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Act Fluoride and the Expense of Germ Warfare

This afternoon, as I was finishing shopping for my family, I came upon two fluoride rinses.  We live in the country and draw from well water, so a fluoride rinse is necessary for the kiddos.  I couldn’t help but notice that there were two versions of ACT brand fluoride for sale at two different prices:

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I noticed that the more expensive ACT promises more to the consumer: the joy of killing nasty, evil germs. What’s the chemical responsible for this righteous germ warfare?  Let’s look at the ingredients and compare them.

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Well, my word.  Other than different dyes, the ingredient lists are exactly the same.  How curious.  I had no idea that spending more money for the same product had an antibiotic effect.

Hillary Clinton Illegally Coordinates With Priorities USA Super PAC

When the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that political action committees could raise unlimited funds to support or oppose candidates for federal office, it was promised that we needn’t worry about the money leading to corruption, because it would remain illegal for candidates and their campaigns to coordinate with the PACs, and therefore, no direct bribery could occur. In fact, candidates have been crossing this theoretical barrier behind the scenes ever since the Citizens United ruling was handed down, and the FEC has done nothing to stop the corrupt activity.

hillary clinton corruption priorities usaNow, the Hillary Clinton for President campaign is bringing the corruption out into the light of day – not by confronting in it, but by engaging in the corruption openly. Clinton has begun making statements in public encouraging her supporters to dump large amounts of money into the Priorities USA Action PAC, which will be spending the money to support the Clinton for President campaign. Hillary Clinton is openly coordinating with Priorities USA in violation of federal elections law, encouraging people to use the PAC to give her what are essentially huge bribes.

I’m not writing this as a right wing Hillary hater. I’m a liberal, not a conservative, but I don’t think it matters much whether politicians use progressive or regressive talk to mask their corruption. All political corruption is inherently conservative, as it supports the unjust power of wealthy families and huge corporations. Progressives are not well represented by candidates like Clinton who support the interests of financial elites in return for big money.

The electoral system that the Supreme Court assured us would prevent corruption is no longer functioning. The Federal Election Commission isn’t doing anything to stop this criminal activity on the part of the Clinton for President campaign, because the FEC has been purposefully deadlocked by Democratic and Republican appointees who are content to allow bribery of presidential and congressional candidates to spread.

There is one more line of defense of democracy that can stop Hillary Clinton: Voters. Democratic voters have the responsibility to take a stand against the obvious corruption of the Hillary Clinton campaign by supporting one of her Democratic rivals. Support for the Bernie Sanders campaign would be especially helpful, given that he has pledged to take no corporate money at all, while the other Democratic presidential candidates have been less than clear on the subject.

Some Clinton loyalists will howl at the suggestion that Democratic voters turn away from their candidate. They’ll say that we’ll throwing the election to the Republicans. They’ll say that Hillary Clinton has no choice but to match the big money politics of the Republicans. They’ll say that it’s sexist not to support a female candidate for President.

First of all, it’s sexist to vote for a female candidate just because she’s female. To do so is to reduce the candidate to nothing but her gender, which is one of the least consequential things any candidate brings to the job. Also, Hillary Clinton is not the only female candidate for President. Jill Stein is the front runner in the Green Party presidential contest.

Democratic stalwarts will tell you that a vote for Bernie Sanders of Jill Stein is a waste, because Sanders and Stein can’t win. This argument is a tautology, of course. Sanders and Stein can’t win because wimpy liberal voters are afraid to support candidates who actually represent their values. They’re convinced that their votes are owned by the Democratic Party.

Well, you get what you vote for. If you want to be owned by the Democratic Party, which is being controlled by Hillary Clinton, who is being paid off by the 1 Percent financial elites, the choice you’re making is to support the corruption, to be bought off by it yourself.

If Democrats are going to be such passive citizens, why should they bother to vote at all? Why don’t they just stand by and clap, as the corporations and wealthy families of America announce who the Democratic nominee will be?

Priorities USA Action says that it “will define a clear choice for the American public during the 2016 presidential election”.

Are you going to allow this corrupt dark money super PAC to buy you off? We have to do better than that.

If Hillary Clinton’s corruption leads liberal voters to give their support to other presidential candidates, and then the Republicans win the White House, it will be Hillary Clinton who has thrown the election.

