Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

GT for December 22 – 28

Posted by Trey Smith on December 21, 2008

Greener Times for the Week of December 15 – 21

Volume 3 No. 36

an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere

Trey Smith – Publisher/Editor
Tom Herring, Duff Badgley & Maryrose Asher – Columnists

In This Week’s Issue
* Dissolve the U.S.: an Option for Proactive Change before Collapse
* Why President Elect Barack Obama is not the first Hip Hop President
* Thoughts By the Way: Three Seconds
* Our Climate Crisis: Obama Moves to Ruin Earth
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Time to Re-Think the “Protest Industry”, Conclusion
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: So-Called Junk Science
* News You May Have Missed

Dissolve the U.S.: an Option for Proactive Change before Collapse
by Jan Lundberg of Culture Change

Housing starts in the U.S. are down 47% as of 13 months ago. Prices of commodities, not just oil, are falling because of job losses unseen since 1947. Oil is still very costly when subsidies are included. The prior recoveries from recessions were from bubbles: dot com and housing speculation — when oil extraction was still rising. Now peak money has come and gone. Climate disasters have barely begun. So to deny we’re slipping on a downward slope is getting harder, and more of us are wondering about the uncertain outcome.

Another bubble is highly unlikely, so we’re having to face the music. With nothing to reverse the trends, and with mounting effects of ecological degradation and overpopulation, we see things are headed in a terrible direction. Still, people don’t want to explore collapse, or they place a comforting limit on what it means and what might happen. “No one knows” passes for wisdom and even action.

Whether we have been hit mainly by crippling energy costs as part of peak oil and petrocollapse, or clobbered more by Wall Street greed, the state of the global corporate economy is sick and maybe terminal. It’s reasonable to expect — or get caught up in — food riots on a broader scale than ever. Same for the fall of governments. Fortunately, there’s something we can do to avoid the worst of the fallout if we act proactively.

Meanwhile, we are looking at the near certainty that the depression — “the Final Depression” or “Grand Collapse” or “Darkness before the Dawn” — will intensify. And, since we have to consider there’s no longer “unlimited” cheap energy to rebuild the infrastructure for rail, it is time to (1) anticipate what can happen to the nation in the throes of petrocollapse and the bursting of peak money, and (2) steer our megaship away from the iceberg in hopes of a glancing blow and launching all possible bioregional lifeboats.

The real danger is in clinging to the status quo. For example, we should not try to build ever-more cars to run on deteriorating roads built with and for oil. To do so is to throw good money after bad, to reward or bail out fat cats taking the whole ship down as we sit by. Given the late hour for cheap energy and rebuilding, we have to think bicycles more than trains to be produced from car-dinosaur factories.

Even the most visionary, radical thinkers seem to saying little more than, “Look, there’s a big problem out there!” Yes, we see it. Some of us see more than others. But we need to see what’s next, while visualizing the positive future we need.

The positive future that we’d like is basic security, more love, connection to community and healthy nature, and liberation from foolish work. What would you like? How can we get there? First we have to look at where our problems are pushing us. Then we can see how any handles we have on inescapable trends may be seized upon for improved results. Otherwise, it will be just maximum chaos and a doubtful rebuilding from utter collapse.

Risking chaos without any attempt to restructure for improvement is the prevailing tendency. Reforming a system of waste, while refusing to slash greenhouse gases and stop unproductive work, offers no hope except for green opportunism. As the recent International Arctic Change conference warned, “The roof of our house is on fire while the leaders of our family sit comfortably in the living room below preoccupied with “political realities” — the message from 1,000 scientists from around the world along with northern indigenous leaders.

What’s a real plan today

Beware of sellouts who trick people into thinking their plan is doable and realistic: is it a fantasy in any way, ignoring peak oil’s full effects or climate-change devastation? Is their plan a ruse to keep up the hopeless attempt to reform the dominant system into some green entity it has only resisted and rejected?

The denial of reality is about as strong as the trend to recognize it, which means things are getting more intense as the natural world collides with civilization for what’s stacking up to be a final showdown.

We may soon see how correct I was when I claimed in 1992, in the quarterly journal Population and Environment, that the Russian people were better off in their imperial collapse than people of the U.S. will be because of petroleum dependence. With the common practice of one out of five Russians growing their own potatoes, unlike U.S. folk who only drive to the supermarket, survival from the short term to long term looked not so bad comparatively. But one reason there was no major die-off, as I predict in the U.S. and elsewhere, is that Russia was in an economic world still “growing.”

