Sunday, October 30, 2011

A thought experiment … a tipping point.

Occupy Wall Street has grown into a what some call a larger movement. However, while groups in many cities share the same frustrations with the status quo … two stagnated parties, a country run by a too highly speculative financial services industry … I am not as confident as Michael Moore is that this movement will sustain itself.

I was wondering where it would end up. Then I thought of the words that Lewis Carrol gave to the Cheshire Cat.
In Alice in Wonderland, as Alice approaches the Cheshire Cat she sees a signpost with many arrows pointing in many different directions, down many roads. Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, "Which road should I take?" The Cheshire Cat replies, "Where do you want to go?" When Alice replies that she doesn't know, the Cheshire Cat concludes, "Then ANY road will do."

If Greens are ready to point the way to a better future, then we need to know what the world will be like. I have been reading a book entitled The World in 2050 by UCLA Geographer Laurence Smith. That seems to be a good base for considering what our policies need to be.

The year 2008 was one of fundamental change. In the US, it marked the first time that an African American was elected President. On the world level, a more meaningful, during 2008, the majority of the world's population was living in urban centers. Until then, a majority was living in rural areas.

Since then, the world's population has reached 7 billion. It only took 12 years to add that last billion people or the equivalent of adding the population of the United States every 4 years. By 2050, it will be 9 billion.

So we get the picture that the world will be very densely populated urban areas, with all that this means in terms of the needs to build infrastructure, housing, transportation and to use that transportation to move things into the cities: iron, steel, glass, cement, food, water... and then to move out our waste.

Add to this, the fact that our climate is going to change, perhaps very quickly. Already we are seeing an increased desertification in areas like Texas. Climate Progress blogger, Joe Romm has contributed an article for Nature that speaks to the Dust-Bowlification and the grave threat it poses for food security.
"Feeding some 9 billion people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly worsening climate may well be the greatest challenge the human race has ever faced."

Over the next 2 weeks, I will take each of the factors that will define our world in 2050; population demographics, climate change, economic globalization and the scarcity of resources, and try to relate them to Green Party policies. For example, both population growth and climate change will have a major impact on immigration and any national politician needs to be be able to talk to this issue.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bruce Dixon on Atlanta - Template for L.A. Critique?

Editor's Note: Bruce A. Dixon is a distinguished journalist living in Marietta GA, where he is a principal at a strategic telephony and consulting firm, and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He wrote this after Atlanta's African-American Mayor Kasim Reed ordered a violent crackdown on Occupy Atlanta. I have cross-posted the entire commentary because, in my opinion, this is a beautiful example of the critique I would like to see published about California's own "Black Misleadership Class." Where I live in Los Angeles, the 3 city council members most hostile to Occupy LA are the 3 African-Americans: Herb Wesson, my Councilman Bernard C. Parks, and mayoral candidate Jan Perry. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of L.A.'s race-obsessed presumed to be "progressive" intelligentsia has either been indifferent, lukewarm, or hostile to Occupy LA. Too many progressives cling to sentimental feelings about Democratic Party Hacks in communities of color -- bamboozled by 40-year-old myths that simply "Being Black" confers a special high-minded moral sensitivity for "the poorest of the poor" and "the most vulnerable" ... blah, blah, blah.

Do you think this is too harsh? Post a comment. I am sorry to report that we have no consensus among L.A. Greens about our relationship with Occupy LA and the "Black Misleadership Class." Nevertheless, I am determined to write a statement on this and I need your input.

Posted on The Black Commentator, October 26, 2011
Occupy Atlanta VS Kasim Reed,
the Black Misleadership Class and the One Percent

By Bruce A. Dixon

Back in January 2010, I wrote that

"...the black political elite no longer believes its mission is to fight for peace and justice. The newer, more cynical black elite are unmoored from their peace-and-justice-loving base. They are focused on their own careers, and the corporate largesse that makes those careers possible... the black politics of a previous generation, in which black candidates and public officials were expected to stand for something beside their own careers, is over..."

I pointed to Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed as poster boy for this new and cynical generation of the black misleadership class.

On Saturday afternoon, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed screamed, shouted and threatened representatives of Occupy Atlanta, declaring that those who wanted to be arrested "would get their wish." After a mobilization of several hundred additional protesters, some barricades and a threatening display of police numbers, City Hall decided not to clear Woodruff Park that night. The mayor declared he would send a delegation of preachers to talk to occupiers, but that this would be their "last chance."
By Monday, the mayor regained his composure, and called an afternoon press conference in which he declared that Occupy Atlanta was an imminent danger to public health and safety, because of a single gas-fueled electric generator. In the park. Never mind, Occupy Atlanta's Tim Franzen pointed out, that Atlanta tailgaters at college and NFL football games deploy dozens of these in parking lots every weekend.

Atlanta police massed around the occupiers again Sunday and Monday nights, amid renewed mayoral threats, but took no further action. TV viewers were treated to the spectacle of former mayor Andrew Young advising occupiers to settle on one or two good demands and leave the park. When a couple of the mayor's preachers, who claimed they were not acting on behalf of the mayor finally showed up on Tuesday, they demanded an immediate meeting with five to seven leaders of the occupation, and one or two demands they could take back to City Hall. Spokespeople for the occupiers, who included State Senator Vincent Fort, Ron Allen, Tim Franzen, Joe Beasley and a handful of others told them the earliest meeting date that could be arranged would be Thursday, and expressed serious doubt that the mayor was able or willing to address their demands. The Thursday meeting was agreed upon, and the preachers departed.

But late Tuesday night, in a display of contempt for the occupiers and his own preachers, Mayor Kasim Reed ordered Woodruff Park surrounded by hundreds of police, who cleared the park shortly after midnight, arresting more than 50.

