Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nader not running as a Green

Well, I guess I had better learn to read all of the stories and not just a few of them. I read the report and stopped looking.
I have since see the evidence all over the place.

AP Story at
On Thursday, he said he would not be seeking the Green Party nomination, noting that the party has four announced candidates.

"We think that there is plenty of room in this country for parallel progressive candidates," he said.
Then noted that
Nader said he would not seek the Green Party’s nomination this year.
Then, USA Today ran the same AP story as
On Thursday, he said he would not be seeking the Green Party nomination, noting that the party has four announced candidates.

"We think that there is plenty of room in this country for parallel progressive candidates," he said.

It is going to be 2004 all over again.

Matt Gonzalez for VP?

Greens now have a real challenge. Ralph Nader has picked Matt Gonzalez to be his VP running mate. There are many who would like to see Ralph Nader as the nominee for the party. There are many others who are working just as hard to make that nominee be Cynthia McKinney. That battle is still being played out and many states have not made up their minds.

Having a recognized Green as a running mate might shut down the talk about whether Ralph truly wants the Green Party nomination, but I doubt it. Though you won't hear the words from McKinney's mouth, some of her supporters will surely play this off as just a political trick, just as Nader supporters rant on and on about McKinney's support of the Reconstruction Party in New Orleans and evidence of her trickery... even though McKinney is a registered to vote as a Green and Nader is not.

The biggest question about Nader has always been whether he is really running as a "Green" or if he is just trying to use the Green Party ballot access as an easy path toward expanding his coalition. Even in some states with an active Green Party, Nader appears to suggest using other methods to get on the ballot. The best example being up in Oregon. Nader's campaign site, links to this blogged story in the Eugene Oregon Register Guard which suggests that he will use the Independent Party of Oregon (IPO) for ballot access.

I am told that the IPO was started by Nader supporters and that it very well could be that he appears on the ballot in Oregon with both parties, assuming that he wins the GP nomination. However, calling attention to one party without mention of the other could (and probably will) be construed as a put down of the one ignored.

Having Gonzalez as a running mate does other good things for Ralph. He should be having a full backing from the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) If Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, that might pick up some votes for Nader. I don't have any solid demographic information as to how important that might be. At least, MAPA has been showing Nader's photo on it's home page for several months.

Since the convention is not until late July, and with a many states not yet having their primaries, the Nader / McKinney competition for this nomination, especially with Nader's primary win in delegate rich California, may begin to be as contested as Clinton / Obama.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It is not what you say...

The Nader campaign is describing their launch Sunday in glowing terms.

We had a great launch yesterday.

Ralph Nader appeared on Meet the Press with Tim Russert.

Major media outlets throughout the world ran headlines about Ralph’s historic challenge to the corporations that dominate our society.

And the names, the volunteers, the money started to flow.

Now, we’re starting to build a national organization to get Ralph on the ballot so that together we can challenge the corporate political parties in this momentous election year.

There are 2 ways to view this. The Nader Team put the best spin that the can on it However, I have a feeling that these comments by Tom Tomorrow at This Modern World are accurate.
Nader’s critique of corporate power and its corrosive effect on American democracy is spot-on. But if the point of these third-party runs is to inject that critique into mainstream discourse — well, we’re way past the point of diminishing returns, and actually deep into some sort of anti-matter universe, in which information is literally sucked out of people’s brains at the first mention of his name. In the way that Dan Rather’s report on George Bush going AWOL turned into a discussion about Dan Rather, the only debate another Nader candidacy is going to inspire is a debate about Nader himself, and I just don’t see the point.
It is clearly evident that the print media is not paying much attention to what he is saying and doing. I could have written most of their stories before the announcement, they only had to get the right quotes from his talk because they had already made up their minds what the "story" would be before it happened.

In fact, the words used by the Nader Team just underscore that the media assumption was the correct characterization.
Major media outlets throughout the world ran headlines about Ralph’s historic challenge to the corporations that dominate our society.
As long as this is the sole basis for his candidacy, then the prognostication of so-called pundits like ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who characterized the day of announcement as the high point of Nader's campaign, will become the reality.

Republican pollster Frank Luntz subtitled his most recent book. "It's not what you say, it's what people hear." This is not a message that the American Public will hear in this election cycle. A Green Party candidate, or an Independent candidate running with this as their primary message, will not do well. Nader seems to understand that. He opened his comments on Meet the Press with the Health Care issue, arguing for Single Payer. Not a word was heard. A different story had already been written in everyone's minds.

If Nader is going to be successful, he has to find a way change the dynamics of the debate. It is rather like Clinton trying to deal with Obama. If she just goes along, Obama can just move along. If she goes really negative, then it makes her look bad and it legitimizes his stature as front runner. The situation is out of her control because Obama is a phenomenon

The same is true in Nader's campaign. The situation is out of Nader's control, or at least has been so far.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Welcome to the fray, Ralph.

Since I was so direct about Nader's potential campaign before, I need to update that right now.

To begin with, anyone reading the print stories of Nader's announcement who did not watch him with Tim Russert on Meet the Press this morning would not understand what he really said.

I had been worried that his campaign would be based solely on hist long held antagonism toward the excesses of Corporate American and the corporate influence in Washington. His announcement was really focused on a broader range of issues, like Health Care and Waste in the Pentagon and that pretty much persuaded me that he was not going to repeat the 2000 campaign.

Unfortunately what I heard was not what got reported. Most media, print or television, picked only those words that fit the two themes that already defined Nader in their minds: anti-corporate and spoiler. That is what got written about. Donna Smith of Reuters put it this way.
Nader called Washington "corporate occupied territory" that turns the government against the interests of the people. "In that context, I have decided to run for president," he said.
Some will blame the media for their overt prejudice. I think it is just lazy journalism and writing the story before listening to the speech.

There is still a lot of concern about whether or not he is running as Green. Note: he said that he is running for President, not running for the Green Party nomination for president. However, those who have supported he candidacy to date, especially here in California where he won over 60% of the vote in the Feb. 5 primary, are putting out the word that he would run as a Green in states where the Green Party has ballot access and work to get on the ballot in others.

