Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Transpartisan Upwising

At least these guys are trying. And I believe them to be sincere, and not just out to make a buck.

The Transpartisan Moment: Join the Upwising

It's time to face the elephant - and donkey - in the living room, and activate the uncommon wisdom of common folks to weave a web of mass-construction."
-- Swami Beyondananda

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

We are living in what Tom Paine would have called "soul-trying" times.

In the face of multiplying crises - economic, ecologic, political and spiritual - it's becoming more apparent that fundamental change is required. The good news is, what is needed isn't revolution, but evolution. The other news is, this evolutionary alternative must be clearly expressed, carefully developed, and made tangible to the millions and millions of Americans who see that something is profoundly wrong, but don't know what to do about it.

Many of us have spent time and resources over the years supporting causes we believe will create a better world. Until now, the vast majority of well-meaning organizations have either worked within the system, or worked around it. It is now time to confront the elephant - and the donkey - in the living room. The bipolar insanity of a fiercely divided body politic has largely paralyzed us in the face of huge problems, as we have devolved into an orgy of impotent blame and dogmatic positioning.

There is now a unique opportunity to seize the time, and take advantage of what we are playfully - yet seriously - calling "an evolutionary upwising." All across America and all across the political spectrum, people are waking up and wising up to recognize that neither political party truly represents them. And as people are awakening from the partisan trance, there is a growing Transpartisan movement, not to be confused with "bipartisanism."

Transpartisan and bipartisan are two different things. The corporatist elitist element at the "center" of both parties - Brad Blanton calls them "Dempublicrats" - are now scrambling to channel the discontent with partisanship into a "bipartisan" rule that will further narrow the scope of conversation and increasingly enforce top down rules "for our own good." Or, as conservative activist Grover Norquist puts it: "Bipartisan means the Democrats and Republicans getting together to screw the American people."

We the people of America - and indeed the world - are at a crossroads now. There is disheartenment in the heartland. In the past, a discontented populace would rise up to overthrow its government in a revolution. Today we are called upon to wise up and overgrow the corporate-state in an evolution. And there is very good news in this regard. Thanks to the work of pioneers like Tom Atlee and Jim Rough, and the very recent work done in Seattle through the Transpartisan Alliance, we now have the tools to use the existent polarities to activate the collective intelligence and wisdom in any community. In other words, We, the people, are finding that we have access to something "the system" lacks, wisdom.

For the past eight months, we have been convening a bi-weekly prototype Transpartisan meet-up in Seattle that began with 4 people and now has 71 from all "tribes." This meet-up has served as a focus group to refine a meeting format that will keep people from all political stripes engaged on a sustained basis (allowing the group to move, month by month, through stages of empowerment from problem identification to "choice creating"). Over the course of the months, we have expressed our differences loudly and clearly - on everything from guns to health care to the role of government - but inside the container of a mutual desire to have a happier, healthier community. In Native American circles, they say, "we just speak until there is nothing left but the obvious truth." And so it has been in our circle. After exhausting ideological positions, having expressed every emotion, and having soberly recognized that we all agree the current system is unworkable, one question emerged:

"So what? So what can we do about it?"

With this key question came the spark of evolution. Political "children" and "adolescents" (relying on "parental corporate-government" to take care of them, rebelling when it doesn't) began to evolve into political adults. Together we came to the same realization: "It's up to us."

We are at a pivotal moment now, at the beginning of a movement to reunite America - but not around worn out clichés masking the same old same old. We have the opportunity to reunite America around its true heart and soul - the "heart virtues" and values that the vast majority of us, regardless of political affiliation, agree on.

As an example of the kind of wisdom that can be generated using the energy of opposing polarities, here are some of the things that ordinary citizens - right, left and center - have agreed upon:

  • We don't support corporate or government structures that encourage predatory behavior
  • The democratic system is no longer representing us
  • We don't want taxation without equal, full representation
  • We agree that a local response is most empowering
  • We need to balance rights with responsibility to appeal to left and right
  • We all want to build a sense of neighborhood, tribe
  • We all have common needs: love, autonomy, fairness, safety, basic services

During the next two years these conversations will extend to every part of the country in the form of Chautauquas - a revival of the famous 19th Century community meetings of citizen policy makers - where people step away from the TV and internet, and come together on the "outernet." In coming face to face with one another outside of the bipolar, bipartisan divide-and-conquer game, the long lost moral authority of "we the people" will come to the fore. This is the only thing that can counterbalance the weight of money, and the power of money that seems to make all the decisions in this society.

The first prototype Transpartisan Chautauqua will take place in Seattle on Dec. 4. It is co-hosted by three political parties and groups as diverse at Campaign for Liberty and Transition Seattle. We are also planning another in the series of Reuniting America transpartisan national leadership retreats (eight between 2004 and 2007...see alumnae.) The purpose this next retreat, planned for May 2011, is to engage leaders of national networks in seeking practical, safe, creative ways to engage their local members in self-organized meet-ups and Chautauquas in search of bottom up solutions (i.e. citizen created policy options that become attractive to officials because 80% plus can say "Yes!" to them.)

We are also in the process of writing a series of e-books (that will become print books) that will serve as a manifesto to move the "up-wising" forward. Reuniting America: A Call to Evolution is designed to weave together the narratives of both left and right to enable us to come front and center to "face the music and dance together." Addressing the questions, "what's so, so what and now what," this book offers the practical experience and toolkit for transpartisan organizing. A second book, Heartland Security: From Ideal to Real Deal, is a practical guide intended to inspire deeper cross-pollinization and weaving of the various green/progressive and libertarian/conservative economic re-localization efforts.

