The GOP Are Not Just Trying to Suppress the Vote. They Are Trying to Control the Count.

When DT took office in 2017, the novel 1984 by George Orwell became a popular read. With DT in the White House, the fictional portrait of our future was moving closer to becoming reality. The GOP are, today, trying to keep that movement alive.

 

As journalist George Packer wrote in The Atlantic in 2019: “The week of DT’s inauguration, when the president’s adviser Kellyanne Conway justified his false crowd estimate by using the phrase alternative facts, the novel returned to the best-seller lists. A theatrical adaptation was rushed to Broadway. The vocabulary of Newspeak went viral. An authoritarian president who stood the term fake news on its head, who once said, ‘What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,’ has given 1984 a whole new life.”

 

And it is so blatant. The GOP are not a political party as we have known such for most of our history. They are more like a camp of oligarchic terrorists, employing techniques used by Fascists and other authoritarian regimes, and excoriated in 1984, to attempt a slow-moving coup, whose aim is the destruction of voting rights and constitutional democracy, and the creation of a one-party state.

 

In the novel, the threat of invasion by other nations was used to maintain a state of permanent emergency, create a totalitarian regime, and control all aspects of life, even people’s thoughts. In our nation, for four plus years DT tried to keep us in constant shock, not through lies about invasions by other countries but lies about almost everything, for example, about invasions of immigrants, even children of color. They used doublethink, and newspeak to portray what could reveal truths or save lives, like masks, and turn them into assaults on community and freedom.

 

Many GOP claim to value freedom, but the only freedom they value is to agree with them. They attack, try to frighten, basically try to unperson those who oppose them (Liz Cheney, Jay Raffensperger, Marie Yovanovitch, and Democrats) or who they want to hide, deny and show no empathy for their suffering (thousands who died from COVID-19). And then there’s DT’s Big Brother DOJ illegally seizing emails of Democrats and their staff.

 

Political strategist David Plouffe said on MSNBC last week, “They`re not hiding what they`re doing. …they`re not only trying to make it harder to register to vote, they want to change …who gets to decide who wins elections….” “[T]his is existential. If you think that this Republican won`t go to the …furthest extremes to hold on to power, to steal power, to deny voters their franchise, I don`t know what you`re watching.”

 

The New York Times reports that, for example, the GOP in Georgia are eliminating people of color, especially Democrats of color, from local election boards. In Arizona, not only did they create an audit of the 2020 vote based on a false narrative; they also introduced a bill to strip the Democratic Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, of her authority over election lawsuits, for her term in office only.

 

The aim of the GOP is to control not only the teaching of history but how each moment is remembered. They continue the “Big Lie,” to divide the nation and falsely claim DT was the winner of the 2020 election despite losing by 7 million plus votes, despite having no evidence and losing in any court where they tried to fraudulently claim the election was fraudulent. Doublespeak. They try to steal an election by claiming democrats are trying to steal it.

 

Many GOP are still denying the reality of the Jan. 6 attempt to steal the election, even though millions saw it happen on live tv. GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said federal law enforcement was “harassing peaceful patriots.” And Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., added: “It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others.”

 

But we know about the lies. We know the GOP are trying to create their own version of a Ministry of Truth so we the people cannot get accurate information, and not only about January 6.  During the DT administration, they hid information on the coronavirus, which led to possibly thousands of deaths, and on global warming, which threatens all our lives.

 

Historian Kellie Carter Jackson wrote in the Atlantic that, as of last Thursday, Juneteenth is now a national holiday, which honors the “history and memory of emancipation, liberation, and advancement” of Black People in this country. Yet the GOP in control of the legislatures of many states are trying to hide the history of slavery while banning the teaching of critical race theory, despite the fact that no public schools now teach it, and ban curricula focused on the lasting effects of slavery and racism.

 

On June 16, NPR had a wonderful program on the Alamo, revealing not only that Texas was born out of a movement to protect slavery. But even today, the Governor wants to make sure no one knows it.

