Happy 4th From Washington DC

fourth of july

Go Independence Day!


But what does it mean?


We are independent from British rule since 1776.  


That made us a free nation.


We are free to be…but be what? 


1) Safe and Secure – Have a strong military, intelligence, and homeland security to keep the peace or compromise on national security and make bad deals for political expediency and face the consequences by a host of crazed terrorist threats, a nuclear Iran, a belligerent North Korea, a bellicose Russia, or a rising confrontational China. 


2) Prosperous And Self-Sufficient – Strengthen education, encourage innovation, invest in research and development and advanced manufacturing, cultivate a motivated and capable workforce, and manage a fiscally responsible economy or spend recklessly and indiscriminately driven by pork-barrel politics and special interests and eventually bankrupt our richly-endowed nation.


3) Equal And With Fundamental Human Rights – Ensure equality and opportunity for everyone under the law, where everyone has respect and dignity and the protection of basic human rights or discriminate in large and small ways perpetuating the have and have nots in every fiber of our society, where the rich get sickeningly richer and for everyone else you’re sh*t out of luck. 


4) Socially Just – Provide for a just and fair society ensuring that people are duly protected and crime does not pay or irresponsibly live in managed chaos and let violent criminals back out on the streets in a revolving door of recidivism rather than rehabilitation. 


5) Environmentally Responsible – Safeguard our environment and natural resources, invest in renewable energy resources and sustainability, reduce, reuse, and recycle, and give a hoot and don’t pollute or just pig out now and leave an inhospitable gutted world for later. 


6) Democratically Governed – Rule with righteousness and integrity, give back to the people, be open and honest, listen to all sides and ensure a balanced fair approach or perpetuate lies, deceit, corruption, conspiracy, fraud, waste, and abuse. 


Not everyone in the world is so lucky to be free.


Maybe this Independence Day, we think not just about the new Terminator movie, shopping at the mall, and feasting at the BBQ, but also what we want this treasured freedom to mean, what our “leaders” are leading us to, and are we getting the freedom we all, as human beings under G-d, innately deserve.


We can definitely raise the bar and we should. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

All The Frogs From Egypt

Frog

So what happened to all the swarms of frogs from the Bible when in Exodus, G-d struck the Egyptians with the 2nd plague of frogs (reminds me of the children’s song: “Frogs here! Frogs there! Frogs are jumping everywhere!“)? 


I saw this sticker on a pole in downtown D.C. advertising for this Frog called the Rabb’s Fringe Limbed Tree Frog, where there is just 1 left in the entire world. 


Talking about facing extinction!


And this interesting website called PhotoArk by National Geographic freelance photgrapher, Joel Sartore (noted at the bottom of the sticker) sells all sorts of amazing photos of endangered animal species to promote conservation. 


One of them has his “greatest hits” featured with 90 favorite images and sells for $225–what awesome creatures G-d has created.


I remember reading in the Wall Street Journal how since1970 the world’s wildlife numbers have dropped by more than half (52%)–“in rivers, on land, and in the seas.” 


That is crazy!


Surely, we need to preserve life and create a sustainable future–my G-d, what are we doing to world and these beautiful creatures? ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Tree Transplant

Tree Transplant
Getting a little tree transplant in cold, grey Washington, D.C. today. 



Sadly, the new trees, without any leaves, look more dead than alive. 



Sort of funny (-sad) how we pour infinite amounts of concrete and build up our cities, until there is little to no natural green spaces anymore (unless you go get yourself to the neighborhood park or run on weekends to burbs). 



We call in the tree transplant folks to line that narrow strip around our sidewalks with a few trees and we call it a day.



Urban sprawl is leaving us with stoic concrete and steel, but very little natural warmth and beauty. 



A few sad looking sapplings can’t make up for the lush forests and living landscape that we’re destroying. ;-)



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Superhero Socks

POW Socks
Thought these socks were pretty cool.



POW!

WHAM!

ZAAP!

KAPOW!

SPLAT!



We are living in an age with potential for great upheaval whether from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, bigotry and social inequality, national debts and unpaid social entitlements, poverty and pandemics, global warming and environmentally unsustainable practices, and the clash of Western and Eastern civilizations. 



Thank G-d for advances in technology and innovation to help address these huge challenges of our time. 



However, whoever is portraying everything as all rosy or telling you to just be optimistic and all will be well–they’re feeding you a bunch of you know what!



We need a superhero/Messiah leader to come help us save the day and these socks would be perfect for their arrival. ;-)



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Soccer Soda On Metro


Watch what happens when people leave their trash on the Metro (Washington, DC). 



In this case, it’s a bottle and this one guy in jeans can’t seem to get rid of it. 



It’s sort of hilarious. 



First, the bottle is dumped by an uncaring passenger, it rolls around for awhile, and ends up sitting in the middle of the train car. 



The train stops at the station and the people coming aboard step around and over the water bottle. 



This guy in the center is irked by this bottle and just sort of blatantly kicks it at a women in winter boots standing by the doors. 



But it eventually rolls back and hits him in the foot.



He’s talking away (blah blah) on his cell, yet maneuvers the bottle ever so discretely to roll it backwards to someone else



But it ends up right back at him twice more.



Next stop, he runs off the train (and away from this bottle), but the person behind him kicks it after him and towards the doors.



Then this one lady with the orange bag and red purse gets up from her seat, and gives it a big kick right out the door.



She does this while the other people are boarding…oops watch out for the flying bottle.



Garbage left on the Metro…Goal! Score! ;-)



(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Money, It’s Something

Poverty

Just an observation today about there being so much poverty in the Nation’s capital and around the country.

Homeless, hungry, and sick people on the streets in one of the richest countries in the world.

Yet, we have trillions going overseas to fight wars with seemingly little to no tangible benefits.

And so much ostensible waste with pork barrel politics, inefficiencies, and failed projects.

A relative joked with me the other day saying, “It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor as long as you have money!”

Here we borrow money ($17.6 trillion ) and print money and the Federal Reserve buys debt ($4.1 trillion ) to keep interest rates low and the economy churning.

People from real estate mogul, Donald Trump to Economist, Robert Wiedemer, who predicted the last recession, are warning of dire economic consequences because of these short-sighted policies.

So do we have real money to continue to burn or is it smoke and mirrors and as Wiedemer says, “the medicine will become the poison”–what do you think?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Fair Trade Principles Are Cool

Fair Trade Principles Are Cool

So I was up in Harpers Ferry and discovered this cool boutique store called Tenfold.

The store carries a collection of creative “fair trade,” eco-friendly products from around the world.

They had a cool variety of clothing and accessories–that was different and special.

We all found something there to come back with and had to choose what we liked best.

I ended up getting a couple of handmade ties from a company called Global Mamas in Ghana and the girls got some skirts (and necklaces) made by Unique Batik in Thailand.

I liked the quality and design of the merchandise.

But more than that, I was truly impressed by the principles these companies adhere to under fair trade:

– Alleviate poverty and social injustice
– Support open, fair, and respectful relationships between producers and customers
– Develop producers’ skills, and foster access to markets, application of best practices, and independence,
– Promote economic justice by improving living standards, health, education, and the distribution of power
– Pay promptly and fairly
– Support safe working conditions
– Protect children’s rights
– Cultivate sustainable practices
– Respect cultural diversity

Note: Fair trade is not to be confused with free trade–the later being where government does not interfere with imports or exports by applying tariffs, subsidies, or quotas.

Truly, if we give people a chance to be productive under fair trade working conditions, they can make the world a little better one product at a time. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)