Atlanta's Black Mayors, The Black Misleadership Class and the One Percent

Nobody should doubt that Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed is firmly in the pocket of the one percent. It's old news. It's a choice he and leaders of the local black misleadership class made more than a generation ago. The clique of black political leaders who came to power with Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson in 1973, and who still hold sway today have never been friends or advocates of black or white working people. Though they owed, and still owe their offices, careers and personal fortunes to the political victories won by the Freedom Movement, Atlanta's black misleadership class has rarely if ever lined up with black and working people when it came to economic justice.

Mayor Maynard Jackson in 1977 defined the relationship between the class of newly privileged black politicians and the rest of black Atlanta by deliberately provoking and then savagely breaking a strike by Atlanta sanitation workers seeking decent pay and medical benefits. Georgia's white business leaders began to understand that though the color of the city's politicians had changed, little else would. And it hasn't. By the end of the 70s, the Maynard Jackson administration boasted of leaveraging city contracts and the construction of the nation's largest airport to create two or three dozen new black millionaires, from whom wealth was to trickle down to the entire African American community. The only thing that really trickled down to black Atlanta and black communities nationwide was the self-celebrating myth of Black Mecca, where the climate was benign, the housing affordable, the jobs plentiful and the politicians enlightened. It was a myth, but a potent one.

Maynard Jackson was succeeded by Andy Young, a former confidante of Martin Luther King. Young's signature project was bringing the 1996 Olympics to Atlanta, providing the excuse to clear vast tracts in the city of poor people and abandoned industries, and replace them with richer people and more shopping. Jackson returned for a last term after Young, and was followed by Bill Campbell, who sold the city's water network to a private firm. Young cashed in his chips as a civil rights icon to found GoodWorks International, a PR and consulting firm for multinational corporations like Wal-Mart and Nike, and serve on the boards of corporations like Barrick Gold, which is heavily implicated in plunder and genocide in the Congo.

Shirley Franklin came in after Campbell with a campaign of sweeping privatizations of parks, city services, parking and more. But with Atlanta's newly privatized water works pumping rust colored mud through the taps of tens of thousands of Atlanta residents (including wealthy white ones) the drive to privatize everything in sight had to be slowed, though Franklin was able to complete demolition of nearly all Atlanta's public housing, driving tens of thousands of poor black Atlantans from the city. Like Andy Young, Franklin also cashed in after leaving Atlanta's City Hall, as a consultant for the telecom industry, and championing the privatization of schools and services of all kinds.

By 2002, after a generation of “Black Mecca” and black political leadership, the city's poverty rate was in the top five of metro areas nationwide. One in three black Atlanta children is in poverty, even with the expulsion of tens of thousands of poor Atlantans as their neighborhoods have been demolished.

The current mayor is firmly within the tradition of his predecessors. Kasim Reed is a corporate lawyer for the rich and racist, a man who has never fought for or believed in justice for ordinary people. As a state senator in 2006 he introduced vicious anti-immigrant legislation that paralleled similar racist bills passed this year in Georgia and Alabama. As a mayoral candidate, Reed called himself “a civil rights lawyer,” leaving out the key detail that his practice represented the corporations that violated civil rights, not the black, brown, elderly or disabled plaintiffs whose rights had been violated. The day before being sworn in as mayor Reed promised local business leaders to deal with downtown “panhandlers” in what he called a “very muscular” fashion. The term “panhandlers” is shorthand for homeless black males, even though any sociologist or person who works with the homeless will tell you that only white homeless men can beg on the street. Unless they are very elderly or handicapped, black men are considered inherently too inherently “threatening” to be successful street beggars. The convention and tourist industry seems to want black men, especially homeless black men out of downtown Atlanta. Hence an obsession for Kasim Reed, and if his wealthy real estate backers is closing down the large homeless shelter at Peachtree & Pine, at the edge of downtown Atlanta only a mile from the site of Occupy Atlanta where hundreds of men, many of them gainfully employed, sleep every night.

Where the Occupy Movement in Atlanta May Be Going

About half the Atlanta occupation in Woodruff Park was composed of homeless mostly black men who had been in the park on a daily basis before the occupation. When the mostly white occupiers brought tents and food in, some the homeless got tents too, and were able to use the portable toilets. The homeless men were fed along with the occupiers, and took part in daily marches to banks, the scenes of police shootings and other activities. Though significant tensions existed within and among the occupiers, homeless and not, the two were beginning to learn how to work together.

Headquarters of the occupation, according to some of its leaders, may be moving to the Peachtree-Pine shelter complex at the edge of downtown. In contrast to cities where the mostly white occupations have utterly failed to connect with the ongoing struggles of local residents, Atlanta's occupiers are being driven into the arms of the homeless community. The next version of Occupy Atlanta will be even less to the liking of city officials and business leaders.

Why are police arresting thousands and dispersing “Occupy” gatherings in dozens of cities across the nation? Because they know that the occupy movement is a clear, present and persistent danger to established authority. People are emerging from their homes --- if they still have homes --- freeing themselves from TV and shopping, if they still have anything to shop with. They are coming out on corners in hundreds of cities and towns, most of them, for their first political activity beyond the narrow vote-and-go-home model sold to them by the two corporate parties.

Neither occupations nor occupiers are perfect. People are coming as they are, bringing the baggage of racism and classism and sexism, of divergent political views, of poverty, homelessness and despair. But they are coming. They are eager to connect with each other, to connect with whatever movement exists, or to help bring one into being that can challenge and change the world they live in. They are ready to learn and do real politics. What could possibly be more subversive, and more hopeful?

Read the Original Commentary at:

Monday, October 17, 2011

October Wind

Cleaning up my office and picked up my copy of Terraces of Light by Pulitzer Prize (1938) winning poet, Marya Zaturenska. A short poem, October Wind caught my attention and gave me pause to consider what is happening now.
The October wind has blown
On the fresh fields, the virgin land:
There the crisp river runs
And the air is full of change.
Man reaps what he has sown.

