Sunday, June 24, 2007

Maybe it is time to get with it.

During the campaign against Pombo, I happened to exchange commentary with Kid Oakland, a blogger (dailyKos, SayNoToPombo, others) who has done considerable thinking about the relationship between political activism and the internet. He also thinks seriously about politics in general and what is happening with political activists.

Kid Oakland's most recent commentary has been posted at The Progressive Connection. It is worth your time to read the entire piece. I will, however, intersperse some of my comments about Green Organizing with his.

To begin with, Kid Oakland focuses on demographic he calls the Millenials. This is in sharp contrast with the GPCA where too many of the activists are aging hippies, baby boomers who never lost their belief in a better future and a sense of anarchic rebellion against all manifestations of authority, a preference for disorder from which a new order does not need to rise.
Millennials, those Americans born between 1977 and 1998, are, indeed, a demographic gold mine for the Democratic party. I would caution, however, viewing millennials simply as a source of votes. In fact, the reality is that in many ways this young generation is the embodiment of what I wrote about in the Spirit of '06: these young Democratic activists understand the task at hand and the tools needed to master the challenge of winning lasting majorities. Millennials are idealistic and engaged, and critically, they are networked like no generation before them. When millenials get organized, they stay organized.

The future of the Democratic party, in many ways, belongs to them.
Yes, Kid Oakland is first and foremost a Democrat.

He believes that Progressive Democrats, through their mastery of the tasks and tools will reform Democratic Politics. In this, I must respectively disagree. I would agree, however, that his "millenials" are "networked like no generation before them." That, in itself, is worth a book and Joe Trippi may think that he has written it.

While the internet opens up the possibilities for discourse, the most common effect is to trivialize that discourse. In the manner that Gresham's law works for the monetary system, McLuhan's perception that the medium is the message works in politics. In both cases, the results are not uplifting.

The key characteristic of the internet is that it has been an enabler for the balkanization of society. The seeds of this were already there with identity politics. Now, as the levels of frustration grow with the institutions of American political governance, the internet makes it very easy for all of those who hold a particular view to retreat into their own little space and dream of being the seed of the revolution to come. We have even accepted these mental geographic divions in the naming of internet sites, such as "my space."

It is even more obvious when you examine the culture of a site such as dailyKos, where the "enemy" is the "Repuglican" party and they are the personification of evil. This, of course, makes the Democrats into the guys in white hats and the possessors of all virtue. And, if you really want to understand the mentality, just post a comment at dailyKos using the words "green" or "Nader" in a positive manner.

That view does not match with the 14% approval rating of the current Democratic Party controlled congress. Most of the public does not live on the internet. Those that do are probably doing something else than being political activists.

Still, here is where I find both the failures and the promise of the Green Party. I say failures, because we have become an aging party that does not reach out to the young voters, those millenials that Kid Oakland is trying to organize for the Democrats. I say promise, because, if Kid Oakland is correct, many of those same individuals are motivated by the issues rather than by party loyalty and are bound to suffer disillusionment when those issues are not dealt with by a corporation dominated Centrist appearing Democratic party.

The choices are ours, but we had better "get jiggy with it." If the GPCA is going to be successful, we need to do all of the following.
  • An aging party must pull in an increasing number of young activists. It is not enough to rely on Campus Greens to do the for us nor to rely on college student to self-organize. No union ever came into existence without someone taking the steps to ensure that organizational effort happens.
  • The best thing for Greens would be for the Democratic Party Primary system to deadlock over Clinton and Obama. The negative campaigning will sour many and a strong positive Green campaign would look attractive. We need to be prepared for that eventuality.
  • We need to carry forward the message that the Democrats are failing the public and the number of places where this can be done are legion. You could start with the Farm Bill, bought and paid for by Big Ag just as surely as Health Care Reform will be bought and paid for by Big Pharma.
Grassroots organization is essentially a networked structure. It consists of many small groups working together. The internet media are the best hope for those groups causing major changes. We had better start learning how to live in these times and those new spaces.

Kid Oakland concludes that this is all positive for Democrats.
Young people don't just make good arguments for change when we are debating our nation's future; young people are our best argument for change. Young Americans embody, in their activism and ideals, the fact that this nation faces challenges that decades of work on public policy and civil service will be required to address. When millennials get active, their activism is itself is a powerful argument for change and reform. You could say about Democratic politics in 2008 and not be far off the mark: the millennials are the message.
I hope that he is being overly optimistic.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Green Opportunity in Democratic Failures

In last years CA-11 Campaign against Richard Pombo, the Tracy Press was somewhat critical but still generally supported the home town boy. As representatives of hard working, middle class America, you could not find much better examples than The Matthews Family, publishers and editors of a very home town newspaper.

