Family and The Constitution

This hails from 2004 when, I think folks were going on about a Constitutional amendment to define family.

Despite the emotional rhetoric, “Traditional Marriage” is not under attack in America. “Marriage Protection” implies that expanding the legal definition of a civil union somehow harms conventional marriage. I think family is the bedrock of society and the foundation of civilization, of which traditional marriage has been a very important part. In light of the various statistics that put the divorce rate at around 50% and a 2003 Rutgers study that 40% of married Americans as not happily married, perhaps we need some alternatives. It just surprises me that traditional marriage has fallen to the point where it is need of an amendment to the United States Constitution to prop it up.

The only thing being attacked here is the position that only certain configurations of family can be rewarded the government seal of approval. This is a religious issue that has once again been turned into a political one. I know for a fact that those who seriously advocate alternatives to conventional marriage are not in any way asking religions to alter their beliefs. Those religions that have a problem with the alternatives can choose, as a group, to simply not allow it “on their watch”. It is wrong to write marriage doctrines and religious ritual into the constitution, thus forcing a particular version of family on the rest of society. Perhaps this is another case of organized religion believing that it has the only rational course for society to follow in order to produce positive results and using the power of the government to make sure everyone follows that course. Families come in many forms and it should be the government’s job to identify those structures that work, and not limit itself by religious doctrine. The alternatives available to establish family units are not going away, regardless of how much legislation is thrown in its path. To modify the Constitution of the United States to codify a religious view of what constitutes family is an insult to our Constitution and turning a blind eye to alternatives. Perhaps those alternatives could work to help some of the many victims created by our limited view of what constitutes a legal family. The improved definition of family should establish parental rights and responsibilities, grant next-of-kin status for such purposes as medical decisions, and insure legal rights with regard to property and taxes. We should also be working harder to address those problems that make it hard for any family to be successful. Lets talk about getting families out of poverty, enhancing air quality, demanding cleaner food, better education for failing schools, affordable health care, and using our tax dollars wisely. Contemplate the possibilities for beneficial programs to help families in light of the expected $200,000,000,000 (yes Billion) we are likely to spend in the Invasion/Occupation of Iraq in service of America’s petroleum addiction.

If you have not registered to vote, do it tomorrow. Please be an informed voter and don’t forget to ask for a receipt, you might need it.

Same Crap, Different Decade

Published around 2006 in response to a Noam Chomsky speech that
is no longer accessible at the original location. But you’ll get the idea. 

One of the more important things that were mentioned in this speech, is the great divide between the thoughts and actions of the people of America and the American government. Almost all of the polls conducted by very prestigious organizations around our nation have repeatedly shown that most of the American people do not support the actions of the American government as they stomp around the world under the guise of spreading democracy. It appears they are doing all but. The people do not support the force that corporations have on government, the money that changes hands during each election cycle, the number of innocent lives that are lost because of our actions, the abuse of civil rights and torture that continue to be sanctioned by our leaders. In general, the lack of respect for civilized society, others and ours.

The problem appears to be that the average citizen does not know that their views are in the majority and consequently feel powerless. For that I blame the compliant (gutless) press in this country. They report what they are told to report and not what they see needs to be reported. We need to express to our representatives what we are and especially what we are not. We need to demand that the press in this country stop being so lazy and weak, and start working for the people and not for the government. Let your representatives know that what we have now is not America and if they don’t understand, vote them out and get someone that does.

America needs to start being proud again. We need to start being innovators and not just consumers. We need to be creators, manufactures, builders, and farmers. We need to earn back, as in retrieve lost, the respect we once had around the world. We have reached an all time low in the relying on others to create our products and be our labor. We have more than enough proud talent in this country to do the job, let’s decide that it’s important enough. Let’s decide that paying the lowest price is not in our best interest. If we need the wal-marts of the world to survive, perhaps it’s time to take a serious look at our problems. If we have a 60 billion-dollar trade deficit with China (thanks Wal-Mart et-al) we have a problem that is killing our country. We are choosing, by paying bottom dollar, chemical laden and genetically modified foods over locally produced healthy food and running our farmers out of business by the thousands. We are choosing throwaway products instead of quality that can be repaired instead of discarded. Putting manufactures out of work at the same time as the main street repair shop. Creating stifling pollution in the process.