The Ineffectual Landscaping Fabric of Despair

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What this landscaping fabric was not good for: restraining weeds.  As you can see, roots have shot right through it.

What this landscaping fabric is great for: poking up through the weeds that have taken over the spot in garish white plastic strips.

The previous inhabitants of my home laid this stuff down meaning well, I’m sure, but I was really glad to rip it out.  The positive side of all that work is a whole lot of overturned soil.  I have 20 square feet to plant in a semi-shady spot, oh boy oh boy.  Whatever shall I put there?  I can’t decide whether empty possibility or actual germination is better.

Congress Shows The True Face Of All Of The Above Energy

When it comes to energy, the Republican Party has developed what it thinks is a smooth tactic. Republicans saw that the “drill baby drill” motto, which reached its height during the failed presidential campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin, was too crass in its play for financial donations from Big Oil. It made GOP politicians look baldly corrupt.

So, the latest party line for Republican politicians is to say that they support an All-Of-The-Above energy policy, which means that they believe that every idea industry comes up with for producing energy is deserving of support. Sometimes, Republican politicians simply say that their energy policy is “all of the above”. Other times, as with Mike Huckabee, they’ll say that the USA ought to do “anything and everything” to get more energy.

In the case of Republican U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith, the All-Of-The-Above party line on energy sounds like this: “Coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, hydro-power, domestic oil, and biomass all may play a critical role in America’s energy future.”

At first glance, these policies seem reasonable and moderate, not to be pushing for any particular form of energy, but simply saying yes to anything. Who could say no to saying yes?

But then, isn’t it the job of our elected leaders to exercise discernment? Isn’t the essence of good policy to differentiate between reasonable ideas and unreasonable ones? Imagine if we accepted this All-Of-The-Above strategy for education. We’d place books in school libraries without any care for whether they were well-written or accurate. We’d feed children any food, without regard to whether it was nutritious. We’d teach students any idea that came into our heads, whether it had any solid connection to reality at all.

all of the above energy policy morgan griffithIn energy policy, quality matters. It matters that fossil fuels are an outdated source of energy that spread massive amounts of pollution when they are refined and when they are used. It matters that they contribute to climate change. It matters that fossil fuels are not a renewable resource, and require dangerous methods of extraction from the ground. An All-Of-The-Above energy policy asserts that these matters aren’t worth thinking about.

So, if we were to accept the Republicans’ All-Of-The-Above energy policy at face value, we would have to conclude that it’s sloppy and lazy. What makes matters worse is that we can’t accept the All-Of-The-Above energy policy at face value. In truth, what All-Of-The-Above energy policy means is that fossil fuels continue to dominate, receiving massive amounts of government assistance and loopholes in regulations, while clean, sustainable sources of energy are marginalized.

An example of this was provided yesterday by Morgan Griffith, the Republican congressman who likes to say that “Coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, hydro-power, domestic oil, and biomass all may play a critical role in America’s energy future,” but what Griffith says and what he does aren’t at all the same thing. Griffith’s actions in Congress, behind the All-Of-The-Above facade, are consistently to protect the fossil fuels industry from competition from clean, sustainable alternatives.

Yesterday, before the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2016 came up for a final vote, Representative Griffith offered an amendment to take 50 million dollars from the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy fund, which is already $266 million below its level of funding from last year, and to redirect that money to a fund to pay the fossil fuels industry. “We must take action to ensure that we can still use coal,” Griffith said while introducing his amendment. 175 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted for Morgan Griffith’s amendment, attacking clean energy.

The Republicans’ All-Of-The-Above energy policy is nothing more than a new name for burning up the same old dirty, unrenewable sources of energy that our grandparents used. We have to do better than that.

Success!

From the University of North Georgia Spring 2015 Professional and Continuing Education Catalog…

Why follow when you can coast to victory using your white male privilege?

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North Carolina Voter Registration Selectively Drops — is this Vote Suppression?

Progressive blogger DocDawg has discovered a highly curious pattern in North Carolina, where by federal law the state government is required to reach out to citizens at the DMV and in public assistance offices and offer them a chance to register to vote.  You can read the details here, but I’ll cut right to the chase in this summary.  Since Republican Governor Pat McCrory took office…

  • … there has been essentially no change in the rate of new voter registrations at offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • … the rate of new voter registrations at public assistance offices is less than half of what it was.

