Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

August 10 – 16

Posted by Trey Smith on August 9, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of August 10 – 16
Volume 4 No. 17
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
* 2 Reasons Cash for Clunkers Should End (and 1 Reason It Should Live Again)
* COG or COA: Why Is Obama Morphing Into Bush 2?
* Thoughts By the Way: Hood River
* Our Climate Crisis: Biofuels Chamber of Horrors
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Pollyanna Creep in Latest Job Report from Department of Labor
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: Tipping Points
* News You May Have Missed

2 Reasons Cash for Clunkers Should End (and 1 Reason It Should Live Again)
by Dan Shapley of  The Daily Green

The Daily Green hasn’t been a big supporter of Cash for Clunkers program. While it seemed great at first — a popular cash subsidy that helps taxpayers, carmakers and gets junky highly polluting cars off the road — in practice it left a lot to be desired.

Originally conceived, the program would have paid out the same subsidy — up to $4,500 — to not only those who bought cars with great fuel economy, but also to those who bought used cars with great fuel economy or who traded in a clunker in exchange for public transportation credits. In the end, it was designed to sell new cars, whether or not they were highly efficient — specifically, new cars that get as little as 22 mpg, new SUVs that get as little as 18 mpg and new trucks that get as little as 15 mpg.

But that’s old news. The U.S. people loved the program, exhausting the billion dollar allotment in less than a week. The House felt the yank on its chain and passed a $2 billion extension of the program. Here are two good reasons the Senate should think twice (the vote is expected on Thursday):

1. Even an efficient new car taxes the environment.
You know that Toyota commercial in which the car makes itself out of twigs and then disassembles gently, quietly being absorbed back into the Earth? Well, it’s a nice dream. In reality, it takes steel, paints, solvents, plastics and a host of other materials to make (that’s why car-making employs so many people). There’s a point where even an old inefficient car is less energy and resource-intensive than a brand new car, just because the old car is old.

Gwen Ottinger put this best in the Washington Post: “Building a new car, washing machine or refrigerator takes energy and resources: The manufacture of steel, aluminum and plastics are energy-intensive processes, and some of the materials used in durable goods, especially plastics, use nonrenewable fossil fuels as feedstocks as well as energy sources.

Surely some old cars are better off replaced — whether for environmental or personal reasons. There is some evidence that many cars traded in would have been traded in anyway, with or without the government subsidy.

2. 30% of reusable clunker material is being junked.
By law, the government gives no cash until the clunkers is inoperable. By law, that means pouring sodium silicate — known as “liquid glass” — into the engine to render it lifeless. According to Time, that means 30% of the value of a car’s parts is lost, along with the energy and resources that went into making them originally. (It’s also led to an unexpected boom in sodium silicate chemical manufacturing, according to The Wall Street Journal, at an unspecified environmental cost.)

That’s a waste — even if the provision of the law is there for a reason: to stop the resale of polluting old cars, either here or abroad.

Does all this mean that the Senate should put an end to this popular program? Maybe not. Because the American people seem to be somewhat smarter than their elected representatives: Most are buying fuel-efficient cars, according to federal statistics reported by CNN Money — exceeding the demands of the law’s weak fuel efficiency requirements. The program is resulting in an average fuel economin increase of nearly 10 mpg per car, according to one estimate. Still, only two or at most five (if those new Honda Civics, Toyota Camrys and Ford Escapes are the hybrid versions) of the top 10 vehicles consumers are upgrading to are among the 14 2009 cars that get 30 mpg or better. And the average new vehicle purchased gets just 25.4 mpg — which is less than the government mandated average fuel economy (27.5 mpg) for the nation’s car fleet (and only slightly above the mandated fuel economy of 24 mpg for trucks and SUVs). It’s well shy of the recently approved fuel economy standards of 42 mpg for cars and approximately 26 mpg for trucks and SUVs, which are to take effect in 2016.

Maybe the Senate should wise up and learn from the successes and failures of the first Cash for Clunkers program. Before it renews the program, it should ensure that used cars and public transportation qualify for the same credit as new cars, that new cars purchased must meet more ambitious fuel economy standards and that more of the junked clunkers can be recycled and reclaimed. Then, it might be worth another $2 billion. If the program is extended, see how you can magnify your Cash for Clunkers value, for both your wallet and the environment.

