Sunday, November 30, 2008

Green Recovery

This is a little late form most. I just found out that there will be a live webcast from the Center for American Progress on the subject of Green Recovery tomorrow. It will run from 12:00 to 1:30 EST.

I mention this because the Center for American Progress has a very strong relationship to the Obama Administration. Many of the key figures (e.g. Podesta, Daschle) come from there and other are widely scattered throughout the second tier of both the transition team and incoming White House Staff.

Thus, when they get down to talking about the Green Economy, we probably ought to listen.
At a time of fiscal belt tightening, when some would put environmental priorities on the back burner, there are many who believe that investing in a green economy now is the best way to achieve both short and long term economic solutions. A recent paper by the Center for American Progress and the University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute, "Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low Carbon Economy," finds that to promote economic mobility, growth, job creation, and regain technological leadership in the global innovation marketplace, we must fundamentally change how we produce and consume energy in this country and transform our economy to a low-carbon model. Investing in clean energy and efficiency will enable the United States to regain technological leadership in the global innovation marketplace, grow our economy, reduce global warming emissions, and invest in national security.
Introduction by:
Joseph Romm, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

Featured Speakers:
Governor Ed Rendell (D - PA)
Thomas Friedman, columnist, New York Times; author, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution -- and How It Can Renew America
Carol Browner, Principal, The Albright Group LLC

Moderated by:
Bracken Hendricks, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress


Saturday, November 29, 2008

We may have taken a few steps

but we are not there yet. I hope that no one thinks the election of Barack Obama means that we have finally put race behind us in America. We are a long way from that goal. Click Read more! to see just how far we have to go.

A friend from a small town east of Denver told me this story.
A sixth grader told the art teacher that all the economic woes were Obama's fault. When the teacher pointed out to the eleven year old wheat farmer's son that it would be two months before Obama would be president, the kid replied "oh good then there is still time to shoot him."

That is just one more example of the casual racism that still inhabits so many minds and inhibits us from being what we could be. A writer at High Country News told his own story of the Persistence of Bigotry in America. This was from a rural community on the other side of Colorado. Paolo Bacigalupi writes about breakfast at a diner shortly after the election.
She turned to the other waitress, a soft woman with an apple-pie demeanor.

"What was that one about the Rose Garden?"

The other waitress came over, warm and motherly. "Why are they tearing up the Rose Garden at the White House?" she asked, smiling. A beat, and then, "Because they're putting in a watermelon patch."

"Wow, I guess that's sort of funny."

"You get it if you're from the South," she said.

"We've heard the stereotype," my friend scowled, but I didn't want him to cut short our little anthropological spelunking into casual racism just yet.

Reminder: Colorado voted FOR Obama. 54 to 46. At least San Miguel County, where Green Art Goodtimes in a County Commissioner proved to be more liberal than most.

The best thing for America would be for Obama to prove to be a damned good president. It won't be good for Greens, though, since he will have to act on many of our key issues to accomplish that. Then what will we do?

Secretary of Food

I have, on occasion, made reference to Michael Pollan and his ideas about food. My earth day comments included a reference to Pollan's statement that you can do more to combat global warming by planting a garden than by installing CFL's. More recently, I referred to his recent letter to President-elect Obama that was published in the NY Times Magazine.

Last night, I watched Bill Moyers Journal as Moyers asked Pollan what he would do were he to become the Secretary of Agriculture in the Obama administration. Click Read more! to get my take.

I rarely get the opportunity to get ahead of Moyers. Maybe this time I was successful because he was on vacation. My Green Talk column in the very local Morgan Hill Times this week got at the same issue, though not as directly.
Still, I am of the opinion that possibly the single most important appointment the new president will make is to the position of Secretary of Agriculture. We have gone through an era in which the family farm has disappeared, in which factory farms and multinational corporations like ADM dominate not only the market but also the politics of agriculture.

There are two issues here. One is the fact that, as Pollan told Moyers that have to understand that that department of the government, the $90 billion a year behemoth is captive of agri-business. It is owned by agri-business. They're in the room making policy there.
I agree with Pollan that making change in Agriculture has to go through Nancy Pelosi. We not only need to watch Obama's choice for Sec. of Agriculture, we need to pay attention to Pelosi's appointment to the Chairmanship of the House Committee on Agriculture. In the past, that committee has been loaded with Representatives from the mid-western farm states and California's Centeral Valley. They represent farm interests meaning ADM, Cargill and Blue Diamond Walnuts. (Yes. it get's that specific.) No one on that committee makes a habit of representing consumers for any other issue than driving down the prices of food and driving the family farms out of business.

There are a couple of actions that we can take. The easy one is to go sign a petition to Obama to name Pollan Secretary of Agriculture. As he told Moyers, he won't take it but getting some names on the petition is one way to make a statement without having to really do anything else.

