Thursday, October 26, 2006
Here's what I want the leadership of the Democratic Party to announce within the next few days: The Plan For What If.
Look, I think we all have to work like bloody hell to turn out the vote in the next week+. Shit. I'm handing out campaign literature for a sexist Reagan appointee like Jim Webb on the entirely-sound theory that he's still better for women than G. Felix Allen, Jr. and that, given a choice between total fucking evil and just kinda-sorta evil, I'll take kinda-sorta, thank you very much, Mam.
But what I want to hear, and what I'm not hearing, is the plan for What If. Everyone's happy and excited that the poll numbers show that the Democrats will take Congress, for sure, and maybe, maybe, maybe even the Senate. Latest polls show us ahead -- whee! Surely the Republicans can't steal this one! It would be too blatant! Too many people expect the Democrats to win, this time! They'd never dare.
For the love of Goddess. Do we ever get tired of acting like Charlie Fucking Brown running up to kick the bejezus out of that football that Lucy is holding for us? Ever? Or are we the party of the perpetually punked?
Of course they dare. Of course they fucking dare. Number one, what fucking choice do they have? If you're Dick Cheney, are you just going to stand back and allow the party that will investigate everything from your Secret Energy Commission Plan to Divvy Up the Iraq Oil Fields and Ass-Fuck California to your Haliburton Stock to your lying the country into war to waltz into power? And, number two, please name for me the last time that you said, "They wouldn't fucking dare," and it turned out that they actually didn't dare??? They wouldn't dare shit on Max Cleland, a war hero and amputee? If we run Kerry, they'd never dare attack his war record and purple hearts? If Michael Moore shows what they're up to, they'd never dare argue back that he's fat? They'd never dare attack the mother of a slain soldier? They'd never dare spy on Americans? They'd never dare abolish habeas corpus? They'd never dare attack a beloved cripple with Parkinson's disease? They'd never dare attack pages stalked by a Republican Congressman? They'd never dare just make up lies and run them as campaign ads? WTF? Of course they'd dare? Why shouldn't they? When have their dares ever cost them shit?
And, yet, it happens election after election. And every time, the Democratic leadership has no plan. What if we wake up on November 8th and the talking heads are telling us about the Republicans' amazing last minute turn around based upon (take your pick) the tape of Osama bin Laden, Hussein's sentencing, our atomic attack on Iran, what negative ads the Democrats ran, how Americans turned against those nasty netroots, what poor candidates the Dems ran, the value voters who did turn out for Karl Rove one more time, the magical green shamrocks and delicious pink stars??????
Yeah, I'm going to work like hell over the next few days for a Democratic victory. However, we've spent two years since we got punked the last time and no one's come up with any strategy better than hoping that we won't get fooled again.
But what if we do? What's our plan for that eventuality? Imagine if, right now, all the Dems started saying that there will be a major rally in every major city in this country on Nov. 12th and it will either be a victory rally following a Democratic takeover of Congress or it will be a rally to oppose rigged elections?
Or, we can all stay home on the 12th and say, ah, if only Webb had been more . If Lamont had only . Well, Candidate X could have . Next time, we'll .
I'm tired of this bullshit.
Today's EEI newsletter reports:
Shell Oil President Supports 'Cap and Trade' Global Emissions Scheme
Shell Oil President John Hofmeister, in an interview on C-SPAN carried by E&E News PM, spoke of the firm's support for a national – or worldwide - climate change initiative that would include cap-and-trade schemes for emissions. Stressing that for Shell Oil, the climate change "debate is over," Hofmeister said: "We think cap and trade is possible. The information management system that supports a cap and trade is available. The electronics are there. We think a national cap and trade system would be a good idea. It could also become, ultimately, a global cap and trade system because just as we trade oil globally we could probably trade carbon globally. A carbon tax probably fits in there somewhere, but, again, if it's going to be a tax, the one request we would make, as a company, is that it be a level playing field so that all would be participating in it, not just a few."
E&E News PM , Oct. 25.
When Shell Oil says that the climate change debate is over, you know that the fat lady has sung. Now, carbon-based businesses are simply trying, as the above article shows, to control their landing. Note, also, the willingness to accept a carbon tax.
I'm not quite as wild about a global cap and trade system, if it would allow people to continue to pollute the air here in exchange for planting some trees in India, although I suppose that, over the long haul (which we don't have, which is why I don't like this idea) it's all one planet and eliminating carbon is eliminating carbon.
What's interesting to me is how there was this huge house of cards, ready to come down almost immediately once someone took the first big step. Time from release of An Inconvenient Truth to California's legislation: Approximately 3 months.
