Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

Archive for January, 2010

January 25 – 31

Posted by Trey Smith on January 26, 2010

Greener Times for the Week of January 25 – 31
Volume 4 No. 41
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: Haiti
* Our Climate Crisis: Fight Biomass Burning
* From Where I Stand: Planting Doubt
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: Beyond Labels

For Your Consideration…
Foe of EPA Carbon Rules Is Top Recipient of Industry Contributions

A U.S. senator from Alaska who is leading the fight to block federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions is also Congress’ top recipient of campaign contributions from the nation’s electric utilities, according to a new report. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who holds a key position on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, received $157,000 from the electric utilities industry last year, the highest among U.S. lawmakers, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Since 2005, she has received more than $244,000 from the industry. The Washington Post has reported that a lobbyist for two major utility companies helped Murkowski craft a 2009 amendment that would have blocked the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act…

What Massachusetts Got Right
The president got creamed in Massachusetts. No amount of blaming this disastrous outcome on the weaknesses of the local Democratic candidate or her Republican opponent’s strengths can gainsay that fact. Obama’s opportunistic search for win-win solutions to our health care concerns and our larger economic problems is leading to a lose-lose outcome for the president and the country. The two issues that mattered on Election Day were the economy, which Obama has sold out to Wall Street — as quite a few disgruntled voters pointed out — and his plea to save health care reform, which the voters who had backed him for the presidency with a huge majority now spurned. It is significant that it was the voters of Massachusetts who have now derailed the Democrats’ efforts to revamp the country’s health care system by denying them the necessary 60th vote in the Senate, for these voters know the subject well. The federal proposal is based on their own state’s model requiring people to obtain health insurance without the state doing anything to effectively control costs through an alternative to the private insurance corporations. Lacking a public option, the cost of health care in Massachusetts, already the highest in the nation at the time of the plan’s implementation, has spiraled upward. Services have been curtailed, and many, particularly younger people, feel they are being forced to sacrifice to pay for a system that doesn’t work…

For Sen. Patty Murray and Democrats, Voter Anger is Wild Card
Sen. Patty Murray has ample reasons to expect to keep her job for six more years. In three previous elections, the Washington Democrat vanquished experienced Republican foes by comfortable margins. This year not a single high-profile opponent has stepped up to challenge her yet. The half-dozen Republicans seeking her seat include a chiropractor, a real-estate broker and an NFL player-turned-alfalfa farmer…But though no one is predicting Murray’s defeat in the fall, the potential for voter backlash nationally against Democrats could be a wild card in her race. What normally might be her biggest edge — her status as a senior member of the party in power — could prove a handicap among some voters…

George W. Obama
Before President Obama, it was grimly accurate to write, as I often did in the Voice, that George W. Bush came into the presidency with no discernible background in constitutional civil liberties or any acquaintance with the Constitution itself. Accordingly, he turned the “war on terror” over to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld—ardent believers that the Constitution presents grave obstacles in a time of global jihad. But now, Bush’s successor — who actually taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago — is continuing much of the Bush-Cheney parallel government and, in some cases, is going much further in disregarding our laws and the international treaties we’ve signed…

Haitians Dying by the Thousands as US Escalates Military Intervention
Thousands of Haitians are dying every day for lack of medical care and supplies, according to a leading humanitarian aid group. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has announced that it is expanding the US military presence in the country, maintaining Washington’s priority of troops over humanitarian aid. The US-based medical aid group Partners in Health has warned that as many as 20,000 Haitians may be dying daily due to infections such as gangrene and sepsis that have set in, as the majority of the injured receive no medical care or are treated in facilities that lack the most basic supplies…

Thoughts By the Way: Haiti
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.

For the past one hundred years US banks and corporations aided by our government have systematically impoverished the people of Haiti. Farmers have been forced into bankruptcy by dumped US agricultural products, and sweatshop labor earns 28 cents an hour. Enforcement has been supplied first by US Marines then by Duvalier’s Tonton Macoutes, then by puppet regimes brought in by the CIA. Two elected presidents have been deposed by the US for trying to raise the minimum wage. Yet Hilary Clinton has the gall to block aid traffic for three hours so she can stand on Haitian soil and tell the Haitians how much the US wants to help.

For those who may be caught with their checkbooks open by that revelation, make sure the money goes directly to local organizations in Haiti. Jesse Hagopian knows first hand what’s going on there.