We are asking you to financially support this movement at a moment when it can make all the difference in the world. Will our children and their children grow up in a world that is healthier and more free than the one we have now? What happens in the next two or three years may very well determine whether civilization evolves to greater heart intelligence and wisdom, or whether we dissolve into neo-feudalism. If you are in a position to make a tax deductible year end gift it will fuel our writing and organizing efforts (please make checks payable to our 501c3 fiscal sponsor, Empowerment Works, Memo: Transpartisan Upwising, 1801 Lincoln Blvd., #138, Venice, CA 90291.) Alternatively, Chip-in whatever amount works for you via PayPal. NOTE: All contributors will receive a free download of our first e-book when published in early 2011.

In supporting this endeavor to bring awakening, awareness, courage and functionality to our body politic, you are playing a significant role in the history of our species and civilization. We hope you will join the "upwising!"

With faith in us all,

Joseph McCormick and Steve Bhaerman
The Transpartisan Upwising

Magic of the Market

Unemployment madness

From Political Animal...

IT'S REALLY NOT THAT COMPLICATED.... At midnight, 2.5 million unemployed Americans will lose their benefits -- the first time in generations that jobless aid has expired with the unemployment rate this high. Democrats in Congress and the White House support an extension, but don't have the votes to pass one.

And as awful as this is for the struggling families who rely on these benefits, the expiration of the aid undermines the larger economy at the same time. On MSNBC this morning, Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) captured Republican confusion on this, in response to questions from Mike Barnicle.

BARNICLE: What about the fact that unemployment benefits pumped into the economy are an immediate benefit to the economy? Immediate...
SHADEGG: No, they're not! Unemployed people hire people? Really? I didn't know that.
BARNICLE: Unemployed people spend money Congressman, 'cause they have no money.
SHADEGG: Aha! So your answer is it's the spending of money that drives the economy and I don't think that's right. It's the creation of jobs that drives the economy.... Job creators create jobs.

Watching the video of the exchange, I'm inclined to believe Shadegg actually believed what he was saying. With that in mind, I have no interest in questioning his sincerity.

It's his intelligence I have a problem with. This really isn't complicated -- when the unemployed get a check, they spend it. When it comes to getting a strong bang for the buck, jobless benefits have proven to be one of the best economic stimuli in policymakers' tool-belt.

Shadegg believes job creation boosts the economy, but there's a little detail he's struggling with: businesses need customers. When 2.5 million people stop spending, businesses lose customers, which in turn makes them less likely to hire employees.

The data on this is incontrovertible. If Republicans want what's best for the economy, why can't they think this through?

Also note the larger, Dickensian context -- Republicans are fighting tooth and nail for $700 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the country, but they're poised to kill extended unemployment benefits for those struggling to find work in a weak economy, at a fraction of the cost.

Raising taxes on the rich under these circumstances is considered madness. Leaving jobless Americans with no benefits and no buying power under these circumstances is considered responsible.

This isn't a surprise, of course. Republicans have repeatedly argued throughout the recession that those struggling to find work in the midst of a jobs crisis are lazy and quite possibly drug addicts. Of course they're prepared to screw over the people most in need of assistance; they just don't like the unemployed.

But as the recovery continues to struggle, Republican opposition to jobless aid only guarantees more struggling, weaker economic activity, and more poverty. It's an easily-preventable disaster, which GOP officials in Congress are willing to just watch unfold.


But, somehow, the Democrats are going to get blamed for failing to help the unemployed. You watch. Could it be that ALL Republicans are as hard-hearted as the Republicans in Congress?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Peak Oil fallacy

No doubt you have probably heard about our "Peak Oil" dilemma. "We are quickly running out of oil," they chant, almost in unison. "We have passed the height of oil production, and supplies are now dwindling and the price is going to skyrocket!" they warn.

As is often the case, if everyone is on the same page, you should be wary. I can smell a heavy dose of bullshit in the air.

While it is true that we have apparently discovered and exploited most of the "light, sweet crude" (as if oil is ever 'sweet'), there are decades, perhaps hundreds of years, of supply of heavy oil and/or unconventional oils available. They will, in fact, be a bit harder and more expensive to extract and refine, but it is entirely doable.

Peak Oil proponents claim that the current high price of oil is due to their Peak Oil hypothesis. After all, "supply goes down, price goes up," is the old saw. Yeah, well, that is usually true, but the supply is NOT down. The price IS up, but that is largely because the majors are INTENTIONALLY RESTRICTING SUPPLY. How convenient for the oil majors. The culture at large believes the price is so high because of Peal Oil and diminishing supply. How convenient, indeed.

Why did we go into Iraq? To grab their oil? Or to RESTRICT the production to keep the price high? You may recall that Saddam was talking about flooding the world with his cheap oil. Can't have that.

Venezuela, Canada, Russia and some smaller countries have as much heavy oil as the entire world needs to keep the pipes flowing for years and years to come. Venezuela poses a problem, however, with Hugo Chavez in power. We've already tried to depose him once. Probably more than once. He actually wants to profit from his own oil. Imagine the gall! This is why the U.S. has been trying to kill him.

I point you to the link here. There are many others, but this one is about as good as any. You could also look into Greg Palast's website here, but again, there are others.

We have been bamboozled and lied to for so long that we regard bullshit as fact.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Oil is all gone?

Gone to where, exactly? The U.S. news media sucks so bad. We have to get this from al Jazeera?

American Time Capsule

This video montage premiered on the Smother Brothers Comedy Hour back in 1968. This was the second airing of the video. The first time it aired, there was a question mark at the very end. This time ... well, see for yourself.

Friday, November 26, 2010

American Conspiracies

Just finished reading Jesse Ventura's latest book, American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies that the Government Tells Us.

Ventura makes compelling cases for orchestrated conspiracies such as the assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK and RFK; the October Surprise re the Iranian hostages; stolen elections of 2000 & 2004; 9/11; the Wall Street "collapse"; and the "Secret Plans to End American Democracy."

effectively dredges up all the sordid details that we absent-mindedly forget or consciously choose to overlook. We may be in charge of our individual destinies, but "we the people" are certainly not in charge of our country or government.

