No more band-aids

Out for a morning walk, I saw a flyer stapled to a utility pole, offering opportunities of work to provide “Health Care for Children.” As someone who has flirted with reformist politics in the past, I was surprise at the strength of my antipathy toward that poster.

Now, I believe children should have health care. But I also believe that the elderly should have health care, and those of us inbetween. As a man in my fifties without insurance, I have empathy with anyone who is doing without. It’s a crime. Literally!

But I have come to believe that these kinds of incremental reforms are effectively scams. Oh, sure, the people who organize them are often sincere and hard-working –and clueless. They pit the old against the young, and, in the end, none of us get what we need.

For several years now I have had a similar resentment against the perennial beggars of taxes for the schools (or social services or jails or whatever.) As the rich get bigger and bigger tax breaks, the reformers demand that we continue to be enablers for this gigantic rip-off.

I say it’s time to stop this approach. The system is broke folks. Big time. It’s time to say no to anything short of fundamental and revolutionary reform.

Yes, support education and health care, but not through a system that funnels our money to criminals. In the meantime, how about free schools and free clinics? Where are all of the idealistic doctors and teachers? The system as it is does not deserve our support any longer.

Critique of Scott Ritter article on Alternet

I just read an interesting analysis of the “anti-war movement” by Scott Ritter, AlterNet: Blogs: The Mix: The Art of War for the anti-war movement.

I admire the personal growth of Mr. Ritter from a militarily-trained weapons inspector to anti-war advocate, and I mostly agree with his analysis of the current state of the “movement.”

But from this point on, I’m afraid his analysis has some serious flaws. First there is the question of ideology. Mr. Ritter says in the cutline, “It’s high time to recognize that we as a nation are engaged in a life-or-death struggle of competing ideologies with those who promote war as an American value and virtue.” But what are these ideologies he’s talking about? His failure to answer this is his biggest mistake.

Next, he takes us to his solution, which is that “The anti-war movement, first and foremost, needs to develop a laser-like focus on being nothing more or less than anti-war.” He goes on to vilify the movement for allowing all sorts of side-messages to dilute its main focus. And he claims, perhaps correctly, that these “off-point” messages prevent conservatives and moderates from joining the “movement”. But is this the movement we should be trying to build, in order to stop war -not just this war, but future wars?

Most progressives, I hope, do not see the “ideology of war” as the cause of war. The root causes of war are exploitation and unequal distribution of resources, and the systems, such as capitalism, which are used to maintain this corrupt status quo.

I agree that the “the anti-war movement lacks any notion of strategic thinking, operational planning, or sense of sound tactics.” That’s more than obvious. But centralized militarist strategies are not the answer. This is the twenty-first century. Many lasers need to be focussed at the roots, not just one aimed at the bush. (pun intended)

My Personal Pledge to Resist

I pledge that I will not support any candidate for federal office who does not do the following, which I believe are the minimal actions needed to save this country from corporate dictatorship and to save the planet from economic and ecological collapse:

Foreign Policy:

1. Put forth a clear and specific plan for rapid U.S. departure from Iraq and the Middle East,
2. Repudiate the Bush doctrine of Preemptive War,
3. Pledge to obey international law and all treaties entered into by the United States, including treaties with the indigenous nations, and
4. to work constructively with the rest of the world to solve the grave problems which face us,

Democracy and Civil Liberties:

1. Pledge to obey and aggressively enforce all laws restricting spying on U.S. citizens by government agencies,
2. Promise to work toward repeal of the most egregious aspects of the Patriot Act,
3. Promise to respect the established rights of immigrants, gays, indigenous populations, women and people of color, and to expand democracy and self-determination for all people.
4. Pledge to move assertively to reverse the role of corporate money and corruption in the political system,
5. Promise to move assertively to break up big media monopolies, and force those who use the public airwaves to do so in a manner consistent with the public good,

The Economy:

1. Promise to repeal tax cuts for the rich, and work toward an economy more fair for poor and working class people, including universal health care, and control over the outrageous theft by the pharmaceutical, chemical, energy, and insurance industries,
2. Promise to invest massively in alternatives to the carbon economy, and to assertively use the power of government to protect our environment against polluters and other exploiters,
3. Promise to support the efforts of workers and small farmers to organize for self-improvement through unions, workers’ cooperatives, and other appropriate means.

