Archived Discussions

Continued from Home Page

November 20, 2014 at 10:30 AM
Accusations that famed comedian and father figure Bill Cosby Raped a number of Women
News of famous father figure Bill Cosby raping upward of 15 women years ago are in current headlines.  I was watching the View and 3 of the 4 women hosts on the show were in favor of keeping this out of public discussions until more facts are uncovered.  It seems that women are some of the strongest opponents to exposing rape.  However Bill Cosby’s relative silence on this issue does not make him look good.  It appears that the statute of limitations will preclude any of his accusers of gaining financially from their claims so there seems to be no motive for making such accusation now.  This reminds me about priest who were thought to be God’s spokesmen so boys who were sexually assaulted kept quiet for decades in the fear that they would be ridiculed and not believed.  But once one spoke up many more started speaking out revealing thousands of cases worldwide.  We must get over the stigma that rape must be the woman’s fault for being sexual.  Being a woman is not theirs to blame nor a license for testosterone driven men to main.

November 12, 2014 at 11:30 PM
China And U.S., Titans Of Carbon Pollution, Move To Cut Gases
Today at a meeting between President Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping both the U.S. and China have agreed to cap their emissions.  However with the conservative Republican Congress in charge I wonder how realistically President Obama is going to keep his side of the deal?  Many conservative Republicans do not believe that Global Warming is real or caused by man.  In either case they do not see the point of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the risk of upsetting the economy.  Thus we can no longer accuse China of not doing their part in reducing pollution and greenhouse gasses.  China realize that carbon is causing far more harm than economic benefit so they have decided to bite the economic bullet that we seem unwilling to do.  So we are likely alone among major industrial nations other than Russia in not aggressively curbing carbon emissions.  Ironically we were one of the first nations to recognize the problem but now are likely one of the last to do anything about it.  So much for leadership.

November 11, 2014 at 2:30 PM
Obama Asks F.C.C. to Adopt Tough Net Neutrality Rules
President Obama announced yesterday that he wanted the FCC to regulate the internet to maintain Net Neutrallity so that ISPs could not arbitrarily provide faster fee based internet services and slower less or no fee-based service.  The internet was developed so that everyone would have equal access to it.  Industries inhumanely like to control everything they are involved in to benefit their financial gain.  That is the nature of free enterprise.  That is why so many laws have been passed to regulate their activities.  The internet is simply just another medium that they want to control to their benefit.  Now that industry has shown their intentions of speed regulation I feel it is time to regulate this media.  Regulation is always a two edged sward but the abusive nature of industries such as Verizon and AT&T make it necessary to implement this better of all evils.  So I fully support the Presidents initiative.

November 03, 2014 at 11:45 AM
As Planned, Right-To-Die Advocate Brittany Maynard Ends Her Life
29 year old Brittany Maynard yesterday ended her life in Oregon where assisted suicides or assisted dying, the same thing but removing the word suicide, are legal.  She was in the company of her mother and husband who agreed with her choice to end her life after being diagnosed with incurable brain cancer.  Her decision to end her life with dignity instead of having to suffer through treatment to prolong her life or suffer the effects and indignities of the disease are controversial.  It is very sad that Brittany should have to take her own life but it is even more sad that she was given a death sentence of brain cancer.  For young Brittany quality of life and dying with dignity were important to her, so important that she chose to end her life with her loved ones present at the peak of her life.  I feel we should respect her wishes and to not feel she did something very wrong.  We put our beloved pets out of their misery when fatally ill.  Yet there are many who feel that human life is too sacred, for religious reasons, to take and allow their loved ones to suffer great pain and loss of dignity until they eventually die naturally.  This seems to me to be very inhumane if the dying wishes to end their own life earlier.  I feel people should have a choice in these matters as long as they are doing it out of their own free will and are of sane mind.  If one wants to short-circuit the suffering and loss of dignity due to their disease even if it is not terminal why shouldn’t we allow them that right?  California still makes assisted dying illegal.  Brittany lived in California but had to recently move to Oregon to end her own life legally with dignity.  (See my post: Can a Case be made for Physician-Assisted Suicide?)

October 24, 2014 at 1:45 PM
NPR Guts Its Environment And Climate Reporting Team, Becomes ‘Part Of The Problem’
Excerpt from ClimateProgress: NPR has gutted its staff dedicated to covering environmental and climate issues. Given the nation’s and world’s renewed focus on the threat posed by unrestricted carbon pollution, this baffling move is already receiving widespread criticism from scientists and media watchers… Climate communications expert Dr. Robert J. Brulle of Drexel University … also emailed me (author) a comment on NPR’s move:

The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 that led to the founding of NPR had as one of its goals that public broadcasting would serve as a “source of alternative telecommunications services” that would serve to “address national concerns.” This latest announcement illustrates how NPR has lost its way. The level of coverage of climate change by NPR has not served to increase public knowledge of climate change any more than any other commercial news outlet. Its coverage has returned to the levels seen around 2006. Reducing the environmental staff will further decrease its coverage of climate change. I would have thought NPR would take a proactive stance toward the coverage of climate change, given its charter to address issues of national concern. Sadly, it seems that instead of being part of the solution, NPR has now become part of the problem.

October 6, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Supreme Court Declines to Intervene in Gay Marriage Cases
In a landmark decision by omission by the US Supreme Court it has decided not to hear any petitions to invalidate same sex marriage.  This directly affects 5 states with appeal cases but in general the Court is saying that it will hear no more appeals against same sex marriage.  This is essentially a sanction that LGBT are a legitimate social group with full rights under the law to have the same rights as straight sensual partners.  As with straight people there are social standards and laws which they must respect and obey but their legal rights of marriage now are essentially not illegal.  It is now up to each states to decide whether to allow same sex marriage or not.  Gay marriage are already legal in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.  Soon, due to this nondecision, it will also be legal in Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin,  Indiana, Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.  That is 30 out of 50 states where same sex marriage is or will soon be legal and enjoy all the legal and tax rights of other married couples.

September 30, 2014 at 4:30 PM
Does John Boehner Believe American Boots on Ground Needed to Defeat the Islamic State?
John Boehner says that President Obama is not doing enough to destroy the ISIS barbarians.  He says that we need to send ground troops to Syria and Iraq to effectively destroy ISIS.  Everyone believes this will be a drawn out war lasting many years.  So it sound like there is a bipartisan consensus to destroy ISIS even if it takes many years and possibly ground troops.  What is the difference between this and the other wars we have been fighting in the Middle East?  It looks like we will be fighting in the Middle East for many years to come killing and being killed and spending hundreds of billions or perhaps trillions of dollars in war and destruction until we get fed up like the Vietnam War and stop the government.  Many do not consider this like Vietnam but in terms of our government wanting to root out evil and slowly escalating support for a war we can’t win because we cannot stop more extremist terrorist groups from forming it is an open-ended commitment to violence.  al-Qida lasted more than 10 years and still fights in Afghanistan and then comes ISIS in Syria and Iraq and who knows where else for another 10 years or so then what after that?  Don’t we get it yet?  How many lives and damaged war veterans have we wasted in wars over the last 50 year and how many have we actually achieved our end objectives?  How many lives were wasted overthrowing and occupying Iraq on the false pretense of nuclear and biological weapons?  After 13 year in Afghanistan how much longer do we intend to fight al-Qida and lose troops?  Has any nation been at war not in defense of their homeland more frequently than the U.S. in modern history?  I fear history will look upon the U.S. as a warring nation like the Roman or Mongolian empires but in a modern-day context.

September 29, 2014 at 5:00 PM
Solutions to Iraqi Stability Not part of U.S. Foreign Policy
I stated on September 22, 2014 at 5:30 PM that I would propose a solution to stability for Iraq that may not sound very attractive to many Americans.  A large part of our failure to bring peace and stability to the Middle East is our lack/unwillingness to understand the cultures, history, and religions of that region.  We continually try to impose our form of democracy, equality, and freedom to people whose religious experience and cultural heritage are largely diametrically opposite to our own.  Only a few students and intellectuals understand us.  The vast majority of the population are ultra-conservatives who liked thing better before the Americans invaded.  Saddam Hussein was loved by few, tolerated by most, hated by some and feared by a small minorities.  He ruled with an iron fist but left most citizens alone as long as they posed no threat to his regime.  He is like many Middle East rulers.  What Iraq needs is another strong ruler who has little tolerance for descent and represents the religion of the majority.  Religion must play a major role in government since it is the glue that holds Islamic populations together as it often does in America.  Unfortunately some amount of genocide may happen if the government feels minorities a threat though they don’t call it genocide.  In a sense that is what we are doing to the threat of ISIS though we call it to neutralize or degrade and destroy.  All ordinary people want is for the bombs and bullets to stop.  So all we have to do is pick a strong ruler who the people feel will do them the least harm.  A government like Iran might work.  It is an Islamic Republic that elects representatives and a president and has a supreme religious leader who has the real power.  Religion is very dominant there so having a powerful religious leader who guides the government and has veto powers is important to them.  Supporting such a government with arms has the greatest chance of it being friendly to us, far better than we actually using these arms against Iraqi terrorists.  Let such a government take care of ISIS their way.  They will be more ruthless but far more efficient against such threats.  That will bring more lasting stability and greater peace so the vast majority of people can carry on life as they have for hundreds of years.  This is not what I wish but what I think might work easiest.

September 29, 2014 at 11:00 AM
What is our Objective for being in the Middle East?
The Mideast has always been in a state of chaos and ambivalence. The U.S. has done nothing but make things much worst. We have likely been responsible for the rise of al-Qaida and the creation of ISIS(L). Far fewer died at the hands of Saddam Hussein than as a result of U.S. presence in Iraq, so which benefited Iraqi citizens more? How many Arabs and Americans would not have died or been maimed had the U.S. never been in the Middle East? Do we even have a clear goal for being there? If so are we any closer to reaching that goal and what is our exit strategy and time-frame? How many more $Billions and troops in harm’s way do we intend to commit to this end or endless endeavor instead of investing in education and infrastructure here? I want real answers, not simply ambivalent and deceptive rhetoric President Obama. We can blame the Bush’s all we want for Iraq but who has been running the show for the last 6 years? Perhaps all the gun violence in this country is simply a reflection of our cultural propensity towards it here and abroad.  I’m tired and frustrated with all this Endless killing and violence.  Is this the way thing are and will be?  Has this nation degenerated from a great and near perfect concept to an end-stage decline and conclusion?

September 23, 2014 at 2:00 PM
President Obama gets Bipartisan Blessing from Congress to Attack ISIL
It seems strange that presidents seem to usually fight tooth and nails to get approval of a legislative agenda but when it comes to declaring war Congress either turns a blind eye to what the president does until things go very wrong or give bipartisan support.  It almost seems that our government considers placing human lives in harms way of little consequence, giving the impression that life is cheap and spending money has far greater value.  This might in fact be the case for congress.  When passing legislation that has major consequences for the lives of citizens, money and partisan politics is always used as the primary merit for deciding whether to pass it or not.  People no longer seem to matter.  President Obama has declare war on the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) with almost no bipartisan objection.  Congress is essentially giving President Obama free reign to attack ISIS targets and arm Syrian rebels who could later use those arms against us.  Yet Obama is having problems getting additional funding for schools for our children or funding to feed our poor.  You figure it.  Life indeed seems very cheap.

