Category Archives: Politics

Climate Congress 2014 – The Contract with Climate

The election season is in full hysterical mode.  The dems are beating on progressives who are fleeing to Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson, the repubs are beating on the dems with all the corporate money and psycho-linguistic technology they can muster and behind the scenes somewhere we have a bunch of faceless (poor things, they don’t have faces) IT folks who are gearing up to do whatever they are supposed to do with the vote-counting technology to tabulate votes on November 6th.

Michael Connell will not be available to help with the information technology tasks in this election cycle.  His private plane crashed and he was killed before he was available to testify about the 2004 Ohio vote-counting, “man in the middle” controversy.

There is lots to worry about in this election cycle even with the tragedy of Michael Connell’s death in 2008.  But let’s get real, this election is in the can.  Yes, we should all work on getting out the votes for progressive candidates, for local initiatives that might produce change, but the change is not coming by defeating Romney, the change is not coming in this election cycle.

Our best progressive shot happens with the mid term election of 2014.   I believe we have three primary branches of govt here in the US of A.  The judicial is captured by 4 solidly corporate, reactionary justices, with a conservative swing vote held by Anthony Kennedy.   The remaining justices are solidly liberal, but are aging and out-numbered 5 to 4.  This is the 5 to 4 court, not the Roberts Court.  And it will be the 5 to 4 Court for a very long time.  Right wingers do not have to control the Senate to keep a Dem president from appointing a William O. Douglas or Thurgood Marshall type justice to the Court, they only have to obstruct appointments in a manner that the Dems will never do to a Republican potus.  Need evidence of that?  Samual Alito?  Clarence Thomas?  John Roberts?  Do these names ring a bell?  Yes, the dems borked poor Robert Bork, but that was a long time ago and poor Robert Bork had served Richard Nixon too well.  Robert Bork borked himself in the Saturday night massacre, he was just a late victim of that miserable public affair.

The pick at the top of the ticket in this election is a hobbesian choice.  Both of the candidates are firmly in the control of the big money folks, the have-mores as George W called them.   Romney might claim to be the candidate of the 53%, but that’s not true, he is the Emperor of Bain Capital.  Read’m and weep.

Obama?  Sad sack.  I voted for him once upon a time.  I didn’t believe in him at that time, but I was willing to give it a shot.  The Dems are always saying, please, just give us one more chance.  I thought why not? in 2008 and voted Obama.  I wanted Dean or Kucinich, but the Bainsters who control our political system are not going to allow that kind of option, so I voted Obama.  I used to say that the only republican I ever voted for as President was Bill Clinton, but now I have done it twice.  Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice…    I won’t get fooled again or something like that, Bushisms are so complex in their inanity that they approach genius.

Here is an interesting video that makes the point that the electorate really is trying to choose between pepsi or coke for potus.  Tastes better, less filling, tastes better…

Leaves a bad taste.  Thanks to Slate, David Weigel, and Luke Rudowski at We Are Change for this work.

I will be back in a day or two to talk about Climate Congress 2014 – The Contract with Climate.

Top of the list?   Carbon Tax, baby!   A twofer.  We jam the environmental destroyers, the petro-bainsters and we fix the deficit in one fell swoop.   I love a fell swoop.

Scott Crow is in Olympia

Activist, anarchist, writer, organizer – Scott Crow – is going to be in Olympia for a few speaking engagements over the next few days.  He will be at South Puget Sound Community College on Oct 25th at noon, Room 102, Building 26

Then he will be at Last Word Books on Friday, Oct 26th at 7:30 pm.  and one more time in Oly on Monday,  Oct 29th at Lecture Hall 2, The Evergreen State College at noon.

Want to understand anarchism?   Learn more about it.  It’s not what you may think.

Want to continue to misunderstand and misrepresent anarchism?  As Bobby Dylan said, “you are going to have to serve somebody…”    Choose today,  who will you serve?  You are going to have to serve somebody.

