Category Archives: Politics

10 Ideas for Living a Good Life in Bad Times

Face it. We live in a very uncomfortable time with some very uncomfortable realities.

Donald Trump is actually a viable candidate for President. The alternative, Hillary Clinton, is no better than La Donald, just a different shape and different background. On November 8th, 2016, the American public gets to choose between a male bully with megalomania and  no morals or a female cobra with ever-changing ethics and situational morals.

Can you say Hobson’s choice?

Whoever wins this election, these United States are in for a rough ride, facing international sanctions and national crises — all of our own making and all born of greed and the overweening desire for power and control.

I can’t change any of this. All I can do is live my small life. You can’t change any of this either. So, this morning, I offer a way for you and I and anyone else who is tired of the trash talk, afraid of the looming future and worried about their loved ones, some insights from  one of my very favorite intellectuals, writers, and muses.

Maria Popova offers 10 core values which, she has gleaned over the 10 years of writing her amazing blog – Brain Pickings

My Sunday mornings are spent with a cup of coffee and her newsletter – my break, my solitude, my weekly dose of philosophy, culture, insight, learning and being.

I offer Popova as an antidote to the idiocy we see all around us. I offer her as peace in a world fraught with panic. I hope she brings you the same joy that she brings me.

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Non-Violent Protests Work

The next time you are feeling helpless in the face of crooked elections and even more crooked politicians, think about employing some non-violent actions to start making the change you want.

The next time you are angry at mega corporations like Monsanto for polluting the food chain and our drinking water, but don’t think you can make a difference, think about boycotting the business.

Those are just 2 of the ways you can make a difference. One of the TED Talk presenters in this week’s newsletter offers 196 other ways to force change where it’s needed.

Those of you who know me, know I love TED Talks for all kinds of reasons. Here’s another one I love. Jamila Raqib , Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution, focuses on how non-violent protests have worked, around the world, and how they might just work for you….for us.

Raqib calls this movement a type of non-violent arms race.  She shares a document created by her mentor, Gene Sharp, that lists 198 methods of non-violent protest. Raqib also points out that a unified strategy helps boycotts to win the fight.

My biggest concern this Father’s Day morning is how to stop big money and big power from stealing the election out of the hands of the very people who really are supposed to be the ones who elect people to office.

Donald Trump may just implode on his own or be helped out the door by his fellow Republicans. It’s unlikely that Hillary Clinton and her mega-donors will as she represents many of the largest donors of political history.

Also, Clinton wants to win at any cost and has proven that by using bully tactics and what, in any other context would be considered bribery, to keep trying to silence those of us who support Bernie Sanders.

Unless we, the people, unite and engage in a unified, strategic and non-violent fight, we will watch Bernie Sanders, his ideals, his ethics and his desire to help his country be washed away in a tidal wave of political maneuvering and back room brokering.

Here’s hoping that Bernie Sander’s team is planning some non-violent protests at the nominating convention in Philadelphia. Let’s join in and make a difference.

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Silence in the Face of Political Aggression & Abuse

I have been silent here, not wishing to talk about the politics of the United States because, for the most part, our political leaders, Congressmen and Senators disgust me.

No more silence.

Thanks to Robert Reich who I loved when he was in Clinton’s cabinet and who I love still as a Professor, political commentator and author, I will begin to bring issues to the table that need airing. Like many of you, I have been silent, too long.

Here, without edit, is the Facebook post from Robert Reich that opened this door for me, again, and made me walk through it and begin to fight for the rights of all those in this, supposedly the most glorious country in the world, who do not have a voice, the power or the money to fight back.

I’ve been thinking about Martin Luther King Jr.’s admonition that we repent not merely for what the bad people say and do but also for the “appalling silence” of the good people.

We are at a point in American history when candidates for president of the United States are telling voters abominable things – justifying and legitimizing hate. Why aren’t the decent Republican members of Congress and Senate, or former members, or former Republican presidents and vice presidents repudiating this? Where are the news anchors and opinion makers – the Edward R. Murrow’s of today’s national conscience? Where are the priests and rabbis and ministers? The editorial boards? The university presidents? The foundation heads? Why do they remain silent in the face of this untrammeled public bigotry?

Where are they when a Republican candidate says Muslims cannot be trusted to be President, another says the current President is a Muslim and wasn’t born in America, and another that Muslims in America and other Western countries are creating “no-go” zones where Sharia law is practiced?

Why do they remain silent when a Republican candidate calls Mexican immigrants “rapists,” several candidates urge that undocumented workers be rounded up and “expelled,” and another asserts that Mexico intends to “merge” with the U.S. and Canada?

Why do they say nothing when several Republican candidates say women – even those who have been victims of rape or incest — should not be allowed to terminate their pregnancies, and one candidate says women who rely on government-assisted contraceptives “cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government?”

