Saturday, March 31, 2007

More tropical storm news

Just to let everyone know that I continue to think about the affect of a warming climate on weather events, I note that Madagascar seems to be in line for yet another direct hit by a new hurricane. Cyclone Java has rapidly intensified from Tropical Storm to a Category 3 event in less than 24 hrs.

Musings on Presidential Politics

I have posted a couple of entries at Green Commons concerning the search for a Green Party presidential candidate. It seem that everyone has a gut feel that we need a candidate with national name recognition and that is a very limiting fact. Those with the name recognition and a real desire to win the presidency will not be likely to abandon the Democratic Party for the Greens. It may be more useful to seek that in a well known disgruntled Republican, like Pete McCloskey.

This week, the speculation arose about a rumored conversation between Nader and Al Gore in which Nader supposedly tried to interest Gore in running for President as a Green. Coming so close to April 1, I would hazard a guess that this was something that was "leaked" earlier than was intended. Still, it did appear in Insight Magazine. It was even discussed at the center of Democratic bloggins, DailyKos.

So, the list of possible candidates with a national name recognition is now:
  • Elaine Brown
  • Al Gore?????
  • Dennis Kucinich?????
  • Cynthia McKinney?????
  • Ralph Nader
  • Cindy Sheehan
Note: All of those with the ????? are Democrats. While all three have expressed some frustration with the current state of affairs in this country, or even with the Democratic Party, only McKinney has shown any interest in talking to Greens, with Greens on any occasion.

Note 2: Of that list, only Elaine Brown has announced that they are a candidate.

I have my personal doubts that we will have any luck in getting any of those Democrats to actually run as a Green. Based on previous statements and committments, we know that Kucinich will not abandon the Democratic Party. I doubt that McKinney will either. We know that Nader will not join the Green Party.

Maybe the best course is to make this a campaign of issues rather than personalities, to define the issues around which we want to run this campaign, and then to select the candidate who can best articulate those issues. We might field a different candidate if we want to make the Peace the number one issue as opposed to global warming / environment as opposed to corruption and excessive corporate power.

Personally, I would like to have seen Winona LaDuke remain more active in Green Party politics. She is also a candidate that I could very easily support.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Changing climate, local problems

The fact is that climate change is a global problem and nations do not do well when confronted with a global problem. While I can not tell you that one specific event is directly caused by global warming (that "global" word again), it is interesting to note that an increasing number of areas are having abnormally wet or dry periods.

Most recently, I read in Seed Magazine that millions of people in Chinese are facing a severe shortage of drinking water.

BEIJING (AFP)—Nearly 10 million people across southern and southwestern China are suffering from drinking water shortages due to a fierce drought.

A lack of rainfall has affected water supplies for 9.8 million people and 9.1 million head of livestock, the Beijing Morning Post said.

Both figures had doubled since early March, it said.
While that is relatively far away, I would call attention to the fact that this is one of the driest years on record in California. Locally, the City of Santa Cruz has already enacted water use restriction to begin on May 1.

Where this will end, I do not know. All I know is that Bob Dylan was right.

DWR "had" a plan for the delta.

I need to let you know that I am on the up and up. I don't make this stuff up about the delta. I may have said the the Department of Water Resources was in denial about the threat to "shut down the pumps" but that was obviously a mistake as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle this week.

Global Warming is a partisan issue

Chris Mooney, blogging at Intersection today, gives us the ( yawn ) observation that Global Warming is a partisan issue in Washington.
The truth is that there's a strong climate of cowardice in Washington, D.C., when it comes to the subject of partisanship. Everyone wants to cite a few token mavericks from the other side in support of their position and then claim it's "bipartisan," while ignoring the starkly obvious fact that by and large, the two parties split dramatically on that issue. The media reinforces this phenomenon by constantly (and brainlessly) decrying "partisanship," as if it's somehow a bad thing.
As if we did not know that. When we seen our own Representatives like Dana Rohrbacker blabber away rather than seeking to bring out the truth.

We all know the Green Party positions on the issues related to climate change. Many of the those commenting on previous posts have given an account of the steps that they have personally taken to reduce their carbon footprint.

How, then, do we use the extremely partisan nature of this debate to help the Green Party? We know that a Pelosi led congress will only achieve half measures and none that will cause any pain for Democratic corporate backers. Where do we inject Green Party wisdom into the national debate?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Climate Change and Government Practice

This may become a multiple post day, but there are many things that I am interested in and which are moving very quickly, so bear with me.

I want to call attention to a new (long) report from the Government Accountability Project. Entitled "Redacting the Science of Climate Change" (pdf), it would add credence to the story of government policy manipulation that Chris Mooney laid out in The Republican War on Science.
This report, which presents and synthesizes the findings of a year-long investigation to determine the extent of political interference at federal climate science agencies, demonstrates how policies and practices have increasingly restricted the flow of scientific information emerging from publicly-funded climate change research. This has affected the media's ability to report on the science, public officials’ capacity to respond with appropriate policies, and the public's grasp of an environmental issue with profound consequences for our future.
Author Tarek Maassarani clearly outlines the process by which the flow of "sensitive" scientific information was throttled down to a dribble at a time when the seriousness of the impact of climate change absolutely requires scientifically informed decisions at all levels of society.

