Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford

The recent death of Gerald Ford has brought forth the usual set of commentaries from those who knew him. Not having had that experience, but having lived through the Watergate years, I can only rely on the comments of those who did know him. The one word that rund through almost every commentary, from Presidents (Carter, George H. W. Bush) to reporters (Charlie Gibson, Tom Brokaw) to his presidential photographer (David Hume Kennerly) was "decent".

Maybe that comes through a number of quotes attributed to Ford.

  • I have had a lot of adversaries in my political life, but no enemies that I can remember.
  • I would hope that understanding and reconciliation are not limited to the 19th hole alone.
  • The political lesson of Watergate is this: Never again must America allow an arrogant, elite guard of political adolescents to by-pass the regular party organization and dictate the terms of a national election.
  • Truth is the glue that holds government together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go.
It appears to me that most of the traits that allowed him to serve his country are sorely lacking today, the administration of George W. Bush, the governance of the Green Party.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Green Christmas?

Maybe it is doubly appropriate on this blog to make at least one comment about a Green Christmas. Not that the season can't be happy for people anyway, but isn't there at least a little more that we can do? So I made a list, did not even check it once and checking it twice would be a waste of energy.

Well, it is probably too late now. At my pace, I will be making Ground Hog Day resolutions, again... and again... and again.

Real life intrudes

As Greens, we seem to constantly deal with things that have nothing to do with real life. It is as if we become so frustrated with aspects of real life, things we feel powerless to change, that we construct obstacles that we feel there is a chance that we can handle. Maybe that is the reason so many California Greens spend so much energy try to deal with...
  • who is really the LA County rep on the CC.
  • whether Peter Camejo dissed the SF Green Party.
  • is David Cobb really a Demo-Green
Then, we get a reminder that that there are those dealing with real life. Mike Ewall, CoCo of the the national Eco Action Committee, sent out a note today in which he directed us to the plight of some Navajo Grandmothers who are acting in opposition to a proposed "dirty" coal plant on the Reservation. This was a subject of a number of my blog posts when PomboWatch was still up.

The basic problem comes because the Navajo Reservation has a lot of coal and a lack of jobs. Therefore, every time a new project comes along, it always has the promise of new jobs for an area the sorely needs them. Coal, however, is never a clean energy source.

The story is told from two sides. The link above gives a good story of those who oppose the new plant. The corporate story is another case. At least, on that site, you can also leave comments on the project by clicking on Comments in the top menu.

California has taken a stand in support of cleaner solutions for electric power. When the State of California told the Mojave Power Generating Station (Laughlin, NV) to clean up its emissions or they would not buy any more power from them, the plant ended up shutting down rather than clean up their act. Governor Schwarzenegger just leaned on the City of Truckee to persuade them NOT to sign a long term contract for power from a Coal fired plant in Utah.

With Pombo gone, we now have to watch what Democrat Nick Rahall does as Chairman of the House Committee on "Natural" Resources, as he wants to rename it. That Committee has oversight responsibility for our Resources and also for the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs. Rahall is from W. Virginia, a major coal state and has a long relationship with the coal industry.

Maybe we should introduce the Raging Grannies to their Navajo counterparts. And remind me not to get on the wrong side of a grandmother.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The more things change, etc.

I grew up in a time that was essentially before television. I can remember going to a neighbor's home to watch the 1956 presidential conventions in b/w. Now, we have our airwaves filled with political pundits, comedy / variety shows, sports, sit-coms, etc. Before we had all of this we had to rely on radio and travelling vaudeville. Political Comedy came from the likes of Will Rogers, whom I quote here.
Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.
He always found a way to skewer Congress.
And the thing about my jokes is, they don't hurt anybody. You can take 'em or leave 'em - you can say they're funny or they're terrible or they're good, or whatever, but you can just pass 'em by. But with Congress, every time they make a joke, it's a law! And every time they make a law, it's a joke!
Maybe we need a Green sit-com to reach today's public.

Political Interference in Science.

One of my favorite rant subjects involves political interpretations of scientific data. It is one reason that Chris Mooney's blog exists. I have just found that the Union of Concerned Scientists have developed a novel gimic for explaining the extent of this elemental strategy to subvert the truth.

For a wonderful exzample of how your tax payer dollars are being spent, you only need to look at the information package presente regarding Earth Day 2006.

Still, there are more examples of the fact that the tide is changing regards climate change and energy policy. I offer the following quote from one member of a discussion panel at last Weeks meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
"Climate change is real, and we clearly believe we are on a route to mandatory controls on carbon dioxide and we need to start now because the longer we wait, the more difficult and expensive this is going to be." - James Rogers, CEO, Duke Energy in NY Times.
I think that we need to provide a political action equivalent to the Union of Concerned Scientists Chart. Maybe we can get commoner1 to host it at Green Commons. Does anyone want to help with this?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Every little bit helps.

All through my recent commentary has been the idea that the Green Party needs to get real about raising money in small amounts. In his recent campaign for Congress, Jerry McNerney (CA 11) raised a very large amount of money where the average contribution was under $150. So, it can be done.

Some simple math:

Were we to get $10 from all 141,451 registered Greens (10/23/2006 data) we would have added nearly $1.5 million in the state budget.

So, this is my challenge. Go here and donate at least $10. Then, get two additional Green Party members to do the same. Every little bit helps. I would love to have State GP Treasurer, Kenny Mostern, complaining about the gas he was burning going to the bank to make deposits.

If the Green Party is doing anything worth while, it is worth supporting with a cost of a few lattes at your local coffee house.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Are we ready?

There was an interesting comment by David Brooks on the Chris Matthews show this week. Brooks, a very conservitave NY Times Columnist, thought that the American public was more ready to accept an African American as President than they were to accept a woman. This went deeper than just the fact that Clinton has accumulated more baggage than has Obama. Now, I am seeing the first stirring of GP activist interest in another run by white, male Dennis Kucinich.

I find it very interesting that Greens seem to jump up and down to show concern for Democrat Cynthia McKinney, (link soon to disappear) especially after her parting shot introduction of an "Impeach Bush" bill in the House of Representative, and yet I hear so little support for Malik Rahim who seems to be working very hard to make New Orleans into a Greener city. Are Greens more comfortable with McKinney than they are with an ex-Black Panther? Is this only a question of the fact that, like many other Amercans, there is emotional room for only one issue and that is Iraq. It seems to me that Rahim is living Green and that deserves considerable support, now and always.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Greenback Dollars

Lisa left a comment to my previous post re: Greens and Money. It seems that one anthem of the party may come from the old Hoyt Axton song, Greenback Dollar. We don't seem to have enough of them. We seem to despise those who do, and who use the power of those greenbacks to influence opinon.

There are two thoughts that come time mind, each in a way that points to doing things differently. There is an image of the Green Party as being a bunch of older, have it made urbanites who are playing politics. Like most, that image is partly true. The one thing that is definitely not true is the "have it made" part. I would say that there are many Greens who would participate more if it were not for the fact that they have to earn a living. At the same time, there are those who have participated in the work of the party even though it meant that they set aside doing what should have been done to make sure that they and their family well cared for. Being Green is a family decision.

Another thought is that we do not have the proper focus within the organization. We have a finance committee that appears to function primarily as a "budget" committee. I make that differentiation without knowing anything that goes on in the finance committee, only on the fact that the only interaction I have had with the committee was to participate in the preparation of budgets for various working groups (GROW and GIWG).

If we are serious about being a party, we need to find better methods of fund raising than just having 2 donate links on the GPCA home page. The lack of anything other than that is one more evidence that we are not yet ready for prime time (you do need money for getting into prime time).

So, it is in that vein that I am soliticing ideas for fund raising activities that can be conducted by GPCA or any of it's locals. Just add them here as comments. I will make sure that the GPCA Finance Committee gets a chance to see them. No promises that anyone will do anything, but you never know unless you tell us.

Suggestion #1: Subscription drive for Green Focus. We need to turn this into a revenue stream and paid subscription help.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Science and Public Policy

Just two additional comments here:

First, in yesterday's post I mentioned that I wanted to hear Al Gore's speech to the American Geophysical Union. Well, it is online, both text and video, at the KGO-TV. Maybe it is a bit long (52:18) on self-deprecating humor, and the audio has a large room echo, but interesting never the less. His point about the divergence of science and culture is well taken. He quoted someone as saying "John Stuart Mills was the last man to know everything."

