From the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
Three factors are influencing our priorities:
Timing and leveraging momentum
Free and fair elections, the foundation of our democracy, are being unravelled right now
Situations that are severely threatening.
Black Lives Matter
Much has changed this year. Black and White Americans have stood up against racism and brutality. Reflect for a moment on some of the early beginnings in the 1960s, including the steadfast, peaceful activists, and the passage, under President Lynden Johnson, of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in 1964 and 1965. However, more work remained and still does.
As more Black Americans have died for trivial transgressions at the hands of police, protests by steadfast, peaceful activists have grown. In March 2021 the US House has passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which would end choke and carotid holds, no-knock warrants in Federal drug cases, qualified immunity, racial discrimination and profiling, require a police misconduct registry. It would also provide for more training in better practices. Now the Bill is under negotiation in the Senate where it faces negotiation and compromise and the 60 vote hurdle.
Contact your reps, donate to NAACP or Black Lives Matter, write postcards to disenfranchised black voters, and, if you can, march, taking health safety measures. Press those donate buttons - the Carlisle DTC has donated to both!
"It is important to come back to remember Selma . The vote is powerful. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society and I don't want people to forget that people paid a price." John Lewis, 2015 CNN Interview
Above is the memorial to George Floyd whose life was extinguished when a policeman kept his knee on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes. The jury in the case found the policeman guilty on all three charges.
President Biden: The Balanced View
If you are talking to someone who wants to know what you think about violence and property destruction, remember that President Biden set the position for all of us on this subject, April 20, 2021:
"Peaceful expression[s] of that legacy are inevitable and appropriate, but violent protest is not. And there are those who will seek to exploit the raw emotions of the moment — agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice; who seek to carry out violence, destroy property, to fan the flames of hate and division; who will do everything in their power to stop this country’s march toward racial justice. We can’t let them succeed."
Free and Fair Elections Upon Which Democracy Depends
We are working on all our usual issues to increase voter turnout, ever more difficult since 2013 when the Supreme Court gutted the Voters' Rights Act, and turned nine states loose to reinstate all their old voter suppression practices. Our primary tools are talking to voters, notifying those who have been purged without notice from rolls, and giving instructions on how to get reinstated as a registered voter. We advocate turning state legislatures blue to move toward non-partisan re-districting.
We support applying for mail-in or absentee (with pandemic as a legitimate reason) ballots. We are watching carefully to see if Trump succeeds in putting the USPS out of business in time to suppress mail-in votes in order to block this safe route to voting. At present is a US House bill H.R. 2382 would keep the USPS in business, but the Senate isn't taking it up.
The Wisconsin April 7 primary illustrated the GOP's willingness to risk lives and suppress votes. The State Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Justice Dan Kelly (who was himself up for re-election in the primary) overruled the governor's postponement order. Most appropriately, Dan Kelly lost his bid to liberal Judge Jill Karofsky.
Greenhouse gasses allow solar warmth to penetrate the atmosphere, but do not let heat escape as well as it used to. The world is getting hotter. Even small average temperature increases profoundly affect features like quantity and location of fertile land for crops, storm severity, flooding, loss of diversity of life which (other than bacteria and insects) can't evolve naturally fast enough to adapt. The slower we act, the more major coastal cities we will lose, the more human migrations to remaining temperate locations, and we can expect famines and conflict over scarcer resources. The largest component of greenhouse gasses is CO2, though methane and others need attention too.
This graph shows recent history of US CO2 annual emissions in millions of metric tons.
President Biden announced a new goal
on Earth Day, of reducing emissions below the 2005 peak by 2030. The graph
illustrates this goal in green,
not to scale, and starting
near pre-Covid levels.
This animation is informative and shows that currently China's
coal policy is a huge,
Solutions will be complex. Scientists know that we must dramatically reduce green house gasses, e.g., carbon dioxide, a product of burning fossil fuels for energy. We shall have to dismantle the fossil fuel industry and alter industries, such as transportation, that depend on fossil fuels. And this is a global problem as the Top Emitters animation shows.
Additional information - DOE has everything, though it's a bit of a treasure hunt. All About Oceans explains how and why oceans move - with a sense of humor.
Last, but not least, we must look within ourselves. It seems that within our evolution acting decisively to address future problems has not been a survival trait. We are by nature, procrastinators. Consequently, we are very late admitting and starting to act on climate change. We now need leaders with international relationships who look ahead, set goals, change, and can motivate vast populations to move through major initiatives. We have only a few years now to avoid irreversable change.
