Greener Times

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Archive for November, 2008

GT for November 24 – 30

Posted by Trey Smith on November 22, 2008

Greener Times for the Week of November 24 – 30

Volume 3 No. 32

an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere
Trey Smith – Publisher/Editor
Tom Herring, Duff Badgley & Maryrose Asher – Columnists

In This Week’s Issue
* Seattle Green Party Celebration & Conversation
* Greens Urge Obama to Appoint Cabinet Members Dedicated to Real Change
* Build a Movement to Break the Bailout
* Thoughts By the Way: Turkey
* Our Climate Crisis: Let GM Die
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Greens, Got the Blues?
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: What the…?
* News You May Have Missed

Seattle Green Party Celebration & Conversation
by GPoS Facilitator Duncan Autrey

I want to invite you to a very important end of the year meeting of the Green Party of Seattle. This will be a year-end celebration and conversation of the future.

When: Thursday, December 11, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Where: Cascade People’s Center, 309 Pontius Ave N

We will be having a potluck beginning at 6:30.

Starting at 7 we will have a world café style conversation about the how the Green Party and progressive political parties can or should fit into the local movement and politics, particularly in the new political landscape we are entering. Everyone is encouraged to invite people who they think would have something to contribute to this important discussion.

After a break the official business will begin at 8:55 and we will be having a vote about a resolution supporting the African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center and their struggle. Please read the text of the resolution included on the GPoS listserve and on the Seattle Green Party website so you can be prepared for the vote. Voting will be restricted to members only.

Don’t forget to bring food at 6:30.

Greens Urge Obama to Appoint Cabinet Members Dedicated to Real Change
Green Party leaders called on President-elect Barack Obama to appoint a Cabinet that will pursue real reform, in accord with Mr. Obama’s promise of change in the new administration.

“Democratic and Republican presidents alike have a record of naming industry chiefs, corporate board members and lawyers, and others loyal to wealthy, elite interests,” said Holly Hart, secretary of the Green Party of the United States. “If President Obama truly believes in ‘change we can believe in,’ he’ll appoint a Cabinet that looks like America — not just in ethnic and gender diversity, but in its dedication to the needs of working Americans and the goal of international peace and justice.”

Greens called Mr. Obama’s choice of Rahm Emanuel for White House Chief of Staff especially unfortunate, citing Mr. Emanuel’s position as managing director of investment banks Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, earning him $18 million between 1999 and 2002 and his track record in Congress since 2003.

The appointment of Mr. Emanuel confirms Mr. Obama’s pledge to AIPAC that he will maintain the same uncritical support for Israel as the Clinton and Bush administrations, whose policies resulted in increasing human rights violations against Palestinians and greater instability in the region. Mr. Emanuel was also one of the original drafters of NAFTA and now favors similar antidemocratic ‘free trade’ pacts with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, which would cost more US jobs and suppress environmental and labor protections.

Green Party leaders said that Rahm Emanuel’s appointment was consistent with Mr. Obama’s choice of Sen. Joe Biden as his Vice President. Despite his reputation in the media as a defender of working people, Mr. Biden helped draft a law signed by President Bush that relaxed regulations on financial institutions, giving them more power over Americans facing financial problems and transferring risk from predatory lenders to borrowers. As an architect of mandatory minimum drug laws (including the RAVE Act), Sen. Biden helped put the children of working families behind bars.

Among the corporate-connected names on the list for the Obama Cabinet are Eric Holder, Jr. for Attorney General and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture. Mr. Holder is a partner at Covington & Burling, which represents the National Football League, Chiquita, and Merck, and Gov. Vilsack is an enthusiastic advocate of genetically engineered crops and corn- and soy-based biofuels, with ties to Monsanto, whose products and policies have destroyed independent and family farms around the world.

“Barack Obama’s mantra of ‘change’ is already a lie. With Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff, and with Hillary Clinton rumored to be Secretary of State, the Obama White House is ready to pursue much of the same agenda as previous administrations,” said Cliff Thornton, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. “It’s a twisted irony that some tried to tag Obama as a socialist, a perception that will make it that much easier for his administration to continue the practice of redistributing wealth from middle- and low-income Americans to America’s wealthiest. Bill Clinton was denounced as a liberal by the same right-wing pundits whose corporate buddies he was handing America over to. The same sell-out is going to happen all over again.”