If the Tea Partiers were not surreptitious captives of our corporate puppet masters, they could be useful.

If you want to get pissed off after having been pissed on for so long, read this book.
And I wonder, where have all the statesmen gone?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Opt-Out Day

Man, I'm glad we're not flying on Wednesday, Nov 24. For one thing, it's probably the heaviest travel day of the year, and I hate that already. And two, a whole lot of people are going to participate in this National Opt-Out Day, from what I understand, and it's going to make the jam pretty thick. So, this is how Americans protest and protect their rights?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 is:


It's the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government's desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an "enhanced pat down" that touches people's breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner. You should never have to explain to your children, "Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it's a government employee, then it's OK."

The goal of National Opt Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change. We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we're guilty until proven innocent. This day is needed because many people do not understand what they consent to when choosing to fly.

The bottom line is that flyers are in a no-win situation: both the naked body scanners and the enhanced pat downs are grossly violative of our privacy rights and dignity, both make you feel like a criminal. At least when you choose a pat down you can look the at the government official eyeball-to-eyeball when you're getting touched, and there are not lingering questions about safety and just what is happening in that back room. Is there really no better way to provide aviation security than an inappropriate touching or a naked body scan?

Here are the details:


You, your family and friends traveling by air on Wednesday, November 24, 2010. Remember too, as the TSA says, "Everyday is opt-out day." That is, you can opt out any time you fly.


National Opt-Out Day. You have the right to opt-out of the naked body scanner machines (AIT, or Advance Imaging Technology, as the government calls it). All you have to do is say "I opt out" when they tell you to go through one of the machines. You will then be given an "enhanced" pat down. This is a right given to you by the TSA. There is no intent or desire to delay passengers en route to friends and family over Thanksgiving. People also need to remember to stay within the confines of the law and the regulations of TSA when exercising their right to a pat down.


At an airport near you!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010. Families should sit around the dinner table, eating turkey, talking about their experience - what constitutes an unreasonable search, how forceful of a pat down will we allow on certain areas of our body, and that of our children, and how much privacy are we will to give up for flying?


The government should not have the ability to virtually strip search anyone it wants without cause. The problem has been compounded in that if you do not want to go through the body scanner, the TSA has made the alternative an "enhanced" pat downs. There are reports from travelers across the country about how the TSA now touches the genitals and private areas of men, women and children in a much more aggressive manner. Does the government have the right to look under your clothing or aggressively touch you just because you bought an airline ticket, with no other reasonable suspicion? No. Congress needs to act to ensure TSA respects the privacy of the flying public.


By saying "I opt out" when told to go through the bodying imaging machines and submitting to a pat down. Also, be sure to have your pat down by TSA in full public - do not go to the back room when asked. Every citizen must see for themselves how the TSA treats law-abiding citizens.

Be sure to write Congress to let them know how you feel!

To write your Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, please visit:

To write your U.S. Senator, please visit:

If you have experienced a problem with TSA when flying, file a complaint at your checkpoint, call the TSA at 1-866-289-9673, and also use the Electronic Privacy Information Center or ACLU's incident report to lodge your complaint:

Testimonials from travelers here:

Follow us on twitter:

Voter turnout 2010

Turns out that about 42% of US registered voters turned out to vote on 11/2/10.

When Obama was elected in 2008, almost 62% of registered voters voted. That's a difference of 20%. Wow. Still, 62% is not that fantastic, but I think that it shows that, when more voters vote, Democrats get elected.

But what accounts for the consistently low voter turnout in the U.S.?

There are some interesting stats here.

Only 29% of US Population (42% of registered voters) Participated in 2010 Mid-Term Elections

Posted by Darcy Richardson at Uncovered Politics:

ST. LOUIS, Nov. 4 — According to the Associated Press, 90 million Americans — only 42% of registered voters — pulled the lever for a congressional candidate on Tuesday. That’s just a hair under 29% of the US population of 310.6 million.

“So much for the consent of the governed,” says Thomas L. Knapp of the fledgling X2012 Project. “In a typical district, the next US Representative was chosen by, at most, one out of four or five registered voters and less than one in six of his or her alleged constituents.”

“A majority of those who could have voted refused to. A supermajority either chose not to vote or weren’t allowed to vote,” says the edgy and contemplative media coordinator and senior news analyst for the Center for a Stateless Society. “Yet for the next two years, that politician will claim to ‘represent,’ and to possess legitimate authority to rule, all of them."

Original here.


Well, now, it's looking like it's just about time to get one of those electric cars.

Largest car charging network in the U.S. rolls out in Houston

Big Oil, meet Big Electric.

Houston’s title as the world’s Energy Capital will gain a bit more luster when the city becomes home to the nation’s largest network of electric vehicle chargers.

Power plant operator NRG Energy will unveil plans today to install 150 charging stations within 25 miles of downtown Houston and offer monthly plans for in-home chargers as a way to ease consumers into the idea of buying one of the many new electric vehicles scheduled for production in the next few years.

The privately funded network will include chargers at local Walgreens, BestBuy and other stores, as well as near offices, allowing owners of electric vehicles — EVs — to shop or work while their rides charge up.

But it’s expected 80 percent to 90 percent of EV charging will occur at home. That’s why NRG is offering three monthly plans that include installation of 240-volt home charging systems. A high-end $89-per-month plan will cover all the electricity costs for charging both at home and at the public stations.

“It will be a comprehensive network so that when you need a charge you can find a charger quickly and conveniently,” said Arun Banskota, president of NRG EV Services, which operates out of a former Hummer dealership on the Katy Freeway.

