Saturday, November 15, 2008

Be Bold, Mr. President-elect!

Your Weekly Address from the President-elect

President-elect Obama gave his first "radio" address, via You Tube and the internet, (can you hear the radio address on the radio anywhere?) this morning, breaking new ground in communications, embracing the darling medium of youth. Unfortunately his message was old hat.

Yes, of course, the leader of the Free World must exude confidence, point the way to the future, calm our fears, especially one who still aspires to that leadership position. We hope today's address is merely a hint of more substantive policy-making yet to come.

It's time to stop talking about a growing economy. Growth is dead. A growing economy is impossible in a finite world containing 6 billion human beings busily procreating and despoiling the planet on which all life depends. The old economic model is laid bare in its false promise of unending consumerism, constantly increasing standard of living, room for all on this tiny planet, including, of course, those who consume most of it.

This is a lie. Please, Senator Obama, don't lie to us. Tell us the truth so we can start right now, together, to work toward real solutions

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Secretery of State Al Gore!

Start With Al Gore -

Put this man to work in a job where he can make a real difference. We've all seen "An Inconvenient Truth." Now let's make this vision the centerpiece of our foreign policy.

We've had too much international bullying and too little (any at all?) international statesmanship based on the realities of climate change and Peak Oil.

Al Gore has already set the record straight on the environment. We need his vision and focus in the Obama cabinet.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Al Gore - Environmental Visionary

"Here's what we can do - now: we can make an immediate and large strategic investment to put people to work replacing 19th-century energy technologies that depend on dangerous and expensive carbon-based fuels with 21st-century technologies that use fuel that is free forever: the sun, the wind and the natural heat of the earth."

Now is the time for creative thinking, and critical listening. Al Gore has long illuminated the pathway to a rational energy future, not the imaginary patriotic future of "make America energy independent," but a very real and practical future that combines meaningful conservation with a steady state economy based on renewable energy.

Van Jones has written extensively about the green economy, proposing what amounts to a public works program to employ Americans in green jobs to revive the economy while building a green energy future.

President-elect Obama, recruit Al Gore and Van Jones for your cabinet and put their ideas, and Americans to work!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A Green Agenda for Obama

Bill McLibben sets the pace with a challenge for the new Obama administration. Read the article here, then tell President-elect Obama about it here.

It's not the stupid economy!

Economies come and go. Socialist, capitalist, subsistence, free-market, you name it, they've come and gone, waxing and waning as human circumstance changes over time. Economics is a human invention, a social institution (hardly a science) subject to the whims of human folly.

There is, however, and will ever be, only one finite Earth, only one home for life as we know it. At the hands of the present human economy, the Earth is changing into something different than that which sustained the evolution of all plants and animals now living on this planet.

Each day, while the new President of the united States huddles with economic advisers, while political and economic pundits wax eloquent about pending economic decisions, human beings drive millions of miles in automobiles spewing vaporous carbon compounds, human industry pours tons of carbon into the atmosphere from smokestacks throughout the world, human agriculture washes topsoil and fertilizer downstream into spreading dead zones in the world's ocean. The new President promises economic growth ahead, more jobs, more production, more consumption, more waste, more destruction.

Meanwhile, there is still only one finite Earth.

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." Aldo Leopold

Our response to the challenges of the present "global" economy ultimately lie in the care of the Earth as life's only home. When we approach the Earth as a critical member of life's community, our economic decisions will lead to a human economy in harmony with all life and the Earth that sustains us all.

We don't have much time to find our way. Carbon continues to accumulate in the atmosphere we all breathe. Climate continues to change even as the economists ponder their fate. Mother Nature bats last and ultimately.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Now the work begins

It's a new world this morning, or at least the dawning of a new world. Soon, we'll have an intelligent, articulate, effective, and best of all, progressive President of the united States of America.

The President brings with him ideals and a crew of helpers to take on massive destruction of this country and its environments after eight years of ignorant abuse. What's most important now is the staff and cabinet President Obama selects and his choices for other offices. It's our job to make sure he chooses wisely.

Then we must lead the President in our own local communities by building a fire for democracy wherever we live. President Obama can provide inspiration, lead the call for progressive legislation, but we must do the work here on the ground. We must turn the huge Obama volunteer network into a huge Democracy network and bring government of our daily lives back home where we can keep an eye on it.

President Obama is young, idealistic and inexperienced. He needs all the help we can give. We can teach him about conservation, wise energy use, accommodation to the new developing climate regime, localism, self-sufficiency and mutual aid. We can help him support our troops by bringing them home and putting them to work in green jobs.

Democracy starts between the ears. Let's get busy!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A shrinking economy is good for you ... and the Earth!

Economy shrinks as consumers cut back on spending

"Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the economy, dropped by the largest amount in 28 years in the third quarter."

This is a good thing!

What passes for pundits these days have all attended the University of Media Clichés. While cries of "consumer suffering" abound, it is not consumers who are hurt by a receding economy, it's investors and big business tycoons who are looking for the nearest 10-story ledge.

Consumers are doing fine. Consumers are buying less, conservatively and wisely spending their money on necessities rather than frivolous toys, houses they can't afford and overpriced bourge-mobiles. An economic decline serves the very real and necessary purpose of resetting the economic perspective after it has become ridiculously overinflated.

The first step on the road to a steady-state economy is a declining economy, moving back to sanity, reality and living within the means of the Earth. Anything else is a foolish fantasy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Let's Invite President Obama Aboard the Green Train

It now looks certain that Barack Obama will be elected the next President of the united States. After decades of yokel ignorance in the White House, we will now have an intelligent, capable and moderately progressive President.

This will not be enough. Climate change is descending fast upon the Earth, with Peak Oil in one hand and economic collapse in the other. If the human species is to remain extant, a prospect I don't necessarily endorse, President Obama must usher deep, basic and substantive change into the workings of the united States government.

War? Forget about it. Accomplishes nothing, uses up vital natural resources and lays waste to the natural world. It's time to grow up as a society and put away our childish toys. Invite our military men and women back to the united States and put them to work in the green economy. Transform the military-industrial complex into the environmental restoration complex. Stop selling weapons all over the world and start distributing tools and skills to build and maintain appropriate levels of technology in countries that have been decimated by colonial exploitation.

"The" economy? No such thing. Global free-market capitalism is officially dead and kicking up it's massive feet around the world. Build a green economy based on production for use in local economies, local consumption, local egalitarian control. Put the people to work, all of the people, including those now wasting their lives in jails across the country. Create thousands of new green jobs cleaning up the mess left by corporations, growing food in local gardens and farms, building and installing local solar and wind energy systems. Get CEOs out of their suits and into their jeans to do some productive work for a change and to free their bloated salaries for those who do the real work.

No real change has ever been accomplished by politicians and government bureaucrats unless they were forced to change by a massive popular uprising. Barack Obama knows the challenges of the future and is intelligent enough to listen and learn from the people. We have an opportunity, as the Obama Administration is being formed, to provide direction and inspiration to move the united States government in the direction the people are already moving.

This will not be an easy task, as the fundamentalist fringe will not melt away into the night when President Obama takes over the White House. Even with a majority in both Houses of Congress, opposition to substantive and meaningful change will be huge and effective. We must not allow a repeat of President Carter's neutralization by the rampant right.

This will take massive organization, in every form available: national organizations, community meetings, regional committees, blogs, Face Book, letter writing campaigns to all our "representatives" and like-minded people running for public office. The leadership must come from the people, because our "leaders" will take us in a direction we are not prepared to go.

The election is almost over. It's time to practice democracy!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Business Party Wins Again - and the Earth loses

In a lucid analysis of uS politics and "The Economy," Noam Chomsky strips the mask from the illusion of America's "two-party" political system:

"Politics is the shadow cast on society by big business," concluded America's leading 20th century social philosopher John Dewey (1859 - 1952), and will remain so as long as power resides in "business for private profit through private control of banking, land, industry, reinforced by command of the press, press agents and other means of publicity and propaganda."

The present economic crisis, for the investor class, is repeatedly compared to the Great Depression of 1929, and assurances are already being offered that this too will pass, we will weather this "adjustment," and all will be well soon. Government socialization of corporate losses once again rescues corporate capitalism from inevitable failure.