“Voters who elected Barack Obama because of his promise of change and the hope of a progressive administration need to wake up and realize they’re in for yet another fight. Only if the voters hold Obama to his promises can we avoid the same pro-corporate and warhawk policies that came out of the disastrous Clinton and Bush White Houses,” added Mr. Thornton.

Build a Movement to Break the Bailout
by Kevin Zeese, Executive Director of The Campaign for Fresh Air & Clean Politics

October saw an increase in bankruptcies — 108,595, an average of 4,936 every business day.

President Bush hosted the G-20 summit – the official menu included fruitwood-smoked quail, thyme-roasted rack of lamb and baked Vermont brie with walnut crostini, along with three wines .

More than a quarter million U.S. households received a foreclosure filing in October. A total of 279,561 properties got a default notice, were warned of a pending auction or were foreclosed.

World leaders washed down their quail and lamb with three expensive wines – one Shafer Cabernet “Hillside Select” 2003 sells at $499 a bottle.

Have these leaders ever heard of Maria Antoinette and the French Revolution?

The stock market continues to drop, unemployment is rising, home prices are falling, retail sales saw a record drop, credit is tight – the world leaders get together for Bush’s farewell supposedly to save the world economy and produce . . . nothing.

Last week, the Federal Reserve – the banksters central bank, run by banksters for the banksters – refused to say where the $2 trillion they have put into bailout banks was spent or for what collateral. Treasury, reversed itself and is no longer buying “toxic assets” but buying equity stakes in banks – infusing banks with taxpayer cash (of course, they’re not getting a seat on the board like a major investor should). Oh . . . and Treasury has been blacking out key information on their contracts, like how much people they are hiring from Wall Street are getting paid to bailout their Wall Street friends.

ENOUGH. WE’VE HAD ENOUGH.

We’re joining together to Break the Bailout. The first step is a moneybomb on December 7. We want Washington, DC to know that they will be held accountable, their votes will be watched and reported to the American people.

JOIN US AND TELL WASHINGTON AND WALL STREET – ENOUGH.

The Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics has started a transpartisan coalition with Break the Matrix (famous for the Ron Paul Moneybombs), AfterDowningStreet and 16 other organizations – the Break the Bailout campaign – visit http://www.BreakTheBailout.com to see what we’re planning. We’re going to build a community, a citizen’s movement, to fight for the economy we want. We know the country is outraged and we’re going to redirect that outrage into constructive action.

Take action today. We’re holding a MONEYBOMB on December 7, 2008 to show elected officials we’re serious. Pledge today by filling out the “please pledge now” form on our website, then come back and join us on December 7 – the moneybomb day – to make your donation and watch the collections mount up. Become a Bailout Breaker!

Acting alone, we can achieve nothing; acting together, we can change everything.

Thoughts By the Way: Turkey
Tom Herring is a Community Council member on Vashon Island. Catch more of Tom’s thoughts on his blog.

The den of thieves back East are looting the country and we are supposed to celebrate Thanksgiving? Troops home by Christmas would be something to celebrate; too bad that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen says there are so many men and so much material in Iraq that a pullout would take years. And eviction of the Bush administration, so hoped for, is yet no cause to celebrate because Bush has planted stink bombs in every crevice of the crumbling bureaucracy of government.

Thanks to Bush climate change has passed the threshold of instability with as yet no corrective measures taken, even some measures taken to speed up change. Coal burning could stop today yet not prevent the abrupt culmination of positive feedback that will occur within ten years. Ask James Hanson. Thanks to Bush morbid programs like No Child Left Behind, the Patriot act and Homeland Security are in place with no uninstall software available. And those are merely the tip of the smelly iceberg. In fact, Bush has instituted so many morbid changes that the combined momentum toward a police state will roll over Obama like that Caterpillar bulldozer rolled over Rachel Corrie. In all, the holiday season is being ushered in by four unstoppable pressures:

War-sown instability in Asia.
Delayed action of 380 ppm
Worldwide bankruptcy
Bush foundation for police state

Instead of outrage in Congress, we have the spectacle of a shining light like Sherrod Brown trying to prop up automakers. Why doesn’t he ask for money to switch to “green” products? We need more cars like we need constipation. Even so what is perhaps more painful to witness is the multitude of us giving thanks next Thursday

It’s high time for a general strike.

