Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The power of our ideals

Helen McCloskey, wife of one time Congressman Pete McCloskey, sent out a short, but very pertinent email this AM. I would like to pass it on because it is so appropriate in America today.

Fifty years ago, George Kennan, one of the keenest strategists against the Communist threat, hastened to warn that "something may occur in our own minds and souls which will make us no longer like the persons by whose efforts this republic was founded and held together, but rather like representatives of that very power we are trying to combat: intolerant, secretive, suspicious, cruel, and terrified of internal dissension because we have lost our own belief in ourselves and in the power of our ideals."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Careless GMO use cost rice farmers big bucks

The following is from a blog entry by Carl Pope today.

For years the Sierra Club, biologists, and government analysts have warned that the rules regulating genetically modified crops were too weak, that the idea that these varieties could be as controlled in the field as they can in the laboratory was reckless in the extreme, and that genetic contamination was the almost certain outcome. Now, genetically modified rice, produced by Bayer CropScience, has contaminated America's rice crop, in spite of the fact that it has never been approved for human consumption! In response, Japan suspended imports of long-grained rice from the U.S. a week ago, and the European Union followed suit Wednesday. Yesterday, rice farmers in California, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas sued for loss of the export opportunities for the $1.81 billion rice crop.

While the industry in the US will swear that there is no harm to humans from consumption of this rice, there is a great deal of harm to the US rice industry.

This comes just when California State Senate is deciding on what to do with SB 1056. I can not think of any greater reason to let this bill die a quiet death.

This is not going to make the US media, consumed as it is with Jon Benet Ramsey. However, it did make it on to Reuters..
Call a Senator today and tell them to stop this bill. It is bad for American Agriculture, as well as our health.

Other links on this story:

Monday, August 28, 2006

SB 1056

I wrote before about the insidious nature of SB 1056. In some circles, it is called the "Monsanto Bill." Now, it has passed the Assembly and the hope is that we can stop it in the State Senate.

I had another good link for further information on SB 1056. It is at a site called Environmental Commons and makes the flat statement that "SB1056 is "stealing a fundamental right of our communities to protect our families' health and shape our own future."

I need to thank Jean Comfort for sending this and also for sending out an alert on SB 1056, contacting your State Senators and voice a strong opposition to the bill. I called mine today, Abel Maldonado (Rep. Dist 15), whom I really expect to be a strong supporter of the bill. I did make the point that I write for a local paper in his district and that this will come up in my writing.

Among all of the other things that we have to take a position on, I urge Greens to stand up for the right of local government to make their own decisions on how best to protect their citizens.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Things are not what they seem.

That admonition is especially true in the wild west world of California Initiatives. One only has to watch the advertisements for or against any given initiative to gain that understanding.

Probably the most insidious of the current set of Propositions is Prop. 90.
Bars state and local governments from condemning or damaging private property to promote other private projects, uses. Limits government’s authority to adopt certain land use, housing, consumer, environmental and workplace laws and regulations, except when necessary to preserve public health or safety. Voids unpublished eminent domain court decisions. Defines “just compensation.” Government must occupy condemned property or lease property for public use. Condemned private property must be offered for resale to prior owner or owner’s heir at current fair market value if government abandons condemnation’s objective. Exempts certain governmental actions. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Unknown, but potentially significant major future costs for state and local governments to pay damages and/or modify regulatory or other policies to conform to the measure’s provisions. Unknown, potentially major changes in governmental costs to acquire property for public purposes. (SA2005RF0146.)

This will probably be advertised as a method to end abuses of the eminent domain processes made famous in the Kelo v. New London case recently decided by the Supreme Court. That case expands the use of eminent domain to cover cases where the property will be given back to private enterprise and the only benefit to the local government would be additional tax revenue. The July 24, 2006 edition of High Country News reveals that this is just a cover for a well funded, major effort in which "property-rights advocated have exploited Kelo to advance a broader anti-government agenda."

California's Proposition 90 would have serious consequences for all environmental regulation, all restrictive zoning regulation, even on home owners associations who collectively may attempt to restrict the nature of development.

