Our Big Mistake 4

“Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.”

~Earl Warren

That sounds like a Lyle Lovett song, Our Big Mistake; we are repeating it over and over and over again, from the 1968 election to the present. Isn’t it sort of sad, we gave up working from the inside to continue to move government in a more progressive way?

  1. We turn on each other at the drop of a hat
  2. We keep our eye off the prize, remember this is ultimately about so much  more than one guy

Republicans currently seem to have a real death wish for the country! They will basically do anything to make sure this President is unable to function properly as the Chief Executive.  Certainly this demonstrates the power Grover Norquist has over Republican politicians. What is up with that? How is it these guys get away with this behavior. The whole debt ceiling debacle, can you imagine the outrage of the press and others if Democrats had held the entire country hostage like that? No, I don’t think so.  On the other hand the Hamsher, L. Ron Greenwald faux  progressives fight over who could be the leader of Shangri La., a leader for all, the liberal John Galt, the one who always makes good decisions, the man who never fails, the genius who saves us from ourselves. But he never requires we participate in saving ourselves, he does that on his own. So while the Hamsherwalds wait for their more perfect leader and the Republicans follow the Norquist lead, the country trudges on, but we struggle to maintain our optimism. But I am going to put this out there, why aren’t liberals/progressives working together to gain a foothold in government so more progressive legislation can be enacted at the federal level.

The extreme left is making a big mistake constantly making Barack Obama the issue and not Republican policies which are literally ruining the country.  How do we change the balance of power in the government?

There are few people more colorful in modern American history as Harold LeClair Ickes.  A man of America, he loved politics, and in his time he was a member of the Republican Party, the Progressive Party and ultimately became not just a member of the Democratic Party but was the longest serving Secretary of the Interior under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. From his perch he saw the rise and fall of the Progressive Party. His experience should give current progressives pause, because he offers clues to how to be an effective party in his critique of the Progressive Party of 1912.

Ickes was a young man in 1912, born in 1874; he’d begun his political life as a Republican. However, when Teddy Roosevelt changed parties, Harold Ickes changed parties. He was a Roosevelt republican, he believed in reform and he didn’t see W. H. Taft as a reformer. So Ickes promptly moved from the Republican Party to the newly formed Bull Moose Party, also known as the Progressive Party.

And so began a tumultuous time in the history of American politics By framing our ideas correctly we can wrest control of government from conservatives who flood the ranks of federal government.

By 1912, the progressive wing of the Republican Party had completely peeled off and begun their own party. It was ironically called, “A Contract with the People”. Wow who knew Newt Gingrich stole his Contract with/on America from some former disgruntled Republicans! I certainly did not know this.

The Platform:

The social platform is more than interesting, so here is a small excerpt of their platform:

  • A National Health Service to include all existing government medical agencies.
  • Social Insurance: which would provide for the elderly, the unemployed and the disabled.
  • Limited injunctions in strikes.
  • A minimum wage law for women
  • An eight hour workday
  • A federal securities commission
  • Farm relief.
  •  Workers’ Compensation for work-related injuries.
  • An inheritance tax.
  • A Constitutional Amendment to allow a Federal income tax.

The political reforms proposed included

  • Women’s suffrage.
  • Direct election of Senators.
  •  Primary elections for state and federal nominations.

Sound familiar? Yes it sounds like the New Deal!  Let’s just say the Gilded Aged suffered from many of the same issues America suffers from today, income inequality being a prime source of discontent, and as social nets are whittled down, there will be more discontent in the future. This was a time when Progressive could have had much impact on society and they could today too, but it takes organization and work, not just blogs bitching and moaning about the awfulness of everything.

Progressives didn’t have a big impact until Franklin Delano Roosevelt came into power. The Gilded Age, yes, there are many good comparisons to today. The Gilded Age in the US is marked by having the wealthiest congressional members, just like today.

Progressives today are failing in the same way independent progressive movements failed in the past, Ickes work “Who Killed the Progressive Party” gives us insight into those failures. Ickes point was the failure of the Progressive Party came down to one man, but it was so much more than that, through Ickes work we can see the ultimate failure in these words:

“The Progressive party contained few practical politicians in its ranks. The rank and file did not know how parties were run. They were blindly following Theodore Roosevelt, and they were not concerned about what machinery was necessary or how it was to be used. ” (Ickes, Who Killed the Progressive Party 309) Well our failure as Democrats and people who call themselves Progressives has been the failure to understand how parties and governments are run. It is within our best interest to understand how policies are made and implemented and to participate in order to be heard. Yes people are heard with their votes, but the failure to participate deeply by getting people elected and representing all levels of government is the only way to significantly change government policies.