Time from California's legislation until Shell Oil announced the climate change debate to be over: Less than two months.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The technology we need most badly is the technology of community -- the knowledge about how to cooperate to get things done. Our sense of community is in disrepair at least in part because the prosperity that flowed from cheap fossil fuel has allowed us all to become extremely individualized, even hyperindividualized, in ways that, as we only now begin to understand, represent a truly Faustian bargain. We Americans haven't needed our neighbors for anything important, and hence neighborliness -- local solidarity -- has disappeared. Our problem now is that there is no way forward, at least if we're serious about preventing the worst ecological nightmares, that doesn't involve working together politically to make changes deep enough and rapid enough to matter. A carbon tax would be a very good place to start.
This is the very last election in which I will vote for, dontate money to, or support any candidate who is not actively pro-carbon-tax.
How the remaining 200 million or so are likely to live, after the planet has a stroke and the water wars are over:
When I was in Tibet this summer, I repeatedly stumbled across the yak-skin tents of nomadic herders living in some of the most remote (and lofty) valleys in the world. They depended on yak dung, which they burned to cook food and heat their tents, and also often on a small solar panel hanging off one side of the tent, powering a light bulb and perhaps a radio inside. Every small town had a shop selling solar panels for a price roughly equivalent to that of a single sheep. Solar power obviously makes sense in such places, where there's probably never going to be an electric line.
From today's Froomkin:
NBC's David Gregory posed this question: "Mr. President, for several years you have been saying that America will 'stay the course' in Iraq. You were committed to the policy. And now you say that no, you're not saying 'stay the course,' that you're adapting to win, that you're showing flexibility. And as you mention, out of Baghdad we're now hearing about benchmarks and timetables from the Iraqi government, as relayed by American officials, to stop the sectarian violence.
"In the past, Democrats and other critics of the war who talked about benchmarks and timetables were labeled as 'defeatists, ' 'Defeat- o-crats,' or people who wanted to 'cut and run.'
"So why shouldn't the American people conclude that this is nothing from you other than semantic, rhetorical games and all politics two weeks before an election?"
Bush replied by distinguishing between mutually agreed-upon benchmarks and a fixed timetable for withdrawal.
But Bush has previously opposed even benchmarks. And when asked how he planned to measure success toward the benchmarks -- and what he would do if the benchmarks weren't met -- Bush ducked the question.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the fact that the upcoming election is going to be smack-dab in the middle of a Retrograde Mercury. What I don't know about astrology would fill a library, but one of the first things that my very talented friend Amy ever taught me was that Retrograde Mercury is to be respected. What is a Mercury Retrograde?
As Karmastrology explains, Mercury, which is only visible just before sunrise or just after sunset[,] travels in a forward direction most of the time.
But three or four times a year, if you care to watch carefully, it appears to turn around and go backwards for about three weeks! Now Mercury really isn't going backwards. [I love you, NTodd.] It's just an optical illusion based on the relative speeds and orbits of the Earth and Mercury around the Sun. The times when Mercury appears to be going backward are Mercury Retrogrades. As Wikipedia notes, the word mercurial is commonly used to refer to something erratic, volatile[,] or unstable, derived from Mercury's swift flights from place to place. The element of Mercury was also known as quicksliver and Mercury is famously known as the messenger of the Gods. He thus, in astrological terms, reigns over messages, communication, travel, etc. He's also come to be associated with the implements used to facilitate these things: telegraphs, radios, TVs, computers, phones, Blackberries, fax machines, cables, microwaves.
As a result, when he's going backwards, those things over which he reigns can get bolloxed, screwed up, backasswards. In general[,] the effect of Mercury retrograde is annoyance. Little things get snarled up and a low-grade frustration emerges. Anything involving communications, verbal activity, technology, short trips and journeys, primary education, and siblings [W/Jeb] can be affected.
While Mercury retrograde usually is in the minor irritant category, every now and then a colossal screw-up can take place. For example, the last time that America had an election during a Retorgrade Mercury was: November of 2000. Consider the Bush-Gore 2000 American presidential election in Florida. Now there's a classic colossal screw-up. [In 2004, when there was a Retrograde Mercury, Americans held] their presidential election on the day when Mercury retrograde energy peaked, called stationary direct.
Everything involving communication (in all its forms, including tv, telephone calls, the internet, voting instructions, etc.), to technology (the machines couldn't count all those hanging chads!), to legal processes (if Bush v. Gore isn't an incomprehensible legal opinion, I'm not sure what is) got bolluxed. The result, as we all know, was a screw-up that denied America its popularly-elected and electorally-elected President and we've been cursed ever since with a man who gives new meaning to the term "inarticulate."
