Monday, April 30, 2007

The time is now.

If there were ever a good time for the Green Party, that time is now. Let me offer you two pieces of evidence.

To begin with, the two major parties in the US are decidedly out of step with great segments of the population. The Republican Party, especially here in California is going through a period of high level defections that are taking prominent place in the newspapers. I have commented before, both here and on the Green California Forum, about the fact that Pete McCloskey has re-registered as a Democrat after a family tradition of Republican activism that goes back to the time before Abraham Lincoln was president. That was first announced by Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times, but soon picked up and run nationally.

The most recent defection was that of Steven Greenhut, political columnist for the Orange County Register. While not the national name that McCloskey is, Greenhut is very influential in a very Republican voting county. His defection is one more sign of the (im)moral dilemma facing the Republican party. He announced his defection in Sunday's column (04/29/07). Like McCloskey, Greenhut finds that the current Republican Party has wandered far away from its traditional fundamental values.

Our government is based on the radical idea that government should be limited to a handful of tasks, most of which revolve around protecting our natural rights. These are negative rights. They implore the government to leave us alone to pursue our own dreams and desires. Positive rights demand a positive response. If I have a "right" to education, then you must be forced to pay for it or provide it for me.

Traditionally, Republicans believed in negative rights. Yet Brooks thinks that's a mistake. He writes that the GOP needs to be "oriented less toward negative liberty (How can I get the government off my back?) and more toward positive liberty (Can I choose how to lead my life?)."

With the Republicans having such troubles, you would expect that the Demcorats are having a field day. You might believe that for all the rah-rah cheer leading over on dailyKos. However, when you get away from the activists, the general public has a different opinion.

I can thank GPCA Press Sec. Cres Vellucci for alerting me to the fact that the general public does not view the Democratic Congress as being much better. According to an NBC-News / Wall Street Journal poll conducted last week, a majority of Americans think that the Democratic Congress has not brought much change.

The Republicans are suffering from the moral crisis of the century and the Democrats are "not much change." Greens should be on the offense. We should challenging the both parties at every opportunity. This is not a time for too much introspection but rather a time when we should be aggressively pushing our values. The major parties have shown that their only value is power. Let's get off our collective butts and take this fight to the public.

A Delta Bill: Historic or Forgotten Moment

Among all of the stake holders that are trying to influence the State of California's plans for the Sacramento - San Joaquin River Delta, perhaps the most articulate is Dan Bacher, editor of the Fish Sniffer, a magazine aimed specifically at those who fish. Bacher is also one of the leading progressive voices in the Sacramento area.

In the most recent issue of the Fish Sniffer, Bacher points out a lot about what is wrong with the manner in which we make decisions about the future of the Delta, and through that process, about the future of California. The focus is specifically on SB 27, a bill introduced by State Sen. Joe Simitian (D. Palo Alto) as a vehicle for sorting out what should be done. Simitian talked to the Fish Sniffer.
“The Delta is going to hell in a hand basket,” said Simitian. “A precious resource is at risk. Twenty-three million Californians are understandably concerned about the security and quality of their water. And Northern Californians continue to worry about how much of 'their water,' as they think of it, will be shipped to other parts of the state.”
This bill would force the Department of Water Resources to pick one of 5 scenarios for the future of the Delta as specified in the special report from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). However, in both the PPIC Study and the current Schwarzenegger backed Delta Vision Process, there are multiple constituencies without a voice. Bacher reports from the first hearing.
Gary Adams, president of the California Striped Bass Association, was concerned that the people most impacted by the Delta food chain crash - recreational anglers and Delta residents - would not be listened to in the process for the implementation of this bill, just as they have been marginalized in the Governor's controversial “Delta Vision” process.
On May 2, Restore the Delta will be holding a "Health Delta Communities" event. This is an effort to make all of us aware of just what is at stake. This event has received funding in the name of the Green Party of California. I would hope that we all pay attention to it. Bacher is just one of the panel of experts who will participate in this event.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Shift happens

I recently ran across the subject video on a site knows as It is worth watching, at least for a while. It does not take long to get the point.

