Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Clear Choice


IKEA the Swedish furniture giant has announced plans to raise the average minimum wage for U.S. employees by 17 percent to $10.76 an hour.  Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are refusing raise the minimum wage.  The issue is going grassroots in the State of Wisconsin, since 76 percent of those voters support the idea of a wage increase.

Wisconsin Governor Scott ,Walker is against raising the minimum wage.  He called it a political stunt, because his Democratic challenger Mary Burke has backed a three-step increase in the minimum wage.  Consequently, Wisconsin voters will have a clear choice  in November.

Grassroots organizations are taking matters into their own hands by gathering signatures on petitions for a minimum wage increase referendum to be on the ballot in November.  The Milwaukee County Board was voted to include the referendum on its ballot and more counties are expected to follow.

Statistically, the two candidates for governor are tied at 46-46.  Neither one of them is above 50 percent, but 76 percent of the people in Wisconsin believe raising the minimum wage is right thing to do.  Potentially, as many as 800,000 voters who were not planning to vote in the gubernatorial election could come out to support raising the state’s minimum wage.

Presently, Wisconsins minimum wage is at $7.25 an hour.  With a 40-hour work week, that amounts to $290 per week or just over $15,000 a year.  

Raising the minimum wage will boost the economy, because 70 percent of our GDP is consumer spending.  If consumers don’t have enough money to buy the things they need, our economy remains stagnant.  Raising the minimum wage in Wisconsin would give roughly 600,000 people a wage that would allow them to support their family without having to rely in public assistance.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

War Powers Resolution


The Pentagon announced that special operations teams of several hundred troops have been deploy into Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. 

President Obama notified Congress he’d be sending in troops, and that notification by a president started the clock ticking on a 60-day window in which a president can send forces into what looks like imminent hostilities without permission from Congress.

However, after 60 days, the War Powers Resolution says that Congress needs to authorize that use of military force, even if they would prefer not to.  The House has passed a resolution that makes it official that Congress won’t advocate its responsibility under the War Powers Resolution. 

The language in that resolution was prepared by two House Democrats, Colleen Hanabusa and John Garamendi.  For two Democrats to get something passed by the Republican controlled House is very unusual.

Congressman Garamendi noted: “And that resolution that is now over in the Senate side says unless the president comes back to us as required by the War Powers Act, money is cut off.  There will be no money.  Hopefully that will become the law.  The Senate is going to take it up in this next month of July.  If it becomes the law, then that will be it.”

The resolution would insist, that no Pentagon money could be spent on new military involvement in Iraq other than defending the embassy, unless President Obama obtain permission from Congress.

Garamendi believes that what we’re seeing in Iraq is a very dangerous sectarian religious war, that’s been going on for 1,400 years, between two factions of the Muslim religion.

Before invading Iraq, Bush knew that 60 percent of the people in Iraq were Shiite, and only 20 percent were Sunni, and that the Shiite majority didn’t want to be ruled by the Sunni minority.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chances Are Slight


Senators John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham have strong feelings about what our country should do militarily in Iraq, but none of them believe it’s their responsibility to make a binding decisions regarding the crisis.  Except to go on TV to talk about it.

Constitutionally, presidents have the responsibility to conduct wars, but it’s the responsibility of Congress to decide whether we actually have wars.

Republican Senators may not be clear on that subject of another Iraq war, but the House Democratic caucus chairman, Xavier Becerra is clear.  He emerged from a caucus meeting to say: “I know there’s a lot of concern in getting embroiled in another Vietnam and the concern about sending American troops once again to fight someone else’s war. 

“I believe the president’s trying to do not just the right thing but something that will help the Iraqis get themselves in a place where they will be prepared to defend their own country and their own people rather than have to have other forces, American forces or NATO forces have to do this for them.

“So, my sense is that members want to hear more.  The president did end the Iraq war.  And, again, I’m not sure in what capacity the president would propose that American forces or American interests be involved in Iraq, but depending on what the president is proposing, that would probably help trigger a response as to whether or not we need another declaration of war in order for the U.S. to get further involved.”

If Congress did accept its responsibility to vote on a declaration for another war in Iraq, and had to make a binding vote, whereby their names would be attached to that vote forever, what do you think the prospects would be for a third war in Iraq?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Risky Business


Some Republicans continue to deny climate change even exists, and congressional Republicans refused to take meaningful action against climate change.

They may want to rethink that position, because according to a recent  study their refusal to act could end up causing our economy billions of dollars in lost property, crops, and labor productivity.  According to a study, by scientist, economist, and business leaders, by the year 2050 between $66 and $106 billion worth of existing coastal property will likely be below sea level nationwide.  And, $238 to $507 billion worth of property below sea level by the year 2100.

Rising temperatures in the South, Southwest and Midwest could reduce labor productivity by as much as 3 percent.  Furthermore, by the end of this century, some states risk up to a 50 to 70 percent loss in average annual crop yields.

It’s significant that people who have years of expertise running agricultural business, scientist, mayors of large costal cities, and reputable economist are reporting on potential devastating impact of extreme droughts across our country, not unlike what California has already experienced. 

The cost of inaction could be catastrophic, but congressional  Republicans don’t seem to care.  If President Obama’s new EPA regulations to cut carbon emissions are implemented, senior House Republicans have hinted that they would rather risk another government shutdown.  They seem to be prepared to injure our economy again,  even though the last time government shutdown cost $25 billion.

According to a poll distributed by the League of Conservation Voters about two-thirds of the American people overwhelmingly support the ability of scientists to predict climate change, and authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to protect public health by cutting carbon pollution under the Clean Act.  That’s more than twice the number that oppose it.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Potential of Solar Power


Recently, the Dow dropped 119 points, because investors are concern that Iraqi oil production could be affected if ISIS militants move the conflict into Southern Iraq. 

