response heard from mine: Crews drill vent to remove gas after W.Va. blast, MSNBC, 4/7/2010

"Massey Energy company is responsible for mass destruction of mountains for short term gain. Its President, Don Blakenship vehemently denies the reality of climate change and his coal plants have been repeatedly fined for a pattern of numerous violations. The blasting at Coal River Mountain directly puts nearby residents at serious risk- not only from breaks in the coal slurry, but contamination of land and water. Further, the destruction is unnecessary as the site could instead become a sustainable producer of clean wind energy.

With a failed federal administration and corrupt local regulatory agencies, the best way to stop Massey is for individual and institutional investors to sell their stock in the company and instead invest in companies on the forefront of clean, renewable energy. In addition there will be another protest on 12/7/2009 at Coal River Mountain. I would encourage major environmental groups to participate and stand in unity with the protestors. http://savecoalrivermountain.org/. A list of other companies and plants can be found here.

As Chris Hedges wrote in his article, Refuse Allegiance to Coal:

The projected rise of sea levels, as much as six feet this century and 23 feet if the Greenland ice sheet disappears, will submerge coastal nations such as Bangladesh, a country of 160 million people, as well as places such as the Mekong Delta, the Maldives and the Marshall Islands. The disappearance of glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau-glaciers that feed the Indus, Ganges, Yangtze and Yellow rivers-will create catastrophic water shortages and devastate the rice and wheat harvests in China and India, where about four of every 10 people live. World food prices will rise dramatically. If we can't save countries such as the Maldives and Bangladesh we will also be unable to save Venice, Hawaii, the Netherlands, New Zealand, London, Hong Kong and Manhattan. But don't expect much from Barack Obama and other leaders in the industrialized world. Their loyalty is not to the planet, or to us, but to the oil and gas industry, the coal industry and the huge corporate polluters who own them.""


The "Forgotten Issue"- Criminal Neglect

"Today we are faced with the need to achieve rapid reductions in global fossil fuel emissions and to nearly phase out fossil fuel emissions by the middle of the century. Most governments are saying that they recognize these imperatives. And they say that they will meet these objectives with a Kyoto- like approach. Ladies and gentlemen, your governments are lying through their teeth. You may wish to use softer language, but the truth is that they know that their planned approach will not come anywhere near achieving the intended global objectives. Moreover, they are now taking actions that, if we do not stop them, will lock in guaranteed failure to achieve the targets that they have nominally accepted."- Dr. Jim Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.


Truth to Power- Martin Luther King

Read Martin King's speech, A Time to Break Silence, delivered on April 4, 1967- exactly one year before his assassination. Read it. In it you find unvarnished truth- great spiritual awareness- a profound love- a deep understanding of the truth- and the bold courage to speak it. While the conflict he addresses is Vietnam- just substitute Afghanistan or Iraq. Every conclusion- every insight- true, wise and powerful.

Now listen to today's political leaders. Look at the soul of this nation- look at what it has truly come to represent. Look at its foreign policy- its treatment of its own citizens. Then ask yourself- what needs to take place- the choice each one of us must make.

As for extremism- I ally myself with the spirit of Martin Luther King- if this makes me an extremist, then what does this say about the state of the nation?


Dr King's Economic Dream Deferred

"...This is a perilous moment. The individualist, greed-driven free-market ideology that both our major parties have pursued is at odds with what most Americans really care about. Popular support for either party has struck bottom, as more and more agree that growing inequality is bad for the country, that corporations have too much power, that money in politics has corrupted our system, and that working families and poor communities need and deserve help because the free market has failed to generate shared prosperity -- its famous unseen hand has become a closed fist.

It is hard to overstate the consequences of choosing more of the same -- the very policies that have sundered our social contract. But hear the judgment of Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow, echoing Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life and martyrdom. "The vast inequalities of income weaken a society's sense of mutual concern," Arrow said. "...The sense that we are all members of the social order is vital to the meaning of civilization." "- from "Dr King's Economic Dream Deferred by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, 4/3/2010


Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance & Climate Change

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance- the five stages of grief, discussed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying.

Human society- actually all life on this planet- is going through these different stages of grief as life on earth goes through a process of death and destruction. Many in the developed world who believe they are shielded from the effects of climate change are in denial. In the developing countries- those who experience it first hand- day by day- are angry and in effect bargaining for more time- a fairer distribution of wealth-historical debt- help in dealing with the devastating consequences of climate change.

Then, there are some. like me- who are somewhat depressed and grieve the great loss that is taking place now and will accelerate rapidly, soon. Yet, we are beginning to accept that some of the consequences are inevitable.

The question is simply whether governments, individuals, institutions can move rapidly enough- past denial- past anger- into a state that brings action- perhaps enough to stave off the very worst consequences of climate change.

James Hansen's studies at one point focused on the Venusian atmosphere and development of climate models. He knows what the worst consequences are. There is no life on Venus- none.

So, in summary, mankind is now experiencing and will much more so in the future experience the devastating effects of climate change- not just on the environment- but on institutions- including the onslaught of wars, hunger and disease. The only way to move through the grieving process is to accept it and take responsibility in one’s own life for both the causes and the consequences. The question is not whether, but when. And at the risk of being trite- the sooner the better.


The video that will put Geithner behind bars; Also: How Lehman, With The Fed's Complicity, Created Another Illegal Precedent In Abusing The Primary Dealer Credit Facility


 “Looting Main Street”–Matt Taibbi on How the Nation’s Biggest Banks Are Ripping Off American Cities with Predatory Deals"- 4/12/2010


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's Homestate Paper Thrashes Him For 'Unabashedly Courting Wall Street Bankers For Political Money' 4/15/2010

"McConnell's statements are perfectly calibrated to inflame the public. He insists the bill would "allow endless taxpayer-funded bailouts for big Wall Street banks."
Their resemblance to the truth is another matter.

McConnell, it should be remembered, voted for the bailout of the big investment banks in the fall of 2008, when it was the only alternative to global economic meltdown.

We have read that the Republicans have a plan for financial reform, but McConnell isn't talking up any solutions, just trashing the other side's ideas with no respect for the truth.
While the intricacies of financial regulation are complicated, McConnell's calculus is pretty obvious."

 

Fox News Smear Reporting Destroys Acorn- Congress Complicit, 4/7/2010

Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh and the rest are shown to be liars on tape- right wing apparatchiks that are servants of the corrupt Republican and Tea Parties. If there was an anti-Pulitzer prize- Fox is on track to win what for them would be a coveted prize. See also: Jerry Brown: ACORN Didn't Break Any Criminal Laws, 4/2/2010


Congressman Boehner: Resign Now!

Boehner called Ohio Congressman Steve Driehas a dead man for voting for health care. A day or two later the Congressman and his family's  life was threatened. Boehner needs to be censured and forced to resign. His vituperative, cowardly and intimidating behavior encourages violence and should not be tolerated.

Congressman Boehner is reminded that If someone yells 'Fire' in a crowd to start a stampede and people are harmed- it is called reckless endangerment and can be treated as a felony crime.

See also: Paul Krugman's editorial: "Going to Extreme." ; Rachel Maddow: Right Wing Threats of Violence Intensify, 4/7/2010
 

Health Insurance reform, 3/8/2010

Insurance companies are dramatically increasing rates on the eve of health care passage. Yet their stocks rise as the chances for passage go up. The two are not contradictory if you assume that at least some of the rate increases are timed to encourage the passage of a plan that brings compulsory coverage and the ability to charge whatever they like. A plan that will be much more costly to the consumer, even as it decreases the federal outlay by reducing Medicare costs.

The Democrats are getting ready to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The President's leadership should be repudiated and instead his party needs to pass a bill with a robust public option that can cover the majority of Americans.

And the Bill passes....

Today the President signed into law health care reform- he seemed moved and touched-believing the art of the possible is enough-having defined what that is early on- yet not making the rest of us privy to this- until the end of the process. So does he know best? Is this democracy or manipulation? Does he pursue the illusion of non-partisanship, while sacrificing the needs of the American people? This is less a triumph for democracy and more a triumph for a corrupt process and dying industry that seeks profits before people and will eventually be crushed under the weight of its sheer greed. The Republicans stand as pariahs- their supporters instruments of capitalist greed, and the Democrats come out with a shred of morality- and once again they all chant - what is good for business is good for America- and so the lie lives on.


A Comment about Michael Moore...and the World...

In Moore’s world view the people are victims of a merciless elite. Yet in reality people are not victims- they are the root cause- the masses have abdicated their power, their choice- for a small piece of real estate, a big screen TV, an SUV and food on the table. And while many do not have this- they want nothing to rock the boat- to make them feel less secure. Few Americans lose sleep over the tragedy in Iraq and Afghanistan and the untold suffering and loss of civilian life. Few think about the destruction of nature and climate change. Few care about the developing world- the privatization and scarcity of water- the gross inequality in this country and elsewhere between the rich and poor. Hence- the majority is easily and willingly manipulated. We want to be told that we’re a great moral force in the world- yet we do not hesitate to inflict death and destruction. Cognitive dissonance indeed.

For many there is faith that ultimately things will work out- sometimes it is a faith in science- a faith in humanity- a misplaced belief that we have progressed as a species, morally and ethically. But unless I am mistaken, more have died in the 20th century in war than in any previous century. There may be few plantation slaves now- but there are many economic slaves- here and in the third world- the make our cloths, clean our houses, even perform sex- all for just the chance to survive.

The truth is that all we really can control is ourselves- and most cannot accomplish even this. Yet if we change- if we act as we preach-if we walk with beauty and integrity- then perhaps there is hope. All the words in this forum, pale in insignificance to just one act of genuine selflessness and compassion. That is all there is- everything else is folly and delusion.

 

Naomi Klein on Climate Debt with an Introduction by Avi Lewis

Comment: Naomi Klein is right in all of what she says. All are vulnerable- and there are no words to describe what will take place and yes- what IS taking place. No words.

In the Shadow of Power- the Disgrace of the Nation's Capitol

Thomas Geoghegan on the Case for Busting the Filibuster

Cornel West Questions Obama's Commitment to Black America, Says a Prayer for Rahm Emmanuel


Obama: Nuclear Energy & Offshore Drilling...Take that Energy and Shove It, 2/24/2010; 3/31/2010

Obama must be out of his mind- providing loan guarantees to build nuclear power plants that are not needed and are not economically viable. Earth to Obama...Solar and other renewable technologies have arrived- the technologies are there NOW to meet our energy needs. It is only the lack of sound economic and environmental policy and the continued subsidies to the oil and gas industries that make fossil fuel prices competitive. If the environmental destruction they caused were factored into their price- no one could afford them. No one!

Is this move a payback to a major campaign contributor? A bribe to the Right so that they will support cap and trade? Are you daft? Nuclear power is not secure. Nuclear waste is an issue that has not been resolved. Have you had a conversation with Al Gore recently? What about Steve Chu- your Energy Secretary? Neither one would agree with your position. Does it not strike you as ironic that the total of loan guarantees sought will exceed the Senate's recently passed jobs bill by 300%!

As for bribing Republicans- there isn't enough money in the US Treasury to satisfy their insatiable graft and blatant hypocrisy. Does it appear coincidental to you that it was Bush's Supreme Court appointees that helped bring us unlimited corporate funding of elections? Unless the American people wake-up and insist on public financing of campaigns (which is a doubtful proposition), there will be so much money in politics that what's left of democracy in the US will only be a faint- believe it or not- nostalgic memory.

Comment: In keeping with Obama's irresponsible corporatism and reckless environmentalism, on 3/31/2010, he approved offshore drilling on Atlantic coast, northern coast of Alaska and eastern Gulf of Mexico. This move has as much logic and demonstrates as much leadership as the aforementioned nuclear policy. Both policies work against the national self interest and defeat the very aims Obama purports to pursue.

Also, recent moves by the EPA to enforce tougher water quality standards for pending or future mountaintop removal projects in Appalachia- while constructive- are just band aids, failing to adequately address this issue or the broader issue of a lack of comprehensive energy and climate policy to meet the coming global disaster.


Coal

"Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel/And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land/Well they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken/Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man."-John Prine. See also: As Obama Pushes “Clean Coal,” Jeff Biggers Tracks History of Destructive Mining in “Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland”


What is Wrong...

Two headlines juxtaposed..."Unlimited funding for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," and "Even parties that signed the Copenhagen agreement recognize it is inadequate." A government- a leader that would offer half a trillion in funding to an institution that through avarice and incompetence helped cause a financial collapse and the very same government and leader- a pawn for global economic interests- could barely get his nation to commit a small amount to head off the worst disaster in human history.

Ironies and contradictions like this expose the corruption and evil of  world governments- not just the US. Trillions for war-little for the preservation of life.

People must take control. Ordinary people- unchained from misinformation- free to reach their full potential- a world free from the horrific assumption that war is peace. Democracy is less a right than a responsibility.

Civil disobedience is preferable to hopelessness- yet the price is great. To chose life with or without hope. To chose passivity or peaceful revolution.


Many Things to Write About...

As tragedy and pain take place in Haiti, men like Pat Robertson talk about divine retribution. They do not understand. I have little knowledge about Vodou. However I know this. Spirits fill this world- this world and other worlds. Death is merely a passing over- not an end. Communication among among all spirits- living and "dead" occur- the web is complex and at the same time simple and beautiful. There is much that can be learned from ancestors- much that can be healed now and in the past. No man can judge- most human beings are lost in a reality that blinds them to the truth. Yet there is truth- and mere words cannot undo the truth.

Please send your prayers, your thoughts, your good will to the people- to the spirits of Haiti and other parts of the world- to all men- who suffer. Enlarge your compassion and free yourself from the guilt and emptiness of those who teach retribution- they create their own hells- hells from which they may not escape. And it is for them, ironically perhaps, where the greatest compassion is needed.


Wisdom at 100: Defend Democracy Against the Corporate State, 1/21/2010

Comment:

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

– Matthew 21:12-13

While the halls of Congress are not a place of worship- nor should they be a den of thieves. No other "democracy" permits this kind of brazen influence of corporations on public policy- effectively institutionalizing corporate fascism. See also: Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction- Chris Hedges.


Israel's Assassination Policy

Comment: Murder.


Obama and Health Care, 1/20/2010

Pass the Senate bill AND then use reconciliation to bring it closer to the House version or MUCH better- use reconciliation to produce a universal single payer alternative to both the Senate and House bills.

However, I would not support the Senate bill being rammed through the House IF reconciliation wasn't part of the bargain. Given Obama's leadership to date on this and other issues- this outcome is very open to question.

I am totally baffled. Obama is now perceived as a weak leader in Washington. His leadership has been given virtually no respect from the Republican side of the aisle. They will not vote with him even if they agree with him- so as not to break party solidarity. Their political strategy is clear- it has only one objective: Defeat the President and restore a Republican majority. They do not have the best interests of Americans in mind. They are not voting with conviction- they are voting on purely partisan lines. If the situation was reversed- they would without hesitation break the filibuster rule and/or use reconciliation.

The Presidency should not be a popularity contest. If The President believes in universal coverage and only 40% of Americans agree with him- then that is what he should strive for. It is beyond imagination that a supposedly great nation does not see health care as a basic human right- after 50+ years of rankling and partisan divide. For once Obama needs to do what is right and not politically expedient.

Update: In early February 2010, Anthem Blue Cross increased their health insurance premiums by 39% in California. The Obama administration did essentially nothing. Death panels are not needed- when no one can afford coverage- rather death by indifference.


The Massachusetts Senate Race- A Race from the Truth, 1/20/2010

Pundits will debate why Scott Brown won the Massachusetts US senate seat. They will point to factors such as Coakley's poor campaigning and debating skills (true); Brown's charisma and looks (would Sarah Palin, for example, be where she is today if she was not pretty? I think not); voter frustration and rooting for the underdog; and finally a rejection of the Obama agenda (to the extent they understand it). However, I believe that none of these get to the heart of the matter.

I listened to the debate between Brown and Coakley. Brown's main theme was that cutting taxes and freeing business from government regulation would solve the nation's ills. Ironically, these very policies have contributed to today's financial debacle. What Brown and the citizens of Massachusetts's can't face- what they run away from- is that there is no quick fix and that America is in decline. A majority of Americans are in denial about the strength of the financial system. They seem to believe that a Reagan style economic recovery is around the corner if only government would reduce taxes and spending. In fact, the economy has been severely and irrevocably weakened by ruinous economic policies and excessive levels of military spending that span many administrations. They are in denial about climate change. In denial about the strength of their educational and health care system. Their leadership either panders to their prejudices or sugar coats the truth.

In short, they are deceived and their faulty perception of reality will only hasten their country's decline.
 

David Brooks on Haiti: Common Wisdom from a Conventional Fool, 1/15/2010

Comment:  On the other hand- the truth: Naomi Klein: Stop Them Before They Shock Again...


ICE Officials Accused of Covering Up Immigrant Deaths in Detention, 1/13/2010

Comment: Documenting the wrongful death of Boubacar Bah. Showing the government cover-up. Over one hundred immigrants have died in ICE custody since 2003. Appalling treatment at the hands of the US government. No oversight- a consistent pattern of human rights abuses.


Money Well Spent: Obama received $20 million from healthcare industry in 2008 campaign, 1/12/2010


Money Well Spent: Bill Moyers - Wall Street & The Financial Reform, 1/10/2010


Why Is the Whistleblower Who Exposed the Massive UBS Tax Evasion Scheme the Only One Heading to Prison? 1/7/2010

Comment: Astounding precedent that persecutes the whistleblower and protects the guilty....


Sharlet: US Government At the Beck and Call of the Family, Jim Burroway, January 7th, 2010

"Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, appeared on Rachel Maddow’s show tonight to counter some of the claims made by “The Family” member Bob Hunter on Tuesday’s show. Hunter had claimed that Sharlet disavowed much of his own book, that The Family was not involved in politics, and that Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, one of the prime supporters of Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, was not a member of the Family.

Sharlet revealed that just this week he had obtained a budget for The Family’s work in Africa “identifying (Sen.) Jim Inhofe (R-OK) as the designated point man selected to work with eleven African leaders, most of them Presidents including the President of Uganda Museveni, President of Rwanda Kagame and to work with them to help set their nations on a sort of a Jesus footing. … There’s a budget, there’s money, there is a support staff, it’s a very formal effort that he’s undertaking.”

Sharlet also said that the Senators use their status as U.S. Senators to open doors for the Family in Africa. Sharlet said of Hunter:

He explained to me that those senators who were traveling with The Family… I had made the mistake of saying that Mr. Hunter travels at the behest of the U.S. government. He corrected me. He said ‘No, Senators travel at the behest of me. I use them as bait; I use them as tools to reach those in power, and then we can go about trying to get them on this Jesus footing.

Rachel clarified that it is not the Family that is at the beck and call of the U.S. government, but that the U.S. government is at the beck and call of the Family.

Hunter had denied knowing Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, implying that Buturo was not a member of The Family. Sharlet said he was puzzled by that, saying that Hunter had told him that establishing the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity had been created for The Family, and that Buturo “inherited” that position, along with his position in the Family. Buturo has since traveled overseas representing Uganda at Family events."

Comment: Um...let's see- US Senators at the beck and call of a secret religious group that prostitutes itself to the powerful...A movement that coops other political leaders in vulnerable countries- a movement that spreads and fans hate in the form of anti-gay teachings- a movement that creates ethics minister positions in Third world countries that in turn promote legislation for murdering homosexuals and/or imprisoning them for life. An finally, a Christian right evangelical movement that hides their complicity by denying their involvement and only reluctantly defending the human rights of gays- to live and be free from illegal imprisonment.


Mountain Murder: US Scientists Demand Government Ban on Mountaintop Mining: Analysis of damage done leaves Obama no choice but to ban the highly destructive practice, say the authors of a new study, by Suzanne Goldenberg, 1/8/2010


The Hope

"...It was curious," wrote Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, "to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same - everywhere, all over the world . . . people ignorant of one another's existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same - people who . . . were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world." From, "Welcome to Orwell's World-Obama's lies over the Afghanistan war remind us of the lessons of Nineteen Eighty-Four," by John Pilger, 1/5/2010


Western troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children, 12/31/2009

Comment: As requested by Karzai, an official investigation needs to be launched immediately to determine whether war crimes took place. See also: US-Led Forces Accused of Executing Schoolchildren in Afghanistan
 

Judge Dismisses All Charges Against Blackwater Guards in Nisoor Square Massacre, 1/4/2010

Comment: An important interview that implies there was a fix- with the US government sabotaging its own case in the face of overwhelming evidence against the accused. Is this related to Erik Prince, former CEO (and still owner) of Blackwater, grey mailing the US government? Will Iraq be allowed to try the accused now that the US case was dismissed on a technicality?


