Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Happy New Year (a bit late)

  So my 2015 New Year’s resolution was not successfully met.   How’s that for blurring the truth that I blew it.   Barely one post per month never mind one a week or one a day.   Ahhh!  Such ambition.   But I have been writing and politicking so here are the remarks I wrote and presented at the Rally for Unity this month at the statehouse in Augusta:

We are at the dawning of a new populist age. Just as the gilded age robber baron railroad tycoon’s misdeeds lead to the first populist movement in the United States. A movement lead largely by farmers and spawning such great egalitarian institutions as The Grange. So we stand now at the end of the Reagan/Clinton, Citizen’s United era of the oligarch about to take back our country from the plutocrats.  

What is my proof you ask? It is in the rising of groups like Occupy and Black Lives Matter. Family Farm Defenders and The New Economy Coalition. The expansion of cooperative business enterprises across this state and the nation. It is in the popularity of presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and, yes even, Donald Trump. People are pissed off, they are saying “Enough is enough.” They are standing together to take back their lives and their livelihoods from excessive government oversight.    

One of my favorite things about the local food movement is exactly that. People sitting around a table having a meaningful discussion about rebuilding the local food infrastructure. People who might not have ever dreamed they had anything in common with one another. But the thing is everyone eats. The lucky ones eat three times a day. What we put in our bodies matters and people from across the political spectrum get that. Food is a great uniter. When you can have a far left aging hippie liberal finding common ground with a far right tea bag libertarian on an issue then you know you have a good one. And the relationships built over those meals and conversations can translate to other less obvious issues.

  We must seek out these issues that unite us rather than divide us. It is in our best interest, and believe me it will piss off the plutocrats, if we can look beyond our skin color, social standing, economic bracket and find things we hold in common. If we listen to the concerns of people with whom we disagree and seek that space in which we can all agree we are getting equally abused then we can move forward together to fight the monopolies and the greedy rich.

One of those issues is that of local sovereignty over food and water. We are fortunate to live in a state that enshrined home rule in its very constitution. The governance of the people devolves to the lowest governmental body, the municipality. Local people taking back local control like they have in 16 towns across this state so far. Join us at Local Food RULES and Food for Maine’s Future to make it 50 towns by the end of 2017.
I’d like to quote one of my favorite people, Ben Pratt, former legislator and all around good guy. “When the rednecks and the hippies realize that they are both being screwed by the same people, then we’ll have a revolution.”

We are those people. We are that movement, standing on the cusp of history. Ready to take back our basic human rights. To eat what we want to eat sourced from where we wish to source it. To breath clean air and drink clean water. Let’s make it happen!

Greece Frightenin’ from the Free Press

I have been expressing these same sentiments about the whole Greek Crisis since I sat watching it on my friends Muffy and Bob’s couch in the UK.   Grayson Lookner says it so well in this column and throws in a nice history lesson to boot.   Enjoy.

7/30/2015 11:18:00 AM

Grayson Lookner: Greece Frightenin

  by Grayson Lookner

As I’ve watched events unfold in Greece, I can’t help but ask myself one question: “Who won the Second World War?”
Ancient Greece was where the seeds of modern democracy were planted. A system of democracy and free markets supposedly prevailed in the West following WWII. Following the collapse of the USSR, it seems as if the last 25 years have pitted the free market and democracy against each other instead of their being the two “hand maidens of liberty” as one person claimed in a response to my last column. 
By the time WWII came around, Greece was actually a monarchy. When the Axis forces occupied Greece in 1941, the king fled and proclaimed a government in exile. This vacuum of power set the stage for the Greek civil war that would erupt in the months directly following the war. 
During the war, and this was the case in much of the rest of Europe, including Spain, the left unified in Greece as an anti-fascist force. When Nazi Germany finally surrendered and the Allies occupied Greece, the leftist parties attempted to rise to power with the backing of Stalin and the USSR.
During the war, the USSR was our best friend by virtue of being the enemy of our mutual enemy. With the death of Hitler and the mad rush of the victors to claim the spoils of war for themselves in the forms of Nazi territory and scientific knowledge (and Nazi scientists themselves), the USSR immediately became the West’s primary existential threat and driving force of the cold war right up until 1989. Although, judging from his recent actions, it seems Putin may not accept this telling of history. 
Greece was the first theater of the cold war fought via proxy by the two world superpowers. Ultimately the Greek left – which had so valiantly fought against Hitler just a few years before -was defeated by the ally-backed centrist government. It seems that cooler heads prevailed, and Greece benefited greatly from the $13 billion of US aid that was allocated by the Marshall plan to rebuild Europe. Modern Germany and the entire Eurozone project would not have been possible were it not for this aid that was given by America, which in today’s dollars would amount to somewhere in the vicinity of $169 billion, indexed to inflation, by my sloppy calculations. (Incidentally, this amount is similar to the amount spent by the Federal Reserve in its own bailout to prop up global capitalism after the meltdown of 2008, according to a September 2011 Forbes article. That’s approximately $2,000 for every man, woman, and child on the planet to be spent on supporting banks across the world and hedging shady derivatives deals, etc.)
The societies of Western Europe that emerged post-war that were enabled by US assistance were remarkably civil, stable, and democratic. They all had a vital public sector characterized by socialized medicine, free or cheap education, public ownership of utilities, adequate pensions, extensive public transportation systems, etc. These public services were not viewed as privileges to be made available to a lazy and unmotivated population that didn’t want to nor was expected to work; but as the bedrock foundations of modern, civilized democracies that enabled a free market to exist.