There is a difference this time around, however, a difference that no one is talking about. The global recessions of the 1890s and 1930s were rescued by military Keynesianism, the influx of public money into the private economy through military spending. The post-World War II economic recovery was brought about by the expansion and globalization of the petroleum economy, which brought cheap energy to businesses and families throughout the developed world. Oil money allowed the projection of uS power throughout the world and solidified uS economic hegemony ... until most recently.

Things are different now; different is not the same.

In 1929, we were at the beginning of the oil economy. In 2008, we're near the end. Rosy projections of economic recovery following this natural and necessary collapse of corporate capitalism are based on the economic conditions of the past when oil supplies, and prices, were on the rise, the human population of the world was much smaller (1929 - 1.8 billion), natural resources were more numerous and cheaper to produce, and the world's environments were not changing rapidly as a result of human industrial activity.

"Free-market capitalism" has never existed, and can never exist in a world of finite resources. The only thing free about free-market capitalism has been the free ride for its adherents and defenders ... until now. The present economic collapse is the bill slapped onto the table by a surly waiter, the bill for 75 years of profligacy and economic opportunism marked by the destruction of the natural environment for human profit.

Mother Nature is calling in her markers.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Health Care" vs. medical intervention

An important question was asked at the Obama-McCain second debate (aka mediated talking points discussion) that was not adequately addressed by either candidate.

A woman in the audience asked Senator Obama "Is health care a commodity," implying, to my mind, that health care cannot be made equally available to all in a capitalist economy in which health care is marketed according to supply and demand (albeit, highly manipulated supply and demand).

Neither candidate directly answered the questions, nor did they even acknowledge the "commodity/capitalism" basis of the question. Each candidate touted his own variety of a health insurance/medical technology industry support proposal.

The problem is two-fold. Health care is what each individual does for him or herself or for his or her family. Health care consists of good nutritious food, plenty of sleep and moderate exercise. Once could also include positive interpersonal relationships, satisfying work and freedom from stress as elements of one's health care. What the medical industry provides is medical intervention in the event of accidents resulting in injuries requiring medical intervention, communicable disease and catastrophic illness.

Furthermore, medical intervention in a capitalist, for profit society, when marketed as a commodity, is available to medical intervention consumers only as a function of ability to pay for it. The best medical intervention is available to those with ability to buy it.

The situation is further exacerbated by the medical insurance industry which mediates one's ability to access medical intervention by one's ability to pay regular medical insurance premiums in perpetuity until such care may, or may not be required.

The cry is always raised that "socialized medicine" would necessitate unbearable taxation. To this objection there are two responses: 1) other countries support high quality medical care without undue tax burdens; and 2) the amount of money Americans now pay (personally or through their employers) for "health insurance" (plus co-payments and costs not covered by insurance) far exceeds the extra taxes required to fund a national universal health care coverage.

A system that piles profits on top of the cost of the system of medical care for two separate industries, health insurance and medical technology, will, of course, cost far more than a system that provides medical care with no middleman profits. This is not rocket psychiatry!

Just as we expect our government to provide quality education for all of our children as a right of citizenship, so too can we expect our government to facilitate access to medical care equally for all, when needed, in conjunction with responsible personal health care. Government can't do it all for us; we must see to our own health. But when we truly need life-saving medical intervention, it is immoral and criminal to parcel out preferential access such care to the highest bidder.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Recognizing the Revolution

Naomi Klein and Larisa Alexandrovna have made a clear call for revolution, in response to the latest move by the Bush administration to finalize their transfer of power from public to private control.

In a militarized society in a state of perpetual war fever, the only response possible by the people is revolution.

"How can a people who have struggled long years under oppression throw off their oppressors and establish a free society? The problems are immense, but their solution lies in the education and enlightenment of the people and the emergence of a spirit that will serve as a foundation for independence and self-government." Thomas Jefferson

What would a revolution look like in these days of Homeland Security, "non-lethal" weaponry, electronic spies and a thoroughly propagandized and compliant public?

Not like the American Revolution that failed to make substantive changes in the power structure. Not like the French Revolution that replaced one ruling elite with another. Not like the Russian Revolution that betrayed the People's Revolution with an oppressive dictatorship.

"The generation which commences a revolution rarely complete it. Habituated from their infancy to passive submission of body and mind to their kings and priests, they are not qualified when called on to think and provide for themselves; and their inexperience, their ignorance and bigotry make them instruments often in the hands of the Bonapartes and Iturbides to defeat their own rights and purposes." --Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1823.

The first step on the road to the New American Revolution consists of turning our backs on the corporate oligarchy now in firm control of the united States and taking one step forward. Once our eyes are set on a new horizon we can begin again the process of education necessary to a successful revolution. A people long out of practice in critical thinking and self-reliance can and will relearn the skills necessary for self-government.

"As revolutionary instruments (when nothing but revolution will cure the evils of the State) [secret societies] are necessary and indispensable, and the right to use them is inalienable by the people." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1803.

Call it "localism," "back to the land," Do It Yourself," the education process has begun, spurred by climate change and the end of the Age of Oil.

"The public mind, [oppressed by despotism,] is manifestly advancing on the abusive prerogatives of their governors and bearing them down. No force in the government can withstand this in the long run." --Thomas Jefferson to Comte de Moustier, 1788.

The Revolution has begun.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin supports and defends aerial wolf killing

"Brutal" Ad Targets Palin's Aerial Wolf Hunting (VIDEO)

Look at this video.

Copy it.

Spread it liberally.

I fought wolf killers for ten years in Alaska and Canada.

Let everyone know that Palin supports aerial wolf killing for profit.

Let the Alaska tourism industry know that you don't approve and you won't travel to Alaska.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

(Un)Change is coming!

In government and economics, as in the natural world, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe," says John Muir.

The situation the world suffers under today is the culmination of centuries of intertwined economic and governmental manipulation. The corporate oligarchy now in control of the government of the united States is as much economic as it is political, making the world safe for capitalist exploitation at home and abroad. Change at the local level, where it counts, means change in the way we citizens think about our economies and political relationships, as well as changing those institutions that carry out our visions.

As we see in our present paroxysm of jingoistic patriotism (aka, DNC/RNC), political promises that "change is coming" are merely bait and switch tactics to maintain the status quo. Neither Obama/Biden nor McCain/Palin desire change in the system that has allowed them access to positions of power, nor do their handlers/sponsors/financiers. Though the window dressing may change, the basic power structures have remained in place since the American Revolutionary War (which failed to produce a revolution).

The united States government has always used a combination of economic manipulation and government regulation, backed up by military force, to extend and establish economic hegemony throughout North America and most of the rest of the world. Once we established a standing army (and navy), they were used by the central government to threaten, and when necessary beat others into submission, if necessary through invasion and occupation, to bring a widening circle of client states under uS domination.

Global climate change and Peak Oil promise to bring real change to the economic side. We feel it first here at the local level and see it expressed in the growth of farmer's markets, barter, and other forms of local economic enterprise, as the global economy becomes more expensive and irrelevant.

Local economy is the kernel around which we can build local self-government. As the central government wastes more and more resources attempting to maintain a dying empire, we will be forced more and more to fend for ourselves locally. This is a good thing! Mother Nature is an uncaring, harsh and firm teacher, and, over time, we will re-take our place in the web of life.

It's hard and it's fair.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Palin from An Alaskan Who Knows

Sarah Palin's record on environment is abysmal

September 6, 2008


While I disagree with many of Sen. John McCain's policies, I was willing to concede that he may at least make a wise, rational president and represent a step in the right direction for the nation. No longer. With his pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, he has shown a spectacular, even dangerous lack of judgment.

In addition to her frightening lack of qualification to be vice president (much less president) of the United States, Palin is an evangelical, anti-choice, pro-gun, right-wing conservative who wants creationism taught in schools. She is currently under investigation by the Alaska Legislature for alleged abuse of office. Many of us in Alaska simply cannot imagine Palin having anything to do with U.S. foreign policy, domestic policy, national defense or the countless other affairs of federal governance.

A particularly worrisome aspect of the Palin candidacy is her abysmal record on the environment during her two years as Alaska governor, and how that would translate into national environmental policy if she became vice president. Her environmental record as governor of the nation's "last frontier" deserves close examination.

