/* */

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Confronting Collapse

Book Review: Confronting Collapse by Michael C. Ruppert

“When the energy information bubble bursts and the truth is finally known, it may be too late for our entire species to do anything about it. That will be the ‘bubble’ that kills all of us. This book hopes to prevent that outcome.”

I take the author seriously. If you think I’m crazy, this book will help you make the transition from denial to acceptance.

I have reviewed some important books on this blog, but you can put them on hold. This book is more urgent than The Web of Debt, Christ in Egypt, or Crashing the Party. It is along the lines of The Party’s Over, which I reviewed in 2003, but is more specific to the present moment.

Oil is running out fast, and as the author shows, alternatives are either not realistic or ready. I wrote in 2003 that we can expect the price of just about everything to increase steadily and indefinitely. In 2010 this may be relative to income as unemployment persists.

As someone who is already convinced, I was curious how much of the book would focus on solutions instead of problems. And as someone who has already attempted to raise awareness through electoral politics, I was ready more for advice on how to survive the crisis as an individual, rather than how to persuade voters and politicians to do something. While most of the book is devoted to getting people up-to-speed on the problem, at the end Ruppert includes “An Emergency 25-Point Plan for Action.” And while all the points deal with public policy, the book did include a few instances of survival advice. As Ruppert writes at the end of the first chapter, “There are, in this book, many recommendations that can be taken by individuals, families, and communities without relying on government. A thorough reading of what follows will make that clear and hopefully disclose other steps I have not considered to the discerning reader.”

In the chapter on localization he writes, “There is no hope for any of us outside of a community. We must learn to work with our neighbors in developing sustainable lifestyles based upon reduced consumption and sharing of resources. This is difficult for Americans brought up on rugged individualism and competition and who have been taught to measure success in terms of consumer goods possessed and energy expended.” He goes on to praise Willits Economic Localization at http://well95490.org/.

The chapter on food contains links on permaculture, which is “an organic process intended to preserve soil fertility in perpetuity”:

Some of the resources look promising and I hope to explore these sites further. Already I have posted to Ruppert’s blog, http://www.mikeruppert.blogspot.com/, and received recommendations from other readers on what seeds to buy for a garden plot I am renting this summer. The blog has a link to the book and here’s a link to the corresponding film documentary: http://www.collapsemovie.com/. When Ruppert was in town for Q & A after the movie, I asked him where I should build an earth home, and he said the energy savings sounded good, but what I need, even more than a plan, are options, because the future is so uncertain.

Back to the book, after sparring at length with my friend Steve over nuclear power, I found this passage interesting: “There is not enough uranium to build enough reactors to meet energy demand globally.” (Source: “WMC Ideally Placed to Deal with Increased Uranium Demand”, http://www.azom.com/news.asp?newsID=2410)

And I found this passage particularly interesting, given my recent interest in police issues at the local level: “I was a rookie police officer living in Los Angeles when the 73 ‘Arab Embargo’ hit. The rationing that followed, along with economic impacts that lasted for a decade, were devastating. In the Los Angeles Police Department we were ordered to park our cars and sit in them for hours at a time to stretch fuel stocks. Crime soared. The bad guys knew we couldn’t/wouldn’t respond to maybe 50% of the calls. Gasoline thefts were occurring everywhere, ironically because the thieves knew we didn’t have enough gas to arrest them.”

I’m afraid that the recent threats, slurs, vandalism and violence over the new health care law by the “Tea Klux Klan” might be just a small foretaste of the social unrest we may face as a result of Peak Oil. Let’s hope we can find ways to mitigate or avert such an awful future.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Reappoint Dave Bicking to CRA


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I hereby resign from the DFL

On Sunday I participated in my SD44 DFL convention, seeing for myself once again that the Democratic Party is where progressive politics goes to die.

This year I caucused DFL as explained on my blog Feb. 2. At the time, the Greens did not have a strong candidate for Governor. After hearing all the callers to radio shows, disappointed with Obama, I thought it might be a good time to check back in with the Dems to see how they were coming along.

As an uncommitted delegate to my senate district, I was courted by the gubernatorial campaigns, getting phone calls in the days leading up to the convention, and at the convention I had a chance to speak with four of the candidates in person. I knew that the front-runners for governor were Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and State House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who at nine syllables, I am shortening to MAK. I already knew Rybak was bad, as documented extensively on this blog, but I wanted to confirm MAK’s position on the Twins stadium tax.