Along with this disjunction, there comes the fact that we have politicized science so that (Yes, here he used that term.) inconvenient truths need not to be discussed. This is not a new, 21st Century phenomenon. The story of Gallileo attests to the fact that scientific truths, when convenient, are always challenged by some power structure. The question is rather what we do about it.

As Greens, we need to begin to take leadership in restoring a scientific view of the world as a basis for policy. What better basis is there for policy than a factual view of the world as it really exists, or as close to that as the best minds of our time can achieve?

I am not sure that many Greens are ready to do that. There is an orthodoxy in progressive thought that is just as rigid as the orthodoxy of church in Gallileo's time, one that would deny those truths that challenge their assumptions about how the world really is.

One of the things that I do is to watch the number of people who read this blog, especially those who read more than the latest post on the home page. Those numbers go up when I post about internal Green politics and go down when I post about ecology. From this I conclude that either people are not interested in the subjet or, conversely, assume that there is nothing that they can do about such big, not so easy to understand issues.

To return to Gore's speech, it is his view the the current "Climate Crisis" is only a symptom of a greater, underlying conflict between human kind as a species and our planet. If that is true, then there is no political structure that is better positioned to "frame" these issues and suggest solutions to the problems that they present, than the Green Party. I really pains me that we are not exerting any kind of leadership here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Scientific Basis for Public Policy

The idea of basing public policy, when possible, on the best of what we know through science seems so sensible that I can not imagine anyone who would do otherwise. Still, we have an administration in Washington that seems determined to do otherwise.

Chris Mooney
, a journalist with a bent for science, has called this "The Republican War on Science." It is hard to understand what the government thinks they are doing, but when the Environmental Protection Agency is directed to shut down their libraries and to destroy the research that is currently available there, it is just about the last straw.

A few in government are fighting back in an organized manner. An organization of governmental workers called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) sent out a press release last week that now says the EPA is "purging records from its library websites, making them unavailable to both agency scientists and outside researchers..". If it is toxic, if it can make you sick, better to not let anyone know about it. They might panic.

It is no wonder that the people of this country have lost their faith in our government.

Scientists, on the other hand, take it seriously in their own meetings. The American Geophysical Union is holding its 2006 Fall meeting in San Francisco this week. The lunch speaker on Thursday will be Al Gore. His topic is "Climate Change: The Role of Science and the Media in Policymaking".

With the Republicans waging their War on Science, we should find that the media would be representing the citizens, showing us where the truth lies. Instead, they find two experts with differing opinions, ask them the same question and call that "balanced coverage." I call it lazy journalism. We really need someone to identify for us just exactly where policy intervenes to alter the perception of fact.

This is one time that I would be willing to sit through an unexciting Gore speech, because he just might be one who will tell the truth.

Getting the Green for CA Greens

No one doubts that running in elections demand a lot of money. Greens don't have much. In fact, it seems to me that many Greens have moved from viewing "the love of money" as the root of all evil, to just "money".

The realist is that money has always driven politics. Will Rogers (1879-1935) had fun with this, as the following quotes are attributed to him.
  • A fool and his money are soon elected.
  • Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated
Just remember that this was before the days of television and robo-calls. As regards the last quote, in the election that I am most familiar with, Jerry McNerney spent approx. $14 per vote to defeat Richard Pombo Pombo, on the other hand, spent just over $36 to lose. What is not included in this number if the amount of money that the Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and the Humane Society dumped into the race in opposition to Pombo. That was easily over $10 for every vote for McNerney.

What do we need to think about as Greens? How serious are we about winning elections and how much money do we need to put in the bank to pull it off? If winning your election is going to take 80,000 votes, then you clearly need to think of raising $1 million to make it happen or have a very aggressive, very effective alternative strategy and friends with deep pockets.

The next thing to think about is where does the money come from. The Green Party has a formal position of not accepting money from corporations. That is reasonable. Other than that, I believe that we are governed by election law and individual conscience. Let me take the example of the Green Institute that was mentioned by a Humboldt County resident in previous comments.

Even in the non-profits that are beginning to show up around the Green Party, money is important to get started and keep it running. As a party we do not
  • have a full time press secretary;
  • have even a secreatary who can answer the phone, set up meetings, prepare agendas, etc.
  • have any on going data analysis of where our votes are coming from or where / why we are losing registration.
Maybe, this party would do better if we learned how to deal with money and its ethical use.

When we look at the Green Institute and those who were characterized as "Cobb Cronies", we find the following people on the board of directors: Gloria Mattera, Malik Rahim, Anita Rios, Audrey Thayer. Every one of these, have made significant contributions to the Green Party in their communities and to their communities themselves through grassroots activism. And yes, David Cobb is on the Board also. There is also a Board of Advisors that is possibly even more well known, including Medea Benjamin, Sam Smith and John Rensenbrink. So, this is the list of people who are called shills for the Demcrats.

I still don't buy all of the arguements. While I was not happy with the Republican effort to support Greens as an election strategy in Pennsylvania (and last election in Monterey County, CA), I don't find that the fact Dean Meyerson accepted money from people who were registered Democrats when starting the Green Institute was unethical. I have looked at the publications and collective work that Meyerson's group has published as part of the Green Institute's efforts, and there is nothing that I find which is so antithetical to Green Values as to be destructive. In fact, some of the members of the Advisory Board were notable for advising Cobb NOT to run on a safe states strategy.

If we want to continue to run this party on a purely volunteer basis, then we are also saying that we want a bunch of rich people running the party, because those are the only ones who have enough money to provide the full time effort required to do something right. If we are satisfied with half measures and sloppy work, poor communications, etc. then we have to accept the consequences.

And do not expect the public to bail us out with public financing of campaigns. Post election polling done by the Public Policy Institue of California indicated that this is an idea that does not have very good reception with the voters of California. This was discussed by Frank Russo in the California Progress Report.

So, if we want to start winning elections, we need to figure out how to raise money, ethically, and then come up with a way to measure the effectiveness of our expenditures. Sometimes allowing everyone to get "their share" does not make good sense.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Turning on the spotlight

As my previous post indicated, there are still people in GPCA who are fighing Cobb / Nader. Or maybe they are fighting Cobb / GDI. Or maybe they are just fighting David Cobb. I can think of nothing that we is more detrimental to the operation of GPCA than continuing this fight.

I keep hearing the term "future focus" in Green Party discussions, but when it comes to politics, we seem to be intent on invoking the past, even re-living it. When we should be dealing with the issues that most voters are worried about we spend too damned much energy in a circular game of Russian Roulette.

Now, the question du jour is one of which group of Regional Reps to seat for LA County. While this has been bottled up in Coordinating Committee, Bylaws Committee and other internal discussions, maybe it is time to shine a little light on it for all to see. This is rather like sending the Florida Election to the Supreme Court with the ByLaws Committee acting as the court. I am not sure that they have that power, nor am I sure that the outcome of such a decisions would be any more universally accepted by Greens than that of the Supreme Court decision of 2000.

In the mean time, this controversy is tying up the entire operations of the GPCA so that not even the next GA can be scheduled.

So, here is a suggestion to get past it. Everyone else in the State should shut up about GP in LA. All six of the regional reps should resign pending the election of a replacement. Then the LA Green Party should invite the Carter Center to supervise a new election as a guarantee of fairness. Let everyone campaign for the role.

Then, as is only fair, we should start holding all Regional Reps accountable for their performance accoring to the job description. It is clear to me that most Regional Reps fail to perform at least 50% of the tasks. I know that I could not, which is why I have not run for such an office. But I still have the right to criticize the performance of others.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Some people still fight 2004.

Earlier, I wrote about a senryu contest. The one reply, and subject of this post, that I have received so far was:

Stop this cowardice
Stand up to Cobb's evil
Fight the Democrats ... by anonymous.

I found this a bit ironic, that one would talk of cowardice and refuse to identify themselves.

To which they replied.

Either stand up to the Democrats or be abandoned as irrelevant. It's your choice.
No, it is those who continue to fight the 2004 election all over again who are irrelevant. Developing policy on the basis of opposing what the Democrats are doing is giving them control over your actions. What a stupid thing to do. It is worthy of Karl Rove.

