A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pete Stark is close ... but ...

We're "safe" with Pete Stark in congress, which is why I've been spending my energy trying to help Jerry McNerney. And Pete is a great guy. But there's one thing I wish he would come around on, and that is the issue of impeachment.

He recently forwarded a note from John Conyers, which he agreed with, stating that even if the Democrats take back Congress in November, they won't push for impeachment of Bush/Cheney because, well, we all know how much of a distraction that was when Clinton was impeached.

Excuse me? We have an executive branch run by the biggest crooks in history, and you're worried about impeachment being a waste? Clinton was impeached for political gain; of course it was a waste, and of course he was exonerated. Bush, Cheney, and Company would not be, if our congress would just stand up to them!

Pete Stark is having some town halls on August 12 and September 30 in Fremont, San Lorenzo, and Alameda. Sadly, I can't make either of them. Anybody interested in going to one of these and asking him to show a little spine on this issue?

My Next Big Political Event

Update: I have created an ActBlue page to help collect donations in advance of the big event, as well as a way for people who were invited (like YOU!) but who can't make it to donate too!

I was thinking about trying to put together an event that would be part of this weekend's Democratic Reunion but I decided that this would be too much work becuase I was planning on putting together an even bigger event. There is a sort of event in Alameda, and that is helping with voter registration and have "refreshments" at the corner of Park and Central during the Park Street Art and Wine Faire. RSVP for that event here..

Jerry McNerneyInstead, I am putting together a huge house party (in the back yard of my house in Alameda) to benefit Jerry McNerney, on the afternoon of Sunday, September 10. Jerry himself will be here in Alameda! I plan on inviting tons of people. Obviously my goal will be to raise awareness of his campaign to defeat Richard Pombo and raise some money for his campaign. I'll be inviting local friends and neighbors, members of the local democratic clubs, and so on. Any readers of this weblog who would like to come and who are not on my usual political email distribution list, drop me a line (send an email to "dwood" at the domain of "karelia.com") so I can send you the invitation and information.

This is going to be a blast!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Fourth of July Brings National Politics to the Alameda Journal

Thanks to a cranky conservative who was offended by the Impeach Bush-Cheney entry in this year's Fourth of July Parade, the pages of the Alameda Journal actually contain national issues! (The Journal is notorious about not wanting to touch national politics in its pages.)

I had written the letter (below) to respond to the gentleman who called for an apology from the Mayor for allowing an "illegal" entry into the parade last week, but it wasn't published right away. Fortunately, other letters were.

This week, a couple more letters chimed in to agree with the offended party. Of course, many more letters defending the free speech of the parade entry — including mine, finally — were published.

Last week, Bruce Elerick wrote the Journal to lament that his enjoyment of the Fourth of July parade was interrupted by a "hippie" display of dissent, specifically the ImpeachBush-Cheney.com entry. According to the author, this was inappropriate subject matter for the parade which, ironically, celebrates the anniversary of Americans up against tyranny and oppression.

This entry was certainly not a renegade participant. They and the other "political" groups such as Code Pink, Alameda Peace Network, Progressive Alameda, Networks of Spiritual Progressives, Alameda Democratic Club, and Alamedans for Climate Protection all entered legitimately, and none of them need apologize to anybody, any more than the participants of the Boston Tea Party owed apologies to King George III.

This is America, which, last time I checked, still has a Constitution with its First Amendment protecting Free Speech. We should consider the places and times where dissent was never expressed, such as Germany in the 1930's and the Soviet Union until the 1980's. Let's be grateful we live in a country where people can express dissent, even if we don't agree with it all.

One of the letter writers in today's paper was almost humorously pathetic in her leaps of logic.
Everyone is entitled to free speech in this country, and that, among other things, is exactly what our troops are fighting for in Iraq. Whether one supporst the war or not is the issue — what is the issue is whether or not we support our troops.

Hold everything! What exactly does an entry calling for the impeachment of our leaders have to do with whether we support our troops? For her, supporting our troops means supporting the war. For me and most of the people watching that parade, there was never a question of supporting the actual soldiers: we want to prevent them from going into harm's way in the first place, keep them adequately protected if they are, and take care of them when they come home.

She continues:
To have a parade entry such as that bus degrades the efforts of the brave young men and women putting their lives on the line every day so that we can keep our freedoms. Why have people forgotten so quickly the thousands of innocent people who were murdered mercilessly in the World Trade Towers on 9/11? Anyone who had any responsibility in allowing this disgraceful exhibit in our parade shoudl apologize to all those offended by it.

Wow, doesn't she see the contradiction here? And the whole apologizing thing is going to be tricky. How are the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington going to apologize to this poor woman and her friends? It's thanks to the founding fathers and the countless others who kept burning the torch of freedom, that we have the free speech we so cherish and that she so greatly despises in her own town.

Maybe it's time for me to write another letter to the editor.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Triple Crisis

I've tried to keep this blog focused on local issues, but it's hard to do so lately. My thoughts have been on the big picture, far bigger than just the bay area. After seeing An Inconvenient Truth, and having recently started a book Crossing the Rubycon about the American imperialism that is related to our having reached the peak in Earth's oil supplies, I've come to the realization that we are a now in a triple crisis..

The least of which is what I've been focused on lately: the erosion of our liberties and our democracy. Unless things can be done to bring the Democratic Party around to the progressive side sufficiently, to help voters connect the dots between their values and reality, and manage to get enough votes in 2006 and 2008 elections despite the obvious voter fraud, then I perceive that we are at the end of the USA as a democracy.

The second crisis, which I don't think people realize the impact of, is that we are running out of oil. Not literally, but world production has apparently peaked, meaning that it's going to get harder and harder to find oil. Those that want the oil will do anything to ensure that they are getting their oil, which means ... you guess it .... wars. But even more significant is that our entire lifestyle, especially in the West but increasingly around the rest of the world, is absolutely dependent on oil. Unless we get started now in seriously finding alternatives in lifestyles, reducing population growth and dependency on oil, and sheer waste, we are going to find ourselves in deep trouble.

And of course the third crisis is the end of human civilization as we know it; perhaps not the end of the human species, but global, catastrophic change. If you are reading this and you think this is overstating it, then go and see An Inconvenient Truth for The Great Maker's sake!

These are heavy thoughts. It's hard to keep from slipping into despair. I'd rather step into action, as much as I can.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Alameda becomes Atlantis

This weekend we saw the new movie, An Inconvenenient Truth.

I wish I could come up with a less ironic description than chilling. I can't recommend it strongly enough — not for its entertainment value, but for its importance. Even though I've known about Global Warming, it's astounding to see how bad it already is.

One animation that Gore showed is the impact that one or two likely scenarios will have on the San Francisco Bay Area. it was an animation showing what will happen when ice shelves currently on land melt and raise the sea levels. I couldn't find the same graphic he used, but I found a similar image that I've excerpted here:

alameda underwater
This shows Alameda completely underwater, as well as much of the lowlands of Oakland. Only the highlands of Oakland are still above water.

It really puts things into perspective, doesn't it? Your squabbles with your neighbors over what style of fence to build, whether or not to build a Megaplex theatre on Park Street, how to slow down traffic for pedestrian safety on Lincoln Avenue are meaningless if Alameda ceases to exist.

Go see this movie. (It's playing at the Piedmont in Oakland and California in Berkeley as of this writing.) It will change your perspective. If enough of us see the movie and enough are inspired to do something about it, maybe we have a chance. Let's not let Alameda become an Atlantis.