When ethical lapses from some in Congress (they found it hard to accept that they boy they knew in High School had really slipped that far) brought Democrats to power, the editors of the Tracy Press expressed some hope that things would be cleaned up. Today, they express disappointment that they have not.
It’s getting a lot easier to tag the Democrats in Congress as hypocrites. Remember the 100-hour plan to change public opinion about the governmental goings-on in Washington, D.C. It was unveiled that historic day in January when the Democrats retook control of the House and Senate with a promise to clean up Congress.

But Capitol Hill’s still dirty.
They just love to call the Democrats "hypocrites". The problem that Pelosi and crew has is that their rhetoric set a level of expectation that they had absolutely no intention of fulfilling. Again, the Tracy Press calls them on in it.
The Democrats sure are acting like their Republican predecessors in another way. They, too, are dipping into their campaign war chests to pay members of their families as they work on the campaigns. When former Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, had his wife and brother on his campaign payroll, Democrats denounced the practice as unethical, although it is legal, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

Sixty-four other members of Congress did the same thing during the 2006 campaign, and we haven’t heard a peep of criticism from the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee about Reps. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, and Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, among others.
We have gotten to the point where the only number in Washington lower that Bush's approval rating is that for Congress. Only 14% of Americans have faith in Congress. Now, if that is not symptom of our sickness and a call for change, I don't know what it is.

The failures of this Democratic Controlled Congress to do what they said they would do should be seen as an opportunity for Green to challenge them for right to lead this country. Instead, we seem to be silent on the big moral issues of government and invite ridicule by our search for a logo.

Ranked Choice Vote Details
Ranked Choice Vote ID 299
Ranked Choice VoteElection of a Green Party Animal Mascot
Type Open Ballot
Number of Seats 6
Ranked Choice Vote Administrator Holly Hart
Phase Discussion
Discussion 06/18/2007 - 07/09/2007
Voting 07/10/2007 - 07/16/2007
Presens Quorum 0.6666
Candidates: Bee, Dolphin, Dove, Frog, Otter, Owl, Polar bear, Turtle, Whale,
Wolf, NOTA

If we don't make news with the Congressional Poll numbers, I would suggest that this list be amended to include the Ostrich.

Evolving with the world

I used a post on the California Green Forum to start working out some ideas I have about grassroots democracy. I was responding to a thoughtful friend of mine from very NoCal, Bernie Macdonald. In my typical fashion, I had at least one typo that confused a reader enough to ask me for a clarification. What I will do here is to cut and past from all of that and see if I can assemble something that is worth reading.. and thinking about.

Bernie had commented about where GPCA "business" was being conducted.
Also, as the working groups are essentially inactive due to lack of adequate participation, what means do you suggest to increase interest and activity of this vital function?
I was quick to make the point that some of the responsibility lay not with the individuals who failed to join in the Working Groups, but rather in a lack of leadership in those groups. While some (Campaigns and Candidates Working Group, Platform Committee, Media Committee) have effective leadership, some others do not and those are the ones that suffer most from lack of participation.
I would again, respectfully disagree. The lack of adequate participation is directly tied to the lack of leadership ( I sound like a shill for Mr. DeLear, but maybe I use leadership in a different context.) When faced with a task, if leaders lead, work gets done and people do step up.

Perhaps it might help to read book "The Embodied Mind" (Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch). According to Varela, "Mind and World arise together." Maybe it is not yet time for Gaia. Maybe it is. Maybe we need a leadership who can articulate that vision of the world so that we can all understand what needs to be done and why we need to change along with the world. Those who would remake the world in their own image or die trying just might.

For those with enough time, it is well worth reading first "The Web of Life" by Fritjof Capra (popularized) and then to read The Embodied Mind (dense). It would help comprehension of why this is an increasingly complex work and how we need to change to deal with it, if we can.

There are no simple answers to handling complexity and the often talked about grassroots basis for the Green Party is one of the more complex examples of emerging systems that we have in the sphere of politics. I would also suggest that such a system will only arise through the dedicated efforts of those few who are willing to study the processes is all of their complexities and to learn to make all of the connections.

Maybe, Bernie, your idea of a social forum is the right tool to be using for this But, that requires that the users be dedicated to achieving the result and not to proselytizing for one one answers or another. My years of religious study (Och Tamale) taught me to value those who are on the quest and to distrust those who claim to know the answer.