September 22, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Possible Solution to Instability with Long-Term Peace in Iraq
The major cause of widespread instability and violence is Poverty.  In nations where poverty does not exist but the basic freedoms we so cherish in the U.S. such free speech are suppressed as in Saudi Arabia, little unrest exist.  People who are content with their lives are simply too passive to upset the apple cart of comfort and a worry-free life.  Thus freedom or even a democratic government are not essential to peace as Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive dictatorships in the world, amply demonstrates.  Very wisely King Abdullah has shared some of his oil wealth with those whom he rules allowing his citizens to live very comfortably and thus forget about the oppression of freedom and human rights they live under.  Iraq has the fifth largest oil reserves in the world and perhaps much larger because the violence in Iraq has prevented further estimates to be made since 2001.  What if Iraqi oil reserves were nationalized and oil exploration resumed and most of the profits from the sale of oil used to improve the nation’s infrastructure and the standard of living of its citizens similar to Saudi Arabia.  People will see their lives improved and complain less.  Of course there will be corruption.  It is unavoidable as long as people are poor but as the standard of living increases bribery and corruption will decrease.  The U.S. can be a key player in helping introduce technology to explorer and extract oil.  In addition all attempts should be placed upon hiring Iraqis to do most of the work and learn how to explore and extract oil for themselves.  Included in this infrastructure should the be building schools and other industries.  The U.S. can encourage companies to set up assembly facilities there with tax incentives to attract companies thus further boosting the income of people into becoming consumers.  Iraqi troops trained by the U.S. would be used to protect all these investments.  There will be problems especially in the beginning in protecting facilities and infrastructure but if facilities are centralized they will be easier to protect.  I feel such a strategy is better than what we are doing today spending tens of millions of dollars daily blowing up ISIS.  Of course simply completely withdrawing is the easiest course of action but that leaves Iraq’s fate in uncertain hands.  This will not be simple and I have a few ideas that may not sound very attractive to American but may be the most practice.  I will have future Discussions about them soon.

September 22, 2014 at 1:00 PM
The Objective of Occupation and the Price of Occupying
We have occupied Iraq for 12 years now with no end in sight now with ISIS in the picture.  Why do such Islamic extremist organizations keep on popping up and gaining such popularity and support in Iraq and elsewhere in the third world Mideast?  Without understanding this question and addressing it, and assuming we can utterly destroy (put out of existence) these groups, an unrealistic expectation, what is to prevent other extremist groups from following suit?  The social/government/economic conditions of that region are such futile grounds for extremest groups and our presence just adds a greater boost to that fertilizer every time we kill another Arab and alienate more of their relatives.  Until we address this issue we will continue to encounter more extremist and amplify the hatred against us as the body counts increases.  Imagine things reversed and we were occupied by a foreign force whom we resent.  The occupation itself would be insulting enough in itself with all the foreign social changes and change in government but if we started loosing brothers, sister, parents, and children as combatants or from collateral casualties of war I think it would make you more resolved to rid ourselves of such occupiers.  The most successful occupiers are the most ruthless kind that put utter fear in the hearts of the occupied.  This is not what our country does due to human rights issues so we cannot stop such extremist unless we solve the root cause of unrest.  The problem is that we let the army do all the peace keeping but they were trained for battle, not keeping the peace and nation building.  So there we are still not solving any problems as we destroy one extremist group after another.  If we cannot solve the root problem of unrest then it seems much more reasonable to simply leave.

September 14, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Does President Obama’s Resolve to Defeat ISIS have a Hidden Agenda?
It occurred to me today that perhaps President Obama is trying in truth to extend our stay in Iraq in an attempt to complete the democratization of that nation and further strengthen that nation’s allegiance to the United States.  This is a perfect excuse for extending our stay there to assure that we have a strong ally.  Obama has already forced former Prime Minister Maliki to resign, even though he was the freely elected prime minister of Iraq, because he marched to the beat of a different drummer.  The Iraq government is still too weak to survive for long without the help of the United States so fighting ISIS with the lowered expectation that this would be a long drawn out war lasting year would allow us to stay in Iraq to continue control the government militarily and gradually return troops to Iraqi soil as hostilities with ISIS inevitably escalates.  This would also make Republicans happy and perhaps easier to work with.  If this is the President’s expectation he has badly underestimated the depths to which the Republicans dislike and even hate him.  So we can expect to be in Iraq and even Afghanistan and possibly Syria for years to come.  So much for troop withdrawals.  I hope Democrats have a grasp of things to come.

September 13, 2014 at 10:00 PM
20th Anniversary of Violence Against Women Act
Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act.  Until then women had to prove that they did not provoke attacks or rape upon themselves by men from their appearance or behavior.  Men were often acquitted or sentenced to light terms for beating their wives to death.  Today we condemn other nations such as India when a husband throws acid on the face of his wife or when Turkey condemns a woman to death for adultery.  So it hasn’t been that long when we were not that much better than they.  But in the intervening 20 years we have come a long ways.  Spousal abuse is still occurring such as in the cases of a couple of NFL football players who have been recently suspended for beating their wives.  Wives often do not report their abuses for fear of reprisals by their husbands so something still needs to be done to deal with this.  But this just scratches the surface of spousal abuse so we still have some way to go before such things are no longer common.  At least women now have legal recourse.  Rape is also still common in this country but again the Violence Against Women Act now brings the law on their side.  There are other human rights issues in this country such as child abuse and kidnapping but again the law now treats these as serious offenses.  Crimes against LGBT have also been treated more seriously in recent years since our laws now recognizes their rights.  However the treatment by some law enforcement of Hispanics and especially Blacks needs far more oversight and legal means for discouraging abuses.  Yes we have come a long way in the last 20 years but we still have some ways to go before we can say that America is a Human Rights and Human Justice nation.  So we are still in no position to judge other nations for not living up to our social standards.  That is part is what this blog is all about.

September 12, 2014 at 8:00 PM
U.S. Engagement with ISIL or ISIS to destroy them
As I learn more and more about ISIS or ISIL as President Obama prefers to calls them it is becoming clear that they are much larger than al-Qaeda and they actually fight battles to occupy territories like a regular army.  They are not simply terrorists as Obama’s speech seems to imply.  This means that placing troops on the ground to fight them is inevitable.  We cannot simply defeat them with drones and bombs.  I know of no lengthy war that has been won this way.  So we are getting involved in another very long ground war with no end in sight and no exist strategy.  How many more years and dead solders must be sacrificed for a cause we may not win.  Can the President assure us that no other similar groups will pop up to fight us if we eventually defeat ISIS?  Or is this another enemy we must spend hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of more lives over many years fighting?  If we were to totally withdraw our troops from this region of the world now would ISIS remain a threat to Our nation’s security?  What reason would there be for such a claim if we no longer pose a threat to them?  What is national security anyway?  Is it protecting our commercial interests such as oil companies in that region of the world?  Shouldn’t it be the price of doing business to take such risks rather than allow the lives or our troops to be jeopardized protect their interests?  Or are U.S. oil companies somehow an extension of our government or citizens?  Don’t we have anything better to spend our tax dollars on other than war, killing, and destruction?  Aren’t we short on money for education, transportation infrastructure, research for alternative energy, paying back the debt, etc?  Or are we collecting so much taxes dollars that we must spent this excess money upon fighting foreign wars?  Does President Obama’s declaration of war on ISIS make any rational sense in improving the lives of the average citizen of this nation by bringing back body bags and broken bodies and minds?

September 10, 2014 at 11:45 PM
President Obama’s speech outlining strategy to defeat Islamic State
Tonight President Obama outlined his plans for destroying ISIL.  It is 15 minutes away from 9/11 exactly thirteen years ago that al-Qaeda terrorists struck on U.S. soil killing thousands of Americans.  Sine then we have been in pursuit of  al-Qaeda terrorists and have yet to eradicate them.  In that time many soldiers and non-combatants from this country have died at al-Qaeda’s hands.  We have weakened them but now the threat of LSIL looms its ugly head.  If we engage them for the next 10 years and destroy them who is to say another terrorist group won’t pop up?  Even worst what if other similar terrorist groups pop up in the next few year?  Will we attempt to destroy all of them?  There is no shortage of people in the Middle East that hate our guts.  We have killed ten’s of thousands of their family members and children and invaded their lands.  When will it end?  I think the wisest course of action is to pack up and totally leave.  This is an unwinnable proposition.  All we will do is bring on the wrath of more Islamic extremest and endanger ourselves to another 9/11 type terrorist attack perhaps with a nuclear weapon this time.  It’s not worth sacrificing another American life there or endangering many more lives here from a terrorist.  The President is failing to take all the potential consequences of his actions into account.  Perhaps he is right.  But is it worth the risk if he could be dead wrong?

September 1, 2014 at 6:30 PM
California Disclosure Act SB 52 Withdrawn from Floor Vote due to opposition by Unions
The California Disclosure Act, SB 52, was withdrawn from a last-minute floor vote last Friday in the State Legislature before its recess due to opposition from two unlikely sources, the 2 largest unions in California, the Service Employees International Union and the California Teachers Association who have used their political clout to twisted the arms of Democratic legislators not to voting for it.  Democratic legislators have historically receive strong campaign support from unions.  This bill (see post Confusing Political Ads – time for “California DISCLOSE Act” SB 52) attempts to make political campaigns more transparent by making political ads clearly display the real names of the 3 largest contributes for political ads.  This bill has been strongly opposed by big business and political organization but apparently it is also being opposed by unions who represent ordinary voters who have great difficulty determining who is supporting political ads and candidates during elections.  This is a big setback for the bill but supporters of the bill are optimistic about passing it next year after working with unions.  So transparency during elections must wait another year.  It appears that deceiving voters with deceptive advertising during elections is the status quo unless someone can make unions see the error of their ways.  In 2012 the Koch Brothers spent more than 2 time as much money on political ads as the 10 top unions put together.  It is in the best interests of all unions in the long run to support transparency in election.  They should not perpetuate the values of big business or big political organizations and PACs.  Otherwise there is little difference between them and big business.  This is outrageous and disappointing!  I’ll now have to think twice before voting for anything put forth by unions who seem to back deceptive political ads.  Here is a list of editorial articles about the Disclosure Act.

August 8, 2014 at 3:00 PM
Violence in the Gaza Strip
Here is my take on this situation.  First of off I am making the assumption that the people in charge of Hamas are religious zealots who are extremely intelligent and calculating in their actions.  The western world too often underestimates the intelligence of Arabs but it was the Arabs who over a thousand of years ago were among the most advanced in mathematics, science, philosophy, and religion.  These are extremely smart and often brilliant people.  That being said Hamas believes that all Palestinians are soldiers as part of the holy war against Israel.  They believe that the land occupied by Israel rightfully belongs to them.  But they have a problem.  Not all Palestinians are zealots as they are.  As a matter of fact the majority of Palestinians only want peace and to be allowed to live in relative safety, raise their families, and earn a living.  Hamas needs to recruit more Palestinians into their party and belief that Israel must be destroyed or expelled from their land.  So they were looking for an opportunity to provoke Israel into killing Palestinian non-combatants.  When the opportunity presented itself they started firing rockets into Israel knowing that Israel would retaliate in spades which they did.  Hamas was not interested in killing Israelis as much as they were intent on Israelis killing Palestinians which they did to the tune of 2000, mostly civilians.  Nothing will make a Palestinian more angry against Israel than family members being killed by Israelis and their homes destroyed by shelling, bombings and military actions leaving them familyless, homeless, jobless, and hopeless.  Hamas expects a flood of Palestinian recruits willing to kill Israelis as suicide bombers and fighters including women who have lost all their children to Israeli weapons.  The reason Hamas has not been very receptive to cease fires is because it does not result in Israelis killing more Palestinians.  Since for Hamas this is a holy war and all Palestinians are soldiers against Israel, they expect all Palestinians including women and children to sacrifice their lives in the cause of this holy war.

