Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

May 25 – 31

Posted by Trey Smith on May 23, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of May 25 – 31
Volume 4 No. 6
an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere

Greener Times Collective: Maryrose Asher, Duff Badgley, Tom Herring and Trey Smith (Editor)

In This Week’s Issue
* Democratic Socialists? You Bet!
* More on Dreams
* Thoughts By the Way: Pandemic of Bad News
* Our Climate Crisis: Carbon Trading is Lethal Charade
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Citizen Politics
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: A More Fitting Memorial
* News You May Have Missed

Democratic Socialists? You Bet!
by Matthew Rothschild, Editor of The Progressive

Some in the Republican Party are trying to re-dub the Democratic Party as the Democrat Socialist Party. Nothing like getting out the old encrusted red paintbrush.

But I hope some Democrats don’t run from this label. Running doesn’t get you anywhere. Democrats have been running from the label “liberal” since the days of Michael Dukakis, and that hasn’t helped them. And for those who, like me, are actually Democratic Socialists, it’s time to come out and say so.

Democratic socialism has brought a much better quality of life to the people in Scandinavia and France and Germany and Britain, and it has not erased one iota of the political freedoms we cherish in this country.

We need to move this country in the direction of democratic socialism. We need a much sturdier social safety net.

It’s a sin that in this country, 35 million people do not have enough food to eat during at least part of the year.

It’s a sin that 47 million Americans are without health insurance.

It’s a sin that of the top 18 industrialized countries, the United States ranks last in the percentage of children (11.8 percent) who are not likely to live to age 60, and last in the percentage of people (17 percent) living on less than 50% of the national median income, according to the United Nations Development Program.

We need a much more egalitarian distribution of wealth and income. The top 1 percent of Americans hoards 34.3 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the top 10 percent accounts for 71.2 percent of the wealth. As far as income goes, the top 10% sops up 42.5 percent of the nation’s income. (These stats are from the State of Working America, 2008/2009.)

We need much more control over the economic giants that dominate not only our economy but our political system.

Hell, it was just a few days ago when Dick Durbin said, “The banks own the place,” — after Congress — after ten Democrats joined the Republicans in voting against letting judges write down the mortgages of people in bankruptcy court.

And the people want universal health care, but the drug companies and insurance companies have been standing in the way for decades.

Right now, capitalism is eating away at our democracy.

So, thank you, Republicans, we do need democratic socialism.
© 2009 The Progressive

More on Dreams
by Stuart Reed

In “Pencil Shavings,” Trey noticed The Nation‘s article “The Future of the American Dream” and asked: Why not a world dream? That article, basically, puts forth some idea of where we could focus our economic dreams in the long term: permanent employment (government hires everyone who wants to and can work but can’t find a job, including during recession), but also a re-imagining of the large-scale work place towards collectivism, democracy, consensus. This really is more of a world dream than an American dream. I keep hearing about the growth of the movements for worker-owned businesses, co-operatives and collectives around the world. I most recently heard a KAOS radio show about such activities in Argentina and how successful they have been lately getting factories back up to speed after worker takeovers and reorganizing to a no-boss system. The article mentioned earlier also talks about community financial systems and their growth and potential.

Back in community college, I learned about how a corporation is more than the sum of its members because a corporate decision-making body makes decisions that no single individual of its members would make. Of course, the logical solution is to have every member of the company have an equal voice and ownership of that company and its decisions and profits. Break free from the pattern of cynicism-based “I have to” order-following that drains so many souls every day at work. We all know the power of socially responsible consensus-based companies, and their growth (off the top of my head, locally, I think of GRUB and the Olympia Food Co-op, both extremely successful and both doing fine in the “recession,” and that no credit union has failed like those banks). We all, unfortunately, also know that the growth of those initiatives is probably far too slow to take over our economy from the Big Boys anytime soon, especially given the stranglehold mega corporations have on the government and tax money. But, that’s what dreams are for, eh?

I think we have a lot to learn from our global partners in this world economic dream of non-hierarchical, democracy based employment for all, and must not forget our solidarity as lower classes with such folk around the world. Still a tiny blip in the US political radar, but perhaps one day more folks will refuse to work for any company with a hierarchy. Another thought (this is a whole other can of beans though) is that of course Obama is supporting the Empire status quo – no one person at the top of a hierarchy can ever change things to their liking because the hierarchy itself is too powerful at self-propagating and working in its own interest, not even the interests of it’s “leaders.”