By 1916, the Progressive Party was essentially dead.  It did not have any initial impact other than to break apart the Republican Party. I would hate to see Democrats, liberals, progressives, go this route.  Some progressive ideals did manifest in the next Roosevelt Administration, because it is here where people like Harold Ickes came to change America, and they did it by working from within the government. These participants were able to change the trajectory of laissez faire policies and help institute policies that benefited the working class of America.  Ickes himself was most successful in advancing progressivism when he was participating in the government as a man off all things to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Ickes held several posts simultaneously in the Roosevelt Administration, most famously of course, as the Secretary of the Interior a position he held from 1933 – 1946.  No doubt nothing like this can ever happen again, but it is an example of how to help craft big policies, and that is to get more progressives into government. My contention is, it should be done on a micro level as well as a macro level, i.e. the PTA and school boards are just as important as county, city, and state government. But I digress, Ickes was not just the Secretary of the Interior, in 1941 President Roosevelt appointed him the Petroleum Coordinator for National Defense (Ickes, Fightin’ Oil vii).  In fact he wrote a book called Fightin’ Oil based on his experience regulating oil companies. According to Ickes the Presidents objectives were stated clearly that his office was to; “make petroleum and petroleum products available, adequately and continuously, in the proper forms at the proper places …. to satisfy military and civilian needs (Ickes, Fightin’ Oil viii). ”

Here is the interesting passage from Ickes introduction:

There were two ways in which I might have approached the job. I could have said to the President: “Mr. President, you have given me a bunch of tough hombres to deal with, and the only way that I can get along with them is for you to give me dictatorial power so that I can tell them what to do, and see that they do it. That would have been Hitler’s way. In fact some people, including, I suspect, a good many oil men themselves, thought that it would be my way, too. But I fooled them. It just so happens, that in spite of contrary opinions here and there, I believe in the American system of free enterprise. It is also the fact that I believe that business can best do its part – in peace as in war – with the least possible direction, and with the least interference, by the Government.” (Ickes, Fightin’ Oil)

The point is, Ickes and progressivism had great impact because he and others like him worked from within the system to implement progressive policies and to defend those policies to the public. Ickes was an equally controversial Secretary of the Interior.

Right now, we, progressive and democrats, are fighting each other, and when we do that, like the former progressives did, we lose. We’ve lost ground for more than 30 years by giving up control of our power within the government, have you spoken to a federal employee lately? Have you heard the things they say  about the federal government…. But they work for the federal government!!!!! Oh man, I do plenty, so don’t we need to be applying for those positions, if you want people to think the government can do great things don’t the people who are employed their need to believe in the system too? Republicans have done a fantastic job of appointing their friends to positions of power in the federal government, in turn they hire more conservative employees, how else could someone like Michelle Bachmann work for the IRS? If we aren’t pro-active an attempt to infiltrate the government, our policies will never be implemented on a large scale.  Changing the system means participating in the system, and every single time we fail to do that, we lose ground to the Norquist crowd and we allow their message to become more powerful.

In short, we have to quit fighting with each other and we need to put our head down and work together. The President is just one guy, and he only serves for a short time, changes come from long term concerted efforts. If people want to see progressive change they must, must participate in the system.

Bibliography

Ickes, Harold L. Fightin’ Oil. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943.

—. The Autobiography of a Curmudgeon. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1943.

—. “Who Killed the Progressive Party.” The American Historical Review 46.2 (1941): 306-337.

Watkins, T. H. Righteous Pilgrim: The Life and Times of Harold L. Ickes 1874 – 1952. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1990.

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Travels with the I-Pad — Port Gamble Trails 1

I like to take the IPad preloaded with trail maps to go hiking, that way, you probably can’t get lost. Well I probably could get lost, but the I-Pad is truly and awesome thing, So I had this map loaded onto my IPad before I left home. Port Gamble Trail Map.

It was so incredible today. It was windy and not too warm 63 degrees, and cloudy of course. It’s been this way all year-long so far, cloudy and cool. I understand we have not warmed to even to 80 degrees! I don’t have much to complain about, it never gets to hot to ride or to hike or to be outside.

The walk to the trail head. Port Gamble is quite a little town of historic buildings. We do the Tour d’ Kitsap almost every year and we do ride through Port Gamble every year. This was the first time going to Port Gamble to hike.

This is a church right in the town and the entire town is made of historic buildings.  The town was originally constructed in 1853. The entire town is a national historic site. Port Gamble was the longest continuously operating mill town in North America.  Pope Resources restored and operated the town until 1995 when as the only remaining company owned mill town in Puget Sound, it was closed down.  Port Gamble is now a tourist attraction drawing people from all over. There are unique shops and markets and hiking trails. The turn of the century buildings are pretty cool, they even bookstore than rents out bicycles to explore the many trails around Port Gamble. It’s pretty cool it’s called The Dauntless Bookstore.

We covered 11 miles in the park, there are lots of trails and ground to cover, we didn’t do all of it that is for sure and we did it all on foot, not on bicycles or horseback.

Salmonberries.. yummy. Their space is often overtaken by blackberries. Salmonberries are obviously lighter in color and very sweet, it is a native plant of the Pacific Northwest.

They can be as dark as the meat from a copper river salmon. Quite beautiful and the bears love them.

The remnants of old growth cedar trees.

A Doug Fir Root Wad.

Root wads are pretty incredible, and useful in salmonid restoration programs. There were several marked streams in the area.

Bear den.

There has been a juvenile Black bear loose in a one of the surrounding areas. I guess they need a place to crash. But this is actually an example of a bear den and not an active bear den, because this is an interpretive forest area, which is used to teach people about the environment of the Pacific Northwest. I know at times a local tree expert will take people on tours through the forest. I missed that day, but when they have one again, I think I will join them.

Oh and I did not once get lost, I had the IPad with me.