Anti-Mining Activists Killed in El Salvador
See also: http://www.cispes.org/;

The El Salvador, United States and Canadian governments need to thoroughly investigate the recent killings of Dora “Alicia” Sorto Recinos, Ramiro Rivera Gómez and Marcelo Rivera.
El Salvador, because it is failing to protect its own citizens. The United States because it still has enormous influence in the country and is a principal signatory of CAFTA (see below). Canada, because it is a Canadian mining company that may have direct or indirect involvement in the dispute surrounding the killings.

The Vancouver, BC based company, Pacific Rim- who owns the disputed El Dorado gold mine- has perpetuated this violence by its CAFTA law suit against San Salvador. The local people have a right to organize to protect their communities against land exploitation and the damage to health caused by gold mining. Further CAFTA should not be used as a tool to violate a nation's sovereignty and right to decide how its resources are used. Finally, Pacific Rim, as a public traded company should have its stocks liquidated by pension funds and others, since it is acting irresponsibly and against basic tenets of human rights.

 

Senator Judd Gregg's Guide- How to obstruct Legislation in the Senate- aka How to take a sclerotic Legislative Body and Kill It, 12/1/2009

Comment: I hesitated to include the last two articles/comments on this web site. On the one hand, they help to expose the blatant attempt to politically capitalize on terrorism in the case of Dick Cheney, Congressman Peter Hoekstra, Senator DeMint and others. Or, as is the case with Gregg, they show how a political party attempts to undermine serious health care reform- also for political purposes- appearing at the same time pitifully weak and dangerously obstructionist. Yet helping to expose this behavior is important- it shows how craven and partisan Republican politicians in Washington have become- far more interested in political gain and serving corporate/military interests, then serving the ordinary American. All this while 1 in 4 children are on food stamps; record foreclosures; high unemployment; no net job creation in a decade; and escalating, endless and needless wars. 


Fighting
Injustice without Violence

The injustices of this world are many. Working together- as all nations and peoples- we can solve our common problems and stop these injustices. This is not an easy task and no nation or group enjoys a monopoly on virtue. But while we may experience anger and passion- we must not turn to violence and hatred. Hatred is the ancient elixir that thrown upon a world on the brink of destruction will move us only closer to that destruction. We have the right and responsibility to oppose violence and to name injustice wherever and whenever it takes place. But if we resort to the very violence we oppose than all is lost- nothing good will come-nothing. The reverse is also true- if we oppose violence without resorting to violence- than great good will come- far greater than we could have imagined.

None of these words should console the unjust. What it means is that we will fight harder, our sacrifices will be greater- we will leave no stone unturned- all will be brought to light.....We will not assume the mantle of violence- but they shall fall nonetheless. See: Gandhi's Views on Nonviolence.


Holocaust Survivor Stages Hunger Strike for Gaza, 12/28/2009

Comment: Please sign the petition in support of the Gaza Freedom March at: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/424/t/9750/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=2055


Change & Courage You Could Believe In

"These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike."-Franklin Delano Roosevelt- 1936 Democratic National Convention

Quick Note: Those liberal Democrats who see the Senate health care "reform" package as the "best we can get"- or "better than nothing"- smack of Pollyannaism. Their inability to stick to their principles is the exact reason why we have a stimulus for the health care industry masquerading as health care reform. Regardless- the health care system will collapse- with or without this mock reform bill. See also: Beware the Progressive Democrat; Also to understand how Congress really operates, read the article, The Cash Committee: How Wall Street Wins On The Hill, 12/29/2009. The clear message is that corruption, money and reelection are what dominates Washington- not the best interests of the American people. While this is not new- it must change if the nation is to survive and prosper. See also: Christmas presents for bankers.
 


Jim Hansen- Ending the fossil fuel addiction...A moral issue. Intergenerational Injustice.

More from Jim Hansen...

"...Once the necessity of a backbone flat carbon price across all fossil fuel sources is recognized, the required elements for a framework agreement become clear. The principal requirement will be to define how this tax rate will vary between nations. Recalcitrance of any nations to agree to the carbon price can be handled via import duties, which are permissible under existing international agreements. The framework must also define how proceeds of carbon duties will be used to assure fairness, encourage practices that improve women's rights and education, and help control population. A procedure should be defined for a regular adjustment of funds' distribution for fairness and to reward best performance. Well, what happens if, instead of accepting the need for a rising carbon price, our governments continue to deceive us, setting goals and targets for carbon emissions reductions?

In that case we had better start thinking about the Venus syndrome. From, "How to Solve the Climate Problem," The Nation, 12/30/2009


Copenhagen Negotiators Bicker and Filibuster While the Biosphere Burns, 12/18/2009

While this outcome could be predicted before the conference, it will not be tolerated. The leadership of the United States during and leading up to the conference has been despicable. Clinton's offer of climate mitigation funding to the developing world was weak and a transparent attempt to buy off their interests- without making any real commitment to emissions reduction. Even our support of REDD had the markings of corporate influence- using it as the easiest way to appear to address climate change- without actually making hard emissions cuts. Preserving forests and their diversity is very important- just not in the context of a treaty that supports monoculture, forest destruction and letting the developed world off the hook for reducing emissions.

There is now a growing realization throughout the world that climate change and system change are intertwined. It is apparent that the current system- an undemocratic form of global capitalism- is the root cause of the problem and our collective inability to act.

The assumption that technology in and of itself will address climate change issues, ignores the reality that climate change is happening now and has been building for a long time. The incentives in the current global economic system are perverse- witness Canada's shameless policies on tar sand development. Our current policies do not sufficiently restrict the use of dangerous fossil burning technologies and promote the use of safe renewable ones. Further, there is a gross lack of understanding of the interrelationships between climate change and environmental toxicity, industrial agriculture, food security, indigenous rights, poverty, social justice, drought, etc.

However, there is one ray of hope.100,000 people marched, organized, shared and forged connections in Copenhagen. Young and old together made clear statements of truth about the crisis. While climate criminals such as Obama, Harper and Jiabao escape accountability for now- their citizens will not. Know this- know it so well that it hurts- climate change will not spare the developed world- no amount of money will mitigate the crisis. China and India will not be able to feed their people. The United States economy will be wrecked. Millions more will die.

The speaking of truth by so many activists in Copenhagen is a powerful thing. The truth- more than armies- destroys corrupt regimes.

As George Monbiot wrote:

"Goodbye Africa, goodbye south Asia; goodbye glaciers and sea ice, coral reefs and rainforest. It was nice knowing you. Not that we really cared. The governments which moved so swiftly to save the banks have bickered and filibustered while the biosphere burns."

"So how do we break this system? How do we pursue happiness and wellbeing rather than growth? I came back from the Copenhagen climate talks depressed for several reasons, but above all because, listening to the discussions at the citizens' summit, it struck me that we no longer have movements; we have thousands of people each clamouring to have their own visions adopted. We might come together for occasional rallies and marches, but as soon as we start discussing alternatives, solidarity is shattered by possessive individualism. Consumerism has changed all of us. Our challenge is now to fight a system we have internalised."

As Bill McKibbern founder of 350.org wrote:

"This (agreement brokered by the US, Brazil, South Africa, India and China) is a declaration that small and poor countries don't matter, that international civil society doesn't matter, and that serious limits on carbon don't matter. The president has wrecked the UN and he's wrecked the possibility of a tough plan to control global warming. It may get Obama a reputation as a tough American leader, but it's at the expense of everything progressives have held dear. 189 countries have been left powerless, and the foxes now guard the carbon henhouse without any oversight."

As Johann Hari wrote:

Copenhagen had one value, and one value alone. It has shown us that if we don't act in our own self-defense now, nobody else will.


Interview with Johann Hari

Results from Copenhagen as reported by the Network Climate Justice Action (CJA),12/17/2009

"The cop 15 comes to an end - and it has not coped with what politicians promised. There is no treaty that might preserve us from the catastrophic consequences of runaway climate change. The summit's agenda didn't even include real solutions to the climate crisis - such as tackling economic growth, leaving fossil fuels in the ground and implementing food sovereignty. Neither has it addressed the ecological debt the global north has with the south or measures for a just transition towards a low carbon economy and society.

Furthermore, critics and adversaries of the climate politics carried
forward by the industrialized nations, market-based false solutions as carbon offsetting and emissions trading have suffered from a whole array of repression: Delegates from the civil society have been excluded from the process, some of them beaten up by the police when trying to join the peoples assembly for climate justice outside the Bella Center.

Demonstrations have been cattled, attacked with tear-gas, pepper-spray and batons, more than 1.500 climate activists have been arrested over the past two weeks. Some of them are still in jail - those and others, including spokespeople for climate justice action are now facing trials for taking a role in our common struggle for climate justice.

We neither accept the results of this summit nor the repression our friends and comrades are facing - and that is why we will be on the streets again on Friday (18th dec):
peaceful solidarity march from Israels Place near Norreport station (15:00) to Slodsplads (Christiansborg)

Copenhagen: Only the Numbers Count – and They Add up to Hell on Earth, 12/15/2009

Clinton's Copenhagen Announcement 'Was Naked Blackmail', 12/17/2009

ACTIVISTS TEARGASSED AFTER CLIMATE DEBATE, 12/15/2009

SIGN THIS PETITION

To: Hans Gammeltoft-Hansen (Ombudsman), Per Larsen (Detective Commander of the Danish National Police) and Ritt Bjerregaard (Lord Mayor of Copenhagen)

Started by: Adrian Wilson

Over the past two weeks, citizens of countries all over the world have come to Copenhagen for the UN COP-15 climate negotiations. Many have engaged in peaceful, nonviolent protest, trying to push world leaders to sign a meaningful deal that will save our planet for future generations.

Rather that giving them the space, the Danish police have used extremely heavy-handed and cruel mass arrest tactics, potentially violating European human rights laws. The Danish police are out of control, and they need to be held accountable.

Please join us and take action! Sign this petition calling on the Danish government to immediately investigate the police actions of the past two weeks, and demand that they allow future peaceful protests to go forward without similar abuses.

Danish Police: Going Too Far

On Saturday, Dec. 12, 100,000 people in Copenhagen participated in an overwhelmingly peaceful protest - but this protest was marred by the overzealous Danish police, who blocked off streets surrounding large groups of protestors, and arrested almost 1,000 people, the vast majority of which were clearly doing nothing illegal. Arrestees were handcuffed and forced to sit in rows for hours, as the temperatures dipped below freezing; numerous people urinated on themselves after being denied use of toilets. According to Maria Ludwig from Germany, "They kept me for two hours with plastic cuffs around our wrists and our hands behind our back, and then they put us on the bus. We had nothing to eat or drink, and one man asked the police to go to the toilet and they said: 'No way are you going to put your trousers down, you'll just have to piss into your trousers.'"

And this is only one example of the harassment of environmental protestors by the Danish police in recent weeks. On Dec. 11, police arrested 68 people at a nonviolent protest in downtown Copenhagen, refusing to give reasons for making arrests. (You can see examples of police violence at the Dec. 11 protest on this video.) On the night of Dec. 14, police raided the district of Christiania, where a protest group was holding a fundraiser party, arresting 200 people and using tear gas, police dogs, and water cannons on people that they claimed were protestors. Lily Kember, 22, from London, said: "There was no warning. We were dancing, having a great night and then suddenly the tent was full of tear gas. I saw an old man near me doubled up and coughing."

Possible Violations of EU Human Rights Laws?

Throughout these protests, police have cited a controversial law, passed on Nov. 26, that gave them sweeping powers to make "pre-emptive arrests" and hold people for up to 12 hours without any actual wrongdoing having taken place. The new law was publicly denounced as "draconian" by numerous environmental groups, trade unions, and other organizations.

In a press release from Aug. 10, the Danish police stated that "all people are, without previous permission, at liberty to assemble unarmed" and that "the police arenít allowed to take action, unless attacked, until after the crowd has three times been called upon to disperse." However, in these protests, these commitments have been blatantly disregarded. According to Claus Bonnez, a lawyer working with Krim, a human rights organization, "according to the European Court of Human Rights process, the police will have to prove that it is necessary for democratic society to make such arrests. And I don't think that the Danish police will be able to prove that."

On Dec. 13, Amnesty International called for an investigation into potential human rights abuses, stating that "when nearly 1,000 people are arrested and then all but 13 are released it means that many of those people were just innocent people in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Take action now! Please sign this petition, and help make Denmark a safe place for peaceful protest.

 


"Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip," an excellent video on global warming from Leo Murray on Vimeo.

See also: Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip Web Site- It's much, much later than you think

"We are members of the most destructive culture ever to exist. Our assault on the natural world, on indigenous and other cultures, on women, on children, on all of us through the possibility of nuclear suicide and other means--all these are unprecedented in their magnitude and ferocity." -Derrick Jensen; See also: A Reality Check From the Brink of Extinction by Chris Hedges

A sobering new assessment by the "Climate Action Tracker" of the emission commitments and pledges put forward by industrialized and developing countries for the Copenhagen climate negotiations shows that the world is headed for a global warming of well over 3°C by 2100.- Ecofys Climate Action Tracker.
Comment: The world is courting disaster!

"In the long term, the Earth's temperature may be 30-50% more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide than has previously been estimated," reports a new study published in Nature Geoscience, 12/7/2009.

Vandana Shiva Speaks at Climate Summit Protest
Indian Activist: "The Earth Must Call The Shots. The Earth Will Make The Rules."

She speaks so much of the truth- it breaks my heart to see the developed and developing world do everything it can to blunt, redirect or destroy the simple truth she speaks. She understands the relationship between social and environmental justice. She understands the dangers of industrial agriculture. She speaks of building a new world- the end of corporate rule. She peaks of the unstoppable force of change...

Copenhagen police accused of violating human rights at UN climate summit, 12/12/2009

Cowardice asks the question - is it safe?
Expediency asks the question - is it politic?
Vanity asks the question - is it popular?
But conscience asks the question - is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I believe that there is a truth- a right and wrong. I believe that in seeking it one must start from humility and the absence of ego. One must free oneself from one's own traps- past- predilections. One must carefully examine an issue in as detached a way as possible. In silence.

However, after this examination, one must with passion defend what one believes to be right. It is not easy balancing passion with detachment. In the end, it is compassion that must emerge if there is to be an expression of truth and good. And inevitably there will be pain.

The truth can in some sense never be expressed with words. It is not experienced solely through the rational intellect. It is felt and experienced in a way that is profoundly spiritual and alive.

I know, for example, that what is being done to the poor, to the children, to youth, to the animals, to the plants, to the mountains, to the land, to the water is fundamentally wrong. I know that men reason with words and forget true meaning. Their propensity for violence is virtually limitless. Yet I know what I must protect and what is important.

True Courage: Climate Justice Activists Enter Day 34 of Hunger Strike; Environmental Activist Jeff “Free” Luers Speaks Out in First Interview After 9.5 Years Behind Bars


The Shameful Role of the United States in Addressing Climate Change, 12/9/2009

"Now, the reverse is happening, as we have seen in the Danish text, that those developed countries in the Kyoto Protocol with high commitments are on the verge of jumping ship to join the United States, where the US is not willing to commit to an international treaty at the moment and is giving a very low commitment figure of reducing its emissions by about four percent between 1990 and 2020, when the science says we have to do it by at least 25 to 40 percent, preferably 40 percent, and Europe is willing to do 30 percent. So it looks as if the other countries are watching the United States and saying that if the US is going to do so little and is not going to be internationally legally bound, then we are all going to follow the United States in a race, if not to the bottom, to very near the bottom. And this is what is at the heart of the crisis in the negotiation. "- Martin Khor, executive director of the South Centre.
 

The Film Avatar

Avatar is first and foremost a commercial film- full of the requisite amount of action and violence. Yet good science fiction helps us see the "real" world a little more clearly by reflecting back an alternate world- different enough to jog our minds- but similar enough to move our hearts. At some level Avatar does this...

The film Avatar is an amazing and supremely costly technological spectacle. And while at times it sinks to a morality tale with evil villains, beings of great beauty and perfection, and a Moses and God to destroy the villains- a nonetheless powerful theme emerges. For you see this world- faces a choice. The choice between a dead world of machines and war- of dehumanization and nightmare- or a world of natural beauty and peace. A world of separateness or of interrelationship. A world where every action is a manifestation of beauty and connection or one where there is no end to cruelty and pain. I have seen these worlds.

The global consciousness is a reflection of the individual consciousness. The violence and split in our own natures manifests on the planet. The hatred, the inner doubt, the fear- the longing- it as if the world is an outer manifestation of our collective inner worlds. Perhaps we will grow- evolve into a peaceful state. If so that peace will manifest throughout the world- the universe. Perhaps then we will all become Avatars- incarnations of God.


Obama's Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech: War Is Peace

As if the World Needs a Reminder on the "Legitimate" Use of Force, 12/10/2009

What is apparent is that Obama does not understand peace. He wrote:

"The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached - their faith in human progress - must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey."

Perhaps this is true- perhaps not. But peace requires creativity and courage- the ability to think beyond hackneyed references to past accomplishments and justifications for war and prejudice. It is not merely the North Star- but the ever present necessity that informs every particle of our being- every thought and every action. It embraces our diversity and does not condemn it as an impediment to global homogenization.

Tolstoy wrote in a letter to Gandhi:

"At bottom, however, the law of love is, and can be, no longer valid if defense by force is set up beside it. And if once the law of love is not valid, then there remains no law except the right of might."

There is in fact not an original idea in Obama's entire speech. It is almost as if he feared that originality would be perceived as weakness. There was little mention of global warming- of the common threat and yet redeeming challenge that faces the world as we strive to live in balance with the Earth and life.

The make no “make no mistake there is evil in the world,” remark- perhaps true in some sense, but also a delusion- a way of clouding thinking and justifying atrocity- especially if is merely a justification to label whoever opposes us as “evil.”

Obama's speech was doublethink- yet the Times (LA and NY) praise it- as the essential speech. Not surprising given the pro-war, cheerleading orientation of the mainstream press.

According to Orwell, regarding "doublethink:" "The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. ... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies- all this is indispensably necessary."

Obama, as he acknowledged early on, is not worthy of the Nobel Peace prize. His disclaimers are not modest words of a humble man- they are a statement of fact. Yet I do not blame the peace committee. Perhaps they recognized the unique role an American leader can play today in the dangerous world we live in. Perhaps they saw a leader who would be forthright on issues of peace, poverty and climate/environmental devastation. Perhaps they saw the need for a transformative leader who could bridge the gap between rich and poor-oppressed and oppressor - a true peacekeeper. They were wrong- but so were many who voted for him in the United States.

Obama is a man who continues the legacy of his predecessors and is proud of it. Yet he lacks the moral vision of a Jimmy Carter and the ideals and creativity of a Woodrow Wilson. However, he should not be judged for what he lacks- but accepted for who he is. The American people will ultimately need to decide if his accomplishments- words and deeds- justify his reelection.

Finally, when a President's acceptance speech to the Nobel Peace Committee is focused on justifying war- great trouble lies ahead....


The Great
Betrayal

"...When Barack Obama goes to Copenhagen, he will treat global warming as another political problem, offering a promise of something like a 17% cut in our greenhouse gas emissions from their 2005 levels by 2020. This works out to a 4% cut from 1990 levels, the standard baseline for measurement, and yet scientists have calculated that the major industrialized nations need to cut their emissions by 40% to have any hope of getting us on a path back towards safety."

"They'll sign some kind of paper in Denmark -- that became all but certain on Friday night when Obama announced he'd jet in for the meeting's close. European leaders and some environmental groups may then call it a "qualified success," and on we will go through more years of negotiation. In the meantime, physics will continue to operate, permafrost will continue to thaw, sea ice to melt, drought to spread.