I urge everyone to read High Country News' feature article by Ray King. Taking Liberties does more than outline the scope of this Grover Norquist - Wise Use Movement effort. King provides insights from lengthy interview with one of the signature gatherers who considers himself a "proud libertarian." He also shows both sides of the ongoing discussion in Oregon, where Measure 37 was approved by the voters in 2004 and has resulted in a bonanza for land use lawyers and almost none of the promised benefits.

If you think that it is great for California that over 30,000 new homes have been built in the flood plain of the San Joaquin River since the last major flood (1997) and that the levee system has been labeled a disaster waiting to happen that could surpass Katrina's flooding of New Orleans in scope, this is what Proposition 90 would encourage. If, on the other hand, you think that government should restrict development in flood plains and ensure that the average tax payer is not saddled with the financial obligation to bail out this un-wise use of the land, then Greens all over the state should be strongly opposing Proposition 90.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

In this corner, Paul Krugman

The entire question "spoiler" or some other version of that is going to become even harder to deal with as the November general election approaches. The latest salvo in this battle was the OpEd in the August 4 NY Times by Paul Krugman. In typical NY Times fashion, you have to be a paying subscriber to read the following link. Entitled "Centrism is for suckers" it attacks the Sierra Club as being a "useful idiot" for their endorsement of long time environmental advocate Lincoln Chaffee (RI) for the senate.

This is one more call that says you can only be a Democrat or a Republican and that no other option is acceptible. Karl Rove would love this arrangement, because he is confident that the Republicans will win that battle in the long run. This is exactly what Grover Norquist (room mate and associate of Jack Abramoff) dreams about.

This is a case where issues mean absolutely nothing. Moral values mean nothing. It is only about naked power for it's own sake, Your are with us our you are against us.

It would be enough to make one throw up except that is takes away your appetite for much.

There are some who will not join the fray on Krugman's terms. Thankfully, the Sierra Club's Carl Pope is one of them. Pope has released two statements addressing the Krugman charge since yesterday. In one, he provides a reasoned defense of the Chaffee endorsement. In the second post, he addresses more generally the question of the parlimentary government (party vs. party) and specifially the role of the Senate in blocking such unwholsome partisanship.

There is an increasing call for a third party, a party of the center, grounded in principles rather than politics, but one that has the scope and size to have professional staffs rather than activist volunteers doing the work.

Could this be the Green Party. To the extent that Greens build themselves as the voice of an illdefined progressive left, then answer is "no." If successful, the Democrats, with all of their own addiction to big corporate money, become the Centrist Party . To the extent that Greens define themselves in terms of a solid committment to the full range of key values of this party, the answer is "maybe."

It is important to note that the original Progressive Party was founded by Republicans, T. Roosevelt, Robert LaFollette, etc. The third way is neither right nor left but Green. This is the time. There has not recently been a moment when the issue of the Green Party have been more important or more a part of the national debate than now. Now is the time for Greens everywhere, at all levels, to speak out with solid Green plans for accomplishing that which the corporate parties refuse to do.

We must not let the words of Paul Krugman define our reality for us. "We’re living in an age of one-letter politics, in which a politician’s partisan affiliation is almost always far more important than his or her personal beliefs."

Friday, August 04, 2006

PA Politics

We still judge things by east coast politics, don'g we. First the Democrats are looking so hard at the Lamont - Lieberman race in Connecticut. Now, Greens are arguing about Carl Romanelli's effort to run for the US Senate Seat held by Republican Rick Santorum.

The first sign that I see is the way that "progressive" Greens and Democrats on the blogosphere are vilifying Romanelli for accepting Republican money to finance a signature gathering drive. While the Republican motives may not be pure, that should not reflect on Romanelli.

There is nothing so farcial as the pompous self-righteousness of some progressives. It is on the same level as Pat Robertson using the 700 club to call for the assignation of Hugo Chavez, an act for which he later apologized to the public, if not to God.

