Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

GT for November 17 – 23

Posted by Trey Smith on November 15, 2008

Greener Times for the Week of November 17 – 23

Volume 3 No. 31

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

In This Week’s Issue
* Green Party Racks up Election Day 2008 Victories
* Public Memorial Planned for Peter Camejo
* Malik Rahim Honored for Commitment to Humanity
* Thoughts By the Way: What is Money?
* Our Climate Crisis: Prosperity Is the Problem
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Lieberman Should Take his Joe-mentum & Joe-home
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: My New Word for the Next 4 – 8 Years
* News You May Have Missed

Green Party Racks up Election Day 2008 Victories
The Green Party’s 2008 candidates for the US House doubled the number of votes they received collectively from the number received in 2006, while over one million US voters voted for at least one Green candidate in the 2008 election.

The total number of votes for Green US House candidates (568,791 so far; compared to 252,550 in 2006) will rise further after the December 6 postponed election in New Orleans, Louisiana, where Green candidate Malik Rahim is running in District 2 for a seat currently held by William Jefferson, who is under federal indictment. The Green Party is still awaiting final vote counts in some races around the US.

A new record was set for a Green candidate running for the US House, when Deb McFarland finished second in an Arkansas District 2 race with 64,622 votes or 23.33%. Rebekah Kennedy apparently set a new percentage record for a Green running for the US Senate, with 202,016 votes or 20.59% (results not official) in her Arkansas race. Along with Richard Carroll’s state legislature victory (see below), Arkansas Greens showed the most dramatic electoral growth of any state Green Party.

The Illinois Green Party ran 54 candidates, the most of any state Green Party in 2008. 2008 is the first year in which the West Virginia Mountain Party competed in elections as an affiliate of the Green Party of the United States, with Jesse Johnson’s run for Governor.

Mr. Johnson’s 4.5% is the highest percentage for an alternative party candidate for Governor of West Virginia since 1912, when the Socialist Party polled 5.6%.

Green Party leaders thanked and congratulated all 245 Green candidates who ran for public office in the November 4 general election, including the party’s presidential ticket, Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente.

Some significant Green victories on Election Day, November 4, 2008:

Richard Carroll was elected to the Arkansas State Legislature, representing District 39.

Bruce Delgado was elected Mayor of Marina City, Monterey County, California (pop. 25,000). Mr. Delgado joins California Green mayors Gayle McLaughlin of Richmond and Craig Litwin of Sebastopol. The Green Party of California announced at least five victories statewide in 2008.

Ross Mirkarimi was reelected to his District 5 seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in California, with 77% of the vote. This is the seat that was occupied in 1978 by Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California.

Art Goodtimes was reelected to his San Miguel County Commissioner seat in Colorado (District 3).

Cara Jennings was reelected as Lake Worth Commissioner, Palm Beach, Florida.

James Nicita was elected Oregon City Commissioner (Position 3) in Clackamas County, Oregon

Michael Beilstein was reelected to the Corvallis City Council (Ward 5) in Oregon.

The District of Columbia had the greatest number of Green victories on November 4, with seven DC Statehood Green Party candidates elected to Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats:
Philip Blair, Jr, Single Member District 5A10
Dave Bosserman (incumbent), SMD 1D05
Chris Otten, SMD 1C02
Nancy Shia (incumbent), SMD 1C06
Carolyn Steptoe, SMD 5A07
Rick Tingling-Clemmons (incumbent), SMD 7D05
Bryan Weaver (incumbent), SMD 1C03

Public Memorial Planned for Peter Camejo
A public memorial celebrating the life of former gubernatorial, presidential and vice-presidential candidate Peter Camejo will be held SUNDAY, Nov. 23, at 2 p.m. at the International House on the University of California at Berkeley campus (2299 Piedmont Ave), according to an announcement by family and friends.

Mr. Camejo died Sept. 13 at home in Folsom, CA after a lengthy fight with cancer.

Speakers at the Public Memorial at UCB which, ironically, expelled Mr. Camejo for his activities as a student opposing the war in Vietnam in the 60’s will include those who worked with him as a student leader during that era.

Other speakers include those Mr. Camejo worked with as a leader in the socially responsible investment industry; as the Green Party gubernatorial candidate in the 2003 Recall Election, and Green party gubernatorial runs in 2002 and 2006; as Ralph Nader’s vice-presidential candidate in 2004; and as an environmentalist and a civil rights activist. He also ran for President with the Socialist Workers Party.

Ralph Nader who will speak at the Memorial has remembered Mr. Camejo as “a civil rights leader, socially responsible investment pioneer, and magnanimo caballero’ for third party politics in the U.S.” He said Mr. Camejo “used his eloquence, sharp wit, and barnstorming bravado to blaze a trail for 21st century third party politics in the US.”

