a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

I voted for Jill Stein. Global warming is one reason why.

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 2nd November 2012

This Jill Stein ad only scratches the surface of the two-party pro-carbon consensus on display during the debates she was locked out of — and you know it:

  • “We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years. Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment.” (Obama, Oct 16 debate)
  • “I’m going to make sure we can continue to burn clean coal.” (Romney, Oct 4 debate)
  • “…we made the largest investment in clean coal technology to make sure that even as we’re producing more coal, we’re producing it cleaner and smarter.” (Obama, Oct 16 debate)

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  At one point, Obama even took Romney to task for closing a coal-fired power plant in Massachusetts.

And that may not be the only consensus you’re excluded from with Obama and Romney: they share the same regrettable outlook on austerity, on growing the military, on preserving a system of all-but-untrammeled financial predation, on pushbutton drone assassinations(-plus-bystanders)(-plus-rescuers), on wholesale warrantless surveillance, on pre-emptive prosecutions, on indefinite detentions.

I voted for Jill Stein yesterday. Global warming is one reason why. No matter where you live, but especially if you’re in a “safe” state — one where one of the two major party candidates is far ahead, e.g., CA, CT, DC, GA, MA, MD (like me), ME, MO, NJ, NY, PA, OR, RI, SC, TN, TX, or WA — I think you should strongly consider it.

Voting for a third party candidate in yet another “most important election ever” sends a message — to be sure, one it’s best to amplify with blog posts, letters to the editor, tweets, and whatever other means you have to hand.  But it also helps future Green Party candidates get on the ballot — both indirectly, by drawing attention to a party whose values you share, and directly, by helping them qualify for the ballot more easily. You’ll likely be glad to have that choice in the years ahead. Give that choice a chance with your vote.

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Emergency Management, Climate Denialist Parties tied; Disaster Prevention Party distant third

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 1st November 2012

So far, the Obama administration appears to be doing a good enough job with post-Sandy relief efforts that even Republican governor Chris Christie has been effusive in his appreciation.  Adding to the surreal atmosphere was the Return of Michael “Heckuva Job” Brown, criticizing the Obama administration for being  too quick with their federal response — and then doubled down the next day asserting that Obama hadn’t got enough political mileage out of the disaster.  With enemies like these, who needs friends?

Get ready for more like this.

As Democrats bask in the glow of being the Party of Better Emergency Management, though, some voters were on the lookout for a little more: a commitment to fighting the global warming that’s fueling ever more frequent and powerful weather disasters — heck, even just acknowledgement of the problem.

We sure haven’t seen it in the presidential debates;  after the second debate, Charles Pierce of Esquire noted,

On Tuesday night, we had two guys arguing about who’s a bigger friend to coal, about who will allow the most oil drilling on federal land, and about who will best extract the most carbon-based fuels out from under the country over the next four years.

With that kind of leadership as a backdrop, I’ve seen discussions literally comparing New Yorkers — and perhaps coastal dwellers everywhere — to the Jews in pre-Holocaust Germany: doomed unless they leave or unless they’re saved by a political miracle, and wondering what it is that is paralyzing all of us from taking sensible action.  The fear is not far-fetched; it turns out to be an engineering exercise.   According to a Nature Climate Change article (Lin et al, Jan 2012):

…the change of storm climatology will probably increase the surge risk for NYC; results based on two GCMs [global climate models] show the distribution of surge levels shifting to higher values by a magnitude comparable to the projected sea-level rise (SLR). The combined effects of storm climatology change and a 1m SLR may cause the present NYC 100-yr surge flooding to occur every 3–20yr and the present 500-yr flooding to occur every 25–240yr by the end of the century.

(Via Corey Robin; emphases added.) Realizations like this shouldn’t just result in support for higher seawalls, though; it should re-energize political support for addressing global warming itself.

It seems to me we have an obvious opportunity to do that: if you’re in a “safe” state where Obama leads Romney by a wide margin or vice versa — like New York —  voting Green next Tuesday ought to be a pretty simple, low-risk, high gain experiment.*  A lot of people are on the verge of really getting it about global warming — but others are on the verge of giving up about it. Let’s raise our hands, vote Green, and show them all — and Democratic apparatchiks besides — that there could be a “fight global warming” bandwagon to get on.

You should follow up your “vote” message with some “messages about your vote”: letters to the editor, Facebook posts, tweets, and/or musical productions explaining what you’ve done and why; there may well be other reasons, from the war on civil liberties and human rights to the war on the safety net to the possibility of war with Iran.  But I would stress Hurricane Sandy, because people get that pretty easily right now.

