Thursday, June 25, 2015


Our dear friend Linda summed it up in a single statement the other night. We were having a group discussion about the murders in the AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, and Linda spoke so passionately about the racism in America. At the end of her emotional comments, she stated emphatically "Come on species - get your act together!!" Exactly.

Another mass murder in America; but this time there was an important difference. This killing was motivated by racial hatred, and the killer said later that his intent was to start a race war in America. This is an act of terrorism, and we citizens of America need to stop, think, and carefully consider the iceberg under this tip.

Humanity, Homo sapiens, is a species of apes that has evolved a large brain that, combined with manual dexterity, has allowed it to develop into the dominant organism on Earth. Humans have reached the point at which our actions are changing the climate of the planet.  (I will leave for a future post the wide-ranging changes implicit in the term "climate change;" however, suffice it to say that every physical, chemical and biological system and process on Earth related to climate is being affected.)  Yes, we are such an advanced species of animal that we are making our own habitat less habitable.

But how advanced are we, really? Unfortunately,  closer examination leads us to conclude that we are not very advanced at all. Sociologically we are relatively primitive. We still cling to outdated ideas, mythologies and superstitions. We retain strong group bonds at various levels, bonds that often result in acts of cruelty. We are shocked to see on the news that ISIS has beheaded their captives - the barbarians! How convenient it is that we overlook the fact that good, white Christians have a history of beheadings, burnings at the stake, disembowelment, rape, torture and genocide. (No, I'm not part of the War on Christians; I'm simply using the Euro/American majority for my example.) Look around, and you will find that our mass behavior hasn't really changed so much, even though our technological achievements are rapid and astounding.

And this brings me (at last!) to the Confederate flag. I'm sorry to tell you that it's not about the frickin' flag. The Confederate flag is, and has been for a long time, an insult to everyone. Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.) stated that the flag is "who we are" for South Carolinians (to be fair, you should listen to his remarks in context here). That flag has a place in history, and it's fine to display it as part of telling that history. Flying the Confederate flag at the Statehouse in S.C. simply says; "This flag symbolizes our history of slavery and the war we proudly fought to preserve it."  Politicians in South Carolina have rushed to now remove the flag from the Statehouse - great - but this is not the story.

Walmart, Sears, Amazon, eBay and other retailers have announce that they will no longer sell items with the Confederate flag. Um, OK, but what took you so long? In other words, you've been selling this stuff up until now, but now you'll stop? So, the flag was not a problem, was not a symbol of slavery and racism, until a terrorist killed 9 Black Americans in their church? !!!

The Confederate flag is an insult to all of us when it is displayed by state or local government. But the flag is not the issue that needs our focus, and all the hoopla about it is a red herring meant to distract us from the real issues.

The main issue at play here is human nature. The fact that one human can brutally hurt or murder another innocent human is the real "who we are." If evolution can't change this behavior of our species, then we must consciously do it ourselves. The alternative to changing human behavior is a continuation of the human behaviors that result in hatred and murder. This has been for a long time, and continues to be the norm.

So yes Linda, I agree: "Come on species - get your act together!"

Thursday, June 18, 2015


It is still too early to know conclusively, but the killings at a church in Charleston,  South Carolina appear to be an act of terrorism. There is a dark underbelly in America, comprised of white people who are filled with racial hatred against Black, Jewish, Muslim and other Americans. In the Charleston case, a young white man shot and killed 9 people in an African-American church.

This isn't about gun control. This is possibly not about mental illness. This is about racial hatred expressed as an act of terrorism.

We Americans wonder how young people in other countries are attracted to join radical Jihadist groups, such as ISIS/ISIL/IS in Syria, Iraq and other areas. (And yes, even young people here in America.) What fills them with such hatred and zealotry that they can willingly kill innocent people and commit other acts of atrocity in the name of their god or their movement?  Well, an answer will likely be revealed as the investigation and trial of the young killer in Charleston proceeds. There are early indications that this young man had some connection to white supremacy literature and organizations, sources of hatred spread by adherents to recruit others to their cause. And their cause is to save the white race from the ravages of the "others."

We have so much work to do! The we I refer to are all Americans who are repulsed by hate-inspired acts carried out in our midst. This is not a problem solely for the African American community; this is a problem for the American community. Let's not get sidetracked; let us bring a laser focus to the issues of racism in America. We cannot allow hate groups to gain any foothold in society, and we must root them out where they already exist and expose them for what they are. At the same time, we need to shine bright lights on institutionalized racism in our society, and expose it for what it is.

We can do this. We have to do this. It has taken too long.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Congressman Devin Nunes, Republican from California, seems to think he can have it both ways regarding climate change. Nunes is a known climate change denier, one who poo-poos scientific facts concluding that human activity has resulted in drastic changes to our atmosphere and climate systems. But he has a different opinion when it comes to the California drought.

For the past several years, Nunes has been telling anyone who will listen, and speaking and blogging about the "man-made drought" in California. Aha; so he does believe the drought and other extreme climate events are caused by human activities releasing carbon into the atmosphere! Gotcha!

Well, actually, no. What Nunes is saying is that "this is a drought that's been created by government, by their big supporters in the radical environmental groups."  Oh. In his view it is the Endangered Species Act that is the culprit, because water is being kept in rivers for threatened and endangered fish, instead of being released to farmers for irrigation. Sure, there has been less rain and snow for a few years, but the government is holding back a lot of water for "3-inch bait fish" (the Delta smelt) and thus creating the drought that is so severely affecting farmers in California. Oh my......

How convenient to have someone to blame: the damn government and radical environmentalists. Yes, the Endangered Species Act, passed during the administration of, and signed by, President Richard Nixon (wasn't he a Republican?). Well, all of this righteous smoke about a smelt is really a red herring. The drought in California appears to be caused by natural phenomena. Is there a relationship between the drought and human-forced climate change? Probably not, as explained in a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report:

It is interesting that the Republicans have adopted "man-made drought" as one of their new mantras. Carly Fiorina uses it (Remember her? She drove HP into the ground before being fired as CEO, and now wants to be President of the USA.). John Boehner uses it. Lots of other Republicans use it. And, of course, they are tying it to the Obama administration.

So don't get excited when you hear the likes of Devin Nunes talk about the man-made drought in California He hasn't changed his deniers tune on climate change; he's just playing politics as usual.