Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

December 27 – January 3

Posted by Trey Smith on December 27, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of December 28 – January 3
Volume 4 No. 37
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
* For Your Consideration…
* Thoughts By the Way: The 2010 Elephant
* Our Climate Crisis: Two Heads of the Hydra
* From Where I Stand: The Central – and at times lethal – Contradiction in Modern Law Enforcement
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: What to Do?

For Your Consideration…
Plants and Animals Race for Survival as Climate Change Creeps Across the Globe
Global warming creeps across the world at a speed of a quarter of a mile each year, according to a new study that highlights the problems that rising temperatures pose to plants and animals. Species that can tolerate only a narrow range of temperatures will need to move as quickly if they are to survive. Wildlife in lowland tropics, mangroves and desert areas are at greater risk than species in mountainous areas, the study suggests…

The Rational Case For ‘Kill The Bill’
It’s important though, to note, that the Howard Deans and Jane Hamshers of the world neither want LITERALLY to destroy President Barack Obama’s domestic agenda in a fit of ideological pique, nor do they want to consign millions of uninsured Americans to their deaths. In fact, they desire the opposite: more Americans safely insured, and more electoral success for Democrats — the kind that comes when Democrats actually keep their promises. You want to talk about people who are, in fact, high on drugs? Let’s talk about the Democratic strategists and their journalistic enablers who believe letting down the base is a good thing…

For Obama, No Opportunity Is Too Big to Blow
Contrary to countless reports, the debacle in Copenhagen was not everyone’s fault. It did not happen because human beings are incapable of agreeing, or are inherently self-destructive. Nor was it all was China’s fault, or the fault of the hapless UN. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but there was one country that possessed unique power to change the game. It didn’t use it. If Barack Obama had come to Copenhagen with a transformative and inspiring commitment to getting the U.S. economy off fossil fuels, all the other major emitters would have stepped up. The EU, Japan, China and India had all indicated that they were willing to increase their levels of commitment, but only if the U.S. took the lead. Instead of leading, Obama arrived with embarrassingly low targets and the heavy emitters of the world took their cue from him. (The “deal” that was ultimately rammed through was nothing more than a grubby pact between the world’s biggest emitters: I’ll pretend that you are doing something about climate change if you pretend that I am too. Deal? Deal…)

Compulsory Private Health Insurance: Just Another Bailout for the Financial Sector?
The health reform bills now coming through Congress are not focused on how to make health care cheaper or more effective, how to eliminate waste and fraud or how to cut out expensive middlemen. As originally envisioned, the public option would have pursued those goals. But the public option has been dropped from the Senate bill and radically watered down in the House bill. Rather than focusing on making health care affordable, the bills focus on how to force people either to buy health insurance if they don’t have it, or to pay more for it if they do. If you don’t have insurance and don’t purchase it, you will be subject to a hefty fine. And if you do purchase it, premiums, co-pays, co-insurance payments and deductibles are liable to keep health care cripplingly expensive. Most of the people who don’t have health care can’t afford to pay the deductibles, so they will never use the plans they are forced to buy…

The Coming Climate Panic?
One morning in the not too distant future, you might wake up and walk to your mailbox. The newspaper is in there and it’s covered with shocking headlines: Coal Plants Shut Down! Airline Travel Down 50 Percent! New Federal Carbon Restrictions in Place! Governor Kicked Out of Office for Climate Indolence! The only thing your bath-robed, flip-flopped, weed-eating neighbor wants to talk about over the fence isn’t the Yankees, but, of all things … climate change. Shaking your head, you think: What just happened?…

Thoughts By the Way: The 2010 Elephant
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.

There is an elephant in the room with its scat on the floor, yet talk is constrained to the merits of this or that way to clean up. This metaphor will serve to get me over a case of writer’s block, so please allow its moderate use. Before commenting on the myopia, let’s listen in. Health care has been modeled after car insurance which means its purpose is repair. Therefore the Senate bill is a step in the wrong direction and is not worth scat. Climate measures so demanded by the poor, low countries have been brushed off chiefly by US intransigence which, in turn, has boxed in China. War is the only theatre of action in which the US is exerting, ah, leadership. As Iraq lies prostrate, the oil companies move in for the kill. Pakistan, already racked by tension with India, is being bombed by US drones. Afghanistan has acquired a super war lord in US uniform disbursing uncounted funds in an effort to establish control for its favored natural gas pipeline route, the TAPI. Iran is the remaining independent oil resource which puts it in line for the next US offensive. Militarization of Africa and Colombia proceeds apace. Financial regulation is being written by the ghosts of Wall Street now ensconced in the government.

The cleanup crews are chasing symptoms. Examples range from the major concerns just noted and disasters like the Dr Tiller murder, to the naïve, like opposing wolf hunts or promoting gay rights legislation. If you accept that critical areas of concern are not improving, you will agree that a major cause is lack of focus: the elephant is bigger and stronger than any coalition so far, and ever likely to be, under the present desperate strategy of scattered crews going after scat.