Sure, there’s no guarantee the message will be received, or that it will be acted on.  But if you’d like your message to be heard, you’ve got to send it.

UPDATE, 11/1: Nation Suddenly Realizes This Just Going To Be A Thing That Happens From Now On (The Onion)
* If you’re in a swing state, vote Green too, *if* Stein really represents your views best — there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that, Obama never owned your vote, he can only earn it or lose it. I’d vote Stein in Ohio this year, because Obama lost my vote. And while I get why many would not, I think it should be because they, on balance, really *prefer* Obama over Stein when *all* is said and done — and not out of some misplaced sense of shame about otherwise helping Romney win.

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Greens: reject Ellsberg’s advice, or don’t – just don’t run away from it

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 30th October 2012

October 23 video of discussion between Daniel Ellsberg , Matt Stoller (Roosevelt Institute, “naked
capitalism”), Emily Hauser, (Daily Beast), and Ben Manski (campaign manager for Green Party
presidential candidate Jill Stein), moderated by Huffington Post’s Ahmed Shihab-Eldin.

An article by Daniel Ellsberg and a reply tweet by Matt Stoller set the stage for a very interesting online roundtable last Tuesday attended remotely by Ellsberg, Stoller,  Emily Hauser (a blogger for the Daily Beast ) — and the disappointing Ben Manski, campaign manager for Jill Stein’s presidential campaign.

Daniel Ellsberg’s October 18 article “Progressives: In Swing States, Vote for Obama” was probably not a hit at the White House; the recommendation was despite seeing Obama as “a tool of Wall Street, a man who’s decriminalized torture and is still complicit in it, a drone assassin, someone who’s launched an unconstitutional war, supports kidnapping and indefinite detention without trial, and has prosecuted more whistleblowers like myself than all previous presidents put together.” But Matt Stoller — a one time staffer for Representative Alan Grayson — caustically summarized the inherent contradiction: “Daniel Ellsberg argues for both the impeachment of and reelection of Barack Obama.”

My point here won’t be to review Stoller’s arguments — developed more fully a few days later in “The Progressive Case Against Obama” — though I think they’re well worth considering, and though I think replies have generally been of the familiar, bullying, spluttering “policing the left” quality I saw in responses to Conor Friedersdorf’s foreign policy/human rights Obama critique in September.

Instead, I want to take up Ellsberg’s arguments during the roundtable — because they went quite a bit beyond merely urging “tactical” voting by progressive voters in swing states.  Ellsberg *:

The two women who are running for the Green Party […] as I said, I’ll probably vote for her or for Rocky Anderson […]  On the other hand, I do object to the idea that he and Jill Stein and [Cheri Honkala] do, will, by their way of running, in the swing states, whether you regard them as 3 or 4 or as many as 12 or 13 […] are running in those and peeling off a net balance of Democratic voters.  They are increasing the chance of Roe v. Wade will be eliminated.  I think that is not a position that a progressive of any kind should be in, let alone a feminist one. I’m actually amazed, I think they’re acting very counterproductively for their own cause overall.  […]

Among progressives, there shouldn’t be disagreement on Roe v. Wade.  And I’m afraid that Stein is acting, by running not only in the 35 to 40 states where she would not be increasing the chance of Roe v. Wade being overturned, she’s also running in the states where she *is* helping Roe v. Wade be overturned.

So not only are voters counterproductive for contemplating a Stein vote in a swing state, Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala are bad for running in one.  Not only that, Ellsberg had earlier asserted that “urging other people, getting a leverage, [having] an influence on a large number or a small number” — i.e., Joe Birkenstock with his lawn sign — was similarly wrong.

Of course, advising against third party campaigns or advocacy when they allegedly increase the chances of an undesirable outcome (i.e., Romney in 2012, or Bush in 2000) is the logical consequence of advising against third party votes in such situations.  But it’s also an illustration of what’s wrong with Ellsberg’s position — at least if you value the actual exercise of free speech, freedom of association, or a vigorous contest of ideas in our country, as opposed to merely genuflecting in the general direction of those values.  Ellsberg would have a Stein or a Nader short-circuit their own campaigns and abandon their own supporters in states whenever it might benefit the worst alternative to their victory.  Since by Ellsberg’s logic that’s roughly “always,” third party campaigns are doomed to “Groundhog Day” like re-enactments of these arguments every four years, for ever and ever, amen.

Worse, I think, it’s not clear when that ought to begin, or where that logic ends.  It was relatively clear that Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, and North Carolina would be 2012 “swing states” — big enough to matter, close enough to be in doubt — ever since, oh, 2008, when they were exactly the same thing.  It was also relatively clear that Obama would face a tough re-election since at least 2010.  Taken to its logical conclusion, Ellsberg is saying Stein was wrong to even try to qualify for the ballot in those states.