It's like nothing we've ever faced before -- and we're facing it as if it's just like everything else. That's the problem." - "Why Copenhagen May Be A Disaster,"- Bill McKibben

Comment: As the Copenhagen talks begin, Danish police have intensified efforts to intimidate protesters- 100+ million dollars- 9,000 police-beefed up prisons- preemptive arrests-set to criminalize peaceful unarmed citizens. Who in fact are the real criminals? See also:  Danish Police Raid Copenhagen Climate Campaigners' Rooms Police detain 200 activists at their Copenhagen accommodation and seize items they claim could be used for acts of civil disobedience, 12/9/2009

Politicians are set to declare victory when there is not one. The developing nations are set to be abandoned as ever- with the developed world refusing to pay its climate debt.

A corrupt system set to collapse without mercy for the innocent. Bear witness.

Did you know a Greenland's Inuit woman's breast milk is considered toxic because of the concentration of toxins in that region? Bear Witness.

Do you know who the fifth hardest nation hit by the consequences of climate change is? The United States. The first: Bangladesh. Global warming is the great equalizer.


Globalization, Climate Change, Environmental Destruction, Developing Nation Exploitation, Wall Street Collapse, Fascism, Unlimited War- Are all Related.

Globalization, Climate Change, Environmental Destruction, Developing Nation Exploitation, Wall Street Collapse, Fascism, Unlimited War. Listening to the news, it is all too easy to think of these things in isolation. Well meaning leaders such as Al Gore speak convincingly about the dangers of climate change and available solutions. Obama waxes eloquently and at times passionately about health care inequities, climate change and the need for financial regulatory reform. Sadly, his most significant mark may be to inflame the War of Terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is as if each one of these crises exists in isolation and require a separate set of solutions.

But the truth is otherwise. The problems are systemic and so are the solutions.

For many years developing nations in Africa and Latin America have been exploited by the rich nations of the world. They have been chained to debt, while having their lands raped, their environment destroyed, their governments corrupted, their leaders assassinated and their men, woman and children left destitute or to die from disease or civil war. It is true that countries such as India and China have turned the tables- bringing their own people out of poverty by controlling globalization. Yet at the same time they have become increasingly like the developed world- crushing internal dissent and supporting reprehensible regimes that serve their commercial interests. In Latin America, leaders from countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador are trying to address the needs of the poor and indigenous communities, in part by gaining greater control over the multinationals that extract and export their oil and mineral wealth.

In this country, we used to think we were exempt- we could plunder Latin America and Africa, and our coffers would remain well stocked and our people prosperous. Yet quite the reverse is true. The distribution of wealth in both the United States and the developing world has grown more unequal- in favor of a very small elite class. This elite class provides nothing of value except the development of new speculative financial instruments and loans intended to control, restrict and crush the countries that are trapped by their "largess."

Wall Street, the WTO, IMF, the World Bank and others- together they seek to control and manipulate- effectively dictating the terms of existence to a populace that has no clue about the role they play. It is as if we have become marionettes, controlled by hidden forces that are often malignant and of which we have no awareness.

The financial collapse triggered by Wall Street is no fluke. It is not merely due to greed, a housing bubble or credit derivative instruments. Wall Street is now consumed by nothing but profit and the accumulation of phantom (as opposed to real) wealth. It was able to dictate the terms of its rescue to a weak US government. What the US government in fact did was to rescue corporations that care nothing about the American people, care nothing about the air we breathe and the water we drink, the land we live on-  companies who seek to do nothing more than amass wealth in a growing sea of poverty and inequality.

It is this system that is causing a collapse of the environment, a breakdown of the world's food and water supply, a rising tide of inequality in developing and rich nations alike and perpetual war.

Even in war, the transnational corporations prosper. However corrupt and underhanded their dealings- money is funneled into ever more costly, dangerous weapons systems. In turn the elites of the client countries wage war against their own people or other countries- typically poorer and weaker. Men, woman and children die on both sides- but the elites prosper.  

Ultimately corrupt power structures like the ones I described collapse. The problem is we don't have that much time left. Unless globalization is curtailed- restrained by global democracy- the challenges we face will grow exponentially. The economic bubble will become a tsunami and life on this planet unsustainable. It won't matter- the best solutions to our problems, the best technology- none of it will make a difference if we do not wrest control from the corporations and governments that control us and have their own agenda of exploitation, death and destruction. Economic globalization without global democracy is a recipe for disaster.


The Climate Change Emails...

The University of East Anglia mails where unfortunate because they can be easily misconstrued by the public and misrepresented by lobbyists for the oil and gas industry. 1998 was an outlier year due to the El Nino effect. Starting in 1850, 8 out of 10 of the warmest years have occurred since 2001. The overall science of climate change is solid- which is why 90%+ of climate scientists accept it.

Sadly, climate change is indeed quite real. It is folly to ignore the record level of species extinction, the melting of glaciers around the world, the record levels of drought, growing extremities of weather, the acidification of the ocean, etc. and actually believe that climate change is a failed hypothesis. It is unfortunately a pressing reality.

To believe that the levels of pollution, deforestation and habitat/species destruction are unrelated and have no effect on the climate and balance of life- is dangerous. Dangerous because if this thinking is wrong- and the likelihood of it being wrong is extremely high- the health and well being of every form of life on the planet is severely compromised or destroyed. See also: Group promoting climate skepticism has extensive ties to Exxon-Mobil What a surprise!


Remembering the Words of Paul Wellstone

The late Senator Paul Wellstone, wrote this in a 1981 speech to the group Citizens Organized Acting Together. His words are as relevant and timely today as they were when he spoke them.

"...This is not democratic. The corporate planners, multinational interests, and government bureaucrats who decide policies are not accountable to the many. Too few people have too much wealth, power, and say. This is what corrupts our political process - arrogances at the top and a sense of impotence on the bottom.

This [Reagan] Administration tells us we must sacrifice so we can once again have a strong economy. So we see $48.6 billion in social spending cuts - cuts in legal services, health care, food assistance, energy assistance, job training, education, medical, social security. This scorched-earth budget cutting deserves to be called exactly what it is - a class war against the poor and oppressed, in the streets, out in the work places, in the schools, in the hospitals, in the schools, in the hospitals, in the hearts of the old, the sick, the disabled, the powerless. It is a program of meanness - one that we will not accept.

This Administration is getting the government off our back so the corporations and the military defense establishment can jump on. Meanwhile, schools, health care, jobs, assistance to poor people and local services to citizens are cut severely as part of the attack on government. Yet the biggest part of the government by far is the Pentagon, and its budget grows by leaps and bounds.

What is our vision, and what is the task for tomorrow? The vision is economic democracy. We're losing this battle, and if we don't fight they are going to take it all way. They are going to give the country away to big business. This is the biggest fight yet. It has as to be a big and noble effort. It is a great task, but you are up for it. We will play an historical role, because no one else will. This is nothing less than an effort to make our country more democratic, and renew our vow of equal opportunity and justice for all citizens."

 

President Obama- Down the Rabbit Hole

President Obama used many clichés in his December 1st speech to West Point- especially concerning the greatness of America, our exceptionalism- how we seek to help rather than dominate. These words are empty- but so part of the standard vernacular, as to be safely ignored by anyone that knows even recent history.

However, the Presidency- as a position of great leadership- is often a test of moral courage. Moral courage is hard to define- but it boils downs to the ability to do what is right regardless of perceived cost to one's personal well being. It implies a willingness to accept risk and uncertainty, but also the confidence that by actively seeking the truth- good will emerge. Courage and idealism often go hand in hand.

President Obama has fallen into the trap of his predecessor. He has allowed the fear of something to cause him to take actions that are most likely to bring about what he fears most. At its root this is a lack of moral courage- a fear of being perceived weak and a fear that if things "go wrong," he will be blamed for the loss of lives.

His greatest fear is probably the fear of a chemical, biological or nuclear terrorist act. While this fear maybe justified, the question is whether his actions are driven by this fear or merely informed by it. Fear can trap us into old ways of thinking or it can help open up creative pathways that move beyond fear- to a pursuit of the truth.

To counter the fear of terrorism- there is in fact a need to bolster our security- and to do so in a way that is consistent with the law and the basic rights of individuals and groups. It is important not to bog down our police and intelligence operatives with excessive bureaucracy and indecision. It is important to work cooperatively with multiple organizations- domestically and abroad. It is important to stop the spread of lethal conventional and non-conventional weapons throughout the world.

However, even more importantly, we must recognize the causes of terrorism- to understand them, to acknowledge our own short comings and to take concrete actions to achieve a more humane, fair and just world. For example, insisting on the use of land mines, using cluster bombs and white phosphorus- are acts of cowardice that make us less, not more secure. Condemning human rights reports that show a consistent pattern of abuse from a traditional ally- hurt rather than promote the cause of human justice and encourage the spread of terrorism. Supporting corrupt and oppressive regimes throughout the world - again fans the flames of terrorism and hatred.

It is true that no nation or individual is perfect. This lack of perfection is not an excuse for violence-there is in fact no excuse for violence. However, if the world is to prosper, there needs to be a collective responsibility among nations. Sometimes bold acts of courage can start with our leaders. In the case of President Obama, he has consistently shown a lack of such courage, despite what appears to be good intentions. Still- there is always hope- always the ability to learn and grow.


In Direct Response

Tonight, December 1, 2009, President Obama made his case for an escalation of the Afghanistan War. Overall, since taking office Obama has tripled our troop commitment to 100,000. In addition, NATO will add another 7,000 troops to the existing 40,000.There is a further contingent of over 100,000 contractors, engaged in support and paramilitary operations. This brings the overall number of military/non-military forces in Afghanistan to approximately 240,000. This is in addition to the 124,000 combat troops and 130,000 contractors in Iraq.

His decision was not unexpected. All that was uncertain were the arguments he would use to justify escalation. In response to those arguments:

-The so-called "unity" behind our initial military incursion into Afghanistan may have occurred because our policies could have been construed as legitimate self defense. However to compare that initial response with an ongoing military presence, support of corrupt war lords and escalation into Pakistan is disingenuous. Further, there was no UN authority or clear indication of world-wide unity for the initial military attack on Afghanistan in 2001.

-The dismissal of comparisons to Vietnam is weak. What is happening in Afghanistan is a populist insurgency.

-President Obama failed to acknowledge that the policies of his administration have fanned the fires of conflict and civil war in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. He failed to mention the growing unpopularity of our presence in Afghanistan and the rise of popular support for the Taliban in the Afghan country side and Pakistan- growing in part because of our occupation.

-He spoke of a phased withdrawal starting in 2011. However, there is no rational reason to believe our stated military and political objectives can be achieved by then.

-He failed to mention that there are one hundred or less Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and perhaps 300 in Pakistan. They no longer have bases in Afghanistan and pose no threat to the United States from their operations in Afghanistan. This is the inconvenient truth he left out when making his justification for expanding the war to fight Al-Qaeda.

-He failed to mention the colliding regional interests of India, Iran, Turkey, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan and how our foreign policy attempts to triangulate their competing interests.

-He failed to mention our interests in protecting the flow of oil in the region and how, to this day, it shapes our foreign policy and military operations in the region.

-He failed to detail the corruption and the extent of the drug trade in the country. Two thirds of the country's GDP consists of the drug trade and production is up ten fold. Afghanistan produces 92% of the world's heroine.

-He failed to make the argument on why the Afghan people should support the Karzai govenment- a government dominated by barbaric warlords. He alluded to the elections as being tainted- but did not go far enough in describing them as a farce.

-He alluded to building the Afghan military as a cornerstone of his strategy- but he failed to mention the 25% desertion rate and that the primary motivation of Karzai's soldiers may simply be meager wages- in a country with 40% unemployment and a 10% literacy rate. He also failed to mention corruption and nepotism at the more senior levels in the Afghan military- making the notion that they can be trained to defend themselves in a year- let alone four years- absurd. He also did not speak to the brutality, incompetence and corruption of the Afghan police.

-There was no mention of reconstruction- of building schools, roads, agriculture, etc. as the essential cornerstone of our policies.

So many things he left out- so few real solutions and so little clarity and creativity. He wished to paint himself as being in the middle between those who want complete withdrawal (which include large numbers of Afghans!) and those who want an open ended commitment to nation building. However, if a stable, democratic Afghanistan and Pakistan are prerequisites for preventing the region from becoming a terrorist haven- how will anything short of nation building achieve this objective? Or, as the President implied, is this objective only worth so much in dollars and lives? If this is his argument he may have further emboldened our enemies- while placing what are probably impossible objectives for the military. At best buying time- and for what? What can be achieved in two years that has not been achieved during the last eight- even with fifty thousand additional troops this year? During the Vietnam War, President Johnson also believed he was buying time as he approved escalation of the War- and we all know where that led.

Finally, given their nuclear arsenal, the unstable, corrupt and unpopular Pakistani government is a serious foreign policy challenge in the region. However, it is likely our drone attacks and the widening of the covert CIA war on their border is making the situation worse, not better. We are fighting a covert war in a country where we there is no formal declaration of war. This covert war is producing civilian casualties and building even more hatred towards the US and coalition forces. This in turn will make it even easier for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to enlist new recruits. It is clear that whatever "benefits" may drive from killing terrorist leaders will overshadowed by the widening of the war and the weakening of our strategic position in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Therefore it is hard to make a strong case that our occupation reduces the threat of Al-Qaeda obtaining and using nuclear weapons when our policies are in fact destabilizing the region.

One thing is clear- the war will further bankrupt the US. No doubt about this. We are well along the path of becoming the new emerging third world nation.


Happy Thanksgiving

As some Americans give thanks for the blessings they have in a nation of comparative abundance, perhaps it would be better if they stopped. If they stopped the illegal and immoral war in Afghanistan.

Today the plight of the average Afghan woman is worse than before the American invasion. Today less than half of the Afghan population wants the American military in their country. Afghan's homes are invaded and every day innocent civilians are killed or maimed for life. Poverty is so great it makes life unbearable for many- they would rather die. Hunger and starvation causes untold deaths of men, woman and children every day- every hour. There are gun fighters it seems on every street. The politicians are corrupt beyond imagining. Yet we perpetuate this conflict- all for lies.

Afghanistan is not part of a war on terrorism. The only Afghan terrorists that exist today, exist because of our invasion. We shower the country with bombs- killing the innocent- destroying their schools, mosques and homes- destroying families. These people want an end to war- an end to the war lords -an end to the Taliban- an end to their civil war and most of all an end to foreign occupation.

Brave, young Americans die or are seriously maimed every day. Almost none of the money we spend goes to building schools, constructing roads- making the life of the people better. We are fighting a war of our own concoction that we can't win- for no good reason. I find myself ashamed of our country and ashamed of its leaders. Happy Thanksgiving. 




Jim Hansen- Scientific brilliance and common sense. Not an alarmist- perhaps even too conservative in his projections...



Tim DeChristopher Speaks at 350 SLC Event, Oct 24 2009


Comment: His defense is valid and his cause just. A necessity defense should be allowed by the Court. Quoting from the proffer:

"“Climate change” is defined as “changes in regional climate characteristics, including temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind, and severe weather events.”  While both occur as natural phenomena, human-caused greenhouse gasses resulting primarily from the use of fossil fuels are increasing both global warming and climate change at greatly accelerated rates. This is causing several catastrophic environmental effects, which include: Destruction of irreplaceable natural and cultural resources. The Court is requested to rule that a reasonable juror could find that the governmental actors’ violations of federal law and administrative regulations prior to and during the auction were greater evils than the completely nonviolent offenses."


Sell Massey Energy Company Stocks

Massey Energy company is responsible for mass destruction of mountains for short term gain. Its President, Don Blakenship denies the reality of climate change and his coal plants have been repeatedly fined for numerous violations. The blasting at Coal River Mountain directly puts nearby residents at risk- not only from breaks in the coal slurry, but contamination of land and water. Further, the destruction is unnecessary as the site could instead become a sustainable producer of clean wind energy.

With a failed federal administration and corrupt local regulatory agencies, the best way to stop Massey is for individual and institutional investors to sell their stock in the company and instead invest in companies on the forefront of clean, renewable energy. In addition there will be another protest on 12/7/2009 at Coal River Mountain. I would encourage major environmental groups to participate and stand in unity with the protestors. http://savecoalrivermountain.org/. A list of other companies and plants can be found here.

As Chris Hedges wrote in his article, Refuse Allegiance to Coal:

The projected rise of sea levels, as much as six feet this century and 23 feet if the Greenland ice sheet disappears, will submerge coastal nations such as Bangladesh, a country of 160 million people, as well as places such as the Mekong Delta, the Maldives and the Marshall Islands. The disappearance of glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau-glaciers that feed the Indus, Ganges, Yangtze and Yellow rivers-will create catastrophic water shortages and devastate the rice and wheat harvests in China and India, where about four of every 10 people live. World food prices will rise dramatically. If we can't save countries such as the Maldives and Bangladesh we will also be unable to save Venice, Hawaii, the Netherlands, New Zealand, London, Hong Kong and Manhattan. But don't expect much from Barack Obama and other leaders in the industrialized world. Their loyalty is not to the planet, or to us, but to the oil and gas industry, the coal industry and the huge corporate polluters who own them."


Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses,
And all the king's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

No longer a riddle- because Humpty Dumpty is not an egg- it is this planet- the life that is upon it- that includes humanity and every living thing. The Earth will not crack- but what is upon it is fragile and dying- not even slowly. A genocide of untold proportions is taking place- and we sit, we pray and we conjure and we debate and we do everything but try to prevent the final fall- making it seem so inevitable. We blame our leaders because they are corrupt- and many are- not merely corrupt but lacking wisdom and an awareness beyond their greediness for power. But most of all we need to blame ourselves.

This however is not theology- this is not original sin or guilt- actions can be taken, our words have an effect and we can fulfill our responsibility to life on this planet- to ourselves- and every sentient being- to all life. Nor is this idle intellectualism. This is a struggle for our humanity, because the more we destroy- the less of ourselves remain.

This is not rich versus poor- the poor care the most about nature and the environment. It is the rich, who addicted, care most about losing what they think they love- the dead material things that fill the emotional vacuums in their life.

This is not about truth versus lies- because the former will always prevail over the latter.

This is not about action versus inaction. Inaction is a form of action.

This is not about transformation. Either we become more human or we become the machines we create.

This not about jobs and economies. This is about the future- future generations. It is about what truly makes us wealthy.

This is about compassion- compassion for all life. If we forget the children, we forget ourselves. If we forget the poor, we forgot ourselves. And if we forget ourselves, we cannot remember our connection to nature- for this forms the basis of who we are.

When President Obama accepts his Nobel Peace prize- he has only one choice if he is to be redeemed by history. If and when he goes to Copenhagen- he has only one choice.

This is not the Left versus Right. This is not a media blitz. This is the lives of your children and your children's children. This is the next seven generations. Listen to your children- they know the truth you have forgotten. They have a right to live.
 

Carbon Tax- not Cap and Trade

Comment: The world is on the threshold of a renewable energy revolution. Solar and wind energy are rapidly becoming technologies that can replace the need for building another coal fired plant. Yet, instead of a system of cap and trade with carbon offsets- that will allow companies to circumvent true carbon emission reductions- we need a carbon tax that will be fair to consumers and incentivize the development of renewable energy sources. With the Greenland and Antarctic glaciers rapidly melting and with multiple threats to national security and global food and water supplies, the United States must fully mobilize and incentivize industry to produce renewable and non-carbon emitting sources of energy. Already good progress is being made in states such as Texas and countries such as Germany and China. The potential is almost limitless.

According to a 2007 LA Times editorial:

"...A 2005 study by researchers at Stanford University found that there is enough wind worldwide to satisfy global electricity demand seven times over, even if only 20% of the power could be captured. Enough solar energy hits the Earth in an hour to supply all the world's electricity needs for a year. " "...A 100-square-mile area of Nevada, if equipped with solar devices, could supply the U.S. with all the power it needs, according to the Energy Department. Again, such pronouncements don't address the real-world practicalities. But given that neither coal nor nuclear power is a practical solution to global warming, U.S. research priorities are badly skewed."
 

What I meant....

I was at a conference a few weeks ago on the social, political and economic implications of dams and dam removal. One of the panelists suggested that in making decisions regarding dams it is important to include all interested parties- including the people most affected by the dislocation and destruction caused by the dam. I then asked- what about the rights of the environment- and nature- how are these these rights represented? One of the very clever and well meaning members of the panel then quickly turned this around and said- well another way of asking this is how can man become more attuned to nature. Later in the ensuing discussion another panelist suggested that the Earth is destroying herself- that he couldn't go back to a life without electricity and that we must save the Earth from herself.