Ted Rall and Greg Palast have written primers on Haitian impoverishment and brutality. One number: Eighty percent of world aid to Haiti has gone into the pockets of the Duvaliers and subsequent puppets. Another number, armed militia of one stripe or another have murdered somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 Haitians.

Deaf to Hilary’s speech the Navy is blockading Haiti to keep escaping people from reaching the US shore. Also deaf, the Army apparently has sent no aid but has sent armed soldiers to keep Haitians from helping themselves to whatever they can find. The NY Times reports that the World Food Program finally was able to land flights of food, medicine, and water on Saturday, after failing on Thursday and Friday, an official with the agency said. Those flights had been diverted so that the United States could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety.

The French minister in charge of humanitarian relief called on the UN to “clarify” the American role amid claims the military build up was hampering aid efforts.

Benjamin Dangl writes: “US corporations, private mercenaries, Washington and the International Monetary fund are using the crisis in Haiti to make a profit, promote unpopular neoliberal policies, and extend military and economic control over the Haitian people.”

Iceland, China, and Cuba responded before the US. The primary US disaster responder, FEMA still has sent nothing. And what about us, menwomen? The upstanding community of Vashon steadfastly maintains a see no evil stance regarding US callousness abroad, here in Haiti, there in Gaza, what a list by now, yet upon visitation of Haiti by Nature we come all weepy and generous to its aid. Sound familiar? Facebook it, US foreign policy has been hijacked by Ike’s bogeymen. We know it but cannot openly admit that we know, and so we weep, shell out, and keep quiet.

How much longer are we going to pretend that we have a national government? That the national bank is necessary? That the Defense Department defends anybody? That the Supreme Court believes in the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus and the Magna Carta? Or that God ever blessed America? How much longer?

Our Climate Crisis: Fight Biomass Burning
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.

Biomass burning is coming to Washington State. With it comes devastation of our forests, our wildlife, our water, our air — our climate. Join us as we engage our Killer Culture in another battle we must win, if humans and All Creatures are to have a chance at a Livable Planet.

Join us, please, in our fight against four Washington State biomass incineration pilot projects that will spew carbon emissions worse than coal into our air. Join us, please, in our fight against two bills in the Washington legislature that will throw the full weight of state government on the side of biomass burning devastation. The WA Department of Natural Resources is already a key biomass incineration supporter and mastermind of the four biomass burning pilot projects.

These projects and bills, if enacted, will throw open state-owned forests to industry for gathering of wood — either fallen tree parts left from logging, or whole trees — to burn in biomass incinerators. But the effects of burning wood from our forests will be enormously harmful. They include:

1. CO2 much greater than from burning coal will be released further worsening our climate crisis. Wood burning generates 50% more carbon dioxide than coal. Biomass burning releases about 3,300 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt, while coal releases 2,100 pounds.

2. Biomass energy endangers our health. Biomass releases dioxins, and as much particulates as coal burning, plus carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and contribute to ozone formation. Pollution from a biomass burner is often the source of numerous health ailments.

3. Biomass is not carbon neutral. It takes decades for new forest growth to capture the carbon that is released by trees consumed in a biomass burner. We need to reduce large scale carbon emissions now, not in 50 or 100 years as forests sequester carbon over decades.

4. Biomass energy creates far more CO2 with far less energy output than other energy sources. Wood is not nearly as concentrated a heat source as coal, gas, oil, or any other fossil fuel. Most biomass energy operations are only able to capture 20-25% of the latent energy by burning wood.

5. Biomass burning devastates our forests and wildlife. One mid-sized biomass incineration plant planned for Burlington, Vermont would devour 32,500 acres of forest each year if it ran at full capacity entirely on wood. Biomass burning also strips the forest floor of woody debris essential to wildlife habitat and nutrient-rich soils the trees need. Almost one million gallons of cooling water per day are sucked from adjacent rivers or streams to cool a large-scale biomass burner. 85% of the water is lost as steam. The rest of that heated water is dumped back into our streams and rivers where it threatens to kill temperature-sensitive fish.

6. Biomass burning costs jobs by reducing the amount of pulp wood needed by plywood, furniture and other forest products industries. Fewer raw materials, fewer jobs.

7. Biomass burning rips money from other clean energy programs. Biomass burning qualifies in most states and by federal regulation for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), thus diverting federal and state subsidy money intended to move us away from fossil fuels. Programs like wind and solar power have less funding.