So what did Manski have to say to all this?


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Pre-debate prep

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 3rd October 2012

“Heyyy wealthy ladies!”

“Sometimes I think that peace prize winners shouldn’t have a kill list”

“US political system is hostile to Americans.”
Wait, what? Oh. This one won’t be at the debate, but have a look…

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Selected “newsrack actblue” candidate updates

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 15th October 2010

Goal Thermometer

Lentz tied with Meehan, Sestak pulls ahead of Robbins, Grijalva race tightens, Grayson foes zero in with millions, Clements (Green) makes inroads among South Carolina Democrats.  SUPPORT “newsrack Dems” BY CLICKING ON THE THERMOMETER TO THE RIGHT! CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE TOM CLEMENTS CAMPAIGN!

  • Polls show a tight race between Meehan and Lentz (Bender, Philadelphia Daily News; October 14)

    The 7th Congressional District race between Republican Pat Meehan and Democrat Bryan Lentz had been a question mark on the map of competitive U.S. House races, mainly because of the lack of independent polling in the Delaware County-based district. Suddenly, we’re waist-deep in polls, including today’s Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College poll showing Lentz trailing Meehan by only a few percentage points among likely voters with the midterm elections less than three weeks away. And a poll released yesterday by The Hill, a congressional newspaper, put Meehan one point ahead of Lentz, 40 percent to 39 percent. Those two surveys, combined with last week’s Monmouth University Poll that had Meehan ahead of Lentz, 49 percent to 45 percent, show that Lentz has a chance of withstanding the national Republican “wave” that could give the GOP control of the House. In all three polls, Meehan’s edge is within the margin of error.

  • Two Internal Polls Show PA Senate Tightening (Fitzgerald,; October 13)

    Democrat Joe Sestak has clawed his way into a statistical tie with Republican Pat Toomey in the Pennsylvania Senate race, according to two new internal Democratic polls. Toomey was leading Sestak 46 percent to 45 percent among likely voters in a poll conducted for Sestak’s campaign by David Petts, of the Washington firm Bennett, Petts and Normington, and obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The survey of 800 likely voters was conducted Oct. 4-6, and results were subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Also, a poll conducted for the Democratic Senatatorial Campaign Committee by Garin-Hart-Yang over the last week showed Sestak leading Toomey 44 percent to 42 percent. When “leaners” were pushed to make a choice, Sestak went up 47 percent to 44 percent. The poll was based on 606 likely voters.

  • Vote 2010: poll points to close race for Grijalva seat (; October 12)

    We are less than a month away from the November 2 election and a new poll shows Congressman Raul Grijalva’s race might be closer than many thought. The website cites a Colorado poll showing republican Ruth McClung within two ponts of Grijalva. Today Sarah Palin announced her support of McClung.

  • My Vote Is Not For Sale (Alan Grayson, The Hill’s Congress Blog; October 11)

    “Conservative outside groups” have now spent more than $9 million “slamming vulnerable House Democrats,” and (B) the total against me will reach “at least $1.7 million by the end of next week.”

    Think about that. I am only one member of the U.S. House of Representatives, out of 435. I represent one-quarter of one percent of America. And yet roughly TWENTY PERCENT of spending in the entire country by these shadowy right-wing groups has been spent to defeat…me. I feel so proud!

    I must be doing something right.

  • Clements has passed Greene (John O’Connor, The State; October 13).

    U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint is poised to cruise to re-election, as 58 percent of poll respondents favor DeMint. But Green Party candidate Tom Clements of Columbia is preferred by 12 percent of voters, while Democratic Party nominee Alvin Greene is preferred by 11 percent of voters. Clements leads Greene among Democrats 30 percent to 22 percent. Greene, the surprise winner of the Democratic nomination, has not actively campaigned.


  • Democrats Step Out for Clements — Quietly (Corey Hutchins, Columbia Free Times; October 13-19)

    Just recently, former Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges and ex-South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian were listed as hosts for a local meet-and-greet on behalf of Clements.

    Hodges declined to say who he’s supporting in the U.S. Senate race. He says his energy is focused on the governor’s race and other statewide bids.

    “I’m interested in hearing what he has to say,” Hodges tells Free Times about how he ended up as a host for the Clements event. “I think it’s safe to say that I’m very unhappy with the Democratic and Republican candidates for U.S. Senate. I think the country’s got some serious problems to deal with, and I’m not confident that either the Democratic or Republican candidate is the right person to do the job.


