Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

Archive for September, 2009

September 28 – October 4

Posted by Trey Smith on September 26, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of September 28 – October 4
Volume 4 No. 24
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
* Obama Leaves Bush-Cheney Repressive Apparatus Standing
* New Mexico Utility Quits Chamber Over Its Climate Change Stance
* Thoughts By the Way: Wrong Word
* Our Climate Crisis: Direct Action Works
* Un-Spinning the Spin: The Assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: Part II of My Comments on “Third Party Folly”
* News You May Have Missed

Obama Leaves Bush-Cheney Repressive Apparatus Standing
by Matthew Rothschild, Editor of The Progressive

Civil libertarians cheered the election of Barack Obama, and with good reason. Bush and Cheney had trampled all over our rights and liberties. And as someone who taught constitutional law, Obama denounced the Presidential power grabs and pledged to address them.

But he hasn’t followed through on that pledge.

This week, the Senate is holding a hearing on the reauthorization of some expiring—and troubling–sections of the Patriot Act. The Obama Administration wants to reauthorize them nonetheless.

One of these is Section 215, which allows the FBI to slap National Security Letters on bookstores and libraries and thereby find out who has been checking out or buying which book. This is a violation of our right to privacy and to Free Speech, and Obama should know better.

Obama’s Administration is also making the outrageous claim that it can detain anyone it wants at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and then deny that person all access to due process and habeas corpus.

Nor has Obama made any move to rectify the blatant denial of due process that is embedded in the Military Commissions Act, which allows the President to designate anyone an enemy combatant and jail you. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, he can jail you as an “alien enemy combatant,” and you may never see a judge or a lawyer for the rest of your life.

Nor has Obama withdrawn National Security Presidential Directive 51, which gives to the President extraordinary powers over the other branches of government at every level in times of an emergency that he himself declares.

These examples strongly suggest that Obama doesn’t have the will to tear down the edifice of oppression that Bush and Cheney constructed.

As a result, we remain today a much less free country than we were eight years ago. And it looks like we’ll remain that way tomorrow.

Even if Obama doesn’t use these powers against us, a rightwing successor like Sarah Palin sure might.

This is one issue where libertarians and progressives need to get together on, in a hurry.

New Mexico Utility Quits Chamber Over Its Climate Change Stance
from e360

Another utility company is pulling out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its stand on climate change and its opposition to cap-and-trade legislation being debated in Congress. Calling climate change “the most pressing environmental and economic issue of our time,” the New Mexico-based utility PNM Resources announced it would not renew its membership at the end of the year. This comes a week after Pacific Gas & Electric, a major California utility, withdrew from the chamber over its climate change stance.

The chamber, the largest business group in the U.S., opposes any cuts in carbon emissions that would drive up energy costs, and it has been critical of President Obama’s call for tighter regulations. The organization also threatened litigation if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t revisit its findings on the effects of climate change. PNM officials said they would prefer to spend company resources working with groups that share their view on the need for “thoughtful, reasonable” climate legislation. “The climate change issue is so compelling, we felt it best to focus on those relationships that are productive,” said Don Brown, a company spokesman.

Thoughts By the Way: Wrong Word
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.

Buying insurance for your health is like buying insurance to stay out of jail. Health is not insurable. Health is something to be cared for that everybody deserves, and the providers have to be paid salaries. Therefore, as long as the debate in Congress is about health insurance, no good will come of it. Don’t take my word for it. A clear majority of Americans believe that the insurance industry is in “health care” for the money. Until I wised up, I myself was investing in health insurance profits by way of my Putnam mutual fund. We’re being had, memwomen, as long as the media supplies the lexicon.

From my perspective, as I sit on this pile of glacial till, I’m surrounded by single payer health care advocacy at every level of social organization. We have a group here on Vashon, there are groups in every city, a state group, and three national groups, all committed to reason. Yet open any newspaper, listen to any radio or television broadcast, and you hear “health insurance”. This week, for example, one of our two local newspapers caught my cynical eye with a long article justifying the role of insurance in health care. And the showcase, the avatar, of thinking inside the box is the Public Option. What’s this, “puts and calls” on stock in our bodies? We’re in the chute headed for the sledge on the head at which point we will still be wondering where we missed the turn to sanity. The great lesson we are not learning is that the Machiavelli types running the presses that print our money and our copy know how to control our thinking caps with us none the wiser.

If it’s clear that health care must not be placed in an insured category, and that instead should be paid for by tax, then in consequence the size of the tax base has to be studied. Here’s the question: can states or even counties, or even one smallish island, fund its own single payer plan? Tricky, tricky! Plan for what, that’s the question. If for basic, preventive care, then small can be adequate. On the other hand if for heart transplant, then a national tax would be needed. Well, we don’t see this tricky question in the present debate. Same point, different angle, we also do not see in the present debate the matter of forcing the food industry to stop pushing poisonous food-like substances©, nor the matter of breast cancer prevention. Gotta line up our health care ducks, menwomen, and the insurance duck goes at the back end, slipping and sliding on Congressional mud.

© Michael Pollan has also written An Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Our Climate Crisis: Direct Action Works
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.

Direct Action (DA) works. It opens doors. It makes friends. It changes behavior. It makes news.

Because of DA, I am speaking to 19 international energy experts next week about the global scourge of biofuels.

In March, 2009, we placed Seattle mayor Greg Nickels under Citizens’ Arrest for Biofuels Crime Against Humanity and Biofuels Crime Against the Earth. I jumped up on a stage where Nickels was speaking and served him our Arrest Warrant — and was dragged off by his police guard.

Six weeks later, the city of Seattle quit biofuels cold. Their fleet vehicles had been burning 73,000 gallons of soy biodiesel per month. NPR ran the story, including me leaping onto the stage with Nickels.

Last week, the Seattle office of the World Affairs Council — under the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program — invited me to “to discuss the biofuels resistance movement, highlighting the work of local organizations that has led to shifts in county and city-level policies regarding biofuels consumption by government organizations.”

I asked Jennifer Thorvig, Deputy Director of the International Visitor Program for the World Affairs Council, how she learned of me. “The news”, she said.

Precisely because of our DA, the World Affairs Council chose to invite me to speak before “19 energy policy experts from Europe, their 2 national program escorts, and 1 program partner from DC (22 people total)” on Thursday. I’ll have the chance to convince them that, yes, “biofuels are a global scourge”, as NPR quoted me.