More to the point, we need to create pressure on Pelosi in every way that we can. That means writing letters / OpEds to the San Francisco Chronicle, Challenging Michael Krasny to put Pollan on KQED's FORUM program again and then following up with call-ins and email questions. As I said at the end of my MH Times Column...
Even in my own Green Party it is not easy to get people to think of agriculture in this way. It challenges many deeply held, but false beliefs in how the real systems work. I am working to change that, in my community, in my party, in the whole country. Join me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Black Agenda Report supports Rahim

Maybe I should wait for Alex Walker to comment on this, but having gotten a news alert on the subject, I decided that this can not wait. In an editorial published yesterday in the Black Agenda Report, Managing Editor Bruce Dixon calls on people from all over to support Malik Rahim.

There are many things to be thankful for this season. One of them is that fact that there appears to be a crack developing in the automatic assumption that all who consider themselves to be black, or African America... the choice of phrase is theirs, not mine.... will vote Democratic. That assumption, putting identity politics at the top of election criteria, has led to the continued re-election of some very bad people. William Jefferson goes to the top of this list.

In the opening paragraph, Dixon lays out the basic question for us, will online support deliver the :
The December 6 New Orleans congressional election isn't just a local choice between a privatizing "minority" Republican, a notoriously corrupt Democrat and a caring, competent community organizer running on the Green Party ticket. In these times when anyone, anywhere can contribute to the efforts of real progressives with the click of a mouse, or volunteer to reach undecided voters, the days leading to this election are a test of whether there exists even the shadow of a national movement mature enough to hold any black Democrats the least bit accountable to the needs of his constituents

As is often the case, the Republican and the Democrat represent more of the same. But this time there's another choice. Emphasis is mine.
From that challenging introduction, Dixon goes on to develop the stark contrast between Jefferson and Rahim, focusing on their very different reactions to the plight of New Orleans following hurricane Katrina.

I noted one Green's name in the comments after this editorial, so I know that the word is getting out. There is not much time to do more... December 6 is not far off. Contributions will always be accepted and there is a real need for people to participate in phone banking, which you can do from the comfort of your home. It will do more to make you feel good than a second helping Thanksgiving dessert.

Monday, November 24, 2008

How smart is your grid?

UCLA economic professor Matthew Kahn has a blog devoted to Urban and Environmental Economics. According to today's post (linked above) IBM has been taking out full page ads in the NY Times, lobbying for a "Smart Energy Grid". This is not new from IBM. The company set up a coalition with Center Point Energy to digitize electrical grids.

I note that the idea of a smart grid has come out of the mouth of Obama on more than one occasion as a prerequisite for the deployment of wind and solar system.

Matthew Kahn is professor of economics at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and a research associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Environmental and Energy Economics Group. He’s author of Green Cities: Urban Growth and the Environment.

Kahn says that he will be on NPR tomorrow(Nov. 24th). The show is On Point and the subject is Obama and the Green Economy. Unfortunately it will not be carried from KQED or other local public stations. So, I will have to download it later if I want to listen, and I do.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How much change can we handle?

In my most recent posts, I have focused on the fact that the Democratic Party seems hell bent on returning William Jefferson to Congress from the 2nd Congressional District in Louisiana. This at a time when these same Democrats are cheering over their defeat of Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens. Both Jefferson and Stevens suffer from the same malady, they are apparently crooks. The only difference is that Stevens has been convicted and Jefferson still awaits trial, even though one of his aides has confessed, been sentenced and has agreed to testify against Jefferson.

This indicates that a lot of change is still required from both parties. There is one broad where the scope of the changes that this nations required so vast, the special interests so entrenched that you would question whether anything will change at all. I am talking about the conjoined problems of climate change, energy and the environment. Follow me to Read more!

Bill Becker, writing today at Climate Progress, makes the following assertion.
America’s de facto energy policy is a hodgepodge of self-defeating laws, programs and subsidies. Congress must make a critical decision: We either have to phase out fossil fuels or abandon any pretense that we care about climate change, despite its profound implications for public health, national security, peace and economic stability.
That hodgepodge has been crafted based on the inputs from all of those special interests that bring so much weight to bear on Congress, who can send armies of experts to testify at hearings and whose bottom line interest is just that, the bottom line.

Becker goes on to outline a basic action plan for the Obama Administration. As the head of the Presidential Climate Action Project, he has been responsible for the development of a series of policy statements that truly call for significant change.

What I fear is that we have a group of policy wonks who are buried in think tanks talking to themselves and nodding in agreement over the good things that they do. At the same time, we have an entire array of apparently well meaning people who are clearly not committed to any kind of change, conservative in the sense that they want to maintain the status quo, lacking the imagination to envision a new future.

Democrats talk about the need to support union jobs, while the Teamster's union calls for more drilling, more oil, exploitation of Canada's tar sands or the US large reserves of oil shale even though the results would be catastrophic, not only for climate change but also for fresh water supplies that need to be preserved as rainfall patterns change and our population continues to grow. I am not sure why we support unions that do not support us but that is a subject for a different discussion.