Now, we're faced with another world-crisis-type election that will fall during a Mercury Retrograde. And, by now, as the Princeton Study and many other sources make clear, the Diebold machines upon which many Americans are forced to vote are so hackable that it must be a feature, not a glitch. Now, the Rovian Republicans have not just opportunity (it's easy to hack the machines that one of their operatives manufactures and sells) but motivation: a Congress and Senate controlled by Democrats would likely begin to investigate some of the treasonous (i.e., hanging offense) crimes that the Republicans have committed, beginning with their theft of the 2000 election, continuing through the Cheney Energy Commission, including the lies that led America to an illegal war, and on through the torture of innocents, specifically prohibited by the Geneva Convention. At some point, the Bush junta's crimes passed over from the realm of mere treason and became the sort of international crimes for which one is sent to the Hague. Opportunity and motivation. For most lawyers, that's almost all you need to know that a crime is likely to be committed.
So, that's all interesting, but I'm wondering what to do. The six years already lost during the Bush junta will likely result in an environment so hostile to human habitation that my Grandson's life will be radically more difficult than it would have been had Gore taken the oath of office in January of 2001. I don't think we/I/he can afford two more years of unchecked power from this Son of a Retrograde Mercury.
What I think we need to do, and this is a bit gutsy, is to work WITH, not against, the upcoming Retrograde Mercury. By now, the Rovain Republicans are the ones who depend upon their communications, their computer programming skills (because what's a hack except for a subversive form of computer programming?), the ability of their memes to travel over the airwaves and internets. Trickster gods and goddesses (including mercurial Mercury) tend to work against the establishment. I believe (for obvious reasons) that, when working with trickster forces, simple is better than complicated. I don't want to change the results of Americans' votes -- that's the Republicans' role. What I want is for the votes that Americans cast to count and to be counted correctly. What I want is to thwart the plans of those who would steal this election.
So I'm going to try to talk my amazing circle of magical women -- just newly re-dedicated with more new members than old (remember the magic that I told you we did?) -- to channel the Mercury Retrograde energy into the Rovian attempts to steal the election. Now, before Mercury gets himself turned all around, would be a good time for spell work.
Ground and meditate calmly on the value of a free, fair, democratic election. Cast a damn good circle and call the directions. Give East, heh, a bit of special attention. Invoke a deity favorable to liberals, to democracy, to the Earth. Walking widdershins, chant to raise energy. To harness the forces of a trickster god, chant "She changes everything she touches. And everything she touches changes. She changes everything she touches. And everything she touches changes." When the energy's raised, create an energy channel and channel the retrograde energy of Mercury towards Diebold, Rove, Snow, Bush, Fox, etc. and release it with this call: By the powers of flighty Mercury, by the powers of three times three, no election-stealing shall there be. By the powers of flighty Mercury, by the powers of three times three, all votes count fair, so mote it be. By the powers of flighty Mercury, by the powers of three times three, this spell works no ill on America or me. This is my will, so mote it be."
Ground. Thank deity and directions. Open your circle.
Watch them reap the whirlwind.
Some will cry, "But what about the Rule of Three?" I don't believe that the universe punishes those who try to prevent thieves from stealing. If you do, go undo that pentacle that you placed over your door to keep out thieves. I do believe that the universe acts as a dynamic balancing system. And, Goddess knows, we need some balance. And, Goddess knows, I mean to be a force for balance.
And, just in case you have any questions about who's already channeling Mercury's retrograde power of confusion and chaos, go read this diary at Kos and the underlying article, pointed out to me by my brilliant friend, Elizabeth. Don't lecture me about the need to bring a fluffy-bunny-pink magic wand to a knife fight. My ancestresses didn't last long enough to plop my genes in this spot by playing nice with assholes. All I need to know is:
Are you in?
The WaPo says it all:
The former CEO's arrogance, belligerence[,] and lack of contriteness under questioning made him a lightning rod for the rage generated by the collapse of Enron in 2001.
Hey, Jeff! You know the difference between you and the Titanic? The Titanic didn't get twenty-four years in jail for being a first class prick. Other than that, nothing. You're both sunk, you're both history, you're both big wrecks.
Last Thursday's Megawatt Daily newsletter reports that:
There is a serious risk of power shortages and extreme price volatility if electricity demand growth is higher than expected during the next five or six years, according to a study by consulting company Wood Mackenzie.
The record demand peaks of the summer 2006 highlight the danger of relying on reserve margins that are sufficient for average[,] but not necessarily above-average[,] conditons, according to the study, "A Crisis in the Making?"
