Friday, August 31, 2007

Katrina and the Inner-City Challenge for Greens

Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans, Louisiana two years ago. And (for about fifteen minutes) Democrats, Republicans, and the So-Called Liberal Media actually had a serious discussion about class and race in America. In the coming days we shall read and hear a lot of self-serving partisan poppycock from liberal Democrats that everything that happened in New Orleans was the fault of Bush Republicans. In point of fact, the New Orleans inner-city Democratic Party Machine was up to its neck in cronyism and incompetence long before it was up to its neck in floodwaters.

The next great challenge for the Green Party of the United States is cracking the monopoly of the Democratic Party Machines within communities of color in the inner-city. Greens will never be able to really challenge the Democrats until we do this and we'll never effectively apply our 10 key values until we can start applying them where it is needed the most.

In a recent interview in Yes Magazine, Green activist, Malik Rahim brilliantly articulated a vision for inner-city New Orleans that goes way beyond the usual Democratic and Republican nostrums:

I think that we can show, not only people in New Orleans, Louisiana, or in America, but globally what happens when people of conscience come together, in spite of their government. If we can rebuild New Orleans in such a way that we break the dependency upon fossil fuels, if we look at alternative energy in our reconstruction and look at new methods, if we could move away from a levee system and start developing a storm protection system that no longer challenges nature, but works with nature. If we break the shackles of racism, and become a truly progressive city. If we could develop the schools and the education system, if we can work to develop health care for everyone. If we could do these things, we’d know that the sacrifice by all the thousands of volunteers from Common Ground and others wasn’t in vain, and I believe that the rest of the world can look at us as a model.

New Orleans as a model? What a revolutionary notion.

Read More and challenges by Cynthia McKinney and Donna Warren at Green Commons:

Katrina and the Inner-City Challenge: Cynthia McKinney, Malik Rahim, Donna Warren

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Orleans Redux

The media this week is going to give everyone an overdose of rehashed information on Hurricane Katrina, it's impact on New Orleans, the failures since. Every politician with enough cash for the plane fare (that may leave out McCain) will be heading there to take advantage of all those reporters and to spin the story.

There are many lessons to be learning from New Orleans. Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirschenbaum are laying out the lessons from Katrina that most of the rest won't be telling us. They do so in a series of posts today at Intersection, some of which are only summaries of similar material that Mooney has posted to Huffington Post or as "Storm Pundit" at The Daily Green.

In summary, what he has given us so far today is this:
  • "the central lesson that I think we can take away after two years of the post-Katrina hurricane-global warming debate: science doesn't confer certainty; but scientific uncertainty doesn't justify inaction, either."
  • We're not ready for any of these [major hurricanes striking big cities..Tampa, Houston, Miami]. Not by a long shot.
  • We don't know precisely what global warming is doing to hurricanes; it would be foolhardy to claim otherwise. But we do know that we have scores of population centers that are highly exposed to to these storms. And if only due to sea level rise and nothing else, the risks to these population centers are changing--probably worsening.
    In this context, here's what's truly amazing to me: There is no national project to study changing hurricane risks to U.S. cities in light of the future scenarios that global warming may bring.
Just more political gamesmanship from those whose need for power exceeds their need to really help those in need. If I were as Christian as most of these presidential candidates claim to be, I would heed the words of the savior they profess to follow. "Even as you had done it unto the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me."

Hypocrisy abounds.

Of all the journalists covering this anniversary, I would guess that Tavis Smiley may be the only one who knows Malik Rahim. The others just don't get it.

As Mooney says at the close of his Storm Pundit post "Some times you just have to act."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Politics as Usual

Earlier today I read a comment from Alex on a post at GreenCommons. In it, he published a 2004 letter from Donna Warren, a letter that revealed the passion that Warren has for her beliefs and one which, I am sure, Alex is in full agreement.

Wish we had more people in the party who could deliver a message as well as Alex and Donna have done.

Donna was firing back at the Congressional Black Caucus for their attacks on Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo during the 2004 Presidential election. Donna was pretty blunt.
In 2000, Congressman Julian Dixon sold me out like a $2 dollar whore when, as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, he announced the CIA was not complicit in the destruction of the inner cities by crack cocaine. I’m tired of being sold out like a $2 dollar whore by Black people living the good life as my representative in our nation’s capitol.

Recently, I come across a new site, called the Courage Campaign. They have lofty goals, clearly stated.

The Courage Campaign was created to revitalize the California dream from outside the political system. We are progressives who activate and enable the grassroots and organized leadership to take on the problems that have held back our state for the past 30 years.

We have three main objectives:
  1. To create a permanent field organizing presence. We have built a statewide voter file and user interface tools that our friends and allies can use at little or no cost to them in an ongoing campaign to encourage and enable actions and engagement.
  2. To create channels of communication and coordination among progressive groups in California. We have formed The Courage Coalition, a statewide alliance of diverse organizations ranging from the Sierra Club to Justice For Janitors to build capacity, assets and support.
  3. To fight for good government. As a start, we've written The Truth In Initiatives Act which calls for massive new disclosure in the initiative process that will pave the way for broader reform in the future. We are working to pass it through the California legislature but will qualify it as a ballot initiative if necessary.

