JOE BIDEN AND ME

11 08 2019

in his own write….

I have a confession to make. While I’ve been a very faithful Green Party supporter for nearly twenty years, if by some fluke Bernie Sanders became the Democratic nominee, I would almost certainly vote for him, just in an effort to widen the scope of permissible political discourse in this country. But it looks like it’s not going to be Bernie, but Joe Biden. Sorry, Joe, the answer’s no.

“What? Not even to get Trump out of office? How could you?”

Why won’t I, under any circumstances, support Joe Biden as a Presidential candidate?  Because he has championed numerous laws and policies that have had a direct negative effect on me, my family, and my friends. Let me count the ways:

Biden supported the drug war and mandatory minimum sentencing that entrapped, imprisoned, and impoverished several of my best friends–not to mention my oldest son–for victimless crimes involving substances that are now recognized as harmless, valuable sources of healing, and are, in many cases, completely legal. And then there’s the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity, also his baby. I’m grateful nobody in my family has gotten mixed up with cocaine, and I don’t know that I know anybody who was directly affected by this law, which amounted to legislated discrimination against lower-class African-Americans, but just because I don’t know any of Joe’s victims for this one doesn’t mean I’m giving him a pass on it.

Biden was one of the leaders of the drive to switch from grants to loans for students, admitting that he was doing this to enrich the banking industry, ensnaring a huge number of young people in this country (including another of my children and my son-in-law)) in debt peonage that hobbles every aspect of their lives, from their ability to buy homes and start families to their ability to embark on projects that are exciting and creative, but not necessarily remunerative, like working for social change. Joe Biden made sure that student debt, unlike any other debt, cannot be erased by bankruptcy. That, and the high level of debt a young person must take on to get a college degree, are what I mean by debt peonage.  Yeah, I think that the unspoken motive behind what Joe did was the establishment’s desire to choke off the counterculture. In fact, he even spoke it.  Here are Biden’s exact words:

“We’ve got to make education a profit center for the banks. Our purpose is not to educate the population, it’s to create a situation where in order to get a job, in order to get a union card, they have to go into a lifetime of debt to the banks that cannot be wiped out by bankruptcy.”

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HEADING FOR THE LAST RUNOFF?

11 08 2019

We’ve had an election in Nashville since the last time I talked to you, but the results are….well, uncertain. The mayoral race is headed for a runoff between incumbent David Briley and Bob Cooper. As a side note, John Ray Clemmons, who was endorsed by “Our Revolution,” the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, came in a distant fourth. In the Metro Council at-large race, only Bob Mendes secured a seat by passing the 10% threshold. Eight candidates, Zulfat Suara, incumbent Sharon Hurt, Sheri and Weiner, Burkley Allen, Fabian Bedne, Howard Jones, Steve Glover and Gary Moore, will be facing each other in a runoff election on September 12. There will also be some runoffs for district seats. One of these runoffs involves a woman named Ginny Welsch, who just might have something to do with WRFN. I’m being vague because I’m not sure what details of election law might be applicable if she is associated with the station, knowhatImean?

I haven’ t been able to locate turnout figures for this year’s election, but, if the last couple of Metro elections are any guide, it was about 30%. Surprisingly, turnout for runoff elections doesn’t seem to drop off, which I suspected might be the case, but it costs the city the same amount for a citywide runoff as it does for the initial election. about three-quarters of a million dollars, which is not chump change, especially in a budget-strapped, infrastructure-challenged town like this.

The city had considered adopting ranked-choice voting, but some council members expressed concern that it would confuse voters, or couldn’t quite grasp how it would work themselves. When I looked into it, I found that the process is mostly simple enough to be explained in very short videos. The one thing that hung me up at first was expanding the concept to our somewhat unusual council-at-large situation, where voters select not one, but five candidates. I contacted Ranked Choice Tennessee, the statewide advocacy organization for ranked-choice voting and proportional representation, and it only took one sentence from them to make it clear to me. So, what I’m going to do, after I talk about the candidates who made it into the runoff, is show how ranked choice voting would work in the at-large council election we just had, by imagining who might have been voters’ second choices and running the numbers.