I find it interesting to note that Maassarani begins his story with Scientific Communications with the media. While you would expect that most of the attention would be focused on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or on NASA, where our most well known climate researcher, Dr. James Hansen works, the Enviornmental Protection Administration came in for its share of scrutiny.
On June 20, 2006, Cornelia Dean of The New York Times [“Next Victim of Warming: The Beaches”] reported that James Titus, EPA project manager for sea level rise, was no longer allowed to publicly discuss issues such as beach erosion, and that all such questions were to be routed to the EPA’s press office.
Thomas Jefferson is frequently quoted as to the relationship between Democracy and the being informed. "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government:..." [Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, 1789. ME 7:253]. When our government takes away our right to be truly informed and makes it all a game of political spinmanship, our Democracy in truly an endangered specie.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Climate Saving Buildings

Architecture 2030 has just published it's 4th Newsletter. (HTML or PDF)

There are many influences pushing the architectural community in different directions. There is even not a blog entitled The Architecture of Fear, rather a study of design in a post-911 world.

I still find myself coming back to the basic fact that, unless we are willing to demand more of the development community: architects, developers, contractors and especially local government, we will not succeed in combating global warming. It makes little sense to me to focus solely on vehicles or to expect that LEEDS certification is all that we need to achieve. Architecture 2030 goes fare beyond that in their proposals.

Newsletter 4 makes a big deal about sustainable architecture in higher education and gives five examples, all from California: Sonoma State University, U. C. Berkeley, Los Angeles Community College, U. C. Santa Barbara and California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo. It is one sign of progress that CalPoly SLO has established a Renewable Energy Institute within the Architecture Department. While it may not seem much it definitely shows that attitudes are changing and that new architects will have been exposed to concepts that previous generations did not even consider. Once in a while you find a reason to hope.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gore before Congress

I have just finished listening to part of the web cast of Al Gore's testimony before the House Committee on Science. As in most Congressional hearings, especially those which are web cast or are expected to have substantive press coverage, there was a lot of Congressional posturing going on, not the least of which came from Rep. Joe Barton, (R. - TX). I will let Chris Mooney deal with that as I missed this part of the webcast. In any case, Mooney's description matches what you would expect from Barton.

Many Greens feel that Gore's proposals do not go far enough. Just this morning, Jo Chamberlain forward an Op Ed article "Are Big Enviro Groups "Holding Back" Anti-Warming Movement?" (By Megan Tady, The NewStandard) to the Cal Forum Green Party email list. The basic message is critical not only of the government but also of major environmental groups, calling out Greenpeace for special attention.

Bill McKibben, an environmentalist organizing national demonstrations against climate change with the new "Step It Up" campaign, likened the United States's stance on global warming to an "ocean liner heading in the other direction entirely." He said, "[Eighty percent reductions by 2050] seems to be at the moment the outer limit of what's politically possible."

For author and radical environmentalist Derrick Jensen, the obstacles to faster changes presented by the US political system, illustrate the need for more-holistic measures.

"None of [the solutions presented by mainstream groups] address the power structures," Jensen said. "None of them address corporations. None of them address a lack of democracy.... The environmental groups are not questioning this larger mentality that's killing the planet."

I would note that Representative Waxman (D. CA) has introduced a "Safe Climate Act of 2007". It sets targets of 80% reductions by 2050 and supports a "cap and trade" policy to "allow market forces to work."

But, here is the biggest problem to deal with, the American sense of entitlement. I received a note today from Lorna Salzman which makes the point that "Social justice in a global context is a tough nut to crack and wont happen until Americans agree that their life style is inequitable and unsustainable."

Again, this is something that most Greens acknowledge. But is it something that most American's acknowledge? It appears not. To begin with, attitudes about Global Warming split very much along partisan lines. A recent Gallup poll is the basis for discussion by Matthew Nisbet at Framing-Science. If you look at the chart, even Republican attitudes regarding Global Warming were closely tracking Democratic attitudes until the Bush Administration took office in 2000. Since then, the fact that they made a political issue out of every single thing, even science, in support of a 19th Century View of America, increased the divide between the parties. Maybe it all comes from Karl Rove, the master of framing issues for political advantage. However, the combination of the Rovian rhetoric, industry funded un-think tanks and right wing talk radio ego-maniacs has changed the political debate in dangerous ways.

If there is a Green Message about Global Warming, it is not getting out. We seem to have decided that we are the Peace Party. While there is nothing wrong with that, we can not drop our concern for this earth. It is the only one we have.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

California Connections

I thought it appropriate to insert a summary of recent actions that involve our California Congressional Delegation. These will probably not have made a dent in any of our major newspapers and I know were not covered on television.

Los Angeles Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman has been holding a series of hearings on "scientific integrity" in government. In yesterday's session, Waxman was looking at the Bush Administration's political interference in the science of climate research. The key witness was Dr. James Hansen (NASA). The session was covered by Seed Magazine journalist, Chris Mooney and you will probably find Mooney's commentary at Huffington Post worth some time to read.

Mooney concluded:
In short, [this hearing] adds one more drop in the overflowing bucket of evidence suggesting that the Bush administration was quite consciously using PR tactics to control the "message" on global warming--rather than allowing taxpayer funded scientists, like Hansen, full access to the media.
While the facts of climate change have become part of the accepted progressive background, the time scale on which it is playing out takes away the urgency for action now, and then we have global warming as background noise rather than the informed background driving meaningful action within the Green Party.

And here is another item that is far from the public spotlight, focused as it is on Alberto Gonzales or the War in Iraq.