For more guidance from history, we can look to the work of Dmitry Orlov who decided to compare the Soviet Union’s collapse to what he saw starting to happen in the U.S. His “five stages of collapse” seem to have begun. I don’t believe he sees a good outcome from potential U.S. efforts to turn negatives into a positive future. Perhaps it is the dreamer in me that makes me an activist that says we can imagine, as John Lennon did in his song Imagine, that we can be “sharing all the world.”

“What?” you exclaim, “isn’t the U.S. needed as a world leader as times get even tougher!”? Well, the U.S. has been worse than a lumbering giant of idiocy where it matters: standing in the way of climate protection, guzzling oil, and creating terror around the world through militarism and “intelligence” operations. There has been no nation worse, although let us be fair by defending the United States as having many wonderful people and some incomparable scenery.

“What about defense against the evil doers?!” With collapse there will be little of today’s overblown “defense”, and little possibility of full scale oil-driven invasion of the former USA. Today the biggest oil consumer in the world is the U.S. Defense Fuel Supply Center. The future bioregional nations will have their own defense, but probably basic and not gold-plated, high-tech or dominated by corporate mercenaries. If one dreams that the U.S., as presently structured, will become a paragon of good sense — somehow thwarting the selfish kleptocracy that calls the shots — this is the height of naivete. So we must get on with proactively dismantling the U.S. before the tsunami of change hits — much like dispersing before a wave crashes. If all are tied together, all drown. If we separate into bioregional local economies, we might survive and even help each other across divides. Manufacturing and crafts have all but disappeared in the U.S., as other countries in Asia usually send us whatever we think we need. So our future will include recreating capabilities to make and repair things, but probably not frivolous toys that use energy.

SharonAstyk.com said on Dec. 15 “2009 will be the year we say that things ‘collapsed’…a la the Great Depression.” Is anticipating collapse the best we can do? What about an intelligent restructuring? The word for restructuring in Russian is famous around the world: perestroika. In 1990 I published in the Earth Island Journal my article “Ecostroika.” (Actually, Sharon Astyk has great ideas along such lines.)

Mikhail Gorbachev and then Boris Yeltsin presided over the dissolution of the USSR, but had to go with what was already happening: collapse was inevitable, but it did not pose the threat that today’s higher house of cards represents globally.

Because the U.S. government is incompetent and cannot be trusted to handle the engineering job of the millennium — mitigating petrocollapse, overpopulation, peak money, and climate collapse — as we saw post-Katrina, local communities need to formulate their own plans with President Obama’s encouragement. He can thus be a greater Gorbachev for posterity. But let us not delude ourselves to imagine he can start telling the citizenry that we must stop population growth and start reducing our numbers. He is, after all, central to the one-party system for haphazard economic growth: the Democrats-and-Republicans.

Culturally the U.S. population is hooked on technology that makes them passive. A recent poll published in the Portland Oregonian states that 70% of the nation’s residents’ “favorite way to relax is watching a holiday movie.” Personally I find movies to be one of the greatest justifications for civilization — the new artistic documentary Blind Spot, on peak oil, comes to mind. But without the convenient power and gadgets we’ve enjoyed and been slaves to, we’ll have to become much more convivial, in ways described by Ivan Illich: be more social and interactive.

Nuts and Bolts/Nitty Gritty of Dissolution

Responsibility for the nuclear waste, weapons, superfund sites, and brownfields must be taken seriously — whereas today the byword is growth, growth, growth (i.e., profits, profits, profits for the few). Where has growth gotten the average person? Lower real wages and more working hours. Honest assessments of our predicament can be more easily made if we recognize our false system of values. We need to flush down our propaganda and national delusions brought to us by television and gossip magazines. Or, just wait for some plum job so we can get back to consuming like the global hogs and zombies we have been.

Dissolving the United States consciously is an actual proposal for a workable future, more clear than the “relocalization” that dissolution would automatically cause. Most analysis and speculation about the effects of peak oil and climate chaos are exercises in hand-wringing and waiting around for a vaguely anticipated involuntary dissolution of the nation and global economy.

Much like a failed marriage is better dissolved earlier rather than later, dissolution of the U.S. empire (domestic especially) will minimize pain and chaos that can take over completely — as anyone knows who went through a tough divorce long after the love and respect went splitsville.