What he failed to say was what he would do if Cynthia McKinney were to win the nomination and she has a big advantage in early campaigning. Would he continue his quest knowing that they would split the Green Party vote? We will probably have to wait until after the national convention to know the answer to that one.

Let's throw a Mountain Party.

There is a time for thinking and a time for doing. Thankfully, Jesse Johnson and the Mountain Party of West Virginia have been doing. The following is a press release that came out this weekend to announce the fact that the courts of West Virginia have allowed the Mountain Party affiliation with the Green Party to stand and that the national Green Party Presidential Nominee will appear on the ballot in that state. I copied the entire release.
The Green Party of the United States is having a Mountain Party

Forwarded by the Green Party of the United States

West Virginia Mountain Party

For Immediate Release
22 February 2008

Contact: Joel Brown, 703 864 5199

West Virginia Law Upholds Green Party Ballot Line

"It's taken more than half a year to get where we are today, but the fight was worth it. No political party should be denied access to ballot lines based on arbitrary rulings of civil servants or elected officials," commented former West Virginia Mountain Party Chair Jesse Johnson.

Johnson who with Mountain Party Treasurer Frank Young led the fight for ballot status for the Green Party in their home state began the battle after the Mountain Party affiliated with the national organization.

"It's far too common all across this country that states deny access to bone fide candidates that run for lesser known political parties thereby stunting and in some cases effectively eliminating growth among those parties," continued Johnson. "It's often our toughest battle to secure and keep these ballot lines. Our candidates have much to contribute and our country has even more to gain by having viable choices to the current reigning parties and it's anti-democratic and unconstitutional to keep us off the ballot."

Because of the perseverance of Johnson and Young, West Virginia 2008 general election ballot will bear the name of whomever the national Green Party selects for their presidential and vice presidential nominees at their national convention this July in Chicago.

Since his victory in the ballot access issue, Mr. Johnson has resigned from his post as West Virginia Mountain Party chair and is free now to pursue his prior intention to run for president of the United States for the Green Party.

The Green Party's 2004 nominee for Vice President, Pat LaMarche commented on the addition of another ballot line to the Green Party's rapidly expanding slate of ballot access, saying, "We are so very grateful to Mr. Johnson for his vigorous loyalty to our party. We are extremely excited about his intention to run for president. If every candidate for every political party had the experience that Mr. Johnson has fighting for democracy; we would have better leaders who are far more respectful of the democratic process at every level of government."

BREAKING NEWS: Ralph Nader is In!

On Meet the Press this morning, Ralph Nader declared his candidacy.

If Ralph Nader is the nominee of the Green Party, I intend to support him 100% regardless of what slogans and hacks are being advertised and sold in million-dollar TV ads by the One-Corporate-Party-With-Two-Names.

Alex Walker
Los Angeles Greens

Ralph Nader On Meet the Press

Posted on America Online, February 24, 2008.
Ralph Nader Enters Presidential Race

WASHINGTON (Feb. 24) - Ralph Nader said Sunday he will run for president as a third-party candidate, criticizing the top White House contenders as too close to big business and pledging to repeat a bid that will "shift the power from the few to the many."

Nader, 73, said most people are disenchanted with the Democratic and Republican parties due to a prolonged Iraq war and a shaky economy. The consumer advocate also blamed tax and other corporate-friendly policies under the Bush administration that he said have left many lower- and middle-class people in debt.

"You take that framework of people feeling locked out, shut out, marginalized and disrespected," he said. "You go from Iraq, to Palestine to Israel, from Enron to Wall Street, from Katrina to the bumbling of the Bush administration, to the complicity of the Democrats in not stopping him on the war, stopping him on the tax cuts."

"In that context, I have decided to run for president," Nader told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Nader also criticized Republican candidate John McCain and Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton for failing to support full Medicare for all or cracking down on Pentagon waste and a "bloated military budget. He blamed that on corporate lobbyists and special interests, which he said dominate Washington, D.C., and pledged in his third-party campaign to accept donations only from individuals.

"The issue is do they have the moral courage, do they have the fortitude to stand up to corporate powers and get things done for the American people," Nader said. "We have to shift the power from the few to the many."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Institutionalize obstructionism

In my previous comment today, I mentioned that the American Public has little stomach for the institutionalized obstructionism as is commonly practiced in the Senate. When some fear that they would lose a vote, especially one that has major ideological implications, they turn to obstructionist tactics. In the Senate, the ultimate obstruction is the filibuster, which takes a 2/3 majority to force to an end.

With the Senate, it happens pretty much in public. In the House of Representative, it happens pretty much behind closed doors. The major event in the House is to introduce legislation that everyone know will not pass, have it assigned to a committee that will not consider it, and then allow the Congress Critter to brag to their district that they had been fighting the good fight. BS.

The GPCA is no different. The tool here are the strict rules that we have on quorums for any action. At present the State Coordinating Committee is frequently prevented from taking effective action by the simple act of hanging up on a teleconference and then claiming that any further discussion or decisions were not valid due to the lack of a quorum.

In 1995, Newt Gingrich was prepared to allow the government to run out of funds in order to win a fight with President Clinton. The tactic appealed to his Contract with American base, but backfired when he actually tried to do it. It lead to to Democratic election gains in 1996. The American People have no stomach for this, and neither should members of the GPCA.

I am not so naive as to think that anybody is above gaming the system that we have in place. Some do it more than others. Others will cry foul whenever it suits their tactical objective to do so.

Is this all a sign that the GPCA has finally arrived as a political party, that we can play the same political games as the big boys... or is it a sign that we have not grown up yet and are still acting like kindergarteners.

What about Obama?

Sam Smith had a recent Progressive Review column that was essentially speculation about an Obama Presidency. While I think that he was essentially correct to anticipate that the results will sound a bit hollow after all of the rhetoric of change.
We need a movement in which Obama is a key target, a healthy ally or a major opponent based not on warm and cuddly feelings but on the reality of his reaction to, and participation in, progressive change.

