“Make America Great Again.” or “America Is Already Great.”?

Neither. No country is or has ever been great and our species is not nor has it ever been great. What many countries and humanity as a whole have done is progress a long way towards greatness. On this journey many great things have been accomplished however there’s still a long way to go before our species or any specific country can be considered great. I believe that humanity can achieve greatness, not perfection but greatness, by the end of this century provided we all do our best to become great individuals, to positively influence those around us, and work to positively shape the societies in which we live.

U.S. Politics and Islamic Terrorism

The Middle East is on fire and the first thing we need to do to extinguish this fire is to stop fueling it and providing it power vacuums to grow in, e.g., Iraq, Libya, Syria, because no matter how well planned and carefully executed a U.S. supported multilateral military campaign led by Muslim nations in the region against ISIS is it will not succeed if terrorists are being created faster than they’re being destroyed and/or persuaded to renounce violence.

Advocating to discriminate against people who identify as Muslim whether it be by temporarily banning them from entering the U.S. or by creating a database of those who are already in the U.S. and targeting them for surveillance is not only morally wrong it’s strategically stupid because humanity needs the help of these people to put an end to the kind of indiscriminate violence we saw in Brussels yesterday and bunching them all into one big group and discriminating against them on the basis of which religion they were indoctrinated into as a child regardless of how they decide to interpret and practice that religion as adults isn’t the way to get it.

Casino Jack and the United States of Money

If you’re a U.S. citizen please watch this documentary and see just how corrupt your country is, why campaign finance reform is such a critical issue, and why it’s important to transition to publicly funded elections which is something only Bernie Sanders is talking about. As for Hillary Clinton she is waste deep in this corrupt campaign finance system and won’t even release the transcripts to her paid speeches to Wall Street. We need a political revolution to get big money out of politics and overcome this corrupt system of campaign finance and return power to the people U.S. politicians are supposed to represent. Bernie is the candidate to do it!

Casino Jack and the United States of Money

Ignorocracy or Apathocracy?

I voted today! My vote won’t be received for two weeks and it won’t be counted for another four after that however I did mail in my absentee ballot. In 2014 just over a third of the US electorate cast a vote and even more pathetic is that of 18 to 34 year-olds less than a quarter of them voted. No wonder we have a bunch of fossil fuel funded climate change deniers in the House and Senate doing everything they can to obstruct initiatives that shift the U.S. to clean energy and set a positive example for the rest of the world.

Equally pathetic is that in 2014 around 95% of those running for re-election in the House and Senate were re-elected. This either shows how awesome Congress is or how ignorant and apathetic the voters are and how big money rather than voter preference really determines who runs and gets elected. Don’t just wait until November to pull the lever for whichever of the two candidates were selected for you but vote now or in the coming weeks depending on where you live for the candidate you’d like to see on the ballot in November.

Fixing a Broken System

Who are the “Billionaire Class” and why is Bernie so adamant about standing up to them?

Why is comprehensive campaign finance reform so critical to the future of U.S. democracy?

When are people in the U.S. going to wake up and support politicians that represent their best interests rather than those of big money donors?

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

The more you learn the more you Feel the Bern!

Bernie 2016

I support the Independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders for President of the United States because of all the candidates running for the Presidency in 2016 I’m confident that under a Sanders Administration we can achieve the best health outcomes for individuals, society, and the planet.

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SOTU 2016

In case you missed it President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address last night. In summary despite what you may have heard from Fox News, Conservative Talk Radio, and in the Republican Debates the U.S. has done pretty well the over past 7 years particularly when you compare them to the previous 8 under President George W. invade-the-wrong-country-and-give-rise-to-ISIS Bush who was granted the authority to do so by then Senator Hillary Clinton who supported the disastrously destabilizing and illegal invasion of Iraq a war which was opposed by Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.

If you’re interested in watching and/or reading about the speech you can do so on the White House website.

The U.S. and Climate Change

With the U.S. responsible for emitting more of the greenhouse gas currently in the atmosphere than any other two nations combined and the average U.S. citizen responsible for greenhouse gas emissions that are over three times the global average it is shameful that so many U.S. citizens chose to elect such a scientifically illiterate and ecologically irresponsible group of ill-informed and imprudent people to the U.S. Senate and Congress.