Here then: Something with the strength of an elephant is killing America’s avatar, yet Americans don’t see it. Blind, we flail at shadows.

And off we go. The elephant quite obviously is the globalized version of Eisenhower’s Complex and, as night follows day, it follows that the United States must disarm. You got it, disarming has to precede burying the money establishment, or gaining climate control, or single payer health care. Secondly, the message has to penetrate the Pentagon like that fabled 9/11 flight. Some details in these regards follow.

Disarm the ICBMs, return the warheads to their elemental components, and fill their 450 silos with cow manure. Scrap the bombers and fighters and, after elementing their nuclear tips (see foregoing), scrap the Tridents. Scrap the Navy and the Air Force. Scrap the tanks, drones, and helicopter gunships. Destroy the biological, chemical, white phosphorous, napalm, land mine, and sonic weapons. Cancel all sales of war materiel overseas. Close the School of the Americas. Immediately begin ordered retreat of uniformed and mercenary personnel from all overseas military bases. Empty the black prisons. Schedule closure of all bases in the US and turn national defense over to the National Guards. Institute two years of compulsory national service for all males.

“Disarm” mutual distrust and dislike between factions in the Opposition by redesigning opposition strategy in a way that can deliver the Disarm America message to the administration. There shall be a march to occupy the District of Columbia in which the marchers leave behind all affiliation. They shall go undistinguished in any way beyond their natural cultural dress. There will be no information nor objects on their persons that could provide to the police any clue as to the purpose of being there. They will simply be there. The disarm message will be conveyed by, um, let me think. E-mail? The goal is one million marchers with no limit and with participation by citizens of all origins. Zionists will be indistinguishable from Quakers.

Anybody who thinks this suggestion is naïve is urged to come up with a better target or a better strategy. And be quick about it.

Our Climate Crisis: Two Heads of the Hydra
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.

Government and corporations are two heads of the polluting Hydra.

They act in concert. When we resist one, we affect the other. Government support for false solutions is a good example. The smashing early grassroots success of the Massachusetts No Biomass Burn movement shows how government can be forced to blunt corporate ruin of our forests, our wildlife, our water, our air, and our health.
My friends in Massachusetts have gathered more than 103,000 signatures in a petition-drive to stop five biomass incineration plants in their state. They have forced their cause onto the state ballot in 2010 if the Massachusetts legislature does not act on it first.

One the Massachusetts folks recently wrote:

“… these bio-monster plants are popping up like mushrooms on a wet Seattle day all over the country and are being fast-tracked today and something major needs to be done now to pull these massive public subsidies which are propelling us to eco-cide through incentivized deforestation.”

Copenhagen was a game-changer. The Climate Summit showed the bare-fanged destruction the transnational corporations and their colluding clients — our governments — have planned for Our Shared Planet Earth. We must do things differently now, or lose the Livable Earth. It’s time to take off our gloves.

Copenhagen was crucial because it united global government leaders with their corporate handlers. Copenhagen would not have dominated international news for a week if it had been a conference of only corporate polluters — although still a worthy target for us. The climate activist community focused on Copenhagen precisely because both government and corporate polluters were present.

The Arrest Warrant for Barack Obama, coming on the heels of the Chaos at Copenhagen, gives us a splendid chance to ‘crack open the skulls’ of the climate justice movement and radicalize it — while sending shudders through the corporate/government globe-ruining system.

Accusing Obama of murderous acts is strong stuff. It’s supposed to be. A friend recently said it well, “…sometimes it takes startling terms to help us see things in a new light.”

But the Arrest Warrant is startling only because we have forgotten how we stopped a war.

A chant from the Vietnam War Protest era:

“Hey! Hey! LBJ!
“How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?”

More than 40 years ago, we were not afraid to call our president a murderer — a child murderer. Fueled by slogans like this, and by visceral fury, mass protest forced Lyndon Johnson into retirement and forced the end of the Vietnam War.

Barack Obama is a smoother-talking Lyndon Johnson. Johnson pushed murder as government policy. We got rid of Johnson. We stopped that war. We changed the behavior of the ruling corporate/government elite that demands continual war to boost our economy. What will we do with Obama and his corporate handlers and their campaign to visit mass death on Planet Earth?

Where’s our fury today?

From Where I Stand: The Central – and at times lethal – Contradiction in Modern Law Enforcement
“From Where I Stand” is a revolving column currently featuring the writings of Swaneagle Harijan and Dr. Richard Curtis. If you’d like to get in on the act and contribute to this feature, contact editor Trey Smith.

The Central – and at times lethal – Contradiction in Modern Law Enforcement
by Richard Curtis, PhD

Yet again, an armed – and mentally ill – person has ambushed law enforcement officers with lethal consequences (in this latest case to the perpetrator; luckily both officers survived, although one is still in critical care). Law enforcement is aghast and uneasy, for obvious reasons. But, we as a society are none too keen to really look at those reasons.