July 26, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Brief Cease Fire by Israel if Hamas ceases Firing Rockets
A 24 hour cease fire seems a possibility to allow humanitarian aid to civilian Palestinian casualties if Hamas ceases firing rockets.  Sec. John Kerry earlier failed to broker a cease fire because the U.S. has zero credibility with Arabs due to our strong support of Israel to the tune of more than $3.5 billion of mostly military aid in 2013.  Talking about making a huge mountain out of a molehill.  This all started when Israelis found four murdered children blamed upon Palestinians.  Soon after the Palestinians found several murdered children they blamed as retaliation by the Israeli.  Things escalated from there to now when over a thousand have been killed mostly Palestinian civilians.  It is hard to determine who is most at fault.  But by far most of the casualties are of Palestinian civilians resulting from Israeli troops searching for tunnels hiding rocket launchers which have been launching rockets into Israel.  Israeli troops seem a bit heavy handed.  But there lies the problem, the problem of blame.  As long as blame is the name of the game, lasting peace is not possible.  Forgiveness and all parties asking if all the needless deaths of so many innocent civilians is worth all the revenge and hate being expressed by the fighting. Isn’t peace and life far greater than war and death?  We need to stop blaming one another and think on a higher level.  What could be worst and more hopeless and final than death?  Both sides are going to have to trust each other.  Think of all the kids who were killed that could have been still living and playing today if there were peace instead of war.  We adults are so full of ourselves that we have no priority to think about the children killed and to be killed who have hardly had a chance to live a full life.  Speaking of maturity who is really acting responsibly grownup?

July 17, 2014 at 12:30 PM
2 suspects, 1 hostage dead in bank robbery, shootout with Stockton police
There was a shootout between police and bank robbers using AK47s.  Hundreds of shot were exchanged between police officers and 3 bank robbers who took 3 hostages from the bank being robbed while racing through town.  Two bank robbers were eventually killed as well as one hostage.  It is not yet known whether the hostage was killed by the robbers or accidentally by police.  Though 3 people were killed many more could have been killed by the hundreds of bullets flying randomly around during the high speed chase and shootout. This is just another incident where weapons and ammunition capable of firing large number of bullets are so easy to get hold of.  We are the only nation in the world where it is a constitutional right to own guns responsible for so much gun violence.  Over 11,000 gun related deaths and many more injuries occur every year in the U.S.  This is more than 30 human beings killed by guns every day in the U.S.  This is only exceeded by auto fatalities.

June 26, 2014 at 9:15 PM
More People Die from Obesity than from Malnutrition
It’s unbelievable but far more people die from obesity than starvation worldwide.  Eating of processed high carbo/sugar foods and lack of motion (sitting to much; moving too little) is more of a global problem than inadequate food and poor living conditions.  It’s amazing that poverty kills fewer people than affluence.  The effects of junk foods loaded with carbohydrates and sugar and corn syrup is eating slow acting poisons.  Such foods are slowly killing us by causing all kinds of life shortening and threatening conditions such as diabetes and coronary diseases.  Current jobs are far less physical than a century ago causing carbohydrates and sugars to be stored as fat and creating more cholesterol in the bloodstream instead of burning it by physical activity.  As we eat more sweet and fatty snacks we become desensitized to it and demand even more of these slow acting poisons.  Food manufacturers cater to our cravings of such toxic substances that we would not feed to our pets.  Our bodies are still very much like our cavemen ancestors who ate few carbohydrates and sugars and had to hunt and otherwise live a physical existence.  Our bodies are not designed for modern day processed food consumptions resulting in a large variety of diseases.

June 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM
Latest Climate Change Report Paints Dire Picture For Business
A study called “Risky Business” by a bipartisan group of prominent former businessmen and public officials: entrepreneur and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; retired hedge fund manager Thomas Steyer; and Henry Paulson, a former Wall Street titan and Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush suggests that the cost of not addressing Climate Change if far greater than the cost of addressing it.  Addressing it will stimulate business opportunities in new technologies which address greenhouse gases emissions.  However ignoring it will result in increased global warming and disastrous weather and climate events which could be extremely costly to both individuals and the economy.  I have addressed this issue in the post Is the Cost of Carbon Reduction Too High? – 06/07/2014.  More and more conservatives and economists are starting to add their names to America’s lax attitude towards this serious threat.  But we cannot wait until all the climate deniers are convinced.  Global warming is simply increasing at too rapid a pace.  Waiting too long could cause us to pass the point of no return for run away climate that even totally stopping all greenhouse emissions cannot slow down (see post Global Warming Getting a Power Boost from Methane Gas).

June 17, 2014 at 10:30 PM
Islamic militants advance across Iraq with their sights on the city of Baquba
ISIS militants battle Iraqi government forces as they advance towards Baquba upsetting US peace keeping efforts in Iraq after more than a decade of occupation.  This only shows that without US presence that region of the world cannot sustain long term peace and stability.  Does this mean that the US must return troops to Iraq to maintain peace?  This only illustrates our failure to force long term peace in countries without permanent occupation. The US will likely encounter the same problems with Afghanistan.  So will we continue to try to enforce peace at the cost of more troops and money or get out and let these regions resolve their own conflicts?  Is it worth the life of one more American troop to bring hopeless peace?

June 10, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Shooter kills one, then dies at Oregon high school
Another school shooting with one student killed and the shooter dead.  How is it possible that in our civilized country there is so much savagery, violence, and killing?  Many victims such as in this case are children.  Not only can we not control the use of guns but we cannot solve the cause for all these shootings.  Both mental health and gun control are very low priorities in this country.  We are too busy supporting troops in Afghanistan and fighting foreign terrorists.  Yet we have many domestic terrorist killing women and children almost daily.

June 8, 2014 at 8:30 PM
Shooting At Las Vegas Restaurant, Walmart Leaves 3 Dead
Another multiple shooting and suicide this time in Las Vegas and all we can do about this as a nation is report the shootings and killings.   Where is our responsibility to stem the flow of blood on our own land?  Is this the way civilized nations should behave?  What is more important, the right to bear arms or the right to life?  We remark about how uncivilized the Taliban terrorist are in terrorizing our citizens but we have many terrorist in our own midst who are part of our American culture killing innocent citizens and all we can do is complain.  We are terrorized by them.  Anyone brandishing a gun in my face or firing at people arbitrarily is a terrorist as far as I’m concerned.  So what does this say about our society.  Are we really that much better than foreign terrorist trying to kill us?  We cannot even regulate the use of firearms in this nation.  The wild-wild west is returning but the gunslingers now shoot hundreds of rounds per minute without warning.  And all NRA advocates can say is arm everyone with even more guns so everyone can shoot back.  But all that will happen is that the bad guys will get even more powerful weapons to overwhelm everyone trying to shoot back at them and we’ll end up with even more bloodshed.  When will it ever end?  It’s so frustratingly insane!

June 7, 2014 at 11:35 PM
Mass Shootings Continue as No Action is Taken towards Tighter Gun Control
One more mass shooting in Seattle that could have turned out much worst had a brave student not subdued the killer with mace.  Human game continue to be hunted and killed daily as if human life was no more important than that of wild game.  And nothing is being done to control firearms and keep it out of the hands of the mentally ill and other potential killers of human game.  For the NRA human life is cheap.  For them the right to bear arms is more important than the right to bear life, civilization gone amok.  When will America come to its senses?

June 7, 2014 at 9:15 PM
Primary Elections, a Dismal Turnout
This year’s June 3rd Primary elections had one of the lowest turnouts in recent California history.  A Democratic Republic needs a majority of voters to elect Congressional leaders as will as statewide and local positions in order to be representative of their constituents.  Yet there was less than a 25% turnout of registered voters and only about 70% of eligible citizens are registered to vote which is also a sad state of affairs.  Other state report similar dismal voter turnouts.  What does that say about our state and nation when less than 20% of eligible US citizens voted?  It is no wonder that we have a dysfunctional government.  We like to complain about our government yet we fail to participate in the election process to vote for those who are running our government into the ground.  Election in Iraq and Afghanistan have higher turnouts than here in this nation which prides itself as the symbol of Democracy.  I guess that is all we are, a symbol with no substance.  We should be ashamed of ourselves for not caring enough about our nation to vote for people who will run this state and nation.  Are we becoming an apathetic society?  If so we have no right to complain about the received incompetence of our government and Congressional leaders.  Voting is a right which we fail to exercise.  There are nations with no voting rights.  We act like these nations.  Our representative are elected by less than 20% of our eligible population.  That is pathetic!

June 3, 2014 at 7:45 PM
President Obama Reducing Carbon Pollution in Power Plants
This Monday June 2nd President Obama announced his proposed to cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants 30 percent by 2030.  This is being strongly opposed by the power industry and other conservatives as being job killers and raise the cost of energy.  In fact the people complaining about it most don’t even care about labor and the cost of energy is already increasing every year.  So this is all a ruse to deceive the public that jobs will be lost when there is no evidence of this.  Actually a 30% reduction in carbon emissions in 16 years is too little too late.  It needs to be reduces by 50% or more by 2025 to have any substantial effect to climate change.  I know the President is trying not to stir up too much controversy but no matter what he does he will run into road blocks so why not go all the way.  We need to bring our carbon emissions down substantially.  See my articles on Global Warming.  But I will give credit to the President for raising this issue to a higher level.  It needs to be at the top of the Presidents agenda.  This is global catastrophe in the making that will cost of billions or trillions each year to recover from worldwide including here.  You can see record storms, freeze-overs, and droughts hitting communities and large areas throughout this nation.  It’s getting progressively worst each year and reported daily in the news.  This cannot be taken lightly.

April 15, 2014 at 3:30 PM
Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens
The following is an Abstract of a paper written by researchers from Princeton and North Western Universities that used date that concludes that the “…business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.
Entire Abstract:
Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics – which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, and two types of interest group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluraism and Biased Pluralism – offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.
A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.
[Related articles I have written: The Economic Power of the Middle Class, Prosperity is with the Masses, Free Expression by Personal Wealth, Money – the Means to the End, Not the End]

April 4, 2014 at 9:45 PM
Excellent YouTube Video Clearly Explaining the Implications of the Supreme Court ruling on McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission

April 2, 2014 at 2:30 PM
Supreme Court today ruled to increase political contributions by 30 Times
In at 5:4 decision today the conservative dominated Supreme Court ruled in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, that a single donor can give up to $3.5 million dollars in one election cycle — money that political parties and other political organizations and super PACs can funnel into individual candidate campaigns and ballot initiatives.  Previously an individual could giving only up to $123,200 to political candidates and committees during any election cycle.  This is a 30 fold increase of what an individual can contribute in any election cycle.  The purpose of contribution limits is to prevent the corrupting power of money from overtaking the democratic process.  But this ruling gross lifts campaign contributions by 30 fold essentially remove any realistic limit for 99% of the population defeating the purpose of campaign limits.  This is just one more nail in the coffin of democracy after the Citizens United Court decision to make it exclusively representative of the interest of the very rich who are capable of huge campaign contributions.  This will greatly increase the amount of money going in to political campaigns which is already insane.  Campaign expenses will now be beyond insane.  Everything seems to be increasing so much that new words need to be invented to describe the magnitude of things.  There are many values that both rich Republicans and Democrats share in common than do those in the middle class so its less about political parties than about differences in affluence and wealth.
What word represents beyond insane?  What do we call Super something such as Super PACs  or Super Storms which are far larger than previous Supers?
Read: – United Nations Foundation
Also Read: McCutcheon: Another Blow to Democracy – New York Times blog article for more on this issue.