In short, the Obamania needs to die on Inauguration Day, replaced by a movement to end American imperialism, restore the Constitution, unravel the evils of neo-capitalism and instill some eco-sanity. It will be the strength of such a movement, and not the new president's virtues, that will largely determine whether he does the right thing and whether the right things happens.

If, on the other hand, we just wait for Obama, we will wake up one morning and the words on our lips will not be "Yes, we can" but "Why the hell didn't we?"
If you take the tone of Smith's talk of the "strength of such a movement" and translate that into the rhetoric of dailykos, you will understand exactly what I am talking about. As kossak kerplunk says about McCain...
The More Sleeze John McCain Has Around Him (0 / 0)
the more Americans are apt to vote for him.
Americans relate to abusers
Americans are trying to resolve their bad childhoods and hate is their medicine.
Gramps McCain will make it better for them.
And that is a mild reaction to the top "repug" as kossaks like to say.

If you look at the way that John Boehner (House Minority Leader) has been treating every situation as a skirmish in the greater tactical battle between right and left, you begin to understand. What other excuse would there be to try and force a procedural vote on the floor of the house at the exact time of the Memorial for Tom Lantos.

I fully expect this sort of tit for tat maneuvering to be the order of the day. It appears that Republican learned nothing from the reaction to Newt Gingrich's shut down of government over the budget. The American People want their representatives to work together for the good of the country. While Bush's approval ratings are low, they are almost twice as good as those for Congress.

There is a way the Greens can use this as an opportunity to gain respect. We need to be the party that actually practices what Obama is preaching. Greens have to point out the obstructionism whenever it happens and promise not to do it ourselves. Greens need to focus on solutions to the problems that people are experiencing and not merely rant about some ideological goal that is not being met.

It does not look as if the Democrats will have a filibuster proof senate in 2009. Much will be broken if Obama and the Republicans of the 111th Congress square off. We need to be ready to take advantage of this opportunity.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

CA 46 Ripe for picking?

I am adding to my blogging over the next several weeks. I want to spend some time concentrating on Crazy Dana, a blog that was set up last year to document some of the worst foibles of that ho-dad from Huntington Beach, Dana Rohrabacher.

Over the next several weeks, with the help from a few friends, veterans of the wars against Abramoff, Pombo and Doolittle, we will start building a much more picturesque, vid-aware site that chronicles just why Dana has to go.

There are now three individuals running against Rohrabacher. Green Tom Lash, Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook (an environmental activist backed by the DFA) and a guy named Dan Kalmick from Seal Beach, whom I am told is a "good guy" but over his head in this race.

However, my effort for now is going to be strictly Dana-bad. That should help both Tom and whomever survives the Democratic primary, presumably Cook.

Along that line, I note that Act Blue currently lists 51 donations to Debbie Cook for $11,294. Now Act Blue is generally just an illustration that one Democrat can raise more grassroots money that another. But, it does add up and I know Tom would be ecstatic if he had 51 donations to match that. I have the feeling a more money will flow in to this race than people expect and Tom will need all the help he can get.

The Great Imposters

If there is one issue that has had surprising effects on the national Republican races, it is Immigration. Still you have to wonder.

Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo was one of the first to drop out of the presidential race even though immigration was his ONLY issue.

John McCain had to have a near death experience in his campaign before he "got it" that Republicans want a secure border.

But, some of the base of the current anti-immigrant activity is falling apart. There is no longer a united front. The Minutemen organization is in disarray, or at least it's found Jim Gilchrist seems to think so. Local OC newspaper, the Daily Pilot, calles it the Minuteman Meltdown.
Struggles for power and finances have led leaders in the movement to split ties with Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minuteman Project.

Bickering continues over who has control of the original Minuteman organization and once faithful members are now deserting the group. Barbed e-mails and accusations fly among the former Minuteman loyalists.
It seems to me that this would be a time for OC and LA Greens to ratchet up our support for a rational immigration policy.

At least, the following comment was posted to the story by a very Green sounding "redwoodsforever". "
Minuteman Meltdown? outlines the internal fighting rampant within all the anti-immigrant groups. How are these groups different than the KKK? They all have racism at their core. America has immigration as its foundation; we're all immigrants.

Our 20-year Congressman Rohrabacher is obsessed by the illegal immigration issue. I wish he was as concerned about affordable health care or funding solar & wind power (get off foreign oil). Rohrabacher voted for offshore drilling & in ANWR. He doesn't believe we have a global warming problem & jokes about dinosaur farts. Vote him out in 2008! "
And they found a way to turn that into a tirade against Congressman Taliban... er... Rohrabacher.

Now, let's add to this the fact that long time Republican Strategist and campaign financer, Grover Norquist, is now on the hook for hiring an "illegal" just as was the California Republican party. I am sure glad that the SF Chronicle's Carla Marinucci is on this story, because you know the OC Register will never print it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Where to grow the Green Party

In my previous post today, I called attention to a report on political partisanship in California that had been prepared to by the Public Policy Institute of California. It is clear that there is a perception that a third party is needed in California. If this "need" is true, then we have to ask why we are not meeting that need.

I think that we have to look at where we expend our time and energy. The PPIC report begins with some charts on the demographics of the major parties in California. For example:

There is a big difference in party affiliation by gender.
  • Republicans: Men comprise 54% of registered voters while women are 46%.
  • Democrats: The opposite is true. Women make up 57% and men are 43%.
There are major differences based on ethnicity:
  • Republicans: 84% White, 8% Latino, 5% Asian, 1% Black.
  • Democrats: 63% White, 20% Latino, 10% Black, 5% Asian.
Still, the total registrations for both major parties have been in decline and the growth has been in voters who decline to state a party preference. According to the PPIC, "If current registration trends continue, we expect that there will be more independents than either Republican or Democratic voters by 2025."