Crossposted at DAGblog

ACA: The Slow Dance of Reform 4

There is positive news about  ACA, and an indication so far things are moving in the right direction. But you won’t hear about it on the front page of any newspaper or on an evening news cast, no it is information you must seek out yourself. Whether you believe in insurance or not, a Public Option was merely an insurance company run by the government, meaning it is fully regulated by the government, in essence this will be no different, when ACA is fully implemented, insurance companies will be heavily regulated by the Federal Government. There is very little difference between this and a program run by the federal government. Each is a middle man who pays health care providers through premiums collected.

There are some positive results happening and they are a direct result of the legislation.

1.  As reported June 6th, in the Washington Post, some health insurance premiums are going down.

“In May, insurer Aetna received approval from Connecticut regulators of its request to reduce premiums on individual policies by an average 10 percent, starting in September. Yes, you read that right: reduce the premium. The decrease, which affects some 15,000 consumers, will save those policyholders $259 annually, on average.”

I think most people know, but maybe not, under the new law, insurers must spend 80% of what they receive in premiums on medical claims or quality improvement efforts. Administrative costs and profits must be 20% or less of a premiums collected.  According to the Post what Aetna did is a preemptive strike, so that they will not be responsible for rebates to consumers, because they’ve already lowered individual premiums.  Effectively, this caps administrative costs. For consumers this is a positive sign.

2. Implementation of a National Prevention Strategy, the goal of the strategy will move us from being a system of sick care to one that is based on wellness and prevention. Preventative care is what the uninsured lack, of course many people who are uninsured eventually end up in an emergency room to treat a problem, but this system lacks  long term care and prevention.

3. 5.5 million seniors have taken advantage of  free preventive services. One aspect of medicare many people who are not on medicare don’t understand, it a yearly check up was not covered before the implementation of ACA, it is currently mandated in the reform. This of course plays right into the National Prevention Strategy

4. Affordable Care Act helps fight unreasonable health insurance premium increases because as of May 19th, the HHS.

HHS has issued a final regulation to ensure that large health insurance premium increases will be thoroughly reviewed, and consumers will have access to clear information about those increases. Combined with other important protections from the Affordable Care Act, these new rules will help lower insurance costs by moderating premium hikes and provide consumers with greater value for their premium dollar. In 2011, this will mean rate increases of 10-percent or more must be reviewed by state or federal officials.

The average premium increases imposed on individual plans were nearly 20%, with no rhyme or reason as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Patients were essentially left with three Hobson choices: lose coverage altogether, pay the premium increase, or switch to a plan that covered less. None good, each with dire consequences. This is why rate review is so important.  Rate review does has two important goals,  scrutinizing directing some sunlight premium increases. and mandating the insurance companies justify the increases with information and data.

5.  One result has been the California Assembly has voted to crack down on insurance rates. This was a major step taken by the Assembly to overhaul the way health insurance companies are regulated by the state. AB 52 allows the California State Insurance Commissioner to and the California Dept of Managed Care to block any premium increases. and it would require Insurers to get permission to raise rates.

These are all positive achievements of ACA so far. There will be more. Let’s not allow the Republicans and others with an agenda to continue to claim ACA has no benefits for Americans. We can’t allow Republicans to pull grants that will allow many other people to obtain health insurance. It might not be the bill you want, but it is a positive step in the correct direction.

There are some excellent blogs out there that cover this issue. One is a blog called Heath Care Reform Updates. It’s good, take a gander.

Crossposted at DAGblog

The Political Power of Cable TV Shock-Jockery 9

While the exceeding cool members of this nation were celebrating some success, the cable news media was at it again. Let’s review for a moment and be thrilled about the events that took place, leading to the exhilarating events of last night,   Roy McDonald broke with his party, when he told reporters June 15, 2011 this: “F**k it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.” And with that, the line of demarcation was absolutely shattered. Then other members defected, and with a stroke of a pen Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law. Marriage equality now exists in NY State.  His speech was stirring. I predict he  will run for the Presidency in 2016, and he can win, if we don’t let the very powerful media destroy Democrats one more time. They certainly are attempting to

So, what happened to Rachel Maddow last night? Did she decide to take classes at Beck U, the propaganda arm of the Center for Shock Jockery? Umm humm, I am pretty sure she did make a stop by there to pick up pamphlets, because that BS meme she wants to push, “The President is against what happened today” (last night) is an outright lie. She too has crossed the line, one where she balanced on a thin line separating her from the other cable news shock jocks, and some decently researched stories. What the hell just happened? Did her rating reflect that the more Outrageous the story she can push about the President, the more viewers she gets? I would like to know, it seems to be a relevant question, is there a correlation between  a shocking bumper sticker slogan that says, “The President is against what happened today”, what? Come again? That is your astute analysis even though it is demonstrably wrong if we just take the DADT issue and the decision by the Justice Dept. not to defend DOMA on any grounds.  Geez, what trite, ridiculous drivel. I thought of  Maddow as one of the least offensive cable tv shock jocks, sometimes she even does some in-depth news-like stories.  She joins a list of people at MSNBC who take their shock-jockery seriously, first and foremost, one Chris Matthews, who is outraged on a daily basis, his new obsession is Michelle “wandering eye” Bachmann, “my hero! she is going to go all the way, he exclaimed excitedly to Bill Maher on Real Time June 17, 2011. What is that exactly, it feels like a dude who calls himself a journalist, is trying But the Matthews effect covers a large area at MSNBC, like its Fox nemesis,  outrage is the one and only agenda.  Keep this in mind, when I get to Ralph Nader and the Media.