 

The aim of the GOP is to make daily life so burdensome to most Americans that we go along just to survive. They have shifted the tax burden, for example, so the rich now pay such a small percentage of their earnings in taxes. When the rich and corporations pay less, the cost to the rest of us goes up⎼ the costs for education, health insurance, electricity, bridges, roads, water, protection from pandemics, etc. will all rise.

 

Once we lose the vote, and constitutional protections, the right to speak out, and protest, the right to a fair trial, can be eliminated. The GOP could also more freely sell off or mis-use our natural resources, land, air, water to sate their greed, ignore the effects of such use on the health of citizens, and ignore increasing natural disasters from climate change.

 

Now, with a Democratic administration, we have the opportunity to pressure Congress to protect the vote. Let’s take it. Speak out. Join about 70 groups and hundreds of activists working to get a voting rights bill like the For the People Act made into law. The GOP won’t even allow the bill to be debated in the Senate and will use the filibuster to stop it from being passed. Call Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Urge them to honor their oath to protect the constitution, get rid of the filibuster, and stop the GOP attempt at a coup to end democracy⎼ stop them from making their fiction our reality.

 

*You can also read this post on The Good Men Project, which syndicated it.

 

The Cold of Winter, the Heat of Summer, and our Neighbors are not Abstractions

It’s snowing again. It has snowed heavily for a day or two, lightly for over a week. More snow. More cold.

 

Yet, it’s beautiful. White flakes fill the sky. When the wind speaks, the flakes whip around, the air itself excited.

 

How can we look at the snow and simply enjoy it, see only the white flakes, and see no other time but this? Back in November, the first snowfall was exciting. I couldn’t help but let my eyes delight in it. But now?

 

The snow and cold is what we mean by winter. Winter is not just a date on a calendar and time not just an abstraction. Dogen Zenji, a 13th century Japanese Zen teacher said, in reference to spring, “The time we call spring blossoms directly as an existence called flowers.” The time we call winter falls directly as an existence called snow. If we don’t like the cold, we can’t suddenly decide to love it, but we can love the fact that we can feel. Then, although we won’t suddenly warm up, rip off our winter clothes and run naked in the snow, we can be naked in our response and dress accordingly.

 

When we feel something we don’t like or that threatens us or is hurtful, we turn away. This is crucial to our survival. And when the threat is ongoing, we might want to turn away from anything or everything that reminds us of the danger. This can give us needed relief whether we’re facing immediate danger, trauma, or a malignant political administration.

 

But also crucial is noticing⎼ are we protecting ourselves from the threat, or from feeling the threat? Or from both? It’s awful to fear our fear so much we can’t see clearly what frightens us. We then don’t take needed action. As much as we are able in each moment, we need to see clearly enough to act.

 

Even though it was cold and snowing, I shoveled the path from my house and then took a walk up our hill. It was tough going. My wife and I live on a fairly steep rural road. A neighbor, who I had gotten to know slightly since I started taking daily walks during the pandemic, was out shoveling. After greeting him, he said to me, “Where is global warming now?” I thought, at first, he said it as a joke, but then realized it was a barb. We had had discussions about the climate before.

 

He said natural events, like volcanic eruptions, magma and the clouds they cause are warming the earth, not humans. I replied that global warming did not mean there would no longer be snow or cold. It meant there has been a raise in average temperature all over the world and an increase in destructive weather events, all happening too fast for it to be explained by volcanoes or other non-human processes.

 

I realized he wasn’t really listening to me and, distressingly, I didn’t have all the facts at hand. So I tried what I thought was common sense. “Isn’t it logical that all the air pollution caused by human manufacturing, fossil fuel energy, etc. would cause problems? That the released gases like carbon dioxide would create a sort of hothouse effect over the earth? And that we bear most of the responsibility for this increase in global temperature?”

 

He didn’t seem to know or want to know anything about carbon dioxide. So we switched gears. I wished him a good day and continued on my walk, resolved to go online when I got home to update my knowledge of global warming….