If we are to grow this party, we have some choices in where we begin to look for those new voters, especially since we see that there is an overall rejection of the extremes of partisanship among many voters.

One option might be to try to woo Progressive Democrats (PDA) to join us, after they are inevitably disappointed by their own candidates performance once elected. This viewpoint is the position of those who see the Green Party as the logical electoral arm of the progressive movement. It seems to be the opinion expressed by Peter Camejo and his associates. However, in light of the PPIC data on voters turning away from extreme partisanship, I wonder if this is an effective strategy.

Another option might be to concentrate on the Hispanic / Latino voter. This is the fastest growing segment of the electorate. The are involved in both major parties and have been voting in record numbers, as explained by KNBC - Los Angeles.
The outpouring was especially strong on the Democratic side, with Latino voters accounting for 30 percent of Tuesday's presidential primary vote.
That is, in itself, an astounding statistic since it nearly doubles Latino participation from the 2004 election. It was also a part of the strong showing by John McCain. On the Republican side, Latino voters made up 13 percent of the vote, which also was a record. The very fact that so many Latinos voted Republican shows that this segment can not be taken for granted by any party. That is especially the case for the Hispanic Evangelical movement, more aligned with Republicans on social issue, with Democrats on other issues, but with some 15 million members nationally. Still, I think believe that ignoring Hispanic voters, or just relying on MAPA and Nativo Lopez to deliver some vote, is being either blind or lazy.

At least the other parties are working on this, as noted in the following statement from the same KNBC article.
"You can almost say this was the first major effort to bring the Latino voter to the polls in the same way that they attempt to bring all the other voters to the polls," said Mark DiCamillo, who directs the Field Poll. "I think the whole segment got aroused and turned out."

A third option is to focus primarily on the independent voter, those who are registered DTS in California. Their numbers are growing more rapidly than any of the parties. However, according to a study of attitudes of independent voters from the PPIC, these voters are much more likely to be centrists than the members of Democratic or Republican parties. That would seem to indicate that you can not attract both PDA Democrats and Independents with the same message, the same policies.

There is an implication in all of this that one way forward is to convince the public that the Green Party is in some manner different from all the others; That the solutions we provide have a different foundation, principles rather than campaign donations; that you can not put the Greens on a left<->right continuum; that we will always speak to the needs of the public.

Where are we going? I don't know. I do know we need to shake up things a bit.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Post-Partisanship? Not likely

The media focus on the presidential election circus just about drowns out any other thought. Normally, new political studies from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) will get at least a passing mention, but not the January 2008 At Issue publication that took a look at California's Post-Partisan Future. That term, Post-Partisan came right from the Governor.
Is the partisan divide in California so deep that it precludes such accord? Does the growing trend toward “decline-to-state” voter registration portend, instead, a reshaping of the two-party system?
PPIC CEO Mark Baldasarre presents a lot of demographic statistics that drive home the point that accommodation is not likely between Republicans and Democrats. They are just too different. You can dig that out yourself. I would recommend that anyone interested in electoral success do this.

What I want to call everyone's attention to is his (and the voters) assessment of the role and prospects for a third party in California.
Majorities of Californians say the two parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third party is needed. PPIC Statewide Surveys find that four in 10 independents were former major-party members and seven in 10 prefer to be
unaffiliated with any party
We have to ask ourselves then why we have not been more successful. While the demand for something other than Democrat or Republican is growing, our registration numbers are falling. That should not be, but it is true.

That being the case, what do we do to change the situation? It is obvious that what we are doing now is not working. Baldassare makes some suggestions, and I quote the liberally from the report.

With no signs that the deep rifts between Democratic and Republican voters are shrinking, Californians can expect to have state and federal legislators who largely reflect the liberal-conservative split of major-party voters in the party primaries. The two-party system will continue to reflect the will of fewer and fewer people in the future, unless the parties focus on expanding their base, on inclusiveness instead of ideological purity and exclusivity.
If you agree with Baldassare, then this represents a real opportunity for Greens, but only if we can show that we are substantially different from the duopoly, that we bring a new vision of what politics can be, of what California can be, of what this nation can be.

Since this relates to electoral politics, we have one clue as to what can be accomplished if we look at the impact of the independent voters on the Democratic primary. The Democratic Party is rather unique in California in that it allows those who are registered as decline to state to vote in the Democratic Primary. Neither the Republican nor the Greens do so.

Writing just before the Feb 5 presidential primaries in CA, Baldassare found that the independent voters had little effect on the choice of candidates by the Democratic Party. I have not found any analysis of these independent votes that is meaningful. Note here that some of the PPIC suggestions for reducing partisanship are very much in line with what Greens have been working for: Instant Runoff and Proportional Representation. Others, are not so attractive, especially the first suggestion of a completely open primary with the top two candidates staging a runoff regardless of party. This would almost assuredly eliminate third parties from most contests, even if coupled with a new districting formula that creates more evenly distributed contests.

We can suggest six proposals to involve more independent voters and increase the numbers of moderate voices involved in choosing elected representatives:
(1) State-level primaries could permit voters to vote for candidates regardless of the voter’s and the candidate’s party. Then, the two top vote-getters could have a runoff in the general election.
(2) State-level primaries could be eliminated and replaced with instant runoff s in general elections. In such a system, candidate victories are decided by general election voters selecting both their first and second choices.
(3) General elections could use a proportional representation formula. As a result, the numbers of Democratic, Republican, independent, and third-party seats in the legislature would be based on the percentage of the vote each receives, rather than
winner-take-all in local districts.
(4) Legislative races in general elections could be nonpartisan. In such a system, ballots would list candidates without party labels, as in mayoral, city council, and county board of supervisor races in California.
(5) Campaign finance reforms, such as public financing, could be implemented in elections. In this way, nonpartisans and moderates could become financially competitive against partisan candidates who can attract support from ideological and
interest groups.
(6) Future legislative redistricting could focus on party competition rather than incumbent advantages. In line with state trends, local elections with partisan parity would be decided by centrist and independent voters.