There were plenty of workers for the various campaigns, wearing the T-shirts of their respective candidates. I asked a young woman working for MAK about the stadium tax, and she said MAK was against it. This didn’t sound right, so I called Farheen Hakeem, who told me she personally protested outside MAK’s house in 2006, and that MAK opposed putting the stadium tax to a vote of the people in Hennepin County. Later in the day, I spoke with MAK, and asked her about it. She said it was because she was opposed to referendums in general. Well, I happened to know that a referendum was legally required by statute for this type of expenditure, because the people felt it was that important, and so I found MAK’s answer unacceptable.

When I spoke with John Marty about stadium taxes, he said he was the only candidate who is answering with a definite “No.” The other candidates are saying, “Not this year.”

Inside the auditorium, there were plenty of empty seats in the section assigned to my precinct. I selected a seat along the aisle, and filled out a ballot with 72 platform resolutions as I listened to and watched the proceedings, which at the outset were largely procedural, along with speeches from officials and candidates. After MAK spoke, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, in the aisle to my right, got down to my level and urged me to vote for Matt Entenza. I said I was concerned about Entenza’s wife’s ties to UnitedHealthcare. Ellison said she doesn’t work there anymore. I knew she worked for an environmental company now so I asked about Entenza’s position on cap and trade. Ellison didn’t know but he said Entenza supports green energy.

Later in the day, Rybak also greeted me from the aisle, shaking hands and saying, “I don’t think we’ve met.” I said I was Tom Cleland and had taken issue with him about police brutality on my blog. He said, “Sure,” and stepped back, which is what I would have done. Continuing the discussion could have caused a scene. For the record, while I have a much lower profile and don’t expect him to remember me, we have met in the past. In 2001 when he was first running for mayor, I met him and his wife, I think at a house party or fundraiser, not sure if I introduced myself by name. In 2003, when a coworker and I were canvassing for Greenpeace on Nicollet Mall, I recognized him walking with his bicycle and said hi. And in 2009, in the coat check line for the Blue State Ball, I said I was with the Green Party, and he said we need to do all we can to get Cam Gordon re-elected. (I didn’t have a problem with Rybak endorsing Gordon, just the other way around.) I also attended his first inaugural ball, though I don’t think I spoke with him that night. So I suppose my opposition to Rybak has built up gradually over the years.

The other candidate I spoke with Sunday was Paul Thissen. While he said that he supported the referendum, he did vote for the stadium tax. Later, during the walking subcaucus process, I told one of his runners that’s all I need to know.

They only allotted four hours for the convention, and ended up running over. I volunteered for the Rules Committee and probably should have pushed for more time, but I got busy and only attended one committee meeting. If I had to do it over again I would have at least asked to modify the agenda.

They allotted a half-hour for debating resolutions, which was fine by me. But some delegates thought that was too much time, so they introduced a floor motion to skip it, which failed. It would have taken less time if they had simply left it as is. So they debated resolutions, and the high point for me was when a woman criticized Obama on nuclear power. I was also pleased they had a resolution on divestment from Israel, though two people spoke against it and I didn’t hear anyone in favor.

Finally, they got to the most interesting order of business, item 16 of 23, the election of state delegates and alternates. These people will choose the next DFL-endorsed candidate for governor. The DFL typically uses the walking subcaucus method, where people form groups based on combinations of candidates or issues to try to get like-minded people to represent them at the state convention. I believe it was something like 231 SD44 delegates electing 21 state delegates, requiring 11 local delegates to send 1 delegate to state.

On the overhead screen they displayed the procedure text, which said that people would step up to the microphones for a first round to simply announce the name of their subcaucus, and then for a second round to take 30 seconds to describe their subcaucus. This is as I had recalled it from years past. So I waited my turn, and announced the name of my subcaucus, “Uncommitted Ten Key Values.” There was no applause, perhaps because they don’t believe in them, but probably because they don’t know what they are. I then flashed a peace sign, which I think got a little more reaction. So everybody took turns announcing the subcaucus names, but they were running out of time so they passed a floor motion to skip the caucus descriptions! (This is not what I’ve been used to. In the Green Party, we have candidate speeches, then the members ask questions of each candidate, and then the members comment.) If I had been allowed to speak for 60 seconds, I would have said from memory what I had rehearsed:

“Hi, I’m Tom Cleland, and this subcaucus is Uncommitted Ten Key Values. The Key Values are Democracy, Ecology, Peace, Justice, Feminism, Diversity, Decentralization, Community-Based Economics, Global Responsibility, and Future Focus. These are borrowed from the Green Party. I was with the Green Party for ten years. As you may know, Greens can sometimes tip the balance. If they had run a candidate for U.S. Senate, Al Franken would not be elected today. I can say that Marty might be acceptable to Greens, but Greens are afraid that Marty might endorse Rybak, who is bad on police brutality, or Anderson Kelliher, who opposed putting the stadium tax to a vote of the people. We can all learn a lot from progressive point person Dave Bicking, I’m wearing his T-shirt. Let’s go, Uncommitted Ten Key Values!”