Just maybe, if we put the tools of this discussion to use against a practical problem of the exercise of political will, we might have a better chance to achieve something of lasting value as opposed to arguing about cabals and PACS. Just maybe, if we articulated why the current prison system is a failure and came up with a truly better solution to these problems of good and evil, resurrection or retribution, we might begin to attract more adherents. Just maybe, if we could show that there is a real benefit to community driven economics, we might have less community caused strife or night of violence on our streets.
Someone wrote to me and asked about Gaia and what was meant by that reference. They also pointed out a type in the last sentence of the paragraph, which I fixed, above. I will answer the Gaia question as I replied earlier this AM.
Gaia has a number of layered meanings, all of which were meant.

Gaia was the Earth Goddess or Mother Earth of ancient Greek Mythology.

Gaia is an ecological hypothesis that the living and nonliving parts of the earth are viewed as a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism.

Gaia was a planet created in Isaac Asimov's Empire series of novers that behaved on the cognitive level according to the Gaia hypothesis... all living elements of the plant shared experience, both joy and pain, as well as thought.

If you take the Varela quote that I used earlier in the post, that Mind and World arise together, then you have to face the fact that the successful organism (organization) must develop as the world (society) develops. While it is great to push toward some ideal mode of joint decision making, it is part of the developing world but, to insist on nothing but that process will ultimately fail if the rest of the world (society) is not there yet. There is a tension here that needs resolution or the organism (GPCA) may die.
And here I will snip out my confession regarding my typo and include the rest of that note.
To focus on the process at the expense of the goal is to invite the criticism of the Cheshire Cat.

"Which road should I take?" she asked the cat.

"Where do you want to get to?" the cat asked helpfully.

"I don't know," admitted Alice.

"Then," advised the cat, "any road will take you there."

I believe that the failure to understand the nature of self-organizing systems is at the heart of why the GP has failed to achieve it's dream of grassroots participation and why GDI proved to be not the solution some hoped it would be. In nature (society?) the principles of self-organization come into effect primarily in systems that are far from equilibrium. Consensus is a means of maintaining (or restoring) equilibrium.
I have been trying, in various way, to change a discussion of things like email list etiquette and styles of leadership or decision making into a discussion of basic aims or goals in pursuit of which that leadership will emerge with whatever style of decision making is appropriate to that time and place. There is a dissonance when things are out of synch with each other as they are now.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Greens Blast Governor's Call for Peripheral Canal

That was the Subject line of a note from the editor of The Fish Sniffer, a wet waders fishing magazine. I worked hard with GPCA press secretary to get out a release yesterday.

News Advisory

Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Contacts: Susan King, spokesperson, 415.823-5524
Dr. Bob Vizzard, spokesperson, 916.206 8953,
Cres Vellucci, press secretary, 916.996-9170

Schwarzenegger's resurrection of an antiquated plan for the Delta is the wrong solution for the wrong problem, says Green Party

SACRAMENTO (June 20, 2007) – The Green Party of California reacted to the Governor's announced plans for a peripheral canal by outlining the basic requirements for a sustainable water policy, and criticizing Schwarzenegger's move as a return to old solutions that have been rejected in the past.

"We understand the Governor's frustration, but the Peripheral Canal does not solve many of the problems of California water needs. While it would seem to make it easier for managing water exports from the Delta, other consequences are not acceptable," commented Green Party National Eco-Action Committee member, Wes Rolley. "This would include a decreased flow of fresh water through the Delta, an increase of saline water and the need to abandon much of the agricultural use in the south, central and western islands."

Water policy in California, Greens charge, needs to be based on current reality, not on some 19th Century idea of exploiting inexhaustible resources for unlimited growth. That current reality is the fact that the state's major source of water is the Sierra snow pack and that itself is being threatened by Global Warming, and the entire Southwestern U.S. has sustained a 7 year drought. As a result, water use at its current rate is not sustainable and any plan that does not include a reduction in demand only substitutes wishful thinking for responsible action.

The GPCA has long called for sustainable water use. It's platform proposes policies which "Preserve and restore the state's natural water features - California's streams, rivers, lakes, bays, wetlands and groundwater aquifers...vital to achieving sustainable use of state water resources."

"It makes little sense to provide subsidized water to grow federally subsidized cotton in the desert, but that is what we are doing. It makes little sense to irrigate crop lands containing selenium and allowing that toxic water to drain back into rivers, but that is what we are doing," explained Rolley.

A sustainable water policy would, according to Rolley: Recognize that the future promises a dwindling seasonal water supply; reduce demand for water to protect that supply, reduce exports from the to preserve the lands that are there, enforce current state and federal clean water regulations to preserve the quality of that water, work with agricultural interests to reduce demand including changing the types of crops that are grown, protect the Delta's current residential, agricultural and water export facilities through levee improvements to avert the possibility of a New Orleans scale failure.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Drowning in Water Facts

It is not generally the case that water gets in the headlines and stays there for such a long time, unless you have wonderful fluke photo opportunities of wayward whales wending their way up and down the Sacramento River.