We have a lot of work to do.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mark Sanchez for Supervisor

Let me introduce the second in the list of GP Candidates that I consider worthy of supporting with your time and your donations. This is Mark Sanchez, candidate for Supervisor, City and County of San Francisco, California. If elected he would join Ross Mirkarimi as the 2nd GP Supervisor in this very "progressive" city.

Once again, this is where Greens get the experience at governance. It is building a solid local constituency for the Green Party. If we want Greens to win, this is where it starts.

The following is a press release from the San Francisco Greep Party dated yesterday.
Friday, February 15, 2008

Erika McDonald, 415-337-1499;
To schedule an interview with Mark Sanchez, contact Vicki Leidner, 415-648-5050;

District 9 Candidate Mark Sanchez is the First to Qualify for Public Financing

SAN FRANCISCO—The Mark Sanchez campaign has received confirmation from the Ethics Commission that Sanchez – currently President of the San Francisco Board of Education and candidate for District 9 Supervisor – is eligible to receive public financing.

"I'm grateful to all the folks who have contributed to my candidacy for supervisor and to the great team working on this campaign," said Sanchez, a Green Party member and school teacher.

Sanchez is the first candidate for supervisor to qualify for public funds in 2008. Read the Ethics Commission press release announcing his eligibility for public financing here:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Water Crisis Impacts Power Crisis

One of the defining characteristics of a good Green, is being able to connect the dots between seeming unrelated phenomenon.

CNN Money takes a look at the connection between water shortages and power production:
Power generation takes water. Pumping water takes power. As the nation struggles to meet electricity demand - expected to surge 50% in the next 30 years - big sections of the country are suffering from drought conditions.

The article begins with an old Western saying: "Whisky is for drinkin' and water is for fightin' ."

David Baltimore on the Science Debate

Bear with me for yet another post about the Science Debate in 2008. Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) spoke today at their annual meeting in Boston. The following excerpt from his talk fully underscores how seriously most scientists consider this issue, especially for this election cycle.
“We have a Presidential election coming. Science and technology have played at best minor roles in the primary campaigns. Now that we have a limited candidate pool, it is time for our community to be heard.

“A debate on science has been proposed and some 15,000 people and many organizations have signed onto the proposal. We should write to the candidates and encourage them to participate.

“Their view of science, whether they want to hear its conclusions or want to hide from them, whether they want to have the thinking of our community represented in the White House or relegated to a distant office, whether they will support intensive investigation of alternative energy sources, whether they will liberate the biomedical community to fully investigate the power of stem cell technology, whether they will face the reality that abstinence is not the only way to protect people against HIV transmission, whether they will provide leadership or bury their head in the sand when tough choices must be made, whether they will leave a better country than the one they inherit, all of these are critical questions with which they should be faced.

Note to Barbara Boxer: Get on board

As you can plainly see from the Science Debate logo in the right side menu, I have supported the idea of having a debate strictly on those issues that need to be informed by the best science that we have: Global Warming, Nuclear Proliferation, Medical Research, Education, Agriculture. I have already convinced my Congressman, Jerry McNerney to endorse this proposal. Now, I am working on Senator Boxer.

Today, I posted the following at the contact form on her Senatorial web site as well as calling her San Francisco Office. I focused on the College and University support that exists in California. The full list of such support is much larger. However, only two California Congress Critters have endorsed this proposal: Jerry McNerney (CA-11) and Sam Farr (CA-17). We need to have more support and we need to have Boxer's support on this.

Even though the criteria for participation in the debate was set so high (15% in national polls) as to preclude 3rd Party participation as well as that of Republican Dr. Paul, this is still an event that is worth supporting just because the issues are so important.

Please use my comments as a template and turn up the volume in Boxer's ear.
Invitations have gone out to Clinton, Obama, McCain and Huckabee to participate in a specific debate on issues that need to be informed by science. This would obviously include Global Warming, Medical Research, Agricultural policy, Education... all issues that you care about.

I would ask that you take the time to endorse this effort. You can do so easily on the debate organization's web site:

At least, note the large number of educational leaders who have endorsed this effort, including these California Universities: Stanford, UC-Berkeley, UC-Riverside, CSU-Monterey Bay, Humboldt State, Pomona College. Additionally, the presidents of Cal. Tech., CSU-San Bernardino, Harvey Mudd College, San Jose State, San Diego State and Fresno State have personally endorsed the debate.

But, this is a political issue and we need support from our political leaders in order to make sure that this happens.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Getting Serious over Climate Change

It is becoming increasingly clear that Climate Change in not just an environmental issue of interest to "tree huggers" and "EcoVillagers". Still there are those who choose to remain in denial because admitting that global warming is real is more than inconvenient. It means that they will have to give up some very deeply held beliefs.

Some of the strongest climate change deniers come from rural, basically agricultural communities. Yet, in the most recent newsletter from the Center for Rural Affairs, the editors argue that Climate Change is an "Evnivonmental, Economic, and Moral Challenge."
It (how can the public decide when some scientists disagree) is a fair question, but it should not stop us from fulfilling our responsibility as citizens of conscience to search for the truth. If predictions are accurate, climate change is the most critical environmental and economic challenge confronting our generation and one of the most urgent moral issues.

It is a moral issue because we have responsibilities to future generations. If climate change is happening and we don’t address it, our children and grandchildren will face a lower standard of living and less environmental quality. Shifting weather patterns and more extreme weather events would make farming more unpredictable and risky.
Those same changes in weather patterns which the Center finds will make farming more risky will also force us to make fundamental decisions about how we deal with our remaining natural resources. This is the subject of the feature article in the Feb. 4 issue of High Country News. They are dealing with the problem of Unnatural Preservation. The lead to this article poses the question quite directly.
In the age of global warming, public-land managers face a stark choice: They can let national parks and other wildlands lose their most cherished wildlife. Or they can become gardeners and zookeepers.
One of the images is that of a part ranger using a garden hose to ensure that the Giant Sequoia has enough water to survive.