With think tanks policy wonks talking to each other and politicians making profound public displays of intention we often forget that the public is still not on board and that many legislators fear a public backlash that could cost them their seats. One of our Senators, Barbara Boxer chairs the Senate Energy and Public Works Committee and would appear to be in position to create the kind of forward thinking plans that we need. She surely sounded that way this week.

My skepticism about the wide chasm between public pronouncements and implementable policy is expressed in this week's GPCA press release, expressing the same agreement with the expressed intent of Governor Schwarzenegger's Global Climate Conference but asking that he replace Mary Nichols as Chair of the Air Resources Board specifically because the board has, under her leadership, abandoned compliance and put all of her faith in the same market mechanisms that failed when she introduced pollution credit trading as an assistant administrator of the US EPA.

We need to establish the fact that Green Change is somehow different, more attuned to the needs of the individual, of the public at large and not just another rant against the status quo. Rather than talking truth to power we need to be talking the future to the electorate; where are we going and how are we going to get there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fraud is the family business

I was highly motivated to get further into politics by Pete McCloskey and the Revolt of the Elders committee that he set up. The purpose was to clean up the Republican Party, especially to purge those members of the House of Representatives who had betrayed its purpose and trashed what honor it still had.

That same motivation led me to pay more attention to a Louisiana Congressman known as Cold Cash Jefferson who this month faces both a re-elect and a trial on corruption charges. Then, today, in the Times-Picayune, I read that fraud seems to be the family business. Details when you click Read more!.

I was really trying to confirm the trial date for Congressman Jefferson when I stumbled on this item about the trial of two others from his family.
The federal fraud trial of Mose and Betty Jefferson, two of U.S. Rep. William Jefferson's elder siblings, has been postponed until Feb. 9.

The trial had been set for Dec. 1, but the Jeffersons' original lawyer, Ike Spears, was disqualified from the case at the government's request. Mose Jefferson has since retained Arthur "Buddy" Lemann, while Betty Jefferson -- who is also the city's 4th District assessor -- is represented by Eddie Castaing.

Mose and Betty Jefferson , along with Betty Jefferson's daughter, Angela Coleman, are charged with bilking a group of charities they controlled of more than $600,000.
It is more than interesting to see an assessor on trial for fraud. It makes me wonder just how many tax dollars are being collected from those with the money to make a contribution. Such a contrast. Malik Rahim pours all he has into Common Ground Collective and the Jeffersons take a $600,000 from a charity.

This kind of corruption has to be stopped, now. This election. Tall everyone you know to contibute to the Campaign of Malik Rahim. You can read about the good he has done, in comparison to the Jeffersons, at this link and you can contribute here.

Malik Rahim Update

According to the Times-Picayune, early voting begins today in Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District. Now, more than ever, this campaign needs our help. If you have not yet done so, click Malik's name at the top of the right side menu's and contribute. Sending William Jefferson back to Congress would be a travesty of justice and bring even more shame on this institution. It will add his name to the list those who have soiled what should be the People's House of Representatives.

  • Dan Rostenkowski - "In 1996, he pleaded guilty to reduced charges of mail fraud. He was fined and was sentenced to 17 months in prison, of which he served 15. Rostenkowski was pardoned in Dec. 2000 by US President Bill Clinton." Source: Wikipedia.
  • Randy "Duke" Cunningham - "Cunningham resigned from the House on November 28, 2005 after pleading guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes and under reporting his income for 2004. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion." Source: Wikipedia

Monday, November 17, 2008

What is Pat LaMarche doing now?

I assume that you all remember Pat. She was the Veep candidate who tan with David Cobb in 2004. For some that put her on their enemy list just behind Buch, Cheney and Cobb himself.

Well, not being one to just talk about things, she is down in New Orleans helping out with Malik Rahim's campaign. The following was posted as being the contents of a note from Pat.
please tell everyone we love them and we have a campaign that actually could win.

please tell them that i was at the common ground collective today and met a woman returning to her home in the ninth ward tomorrow for the first time in three years. tell them that she was so happy and it was malik and common ground that made it possible. then tell them that after malik got her some lunch because her life is so hectic today... that she told me about her brother dying ... drowning as he helped her save their children's lives.

please tell everyone that this is a man they can help new orleans send to congress and we are doing the best we can... but we need the international leverage... money.

help!!!!! anyone thinking of coming here to hellp..... donate the amount you would have paid for your plane ticket. he has such a great organization here... it only needs fuel for the engine and unfortuantely that's money.

we can do this.
Thank you for the update, Pat... and for the story. We need to make sure that everyone understand the stark contrast that exists between Rahim and Jefferson. While one was rebuilding New Orleans, the other was stocking up his freezer.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Good Green Advice

I've been reading Green Collar Economy by Van Jones. In this book, Jones suggests that the environmental movement... and I am suggesting the Green Party... needs to change it's narrative. In biblical terms, Jones says that the story of environmental activism has been that of David and Goliath, of the individual against the big, bad corporation, Erin Brockovich, the career of Ralph Nader.