Climate change. Although Alaska is ground zero in the crisis of global warming, Palin has done virtually nothing to address the problem except hold meetings and appoint a "climate sub-cabinet" that likewise has done little. Lots of talk, no action.

Although in the past two years the Arctic summer sea ice shrunk to the lowest levels ever recorded, Palin apparently does not believe it is human-induced or cause for alarm. She was asked to establish an Alaska Office on Climate Change, an Alaska Climate Response Fund (based on a tax on Alaska oil production) and emissions reduction targets for Alaska, but has taken no action on those requests.

Polar bears. This summer, Palin filed suit against the Bush administration over the federal listing of polar bears as threatened, saying that her opposition was based on a "comprehensive scientific review." But when asked to release the scientific review, she refused. The document, later obtained by the public (from the federal government), clearly shows that, contrary to
Palin's assertions, the state of Alaska's marine mammal scientists agreed with the federal conclusions that the polar bears are in serious trouble because of global warming and loss of their sea ice habitat, and that they would be gone from Alaska by 2050. Palin clearly decided to oppose the listing in order to protect Arctic oil and gas development, then publicly misrepresented the basis for her decision, and then tried to conceal all of that. Having run for office on a platform of honesty and transparency, this behavior was neither. Her extreme position here puts her to the political right of the Bush /Cheney administration.

Endangered species. Earlier this year, Palin approved a $2 million state appropriation for a conference on the "economic impacts" of the Endangered Species Act, designed to persuade the public that ESA listings were too costly and unwarranted. Recently she agreed to use the money instead to fund the state's lawsuit against the Bush administration over the polar bear listing -- a likely violation of the state constitutional provisions on appropriation. She opposes additional species listings and other protections in Alaska, where many species are at risk because of climate change and other threats.

Predator control. Palin approved and expanded the state's aerial predator control program, where wolves are shot from aircraft and bears hunted from aircraft and killed upon landing. This year, her state biologists even dragged 14 newborn wolf pups from their den and, having already shot their parents, then shot each of the pups in the head at close range. Last year, her administration offered a $150 bounty for each wolf killed until the bounty was ruled illegal by the courts. Hundreds of wolves are killed each year by this antiquated state program that has no scientific justification whatsoever, but rather is designed to appease Palin's urban sport hunter supporters.

Pebble mine. Palin aggressively opposed the "clean water initiative" on the August ballot in Alaska (which then failed), favoring instead foreign mining company desires for fewer government regulations controlling their toxic effluent into salmon streams. She has supported virtually any and all mining proposals that have come her way, even likely the enormous Pebble gold and silver mine proposed in the Bristol Bay watershed. That plan put at risk the largest runs of sockeye salmon in the world, where this summer fishermen caught more than 27 million salmon.

Oil and gas drilling. Palin has supported oil and gas drilling plans anywhere in Alaska, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the central Arctic, the entire Arctic Ocean, and in fish-rich Bristol Bay and Cook Inlet. On her watch, regulation and government oversight of Alaska oil facilities is terribly lacking, and she has declined to establish a citizens' advisory council to provide more effective public oversight of the expanding oil and gas operations in Arctic Alaska.

Exxon Valdez oil spill damages. Palin refuses to push Exxon to pay the government for the unanticipated environmental injuries from the disastrous 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Almost 20 years later, the private case is still unresolved and the governments likewise have yet to collect full payment from Exxon. Shortly before Palin took office in 2006, the governments presented Exxon with a demand to pay $92 million for this additional environmental damage, but her administration has since not pressed the issue nor taken Exxon to court to collect the money. Meanwhile, Exxon reaps record profits from Alaska.

Trans Pacific shipping. Palin repeatedly has been asked by coastal residents and organizations to enhance the safety of merchant shipping through Alaska's Aleutian Islands, a primary shipping route between Asia and North America, but she's done nothing. Citizens want better vessel tracking, powerful rescue tugs along the route and a risk assessment. While her
predecessor funded a scoping study, the Palin administration has not appropriated one dime to improve shipping safety through the Aleutians, and says it will take no further action to reduce risk for several years into the future.

The pattern is clear. On the environment, Sarah Palin is essentially George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and perhaps James Watt rolled into one, but with a more pleasant demeanor. At a time when the nation and world urgently need strong environmental leadership from the United States, it is important to look beyond charisma and carefully consider the environmental implications of our vote in November.

Rick Steiner is a professor at the University of Alaska.

© 1998-2008 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Now no one can deny the police state

It's all over the web: In Minneapolis/St. Paul today police broke into four homes and stopped motorists across the cities, claiming groups such as "Food Not Bombs" and "RNC Welcoming Committee" were "conspiring to incite riot."

I'm amazed they've gone so far, as this is sure to stir up opposition and open revolt against the glitzy set now converging on the land of ten thousand Johnsons. Ya, you betcha!

This hypermilitarization of the local constabulary has crept upon us bit by bit since Seattle. We even see it here in Santa Cruz, CA, the type city for "Chill out, Dude," where laid back was defined. Black-clad and bumpered police appear at the slightest provocation, resplendant with zip-tie handcuffs, pepper spray applicators, stun guns and secret orders from on high ... high finance, that is.

In a world dominated by imagery at the expense of reality, the jack-booted thugs are designed purposefully to strike fear in the hearts and minds of a 9/11-stupored citizenry, just as they were in Nazi Germany shocked by Krystallnacht and the Reichstag fire. No coincidence there; the Current Occupant and the Shadow Government have read their history well.

When do we call a halt to this growing repression? How do we call a halt? How do we return our government to the will of the people when our government is dominated by corporate interests and willing to use force against its citizens to maintain control?

Friday, August 29, 2008

You could have knocked me over with a fender!

The folks at have the straight poop (the kind that smells like pepper spray) on McCain's pick for Vice President, proving that the art of gullibility is not yet dead.

Read it and Veep!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Peak Globalization

Shipping Costs Start to Crimp Globalization

Who'd a thunk it? A rising tide really does lift all boats, including the cost of transportation.

It no longer makes economic sense (as if it ever did) to ship pulp from trees in Alaska to Japan to be made into rayon to be shipped to Korea to be made into cloth to be shipped to Malaysia to be made into shirts to be shipped to warehouses in the United States to be shipped to Alaska to be purchased, worn out and thrown away in landfills in old clearcuts.

The economic processes that have supported globalization, up to now, have ignored both ends of the resource cycle. Trees, minerals, oil, topsoil, water have always been considered "free" for the taking, to be used to produce private profit, while the results of resource exploitation, pollution, deforestation, habitat loss, diversity loss, have been left to society and government to deal with.

On the other end of the economic alimentary canal, waste products from industrial production have always been left to be dealt with by the country (the people, the plants and animals) where production occurs, thus screening the results of production from the awareness of consumers. Buying that plastic whatsit from WalMart has no visible effect in the life of the consumer. When it is no longer desirable, it is thrown "away," as if there was some "away" for it to go.

Finally, with the decline of artificially cheap energy, the consequences of such an ignorant, wasteful economic system are coming increasingly to view, and, better yet, invading the bank vaults of those who have made billions in profits exploiting the Earth. Once they realize how wasteful it is to play the walnut and pea game on a global scale, they'll start bringing production back closer to consumption. And once the by-products of production must be dealt with close to the point of consumption, all sorts of opportunities politely present themselves for closing the loop between raw materials and waste products.

Marx explained this all completely, in 1903, but everyone was too caught up in fighting "Communism," if that's what it was, to pay any attention. Marx was writing about the separation of agriculture from the cities, creating a separation between production and consumption and a subsequent loss of soil nutrient at the production end. By keeping production and consumption close together, "wastes" are easily returned to the point of production as "resources," closing the loop in the production/consumption cycle.

Surprisingly enough, there are social consequences to the separation of consumption from production, as Marx pointed out, consequences that we are now seeing on a global basis in resource wars waged to prop up governments suddenly finding themselves on the excremental end of the resource stick.

'Twas ever thus,' quoth Mr. Natural.

As with everything Yin and Yang, the twin specters of climate change and Peak Oil are also the twin promises for the future of the human species, if we have one at all. As real economics comes to bear on human economics, we will once again find our place at home and give up the shell game of Globalization as a tawdry carnival trick.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Global Gang of Energy Thieves Discovered!