While all of this is going in public, major decisions are being made about the way the government spreads our taxes throughout the budget. The Center for Rural Affairs is making a major effort to get people to take action now. I received the following in an alert this morning.
This is critical. Your Senators, Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, are key swing votes on the Grassley-Dorgan amendment to the federal budget. It calls for trimming over $1 billion by capping payments to mega farms and shifting the funds to critical conservation, rural development and food programs.
If there is one aspect of rural economics that the Green Party is against, it is the mega farm, industrialized agriculture infrastructure we have in place. This seems to be a sensible act to take, whether or not you live in a rural district. California has a larger agricultural economy than any other state. You can believe that the representatives of Big Ag are camped in the hallways of the Senate Office Building. But, where is our voice.

Here are the contacts for Boxer and Feinstein.

To reach Senator Boxer's office, please contact Brian McKoen at (202) 224-3553 or email Brian at

Updated: thanks to the feedback in the comments on this post.

Contact Chris Thompson at Sen Feinstein's office:
(202) 224-3841 or email Chris at

Voting on this issue will probably be tomorrow (March 21).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"nor any drop to drink."

The Stockton Record has published another in their excellent series on the California Delta. This time, they are focusing on the quality of water in the streams and reservoirs that feed the Delta. This story is based on a new EPA mandated list from the State Water Resources Control Board defining those water resources found to be polluted. That list has 686 bodies of water state wide. It is a sorry picture.

If it has done nothing else, the Dept. of Water Resources has documented enough reasons for everyone paying attention to what is going on in the Delta. The water that flows through there provides drinking water for 23 million Californians. The Delta has 1,100 miles of levees, much of which is in poor repair due to years of neglect.

This spring, the State of California is trying to redefine what they are going to do in the future to meet objectives for our future water supply. The problem with this is that they are also redefining those objectives. There are multiple planning processes going on at the same time with differing charters. It is inevitable that they will arrive at some conflicting conclusions.

  • Delta Vision Project mandated by Governor Schwarzenegger.
  • Bay Delta Conservation Plan
  • Legislative Actions in current session
    • SB 27 (Simitian) would start working toward a peripheral canal
    • SB 59 (Cogdil) would authorize two new dams: Temperance Flat and Sites.
    • Ongoing hearings on Delta Vision, most recent March 13, 2007.
Restore the Delta is a grassroots organization dedicated to protecting all of the uses of the Delta for future generations. They have likened the planning process to speed dating.

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan Steering Committee, however, is already poised to begin examining nine possible conservation strategies for "protecting" existing fisheries, before the independent review of science has even been conducted. Forget letting Steering Committee members find the best possible solution for restoring Delta fisheries from thoughtful deliberation and complete and accurate science. There are nine possible strategies suggested by the Public Policy Institute Report on the Delta, which are being bent and construed by water contractors to support the development of the peripheral canal.

Like speed dating, the outcome, if this process continues, will not be based on any real understanding of the Delta’s ecosystem and will result in a bad environmental "marriage."

At the core of the Delta Vision process is the reliance on a group of "stakeholders" who are providing the input. The choice of these stakeholders determines what the outcome will be. The list is loaded with development and agricultural interests and neglects and effectively excludes fishing interests or any representation of the Indian Tribes with treaty rights to fishing and/or water use.

One way to look at the board is to note the prominence of Thomas Birmingham, General Manager and General Counsel of the Westlands Water District, a major irrigation water supplier and a frequently cited polluter. Birmingham was the counsel for Southern California's Metropolitan Water District in the law suit over the draining of Mono Lake. This is a suit that is still in court because the Metropolitan Water District has failed to live up to it's agreements.

It has taken me months to begin to understand and untangle the various threads of influence at work in determining future water policies and practices. Through this, several things are clear.
  • Grassroots political involvement is absolutely necessary to protect our future. We need policies that will look to the 7th Generation and are not getting them.
  • The influence of developer money on local electoral politics will ensure that local governments will always try to optimize local growth and the expense of our future.
  • The funding process for local governments in California makes it inevitable that they must pay for today's services by mortgaging our future through an ever increasing load of new bonds.
  • Planners do not know the extent to which Global Warming is affecting our water supply.
  • Most importantly, that the water available to California users is already over allocated for drier than normal years.
If there were ever a set of circumstances that called for the application of Green principles to the solution to these problems, it is the Delta and the time is right now. It is absolutely necessary that Greens become involved in shaping local attitudes toward water, it's usage, it's preservation and future planning. Southern California has the population to be the difference maker in terms of political power and Southern California has a history of abusive acquisition of water rights, all in the name of continued growth.

While it may be more fun to speculate about a Green Party presidential candidate, I do it myself, if we want to preserve the future of this state until the 7th Generation, we had better be actively working with our local governments on planning our water future.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sunshine Week

Today is the last day of Sunshine Week. Fortunately, for us on the West Coast, that hs been a week of great weather. Unfortunately, we are living in an age when there is so much that still needs to be done to allow a little sunshine into the dark recesses of the body politic.

Maybe the best news is that the independent media is still interested in pursuing the the public's right to know and not just because it sells newspaper. There are still a few publishers and editors who actually care about the communities in which they live. The best recent example that I know of is the fight of the Tracy Press to focus our attention on the relationship between the management at Lawrence Livermore Labs and Tracy, CA, councilwoman Suzanne Tucker. This involves the decision to implement a new bio-weapons lab at that site and the fact that they will conduct open air explosions as part of the testing process. The Tracy Press has now filed suit to gain access to Tucker's emails on the subject.

Recently, Dean Singleton's Media News Group, having recently purchased the San Jose Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times from McClatchy Newspapers, has concentrated ownership of print news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some, including KTVU-TV reporter Randi Shandobil, think this might be a dangerous monopoly. (link requires Windows Media Player) I fully agree. Even though Mercury News editor Stephen Wright has spoken out strongly about sunshine laws in city government, I do not see the Media News Group papers taking the kind of action that the Tracy Press took this week.