If you still work for a boss – start talking to them about ways to bridge the gap between worker and boss, switch jobs and responsibilities sometimes, include all workers in decision-making processes, and do away with antiquated titles of status and power. If they won’t have it, get together horizontally with other workers and start plans and goals to create your own boss-less version of whatever you were doing before and it will thrive and generate great feelings of happiness.

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

Picture the inside of the typical columnist’s head these days. The classical, macroscopic view is of news bytes tumbling, fact over falsehood, to pile up more or less in layers, the latest on top. But the info-science view is that the bytes are serially burnt onto an infinite disk with a finite list of addresses. The un-addressed bytes are accessible under hypnosis, where a choice exists between hypnotists for the established order and hypnotists for the opposition. The addressed bytes are viewed by scrolling. When the rate of bytes/second exceeds an individual columnist’s limit, hiserher scroll motor burns out. My scroll motor burned out yesterday when one of Swaneagle Harijan’s reports on human misery got juxta-burnt with Pepe Escobar’s second report from the trenches of Obama’s inherited war for Eurasian natural gas.

Bricks of logic click smartly into place as Pepe unrolls the tapestry of natural gas pipelines planned by Russia, India, China, and the US. It’s cliff-hanging copy even apart from its context of carbon already gone to heaven.

Swaneagle lives the life of those trampled under the carpet of financial terrorism that blankets America. She’s a long time champion of the Navajo people cheated of their ancestral land by a coal mining company. In each of the several communities lived in, she has seen, and experienced, the dark reach of non-human interests. Vashon is not an exception.

His scroll motor down, this columnist draws a curtain over his window to the world and reflects on the psychological implications of so much bad news. One is that…

A hole was just torn in my curtain by a video from a recent Winter Soldier program. It was sent by Camp Casey. A youthful veteran read from a sheet of paper: In Iraq he had been severely disciplined for missing a chance to kill an Iraqi civilian. There was more. Never, in my three years in the opposition, have I been so utterly shamed.

I was about to say that one implication of the bad news pandemic is that many of us won’t be able to focus. What that veteran said underlines the danger. The environmental NGOs furnish an extreme example when they plead to save this or that vestige of nature and ignore the obvious supremacy of criminal government. So I yank up the curtain in sudden need for at least one person within arm’s length who also needs proof that heershe is still sane.

Have you family or household? And are they aware, or a handicap? And the neighbors, are they allies or a moat to cross? Does your town have a Council? Could it take that Winter Soldier video and carry it to the County Seat? And how would the County Council act?

Those questions herald a proposition. Here’s some prologue. It is past time to recognize that the present form of opposition is not working and hang a hard left. We might have expected that kernels of opposition would by now have formed in coffee shop and condo, street corner and park, and then grown steadily, merged into whole districts, and culminated in the US conference of mayors telling Congress to cut the lies, the posturing, the hypocrisy, and stop funding the military cancer. But that expectation would not have been met. And we know why. US families are breaking up, neighbors don’t know each other, too much time is wasted in traffic, television is a sterile game of high definition and low thrills, and at every turn the financial system tears huge chunks out of our lives. The opposition isn’t winning because it has already lost.

But, back to that kernel business suppose that kernels of two, three, maybe four people were in fact to grow to “cells” of two, three, maybe four hundred, and then ask what might happen. Boycott a business? Stiff the IRS? Embarrass Patty Murray with a fleet of cars marked all over with ears? Make the Seattle School Department wish it had never thought of double-crossing the teachers? Not to mention the students. Nominate Greg Nickels Bio-Fool of the Year? Make Jesse Hagopian mayor? Dorli Rainey Mayor? Turf-based opposition could have untold clout.

There’s another angle to that kind of “arms-reach” opposition, nice, clear, uncensored, private, audio. Like back in WW II when undergrounds practiced ultimate security. We could take that lesson. Think how fast an idea, a wish, an action, could spread through “cells” of opposition. Call them precincts? Gangs? That potent word leaps off the page as a picture at a street corner. Ever hear of a gang that did not have turf?

We cannot stop the pandemic, but we can draw a line and double-dare the pandemic to cross it.

Pepe Escobar writes for Asia Times Online.
Swaneagle Harijan may be reached at frontlinemom@yahoo.com
Jesse Hagopian may be reached at jesse_hagopian@yahoo.com
Dorli Rainey is running for mayor of Seattle at www.dorliformayor.com/

Our Climate Crisis: Carbon Trading is Lethal Charade
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.

