Thursday, September 11, 2014


Keep corporations out of elections, voters away from Senators
 While Senate Republicans were busy voting to block the constitutional amendment that would get dirty money out of elections, Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake were also busy with other limits —ones they could place on constituents who voiced their objections.

Last Thursday, about 45 voters showed up at Sen. McCain's Arizona office to ask him to co-sponsor the Democracy For All Amendment. The amendment would effectively overturn the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision that called corporations 'people' and allowed vast sums of money into campaign financing. This Thursday, a dozen people again went to the senator's office to ask that he at least vote to support the amendment. After all, McCain was once a proponent of campaign finance reform. In 2012, he even called the Citizens United decision "the worst decision ever". What a difference two years makes!

As the group of constituents assembled outside the building, holding 'Corporations Are Not People' and 'Keep Corporations Out Of Elections' signs, McCain's office manager, Meghan Kielty, came out to greet them and put up at least an initial facade of friendliness. While starting out by telling the group they were welcome to come into the office, she immediately put her hand over the camera lens of CBS 5's photojournalist, Juan Magaña, and said, "No filming" — a directive which Magaña ignored. After all, we were still standing outside.

The group moved indoors to the lobby, but before they could enter the senator's office, a male staffer stood in the door and stated that only ten people could come in. The week before, the stated limit was ten to fifteen. Nevertheless, the group cooperated and counted out ten as they entered. Kielty barred journalist Magaña from entering, so he stood and filmed from the lobby, through the glass wall.

The spokesperson, Dan O'Neal of Progressive Democrats of America, began to tell Kielty what the group wanted but was immediately interrupted by the male staffer who demanded to search all purses as a 'security measure' — a new strong-arm tactic that not only didn't come into play the week before, but which he gave up after searching only half of the purses. Security? Obviously not. The move was pure harassment. He immediately disappeared into the inner sanctum. O'Neal's statement was completed in less than a minute and this oh-so-threatening-looking 'crowd' left.

Mary Baumbach enforcing '3 people at a time'
The next stop was directly across the street at Sen. Jeff Flake's office. Only two people got through the door before office manager Mary Baumbach issued her order: three people at a time. O'Neal was among the first, so he could make his statement about why they were there. Everyone else filed in, three at a time, to fill out forms specifying their purpose. The journalist was again left to film from the lobby while members of the group pressed their 'Corporations Are Not People' signs against the glass. Shortly, the building manager showed up to demand that everyone in the lobby go outside — one of the perks, apparently, of an elected official renting a public office in a private building.

The journalist had to stand in the lobby, too
So Thursday was once again a visual lesson in our taxpayer dollars at work. Senators' staffers strive not to facilitate the voice of the people so they can accurately communicate the message to their bosses, but rather they are primarily interested in limiting the public's access to our 'public servants'; in limiting the visual images of voters disagreeing with their bosses; and sometimes in harassing the voters with the intention, no doubt, of getting them to stop. Yet at no point were group members disruptive or disrespectful. They were simply present.

All this unfolded at the very moment when, in Washington, D.C., Senators McCain and Flake voted to betray the people's will. They and every other Republican senator voted to stop the Democracy For All Amendment in its tracks, even though a majority of Americans want limits on campaign donations. It's not that the senators don't know how to set limits. They have refined the process into an art — when it comes to their constituents. However, with corporations and the millions they pour into campaign coffers, there's no sign our duly elected, and well-funded, representatives will ever call a halt.

Welcome to America, where politicians recognize corporations as people, but give scant respect to human beings.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


The United States and its allies are in a panic about ISIS (Islamic State In Iraq and Syria). Every day, this brutal entity seizes headlines. Politicians are whipping up a frenzy by characterizing the group as the greatest threat to civilization ever known. Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote an op-ed that spread across the country in which she said:
"The threat ISIS poses cannot be overstated. This is the most vicious, well-funded and militant terrorist organization we have ever seen, and it is very quickly consolidating its power."
On the contrary, the threat ISIS poses can be — and has been — overstated. Thank you, Senator Feinstein. The reasons may be varied, but certainly, the need for corporations to sustain their war profits and the desire to distract from other events in the Middle East (such as Israel's human rights abuses in Gaza, or of the Syrian government against its people) are among the prime suspects.