8. Biomass incineration-produced energy costs more than coal energy. When subsidies are counted, biomass energy can cost as much as .16/kwh, compared to coal-produced energy around .07/kwh.

Join our campaign now. Time is short. NO BIOMASS BURN!

Parts of this article were excerpted or adapted from “Why Biomass Wood Energy is Not the Answer” by George Wuerthner and published by Counterpunch on January 12, 2010.

From Where I Stand: Planting Doubt
“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.

Planting Doubt
by Richard Curtis

I study religion and have always been close to Judaism. It is the religion about which I know the most. I know from years of study that the things one hears anti-Semites say are really quite ridiculous, when they aren’t dangerous.

Shortly after 9/11 people started noticing that what we were being told didn’t make sense. Steel doesn’t melt at the temperature jet fuel burns. People gathered and talked, and over time a movement was born. Virtually from the beginning, people in the movement talked about Israel. Here it is vital to know that “Israel” is a concept as much as it is a place. As a concept, it functions in a variety of roles, some of them ridiculous. As a place, it has this really awful and racist government. You have to pay attention to whether someone means the idea or the place.

In this case, they talked specifically about the place, but the content sounded a lot like the ridiculous stuff. There are people out there who believe that Israel was responsible for 9/11. If that does not strike you as one of the silliest things you have heard, then you might be confusing idea with place. The place is this little tiny thing, utterly dependent on the largess of outside interests. In its sphere, it is powerful. It is the big fish in a little pond, but out in the ocean it is tiny.

People call Dr. David Ray Griffin the “Dean of 9/11 Studies.” He has written a dozen books on the subject (30 others on other topics). He is one of the leading thinkers in Process Theology, which is the fastest growing theological movement in Christianity today (which sounds like a lot, but theology changes slowly, still it is on top these days). When he came to Seattle to introduce his sixth book about 9/11 he spoke at Town Hall and I moderated the event (on the web as “Let’s Get Empirical”). I did my PhD with his colleagues, and met him a few times. He, like my professors, was intrigued that an atheist and a Marxist, even, had come to study theology with them.

We passed out note cards and asked people to write down questions. These were collected and during his talk I sorted through them to pick out the dozen or so that we could do in a Q&A. As an aside, the best question was, “The engine in my 1973 Volkswagen is made out of steel; how long can I drive it before the engine melts?” If the government’s story about 9/11 was correct the answer would be, “about 50 minutes.” Anyway, out of the many dozens that came in, there were a dozen that asked something about Israel. Griffin doesn’t mention Israel in any of his books because there is nothing especially important to note.

Why so many cards? There seem to be some details that involve Israel, but there are many more important ones that involve Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Why Israel? This question has bothered me for years now. Why Israel? It is so patently irrelevant, and the details that people point to are hardly primary. Why Israel? Is it just that our society is more racist than I realized? Perhaps, but it turns out there is some reason to suspect that it was not organic.

Why Israel? Cass Sunstein, Obama’s Harvard Law School friend, and now Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and co-author Adrian Vermeule wrote this:

[W]e suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of believers by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity. (“Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures” J. Political Philosophy, 7, 2009, p. 219.)

Perhaps someone is already working on this. Actually we know they are. They have been perfecting these plans since the 1950’s, when Hoover started COINTELPRO to sabotage social justice movements from the inside. What is new here is the “distinctive” emphasis put on “cognitive diversity.” That means “conceptual confusion” in my trade, and “false beliefs” in ordinary language. “Crippled epistemology” means relying on evidence instead of believing everything the ruling class and its toddy government say.

The reason I am bothering you with details from the inside of another movement is because the term “extremist groups” includes Greens, in the minds of these fanatics. The enemy is well armed, well funded, and utterly corrupted by greed such that their thinking is so compromised that they now take their own lies as definitive of reality.

God help us all!

Rev. Dr. Richard Curtis, PhD is a “Hard Core Extremist” currently living in West Seattle

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

January 25, 1930: Mahatma Gandhi issued the Declaration of Independence of India. To achieve this goal Gandhi adopted the non-violent tactic of challenging the British monopoly on salt – it was illegal for anyone other than the British government in India to manufacture or sell salt. Gathering supporters as he walked 241 miles in 24 days to the sea where he made salt. Salt was sold, illegally, all over the seacoast of India and the British government incarcerated over sixty thousand people. This march was a key turning point in India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule.