This last panelist who spoke to my question- even more than the one that initially responded- clearly showed the problem. I am sorry to say that Western society and religion is mostly dead- dead that is to the connection between nature and the consciousness, compassion and sentience that permeates every atom of the universe. There is, for example, wisdom in trees- wisdom in every sense of the word that we refer to as a man or woman as wise- yet collectively society is dead to these meanings. Rather those who speak of these things are labeled as delusional, "tree huggers," or worse. Yet being deaf to something does not mean it is not spoken. In fact, their wisdom is sacred- as is the mountains, the animals, the plants. The problem is not one of interpretation- for the messages are clear- the problem is one of understanding and acceptance and then acting and in the process redefining what it means to be human again.

The last panelist- out of fear of losing what he "has" materially- could not imagine a world that is sustainable. Instead, he saw science as some kind of savior- but a savoir for what I ask? Are men any happier? Are there lives more at peace?  Are there fewer wars? Less violence?

If mankind thinks that he can find his redemption in a toxic chemical trash dump, in the militarization and exploitation of other planets, in underground cities- he is mistaken. And these unlikely scenarios are the optimistic ones- if that is- survival is prized at any cost.





Canada- One of the Worst Environmental Polluters on the Planet and a Global Warming Time Bomb

Canada's environmental record is one of the worst in the industrialized world. See: Canada an environmental slouch, study says, 11/2008.

Not unrelated, Canada's treatment of First Nations people is also deplorable. Yet with so much catching up to do both environmentally and with respect to indigenous rights- the country still plans to continue to fully exploit the Alberta's tar sands. The tar sands represent what may be be the world's second largest oil reserve.

Yet, as former Vice-President Al Gore writes, "Gas from the tar sands gives a Prius the same carbon footprint as a Hummer." America's largest source of oil is fast becoming the Alberta tar sands.

Quoting from the article, H2Oil – The Story of the Alberta Tar Sands:

"If the exploitation and extraction of the Alberta tar sands continues, the environmental, social, and human impacts on Alberta will soon reach a crisis point. North America will be covered with pipelines criss-crossing the land from the Arctic to the southern United States, leaving in their wake toxic water basins the size of Lake Ontario and surface mines equal to the land area of Florida."

The world renown environmentalist David Suzuki writes: "We (Canada) are creating an environmental catastrophe that will take centuries to recover from."

However,  there may be no recovery, as the extraction of oil from the tar sands makes a catastrophic contribution to global warming.

Canada is a wealthy country, and as such, there should be no compensation if it chooses not not extract its tar sands. Further, there are no carbon offsets sufficient to address the damage that is being done by the extraction of tar sands.

What utter hypocrisy that we ask developing nations to forbear development of their forests and coal reserves- as one of the world's leading industrialized nations proceeds to engage in the worst pollution project of all times. Canada needs to be condemned for its environmental policies throughout the world. As for its greedy and oil needy neighbor to the South- no words can begin to describe its utter lack of environmental responsibility.
 

Pastor Rick Warren Responds to Proposed Antigay Ugandan Legislation, 11/29/2009

Comment: Rick Warren refuses to condemn the proposed Ugandan anti-gay law that would make homosexuality a capital offense. There are no words to describe how morally reprehensible and devoid of humanity that I find his position.

Of course, this is the same Rick Warren who proclaimed Uganda to be a purpose driven nation. Who sided with a Ugandan boycott of the Anglican Church because the Anglican Church was too pro gay!

Then there is The Family- C Street- composed of a cabal of congressman and senator. Apparently the man who introduced the legislation in Uganda is a member of The Family. Is this their vision for America as well- is this fundamentalist extremism to be the future of this country?

Where does our state department stand? Other than condemnation are they taking any concrete action? How much is our aid to Uganda? Sweden will cut aid if this bill passes, what about the United States?

See also: Rachel Maddow's reporting on the subject.


Obama's Christmas Gift to the Health Care Lobbyists- Compromised Health Care Reform...

-Howard Dean says kill the Senate health bill,12/15/2009
-Olbermann: Ruined Senate Bill Unsupportable
-Several prosecutors probing health care deal: They question the constitutionality of ‘Nebraska compromise’

Without support from the White House- Senator Reid and others fought for inclusion of choice in the Senate version of the health care reform package. Choice refers to offering a public insurance option to the mandated private insurance now under consideration. The later is effectively a give-away to the health insurance industry. Without a countervailing public option- the public is at the mercy of the private health insurance industry. Already enjoying an effective monopoly- the industry will be able to dictate rates, curtail plans by exploiting loopholes and achieve excessive profits (at the expense of the insured). Further there will be no effective control over the growth of health care spending as a percentage of GDP- resulting in spiraling rates that could further bankrupt individuals and the federal government.

The Democrats must take a stand. They must oppose health care reform without either a strong public option and/or the significant expansion of existing programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to cover those most at risk. To accomplish this in the face of a subservient White House and the abuse of the filibuster, the Democratic Senate leadership must use reconciliation- splitting the bill's spending and and non-spending elements.

There are some who believe progressives should support the Senate bill. To do otherwise, they argue- would destroy the Obama Presidency. They point out that the bill has many good features- such as increased funding for community health care clinics, the option to purchase insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions, significant cost reductions and the potential to insure 30 million more Americans.

The problem is that the American people are still being short changed- essentially sold out by their corrupt representatives who are in turn beholden to special interests. The bill does little to control the spiraling cost of health care- it mandates coverage that for many- is now or will become unaffordable (up to 8% of income- with up to a 2% penalty for refusal to buy insurance). It solidifies the insurance industry monopoly, placates big pharma (no re-importation of prescription drugs, limits generics) and exposes many Americans to the prospect of unaffordable or extremely high out of pocket insurance due to pre-existing conditions and/or advanced age (400% or higher higher premiums for older citizens not covered by Medicare and 200% or higher for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other medical conditions). Insurers will also be allowed to rescind policies for "fraud or intentional misrepresentation," the main pretext insurance companies now use to cancel coverage. The bill also permits insurers to sell policies across state lines, exempting them from patient protections passed in other states. Insurers will thus set up in the least regulated states in a race to the bottom, threatening public protections won by consumers in various states. Further it offers the American people no option other than private insurance. There is no government safe haven where individuals and families that are abused by private insurance companies can still obtain affordable insurance and reasonable coverage. Rather, it lines the pockets of the health insurers and pharmaceutical companies at the expense of the average American.

Regarding the Obama Presidency- the public interest far outweighs his presidency. If citizens and their representatives fail to vote based on their conscience and their understanding of what is right- then they deserve the fruits thereof. Obama, by bowing to the military-industrial-governmental machinery- has already set a dangerous precedent in this and other areas that may destroy his Presidency and cost the lives and/or harm the well being of many Americans. Standing up to his abuses of power may motivate him to change his course- acquiescing will have the opposite effect.

The position on health care should in fact be an expansion of Medicare to Americans of all ages- effectively embracing a single payer plan. Short of this, we need legislation that provides an effective future transition to single payer coverage. Single payer insurance is the future of the American health care system- otherwise excessive growth of health expenditures as a percentage of GDP will destroy the American economy- plain and simple. Perhaps there is a enough support for single payer if the Senate leadership wields reconciliation. George W. Bush and the Republicans managed to ram tax cuts, oil drilling, trade authority, and much else through reconciliation.

As for the Republicans- to ignore the growing cost of coverage, while contributing nothing to health care reform efforts- is reprehensible beyond measure. They are fully deserving of their status as a small (hopefully in the future smaller) minority party. The American people will be very sorely served if they look to that party for their future. Ronald Reagan was accused at times of wearing rose colored glasses- but these guys have blinders on!

Finally, for Democrats and Republicans to use health care reform as a Trojan horse to undo abortion rights and gun control; and provide special (unconstitutional) favors to states where senators hold the legislative process captive- further reinforces the need to use reconciliation to produce a bill that is credible health care reform- and nothing else.


Obama- Real Change...


If I am a corporate lobbyist- I see real change. Whatever I do seems to work. Even as Obama berates me- I win where it counts- in the pocket book.

If I am a major corporation- automobile, banking, military, health care...whatever- I see real change. I have in fact never seen a government as supportive of my bottom-line.

If I am part of the military revolving door- alternating between working for defense contractors and the Pentagon- I see real change. Never before have I had an administration which gives me more of what I wanted with such little to work with.

If I am China or Saudi Arabia, I see real change- the ability to control the United States like a puppet with my ever increasing debt leverage.

If I am an average American small business owner or worker (union or non-union)- I see real change- increased health care costs, bankruptcy, unemployment and the loss of my home.

If I am a child- I see real change- hunger and homelessness.

If I am the environment, I see real change- runaway global warming, increased extraction of coal and much more.

If I am a human rights activist- I see real change- my pleas are ignored and I am left to stand on my own.

If I am a teacher- I see real change- more accountability to government "standards" and loss of income.

If I am in the military fighting- I see real change- even longer extended commitments, injury and death in conflicts where we don't belong.

Real people- real needs- real change- Obama.



A Lesson for Obama: Vietnam

I wrote the analysis below after viewing Bill Moyer's excellent analysis comparing Obama's choices in Afghanistan with Johnson's choices leading up to the escalation of the war in Vietnam.

Yet, one can't help but be struck by the amazingly pathetic nature of what is taking place. First we invade a nation to root out terrorist bases. Then we enlist the help of corrupt war lords and others to form a corrupt, unpopular government to root out the Taliban. We do little to stop and in some cases actually encourage the drug trade- further adding to the culture of corruption in the country. Then we decide after the Afghans "surprisingly" begin to hate their US sponsored government that the government is too corrupt! Then instead of correcting our past mistakes- we attempt to band aid the situation by starting a half assed counter insurgency/corruption cleanup effort- with strong Afghan opposition! Even more amazingly our military and political leaders appear to think this will work. Or perhaps, they are just protecting their political futures. In which case their crimes are treasonous.

Comment: Bill Moyer- with an intimate knowledge of the events that led to the Vietnam War, makes an impressive and clear case that the War in Afghanistan has similarities and many of the same risks as Vietnam. So does Daniel Ellsberg. So does Mikhail Gorbachev and others. It is clear that Johnson, McNamara and Bundy knew that the war was unwinnable- yet they felt compelled to commit American combat troops anyway. There reasons ranged from a desire to hold a position- to a fear of the domino effect- to fear of political repercussions. Yet what was most visibly absent was an understanding of the Vietnamese. They saw the war in geopolitical and military terms, but failed to appreciate the "enemy." The enemy was fighting for their country and freedom from colonial domination. The United States was an arrogant conqueror who know little of their culture, their determination or their struggle. In Afghanistan, it appears the United States, like the Russians in 1979, are perceived in the same way. The Soviet's War in Afghanistan contributed to the downfall of their empire. Likewise the Iraq and Afghanistan War has contributed to the economic ruin of the United States. Like the Russians we underestimate the enemy- we talk of training troops, corruption, etc., but we fail to understand the aspirations and needs of the Afghan people. Johnson, like Obama, was keenly aware of the political implications of leaving Vietnam- the abrogation of treaties, the appearance of being weak, etc. Yet, in the end the United States was forced to leave Vietnam. It will be the same in Afghanistan. The domino effect has been replaced with the War on Terror. Both are bogus constructs put forward by weak minds who need simple epithets to justify aggression.
 

Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan, 11/23/2009

"At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus."

Comment: If these claims are true, then current and past government officials that are/were connected with these programs need to be held thoroughly accountable. Not only do they show a total lack of respect for domestic and international law, they are immoral, evil and operate outside of the military/civilian chain of command and control. As such, they are dangerous to the security of the United States. See: Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan: Jeremy Scahill Reveals Private Military Firm Operating in Pakistan Under Covert Assassination and Kidnapping Program, 11/24/2009


Close the School of Americas

"Father Roy Bourgeois, MM, and School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) have been nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in the world - the Nobel Peace Prize - for their sustained faithful nonviolent witness against the disappearances, torture, and murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians (peasants, community and union organizers, clerics, missionaries, educators, and health workers) by foreign military personnel trained by the US military at US taxpayer expense at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia."- Thousands Demand Closure of Fort Benning's School of the Americas, 11/22/2009

Comments: Perhaps the reason why the United States continues the SOA, is because the US government condones these activities. Read what Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist revealed in a Great Conversations Event at the University of Minnesota on 3/11/2009; Also: Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan, 11/23/2009


Anti-Islamic Fear mongering, 11/20/2009

The Republican Right Muslim Witch hunt continues: Pat Robertson, Don Manzullo, Sarah Palin, Pete Hoekstra & Congressman Jon Kyl. Whatever their motivation- ignorance, hatred, paranoia, political gain or some combination thereof- their words are still dangerous. The President needs to speak out against anti-Muslim prejudice that not only challenges the integrity of his Justice department- but also the well being of Islamic Americans. Prejudice and hatred against the few is a threat to the many. We all belong to some minority that can easily be ostracized and made to be scapegoats.


Dodd wants a single bank regulator, 11/10/2009

Comment: Democratic Senator Dodd proposes stripping the Federal Reserve of the power to regulate the banking industry. No wonder-literally trillions have been transferred to banks and/or used to back toxic assets- with almost no accountability and transparency. Predictably the Obama administration opposes the strongest part of the bill and there appears to be no Republican support. See also the article/video, Naomi Klein on 'Vampire Banks': Turn The Lights On and They'll Turn to Dust, that discusses the House effort by Ron Paul and Alan Grayson to take on the Fed's secrecy. All of these challenges to the Fed come on the heels of the Obama Administration's weak response to Wall Street greed, arrogance and corruption and the sense that there is collusion between the Federal Reserve, White House, Congress and companies like Goldman Sachs. Along with this is an enormous public frustration with the sharp contrast between record Wall Street profits and bonuses, and record unemployment and home foreclosures. Reminding us that that the economic collapse started under Bush is growing increasingly thin as people realize that people like Summers and Rubin-Clinton appointees- help start the deregulation binge that brought about this crisis. The Glass-Steagall Act was repealed under Clinton as well.

Perhaps Obama ought to rethink his plan for the up coming job summit. If he thinks that talk and no action is going to be acceptable to the American people- he is in for quite a shock. If I were President Obama I would think seriously about ways to join the need for renewable energy with the need for job recovery. Remember Sputnik? Except today as he has been so poignantly reminded on his China visit- it is the Chinese who pose he biggest challenge to US technological and economic hegemony. Holding over 800 billion dollars of Treasury debt- I am also sure the Chinese have a keen interest in the management or I should say, mismanagement of the US economy. "It's the economy stupid."  


Obama Nominates Pesticide Executive to Be Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the US Trade Representative, 11/17/2009


Shining Light on Roots of Terrorism, 11/16/2009

Comment: Predictably those on the conservative (and also moderate) spectrum, see the Federal trials as a mistake and believe that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others should be tried as war criminals- presumably by US military war tribunals. But of course, this is the point- are these men international criminals or war criminals? Is there a War on Terror requiring a coordinated global military response or rather a series of international, occasionally interconnected, criminal acts requiring vigorous and coordinated police and judicial action? I believe the later. And while the two types of responses are not necessarily mutually exclusive- other than helping to recruit potential terrorists- I am unsure what our military actions, particularly the invasion of Iraq and the continuing occupation of Afghanistan have done to protect us from terrorism. Further, quoting John Perkins, in his excellent article, "Poverty, Global Trade Justice, and the Roots of Terrorism,"

"Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, a Nicaraguan priest who ministered to Sandinista guerrillas and is now president of the U.N. General Assembly, has a firsthand appreciation for such euphemisms and the power of words used to sway public perceptions. "Terrorism is not really an ‘ism,' " he told me. "There's no connection between the Sandinistas who fought the Contras and Al Qaeda, or between Colombia's FARC and fishermen turned pirates in Africa and Asia. Yet they are all called ‘terrorists.' That's just a convenient way for your government to convince the world that there is another enemy ‘ism' out there, like communism used to be. It diverts attention from the very real problems.""

"...The current economic collapse has awakened us to the importance of regulating and reigning in the people who control the businesses that benefit from the misuse of words like terrorism and who perpetrate other scams. We recognize today that white-collared executives are not a special, incorruptible breed. Like the rest of us, they require rules. Yet it is not enough for us to reestablish regulations that separate investment banks from commercial banks and insurance companies, reinstate anti-usury laws, and impose guidelines to ensure that consumers are not burdened by credit they cannot afford. We cannot simply return to solutions that worked before. Only by adopting new strategies that promote global environmental and social responsibility will we safeguard the future."

I agree that as a nation we must look into our soul and come to understand and discuss the negative moral, ethical and human rights implications of our oppressive military, economic and environmental policies throughout the world.
This is not intended to justify terrorism, but rather to understand its causes and perhaps gain a better understanding of ourselves, how we are perceived in the world and ways we and our allies can substantively change. By doing so, we will further our own self interest, while at the same time helping build a more just world.


The World's Original "Banana Republic" Strong-Arms the World's "Last Remaining Superpower?"

Comment:  President Manuel Zelaya should be returned to power and allowed to server out the remainder of his term. World leaders have uniformly declared the coup in June as illegal. The recent actions by Senator DeMint to undermine efforts to restore Zelaya are despicable. In the past, the United States has backed bloody right wing military coupes and/or assassinations to further its own short term interests and/or the interests of US corporations. This behavior is also despicable. While this does not appear to have occurred in this case, it is in our best interest and the interest of the hemisphere, that Latin America continue on the path of building stable democracies- regardless of whether these democracies are left or right leaning. The voice of the people are paramount- and while Zelaya came from the elite class in Honduras- he had the support of labor unions and the poor. Finally those that deride Honduras as just a "Banana republic," and therefore of no interest to a great superpower- seem to forget that  in the United States, 95% of the wealth is concentrated in 1% of the population- begging the question of which country is the true "banana" republic. More importantly, they forget that removing the liberties of one people, is  a blow to all peoples- and a threat to all.

Update: In return for the US abandoning (selling out) Zelaya, it looks like DeMint agreed to not oppose the nomination of Tom Shannon as US ambassador to Brazil. In return, a different Senator- George LeMieux, put another hold on the Shannon nomination!

"
Both Shannon and Valenzuela had been in limbo for a couple of months based on Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., hold on their appointments. But DeMint lifted the holds this week after he was satisfied that a Shannon-brokered deal meant that the U.S. would not insist on the restoration of ousted Honduran President Mel Zelaya, who illegally tired to extend his term. DeMint also said he was confident the U.S. would recognize the results of the Nov. 29 election, which would truly end this Honduran crisis." -Thomas Shannon’s Nomination Held Up, 11/9/2009;

Update: Honduran elections exposed, 12/7/2009; Apparently the US, Canada, Costa Rica and others knowingly bought into the coupe government's lies. What a surprise!


Politicians speak of war... but do they understand?

"War's cost is exacting. It destroys families. It leaves behind a wasteland, irreconcilable grief. It is a disease, and in the night air I smell its contagion. Justice is not at issue here: war consumes the good along with the wicked. There will be no stopping it. Pity will be banished. Fear will rule. It is the old lie again, told to children desperate for glory: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country)."- "A Gaza Diary- Scenes from the Palestinian Uprising," by Chris Hedges. See also, "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," by Chris Hedges.

Comment: One should never doubt the bravery of those who serve- as well as the bravery of those who oppose injustice in its many forms- including those that oppose war. The war in Afghanistan is Obama's war and he and the Congress bare responsibility for the lives that are lost. Is this war worth the price?


As its Empire Crumbles is America Ready for a Third Party?

It is obvious that the United States in in a kind of governmental gridlock and that the Congress and Executive Branch are unable to respond to world threats- whether climate change, peak oil, health care, financial regulation, water scarcity, rampant militarism social justice, etc. The Republican party is now in the hands of extremists who are bankrupt both morally and in the realm of ideas. Corporate America dominates the Republican party. The Democratic party consists of a progressive wing that is ready for bold change and a moderate/conservative wing that enforces corporate interests not unlike the Republican party, but does so under the guise of a helping hand.

Perhaps we are looking at the beginning of a third party. A progressive party that would truly represent the interest of workers, minorities, woman, etc. One that would never accept a Barack Obama as its leader- a man who equivocates on almost every issue and has no understanding of how to effect his campaign slogan- real change.

