Why I left the Republican Party

I made the following comment on Jeff’s blog which asked the question why would someone vote Republican? I have made some edits for clarity.

When I left the GOP around 2008 to become an independent, I had three principal reasons:

-the stance on climate change
-the unhealthy embrace with evangelicals and NRA
-the greater propensity to make things up

Republicans would typically see the last one and say both sides lie and they are right. But, it is not a normal distribution, being more heavily weighted to the right. And, in the age of Trump it has only gotten worse. I can argue policy with Democrats, but with Republicans I have to correct their misinformation (and sometimes disinformation).

I said this about ten years ago, but most Republicans are voting against their economic interests and have no idea they are. Poverty is not restricted to urban areas nor is it restricted to non-white voters, with more people in poverty being white. As an example, if the ACA was done away with, Republican voters would be harmed in great numbers. A picture pairing two sets of GOP voters speaks volumes. Note the picture refers to a wealthy GOP donor thanking the less wealthy and educated GOP voter who has been lured in by a values proposition.

And, what I find funny is the GOP is making such a big deal out of election protections based on the Big Lie perpetuated by Trump and his sycophants. Looking back to the Voter ID and gerrymandering bills that got passed in state legislatures since 2010, the GOP cheats far more than the Democrats do, although they both are prone to game the system. I have witnessed this first-hand in North Carolina with laws that were deemed unconstitutional and then rewritten to a retreating line in the sand level of acceptable cheating.

Yet, the issues that concern me are not getting enough airplay, as the focus is on perceived value propositions. If people are concerned about climate change, please do not vote Republican. If people are concerned with civil rights, please do not vote Republican. If people are concerned with healthcare access, please do not vote Republican. If people are concerned about voting rights, please do not vote Republican. If people are concerned with the environment, please do not vote Republican.

My former party used to tout being the party of values, law and order and fiscal responsibility. They do not check any of these boxes anymore. Lying is not a value. Rationalizing an insurrection caused by a Republican president is not lawful. And, increasing the debt and deficit just as much as Democrats do is hypocritical. But, in short, when the truth tellers are vilified and the liars are aggrandized in the party, that shows the party is untethered to the truth.

Democrats are not perfect, but I do not see the same level of lying and malevolence as I do under the GOP. Until the party leaders are told the truth matters and held to account, this won’t change. We must make them rethink this. Some of my Democrat friends disagree with this statement, but we do need a viable Republican party. What we don’t need is whatever this thing masquerading as the Republican party is. Truth must matter.

I hear you talking, but I am not buying it

When a philandering husband tries to explain why he reeks of someone else’s perfume as he saunters in after working late, most wives are not buying it. They hear him talking, but they certainly are not buying it. The failure to communicate begins with a man who thinks the perfume smell will just go away when he leaves his working late partner.

President Bill Clinton actually has numbers to prove he was an effective president, but he still was a skirt chaser, always has been. When he famously said very slowly as he pounded the dais, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” we heard the words, but very few of us was buying his story. Sure, Bill.

President Richard Nixon liked to often say after the Watergate story became bigger than he could handle, “I am not a crook.” Running a burglary ring from the White House and trying to cover it up does not sound very lawful. Nixon was forced to resign by his own party leadership before he was impeached and convicted. Yes, he was a crook.

President Ronald Reagan said on national television that he was not involved in any effort to illegally sell arms to Iran to fund the Contra rebels in Central America. Known as the “Iran-Contra Affair,” Reagan had to go on TV later and say he lied. Per his own son, what his father did was an impeachable offense, but Oliver North fell on the sword and took the rap.

President George HW Bush got in trouble for a campaign promise when he emphatically said “Read my lips, no new taxes.” When the deficit got larger, he ended up raising taxes and was not reelected. I think the emphasis on “read my lips” made it a bigger fall.

President Barack Obama did something similar promising with the Affordable Care Act, “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” He did not know enough about healthcare management to make such as claim. That would come back to haunt him and taint the roll out of the program.

