Friday, March 27, 2009

Obama invites me and you to email him our opinions

I heard on NPR a couple of days ago that the White House website ( now has an e-mail link where anyone can write a note to President Obama. I didn't really believe it, but I went online to check, and there it was. You just scroll down the opening page to the word "contact" on the right. Click on that word, and you'll go to the page with the little box waiting for your comment.

Above the space for you to write, it says:
"President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history. To send questions, comments, concerns, or well-wishes to the President or his staff, please use the form below."

You can write 5000 characters. Or less. Thank you Mr. Obama. Your predecessor never asked.

I knew right away what I want to say to Mr. Obama. I think I'll start with "Dear Barack" because most people probably don't.

I'm not gonna talk about the stuff on the front page of the newspaper: Obama's economic recovery plan, or reducing taxes for 95% of Americans, or ending the war in Iraq, or solutions for the drug trade over the Mexican border. That's all important, today. But it's all stuff that will be forgotten in 1000 years. Most of it won't make any difference in 1000 years. People will always have wars, use drugs, fight over borders, gripe about taxes ---- those struggles have been around as long as civilization has existed, and before. It's our human nature to have those particular struggles.

Here's what really matters, to me. We're entering a period of mass extinctions, where the majority of biologists agree that 25 - 75% of existing species are likely to go extinct within the next hundred years. This mass extinction is not like previous mass extinctions that occurred due to meteor impacts or glacial movements. In earlier extinctions, the surviving creatures had a variety of rich habitats remaining on Earth. They could adapt and evolve to fill these nurturing habitats. That's not the case now. We're fouling and destroying almost all habitats, most of them beyond recovery. Oceans, temperate forests, tropical forests, grasslands - all of them. Some by means of overharvesting, some by means of pollution, some by way of climate change. To me this is what really matters, because in 1000 years, in a million years, these habitats will still be trashed beyond recovery. And the animals will still be extinct. Forever. And not to be replaced by something new.
So that's what I'm going to say to Barack. Tomorrow I'll write it, after tonight's basketball games are over and I can say it in my clearest voice. "Please protect wildlife," I'll say, "so that the trillions of people to follow us on this planet won't have to live in a world without birds, without bears, without lions or wolves or whales. Think on down the line. You're probably good at that."

Keywords:: Obama wildlife extinctions white house


Jefferson's Guardian said...

"To me this is what really matters, because in 1000 years, in a million years, these habitats will still be trashed beyond recovery."

Yes, and if 25 - 75% of existing species become extinct, if we're still here, we will not be far behind. Until humankind becomes astutely aware that our very survival is linked to prospering and intact ecosystems, we'll very likely be a part of that figure.

May I suggest, if you haven't already, that you read Alan Weisman's The World Without Us? Mr. Weisman takes each reader on an incredible journey through time, starting on the day that humans cease to exist on Earth, and vividly portrays what would happen to everything we've left behind. It certainly had me rooting for the natural processes that would almost immediately start cleansing the planet. It's really a great read!

As far as this administration's current appetite for transparency, I agree, it's a wonderful change. The power of the Internet to effect positive change is very apparent. But, without constant vigilance and knowledge of the pending issues, along with follow-up and action by our voters, our government will continue to align with business and corporate interests -- which usually are a detriment to the life of the typical American citizen, not to mention all other living things.

Who are you cheering for in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament? I notice you have past ties to OU. Have you been rooting for the Sooners, or are you glad about the thumping that UNC gave them this evening?

Sally Kneidel, PhD said...

Hi Jefferson's Guardian
What does that name mean to you, by the way?

You're probably right that our government may drift back to aligning with corporate interests, if for no other reason than that corporate campaign contributions get politicians elected.

Thanks for the book recommendation, I'll look for it.

Since my husband and I both got our doctorates from UNC, and our son graduated from there, we are rabid UNC fans. I don't give a hoot about OU. I had a fun few years there, but I grew up in NC, and for better or worse, it's my home now. I am rooting with all my heart for UNC and Roy's boys. What about you?

Jefferson's Guardian said...

Sally, not having my own school (The University of Tulsa) in the NCAA basketball Tournament this year, and save for a few dollars thrown into a family pool where my only team left standing is Villanova, I'm pretty much "non-partisan" when it comes to the remaining Final Four entrants. But, since living in Virginia, I'm now a fan of the ACC. Usually my loyalties are reserved for teams in that conference, unless, of course, it's Duke. My sister-in-law, being an alumna of The University of Virginia, and the rest of my wife's family being avid followers of their sports programs, I now follow UVA. That's why I was feeling you out about OU. My feelings for that school are on a par with Duke. I'm not a fan of either. (Although, I'm a great admirer of Coach K.)

My Jefferson's Guardian moniker is derived from, mainly, my admiration and interest in Thomas Jefferson -- specifically his ideas of democratic freedoms and justice for all, and in particular his fear and loathing about the possibility of the "moneyed corporations" rising up to take over the people of the world, and then to take control of the people's governments. The influence of corporate dominance has steadily increased since the early days of our republic, while at the same time our democratic rights and freedoms have dwindled. It's been a constant battle since the colonists rebelled against commercial interests of the British elite, through the distorted application of the Fourteenth Amendment, right up until today where corporations have all the rights previously only reserved for natural persons. As Thom Hartmann explains, today's multinational corporations have effectively become the rudders that steer much of human experience, and "they're steering it by their prime value -- growth and profit at any expense -- a value that has become destructive for life on Earth."

