Saturday, September 27, 2008

NV Council for History Educators Conference on Public Lands Day

What a great day! I attended the Nevada Council for History Educators Conference at the Boulder Dam Hotel in Boulder City, NV. The conference, coordinated by Dr. Linda Karen Miller, was about Boulder City and Hoover Dam: Then and Now: Teaching and Writing Local History. Senator Harry Reid was originally scheduled to speak about his book on the history of Searchlight, NV. However, as we all know, he is busy on Capitol Hill taking care of more important matters relating to our nation's economy.
Former Nevada State Assemblywoman and current Nevada State Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, both representing Boulder City spoke about past history and current issues facing Boulder City.

Former Nevada State Assemblywoman Gene Segerblom

Nevada State Assemblyman Lynn Stewart

Following these two wonderful speakers were National Park Service Ranger Amanda Rowland, who spoke about historical resources around and at the bottom of Lake Mead, and Dr. Fran Campbell, who spoke about the history of African-Americans and the building of Hoover Dam.

Dr. Fran Campbell

National Park Service Ranger Amanda Rowland

Conference attendees from both northern and southern Nevada also toured the Boulder City Museum in the Boulder City Hotel and cruised on Lake Mead to Hoover Dam on board Forever Earth.

Also while on board, Dr. Linda Miller spoke about using the Library of Congress to teach with primary sources. All-in-all, it was an informative and enjoyable conference.

I also enjoyed watching people take advantage of Lake Mead National Recreation Area on Public Lands Day, where the weather was partly cloudy and the temperature was approximately 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Lake Mead is about a 40 minute drive from the center of Las Vegas. Lake Mead's water originates from a combination of snowmelt from more northerly states into the Colorado River, and runoff from rain along the river's entire meandering path through 9 western states.

The runoff is the reason it is so important not to put anything on your plants, lawns or on the ground that you wouldn't want to drink. Any chemical you put on things outside, gets washed into storm drains and eventually flows into the freshwater rivers, lakes and streams that people and animals use for drinking water. This is another reason we shouldn't be using the planet's freshwater - which is less than 1% of all water found on earth - as coolant, especially for nuclear power plants that leave it contaminated for many half-lives or thousands of years. That is not clean energy!

The lake is now 115 feet below it's highest level, as shown by the more lighter-colored "bathtub ring" in the second, third, fourth, and fifth pictures below. There is great concern about the possibility that Lake Mead will be dry in the next few decades. This will directly impact the availability of potable water in the highly populated, arid, desert Southwest and the bountiful farmlands Southern California, further downstream, that produce a percentage of our nation's (and the world's) fruit and vegetables. Here is a great example of something that, when it happens in Vegas, will absolutely not stay in Vegas. It also serves to illustrate how a change in precipitation patterns in one part of our country greatly impacts the entire country and beyond. We desperately need to do something about global warming.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"To Coup or Not To Coup?" Asked a Little Boy

Here's a story that may or may not be true. You decide. You react to it how you will.

The Man Who Would Be K...President

Years Ago
Once upon a time, there was a little boy. This little boy listened attentively to his grandpa, Prescat, tell stories about taking over and running a country. They'll make so much money that they'll never want for anything and they'll live like kings! They'll control the lives of all their subjects, take over their subjects' lands and money. They'll run the corporations and be all-powerful! The boy dreams...maybe I could be king...or maybe I'll just call myself president so I can fool the people...

Some years later...
The little boy has become a man, and recollects the stories his grandfather once told him. He considers how his family can best convert them from fiction into reality...

To begin with, my father has finally become President of the United States and we'll build more wealth during his tenure when my uncle and our other cronies create a savings in loan scandal. This will enable our family to make a dry run at putting into place some of the elements of our plan and provide some capital with which we can put our precious plan into full action during my reign, oops, I'd better say tenure, as President. We're doing to this to test what the American people will allow, and will wait until the time is right to make our move.

January 20, 2001
News Release: Small Streets Journal
A new President takes the Oath of Office saying, "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

News Release: Small Streets Journal
After the other barn failures, bailouts and takeovers, Woo Moo, the nation's largest savings and loan cow, was seized by the Federal Barn Insurance Cowporation. This is, not only the second savings and loan cow scandal, it is the largest cow failure in US history, and the history of the entire world. Right after that, it was rescued by a Morgan horse that Chased and caught it's assets at a discownt. Now the Morgan owns the mortcowges of a huge amount of US citizens.

The man thinks, we're almost ready for a complete takeover. The best thing to do is to hide in plain sight. Confuse the public with partial truths. We must deal with that blogger. I know, I'll just tell the people that there's a terrorist, a blogger who is trying to spread disinformation to undermine the government and that we have the terrorist in custody. Everything is under control. Well, time to make my address to the nation.

"Good morning, friends. The government is secure and our economy is fundamentally sound. In an effort for my administration to remain transparent, I must disclose the words of a blogger the FBI and Department of Homeland Security have identified as a terrorist bent upon inciting panic in the populace. As you read the blogger's words, you'll be able to see for yourself that this terrorist has a very active imagination. My friends, the terrorist is already in custody thanks to the rapid response, sharing of information and teamwork between agents in both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. So, now, all will be fine, so long as we quickly pass the Bailout Legislation. If we don't, I'm certain that the collapse of our economy is imminent!

Friends, here is the entirely erroneous statement that the Blogger published:"

A Government in Shadow is Rising Up to the Light of Day

The United States is under attack. With elections coming in November and their free reign of power and money acquisition in jeopardy, they have pulled out all stops to implement their final power and financial-grabs, get all they can without a fight, and fully take over our country! Yes, I am saying their coup is almost complete.