Maybe it is rather for the bloggers to claim leadership in allowing the public to learn what it needs to know, especially when there is muck that needs raking. The case for taking action against Attorney General Gonzales, especially with regard to the firing us 8 US Attorneys, did not come from the mainstream media outlets, though the NY Times and Washington Post have taken up the story. It really began with Josh Marshall and Paul Kiel at Talking Point Memo Cafe and with Marisa Taylor of McClatchy Newspapers. The back story of how this rolled out was recently outlined by Eric Alterman at Huffington Post. Of course, Marshall was a professional journalist before starting Talking Points Memo and that has led to some very competent investigative reporting.

We must continue to oppose the increasing concentration of local media. The best way to do this is to support (subscribe to) those local, independent papers like the Tracy Press whose love of their community and for the integrity of the journalistic tradition will continue to shine some sun on the body politic.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Cynthia McKinney: "We Must Resist!"

Posted on the Web Site: Black Agenda Report

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Blogger's Note: There has been some speculation about former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney being a Green Party candidate for national office in 2008. Ms. McKinney had a distinguished, but controversial career as a progressive state legislator and Congresswomen from Georgia (is there any other way to be a distinguished progressive in this conservative-dominated Empire?).

Ms. McKinney delivered the following remarks at a March 2, 2007 fundraiser for Pacifica Radio station KPFK in Los Angeles
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We Must Resist
by Cynthia McKinney

I'm hoping there are some folks here tonight who have never been to an event like this before. I'm hoping that people are so moved by their own intolerable circumstances that they are now willing to do something different in order to get something they've never had before.

For, in order to solve the massive problems this country now has, it can no longer be business as usual for a critical mass of us.

Whether it's the thawing tundra in Siberia or the melting glaciers in Greenland, our contribution to global warming is something that must be dealt with.

Whether it's the massive amounts of money we spend on the war machine or the fact that we still don't know what happened on September 11th, the values and priorities of the American people must be reflected in the public policy we pursue. I do not believe that is the case today and there are specific reasons why.

I have long said that the black body politic is comatose: unable to sustain itself after the massive infusion of COINTELPRO-type "clean Negroes" who don't truly provide representation for a body of people in need.

Unfortunately, now, the entire American body politic is in dire straits, too.

I have also said that the prescription for the black body politic is radical surgery. So, too, now, I believe, is the case with the American body politic.

The extreme corruption of our political system by the greedy, unseen hand that comfortably operates in the backrooms of power is turning our heroes into caricatures of themselves.

Why can't we know the truth about 9/11 and this war on terror?

Why can't we immediately repeal the Secret Evidence Law, the Patriot Act, and the Military Tribunals Act?

Why can't we get back that 2.3 trillion dollars Rumsfeld admits is missing and use it to fully fund education and health care and infrastructure?

They're asking poor, devastated university students to return their Hurricane Katrina money, but I don't see anyone going after Blackwater mercenaries, the law enforcement officials who took federal money and then denied Katrina survivors safe passage over public thoroughfares. They're not going after the Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff whose incompetent behavior directly led to the delayed response, causing as-yet unmitigated pain and suffering on the people of New Orleans, and whose continued bumbling results in one of the largest depopulations of an American city in memory.

Why can't we know if there were explosions along the levies, as historically was done before to safeguard certain parts of New Orleans?

The reason we can't get answers to our questions and doubts linger is because our leadership today just isn't what it used to be.

The current state of black America didn't arise only because of Republican policies. Despite the election of thousands of black elected officials since passage of the Voting Rights Act, nearly half of the black men in New York City between the ages of 16 and 64 are unemployed - according to the New York Times. It will take 200 years for black Chicagoans to catch up to the quality of life enjoyed by white Chicagoans - according to a Hull House/Loyola University report. It will take 1,664 years for blacks in this country to achieve a homeownership rate equal to that of whites; racial disparities on infant mortality, family income, unemployment, police stops, imprisonment, and more, have not been eliminated and in some cases are worse today than at the time of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

People of color have less wealth, less net worth, work longer hours with insecure pensions and stagnant wages.

And now all Americans do, too!

We have got to do something different because we can't stand any more of this.

So what are we to do?

Just voting isn't enough. Voting is necessary, but it isn't enough to get the kind of change we must now demand. We have to change the structure within which we cast our vote.

We must have a different kind of leadership than is possible now without the kind of change I'm talking about.

This is revolutionary in its impact. And so, I will be fought even more fiercely than I've already been fought, and all I wanted to do was improve the lot of people of color in the U.S. and around the world; institute the kind of respect for human rights at home and abroad that would change the policies of our government toward the global community, including the American people; and make the U.S. government accountable to the taxpayers for the way it spends their dollars. Now, that's all I wanted to do. And you see what's happened to me!

So, what I have in mind won't be easy. But it will be worth it. And, I believe, it's possible to achieve.

Now, it would be nice if we could count on someone else to do it for us. And we would all join that person and make it happen. But, I reluctantly say that if no one else will do it, then I guess I'll have to do that, too!

Just like the Articles of Impeachment.

Finally, I have complete belief in the young people of our country and their ability to lead the kind of change that I'm talking about.

After all, it was the young people from just a few generations ago who faced attack dogs, water hoses, police beatings, and lynch mobs. They sat in at lunch counters across the country and stood up for our country.

And they won. And I know we all can do it again.