March 31, 2014 at 11:30 PM
United Nations says Global Warming Much More Urgent
Leading science experts just issued a new United Nations report highlighting the impacts of climate change in every country around the world.  As the Associated Press reported: “The big risks and overall effects of global warming are far more immediate and local than scientists once thought. It’s not just about melting ice, threatened animals and plants. It’s about the human problems of hunger, disease, drought, flooding, refugees and war, becoming worse.”  Climate change affects us all. Our communities, our economies, and the air, land, and water we rely on are all vulnerable to its effects.  Unless we act, the risks from climate change will continue to grow rolling back many of the gains we’ve made against poverty, hunger, and disease. We can’t let that happen.  The good news: We have the solutions to tackle the climate threat, which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “the greatest collective challenge facing humankind today.”  We can transition to a clean energy future if citizens, communities, corporations, and world leaders decide to act.  Learn more at climasphere.org.  Also see: “Climate change report shows alarming trends” article and video from ABC 7 News on March 31, 2014.

March 20, 2014 at 6:20 PM
US and Russian sanctions continue to play Russian Roulette with Sanctions
President Obama continues to play a dangerous game of escalating personal sanctions on Russian officials as Russian President Putin mimics sanctions against American officials.  President Obama is targeting specific Russian businessman and political leaders with sanctions to avoid adversely affecting the general Russian population but this will have the effect of personally angering President Putin.  Nothing good can come from getting Russia’s president angry.  This new cold war can escalate further and further as it become increasingly difficult for either side to back down.  This is turning into a dangerous game of egos and personalities.  It is not necessary for the U.S. to be so directly involved in the events in the Ukraine and the Crimea region.  Let the E.U. and other international organizations such as NATO take the lead.  Russia is the source of much oil for Europe.  If Obama gets Putin too angry then he might stop the export of oil.  This is a very dangerous game of Russian roulette that President Obama is playing.  The phrase “Russian roulette” wasn’t coined because the U.S. was good or practices at playing it.  The Russian people and nation are used to hardships and survival.  Their Mafia is among the most ruthless in the world and Putin has more power than Obama.  Russia believes that the Ukraine is their business, not that of the U.S. and that we are meddling in their affairs.  The Ukraine has been under Russian rule for centuries in the past.  It is unlikely that they will back down from this issue.  Does the U.S. have the same resolve?  If not we had better get out of this now before it gets further out of hand and we must keep on escalating our efforts until war is declared or worst.  We should play a supportive role together with the E.U. instead of taking unilateral action to impose sanctions upon Russians.

March 17, 2014 at 5:00 PM
California lawmakers look to change college admission rules
Proposition 209 was passed in 1996 that stopped allowing under represented groups, especially Blacks, from being given preferential treatment by imposing quotas for people of different races.  This gave Blacks an advantage to enter our great University of California colleges such as UC Berkley and UCLA.  There is currently a move to somewhat reverse reverse Proposition 209 with SCA5 which has passed the State Senate and is presently in the Assembly for vote.  The most vocal against this amendment is the Chinese community which says that entrance into our public University of California (UC) systems should be based upon academic performance and not on racial basis.  Currently the Chinese population represents about 5% of California’s population yet they represent about 20% of UC Berkley’s and UCLA’s undergraduate student population and close to 50% of their graduate school students.  In general it would seem that entrances into universities should be academically based.  The problem is that everyone is paying taxes to support these universities.  It seem that the student body should somewhat represent more the general population.  Chinese students represent a disproportionate number of the student body.  Granted they got there based upon their much higher than average academic achievements and probably would do very well in such a university.  But since pubic tax dollars are going into paying for students who represent only 5% of the general population in itself seems to be unfair.  There are also good students of other ethnicity which could also benefit from such high quality education even though there academic grades and test scores were slightly lower.  But due to the high competitiveness of these public universities they cannot get into especially the top ranked universities.  Also great Chinese students have more option to go to other schools especially if their parents can afford it or getting scholarship.  Those good students with somewhat less distinguished academic records have fewer options.  So there is good reason for making the student bodies more (not necessarily equally) representative of the population.  I know I may get the Chinese community mad at me for these remarks but I believe in fairness over benefits to a single race of which I happen to be a member and am not afraid to speak my mind.

March 14, 2014 at 12:00 PM
President Obama’s Interview with WebMD Readers
The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, nothing is.  It may not be as affordable to everyone as their old insurance.  But it does come with some significant changes in the way insurance deals with business such as not refusing insurance due to per-existing conditions or having medical limits for medical care, and it is more affordable for many if not most.  Here is the President answering some questions from WebMD readers.  People who are still uninsured have until March 31 to enroll without penalties.  The government will subsidies premiums for those who qualify.

March 10, 2014 at 11:30 PM
28 Senators Plan to stay up all night in Senate to Talk about Climate Change

The Climate Action Task Force formed in January has organized an all night talkathon for tonight consisting of 26 Democrats and 2 independent Senators who will speak on the importance of Climate Change in the Senate.  This talkathon is not part of the normal Senate session but an after business talkathon in an attempt to publicize Climate Change in order to gather support on this vitally important issue.  The goal according to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and member of the Task Force was “to break the pattern of the Senate and show the interest of at least 20 senators who will be participating through the night.”   Whitehouse spokesman Seth Larson said the talkathon was “just one of a number of steps that the Senate Climate Action Task Force will be taking this year, and we hope it will help get more Americans engaged in the important debate about how we can act on climate change.”

March 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM
President Obama’s Response to Russia over Ukraine
The reason ousted Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko favored joining with Russia rather than the European Union is because Russian President Putin had agreed to a large loan to Ukraine as will as to sell them oil at a heavily discounted rate.  However the people of Ukraine hate and distrust Russia and would rather put up with higher oil prices and partner with the European Union than become a satellite state of Russia.
I feel that it is a big mistake for President Obama to further antagonize Russia over this issue.  This should be between Russia and the Ukraine and it should be primarily the European Union if anyone that takes action against Russia or the U.N. to resolve the issue.  The U.S. has little to gain by taking sides against Russia.  We need the good will of the Russian government for other strategic matters.  By placing sanctions on Russia for its military incursions into the Ukraine it will further strain already poor relationships between U.S. and Russia.  This is just one more example of the U.S. meddling in the affairs of other nations when it really isn’t our place or business.  What if President Putin doesn’t budge?  Are we going to next send troops there to further stand our ground?  Are we looking for another war to fight?  Russia is the second most powerful nation in the world.  Are we planning to tangle with another nation close to our equal in military might over this issue?  Is it worth it just to make a point that everyone should march to the same beat of our drum?
President Obama, are we itching for another fight like the bully government we continue to be?  Let us work on domestic problems rather than somewhere else in the world.  After all we do have our fair share of domestic issues that need further funding and attention like jobs and the economy, education, poverty, crime, healthcare, and the environment to name just a few.  Or are these not important enough or are they lacking in adequate challenge to keep you focus and interest?

February 28, 2014 at 12:00 AM
One year anniversary for this blog
It has been one year now since I started this blog on February 28, 2013.  In that time I have posted 113 articles on a large range of Social Conscience topic of interest and concern for me.  I see much to be desired in society and the community of nations, especially the United States of which I love and deeply care about.  I am very critical of my government because I care about what I feel it should stand for, fairness and equal actual rights for all.  I also care about this earth and our roles and responsibilities for it as transient inhabitants.  So there are no shortages of articles to write about as there are no shortages of issues that need to be addressed.  I have also talked about my life and both hardships and blessing I have experienced.  It’s all there and there is plenty more to come.  That is not to say that there is also a lot of good happening in the world.  But this blog is about ouR SOCIAL CONSCIENCE which concerns the inequities I see in the world.  So my topics tend to focus upon these darker issues rather than the thing that are going right.  I look forward to writing many more articles on ouR SOCIAL CONSCIENCE and social justice in the coming year.  Thank you for your interest and for visiting this site.

February 23, 2014 at 6:00 PM
President to Raise the Minimum Wage
Last week the President announced the raising of the minimum wage for government workers and contractors to $10.10 per hour and suggested that the private sector also raise the minimum wage.  What I think the country need is a maximum wage cap.  I propose a maximum cap wage of $2,000,000 plus a cap on bonuses of $4,000,000 for private sector jobs.  This will mean that companies will have more money to raise the minimum and average wages of private sector jobs.  I feel it absurd that the toughest executive job in the world is being the President of the United States and he only get a salary of $500,000 per year, the salary of a middle to upper manager job at a typical corporation and only one quarter of the maximum wage cap I propose.  I think it’s insane for executives and sport personnel to receive tens of millions of dollars or more of salaries and bonuses per year.  Let us move to have a salary cap.  That makes a lot more sense to me.  The disparity of salaries between the lowest and highest salaries is simply too high and will lead to the eventual downfall of the middle class resulting in a two class country, the insanely rich and the desperately poor.  Was this the vision of the founding fathers of this great nation?  When did you last get a raise?

February 13, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Congress approves the unconditional raising of the Debt Ceiling
I am gratified that Congress has finally done something together in raising the Debt Ceiling for the next year.  It would have been raised eventually and could have been raised before the government shut down standoff late last year but at least we have gotten this behind us for the upcoming year and can go on with other business.  I congratulate House Speaker John Boehner from breaking ranks with Tea Party members in sanctioning this decision regardless of what his reasons may be.  I’m sure that upcoming elections have something to do with this since the government shutdown of 2013 was largely blamed on him and many of his fellow Republicans.  It is unfortunate that he did not do this before the government shutdown which brought much criticism and blame to him and his party.  Republicans realize that it is even more important that they maintain their majority standing in the House in the upcoming mid-term elections. Unfortunately everything in Washington is more about politics and party than it is about the people.  This goes for both parties.  Politics is no longer about compromise but all about winning and partisan power.  People no longer count other than at election time.

February 07, 2014 at 8:00 PM
Congressional Budget Office reports reduction of jobs due to Obamacare
A Congressional Budget Office report showing that Obamacare will result in the labor force lose 2.3 million full-time workers by 2021 is not being accurately portrayed by Republican leaders.  The report indicated that 2.3 million people will voluntarily‎ quite the market place by 2021 before age 65 because they will be covered by Affordable Care Act insurance rather than having to work longer in order to be covered by employer provided insurance until they qualify for Medicare at age 65 had there been no Obamacare. This means that as people retire earlier than age 65 they will open job opportunities for people who were unemployed.  Republican leaders said that the report indicated that 2.3 more people would loose their jobs which is just the opposite of what was actually said by the report. Either they have trouble reading the report or are outright lying. Having 2.3 million more jobs available to the unemployed will lower the unemployment rate and benefit everyone except apparently Republican Congressional leaders.

February 06, 2014 at 6:00 PM
House Speaker John Boehner delays Immigration Reform vote
Speaker John Boehner continues to prevent legislation from being voted on in the House. The Speaker of the House has the power to set agendas and determine which legislation can be voted on, so he wheels considerable power in Congress.  He can prevent legislation from being voted on for any reason even if the vast majority of congressional members want to vote on it.  This is why Congress can be extremely partisan.  If he personally opposes a piece of legislation he can simply prevent it from coming up for a vote.  That is why immigration reform legislation has not passed the House.  Boehner refuses to bring it up for a vote because conservative Tea Party members are against it.  So even if the majority of the House is in favor of it, it will not come up for vote.  Thus one person who was not elected in a general election has so much congressional power.  As far as I can determine the Speaker’s power to stop legislation from coming up for a vote is not in the Constitution but a procedural power.  However the President’s veto power is part of the Constitution.  The President is also voted for by all the people unlike the Speaker of the House who is appointed by the majority party.  The Speaker does not have to be a member of the majority party or even a member of the House according to the Constitution.  But this has historically been the tradition.