Lawrence Livermore Laboratories reveals this startling image of a gang of thieves stealing energy from unsuspecting victims in the united States. The name of the gang?


Out of approximately 97 quadrillion BTUs (Quads) produced in 2002, 55.9 quads (58%) was lost, mainly as waste heat. The two chief culprits of the gang were Electrical System Energy Losses and Internal Combustion Engine Inefficiency. These two nefarious characters have robbed stockpiles of natural resources and energy storage to the tune of thousands of Quads, contributing to climate change and pollution.

How do we stop this gang dead in its tracks? We call in Sheriff Conservation and his posse of Public Transit, Hypercar Technology, Walkable/Bikable Communities. Solar Energy, and Local Production for Local Consumption. And we stop providing subsidies for the Lost Energy Gang that lets then rum rampant through our energy world.

If we can cut the Lost Energy Gang down to half its size, we can increase Useful Energy by 90%. That's 25 Quadrillion BTUs of free energy, every year, more than is produced by all the oil imported into the united States.

It's simple, it's easy, it's cheap.

It's just plain stupid to keep wasting precious energy when we know how to stop it.

Be on the alert! The Lost Energy Gang is casing out your car, your home and your workplace right now!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Paying for Peak Oil

I had an interesting experience today while bicycling home from the library, where I had checked out two books and two movies.

I pulled up to an intersection to wait my turn through the stop light and noticed a medium size SUV (read: HUGE!) pull up to the gas station on the corner. A woman got out (hopped down) from the vehicle and inserted her credit card in the gas pump, then pulled it out and put it away. She then proceeded to fill the tank on her tank … er … car, uh, whatever it was, with gasoline. When the pump clicked off, she put the nozzle away, climbed back up into the drivers seat and drove away. (There was undoubtedly a cell phone conversation or two in the process, as well.)

It occurred to me, as I pedaled down the street toward home, that she had not paid any attention to how much it cost to fill the tank of her vehicle with gas! She just used her credit card when the little stick pointed toward "E," just as she always has. She will pay the minimum payment on her credit card bill, just as she always has, and she will never know how much the price of gas has gone up. Since she uses plastic, she never has to "pay" for anything at the source of purchase, so has no incentive to pay attention to how much things cost.

Multiply this by bazillions of Americans making bazillions of purchases, and you get some idea of why people in this country have no idea that they're consuming themselves, and the planet, to death!

Myths we keep telling ourselves

Congress Must Act to Keep the Economy Growing


Economic growth is the problem, not the solution. Furthermore, Congress can do nothing to "keep the economy growing," fortunately, since Nature trumps Congress every time.

Keeping the economy growing is impossible in a world of finite resources. Keeping the economy growing has resulted in all the ills we experience in our world today: climate change, Peak Oil, famine, disease, poverty, the heartbreak of psoriasis.

What we desire Congress (the opposite of progress) to do is to protect us from the ravages of for-profit corporations attempting to "keep the economy growing" to benefit said for-profit corporations at the expense of the people.

"Greed is the ugliest of the capital sins." Ed Abbey

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pot calls kettle black!

From the "Who's surprised about this? Department:

Government uncovers oil price manipulation

The article concludes that (nudge, nudge; wink, wink) oil price speculation is too small and too scattered to have any significant effect on global oil prices.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney sits in his Gray House office, smoking a cigar dripping with crude oil, contemplating an easy and lucrative retirement.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Singing with the Anarchy Choir

McKibben: 350 The Most Important Number "McKibben said 70 percent of Americans agree climate change is an issue.

“I’m not worried about preaching to the choir because the choir is large enough,” McKibben said. “I worry about the choir not singing loudly enough.”"

We have always sung with the choir!

Let there be no mistake, this has always been about the choir vs. the atonal drones attempting to lead the song. We, the people, that's you and me, have always sought peace, freedom from oppression (government and corporate) and liberty to live our own lives and pursue our own happiness. It's not that we have not sung loud enough, it's that the drones have high tech amplifiers and loudspeakers.

It's time for more songs about anarchy, democracy taken serious. Anarchy is rule by the people, self-rule, self-reliance and mutual aid. The Stonehengian towers of ground-penetrating sound systems have drowned out the choir with their seductive messages of consumerism, materialism, newsertainment and brain-gelling noise. How can one think or know when one's brain is filled with such stultifying (c)rap?

"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion." Thomas Jefferson

It's time to swell the choir and sing the sweet song of liberty, in all its glorious diversity.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Goals, Hope and Motivation

We learn, in this Truthout interview, Representative Jay Inslee (Politician - Washington) "believes that if the people of the United States are given a goal, the hope and the motivation, they, not just government, will lead the way in solving one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time: global warming."

Guess what?

We don't need politicians to "give us" goals, hope and motivation. We've had them for decades! And not only the people of the united States of America, but people everywhere.

It has always been our goal to live in a world where we have unfettered access to clean air, clean water, nutritious food, meaningful work. We don't need motivation to achieve these goals. We need leaving alone.

This interview with Inslee smacks of "I'm from the government. I'm here to help you."

If you want to help us, Mr. Politician, stop getting in the way of our hopes and motivation so we can achieve our own goals. Stop polluting our water and air. Stop killing people in far-off places to line your pockets and those of your corporate buddies.

We don't need your motivation to produce solar energy. We don't need your goals to support our neighbors and families. We don't need your hopes to live a decent, satisfying life.

We have our own goals, hopes and motivation.

Just let us be and get on with protecting us from corporate toadies and government sycophants, Homeland Security and the burgeoning Police State. We'll take care of the rest, thank you very much.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Vision of the Future

In this article on Common Dreams, a 93 year-old woman has provided a vision of the future - from the past. Dr. Grace Lee Boggs shows us how Detroit is a vision of the future, a city that "no longer has to adhere to the usual capitalist mantra of growth and expansion because it is absolutely clear that the industrial system is finished. This fact allows citizens to respond by starting something new all over again."

We are witnessing the final failure of capitalism, as gleefully predicted by Socialists everywhere. Even official economists are beginning to admit that the whole idea of free market capitalism is failing, that traditional methods of propping up the capitalist economy have failed to budge the current growing recession, even unto "wars" (read: invasions and occupations) waged on two fronts.

Although it may seem to young people that we are "starting something new all over again," we are really reviving what has always worked: local self-reliance, local politics, local economy, local social services. Victory gardens, allotments, cooperative child care, extended families, cooperative housing, flexible kinship systems, midwifery, and, most importantly, self-reliance and mutual aid, have always been the most effective social organizations to support the people at the local level. It is only when a professionalized central authoritarian government attempts to take control, supported by a professional constabulary and a standing army, that local social systems are broken down and forced to fail.

This doesn't mean that capitalism, the private ownership of production, is bad in itself. It is only centralized capitalism that breaks down "normal" social relations, with the extension of the concept of a "free market," which has never been free, outside the realm of economics. Social services can never be organized under free market auspices, which is intrinsically based on distinctions between haves and have-nots. In "free market" social serves, someone is always, by definition, left out.

The only social system that is historically documented to provide egalitarian social services is non-state, locally organized, bioregionally-based mutual aid. Call it (small c)communism, socialism, anarchism or what have you, the concept of local self-reliance based on mutual aid and local resources is the only demonstrably "sustainable" social form ever devised by human societies.

As our civilization, if that's what it is, faces the unavoidable limitations of Peak Oil and climate change, David Brower's advice becomes increasingly relevant:

Progress consists of turning around and taking a step forward.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Interview With Rep. Dennis Kucinich

t r u t h o u t | Interview With Rep. Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich is the only member of Congress who has consistently told the truth, provided realistic alternatives to the present corporate oligarchy and has worked diligently at his job of representing the people of the united States in our republic.

For this he has been ignored, vilified and misrepresented in national corporate media.

Dennis Kucinich has long been the sole voice of sanity in a cacophonous insane asylum.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Remind me again... this is an alternative to what?

Obama Promises 10,000 More Troops for Afghanistan -

So Barak Obama, the Democratic Party candidate for President of the united States of America, vows to send 10,000 more soldiers to Iraq, oh wait... Afghanistan, to kill more Al Qa'ida, Taliban, wedding party guests, innocent women, children and elderly... for what reason?