When 1999 rolled around, scandal was everywhere, the country was eating up the Lewinsky scandal, it was on the News every evening still, we were being enveloped in scandal, the nations news were quickly becoming overblown National Enquirer Fluff.  I am convinced that the most conducted searches on Altavista, Lycos and Infoseek were all about blow jobs, casual khaki suits, Al Gore creating the internet, and Love Story! Al Gore was soon to be biggest feather in the cap of cable shock-jockery, he was a Beta Male, whatever that meant, I didn’t know, and he was certainly too wimpy to be President. While GWBush was quickly becoming the newest shiny object of these people, he was so upstanding they droned on and on about, his morals were exemplary! He was the epitome of what Al Gore was not, he even flew a plane during Vietnam in Alabamstan! He was a man! Al Gore, umm not so much. Rachel Maddow is just one more cable shock jock to pick up the reins of misinformation and run with them! If you don’t think I am right, type in Al Gore i and automatically you see, Al Gore invents the internet as a continuing top internet meme! Wow! It’s still a lie to this day, he never said that, and yet, it survives as one of the biggest lies of the 1990’s.  There has been a rather loud drumbeat by the press as of late to throw another election to yet another nutcase.It’s been happening a good deal lately,to this President too, and just as the wishy-washy lefties of that decade  failed to stand up for Al Gore, the same is happening today with our current President. In part we have to blame the shock-jocks of cable TV whose lives depend on the next manufactured outrage, and they are no better today than yesterday. Rating soar when there is a tinge of scandal or intra-party fight in the air. It is much more fun to discuss so called “moral failings than there were back then and their ratings soar when they can manufacture their next scandal. Name recognition is everything people,  Al Gore most certainly did not say the President has failed on Global Warming, he saves his most poignant criticism for media, notice how each and every one of them left that out! I’ll get back to the HuffPo’s take on Al Gore’s 7000 word essay after some background.

Things were great in 1999, the economy was still on fire, and it literally had nothing to do with deregulation, which as we now know would lead us down a path of returning our country to pre-Depression era nation! But that is another story for that others have covered far better than I.  We all know Republicans are trying to create their Libertopia! Well in the 1990’s the Clinton administration implemented smart policies, that stimulated the economy in a micro way, it was designed to broaden the number of minority businesses that could compete for government contracts, although it was a mere 5% mandated, it did work and stimulated a community minority owned businesses which of course effect their communities in the form of job growth, greater tax base it was part of the reason the economy of the latter 90’s was good, the Clinton administration implemented little policies that assisted job growth using a micro-economic model.  This policy was known as the The 1994 Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act.  Upon entering office, one of the first things the GWB administration did was roll this particular mandate back, using the power of executive order.  But I digress, certainly as so many people analyzed at the time, Al Gore=George Bush. Jokes on you folks! Al Gore was nothing like George Bush.   Al Gore as VP had his own successes to fall primarily his pet project, the Reinventing Government Initiative, which was a huge success, as it introduced modernization of the federal government, with the notable exception of  FBI director, Louis Freeh.    These were just some of the specific policies that Gore tried to run on, but guess what, it didn’t matter, because TV shock-jockery was going to have its way, and its way was to create a situation that allowed trivia to overtake a Presidential election, and that gave us the Presidency of George W Bush. Let’s remember this, the Bush administration was seeking to eliminate all those good programs implemented by the Clinton Administration that benefited our economy, and the media failed utterly to cover the important pieces of the Gore campaign that sought to discuss and explain just these issue, while instead they obsessed over Gore as Beta male and his khaki casual coat???? I still bristle at just the memory of this tomfoolery taking place right before our eyes.

Cable TV shock-jockery pushed the third-party run of Ralph Nader. To this day we often blame him and him alone for Gore’s loss, but I do remember how the cable TV shock-jocks could not get enough of Ralph Nader, they gave him a platform to sew the seeds of discontent among the electorate. They certainly never challenged his assertions that Gore=Bush, and that same meme goes around today among the many people who believe the world is black and white, that Obama=Bush, it isn’t any more creative or any more truthful than it was in 2000. Nor is it a creative analysis of our current political condition, however, the cable TV shock-jocks need more outrage,  for better ratings, and Nader being no different that the current line of go-to guests that parade daily on cable TV, who are most often known for their combative, bombastic personalities, in fact none of these people are any different from the Real Housewives that parade on BravoTV 7 days a week, as they’ve traded nuance for outrage and outrageous behavior. If this weren’t true, would Pat Buchanan still be a TV talking head? I think not! It is time we paid attention to these venues that seem go to for many people on both sides who are politically active, because they continue to sew the seeds of discontent and their intended targets are almost always Democrats. If things were equal, David Vitter would have been drummed out of Office for soliciting prostitutes, it is an illegal activity, yet, there he sits, in Office. My point is, Nader didn’t do anything that the cable TV shock-jocks didn’t continually push, the meme that America needed some drastic change, because things were going much too terribly in terms of our morals, and with that America elected a man, not terribly well suited for the Office of the Presidency.  Our cable TV hero’s saved us, or did they?