Now, should you ever waiver in your faith, just acknowledge this:

The world's most marginalized and dispossessed are already ahead of us in taking their countries back! Of course, starting in 1959 with Cuba, but then Venezuela, Cote d'Ivoire, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, India, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, and Nicaragua all have stood up to imperial domination - and won!

In the meantime, we have to demand more from our representatives. How can you be against war if you finance war? And how can you be against George Bush if you won't impeach him?

The American people are being fed madness as sanity. But, this is not Oz, Wonderland, the Twilight Zone, and it's not 1984!

With every fiber in our being we must resist. Resist like Mario Savio told us to resist: with our entire bodies against the gears and the wheels and the levers of the machine.

We must resist because we claim no partnership in war crimes, genocide, torture, or crimes against humanity. We claim no complicity in crimes against the American people.

We will build a broad-based, rainbow movement for justice and peace. And we will win.

I want to thank Dedon, Adrienne Cole (my former Chief of Staff), Anastasia King (Producer of American Blackout), Tracy Larkins (my scheduler, host, and everything assistant), and all the people associated with this program, and all of you for supporting it.

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Cynthia McKinney can be contacted through her web site: All Things McKinney

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Alliance for Nuclear Responsiility

I would like to call attention to the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility. Based out of San Luis Obispo, CA and close to the Diablo Canyon NPP, the Alliance is arguably the most effective of grassroots organization in the state dealing with the problems inherent with nuclear power.

According to the late February post on the Alliance's site the California State Assembly has several options on the floor and the discussions are taking place, for the most part, outside the watch of mainstream media. According to the Alliance...
Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee has taken the first step to protect citizens of California. While the goal of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility is to work for laws that will prohibit relicensing of nuclear plants in California, the action taken by Assemblyman Blakeslee will begin an important dialog on nuclear waste build up on our fragile coast.
Since this would conflict with Assemblyman DeVore's AB 719, it is up to the blogosphere to keep this discussion going, and I will certainly do that.

Monday, March 12, 2007

L.A. Times-Another Silly Obama Article

Sunday’s Los Angeles Times had, yet another, silly article about Sen. Barack Obama:

Obama Classmates Saw a Smile, But No Racial Turmoil
by Richard A. Serrano
Los Angeles Times, Sunday, March 11, 2007

This time it was about Obama's "angst" as a kid at Punahou School, an elite prep school in Hawaii. The kicker says: “Hawaii classmates recall him as a happy kid who fit in. They say they had no idea of the racial tension inside.”

They say that today Sen. Obama is “trying to show that he understands the indignities of racism and the economic troubles that many believe continue to flow from the legacy of slavery.”

Excuse me? What’s that reference to “economic troubles that flow”?

How about “economic troubles that flow” from gross inequality, discrimination, bad schools, deindustrialization, outsourcing to countries with ridiculously low wages, crony capitalism, and a generally f**ked-up corrupt Republican-dominated Establishment?

The election is a year and a half away and this African-American is already sick and tired of MSM bull**** about Obama’s “blackness.”

Debra Dickerson made a big media splash with a flippant article titled "Colorblind"posted on Salon.
. . .

Obama isn't black.

"Black," in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves. Voluntary immigrants of African descent (even those descended from West Indian slaves) are just that, voluntary immigrants of African descent with markedly different outlooks on the role of race in their lives and in politics. At a minimum, it can't be assumed that a Nigerian cabdriver and a third-generation Harlemite have more in common than the fact a cop won't bother to make the distinction. They're both "black" as a matter of skin color and DNA, but only the Harlemite, for better or worse, is politically and culturally black, as we use the term. . .

We know a great deal about black people. We know next to nothing about immigrants of African descent (woe be unto blacks when the latter groups find their voice and start saying all kinds of things we don't want said). That rank-and-file black voters might not bother to make this distinction as long as Obama acts black and does us proud makes them no less complicit in this shell game we're playing because everybody wins.
. . .
I lived through the 1960s civil rights revolution. Some of us have been saying all along that the U.S. “Establishment” is not now and never has been “liberal.” What do I mean by “Establishment?” I mean the little men who run big business, big government, big labor, big universities, and the big media.

Moreover, when it comes to civil rights issues, the U.S. Establishment is racist. What do I mean by “racist?” I mean these overrated, overpaid creeps believe that 19th Century superstitious nonsense that humanity is divided into so-called Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid “races” and these “races” are always at war with each other so that in a diverse country like the United States one “race” must necessarily have supremacy over the others.

Hence, the preoccupation with Obama’s “race.”

Here are snippets from the Times piece:

Obama Classmates Saw a Smile, But No Racial Turmoil
by Richard A. Serrano
Los Angeles Times, Sunday, March 11, 2007

HONOLULU — As a second-stringer for the Punahou high school basketball squad, Barack Obama would fire up his teammates with renditions from the R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire. In yearbooks, he signed his name with a flourishing O, for Obama, which he topped with an Afro. In a world of 1970s rock 'n' roll, he was known for a love of jazz.

To his classmates, the skinny kid with a modest Afro had comfortably taken his place in the ethnic rainbow of Punahou, an elite prep school.

. . .

"We had chapel sessions on the Bahai faith, Islam, Judaism, and all forms of Christianity," said Bernice G. Bowers, a classmate. "The message was that diversity made for a richer community."

Dressed like other boys in the required collared shirts and khaki pants, Obama was one of a small number of blacks, but the student body included large numbers of kids with Chinese, Japanese, Samoan and native Hawaiian ancestry, as well as many whites.

"We didn't think about his blackness," said Mark Hebing, who went to school with Obama for eight years.