The Good News: Federal Government Changes; Massachussets Signs New Roadmap
President Biden, in forming his cabinet appointed John Kerry environmental envoy, responsible for working with other nations. The need for cooperation among nations is plain in the Top Emitters animation above.
On Earth Day 2021, President Biden announced at the virtual climate summit that the US is setting a goal of 50% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030. The graph above shows the drop starting at the level before covid since we may undo all the benefit of covid before action can pass Congress. The infrastructure proposal ($2.3T) includes eliminating all fossil fuel industry subsidies. This will help pay for the transition to green energy.
Re progress in Massachusetts, we have a note with links to short documents that help you understand the latest MA climate change legislation, aka, Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy. Aka, HD 1972. This document is not so short, natch.
Covid-19 Pandemic - April 22, 2021
The US has made fair progress against covid-19. Vaccinations are going well, with a little over 25% of the total population fully vaccinated. The main problem now is the number of people who say they don't plan to get vaccinated. This is going to take more effort (and money) to get enough vaccinated that we achieve herd immunity. The second problem is that our new case counts remain at a high level, permitting a high level of virus replication and mutations. Abroad, cases in India are soaring and there is speculation that new mutations are at workas well as large gatherings around the country. What happens in one country affects everyone.
Refining Immunity Numbers
At least 32M have been immunized naturally. As an approximation, assume that 10% have also received shots, reducing the natural-only immunity to about 28M out of a total of 330M, or about 8.4%. This brings our total immunity up to about 32%. Of course there are two big unknowns: what is the true count of people who have been infected, and how does efficacy of natural immunity compare with vaccination? One thing we do know is that natural immunity leaves people with some covid deficits about 30% of the time and that a subsequent vaccination, frequently clears up these symptoms. Vaccination is best, and future boosters will address variants.
Issue Interdependence and Priorities
Choosing a few areas as priorities (in no particular order), does not mean that we do nothing else. For one thing, individual CDTC members and volunteers choose issues that match their expertise and motivation most closely. The top priorities simply show where most of the CDTC's efforts will be going for the remainder of 2020.
In addition, today's big issues are really multiple issues tangled together. All the broad issues above depend on progress in at least some other issues frequently listed as separate. To make real progress we need people in government who are excellent problem solvers and managers to motivate the American people to enlist, and of teasing the work apart into manageable problem statements and plans. Below are some additional issues and how they relate to one another.
Economy and Jobs
The country needs jobs and a living wage for all workers. Most important, we need to start delivering: the anger of Trump voters arises in part from years of promises without substantive improvement. Studies have shown that there is a large uncounted unemployed worker population, people who have given up. This situation also relates to public health (lower life expectancies) and to the pressure on social programs like food stamps.
More consistent quality education for everyone across the nation, early childhood through high school, could help reduce our disabling national divisions as well has training all of us in civics and the critical thinking needed to detect and reject fake news. Education helps people get jobs, both in today's trades and tomorrow's technology.
Although Democrats differ in plans, all agree that everyone needs access to quality, affordable health care. New effort needs to be made to tackle the skyrocketing cost, for instance: business profits, unlimited malpractice suits that benefit lawyers and drive up liabaility insurance cost, administrative costs. Maybe it is time to look at the German system which relies on heavily regulated private insurance, and is thought to be one of the best?
Campaign Finance, aka Amendment 28
The fact that the Supreme Court, in its Citizens United ruling, approved dark money, is a major problem. Corporate finance of elections is a big obstacle to leaving fossil fuel behind us. Asking - demanding - elected officials benefiting from corporate money to initiate the Constitutional amendment process is the challenge. It involves forcing fans of the status quo out of office. The DTC has publicly endorsed the idea of an Amendment 28 that asserts that corporations do not have the same protected rights of free speech through donations, as individuals. However, we need to avoid an Amendment process that might be hijacked into an overhaul of the Constitution to address all of the GOP's favorite grievances such as gender equality, a woman's right to choose, balanced budget, etc. We support candidates who decline to take corporate money.
National Security and Global Alliances
For most of us, National Security means maintaining our country's physical security and national interests around the world. Now it has increasingly meant security from electronic interference in our physical and electronic infrastructure. An important component is interference in elections, which can be everything from influencing voters' opinions through fake news and social media, through cultivating distrust in election integrity, to actually modifying vote counts. Republicans have normally been keen on security, but Donald Trump, through appointments of large donors and his friends to high government positions, attempts to intimidate and silence the remaining professionals, and withdrawing from international alliances, has seriously undermined our national security. This is yet another reason why the election goal for 2020 is to take all three houses: White, House, Senate. We are also fortunate to have Joe Biden as the candidate for President. He has extensive international experience and ties to rebuild our alliances.