Sometimes, you just have to start tying things together to see where the problems lie and where the liars are a problem.

Hank Chapot provided one California Green email list with a copy of a water news item from Idaho Statesman, from which I quote.
ROCKY BARKER, IDAHO STATESMAN - Idaho Water Resources Director David Tuthill said he is prepared to use sheriffs or Idaho State Police officers if necessary to shut off pumps irrigating 22,000 acres of crops in the Magic Valley this week. Food processing plants, 13 cities and dozens of dairies also would lose access to groundwater under Tuthill's order to meet the demand of two trout producers. Overall, the curtailment could directly cost Idaho's economy more than $28 million this year, based on Tuthill's estimate.
The tone of this story sounds very much like that of some of the stories that surrounded the shut down of the large pumps near Tracy in the California Delta. Take this one from CBS outlet in San Francisco, KPIX.
"This highlights the fact the system is broken," said Jeff Kightlinger, the water district's general manager.

Kightlinger said more needs to be done to cut back on other sources of stress on the species, including agricultural runoff that brings pesticide into the delta, invasive species that compete with the smelt, and predatory fish that eat them.

Water districts more heavily dependent on delta water showed more concern about the immediate impact of the pump shutdown.
Everyone looks for a reason to continue taking all the water they need, even when there is none. That is why Sonoma County announced a mandatory 15% reduction in water use beginning July 1.

To illustrate just how much the system is broken, let me quote from a job opening notification that I picked up form another email list yesterday.
Butte County is about to embark on a nationwide search for a new Director of Water and Resource Conservation. Toccoy Dudley has retired and left CalFed's Vickie Newlin in charge. The county will publish a job search in July or August ( The head hunter is Avery Associates ( with Bill Avery heading the search.

The job pays over $100,000/year. We need someone heading the department that will prioritize local water management sustainability rather than State water supply.
There is that word "sustainability". It is so commonly used and it so rarely practiced. When you look behind the way some use the term, it means being able to sustain growth, no matter what the cost. Let's look at the "mission" of my local water wholesaler, the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
The mission of the District is a healthy, safe, and enhanced quality of living in Santa Clara County through watershed stewardship and comprehensive management of water resources in a practical, cost-effective, and environmentally sensitive manner.
That is a mission statement which says that they need to deliver the water no matter how unreasonable the requirements may be. Don't do anything that might affect the standard of living or those precious suburban lawns.

I added the link to the Butte County Water and Conservation Department in the notice above. Here is a place where Butte County Greens can try to exert some influence on the decision as to who will end up heading this agency and what policy direction it may follow. We need someone who can think of the needs for water sustainability ( that work again ) until the 7th Generation. Now, we don't even ask if there is enough a sustainable supply of water for the next housing development.

There are going to be many opportunities, such as this in Butte County, where Greens speaking up can make a difference, can push things in the right direction, can have a say about the relationship between the engines of growth and the limitations on our resources. I will watch out for them, but please let me know if you find them yourselves.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Republicans Losing Grip on Rural Areas?

Having recently posted about the Democratic Party "Crash" in Los Angeles, I think it's only fair to note an interesting diary posted on the Daily Kos about Republicans in trouble in rural America.

Republicans Losing Grip on Rural Areas
by Devilstower

The non-partisan Center for Rural Strategies was founded to try and keep rural issues visible in elections that sometimes seem to focus only in the cities that host $2000 a plate dinners and 50,000 person stadiums. Since the Kentucky-based group was founded, one thing has been consistently true in the results of their polls of rural voters -- America's small towns and countryside have been running red. However, it seems that may be at an end.

But the new survey, of 804 likely voters living beyond cities and suburbs, indicates that the Republican formula for winning presidential elections is losing a key component.

Forty-six percent of the survey respondents indicated they'd vote for an un-named Democratic candidate for president if the election were held today; 43 percent favored a Republican. That's a statistical dead heat, given the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percent.

California is one of those states where wingnut Republicans take a large rural vote completely for granted. The diarist at the Daily Kos, of course, only thinks in terms of "Blue" Democrats vs. "Red" Republicans. For California there are earth-shaking implications for the Green Party particularly when it comes to explosive issues like water-rights.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

CA-37 - "Bipartisan" Meltdown in Compton

It is tragic the candidates presumed to be front-runners for U.S. Congress in the 37th congressional district were arguing on stage Thursday night and almost came to blows over race-baiting personal attacks. Thank God the Green Party candidate Daniel Abraham Brezenoff was on stage to state clear, unambiguous grown-up statements on the war, health care, and the failed "war on drugs."