 

To read the whole piece, go to The Good Men Project.

It’s So Easy to Lose Our Heads: The Need to Secure and Advance Democracy

It is so easy to lose our heads. To get angry or depressed or want to run and hide. Or blame someone ⎼ that’s always been a strategy to clutch at. Blame this person or that group. Blame Muslims, if you’re a supporter of T, or blame Congresswomen of color or just women. Or just people of color. Or just journalists. Or people who actually examine the news and think critically about it. Or scientists⎼ that’s a clever strategy. Blame the people who actually study our universe and invent things and keep our technology and healthcare, etc. advancing.

 

Or blame the Democratic Party and DNC. But wait. Some of my FB friends do that, too. Fellow progressives, liberals and lefties. Afterall, the DNC has certainly been despicable at times in the past. Some even claim the Democrats are no better than the Grand Old Party, the party which is no longer republican, but despotic or dictatorial, or the party of denial, denial of global warming, of the facts in the Ukrainian scandal, of facts, period. The GOP will deny global warming, but the Democrats just won’t act, they say.

 

This equation of the two parties distorts the reality and undermines our ability to act effectively. Just compare the efforts of the GOP, for example, to undermine voting and women’s rights and public education while protecting foreign interference in our elections and increasing the wealth of the wealthiest Americans, with the record of legislation passed by the House since the election of 2018.

 

We know the costs to ourselves and others of the blame game. When we look inside ourselves, we can see and feel it. It is the deadliest game out there in terms of creating suffering and delusion. To blame like this we build a wall between ourselves and the rest of humanity and the rest of the world, between what we see and feel and what we won’t. And we use emotions like fear and hate for the construction materials. The more we use fear and hate, the more we crave it.

 

We should support Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg or Joe Biden or any of the other Democrats for President. Support whomever we feel will do the best job at building a truly democratic nation, creating a sane environmental and energy policy, providing good, affordable health care for all ⎼ and will support an equitable and meaningful public education system. But support them in a way that doesn’t undermine the other Democratic candidates in the general election if our favorite is not chosen.

 

Above all, we must keep in mind that without defeating T and his supporters, all that we hold dear might literally be destroyed. We can’t allow ourselves to lose our head or hope. Getting a little depressed might be common sense but we can’t let it go further than that. It’s just not an option we can afford. We must all put in time not only for getting T impeached, but for winning the Presidency and the Senate, getting out the vote and educating people about what’s at stake.

 

And we can’t allow ourselves to destroy possible alliances with would-be allies in the effort to unseat T and his followers. No matter how much I want Elizabeth or Bernie or Pete or Cory, I don’t want T.

 

We, those of us who truly value and want to strengthen democracy in this country, need someone in the White House who will listen to us, the people, not just rich white men. Who will give us a chance at saving our environment and thinking clearly about the problems we face, and who care about the other people and species that live in this world with us.

 

Many of the old Democratic politicians were bought out by corporate interests. But this is a different time. And this is a different party. Even if Democrats weren’t focused enough in the past on global warming, gun violence, etc. we have a chance with them, right now, that we will never have with T’s GOP. We must use this chance. Maybe we can also make the Democratic Party the party of democrats.

The International Strike to Save Our Planet: A Time to Act

Many have wondered what it would take for the general American public to go on strike. We have seen countless examples over the last two, almost three, years of this president violate the humanity of children and immigrants, lie, sacrifice our national security, act in support of misogynist judges (or ones who have credibly been accused of sexual assault) and White House employees who have done the same, support white nationalists and demonize minorities, fail to act to prevent massive incidents of gun violence even against school children—although this last did lead to huge demonstrations ⎼ and act in ways to undermine the constitution and rule of law. And now, tomorrow, an existential threat to the environment might lead to a strike of school children and hopefully thousands, maybe millions of people.