The Plan: Overthrow the United States in 8 Years

Steps to Takeover:
1. Place your people in positions of power, such as Governor, so you can steal elections through fraud, voter disenfranchisement, corrupt officials, and funny math.
2. Use fear and terror to create panic and strip the people of their Constitutional freedoms, including their right to privacy and habeas corpus. (US Constitution, Article I The Legislative Branch, Section 9 Limits on Congress: The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.)
3. Use intimidation and harassment to prevent demonstrations and written and visual communications in protest of oue actions, including H.R. 1959.
4. Use unconstitutional domestic spying to intimidate citizens, create lists of opponents, and create files on Americans, including their personal and financial information.
5. Take control of the press by creating corporate monopolies and use the threat of withdrawal of advertising dollars to influence editorial policy and truthful reporting of the facts. Example: Fox News report on Monsanto - see YouTube for video.
6. Arrest journalists and photographers, brand them as terrorists, and put some on the "No Fly" list, preventing them from doing their jobs.
7. "Encourage" the largest private army in the world to be formed and remain on US soil. Hire them, as a test run, to occupy and patrol New Orleans fully armed and with orders to shoot to kill, after Hurricane Katrina. Hire them, paying them much higher wages than your own country's soldiers, to fight alongside those soldiers in your illegal war. Make certain this army is in three locations in your country, forming a triangular pattern from which they can deploy to enforce marshal law, when it is declared.
8. Steal power away from the Legislative Branch and put people in the Judicial Branch to create the greatest imbalance of governmental power in American history.
9. Appoint people to high positions in such Departments as FEMA, FDA, OMB, and EPA who refuse to recuse themselves while, essentially still-working for their former private-sector employees (as they go right back to working for them after they complete their task of influence-wielding) to pass/influence policies and legislation favorable to private-sector employers. These same policies were unfavorable, unhealthy, and downright dangerous to the health and security of the American people and their environment. Some of these private-sectors companies include chemical companies that create genetically modified seed and food, chemical companies that still remain unsecured from terrorist infiltration and attack, oil and financial companies that have fixed prices and speculated to further drive up prices.
10. Continue to provide subisidies and tax relief to major corporations making record-breaking profits, to transfer public US dollars into the private sector.
11a. Create an illegal war based upon false information.
12b. Give cost-plus, no-bid contracts to our friends and former co-workers.
13. Take the budget surplus and create the largest budget deficit in our country's history, essentially transferring billions of dollars of government money, the people's tax dollars, into "corporate" hands.
14. Refuse to follow, and break the rule of law of the USA.
15. Refuse to follow/break international law, the Geneva Convention, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
16. Create a second, false "bubble" in oil prices, creating fear and panic in the population (for the third time), creating the false "want" that has the unsuspecting public pressure legislators to "Drill, Baby, Drill." This will open more public lands (on- and off-shore) to private sector corporate control and more profits, when these same corporations haven't been drilling the lands they already have, and knowing full well that it won't reduce the price anyway (since we own less than 4% of the world's oil supply and don't have any say in setting the price - that would be under OPEC's control).
17a. Manipulate the law, regulations, and the financial markets to create widespread foreclosures, corporate and financial institution failures.
17b. Through widespread foreclosures, strip American citizens of private property ownership, putting their private property into the hands of the Executive Branch of the government and our friends in the private sector.
17c. Transfer over $1 trillion dollars of United States citizens' money into private-sector hands through already completed bailouts and takeovers.

What they're doing right now...
18. Force legislation through Congress, using the same-old terror and fear-based panic by saying demise is imminent, to transfer further Constitutional and Congressional power and another $1 trillion to the Executive Branch/Treasury, where it will be placed into private-sector hands, including foreign governments and foreign companies, without any oversight.

The Resistance:
Citizens far and wide call, write and visit the offices of their legislators to oppose the Bailout. They take to the streets, en masse, to protest. Journalists, photographers and videographers of local, state, national, and international press organizations widely report this groundswell of protest. Citizens demand impeachment of top leaders (US Constitution, Article 2, Section 4 - Disqualification. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.) and the arrest of those responsible for the collapse. People march on the Capitol, as was done in the '60's in protest of the Vietnam War. The people work together, as one, to put a stop to this.

The next steps, if The Resistance loses:
19. Take control of American's savings, retirement and investment accounts, making it impossible for citizens to have the money to fight back, buy essential goods and services.
20. Declare marshal law and institute country-wide curfews.
21. Confiscate all private weapons.
22. Shut down internet communications.
23. Require citizens to carry and show government identification cards.
24. Limit travel of all citizens.
25. ID chip citizens, instead of tattooing them, as did the Nazis.
26. Round up all those who protest.
27. Send protesters to waiting FEMA detention camps. (See YouTube videos.) They're surrounded by barbed wire pointing inwards to prevent escape and are situated along major interstate, rail, and/or airline routes - and, yes, they really DO exist. Question: Why are there millions of FEMA coffins stored alongside roads? Look for them in YouTube videos, again - yes, REALLY!
28. Reconstitute the government, rewarding cronies and friends and detaining opponents (see #27).
29. Figure out what to do with all those people (see #27), because, GOSH they cost A WHOLE LOT OF ALL OUR NEWLY ACQUIRED MONEY to transport, keep fed, watered, clothed, housed, and guarded!
30. Perhaps use all of those coffins. After all, we wouldn't want our hard-earned money going to waste on those people, just average citizens, would we?

The President thinks, "If only the people really knew how close that blogger is to the truth! Where are we in our plan now? Hmmmm...
Habeas corpus...gone
Right to privacy...gone
Freedom of press...reduced
Freedom of speech...reduced
Universal Declaration of Human Rights...ignored
Geneva Convention...ignored
Extension of Executive Powers, including over other branches of government, thereby increasing control over the people...done
Disregard for US Constitution and rule of law...done
Control over the peoples' finances through the largest transfer of wealth in human the tune of now over 2 trillion dollars over the past two weeks and completed today!
Takeover and control of private property...continuing.
Our plan is almost complete!"

News Release: Small Streets Journal
Economic Collapse Requires Government Reconstruction
As citizens of the Homeland struggle to pay their bills while corporations and financial firms collapse, the government has made a bold move to restructure itself. The newly restructured government has declared marshal law and restricted all travel for the safety of all citizens. Citizens who have lost their homes or who cannot pay their bills will be taken to FEMA camps that will provide for their daily needs until they can, once again, stand on their own two feet. The Homeland will be implementing further changes as necessary.

And the few of the coup lived happily ever after.


Is this patently pathetic paranoia or tyranny's terrifying truth?

Does the fact that the final steps in the coup happen in a leap year and the year with the most auspicious date in the Chinese calendar of 08-08-08 serve to guarantee it's success? Okay, now I'm getting silly, but one has to look for humor of any kind wherever one may find it, in order to keep one's chin up.

Check out the Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism:
and the economy of Fascism:

Since it may have been a while since you've read it, here is the link to The Declaration of Independence, in which our founding fathers explain why they revolted against the King of England in order to form a new nation. I think you'll be surprised at the similarities between the experiences of the British subjects over 200 years ago and those of the American people today.

In addition, here are the links to the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Autumn in the Desert

This is the first day of Autumn, one of my two favorite seasons. This is a beautiful time to live in the desert, one which many of us have anticipated while hibernating all summer in our air-conditioned homes. In this part of of the country, we begin to experience the cool, breezy weather of 92 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and nights that are in the high 60's. We can still comfortably wear shorts and t-shirts. The leaves don't begin to change color here until much later. Instead, we see a resurgence of blooms in formerly heat-stressed flowering plants, which have endured searing, dry summer temperatures as high as 114 degrees or more. It's almost like a second Spring. This is the time of year I love being outdoors, enjoying my backyard garden, an "officially" Certified Wildlife Habitat, with its small waterfall and pond. Relaxing outside, I watch hummingbirds fly from plant to plant, drinking in the nectar of life, and see a dragonfly come to rest, alighting on a pine needle. What a joy!

