Sunday, July 19, 2015

Despite Water Emergency, Boehner Urges Irresponsibility for Americans in California

Speaker John Boehner Addresses the California Water Shortage

There he goes again. Yes, that's right. Speaker John Boehner is at it again.

Yes, one of the most prominent climate deniers in the party of climate denial is waxing philosophic yet again about the evils and irresponsibility of concerned citizens who feel that the severe water shortage in California requires more responsible water usage. Citing a picture of a sign on a California lawn (brown lawn, by the way) that advocates other Californians to join them in reducing unnecessary water usage, Boehner states on his Facebook page:

"If ever there was a phrase that perfectly encapsulates liberal environmentalists’ backwards priorities and regressive ideology of restriction and scarcity, it is the one now displayed on a government sign in Arcadia, California: “It’s ‘green’ to go brown.”

It was not enough for Boehner to show his contempt for the Earth and environmental causes on Earth Day with a ridiculous video. Now, he is speaking out for those poor Californians who have to be inconvenienced by this severe, record-setting drought by watching their lawns turn brown. He is blaming Obama for the "man-made water shortage in the West." Never mind the lack of rain, and never mind that California has pretty much always had issues concerning water shortages.

This is President Obama's fault! Yes, we are getting this new source of the problem in California from the man boldly once argued this:

“The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”

So now, in the never ending process of trying to re-educate Americans according to the neocon model, Boehner is urging Americans to find out what “Congress is doing to end President Obama’s man-made water shortage in the West.”

At least Boehner shows a sense of humor here to put a smile on our faces, though. Because it sure is laughable to think that Congress is doing much of anything these days, especially with him and his cohorts calling the shots.

An Easy and Natural Answer to Some Uneasy and Unnatural Questions

With his easy "answer" to these complex problems, Boehner is just serving as a soundboard to the GOP's, as well as corporate America's traditional arguments. This, after all, is what today's American conservatives fundamentally believe, that the whole global-warming "theory" is wrong and dangerous to the American economy, and should be automatically dismissed out of hand.

You know, one aspect of what passes for conservative thinking in America today that I understand, although vehemently disagree with, is the more is always more philosophy. It has been a running theme throughout American history, after all.

In America today, you have a distinctive political ideology, which is tantamount to a de facto anti-science and, frankly, anti-progress ideology, that has it that more is always good. That more is always the answer. Is the economy bad? More greed is the answer, particularly in the form of deregulation and tax breaks and incentives to corporations and the rich. Tired of the ensuing corruption? Let us deregulate even more, and call it freedom (as opposed to the regulations in place that protected American citizens from these kinds of abuses). Do you feel insecure or not personally satisfied with your life? Buy more stuff! Is the national morale bad because of serious and sobering problems from every angle that the nation faces? Let us get drunk on waving more flags and repeating more militaristic, xenophobic sentiments to start yet another war. Troubled by gun violence? Let us arm ourselves even more, to bring even more guns on the scene to cure gun violence (this mode of thinking, in the light of all of the mass shootings that we are witnessing every few weeks here in the United States is really a source of bafflement to the rest of the world, and should be a source of shame to all Americans). Is science (that most people can understand) suggesting that we are indeed facing serious problems that urgently need to be addressed? Let us aggressively attack the very merits of science itself, and encourage not just religion, but specifically the angry and exclusive religious doctrines that reject science out of hand, and encourage a fire and brimstone approach not just to religion, but to politics as well. Severe drought? Let's use even more water, to assure that Americans can use the limited resources available to them to maintain their perfect green lawns (of course, this one only applies to those Americans who can actually afford lawns).

The height of hypocrisy here is that the people like Boehner who advocate unnatural policies that probably have had a hand in creating this drought are now blaming the drought on the people who are truly examining the faulty thinking of this traditional approach and recognizing that new solutions are needed! Yes, Boehner and others are blaming environmentalists for the severe drought that California and the West now is facing! The answer, they say, is simple! Water shortage? Let people use more water!

Never mind that most of California, and much of the West is general, is a natural desert. Never mind that urban areas in and around cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and other cities in the West were not naturally "green" when it came to having green lawns and trees to decorate neighborhoods. Boehner and others (mostly Republicans) will argue that people are entitled to bring in whatever they want in their own back yards, even if it clashes with the natural environment in those regions. Some cities, like Phoenix, are seeing their own micro-climate develop as a result of so much vegetation (such as trees and flowers, each of which produce pollen to spread their seeds). It is clearly not natural, and the water needed to maintain the illusion that immaculately sculpted green lawns are perfectly natural in these environments is simply too much for the limited water supplies to keep up with.