As a candidate, Obama is also trying to show that he understands the indignities of racism and the economic troubles that many believe continue to flow from the legacy of slavery.

Punahou was where Obama first awakened to these issues, and to the complexities of being black in America. In his bestselling memoir, "Dreams From My Father," he writes that during his time at the school — from fifth grade through his high school graduation in 1979 — he felt the first stirrings of anger toward whites. He says he also delved into black nationalism.

. . .

Obama says that as he found his way in the world, he learned there were limits to the desirability of advertising his race.

"People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves," he writes in "Dreams." "They were more than satisfied; they were relieved — such a pleasant surprise to find a well-mannered young black man who didn't seem angry all the time."

Certainly Obama's classmates had little sense of what he says was going on beneath the surface.

"His reflections about the race issue surprised all of us," said Kellie Furushima, who knew him well. "He gave no indication of feeling uncomfortable in school, and I never witnessed or heard anyone being unkind to him.

. . .

Obama lived with his grandparents in an apartment near the school, his father away in Kenya and his mother pursuing studies in anthropology. None of the 40 classmates interviewed for this article — one-tenth of his class — saw the inside of that apartment, nor had any idea that Obama came to Punahou only by the grace of financial assistance with the tuition — $15,000 a year in today's dollars.

In class, he excelled in debate and composition.

Darin Maurer was amazed at what Obama could get done just over lunch at home. "This was before computers, and he could sit with a typewriter and put down a term paper pretty fast, then head back to school and hand it in."

. . .

Afro! Black nationalism! He talked… and typed!

(gasp! shudder! shake!)

Obama may have written that in his book, knowing that people who buy books in the U.S. eat that stuff up. But even if it’s all true, so what? All this tells us is that Obama was a very smart, very thoughtful and very precocious high school student. But you knew that already.

Punahou School was founded in 1841 for the children of Congregational Missionaries in Hawaii. Way back in 1851, the school opened its doors “to all races and religions” (about a hundred years before certain famously “liberal” schools in the Eastern United States, but I digress).

Today, this coeducational school enrolls over 3,750 students. It is non-sectarian but retains its Christian heritage.

What’s so terrible about all this? Leave it to the MSM that never questioned what the hell Andover was doing with an obvious dummy like George W. Bush, to try to make it into something ugly.

The Times published a picture from the school yearbook:

Obama at Punahou School

The caption says: “A 1976 photo from the Punahou School yearbook shows ninth-grader Barack Obama-- front row, fourth from right -- with his class.”

The kid looks cool. Were you that cool in the 9th grade? I, myself, was a total geek . So, the kid went through changes in adolescence. So what? That’s what kids do in adolescence!

Nobody worries about the “angst” of the very self-righteous Rudolph Giuliani growing up in a large extended family that included cops, criminals, firefighters and Mafia hoodlums.

Nobody worries about the “angst” of John McCain, Navy brat born in the Panama Canal zone and the son of Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. For all we know when McCain wanted to be an artist. It’s not hard to imagine McCain experiencing "angst" being pressured to go to Annapolis and be a big war hero.

Richard M. Nixon grew up a poor kid in Southern California and nursed a seething hatred of Eastern “liberal” elites to the end of his days. Too bad the know-it-all media never asked questions about the destructive and self-destructive consequences of Nixon’s “angst.”

My dear wife does not agree with my FLAME-ON about this article. She says if all the talk about Obama raises the consciousness of a lot of clueless folks about the perniciousness of racism that's a good thing.

I respectfully disagree. Want to have a serious discussion about U.S. Sen. Barack Obama for president? Talk about the issues and the man’s philosophy.

Want to have a serious discussion about racism and the “economic troubles that flow” from the U.S. Establishment? Bring it on

Sunday, March 11, 2007

New Nuclear Power Plant Site approved.

My partner on this site, Alex Walker, forwarded this news item to me today.

Nuclear Power Industry Wins First Site Approval in 30 Years

Now, more than ever, we need to remove the distortions of governmental (tax payer) subsidies from the energy sector. If there is to be a rational solution to our ongoing energy problems, then it must be made on the basis of true, total cost allocation across all of the energy sectors.

The approval - for Exelon Generation Company's Clinton site, in central Illinois - was hailed by U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman as "a major milestone" in the Bush administration's plan to expand the use of nuclear power.

NRC approval of the Clinton Early Site Permit represents a major accomplishment in this administration’s effort to address the barriers and stimulate deployment of new nuclear power plants in the United States," Bodman said.

"By demonstrating effectiveness and predictability in the licensing process, utilities will have the information they need to make sound business decisions that can lead to the construction of new nuclear power plants," he said.

The Early Site Permit resolves environmental, site suitability and emergency planning issues with regard to the possible construction and operation of a new nuclear plant next to the Clinton Power Station in Clinton, Illinois. Exelon has not decided to move forward with building a new nuclear plant.

I hope that that California's Urban Greens do not duck out on this issue just because there is no NIMBY urgency.

First Nuclear Power Site Approval in 30 Years

Leave it to those "Free Market" Bush Republicans to set up a nice $114 million "Big Gummint" program to help out their friends.

Nuclear Power Industry Wins First Site Approval in 30 Years

Environment News Service
March 9, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC, March 9, 2007 (ENS) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Thursday approved the first Early Site Permit for a nuclear power plant - demonstrating a new and previously untested licensing process for locating new nuclear plants in the United States. Critics say new nuclear plants are not needed if energy conservation is implemented.

The approval - for Exelon Generation Company's Clinton site, in central Illinois - was hailed by U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman as "a major milestone" in the Bush administration's plan to expand the use of nuclear power.