It is time to start a new Green Revolution in CA and, if the Democrats don't want to join, it is they who will become irrelevant. Just as the Repbulicans are playing to their base to the point that they are in danger of becoming a minor regional (southern) party, those who continue to fight this idiotic battle are the ones who endanger this party.

A Green Revolution begins when we start defining what a Green California could become, and then begin to work toward that vision. All else is just pretense.

Your senryu will remain, as invited, but the other comment, having found a new home here, will be deleted from the senryu thread.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Global Greens

I find it somewhat ironic that Greens are so adamant in their opposition to globalization yet affirm the power of the Global Green movement. At least, to even have a Global Green Conference, we seem to need at least international (global) transportation companies / national airlines.

So, what is it about globalization that is so terribly wrong and which makes Thomas Friedman into an object of derision? After all, Friedman made quite a stir when commenting that "Green is the new Red, White and Blue." Of course he meant small-g green, a statement about ecology and technology and the role that it should play in the economy. Friedman even called for the creation of a Geo-Green Party.

[My apologies for the NY Times Select links... they now charge to view their archives but a web search will find lots of people who comment on both Friedman articles.]

Just taking a quick look at the work of the GPCA, I find that Friedman has some validity in making this call. There is little that the GPCA, or the GPUS, is doing in a positive manner to provide a vision of a Green future in either ecological or economic terms. The list of activities from the GPCA is relatively small.
  • Working to block the expansion of WarMart.
  • Campaigning for a higher minimum wage.
The evidence of a lack of concern for similar questions is abundant, but nothing is more clear than the fact that there are no "coordinators" for either Community Based Sustainable Economics or Ecology & Earth Stewardship within the Green Issues Working Group. It is as if, having written a good platform statement we are saying "been there, done that" and what is next.

If there is one thing about the Nature of Order, it is the interconnectedness of things. My best example came from the pages of High Country News. I read there of a company named Wheat Montana. A vertically integrated family business, they practice a "green" agriculture, keep the processing of the wheat to flour in the local community, and even have their own bakeries supporting a regional distribution. Knowing this, I started to look for Wheat Montana flour in my local stores. When I finally found it, we used it for baking our own bread and found the quality to be worth its slight extra cost. The other side of the coin is that the only store carrying it is WalMart.

I know that there are Green activists who push for specific programs. Anyone participating in the Rural Green discussion list has been well indoctrinated in the terminology of Georgian Economics, especially the phrases:
  • privatize what is socialized (negative externalities)
  • socialize what is privatized (economic rent)
The same individuals take this approach on the national Eco-Action committee email list.

I also know that there are individual, community efforts in the Northwestern counties (Mendocino, Humboldt) of California to establish a truly localized economy.

I still maintain that there is no easily understood vision of what a Green World would be like, no shared common understanding of what makes us unique. If one were to look at even the more intelligent (not Rush Limbaugh) Republican sites, they still use the term "greenies" to indicate a group of people who are against everything.

So what are we for?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Senryu contest

'This is a contest with no prize other than the fact that good entries stay on the site and bad ones get axed.

What, you may as, you may ask is a senryu? The link give a longer definition with example, but the short definition is that it is a short verse in similar struture to haiku. That is, a 5 - 7- 5 syllable structure. The difference is that the senryu is more like black comedy, ironic, sardonic, sometimes self-deprecating, at least comic.

I am soliticiting senryu on green themes, including the current state of affairs in the leadership of the party. My own paltry initial effort ...

Cold tonight. So bad
that even Al Gore asked me
to turn up the heat.

How creative are we?

Supreme Judicial Judgement

I check in periodically with Chris Mooney at Intersection on Science Blogs. He is now picking on poor old justice Scalia and his performance in the recent hearing on the question of whether the EPA has the authority to, or is compelled to, set standards for CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Milkey, I had -- my problem is precisely on the impermissible grounds. To be sure, carbon dioxide is a pollutant, and it can be an air pollutant. If we fill this room with carbon dioxide, it could be an air pollutant that endangers health. But I always thought an air pollutant was something different from a stratospheric pollutant, and your claim here is not that the pollution of what we normally call "air" is endangering health. That isn't, that isn't -- your assertion is that after the pollutant leaves the air and goes up into the stratosphere it is contributing to global warming.

MR. MILKEY: Respectfully, Your Honor, it is not the stratosphere. It's the troposphere.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Troposphere, whatever. I told you before I'm not a scientist.


JUSTICE SCALIA: That's why I don't want to have to deal with global warming, to tell you the truth
Mooney is not the only one to have trouble with this. Carl Pope also commented this week.
The important issue is not whether EPA must, or only can, regulate greenhouse pollutants-- what's also being decided here is whether the states can regulate global warming pollution themselves. If EPA can regulate CO2, then so can California and other states -- so their right to set emission standards for CO2 from motor vehicles would be protected as long as the Supreme Court concedes that CO2 is a pollutant. And the real reason the Bush Administration has fought against admitting that CO2 is a pollutant is its desire to block state action to clean up vehicle emissions.
So, in all of this, where is the Green Party? I don't see much going on. The Green Issues Working Group in CA has no one at the present time to function as a Coordinator for Ecology & Earth Stewardship. Maybe it not all that important for most. It were we would be doing some of the following:
  • Taking a public policy position in support of the current law suit.
  • Establishing an ongoing contact with the California Department of Resources.
  • Identifying a list of the top envioronmental issues in California with CO2 and methane emissions near the top.
  • Developing a close working relationship with the non-profits that are doing much of the advocacy work.
Anyone got another idea? I want to hear it.
The most kind descriptin term that I have heard used recently applied to the Coordinating Committee (CC) of GPCA is "disfunctional". There are now those who would call it irrelevant.

It is far from irrelevant as long as there are legal definitions for the Green Party in the State of California. It is not irrelevant as long as there is a legal relationship with the Green Party of the United States. If it has become completely irrelevant, then that would mean that the GPCA has become irrelevant and I will not accept that judgement.

However, the CC may not have much of a say as to what happens with the Green Party if effective leadership asserts itself at some other levels. There is a wide range of entities within GPCA that do not need any official sanction from the CC in order to operate.

County Councils operate on their own to reflect Green Values at a level just above the community. As such, they should be developing their own programs, finding their own candidates and establishing their own governance.

The Working Groups of GPCA need only to justify and receive a budget from the CC. They have their own set of concerns and can deal with them as time and energy permit.
  • Green Issues Working Group can, and has in the past, worked effectively independly of any CC involvement until GIWG comes forward to the General Assembley for approval of a resolution. Their only current problem is an overall lack of involvement in some of the current major issues in California.
  • GrassRoots Organizing Working Group is tasked"to provide resources for collaboration, skill sharing, and training in order to promote the strategic growth and diversity of the Green Party of California." This makes their role somewhat passive. What we need is for GROW to become more aggressive in identifying opportunities for GROWth and making getting the resources in place to make that happen.
  • Campaigns and Candidate Working Group - Now that 2006 election cycle is over, we need to start laying plans for 2008.
  • Electoral Reform Working Group - These activists are working for a political process that protects the rights of voting Californians. It is convenient that this also gives Greens a greater voice.
I believe that it is time for the activists of the GPCA to place their energies into local work with their county councils, or into work within the structure of the Standing Committees and Working Groups. If we place our energies into doing what needs to be done, that leadership will find it's way into the CC, while will follow. Isn't that the Green way, where the grassroots determine what the leadership should be doing?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

GPCA Focus

Mike Feinstein has joined the blogger world. He has a new blog called A Global Green. It appears that Mike will be publishing stories about Green activity from around the world as well as using the site to promote the Global Greens Conference in Nairobi, Kenya in 2008.

I read the first post from Mike, a news story about the leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May. It is good news to see that Greens can become at least the loyal opposition as May finished 2nd among 4 candidates in a partisan special election to fill a vacant seat in the Canadian parliament.