For a more rational view of ISIS, I turned to Canada. Not the government, which has joined the panic, but to the CBC News network. Writer Andre Mayer, citing a variety of political analysts, has made the case that ISIS created an illusion that it is more powerful than it really is — and we've bought it, hook, line, and sinker. He acknowledges that the group is dangerous, but not nearly to the degree we seem to think. Here are the reasons why:

1. ISIS has nowhere to go. Although it declared itself a caliphate, it's an occupying entity instead. The areas it occupies are not only weak but they are not even contiguous. To expand any further will require a capability to fight on many fronts against much stronger opponents. Wayne White, a former analyst on Iraq for the U.S. government, says that local leaders of the occupied regions cooperated with ISIS because these were "places where Shia or Kurdish forces wouldn't really fight for those areas."

2. Its list of enemies is long. It includes:
  • the Iraqi government and military
  • Shia militias
  • Moderate Sunnis in Iraq
  • Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria
  • Other Sunni jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria
  • Moderate rebel groups in Syria
  • the Syrian regime
  • the U.S.
  • Iran
  • Turkey
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Lebanese militants Hezbollah
Al Queda might well be added to the list, as the two groups have devolved from a cooperative relationship into a hostile competition over who will lead the movement. Based on observations by White and other analysts, the Mayer article concluded that:
"As a result of all these enmities, ISIS has been forced to fight a battle on multiple fronts — against al-Assad's forces in Syria, the Turkish military near the Turkey-Syria border, the Kurdish peshmerga in Iraq's north, the Iraqi military and Shia militia throughout Iraq and U.S. airstrikes from above."
3. Its list of allies is short. It includes:
  • Members of the Baath party and former Saddam Hussein loyalists
  • Some Iraqi tribal leaders
4. The fierce image of ISIS depends on manipulation of the media. Such manipulation, like the horrific videos of the beheading of journalists, may strike terror in the hearts of Westerners, but the brutality also alienates other jihadists who might otherwise join them. In addition, all the media announcements by the group broadcast its movements in advance, assisting its enemies in effectively countering their military thrust.

5. The number of its members is small. According to Kamran Bokhari, analyst for the geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor, ISIS has only 3,000 to 4,000 core members. He says:
"ISIS as a group is very small, but it's the alliances that they make that make them seem bigger."
For instance, they have been joined by about 5,000 members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party who would like to put an end to Shia dominance in Iraqi politics.

To round out the picture, we need to consider the following factors. ISIS is fighting with weapons the U.S. left behind in its other disastrous involvements. Are we really going to take more weapons into the area? ISIS is exploiting divisions we either created or made worse. Are we going to go in and create more? America is afraid that ISIS will train American terrorists who will return to the U.S. and create havoc in our society. Isn't this the same concern we've been living with since 2001? Has our society fallen while we sit here in fear?

The drumbeat in the media and among politicians is to do something, and do something fast. We've already done something. We intervened in a part of the world that we little understood, and we exacerbated ancient tensions. Those tensions will eventually have to play out and be resolved by the parties involved. We are not one of those parties — and the American public should not be emotionally manipulated into believing, yet again, that we are.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Activists left outside John McCain's glass wall

On Thursday, a broad coalition of activists met at Senator John McCain's office in an upscale building at a tony Camelback Road address to ask him to sponsor a constitutional amendment. Known as the Democracy For All amendment, it would overturn the Supreme Court 's decision on Citizens United from four years ago. You know — the decision that allowed all that money from 'corporations-are-people-too' into the political process.

The activists represented such groups as Public Citizen, Political Action, People For the American Way, CREDO Action, Communication Workers of America, Common Cause, Progressive Democrats of America, and Wolf PAC Arizona. They turned over the signatures of thousands of Arizona residents, joining in an action that was taking place across the country on the same day. Hundreds of thousands of petitions were also delivered to senators in Kentucky, Virginia, Louisiana, Indiana, Arkansas, Illinois, Alaska, and New Hampshire.