I will display our BIOFUELS = “CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY” banner at the event. But I’ll be steeped in the science condemning biofuels, too. Rachel Smolker, PhD., will be helping me prepare.

It is tremendously heartening that Climate SOS, as well as One Earth Climate Action Group, is embracing DA as central to our climate activism. DA works.

Un-Spinning the Spin: The Assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

September 17 marked the 61st anniversary of the assassination in Jerusalem of Count Folke Bernadotte by the Zionist group Lehi, a Hebrew acronym for Lohamei Herut Israel, “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel” לח”י – לוחמי חרות ישראל. The British referred to this terrorist group as the Stern Gang after its founder Avraham Stern. It was also referred to by its English acronym LHI.

An account of the assassination was given by General Age Lundstrom who was in the UN vehicle:

In the Katamon quarter, we were held up by a Jewish Army type jeep placed in a road block and filled with men in Jewish Army uniforms. At the same moment, I saw an armed man coming from this jeep. I took little notice of this because I merely thought it was another checkpoint. However, he put a Tommy gun through the open window on my side of the car, and fired point blank at Count Bernadotte and Colonel Serot. I also heard shots fired from other points, and there was considerable confusion… Colonel Serot fell in the seat in back of me, and I saw at once that he was dead. Count Bernadotte bent forward, and I thought at the time he was trying to get cover. I asked him: ‘Are you wounded?’ He nodded, and fell back… When we arrived [at the Hadassah hospital], … I carried the Count inside and laid him on the bed…I took off the Count’s jacket and tore away his shirt and undervest. I saw that he was wounded around the heart and that there was also a considerable quantity of blood on his clothes about it. When the doctor arrived, I asked if anything could be done, but he replied that it was too late.

Ironically, before his appointment as United Nations Mediator on Palestine, Count Bernadotte, a Swedish diplomat and Vice-President of the Swedish Red Cross, was best known for securing the release of about 31,000 prisoners, many of them Jews, from Nazi concentration camps.

He is described as a “simple man despite his high birth,” “a crusading Don Quixote who liked to see the world as an arena where evil fought goodness and himself as an unbiased roving knight,” or just a “good, rather ignorant, man cruelly out of his element in the Middle East.”

After his death, Judah Magnes, American-born Hebrew University founder, wrote that Bernadotte had “done more to advance the cause of peace and conciliation in Palestine than all other persons put together.” Indeed, Bernadotte had been a strong advocate for the repatriation of the Palestinian refugees and had included a provision for the refugees in his formal plan completed the day before his murder. In his words, “These innocent victims of a needless conflict who should be assured the right to return to their homes, if they desire to do so.”

Months after his murder, Bernadotte’s plan was defeated in the UN, however the UN General Assembly approved Resolution 194 which declared “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live with their neighbors should be permitted to so so at the earliest practicable date.” To date, some sixty years later, this resolution has yet to be implemented.

As to those responsible for the murder of Bernadotte, following the death of Lehi’s founder Avraham Stern in 1942 Lehi was run by triumvirate of Israel Eldad, Yitzhak Shamir, and NatanYellin-Mor. It was Eldad, Shamir, and Yellin-Mor who led Lehi in its murderous acts of car bombings, kidnappings, and, in addition to the brutal assassination of UN mediator Count Bernadotte, responsibility for over 40 other assassinations.

Following Bernadotte’s assassination, Lehi was disarmed and, in 1949, Natan Yellin-Mor was tried and convicted for Bernadotte’s murder and sentenced to eight years in jail. However, he was instantly released and pardoned when elected to the first Knesset (1949-51). The shooter, Yehoshua Cohen later worked as David Ben-Gurion’s (Israel’s first prime minister) personal bodyguard.

Eldad throughout his life advocated for the “liberation” of the entire land of Israel as defined in the Bible. Since 2007, his son Aryeh Eldad heads up the secular right-wing Hatikva Party. Shamir continued his lethal career as head of Mossad’s assassination unit between 1956 and 1964 and went on to become Prime Minister of Israel from 1983-1984 and 1986-1992. Yellin-Mor, although initially vehemently against the Palestinian right of return, dedicated much of his later years working for reconciliation with the Palestinians and took part in negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), promoting the idea of a Palestinian State.

The first public admission of Lehi’s role in the assassination of Count Bernadotte was made on September 17, 1977, six years after the statute of limitations for murder had expired.

Quotes from resource material listed below
Folke Bernadotte – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [details Bernadotte’s official proposal]

Israel Independence Day on Virtual Jerusalem

Lehi (group) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness, a book by Adina Hoffman.

Arye Eldad to head new secular Right party | Israel | Jerusalem Post

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.

September 28, 1917: 166 people who were (or had been) active in the I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World, whose members were also known as Wobblies) were indicted for protesting World War I. They were accused of trying to “cause insubordination, disloyalty, and refusal of duty in the military and naval forces” in violation of the Espionage Act. One hundred and one defendants were found guilty, and received prison sentences ranging from days to twenty years, with accompanying fines of $10,000-$20,000. This was part of a successful U.S. government campaign to cripple the radical union movement.

October 2, 1967: Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, the first African American on the nation’s highest court. He was appointed to the Court by Pres. Lyndon Johnson who previously had appointed him Solicitor General, the legal officer in the Justice Department responsible for representing the United States before the Supreme and federal appellate courts. Marshall had been the lead attorney in the Brown v. Board of Education case which led to the end of legal segregation in the nation’s schools.

October 3, 1967: Folksinger/songwriter Woody Guthrie died in New York City at the age of 55. He had spent the last decade of his life in the hospital, suffering from Huntington’s chorea. Woody called his songs “people’s songs,” filled with stinging honesty, humor and wit, exhibiting Woody’s fervent belief in social, political, and spiritual justice.

Pencil Shavings: Part II of My Comments on “Third Party Folly”
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.

In the article “Putting Third Party Folly Into Historical Perspective” by Paul Rosenberg featured in the last edition, he writes,

The miserable state of the Democratic Party is due to the larger failure of our political system as a whole. We need to direct both critical attention and political organizing effort to altering the system as a whole, in order to create a different political context in which the Democratic Party can be significantly improved over its current pathetic state.

And who, pray tell, shares a lot of the blame for the “failure of our political system as a whole”? None other than Rosenberg’s supposed victim! It’s the Democrats who have taken the hardest turn to the right! It’s the Democrats who time and time again turn a blind eye to their own progressive base. It’s the Democrats who continuously turn their back on organized labor. And it’s the Democrats who now pull in as much special interest and corporate money as the GOP.

