Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Astroturf Arnold hates fish.

I have, more than once, cited material from Dan Bacher, the editor of The Fishsniffer magazine. I know of no one who is working more diligently on both the environmental and economic issues of fish anywhere. I would like to reference two new items: one from the Environmental New Service and the other a new release by Bacher, but you will have to click read more to get it all and here is the scare quote to get you to do that.
Fishes that once were abundant in North American streams, rivers and lakes are now disappearing, with nearly 40 percent of all species in jeopardy, according to the most detailed assessment of the conservation status of freshwater fishes in the last 20 years.

The Environmental New Service sent out a release on 9/11/08 headlined North American Freshwater Fishes Fading into Extinction. Then they go one to cite a new study in the journal Fisheries that says 40% of all freshwater fish species are in jeopardy in the US.
The fish at greatest risk are the salmon and trout of the Pacific Coast and western mountain regions.

That is both an environmental and an economic issue, as the government is forced to suspend fishing and then to pay the fishing boats to stay in the harbor. It does not stop there, as the economic pinch flows from there, to the shippers, fish markets and to your local restaurants.

In California, Astroturf Arnold makes a great show of being the Green Governor, and then, according to Bacher, he turns around and vetoes a bill that would help protect fish in the delta from that acts of man. Last year, I showed pictures of the Prospect Island Fish Kill, where a rescue was attempted in the Delta, and the results of not being able to move quickly enough.

Bacher sent out a release today that nails the situation.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, hailed as the “Green Governor” in his news conferences and photo opportunities touting “green jobs” in recent weeks, showed his true anti-environmental credentials today when he vetoed the Fish Rescue Plans Bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Lois Wolk.

AB 1896, spurred by the fish kill at Prospect Island last fall, would require the Department of Fish and Game to develop a set of protocols to evaluate the need for fish rescue and relocation plans within the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

“While I am disappointed that AB 1806 was not signed, I want to express my thanks to the fishing community for their strong support in this effort,” said Assemblywoman Wolk, Chair of the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee. “The fishing community took up the challenge to help restore the state’s fisheries and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and has proven a force to be reckoned with. When thousands of striped bass and other sport fish dying on Prospect Island last year, it was fishermen who mounted the rescue operation that saved thousands of fish--and their advocacy helped send AB 1806 to the Governor’s desk."

Another Debate that won't take place.

Scientist and blogger Sheril Kirshenbaum has issued a challenge to Sarah Palin, and indirectly to Joe Biden. She wants to debate Palin, woman to woman, idea to idea. Being a woman of education, experience and class, there is no question that Sheril would definitely walk away a winner and there could be no charge of sexism. And for those who tried to define Palin as a "hot chick", Sheril has her beat there also. Call me sexist if you want.

Like the Science Debate 2008 effort the was started by blogger Chris Mooney and Sheril, this one won't happen, but it is fun trying to imagine that it would.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bail out at 10,000

I tend to be a contrarian when it comes to politics. As for politicians, I am a pessimist and rarely pleasantly surprised. But there is a long list of things that most commentators are not talking about.

I did appreciate the analysis of the House vote offered by Chuck Todd on NBC's Nightly News.
According to Todd,the yes no vote depended on whether the Representative was in a close race, or had one recently. Those is safe districts voted aye. Those facing a challenge listened to their constituency's fears and voted "nae".

Beyond that, if there was a failure of leadership here, I think that started with Nancy Pelosi who could not make up her mind whether to blame everything on the Republicans for the last 50 years, or to urge more bi-partisan work. As usual, her timing was terrible. Cindy Sheehan should be all over this as it is a great opportunity to trash Pelosi.

I don't know whether having Nader in town helps or hurts on that question. He will also trash the plan but the focus will be on Ralph, not Cindy.

Almost every staffer in Washington in working double overtime trying to protect their bosses backside.

When I heard the Republican plan for an mortgage insurance.
House Republicans negotiated a section into the bill that would establish an insurance program for toxic assets. Instead of selling troubled mortgage-backed securities to the Treasury, banks could instead purchase insurance from the Treasury on the assets.
That still leaves the situation without regulation and the lack of regulation is very much what got us into this mess. What makes them think that the industry that found creative ways to leverage the risk will show any more risk aversion with an insurance policy to bail them out. That is even worse than the Paulsen plan.

With all of the fear and uncertainty in the market, someone should be asking the House Republicans, beginning with Mike Pence (IN), what they think about privatizing Social Security. That never made sense to me, even though the long range track of such assets is upward, life circumstances happen when they happen and don't ask permission from the market first. It was a fraud when it was suggested and it is clearly not something that they want to talk about now.

Thanks to Dave Roberts at Grist, I got around to reading Chalmers Johnson at The Nation. It is not normally on my reading list, but this is one of the best commentaries that I have read.
Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on present and future wars that have nothing to do with our national security is simply obscene. And yet Congress has been corrupted by the military-industrial complex into believing that by voting for more defense spending, they are supplying "jobs" for the economy. In fact, they are only diverting scarce resources from the desperately needed rebuilding of the American infrastructure and other crucial spending necessities into utterly wasteful munitions. If we cannot cut back our long-standing, ever-increasing military spending in a major way, then the bankruptcy of the United States is inevitable. As the current Wall Street meltdown has demonstrated, that is no longer an abstract possibility but a growing likelihood. We do not have much time left.

One last thought. My wife was talking to one of her old college friends today. Her friend does not pay much attention to the news. When Rumiko mentioned that the stock market was down 777 points yesterday, that caught her friends attention. "That's terrible. All of my income is from dividends and interest." When anti-capitalist leftist talk about the scuttling the bailout, they need, at the same time, to say exactly what they will do with all of the 401-K plans, the corporate and union pension funds, that just lost as much money as the bailout will cost. That is our money, some of it is my money, and I would hate to see it disappear for lack of intelligent action.