The presumed front-runners are Democrat Laura Richardson, an African-American member of the state assembly and Democrat Jenny Oropeza, a Latina state senator in a very diverse district.

The confrontation started when Laura Richardson said "No one can take our seat from us without fighting every bit of the way for it." On Friday, Richardson's campaign consultant, John Shallman, told the Long Beach Press Telegram that Richardson had used the term "our community" and not "us.

Well, I attended the event and heard Richardson say "No one can take our seat from us "and Richardson did say "our seat" not once, but twice. But you don't have to take my word for it (memo to John Shallman: this is the 21st century Remember George Allen's "Macacca Moment" last year). An audio recording of the closing arguments has been posted on the web at:

I have also posted a two-minute mp3 audio file of the offending remarks at:

Here is a partial transcrpt of Richardson's closing remarks:

Posted on, June 8, 2007

Congressional Candidates Face-Off in Compton

...This is about someone who says that no one can take our seat from us without us fighting every bit of the way for it. [applause] This is our community. This is our seat. And let me tell you something: why is it that with redistricting, Compton was removed out of the 55th [Carson-LB Assembly district]? We need people who want Compton, who will represent Compton and who will do everything humanly possible to make sure all of the people in our community are represented and taken care of."

Let's cut the bull. I am an African-American and when Black pols, pundits, and cranks slowly and deliberately say "our community" taking an hour to say "our" with emphasis, it's code for "race."

That's not all. After Richardson made her closing remarks it got really weird.

Republican L.J. "Bishop" Guillory, also African-American, seated next to Richardson on the dais, jumped into the fray. Guillory asked Richardson to "Stand up! Stand up!" When she stood Guillory put his hand on her shoulder and said "I am the Republican candidate. I don't care what Democrat Party endorsed who... this is our choice... if we lose this seat you will have no more connection..." whereupon the moderator ruled that Guillory had violated the rules.

Here is the Press Telegram's account of what happened next:

Published in the Long Beach Press Telegram, Saturday, June 8, 2007

Who's Going to Washington?
by Gene Maddeus

Oropeza rushed over to confront Guillory and denied his accusation. Compton Councilman Isadore Hall, a Richardson supporter, then inserted himself between the two and told Oropeza, "Not in my city, Senator, not in my city."

Why would a labor-endorsed Democratic assembly member accept the endorsement of a rich Republican wingnut like "Bishop" Guillory? Is this what Gov. Schwarzenegger means by "post-partisanship?"

This is one African-American who is sick and tired of Democratic and Republican politicians acting like a bunch of rowdy high school kids about "race" issues in America.

Redistricting: Democrat-Republican Gerrymander

What about Ms. Richardson's rhetorical question "why is it that with redistricting, Compton was removed out of the 55th?"

I do not know about Assembly District 55, but we do know that the City of Long Beach was chopped into three congressional districts as part of the general Democrat-Republican "bipartisan" gerrymander to guarantee "safe seats" for incumbents.

An article was posted on this subject:

Posted on The District Weekly, June 7, 2007
In The Not Seat
by Dave Wielenga

Long Beach hasn’t had a congressional district to call its own since 2001, when state legislators chopped up the city and parceled it out to districts based in Huntington Beach, Carson and Lakewood. The electoral surgery was self-serving, a bipartisan deal cut so incumbents would be re-elected. They were.

Orange County right wingnut Republican Dana Rohrabacher is serving his 10th term, his third since the 46th district was contorted through a Long Beach coastal corridor that includes about 20 percent of the city—significantly, the parts that pass through Long Beach State, the Los Cerritos Wetlands, Belmont Shore and the Port of Long Beach. Almost everywhere else was lumped in the 37th district of the late Juanita Millender-McDonald, a liberal Democrat from south-central Los Angeles who never faced serious opposition after taking office in a 1996 special election when predecessor Walter Tucker of Compton went to prison for corruption.

Nowadays, with all the loose talk about "Our Seat" everyone conveniently forgets that just a dozen years ago "Our Seat" was held by "Our Crook" Walter Tucker. And thanks to Democrat-Republican "bipartisanship" part of the extremely diverse city of Long Beach, California, with it's uniquely sensitive environment, is represented by rightwing openly racist Republican Dana Rohrabacher who has said that global warming could have been caused by "dinosaur flatulence" and that prisoners can do the work of immigrant farmworkers.

