Strong suggestion for Democrats

I have a strong suggestion for Democrats who are not happy with the Roe v Wade verdict, watered down gun governance and restrictions on civil rights and are fearful of climate change inaction, environmental degradation and health care attacks, they need to vote. Know the rules that have been altered to keep you from voting and get out and vote. You could throw a few million people marches to get their attention as well.

There is a canary in the coal mine that is saying more voters are switching to the GOP (I read 1+ million), including the suburban educated women voters. To me, this tells me that people are listening to messaging coming out of more conservative channels that rakes Dems over the coals. I am not saying that messaging is correct, but people are listening to it.

Dems better crystalize key talking points that will appeal to all Americans and hammer them home. If they appeal to only progressive Dems, they will need to look up what happened to George McGovern in 1972. Watergate was in part related to Nixon wanting to run against McGovern and not Edmund Muskie. He knew he could beat McGovern but knew Muskie would be a tougher challenge. He ran against McGovern and won 49 states to 1.

Note, I am not saying progressive ideas are not good, but they need to be ideas that are saleable to all Americans and not offensive because of poor word choice. For example, “Defund the police” may have not meant exactly what it said, but the term was a gift to Republicans. My old party is bereft of good ideas in my view which is one reason conservative pundit Michael Gerson says the GOP is in “decay.” But, the GOP spin doctors do a better job, aided and abetted by Fox News, QAnon, and Infowars, et al, to focus on over-exaggerated issues where a label can be slapped on it and a bumper sticker created.

And, Dems please note, they are winning at this and expect to take the House and Senate majority. I have said before we need a viable Republican party, but this is not it. The best way to rid the country of this extreme party is not to vote for them.

Chile water crisis should serve as a warning

In an article called “‘Consequences will be dire’: Chile’s water crisis is reaching breaking point” by John Bartlett as reported in The Guardian, a long-lasting drought and water misuse have led to an alarming problem. The sad truth is the water crisis in Chile is not an isolated event. The following select paragraphs tell an important story. The full article can be linked to below.

Unprecedented drought makes water a national security issue as more than half of Chile’s 19 million population lived in area with ‘severe water scarcity’ by end of 2021.

From the Atacama Desert to Patagonia, a 13-year megadrought is straining Chile’s freshwater resources to breaking point.

By the end of 2021, the fourth driest year on record, more than half of Chile’s 19 million population lived in an area suffering from ‘severe water scarcity’, and in April an unprecedented water rationing plan was announced for the capital, Santiago.

In hundreds of rural communities in the centre and north of the country, Chileans are forced to rely on emergency tankers to deliver drinking water.

Ecuadorian natives clash with the police 30km from Quito in 2010 in protest of a proposed water privatisation measure.

‘Water has become a national security issue – it’s that serious,’ said Pablo García-Chevesich, a Chilean hydrologist working at the University of Arizona. ‘It’s the biggest problem facing the country economically, socially and environmentally. If we don’t solve this, then water will be the cause of the next uprising.’……

‘I used to supply all of the markets and communities in the area,’ said Alfonso Ortíz, 73, a farmer who once employed several workers to grow watermelons, pumpkins, corn and oranges using water from the lagoon.

‘Agriculture here is dead. There’s nothing left,’ he said.

Chile’s economy, South America’s largest by per-capita GDP, is built on water-intensive, extractivist industries principally mining, forestry and agriculture.

But its growth has come at a price.

Supported by the private rights system, about 59% of the country’s water resources are dedicated to forestry, despite it making up just 3% of Chile’s GDP.

Another 37% is destined for the agricultural sector, meaning only 2% of Chile’s water is set aside for human consumption.”

Re-read that last sentence. “2% of Chile’s water is set for human consumption.” While this is an extreme example it is not isolated. Going on for several years now, the number one long term crisis facing us as surveyed by the World Economic Forum is the global water crisis. Climate change impact was second as it actually makes the first problem worse.

For those that think it cannot happen here, farmers in the plains of the US are worried about water. There is a great book called “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” by Miriam Horn that shares these concerns. There is one town in Texas that is now dry because of fracking and drought. Other water supplies are getting more dear and fights over river and reservoir access have been going on. The Biscayne aquifer that provides water to Miami is being encroached on by rising sea levels coming through the porous limestone. And, that is before the issue of lead pipes comes into the equation.

What troubles me greatly is the lack of public debate over this concern. Cape Town, South Africa was so bad off it had a countdown to no water. It survived, but just barely. Yet, not a peep was discussed here. We are to busy talking about contrived and exaggerated issues to deal with real crises. One would think not having water to drink or irrigate crops would be a concern. One would think that climate change causing water reservoirs to dry up faster and cause longer droughts and forest fires would be a concern.

