WP Comments on Judicial Elections, Religion in Politics, the Energy Independence Sham, and the Link Between Crime and Lead Exposure

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

gasoline lead crime

 

In It’s a Smart, Smart, Smart World, Nick Kristof celebrates the fact that humans have gotten more intelligent over the past century.  In response to Mr. Kristof’s reference to the removal of lead from gasoline playing a role in such increase in intelligence, Winning Progressive explained that the removal of lead from gasoline and paint is also credited with helping to significantly reduce crime over the past few decades”

I was glad to see you identify the removal of lead from gasoline, which occurred only thanks to the strong advocacy of environmentalists, public health professionals, consumer safety groups, and others in the 1960s and 1970s, as playing a role in increasing levels of intelligence.

A growing body of science shows that the removal of lead from gasoline and the removal of lead paint from houses has also played a key role in the dramatic drop in crime that has occurred throughout the US over the past 30 years.

Lead is a neurotoxin that damages or hinders the development of the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which provides humans with impulse control. When that area of the brain is damaged or underdeveloped, people become more aggressive and impulsive. By reducing lead exposure, we’ve reduced such prefrontal cortex damage and, according to a number of convincing studies, helped create the 30-70% drops in crime experienced throughout the country.

Of course, more work remains to be done as many houses, especially in older and poorer neighborhoods throughout the country, still have lead paint that is impairing childrens’ development. Every dollar spent on lead paint removal is estimated to save $17 to $221 in societal costs. But the fiscal scolds have succeeded in slashing the CDCs lead paint prevention budget from $29 million to $2 million for 2013.

In Social Science Palooza III, David Brooks provided a seemingly random sampling of the findings of recent social science research.   Winning Progressive commented on one such study, which found that state court judges in Washington State hand out harsher sentences in criminal cases as the judges get closer to election day:

Evidence that judges hand out harsher sentences around election time provide yet another reason why judges should be appointed, not elected.

The election of judges undermines the judiciary and our system of government in two ways. The first is that, in our system of checks and balances, the judiciary is supposed to serve as a check on the power of the other two branches. One of the critical checks that the judiciary provides is making sure that the other two branches do not unjustly trample the rights of groups that are not in the majority. But if judges are elected, they become just as susceptible to majority will as the executive and legislative branches are and, therefore, judicial protection of the minority becomes largely a non-starter.

Secondly, courts lack any real enforcement power for their rulings, except what comes from the moral authority they gain from being seen as independent and neutral arbiters of the law. But if judges are ruling with an eye out for their next election, they aren’t engaging in such neutral enforcement of the law and their credibility goes out the window.

While our federal court system, with its lifetime appointments, is far from perfect (see, for example, Bush v. Gore), it is widely understood to be a fairer and more professional forum than state courts. And part of the reason is that most state court judges are worried about re-election.

In The God Glut, Frank Bruni interviewed former Senator Bob Kerrey, who is a rare agnostic public official, and addressed  concerns about increasing officially sanctioned religious proselytizing at the West Point military academy, as reported by former West Point cadet Blake Page.  Winning Progressive offered some thoughts on the role of religious belief in politics:

I am a technical agnostic (I don’t think there is a god, but I don’t have enough faith to be able to definitively say that there absolutely is not a god), but I readily acknowledge that religious belief does and should play a role in politics for many people.

For example, religious belief has always been a prime motivator of the civil rights movement, the social justice work of people like Dorothy Day, and of groups opposed to war and the death penalty. In many, many areas, religious belief has been a force for social good. I am motivated by secular humanistic values, but if other people are motivated by religious belief to help society, that’s great.

Where problems arise is when people try to use politics to impose their religious beliefs to limit the rights of others, whether it is on issues of choice, marriage equality, or access to contraception. If you don’t believe in gay marriage, then don’t have one, but don’t try to use the power of the state to prevent other people from having them.

And certainly we shouldn’t be using government to indoctrinate people in religious faith. That is especially so when it comes to the military. History has shown us time and time again that the combination of religion with military power is a dangerous mixture. Let’s make sure we don’t go any further down that road here.