American Exceptionalists Make America Stand Out for Wrong Reasons

Quite simply, we are facing problems of a scale that we have never faced before, and what we need are new, creative solutions to help us get past some of these problems. What we do not need are people like Speaker Boehner, who recycle the same old arguments that they always have, urging us to keep the course, even when it seems clear as day that this approach simply is not working. We cannot turn back the clock, and America, once the proud country that enjoyed the highest standard of living and was the envy of the world, has now fallen seriously behind most other industrialized nations in almost every category that matters! Pretending that this is not the case, and that we can simply keep the approach that got us where we are today, would be the height of irresponsibility. If we choose to believe only what we want to believe is true, at the expense of what really is true, and then go ahead and act on it (repeatedly), then we ourselves are responsible for that result. it might not be the most popular message, but the reason that Americans have fallen behind like this falls on the shoulders of Americans themselves.

Historically speaking, I believe it started with the so-called Reagan Revolution. Remember that Reagan was elected because America rejected Jimmy Carter, a man who tirelessly advocated not only human rights all across the world (and not just pursue the narrow self-interest of America), also warned Americans that they were facing a serious moral crisis. He also warned Americans of the urgent need to develop alternative energy for a sustainable future for the United States, so as not to be at the mercy of oil-producing nations, as well as for the clean-up of the environment.

Yes, we rejected Carter out of hand as a nation, and embraced Reagan's smiling image of success. Collectively, we wanted to believe n what Reagan said. We wanted to dream heroic dreams. We wanted to believe that America's best days were still ahead of it. We subscribed to his belief that all tax breaks and all deregulation was a good thing, freeing Wall Street to make more and more money. And we wanted to believe that this was a good thing. That greed was indeed good. That going to our local shopping mall to consume more was a responsible way to do our part in stimulating the economy, and not merely some selfish and potentially divisive action in the rat race of "keeping up with the Joneses." We wanted to believe Reagan when he ripped off Thoreau during his Inaugural Address and suggested that that government which governs best governs least, even though big government actually grew during his presidency. Perhaps more than anything, we wanted to believe that he and his supporters were right in ridiculing scientists and environmentalists, when they gave out dire prognostications about what would happen if we kept our activities up unabated. More and more over the course of these decades, I have grown convinced that people, particularly conservative Americans, deny the science behind climate change, or global warming, or whatever the hell you want to call it not because they truly are certain that the science behind this is wrong, but because of a fear that it is right, and what this would mean. They are scared of the effort that it would take to admit that they were wrong all of this time, that they were duped, used. They are scared of the unknown, of what creating a true alternative to this unsustainable lifestyle might mean to them.

We have continued to bury our heads in the sand, even as the rest of the world began to free itself from our destructive lead. Other advanced economies in Japan and Europe began to take environmental issues seriously, and developed alternative energies themselves, without waiting for the United States to come around, let alone to lead. I have long said that one of the things that I am truly ashamed of is that a tiny country like Iceland, which has a population smaller than Vermont, is leading the world's richest nation and only superpower today in the development of some forms of alternative energies. How could we Americans have allowed such a thing to happen?

Ask neocons (and I include Reagan and his supporters in this category) why America has lost some of it's leadership position around the world, and they will not hesitate to argue that it is because America has failed to take action time and time again when action was not only required, but urgently needed. Of course, they are referring to military action when they make these arguments, but this theory does apply to other things, as well. Things that they do not agree with. And it is in this disagreement that we see that neocons themselves are responsible for America's compromised leadership in the world today.

While the rest of the world began to recognize that the science behind climate change was indeed real, and that action was required, America dragged it's feet, and chose to keep itself in the dark. While gas mileage was increasing for vehicles in Europe and Japan, the United States developed gas-guzzling SUV's. While Europe and Japan developed other alternative energy sources, the United States had gotten it's wheels stuck in the mud of the outdated idea that oil was the only way to go, even if that meant a growing dependence on oil-producing nations. Even if that meant going off to war in order to obtain more oil (even if the arguments for war in oil-rich regions were declared for supposedly higher purposes).

Oil was not the only issue that separated America from much of the rest of the industrialized world, although the extent to which we insisted on relying on it set us apart, albeit not in a positive way. America's leadership status around the world clearly was on the decline in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion of 2003, when Americans squandered the well-meaning sympathy that it had gotten following the September 11th attacks barely one year and a half earlier. The people of other nations simply did not believe what most Americans wanted to believe (and allowed themselves to believe), even when some foreign governments joined the "Coalition of the Willing."