Meanwhile, a positive sign regarding solar energy occurred in Germany on June 9th.  Germany produced a record 50 percent of its electricity needs through solar panels for a full day.  That’s a stark contrast to the 2.2 percent of total solar energy production in our country.  We’ve fallen far behind in alternative energy production.  Germany proved to the world the benefits of solar energy, because they’re pulling together.  However, for decades we’ve had special interests trying to defeat renewable forms of energy.

President Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the White House’s West Wing 35 years ago.  They were taken down by President Ronald Reagan.  Three years ago, solar panels were again installed on the roof of the White House.

Carter recognize the problem of our dependency on foreign oil and in a televised speech, predicted: “With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes.  It is a problem we will not solve in the next few years, and it is likely to get progressively worse.  Our decision about energy will test the character of the American people and the ability of the president and the Congress to govern.  This difficult effort will be the ‘moral equivalent of war’ except that we will be uniting our efforts to build and not destroy.”

Carter proposed 10 principles for a national energy plan, but those principles were attacked by oil conglomerates, and when Reagan took over, those principles were ignored and Carter’s programs were terminated.  

The Republican Party supported Bush’s pre-emptive, imperialistic invasion of Iraq, which clearly demonstrates that destruction and conquest became their choice.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weary of War


Senate Majority Leader Reid explained: “It’s not worth the blood of American soldiers, it’s not worth the money it could cost the American taxpayer.  Rather than spending hundreds and billions of dollars on the war in Iraq.  How about we use that money to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure?”

Most Democrats are weary of the war in Iraq and want a focus on infrastructure, because we have bridges, roads, and education systems that need to be funded.

President Obama observed: “Infrastructure didn’t use to be partisan.”

According to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times the amount of money spent in Iraq is estimated to cost each American household around $35,000.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders noted: “We have a crumbling infrastructure.  The American Society of Civil Engineers tells us we have to spend over $3 trillion.  And if we invest in America, we become more productive and we create jobs.  In fact, $1 trillion of investment in infrastructure, creates 13 million jobs.

“And I think that highlighting the cost of war, the enormous amounts of money we spent in Iraq contrasting to that to the needs in America.  We have a rail system today that is far behind Europe, Japan, and even China.  We need to weatherize millions of homes to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions and save people money on their fuel bill.

“I think when people understand that the war in Iraq cost $4 trillion, but if we invested $1 trillion right here in America, we become more productive, we create 13 million jobs.  I think the American people will say as Harry Reid did invest in America.  Create jobs here.”

Senator Sanders supports protecting the embassy, but is adamantly oppose the United States getting involved in a ground war in Iraq again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cauldron of Violence


Recently, Senator John McCain claimed: “The fact is, we had the conflict won, and we had a stable government, and a residual force such as we had left behind.  We even have forces in Bosnia, Korea, Germany, Japan, where we could have.  But the president (Obama) wanted out, and now, we are paying a very heavy price.”

McCain’s accusation suggests that President Obama cut and run, by pulled American troops out of Iraq too fast before the job was completed, leaving it vulnerable to be overrun by marauding terrorists.

ISIS, the group overrunning Iraq is largely a creation of the Iraq war itself.  Previously, ISIS was al Qaeda in Iraq.  The group gained strength in numbers in the midst of the cauldron of violence that was unleashed by the Iraq war, particularly the brutal violence in 2004 and 2005.

The Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq required, that it be approved by the Iraqi parliament, but our Congress was never consulted.  President Bush signed the deal requiring our combat troops to be out by 2011, and Sen. John McCain didn’t complained at that time.

Any residual U.S. force we might have left in Iraq would have been minimal in any non-combat role, somewhere in the order of 2,000 to 3,000.  However, keep in mind that what happened in Mosul was that 30,000 Iraqi troops turned and fled in the face of 800 ISIS fighters. 

Those troops were mostly Sunnis, who had no desire to risk their lives, for what they consider is a completely Shiite dominated government hostile to their interest.  It’s unclear that leaving a residual force of American military trainers could have done anything to prevent this.

Iraq considered keeping 2,000 to 3,000 American troops, but Iraqi Shiite politicians refused to grant our troops immunity from prosecution.

Monday, June 23, 2014

We Were Warned


Former intelligence analyst, Anthony Cordesman specialized in Middle East issues.  In "Inexcusable Failure," he warned: “All the training in the world will be for naught, if the Iraqi National Guard and Police are corrupt, or view their government as a puppet regime of American imperialist.”

Prior to 2005, former senior member of our intelligence community, Michael Scheuer had two decades of CIA experience in national security issues.  In "Imperial Hubris," he quoted terrorist leader al Zawahiri: “Americans are facing a delicate situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.  If they withdraw they will lose everything and if they stay, they will continue to bleed to death.”

In 2005, retired Lt. General William Odom insisted: “If Bush wants to bring democracy and stability to the Middle East, the only way to achieve that goal is for the our armed forces to get out of Iraq now.  We started the civil war, by getting rid of Saddam, who kept order.  Once we got rid of Saddam, there was no way to prevent a civil war from occurring.”

Recently, President Obama said: “Above all, the Iraqi leaders must rise above their differences and come together around a political plan for Iraq`s future.  Shia, Sunni, Kurds, all Iraqis must have confidence that they can advance their interest and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence.  National Unity meetings have to go forward to build consensus across Iraq’s different communities now that the result of Iraq’s recent election has been certified.

“A new parliament should convene as soon as possible.  The formation of a new government will be an opportunity to begin a genuine dialogue and forge a government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis.  Now, it’s not the place for the United States to choose Iraq`s leaders.  It is clear though that only leaders that can govern with an inclusive agenda are going to be able to truly bring the Iraqi people together and help them through this crisis.

“Meanwhile, the United States will not pursue military actions that support one sect inside of Iraq at the expense of another.

“There`s no military solution inside of Iraq, certainly not one that is led by the United States.  But there is an urgent need for an inclusive political process, a more capable Iraqi security force and counter terrorism efforts that deny groups like ISIL a safe haven.”