 

Why don’t we act? Are we too wrapped up in our social and work lives, or working too hard to put aside the time, or just feeling hopeless or overwhelmed? Or, regarding the climate, the warming of the planet, the weird weather, the changes in the environment, changes that happen so slowly that we don’t notice it until weird weather becomes hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornados and fires? Or is it that some of us can read and digest the science while others believe the lies by T, his GOP sycophants and some corporations that there is no scientific consensus on global warming, and we imagine what we see before our eyes is just bad weather or bad luck?

 

Americans increasingly understand the threat posed by Global Warming. A poll by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation  reveals that 8 in 10 people understand that human activity is fueling climate change and about half state that action is needed immediately.

 

Tomorrow, thanks mostly to young people like Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish student and activist, the Global Climate Strike will begin. There will be strikes throughout the US and other nations. New York City will excuse students absent for the strike. And it won’t be just children, but adults, indigenous groups, workers, seniors, etc. Everyone who can, should. Everyone who can’t strike can make phone calls to politicians and CEOs, send in photos of signs proclaiming your view on protecting our earth, write letters to the editor, sign petitions, etc.

 

Actions will continue next week. On Monday, 9/23, the UN will hold a Climate Action Summit, to ramp up efforts to curb greenhouse gases set out in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which Mr. T opposes. A second strike will be held on September 27th.

 

Tomorrow’s our chance to energize the nation to what we must do to save our planet ⎼ and democracy. To find events in your neighborhood, go to the GlobalClimateStrike website.

What Would We Do? ⎼ Celebrating the 4th by Fighting for Democracy

After listening to the news about a consultant for the T campaign creating a fake Joe Biden website in order to deceive people about who Joe Biden is, I realized T is borrowing from what Russia did in our 2016 election to once again undermine the electoral process. He is adopting techniques used by Russia to undermine the last presidential election in order to undermine the next one. And I asked myself: what would I do if I truly believed what my intellect was telling me about T and his supporters?

 

What would I do if I truly digested the fact that the President of the US joked with the Premier of Russia about eliminating journalists, and joked with Putin about interfering in our elections, not long after the GOP blocked bills in Congress to prevent campaigns from working with foreign governments to undermine our own?

 

Meanwhile, T called the New York Times treasonous for attacking him, just like, in Congress, he thought it treasonous that Democrats did not applaud his comments in his State of the Union Speech in 2018. And instead of a 4thof July to unite us, he divides us further by hijacking the government’s Washington, D. C. celebration and uses it to inflate his name and raise money for his campaign.

 

What if I truly allowed myself to feel my response to T inciting violence against journalists or against anyone who disagrees with him?

 

What would I do if I truly allowed myself to feel what it meant that he praised the Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un? That he said, in regard to the North Korean Dictator,  “it was an honor that you asked me to step over that line…I was proud” to be with such a brutal dictator responsible for not only the torture of an American citizen but of his own people.

 

What would I do if I truly let myself feel the pain and inhumanity of his border policy and treatment of young children? T calls asylum seekers fleeing gang violence in their own countries illegals. Meanwhile, he or his policies violate both US and international laws regarding asylum seekers, violate the law and court orders regarding the treatment of children. He is being investigated for violating so many laws ⎼ regarding emoluments, campaign finance, etc., obstructing justice⎼ it is laughable that he even utters the word ‘law.’

 

What would I do if I truly felt how T and the GOP are attacking women, refusing to renew the violence against women act and trying to deny women the right to control their own body.

 

What would I do if I let myself truly feel how the GOP are eliminating the chance to vote for thousands or millions of people and even, in some states like Florida, creating a poll tax?

 

What would I do if I let myself truly feel how T and his supporters are giving so much of the wealth of this nation to just a few thousand people, in a nation where 3 individuals own more wealth than the bottom half of the population?

 

What would I do if I truly felt how T and his supporters are attacking education, attacking scientific research, attacking protections on our food supply, attacking our future and making it more and more difficult for the U. S. to respond to emergency situations or to global warming or even to economic competition with other nations?