 Black Flags and Radical Relief Efforts in New Orleans: An Interview with scott crow

Author and activist scott crow

“Solidarity not Charity” is a way of feeding people while addressing the underlying problems that cause hunger. The way this manifested itself in Common Ground was to immediately deliver and render aid where the state had failed, and then to leave structures in place so communities can continue to rebuild themselves as they see fit.”

Interview by Stevie Peace & Kevin Van Meter

 In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina both federal and local authorities failed the population of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. As a result, relief efforts from various sectors of American society flowed south. One of the first and most spectacular and aggressive efforts was Common Ground Relief — formed by strands of the anti-globalization and anarchist movements. scott crow documents these struggles in “Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy, and the Common Ground Collective”, recently released by PM Press. In this interview, Crow describes the process of becoming an author after being an organizer, reviews the history and myths of Common Ground and explores possible lessons for future progressive and radical organizing. Visit crow’s website at http://scottcrow.org/. 

Can you speak to the writing process behind “Black Flags and Windmills” and your shift from an organizer to an author?

One word: difficult. I don’t consider myself a writer; and while I have written a few pieces over the years, it has mostly been out of necessity. From my arrival in New Orleans I took copious notes. Every time I would get moments to get away, I would take notes about organizing and creating an organization to deal with the disaster following Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, I wrote communiqués from just days after the storm and continued for three years. I went back to all of those writings and began turning them into chapters. On a personal level it was healing to write: I came back with post-traumatic stress, couldn’t function in society and felt like the ghost in the machine a lot. The writing actually helped me to relive those traumas in a different way, to really dissect them. It was almost a five-year process; I feel so much better now than I did when I started the book. This is not to say that “Black Flags and Windmills” is a sorrow-filled book. There are lots of beautiful stories along the way and lots of really engaging organizing that was going on. The book describes the anarchist heyday of Common Ground, when the most self-identified anarchists came; this was early September 2005 until 2008. Afterward, the organization became much more structured in a traditional nonprofit way. This is not to denigrate it — just to say that the book focuses on this initial period of “black flags” at Common Ground.

Since memory is a tricky thing, I did outside research and revisited with people. I went back to news articles from grassroots media, reports and blogs to look at specific events and the way things unfolded. Then, I would ask key organizers and New Orleans residents, “Do you remember when this thing happened?” Sometimes it was completely different from how I remembered it. I don’t claim to speak for Common Ground, as I think that would do a disservice to the thousands of people who participated and the hundreds of key organizers that were there.

When I tell a story I want people to understand it and create common bonds. I wrote this book for people who might not have any understanding about radical or anarchist concepts. I always ask myself, “What would my mom think about this?” While I wrote it for people like her, my target audience was those who were coming into movements and might be inspired by what Common Ground was building. I used the stories in the book to give a primer on the theoretical background of anarchism in practice. Another part of the book is telling my own personal narrative. It’s not because I think my story is important, but I wanted to show that I am a regular person that was just caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

 Want to know more?  Read the whole piece.  Come sit in on one of the events.

Our Precious Freedoms

Three quotes for the day, courtesy Liberty Quotes.

“It is by the goodness of God that in our country
we have those three unspeakably precious things:
freedom of speech, freedom of conscience,
and the prudence never to practice either.”
— Mark Twain
[Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835-1910)


“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise,
we don’t believe in it at all.”
— Noam Chomsky
(1928- ) American linguist and political writer
Source: Guardian, 23 November 1992


“I believe in my right to be wrong,
and still more in my right to be right.”
— Owen Lattimore

Get out there, get it right. If change is coming, you are bringing it.

Chomsky on Anarchism

for those with an open mind who want to know more about anarchism:

Noam Chomsky on Anarchism, Marxism & Hope for the Future


  Noam Chomsky is widely known for his critique of U.S foreign policy, and for his work as a linguist. Less well known is his ongoing support for libertarian socialist objectives. In a special interview done for Red and Black Revolution, Chomsky gives his views on anarchism and marxism, and the prospects for socialism now. The interview was conducted in May 1995 by Kevin Doyle.