NRG will install the units starting in February with plans for most of them to be in by the summer. The company plans a similar rollout in Dallas in early 2011 and is talking to the utilities in San Antonio and Austin about networks in the future.

Austin and San Antonio have city-owned electric utilities, so some aspects of creating charging networks there would be different, Banskota said.

NRG’s charging business likely will be a money-loser for several years. Relatively few EVs are on Houston-area roads now, the next generation of highway-ready EVs are being built in relatively small batches and their high price tags will limit their market.

But the $10 million in up-front cost for NRG is modest compared to the hundreds of millions the company spends on power plants, said CEO David Crane.

“It is a bit of a Field of Dreams strategy,” Crane said, referring to the ‘If you build it they will come’ mantra from the 1989 Kevin Costner film. “It will be several years before the investment pays off.”

Widespread use of electric vehicles has been promised repeatedly in the past, most recently in the mid-1990s when General Motors rolled out the EV1 in California. But EV advocates believe the promise is real this time for two reasons: better batteries and higher gasoline prices.

Today’s battery technology can carry passenger cars at highway speeds for up to 100 miles on a single charge. The average American commute is about 40 miles round-trip — 42 miles for downtown Houston workers, according to a 2009 study done by Central Houston, a nonprofit corporation that promotes downtown.

That means the new generation of EVs coming out in the next year could handle the weekday travel needs of most Americans.

During the 1990s gasoline was under $1 a gallon, but today the national average is $2.82, and it hit $4 during a surge in 2008.

The public chargers likely won’t be used much for the first couple of years, Banskota said, as car companies are rolling out new EVs on a limited basis. Chevrolet has plans for just 10,000 of its gasoline-electric Volts in the first year, for example.

“But you’ve got to have those chargers out there and visible to help drivers get over the issue of ‘range anxiety,’” says Banskota. “You need that insurance policy to drive EV purchases.”

The range anxiety issue is familiar to Crane, who has owned an all-electric Tesla for almost a year-and-a-half. The luxury EV roadster has a range of 200 miles on a single charge. But for the first few months he didn’t feel comfortable driving the 40 miles to the Philadelphia airport he uses most often to travel from NRG headquarters in Princeton, N.J.

“But that unwillingness was really like not driving your regular car once it got below two-thirds of a tank,” Crane said.

EVs have lower operating costs than gasoline powered vehicles because they require less maintenance and the per mile fuel costs are much less — as little as one-quarter of the cost per mile by some calculations.

But even with the service plans NRG is rolling out, electric vehicles won’t beat the costs of conventional vehicles because of significantly higher purchase prices. The Volt is priced at about $41,000, or $33,500 after a federal tax credit. The comparably sized Chevy Cruz costs about $19,000.

Dan Kish, senior vice president of policy for the Institute for Energy Research, a nonprofit think tank with close ties to the energy industry, estimates it would take 31 years for a Volt to match the cost of a Cruz, based on $4 gasoline and 15,000 miles of driving per year.

Matt Mattila, manager of Project Get Ready, an electric vehicle initiative by the left-leaning think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute, said the NRG initiative sounds different from most of the other efforts he’s seen in other cities.

“Some are experimenting with owning some infrastructure, but none, as far as I know, at this level of scale and service,” he said.

A recent ranking of cities on their “readiness” for electric vehicles done for the Rocky Mountain Institute put Houston in the second tier as an “aggressive follower.” Mattila said the NRG plans could change that ranking.

Peter Bishop, a professor of futures studies at the University of Houston who has studied how technology develops, says generally the only way widespread adoption of EVs will occur is through incremental steps over time.

“Short of a huge government mandate, it will require lots of baby steps by the private sector,” Bishop said. “Taking baby steps is what the private sector is good at.”

Original here.

Houston Tomorrow

Surely every major city in America has an organization like Houston Tomorrow.

“I know of no other organization in this city that has played a more helpful and constructive role in stimulating new ideas about how to ensure Houston’s continued success.”
-Stephen Klineberg, Ph.D., Rice University Department of Sociology

Houston Tomorrow, formerly the Gulf Coast Institute, is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization founded in 1998 to explore urban issues and to inform the discussion of growth in the Houston Gulf Coast Region.

Improve the quality of life in the Houston Gulf Coast region.

To assure a high quality of life and a strong and healthy economy, community, and environment, with policies for growth that don’t compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs and pursue their dreams.

This web site is hosted on servers powered by renewable Texas wind energy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Greg Palast

What this guy knows ...

He spoke at the "Fightin' Bob" Fest in Wisconsin in September of 2010.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Transition Houston

Here's another group of good people, trying to make this a better world. People like this are just about everywhere you look. But you have to look.

Welcome to Transition Houston

Transition Houston is an optimistic and energetic response to the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil at the local level. The Transition Movement supports the transition from oil dependency to local resilience by equipping communities with creative adaptations in areas such as food, energy, health, education, spirit and economy to generate a road map towards sustainable living.

Transition Houston serves to build on the wisdom of the existing resources in Houston’s diverse community to inspire, network and train localized communities to consider and adapt Rob Hopkins’ transition model. Together we can unite pools of ingenuity and skills to unleash the collective genius of our own people in finding self-determined solutions.

Transition takes action by:

  • Raising awareness of peak oil and climate change and related issues.
  • Building resilience across a wide range of areas and scales, and doing all we can to ensure general environmental resilience.
  • Providing access to good information in ways which are playful, articulate, accessible and engaging, and which will enable people to feel enthused and empowered rather than powerless.
  • Empowering communities with tools to relocalize its resources and reskill its members.

Transition Houston meets on the first Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at Urban Harvest, 2311 Canal St., Houston 77003.

