Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

August 3 – 9

Posted by Trey Smith on August 7, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of August 3 – 9
Volume 4 No. 16
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
* Exxon Spends More on Lobbying than Entire Clean Energy Industry Combined
* Harry and Louise’s Deadly Embrace
* Thoughts By the Way: Mexico
* Our Climate Crisis: (Nada this week)
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Time for Re-Thinking of “Feminism” as a Key Value
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: In the Heat of the Night
* News You May Have Missed

Exxon Spends More on Lobbying than Entire Clean Energy Industry Combined
by Brian Merchant for TreeHugger

Guess it pays to be the biggest oil company in the world — even though their profits are at the lowest they’ve been in six years, Exxon still managed to spend more money on lobbying efforts for the climate bill than the entire clean energy industry combined.

Even with their gargantuan effort, the oil company still felt slighted in the version of the climate bill that passed the House last month (coal and agriculture got far more free permits to pollute than the oil company). Perhaps they at least got a consolation prize? Maybe an “I Spent $15 Million on Lobbying and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” tee, or something?

Because that’s how much the oil giant shelled out — $14.9 million over the last six months. As Bloomberg points out, that’s a solid 23% more than the $12.1 million clean energy companies spent all told. Altogether, oil and gas companies spent $82.2 million on Washington lobbyists, dwarfing the wind, solar, and biofuel companies that nonetheless spent more than ever before. From Bloomberg:

Clean-energy companies spent $21.8 million on lobbying in 2008, five times as much as in 2006, New Energy Finance said. Wind power developers account for more than one fifth of the total.

It should be noted as well that not all of Exxon’s (and other oil companies’) spending on lobbyists was strictly to obtain more lenient emissions standards for their oil operations (though I haven’t seen the breakdown, and assume that most of it was):

Petroleum producers and clean-energy companies don’t necessarily lobby on opposite sides of issues. Oil companies are investing in biofuels to meet alternative-energy mandates. Earlier this month, Exxon said it would seek to create a “new source of oil” in a $600 million project to make gasoline from algae. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, based in the Netherlands, second to Exxon Mobil in global refining capacity, announced plans in December for an algae project in Hawaii.

However, we can certainly expect high spending from the oil industry as the Senate resumes crafting its climate bill this September–and it’s a pretty sure bet they’ll be upping their efforts to secure more free pollution permits this go-round.

Harry and Louise’s Deadly Embrace
by Ruth Conniff for The Progressive

Flying home from the Democratic convention last August, I sat next to a Sarah Palin-loving, Obama-bashing dittohead who gave me an earful on the various issues of the day. Chief among them: the superiority of the U.S. health care system.

My fellow passenger had travelled to Canada for work, he said, and had the misfortune to encounter the Canadian health care system when he came down with strep. He visited a Canadian doctor, who diagnosed his problem, but who, my fellow passenger complained, spent only a few minutes with him. Later, when he went to a pharmacy to fill his prescription for antibiotics, he found that he didn’t have as many pills as he thought he needed. The reason, he explained, was that Canadian doctors try to game the system by getting patients to come back for extra office visits to refill their prescriptions.

This nonsensical tirade against a country that offered a noncitizen free health care only makes sense in the context of the rightwing rhetorical battle against the commies who want to destroy America by providing more citizens with health care.

The anti-universal-healthcare lobby is still out there. And much of the debate is unchanged since 1993.

Conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are railing about “socialized medicine.” Republicans are crowing that President Obama’s efforts at reform could be his “Waterloo.”

But with 10 million more uninsured, fewer Americans are buying the conspiracy theories. People know there is a health care crisis. Few would object to getting free medical care in Canada. In fact, so many U.S. citizens are sneaking across the border to get cheap drugs, stories about the problem have become a local news staple.

So maybe the worst sign for the future of health care is the “conversion” of Harry & Louise to heath care reform advocates.

“A little more cooperation, a little less politics, and we can get the job done this time,” says Louise of the infamous PHARMA-funded Harry & Louise ads, in the latest industry-financed national health care ad campaign.

After helping to torpedo the Clinton health care plan and launching a new era in issue advertising, Harry & Louise made a comeback just in time for the 2008 Democratic and Republican national conventions. The writing was already on the wall. So, instead of railing about choice and government-run health care, as they did in 1993, they decried the plight of the uninsured and asked that the next President, whoever he may be, put health care at the top of his agenda.

That was the first red flag.