 

RBR: First off, Noam, for quite a time now you’ve been an advocate for the anarchist idea. Many people are familiar with the introduction you wrote in 1970 to Daniel Guerin’s Anarchism: From Theory to Practice, but more recently, for instance in the film Manufacturing Dissent, you took the opportunity to highlight again the potential of anarchism and the anarchist idea. What is it that attracts you to anarchism?

CHOMSKY: I was attracted to anarchism as a young teenager, as soon as I began to think about the world beyond a pretty narrow range, and haven’t seen much reason to revise those early attitudes since. I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom. That includes political power, ownership and management, relations among men and women, parents and children, our control over the fate of future generations (the basic moral imperative behind the environmental movement, in my view), and much else. Naturally this means

a challenge to the huge institutions of coercion and control: the state, the unaccountable private tyrannies that control most of the domestic and international economy, and so on. But not only these. That is what I have always understood to be the essence of anarchism: the conviction that the burden of proof has to be placed on authority, and that it should be dismantled if that burden cannot be met. Sometimes the burden can be met.

If I’m taking a walk with my grandchildren and they dart out into a busy street, I will use not only authority but also physical coercion to stop them. The act should be challenged, but I think it can readily meet the challenge. And there are other cases; life is a complex affair, we understand very little about humans and society, and grand pronouncements are generally more a source of harm than of benefit. But the perspective is a valid one, I think, and can lead us quite a long way.

Beyond such generalities, we begin to look at cases, which is where the questions of human interest and concern arise.

 

Anarchist banner

 

RBR: It’s true to say that your ideas and critique are now more widely known than ever before. It should also be said that your views are widely respected. How do you think your support for anarchism is received in this context? In particular, I’m interested in the response you receive from people who are getting interested in politics for the first time and who may, perhaps, have come across your views. Are such people surprised by your support for anarchism? Are they interested?

CHOMSKY: The general intellectual culture, as you know, associates ‘anarchism’ with chaos, violence, bombs, disruption, and so on. So people are often surprised when I speak positively of anarchism and identify myself with leading traditions within it. But my impression is that among the general public, the basic ideas seem reasonable when the clouds are cleared away. Of course, when we turn to specific matters – say, the nature of families, or how an economy would work in a society that is more free and just – questions and controversy arise. But that is as it should be. Physics can’t really explain how water flows from the tap in your sink. When we turn to vastly more complex questions of human significance, understanding is very thin, and there is plenty of room for disagreement, experimentation, both intellectual and real-life exploration of possibilities, to help us learn more.

RBR: Perhaps, more than any other idea, anarchism has suffered from the problem of misrepresentation. Anarchism can mean many things to many people. Do you often find yourself having to explain what it is that you mean by anarchism? Does the misrepresentation of anarchism bother you?

CHOMSKY: All misrepresentation is a nuisance. Much of it can be traced back to structures of power that have an interest in preventing understanding, for pretty obvious reasons. It’s well to recall David Hume’s Principles of Government. He expressed surprise that people ever submitted to their rulers. He concluded that since Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. ‘Tis therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular. Hume was very astute – and incidentally, hardly a libertarian by the standards of the day. He surely underestimates the efficacy of force, but his observation seems to me basically correct, and important, particularly in the more free societies, where the art of controlling opinion is therefore far more refined. Misrepresentation and other forms of befuddlement are a natural concomitant.

So does misrepresentation bother me? Sure, but so does rotten weather. It will exist as long as concentrations of power engender a kind of commissar class to defend them. Since they are usually not very bright, or are bright enough to know that they’d better avoid the arena of fact and argument, they’ll turn to misrepresentation, vilification, and other devices that are available to those who know that they’ll be protected by the various means available to the powerful. We should understand why all this occurs, and unravel it as best we can. That’s part of the project of liberation – of ourselves and others, or more reasonably, of people working together to achieve these aims.

