Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

GT for December 1 – 7

Posted by Trey Smith on December 3, 2008

Greener Times for the Week of December 1 – 7

Volume 3 No. 33

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

In This Week’s Issue
* Community Organizer VS Corrupt Politician
* The Current Situation in New Orleans
* Thoughts By the Way: Movie Theater
* Our Climate Crisis: We Are Not Americans
* Un-Spinning the Spin: President-Elect Obama and His Gobbledygook
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: Taking This Week Off
* News You May Have Missed

Community Organizer VS Corrupt Politician
by Bruce Dixon, Managing Editor of the Black Agenda Report

The congressional election in Louisiana’s 2nd district was delayed to due Hurricane Gustav, and will take place on December 6, 2008. What was once an overwhelmingly black district containing most of New Orleans and a sliver of neighboring Jefferson Parish is probably still majority black, but with a much thinner margin.

The Republican is a Vietnamese American who almost never mentions his party affiliation when campaigning inside New Orleans. The Democrat is disgraced nine-term incumbent William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson, under indictment for bribery after the FBI discovered $90,000 stashed in the plastic containers of his home freezer. The Green Party candidate is longtime community organizer Malik Rahim, a co-founder of Common Ground Relief Network, a grassroots organization brought together in the wake of Katrina to open medical clinics, distribute flood relief supplies and repair and rebuild homes damaged by the flood. With a projected low turnout, it’s shaping up as a three way race that could go in a surprising direction. “We are shooting for 30,000 votes here,” a Rahim campaign spokesperson told BAR, “and we think we can win.”

Hurricane Katrina along with the series of man-made disasters ethnic cleansing and wholesale privatizations of the city’s school and health care systems in its wake have changed the face of New Orleans, and determine the fault lines for its politics even today. Accordingly, their responses to the Katrina disaster provide us with a useful and telling contrast between Rep. Dollar Bill Jefferson and Malik Rahim.

On the second day after the levees broke, hundreds of starving, dehydrated New Orleans residents (and some tourists) attempted to walk out of their drowned city toward the lights of neighboring Gretna. Their paths were blocked by lines of local law enforcement officers who menaced them with shotgun fire, cursed them, buzzed them with helicopters and drove them back into New Orleans. If ever there was a time when the relative wealth, the connections, the prestige and authority of a congressman might have done his constituents some good, this was it. But Dollar Bill Jefferson was not that kind of congressman.

Malik Rahim lived in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, one of the few places that wasn’t flooded, and where water supplies were not compromised. Ignoring orders to evacuate, Rahim was one of many local residents who remained in New Orleans to save lives and assist his neighbors, since the authorities would not. He helped other families evacuate, tried to get white vigilantes to stop shooting random black people and began organizing shelter and assistance to the victims of the flood.

While thousands of his constituents were swimming for their lives, trapped in attics, on rooftops and expressway overpasses, or penned up in the Louisiana Superdome, congressman Jefferson commandeered six Louisiana National Guard MPs and a five ton truck to drive to his home in the flood zone and linger there for an hour or more while he removed personal belongings including a laptop computer, suitcases and several boxes.

Read the rest of the article

The Current Situation in New Orleans
from Joe Szwaga (206-523-3656) of the Green Party of Seattle

When: Tuesday. December 9, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Where: Benham Art Gallery, 1216 First Ave (near the Seattle Art Museum)

* Hear Malik Rahim, Resident of New Orleans and Co-Founder of Common Ground New Orleans
* See Photos of New Orleans Taken by Seattle Photographer Matthew Smith
* Share refreshments
* Proceeds Benefit Nova High School’ Social Justice Trip to New Orleans this Spring and Common Ground’s rebuilding efforts Donations Gratefully Accepted

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

Motion pictures evolved from the nickelodeon to side shows for vaudeville, at which stage the screen images became more popular than the live acts and “movies” had arrived. It was the early twenties. Screen images’ instant and lasting popularity lay in their avenue for escape, and throughout the twenties, even the thirties, creative exhibitors and architects enhanced that avenue with outlandish, imaginative, and sometimes beautiful, motion picture palaces. The escape began right there at the box office under that grand marquee, and was maintained in spectacular lobbies that “kept patron’s minds off the fact that they were waiting”. And in the auditorium, ah, the auditorium, mere existence made its final exit. At their height, some of them had “atmospheric” ceilings of blue plaster, white clouds, and pin-point “star” lights. The end came with television and flight to the suburbs. Today’s multiplex theaters are group television, plain to see in the random straggling out of patrons from six or more screening rooms.

The stragglers are not inclined to stop and compare reactions with each other both because there’s six topics and because that is simply not done. Now carry that thought more or less intact over to the fall of 2008 at which time there are six very real stories being played out in six theaters around the globe:

Pakistan has had quite enough of the US pipeline occupation cum takeover of its government cum fake hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

Gaza is being starved to death with the US pointedly looking the other way.

Mexicans are being batted back and forth like ping pong birds across the border by corporate edict aka NAFTA and Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

China is growing like Arch Oboler’s 1950 science fiction “undulating chicken heart”, yet we continue to feed it.