But now, as the sausage machine in Washington cranks out a lobbyist-pleasing health care bill that, as it works its way through the Senate Finance Committee, no longer includes low-cost drugs or, possibly, even a public option, it looks like reform is turning into something Harry and Louise will love–no politics, no conflict, and largely written by the business and pharmaceutical lobbies behind the popular ads.

Actual U.S. citizens who are not paid by big Pharma still want an end to the health care crisis. That’s why nine people were arrested in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday for protesting in the lobby of Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, demanding an end to the insurance company’s profit-maximizing, health-care-denying practices and calling for a single-payer, national health care system.

And it is why people are pouring into Washington, DC, on Thursday, July 30, for a massive rally and lobbying day in celebration of Medicare’s 44th birthday.

A New York Times/CBS News poll shows that a majority of Americans support a government-run, universal health care system. A survey of U.S. doctors reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that 59 percent favor a Medicare for All system of national health insurance.

Grassroots efforts to get this majority view across to the Obama Administration and members of Congress are the best answer to the wingnuts on rightwing radio and, more insidiously, the populist-sounding proponents of faux health care reform, Harry & Louise.

Thoughts By the Way: Mexico
Tom Herring is a former Vashon Island Community Council member, but now chooses to sort nails in his shop. Catch more of Tom’s thoughts on his blog.

Have you wondered what the phrase North American Free Trade Agreement means? It’s Sminglish for Keep Mexico Poor. In one instance just related by Jeff Faux, the giant Banamex was stolen from the Mexican government: NAFTA’s fine print opened up Mexican banks to foreign ownership. Banamex, meanwhile, had been purchased by Mexican political insiders for $3.2 billion. Now Citigroup paid the insiders $12.5 billion for it. This North American Free Trade was brokered by golden boy Bob Rubin.

There’s lots more in Faux’s article on NAFTA, but it hurts so much to relate that it dampens my ego. The hurt is personal on account of family ties to Mexico, my year in New Mexico, and my support of the United Farm Workers. Almost as bad as the robbery is its thick layer of hypocrisy.

Indigenous and Mestizo citizens of Mexico are being ground into the dust of their heated land and bringing our poor down with them. It’s pure class warfare, now intensified by peak oil, and the upper class know the facts of strife: they want the money, but the real need is power to keep the poor from revolting. With these florid words, I’m arguing that the speeching in Congress and its echo in the press is so much noise. We’re for it. Look out your window, menwomen, and connect with what you see for it may be all you’ll have.

So that you know where the next poke of polemic is coming from, here’s my take on the US situation: National Single Payer was dead on arrival. The Patriot Act stands. The US “drug war” will continue to corrupt Latin America. Homeland Security will continue to obfuscate the immigration issue. Iraq will die. Afghanistan will return to anarchy. Pakistan and India will continue to verge on war. The Chicago school system will go under the heel of No Child Left Behind. California will get a ticket to the Third World paid for by its financiers. Detroit will become a used car lot. China’s production of carbon dioxide will put the global average temperature increase over the threshold of two Celsius. And the Amazon Basin will writhe in the agony of loss. Yet none of this will break the grip of Global Wall Street on our government.

Global Wall Street is too powerful to be deterred by any coalition that can possibly emerge — check the record. This view contradicts my “broken record” theme that Wall Street could be brought down by enough cities with their civic minds made up. Well, I’ve been dreaming. That kind of civic “critical mass” is not going to happen. Now, you likely are thinking, this fellow is going to unload his circle the wagons liturgy, his version of Ross Gelbspan’s advice to the doomed. But think again, because I have done some homework on the classic oppression of Indian peasants by the British. Gandhi found an issue basic to their lives that put a drop on the end of the British nose, the salt tax. It hung there for seventeen years, but the improvement in peasant morale was instantaneous. They rose up in massive waves of protest.

Mexico is an issue of such importance as to become the drop on the end of pin-stripe noses. If we start a movement to expose the truth of what is happening not only on the border, but throughout Mexico, to expose the truth of US complicity in these happenings, then our ranks will be doubled, tripled, by highly motivated Mexican farmers and laborers. Could such a tactic cause people like Bob Rubin to lose sleep, or even a whole lot of money?

Jeff Faux: “So Far From God, So Close To Wall Street”, The Nation, August 3/10

Un-Spinning the Spin: Time for Re-Thinking of “Feminism” as a Key Value
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

In the news this past week was a statement of support for the war in Afghanistan by the Feminist Majority, a prominent US women’s organization, and a rebuttal statement by Sonali Kolhatkar, Co-Director of Afghan Women’s Mission.

Since Feminism is one of the 10 Key Values of the Green Party, it may be time to re-think keeping “Feminism” as one of the 10 Key Values.