All were asked to support the Democracy For All amendment, which so far has the backing of 50 senators. It's scheduled for a vote on Monday, September 8th. For anyone who is wondering why the irascible McCain was among those targeted for their support, it might have something to do with his reaction to the original court decision in 2010. At the time, he said:
"I think there will be scandals associated with the worst decision of the United States Supreme Court in the 21st century. Uninformed, arrogant, naive. I just wish one of [the justices] had run for county sheriff. That's why we miss people like [former Chief Justice] William Rehnquist and [former Justice] Sandra Day O'Connor, who had some experience with congressional and other races ... I predict to you that there will be scandals and I predict to you that there will be reform again."
Fine words. So, four years later, what's the holdup in correcting the situation? After all, the proposed amendment allows Congress and the states to limit money spent on candidates and on influencing elections. It allows Congress and states to "distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities". And it emphasizes that the amendment does not grant "the power to abridge the freedom of the press.'' Pretty straightforward, wouldn't you say?

But Senator McCain wasn't in his posh office to greet the activists and give them an answer to their demand. Instead, the group was left in the hands of the private building's management and the senator's front desk staff. Dan O'Neal, state chairman of Progressive Democrats of Arizona, described what happened there as 'mission creep' — referring to the 'mission' of these official-acting persons. First, the group was told they were welcome to assemble in the lobby. However, as O'Neal began to address the group, management (backed by security) changed their minds and said the activists were making too much noise — although only O'Neal was making any noise at all. And even though only one office fronted the lobby — Senator McCain's nearly empty one, where all of two staffers stood staring gape-mouthed through the glass walls.

Inside, by McCain's vanity wall
So the activists agreed to go into the senator's office with their statements, and their box of petitions, which was their goal anyway. Once inside, the two young staffers said that only 10-15 of them could be there at a time, leaving the larger portion of the group outside the glass walls, peering in and holding their "Corporations Are Not People" and "#GetMoneyOut" signs against the glass. As the group shifted to bring some people out and let new people in, building management suddenly decided there were also too many people in the lobby and ordered everyone to leave the building under the threat of arrest for trespassing.

Kicked outside by private security
So this is democracy in action. A U.S. senator rents an office — at taxpayer expense — in a private building where the ability of his constituents to see him is controlled by the employees of this exclusive building. Of course, the Senator's staffers themselves cooperated in trying to curtail the right of Arizonans to be peacefully heard.

If all those glass walls of Senator McCain's office are supposed to represent transparency, they're failing miserably at the task. But doesn't that image represent what this is truly about? — the illusion of transparency that is actually constructed of impenetrable walls, erected between America's politicians and the people they are supposed to represent?

Overturn Citizens United? Don't hold your breath waiting for the cooperation of Congress. Democracy will have to be enforced the same way the United States won it in the first place — by the people, average Americans, taking charge and exerting their will.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Events in Ferguson, Missouri have had a positive effect on at least a couple of California cities. As a result of the chaotic images that came out of there, both Davis and San Jose have decided to send their newly-acquired armored vehicles back to the military.

The Davis, CA Police Department just received their mine-resistant armored truck this month. However, at a city council meeting on Tuesday, a crowd appeared to protest the acquisition of the truck. Some of them wore shirts that read "tank the tank". Davis Police Chief Landry Black also showed up — to argue in favor of keeping it. He said:
“These vehicles are not intended for offensive use, like armored artillery or a tank is; they are intended to protect occupants from gunfire or hazards – they are for rescues and occupant protection.”
Whatever the 'intention', Ferguson showed the world that the militarization of city police forces can quickly escalate confrontations with peaceful protesters. While the tanks are 'protecting', they are also isolating the police force from the people they serve. At Tuesday's meeting, Davis City Councilman Robb Davis expressed his concern that such purchases, rather than increasing security, may be destructive by increasing the community's anxiety. Showing that he really absorbed the messages of Ferguson, he added:
"Symbol matters. We are a species that uses symbol, and this symbolizes the most destructive force on the planet, which is the U.S. military."
Ultimately, the city council voted 4-1 to get rid of the vehicle. The police department has 60 days to do so.