Please remember that it was potential candidate Barack Obama who said he supported the public financing of presidential campaigns and then, when he became the front runner, went back on his word and raised the largest amount ever for such a campaign!

Today, it’s the Democrats, not the Republicans, who pose the biggest threat to the passage of real health care reform. A lot of pundits opine that the only problem the Dems have is a lack of a spine — that they cave in to conservative demands too quickly and easily. To this I say, hogwash! The Dems are in the same boat as the GOP: they don’t want to tick off the health care industry that funds their party machines. And so, they keep offering watered down proposals that will keep the big moneyed interests happy.

It’s simply unrealistic to think that any type of grassroots pressure will turn the Democrats into something that they aren’t because the grassroots doesn’t possess the one thing a major party needs the most — money. Folks can send all the angry letters, emails and faxes they want to. They can scream and shout on talk radio. They can write a plethora of letters to the editor. At the end of the day, unfortunately, none of that translates into significant capital and that is the only currency either major party is concerned about.

Back in my Socialist Party days, one of the groups that Sen. Bernie Sanders still belongs to, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), was always chiding other Socialists to work within (not outside of) the Democratic Party to move the party to the left. This has been DSA’s strategy for the past 30 years and it is during this 30 year period that the Dems have consistently moved to the right. So, it doesn’t look as if this strategy is bearing ANY fruit whatsoever.

At this point in our political history, neither mainstream party is worth a steaming pile of crap. Both serve the same master and, here’s a hint, that master is NOT the public welfare. Personally, I don’t think there is ANYTHING we can do expressly p-o-l-i-t-i-c-a-l that is going to change this sorry state of affairs. (Electing different Democrats — supposedly more liberal ones — won’t do squat!) In other words, we need to stop employing the same losing strategies that we pull out of the closet each time either and/or both parties do something egregiously bad. Not only do we need to “think outside the box”, but we need to scrap the box altogether.

Next week I will offer some unconventional ideas for moving forward.

News You May Have Missed

The Sick Business of Health-Care Profiteering
It’s become a national pastime to bash Wall Street’s lavish pay packages, but as we enter the vortex of another health-care showdown, consider these overlooked facts: With median annual compensation of more than $12.4 million, C.E.O.’s at the big health-care companies make two-thirds more than their counterparts in finance and are the highest paid of any industry. The health-care industry’s total annual profit has grown to an estimated $200 billion, and it doled out nearly $170 million in campaign contributions in 2007 and 2008. It now spends more than any other industry lobbying the federal government—$3.5 billion over the past decade and a record $263 million in the first six months of this year. That’s six lobbyists and nearly half a million dollars for each member of Congress. It’s been a good year on K Street, too…

G20 Disappoints on Climate
Hopes for a significant breakthrough on climate change at the G20 were dashed Friday with the issuance of a final communique that was even more underwhelming than the drafts that leaked earlier in the week. The final statement from the leaders called for greater focus on climate change, but included no new specific commitments. “We underscore anew our resolve to take strong action to address the threat of dangerous climate change,” said the statement…

World Consumption Plunges Planet Into ‘Ecological Debt’, Says Leading Thinktank
Rich consumers are still voraciously gobbling up the world’s resources, despite the worst recession in a generation, with their appetite pushing the planet into “ecological debt” from today, according to a report by think-tank the New Economics Foundation (NEF). This “ecological debt day” marks the point in the year when consumption around the world exceeds the Earth’s annual “biocapacity” — so for the remainder of the year, we will be eating into environmental resources that will not be replaced, according to NEF’s calculations. Andrew Simms, NEF’s director, said the deep recession had delayed this “ecological debt day” by only 24 hours compared with last year…

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Posted in Greener Times | Comments Off on September 28 – October 4

September 21 – 27

Posted by Trey Smith on September 19, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of September 21 – 27
Volume 4 No. 23
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
* Stop Begging Obama to Be Obama and Get Mad
* Putting Third Party Folly Into Historical Perspective
* Thoughts By the Way: Questions
* Our Climate Crisis: Tour Succeeds! Tour Fails!
* Un-Spinning the Spin: H1N1 Vaccine Available This Fall
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: My Comments on the “Third Party Folly”
* News You May Have Missed

Stop Begging Obama to Be Obama and Get Mad
by Chris Hedges for Common Dreams

The right-wing accusations against Barack Obama are true. He is a socialist, although he practices socialism for corporations. He is squandering the country’s future with deficits that can never be repaid. He has retained and even bolstered our surveillance state to spy on Americans. He is forcing us to buy into a health care system that will enrich corporations and expand the abuse of our for-profit medical care. He will not stanch unemployment. He will not end our wars. He will not rebuild the nation. He is a tool of the corporate state.

The right wing is not wrong. It is not the problem. We are the problem. If we do not tap into the justifiable anger sweeping across the nation, if we do not militantly push back against corporate fraud and imperial wars that we cannot win or afford, the political vacuum we have created will be filled with right-wing lunatics and proto-fascists. The goons will inherit power not because they are astute, but because we are weak and inept.

Violence is a dark undercurrent of American history. It is exacerbated by war and economic decline. Violence is spreading outward from the killing fields in Iraq and Afghanistan to slowly tear apart individuals, families and communities. There is no immunity. The longer the wars continue, the longer the members of our working class are transformed by corporate overlords into serfs, the more violence will dominate the landscape. The slide into chaos and a police state will become inevitable.

The soldiers and Marines who return from Iraq and Afghanistan are often traumatized and then shipped back a few months later to be traumatized again. This was less frequent in Vietnam. Veterans, when they get out, search for the usual escape routes of alienation, addictions and medication. But there is also the escape route of violence. We risk creating a homegrown Freikorps, the demobilized German soldiers from World War I who violently tore down the edifice of the Weimar Republic and helped open the way to Nazism.

The Afghanistan and Iraq wars have unloaded hundreds of thousands of combat troops, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, back into society. According to a joint Veterans Affairs Department-University of San Francisco study published in July, 418,000 of the roughly 1.9 million service members who have fought in or supported the wars suffer from PTSD. As of August 2008, the latest data available, about a quarter-million military veterans were imprisoned on any given day-about 9.4 percent of the total daily imprisoned population, according to the National GAINS Center Forum on Combat Veterans, Trauma and the Justice System. There are 223,000 veterans in jail or prison cells on an average day, and an unknown number among the 4 million Americans on probation. They don’t have much to look forward to upon release. And if any of these incarcerated vets do not have PTSD when they are arrested, our corrections system will probably rectify the deficiency. Throw in the cocktail of unemployment, powerlessness, depression, alienation, anger, alcohol and drugs and you create thousands, if not tens of thousands, who will seek out violence the way an addict seeks out a bag of heroin.