My testimony from yesterday’s (May 21, 2009) EPA hearing on climate change and its ‘endangerment’ ruling:

E.P.A. MUST IMPOSE CAPS
CARBON TRADING IS LETHAL ‘SUBTERFUGE’

“Carbon trading is a subterfuge designed to allow Business-As-Usual to continue.”

James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Space Institute, September, 2008

Carbon trading is, and always will be, a bribe to get industry to the Climate Crisis table. It is an unnecessary bribe if we can muster the vision and courage to implement effective climate programs—without caving to our worst polluters, as carbon trading does.

President Barack Obama, Washington governor Chris Gregoire, many of our federal and state legislators, and zillions of misguided climate activists are engaging in lethal denial now by pushing carbon trading legislation. But the recent E.P.A. endangerment ruling gives us a chance to impose emissions caps with no escape. The E.P.A. must do this now.

Carbon trading hasn’t worked to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It won’t work. It can’t work. Overwhelming evidence, available for years from Europe, confirms this.

The leading European fuels analyst for Citigroup said in 2008 that the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) had “done nothing to curb emissions” and acted as “a highly regressive tax falling mostly on poor people.”

Waxman/Markey is the federal climate bill receiving most attention. It is carbon trading legislation. And, like all carbon trading schemes, it creates huge escape ways for the most polluting corporations to avoid reducing their GHG emissions. And these loopholes gut the program. So, GHG emissions will continue to rise under carbon trading—as they have been doing, and do now, in the EU.

Failure to reject carbon trading and impose direct government emissions caps will devastate our Earth. Global ruin will likely follow — average temperatures rising by 4-7C, the collapse of global agriculture and most of the Earth rendered uninhabitable.

EMERGENCY CLIMATE CRISIS ACTIONS NEEDED:
(1) The E.P.A. must impose severe GHG emissions caps on all sectors, with no escape.
(2) Impose stiff carbon taxes to raise the cash for restructuring our economy.
(3) Recycle carbon tax funds to poor to offset high costs for housing, food & transport.
(4) Recycle massive carbon tax funds to the Global South, chiefly to preserve rainforests. Deforestation is the 2nd-worst source of GHG emissions after fossil fuel combustion.
(5) Withdraw all occupying troops from Iraq, Afghanistan and pre-1948 Palestine. Route this War Dividend to climate programs.
(6) Leave fossil fuels in the ground.
(7) Invest in safe, clean and community-led renewable energy (NO crop-based biofuels).
(8) Enforce and expand Indigenous resource rights.

Un-Spinning the Spin: Citizen Politics
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

With local elections coming up, now is the time to support citizen politics, where “commoners” among us run for public office and get the united support of the progressive movement.

For far too long, we have voted under the false assumption that we should only elect those with the “proper” background, in most cases lawyers, to represent us. There was the misguided notion that government was too complicated for the average citizen and that only those with the proper experience and education were qualified for office.

By handing over responsibility to those with “education and experience,” we have put into power a group of perhaps the most corrupt, self-seeking individuals ever to run our local, state, and national governments.

Those in power have completely lost touch with their constituencies and live in a “bubble” of power and greed.

Both the 2006 and 2008 elections were a mandate from the voters to end the war in Iraq and for prosecution of those in the Bush administration who lied us into war and who carried out war crimes of torture and secret rendition. Our politicians, however, are taking the position that they know what is best and to hell with the voters.

Almost six months down the road, we now have no doubt that the Obama administration is part of the same corrupt system. He starts out by saying he will close Guantanamo and everyone applauds. Left unsaid is why Bagram prison in Afghanistan is still in operation and, on May 20, the Senate voted to block funds for closure of Guantanamo prison, conveniently giving Obama an “out” for another broken campaign promise.

We can see the handwriting on the wall that there will be no justice for those war criminals in the past administration as the current administration is continuing those same policies, despite their rhetoric. Health care is yet another example where voters thought they were electing a President that would bring single-payer health care, only to see him sell out to the insurance and medical lobbyists.

The only way the progressive movement is going to change the political system is by uniting behind a candidate who exemplifies the passion and dedication for social justice issues, not just by words but by deeds. We need activists who have been on the front lines carrying protest signs, marching in the streets, attending organizing meetings, facing arrest, and otherwise showing by example what we should all be doing.

