Bend — or break

In this broader discussion of our many differences, it’s a no-brainer that we need to put ourselves in the other guys shoes … toe in, toe out … to see if the water is as chilling as it’s touted to be. Here, on the Left, we are accused of being too soft, too tepid, too undisciplined, not tough enough on all the ills of the world. Pushovers, as it were.

The Hawks are screaming today, lead by wee Lindsey Graham (whom Bill Maher gleefully references as John McCain’s bitch) calling for more aggression and leadership … wah wah wah … and that water is waaaaay too hot.

Indeed, today I listened to just about every Sunday pundit from the moderate to Right-leaning, talk about how Obama is asleep at the switch and how America is virtually leaderless. If you suck up the Kool-aid on this level, you’ll agree with those who believe it’s un-American not to keep the rest of the world on a choker-chain, obedient to our might (makes right? Not!)

And yet, if you examine the numbers on most progressive issues, you’ll find that the populous at large wants less war, more safety nets and government regulation, more dialogue and — most definitely — solutions to the many problems we suffer … answers to which, should Obama lead on them, will not be tolerated nor supported from the Right.

They want more military solutions but won’t fund military expansion. They want more boarder control and answers to the dilemma that’s put hundreds of thousands of children in our care, but they won’t fund immigrations needs. No matter what the need, always the fault of this black president, it won’t be funded so they can continue to bitch, non-stop, about lack of leadership. It’s just freekin’ tiresome!

This is a post containing two letters to those who will not flex, about why they should — and a MoveOn petition asking Hillary to flex on GMO’s. That last is especially worthwhile considering the recent decision by the House Agriculture Committee that the American public is just too damned dumb to understand the science (and necessity) behind modified foods.

Quick, excellent reads for a weekend. Excellent pieces to pass on to anyone who is beginning to question some of their hard-core stance. The GMO petition is an activist/op.

Jude

Letter to Boehner: What the hell, pal?
OPEN LETTER TO JOHN BOEHNER published in the Cincinnati Inquirer in response to an op-ed by Boehner entitled “Obama is trampling the Constitution”
July 15, 2014

John, I consider you a friend of mine. We’ve known one another for well over 50 years. Our parents knew each other, were friends and neighbors in Reading. Our family businesses were directly across the street from each other for over 70 years. But John, what the hell are you doing?

You’ve got nothing more pressing to do than sue a president who was elected twice by the majority of voting Americans?

You say “the majority of Americans are frustrated.” I agree, but not with this president. They’re frustrated with the childishness of those purporting to serve all the American people.

The majority of Republicans are frustrated. Sure, I get that. But everything shouldn’t come to a halt because you don’t control the White House. By the way, you better get used to that too. You won’t get that back by appealing to Old White Guys.

John, whatever time you’ve got left in Washington, roll-up your sleeves and get Washington moving in the correct direction. Not this “we block everything you want” and “you block everything we want” mentality.

Now, how about a round of golf at Sharon Woods on Sunday? On me. I’ll need 2 a side.

Your pal, Mooch
Jerry Mouch, Wyoming ++
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The Corporate States of America

Corporate expansion. What can stop it now? That little leak in the dike of Constitutional law that holds back a flood of special interests has turned into a flood, already, thanks to our muddled Supreme Court. This is going to be spectacular by the time it plays out — and I hope Alito has to eat every word he wrote [THIS LIFETIME, don'cha know!]

Here are three reads on corporate hijinks. The first is an excellent piece from the LA Times on Hobby Lobby. The next two are short reports that indicate how corporations have already pushed the envelope. “Privatize” — a concept that has entered every area of our lives and will leave us less able to function as a nation on every level.

But the corporate Supremes have opened Pandora’s Box, on this one. The sword cuts both ways. For instance:

Hobby Lobby Eco-Fallout: Does Fracking Violate My Religious Freedom?
Gary Wockner, EcoWatch
July 1, 2014

Remember this one? “Be careful what you wish for.”

Jude

Danger sign: The Supreme Court has already expanded Hobby Lobby decision
Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times
7/02/2014

-Can just anyone claim a religious exemption to Obamacare now? Courts say yes

-The Supreme Court has already expanded the “startling breadth” of the Hobby Lobby case

-Obamacare challengers can now dress up their claims in religious garb–but how will we know they’re sincere?