COG or COA: Why Is Obama Morphing Into Bush 2?
by By Danny Schechter for OpEd News

Do the initials C.O.G mean anything to you? That acronym stands for Continuity of Government. We heard about it back in 2001 when Dick Cheney was taken to that undisclosed location just in case the White House went up in smoke again like it did in 1812 (Reference from the must see new Britfilm, “In The Loop”). The government’s main commitment in times of disaster is preserving itself. (God forbid that people find out that the country could go on without the government in its present humongous configuration!)

But who would have thunk that C.O.G would morph into C.O.A., (Continuity of Administration) with the Obamatons building rather than destroying the agendas they inherited?

Everyday brings news of the latest Presidential two-step: one step forward, one and a half steps back. Despite the loonies who denounce him as a Socialist (of the Kenyan variety, no less), the man at the top is about system maintenance more than system change. In policy after policy, he seems to feint left before moving right.

George Bush must be beside himself yukking it up as he smokes his doobies down in Texas, laughing at how the WHO were once again proven wrong. (He is now being quoted as calling his dog Barney the “son I never had.”)

Yup, many of us seem to have been fooled again. You betcha.

The only people who are not disillusioned are those who had no illusions to begin with. Isn’t it obvious that power may seem to reside in the White House but it is effectively constrained by the real power centers: a cautious Bureaucracy, an overblown Military, avaricious Big Industries and the fraud factories on Wall Street?

That’s where the clout is. That’s where most of the political donations came from. He ignores these complexes at his peril, although, alas, he already seems to share many of their assumptions and worldviews.

Iftekhar A. Khan, a scribe in Pakistan writes about this reality.

“Many who thought Obama would change US policies in Iraq and Afghanistan have been disappointed. Obama and Brown don’t formulate policies; reps of powerful interest groups do. How could Robert Gates, who outlasted Bush regime, take a U-turn on the AfPak strategy he himself devised? He has been at the centre stage of conceiving and planning the brutal military offensive Panther’s Claw in Helmand – Southern Afghanistan. Richard Holbrooke on the AfPak scene is another face for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.”

When I was coming of political age, I was influenced by the work of C. Wright Mills who wrote about the Power Elite as a permanent government of special interests and institutions. Building on that, a former President of SDS, Carl Oglesby, came up with a theorybook that discussed the war within and between those elites.

Oglesby saw the conflict in regional terms with the new wealth of the Oil Aristocracywho he called the Cowboys based in the Southern tier, battling the old wealth of Wall Street, powercrats he called The “Yankees.

Herb Calhoun describes his argument, set against the background of the assassinations of the 60’s as growing out of these elite conflicts:

“What all of these events had in common was that they were links in a chain designed to replace one set of power elite (members of the old moneyed “peace promoting” Eastern Yankee Establishment) with another (the Nuevo Riche and newly arrived, “progress through war” Western Cowboys). Thus it is argued here that the events connecting Dallas, Memphis, Watergate and the demise of the Hughes empire, are but threads in a common fabric, growing and evolving directly out of the systematic corruption of American politics and out of contemporary political realities.

“Altogether it is thus a seductive and believable theory that says as much about American political realities as it does about the events of Dallas, LA, Memphis and NY themselves. What Oglesby tries to do, and succeeds at it brilliantly, is expose the almost organic level of corruption in the structure of the political process…”

Well that corruption has not gone away as we watch the health insurance industry buy Democrats and Republicans alike, as we watch the news machine turn into the fear machine while the bankers turn the bailout billions into bonuses to enrich their already rich coffers. A study by NY State Attorney General Cuomo found that big banks took more out in compensation than they took in. If you call this looting, you won’t be wrong.