January 26, 1962: Bishop Joseph A. Burke of the Buffalo, New York, Catholic Diocese banned a new song and dance, “The Twist,” by Chubby Checker. It couldn’t be danced, sung, or listened to in any Catholic school, parish, or youth event. Later in the year, the Twist was banned from community center dances in Tampa, Florida, as well. It was claimed the Twist was actually a pagan fertility dance.

January 27, 1988: The Center for Constitutional Rights revealed the FBI had spied on numerous organizations critical of Reagan administration policies in Central America. The principal target was the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). 100 other groups were also investigated, including the Roman Catholic Maryknoll Sisters, the United Auto Workers, the United Steel Workers, and the National Education Association. FBI Director William Sessions said the investigations were an outgrowth of the belief that CISPES was aiding a “terrorist organization.”

Pencil Shavings: Beyond Labels
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.

For years, I’ve thrown around a variety of labels: Green, leftist, socialist and progressive. Like most people, I use these labels as a sort of shorthand because it’s so much easier than having to explain my political perspective in detail every time someone asks. Beginning today, however, I’m going to try to move beyond such labels here in my Pencil Shavings column and in life, in general.

Why am I taking this drastic step? Because each of those four words has NO UNIVERSAL MEANING. Each of those words means different things to different people and different things to the same people at different times.

Take, for example, the label Green. Some people self-identify as a Green and yet they drive a gas guzzler or they jet around the country on airlines. Other people claim to be Greens, yet support the US strategy of trying to blow up the world country by country. Some people claim to be devout Greens who will only support candidates who advocate strong environmental laws and regulations, yet they vote for Democrats and Republicans who only pay lip service to such things. Still others support ONLY Green Party candidates who have no hope of impacting the political landscape. So, what in the heck does Green really mean?

What does it mean to be a leftist? Left of what? The middle ground of political discourse in this nation has been moving to the right for the past 20 years or so. To be left of today’s middle ground starts in the territory of what was once considered a moderate Democrat.

What does it mean to be a socialist? There are about as many varieties of socialist as there are Christian denominations and, just like the myriad of denominations, all these groups and parties can’t seem to agree on much of anything. I mean, if there wasn’t so much disagreement on what it meant to be a socialist, there wouldn’t be so many different groups in the first place.

But the one word I’m really going to try to stay away from is progressive. It has always been a vague and nebulous term. And it means so many different things to different people. There are folks who have voted a straight Democratic Party ticket their entire voting lives who consider themselves die-hard progressives. There are people who have supported every war the US has fought or threatens to fight who will tell you that they are as progressive as they come. There are activists who support/oppose the death penalty, a woman’s right to choose, gay rights, universal health care, labor rights and a plethora of other issues and, regardless of which side they take on these issues and more, each will tell you that he or she is progressive.

In each case, these labels don’t really tell us that much about a person’s political leanings. We each filter those labels through our own lens, but the other person’s lens may be altogether different. So, we think we understand each other when, in reality, we’re really speaking foreign languages. All it inevitably leads to is arguments and conflict — arguments like who is the most Green, left, red or progressive.


Posted in Greener Times | Comments Off on January 25 – 31

January 18 – 24

Posted by Trey Smith on January 17, 2010

Greener Times for the Week of January 18 – 24
Volume 4 No. 40
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: Unfinished Business
* Our Climate Crisis: (No Column This Week)
* From Where I Stand: Ground Zero – Persistent Resistance
* This Week in History
* Guest Column: Washington State Progressive Electoral Coalition Launched
* Pencil Shavings: The Left is More Narrow-Minded than the Right

For Your Consideration…
Past Decade the Hottest on Record

The first decade of the twenty-first century was the hottest since recordkeeping began in 1880. With an average global temperature of 14.52 degrees C (58.1 degrees F), this decade was 0.2 degrees C (0.36 degrees F) warmer than any previous decade. The year 2005 was the hottest on record, while 2007 and 2009 tied for second hottest. In fact, 9 of the 10 warmest years on record occurred in the past decade.Temperature rise has accelerated in recent decades. The earth’s temperature is now 0.8 degrees C (1.4 degrees F) higher than it was in the first decade of the twentieth century, and two-thirds of that increase has taken place since 1970…