So now Rachel is the latest to  dip her toe into the very crowded “Outrage” pool, and you know she did it with some bombast of her own, claiming that the President “Doesn’t like what happened in NY”. This is a lie, an absolute complet lie, but she did it anyway. Why? That is the question. Why do they do it, they do it because it works and attracts a certain kind of angry viewer, one that thinks in terms of black and white, one that refuses to see the gray shades that direct our days and nights. Partly it is because of money, in order to remain on the air, one must stay relevant, and the way to stay relevant is to manufacture outrage to attract the angry believer. There is gobs of money in sharpening ones ability to manufacture Outrage for the sake of ones viewers, ask Rush Limbaugh, who I understand is a very nice dude IRL.  He lives a very comfortable life  because he is a master at manufacturing outrage. The rise and fall of Glenn Beck is the latest example of a dude who is a master at manufacturing outrage and literally selling it to his viewers via faux education programs, but his loyal listeners, viewers and readers have no doubt enriched him even more, by buying into his manufactured outrage, I don’t know what he is like IRL, but you know, no one is that bad, he just knows what works on his audience, well Rachel’s audience is no different are they, they thrive on outrage.

So let’s turn to the 7,000 word essay that Al Gore wrote in the Rolling Stone. My goodness, those on the left that manufacture outrage for a living were on a roll, they made assertions that Al Gore wrote that the President had “Failed”, he failed to lead on climate change, but you know who Al Gore took to task for the failure to educate people about the importance of doing something about climate change, our media, and these are the same people who are making claims that Al  Gore called the President a failure. A Time Magazine blog made claims that Gore “attacked the President for  his failure to lead“. HuffingtonPost never a place to be left behind in leveling attacks against the President made the claim that Gore blasted the President over failing to take the lead on the issue of Climate change. Each of these organizations hid the fact that Al Gore saved his criticism for media organizations, like theirs for failing to educate people on the truth of climate change. Al Gore  specifically indicts the media, corporate leaders, both political parties and by extension voters. To Gore their cumulative inaction on the serious challenges that lie ahead, which are exaserbated by climate change in some ways exonerates the President, because there is little one man can do to  alter the trajectory of our nation, where climate science deniers are granted equal status with the overwhelming evidence that climate change is occurring.

The fact is, Gore did single our the media not the president, in his excellent piece.   Reading the piece, one realizes he takes the media to task for indulgint in “debate” about whether the research indicates that climate change is real and human-made.  Gore goes on to make the point that the science is unanimous. But the serious subject has been changed into nothing more than entertainment. And the media has turned to manufacturing outrage about the subject rather than  devoting themselves to serious reporting on global threats, in search of bigger audiences. He specifically calls out Fox News as a 24/7 purveyor of disinformation and propaganda.  Instead of presenting the facts of Gore’s critique of their  methods,  the media prefers to say Al Gore is fighting with the President. It is just one more piece of evidence that as a whole our modern medias goal is to manufacture Outrage, as it keeps them relevant. And is seems no cable TV shock jock is exempt from the need to drive viewership through Outrage. Rachel, and her media colleagues seem unable to help themselves, and are more than willing to engage in the same tactics of the righties. They are leading us down the same path they did in 2000, they are trying to obfuscate their roll in driving politics, rather than reporting on politics.   If we continue to not call them out on this, we will end up like we did in 2000, with a politician of their choice, because it drives their ratings. We must keep our eye and them and force them to return to reporting facts.  Because at this point, they are merely a part of the problem.

Crossposted at DAGblog

Blogging While Female: Empowerment and Electronic Communication in a Civil Society 6

What is blogging while female? What is it about so many blogs, whether they are of the liberal, conservative or middle of the road blogs that sexism becomes the mode of what is deemed civil discourse? What is female empowerment and what constitutes an on-line civil society and how does it contribute to the overall meaning of civil society? In the end, how do we become more effective communicators and more inclusive of other voices.

I’ve been on-line so-to-speak since 1988, when I began participating in the EICBBS, with my 1200 baud modem and my interest in energy related issues. It was a civil forum run by professionals. We discussed energy and energy related issues, and most of us had more personal knowledge of those participating. The energy community at the time was small, so we knew each other personally. Since that time, the on-line world has evolved into a reflection of society at large and it isn’t reflecting a pretty picture.

E-communities can be terrific, when the participant is not on the outside of the active part of the community. Obviously like-minded people gather in these communities to discuss issues and life in general.  It seems however it is easy for these communities devolve into cliques or what I like to call “the bully posse”, where camaraderie is traded for ideological purity, where rational discussion is literally frowned upon, where some lie in wait for certain commenters or bloggers to begin their attacks, not letting up until said commenter just disappears.

As women, we’ve been dismissed and condescended to the entirety of our existence. I could tell you stories, because as women we weave the stories of our personal lives into how we communicate our ideas and how we form our worldviews. As some have surmised, it is how we gain our voice. We carry those stories with us, it is how we evolve as people, it is how we connect as humans. I realize this is only acceptable once you are truly a member of the group, it is only then that the overly male population of the blog allows that type of communication style. If you are not part of the group, this style is often referred to as meta and deemed unacceptable. But this is the method we use to coax women out of their shells, how they gain their voice in a world that intends them to remain voiceless. Knowing that men and society overall finds our style almost wholly unacceptable, leads us to form our own communities, where our style and our efforts to find our voice are nurtured and deemed acceptable. We have made gains, many, but there is much sexism that remains and permeates many e-communities, including this one.