Calhoun calls it this way:

“… there is no free lunch even in a democracy. As in any other political system, in a democracy too the choice is between terror and tyranny, between Democracy and Fascism. These two poles of political existence cannot be finessed through laziness, exhaustion, or choosing to live in denial. Like all other political systems, democracy also exists on that tenuous sliver of ground that lies between these two poles; there are no angles left to be played. Those who somehow believe that benign tyranny “by their own favorite corrupt power elite” is the answer to terror, have failed to notice Oglesbys crowning point about the JFK assassination: that terror and tyranny are but opposite sides of the same corrupt coin: that tyranny is terror, just by another name, and by other more elaborate means.”

So where does this leave us?

Unfortunately, it’s back to where I came in, as a young activist who went “part of the way with LBJ” only to agonize as he escalated the Vietnam war, as a prisoner of the cold war anti-commie consensus.

Today, war on terror thinking is the new conventional wisdom even though we know that Iraq and Afghanistan are disasters. So why doesn’t he see it? The White House is just like Wall Street in that respect: when you are inside the bubble, you don’t know it’s there. You believe your own hype.

Military commanders are always promising victory, if only they get more troops and bigger budgets. That’s the game they play again and again. And even Stephen Colbert buys into the surge turned it all around myth.

Politicians also have to watch out for the long knives — from the bankers who want to scuttle financial reforms; the Arms manufacturers who don’t like to see profitable weapons systems like the F22 scuttled; the Health insurers orchestrating the hysteria against all reform; the General Electrics of the world who just paid $50 million to settle an accounting fraud case.

The media remains tethered to more heat than light even as the crazed commandos of the revanchist right won’t let any facts get in the way of their suicide mission. (I would like to see Beck’s birth certificate; was he born or cloned?)

Like millions, I was impressed with Obama and hoped against hope and history that he was THE ONE, that he would be different. While it’s too early to totally dismiss him out of hand after just six months in office, there is an all too familiar stench to what we are seeing. COA, not just COG!

The sad truth is, given what he has to deal with, and hard as it is to swallow, perhaps he can’t be all that different. His only ‘army” seems to be on Facebook and MSNBC.

The right is, of course, self destructive in banging that drum of polarization, while what’s left of the left refuses to recognize that what we are dealing with, and have to deal with, is a “System thing,” not just a case of another tarnished pol who said one thing and is doing another.

Could he have been elected if he hadn’t played the game? Could any of the other Dems won? I doubt it. Is a half a loaf, make that a quarter of loaf, better than no loaf at all? You tell me. It’s not as if the progressive movement was doing so great back in the Bush daze.

Nevertheless, continuity doesn’t make it for me. We need change.

Agree?

Oh yea, Happy Birthday Mr. President.

Mediachannel’s News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at newsdissector.com/blog. He is making a film on the financial crisis as a crime story.

Thoughts By the Way: Hood River
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.

A reprieve from my weekly arm wrestle with the forces of neo-evil came when a kayak trainer in Hood River invited me down for a visit. The occasion was the arrival of my niece, who is an accomplished white water kayaker, from St Louis to help with the summer season. Her job in St Louis is to convince little kids that learning songs can be more fun than annoying adults. Here in Hood River she shows adults how to enjoy boating with their head under the boat. Her employer in Hood River is the most extraordinary person I know.

My wife and I decided to make a trip of it and so washed off our old Get-Away van. That way, our host wouldn’t have to put us up. Besides, a shake-down cruise was in order because our daughter and husband would borrow it later in the month. The evening before departure, I filled the water tank and noticed it took a long time to fill. Going inside to check the hand pump my feet squished, because the tube from tank to hand pump had fallen off the pump. So when the tank got full it hadn’t caused the tell-tale backup. Below the little fountain under the sink lay the electrical center and the furnace. Next morning I told my wife that I had spilled a little water and we left.