Welfare for the Rich and Powerful

Well, we're really in a fine mess. Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs is the fellow-architect, along with Bush, Cheney, Gramm, and various and sundry Representatives, Senators, and other government officials, of this crumbling financial trojan elephant. They now want us to rush out willy-nilly, panic-driven and unthinking, and write them a $700 billion check signed by the American people.

The very people who paved the way for this financial collapse through deregulation and removal of consumer/citizen protections want us to hand them this check without the hindrance of oversight, transparency, or public hearings, simply to bail out their buddies, the leaders in corporate and financial America who were their partners in this collapse. It was even leaked by someone in Congress that Paulson was planning on using part of this money to buy his buddy's shares above cost! Like the constant terror alerts that brought us to panic and enabled them to convince us that we should sign away our Constitution and Bill of Rights, they have purposefully, intentionally and with malice aforethought brought us to a new and different level of financial and personal security panic, thinking we'll be stupid enough to sign our future financial freedom over to them, as well. This would be like handing over the hen to the fox already in the hen-house, enabling them and, as such, our government to have unprecedented financial control over the market and the future income of United States citizens. They are even now also changing laws to pave the way for investment firms to become banks, allowing their buddies to have control over large amounts of this money.

I, for one, don't trust a single one of them; they have lied and cheated their way through the past eight years of this administration. In most other countries, Heads of State and top officials in government who have so publicly and spectacularly failed their people, actually resign (wishful thinking in relation to our leaders, on my part). But, not here. So much for ethics, but then we already knew that. What makes anyone think their current plan is good for us, the average, lower-income Americans in this country? We're the people who have gotten nothing out of this administration but the loss of: our Constitutional freedoms, habeas corpus, the ability to more easily file for bankruptcy, the value of our dollar abroad, our standing in the international community, our jobs, the value of our homes (if we still have one), the ability to pay our bills, and now our financial security. For all this, we pay a higher proportion of taxes to income than do the upper income citizens.

On the other hand, the rich and corporate elite have paid a non-progressive, inequitable, lower share of taxes. In fact, now-deceased multi-billionaire Leona Helmsley used to boast that she never paid taxes, stating that they were for the little people. Don't think she's alone in this. They also have the ability to easily file for bankruptcy, get multiple loans and have the option of negotiating their payments, enjoyed a thriving speculative market geared toward profits for high-end investors, and a have a safety net, their golden parachute, when their "imprudent" business practices fail. They still get to walk away from their failed companies with millions or billions of dollars, without any penalty for their "imprudence." If we go bankrupt, lose our life savings or small investments, or lose our job or house due to their "imprudence"...we walk away with little or nothing. What a contrast. The gap between rich and poor only gets wider.

Since when do we live in a totalitarian state? They knew beforehand what would happen when they erased the protective regulations put in place after the Stock Market Crash of 1929. It doesn't take a genius to predict what would happen! Seriously, this is not rocket science. We're now living with the predicted and planned outcome of this ultra-large-scale operation.

If the American people, Congressional leadership, Department of Justice, and the FBI don't stop them in their tracks, they will have effectively fullfilled their plan to take control of a large portion of our country's wealth. The aftermath will allow the architects involved to get away with a large share of these profits, leaving the American citizen to pay for their criminal excesses. How nice and convenient for them!

As far as I'm concerned, all those involved in the financial collapse of our country are home-grown terrorists who should be charged with treason. They have put their personal profits, excessive financial greed and hunger for power above the financial security of our nation, making us vulnerable to all forms of predatory attacks, financial and otherwise, from both internal and external sources. They have also shackled the hands of future Presidents and legislators, and stymied any expenditures in the areas of health care, infrastructure improvement, alternative energy development, and any number of other areas because "we the people" will instead be spending the next few decades paying down these criminals' accrued debt. If this isn't treason, I don't know what is!

To let the President and your Congressional leaders know your thoughts, you can write to them on
All you have to do is look on the top, right of your screen for Find Your Officials, enter your zip code in the box, click "GO." This will take you to the page where you can Write Your Elected Officials - click on Federal just under that title. If you're in a split District, you may need to go one further step and enter your +4 zip or your complete address. Then you write your letter, finish filling in all other requested information and click submit. It's that easy to contact them all in one, fell swoop!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Five Secretaries of State: Advice to the New President, on CNN

CNN's Christiane Amanpour and Frank Sesno brought together five former Secretaries of State, Warren Christopher, Henry Kissenger, Madeline Albright, James Baker, and Colin Powell, to give advice to the new President of the United States. All five unanimously agreed that one of the first things the new president should do is close Guantanamo. They also agreed that the United States should be a leader in combating global warming and climate change, and excising waterboarding from our interrogations. The next president should look to cooperation with other nations, as well, improving our respect around the world.

In relation to dealing with Russia, Powell stated we should look at both sides and truly analyze the entire strategic situation before we leap to the favor of one side. Strategic, not tactical means of dealing with them should be used, said Baker. As for Iran, Albright says it is important to discover the right level at which you might meet to begin talks with Iran. Can the world live with a nuclear Iran? They agreed that once you know how to create 5% enrichment, it is easily scalable to 90% enrichment. Albright believes we need to better understand the culture and economy of Iran and stop vilifying Iran, which only serves to empower them. All five concur that we should negotiate with Iran. Many of these leaders believed there should be talks with Iran initiated at the level of Secretary of State. Kissinger believes that as a negotiator, you should tell the other side what you're trying to achieve and the outcome you have in mind, so that they have something to react to. He states we should make the content of negotiations clear.

On the question of Iraq, the Pentagon believes the war in Iraq is winding down and Afghanistan is ratcheting up. Powell believes we should 'get into the Afghan government,' create a relationship with Pakistan to bring control over the tribal border areas and better deal with the Taliban. Baker states we must beef up our soft power areas including foreign assistance and diplomatic personnel in order to reconstruct these countries. Our Department of Defense budget is 20% higher than that of the State Department. Hard power has been overutilized over soft power. Even Gates stated that military solutions cannot completely solve the problem. In relation to Israel and Palestine, Baker says we should engage with Syria and attempt to pull them away from their marriage of convenience with Iran. Try to make Syria our ally, instead.

