Responsible Governance Category

What I've Learned from the Campaign

As I am looking at this last week of campaigning, several things stand out to me.

The good:

1.       I’ve met some incredible people along the way- good, “salt of the earth” folks, who I believe will continue to be friends for the future, whether we win or lose this race.

2.       Most people want a better future for their children and beyond.

3.       CD25 is a beautiful district- from the Hill Country, lakes, rivers, cattle and sheep country, cities, suburban and rural. All have something positive to offer their residents.

4.       There are reasonable people on both sides, people who are willing to listen to reason, who understand science, and who won’t let ideology rule their lives.

The bad:

1.       I’m astounded at the names I’ve been called by people who never met me- the B-word, the C-word, and more. Really? That is how you were brought up, to attack someone personally because you disagree with her beliefs, when you don’t even know them?

2.       There are many “intentionally ignorant” folks- people who refuse to believe science, who refuse to believe that humankind is impacting climate change at all, when the science is truly irrefutable. They have attacked me far more about my climate change video that even my gun safety one!

3.       There are those who don’t care that our current congressperson has received over 75% of his donations from people outside of the district (equaling ~90% of his money), or that he has spent very little actually campaigning, mostly for entertainment & meals (expensive meals!), staff salaries and consultants. They also don’t care about his long-term ethics problems, dating back to the 1980s.

 

My takeaway is this:

Change is difficult, I get that. But if we want our descendants to thrive, we must change some of the ways we’re doing things. Right now, for example, we subsidize the fossil fuel industry, as well as industrial farming that produces many of the products used in junk food. (A Twinkie is made with 17% subsidized products, for example.) WHY are we subsidizing industries that harm us, drive our healthcare costs up, and then scream when folks want to make changes to move those subsidies to industries that will help drive our healthcare costs down? For example, our air is predicted to be so bad by 2025, Texas will lead the nation in illnesses such as asthma, and other illnesses caused by oil & gas production.

 

That will drive our healthcare costs up even more, not to mention harming our children! If, however, we changed our subsidies to wind, solar, thorium, and battery backup R&D, we could clean up our air tremendously.

 

We subsidize industrial farm interests, and they grow a large number of products that end up in junk food. Why are we subsidizing them, and not organic farmers, or at least those growing fruits and vegetables that are used to eat, not to make high fructose corn syrup? We need to look at the way we do farming in our country, and change that model, too. Large industrial farms use tons of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, all of which are bad for our earth and people. It is a HUGE industry with billions of dollars. It won’t be easy to change, but if VOTERS will insist to their Congress people and Senators, and stay on them, making it clear they will lose votes if they don’t vote for change, we CAN change the systems. I am not opposed to the government helping the industrial farms change their model, but I am very much opposed to continuing things as they are.

 

It is insanity (and short term greed) to continue to subsidize these industries that are killing us, yet, the fearful attack me for daring to ask “why”. It is like the old saying, “Feed the hungry, and you’re called a saint, ask WHY they’re hungry, and you’re called a communist.” I’m neither, just someone who wants better for my daughter’s future, and all our descendants. In the Cherokee Nation, we’re supposed to look at the results of decisions we make 7 generations into the future. Imagine if decisions were made like that! It wouldn’t be this greedy “IBG” (I don’t care what happens in the future because “I’ll be gone”) mindset.

 

PT Barnum said it best- “It is much easier to fool people than to convince them they’ve been fooled.” Just as science finally won out in the tobacco wars (yes, smoking DOES cause cancer in the majority of folks exposed to it), I believe science will win out in the energy and food sector. The question is, will it be too late? In parts of Florida, rising sea levels are already impacting them. We’ve got a pretty long coastline in Texas, it may not be in CD25, but I hope we are understand that what we do (or don’t) impacts other people, and that what we do to others matters.

Posted on 2 Nov 2016, 10:07 - Category: Responsible Governance

Republicans bury their head in sand, betting lives that climate change isn't real

In mid-June, Congress passed an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill to block funding for military planning to prepare for climate change.  Every Democrat voted against the amendment, but almost every Republican, including those in the Texas delegation, voted for it, thus denying critical resources to our military. 

This amendment is a serious mistake, and now we can only hope that the Senate does not agree to adopt it in conference committee. We expect our military to keep us safe, now and in the future, and that requires planning. They deserve our full support in that incredibly difficult mission.    

The amendment to block funding for this vital planning is a mistake for at least three reasons:

First, it undermines our military.  Since the George W. Bush Administration, the Department of Defense has identified climate change as a serious threat. Climate change is expected to cause a host of security issues, including water and food shortages, mass migrations of people, humanitarian crises and conflict over water resources. Rising sea levels are expected to endanger critical naval infrastructure. Texas has 367 miles of coastline, rising seas will affect us directly. Climate change has serious implications for threat development, weapons acquisition and personnel training. Our military fully recognizes these challenges, and has identified the need for careful planning to prepare for them. Even Republican mayors in Florida are starting to work on raising their street levels and considering the impact rising waters are already having on their towns. This is responsible management, and we should support it.

Second, blocking planning now will cost more money and create more risk in the future.  According to a report by Politico, military experts say that effective planning now would save money in the long run. Failing to account for the effects of climate change will also create the risk that the military is ill-prepared for future engagements, lacking the right equipment, skills and strategies to respond to future challenges. That means more resources will be required and, even more concerning, risks will be higher than necessary.

Third, this action ignores the reality of climate change and the will of the American people. The vast majority of climate scientists have concluded that climate change is a serious risk, as have the climate experts working for the military. Republicans in Congress have frequently said that they “are not scientists”, but they seem to have no trouble overruling the experts who are, or listening only to the small percentage of scientists who are paid by the fossil fuel industry. (“Follow the money.”) According to recent surveys, a large majority of Americans are concerned about climate change and want to see action taken.  A November 2015 poll by the New York Time and CBS found that 75% of Americans believe climate change is having a serious impact on our environment now or will in the future.  A January 2015 New York Times poll found that 74% of Americans believe the Federal government should be taking action on climate change.  In ignoring the need for long range planning around climate change, this action by Congress is out of step with the reality of climate science and the American people.

Some in Congress defended the amendment by saying that climate change planning would “distract from combatting ISIS.”  But the military does not and never has had the luxury of focusing on just one thing.  Our military must constantly prepare for a wide range of risks across the globe, both now and in the future.  According to David Titley, a retired Rear Admiral and former senior-level military scientist, the military is capable of responding to ISIS and planning for climate change at the same time. “When you are running an organization of $600 plus billion, you have a lot of people and need to consider a lot of things.” It would be irresponsible for our military to focus so much on one current threat that they fail to plan for future threats. 

Responsible long-range planning is just common sense, and is especially critical when it comes to military planning to keep our country safe now and in the future.  We should support the military in this effort. This seems to be more of the “block anything Obama” track, but the military first IDed climate change as a serious threat during George W. Bush’s presidency. It shouldn’t be about politics, but Republicans are playing political football with our country’s (and therefore our children’s) future. This is not responsible governance, and should not be allowed to stand.

 

 

Posted on 29 Jun 2016, 8:16 - Category: Responsible Governance

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