President George Bush, the son, over saw the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses, that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction. The WMDs story was a narrative that Hussein wanted his enemies to believe, but we used faulty intelligence to create a need to invade. An independent UK Commission several years later condemned both Bush and PM Tony Blair for misleading the British people. People died because of this.

President Donald Trump could fill a book with his assertions that turned out not to be true. All politicians are untruthful, but his numbers as president are tens of thousands of untruthful statements. The “election was stolen from me” will likely rank as one of the more devastating lies in our country’s history (the “Big Lie” as it is known). “COVID is a Democrat hoax,” said often and early during the start of the pandemic still echoes today even though it is terribly untrue. “China will pay for the tariffs” said quite often even though economists would add each time he said it that consumers pay for the tariffs as the cost is passed down to them.

What bothers me greatly is when sycophants perpetuate these lies even when they know they could be harmful to people. Pandemic studies of COVID-19 note that an additional couple of hundreds of thousands of people died due to our poor response in the US. There are people who have been sentenced and others standing trial for participating in an insurrection caused by the Big Lie. The truth matters. People get hurt.

The Pentagon Papers are likely the most famous example, which is why Nixon went to great lengths to keep them out of the newspapers. Yet, he wasn’t just covering for himself – he was covering for a fairy tale that hid the fact the US could not win the war in Vietnam, a fairy tale perpetuated by Eisenhower, JFK and LBJ as well. Too many more American soldiers died and huge numbers of Vietnamese citizens were killed as well.

Yet, Nixon’s biggest lie did not come out until years later, when recordings were found from a week before the 1968 presidential election. Nixon the candidate was heard in a recording before the 1968 election asking the South Vietnamese leader to stall the current peace negotiations and he would garner a better deal. The ultimate peace deal took four more years and more American and Vietnamese people died. What Nixon did was a seditious act, but LBJ chose not to publicize it, although he did speak with the Senate Majority Leader about his concerns.

We need politicians to tell us the truth. They owe it to us. I know they all embellish taking credit for good things they have little to do with and blaming others for things they have little to do with, such as the economy. But, today lying seems to be done with impunity. We need to make folks more accountable. We need to demand their sycophants stop covering for the lies or rationalizing them away. Followers will believe their BS not realizing they are being lied to. And, some will get hurt, even killed. We especially owe it to our troops to tell the truth as too many pay for the machinations with their lives.

That COVID thing bit us, but we are all OK

The end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 has been made interesting by our little COVID friend. I mentioned how my oldest son was exposed to a person with COVID two days before Christmas, who frustratingly told him they (I am not certain of the gender) had it after handing him a cup of coffee. While he initially tested negative, he later tested positive. As he was feeling fine between the two results, against my better judgment, he joined us for Christmas Eve dinner and present opening while my daughter was here.

On Christmas day, he let us know he was starting to feel poorly, so he stayed home. While he had his first two vaccines as have other members of my family, he had not had the booster yet. My sister, who lives close by, and I had the booster as well. She joined us for Christmas day and was here when we found out he was getting sick.

My wife, other son and sister tested negative and are feeling fine. My daughter and I tested positive. The good news is all three of us are feeling better and COVID is hopefully in our rearview mirror, although I am still quarantining to avoid infecting others in and out of the house. The vaccines and booster helped us stave off the worst effects, plus we did read the Omicron variant is less severe, even though it is more easily spread.

The symptoms varied a little for the three of us. My throat was sore and I did have a little chest congestion, but mostly because of head congestion draining. I took Acetaminophen and Mucinex (I did speak with a nurse) and drank lots of water and rested. Even though I was little more tired, I was able to continue light exercise which helped with being stir crazy. I started feeling better about two days after being tested positive and a week after exposure. Now, I am taking the occasional Acetaminophen, but stopped the Mucinex after two days as I hate the way it makes me feel. (note some Mucinex has Acetaminophen in it, so don’t overdose).

My son was feverish, had some chest congestion and a sore throat. He did take some Mucinex, but focused on the Acetaminophen. My daughter was feverish, had head congestion, and sore throat as well. She did the same treatment. And, they both are on the upside of the equation now and are feeling fine.