What that video tells us is that the future is not going to be predicted. I did not say that is was not predictable, but that we won't really get it except in hind sight. That is rather like looking back at 9/11/2001 and asking why "they" did not connect all the dots.

The current discussions withing the Green Party California are all about what is wrong with the way that the party is being administered. I would like to shift the discussion to what is right with the party now. I am sure that there are a number of things that we are doing right.

  • We were the first party to stand up for the impeachment of the current Chief Executive.
  • We have never expressed support for the war in Iraq.
  • We are beginning to gain seat at increasingly high levels of government and to retain many of the seats that we held in smaller communities. e.g. Richmond in addition to Sebastopol.
  • Green Party Members are leading the fight against GMO's all over the state.
I invite others to add to this list.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Earth Day Appearances

I will have to take it back, the Green Party did get some Earth Day attention from the media, specifically the San Francisco Chronicle, where it was possible to see a very strong presence.

However, this was the work of an empowered local, and not at all indicative of the attention that the GPCA Steering Committee or the National Committee pay to this most important issue.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day

This being Earth Day, I think that it is appropriate to make a few, pointed comments.

The first Earth Day (1970) had two Co-Chairs. Demorcatic Senator Gaylord Nelson (WI) and Republican Congressman Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey (CA). There was, at that time, a national consensus that the environment was important and that the public could influence our politicians to do something about it. Note, the both major parties and both houses of Congress were involved in the leadership.

While Sen. Nelson died in 2005, Pete McCloskey is still with us and continues the fight that they started then. On Friday, April 20, McCloskey was honored by the dedication of a ~100 acre McCloskey Preserve in San Mateo County. This is a dedication of private lands to be set aside in perpetuity.

At the dedication, McCloskey remarked that "the key to preserving the planet may rest in the nation's youth.

I think that this should be a goal of the Green Party CA. We should be using environmental activism to reach out to young people, as McCloskey advises, and making sure that they are able to continue living in the world that we have enjoyed for all of our years. We should be setting up the equivalent of a Youth Ministry, except the goal is not the salvation of the soul but the salvation of this country.

Meanwhile, the old soldier in McCloskey demands that he continue the fight, as as such his law firm has joined the qui tam law suit against Maxxam Corporartion and it's owner, Charles Hurwitz, over the logging of the Headwaters Forest in N. California.

In the meantime, the national Green Party did not even produce a press release regarding Earth Day (though they did acknowledge the Step it Up campaign.) And I could not get any response to my question on this subject from Starlene Ranking, a National Media Committee CoCo. It would seem that the consciousness of environmental issues is there, but not the sense of urgency that our current situation requires.

I am looking out my home office window. The sun has just come out after a night of showers. A row of rosemary has provided feed to some white crowned sparrows and a flock of bush tits. A pair of spotted towhees are grubbing underneath the shrubs. It feels like all is right with the world, but I know it isn't.

  • The GPCA Environment Email list has dwindled to having only 5 people and only a few are active.
  • The national EcoAction Committee is floundering to the point where the last conference all only had 5 people and spent most of it's time discussing whether the committee should continue and, if it did, what it should be doing.
  • The Steering Committee for the GPCA can not even agree on an Agenda for our next General Assembly and those proposals which would have dealt with substantive issues are not even being considered.
We are floundering for lack of leadership. Most people now consider the Democrats as being the "green party". We have lost our identity and need to return to the ideals on which this party was founded.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

New Apportionment

There are new rules for the apportioning of seats on the Green Party of the United States National Committee. This will give California significantly more seats on the Natioinal Committee (now 11 National Delegates.

There is an anti-corporate attitude among many Greens, but there is one practice of good corporations that we should adopt. Even as a first level manager in a major corporation (IBM) I understood that one of my responsibilities was to identify and develop my own replacement. The health of the company depended on our ability to continue to provide good new managers to replace those who retired, opted out or left the company for one reason or another.

I do not see that happening at all within the workings of the GPCA. With very few exceptions, there is no sense of anyone taking those specific steps to improve our level of performance.