Organizers said that “Everyone who has met Peter, talked with Peter, worked with Peter, argued with Peter, or heard of him are invited to join friends and family in celebrating his life.”

Malik Rahim Honored for Commitment to Humanity
Thomas Merton, philosopher and noteworthy catholic author and theologian once said, “We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.” Even though he died 40 years before Friday night’s award ceremony, honoring Malik Rahim for his work; one might have imagined that Thomas Merton said those words with Malik in mind.

Malik Rahim is the Green Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Louisiana’s District 2.

Miles Dinnen, spokesperson for the Thomas Merton center explained the choice that they made this year when selecting their honoree: “This year, we honor longtime housing and prison activist Malik Rahim. Malik gained publicity as a community organizer in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when he stayed in New Orleans to assist the community and co-founded the Common Ground Collective.”

Since then, Malik has been speaking out about racism and the failures of government exposed by the Katrina disaster.

Dinnen continues, “We honor a man who took fifty dollars and with the help of three friends worked for social justice at a time of great crisis. We find his work so valuable, and the fact that he could do this work in the wake of Hurricane Katrina really caught our attention.”

Rahim took time from his U.S. Congressional campaign to travel to Pittsburg to receive this award. With only weeks left before the special election which has been rescheduled because of Gustav, another hurricane that has challenged New Orleans and proven the flexibility of her residents.

“My campaign for Congress is about promise for the future,” said Rahim. “This award was about the past we are building on: the past that has set us on a course for this future. I had to go, I needed to go and accept this award on behalf of the 20,000 volunteers who made Common Ground Relief happen.”

“I am against war, against violence, against violent revolution, for peaceful settlement of differences, for nonviolent but nevertheless radical changes. Change is needed, and violence will not really change anything: at most it will only transfer power from one set of bull-headed authorities to another.” — Thomas Merton

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

The original accumulator was the pack rat. Unable, or unwilling, to trade, it remained a pack rat. Wampum was a big improvement as it enabled trade, and of itself was not attractive enough to set off binges of accumulation. Or the Indians were too wise. Gold and gems appealed to greed to an inordinate degree, even to adorning worship, and very soon lead to banking which was lending. Lending was accelerated by paper proxies for gold which allowed a little gold to do a lot of lending, but not too much, tut, tut. But tut tutting became passè and allowed banking to depart from gold which was great for banking as paper was lighter so allowing more to be lugged off by borrowers.

Pretty soon the only thing a pack rat needed to lug was signatures. Lots and lots of signatures. Signed baseballs these modern “instruments” were not. They were something new. The “natural” progression away from specie (precious metal) in order to amplify lending had culminated in a “money” whose primary function was to skim trade and whose secondary function was to enable trade. By the 1980s, the last major tut tut was repealed and, during the next twenty years, investment instruments were created that evaded scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission. These enabled trading within the financial sector, that is in the skimmed cream, to exceed trading of goods and services. The public thought the currency was still ordinary 1776 money.

If the foregoing seems to explain some of the vulnerability of today’s monetary structure then that’s a nice accident because to have trillions of skim trading on mere billions of goods trading defies rational explanation. No, I did not aim to explain, I merely wanted to scare you as badly as possible. I hope it is scary to suddenly realize that inflation of the dollar in your hand is a minor risk compared to evaporation of your life savings in a financial machine run wild. On that thought, I stumble blindly on.

News releases in the period following Viet Nam increasingly contained lurid accounts of large sums of money misapprehended, forgiven, and repaid by the public. Towering sums were forming, shifting, and disappearing like cumulus on a fine spring day. Beyond the (always neglected) matter of responsibility, there forms a question: when a bank account evaporates, where does that money go? Are we not supposed to ask? Or put it this way, when a billion dollars disappears, is it gone, or was it never there? Then there is the everlasting question, how could it be that not too long ago farmers destroyed their crops and livestock while people starved? Spare us the technical explanation, instead answer a question: is it true that our savings are scrip in a crooked game of Monopoly? No answer? Here then:

Money is a stomach acid that digests the products of labor to nurture the body of finance.

It is put to you, menwomen, that the stupefying sums owed to China, lost in Iraq, et cetera, need to be understood in terms of the true nature of what is called money.

One way to get a sweat-slippery handle on money is to study its opposite. We’ll take Fourth Corner Exchange, a community trading organization, and its Life Dollars. It works this way. Via listings of offers and needs, two members make a trade for something in return for an amount of Life Dollars. The trade is recorded in the outfit’s computer and that amount of Life Dollars is thereby created. The buyer maybe had no Life Dollars, or already had minus Life Dollars, yet hiserher negative account will never owe interest. So you see that the amount of currency in circulation is a measure of the amount of vigor in the community of members. I am told that in this and other community trading schemes the members derive great satisfaction and security from this sort of reliance between members. In contrast to community trading currency, the currency called money has engendered war and suffering beyond comprehension. It continues to deliver its poison through every vein and artery of civilization.