Gold and red the waving trees
In the autumnal weather;
Your feet lag in the long walk
You take in the forever.
The cold end is manifest
in the brilliant trees, the falling leaves.
The hesitant birds have flown.
Man reaps what he has sown.

Of one who neither cares or sees
You dream and weep
For nature's old felicities
Tumbled in iron sleep:
That body blooms deep underground
Nor needs your teas; such beauty, power,
Such lyric pathos lingers where
His spirit climbs time's moving stair
With active limbs and living hair.
Though all is change where the wind has blown--
Man must reap what he has sown.

What is that October Wind in this age? I first read Zaturenska when this was first published, I was in college and Dylan was reminding us that the Times, They are a-Changin'. Could Occupy Wall Street, or wherever, be that wind? If not, then Zaturenska's cold wind is surely manifest, though it may be from a very hot climate. What I take away from this reading is that "all is change where the wind has blown--" and it is folly to try to live according to old patterns. We have yet to reap what we have sown... that is a bit of what OWS is all about. There will be a new normal and we may not like it unless we shape ourselves to live in that world.

A new New Normal?

I have just started to read David Wann's book The New Normal: an agenda for resonsible living. It is an optimistic book, maybe overly, as the introduction sets that tone.
The big picture is that production and consumption will no longer be the defining characteristics of the next civilization -- cultural richness, efficiency, cooperation, expression, ecological design, and biological restoration will be.
That was enough to make me think about this term, the "new normal". That phrase is in such common parlance that there are over 4 million hits on google and even a web site, though hardly worth looking at.

One view of the new normal is climate. We are on a track to bring catastrophic change to the world through our non-action on climate mitigation, trying to prevent run-away warming. Those who would act are confronted immediately by the wide spread notion that any governmental action is the first step to socialism. I rather doubt that, since any effective action requires an end to growth economics, but both capitalism as practiced in the US and socialism as practiced so far in any country, are both enamored with the idea of growth.

Another view is economic, a new normal that is shaped by decreasing supplies of resources, especially those used to produce energy, and a corresponding increase in the costs of what we have, especially energy. Both optimistic and pessimistic versions of this exist. Some look to the economic arena as a major tipping point towards a Jared Diamond like Collapse. Some would see mankind as willing and able to adapt to the new normal by building new structures.

Wann, whose book started my thinking here, expresses that latter view quite well.
The future is waiting It is time for man to stop seeing the world as it is, and begin to see it as it should be.
I can not think of a better approach for a Green candidate. Tell the people how the world should be and enlist their help to make it so.

Monday, October 10, 2011

GP: Wall Street Protest Message is not 'Vote Democrat'

Green Party USA

Green Party to Democratic Apologists: The Message of the Wall Street Protests is Not 'Vote Democrat'


For Immediate Release:
Sunday, October 9, 2011

Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, cell 202-904-7614,
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805,

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders sharply criticized Democratic Party supporters online and in the media who have tried to turn the ongoing Occupy Wall Street, Occupy America, and October 2011 demonstrations across America into an appeal to vote Democrat and reelect President Obama in 2012.

Many of the protesters have expressed their disgust with two-party politics ( and the influence of corporate money. Organizers have rejected attempts to shoehorn the movement into any party and assert that the protesters come from diverse political persuasions.

Greens, who are participating in the protests and among the organizers, have pointed to the Green Party's alternative vision for America, as expressed in the Green New Deal ( and on the party's web site (

The Green Party offers a platform for peace, economic security for working people, millions of new green jobs in conservation and clean energy development, an end to fossil fuel addiction, real steps for curbing global climate change and restoring the health of the planet, universal health care (Medicare For All), and reforms that would limit the power of corporations and restore the promise of participatory democracy and fair elections. Green candidates do not accept corporate money.

Mark Dunlea, co-founder of the Green Party of New York State: "The Democratic Party does not speak for the Occupy Wall Street, Occupy America, and October 2011 protesters. No political party speaks for the protesters, not even the Green Party. The protesters speak for themselves. The Green Party has endorsed and joined the demos because we share the same frustration and anger as the other protesters. Greens are there because we bring alternative ideas like the Green New Deal. And we're there because we encourage the 99 percent -- We The People -- to organize, end pro-corporate two-party rule, and replace the politicians in public office who enabled Wall Street's theft of America's future. This can only happen through an independent alliance with the same diversity we're seeing at the protests: labor activists, Greens, progressives, anarchists, libertarians, nonvoters, disappointed Democrats and Republicans, and all others who want real change."

Sanda Everette, co-coordinator of the Coordinating Committee of the Green Party of California: "If pro-Democrat web sites and the media believe that the message of the protests is 'Vote Democrat' and 'Reelect Obama' in 2012, they've missed the point. The current demonstrations became necessary after Election Day 2008, when too many liberal, progressive, and antiwar Democrats declared 'Mission Accomplished' with Barack Obama's election victory. The Democratic Party has proved itself as dedicated to Wall Street as the GOP. We look forward to more protests and direct action as the election season unfolds, especially during the 2012 Democratic and Republican conventions."

Farheen Hakeem, Green candidate for the Minnesota State Senate in District 61 ( and co-chair of the Green Party of the United States: "Say no to the parties of war and corporate money! That's our message to all Americans who are worried about the dangerous direction that the two Titanic Parties have steered our country. If the field of presidential candidates is limited to incumbent Obama and the Republican nominee after the primaries, then everything the Wall Street protesters are talking about will be erased from the election season debate and from the media. Hopes for a progressive challenge in the Democratic primaries are unrealistic. The challenger will inevitably be defeated by the Obama campaign juggernaut, which is already loaded with corporate campaign checks, and the challenger's supporters will find themselves muzzled, with the expectation that they'll vote Democrat."