Transition Houston is part of a movement to promote sustainable living and in general helping to rebuild and energize communities to show what’s possible when people come together to accomplish a common goal. The Transition “movement” is actually an international effort, but there are now several participants in the United States. Read more about Transition U.S. and Transition Texas!

Many of the organic farmer’s markets around Houston are made possible by an organization called Urban Harvest. They have all kinds of activities going on for people of all ages and are working to encourage people to begin their own gardens, etc.

Click here.

Life is but a dream.

Tree Calculator

The Tree Benefit Calculator, that is. Click the link below and input your zip code. And then ...

The Tree Benefit Calculator allows anyone to make a simple estimation of the benefits individual street-side trees provide. This tool is based on iTrees street tree assessment tool called STRATUM. With inputs of location, species and tree size, users will get an understanding of the environmental and economic value trees provide on an annual basis.

The Tree Benefit Calculator is intended to be simple and accessible. As such, this tool should be considered a starting point for understanding a tree's value in the community, rather than a scientific accounting of precise values. For more detailed information on urban and community forest assessments, visit the
i-Tree website.

Click here and input your zip code.


People are doing good things.

What is a Permablitz?

Permablitz (noun): An informal gathering involving a day on which a group of at least two people come together to achieve the following:

  • create or add to edible gardens where someone lives
  • share skills related to permaculture and sustainable living
  • build community networks
  • have fun

Permablitzes are free events, open to the public, where you learn a lot, share food, get some exercise and have a wonderful time.

We've Been Blitzed!

On Saturday, May 25, 2010, Transition Houston had our first permablitz at the home of John & Sarah Gonzales.

John & I were introduced to the concept of a permablitz when my brother Charlie Lindahl (aka Cyberchuck) attended the kick-off meeting for Transition Houston in July 2009 and was the winner of a drawing for the first ever Houston permablitz! He was gracious enough to offer it to us when he decided he couldn’t use it and the rest is history.

So… we were the recipients of Houston’s first “permablitz”. Just look at how much fun we had!

See the pictures here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Black Friday ads

If you follow this link, it will take you to a page where you can view all sorts of adverts ready for "Black Friday," that next day after Thanksgiving Day where retailers go nuts and have some pretty inexpensive stuff.

I think that I just might, for the first time ever, go out on that Friday and pick up a couple of things. I hate to join an insane shopping crowd, but I could use a couple of good deals too, y'know.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bike Sharing

So this is what a Colorado Republican railed against as being a "European Communist" plot. Everyone would be a lot better off if there were no conservatives. Period.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bush - ASS

A lot of ASSES around. Just seeing Bush's smug expressions again makes me want to vomit.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Joe Lieberman-ASS!

So much happens so quickly that it is hard to remember everything, at the right moment when it would be most advantageous. I still remember this little tidbit, and it still royally pisses me off!

From the Political Animal:

BLAME WHERE BLAME IS DUE.... Remember, late last year, there was something briefly called the "Team of Ten" in the Senate? Health care reform was close to coming together, but there were a handful of Democrats with key concerns over specific provisions, most notably the public option. Ten members -- five from the center-right, five from the center-left -- got together to work out a deal they could all live with.

The result was a pretty good deal: the group scuttled the public option, but agreed to expand Medicare eligibility, letting Americans over the age of 55 buy into the system.

Despite all of the controversies surround the reform plan, the Medicare plan was wildly popular. A Washington Post/ABC News poll in mid-December showed a 63% majority approved of the Medicare buy-in idea.

So, what happened? Joe Lieberman said he'd kill the entire health care reform effort unless the Medicare buy-in provision were removed. Left with no choice, Democrats complied.

Apropos of nothing, Ezra Klein reminds us of the episode, and what the electoral considerations might have been if Lieberman were a better senator.

This [Medicare buy-in] idea had a couple of different virtues: For one, it opened an effective and cheap program up to a group of Americans who often have the most trouble finding affordable insurance. For another, the Congressional Budget Office has said this policy would improve Medicare's finances by bringing healthier, younger applicants into the risk pool. Oh, and it's wildly popular with liberals, who want to see Medicare offered as an option to more people, and since Medicare is already up and running, it could've been implemented rapidly.

But Lieberman killed it. It was never really clear why. He'd been invited to the meetings where the compromise was developed, but he'd skipped them. He'd supported the idea when he ran for president with Al Gore, and he'd reaffirmed that support three months prior to its emergence in the health-care debate during an interview with the editorial board of the Connecticut Post. But now that it was on the table, he seemed to be groping for reasons to oppose it. About the best he managed was that it was "duplicative," which was about as nonsensical a position as could be imagined. Nevertheless, he swore to filibuster the bill if the buy-in option was added. The proposal was duly removed.

I'd add one key detail Ezra didn't mention. On Dec. 15, Lieberman talked to reporters about his position on health care, and admitted he opposed the Medicare buy-in because he heard liberals say good things about it. That is how the senator was making policy decisions.

Nevertheless, Ezra's larger point -- that health care reform would have been a bigger political win if Lieberman hadn't been so petty and foolish -- is compelling: "Liberals would've been a lot happier if they'd managed to add this to the law, and maybe more of them would've turned out to vote. Seniors might've been pleased to see Medicare's finances improved, and many of the people who would've been helped by the new rule would've been, well, their children. The law could've begun delivering benefits earlier, and maybe that would've helped its popularity."

Put together, could this have helped Dems withstand the electoral "wave"? It's speculative, obviously, but it hardly strikes me as a stretch. At a minimum, I'd bet that the Affordable Care Act would be a lot more popular right now, which alone might have improved Dems' chances in the midterms.