Sounds simple-minded, and it is. But I have yet to find much commentary on human life and society that is not simple-minded, when absurdity and self-serving posturing are cleared away.

RBR: How about in more established left-wing circles, where one might expect to find greater familiarity with what anarchism actually stands for? Do you encounter any surprise here at your views and support for anarchism?

read the whole piece?  Please do so.  Time with Chomsky is almost always time well spent.

Ocean Report

A couple of items on things oceanic came to my attention this week.

NYT had a story on collapse of the cod fishery:

The Shocking News About Cod

The ideal fish for human consumption would mature quickly and reproduce in staggering numbers.

Courtesy Wiki Commons NOAA

This does not describe the Atlantic cod. Cod mature late — at 4 to 6 years old — and they can live as long as 25 years. Female cod do, in fact, produce astonishing numbers of eggs. But older cod lay two or three times as many eggs as younger cod. This means that a healthy cod population must include relatively large numbers of older fish.

For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.

A recent survey of cod catches in Northern Europe shows exactly the opposite. Extrapolating from survey numbers, scientists at a British government fisheries agency estimate that there are nearly 200 million 1-year-old cod in the North Sea but only 18 million 3-year-olds. As for older cod, the numbers are shocking. The survey team estimates that in 2011 there were only 600 12- to 13-year-old cod, a third of which were caught, and not a single fish older than 13 has been caught in the past year.

Read the whole article?  Important stuff.

Paul Pickett in Oly shared this new NOAA app that shows sea level rise and coastal impacts. We have been talking in Oly about actions by the Washington State Department of Ecology.  DOE has blocked a shoreline plan in Jefferson County that prohibited pen fish farming.  This is the industrial practice of raising fish such as Atlantic salmon in pens.  We don’t healthy fisheries if we can raise fish to eat in pens.  Ecology is also stepping in on the the Olympia shoreline plan in ways that may help the Port of Olympia and thwart environmental action that has wide public support.  We are talking in Olympia about how regulatory agencies can be captured by the industries they regulate and what we can do about it.

I think we have to ask the right question and that question is “why would regulatory agencies thwart reasonable environmental actions?”  The answer is profit, capitalism; economic interests are in control and dictate to us all.  Disaster capitalism.  Disaster, capitalism.  Disaster. Capitalism.

Here is the sea level rise app.  NOAA is not a regulatory agency per ser, more of a pure science agency.  It’s harder to capture science agencies than it is to capture regulatory agencies who are able to weigh science against economic interests.

It’s kind of tragic and ironic that we are both depleting the ocean and increasing the ocean’s coverage of the planet at the same time. The Greenland ice cap is melting.  Start looking hard at the sea level rise application and plan accordingly.  There are going to be some opportunities for profit in the coming troubles.

Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer

NOAA Coastal Services Center

Features

  • Displays potential future sea levels
  • Provides simulations of sea level rise at local landmarks
  • Communicates the spatial uncertainty of mapped sea levels
  • Models potential marsh migration due to sea level rise
  • Overlays social and economic data onto potential sea level rise
  • Examines how tidal flooding will become more frequent with sea level rise

Overview

View the current status of the tool.

Being able to visualize potential impacts from sea level rise is a powerful teaching and planning tool, and the Sea Level Rise Viewer brings this capability to coastal communities. A slider bar is used to show how various levels of sea level rise will impact coastal communities. Completed areas include Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, with additional coastal counties to be added in the near future. Visuals and the accompanying data and information cover sea level rise inundation, uncertainty, flood frequency, marsh impacts, and socioeconomics.

Launch Now

Acknowledgements

The NOAA Coastal Services Center would like to acknowledge those organizations that provided direct content used in this tool or feedback, ideas, and reviews over the course of the tool’s development. Specifically the Center would like to acknowledge the following groups.

Here is the link to the main page for this NOAA app.