I looked at the websites of several Washington State Green Party locals. Notice the consistency of wording under the Key Value of “Feminism:”

SKAGIT COUNTY GREEN PARTY
The Green movement is profoundly inspired by feminism. The ethics of cooperation and understanding must replace the values of domination and control.

GREEN PARTY OF KITSAP COUNTY
The Green movement is profoundly inspired by feminism. The ethics of cooperation and understanding must replace the values of domination and control.

GREEN PARTY OF SOUTH PUGET SOUND
The Green movement is profoundly inspired by Feminism, with its ethics of cooperation and understanding. These ethics must replace the values of domination and control.

VASHON-MAURY ISLAND GREEN PARTY
The Green movement is profoundly inspired by Feminism, with its ethics of cooperation and understanding. These ethics must replace the values of domination and control.

I question whether we should continue to attach a value to feminism as if women inherently have a higher morality, are more in tune to nature, or hold to a different value system then men.

Feminism promotes the thought that if there were more women in position of power that this would end the present corruption and power of the military-industrial complex. Yet, the examples of Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, and others female leaders around the world negate the idea of women in power guaranteeing a kinder, gentler world.

Elimination of “feminism” and substituting simply “gender equality” as one of the Ten Key Values would be much more in line with the reality that females hold no special skills and are no more nurturing or empathetic than males. The idea that “feminism” is a value to emulate unfortunately has been besmeared by the reality that women in power hold to no greater good than their male counterparts. A comparison of values held by Dennis Kucinich to Hillary Clinton or Russ Feingold to Mary Landrieu illustrate this point.

There is no question that women must be afforded equal rights in the workplace. My argument is with the attachment of misleading feminist values behind the philosophy of “feminism.”

Gender equality should be the ideal we strive for, not promoting one sex over the other.

An example of what I am addressing is found on the Green Party of Seattle website. As part of the Ten Key Values is a write-up on “Feminism” by Jasmine Minbashian.

Minbashian argues that “feminist values” mean more than simply equal rights for women and goes into the philosophical aspects of feminism.

Clearly, one can observe a connection between domination and destruction of nature and the oppression of women. Carolyn Merchant, in her book the Death of Nature, does an outstanding job of revealing the roots of this connection. In her analysis, Dr. Merchant found that the image of nature as female to be controlled and dissected through experiment legitimated the exploitation of natural resources. She quotes Francis Bacon (1561-1626), a celebrated “father of modern science”: “The technological discoveries of printing, gunpowder, and the magnet in the fields of learning, warfare, and navigation help us to think about the secrets still locked in nature’s bosom. They do not, like the old, merely exert a gentle guidance over nature’s course; they have the power to conquer and subdue her, to shake her foundations. Under the mechanical arts, nature betrays her secrets more fully than when in enjoyment of her natural liberty.”

Although the image of the nurturing Earth popular in the Renaissance did not completely vanish, it was superseded by this new controlling imagery. This imagery is still with us today, although it is more subtly referred to as “natural resource management.” This theme, however, is not just prevalent in science. We have also inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics.

We cannot expect to free ourselves from the ills of our society, whether we are addressing the environment, poverty, or corporate welfare, until we have all embraced feminism and the end of domination as inseparable components of all these issues.

Does anyone else have a problem with this metaphor of feminism? Adopting a feminist philosophy would not mean the “end of domination.” Feminism played a major role in bringing attention to the inequalities in the workplace but the time has come to move beyond the idea that any one sex has superiority over the other. The Ten Key Values should embrace full gender equality with no attachment of a greater morality or a lesser humaneness on the part of either male or female by emphasizing the word “feminism.”

Two locals (Seattle and South Puget Sound) did add “gender equity” to “feminism” as listed in their Ten Key Values. Below is from the Green Party of the United States website where gender equity is also added:

FEMINISM AND GENDER EQUITY

We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control with more cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.

However, even references to male domination in politics and economics should be removed as sexist statements. It is true there are more males in politics and economics, but majority does not necessarily correlate with abuse of power. It could be argued that the “system,” i.e. capitalism, has more to do with domination of one class over another, then the imbalance in the number of males vs. females in positions of power.

I have also questioned, for example, why Laura Bush would let George get away with what he did during his presidency so we also have the cooperation of females in this “domination.” Groucho Marx once joked, “Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.”

Unfortunately, greed and the thirst for power which dominate politics and economics cross gender lines and will only end when humankind evolves to the point where everyone is viewed as equal in every respect.