While there is a need for a David at time, he did not save the earth, Noah did. Jones suggests that we need to change our goals from those of David to those of Noah and offers a some principles to explain what that means. I would agree. I have challenged more than a few to consider global warming and to ask themselves "What would Noah do?" Click Read more! for a list and my interpretation of what that means for the Green Party of California.

Jones suggest that we need to deal with:

* Fewer "issues," and more solutions.
* Fewer "demands, " more goals.
* Fewer "targets, " more partners.
* Less "accusation, " more confession.
* Less "cheap patriotism," more deep patriotism.

This is a rich enough field that I will take his principles one at a time.

Fewer "issues".

Jones states the obvious when he says that "defining any cause based on a negative can lead to a great deal of negativity." Negativity may not get you to your goal. I offer the example of the efforts to stop all new nuclear power plants. While the rationale is obvious to those of us who would act on this, then answer is always "then how are you going to meet our energy needs." Would it not not be better to spend the effort on Green Solutions that make the nuclear option unnecessary?

If I look at the major problems facing California today: the annual conflagrations that sweep the state, the annual budgetary impasse in Sacramento as symptomatic of a failed fiscal policy, the every day growing problems to supply our state, both urban and rural with a supply of water for agriculture, industry and households, I find a singular lack of Green Solutions.

Jones quotes Julia Butterfly Hill as saying "Many of us have gotten so good at defining what we are against that what we are against has started to define us."

Over the next two years, we have an opportunity to make a major contribution in California by becoming advocates for sensible solutions at the nexus of global warming, energy and the economy. The risks of doing this are few. Politics as usual will not deliver solutions for the people, only carve up the economic pie in a different way. Republicans are afraid of the ghost of Howard Jarvis and will block any effort to introduce new taxes unless they are disguised as usage fees. Democrats will never back down on funding of government services where the service delivery is backed by large scale union demands.

In the past summer, California's legislature was over 90 days late in delivering a budget. When they did, we were already so far into a recession that they must have know it would not hold. However the pressure to pass a budget, any budget, was so great that they compromised by postponing the day of reckoning until they would all be out of office and someone else would have to clean up the mess.

While there is need to continue participating in the drive for equality under the law, something that those for Prop 8 lied about, we have to find the energy to do more than one thing at a time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sierra Club took on Big Coal and won... mabe.

Here is the original announcement from the Sierra Club site of an EPA ruling that may shut down all new coal fired power plants for a while. Rather strange that it comes so late in the Bush administration. Must be holdovers or else some Greens sneaked in there.

There is a discussion of this at Gristmill that offers some cautions about being overly optimistic. Read the comments on that story.

Malik Rahim has respect on the street, not in the media

I have written several times about Malik Rahim. Mostly, I am trying to make sure that he has the wide coverage of his campaign against Dollar Bill Jefferson in the 2nd Congressional District of Louisiana. I have encouraged people to respond with contributions. Some have. But Malik needs more to fund radio / television spots between now and December 6, when the real election takes place. Remember, this election was pushed back because Hurricane Gustave interrupted a primary runoff earlier.

Click Read more! for a report on the campaign was posted to the national committee affairs list today... and always I have a few additional comments.

By John Atkeison

Tuesday Last week the people of the USA elected a community organizer from Chicago, a Black man, to be our President. At the other end of the Mississippi River another community organizer named Malik Rahim will go before the voters in New Orleans in a Congressional election that was pushed to December 6 because of Hurricane Gustav.

If tonight’s meeting at the candidates home was any measure, it could be an unusual moment in the colorful history of Louisiana politics. (You can follow the campaign at Of the 16 people who crowded into the room, most of them were native Black New Orleanians from the West Bank and the 9th Ward. Other areas of the city were well represented, but the core were from Malik’s neighborhood base. Participants included working people and academics, church members and family members.

Everyone was enthusiastic about Malik, and there was lively discussion about a range of tactical issues. The meeting was well run and began and ended almost exactly on time, something that is not always guaranteed in a Green campaign.

The December 6th election is at the end of a tough road that leads through people’s birthday parties, barbecues and seafood boils. When the people of Orleans and Jefferson parishes go to the polls on that day, they can choose an incumbent Democrat under indictment for corrupt paractices known as – I swear- Dollar Bill Jefferson or they can go for a little-known Republican or Libertarian. Or they can vote for Malik Rahim, a well-known Green community organizer. Malik is best known for his organizing immediately after the disasters followng Hurricane Katrina, the floods, and Hurricane Rita in 2005. He established the first health clinic, and began the rebuilding of the communities right away. Through his Common Ground Collective, he has touched the lives of tens of thousands of New Orleanians. (You can read more at

But people need to know that this election has been postponed due to Hurricane Gustav, and that Malik is running. You can help! If you live in Louisiana’s Second Congressional District you can volunteer to help get the word out to your friends and their friends. If you live anywhere along the Gulf Coast, you have a stake in the election and should consider sending a contribution or coming to help inform your neighbors here. And if you live in the United States of America, you can send contributions or volunteer for the phone bank, donating those extra cell phone minutes to the cause.