I find it striking that the basis of her relatively successful campaign is so different from the Green Party's focus in the US and especially that in the GPCA.
May was elected Party Leader at a national Green Party convention in late August in Ottawa. Since then, she's been shifting the focus of Canadian political debate around environment and economy.
I no longer find either the economy or the environment as being central to the debate in the GPCA. It is all about electoral reform rather than winning converts to our issues and programs. I wonder if that disconnect is why we are losing registration at a time when the majority of California Voters say that they support the rise of a strong third party. (p. 9 of the linked PPIC Survey Report).
The current favor for Democrats notwithstanding, a long-term challenge looms for the two-party system. Majorities of Californians (53%) and likely voters (56%) believe that the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. Independents (72%) are far more likely than Democrats (52%) and Republicans (45%) to believe a third party is needed, but the numbers of voters who hold this view are significant across the board. "“The growing numbers of independent voters may drive this change, but the fact is that many Californians question the relevance of the current system," says Baldassare. (Research Director - Public Policy Institute of California).
If the GPCA wants a model of how to succeed, maybe we only have to look to Canada.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Third Party Thoughts

In late October, just a couple of weeks before the Nov. 7 election, the Public Policy Institute of California produced a report entitled Californians and the Future. This is a typical PPIC survey of attitudes coordinated by PPIC Director Mark Baldassare.

One of the interesting facts that fell out was that there is an increasing desire for a third party.

The current favor for Democrats notwithstanding, a long-term challenge looms for the two-party system. Majorities of Californians (53%) and likely voters (56%) believe that the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. Independents (72%) are far more likely than Democrats (52%) and Republicans (45%) to believe a third party is needed, but the numbers of voters who hold this view are significant across the board. “The growing numbers of independent voters may drive this change, but the fact is that many Californians question the relevance of the current system,” says Baldassare.
This should be a rallying cry for us Greens, if we could get past our collective navel gazing and really look around at what is going on in around us.

In the recent efforts to unseat Richard Pomb, the environmental organization Clean Water Action Project managed to register 10,000 new voters in San Joaquin County and very close to 6,000 were Latino. I have been told that most of these registered DTS. Again, that should give us a reason to go to work, since it is the DTS voters who are more in favor of a third party.

If the leadership of the party is not going to act on this, then let them lead from behind.

Green Environmental Issues

I am increasingly of the opinion that the GPCA has lost it's focus on environmental issues. One note that I read on the very small (5 member) GPCA-Environment email list suggests that we need to identify a major environmental issue in California and to start working on that one issue. So, here is my suggestion, personal as it something that I am increasingly passionate about.

I want to see a Green Party of California focus on maintainting / improving the status of the California Delta. In many real ways, the Delta is the Hub of California's future. It is also at the nexus of many environmental practices:
  • increasing population in Southern California creates a bigger demand for diverting water from the delta.
  • if additional water is diverted, it takes away from agricultural use in the Centeral Valley.
  • additional water can be saved if people are willing to build more dams.
  • the reduced water flow from diversions and dams will affect fish populations, especially chinook salmon.
  • reduced water flows will allow more saline water from San Francisco Bay to enter the delta and affect water quality for both agriculture and human consumption.
  • additional pumping of ground water causes delta farmland to sink below sea level.
  • and it is all threatened by the rising sea level that is a result of global climate changes.
However, there are other issues and I am not the only one whose opinion counts. So, I ask you to comment on this post to identify other issues on which we might focus. Or, you can subsrcibe to the GPCA-Environment email list linked above and express your opinion there.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Green Community

The Green Party of California (GPCA)has multiple online expressions. They reflect the divergent interests and many moods of Greens. If we were all the same shade of Green, there would not a need for such diversity of media expressions.

The most formal expression of GPCA Green-ness is the GPCA web site itself. This is the formal public face of the party. The platform has been provided by the IT Committee. It is stable and performs fairly well.

The GPCA Media Committee is responsible for the "content" that is one the site. That is not entirely true. Ever Committee and Working Group is responsible for their own content. But the overall structure, look and feel, basic information is put ther by the media committee, which is as it should be. Considering that the most visible work product of the Media Committee are the many press releases that go out, the definition of Green Activity to the press, it is only a simple extention to that to say that Media should also be responsible for the rest of the public content, defining Green Party activity to the rest of the world.

There is a second level of online expression that is encapsulated in the many email lists by which various subjects are brought up for discussion, sometimes to the point of open battle, sometimes to the point of boredom, but almost never is anything every brought to any conclusion. People just get tired of one subject and move on to another. However it takes little work to particpate. Emails show up in your inbox, you respond or not, but the material is pushed at you whether you want it or not. However, anyone can start a thread just by sending their own email with a different subject.

Then, there are the blogs. This one has three nominal authors, though only two of us (Oval and myself) have every written any material. Others could become authors by writing a note to me and explaining why they would want to. Unlike the email lists, only a very few people (authors) start a thread, though anyone can contribute. Blogs are also unlike the email lists in that they are a pull media. You need to decide to go to a blog and look at it. Otherwise, you would never know it is there. But, once it is there, it is there forever (or until the owner decides to shut it down.)

Now, on the GPCA owned cal-forum email list, there is a discussion about the development of a Standing General Assembley, an online, democratic, decision making function of the GPCA.

Since that is not so well defined, I suggest using this post as an open thread to collect suggestions about how we build the online community that a Standing GA requires.

Monday, November 20, 2006


As a member of the national Eco-Action Committee I should give California Greena a periodic update. Like the GPCA, the Eco-Action Committee suffers from a lack of direction.

Part of this comes from the very nature of the subject matter. While some issues, Global Warming is a prime example, has a universal scope, many others have very sepcific local or regional concerns that are the focus of attention. In California, one of the major concerns is water and the politics of water. However, switch to New England and water use is still something you drink, not something that you fight over.

Another issue that we have in California involves the relationship of water, climate change and agriculture. If agriculture is the enconomic engine for the Central Valley, we had better pay attention to what is happening. No matter what we do about global warming as a whole, the farmers of California will find that they have an entirely new set of challenges: changing crops, faster growing weeds, new preciptation patterns.

Solutions to these will not be found in pronouncements from minor parties. We need to be working with local coalitions (eg. Restore the Delta) to achieve our environmental objectives. Still, at the same time, we should not be shy about letting people know that we are Greens. To the extent that we contribute to the orgnization's success, then the Green Party will also share in that success and gain credibility as a political organization as well.

And never doubt that these efforts are political.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Endangered Science

In my odyssey toward understanding the real dangers of Pombo's work in the House of Representatives, I came across the writings of Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science.

Mooney seems to be enthused over the prospect of a new Congress without James Inhofe as Chair of the Senate Commimttee on Environment and Public Works (it will be Sen. Boxer) or with Joe Barton as Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He neglected to even mention Pombo, maybe because he was ultimately so ineffective.

There are still many issues that remain and powerful interests that are alreay lining up to lobby Democrats in the same manner as the previously lobbied Republicans. Speaker to be Pelosi promised lobby reform in the first 100 hrs of a new Democratic House. We need to watch how powerful she really is and whether she can actually deliver on that promise.

Mooney feels that the scientific issues are fundamentally partisan, that the Democrats are on the side of truth and the Republicans are not.
...the treatment of specific science-related issues--global warming, embryonic stem cell research, etc--will also change. In short, we're going to be in a very different world in terms of the relationship between politics and science in the United States. Some good old checks and balances will be coming into force--thank goodness.

By the way, all of this is proof enough--as if anyone ever needed any--that many core aspects of science policy are fundamentally partisan in the currrent political climate. That's why we expect them to change when Congress changes hands.
This is where I feel Mooney has too much faith in the power of scientific reasoning and too little apprehension about the power of money. The think tanks that fed the Republican agenda all had proper sounding names. The Annapolis Center for Science Based Public Policy was truthfully funded by Exxon-Mobil and the Pharmeceutical Industry. Their agenda had little to do with science, but rather they existed only to turn the term "sound science" into a code word for "scientists do not know everything so trust us."

The problems of land use, water use, agricultural land retention, energy and global warming can not be totally separated. There will be many special interests who will tell us all that there is no "sound science" on which to base any policy decisions. What that means is that we are supposed to deprive ourselves of the best tools available for shaping those decisions and rely on their judgement, not our own.

Greens need to demand that we start using the best science currently available in order to shape policy. Once we do, we have a chance to establish some sort of environmental justice in this country. Until we do, we have no chance.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Whither the Green Party?

Many people are looking for a new direction, believing that the Green Party is losing ground due to the Nader effect. While that effect is real, I only had to mention that I was a Green on Daily Kos to be invited to take a hike, or at least read the FAQ which said that it was a Democratic Blog.

