Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gary Kamiya: Jeremiah Wright Isn't the Problem

Read Gary Kamiya's excellent essay posted on www.salon.com. It is one of the best I've read on the silly Jeremiah Wright "controversy." Kamiya raises the spectre of President John McCain. I have deleted my entire essay on this subject from the Green Commons Web Site and substituted Kamiya because I think this so important. Please note the powerful quote from Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address.

Posted on Salon, Tuesday, March 25, 2008.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright Isn't the Problem

The hysteria over Obama's former pastor's attacks on America shows we're still in thrall to knee-jerk patriotism.

by Gary Kamiya

Maybe we really are doomed to elect John McCain, remain in Iraq forever and nuke Iran. Nations that forget history may not be doomed to repeat it, but those that never even recognize reality in the first place definitely are. Last week's ridiculous uproar over Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons proves yet again that America has still not come to terms with the most rudimentary facts about race, 9/11 -- or itself.

. . .

We are now five years into a war that may outrank Vietnam as the most pointless and disastrous one in our history. George W. Bush and his neoconservative brain trust conceived that war, but they were only able to push it through because the American people, their political leaders and the mainstream media signed off on it. And they did so because they were in the grip of the fearful, vengeful, patriotic frenzy that swept the nation after 9/11. Without 9/11 and America's fateful reaction to it, there would be no Iraq war. Every day that the war drags on is yet another indictment of that self-righteous, unthinking "patriotism."

. . .

In fact, the same all-American flag-wavers who called loudest for war against Iraq are now denouncing Wright as a hate-monger and a traitor, and attacking Michelle Obama for saying that only recently has she had reason to feel proud of her country. They insist that anyone who is not permanently proud of the United States, whose patriotism isn't plastered on his or her face like the frozen smile of a beauty queen waving from a Fourth of July float, is beyond the pale. Never mind that the glorious results of their debased version of patriotism -- 4,000 American troops dead, a wrecked Iraq, and a greatly trengthened terrorist enemy -- are plain for all to see.

. . .

URL: http://www.salon.com/opinion/kamiya/2008/03/25/rev_jeremiah_wright/

Monday, March 17, 2008

One Day in Iraq

The 5th anniversary of the start of Bush's Folly takes place this week. ABC News is giving this a fairly good treatment, but so far there is one aspect of the war that they have not covered; what might we be able to do with all of that money if the Iraq War had never happened.

Thanks to Santa Clara County Green, Andrea Dorey, for forwarding the link to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) video of the many answers to that question. One Day = $720 Million

Now whether we would actually spend the money in that manner is a different discussion. I tend to doubt it. The alternatives offered by AFSC are just too forward looking and offer too little food for our need to have it all now appetite, whatever "it" is.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Why ask a Green to wear Blue on Earth Day?

That is what I thought to myself when I got the following yesterday from Peter Chapman, Marketing Coordinator, 2030, Inc. / Architecture 2030.
Hello Wesley,

I want to thank you for following our work at Architecture 2030 through your posts at Daily Kos, California Greening and Grist last year.
Well, at least Peter did some research, or let Google do it for him, but I think that he missed a couple, like Green Commons and Andrew Nevkin's dot earth blog at the NY Times. The note from Peter was more than a request to wear blue. It was all tied to the rest of Architecture 2030's agenda. So, I followed the link from Peter's note to BYOBlue.org.

At least, it was not Democratic Party Blue, nor even Yves Klein Blue, though the latter is close. It is more like that of the Blue Man Group who did the warm up for the most recent Architecture 2030 webcast: Face It.

The connection is rather obvious: no more coal means a bluer sky. Got that. It also means a future where climate change reverts to normal cycles. Got that too. Actually, they have put together a pretty good campaign. So, what to they really want us to do?