And this is opposed to the Republican Party candidate who wants to send more troops to Afghanistan, no wait,... Iraq, or is it Iran? to kill more Al Qa'ida, Taliban, wedding party guests, innocent women, children and elderly... for what reason?

Could it be that the Democrats want to invade and occupy Afghanistan to maintain a safe corridor for oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea region, and the Republicans want to invade and occupy Iraq and Iran to control the largest remaining reserves in the world of easily produced crude oil?

So where is this wonderful democratic system of government we're supposed to have in the united States that represents the people? All of the people, not just those in three piece suits being chauffeured to their penthouse offices in tall buildings in big cities.

What happened to government "of the people, by the people and for the people?"

Bush Offers to hold Israel's Coat

Bush Backs Israeli Plan for Strike on Iran As Tehran Tests New Missiles, America Believes Only a Show of Force Can Deter President Ahmadinejad

In a scintillating display of international onepuffmanship, Ovalmeister George W. Bush prods Israel to attack Iran, sniggering up his sleeve as he adds sotto voce, "You're on your own."

Who believes the Smirk-in-Chief, when his retinue of beribboned Pentagon Choir members wear their peace robes while they reprise the chorus of war in the background. They're just itching for a new battlefield to try out all their new "non-lethal" weapons on a new set of "enemies." There's more fighter planes and bombers to sell, missiles to get off the shelf; it's a Blue-light Special at War Mart.

What a coincidence that Iran just announced the "discovery" of a new oil field, filled to the Plimsol line with billions of barrels of crude, now selling at $145 a barrel and climbing. When will we hear the old familiar mantra, "It's not about oil. It's not about oil?"

Impeach them all while we still have a chance. Saddle up the posse, the Bush Gang is making a getaway!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Exploding the Nuclear Myth

Phasing Out the Phase-Out: The Inexorable Comeback of Nuclear Energy - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Inexorable? Only if we continue to ignore reality and listen to voice of the growth maniacs.

The revival of interest in nuclear energy is cloaked in concerns about global warming. Nukes are touted as the energy source with the smallest carbon footprint, ignoring, of course, centuries of storage and intense management required to deal with toxic nuclear wastes far into the future. Our answer, as always, is to toss the problem to our children and grandchildren as we bask in the benefits (to the rich elite) of our profligate ways.

Conservation is ignored, of course, the only energy source that can provide absolutely clean energy at the flip of a switch. Just unplugging all the TeeVees in the US when not in use would save 10 billion kilowatts per year, twice the amount produced by Hoover Reservoir.

Our capitalist economic system is driving civilization over the energy abyss. Not a bad idea that, but it's not the only alternative. We could, if we were smart, get out of the car and leisurely enjoy the vast panoramic vista as we walk and bicycle along the edge.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

So now what do we do?

Today is my 59th birthday, the first of many... I hope.

Waking up this morning I find myself in a world teetering on the edge of the abyss, environmentally, politically and culturally.

The Obama promise has evaporated. Even before his anointment as the official Democratic Party Candidate for president of the united States of America, he has begun back-pedaling on campaign promises. He voted for telecom immunity - worse, he voted to prevent a filibuster on the bill, in direct contradiction to his promise on the campaign stump. Despite his populist rhetoric, Obama is just another Republican in Democratic mufti, hiding his trunk behind a donkey mask with floppy ears. Despite the promise of an intelligent mind in the White House, at long last, Obama serves the same masters as the dim bulb now sputtering out in the Oval Office.

The damage done by 28 years of government corruption, corporate dominance, media manipulation and cultural vacuity has created a society incapable of responding to the challenge of climate change and Peak Oil. The Earth continues to turn as it has for 3 billion years or so. Unfortunately for the "dominant" species (the one with the most impact), the Earth is turning away from us and we're too stupid to change direction. No comparison to dinosaurs here; they had no choice. It was either learn to fly or go extinct, and Mother Nature provided the feathers. Humans have blithely ignored our feathers as we continue driving down the freeway past the launch ramp.

I look forward to my sixth decade with hope, secure in the knowledge, based on personal experience, that all will be well, in its time. When the pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth subsides, when we finally ignore the corporate bleating in our Great National Asylum for the Criminally Helpless in Washington, DC, when we get back to the daily of work of democracy, pull up our fashionably sagging pants, tighten our belts and get to work at the local level, the pendulum will return and we'll get on with finding our place in the web of life on this planet.

Things will be different, yes they will, as anything alive constantly changes. It is only dead things that stay the same. The Earth does not abide any species that lays waste to the roundabout and expects to continue such devastation indefinitely. Nature always bats last. Those of us who recognize this now and change the way will live will be less affected by the coming inevitable changes and will show the way to the new/old way of life.

I hope by my next 59th birthday to see the pendulum swing even further, lifting us up to see the world just over the horizon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kucinich Gores Bush

Gore Vidal speaks out in support of Dennis Kucinich's call for the impeachment of the Current Resident.

"Although this is the most important motion made in Congress in the 21st century, it was also the most significant plea for a restoration of the republic, which had been swept to one side by the mad antics of a president bent on great crime."

Of course, nothing will be done, as the lapdogs of power are well heeled and constrained with a tight leash. It remains to be seen whether a change to a Democratic administration can unseat the corporate oligarchy that holds dominion over the united States of America. Obama has talked a big stick. The press has fawned over the image of an "unwhite" Presidential candidate, which gives one pause, since the same press see fit to ignore the call for impeachment of their darling village idiot.

Whether Obama offers a true alternative to the status quo is somewhat suspect when one considers his rumored choices of advisors and future cabinet: Chuck Hagel and Arnold Schwarzenegger do not bode well for the future of this nation. Does Obama have the experience to keep popular neocons in place? Once the balloons are all burst and the confetti sent to the land fill, it will be too late to change what few minds are left in this country.

As if there were a choice...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

We have seen the future and it is trains

After 6000+ miles on Amtrak over two weeks, we will never fly again!

Rumors of AMTRAK's demise are wildly exaggerated. We rode from the West coast to the East coast and back again, from Oakland to Chicago on the California Zephyr, from Chicago to Framingham, Massachusetts and back on the Lakeshore Limited, from Chicago to LA on the Southwest Chief, and from LA to San Jose on the Coast Starlight. Our accommodations were clean and comfortable. We arrived in Massachusetts on time, rested and well fed, and we saw the grand panoply of the North American continent roll by the windows of our Superliner roomette.

Yes, the train was two hours late arriving in Chicago, and an hour late arriving in LA. But we didn't care. We had sufficient layovers in each city, time enough to take in the sights in Chicago and enjoy a fine meal, good wine and a beer in Burghoff's classic restaurant, and time for quality people watching in LA.

The stations have improved, for the most part, since my last AMTRAK experience in 1991. Many are refurbished, others warmly gleaming as I remember them. There are a few classic stations still awaiting the appreciative restoration team to put them back in working order.

When we were in Great Britain, we noticed that the non-motorcar infrastructure is still in place and ready for the End of the Age of Oil. I'm happy to report that there is still a healthy passenger rail infrastructure in use in the United States, ready to be upgraded when we finally get over our oil and automobile addiction, and get back to human scaled public transportation.

Riding the train, one has ample opportunity to read, enjoy the gradually changing scenery, think long and complicated thoughts, engage is leisurely conversation, enjoy a meal while taking in the view. It is a uniquely humane form of transportation.

No hassles, no taking off of shoes, no humiliating searches, no treatment as if one is assumed to be a criminal.

Civilized transportation.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Key to the Crisis

"...any meaningful democracy requires citizens who are empowered to create and re-create their government, rather than a mass of marginalized voters who merely choose from what is offered by an “invisible” government. Citizenship requires a commitment of time and attention, a commitment people cannot make if they are lost to themselves in an ever-accelerating cycle of work and consumption." Jeffrey Kaplan The Gospel of Consumption

This article reveals the source of a continuing business philosophy that drives corporate capitalism in the united States and most of the rest of the world.

Consumerism, and the "work ethic" that props it up, is a result of a deliberate propaganda program by corporate leaders in the 1950s to forestall a widespread public move toward shorter work hours. During the Depression, many companies shortened worker hours to allow more workers at least some work and income. Those workers found they enjoyed the increased time at home to be with their families, to grow gardens, to take part in the process of democracy in their communities.

