Saturday, December 12, 2015

Jill Stein - A Twenty-first Century Jane Addams

The following quote comes from a speech delivered by Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein at the conference on the environment in Paris last week.
“As the crises are interconnected, (violence and climate change) so too the solutions are interconnected. I want to mention a couple, including some that are often left out of the discussion.

• Stop corporate trade agreements that drive environmental destruction.
• Launch a Green New Deal to transform our economy. In the United States this would mean 20 million jobs to create 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, revive our economy, turn the tide on climate change, and make wars for oil obsolete.
• A weapons embargo, beginning by halting US-Saudi arms deals ($100 billion in the past 5 years)
• Demand disclosure from national security agencies: who is really funding and arming terrorists? Release the redacted 28 pages of the 9/11 report so we can know who is behind the growth of extremist groups.
• Close Turkey’s border to terrorist militias. Turkey has already closed it's border to refugees. How about closing it to terrorists?
Ultimately this is a political fight. It is critical that we stand up and stand together across issues, and across borders, to be a unified political force for people planet and peace over profit. The minute we stand up, we are unstoppable. It's time to forget the lesser evil and fight for the greater good. The clock is ticking. It’s in our hands.”  Jill Stein – Green Party candidate for President 2016
From The Peacemaker by Brenda Duffey 

Jane Addams organized a meeting Washington, D.C. in 1915 to establish a Peace Party to call for a ceasefire in Europe and prevent American involvement in that war that became World War I. Three thousand women attended that Conference which came away with plans to organize an international peace convention to be held at The Hague in The Netherlands later that year. Women from all countries involved in the war attended. The fewest number came from France and England because most of the women there could not get passports for travel. The Conference ended with the passage of the following resolutions which a delegation including Jane Addams carried to all the governments of Europe currently involved in war. These were the resolutions:      

·        That no territory should be transferred without the consent of the men and women in it and that the right of conquest should not be recognized.
·        That autonomy and a democratic parliament should not be refused to any people.
·        That the governments of all nations should come to an agreement to refer future international dispute to arbitration or conciliation and to bring social, moral and economic pressure to bear upon any country which resorts to arms.
·        That foreign politics should be subject to democratic control.


When these women returned to the United States they continued in the struggle for peace and the right to vote. That struggle was not an easy one and was met with violence and resistance toward the “radical” women who wanted to have the right to vote. When a Declaration of War was sent to Congress, there was one female in Congress Jeanette Rankin of Wyoming because Wyoming had already given females the right to vote. She joined with some 50 other Congressmen who voted against going to war. The Peace Movement and what it meant for women in the United States involved in it are recounted in Jane Addams’ book “Bread and Peace in Time of War.”  Her efforts for women’s rights, educational rights, fighting world wide hunger and many more were rewarded by placing her on the Red List as a communist during the 1920’s. Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1933, the year Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany and the world’s economy crashed leading to the Great Depression. The only reason women were granted the right to vote in 1919 was because they had to “take up the slack” in America when our young men were sent to fight in the trenches of The War to End All Wars.
Jill Stein’s voice today is still calling for these things that are the desires of American women from the earliest days of our history. It’s time women spoke in one voice instead of being polarized by thinking that the institutions set in place by this small group of men were ever intended to include us or any of the other groups that were disenfranchised from the start. We women want the same thing – I believe that and if we came together and spoke in one voice for peace what we could do in a society that guarantees our freedom to do this.  

Monday, November 30, 2015

Small Business Saturday and the Reason for the Season

          “No one in Newkirk remembered the reason for the season, except Friar Assalam . . .