All in all, this evening's interviews were powerfully informative. I hope that both Presidential candidates listen to their collective advice.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Todd Palin, Unofficial Co-Governor?

Why is Todd Palin so involved in his wife's gubinatorial job? Is it normal for a governor's spouse to be cc'd on official correspondence, attend official meetings (including those that would normally be behind closed doors), and without the Governor, go on state-paid-for flights to survey mineral deposits? Is he a state employee or just unofficially job-sharing the Office of Governor with his spouse? Why was he involved in Troopergate in the first place? Why is he refusing to be questioned about his involvement? These are all valid questions that need to be answered BEFORE the Presidential election.

Sent to AC 360 - The Economic Mess

This economic mess is NOT due to the mortgage meltdown! It is due to greedy individuals and corporate entities that have been aided and abetted in their quest for more and more dollars to line their already overflowing pockets by the poor economic leadership of this administration. When you combine their bottomless greed with Phil Gramm's actions and the poor economic leadership of Paulson and President Bush, you get a financial crisis. Here's a reminder of what Phil Gramm did. He's the person who put in the loopholes that allowed corporate giants like Enron to get away with their greed and abuse. He also removed the protective regulations that were put in place after the stock market crash of 1929 to prevent a recurrence by maintaining reasonable control and oversight over the financial market.

This was sent to the AC 360 Blog, but not selected for publication.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama in Las Vegas

Barack Obama was just here in Vegas, so I thought I'd share a few images with you. During his speech, Obama blasted McCain on his two-decade long history of deregulation that has lead our country into its current economic debacle. Obama reminded us that, in 2006, he himself had submitted a bill to prevent mortgage lending practices that encourage fraud and abuse in order to avoid this type of fiasco from occurring. He also questioned McCain's claim that he is a change agent and would go against the good old boy network. Obama wondered how McCain could possibly do that when he had hired seven high-paid lobbyists to work on his campaign and that, as for change, he has been in Washington for over twenty years, voting nearly the same way most of the time. Later on in his speech, Obama reiterated his position on tax breaks for the 95% of Americans who earn less than $250,000, and his intent to ensure that all young Americans can afford a college education through his Dream Act. He also spoke about the dire need for funding education and increasing teacher pay. Finally, he called upon all his supporters to get out, canvas, call potential voters, and register people to vote.

Obama Saying, "Gimme Five"

I thought I'd also include a shot I took of Clint Holmes after his performance and before Barack Obama arrived to give his speech.

The Financial Crisis: Recession or Depression?

The current administration has done a great job of distraction. They have formed committees to study problems in order to purposefully and in all actuality get nothing done. They are giftedly performing wholesale obfuscation of the truth through the use of lies, distraction, and dissemination of disinformation. Just because the government doesn't want to tell us the truth doesn't change the facts, challenges and hard reality of the lives average Americans lead. Thanks to Phil Gramm, his Enron loophole and deregulating the banking industry, as well as all the other authors of this new financial reality, I guess we really are now a "nation of whiners" in their eyes.

Our reality is that we have moved from a recession and are rapidly entering a depression (the financial kind, not the mental, implying it's in our imagination kind, Mr. Gramm). I know the rich don't say this and that our government says the inflation rate is only 5.4%. I honestly don't see where they get this number because the average American is seeing much different numbers and could probably relate to the term depression much more readily.

Americans have seen 605,000 jobs disappear just since the beginning of this year. We have experienced a 35.6% increase in gas prices, a 17.3% increase in household energy costs, an increase of 7.5% in food prices, a decrease of approximately 20% in home prices and a record amount of foreclosures, and only a 3.3% increase in the average salary, all over the past year. Our two major mortgage lenders and leading insurance firm had to be taken over or bailed out by the federal government to prevent a further collapse of our economy. Former blue chip banks have gone bankrupt or are about to be bought for pennies on the dollar. The Dow has dropped nearly 1,000 points in two days, and this has lead to a domino effect to other world markets. The Russian market has collapsed and had to be shut down to prevent further damage.

If this financial crisis is not a depression, I don't know what is. And all through this economic crisis...our President, George W. Bush, has remained conspicuously absent and silent. Not one appearance before the American people. Not one word spoken to explain his take on the situation, what he plans to do to rectify it, or information about what American citizens should do to make it through this crisis. Nothing. Absolutely nothing!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Greed vs. Need: The Bailout

The greed!
I, and most other people, know that to get a home loan, in very simple terms, you should have a 20% down payment, or close to that and you'll pay PMI, AND be able to afford a monthly payment of approximately 25% of your net income. Yet, the S&L's (again!!!), banks, other mortgage lenders and their loan employees loaned money to people who could not meet these basic criteria, even to the point of employees fudging numbers to make the loan and increase their profits/commissions. Then there are the well-to-do "flippers" who helped drive up home prices and contributed to the housing bubble, in order to line their own pockets. When they fixed up homes and drove up the prices, they also made most of those homes unaffordable for a large number of people who could have afforded the home at the original price and fixed up that home over time, when they could afford to make upgrades.

Now, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Washington Mutual, etc., etc. etc. have failed, gone bankrupt or have been taken over by the federal government, using citizen's tax dollars. So, now, people's tax dollars are essentially paying for other people's mortgages and the failing/bankrupt businesses and business practices of irresponsible lenders who have pocketed billions in unsavory mortgage loans...until the weight of these bad loans toppled right over onto them. Then, they cry out, "Please help me!?" I'm so disgusted at this!!! All this is thanks to an irresponsible government who just stood by and watched as all this happened, doing nothing to protect its citizens.

Then we have the loansharks...oops, I meant credit card companies. This industry has been deregulated and is out to squeeze every drop of money they can out of the average U.S. citizen. The federal government has, again, just stood by and watched as this has happened, doing nothing to protect its citizens.

The average citizen pays a larger percentage of their income in taxes than do citizens in higher income brackets. The average citizen's ability to use income tax deductions has been removed or reduced and their ability to file bankruptcy has been reduced. The higher income brackets tend to be able to use the remaining tax breaks and can more easily file for bankruptcy under current rules. The entire tax structure favors the weathiest citizens and corporations, some of whom laugh all the to the bank bragging how they didn't even need to pay a penny in income taxes after filing all their deductions and using all their tax breaks! Here, the federal government has actively made this happen, doing nothing to protect the majority of its citizens to gain the favor of and further increase the wealth of its already-wealthiest citizens.

Sounds a lot like business as usual in Washington, D.C. All for the corporations and the rich, the heck with the average citizen. The modus operandi for the past 8 years has been greed, excess, and corruption in government, on Wall Street, in the Banking and Mortgage industry, and in major Corporations (in particular, Big Oil). Shame on those in government who were put in their positions of trust to serve and protect all the citizens of the United States of America, not just the wealthy!