If your representatives recently voted against reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and you disapprove then please let them know that you support the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to curb climate change; and when considering who to vote for in future elections please take where the candidates stand on protecting the biosphere, preserving its biodiversity, and curbing climate change into serious consideration.

White House     U.S. Senate     U.S. House of Representatives
Please write to your representatives in government when their actions do not represent you.

per_capita_emissionshistorical_emissions

Vietnam War

April 30th marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war. A war which spanned three decades during which millions died, many of them civilians and many of them engaged in armed struggle first against U.S. backed French colonizers and then against the U.S. itself who in addition to bombs covered the beautiful and biodiverse country of Vietnam in toxic chemicals which are still causing horrific birth defects to this day.

While so many eyes are on Japan and it’s Prime Minster in anticipation of how he will represent Japan in another WW2 anniversary apology I think more eyes should be on the U.S. for an apology which has yet to come for what it did in Vietnam as well as in neighboring Laos and Cambodia where people are still being maimed and killed as a result of unexploded bombs dropped by the U.S. which has thus far done far too little to clean up.

There are many lessons to learn from the Vietnam War including how racism and us/them thinking in general can pave the way to unthinkable acts one couldn’t even imagine enacting upon ones “own people”. More important than celebrating victory on this 70th anniversary of WW2 the U.S. should be humbly reflecting upon defeat on this 40th anniversary of the Vietnam War and how an ill-informed public along with bad foreign policy decisions like the one to support the French in their attempt to recolonize Vietnam after it fought with the U.S. in WW2 to expel Japanese forces led to such a terrible tragedy.

East West WW2

On this 70th anniversary of WW2 rather than simply pointing fingers at Japan it’s important to better understand the events which led a country that existed in near complete isolation and at peace with the world for well over 200 years to militarize and to or attempt to brutally colonize it’s neighbors. While Japan has no excuse for its actions during and leading up to the war Western powers must not fail to recognize their responsibility in helping to shape pre-WW2 Japan because one of the most important things that can be learned from any war is the role ones actions played in shaping if not creating ones enemies and adversaries.

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U.S.-Japan Pew Poll

In a recent Pew Poll regarding U.S.-Japan relations I was surprised to read that out of 1000 U.S. adults polled 73% said they had never heard of Prime Minister Abe who is Japans current and longest serving Prime Minister in nearly a decade. Considering the U.S. has around 50,000 military personnel stationed in Japan with over half of them stationed on the small island of Okinawa which represents only around .6% of Japans total landmass, and treaty obligations to defend Japan if it provokes a war with China over its refusal to even recognize there is a territorial dispute with China over the Diao Yu Islands I thought I should provide a brief introduction to Mr. Abe by mentioning some of his fairly recent statements and actions.

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Respect the People, Close the Base, Save the Dugongs

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Operation Iceberg which is more commonly known as the Battle of Okinawa. A battle in which perhaps as many as 200,000 people, many of them civilians, died premature and often painful deaths over a period of 82 days of intense fighting on the small subtropical island of Okinawa. However although nearly 70 years have passed since the end of WW2 the people of Okinawa are still struggling to gain control of their land and future.

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Mercury Pollution

Supreme court weighing rules to limit pollution from US power stations (An article from The Guardian.)

If this concerns you please voice your concern to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s what I just sent:

Please side with human and environmental health and vote to support the rules to limit the release of mercury and other toxins unnecessarily emitted from coal-fired power plants and other sources. I support these rules because the intelligence of children and the health of the population in general is far more important than the profits of a few companies.

Thank you for considering the broader and long-term implications of this issue and remembering just because you aren’t receiving many emails like this from young mothers and their young children I assure you they would also support these rules as would the vast majority of the U.S. and global population had they been better informed and more involved so amongst all the corporate lobbying please keep the silent majority in mind when making your decision on this important issue.

Israel, Iran, and U.S. Foreign Policy

In light of recent events now is as good of a time as any for the U.S. to re-evaluate its relationship with Israel and put an end to policies which not only repeatedly sees the U.S. as a lone voice in the U.N. defending the misdeeds of Israel, but also provides it, a country with a per capita GDP on par with that of Spain, with around 3 billion dollars annually in foreign aid.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership

Here’s why I’m standing up for better trade:

Because I do not want to see trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership passed with investor-state dispute settlement provisions which allow foreign corporations to sue signatory nations in international tribunals over the current and future health and environmental protection laws and regulations of these nations if they are deemed harmful to business. In other words I do not support trade agreements which put the financial interests of corporations before the health interests of people and the planet.