Vermont has had a serious, although tiny, secession movement. Great things have come from that state, I mean nation, and will continue. Whereas there once were Committees of Correspondence for the American Revolution, revisited by the Green Party in the 1990s, there needs to be Committees for Dissolution in every state and local community too.

The idea of dissolution is not in any way meant as disrespect to God-fearing, my-country-right-or-wrong, anti-abortion, pro-war ways of living in our unraveling society of haves and have nots. Indeed, diversity is healthy, and no doubt there will be after dissolution strongholds of homophobic, patriarchal, gun-loving bible-toting whites, just as there will be nations or tribes of feministic, pagan vegans. Or, to bypass the ridiculous stereotyping and labeling, people everywhere will be adopting local survival strategies to suit their surroundings.

There may be acorns in abundance here, wild rice there, seaweed here, rats there, permaculture gardens everywhere — connected not through fossil fuels and steel/asphalt infrastructure ‘a crumbling, but through sail boats, bicycles, horses, and other means. The important feature for future economics and trade will be local resources that are renewable. By definition, with the passing of the Petroleum Age underway already, we will not have long-distance trade through jets and trucks and rail as we know it.

Let us not be bested by the Russians: steer our collapse as proactively as possible, applying available petroleum energy and society’s still-intact services to cushion the fall of our petroleum civilization.

For example, create millions of Victory Gardens for local food production. Make community barter networks, and call neighbors together for Citizen Petroleum Councils and Transition Town programs. Bicycle and bike-trailer facilities. Depaving. Ecological restoration for clean water and fish habitat.

If done later by hand and animal power, when petroleum power may be down forever, little would be accomplished, as little energy will be available and applied to the above measures — such that the enormous rubble that falls will stay there and hinder the survivors who will lack means. If these measures were undertaken before the U.S. and the global economy falls flat, available energy will make the tasks to a large extent doable, and we could see a transition to Balkanization or Ecotopiazation.

Conclusion

Dissolution is our future, so let’s get started proactively. Raise the issue with someone you know and watch the tension rise — touching a nerve means you’re close to the truth.

Why President Elect Barack Obama is not the first Hip Hop President
by Rosa Clemente for the Green Institute

It has been 45 days since the Hip Hop generation helped usher in the first Black male President of the United States of America. Since that historic night, many within Hip Hop culture, like writer Greg Kot of the Boston Globe, entrepreneur Russell Simmons, artists Common, Jay-Z and P. Diddy, have declared President-Elect Obama the first Hip Hop president. In my humble opinion they are wrong, dead wrong. It does not matter how many Hip Hop pundits, non-profit organizations, and recognizable figures within the culture declare it. Much like an MC or B-Girl battle, I’m ready to challenge that declaration.

As a long time community organizer and Hip Hop activist and journalist, I have always followed a rule: never allow someone to become your priority while you become his or her option. For President Elect Barack Obama and the entire Democrat Party leadership in this country, the Hip Hop generation has never been a priority, we have always been an option and that option is used mostly to get out the vote during elections. Efforts like Vote or Die, Generation Vote, Rock the Vote, Respect my Vote, do not empower a generation – they are catchy slogans emblazoned on pretty white tees that offer empty rhetoric. At the end of the day, those G.O.T.V. efforts become guaranteed votes for the Democratic Party and often fail to educate their followers about candidates that run outside of the two-party system.

I believe that like many before him, President-Elect Barack Obama’s campaign used Hip Hop to create excitement amongst young people in this country, but we must clearly see through the $750 million bling-bling marketing haze of his campaign. The few times he was pressed on his association to Hip Hop, he spoke about offensive rap lyrics and Black men having respect for themselves by pulling up their pants. I do not recall one specific mention of the political victories and social consciousness brought out by millions in the culture. Just because you brush off your shoulders, fist bump the future First Lady, or play a mean game of street ball, that does not make you Hip Hop. What we have now is an Obama administration that came into power with the promise of change, but is remixing that promise by sampling from the Bill Clinton Presidency, including Hillary herself, and this new remix will do nothing to change the mass conditions of our people.

In Van Jones new book, The Green Collar Economy, Van says, “It is time to change from fighting against something to fighting for something.” For me that statement encapsulates why I chose to accept Cynthia’s McKinney’s invitation to be her running mate and why the Green Party made history by choosing us as the first women-of-color ticket in American Presidential politics. I accepted the call because I was no longer interested in fighting against the Democratic or Republican Party.