Clean Coal: Oxymoron or a Dirty Lie

Oklahoma's Grand Riverkeeper, Earl Hatley, signs his emails with the statement that Clean Coal is a Dirty Lie. In this weeks edition of High Country News, Greg Gordon says that it is an oxymoron. Take your pick.

Here is what I just do not understand. Politicians toss off the term "clean coal" is if it were just another grade, like anthracite or bituminous. However, the idea is much more than that. Mostly, they are talking about finding a way to sequester the carbon dioxide that comes from the combustion of coal.

So far, there are no power plants in existence that sequester the CO2. It would be an expensive process and the costs would have to be passed on to the customers, mostly utility rate payers. The Federal Government had a project called FutureGen run out of the Dept of Energy. Federal funding of that project was killed because it was costing too much money (needed for the Bush Wars).
FutureGen is a public-private partnership to build a first-of-its-kind coal-fueled, near-zero emissions power plant. The FutureGen plant will cost approximately US $1.5 billion to develop. It will use cutting-edge technologies to generate electricity while capturing and permanently storing carbon dioxide deep beneath the earth. The plant will also produce hydrogen and byproducts for possible use by other industries.

When politicians, like McCain, stand up and talk about the future of renewable energy needing large government subsidies, for which there is no money, they have already made decisions about Coal. The fact that the tentative site for this first of its kind plant is Matoon, IL probably has something to do with the favor that seems to have with Obama.

Even if they can meet the Alliance's schedule, this is still very for out when compared with the overriding need to halt the increase in emissions now.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Senator Boxer wants to hear from you.

I get a lot of email from Senator Boxer. Normally, I know it is very self-serving. Even when I have sent a letter to her office, I got a response about all of the great things she was doing in the general subject area of my letter. Unfortunately, her actions were the exact opposite of what I said should be done.

Still she is again asking for input and I found a really great response that I want to share. The writer, Edward Chow, is a local, Santa Clara County member of the Green Party and has served as Chairman, Campus Greens at UC Berkeley. Read Boxer's letter and Chow's response in their entirety by clicking "Read more".

The following is from Senator Barbara Boxer. Let her know what you think. After her message is what I wrote to her.

Dear Friend:

Traffic and air quality are issues that impact all Californians. We all hope to quickly and safely travel to work or school and then home to our families. We also all depend on clean air that is too often degraded by cars, trucks and trains.

As the Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works, one of my most important priorities for the coming year is to authorize a new federal highway, transit and highway safety bill. The aim of the bill is to improve surface transportation nationwide, which can help improve our air quality as well. My committee has begun the process to write the next bill. I am writing to you both to offer some information about the process and to ask for your thoughts about the focus and priorities of the bill.

Recently, I held briefings in California to hear from transportation officials in California about their priorities. With the following links, you can watch video of the two briefings in Sacramento and Los Angeles and read the testimony of the witnesses:

Field Briefing in Los Angeles
Field Briefing in Sacramento

I also want to hear from you. I want to know your priorities for the next federal transportation bill. I hope you will use the instructions at the bottom of this page to send me your thoughts about what the transportation priorities for the nation should be for the coming years. What can be done to best reduce congestion? Do you want more public transit? What should be done to more quickly move freight across the nation? While these are not easy questions, I would like to hear from you. By considering the thoughts of Californians, I think we can craft a better bill for the nation.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

To respond to this message, please click here. This link will take you to a webpage where you can reply to messages that you receive from Senator Boxer’s office.

Dear Senator Boxer:

As one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, California is poised to take a leadership role in stopping global warming even if the United States does not. However, real change will need to happen in Washington DC to tackle this issue, so I am thankful that this is an issue that we both care about.

First, we need to seriously fund public transit and high speed rail in California and in major metropolitan areas instead of spending billions in the coming years expanding our highways and airports.

Second, we need to put serious pressure on the auto industry to produce green vehicles. Plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle technologies were available a decade ago, but GM decided to scrap the EV1. Learning from past mistakes, we need to increase our CAFE standards for cars to 60mpg and 45mpg for light trucks by 2012 if we are to reach the target of an 80% reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The current plan for 80% by 2050 is not enough if we are to stop global warming, even though vague and distant goals may be more politically convenient.

Lastly, we need to show the world that we mean business when we talk about getting rid of our addiction to dirty fuels such as oil. There is too much talk about biofuels such as ethanol and other unclean, non-sustainable energy sources for our nation's vehicles. We need to seriously invest in converting to a solar economy with 100% electric cars. Gasoline, ethanol, and hydrogen are not the ways of the future, despite what big auto and oil companies are telling Congress and ordinary Americans. We also need to adopt a nuclear-free energy policy, a policy that the Republicans are going to do a major push for in the near future. The Democratic Party CANNOT give in to nuclear lobbyists and the conservative agenda!

Thank you for prioritizing the future of transportation in our country and I hope to hear your thoughts about these matters soon.


Edward Chow

Greening my home town

Finally, I am beginning to see some things turn for the better, and it is beginning locally, in my home town, Morgan Hill, California. And it is happening with little help from the government.

For the past six months, I have been using my column in the Morgan Hill Times to pound on the idea that global warming is our number one problem; that it is directly connected to our energy policies and that neither Obama or McCain is telling us the truth.

I don't know how much real effect this has had, but the Morgan Hill Times seems to believe that it is important local news. In the Friday, Sept. 26 issue, you had articles on the following:

- On a Carbon Dioxide Diet - About a club whose members help each other diet - reduce C02.

- Going Solar - About the growing use of solar power in Morgan Hill and Mountain View, CA based SolFocus as a provider.

And from previous issues this month...

Local High Schools are installing solar panels in parking lot. The project is being done with support from Bank of America and Chevron... hard to believe that but true.

A new plant will be opening in Morgan Hill for the production of solar panel parts, but unfortunately not be an American company but rather Singapore based Flextronics. However, it is expected to provide 400 jobs for the local economy.