The exceptions that I would want to note are: (1) Shane Que Hee whose work on the Platform Committee always appears to have an educational element to it, helping people understand what it takes to get the current task completed; and (2) the work of the Campaign and Candidates Working Group with Warner Bloomberg. CCWG has, of necessity, a responsibility to provide guidance and training for candidates and their campaign staffs.

I think that we should be cautious about any one person serving in too many roles concurrently. If a person were to be on a county council, hold a state level CoCo position and also be a National Delegate, it is likely that they will not be able to perform equally well at all tasks.

I would like to hear all new members (to be selected at the next plenary) to respond to the question of how their selection will affect their ability to continue their current tasks within the GPCA.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Room for a 3rd party?

Don Boring sent out a note regarding media bias and that sent me to the Zogby International web site to look for more information on their poll. I never did get to it, because I saw this one first. Room For Three? This poll has some very interesting facts (if any political poll deals with facts) that should make Green Party Candidates pay attention. Maybe it is even more important as we consider a candidate for President.
It’s a question I get everywhere—whenever I do speeches, make an appearance or do an interview: What are the chances of a new third party? One of my pat responses is that there’s always a centrist political party waiting to be formed. Generally, there’s a group of unaffiliated voters concerned that both political parties may go too far to the fringes. These are people who voted for Ross Perot and find the “maverick” John McCain appealing.
This perception triggered Zogby to do a poll in mid February and the results rather contradict the conventional wisdom that Zogby handed out above. As a result of this poll, he concluded that "The likely third-party voter has shifted to the far right."

Overall, he also found that most Democrats were pleased with the choices they have for President. Of course, the kos inspired bloggers are not interested in Clinton or Biden, but they seem to love Edwards and Obama. Many Republicans are not satisfied with their choices. While Giuliani seems to be in control there is a long time to go and slip ups will happen.

What does this mean for Green? It is hard to say. I don't think that positioning the part to the left of the Democrats is going to win many votes. In fact, it may be a way to lose rather than gain.

A Green Candidate, in order to take advantage of this opportunity would have to offer concrete solutions to this (city, county, state, nation)'s problems. That means understanding a few key issues (health care, Iraq, global warming, energy) and being able to sell everyone that you have better solutions than anyone. That, is a hard task, especially for a presidential candidate.

Zogby started his discussion about a new political party in the center. There seems to be no getting around the fact that political pundits line everyone up in a two dimensional space. It makes it hard for Greens to pay any attention to those key value: decentralization, community based economics, personal and global responsibility where we may have more appeal to traditional Republicans than most Greens want to admit.

I have yet to see any Green Party candidate for national office who could address these issues in a meaningful manner. Every one who is even close is someone that enthusiastic Greens just hope would switch from the Democrats (Gore, Kucinich, McKinney) to the Greens. It isn't likely.

Tax Day Potpourri

Having taken care of my tax obligations, sent of an invoice for some additional work that I have done and cleaned up part of the garage, I have a little time to post a potpourri of items that I think are worth a comment.

I ran across a new (to me) blog called Healing Iraq. The owner is an Iraqi dentist. The images are not pleasant to see, but should be.

I have joined another new blog, Ditch Crazy Dana, which is trying to do to Rohrabacher (CA-46) what we did to Pombo. It is still in it's infancy, but there are a few interesting posts.

That fact tells me that we Greens need to pay attention to the manner in which we can affect specific districts. This is one where all of the pundits are saying the same things that they said about Pombo's 11th district in 2006. But Pombo and Rohrabacher have a lot in common besides being in "safe Republican districts." They both have been ineffectual as legislators. They both have made a career out of being a character. They both are out of step with common sense on environmental questions. Does that mean that Rohrabacher can be beaten?

At the present time, the most popular progressive candidate, Debbie Cook (I think a Dem.) is saying that she is not interested. Might Tom Lash run again?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pete McCloskey - environmental hero - changes parties

After receiving this as a bcc in an email from Pete McCloskey, I hesitated to say anything, as he said ":I doubt it will be of much interest other than to our friends... " However, since it now in Lisa Vorderbruegen's politics blog at the Contra Costa Times, I will make it public.