In American Bull, Roger Cohen offers a significantly misguided argument that increased domestic natural gas and oil production will create energy independence for the US that will lead to a geostrategic shift by ending the “political dependency and expediency” that results from our reliance on Middle East oil.  Winning Progressive responded as follows:

Mr. Cohen, I hate to rain on your parade, but this whole energy independence thing is mostly a sham.

For one thing, we are not nearly as directly reliant on oil from the Persian Gulf as people think. 38% of our oil already comes from the US. Another 20% comes from Canada, and 7.5% comes from Mexico. That’s 65% that comes from North America, compared to only about 12% that comes from the Persian Gulf. So, it is hard to see how increasing the portion that comes from the US to 50% would lead to any major change.

Second, with regards to price and the need to stay involved in the Middle East, it doesn’t matter all that much where we get our oil from because the oil market is an international one. As such, major changes in the Persian Gulf or elsewhere will impact our oil prices even if we aren’t purchasing directly from countries there.

Finally, what we need to be focused on is reducing our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels regardless of whether it is domestic or foreign. If we achieve “energy independence” simply by drilling, fracking, and mining more, the impact on the climate and the environment will be disastrous. Instead, we need to be prioritizing efficiency, and the development or renewable sources of energy. If we don’t, any energy independence “victory” will be hollow and short-lived.

 

Winning isn’t Enough…Ten Steps for Staying Politically Enaged

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

 

(By The Pragmatic Pundit)

As Republicans recover from the gobsmackery of their tremendous loss, Democrats have been reveling in success at the ballot box.  It was a righteous win.  United citizens proved we could overcome and defeat Citizens United… but winning isn’t enough.

The Middle Class, Democrats, Obama supporters must stay engaged!

The election is over but the Republican party is a perfect circus act…managing to juggle several balls at once.  Here are ten steps for staying engaged so that we can continue winning:

1.    Don’t be distracted by side issues, punditry and the incessant chatter.  The war against voters, women, unions, workers, education, healthcare, science, the gay community, immigration, minorities, the President and even Christmas will continue.

Many like to believe the Tea Party is gone.  Fair warning!  As everyone is abuzz about Tea Party Kingmaker Senator DeMint’s move from Congress to The Heritage Foundation,  remember what The Heritage Foundation really is.  The organization is not about the business of advancing scholarship, but influences, structures and advances conservative policy.

More than twenty years ago, author Russ Bellant wrote:

“The Heritage Foundation will continue to be a key element in the phalanx of rightist groups with an agenda of austerity for the poor, hostility to minorities and women, upward distribution of wealth for the rich, economic domination of the Third World….”

2.     Get your voter identification.  Just because the election is over doesn’t mean Republican dirty tricks will stop.  They will continue to try to suppress voting through voter ID registration and any other means they can.  Get your identification or help someone else acquire theirs.  Give Republicans no excuse to deny anyone the right to vote in the next election.  Don’t wait until another election is near…do it now!

On election day, Minnesota voters rejected a voter ID ballot initiative. In September, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced S.3608: Voter Empowerment Act of 2012.  You can read the text of the bill and follow its progress at  GovTrack.us.

National Conference of State Legislatures has a database with all state voter identification requirements.

You can also find valuable information at Brennan Center for Justice.

3.    Register to vote.  Then make certain your registration has actually been recorded.  During this past election, Republicans destroyed Democratic registrations, switched Democrat registrations to Republican or failed to record them at all.  It isn’t enough to just sign your name…make certain you are “correctly” registered to vote…even if you just voted…take nothing for granted.

USA.gov has voter guides, registration information, voting accessibility, and information for military and overseas voters.

Register to Vote.org makes it convenient to register in any state.

4.    Follow the legislation that affects your life, and the voting record of your state and federal representatives.

You can follow the top ten legislative items of interest at The Library of Congress – Thomas.

OpenCongress is a non-profit, non-partisan public resource where you can track all of the legislation in Congress.