I want to fight for a Hip Hop political movement not dominated by white liberal politics or white foundation money. I want to fight for a Hip Hop political movement that is African-centered, respects women as leaders and believes in Universal Health Care. A Hip Hop movement that fights for amnesty for undocumented immigrants and an end to the prison industrial complex. We must all fight for a Hip Hop political movement that wants to be at peace with our global brothers and sisters, that will build a truly independent media apparatus and will stand up and mobilize against the increasing racial violence against Latino/a immigrants and demands a live-able wage. We need a Hip Hop movement that is not afraid to say that the Palestinian people should have the full right of return and that the Israeli Occupation of their homeland is illegal. I need Hip Hop to affirm the right of the Puerto Rican people and our island to be an independent nation and I need Hip Hop to help free all of our political prisoners and prisoners of war. We need Hip Hop to end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, to end the death penalty and we must create a Hip Hop political movement that empowers working class communities, fights for Green Jobs and will never deny L.G.B.T. brothers and sisters their God-given human rights. Finally I want Hip Hop to uplift and support its women, to accept women of color as capable much needed leaders, and to understand that as long as it continues to deny women their much fought place in the culture, Hip Hop will die.

So this is what I am fighting for. For me its not only about holding Obama, the House of Representatives, or the United States Senate accountable. Holding public officials accountable is important, but building a multi-racial social justice movement is a necessity for our very existence. Yes Hip Hop, President-Elect Barack Obama may be the first Black President, but he will not be the first Hip Hop President. Only we the people of Hip Hop can make that a reality.

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

Two agents of disaster will be upstaged by climate change in 2009, capitalism and the American Myth. That glibbity is the outcome of a day of depression following a report in the Guardian on climate change. When I got to the end of it the shield that gets my head through the day was gone, and for about three seconds I knew that I would live to see the end of our society.

The report comes from the Poznan Conference.

Climate science has matured to total agreement that with the recent finding of methane release there will come an ice-fall that will result in a sudden rise in the ocean. But capitalism, immune to human mortality, will not let science prevail: As we wait for the new year in the semi-coma of Christmas, new coal plants are planned here and in China. That is the showcase reason for this reported pessimism: none of the proposed carbon dioxide goals 400, 545, even 650 ppm can be met. In the words of one participant, setting a technically necessary goal that cannot be achieved will slow down, not help, progress. How’s that again? I’ll answer that this way: when the ice hits the ocean and stops the Gulf Stream, capitalism will revert to cannibalism.

The American Myth, may I be forgiven, as used here means our stupidity. Whereas national moral organizations like ANSWER and WIB and IVAW are outraged, local civic organizations are mute, and it is they, only they, which have the power to effect change. Not my unincorporated community, nor my county, nor my state, not one has bothered to take positions, let alone act, against capitalism’s agenda. You can list the exceptions if it makes you feel any better. This silence is the sole reason that America has been suckered, sold out, and “sent packing” to join the millions that will soon be roaming the earth for food and shelter.

(The Guardian article was posted to Stand Up Seattle by Marion Ward.)

Our Climate Crisis: Obama Moves to Ruin Earth
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.

It’s agonizing to see confirmed what we already anticipated: Obama is rushing to inflict massive ruin on our One Earth via biofuels.

Tom Vilsack of Iowa is Obama’s nominee as Agriculture Secretary. Vilsack is a big supporter of industrial corn ethanol production. Corn ethanol is widely regarded as being the ‘worst of the worst’ among biofuels for its eco-destruction.

Another ardent biofueler, Steven Chu, is Obama’s nominee for Energy Secretary. But Chu is a shill for BP…that’s right, British Petroleum, as in Biggest Oil.

Chu wants to dedicate 50 million acres to ‘cellulosic energy crops’ (ethanol) to burn in our gas tanks!

But, current science shows, cellulosic ethanol is worse even than corn ethanol. It will rob more land for its destructive fuel than the monster corn crop in Iowa and other mid-western states.

Vilsack, Chu and Obama live in defiance of this central eco-truth: We cannot grow our fuel.

Every square inch of Our Sacred Planet is already taken. Either for existing human use (farms and cities) or for natural ecosystems that provide what is left of natural biospheric regulation (forests, oceans, soil, atmosphere).

So, if we take a square inch of what is already occupied either for food production or natural regulation, we further violate Our Earth–already so badly abused by humans we have changed the basic chemistry of life. Carbon, the Basic Stuff of Life, is now a pollutant threatening that same Life.