Yet, when I did though all of this, it appears to be just another front for the Democratic Party, like or DFA. The reason that I bring this up is the profile of one of the "bloggers" at Courage Campaign.
Elliott Petty, Blogger. Elliott is a dynamic young community organizer dedicated to empowering his community through grassroots organizing for social and economic justice. A devout follower of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Caesar Chavez and Marcus Garvey, Elliott Petty is earnestly guided by the principles of Justice, Integrity and Self-Determination. After stopping Wal-Mart from taking over Inglewood, CA in 2004, Elliott continues to advocate for core democratic principles including living wages, access to health care, responsible economic development and local job creation. He is also president of New Frontier Young Democratic Club.
Elliott sounds very much like he has the values that Donna Warren was talking about, but he also could be just another Democratic hack.

So why bother to write this? Well, as everyone looks at coalitions for social / political change, it pays to make sure that you know with whom you are dealing and that everyone is clear about your objectives.

Monday, August 27, 2007

GMO Dangers still abound.

Green Erica Martenson has yet another story in the Napa Valley Herald. (see here for previous ones). This one involves the dangers from transgenic plum developed by the USDA.

There are many twists and turns in this story, as evidenced by the following citation.
In the article, "Transgenic Plum Gets USDA Non-regulated Status Based on False Claims of Safety," two geneticists, Dr. Joseph Cummins and Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, wrote that "a small RNA molecule was present in high concentrations in the transgenic plum" and that "small RNAs are potentially lethal to mammals," which should raise concerns among both consumers and environmentalists.
We all know that genetic material, once released, can not be re-confined. Once into the environment, it remains there, period.

Friday, August 24, 2007

11th Hour

I think that the LA Greens are to be commended for putting together a real Green Weekend. This combines a Candidate Training Workshop with a viewing / forum centered around one of the two LA showings of The 11th Hour.

2 days of Green Party of CA Strategy Sessions and Candidate Workshops at UCLA, plus a Sat. evening event starting with dinner at Monsoon in Santa Monica followed by a special viewing of "The 11th Hour" with Q&A

It would be a great idea for other locals to plan something similar around screenings of this important documentary when it comes to your town... and if it is not yet scheduled to show there, start calling some theaters and demand it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Getting Gray

Since I pay attention to the California Delta, I also pay attention to it's most informative newspaper, the Stockton Record. Today, the Record's environmental reporter, Alex Breitler, has a challenging piece on the Graying of the Green Brigade.

Along with the story is a photo of Bill Jennings, Ex. Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Association. Jennings is also one of the most important activists in California who think about clean water and how we can have any of that precious commodity in the future. He is frequently referred to by the name of his boat, The Delta Keeper.

Stockton's most prominent conservationist says he hasn't taken a vacation since 1995. Now he and his comrades wonder if anyone else will carry on the fight when they're gone.

"The environmental community is getting long in the tooth," Jennings said. "While we find interest from younger folks, it tends to be brief. What we're not finding are the folks who want to roll up their sleeves and come up the learning curve so they can participate in the regulatory process."

There is a lot of real work to be done. What makes a few of us older folks use whatever time and talents we have to try and accomplish something while there are not enough younger people joining in. Maybe I am too old to have an answer. I was born before WW II started and that automatically makes me someone whose wisdom is questionable to many. It really seems bleak

These reflections come one month after the death of another leading local environmentalist, birder Waldo Holt. Other activists are aging and some local advocacy groups have folded or are inactive.

The largest of these, Deltakeeper, is closing. Officials with its San Francisco-based parent organization, Baykeeper, say they are consolidating operations but plan to continue advocating for the Delta.

It doesn't stop there. Two years ago, Kathy Crump, 79, and other environmental stewards started the Stockton Urban Waterways Council, a group that would clean up city streams. But the effort was recently abandoned.

I am only seeing a few real efforts to bring more young people into the actual operation of the party. It appears to me that Campus Greens has stalled. It is not moving forward on to new campuses. We once had a chapter at San Jose State University. It is now transformed into the "Environmental Club". Maybe that is hopeful if you think of things like Jennings does. However, it can also be viewed as a sign that the Green Party has lost it's Environmental focus. Maybe it is only the fact that there was little or no connection between the non-student GP County Council and the student clubs in the area.

If we don't come up with programs and actions that challenge the youth of today to be better than they know, to leave this world better than it is, then we will not survive as a party.

Insuring our future.

While most (individuals, businesses, corporations) are ignoring the potential impacts of global warming, there is one industry which is paying close attention and doing everything it can to minimize the risk to it's shareholders, investors. That is the insurance industry who have significant risk were the oceans to rise, or more to the point, if global warming changed precipitation patterns and increased flood risk.

Blogger R. S. Guskind delivers the message in a very personal way at the Gowanus Lounge, a politically aware slice of Brooklyn life. The insurance companies are taking any increased flood risk very seriously, canceling policies and refusing to write new one for a very large area of one major city. If you view the flood map that Guskind provides, you will also note that the area at risk includes JFK airport.

I call your attention to this because we are still awaiting the release of new FEMA flood maps for the San Joaquin Valley. In the run up to the election of 2006, Hank Shaw reported that these flood maps and the timing of their release became part of the story with two incumbent congressmen, Dennis Cardoza (D. CA 18) and Richard Pombo (R. CA 11) making the effort to block their release in the month just prior to the election. The reasons are clear. If these flood maps had been released, the insurance companies would have reacted exactly as they have done in Brooklyn.