The real challenge for the west is the change in rainfall patterns. On one television news program this AM I saw the questions raised of Lake Mead being dry by 2021.

We have to get some sense of reality here. If the shifting patterns of rainfall have such a devastating effect on the availability of water, if they change how we farm and what crops we are able to raise then we are in for problems that have no easy solutions.

Why build new dams if there won't be enough water to fill the reservoirs that we now have? Yet, that is exactly what our governor is proposing to do. It is obvious that we need to rethink how we use water, as Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute reminds us.

Yes, Climate Change is a moral issue and it is too important to be left in the hands of politicians. We can get very worked up over the War in Iraq and the approximately 4,000 American lives lost, or even the (by some estimates) 500,000 Iraqi lives lost. We agonize over what should be done in Darfur where the number of lives lost are over 100,000 What will we do when the numbers are 10 million in Bangladesh, in Africa, in SE Asia? What will we do when California can no longer be America's produce counter?

It is not going to be easy to be green in the coming years because that means dealing with complexity and we like to keep our lives simple.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Greening LA

When I hear the words Green and LA in the same sentence I have a wide range of images, not all of them with positive connotations. In fact I have indulged myself in a rant against one part of Mayor Villaraigosa's Green LA plan. There is one view of water wasted on picture perfect suburban lawns while we are beginning to wonder whether we will have enough for a shower.

However, Siel gives us another picture from the Emerald City. She nets out what an environmental coalition called Green LA is trying to accomplish.
Enter Green L.A., a coalition of 50 or so environmental and community-based organizations in L.A, working to shape city policies. According to Jonathan Parfrey, director of Green L.A., the coalition basically came together when Mayor Villaraigosa got elected, because many groups saw the new mayor's enviro-commitment as an unprecedented opportunity to push the city into a greener direction. After all, back in 2005, Villaraigosa said "Let's dare to imagine Los Angeles as the cleanest and greenest big city in America." So enviro and community-based groups linked arms and launched Green L.A. in Dec. 2005 to take Villaraigosa at his word.
The list of what they are trying to do is almost right. There is one topic that is missing from the list. That is to influence LA's Planning Commission, Building Code, permitting process to back adhere to the standards put forward by Architecture 2030. Anyone who has viewed Ed Mazria's recent webcast knows that this is job 1 (to steal a line from Ford).

Every city seems to be getting in line to do something. Chuck Reed has a big public Green Vision for San Jose. Like Villaraigosa's Green LA plan, it is long on goals and short on effective specifics. Gavin Newsome made the same claims for San Francisco since 2004. None of them has it right, but Siel has shown us where our non-profits are making a difference.

It would seem to me that there is a real opportunity here for local Green Party candidates to step in, point out the obvious failings of the Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose paper plans and to begin attracting real backing from those who still care about the environment. Take the time to watch Mazria's web cast is you have not yet done so.. I did mention it before.

Water and Agriculture

It is not possible to separate the use of water by agriculture in California from the total use. Irrigation for agriculture uses more that half of all the water that comes out of the Central Valley and you can not solve the problem in isolation.

That is why I find hope in the way that Restore the Delta has structured it's next meeting. This session provides an understanding of what local farmers truly need (not what some lobby organizations say they need) as well as a discussion of how to get deliver what is needed without trying to "fool Mother Nature."

Here is the entire press release for this very important meeting:
Protecting Delta Farmers:

Meeting California’s Water Needs Through Conservation

On the evening of March 6, 2008 Restore the Delta will hold a community event featuring:

John Herrick, General Manager of the South Delta Water Agency
Heather Cooley from the Pacific Institute!

Mr. Herrick will speak on the water needs of Delta farmers, Delta water quality, and the history of water for Delta farmers.

Ms. Cooley will talk about how water conservation can help to restore the Delta and meet the state’s water needs.

The event will be held at the Sunset Bar and Grill at Tower Park Resort 14900 W. Highway 12, Lodi. A dinner buffet will be available at 6:00 p.m. The program will begin at 6:45 and last until 8:15 p.m. Dinner costs $20 per person, including tax and gratuities, and is payable at the door. Restore the Delta will provide coffee and dessert.

In addition, Restore the Delta will be asking for a free will donation to cover the program and to help with general fundraising. Please RSVP to Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla at your earliest convenience in order to confirm your attendance at dinner and the event.

Both dinner and the program are open to the community, and because Restore the Delta is a community organization, we have secured several scholarships so that interested students, or community members living on a limited income, can attend dinner and the event free of charge. To arrange for a scholarship, please contact Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla at

Friday, February 08, 2008

30 minutes to save a planet

I have posted a short note on the Green California Forum email list asking everyone to watch the webcast that Ed Mazria did on Global Warming, Coal and how to recover from the recession we are in.

I also made a longer commentary at Green Commons.
I have never seen one person so clearly and directly outline the problem of global warming and provide such a clear cut, easily understood plan for how to deal with it.

There are those, even in the Green Party, who consider that ecological thinking is essentially a spiritual tree-hugging type experience, rather divorced from real life. If you paid close attention to Mazria, you will note that he never mentioned Eco Villages even once.

What he did do was to make it abundantly clear that it is absolutely essential to stop coal. I mean stop it dead in it's tracks. Just that. No more coal. Full Stop.

The second thing that is unique about this presentation is the fact that Marzia does not subscribe to the belief that this would be a major hit on the US Economy. Rather, he sees this as an opportunity for building our way out of the current recession.
You can read the rest over there. It is much more important that you watch the video here.

Culture of Blame

There are many reasons to feel good about being a member of the Green Party. Even at the most basic level, one can always keep your bumper sticker that reads "Don't Blame Me, I Voted Green." We have not yet had to apologize on behalf of the Green Party for the actions of our Congressman or our President.

But there is one tendency in the culture of the Green Party, especially the Green Party of CA, that truly hinder our growth and, if we continue, will forever relegate the Green Party to being an interesting footnote in an era when others have become known as the "green" party. We do love to play the blame game.