December 31, 2013 at 11:00 AM
End of Year and still little legislative movement from Congress
Today is the last day of year 2013.  Much has happened in the U.S. government but much more has not happened.  Our bipartisan congress continues to be paralyzed by uncompromising and polarized ideologies.  The extreme conservative movement in the Republican party is a major part of the problem.  They have zero tolerance for any views other than their conservative agendas.  Moderates in their party are afraid to take the lead for fear of political repercussions from their conservative Tea Party members.  The Tea Party on the other hand are fearless and simply charge ahead with no considerations of consequences or other party interests.  They have been very effective in preventing congress from acting on any issue of no interests to them.  They have been successful at forcing the speaker of the house to shut down the government.  I must admit that they have been very effective at broadcasting their agenda to the public by these disruptive activities.  This reminds me a little of McCarthyism and the extreme right wing dominated congress of the 1950s.  Hopefully 2014 will bring forth more sanity and functionality to our government.  The moderates must take back control of congress.  The good news is that we have almost totally recovered from the 2007-2008 economic crash so something has been done correctly.  Perhaps President Obama had something to do with that though the Tea Party says otherwise.  But it can’t be denied that businesses are generally flourishing better than ever and unemployment, though still a little higher than desired is far lower than it was 5 years ago when President Obama first became President.  But troop are still being killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.  We need to take our troops out of unnecessary harms way ASAP and restrain ourselves in protecting the interest of other nations.  There is so much we need to do in and for our own country.  So here’s wishing all a Happy 2014 New Year with hopes that this nation will be be able to focus upon making the U.S. a better and economically stronger nation that represents the majority of all its citizens as my last message for 2013.

December 29, 2013 at 9:00 AM
Malala Yousafzai my hero
 
I cast my vote for 16 year old Malala Yousafzai as, by far, the most outstanding person of 2013.  Her public determination and courage to demand the rights of every child, especially girls in undeserved parts of the world, to an education bring goosebumps to my skin.  Her bravery after an almost fatal assassination attempt on her life and continued threats of death from the Taliban, so much a threat she poses to their religious fundamentalism, leaves a lump in my throat.  I admire her parents who instilled such values and strong convictions in her young mind and allowed her to become a symbol of hope to the world in light of the danger it poses to her life.  It is people like her that will bring about changes within their nation in human rights, not troops from the U.S. government or interests from Western countries to try to force changes in other nations.  Human rights change must come from within to be most effective, impacting, and lasting.  Each nation needs to realize its own heroes.  No one including the Taliban can deny that Malala is brave.  She is a Pakistani hero.  She symbolizes all undeserved youth, innocence, and courage in a largely unjust and violent adult dominated world.  Her youthfulness, love, and maturity puts us grownups to shame as only a child can.  May she inspire many more like heroes in other nations throughout 2014 and beyond.

December 18, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Pope Frances not judging gays
After seeing Pope Frances giving out holiday blessings on TV this morning I am hopeful that the Roman Catholic Church will be a church that is much more inclusive than before (Christianity of Exclusions).  The Pope’s earlier statement that he is not one to judge gays who seek our God is a major departure from previous Popes and shows a person who has humility and compassion as did Christs during his minister according to the Gospels.  The problem with too many Christians is that they lack humility and are quick to judge.  But those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.  Judge not, lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1).  I hope this new Pope will reveal to the world a religion of Inclusiveness.  I hope he will teach the Gospel of love and compassion for All.  True love comes from the heart and does not discriminate against social outcasts or sinners but expresses humility and compassion for All.  Love does not judge the goodness or badness of others.  It wants others to experience the same love that the loving enjoys.  Love is caring for the welfare of those who need it most, of forgiving those who have done one harm or injustice, of humbling oneself among those considered beneath you, and of not casting judgement over others.  It is the universal equalizer, but unlike a gun it wants to build instead of destroy and its power come from the heart instead of a bullet.  I hope this new Pope represents the humility of the true fisherman who does not judge the sins of others. – Words from a true agnostic.

December 14, 2013 at 10:30 AM
Another school shooting in Colorado
There has been a fourth shooting at a Colorado school in the last 14 years yesterday all within a few miles of one another.  When will we realize that the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is flawed and that the wisdom of our founding fathers did not include the right to bear arms for any reason (The Right to Bear Arms – Did Founding Fathers Intend it for All?)?  It is insane that we don’t have a right to drive a car (it’s a privilege) but we do have a right to own and fire a gun.  What is so important about having the Right to own a gun but not a right to own a car which is far more essential to our daily lives?  Of all the rights we have the gun is the only object we have a right to own whose primary purpose and use is to do fatal harm to others.  It simply does not have the same ring of a Right as all the other Rights stated in the Bill of Rights.  Guns are meant primarily to kill people and they do it efficiently and indiscriminately.  More people are killed by guns in American than just about all the developed nations and many developing nations added together annually.  I believe that the wisdom demonstrated by the authors of the Bill of Rights shows that they were too wise to leave gun ownership as a right to every person for no specific purpose.  No other nation has such a constitutional right for very good reason and we in this country just reinforce the rational for such an omission by our extremely high rates of homicides.  Arms and bullets are nothing but harbingers of death.  Far more innocent have been killed by guns than criminals.  Only a barbaric society would allow people the Right of gun ownership and use for unspecified reasons.  It’s time we have more civilized laws that discourage the killing of citizens instead of giving gun owners freer reign of what they can do with their weapons of enormous and devastating destruction.

December 11, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Bipartisan Decision to end Government Shutdown
It is gratifying to hear that Congress still has some cool heads among both Republicans and Democrats and that there are issues about the budget that can be agreed upon between the two parties.  Why this did not happen before the government shutdown lies squarely in the lap of Speaker of the House John Boehner who controls the House agenda and refused to continue the business of Congress unless Obamacare was defunded.  John Boehner is supposed to be the Speaker of the entire House not just the conservative wing of the Republican side of the House.  He is supposed to set the agenda for the whole House, not just his personal single agenda item.  I consider such tactics irresponsible for the lead position of the entire House.  He is supposed to show leadership in making the House function smoothly and efficiency, not prohibit the House from functioning at all unless he gets his way.  Speaker Boehner has accused President Obama in the past of a lack of leadership but he has done one up on President Obama by conspicuously showing absolutely no leadership as Speaker of the House Of Representatives when shutting down all discussions and House business and coming very close to bringing the entire country to the brink of foreclosure and the world to the brink of financial collapse yet getting absolutely nowhere.  Good thing he wasn’t President of the United States or he would have shut down the entire White House to get his way.  I don’t care what party the Speaker is from but to simply shut down the business of Congress for such a partisan issue seem extremely childish teetering on the edge of being like a dictator.  This is simply the most extreme example of why our government is so dysfunctional.  Boehner makes Obama look outstandingly good in stark contrast.  Earlier I had little opinion about him as House leader but most certainly I now have lost all respect for him as any kind of a leader.  He seems too reckless and dangerous.

December 9, 2013 at 8:45 PM
Mandela’s death overshadows Pearl Harbor Memorial
Two days ago was December 7th the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan and the beginning of World War II for the United States.  But Nelson Mandela’s death overshadowed the commemoration of one of the most significant events in American history.  Its historic significant far overshadows any American event since including 9/11.

December 7, 2013 at 1:00 PM
Nelson Mandela passes away
The passing of Nelson Mandela earlier this week was not a surprise to most.  He had been seriously ill for over a month.  But in life he was a giant of human rights and equality not only for South Africa, but for all nations.  There are only a small handful of such people since Abraham Lincoln emancipated black slaves in the United States.  Most have been assassinated because the world has difficulty dealing with righteous people.  In Nelson Mandela’s case he was symbolically assassinated by being imprisoned as a political dissident for 27 years before he bloomed into someone far bigger than life.  It is difficult to determent if he would have been the same man had he not been imprisoned since he was a dissident of violence before prison.  But I think his prison experience had much to do with teaching him the virtue of humility.  He got a chance to know his prison guards and learn about the character of his oppressors.  He concluded that they were basically not much different than himself.  He learned to speak and write their language and culture and to accept them as human beings who sought dignity just as he.  So when apartheid ended in South Africa Nelson Mandela was the perfect man to bring the two cultures together in a harmonious and functional new government.  He had that rare gift of seeing people not as blacks and whites but as human beings with similar needs to live in peace, security and harmony.  Nothing is perfect and racial prejudice still exist in South Africa as it does in the United States but now the laws of the land treat them equally and blacks finally have rights and can run for office.  It is far better now than under apartheid.  Nelson Mandela will be long remembered along with other greats of peace and equality such as Martin Luther King Jr. and the model of them all Mahatma Gandhi. This is a better world because of him.  He will be missed for now but remembered forever.

December 2, 2013 at 7:30 PM
ACLU files anti-abortion lawsuit against Catholic Church
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced on Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, arguing that their anti-abortion directives to Catholic hospitals hamper proper care of pregnant women in medical distress, leading to medical negligence.” – by Erik Eckholm Published: December 2, 2013.
I attended a Catholic high school in the late 1960’s and was taught in a Ethics class that given the choice of sacrificing of a pregnant mother’s life vs. that of a fetus the fetus’ life should always be saved.  This was based upon a fetus being a human being (gift from God) and being innocent and sinless so it was valued more by God.  I didn’t accept that argument then nor do I accept it now.  U.S. law does not define a fetus as a person.  That is why abortions are not illegal in this country.  However there are laws which prohibit so called late term abortions beyond a certain term typically 16-20 months when a fetus is considered mature enough to survive outside the mother’s womb, but a fetus is still not define by law as a person.  Thus legally and according to the Hippocratic oath, a mother’s life should be saved over that of an unborn fetus.  Thus if religious leaders of a religious hospital instruct that institution to save a fetus life by endangering the life of the pregnant mother they are violating the law.  The mother always has the right to override the law but that means that she must be informed.  It the case of the lawsuit the mother was not informed that after her water had broken she could endanger her life if the baby was not delivered soon.  The hospital sent the mother home without informing her of the risk to her life.  In an earlier case a nun permitted the life of a fetus to be forfeited in order to save the life of the mother.  The nun was ex-communicated for her actions to follow the law in defiance of the Church and spare the mother.  I am not for abortions but I am strongly for a mother’s legal and moral right to choose.  I think abortion should not be be an arbitrary decision.  It is a potential life and I take life seriously but when it comes to saving a living life vs. a potential life the living, breathing, feeling, and aware life should clearly take precedence.  There is no doubt by anyone that the mother is a person.  Whether a fetus is a person or not is a moral and religious issue, not a legal one.  Catholic Bishops have no legal right to tell Catholic hospitals to save a unborn fetus’ life by endangering the life of the mother.  The ACLU has a strong legal case.  Religious and moral issues should have no bearing on this case.  The law is clear.

November 24, 2013 at 9:00 AM
President Obama considering removal of sanctions against Iran
I am delighted to hear of President Obama’s consideration of the conditional removal of sanctions against Iran at their request for 6 months if Iran stops producing weapons grade uranium and allows inspections of their nuclear facilities.  This is an excellent start towards the ultimate peaceful nuclear disarmament of Iran.  Israel is still suspicious and against this move as are House Republicans so it’s not in the bag yet (see US Sanctions, A Failing Foreign Policy).  Forcing poverty upon a nation only creates hostilities and makes them want to prepare for war as a means of distracting their citizens from their poverty.  That is how WWII started, due to a worldwide depression in the 1930’s.  Poverty is its own self-fulfilling prophecy: poverty breads more poverty, unrest, self-destructiveness, violence, and ultimately war.