We stopped in Tacoma for cash which turned on my wife’s auto-worry machine and she said, I’ll bet the tags are out of date. I said I always respond to the notices. She got out and looked and said the tags are a year out of date, we’re going home. I said I’d rather take a chance and besides, we are not going home. Just then I looked across the street and there was a license office just as I had thought. And so we got on Five, a bit late but happy. The plan was to get off Five at Woodland and bushwhack via Battleground so as to avoid high density signage and lane changing near Portland. We’d tried this particular dodge before and had gotten lost, but this time we had a better map. Still, the thing about Woodland is that Five has skewered it so there is no town center with signs. I went into a gas station convenience store looking for a native. There were two, from South Asia. But they were game, and rounded up a burly young fellow buying snoose. When he realized that I did in fact want to bushwack to Battleground he became thoughtful and spoke carefully. I got the part of that speech I needed which was turn at the AM-PM and go over the bridge. This was the start of a drive so lovely it almost made me reverse my long standing judgment that rural Washington is one big grubby stump ranch. We got lost only once and were rescued by the owner of the biggest second-hand store I’d ever seen. We were really late by then and so took the next on-ramp we came to. Finally in the Gorge, we called ahead and offered to take them out for supper. When we got there, our host had supper ready for us and wouldn’t let us sleep in the van. With all that water loose we accepted gratefully.

Later I’ll try to convey some of our host’s character, but for now a word about his cats. In the computer room, there is an automatic cat scooper. An infra-red eye waits for ten minutes after use upon which a comb deploys and slowly moves through the result. Upon reaching the end the comb rotates like a back hoe bucket and dumps into a tray. Then the comb moves back, restoring the level as it goes. When the cats hear it operating they run upstairs and watch. The fluffier of the two does this thing with the kitchen sink: it jumps up into the right-hand tub and waits for the spigot to be turned on. Out goes the tongue and lap, lap, lap goes the cat. By the rear patio door there is a pot of grass for the cats to chew.

Our host runs a white water kayak school located in the famed Gorge which for a lot of people I know is famed for its wind surfing. The wind usually blows upstream which causes a nice chop. We watched a hapless windsurfer taken back and forth across a line of fishnet floats, upstream when he was up and downstream wben he was down. Hood River, the town, has enlarged from a quaint foothold on the riverbank to a grotesque freeway town with a plugged core. I had never known better until this visit during which our host took us into the back country, the Hood River Valley. He drove us up to the head of the East Fork (and to famed Timberline Lodge) and back, so giving us a leisurely take on the orchards. This same route also leads to his cross-country ski trails. A sign in the country store we ended up visiting said that this valley ships more pears than any other US region. Our route through the orchards also marked his favorite cycling by-ways. I was taken by the feel of the place, a sense of properness. I also plied my trade, you could call it, which was to attempt a picture of this wonderful valley and the plugged city below as a civic unit that could put its two cents into the US debacle. This failed utterly. Instead I was overcome by the conviction that nothing but a national “St Helens moment” could free our country from its pin-striped masters.

Our host had retired from teaching high school to engage full time in what I’ll call celebration of manwoman giving himerherself completely over to nature. On flat water, waves, white water, snow, and trail, he presents with as few trappings as possible, and these few of the highest possible quality. More, the devotion is inclusive for he has gained a wide cadre of friends and students. You therefore can imagine the impact of losing his hips. Over a stretch of fifteen years his mobility decreased until three years ago he had to act. And it is here that for me his character emerged most visibly. Research showed that the standard US repair was total rebuild of the joints at a cost of forty thousand usd. More thorough research turned up a Belgian surgeon doing very satisfactory relines for twenty-five thousand usd. This then was the solution, but his Blue Cross would not pay for the reline, claiming that it was experimental. Self-employed, living by wit and skill, he went to Belgium out of pocket. The surgery was successful. He then submitted the claim to Blue Cross, and after some delay upon which he did not elaborate he was paid. Physical therapy to restore atrophied muscle now incurred more expense. “I made sure Blue Cross paid for that” he said with a wry smile. . I asked him what lubricated the joints. Bodily fluids, and sometimes they squeak he said

Following the tour of the Valley we lunched at a better than average Best Western on the Columbia where the antics of learning how to board sail had been observed and during which our host’s photographer fixed the broken roof vent on the Get-Away.

We got back to Vashon after dark. Next morning I took out the Get-Away’s carpet and opened up the kitchen cabinet. The front half of this fine particle-board cabinetry had been reduced to wet sawdust. Two days hence we are scheduled to camp on Whidbey for a wedding reception. Just now when I finish this report I’ll go finish the repair.