 

T has done so many inhumane, unjust,  bigoted, hurtful things, lied so much, ignored so much, that it is impossible to keep track of it all. My head spins, my heart hurts. Can I use this pain and confusion to teach myself how to go beyond my comfort zone, how to act with more strength?

 

I keep thinking: What if everyone who reads this piece talked with their friends, pledged to vote in the next election, worked for a candidate, worked to get out the vote, to speak the truth at a town hall of a GOP candidate, gave money to those fighting for civil or immigrant’s rights, and made 5 calls a week about one injustice or another ⎼ and shared this blog?

 

Let’s do away with T anxiety and sleep disorder and replace it with the excitement of defeating hate and recognizing the humanity of everyone we meet.

 

I think we all have to ask this question: what will we do? What political, social, compassionate or creative actions will we take if we truly allow ourselves to feel how T is robbing a great majority of us of our rights, freedoms, justice, and a sustainable environment? What will we do?

 

And then ⎼ we do it.

 

This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project

 

 

The Best Cure for the Numbing Effect of the News: Taking Informed, Compassionate Action

After two years of T, it’s so easy to give up and feel numb. How often can you feel outraged or frightened before you want to distance or distract yourself or take a holiday from the news for a day or a decade? The fight-flight response also includes the possibility of a freeze response. One response to a threat is to freeze.

 

Just in the last week or so, we have seen new evidence from indictments of Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort (by the Mueller investigation and the Southern District of New York) of T working with a foreign government in order to attack our own self-government and election system. Take that in: we have seen more conclusive evidence this week that the president of the U. S. has been working with a foreign power hostile to democracy in order to destroy our government. Wow. We can never normalize that.

 

We have seen evidence of T using his office to gain millions of dollars. We have seen his fellow Republicans commit election fraud and, in two states, Wisconsin and Michigan, work to nullify the midterm elections, and undermine the voice of we the people.

 

Many of us could go on and on about how this administration has become a direct threat not only to our liberty but our survival. Even this administration’s own report has shown the seriousness of climate change and the threat it poses to all of humanity.

 

T’s solution to global warming is to hide the evidence. Like with the fraudulent tax cut for the middle class, the actual tax cut to the rich, and the resulting increase in the debt, he tries to arrange it so the real pain won’t be experienced until after he is out of office.

 

Some people respond to the horror of T’s corruption and distortion of the truth by saying (mirroring T himself) there is no truth, or all politicians are corrupt. All politicians in this country do need money to run and keep themselves in political office. Yes, they probably take money from people many of us distrust. But equating that with putting one’s own personal business and profit over that of the nation’s, shaping foreign policy in order to gain financial reward, or acting as the agent of a foreign government in order to hide one’s own misdeeds ⎼ that is a very different species of corruption.

 

It seems very likely that T ‘s financial dealings with the Saudis shaped his response to the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And his attempt to build a Trump Tower in Russia, financed by a sanctioned Russian bank, put him in a compromised position that the Russians would later exploit to force him to call for the removal of sanctions against Russia (and motivate Russians to interfere in the 2016 election to put T in office).

 

And it’s clear that creating this numbness is part of T’s strategy. So many facts have been revealed this week that two years ago would have led to outrage and angry phone calls to Congress, yet I noticed I haven’t called a single Senator of any party to complain or urge action on an issue in at least four days. If we’re numb, if we’re on perpetual holiday, we won’t, we can’t, act. Likewise, if everything is simply an opinion, or if everyone is equally corrupt, then there is no way to know how to act or who to support.

 

But hoping he will be out of office soon is not enough. Even voting is not enough. Despite how tiresome it might be, we can not stop calling Congress. Even if we think members of Congress won’t listen, we need to speak. We need to protest even if we think it won’t lead to immediate change.