War and conflict have marked most of my adult life. I know what prolonged exposure to industrial slaughter does to you. I know what it is to confront memories, buried deep within the subconscious, which jerk you awake at night, your heart racing and your body covered in sweat. I know what it is like to lie, unable to sleep, your heart pounding, trying to remember what it was that caused such terror. I know how it feels to be overcome by the vivid images of violence that make you wonder if the dream or the darkness around you is real. I know what it feels like to stumble through the day carrying a shock and horror, an awful cement-like despair, which you cannot shed. And I know how after a few nights like this you are left numb and exhausted, unable to connect with anyone around you, even those you love the most. I know how you drink or medicate yourself into a coma so you do not have to remember your dreams. And I know that great divide that opens between you and the rest of the world, especially the civilian world, which cannot imagine your pain and your hatred. I know how easily this hatred is directed toward those in that world.

There are minefields of stimulants for those who return from war. Smells, sounds, bridges, the whoosh of a helicopter, thrust you back to Iraq or another zone of slaughter, back to a time of terror and blood, back to the darkest regions of your heart, regions you wish did not exist. Life, on some days, is a simple battle to stay upright, to cope with memories and trauma that are unexplainable, probably unimaginable, to those seated across from you at the breakfast table. Families will watch these veterans fall silent, see the thousand-yard stare, and know they have again lost these men and women. They hope somehow they will come back. Some won’t. Those who cannot cope, even by using Zoloft or Paxil, blow their brains out with drugs, alcohol or a gun. More Vietnam veterans died from suicide in the years after the war than during the conflict itself. But it would be a mistake to blame this on Vietnam. War does this to you. It destroys part of you. You live maimed. If you are not able to live maimed, you check out.

But what happens in a society where everything conspires to check you out even when you make the herculean effort to integrate into the world of malls, celebrity gossip and too many brands of cereal on a supermarket shelf? What happens when the corporate state says that you can die in its wars but at home you are human refuse, that there is no job, no way to pay your medical bills or your mortgage, no hope? Then you retreat into your private hell of rage, terror and alienation. You do not return from the world of war. You yearn for its sleek and powerful weapons, its speed and noise, its ability to abolish the lines between sanity and madness. You long for the alluring, hallucinogenic landscapes of combat. You miss the psychedelic visions of carnage and suffering, the smells, sounds, shrieks, explosions and destruction that jolt you back to the present, which make you aware in ways you never were before. The thrill of violence, the God-like power that comes when you can take a human life with impunity, is matched against the pathetic existence of waiting for an unemployment check. You look to rejoin the fraternity of killers. Here. There. It no longer matters.

There is a yawning indifference at home about what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. The hollow language of heroism and glory, used by the war makers and often aped by those in the media, allows the nation to feel good about war, about “service.” But it is also a way of muzzling the voices that attempt to tell us the truth about war. And when these men and women do find the moral courage to speak, they often find that many fellow Americans turn away in disgust or attack them for shattering the myth. The myth of war is too enjoyable, and too profitable, to be punctured by reality. And so these veterans nurse their fantasies of power. They begin to hate those who sent them as much as they hate those they fought. Some cannot distinguish one from the other.

As I stared into the faces of the men from A Gathering of Eagles on Saturday at a protest calling for the closure of the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia, I recognized these emotions. These men had arrived on black motorcycles. They were wearing leather jackets. They had lined up, most holding large American flags, to greet the protesters, some of whom were also veterans. They chanted “Traitors!” at the seven people who were arrested for refusing the police order to leave the premises. They sought vindication from a system that had, although they could not admit it, betrayed them. They yearned to be powerful, if only for a moment, if only by breaking through the police line and knocking some God-hating communist faggot to the ground. They wanted the war to come home.

It is we who are guilty, guilty for sending these young men and women to wars that did not have to be fought. It is we who are guilty for turning away from the truth of war to wallow in a self-aggrandizing myth, guilty because we create and decorate killers and when they come home maimed and broken we discard them. It is we who are guilty for failing to defy a Democratic Party that since 1994 has betrayed the working class by destroying our manufacturing base, slashing funds to assist the poor and cravenly doing the bidding of corporations. It is we who are guilty for refusing to mass on Washington and demand single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. It is we who are guilty for supporting Democrats while they funnel billions in taxpayer dollars to sustain speculative Wall Street interests. The rage of the confused and angry right-wing marchers, the ones fired up by trash-talking talk show hosts, the ones liberals belittle and maybe even laugh at, should be our rage. And if it is not our rage soon, if we continue to humiliate and debase ourselves by begging Obama to be Obama, we will see our open society dismantled not because of the shrewdness of the far right, but because of our moral cowardice.

Putting Third Party Folly Into Historical Perspective
by Paul Rosenberg in Open Left

Today’s national Democratic Party is a piece of shit. As avante-guarde photographer Duane Michals was fond of saying, “Tell me something I don’t know.” That’s a necessary, but hardly sufficient reason for legitimating national third party activism. To successfully argue for such an alternative, one must, at a minimum, meet two other conditions:

(A) Demonstrate some minimum likelihood of success.
(B) Demonstrate a greater likelihood of success than other alternative strategies offer.

The argument of this diary is simple: (1) Requirement (A) simply cannot be met-and so, (2) to distract attention from that inevitable failure, national third party advocates focus on (B), and hope that nobody notices the flaw in their logic. But (3) the arguments for (B) are flawed as well, because they depend on the miserable state of the Democratic Party-as if that were an inherent, endogenous feature of the Democratic Party itself.

However, I argue, that is not the case at all. (4) The miserable state of the Democratic Party is due to the larger failure of our political system as a whole. We need to direct both critical attention and political organizing effort to altering the system as a whole, in order to create a different political context in which the Democratic Party can be significantly improved over its current pathetic state.

Logically, only (1) is needed to effectively refute the logic of national third party organizing. However, I’m not nearly so naive as to believe this is a matter of logic. Still, it’s worth noting before going any further. Logic matters for its own sake, even if one must also convince those who are beyond its reach. And so I begin….