So we began our first walking process, I held up a sign listing the 10KV, and sadly, no one joined my subcaucus. However, I did have a chance to shout parts of my message to anyone within earshot in the noisy auditorium. A number of runners, both committed and uncommitted to candidates, asked me to join their groups. I said only if I could be the delegate (to state) and of course there was no deal. I also shared some of my talking points with them.

I waited until the second and final walking process, before ceremoniously walking over and joining the Marty subcaucus, led by Lena Katharine Gardner, who recruited me, and who spoke on behalf of Steve Kelley at my precinct caucus, before he dropped out. In the Marty subcaucus, I was pleased to see a couple other familiar faces, Jordan Kushner, also of my precinct, and Diane Steen-Hinderlie’s husband John. Diane is a fellow Green. We were able to get two delegates to state. My understanding is that usually the subcaucuses are supposed to each hold elections within their groups to determine the actual people who will go to state, and allow for some vetting to take place. But to make sure we would get the two delegates, Lena had to cut some deals, giving a delegate to the Tom Rukavina subcaucus, and an alternate to the “No Corporate Personhood” subcaucus. Between that and gender balance, with only two women expressing interest in traveling to state, people scattered and there was no vote. Instead, there was a tense discussion with the Rukavina people over what the deal was. A Rybak worker was standing nearby eavesdropping, so I took the opportunity to tell him about the police brutality videos on this blog. So here’s our delegation, I just hope everybody honors their agreement to vote for Marty by the second ballot at state:

Female delegate: Lena Katharine Gardner
Male delegate: Brian Rice (Rukavina)
Female alternate: Cathy Murphy
Male alternate: Noam Freshman (No Corporate Personhood)

I had some nice visits with members of the delegation. I got to talking with Noam, and said that what I’m looking for in a delegate is a willingness to walk out of the DFL convention. He asked why and I basically said to join the Green Party. He then brought out the old argument about Florida 2000 and I mentioned Lieberman and asked if he was asking us to ignore the issues. He said no and had to go register but I wish we could have kept talking. It may sound arrogant on my part, but I feel he was asking us to ignore the issues and vote a certain way because more people are less informed. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who think like Noam, and so we are stuck, and I’m afraid we will remain stuck until we face a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. I feel like I need to study survivalism or something.

The SD44 delegate count was:

Rybak 8
Anderson Kelliher 5
Marty 2
Thissen 1
Uncommitted 5

Before I left I told DFL superdelegate Eric Margolis that I was going to reactivate my Green Party membership. He asked why and I said I was appalled that Rybak got 8 delegates. He said I inadvertently helped them get another delegate by triggering the second walking phase. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just one more reason to quit the DFL. I know that Lena cut that second deal with the personhood people during the second phase. Not sure how we would have done if we had relied on rounding after Phase One.

On the way out, I saw more Rybak workers and told them about the brutality videos on my blog. I wish someone would make a TV commercial out of them.

DFL rules state that to caucus with them, you cannot be an active member of another political party. So I was an inactive member of the Green Party. I did not caucus Green, and I did not post to the GP listservs. I was very critical of the 5CD Green Party in January when many of the members would not sign a pledge to vote against Obama in 2012. Since then, however, there have been some positive developments, including a 5CDGP press release opposing the reappointment of MPD Chief Dolan, and Green Council Member Cam Gordon voting against Dolan March 3 and March 12. While I now wish to reactivate my membership in the 5CD Green Party, I may identify more closely as a friend of the newly-formed SD61 Green Party, which has a higher proportion who have signed the pledge.

My choice for governor? I want to take a closer look at Richard Klatte. If the Greens don’t endorse him, I might write in Al Flowers or Ken Pentel. Or John Marty, but only if he does not endorse the DFL nominee.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Whip Congress for a public option

I don’t normally do action alerts, but this one might have a chance:

And of course single payer is even better than a public option:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Great Escape

This is from the YouTube video "Minneapolis Mayor's Aide Sticks His Neck Out" -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZkc68JhB0k. Along the very top of the frame, right of center, is Sherman Patterson, aide to Mayor Rybak, leading Johnny Northside to the council office door, further left. I am in the front row, just beyond the public's microphone, obscured by the lettering. If I had known sheriff's deputies were waiting in the lobby, and if I had stood up and turned to the right one second sooner, I might have noticed the Great Escape.