As we moved into 2007, with the maps still not available, the Insurance Journal reported that the size of the San Joaquin River flood plain could triple. Much of the development in San Joaquin County is taking place in the Delta, right in the flood plain of the San Joaquin River. The levee system the protects the Delta is in much worse shape than the levees that protected the City of New Orleans. Dr. Jeffrey Mount, once a member of the State Reclamation Board, gave the NY Times a good summary of just what is at stake.

Q. Why is there so much development in risky places?

A. Because the new gold rush in California is real estate. Moreover, local governments are often reluctant to exert controls over developers because of the tax revolution.

Do you remember Proposition 13 in 1978, which limited increases in property taxes on existing homes? It decimated the ability of localities to fund services. So money for basic services that people expect is now raised through growth.

Many municipalities have become very aggressive about development. I heard a Northern California county supervisor say that his county needed development on its flood plain to fund flood control projects.

When Dr. Mount and the Reclamation Board tried to take some action on this issue (2005), Governor Schwarzenegger fired the entire board.

There are two issues here that should be high on Green Party action lists. One is the reform of Prop 13. The other is the fact that government must pay real attention to the needs of its citizens rather than to the needs of the developers who contribute so much to their campaigns. When I singled out Cardoza and Pombo for attention at the beginning of this post, it was precisely because Stockton developer Fritz Grupe held a joint fundraiser for his good friends without regard to party. Perhaps the only way to break connection between developers and local government is to get Prop. 13 replaced. That will take a lot of voter indignation and we ought to be creating it right now. It may be the most important thing we can do for the State of California.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pogo was right.

In Thursday's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof entitles his Op Ed Column The Big Melt. You automatically know the subject is global warming. He begins with an interesting premise.
If we learned that Al Qaeda was secretly developing a new terrorist technique that could disrupt water supplies around the globe, force tens of millions from their homes and potentially endanger our entire planet, we would be aroused into a frenzy and deploy every possible asset to neutralize the threat.

Yet that is precisely the threat that we’re creating ourselves, with our greenhouse gases. While there is still much uncertainty about the severity of the consequences, a series of new studies indicate that we’re cooking our favorite planet more quickly than experts had expected.
This yet another instance where the focus of the so-called War on Terror has diverted our attention from dealing with the problems that really determine the future of man.

I watched Bill Moyers' Journal last night. Well, only the segment on Katrina Revisited. That as much as I could take. Maybe I was overloaded. I have just started to read Chris Mooney's newest book, Storm World. I am still learning the history of meteorology and it's divergent paths of development. But in the back of my mind is the knowledge that Tropical Storm Erin is bringing new floods to an already drenched Texas, the Hurrican Dean is now a Category 4 storm drawing a bead on Jamaica and that Typhoon Sepat has just battered Taiwan and is heading for mainland China. Mooney, whose family lost their New Orleans home, makes it abundantly clear that you can not associate any single weather event with global warming. But, you will see an increase in extreme events such as super hurricanes like Sepat and soon Dean.

Kristof concludes his column with the same analogy that introduced it.
In the same way, terror experts aren’t sure about the magnitude and timing of Al Qaeda’s next strike. But it would be myopic to shrug that because there’s uncertainty about the risks, we shouldn’t act vigorously to confront them — yet that’s our national policy toward climate change, and it’s a disgrace
Maybe the problem is the fact that Al Qaeda is a human sized problem with a human sized solution. But that is not a description of global warming.

Ultimately the actions we need to take involve ourselves, what we expect out of life, what we are willing to do to ensure the future.

I would expect that members of the Green Party would have the same degree of passion for this issue as they have ending the Iraq War or for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, but they do not. Maybe there is a way to bring this down to a human sized problem. Moyers focused his segment on the issue of corruption and the manner in which corruption has siphoned off $ billions from what should have been a restorative effort. Politicians swarm around money like bees in an almond orchard They all know that the way to maintain power is to use public money to support the locally powerful. So, Moyers reports that "10 of the 23 original New Orleans hospitals remain closed." According to him "Associated Press reports tax breaks intended for reconstruction of homes destroyed by Katrina are being used to build luxury condos hundreds of miles inland from where Katrina hit…Conveniently located near the University of Alabama football stadium."

We all know what was needed and we all can see what the politicians did.

Here are a couple of questions:
  • Why is Moyers one of the few who reports the story in this manner?
  • Why is this not on the nightly news?
  • What is the GPUS going to say / do on Katrina's anniversary?

This is much bigger than just global warming and Katrina. I think that it is a failure to understand the very nature of what this political party should be doing. We are so tied up in the culture of protest that we fail to work out that which will attract people to this party. Our future will be determined not by what we protest but rather by what we accomplish. As a political party, we need to be about the future, not about the past and that requires a change in leadership.