This sudden decision and short time between decision and action is very typical of McCloskey. It has been part of his style for as long as he has had one. It was even typical that a Thanksgiving Day Dinner turned into a time for his wife to entertain while McCloskey penned a letter to Nixon regarding the mistakes in Vietnam.

I only wish that I had foreseen this and could have at least made the suggestion that he would be very welcome in the Green Party.

April 16, 2007
McCloskey leaves Republican Party

Lifelong Republican, Marine veteran and former congressman Pete McCloskey has left the GOP and registered with the Democratic Party.

McCloskey says he is disgusted with the "succession of ethical scandals, congressmen taking bribes and abuse of power by both the Republican House leadership and the highest appointees of the White House."

"A pox on (Republicans) and their values," he wrote.

As a Republican, McCloskey served in the House of Representatives from a San Mateo County congressional district from 1967- to 1983. He was a brief presidential hopeful when he ran on an anti-war platform against Richard Nixon in 1972.

But McCloskey again found himself in the media spotlight last year when he left his rural Northern California farm in Rumsey, rented a house in Lodi and ran in the primary against Richard Pombo, a conservative, seven-term Republican incumbent who later lost the general election to the novice Pleasanton Democrat Jerry McNerney.

McCloskey may lost the primary but observers say he provided a pivotal voice in the growing, anti-Pombo chorus that eventually led to the incumbent's defeat.

His party shift will be no surprise to the Republicans who backed Pombo. They called McCloskey a shill for the Democratic Party before he even filed for the office.

Months before McCloskey entered, he helped formed a group called the "Revolt of the Elders," which made no secret of its search for viable Republicans willing to run against Pombo. When they couldn't find someone, McCloskey filed himself.

Here's what McCloskey wrote in an e-mail announcement about his decision.

McCloskeys have been Republicans in California since 1859, the year before Lincoln's election. My great grandfather, John Henry McCloskey, orphaned in the great Irish potato famine of 1843, came to California in 1853 as a boy of 16, and joined the party just before the Civil War.

By 1890 he and my grandfather, both farmers, made up two of the twelve members of the Republican Central Committee of Merced County. My father's most memorable expletive came when I was a boy of 10 or 11: "That damn Roosevelt is trying to pack the Supreme Court!"

I registered Republican in 1948 after reaching the age of 21. We were the party of civil rights, of free choice for women and fiscal responsibility. Since Teddy Roosevelt, we had favored environmental protection, and most of all we stood for fiscal responsibility, honesty, ethics and limited government intrusion into our personal lives and choices. We accepted that one the duties of wealth was to pay a higher rate of income tax, and that the estates of the wealthy should contribute to the national treasury in reasonable measure.

I was proud to serve with Republicans like Gerry Ford, the first George Bush and Bob Dole.

In 1994, however, Newt Gingrich brought a new kind of Republicanism to power, and the election of George W. Bush in 2000 has led to wholly new concept of governance. The bureaucracy has mushroomed in size and power. The budget deficits have become astronomical. Our historical separation of church and state has been blurred. We have seen a succession of ethical scandals, congressmen taking bribes, and abuse of power by both the Republican House leadership and the highest appointees of the White House.

The single cardinal principle of political science, that power corrupts, has come to apply not only to Republican leaders like Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney and John Doolittle, but to a succession of White House officials and appointees. The stench of Jack Abramoff has permeated much of the Washington Republican establishment.

The Justice Department, guardian of of our rule of law, has been compromised. It's third ranking official, a graduate of Pat Robertson's dubious law school, has taken the 5th Amendment.

Men who have never felt the fear of combat, and who largely dodged military service in their youth, have led us into grievous wars in far off places with no thought of the diplomacy, grace and respect for other peoples and their cultures which has been an American trademark for at least the last two thirds of a century. We have lost the respect and affection of most of the world outside our borders. My son, Peter, one of the U.S. prosecutors at The Hague of the war crimes in Serbia and elsewhere, tells me that people of other countries no longer look at the country which countenances torture as a beacon for the world and the rule of law.

