Entries tagged with “Rants”.


I had hoped that one of my progressive causes (Y.I. campaign for Health Care reform, join the Facebook group.) would be concluded before we as a country got to the climate conference in Copenhagen.  Not the case, unfortunately.

I am feeling a little bit behind with the debate.  And I am feeling extremely frustrated that the segue into this entire thing is the “climate-gate” scandal of the leaked emails.  I’ve railed on this before, and will, I’m sure, rail again, but who is being served when the national media discussion on Copenhagen is about emails being leaked?  Will there be hundreds of stories written about the visible and track-able changes already happening on the coast of china, in the Texas sized trash heap in the pacific, or in the increasing size of the Sahara desert?  My guess is no.  As of right now, the Google count on “climate-gate” is growing exponentially.  It only takes one story like this to completely muddy the waters of American perception.  In that sense, then, the global warming skeptics are correct — this email story has already done more (because of the lack of information on the global scale) then anything else in the last ten years to set back the discussion of how to combat massive destruction of the environment.  Let me be the first to congratulate them on a job well done! (more…)

And so ends the very short chapter of Van Jones in the White House

(editors note: this was written very quickly, in the heat of the moment on hearing what I consider very very bad news.  Now, not so angry, I really only feel sad.  Still, read on!)

Van Jones resigned today from his position of Green Jobs Czar at the White House.  He had been there a little over six months before a mob of crazed republican attackers focused on him.  It only took folks calling him names: a communist that once called the Republicans a bad word, and poof: he gets run out of town on a rail.

“On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me,” Jones wrote. “They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.”

Jones said that he had ”been inundated with calls – from across the political spectrum – urging me to “stay and fight. But I came here to fight for others, not for myself.  I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past.  We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.”

This man has as much power as you give him

This man has as much power as you give him

I would love to say a few words here that would make me unfit to be a Czar, (for those of you who don’t know, one of the reasons Van is unfit to serve is because he called republicans assholes in a speech) but that seems like playing at their game.  Instead, I’d like to say a few other things.

Van Jones was, and still is, a hero of mine.  As many of you who read this space know, I think the world of his ideas.  I love his inclusive, hands on, leave-no-person-behind vision for the future of America.  His book spoke to me of economic justice without having anyone suffer, and of a freedom from the worry of Global Warming.  Having read his book, listened to his speeches, and received his emails for years, I can say he is in no way a communist, or a socialist.  At all.  In fact, I often felt he went too far toward the free market — perhaps to make his ideas palatable to an America that turns green in fear at either of those words being turned against them.  50 years later, this McCarthyism hackjobbary has got to end.

The Party that just crucified Van Jones for saying the word asshole and for associating with a know “Truther” in the 9/11 crazytimes movement is the same party that had the second most powerful member tell someone to “Go F*&% Yourself” on the floor of the Senate.  This is the same party where many MANY elected officials still to this day are considering lawsuits against Obama for not being born in this country.  Glenn Beck, who led the charge against Jones, alternates his time between grimly prognosticating about and encouraging armed rebellion, and calling Obama a racist.

Why was Jones, a generally well liked dude, even on Glenn Beck’s radar?  Because Jones was associated with a group called ColorofChange.  ColorofChange called Beck on calling the president a racist, and Beck — in full personal vendetta style — took Van Jones down and forced his resignation.  What alternative universe do we live in where he has so much power?

The hypocrisy runs so thick, and so complete, that I am forced to wonder at the delusion to make it through a day believing what Beck professes to believe.  The Green Collar Economy was condemned as a socialist plot before anyone even bothered to figure out what it was, and what it meant.  Instead of taking the time to figure out why it might be a win-win to go green, people would rather throw stones at every new idea then allow someone who is not their own to gain any semblance of power.

But the Obama White House sure stuck to their guns!  I’m so proud of the way they defended their man, of the way they went to bat for a supporter and loyal ideas man.  I love how they called out this rank hypocrisy for what it was, and at least fired a warning shot that the people in the White House can not be controlled by a hate spewing insano pundit.