Bush book

It's obvious why they delayed the release of Bush's "book" until AFTER the 2010 election. He might have reminded some of the dolts out there who destroyed the economy and which party they belonged to. Now that Bush has admitted IN PRINT that he approved illegal torture (waterboarding), there should be nothing stopping a war crimes trial. Except for, oh yeah, the Democrats lost their spines years ago.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rude Pundit Part 1

Why don't the Democrats ever seem to have any balls? When you're in a brawl with a immoral thug (Republicans), you don't adopt the Queensbury's rules. Take the gloves off and fucking wake up! Which is a reason I love the Rude Pundit.

Time for the Next Round of This Fight
(Part 1: The Lame Duck Can Still Fly):
Fuck despair. The 2012 fight starts now. Time to learn from our mistakes, lick our wounds, change the sheets, clean up our mess, and get back in this quickly. Time's a-wastin' before the crazies arrive and attempt to shutdown the government, defund the health care bill, and wreck the economy. It's war. It has been a war. Act like it.

At his press conference, Barack Obama was too conciliatory, too willing to allow the lie-filled narrative of his supposed intransigence, the myth of his unwillingness to compromise, to exist. Look at what Bill Clinton said in 1994: "But to those who would use this election to turn us back, let me say this: I will do all in my power to keep anyone from jeopardizing this economic recovery by taking us back to the policies that failed us before...There is too much at stake for our children and our future to do anything else." It was a challenge to the new Congress, a shot over Gingrich's bow, and a reassurance to everyone who voted for him two years before that he didn't forget how he got there and that he was still there. Shit, Reagan essentially said, "Yeah, yeah, whatever, kiss my ass" when Republicans lost seats in the House in 1982.

What did Obama offer? "I’m not so naïve as to think that everybody will put politics aside until then, but I do hope to make progress on the very serious problems facing us right now. And that’s going to require all of us, including me, to work harder at building consensus." And, as we know, "building consensus" and "compromise" means "give Republicans everything they want and you get nothing." Meanwhile, John Boehner was telling the President to start sucking and don't neglect the balls.

So it's time to run the table during the lame duck session. Right now, conservatives are shitting themselves over what can happen during the next two months of the Congress-That-Has-Nothing-To-Lose, even making a idiotic video featuring some redneck asshole you might remember from some ad shooting a man in a duck costume, which has more resonances of Dick Cheney than actual hunting. They want the Democrats to pledge to just run out the clock and wait for the new Congress to act on anything. Because, you know, they'd act just as honorably. Oh, wait, that's right. The impeachment of Bill Clinton happened during a lame duck session. So, really, the proper response is, "No, you need to blow us, Boehner and McConnell."

Democrats need to find that backbone that keeps running away and understand that they actually can accomplish a number of things that will shore up the progressive base for the next couple of years. It's so fucking easy. Listen to Nancy Pelosi (no, really - she was on the right track the last two years; Reid and Obama had it wrong), and 2012 will be different. Pass a bunch of those bills that have come out of the House. Fuck some shit up before you're out. The worst thing that Democrats can do is to play nice until 2011, hoping that it will lay some kind of groundwork for cooperation and decency in the future. That's like thinking that if you leave a crack whore alone with your pants, she won't steal your wallet. And your pants.

1. The absolute easiest thing you can do: Get rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Do this and all those gay votes that went away will come home, and the non-gay supporters will be able to point to a concrete promise kept.

2. There's gonna be tax cuts of some sort, even though there shouldn't be. Use reconciliation to pass middle class tax cuts. Leave the tax cuts for the wealthy for the new Congress so that the incoming House is put in the position of having to vote for rich people to get more money.

3. And attach everything else you want to the reconciliation tax bill: energy legislation, unemployment benefits extension, whatever. The rules allow it. The Republicans will howl like dogs who got kicked in the anus, but, again, again, again, Democrats need to treat Republicans like the dishonorable fuckers they are.

4. Pass the Disclose Act. The bullshit excuse Republicans used for opposing it was that it was an election year stunt. Okay, it's not an election anymore. Let's get a little of the anonymous corporate money out of the process. If the bill is filibustered, make them own it and answer for it for the next two years. (This is perhaps the most naively optimistic part of a generally naively optimistic post here.)

As the Rude Pundit writes this, Mitch McConnell, who, it should be noted, is the fucking minority leader, is talking as if he is in charge now, as if he runs the Senate. And why the fuck not, since he essentially did for the last couple of years? Use the next couple of months, dear, defeated Democrats, to walk away with some dignity and not allow yourselves to be whipped out of town by the rats and the bullies.

Go here for the original and Part 2.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wellstone revisited

Did you know that the FBI recently released a lot of documents about Paul Wellstone and the small plane crash that took his life eight years ago? Probably not. After I read about the threat snipped below, I am somewhat re-convinced that Wellstone was killed. He was the most progressive Senator in the Senate, and effective too. Can't have that.

From protester to senator, FBI tracked Paul Wellstone

By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
October 25, 2010

It started with a fingerprint of a 25-year-old college professor who opposed the Vietnam War and ended with a search for his remains, 32 years later, in a wooded area near Eveleth, Minn.

The FBI's files on Paul and Sheila Wellstone, many of which are being made public for the first time, shed new light on the extent of the relationship between the FBI and the political activist who would go on to become a U.S. senator from Minnesota.


The FBI files reveal, for the first time, the specific criminal leads pursued by investigators.

FBI agents investigated the claims of a caller from Jacksonville, Florida, who said that members of the American Trucking Association had planned to disconnect the plane's de-icers. The man said that Wellstone had been trying to schedule Senate hearings to expose organized crime in the trucking industry. In response to the call, a Wellstone staff member asked a Labor Committee member and a legislative director "who both indicated that they were not aware of any Senate hearing being scheduled to discuss this topic." The rest of the document has been redacted.

Agents also obtained a threatening postcard sent to Wellstone's St. Paul office the day before the plane crash. The handwritten postcard said, in part, "We need to gut (sic) the word out for the snipper (sic) to go after people like you, not real Americans … This voter fraud you propose will get you dead."