The need?
Well, the need is in the emptied pockets and bank accounts of the average United States citizen who has financed all of this under extreme duress. We're dealing with the loss of our homes, record-high fuel, food, health care, and energy prices, as well as exorbitant, loanshark-like credit card interest rates and unaffordable housing in our largest cities. Many of us can't afford health care. We have the highest rate of unemployment in over a decade. Our jobs are being sent overseas to "fair trade" partners and other countries whose citizens earn far less than do average U.S. citizens who only ask for a reasonable, living wage. The tainted and poisoned products that are produced overseas are then imported into this country, killing people and pets, and endangering the health of all citizens.

The gap between the middle-class and the wealthy is the widest it has been since the late 1920's. Unions, who have always worked to protect the average worker and obtain for them a living wage, are ridiculed by politicians and, of course, corporations and business owners. Union power and influence to protect the working-class is also at it lowest point in many decades. Through the 1960's, most average-income households only needed one income to survive. Today, many average-income households require more than two incomes to survive. People are working two, three and four jobs just to make ends meet or are trying to work a full-time job and go to school at night to better themselves and their families.

More of the need...our nation's children.
Now, because their parents are working so much, a significant percentage of our nation's children are raising themselves: teachers are seeing young elementary school children trying to take care of their even younger siblings, including getting them up, dressed, and to and from school. There is no adult at home to watch them, academically prepare them to enter school, teach them manners and to respect themselves and others, or to even check their homework, before or after school. They may see a parent for a few minutes between jobs. Other children are in abusive situations, in homes with domestic violence, or in homes where parents are constantly fighting with each other (many times over finances or due to financial stress) and come to school just to feel safe or to simply have some peace and quiet; these children often don't do well academically because they're so traumatized and upset they can't concentrate. Now, add to this mix the children of legal aliens and the large amount of children of illegal aliens swelling our educational system. Research shows that it takes anyone 5-7 years to acquire academic language, yet our government expects proficiency well before this. Many children in the education system sit in front of televisions and video games a large part of each day, learning questionable behaviors and language, not reading or spending adequate time on homework, or in discussions, or playing cards, or board games with their parents and siblings. Many don't get enough exercise or eat balanced, nutritional meals.

The government needs to fund education, instead of creating educational mandates it doesn't fund, reducing education spending, refusing to pay teachers what they're worth, and then reducing teacher benefits, to boot. Then the government, the press and the general public ignore all of the above and blame teachers for the all the ills of "the broken education system." Sorry, but teachers are NOT scapegoats. Look at the source (see ALL of the above and make ALL of them accountable, too).

We also need a full-scale medical care net under us - the lack of which is morally unconscionable in "the greatest and richest country on earth." People shouldn't have to choose between buying medicine and getting medical care or buying food (some of it poisoned, imported from other countries without adequate health regulations and oversight). Human beings shouldn't go without medical care because they can't afford it, or have to file for medical bankruptcy when they do get health care! Did it ever occur to anyone that there would be more new business start-ups if we all had affordable health care and didn't need to hold down a job just to get medical insurance? When people start new businesses, our economy grows, makes us more competitive in world markets, and leads to more technological innovations.

We need a government that controls its borders, and prosecutes and returns illegal aliens to their home countries. Benefits of citizenship and legal immigration should not be given to illegal aliens: they are criminals, hence the term il-legal (the prefix il- means "not," hence, illegal means not legal)! U.S. citizens who are criminals tend to be in prison, but not illegal aliens. They get free health care, free education, lower in-state college tuition rates even though they are not legal residents (because they are illegal aliens), are free to move about this country, and then send a huge amount of their income out of this country to their native homes and families. Maybe We the People should become illegal aliens (just kidding)! As for the very valid reasons for which many illegal aliens have left their native countries, they should be dealt with by an appropriate combination of diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, and United Nations human rights interventions, instead of leaving our borders as open as sieves.

We need an EPA and FDA (and other agencies) who have not had political appointees gut the basic tenets for which these agencies had been formed: protecting the American people, our environment and wildlife (when you protect the environment and wildlife, you also protect the American people; when you pollute the former, you poison the latter). The authority, policies and employees of these agencies need to be returned to a point at which America and Americans are once again protected, rather than those who have been protected lately: pharmaceutical and chemical industries, as well as corporations. Check out the dvd Food For Thought and look up the story on the courageous whistleblower Fox news reporters who refused to change the facts in their story on Monsanto to satisfy corporate advertisers. Find out why our genetically modified foods aren't labeled, why the corporate-owned press says nothing to warn consumers, and why European Union countries refuse to import these products. Find out about the small farmers being harassed and sued by Monsanto for patent infringment when Monsanto's uncontrolled gmo seeds simply blow into fields and grow, or cross-breed with natural seed products, forever tainting the seed supply, all at no fault of the farmers. Yes, it is Monsanto's responsiblity to control their own seeds and test fields. It would help if their test fields weren't purposefully left open and uncovered, rather than sequestered and covered as they should be as the experiment they are. There are still no independent, long-term studies on the affects of gmo products on human health. Find out what private corporation now owns most of the natural fruit and vegetable seeds in the western hemisphere, and can remove these natural seeds from the market in favor of selling their gmo seeds. Ask yourself if you believe our food supply is secure? Ask yourself what those who ultimately control the food supply will do with all this power over the lives of billions of human beings? Who suffers from the greedy, irresponsible whims and price gouging of monopolies and corporate-run government agencies? The average U.S. citizen, again.

As for bailouts...we need a government that knows it's not supposed to bail out the private sector. Conservative Republicans pushed for a free market economy with little or no regulation or governmental oversight. We the People got the market for which that small, special interest group advocated. Of course, this really served both the interests of the administration and its corporate "friends." So now we have a new form of government welfare for their corporate and financial institution cronies, all paid for by U.S. citizens. It's kind of ironic, though, because the government wouldn't bail out its own, responsible, average working-class citizens who have paid their bills, worked hard, and tried to save some small amounts of money. The government is also ready to spend billions of dollars in Iraq with cost-plus, no-bid contracts, yet can't ensure that all of its own citizens get adequate, affordable health care. It can literally go to bed, share drugs with and freely give subsidies and royalties to Big Oil, yet can't seem to figure our why the oil companies are making record profits while its citizens have to choose between eating and getting to work. Another part of the problem is in anti-trust laws, government oversight and regulation, and all those monopolies, which have become unregulated ultra-monopolies. Whatever happened to healthy competition? Who suffers from the greedy, irresponsible whims and price gouging of monopolies? The average U.S. citizen, again.