The finish is a weird feeling that in Hood River I’d been in the real world and that my two hours a day reading of war was an imaginary hell. I do not feel restored by the visit to Hood River. Instead I think I got a lesson which is that during big trouble people have to tend to living or they will go nuts.

Our Climate Crisis: Biofuels Chamber of Horrors
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 federal cap-and-trade bill passed by the House guts E.P.A biofuels regulations. Join our national campaign to defeat cap-and-trade in the Senate. Call me, write me, but contact me. We need your climate activism now!

The House bill, known as Waxman/Markey or the American Climate and Energy Security Act (ACESA), is hideous on a number of fronts. Its core is carbon trading that renowned climate scientist Jim Hansen calls our “Temple of Doom”.

But let’s focus now on how murderous ACESA is regarding biofuels. The House Agriculture Committee — the bastion of biofuelers who have owned Obama for years — made ACESA a true chamber of climate horrors. The Ag committee, representing constituents like huge biofuels maker Cargill, succeeded in rendering ACESA toothless in its regulation of biofuels. ACESA would prevent the E.P.A., as a fellow national campaigner said, “from considering indirect emissions from international land use changes to calculations of GHG emissions from U.S. biofuel production when it sets its renewable fuels standard.”

In a stroke, this clause denies the overwhelming biofuels science of the last several years.

That science tells us agrofuels— all of them— do two things by way of forcing indirect land use change:

1. Trigger rainforest and native ecosystem destruction releasing massive amounts of CO2 and greatly worsening our Climate Crisis, while it devastates species across the spectrum, including humans.

2. Trigger global hunger and starvation affecting hundreds of millions of humans by robbing land from food production.

We must defeat cap-and-trade in the Senate. Obama is working hard for its passage. He has promised to sign cap-and-trade legislation coming out of Congress. If cap-and-trade continues to prevail, all earth’s creatures are imperiled. All of us.

Join our national campaign now! We are climate activists coming together from across the country. We need you. Now!

Un-Spinning the Spin: Pollyanna Creep in Latest Job Report from Department of Labor
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

“Pollyanna Creep” is a phrase familiar to economists and statisticians and is credited to John Williams, an economic analyst and statistician from California, who “shadows” government statistics (see his website). Williams first used the phrase in a 2006 interview, stating the government “always footnotes the changes and provides all the fine detail. Nonetheless, some of the changes are nothing short of remarkable, and the pattern over time is what I call Pollyanna Creep.”

If Washington’s harping on weapons of mass destruction was essential to buoy public support for the invasion of Iraq, the use of deceptive statistics has played its own vital role in convincing many Americans that the U.S. economy is stronger, fairer, more productive, more dominant, and richer with opportunity than it actually is.  Harper’s Magazine

The recent job’s report from the Department of Labor is a good example. The much publicized “official” report is that the unemployment rate has dropped from 9.5 percent to 9.4 percent. With “Pollyanna Creep” the government is able to present “evidence” that we are heading out of the recession.

The actual data reveals quite a different story.

The number of unemployed 14 weeks or less is 6.79 million. The number of unemployed 15 weeks or more is 7.88 million. This number (7.88 million) is an increase of 74 percent since December 2008. One third of those 7.88 million have been unemployed for at least 27 weeks. The average in 2008 was 20 weeks; it is now 25 weeks.

The Department of Labor in their job’s report also does not include those who have stopped looking for work and those who are involuntarily working part-time. If it did include these figures, the correct unemployment rate would be 16.8 percent, not 9.4 percent as reported.

Just as John Williams said, the government “always footnotes the changes and provides all the fine detail.” The Department of Labor’s U-6 report has the actual unemployment rate of 16.8 percent cited above.

The BLS has six different regular jobless measurements—U-1, U-2, U-3 (the one routinely cited), U-4, U-5, and U-6. In January 2008, the U-4 to U-6 series produced unemployment numbers ranging from 5.2 percent to 9.0 percent, all above the “official” number. The series nearest to real-world conditions is, not surprisingly, the highest: U-6, which includes part-timers looking for full-time employment as well as other members of the “marginally attached,” a new catchall meaning those not looking for a job but who say they want one. Yet this does not even include the Americans who (as Austan Goolsbee* puts it) have been “bought off the unemployment rolls” by government programs such as Social Security disability, whose recipients are classified as outside the labor force.