In countries where these social services still exist, such as in France, the UK, the “social democracies” of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden – and ironically in Germany itself – the quality of life is high and civil unrest is low. In countries where these guarantees don’t exist, such as in much of the third world and increasingly in America itself, quality of life for most people is low and there is increasing social strife.
Why would anyone want anything other than to live in a stable, civil country with a high quality of life? What happened? What changed?
Naomi Klein, a Canadian author, brilliantly outlines the march of neoliberalism (i.e. “globalization”) from the 1960s onward in her 2007 book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” In the book she demonstrates how the explicit aim of globalization is to turn over infrastructure and social capital that was built by the public to private hands by creating and profiting from a series of mostly manufactured crises. 
Throughout the world, countries have been systematically forced to auction off their once publicly owned utility companies, hospitals, shipping ports, and other public resources for pennies on the dollar to wealthy foreign investors the likes of Goldman Sachs. These investors in turn use what were previously considered the bedrock foundations of a civilized state to extract more wealth from the general population without investing any of it back into the public. The rich get richer, and the poor get used up until they have nothing left to give. The globalists then move on to the next national project to exploit, and they inch closer and closer to home with each passing year. 
Greece will essentially become a third-world country because of the measures being imposed by the EU and the IMF. The British newspaper “The Guardian” said that with the austerity demands of its creditors Greece is essentially being forced to choose between being executed and committing suicide. In their recent emergency referendum, the people of Greece, in an uproar of democratic fervor, cried “No!” to the EU deal. Unfortunately, it was more of a symbolic vote than anything. Tsipras, the charismatic leader of Greece’s leftist Syriza party, has accepted another deal that requires draconian cuts and will reshape Greece for decades to come. He has said that he has no choice. He has a choice; Greece could leave the Eurozone. That is a frightening prospect for many as it harkens the impending demise of neoliberalism across the globe. 
Is there anything that can be done to stem the juggernaut of privatization? According to my respondent from last week’s column, a responsible critic is supposed to propose solutions and not just identify problems. Yes, fortunately, there is. The best thing we can do is to not fall for and be manipulated by the manufactured crises of the world’s disaster capitalists. The boy has cried wolf for too long now. Next time they sound the alarm, don’t listen, don’t react, don’t stoke the flames. It is easy to tell the difference between a real disaster and a media-manufactured one. 
Grayson Lookner grew up in Camden and now lives in Portland.

The Anarchist Soccer Mom Speaks

 

To all of you whom I pissed off with my last post, go to this site and read this woman’s story.  She talks about the other half of the solution:  improved mental  health care.

http://anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.com/2012/12/thinking-unthinkable.html

 

I haven’t time to write just now but here is a very disturbing post from a blog that I follow:

Live from Baltimore #2

Well, SURPRISE!  The Green Party nominated Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala for our Presidential ticket 2012.   This, like all Green Conventions, was not without controversy.  At one point I found myself “staff/body guard” for a young Islamic woman who dared to speak out for Roseanne Barr (much, much more on that story later.)  I stepped away when her two anarchist female body guards stepped back in.  Boy, oh, boy am I  having fun!!!

Anyhow  here are some great quotes from today, then off to the evening fundraiser.

“We are now the electoral arm for a movement.  The Occupy Movement!”