What the average United States citizen needs is the restoration of the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, and balance among the three branches of government. Our founding fathers must be turning over in their graves at the outrageous abuse of executive privilege and political power during the past eight years! We need our leaders to adhere to the tenets of the Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, actually follow the rule of law of this country, and run free and clean elections without a single voter disenfranchised, vote stolen, voting machine used that doesn't have a paper trail, or single case of voter fraud. What we need is a government that doesn't use fear-mongering to artificially control the behavior, opinions, attitudes, and votes of its citizens. What we need is a government that actually and effectively comes to the aid of its own citizens in times of disaster.

We need our country's Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates to answer direct, unscripted questions from the public and the press. Your unavailability for true discourse is a huge red flag to us and reflects badly on your ability to lead this nation. If you cannot answer questions, you can't lead, and none of you should be elected. You are supposed to convince us why we should elect you, not create pretty speeches, produce cool sound bytes, remove yourselves from the public and their questions (obviously, you'll do this when you're in office), and bash each other.

We need a press that will stop following these candidates around like puppies waiting for treats until these candidates are willing to answer real questions from the press and the public. If the press stopped covering the canned news and speeches of the candidates, the candidates would quickly feel the vacuum of coverage, and would be forced to engage in active discourse. We need politicians to stop using and manipulating the press. We need our press to stop acting essentially as publicists for the candidates and begin to act in their capacity as advocates for the public, as the Fourth Estate. We also need the press to continue this on all fronts in relation to the honest reporting of facts, even when these facts go against the interests of their corporate policies or corporate advertisers' interests.

We need a free press, as well. A free press plays a huge role in the workings of a democratic republic. Freedom of the press enables American citizens to learn facts, find truthful information, and listen to a variety of opinions in order to make informed, educated opinions and decisions. When the press isn't free, the people usually aren't, either. When journalists and press photographers are arrested, while covering legal demonstrations where police are not wearing their legally required identification badges (so they can't be identified and prosecuted) and are using stun grenades and tear gas on peaceful demonstrators, the American people are not free. When members of the press are investigated, harassed, put on no-fly lists, and purposefully and erroneously branded as "terror suspects," "liars," or are simply fired from their jobs to prevent the truth from reaching the American citizen, the American citizen is not free.

Finally, we, the middle class, as Lou Dobbs of CNN often says, are "the backbone of this country." We have known for a fact that our economy is not strong for quite some time now. It hasn't been working for us for at least eight years. Those of us who haven't already lost our home, and are still trying to hang on to it, certainly don't have any problem remembering how many homes we own. That number would be one, and hopefully we can hold onto it through this uncontrolled, economic fiasco. We certainly don't respond by saying things such as 'I don't know, around 7,' like McCain did when he was asked how many houses he owns. Today, McCain even stated he believes "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." What We the People, who elected these politicians, need is a government that works for us, instead of a government that works for lobbyists, corporations, financial institutions, PACS, and special interest groups. We need our government, corporations and financial institutions to be managed ethically and responsibly, with a clue that they are here to serve us, not the other way around. Here's a clue for all of you: your customers, the average citizens of the United States of America are NOT happy with the status quo. Never underestimate the "little guy" and don't be like those guys at Enron who actually laughed at "screwing" us over. What would happen if We the Needy People bailed out on you, the Corrupt and Greedy!

(P.S. The photo of the dollar bill was actually a bill one of my dogs got a hold of, chewed up and had partially eaten. I would never tear up money, myself.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Clean, Renewable Energy or Drill, Baby, Drill?

Drill, baby, drill? Yes, lots of people have been drilled by Big Oil; literally, employees at the US Department of the Interior and, figuratively, the American people these past eight years under the Bush administration! Big Oil receives billions of dollars in royalties for drilling, this is in addition to their subsidies and record profits, all taken from millions of hard-working American citizens struggling to keep a roof over their heads, food on their tables and clothes on their backs! Drill, baby, drill! Boy, have they ever drilled and found lots of oil money to grease their pockets, while keeping hard-earned money out of ours!

Angry? Do I sound angry? At this point, I'm a hunka burnin' love for clean, renewable energy! I attended the first National Clean Energy Summit and know that oil is not our energy saviour. It's going to take a combination of energy efficiency improvements, an increase in use of natural gas, extensive use of renewable solar, wind, and geothermal energy, as well as a huge investment to improve the speed, capacity and size of our nation's energy transmission power grid to help make the United States a clean energy-based and secure nation. Oil is NOT, and has never been, the solution to this problem!

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines clean as a transitive verb "1 a: to make clean: as (1): to rid of dirt, impurities, or extraneous matter (2): to rid of corruption." Their definition of dirty, an adjective, is "1 a: not clean or pure b: likely to befoul or defile with dirt c: contaminated with infecting organisms d: containing impurities <dirty coal> 2 a: morally unclean or corrupt ... 7: having considerable fallout <dirty bombs>."

When I think of clean energy, I think of energy sources that do not have "dirty" byproducts, extraneous matter or corruption. Oil, as a form of clean energy, loses on all fronts of this definition, especially since members of the Bush Administration's Department of the Interior have been caught in corruption involving bribes, sex and drugs. The alleged oil companies involved are Shell, Chevron Corp., Hess Corp., and Gary-Williams Energy Corp. I'm sure this is only the tip of the iceberg involving this administration's eight years of being in bed with Big Oil. No wonder why our gasoline prices have risen steadily as they continue to cry "Drill, baby, drill!" and when experts across the board have proven American citizens won't see this new oil in their gas tank for seven to ten years, even if we drill today. Why don't we put this time, energy and money into clean, renewable energy, instead?

Why are we still talking about drilling for oil when we know the United States sits on only 3% of the world's oil? How we think drilling here and drilling now will change world oil prices is amazingly stupid - OPEC sets the prices and they have most of the oil! Drilling all three percent of the world's oil supply is also not enough oil to make us energy independent. Whatever happened to common sense? Drilling in ANWAR will only produce an extremely small amount of oil, relative to our demands, help the income of Palin's State of Alaska (of course she's for this - although she has reduced earmarks by 35% over the previous administration, her state still receives more earmarks per capita than does any other) in the near future and forever pollute a pristine, protected, untouched wilderness. Drilling our limited offshore resources will only risk polluting our beaches and the security of part of our national food supply: fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and kelp.