PS: A fuller report on 4th X will appear on this website later.

Our Climate Crisis: Prosperity Is the Problem
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.

What if you faced this choice: either lose 80% of your income or risk death for you, your children and your grandchildren?

You do.

Our pre-eminent climate scientist, Jim Hansen, warns of a climate ‘cataclysm’ if we do not make ‘transformative change’ in one year.

Americans continue to consume almost five times more natural resources than what is sustainable. Five times the built-up land, fishing ground, forest, grazing land, cropland and the land/sea/air to absorb our carbon emissions. Absorbing carbon emissions makes up 2/3 of American resource use, and is the single largest burden we humans make on the Earth’s resources.

The 2008 World Wildlife Federation study also shows America, per person, consumes almost five times more of our finite resources than China…9.5 times more than India. At the current rate of global consumption, we will need a second planet by 2030.

The U.N. confirms the main drivers of our Climate Crisis are population growth and wealth. If you cannot afford to fly, to drive, to live in a large house, to take far-flung vacations, to eat meat, your carbon footprint is much, much smaller – 80% smaller or less.

The U.S. has long dwarfed all others in climate and other pollution. We fused a large population with staggering material wealth. Now, China and the U.S. each consume 21% of the world’s resources. China links a huge population with small per capita consumption.

The average Chinese person lives on 80% less than we do. Which is also the threshold to sustainability.

Can you live on 80% less? Can we all live, if you don’t?

Un-Spinning the Spin: Lieberman Should Take his Joe-mentum & Joe-home
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

Two days after the election, I received a broadcast email from the President of the local Democratic Club who considers himself a progressive Democrat.

It started out, “Are you as sick and tired of Joe Lieberman as I am? Were you hoping that one of the outcomes of this election was to get enough seats in the Senate to be able to tell Lieberman to take his Joementum and stick it where the sun don’t shine? Well, now’s your chance!”

There was also a link to the Huffington Post (11/6/08) where it was reported Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid had met with Lieberman and had asked him to step down from his post as chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC). A link was also provided for those on the email list to sign a petition being sent to the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee telling them “No more Joe.”

With many Democrats feeling Lieberman had crossed the line by openly endorsing and campaigning for McCain, even speaking at the Republican National Committee, the Huffington Post (11/10/08) concludes:

“If Lieberman were to continue caucusing with the Democrats without being punished for his campaign conduct — Democrats say he broke a promise not to campaign negatively against Obama — the progressive community will undoubtedly be up in arms.”

However, four days after receiving the above-mentioned email, the 11/10/08 issue of the Huffington Post was now reporting that Obama wants Lieberman to remain in the Democratic caucus, in effect “tying the hands” of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to remove Lieberman as chair of the HSGAC (Lieberman is also on the Armed Services committee and the Environment and Public Works committee).

THE SPIN
This same issue of the Huffington Post also provides the spin:
“Fellow Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, who has spoken out in favor of Lieberman remaining in the party, explained as much to reporters on Friday:
“What does Barack Obama want?… He’s talked about reconciliation, healing, bringing people together. I don’t think he’d necessarily want to spend the first month of this president-elect period, this transition period, talking about a Senate seat, particularly if someone is willing to come forward and is willing to be a member of your family in the caucus in that sense.”

THE UN-SPIN
Putting aside the “spirit of reconciliation” for a moment, the fact is the Democrats do not need Lieberman. The Democrats already have a majority in the Senate. In addition, Obama has the opportunity to appoint Republicans to cabinet posts. If he chose moderate Republicans in states with Democratic governors, such as Arlen Spector (Pennsylvania) or Olympia Snowe (Maine), the governor could appoint Democrats to their vacated seats.

So why has Obama made the decision to go against the “left wing” of the Democratic Party? At the very least, he could have stayed neutral on this issue. Is he just being magnanimous in spirit or are there political reasons?

To begin with, there is a close relationship between Obama and Lieberman. Obama chose Lieberman to be his mentor upon arriving in the Senate, a custom among incoming, newly elected senators. Obama also campaigned for Lieberman in Connecticut when Lieberman was running against progressive Ned Lamont. Lamont won the Democratic primary causing Lieberman to run as an Independent in the general election. Lieberman eventually won the election and was able to reclaim his senate seat.

However, despite Lieberman’s open endorsement of McCain, Obama, for his own reasons, wants Lieberman as an ally. Many pundits also make the argument that Lieberman was simply “getting back” at the Democrats for what happened during the Democratic primary in Connecticut and was not a personal action against Obama. This helps to explain why Lieberman’s support of McCain would not be seen by Obama as a reason to end their friendship.