Moreover I do not want to see any trade agreements passed which haven’t been made fully transparent to not only the small group comprised mainly of multinational corporations who are participating in the drafting of this important agreement, but also to the public at large. Therefore I have voiced my opinion to my representative in Congress to deny the President his request for the authority to fast-track this agreement as it must be thoroughly discussed and debated in Congress before being put to a vote. This is why I’m standing up for better trade.

Tell the White House why you’re standing up for better trade.

Read more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the Sierra Club website.

2015 State of the Union Address

Regardless of whether you politically identify yourself as red, blue, green, or like myself as independent and aligned with principles rather than political parties, if you support action to address climate change and the deterioration of the biosphere in general then please contact your government representatives and let them know you want to see progress and positive results in addressing these important issues; and not politics as usual which often seems like a never-ending cycle of one politician or political party trying to make another look bad in preparation for the next election. Regardless of who you voted for in the last election and who you intend to vote for in the next one please don’t let entrenched positions and partisan blindness prevent you from taking a few steps back and getting a broader and clearer view of where we stand as a civilization and realizing what we need to be doing as a species starting with each of us as individuals.

White House     U.S. Senate     U.S. House of Representatives     U.S. Governors

Voice Your Opposition to the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline.

If you don’t want to see the US and the rest of the world go further down the dirty dead end road of extracting and burning fossil fuels, especially those refined from tar sands oil which is even more polluting and even harder to clean up than conventional oil, then voice your opposition to this pipeline. By opposing the construction of this pipeline we make it more likely that this sludge stays in the ground and show the world that the US and its citizens are serious about climate change and protecting the biosphere.

Your Senators Contact Information (call or email it only takes a minute and means a lot)

For more information about this pipeline check out the National Resource Defense Council’s website where you’ll find a concise 5 point article and a 3 minute video.

Pricing Carbon

Today I received an email from the White House regarding the 2015 State of the Union address asking me what I’d like to see accomplished during the Obama administration’s final 2 years in office. I encourage any US citizens reading this to visit the link for themselves, select an issue, and perhaps provide them with some suggestions. Here’s what I sent. Maybe it’ll give you some ideas, maybe you’ll resend it in support to make sure it gets read, or maybe you’ll improve upon it and send it as your own which you are more than welcome to do with anything on this site.

With elections out of the way, the economy on solid footing, and gas prices the lowest they’ve been in a long time I hope the Obama administration, as well as all other administrations and global citizens, will do much more over the next 2 years to address climate change, environmental degradation, and the daily loss of precious biodiversity starting with how he presents these interlinked issues in the 2015 State of the Union address. Addressing climate change, safeguarding the biosphere, and preserving biodiversity are challenges that must unite us as a nation and as a global community of nations.

In his speech I hope that the President helps people in the US and around the world better understand the current and potential consequences of a slight but rapid rise in the earth’s temperature and mentions that regardless of how much humans are responsible for the undeniable rise in global temperatures releasing more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, whether it be from consuming energy or eating meat, will only make matters worse and not just for future generations but for us and especially for our children and grandchildren. So lets start doing things that help ensure humanity stays safe and stop doing things which set it up to be sorry like denying climate change is even an issue and obstructing the legislation needed to combat it.

Speaking of legislation one suggestion I’d like to voice my support for is, as part of a broader carbon tax scheme, setting base prices for fossil fuels, e.g., a gallon of gas. This will allow us to take advantage low oil and natural gas prices to raise revenue to address the health and environmental issues related to the extraction, transportation, and burning of fossil fuels while helping incentivize consumers to conserve and companies to innovate. Where to set the price and what to do with the revenue needs to be debated, however regardless of whether it’s used to invest in clean energy, public transportation, or refunded evenly on a per capita basis the important thing is to disincentivize the burning of fossil fuels.

The power the US has by way of it’s positive example is far greater than any power wielded by it’s military might so I hope in this century, despite the poor start, the US will fully utilize this power for its own good and the good of the world. The US implementing a bold carbon tax scheme is what the world needs right now especially as other nations prepare their own environmental commitments ahead of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference whose outcome will in large part determine what kind of a planet we’ll be leaving to future generations so lets set a good example.