Oh, wait.  They did none of those things.  They made a craven political calculus, and sold Jones out faster then you can say “Communist Sympathizer”.  We’ve seen the wackjobs on the right get more and more wack-jobby of late, calling Obama a brain washer for the age old  tradition of talking to kids on the first day of school, and painting every single human left of William F. Buckley as some sort of deranged socialist.  I just wonder: why does this stuff stick?  Why don’t people stand up against this sort of thing?  It’s completely absurd that Jones was forced to resign, but it’s even MORE absurd that anyone has the ability to “force” anything!

America seems to really like the idea of Death before Dishonor.  They love people who don’t change course, even when the course is fundamentally wrong.  I don’t need my leaders to be stupid and unable to compromise, but this makes them look like the spineless cowards that the Republicans have always said they were.

The most frustrating part of the process is that Van’s ideas are now being repudiated because he once knew a communist and once said a bad word.  All of his amazing thinking, all of his plans and his charisma and his strength are now worse then useless.  The entire (extremely capitalist) green collar movement has been tarred and feathered on the national stage.  It’s amazing that all my hope for real fundamental change in this country was crushed after six months, and its even MORE amazing that it was done by the party that was so completely repudiated at the polls.

The entire movement took a step back today, not because the things that Van suggested didn’t work, but because some holier then thou fucks decided to crush him and the rest of us let them.

The only reason that I can’t quit this whole process is that doing so would mean that these people were allowed to be right.  Well, it won’t happen.  I’m going to work longer, work harder, then ever before.  I am going to make sure that everyone – EVERYone – who called for Van’s head does not get any more chance to hold elected office.

My question is this: Does Glenn Beck speak for you?  If so, why?  What vision does he put forward that you find attractive?  What version of America does Beck and the folks that give him a platform to spew his nonsense actually espouse?

If not, why are you letting him change who the President of the United States chooses to advise him?

First of all, full disclaimer that “locowashing” is an awful portmanteau – almost (but not quite) as bad as “he-cession.”

This cracks me up though, it really does. Thanks to the apparent trendiness of bioregional eating, the ad wizards hailing from the four corners of corporate fantasyland have decided that it would be a tremendous idea to “go local” themselves. Unfortunately – there doesn’t appear to be a crystal-clear understanding of what exactly “local” entails…

A few examples, ranging from the mildly bile-inducing to the full-on, gut-bustingly, milk-snortingly hilarious:

The one that started the attention was most likely the Frito-Lay corporation, whose marketing campaign in early 2009 gently nudged attention from the quality of the product itself to the “local people and communities” who grow their potatoes. The logic is sound, I guess, in an infuriating know-it-all 6th-grader kind of way: “Potatoes have to be grown by somebody, don’t they? And those people are growing them somewhere, aren’t they? So the potatoes are local to the place where they’re grown. Right?” My favorite feature of this ad campaign? It would have to be the “Chip Tracker” gadget that let’s you pop in a zip code and learn exactly which ”local community” has painstakingly and lovingly grown your potato chips, hopefully taking long, picturesque siestas and relaxing with big pitchers of iced tea and 2.5 children per farmhouse.  (For the record: mass produced chips are not small-batch delicacies. It’s a neat gimmick to give you the location of where potatoes are sourced, but dollars to donuts the Chip Tracker kicks out the closest farm to your zip code without telling you anything about how millions of bags of chips are actually shipped and stored around the country.)

 

But it’s not just Frito-Lay. Far from it. 

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A few people I have spoken with recently are pretty staunchly against the new energy and climate change bill that squeaked by the house last night.  The bill is too weak, it has too many riders, and passing a bad bill is worse then passing no bill at all — these are the things that some on the environmental side of things are saying.  (I don’t get to talk to the “Global Warming is a myth and this is an excuse to tax the American worker into obsolescence because the Dem’s hate America people” all that much, so I don’t feel the need to argue with them.)  Another objection, expressed by CheriRobertson on my last not-very-well-thought-out post is that no one has read the damn thing and that its criminal to vote on legislation that you don’t understand.