Since Lieberman has threatened to split from the Democrats if he is stripped of his chair of the powerful Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, this chair is obviously extremely important to Lieberman. As an example of the importance of this committee, the much publicized “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007” (S.1959) sits awaiting committee action.

In addition, this pressure by Obama to maintain the status quo regarding Lieberman, in conjunction with his appointment of pro-AIPAC, pro-corporate America, DLC guru Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff, gives a strong indication of Obama’s position on the Middle East and is too coincidental to ignore.

To summarize, keep an eye on passage of S.1959 out of the HSGAC committee and continuation of the same US foreign policy in the Middle East with dire consequences for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As an aside, to date, I have received no follow-up email from the President of the Democratic Club in reaction to Obama’s support of Lieberman. Will the Left “be up in arms” as predicted by the Huffington Post or will it be more along the lines of Mickey Z’s prediction as stated in his article, “Will President Obama Feel the Pressure?”

The only pressure that will be consistently exerted by those on the Left will be the pressure of their soft butts on their couch cushions as they sit back to smugly watch Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher.

Supplemental reading:

1. Dave Lindorff’s article, “Obama’s First Big Mistake on the Job: Rescuing Sen. Joe Lieberman”.
2. GovTrack: S.1959: Text of Legislation, Introduced in Senate.

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 17, 1973: President Nixon told an Associated Press managing editors meeting at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, that “people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.”

November 21, 1986: National Security Council member Oliver North and his secretary, Fawn Hall, began shredding documents that would have exposed their participation in a range of illegal activities regarding the sale of arms to Iran in an attempt to free hostages, and the diversion of the proceeds to an insurgent Nicaraguan group known as the contras.

November 22, 1998: 7,000 marched on the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, outside Columbus, Georgia. They were protesting the school’s training of Latin American soldiers and other security personnel who return to their countries and are involved in violence and oppression of their populations. 2,319 people were arrested for trespassing. Protests at the School of the Americas, organized by SOA Watch, occur every November. The school is now known by the U.S. Army as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

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: My New Word for the Next 4 – 8 Years
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.

Just like when Bill Clinton was elected to unseat a Bush, one would think that Barack Obama was a rock star, not the President-Elect. The media is stumbling all over itself to bring us the next Kennedy-inspired Camelot. Everybody’s buzzing about which school the newly-christened first family will choose for their girls and what kind of a dog will adopt the mantle, first bowser. One would almost think a Messiah was moving to the Oval Office, not a 46 year old Senator from Illinois.

As Sam Smith illustrated in last week’s GT, there are a lot of things about the soon-to-be president that should make every green, progressive or liberal very nervous. Far from being the socialist that the McCain-Palin campaign made him out to be, Obama is a centrist and, these days, a centrist tilts more to the right than the left. So, while many in the Democratic Party are envisioning a Kennedy-like administration, chances are far more likely that we will get McCain-lite.

Try to point out the many chinks in Barack’s armor and almost the entire progressive community — veteran politicos and average folk alike — will descend on you like a pack of wolves aiming for a fresh venison dinner! If you think it’s bad now, consider how much worse it will be when he actually takes office.

So, I’m girding myself for the new age of Obamapology. Each time our new president does something that no bona fide progressive would approve of — like starting a new war in Pakistan or re-engaging Afghanistan or turning the federal mint over to the insurance industry — the Obamapologists will swing into action to inform us that President Barack had no other choice and how much worse it would have been under President John. The Obamapologists will urge us to turn a blind eye because the grand O is really about hope and change.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barack Obama spawns a slew of new words. Anyone want to play the brand new board game, Obamonoply?

News You May Have Missed

The Price of Being Green
Judging from the polls, it would seem that the high price of gasoline is the most visible – and some would say urgent – energy issue facing Washington in the coming year. With pump prices at the top of voters’ concerns, the new administration could face extraordinary pressure to respond. But fuel prices are only one side of the energy equation…

PETA Suggests Higher Insurance Rates For Meat Eaters
Due to studies suggesting vegetarians have stronger immune systems and are 40% less likely to get cancer, as well as recent outbreaks of E.coli traced to a Vermont slaughterhouse, PETA is urging Blue Cross of Vermont to lower insurance rates for vegetarians, while increasing those for meat eaters…

A Bittersweet Night
While the American family and our extended international family were whooping it up for the historic Obama victory, I banged pans and wept for joy with the best of them. But I also had that dissociated, not-quite-part-of feeling I had at family gatherings when I was young. Actually, I have never felt gayer…It was a landside and it crushed us, as California, Arizona, Florida and Arkansas passed anti-gay ballot initiatives…

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