November 23, 2013 at 10:30 AM
Continued problems with Obamacare website
Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) continues to have problems not only on the website but in the details of its concept.  I believe that in the long-term a few years from now most of the issues will be worked out and it will become Obama’s legacy as President.  It seems that Obama  put too much trust in those in charged with implementing it.  Its poor execution and the numerous issues that arose during implementation indicates a gross lack of planning.  The law was passed more than 3 years earlier so there was plenty of time to plan things out much more in-depth and to test various aspects of the concept, software, and website with insurance companies to better understand the details of how it should work.  For example the President said that people could keep their original insurance policies if they wanted to.  But what he did not understand nor what those in charge of the program failed to inform him about or even understand themselves was that this was true only if their current policy conformed to all the new rules establish for the Affordable Care Act.  In fact few if any insurance policies met all the new requirements, thus the cancellation of old policies.  I feel that the President grossly underestimated the complexity of this program and did not place enough oversight and resources early enough into the program to do a much better job.  The fault of this program’s inequities and failures lies squarely in the President’s lap.  His apologies are far too few and far too late.  This shows a total lack of leadership on his part for such a key program which he is paying dearly for in criticism from Republicans and citizens and in poor ratings.  This will affect him in other way as his popularity wanes.  Damage control is not the way to implement such a complex and untested program.  Personally I am very disappointed.  This has affected my opinion of him.  I really want this program to work for the vast majority of people.  I find his incompetence verging on irresponsible.  I was so hopeful that he would make a good or even great President.

October 28, 2013 at 8:30 PM
Problems implementing Obamacare
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has not only encountered problems with the enrollment website but is less affordable than some people were led to believe.  Most of the serious bugs in the software are scheduled to be fixed by November 30.  It does seem rather shortsighted that the website was not tested and debugged much earlier.  It appears that those managing the project underestimated the amount of time needed for testing and debugging.  As for the cost, this is dependent upon statistics of how many enroll in any given plan.  I suspect as time goes on and there are better statistics of cost and the number of people signed up the pricing will lower.  Insurance companies are being conservative at this stage.  It may take a few years until the Affordable Care Act is optimized as is the case for any major new implementation as broad as this.  This health care overhaul is far more involved than simply enrolling uninsured people and the website.  Major changes are being also made to upgrade medical records into digital format and to make this information accessible for research purposes and streamlining medical treatment.  People with per-existing medical conditions cannot be denied health insurance and lifetime cap on the amount people can be insured for have been eliminated.  There are many other things that are part of this overhaul.  My feeling is that taken as a whole this is a huge step forward in making health care more efficient and more uniform and standardized.   Costs will decrease due to greater enrollment and standardized pricing. Doctors are probably seeing the difference far more than patients.  Medical records are now becoming available online.  Security is an issue but it has been so for the financial, military, scientific, and industrial world for decades so why not the medical world.  Change is always painful in the beginning but as the Affordable Care Act matures people will get used to it and forget the earlier start-up pains.

October 23, 2013 at 6:30 PM
House Speaker John Boehner threatens not to pass budget unless Obamacare is defunded
It seems that Congress is doing the very opposite of what it was intended to do when devised by the authors of the Constitution.  Congress’s primary function should be to make laws and that of the President to enforce laws.  The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law by President Obama in June 25, 2010.  Three years later the House under the leadership of Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner with the backing of the ultra-conservative Tea Party are trying to sabotage it by refusing to place the passage of the budget up for vote unless Obamacare is defunded.  This is the power of the Speaker of the House who sets the agenda for the House and what gets voted on.  American government has managed to use its power in very creative and convoluted ways to manipulate its intended functions.  In principle conservatives are supposed to stick to government as it was originally intended and liberals are more creative in its interpretation.  Today’s ultra-conservatives are using government procedures in very creative and liberal-like ways.  It seems that US government today consists of paradoxical obstructionists.  It’s amazing how constitutionally liberalized contemporary ultra-conservatives are.  This is autocratic democracy at its worst.  How can we say that our form of government is any better than China’s or Afghanistan’s?  I am relieved that at the 11th hour the House finally postponed the government shutdown and debt ceiling issue to next January and February.  At least things can continue as normal until then.

October 19, 2013 at 9:00 AM
Speaker John Boehner responsible for government shutdown
A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll on the shutdown shows 53% of people blaming the shutdown on the Speaker of the House John Boehner and the Republican congress and 31% on President Obama.  So clearly the Boehner/Tea Party strategy didn’t work and Obamacare which was their target of contention remains unscathed.  The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has encountered quite a number of snags in its implementation as all new programs as widely scoped as this one inevitably do.  Had the Republicans done nothing in congress and simply pointed fingers to the many problems it is encountering they would have likely made many more points in their favor instead of shutting down the government and almost defaulting on our debts.  Instead they made the government shutdown the headlines instead of Obamacare thus deflecting criticism away from it.  I hope Speaker Boehner has learned a lesson not to listen to the Tea Party and stay more closer to the center where there is room for maneuvering and compromise without shutting down the government and endangering defaulting our debts.  The position of the Speaker of the House is supposed to represent and preside over the entire House of Representatives, not just an extreme faction of the Republican party.  Speaker Boehner is abusing his position as Speaker by exclusively representing his party and especially an extreme faction of that party.  I hope he will change his leadership position to be much more balanced rather than forcing his personal agenda on the entire House.  Otherwise nothing gets done except self-destructive disasters such as this.

October 16, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Bipartisan Agreement to end the Government Shutdown
As anticipated by many it appears that Congress will approve a temporary reprieve for the government shutdown until January 15th for the shutdown and the February 7th for the debt ceiling by the eleventh hour.  Nothing has really been solved, only delayed and then possibly more shutdowns and debt ceiling crises to come next year.  I hope Speaker Boehner has learned some lesson that will not cause a repeat of this fiasco.  It has been estimated that the shutdown has cost the nation $24 billion, much of it lost by the government which further adds to the debt.  Obamacare, the object of Speaker Boehner’s actions not to allow a vote on the budget, remain unscathed.  Not sure what was gained by this exercise.  There were significant loses for everyone except congress members who continued to receive their salaries.  They all claimed that they made their points though I’m not ever sure what was gained in this zero-sum game.

October 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Government Shutdown in full effect
We are now 2 full weeks into the shutdown and coming precipitously close to the Debt Ceiling deadline this Thursday and still no significant progress to solving this problem from Republican Speaker Boehner or President Obama.  This shutdown is costing us billions of dollars a day and bringing us very close to global economic catastrophe.  We can simply not default on our Debt so it is only a matter of who will give in first, Speaker Boehner and the Republican congress or President Obama and the Democratic congress.  It is simply unthinkable that we default on our Debts.  The global consequences are the partial collapse of the world economy and plunging the world into another depression.  No on wants this.  There are signs that big business is trying to urge Republican leaders not to allow a default to occur.  This would be catastrophic to business.  Our disfunctioning government is proof to our enemies than democracy does not work.  Hard to disagree with them now.  I’m beginning to believe it myself.  How do we fix whatever is flawed in our system to stop history from being repeated every couple of years?  How do we permanently and fundamentally fix what makes our government dysfunctional without gutting the Constitution?

October 12, 2013 at 10:30 AM
Speaker John Boehner considering postponing Debt Ceiling Deadline
It appears that House Republican Speaker John Boehner is proposing a postponement to not raise the Debt Ceiling.  This is a very good sign if there are no strings attached.  However it excludes any provisions for ending the government shutdown though some concessions are now being considered for various aspects of the shutdown which are getting a lot of press such as the closing of National Parks.  Mike Honda (Democrat) has a bill proposal for ending the shutdown but my feeling is that any proposal that has a chance of passing the House has to come from the Republicans since they and Boehner are the ones most responsible for the lack of passing a budget resulting in the shutdown.  It seem outrageous to me that Republican Speaker Boehner should hold hostage the Affordable Care Act, which is already a law, and refuse to put the nation’s budget up for a vote.  I hope this makes Boehner look foolish.  It is Congress’s duty and responsibility to pass a budget on time every year, not use it as a tool to stop a health care program that is already a law.  Congress should be passing laws, not stopping laws that already exist.  If they want to repeal of defund the Affordable Care Act there is a legislative procedure for this.  For Speaker Boehner or anyone not to allow the budget to be put up for vote simply to politically sabotage a single existing law is unconscionable.  It sets up a very bad precedence.  The Speaker needs to get his act together.  The Tea Party is being blamed for what is happening but it is Speaker Boehner who is bowing to their demands that is fully responsible for all that is happening.

October 9, 2013 at 12:45 AM
Congressional Member continue to be Paid during Government Shutdown
Why are congress members being paid when they (Boehner) are preventing the rest of government employees from receiving their salaries during the shutdown.  If Speaker Boehner and his fellow congress members were not paid for doing nothing perhaps they would resolve the shutdown issue faster.  They need to feel the pain of not receiving salaries or there is no incentive for them to resolve the government shutdown or Debt Ceiling.  They need to feel the consequences of missing mortgage payments, credit card payments, utility bills, medical bills, etc. as are other government employees.

October 8, 2013 at 7:30 PM
Day 8 of Government Shutdown
It is day 8 of the shutdown and no signs that Speaker Boehner will put the budget to a vote in the House.  The Debt Ceiling is starting to loom closer and closer.  No one is sure how close Speaker Boehner will push the nation towards possible defaulting on our debts.  The consequences of this may have global impacts of causing a chain reaction of countries running out of money if the US fails to pay what it owes to lending nations.  The US government will truly run out of money and government checks stop going out to retirees, the disable, etc.  I doubt if Boehner will be foolish enough to let all this happen unless the Tea Party puts extreme pressure on him.  The Tea Party seems to be oblivious of the consequences and control Boehner.

October 6, 2013 at 9:00 AM
Day 6 of Government Shutdown
We are at day 6 of the government shutdown.  Political lines are as firm as ever between Speaker Boehner and President Obama.  Both Obamacare and the Debt Ceiling increase are at the center of the controversy.  Why aren’t the salaries of congressional members placed in limbo together with all the other government employees because of not passing a budget?  Perhaps if they had to feel the financial pain of other government employees action can be taken to quickly resolve passage of the budget.

October 5, 2013 at 5:30 PM
Day 5 of Government Shutdown
We are now 5 days into the government shutdown and the Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner remains resolute not to pass a budget unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded.  This Act is already law.  Pressure for this is coming from the extreme right Tea Party.  A few moderate Republicans are now speaking out that a shut down is not in the best interest of this nation.  Conservative Republicans are also planning to prevent the Debt Ceiling from being increased.  This means that we will not even have enough money to pay for out debts or other expenses having major impact upon our economy as well as our ability to borrow in the future.  Layoffs will be inevitable.  There are many moderate Republicans that will not let this happen.  The House just approved retroactive pay for government employees furloughed which is expected to pass the Senate and be signed by the President.  Thus the shutdown is paying for 800,000 employees for not working during the shutdown.  This is starting to become a very expensive shutdown.

October 1, 2013 at 6:30 PM
Day 1 of Government Shutdown
Today is the first day of the government shutdown as well as the first day of Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) enrollment.  Ironically the intent of Republicans to shutting down the federal government is to press for the defunding of Obamacare.  Yet Obamacare enrollment itself was not impacted by the shutdown.  In spite of all the inconveniences suffered by citizens and small business loans, the stock market showed now signs of being affected.  Of course as time goes on the impact of the shutdown will become more apparent.