Obama and cronies are mouthing the same lethal platitudes about so-called ‘2nd gen’ and ‘cellulosic’ biofuels as are John Plaza (Imperium CEO), Greg Nickels, Christine Gregoire, Al Gore and George Bush. Their intent is to distract attention from the current global truth: Biofuels are a planetary scourge massively worsening our Climate Crisis while they force millions and millions of humans into starvation.

Biofuelers intentionally suppress this fact: these ‘2nd & 3rd gen’ biofuels are lab experiments. (Thanks to Russ Finley for the phrase.)

Biofuelers also expose our addiction to cars and our Car Culture.

Obama, Chu, Vilsack, Plaza, Bush et. al. willfully ignore the devastation being caused now by crop-based biofuels. And they push the virtues of something that might never be commercially available (cellulosic ethanol). How are they different from the street junkie promising to quit using while still shooting up? “Please, mister, let me keep driving! I promise I’ll put something good in my gas tank. Really, I will.”

Meanwhile, One Earth continues to protest the City of Seattle’s refusal to quit using. Seattle’s drug-of-choice: soy biodiesel from Cargill, one of the globe’s dirtiest polluters. Another link from Russ exposes just how bad soy biodiesel is (worse than corn ethanol).

See you in the streets!

Un-Spinning the Spin: Time to Re-Think the “Protest Industry”, Conclusion
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

Note: Maryrose will be taking the next 2 weeks off, so look for her next column in edition number 39 of GT.

A few days ago, I received an email from World Can’t Wait that strengthens the argument that the antiwar movement has been unduly influenced by the Democratic Party.

This past weekend at their National Assembly, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) voted 111-49 to not participate in the antiwar protest being held in Washington, DC, on March 21, 2009, the 6th anniversary of the Iraq War. Instead, they voted to have a separate protest, focusing on the recession, with an April 4 march on Wall Street. Debra Sweet from World Can’t Wait who was present at the national assembly states the reason for UFPJ’s decision was their unwillingness to challenge Obama’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan. This has been a consistent problem between UFPJ and other antiwar groups, with UFPJ in essence “splitting” the antiwar movement.

With this additional information, I believe the following can safely be stated:

1. The Democratic Party has operatives embedded in the antiwar movement in order to “control” the Left.
2. The Democratic Party supports wars and occupations.
3. Methods used by the antiwar movement to shape the course of government have been weak and ineffective.
4. Corporate campaign donations have had more of an influence on politicians than public opinion.

Therefore, the first criterion toward building a cohesive long-term People’s Movement, which from this point on I will simply call the “Movement,” is one of nonpartisanship. Both Democrats and Republicans have to be viewed equally responsible for corporatocracy and held accountable for such. Any actions by the Movement will not be used to benefit one of these parties over the other. The Movement will no longer support the “lesser of two evils” argument nor be afraid to be “spoilers” by the way it votes. By committing to this, it will strengthen its ability to shape the course of government and offer a counterbalance to the influence large corporations exert on politicians.

Following are some specific suggestions for building a cohesive movement for change but the goal of this series was to start the discussion, not provide the blueprint.

1. Set the vision. The Movement must have a vision for the future and what ideology will best bring that vision to fruition. There should be a frank discussion regarding socialism and how it fits into the goals of the Movement. Additionally, the Movement must define what is important and set specific goals and the means to achieve these goals. In other words, not just the “what” but also the “how” should be part of the vision. It does not mean the Movement needs to have all the answers but, to be taken seriously, it must show it does not just make demands but also offers concrete steps to make those demands possible.

2. Unite under common goals. We cannot continue to have a splintered movement. An activist once joked that if we go to a meeting of Leftists and someone is wearing blue socks and another person is wearing blue socks that before you know it they have broken away to start the Blue Sock Leftists. There is strength in numbers and in unified action. Why should each of these groups be competing for the same members and, more importantly, the same limited funding? Why not pool resources of volunteers and donations in order to run a more efficient and effective Movement? As a suggestion, many of the existing organizations could come together under the banner of support for human rights, international law, and stewardship of the earth. There is no reason the peace movement should be separate from the environmental movement.

There has been a long-standing division among activists over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with many claiming anti-Semitism. As long as the Movement takes a consistent stand in support of human rights and international law, whether it is due to the actions of the United States or its allies, and sees itself as part of an international community, these accusations will be unjustified. Individual members of the Movement should embrace a more global viewpoint and responsibility to others beyond their own special interests.