My other son who tested negative postponed his booster for about a week so as not to infect others, just in case. He and my wife avoided any of the symptoms and felt fine throughout. He got the booster last night. My wife is getting her booster on Friday.

I again encourage folks to get vaccinated and/ or get the booster when and if due. I saw an ER doctor in an interview who said we are only seeing patients come in with COVID who were not vaccinated. That is telling. And, I shared earlier my frustration with an acquaintance of my oldest son’s who went into work sick and only told him after an interaction. We must take care of ourselves and each other to keep this thing from taking more than 800,000 Americans and 5.4 million people around the world it has.

Best wishes to all for the New Year and be safe.

Hard Truths

Since our pseudo news outlets and social media pot-stirrers capture the imagination with stories that are largely untrue or focus on the wrong things, we seem to be ignoring hard truths. This concerns me as dialogue over factual information is greatly needed. Otherwise, we address the wrong problems.

America no longer is a country of upward mobility. We have fallen in the ranks of people climbing the socio-economic ladder and to whom and where you were born matters more than merit.

America ranked in the twenties in terms of science and math in world educational ranking the last time I checked. It may be worse now. That is not American Exceptionalism.

America has the most expensive health care system in the world but ranks around thirty-eight in quality outcomes. We have one of the hjghest maternal mortality rates in first world countries.

America was put on watch list for democracies around the world. That sentence speaks volumes. When people believe a former president who is known for being untruthful when he says the election was stolen, that gives me concern. The fact he cannot prove any of his wild contentions should be informational. He has won only one out of 65+ court cases and no recounts or audits. It is hard for him to lose any more than this, but he was still at it earlier this week.

That climate change thing is real and it is here. Storms are more severe and impactful. Drought areas are dryer. Wild fires are more intense. And, coastal areas are seeing more sunny day flooding. What is less discussed is the warmer weather pushes further north wreaking havoc on flora and fauna. The Maine lobsters are migrating north and we are seeing more tropical disease carrying insects up this way.

And, there are many other things we are not discussing.

A Monday morning after Christmas

Since I rise early, after feeding the dog and letting him outside, I can settle down with a cup of coffee and shadowy morning serenity to catch up on posts and post the words for a new day. While Christmas was enjoyable to a small degree, we have continuing concern after my oldest son came in contact with an “unannounced” COVID infected person. He is feeling poorly (although he said the Mucinex is helping with congestion),but did test negative on a less than accurate test. He is awaiting the more detailed test results, which have been held up by the holidays and will likely test again later in the week.

Fortunately, he has had the first two vaccines, yet is scheduled to have the booster. He was bummed he did not get to be here live for all of the festivities, but we delivered his presents and some homemade chicken soup. He was also disappointed someone he knew did not tell him he or she was infected, until after handing him a cup of coffee and being close by. Since he has been so diligent with his precautions, this less than altruistic attitude of an acquaintance was particularly “disappointing” to him. It is like someone breeched his trust.

Disappointing is the word that comes to mind for my wife and me. While I applaud those who have gotten vaccines and take the COVID seriously with the steps they take, I am disappointed that others are not so community minded. While I understand legitimate concerns about the pace of the vaccines roll out, I tend to find arguments about vaccines being an infringement of freedoms lacking in veracity. And, for those who are avoiding the vaccines because some talk show host or elected official made this political, I strongly disagree with that rationale.

I was watching “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” last night where their year-end show recaps the year’s stories. One reporter made the comment about the falderol over certain athletes who have lied about taking the vaccines, but noted the professional leagues tend to have very high vaccination rates – the WNBA has a 96% rate, while the NBA has a 92% rate. The reporter noted too much fuss is placed over the named players who have not, but we lose sight of the low vaccine rates in the New York City police force (she cited 32%) as an example, which should give us greater pause.