When the Lights Go Out
When fossil fuels begin to vanish, the first sign of the times will not be made of cardboard and propped up in front of an empty gas pump. The sign will be the flickering bulb in the ceiling, because electricity is always the weakest link in the synergistic triad that includes fossil fuels and metals. When the lights go out, so does everything else. The house or apartment will be largely non-functioning. Not only will there be darkness throughout the dwelling between sunset and sunrise, but all the sockets in the wall will be useless. The “four major appliances,” stove, refrigerator, washer, and drier, will be nothing more than large white objects taking up space, so there will be no means of cooking food or preserving it, and no means of doing laundry. There will be no heating or air-conditioning, because these are either controlled by electricity or entirely powered by it. For the same reason, there will be no plumbing, so clean water will not be coming into the house, and waste water will not be leaving it. And that is only one’s own habitation. The entire country will be affected…

Crushing Haiti, Now as Always
The he US-run aid effort for Haiti is beginning to look chillingly similar to the criminally slow and disorganized US government support for New Orleans after it was devastated by hurricane Katrina in 2005. Four years ago President Bush was famously mute and detached when the levies broke in Louisiana. By way of contrast President Obama was promising Haitians that everything would be done for survivors within hours of the calamity. The rhetoric from Washington has been very different during these two disasters, but the outcome may be much the same. In both cases very little aid arrived at the time it was most needed and, in the case of Port-au-Prince, when people trapped under collapsed buildings were still alive. When foreign rescue teams with heavy lifting gear does come it will be too late. No wonder enraged Haitians are building roadblocks out of rocks and dead bodies…

Global Warming Indigestion May Kill Gorillas, Monkeys
Global warming-induced indigestion could help make mountain gorillas and other leaf-eating primates sitting ducks for extinction, a new study says. Annual temperatures are predicted to rise 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) by mid-century in some climate models.Leaves that grow in hotter air contain more fiber and less digestible protein, meaning leaf-eaters would take longer to process their food. In addition, the higher temperatures may force the animals to spend more time lounging in the shade to avoid overheating. Such changes may force some gorilla and monkey species to sit still for long periods—time that would otherwise be used for finding food, protecting territory, or maintaining social bonds, the study says. The inaction, combined with less nutritious food, could eventually cause mountain gorillas and African colobines—a large group of species including colobus monkeys—to go extinct, the study predicts…

Thoughts By the Way: Unfinished Business
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.

As January of ought ten unfolds, I find that for the first time since Maryrose dragged me onto the street in ought six, I shy from reading my email. That litany of bad news all of a sudden has become unbearable. Gone is the columnistic allure of culling the postings for grist. Stalled, I pick up a book and find some unfinished business.

The book is the Assault in Norway, the unfinished business is the atomic bomb, and we are the businessman. (Assault in Norway by Thomas Gallagher 1975, reprint 2002).

The discovery that mass could explosively be changed into energy came at a time when the USSR and Germany were run by killers, one of them psychotic, the US was shouldering aside Japan in the Orient, and the sun never set on the British Empire. The discovery was made in Germany and carried to the US by fleeing Jews and an Italian. In 1942, discovery that Germany was making heavy water in occupied Norway lit a fire under the budding US research into fission and generated panic in Britain. Norwegian commandos plotted sabotage of the plant at Vemork with the help, mostly disastrous, of the British. Those who survived the help got into the plant and destroyed the heavy water isolaters in early1943. Their survival through the winter and entry into the heavily guarded plant is an unequaled story of courage and stamina. By 1945, the US had the bomb. With Germany out, the Russians victorious, and Japan about to surrender, the US was presented with a fell decision, because the war had not only slaughtered the prime of a generation, it had given birth to the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. What was the US to do with a weapon so horrible that its use in warfare was unthinkable?

On Harry Truman’s watch, the US would next commit the worst war crime in history. You see, the military’s consensus was then and still is, that Japan would have surrendered anyway. And, two bombs, two cities? The answer is that Russia was the new enemy and had to be kept out of the Orient. The US foreign policy that followed was diabolic upon diabolical, the policy of mutually assured deterrence. Whereas the cause of humanity would have dictated emergency reversal of the culture of war, the cause served was that of Niccolò Machiavelli, the state of war would be sustained in order to profit the US elite. The US now has enough atomic warheads in silos in the mid-west and carried in submarines to end civilization. Topping that, if possible, we have given the bomb to proxies Israel and Pakistan and are giving nuclear technology to would-be India. Topping that for sure is China. Sweet dreams America.

The bravery of those Norwegian commandos has been wasted by the overarching fear and greed of America’s shadow ruling elite. Now comes the spin, dear Americans. You think you have put US nuclear horrors out of your mind. You are mistaken. You have some unfinished business to attend to. You cannot think clearly about what the US is up to in South Asia until you face what we did in 1945.