The GPCA needs someone to articulate change in the way that Obama is trying to do for the Democrats. I won't criticize those who are leading an impeachment effort. It is necessary to keep that pressure on as well, especially knowing that it won't happen under the current Democratic leadership. Still, we need the same intensity, the same passion, for the future and making fundamental changes in how we respond to what we know is going to happen.
  • How do we achieve a sustainable water supply?
  • What can we do to ensure that there is adequate housing for all?
  • How are we going to educate all of our children?
  • How can we ensure that there is fresh water for our grandchildren to drink?
  • What will we do when the sea level rises?
At one point in Moyers program, the statement was made that the vision of Miami in the future can be seen in New Orleans today. We do not have to accept that.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hillary by Landslide in California?

[Cross-Posted on Daily Kos at: Hillary by Landslide in California?]

A new Field Poll indicates that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has a whopping 30-point lead over Sen. Barack Obama in California. The latest poll of 418 likely Democratic primary voters found 49% support Clinton, 19% support Obama, and 10% support Edwards.

This essay is not about Hillary, but rather, to put the argument that this tells us something about the nature of the California Democratic Party today. Forget the 1960s stereotype about the "Left Coast." Democrats in Big "Blue" California are not the revolutionary Avant-garde.

"Change" -- What Does it Mean?

All the candidates are calling for "change." I think the subtle truth is that part of Hillary's appeal is actual nostalgia for the days of relative peace and prosperity during the Clinton years. Hillary represents a "change" from the Bush monster we know to... the "lesser evil" we also know. That's cool. Clinton, Obama, or Edwards will be an improvement over Bush.

Want "Radical Change?" -- Look Elsewhere!

What about those who want "radical" change, i.e., a deep, fundamental paradigm shift in the he we think and act to get things done? I have been telling people for a long time, in and out of the Democratic Party, not to get bent out of shape over the presidential race. On January 20, 2009 almost certainly a Democrat will take the oath of office as the next chief executive and commander-in-chief. And then? Some of the biggest political battles of our lives will begin on January 21st.

You better believe the California Green Party is gonna be in the front lines. We are never, ever going to get real change from Republicans or Democrats or some Mushy Middle. It's time recognized this as responsible citizens of an advanced democracy and act accordingly.


A commentor to my Daily Kos diary included a link to opinion poll analysis on:


...Although Sen. Barrack Obama had been aggressively positioning himself as the person who could bring major changes in the country, majority of the Democrats think that it's Sen. Hillary Clinton who will mostly likely bring in major changes. A recently conduct poll showed that 40 percent of all registered Democrats believe that Clinton can bring in change while only 27 percent said that it is Obama who can initiate changes in the government. The result of the poll was quite unexpected since from the very beginning, it was Obama who had always pushed for changes in the government. However, experts believe that since Clinton had the most experience in governance, there is no doubt that she can institute some favorable changes in the country. . .

Democrats think Hillary is the one most likely to bring in "major changes?" Now, that is downright bizarre. I say again, this just goes to show where the Democratic Party is at today. They really believe these "New Democrat" Democrats are where it's at. It's not just one or two "bad leaders." It's not some sinister conspiracy by the Democratic Leadership Council. These leaders are a faithful representation of what the Democratic Party is about today.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Is Boxer the best we have?

  • Senator Boxer has gained a reputation for being an environmental advocate. There is much in her record to support that and she will tell you so every time she gets a chance.

However, there is one further trait that Boxer shares with her sister legislators from California, Feinstein and Pelosi. She knows from where the money flows and that trumps everything else. I call you attention to the following report on Boxer's relationship to the California's Big Ag: San Francisco Chronicle: Aug. 02, 2007
.Sen. Barbara Boxer said Wednesday she would not support a $250,000 limit on farmers receiving federal crop subsidies, saying it would be a disaster for the state's cotton and rice growers.

"It's not an easy issue for California," Boxer said. "We have our rice people and we have our cotton people."
Once again, big ag companies with their mega$ subsidies. In the previous congress, we blamed it all on the Pombo Republicans. There is not excuse this time other than the fact that money corrupts politics and that Boxer is not immune.

Today, I received an action alert from the Center for Rural Affairs. This Nebraska based group recognizes that power that California's Congressional delegation has in regards to agricultural policy. Right now, they are singling out Boxer, especially in light of the statement quoted above. These huge subsidies are at the root of many of this nations problems:
  • locally they support environmentally damaging cotton production where it need not be.
  • nationally they are causing the demise of the family farm and the rural economies that depend on those farmers.
  • internationally, these same subsidies are destroying the agricultural sector of the economies of some of the poorest countries (e.g. sub-Saharan Africa), forcing rural land owners into the cities and creating breeding grounds for anti-American terrorism.

I would ask you to file a protest with Boxer regarding her position. You can call her office at one of the phone numbers listed on her website or you can do it quickly and easily online here.

Political choices:

I find it interesting to see where people end up when they leave the Republican Party. The motivations are varied and the actions of those who leave are somewhat more limited by virtue of the way our political system is structured. Here are a few examples:

The political columnist of the Orange County Register made a fairly public statement of his rationale for leaving the Republican Party. As might be expected for an OC Register columnist, he has said that he will let his cantankerous nature determine his action.
But I'll hang around the GOP long enough to vote in the Republican primary for Rep. Ron Paul, the only consistent defender of freedom in Congress. Then I'll probably re-register as a big "L" Libertarian, if they don't mind having me. I've got some issues with the Libertarian Party – i.e., I wish it were more serious about fielding winnable candidates in local races, and it has sported some weird candidates on the ballot at times. But it's filled with good, albeit cantankerous folks who love freedom. So I should fit in pretty well.