Time is short and the opportunity is great. Let us hear from you.

John Atkeison
New Orleans, Louisiana

Then, it really get me riled when an AP reporter named Zinie Chen Sampson puts out a story, as she did this week, concerning Jefferson and the campaign and ignores Rahim completely. According to a copy posted to Green Change, Sampson wrote:
Meanwhile, Jefferson, 61, Louisiana’s first black congressman since Reconstruction, faces a Dec. 6 election against little-known Republican, Anh “Joseph” Cao in his New Orleans-based district. The district’s election was pushed back because of Hurricane Gustav.
That is not media bias. It is just a lazy reporter who did not do their job and no one calls them on it.

At least, I wrote to AP and chided them for their sloppy coverage along with giving some kudos to Erica Werner, who is an excellent reporter for AP. If you want to chime in, you can do so by writing their contact address.
For general questions and comments;or to contact a specific employee:
I mean, if Rahim can get on 20/20, AP should acknowledge that he exists.

Check out anything you can find about Malik. If there is any single contest that needs our care and contribution this year, it is this one.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Green activism, Green policy.

The hysteria of the election of Barack Obama has subsided. The celebrations are over, or never got off the ground as Obama himself nixed the idea of having fireworks in Grant Park. At this time, after this election, in which Green successes were all local, we need to turn our attention to our state, California, and the dramas being played out on the street and in Sacramento.

The success of Proposition 8 has surprised a lot of people, most of all those who ran the No on 8 campaign. As a result, people who are most affected, those who lost their rights, have begun a campaign of street demonstrations as well as starting the funds raising needed finance a long legal battle. With almost daily marches to be shown on the evening news, it will not go away, nor should it until there is true equality under the law.

I have seen some suggestions that California change it's laws to only issue licenses for civil unions, since the State is a civil institution. That would make sense were it not for the use of the term "marriage" in federal tax law and similar regulations in other states. Until this is resolved, there will never be equality.

Still, the progressive democrats who blog at Calitics seem to think that the No on 8 campaign organization must take a large share of the blame, citing the following as examples of a poorly run operation.
  • There was no GOTV operation either planned or executed.
  • With Obama pulling in many Black and Hispanic voters, there was no specific targeting of these groups with advertising or organizational outreach to change their perceptions. As is was, these two groups were the key demographics that favored Prop 8.
This is not over and will occupy attention until it is resolved in favor of equality.

The other element will not bring people to the streets, at least not for a long time. This is the ongoing budget battle in this state. This year, the legislature took a record time to produce a budget. It was locked in partisan bickering and political posturing with Republicans being adamantly opposed to any new taxes.

Now, less than two months after the budget was adopted, Governor Schwarzenegger has called the legislature back into session to fix the problems that remained unresolved the first time, basically the fact that the legislature ignore the economic situation that was approaching crisis status even then. Economic problems were a major factor in electing Obama but it had absolutely no affect on the California legislative election. We just did not make the connection and we still have not done so.

Even as Governor "Ahnuld" produced his own proposal, the battle lines were drawn much as they were all summer. Democrats refuse to make the steep cuts seemingly necessary in any services while the Republicans still refuse to consider any new taxes. It has all of the makings for another stalemate that will not be resolved in any special session. I have not completed my analysis, but I don't think any districts changed parties.

Sacramento has made a practice of balancing it's budget by cutting the amounts given to county and city governments for their use. The same is true for school districts who have no idea what funding will be available to them next year and still must negotiate with unions for new contracts on the basis of reading tea leaves.

In the case of Prop 8, the appeal is to the most progressive of the electorate. In the case of the budget fight in Sacramento, the appeal to decentralized power and an opposition to any mortgaging of our future are core Green concepts. If we are to have any ongoing role in California politics, we need to be strongly pursuing both goals: the return to equality under the law and the recognition of the new economic realities by a legislature that would rather rile up their supporters than solve problems.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Center - Right government?

In all of the excitement over the election of Barack Obama, with California focused on Proposition 8, the media never mentioned that there was another country that had an election on Nov. 4... New Zealand. I mention this because there were several things we should take notice of. Click Read more! and I will go through it.

The previous government in New Zealand was the Labor party. They had a minority government and worked with the aid of 6 Greens. In the most recent election, the Labor government was handed it's walking papers, but Greens added 2 seats.