This "Drill, baby, drill!" mantra is yet another example of this administration's and McCain/Palin's fear-mongering, sabre-rattling use of artificially increased prices by a corrupt industry and allowed by a Big Oil president and his cronies, in order to create a false emergency need to expand their operations and further increase their record corporate profits, subsidies and royalties. The call to "Drill, baby, drill!" is simply a pathetic last-minute attempt for Big Oil and its cronies to get in their last licks before Bush is out (and in case McCain/Palin never get in) and their free ride on top of the American people is over. If you'd like to see which politicians take contributions from Big Oil, go to While there, you'll see which politicians have been paid the highest oil dollars to promote Big Oil's "Drill, Baby, Drill!" campaign, which is running concurrently with the US Presidential campaign.

This is also a "more of the same" attitude about oil that got us into this mess in the first place! No more oil! No offshore drilling! No drilling in ANWR! Say NO! We should be saying "No More Oil! No Way! Only Clean Energy!" If you don't believe me, do your research. Don't buy into all the false ads spouting disinformation that you see on television, which were paid for by the record oil profits, subsidies and royalties of the past eight years of corruption, money taken out of the pockets of American citizens (another way in which we're still being drilled).

As for nuclear or coal being clean forms of way! Nuclear is so clean that we have byproducts that must be guarded by our military so they don't fall into the hands of terrorists, who wish to use these byproducts to make dirty bombs. The water used to cool the towers becomes heavy, too. These byproducts don't have a normal decomposition time, their decomposition is measured in nuclear half-lives. Then when people think about where to store these byproducts, they absolutely don't want them in their own backyards. If nuclear energy is so clean, why doesn't anybody want the waste in their own backyard? Why are people worried that the nuclear and hazardous wastes in holding tanks are leaking at Hanford Nuclear Power Plant on 585 square miles along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington? Hanford is also near the Pacific Ocean and upstream of the cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland. Then, think about the safety of transporting this nuclear waste across the United States of America via truck, rail and barge. Have you ever heard of accidents on the road, rail or water? I'm writing this a couple of days after the nation's worst rail accident in 15 years took place in Chatsworth, CA, with 25 dead, 135 injured, 34 of them still critical. What if the freight train involved had been carrying nuclear waste?

Coal is not clean, either. Miners' deaths, gaping holes in the earth, waste pools, polluted water from cooling the processing machinery that will kill freshwater ecosystems, mountain topping (this is cutting off the tops of beautiful mountains, with the resultant erosion, landslides, pollution of streams and rivers, and possible deaths of wildlife and human residents, and possible alteration of micro- and macro-climates), and byproducts that invade our lungs (causing allergies, asthma, and lung cancer), increase carbon dioxide emissions, thereby increasing global warming.

Notice I've mentioned water a few times, already. Fresh, potable water is less than 1% of all water found on earth. The United States has already been in a drought for years, now. We take for granted what many second- and third-world citizens have to walk for miles to get: life-giving, potable water with which they can cook and hydrate themselves. Many of these people, mostly women and children, actually risk their lives to get water, facing rape, torture and murder along their path to survival. Yet, here we are, wasting inordinate amounts of this precious resource to continue producing unclean, dirty energy.

Instead, we can say "YES!" to clean energy! We can continue to use and expand development of natural gas as an alternative source of power. We can use and continue development of solar and wind technology that already exists, yet has repeatedly been ignored in favor of oil. Instead of drilling for oil that would take 10 years to reach the pump, let's invest in solar and wind power, improve and extend our high-speed power transmission infrastructure, and use the Saudi Arabia of solar power - the Southwest USA - and the Saudi Arabia of wind energy - the Midwest USA - to power our own country. We can also expand our use of geothermal energy.

If we concentrate on truly clean energy, stop listening to corrupt, dirty energy companies who have had their day, and work together for a cleaner, brighter future with clean energy, we can make these changes! We can retool factories, retrofit our homes and cars to clean energy sources, grow green industries and jobs, improve our economy by going green, and recapture our national security by reducing our usage and dependence on foreign oil. If we get out of Iraq and stop subsidizing Big Oil, we can use this money, instead, to energize solar, geothermal and wind power and increase the energy transmission infrastructure in the United States. We can change our world into a more secure, cleaner place in which our children can grow and live healthier lives. We can do this!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Not-so-Free Trade or the High Human and Environmental Costs of Free Trade

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has enabled corporations to do business internationally, bringing low-cost products to the American public, high corporate profits, and high dividends for corporate shareholders. This is seemingly a win-win situation. Until you begin to look below the surface. Corporations who do their manufacturing outside of the United States are not hindered by enforced strict environmental laws designed to protect workers, the environment and United States citizens because the Mexican government doesn't police these companies. Maquiladoras don't have to worry about paying high minimum wages, implementing expensive safety measures, or compliance with stringent OSHA laws. They may be required to transport hazardous wastes out of the country, but have repeatedly and illegally dumped their hazardous wastes into rivers that also serve as sources of drinking water.

One of our partners in trade, the Mexican government, raises property taxes forcing people from their land and into the bordertowns to increase the labor pool. The factories or maquiladoras pay their workers low wages, making it next to impossible for them to earn enough money to pay their taxes, so the government can confiscate their lands. The maquiladoras then have a permanent, low-cost pool of mostly female laborers, who work uncomplainingly and compliantly. The maquiladoras do not provide security for their shift workers, who work for a company that remains open 24 hours per day. The high cost of this employment comes in the kidnapping, torture, rape, dismemberment, and murder of these women since 1993.

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico is ground zero for these women. It is a wasteland for human rights, providing inadequate protection of their women and girls, and no justice for those who have paid the ultimate price of trying to survive on low wages. The government says less than 500 women have been murdered, human rights organizations say the number may be more like 5,000. This also happens in Guatemala, where over 2,500 women and girls have been murdered. I believe that even 1 is one too many. The US Government isn't pressuring these governments enough to protect their women and girls, and to hunt down, prosecute and imprison their kidnappers, rapists, torturers, and killers. This attitude of the disposability of these women and girl's lives by the Mexican and Guatemalan governments is unconscionable and essentially condones these crimes and this treatment of women and girls as less than human beings. All of this for higher corporate profits and gross national product. The bottom line is money, not human rights.

Corporate America also runs the news outlets that refuse to print and disseminate the truth because it will damage their bottom line, upset their advertisers, and bring to light the fact that the free trade agreements amount to nothing more than government-sponsored slave labor. The last thing they want the majority of the American public to know is that thousands of Mexican and Guatemalen women are being kidnapped, tortured, raped, dismembered, and murdered as part of the price of producing the low-cost products they buy as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which still contains no provisions protecting the workers.