Former Republican Congressman, Pete McCloskey, also made a very public parting of the ways with the Republicans. I don't think that was an easy decision.
McCloskeys have been Republicans in California since 1859, the year before Lincoln's election. My great grandfather, John Henry McCloskey, orphaned in the great Irish potato famine of 1843, came to California in 1853 as a boy of 16, and joined the party just before the Civil War.
McCloskey was much more articulate than Greenhut in explaining what drove him to this decision.
What finally turned me to despair, however, was listening to the reports, or watching on C-Span, a whole series of congressional oversight hearings on C-Span, held by old friends and colleagues like Pat Leahy, Henry Waxman, Norm Dicks, Nick Rahall, Danny Akaka and others, trying to learn the truth on the misdeeds and incompetence of the Bush Administration. Time after time I saw Republican Members of the House and Senate. speak out in scorn or derision about these exercises of Congress oversight responsibility being "witch-hunts" or partisan attempts to distort the actions of people like the head of the General Service Administration and the top political appointees in the Justice and Interior Departments. Disagreement turned into disgust.
I have documented my own reasons both here and on another blog that I started a long time ago.
One major difference is that I ended up in the Green Party.

The most surprising change for me is that of Markos Moulitsas (Kos of Daily Kos). In a discussion with Charlie Rose, he admitted that he was once a Republican... being so because of the libertarian beliefs. I used a small "l" because he was talking about a philosophical viewpoint, not the specifics of the Libertarian Party. (As a side note, one should really read the comments posted at the Charlie Rose site as they are evidence of the good and bad of internet political blogging.)

What I find most striking about this admission of libertarian leanings is that it is not practiced, either in policy or in practice, on his dailykos blog.
It's a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory.
I have posted there, most often on the issue of corruption and the basic idea that it is the money that corrupts and money knows no party. It will corrupt Democrats as easily as it does Republicans. But, corruption is not the issue that Markos recognizes. He has become another Karl Rove, Dick Morris, James Carvill, willing to spin anything in any way to make his partisan point.

There are still some worthy ideals held by traditional Republican, ideas involving personal responsibility, local government, economic fairness, ecological common sense. These have been lost in the Republican Party of Tom DeLay and Karl Rove. They were well hidden in the rhetoric of Newt Gingrich. It would seem that there are well intentioned Republicans who could find a welcome home in the Green Party.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why do we let them get away with it?

California must be blessed to have such a "green governor". Never mind that what he does gives a lie to what he says, too much of the main stream media allows him to get away with it. The news is what he says, not whether what he says makes sense, is truthful, or would benefit the people of California. It must be the news because Arnold is always good copy.

Those who would speak out, say something different, have a hard time to get any attention from anyone. All I have to do is to take you back to my favorite subject. the San Joaquin / Sacramento Delta. The overriding issue is whether the water there is safe to swim in, whether it will sustain fish, whether it can be used for farming. Why are these questions important? The Delta supplies the drinking water for over 20 million Californians and irrigation for over half a million acres of farm land.

Now, we find out that this state, with its "I won't raise taxes" governor and a legislature that can not meet a deadline to come up with a budget are letting our water resources fall apart as surely as the I-35 W bridge in Minneapolis.

In a press release from the California Sportfishing Protection Association today, Executive Director Bill Jennings lays it out clearly.
The Executive Officer of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) has acknowledged that the Board is so understaffed that it can’t meet its core regulatory mission of protecting the State’s water quality. This stunning admission came during Executive Officer Pamela Creedon’s State of the Central Valley Region presentation at the 2 August 2007 meeting of the Board. The Central Valley Region covers nearly 40% of the State’s land area, provides drinking water to two-thirds of the State’s population and includes reservoirs storing nearly 30 million acre feet of water. According to State reports, virtually all of the
waterways within the Region are impaired by an astonishing array of pesticides, metals, salts, pathogens, fertilizers and industrial chemicals.

Ms. Creedon admitted that, based upon a needs assessment, the Board has only:
a) 12% of the staff necessary to regulate stormwater discharges,
b) 16% of those required to regulate dairies,
c) 37% necessary to control municipal wastewater discharges,
d) 40% of those needed to regulate landfills,
e) 26% of those necessary to control discharges of waste to land and
f) only 22% of the staff crucial to enforcing conditions of the controversial agricultural waivers.

Since most of the media won't cover this (they claim that the public's eyes glaze over), it is up to people like Jennings and Dan Bacher (Ed. The Fish Sniffer) and Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla from Restore the Delta

I fail to see the major environmental organizations (Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, etc.) taking effective action here. They talk all around the issue but when it comes down to time to actually do something, they convene another study group.

Be that as it may, even they are far ahead of the Green Party, which very few take seriously as a voice for ecological justice, mostly because the party is silent. We can turn out a few people for a demonstration now and then, but to actually organize and do some work? Fugetaboutit.