The winner was the National Party, described as being "Center Left." According to the New Zealand Herald the incoming Prime Minister, John Key said "Hopefully just a change of government will give some confidence to the economy, that we are going to put economic growth at the top of the agenda."

Is this a characteristic of a Center Right government? to put economic growth at the top of the agenda? Isn't that what Obama said he would do in his first news conference as President elect? "I will confront this economic crisis head-on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hardworking families, and restore growth and prosperity."

It sounds to me that New Zealand changed a leftist government for one whose policies are Center-Right. And in America, we bounced a far right Republican Party for a Center-Right Democrat. The really sound the same.

I think that a many members of the PDA are going to become frustrated. We need to welcome them with open arms.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Not the change you were expecting

NY Times columnist David Brooks used his election day column to express some of what I am feeling about the status of America right now.
In the next few years, the nation’s wealth will either stagnate or shrink. The fiscal squeeze will grow severe. There will be fiercer struggles over scarce resources, starker divisions along factional lines. The challenge for the next president will be to cushion the pain of the current recession while at the same time trying to build a solid fiscal foundation so the country can thrive at some point in the future.

I wondered if there were an answer, but I read one today that tells me Greens are the only hope.

The following is excerpted from comments by Lorna Salzman. The bold emphasis is mine.
Change doesn't come straight, on the rocks. It comes indirectly, because of the interplay of societal and individual values.If this weren't true, we would never have advanced beyond slavery. Human behavior doesn't exist in a vacuum. And politics doesn't either. They reflect and enhance each other.

What the USGP, the left and the liberals still haven't grasped, aside from their almost complete ignorance of and disdain for ecology, is that a change in one thing and in one direction often brings change elsewhere. This is why environmentally based policies and laws have the potential to bring about social change. This is why stopping global warming and developing a sane energy policy that halts fossil and nuclear energy will have enormous ramifications for society: in food supply, transportation, construction, community development, industry, employment, indeed in every aspect of our lives and society.

This is a lesson that environmentalists in the 1970s, myself included, learned early on but which was studiously ignored by the marxist ideologues, and still is. I still get emails from all parts of the world thumping the desk and crying out "socialism" as the answer. These guys never ask the right question though. That's why they will never get the right answer.

The notion that elected officials lead rather than follow is one of the most naive convictions of liberals and the left. So let us remind ourselves that in the area of environment, we do not have a constituency, much less a movement, that could force Obama or congress to carry out our wishes. We collectively allowed the achievements and exultation of the 1970s to carry us on through for a few years until the flame died out, the big enviros sold out, and issues over which we have no control (war, racism, israel) took precedence over issues over which we could have exerted influence.

Nowhere is this more true than in the US Green Party and the Nader campaigns, both of which steered clear of proposing an ecologically based paradigm shift for western industrial society and global capitalism, a shift that requires ending the fixation on economic growth and substituting sufficiency and regionalization of the economy.
I could not have written it better, nor do I have Lorna's experience with ecology. But this is the only way that makes sense.

We have become a society driven by consumerism and that is the most easily controlled behavior there is. It is so easy to say buy this, buy that, you aren't cool without your I-Pod. Just watch what our government is trying to do to perk us up. They want to give us money so that we go buy more things we don't need. This can not continue. One by one, stores are closing, people are losing jobs. Even the mighty Toyota announced a 69% drop in earnings this quarter. When people lose their jobs, they stop buying.

In Andrew Revkin's DotEarth blog today, he made this point about the world that expects Obama to lead.
President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 20 will become the most important leader of a species that has exploded in just six generations from a total population of 1 billion (around 1830) to a point today when teenagers alone number 1 billion, a species that is on a path toward more or less 9 billion people by mid-century. In numbers, think roughly of adding two Chinas on top of the one that exists today.
Unless we start working to make ecology, sustainability the major focus of all that we do, the future that Brooks sees will last a long, long time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

One more chance to change America

I am sure that most of you have absorbed Obama's speech from last night, if not its full implication. I want to talk about just this excerpt copied from here.

I believe that these words from our president elect tell us exactly what we must now do and, like Boone Pickens on energy, I have a plan. Click Read more! for the future of our party.

Obama said:

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can."

Today, I posted the following at Green Change, but since most of you don't read that, I will repeat it here.

I know that most progressives loathe Dr. Frank Luntz. He was, after all, the architect of the message that was behind Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America. Most do no know that he was also the man who wrote Harold Ford Jr.’s stirring keynote speech at the 2000 Democratic Convention, crafting a message that was far different from the one written by Gore’s staff. There are several points that Luntz makes about political discourse in America that we had better pay attention to… and I will just mention 3.

Candidates need to be genuine. Luntz feels that Kerry lost the election in 2004 the moment he stepped on the stage, saluted and said “John Kerry reporting for Duty.” That almost universally generated negative reactions and forever marked Kerry as being not real.