Some would argue that splitting the Democratic party would result in a right wing majority- with the coalescing of Republicans and right leaning Democrats into one party. However, the truth is that we already in effect have this. What a separate party would do is become a rallying point to those that believe in meaningful change. Right now- there is nothing.

There may be no way to avoid an even deeper crisis than exists now. Perhaps this is the only way that the American people would fully turn over the reins to genuine progressives. Sadly, by the time that crisis is reached- the damage to the environment and the economy may be too much to recover from. The United States is not the United States of post World War II. Its domination of the world's economic system and ultimately its military domination will end in the coming decades. Responsible and bold action now could lessen and soften the fall- unfortunately this is unlikely to take place. The United States is in very deep trouble. The concept of American exceptionalism is a joke- it is now and it always has been. 


Health Care Reform American Style

Yesterday the House passed a health care bill, that while containing valuable reforms, can be legitimately be called a give-away to the insurance industry. However, you will have this argument rarely raised by its opponents, because they, by and large, are bought off by the insurance lobby.

Yet what is seemingly new and most striking is the inclusion in the bill of a provision that denies abortion coverage for those woman who are least able to afford it. What is equally striking is the support given to this provision by "moderate" Democrats- the Democratic party being a party whose platform is pro-choice. Even more Orwellian is the fact, that without this punitive, potentially unconstitutional provision, the bill would not have passed in the first place.

And now we have this bill advancing to the more "conservative" Senate. I can almost imagine the new discriminatory amendments that will be offered. Unfortunately, coverage will still be offered to white men over 50- the group probably the most responsible for provisions that discriminate against woman, immigrants and anyone else they can think of that offers red meat to their equally bigoted constituents.

In any case, I almost want to take my hat off (if I wore one), to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. If this is the best they can do with this group- it may speak less to their inadequacies and more to the uncompassionate, bought and sold who walk the halls of the Capitol.

So here it is: health care reform minus woman's rights. Congratulations.

And there's even more: Drug Makers Raise Prices in Face of Health Care Reform & Study: Injured Uninsured More Likely (2X as likely) to Die in ER, NY Times, 11/16/2009.

Perhaps members of Congress and the Executive branch should be forced to go without health care coverage. Perhaps then they would develop enough empathy to pass a bill that insures all Americans- instead of leaving thirteen to seventeen million people out in the cold. Again, maybe they should be forced to pay back to the Treasury the millions they receive in lobbyist's bribes. Then perhaps, instead of a 70 billion dollar windfall for the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry, we would have a 70 billion dollar windfall for the average American.


Abortion

The Right attempts to monopolize the issue of abortion. They have taken a difficult and complex issue and have reduced it to slogans and in the process have done nothing or little to protect the rights of the unborn and mothers. Woman will have abortions whether they are legal or not. What woman need is support- basic political, legal and economic rights. They need to live in communities that care about them and their families. They need to be empowered to make the right decisions regarding their body. Instead of working towards the empowerment of woman- the Right has worked to restrict their legal right to an abortion. By so doing, they cause more not fewer deaths and have abandoned their moral obligation to society- replacing it with violence against woman, doctors, clinics and government workers.


The Laughable and Dangerous Republican Right

Michelle Bachmann touted that her health care rally last week had 20K-40K people, when it had at best 4,000. Newt Gingrich and extremist Governor Rick Perry proclaimed Texas the model for health care reform- when the state has the highest percentage of uninsured in the country. Senator James Inhofe proclaimed that global warming is a hoax and plans on sending "truth" squad emissaries to Copenhagen. Joe Liebermann (an independent) proclaimed the recent Fort Hood killings as an Islamic terrorist attack- further inflaming hatreds and prejudice against Muslims. Congressman Buyer takes large sums from big Pharma and tobacco, starts a foundation that appears to be nothing more than a front for receiving under the table contributions from the very same and then votes in their favor- all the time. All of these "fringe" figures would be laughable except for three reasons: (1) A large percentage of citizens believe the big lie and are gullible enough to vote and act on corporate manipulated half truths; (2) During tougher economic times extremists become more powerful and influential and (3) The Republican party does not appear to have any moderates left- with people like Cantor and Pawlenty sounding almost as extreme as the Palin's and Bachmann's of the world. Finally this fringe element while appearing populist is really heavily backed by large corporate interests such as oil and gas, pharma, Wall Street and health care. These corporate interests use the Right as a populist front for promoting their own interests. As such, the political system smacks more and more of fascism- a corporate controlled political system. 


The Adherence to International Law

In a world threatened by nuclear, chemical and biological threats-  a world faced with hunger; contaminated, dwindling water supplies; resource scarcity; toxic environments and climate change- nothing is more important than the adherence to international law. The United States, Israel, Russia and other great nations have forgotten this. Instead they have practiced gross violations of international law in the pursuit of what they consider self defense and the projection of power.

What is required is not just the abstention from the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, but also a respect for other nations and the planet. The unbridled use of conventional force has, for example, the potential to create situations that encourage the use of weapons of mass destruction. When nations see their economies wrecked by over consumption and environmental collapse- their recourse must not be to invade other countries or regions of the world. The response to terrorism must not be disproportionate. Nor can nations conveniently violate laws- for example, through the use of killing drones that are nothing more than assassination machines.

Paramount in the adherence to international law is the respect for the lives of civilians. Policies that target civilian populations because they may contain "terrorists," are illegal and immoral.

It may difficult for global superpowers such as the United States or regional superpowers such as Israel to understand that whatever short term gain may appear to take place through breaking international law, is negated a thousand fold by the response of other nations and groups to their actions. 

The Afghanistan War is another test for the Obama administration on whether it can demonstrate a true respect for international law and the rights of a country's citizens or whether it is committed to destructive empire building and projection of power as the Bush administration was in Iraq. If the later, the results will be not only destructive for the people in the region, but also for the United States.

It is not too simple to say that what goes around- comes around. Those nations and groups who violate international law, do so at their own peril. It is naive to think otherwise.


Binding Treaty No Longer a Realistic Goal for Climate Summit, UN Chief Concedes, 11/4/2009

Egregious & criminal- the triumph of the stupid and cowardly...Labor? Students? Minorities? Socialists? Environmentalists? Human rights advocates? Consumer Advocates? Are you there? Do you care?

Wait... Climate change- mass extinction, drought, death...Is that motivating enough? Wall Street billion dollar bonuses while tax payer money is still in their coffers? Corporate health care- no public option- no cost control- major loop holes? Congressional resolutions that are outright lies? Gross militarism? Deliberate catering to the fascist right (who don't even know their fascists) to justify watered down policies that cater to corporations.

What exactly is the left waiting for? Give Obama a chance? Nader is right on. Fire in the belly.

Push Congress? Lobby harder than the opposition? Civil disobedience? Yes- but more the ability to face the truth, speak the truth and pay the price for doing so...


The Crass, Stupid and Vain

Glenn Beck, Russ Limbaugh, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin and other pundits and/or political lightweights have been promoting verbal and/or political violence. By doing so, they not only discredit their political party, but more importantly demonstrate their true humanity and what they truly serve. And what do they truly serve? No one else but themselves.

I adhere to the belief that there is a truth and that people can be called what I have called those men and woman if it corresponds with reality. Political correctness is much over rated. Calling these people well meaning is possibly true, but a meaningless statement. Does the word "misguided" sound better? Does that word convey the effect these people have on our lives and well being? Perhaps my use of these words is itself an act of violence- then so be it.
 

Bigotry in Maine, November 2009

In a close vote, Maine voters repealed a state law Tuesday that allowed same-sex couples to wed.

In my opinion this is a triumph- however brief- for bigotry. Brief, because the demographics of this country are changing and in a couple of decades or less, LGBT citizens shall have the right to marry and/or have nationally recognized domestic partnerships that effectively confer upon them all human, legal and property rights of straight couples.

Never should the majority have the right to revoke a minority's constitutional right for equal protection under the law. For those who have (or have not) read the US Constitution, the 14th Amendment says:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

What this anti-LGBT victory points to is the failure of our courts to protect LGBT citizens- relegating them to a second class status. It also underscores the weakness of our President, who refused to actively oppose the repeal effort. It further reinforces the need for the LGBT political movement to mobilize and end the illusion that they can obtain equal rights by melding into the "system." The movement needs to fight along side movements that support worker's rights, environmental rights, human rights, racial equality, woman's equality, etc. The denial of rights to one minority group is in fact a denial of rights to all minorities.


Virginia's New Governor Bob McDonnell, 11/2009

"In 1989, McDonnell wrote a 1989 93-page thesis for Regent, titled The Republican Party's Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of The Decade. The document explored the rise in the numbers of divorces and illegitimate births, and examined public policies that may have contributed to that increase and proposed solutions.

The document gained attention in the campaign because of the 15-point agenda it outlined, including 10 points McDonnell pursued during his years in the General Assembly, according to press analysis.[27] This agenda includes opposition to abortion and support for school vouchers, and tax policies that favor heterosexual families. In the work, McDonnell argues for covenant marriage, a "legally distinct type of marriage intended to make it more difficult to obtain a divorce".[28]

In his thesis, McDonnell said "government policy should favor married couples over 'cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.'"[29] McDonnell also "described working women and feminists as 'detrimental' to the family."[30] McDonnell also "criticized a landmark 1965 Supreme Court decision" which legalized the use of contraceptives by married couples. In the thesis, McDonnell argued for the use of government intervention on societal issues, writing that "man’s basic nature is inclined towards evil, and when the exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse, or homosexuality, the government must restrain, punish, and deter."- Bob McDonnell Wikipedia article


Comment: McDonnell wrote this thesis at the age of 35. There is little evidence that he has disavowed any of the views he expressed. An uninformed and indifferent American electorate strikes again. Nor did the New Jersey electorate do much better.


Geo-engineering, Nuclear Energy, Gaia & Solving Problems

When I solve problems, I uncover solutions that address current needs, but more importantly I am informed by a vision that anticipates future needs. I work with what is known, what is possible and what is necessary.

The Gaia Hypothesis speaks of the earth as a living organism- one with its own needs, defenses and adaptations to survive. Beyond the Gaia Hypothesis is the notion of the Earth as a spiritual being- a conscious entity- merged and separate from our own. The two views are in fact complementary. Human beings are not simply biological beings- but also spiritual- the Earth is the same.

Never before in recorded history has man been faced with the responsibility for the survival of his own species and all others on this planet. This is the most critical juncture in human history since the dawn of civilization. Those alive today, bare a responsibility for shaping the direction of humanity and all life.

The Earth as spirit- is crying out. You do not have to believe me- I experience it in as real a way as most of you experience ordinary reality. She is crying not for her own life- but for the life of what is upon her- for the mountains, trees, plants, animals, oceans and human beings. She is crying because she knows that a great destruction is upon us. There is no limit to her love or her compassion- yet she knows that that the changes that are now being forced upon her may destroy what she loves the most.

The Earth as a biological being will react strongly to what is taking place. Ultimately she will do what is necessary to restore balance and insure her survival. She will behave as she has in the past- in past epochs of great geological and climate change- of planetary disaster.

I am receiving two messages from the Earth. One is that in our role as problem solvers we must stop the production of global warming gases and stop the poisoning of nature.. To do this we may need to consider nuclear energy or even geo-engineering- altering the world's climate through artificial means- though no less artificial than the ways we have already altered it. We must do this very, very quickly using any acceptable and reasonable means at our disposal. Geo-engineering is quite frankly frightening- the science seems primitive, the outcomes dangerous and even less predictable than climate change itself. However, we must be prepared for what is needed to allow for the survival of life as we know it.

Yet the spiritual side says that this period of suffering is an opportunity for growth. That industrialization is a form of violence that is destroying not only the environment, but our humanity. That this crisis is a warning and a plea to come back to a balanced, sustainable way of living. Of one that is in direct spiritual connection with the universe. As our sky clears from pollution, so will our reconnection with who we are as spiritual beings.

So, we must face this crisis with practical responses (which may include nuclear energy and geo-engineering), spiritual underpinnings and a fundamental commitment to non-violence. If we take the path of violence- then we will destroy ourselves well before climate change threatens our destruction. Violence is not inherent in what it means to be human. It is not part of the ebb and flow of creation and destruction. Destruction in the universe leads to birth and creation. Violence leads to nothing- to an abyss.

The power elites are betting on the abyss. This is how they obtained their power and the have difficulty seeing another blueprint- another way. They must be wrong or there will not be a way.


Coal River Mountain Emergency: Sit-Ins-Funeral March Erupt at EPA/JP Morgan Chase Offices Across Nation


Just the Beginning...


Canadian Climate Protesters Disrupt House of Commons Question Period, 10/26/2009

We live in a word that conservative estimates now say must have a 97% reduction in C02 emissions to 1990 levels by 2050 to avert global disaster. Where action must take place today- not a decade from today.

Yet- the global disaster is taking place NOW!  Australia and parts of Africa are in drought. Large parts of Bangladesh and the South Pacific islands will soon be under water. Hurricanes and tropical storms are growing in severity. A distinct species of animal or plant becomes extinct every 20 minutes- resulting in this being one of the six great periods of mass extinction. The ice caps are melting, sea levels are on the rise, the oceans are growing in acidity, coral reefs will soon be completely dead and the permafrost is melting- releasing methane- a global warming gas 21X more powerful than C02. The rainforests- whether in Indonesia, the Amazon or Papua New Guinea- may become deserts- all for a few days of oil, a few acres of soy or palm oil production or a few ounces of red meat.

No sane individual, with a grasp of reality, disputes that these changes are man-made. The developed nations contribute to over 70% of CO2 emissions. Industrial agriculture contributes more to global warming than cars. Global water and food supplies are under severe threat- in part due to climate change. Even after decades of warning, treaties like Kyoto, with carbon trading- have had little impact on solving the problem. European nations have not met their carbon reduction goals, and the United States has increased its per capita carbon emissions. China and India refuse to set emissions caps and intend to exploit their vast coal reserves- burning the planet along with themselves.

Finally, there is no optimistic scenario- no leapfrog-no technology that can quickly reverse global warming and its consequences. Yet our leaders sit almost idly by as these changes take place. Individual nations are left to pursue their own policies. Legislators water down proposed legislation, even going so far as to create a new class of climate change/third world debt derivatives.

Well, do not think young people or elders will sit idly buy. Do not think the protests will not grow. Never has there been a time that does not cry out more for civil resistance, civil disobedience, more protests, more disruptions. If the citizens of the planet do not take a stand, then there may be nothing left to stand on except a planet machine that is lifeless and that has consumed everything in it path- including us.

One last thing. There are solutions. Some like to go into their shells and speak of hopelessness. Some on the Christian side speak of the Apocalypse. Some visionless leaders speak of political reality- not being able to see beyond their campaign coffers or army of sycophants. This is all dross. It is nothing more than an evasion of responsibility and a denial of reality. The words of an addict that would rather die and doom others than give up his addiction. What right do we have to shirk our responsibilities- locking future generations in a dismal future that was not of their own choosing.


Letter to a Friend...

There is a fundamental dichotomy in the way we think. You seem to subscribe to the view that if people just did….. then problems would be solved. That the bulk of people are well meaning and if they were informed they would do…..

Really all of the issues I have shared with you, including climate change and vegetarianism (which I agree with you on), are a result of the human propensity for violence, whether towards each other, towards animals, towards nature, etc.. Violence that is perpetuated from generation to generation, from family to family and within families.

The great destruction that I have written about earlier, has been occurring for a long time. The destruction of cultures, eradication of species, the killing of men, woman and children by greedy, irresponsible global corporations, genocide, war, etc. -has and will continue. Yet until the machine grinds to a halt, the level of pain and destruction will continue to grow in magnitude, as the planet loses its ability to sustain life.

While in the last article, I alluded to solutions- the truth is the solution is within ourselves. Civil disobedience informed by compassion is intended to change consciousness and weaken the propensity for violence by causing people to face the consequences of their actions. Changing personal habits- while contributing to the change in consciousness (or perhaps a byproduct of it), is not sufficient by itself to create transformative change.


The Coming World Economic Meltdown

"...So the combined effect of the Fed policy of a zero Fed funds rate, quantitative easing and massive purchase of long-term debt instruments is seemingly making the world safe – for now – for the mother of all carry trades and mother of all highly leveraged global asset bubbles."

"...This unraveling may not occur for a while, as easy money and excessive global liquidity can push asset prices higher for a while. But the longer and bigger the carry trades and the larger the asset bubble, the bigger will be the ensuing asset bubble crash. The Fed and other policymakers seem unaware of the monster bubble they are creating. The longer they remain blind, the harder the markets will fall."- Economist Nouriel Roubini

Comment: What does Nouriel know that Obama and Geithner do not- plenty. While Geithner contributed to creating the world's current economic crisis- Roubini predicted it.


US Congress Murdering the Truth- What else is new?

In a fascist state the truth has no particular merit. All that matters is the accumulation and use of political power by the military-industrial-governmental complex to influence, control and corrupt. On Tuesday the US Congress will pass a resolution condemning the UN Report on War Crimes in Gaza. It will assert, falsely, that Judge Goldstone's mandate for the report was biased (Judge Goldstone wrote his own mandate- he was not pressured by the UN Human Rights Commission). It will deny the irrefutable evidence of the murdering of Gaza civilians and systematic destruction of life sustaining infrastructure. It will condemn Hamas while ignoring Israel's disproportionate use of force to punish the people of Gaza for electing Hamas leaders. It will perpetuate lies in an effort to appease a powerful lobby that does not have Israel's best interests in mind or the true interests of peace. See: Democratic House To Pass Resolution Defending Israel's Actions in Gaza War on Tuesday, 10/31/20098.


Interview with Malalai Joya, 10/16/2009

Comment: There is nothing that Malalai Joya writes or speaks about Afghanistan that is not the truth. Her perspective is as one among the people. Yet it is unlikely her voice will be heard by Presidents and War Lords. But her voice is one of truth and over time the Afghan people will fulfill her vision- their vision- as a land free of foreign occupiers and corrupt war lords- as a democracy and a place of individual freedom for all. See also, Scott Ritter's piece: McChrystal Doesn’t Get It—Does Obama?. As for Obama- he better get it- for the sake of his Presidency and more importantly the country.
 

Obama signs Hate Crimes Prevention Act, 10/28/2009

"President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law this afternoon. It is the first pro-gay legislation to pass Congress since Stonewall and passed after 14 separate Congressional floor votes."

“...We appreciate everyone who worked so hard on this bill. My son was taken at such an early age and we hope this law will help prevent other families from going through what we experienced,” said Stella Byrd, mother of James Byrd. “Even though we’re different colors and different sexual orientations or gender identities, God made us all and he loves us all.”

Comment: The passage of this bill is a victory for the LGBT community and the nation as a whole.


Betrayal Joe, 10/28/2009

I really don't understand this. Senator Lieberman owes his chairmanship of the Home Land & Governmental Security Committee to the Senate leadership. Wasn't Lieberman required to be loyal to the democratic leadership as a condition of his chairmanship? All Senator Reid is asking is that he help block a Republican filibuster and allow the full Senate to vote on health care. Why isn't the President and the Senate leadership demanding loyalty as a condition of his chairmanship?

Where in the constitution does it say, a bill must pass with a 60 vote majority? If the later is the case- then why not an 80 vote majority- further paralyzing an already dangerously ineffective government.

The public option that Lieberman opposes is supported by 70% of his constituents. Is he so tied to the insurance lobby that he would sell the country out?

Is this going to be the fate of climate change legislation? Why is our leadership so spineless? What do they have to fear? Are their own political futures so precious, they would sacrifice doing what they know is right for the sake of expediency?


Leaderless: Senate Pushes For Public Option Without Obama's Support, 10/25/2009

If in fact, Obama is undermining the growing support for a public health insurance option, this will confirm what Robert Reich wrote a few weeks ago:

"...But last January, the White House made a Faustian bargain with Big Pharma and Big Insurance, essentially scuttling both of these profit-squeezing mechanisms in return for these industries' agreement not to oppose healthcare legislation with platoons of lobbyists and millions of dollars of TV ads, and Pharma's willingness to cut drug prices by some $80 billion over the next ten years. The White House promised these industries they'd come out way ahead -- getting tens of millions of new customers who'd be buying private health insurance policies and thereby paying for an almost endless supply of new drugs. Healthcare reform would be, in short, a bonanza..." -Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, 9/29/2009.


Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A, 10/27/2009

“...If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves,” said Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan."



Ellsberg: From Vietnam to Afghanistan,10/25/2009

Comment: Ellsberg's cogent analysis is that McCrystal''s proposed military/civilian strategy will fail. The only viable option is withdrawal of Coalition troops. I agree with him. If Obama pursues a troop build-up of 40K-80K troops, Afghanistan will become a greater quagmire with much greater loss of American lives. 600-700K combined Afghan/Coalition troops might, according to Ellsberg, wage a successful counterinsurgency- however the chances of this taking place are slim to none. The corrupt Kabul government will never be able to garner the level of support in the country to make this possible.
 

The Egregious Remarks of Vice-President Cheney

Recently former Vice-President Cheney made the comment that Obama is "dithering" with Afghanistan- probably referring to the President's delay in announcing any force or strategy changes until there was a thorough policy review.

Yet, Mr. Cheney's track record bares repeating. General McCrystal has stated that our Afghanistan strategy has failed over the last nine years. The unpopular Taliban have grown greatly in power and influence in the region. The Afghan government is among the most corrupt in the world. Who was dithering when this took place?

We shifted focus from the war in Afghanistan to Iraq. We justified the invasion of Iraq knowingly under false pretenses, which is a violation of international law. We have lost over 4,000 troops in Iraq and millions of Iraqi's have died.  We declared victory a few weeks after the Iraq invasion and by so doing emboldened our enemies. Our take over/administration of Iraq after the initial military invasion was among the most incompetent, corrupt and costly in the history of military occupation. Our practice of torture has helped recruit more terrorists than Al Qaeda ever could. We have squandered our treasury and over extended our military- fighting an enemy (terrorism) that has no national borders and cannot be fought by invading countries- which however, is exactly what we did.

We have pursued an illegal, immoral strategy that has caused countless deaths- and the Vice-President talks about... dithering.
 

The Chamber of Commerce (Fools)

The recent Yes Man hoax regarding the Chamber of Commerce's position on climate change exposes the true nature of the organization. According to the Chairman of PG&E, Peter Darbee:

"We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored,” Darbee wrote. “In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another.”

Also joining PG&E is Exxon (that's right Exxon), Apple, Nike and others.

This is in addition to the Chamber's apparent grossly exaggerated statements about its direct membership numbers. Apparently the chamber states that its membership includes 3,000,000 businesses when in fact it is closer to 300,000- a difference of 10X. The 3 million represent "federated members." These federated members apparently cannot elect the board or leadership, set policies, etc.

Despite what appears to be a recent shift in position as a result of these major defections- is it so surprising that an organization whose leadership is in denial about something as basic as its membership numbers, would also be in denial about something as important and fundamental to the survival of life as climate change? The Chamber of Commerce is not the only organization permeated by lies.


Dominion over the Earth

Some Christians believe that according to the Bible, man has dominion over the Earth. If you accept that man has dominion, you must also accept that man has responsibility to every living thing. That a kingdom that is divided, that fails to protect the weak, that fails to care for all of its citizens is a kingdom that has abdicated its right to exist.


Obama and Science

President Obama makes a big deal of the importance of not letting political ideology affect the application of science in governmental policy. In fact, his administration has made strides in this area compared to the abject record of the Bush administration.

Yet, if Mr. Obama sticks to his words, then he must recognize what the science is saying about climate change. But if this is the case, why is his administration now in the process of dismantling Kyoto and replacing it with a voluntary system that has a snowballs chance in hell of working, or perhaps I should say, the hell that will be created if he continues in this direction.


Tense

In some discussions of global warming, environmental destruction and human rights violations there is the use of the future tense, i.e., if we do this, we will cause this. Well, forget the exclusive use of the future tense. Rather, say we are doing this, it is causing this and if we continue like this we will...
 

Banning the Automobile

If I make the statement that we should ban all automobiles- perhaps with a five year phase in period, I am not making a radical statement. Americans identify their personal freedom with the automobile. Many Americans are aggressive, impatient and irresponsible behind the wheel. They buy expensive and gas guzzling SUVs to transport themselves. Some even drive Hummers to make a social statement. They believe that cheap gasoline is an entitlement. Every day American cities are choked with automobiles containing one driver- dutifully and aggressively trying to get to work by 8:00 AM. Americans zip onto air planes without thought to the environment. They tow enormous campers to national parks in order to "enjoy" nature and in the process go about destroying it. They have designed their communities around the automobile. They have forgotten how to share things in community or when possible grow food locally.

Yes, banning the automobile would be very difficult for some. Seniors may have to travel in small community buses to do shopping or visit the doctor. Special care must be given to the sick and disabled. More and more things would have to be done at home. Family members would have to learn to communicate with each other. Public transportation will need to be significantly improved and expanded. The list goes on. But do you want to know the truth? Despite the fact that Americans would fight a ban on automobiles like the prohibition on alcohol in the 1920's (both being destructive addictions)- the truth is that the automobile is already dead- it contributes and perpetuates an unsustainable life style. If we kill it now rather than later, we have a chance of making an orderly transition to more sustainable communities. If we wait, we will be forced do so when global warming is out of control and we may literally have no place to travel to while living in communities that cannot function.

Make no mistake- our machines control us- not the other way around. We have created this Earth machine organism that only knows how to consume and destroy anything that gets in its way. And when it is done- we will be its victims. And, given how we have behaved as a species- perhaps this will be an odd kind of justice. Yet, I pray we can avoid this fate.

What's good for Goldman Sachs is bad for America (Good for Wall Street): Socialized Risk, Privatized Gain; Heads they win, tails the rest of us lose

Another Goldman Executive Named to Key Government Post as Its Profits Skyrocket, 10/17,2009

Comments: Apparently the Obama administration is so shameless, they would allow their top campaign contributor (Goldman Sachs) to :

Oversee the financial rescue by TARP and the US Treasury- managing the movement of trillions of tax payer dollars to the financial services sector.

Appoint a former Goldman Sachs executive as chief operating officer of the SEC's enforcement division.


Fully implement the policies of their former CEO, Henry Paulson- appointed Secretary of the Treasury under George Bush.


Appoint Tim Geithner as Obama's Secretary of the Treasury- a protégé of Larry Summers and Robert Rubin (27 year veteran of Goldman Sachs, including co-chairman).

Appoint Gary Gensler  from Goldman Sachs, to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Have unfettered and frequent access to the Secretary of the Treasury.

Record record profits during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Provide record bonuses to their employees. Perpetuating the "fair" distribution of income, where the top 1% own as much as the "bottom" 95%- all the while producing (in the case of Goldman and others) nothing of any real economic value.

Of course Goldman cannot directly appoint federal officials- they do this through their lobbying efforts and domination of Congress and the executive branch. Since they play such a pivotal role in the world economy, perhaps they should be nationalized- with the argument being that they are too big to fail. Others have suggested (jokingly?) that Goldman do a leveraged buyout of the US Treasury Department.

See also: Obama's Big Sellout The president has packed his economic team with Wall Street insiders intent on turning the bailout into an all-out giveaway, 12/13/2009- This article makes a very compelling case that Bill Rubin and his web of influence is what dictates US economic policy. However, I don't remember electing Bill Rubin President. Do you? But who did we really elect to be President?

When a consummate insider like Paul Volcker expresses warnings about lack of regulation, too Big to Fail, repeal of Glass-Steagall, structural unemployment and future economic bubbles- you know you are exposing just the tip of the iceberg.

Some have commented that criticizing Obama, or expressing disillusionment is a waste of time- an exercise in folly. However, while I agree it is no excuse for inaction- it is still very important. Exposing the truth, as this article does, is a very powerful elixir for motivating people to act with conviction. In the case of this article- it confirms the rottenness of the Administration and explains why jobs and keeping people in their homes will never be a priority- NEVER....

Fritz Hollings, former Senator from South Carolina wrote:

"The economy is in the hands of Summers, Bernanke and Geithner. Campaign contributions are in the hands of David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel. The poor President is smart, diligent and working his head off campaigning. But he is inexperienced and not governing, and the Congress is in a Mexican standoff over an archaic filibuster rule that reveres democracy by the minority.

Of course, the media, which knows this and keeps it top secret, is owned by big business.

If I don't meet you in the breadline, my children will."


What Irks the Right about Rachel Maddow

Former President George H. Bush recently made a reasoned plea for civility towards President Obama. At the same time he saw fit to attack Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann as "sick puppies." The contradiction of calling for civility and then demonstrating incivility was apparently lost on the former President- who at one time helped bring men, such as the later repentant, Lee Atwater into the political mainstream. The reason why Rachel Maddow irks the right is simple- she reports the truth and the truth threatens entrenched power whose strength rests on deception.

Glenn Beck preaches hatred and violence. Rachel Maddow is angered and saddened by words and actions that preach violence and that poison the political debate. She fears what the implication of this violence is for political discourse in America.

In this context, the words of Lee Atwater bare repeating:

"My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The '80s were about acquiring — acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn't I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn't I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don't know who will lead us through the '90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul."


ADL hails House passage of hate-crimes bill, 10/9/2009

Is this enough to get the Senate to pass a hate crimes bill that protects LGBT and disabled Americans? How many more senseless beatings and deaths will it take?

Comment: Great news! Congress extends hate crime protections to the LGBT community, 10/24/2009


Afghanistan and US Foreign Policy


If President Obama is to do the nation service in his review of US Afghanistan policy, he must advocate less a change of tactics but rather, make clear what our strategic objectives are in the region. Put succinctly, is our mission one of nation building and/or preventing the reemergence of Al Qaeda, the former which may be unachievable and the later achievable by other means, with our continued military presence even encouraging the spread of terrorism. Also, it is unclear if the American people would support a nation building effort given its duration and cost in lives and money. 

Al Qaeda no longer has a presence in Afghanistan. Popular support for the Taliban appears to have grown since the Coalition counter insurgency. The Kabul government is extremely corrupt and controls less than one-third of the country. Support within the Coalition is eroding. Civilian and military causalities continue to mount and there is growing animosity towards Coalition forces- who are increasingly perceived as occupiers and murderers of civilians. Pakistan, a country possessing nuclear arms, is increasing unstable- in part because of resistance triggered by the Coalition presence in Afghanistan. The human rights track record in Afghanistan since the end of Taliban rule has been mixed.

Most indicators of Afghan support for Coalition policies are in decline. Obama is justified in reevaluating current policies. Continuation of the current policies appear to be doomed to failure and may further destabilize the country and the region.

General McCrystal, a major proponent of more US troops and strategic changes in policy, sometimes couches US policy in vague and equivocal terms, for example: a 'War of information," or "Right tactics and strategy are never clear in a country dominated by subtle tradition and tribal interests," or "Our principal goal should be to protect the Afghan people." While all of these things may be true, can they translate into effective policy or are they implicitly making the case that a foreign presence can not succeed in nation building in a country as diverse, tribal, spread out, primitive (from an infrastructure standpoint) and complex as Afghanistan?

Nation building is generally a failing enterprise and the chances of success in Afghanistan are unclear. Further, is the role of nation building even appropriate? While we clearly have an interest in controlling Al Qaeda's presence in the region- is this not better achieved with monitoring and surgical military strikes versus nation building? Isn't nation building really up to the Afghan people? Are we helping build a true democracy or a repressive regime? Finally, are our apparent assumptions correct? Will a US withdrawal result in the Taliban taking control of the country? If the later occurs, will it result in a resurgence of Al Qaeda? Is our presence in Afghanistan strengthening or weakening the Pakistani government and destabilizing the region?  Are we effectively recruiting more terrorists by being increasingly perceived as the aggressor?


On the Current State of Affairs...


The solutions to our problems are not simple. The US spends more on military spending that the rest of the world combined. We have, by far, the highest incarceration rate in the world. Our foreign policy, often in violation of international law, has been responsible for the unnecessary deaths of many millions of men, woman and children- whether it is Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq or Afghanistan. The United States is almost alone among developed nations in not ratifying Kyoto and is by far the largest emitter of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.

The American people bare a large part of the responsibility for this state of affairs. If these things are to change- than there needs to mass civil resistance and disobedience in the US. Of course, this presumes enough people actually care and are willing to risk imprisonment. One should also not underestimate the high level of reactionary politics- people who have something will often defend a system that is oppressive to them for fear of losing what little they have and/or for the slight chance they can rise to the top of the pyramid. Perhaps it will take a complete economic, environmental and political collapse to cause people to wake up- and by then the situation may be unsalvageable.

While the hope is that this protest movement is non-violent- given the oppressive nature of this government- violence is likely and some may need to sacrifice their lives. The various environmental and social justice groups across the globe need to put aside their difference and combine forces. The pursuit of environmental justice is not different from the pursuit of social justice and human rights. All of these groups need to be far more strategic and coordinated than they have been in the past. What is needed is a full pronged “attack.”

In short, we need a peaceful revolution. What is most striking about today’s situation is the gross disparity between the deterioration of the planet’s environment and the world’s food and water systems- and the level of response from government. We need a general state of unease and a sense of urgency among those who are awake. We need less to intellectualize than to feel empathetically what is taking place. We need less despair and more concerted actions in groups and communities across the globe. There is no doubt that we can accomplish far more in groups than as individuals. We need to unleash our creativity in forming a better world.

Finally, some of the strongest agents for change exist outside the United States. We all must join forces to bring about fundamental change.


Arctic seas turn to acid, putting vital food chain at risk, 10/4/2009

Carbon-dioxide emissions are turning the waters of the Arctic Ocean into acid at an unprecedented rate, scientists have discovered. Research carried out in the archipelago of Svalbard has shown in many regions around the north pole seawater is likely to reach corrosive levels within 10 years. The water will then start to dissolve the shells of mussels and other shellfish and cause major disruption to the food chain. By the end of the century, the entire Arctic Ocean will be corrosively acidic.


Strategies to Address Global Warming & Is Sundance Kid a Criminal, Jim Hansen, 7/2009?

Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.


Obama at the Crossroads

The President is at a cross roads with the American people. He is now faced with two basic choices. When will lead to greater initial challenge and eventual strong public support, the other will lead to a precipitous drop in public support- with very little hope for recovery.

Yet the road he chooses depends in part on what he really stands for. In this regard there are two schools of thought. One says that the President is really a progressive. He wants strong banking reform, strong climate change & health care legislation, etc. However, because of fear, the desire for bipartisanship, lack of vocal public support or the evils of Washington, he is unable to deliver this kind of change- so he settles on incremental steps- arguing that something is better than nothing. This school of though challenges him on his notion of governance and believes that the President should be bold and strong. They have a faith that the American people- when given the truth will act responsibly and support policies that are in their own best interest.

Another school of thought is that Obama really isn't a progressive. They argue that his supporters pre and post election have been large financial and health care companies. They took notice that his Secretary of Treasury and Chief economic advisors came from the ranks of those who helped bring about the financial crisis we are in. That he is essentially a prop for these companies and his lofty rhetoric is meant more to deceive the average American and protect the oligarchy than bring about right action. They point out that the record foreclosure rate is proof that he supports corporations over the average American.

If the President is really a progressive then he must act boldly-now. Whatever initial opposition he encounters will wither if his polices prove to be sound. If he fails to act boldly, he will perceived as weak and his popularity and effectiveness will continue to decline.

If the President is not a progressive, and for example, in the words of Howard Dean, is crafting a health plan that Bush would like, i.e., that heavily favors corporate interests, he should continue on his current path. However, eventually his true intentions will be known and his popularity will precipitously decline and will not recover.

I want to believe that the President is a principled, progressive leader. I understand he and his administration has been confronted with much in a very brief span of time. I also recognize that strategy takes time to formulate and that his predecessor left him little to work with. However, I am concerned that their is such a disparity between his actions and words that either with or without justification the American people will perceive him as hypocritical and dishonest. Sometimes I feel this way, however it is difficult for me to walk in his shoes. However I am confident that the choice he faces is real. Concessionary President or leader?
 

Alan Grayson- Right On and Why...

Congressman Alan Grayson said yesterday that the Republican health care plan consists of two parts: (1) People not getting sick and (2) If they do get sick-they should die soon. The truth is he was essentially correct. Health care costs are spiraling at a rate that if continued, will make health care unaffordable for the majority of Americans. The only way this can be effectively curbed under the current system is to reduce the number of people that get sick (reduce claims) or for those who get sick- pay out less. I am not even certain reducing claims will drive down costs.

Republicans, by not playing an active role in health care reform have failed the American people. Democrats- by proposing reforms that do not effectively control costs in the long run, have also failed average Americans. The President, by not firmly supporting a public health insurance option, has continued policies of corporate socialism begun in the Bush administration-lining the pockets of Aetna, Cigna and Humana versus protecting the public against corporate irresponsibility and abuse. Increasingly his rhetoric on this issue seems empty and cynical.

Look at it this way. How many Americans would like to privatize police protection? Fire fighting? Education? Food and drug protection? How many Americans would think it is fair that the level of police protection is dependent on one's income? Imagine what it would be like if private companies performed these functions. Imagine the level of abuse, lack of public oversight, unfairness and the untold deaths that would result. Yet our politicians feel this is acceptable with regards to health care.

Death panels- the death panels in this country are the corporate Boards of Directors who determine the percentage of claims that will be paid, executive compensation and their company's overall gross profit. Profit and death are two sides of the same coin in America.
 

Climate Change- Times Up

Sorry those on the right that can't see a truth if it strikes them with lightening- no time for your learning to take place- direct your poisons and apocalyptic vision elsewhere. Sorry, moderates who believe in gradualism- no time for incremental change- the tea party is over. Sorry, Americans- I would love to gradually convince more of you of the reality of climate change- a few more newscasts- a few more documentaries- times up- you will either participate in change or join the fate of those on the Titanic- sink. No time for glib political pronouncements from talking heads that can't think- go back to school and take a Logic 101 class. Sorry global capitalists - you will externalize your costs at the price of destruction of your systems. Start lobbying for more change, quicker. Scare your weak partners in the military industrial complex- offer them even better revolving door deals- do whatever you need to do.

No -times up. Reduce global warming gases by 90+% very, very quickly- protect the Earth's water- end the destruction of species.

Cassandra- really. What Nobel laureate disagrees with me? What percentage of climate scientists challenge what I have said. Cassandra- WAKE UP!

You may actually find upon waking up that community is possible. You may actually become happier and wealthier. You may actually begin a spiritual renaissance. You may actually realize how much you are a part of life on this Earth- how unimaginably loved you are.

Again, your time is up. Your luck has run out. I can assure you their is no inevitability in the perpetuation of a corrupt and unsustainable system. I can assure you that the materialistic definition of greatness is dead. The militaristic definition is dead. It is already dead. The margin of error isn't working on your side. It's going the other way- things keep getting worse, the primitive climate model's predictions get worse. Primitive, because climate is a chaotic system- it can't be totally predicted- but it can be predicted enough. There are no degrees of holocaust.

If you have Darwinian bent then know this- species that do not adapt- perish. This is the way it is. Your children may not have a future... that you would want.


Men that do not speak the truth

"...But last January, the White House made a Faustian bargain with Big Pharma and Big Insurance, essentially scuttling both of these profit-squeezing mechanisms in return for these industries' agreement not to oppose healthcare legislation with platoons of lobbyists and millions of dollars of TV ads, and Pharma's willingness to cut drug prices by some $80 billion over the next ten years. The White House promised these industries they'd come out way ahead -- getting tens of millions of new customers who'd be buying private health insurance policies and thereby paying for an almost endless supply of new drugs. Healthcare reform would be, in short, a bonanza..." -Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, 9/29/2009.

Comment: When looking at the health care insurance company giveaway program- you don't need to stop at Max Baucus, Harry Reid- or any US Senator. Rather look at the White House. Look at Barack Obama. Then strip yourself of the illusion that our leader is genuine in his promises. See behind the speeches and realize whose interests he really represents. Finally, no one would be more thrilled if I am wrong. No one... 


So Many Words

So many words that people use. Most of the time, words just confuse meanings. They become the basis of wars. They are confused utterances from deluded minds that are fearful and infinitely distracted. Sometimes, at rare moments, there is lucidity- usually this occurs in a period of crisis where finally- compassion is the only option left. Anything short of this fails.