Ok, lots of fair points here.  I still support the Waxman-Markey bill, and here is why:

It fundamentally changes the way the American Government deals with the problems of Climate Change and our effect on the planet.  My beef from the beginning has been that there is no system for me to be protected if someone wants to endanger me and mine by pumping bad things into the air.  A cap and trade system creates a method – however flawed – to allow the gummit to get insist that people don’t get to endanger me and make money off it free and clear.  They at least have to pay for screwing my world up.

From a fundamentally Libertarian perspective, I think that is the job of Government: to protect me from very real and very prominent threats that the Free Market brings to bear on my world.

Now, would I rather the original bill passed?  Sure.  I would much rather have the EPA be the body that regulates which gases are a danger to us.  I would much rather not have the hat tips that are plugged into the bill for the rust belt, for the oil producing companies, for “clean coal”.  But at the end of the day, this bill really IS a new legislative way of thinking about the environment, and for it to pass means that there are a lot of people on board who feel the necessity of action.

I think that it’s a republican talking point that “no one in either party has read the bill”.  That is simply not the case.  First of all, someone had to write the damn thing, so there are at least a few folks who know whats in there.  Secondly, though, and much more importantly, a vast vast majority of the changes are going to be softening and definitions and clarifications on what was left out of the original draft.  Was the thing perfect?  No.  But it’s also disingenuous to say that you need to read it all to understand it: the law makers had plenty of time to read the first 1200 pages, and not many of them did.  The 300 pages of provisions and changes will now be poured over by anyone who cares, and the Senate will draft a new bill that puts the pieces of the house bill that don’t make sense to the test.  The gist of the bill, that companies who pollute the earth will be held fundamentally accountable in the only way that matters to them (financially) remains strong — regardless of the number of pages, and the fact that John Bohner can take an hour to read rhetorical loops in the writing.   A defeat of this bill, even it’s watered down form, is a defeat for the concept, and that’s not something we can afford to allow to happen.

There was a lot of political wrangling to get this bill to pass to be a law. (and yes, I AM amused that Nanci Pelosi thought Dove Bars would help.  You don’t think that’s funny?  Come on… you don’t think it’s amusing to think that congresspeople vote with their tastebuds?  Oh… ok, yes it’s a little scary… but if we can’t laugh at it, then the world gets awful depressing.)   Lots of Dems voted against it because they were scared to tag their name to something and take the political risk, only to have it fail in the Senate.  And lots of people still view this thing as a big ball of taxes designed to hurt their way of life.  But I think that the political climate isn’t going to be this forgiving for many many years to come, and if we don’t do this now, we may miss our chance for this scale of change.  I feel the same way about health care: it’s now or not for a long time.

It may be that, 20 years from now, I will be cursing this thing for being too weak and watered down.  But there are some really amazing parts of this bill and I love it even despite it’s flaws.  Plus, there are, like, 800 Million dollars for green jobs training and stuff in there.  I’m working in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn these days: trust me when I say that there aren’t a lot more jobs places like that can loose, so it’s only going to help out.  I wish the Republicans had come up with a counter solution to get the job market back on line: their idea of more capitalism – providing a series of grants to people who come up with good ideas – is so small potatoes that it boggles the mind.  The Republican party’s stance of Nothing is Happening, lets all Stick Our Heads in the Sand and Invoke the American Worker isn’t valid anymore.  They have done nothing for the American Worker for enough years that suddenly raising the middle class and the small business owner as “at risk” rings hollow and even pathetic.

Under certain traffic conditions, it's not easy being green.

Under certain traffic conditions, it's not easy being green.