More disconcerting of course is that the Presidents methods are deemed ineffective because of course he utilizes a less confrontational style, so here and many other blogs, certain bloggers call the president a coward, a wuss, a pussy,  much of the language used to deride him, even in the “liberal/progressive” community falls right into the trap of overt sexism and many women react strongly to those words. When I see them here in a blog, in a comment, I become depressed, because it is one more indication that women and our methods of being in the world are not acceptable. It seems to easy for so many in the so-called progressive community to use degrading feminine terminology to taint the President. Deeming him as unacceptable as most women, because we engage in community building, we seek to make change by compromise and building bridges, and daily on liberal blogs those methods are derided.

It depresses me because it indicates as a society we’ve made few gains in our efforts to become equal, even in the so-called liberal/progressive political movements. We’ve lost, because the majority of men then still see us as inferior to them and because this President seems to be one who believes, as many women do, that we should build bridges with those who don’t hold the same beliefs in order to build a better and more civil society. They seem to view him merely as a woman, who is inferior to them. If what I am writing were not true, why on earth would anyone in a professional capacity say that Hillary should loan the President one of her balls? Inferring one more time this President isn’t man enough to do the right thing, by fist fighting and arguing and making a spectacle of himself ala Anthony Weiner or Alan Grayson. There is rampant sexism in progressive e-communities and it turns women off. I realize it is merely a reflection of how our society has evolved. However it does make it difficult to fully participate in those communities. The words used against us and the President cut like a serrated knife, ripping us apart, reminding us we are not to be included in creating solutions because how we relate to the world is simply not acceptable.

I personally don’t know how to be a part of that kind of community I believe it is a concerted effort to erase women one more time from society. It is an effort to silence us one more time.  These are concerted efforts to limit civility and drive wedges into communities that might have once been more cohesive.   I have a stake in the future of this society, I don’t want a future where we our first instinct is to do nothing more than fight. We have to work hard to attain a truly civil society and I believe the same is true of any on-line community.   It falls to each of us as individuals to curb our tendencies to create disparate tribes that continually war with each other over ideology, if we do not, our society falls apart, and we only have ourselves to blame if this happens.

Crossposted at DAGblog

Is Norm Dicks Signaling a Sooner End to Military Action in Afghanistan? 4

On June 11, 2011  Norm Dicks (D)  Washington State’s 6th district told constituents through reporters at his local paper The Kitsap Sun, that it is time for Afghanistan to “take care of herself”.  So the question becomes this, is Norm Dick signaling this administrations willingness to move up the timeline for removing troops from Afghanistan. Norm Dicks is a hawk, he is the senior democratic member of the defense appropriations committee and was Jack Murtha’s right hand man and successor to head up the committee under a Democratic speaker. Norm has been in government a very long time and was a legislative and administrative assistant to Senator Warren G. Magnuson, who was a well-known hawk during Vietnam. Magnuson believed the US should stop the spread of communism. Norm like many others in congress supported military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, although he eventually changed his beliefs, not unlike Magnuson did about Vietnam later on in his career. What I wonder is if Norm Dicks is signaling to the American people, that  this administration has plans to end the conflict in Afghanistan sooner rather than later.

Dicks said in the Kitsap Sun,

“We are cutting a lot of important programs for the people of this country, people who are unemployed,” he said Friday in a telephone interview with the Kitsap Sun. “If I’m going to spend money I’d rather spend it on trying to create jobs for these people through infrastructure expenditures.”

Does this mean the administration is ready to put together a firm timeline to withdraw from Afghanistan and they would be moving up the 2014 time line? Norm Dicks is a good Democrat and a very close ally of the Obama Administration, Leslie Gelb of the Daily beast seems to think so.  American’s have turned against the Afghan war and it isn’t politically tenable to not plan to withdraw from Afghanistan at this point. As we all know the Afghani’s are as tired of us as we are of fighting an endless war there.

On June 9th during a confirmation hearing in the senate he was cautious when describing his views on the Afghan war, but did say that he agreed with the President that troop withdrawal should begin next month and they should be significant withdrawals, although he added that the US should “provide sufficient stability so that the country never again becomes a safe haven for Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda’s militant allies.

Aside from being a hawk at times Dicks is a reliable progressive and votes accordingly.

Record of Norm’s votes

Norm’s Progressive Action Score

I am hoping Dick’s is signaling that the time tables for withdrawing from Afghanistan will be pushed up significantly and that many of our troops will be coming home sooner rather than later.