One of the suggestions is that we focus on (a) electoral reform and (b) that we work on "the local, nonpartisan, level to elect people who agree with our values and goals." That is the gist of Orval Osborne's post earlier this week.

After participating in and observing the congressional races in the 4th and 11th Districts in California, I would also say that we need to imrove the manner in which we go about recruiting candidates, defining the issues on which to build a campaign and executing. I don't think that we do well enough at any of these elements of gaining political power to be able to call ourselve a party of the future.

The 4th CD has a 48 - 30 edge in registration, with the Republicans holding a 16 percentage point lead. Yet, in the last election, the results were Doolittle (R) 49%, Brown (D) 46%, Warren (Lib) 5%. While Doolittle is a seriously flawed candidate, the manner in which Brown was able take the battle into Doolittle's front yard was a wonder to see. Both Brown and Warren were able to pickup votes fare beyond their registration numbers (0.69% for the Libertarians.)

So, the opportunity is there for a well run campaing to do far exceed the party base.

Then, in San Joaquin County, the Clean Water Action Project did a great job of registering new voters. They worked form June through to Oct and registered over 10,000 voters, of which >5,900 were Hispanic. The interesting fact, though, is that most of the Hispanics did NOT register Democratic. They Declined to State their preference.

There is a great opportunity to build on that fact in the San Joaquin Valley. The area from Stockton to Bakersfield comprises 6 Congressional Districts and 5 State Senate Districts. The phrase that I have heard from Hispanic leadership in the Stockton area is that they are tired of the Democratic Party taking them for granted.

In the 34th AD, David Silva pulled 2,399 votes in a district with only 755 Greens.
So, I will continue to build up a list of people, issues, contacts and hope that we can take advantage of an opening that is truly there.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A New Green Revolution, but....

Last year, I finally subscribed to High Country News. One of the first copies that I recieved had an article entitle "The New Green Revolution." This was about farmers in Montana who were dedicated to doing it the right way, with a respect for that land and a desire to ensure the future of the small town where they lived.

One of the ventures was named "Wheat Montana"/.
But vanguard agriculture is about more than just organics. Just ask Dean Folkvord, the 44-year-old CEO of Wheat Montana. He began by taking over his family farm, which his father started in 1958 with 250 acres. Now it’s 15,000 acres. Folkvord doesn’t see expansion as necessarily bad. "That’s the way the rest of the world works right now," he says. Efficiency matters, however: "When we started farming, we were getting 20 bushels per acre. Now we’re at 40, even 50 bushels per acre."

Wheat Montana brands its product with names such as "Bronze Chief Hard Red Spring Wheat." Although it’s not USDA-certified organic, Wheat Montana uses an independent lab to ensure that there are no herbicide or pesticide residues in its products. The company advertises its products as "Better than Organic."

Folkvord has also figured out something else. "One of the myths is that farmers produce food," he says. "That’s not true. They grow the raw products."

I was lucky to find Wheat Montana flour are a store in Gilroy recently. Since we bake our own bread, we tried their "Bronze Chief Whole Wheat" flour. It made great bread and it was worth paying a little more for a quailty product, especially when I knew a bit about the background of the company.

The problem... the only store carrying their product was WalMart.

Oh, well. Maybe I can talk Trader Joe's into carrying it when they open their store in Morgan HIll.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Some questions about the election

To begin, we can all celebrate the election of Gayle McLaughlin in Richmond. This is a city with many problems, but with a core of people who are willing to work for change. When Richmond makes the news, it is most generally for yet another gang related killing. Even when the citizens of Richmond set up a tent village and camped out at nights in a dangerous area, they ended up being less than a football field's length from yet another killing. Gayle has more than a normal mayor's job to do and deserves all the support that she can get, from everyone, all over the state.

Then, when looking at the statewide returns, we have the fact that most down ticket candidates had better success than those at the top of the Ticket, Peter Camejo and Todd Chretien. One possible explanation for this is to declare it pesonal dislike of the candidates. Another is that it is a repudiation of their positioning of the Green Party at the far left of the political spectrum. Camejo is at his best when he talks about specific solutions to specific problems. There, it is his intelligence that comes through. We did not see that often enough in this campaign.

The top vote getter, Insurance Commissioner candidate Larry Cafiero, may be been the beneficiary of the fact that the Democratic candidat, Cruz Bustamante, was very flawed. Having failed to succeed Gray Davis in the recall election, and then again for the office of Insurance Commissioner, Bustamante may need to find a real job, perhaps as a lobbyist.

My biggest disappointment was in the lack of support for Forrest Hill. I still think that his proposals for electoral reform were practical and need to be part of the Green Party goals as we go forward.

The time to start planning for 2008 was yesterday. I know that the supporters of Jerry McNerney have begun to put a grassroots organization in place to help maintain his newly gained CA 11 seat (Bye Bye Dick Pombo.) We need to find the bright spots in what we managed to do and to build on them.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The world does not stop Nov. 7

I have been so buried in CA 11 stuff that I failed to notice the fact that there is an important conference behing held in LA on Wednesday morning. This is the second in a series of converences on Visioning the Delta.

If there is one environmental issue that should consume Californians at this point in our history, this is it. Truly, the Delta is the Hub of California's Future. To have this session on the day after the election may be a way to suppress turnout, as all of the negative advertising is a way to suppress voter turnout. However, if LA Greens are not too hung over on Wed. AM to get downtown by 8:00 (HA!!!) then I hope that someone will attend and report.


If there is a time when Greens need to make sure that we vote, it is now. At a time of declining registration and overall declining voter participation, it is essential to show that we are still here and still mean something.

There were a number of Green candidates this year who are clearly worthy of election. Just to name a few, Bill Paparian and Byron DeLear for Congress. Both have run very good campaigns, a cut above many which I have seen in the past. Forrest Hill is the only one of the candidates for Sec. of State that has a rational, workable plan for solving the many problems associated with voting in California. No matter what happens with his candidacy, we need to continue the work to make sure that these changes happen.

A number of candidates will end up with debts. We need to have a way to help get them paid off quickly. It is not a good example to set for future candidates.

And then we need to begin working for 2008: identifying the key races where Greens can make a difference. Identifying those issues that can help build our presence. I may be a maverick, but I want to quote from a comment posted to my Anti-Pombo diary at dailyKos (yeah, I know... a Democratic blog that does not promote democratic value):

if democrats took the latino vote seriously in the central valley, especially the san joaquin half, and aggressively worked to recruit leaders and activists as well as voters from the community over the long haul (not just the weekend before election day), the central valley could end up looking a lot different politically.

the latino vote could be a real sleeper in this election, if macpherson hasn't already purged them from the rolls. spanish speaking canvassers and phonebankers are gold; if you know the language, please come out this weekend!

I know that Clean Water Action Project burned over $50,000 registering voters in San Joaquin county, mostly in towns with a high percentage of Hispanic voters. I still believe that a heavy focus on local issues and the Hispanic voters, that the Green Party can make major gains in the San Joaquin Valley.

Now, stop reading this and go help GOTV.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Apathy is the greatest enemy.

I want to pass on an OpEd written by Pete McCloskey and distributed electronically. The campaign to get rid of Richard Pombo began in the blogosphere. I started PomboWatch in 2004. That was followed by Then, another site, A Better Congress, and another blog, Say No to Pombo. It is only fitting that his last comments of this campaign end up in the blogosphere.

And if anyone questions why I would quote a Republican on a Green Party oriented blog does not know the man.

Apathy is our Greatest Enemy

The benefit of closely-contested elections cannot be better demonstrated than here in Northern California where we have been recently blessed with the visits and advocacy of not only President Bush, his lovely wife Laura, Vice President Cheney and Speaker of the House Hastert, but also by former President Bill Clinton. But now, as Rudyard Kipling once wrote: "The tumult and the shouting dies. The kings and princes do depart...."

And lest we forget, whether the powerful Richard Pombo and John Doolittle remain in office, and indeed, which party will control the House of Representatives next year, depends on the ordinary citizen who cares enough to vote. But here, unfortunately, apathy reigns supreme. It may be the greatest enemy of the democracy we are privileged to have inherited.