Terry Baum, Green candidate for Mayor of San Francisco ( "Barack Obama received more Wall Street money than any other candidate in US history. Instead of change, the Obama Administration gave us Phase 2 of the Bush-Cheney agenda: more Wall Street bailouts, more endless war, more offshore oil drilling and the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline, more mountaintop detonation mining. Instead of financial security for Americans, we got plans to slash Social Security and Medicare. We got minimal assistance for people facing home foreclosures and more crushing debt for college students. We got silence about the racist death penalty and record-high mass incarceration of young black, brown, and poor people in a greedy private prison system. We got a health care bill with mandates that are a direct public subsidy for the insurance industry (originally a Republican proposal), but no universal health care or controls for skyrocketing medical costs. We got impunity for Bush officials who authorized torture and other war crimes -- and more extraordinary rendition, more warrantless surveillance of US citizens, more erosion of due process, more persecution of whistleblowers, and even a secret presidential hit list of Americans targeted for assassination."

Cheri Honkala, Green candidate for Sheriff of Philadelphia ( running on an anti-foreclosure platform, speaking at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC on October 6: "What I'm doing is not symbolic. It's concrete and Bill and Aida and Glenn who's here with me today, like millions of people across this country are gonna lose their homes... unless you take this seriously and not just march about it, pray about it, and sing about it but help me fill every damn poll in Philadelphia where there's a birthplace of revolution and change... We can do this again in this country and take our country back!"


Green Party of the United States

Friday, October 07, 2011

Leadership needed to battle climate change

I had another OpEd in the Morgan Hill Times today. I reviewed a book, Clean Energy Nation, by my congressman, Jerry McNerney. At least one congress critter gets it. I reproduce it here with permission of the Morgan Hill Times.

It was my intention to use this column to review "Clean Energy Nation," the recently published book by Congressman Jerry McNerney and local writer Marty Cheek. While I will mostly write about that, I can not help but mention another book: "The Fate of Greenland," by Philip Conkling ... [et al.]. It provides an essential element that is missing from "Clean Energy Nation."

I am an active blogger who has paid a lot of attention to the problems of climate change and the relationship to our national energy policy as well as the effect of both on water resources. If you have a similar background, there is little that you will learn from reading "Clean Energy Nation." Most of the book takes you through things that you already know: fossil fuels are a finite resource that have a limited future; the continued use of fossil fuels is not sustainable for an extended period of time, future supplies of coal, oil and natural gas will be increasingly difficult and expensive to obtain.

If you happen to be a confirmed climate change denier, you probably will not be convinced by what anything that McNerney and Cheek have written. As long as there are those like meteorologist Joe Bastardi (late of Accuweather) who are willing to publish nonsense as fact, we will continue to have such problems.

Still, thanks to their knowledge and research, there are things that I did learn. "Clean Energy Nation" is a well documented book with an extensive bibliography and end notes to identify the sources for their statements. For example, relating to the feasibility of replacing current fossil fuel driven electric generation with nuclear, we are given the fact that this is probably less sustainable that continued use of fossil fuels.

"The rich uranium ores required to achieve this reduction are, however, so limited that if the entire present world electricity demand were to be provided by nuclear power, these ores would be exhausted within nine years. Use of the remaining poorer ores in nuclear reaction would produce more CO2 emissions than burning fossil fuels directly."

McNerney and Cheek are unique in viewing these problems through the lens of political history. This is appropriate in that the problems we have now are much more political than technological. They managed to cover almost all areas of concern beyond the obvious ones of electricity generation and transportation: public health, agriculture, education, national security. Each is summarized so that it is easy to understand where the impacts come from without slogging through too much detail.

What I missed in "Clean Energy Nation," but found in "The Fate of Greenland," is the recognition that there is an aspect of our current situation that should give a sense of urgency, should create a political will for action now, rather than stumbling along hoping for a technological miracle that is not likely to happen.

In a book filled with wonderful photography of Greenland now, underscoring the rate at which it is currently changing, the contributors to "Fate of Greenland" lay out the scientific data which warns us that the climate may change very quickly, at times in less than a decade. Such tipping point events as they chronicle are part of the language of global warming, but not with the astonishing level of facts that are laid out here.

This sense of urgency has both an ecological and an economic basis. While most of our attention is give to the ecological, generating a Reganesque rolling of the eyes as they mutter "there they go again" the economic issue is not so obvious. I wish they had clearly stated this one fact: For every year that the world delays addressing climate change, transforming to a clean-energy union of nations, it will cost our economies an additional $500 billion. That is a burden we are loading on to our grandchildren.

In this election cycle, it appears that the denial of climate change, or at least a plan to limit any action to combat it, is a prerequisite for selection as a candidate in the Republican Party. It will take strong political leadership to change America. " ... if we are to create a better tomorrow for ourselves and for future generations of American, we need to use effective communication and share an inspiring vision in our quest to become a clean-energy nation."

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

It's Easier to Occupy Wall Street Than it is to Change It

Writing about Occupy Wall Street is unquestionably an exercise in futility. Those of us in the baby boomer generation have the impulse to wrap our arms around them and sigh in recognition of the sense of exasperation, desperation and righteousness that engulfed us in our youth. We understand that when things get worse and we have no control of events, we want to stop the world from its “normality”. When political leaders fail to inspire us with a common vision, we seek a new identity, a new vision and a new world. There is no question that the election of Obama has resulted in neither hope nor change. And we know:”It’s not fair!”

Those of us removed from the protests are watching our own biographies unfold again and we grasp to see it done right this time. Fix this thing here, do this thing there and everything little thing is gonna be alright. But, as soon as we intrude in the drama, we become interlopers in the “movement”. We are, in point of fact, outsiders who fail to grasp the dynamic and the new zeitgeist that has reconfigured the world around us. 1968 comes to our minds as the world social order heaved and the world was challenged for not living up to our standards and expectations. Today, we see turmoil in the Middle East, North Africa and Greece. In 1968 it was France, Czechoslovakia, China and Vietnam. But that was then and this is now.