There are a lot of people who need to be educated and the one group that I see educating people is Restore the Delta. Schwarzenegger's solution is a peripheral canal (pipe?) that would drain even more fresh water from the delta to supply population growth in our urban centers or irrigation for high water demand crops such as alfalfa and cotton. Restore the Delta is, at least, trying to explain why this is bad and what we need to do instead. Let me refer you to their newsletter, Delta Flows, published today.

Besides recapping what I quoted from Jennings above, they put the blame right where it belongs.
Ecological restoration of the Delta will only happen with removal of the government barriers that are preventing restoration. These barriers include ineffective government policies and non-enforcement of laws resulting in (1) excessive freshwater exports either through the Delta or around the Delta (peripheral canal/pipe) continuing; (2) and incoming freshwater flows not meeting Clean Water Act standards.
Yes, it is our government, and ultimately ourselves who continue to fall for all of the Howard Jarvis lower tax BS. When our survival is at stake, maybe it is time to dig down and pay for the work that we need to have done.
Restore the Delta will be hosting a community seminar entitled “So What Is a Peripheral Pipe?” on September 19, 2007. This event will feature a community update on Restore the Delta activities, a talk on the effects of a peripheral pipe on the Delta by the Delta’s famous water rights attorney Dante Nomellini, and several other noteworthy environmental speakers.

The event will be held at the Sunset Bar and Grill at Tower Park Resort 14900 W. Highway 12, Lodi. A dinner buffet will be available at 6:00 p.m. The program will begin at 6:30 and last until 8:15 p.m. Dinner costs $20 per person, including tax and gratuities, and is payable at the door. Restore the Delta will provide coffee and dessert.

Lodi, that is where Pete McCloskey took his carpetbag to take on Richard Pombo. Maybe he knows the way back and can bring a few good friends.

Another New Orleans Democratic Hack in Disgrace

Oliver Thomas, New Orleans Democratic Hack, Opposed by Green Malik Rahim, Resigns in Disgrace

Oliver M. Thomas, New Orleans City Council President, pleaded guilty to a federal

bribery charge on Monday. Thomas admitted to taking $19,000 in bribes and kickbacks in 2002 from local businessman, Stanford Barré,
an intimate of former New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial.

New Orleans, still reeling from the horror of Hurricane Katrina, has been rocked by an incredible series of

corruption scandals involving: Congressman William J. Jefferson; the former president of the school board; a top aide to former Mayor Morial; indictments of 30 school system employees; and 16 City Hall corruption convictions.

Nobody in the mainstream media remembers this, of course, but in 2001, Green Party candidate,Malik Rahim,ran against Oliver Thomas and others for New Orleans City Council.

In words that would prove prophetic Rahim declared:

"When I look at the economic and social conditions that exist in New Orleans, and I see the failed policies of our elected officials, the dismal conditions of housing, the low wages our people work for and the carcinogenic levels of toxicity in our air and water,I see that the wealth, opportunity and resources in our community are controlled by the rich at the expense of the many,"

The awful truth is that the catastrophic failure of the system in New Orleans is indeed a bipartisan failure. Read More ...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Murder of Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey

Chauncey Bailey

Chauncey Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post and a former reporter for the Oakland Tribune, was assassinated on a downtown street in broad daylight in Oakland, California, Thursday, August 2, 2007. Bailey was a long-time distinguished journalist, who had also written for the Detroit News, UPI, and the Hartford Courant.

Devaughdre Broussard, 19, has been arrested for the murder. Police says he has confessed to the shotgun murder, saying he killed Bailey because of stories he was writing about an institution known as Your Black Muslim Bakery where Broussard was a handyman. The suspect's ties to a black nationalist institution has prompted agonizing soul-searching about Oakland's radical black tradition, but Don't hold your breath waiting for ideologues to change. The reaction so far has been either total indifference or a predictable "spin" based on the ideological predispositions of the commentator.

Silly me. I posted a "Diary" on this subject on The Daily Kos:

Murder of Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey

It is tempting to post something over there because you know thousands, maybe millions of eyeballs will see it. Can you beleive I got trashed for being a "troll" over there? I write a diary about a tragedy of grave concern to the African-American community (who by the way, the most loyal block of Democratic voters), and I get trashed on The Daily Kos for being a "troll!"


Those guys really are crazy.

They say I am a "hit and run" diarist. Excuse me. The one consistent thread running though all my Daily Kos diaries and blog posts is an emphatic rejection of the "Identity Politics" as it has been practiced by both Democrats and Republicans in recent decades. From my vantage point in California -- the biggest most diverse state in the nation and a state where 51% of the population is still routinely referred to as "minority" -- the old politics of "Identity Politics" is not working.

Nero fiddled

The story is told that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Whether is it true or not, it does make a good analogy to what we are doing while our world is changing all around us.

The current Flex your Power TV Ad Campaign makes the same point. The point? Our reaction to climate change is a choice. It is not based on a lack of knowledge.

As I have sorted through much of the rhetoric surrounding the climate change issue I find two major flaws. The first is that the question of personal action is always one of giving up something without immediately getting something in return. The second it that the only policy positions that have been put forward come from those with a special economic interest in selling a product (corn, coal, nuclear power plants) and not a humanitarian solution interest.