It is regrettable that the combination of gerrymandering, the recent Abramoff bribery, ethics and other scandals, coupled with the conduct of men like Tom DeLay, Robert Ney, Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley, all of whom have resigned in disgrace, seems to have deterred so many voters from participating in our country's greatest legacy, that of the free and secret voting process. Our various voting registrars say that we will be lucky to see a 50% voting turnout next Tuesday, despite the serious issues which face the next Congress. The turnout of our younger generation, those with the most at stake, may be less than 30%

The recent poll showing that less than a third of the people respect what Congress has been doing is not as disappointing as the fact that half of the electorate doesn't seem to care enough to try to change it. Even Iraqis participate more than Americans in the democratic process we have so proudly pioneered and have suggested is the answer to the world, enforced if necessary by the "shock and awe" firepower or other means to achieve regime change in governments we deem inimical to U. S. interests.

In part, I believe voter disinterest stems largely from the gerrymandering which has made most citizens understandably despair that their votes can make a difference. But that does not explain the widespread apathy in the 4th and 11th Districts.

Whatever may be the result of the November 7th elections, let us hope that the citizenry will now rise up and demand the creation of an honorable system of drawing congressional district lines The politicians of both parties have repeatedly demonstrated their unwillingness to do more than reassure their own re-elections. The result has been that of California's 53 congressional districts, in only 3 do voters have a chance to force policy changes in the People's House. It was the Democrats, after all, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, that made that unholy bargain back in 2002 to assure the retention of 30 Democrat seats in return for the guarantee of 20 Republican seats. That 2 of those seats, those in the 4th and 11th Districts, are occupied by avid supporters of the Iraq War and Jack Abramoff, and are challenged with vigor by two inexperienced but patriotic commoners, has brought great attention to us throughout the nation, but alas, is still unable to get more than half of our citizens to care enough to vote. Even Presidents and former Presidents have been unable to stimulate the other half to vote. It's sad. We owe more to the fine young men and women risking their lives for us around the world, whether in combat or diplomatic and humanitarian service.

If DeToqueville were to revisit America today, he would probably conclude that Americans deserve what they get in the quality of their political leaders.

Pete McCloskey, Rumsey, California. November 4, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I want to call attention to what a European Green activist, Markus Petz, has posted on the Rural Green email list.
If you want to develop red green alliances and fora why not!

The Social Fora that came out of the Port Allegre process - I never heard anything about the American (as in USA)social fora - what are you doing and are they as effective as ours are in europe, asia, africa and latin america? aimed to do just that. If you look at the ESF you can see how successful - or not that has been) in the face of entryism and attempts to push Green things off the agenda.

Similarly you can look around to some actual Green - red parties. Or even as in Russia where the Yabloko has just swallowed up the Greens (relegating Greens to "environment" and thus ignoring economic aspects (like LETS - Local Exchange Trading System), housing reforms (like co-operative housing rather than state owned) or small business policies (such as locally produced and sold food by growers directly as fair trade) to being irrelevant issues to the Green methods and messages.

Of course any union has compromises, but red green ones often sacrifice soem fundamental green principals of localization (english not french sense) and independence to solidarity and mass decsion making on behalf instead of by the peeople.
This should make an interesting discussion given the tendencies of some in the GPCA.

Why the Green Party and our priorities

Looking past this election, a review of why we need to support the Green Party. Plus what our priorities need to be.

1. Modern industrial societies, including America, are facing multiple crises (environmental unsustainability and poverty alongside wealth, etc.)

2. Only the government, not private individuals or corporations, can bring about the needed changes. American government is not responsive to the long-term needs of the majority of the population. The political parties, including the Democratic Party, are hopelessly captured by wealthy corporate and wealthy interests, which prevent the government from taking effective action to solve or even alleviate the crises. The two major Parties are part of the problem, and cannot be changed.

3. Therefore a new political Party, the Green Party, must get control of the government in order to implement solutions to the environmental and social problems. The Green Party is defined by our 10 Key Values.

4. In order for the Green Party to get elected, we need to reform the electoral system. The current rules are set up to maintain the monopoly of the Republicans and Democratic Parties.

5. A. The first electoral change needed is Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) a.k.a. Ranked Choice Voting. IRV is needed whenever there is a single winner. IRV provides a better manifestation of voter intent when there are more than two candidates in a race. In other words, IRV prevents "spoiling" where 2 candidates who share some positions divide the votes, and another candidate who represents viewpoints held by a minority of the electorate thereby gets the most votes and thus is elected under the current rules.
B. The likely path of implementation is for IRV to be approved by Cities and Counties, then by States, and finally for Federal races.

6. Proportional Representation should be used, in whole or in part, for legislative bodies with many members. Example: the German Parliament elects half its members in single-seat districts, and half by proportional representation using the Party Slate. If the Green Party got 10% of the vote, then 10% of the proportional seats would go to Green Party candidates.

7. The goal of our democracy is to reduce or eliminate the influence of money on political decisions.Other reforms to be considered are:
A. campaign financing reform, to restrict the maximum contribution from corporations and the wealthy
B. public campaign financing
C. media reform that educates voters and reduces the need for campaign spending.
D. Citizen Assembly, where legislatures are selected randomly (like a jury pool), whose recommendations are all sent to the voter for confirmation.

8. Once our government has established the above reforms, then the democratic process would implement the goals of the Green Party, primarily by the voters electing candidates of the Green Party. Once Greens start getting elected, other Parties will start agreeing with our policies.

9. The highest priority of the Green Party should be promoting these electoral reforms, by education and by lobbying politicians.

10. The other high priority should be working on the local, nonpartisan, level to elect people who agree with our values and goals. Electing people on the local level will make possible in the future electing people to partisan state and federal offices.

+Orval Osborne

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

" ___ makes cowards of us all. "

So many people have played off this line from Hamlet:
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.
Vince Lombardi used it as "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." Tim Canvanaugh changed it to "Cartoons make cowards of us all." when discussing editorial policy and the (in)famous Danish cartoons on the intafada.

Maybe it shoud be paraphrased again about political debate where anyone with something to lose will refrain from meeting bright, well prepared challengers with nothing to lose. So it happened with Dr. Forrest Hill and the advertised "debate" with candidates for Secretary of State that was to be held in San Diego.

Unfortunately, such debate is now going to be a seminar on electoral reform. For the one candidate with significant new ideas to not have a chance to debate them with Bowen and McPherson indicates that neither is really interested in changing the status quo.

The session will still be held, same time, same location and Hill will be a speaker. It just lacks the abilty to make it into major media.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Good News

While still a long way from where we want to be, there are signs that the GPCA is making progress in its ability to get into the media and to participate in the interplay of ideas and values that should make up politicl discourse in this state. The evidence is there and includes:

Dr. Forrest Hill has gotten incuded in at least one debate between candidates for Secretary of State. That debate focuses on electoral reform, Hill's signature issue. As the one candidate with a practical solution to our problems, he should more than hold his own.

Byron De Lear (28th CD) is getting getting into the press and is running an Ad (along with Peter Thottam, Candidate for Assembly) in the L. A. Weekly.

Bill Paparian (29th CD) has garnered the endorsement of Danny Bakewell, owner of the largest African American owned newspaper in the state and also that of Bob McCloskey, who lost the Democratic Primary to incumbent Adam Schiff. Schiff is now making trumped up charges, not against the Republican Candidate, but against Paparian and uses the Nader effect as a scare tactic.

In general, Green Candidates have become more sophisticated in the manner in which they use the media to extend their reach and attract more voters. Some of this direction is coming from the Media Committee and from the GPCA Press Secretary, Cress Velucci.

As a blogger, one area where I know we can improve is the use of the internet and blogs as a tool for increasing the community of users and motivating grassroots support. In the campaign where I am most active, that in the 11th Congressional District, the staff of the Democratic Candidate, Jerry McNerney, has learned how to utilize this community (PomboWatch, SayNoToPombo, CA-11, Progressive 11) to help the campaign. The bloggers have played a major role in organizing activists from the Bay Area to participate in door-to-door canvassing, show up for rally's, protest at Pombo events. They have been effective enough at this that Pombo even complained about it to a local (Manteca Bulletin) reporter.

At the same time, they have used the diaries in DailyKos to encourage participation and to help manage the perception that McNerney can win. In this case, the target was really the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who was so sure that McNerney could NOT win that they backed someone else in the primary.