Words, nothing but words. The young people out there pitch their tents, we pitch our rhetoric. We are on the outside looking in. Greens send a message of support saying “Right on! Now join us and finish the job by getting elected.” But, even Greens are aware of how closed the electoral system is and how difficult real reform is. Revolution appeals in its apparent ability to wipe the slate clear. Occupy Wall Street abounds with anti-capitalism. All revolts seek to sweep clean the vestiges of the old. We have witnessed that the old order has a logical continuity after the smoke of revolution clears. The Thermidor stands erect through habit, through economics, through culture and through history. The people seek normalcy- the simple ability to live our individual lives without the trauma of changes that turn our worlds upside down.

Today, young people fear the future and old people fear the present. Fear has intruded and we seek a return to normalcy. “FIX IT!” is the cry. We don’t like it. Young people seek to reconfigure the forces that stand in the way. Old people seek to protect what we have. Politicians posture and feed the lions of change for their own advantage. Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are both expressions of the fear and frustration of people. We are all abandoned on a runaway train and none of us like it.

But, we are being spoon-fed and the same fear that evokes protest paralyses logical thinking. It pushes us to grasp for straws and look for simple solutions. We find ourselves repeating the rhetoric of the cable stations and radio talk shows. We take our politics from comedians and actors as if they had some God-given insight. Our panic has spread and we invite it to grow. It has stretched to various degrees to cities and universities across the country.

The stock market remains open. Wall Street has always been occupied during work hours. Banks seek to confront the cold economics and people scream at them. Ninety percent of Americans work and continue to go to their jobs. But even they feel the fear. Those of us unemployed and over sixty are weary and worried that the future is behind us, not in front of us.

There really is a point where a society begins to disintegrate. The social contract is violated. The fear overrides all other emotions. Fear of climate change and catastrophic weather, fear of economic insecurity, fear of impending doom for humanity and the planet envelopes us. The words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt come to mind. “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” It shuts down our strongest attributes as human beings. It shuts off communication with those we share a common destiny with. It makes us live behind locked doors and see every new face as a threat to us.

We have dug ourselves into this hole. Those who would seek to blame others fail to distinguish between what has happened in the past and what we can do together to fix what is broken. What it took to break the economy is not the same as what it takes to fix it. Structural reform enables us as a society to reconfigure the institutions that have so much influence in our lives. Working WITH our neighbors enables us to pool our resources and energy for constructive purposes. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. We need to be tough and resourceful. We need to find new solutions. We need to move forward with a new vision and not backwards.

We have not yet faced the depression or the World War of our prior generation. We know that many of us will need to help others. We know that things to come will not be as “good” as things in the past. Let’s not project beyond our ability to predict what is to come.

Let’s talk to others and meet with others. Let’s take to the streets and work in the elections. Let’s do so with candor and vigor. Find our own voice that speaks to our own concerns and needs. Let’s build new organization and establish new mechanisms that go beyond opposition and venture into creation. Occupy Wall Street by all means. But recognize that it will still be there when all is said and done. It is simply the concrete expression of the economic activity of billions of individuals around the world.

How we work together will prove as important as what we do to try and solve the problems. If we are willing to listen we can learn. When we utilize the strengths of some and the distinct strengths of others we find new alternatives emerge. I have worked in banking. I have worked in public schools. I have worked in a hospital. The success of each setting is not simply what we do as individuals as it is what we can accomplish together. In a Multi-Disciplinary Treatment Team the array of professionals who interact daily with the patient come together and review the patients’ progress and problems. They discuss behaviors and problems. They look for the appearance and the realities behind the appearance. They share perceptions and develop hypotheses of appropriate interventions that address the realities.

None of us are secure on our own. But no one is expecting that. The scripts of childhood to be independent need to be developed into the mature grasp of our mutual dependence on one another and our capacity to heal and help others. We are not simply observers subject to the torrent of history. We are the shapers of it as well.

Scott McLarty: "After the Wall Street Protests..."

After the Wall Street Protests? Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator at Green Party of the United States, has posted a manifesto on Firedoglake making the case for an independent party.

Posted on Firedoglake, October 4, 2011
After the Wall Street Protests: To Change America’s Political Direction, We Need a Voters’ Revolt and a Permanent Noncorporate Alternative to the Titanic Parties
By Scott McLarty

The protests against Wall Street’s criminal theft of America’s future, to be followed on October 6 by the 'October 2011' occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, are cause for optimism. Maybe 'Arab Spring' is finally coming to the US. ('American Autumn'?) The protests, now spreading to other cities, are continuing despite the troops of police ready to club, pepperspray, and corral peaceful protesters into nets for mass arrest.

The biggest impediment to the democracy movement is not Fox News and pundits who believe that the Occupy Wall Street demos are a demand for 'big government', as if their entire understanding comes from a GOP talking points memo. It’s not the dismissive tone of journalists from the New York Times and other mainstream papers. It’s not the cable news stations who misreport the goals of the demonstrations or ignore them altogether.

The greatest danger is that many Americans sympathetic to the 'Occupy Wall Street' grievances, and maybe a small number of the protesters themselves, will soon fall into a familiar habit. In a few months we can expect to hear some of them declare "We must vote to reelect President Obama in 2012, to prevent a Republican victory."

The Republicans have already won, regardless of who takes the oath of office in January 2013. Endless wars, Wall Street pillage, and the trashing of the US Constitution are no longer the exclusive intellectual property of the GOP.

Barack Obama’s progressive supporters acknowledge that he didn’t quite fulfill their expectations as an agent of change and a bulwark against war and the predatory power of corporations. But the GOP is so much worse, they say, that we have to keep voting Democrat. This is nonsense.