First, however, I want to give a shoutout to Aaron Fowles, one of those people I talked about earlier who get involved with The Green Party and then go on to other social change modes.  Aaron was our state Green Party chair for a while, but is now spending his activist time with Ranked Choice Tennessee. That seems to me like a logical progression.

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ASKING INCONVENIENT QUESTIONS

14 07 2019

As long-time readers of this blog know, I ran for an at-large seat on the Metro Nashville Council in 2015, mostly in an effort to publicize the long-term concerns I express. I received a couple of thousand votes and came in second to last. I said I’d be back, but when this election cycle came around, I didn’t file papers to run, for several reasons. First, somebody asked me to run last time, and nobody asked this time. Second, as I ran last time and got a better understanding of what was involved, it seemed that, if I ran again, I would have to run with the pledge that I would hire somebody as a legal consultant to help me translate my somewhat radical proposals into Legalese, the language in which our governments do business. From there, I concluded that it would be more efficient, and more credible to the voting public, if I, or the “we” that constitutes the local Green Party, simply found a lawyer who shared my/our values, and offered to help her or his campaign. And that’s as far as that got.

A few weeks ago, after attending a Mayoral candidates’ forum in which my concerns for Nashville’s long-term stability were not addressed, I wrote the following letter to all four major Mayoral candidates, and to the ten at-large council candidates I think have the best chance of winning. Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Candidate:

I ran for at-large Metro Council in the last election. For a variety of reasons, I’m not in the race this time, but I still have the concerns I ran on four years ago, and I am still writing my blog and doing my radio show, and that is why I am writing you now. I would like to hear from you about “my issues,” and I would like to share your response (and comment on it) as my next radio show/blog post, which will air/be published in mid-July, so I am also asking your permission to publish your response. If I need to do any editing/condensing, I will share my proposed edit with you, to make sure that I have preserved your intentions. Here’s what I’m asking:

The way I see it, Nashville is currently enjoying an extraordinarily prosperous period, especially compared to a great many other cities in this country, and regions of the world. However, the same crises that have overtaken them loom over us—a runaway climate crisis, an increasingly fragile national economy, and the rapidly approaching exhaustion of many of the material resources our civilization depends on, from fossil fuels to rare earth metals to fish, forests, fertile soil, and clean water. To what extent do these factors inform your political agenda?

To what extent do you share my concerns? What do you think the city should, could, or is likely to do in response to them?

Thank you for your time and attention.

No mayoral candidate wrote me back, although Facebook Messenger informed me that John Ray Clemmons opened my letter–at 7:30 in the morning. I hope that some day we will find out that it served as a wake up call for him.

I did better with the council races, with six responses to ten letters sent. Three of the candidates who didn’t respond are the ones who are generally identified as Republicans, although technically Metro Council races are non-partisan. The fourth non-responder was Gicola Lane, one of the organizers behind the initiative that established a Police Review Board here in Nashville.

I can understand why a political candidate would be inclined to handle my questions very gingerly. Al Gore nailed it when he called climate change “an inconvenient truth.” It’s easy to see human history as an increasingly rapid spiral into greater wealth and technological complexity. By and large, people don’t want to imagine that things might move some other way– a spiral of decreasing resources, complexity, and expectations. As Bill Clinton is rumoured to have said, “Nobody ever got elected by promising the American people less.” When Winston Churchill told the British people, “I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat, toil, and tears,” he wasn’t running for office, he had just been elected, and the Germans were taking over Europe and saturation-bombing Britain as a prelude to invasion.