The war was a huge but irreversible blunder, and was hugely expensive, as well. It cost thousands of American soldiers their lives. It maimed and injured tens of thousands of others. It cost over 100,000 Iraqi lives, and a ton of injured, while devastating a nation suddenly in need of being rebuilt, and not merely by self-serving corporations that had somehow earned no bid contracts. The world that had warned Americans that they were about to make a big mistake watched us confirm their worst suspicions about us. While skepticism of America had grown over the course of the preceding decades, never has the reputation of the United States deteriorated around the world as seriously and as rapidly as in those years of the presidency of George W. Bush.

Alternative energy has since continued to be not just neglected, but downright vilified here in the United States. This, despite the clear evidence that oil wars were actually not all that great. Prices at the pumps here did not go down, although the price tag of unnecessary war just added ever more to the national debt. And hey, wouldn't you know it? Deregulation proved to be the failed policy that so many warned us about for decades, leading to the virtual collapse of the American economy in 2008. Still, Americans were too stubborn to truly admit to their mistake, and so we went right back to accepting Wall Street corporate culture abuses. Most likely, the next time we have an episode like we did in 2008, the economic problems will reach much, much further.

Still we have very prominent government officials like Speaker Boehner, who urge us to keep on doing what we have been doing now for three and a half decades. Still we Americans stubbornly reject alternative energy, thus assuring that the gap between us and other nations in this category will continue to grow. But that is just keeping up with all of the other ways in which we have fallen behind. Many Americans like to claim that this is the greatest country in the world, that this is God's Country, that we are # 1. The country that used to be considered a beacon to the world in so many ways now ranks 35th in education, 33rd in scientific literacy, 37th in healthcare, and 27th in renewable energy (well behind tiny Iceland, the nation that leads the pack). We did lead in other categories, such as in the pollution that the nation produced, although China overtook us a few years ago. We lead the world in the costs of medical expenses. We lead the industrialized world in gun violence. We lead the world in debts, both in terms of our government and our citizens. Also, we lead the world in terms of percentage of population in prison.

With numbers like these, is it really any wonder that not only has American lost it's leadership status around the world, but indeed, it feels that America has lost it's way in the world?

Nestlé and Corporate America's Role in All of This

In this day and age, we should probably be more mindful of everything that we are doing. Many aspects of the way our society traditionally worked are no longer working, and most of the reason for that, it seems, would be excessively greedy corporations.

The oil and gas companies would be primary examples of that, and generally speaking, I try not to give some of these companies my money, if it can be helped. That is particularly true for Exxon/Mobil and BP.

However, there are more companies that we should avoid than simply these. I have mentioned here on this blog before about how the CEO of Nestlé wants to privatize water systematically, and suggested that he feels that public access to clean water is an extremist political position to take.

Well, Nestlé is now following up on all of this with action, as they privatize water where it is so needed out in the West. Oh, and they are doing so at rock bottom prices, in order to maximize profits.

My first response is, and has remained, to boycott all Nestlé products, as far as I can help it.

I do not like Walmart's practices, either, so I try to boycott them, as well. I have not shopped there since the autumn of 2009.

You know, a lot of people these days are complaining that people get too offended by too many things these days. It seems a bit paradoxical to me that these people do not realize that they themselves are complaining specifically because they themselves are offended by something enough to make such a statement. But, enough of that, because we could go around in circles if we go that route. However, it seems important to me that if we collectively and individually get offended by the direction that the world is going in, and we understand that something about how this world is working just does not feel right, then I believe that we need to do something about it. So, I do not give my money to companies that I feel are destructive, such as these.

The following are links to related articles about this topic, starting with the article about Boehner, then a few articles on the Californian water drought, and Nestlé's role in it. Finally, the last two links are about what we, as individuals and consumers, can do to take action on some level. Hopefully, we can hit them where it hurts: the wallet. Or rather, quarterly profit reviews.

Here are the links:

Boehner Blames California Drought On Obama BY JOE ROMM JUL 17, 2015:

California looks to the ocean for water during historic drought, June 22, 2015 by Haya El Nasser

Nestlé is bottling water straight from the heart of California’s drought The company is exporting a seriously limited resource with no oversight LINDSAY ABRAMS, July 14, 2015:

California’s Drought Is Part of a Much Bigger Water Crisis. Here’s What You Need to Know. July 14, 2015 by Abrahm Lustgarten, Lauren Kirchner and Amanda Zamora:

10 Great Progressive Companies Where We SHOULD Spend Our Money, December 9, 2014:

10 Right Wing Companies That Every Progressive Should Boycott, December 9, 2014:

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