The liberals, progressives, leftists, editors and columnists for The Nation and Daily Kos and other publications who insist we vote Dem in every election cycle are preaching self-defeat.

Apologists for the Democrats will say, “But there are some real differences between the two parties!” That’s true. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would not have been repealed by a Republican administration.

Overall, however, the differences between D and R have grown more and more insubstantial during the past few decades. In many cases, Democratic presidents used their power to fulfill the GOP agenda, often accomplishing what Republican couldn’t by themselves, for example, President Clinton’s passage of NAFTA with help from a Democratic Congress and President Obama’s willingness to carve up Social Security and Medicare.

On nearly every big issue from the wars to Wall Street’s looting of the economy to offshore drilling and oil pipelines, President Obama has shown a smooth continuity from the Bush-Cheney Administration. When he clashed with Republicans in the health care reform debate, the argument was really over which side could best accommodate for-profit insurance companies and other special interests, with Democrats offering mandates that require everyone to purchase private coverage, an idea they pilfered from Republican Congressmembers who introduced it in the 1990s. (See “Whose side are they on? An unexhaustive recent history of bipartisan convergence” below.)

The major newspapers, network and cable news shows, and other media inflate the small differences because they like to make the news as simple-minded as possible, and that means limiting the public debate to D versus R on any big issue. Other points of view, such as the one expressed by the Wall Street protesters, aren’t fit for serious coverage, or sometimes any coverage at all.

Progressives who believe that President Obama “is really one of us” are as deluded as conservatives who believe Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and other phony populists and corporate royalists when they call President Obama a socialist, by which they mean he’s a few degrees less rabid in his devotion to corporate rule than they are.

Instead of Democrat versus Republican, we should look at US politics as D and R versus the rest of us. Elections have become a contest between Democrats ready to fulfill GOP agenda and the GOP itself. Whether we elect a Democrat or a Republican to the White House, whether Democrats or Republicans win control of Congress, the center of political gravity remains on the side of the GOP. As George Lakoff has observed in several books and numerous essays, Democrats play according to Republican rules. Even when they’re telling outright lies, Republicans deal in gut-level messages that Democrats find themselves parroting: Support our troops! End big government!

Both of the Titanic parties accept enormous sums of money from corporate PACs to do the bidding of corporate special interest lobbies, but the GOP is far more shameless about its service to corporate elites and its ideology of privatization, deregulation, and concentration of economic power.

Democrats, on the other hand, want to be perceived as the party of the people, but won’t wean themselves off corporate campaign checks. They retreat from their stated principles and traditional constituencies and ignore progressive voices within their own party on the assumption that voters on the left have “nowhere else to turn.”

The retreat of the Democrats, their confused allegiances, and embrace of so much of the GOP agenda have meant a license for Republicans to move to ever greater extremes. Now we have a ‘liberal’ party that has moved to the right of Eisenhower and Nixon and a rightwing party that has descended into irrationality. Every decade, the political paradigm drifts further and further to the right.

If we want to interrupt this drift, we have to think outside of the two-party power bloc. The Occupy Wall Street protesters and their supporters have no voice in the two-party mainstream of electoral politics. It’s assumed that –if they vote at all — they will line up behind President Obama and a Democratic machine that regards them with contempt.

Time for a Voters’ Revolt

Dropping out of the elections and refusing to vote are not an option. Until we take steps now to break down the rule of the Titanic Parties and replace them in public office, we face decades of more endless wars, more erosion of basic human rights and protections for working people, and dwindling chances of a solution to global climate change.

Activism should not be limited to electoral politics. But the movement for a change in America’s political direction must include a voters’ revolt and the emergence of a strong and permanent alternative party that rejects corporate money and influence.

Without such an insurgence in 2012, the following topics will be missing from the election season debate after April or May: the plundering of the US economy by the financial industry; multi-trillion-dollar bailouts for Wall Street; the assault on public sector unions; universal health care (Medicare For All); ending the endless wars; the death penalty (Troy Davis will be forgotten); the dangers of the Tar Sands pipeline, offshore drilling, nuclear power, mountaintop removal mining, warrantless spying on US citizens, torture, and other gross abuses of power. Neither incumbent Obama nor the GOP nominee will mention these things.

Despite the best intentions of progressives like Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, and others, the Democratic Party will not be rehabilitated. A progressive challenge to President Obama in the primaries, as recently encouraged by Ralph Nader and others, will keep some of the complaints and ideals of the Wall Street protesters alive for a few months. By late spring, the challenger will be defeated by the Obama campaign juggernaut and the challenger’s supporters will find themselves muzzled, with the expectation that they’ll vote Dem anyway. That’s what happens in every presidential election.

The usual objection to voting third-party is that the candidate might ‘spoil’ by subtracting votes from a Democrat and enabling a Republican victory, with the role played by Green presidential nominee Ralph Nader in 2000 as the classical example. There are numerous problems with this accusation — it ignores manipulation and voter obstruction by GOP officials in Florida, a patently biased Supreme Court ruling that canceled vote recounts and delivered the White House to George W. Bush, and Al Gore’s own feeble campaign, which lost double-digit points in polls during the final months of the race (while Mr. Nader’s percentage never rose above a few percentage points) and failed to take even Tennessee, Mr. Gore’s home state. In Florida, the number of registered Dems who voted for Mr. Bush was four times the number who voted for Mr. Nader. Why don’t Democratic apologists ever apply the spoiler label to Republicans?

The assertion that Mr. Nader siphoned votes away from Mr. Gore assumes that Democratic candidates have some kind of prior claim to our votes. The subtext of the spoiler accusation, when leveled by pundits and politicians who’ve made no effort to promote reforms like Instant Runoff Voting that would eliminate the alleged spoiler effect, is that two-party rule must never face interference from alternative parties and independent candidates. It’s a notion of democracy only one step removed from single-party states like China and the Soviet Union.