In a TV interview for NBC 11 (San Jose) McNerney gave credit saying that "the grassroots are on fire." The final result is a late campaign addition of DCCC produced television ads in the district, already up on You Tube and SayNoToPombo concurrent with being shown on TV in the district.

The key is to not lose what we have learned, not to let those media contacts be lost, but to carry this forward, past this election, aiming to use the media credibility we have established and to be in a position to define the next big story.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Forrest Hill Joins Debate

If there is a single issue that separates Forrest Hill from the other candidates for Sec. of State (Bowen and McPherson) it is that of electoral reform. When a pre-election debate is going to focus on that one issue, he needs to be in the debate and, for once, a major paper recognizes that fact.
Forrest to join Bowen and McPherson at Elections Debate

Dr. Forrest Hill is scheduled to debate Debra Bowen (D) and Bruce McPherson (R) at a Town Hall meeting in San Diego on the issue of election integrity. The meeting is scheduled to be covered by local TV and news outlets.

Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Location: San Diego County Office of Education
Address: 6401 Linda Vista Road, CA 92111
Time: 5:50 p.m.

View Map of debate location

For more information contact Sherry at or call Jim at 760 500-1927.

From early on, I have supported Forrest and urge S. Cal. Greens to follow the debate, or better yet, attend it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Truth in Advertising

If politics had a truth in advertising law, there are a lot of politicians who would find themselves fined or behind bars. Let me give you a case in point.

It appears that the "Republican Angst" in this election does have a few bright spots, and one of them may be in LA County. Here, Democratic Incumbent Adam Schiff is pulling out all of the stops in his bid for re-election. In particular, he is playing the Nader card.

In a campaign with three acive candidates, Schiff seems to be so worried about losing that he is attacking not the Reublican candidate, but rather the Green Party Candidate Bill Paparian. The fear, that because of Paparian, a Republican might win, plays to the old Democratic phobia of all things Green.

Still, Schiff gives a very good example of why he should not be trusted by anyone, especially his Democratic constituents. He sent out a fundraising letter that stated "But this year, I also have a former elected official from my district running as a third party candidate who is outspending the Republican and has so far outspent me."

Well, truth never brought in any money, so why not try bullshit. If you want truth, you have only to look at the real data for expenditures in this race as reported to the Federal Elections Commission. When it comes to fundraising, truth might hurt.

We should get Bill a bit more money.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Clean Water and Dolores Huerta

There is a very real chance that the 11th CD race (Pombo vs. McNerney) will turn on an unexpected (especially by Pombo) series of events. There were a lot of things happening right now and some indicators show the race to be a tossup. A recent poll showed, given the right conditions, McNerney had a 10 point advantage. The "right conditions" were that these questions were asked after the poll taker read a positive statement on both candidates.

I was surprised when I head the results, because I happened to one who respoded to a poll that was structured exactly in that manner.

So, if it is that close, what are those difference makers? It is not the $650,000 + that the National Republican Campaign Comittee has thrown into the race. It is not the very large amounts spent by the Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club. Actually it starts with Proyecto las Voces del Valle, working in conjunction with Clean Water Fund, have registered 10,592 voters, including 5,946 Latinos in just San Juaquin County. This represents a radical change in voters when the overall voter registration has gone down. I discussed this in an earlier post on another blog.

The second major event was the fact the Dolores Huerta, still active and passionate at age 76, has been stumping the district to campaign for the Democratic Candidate, Jerry McNerney. This was very well described by columnist Marty Cheek in the Morgan Hill Times last Tuesday. (subscription required).
The 76-year-old woman, who worked closely with Cesar Chávez fighting for farm workers in the 1960s, told a crowd of about 50 people outside the club's Main Street headquarters that Latino voters must support McNerney in his race against incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo, a Republican. McNerney is a better choice, she said, because he stands for human rights, improving public education, and dealing wisely with immigration issues.
Huerta also reminded people that Pombo is Portuguese, not Hispanic, and in the Centeral Valley that is a distinction of class as much as it is of national origin.

As the population of California shifts, this change will play out in district after district. People with the charisma of Dolores Huerta will inevitably influence the manner in which these new voters enter the political spectrum. I wonder exactly what the Green Party is doing about it, because this is absolutely one area where we have made a lot of noise, but probably have not registered 5,946 Latinos.

For some more background. La Proyecto de los Voces del Valle is headed by Angel Picon. Picon is a SEIU activist and the past president of the Stockton Chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

Friday, October 13, 2006

From Santa Clara County to you.

The team in Santa Clara County managed to get fantastic coverage of a candidate's forum out of the Fox affiliate in Oakland, KTVU, Channel 2. You got that right, a FOX affiliate. I watche it when it ran, but now, thanks to the work of "jamboi" and also our Sec. of State candidate, Forrest Hill, we have the segment up on You Tube.

You can watch it here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Canada has a plan, what about California

I have been reading the Green Party of Canada document, GP2. Green Party, Green Plan. They consider it a "greenprint" for the future. There are two features of this plan that I think notable.

The very opening statement frames the entire document very well. "The Green Party of Canada plan for a sustainable future grounded in fiscal responsibility, ecological sanity and social justice is set out in its policies and in its 2006 federal election platform." It is not the whole nine yards of Green theory. It is a simple statement that there are three areas that must be considered together and without which no government can govern.

Still, on the first page, they signal the fact that they are willing to work with other parties on items of mutual interest.
The Green Party is committed to supporting other political parties who put forward substantial measures to improve environmental health, reducing health threats to our children and other vulnerable members of society – pregnant women, the unborn, the elderly, the sick and the poor – while averting global crises, particularly increasing climatic instability caused by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Both of these seem to be anti-thetical to the rhetoric that dominates the discourse from some Greens including the top of our ticket, Peter Camejo. The rhetoric that says there is no difference between the two parties is only partly accurate. Yes, it is true in the political sense that they are both dependent on corporate money. It is not true in terms of policies. Greens, especially here in California, must learn that they can play a role as the difference maker, supporting some Democratic proposals, even supporting some Republican proposals and holding out for that which we all know is right when no one else gets it.

Read the Canadian Plan and tell me if I am wrong. As the Green Party of CA (California, not Canada) sturggles to put together a two year plan, they could not go very wrong in using the Canadian plan as a model.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Nancy Pelosi vs. Bill Moyers

I sent the following note this AM to Krissy Keefer this AM. Keefer is running agains Nancy Pelosi for Congress in San Francisco.

The Sacrament Bee today has a story on Pelosi. They talk of her plan for her 1st 100 hrs. as Madam Speaker. Accoring to the AP reporter, D. Aspo,

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

However according to Bill Moyers on his Oct. 4 program, Capitol Crimes:
I saw the other day a very powerful House member, Democrat, saying, you know, "We're going after some uncharted sources of money in the financial community. And we're telling them that the next majority leader might be a Democrat.
Is "Madam Speaker" for real, or is she Tom Delay in a skirt?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Capital Crimes

I am not sure how many of you might have watched Bill Moyers program last night, Capitol Crimes. If you didn't, I suggest that you spend some time on the PBS site at the link above.

Moyers does his normally thorough job of disecting the issues surrounding Jack Abramoff and everything that he managed to accomplish to line his own bank account and consolidate his power. Some very specific points became abundantly clear.

Ralph Reed was a hypocrit of the highest order. For someone to stand up as a leader of the "Christian Coalition" and fund his lying efforts from gambling money while using an anti-gambling message to help keep down the competition is pure hypocrisy.

The power driven excesses of Tom DeLay, feeding a lavish life style and a retirement plan for Mrs. Delay (among other things) in exchange for passing (or killing) legislation is bad. Then, to stand there and refer to people seeing Christ in his posture as he resigned from the House puts DeLay ahead of even Reed in being a hypocrit.

Then, to come to Ed Buckham, who made his money building up a Christian non-profit that acted to launder money for the Abramoff / Delay machine, all the while praying with his pastor whom he had duped into heading the US Family Network. Thank you, Pastor Gleeson. for having the will to appear on Moyers's program.

After watching this, I went to the PBS site and find that they ask a simple question: After Abramoff, do you trust your Rep? Most people do.

The conslusion was interesting. A simple discussion with Moyers, historian Thomas Frank and journalist Norman Ornstein, both of who have recent books on the subject and both of whom a pessimistic about short range solutions to the problem because BOTH PARTIES (Nader was right on this) have a vested interest in the status quo. Moyers even cited on Democratic Fund raiser who was going to financial institutions to solicit money on the basis of the fact that "Democrats may control the new congress."