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Caution


Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Vice President Cheney said: “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has a weapon of mass destruction.  There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

President Bush insisted: “We cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”  And, Bush’s infamous 16 words in the State of the Union address stated: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice claimed: “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapon, but we don’t want the smoking to be a mushroom cloud.”

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson was Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff, and prior to the invasion.  Wilkerson clearly recalls: “Powell walked into my office and without so much as a fare-thee-well, he walked over to the window and he said, ‘I wonder what’ll happen when we put 500,000 troops into Iraq and comb the country from one end to the other and find nothing?’  And he turned around and walked back in his office.  And I wrote that down on my calendar as close to verbatim as I could, because I thought that was a profound statement coming from the secretary of state, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.”

Now, South Carolina Senator, Lindsey Graham is again fear-mongering, and blaming President Obama.  Senator Graham claims:  “The lack of a residual force, the stubborn-headed president we have who thinks he knows better than everybody else, who withdrew troops, and exposed this country to the inevitable needs to change his policies quickly.  If he does, we can still save this.”

According to Sen. Graham, if you don’t become the world’s police officer, you’re stubborn.  Republican criticism on this issue is rooted in their intense hatred for this president.

Our commander-in-chief is taking time to examine all options.  In 2003, we could have used a president with Obama’s caution.  He’s announced: “We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq but I have asked my National Security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq security forces and I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead.”

Saturday, June 21, 2014

One Sided Love Affair


The basic dream of most young Americans is to attend college, get a good job, marry the person they love, buy a home, and building a better life for their children.  Unfortunately, that dream is no longer within reach of most Americans.  The new American dream is to survive until the next paycheck.

What is especially damaging is the false conviction, that bitter partisanship is the problem.  The responsibility for the hurt endured by average Americans can’t be laid at the feet of both political parties, because partisan bickering isn’t the problem.  To recognize that reality one only need to ask themselves, which political party takes every opportunity it can to hurt the working poor, and has repeatedly demonstrated that it doesn’t care about the needy masses in our country.

Those who struggle with the $7.25 minimum wage are not the victims of so-called partisanship.  Nor are those who are chronically unemployed or constantly underemployed.  Those who barely subsist on food stamps are the victims of those Republican politicians, who decided to cut their SNAP funding to the bone.  Neither are those murdered loved ones, the victims of partisanship.  Especially, the children, who were heartlessly cut down by guns.  They’re the victims of congressional Republicans, who still can’t produce a sane gun control policy.  By the way, those politicians still can’t come up with an alternative to Obamacare.  

The truth is that so-called partisanship is in fact a one-sided love affair with privilege and prosperity for the few, while the masses are made more vulnerable by policies enacted by uncaring wealthy people.  It’s time we call it for what it is.  It is not partisanship.  It’s the practices of a Republican party that could care less about the middle class, the working poor, and the poor.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Our Nation’s Well-being


A recent poll by the Pew Research Group found 27 percent of Democrats believe the Republican Party is a threat to the nation’s well-being.  The same poll shows 36 percent of Republicans believe Democrats are a threat to the nation’s well-being.

Starting with the Reagan era, many Republicans have instigated an anti-government sentiment in our country.  A gun battle between militia and federal agents was narrowly averted in Nevada two months ago.  Recently, two anti-government people shot and killed two police officers and a civilian as they screamed about the start of a revolution.

Americans have seen images of Iraq spiraling into a sectarian Civil War.  This comes 11 years after George W. Bush led us into a preemptive war based on false intelligence.   In that war over 4,400 of American men and women were killed and 32,000 wounded.  In 2007, the U.N. reported, that more than 34,000 Iraqis were killed by sectarian violence.

For a century, people have gone bankrupt or needlessly died due to inadequate healthcare coverage and treatment.  Congressional Republicans made it to their mission to keep that old system in place.  That’s a threat to everyones well-being, not partisanship.

Republicans have made sure working women and men have to scrape for every penny, but bend over backwards to make sure the ultra rich are able to exploit every tax break and loophole possible.  That’s also a threat to our nation’s well-being.

Republicans claim people who make minimum wage are earning too much.  Some people have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet.  But, more than anything else that has destroyed the traditional family unit.  Republicans talk about family, but don’t seem to care about those that must work 5o to 60 hours a week just to reach the poverty level.  Parents working so many hours especially hurts their children.

Republicans have tried to strip reproductive rights from women for almost 50 years.  Remember when women had to resort to back-alley abortions to make personal decisions about their own bodies.  Denying women their reproductive right would again do damage to women’s health. 

Republicans have done everything in their power to make it harder for Americans to vote.  The vote is the only weapon average people have to make a difference in this country.  Taking that away is a threat to this country and to democracy itself.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Promoting Stability


The following in an excerpt of recent remarks by President Obama: “Over the last several days, we`ve seen significant gains made by ISIL, a terrorist organization that operates in both Iraq and in Syria.  In the face of a terrorist offensive, Iraqi security forces have proven unable to defend a number of cities, which has allowed the terrorist to overrun a part of Iraq’s territory and this poses a danger to Iraq and its people and given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well.

“Now, this threat is not brand new.  Over the last year, we’ve been steadily ramping up our security assistance to the Iraqi government with increased training, equipping and intelligence.  Now, Iraq needs additional support to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of Iraqi security forces.  We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq security forces and I will be reviewing those options in the days ahead.  

“I do want to be clear though, this is not solely or even primarily a military challenge.  Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future.  Unfortunately, Iraqis leaders have been unable to overcome to often the mistrust and sectarian differences that had long been simmering there and that’s created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government as well as their security forces.

“So any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences to promote stability and account for the legitimate interest of all of Iraq’s communities.  And to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force.  We can’t do it for them.  And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action including any assistance we might provide won’t succeed.  So this should be a wake up call.  Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together.