The DMV tends to be frequented by people who can afford to register and drive cars.  Public assistance offices tend to be frequented by people who can’t afford food, much less cars.  Guess which of these populations is more likely to vote Republican?

In case you’re wondering, this pattern holds when DocDawg and his team of muckrakers control for the number of visits to public assistance and DMV offices — so it’s not the consequence of changes in traffic.

Is this definitive proof of active voter suppression?  No.  Is this a pattern that merits serious investigation?  Absolutely.

Hillary Clinton And GOP Presidential Candidates Ignore 400 Parts Per Million

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that, for the first time in human history, the global average level of carbon dioxide in our planet’s history has reached 400 parts per million. In the 1960s, the global average CO2 concentration was around 320 parts per million.

What’s more, NOAA data show that the rate of increase of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is now at the fastest pace ever recorded, rising an average of 2.25 parts per million every year in the most recent three year period.

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In response, Ben Carson has been silent. “Carbon dating, all these things, really doesn’t mean anything to a God who has the ability to create anything at any point in time,” Carson says when asked about scientific issues. Ted Cruz also has said nothing about the increase. He has claimed instead that “for the last 17 years there’s been zero warming, none whatsoever”, though actually the data shows that global warming has continued.

Carly Fiorina said nothing. Mike Huckabee said nothing. Rand Paul said nothing. Marco Rubio said nothing. Jeb Bush said nothing.

To be bipartisan in my criticism, I have to point out that Hillary Clinton has not publicly spoken about the issue of climate change even once since she declared her candidacy last month. Given that Clinton was the leader of the U.S. diplomatic delegation to the recent climate talks in Copenhagen – at which the United States refused to support robust climate agreements, and her support for the expansion of drilling for fossil fuels, her continuing climate silence is especially concerning.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has come out speaking strongly on the issue of climate change from the start, noting in his announcement speech that “Right now, in terms of issues, we have a Republican Party that with few exceptions does not even recognize the reality of climate change, let alone that it is caused by human activity, let alone that the scientific community tells us that this is the major global environmental crisis that we face, and I want to see this nation lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels, to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”

Sanders has continued to give attention to climate change as he campaigns, telling Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent just a few days ago that, “Not only is climate change real and caused by human activity, but it is already causing devastating problems in America and around the world. In terms of the kind of planet we are going to leave our kids and grandchildren, the scientists tell us that if we do not get our act together, this planet may be five to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by the end of this century. Just think of all the cataclysmic impacts that will mean,” with concrete policy proposals that include “a tax on carbon; a massive investment in solar, wind, geothermal; it would be making sure that every home and building in this country is properly winterized; it would be putting substantial money into rail, both passenger and cargo, so we can move towards breaking our dependency on automobiles. And it would be leading other countries around the world.”

Why Doesn’t Your U.S. Rep Support The End Warrantless Surveillance of Americans Act?

Yesterday, a Democrat and two Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the End Warrantless Surveillance of Americans Act, H.R. 2233. The bill would, if passed, prohibit the government from forcing software and technology companies to create “back doors” – secret means through which government agents can enter supposedly secure information systems to search through private information without being detected by users. These back doors have also been used by criminal hackers to steal private data for years.

us congress redThe legislation would also ban the federal government from searching through databases it has accumulated for information about U.S. citizens without obtaining a search warrant first.

Has your U.S. Representative supported H.R. 2233? Not unless you are represented by Lofgren, Poe, or Massie.

Why don’t you give a call to your member of Congress, through the switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask when you will see his or her name added to the list of co sponsors of the End Warrantless Surveillance of Americans Act?

Bernie Sanders Isn’t Socialist Enough For The Socialist Worker

Bernie Sanders has become known for the being the presidential candidate who isn’t afraid to call himself a “socialist”. To the people who put the social in socialist, however, Sanders isn’t all that. The Socialist Worker writes,

Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire“By steering liberal and left supporters into a Democratic Party whose policies and politics he claims to disagree with, Sanders–no matter how critical he might be of Hillary Clinton–is acting as the opposite of an ‘alternative.'”

“But if Sanders really wanted to participate in mobilizing millions to resist the status quo in U.S. politics, he had other options to launching himself into the circus of a Democratic presidential campaign as the designated marginal renegade. And he rejected them.”

“In other words, Sanders refused to consider an independent presidential campaign not because he had little chance of winning, but because he didn’t want to compete for vote with the Democrats’ eventual nominee. There’s no reason to believe he will be a “bold alternative” at the end of his doomed campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.”