The opening words of The Season reflect the message intended for the young adult audience of the 21st
 Century, but it is a message for all generations. My inspiration for “The Season” was borne from the tragic killings in New Town, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. I wanted to write a fantasy with a metaphorical message about the tragedy and what can be done to “return the robin’s song” to replace senseless violence.  
“The Season” chronicles a young man’s journey to the mountains to study the ancient texts that describe the reason for the season and his work to return the “robin’s song” to an area that has descended into crass commercialism and loss of interpersonal relationships due to the rise of social media. Since the publishing of the short story, there has been a small but growing revolution to balance the commercial intent of Christmas with a return to the original intent of the season. One such event is the designation of the Saturday after Black Friday as Small Business Saturday to emphasize shopping local and small on that day.  I was one of 15 local authors invited to Dog Eared Books to set up a table and sell my books Saturday. My experience has rejuvenated my belief that we are moving toward a solution to some of these horrific scenes of violence that seem to ironically escalate during the season of peace and good will. 
When I arrived at the book store I was greeted by T.J. Rayhill, the owner who happens to be a student at Campbellsville University. Helping him was his grandmother Diana who cordially greeted each author and talked to us about our books. She assisted in picture taking and general host type duties. T.J.’s younger brother was dressed as Dewey the Dog and posed with each child who came into the store and there were many – all coming with parents and grandparents. It was a genuine family experience. The children were as enthusiastic about the books as were there parents. There was a nice assortment of customers coming through during the day and I sold quite a few books during my two and one-half hours there. The highlight of my day, however, was the sale of a copy of The Season to a woman who came with her eleven year old son. She told me of her intent to read the story with her son during this holiday season. If I sold only that one story, the day would have been a success.

Monday, November 9, 2015

One Simple Minded Opinion on a Complex Subject

A Portland Resident and Lay Person’s View about the Proposed Digest er

            I am a third generation resident of Portland. I grew up in the Neighborhood in the 50’s and 60’s and know from first hand experience the attention residents in this part of Louisville receive from the city as far as garbage pick-up, clean and well- maintained streets and sidewalks as well as the general attitude that Portland is the neighborhood where all the “trash” goes. My parents and other neighbors were always busy cleaning up and doing the best they could to keep our “side of the street clean.”
            I have returned to Portland after years away and have become actively involved in all the activities going on to revitalize our neighborhood and uplift our image. I have been actively following the efforts of a group of people interested in creating the area known as Food port that will impact my neighborhood. When I attended the first informational meeting at Western Middle School, I was fascinated with the idea of the digester – a contraption that will take food waste and create energy from the methane gas produced.   
Wow! I thought. I remember the stinky smells from garbage cans and areas around the River that people used to dump their food waste when I was a kid. I didn’t like those stinky smells in my neighborhood. Technology can be wonderful when used wisely. I know all too well the dangers of misuse of the internet and all that has brought into our society, so I appreciated the Food port representatives setting up informational meetings and answering all the questions directed to them honestly and straightforwardly. I was excited about the possibility of creating energy (clean energy) from garbage. I had read all kinds of reports of this already in use in Japan and countries in Europe. Therefore, I was stunned to read the article in the Courier-Journal a few weeks ago that said the digester was being suspended because of strong neighborhood resistance on the idea that this was just another way of “dumping” on poor neighborhoods.
I thought about that a lot as I was volunteering with PUP (Picking up Portland) and picking up lots of food waste that consumers here in Portland were dumping onto our streets and vacant lots. If we don’t want to be dumped on, then stop dumping on ourselves and our neighbors and expect somebody else to carry your waste to a landfill that may or may not be in your neighborhood.
 Like all citizens, I am concerned about air pollution from chemicals, so I did a little research about the chemicals being released into our air, water and soil – that are the major culprits. I also read about some of the technologies and methods being used and studied to combat this problem. I have copied and pasted some articles I found on the internet for you to read. This is not overly technical. It is easy to read and understand. After reading, I hope you will discover ways that you can help as an individual and better understand the things that are being done by our government and its agents to help us all.

“Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. In 2013, CO2 accounted for about 82% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Carbon dioxide is naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the Earth's carbon cycle (the natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere, oceans, soil, plants, and animals). Human activities are altering the carbon cycle—both by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and by influencing the ability of natural sinks, like forests, to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While CO2 emissions come from a variety of natural sources, human-related emissions are responsible for the increase that has occurred in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution.” [1]

 The main human activity that emits CO2 is the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) for energy and transportation, although certain industrial processes and land-use changes also emit CO2. On the individual level this means: driving, electrical energy use and consumption of manufactured products and processed foods. What can individuals do to reduce this? Reduce (driving, turn off lights or energy using appliances when not in use). Reuse (Stop throwing away so much, especially one-time use plastics). It takes fossil fuels to manufacture that plastic bottle you drink your water from and the plastic also creates noxious gas as it is left to decompose on the sidewalk, in yards or in a landfill. Recycle -Stop throwing away materials that can be reused.

“Methane gas is also dangerous to the environment and its percentages in the atmosphere have increased since the Industrial Revolution. What is the main source of methane in our environment? “About 60 percent of global methane emissions stem from human activity—aside from landfills, the chief anthropogenic culprits are natural gas production and use, coal mines, and "enteric fermentation" (the polite term for the burps of livestock).” Therefore, what can humans do to decrease the amount of methane being produced by our garbage? “As a consumer, you can help a minuscule amount by reducing the amount of waste you send to landfills. But the most promising solutions aren't on the end-user level. The Lantern mentioned one such remedy a few weeks back: capturing methane from landfills and then using it to generate electricity or to supply gas-hungry industrial operations. In the agricultural realm, those cow burps can be made less methane-rich by fiddling with the animals' diets; Australian scientists contend, for example, that adding cottonseed oil to livestock feed can reduce each cow's methane emissions by up to 30 percent. (The typical cow belches forth about a third of a pound of methane per day.)”

These are not a bunch of scientific charts with numbers and exponential s and complicated math. I have simply written down the things I considered when I first heard about the digest er. I still don’t know if it is perfectly safe, however, in my simple mind, I think the dangers of the digest er are far less than what I have heard about nuclear waste and pipelines. I do, however, prefer a machine that takes garbage that has been dumped and puts it into a machine that scrubs it and turns it into energy or fertilizer to breathing in the methane from careless dumping of waste. This is much more preferable in my opinion than living in a neighborhood where I have to walk past and smell toxic cigarette butts and food and container waste left on the sidewalk or vacant lots or clogging our drains.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I Voted - Did You?

What a great fall morning! I walked to the polls – only one-half a block away from my house. This was quite a change for me because of the many years I lived in Oregon where the vote is done at home through a mail in ballot. I liked this for many reasons. One was that with every ballot I received a booklet that contained unbiased information about all the candidates and how their stand on the issues would impact me as the voter. After years of the mail in ballot, however, I now live in Kentucky and for the first time in almost 20 years, I walked to the polls and voted. I even used a paper ballot! Boy, did that remind me of our heritage as voters in a free country!

Now, to the actual ballot. One of the best things about living in Kentucky is that the election for the state executive offices from the governor on down as well as members of the judicial branch are held in odd numbered years. That gave me a chance to really focus on the election of state officials and who I wanted to vote for and not rely on simply checking a straight party ticket. This is not how I vote. I look at each issue and think about how that affects me as a voter who wants to use my vote to make a stand on the issues not any one Party or personality. As I made my decision, I took two issues that are most important to me and looked for the candidate who might take a stand on them.

In the race for governor, unfortunately, I found no candidate willing to take a stand against dirty coal which has a grip on this state much like the tobacco industry of the late 20th Century. Yes, a lot of people lost jobs when the facts about health and smoking came to light, but since Kentucky was a tobacco producing state from the growing of tobacco to the manufacture of tobacco, no candidate for any office – Democrat as well as Republican – ever took a stand against that. Kentucky’s health rates due to excessive cigarette smoking are the major cause of the burden of health care right now due to heart disease, emphysema, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and lung cancer. I have lost three relatives too soon to the diseases and the culprit – cigarette smoking.

Now, we are dealing with health issues from asthma to chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, etc. The cause dirty air and water. Major cause – fracking. Instead of tobacco, we now have Peabody Coal controlling the voting public in most of Kentucky, especially Pike County, in the name of jobs. Therefore, in making my decision for governor, I had to vote against someone, not really for someone. I hate this method of voting, but that was my only choice.