Yesterday morning, while biking to work, my life flashed before my eyes. Things were already a little hairy as I made my way off the Brooklyn Bridge towards Pearl Street, and a van was pulling, without really looking, straight up against the sidewalk. Okay, that was cool, there’s no bike lane there, and I just went around it…a little less cool when it happened again a minute later with a speedier car, heavy traffic on the left, and oblivious pedestrians walking off the curb for no apparent reason. I went around again, into a blind spot behind a truck – and almost directly into the hood of some freak trying to edge his car into the road without any possible indication that it would be a good idea to do so. 

My point is this. I love cycling, I really do. It feels great to get the exercise, I enjoy being able to move on my own around the city, and the eco-cred just can’t be beat. But – and I fully accept that I sound like Calvin’s dad here – there’s really no reason we should have to be second-class citizens on the road. Drivers don’t really respect you, pedestrians don’t really respect you…

Hang on. Maybe I’m not striking the right tone here – let me start again.

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I got to thinking the other day after Alan wound up with a vehement comment accusing him of armchair environmentalism because he isn’t out raging against the machine in the streets and because he tends to express reservations about  unaccommodating social tactics. Now, to be fair, he and I do spend much of our time in a shabbily awesome armchair (indeed: here I am right now), but there’s more to the story here.

The only way to be green?

The only way to be green?

The question of how to face up to the machine idols of our civilization has been asked for thousands of years, long before the Industrial Revolution made it concrete – asked by John of Patmos, by Marcus Aurelius, by Machiavelli, by Marx and Nietzsche, by Foucault and Borges, by Thoreau and Muir, and by Edward Abbey. And rage continues to be – as it has always been – only one of the options. Because the funny thing is, like I learned in aikido class, sometimes you have to gracefully use the momentum of your opponent to destabilize him and change his stance.

And I got to thinking: wait a second, I’ve heard this punchline before.

 

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Honestly, can anyone tell me why we would still listen to what Dick Cheney has to say?

His image is plastered on LtAG too

His image is plastered on LtAG too

His face is currently (10:31pm, Thursday Evening) plastered all over the news, generally making him into a rhetorical counter to Obama.  Here’s the problem: he makes things up.

Cheney, on the other hand, built a case on straw men, red herrings, and lies. In short, his speech was classic Dick Cheney, with all the familiar scowls and scorn intact. The Manichean worldview, which Cheney advanced and enforced while in office, was on full display.

Dear Dick: I’m sorry, but you failed.  All of your bluster and all of your prevaricating fail to make a convincing case as to why you needed to drag America through the muck.  You work in a democracy, and as such you need to realize that the people have voted against you.  You controlled everything in terms of message and media for most of your eight years, but eventually the stark reality, the facts of what you had wrought, knocked you off your perch.  You have no one to blame but yourself!

Ok, so why is this on LtAG?

Because I am interested as to why Cheney gets equal airtime to the President, and is viewed as speaking against him with an equal voice.  At what point does what has happened — I’m going to call this “reality” — start to make a difference?

Again, this all has to do with Global Warming.  It all has to do with the fact that everyone is used to having the GOP out there as “equal and opposite” to the Democratic party, so both view points are given equal time.   That’s because we work in an environment that says that journalism = opposition, expounded on.  It’s stupid and damaging, because there are times when that sort of equalization is a bald faced lie.

When the opposition is being responsible, that this sort of journalism makes sense.  Check this, from the New York Times:

The objections of the Republican opponents were summed up in the words of Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, who said the bill would mean sharp increases in energy costs and the loss of millions of jobs.

“This is the biggest energy tax in the history of the United States,” Mr. Rogers said.

That makes sense to me, because that seems like something I can believe in, and seems like opposition based on the principle that an argument is in good faith.   I don’t agree, but I see how the position can be tenable.  Dick Cheney? The dude doesn’t even believe that himself.  He’s pure spin, total political crap.  Even if he once belived what he was doing, his speech today is point for point designed to obfuscate and confuse.  Global Warming?  Same deal — you can’t really believe they have taken the time to read the science, because if they had… well, they could still disagree, but it wouldn’t be along the lines of HOW they disagree.  “Wind Farms are bad because they slow wind down, thus heating up the globe.”  Really?  That’s the sort of thing that is not good faith opposition.  But it’s covered as if it’s the same.