“In that effort, they will have the support of the United States and our friends and our allies.  Now, Iraq’s neighbors also have some responsibilities to support this process.  Nobody has an interest in seeing terrorists gain a foothold inside of Iraq and nobody is going to benefit from seeing Iraq descend into chaos.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

In Fact


The impact the war in Iraq is undeniable.  Thousands of lives have been lost and ruined.  The ultimate cost of that war has been estimated to be $4 trillion.  Two trillion in cost has already been incurred, but an additional $2 trillion will include future cost of caring for the 32,000 casualties.  Obviously, our debt to the families of 4,400 troops that were killed will never be paid.

Lest we forget, Chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix noted: “The White House maintained 100 percent certainty that the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction existed based on zero percent evidence.”

National Security Council Official, Rand Beers, who resigned his White House post to work against the reelection of Bush, stated: “As they embellished what the intelligence community was prepared to say and as the press reported that information, it began to acquire its own sense of truth and reality.”

CIA field officer Robert Baer, who served most of his 21 year career in the Middle East pointed out: “The problem is the White House didn't go to the CIA and ask, tell me the truth, it said give me ammunition.”

In 2002, Pelosi was the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.  As the senior Democrat in the House, both she and Democratic Senator Bob Graham the chairman of the Intelligence Committee were briefed extensively on the intelligence leading up to the vote to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq.

At the time, Pelosi said there was nothing in that intelligence, which indicated that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States.  Both Pelosi and her Democratic counterpart Senator Graham voted against the Iraq War Resolution.  Thus, the two Democrats, who had the most operational intelligence at their disposal, as well as, 22 other Senators voted against that resolution.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Biden Plan


Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is an al Qaeda splinter group, that intends to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, that would stretch from Iraq into northern Syria.  ISIS has already had substantial success in Syria battling President Bashar al-Assad's security forces.

The Shiite Iranian regime is Iraqi’s President al-Malaki's closest ally in the region.  The Obama administration is concerned that appearing to team up with Iran to fight ISIS would both alienate Iraq's Sunni minority and worry  our Sunni allies such as the United Arab Emirates.

In April 2008, Senator Joe Biden, who was at the time the ranking Democrat on foreign relations presented a plan to give regional control in Iraq to Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.  Biden believed the people of Iraq would support the idea of a confederacy which would offer a lot of autonomy to those three separate groups. 

Biden’s plan in 2008, pointed out that under the existing constitution of Iraq any three of their 18 states could get together and form a region.  The people in a region  would have control over the local laws, just like we do with the local laws on education and property in our various states.  A region could have it’s own police force, like our state police, but they would have a central government that made Baghdad a federal city like Washington, which would control Iraq’s borders, their national army and the allocation of resources. 

The Sunnis region(s) would get a piece of the oil action, so that they’d have a source of revenues.  That would be the basis for Iraq being able to stay together as a loosely federated republic and not a haven for terrorist. 

Bush was committed to Maliki the new prime minister of Iraq.  But, Biden didn’t see Maliki as the unifying figure, and believed that Maliki would do nothing to get the Sunnis to buy into a democratic government.  Biden predicted that unless, the Sunnis bought into the new government there was no chance of avoiding increasing sectarian violence. 

In 2008, Senator Biden believed Maliki has no intention of doing what had to be done to reach a political solution with the Sunnis in Iraq.  

When we invaded Iraq in 2003, we did Iran a great favor, because Iraq end up with a Shiite dominated government, which isn’t prepared to make any political concession to have a united Iraq. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Options for Iraq


According to the Defense Department troop levels in Iraq peaked at 166,300 in 2007.  The withdrawal of our troops was completed by the end of 2011.  The Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq required, that it be approved by the Iraqi parliament, but our Congress was never consulted.  President Bush signed the deal requiring our combat troops to be out by 2011, and Sen. John McCain didn’t complained at that time.

President Obama has met with his national security team to prepare options regarding how we can help take back Iraqi cities from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), that translates the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  

Obama doesn’t consider sending American troops back into Iraq an option.  But, the Iraqi government had indicated a willingness for our military to conduct airstrikes targeting the terrorists.

American air power has proven effective in campaigns such as Kosovo or Libya, but there are limits to attacking sites from above.  First, should a plane be shot down there's a risk of casualties.   Secondly, it will be difficult to wipe out an insurgency, if militants blend into the civilian population.

About $15 billion in equipment, and training has gone to Iraq.  American taxpayers have paid for uniforms, millions of rounds of small arms ammunition, thousands of rounds of tank ammunition, hundreds of Hellfire missiles, grenades, assault rifles, helicopters and 200 Humvees.

Already, ISIS militants have been able to pick up weaponry, and vehicles supplied by the United States.  Witnesses, in Iraq’s second largest city Mosul, reported seeing Iraqi security forces drop their weapons, shed their uniforms.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government seems to be coordinating with the semiautonomous Kurdish government.  It appears Iraqi forces will team up with Kurdish fighters, known as the Peshmerga, to combat ISIS.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Iraq Crisis


The following is an excerpt is from remarks President Obama made regarding the ineffectiveness of Iraq security forces.
“Over the last several days, we’ve seen significant gains made by ISIL, a terrorist organization that operates in both Iraq and in Syria.  In the face of a terrorist offensive, Iraqi security forces have proven unable to defend a number of cities, which has allowed the terrorists to overrun a part of Iraq’s territory.  And this poses a danger to Iraq and its people.  And given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well.
“Now, this threat is not brand new.  Over the last year, we’ve been steadily ramping up our security assistance to the Iraqi government with increased training, equipping and intelligence.  Now, Iraq needs additional support to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of Iraqi security forces.  We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces, and I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead.
“I do want to be clear though, this is not solely or even primarily a military challenge.  Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future.  Unfortunately, Iraq’s leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there, and that’s created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government as well as their security forces.
“So any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability, and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force.  We can’t do it for them.  And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won’t succeed. 
“So this should be a wake-up call.  Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together.  In that effort, they will have the support of the United States and our friends and our allies.” 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bizarre Inquisition


The late Rev. James Washington noted: "Some people go to church to love God instead of their neighbor." 