5.    Don’t get blindsided.  Candidates have records!

Voters have a tendency to make decisions based on campaign rhetoric, when candidates are telling the public “what we want to hear”, but candidates have records that will give a clue to what they “really” believe.

Based on earlier revelations, it should have come as no surprise to women that Gov. McDonnell of Virginia would promote intra-vaginal probing or approve legislation that discriminated against the gay community.  It isn’t what they say in the heat of a campaign that counts, it’s what they’ve done.

Project Vote Smart is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that gives the biographies, voting records, issue positions, ratings, speeches and campaign information of politicians.

another is On The Issues.

6.    Pay attention!  “States Rights” have very special implications and because of gerrymandering, Republicans control many state governments and are likely assured to do so for the next 10 years.  It is where the “real” assault is taking place.  Who runs your state?

State Government – USA.gov. – Resources and websites on U.S. states and territories, local and city governments.

Library of Congress – State and Local Governments

7.    Let common sense, instinct and knowledge be your guide.  We are all too often swayed by emotional and superficial values; for example Governor Chris Christie’s approval rating is at 77%, an all-time high.  Why?  Because of his response to Hurricane Sandy?  Because people appreciate his frank and nitty-gritty dialogue?  Hurricanes don’t happen everyday and many consider Governor Christie rude. Still, neither should determine whether or not he is fit for office.

Here’s what’s important about Gov. Christie:

He vetoed a bill that would have legalized same sex marriage in New Jersey as well as other bills that respect a woman’s right to equality.

Christie opposed a law which limited the number of handguns that can be legally purchased in New Jersey to one per month.

This is how he approached New Jersey’s  budget shortfall:

He laid off state workers, closed state psychiatric institutions, cut education, suspended a property-tax rebate program, raised the deductible and doubled some drug co-payments for participants in a state prescription-drug plan for the elderly and disabled, cut state-financed school breakfasts, rental assistance and trimmed the state’s earned-income tax credit.

He reduced funds for pension contributions,  funding for nursing homes and medical day care services.  All while he gave tax cuts to the wealthy and the so-called job creators.  Still, just before Sandy, New Jersey’s unemployment rate was 9.8%, the third highest unemployment rate in the country.

The question should be…how effective has he been at governing?  Have his policies enhanced the Middle Class?  That should be the litmus test for any legislator…even if you like them.

8.    Find reliable sources to stay abreast of current events.  Try to steer clear of ideological agreement and seek out sources that report based on facts.  Sadly, that may not always be the media, so it’s important to

9.    Do your own fact-checking.

Congress.org is a nonpartisan news and information website dedicated to encouraging civic participation.

10.    Get involved and stay involved.  Support petitions, contact your representatives…rally for the legislation and legislators who support your cause.  Write, call, fax, email, tweet, rally …make your voice heard!

Contact your elected officials.

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper

The most important rule of engagement is to STAY ENGAGED!

I COULD NOT REGISTER TO VOTE! – The Voter Identification MANDATE

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

(By Fay Paxton, cross-posted at The Pragmatic Pundit)

I have never bought into the whole voter ID scam because I know history and bullshit.  Doesn’t it strike anyone as hypocritical that the small government advocates, who hate mandates have mandated that everyone has to have a government ID?  In light of the fact that voter fraud is virtually non-existent, there’s no reason to believe that the same identification process that has always worked will continue to serve us well.  Still, there’s nothing like personal experience to give validity to one’s argument.

Let me give you my personal encounter with the voter identification process:

Some months ago, I moved to Kansas.  As is required, I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to exchange my driver’s license for a Kansas license, to make record of my new address and to register to vote.  In order to make certain I would cover every possibility, I simply grabbed what I call “my identity packet” which contains the following:

My birth certificate
My social security card and my last social security statement that projects my benefits
A passport
Current 1099’s
My current tax return
My insurance policy
My Dependent Care Packet (a notarized, exhaustive packet issued by the military to anyone who will be responsible for the care of military children in the event of disability or death of a soldier)

I have credit cards and debit cards
A current driver’s license and automobile registration
A picture ID issued by the United States Armed Forces

To verify my new address I took mail I had received, since my relocation from:

The utility company
The Telephone company
My rental lease
A registered letter from the Internal Revenue Service

I COULD NOT REGISTER TO VOTE!