Friday, November 5, 2010

Who do you trust?

From Brad Blog...

There are still many more races undecided and going through calls for recounts, etc. around the country. Many of them are not "top-of-ticket" contests, so you may not yet have heard about many of them. I've been fielding calls and emails from representatives of many such campaigns over the last 24 hours or so while looking into various charges of irregularities, etc.

Also remember that in just about every race where you've heard a "winner" announced at this hour, those results are still un-official and un-canvassed for accuracy with virtually all of the ballots (where ballots actually exist) uncounted by nothing other than a computer tabulator. There has been virtually no human confirmation of accuracy of those (failure-prone and easily-manipulated) computer-reported results as of today.

Also remember that neither a media declaration of a "winner" nor a candidate's concession has any actual legal meaning on the official results of any race. Clearly, there are a number of races where counting, canvassing and contesting will be continuing for quite a while.

Brad Blog.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Dog House

Electile Dysfunction

It's notable that the Republicans are always screaming "VOTER FRAUD!!" at Democrats, whether it's a poll watcher looking too closely over your shoulder, a couple of Black Panthers standing outside the polling place, or someone needing help to vote. Countless investigations have turned up no systematic attempts at voter fraud. Indeed, 99% of the charges are bogus. Yet, they continue to scream it.

The reality is that these electronic voting machines are easily hackable. This has been demonstrated over and over and over again. And the companies that own these voting machines are Republican-backers, every one.

Indeed, in the 2004 election cycle, the head of Diebold, Walden O'Dell, wrote in a letter that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." Ohio turned out to be the deciding state in the election. Voting fraud on a large scale.

So the voting machines can easily be hacked to switch votes however you like, and they are owned by Republicans, but Republicans howl like clockwork every election season. How typically Republican can you get?

What a country. It is somewhat of a miracle that the US still holds together. Sorta. Lucky for Republicans that most Democrats are pacifists.

A Cure For Electile Dysfunction?
By Steve Bhaerman (aka Swami Beyondananda)

“We have a deeply divided body politic. Half of Americans believe our elections are broken. The other half believes they are fixed.” — Swami Beyondananda

The toxic orgy is over – for now.

For months, the media has drawn us into a bitterly hateful, misleading sideshow called Electoral Politics, where the sound of money talking trash has drowned out both reason and compassion. I turned my TV off several years ago, so watching the political ads this season was particularly shocking to my system. At first I imagined that it was just the Republicans spreading toxicity, but I found EVERY political ad pretty much the same: “Let me tell you how terrible the other guy is!”

The problem is, some of those other guys really are terrible. The other problem is, with the tremendous amount of heat and the minimal amount of light, it’s become a lot easier to “throw the old bums out,” and “throw the new bums in.”

According to an article in Vanity Fair a couple of months ago, elections cost seventeen times as much as they did 35 years ago. And most of this money is being spent to turn up the heat, and turn down the light.

It’s probably accurate to say that the Republicans didn’t win this one – the Democrats lost. As Ralph Nader has said, the Democrats have no unifying progressive philosophy and are merely the other, second-rate corporate party. Obama, meanwhile, had the choice to be another FDR or another Bill Clinton, and he chose the latter. Folks, how excited can you get about a health care plan that FORCES people to buy coverage, yet still empowers companies that make their money by denying care?

However, the real issues go much deeper. Two weeks ago in Virginia Beach, we went to brunch with a man about to retire from the state social services system. A lifelong progressive, he was deeply disheartened by a welfare system that has institutionalized dysfunction, where welfare mothers who were welfare children continue to have children and collect checks. When they are called in to the office, they balk because they might miss their “stories” (soap operas). The Democrats, stuck in what the Buddhists call “idiot compassion,” cannot confront this situation for fear of offending their core constituency.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Republicans shield “corporate welfare cheats,” under the guise of supporting “free enterprise.” Somehow, transnational monopolies have become synonymous with free enterprise, but when you have zillions of dollars to spend on impropaganda you can actually blend two incompatible ideas into one big lie. So there are the choices we have been given. Vote Democrat and enable the lowly criminal. Vote Republican and enable the highly-criminal.

In the wake of this final insult of an election where nearly $4 billion was spent to manipulate us into voting for the lesser of two weasels, a transpartisan up-wising is taking shape. This past Sunday, Jacqueline Salit of wrote a prophetic piece for New York Newsday called “The Parties Are Over”. Meanwhile, Utne Reader featured an interview with our friend and associate, Michael Ostrelenk a year ago that likewise points us in the right direction. Instead of obediently following the trumpet call (or alarm bell) telling us to vote for either the red candidate or blue one, Americans are now being called upon to look past the media circus and find out the truth for themselves.

In addition to the Transpartisan Upwising book Joseph McCormick and I are writing together, Joseph and Michael Ostrelenk are collaborating through Reuniting America to bring leaders together across the political divide. If you click on their alumnae page, you will see a surprising variety of leaders who have participated in this transpartisan conversation. Meanwhile, a very exciting conversation is taking place nationwide, and specifically in Seattle, Washington. There, Greens and Libertarians are meeting and creating common ground, with the intention of creating a new “Chautauqua” movement, where Americans meet across the political divide and together answer the three key questions: What’s so? So what? Now what?

So, the current election cycle is over. And as the Swami says, “when you find yourself on a vicious cycle, stop peddling.” In the wake of shock and disappointment – or, if you’re a Tea Partier, temporary euphoria – it’s time to focus on what we want, rather than being mobilized against what we don’t want. Check out the Transpartisan website and find a way to get involved in building a strong and healthy body politic. Make a financial contribution to the Transpartisan Upwising book.

Finally, I quote pundit Wes “Scoop” Nisker: “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.”