The first lesson of mind control and mob psychology is to get the masses to think of everyone lese as somehow different. As long as you can consider them as "the other" and vilify them at will, then you are safely within the protective fold of your own self-righteousness. Take the example of Marcos Zuninga's vilivication of Carl Pope and the Sierry Club for endorsing Republican Lincoln Chaffee in Rhode Island. Chaffee, almost single handedly stopped the Richard Pombo led effort to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act. He has been a staunch supporter of environmental issue for his entire career. For the the Sierra Club to have turned their backs on Chaffee just because he was wearing a Red State Tie would have been an act of betrayal, putting party purity above issues and ethics. That is the first step toward the totalitarianism of the left, as opposed to the fascism being engineered now by Dick Cheney and the Republican House leadership.

Here is another question: Should Republican Pete McCloskey, have refused Democratic money in his primary race against Richard Pombo? As a Green, I worked my ass off for Pete, who (by the way) authored the original Endangered Species Act and was the Republican Coordinaotor for the very first Earth Day.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Influencing everything you can.

I am one who "volunteered" to be part of the non-rigorous ABC-7 (KGO-SF) polls. Today, they asked for questions we would want to have specific candidates answer in a debate. For the Secretary of State office, I said "Dr. Forrest Hill has a rational redistricting plan to improve democracy in California. Do you support his plan, and if not, explaing why?"

I don't expect anyone to actually ask that question, but maybe it will trigger a reporter to actually call Forrest and ask a question. If it does, I did my job.

Green Involvement in the GMO question

While there does not seem to be a lot of official action by the Green Party on GMOs, there is a lot that California Greens should be doing.

There is a non-profit group called Californians for GE-Free Agriculture. This is a coalition of many organizations who recognize the dangers inherent in releasing the genetic material from Monsanto and its cousins into our environment, which un-regulated GE use will surely do. Make yourself familiar with this group and pay close attention to the ACTION page.

The second is to find an support those who would highlight this issue and to defeat the proponents of un-regulated GMO use in Agriculture. This includes the following sponsors of California SB 1056.

Principle Authors: Assembley Members Matthews (AD 17, Tracy) and Maze (AD 34, Visalia)

Senators Cedillo (SD 22 - LA) and Denham (SD-12 Modet0)

Assembly Members Arambula (AD 31, Fresno), Calderon (AD 58, Montebello) , Canciamilla (AD 11, Martinez), Cogdill (AD 25m, Madera) , Garcia (AD 80, El Centro), La Malfa (AD 2, Redding), Negrete McLeod (AD 61, Ontario), Parra (AD 30, Bakersfield), Plescia (AD 75, San Escondido), Salinas (AD-238, Salinas) , Torrico (AD 20 Fremont), and Villines (AD 29, Fresno)

What strikes me as unusual about this is the number of Hispanic legislators from districtes without substantial agricultural interests, who have signed on as co-authors. I don't see any with an active Green opposition other than Maze, who is being challenged by David Silva this term.

Politics of Enforcement

Legislatures make laws. Executive branches of government should enforce them. That is, unless there is a political reason not to. That seems to be the case with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

The Center for Food Safety has filed a law suit charging the Food and Drug Administration for failing to carry out it's legally required duty of ensuring the safey of out nation's food supply. In a press release dated June 7, 2006 (I AM behind) they articulate the rationale for taking this path.
"For too long, the FDA has let biotech companies set the table for deregulation of GE food," said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director for the Center for Food Safety. "Over six years ago, we challenged the agency to come up with a scientific defense for their lax approach to GE foods. Their failure to respond demonstrates the lack of science behind their GE foods policy."
This should be a fundamental issue for Greens all over the country. It is given lip service, but does not carry with it the daily video images that challenge us regarding the War in Iraq, or even Immigration. Still, at the Ventura Plenary of the GPCA, GMO's made a list of other planks that may need revision. But it will not be considered this year and SG 1056 seems likely to pass before then unless given significant opposition.

I thank Erica Martenson (author of the previous GMO material posted here) for reminding me of the action from the Center for Food Safety.