Cross-posted at DAGblog

Von Mises and Bachmann on a Beach 5

And no, von Mises and Bachmann on a Beach is not a hot new cocktail down at your corner bar, but it could be, maybe Rachel Maddow will work one up just to enjoy this 18 month-long election season.  Stephen Moore, Wall Street Journal douchebag writer sycophant, asked some questions of Michelle Bachmann  in his latest column.  Yes I reluctantly read the WSJ’s opinion guys to punish myself I think, but also to read about these characters from folks who love them, not just from folks like me who wonder WTF? Who elects these lunatics?  Von Mises is a star amongst Paultard libertarians, because they hate, hate, hate government and truly believe there should be no government. I find that ironic, given Ron Paul doesn’t believe in government yet has been in government since the 1850’s or something. So Bachmann is crazy like a fox when mentioning she reads von Mises, whenever his name is mentioned she gets 1,000 more rabid fans, all male, all frustrated by the serious Republicans running to win the Republican primaries, and no Tim Pawlenty is not one of them.

The article isn’t as enlightening so much as it is evidence of a woman preparing to run for the Presidency and is pulling out all the stops to attract every conservative vote out there, including the Libertairn vote. Although I think Paul and Johnson have that vote sewn up, but then again maybe they don’t and maybe Bachamann can use that dog whistle to attract those voters to her side.

According to Bachmann, when she goes to the beach, she brings with her works by Ludwig von Mises, especially the book on Socialism I am sure, but she mentions the book Human Action, too, yikes, really???  As a beach goer myself, even though sometimes it is just the Frenchtown pond I bring towels, sunscreen, and books by John Waters, Norah Ephron and Wil Wheaton and my IPod. Okay that is just me, but von Mises, really, it doesn’t seem like beach reading material, it seems like sleeping material, and sleeping on the beach can get you burned. But I guess reading and following von Mises can get you burned as well.  I think people should pay close attention to Michelle Bachmann as she  begins her campaign for the Presidency tonight in the first Republican Presidential primary debate.

I’ve done a little research on von Mises, although it ended up being pointless research since these are economic theories never used by any nation except maybe Somalia.  Von Mises is the leader of what libertarians and CATO intelligentsia call the Austrian school of Economics. Bachmann claims she loves von Mises. So she is saying she doesn’t believe in the central bank, she doesn’t believe in the government stimulus and most of all taxes are not needed!

Michelle Bachmann is gearing up for her run for the Presidency, and while people are obsessed with Sarah Palin, Bachmann skirts just under the radar, almost unnoticed, but saying all the right things to the Club for Growth crowd. Reading the Moore article gives one the impression that she is telling those hardcore libertarians she is going to dismantle the government if she gets control, she will put the Ryan plan on the table, Medicare, Social Security are ills of socialist Marxism. She will be debating tonight as well, while Gary Johnson another Republican Libertarian candidate was not invited to debate.

Those who follow von Mises are a strident bunch, they believe civilization will not survive unless this untried economic system is followed. They obsess non-stop about the Marxist take over of the US government. So now I understand why end-timers like Bachmann would read von Mises on the beach, they believe the end of the world is near unless we take serious action like no-government or something like that, but I wonder if they’ve been to Somalia?

I have decided I should record the Republican debate tonight even though it risks my sanity, and if Bachmann says anything crazy, and you know she will, this post will be updated with video.

Cross posted at The Angriest Liberal

Saving the Scotchman Peaks Proposed Wilderness Area 4

As you know I ride my bike all over Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and occasionally New England, this year it is Maine in September, where we go visit the ex-President Bush in Kennebunkport, he isn’t expecting us of course, but we will wave as we ride by their compound if we can see it from the road! And I am sure he will be thrilled that the Greatest Living Democrat will go out of her way to acknowledge his New England roots.

Well June 4th we were riding the CHaFE 150 in Sandpoint, Idaho. So far this was the most grueling ride of my life, mostly because it was 150 miles long and in the Kanisku National Forest. It was hilly, it no doubt wore me out, but it was a blast.

I learned a few things while we rode, I spent lots of time talking to Kenny who runs the cross-country area at Schweitzer. I learned about the Scotchman Peaks proposed wilderness area which is right in the middle of the Cabinet Mountains of the Kanisku National Forest, the Scotchman’s lie in both Montana and Idaho.

I took this picture at mile 97, we were stopped here:

Yes these people have an incredible sense of humor and at mile 97 I did feel like I needed a MASH unit!

Well what we learned  is there is silver in them hills, okay peaks and there is an epic battle going on between environmentalists in Idaho and mining interests in both Idaho and Montana.

According to the Friends of the Scotchman’s this area spans the Idaho/Montana border and one of the last, and largest, wild areas in that region. The group conducts education, outreach and stewardship activities to preserve the rugged, scenic and biologically diverse 88,000 acre Scotchman Peaks Roadless Area. They believe the Scotchman Peaks deserve congressional designation as Wilderness for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations.I believe that as well, as the earth continues to warm we must attempt to preserve these areas, as there are so few left.

It is going to be quite the fight over this area, Montana has not had a great economy as a state since the Anaconda company closed the Berkeley pit down in Butte which in 1982, and at that point the entire United States was still recovering from high inflation, interest rates and an oil crisis.  Silver mining promises to bring some life to an economy that has suffered for 30+ years. This area along with the new Drumlummon discovery could bring some life back to an economy that has been in nothing but decline.

Idaho on the other hand, even though it is a fairly conservative state has done wonders with preserving wilderness and developing an extensive economy that has both high-tech opportunities and tourism. Preserving the Scotchman Peaks seems to be a goal of the people of northern Idaho.

