Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

GT for October 20 – 26, 2008

Posted by Trey Smith on October 18, 2008

Greener Times for the Week of October 20 – 26

Volume 3 No. 27
an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere
Trey Smith, Publisher/Editor
Tom Herring, Columnist
Anything emailed to GreenerTimes@wagreens.us is subject to be published in a future edition.

In This Week’s Issue
* Cynthia McKinney in Washington Oct. 26 – 27
* Ralph Nader in Washington, Oct. 21
* Greener Times Goes Online
* Diverse Voices: Ralph Nader
* Thoughts By the Way: An Aesop’s Fable
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: Missing the Point
* News You May Have Missed

Cynthia McKinney in Washington Oct. 26 – 27

As the 2008 campaign season enters its last full week, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney will make two appearances in Seattle. The title of both appearances is “…Vote, then What?” Please take this opportunity to meet with a 12 year congresswoman, head of the Green Party ticket and advocate of a Black-led Reconstruction Party.

Event #1: Sunday, October 26, 3:00 p.m.
Umojafest Peace Center, 2314 E Spring St (just east of 23rd & Union post office)
Strategies for community organizing, greening and reconstruction. What do we do the day after the election?

Event #2: Monday, October 27, 11:00 a.m.
Broadway Performance Hall at Seattle Central Community College
Hosted by the Black Student Union. The power of student movements for change: How to use your campus as a tool to change the world!

For more information, contact Leith Kahl.

Ralph Nader in Washington, Oct. 21

This Tuesday, October 21, Ralph Nader returns to Seattle for a rally at Town Hall. Nader will be joined by his Vice-Presidential running-mate Matt Gonzalez and other friends. Tickets are selling briskly but are still available. Advance purchase is, however, strongly recommended as tickets may sell-out prior to the event. Tickets are $10 for general public and $5 for students. Discounts for groups of eight or more are available as are tickets for persons of limited financial means.

When: Tuesday, October 21, 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7:00 p.m.)
Where: Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave in Seattle
Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/46134

For more information, contact State Coordinator Mike Gillis or visit Nader’s state campaign website.

Greener Times Goes Online

GT has a new [online] home: you’re there! So, you can now access GT via email, rss or through the website!

While each week’s edition will be the centerpiece, it’s my intent to offer far more online. As with many publications today, I will feature web-only commentaries plus full-length news items or longer excerpts, progressive events throughout the northwest and a multitude of links on the right sidebar. If you know of a link you think should be listed there, get in contact with me.

As in the past, I encourage readers to submit articles and commentaries. Shorter items will be featured in GT, while longer pieces will go on the website only. In fact, if a writer can commit to a quasi-flexible schedule, I may add some ongoing online columnists in the future.

Diverse Voices: Ralph Nader

You can read more of Nader’s thoughts on his blog.

In the Public Interest: Closing the Courthouse Door
“Real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. The genius of the American system has been to let that change flow upward, from neighborhoods to cities to states and then to the federal government.” George W. Bush February 26, 2001.

Unfortunately, the difference between words and deeds in Washington is often shocking even to those who think they have seen it all. Alicia Mundy in the October 15, 2008 edition of the Wall Street Journal reports: “Bush administration officials, in their last weeks in office, are pushing to rewrite a wide array of federal rules with changes or additions that could block product-safety lawsuits by consumers and states.”

What President George W. Bush should have said is that he believes in states rights when they are in the interest of Big Business and their lobbyists in Washington. Mr. Bush and his cronies would like to forget about those harmed by dangerous products or reckless conduct. Indeed, Bush & Company seem to regard the civil justice system as a nuisance that threatens to destroy our economy and way of life. In reality, America’s civil justice system plays an indispensable role in our democracy. When the rights of injured consumers are vindicated in court, our society benefits in countless ways: compensating victims and their families for shattering losses (with the cost borne by the wrongdoers rather than taxpayers); preventing future injuries by deterring dangerous products and practices and spurring safety innovation; stimulating enforceable safety standards; educating the public to risks associated with certain products and services; and providing society with its moral and ethical fiber by defining appropriate norms of conduct.

The Center for Progressive Reform has in painstaking detail chronicled the attack on the civil Justice system by the Bush Administration. In “The Truth about Torts: Using Agency Preemption to Undercut Consumer Health and Safety” legal scholars William Funk, Sidney Shapiro, David Vladeck and Karen Sokol write: “In recent years, the Bush administration has launched an unprecedented aggressive campaign to persuade the courts to preempt state tort actions…. Widespread preemption of state tort law would significantly undermine, if not eliminate, the rights of individuals to seek redress for injuries caused by irresponsible and dangerous business practices and to hold manufacturers and others accountable for such socially unreasonable conduct.” (See: http://www.progressiveregulation.org)

And, Les Weisbrod, the President of the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) hit the nail on the head when he said: “In effect, the Bush administration made the safety of Americans secondary to corporate profits.” Mr. Weisbrod added: “Big business lobbyists have been on a crusade to destroy state consumer protection laws, and further stack the deck against American consumers.” The American Association for Justice has just published a report titled: “Get Out of Jail Free: A Historical Perspective of How the Bush Administration Helps Corporations Escape Accountability” – this report is available at: http://www.justice.org/getoutofjailfree.