I need to stop writing this.  I’m getting all worked up, and this point is a broken record for me anyway.  Maybe I should go take a long hot bath to relax… or maybe I could go find a homeless person in the street to beat up.  You know, I’ve heard of people doing both things to relax.  They must be about the same — both are valid, it’s just a difference of opinion.

Absurdity — Thy name is Texas Rep. Joe Barton.  This dude is the RANKING Republican member on the  energy committee.  While he is the official point person on the Environment for the Republicans in the house, he calls the science of global climate change “pretty weak stuff”.   But here we are on the Waxman bill, and even the Republican Party top brass realizes this thing shouldn’t come down to a war on the Science of the thing.  They realize that they are loosing that fight, and think they have traction by painting the Carbon Cap and Trade as a huge tax on the… someone.  Probably the small business owners: they are usually trotted out when the specter of a tax is brought up.

Except, Joe Barton might not have gotten the memo.  Yep, his plan is to keep claiming that there isn’t any science behind global warming science, and play neato tricks like making Waxman read the entire bill.  Really?  You wonder why people think politics are boring: for some reason their is a rule that you can make people read the entire bill on the floor of the senate or congress while everyone waits around.  And then, Barton plans on crashing the party by adding 300+ ad ons to the bill.

I’m all for the rule that lets a minority party put up some sort of defense (and I wish the Dems had done some stuff like this when they were rocking through the Bush years), but there should be a rule that says that one individual can’t hijack the entire proceedings.  I know I might be over reading this thing, as Barton might be given more power in this article then he actually has.  But man, I’m frustrated that some goofball from Texas is holding up what should be the most important legislation of my lifetime.

*(Db = Douchebag)

Danger: Profanity laced rant coming below.

Bad Blue Dogs!  BAAAAD!!

Bad Blue Dogs! BAAAAD!!

DEAR DEMOCRATS:

Get your shit together.  You guys really think the best way to take advantage of a huge majority in two of the three branches of power is to stand up to Obama on the environmental issue?   Really?  You want to use your new-found political clout to protect the segments of our national economy that are putting out the most carbon?  If I see another headline like this one, I think I’m going to lose my mind.

On Friday, former Energy and Commerce Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) – the man Waxman dethroned to takeover the committee – referred to the cap-and-trade system as “a great big” tax.

“Nobody in this country realizes that cap-and-trade is a tax, and it’s a great big one,” Dingell said at a committee hearing last week. The former chairman backs some form of a direct carbon tax that other moderates prefer over the market-based system.

Yes, it is a tax, if you want to look at it like that.  Here is another way to think about it: Don’t pollute so goddamn much, and you won’t get taxed.  It’s not like you have seen this coming for a bunch of years, and have been studiously ignoring the issue so that, when a cap and trade program arrived, you could whine and complain about the unfair economic burden being put on you by the government, is it?   ‘Cause it sure feels like that from where I am sitting.  The theory of bottom line business was all well and good, and it made a lot of people very rich.  But, for whatever reason (greed), the invisible hand of the market has been giving the earth the finger for years and years.  The point here is not to TAX to raise income, but to incentivize people to care about something that they have ignored — to the detriment of the rest of us.

I can’t get the GM’s of the world to stop putting out SUV’s, and I can’t avoid my tax dollars going to bail out the motherfuckers who ran a bad business.  But can I at least get a representative government that protects me from the people who I, apparently, don’t rank high enough to be able to protect myself from?

And, why is it ok to directly tax carbon producing things like Coal, but not ok to set up an offset program?  That doesn’t even make sense!  That just cuts off a few of the big pollution problem areas, and does nothing to collectivize reduction, so that the same set of issues comes down the pike again later when people figure out something else to burn.  What possible reason is there to piecemeal tax things you don’t like?  Make everyone play by the same set of rules!