 

We need to build community and help others in whatever ways we can because it is the right thing to do. And we need to take appropriate political action even if we believe (or other people tell us) it won’t do any good, or won’t lead to the results we want. Because we can be wrong (about this and most anything). Taking action always does something, for us. And when combined with the actions of others it can work surprising results.

 

We research, consider and act on what we think is right not because we think we must get exactly what we want, but because we don’t ever want to give up on being just and compassionate people. We don’t ever want to give up on making a more just and compassionate world possible.

 

This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

T Is A Hurricane Of Historic Proportions

I have many calm moments, when I meditate, exercise, walk in the woods, talk with friends or simply breathe. Beautiful moments. And then—I turn on the radio or my phone and who knows what insanity might ensue.

Like everyone I know, since the Kavanaugh hearings and his appointment to the Supreme Court, and almost two years of the T administration, I have become overly sensitive to bad news.

It’s just eight days since I heard the news about Hurricane Michael smashing into the Florida panhandle with winds of up to 155 miles an hour (on Wednesday, October 10). The hurricane is now recognized as the strongest to strike the coast in 100 years. And it grew so quickly, from a category 2 on that Sunday, to almost a category 5 on Wednesday. It grew so quickly probably due to waters overheated by global warming, the same global warming the GOP deny despite the overwhelming scientific evidence.

Nature itself seems to be yelling at us to wake up to what we humans are doing to our world. The day after the hurricane, a neighbor called to tell me of two sightings of Fishers, a carnivorous mammal related to weasels. They have only recently returned to this area (along with other recent and not-so-welcome additions, like coyotes, coy-wolves, and ticks) and kill squirrels and other small animals, including porcupine and hare, occasionally wild turkey, bobcat, and even house cats. They are excellent climbers and can be vicious. I immediately went to the front door of my house to call in my cats.

This administration puts us all on a continual threat alert and I think this is exactly what they want. People continually stressed are not as likely to think clearly or feel powerful or vote. According to Tali Sharot in the book The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others, fear is most effective in influencing the behavior of others under two conditions—when what they are trying to do is cause inaction and the person they’re trying to influence is already anxious.

 The last two weeks and the hearings and discussion on Judge Kavanaugh were especially bad. They were a continual assault, a political hurricane of historic proportions threatening not only women but all of us who are not misogynists, not white nationalists or sycophantic supporters of the President, or who are not in favor of considering corporate rights or the rights of the wealthy as more important than any other rights.

These GOP attacked anyone who called for a real investigation into Kavanaugh’s past and were especially vicious in their attacks on any of the women who came forward. In fact, T even mocked Dr. Ford.  He called for holding those who made “false” claims against Kavanaugh liable. What about false claims by, or in support of, Kavanaugh? Would Kavanaugh or any his supporters who lied or rushed to hide the truth be held accountable?

Many wondered: was the GOP rush to judgment due to fears about what will happen in the November election? Or was something else involved?

The Supreme Court is going to hear a case called Gamble v US. It involves a felon arrested for possession of a firearm. It could, however, have grave implications if T is ever impeached, indicted, or tries to use his power to pardon anyone from his administration or campaign who have been prosecuted for crimes or called to testify to the Mueller investigation….  

 

To read the whole piece, please click on the link to the Good Men Project.

 

 

 

 

T Is A Hurricane of Historic Proportions

I have many calm moments, when I meditate, exercise, walk in the woods, talk with friends or simply breathe. Beautiful moments. And then—I turn on the radio or my phone and who knows what insanity might ensue.

 

I just heard the latest news about Hurricane Michael, which struck the Florida panhandle with winds of up to 155 miles an hour. It is now called the strongest hurricane to ever strike the coast. It grew so quickly, from a category 2 on Sunday to almost a category 5 today, probably due to waters overheated by global warming, the same global warming the GOP deny despite the overwhelming scientific evidence against their position.