Maybe it is because so many Green look to the party to save this country from all of the things that they already blame on others. On top of that, we actively encourage this behavior by focusing our energies so much on demonstrations against the war, against Bush and Cheney, against Walmart. Even in the demonstrations around immigration, there was almost never a time when Greens were stepping forward with a plan that said what we were for.

Given that culture, one should not be surprised when those who get frustrated with our lack of electoral success play the same blame game internally. They are quick to point out all of the things that anyone has ever done to weaken the party and somehow, they never seem to get beyond replacing those whom they blame. For example, the following was posted to a GPCA email list today.
M. Borenstein and Peggy Lewis have been performing the County Council support function, but more people are needed. The job involves going out to troubled locals and offering assistance. Faramarz Nabavi went on to point out that the group's role is to make suggestions, not to take over and fix locals.
The implication is that our lack of a substantive presence in San Bernardino County can be placed solely on two people. This blame game, so destructive at the GPCA level, is even more prevalent in the National Party where on National Committee Delegate today complained that...
... there is a core group of players who chart our course. This
information has recently come to light and everyone should be aware of this.

Do we want our 501c3s writing our legislation like K street does?
"We are hoping for several organizations to sponsor this exploration. They are Liberty Tree, the Green Institute, the Green Network, and the Green Horizon Foundation."
In both of these cases, there is a remedy close at hand. One needs look no further than the tips of the fingers that typed these notes. If we fail, it is because we would rather slay dragons than plow the fields. The Green Party is filled with erstwhile Don Quixotes in a world filled with windmills.

In the meantime, I watch the Democratic Party in my home town tackle local issues, work directly with youth in Young Democrats, organize support for local candidates and, when the time comes that they need to, manage to harvest the results in the general elections.

I am losing patience with those who only want to reboot the party. There is a very simple way to do that. One has only to build local organizations to the point where new leaders emerge. In the overall competition, those who are serving the needs of the people will end up as the new leadership. It may be some of the same people that are there now and that is OK.

The word "whining" came to describe the Romney presidential campaign. The same word can be used to describe so much of the internal Green Party communications. After a while, it begins to sound shrill to my ears, as if the NC delegate was miffed that they were not invited to join the group.

For a party that claims grassroots democracy as a guiding principle, we fail so often to work at the grassroots level. In the communities were we do, we have more success that in those where we continually focus on the big issue of the day.

We have the option of building this party from the ground up or we can hope for a Saviour (Nader, McKinney, Kucinich) to provide some sort of deus ex machina. While the latter provide good political theater, they may also leave a lot of empty seat if it does not play in Peoria.

Choose your future.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

One for the money...

I am starting a new class of links in the right side menu. Under the heading Green Candidates, I will provide a list of those candidates that I have become convinced have a real chance of winning a partisan election in 2008. I would like to accomplish two things.
  • First and foremost, I want everyone to have a chance to see what real candidates are doing and how they do it. I would like to see all candidates in California (and elsewhere) begin to emulate the best that we have.
  • Beyond that, I want to encourage each reader of this blog to donate something to their campaigns. We can only win in those races where we are able to amass enough funding to pay for literature, to pay to staff a campaign office, to pay for television / radio advertising, etc. We need to choose carefully, focus our giving on the best run campaigns, but we do need to contribute.
My first entry is Farheen Hakeem, who is running for a State Legislature seat in District 61B in Minnesota. The link is to her web site. For a quick appraisal of what is possible, let me quote from a note that David Strand posted to a national GP email list today.
I went and helped pass out literature to people attending Independence, Republican, and Democratic Party caucuses in State House District 61B where
Farheen Hakeem is running seeking Green Party endorsement for an open state house seat.

I was a little overwhelmed that I practically got mobbed for Farheen stickers and literature.

Many people said they didn't need lit but are voting for Farheen.

And this was the hard core of the hard core of the competing parties who all recognize Farheen as someone they like from her 2 previous Green Party races.
Farheen's site is not yet set up to accept credit card donations, but any who wish to contribute can do so by check. Checks may be made out to "Neighbors United for Farheen Hakeem" and mailed to the same:
Neighbors United for Farheen Hakeem
c/o Farheen Hakeem
3315 Elliot Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN 55407

Everything I am reading about the way political opinion might be shaped tell me two things. Americans are optimistic and they value the sense of community. Farheen's campaign embodies those two traits, even to the name they have chosen. "Neighbors United" speaks of the positive things that Farheen will do.

In a real way, we are all part of Farheen's community and like good neighbors, we are here.

I ask all who read this to find me another Farheen Hakeem to add to my list.

Lessons of Feb. 5

I come away from the Green Party Presidential Primary with a whole list of lessons to be learned and hopefully there are some readers who will think a bit, and then act.

To begin with, the turnout for the Green Party, as a percentage of registered Green in California, dropped from 2004. That fact, by itself, would be worrisome. Given the fact that the Democratic primaries and caucuses across the entire country, have been pulling in record numbers of participants, our lack of excitement and growth demonstrates the need for change within the Green Party, but not necessarily the change that some are demanding.

Already, I have read posts from Green Advocates who continue to raise the issue of our apportionment formula being unfair. Well, they are all unfair. Is it fair that the Democratic Party allocates a block of Super Delegates and then gives a substantial number of those to the AFL-CIO? Is it fair that Democratic Party insiders have so much power as to be able to control the outcome of a close contest?
The category includes Democratic governors and members of Congress, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former vice president Al Gore, retired congressional leaders such as Dick Gephardt, and all Democratic National Committee members, some of whom are appointed by party chairman Howard Dean.
The only truly fair method would be to conduct a national primary and that, with its demand for high level financing through television / radio commercials is a guarantee that you get only the rich as candidates. It is time to stop whining like Mitt Romney. It is costing him votes and it is winning our whiners no new friends.