"Currently, there are not enough power plants planned and under construction to meet demand if the 2006 weather repeats itself," says the study.
Between our continuing-to-explode population and our hotter-than-ever-before days and nights, it wouldn't be improvident to bet that there will, in fact, be higher dmeand growth during the next five or six years. We don't have enough power plants to deal with a repeat of the summer of 2006, much less deal with even (increasinly) hotter summers in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Note that the warning is for both "power shortages and extreme price volatility," not either/or. And "price volatility" does not, in this situation, mean prices dropping so low (absent the sort of massive over-building that's highly unlikey to happen) that power companies go bankrupt; it means record high prices that people on minimum wage, old people, people with large medical bills, just can't afford.
Today's EEI newsletter reports that:
Proposal Would Block EPA, States From Regulating CO2, GHG
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., has circulated a draft bill to block EPA and states from regulating CO2 and other GHGs by setting a clean-energy performance standard for utilities rather than capping CO2 emissions, Inside EPA reported today. Electricity industry officials were said to be backing the plan.
The newsletter said that a knowledgeable source said Xcel Energy has touted a plan similar to Coleman's proposal. Wrote the newsletter: "The proposal would block EPA from regulating CO2 by clarifying that the gas is not considered a 'pollutant' under the Clean Air Act, according to the proposal. This would preempt pending Supreme Court litigation over EPA's responsibility to regulate CO2, Massachusetts et al. v. EPA, where the agency is arguing that even if CO2 is a pollutant, it has discretion under the air act to [not] regulate."
The proposal comes as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a speech that she plans to introduce a series of bills, including measures establishing a mandatory cap-and-trade program for the electricity sector.
Inside EPA , Oct. 20.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
BBC explains that:
[Reports predict that] there will be as many as 200 million climate refugees by 2050.
Areas where people are already on the move to avoid climate excesses include, the report says:
Brazil, where one in five people born in the arid northeast region relocates to avoid drought
China, where three provinces are seeing the spread of the Gobi desert
Nigeria, where about 2,000 sq km is becoming desert each year
Attributing the movement of people to climate impacts is, however, a difficult issue, with many other factors including economic opportunity behind decisions to relocate.
. . .
"It's the extremes of water which are going to provide the biggest threat to the developing world from climate change," [according to One of Britain's leading climate scientists, Sir John Houghton].
"Without being able to be too specific about exactly where, droughts will tend to be longer, and that's very bad news. Extreme droughts currently cover about 2% of the world's land area, and that is going to spread to about 10% by 2050."
Overall, he said, climate models show a drying out of sub-Saharan Africa, while some other areas of the world will see more severe flooding.
I guess all those people searching for water and all those people flooded out of their homes will just go hang out at the Astrodome for a week or two.
No. I don't.
Because religion has such a compelling hold on the deep psyches of so many people, feminists cannot afford to leave it in the hands of the fathers. Even people who no longer "beieve in God" or participate in the institutional structure of patriarchial religion still may not be free of the power of the symbolism of God the Father. A symbol's effect does not depend on rational assent, for symbol also functions on levels of the psyche other than the rational.
From "Why Women Need the Goddess: Phenomenological, Psychological,and Political Reflections" by Carol P. Christ in The Politics of Women's Spirituality ed. by Charlene Spretnak.
Fear and the Muse
A Review by Michael Scammell
One day in the fall of 1939, a tall middle-aged woman dressed in black slowly shuffled forward in a long line of hundreds of other women outside the Kresty prison in Leningrad. It was freezing cold, and like the others she was holding a package of food for an imprisoned relative, in this case her only son. He had already served a term of hard labor on the White Sea Canal, and was now in another part of the gulag in the far north of Russia. Suddenly someone in the line called the tall woman by name, causing a blue-lipped younger woman behind her to start with surprise. "Can you describe this?" asked the younger one. "Yes, I can," said the tall woman. "I can."
The tall middle-aged woman was Anna Akhmatova, one of Russia's greatest modern poets, and Requiem 1935- 1940, the work she wrote about her experiences during those years, became one of the greatest Russian poems of the twentieth century. It stands beside Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago, a very different kind of work, as a precious monument not simply to the ordeal of a single individual, but also to the unparalleled suffering of a whole people, the Russian people under the communist yoke, and especially during the worst excesses of the Stalinist terror:
At first light, they led you away,
a mourner at a funeral I followed
Children were crying in the
The candle guttered under the icon
and your lips were cold, as if painted,
your forehead deathly wet.
These moments I shall never forget.