Earth Day, that bi-partisan concept of Gaylord Nelson in 1970, has become the focus of almost hatred by today's Republican leadership. Many still argue that global warming is a hoax, and that Bush has been right to demean and suppress the arguments of scientists at the E.P.A., Fish & Wildlife and U.S.Geological Survey.

I say a pox on them and their values.

Until the past few weeks, I had hoped that the party could right itself, returning to the values of the Eisenhowers, Fords and George H. W. Bush.

What finally turned me to despair, however, was listening to the reports, or watching on C-Span, a whole series of congressional oversight hearings on C-Span, held by old friends and colleagues like Pat Leahy, Henry Waxman, Norm Dicks, Nick Rahall, Danny Akaka and others, trying to learn the truth on the misdeeds and incompetence of the Bush Administration. Time after time I saw Republican Members of the House and Senate. speak out in scorn or derision about these exercises of Congress oversight responsibility being "witch-hunts" or partisan attempts to distort the actions of people like the head of the General Service Administration and the top political appointees in the Justice and Interior Departments. Disagreement turned into disgust.

I finally concluded that it was a fraud for me to remain a member of this modern Republican Party, that there were only a few like Chuck Hegel, Jack Warner, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins I could respect.

Two of the best, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Jim Leach of Iowa, after years of battling for balance and sanity, were defeated last November, and it seems that every Republican presidential candidate is now vying for the support of the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells rather than talking about a return to the values of the party I joined nearly 59 years ago. My favorite spokesmen have beome Senators Jim Webb and Barack Obama.

And so it was, that while at the Woodland courthouse the other day, passing by the registrar's office, I filled out the form to re-register as a Democrat.

The issues Helen (McCloskey) and I care about most, public financing of elections, a reliable paper ballot trail, independent re-districting to replace gerrymandering, the right of a woman to choose not to bring a child into the world, a reversal of the old Proposition 13 and term limits which have so hurt California's once superb education system and the competence of our Legislature, are now almost universally opposed by California's elected Republicans, and the occasional attempts at reform by our Governor are looked on with grim disdain by most of them.

From Helen's and my standpoint, being farmers in Yolo County gives us the opportunity to work for purposes which were once Republican, but can no longer be found at Republican conventions and discussions.

I hope this answers your questions about the party and a government I have served in either civil or military service under ten presidents, five Republican and five Democrat ... I doubt it will be of much interest other than to our friends, but it has been a decision not easily taken.

Respectfully, Pete McCloskey,

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Restore the Delta

If you have read my posts before, you would know that I consider the status of the Sacramento - San Joaquin River Delta to be one of the most important issues for the future of California. Even the Public Policy Institute of California has spent a lot of effort Envisioning Futures for the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta.

The non-profit Restore the Delta has announced a public event educate everyone regarding Healthy Delta Communities. After some discussion with Restore the Delta, I have come to an agreement that would allow the Green Party of California to be a co-sponsor of this event (details at the bottom of this post).

I see it accomplishing several important things.
  • The goal of having a wide range of health delta communities, human or ecological, is a Green Goal.
  • It will re-establish the Green Party as a voice in the environmental community.
  • It will help to revitalize the Green Party in San Joaquin County, if we do this right.

I am looking for two things. To begin with, I have given my personal guarante of a contribution of $500 to this cause on behalf of the Green Party of California. I would like others to contribute toward this by sending a donation to Friends of the River (temporarily handling the accounting for Restore the Delta). Any contribution is fully tax deductible. You can do so online. Make sure to fill in "For Restore the Delta Healthy Communities" in the comments section of the form.

I am also looking for some volunteers from the Stockton / Lodi area who can help with meeting day logistics, set up, etc. I will post a contact for that as soon as I get one.

On May 2, 2007, Restore the Delta will be hosting an event open to the Delta community entitled “Healthy Delta Communities.” This event, unlike those sponsored by government agencies, will be held from 6-9 p.m. so that working Delta locals can participate. It will be held at Elkhorn School, 10505 N. Davis Road, Stockton.