I share our vaccine stories with others and try to be encouraging. Yet, when people are cavalier about the responsibility that comes with freedom, it gives me pause. And, if my son does have COVID because of such, it adds fuel to my disappointment in those who do not take this seriously. If I offended you, then I am sorry, but that is the way my wife and I feel. Please get the vaccines and/ or booster shots. It helps you, your family, your friends and others you come in contact with.

Be kind, be safe, be wise

With a new holiday season upon us as well as a new variance of COVID, we must remain cautious. My wife and I just learned her cousin and her cousin’s husband have now contracted the virus, with her cousin in the hospital getting treatment. Both were naysayers and neither got the vaccine. This makes us sad and concerned, and we are hoping for a recovery.

Since we Christians are celebrating the birth of Jesus in a few days, let me take a few minutes to encourage the deployment of the following three “wise men.” In my story, these three magi are kindness, safety and wisdom. Be kind, be safe, be wise.

Be kind. One of my favorite quotes is do not mistake kindness as weakness. As we travel and intermingle with others, do what Baby Jesus taught us later in life – treat others like you want to be treated. This rule is so important, Jesus called it “golden.” Jesus had no caveats regarding being selective or discounting those who are perceived enemies. And, Jesus was no weakling, as he agreed to be tortured to save us from ourselves. Please think of these golden words when you are considering being a jerk to someone because you do not like the rules you should have known beforehand.

Be safe. There is no plan B. You and your family only have one life. So, be safe. The best piece of advice I heard is you are better protected against COVID if you practice all of the layers of protection. Be vaccinated, get the booster, wear a mask indoors, practice safe distancing, and wash your hands. If not for you, think of your children. I would hate to have a loved one die from COVID. I would hate it even more, if they chose not to get the vaccine only to realize too late, they were just being stubborn as six naysaying radio shock jocks realized. It is akin to the people who died from AIDS who chose not to use condoms after clearly learning how it was transmitted.* It makes you sad.

Be wise. There are many people smarter than me. Full stop. But, I do know when people realize how much they still don’t know, they have reached a stage of enlightenment. I see way too many people speak with certainty about things they should not, me included. Please do not take my word for anything. I am sharing my opinion. Do your homework through reputable sources. Speak with your doctor. This is especially true if you have other medical issues you are dealing with. We will continue to restrict our travel. We have not been on plane since before the pandemic. Yet, we do drive and take day trips.

So, during this holiday season and even afterwards, be kind, be safe, be wise. That is the best gift you can give you and your family. Peace be with you.

* Note: It should be noted for the longest time, it was unclear how AIDs was transmitted. Because of this, there was a lot of confusion and misinformation bantered about and people died. Lessons were learned and eventually communicated, but once it became clear that using condoms helped, it would have been a community service for the wider dissemination of that information and free condoms – these last two tools were deployed in Third world countries to much success.

Imperfect American hero dies at age 98 – Bob Dole

In an article in Yahoo! Finance called “Bob Dole dies at 98, leaving lasting legacies on Social Security and food assistance,” by Bob Werschkul, the following brief obituary can be found:

“Bob Dole, a former Senate majority leader who unsuccessfully ran for president against Bill Clinton, died Sunday. He was 98 years old. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth Dole, who was also a U.S. senator, and a daughter, Robin, from a previous marriage.

One of the giants of American politics in the 20th century, Dole will be remembered for his heroism in World War II, his time as Senate Majority Leader, his 1996 run for president, and even his unlikely turn in a commercial for the maker of Viagra.

But perhaps two of his most enduring legacies on American life came earlier in his nearly 50-year-long career in public office. As a U.S. Senator, Dole was at the center of deals on the Social Security program and on food stamps (now known as SNAP) that have left lasting imprints on how Americans interact with these two programs.

In his memoir, “One Soldier’s Story,” Dole wrote that when he is asked about the accomplishments in the Senate he is most proud of, his ‘answer sometimes surprises people’ — he listed Social Security as his top answer alongside passing the Americans with Disabilities act, a civil rights law that prevents discrimination based on disability.”