The Supreme Court has already expanded the “startling breadth” of the Hobby Lobby case Obamacare challengers can now dress up their claims in religious garb–but how will we know they’re sincere?

The Supreme Court wasted no time in delivering a message to anyone who thought its Hobby Lobby ruling was limited to religious objections to coverage of purported abortion methods:

You’re wrong.

The day after handing down the Hobby Lobby decision on Monday, the court issued orders pertaining to six pending cases in which employers claimed religious objections to all contraceptive services required under the Affordable Care Act. The court either ordered appeals courts to reconsider their rejection of the employers’ claims in light of the Hobby Lobby decision, or let stand lower courts’ endorsement of those claims.

In at least one of those cases, the sincerity of the employer’s religious objections is open to question. That shows why allowing a broad “religious” exemption from a federal law can be atrociously bad policy. More on that in a moment.

Tuesday’s orders are just the beginning: The Becket Fund, the religious law firm that represented Hobby Lobby in its legal case, lists 49 pending federal cases in which for-profit companies have brought purportedly religious objections to the ACA. An additional 51 cases involve nonprofit organizations. The floodgates aren’t about to open–they’re already open.

Obviously, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her dissent called the Hobby Lobby ruling “a decision of startling breadth,” she didn’t even scratch the surface.
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Ready to Rumble

Here’s your think-piece for the solstice weekend — a really interesting read, and a blast of enthusiasm from an unlikely source.

Robert Steele, former insider who knows where the bodies are buried, thinks the revolution is coming and it will be from the bottom up. Sounds like a man of the people!

Favorite quote:

“Properly educated people always appreciate holistic approaches to any challenge. This means that they understand both cause and effect, and intertwined complexities,” he said. “A major part of our problem in the public policy arena is the decline in intelligence with integrity among key politicians and staff at the same time that think tanks and universities and non-governmental organisations have also suffered a similar intellectual diminishment.”

Save this one for later if you don’t have time today, but get to it — you’ll be glad you did.

Jude

The open source revolution is coming and it will conquer the 1% – ex CIA spy
The man who trained more than 66 countries in open source methods calls for re-invention of intelligence to re-engineer Earth
Nafeez Ahmed, EarthInsight via Guardian
6/19/14

Robert David Steele, former Marine, CIA case officer, and US co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence activity, is a man on a mission. But it’s a mission that frightens the US intelligence establishment to its core.

With 18 years experience working across the US intelligence community, followed by 20 more years in commercial intelligence and training, Steele’s exemplary career has spanned almost all areas of both the clandestine world.

Steele started off as a Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer. After four years on active duty, he joined the CIA for about a decade before co-founding the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, where he was deputy director. Widely recognised as the leader of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) paradigm, Steele went on to write the handbooks on OSINT for NATO, the US Defense Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Forces. In passing, he personally trained 7,500 officers from over 66 countries.

In 1992, despite opposition from the CIA, he obtained Marine Corps permission to organise a landmark international conference on open source intelligence – the paradigm of deriving information to support policy decisions not through secret activities, but from open public sources available to all. The conference was such a success it brought in over 620 attendees from the intelligence world.

But the CIA wasn’t happy, and ensured that Steele was prohibited from running a second conference.

The clash prompted him to resign from his position as second-ranking civilian in Marine Corps intelligence, and pursue the open source paradigm elsewhere. He went on to found and head up the Open Source Solutions Network Inc. and later the non-profit Earth Intelligence Network which runs the Public Intelligence Blog.

I first came across Steele when I discovered his Amazon review of my third book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism. A voracious reader, Steele is the number 1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction across 98 categories. He also reviewed my latest book, A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization, but told me I’d overlooked an important early work – ‘A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change.’
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Your Inner Populist

I’m a populist. I suspect you’re one, as well. We average citizens are populists when we need to be, when the red flags are waved, when it becomes apparent that we’d better do something soon or reap the whirlwind.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a populist is one that adopts “a political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against the privileged elite.”

Yep, that’d be us.

Here are reads on the “new” populism. The first is from Jim Hightower, sincere populist of the First Water. The next two, and the link, are excellent analysis from Richard Escow, having to do with the Campaign for America’s Future May conference on populism. The last is a take-down of Escow’s articles for faux-populist rhetoric, as well as his group as a shill for establishment Dems. It’s hostile and cynical, which is ok with me as long as it tells the truth as the author sees it. I don’t see it quite that way, but he makes a few good points.