The evening’s program will feature:

  • An update from Restore the Delta to community members on our efforts over the last six months;
  • A fascinating Google Map presentation by Dr. Bob Twiss, Professor Emeritus UC Berkeley, on the status and threats to the Delta;
  • A panel discussion on threats to the Delta, featuring Restore the Delta Board Members and Advisors Mick Canevari, Dan Bacher, Barry Nelson, Andrea Treece, and Bill Jennings;
  • A panel discussion on solutions to managing the Delta featuring Restore the Delta Advisors Tom Zuckerman, Dante Nomellini, Barry Nelson, and Mindy McIntyre;
  • Roll out for developing a Healthy Delta Communities Plan and other community
    participation opportunities.

This event is free and open to the public; however, we ask that you RSVP to Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla ( so that we have a guess at how many will be attending. Please tell your friends and neighbors about “Healthy Delta Communities.”

Monday, April 09, 2007

Why is there a Green Party?

I joined the Green Party because I believed that there is a fundamental difference between the Greens and other parties in the manner by which we addresses the problems of society today. There was a set of key values around which we could frame our discussion of those problems and which would guide the search for solutions.

The current state of the Agenda for our next General Assembly indicates that we have diverged a long way from that vision of the Green Party. There is not a single proposal from the Platform Committee that made it on to the agenda. Even those items which appear to be issues are being driven not by the working groups or by any caucus, but rather from the CC itself, placed on the agenda without proper examination from the grassroots of this party. I am suggesting that items such as the "Endorsement of Unity Blueprint For Immigration Reform", placed on the consent calendar should be given publicity and a chance for discussion before being placed on the agenda. I would hazard a guess that very few of the members of this party have heard about it let alone read it. It was not even mentioned during the KQED special report re: immigration this past week.
SIDEBAR:The KQED program is worth listening to. Most of the panel discussing the issue comes from those associated with ethnic media, such as Pacific News Service.
We need to solve the internal problems of the GPCA. The question is whether we can do that and still maintain the reason that we exist.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

One ray of hope

While my previous post takes aim at the GPCA as an organization, I do need to call attention to the efforts of individual Greens or Green Party locals in various parts of the state. For example, there is the Green Cooling event in Arcata.
To that end, I invite you to join me at the Global Cooling Weekend this weekend. It will be held at the HSU Natural History Museum located at 1315 G Street in Arcata. A very broad coalition is presenting a two-part event focused on global warming, its effects, and what people can do to help turn the trend around. It is absolutely free, and everyone is invited to attend.
I received that notice from David Cobb as part of his most recent column from the Times-Standard.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Environmental Racism

One of the biggest "Big Lies" in American politics today is the oft-expressed view that "Green issues" in general only matter to eccentric upper-middle-class Euro-Americans and the Green Party in particular is irrelevant to communities of color.

Black Agenda Report, a progressive African-American web site, has an article posted this week about a new study:

Wasted People: Environmental Racism, a 20-Year Saga

by Dr, Robert D. Bullard
April 4, 2007

Back in 1987, the environmental racism movement won its first significant victory. Twenty years later, a cadre of Black and progressive scientists are calibrating the methodical harm that has been done to Black communities by a society that treats people of color as wasted human flesh. The Bush administration has done everything in its power to silence this growing environmental-racism resistance, cutting off funding to programs that could uncover crimes against whole communities perched on the cusp of disaster - chemical death.

. . .

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the United Church of Christ
landmark 1987 Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States report.
As part of the celebration, the UCC commissioned a new study,
Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty, 1987-2007

Grassroots Struggles to Dismantle Environmental Racism

. . .

Study Findings

  • People of color make up the majority (56%) of those living in neighborhoods within 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of the nation's
    commercial hazardous waste facilities, nearly double the percentage in areas beyond 3 kilometers (30%).

  • People of color make up a much larger (over two-thirds) majority (69%) in neighborhoods with clustered facilities.

  • Percentages of African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Asians/Pacific Islanders in host neighborhoods are
    1.7, 2.3, and 1.8 times greater in host neighborhoods than non-host areas (20% vs. 12%, 27% vs. 12%, and 6.7% vs. 3.6%), respectively.

  • 9 out of 10 EPA regions have racial disparities in the location of hazardous waste sites.