I am beginning to believe that Dylan was right... the times real are a changin'

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tis the season to PAC it in.

In my Congressional District, CA-11, the difference between the good guy and the bad guy is pretty clear. Incumbent Jerry McNerney (D) wears the white hat. His opponent, Dean Andal (R) is often called Pombo-light and we got rid of the real Pombo last election. For all of that, the race is taking some interesting turns which I will explain further.

Dean Andal is very well connected to the same real estate developer cabal that has turned San Joaquin County and particularly Stockton, into the home repossession capital of California. He works for developer Gary Kamilos, another of the Greek Developers who seem to have their finger in every project. (The others are A. G. Spanos and Angelo Tsakopoulos. )

How deeply is Andal involved in real estate development? Well, I will let him tell the story. According to that story in the Tracy Press,
Republican congressional candidate Dean Andal denied this week that he played any part in San Joaquin Delta College trustees’ alleged violation of open government laws.

The surprise here is that Real Estate interests are backing McNerney in this election. The National Association of REALTORS PAC has put $510,000 into this campaign on behalf of McNerney. According to Lisa Vorderbrueggen in the Contra Costa Times, the $500 K support for McNerney is part of a national pattern, some Republicans and some Democrats. It seems to be in the form of mailers, as I have gotten 2 in the last week. Here is the front page of one of them. They are all glossy, 8.5 x 11 in. and have 4 - 6 pages of content. This one deals with McNerney's support for housing aid for returning vets.

The real question I have is this. How do we get Greens elected when even the good guys can get $ 0.5 Mil in outside support? Bill Moyers suggested that The only answer to organized money is organized people. Just how many people have to be organized to counter $500,000 in advertising? Where do we get them in the first place and how do we keep them focused on the task.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sarah Palin Alaskan Star

For those who think I lack a sense of humor, this did bring more than a chuckle.

Welcome to the blogosphere - dissent not allowed

One of my favorite blogs has been intersection at scienceblogs.com. The primary writers are Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum. Both have solid credentials. Mooney is the author of two books on science and public policy: The Republican War on Science and Storm World. The former is good journalism and the latter is better. Kirshenbaum is a marine biologist who has worked on Science Policy for Sen Nelson (FL) and is currently working at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University.

Together, they helped establish the sciencedebate2008 effort. I agree with most of what they do, but in this latter effort, I part company with them. Sciencedebate2008 failed to get agreement to hold an actual debate. The best that they did was to put together a list of 14 questions on science, technology and public policy which they asked both the Obama and McCain campaigns to respond to. You can read the questions, the responses, and the public commentary on the responses at sciencedebate2008.com/vote/. It is well worth your time to read through this, and the commentary is telling. To the extent that the readership represents the "scientific community" then they pass Obama and fail McCain.

However, when I tried to post at scienceblogs.com that I preferred the policy set of Cynthia McKinney, it did not make it. While not totally unexpected, I am disappointed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

You don't have to be old to understand

Reliance on foreign nations for food stocks would be parallel to the current dependence on the Middle East for fuel supplies: strainted relations or questionable production methods could create a massive increase in the prices and pu the entire economy and population at risk. - Victoria Kennedy, Modesto HS.

That quote was from the most recent newsletter of the Farmland Working Group, Turlock, CA. The article was the essay submitted by Farmland Working Group 2008 High School Scholarship Winner, Vitoria Kennedy.

What I observe is an increase in sprawl, a continued conversion of farm land to housing and no mitigation at all. So, if you like the high cost of oil and gas, just consider the effect that importing all of our fruit from Chile has on petroleum use.

There was a time when the Green Party would push for smart growth. The entire Stanislaus County Green Party effort was organized around there ideas. Now, it is hardly discussed and the Stanislaus County local no longer exists.

It may be the time now to get back to basics in the issues we pick and in the way we carry that message to the people. I don't want to concede that the Green Party is an urban organization, one that views the environment as a place you visit or is satisfied with sourcing their food from Safeway.

Won't Get Fooled Again

With an idea from Pete Townshend's Won't Get Fooled Again
and the obvious problems with the major party candidates for President, I managed to cobble together a new Green Talk column for my local newspaper.

I used the recent reports of improvement in science test scores in the local schools as an excuse to lambaste those politicians who seem deficient in scientific understanding... energy, climate change, etc. Conclusion:
But when I listen to so much of the populist political pandering that passes for fresh ideas, those who would be the new boss sounding like the old boss, I just hope that we have enough time to educate a new generation of young people who will not be fooled again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How fare we still have to go.

No matter how far we have come, there is still a long way to go. Nothing underscores that fact more than this statement from the Opinion [age of the Newnan, GA Times-Herald.

Why we should elect McCain and Palin

I just wonder how many people have ever thought we would have a presidential election in the U.S. like we have today? To put an inexperienced kid in the office of President would be instant destruction for all the citizens in the U.S. There would be change all right.

He would have all unqualified black people in the government and have pictures of Martin Luther King Jr., Louis Farrahkan, Jesse Jackson, Cynthia McKinney and many others in the White House. Isn't that what all the brown and black mayors do?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I need to stop watching Bill Moyers Journal on Friday evenings. I don't sleep well after. This time, he talks of the role of politics in controlling the media. There are those on the left who think it is the other way around, but I am not sure that they really understand what is happening with the 4th Estate.

Moyers begins this segment by citing novelist Russel Banks.
we choose our presidents not on the basis of their experience or even their political views, but on how well they tap into our basic beliefs, our deepest communal desires, including our religious or spiritual beliefs.
It is clear to see that is what is happening with Sarah Palin. It seems that no matter what the media does, and they have done a lot, people have responded to Palin at a visceral level that defies rational analysis.