Just two days later, San Jose's police department announced that it, too, would get rid of its MRAP (mine-resistant, ambush-protected troop transport). Theirs has not been used, but has been in storage while being outfitted for street use. The department was weighing its pros and cons even before Ferguson exploded into the news. Police spokeswoman Sgt. Heather Randol said:
"It is a useful tool, but we realize it could be viewed by the community as the militarization of SJPD. It could create a divide, and we want the community's trust."
Community trust would seem to be basic to a well-functioning police force. Unfortunately, other Bay Area communities — such as South San Francisco and Redwood — are hanging onto their military equipment while defending their decision. Micaela Davis, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, wonders how things got to this point. She praised the San Jose PD for its decision but said:
"It brings up questions about whether it was needed in the first place. It's why public hearings should be required on the front end."
The public should have a say about what they're financing and its impact on them. There's often a big split between their opinions and the attitudes of rank-and-file officers. Sgt. Jim Unland, president of the San Jose Police Officers' Association, spoke for the rank-and-file. He defended having "the best" equipment available, which is military equipment. But LaDoris Cordell, who is both the city's Independent Police Auditor and a retired judge, said:
"SJPD, if it is to continue its efforts to build trust with the communities it serves, must not go down the path of militarization."
The fact that the officers within the department can't grasp that truth is a problem. In the aftermath of Ferguson, every police department in America should be evaluating how to win the public's trust — especially those that are already militarized. Every single police department should be questioning, How do we view the people we serve? Hint: the community should not be viewed as the enemy.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


For way too long, many of Arizona's Republican politicians have gotten away with far too much. On Tuesday, voters in the state's primary booted a bunch of them out. In a historical event, two GOP incumbents who hold state-wide offices both lost their primary races.

The first is Tom Horne, the blowhard career politician who is the state's Attorney General. The guy is under multiple investigations for campaign violations by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, by Yavapai County's attorney, and by private attorneys hired by the state solicitor general. The most egregious allegation is that he and paid state employees worked on his campaign on the taxpayers' dime. To top it all off, an FBI investigation of campaign violations caught the married Horne in a noontime tryst with a former aide during which he was involved in a hit-and-run accident with a parked vehicle.

Horne has blithely shrugged off all charges, plus haughtily dismissed the competition as an 'unknown' without a chance of winning. On Tuesday, however, voters outside of polling stations revealed to the ArizonaRepublic that they wanted anybody-but-Horne in office. They decisively  handed him his hat by giving his competitor, Mark Brnovich, 54% of the vote.

The second is John Huppenthal, state superintendent of schools. He actually succeeded Tom Horne in the superintendency when the latter went on to become attorney general. Huppenthal, too, is a career politician, having held some office or other for the last 30 years. What he hasn't held is any type of position as an educator. Originally a supporter of the national Common Core education standards, he did an about-face, when criticized by other conservatives, and pledged to change Common Core.

However, that was a minor offense compared to what he did anonymously. In June, it was revealed by blogger Bob Lord that Huppenthal used a number of pseudonyms to make blog posts that variously called welfare recipients 'lazy pigs', said Spanish-language media should be shut down, insisted that "It was Darwin who expressed approval of eliminating both Jews and Africans", and blamed Franklin D. Roosevelt for the Great Depressioneven though FDR took office well after the Depression began. 

This is the man who has been responsible for the public education of Arizona's children. And oh, yeah I haven't even mentioned the superintendent's robocalls the ones made early this year urging thousands of parents to obtain state-funded vouchers for private schools rather than send their kids to public ones.

But it's when we get to the nomination for governor that voters hit the trifecta! Again, the news is all about who didn't win. Ken Bennett didn't win. He's the clown of a secretary of state who threatened to remove President Obama from Arizona's 2012 ballot if Hawaii didn't confirm (to his satisfaction) that the president was born there. Hawaii yawned in his face and Bennett ended up apologizing to Arizona voters for embarrassing them. Eighty-eight percent of Tuesday's voters were not stupid enough to award the 2014 nomination for governor to Bennett.

Andrew Thomas didn't win the nomination, either. He's the former Maricopa County Attorney who was disbarred for bringing unfounded criminal charges against the political 'enemies' of himself and his buddy, the scurrilous Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Thomas received a full 8% of Tuesday's vote apparently from people who've either been living under a rock or who believe our elected officials should operate outside of the law.

