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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/26/16

What Do You If You Found Yourself Headed Over a Cliff?

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Surely the answer to the headline question is obvious and fundamental, or at least I hope it is. You need not be an experienced hiker or mountain climber to give a moment's thought to the visual image of finding yourself coming upon a steep and rocky cliff, which you cannot get down or around, given its vast length and depth. Arriving inadvertently at the rim of the Grand Canyon would be a good example for consideration.

What would you do? Indeed, is there any other choice, than to do an about face and head the other way?

David Brower gave this example when presenting his rousing talks, which pulled tens of thousands or more into the environmental movement, decades ago and until near his death in November 2000, age 88. Perhaps he chose this example because he was an experienced and well-known mountain climber, particularly in his younger days. As he walked dramatically to the edge of the stage, talking vividly and encouragingly about this analogy, the answer seemed patently obvious. I don't believe there were ever any dissenters, at least given the several talks I heard from him.

I believe this analogy is pressingly relevant today, more critical than ever before. The United States of America is patently on the mode of self-destruct, about to continue in the direction of the metaphorical and all too literal cliff. We face monumental, rapidly escalating problems, pervasive corruption reaching the highest levels, unbridled capitalism that is tearing apart the fabric of civilization, a frightfully real threat of nuclear war, global and long term effects of climate change, obliteration of species and habitats, not to mention untold deaths of millions of people, from war, famine, lack of health care, and far more. I hardly need to elaborate on these dangers for anyone who even skims the headlines now and then.

Shamefully, we are offered no solutions from our so-called leaders or leader "wanna bees" on these issues. I pondered writing factually as I could about these ego-driven individuals, who do not have anything close to our best interests at heart, and who have failed to express anything close to a viable future for us, let alone humankind. I speak of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, and a gaggle of stragglers who love to make noise even without so much as a deep or basic understanding the problems confronting us; characters who will do their best, intentionally or otherwise, to assure that we indeed do fly off that cliff of no return, via "business as usual"--the very business that got us here, and pursuing trends that lead directly to worse devastation, wider wealth distribution, continued war, possibly if not probably nuclear, and the lengthy list we are all too familiar with.

As an alternative to pointing about what most folks ought to know by now about the "wanna bees," I ask this: What if we could vote for a president who stood firmly against entrenched political and economic power, which day by day leads us further into financial, social and ecological crisis? What if you could vote for a president who would do everything in their power to advance the cause of human rights around the world? Who would stand tall leading by example? Who refuses to accept money from corporations, but works instead to secure peace, justice, and democracy, along with the only livable planet we can conceivably have? A person who puts people, planet and peace over profit? A person who literally dedicated their life to helping others? Would this not be a 180 degree turn from our present course, a walking away from the present cliff, and in fact truly be the only future we can live with?

Voting for such a person might mean setting aside legitimate fears of the jokers in the present mainstream line-up, but likewise demonstrating in no uncertain terms we are dead serious about the only real future we can have, leaving the planet in better condition than it is now. It would mean having two ounces of faith in our own brains, perhaps doing a little more homework, and simply and calmly being sure we're aware of where and when to vote in our own area.

I am of course talking about Dr. Jill Stein, who would begin by making correct choices for her cabinet. And who, once elected, we ourselves would continue to support, along with showing more involvement in actively demonstrating our belief in her ideas?

I presented a link to a talk of hers not long ago, in the form of a letter she wrote to a Russian environmental group. While the letter is in regard to her discussion with that group, I contend that it lays out Jill's broad outlook with her usual clarity and equanimity. Without further adieu, I present that letter below, and encourage you to both read it and "read between the lines." If you like what you hear, I can only suggest that you pass it along in whatever manner you best can, be it a link to this article or simple and calm discussions with your friends about this amazing individual, whom the media chooses to regularly ignore.

Dear Yevgeniya Chirikova and Nadezhda Kutepova,

First of all, thank you for your courageous actions to protect our planet and fight for political freedoms.

Those who stand against entrenched political and economic power often face retaliation from the elites who are leading us into economic, social and ecological crisis. Sadly, this is true in the United States as well as in Russia.

My views regarding Russia, and even my specific statements, have been grossly misrepresented by certain actors in the media and political establishment. There is a growing tendency in American politics to label critics of the established order as agents of Russia working against the United States. For example, when WikiLeaks exposed massive corruption at the highest levels of the Democratic Party, high-ranking Democratic Party officials and their supporters in the media began attacking WikiLeaks as an alleged agent of Russia, despite their inability to produce any hard evidence to support this claim. This tactic of smearing critics as Russian agents is the mirror image of the Putin administration's tactic of labeling Putin critics as agents of the West. It is reminiscent of the shameful history of Russia-baiting attacks against political opposition leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.

In this climate of growing anti-Russian sentiment, my visit to Russia to participate in a panel on international relations became a target. Andrew Weiss, a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted a video from my Moscow trip with a claim that I was "gushing over Russian support for human rights." Pulitzer Prize--winning journalist Glenn Greenwald quickly pointed out that this claim was completely false. My comments were in reference to the conference on international relations with political figures from around the world, many of whom expressed support for my vision of a foreign policy based on diplomacy, respect for international law and human rights.

At the same time, Democratic political consultant John Aravois spread the claim that I "only criticized the US" and refused to criticize Russia--as Greenwald pointed out, another falsehood. In my comments on international relations I criticized both the governments of the United States and Russia for putting resources into military spending that would be better and more justly spent on critical domestic needs. This is a matter of public record. Yet the fact that I criticized Russian military policy in Moscow was ignored by people like Washington Post reporter Anne Appelbaum, who tweeted that I was a "pro-Putin" candidate. On Joy Reid's show on MSNBC, former Naval intelligence officer Malcolm Nance stated, "Jill Stein has a show on Russia Today," a blatant falsehood that Reid refused to correct even after Adam Johnson of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting publicly brought it to her attention . So it's not surprising that many people are confused after hearing prominent members of the political and media establishment repeat stories that run counter to the facts.

You have asked, "How is it possible to have a discussion with Mr. Putin and not mention, not even once, the fate of Russian political prisoners, or the attacks against Russian journalists, artists, and environmentalists?" The answer is simple: I did not have any discussion with Mr. Putin. Although we sat across from each other at the same table, there was no interpreter present--so there was no opportunity to discuss human rights or anything else with him.

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In my run for U.S. Senate against Utah's Orrin Hatch, I posted many progressive ideas and principles that I internalized over the years. I'm leaving that site up indefinitely, since it describes what I believe most members of our species truly (more...)

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