Acceptable Documents

Most of the items are simply not on the list of acceptable documents and clearly the people charged with verifying identity have no authority to use common sense.  My passport was issued in my hyphenated married name so I needed an original copy of my divorce decree to verify that my name has changed and of course, a copy of my marriage license to prove that I was married in the first place.

Okay, I get that the tax items were not on the list of acceptable items but a Dependent Care Package, a legal affidavit issued by the United States Army? They investigate and verify every aspect of one’s life; employment, income, family relations, assets, etc.  But then the military ID which allows you to prowl, unescorted around a military base, does not contain an expiration date.  Why is an expiration date even necessary?  If my driver’s license expires tomorrow, do I cease being the person on the picture?  Is the house I’ve resided in for twenty years no longer my address? That’s like saying if you don’t know your birthday, you were never born.  And isn’t the requirement to have a picture ID a mandate?

The items I used to verify my new address were not accepted because, as the clerk explained, “I have you listed at an address in Chicago and one in Maryland.”  Hmmm.  She accepted that the person with multiple addresses was me but the person standing before her was not.

I explained that I own property in both places, but that clearly I wasn’t presently residing in either place.  The lease and utility bill verifying my new address were meaningless.  As was the registered letter from the IRS.  The postman had required my identification and signature.  But IRS was not on the list!

Alas, I exist, afterall

During a second visit, exasperated, I rifled through my documents looking for something acceptable, when the clerk suddenly said, “Oh, I can accept this.”  She picked up an unopened letter from my bank and though it was clearly postmarked, SHE OPENED IT!  “I have to verify that there has been activity in the last three months.”  I was no longer exasperated, I was pissed!

The information for my new driver’s license printed out, along with my voter’s registration.  I was photographed  for my new driver’s license.  I took a seat and waited for my name to be called.

I watched as an elderly woman, barely able to walk grappled with the fact that she still carried her husband’s name despite the fact he had been dead for decades.  She waved the death certificate and marriage license.

“He was killed in the war….I’ve lived in the same house for over fifty years….you know me.”  She was at the brink of tears.

“I understand”
, the clerk explained. “Don’t blame me, blame all these bad illegals who are taking advantage of us all and have made it bad for everybody.” 

“Well, don’t punish me…I am an American citizen….my husband and son both fought and died in wars for this country and I’m not going to be able to vote?”

The clerk handed her a tissue.  “What you will have to do is change your name back to your own name.”  She gave her the address and necessary information.  “After you have officially changed your name, bring in the official papers and I will be able to issue you a state ID.”

Just so you know, she was white.  I couldn’t help but think of my own mother, who never had a driver’s license…never owned a car…she never learned to drive.  Not because she was poor, she was anything but that, it just isn’t a necessity or desire in everyone’s life to own a car.

Hoop-time

I was thoroughly disgusted by the time I left.  A couple of months later, it occurred to me that I had not received a voter’s registration card, nor any communication from the election board.  I retrieved the form and for the first time, inspected the registration.  It had no first name printed on it; not even an initial.  How did that happen when it printed out at the same time as the driver’s license which contained my first name and middle initial?

At the County Clerk’s office, a worker complained that “she was tired of correcting their mistakes”.  But was it a mistake?  How many people will even notice the error before election day?  They think they’re registered, but they will not be able to vote.

On the fourth of July, I had a cookout for 22 soldiers.  Why did 14 of them complain that they had not be able to vote in the last election?  Every one of these men had been deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan more than once to risk their lives so the enemy can vote, while they were denied that right in their own country.

Voters have always had to identify themselves, there simply was a different standard of identification.  And the statistics prove, it was a system of identification that worked…FOR A HUNDRED YEARS!  Those who argue that photo identification is required to buy a beer or fly, fail to differentiate between a privilege and a Constitutional right.