The world is approaching a holocaust. The United States, China, India and Europe will suffer the most because, not unlike the dinosaurs of old, they have become the most dependent on a finite resource that is evaporating- oil. Mankind's propensity for war has increased, not decreased in the last two centuries. This war will be brought about by the scarcity of oil. The industrialized world is like an addict or junkie. Once the oil goes away, the industrial structure will collapse. The food and water supplies will collapse. Out of desperation, powerful nations will war against each other. Once the level of conflict reaches a certain point, the logic of mutually assured destruction will become the inevitable conclusion. You cannot kill people, children, mothers, fathers, families- you cannot destroy beauty on the planet- plants, animals, mountains, air, water- you cannot do this without destroying the desire to live, the reason to live. Then destruction becomes the only option.

Climate change is a blessing to the planet. The earth is sacrificing herself. In her love for us, she is allowing innocent life to gradually die so that we may realize that the greatest risk to this oil dependency is that through war we will destroy ourselves. The Great Destruction. The Great Holocaust.

You probably think- more words. Just words- intellectualization. Just an issue- like abortion, gay rights, labor equality, the war in whatever country... Just words. Got to sleep. Close the light. Play the music and wait.

Or perhaps- wake up. Protest in the streets. End the dead slumber of your leaders. Pray to the earth. Show compassion to others. Form a community of like minds committed to ending the madness. It is true- I cannot lie- if there is only one being- one human being on this planet that cares- that understands- that acts- there is hope. But that hope may be for a world after this one- for this one is slipping through our hands.


What Obama Should Say to the UN

When Obama speaks to the UN on September 22nd, he should commit the United States to an 90%+ reduction in global warming gases from 1990 levels by 2050 (or much sooner). He should end subsidies to oil companies for oil exploration. He should tell the world that the United States will now lead the world's effort on halting climate change. He should talk about the loss of life- human, animal and plant that will take place without concerted world action. He should talk about the need for a global currency that ends the externalization of costs by corporations and that holds corporations and their shareholders directly accountable for irresponsible acts against the environment. He should address the world's water shortage crisis and the perils of the privatization of water. He should condemn the cruelty and damage caused by industrial farming. 

He should pledge that the changes needed to address the above problems will not result in the loss of one American job- and that his administration will transform the American economy in such a way that there will be a much fairer distribution of wealth and that the new energy economy will result in the creation of more jobs and more prosperity.

In summary- he should lead. Instead of meekly going before the G20 and proclaiming he is a died in the wool capitalist- he should clearly and plainly talk about the mess that capitalism has caused and recommend strong corrective actions. He should address the creation of a new economic order- not based on consumption, but based on creating human happiness and balance with the earth.

The world needs transformational figures now- not apologists and anachronistic thinking that tries to preserve the best of the worst. We need to build the foundation of a new world order that is based on equality and equity- not scarcity, and that values all life. He should say that the life of a Russian, of a Palestinian, of an Afghan, of a Sudanese is not more or less valuable that the life of on an American or a European. He should say that we must value the beauty of this earth and treat as precious and sacred the mountains, the trees, the rivers, the animals, the plants, the water, the air, the Earth.

I dare Mr. Obama to give this speech....

Comment: Mr. Obama did of course not say this to the UN. He spoke of urgency- the needs for action- but there were no specifics. It was a more a sermon that a call to action from the nation that is most responsible for environmental devastation. Who are we to sermonize?


UN mission finds evidence of war crimes by both sides in Gaza conflict

"...“We came to the conclusion, on the basis of the facts we found, that there was strong evidence to establish that numerous serious violations of international law, both humanitarian law and human rights law, were committed by Israel during the military operations in Gaza,” the head of the mission, Justice Richard Goldstone, told a press briefing today.

“The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defense Force (IDF).”

“There’s no question that the firing of rockets and mortars [by armed groups from Gaza] was deliberate and calculated to cause loss of life and injury to civilians and damage to civilian structures. The mission found that these actions also amount to serious war crimes and also possibly crimes against humanity,” he said."

"...“The mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of willful killings and willfully causing great suffering to protected persons and as such give rise to individual criminal responsibility,” the report’s executive summary said. “It also finds that the direct targeting and arbitrary killing of Palestinian civilians is a violation of the right to life.”

It went on to criticize the “deliberate and systematic policy on the part of the Israeli armed forces to target industrial sites and water installations,” and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. - UN mission finds evidence of war crimes by both sides in Gaza conflict, 9/15/2009

Comment: The first step in ending this barbarous behavior is to acknowledge that it is real and takes place. Israeli denials will only prolong the agony of war.

The Jewish people have been victimized throughout the centuries. However the answer is not to become the victimizer. If this dehumanization process continues in Gaza than every civilian will come under suspicion and then the only way for Israel to solve this "problem" will be to to openly and randomly kill civilians. Yet if that takes place, Israel become less secure - more cruel and less human- becoming what it most abhors. Israel needs to rise above its fears. It needs to end the occupation of Gaza, end the resettlement process and extend from the depths of its soul an olive branch to the Palestinians and its neighbors. The survival of the Jewish state depends on this.


President Obama: Mismanagement of Health Care Reform

According to Wendell Potter, former CIGNA executive, turned industry whistleblower:

 “The Baucus framework is just an absolute joke,” said Potter, Cigna’s former head of corporate communications who has been speaking out against insurance industry practices. “It is an absolute gift to the industry. And if that is what we see in the legislation, (America’s Health Insurance Plans chief) Karen Ignagni will surely get a huge bonus.”

Potter said the proposal would not provide affordable coverage. It gives the industry too much latitude to charge higher premiums based on age and geographic location, fails to mandate employer coverage, and pushes consumers into plans with limited benefits, Potter said.

Private insurers “want to have ‘benefit design flexibility.’ Those are three very worrisome words,” Potter said at a briefing arranged by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. “By being able to have benefit design flexibility, they will be able to design plans that are so limited that more and more people will be in the ranks of the uninsured.”-
Health Care for America Now!

Comment:

Obama, by sanctioning the process leading to this "bipartisan" proposal, has again undermined his own leadership, and effectively supported a process that has led to the crafting of a bill (granted that is still in committee) that is a disgusting giveaway to the insurance industry- in effect giving new legitimacy to Republicans who argue for no reform at all.

The insurance industry will gladly cover people with pre-existing conditions. They will gladly agree not to rescind coverage. In part, they will agree to this because it is easy to get around these requirements. But in large part they will agree to this because as long as the law is applied to the entire industry, no individual company can claim advantage. Yes- they will find other ways of squeezing policyholders- but at least in theory they have no qualm with Obama's "reforms."

However, mention any form of meaningful competition and they go to pieces. They whine, they complain- they wine and dine- they'll do anything to prevent this. A public option- perish the thought- the very idea goes against the fundamental principles of corporate socialism that Obama and they seem to espouse.

Single payer coverage is the only approach that makes any fiscal sense. Yet- this was rejected out of hand by Obama and the senate/house. Why? because of the fear that by doing so, they would scare the American people. It was in effect an abdication of leadership that has given the opposition their best argument against reform.

I want to be very clear. I know the insurance industry all to well from personal experience. Efforts at reforms will not occur with the tacit or implicit consent of the insurance industry or its backers in Congress.

Mr. Obama- if you are incapable of offending or fighting any group that opposes the public interest and truly believe that leadership is appeasing all factions- then you are unfit to be President of the United States. The process of change begins with conflict- and from the resolution of conflict and the pursuit of truth- of right action- may come constructive change. Failure to engage- failure to fight for what you believe in - will bring nothing that is good. Change does not occur from the perspective that all things are relative- reconciliation occurs after the battle- not before.


Cowards

Cowards are those who take measure that a health care bill does not include illegal aliens. People who can work in our factories, work in our fields- but are apparently not good enough to receive our medical care.

Cowards are people who believe in something- like the public option in the health care debate- but are unwilling to fight for it- leaving millions with the option of unaffordable coverage- which is essentially no option.

Cowards are those who are not willing to hold others accountable for unlawful actions, thereby making their reoccurrence inevitable.

Cowards are people who use violence (verbal and physical) against the unsuspecting, against the innocent, against those entrusted with our well being- as a way to further their ideology- their hatred- passed as it is from one generation to the next.

Cowards are those who allow their votes to be bought by the special interests group with the most money- the most to gain.

Ultimately a government is a reflection of its people and it is the people that are ultimately responsible for the actions of its leaders and pay the consequences for their cowardice..


"WE, THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF THIRTEEN INDIGENOUS GRANDMOTHERS, represent a global alliance of prayer, education and healing for our Mother Earth, all Her inhabitants, all the children, and for the next seven generations to come. We are deeply concerned with the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth and the destruction of indigenous ways of life. We believe the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future. We look to further our vision through the realization of projects that protect our diverse cultures: lands, medicines, language and ceremonial ways of prayer and through projects that educate and nurture our children."- Mission statement of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. These woman understand the significance of spirit, hearth, ancestral understanding, community, diversity, silence and the complete interconnectedness of life and spirit. Their teachings and the teachings of the cultures they represent are a path of light and beauty to a world that is increasingly dead to what is. Yet they teach with gentleness, joy, praise, humility and pure compassion.


Senator Kennedy's May,12 2009 Letter to President Obama

"...When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the president who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me — and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles — there always have been — and they are already under way again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat — that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country..."


The Late Senator Edward Kennedy on Health Care reform....

"...Kennedy, a longtime chair of the Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, called for extending Medicare coverage to all Americans, medical coverage for the uninsured and modernizing health care systems by using new technologies to cut costs. He also proposed to implement a rule that would require every American to have some form of health insurance..."

""...We'll negotiate with insurance companies to keep premiums and co-pays low and help you with your premiums if you can't afford them," Kennedy wrote in a column published in the Boston Globe in June to push support for his plan. "We're also hearing that some Americans want the choice of enrolling in a health insurance program backed by the government for the public good, not private profit -- so that option will be available, too...""- Huma Khan and Caitlin Taylor / ABC News, 8/26/2009


Death in the era of modern medicine

"Health care is not a political issue or a campaign promise. It is a human right. They had no health insurance. This is a true story."

"...They made a pact. When they could no longer bear the pain or the disability they would leave together. They started collecting the pain medications.
She fell again and shattered her shoulder. They had no health insurance. She delayed going to the clinic. Finally, somehow, someone X-rayed the shoulder. They told her they could pin it back together through surgery, but it might not work. It would remain very painful.
She had no health insurance.
They owned their home and had enough money to live on, but not to buy health insurance with their pre-existing conditions; they didn’t think they could go to a doctor and to the hospital.
They were sick. Their minds were clouded with drugs to mask the pain. They didn’t think anyone could help them. There were no answers, only pain.
In pain, they gathered all of the pills they had saved, went to the store and bought a cake and rented a video, and went home to travel together into eternity. They watched the movie, ate their treats, and munched on the pills like popcorn.
He wasn’t supposed to wake up, but he did..."- From "Death in the era of modern medicine," by Bonnie Tinker, The Portland Alliance, 4/2009. See also: Obama's Health Reform Waterloo by Dave Lindorff, 6/21/2009 & Physicians for National Health Program

In the United States,185 former congressmen and senators are corporate lobbyists, therefore it is not surprising that single payer universal health care is dead in the water. Is what works in France, Canada and Britain not suitable for the United States? Why? Are American's less entitled to health care? Is the demise of the American economy inevitable given the spiraling of health care costs coupled with the demographics of an aging of the population and rising inequality?


The Courage of the People of Iran

As I write this, on Saturday morning, June 20, 2009, the people of Iran -in Tehran and probably elsewhere in Iran- are defying their leaders and seeking justice and even martyrdom in the pursuit of justice. Boiling water or acid is falling from helicopters, protesters are being tear gassed and beaten- hundreds are being rushed to hospitals. Mousavi is saying that the election was null and void. He is saying that the leadership is corrupt and that the election was rigged many months ago.

Please pray for peace and the end of bloodshed.- Lowell Greenberg

TEHRAN Students Shot In Front Of A Camera, 6/20/2009: http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-276292

Iran police disperse protests, BBC, 6/20/2009

Iran’s Children of Tomorrow, 6/22/2009


Why are we Fighting in Afghanistan?

Why are we (The United States) fighting in Afghanistan? Al Qaeda can reconstitute anywhere in the world. We can never entirely prevent terrorism. We can never with 100% certainty keep WMDs from small splinter groups inside and outside this country. Collectively we don't even have control over the actions of our own government- our own terrorism. Our blind support of the Israeli occupation of Gaza- the senseless use of killing drones and iron fragmentation bombs- the millions of lives lost in Iraq due to our killing machines. We imagine and exaggerate threats- projecting our own aggressive intentions on others.

Our leaders are not strategic thinkers- our use of force around the world appears heavy handed- we embolden our enemies- disrupt alliances and lose public support. We cannot win in Afghanistan without the support of the Afghan people anymore than we can wage a war without the support of our own people.

We say we do not negotiate with terrorists- then why should they negotiate with us? How is the crisis to end? We can't kill every terrorist. What is a terrorist? A 12 year old boy who carries a bomb? A university student who sees his country being exploited by foreigners? A citizen who sees his government's repressive, violent regime propped up by corrupt leaders and foreign powers? We don't even understand the people and groups we seek to destroy- instead we assume the mantle of terrorism in an effort to destroy it- rather than understanding the cause and working towards real peace. We become in effect a United States of Terror. See also: "Villagers in Afghanistan Describe Chaos of U.S. Strikes," Carlotta Gall & Taimoor Shah, NY Times, 5/14/2009; Time to Get Out of Afghanistan, George Will, 9/1/2009.


Made in America – War

WASHINGTON - June 16 - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement against the war supplemental on the House floor:

"We are destroying our nation's moral and fiscal integrity with this war supplemental. Instead of ending wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan now by appropriating only enough money to bring our troops home, Congress abdicates its constitutional authority, defers to the president, and asks for a report. That's right, all we are asking for is a report on when the president will end the war.

"There is also money for the IMF, presumably to bail out private European banks. Billions for the IMF so they can force low and middle income nations to cut jobs, wages, health care and retirement security, just like corporate America does to our constituents.

"And there's money to incentivize the purchase of more cars, not necessarily from U.S. manufacturers because a ‘Buy America' mandate was not allowed.

"Another $106 billion dollars and all we get is a lousy war. Pretty soon that is going to be about the only thing made in America - war.

 


Al Gore's testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Subcmte. on Climate Change Legislation, 4/24/2009
 

A Wartime Mobilization

"There are many things we do not know about the future. But one thing we do know is that business as usual will not continue for much longer. Massive change is inevitable. Will the change come because we move quickly to restructure the economy or because we fail to act and civilization begins to unravel?

Saving civilization will take a massive mobilization, and at wartime speed. The closest analogy is the belated U.S. mobilization during World War II. But unlike that chapter in history, in which one country totally restructured its economy, the Plan B mobilization requires decisive action on a global scale."- Lester Brown- A War Time Mobilization, 12/3/2008


Beyond the Green Economy:
The End of Capitalism As We Know It

"The “industrial state” has been replaced by a predator state, a coalition of relentless opponents of the very idea of a “public interest”, whose purpose is to master the state structure in order to empower a high plutocracy with nothing more than vile and rapacious goals." - From L. Randall Wray's review of  "The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too," by James Galbraith. Wray is Professor of Economics, and Senior Scholar at the Levy Economics Institute.

"...In Adam Smith's words, "civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.''- Smith never suggested that government should not intervene to set and enforce minimum social, health, worker safety, and environmental standards in the common interest or to protect the poor and nature from the rich. Given that most governments of his day were monarchies, the possibility probably never occurred to him..."

"...Neva Goodwin, ecological economist, head of the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, and an advocate of cost internalization, puts it bluntly. "Power is largely what externalities are about. What's the point of having power, if you can't use it to externalize your costs--to make them fall on someone else?" - Excerpts from "When Corporations Rule the World," by David C. Korten.

"Competition and the thirst for profit without limits of the capitalist system are destroying the planet. Under Capitalism we are not human beings but consumers. Under Capitalism Mother Earth does not exist, instead there are raw materials. Capitalism is the source of the asymmetries and imbalances in the world. It generates luxury, ostentation and waste for a few, while millions in the world die from hunger in the world. In the hands of capitalism everything becomes a commodity: the water, the soil, the human genome, the ancestral cultures, justice, ethics, death … and life itself. Everything, absolutely everything, can be bought and sold and under capitalism. And even “climate change” itself has become a business."- Excerpt from "20 Ways to Save Mother Earth & Prevent Environmental Disaster," Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, writing in the International Journal of Socialist Renewal

“The situation we  (United States) find ourselves in at this moment, this week, is very strongly reminiscent of the situations we've seen many times in other places. But they're places we don't like to think of ourselves as being similar to. They're emerging markets. It's Russia or Indonesia or a Thailand type situation, or Korea... I have this feeling in my stomach that I felt in much poorer countries, countries that were headed into a really difficult economic situation, when there’s a small group of people who got you into a disaster, who were still powerful, and disaster made them more powerful... Don’t get me wrong – these are fine upstanding citizens who have a certain perspective and a certain kind of interest, and they see the world a certain way... That web of interest is not my interest or your interest or the interest of the taxpayer. It’s the interest, first and foremost, of the financial industry in this country.”- Simon Johnson, former International Monetary Fund chief economist and MIT professor regarding the federal government's response to the world's economic maladies.

The latest world economic crisis is not just caused by: Greed and corruption at all levels of society; Irresponsible sub-prime lending; Lack of regulation of credit derivatives; Domination of governments by corporate interests; Excessive energy consumption; Unfair taxation policies; Excessive debt; Unfair global corporate competitive practices; Uninformed electorates; Destruction of local economies; and Social and economic inequality. Most of these are not so much causes as symptoms.

At the root of capitalism is the notion is that the world has infinite resources. That no human actions can fundamentally alter the environment and affect the planet’s health. That natural resources- air water, oceans, land, animals and plants are unlimited and are only negligibly affected by human actions.

This notion of infinite resources is fundamentally flawed. All of our collective and individual actions are interrelated. The crises we face now and in the future are global in scope. Air, water, earth and sky are not owned by individual countries- they are global interconnected resources with universal rights of ownership.

Fundamentally, global corporations, governments and individuals must be held responsible and accountable for the costs required to address and correct the damage they cause to the world’s ecosystems. Conversely, actions that renew and sustain the environment and have ancillary public health benefits, should be rewarded and incentivized. New policies must be shaped that renew the environment rather than destroy it.

Whether through taxation, a new form of global environmental currency, etc., every action that adversely affects plant and animal diversity- affects the drinkable water supply and quality of air; affects the ability of the earth to sustain long term agriculture; destroys old growth forests, etc. must come at a price proportionate to the damage caused. I will repeat- the full price of environmental destruction must be factored into the economic decisions of corporations, governments and individuals. When this takes place, actions that today are considered profitable will become extremely unprofitable and impossible to undertake.

Corporations, governments and individuals must be forced to think strategically about the best use of limited, finite resources and begin to act responsibly, factoring in human and environmental rights into their decision making and planning. Environmental costs can be determined by looking at the nature of the damage, its permanence, its effect on human health, climate change, etc.  Human  costs- lost lives, destroyed communities and cultures, economic and political dislocation, illegal imprisonment- these are only a few of the human costs of irresponsible corporate, military and governmental power.

New international bodies must be formed that can create the currency and regulating mechanisms to enforce full recognition of these costs and basic rights throughout the world economy. Fundamental to this recognition must be a respect for life and the interrelatedness of all life.

Inherent in this almost exclusive pursuit of profit is a fundamental disrespect for life. The notion of nature as the survival of the fittest is fundamentally false. While this belief may be at the root of capitalism- in nature there are cooperative systems that have evolved over thousands and millions of years to preserve and perpetuate diversity. Each form of life, from the smallest to the largest- serves a key niche in preserving the balance of the whole.

If collective global action does not take place, then environmental disasters will grow exponentially over the next 100 years- year by year- decade by decade. Once great economies will collapse and/or become even more militaristic in an effort to control remaining global resources. Economic inequalities will become more glaring and potentially world population will decline due to disaster and war- not self-regulation.