After World War II, when the demands of war-time production petered out, workers prepared to return to a six-hour work day or a four day work week. Industrialists panicked. Floating on a sea of filthy lucre, they saw their bloody profits draining away as workers sought a more balanced life in post-war America.

The corporate response? Thought control!

The advertising market boomed in the 1950s as corporations sought to lure workers and citizens into the never-ending spiral of consumption, resulting in the institution of the 8-hour work day and five-day work week. Consumers were dragged along by silver inlaid nose rings into the work-debt-work cycle that drew fathers and mothers away from families, parents away from children and citizens away from involvement in local democracy.

We see the results today: an apathetic citizenry, unconcerned and uninvolved in democratic decision-making, with heads down against the economic winds carrying them to bankruptcy. Who has time to be involved with your community when one must work 60 hours a week to make payments on the new car and boat, the $350,000 house, the kid's braces and the vacation to Mexico to "get away from it all?"

Jean found the answer many years ago and taught me well. Consuming less allows us to work less, thus having more time to engage with our neighbors, walk our precinct during elections, work at the polling places, attend community and local government meetings, participate in local government, craft letters to the editor, and to our local government officials.

Corporate capitalism consumes democracy and excretes apathy.

As John E. Edgerton, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, noted: “Nothing breeds radicalism more than unhappiness unless it is leisure.”

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Peak Speed

In 1996, Ivan Illich gave a speech called, "Speed, what Speed?" for the "Speed" Conference of the Netherlands Design-Institute, in which he pointed out that the concept of "speed" is a very recent idea.

Speed arrived in Europe with the locomotive and mechanized travel. Prior to that, humans traveled at an animal's pace, be they humans or horses, camels, donkeys, mules or oxen on land, or at by the strength and direction of the winds at sea. Speed was not a concern, since the pace the animal maintained varied considerably with the nature of the surface on which they traveled, weather, burden and length of time traveling. Sea travel was entirely dependent on the winds, sea conditions and weather.

With the advent of mechanized travel, speed became a factor, as locomotives and steam driven ships could travel without regard to the natural conditions of the place they were moving through. Passengers were less jostled about and arrived at their destination more rested, clean and in possession of greater amounts of baggage and freight.

Speed isolates human perception by annihilating space. Traveling by commercial airplane, one goes to a place identical to other places in other countries and continents, walks, briefly, through a metal tube to sit in another metal tube, while someone or something outside makes strange noises, changes the pictures on the windows and loses your luggage. Hardly anyone travels by ship anymore, other than to go to an expensive resort with a variety of entertainment spectacles, some of which are marginally on dry land. Even travel by private automobile has become a boring, meaningless exercise, as highways and support infrastructure are geared to speed the travelers on their way as quickly as possible, with as little connection to the local fauna as possible and with as little money remaining in their wallets as possible.

We've even noticed it, in the reverse, as we walk and bicycle around our own community. Bicycling allows me to observe the neighborhoods as I ride through, smell the flowers, feel the wind (and rain) and hear the sounds of birdies and humans. I sit upright on my bike, aware of my surroundings, fully involved with the place I'm riding through.

The difference between walking and biking is the same order of magnitude as the difference between biking and driving a car. When my wife and I walk, we are more involved with our surroundings that when I bicycle. The pace is slower, we can stop and smell the roses, listen to the birds, admire the clouds and sky. We don't have to watch for traffic (except at intersections) and we don't have mechanisms between us and the place where we walk (except shoes).

The other thing we've discovered is the perception of distance. When we walk, we discover that 2 miles, 3 miles, 4 miles passes by before we know it. We're engaged in conversation, involved in our surroundings, and POOF! We're there! Amazing. Riding in a car, the distances seems so much farther and the time to get there so much longer.

It's all about scale. When we pass beyond the bounds of human scale, our connection with our bioregion is mitigated such that we lose touch with all that is. Speed is not human, not animal, not natural. "Pace" is the organic equivalent, the varying rate of movement through our world. Speed denies pace, annihilates distance, substitutes an arbitrary measure of velocity for the experience of moving through the world.

The first step to Living in Place, is to stop moving around so fast.

Monday, April 07, 2008

al-Qa'ida and anarchism

Anarchism is the body of thought and writing about how we achieve anarchy, a social system without the state. Anarchists have long opposed the state and seen state society as the cause of much of the social ills that have afflicted society for hundreds of years.

A new book by Phillip Bobbitt, Terror and Consent, suggests that we anarchists have a new ally in our struggle against the state: al-Qa'ida!

Don't get too excited yet. Bobbitt is a nephew of Lyndon Johnson, a professor of constitutional law, a counselor of presidents and adviser of Congressional Committees. No friend of anarchists, Bobbit refers to environmental activists as ecoterrorists and describes animal rights "terrorists" as "those whose desired world gives a political voice to nonhumans that can override the democratically determined wishes of any society."

Bobbitt is a self-proclaimed free-market capitalist, who sees the world as "progressing" from nation-states to "market-states" that transcend national boundaries and operate in a global economy. He sees the current struggles between the united States and al-Qa'ida as the birth pangs of the new market-state society.

In other words, Global Anarcho-Capitalism: Milton Friedman's wet dream in full implementation.

Bobbitt sees al-Qa'ida as the new market-state challenge to the old nation-state imperialism of the united States and Great Britain. Since al-Qa'ida is not a state power but an economic system, Bobbitt sees it the equivalent of a transnational corporation, in that it is decentralized and outsources terrorist actions aimed at nation-states who oppose Muslim self-determination throughout the world.

Bobbitt argues for a change in uS national law and strategy to meet the new challenges of market-state terrorism, in effect, suggesting that the uS abandon government organized for the well-being of the people of the nation, and change government to emphasize the well-being and maximization of opportunity for individuals, by commodifying everything, including services now provided for the people by the state. This is, in essence, fascism taken to its ultimate global development.

The rhetoric of the market-state is simply neologism for anarcho-capitalism, or free-market capitalism taught and spread by the Chicago School of economics and demonstrated to deadly effect in South American countries by totalitarian dictators propped up by uS power and money.

In Bobbitt's view, the future will be a struggle for world economic supremacy between a newly reorganized global Western market-state, and the Muslim market-state terrorists, such as al-Qa'ida.

There are three silver linings on this cloudy economic and social horizon: 1) Peak Oil; 2) global climate change; and 3) al-Qua'ida.

Peak oil, of course, will limit any vision of a unlimited economic growth as espoused by free-market capitalists. To these creators of their own reality, oil is only one of many freely exchangeable sources of energy that will be replaced by other forms of energy as supply and demand make them economically feasible. There is no shortage of anything, merely the free play of the market, making decisions about what is best. Fortunately, Mother Nature has other plans.

Global climate change is well underway, and unless we make immediate and drastic reductions in fossil fuel use in the next ten years, will result in a world far different than the one in which humans evolved. In other words, the status quo will not long prevail, free-market or none. Any nation-state that does not include this reality in its plans is doomed. The global economy cannot survive in a world thaht cannot grow enough food for hungry billions of humans.

Finally, al-Qa'ida represents a global response to centuries of state terrorism and imperialism from countries that used overwhelming power and violence to extend their hegemony over countries that had resources badly needed to prop up failing capitalist economies around the world. Finally, under the umbrella of a global Muslim economic system, these people have the power to resist, and to meet violence with violence.

As all things become commodified in the new market-state, including weapons, ammunition, weapons of mass destruction and even armies themselves, now anyone with money can create a powerful force of resistance, and export violence to the source of the violence that has historically been visited on them. And, thanks to huge reserves of oil underlying the sands of the Middle East, the oppressed have suddenly come into a great deal of money.

As the anarchists and Socialists of the early 20th Century looked to the Soviet Union as the model of the global revolution to come, today's anarchists can see a future model of decentralized, stateless society in the struggle of the people of the Middle East to gain their independence, self-determination and freedom from oppression.

When I listen to the words of those who resist uS imperialist invasion and occupation of the lands of the Middle East, I don't hear hatred of our freedoms. What I hear is hatred of our intolerance, our bigotry and our our economic oppression. What I hear is a cry for the same freedoms we pretend to enjoy at home.

What do we do here in the united States, where we benefit every day from the destruction of lives and livelihoods in lands far away?