First, wearing blue for an Earth Day event is taking on a tone of protest, not against Earth Day, but rather against the way that we are changing our atmosphere but not changing our energy policies.
Want to stop global warming? Wear BLUE for Earth Day 2008! Join millions of people around the world who will be wearing BLUE to signify their vote for NO COAL
OK, got it. but isn't there more? Well yes there is.
Then, on April 22, make your voice heard. Pick up the phone: Call Congress at 202.224.3121 and demand an immediate ‘Moratorium on Coal’ - a halt to the construction of any new coal-fired power plants. Through this Call for Climate event, Earth Day hopes to generate over a million phone calls to Congress!
Now, I am really getting it. It is obvious that the connection of the Democratic Party, their reliance on votes from key coal producing state (PA, WV, IL) will make it very difficult for either Clinton or Obama to do anything that will substantially solve the problem. Maybe, just maybe, enough call on April 22 will help get someone's attention. Let's hope that Pennsylvanians get the message and make the call, because that is Primary Day for the Democratic Party.

It also follows the proposed Science Debates 2008, to be held at the Franklin Mint in PA on April 18. McCain, Clinton and Barama invited... none have accepted.

The attention that we have given to the subject of coal is already having some effect.
Fifty-nine coal plants were canceled in 2007. That’s over a third of the 151 plannned. That happened before millions of people joined together to say No Coal. Source: Architecture 2030.
So, here is the to do list:
  • Wear Blue
  • Call in
  • Vote Green
Peter forgot the last item there, but if you read what Obama and Clinton are saying, they are not going to "stop coal." Big Business won't let them and we know what big business thinks, or we should after listening to GE CEO James Immelt (not to be confused with James Inhofe) was reported at Grist as referencing Coal this way.
If business doesn't take a seat at the table, regs will be determined by politicians and activists (some of which, he said with evident horror, want to do away with coal entirely!). USCAP may not be perfect, but it replaced a vacuum.
In fact, none of the major party candidate, not McCain nor Clinton nor Obama come close to matching the understanding of what it really means to tackle Global Warming. Instead, you have to look to Kent Mesplay, for whom I voted in the CA Primary, or Jesse Johnson, two Green Party candidates who don't need to coached on this issue.

So Celebrate Earth Day, you all know how now.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

One more reason that Pelosi is failing us.

I received the following this AM from the Center for Rural Affairs. I am reproducing the text of this message in it's entirety. It is my view that this is just one more reason that Pelosi is failing not only her district, but then entire country as she triangulates her way through the web of Washington political power.
Dear Californians,

Final farm bill funding decisions are being made, and Speaker Pelosi is playing a significant role in the debate. Now is the time for Speaker Pelosi to stand up for $5 billion in new mandatory funding for conservation and environmental priorities in the farm bill.

Will you urge Speaker Pelosi to fight $5 billion in new funding for conservation programs in the farm bill?

The U.S. House and Senate each passed a version of the farm bill that includes $5 billion in new funding for conservation programs. Now conference committee members are negotiating the final bill, and conservation programs are under fire. Speaker Pelosi can step in and ensure that gains made in the House and Senate are not lost in the conference committee.

Programs being targeted for cuts include:
  • Conservation Security Program
  • Wetlands Reserve Program
  • Farmland Protection Program

Speaker Pelosi is playing a critical role in funding decisions for the final bill. Write to her online today and urge her to protect the gains already made.

We are at the last stages of the farm bill debate. Your action today can play an important role in ensuring that the final bill makes conservation and environment a priority.

Thank you!

Speaker Pelosi needs to hear from you today -- she needs to hear that funding conservation programs in the Farm Bill is important to you.

Write Online Today

Or Act by Calling:

Dial (202) 225-4965 and leave this message with the receptionist.

I am a Californian, and I am calling to urge Speaker Pelosi to fight for $5 billion in new mandatory funding for conservation programs in the farm bill.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Drugs in Drinking Water?

Another item from the annals of The Greatest System in the world.

AP Probe Finds Drugs in Drinking Water

A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Democrats and Republicans are not remotely capable of dealing with this mess.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Have we got the chutzpah?

Ralph Nader's decision not to run for president on the Green Party ticket seems to have paralyzed many of those who should see this as a major opportunity rather than a set back.

First, it is really necessary to keep this all in focus. On this issue, I think that Nader has done this better than his supporters within the Green Party... or his detractors for that matter. His focus is strictly on the problems that Bush and Co have brought to the USA... and the fact that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama offer anything substantially different. Even when confronted by the Audacity of Hope I find only another apologist for the same tired policies that have created this mess. I find myself asking what are these Presidential Qualities?