“Unrestricted growth is the ideology of a cancer cell.”

“It’s  not the Ruling Class, it’s the Looting Class.”

“The abolitionists were called spoilers.  It is a great thing to spoil a corporate duopoly.  And remember you can’t spoil something that’s already rotten.”

“Forward through the decay.”

“We are laying the foundation for the next great transformation.”

Live Blogging the Green Convention

Well, we’re here! Started the morning with a couple of keynote speakers. The first was an author Colin Beaven. But the next was my friend, George Martin, who began his speech by leading us in a call and response of “No More War!” He actually said “Free Palestine” during the course of his speech. Something you won’t hear at any other national convention ever!

Next we passed the platform. That provided the one and only chance to really work the room in the whole day. There was a major disagreement about a plank dealing with the Electoral College. My friend Asa Gordon has a suit in the federal court system that this plank impacts. I won’t get into the minutiae of this issue but Asa has been working on it for a long time, a long time! And we defeated his request. It makes me sad.

Now David Cobb is talking about the Move to Amend movement. The anti-corporate personhood group. They are working to overturn Citizen’s United. And he just ceded his last 5 minutes so that a statement from Roseanne can be read. I will try to get the text.

More when I can borrow another computer!

I (heart) Amtrak

On the Platform.

I love trains.   Not in a fanatical kind of way, but in a warm and fuzzy, aren’t I glad they exist and I get to ride on them way.  This fondness dates back to my childhood summers in Buffalo, NY.   Yes, I know, you’re thinking to yourself “Well that explains a lot.”  I’m sure you’re right, a lot of my contrarian nature may come from the fact that I was a country kid who spent summer vacations in the city and not vice versa.   But they were great trips, for the most part.   I would lie awake at night in the sweltering attic of my Grandfather’s Medford Place house and listen to the distant (and not so distant) train whistles.   They are an important part of my childhood soundtrack.  In college when I was over-stressed and under-loved I would threaten to hop a freight and get the heck out-of-town, out-of-state, out of the country.   It seemed like the perfect escape plan.   When I bought my first house it was right next to the RR tracks.  Everyone said I’d live to regret it,  I never did.

For,all of those reasons I was happy, a few years ago, to discover the joys of riding Amtrak to DC.  As I entered “the train bubble” today, I began enumerating a few of those joys, as follows:

*Somewhere in my really-not-that-radical-political career I got my name on a watch list.  This means that every time I fly I get the full business.   Sometimes a strip-search sometimes just a pat down to check for explosive residue.  Yes, I am that harmless little old gray-haired woman you see pulled out of line at the TSA checkpoint.  Every wondered why?   Now you know.   I take it all good-naturedly and then just get on with my trip.  On trains and buses it’s different.  Sure they sometimes want to see your ID (especially if you look vaguely ethnic like the poor guy in seat across the aisle from me today) but basically they are much more likely to just leave you alone……and let you get on with your trip.

*When you ride the rails you have access to the outdoors.  You can stand out on the platform.   The stations are roomy, clean and bright.  The air doesn’t feel recirculated.

In the Station.

*People are more friendly and less in a hurry.  Even the ticket agents are nicer.  And I think conductor hats are sexy.

*But if you do happen to have an annoying fellow passenger; one who is kicking your seat, talking too loudly on their cell phone or hogging the armrest;  you can move.  There are plenty of seats.  The air-conditioning feels great in the summer and in the winter the train is even less crowded.

*When you fly you do get the great aerial view of the country.  Large farm fields.  Vast areas of darkness with only the rare light to be seen.  But on the train you get to see the farms and the farmers.   They may fly by awful fast but you do get to see them.  And the NYC skyline.  And all the great under bridge graffiti.

You’ll never see a live plant in the overhead compartment of an airplane!

*And, of course, most importantly, it is eco-friendly.  The Amtrak website even tells you all about “Traveling Green” on Amtrak.  It’s clean, efficient and they even recycle.   Definitely the way to travel to the Green Party Convention.

I do wish I could have afforded the Acela.  My son(whose lullaby as a tiny child was “City of New Orleans“) suggested it and reminded me that this train stops at a lot of podunk, boondock stations on its way down the east coast.   The leisureliness of the journey is part of its charm, however, time to write long blog posts like this and take lots of pictures.  The rest of the week is going to be crazy-busy so this is a nice respite before the whirlwind.

Night-time on the Northeast Regional.