3. Reach out to the general public. Although the obvious way to start the Movement would be to form a coalition of existing groups, the Movement must also be prepared to outreach to a broader audience for long-term success. As part of his speech at Howard University, Black Panther leader and Howard University alumnus Stokely Carmichael told the students, “If you work among the people, the people will never forsake you.” The recent actions of the Chicago workers who fought being laid off, the Jena Six case that fought the judicial system, the New York high school students who fought censorship of their play Voices in Conflict about the Iraq War, all give examples of the potential, if the Movement can learn to take advantage of the opportunity. The Movement must look at local issues, such as a police brutality, mistreatment of undocumented workers, unsafe working conditions, union busting, the homeless—the myriad of injustices that occur every day in its own neighborhoods and towns—and find a way to be of support. This is a turnaround from the present approach of calling for a protest march or vigil and asking folks to join in, as it would mean a “tuning in” to local issues and joining THEM instead. There should be enough zeal for the Movement that there would be a willingness to “proselytize” by knocking on doors in each neighborhood, if necessary. The Movement should organize neighborhood survey teams to (1) determine the concerns of its neighbors and (2) serve as an introduction to the Movement. As evidenced by polls, the general public is not happy with the direction the country is going. The Movement must take advantage of this by viewing this as a form of union building on a massive scale.

The solution is simple: To implement real change and to address the concerns of its neighbors, the Movement needs to build a large base of support, and it will only build a large base of support if it addresses the concerns of its neighbors.

4. Work with the media. Request editorial board meetings and nurture personal contacts with reporters. Just as there are good relations with Indymedia, Real Change, and other alternative news, the Movement must learn how to work with the major newspapers, television, and radio stations. There are already activists who have made good contacts with the local media that could be used to promote the Movement. Don’t just write Letters to the Editor but personally contact reporters who are doing a good job of investigative reporting.

5. Demonstrate the strength of the Movement. If the Movement can unify and build a substantial base of folks willing to get involved, but not before then, the Movement can move on to “flex” its muscles. To make an impact on the political system, there are two things that work: (1) the power of a united vote to impact an election and (2) the ability to get the attention of elected representatives by the number of people the Movement represents. If representatives of the Movement go into the office of a legislator, and it is known that the Movement represents a substantial number of constituents, it will have much more influence than a small group or an individual doing so on their own. The Movement can also show its strength by calling for a boycott of a product or of a particular business to prove its ability to call for actions that will result in lost sales or in an actual shut-down of a retail business. This power will not go unnoticed and will begin to offset the power of corporate donors. A word of caution: the Movement must always be aware of the consequences of these calls to action. If Senator Lieberman and others have their way and pass the “Homegrown Terrorism Act,” these actions could result in arrests as “terrorists.” On December 17, 2008, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s Cabinet sent the draft of a new law to Parliament that “would allow authorities to label any government critic a traitor1.” Russian commentators say that the government is making preparations to curb protests due to the global financial crisis. Who is to say that the same will not happen here?

As to street vigils and marches, I have purposely omitted these. The Movement must become more sophisticated in its methods. In Part I of this series, I went into some detail as to why these methods have not been effective. The energy and resources now going into holding these events would be better spent on building a larger movement. There will come a time to use these forms of protest again but only when the Movement is large enough to have a real impact.

A December 13, 2008, email from Cindy Sheehan titled “CODE-RED: People for Revolution!” also addresses this subject:

“It is up to us. We are the sovereigns in this country. Will we continue to dress in pink, sing cutesy songs and drop frilly pink banners off of buildings hoping that our pink energy will waft up to the Robbers and overcome them with integrity, or will we rediscover our Revolutionary roots and start demanding a more equitable redistribution of the wealth and resources (and not just here in the US).”

Many are probably expecting me to say the Green Party should take the lead in this movement, but I believe it has to come from outside any political party. The most immediate need is for the Movement to exert its pressure on the present political system. This does not mean that third parties cannot be part of the Movement but the Movement cannot be representative of any one party.

There will be a time, as the Movement matures, to move into the political arena but to start out with an existing party in the lead would be a mistake, in my opinion, and would hold back the Movement from reaching out to a broader base. To again quote Stokely Carmichael, “If you work among the people, the people will never forsake you.” Once the confidence of the people has been obtained, then, and only then, will you get their votes.