Many economists make no secret of their opinion that the only reason that the dollar is still worth anything on the world market is because we are a debtor nation consuming all that we can in a race to the bottom of the ravine. If we go under, the world loses it’s fat customer and it’s major source of weapons. A real source of pride, huh. We are valuable only as arms merchants, consumers, and a source of assets to plunder.

I am willing to pay more for products to keep Americans working instead of that money going to taxes and supporting the person put out of work by sending their job out of America. Assuming the government actually takes responsibility for the un-employed and homeless. It appears the only place this is going to happen is in the small towns of America, where people are fed up with this direction and still have some say. Let’s support the local economy by not joining the race to the bottom.

We need to expect better from our country and those that lead us, either hold up American principles or get out of the way.

Is the Lawlessness So hard to Believe

Originally published in 2007. I believe this one made it as a
Letter to the Editor in the local paper.

It is truly amazing and somewhat disheartening when I hear people complain about the lawlessness of today’s society and speculate on its origin. I’m truly sorry for the state of things but also disappointed that people don’t get it.

As long as those in control of the world continue to become rich and powerful by deceit, terrorism, rigged elections, and impotent media, how can we expect others, either individually or in groups, to conduct themselves any different? Combine that with society’s apathy and willful ignorance about what really goes on in the world and you have America today.

“If you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror” ( V for Vendetta)

When we stop acting like lawless criminals on the world stage, will it trickle down to our cities. ‘Lead by example’ is more than a simple platitude.

War is now our biggest industry. It’s all about power and control. If you read the definition of terrorism in the ‘The Patriot Act’ (2001), our government qualifies on most counts. To quote a recent bumper sticker, ‘War Is Terrorism with a Bigger Budget’. Terrorism is a real danger, but our actions do little to help the situation. When our leadership decided that Osama Bin Laden was the mastermind behind 9/11 (the FBI still does not list 9/11 on the wanted poster for OSB) and hiding in the Middle East, our solution was to carpet bomb entire countries. Basically killing generations of innocent people for the crimes of a few. We torture men, women, and children by allowing them to starve or die of disease, among other methods. We sentence future generations to misery by irradiating good percentages of the world population with depleted uranium munitions ( yes, our own people too ). Is this the solution of a sane population? Is this a response for a progressive enlightened society? It is not. We pay billions a year to have the most sophisticated and the smartest military in the world and this is the best solution we could muster for addressing terrorism? We have the best intelligence and military in the world, comprised of people who care about what America does in the world, what we need is leadership. The problem is not with the courageous people that protect and fight to keep the American ideal alive, it’s the power mad leadership that doesn’t listen to those that know, and cares little for human life and suffering. As long as killing large segments of a population are profitable to even a small handful of powerful people, it will continue. It will only stop when each of us accepts the fact that we have the strength and the character to be better. We should demand that our leaders start finding rational solutions to world problems; problems, for the most part, created by our lame solutions to past problems. Only then will we see better behavior in the lives of the people around us. Needless violence justified anywhere is needless violence justified everywhere. You can see where our solutions as a country set an example for the conduct of society as a whole. We won’t scrutinize the source of the problem because we will be calling attention to our national hypocrisy and apathy. None of this will make the major news channels even though good reporters everywhere know it’s true.

The idea that we should kill large sectors of an innocent population because of the crimes of a few is backed up by religious dogma, and is as morally reprehensible as holding one generation responsible for the crimes of another. Organized religion and its dogma have offered little in the way of practical solutions. The Ten Commandments offer nothing to address moral behavior beyond the basic ideas that existed centuries prior to its appearance. Prison populations are weighted heavily in favor of the pious. Black collar crimes grace our news everyday. As guaranteed by the Constitution, individuals are free to let a particular spiritual viewpoint guide their lives, but the religious and non-religious alike are expected to make sane choices. If you believe a messiah is going to return to Earth in the next 100 years to rescue true believers, I will defend your right to believe that, but you are ill equipped to make choices for a sustainable future. We need leaders that are capable of making difficult and unpopular choices, based on our constitution and what is good for the long-term future of this planet and all its inhabitants. If they can’t do that, they need not step up. We need to start using reason, reality, science, common sense, and our best judgment to deal with problems of humanity, on a global level and in our personal lives. Religion has had enough time and the net result has been abysmal. When will the killing end?

