Floridians Continue To Oppose Natural Gas Pipeline

A 3.2 billion dollar pipeline has begun construction in the Sunshine State. The controversial line is set to go from Florida to Alabama running an estimated 474 miles, and will be able to move up to 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day upon completion.

With environmental impacts heavy on their minds Floridians are already hurling sharp criticisms at Governor Rick Scott’s full throated endorsement of the project. Ground water advocates have been quick to point out their concern for the natural aquifer that runs beneath their state.

Protesters gathered on the Rainbow River in Dunnellon, Florida, an area that owes much of it’s economic security to tourism related to the nearby head springs. They were well received with motorist honking and waving their support. Local organizer Robyn Hawkins Dodd did not mince words.

“The pipeline is extremely dangerous going across such vast topography and stands to impact our delicate limestone aquifer. It isn’t a matter of if we will have a sinkhole, it is a a matter of when. A dangerous pipeline is set to be running by homes and schools and the government is seizing property  for it through eminent domain. It isn’t right.”

Citizens remain on edge after a sinkhole in Polk county opened up under a fertilizer runoff pond owned by Mosaic, a Fortune 500 company based in Minnesota. The incident poured  an estimated 215 million gallons of contaminated water into the Florida aquifer. The sinkhole that opened up underneath a gypsum stack at a Mosaic phosphate fertilizer plant in Florida, which has dumped at least 215 million gallons of contaminated water an aquifer over the past three weeks.

The Sabal Trail Pipeline will undoubtedly also have an environmental impact. Leaks are a well known concern in pipeline construction and come with their own slew of hazards. Also, close to 700 acres of Florida wetlands are scheduled to be drained or impacted in such a way that could take up to 50 years for their ecosystems to recover. Additionally, drilling near the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers may prove deep enough to effect groundwater and cave systems.

While federal reports have stated a concern for increasing sinkhole development, alterations in springs characteristics and  local groundwater flow they still gave the go ahead on construction.

Protesters plan a demonstration in Ocala’s downtown main square on October 1st. Also, a four day car caravan is planned to start on October 21st starting in Stuart, Fl and moving on through Ft. Meyers and up to the Live Oak area. Demonstrators intend to bring water samples with them to Tallahassee on the 24-25th as schedules permit.

For more information on dates of future demonstrations please see the “Citrus Co No Pipeline” group on Facebook. 

Doing Nothing Changes Nothing

I would be interested (purely academically) if law enforcement officers have seen a dramatic rise in violence directed at them, or if there are just several instances of high profile retaliation.
I see all the news coverage these stories get as a double edged sword. It drums up tons of support for the officers and spawns hashtags like #BlueLivesMatter (which I find a tasteless hijacking of BLM), but on the other side galvanizes communities tired of being misrepresented and strong armed.
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When violent actions against a population radicalize people abroad against America then what do violent actions against her own people hope to accomplish? Mark my words.. Milwaukee, Ferguson, Baltimore…  They are a cake walk compared to what is to come if some drastic change doesn’t sweep the country. The discontent is to palpable. The poverty levels are too real. The people have asked, begged, and demanded a peaceful revolution.
Are you really going to act surprised when frustration manifests itself with civil discord?

Or are you going to be a part of the change that invigorates the population and calms the country?


Our Bernie and Jane


So many of them…An endless fount of choices,
a million ways to silence a million different voices.
That is until he came out of nowhere like a beacon,
tirelessly giving us a dream, a hope, and a reason
to get out of our comfort zones… to be bold and Bern bright,
and to never NEVER give up the good fight.

Right and Left spin lies and propaganda,
his steps faltered and so we picked up his mantra.
He is a humble man but not without his pride,
but his pride is in us– we helped him find his stride.

We marched and screamed ourselves hoarse
as our “leaders” mocked him with little remorse.
We watched as our dream cracked and our path diverged,
our hearts breaking as we fought the merge.

And we wept…

…for the future that delegates no more super than you or I
robbed from us with not even a bat of an eye.
And when they couldn’t silence us with their gaslighted tactics
they just switched over to their shady mathematics.

But we’re just getting started and finding our cause,
We will fight for justice with new blood and laws.
This is how we will process our righteous anger and pain,
because we will never forget our Bernie and Jane.

Our Revolution!

The Revolution Lives On

In the wake of Senator Bernie Sanders endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton progressives everywhere were holding their head in their hands. To say that they, in that moment, felt their movement had been betrayed by backroom politics is an understatement. However, in the light of the next day there was an impressive rallying cry throughout Sanders groups and beyond.