If those “bought off the unemployment rolls” were included, 20 percent unemployment would probably be a more accurate number.

This manipulation of economic data started shortly after the inauguration of John F. Kennedy (1961). Since high unemployment numbers would not look good for “Camelot-on-the-Potomac,” the administration appointed a committee to recommend some changes in reporting. The result was those unemployed who gave up looking for job were labeled “discouraged workers” and excluded from unemployment figures.

Not to be outdone, the Clintonites used Pollyanna Creep in their statistical reports. Although previously excluded from unemployment figures, as stated above, these “discouraged workers” were still counted as part of the larger workforce. That changed during the Clinton administration (1994) when the Bureau of Labor Statistics “redefined the workforce” and only included those “discouraged workers” who had been actively looking for work for less than a year. Those looking for work for longer periods were not tallied into the monthly reports (“hidden unemployed”). The Clinton Administration also dropped the household economic sampling from 60,000 to 50,000, a disproportionate number from inner cities, resulting in the perception of reduced unemployment among Blacks and lower poverty figures. Pollyanna Creep at its best.

Unfortunately, as time goes on, unemployment insurance benefits will be lost to millions of jobless Americans. Already, Congress has voted for emergency extensions in states hardest hit by the recession, extending benefits for up to 79 weeks. However, as this recession continue, even this extension will be used up before many job seekers find new employment.

Tens of thousands of workers have already used up their benefits, and the numbers are expected to soar in the months to come, reaching half a million by the end of September and 1.5 million by the end of the year, according to new projections by the National Employment Law Project, a private research group.

Unemployment insurance is now a lifeline for nine million Americans, with payments averaging just over $300 per week, varying by state and work history. While many recipients find new jobs before exhausting their benefits, large numbers in the current recession have been unable to find work for a year or more.

Calls are rising for Congress to pass yet another extension this fall, possibly adding 13 more weeks of coverage in states with especially high unemployment. [Note: The present extension to 79 weeks is the longest period since the unemployment insurance program was created in the 1930s]  From Crooks & Liars

It is unfortunate that the American public is being misled by this manipulation of data.

As stated in the Harper’s article, “Transparency is the hallmark of democracy, but we now find ourselves with economic statistics every bit as opaque — and as vulnerable to double-dealing — as a subprime CDO.”

* Obama designated Austan Goolsbee as chief economist and staff director of the Presidential Economic Recovery Advisory Board, a newly created body. Goolsbee was also appointed to the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), which develops much of White House economic policy.

Resources used:

US Department of Labor, Table A-12. Alternative measures of labor underutilization

Open Left: 247K  Job Losses; Unemployment Rate Drops to 9.4%

Not as Bad, but Not Good – Floyd Norris Blog – NYTimes.com

Numbers racket: Why the economy is worse than we know By Kevin P. Phillips (Harper’s Magazine)

No Jobs In Sight and Unemployment Checks Running Out. Mr. President, Help Us! | Crooks and Liars

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 11, 1894: Federal troops forced some 1,200 jobless workers across the Potomac River and out of Washington, D.C. Led by an unemployed activist, “General” Charles “Hobo” Kelly, the jobless group’s “soldiers” included young journalist Jack London, known for writing about social issues, and miner/cowboy William ”Big Bill” Haywood who later organized western miners and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

August 14, 1941: In the German Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, a group of prisoners had been chosen by the camp’s commander for death by starvation. Roman Catholic Fr. Maximilian Maria Kolbe offered himself for death instead of one of the condemned because the man had a family he needed to be alive to support. Fr. Kolbe was put to death on this day by lethal injection following two weeks of starvation. Pope John Paul II declared him a Saint in 1982.