What do we do?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Getting Free:" the response

I finished reading James Herod's Getting Free today. (See yesterday's entry) It's good as far as it goes.

There's one glaring omission: it says nothing about place.

Getting Free is an exclusively urban, human-centered anarchist strategy. Yes, we must displace capitalism and replace it with anarchism. Yes, we must organize locally to provide viable alternatives to the oppressive central state. It is the basis of organization that is lacking in this work.

Herod dances around a hole in the living room floor big enough to drive a Volkswagen bus through. He rejects all historical attempts to organize anarchistically, to oppose the state and to provide social alternatives, while continuing to pretend that humans organize themselves through logical, rational thought rather than genetically evolved responses to their environment. He doesn't understand how human society works (in fact, he rejects all division of social science, including anthropology) as well as historical accounts of how pre-state societies organized and maintained themselves.

This is a major failing of socialist and anarchist thought. For some reason, socialists (if I may lump anarchists in this overbroad grouping) do not understand and rarely consider humans as part of the biological mix, as functioning species in the overall ecosystem web.

Today, facing the twin specters of climate change and peak oil, we must consider how humans will return to living in place, or die out altogether. It's obvious that capitalism cannot prevail in this energy and climate reality. No economy based on unlimited growth can persist in a world of finite resources.

Furthermore, humans "traditionally," biologically and evolutionarily organize themselves naturally in bioregions, that is within meaningful geographical, geological and biological units that are self-evident to those who live intimately within them. 'Twas ever thus. This is the template on which human social organization has been formed historically, until the advent of "cheap" energy in the form of fossil fuels, that allowed humans to ignore, temporarily, this essential connection between animals, including humans, and place.

Therefore, any proposed human social organization must include, as the basic starting point, the bioregion in which the humans live, and the on-going relationships among the humans, the place and the plants and animals with which we co-inhabit in the bioregion. Bioregion is the basis for human freedom, democracy and anarchy, just as it is for all living things.

In the next few weeks, I'll be working on bringing these principles of living in place together with the principles of anarchist social organization, to craft a vision of a possible direction into the dim mists of the future.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Getting Free"

I'm reading a book, by James Herod, called Getting Free: Creating an Association of Democratic Autonomous Neighborhoods. You can read it, and others online, download a .pdf copy or send the author some money and get a real copy.

Getting Free is an excellent expostulation of the principles of local anarchist organization via neighborhood assemblies and associations of assemblies, as I have explained here and elsewhere and which I proposed in a run for Borough Assembly in Fairbanks, Alaska, and promoted in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Herod has very clearly outlined the principles of such anti-capitalist organization, and steps to get from here to there. I have yet to read the other works on his web site, but they look to offer equal promise. I'm a little bit concerned, as the copyright date on the web site is 2007 and he hasn't answered my email query. Time will tell.

Be that as it may... I'm a bit older now than when I ran for Borough Assembly and perhaps a bit.. well, older will have to do. I'm not sure if I'm wiser or just more cynical.

I've come to the realization, through life experience, gentle prodding by wiser comrades and lucky slaps up side the head, that most people in this world just don't want to take more control over their own lives. To use a Rule of Thumb devised by my wife Jean and I, about 10% of the people in our world are concerned with the world around them and care to do much of anything about it. The 10% rule seems to apply whether it's attendance at our Homeowner's Association, our Live Oak Neighbors gatherings or support for preservation of our local greenbelt.

This is not to say that it cannot be otherwise. There is no "Human Nature" carved in stone, hanging over each and every one of our heads, forcing us to be this way. Individuals in this society are this way because this is how they are taught to be. (Notice how I say "they." For some reason, Jean and I escaped this conditioning. I suspect there are a few others... 10% I might guess.)

It is a chicken and egg thing, though. Our society is formed by the way we are, which teaches children how to be human beings in our society. It seems like an inescapable spiral.

However, our society didn't get this way overnight, and it cannot change to another form overnight. It takes time, perseverance, vision and dedication. This is where we come in.

Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Ram Dass told us, "Be here now." Castaneda described the life of the impeccable warrior. It's all the same thing. We each change the world we live in now, so that our life is moving toward a desired state. We remove ourselves from capitalist employment. We engage in and support neighborhood cooperatives, neighborhood assemblies, democratic decision-making. We withdraw our energy and cooperation from oppressive, capitalist institutions.

We work to build a better world here and now, not at some distant place and time. Our actions do not depend on the actions of others.

We have a finite number of decisions to make in the remainder of our lives. We live to make each decision count.

In times of great change, those who stay the same are left behind.

Firing the Nanny

Here's a fellow contemplating moving to the uS from Canada. He's understandably nervous about living in the Police State, with considerable justification.

We uS frogs have been boiled slowly by the militarized constabulary. We've slowly been acculturated to the security apparatus, first at airports, then, increasingly, everywhere else. Homeland Security has inserted its tentacles everywhere, into every orifice that might conceivably harbor subversive thought and action.

This is not to say that we do not appreciate and value our local police, even though they are increasingly falling under the thrall of the Homeland Security beast. Our local police are still our neighbors, friends and relatives. They still share our streets and sidewalks, shop in our stores, gather for our cultural events. Here in Santa Cruz, the chief spokesman for the police department, Zack Friend, (no kidding... really!) performs in a monthly stand-up comedy show.

The Police State does not arise from within, it is imposed from without, in the form of federal money dangled in front of local police departments starving for money to run their departments. With the money comes training, and with training comes indoctrination. So the Police State grows.

Somewhere along the line, we gave up the idea of local control, of local decision-making, of taking responsibility for our own communities, our own neighborhoods, our own lives. We've turned our lives over to the Central Nannies, in the form of City, County, State and federal government bureaucracies, giving them the power to make decisions for us, giving up our power to control our own lives as fully involved, democratic decision-makers.

The answer, of course, is to organize locally in neighborhood assemblies to determine for ourselves our neighborhood problems and what we want to do about them. Some people call it anarchy, I call it democracy.

I don't know if it's possible to organize ourselves in such a form, now that everyone is used to being cared for by the state. It seems we've lost the ability to take care of ourselves, or at least the will to make the effort.

But then, how will we know unless we try?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What will you do when they declare martial law?

The stage is set, the props are in place, the actors are on their marks, all that remains is to open the curtains.

Look at the program: Barak O'Bama, the Muslim Irishman, looks good to beat Ms. Clinton to the podium at the Democratic Convention. John McCain, the right-wing Republican caricature, scowls in grandfatherly fashion as he mumbles his lines, dropping a fact here, a lie there around his wing-tip shoes.

Could the lines be drawn any more distinctly? It's the white, privileged high roller status quo, military-industrial corporate cabal against ... everyone else!

What will Rummy and Rove do when Obama rolls out the landslide victory? How will the military-industrial complex react when Obamaites start talking peace? What will happen when "The People" march into Washington, DC and take over?

I doubt they'll be satisfied with stealing all the "O"s from the White House keyboards.

Think of the convenient excuse another attack on the United States would present to the Current Occupant and the Occupiers:

"Now is not the time to show weakness by changing the administration of this great nation. We must postpone the election for the duration of the emergency."

"We must pull our troops from foreign shores to protect the Homeland."

"The 'Freedom Drones' flying over your cities are for your own protection, their fully armed missiles a mere courtesy detail."

"Papers, pliss?"

Move along; these aren't the droids you're looking for.

In this Atlantic Free Press article, Tom Engelhardt reveals the extent to which the united States military is resorting to targeted drones and remotely launched cruise missiles to attempt to assassinate what are considered to be al-Qua'ida leaders, in remote villages around the world. This is not just in Iraq, having recently been attempted in Somalia, where a Tomahawk cruise missile blew up a small house, killing 4 to 6 (reports vary) innocent women and children. The intended victim was not in the area.

Imagine launching a $1.5 million dollar piece of technocracy from a bazillion dollar warship standing miles off shore, its crew honed to fine readiness, backed up by 300 million "Support the Troops" banners flying safely back in the Homeland. The missile streaks across the water, recognizes the shoreline, follows its internally programmed map inside its glittering rare metal innards and smashes into a single crude mud hut in the middle of the African desert, where its detonates its highly tuned package of explosives, scattering heads and limbs of women and children across the dry, sandy soil outside what once was their home.