The only fair and democratic elections are multi-party elections, in which every voter has the right to see more than a choice between Big Mac and Whopper on the ballot, the right to know which candidate best represents his or her own interests and ideals, and the right to vote for that candidate.

Imagine that multi-party democracy existed in the US. The election of a half-dozen noncorporate alternative-party candidates to Congress would alter the political landscape, with Ds and Rs no longer each others’ sole competition.

If such a candidate participated in the presidential debates, he or she would raise ideas that no Democratic or Republican nominee would ever touch, like Medicare For All and rapid withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Commission on Presidential Debates is owned and run by the Democratic and Republican parties, who took control over it in order to bar other parties’ candidates. D and R politicians in many states have conspired to rig the ballot access rules of many states to block third-party and independent candidates from running for office. The two Titanic parties have been corrupted by their own exclusive power as much as by corporate money and clout.

These obstacles are all surmountable, but only through a concerted mass effort led by a broad alliance of those critical of the two-party status quo, the bureaucratic and political power of major corporations, and the expanding power of government. The Occupy Wall Street protests, which have drawn progressives, Greens, anarchists, libertarians, nonvoters, frustrated Democrats and Republicans, and many others, are a model for such an alliance.

Alternatives like the Green Party are waiting for their moment — the moment of mass epiphany when Americans recognize them as an imperative comparable to the anti-slavery Republican Party in the mid 19th century. The Occupy Wall Street protesters are the abolitionists of the 21st century, demanding an end to the predatory power of Wall Street and other corporate elites over our political system, our jobs, our homes, our savings, our health, nearly aspect of our lives.

Until we recognize that Democrats are as dangerous to America’s future as Republicans, until we spark a national voters’ revolt, we’ll continue to commit political suicide every Election Day.

The Occupy Wall Street participants want to push the country in a different direction, away from corporate oligarchy, military aggression, and environmental depredation. Protests and direct action must continue as the election season unfolds, especially during next year’s national Democratic and Republican conventions. We must find, build, and promote noncorporate ways to live our lives and expand participatory democracy (see Ben Manski’s essay “The Protest Wave: Why the Political Class Can’t Understand Our Demands”).

And if we want these things to have a lasting effect, the “99 percent” movement that inspired the current demonstrations must move to the next level, which must include independent electoral action in 2012 and beyond.

Sidebar: Whose side are they on? An unexhaustive recent history of bipartisan convergence

• Is President Obama a “warrior for the middle class”?

In 2008, Mr. Obama became the highest recipient of Wall Street campaign contributions in history. After he was elected, he followed in the footsteps of Republican presidents by stacking his staff with Wall Street insiders and operators — Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, economics advisor Larry Summers, Chief of Staff Bill Daley — whose deregulatory policies made the 2008 economic meltdown inevitable.

With bipartisan support in Congress, the Obama Administration bailed out the Wall Street firms that were responsible for the meltdown, while offering minimal aid to Americans facing unemployment and home foreclosures because of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis that these firms created. The White House and Congress have taken no steps to restore the Glass-Steagall Act or enact other reforms to curtail Wall Street power and prevent the next crisis.

The federal government plans to begin selling off the massive portfolio of foreclosed homes now owned by HUD, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac to private investment conglomerates (“vulture funds”), possibly the “largest transfer of wealth from the public to the private sector” in history.

Such actions were predictable by September 2008, before Mr. Obama’s election victory, when he undercut his pledge of “change we can believe in” with an endorsement of the first Wall Street bailout, in harmony with the Bush White House and his GOP competition, John McCain.

After promising to do so during his campaign, President Obama has refused to renegotiate NAFTA and other international trade pacts. These agreements, which tend to favor corporate power and profit over the rights and well-being of working people and the health of the environment, were authorized by President Clinton, who had initially opposed NAFTA while running for the White House in 1992.

Democrats have refused to repeal Taft-Hartley restrictions on union organizing. When Republican Gov. Walker want on the warpath against the organizing rights and benefits for public sector workers in Wisconsin in early 2011, Democratic Gov. Cuomo launched a similar assault against public sector workers in New York.

• Are Democrats the party of health care reform and Social Security?

The Democratic Party discarded its platform promise, since 1948, of a national health program while Bill Clinton was president. In 2009, Democratic leaders declared that universal health care (single-payer, also called Medicare For All) would be “off the table” — Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus’s words when he organized the health care reform round tables.

President Obama’s health care bill imposes mandates that function as a direct public subsidy to the health insurance cartel, an idea that Republicans proposed during the 1990s. Whether Democrats passed Obamacare in 2010 or the Republicans prevailed in blocking it, the insurance industry, Big Pharma, and other corporate lobbies would be the real winners.

Contrary to the current belief that the President recently compromised on Social Security and Medicare, he made his intention to slash them clear in 2010 when he appointed his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (“Catfood Commission”) and stacked it with politicians, economists, and company heads hostile to both programs. Rather than alleviating the skyrocketing costs of health care, the highest cause of personal bankruptcies, Obama policies further threaten middle- and low-income Americans and burden retirees.

• Are Democrats the party of social justice?

President Obama has remained silent about record US incarceration rates — the world’s highest, surpassing repressive countries like China and Iran — and the fact that most of those behind bars are young, poor, and mostly black or brown. Since President Clinton, Democratic leaders have supported the growth of the private prison industry, which profits by filling up cells with more inmates.

Both Democrats and Republicans support the War on Drugs, which has ruined lives and caused endless devastation in poor neighborhoods, and the death penalty, despite racial disparities and a growing list of exonerations and errors. President Obama refused to comment on the fate of Troy Davis, who was executed by the state of Georgia despite significant doubts about his guilt (seven out of nine witnesses changed their testimony, some of them claiming police coercion).