In the race for Cabinet Departments, I again had to make a decision based on voting against something instead of for something. I voted against the candidates who used attack ads. Those were for state auditor. For the Secretary of Agriculture, I found I had a choice.  In the ads I saw for this post, I discovered both candidates told why they wanted to have this post as it related to Kentucky agriculture. I voted for the candidate that stated clearly his desire to return Kentucky to family farms and local production of food. That is more important to me than joining the bloc against Monsanto in the federal government. Family farms and local producers are using different methods and when I buy from them I can go right to the producer and find out the methods they use and decide whether or not to buy from them. For Secretary of State, I voted for Allison Grimes, a real candidate who cares about Kentucky and ran for the Senate against Mitch McConnell last year. Her loss was unfortunate because she made a weak effort to take on Kentucky’s dirty coal but the people here aren’t ready for that.

In the Judiciary, I voted for the judge that I believe would best represent fairness and justice when making decisions in the courts here. Well, that’s my story. I voted, did you?

Monday, November 2, 2015

November is Peace Month

The World’s Most Famous WAR MEMORIAL POEM
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Lieutenant Colonel John McCraeIn Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

On May 2, 1915, John McCrae’s close friend and former student Alexis Helmer was killed by a German shell. That evening, in the absence of a Chaplain, John McCrae recited from memory a few passages from the Church of England’s “Order of the Burial of the Dead”. For security reasons Helmer’s burial in Essex Farm Cemetery was performed in complete darkness.
The next day, May 3, 1915, Sergeant-Major Cyril Allinson was delivering mail. McCrae was sitting at the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the YserCanal, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, Belgium.
In Flanders Fields Poem
As John McCrae was writing his In Flanders Fields poem, Allinson silently watched and later recalled, “His face was very tired but calm as he wrote. He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."
Within moments, John McCrae had completed the “In Flanders Fields” poem and when he was done, without a word, McCrae took his mail and handed the poem to Allinson.
Allinson was deeply moved:
“The (Flanders Fields) poem was an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene."
Photo © 2006-2009
In Flanders

Thursday, October 29, 2015

What Did our Founding Fathers Really Want?

This post is about a well known document that has been preserved in history and has become known as Washington’s Farewell Address. I keep seeing many posts with faces of our Founding Fathers and rhetoric to support whatever interpretation some special interest group is promoting that day. When I taught American history, I always taught this farewell address at the end of the year’s study and asked my students to go back and write an essay and describe with any of the events we had studied during the year to support their thesis about the successful establishment of a “republic . . . with liberty and justice for all” and as they became voting citizens what they might do to correct anything. This was my final exam. It was not a multiple choice or short answer to test students’ knowledge of military history or the biographies of all the white Presidents. I wrote a book and continue to work in retirement trying to help the voting public understand the basic structure of a government that is a representative democracy and all of the parts of the Constitution and Bill of Rights that were written to make sure the republic continued. I think this was the sincere wish of George Washington. When he was asked to run for a third term, he declined not because of health but because he knew that giving one person too much power would threaten a successful republic. I hope you read this. These are just excerpts that are available on line. If you wish to read the entire text it is available.  

George Washington's Farewell Address is a letter written by the first American President, George Washington, to "The People of the United States of America".[1] Washington wrote the letter near the end of his second term as President, before his retirement to his home Mount Vernon. Originally published in Daved Claypole's American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796, under the title "The Address of General Washington To The People of The United States on his declining of the Presidency of the United States," the letter was almost immediately reprinted in newspapers across the country and later in a pamphlet form.[2] The work was later named a "Farewell Address," as it was Washington's valedictory after 20 years of service to the new nation. It is a classic statement of republicanism, warning Americans of the political dangers they can and must avoid if they are to remain true to their values.