It’s difficult to get people to see that we are in a “blood, sweat, toil, and tears” situation with climate change. Instead of an invading army, we are threatened by the way our own actions are skewing the planet’s climate into a “normal” that is far less human-friendly than the climate in which we have evolved as a species. So far, for most Americans, that change is nibbling at daily life, rather than devouring it wholesale, and so, for most of us in America, and especially here in Nashville, it is possible to live as if nothing has changed or is going to change. City election issues can be restricted to budgets and taxes,  infrastructure, zoning, education, policing, and similar daily life issues. These mundane issues offer almost infinite details to keep us occupied and keep us from looking at the longer-term questions I have been asking. When our community governments do address these questions, they will tend to do so in the context of the short-term, daily-life issues they are used to dealing with. With that in mind, let’s go through the responses I received, with some commentary from me, and then I will suggest a few things the city could do that would tend to steer the city, just as it is, into an entity that is better prepared to deal with the financial and material shortages and extreme weather events that we are likely to see in the mid-term future. Read the rest of this entry »





GREENER PASTURES

9 06 2019

The recent European Parliament elections were very heartening for Greens, with the Green Party frequently being second or third in total number of votes in any given country.  There is some chance that the next President of the European Commission will be a Green. Tonight I’ll be looking at what I consider the three most important contexts of this victory. The first is as it relates to the general growth and maturity of Europe’s Green Parties. The second is the differences between European democracy and American democracy that have enabled the rise of Europe’s Green Parties, while the Green Party in this country has unfortunately remained little more than a footnote. The third is how the Green Party’s ascension fits into the overall context of European, and American, politics.2019-MEP-results

Green Parties are deeply involved in the governance of many countries in Europe. While the Green Party of England and Wales isn’t well represented in England’s Parliament, it has a strong local presence, and elected seven out of Britain’s seventy-three representatives in the European Parliament, including one who had been the Mayor of Sheffield, England’s third-largest city. The Green Party of Ireland has maintained a Parliamentary presence for much of its history and been part of the ruling coalition at times. Read the rest of this entry »





AN APPRECIATION OF NATURAL/CO-OPERATIVE BIRTH CONTROL

5 05 2019

opening music: The Clash Lovers’ Rock

May Day, Beltane, is almost here. It’s the height of the mating season, so it seems like a good time to talk about green sex–and when I say “green sex,” I’m not talking about inexperienced people getting it on. I’m talking about the ecology, and psychology, of our reproductive urge.

A few months back, one of my favorite news reporters/commentators, Eleanor Goldfield, did a story  attacking the Trump administration’s decision to only give women advice on natural birth control, rather than providing condoms, birth control pills, or IUDs. In the process, she also attacked natural birth control itself.  (I prefer to call it “co-operative birth control” for reasons I’ll go into later.)

First of all, I don’t think it’s appropriate to impose natural birth control on women/couples, any more than it’s appropriate for somebody else to interfere in a woman’s decision about whether to carry a pregnancy to term. Not only is it wrong for the state/church to do that, but hey—people who are forced into a behavior they don’t freely adopt, whether it’s birth control or an exercise program, are not going to practice it as carefully as those who embark on such a course of action voluntarily.s However, as a man who was voluntarily involved in the practice of natural birth control for fifteen years in my first marriage and the ten “fertile years” of my second marriage, I had to speak up on behalf of the natural method. What follows is a revised and expanded version of the comment I made on her video.

Although it has been criticized as ineffective, natural birth control can be quite precise. Vaginal mucous changes around ovulation, morphing from a consistency that tends to keep sperm out to a consistency that tends to pull it in, and this is easy to check. Between that and three minutes with a thermometer first thing in the morning, which allows a woman to know when her fertile time of the month is about to start, it’s not difficult for a woman to know if she’s fertile. The thermometer is the only purchase necessary to practice natural birth control. As someone who does his best not to be a “consumer,” having a birth control method that does not involve the frequent purchase of industrially created products is a big plus. My first wife and I practiced this as our sole form of birth control for thirteen years with only one unintended pregnancy, two years in, due to cyclical disruption while travelling. One unintended pregnancy in over twenty years is, I think, a pretty good ‘batting average.” Read the rest of this entry »





INITIATION

5 05 2019

This is the final chapter of “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible,” by charles Eisenstein. The book is available on line here. Please consider supporting Charles’ visionary, transformative work by purchasing this book, or another of his works.