In the Facebook version, I tagged it with the names of some of those present, including Michael Cavlan, Dave Bicking, and members of the council, though many of us are obscured: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30919748&l=bb59cfbd38&id=1499503332.

Testifying at the Dolan hearing

Testifying at the Dolan hearing Mar. 3, 2010. This is from the YouTube video "Minneapolis Mayor's Aide Sticks His Neck Out" -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZkc68JhB0k. Behind me is Johnny Northside, preparing for his "Great Escape" after speaking with Sherman Patterson, aide to Mayor Rybak. Northside is walking behind me at the exact moment I say the line I am quoted by Minnesota Public Radio: "Dolan gave the Medal of Valor to the cop who shot Fong Lee."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Five votes against Dolan

Dolan was reappointed 8-5 today. Voting against were Gordon, Lilligren, Glidden, Tuthill, and Hodges. We campaigned against Glidden and Lilligren last year, but if they can take an issue away, that’s always preferred. The five votes is four more than last time, and if things don’t improve, maybe we’ll have four more votes next time, in 2013, which is also a council election year.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Brutality Videos

Nicholas Kastner, 12/12/2008
Roseville man says Minneapolis police beat him during his arrest
A Roseville man who spent three weeks in jail for his role in parking ramp burglaries is suing the city of Minneapolis.
Last update: September 4, 2009 - 9:56 AM

Derryl Jenkins, 2/19/2009
Tale of the tape in arrest
Police say the force they used was reasonable and that Derryl Jenkins resisted. Jenkins and his lawyer say a squad-car video shows brutality.
By ROCHELLE OLSON and DAVID CHANEN, Star Tribune staff writers
Last update: August 17, 2009 - 8:12 AM

Ira Stafford, 8/14/2009
Tasered during traffic stop, Minneapolis man asks why
A police video shows an altercation unfold in the August incident. Internal affairs is investigating.
By MATT McKINNEY, Star Tribune
Last update: March 8, 2010 - 11:16 PM

The Minneapolis City Council votes tomorrow on the reappointment of Chief Dolan. Please contact the council to oppose: kevin.reich@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; cam.gordon@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; diane.hofstede@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; barbara.johnson@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; don.samuels@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; robert.lilligren@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; lisa.goodman@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; elizabeth.glidden@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; gary.schiff@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; meg.tuthill@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; john.quincy@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; sandra.colvin.roy@ci.minneapolis.mn.us; betsy.hodges@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Green Party opposes Dolan reappointment

[This is encouraging... -- Tom]



Contacts: Kevin Chavis, Fifth Congressional District Chair, (612) 276-2543 Eric Gilbertson, Fifth Congressional District Spokesperson (612) 781-2991

Minneapolis, MN -- The Fifth Congressional District Green Party (5CDGP) urges the Minneapolis City Council to vote against the reappointment of Police Chief Dolan. We call on the Council to closely consider Chief Dolan's performance in light of the Safe City Resolution. Dolan's major deficiencies include his failure to follow through with recommendations of the Civilian Review Authority (CRA), his demonstrated lack of sensitivity in community relations, and his lack of fiscal responsibility.

The Safe City Resolution requires the Chief to work with the CRA to meet the goal of disciplining 100% of sustained CRA complaints. Kevin Chavis, 5CDGP Chairperson noted, "Dolan has not met this goal. In fact, the rate of discipline in CRA cases has been alarmingly low."

Failure to work with the CRA is only one indication of Chief Dolan's lack of respect for the community, including communities of color. A striking example of his lack of sensitivity is that he awarded medals to officers who raided the home of an innocent Hmong family and shot at them multiple times.

In discussing Dolan's fiscal irresponsibility, Chavis said, "in addition to his poor budget management, Dolan has cost the city millions of dollars in liability payments. This cost is a significant increase from the previous time period."

The residents of Minneapolis deserve a police chief who will uphold the standards set forth in the Safe City Resolution, show respect for the community, and work collaboratively with the CRA. These traits are consistent with the Green Party's Key Values of Social Justice and Respect for Diversity, which the 5CDGP strives to promote.