Wealthy individuals in the financial sector are taking well-padded escape chutes from the collapsing system of “instrument” trading with brazen disregard for the savings of workers.

The Bush administration has put in place basic building blocks of a police state that Obama will not be able to eradicate, even should he wish to.

The Middle East is standing on one leg, Iran, and will collapse into chaos, sooner, if we stay or later, if we leave. The oil, you see, is there.

The count can stop at six but, as most of you know, six is only the beginning of the number of stories begun under the aegis of war on terror. Let me try to regain the thread here. Many, if not most, Americans are forced to live with knowledge of those deadly stories even as they celebrate Obama’s victory in the ballot. This is like watching all six screens of the multiplex at once.

A person might well skip Christmas and all that goes down with it; what if some smart kid on Santa’s lap asks, “Santa, isn’t the Holy Land the exact same place where soldiers are killing people?” I wonder, can a person yell STOP! in a crowded multiplex?

PS: The misquoted description of motion picture palaces is from David Naylor’s “Great American Movie Theaters”, Preservation Press, 1987

Our Climate Crisis: We Are Not Americans
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.

The Bush Bailout and the Obama Stimulus will not work, because…

We are not Americans. We are Earthlings. Like All Creatures, we are Citizens of Our One Earth.

Bush and Obama plan to flood the American economy with money to keep alive the exact thing that must collapse and be radically restructured for us to survive – the capitalist, consumer-driven American economy.

This American economy funnels obscene profits to a few. And it delivers rapacious per capita resource consumption almost five times greater than what is sustainable. Five times. This is a critical number to absorb. Pain will attend the transition to sustainability. If you’re making $40 per hour now, then what is sustainable for you may be $8 per hour.

This income drop can be done. It can achieve a new kind of personal prosperity…a sustainable prosperity. While we channel the profiteers’ excess funds to our common good via carbon & wealth taxes.

If the capitalist/consumer American economic model continues to prevail, by 2030 we Earthlings will need a second planet to survive. That’s if sudden Climate Collapse does not intervene before then.

The Bush Bailout and the Obama Stimulus plan fight against this basic lesson of our Climate Crisis: We are ONE! We survive together, or we perish together.

When you fire up your car and ignite another episode of planet-ruining pollution, you are robbing me, my kids and my grandkids of our future. Already, countless species are vanishing from Our Earth 10,000 times faster than normal because of human activity…human activity based on the American economic model.

Will we follow them and suffer a mass die-off at our own hands?

Let’s work together for a Sustainable Earth Economy. This new economy will embrace what may seem like a contradiction: emergency mobilization plus an 80% reduction in American material wealth. Some of its key features: (1) Ban or severely curtail human activity emitting non-sustainable amounts of greenhouse gases; (2) Mandate safe and publicly-owned renewable energy and food production; (3) 10-year hiatus on new housing; (4) Vastly increase public transport; (5) Preserve natural carbon sinks like global oceans, soils, grasslands and forests; (6) Protect and restore the rights of Indigenous and Local People; (7) Wealth transfer to Global South.

More details of the Sustainable Earth Economy to come.

Un-Spinning the Spin: President-Elect Obama and His Gobbledygook
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

As I sat down to write for this issue of Greener Times, the word “gobbledygook” kept going through my head. Not surprising with all this talk about turkeys this past week, but also because of this gnawing in the back of my mind about what really bothers me about Barack Obama. He says a lot and yet he says nothing.

Looking up “gobbledygook” on the Internet, the word was first used in 1944 by US Rep. Maury Maverick. In a Smaller War Plans Corporation (SWPC) memo, he banned “gobbledygook language” in reaction to the “convoluted language of the bureaucrats1.”

Wikipedia gives an example of gobbledygook with an H.R. Haldeman statement from the Nixon tapes: “To the ordinary guy, all this is a bunch of gobbledygook. But out of the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing: you can’t trust the government, you can’t believe what they say; and you can’t rely on their judgment.”

Merge gobbledygook with a touch of Orwellian “doublespeak” and a splash of plain, old-fashioned propaganda and persuasion techniques and you have Obama-power.

He is a master of telling people what they want to hear, but nothing of his inner self. The apostle Timothy writes about false messiahs, saying the people would turn to them “to have their ears tickled.” Who better “tickles the ear” then Obama? I can just see the marketing technocrats around him using every means possible to find out what people want, what their concerns are, what higher principles they yearn for, and incorporate the data into Obama’s next speech. Bottom line, Obama is a “smooth talker.”

Obama promises “change” yet brings into his administration the economic hit men who John Perkins describes in his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and the Chicago Boys who Naomi Klein writes about in her book Shock Doctrine. How does Obama explain why no liberal, no true progressive, no Keynesian economists are appointed in these key positions?

Ah, yes. He explains that HE is in change and that his team will implement his vision. In last Sunday’s Seattle Times, Obama defends his team of insiders at his third news conference by saying, “I suspect that you would be troubled, and the American people would be troubled, if I selected a treasury secretary or a chairman of the National Economic Council, at one of the most critical economic times in our history, who had no experience in government whatsoever. We are going to combine experience with fresh thinking.”