And lastly, but at least as sweetly, former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith didn't win. The sweetness isn't primarily because Smith is a very conservative politician, although he is. It isn't because of any corruption or abuse of power charges, because none have been leveled against him. No, the sweetness is because he was endorsed by Governor Jan Brewer. Brewer is not-so-affectionately known as the Wicked Witch of the West for her mean-spirited stances on things like drivers's licenses for Dreamers, which she has steadfastly refused to issue even though her ban was overturned in court. In spite of Brewer's endorsement, Smith lost.

I hate to be so wildly irresponsible as to suggest that Arizona Republicans are finally maturing, but things are certainly looking up. And if the worst-of-the-worst politicians can be held accountable in Arizona, maybe just maybe there's hope for the rest of the nation.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Lessons about telling the truth come early. They rarely include warnings about the consequences.

A particularly memorable lesson found me when I was about 8 or 9. I was in the car with my mom, on the way to the grocery store. The road we were on was semi-rural but unexpectedly snarled with traffic. A long, long line of cars, with no visible end, barely moved in the summer heat. Suddenly, a motorcycle cop wheeled up to my mother's open window and told her to stop crowding the car in front of her. No ticket. Just a warning.

That was my first encounter with a policeman—especially one on a motorcycle—so at the dinner table that night, I described it to my dad. His reaction was forgettable; my mother's wasn't. When I carried my dirty plate into the kitchen, my mother was instantly behind me. "I don't like you any more," she hissed into my ear.

In the grand scheme of things, my mother's words weren't the most earth-shattering of consequences. But to an 8-year-old, the threat was overwhelming. So, the lesson was duly noted. Truthtellers, no matter how innocent, risk hatred, even by those who are supposed to love them. Of course, my mother's behavior was immature—something I can see with years of distance—but so are many reactions to truth that are registered in the larger world.

The dangers of truthtelling have been brought home to me, forcefully, by the tragedy in Gaza. For years, we have been warned by outspoken, prominent Jews that the Israeli narrative about Palestine was not the truth—men like scholars Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, historian Ilan Pappé and journalist Max Blumenthal. They have had the courage to tell the world that Israeli policies amount to a colossal grab of Palestinian land as well as a cleansing of its Arabic inhabitants and that Palestinians have a right to self defense and resistance to occupation (go to the links for details). For their efforts, they have been branded liars, traitors and 'self-hating Jews'. Norman Finkelstein's warnings cost him his job. Ilan Pappé's writings earned him death threats that forced him to move from Israel.

Vindication has come with the rise of social media. The world can see for itself that there is a powerful disconnect between the official Israeli line and what is actually happening on the ground. Non-Jewish voices are also telling the tale, such as journalist and commentator Chris Hedges and others bravely giving eye-witness accounts of Gaza's traumas. Their tales are the same as the earlier warnings, but with visual evidence to back them up. The attacks on Gaza, including the latest, are not about the self-defense of Israel. They are a human rights violation of massive proportions.

I am astonished at the courage of those reporting. The vitriol that is hurled toward them could make lesser beings buckle—has made lesser beings buckle, especially among heads of state. The truthtellers are accused of being allies of Hamas and of being in league with terrorists—even though Rabbi Henry Siegman, a German-Jewish refugee and former head of the American Jewish Congress, says about the situation:
The difference between Hamas and Israel is that Israel is actually implementing [a destruction policy] — actually preventing a Palestinian state which doesn’t exist. Millions of Palestinians live in this subservient position without rights, without security, without hope, and without a future ...
If you don’t want to kill Palestinians, if that’s what pains you so much, you don’t have to kill them. You can give them their rights, and you can end the occupation. And to put the blame for the occupation and for the killing of innocents that we are seeing in Gaza now on the Palestinians — why? Because they want a state of their own? They want what Jews wanted and achieved? This is a great moral insult.
The human striving for peace and contentment is sometimes paid for by ignoring other people's pain. After all, there is comfort in embracing the familiar, in not looking at other perspectives. How many times have we seen this willful ignorance in America? To name a few of our own historical crises: the civil rights struggle, the fight for equal rights for women (still not achieved), the labor movement.