I recognize fully that some folks may not appreciate Dole for some of his other stances, but even progressives should note his pride and help in getting three major pieces of legislation enacted that impact so many lives. Even without his legislative accomplishments, Dole served in the Army and survived World War II when many thought he would not. He was awarded a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts for his courage and physical punishment that lasted the rest of his 98 years.

I was telling a retired neurosurgeon yesterday about Dole’s push for better access to healthcare. This neurosurgeon is among a national group of doctors pushing for Medicare for All. As we discussed the Affordable Care Act, I mentioned there are elements therein of Dole’s healthcare plans he was pushing in his 1996 presidential campaign. Some of these elements also found their way into Romneycare in Massachusetts, to which the ACA has similarities.

So, think about this legacy. Social Security, SNAP, the Americans with Disabilities Act and some elements of the ACA. But, of course, today we have more strident tribal politics, which flavor way too many things. What many folks need to better understand today is there is not one politician who will say and do things you agree with 100%. Nor should it be. This is a lot like all relationships.

We need to avoid taking people’s head off when they don’t agree with you. There is an old line that applies to any organization – be diplomatic when people disagree with you, as they may have supported your idea in the past and may very well in the future. Dole was imperfect, but he knew this. We should as well.

Vaccine Booster Done – no worries

Yesterday, I received my COVID booster shot, a third shot from Pfizer. So far, there have been no worries except some expected arm pain, but I will provide any updates later, if circumstances change.

I am aware of several folks who have received the booster, with two experiencing some tiredness. As with the first two vaccines, I encourage folks to get the booster. If people have not gotten the first vaccines, I urge folks to move forward.

Too many folks have died from COVID. And sadly, too many vaccine naysayers have passed away, recognizing only at the end their error in judgement. Are the COVID vaccines perfect? No, as are all other vaccines, medicines and surgeries – just read the possible side effects on any drug description.

Yet, those who have had issues with the COVID vaccines, may seem like a lot, but when compared to the number of vaccines given are a very small percentage. That does not diminish the angst or poor experience of those folks. But, we need to keep these results in context, noting the huge percentage of positive experiences.

As before, please do not take my word for it and check with your own doctor. Be safe. Be healthy. Stay alive.

Travel safely, be well, respect flight attendants

Here in the US, my favorite holiday is upon us, Thanksgiving. I encourage everyone to travel safely, use meditation and patience to remain calm and be well. A little more walking or aerobic activity to counter vent the calorie intake would be wise.

Also, try not to accost the flight attendants. When wound up passengers do that, they are like the monkey climbing a tree – at some point they bare their hind end. I did see where airline attendants are learning self-defense techniques to ward of those wound up few

For some reason, these wound up few believe being made to follow the rules to protect everyone is a personal affront to their liberties. Just like any set of rules, you know them beforehand. If you don’t like it when on the plane or after a few drinks, then you missed your chance to vote with your feet. Once on the plane, the best advice is to sit down and shut up.

I mention this as I learned yesterday that seven anti-vaxxer doctors have now come down with COVID after attending a conference together. This follows on three months of five anti-vaxxer radio hosts, unfortunately getting and dying from COVID. One of the now sick doctors was mad at his father, who at the age of 99 had gotten both doses of the vaccine. I do not wish COVID on anyone, but I am not surprised when unvaccinated people come down with it.

As for me, I am scheduled to get the booster after Thanksgiving. My sister got the booster two weeks ago and had zero complications. With her job and other health issues, being fully vaccinated is key. My wife will, be getting hers after me.

I am aware of over fifty people who have had the vaccines, with only a few sore arms, some fever or body aches just afterward. What I find sad and amusing is some folks would rather take an animal de-wormer which is not meant for humans than a vaccine that has been tested and has data to support its overall efficacy. No drug is perfect without some side effects for a small few (just read the warning labels), but a de-wormer? Really?

So, count me in the vaccine camp, the human one. That is what I am going to do, as it protects me and others. Unfortunately, we are not out of the woods yet, as the numbers are expected to uptick again. Getting things closer to fine takes some effort, a community effort.