Our Climate Crisis: Let GM Die
Duff Badgley is the leader of the One Earth Climate Action Group and was a candidate for Governor as a Green in 2008. He can be reached at 206-283-0621.

Cars cannot do anything good for the environment except less damage than others. — Bente Oeverli, Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman, September, 2007

Let General Motors die. And Chrysler, Ford, Toyota, VW and all carmakers. No government bailout for them. Give the full $50B auto industry bailout to worker retraining in new, truly green jobs. Cars can never be green.

Our Earth will no longer tolerate Auto Abuse. Each day, we hurtle further into the Climate Abyss and yet we keep driving, 800 million of us worldwide. When we know that each turn of our car key ignites another episode of planet-ruining pollution. 1/3 of all U.S. CO2 emissions comes from cars and light trucks (SUVs, pickups and vans).

But it’s not just tailpipe emissions. Please do not buy a shiny, new Prius or electric car.

A 2007 VW study says 27-30% of a car’s lifetime carbon emissions come during production, before the car hits the road.

And that’s without counting electricity the assembly lines feast on during car production. Honda estimates that 70% of its auto production energy needs are electricity. So, maybe 30-40% of a new car’s lifetime carbon debt comes before we kick its tires on the showroom floor, gape under its hood, check its notoriously inflated EPA mileage ratings and buy it.

If we want to grievously harm our Earth at the precise time when the Earth can least afford it, buy a new car now. Any new car. It doesn’t matter how you power it.

So, GM dies.

What to do with all those laid-off autoworkers? Re-train them. Sure, they’ll earn a lot less money caulking windows and installing solar panels. That’s a good thing—an essential thing. Because…

Prosperity is the Problem.

Americans per capita consume almost 5 times more resources than what is sustainable, according to the 2008 World Wildlife Federation Living Planet Report. 5 times. Resources like the huge amounts of electricity, steel, glass, plastic, and chrome that new cars demand during manufacture.

That means each of us will need to cut 80% of our income or continue to lay waste to the Earth.

The WWF study also shows America, per person, consumes almost five times more of our finite resources than China…9.5 times more than India, 12.5 times more than Afghanistan. At the current rate of global consumption, we will need a second planet by 2030. If there is a recognizable 2030.

Jim Hansen, our pre-eminent climate scientist, gives us one year to make “transformational change” or face a climate “cataclysm”. Australia’s leading climatologist, Tim Flannery, says he has “a sense of foreboding” that in the next ten years the Earth will face a global climate collapse like the current economic collapse. Flannery says the collapse will likely “be sudden and have unforeseen consequences.”

So, America, what’s it gonna be? Our cars or Our Planet. We can’t have both.

Let GM die.

Better yet, pull the plug on all car makers. Now. Direct at least $50B in taxpayer money to autoworker retraining. Now. Then start directing the rest of the $700B bailout to further dismantling and restructuring our profoundly non-sustainable culture. Cars can have no part in this.

Un-Spinning the Spin: Greens, Got the Blues?
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

I’ve been considering that lately – the more you need to ‘explain’ why up is down, the less likely that up is, in fact, down. — Anonymous

I just finished reading Lincoln’s Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk. The psychological description of the melancholy affecting Abraham Lincoln throughout his life could easily describe the melancholic spirit of many of us on the Left. At least those of us who are not quite as optimistic as other progressives in regard to this new administration and in President-elect Barack Obama to bring the change he has promised.

We also have the daily bombardment of the effects of global warming, the looming economic collapse, wars and threats of wars. How can you keep a smile on your face with this going on? And, to top things off, we soon will have the over-commercialized, depressing, hard-to-handle “holiday season” upon us.

Yet, many of those we interact with on a daily basis are downright happy, even ecstatic, that there is going to be a dramatic shift in national priorities and that a more benevolent leader has been elected who will solve the economic crisis, successfully tackle global warming, and bring world peace.

Bah, humbug!

THE SPIN
Most people view depression as mentally unhealthy and a weakness of character. It ruined the political career of Thomas Eagleton in 1972 during his short-lived vice presidential candidacy as George McGovern’s running mate. Once he admitted he had received in-patient psychiatric treatment for depression, including “electroshock,” he was forced to withdraw.

Isn’t it true that “happiness is the key to success (Albert Schweitzer),” “whoever is happy will make others happy, too (Mark Twain),” and, “some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go (Oscar Wilde)?”