Let me leave you with this thought. I heard a spokesperson from one of the largest US utilities speak on climate change impact. This utility had a long-range report that said two very disturbing things. First, they have increased their model for expected evaporation of reservoir water due to climate change by 11%. If the water level is too low, it cannot be converted into steam to turn the turbines to create power. So, they cut the water flow to people to make up for it, as they manage the river.

Second, these long-range projections noted the river will not be able to support the water needs of the metropolitan population in about fifty years unless something is done. This troubling projection has gotten very little coverage in our newspapers or TV news. This is more concerning to me than BS like critical race theory or replacement theory which are the contrived and exaggerated issues of the day.

Steven Solomon, author of “Water” created a term that has been used by at least one utility executive. “Water is the new oil.” If that does not scare you, note oil rich Saudi Arabia said it was OK to pray with sand rather than water. Why? They said Allah gave them a lot of oil, but little water.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/01/chiles-water-crisis-megadrought-reaching-breaking-point

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister is a leader on gun control

In a PBS Newshour story produced by Aamer Madhani called “Biden discusses gun control with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern,” it was good to see the success of the New Zealand leader on gun control get more press. Here are a few of the initial paragraphs which give you the gist of the discussion:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden praised New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday for her success in curbing domestic extremism and guns as he tries to persuade a reluctant Congress to tighten gun laws in the aftermath of horrific mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York.

The long-planned talks between Biden and Ardern were to center on trade, climate and security in the Indo-Pacific, but the two leaders’ starkly different experiences in pushing for gun control loomed large in the conversation.

Ardern successfully won passage of gun control measures in her country after a white supremacist gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers at two Christchurch mosques in 2019. Less than a month later all but one of the country’s 120 lawmakers voted in favor of banning military-style semiautomatic weapons.

Biden told reporters at the start of his meeting with Ardern that he ‘will meet with the Congress on guns, I promise you,’ but the White House has acknowledged that winning new gun legislation will be uphill climb in an evenly divided Congress.

The U.S. president praised Ardern for her ‘galvanizing leadership’ on New Zealand’s efforts to curb the spread of extremism online, and said he wanted to hear more about the conversations in her country about the issue.”

Quite simply, leaders need to lead. Ardern took the bull by the horns and said enough is enough and introduced measures to add gun governance. Her courage should be commended as it is so unusual with our politicians to see such as they are too beholden to their funders and some staked out position which is counter to positive actions.

On gun governance, climate change, civil rights abuses, debt, etc. we need our leaders to act like parents and grandparents. Or, they could do their best to emulate folks like Ardern or Zelenskyy and ignore spineless politicians here in the US who are scared of their own shadow.

Quiet resolve equals strength

The following poem is called “Strength in silence and sweetness: ROAR” by our blogging friend Cindy Georgakas. A link to her post is below. Following her poem, is an amended comment I made regarding my thoughts on its veracity.

“There is strength in silence, behind my sweetness;

Hear me Roar!

If you cross me, don’t be fooled
by my demure ensemble.

Cover your ears and run for the hills because I’ve hired my entourage to find you.

If you thought you could pull a fast one, think again.

Hear me Roar!

Life was made for making things right and putting an end to the injustices rendered.

Whipping cream is sweet it’s true, but if you’ve run amuck,
pucker up and deal with what life hands you, served on a silver platter.

Hear me Roar!

We gather in the name of God, where sweetness cuts to the chase.

That’s right…NEVER underestimate the silence and power of a woman,
wrapped in whipping cream clouds that smile.

We are woman;

Hear us roar!”

Copyright © 2022 Cindy Georgakas

Allow me to just focus on Cindy’s opening sentence – “There is strength in silence, behind my sweetness;” I have often quoted an old line “do not mistake kindness as weakness.” False bravado means fake bravery. Beating on one’s chest is usually reserved to someone who does not want to fight. The one to worry about most has always been the quiet, pensive one. Think Ukraine President Zelenskyy standing up to an untruthful bully in Putin.

To the point of Cindy’s poem, I am reminded of a true story from one of the most difficult books I have ever read, “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn. It is about the maltreatment of women around the globe and the title is based on the Chinese proverb that women hold up half the sky.

The example is a tribe was left to defend itself with the women and children left in the village. They were housing some injured male warriors. When the enemy came to find them, the women who commanded a lot of respect told the enemy to go on about their business and let them be. And, the enemy did. They were so steadfast in their resolve it intimidated the enemy men.