That is what communities do. They help each other out. Some guy named Jesus said that. Also, Gandhi talked of a community’s greatness being measured how they take care of the less fortunate. Neither person mentioned beating up flight attendants.

So, travel calmly and safely. And, be well.

When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water – a revisit to an old post

The following post was written nine years ago. Since that time the global water crisis has annually been noted as the number one or two long term concern by the World Economic Forum. Plus, we have had crises like the one in Cape Town, South Africa where they came perilously close to running out of water and Flint, Michigan where a lead pipe system caused health issues for disenfranchised populations. Caution, this is a little longer than my current posts, which I have tried to shorten.

The title above is a quote from Benjamin Franklin which speaks volumes. Water is a very dear resource and we truly do not know its ultimate value until it is gone or our access to it is limited. I recently completed one of the best history books I have ever read “Water – the Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization” by Steven Solomon. Solomon has written for the New York Times, Business Week, The Economist, Forbes and Esquire among other places and is the author of “The Confidence Game,” so the book has an investigative storytelling bent which makes history come alive. Yet, it is not just a history book as he brings us to today’s times and provides us with cautions to heed as we move forward.

In short, the book shows the ability for great civilizations to rise, thrive and fall based on their ability to control water resources for drinking, farming, manufacturing, sewage and transportation. Through this we learn the vital role that bringing water into an area for use and then using it to sweep away sewage from that same area can have in enhancing or debilitating our lives. To paint an ugly picture, London in the mid-1800’s had a terrible period, as did other major cities, where cholera, dysentery and other diseases were prominent. The period was called “The Big Stink” as sewage was not be adequately washed away and was actually being dumped into the same drinking water sources. After years of postponement (sounds like our debt crisis) of dealing with it, the smell became so grotesque that Parliament had to act within 18 days to set in motion a plan to resolve it.

I use this example rather than others as it shows how basic the needs water fills and our inability to use it wisely can be truly catastrophic. Rome was known for its aqueducts and how it flourished with the baths it created. The baths which improved hygiene became so popular, they were the social meeting places where people of all strata kept themselves clean and healthy. It is not ironic that Rome flourished during this time and fell when many of these aqueducts were destroyed by invaders from the North.

To use a more recent example, Teddy Roosevelt is probably the greatest water president in US history. Before his time, the greatest US water accomplishment was the building of the Erie Canal which reduced the cost of goods transport immensely connecting ports. Roosevelt had three major contributions – the building of the Panama Canal, the development of planned water rights and retrieval in the west to help irrigate dry areas for crops and sustenance, and the protection of water sheds via the vast number of parks he created. His inspiration and force of will also led to the building of the Hoover Dam which occurred later and whose success was copied many times over by his cousin, Franklin when he was in the White House.

It is arguable that these water initiatives by Teddy Roosevelt are key reasons the US is as powerful today. I recognize that downplays the roles of many others, but the US leveraged its access to both coasts through the building of the Panama Canal. Plus, it helped the can-do psyche of Americans after earlier attempts by France to build the canal failed. Successful major construction can be uplifting just as failures can be crushing as China saw with the huge failure of a major dam project completed just four years ago.

I wanted to provide a little varied context from the book, as we look at problems of today and the near and longer term future. I had incorrectly given credit for this quote to Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy, but a key chapter title in the book is called “Water: The New Oil.” We have growing concerns in the US, especially in drier parts of the country, but even other areas which are not known for being dry. More on these later. While we have these concerns, we are still referenced as being more water rich than other places on the planet. What this book highlights is the insatiable desire for water in water poor countries is causing the misuse or  unplanned use of water at too fast a pace so that it cannot be replenished. What will bring the Middle East to its knees will be the ever worsening shortage of water. As rich a country as Saudi Arabia is through oil, it is water poor and will very soon be using up its water supply. Other countries are even in more dire straits in that region.