It’s absurd and disingenuous to imagine that “the market” could continue to exist in a vacuum that ignored the earth.  It’s impossible.  It can’t happen.  The business minds that realized that something was going to have to be done and started building in some semblance of a triple bottom line — these companies are going to be ok.  The rest of you guys: you reap what you sow.  I hope all the cash that you made in the 90’s was invested with for-sight and… wait, what?  It’s all gone?  Oh man!   Then what DID you get out of all that shit?

Why shouldn’t business models that create huge amounts of pollution and damaging amounts of C02 output be regulated to the trash heap of progressive business?   It’s not even like the cap and trade program is unreasonable.  It is certainly more lax then the one I would like, and it gives businesses every opportunity to scale down their pollution going forward as the cap comes lower.   None if it even comes into effect for years, meaning anyone with a head on their shoulders can avoid the brunt of the tax with a modicum of intelligent investment in their business structure.  The only people who are really worried about this are the folks that are running a business model that studiously ignores reality.  To you, I say: welcome to the brave new world where your customer realizes the real costs of what you are selling.  If you have to charge more for your products because you have been producing too much carbon, maybe that means that you were under-charging before!  Or maybe it means that people will decide they no longer really need what you are pushing.

So why in gods name, centrist democrats, are you carrying the water for people who would rather get theirs then build something intelligent and sustainable?  I expect this from the defunct republican party, that crew who continue to belabor the “tax” point as they grow ever shriller and our country grows ever shittier around them.  But you!  I had thought better of you!  Is the 6 month plan really that important to you?  Can’t you see beyond the end of your next (hopefully last) term?  Is it too much to ask for you to think about the ramifications of NOT putting a carbon cap and trade program into place?

At what point does a complete economic collapse become and indictment of the previous way of doing business?  Is it a good plan to rebuild using the same rules that we were playing by before?  If we are already re-building, shouldn’t we rebuild in a way that makes sense for more then the next year?

You’ve had 8 years of being out of power to think about these issues and these problems.  You are also proposing a tax, but somehow you are managing to rail against the cap and trade program as a hidden tax.  You do not make sense.  You are like Chewbacca.

Love

LtAG

Thomas Friedman and I have a love hate relationship.

Well, that’s a lie: Thomas Friedman has no idea I exist, yet I am still convinced that he ripped off my ideas in his climb to centrist-environmental fame, as he published one article back in the day that was pretty much the same words as mine, slightly re-ordered.  All I’m sayin’ is, that had we turned the two articles in to the same teacher, eyebrows would have been raised.

I have been trying to find a logical way to work this picture of Dr. Tobias Manhatten into a post for a week now.  Ive failed to come up with a logical reason, so here it is with no connection to the post what-so-ever.  Enjoy!

I have been trying to find a logical way to work this picture of Dr. Tobias Manhatten into a post for a week now. I've failed to come up with a logical reason, so here it is with no connection to the post what-so-ever. Enjoy!

Regardless, I have mixed feelings about the man, which extend to his most recent op-ed in the Times.

I often find that Friedman is guilty of some lazy eco-writing, and I don’t think this is an exception.  Maybe it’s simple jealousy that I am not on eco-tour with him, but the entire intro about bio-diversity and crocodiles eating fishes isn’t really the point that he goes on to make.  Rather, it reads to me like a generic eco-intro.  Just add animal name type.  Marvel at nature for 3 minutes, allow to simmer until point coalesces.  Salt to taste.

Makes me think of G’s idea for demoting Times columnists.  What we need is, a minor league of folks ready to go, prepared to step in if too many columns get mailed in.  The Times Op-Ed page has got to be one of the most read and most talked about opinion platforms in the country, and you are telling me you are wasting words and time like this?  Frankly, I don’t even think that Friedman is the worst when it comes to half-ass-ing these things (David Brooks is number one for demotion in my mind), but who would object to a little competitive fire being lit under their butts?  Maybe we can handle it like they do with English Soccer teams – a points system!

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