Although chronic depression is a serious condition that needs medical and psychological intervention, is a melancholic personality too harshly judged in our society today?

THE UN-SPIN
In Lincoln’s Melancholy, Shenk reports of a 1979 laboratory research experiment by Lyn Abramson and Lauren Alloy. The focus of the study was to determine whether there was a difference in the way those suffering depression perceived reality as compared to non-depressed subjects.

A test laboratory was set up with subjects placed in front of lights and, similar to a television game show, rewarded for the number of times they were able to make the green light flash. Sometimes they would win money if the green light went on and, at other times, lose money if it did not. The scores were visible to the subjects at all times.

Afterward, the “normal,” non-depressed subjects indicated they felt they had control when they won money (60-65 on a scale where 0 = no control and 100 = total control). When they lost money, they felt they had little or no control.

The depressed subjects, however, saw things differently. Whether they won money or lost money, they felt they had no control over the outcome.

And, they were right. The game was fixed.

The term “Depressive Realism” (“Sadder but Wiser”) was used to describe the benefit depressed individuals exhibited as compared to “normal” individuals.

Referencing this study, science Journalist Kyla Dunn, writes,

Previously, depressed people were believed to be drawing conclusions about themselves and their experiences that were unrealistically distorted towards the negative. Yet as this research suggests, one cognitive symptom of depression may be the loss of optimistic, self-enhancing biases that normally protect healthy people against assaults to their self-esteem. In many instances, depressives may simply be judging themselves, and the world much more accurately than non-depressed people, and finding it not a pretty place.

Abramson and Alloy further explain that, in fact, happiness could be the disorder. Alloy writes that much research indicates that non-depressed individuals are “highly vulnerable to illusions, including unrealistic optimism, overestimation of themselves, and an exaggerated sense of their capacity to control events.”

Psychologist Richard Bentall has taken this research even further by suggesting that, in fact, happiness should be classified as a mental disorder – “major affective disorder (pleasant type).”

In conclusion, by the standard definition of mental health—“the ability to maintain close and accurate contact with reality”—those of us who feel this angst over world events have the ability to see the world as it is, and it stinks! However, we are definitely better off facing reality than hiding behind illusions as it gives us the momentum to work toward real change.

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory. – Albert Schweitzer

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.

November 24, 1947: A group of writers, producers and directors that became known as the “Hollywood 10” were cited for contempt of Congress when they refused to cooperate at hearings about alleged Communist influence in the movie industry. Following their appearance in front of House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) under Rep. John Parnell Thomas (R-NJ), the House of Representatives voted 346-17 for the citations. All were convicted and sentenced to 6-12 months in prison. The charges were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

November 27, 1957: Jawaharlal Nehru, who fought British colonial authority through acts of passive resistance and became India’s first Prime Minister, made an impassioned speech appealing to the United States and the USSR to end nuclear tests and begin disarmament, which, he said, would “save humanity from the ultimate disaster.”

November 29, 1864: A U.S. Army cavalry regiment under Col. J. M. Chivington (a Methodist pastor), acting on orders from Colorado’s Governor, John Evans, and ignoring a white surrender flag, attacked sleeping Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, killing nearly 500, in what became known as the Sand Creek Massacre. The Indians had been ordered away from Fort Lyon four days before, with the promise that they would be safe. Virtually all of the victims, mostly women and children, were tortured and scalped; women’s genitals were cut out and stuck on poles. Nine of 900 cavalrymen were killed. A local newspaper called this “a brilliant feat of arms,” and stated the soldiers had “covered themselves with glory.” At first, Chivington was widely praised for his “victory” at the Battle of Sand Creek, and he and his troops were honored with a parade in Denver. However, rumors of drunken soldiers butchering unarmed women and children began to circulate, and Congress ordered a formal investigation of the Sand Creek Massacre. Chivington was eventually threatened with court martial by the U.S. Army, but as he had already left his military post, no criminal charges were ever filed against him.

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: What the…?
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.

Amidst all the euphoria of the historic Obama win, some progressives and lefties have recently been heard saying, “What the…? It seems that all the hopes and dreams they had for the administration of change are evaporating before their very eyes. As reported below in “This Is Change?”, Obama is surrounding himself with Clinton-era politicos and neo-cons.