He then goes on to show a CNN segment where Campbell Brown, not one of my favorite journalists, gained some esteem by not accepting the talking point that being the nominal commander of the Alaskan National Guard provided Palin with any valid experience. All Campbell did was to keep repeating the question that the McCain/Palin publicity flack kept ducking.
Can you tell me one decision that she made as Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard, just one?
This was set up as "belittling" her experience and the result was to cancel a McCain appearance on CNN.

This is the entire segment. The cited material as almost at the end.

We Greens have a real quandry. The truth about candidates does not make it through the media. Many of the public are reacting to the myth rather than the facts. The corporate media becomes the enemy, not of the public, but of the politicians who rail against the media so that you stop trusting them.

From the days of founding of this country, we have been told that an informed citizenry is essential for Democracy. Now, we have a bunch of politicians who are trying to make us stupid, who do not want us to be informed, but rather to be controlled.

If people want a myth to believe, what are we giving them? I hope that is is one of a new future, not a bleak past, of potential to be realized, not of opportunity squandered.

We may turn to the Internet, but then the responsibility for determining truth is now on us. Caveat emptor. I am not sure that most of us are up to the task. The internet is a very Balkanized space where people who share beliefs reinforce those beliefs with each other and do not reach beyond their immediate. If we are looking to the Internet to be the way we tell the world about ourselves, that we attract new members, then we probably need to provide a degree of professional management of what we say and how we say it.

If there is any one position in this party that we need to turn into a full time paid position, it is that of press secretary. The work to counteract the BS that is generally available is just too daunting to rely on volunteers to get the job done.

The work

Friday, September 12, 2008

Republican's last grasp for energy scares me

I've gotten my share of emails from Mato Ska over the years. They are often informative. However, this time he really caught me by surprise. The subject was Oppose H.R. 6887. So, I jumped over to Thomas and it isn't even posted there yet. But, here is what we do know. The description of the bill is bad enough. "To authorize the President or a designee of the President to waive any legal requirement under any provision of Federal law otherwise applicable to a covered energy project as the President or such designee determines necessary to ensure expeditious conduct of such project, and for other purposes." Now, that is really getting desperate. This is ridiculous. I know that Shadegg (AZ-03) needs some attention, as he may be in position to lose his seat but this is a law that only Sarah Palin could love.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Up Next: The 'NeoPombo' Democrats

This post is dedicated to my friend, Wes Rolley, webmaster of the "Pombo Watch" Web Site (see "MH Man Posts Pombo Watch on Website," Morgan-Hill Times, March 12, 2004).

I couldn't help thinking about Wes and the ordeal of being a Green activist in a polluted society, when I read these opening lines:

Published by the San Francisco Chronicle
Dems' Offshore Drilling Plan Comes With Catch
by Zachary Coile, Tuesday, September 9, 2008

(09-09) 04:00 PDT Washington - Just three years ago Richard Pombo, the cowboy boot-wearing Tracy Republican lawmaker, faced an outcry from Democrats for pushing a bill to lift the 27-year-old ban on drilling off the East and West coasts and let states choose whether to allow oil rigs off their shores.

In a sign of how much the energy debate has shifted in an era of nearly $4-a-gallon gasoline, virtually the same proposal that Pombo floated will be introduced on the House floor this month - by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi and the NeoPombo Democrats think they are being "clever" by giving the Republicans something they want now, namely, opening the door to offshore drilling, so they can get something back that the "liberals" supposedly want, repealing tax subsidies for oil companies and requiring electric utilities to get 15% of their energy from renewables by 2020.

Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, says he'll allow a vote on an energy plan that would allow drilling off the coast of four states - Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia - while also revoking tax breaks for oil companies and offering new incentives for wind and solar, biofuels, coal-to-liquid fuels and nuclear energy.

Notice the inclusion of "clean" coal and nuclear with the other "nice" stuff.

The whole thing is a parliamentary charade anyway because Congress is set to adjourn in less than a month and Our Dear Leader, President Bush, has vowed to veto any bill that raises taxes on the poor, little, trillionaire oil companies.

If, indeed, the GOP gets what it wants -- and end to the ban to offshore drilling -- is anyone here naive enough to bet that the Bush-Cheney-McCain-Palin clique would ever follow through on their half of the bargain? Anyway, by the time to the year 2020, this "compromise" will be long forgotten, we will, of course, be in another "crisis," and everybody will be saying we environmental "extremists" should quit being so "rigid" and let the NeoPombos negotiate a "compromise" with what will then be the "Nuke, Baby, Nuke!" crowd.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Friedman on ET (Environmental Technology)

Thomas Friedman does more than write columns for the NY Times. He also writes books and then does a very good job of promoting them all over the media. His latest book is Hot, Flat and Crowded and he has been promoting it with vigor: Sunday on Meet the Press, this morning on GMA, and also on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Click read more to read Lorna Salzman's very articulate commentary after listening to Friedman on Fresh Air.

Commentary on Thomas Friedman, Hot, Flat and Crowded, and the upcoming election:
by Lorna Salzman.

Today Terry Gross interviewed one of my least favorite journalists on her show: Thomas Friedman, someone that most of us do not regard as an environmental friend. But Friedman spoke with fervor and guts, and emphatically put his finger on the utter failure of American energy policy, due to Bush, the Republicans, the oil companies, and on the absence of incentives for reducing energy consumption or increasing renewable energy.

What he didn't do, however, was to include the Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Barack Obama, in his stern lecture.

He criticized Sarah Palin, the Repubs' VP candidate, for denying global warming even as parts of her state melt away. He criticized Republican senators in Ohio and New Hampshire for opposing renewable energy tax credits even though their states harbor two leading renewable energy companies, who, as a result of the loss of tax credits, are moving operations abroad. He criticized the fact that utilities make money from a rate structure that encourages selling more energy rather than less. He bemoaned the fact that there is no tax on carbon, with revenues being rebated to the public through abolition of the payroll tax. And so on.