Daniel Brazenoff's Unforgettable Line:

The most unforgettable line the night of the Compton Meltdown was from Green Party Candidate Daniel Abraham Brazenoff:

I'm going to go rock the boat. OK? I'm going to raise the roof too. I'm tireless, I'm fearless and I know the issues. Look. I have the best preparation you could want for going to the United States Congress: I work in a psychiatric hospital.
Amen, brother.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Be careful what you ask for

We are often reminded to be careful what you ask for, as you just might get it. There may be no other sphere of activity where that warning is more pertinent and less heeded than American politics. Many would agree that our current political system is broken and most of them have some idea of how to fix it. The choice of fix all depends on the particular evil that you see in the current system. I would like to expand this with a few observations from California's political history. (which you can skip if you understand the importance of unintended consequences.)

When Hiram Johnson was running for the office of Governor of California (1910) he based part of his progressive campaign on a Constitutional Amendment to create an Initiative Process in California.

The intent of this amendment, now the way of life in the Golden State, was to break the connection between such monied, pro-growth and development, interests like the Southern Pacific Railroad and the State Legislature in Sacramento. There was a belief that giving the people of California the capability to override the Legislature, to make the will of the people the ultimate source for legislative action, would deter further ethical lapses by legislators and give the people the ability to correct to most egregious of those actions.

The unintended consequences of Johnson's Folly, as the Initiative Process has been called in some quarters, is the fact that the same monied interests have just moved their funds from outright bribery of legislators to the manipulation of an ill-informed, disinterested populace through sophisticated (or not) media campaigns.

Slogans and code words have replaced analysis of facts. A case in point have been the recent "takings" initiatives in 8 Western States. While these efforts were advertised as protecting private property from eminent domain abuses, they were really aimed at destroying the ability of local governments to use zoning or environmental regulations to control growth or the quality of life in the community.

You can make a similar case about term limits in California. The term limit legislation was passed to curb the control of one man, Willie Brown, arguably the most powerful politician in California in the 1990's. However, even though Brown was forced from his role as Speaker of the Assembly, we have all paid a price for this as uninformed newcomers to the legislature take time to understand how things really work and the history behind various legislative agendas. As a result they have come to rely more and more on the assistance of outside activists, often legislative staffers who have lost their position when the boss was term limited out and who are now paid lobbyist. Those with money to pay the lobbyist salaries are now in a position to write the legislation. This was unintended consequence of term limits.

The Green Party has a fundamental belief in the decentralization of power. Along with that comes the Jeffersonian notion that the only "safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves."
Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree.Notes on Virginia Q.XIV, 1782. ME 2:207
It is questionable that the people are being educated. Most of what you hear or see in the media is mis-information, slanted or only a partial story. A significant amount of television coverage is the result of producers determining what the story is before they gather the facts and so they only gather the facts that fit the story. The rest of is worse. The two talking head format that gives two interpretations of a question without any ability to marshal the facts that says one, or both, are wrong. So, the media is complicit in the propaganda war.

The only participants in the General Assembly of the Green Party are those with the time, money and energy to become deeply involved in the processes. They are self selected, just like the members of the CC and just like our candidates. There is no draft for service to your community.

If we are to rely on the wisdom of a Standing General Assembly, if we are to rely more on local structures based on county boundaries to do the work, then we need to invent a lot of information infrastructure to go with it. In the month of May, we actually had 45 different people contributing to the Green Cal-Forum Email List. This is up from earlier months. Reading through the lists, there is a general lack of agreement on the interpretation of our history, of the meaning of our past actions, of the probable results of future actions, and these are the well informed, committed activists.

I will expand this into a series of posts, because I firmly believe in the Jeffersonian ideal. We need to have a well informed membership if we are to have an impact on society. We need to have a well informed citizenry if we are to be able to bring others into the party. If these goals for political freedom are to be maintained, we must begin to do more than we currently do.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Just where is the Delta?

It was amazing to me that a high number of the citizens of Stockton do not know where the Delta is. According to a survey reported today by the Stockton Record, that is the case. Even in Stockton, a large number of people only have a vague idea of what is really included when you say "the delta."

So, maybe I should lay off any castigation of those in Los Angeles or Eureka who don't think, like I do, that this is the second most important ecological issue in the State right now. It is unique to California and should be right up there with Global Warming as a issue that demands action. However, I will continue to try to educate everyone as to why they should be concerned and what they should be doing.