Some congressional Republicans and their supporters would rather love God instead of their neighbors, because loving their neighbor demands a serious commitment.

If congressional Republicans want to redeem their reputations as compassionate, they might want to consider being concerned about undocumented immigrants, who deserved a path to citizenship.

Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert is making use of our tax payer dollars, because he’s concerned that our religious liberty is under attack. 

Recently, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on religious freedom, Rep. Gohmert grilled Reverend Barry Lynn, the Executive Director of Americans United for the separation of church and state.  

Gohmert tried to make the case non-Christians are going to hell, by asking: “I’m curious in your Christian beliefs, do you believe in sharing the good news that will keep people from going to hell consistent with the Christian beliefs?

Rev Lynn answered: “I wouldn’t agree with your construction of what hell is like or why one gets there.  But the broader question is, yes I’m happy too. 

Rep. Gohmert continued: “So you don’t believe somebody would go to hell if they do not believe Jesus is the way to truth to the life?

Lynn answered: “I personally do not believe people go to hell because they don’t believe on a specific set of ideas in Christianity.

Gohmert insisted: “No, no, no, not a set of ideas, either you believe as a Christian that Jesus is the way to truth to life or you don’t.  And there’s nothing wrong in our country with that.”

The Reverend Barry Lynn responded: “Congressman, what I believe is not necessarily what I think ought to justify the creation of public policy for everybody for the 2000 different religions that exist in this country, the 25 million non-believers.  I’ve never been offended, and I have never been afraid to share my belief.”

Gohmert ended the exchange with: “Whatever you choose to think about Christ, whether or not you believe those words he said that nobody basically goes to heaven except through me.”

It takes a lot of nerve for someone who uses his faith as a tool for getting elected, to question the faith of a minister.  Gohmert loves to throw his faith around but would Jesus be happy with his positions of cutting food stamps.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Words Do Matter


Regarding, the armed standoff at the Cliven Bundy ranch, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: “Those people who hold themselves out to be patriots are not.  They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists.”

Jared and Amanda Miller acted on radical anti-government beliefs, that are being fostered by some Republican politicians.  Obviously, the killing of 2 police officers was domestic terrorism, but right-wing conservative politicians refuse to address the shooting in any meaningful way.

House Speaker John Boehner was asked directly whether he thinks the senseless killing in Las Vegas was an act of domestic terrorism.  Boehner responded: “I’m not sure how I would describe it, but clearly we had a couple of sick individuals who engaged in a horrific crime and our hearts go out to those families, especially to the families of those two officers who went down.”  

Conservatives won’t rush to condemn those individuals as terrorists, because they’ve been cultivating the environment in which the Miller’s were spawned.  Jared Miller put a swastika on officer Alyn Beck’s body, but we don’t need to wonder where the Millers got that idea.

In fact, Texas Senator Ted Cruz recently claimed: “If you go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany, look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, ‘Accept the Nazis.  Yes, they’ll dominate the continent of Europe but that’s not our problem.  Let’s appease them.  Why?  Because it can’t be done.  We can’t possibly stand against them.’”

Many of us believe, that kind of rhetoric has no place in American politics, because the idea that President Obama has done anything that even remotely compares to Nazi fascism is offensive.  Nevertheless, groups of Americans believe that comparison to be true, because so many Americans have been desensitized by the frequency of those very dangerous, deceitful comments.

Nevada Senator Dean Heller called the heavily armed Cliven Bundy militia supporters patriots.  Both he and Ted Cruz have a responsibility as public figures, not to pander to a potentially violent, anti-government element.

It's ironic that although conservative Republicans are quick to point out the relationship between violent rap songs, and videos, when it comes to the direct correlation between the kind of rhetoric that they’ve been ratcheting up with their extremist remarks and the violence that has taken place, they claim amnesty and don’t even want to talk about that relationship.  Words do matter, because words can lead to deeds.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Revolution


A shooting rampage has left five people dead including the two suspected shooters.  Indications are that it was a senseless act of violence committed by anti government activists.

Last Sunday, the suspected killers Jared and Amanda Miller entered a pizza restaurant outside Las Vegas, to killed police officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo as they ate lunch.  Witnesses heard the couple shout: "This is a revolution and we are freedom fighters." 

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office release details of the shooting.  Reportedly, Jared Miller covered officer Beck’s body with a flag that read: "Don’t tread on me."  He also put a swastika on top of the body.

Then he pinned a note on officer Saldo’s body that read: "The revolution has begun."  The suspects then fled to a nearby Wal-Mart where they killed another person before being killed themselves.

A neighbor of the Millers told NBC News, the couple’s anti-government views had intensified after attending the standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch.

A reporter from a local affiliate interviewed Jared Miller at the Bundy standoff, where he announced: I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to come in here and try to push us around or anything like that.  I really don’t want violence for them, but if they’re going to come bring violence to us, well, if that’s the language they want to speak, we’ll learn it.”

We’re living in a nation where we’ve heard constant commentary about how horrible our government and this president have been.  Right-wing media and Conservative politicians are leading this slanderous campaign.  They claim to be patriots, while drumming into the unconscious of many Americans, that our country is being led by a president, who isn’t worthy, even though he’s been chosen twice in fair elections to lead our nation.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Reducing Pollution


The Obama administration has unveiled an ambitious new plan to reduce pollution from coal power plants.  The proposed rules could change the American landscape by replacing coal power smokestacks with cleaner energy. 

The EPA has decided that the existing power plants must reduce carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent before the year 2030.  That would be the equivalent of taking two thirds of the cars and trunks off the roads in this country.  The proposal covers a thousand power plants across America, more than half  of which are fueled by coal.