 

Yesterday, a neighbor called to tell me of two sightings of Fishers, a carnivorous mammal related to weasels. They have only recently returned to this area and have been known to kill squirrels and other small animals, including porcupine and hare, occasionally wild turkey, bobcat, and even house cats (although rarely). They are excellent climbers and can be vicious. I immediately went to the front door of my house to call in my cats. After the Kavanaugh abomination and almost two years of T, I am, like everyone I know, a bit sensitive to bad news.

 

This administration puts us all on a continual threat alert and I think this is exactly what they want. People continually stressed are not as likely to think clearly or feel powerful.

 

The last two weeks and the hearings and discussion on Judge Kavanaugh were especially bad. They were a continual assault, a political hurricane of historic proportions threatening not only women but all of us who are not misogynists, not white nationalists or sycophantic supporters of the President, or who are not in favor of considering corporate rights or the rights of the wealthy as more important than any other rights.

 

These GOP attacked anyone who called for a real investigation into Kavanaugh’s past and were particularly vicious in their attacks on any of the women who came forward. In fact, T even mocked Dr. Ford.  He called for holding those who made “false” claims against Kavanaugh liable. What about false claims by, or in support of, Kavanaugh? Would Kavanaugh or any his supporters who lied or rushed to hide the truth be held accountable?

 

Many wondered: was the GOP rush to judgment due to fears about what will happen in the November election? Or was something else involved?

 

The Supreme Court is going to hear a case called the Gamble v US. It involves a felon arrested for possession of a firearm. It could, however, have grave implications if T is ever impeached, indicted, or tries to use his power to pardon anyone from his administration or campaign who have been prosecuted for crimes or called to testify to the Mueller investigation.

 

The Gamble case involves the question of whether “double jeopardy” is limited by “dual sovereignty.” In other words, whether a state can separately prosecute anyone after they were tried by the Federal government.

 

Right now, T can pardon people for Federal crimes, but anyone so pardoned can still be prosecuted in state courts. T wants to destroy this possibility. And Kavanaugh could help make that a reality. He might be the deciding vote in expanding T’s and the GOP’s power, so they can’t be held accountable for crimes they commit or their assaults on the rest of us.

 

While hurricane Michael was striking Florida, hurricane T was in Erie, Pennsylvania at a fundraiser and then a rally, yelling “lock her up” and such. Even a threat to the lives and property of millions of citizens did not stop him from focusing on himself and trying to rake in money.  He needs to be stopped.

 

And let me repeat what many have been advocating: each of us needs to vote, make calls, volunteer as an election official, write postcards to get out the vote—to do whatever we can to energize ourselves and throw T and his supporters out of office.

 

**Thank you to Jill Swenson and other friends who first posted on FB about Gamble v US.

Natural and Human Disasters

I had planned to post a more relaxing, reflective blog, but the latest reports from Florida stopped me. The suffering I see on the news is so powerful that I can almost know what it is like for my own home and life to be threatened. I feel my heart beating more quickly, thoughts race, and the world seems darker, like the storm clouds are racing towards me, not Florida.

 

This is made worse by hearing about the fires on the West coast and memories of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. It is made worse by the political and social disasters, of the hate riot in Charlottesville, and the human disaster, the prejudices, shortsightedness, lack of empathy and caring expressed by the President’s response to Charlottesville, his actions to end DACA, and his first trip to Texas after Harvey. It can feel like the earth itself has lost its center, weeping one minute, angry the next. And yet here, right now, in central New York, it is cool and beautiful.

 

These physical hurricanes make the greed and shortsightedness crystal clear. Before Harvey, the Washington Post and other reputable news organizations reported that the President proposed cutting funding for FEMA, for long term preparedness for disasters; for HUD, which helps rebuild homes, parks, and hospitals; the National Weather Service, which forecasts extreme storms; and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), which does crucial research and applies that research to help coastal residents prepare for disasters. In the middle of August, he signed an executive order which, along with other things, rolled back standards set by President Obama requiring that federal infrastructure projects take climate change into account. During the election, he claimed, in a debate with Hillary Clinton, that global warming was a myth perpetuated by China. Despite denying later on that he said this, he still nominated climate change denier Scott Pruitt to head the EPA.