What he didn't do, however, was rake Obama and the Dems over the coals on the energy issue. This is an amazing oversight, given that everyone agrees that the economy and jobs are going to be the key issues in the election. Obama has hedged and fudged on domestic oil drilling, supports "clean coal" and "safe" nuclear power, but has yet to connect these and the things Friedman raised to his campaign or the election.

Once again, the Democrats are running a campaign out of fear, not principle, not science, not equity, not justice. Like their refusal to come all out for a single payer universal health plan overseen by the government and funded through the income tax, they are dropping the the energy ball, even though the energy issue offers them by far and without a doubt a HUGE opportunity to present the public with a serious and comprehensive economic plan to restore jobs and renovate American industry, transportation and infrastructure.

Why are the Democrats self-destructing again? The answer is quite simple. When your opponent is as cravenly hypocritical and inept and wrongheaded as McCain is, there is no point in playing your strong card when you can win with your weak one. Once again the Dems are taking liberals and their party faithful for granted by saying: you guys have nowhere else to go so stop your whining, you know you will vote for us no matter what. This is cynicism and contempt writ large.

So we must ask: where have the liberals been? What have they been doing? Well, we know many of them have been protesting the war. Many of them are defending Roe vs. Wade. Many are pushing gay rights. Many are protesting racism and poverty.

Duh. They have been doing this for years. When was the last time a liberal Democrat walked into her congressman's office, slammed a fist on the table, and said: I want single payer universal health care, I want it now, and I DONT want anything else. When was the last time she walked into that office and slammed a fist down and said: I want a tax on carbon and gasoline, and I want the money from that to replace the payroll tax. I want it NOW and I dont want anything less.

The big question, however, is this: when was the last time a Democrat, or a liberal group or PAC, said to that congressman: if you don't do this, I won't vote for you. And when was the last time a Democrat withheld her vote because her congressman didn't listen to her? Didn't vote for him at all? Or voted for Ralph Nader? When was the last time that a liberal lobby marched into the capitol demanding an energy bill that did all the things that Friedman says we need?...carbon taxes, an end to fossil fuel subsidies, renewable energy tax credits, mandatory energy efficiency standards and measures?

When was the last time that anyone, any GROUP or movement, put energy and environment first? When they finally understood that these issues are the most important and urgent issues of the day? That we have a global ecological crisis that results directly from economic (and population) growth and overconsumption?
When was the last time that anyone but an environmentalist said out loud:
Economic growth must end. What are the chances that the Democrats will say or do anything about these things?

What should liberals do? Here's what they should do. They should make it clear to the Democratic Party and to their Democratic congressmen that THEY WILL NEVER VOTE FOR THEM AGAIN, or for Obama, unless he and the party get off their butts and get serious, and unless the party stops taking them for granted. They should lay it on the line: we don't care if our vote helps McCain win, because the Democrat/Obama energy policy not only isn't much better than McCain's, but even if it is marginally better, it is completely inadequate and, worst of all, dishonest and misleading.

Unless enrolled Democrats and liberals and their pressure groups speak out loud and clear and say that their vote is up for grabs, Obama not only won't win but he won't DESERVE to win.

Don't let the Democrats hoodwink and blackmail you again. Tell the Dems:
defecate or get off the pot.

Lorna Salzman

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Fidelity to Fact

I don't want to step on Alex's important post, but also want to make a real point about politics and the media. So, read what Alex wrote, and then click read more below to join me on the jump.

Following the presidential conventions, I knew that Bill Moyer's Journal would feature a conversation between Moyers and Kathleen Hall Jamieson. I tuned in to Moyer's Journal on PBS last night and was not disappointed. It was a particularly pointed conversation because both McCain and Palin had taken shots at the Liberal Media. Of course, Liberal Media Bias has always been part of the Rush Limbaugh rant and this time it became almost a chant in St. Paul.

What Jamieson did was to indicate that there is nothing sexist about the media questioning the readiness of any of the candidates.
Is it fair to ask about the experience of any candidate for vice president? Of course. Any candidate for president? Of course. And it isn't sexist or racist to raise that question.
However, she had little patience for those who, in the haste to break a story, get it wrong.
Now you have a moment in which journalism has deceived its audience because in the rush to make this point about possible hypocrisy, a major commentator (Soledad Obrien) on a major network (CNN) has asserted as fact something which doesn't hold up. It took the FactCheck.org researcher that I called on my staff about four hours to get back to the primary research documents.
In fact, the story that Soledad used had been circulating on the internet for a while before she, or her producer, grabbed it.

Moyer's raised the question that all of us should be asking, what are we to do when we can't trust the media. Jamieson had analyzed this in terms of the 2004 election.
The problem is that one can't trust anymore from some of these sources that there's going to be a fidelity to fact in the presence of contest. One of the things that we showed in 2004, from the National Annenberg Election Survey, was that those who are reliant on Rush Limbaugh and on Fox News accepted the Republican view of the facts.

Those reliant on NPR and CNN were more likely to accept the Democratic view of the contested facts. Now sometimes there's legitimate contest. Sometimes, however, what you essentially had was spin and distortion on each side. Those who are relying on newspapers and traditional forms of news were still more likely to hold a non-contested view of those facts.
The further we get away from any sense that elections have anything to do with the contest of ideas. the more I sense that we are vulnerable to a fascist pupulism and that scares the hell out of me especially as newspapers seem to be losing readership daily.

Baldwin Hills Oil: 'Drill, Baby, Drill' -- Through the Heart of Obama Country

"Drill, baby, drill!" - was a popular cheer at the 2008 Republican National Convention. It's a parody of "Burn, baby, burn," the infamous cry during the 1965 Watts rebellion in Los Angeles. Ironically, it was former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, one of the Republican Party's very few prominent black politicians, leading the cheer for the riot of the privileged:

"So, do you want to put your country first? Then let's reduce our dependency on foreign sources of oil and promote oil and gas production at home. In other words: Drill, baby, drill! And drill now!"