Obviously we have far too many guns in our society. This can only cause chaos and one wonders if the “gun-nuts” are really just nuts and so don’t get it, or is there some evil at work funding these groups, some evil that profits from chaos.

Guns are not the source of the problem; they just allow the problem to take lethal form. The actual problem has to do with the nature of law enforcement in modern society – which is worsened by economic difficulties. We have traditionally conceived of law enforcement in mythic terms. Law enforcement enforces a moral order it does not create (the rules come from someone other than them, i.e. the legislature).

It may not seem this way on the surface, but what I just wrote is not really true, or even possible in practice. This is the central contradiction in law enforcement and, at crisis points, it takes lethal form. We cannot resolve this contradiction and that is a problem. It is a problem that we don’t want to admit and yet must.

The contradiction is that modern values, dominant since the late 1700’s, view ethics as universal (police enforce laws) but the mythic ideals in which police are imagined and experience are rooted farther back in the past when ethics were not universal (virtue was loyalty to someone, usually the prince or king). The ideal the police occupy in our imagination, and theirs, is that of Knights – loyal and honorable (now somehow loyal to an abstraction, the moral order). Both sorts of values are important, but they contradict and can become a crisis when things go wrong.

When one interacts with the police, they have power that is both de jure (sanctioned by universal principle encapsulated in law) and de facto (they have guns and the power of the state). Even when we are in the wrong, we are aware of both (that is the contradiction). We feel the legitimate power of the state and the actual power of the gun that exists, regardless of its use.

When this power is used illegitimately (or felt, rightly or wrongly, to be so) people come to feel the power of this contradiction. The police are felt to be creating an immoral order, instead of enforcing a moral one. This is the contradiction reaching a crisis. Ironically, it cannot be completely avoided due to the nature of modern society. Even when that power is used legitimately, it can create what feels like a contradiction of its purpose (that universal moral order).

When the contradiction becomes profound in a person, it becomes a crisis. People who have been abused by the system feel the full force of this contradiction (people who witness those incidents or hear about them feel it to varying degrees). To be honest, our judicial system works most of the time, but spectacularly badly enough that we cannot call it fair. This is the contradiction as it exists for us now. Most of us manage this fine, in part because we feel we cannot change it and more importantly have some sense of the part of the contradiction that actually cannot be resolved. People with mental illness cannot mange many things the way most do, and so it is with this. The reason someone would target random police officers is because this contradiction, now crisis, is felt to be systemic and not individual – and that is not a rational response, but it is predictable.

People are complex. Life is complex. Still, I believe these crises are avoidable. They are not easily avoidable as the causes are deeply rooted and multifaceted, but they can, with effort and planning, be avoided. Our task now is to try, before more innocent people die just for wearing a uniform.

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

December 29, 1890: The U.S. Army killed approximately 300 Oglala Sioux at Wounded Knee, in the new state of South Dakota. The 7th Cavalry (Custer’s old command) fired their artillery amidst mostly unarmed women, children, and fleeing men. The Wounded Knee Massacre was the final major military battle in the genocide against Native Americans. 18 soldiers received Congressional Medals of Honor for their “bravery.”

December 30, 1936: Members of the United Automobile Workers sat down at a General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan. GM, the world’s largest corporation at the time, had refused to recognize or negotiate with the union, despite passage of the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) in 1935 which promised unions the right to organize. The local’s membership adopted a tactic developed by French workers. Instead of picketing outside a factory only to be ignored or forcibly cleared away, the sit-down strike enabled workers to halt production and seize the plant “from the inside.” The strike began just days after the end of a successful sit-down at Ford supplier Kelsey-Hayes.

January 2, 1975: A U.S. Court ruled that John Lennon and his lawyers be given access to Department of Immigration and Naturalization files regarding his deportation case, to determine if the government case was based on his 1968 British drug conviction, or his anti-establishment comments during the years of the Nixon administration. On October 5, 1975, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the order to deport Lennon, and he was granted permanent residency status.

Pencil Shavings: What to Do?
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.

The news coming out of Washington and beyond is bleak. Heath care reform offers little reform. Financial bailouts of corporate criminals continues unabated. Americans continue to march off to “war,” with many coming home in body bags and even more coming home with maimed bodies and minds. On issue after issue, the powers that be muck up every opportunity to craft legislation and policy that would benefit the mass majority.

What to do?

There is no singular answer, but there IS one answer that simply is not tenable — doing nothing!!

There is talk of resurrecting the Green Party of Washington State (GPoWS). I will not be part of that process, but more power to those who desire it. Some people are talking about setting up a PAC to support progressive candidates, regardless of party affiliation. I say, go for it. Others are committed to direct action and I tip my hat to them. In the end, it doesn’t really matter to me what each individual chooses to do to advocate for progressive change…before it’s too damn late. The only thing that DOES matter is that we each choose something.

If not, there is no hope and, where there is no hope, there is death.


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