What! Would you be troubled, would I be troubled? ! I don’t think so. Are we to conclude that Keynesian economists would not have the necessary knowledge and experience because they were “outside of government?” Obama’s economic team has experience all right — experience in how to put us in exactly the economic mess we find ourselves, as they were the ones who caused it! Fresh thinking? Where and by whom?

Do you remember all the pre-election spin on how if you voted for McCain you would be voting for a Bush third term? Is it ironic or did they use that “spin” on purpose, knowing full well they were going to bring back a Clinton third term. The truth with a twist, as they say.

During a recent interview, when questioned about why Obama is bringing in so many from the Clinton administration, James Carville had the audacity to ask, “What’s wrong with a return to the peace and prosperity of the Clinton years?” Peace and prosperity? What about the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children from the sanctions the US imposed on Iraq during Clinton’s terms of office, the deregulation of the banking system, the monopolization of the telecommunications system, NAFTA and the outsourcing of jobs through free market fundamentalism, the collapse of progressive politics, the laying of the groundwork for “executive privilege” which George W. Bush would take further? Is this the “peace and prosperity” Carville means?

I have lost hope and we are in trouble. The left has been “suckered” into the biggest scam in political history and they do not even know it. The Trojan horse is in our midst and I am afraid it is too late.

Laocoon, follow’d by a num’rous crowd,
Ran from the fort, and cried, from far, aloud:
‘O wretched countrymen! What fury reigns?
What more than madness has possess’d your brains?
Think you the Grecians from your coasts are gone?
And are Ulysses’ arts no better known?
This hollow fabric either must inclose,
Within its blind recess, our secret foes;
Or ‘t is an engine rais’d above the town,
T’ o’erlook the walls, and then to batter down.
Somewhat is sure design’ d, by fraud or force:
Trust not their presents, nor admit the horse.’
~From Virgil’s Aeneid~

1. Who You Callin’ a Maverick? New York Times, October 8, 2008. Note: the SWPC was established in June 1942 to “promote effective utilization of small businesses producing war material and essential civilian supplies” and was abolished in January 28, 1946.

Supplemental Reading: Predator State by James Galbraith; Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins; Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

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.

December 1, 1955: Rosa Parks, a black seamstress active in the local NAACP, was arrested by police in Montgomery, Alabama, after refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. Mrs. Parks faced a fine for breaking the segregation laws which said blacks had to vacate their seats if there were white passengers left standing. The same bus driver had thrown her off his bus twelve years prior for refusing to enter through the rear door.

December 3, 1984: In the early morning hours, one of the worst industrial disasters in history began when American-owned Union Carbide’s pesticide plant located near the densely populated city of Bhopal in central India leaked a highly toxic cloud of methyl isocyanate into the air. Estimates of the fatalities vary widely, but of the approximately one million people living in Bhopal at the time, 2,000 were killed immediately, at least another 8,000 within a short time, and hundreds of thousands were injured, many still suffering today. The U.S. blocked extradition of Union Carbide officials facing criminal prosecution in India. Union Carbide has since been purchased by Dow Chemical which continues to refuse responsibility for the incident or its victims, and has yet to clean up the site.

December 5, 1967: 264 were arrested at a military induction center in New York City during a Stop the Draft Week Committee action. Dr. Benjamin Spock and poet Allen Ginsberg were among those arrested for blocking (though symbolically) the steps at 39 Whitehall Street where the draft board met. 2500 had shown up at 5:00 in the morning to show their opposition to the draft and the Vietnam War.

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: Taking this Week Off
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.

Tom, Duff & Maryrose each have great columns this week — They always do! I’m giving my well-worn GT pen a rest this week — I’ve been writing a lot on my blog, though.

News You May Have Missed

Bicycles or Wildlife?
For years, the clash over widening the Burke-Gilman Trail through this town that abuts northeast Seattle has seemed mostly a matter of trailside neighbors duking it out with bicyclists, with much of the back-and-forth over who should have to stop for whom where the trail crosses driveways. Now, with a crucial hearing on the proposal expected early next year, two wildlife biologists are trying to draw attention to environmental questions they say have gotten short shrift…

Global Carbon Dioxide Hit Record Levels in 2007
Climate-heating greenhouse gases continue to increase in the atmosphere, and last year, global concentrations of carbon dioxide again reached the highest levels ever recorded, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the World Meteorological Organization…

Obama Crushes Hopes of Progressives with Rubinesque Economic Team
Barack Obama decided to please Wall Street instead of deliver on his promise of change. He could have picked someone like Joseph Stiglitz to head the Treasury and the National Economic Council. Both have been critics of corporate globalization. Both are strong proponents of reregulating financial institutions and reflating the economy. Instead, Obama crushed the hopes of progressives by choosing Lawrence Summers to head the council and Timothy Geithner to be Treasury Secretary. Both are experienced at ramming free market policies down the throats of other nations. Both were disciples of Robert Rubin when he began to deregulate the financial industry as Clinton’s Treasury Secretary in the late 1990s…

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