The second lesson that I take away is that we do not yet have any candidate who has a message that is capable of inspiring this country at this point in time. We do have candidates who will be able to pull in small segments of those who acknowledge the fact that they have been disenfranchised by the duopoly, but none will capture the imagination of a wider electorate with the messages they have used to date.

If Ralph Nader (who captured most of the California Delegates) ends up winning the nomination, I can only hope that he does not repeat his campaigns of 2000 / 2004 because that is not what the majority of American want to hear. It's tone was too angry, too negative and particularly in a year when even the Clinton's are having to bite their normally divisive tongues, it will win few new friends.

If Cynthia McKinney (who out polled Nader stand-in Howie Hawkins in Illinois) puts together enough states without primaries to win, she will also alienate many if her message stays negative. I watched one time Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta on KSBW-Salinas last night. He underscored that Hillary Clinton wins (vs Obama) when she talks about what she will do and loses when she only repeats the experience vs. non-experience (of Obama) mantra.

Greens need to talk about what we will do, not what we won't do.

At this time, in this election, especially with the enthusiasm that Obama generates we have to be talking about making positive change and the creation of a better world. Americans are basically optimistic people. Until we have a candidate that can articulate what it means to be Green in a positive manner, who shows us a vision of tomorrow, we will remain merely footnotes to an otherwise exciting election.

The third lesson I see here is that this party professes to believe in grassroots democracy and yet seems to fail, time and again, at grassroots organizing. That must change. If we were doing what we need to be doing, we would see new groups forming and new faces of activism at the county level. Instead, we see the same faces, hear the same voices repeating the same things that we saw, heard in 2006, in 2004...

There are centers around this country where people are doing things the right way, where the party is growing and coming ever closer to electoral success in partisan races. Illinois is one state where the gubernatorial candidate polled over 10%. What are they doing right that we are not doing? It may pay to figure it out. From what I observe, they don't spend a lot of time fighting internal battles that originated years ago and which still fester.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Cynthia McKinney on GREEN Issues

Los Angeles, Sunday, February 3, 2008 -- It is two days before the California Primary. Accordingly, I am exercising the blogger's privilege to post information about my favorite candidate. See pasted below a video of a set of concise statements on Green Issues by former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney at the Green Party presidential debate.

Please note the contrast between Ms. McKinney statements and the empty "change" mantra from Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton currently being celebrated by the corporate media. Notice Ms. McKinney talks about water, genetically modified foods, and green jobs.

All politics is local.

Irregardless of who wins the White House in November, the struggle for real change in California will go on block-by-block in cities, suburbs, and the rural countryside of our (no thanks to corporations) still beautiful Golden State. Cynthia McKinney and our Green Party activists are commited to this struggle like no Democratic Party Hacks in California.

See More at:

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Nader Exploratory Committee

In yesterday's post, I mentioned the fact that I see a campaign based primarily on a genuine distrust of Corporate Greed, Corporate Power, Corporate Control, the anti-corporate message. Yet, that is exactly what Nader is doing. It would appear from the web site of his Presidential Exploratory Committee that this is his only message.

Yet, if you go back to his 2004 campaign site, which is still up, you can see that he has positions on a wide range of issues. The question I would have of a Nader candidacy is "which Nader will we get?", the anti-corporate crusader or a newly energized Ralph Nader who would offer a future of unlimited promise.

Unfortunately, all I see is a one dimensional candidate when he has the ability to be much more. Sadly, also, even some of the news agency press coverage trivializes his serious intent.
He’s baaaacccckkk….Nader forms presidential exploratory committee

Friday, February 01, 2008

An Anti-Corporate Candidate?

I have no problem with Ralph Nader or any other candidate running as a Green. I truly believe, however, that a campaign based solely on the populist, anti-corporate message that we have long heard from Nader will not achieve much this year. I am worried that the rhetoric of the anti-corporate message will become the focus of his campaign, whether he intends that or not. The media will make it so.

Within the past several weeks there has been a major uproar over the question of whether Ralph Nader endorsed / did not endorse John Edwards. (He didn't, in case anyone is confused.) However, he did establish a linkage between the anti-corporate rhetoric of Edwards and his own actions for most of his career. It is worth noting that Edwards message did not resonate with enough of the Democratic primary / caucus participants to become a major factor, dropping to as low as 4% in Nevada and rarely over 20%, despite the fact that he has been campaigning very hard for a long time.

Authenticity Counts. I think that Edwards failed for two reasons. The first is that he never convinced a large number of Democrats that he was authentic. In a real sense, you have to BE the message that you deliver. The images of Edwards and his multi-hundred $ hair cuts and the opulent lifestyle of his mansion undercut the populist message. In many ways, his wife was a much more effective communicator that he was. There is strong evidence that this was also part of Kerry's failure in 2004. That moment when he accepted the 2004 nomination with the obviously contrived act of stepping forward, saluting and saying that he was "reporting for duty" created negative reactions when "test marketed" in a media savvy manner. (ref. "Words the Work" by Dr. F. Luntz) Authenticity counts.

Aspirations. The other failure in Edwards message is that it was not aspirational. It was all about the things that he was against, on our behalf, of course, but still, it failed to show what real vision he had for this country, where he would lead us. All that he could offer to close the deal was just about the same laundry list of policies as the other two except on climate change where he was clearly the strongest. In contrast, Obama is all about the vision thing and one might question the substance... but his campaign has been much more successful.

Lesson for us. Whoever wins the Green Party nomination must not fall into the trap that Edwards built for himself. A campaign that is only about the evils of corporate America and how they conspire to keep good people off the ballot is a campaign that will fail. Conversely, a campaign that is
about the power of a united people act on our own behalf, freeing us from the constraints the media consolidation that has silenced the voices of the public, making us owner of our own future. will re-establish Greens as a party with something to offer this country.

There is much the Green Party needs to accomplish. We must aspire to lead towards a new future. We need candidates who reach back to the core of their life experiences and find the path to that future. Authentiic. Aspirational.

Choose Your Future: Vote.