About the Fifth Congressional District Green Party: The purpose of the Minnesota Fifth Congressional District Green Party is to create and sustain a thriving local political party in affiliation with the Green Party of Minnesota based on the Ten Key Values of Ecological Wisdom, Social and Economic Justice, Grassroots Democracy, Nonviolence, Decentralization, Feminism, Community-Based Economics, Respect for Diversity, Personal & Global Responsibility, and Future Focus. Our goals are to engage in electoral politics and social action to promote these values and help create a more democratic, just and sustainable society where people live in harmony with the Earth and each other. Minnesota's fifth congressional district includes Columbia Heights, Crystal, Fort Snelling, Fridley, Golden Valley, Hilltop, Hopkins, Minneapolis, New Hope, Richfield, Robbinsdale, Spring Lake Park, St. Anthony, and St. Louis Park.

For more information, contact Kevin Chavis at KevinChavis@mngreens.org or 612-276-2543.


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Military tribunal could save KSM

This week the Obama administration announced a stunning reversal on the prospect of trying Khalid Shaikh Muhammad in a military tribunal instead of a civilian court. Obama’s base is furious and bewildered. Government officials might be afraid that if the trial is public, then KSM, in order to defend himself, might need to reveal classified information regarding 9/11. A military tribunal could keep things quiet, and it might even save KSM. This may sound incredibly far-fetched, but it would explain things perfectly. Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that KSM is on the U.S. payroll, and they have agreed to keep him alive. With a military tribunal, they can lose the case on purpose and let him go, or they can stage a mock execution and disguise him somewhere. I’m not saying that’s how it will play out, but if it does, you heard it here first!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Gordon votes against Dolan

I must say I was pleased that Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon voted against Police Chief Tim Dolan at the public hearing meeting today. While some may regard it as a “safe” vote, and we are not out of the woods yet, as it still needs to go before the full City Council, at least we have our Green Party CM on record leading the way toward Nonviolence and Diversity, two of the ten Key Values. While I am not currently an active member, I know this has been a source of tension in the Green Party. Today’s vote is a positive development. Gordon had a list of ten criteria, based on the last time Dolan was approved, of which I counted only five which had satisfactory progress. I was also impressed by CM Hodges’ thorough questioning of Dolan, and I was encouraged that CM’s Hodges and Tuthill abstained. CM’s Samuels, Johnson, and Hofstede voted in favor, so half the CM’s present did not vote in favor of Dolan.

The other major development of the day was that Civilian Review Authority (CRA) Chair Don Bellfield cancelled tonight’s meeting of the CRA, in violation of city law. (He should also be held in contempt of court for failing to appear at his Writ of Mandamus hearing last month.) So we held the meeting anyway, with a lot more citizen input. There were about 30 people there. The only CRA members who attended were Dave Bicking and Pam Franklin. CRA members can be kicked off the board for missing three meetings in a year. Four members for quorum, and open meeting requirements would have been necessary to hold an official meeting without Bellfield, so the city may also be complicit. If the meeting had taken place, Bicking would have introduced the same resolutions he did last month. One resolution would affirm that Bellfield is to notify the City Council Executive Committee that Dolan is subject to discipline. The other two resolutions would affirm that CRA member Bicking has the right to free speech as an individual not speaking on behalf of the CRA. Franklin would have voted in favor of those resolutions. It appears that Bellfield is running the clock out on Bicking, who is up for reappointment this month. Bellfield probably did not want to face a group of angry citizens. He was at the Dolan hearing in the afternoon, to share the CRA performance review of Dolan as agreed by the CRA, but his comments on “neutrality” sounded like a dig at Bicking.

In another bizarre development today, two sherriff’s deputies (or “process servers”) were waiting outside council chambers to serve Johnny Northside (Hoff), a vocal Dolan supporter, with legal papers, I assume having to do with his run-ins with ex-con sex offenders. Amazingly, he was able to elude the servers by exiting through the city council offices instead of the main chamber doors like the rest of us. Did he receive special treatment from the city? The city council sits on a raised bench or dais, with their own door that leads to their offices. If Northside walked around behind the seats of the CM’s, I would think that highly improper. As Guy Gambill pointed out on the Minneapolis Issues listserv, media interviews have always taken place in the hallway outside the chambers.

During the hearing, Northside held pro-Dolan signs behind the speakers so they would be seen on cable television, a tactic that has been used by our side in the past. He also had an obnoxious camera that sounded like a cell phone. The pro-Dolan people must have gotten there very early to sign up to speak, because I got there a half-hour early and was on the second page, and was only the second anti-Dolan speaker. I’d say nearly half the speakers were ours. To be fair, both sides pushed the envelope today. Our side kept defying Samuels’ order against applause. Most people kept their statements under two minutes, and if they didn’t the other side would call “time”. There was plenty said on both sides.

Here are my past posts on this issue…

Fire the Mineapolis Chief of Police