Ornstein probably hit the nail on the head. "We will get the reform when they (Congress) believe that we will have the tar cooking and the feathers waiting if they don't do reform."

The current Administration has lost it's moral authority to lead in world politics. The current Congress has lost it's moral authority to lead in American politics.

Greens in California should be taking this message to the people and offering themselves as an alternative. There is no organization so dedicated to the principles of grassroots advocacy and so much against the power of corporate money. As Green Alex Walker frequently complains, where is the outrage?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Too long gone

I have been gone too long from this venue. But, it has been worth it. Having Bush doing a fund raiser for my favorite target, Richard Pombo, is one indication of how exciting this race is getting. Hank Shaw of the Stockton Record provides the another with this story on the latest polling. Jerry McNerney 48%, Richard Pombo 46%. Undecided 6%. That is a low undecided number for this time in an election cycle.

As Hank wrote me in an email today, "This is shaping up to be a good one. Hang on!" I can't imagine anything that excites a political reporter more than a good, tight race, one that has tinges of sex scandals, charges of corruption, vast differences in policies, quickly changing demographics in the district and a lot of lazy media dealing us the conventional wisdom without looking at the facts.

In all of this, I have learned a lot about how to run a campaign and I can't wait to get started on the next one. It is great watching some masters (Pete McCloskey for one) at work.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Global Warming / Local Action

I just received a post re: last night's session of the Pasadena, CA City Council. The City Council established Global Warming Standard for Pasadena. According to Pasadena City Utility Commissioner, Roger Gray (also a Green blogger) they changed the name of that commission to "the Environmental Commission and tasked with Enviro oversight in Pasadena.

If this can happen in a City supposedly known to be arch conservative, it can happen anywhere.

Tie this to Al Gore's speech at NYU yesterday and you have coast-to-coast action re Global Warming.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Of rights, risks and relocation

Yesterday, I posted a quotation (George Kennan) that came to me from Helen McCloskey. I would like to amplify the issue today with a reference to the August 30 column of Mike Fitzgerald in the Stockton Record. He takes the essence of Kennan's quotation and shows us that it is something that we need to be concerned about right now, today, as the war on terror begets our unique brand of xenophobic terrorism.

Where Kennan warns us about becoming "intolerant, secretive, suspicious, cruel, and terrified of internal dissension because we have lost our own belief in ourselves and in the power of our ideals" Fitzgerald tells us that we already have. He is writing about the issue of suspected Islamic "fascist" terrorism in Lodi, CA.
The latest wrinkle: Federal authorities won't allow two Pakistani-Americans related to Lodi terror convict Hamid Hayat to come home from an extended stay in Pakistan until they take a lie-detector test.

Muhammad Ismail, 45, and his son, Jaber Ismail, 18, are U.S. citizens. They are charged with no crime. No U.S. official publicly has alleged any wrongdoing on their part.

But their constitutional rights seem to have done a Houdini.
Fitzgerald asks whether we have learned anything. "The people with badges got the Japanese relocation tragically wrong. What have we learned? How are we better?" I think that the answer is clear. Those in power will use any means possible to retain power and the easiest method is to unite against a common enemy. "We have met the enemy and he is us. "

I think that I would like to see out Senatorial Candidate in Lodi, holding a news conference. If anyone is going to speak out on this issue, it should be Chretien.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The power of our ideals

Helen McCloskey, wife of one time Congressman Pete McCloskey, sent out a short, but very pertinent email this AM. I would like to pass it on because it is so appropriate in America today.

Fifty years ago, George Kennan, one of the keenest strategists against the Communist threat, hastened to warn that "something may occur in our own minds and souls which will make us no longer like the persons by whose efforts this republic was founded and held together, but rather like representatives of that very power we are trying to combat: intolerant, secretive, suspicious, cruel, and terrified of internal dissension because we have lost our own belief in ourselves and in the power of our ideals."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Careless GMO use cost rice farmers big bucks

The following is from a blog entry by Carl Pope today.

For years the Sierra Club, biologists, and government analysts have warned that the rules regulating genetically modified crops were too weak, that the idea that these varieties could be as controlled in the field as they can in the laboratory was reckless in the extreme, and that genetic contamination was the almost certain outcome. Now, genetically modified rice, produced by Bayer CropScience, has contaminated America's rice crop, in spite of the fact that it has never been approved for human consumption! In response, Japan suspended imports of long-grained rice from the U.S. a week ago, and the European Union followed suit Wednesday. Yesterday, rice farmers in California, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas sued for loss of the export opportunities for the $1.81 billion rice crop.

While the industry in the US will swear that there is no harm to humans from consumption of this rice, there is a great deal of harm to the US rice industry.

This comes just when California State Senate is deciding on what to do with SB 1056. I can not think of any greater reason to let this bill die a quiet death.

This is not going to make the US media, consumed as it is with Jon Benet Ramsey. However, it did make it on to Reuters..
Call a Senator today and tell them to stop this bill. It is bad for American Agriculture, as well as our health.

Other links on this story:

Monday, August 28, 2006

SB 1056

I wrote before about the insidious nature of SB 1056. In some circles, it is called the "Monsanto Bill." Now, it has passed the Assembly and the hope is that we can stop it in the State Senate.

I had another good link for further information on SB 1056. It is at a site called Environmental Commons and makes the flat statement that "SB1056 is "stealing a fundamental right of our communities to protect our families' health and shape our own future."

I need to thank Jean Comfort for sending this and also for sending out an alert on SB 1056, contacting your State Senators and voice a strong opposition to the bill. I called mine today, Abel Maldonado (Rep. Dist 15), whom I really expect to be a strong supporter of the bill. I did make the point that I write for a local paper in his district and that this will come up in my writing.

Among all of the other things that we have to take a position on, I urge Greens to stand up for the right of local government to make their own decisions on how best to protect their citizens.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Things are not what they seem.

That admonition is especially true in the wild west world of California Initiatives. One only has to watch the advertisements for or against any given initiative to gain that understanding.

Probably the most insidious of the current set of Propositions is Prop. 90.
Bars state and local governments from condemning or damaging private property to promote other private projects, uses. Limits government’s authority to adopt certain land use, housing, consumer, environmental and workplace laws and regulations, except when necessary to preserve public health or safety. Voids unpublished eminent domain court decisions. Defines “just compensation.” Government must occupy condemned property or lease property for public use. Condemned private property must be offered for resale to prior owner or owner’s heir at current fair market value if government abandons condemnation’s objective. Exempts certain governmental actions. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Unknown, but potentially significant major future costs for state and local governments to pay damages and/or modify regulatory or other policies to conform to the measure’s provisions. Unknown, potentially major changes in governmental costs to acquire property for public purposes. (SA2005RF0146.)

This will probably be advertised as a method to end abuses of the eminent domain processes made famous in the Kelo v. New London case recently decided by the Supreme Court. That case expands the use of eminent domain to cover cases where the property will be given back to private enterprise and the only benefit to the local government would be additional tax revenue. The July 24, 2006 edition of High Country News reveals that this is just a cover for a well funded, major effort in which "property-rights advocated have exploited Kelo to advance a broader anti-government agenda."

California's Proposition 90 would have serious consequences for all environmental regulation, all restrictive zoning regulation, even on home owners associations who collectively may attempt to restrict the nature of development.

I urge everyone to read High Country News' feature article by Ray King. Taking Liberties does more than outline the scope of this Grover Norquist - Wise Use Movement effort. King provides insights from lengthy interview with one of the signature gatherers who considers himself a "proud libertarian." He also shows both sides of the ongoing discussion in Oregon, where Measure 37 was approved by the voters in 2004 and has resulted in a bonanza for land use lawyers and almost none of the promised benefits.

If you think that it is great for California that over 30,000 new homes have been built in the flood plain of the San Joaquin River since the last major flood (1997) and that the levee system has been labeled a disaster waiting to happen that could surpass Katrina's flooding of New Orleans in scope, this is what Proposition 90 would encourage. If, on the other hand, you think that government should restrict development in flood plains and ensure that the average tax payer is not saddled with the financial obligation to bail out this un-wise use of the land, then Greens all over the state should be strongly opposing Proposition 90.