I often read comments that question how individuals who receive government benefits can do so without identification, but the argument simply confirms that a photo ID is not necessary to prove who you are. Just as the clerk was able to tell me all my addresses, they have a hundred databases to pull from and crosscheck.  In fact, the government knows where you are as you read this article.   Shame on you people who uphold an activity that infringes on peoples Constitutional rights.  Voting isn’t a Democratic or Republican right.  It’s an American right!

Note:  So many people have emailed to ask, I thought I’d let everyone know, I still have not received my voter registration card.

How United Citizens Can Defeat Citizens United

Monday, June 11th, 2012

(By Fay Paxton, cross-posted at The Pragmatic Pundit)


You’ve heard the clamor about the Koch brothers. We watched one man pump $20 million into Gingrich’s presidential bid and he still lost, because in the end it’s about the votes that get tallied. In Ohio, voters demonstrated the difference the citizens can make. And patriots in Wisconsin, even if they fell short in their effort to recall GOP Gov. Scott Walker, have demonstrated what the right to exercise freedom of speech and assembly are really all about.

It’s easy to get discouraged when what’s shaping up looks more like a battle between David and Goliath than a political engagement, but citizens can’t afford to be discouraged. The passage of Citizens United has given immeasurable powers to the wealthy, but the citizens are not without power too. We must empower ourselves. They have more money, but we have more voters. United citizens can defeat Citizens United!

The Claim about Voter Fraud is a Fraud

If voter fraud is a real concern, you should wonder why legislators didn’t push for more election regulations after the 2000 election debacle. Why now? The ACORN sting turned out to be a lie and voter fraud is virtually non-existent, so what’s the real reason? What do early voting and same-day registration have to do with the legitimacy of casting a vote? Absolutely nothing! It’s the voter suppression game Republicans have always played…wake up! Voter fraud isn’t the problem….election fraud is.

Why, in this age of technology, are we still relying on antiquated lists to determine who is qualified to vote? Between Social Security, the Census and Medicare, don’t you think there are probably enough databases to determine who is a legitimate citizen? Afterall, every citizen is registered with social security soon after they are born. Personally, I think everyone should be able to vote in a national election, even if they live in a tree.

Voters “Real” Acorn

You heard all about ACORN, but at the same time Republicans were raising so much cain about ACORN, everyone missed that in California, Massachusetts, Florida and Arizona registrants were complaining that they had been duped into joining the GOP.

From BlackBoxVoting.org

5/12 – TENNESSEE CAUGHT RED HANDED

Four hundred and eighty-eight voters, every one of them in the Tennessee district of US Rep Steve Cohen (D-09), all but four lifelong Democrats, and nearly all Black, had their voting history erased by Shelby County election workers, setting them up for purge from the voter list. 454 out of 488 on the erased list are Black, and only four are White, leaving all the others marked “other.”

From The Brad Blog

The votes of more than ten million voters could be affected by a newly revealed failure in the voting systems set for use in Florida, Wisconsin, New york and Ohio in this year’s Presidential election, and in more than 50 different jurisdictions in Wisconsin during next month’s historic recall elections.

According to a report released by Election Systems & Software, Inc., the private company which manufactures, sells, services and programs the systems, their systems may overheat when used over several hours and that they then may miscount and/or incorrectly discard anywhere from 30% to 70% of votes scanned by the machines.

From ThinkProgress

Last year, Mitt Romney’s began paying Nathan Sproul (Associates to Lincoln Strategies), a political consultant with a long history of destroying Democratic voter registration forms.

- In Oregon and Nevada, Nathan Sproul’s company was investigated for destroying Democratic voter registration forms. The Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign paid Sproul $7.4 million for campaign work. [CNN, 10/14/04; KGW News, 10/13/04; East Valley Tribune, 09/07/06]

- In Nevada, people who registered as Democrats with Sproul’s firm found their names absent from the voter registration rolls. [Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/29/04]

From The Sacramento Bee

GOP in California hired “professional con artists” who turned in thousands of fraudulent voter registrations.

To learn specific information about your county and state, go HERE.