Existing power plants are the largest source of our nation’s carbon dioxide emissions and accounts for 38 percent of the pollution.  These proposed new rules and regulation are necessary to deal with climate change.  Our continued dependency on fossile fuel can only creates more pollution from carbon emissions.  These specific standards for emissions sends our country in a direction of beginning to control pollution.

Under EPA's Clean Power Plan, states will have the flexibility to achieve the pollution cuts in many ways, including using cleaner energy sources and promoting energy efficiency, which will also help improve reliability by reduces the electricity demand that strains power systems.

EPA's approach will provide clear guidance for what limits and metrics must be met, but leaves states the flexibility to design solutions to meet those requirements in the most efficient ways possible.  This will encourage all states to innovate and look at clean energy technology as an attractive option when complying with the law.

Once it's final, EPA's Clean Power Plan will give entrepreneurs, corporations and venture capitalists the market signal they need to go full steam ahead with low-carbon innovations.  It may be one of the largest market opportunities in history to drive the development and implementation of clean energy on a national level.

The reductions in carbon pollution and the associated reductions in sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, and particulate matter that will happen as a result will generate health benefits of $55 to $93 billion per year in 2030.  In fact, from the soot and smog reductions alone, Americans will see 7 dollars in health benefits for every dollar invested through the Clean Power Plan.

President Obama has pointed out: “But every time America has set clear rules and better standards for our air, our water, and our children’s health – the warnings of the cynics have been wrong.” 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Monitoring Lethal Weapons


Yesterday, the Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter that had been submitted by Samuel Wilcox of Cooperstown.
“Government owes its people protections, one of which is the profound human need for safety.  For example, government does well monitoring motor vehicles through registration, driver licensing, traffic regulations, insurance, annual inspections, transfer of ownership documentation, and so on.  Why do we not question these governmental controls over our use of vehicles?  We realize these regulations protect our safety and without them the traffic death rates would soar.
“When it comes to another potential death-dealer (guns and ammunition ownership), however, many people, abetted by the NRA, see protective controls in a different light.  They see ownership of guns and ammunition as a right intended by our Constitution for as long as this country endures. 
“Though we are near the top of countries with high death rates by firearms and tragic mass shootings, great numbers of our people continue to insist that our Constitution protects their ownership of lethal weapons and stores of ammunition, the only purpose of which is to kill.  They insist this right is holy writ and is essential to our freedom as citizens. 
“I do not believe the writers of our Constitution anticipated the dangers to our society that the Second Amendment affords.  The intent was to enable citizens to form militias after the Revolutionary War, not to enable citizens to kill each other more easily.  The Second Amendment needs amending.
“Sadly, our government is not a model of restraint of violence.  In recent decades, we are unleashing wars abroad not for our security — as we declare — but to extend our world dominance and our access to resources.  We as a nation can’t teach and promote what we don’t practice.  Is that why our elected government keeps its head in the sand about this issue?”

Monday, June 09, 2014

Amusing Tactics


I applaud Nancy Seekamp’s letter of of June 6th, in the Delaware County Times, that provided valuable information concerning Lyme disease.  However, I was amused to learn that Republican Congressman Gibson is in the process of passing Lyme disease legislation, especially since he voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act over 51 times.  Focusing on a single disease isn’t going to do much to lower health care costs.

Fortunately for those with Lyme disease Obamacare has already been passed, and the disease can’t be considered a pre-existing condition.

Last month, outside special interest groups made their first ad buy in support of Congressman Gibson.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $350,000 on TV ads to promote their dedicated opponent of President Obama.  The Chamber of Commerce wants to protect corporate tax loopholes and cut Social Security and Medicare.  It’s no surprise that they’d donate money to a congressman, who initially supported a Ryan budget that made devastating cuts to Medicare.

Gibson is vulnerable in New York’s 19th District, because Obama won the district by more than 6 points in 2012.  He continues to be very critical of our president, but now that he needs to appear more moderate.  Therefore, he decided to voted against Paul Ryan’s most recent budget, and claims that he approves of an increase in the minimum wage.

None of these more moderate positions will ever make a real difference.  Gibson knows that House Speaker Boehner will continue to use the Hastert Rule to protect him from actually having to vote on an increase in the minimum wage, or for a Democratic proposal for infrastructure investments.

Although, Gibson admits that America needs more investment in roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, he opposed Obama’s stimulus package, which passed before he took office.  He also opposes two other signature policy proposals of Obama’s first two years, health care reform and a cap and trade program to reduce air pollution.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

More Jobs Needed


According to the Department of Labor our economy added 217,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate held steady at 6.3%.

For 8 years, the Bush administration didn’t payed attention to Wall Street because politicians repeatedly killed common-sense regulations.  We’ve finally recovered all the jobs lost during Bush’s financial crisis.  It took only two years to wipe out 8.7 million American jobs but more than four years to gain them all back.  This milestone indicates the jobs market has turned a corner, because now there are more jobs in our country than ever before.  The last time we were near this point was just before massive layoffs swept throughout the country causing the unemployment rate reached 10%.

It’ll take millions of more jobs to achieve the kind of healthy labor market America had before the recession.  Given population growth over the last four years, Heidi Shierholtz an economist with the Economic Policy Institute has calculated that 7 million more jobs, will be needed to achieve a healthy economy.

This has been the longest jobs recovery since the Department of Labor started tracking jobs data in 1939.  A surveyed of economist predict it will take two to three more years to return to full employment, which they define as an unemployment rate around 5.5%.

In fact, 51 straight months of private sector job growth is no small victory for the Obama administration especially, since we’ve witnessed how congressional Republicans have refused to participate in any kind of public or private partnership to improve our economy. 

Congressional Republicans have repeatedly blocked countless jobs bills, that sought to create jobs.  Had the American Jobs Act of 2013 passed, it would have created an additional 1.9 million jobs.