(1) National third parties can be deemed to succeed in one of two ways — either they elect a government (president and working majority of Congress), or they influence one or both major parties to significantly change their politics to include the goals that third party is organized about. Neither of these forms of success is the least bit plausible at the this time.

(1a) The only time that national third parties have come to power has been when one of the two major parties utterly disintegrated, which has happened just twice, with the demise of the Federalists circa 1820, and the demise of the Whigs in the mid 1850s. Although both parties are looking pretty messed up at present, there is simply no parallel to what happened to the Federalists or the Whigs. Things might be different a few years down the line, but for now it’s purely a pipe dream.

(1b) The only time that national third parties have pressured the two major parties into modifying their policies in any significant degree has been when they were built on much broader political movements. But the problem we face right now is precisely that of turning a range of progressive tendencies into a coherent movement. So, again, this strategy might have some historical precedent going for it several years down the road, but it would be putting the cart way before the horse to engage in national third party activism today on this basis.

Indeed, I am all in favor of devoting significant energy to movement-building. One reason I’m so down on third-party building is that I see it as a distraction from movement-building. That could change at some point in the future, but history suggests that’s a remote possibility, at best. Successful movement-building is something much more within our own control and grasp.

(2) As noted above, logically, that closes the book on national third-party organizing at this time. It can’t succeed, ergo it’s a waste of effort at best. But third-party advocates distract our attention to arguments over the second necessary condition-if they can convince us that the Democrats are so bad that it’s hopeless, then maybe they can con us into third-party organizing, because nothing could be as bad as that…even if it’s doomed to fail. Rhetorically appealing to the martyr in all of us, it’s an argument devoid of logic. Doomed to fail is doomed to fail. End of story.

(3) But worse, they take the current state of the Democratic Party as a given. And that totally misses the whole point. Our framework for organizing should not be the Democratic Party, but America as a whole, if not the world. Change the larger reality in which the Democratic Party exists, and you change the party. This is what conservatives did with the Republican Party. Of course they could never have succeeded if the national Democratic Party hadn’t reluctantly embraced civil rights, and thus left millions of Southern Whites eager to switch parties.

But that only further demonstrates the capacity of movements to change parties fundamentally. And that is where our efforts ought to be directed. First, build the movement, then build the infrastructure to transmit the movement’s influence to the party. That’s a logical sequence, not a temporal one. We don’t have to wait five years or even five months to start thinking of how movement-building can impact the party, and even use it for further movement building. We just have to realize that building the movement is logically prior to any party activism. That’s what sets us apart from those who identify primarily as party activists.

(4) As I claimed above: “The miserable state of the Democratic Party is due to the larger failure of our political system as a whole. We need to direct both critical attention and political organizing effort to altering the system as a whole, in order to create a different political context in which the Democratic Party can be significantly improved over its current pathetic state.” How do we do that? I have no magic bullet. But there are an abundance of potential options that can be woven together into a larger whole. Last weekend, in “Building, Not Splitting Ourselves In Response To Democratic Disappointments” I suggested three of them:

(1) Promote the development of geographical community blogs covering local politics and informed by a wide range of progressive alternatives, whether about urban planning, local food security, environmental justice, etc. The more that daily newspapers disappear, the more important such blogs will become.

Because they would be locally-focused, they would draw a much larger audience of people who do not self-identify as activists, yet who could be mobilized to take important actions at crucial times. They would help develop sets of locally-recognized experts who do not depend on the existing power structure for their legitimation. At the same time, they would also be fora in which established organizations that are public service-orientated can have their influence amplified, and interact with the larger community of concerned citizens….

(2) This is an old idea I had, which got enthusiastic, but short-lived support: Establish a structure of locally-based groups, affiliates and individual activists to work collaboratively with a national polling project to do sophisticated issue polling to counter conventional wisdom. An example would be polling on health care in Blue Dog districts to counter Versailles narratives about “Blue Dogs just voting their districts.” The model I proposed would have local activists & organizations hold local press conferences and rallies in tandem with the release of the polling data.

By itself, this would be a significant undertaking, even we were to get the national backing, say, of Change to Win and/or the AFL-CIO. However, if we already had a `national network of community blogs in place, it would not be much harder to do this on a weekly basis than the current DKos/Research 2000 poll….

(3) Nationwide neighborhood councils. About 25 years ago, I was part of a loose group of activists primarily on the West Side of LA who were agitating for the creation of local neighborhood councils to enhance democratic self-governance, and counter the untrammelled power of developers and other commercial interests. It went nowhere. But over a decade later, a much more establishment — though still distinctly progressive — effort succeeded in establishing such councils as part of city charter reform.

LA’s neighborhood councils are still far from perfect vessels, and are far from realizing their full potential. Yet they have substantially improved the civic character of Los Angeles, and have inspired a wide range of people to begin developing more ambitious ideas for enhancing democratic self-governance. If such councils were a universal feature of American public life, people would come to take for granted the kind of close-to-home, democratic, realworld problem-solving functions they fulfill….

The aim of presenting these three suggestions is not to say, “These are the answers we have been looking for!” Rather, it is spur our collective thinking along lines that are different from simply reacting to what exists by duplication, opposition, contradiction, etc. If we can find ways to enrich and enhance enough different non-hierarchical ways of organizing, then we can have a chance of outflanking the hierarchies that have dominated us for so long.

It is only from a powerfully decentralized network of associations that we can hope to create a party system-either a new third party or the capture of the Democrats-that will not soon turn against us, soon turn into the same sort of unresponsive hierarchical entity as the one we struggle against today.

Thoughts By the Way: Questions
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.

Larry Summers was seen on PBS Friday and this is close to what he said, pounding on each word: “It is wrong that the Government has to choose between bailing out Wall Street and chaos.” I chewed a while on the paradox of evident truth being spat out by one complicit in the bailout. The camera left him before he could wipe the crocodile righteousness off his face and confess. Finally, I sorted out the paradox by realizing he had lied. The Government had to make no such choice, because last fall there had been a public option: nationalize the banks. Anyway, the rest of the News Hour’s financial reporting addressed efforts to limit Wall Street misbehavior, and this entailed reports on certain markets flying high under the SEC radar. What hit me about then was the tacit assumption at PBS that those markets exist for the public good.