Baldwin Hills in Los Angeles, View Park, Windsor Hills, and Ladera Heights, are some of the most prominent middle-class African-American neighborhoods in the United States. Blacks are more than 70% of Baldwin Hills' population. After Blacks began moving there in the 1960s, it was nicknamed the "Golden Ghetto" and the "Black Beverly Hills." It has been home to celebrities like Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, Tina Turner and the late Los Angeles Mayor, Tom Bradley. Black Entertainment Television (BET) used the setting for the "Baldwin Hills" television show.

The Fight Over the Baldwin Hills Oil Field
(Visit: www.baldwinhillsoil.org)

The two-square-mile Baldwin Hills Oil Field is the last large-scale undeveloped open space in South and West Los Angeles. The Oil Field has operated since 1924. Over time, it naturally becomes harder to extract oil for old wells until at some point they become unprofitable. In recent years the field had almost played out. As the oil companies have left, a large area has been designated the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. For years, the old field and the surrounding nice residential neighborhoods coexisted. But this is the era when everything you ever thought you could rely on from American business - job security, health care, pensions, or even honest accounting - is old fashioned.

Plains Exploration and Production Company (PXP) based in (where else?) Houston, Texas wants to drill up to 1,000 new wells over the next 20 years. Next week there will be what is expected to be a contentious public hearing:

Los Angeles County Planning Commission
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Hall of Administration,
Room 381B
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

PXP has been packing hearings with their employees while public comment has been severely limited. It time for the entire California Green Movement to get involved in this fight.

Environmental Impact Report

The Baldwin Hills area has included oil and gas production since the 1920s, when the area was largely underdeveloped. Today, the oil field operates in the middle of a densely-populated urban area. The Oil Field has operated since 1924 without community oversight or an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to assess its impact on community health and safety.

In 2006, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors placed a temporary restriction on drilling new oil wells or deepening existing wells. That restriction expired on June 28, 2008 just as a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was released by the County. The oil field operator, Plains Exploration and Production Company (PXP), proposes to expand the drilling. The 60-day public comment period for the Draft EIR was set to expire on August 19. Representatives from community groups such as the Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance (GBHA), Mujeres de la Tierra , Culver Crest Neighborhood Association, and others have all petitioned for additional time to review the 800-plus pages of the Draft EIR.

Community Standards District

A Community Standards District (CSD) is a site specific zoning ordinance setting standards and regulations on oil drilling and production. It sets forth the conditions under which drilling can occur, while providing a mechanism to increase public oversight, monitoring, enforcement and accountability.

The Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance recommendations include:

  • Eliminate potential health risks and environmental impacts associated with the oil field operation through consolidation

  • Provide enforceable environmental and health protections including monitoring sanctions and penalties

  • Provide for the clean up and eventual transition of the land to parkland consistent with the Baldwin Hills Park Master Plan

  • Support residential living, open space, recreation, schools, critical habitats and improve the current aesthetics of the oil field

  • Establish oversight from a multi-sector advisory committee including residents.

More on Baldwin Hills and African-Americans in L.A.

From The City Project Web Site

Professor Josh Sides describes the unique role of the Baldwin Hills in the history of African Americans in Los Angeles and across the nation:

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, blacks had pushed west and south of West Adams into Leimert Park and the exclusive area of Baldwin Hills, which quickly became the heart of affluent black Los Angeles, a position it still holds today. A five-square-mile area of unincorporated hillside west of Leimert Park/ Crenshaw and south of West Adams, Baldwin Hills boasted large homes and expansive views. Largely undeveloped until the 1940s, hundreds of houses and apartment complexes were built there in the 1950s. As they had in Compton, blacks moved into new and large homes, with an average of four to six bedrooms per household. African Americans in Baldwin Hills were generally much better educated than their South Central counterparts, a fact that translated into greater job opportunities in the post-boom economy.

Accordingly, just over 71 percent of all employed African Americans in Baldwin Hills were white-collar workers. . .

In addition to superior housing, residents of Baldwin Hills and the nearby Leimert Park and Crenshaw areas also enjoyed many more conveniences as consumers. While many Watts and Willowbrook residents were forced to buy groceries at overpriced liquor stores, Baldwin Hills residents had other options. The Crenshaw Shopping Center, opened in 1947, as one of the first planned suburban malls in the United States, was the most popular shopping area for local residents. And, during the 1960s, the Baldwin Hills Center and the Ladera Center also opened, offering residents even greater selection and convenience. . .

Perhaps the greatest advantage to residing in Baldwin Hills was the superior quality of the area's public schools. In 1971, the Los Angeles Department of City Planning described Baldwin Hills public schools as the "the best schools of any city area inhabited primarily by black people" and on par with those in West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley." In addition to boasting low dropout rates and small class sizes relative to public schools in Watts and South Central, public schools in Baldwin Hills were also more racially integrated. . .

Environmental Hazards

There is a delicate balance between the interests of the oil company to harvest local oil wells and maintaining the environment for people living in surrounding communities.
Baldwin Hills Oil Rig
A couple enjoys trail in a state park in the Baldwin Hills just a few steps away from a PXP oil pump. Photo from Los Angeles WAVE, September 4, 2008.

The by-products of oil production include: Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene, collectively know as BTEX. Getting the crude oil from the ground in old wells requires water into the ground to force the crude oil to the surface. This creates an empty space or movement of a fault line. Also, extracting oil causes gases to rise to the surface through fault lines.