I hope the above suggestions will stimulate thinking and an opportunity to offer ideas of your own. One thing we know for certain is the time is long overdue. Obama’s election is going to challenge and test the peace movement. Now is the time to unite and have a part in shaping the future we want, not what those in power want.

1. Russian Treason Bill Targets Kremlin Critics by David Nowak,  Wednesday, December 17, 2008.
Supplemental reading: Standing up to the Madness by Amy Goodman and David Goodman. The Uprising by David Sirota.

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 24, 1865: Months after the fall of the Confederacy and the end of slavery, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, called the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Its first priority, declared in its creed, was “to protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless from the indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent, and the brutal.”

December 25, 1914: Just after midnight on Christmas morning, German troops engaged in World War I ceased firing their guns and artillery, and began to sing Christmas carols. At the first light of dawn, many of the German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no man’s land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first the Allied soldiers suspected it to be a trick, but they soon climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the German soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings; the fighting didn’t resume in earnest for several days, and then only on the insistence of the generals.

December 26, 1966: The first Kwanzaa was celebrated in Los Angeles, California. Kwanzaa is a non-religious day African-American holiday focusing on family, community, and culture. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza”, which means “first fruits” in Swahili. The celebrations is expressed through song, dance, drum, storytelling, poetry and the lighting of candles in a Kinara all followed by a large traditional meal.

Pencil Shavings: So-Called Junk Science
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.

There’s a local conservative who writes a letter to the editor for our local rag each week. One of his favorite topics is global warming. According to this Einstein, global warming doesn’t exist at all. It’s based on junk science developed by liberals and communists.

When other readers write letters about all the wacky weather we’ve been experiencing lately on the SW Washington Coast, “Joe” responds that weather runs in cycles — it’s a proven fact. When people write about peak oil, he responds, Poppycock. There’s oodles of oil. It’s just that the pinko commie government won’t drill for it. When others talk about pollution or species extinction, he is the first to say these problems are overblown.

I’ve written a few responses to this blowhard, but I’m waiting for him to write the most egregious letter amongst his egregious letters. When this day comes — and it’s coming soon as each week his letters get worse and worse — I’m going to write a rebuttal that goes something like this:

Joe,

Let’s say you’re right. Let’s say global warming is based on junk science. What’s it going to hurt to live life in a more sustainable manner? Even you have stated that you realize that many aspects of this world are not infinite. So, a more sustainable society will mean that we won’t use up resources as fast as we are now.

But Joe, here’s what worries me. What if you’re wrong? What if global warming is based on REAL science? If it actually does exist, then your urgings will only lead us down the path of ecological ruin, a path we are currently treading right now.

The old adage many parents teach their children — better safe than sorry — rings true. If we live our lives as if global warming exists and it doesn’t, then we can continue on living with a few inconveniences. If we live our lives as if global warming doesn’t exist and it does, then we die. There will be no do overs or second chances. Most importantly, when people like you wake up to reality, you won’t be able simply to say “Sorry, I guess I was wrong” and hope that everything will be okay…because it won’t and it will be too damn late.

So, whether a person believes in global warming or not, me thinks it’s better to be safer than sorrier — living versus dead.

News You May Have Missed

Climate Change: Chasm Widens Between Science and Policy
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Obama’s Betrayal of Public Education?
Barack Obama’s selection of Arne Duncan for secretary of education does not bode well either for the political direction of his administration nor for the future of public education. Obama’s call for change falls flat with this appointment, not only because Duncan largely defines schools within a market-based and penal model of pedagogy, but also because he does not have the slightest understanding of schools as something other than adjuncts of the corporation at best or the prison at worse…

Disney Exhibit Gives Visitors a Warped Idea
I had never really considered a career as a sanitation engineer, but suddenly the idea doesn’t seem far-fetched. “Good job!” a perky female voice commends me as I spill a load of dirt over a fresh pile of trash at the bottom of a dump. Really? I think. “You have a great future in landfill management,” she adds emphatically. Maybe. But I’m not really at a landfill, only moving a little yellow dozer with a joystick at Walt Disney World’s Epcot, where Waste Management Inc. has an exhibit called “Don’t Waste It,” and the voice is prerecorded. I could be doing nothing — and since I’ve never touched a joystick before today, it’s possible I am doing nothing — and she’d be happy…

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One Response to “GT for December 22 – 28”

  1. Where did you get your blog layout from? I’d like to get one like it for my blog.

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