We have seen, once again, that the presidential race may come down to the nuclear option. I am old enough to remember having seen the famous "daisy" ad that Johnson used against Goldwater in 1964. It worked. So did Walter Mondale in his campaign for the nomination against Gary Hart in 1984. The San Francisco Chronicle seems to think that this is just politics and expects more of the same between now and the Democratic Convention.

As Greens, we need to think about what the current campaigns are telling us about the American Voter. For all the talk about "it is still the economy" it would seem that the ability to be Commander in Chief during a time of crisis is still a requirement for serious consideration by the voting public. It is the paradox of the Bush administration's entering into a perpetual war.

So far, I have not heard any our our Presidential Candidates take on this issue directly. If we really have an alternative, then it should be heard. If we really are the "peace party" then how do we bring it about? How do we move from protest to having policy credibility?

That is no different than trying to deal with our economic conditions (yes, still the economy). Like the Democrats, we chew around the edges of the problems but do not have the chutzpah to deal with them directly. In other words, what alternatives do we really offer?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Clean Coal is a Dirty Lie

So is a Green Democrat.

One of the things that really gets me PO'd is the manner in which the Democrats have taken on the mantle of being the "green party". Nothing could be further from the truth.

Assuming that Obama wins the Democratic Nomination, this is one issue that we should high light. Obama has all of the characteristics of a populist demagogue who will say anything to get elected.

Obama is on the record favoring clean coal.
With coalfields nearby, Obama noted that he comes from a coal state and repeated his pitch for clean-coal technology and made clear he believes coal will continue to be a vital part of the nation's energy supply.

"Clean-coal technology should be part of that mix," he said. "We are the Saudi Arabia of coal."

Source: Baltimore Sun.

The US Dept. of Energy has recently shut down the Future Gen project for cleaning up coal because it is much more expensive and does not work very well.

Source: C/NET

Bring this back to California... Over a year ago, the Public Utilities Commission all be banned contracting for power from coal fired plants.

Source: San Diego Union Tribune.

I think it is time to take back our brand.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Education is Not an Issue?

Forget ideology. Forget the personalities of individual politicians. I think I could write a whole book arguing for the Green Party simply based on all the important issues that get short shrift simply because the damned Democrats and Republicans don't talk about them. And according to the two-party totalitarian culture of the United States, if "liberal" Democrats and "conservative" Republicans don't talk about a problem, then it's not a problem.

Jeffrey Henig has an interesting op-ed in the Boston Globe on why education is a missing issue in this year's political campaign. "Liberal" Democrats are now divided on the question of charter schools and "Conservative" Republicans are now divided on Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. And so, the gutless politician's are doing what gutless Demopublicans always do -- playing it safe.

Published by the Boston Globe, March 1, 2008
The Debate on Education
by Jeffrey R. Henig

. . . Democrats, who used to argue against charter schools (casting them as vouchers in sheep's clothing), increasingly see charters as a benign and promising form of public school reform. Republicans, who once could rally around the get-tough aspects of No Child Left Behind, are growing irritated about the negative impact of high-stakes testing.

This internal ambivalence is making it risky for the candidates to use the tried-and-true formulations that have worked in the past. . .

This is an issue that is close to me. My wife, Cathy Deppe and my daughter have taught in the public schools in San Jose. Cathy has also taught in Los Angeles where the Los Angeles Unified School District, presided over by the Los Angeles Democratic Party Machine is an absolute disgrace. We have grandchildren attending public schools in California where our sacrosanct racist 2-Party System has all but destroyed what was once one of the finest systems of public education in the world.

Read More on at Green Commons: http://www.greencommons.org/node/980

Nader and the Greens

I have read a ton of email in the last two days concerning Ralph Nader's decision not to run for President of the US as a Green. The internal email lists of the Green Party have exhibited just about every emotional reaction that you can think of and a wide range of commentary about what should be done including some who want to change the party convention rules and give the nomination to Nader anyway.

In general, however, there are two concepts emerging that should be considered. One is that we need to run synergistic campaigns, Nader and the Greens against the duopoly. This seems to be playing off the comments that Nader made on C-SPAN: (emphasis mine)
Q: The caller said you ran on the Green party ticket. Why not run on the Green party ticket again?