"Backyard bonanza or environmental time bomb?"
by Gregg Reese, Our Weekly, July 3 - July 6, 2008

Mark Salkin became involved in this issue as the president of the Culver City Crest Home Owners Association two and a half years ago, when the Plains Exploration & Production Company (PXP), which currently owns the Baldwin Hills extraction field, struck a methane deposit in the process of drilling for oil. The subsequent link made several residents sick (with out any fatalities), and the county became involved with allegations that PXP was not observing environmental safety guidelines.
Salkin told Our Weekly that he was given a personal tour of the oil facility by PXP Vice President Steve Rusch a few years ago, and observed numerous sites in production or in an exploratory mode. . .

derricks in the area are out in the open for all to see, with little or no cosmetic enhancement. All this is in sharp contrast to pumps located in Beverly Hills (where image is paramount), say critics. One notable well sits right next to Beverly Hills High encased in a ten story structure that has been artfully decorated as well as sound proofed to mask the gyrations of the contraption inside. Derricks in other parts of the southland from Long Beach to West L.A. have been tastefully obscured via shrubbery or other methods of camouflage. . .

Why Baldwin Hills? Why Now? -- Sending a Message Ain't Nothing Gonna Change

Last year, Bill Boyarsky reported on Truthdig.com that this area was not only a rich source of votes and support for Sen. Barack Obama, but also a source of significant campaign donations.

"Listening to America's Black Middle Class"
By Bill Boyarsky, Truthdig, October 11, 2007.

I got interested in the middle-class contributions while digging into the Obama campaign.

A couple of longtime black politicians told me that the size of Obama contributions from their community was big. "I've never seen so many African-Americans with a lot of money," one of them said. "I didn't know there was that much wealth."

The phenomenon is occurring in prosperous black areas across the country. A few months ago, USA Today surveyed political giving in nearly 600 ZIP codes that included a substantial number of African-American households with incomes above the black national median household income of $31,000 a year. Obama received about 70 percent of the contributions.

I looked at an area I know, View Park and Windsor Hills in Los Angeles. This is not the bleak black and Latino L.A. so beloved by filmmakers, television stations and newspapers which immerse themselves almost exclusively in black crime and other tragedies. Big, luxurious homes adorn this hillside several miles northwest of the poor neighborhoods in the South Los Angeles flatlands. View Park and Windsor Hills are 88 percent black, with a median household income of $73,118, the U.S. Census reported, more than the Los Angeles County household total of $51,447. Almost 70 percent of the people living there are families.

. . .

What is as interesting as the horse race is the nature of the Obama contributors. Among them in Los Angeles' View Park and Windsor Hills are a producer, a chief executive officer of a business consulting company, a nationwide bank senior vice president, lawyers and a restaurant owner.

California state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas, who is campaigning for Obama, said the Illinois senator's message resonates strongly with such people. "His vision of hope and morality and basic centrist politics is grounded in a moral sensibility that is hard to argue with," Ridley-Thomas said.

Today State Sen. Ridley-Thomas and City Councilman Bernard Parks are competing for an open seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Ridley-Thomas backed Obama early when most of California's prominent Black Democrats were backing Sen. Hillary Clinton. Blogger Ari L. Noonan wryly noted that Councilman Parks
"lives within sniffing distance of the Baldwin Hills oil field." Parks has been embarrassed by the disclosure that he accepted a campaign contribution from PXP in his last campaign for mayor.

Baldwin Hills TVAfter African-Americans began moving into Baldwin Hills in the 1960s, it was nicknamed the "Golden Ghetto" and the "Black Beverly Hills." It has been home to celebrities like Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, Tina Turner and the late Los Angeles Mayor, Tom Bradley. Black Entertainment Television (BET) used the setting for the "Baldwin Hills" television show.

Karen BassIn the California State Assembly, this area is represented by Karen Bass, another big Obama supporter and the first African-American woman to serve as speaker of a state assembly in the history of the United States.

Two points.

First, this is exactly the sort of community all the Democratic and Republican hacks pretend to love whenever they rant and foam about the supposedly "forgotten" hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding, American middle class. Second, this specific community is second only to the Hyde Park section of Chicago as the heart of Barack Obama Country.

Corporate America is sending a message that for all the talk about "change! change! change!" from the one corporate party with two names, ain't nothing gonna change and it will be business as usual on January 20th.

From "Burn, Baby, Burn" in 2001 to "Drill, Baby, Drill" in 2008.

In 2001, California was plunged into an unprecedented energy crisis: rolling blackouts, soaring power bills, a panicked state government. Turned out the Golden State was being systematically ripped-off. Documents and audiotapes proved Houston-based Enron Corporation asked power companies to take plants offline - in order to make more money. In one taped phone call, an Enron employee celebrated the fact that a massive forest fire had shut down a transmission line:

ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: Now, the magical word of the day is "Burn, baby, burn."
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: What's happening?
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: There's a fire under the core line. This will delay us from 45 to 2,100.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: Really. Burn, baby, burn!

When Michael Steele cried "Drill, Baby, Drill!" to the GOP faithful, maybe he wasn't thinking about Watts in 1965. Maybe he was thinking about Enron's battle cry in 2001.

Less than a decade later, thanks to the terrifying spike in oil prices, the energy greedheads and carbon pushers are trying to stampede Californians into accepting offshore oil drilling and new drilling in old wells even though all the experts agree this will have no impact on the global marketplace for oil. As I write this, the "Drill, Baby, Drill" crowd is pushing hard for offshore drilling in Santa Barbara, Long Beach, Monterey Bay, and even off Point Reyes (see www.environmentcalifornia.org).

And always, always, they try to divide us and rule us by playing off class, religious, and "racial" differences.

Will you let them get away with it?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Community Organizer

A potter friend of mine put the following quip on a pottery related e-list today. I think it is a good example of just how badly some twist words to mean what they want them to.
Jesus was a community organizer.
Pontius Pilate was a Governor.
Now Lee Love used to be a Green so I guess I can quote him here.

Liberal Media part of Vast Right-wing Conspiracy

When Sarah Palin took the podium to accept the VP nomination, she did not remind me in the least of Hillary Clinton. In that, I am joined by many women. Still, when she opened up on the liberal media, she did begin to sound a bit like the Senator from NY. Only Hillary found the media to be part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." I guess we get it both ways. Still, I need to explain why getting both major parties pissed off in not necessarily a sign of good journalism.