September 28, 2013 at 8:15 PM
Impending Government Shutdown
There are 3 more days before House Republicans plan to carry out their threat to shut down the government and potentially default on its loans thus downgrading US credit ratings.  They plan to carry out their threat if Obamacare is not defunded.  This is quite an extreme measure simply to kill the first badly needed overhaul of our health care system.  This threatened shutdown could cost far more than had the shutdown not occurred, further increasing government expenses and incurring even more debt.  In addition if we default on our loans and our credit ratings get worst borrowing in the future will be even more expensive.  This is a rather counterproductive shutdown and may result in just the opposite effects that the Republicans are trying to achieve: higher and more expensive debt.

September 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Republicans Vote against Food Stamp Money
On Monday the Republican House voted as a block to cut off $40 billion from the food stamp program in order to pay back the debt.   The problem with this is that the poor will become poorer and that there may be all kinds of unintended consequences (Read Conservatives would like to Cut Subsidy Programs to the Poor) which might cost us more.  They also threatened to shut down the government by not allowing an increase to the debt ceiling if Obamacare is not defunded.  Obamacare will reduce the number of poor having to go to emergency rooms for health care.  Most of the poor will receive greatly discounted and subsidized premiums costing the little to nothing.  Legitimate issues still need to be sorted out for increased cost to small businesses but that portion of the law has been postponed for a year to resolve this problem.  Overall Health Care will initially cost 10-20% less than current insurance premiums.

September 9, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Obama steaks Republican support to bomb Syria
There is finally good news regarding the US threat to bomb Syria for alleged using chemical weapons against civilians and rebels.  Russia seems to be brokering a deal with the Syrian government to place their stockpile of chemical weapons under UN control.  This would be a viable solution to avoid US from sending cruise missiles onto Syrian targets as threatened by the president assuming that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical weapons attacks.  Rebels have been reported to have captured chemical weapons from the Syrian government in the past.

If this deal works out kudos to the Russians.  It is unfortunate that our relations with the Syrian government is so strained that we are unable to gain the confidence of President Assad for a similar deal as suggested by Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this morning.

September 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Obama lacks support for attacking Syria
Obama realizes he cannot get consensus from the nation for his plan to attack Syria so he has put it up to a vote in Congress hoping he can rally some Republican support.  More rebels are reported to have been victims of more recent chemical weapons attacks.  Yet the UN has not voted for actions against the government of Syria and continues to investigate these incidences.

I still feel that the US should not take unilateral actions against the government of Syria.  This should be the decision of the UN.  The concern that if the president reverses his decision to attack Syria then he will loose his credibility in the future when threatening actions should not play into this decision.  It is wrong of the US to always use military threats to resolve conflicts.  It should be the UN’s decision instead.  Thus such credibility is unnecessary.  We should be striving to prevent unilateral involvement in such conflicts and let the community of nations (UN) take care of such things.  That is their function.  It is not right that we force our morality upon foreign conflicts just because we have the strongest armed forces just as it is not right that the moral right should force its morality upon our entire nation.  (Related post: The President’s Power to Declare War).

September 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM
Nelson Mandela discharged from hospital to go home
Nelson Mandela ranks with Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King as great leaders of change using love and compassion.  I am glad he is going home where he most likely feels most comfortable and at home.  In my mind he and the other greats of peaceful change represent the best in man.  Their legacies will last far beyond their lives and are the Gold standards of how to bring about positive change without doing harm to others.  These leaders are all deeply religious leaders who followed the spirit of their religious convictions to bring about peace peacefully.

Why is it so hard for our current leaders to follow their lead?  Why isn’t our president and government able to resolve world conflicts by positively incentivizing nations to resolve conflicts peacefully rather than sending in troops or threatening weapons of great destruction to resolve conflicts?  Why must we be the powerful and brutal bully instead of the gentle and compassionate giant?

I feel the president should form a special committee or team consisting of religious leaders of all faiths, university experts, and others with expertise in conflict resolution or related fields whose task is to find peaceful and compassionate means of resolving world and domestic conflicts we are involved in and make recommendations.

August 30, 2013 at 6:45 PM
President’s decision to attack Syria
I feel it is wrong for the US to attack the Syrian government because they have used chemical weapons against rebels.  I fail to see why bombs and bullets are OK to kill people but chemical weapons aren’t.  It seems to me that the dead don’t care.  Killing by any means is death for the victims no matter how young or old, guilty or innocent.  I cannot understand how killing more with cruise missiles launched from ships hundreds of miles away is any more righteous than killing with chemical weapons.  People will be killed and they will be as permanently dead as if killed with chemical weapons or any other weapon.

Now that the Syrian government knows our intentions it has moved military assets to safe havens so what is there to gain.  Even our closest ally England will not engage with the US in attacking the Syrian government.  All we will manage to do is make even more Arabs angry at us and we will have gained no strategic advantage other than to senselessly take the lives of even more husbands, sons, relatives, and friends of someone in Syria, human beings who have as much right to live as you and I.

Where are the president’s Christian values of love, understanding, charity, and compassion?  Why are we instead perpetuating violence?  What have we learned from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s life that we recently celebrated?  Don’t Syrian solders have a right to have a dream?  The Syrian government has already fled to safety so only defending solders will be killed.  All we seem to do very efficiently but not at all effectively is kill more Arabs with our most advanced technology from hundreds of miles away.  This in itself seems to be of questionable morality.

And what have we ever gained in the long run?  More hate and more enemies and even more killing.  Is this what is meant by doing unto others as you would have them do unto you?

That being said I believe that this should be a multilateral decision of the United Nations to take action or not.  The community of nations must decide if chemical weapons is to be tolerated or not.  This should be a democratic decision among nations, not a unilateral decision by the president and the US.

August 6, 2013 at 3:00 PM
Climate Change: Lines of Evidence
National Research Council

August 6, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Global Warming, What You Need To Know
Tom Brokaw (Discovery Channel documentary).

August 6, 2013 at 2:00 PM – Climate Disruption Cost and Solution
In 2012, the costs of extreme weather in the United States totaled almost 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — equal to roughly half of all the sales taxes states collected. That cost is, in effect, a “climate disruption tax,” equal to a 2.7 percentage point increase in what Americans paid in sales taxes last year.

August 1, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Three wheel electric bike that is like a small car.  Very Green

Rob Cotter started with the most fundamental problem of cycling to work: How could the cyclist arrive at work minus the sweat and the smells? To solve that problem, Cotter created a vehicle that relies on solar power to get you to work in the morning and pedal power for the trip home.

About This Speaker

Cotter is the founder and CEO of Organic Transit, a North Carolina company that says it has designed “the most efficient vehicle on the planet,” the Elf, which gets 1,800 miles per gallon. The Elf is a hybrid that runs on solar electric and pedal power, and it’s suitable for commuting, short-haul deliveries and other local transportation needs.

July 29, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Why Minorities Care More About Climate Change
Today I found this article on the blog ThinkProgress entitled Why Minorities Care More About Climate Change that describes Asians as the fastest growing group in America and noted that they were more conscious of Environmental issues than the general public.  They got much of their information from an article by Asian Americans lean green.  Being an Asian I find this both interesting and gratifying.  I think that part of the reason is that Asians tend to have a higher level of education than the general population and are better informed about the environmental sciences.

July 24, 2013 at 1:00 PM
Dr. James Hanson on Nuclear Power
This is a July 23, 2013 YouTube of Dr. James Hanson speaking about the use of Modernized Nuclear Power as an viable option to generate clean electrical power.  Dr. Hanson advocates the use of Nuclear Power as an important option to effectively replace Greenhouse gas emitting power plants.  He sees this as a very efficient way of getting an abundance of clean energy.  He believes that Nuclear power can be developed that is far safer, much more efficient, and produces far less spent fuel than current reactor designs.  But the US has a moratorium on nuclear power.  He advocates for renewed R&D in nuclear power and believes that leaving it off the table as a viable alternative and totally relying upon hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, and solar power to solve all our greenhouse gas problems is foolish.  His views coincide with mine fairly nicely (See my posts on Global Warming).  It is comforting to know that I am in good company.

Dr. James Hanson is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.  He is best known for his research in the field of climatology and his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in 1988 that helped raise broad awareness of global warming, and as an activist on the dangers of Global Warming.  Dr. Hansen is the former head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. Foreign Policy named Jim Hansen one of its 2012 FP Top 100 Global Thinkers “for sounding the alarm on climate change, early and often.”

July 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM
Texas Senate Approves Strict Abortion Measure
Today the Texas Legislature passed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and hold abortion clinics to the same standards as hospital-style surgical centers, among other requirements when there is no evidence that abortion clinics are any less safe than any other medical clinic such as oral surgery.  This in essence would close all but about 5 abortion clinics throughout the state.  To be fair Texas needs to impost the same standards for all medical facility that involve medical invasive procedures that may endanger the patient.  Otherwise what they are doing is unconstitutional singling out only a single medical procedure for such treatment.  This is a bad law and will be challenged.  Two weeks earlier Texas Senator Wendy Davis staged a heroic filibuster in the Senate in order to delay passage of this bill. (Continued from June 28, 2013 at 2:30 PM)

June 30, 2013 at 8:30 AM
ABC News: ‘Scientists Say Human-Caused Climate Change Is … Creating More Heat Waves, Droughts And Intense Downpours’
Flooding, tornadoes, hail and fire are in the forecast — and with costly outcomes.

June 28, 2013 at 2:30 PM – Rick Perry Attacks Wendy Davis: ‘She Was A Teenage Mother Herself’ – New York Times

In a speech to nearly 1,000 delegates at the National Right to Life Conference near Dallas, Mr. Perry struck hard at Ms. Davis, 50, asking the crowd, “Who are we to say that the children born in the worst of circumstances can’t grow to live successful lives?”

Then he cited Ms. Davis, as an example, saying she was the daughter of a “single mother.”

He added: “She was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.”

Ms. Davis released a statement that said Mr. Perry’s statement was “without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds.”

“They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view,” she said.

I guess it wouldn’t occur to a wealth Texas male Governor that he actually revealed the reasons for Sen. Wendy Davis feeling empathetic toward poor pregnant women in Texas, many of whom are teenagers, who would rather have an abortion than raise a child that likely could end up a burden to her and society.  Sen. Davis was one of the lucky ones that successfully raise her child as a single mother but for every successful mother there are numerous unsuccessful mothers who raise children that eventually become a burden on Texas society.  Fort Worth from where Sen. Davis comes must be different than the rest of Red Republican Texas.  For Texas to have a woman Democratic Senator must be quit unusual these days.  I haven’t hear any other Texas women legislators speak to this issue.  (Continued from June 27, 2013 at 9:00 PM)

June 27, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Nelson Mandela reportedly lies gravely ill
Nelson Mandela’s name stands besides other great leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln.  But Nelson Mandela was able to live to a very old age whereas other great leaders credited with uniting badly divided nations usually died of an assassin’s bullet.  President Mandela is still alive at this moment but his body has been compromised by years in prison and advancing age so it is only a matter of time before he leaves us.  But he is a reminder that there is no room for revenge and hatred when it comes to bringing people of diverging backgrounds in revolution together in peace and unity.  He had all the reasons in the world to hate and persecute the white apartheid’s who had imprisoned him for 27 year.  But instead he embraced them and invited them to join together in forming a new government were the black majority and whites minority exists as equals.   By his shear will and personality he was able to successfully pull this off against all odds, a tremendous achievement.  Unlike Obama, he really did deserved the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993 and proved again that love and understanding bring lasting peace.  You cannot jam peace and democracy down people’s throats as the US repeatedly tries to do.  When will we ever learn?