There is nothing more costly to life on Earth than war. Yet war could very well be the consequence of a failure to address global environmental issues. Restoration of environmental and human justice requires the abolition of war and a genuine respect for human life.

This is not a rich versus poor, developed versus less developed country issue. For example, if the United States decides to engage in more offshore drilling it should pay a steep economic price for the environmental impact. If Brazil or Ecuador chooses to preserve its rain forests for the preservation of world climate and indigenous life and wisdom, it should be rewarded. In fact, some of the world's poorest communities engage in some of the most sustainable environmental practices- and should be rewarded accordingly- not forced to adopt Western inspired exploitative practices that undermine local communities and deplete natural resources.

Also, an equitable and universal system will not result in one country or corporation paying a disproportionate share of the cost. Rather it will share the burden equally and shift the incentive from short term profits to environmental (aka human) sustainability throughout the world's economic system. Currently we have a system that rewards the almost exclusive pursuit of profit, power and exploitation. Regulation, at best, is inadequate and routinely circumvented over time. We need to restructure the system, so that rewards shift to the protection of human and environmental rights. With this change in incentives there will be a need for less, not more regulation. There will be less, not more economic dislocation. 

Some may feel that these ideas are unrealistic- however the necessity of our times dictates solutions on a global scale. The alternative is global disaster. Some may feel that these ideas would erode national sovereignty. However, this has already occurred. Global corporations care very little about individual nations and their workers- they will exploit wherever they have the opportunity and can gain temporary advantage. They already effectively control the world's governments and militaries. Still others may believe these recommendations require full nationalization of industry or would otherwise be unenforceable. However, there are benefits to retaining competitiveness and innovation in the system- two potential benefits of non-state ownership. Smaller companies in particular represent great potential sources of innovation. Again, some may feel that imposing environmental sustainability requirements will restrict economic growth. This may occur in the short run, however in the long term there would be more sustainable growth. Also, nothing precludes a phase in, where it is responsible.

No economic system is perfect and completely fair- however the current one is not merely less than perfect- it is unsustainable and self destructive. - Lowell Greenberg, 12/7/2008; See also: Calif. adopts sweeping global warming plan, 12/11/2008


Accountability

What is the common thread between the government's coddling to the banks mentioned below and the failure to hold Cheney, former President Bush and other government officials responsible for acts of corruption and possible treason? Is it really the desire to avoid distraction and go forward with "solving" the nation's problems. Or is it complicit corruption, i.e., the federal government will not pursue justice because to do so would implicate current officials in both parties. Yet, without accountability the rule of law breaks down and past mistakes will inevitability repeat as the old players resurface in a new venue. With a servile press and the manipulation of the media by elites, the American people never understand the truth and each year freedom erodes and is replaced by an Orwellian fascism.
 

Obama's Problem

"As Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote recently in a New York Times op-ed the Obama administration's plan is "far worse than nationalization: it is ersatz capitalism, the privatizing of gains and the socializing of losses...the kind of Rube Goldberg device that Wall Street loves -- clever, complex and nontransparent, allowing huge transfers of wealth to the financial markets...."-Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation, 4/15/2009

"But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them."- Simon Johnson, The Atlantic, 5/2009

"...Everybody is rushing to condemn AIG's bonuses, but this simple scandal is obscuring the real disgrace at the insurance giant: Why are AIG's counterparties getting paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars?"- Elliot Spitzer, "The Real AIG Scandal: It's not the bonuses. It's that AIG's counterparties are getting paid back in full," Slate Magazine, 3/17/2009

There are at least two key areas where Obama and his administration are demonstrating weakness- catering to special interests, entrenched military leaders and other "powers that be."

Over the last year banks and other financial institutions have been given trillions of dollars to help remedy a financial crisis of their own doing. Yet instead of using the powers of the FDIC and other governmental agencies to remove ineffective management, remove bad debt and change business practices, we have emboldened these very financial institutions. Emboldened- they have given their top executives hundred of millions of dollars of bonuses- signaling that it is business as usual and that if nothing else they seek to profit from the misfortunes of others, i.e., the misfortunes of the majority of Americans whose standard of living has declined over the last few decades.

In Afghanistan, we seem committed to listening to generals who are unable strategize and have no understanding of history. Providing more troops while perpetuating corruption and the unnecessary loss of civilian life-  is a recipe for disaster. Committing billions to a conflict that is militarily unwinnable at a time when the federal government is essentially bankrupt flies in the face of reality.

One would have thought Obama would have learned from his experience with the economic recovery package- he could barely muster a few Republican votes. Those few Republicans who voted with him, did so not because they liked him- but because they believed that his policies were correct and would be supported by their constituents.

Governing is not about popularity- eventually sound decisions will be rewarded by public support. However, while Obama uses his triangulation and political skills to build a consensus he already has- key decisions are being made that maintain a very dangerous status quo. See also: The Crisis That Could Bring Down Obama, 4/15/2009 by Ruth Conniff & Geithner's Stress Test "A Complete Sham," Former Federal Bank Regulator Says, 4/6/2009
 

Close the SOA

"The US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American security personnel in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. SOA graduates are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America." See also: Operation Condor.

Comments: Perhaps the reason why the United States continues the SOA, is because the US government condones these activities. Read what Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist revealed in a Great Conversations Event at the University of Minnesota on 3/11/2009:

"...Seymour Hersh then went on to describe a second area of extra-legal operations: the Joint Special Operations Command. "It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently," he explained. "They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. ... Congress has no oversight of it."

"It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on," Hersh stated. "Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us."


Atrocities Against Children in Gaza

"Out of all the devastation I have seen so far, there is one story in particular that I think the world needs to hear. I met a mother who was at home with her ten children when Israeli soldiers entered the house. The soldiers told her she had to choose five of her children to "give as a gift to Israel." As she screamed in horror they repeated the demand and told her she could choose or they would choose for her. Then these soldiers murdered five of her children in front of her. The concept of "Jewish morality" is truly dead. We can be fascists, terrorists, and Nazis just like everybody else."-Barbara Lubin, founder and executive director of the Middle East Children's Alliance. 1/25/2009; See also: Dr. Mads Gilbert: A Physician in Gaza, 4/28/2009

Comment: I want to believe that this incident is untrue. Yet these kinds of atrocities do occur in wartime. It and others like it must be thoroughly investigated by an international tribunal- and if they are found true, then those responsible must be removed from power and punished.

Yet, I have yet to hear these charges addressed- even as US senators and congressmen visit the worn torn areas and comment on the devastation and tragic loss if human life. A right wing conservative government is poised to take control in Israel-yet the US congress and executive branch do nothing more than offer unmitigated support to the Israeli apartheid state. In fact, we seem to have modeled our response to terrorism on how Israel  treats the Palestinians- brute force, total domination, and little respect for human rights, international law and the lives of woman and children. 2/23/2009


10 things you should know about Obama's plan (but probably don't)

Last week, President Obama unveiled his budget—his blueprint for America—and it's ambitious, amazing, and unapologetically progressive. As Paul Krugman said, it will set America on a "fundamentally new course."

President Obama called his budget "a threat to the status quo," and trust me, the status quo noticed. Oil companies, big banks and insurance companies are already mobilizing to stop it.

The plan:

- Makes a $634 billion down payment on fixing health care that will go a long way toward paying for a more efficient, more affordable health care system that covers every single American.
- Reduces taxes for 95% of working Americans. And if your family makes less than $250,000, your taxes won't go up one dime.
- Invests more than $100 billion in clean energy technology, creating millions of green jobs that can never be outsourced.
- Brings our troops home from Iraq on a firm timetable, finally bringing the war to a close—and freeing up almost ten billion dollars a month for domestic priorities.
- Reverses growing income inequality. The plan lets the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire and focuses on strengthening the middle class.
- Closes multi-billion-dollar tax loopholes for big oil companies.
- Increases grants to help families pay for college—the largest increase ever.
- Halves the deficit by 2013. President Obama inherited a legacy of huge deficits and an economy in shambles, but his plan brings the deficit under control as soon as the economy begins to recover.
- Dramatically increases funding for the SEC and the CFTC—the agencies that police Wall Street.
- Tells it straight. For years, budgets have used accounting tricks to hide the real costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts, and too many other programs. Obama's budget gets rid of the smokescreens and lays out what America's priorities are, what they cost, and how we're going to pay for them.-From Moveon.org, 3/1/2009

Comment: In the United States,185 former congressmen and senators are corporate lobbyists. It is now common practice to pass legislation that earmarks hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses requesting favored treatment/special help. Last year, over 40 million dollars was given to legislators by the financial companies that benefited from TARP- the financial system bailout. While the real wages of the majority working Americans have remained stagnant over the last 30 years, the wages of the very top earners have risen astronomically. Frequently we here the argument that certain companies are too big to fail- implying that irresponsible and/or illegal actions by these companies will be funded by tax payers- in effect creating what is unmistakably corporate socialism- yet a socialism that instead of defending the rights of ordinary citizens- defends the rights of the oligarchy- the corporate elites. See also: The Cash Committee: How Wall Street Wins On The Hill, 12/29/2009

If the current economic crisis is to be solved then the stranglehold of the oligarchy must be broken and the government must be truly become- of the people, by the people and for the people- yet is this even possible when the said government is controlled by the oligarchy that has caused the current crisis and only seeks to benefit from it? 2/23/2009


A Time to Work Together & A Time to Fight

It is now time- and it has always been time- for groups and individuals committed to fundamental progressive change to band together. We must recognize that our challenges- environmental sustainability; human rights violations; minority, gay, indigenous, immigration and labor rights; children and woman's rights; unjust wars; animal welfare rights; consumer protections, etc. - are all interrelated. Fundamentally, our problems stem from a lack of spiritual awareness of our interconnectedness and a lack of respect for all life. As we elevate our spiritual awareness of our connection, we must also take the fight to the global corporate/governmental elites who support repression and the destruction of the individual and community. There is nothing radical in this notion. Rather it is fundamental to our survival as a species.- Lowell Greenberg 


The Global Economy

"...The idea of an economy based upon several kinds of ruin may seem a contradiction in terms, but in fact such an economy is possible, as we see. It is possible however, on one implacable condition: the only future good that it assuredly leads to is that it will destroy itself. And how does it disguise this outcome from its subjects, its short-term beneficiaries, and its victims? It does so by false accounting. It substitutes for the real economy, by which we build and maintain (or do not maintain) our household, a symbolic economy of money, which in the long run, because of the self-interested manipulations of the "controlling interests," cannot symbolize or account for anything but itself. And so we have before us the spectacle of unprecedented "prosperity" and "economic growth" in a land of degraded farms, forests, ecosystems, and watersheds, polluted air, failing families, and perishing communities."

"...In default of government protections against the total economy of the supranational corporations, people are where they have been many times before: in danger of losing their economic security and their freedom, both at once. But at the same time the means of defending themselves belongs to them in the form of a venerable principle: powers not exercised by government return to the people. If the government does not propose to protect the lives, livelihoods, and freedoms of its people, then the people must think about protecting themselves.- From, "The Idea of a Local Economy," by Wendell Berry, Orion Magazine, 2002


Beautiful Earth

Love is eternal.
Love is silence.
Always act from the heart.
Gentleness, Peace, Holiness and Light.
All creation is part of the tree of life.
Become dead to the world to be truly alive.
When free of all attachment, there will be compassion.
Knowledge and truth remain forever.
All is spirit. All is beautiful. Love all.


Dear Friends,

This letter is to wish all of you a happy & prosperous new year. For me, this year has brought many challenges & blessings. I have traveled to different parts of the world, learned much and returned to understand that what is simplest and gentlest is most true & profound.

May the spirits of the ancestors- past, present and future- all creation- provide protection, blessing and love- and may each of you remember who you are. Finally, may all mankind become blessed with the gift of silent reflection, compassion and awareness, honoring the great gift of creation and the community of all life and spirit.

With light, blessings & love,

Lowell Greenberg, 1/1/2008

 

A Prayer for Peace & Awakening

May we awaken to the sea of love that immerses us- that engulfs us- removing fear from our lives and seeking peace- peace within ourselves, peace in our families, peace in our communities, peace within nations, peace in the world- in the universe. May we understand and experience our true selves and manifest in the world as beings of light and joy- learning how to end suffering, heal the wounds we inflict on ourselves and others and rediscovering our connection to all spirit and love.

"In a time when the survival of the human race is in question, to continue with the status quo is to cooperate with insanity, to contribute to chaos."- Vimala Thakar, Awakening to Total Revolution: Enlightenment and the World Crisis

"The people who are aware of the domestic and foreign crimes of state, and the incredible exploitive base supporting the U.S. lifestyle, or the American Way Of Life (AWOL), have special obligations, both under international and U.S. domestic law, as well as conscience, to stimulate local, regional, national and global debates about these life threatening, unprecedented threats to justice and genuine democracy. This would include articulating and experimenting with alternative economic and political theories and practices."- Brian Willson, 2000

Pray for peace, calm and wisdom in the Middle East- the averting war with Iran. The US and Israeli plans for a tactical nuclear or non-nuclear air strike against Iran would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States, the Middle East and the world. It will destroy the possibility of peace in the Middle East for a quarter of a century or more It will lead to a chain of events that will cause an untold loss of life in and outside of the region. It will significantly increase the likelihood of wars and attacks using WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) in the region and throughout the world. It will embolden the forces of fear and repression in the Middle East and the Western democracies.

Pray and work in solidarity for the people of Oaxaca, Mexico who are standing up to government oppression and seeking the ouster of Governor Ulises Ruiz. Work for the release of prisoners that are unjustly held. Pray for the work of organizations such as the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), the Women's Commission (COMO) and CIPO (Council of Indigenous People of Oaxaca). Pray that they remain non-violent and that the cause of justice for the poor and indigenous people become a rallying cry through out Mexico and the world.

Pray and work to end the fear and exploitation of  immigrants that sometimes is tantamount to slave labor. Pray and work for immediate and unconditional amnesty for immigrants and open borders for people of all races and nations.

Pray and work for peace in Tibet and the end of Chinese oppression and corruption.

Pray and work for the end of the Israeli occupation of Gaza

Pray and work for the end of genocide in Darfur where more than 450,000 people have died and 2.5 million made refugees. Divest for Darfur; Save Darfur; Sudan Disinvestment Taskforce

Pray for the ending of civil war in Iraq. Pray for the Iraqi people, who over the last thirty years have experienced the loss of millions of lives, enduring a barbarous regime, three bloody wars, a long period of inhumane sanctions and a humiliating, deadly occupation. At least 655,000 Iraq civilians and almost 4,000 Americans have died as a consequence of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Pray for tranquility in Lebanon and peace between Palestinians and Israel and an ending of the atrocities in Gaza.

Pray that U.S. leaders be brought to justice for crimes against humanity, the erosion of civil liberties and other illegal acts that contravene international and U.S. law. Pray that the innocents imprisoned and tortured in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere are freed. See: For His Treatment of Children in the 'War on Terror,' Bush is a War Criminal; 35 Articles of Impeachment against George Bush, 6/9/2008 & General who probed Abu Ghraib says Bush officials committed war crimes, 6/18/2008.

Free the San Francisco 8 and others the U.S. government is holding illegally and unjustly.

Pray that Troy Anthony Davis, who may have been wrongly accused of murder, receives a new and fair trial.

Pray that all peoples wake up to the threat of global capitalism whose goal is to maximize the wealth and power of its elites and destroy man's connection with spirit and life. Pray that the environmental devastation and suffering they wreak will end. Pray that together we end the global food crisis.

Referring to the Niger Delta in Nigeria, Sandy Cioffi, film director of Sweet Crude writes:

"Here, citizens of an oil-rich nation struggle to eat in a land that can no longer support them. The Delta’s water and soil have been fouled by the same oil production that accounts for more than 80 percent of the country’s revenue. Traditional fishing and farming livelihoods are all but gone. Potable drinking water is rare. So is electricity. With pitifully few clinics and schools, curable conditions go untreated and illiteracy is high. Families are broken up, as men die young or take off for the cities to find jobs." See also: Crude Times in the Niger Delta.

 "...People, who lost their love and forgot the respect for our mother earth. People, who love the money, they murder our mother earth..."- Don Casimiro Mamallacta, medicine-man/shaman from the comunidad Mariposa (community of butterflies) located in the upper Amazon basin. See also: Mariposa-Community of Butterfies

"...I would hope that the destructive results of the civilized world would result in some relinquishment of dominion and that those who destroy this way of life and continue to forbid it could find reason to begin to allow those of us who can to engage in a socio-environmental experiment to show once again how I and others can be effective in enlivening the natural world."- A letter from Finisia Medrano in jail...to the Lemhi County Court.

Pray and work for a 70%-80% reduction in global warming gas emission to avert worldwide climate catastrophe. Pray that this generation and future generations are spared the pain and suffering. May they forgive us for what we have done.

Pray that mankind awakens to the interconnectedness of all life and halts human- caused extinctions that could result in the loss of half of the Earth's species by the end of the century.

 

All creation is sacred- all creation is spirit, connected & part of the tree of life. We are all one family. Respect and honor all creation-Remember the wisdom of all creation. All is beautiful and alive. Feel pain, but end suffering.

K'a te sankun koro sium a ti tieru
ti kuti zumon
Ka ti tuon gnin a ti vla zie to to sao deu

May all ancestors join force to wake up our spirit
and put good thoughts into our psyche.
Then we shall see the good that awaits us and accept it.- Malidoma Somé

Whether or not they know it, most of the world's religions and philosophies start from the same point. Like spokes emanating from a wheel's hub, they converge upon and diverge from a common center.

"Vision Seeker," by Jerome Bushyhead
O Great Spirit
grant me a vision. Let it be good. Let it bless all people.

We are given Visions,
Sometimes they are real.
It is up to you to accept them.

"Vision of a New Beginning," by Jerome Bushyhead
(L) "Vision Seeker," (R) "Vision for a New Beginning," © Jerome Bushyhead

That center is God or universal truth, compassion and wisdom. Learn from all religions, all philosophies and use only one test- is the belief sincere, does it bear good fruit and does it seem right, is it in accord with what is good and just.

A Personal Message
First Step

Musings
Beautiful Earth

Short Essays on Spiritual Matters

"i have had the gift of traveling death rows, prisons, and with gang kids...the "imperfect ones", as well as with celebrities, CEOs and the most revered, the "perfect ones"... on the outside. What *i* have learned is that we are all one." Anonymous

Tolerance

"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow-men; along those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects." Herman Melville

Community

"To be religious is to be sensitive to reality. Your total being- body, mind and heart, is sensitive to beauty and to ugliness, to the donkey tied to the post, to the poverty and filth in this town, to laughter and tears, to everything about you. From this sensitivity for the whole of existence springs goodness, love." Krishnamurti

Life & the Universal

"Whoever touches the life of the child touches the most sensitive point of a whole which has roots in the most distant past and climbs toward the infinite future." Maria Montessori

The Butterfly & The Cat

Only when it is as painful to inflict emotional or physical pain on other living beings as it is on ourselves will we truly understand that all creation and humanity are one and that there are consequences for every action, a reaction for every action.

The Noir Side

"Endless Search," by Jerome Bushyhead
"Endless Search,"
© Jerome Bushyhead


There is a promise land.
You must travel a long road. It is an Endless Search.

Man's greatest fear is a kind of existential terror- the fear of not being- of being unable to control one's own life, one's thoughts, one's emotions, actions and future. The ability to extend beyond ones self and find meaning in giving, a firm belief in God, universal truths and/or the power of ones own humanity and the oneness of humanity- to overcome the condition of isolation- is critical if this terror is to be manageable and turned into a constructive life force.

The Blues

"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." -Albert Einstein

In myself I see a reflection of all humankind. I see the potentialities of all cultures and norms of behavior within me. To the extent I see, or I should say feel, the human capacity to be blind and indifferent, I feel the need to stay awake and alive The realization that we are all part of one whole enlarges my compassion and hopefully my ability to extend that compassion to my students.

Society & Culture
Health & Social Action

Begun in 1996 as Cyberplanet for Renewal, then renamed earthrenewal.org in 1999. Now with over 500,000 annual visitors & links from over 7,000 sites. SafeSurf rated.

Cyberplanet for Renewal
Audio Message, 1996

Copyright © Lowell J. Greenberg
All rights reserved.

Colon Cancer Alliance

Web Hosting Provided by HostMySite.com