We should never forget a huge example during the 2016 GOP presidential primary. When Meghan Kelly of Fox asked the future president some tough questions in one debate, he refused to do future debates if Ms. Kelly was one of the interviewers. He was scared of her. What we learned later, he was fed questions by someone at Fox and Ms. Kelly happened to ask him questions about his maltreatment of women that were not fed to him in advance and he did not like it one bit. And, this would not be the first or last time the former president quivered when faced with a female reporter armed with good questions.*

Finally, it should be noted the election in Australia last week where conservatives were swept out was said to be due to a large voting bloc of women who were concerned about climate change action, child care funding, Medicare strengthening and integrity, rather than contrived and overstated issues to cause fear. Women can make a difference and I hope they do. If we do not think this is so, remember what happened in the United States in 2018, when the Women’s March fueled many women winning elections and a changeover in the majority in the House.

*Per Robert Mackey of The Intercept om May 12, 2020: “WHEN AN ACTUAL press conference threatened to break out in the Rose Garden on Monday, as two White House correspondents refused to let Donald Trump silence them, and a third declined his request to change the subject by asking a new question, the president abruptly turned and walked away.” Note the first two reporters were female.

The deer must lead the way

I was watching one of those animal documentaries and it set a common belief on its head. Like me, many may have the belief the deer will follow where the stag leads. But, through observations, scientists have noted that is not always the case. The deer will feel threatened and move before the stag knows what happened. The stag will, in essence, follow the does and younger deer out of harm’s way.

That is the way it has to be now that elected officials are too scared to do anything. Of course, a change here and there occurs, but for the most part legislators are less inclined to make substantive changes that go against their funders’ wishes. As a result, collaboration is harder and even positive changes do not get passed, as one tribe cannot let the other take credit for political gain. Helping people is secondary to winning elections. It is that simple.

In the 2018 midterm US elections, the does rallied together in the Women’s March and ousted many stags from politics. It was an election that saw a large number of women get elected. Last week, in Australia, a change averse and industry helping government was swept out of office after nine years and three prime ministers. The does said we need to deal with climate change, child care and Medicare issues. And, by the way, integrity matters they said. It should be noted, not all the folks who got booted out were stags, as even does can be less than helpful as an elected official as we have seen here in the US.

It should be noted in 2019, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, helped push through more restrictive gun laws after the nation was mourning the mass shooting deaths that just occurred. A female leader said acting to address this issue was of major importance. How refreshing. Ardern will be speaking at Harvard on the subject of gun control and will likely visit with the US president. Think of the contrast between her and certain elected officials here that are attending a conference held by the NRA, ironically in Texas, or parroting the usual and stale tripe that goes for debate in our country to prevent what most Americans want from happening.

Leaders look like Ardern. They look like Zelenskyy. They looked like Merkel and Mandela. They are imperfect, but they represent the people, all people of their countries. I mention Mandela as he was being pressured to swing the pendulum even more the way of the native South Africans after Apartheid. He did make sure their rights were promoted, but he also recognized the country as a whole needed to come together.

We need to listen to leaders like this. They are refreshing in contrast to our elected officials here who will actually go against the majority of people’s wishes to garner votes from a vocal minority. It is truly sad to see that occur. And, it should be noted how I sparingly use the word leader here in the US.

Workers within industries that prop up fossil fuels said they could no longer ignore the climate crisis and they quit

In an article written by Anna First-Arai in The Guardian called “They once worked for big oil’s enablers. Now they refuse to be complicit,” fossil-fuel related workers are now voting with their feet. Here are the first few paragraphs with a link to the article below.

“More than a century ago, fossil fuel firms hardly needed help maintaining their image. Coal-powered trains, oil-burning power plants and gas-heated houses were likened to patriotism and social progress. But over time, especially as industry scientists began uncovering the direct link between the burning of fossil fuels and the climate crisis, America’s petroleum giants turned to the public relations industry they had helped create to persuade consumers to remain loyal.

PR campaigns that frame oil and gas as essential to solving the climate crisis have become the industry survival strategy. But over the past decade, the spinmasters behind these campaigns and the executives in industries that prop up fossil fuels have woken up to the role their work plays in contributing to climate breakdown.

Waves of employees have co-signed letters and quit en masse in response to their firms’ complicity in obfuscating climate crimes and rolling out aggressive greenwashing schemes. And the resignations are picking up pace. Just this week in a bombshell public resignation, Caroline Dennett, a consultant for Shell, parted ways with the company, citing its “double talk on climate”. She urged others to do the same.” 

This is article is worth the read. Maybe these kinds of resignations will get the attention of fossil fuel management. Shareholders have been more active voting to require management to be forthcoming on climate change plans and actions, but this will give them more ammunition to demand such action. A good question at a future shareholder meeting is “Help me understand why your employees are leaving en masse over your failure to address climate change?”