This is the face of American power in these modern times, Uncle Sam cowering in a small, dimly lit room, observing the mayhem and horror through a glowing phosphor screen, destroying the lives of innocent civilians across the globe to make the world safe for American hypocrisy.

This is the face of American imperialism: the overwhelming power of indiscriminate killing, the targeted civilians, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, the denial of basic rights to food, water and shelter. This is how we smash our chosen enemies, how we prop up our economy by inventing wars for our military-industrial establishment to play in, to build untold technocratic marvels to send overseas and blow up in the beds and on the dinner tables of unsuspecting mothers, grandfathers, and more than any other, the children who will never have a chance to know a normal childhood.

This is bad enough, this cowardly long-distance destruction in the name of an economic philosophy: corporate capitalism, military Keynesianism, call it whatever fits your viewpoint. It is the propping up of a "way of life" for the residents of a favored country at the expense of the lives and welfare of millions of those unfortunates in the gun sights. It is the abdication of democratic institutions in favor of petty greed, and the puerile lust for power at home.

In the united States, the mayhem is largely ignored. 99 44/100% of the people go about their daily lives completely unaware of the death and destruction visited in their name on children and families just like theirs. Nor is there any connection in their minds between the cheap oil, the fancy electronic gadgetry, the shiny new car, the fine clothes, the warm, creamy latté, the ubiquitous cell phone and the lives of billions of people around the world whose miserable existence makes such luxury possible. The awareness that does exists consists mainly of smug complacency that our "Defense" Department is doing a fine job protecting us from the barbarians who blew up the World Trade Center.

It's good to remember that the industrial-military complex is always looking for new markets to test and deploy its glittering array of weapons systems. And one should recall that Homeland Security here at home is always looking for justifications to increase its influence (and budget) through domestic surveillance and the fostering of armed and dangerous constabularies. Pilotless drones are already being used to observe gatherings of unruly and unpredictable civilians. Surveillance cameras are everywhere, increasingly networked in seething tentacles linked by face recognition and Bugsplat software, all funneled through febrile wires and cables into the dark inner workings of Homeland Security, working safely miles below ground in undisclosed locations.

When will we witness our first crack house taken out by an armed Predator drone? A gang gathering broken up by a remotely controlled robot? And when will we have our first collateral damage as the technology of violent remote oppression comes fully home to roost?

The definitions of "yours" and "mine" are thin, transparent and separated by a tissue thickness of distinction. It will take only a slight breeze in the political winds to turn the sights from "them" to "us."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The immorality of the state

I've been listening to the broadcasts of the "Winter Soldier" hearings, on Democracy Now from Pacifica Radio. It's absolutely gut-wrenching stuff. I remember driving across the country, listening to the first Winter Soldier, broadcast live on Pacifica stations. I switched from one to the next and sped through the zones where I couldn't hear it, as much as one can speed in a 1964 Volkswagen bus.

I think of the immorality of sending young men to a desert thousands of miles away from their homes, where they are encouraged, nay, ordered, to commit the most horrendous atrocities against innocent human beings.

If they just killed people, it would be bad enough. These young men... yes, and some women... are taught to denigrate other humans, to consider them as less than human, to hate them and to take pleasure in hurting, maiming, torturing and cruelly killing them in unspeakable ways.

It's not their fault. Yes, they participated willingly, if any impressionable youth propagandized into joining the military can be said to have done anything willingly. They were thrust not of heir own volition into an alien landscape where people were trying to kill them, with reason, of course. Steeped in a culture of violence and exhorted by their leaders to acts of horrible violence, it's no wonder that they shoot, stab, blow up and bomb their helpless victims, then live with their acts the rest of their lives.

Meanwhile, the perpetrators of these international crimes rest at their ease in obscene comfort and safety thousands of miles away, watching the scene on CNN and Fox Network, smoking their Cuban cigars and sipping on a fine single-malt whiskey. They don't see the blood on their hands, nor do they take credit for the lives of thousands of young men and women permanently scarred and distorted.

If there were any justice in the world Dick Cheney, Joe Lieberman and John McCain would be stripped naked and staked out on a street in Baghdad for the locals to have their way with them. It wouldn't make any difference in the long run, but some folks would sleep better at night.

In the broader view, it is not just cruel, amoral people such as Bush, Cheney and all the others who create such carnage. On their own, they would only be petty tyrants, neighborhood thugs, confidence tricksters and carnival hucksters, easily dealt with by an armed and aroused vigilante society.

Given access to the reins of the state, however, their immorality takes on global proportions, where they can ratchet up their murder, rape and pillage to epic proportions, relegating Genghis Kahn, Ivan the Terrible and the Celtic hordes to mere amateur status, neighborhood bullies, local ruffians. Adolph Hitler had nothing on Dick Cheney when it comes to roughing up the neighbors.

The most frustrating part of it all is that we citizens can do nothing to rein in the excesses of state power. The political process is controlled and pre-ordained. Elections consist of "which corrupt politician would you prefer to guide the imperialist ship of state?"

The answer is "None of the above." The only rational response to a corrupt state is non-cooperation. This does not mean no political involvement at all. It means concentration on local politics and local decision making, where we live, were our decisions have immediate results, immediate consequences and where those we vote for have immediate responsibility to the electorate.

All together now... face Washington, D.C., place your right hand over your heart and repeat ofter me:


Sunday, March 02, 2008

This is Democracy?

Clinton, McCain, Obama... White woman; white man; sort of black guy.

If this were a contest for most photogenic politician, one might say we have a choice.

If this is a contest for leader of the united States, we've slipped into totalitarianism.

How is it that the political spectrum represented in these candidates goes from Far Right to Slightly Right of Middle?

All the candidates support uS imperial expansion in the Middle East and the invasion of Iraq (aka, "Support the Troops"). All the candidates support a constantly expanding capitalist economy. All the candidates support economic centralization, privatization, and Federal Reserve hegemony. All support a "health care system" based on bloated health insurance corporations.

None of the candidates acknowledge Peak Oil and its inevitable consequences for local economies. None of the candidates acknowledge the causes and effects of climate change and the impact it will have on human societies. None of the candidates have any rational environmental understanding or proposals for the future.

In short, Clinton, McCain and Obama are the perfect candidates for 2008, as they closely mirror the ignorance, apathy and lack of political sophistication of the American electorate.

Where is the candidate representing a steady-state economy, informing the public about the ultimate failure of capitalism? Where is the candidate representing simple, non-consumerist living? Where is the candidate representing a rational world-view devoid of religious mythology? Where are the anti-war, anti-imperialism, pro-peace candidates? Where are the vegetarian, single-payer medical care, protect critical habitat, animal rights candidates?

Where are the choices?

There are none.

This is a totalitarian election in a totalitarian state. Voters have a clear choice between moderate, right-wing Republicans and middle of road, centrists Democrats. The electorate is offered the choice between the status-quo and intensification of the status-quo.

The road goes ever onward, with nary a turn nor intersection in sight. The bridge over the chasm is out and the driver has ripped up all the warning signs. As we "tip over" the edge, it will be a fast and exhilarating ride down, until the inevitable hard stop at the bottom.

Do we have a choice? Not unless we wrest the steering wheel away from the driver and apply the brakes...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Loyalty to What?

Here's a California story that made Commondreams:Quaker Teacher Fired For Changing Loyalty Oath

Now I'm glad I never found a job at the University , or Cabrillo College. It seems that anyone who works even marginally for the state, even as a contractor, must sign a loyalty oath to the united States and the State of California.

This is a Homeland Security requirement, no doubt, meaningless as it is. It serves only to put employees on notice that they are being watched and their loyalty is constantly being judged by the watchers, who, of course, are above suspicion.

Loyalty oaths were employed extensively during World War II and the Cold War in the United States, when they were publicly demanded of those accused of Communist Party membership. It was a public display of the power of the state, much as "confessions" and recantations were used during the Inquisition. Loyalty oaths gives the State an appearance of power over the lives of individuals.

It is only when individuals refuse to cooperate with the trappings of power that the illusion is shattered. The Quaker woman in the story above refused to comply and was summarily fired. She, of course, is just fine, having strong convictions and confidence in her own self-worth. It is the University and the State that loses in this transaction, demonstrating their illegitimacy and compromising their ability to attract and keep quality employees.