A few suggestions for setting a good example;

1. Killing people is not a solution to anything. If you can justify the killing of one person, you can justify the killing of millions. And so can everybody else. That applies to torture as well. It accomplishes little compared to the cost that it exacts from society as a whole. It’s a price we can’t afford, ever.

2. Stop making terrorism (war) profitable. It will never end unless everyone pays the absolutely horrendous price. Profit from war (permission to kill innocent people for politics) is immoral, period.

3. Criminal behavior must be addressed even at the highest level of our government. When political connections and money allow you to avoid answering for your crimes, we will never be rid of crime in our neighborhoods.

4. Stop filling our prisons with those that are simply in need of help with drug abuse, or are victims of the above (#3). A Lack of political clout and money should not be an offense worthy of jail. We are simply ruining lives for profit and political expediency.

5. Find a place on the shelf next to all the great works of literature for dogmatic religious rulebooks that proscribe death and misery to those that don’t share the same beliefs. It’s time the dark ages came to an end.

Do we need GM food

http://midlothiantexas.net/2018/02/10/do-we-need-gm-food/

In short, the research indicates no negative consequences have yet been discovered or documented in the 20 or 30 years GM products been in circulation. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that those products were introduced 25 years ago and that most of the testing has been done since then, pretty much admitting that we have been test subjects of Monsanto et-al. I’m glad the research turned out in our favor since the products were already released into the world and would be impossible to take back. A concept that I cannot over stress. I’m also glad to see the we ditched the idea that GM is the same as hybridization.

The companies pushing GM foods are simply not to be trusted, based on history. They are not interested in helping humanity. They are in it for the money. It would take weeks to go through the list and disqualify those that had monied interests that might influence their science, or their take on good science. What to look at, what to ignore. When you get players this big and this powerful, you really have to respect the influence. Eliminate those that have ties to government ( after NIST and their political version of science, not to mention, have you really looked at our leadership and who they work for? ), questionable Boards or Directors, and getting money from bio-tech and agribusiness. A serious look at the peer review process and who controls technical journals would be a good next step. Once again, the revolving door. These corporations are very good at eliminating roadblocks to power and profit.

I was watching a doc on water politics and one of the lawyers that was working on the case recalled what a mentor told them. Don’t ever underestimate what people will be willing to say and do when power and money is threatened ( and I add, when threatened by power and money ). We see it everyday in the destruction of our world for, you guessed it, money and power. Follow the money, it should be the first question.

I will try to disregard the fact that science is very politicized these days and that a good percentage of the sources cited either are part of the government and/or agribusiness or depend heavily on their money. I will also disregard that many of the sources cited simply stated their reliance on testing done by other sources. I think true science in the public interest is what we need. We don’t need science in the corporate interest. Altruistic science would be great. Do the science and put it out in the public sphere, regardless of what interests are helped or harmed. Although I am certainly not advocating releasing science and technology that would, by almost all accounts, do most of the world harm.

American Medical Association: ”There is no scientific justification for special labeling of genetically modified foods. Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.” Broken link

20 years is not long enough test period, especially when they say ‘no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated’. When you consider the under-whelming superiority of GM, this is quite the experiment we are all taking part in, reluctantly I might add.

Food producers don’t care about scientific justification for labeling, they do what they can get away with, most of the time within the bounds of the law, or at least laws worth the trouble to prosecute. They would put all manner of nonsense on the label if they thought it would help sales.

This is the same AMA that refuses to recognize Cannabis as a therapeutic medicine even after decades of scientific study showing that it is. They are taking a position based on the money at risk by them and their profiteering brothers, the pharmaceutical industry. The same AMA that waged a war on plant based medicine that had worked for hundreds of years ( explains the position on Cannabis ). An honest approach would be to find out what worked and what didn’t, regardless of its origin. Nope, they demonized it all in from the start, in favor of their pocketbooks. Everything they do and every position they take should be suspect by default, based on, again, follow the money. Same with hemp, BTW.

Don’t forget 50 years ago, it was common ( and allowed by the AMA ) to recommended cigarettes for several common ailments, such as anxiety or nervousness. They’re trustworthiness has not changed much, just our access to information. The only reason they lost strength, people finally had enough of the deception and they lost too much profit. About the time they realized it was over, they bought into the snack food industry. Hint.