Still, if we are going to move into a “new” era, see things with “new” eyes, we have to give up this kind of polarization. I find all these reads helpful and encouraging. Hope you do too.

Jude

Jim Hightower: Has the United States Gone Crazy?
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

It might appear that the U-S-of-A has gone bonkers. So let me clear up any confusion that you might have: Yes, it has!

Yet, it hasn’t. More on that in a moment.

First, though — whether looking at the “tea party” congress critters who’ve swerved our nation’s political debate to the hard right, or at the peacocks of Wall Street who continue to preen and profit atop the wreckage they’ve made of our real economy — it’s plain to see that America is suffering a pestilence of nuts and narcissists in high places. These “leaders” are hell bent to enthrone themselves and their ilk as the potentates of our economic, governmental and social systems, and they are aggressively trying to snuff out the light of egalitarianism that historically has been our society’s unifying force.

Bill Moyers, America’s most public-spirited journalist, summarized the state of or nation in these terms: “The delusion is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe to sit at the seat of power.” Symptoms of this national insanity include these examples:

— We can’t even keep the doors of our government open. In October of last year, Washington’s tea party Republican faction, unable to win the budget cuts it had demanded, threw a procedural fit to get what its acolytes wanted. Their stunt literally shut down the nation’s government for 16 days and bled $24 billion from the U.S. economy. They won nothing except the widespread public scorn they earned for being self-aggrandizing political fools.

— Lloyd Blankfein, bankster-in-chief of Goldman Sachs, runs a financial casino that has bilked its own customers, been so reckless that it took a $10 billion taxpayer bailout to keep it afloat and lobbied furiously to kill regulatory reforms that would’ve reined in its ongoing destructiveness. So has this wrongdoer faced prosecution and jail? Ha! Blankfein continues to reign, retaining his CEOship at Goldman and hauling in $23 million last year in personal pay.

— A narrow, five-man majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has decreed that corporations are “persons” with the right to spend unlimited sums of their shareholders’ money to elect or defeat whomever they want — and to do so secretly.
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Kids, These Days!

It’s a wonderment. My 12-year old granddaughter and 15-year old grandson resonate politically like nobody’s business. I’m 1500 miles away and their parent’s aren’t overtly political, so how did it happen that they “know” about these things … as in “kuh-no” … have an awareness of political stuff reminiscent of my own generation that exploded against cultural repression and growing militarism in the 60s?

I suppose that’s all part of the grand plan, yes? Well, hooray! This is the kind of thing we need MORE of! MUCH MORE!

Pass this post around to those who need their spirits lifted. For those who think the world has no future, another look at these young ones might just change their mind.

Jude

Youths sue U.S. government over climate inaction
An unprecedented massive legal campaign led by young Americans is playing out in courtrooms across the nation
Amel Ahmed, Al Jazeera
May 4, 2014

Young people across the country are suing several government agencies for failing to develop a climate change recovery plan, conduct that amounts to a violation of their constitutional rights, says their lawyer Julia Olson.

Their futures are at stake, say the young plaintiffs.

“Climate change is the biggest issue of our time,” said 13-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, a member of nonprofit Kids vs. Global Warming, a plaintiff in the suit.

“It’s not every day you see young people getting involved politically but the climate crisis is changing all that. Every generation from here on out is going to be affected by climate change,” added Roske-Martinez, who also founded environmental nonfprofit Earth Matters and organized successful actions in his hometown of Boulder, Colo.

The federal suit, which has made its way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is part of a groundbreaking nationwide legal campaign spearheaded by youth and backed by some of the world’s leading climate scientists and legal scholars.

The case, filed by five teenagers and two nonprofits — WildEarth Guardians and Kids vs. Global Warming — representing thousands more youth, relies on the Public Trust Doctrine, which requires government to protect resources essential to the survival of all generations.

“With the United States as the largest historic emitter of carbon dioxide, the atmospheric resource cannot be restored without government action,” Olson told Al Jazeera.

Supported by more than 30 environmental and constitutional professors, the young plaintiffs name six federal agencies in their suit — the Environmental Protection Agency, Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Defense.

“The welfare of youth is directly affected by the failure of government to confront human-made climate change, and unless the government acts immediately to rapidly reduce carbon emissions … youth will face irrevocable harm: the collapse of natural resource systems and a largely uninhabitable nation,” read the complaint.