Why are they silent when several Republican candidates assert that public officials don’t have to sign marriage licenses for gay couples if the officials don’t believe gay couples should wed, one says homosexuality is a “choice” because “a lot of people enter prison straight and come out gay,” and another says being gay is like being an alcoholic?

The silence of good people in the face of such brainless intolerance only serves to legitimize it, and ends up debasing our entire society.

Reich asks at the end of this Facebook post, “What do you think?”

I think it’s time that we all get off our buts and start fighting to take back this country from bigots and bullies. I repeat, like many of you, I have been silent too long. No more.

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Cancer Coming To Your Backyard! Soon!

Please read and if you agree, sign the petition to ban the large scale use of 2-4-D and it’s cousin, Agent Orange in the production of corn and soy beans!  This use is being considered, despite scientific evidence that 2-4-D and cancer and reproductive problems go hand-in-hand.

As a child, my 4 siblings and I were regularly exposed to 2-4-D and 2-4-5-T – two ingredients in Agent Orange.  All of us were charged with killing weeds, every week during the summer – bare feet and bare hands.

Both of my brothers died of brain tumors in their 67th year.  My older sister almost died 2 years ago of complications brought on by a massive ovarian tumor and she is still fighting kidney cancer.  She was 65.  At the age of 65, I have just been diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma on my hip.

Poisoning weeds means poisoning the soil, the water and, ultimately, the people exposed to the chemicals.  Increasing the sheer volume of poison simply means increasing the numbers of people who will die from the slow, sure and silent intrusion of 2-4-D into their food, into their lives and into their backyards, their families, their children. 

And there is absolutely no way to describe the vast and long-term devastation that the use of this substance will do to the life of all other inhabitants (animals, birds, fish, insects) and the overall ecology of this earth – our home.

Has everyone forgotten Silent Spring ? Rachel Carson?

STOP big business; STOP the use of 2-4-D. START using common sense, common courtesy and some of the inordinate amounts of money currently being poured into chemical and genetic modification of foods to understand how to live and work WITH our fellow inhabitants and WITH the environment, not in spite of them.

Visit the Food Revolution Network blog; click on the link and register your thoughts and feelings with the Federal Government.

Please.

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Geoffrey Canada Knows How To Save Education

And Geoffrey Canada knows how to save children and parents and communities.

I’ve written about Mr. Canada before – one of my Project 365 heroes.  But I think this man, his Harlem Project and the incredible success he has had with rescuing children, educating them and sending them off to college deserves to be revisited.

Perhaps it’s because I just finished Canada’s book – Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence.

If you want to know how to save our children, how to make our schools better, how to change, grow and heal our communities, read Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence. Then get out of your chair, get in your car or on your bike or even on your skates, go to the nearest school, step inside and volunteer to help change the children’s worlds.

Geoffrey Canada is the man behind the Harlem Project. His mind, his drive, his desire to help children, parents and the community made the Harlem project a reality. And Geoffrey Canada knows his audience; he lived in abject poverty, the son of a single mom in a neighborhood where value was assigned based on how well you fought.

Geoffrey Canada’s approach points the way to saving all the children who live in neighborhoods owned and operated by drug dealers, drug users, robbers, muggers, burglars and rapists — killers of every description. My take on his core thesis is you cannot change children who live in these communities just by working inside the 4 walls of a school; you MUST change the community, reach out to the parents, help them where they are so they can reach out and change their own worlds, one step at a time, one day at a time.

Working in one of these schools in one of these neighborhoods, I see  “throw away” children every day.  On a good day, these kids are raising themselves; on a bad day, they are being turned into mules, snitches and sometimes, enforcers.

I could stay home.  I could turn a blind eye.  I could be one of millions of people who sit at their table every morning and bemoan the ignorance, the violence the destruction being wrought in our communities and schools.

I won’t.  I get up and go to work in one of these schools every day.  I reach out to touch these wonderful middle school and high school children, talk to them. offer them   If I can make a difference in the life of just one child, I have done a good job.

So to everyone who thinks this is someone else’s problem, here’s my advice. This holiday season, give a gift that cannot be bought in any store.  Get up. Go to a troubled school.  See how you can help!

These children did nothing wrong but to have the misfortune of being born poor.  They don’t deserve to die – physically, emotionally or mentally.

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Filed under arm wresting, Book Reviews, Death & Dying, Education, Gifts, Inspiring People, Life & Death, Politics, Project 365

Russell Brand May Have Started a Revolution Last Night

Who knew that Russell Brand could be so eloquent, so passionate and so on top of the current political, economic and social situation in the UK and the US?

Here is somebody who explicitly calls out the current crop of do nothing politicians in both countries and says to the rest of us, rise up and revolt!

Please listen to him, all the way through.  He is articulate; his positions are based on facts and he is able to walk right around this interviewer who is trying to pillory him because he doesn’t vote.