Tort deform comes in many shapes and sizes – but the common theme is that tort deform severely damages Americans’ cherished constitutional right to trial by jury. It ties the hands of jurors, preventing them from doing justice as the case before them requires. Only the judges and juries see, hear, and evaluate the evidence in these cases. But it is the politicians, absent from the courtrooms, who push bills greased by campaign cash that send a perverse message to judge and jury.

Tort law has produced decades of slow but steady progress in state after state respecting the physical integrity of human beings against harm and recognition that even the weak and defenseless deserve justice. Instead of seeing this evolution as a source of national and global pride, a coalition of insurance companies, corporate defendants’ lobbies, and craven politicians, led by George W. Bush, want to destroy our civil justice system.

When Georgetown Law School Professor David Vladeck testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12, 2007, he noted that the Bush Administration has “seized on regulatory preemption as a way to cut back dramatically on State law remedies for those injured by products and services Americans depend on every day for their health and well-being: medicines, medical devices, motor vehicles, the mattress on which we and our children sleep, and the commuter trains millions of us take to work every day.”

Let us hope that Congress and the Supreme Court stop Mr. Bush from once again trampling the Constitutional rights of citizens throughout the land and preventing victims of corporate violence from obtaining justice in a court of law.

Thoughts By the Way: An Aesop’s Fable

A weekly column by Tom Herring from Vashon Island. Catch more of Tom’s thoughts on his blog (see right sidebar).

An ironical blend of farce and tragedy, this election for president has as its icon the adorable wolverine in Juneau. The debates are a farce, and tragically, both campaigns are financed by non-human, inhuman, corporations that are laying waste to every profitable square inch and soul on our little blue dot. The timing of the irony is remarkable in that so many things are going sour at the same time. Arctic methane is putting an afterburner on climate change, the Iraq middle class has fled, Palestinians are being dehumanized, species are going extinct at a rate exceeding the big extinction, the rain forests are over half gone, the NAFTA-con-Wall Street fiasco has newly pushed poor Mexicans into poverty, the fiasco itself has been “rewarded” while the people hurt by it have been ignored, and on October 15 at Hofstra University a mounted police officer deliberately trampled a protesting veteran of the Iraq war. Menwomen, as the farce plays on, the war on terror has come home.

But, of course, there never was a war on terror, nor a war on drugs, nor good intent in No Child Left Behind. We have been played for suckers. And so, like confined rats we have turned on each other, heaping abuse on good people like Kuchinich, Chomsky, Nader, McKinney, and Sheehan. It is put to you that we do not realize the size of what’s happening, and anyway that we disagree on the root cause. These are dangerous flaws, for it is we who always were the target of these “wars’. This election is important only for the confluence of trouble it puts a date to. And now as the farce plays on, we are paralyzed. Suppose we step back and take a hard look at the “confluence”.

Elective effort by us Greens and by the great independents Nader and Sheehan is doing more good than could be mustered next year by designated savior Obama. Yet, as overly explained above, it’s inadequate to deal with the confluence. Lean on that for a few moments and out pops the conclusion that for the past eight or eighty years we should have been doing something different. One aspect that overwhelms all else is size, for the something has to be commensurate with the horrific size of the confluence. Some flickers of hope illuminate the direction:

The Brattleboro, Vermont, City Council voted to arrest Bush, January 2008.
The Lakota Sioux seceded from the United States in December 2007.
Hardwick, Vermont has recovered from economic failure by “uniting around food”, NY Times October 8, 2008.

You thought it was going to be some kind of coalition, The Backbone, World Can’t Wait and Critical Mass all rolled into one, or maybe a Green Panthers? Hornets with afterburners! No, the direction is a swarm of “seceding” neighborhoods so large that when it calls for a general strike, the corporate cancer will run out of blood. An image that comes close to the idea is provided by Aesop’s fable of the bundle of sticks: the bundle could not be broken. You ask, what connects secession with unison? Glad you asked: The “cancer” has by intent and cunning been dividing neighbor from neighbor in order to conquer. It follows that in “secession” the agents of division are rendered powerless.

Brattleboro found its communal voice when it ignored Public Television’s pablum.
The Lakota Sioux forswore the charity that was smothering them.
Hardwick, bankrupt, boycotted cheap supermarket food.

Great idea, but how can it be spread given that the “cancer” has bought the media? Hmm, well, Aesop with tongue in cheek might remind us that the old English word for that bundle of sticks was faggot. Maybe somehow get our talented gays to queer the works? Pretty good start actually, because we have to come out of the box thinking. An eloquent expression of the difficulty of adopting a brand new view was provided the other day by Mike Davis who likened Obama’s inability to size up the financial disaster to the early Spanish explorers’ inability to comprehend the geological implications of the Grand Canyon. (!) Close to home, there is underway on Vashon a move to increase the scope of our Council. Myself, I’ll be searching for more Brattleboros.