From Where I Stand: Ground Zero – Persistent Resistance
“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.

Ground Zero: Persistent Resistance
by Swaneagle Harijan

Yesterday I traveled to Ground Zero in Poulsbo for the annual Martin Luther King protest and civil disobedience action with Joy Goldstein. Joy has been participating for over 10 years, including at least 12 arrests to her credit. The “soul force” tradition, first established by Jim and Shelley Douglas over 33 years ago, continues in response to 14 first strike Trident submarines. Each Trident carries nuclear fire power equal to 1,000 to 6,080 Hiroshimas establishing the Bangor, Washington Naval Base as the largest nuclear arsenal in the US, possibly the world. (We do not know Russia’s current concentration of nuclear warheads.)

The gathering of protesters began at 8:30 am in preparation for the day’s activities.

I was struck that most there were my age; many much older in sharp contrast to my recent caravan trip to Big Mountain/Black Mesa. (My fellow emerging elder friend Rick and I were among a majority of young allies traveling to assist traditional Dine resisters to Peabody Coal Co. and forced relocation in Arizona’s high northern desert.)

We formed a circle sharing names and issues; discussed aspects of nonviolence from the perspective of Martin Luther King and others; then heard from 5 people arrested November 2nd in a classic, fearless Plowshares action. The 2 mothers, 1 nun (84 years old) and 2 Jesuit priests (one 81 years old) cut 3 fences to gain access to the Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC) bunker, holding the massive nuclear weapons stockpile. They were issued misdemeanor summons and debarment letters upon release. The summons were dropped with possible felony charges pending.

A walk arrived that began several days earlier in Olympia led by a Buddhist monk from Bainbridge Island. After lunch, we became more focused on what we were about to do after walking from GZ to the main gate. Groups formed according to tasks, we went over the code of nonviolence and off we went.

The protesters spread out in a long line of about 40 people with flags flying the logo of Veterans For Peace and signs opposing nuclear weapons or annihilation. A ladder, to assist with the action of climbing the base perimeter fence, was hidden under a long banner. Upon arrival, it was quickly placed against the fence, with 2 people zipping over. Soon the platoon of Navy soldiers, dressed in blue camo, were alerted to the breach and several took off from their lineup to apprehend the perpetrators and grab the ladder. A woman in Code Pink attire and a man were the brave souls who were released within an hour to join the 2 hour vigil within “crime scene” yellow tape. Odd encasement. Seems most protests these days are fenced in variations of steel. Guess our studied, familiar nonviolent stance rendered only “crime scene” ribbon.

A large air-filled Trident missile was the back drop to our presence as we faced police across the street and the Navy platoon to the side. I was stunned at the outrageous number of police and military. One person counted 22 police and 15 military. Vans and cars augmented the personnel as well as several with cameras recording us from the overpass directly above.

The highpoint of my day was talking to Fr. Bill Bichsel S.J. of Tacoma. I told him about Big Mountain and gave him several pieces of writing about the ongoing genocide of Dine and Hopi peoples. He was very interested telling me he knows Rick Fellows from the Pastors For Peace caravans. He agreed with my assessment that we will never be able to stop genocide and war anywhere else until we adequately address colonialist genocide that has never ceased against Indigenous Americans. The overwhelming white privilege of so much of activism in the northwest continues to be an issue of deep concern to me. I mentioned the 2 exposed uranium mines on the Spokane Reservation as well as the 500 still uncovered uranium mines on the Navajo Reservation. “Bix” was very aware of this reality telling me of his friendships with Puyallup women, Ramona Bennet, Janet McCloud (now deceased and a dear friend of mine) and Connie McCloud, who opened the Backbone/Ruckus action camp on Vashon in July. He asked me to keep him informed of these Indigenous issues.

It is astounding that so few people are aware of the deadly danger we live under in the northwest, really, in the world. That fewer than 75 people came out during this annual Martin Luther King event speaks to the apathy gripping this country. The persistence of those living and working at Ground Zero is admirable, essential and deeply courageous. We must all be attuned to this and do all we can to participate in stopping ALL nuclear

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

January 18, 1962: The U.S. began spraying herbicides on foliage in Vietnam to eliminate jungle canopy cover for Viet Cong guerrillas (a policy known as “territory denial”). The U.S. ultimately dropped more than 20 million gallons of such defoliants, sparking charges the United States was violating international treaties against using chemical weapons. Many of the herbicides, particularly Agent Orange, manufactured by Dow Chemical, Monsanto and others, were later found to cause birth defects and rare forms of cancer in humans.