It does not matter if they are not lawyers or do not have the clout of being part of the “inner circle” of our communities.

The progressive movement can no longer sell its soul and support the Democratic Party as they have done in the past. Neither of the two mainstream political parties represents the working class and none of the third parties have the money to run a successful candidate or the ability to unite the progressive movement under one umbrella.

Therefore, the progressive movement must get behind individuals in their community who are part of the movement and who are willing to run for local office.

Citizen candidates may not win and may, in fact, spoil the race for a “lesser of two evils” candidate, but this should not be the focus and certainly of no concern. The primary goal would be to break the back of this corrupt, corporate-owned political system and willingly to choose not to vote for either “head” of this two-headed monster.

These local races are an opportunity for the progressive movement to flex its muscle and show the Democratic Party it is willing to put its vote where its mouth is and prove, once and for all, that the progressive movement can no longer to taken for granted.

Unless we can unite behind individual candidates from among our ranks, the U.S. progressive movement is dead.

For inspiration, short bio and link about Jane Addams.
Subject: Jane Addams: Biography from Answers.com

A co-founder of Chicago’s Hull-House social settlement, Jane Addams was a reformer whose efforts earned her the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize (shared with Nicholas Murray Butler). Addams and her longtime companion Ellen Gates Starr founded the Hull-House settlement in 1889 as a center for social services for poor immigrants. Within a few years Addams had broadened her goals to include legislative protection for women and children, advocating women’s suffrage, a juvenile court system, labor laws and compulsory education. She also became internationally famous as an advocate for peace and was a founder of the Women’s Peace Party and the International League for Peace and Freedom. Although her pacifism and efforts at social reform led some to denounce her as an anarchist, socialist or communist, by the end of her career many of the social reforms she advocated had become federal policy.

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.

May 25, 1986: An estimated 7 million Americans participated in Hands Across America, forming a line across the country from Los Angeles to New York to raise public awareness of the issues of hunger and homelessness in the U.S. Participants paid ten dollars to reserve their place in line; the proceeds were donated to local charities to fight hunger and help the homeless.

May 26, 1969: John Lennon and Yoko Ono (along with her daughter Kyoko) held their second Bed-in for Peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Quebec. A late-night rendition of “Give Peace a Chance” recorded in the hotel room, reached No.14 on the Billboard charts.

May 30, 1868: Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was first observed when two women in Columbus, Mississippi, placed flowers on the graves of Civil War soldiers, both Confederate and Union. War widow Augusta Murdoch Sykes, one of the Columbus planners, pointed out that “after all, they are somebody’s sons.”

Pencil Shavings: A More Fitting Memorial
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.

As this is the Memorial Day weekend, people will be remembering all the fallen soldiers of our various military incursions. For me, the best way to honor their memory is to work to make war obsolete. Ed McCurdy — back in 1950 — put it better than I can.

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

I dreamed I saw a mighty room
Filled with women and men
And the paper they were signing said
They’d never fight again

And when the paper was all signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful pray’rs were prayed

And the people in the streets below
Were dancing ’round and ’round
While swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground

Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.

News You May Have Missed

Bail Out Your Own Damn Self!
The calamari salad was world-class. Still, my friend the CPA’s face screwed up. “You know what still has me pissed off? The bailouts. All wasted on CEO bonuses. But nobody cares!” I told him I thought people cared, but they didn’t know what they could do about it. “I’ll tell you what we should do,” he fumed. “Stop paying our taxes. And our mortgages. They can’t throw us all in jail! They can’t evict us all!” What should we demand? “The bailout money. Make ’em give back every cent to us, the people who need it…”

The Politics of Bait-and-Switch
After little more than 100 days in office, the Democrats, under the leadership of Barack Obama, have unleashed a slew of anti-environmental policies that would have enraged any reasonable conservationist during the Bush years. Take the delisting of the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes and parts of the Northern Rockies, which was announced during the waning days of the Bush era and upheld by Obama earlier this spring…

Public Health Leaders Stress Climate Risk
When seasonal rains lift from the Mali skies, meningitis often follows. Dust-filled winds can elevate the disease’s effects by damaging tissue in a person’s nose or throat. If longer droughts become more common, as expected across the Sahel, the epidemic could intensify, researchers say. Connections between climate change and public health are not unique to West Africa. Worldwide, generations are expected to suffer as a result of historical and future greenhouse gas emissions, and the poor are most at risk…

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