Fortunately, we are strong enough as a nation to keep going forward despite Republican obstructionism.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Rebutting Kurt Holcherr


Yesterday, the Delaware County Times published a letter submitted by Kurt Holcherr of Fleischmann.  His letter rebutted one in which, I was critical of  Congressman Gibson.
In response to my criticism, Mr. Holcherr wrote: “it didn’t make sense for him (Gibson) to be anti- middle class.”    Unfortunately, having been raised in the middle class is no guarantee that a politician won’t vote for legislation that makes life more difficult for the middle class.  Since 2000, the median per capita income for middle-class American has stagnated.  
Gibson and his fellow Republicans have turned their backs on working families.  They’re the same politicians, who can’t come up with a plan that provides healthcare, reduces carbon pollution, or ensures a livable wage.  They include extreme right-wingers who want to abolish the concept of the minimum wage, and allow people to work for 4 dollars an hour.  Basically, they want to make sure that our government isn’t doing anything to help the poor, sick, elderly, children, and working families.
Mr. Holcherr’s letter actually confirmed, that Gibson vote to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, by pointing out that he voted for a 5 person bipartisan commission to run the bureau.  With Republicans currently controlling the House a bipartisan commission would at best be 2 Democrats and 3 Republicans.  Gibson voted to insure a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would be weak and ineffectual.  That type of bureau certainly wouldn’t have forced companies to refunded 6 million customers $400 million for deceptive marketing and charging unreasonable fees.
Although, Democrats have a majority in the Senate, Republicans have been demanding a supermajority of 60 votes to get legislation, and executive or judicial nominations passed.
In our Constitution, there are five specific instances where a Senate supermajority is required.  A two- thirds majority vote is required to impeach a president, to ratify a treaty, to expel a senator, to overcome a veto, and to amend the Constitution.
In the history of our country, there have been 168 filibusters of executive and judicial nominations.  Half of them have occurred during the Obama administration.  Since President Obama took office, Republicans have embarked on an unprecedented obstruction campaign against his agenda.  Presidential nominations of federal district court judges have been filibustered a total of 23 times.  They’ve used the filibuster an average of 14.4 times per year to block Obama’s nominations.  That’s 14 times higher than during the Bush administration.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Draft Dodger


Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff, Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked if Dick Cheney has the right to criticize the deal President Obama made to get Army Sergeant Bergdahl released by the Taliban after 5 years, in a swap for five top terrorists leaders, who had been held at Guantanamo for over 12 years.

Col Wilkerson answered: “I’m really amazed that anybody will give Dick Cheney airtime anymore.  This man orchestrated the downfall of Valerie Plame and had his chief of staff indicted for obstruction of justice because of it.  This man who got five deferments himself, and I’ll say, he’s a draft dodger.”

Valerie Plame is the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who wrote an article in the "New York Times", which contradicted Bush's assertion in his 2003 State of The Union Address that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium from Niger.

Valerie Plame Wilson worked as a covert agent to recruit foreigners who knew murky deals involving WMDs.  Republican columnist Bob Novak revealed Valerie Plame Wilson's identity as a covert CIA agent, and acknowledged that he learned her identity from a top official in the White House.  By revealing Mrs. Wilson's identity, the Bush regime served notice to all other conscientious citizens that there would be a price to be paid for contradicting President Bush’s false allegations.

In October of 2005, Libby has indictment of five counts of false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice against Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was found guilty of four of those counts.  Trial testimony made it clear that Bush had secretly declassified a portion of the prewar intelligence estimate that allowed Libby to leak the information.

Judge Reggie Walton sentenced Libby to 30 months in prison.  Bush said that he would not rule out giving Libby a pardon to wipe away the felony record.  However, Cheney wanted Bush to immediately pardon Libby and claimed, that Libby: “shouldn’t have been left on the battlefield,” when talking about the legal processes that had taken place.  

Col. Wilkerson pointed out: “The comment that he made about leaving soldiers on the battlefield, I find unreasonable because Cheney’s never been on a battlefield.  Cheney’s never been a soldier.  He went out of his way not to be a soldier, and in my view, shouldn’t even be speaking about things military because he has absolutely zero knowledge of things military.”  

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Andrew Stammel


Dan Rorick and Andrew Stammel of Oneonta have been criticizing each others recently published letters in the Oneonta Daily Star.  The following is Mr. Stammel’s response to what in my opinion was a ridiculous letter that was submitted by Dan Rodrick.
“This is a response to Dan Rorick’s May 28 letter, since it referenced me. 
“Although I appreciate Mr. Rorick’s passion about the role of government, he should further study the history of property rights and law, as his letter is riddled with logical and factual inaccuracies.  Eminent domain is indeed a serious infringement on private property rights and should be avoided if possible.  Many of us are especially concerned with its expanding definition since the Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo decision.  Although we may object to an act of government, it doesn’t make the act ‘illegitimate’ and certainly doesn’t delegitimize the state itself. 
“If by calling me a statist, Mr. Rorick suggests I believe power should be handed to state and federal governments, he is incorrect.  The best decisions are often made close to home, such as Oneonta’s recent successful banning of fracking through home rule.  If statism is a belief that the state and government are legitimate, then yes, I support rule of law.  Mr. Rorick advocates for the dissolution of the state. 
“Anarchy would be a disaster, putting people at the mercy of those with the largest pocketbook, most property or biggest arsenal.  Our Constitution, laws, government and uniformed officers (local, state and federal) are legitimate and are more desirable than rule by gangs and warlords.  Mr. Rorick wrongly suggests (two days after Memorial Day) our military has illegitimately killed millions of innocents.  Many of us have family members who have given their lives for our country.  America isn’t perfect, but it is still the greatest force for good in the world; democracy is worth fighting for.  Luckily there are far more people who still believe in the promise and potential of America than there are cynics who suggest democracy is illegitimate.”

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Money in Politics


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced, that he’d support bringing to the floor a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to regulate money in politics. 