If we accomplish gender equity, then we have de facto accomplished the stated goals of the mainstream feminist movement.

I strongly support “Gender Equity” as a Key Value. “Feminism” is outdated, simply wrong, and should be removed. This is especially timely now that “feminism” is being absurdly used to justify the war in Afghanistan.

Supplemental Reading
Follow this news story to see if the feminist philosophy holds true and whether Hillary Clinton will go against the oil companies in defense of “Mother Nature.” Take Action: Tell Hillary Clinton to Stop Tar Sands Pipeline Into US

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.

August 3, 1882: Congress passed the first U.S. law to restrict immigration of a particular ethnic group into the United States, the Chinese Exclusion Act. It stopped all further Chinese immigration for ten years, and denied citizenship to those already in the country, most of whom had been recruited by American railroad and mining companies. The law remained in effect until 1943.

August 6, 1890: At Auburn Prison in New York state, William Kemmler became the first person to be executed in the electric chair, developed by the Medico-Legal Society and Harold Brown, a colleague of Thomas Edison. William Kemmler received two applications of 1,300 volts of alternating current. The first lasted for only 17 seconds because a leather belt was about to fall off one of the second-hand Westinghouse generators. Kemmler was still alive. The second jolt lasted until the smell of burning flesh filled the room, about four minutes. As soon as his charred body stopped smoldering, Kemmler was pronounced dead.

August 9, 1945: The second atomic bomb, “Fatman,” was dropped on the arms-manufacturing and key port city of Nagasaki. Of the 195,00 population of the city (many of its children had been evacuated due to bombing in the days just prior), 39,000 died and 25,000 were injured, and 40% of all residences were damaged or destroyed.

Pencil Shavings: In the Heat of the Night
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.

This past week the temperature hit the century mark in South Bend. While I do realize there were several locales in our state that had temperatures a bit higher, 100 degrees is very significant where I live. For one thing, the average high in August for north Pacific County is a mild 72. On that particular day, our low barely passed that mark.

But here’s what I find to be the most important aspect: weather extremes of this nature are becoming very commonplace. When Della & I first moved to Southwest Washington in December 2005, we were told by long-time residents that searing high temps in summer or snow and bone-chattering lows in winter happened only every once in awhile. The natives here boasted that most seasons generally are milder than in most areas of the country.

Yet, since we’ve been here, every single season have been marked by these “supposedly” unusual extremes. In just two years of life in South Bend, we’ve experienced the largest known snowfall, the worst hurricane-like winds, the most voluminous 3 months of precipitation and the thermometer has hit the century each of the past 3 summers. What are the chances of that happening? Look, I could understand one or two of these extremes happening in a short period of time, but they keep rolling at us month after month.

Consequently, I really don’t need to read all the scientific studies and reports sounding the clarion call of global warming. I don’t need to hear Jim Hansen expound on the subject. I don’t need to turn on the TV news nor read about this issue in the newspaper. I don’t need ANY of these external sources. All I need to do is step out on my front porch (provided it hasn’t been blown or floated away!) on almost any given day and I know that climate change is real and, unfortunately, I’m afraid it’s here to stay.

News You May Have Missed

Arctic Tundra Undergoing Major Changes As it Warms, Studies Show
Several recent studies show that the rapid warming of Arctic tundra is leading to a host of sweeping changes, including more extensive fires, the growth of larger vegetation, more absorption of solar energy, melting permafrost, and substantially larger releases of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases. Taken together, the studies demonstrate that rising temperatures set in motion a vicious circle of more warming and higher releases of greenhouse gases…

14 Surprising Benefits of Being Unemployed
The great ebb and flow of the marketplace has recently forced me to try to convince myself of the benefits of being unemployed. Some of those benefits are obvious, and I could have anticipated them even before a supervisor tapped me on the shoulder and said he needed to talk to me about something. (“Do you have a minute?” he asked. What would have happened if I’d said no, that I was too busy?)…

MSNBC Implies People Skeptical Of Government Are Psychologically Insane
During a discussion of the Obama birth certificate controversy, MSNBC host Chris Matthews and his guests implied that anyone who questions the official 9/11 story, thinks the Bilderberg group are exercising power to create a world government, people who are worried about gun control and immigration, or even people who are merely skeptical of government, are psychologically insane…

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One Response to “August 3 – 9”

  1. Something Missing in CA Green Party Statement of Purpose…

    This is the California Green Party Statement of Purpose, from the California Presidential Primary Election Official Voter Information Guide
    GREEN PARTY
    Voting Green for president is voting for the only national party that:
    * Supports immediate with…

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