Gee, we have to accept that the stock market has a proper role in industry, but we do not have to accept same for the bond market, the derivatives market, the hedge funds, nor that under the radar “mole” market that Gretchen Morgenson skewered. ( I missed the title, for her consonants got lost somewhere in that generous mouth.) No, we do not have to accept the financial sector as a productive member of the US economy. It’s not a member, it’s a huge leech sucking on the productive members. So why do we let nice people like gentle Judy Woodruff frame our coffins? And why didn’t Judy remind her audience that this was the same Larry Summers at Harvard who thought women were not suited to mathematics and science? And suggest to her audience that this person’s opinions on anything should be taken with a grain of salt? We wonder about the range of Summers’ intellect, whether upon hearing that he would have made the connection between the origin of that phrase and what he had spat. To be fair, few people do know of the origin, but it is not unreasonable to expect extraordinary feats from the great mind that can interpret Creation for the rest of us. The nimble Google and the all-seeing Wikipedia, here bring us the origin:

Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, 77 A.D. translates thus:
After the defeat of that mighty monarch, Mithridates, Gnaeus Pompeius found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own handwriting; it was to the following effect: Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day.

Poisons indeed. I have a question. I would like to know whence came this tacit acceptance by PBS of a rogue financial sector into our democracy, not to mention liberty to pass on a deliberately misleading news bite.

Now that I’ve upset myself thinking about questionable Larry and compliant Judy, here’s a real question. Does anybody think US society will survive the eruption of violence in South Asia? A leading question, sorry, I’ve wandered off the point. So, does anybody think violence in South Asia will be contained long enough so that climate disaster will do the job instead? Oops, another prediction posing as a question. I seem unable to form a proper poll question. Final try: do you think the United States will survive in its present social and political form at least another ten years? Now that’s a fair question.

Fair but rhetorical. Here’s my answer: there is little hope to be found in our daily grist of graft, corruption, double talking, hypocrisy, weapons sales to poor countries, construction of detention centers and laying of legal basis for them, stiffing the poor to make sure they are too weak to revolt, bombing Muslim civilians by remote control, hijacking of health care by humanoids, little hope that we will be intact at ten year’s time. The generative reason seems to me simple: the rich are not stupid, they know better than we do how soon events beyond anyone’s control will take over, and are doing whatever needs to be done to make sure they keep the high ground. If it means the US per se, goes under, so be it, machts nicht, hip som hop. Larry Summers and his harem of compliant women, notably excluding Morgenson, have placeholders in the high ground

But still, there is hope. Of course there is hope. I see on the web, courtesy of NYC CAN, the people who are trying to bring a new investigation of 9/11 to a vote, that victory is near! There is a ton of justice riding on their success. Can you think of anything sweeter?

Our Climate Crisis: Tour Succeeds! Tour Fails!
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 Tour succeeded beyond my expectations in engaging folks close to key senate decision-makers, decision-makers who will determine if the U.S. starts to lead the world in climate laws and behavior or continues our wanton ways. We made strong local connections with activists in Arkansas and Ohio. For two weeks, we have been right where we need to be. I’m glad we did the Tour.

But…

The Tour failed to close the vast distance between political expediency and the planet’s laws that govern all life on earth. If we fail to close this distance, we are doomed.

Jobs. Agriculture. Coal.

Whatever the local name, political expediency is the game. Meaning, what will it take to re-elect Senator XYZ? This is a recipe for climate ‘cataclysm’ about which Jim Hansen warns us. What if Sherrod Brown or Blanche Lincoln or Mark Pryor or Evan Bayh or Richard Lugar or Kent Conrad or Byron Dorgan or Ben Nelson said, “I’m not running again. I’m following my conscience and the science. I’m doing what I know the planet needs now.”?

It’s not impossible.

Look at Richard Lugar’s career. For more than 25 years, Lugar has championed nuclear disarmament. The conference room in his Indy office is festooned with blown-up photos of Lugar in the Soviet Union (from the 1980s) and Russia negotiating mutual reductions of nuclear weapons between the U.S. and Russia. Every creature on Earth owes Lugar a debt of gratitude for this visionary work. But Lugar is the same man who promotes global ruin by tirelessly pushing biomass and biofuels. “The Lugar Energy Initiative” is his group shilling biomass and biofuels.

What gives? Corn is King in Indiana is what gives. Corn (ethanol) means jobs. Corn means money. Corn means happy farmers driving their corn ethanol-fueled tractors. Corn means votes. And if so much money can be made and so many votes can be bought is such a short time with biofuels, why let’s keep right on rolling with biomass, another Lugar favorite.

Lugar wins. The Earth loses. Lugar as world-saver is made possible by Indiana voters not making a lot of money from nuclear weapons manufacture. Lugar is freed to follow his conscience. Lugar as planet-ruiner is brought to you by huge amounts of money being made from biofuels and (soon) from biomass.

So, non-oppositional Touring can be strong and effective — but alone will never roust the business-as-usual set. But SOS teams this friendly approach with NVCD and other oppositional tactics. These strategies shout “We are in climate emergency! The time for business-as-usual is past!”

Now, maybe, maybe, maybe, we have a shot at bringing about the sea-change we needed yesterday.

Un-Spinning the Spin: H1N1 Vaccine Available This Fall
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the H1N1 vaccine coming to a doctor’s office near you this fall.  Will the government mandate flu vaccines in preparation for an H1N1 flu pandemic this flu season?  Will martial law be instituted to quarantine sectors of the country where outbreaks occur?  Does the flu vaccine itself carry the risk of a serious neurological side effect, namely Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Cursed with an overactive imagination, I have another theory for you to mull over as you savor that second cup of java while reading this week’s Greener Times.

What if the government is using the vaccine as a cover to find out who is with them and who is against them?  Those most likely to be malleable in thought and obedient to authority, and, hence, least likely to create a fuss or, heaven forbid, an actual rebellion, will dutifully line up.  Those who get the vaccine will then be protected when the government releases the H1N1 virus.  The more independent thinkers, least likely to fall for government propaganda, will then fall ill with the virus, some dying, others forcefully “quarantined” from the rest of the population.  Perfect way to “cull the herd,” don’t you think?

Now, as with all conspiracy theories, there is no real answer.  You have to decide for yourself whether to get the vaccine or not.  But, here are the three possibilities:  (1) the H1N1 pandemic threat is the real deal and the vaccine will protect you, (2) it is not real but in order to survive the intentional biological release of the H1N1 virus by our own government you should get vaccinated and, hence, outsmart them, or (3) decide this is all phooey from the get go and take your chances.