Senator Reid admitted: “I understand that we Senate Democrats are proposing something that’s no small thing.  Amending our Constitution is not something any of us should take lightly.  But the flood of special interest money into our American democracy is one of the glaring threats the system of government has ever faced.”

Harry Reid’s Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell has fought to eliminate caps on campaign contributions.  He was even the lead named plaintiff on a Supreme Court challenge to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

Connecticut’s Democratic Senator Chris Murphy supports the idea of  a constitutional amendment.  He insists: “I don’t think it’s a news flash that this constitutional amendment is not likely to pass.  But the point is we need to wake the American people up to what’s happening.  This is not about politics or about energizing our base.  This is about trying to inspire a movement of regular average everyday people out there, to recognize that there are 190 or so people out there that are 60 percent of donors to super PACs, who, by the way, are now spending more money in campaigns than individual candidates are together, that they’re on the verge of taking over our democracy, on the idea that somebody like Sheldon Adelson could advertise he is going to back a Republican presidential candidate and then command individual audiences at his house, with half of the Republican field tells you right now that we are on the verge of losing our democracy.

“Adelson is not doing that because he has personal interest in the race, he wants to be sure his business interests are backed by the Republican presidential candidate.  That’s what’s happening with him, and the Koch brothers.  And it’s time that we had a debate on the Senate floor, if not to pass the amendment to wake folks up as to what’s happening.”

According to Center for Responsive Politics between 2006 and 2012, the next election is on track to be the darkest money election in history.  And, every election is going to get worst, unless something changes either legally or constitutionally.

The Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson are private citizens, who have decided to grab the reins of government through private spending with no transparency.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Voting Rights


In 1965, Congress passed the landmark Voting Rights Act, outlawing racial discrimination in elections.

In the Shelby County v. Holder case of 2013, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court overturned a key provision of that law, crippling the federal government’s power to prevent states from reverting to Jim Crow-era disenfranchisement tactics.

States like Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia immediately put forward new voter restriction measures with the barely concealed intent, and the well documented impact, of depressing turnout among African-American, and Latinos.

With the departure of Justice John Paul Stevens in 2010, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the leader of the court’s four member liberal wing.  She characterized the ruling by conservative justices in the Shelby County v. Holder case as gutting the Voting Rights Act was:“ like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

The Supreme Court made it easier for super-rich corporate donors to buy elections, by opening the flood gates for corporations to spend massive amounts of  money.  

Things have gotten much worse.  By a 5-4 vote this conservative Supreme Court voted to give very rich individuals even more power, much like Citizens United did for corporations.  

The McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling means the very wealth can dole out up to $5.9 million, per election cycle to political candidates and parties.  Five conservative Justices have scored another regressive rulings that severely threaten our democracy.

The court has granted billionaires and powerful corporations increasing power to spend fortunes influencing the outcomes of elections.  If we care about the core values of our country, we must not permit our country to reverse course on the basic right to vote that ensures the basic principle of “one person, one vote” for every American.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Special Interests


Historically, special interests and their allies in Congress have repeatedly claimed that guidelines to limit the increasing amounts of carbon pollution found in the air that we breath will kill jobs and destroy the economy.  However, every time our government has set clear standards for air, water, and our children’s health, those warnings from cynics have been wrong.  They warned that doing something about the smog choking our cities, and acid rain poisoning our lakes, would kill business, but it didn’t.  Our economy kept growing, as our air got cleaner, and acid rain has been dramatically cut.  We don’t have to choose between the health of our economy and the health of our children.
The truth is, when we ask our workers and businesses to innovate, they do.  When we restricted cancer-causing chemicals in plastics and leaded fuel in our cars, American chemists came up with better substitutes.  When we phased out the gases that depleted the ozone layer, our workers built better refrigerators and air conditioners.  The fuel standards the Obama administration put in place several years ago didn’t cripple automakers; the American auto industry retooled, and today, they’re selling more hybrids, plug-in, and fuel-efficient models than ever before.
President Obama has refused: “to condemn our children to a planet that’s beyond fixing.  The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way.  But a low-carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come.  America will build that engine.  America will build the future.  A future that’s cleaner, more prosperous, and full of good jobs – a future where we can look our kids in the eye and tell them we did our part to leave them a safer, more stable world.”

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Reducing Carbon Pollution


President Obama has outlined new actions by the Environmental Protection Agency to cut dangerous carbon pollution.  The plan builds on the efforts already being taken by many companies, cities and states.  Those guidelines will reduce carbon pollution from power plants, and eventually we’ll build a clean energy economy.  Obama presented this new plan at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he visited children whose asthma is aggravated by air pollution.
The cost of climate change can be measured in lost lives and livelihoods, lost homes and businesses, as well as, higher prices for food, insurance, and rebuilding.
One of the best things this nation can do for our economy, health, and environment is to lead the world in producing cleaner, and safer energy.  Thanks to the investments made by congressional Democrats in the Recovery Act, the electricity America generates from wind has tripled.  Energy from the sun has increased more than tenfold.  Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar.  Plus, every solar panel pounded into place is by a worker whose job cannot be shipped overseas.
Today, we’re also wasting less energy.  The distance new cars and trucks will go on a gallon of gas will doubled by the middle of the next decade.  Americans will be saving money at the pump, while families and businesses should be able to save billions with more efficient homes, buildings, and appliances.
About 40% of our carbon pollution comes from power plants.  Setting higher standards to cut carbon pollution at our power plants is not new, but there are no national limits to the amount of carbon pollution that existing plants can pump into the air we breathe.  Our government limits the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury, sulfur, and arsenic that power plants put in our air and water, but currently they can dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air.
Last year, Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to build on the efforts of many states, cities, and companies, and come up with commonsense guidelines for reducing dangerous carbon pollution from our power plants.  Now, he’s unveiling proposed guidelines, which will cut down on the carbon pollution, smog, and soot that threaten the health of vulnerable children and the elderly.  It’s estimated that in the first year those standards go into effect, up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks should be avoided.