"NRC approval of the Clinton Early Site Permit represents a major accomplishment in this administration’s effort to address the barriers and stimulate deployment of new nuclear power plants in the United States," Bodman said.

"By demonstrating effectiveness and predictability in the licensing process, utilities will have the information they need to make sound business decisions that can lead to the construction of new nuclear power plants," he said.

The Early Site Permit resolves environmental, site suitability and emergency planning issues with regard to the possible construction and operation of a new nuclear plant next to the Clinton Power Station in Clinton, Illinois. Exelon has not decided to move forward with building a new nuclear plant.
Please note that the 2008 budget request proposed by Our Dear Leader includes $874.2 million, a 38.2 percent increase for the Office of Nuclear Energy. $114 million will go to complete the remaining Early Site Permit demonstration projects and continue New Nuclear Plant Licensing Demonstration projects.

It's Sunday morning so preach me that little sermon about how those "inner-city welfare queens" need to get rid of their debilitating "dependency" on "Big Gummint" handouts.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Securing the blessings...

Global warming may be melting the resistance to the use of nuclear power plants to supply our energy needs. That was the subject of yesterday's post on the Nuclear Thaw. I was pleasantly surprised the Assemblyman DeVore chose to reply on the blog. It turned the subject from a lecture into a discussion.

The Assemblyman begins with a fundamental questions for which he suggests that nuclear power is the appropriate answer.
How can working class Californians afford low-CO2 power without nuclear being in the mix? Solar is too expensive. Wind is periodic. Nuclear needs to be fully discussed. (emphasis mine).
We could debate the impacts of his two assertions regarding Solar and Wind, but I want to suggest that he is not even asking the right question. While framing this as an issue for the "working class" may be politically expedient, it misses the ecological question, one that I believe to be the political question of the future. I would frame it in the following manner.
What steps should we take now to ensure that we leave a livable planet for our children unto the 7th generation?
Winona LaDuke has long championed the idea of a 7th Generation Amendment and it from her writing that I gather this idea. LaDuke argued on the basis of that fundamental document of America, the Constitution.
The preamble to the US Constitution declares that one of its purposes is to secure "the blessings of liberty, to ourselves and our posterity." Shouldn't those blessings include air fit to breathe, water decent enough to drink and land as beautiful for our descendants as it was for our ancestors?
This leads me to make a different set of assumptions than the good Assemblyman made.
  • The rapid depletion of oil reserves (e.g. ANWR) will sacrifice the future for immediate political gain. It is in the best interest of all (and I mean internationally) to protect current reserves and to extend our ability to call on them as necessary for as long as we can.
  • We are entering a time in which there are three competing uses for natural gas: nitrogen fertilizers for agriculture, the generation of electricity and the manufacture of plastics. We have the ability to affect all three of these if we had the will to do it.
  • The need to expand our electric generation capability in the medium range is driven by the building sector. That uses 48% of total energy (pdf:p.8), much more than transportation. Focusing on transportation as the way to reduce our demand on fossil fuels misses the real target.
  • It does not make sense to say that we have the technology to make nuclear safe but do not have the technologies to make our buildings more energy efficient or to revise agricultural practices to require less nitrogen. If there is a technological answer to a problem, then it is only a question of choosing where we demand that technological solution. I don't think that our government really believes in our ability to innovate new solutions.
The fact that Assemblyman DeVore is looking to the Nuclear Solution now shows that he has not asked the right questions about our future. There are many things that we can do before such a solution might become necessary.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Nuclear thaw

Every time the question is raised as to how we are to meet our energy demands in the face of Global Warming threats, the nuclear industry has a ready answer. Go Nuclear.

Thanks to Don Eichelberger who alerted the GP Issues list about the fact that there is now a bill in the California State Assembly that will remove the current restrictions California has placed on new nuclear power generating facilities. AB 719 (full text) Sponsored by Orange County Republican Chuck DeVore and N. California Republican Doug LaMalfa, I would hope that this bill will not get passed.

However, the fact that it could even get this far should be a wake up call for all of us. LaMalfa appears to be a Junior Richard Pombo: same issues, same property rights mantra, same use of the environmental bogeyman to rail against, and that is scary.

Don's email gives a good, short reason why we should all contact our California State Legislators and tell them that this is not what we, the public wants. Maybe General Electric wants this, but we do not.

AB 719 is written using the "Zero Carbon Emissions" terminology, but, according to Don, does not recognize a number of issues with Nuclear.
Even if those claims were true, there is still the matter of the wastes. The bill claims that, in ten years, by the time a new nuke is operating, there will, of course, be a safe storage site. A presumptuous hope, given the history, so far. Meanwhile, economic supports for nuclear power would continue, at the expense of funding real solutions.
Then, remember that the costs of any nuclear solution is heavily subsidized by the US Government. We should be pushing our Representatives to removed these subsidies from the energy market and to force the nuclear industry, if it goes forward at all, to carry the full cost of all the associated problems that is brings us. If that were to happen, nuclear may turn out to be the most expensive of options.

AB 719 is one bill that we can not allow to pass.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Want "Reform" in Los Angeles? -- Go Green

Want "reform?"

The crazy Los Angeles School Board elections is another reason to go Green.

Los Angeles School "Reform"

Democratic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is a rising star. They say he could be our first Latino governor (they also said that about San Jose Democratic Mayor Ron Gonzales -- before he was indicted. But I digress).