Open versus Closed Societies

Let’s assume that a person really wanted to understand a foreign philosophy, a different way of setting up a society.  If that was the case, I would recommend listening to Suzanne Guerlac talk about the philosophy of Henri Bergson.  Thinking in Time

This is a dense program, but Suzanne is articulate and the interviewer asks probing intelligent questions, so if you have an hour where you really want to listen closely, I heartily recommend this program.  It is especially powerful when Suzanne starts talking about how the evolution from a closed society to an open society is not an easy evolutionary transition, that Bergson thought it would take some sort of fundamental change in way of being to occur.  Imagining that sort of thing is difficult.  Yet those moments occur.  Think Solidarity in Poland.  Think the fall of the USSR, the sudden destruction of the Berlin Wall.  In those moments, I suspect that an open society emerged, however briefly, before a closed society reasserted itself.  Fits and starts.  Evolution and change may not be orderly.

So, open societies.  What would that look like?  Listen hard to Guerlac’s discussion of love and livingness as something new, not love that arises with an object that is loved by a subject who loves, but when love arises in reference to all living things.  Pretty amorphous stuff.  And for those of you who need a lot of structure, this is not going to be your cup of vegan broth.  But if you want to stretch a bit, and you want to commit the energy, I think this program will stretch you.

Against the Grain appears to be a wildly intelligent program.   My friend Gar Lipow is the latest guest.  Gar is talking about climate change and economic exploitation.   Suzanne is so last week.

If you make it through the Open Society talk and thinking in time ala Bergson, and you want to think more about open societies, you could check out the mp3s at Audio Anarchy  .  The Anarchy Tension series is a good place to start if you have an open mind.  You may come to the conclusion that this is simple utopian sophistry, that might be true, but it may also be true that if/when an open society emerges, this could be one of the ways that it will happen.  This might be the shapeless shape of a certain kind of open society.

See some of you there.

Pinata Economics

I have been thinking about Romney and the general casino-style financial sector that has been preying on the US and the world over the past decade and the image of a pinata came to mind.  Pinata economics.  The willingness, the glee of smashing something pretty to get at the goodies inside really seems to fit with the get really rich really quick schemed of leveraged buyout.

In These Times has a couple of good articles in the September 2012 issue.  One is The Bain Legacy and the other How to Succeed in Business Without Adding Value.  Both by David Moberg.   I recommend reading them both.

Courtesy Paul Sapiano and Wiki Commons

 

 

Courtesy Gage Skidmore Wiki Commons

 

 

 

 

    Pinata Economics.  I should probably claim intellectual property rights to that term and sell it to the highest bidder.  Isn’t that the way these things work?

Wish I knew how to put the  ~ symbol on top of the N.

Lo siento, amigos.

Winning the War of Position

 Austin Kelly sent along this link.

Winning the War of Position

August 19, 2012

| Filed under For discussion


This article makes a number of arguments about the direction the IWW should take in its organizing, including taking a longer-term perspective than the next few years. 

Winning the War of Position: Working-Class Hegemony and Class Unionism
by B.C.

It is readily apparent to any working-class person that the economic oppressions of capitalist society, numerous though they may be, are only one facet of the system of social control exercised by bourgeois society. The dominant culture is one of homogenous individualism, materialism, and intellectual vapidity. It is not a culture natural to a free and free-thinking people; but rather a culture designed to maintain the integrity of an unjust social order, designed to favor an exploiting class over a mass of oppressed working people – using each and every tool, political and ideological, that it can exploit in its battle for continued dominance.

Read the whole article? 

Oh yeah,  a republican congressman said something stupid about birth control and a lot of the media thought that was news.    It may be an entertaining story and it’s always fun to see a politician twist in the wind, but I don’t think it’s news that right-wingers are ignorant on topics of science, biology, conception etc.  It is kind of ironic that this particular ignorant republican congressman sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.  But hey, he sits there, drawing a salary, nobody claims he brings anything to the table.