 

And all along, the number and severity of weather disasters have been increasing. According to NOAA, the number of weather-related disasters which caused a billion dollars or more in damage have increased from 5.5 per year, starting in 1980; then for the last 5 years of this study, 2012-2016, the average was 10.6. This year might exceed that. Yet, despite his denials and his proposed cuts to government services, he says to the people of Houston that he cares about their well-being. His supporters, like Rush Limbaugh, even say that the press is hyping, exaggerating the dangers of Irma “to advance [a] climate agenda” and create panic in order to sell products. And then he leaves Florida.

 

Other Republicans say “don’t bring up Global Warming” during a hurricane, don’t politicize the suffering from these natural events. I agree that our first priority should be safety. But after that, understanding why the number of natural disasters are increasing is crucial to preparing for and creating policies to slow down our deteriorating climate. We must take into account how the increased temperature and water vapor over the Caribbean and Gulf, due to Global Warming, are adding fuel to the storms. To ignore global warming is like saying don’t take facts into consideration when you think. It is like the President and his cohorts are saying: Don’t think rationally. Don’t care about others. Don’t consider the implications of our policies.

 

The timing of these hurricanes, after so many other human hurricanes and disasters, makes crystal clear just how lacking in foresight, empathy, and understanding, just how delusional these politicians are. They themselves are a hurricane wind trying to devastate the economic stability and the remnants of political power that remain in the hands of the poor and middle class. As investigative journalist Naomi Klein pointed out, they are using natural, corporate and politician-created forms of disaster to get us to feel fear and accept or ignore policies that we would never accept otherwise. But hurricanes devastate the world for everyone.

 

So, please. We all have to help the people of Florida, Louisiana and Texas in any way we can. But the best way to help them long term, and help us all, is to learn all we can of the science of global warming. Practice compassion and mindfulness to keep our thinking as clear as possible. Call out politicians to stop the policies based on hate, short-term greed, and denial of science. Give the EPA back to scientists who know what they’re doing. Give to environmental organizations and those working to end this disaster of an administration. Vote, Demonstrate. Join with others who are caring people. To recover long term from these physical disasters we will have to put aside differences and work together to end this political disaster.

Fearing Science #2 and The Value of Money in Distorting Understanding

In the last paragraph of my latest blog, I spoke about needing the “intention, the commitment, the care” as well as a clear mind in order to act constructively to limit or slow global warming—or to take any effective ethical action. We act according to what we value. Valuing the earth, and our intellectual understanding of human caused climate change, is purposely undermined by corporate and other parties creating false, frightening countervailing claims. Claims such as “addressing global warming is too expensive, cost massive job layoffs, increase energy dependency, and so on.” We’ve all heard these claims, all largely false. (See George Lakoff.) How is it that people who make and believe such claims don’t consider that an uninhabitable earth would really undermine the economy? Why don’t they consider (or admit they are already considering) the growing economic and personal costs we are paying now for extremes in climate change, costs of increasing droughts, floods, fires, loss of animal habitat, maintenance of infrastructure stressed by climate extremes, etc.?

 

As George Lakoff put it, “… when the wealthy control what appears in the public media, they can control public discourse and public thought mechanisms through the control of language and imagery.”

 

Mirriam Webster defines money as a medium of exchange and the storing of value. Viewed psychologically, it is a reification of value or value symbolized in matter. What is labeled as costing one million dollars is more valuable than what costs ten dollars; or someone being paid one million or more annually is more valued in our culture than someone paid ten thousand dollars annually. Money can be invoked to distort our understanding and caring.  I hope we, all of us, can learn how to better discern and control its influence. Lakoff says that, “Global warming is the greatest moral issue facing our generation” and increasing concentration of wealth in the few runs a close second. “Together, they present a clear and present danger, not just to the United States, but to the world.”