It seems many tout the future benefit of GM agriculture in reference to some future condition or very limited problem set. Those benefits appear to be pretty dubious and, in quite a few cases, not quite up to par with conventional crops. Quite a risky experiment for a problem that has other more practical solutions but does not generate the income for certain global concerns.

It can be argued that there are much better ways to address the problem than GM food. But they have already unleashed this technology on an unsuspecting population. Now trying to convince everybody how safe it is, when we now have little choice. They have failed to show a clear advantage in each case to warrant dumping it on the world. Why not show everybody how much better it is in controlled studies. When it has an obvious advantage, for each individual product, people are more likely to allow it. They have not shown anything close to a clear advantage.

Golden Rice hasn’t exactly been a success story for the decades it has been experimented with. More nutritious? There are working programs to get people in need of more vitamin A simply to plant small patches of carrots or other high Vitamin A crops. Not to sell, but simply for nutrition. The big agribusiness giants don’t care about helping some small community deal with a changing market and climate. They want to sell them seeds for plants that the farmers can’t save seeds from year to year and only grow when sprayed with their chemicals. Most simply end up deep in debt, with many committing suicide because they lost it all.

In cases where GM is touted as more nutritious. Perhaps more nutritious than what you get from food grown on depleted soil, which is what happens to much of farmland under conventional farming practices. I suspect it is not as nutritious as food grown on properly fed soil. Growing smaller markets that involve many small players. Following the advice of vulture corporations has not been a success. Feed the soil not the plant. Proper crop rotation. Applications of compost with proper humus ratios and beneficial soil bacteria. Less harsh chemicals.

From WHO: Gene transfer from GM foods to cells of the body or to bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract would cause concern if the transferred genetic material adversely affects human health. This would be particularly relevant if antibiotic resistance genes, used as markers when creating GMOs, were to be transferred. Although the probability of transfer is low, the use of gene transfer technology that does not involve antibiotic resistance genes is encouraged.

Low probability if done properly? Is it done properly? Or is it just encouraged?

National Academy of Sciences: (http://bit.ly/13Cib0Y) Broken Link

So, while the science is almost unanimous that it is has not produced harmful effects in the relatively short time it has been thrust upon us, I think we have yet to see that, at best, it will not fix anything except make certain corporations more powerful. More powerful over our food supply. At worst, it could be a disaster for areas of the world that have relied on tried and true methods of food production and will buy into the promise of something better. When what they really need is sustainable production methods instead of western chemical farming that has laid to waste millions of acres and left many without viable production land.

There was also a tendency to mix GM food and GM medicine. They have different markets. I can see putting up less of a fight about GM medicine because of the risk/benefit rational. I’m sure they will continue to push both on those that don’t need it.

American Dietetic Association: ”It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that agricultural and food biotechnology techniques can enhance the quality, safety, nutritional value, and variety of food available for human consumption and increase the efficiency of food production, food processing, food distribution, and environmental and waste management.”

“Can” would be the pivotal word here. Just not much evidence that it does over properly grown conventional food. “Increase the efficiency of food production, food processing, food distribution, and environmental and waste management.” Sounds like a pretty broad statement for the ADA. Sounds like they are just parroting others’ research. While not bad, it is disingenuous and the sort of testimony that shows up a lot.

American Phytopathological Society: ”The American Phytopathological Society (APS), which represents approximately 5,000 scientists who work with plant pathogens, the diseases they cause, and ways of controlling them, supports biotechnology as a means for improving plant health, food safety, and sustainable growth in plant productivity.” (http://bit.ly/14Ft4RL)

They went on to say that appropriate consideration should be expressed considering the power of this technology. Implying that we should not rush into putting our hopes behind this technology over tried and true methods. Likely, if given the chance, they would have advocated not letting it into the public to the level we have.

American Society for Microbiology: ”The ASM is not aware of any acceptable evidence that food produced with biotechnology and subject to FDA oversight constitutes high risk or is unsafe. We are sufficiently convinced to assure the public that plant varieties and products created with biotechnology have the potential of improved nutrition, better taste and longer shelf-life.” (http://bit.ly/13Cl2ak)

This one just screamed of ‘if they said it was ok, then we do too’. Much the same touting of potential. Again, do we have to unleash it on the world before we find out?