Furthermore, I will not support a candidate for governor who will not at least consider withdrawing state National Guard troops from service in illegal and imperialist wars.

While I do not believe there is a purely electoral solution to our crisis, I do believe that we have to go forward on all fronts available to us. We need to stop bickering about this or that tactic or strategy, and allow each other a diversity of approaches.

This is purposely vague, and not meant to be a comprehensive laundry list of all the things we need to have happen in this country, and I have no illusions that we are likely to get action on all (or even most) of these by the government. But, in my mind, these are the minimal things a candidate will have to stand for to get my support. These ideas are not so radical that a candidate could not make these commitments, and still win a race. Anything less is supporting the status quo. If enough people were to take a pledge like this, then it might send a message to prospective candidates everywhere.

I have played with the idea of starting a website to promote this idea. I would like feedback, both on the content and how to go forward with it.

Language and the Looming Disaster

by Duane Poncy

Why, in the face of looming disaster, do scientists equivocate their language to the point that it becomes a falsehood by omission? Case in point: in an otherwise very informative article on Common Dreams, Brenda Ekwurzel, PhD., a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists concludes as follows:

A warmer planet means more droughts and extreme heat events, which threaten air quality and human health. Rising sea levels are already affecting citizens living on the coasts.

If the federal government continues to ignore global warming, hurricane damage likely will escalate. (italics are mine)

The truth, which Dr. Ekwurzel, and other scientists know full well, is that their is absolutely nothing that we, or our governments can do to ease the growing intensity of the weather in the short term. It is going to get worse. In the best case scenario, it will take decades to turn this monster around. In the worst case, we will simply have to let self-feeding cycles run their course.

In any case, we should be thinking about survival, and how to minimize the damage which is going to continue to escalate from altered ecosystems, drought, flooding, and extreme weather events, in addition to reducing greenhouse gases.

Pretending that this is something that can just be taken care of by the government, through, say, adhering to the Kyoto protocols, is to send a false message. Wake up climate scientists, you can be more honest than this. Start ringing the alarm bells. It’s the right thing to do!

Source: Global Warming Strengthens Hurricanes


Whether of the left, right or center, ideological absolutists (purists, fundamentalists, whatever you want to call them), have a few things in common. Among these is an intolerance which is inconsistant with democracy. There is One Truth, and whoever deviates is either the devil, or on the road to hell. You’re either with us or against us, love it or leave. Fundis of the left are no different in this respect, than fundis of the right.

My favorite site to explore the fundis is Portland Indymedia. While Indymedia is a great site to find out what about left happenings in the community, and occasionally even breaks an important story, its open publishing forum is a magnet for fundis of all stripes.

Here are some of the fundamentalist threads you can find there:

Anti-Nader Democrats: these folks are narrow-minded anti-democrats who believe that the DP owns the vote of anyone who calls themselves Progressive. These bigots now control the Multnomah County Democratic Party.

Liberal Haters: These folks are Radicals. There One Truth is that nothing but Revolution will save America. Anyone who proposes anything short of Armed Resistance or Direct Action (whatever that is, I don’t think they know) is an Appeaser of the [Capitalism, The State, Fill in the Blank].

Electoral Politics is a Waste Of Time: Some of these folks belong to the above. The Democraps and the Repuglicans are two wings of the same party, big money and big government have made your vote useless. They have no solution to this, so they like to spend a lot of time online, beating up on people who might want to exercise their vote.

Cop-Haters: Cops are Bad. Cops are Pigs. Anybody who says anything good about a cop is…well…probably a cop.

Conspiracy Theorists: Well you know that Al-CIAda is responsible for 9-11. They did to put the fascists in power. They got help from the Israelis, who planted explosives in Twin Towers (oh, and you thought is was airliners who brought them down, you foolish person). They may have also been responsible for Oklahoma City. Of course the Bushes and the Bin Laden’s have been pals for years, funding Nazis and such. The communist-zionist conspiracy, some believe they are The Illuminati, descendants of a race of beings from outer space who have been controlling the human race since the beginning of time. These right wing theories have been around forever, but now they have new adherents among the anarcho-lefties. Dare to suggest that any piece of their theory is wrong and…well…you are part of the conspiracy.

Anyway, thats my peeve for the day