Checks and balances and separation of powers

Washington continues his defense of the Constitution by stating his belief that the system of checks and balances and separation of powers within it are important means of preventing a single person or group from seizing control of the country, and advises the American people that if they believe it is necessary to modify the powers granted to the government through the Constitution it should be done through constitutional amendments instead of through force. This statement takes on added significance from a man who commanded the armies of British colonists who waged an armed rebellion against the British Government, during the American Revolution, and helped build a plan for a new government against the wishes of the acting Articles of Confederation government during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. The French Revolution, which had fallen into a Reign of Terror during Washington's second term, may have helped shape Washington's opinion that while armed rebellions may sometimes result in good; they most often lead to the fall of free governments.

Political parties

Washington continues to advance his idea of the dangers of sectionalism and expands his warning to include the dangers of political parties to the government and country as a whole. His warnings took on added significance with the recent creation of the Democratic-Republican Party by Jefferson, to oppose Hamilton's Federalist Party, which had been created a year earlier in 1791, which in many ways promoted the interest of certain regions and groups of Americans over others. A more pressing concern for Washington, which he references in this portion of the address, was the Democratic-Republican efforts to align with France and the Federalist efforts to ally the nation with Great Britain in an ongoing conflict between the two European nations brought about by the French Revolution.
While Washington accepts the fact that it is natural for people to organize and operate within groups like political parties, he also argues that every government has recognized political parties as an enemy and has sought to repress them because of their tendency to seek more power than other groups and take revenge on political opponents.[12]
Moreover, Washington makes the case that "the alternate domination" of one party over another and coinciding efforts to exact revenge upon their opponents have led to horrible atrocities, and "is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism." From Washington's perspective and judgment, the tendency of political parties toward permanent despotism is because they eventually and "gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual."[13]
Washington goes on and acknowledges the fact that parties are sometimes beneficial in promoting liberty in monarchies, but argues that political parties must be restrained in a popularly elected government because of their tendency to distract the government from their duties, create unfounded jealousies among groups and regions, raise false alarms amongst the people, promote riots and insurrection, and provide foreign nations and interests access to the government where they can impose their will upon the country.

Religion, morality, and education

Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. (Note that Washington only talks about a national morality that comes from religious tenets – not the practice of a particular religion. The 1st Amendment to the Constitution forbids this.)

Credit and government borrowing

Washington provides strong support for a balanced federal budget, arguing that the nation's credit is an important source of strength and security. He urges the American people to preserve the national credit by avoiding war, avoiding unnecessary borrowing, and paying off any national debt accumulated in times of war as quickly as possible in times of peace so that future generations do not have to take on the financial burdens that others have taken on themselves. Despite his warnings to avoid taking on debt, Washington does state his belief that sometimes it is necessary to spend money to prevent dangers or wars that will in the end cost more if not properly prepared for. At these times, argues Washington, it is necessary, although unpleasant, for the people to cooperate by paying taxes created to cover these precautionary expenses.
Washington makes an extended allusion, possibly in reference to the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania which he led a national army to put down, on how important it is for the government to be careful in choosing the items that will be taxed, but he also reminds the American people that no matter how hard the government tries there will never be a tax which is not inconvenient, unpleasant, or seemingly an insult to those who must pay it.

Foreign relations and free trade

Once again making reference to proper behavior based upon religious doctrine and morality, Washington advocates a policy of good faith and justice towards all nations, and urges the American people to avoid long-term friendly relations or rivalries with any nation. He argues these attachments and animosity toward nations will only cloud the government's judgment in its foreign policy. Washington argues that longstanding poor relations will only lead to unnecessary wars due to a tendency to blow minor offenses out of proportion when committed by nations viewed as enemies of the United States. He continues this argument by claiming that alliances are likely to draw the United States into wars which have no justification and no benefit to the country beyond simply defending the favored nation. Washington continues his warning on alliances by claiming that they often lead to poor relations with nations who feel that they are not being treated as well as America's allies, and threaten to influence the American government into making decisions based upon the will of their allies instead of the will of the American people.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Nov. 7 Summit

Nov. 7 Summit 

This is an important gathering for anyone who lives in Kentucky who would like to see our state restored to the prosperity and abundance that existed in peace until the Western Europeans arrived. Read more about it in "The Peacemaker" available at