I have shared numerous articles about the positive movements forward on renewable energy and the need for more action. But, when a company’s own employees start walking out the door, that speaks volumes. I hope management is listening.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/27/big-oil-public-relations-defectors-climate-crisis

Letter to the editor – Australian election should be a wake up call for the US conservatives

I sent the following letter to the editor of my newspaper. It may not get printed, but I wanted others to see it and adapt and use it if they like it.

Seeing Australian voters sweep out conservatives after nine years and three prime ministers is telling. A large bloc of women voters grew tired of relative inaction on climate change, lack of assuring soundness of their Medicare and child care, and overall lack of integrity in its elected leaders.

Here in the states, my former Republican party is turning a blind eye to more action on climate change, better gun governance, growing fascism and shoring up the ACA and are attacking voting rights and civil rights. At the same time, overstated and even contrived issues are getting the air time to garner votes from their base.

As conservative pundit Michael Gerson says the “Republican Party is in decay.” I agree. We need a viable Conservative party, but what we have is not on the right path. The truth matters. And, a party that vilifies its truth tellers while glorifying its liars does not have the needed veritas to be considered seriously. I can disagree with the Democrats on policy, but with Republicans I find myself having to argue what is true. That is telling to this independent and former Republican and Democrat voter.

Senior Shell safety consultant resigns over double-talk on climate change

In an article in Newshub by Rachel Sadler called “‘Completely failing’: Shell consultant quits over firm’s ‘extreme harms’ to the environment,” it is reported a senior safety consultant to Shell has visibly resigned to make a statement about Shell’s lack of action on climate change. Here are the first few paragraphs with a link to the article below:

“A senior safety consultant has quit working with Shell after 11 years, accusing the company of causing ‘extreme harms’ to the environment and having a ‘disregard for climate change risks’.

Caroline Dennett announced her resignation as a contracted consultant in an open letter sent to Shell executives and 1400 employees. In an accompanying video posted to LinkedIn, she said she had quit because of the fossil fuel producer’s ‘double-talk on climate’

Dennett accused Shell of ‘ignoring all the alarms’ of climate change and ‘not putting environmental safety before production’.

‘Shell’s stated safety ambition is to ‘do no harm’ – ‘Goal Zero’, they call it – and it sounds honourable but they are completely failing on it,’ she said.

‘They know that continued oil and gas extraction causes extreme harms, to our climate, to our environment and to people. And whatever they say, Shell is simply not winding down on fossil fuels'”

It should be noted, as of this writing, some activists are protesting Shell’s climate change strategy at a shareholder meeting and a bloc of shareholders have offered a more carbon reducing strategy to be voted on as well. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but regardless of strategy, what Dennett is saying, Shell management needs to be at least doing what they say they will.

It should be noted back in the 1990s, Shell produced an educational video on their scientists’ concern over global warming. If you look for it, you may still be able to find it if access has not been scrubbed. Not ironically, Exxon scientists used to speak at meetings about their concerns over global warming authoring papers dating back to the 1980s. This practice was ceased when Exxon hired a PR firm to help them promote climate change denial beginning in the late 1990s, the same PR firm that sold us that nicotine was not addictive for the tobacco industry.

On a positive note, change is happening with renewable energy becoming more mainstream and building market share. And, it was very pleasing to see climate change be a factor on Australian voters minds as they swept out a fossil-fuel friendly conservative party from power after nine years.

https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/national/completely-failing-shell-consultant-quits-over-firms-extreme-harms-to-the-environment/ar-AAXDUoy?ocid=uxbndlbing

Australia ousts conservatives after nine years, Albanese to be prime minister

In a Los Angeles Times article called “Australia swears in new center-left prime minister in major political shakeup” by Rod McGuirk, Australia has ousted the conservative party after nine years and three prime ministers. Here are a few excerpts:

“Australia’s new prime minister was sworn in Monday and flew to Tokyo for a summit with President Biden while vote-counting continued to determine whether he will command a majority in a Parliament that is demanding tougher action on climate change.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s center-left Labor Party ousted predecessor Scott Morrison ’s conservative coalition in Saturday’s election. The coalition had been in power under three different prime ministers for nine years.

‘I want to lead a government that has the same sentiment of optimism and hope that I think defines the Australian people,’ Albanese said in his hometown of Sydney before flying to the capital, Canberra, to be sworn in.