Sally, I'm vehemently against the concept of "corporate personhood" -- a condition that's rarely mentioned, or even acknowledged, yet is probably the underlying basis for most, if not all, of the problems we face today. If you truly desire to protect the remaining species which share this world with us, then you'd be totally opposed to this insane and unconstitutional concept also. The vast majority of social, political, environmental, and cultural dilemmas we endure today are only the symptoms; Corporate personhood is the real disease.

Sally Kneidel, PhD said...

Well said, Jefferson's Guardian.

Have you seen the documentary "The Corporation"? It wouldn't be new ideas for you, but I think the screenwriters' treatment of this perspective is brilliant. One of the most influential documentaries I've ever seen. It's where I first learned of the concept of "corporate personhood" that you mentioned in your last comment.

I also recommend the short film "The Story of Stuff", accessible on youtube.

And then there's Darwin's Nightmare - a very powerful documentary about the loss of livelihood in an impoverished African community, at the hands of commercial interests in Europe. Disturbing but incredibly well done.

Jefferson's Guardian said...

Welcome home, Sally. I hope your travels were enlightening and educational.

Yes, I've seen The Corporation. As a matter of fact, it's such an important documentary, I bought a copy. The film was nominated for numerous awards, and won a major award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004. Another highly nominated documentary, that also won an award at Sundance, is Why We Fight. The film describes the rise and maintenance of the United States military-industrial complex and its fifty-year involvement with the wars led by the United States -- especially its 2003 unprovoked invasion of Iraq. The film asserts that in every decade since World War II, the American public was told a lie so that the government (the incumbent administration) could take the country to war and fuel the military-industrial economy.

I agree, Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff, is a wonderful animation. I've also recommended it to many people.

I haven't seen Darwin's Nightmare, but I certainly will make a point of locating a copy -- possibly at our public library. I just read a couple of reviews on-line.

All of this "stuff" -- your life-long interest in, and commitment to, environmental and ecological issues; mine of corporate and associated political and social issues, are all part of the same "ball-of-wax", so to speak. It's all interrelated.

Best of luck in the NCAA Championship game tomorrow night. It'll be a great game!

Sally Kneidel, PhD said...

Yes indeed it is the same ball of wax. I'm hoping that Obama understands that. He seems to, although I don't know how much he'll be able to escape corporate interests. Bush, on the other hand, seemed to be a complete pawn of corporations - serving their stockholders seemed to be his reason for living. Michael Murphy is someone else who "gets it" - who understands that our country has been controlled by corporations. I saw Robert Kennedy Jr. speak last fall (he also endorsed one of our books) and his speech was amazing to me. He calls himself a "free marketeer", talked about "crony capitalism" and he quoted Jefferson as saying you can't have a democracy very long with an uninformed public. (RFK says corporations control 95% of the media.) RFK made several references to his book: Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and his Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy which I have not read. My post about his speech is at I tried to write a pretty thorough coverage of his speech. He's a person who definitely merges his environmental passion with his understanding of the corporate stranglehold on just about everything. Where is it all headed? That's what I'm really curious about. Duke Energy sure has this community snowed, with a growing handful of activists around here fighting them hard. A civil disobediance is planned in a a couple of weeks. What do you think? Thanks for the book suggestion. If you wanted to write a guest blog post for my blog, that would be a refreshing addition.

Jefferson's Guardian said...

Good evening, Sally. First, thank you for the invitation to post a guest editorial on your site. I just may take you up on your offer. Please feel free to contact me at my e-mail account if you want to discuss topics and parameters. I look forward to it!

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., has been a very passionate activist on behalf of the people of this country -- particularly the poor, the disadvantaged, and the elderly. He's a lot like his dad in this respect.

Mr. Kennedy's accounts of Thomas Jefferson, and viewpoints of George W. Bush, are valid and understated (although, I'm writing this response prior to reading your coverage of his speech). I hesitate to use Mr. Jefferson's name in the same sentence as our most recent past president simply because I feel it undeservedly elevates the distinction of the latter, while at the same time blasphemes the good name and image of the former. This should give you a good understanding of my feelings about the previous eight years we've had to endure.

I can't help but think our republic, and the rest of the world, really, would be a much different place had Mr. Jefferson not been living in France during the time of our constitutional ratification process. Although he stayed in contact with James Madison and others, he could only participate in the debate through correspondence. He was, definitely, more a bystander than a participant in the process. Although it seems he wasn't particularly convinced that a bill of rights, per se, was needed, he had strong feelings about the need for certain protections of the people -- those being freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce against monopolies, trial by juries in all cases, no suspensions of habeas corpus, and no standing armies. It's obvious, were he here to contribute, instead of in Paris drinking fine wine and enjoying impeccable food, we might be living in a totally different environment right now.

Civil disobedience is a noble and very patriotic act. I'm always very supportive of those who participate, and believe in a cause so much that'll they'll risk arrest and possible jail and fines. Best of luck, and may solidarity be your friend and guide. Please use caution, and avoid unnecessary risks.