June 27, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Wendy Davis, Texas Democrat, fights abortion bill with 13-hour filibuster
50 year old Congresswoman Wendy Davis yesterday earned my greatest respect by filibustering a very Republican Texas Senate for over 11 hours in a special session that was to end at midnight June 25, 2013.  But accusations from Republicans of violations of the filibuster rules where the speaker had to talk strictly about the bill in dispute and stand unassisted, unable to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom, broke out at the 11th hour and arguments between Republican and Democratic congress member went beyond midnight thus preventing a proper vote on the Bill before session’s end.  This bill would have required abortion clinics to be fully equipped and staffed to take care of emergencies if they should occur even though thousands of abortions have been safely performed every year.  This bill would have closed down all but about 5 clinics throughout the state.  The bill would also have prohibited abortions beyond 20 months.  The issue has not been settled and another special session will be scheduled.  There is no doubt that this bill will pass essentially ending abortions in Texas and taking away the right of poor women in that state to choose what to do with their bodies.  Of course non-poor women can travel to other states to have their abortions.  But Sen. Wendy Davis is a hero in my books.  I honestly could not have done what she did.  Not go to the bathroom in 11 hours?  She must have a large bladder and some strong kidneys.  No food or water and stand in one place for 11 straight hours?  She must be in great shape for a 50 year old.

June 26, 2013 at 7:35 AM
Today’s Supreme Court landmark decision in favor of Same Sex Marriage
The Supreme Court has just turned out the best possible ruling it is capable of for Same Sex Marriage.  The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been struck down by the Court meaning that in states where Same Sex Marriage is legal the Federal government must provide full Federal benefits, a clear victory towards social justice for all.  This means that even if legally married Gay couples moved to a state where their marriage is not recognized they will still receive full Federal benefits because they were legally married in as state which does.  The Court ruled that for California’s  Proposition 8 “private parties do not have “standing” to defend California’s voter-approved ballot measure barring gay and lesbians couples from state-sanctioned wedlock.”  That means that the Court leaves it up to each state to decide whether Same Sex Marriage is legal. California’s lower court’s decision to strike down Proposition 8 is thus upheld by the Supreme Court.  This is not the optimal ruling against Proposition 8 but is a compromise that leaves it up to each State whether Same Sex Marriage is legal and is far better than had they supported the legality of Proposition 8. They could have ruled that all State must recognize Same Sex Marriage but this is a rather conservative Court so their ruling was predictable.  Proponents of Proposition 8 are appealing the State court’s ruling against Proposition 8 but they are quickly becoming more the minority opinion.  Same Sex Marriages that have been performed in California in the past are now legal in California and married couples will be able to receive full Federal benefits no matter where they now live.  So this is a clear victory for the Same Sex Marriage movement and paves the way for more states to legalize Same Sex Marriage.  See posting Definition of Marriage – The LGBT Argument

June 09, 2013 at 8:20 AM
San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant in Southern California – To be Shut Down says anti-nuclear activists
What is not said is that
1,400,000 households will now have to receive their power from CO2 producing power plants instead of CO2-free nuclear power.  Anti-nuclear activists might consider that good news but as an anti-greenhouse advocate I consider that a huge step backwards for greenhouse gases reduction.  How many years or decades will take for these 1,400,000 households to run on non-greenhouse gas power?  Anti-nuclear activist have succeeded in helping shut down this plant without replacing it with a non-greenhouse source of power so it is essentially adding to the global warming load.  How much more will these added greenhouse gases accelerate global warming?  It is short sighted not to properly consider such consequences.  But the harm has been done so we will have to live or die from the consequences of more global warming.  Climate change will continue to get worst and more lives will be lost each year from it than in all the nuclear power plant disaster put together.  This is not a rational approach to balance the good of nuclear power against the bad of nuclear disasters.  Had there been no global warming I would also have been against nuclear power.  But global warming is a reality and might very will end life for mankind on earth.

Keep in mind that we have now lost a non-CO2 produced power for 1,400,000 households.  In the foreseeable future power will now be generated by CO2 producing power plants until alternative are developed many years into the future.  There will be consequences that might tip the scale towards irreversible climate change.  We have now reached the benchmark of 400 ppm of CO2 in our atmosphere.  Shutting down this power plant might have contributed to that number and it will contribute to it getting much worst in the future.  1,400,000 households represents a lot of power and CO2 emissions every day.  That is more than the population for the entire Bay Area.  That is how much power that is generated by that single nuclear facility.  It would have been more prudent to keep it open until all the power could be replaced by alternative non-CO2 power sources.

Comment from unnamed respondent – in the case of San Onofre you could point out that the plant has already been shut down for a year and a half and the 1,400,000 households have been receiving no power from it anyway even though they have been charged  excess rates for its expected repair. .It was closed down permanently because it was apparently irreparable, and it no longer made economic sense for the company and investors to resist closure.

It would seem a good time for those affected households to switch to solar heating.  I live in the area supposedly served by San Onofre.. One of my friends installed solar panels several years ago. Not only does he no longer pay for electricity consumption, he actually sells the excess back to the power company.

Of course big oil and coal both fight the switch to green energy in California but it has to come, and soon, as your friend would agree. At present Edison is rapidly expanding wind and geothermal as the most reliable green sources in California while solar power is still being developed and more widely installed.  Edison claims proudly that 20% of their energy already comes from renewable sources (primarily wind and geothermal) and that they are expanding both sources and transmission lines rapidly.

Nuclear power is far too dangerous and life threatening to be welcomed as green. However your friend is of course right that we must develop true green sources far more rapidly than at present.

FG Reply – I have already acknowledged that since this plant has been down for repairs power has been switched to CO2 generating power plants for 1,400,000 households.  Perhaps power has been purchased from out of state.  No matter what more excess power was generated elsewhere to feed power to this population.  This might have contributed to the 400 ppm CO2 benchmark just passed.  Perhaps once the plant would have come on line again the CO2 levels would have diminished below 400 ppm.  Now there is no chance of that happening.  Realistically to get 1,400,000 households to switch to solar or for the utilities to switch these households to wind will take a decade or more.  In the mean time CO2 continues to be emitted by power plants to supply power to a population greater than the entire Bay Area.  We need CO2 emissions to be reduced yesterday not increased today.  I don’t see why you and your friends cannot see this.  This power plant can become operational withing a year or so if repairs and upgrades are allowed to be completed and continue to run until alternative power can replace it.  But you have taken the worst case scenario resulting in increased green house emissions.  1,400,000 households is about 4,200,000 people (3 people per household).  This is one huge power plant.  What is the population of the Bay Area.  As time increases so will the population and number of households.  The nuclear power plant could have handled this.  I’m not sure what the specific plan is now that will reduce greenhouse emissions.  Do you know the specific details of a plan that does not produce greenhouse gases?

I feel your friends underestimate the amount of effort it will take to get a sizable number of the 1,400,000 housed fitted with enough solar/wind power that they can run independent of the utilities.  The utility companies are not going to let that happen.  Then when and where are the utility companies going to put up those huge wind farms so that environmental groups won’t object.  We are talking about reality now.  If all this is possible then how long will it take?  Do you see anyone with money, plans, permits, approved EIR and a schedule?  In the mean time CO2 power plants will continue to dump huge amounts of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere to supply power from somewhere.  Can you imagine how difficult it will be to outfit every house in the Bay Area with solar?  Can we afford it?  It will have to be mandated by the government in order to happen.  Is that what you are proposing for those in LA.  I would expect the population to object.  It may take decades to replace the energy of this nuclear facility and all that time the population will continue to grow.  I would implore you to take a reality check.  We are talking about many billions of dollars invested in wind and solar.  If half the households went solar at $3,000 per house it would cost residents $2.1 billion.  Where is this money going to come from.  Then factor in the cost of wind farms (not sure about cost) to make up the difference.

I would think that it would not take more than a few hundred million dollars to bring this nuclear power plant into operation if we had the will.  And it could be done in a year or two realistically.  It has already been worked on for 1.5 years so repairs are likely more than half done.  Then we can be off those CO2 producing power plants and back onto clean nuclear power with a major reduction in CO2 realized.  It’s all about time and money, especially time since greenhouse gases continue to be emitted in very large amounts as long as the nuclear power plant is down.  We have a ticking time bomb that might lead to the extinction of mankind according to scientist.  It is not easy to conceive that nuclear power plants will lead to man’s extinction especially as they get better in safety and designs with time.  Global warming is another matter.

Keep in mind that I used to be one of you.  But when I took a reality check and looked at how Global Warming is progressing faster than scientist had predicted and that we are approaching the point of no return, if we aren’t already there, I objectively compare the danger of nuclear power plants to that of Global Warming and there simply was not comparison.  Global Warming is now killing far more people around the world annually than all nuclear disaster put together and it is rapidly getting worst every year.  There have been only 4 major nuclear incidences and only two resulted in significant loss of life in the last 70 years excluding nuclear submarine disasters decades ago.  Every year now we are having more superstorms and supertornados and prolonged droughts.  These are getting progressively more frequent and more powerful while nuclear incidences are becoming less frequent as safety increases.  So you draw the rational conclusions?

I can understand a little of the logic for being against building new nuclear plants though it is not very sound but to stop existing nuclear power plant and have no immediate plan to replace them with alternative power is verging on insanity from a greenhouse gas point of view.  This will definitely result in the immediate production of much more greenhouse gases to replace the shut down plants.  No one will commit to immediately replacing it with solar or wind generated electricity.  New CO2 emitting power plants will have to be built or existing ones upgraded to take care of the slack or brown outs will be very common.  I hope I have stated my case clearly.

Republicans and conservatives don’t believe in greenhouse gases so want to burn more fossil fuels.  The government wants to grant more permits for offshore drilling, fracking, and oil pipelines.  Now liberal anti-nuclear advocates want to shut down all existing nuclear power plants and immediately replace them with what?  So what are we all doing to reduce greenhouse gases that might result in the extinction of man?  Isn’t that more important than shutting down nuclear power plants?  Where are our priorities?

At All Cost we must Immediately Reduce Greenhouse Emissions, not increase them, and we must do it Now, not tomorrow or some time in the uncertain future!!!!

May 29, 2013 at 7:26 PM
Californian State Senate Bill SB 52 the “DISCLOSE Act” Passed the Senate today!
Senator Mark Leno saw an opportunity to get the 2/3 vote we’ve been striving for, and engineered a full Senate floor vote on SB 52 a day early.  The bill passed by a vote of 28 – 11, with yeah votes from all Democrats except Rod Wright, and one yeah Republican vote from Anthony Cannella, making it officially a “bi-partisan” bill.  The bill goes for a vote in the Assembly in June and requires a 2/3 majority vote to pass.
See:

May 20, 2013 at 9:31 PM
More Signs of Global Warming
The F5 monster tornado that ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb flattening entire neighborhoods and destroying an elementary school full of children is just another indicator that Global Warming is a reality. CO2 levels of 400 ppm, never seen in the last 2 million years when volcanic activities dominated the landscape, have now been surpassed due mostly because of our increased generation of Greenhouse gases. Yet the US has done little to curb its increased thirst for carbon fuels due largely to conservatives who still deny that man is impacting CO2 in our atmosphere. Where is it coming from if not from man. 2 million years ago there was far more volcanic activity, today there are far more people. (See Global Warming – A real threat to all Life on Earth)

May 17, 2013 at 8:39 AM
State Senate SB 52 the “DISCLOSE Act
“For all you Californians there is a Bill before the State Senate SB 52 the “DISCLOSE Act” which needs everyone’s support. It forces the top 3 sponsors of political ads to place their actual names prominently in each ad which includes TV, radio, and printed matter. This will allow all consumers to quickly identify who is behind these adds. Please contact your State representatives about supporting this important legislation. For more information go to my posting Confusing Political Ads – time for “California DISCLOSE Act” SB 52

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