Albanese, who describes himself as the first candidate for the office of prime minister with a ‘non-Anglo Celtic name,’ and Malaysian-born Penny Wong, Australia’s first foreign minister to be born overseas, were sworn into office by Governor-General David Hurley before the pair flew to Tokyo for Tuesday’s security summit with Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

‘We will return on Wednesday and set about implementing our agenda, our agenda that received the endorsement of the Australian people,’ Albanese said, highlighting items such as climate change, affordable child care and strengthening Medicare.

From another article, Albanese was elected due to a large bloc of women voting on two major issues – dealing with climate change and restoring integrity to leadership. For Americans, especially conservative voters, note the focus on the issues per Albanese – “climate change, affordable child care and strengthening Medicare.” There is nothing about critical race theory, replacement theory or banning books. It is about issues of concern to parents and their children.

Australia has an abundance of wildfires that have increased because of climate change. And, climate change and the fossil fuel industry have severely impacted the Great Barrier Reef off Australia, which is not only a place where sea life is nurtured and carbon sucking plant life is grown, it is a tourist attraction. So, climate change has already had a major economic impact on the country.

I applaud this election. One thing about Australia is their people are obligated to vote. In the US, we need to emulate what Australia does rather than restricting the right to vote as being done in places like Florida and Texas using the former president’s Big Lie as a reason to tighten the screws. Congratulations to Mr. Albanese.

Note: Our Australian friend Amanda has written an excellent post this morning on the election offering more context. Please take a few minutes to read her post under her blog “Something to Ponder About.”

Wednesday wanderings in mid-May

We should have another warm day here, so walking may make us “glisten,” a word my wife uses for perspiration. So, as we glisten on our walk about, let me share a few of my wandering thoughts.

The votes from yesterday’s mid-term primaries are being tallied, so I will save commentary for another day, with two exceptions. With almost 100% of the votes counted, it looks like Rep. Madison Cawthorn will be unseated in his first election as an incumbent. His failure to: realize on three occasions a driver needs a driver license, understand he cannot carry a weapon onto a plane on two occasions, appreciate claiming your Republican colleagues are having orgies and coke parties is not the way to make friends, and recognize that not doing much of anything other than abet the former president’s Big Lie and insurrection of Congress is not conducive to good governance. It should be noted Cawthorn lost in the middle of a heavy Republican district, which speaks volumes.

The other exception is Rep. Ted Budd, a non-apologetic Trump sycophant, won the Republican primary to fill the US Senate seat of retiring Richard Burr. That is unfortunate, as we may end up with another strident Senate member who is replacing a more moderate Republican in Burr. He will be running against a very good Democrat candidate in Judge Cheri Beasley’s whose commercials and record are exemplar. I am sure she will be attacked, but she is a far more credible candidate than Budd. I just hope the voters in North Carolina listen to her and what she is saying. And, that there are no termites in the woodwork like with the candidate who was about to beat the junior Senator in 2020 before he did something stupid.

I am certain there will be a mixed bag of results in the Republican primaries due to the support of the former president. When I see or hear the endorser on a TV ad, it truly makes me ill. A person who has divided our country further with his Big Lie because he is not man enough to accept defeat and who instigated an insurrection on a branch of government to stay in power is not someone whose opinion lends itself to credibility. But, with too few Republicans actually pushing back on the bullying and untruthful acting former president, coupled with troubling policies on climate change, gun governance, civil rights, health care access and making rich people richer, it makes it easier to not vote for any Republicans in the general election. The climate change and environmental issues alone are a reason to avoid putting more Republicans in place.

I know I will offend Republicans and conservatives, who will offer “what about” comments. As an Independent and former Republican of twenty plus years and Democrat of five plus years, I disagree on policies with both parties. Yet, I find myself arguing policy issues with Democrats and the truth with Republicans. With too many Republicans listening to sources who parrot disinformation and conspiracy stories makes it difficult to counter arguments that will be heard. And, Republicans are much better than Democrats at PR on focusing attention on issues that are not really as big a deal as portrayed. It is akin to creating an issue that can be carried around like a handbag and hit someone over the head with it.

People laugh when I say this, but in 2010-12 elections, the GOP candidates all spoke of the “failed stimulus” plan, with a mandate that both words be used together. Even Democrats believed it. The problem is the stimulus did not fail and was measured as accretive to GDP growth by six econometric firms. And, it should be noted both a Republican and Democrat president were involved in separate stimulus plans. Yet, the PR campaign was successful.

All I ask is to look at people’s stances on real issues, not contrived ones. What do you plan to do about climate change? What do you plan to do about gun governance? What do you plan to do about the growing white supremacy movement? What will you do to assure health care is available to people? What will you do to preserve the rights of women as the exist today? What do you plan to do about our US debt and deficit? What do you plan to do about inflation, other than just complain about it? And, so on.