If you move into the African continent you can look to Ethiopia to where the Nile begins, but most of the water is used in Egypt. Issues have erupted around the sharing of water and will continue to be of concern. The building of the Aswan Dam was in some respects a success, but in others a failure as it was built in the wrong place. Much of the water created from the dam evaporates before it is used. The book points out to these kinds of issues as we plan ahead and we must. This issue becomes even more critical in water and economically poor countries. So, globally we need concerted planning on we should use our water resources. This problem will only become worse if we grow unfettered increasing the number of people on our planet and the impact of global warming continues to affect our supply.

Bringing the issue back to the US,  we are water rich, but could be better personal, industrial and governmental stewards of our water. Americans use far more water than others on the planet. We are seeing droughts and water fights between Georgia, Alabama and Florida and Texas has numerous places where the water table has dried up, e.g. The global warming impact will continue to hit the driest places on the planet the most and it is one of the factors there has been the onset of forest fires which we are seeing here and in Australia and Russia.

So, we need to act now to plan ahead with better water usage strategies and not wait for the “big stink” to occur using that as a metaphor for all water problems. And, we need to continue to offer and help other countries develop strategies and execute them at the regional and local levels. One of the ironies is in parts of rural India where the British water management back in the early 1900’s did not reach, they still maintain water councils who provide stewardship over water use. India has grown so rapidly in major cities, that the infrastructure needs updating, but these smaller water council areas continue to be judicious users of water because they had to be that way. We all need to be judicious.

So, what can we do? At the individual level, conservation is key. Three of the greatest water uses are in flushing toilets, washing clothes and washing dishes. If we each can strive for more the more energy-efficient wash cycles and lower water use toilets that could be an enormous savings. There are recycling examples for water where toilets can draw from shower water and rainwater collections can be used for watering plants. We Americans need to cut back on the lawn sprinklers as well as we abuse this privilege. We can do this through use, but also by planting more indigenous grasses and plants. I am also reminded of my Dad’s navy shower restrictions on ship – 25 seconds of water. You used five to wet your body. Then you soaped up and turned back on the spigot for the last twenty seconds of water to rinse off. I am not advocating navy shower limits per se, but we do not need to be like my children either and lounge around in the shower.

Yet, I think we need to be aware and advocate that we should address our problems. There are some very good things going on in our country that can be done elsewhere. Setting aside the Big Stink example, Orange County in CA has successfully reused sewage water as drinking water and for irrigation. As scary as this sounds, they use multiple filtering and cleaning techniques that have proven to work.  There is continued exploration of desalinization techniques with ocean water, but they tend to be very expensive and the issue of what to do with the salt is an issue. Plus, there are some neat things going on in industry to use recycled water for various uses.

On the flip side, we have continued to be poor stewards in other areas and have been slow to act in rectifying these issues. In “Living Downstream,” Dr. Sandra Steingraber has noted we continue to pollute our waters with petro-chemicals which wreak havoc. In Canada, they have outlawed ornamental pesticides for home use due to the air and water poisoning. And, one of the big reasons I am against fracking is, in addition to the toxic issues it causes for air and water, it uses an exorbitant amount of water, 2 – 5 million gallons per fracking well. Fracking did not cause the drought in Texas, but it sure is not helping it now. We need a strong EPA, not a weakened one.

Finally, this is a major issue that affects every resource issue, so it needs to be stated. I am going to ask everyone to set aside their religious beliefs for these next few statements. The earth cannot support the unfettered increase in population.  We are in the neighborhood of 8 million people. If we all consume as Rwandans do, the earth may be able to support 15 million. If we consume the way Americans do, the earth could only support less than 2 million. Please reread these two sentences. So, if we do not have planned birth control, we will run out of food and water. Even if you set aside global warming and its impact which is here and will get worse, we cannot support an unfettered increase in our population. So, when I hear how evil Planned Parenthood and its global partners around the world are by our more evangelical global citizens, my reaction is we desperately need family planning and birth control or we are sentencing ourselves and our children to die or to a much different kind of life. In my bible, God told us to be good stewards of the earth. We all need to step up to the plate now and heed his wishes or we will witness Benjamin Franklin’s caution noted above.