Now, from tine Institute for Energy and Enviornmental Research (IEER) comes the first policy proposal that I have seen which promises an economic future that is both carbon free and nuclear free. This is outlined by Arjun Makhijani (PhD) in the most recent Science for Demorcrtic Action newsletter. Makhijani attempts to answer three questions:
  • Is it possible to physically eliminate CO2 emissions from the U.S. energy sector without resort to nuclear power, which has serious security and other vulnerabilities?
  • Is a zero-CO2 economy possible without purchasing offsets from other countries – that is, without purchasing from other countries the right to continue emitting CO2 in the United States?
  • Is it possible to accomplish the above at reasonable cost?

If there is a single issue which will define the physical characteristics of the world we leave our children, this is it. Flex your Power is right in that regard. I would suggest that everyone read Makhijani's report and that we build those proposals into a positive plan for the future. It will mean calling the current political posturing what it is. Our Governor seems to hold forth a bright hope from trying yet again to allow the flow of "pollution credits" to accomplish what they profess as a goal. They failed in the past and there is not reason to believe that they will succeed now.

There are three issues which should be at the top of the Green Party agenda. Two of them, the Iraq War and Impeachment, are closely related. The third is Global Climate Change, unfortunately not a major Green Party issue at the national or state level. I hope that we are no all taking violin lessons.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Peripheral Canal

In several of my previous posts, I have referred to the Peripheral Canal as being a bad idea that Gov. Schwarzenegger has resurrected from it's voter rejection back in the 1980's. However, you should not take my word for it. Jonas Minton, writing in the Sacramento Bee this week has done a much better job. Minton, one time Deputy Director of the Department of Water Resources, State of CA, has surely forgotten more about this project than I would ever know.

While Minton is surely knowledgeable himself, he is wary of what the Governor is NOT telling us.
Look at the critical information they are not telling us: How large would such a canal be? How much would it cost? Would it be $1 billion, $5 billion, $10 billion? Who would pay for it? Who would benefit (e.g. corporate agriculture) and what subsidies would they receive? How would it survive a rise in sea level? The proposed intake near Hood just south of Sacramento and the canal would be less than 5 feet above current sea level. If billions of gallons of freshwater were diverted each day before entering the Delta, what would that do to the farms and fish dependent on that water?
The Governor's prescience seems much like that of President Bush in the lead up to the Iraq War. From Bob Woodward we learned that Bush started to plan the Iraq war only 3 months after 9/11. Such is the risk of leadership that one has to personally carry the full responsibility for every such decision. You have to be right every time. Bush wasn't and it looks as if Schwarzenegger isn't either.

Third World Countries

It seems that there will no longer be first world countries and third world countries, but rather that globalization will bring us all a chance to live in a third world country unless we are very rich. At least that is the opinion of William Gibson, (Author: Necromancer (1984), Mona Lisa Overdrive; coined the term "cyberspace") who expressed such a view in a recent interview published by Discover Magazine on the verge of publishing his most recent book, Spook Country.
To the extent that it’s an American novel of its time, I think it’s necessarily a novel of political paranoia. Cyberpunk’s got it right. In Neuromancer—although it’s never dated in the book, I always assumed it was happening around 2035—you glimpse the United States, and it’s not that great a place. There doesn’t seem to be any middle class. There’s nothing between these post-human superrich people and the Street, with a capital S. Nobody’s ever more than one door away from the Street. It’s quite grim and maybe it’s become a kind of cliché, but on the other hand, it’s exactly like Mexico City. It’s really similar to a lot of the Third World. And so I think that the cyberpunk future, if you want to generalize it, is a future in which globalization really does work both ways, and everybody—unless they’re very, very, very rich—winds up getting to be part of the Third World
I even find a similar position echoed by Colleen Kane, author and former editor of Playgirl magazine. In an interview published online at the gothamist, she talks about this in New York.
Given the opportunity, how would you change New York?

I resent that New York has become a playground for the super-rich. Not only to the typical extent of the rich having the biggest apartments and all that usual claptrap, but the rich are changing the skyline of the neighborhoods where they previously did not want to be, with these luxury condos that stand out like sore, rich jerkface thumbs. It seems like the regular slobs now have a harder time making it than usual, because the real-estate market is getting more and more out of hand, and the local arts community is suffering as a result. Just look at the recent closures of Tonic, Sin-e, Collective: Unconscious, etc. So what I would change is, POP! I’d burst that pesky real estate bubble. The meek shall inherit a loft in a desirable area for reasonable rent! I would also like to reroute all the traffic that will come to the planned Nets arena in Brooklyn to park on Bruce Ratner’s personal grounds.
If Colleen Kane can get it, it should be easy for the rest of us.

Most probably have a negative image of Tijuana, unless you are a male college student planning a holiday. However, Donald Trump has another image.