Candidates need to have a narrative to what they are doing. We understand stories. This is the opposite of being policy wonkish, which I tend to be.

Candidates must use that narrative to express their aspirations for their community, their state, their country depending on what level of office they aspire to. Obama did this very well, maybe never as well as he did last night with story of the older woman, the daughter of slaves, who had seen so much, done so much. And then using that narrative to point to where our future might be.

If we can not find the candidates who can do that, then we will never have success.

Now here is a simple biographical narrative. Malik Rahim bringing NOLA together on Common Ground. Malik Rahim, keeping the lights on, the clinic open when government could not. Malik Rahim rebuilding New Orleans’s 9th Ward after the Destruction of Katrina. And we need Malik Rahim to help rebuild this country after the destruction of Bush / Cheney.

If we are going to stop the hemorrhaging we need to turn total attention to getting Rahim elected,, as Obama would say “in this year, in this election, at this time, Change can come to the Green Party.”

The election in Louisiana’s 2nd District is December 6… we have one month to change this party, to change this country. What will you do to help?

It isn't over until it is over

Last night, this country chose a new president. It made major changes in the makeup of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, where 433 of 435 seats were up for grabs. The other two were in the 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts in Louisiana. Earlier planned runoff elections were cancelled due to Hurricans Gustav and Ike made enough of a mess that the runoffs were moved to Nov. 4 and the general election for these seats to Dec. 6.

Green Malik Rahim will be running on December 6. Click Read more! and I will tell you why this is now the most important election in the country.

In the Democratic Party runoff last night, the incumbent, William Jefferson defeated local media personality Helena Moreno.
  • William J. Jefferson 92,08656.76%

  • Helena Moreno 70,15943.24%

Here are some facts you need to knew. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CRES) named William Jefferson as one of the 10 most corrupt politicians in Washington. This is what they have to say about him.
On June 4, 2007, Rep. Jefferson was indicted on 16 criminal counts, including two counts of conspiracy to solicit bribes, two counts of solicitation of bribes by a public official, six counts of honest services fraud by wire, one count of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, three counts of money laundering, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of racketeering. The indictment stems from multiple instances in which Rep. Jefferson agreed to perform official acts for 11 different companies in return for bribes payable to him and his family members. The indictment was the culmination of a criminal investigation that began in approximately March 2005.

Folks, Jefferson's trial begins on December 2, just four days before the election. You might wonder how someone can face this and still win? Well, last night, Sen. Ted Stevens won re-election to the Senate from Alaska after being convicted on corruption charges this month.

While Jefferson has been rebuilding his family fortunes, Malik Rahim has been rebuilding NOLA. When government could not keep the lights on during Hurricane Katrina, Rahim and his Common Ground non-profit did. When government could not keep it's promises to rebuild New Orleans, Rahim has gotten over 2,000 home rebuilt or refurbished.

I know we all have some degree of election fatigue right now, but this is one election that we have to win. Rahim needs all the help he can get and then some. That is why I now have his campaign highlighted in the right side menu of the home page. Just go there, click his name and make a contribution.

Pete McCloskey has been quoted as saying that "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed frequently... and for the same reason." We now have a chance to change one very dirty diaper.

Monday, November 03, 2008

David Brooks defines Republican Woes

I was rather impressed with David Brooks discussion of the current presidential campaign and the future of the Republican Party on Charlie Rose Friday night. I might have written over the weekend, but was not willing to stay up late enough. So, since my PBS station rebroadcast Rose at noon the following weekday, I watched while eating lunch.

In an era of Sean Hannity (whom he dissed), Rush Limbaugh and their ilk, Brooks is a breath of fresh air even if I don't agree with his political philosophy. He is willing to be intellectually honest and that is rare today. Follow the Read more! link and I will explain.

There are two things that I Brooks talked about that I think we need to consider. One is that neither McCain nor Obama were able to establish a narrative for America's future. McCain relied too much on his personal narrative and that really ended when he checked out of the Hanoi Hilton. Obama started to campaign that way, but sometime, somewhere, he must have listened to those who said we want to hear about policy and turned into powerpoint presentation of himself. Brooks was looking for something that captured this moment in in the broad arc of American History and constructed wrote an appropriate ending. Neither he nor I have heard that.

The other is that the Reublican Party has to decide what it wants to be... a small government party or a joe sixpack club. The latter implies a certain disdain for education, articulate comment and all of the other things that Brooks is noted for. Instead, he mentions the manner in which the Republicans have abandoned the Northeast and the West Coast. Just look at the stalwart Republican that have left, or are show other tendencies. Pete McCloskey from here in California. Senator Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island, Congressman Wayne Gilchrest from Maryland.

We need candidates who have the narrative to fill those voids.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Why I Won't Vote for ANY California Democrat

California is going for Democrat Barack Obama 55% to 33% according to a Field Poll released Thursday before the election. If this holds up, it will be the biggest California landslide by any candidate (including Californian Ronald Reagan) since World War II.