This week I received the following alarming email from Peace Action:

“What will change really look like?

“We’ll know when we see those faces around the table at that first cabinet meeting.

“I’m sure you’ve heard the rumor mills churning: There are exciting names being floated alongside some downright disturbing rumors. Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates, an Iraq war loyalist and a hawk on nuclear weapons, is being talked about as a possible Obama Defense Secretary. In the last two weeks, this rumor has morphed from a trial balloon to something more likely.”

Add to this the naming of Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff and the frightening possibility of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and it’s enough to make almost any stomach turn somersaults!

Not only is the Obama cabinet making a lot of people squirm, but our financial free fall has Obama fingerprints all over it. Remember that it was Barack Obama and his calls to Dem lawmakers that turned a dead bailout bill into a signed bailout bill. We were told that the bailout would restore confidence in the markets and be a first step on the road to economic recovery. Yet, in this week alone (I’m writing this on Thursday night), the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen by nearly 1000 points and is at its lowest point in years!

Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader warned voters that Barack Obama’s vaunted hope and change campaign would not bring the kind of hope and change most of them craved. How long will it take most of them to realize they’ve been duped by a Dem yet again?

News You May Have Missed

This is Change?
U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and views, the disastrous realities his administration will inherit, and, of course, unpredictable future crises. But the best immediate indicator of what an Obama administration might look like can be found in the people he surrounds himself with and who he appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly, when it comes to foreign policy, it is not looking good. Obama has a momentous opportunity to do what he repeatedly promised over the course of his campaign: bring actual change. But the more we learn about who Obama is considering for top positions in his administration, the more his inner circle resembles a staff reunion of President Bill Clinton’s White House…

Yikes!!! I’m a Slave to Socialized Medicine
Growing up in Florida in the 1940s, I saw many of the doctors my family knew fighting against Harry Truman’s effort to enact what they called “Socialized Medicine.” Their immediate target was Sen. Claude Pepper, a New Deal Democrat who supported universal health care. Our doctor friends dubbed him “Red Pepper” and helped defeat him in the elections of 1948. Yet, for all this early “fight for freedom,” I now find myself in France enjoying single-payer, socialized medicine, which I would heartily recommend to all Americans…

Stats Show Religious Beliefs Harm Countries
Religious belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research. According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems. The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society…

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In These Times: Why Cynics Are Wrong

Posted by Trey Smith on November 16, 2008

There’s a really good article by Slavoj Zizek posted at In The Times.  He offers some insights on a topic that many of us on the left have been discussing all month — the overall significance of the Barack Obama victory.

On the one hand, no one can deny its historical significance.  Had Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. been told that a black man would be elected to the Oval Office less than 50 years after their assassinations, I believe both men would have laughed until they cried.

On the other hand, notwithstanding this historical triumph, will the Obama administration be yet another example of politics as usual? Since leading conservatives and power brokers eventually gave the nod to the man from Illinois, it indicates that they believe he won’t upset their apple cart and may strengthen it.

Anyhow, here’s how Zizek addresses these points and more:

Days before the election, Noam Chomsky told progressives that they should vote for Obama, but without illusions. I fully share Chomsky’s doubts about the real consequences of Obama’s victory: From a pragmatic-realistic perspective, it is quite possible that Obama will just do some minor face-lifting improvements, turning out to be “Bush with a human face.” He will pursue the same basic politics in a more attractive mode and thus effectively even strengthen U.S. hegemony, which has been severely damaged by the catastrophe of the Bush years.

There is nonetheless something deeply wrong with this reaction — a key dimension is missing in it. It is because of this dimension that Obama’s victory is not just another shift in the eternal parliamentary struggles for majority with all their pragmatic calculations and manipulations. It is a sign of something more. This is why a good, American friend of mine, a hardened Leftist with no illusions, cried for hours when the news came of Obama’s victory. Whatever our doubts, fears and compromises, in that moment of enthusiasm, each of us was free and participating in the universal freedom of humanity.

What kind of sign am I talking about? In his last published book The Contest of Faculties (1798), the great German Idealist philosopher Immanuel Kant addressed a simple but difficult question: Is there true progress in history? (He meant ethical progress in freedom, not just material development.) He conceded that actual history is confused and allows for no clear proof: Think how the 20th century brought unprecedented democracy and welfare, but also the Holocaust and gulag…

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