Some find Jill Stein to be the next standard bearer in the fight for progressive policy and with breakneck speed jumped ship to the Green Party with the battle cry #HillNo #JillYes! Others have chosen to give the Vermont Senator a bit more faith and wait until after the DNC to make their promised #DemExit.

Can this political revolution survive fractured as it is? Almost undoubtedly. With a large swathe of the Democratic base and Independents, who largely decide elections, finally wide awake to the problems our country faces it’s a sure bet. The anger that is honed in on Senator Sanders is already refocusing on the broader picture, and people are really beginning to understand his campaign slogan… “Not me, Us.”

This Political Revolution started *before* Senator Sanders. It’s infancy partly began with the Occupy movements. While the energy was there the protests had lacked focus. Fast forward a few years later and we have Senator Sanders harnessing that energy and picking a near perfect moment to rally that discontent into clear demands that the rest of the populace could find a cause in.

The Revolution doesn’t die with Senator Sanders. He just raised the bar. We now know that our true strength lies in our numbers and not our wealth. We know that real progressive change can happen when we demand things in unified fashion. We know that the establishment will bend when we push together… If nothing else we owe Senator Sanders a debt for that. Who else would have helped us realize our power and potential on such a large and brutal stage?

We have to find ourselves willing to fight when the fanfare has ebbed. When it’s hard and when there are no accolades and it seems no one cares. When each victory takes our time, money, and fierce commitment… Because it’s safe to say the Revolution lives on, but it will not be televised.



The Hero America Needs

In a world awash with the plastic and pandering politicians Bernie Sanders stands above the rest. His no nonsense and unapologetic nature has managed to engage a politically apathetic generation and he been the rallying cry for progressives from coast to coast.

So why Clinton?

In a landscape dominated by political families, CEOs, and special interest groups name recognition is key. A second Clinton run was forecasted from the moment she joined the Obama White House as Secretary of State. With decades of D.C. connections and a southern firewall at her back two years ago it seemed general knowledge that Clinton would be next in line. It seemed that it would be her turn. Who could have predicted a known but relatively low key Senator from Vermont would take the to the field with a resonating message born from decades of public service and genuine concern.

When Senator Sanders first started his campaign he was laughed at. The venues he booked were thinly attended and the media coverage even more threadbare, but soon and in rapid succession all that would change. Bernie Sanders became a household name overnight as people from both sides of the aisle took notice. Suddenly this man with no name recognition was filling venues that surpassed even Obama’s attendance records… Bernie Sanders was for real. His stump speeches followed a common formula and kept both young and old listening with his natural story telling ability and light humor, but what kept them coming back was the promise of a political revolution.

While Clinton’s promises sounded more and more like a third term for President Obama with a heavy dose of the status quo Bernie Sanders was not mincing words.His message was clear… No more economic and political oligarchy. The internet was Sanders domain as his message spread across social media like wild fire and seemed to thrust a new generation into it’s first baby steps of political activism.

But is he the hero America needs?

There are very few people in a lifetime that can be a benevolent figurehead of a movement. Fewer still who are willing to face ridicule and tirelessly campaign at the age of 74. Bernie Sanders is a man who sees a future for his fellow citizens. A future free from the daily grind that a starvation wage dictates. One free of choosing between medicine or food. School or shelter.

In short? Yes.

Bernie Sanders is and will remain a role model for current and future generations regardless of how this election season plays out. His message is now carried by thousands and his burden is lightened by the many hands of the political revolution. For those who have been influenced by the Sanders movement things will never be the same again.

We’re awake now Bernie! Thank you.


Is America In Distress?

Following the wake of FBI Director James Comey’s recommendation for no charges to be filed against Secretary Clinton there was a change so small on social media you may have not noticed it. Profile pictures are being changed to display the inverted American flag… a move that is generally reserved for moments of intense and immanent distress. When asked you get a litany of reasons for the change, but the core belief is that the country is broken. Protesters claim that while the Clinton incident prompted the change she is not the only reason.

In just the past week both Philando Castile and Alton Sterling lost their lives in officer related shootings. They were just the latest names on a list already too long, and the growing frustration with law enforcement protecting its own is adding fuel to a fire that is already blinding to look at.

With the growing number of officer related shootings of unarmed citizens, wealth disparity, and a justice system that favors the wealthy and well connected you can expect this trend to continue.