August 15, 1876: Congress passed a law to remove the Lakota Sioux and their allies from the Black Hills country of South Dakota after gold was found there. Often referred to as the “starve or sell” bill, it provided that no further appropriations would be made for 1868 Treaty-guaranteed rations for the Sioux unless they gave up their sacred Black Hills, or Paha Sapa. That treaty had granted them the territory and hunting rights in exchange for peace.

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.

Maryrose,

Thank you for your views on the use of the word “feminism” as one of the ten key values. I support your opinion on getting rid of the word altogether and substituting it with “gender equality”. to be truthful, I was second guessing even becoming a Green when I saw that feminism was one of the ten key values. I managed to see past the all to stereotypical male vision of a man hating woman burning her bra and focused more on and agreed with the other nine key values. It’s important nowadays that we pay attention to our wording and rhetoric in Green publishings, especially if we want to become a major gender equal party in political races. Thanks again.
~ Eric Neumeyer ~

Pencil Shavings: Tipping Points
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.

If you’ve followed the excellent articles by GT’s columnists — Tom Herring, Duff Badgley & Maryrose Asher — you must realize by now that we’re reaching several major tipping points. If we don’t change our ways fast, we will soon find ourselves on the downward slope toward dramatic climate change. If that wasn’t bad enough, our economic situation and the health care debate are nearing tipping points soon. In a matter of a few months to, maybe, a year or two, we may pass several points of no return.

In the “News You May Have Missed” section below, is an excellent — and very disturbing — article that indicates we are very near the tipping point in which American democracy becomes completely subsumed by a fascist state. I highly encourage you to read it.

To make matters even worse, both the left and the environmental movements in this country appear to be on life support. This is a most critical development because it means there is no counterforce to push back in any meaningful way. For all its promise and potential, the Green Party simply is too small, cash-starved and ineffectual to lead us back from the precipice.

We’ve moved far beyond the point of needing hollow symbolic victories (e.g., getting all excited because one of our candidates mustered 5% of the vote). What we need is a mass movement to stem the tide before the waves sweep us away permanently. Unfortunately, for the first time in my life, I no longer believe that this needed mass movement will materialize!

I feel like a passenger on the Titanic. Looming straight in front of our ship is a towering iceberg and the bow of our vessel is aimed right at it. We’re moving at top speed and I can see that we will slam smack dab into the berg unless we change course. I’m trying to get the captain’s attention, but the noise of the engines is drowning out my puny voice. All the while, we’re moving closer and closer to impact and almost no one has thought to get the lifeboats ready.

No, about the only thing the crew has done is to get the musicians out on deck, so we can all sing God Save the Queen when we sink to the bottom of the ocean!

News You May Have Missed

Still A Zero Sum, Two-Party Game
President Obama’s approval ratings are, as was probably inevitable in this type of economic climate, declining. The Democratic advantage in the generic congressional ballot is eroding (I see no reason to exclude Rasmussen from that average). Job ratings for congressional Democrats are also going down. Fewer Americans are self-identifying as Democrats, too…

Is the U.S. on the Brink of Fascism?
All through the dark years of the Bush Administration, progressives watched in horror as Constitutional protections vanished, nativist rhetoric ratcheted up, hate speech turned into intimidation and violence, and the president of the United States seized for himself powers only demanded by history’s worst dictators. With each new outrage, the small handful of us who’d made ourselves experts on right-wing culture and politics would hear once again from worried readers: Is this it? Have we finally become a fascist state? Are we there yet?…

The White House’s Bad Drug Deal
Obama’s sellout on health care is hardly any secret, but this week’s news of an outright backroom deal guaranteeing drug makers control over pricing is one for the history books. Even the Republicans didn’t lay down for big business quite like this…

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2 Responses to “August 10 – 16”

  1. […] caucus members have strong records of supporting the 12 bills making up the LGBT Equality slate. August 10 – 16 – greenertimes.wordpress.com 08/09/2009 Greener Times for the Week of August 10 – 16Volume […]

  2. […] fellow Democrats did enact the 787 billion economic stimulus, much remains undone: _Health care. August 10 – 16 – greenertimes.wordpress.com 08/09/2009 Greener Times for the Week of August 10 – 16Volume 4 No. […]

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