• The environment and global warming?

President Obama has authorized more offshore oil drilling (despite the lessons of the disastrous BP spill in the Gulf); endorsed new nuclear power plants that will make money for energy companies while taxpayers assume the high cost and high liability (despite the example of Fukushima); allowed mountaintop removal mining to continue to obliterate and poison the West Virginia landscape; remained silent about the extremely dangerous technique called hydrofracking for natural gas in New York and Pennsylvania; endorsed the myth of clean coal; and is on the verge of approving the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian tar sands.

On September 2, 2011, President Obama killed proposed national air-quality standards for smog, overriding a plan by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce air pollution. His administration, and Democrats in general, have supported greenhouse gas emissions trading schemes (“cap and trade”) that will allow polluting companies to trade and collect licenses to continue polluting. US obstruction remains the greatest impediment to the Kyoto Protocols.

• Peace?

Democrats pretended to be the antiwar party in recent elections, but in 2006 they boosted funding for the wars after gaining control of Congress. President Obama escalated the war on Afghanistan and expanded it into Pakistan, and launched a new invasion (Libya) without the consent of Congress. While ordering the withdrawal of some troops from Iraq, he is implementing Donald Rumsfeld’s plan to replace US armed forces, which are directly accountable to Congress, with private “mercenary” security firms, which aren’t.

In October 2002, the Democratic leadership voted for President Bush’s request for an extra-constitutional transfer of war power from Congress to the White House, effectively endorsing his plan to invade Iraq on fraudulent claims about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs, nuclear weapons acquisition, and collusion with al-Qaeda. Under the Obama Administration, Democrats have adopted the neocon doctrine of unilateral aggression and the use of military force against countries at peace with the US. There has been virtually no difference between the Bush and Obama policies on the Middle East. The Obama Administration, which continues to arm Israel, had no objection to the Israel’s invasion of Gaza and massacre of civilians and strenuously objected to Palestine’s bid for UN recognition.

• The US Constitution and international law?

The Obama Justice Department has refused to investigate Bush-Cheney officials for torture and other gross abuses of power, constitutional violations, and war crimes. The administration has continued many of the same policies: warrantless surveillance of US citizens, denial of habeas corpus, extraordinary rendition, maintenance of “black sites,” harassment and legal action against whistleblowers. President Obama has surpassed the last administration in his intention to assassinate US citizens suspected of terrorism without any semblance of due process, as in the recent case of Anwar al-Awlaki, the US-born cleric killed in Yemen, whose name was on a secret “hit list” of people the President has targeted for summary execution.

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Scott McLarty is Media Coordinator at Green Party of the United States
This article is reposted from Firedoglake.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Euroopean Greens dissed Nuclear Energy.

Some may wonder how Germany was able to spin the energy wheel around to toss nuclear off the table.  I learned today (just today... shame on me) that it was all the work of those pesky Greens.   

While waiting for the dentist to get around to extracting one of my molars, I was reading Clean Energy Nation by Jerry McNerney (my Congressman) and Marty Cheek.  It was there, I found the following: 
An analysis report title "Nuclear Power: The Energy Balance" was prepared for the Green parties of the European Parliament by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith for the United Nations Climate Conference in 2000.  Since then, they have updated their report several times and they warn that the nuclear-power industry's portrayal of nuclear energy as a solution to climate change might not be quite on the mark. The authors state in their detailed study that "the use of nuclear power causes, at the end of the road and under the most favorable conditions, approximately one--third  as much carbon dioxide (CO2) emission as gas fired electricity production."  

Those pesky Greens playing the game of tell the truth. 

McNerney and Cheek continue:

Then then warn us about the unsustainability of nuclear power.  "The rich uranium ores required to achieve this reduction are, however, so limited that if the entire present world electricity demand were to be provided by nuclear power, these ores would be exhausted within nine years.   Use of the remaining poorer ores in nuclear reaction would produce more CO2 emissions that burning fossil fuels directly.
This is the blunt statement of the truth that we need to be hearing from Green leadership in the US.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, and then what?

I have a great deal of admiration for those who have taken to the street, especially Wall Street, to protest what unbridled greed has done to our country.  It takes courage to do that when one's job, or the possibility of getting a job in this down economy, is threatened by your action.  While many have taken issue with some of the coverage, some of the better coverage still show up the weaknesses of this movement.  I believe that we need to have more media savvy folks step forward as volunteer spokespersons for this grassroots effort.  This need became so apparent during a CNN segment that I watched last week..  The journalist stopped a protestor and said something like this: "I see you have a case against the excesses of capitalism.  What would you like to see in its place?"  Then, with the microphone in his face, the protestor just stood there, lost for any words.  

As a political party, Greens can not allow that loss for an alternative explanation stand.  There needs to be an answer to that question if Greens are to have a chance with a national candidate.  Lacking that answer, there will be no electoral success.  

If anyone believes that this is not very serious. then they need to read the Bloomberg News investigative report on the Koch Brothers, David and Charles, and the privately held corporation that funds so much of the Tea Party efforts. 
For six decades around the world, Koch Industries has blazed a path to riches — in part, by making illicit payments to win contracts, trading with a terrorist state, fixing prices, neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations. At the same time, Charles and David Koch have promoted a form of government that interferes less with company actions.
 That is about as blunt as one can get.   So every time you hear a Congressman talk about ending excessive regulation, or gutting the EPA, you are experiencing the effect of Koch power. Knowing that, what are the alternative for Greens?  As a political party, Greens do not have a single answer to that question?  There is no economic theory that sets Greens apart from the others. 

Perhaps the only thing we can agree on is that we need to put an end to Corporate Personhood.  Most Greens support Move to Amend with varying degrees of enthusiasm.  If that is the single alternative idea that we have, then we need to get Tea Party Angry that this fiction is still allowed.