‘Lesser of Evils’ vs. ‘Bernie or Bust’

I’ve always liked to think that I have somewhat of a scientific mindset when it comes to politics, that I care deeply about the facts and am very willing to change my mind when wrong on the facts, and happily so. Unfortunately, being hinged to hard facts and information often makes politics so frustrating, especially when one sees distortion and manipulation of facts being presented as an alternate, optional viewpoint.

As an example, I remember being frustrated as hell with the mainstream media’s faux neutrality during the Todd Akin controversy. If you don’t remember, Akin is a congressman who famously said that pregnancy from ‘legitimate rape’ is impossible (insinuating, I guess, that if you got pregnant from rape, you liked it or were asking for it?) Despite being completely wrong on something that even people in ancient empires were aware of, articles refused to acknowledge this; in an apparent attempt to not offend people who might agree with Akin, one could read the entire article and simply be presented two legitimate, optional viewpoints- that woman can get pregnant from rape, or they have a defensive matrix that prevents pregnancy.

Climate change vs. deniers, the value of trickle down economics, weapons of mass destruction, Sharia Law in America, effectiveness of torture, or effectiveness of government surveillance- the list goes on and on. Once in a while in politics, however, there does come along two legitimate viewpoints, based completely on one’s personal set of ethics and guidelines. Issues that we would- in an ideal system- be front and center in American political discourse, issues that people can debate and discuss that are grounded in the same set of facts.

One such example is Sander’s position on gun manufacturer lawsuits vs. Clinton’s. On that very specific topic- whether or not gun manufacturers should be able to be sued for the deaths their products caused- I actually lean more towards the side of Clinton. I believe that lawsuits may be applicable, given that they make a product purposely designed for ending life as efficiently and effectively as possible, while also very likely supporting the NRA’s lobbying efforts to suppress or eliminate gun laws- similar to how I believe people should have been able to sue cigarette companies for making a deadly product while lobbying a public misinformation campaign. Though I hold and maintain this position, I completely respect Sanders’ position- that they should not be held legally accountable for a product our country allows them to legally produce, and acknowledge the legal grey area.

(Some caveats- A, While I tend to lean towards her side in this issue, I don’t necessarily believe Clinton is completely genuine. I believe she simply uses it to attack Sanders in one position she believes he is weak, taking advantage of how bad it looks to come out against suing families of slain victims. And B, Sanders’ position, that assault rifles should be banned, is ultimately the more progressive one. I would rather the companies that make assault rifles not exist to be sued in the first place.)

This leads me to a heated topic of controversy and debate that has been popping up lately. Since Sanders’ loss in New York, while a great many (including myself) have not given up hope, the prospect of a Clinton presidency seems that much more likely. This harsh blowback to Sanders supporters comes parallel to news that it is mathematically impossible for any Republican candidate to defeat Trump- leading many supporters to discuss and debate what their course of action will be given a Clinton/Trump general election.

As their name suggests, “Bernie or Bust”ers have one goal in mind- electing Bernie Sanders- and have no incentive to vote for a different candidate. Whether the allegiance is to the person or his ideals in general, they swear to either withhold their vote entirely or write him in as their candidate come general election- even if it means a Republican president. Reasons range from the short term- that Sanders is the only candidate that would reasonably represent their ideals, and thus, by basic democratic principles, he alone is worthy of their votes- to the long term reasons, theorycrafting about the direction of a the country. Right or wrong, some believe that a Trump’s over-the-top presidency would reinvigorate liberals to continue to fight harder than ever. On the other side, a Clinton presidency would only further cement the Democratic power establishment, disarm Democratic opposition to her more conservative goals, and allow the DNC to take further action to prevent another Bernie Sanders.

Adversely, the “Lesser of Two Evils” crowd. For clarity, in this post I am specifically referencing Sanders supporters, not those with a generally cynical view of politics. These are people who will hold their nose and vote for Clinton if the situation arises, and will do whatever they can to prevent a Trump (or other Republican) presidency. Though they may even acknowledge that Clinton runs antithetical to their core beliefs, they see the risks that a Republican president may enact a policy (or edict, in Trump’s case) that would cause harm to themselves or others, and their ability to prevent this supersedes their own personal preferences. Further, just as the Supreme Court is in the process of swinging Democratic for the first time in a long while, one health complication or retirement of a Justice would swing it back into Republican domination for an entire generation. Given the current political climate, I would guess there would be no ambivalence in their next pick, like they saw when the court ruled in favor of gay marriage and Obamacare.