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Candidates I support in 2010

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 22nd September 2010

Goal Thermometer

Below are some of the candidates I support in the 2010 election season.  I nominated some on my own, others have been suggested by friends of mine around the country.

Each of the candidates is progressive in his or her politics, and all are facing tough elections. They’ve done the right thing, and we need to have their back now.  You can contribute to most of them by clicking the green “Contribute button” to the right.  Tom Clements is the exception; ActBlue doesn’t help Green candidates with fundraising, which seems a shame to me.

I’ve set what I hope is a feasible goal — $500.  It’s up to you — give them all a little, give one a lot. But give something — and give a little more than you planned to — so they can keep up the good fight.  Thanks! (PS: And don’t forget to include a tip for our friends at ActBlue!)

The list so far: Russ Feingold, Mary Jo Kilroy, Alan Grayson, Tarryl Clark, Patrick Murphy, Raul Grijalva, Joe Sestak (Democrats) and Tom Clements (Green).  More on each below.

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Shades of green

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 9th November 2001

Der Spiegel: Greens voters would support approval of the proposed Bundeswehr deployment, the chief of the Forsa Opinion Institute told the Cologne newspaper “Express,” if it was a choice between that and remaining in the coalition.

The Greens have the problem that their voters are split. On one side are the “value greens” — pacifists who haven’t changed their minds for the last 20 years. On the other side are those who, in the context of their social mobility, are more ready to compromise — for example, lawyers, doctors, teachers. This clientele is ready to support the deployment, according to [Forsa Opinion Institute chief] Güllner.

Nevertheless, it appears likely Schroeder and Fischer will not have a majority of their own party supporting them in the looming Bundestag vote (Die Welt, 11/9/01: Chancellor concedes own majority is lost). Green Party leader Roth, apparently channeling Mullah Omar, is demanding a Ramadan ceasefire, which both Socialist Chancellor Schroeder and Green Foreign Minister Fischer oppose.

Shades of red, too

The leader of the influential “Juso” (Young Socialist) wing of the Socialists, Niels Annen, warns that many could leave the party if the SPD strays too far from its identity as a peace party. In one interesting piece of analysis, Annen opines:

The chancellor smartly went to the Americans after 9/11, to prevent America from going it alone with retaliation.* I have to admire him for that. Now he must prevent this war from escalating further.

Notes to Niels:

* to all intents and purposes, the U.S. has gone it alone with retaliation.

* there’s not a thing in the world Schroeder could have done about it: both Bush and the American people, I think, feel like “all aboard who’s coming aboard, but this train is leaving the station one way or the other.”

* Schroeder’s own “uneingeschraenkt” (unconditional/without reservation) support suggest you doesn’t really know Schroeder.

* you’ll grow up one day, Niels; Schroeder was a Juso once, too (see photo accompanying the interview).

Another telling photo, to my mind, on the web page with the Annen interview, shows a peace demonstration sign that reads “our GRIEF is NOT a cry for WAR”, with “GRIEF NOT WAR” dominating the sign. Yeah, that’ll help. Cry me a river.

Why do I keep focusing on Germany, and on the Greens? I have family in Germany, and as a former Freeze activist, I really respect many of the German Greens (and Socialist SPD members) for attempting to reconcile progressive and sometimes utopian ideals with the real world of winning votes and working with other parties. Unlike a lot of progressives, they’re trying to actually get something done instead of always just engaging in empty theatrical gestures. I think they could help make a legitimate case for a moderating German influence on Western politics and US politics — someday. First, though, you have to ante up when the cause is just, and I think Schroeder and Fischer realize this. I think Joschka Fischer is, checkered past notwithstanding, one of the most interesting figures in modern politics, a kind of realist-idealist in the Orwell mode; maybe wishful thinking, but that’s what politics is half the time. So I’m crossing my fingers that he and Schroeder can muster a majority in their own party, not just the Bundestag as a whole (the CDU, CSU, and FDP are likely to approve deployment by wide margins).

What’s kind of amazing is that very, very few** of the 3900 troops are going to come anywhere near Afghanistan itself, let alone near shots fired in anger. With the exception of the couple of hundred BKA special operations troops and possibly the “Fuchs” reconnaissance tank platoons, German soldiers will mainly be engaged in logistics, field hospitals, sailing ships at sea and other indirect support work. Still, it could be a slippery slope towards actually shooting at mass murderers, so let the debate rage on.


* im Alleingang: “alone-going”, also “solo”. Doubtless meant to conjure “unilateral.”

** (AP, Tony Czuczka) Schroeder: Show NATO solidarity: “Schroeder is seeking authority for an initial one-year deployment, though he says there are no plans to send ground troops to Afghanistan or take part in airstrikes.”

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