People of the United States, especially women, please put pressure on all the governments and corporations involved, as well as the media. Write, tell others about this, and most of all make some noise so that this doesn't continue! Hit their pocketbooks by boycotting goods from the corporations who essentially profit from the rapes and murders of these women. If we come together as a community and work together, we can create the changes that will end this femicide.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Daniel Schorr on Journalism, Politics and Conflict Resolution

Daniel Schorr was tonight's invited speaker at the UNLV Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution's Peace in the Desert lecture series. His talk was entitled "Forgive Us Our Press Passes."

Mr. Schorr spoke about his long-term career as a journalist relative to conflict resolution. He said that, on the one hand, journalism can "give light and people will find their own way." On the other hand, he shared recollections of a conversation he had with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and stated that journalists of that time did "deliberately try to get civil rights leaders to say something provocative because that's how we get put on the air." This search for provocative quotes, in turn, may have brought militant leaders to the forefront, expanding the violence of the times and changing the course of the civil rights movement.

Journalists, editors, and publishers can so easily change the course of history and literally cost people their lives by asking the wrong questions, not asking certain questions, purposefully not reporting important stories, overemphasizing one aspect of a story, investigating and reporting the activities of one politician while ignoring those of another, or favorably emphasizing one subject/person over another.

The conflict between Mr. Schorr's journalististic responsibilities to report the news came into conflict with the ethics of actually publishing a story that could negatively impact the lives of many people or even destabilize a government. "Twice in my long career I killed my own story" to keep people from getting hurt.

One story he killed was about Princess Juliana, whose daughter Princess Maria Christina (Marijke) of the Netherlands was born almost totally blind. In her desperation to find a cure for her daughter, Princess Juliana sought the advice of a faith healer. Princess Juliana's resulting extreme beliefs and behaviors nearly brought down the House of Orange. Mr. Schorr chose not to publish his story as it would so negatively affect the monarchy, the entire government of the Netherlands could have been destabilized. He discovered his publisher, Life Magazine, had also decided to kill the story just before he called to inform them of his own intentions.

The second time he chose to kill a story involved taped interviews with Jewish citizens of annexed Poland who were emigrating to Israel. Russia, Poland and Israel were in trilateral talks to make this emigration possible, but it was necessary to keep it quiet as Russia was attempting to maintain relations with Saudi Arabia. If the Saudis had learned of these talks, the emigration would have been stopped. Reporting this story would have hurt thousands of emigrants. Since we are all a part of a greater community of humanity, Mr. Schorr stated a journalist might kill a story because "you live in a community and you have duties in a community."

Mr. Schorr discussed changes in the relationship between politicians and journalists as another type of conflict. He emphasized that what is happening lately and is "the most alarming thing in the field of journalism, is politicians have learned to manipulate the press... What I'm afraid of is the skill in government for manipulating the press."

The future of the press will be determined in part by economic and technology changes in media, the internet, and the blogosphere, according to Mr. Schorr. Anybody with a computer can be a writer, reporter, editor, whereas editing and writing used to be carefully done. Now, cameras can be put up anywhere. He also believes that economically, conglomerates are becoming mega-conglomerates, which are becoming ultra-conglomerates. He thinks it is possible that newspapers may not be on paper in five years. There will be profound change, but when asked about more specific changes that will take effect in the future, Mr Schorr said, "I have no idea."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Qualifications for President and Vice-President

If teachers are required by our President, the Federal government and our citizens, to be Highly Qualified, have a Master's Degree, pass at least 4 competency exams, and maintain minimum levels of continuing education, why aren't our Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates held to similar high standards? Many teachers run classes of less than 40 students. Our candidates will run a country of millions, yet they are not required to prove they are competent by some standardized method of measurement or educational attainment. I believe candidates should be required to achieve at least a Master's degree from an accredited university in the United States and pass competency tests on subjects including US Constitution, US History, World History, Federal and International Law, Public Policy, Transportation and Infrastructure, Environmental Science, International Affairs and Diplomacy, Conflict Resolution, Macro- and Micro-Economics, Public Speaking, Writing, and Ethics.

Teachers, who make much less money than do most politicians, are required to provide weekly lesson plans, document what they will teach, how much time they will spend on each subject, what strategies and materials they will use so their students will achieve mastery, how they will assess their students' progress, and what state and/or national education standards they are meeting through their instruction. Everything teachers do is required to be student-centered. Perhaps our politicians should also be required to do the same thing. Politicians should be required to provide weekly plans to their constituents, document which problems and issues they will handle for their constituents, how much time they will spend on each problem or issue, what strategies and materials they will use to achieve solutions for their constituents, how they will assess their progress on solving problems and issues for their constituents (political, environmental, economic, etc.), and what state and/or national standards they are meeting through their public service. Everything politicians do should be constituent-centered. Instead, many politicians state outright lies, break laws, and work for lobbyists and corporate interests, rather than their constituents. Then, they turn around and say that teachers are doing a bad job and need even more regulation and accountability.

If teachers were handled in the same way as has been Sarah Palin by the Republicans, then when they're hired, they would be able to hang out with a Master Teacher and watch them teach. They'd also smile, shake hands, wave and give a thumbs up, occaisionally give the same lesson prepared by someone else, and not be responsible to teach their own lessons to their own class, or answer questions from parents or adminstration. This candidate should not be allowed to get away with this! We the People need to stand together and demand accountability of and accessibility to all of our public servants and candidates, as well as minimum standards of education and competency levels of candidates for public service.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lung Cancer - the Leading Cause of Death of All Major Cancers Combined

My mother passed away from lung cancer, the leading cause of all cancer deaths, yet this form of cancer receives the only a small fraction of the research funding. 60% of all newly diagnosed lung cancer cases are non-smokers. Only 15% of people diagnosed will survive past 5 years. 3x as many men will die from lung cancer compared to prostate cancer, and 2x as many women than from breast cancer. Death rates from lung cancer in women between 1930 and 1997 skyrocketed 600%. In fact, lung cancer kills more women than breast, ovarian and uterine cancers combined! 1 in 5 women with lung cancer NEVER smoked!

I'm here to ask you to sign two petitions and, if you're able, to donate to ALCASE, the Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support and Education. ALCASE was so helpful during the horrible time that began with mom's diagnosis until her death only 8 months later. They provided a lot of essential information about lung cancer itself, as well as available clinical trials. They also provided a live contact person with whom I could speak to ask questions about what my mom was going through. I can't say enough great words to tell you how amazingly wonderful these people were during this time. If you have any ability and willingness to donate to ALCASE, I would greatly appreciate your assistance.

On their website, there are two petitions you can sign for free. The first petition asks President Bush and Congress to make lung cancer a national health priority. The second petition requests that your Senators sponsor Senate Bill 3187 -The Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act. The website is

Please go to their website and sign the two petitions in honor of my Mom! Thanks so much!!!