“LIKE MANY leftists before him, the Democratic Party has co-opted and changed Bernie Sanders, using him to help hinder the development of a genuine alternative to the capitalist parties. His campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination will be, at best, a re-run of Jesse Jackson’s primary runs in 1984 and 1988.”

I understand the Socialist Worker’s reluctance to embrace the Sanders for President campaign. They’ve been busy building up the idea of Socialism as a movement of political outsiders who struggle to gain a few new members by hanging on to the outskirts of of liberal protests. For Bernie Sanders to come along and, as America’s only well-known socialist, embrace the Democratic Party as a vehicle of political activism must be very frustrating. Sanders won’t be creating any lasting advantage for those outside the two dominant political parties. His goal is to create change within the Democratic Party, and there is good reason, given the Democrats’ dependence on cash from corporations and wealthy families, to doubt whether his effort can create any genuine reform.

However, a Democratic contest without Bernard Sanders in it would be impoverished. Hillary Clinton is no liberal, and none of the other Democratic candidates currently in the race have anything like the standing of Sanders. Even if Sanders doesn’t win a single state, he will have the opportunity to ensure that a liberal voice is heard.

When he Democratic primary is over, another liberal voice can take on the challenge of contrasting the conservative agenda of Clinton. Jill Stein of the Green Party has some credibility to take on that role, though she lacks the experience of Sanders. Voting Sanders in a Democratic primary, then Stein in the general election, enables Democratic voters to push for reform in their own party without abandoning liberal principles.

Dean Capone of the Socialist Party USA hasn’t even been able to summon the wherewithal to create a campaign web site. Is there another socialist candidate for president? I can’t find one.

HKONJ Movement in North Carolina Pushes On, Strong

HKONJ — Historic Thousands On Jones Street — is a North Carolina movement that has transcended the Mondays of the Tar Heel state’s Moral Mondays marches in the state capital of Raleigh.  The progressive organization makes this purple state more active than its blue peers, adding to the breadth of the Moral Mondays movement with specific, targeted actions.  On Thursday, May 7, HKONJ will be protesting outside (and doing something inside) the O.J. Miller Auditorium in Charlotte as Duke Energy holds its annual meeting, drawing attention to the ways that Duke Energy makes the economy unfair and makes environmental quality dubious.  On the very same day, HKONJ will make its presence known in a march on Winston-Salem, pressuring the tobacco corporation Reynolds to treat its workers more like human beings.  On June 1, a march from North Carolina to Washington DC commences in order to bring attention to the problem of crumbling rural hospital infrastructure and the very real threat to the health of the rural poor should those hospitals be shut down.

A thousand miles away, I send a message of respect and admiration.  If you’re living in North Carolina yourself, you can do more than admire the gumption of these activists.  Put your body in the protest.  Be there.

Mike Huckabee Is Faithful To the Issue Of Marriage, Not To Marriage Itself

Today, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said, “I am absolutely faithful to the issue of marriage. Not because it’s politically expedient, but because it’s the Biblical position, the historical position and the right position. We must defend, protect and preserve traditional marriage.”

I find it odd how Huckabee says that he is faithful to the issue of marriage. How can a person be faithful to an issue?

Huckabee’s odd language seems to be a consequence of the fact that he is actually opposed to marriage for huge numbers of Americans. He wants to use the power of Big Government to interfere with people’s families, and stop them from getting married.

Mike Huckabee is actually anti-marriage. He doesn’t think that that gay and lesbian couples should get married. He’s actually trying to break up the weddings of strangers.

Mike Huckabee is faithful to making an issue out of other people’s marriages, getting all nosy and in their business. He’s spent so many years as a preacher that he actually believes its his legitimate role in society to put himself in the middle of other people’s lives.

What’s so important to justify Huckabee’s intrusion? He says that he has to defend and protect marriage – but from who? No state, anywhere, has attacked what Mike Huckabee calls “traditional marriage”. In no place in the USA is it illegal for a man and a woman to get married.

Huckabee isn’t helping anybody by trying to stop gay and lesbian couples from getting married. He’s only seeking to impose his idea of faith on everybody else.

Mike Huckabee is being rude and disrespectful to millions of Americans. We don’t need to see that kind of attitude in the White House.