I believe both these positions to be legitimate, respectable ones. I personally lean more towards “Bernie or Bust” but cannot refute or disrespect anyone who makes the decision to support Clinton- that they’d give up what matters to them and opt to maintain a stable, lukewarm centrist system of government than allow it to delve into an unpredictable mess. That said, the amount of respect from the other ‘side’ has been a mixed bag. I have seen some random spots of “Bernie or Bust”ers being somewhat conspiratorial, insinuating the notion of voting for Clinton means they were never really with Sanders- but these are random commenters, no one in a role I know and respect. I have, on the other hand, seen several people with a large voice or audience on the “Lesser of Evils” side, being downright condescending- insinuating that Bernie-or-Busters are unreasonable, selfish; they have a moral responsibility to prevent a Republican presidency. To withhold one’s vote or to write-in makes one by default responsible for a Trump presidency and whatever that entails.

Let me attempt to refute that claim. One personal political belief I’ve never wavered from is the idea that when one votes for someone, they take responsibility for all that nominee does. I voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, and I am partially responsible for every civilian killed by a US drone strike. I am partially responsible for the push for TPP. I am partially responsible for the impunity of the bankers who crashed the economy. When I voted for him, I took partial ownership of that presidency. Given that Clinton has insinuated that Obama’s foreign policy wasn’t hawkish enough, given that she voted for the Iraq war and pushed for intervention Syria, one can assume she will only exacerbate the neo-conservative line that Obama has towed. If not voting for Clinton makes me responsible for Trump, is not the inverse true as well? Are we prepared to take responsibility for all potential foreign conflicts or corporatist policies Clinton will enact?

My second point is this- my first presidential vote was for Barack Obama in 2008. I had only the barest knowledge of politics, so I believed the vague media stigma that he was a someone different- that he would stop the Iraq war and return power to the lower and middle class. Though I did not follow his first campaign closely, I did start to become more politically active and informed- and thus, more frustrated and dissatisfied with his presidency. Though he faced genuine and absurd- not to mention strategically coordinated- obstruction from Republicans, it was more of what he did on his own that irked me- blessing corporate immunity out of fear of economic ‘collateral consequences’, maintaining golden-parachute contracts for bailed out banker executives while ripping up union contracts for bailed out auto workers, showing only the slightest, if any, support for liberal causes, such as protests and union strikes. Disingenuously claiming that his new policy of drone strikes and bombings were not technically a continuation of war. Unapologetically clamping down on government whistleblowers more vigorously than any other president in history. When 2012 finally rolled around, I was downright angry. Though the climate was not as heated as Clinton vs. Sanders, I boisterously debated with podcasts and blogs who said that we should support Obama to prevent a Romney presidency. I won’t name names, but I was irked by the claim that we were cynical rebels, purists- that for every time Obama mentions raising the minimum wage, anti-Obama liberals countered with ‘yeah, but, drone strikes!’, as if we weren’t satisfied with Obama simply because we didn’t WANT to be. (Where is that minimum wage increase, by the way?)
I admit, I lost my nerve, and voted Obama in 2012, again- all to prevent a Romney presidency.

It was no surprise, then, that a few days ago I saw a new post from the same podcast host from back then, saying that they are saddened by Sander’s drawbacks and supported him initially, that it’s the time for unity- we now have a responsibility to support Clinton and prevent a Republican. We must play the cards we are given. So, I thought they called me the cynical one, but don’t they ever get sick of being on repeat? Think about it- starting in 2008, I was fooled into thinking Obama was a game-changing liberal, the shock to the system we desperately needed. In 2012 I voted for him knowing full well he was not someone who represented my ideals. If I vote for Clinton in 2016 (and most likely in 2020 when she runs for reelection) I will have been voting for the ‘lesser of two evils’ for 16 years- about half my life- and will have NEVER ONCE voted for a president that I could truly count on to support my positions. At what point does this become unacceptable? And if this is how I feel, how can you expect any younger, more informed first-time Sanders voter to not become instantly jaded with the system?

I have also heard the argument from some that they will vote for Clinton- but fight her presidency from day one. That voting is not the same as supporting. I said this back in 2008 and still believe it now- I am not rich, I cannot be the type of political donor that an establishment, SuperPAC Democrat would listen to. My ONLY political capital is my vote. If I were a Clinton or any other corporatist, big money Democrat and I heard someone saying they will be extremely dissatisfied with my presidency, that they do not believe they I represent them- but they ultimately promise me their vote, how could I think anything but “stay the course?” They gave me what all that they could give me for four years of leadership, and all I needed to be was politically left of Genghis Khan.

You can’t vote for someone with an asterisk attached. They either believe they have your support, or they believe they would need to earn it. There is no in-between.