Villaraigosa pushed a plan to share power with the school board over the Los Angeles Unified School District. To get state approval, Villaraigosa and his ally, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, cut a deal with Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This move helped Schwarzenegger defeat Democratic candidate Phil Angelides in this supposedly "blue" state when Democrats won big everywhere else.

Standing in Villaraigosa 's way is United Teachers Los Angeles (the victim of a one-sided abusive relationship with Democrats). Once Villaraigosa was a union organizer, but hey, this is now. UTLA backed two incumbents, Jon M. Lauritzen and Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, an African-American representing a district gerrymandered the usual way to protect incumbents.

There are serious arguments for and against Villaraigosa's plan, but voters never heard them. This campaign has been nothing but a turf fight between rival Democratic Machine cliques.


Los Angeles, like San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, is a one-party Democratic. The problem, stated bluntly, is Republicans are the Anglo "White Man's Party" in America. Their "conservatism" is nothing more than the Old Southern White ideology. Columnist Paul Krugman described this dynamic succinctly after Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and the knee-jerk "conservative" response was to attack poor survivors: "A middle-class European, thinking about the poor, says to himself, 'There but for the grace of God go I.' A middle-class American is all too likely to think, perhaps without admitting it to himself, 'Why should I be taxed to support those people?' "

California once had the finest system of public education in the world. When "conservatives" could no longer have segregated public schools and lily-white law schools the operative question became: "Why should I be taxed to support those people?" They hate teachers unions because they hate all unions and teachers fear, rightly in my opinion, their goal is not "reform" but destruction of public schools.

Johnathan Williams, a charter school operator, is the GOP front man against LaMotte. With Villaraigosa's tacit support he accepted $80,000 from former Republican Mayor Richard J. Riordan and big donations from fat Republicans including (I'm not making this up), $50,000 from Christy R. Walton of Bentonville, Arkansas, billionaire widow of a Wal-Mart heir. It is unthinkable that these high-class gentlemen and ladies would actually get their hands dirty campaigning in my neighborhood, but they are happy to write out a check.

Williams makes a Clarence Thomas-style dismissal of criticism as "fear of a black man coming in and stirring things up."


Democrats are supposedly "bleeding hearts" for the 70% of the people in Los Angeles everybody calls "minorities." African-Americans like me are told Democrats are the revolutionary avant garde for the liberation of Africans in America.

LaMotte accepted $450,000 from the UTLA as well as contributions from people directly connected to the School District and the Machine. Her campaign mailed out a slick flyer featuring Barack Obama and members of Congress.

The Los Angeles Sentinel, our most prominent Black newspaper published a front-page, screaming headline: "Blacks Back LaMotte."

Nothing subtle about that. If you're Black like me, you know how to vote.

I'd also like to know about the issues and why it takes $3 million and high-powered Washington pols to elect a local school board.

Want Reform? Go Green

Is it about the kids or about the cash?

Anyone who tells you they want "reform" but that the only way to get it is by playing ball with the Democratic Machine or the Republican wrecking crew is somebody who doesn't want reform at all.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Retreat from Sonoma

From all of the anecdotal reports that I have heard, the Strategy Retreat in Sonoma could be considered a success. It even provided a place where Cynthia McKinney could continue her direction of introducing herself to the Green Party. That was timely as we have another Georgia political figure, Elaine Brown, declaring her intent to gain the Green Party nomination for President in 2008.

Maybe that is only the natural way of things as we are inundated by MSM announcements, prognostications, analysis and candidate hype over the entire range of presidential politics. It is not completely a good thing to have this level of media saturation this long before the real events. One of the things that the focus on presidential politics does is to distract us from the energy required just to keep us going.

What I do not understand is the fact that all of this strategy discussion too place without any communication to the grassroots of the Green Party afterward. Yes, everyone was invited to Sonoma. Anyone could have gone. Some did, most did not. I wonder what would have happened had 300 decided to show up rather than the approximately 50 (not confirmed, only what one attendee estimated when I asked.) that actually did. Would Warner and the Campaign and Candidates Working Group have accomplished as much?

I also wonder what might have happened if all of the previous statewide candidates had shown up. I note that at least one candidate who did not show up is questioning the basis for some of the decisions that were made, especially the question as to whether or not input had been solicited from candidates. The irony of that question does not escape me.

One of the elements of effective leadership is the ability to create a sense of shared purpose in an organization. I understand that one of the objectives in choosing the site was to get everyone into an environment where they able to develop a sense of shared purpose with the group. I do not understand how that sense of shared purpose will affect the grassroots of the GPCA if no one is communicating to the rest of the party what happened, what decisions were made, what new actions are going to be required, what we should be doing to implement any new strategic decisions.

There are some who intimate that the GPCA lacks a vision, or at least fails to communicate that vision to the public at large. Maybe the vision is described by the 10 KV, but it would be better to have a single phrase that encapsulates what the values mean. One of the things that Elizabeth May and the Green Party of Canada have accomplished is to establish such a vision at a very simple level. Go to almost any part of the Green Party of Canada web site and you get the message "Welcome to the Future." Just 4 words, but they accomplish a lot. They make you feel like you can be part of building that future. They are inclusive. They invite you in.

The success of organizations like is that they invite you to participate, to take action and they communicate that your action will "make a difference." That is surely satisfying to the soul.

So, who is going to tell the rest of us what really happened in Sonoma, or will will allow the good things that (as I have been told) happened there dissipate as we continue our turf fights? I have suggested that the role of the media committee be expanded to include internal communications from events such as plenaries and retreats like this one. One result has been an improved GPCA web site. But there is still a lot of work to do as the lack of input from anyone at Sonoma illustrates.