A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.

―Jorge Luis Borges

But will we make it? If, as in so many other questions, evidence and reason alone are insufficient to determine a belief, then how will we answer that question—especially when the answer implicates everything else, even our basic stories of self and world. I offered an answer earlier: to choose the story you will stand in.

How to choose? What will you believe, given how easily reason, logic, and evidence are conscripted to the service of a story? Here is an alternative: Choose the story that best embodies who you really are, who you wish to be, and who you are in fact becoming.

Behind the fog of helplessness of the question “Will we make it?” is a gateway to our power to choose and to create. Because written on its threshold is another question, the real question: “Who am I?”…….

initiation

music: REM “You Are The Everything

Eliza Gilkyson “Lifelines”

Rumors of the Big Wave “The Only Green World





BIG BROTHER MAKES HIS MOVE ON JULIAN ASSANGE

14 04 2019

Julian Assange’s arrest this week was not unexpected, but it happened late enough in the week that I have been unable to come up with my own story about it. Plenty of more perceptive, more eloquent, more popular  writers and speakers  than I have, so I’ll leave it to them, at least for now, and, since this is a a Green Party show, I’ll read you the official Green Party press release, which includes the notorious “collateral murder” video,  as an example of what got Assange and Manning in hot water. This “classified document” has been viewed by over sixteen million people.

Anyway, here’s the Green Party statement:

The Green Party of the United States strongly and unequivocally condemns the arrest of Julian Assange and calls for his immediate release. Assange was expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London this morning and is being held in the United Kingdom for extradition to the United States, where he is very likely to face espionage charges. Assange is the publisher of Wikileaks, which published documents exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, human rights violations at the Guantanamo Bay prison and State Department cables that showed corporate corruption of US foreign policy.

Members of the Green Party have organized a protest today at 5:00 pm outside of the British Embassy in Washington, DC, located at 3100 Massachusetts Ave., NW at 5 pm. Another action is in New York City at 845 Third Avenue at 4:30 pm.

In April 2010, Wikileaks posted on its site the famous 17-minute video, entitled “Collateral Murder,” of an incident in Baghdad that took place in July 2007, in which the crew of a US Apache helicopter killed two unarmed employees of Reuters and gravely wounded two small children of a man who was merely attempting to assist one of the dying Reuters men. The video, seen to date by over 16 million people on YouTube, revealed to people worldwide the ugly nature of the Iraq War, which the Green Party opposed from the start, not the sanitized version propagated by the U.S. government.

Since that time, Assange has endured smears by the media and fierce condemnation by US politicians, including even calls for the death penalty. In the resulting hysteria, the dire implications of this attempted silencing of an uncompromising publisher have been ignored, even by mainstream media outlets that have the most to lose by ignoring them.

“Freedom of the Press in the 21st Century is under unprecedented attack and the arrest with the prosecution of Julian Assange represents perhaps the most dangerous manifestation of this trend,” said Kevin Zeese, member of the Maryland Green Party coordinating council and advisory board member of the Courage Foundation. “Assange is being persecuted for exposing and embarrassing US government administrations, Republican and Democrat, not, as claimed, for revealing vital secrets necessary to national security.”

Beginning under President Obama and continuing under President Trump, whistleblowers are being arrested and charged with the Espionage Act at ominously increasing levels. From the time the Espionage Act was passed in 1917 until the Obama administration took office, it was used against one person. Eight people were prosecuted by the Obama Department of Justice. The number of investigations of leaked information has tripled under the Trump administration.

Publishing the truth is not a crime. The US and international courts should be prosecuting those who committed the crimes exposed in the documents published by Wikileaks, not the media outlet who exposed such crimes.

Wikileaks has democratized the media by enabling people to expose the crimes of governments and corporations, and by anonymously leaking documents that show their activities. This innovation gives power to the people to be the media. Such power is essential at this time of corporate concentration of media, where only six companies control 90 percent of the news.

 

 








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