In addition to the federal suit, actions were filed in all 50 states with help from Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit that supports young people through legal efforts.

The scale of the campaign is unprecedented, according to law professor Mary Wood, faculty director at the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the University of Oregon.

“Never before in the history of our laws have we seen a coordinated set of legal actions on this scale,” she said.

The monumental campaign matches the magnitude of the problem, supporters say.

Because climate change is a recent phenomena, there’s no precedent. Judges haven’t had to face the climate crisis. ++

This Fifth-Grader Raised $200,000 to Clean Up the Gulf Oil Spill by Selling Watercolors
These three young activists found creative ways to tackle issues from climate change to voting rights.
YES! Magazine staff
Apr 30, 2014

1. Olivia Bouler: Painting to rescue birds and restore habitat

Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Olivia Bouler asked the National Audubon Society how her skill as an artist and her love of birds could be put to use. The fifth grader from Islip, N.Y., created a web page offering her vibrantly colored and lively paintings in exchange for donations.

Five hundred of Bouler’s watercolors of pelicans, warblers, buntings, and other North American birds were claimed within three weeks, and donors eventually contributed $200,000 to restoration efforts.

In the media coverage that followed, Bouler spoke about the importance of small actions in response to big environmental issues like habitat loss and pollution. She sees kids’ ability to focus on one piece at a time as a lesson to adults for whom the overwhelming magnitude of a problem may be an obstacle to taking action.

To spark kids’ interest in nature, Bouler, now in high school, regularly shares her knowledge and enthusiasm for birds and drawing in classrooms, sometimes with the help of her younger brother Jackson, a puppeteer. A traveling exhibit of her artwork and her children’s book, Olivia’s Birds, encourage people to mobilize, one beach or backyard at a time.

2. Madison Kimrey: Speaking on behalf of future voters

When 12-year-old Madison Kimrey isn’t juggling schoolwork, voice lessons, and drama rehearsals, she’s speaking out to protect voting rights for young people. Recently, her home state of North Carolina passed a restrictive voter ID law that sparked lawsuits from the NAACP and the ACLU, who believe it will dissuade some demographics, including young adults, from voting.

Kimrey sought a meeting with Governor Pat McCrory to discuss her opposition to the law’s elimination of voter pre-registration for teenagers. McCrory ignored her request, calling her a “prop for liberal groups.” Bubbly and quick-witted Kimrey, who writes all her own speeches, replied that Governor McCrory’s response “isn’t the kind of leadership that our state deserves.”

Kimrey is in favor of voter pre-registration for teens because it makes it more likely that young people will cast their first ballot at age 18. She sees her championship of voting rights for teenagers as the latest manifestation of a long tradition: “I am a part of the new generation of suffragettes,” she says. Her work with MoveOn.org’s campaign for a federal voter pre-registration program for teenagers has been recognized with the Youth Ambassador award from Davidson Young Scholars.

3. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: Demanding protection for the atmosphere

Thirteen-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a Colorado group that involves young people in fighting climate change. He’s well qualified for the role, having been an environmental activist since the age of six. Martinez’s Aztec first name, pronounced “Shoe-Tez-Caht,” reflects the indigenous ancestry and belief system he sees as the source of his environmentalism. “We were all indigenous at one point,” says Martinez, but “we have forgotten that the Earth gives us all that we need.”

Saddened by the environmental damage caused by hydraulic fracking in his home state of Colorado, Martinez is a plaintiff in lawsuits that seek to hold the state and federal governments accountable for protecting the Earth’s atmosphere. “We’re asking for a six percent carbon reduction annually,” Martinez explained of the federal lawsuit backed by NASA scientist James Hansen, “which could get us back down to 350 parts per million.”

Martinez looks for ways to make environmental activism appealing to young people. Despite the adult responsibilities of his role as a spokesperson, he enjoys being a regular kid in his spare time: playing ninjas, rope swinging into water holes, and writing inspirational rap songs. ++

When This Teacher’s Ethnic Studies Classes Were Banned, His Students Took the District to Court—and Won
Curtis Acosta’s classes in Mexican American Studies gave kids pride in their heritage—until the Arizona Legislature canceled them. That’s when his students became activists, and some real-life lessons began.
Jing Fong, YES! Magazine
Apr 25, 2014

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
~ The Reverend Martin Luther King

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