You can not separate the issues of California Water from those of Global Warming. If we fail to find a solution for global warming, the result will be a worsening of conditions for water storage and use in the Southwestern United States.
For the first time, IPCC scientists also looked at regional climate shifts in detail, concluding that precipitation in the American Southwest will decline as summer temperatures rise, just as precipitation in the Northeast will increase.
What that does not tell you is that more of the precipitation will fall as winter rain and less as snow, contributing to an increased likelihood of flooding. Our current system is designed to store most of the water in the Sierra snow pack to be release throughout the summer as it melts.

There are some in Stockton who get it, not the least of which is Mike Fitzgerald, columnist for the Stockton Record whose May 18 column urged his readers to "Forget the Whales, Save Delta."
If you want to show nature some love, how about embracing the idea that a river ought to run freshly from its watershed, through the Delta and to the sea?

That does not seem to be the prevailing thought up the San Joaquin River. Farmers and southern water users bitterly fought resurrecting the river for 16 years.

These guys, some of whom probably took their kids to see "Free Willy," actually do not believe a river should be natural. Or benefit all. Certainly not fish.

Drying the river killed its salmon. Species such as threadfin shad and striped bass are at their lowest numbers since the state started counting them a half-century ago.

Delta smelt? Scientists estimate only 35,000 survive, down from 800,000 just a few years ago. That is not the natural flux of species; that is a plunge toward extinction.

Yet the Department of Water Resources says it allows the giant water export pumps near Tracy to kill 5,000 smelt a year. Kill the solids, take the liquids. But save the whales.
Fitzgerald his it right, but then whales get all of the attention of Paris Hilton at a red carpet event.

I understand that a number of my readers have followed my advice to endorse the Sustainability Principles from the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN). Thank you for doing that. It does show that there is an increased public awareness, even if it is still minimal.

For those who wondered about just want C-WIN was doing, please read the following C-WIN press release and letter to the Lester Snow, the Director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).


For Immediate Release

Press Contacts: Carolee Krieger, President, California Water Impact Network: (805) 969-0824
Lloyd Carter, Director, California Water Impact Network: (559) 304-5412

C-WIN Demands Reduced Delta Pumping as answer to Delta Eco-Crash

California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) is mismanaging our precious Bay Delta and misrepresenting the amount of water that can be safely sucked from the Delta for delivery to farmers and developers. The California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), an organization dedicated to promoting sensible and sustainable water use throughout California, has asked DWR to dramatically and permanently lower the total amount of water it pledges to deliver under the State Water Project (SWP) delivery contracts from the current level of 4.1 million acre feet per year to a level that ensures average deliveries will not exceed 1.2 million acre feet per year. This reduction will help save the Delta and will give farmers and urban planners across the State a realistic picture of how much water will be available for use.

Currently, the SWP contracts pledge to deliver 4.1 million acre feet per year to water users south of the Delta, the same volume of water promised when the SWP was first approved in 1960. But, a lot has changed since 1960. “We now have a better appreciation of the importance of the health of the Delta and other aquatic ecosystems, an appreciation that is reflected in both state and federal environmental laws.” says C-WIN’s president, Carolee Krieger. As a result, Krieger notes, “between 1990 and 2004, the SWP was, on average, able to deliver only 2.0 million acre feet of water per year, slightly less than half the promised allocation.”

To deliver water to central and southern California, DWR must pump it out of the Delta into storage and transport facilities. But, pumping kills fish and disturbs Delta ecosystems. Even though deliveries have been far lower than the proposed 4.1 million acre feet for many years, the Delta is still dying. Recent fish surveys have revealed that the Delta smelt, considered an indicator of the health of the Delta, has plummeted to record low numbers and is on the verge of extinction.

Many SWP Water Contractors are selling their water rights to urban areas in Southern California. What usually changes hands in such transfers is the full amount of water promised to the seller. But, because DWR has historically been unable to deliver a substantial portion of the promised amount, this leaves the purchaser, often a municipal water district, holding a large amount of what is known as “paper water.” Paper water only exists on paper -- in the contracts -- and cannot be delivered. “The really dangerous thing about paper water is that it is being used to justify new construction throughout Southern California, even though it may never materialize,” says C-WIN’s Secretary, Dorothy Green, a well-known Southern California Water Activist.

According to language in each SWP Water Contract, DWR is required to reduce the amount of water it promises to deliver to reflect what it actually can deliver on a long-range basis. Doing so would get rid of the paper water. But, DWR has failed to obey the requirements of its own contracts.

C-WIN is asking DWR to permanently reduce the amount it promises in its contracts to reflect the real, biologically safe, capacity of the SWP to deliver the water. “If it fails to do so, new homeowners in Southern California may have nothing more than paper and hot air flowing from their taps,” according to Carolee Krieger. “It is absolutely critical for the people of California to understand what it happening with paper water,” says Dorothy Green. “Water policy in California is so complicated that the public is often left out of the decision making process,” Green says, “but the use of paper water to fuel development in Southern California threatens to further erode our quality of life. It must be stopped.”