  • Forty of 44 states (90%) with hazardous waste facilities have disproportionately high percentages of people of color in
    host neighborhoods- on average about two times greater than the percentages in non-host areas (44% vs. 23%).

  • Host neighborhoods in an overwhelming majority of the 44 states with hazardous waste sites have disproportionately
    high percentages of Hispanics (35 states), African Americans (38 states), and Asians/Pacific Islanders (27 states).

  • Host neighborhoods of 105 of 149 metropolitan areas with hazardous waste sites (70%) have disproportionately
    high percentages of people of color, and 46 of these metro areas (31%) have majority people of color host neighborhoods.

The only weakness of the article is that it attempts to pin all the blame for the lack of progress on President Bush and the Republicans.

In point of fact, the retreat on environmental racism began during the Democratic administration of William Jefferson Clinton. An article from 2000 in the Miami Herald described how the Clinton-Gore EPA changed the rules to make it harder to pursue legal action against environmental racism.

Clinton Administration Reneges On Commitment To Attack Environmental Racism

by Juleyka Lantigua
July 17, 2000

...But the EPA's guidelines released in late June stipulate that ``both the demographic disparity and the disparity in rates of impact (must be) at least a factor of two times higher in the affected population'' for the EPA's Office of Civil Rights to pursue civil-rights cases against companies.

Environmental racism already is hard to prove. Now it's going to be twice as hard. Ethnic minorities are 50 percent more likely than whites to live in communities with hazardous waste facilities, according to the National Black Environmental and Economic Justice Coordinating Committee, a lobbying organization that represents more than 100 minority neighborhoods in 30 states.

. . .

Blacks in West Oakland, Calif., are concerned by the high levels of vinyl chloride, a gas that has been linked to a rare form of liver cancer. Since the 1950s, the federal land nearby has been used by the military as a dumping ground for biological materials. Some longtime residents and community organizers worry that the rates of asthma, breast cancer and prostate cancer have increased dramatically among black residents.

Nearby Richmond, a black residential area, has the dubious honor of being No. 1 among Bay Area black communities in terms of its pollution level. According to government records obtained by activists, more than 350 industrial facilities handle hazardous materials in the area, and 210 hazardous chemicals are stored or released nearby.

Blogger's Footnote: After nearly another decade of Democratic Party cronyism and incompetence, the good people of Richamond, California elected Green Party candidate, Gayle McLaughlin Mayor of Richmond in 2006.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Climate Changing Now

There is some sense, even in "An Inconvenient Truth" that Global Warming may be happening, but that the problems will be off in the future some time and maybe we have a gut feel that technology will come up with the answers before the pain begins.

Two articles published by BBC this week tell us that global warming is now, not in the future, and that the signs can already be seen by the careful observer. It starts with a long term diary of fungi collection.
Fungus enthusiast Edward Gange amassed 52,000 sightings of mushroom and toadstools during walks around Salisbury over a 50-year period.

Analysis by his son Alan, published in the journal Science, shows some fungi have started to fruit twice a year.

It is among the first studies to show a biological impact of warming in autumn.
The second was a story on the fact that EU Environmental Ministers are pointing the finger directly at the US and the Bush administration's failure to do anything substantive regarding climate change. This, at a time when the US is the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the world.
European environment leaders have said the US and Australia must alter their stance on climate change, as talks opened in Brussels on a major report.
This week, all of the major media focused on the fact that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released it's report on the Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability of Climate Change. The news is what you would expect. The peoples who will suffer the most are the poorest nations of the world. But, that does not let the rich nations off the hook. Once again, the discussions went until the early hours of this morning before the wording was finally agreed to. Once again, the politicians were interfering with science in the name of trying to appear blameless.

The key finding is that Climate Change in happening now.
Observational evidence from all continents and most oceans shows that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases.
Our focus must shift from "is it going to happen" or "when will it affect us" to a concentration on the very fundamental question of how we are going to cope with the changes that have already begun.

In the middle of all of this, the Green Party has been a very quiet non-participant. For most Greens that I know are taking personal action against climate change but they have failed to make it the subject of political action.