We need to be far more critical of those mega project which promise so much for our communities. Along with the required EIR's, there should possibly be an SIR. A Societal Impact Report. Greens support communities and communities support the people who live there and not just in economic terms. These mega-projects destroy communities and hasten the globalization of third world life that Gibson predicts. It may even be worth while to explore the collection of posts entitled Picketing Henry Ford. The author, Stuart Schrader uses the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn to work through some of the implications of destruction.
...the seductive architecture of Frank Gehry, who was enlisted for insidious purposes, comprises an impostrous culture, neither Jackie Robinson and spaldeens nor Walt Whitman and Biggie, but something wholly alien to us, except in its familiar, captious stench, of hot dollar bills pressed into an alligator-skin billfold tucked into the pocket of chinos sat on all day by a rich man—the arguments that Forest City Ratner, enabled by government largesse, cares about the community, well, they’re simply fallacious.
The may be no better place to work out the best solutions for livable communities than in the Coyote Valley, a "new town" approach to growing San Jose. So far, the environmental critique of the project has been strong enough to require major revisions to the EIR. I encourage a community critique of similar stature.

Would Barry Play in Bangladesh

Interspersed among the wall to wall coverage of Barry Bonds have been a few shots of the flooding in South Asia. That in Bangladesh is perhaps a wake up call that few are hearing.

There is severe flooding in over half the districts in Bangladesh. According to
Estimates of those left homeless varied, with Agence-France Presse reporting 25 million people across the region were forced to flee and that more than 1,400 died.
So, what does this have to do with Barry Bonds? Not much, other than the fact that the local media seems to feel Bonds is more important. There has been very little local coverage of this story. But, there is time. The flooding is not over.

I think that this is only an example of what is going to happen with increasing frequency as we continue our failure to deal with Global Warming. One of my favorite bloggers, Chris Mooney of Intersection, has also started to blog on weather / climate events at The Daily Green. In a recent post at Intersection, Mooney called my attention to an article in Newsweek giving us the Truth About Denial.

If you are reading this blog, I know that you don't need convincing. You are probably not a denier. The real question is that of what you are going to do about it. The policies that are coming from Schwarzenegger, et. al. are relatively comfortable for the petroleum industry. The entire idea of carbon trading is a sham, but that is what the Governator and his new Air Resources Board Chairman, Mary Nichols, are pushing.

The alternative view comes from George Monbiot and is clearly summarized by this column from The Guardian. The headline for this piece is pretty blunt. "Ministers know emissions trading is a red herring and won't work." He goes on to lambaste the British Government of Tony Blair. Doing the same to the US Government of George W. Bush would have been like a Dick Cheney hunting trip: too easy.

I like some of the recent TV Spots from Flex your Power. They have not gone viral on You Tube in the manner of an X-Games wipeout. That should tell you how many of us want to pay attention.

So why did I pick on Bangladesh? Without any rise in sea level, this country has severe flooding problems in years with heavy monsoons. As many as 700,000 hectares of crop land has been damaged or destroyed in this years floods. That is 1.8 million acres. However, I worry about a permanent displacement of the people who live on this land and the ongoing humanitarian crisis that we will face. I don't think that we are prepared for that.

We are not even prepared for the impact of a 1 Meter level sea level change in California. If you want to get a visual sense of that impact, take a look at this map.

The impact here is not so much the loss of farm land, or the displacement of people. It is the loss of fresh water for residential and agricultural use for much of this state.

If you want to understand more of the problem with today's political solutions, start be reading Monbiot's most recent (2006) book, Heat. There are no easy answers and no matter what anyone is pushing, emissions trading is not one of the effective hard answers.

Now is the Time

I have not posted for quite a while, so I have a buildup of frustration and will post several things this AM. It only took a magazine cover to wake me from my slumber.

You should all pick up a copy of Time Magazine this week. I call your attention to the cover where photo of the new storm floodwall in New Orleans carries this caption.
Two years after Katrina, this floodwall is all that stands between New Orleans and the next hurricane. It's pathetic. How a perfect storm of big money politics, shoddy engineering and environmental ignorance is setting up the city for another catastrophe.
The author, Michael Grunwald, pulls no punches and blows away a number of myths, not the least of which was that Katrina was a horrendous Cat 5 storm at New Orleans.
The most important thing to remember about the drowning of New Orleans is that it wasn't a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster, created by lousy engineering, misplaced priorities and pork-barrel politics. Katrina was not the Category 5 killer the Big Easy had always feared; it was a Category 3 storm that missed New Orleans, where it was at worst a weak 2.
You can read the entire story here.

When I think of the amount of effort that people like Susan King put into the recovery effort I just get sick. When I contrast the on the ground leadership of Malik Rahim to the mess described by Grunwald, I feel like crying. Such a missed opportunity and such empty promises where Bush's promise to rebuild was just another declaration of the end to major combat. It is worse than pathetic, the word Time used on their cover. It is criminal.

This is particularly important for us in this state and at this time. We are dealing with many of the same issues: failing levees that need major repair if not replacement, big money politics at every turn, politicians who care more for their own image or career than the welfare of the people that they represent. There is not a single plan for the future of the Sacramento / San Joaquin Delta that meets the smell test. Sure, Núñez, Perata and Schwarzenegger promise to get things done. But they won't. Follow the money. When it comes time to do something, the money will be less than needed. It will get used on some legislator's pet project. There will be no accountability.

When the Green Party of California convenes it's general assembly in Riverside, perhaps there should be a moment of silence during which we can all think about the money that could have helped repair the levees in New Orleans but went instead to build a highway off-ramp to a riverboat casino. Then think about what we can be doing to make sure that it does not happen again, here, in this state, on our watch.

This is one issue that I will not let drop and I ask all of you to do the same.