An article by Mary Ann Benitez, “Medics split on having swine flu jabs amid side effect fears,” in The Standard (Hong Kong’s free English newspaper), dated August 27, 2009, reported that only 47.9 percent of research participants said they would be vaccinated.  The study included 2,255 doctors, nurses, and other health care workers in Hong Kong public hospitals and was conducted after the World Health Organization had raised the alert of a possible H1N1 pandemic to a 5 rating (top).

Infectious disease specialist Lo Wing-lok, who was not involved in the study, said the fear could have been sparked by incidents involving a small number of nurses at public hospitals who suffered neurological complications after receiving the seasonal flu vaccine in recent years.

“The health-care workers are very knowledgeable about side effects and concrete examples have occurred all over the world. So the mistrust of pharmaceutical products is explainable and reasonable,” Lo said.

Despite having been vaccinated against seasonal flu each year, Lo said he would shy away from the H1N1 flu vaccine now on trial in the West and the mainland.

“I read about the history of the 1976 swine flu vaccine [which killed scores of Americans] and I believe a lot of political pressure is behind the latest [global] H1N1 vaccine campaign.”

Most revealing, and backing up my theory, is that the study reported those choosing the vaccine did so for two reasons:  the “wish to be protected” and “following health authorities’ advice.”   Those opposed to the vaccine stated “fear of side effects” and “doubts about efficacy.”

Perhaps we should heed the Chinese proverb, “A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion.”

Resources cited:

Medics split on having swine flu jabs amid side effect fears – The Standard

Public Health – Seattle & King County has developed a 12-page comic book on pandemic flu in multiple languages. Targeting readers of all ages, this story tells the tale of a family’s experience with the 1918 influenza pandemic. It also explains what to expect in a severe pandemic and offers tips to help households prepare. NOTE: At the time this comic book was written, no vaccine was available for a pandemic. However, vaccine development for H1N1 is currently in development and is expected to be available in the fall of 2009. This publication was created in anticipation of a severe pandemic similar to the one in 1918. The H1N1 pandemic is not expected to be this severe.

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.

September 22, 1985: The first Farm Aid concert, organized principally by Willie Nelson, was held with more than 50 musicians raising $9 million for debt-ridden U.S. farmers.

September 25, 1961: Herbert Lee, a farmer who worked with civil rights leader Bob Moses to help register black voters, was killed by a state legislator, E. H. Hurst, in Liberty, Mississippi. Hurst claimed self-defense and was acquitted by a coroner’s jury the same day as the killing. Lewis Allen, who witnessed the shooting, said otherwise, and was himself murdered two years later.

September 27, 1967: An advertisement headed “A Call To Resist Illegitimate Authority,” signed by over 320 influential people (professors, writers, ministers, and other professional people), appeared in the New Republic and the New York Review of Books, asking for funds to help youths resist the draft.

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.

SILENCING OF DISSENT
by swaneagle harijan

The spirit of resistance is being smothered under the corporate blanket of fascism. Progressive movements must recreate the united front that Utah Phillips articulated from his seasoned, lifelong perspective of struggling for justice. We must keep the lines of truth clear regardless of serious loss of freedom of the press and airwaves. Tho a stupor of inactivity seems to have gripped this country, know that the human drive for authentic justice is busy everywhere good people are involved in activating solution.

Loss of Local Media
It has been disheartening listening to KCBS, a local progressive radio station, as programmers are canned replaced with mainstream propaganda from Public Radio. (I have come to hate “The Takeaway” with John Hockenberry that replaced an earlier Democracy Now! and Drivetime Jazz. DN! is on later.) Talk about mainstream propaganda… Seems that everything around here is going down. How will people keep struggling as their efforts are increasingly disappeared? The reasoning is that listeners are being lost to the internet. Makes me wonder what the hell about people who do NOT have internet access?

Seattle lost the Post Intelligencer recently, which was no radical rag but printed more relevant news than the Seattle Times does. It is more and more difficult to find publications that truly are grassroots. Even the Olympia Food Coop has mostly slick publications in their magazine rack these days. Just pray Left Bank Books in the Pike Place Market doesn’t capitulate. We need the voices of resisters more than ever.

IndyMedia is very important due to it’s inclusion of voices struggling for authentic peace and justice with the usual smattering of right wingyness.

Loss of Van Jones
Then we have the tragedy on display in Washington DC with Obama caving in regularly to the well armed, right wing dominators from health care to the forced resignation of wonderful, solution oriented Van Jones.

My friend CeCe Weeks, a pioneer in the disability rights struggles in Berkeley, encouraged me to connect with Van Jones when he was still working in the Ella Baker human rights center. I never did, but have seen his valiant voice for Green Justice appear in most publications furthering awareness around global warming, organic food, pollution sickening and killing far too many people in ghetto communities as well as establishing a firm presence of African American perspective where it had never appeared before. He was instrumental in pushing the voice of people of color into visibility among white environmental activists.

Until his resignation, i did not know that Van Jones was the force behind the Green Jobs the Obama administration seemed to be advocating.

Here is a link to Starhawk’s outrage at what has been done to Van Jones.

Odd that he signed the 9/11 Truth petition when many of those in that movement are some of the most virulent racists in this country. Interesting how the right continues successfully wooing the left in the face of oblivious activists. Even Howard Dean signed it. Takes extra effort to check the depth of organizations that put up a veneer of progressiveness. Tho 9/11 raises many disturbing questions, we have to develop crap detectors that effectively tease out the bigots while adhering to a policy of authentic truth, peace and justice rather than excluding target groups, such as migrants or homosexuals, as unworthy.

9/11 Truth and Militias
It is purposely not easy to assess the 9/11 Truth movement accurately without hours of effort that most people simply don’t have. (I just immediately recognized the template of the militia movement when i first encountered 9/11 Truth not long after the Twin Towers fiasco due to my first hand encounters with their public efforts where i lived in Stevens County in the heyday of Richard Butler’s Aryan Nations and Militia of Montana.)

So we are facing a level of fascism never before seen in the known span of human existence. We are losing the earth rapidly to rising waters in places like Bangladesh where people live on strips of mud as ocean salt water drowns their rice fields. No where to go. 20,000 people. Yet those who deny global warming often are those who appeared at the meetings on health care well armed. As anti government as the new militia movement still appears, be aware that such people are not honest or open about their true agendas. Their greatest fear is the loss of control by white males. Those who carry these beliefs tend to have stockpiles of weapons beyond sanity. I know. Some of them were my less than secretive neighbors. It is my belief that along with growing gangs, the well armed racist right are the amerikkkan death squads. I have been researching and following their antics for over 20 years.