Adopt an American

First make certain YOU register to vote, then help one other person register to vote; a neighbor, a friend, a student, the elderly. If the person doesn’t have the necessary documents…help them acquire them. Help them through the process, and then remember…verify their registration and your own registration too.

Nothing will be more disheartening than going through all the necessary steps only to arrive at the polling place and be told you cannot vote. It’s one of the oldest tricks on the books, so be prepared. It’s the reason so many states have outlawed same-day registration. Afterall, if for some reason, either by design or mistake your name is not listed on the voter’s rolls, it will defeat their purpose if you can register on the spot.

Be prepared to wait. Election officials count on impatience with long lines to discourage participation. Take a folding chair, a book, your laptop. It might even be smart to take along some bottled water and a snack. Beat them at their own game.

Another trick is to relocate the polling place without notice…DO NOT BE DETERRED. Go there and vote.

If you drive…give someone a ride. Take as many people as you can with you. Encourage everyone you know to cast a vote.

They’ve thought of every angle, so you’ve got to be prepared to out-maneuver them.

This is an argument for the Constitutionally-protected right to vote. The right to vote is neither a Democratic nor Republican right…it is an American right! Just like our soldiers died to give Iraqis Universal Healthcare, Iraqis also gained the right to cast a ballot, so why are officials trying to make it so hard for Americans?

Finally, and most important: Find a reliable news source. Opinion journalism and media is okay as long as they present the facts that form their opinions, so you can check those facts and make your own judgement. Then VOTE for the candidate that will help heal and sustain THE MIDDLE CLASS and remember, it’s not over after you cast your vote. STAY ENGAGED!

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD.  

LET’S SHOW WHAT THE MIDDLE CLASS IS MADE OF! 

 

Is Obama Serious About Climate Change Action?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

President Obama speaking recently at the Solar Panel Field at the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility in Boulder City, Nevada, the largest photovoltaic plant operating in the country.

 

(By Josh Marks, cross-posted at Green Forward)

When it comes to climate change action, the Obama Administration is feeling the heat. Literally. All the president needs to do is step outside the White House doors and spend some time in the Rose Garden to feel Washington’s warmest winter on record. And cities across the United States have been experiencing record high temperatures this winter. Obama’s campaign headquarters is in Chicago, where the Windy City last Wednesday hit a high of 87 degrees Fahrenheit. The next day the temperature at O’Hare Airport was 83 degrees, capping nine straight days of record-breaking or record-tying high temperatures in Chicago.

While there is a difference between daily weather changes and climate patterns over time, the “summer in March” has climatologists concerned. “Global warming boosts the probability of really extreme events, like the recent U.S. heat wave, far more than it boosts more moderate events,” climate scientists Stefan Rahmstorf and Dim Coumou wrote recently in the RealClimate blog.

But is President Obama concerned?

Progressives have been pressing President Obama to take more forceful action to reduce carbon emissions and explain to the American people the reality of man-made global warming and the clean energy and energy efficient solutions to counter climate change.

The Obama Administration appears to have made a political calculation that it would be unwise right now to rally the American people behind bold climate change action. He has disappointed progressives by calling for an “all of the above” energy strategy and then staging events like last week in Oklahoma where he announced he is fast-tracking an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. And last summer there was the broken promise that the Department of Energy would install solar panels and a solar water heater on the roof of the White House. It appears this was another political calculation in the wake of the Solyndra witch hunt from Congressional Republicans.

But while standing in front of oil rigs and installing White House solar panels make for nice political theater and photo ops, there are encouraging signs that this administration is taking aggressive action behind the scenes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are two actions the Obama Administration has taken that will play a substantial role in transforming the United States into a low carbon economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The first is the historic gas mileage standards that will nearly double the fuel economy of vehicles by 2025, when cars and light trucks will get nearly 55 miles per gallon. Thirteen major automakers signed onto the deal that will significantly reduce carbon emissions with more fuel efficient, hybrid, electric and alternative fuel vehicles. Cars and trucks account for 20 percent of carbon emissions.