Brand may not have all the answers but he sure as hell knows what questions to ask, what general direction our nations should be going and what’s stopping us.

Three cheers for Russel Brand!  And thanks to Gawker for making this video available.

Russell Brand May Have Started a Revolution Last Night.

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Our Elected Officials — Still Doing What They Want

I was not surprised when I received responses to my email about labeling  genetically modified foods in grocery stores (see the email below from Senator Bob Casey).  So, per this Senator, they only voted to allow states to decide about labeling GMO foods.  What he forgot to mention was they defeated Bernie Sanders amendment.

As usual, I was disappointed.  

Our Congressmen and Senators have not, to date, represented the voice of the people who are paying their salaries on much of anything so I don’t know why I actually expect our elected officials to represent us and NOT Monsanto, Archer, Daniels, Midland and all of the other megalithic corporations.

I have to confess that our elected representatives did make some progress on a couple of issues related to big business, but they still managed to hurt the very people that most need their representation with votes like the one on nutrition assistance for hungry families.

So Pennsylvania’s elected officials pretty much joined all the other elected representatives to pass a doozie of a Farm Bill.  So what, you ask?  Here’s the down and dirty on the Farm Bill that our elected representatives and Senators did pass – read it and weep.

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27654.cfm

As I mentioned, I emailed my elected officials before the vote.  Below are the text of my email and the response from Bob Casey.  I guess he thinks I flunked logic or maybe English is my second language and I will buy the pig in a poke he so aptly puts forward.

Sorry, Bob.  I read you loud and clear.  You should really be ashamed, not just for lying to me, but for lying to yourself.

Bernie Sanders, where are you?

My Email to PA Senators – Bob Casey & Pat Toomey

I am furious to learn that you voted against Sen. Sanders’ Farm Bill amendment to affirm states’ right to label genetically engineered food.

Nine out of ten voters agree that genetically engineered food should be labeled, but you had to side with Monsanto, no doubt because of money the company has contributed to your campaigns and spent lobbying for you.

According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2012 alone, Monsanto doled out $1,034,064 in campaign cash and spent $5,970,000 on lobbying.

If you want my vote, you should consider standing with the people, not the corporations.

From: Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. [mailto:senator@casey.senate.gov] 

Sent: Thursday, August 01, 2013 7:16 PM
To: XXXXXX
Subject: Response from Senator Casey

Dear Ms.XXXX:Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the Farm Bill. I appreciate hearing
from you about this legislation and the provisions that matter most to you.Roughly every five years, Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill, which governs federal
farm and food policy. The 2008 Farm Bill expired on September 30, 2012. Although the
Senate had passed the 2012 Farm Bill on June 21, 2012, the House of Representatives
did not pass its version of the 2012 Farm Bill during the 112th Congress. For this reason,
on January 1, 2013, as part of the fiscal cliff package, Congress passed a one-year
extension of federal farm programs based largely on the 2008 Farm Bill.

On June 10, 2013, the Senate passed its version of the 2013 Farm Bill. I voted for the bill,
which passed with a vote of 66-27. On July 11, 2013, the House of Representatives passed
on its version of the 2013 Farm Bill. As the Senate and House confer on these bills in order
to reconcile differences between the two versions, please be assured that I will continue to
keep your views in mind. I will also keep your views in mind should the Senate and House
consider an extension of the current Farm Bill.

I have made it a priority to keep Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry and our rural economies
strong to support Pennsylvanian families. I am working to improve the Farm Bill so that it is
more fair and equitable for Pennsylvanian agriculture. I will continue to represent the interests
of Pennsylvanians and urge the passage of comprehensive, forward-thinking legislation.

A number of Senators introduced amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill related to genetically
engineered ingredients or crops. The Senate voted on only one such amendment. Senator Bernie Sanders
of Vermont introduced an amendment that would have permitted states to require that any food
or beverage offered for sale have a label indicating that the item contains a genetically engineered
ingredient. Proponents of genetically modified crops argue that such advances help, among other
things, to combat disease, increase annual yields, keep food prices in check and improve freshness
and taste. At the same time, the significance of making genetic alterations to our food supply is a
serious matter. Foods produced from this process should undergo rigorous safety inspections and
other relevant scientific testing. I understand that some Pennsylvanians are concerned about
consuming foods which have been genetically altered. It is imperative that consumers have accurate
information about the foods they buy for themselves and their families. However, I voted against
Senator Sanders’ amendment because it would have preempted existing Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
labeling regulations, which I believe is the appropriate authority, and also would have hindered
interstate commerce by creating a patchwork of state labeling requirements. The amendment failed
to receive the votes necessary to pass.

Please be assured that I will continue to keep your views in mind as the Senate continues to consider
the Farm Bill during the
113th Congress. As always, I appreciate your views, thoughts and concerns
as they assist me in understanding what is important to the people of Pennsylvania. Please do not
hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

Bob Casey

United States Senator

 

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