Faced with the need to begin making fundamental changes in the way we shape policy, the Green Party is nearly silent. In a State where the governor get high praise for taking the wrong actions, just because he recognizes the problems and is trying to do something, the Green Party has failed to speak up and show his policies to be the fraud that they are.

The IPCC Report is very specific about what is going to affect us the most.
Recent climate changes and climate variations are beginning to have effects on many other natural and human systems. However, based on the published literature, the impacts have not yet become established trends. Examples include:
• Settlements in mountain regions are at enhanced risk to glacier lake outburst floods caused by melting glaciers. Governmental institutions in some places have begun to respond by building dams and drainage works. [1.3]
• In the Sahelian region of Africa, warmer and drier conditions have led to a reduced length of growing season with detrimental effects on crops. In southern Africa, longer dry seasons and more uncertain rainfall are prompting adaptation measures. [1.3]
• Sea-level rise and human development are together contributing to losses of coastal wetlands and mangroves and increasing damage from coastal flooding in many areas. [1.3]
We talk of sea level rise as a future problem when we can't even keep the levees we have in good repair. However, were the sea level to rise by 1 meter, large sections of the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta would be inundated. inundated.

What is the GPCA going to do and will we continue to deserve the name "Green"? I have my doubts given the deafening silence that greets most of the comments on this subject. I have my doubts in that the GPCA Environment email list has shrunk to 5 members, and only three of them have done anything. I have my doubts in that the Green Party of California has planned absolutely nothing for Earth Day.

For everyone who watched An Inconvenient Truth, are you really convinced that this is the biggest catastrophe? If so, why is this political party so silent on this key political issue?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Global Warming and the Bushies

I am going to copy an exchange from the Eco-Action Committee of the national Green Party.

Chris Dudley wrote:

The US Supreme Court just ruled that the EPA may regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
To me, settling this point is of great importance. It is too bad though that 4 justices were so tone deaf to congressional intent.



This is good news. At the same time, the pressure from abroad to "do something" is increasing. The following is from the BBC today.

European environment leaders have said the US and Australia must alter their stance on climate change, as talks opened in Brussels on a major report.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said a change of the US "negative attitude" to international climate treaties was "absolutely necessary".

My question... What is our Green Party doing about this most Green of issues?

The War in Iraq is needlessly killing thousand of people. We march; we write, we protest, with great energy and conviction. Even 60 Minutes last night featured Scott Pelley with another in his series of reports on Global Warming. Pelley ended the segment talking with Paul Mayewski, Director of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine.
Asked what that would mean for coastal areas around the world, Mayewski tells Pelley, “If sea level were to rise like that, that would be tremendous changes. Immense migrations.”

“It would be the largest catastrophe that the modern world would have experienced*,” he adds. (ephasis added).

That rise in sea level would play out over decades. Some of it may be inevitable. It turns out that many greenhouse gases last a long time in the atmosphere—there’s a lot up there already.
Why do we express moral outrage over one and not the other?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Democrats are leading us where?

The news today is just full of tidbits that are worth a comment or so.

To begin with:

It appears that the Democratic Primary is over. Clinton has raised $26 Million this quarter and has another $10 million from here Senate campaign. She bought out the Governor of the first state, Iowa. Vilsack dropped out and has now endorsed Clinton. Her goal seems to be to tap out all of the Democratic funding sources and leave nothing for anyone else.

Nancy Pelosi is in Israel, re-committing the US to unqualified support of Israel. After that, I wonder how much attention the Arab countries will give her on this visit. From Joshua Frank:
"There are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza," Pelosi said as she rallied AIPAC loyalists. "This is absolute nonsense. In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist."
Now, she goes forward, not as a spokesperson for the US, but visits Syria to lobby for Israel. Of course, Tom Lantos is along to ensure the AIPAC that she won't step out of line.

You might have expected all of this, but the quirky thing that got me was on that famous bastion of the progressive Democrats, dailyKos, where they are now featuring a Chevron Ad on their front page. If they are serious about global warming, maybe an ad for someone who is doing something about it, but Chevron????