The second significant decision was yesterday’s Environmental Protection Agency rules to limit carbon pollution from new power plants. For the first time, new power plants will be required to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity produced. The ruling effectively kills any new coal-fired power plants.

These two actions to reduce carbon emissions are remarkable considering the United States has still not joined the 191 other countries that have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol and are thus not obligated by the international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So these climate change actions have come internally from the Obama Administration.

The hope is that if Obama is elected to a second term that he will take more aggressive action on climate change and be able to have a real conversation with the American public about the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and deal with climate change. Kari Marie Norgaard, professor of sociology and environmental studies at the University of Oregon, said recently at a Planet Under Pressure news conference in London that “cultural inertia” is slowing down climate action.

“We find a profound misfit between dire scientific predictions of ongoing and future climate changes and scientific assessments of needed emissions reductions on the one hand, and weak political, social or policy response on the other,” Norgaard said. ”Climate change poses a massive threat to our present social, economic and political order. From a sociological perspective, resistance to change is to be expected. People are individually and collectively habituated to the ways we act and think. This habituation must be recognized and simultaneously addressed at the individual, cultural and societal level — how we think the world works and how we think it should work.”

If Obama is not re-elected, the future of the planet is most certainly in peril. Leading Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said this about man-made global warming last October:

“My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

Be a Progressive Watchdog

Friday, July 1st, 2011

(by Mark McCutchan)

Do you know who your state senator, state representative, U.S. senators or U.S. representative are?   Most people don’t, and ignorance of their elected officials’ identities and actions is a major part of what keeps these officeholders in power.

To take part in political power, you need not only vote, but keep tabs on what your elected representatives are doing.   Here are three ways you can do that:

1.      I would like you – yes, you there reading this column as you sit at your computer at home, or at school or at work – to click here and see who your representatives are.  Note their names closely. You can go to their websites from there, and subscribe to their newsletters.  You can use the information in these email “newsletters” to send issue responses, if you have the time.

2.      Look up your reps on Facebook, and (here’s the part that takes some willpower) “Like” their official Facebook pages, regardless of party.  Why?  Well, if your rep is a Democrat, you can find out what they find important in their duties and district, and “Like” or comment on their posts when appropriate.  If your rep is a Republican, like many of mine are, you can also find out what they find important in their duties and district.  In addition, you can help your fellow progressives disrupt the conservative echo chamber these pages tend to be.  Showing your GOP rep that they cannot post radical, anti-government rants without getting some pushback from some of their constituents.

For example, here is what my state house representative Bill Johnson posted Monday:

We cannot tax and spend our way out of this problem. Working families and small business owners should be keeping more of what they earn rather than sending it to an irresponsible federal government that views taxpayers as a private piggy bank.

I responded:

Bill, you are now part of the federal government that you seem to hate so much, and I think you need to start recognizing all the good that it does, not just the bad.
Public roads, public schools, national defense, and public health programs are just some of the valuable programs that receive funds from our shared American government.

I have found that since I have started to responding to every one of his posts, (especially if I am the first to respond) that the “Amen, brother!”-type comments seem to have declined markedly from Bill’s supporters.  I keep my comments clean, civil, and fact-based and have not been banned yet, even though I disagree with almost every one of his posts.  Progressives should use every opportunity and media to break up the conservative echo chamber with voices of reason.

3. Use the information you learn from your elected representatives’ Facebook pages, websites, etc. to find out if your Rep is going to be appearing in public, has made an outrageous statement that should be shared publicly, or is introducing legislation that progressives might want to know about.  And then share that information with your friends and with us here at Winning Progressive.   That way we can work together to get favorable or unfavorable turnout at town hall meetings, highlight outrageous statements, build support for good legislation being proposed, and call our elected officials out when they make bad votes or propose bad legislation.   In other words, you can help be the eyes and ears of the progressive movement so that we can all be more aware of what is going on in DC.

Please take a couple of minutes to carry out the above actions, and then share what you learn with us here at Winning Progressive so that we can be even more effective in spreading the progressive message and in keeping our elected officials educated on the issues. Thanks!