GP Candidate Cynthia McKinney with Alex Walker in Chicago

Very well. My "Brotha" Barack does not need my vote, and since pumping up Dem totals only encourages my local scoundrels, I won't vote for any Democrat in California.

All politics is local.

Surf the Internet and you'll find thousands of posts about Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Russia, India, Israel, and Palestine. Across the political spectrum, intellectuals obsess over world affairs.

Want to know how the U.S.A. got into this mess? Want to know how we were overwhelmed by cynicism, divisiveness, demagoguery, "Pay-To-Play" governance, and sleaze? It didn't start in that mythical "Washington." It started in places like little Wasilla, Alaska... and big Los Angeles.

I could write a long book about this. Today, I'll be brief, and just list the Dem screw-ups. One great thing about the Internet is that you don't have to take my word for it. Click the hyperlinks below and read the MSM stories for yourself.

One-Party Democratic Los Angeles County
Democrats presided over all of these screw-ups. Many of the scoundrels are people of color. My wife and I have lived all over this country and nowhere have I seen so many political hacks who are Black like me.

The Three "Playboy" Mayors

No essay about ethically-challenged politicians would be complete without a special salute to California's "Playboy" mayors. They've worked hard holding up the Bill Clinton Tradition.

Our "Great" 2-Party System in My Neighborhood

In 2006 in my 33rd congressional district, Democrat Diane Watson received 100% of the vote. Across the street and down the hill, the 35th congressional district was a comparative hotbed of democracy -- Democrat Maxine Waters garnered "only" 83.7% against candidates for the Libertarian and American Independent Parties. My representative to the California state assembly from the 47th assembly district, Democrat Karen Bass, actually had to run against a bona fide Republican.

Here's the message that Republican Jeffers M. Dodge, self-described "tall white fair-haired male political activist," sent to me and my neighbors:

Jeffers MacArthur Dodge

"I have said this many times, Get off drugs, go back to school, stay married, love your children, go to church, get a job and take responsibilities for your actions."

Wow! Like we really needed a Republican "angry white man" to instruct us to love our children. Two years ago voters in law-abiding, tax-paying, working families in my neighborhood reacted to Mr. Dodge exactly the same as voters in law-abiding, tax-paying, working families in any city, suburb, small town or rural county to a stream of insults -- casting 84.87% of their votes for Democrat Karen Bass.

My Dems

Democrats: (left to right): 33rd District Congresswoman Diane Watson, 47th District Assemblywoman Karen Bass, and 35th District Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

The 2008 presidential election may be the most important in modern U.S. history. This year that other "major party" in our sacred 2-party system, is running candidates for all 3 seats.

Republican David Crowley is running against Watson; Republican Lady Cage-Barile is challenging Bass; and Republican Ted Hayes is trying to oust Waters. If you visit their official web sites, you'll find nothing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; nothing about an economic crisis; and next to nothing about education or health care. You will find, however, that all three are strongly opposed to abortion, same-sex love, and "illegal aliens" from Mexico. On national television Mr. Hayes has said that "illegal immigration is the worst thing for blacks since slavery." Ms. Cage-Barile sends this high-minded message on her official web site:

"For more than a decade, California politics has been led by an Ultra Liberal Controlled Legislation, which has managed to alienate Conservative Americans, Religious Americans and Patriotic Americans from the decision making process... California is left with the low education ranking of 47th in the nation, the largest influx of illegal immigrants ever, a campaign to make men effeminate, irresponsible spending of our tax dollars, constant raising of taxes. . ."
Leave it to Republicans to "reach out" to my African-American community by red-baiting, race-baiting, and homophobia.

Karen Bass has been elected the first African-American woman in history to serve as speaker of a state assembly. Maxine Walters, top-aide to Mayor Tom Bradley in the '70s, Jesse Jackson gal in the '80s, and a legendary liberal in Congress -- co-founding the "Out of Iraq Caucus" -- is a legend. The 3 Democratic incumbents are not worried.


Republicans: (left to right): 33rd CD candidate David Crowley, 47th AD candidate Lady Cage-Barile, and 35th CD candidate Ted Hayes.

I mean, look at 'em!

Tell me we don't need the Green Party because I have the "choice" to support these Republican wingnuts and you are telling me, in effect, I need no choice at all.

See below an authentic expression of the heart of the California GOP circulated by a Republican club in San Bernardino County.

Obama Bucks

Hence our dilemma: one-party Democratic regimes are incompetent and corrupt, but the mean, angry, hateful racist Republicans are not an option.

There is a "hole" in U.S. politics. There is an empty space -- a vacuum -- where there ought to be an intelligent, grown-up, no-nonsense opposition to what big city Democrats are doing. The old fashioned politics they represent is as unsustainable in the 21st Century as the old politics of the Bushies.

The Green Party is the second party and the next phase of our struggle begins November 4th.