As an avid consumer of journalism, or that which passes for it these days, I most frequently find that no one is asking the questions I would like to see answered. For example, here is what I would like to ask Ms. Palin... or, in fact all Presidential or Vice-Presidential Candidates:
  • Do you really believe that the world is getting warmer, as many scientists claim?
  • Assuming that they say "yes" then: Do you believe that it is caused, or made worse, by our acts as citizens?
  • Again, assuming a "yes" answer: How do you explain your current energy policy given what you just said about global warming?
  • Is, as some, including the US Military, claim that Global Warming is a Global Security Issue, what are you doing to keep the US safe from it's effects.
None of these candidates have a good answer. Not one of the mainstream media journalists would be willing to ask. How about it, Lehrer, Browkaw, Schieffer? Are you up to this or are you afraid that your network will lose ad revenue if you get too tough?

What I, as a voter, want to hear, are the answers to the real concerns that I have and I want the follow up to expose the inconsistencies when they are obvious. Nothing would be more obvious than the ones that are so evident in the candidates (all of them) public positions on global warming and energy.

I will not hold my breath. We will not get to hear real ideas unless Barr and McKinney are invited as well. Talk of experience: Both were in Congress longer than Obama.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

What really happened at the RNC.

I really love David Roberts summary of what went on so far that the RNC. You can read the whole thing at Gristmill, or just this summary.
To be fair, the speeches by Giuliani and Palin were masterful examples of the art form. Giuliani knows how to use mockery and contempt like few other speakers, and Palin clearly relished playing the "pit bull with make-up." They got in some great lines and put the crowd in a frenzy. I bet if you polled Republicans right now more of them would support Palin than McCain.

But do they think this is going to win it for them in a year of economic downturn and Democratic ascendancy? More tax cuts and foreign policy belligerence? More oil company populism? The base rallying strategy, again? I'm not sure what else they've got in their quiver, but some part of me thought they'd try something new. Seems not. It's going to be a long, ugly 60 days.

Clean Coal is a Dirty Lie

Sarah Palin was put forward as the Republican expert on Energy. She did show a lot of energy in her speech, quick to the attack, pausing only for effect on the zingers she shot. However, when it came to the subject of energy policy, she showed a remarkable lack of knowledge when putting forward the suggestion that America should work for Clean Coal.

Let me give a good example of what clean coal really means. It begins with the removal of a mountain top and the filling of valleys to expose the coal. This is not the old time strip mining, unless that practice were on steroids. There are more photos here.

Let me remind you that the Green Party affiliate, the Mountain Party of West Virginia, is a leader in the fight against such ravages to the environment. Still, that is only the beginning.

There was a major Federal program under the administration of George "W" Bush that was intended to develop a new technology for coal fired power plants. It was called the NextGen program. There is an industry council formed by leading coal producers that is leading the way in convincing everyone that this is a real possibility sometime out in the distant future. Now, they are talking about 2015.

Of course, they have not stopped to consider that the continued expansion of conventional coal fired plants... even the continued operation of existing plants... will quite possibly push the current global warming past a tipping point. That, my friends, is a risk that the Republicans... and the Democrats... want you to take.

What none of them tell you is that the US Dept. of Energy scrapped the FutureGen clean coal project in 2008.
The DOE last year signed an agreement with the FutureGen Alliance, a coalition of coal and oil companies, to spend about $950 million on a demonstration coal-fired power plant that injects carbon dioxide emissions underground. Last December, a site for the FutureGen project in Matoon, Ill., was announced by the Alliance.
It was deemed to be too expensive for the payback.

DOE is turning to Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) as a solution to the problem of the buildup of Greenhouse Gasses, the prime cause of global warming. While some things work, others are still very, very expensive and, we don't have the time if we are going to stop the warming of this planet.

When Sarah Palin puts on her Peabody Energy hat and talks about clean coal, you know that it may lead to votes but it is ultimately only a lot more hot air that we can't afford to have around.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Obama McCain Energy Smackdown

Sheril Kirshenbaum is both a scientist and a writer with political savvy. She is an active blogger at ScienceBlogs.com, writing both on the Intersection (with Chris Mooney) and on the energy blog, NextGen, an energy blog effort funded by Shell.

In today's posts (both places) Kirshembaum writes about the McCain / Obama Energy Policies. While Obama responded to a questionnaire, McCain has failed to do so. I am not surprised.

I think you all should read the pieces, but I will take the comments that I left at NextGen and paste them here.
I don't get it. McCain says that he wants to address global warming, sets a target that is not going to really do the job, and then comes out with a list of policies that guarantees the fact that we will never achieve the target.

And not one calls him on it?

The Republicans complain about liberal bias in the press and then the press lest him get away with this. Complain about liberal bias, arrest Amy Goodman, and you can get away with saying anything as long as you sound sincere.

I am waiting for a journalist with a real understanding of the science to drill down though the muck and make both of these candidates explain the inconsistencies in their public statements.
The key point that I am getting at is that you can make lowering gas prices and feeding America's energy addiction as your main emphasis, but you will do so at the price of making global warming worse. In the long run, that is one dumb decision.

We don't know how to control nuclear waste. We have no policies at all about controlling nuclear contamination of mining, transportation and storage of uranum before it is used. But, both of these candidates would give even more of our tax dollars to the nuclear industry and McCain does not want to "interfere with the market" by subsidizing renewable systems like solar or wind. This is not the action of anyone who should board a straight talk express.

The same goes for policies regarding coal. Lots of people involved in coal mining and they all vote. Nope, we will not stop burning coal as long as their is a politicians who would rather be elected than stop slow down global warming. I hate the idea of quoting John Stossel but "Give me a break."