Unfortunately because the economy of the entire US is not great, but in particular in Montana it has been in decline for 30+ years, so there may be no way to stop the development of the Scotchman Peaks. But the word has to get out there among people who are not just residents of the Idaho Panhandle. There is a way to save the Scotchman Peaks and we must work to preserve it for future generations.

GOP in HOR – Renewable Energy is Anti-Energy 2

As usual the TeaBag GOP is going out on a limb to protect Oil, Coal, and Nuclear energy producers. NREL – the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado is on the chopping block. I did an internship while in graduate school at the Washington State Energy Office in 1993. The program I worked for was the Energy Ideas Clearing House which was funded by grants through the Department of Energy. The funding source was through the DofE’s Office of Science and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs. NREL recieves their funding from those programs at the DoE.  Republicans in the house are seeking to have these programs eliminated in the 2012 budget. They claim of course that these programs offer nothing to the US and have by and large failed. What should be of particular interest to everyone is that Republicans seems to believe that Renewable Energy isn’t necessary to explore. Defunding these programs will essentially defund NREL, EIC, NCAT and other Alternate Renewable Energy programs in the US.

According to a report in the Denver Sun GOP lawmakers are pushing to defund the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs in the 2012 budget, because they “have failed to live up to their supposed potential.” This is an assessment they offer without supporting data, but what is most interesting is Tom McClintock from a TBag district in California, who states:

“We should not follow the president’s poor planning in increasing the funding for these anti-energy boondoggles.”

Republicans are seeking to save money by defunding these programs while continuing to subsidize Oil, Coal and Nuclear Energy industries. Of course those subsidies are much larger than any monies spend on funding these energy research programs. NREL was founded in 1978, by the Carter Administration, and that was effectively the last time the nation attempted to develop solid energy policies to move us towards the future.  According to the NREL website, it is the only federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Backed by 33 years of achievement, NREL leads the way in helping meet the growing demand for clean energy.

So are renewable energy programs anti-energy boondoggles? Do these folks really believe wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuel research has no place in developing sound energy policy? So while progressives are out there hand-wringing about the awfulness of the biggest liar of all President Obama and how he hates the unemployed, the middle class, unions, who is also a closet Republican, is the second coming of Ronald Reagan, wants everyone to go to community college for no reason because they have already have mad skilz, Republicans in the House are getting away with destroying programs that are beneficial not just to the nation but to the world.

Until we the people are able to convince lawmakers that we would like to fund these programs the United States will never develop a coherent energy policy that can move us to a cleaner energy future, and while China is investing 54.4 billion dollars in renewable energy sources, we will cease to fund research into renewable energies, because they are deemed anti-energy by those whose political campaigns are funded by the oil, coal and nuclear industries. Until we pressure our law maker to do this we will continue to fight wars over oil.  We all know that we went to Iraq because of Oil and not for any other reason.

According to Open Secrets, Rep. Lamborn of Colorado, the guy behind eliminating the funding source of these programs, in 2010 he received the majority of his donations from:

Industry

Total

Indivs

PACs

Defense Aerospace $34,250 $0 $34,250
Oil & Gas $31,750 $1,250 $30,500
Defense Electronics $28,300 $0 $28,300
Mining $17,500 $0 $17,500
Real Estate $16,833 $9,333 $7,500

Over his lifetime as a representative Oil and Gas are among the top three of those contributing to his campaigns, so it is no surprise he wants to eliminate funding for NREL.  He received a lifetime total $191,762 total from Energy and Natural Resource Industries with $158,000 coming directly from PAC’s. We certainly know why this particular congressman is pushing to have NREL, NCAT, EIC defunded by eliminating the funding of the DOE’s Office of Science and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs.

The Republican leadership on the House Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development are as follows:

Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) [Chairman]

Energy and Natural Resources: about $217,000 life since 1998 of which pac’s donated $190,000

Jerry Lewis (R-CA)

Energy and Natural Resources: $469,000 since 1998 with $419,000 coming from PAC’s

Mike Simpson (R-ID)

Energy & Natural Resources:  $535,797 since 1998 with $441,445 coming from PAC’s

Dennis Rehberg (R-MT)

Energy & Natural Resources Industries:  $659,599 since 1998 with $464,750 coming from PAC’s

Rodney Alexander (R-LA)

Energy & Natural Resources:  $279,446 $167,750

Steve Womack (R-AR)

Is pretty new to congress and has received $21,000 from Energy and Natural Resource Industries

Alan Nunnelee (R-MS)

Also a new member and he received $79,200 from Energy and Natural Resource Industries

I know for a fact my congressman Norm Dicks will vote against these efforts, however your own congress-person needs to hear from you if you care about it at all. They need to know whether you for or against these efforts.  If we truly are a government by the people for the people, your participation doesn’t have to end with voting. Blogging about how you hate, hate, hate every single thing about everyone in congress, isn’t as effective as contacting your congressperson. To me this is very important. Make some noise and implore your like minded friends and neighbors to do the same, especially if you care about moving towards building a green or sustainable future for future generations. They need to know where you stand on real issues. Write them a letter, shoot them an email, and let them know you understand the issues. Do it every day if you have to, but don’t let the Republicans get away with demagoguing renewable energy programs.

Cross Posted at DAGblog