C-Win Letter to Lester Snow

Ecological Wisdom

This past week, Kalmran Alavi posted a YouTube link on a Green email list with subject Ecological Wisdom. This is the link.

It is the most fascinating amateur nature video that I have seen, the wonderful chance of a person with a camera being in the right place when something happened.

Since I have watched this several times, I have pondered just what the ecological wisdom was supposed to be, what message was Kalmran giving all of us when he posted that. I came to the conclusion that the message was from what we make of it ourselves.

I had the view that the concerted action of a group could change the way the world is. That, when surrounded by lions and crocodiles, it was still possible to get things done and to astound the world doing it.

Maybe I am going to far to seek a symbolic meaning, to use this as a metaphor, but I started to think of the 37th Congressional District Special Election. It is easy to cast the Democratic party as the lions, the Republican Pafrty as the crocs and to admire the concerted work of the Greens. But, it did not happen the first time. Nor, would it have happened had the Greens not stuck with each other.

Watch the clip and tell me if I am trying too hard. Then figure out how you can set aside some time and energy to support Daniel Brezenoff's candidacy.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Good things happen

Among all of the frustration that came out of the SF General Assembly, it sometimes takes an effort to step back and enumerate some of the good things.

For one, the Media Committee, especially Cres Vellucci and Erika McDonald, put on a very good press conference and it got good coverage, at least in the San Francisco television news.

Another is the fact that a number of you got to meet Daniel Brezenoff, the Green candidate in the 37th Congressional District special election. I have written before about Daniel. I believe that this is a golden opportunity to take our message of fairness and peace to all of the people. It is an opportunity to show what kind of organized effort we can produce. We are still a small party, but given that there is no other election to syphon away our enegy, we can focus that energy on this one election and surprise a few people .

Ealier this year, Bill Moyers told a group of students at Occidental College that "The only answer to organized money is organized people." I wonder just how organized we can be on the ground while we have dis-organization in the leadership.

The Democratic Party we through this recently, with the fight between the DCCC types like Rahm Emanuel and the "50 Staters" led by Howard Dean. They managed to figure out a way to work together and, in spite of the bitterness of that fight, won a few victories last November. If we figure out that the way to be in a position to implement anything is to understand that we are a political parties and that political parties contest elections, maybe we can get Daniel the help he need to pull this off.

If you havn't met Daniel, at least take a look at his appearance in the news conference that is now posted at YouTube.

Good things happen to those who try. Daniel is trying. Let's all join him and shake up a few people.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Is the Green Party still Green?

In a state where the governator has branded himself as the Green Governor, the Green Party of CA has lost site of it's ecological basis.

Multiple things are happening. Unfortunately, the Green Party does not yet have the capacity to deal with ecology, immigration and the peace movement, all at the same time. The one to suffer the most is ecology, the essence of being Green from which we derived our name.

Case in point:

When I post to this blog about ecological issues, especially a sustainable water supply, they are mostly ignored.

When events happen that demand a Green Party response, it is difficult to even get people to think about a press release, something that should be an automatic reaction.

Today, an Angry Progressive posted a message at Green Commons that goes to the heart of the problem.
...where the FUCK are you people on the environment? I mean, I think I know where you stand on the issues, but GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK! How is it that Hummer-driving Governor Schwarzenegger, of all people, is able to steal your thunder on this issue? How have you allowed that to happen? I mean, fucking COME ON! You need to get this message OUT THERE, people! It's unbelievable, really. (Sorry. Look, I know it's easier said than done: the electoral system here is badly tilted against small third parties, the media won't pick up your press releases, etc. etc., but... grrr!)

Please take this rant as constructive criticism; "feedback," if you will, on how your party appears to an outsider who wants very much to join the fight.
I am not as discouraged as that, but damned near. The current GPCA Environment email list has only 5 members and the last post was 12/06/2006.

We worry about what the grassroots are going to do? Well, I can see that we are going to worry about two whales and not about a sustainable water supply. Beyond that, it would appear not much.

If you think that it is important to do something about water, then please do one of the following.

Go to the web site for Friend of the River and make a small donation ($5.00 is OK) and note "For Restore the Delta" in the comments section.

Go to the web site for the California Water Impact Network and endorse their Sustainability Principles. Note in the comments that you are a member of the Green Party.

There is a window of opportunity in which we can make ourselves into a contributor to a sustainable future, but do it now. The next meeting of our "green" governor's Delta Vision Stakeholders group is June 7. Act now.