NADER: Well, because I think Cynthia McKinney is running, and I think it would be wonderful for the Green Party to have an African-American woman. She was elected numerous times to the House of Representatives, and I think we need several progressive initiatives in this country.

Q: And that was the decision, to not run on the Green Party ticket because she announced?

NADER: Well, there are others as well. You know, the Green Party is only on twenty-one ballots, and we don't want to be distracted. We have to get on fifty - try to get on fifty state ballots. And the
Greens have their way of doing things, and we have our way of doing things.
The other manner of approaching this is to just go our separate ways. Paul Krumm, Green Party National Committee member from Kansas has argued that Greens are better off without Nader because his style of leadership is not compatible with GP values of Grassroots Democracy. His discussion is right out of Eric Hoffer.
Here is the problem as I see it.
1. Ralph has his own agenda. If anybody wants to join his agenda, that is ok with him. If not, he is not interested in working with them.
2. When you look at the kind of relationship this involves between leader and followers, it requires that followers follow the agenda of the leader, in this case Ralph.
3. Upon analysis, this shows Ralph to be a dictator, a benevolent dictator in this case, however a dictator in form and fact.
4. This kind of relationship is inimical to the ten key values of the Green party.
5. This leaves both us, and Ralph between a rock and a hard place. He is unwilling to join a democratic process, and we are left with joining with an actor who has a number of beliefs that agree with ours, but whose process sucks us into the same kind of relationship between leadership and the rest of society as the major parties.
6. Greens who have not grokked the difference in process in their own lives, have no clue as to the existence of this problem. but for those who have, it stands out like a sore thumb.
7. Nader supporters who do not see the difference in process, and see him as a potential leader for our movement are very impatient with those who see differently than they do. They want a leader, and to be followers in a movement. They don't see that what is needed is a movement where a charismatic fuhrer is not necessary, but where leadership comes in little bits from many sides.

my (Krumm's) conclusion: Those who want to support Ralph should join his movement, leave the Green Party, and do so. He is working for good ends, and needs your support. Those who see the inconsistency between Ralph's means and ends should go their way and continue working with and for the Green Party and its ten key values.

This is not an ideal solution, however it is the best that can be done under the present circumstances.
I don't fully agree with Paul. I don't see Nader's intent in the same light, though I see quite a bit of Hoffer's True Believer in those of his followers who refer to "Saint Ralph".
But, I do agree that we are best off putting all of our resources into being the best Green Party that there is. We need to become as adept at organizing as the major parties, especially the Obama campaign this year. To date we have put too much faith in our message and too little work into the organization.

Bill Moyers Campaign Analysis

I watched Bill Moyers Journal last night on PBS. While Moyers is always interesting, and in his recitation of viewer email comments,I did seen one referencing the Green Party;
It's disingenuous to discuss candidates that are ignored in our corporate duopoly election system without mentioning or actually interviewing Green Party candidates... For all the indifference shown to the Green Party by the corporate press and derision by the so-called progressive press, the fact is the Greens have 234 elected officials in 28 states...The Greens are growing, whether you know it or not; whether you like it or not. Carl Lundgren

the most interesting segment was his campaign analysis discussion with Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. She makes a very good case for the fact that Obama's wins have as much to do with superior organization and advertising as it does with the image that he has created of being the agent of change as opposed to the baggage that Clinton (e.g. NAFTA) from the first Clinton presidency.
BILL MOYERS: Aren't these text messages going to kids who aren't old enough to vote?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: They may be. But they're not going to people who aren't old enough to volunteer. There's no age barrier to volunteering. And what's important also, in the advertising stream this year, is that there is advertising to the young about issues of concern to the young. The Obama campaign has pioneered this. There is one Hispanic language ad for Senator Obama, in which a young person basically explains why it's important to get your parents involved for Obama. We know there's a generational divide. Older voters, more likely, particularly older women will be with Senator Clinton, younger, with Senator Obama. This is a trickle up theory. Get the young to influence their parents.
In most caucus states, Obama has done better than Clinton and amassed a large number of delegates... again a sign of having a superior organization in place, everywhere.

If we are to learn how to compete in major races, then we need to learn how to make superior organization happen on a similar level. By the time time the current electoral campaign is over, the Clinton legacy may be a text book case in how to lose an election in an age of electronic campaigning.