American Society of Plant Biologists: ”The risks of unintended consequences of this type of gene transfer are comparable to the random mixing of genes that occurs during classical breeding… The ASPB believes strongly that, with continued responsible regulation and oversight, GE will bring many significant health and environmental benefits to the world and its people.” (http://bit.ly/13bLJiR) Damaged link

Again, I don’t think they can honestly say that the unintended consequences of this technology is equal to that of conventional breeding. It might bring benefits. Lets figure out in the lab, then when the time comes, apply it where really needed. Not to overlook: “ … believes strongly that, with continued responsible regulation and oversight, GE will bring many significant health and environmental benefits to the world and its people.”. Yea, about that oversight and regulation. Oh yea, I was going to dismiss the conspiracies between industry and the regulatory bodies that govern it. Another article, I’m sure.

There is no reason for pushing GM foods, hybrid yes, GM no. Unless you believe that we can’t feed all of our people, which I think is nonsense. We waste tons of food. Who gets food and its quality and quantity are political. Starvation is about, you guessed it, money and control. The biggest tool being war and debt. The benefit from GM is mainly to the bio-tech companies that produce it. It does not help most of the farmers, ask India. It helps those that sell the seeds and the chemicals. Taking the pejorative ‘conspiracy theorist’ label, just for a moment, I suspect control of food is on the future agenda, and of course water. GM crops help large agribusiness with millions of mono-cropped acres. It does not encourage farmers to take care of the land and the soil. It does not encourage food diversity, something we really really need. It even endangers food diversity by polluting heirloom varieties by accidental cross-pollination. Unfortunately there will come a day when GM will be our last hope. When the water, air, and soil is so dead and polluted that it won’t grow conventional crops. Then GM, and the companies that have patented our food, will be our only hope. That in itself should scare people silly.

Why not just label it? The idea that they can’t track the ingredients is nonsense, that’s what computers are for. They do it with ‘organic’, it’s the same tracking process. Where there is money there is a way. Charge more money, increase profit, let people choose based on whatever they want. Most of the major food producers have no problem with putting nonsense on the label, especially if it makes more money. You know what ‘natural’ means, absolutely nothing, but they stick it on everything. Where marketing is concerned, if the science is on their side, great. If not, no matter. They are certainly willing to make millions off ‘organic’. If you think there is no difference between conventional and ‘organic’, don’t buy it. The industry has shown no reluctance to take advantage of the ‘organic’ market. They have not refused that market on the grounds of deceiving the consumer. They take the money. Why such a fuss over GM? Why don’t they just hike the prices and reap the profit? They are putting up a really big long expensive fight, one has to ask why. Loss of revenue is not really a valid reason, since they could just continue buying up the competition.

If we didn’t have, or sorry, used to have, regulatory agencies that controlled the crap they put in food, they would/do put all kinds of claims on the label and crap in the food to make it more profitable and simpler to sell. All of the sudden they don’t want to offer a product that caters to those that see no use for GM and don’t want to ingest it? There is something deeper here, they have not all of the sudden taken a stance on principle.

Conclusion. GM, for the most part, is a solution waiting for a problem. Those peddling GM are trying hard to insert the technology everywhere they can, needed or not. The desperation to get payback appears to take precedent over any real need. I say, keep it in the lab until there is a demonstrable benefit over properly implemented conventional technologies that have been around for a century or more. I’ll use properly labeled GM products if I need the product and it can’t be supplied any other way. The same as I might use a stronger chemical when the job requires it. The simplest solution and safest should be tried first. I will buy ‘organic’ as long as GM ( oh, and sewage sludge ) are not allowed. When those pushing GM, pay to get GM allowed in ‘organic’, there will always be those food producers that value good food. I will not be part of widespread indiscriminate use when there are conventional tried and true ways to deal with the problems GM food purports to fix. GM is offered as way to fix a broken food system. A system broken, in part, by those now offering the solution. We need more food diversity not less. GM food is being sold as a solution to a problem of agribusiness’s own making. One that puts more control in the hands of corporations and less in control of conventional small farmers and producers. The more small entities growing our food, the more food security we have. The less we rely on large mono-cropped agribusinesses, the better our food security will be and IMO the better our food will be. I want to see Farmer’s Markets with hundreds of producers selling generations old varieties and no two have exactly the same product.

Food grown for power and money is not food, it’s a commodity. Food as a commodity is a recipe for control. To them, it is not about feeding people. As the bumper sticker goes “Every time you spend money you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want”. I don’t want a GM world.