January 20, 2001: Tens of thousands lining Pennsylvania Ave. to protest the legitimacy of the inauguration of Pres. George W. Bush were systematically excluded from almost all media coverage of the event. They called attention to the election irregularities in Florida, the dispute over a recount, and the ultimate effective choice of the president by a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court.

January 22, 1973: Women won control of their reproductive rights when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that Americans have a constitutional right to privacy, and thus women may terminate a pregnancy before the last 10 weeks. Only during the last trimester, when a fetus can survive outside the womb, would states be permitted to regulate abortion of a healthy pregnancy.
Prior to the Court’s ruling that the decision was private and belonged to the pregnant woman, abortion was essentially illegal in all states except New York (as of 1970).

Guest Column: Washington State Progressive Electoral Coalition Launched
From Maryrose Asher

The Washington State Progressive Electoral Coalition (WSPEC) was officially launched on Sunday, January 10, 2010, at Trinity United Methodist Church in Seattle. In attendance was a broad coalition from Socialist Alternatives on the far left to Libertarians on the far right of the progressive movement, including those alienated from the Democratic Party, namely single-payer advocates.

Volunteers came forward to serve on a Nomination Committee for the WSPEC Steering Committee as well as volunteers to serve on the Senate Search Committee.

Bert Sacks, who had previously offered to put his name in the hat as a potential Senate candidate, unfortunately had to withdraw his name due to suffering a heart attack a week before. He still managed to briefly attend the meeting to make the following statement quoting from an article in Yes! Magazine.

Indeed, every successful nonviolent insurrection has been a homegrown movement rooted in the realization by the masses that their rulers were illegitimate and that the political system would not redress injustice.

By contrast, a nonviolent insurrection is unlikely to succeed when the movement’s leadership and agenda do not have the backing of the majority of the population.

I would also encourage readers of Greener Times to read an essay by Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. (in government and international relations) titled, “Behind the Veils of Power: Hope for Progressives”, “New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Apologize for Democrats”, and “What it Takes to Build a Movement”.

The next meeting of WSPEC will be held on January 31, 2010. Please contact Dave Jette at  (206) 789-8660, or contact me at  (206) 567-0593 for more information.

If you would like to host a meeting of WSPEC in your area, we would be more than happy to provide speakers as our goal is to go statewide.

Pencil Shavings: The Left is More Narrow-Minded than the Right
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.

First off, let me just say I’m not connected with WSPEC (see article above). While I applaud the effort, I don’t have much hope for it. It’s not that I doubt the commitment of Maryrose Asher and Dave Jette; if anyone can pull it off, they can!! No, my cynicism is borne from the fact that leftists and progressives are more narrow-minded than folks on the right.

I realize this sounds like a contradiction in terms, so allow me to explain. People on the right seem more willing to form coalitions and put their differences aside to work for common goals. They may snipe at each other behind closed doors, but they have the ability to go out in public solidly behind one candidate or one issue.

Compare this with the left/progressive community. Too often, groups require unrealistic litmus tests. In order to work with other groups, said groups must agree with your agenda 99.9%. If they disagree ever so slightly, then one group or another gets up in arms and denounces the “offending” group or simply walks away from the coalition. They go back to their lair to pat themselves on the back for standing up for their “oh so important” principles or objectives. This happens with group after group until a coalition becomes impossible.

While the left fritters away opportunity after opportunity, our country continues to slide down into a bottomless pit of corporate bailouts, environmental calamity and endless war. We’re in so deep now, it may take generations to claw our way out of the hole. It may even be too late!

Look, I’m not suggesting that principles aren’t important. But there comes a time when adherence to a vast list of nonnegotiable ideals and principles is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. You can feel smug and self-righteous because you refuse to compromise. You can salute yourself for sticking to your orthodox principles. You can tell yourself that you’re the ONLY true leftists, Greens, progressives, Socialists, etc. At the end of the day, unfortunately, that doesn’t amount to a whole helluva lot. All your refusal to compromise truly does is to cede more and more territory to the right.

In essence, those who stand for policies and perspectives we disagree with don’t have to win the day because we hand it to them on a silver platter.

Posted in Greener Times | Comments Off on January 18 – 24