Many who serial kill homeless, prostitutes, migrants, homosexuals, abortion providers, African Americans, Indigenous, Hispanics and other voiceless marginalized peoples have ties to the extreme racist right, fundamentalist Christians and a spectrum of variations on a bigoted, over armed theme. Here is a link to an article about this I wrote 5 years ago.

US teenagers recruited by cartels as assassins
Now Mexican drug cartels are recruiting US teenagers as assassins. The spreading of insanely violent greed is nothing to ignore. The failure of US society to prioritize youth is so blatantly evident. As the poorest of the poor are further pushed away from education, decent work and hope, their children are left with joining the military or joining US trained, armed and backed cartel gangs rapidly forming all over the world.

Ciudad Juarez is now considered the most violent city on earth with 1300 murders already this year.

If legalization were the route taken, much would be done immediately to pull the rug out from the cartels who rely on American addiction for their mega profits. Addicts could be openly treated for their illnesses rather than criminalized. Stopping all funding for the so called Drug Wars as well as all weapon exports to Mexico is essential. Putting an end to NAFTA, giving land back to Mexican farmers, supporting Indigenous and peasant rights to customary livelihood is a life and death reality. WE KNOW WHAT CAN BE DONE AND MUST ENACT WHEREVER WE ARE!!!

I believe we must come together based on stopping all war and calling for basic human needs being met as inalienable human rights. The extreme right wing is only getting stronger and bullying it’s way to further oppression against all who strive for a healthy, just society.

Pencil Shavings: My Comments on the “Third Party Folly”
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.

In this week’s edition, we decided to run a rather controversial article by Paul Rosenberg in Open Left. In said article, Rosenberg submits that a) it’s pointless for third parties to run national campaigns and b) the Democratic Party is not to blame for its own egregious behavior. While I think he may be right in the first instance, I think he’s way off-base in the second instance.

I will discuss the first part of my analysis this week, the second part next week and then finish up this series in week #3 with my recommendations for moving forward.

My involvement with third party politics became serious in the mid-90s when I joined the Socialist Party on both the state and national level. Over the next few years, I served as the Oregon party’s Chairperson and, later, State Treasurer as well as one term as the National Treasurer. I ran for public office twice — US Rep & Governor — on the Socialist Party ticket.

In 1999, the Socialist Party & Pacific Party merged to become the Pacific Green Party of Oregon. I was immediately hired to be the State Treasurer for the new party and I also served a term on the State Coordinating Committee. I ran for office one more time for a nonpartisan seat on Salem’s local transit board — I almost won too, losing only 52% – 48%.

Upon moving to Washington, I joined GPoWS and served as State Treasurer for two terms.

During most of this time, I knew in my heart of hearts that our candidates — me included — didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning a meaningful race. In most every race beyond the local level, our candidates were lucky to claim as little as 5% of the vote. What motivated me to keep on “trying to slay the dragon” was the hope that one or more of our candidates might impact a race. By impact, I mean one of two things: a) Scare the crap out of the Democratic Party candidate or b) “Cause” the Democrat to lose under the assumption that the number of votes cast for the Socialist or Green Party candidate would have gone to the Dem (who had narrowly lost the campaign).

As much as I hoped for this latter outcome, it never came close to materializing. The few times one of our candidates garnered OVER 5% of the vote always occurred in a race in which our candidate was the sole opposition or the ultimate vote tally by the winner was by such a large majority that our vote total was meaningless. In the end, each time we trotted out a candidate, we did it because “that’s what political parties do” more than anything else. Despite all of our rhetoric about possessing a mathematical chance of winning or at least impacting the race, deep down most of us knew that neither was true.

On a national and federal scale, we have even a lesser chance of having any kind of impact than we do in state races. Our one best chance came in 2000 with Ralph Nader & Winona LaDuke as our standard bearers and, despite the fact both energized the Green Party base, they registered barely a blip on the national radar!

Regrettably, I find myself in agreement with Rosenberg on this point. While the Green Party may have an outside chance of impacting local races (and I’m not convinced that’s even possible), all we end up doing by fielding candidates for any other race is to waste what little money we have as well as most of our human capital. It should be noted that we seem to lose more members than we gain as the result of each election season.

The reason we seem to lose more members than we gain is twofold. First, many party stalwarts along with the new blood work tirelessly and contribute needed funds to our candidates. After all their dedication, it is a complete downer when those same candidates fail to effect even the smallest of impacts in their races (almost always through NO fault of the candidates themselves). The party faithful has invested so much for so little return. Completely disheartened, many take a needed break or give up entirely.

The second reason we seem to suffer a membership letdown after the campaign season is that we really don’t have anything substantive or tangible to offer between electoral seasons. We have few, if any, people in office. We don’t have the resources to do much lobbying and we haven’t been involved in very many progressive movements. So, the new people who signed on as the result of our campaigns slowly melt away due to boredom. We have nothing to offer to keep them engaged until the next [losing] campaign season.

News You May Have Missed

In Annual Melt, Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Third-Lowest Point Ever Recorded
The annual summer melt in the Arctic is done, as ice begins to accumulate. And while 2009 didn’t break the record set in 2007, it continued a trend of excessive melting that has exceeded scientific expectations for the effects of global warming. This year marks the third-lowest extent of ice ever recorded, after 2007 and 2008. Satellite records date to 1979, but ice cores and other data indicate that the rate of melting is unprecedented and can only be explained by the heat-trapping accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere…

Why I Still Oppose Genetically Modified Crops
For the past dozen years, I’ve been writing editorials opposing the introduction of genetically modified crops. When I began, genetically modified corn and soybeans were still just getting a foothold in American fields. Now, of course, hundreds of millions of acres here and abroad have been planted to these new varieties, which are usually engineered to withstand the application of pesticides — pesticides usually made by the same companies that engineer the seeds. Even wheat and rice producers, latecomers to the genetically modified table, are feeling the pressure to convert…

A President Was Killed the Last Time Right-Wing Hatred Ran Wild Like This
That being John F. Kennedy, who was gunned down in Dallas, of course. I’ve been thinking a lot of Kennedy and Dallas as I’ve watched the increasingly violent rhetorical attacks on Obama be unfurled. As Americans yank their kids out of class in order to save them from being exposed to the President of the United States who only wanted to urge them to excel in the classroom. And as unvarnished hate and name-calling passed for health care ‘debate’ this summer…

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