All of the above resulted in the death, imprisonment, and vilification of the courageous truthtellers who dared to confront injustice. All of the above were preceded by a self-satisfied contentment on the part of those who chose to tell the biggest lie of all—the lie to the self that says everything is all right with my world and my perceptions, no matter who else is suffering or how much.

We all strive for peace, especially internally—at least, if we're sane. To look at the truth, and especially to tell it, brings discomfort, at a minimum, and sometimes much more. It brings others whispering in our ears that they don't like us or shouting from the rooftops that we are traitors. They neglect to mention that the treason is to their own perceptions or their own secrets or their own lies.

But peace never grows out of lies. The journey to peace begins in one place only—in the telling of the truth, regardless of the consequences.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Sure, Climate Change, Take My Burgers—But Can't You Leave My Bacon?

There's no easy way to say this, but I would have to be dragged into being a vegan, kicking and screaming. Unfortunately, it looks like that's exactly what the Universe has in mind for me.

In 2006, the word from researchers was that 18% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions came from the impact of animal agriculture. But now, just eight years later, the estimate is that 51% of GHG emissions comes from raising animals. That would include those raised for meat as well as those raised for what they produce, like eggs and dairy products. Figuring in all the resources that support the industry, including tons of water and land for grazing the animals, plus water and land to raise their feed, the problem starts to become obvious even to someone like me. The world's demand for meat and animal products is rapidly outstripping earth's ability to sustain their production.

I have been perfectly happy in my bubble of denial until it was burst by the documentary 'Cowspiracy', currently being unveiled across the western U.S. by its makers. According to the film, major conservation organizations don't want to talk about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. That's the side I would have like to be on, too. If the Sierra Club doesn't want to talk about the impact of animal agriculture, why should I? But by watching the film, I quickly confronted the enemy and discovered it was me.

Two main obstacles stand in the way of change for our population to adopt a more plant-based diet. One is the industry itself, and its lobbyists, who frown on any talk of reducing meat consumption. In Brazil, they go so far as to kill environmental activists who raise objections to the industry—an average of one a week since 2002. 

The other blockage is me, the consumer. Too many Americans don't want to change their destructive meat-eating habits. It's not just Americans. The rest of the world is quickly gaining a meat-eating appetite that could easily exceed our own. As a matter of fact, I'd like to point out that China is already more at fault than I am. China's demand for meat has increased astronomically since 1980, especially its demand for pork. I don't eat pork. Well, I hardly eat pork. Except for bacon.

I have to say that my first reaction to the documentary was to go home and snarf down a whole bunch of cheese. The next morning, I had a craving for bacon and eggs. After all, what if bacon and eggs were to disappear forever?

But I was simultaneously haunted by the information that was presented in the film, and the image of other things that could disappear forever. Rain forests are being sacrificed to the animal agriculture industry, for grazing land and for raising feed, at an unbelievable rate6000 acres (the equivalent of 4000 football fields) an hour. These forests are vital for helping clean the air of greenhouse gases, to say nothing of providing a habitat for countless other animal species and rare plant life. But not one more acre would have to disappear if we collectively came to our senses. The population of the whole world could be fed a plant-based diet with the land that is currently used to raise feed for the animal agriculture industry.

All of this information has brought me to the point where I can acknowledge I have to make changes. But I'm in the bargaining phase now. I'm not that crazy about beef. What if I give up beef? Can I keep bacon? When it comes right down to the bottom line, I'm most anxious to preserve my access to eggs, cheese, and milk. What if I just kept those?

At least a partial answer was provided by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, environmental specialists employed by the World Bank Group. They are among those who assert that 51% of GHG emissions are produced by animal agriculture and have warned that the window for reversing climate change is rapidly closing. Goodland recently wrote
We say that the only pragmatic way to do so [reverse climate change] is to replace at least 25% of todays livestock products with better alternatives this would both eliminate much more than 4% of agricultural emissions, and allow reforestation and forest regeneration on vast amounts of land, which could then absorb enough atmospheric carbon to reduce it to a safe level. 

Twenty-five percent? I can do that. I can wrestle myself into much more than that. If I can, anyone can. Because if the window of opportunity slams shut, the consequences are too horrible to contemplate.

[This article originally appeared in elephant journal.]