Acknowledgements:
Mike Davis was found by Truthout: http://www.truthout.org/101508D
The Brattleboro story was found by
Rebecca Em Campbell, “Seattle whole-systems artist/thinker/activist”:
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/marian_burros/index.html?inline=nyt-pe

This Week in History

This Week in History, published by Carl Bunin and edited by Al Frank, is a collection designed to help us appreciate the fact that we are part of a rich history advocating peace and social justice. While the entries often focus on large and dramatic events there are so many smaller things done everyday to promote peace and justice. Find more info at http://www.peacebuttons.info/E-News/thisweek.htm.

October 23, 1915: 33,000 women marched in New York City demanding the right to vote. Known as the “banner parade” because of the multitude of flags and banners carried, it began at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and continued until long after dark, attracting a record-breaking crowd of spectators. Motor cars brought up the rear decorated with Chinese lanterns; once darkness fell, Fifth Avenue was a mass of moving colored lights.

October 24, 1940: The 40-hour work week went into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, requiring employers to pay overtime and restricting the use of child labor. Decades of labor agitation and a considerable number of lives made this change possible.

October 26, 1970: “Doonesbury”, a cartoon series addressing political and social issues written by Garry Trudeau, and initially published in a collegiate daily, debuted in 28 newspapers.

Letters to the Editor

Got something you want to get off your chest? Did an article in a previous edition of Greener Times make you madder than a hornet or cause you to stand up to say, “Right on!”? Well, this space is reserved each week for your comments and opinions.

No letters received.

Pencil Shavings: Missing the Point

Pencil Shavings appears in this space most weeks and solely represents the opinions of the publisher. If you’d like to read more of Trey’s ruminations, visit The Rambling Taoist (see right sidebar).

From time to time, I get such a kick out of watching the TV political pundits blather all over themselves. The theme this past week concerns the “fact” that many Republicans are calling on John McCain to ease off on the renewed negativity of his campaign. Not only are his GOP brethren supposedly upset by these tactics, but independent voters are recoiling as well. The pundits say that said tactics are hurting McCain’s campaign and shows his abject desperation as he sees the oval office slipping farther and farther away from his grasp.

There’s just one itsy bitsy problem with this analysis — it’s wrong!! Ever since Team McCain decided to get more negative, he’s been gaining in the polls. As late as two weeks ago, Obama enjoyed a double digit lead, yet now, the lead has shrunk considerably. In fact, according to a recent Gallup Poll, McCain has narrowed the gap to 2 points and the margin of error is 2 points, so it COULD mean that McCain & Obama are in a dead heat.

What the talking heads have failed to take into account is that the decision to go negative isn’t aimed at independent voters at all; it’s aimed at McCain’s base, the fundamentalist far right. And they’re eating it up! Suzie, my wife’s sister, is one of those zealots. She had been rather apathetic about a McCain candidacy because she considers the man far too moderate. But she began gaining enthusiasm when John Boy picked Mrs. Palin as his running mate and is now going gaga as the campaign attacks anything that moves. In fact, she wants McCain to get even more aggressive.

Suzie is certainly not alone. The Religious Right is pouring money into the McCain campaign in such amounts that he’s holding his own against the Obama media onslaught.

As much as we might like to think otherwise, those mean-spirited, negative ads equate to votes — lots and lots of votes. Often, they can turn certain defeat into victory. While polls have shown that most Americans “say” they don’t like all this brand of negativity, they drink it up in mighty slurps. Just look at all the negativity brandished on our local TV and radio daily. McCain and Obama. Gregoire and Rossi. Reichert and Burner. The list goes on and on.

It’s like watching a hybrid of American Idol and celebrity mud wrestling. Far too many American voters tend to cast their vote for the mud throwers and this bodes very well for the McCain-Palin ticket.

News You May Have Missed

When Human Beings Are Illegal
ONCE THE GOVERNMENT assumes the task of separating citizens from “impossible subjects,” historian Mae Ngai points out, “the border” is everywhere, not just between countries. Thus, the border has come to the Midwest. In the two years since the immigrant rights marches of spring 2006, there have been federal ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids of workplaces, especially meatpacking plants, in Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska…

Criminal Gangs Plunder the Planet for Quick Profit
Organized environmental crime is a serious and growing threat across the world, according to a new report by the undercover Environmental Investigation Agency. The London-based NGO today presented its report to a United Nations meeting on transborder organized crime in Vienna with an urgent call for action. The report warns that environmental crime generates tens of billions of dollars in profits for criminal enterprises every year, and it is growing…

European Union to Stick to Tough Climate Targets
On Thursday, European heads of state meeting in Brussels decided to stick to previously set climate action targets despite pressure from several member states to loosen the December target, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

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