Let’s we the people become the news in 2011 and in 2012.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Visual context

So, I was wrong about the trend of the elections. I hope I'm wrong about this also: it looks like Republicans are going to launch investigation after investigation against Obama, with the goal of impeaching him. Impeaching him for what? Whatever.

That is especially galling when you consider that Nancy Pelosi specifically took impeachment of Bush off the table when Obama came to office. There were a myriad of good reasons to investigate Bush: illegal torture, illegal wiretapping of American citizens, lying us into war, fiscal mismanagement of the war and financial system. But no, the Dems didn't want to go there. Now, the Republicans can't WAIT to go there against Obama.

You see what being a "nice guy" will get you in the world of politics? Nowhere. Fast.

From Political Animal...

SOME VISUAL CONTEXT.... It's not unfair for Republicans to characterize the midterms as "historic," at least as far as the House is concerned. The GOP not only made massive gains, they'll enjoy their largest House majority next year in more than six decades.

But as is my habit, I thought I'd put the elections in charts. Here, for example, are the midterms of the modern political era, with losses per cycle for the president's party (blue columns represent Democratic presidents, red columns represent Republican presidents).

You'll notice, of course, that the 2010 midterms were the worst for any incumbent president's party since FDR's drubbing in 1938. Also note, this chart only reflects the results of yesterday's elections through the available data. (Several House races have not yet been called, so the results may yet get slightly worse for Dems, though it does not appear they'll match the 1938 totals.)

On the other hand, Senate losses for the White House's party -- at this point, it looks like Dems have lost six seats from their majority -- were fairly mild by modern standards. Indeed, while Obama's House losses were greater than Clinton's, Clinton's Senate losses were greater than Obama's.

In some cases, the results are a little misleading, in part because the president's party went into a midterm cycle with smaller congressional minorities, and didn't have much further to drop.

That said, I think the visual context helps.


Morford: Letter to ...

Well, I was wrong about the election. Intelligence did not prevail after all. Looks like America is stupider and lazier than I thought. Oh well, you move on.

Letter to a whiny young Democrat

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oh, now you've done it.

See? You see what happens when you young liberal voters get so disgruntled and disillusioned that you drop all your party's newborn, hard-won ideas about Hope™ and Change™, without any patience, without really giving them sufficient time to mature, without understanding that hugely foreign, anti-American concept known as "the long view"?

See what happens when you wallow in hollow disappointment, trudging all over your liberal arts campus and refusing to vote in a rather important mid-term election, all because your pet issues and nubile ego weren't immediately serviced by a mesmerizing guy named Barack Obama just after he sucked you into his web of fuzzyhappy promises a mere two years ago, back when you were knee-high to a shiny liberal ideology?

Well, now you know. This is what happens: The U.S. House of Representatives, the most insufferable gaggle of political mongrels this side of, well, the rest of Congress, reverts to GOP control like a brain tumor reverts to a more aggressive form of cancer, and everything gets bleaker and sadder and, frankly, a whole lot nastier.

What happens is: Many kinds of fragmented, muddled, but still constructive Democratic progress might get stopped quite nearly dead, and even a few pieces of legislation we actually did gain get slapped around, threatened, stomped on the head like a scientist at a Rand Paul rally. Happy now?

Check it out, kiddo: This is not just any Republican party you allowed back into power; these mealy folks are not anything like the war-hungry, Bush-tainted army of flying monkeys and Dick Cheney moose knuckles you so wonderfully helped bury in the history books last election.

No, the GOP of 2010-2011 is even weirder, dumber, less interested in anything you even remotely care about; this GOP is infused like a sour cocktail with a bitter splash of the most cartoonish, climate change-denying Tea Party dingbats imaginable -- most of whom think you're an elitist, terrorist-loving, gay-supporting threat to "real" American values, btw -- all led by a guy named Boehner who wears a bizarre, shellacked tan so fake and creepy it makes Nancy Pelosi looks like a supermodel.

And you made it all happen. Or rather, you failed to prevent it from happening, by not voting, by turning your collective back on Obama's tough love, by getting all whiny and dejected like some sort of sullen teen vampire who can't get laid.

Do you deny it? Did you see the polls and studies that said that most fresh-faced, Obama-swooning Dems like you are now refusing to support our beloved Nazi Muslim president because he didn't wish-fulfill your every whim in a week? That he was, in fact, not quite the instant-gratification SuperJesus of your (or rather, our) dreams?

Of course you didn't see any of that. Hell, I bet you're not even reading this column right now. You're probably back on Twitter, raging into the Void about, hell, who knows what? The Wolf Parade concert. Angry Birds. The People of Wal-Mart. Anything but politics, really.

But hey, whatevs, right? Screw it. Screw him. After all, the prez let you down. Conveniently "forgot" to include you in the dialogue, after a major election that you helped him win. Where were the outreach programs? The campus speaking tours? Weekly appearances on "The Daily Show"? Legal pot and gay marriage and discounts tickets to SXSW and Burning Man and Coachella? I want my goddamn political perks, and I want them now.

Hey, I understand. We're an instant gratification culture, and you're an ADHD generation. Who wants to hear that serious enviro legislation might take a decade or two to fully come to fruition? Who wants to hear about Obama passing rather amazing student loan reform? Or even financial reform? Or health care, the Iraq drawdown, saving a million jobs at GM, or all the rest of his rather astonishing achievements to date? Dude, so boring.

Of course, you've now learned the hard way that the hot flush of a major election is far more electrifying than the gray n' meaty grind of actual governing. Obama flew into office on gossamer liberal wings, but the real halls of D.C. are a goddamn pigsblood slaughterhouse, brutal and depressing, full of gnarled legislative compromise. Screw that noise, you know?

And you know what? You're right. Well, sort of. The Obama administration sure as hell could've done more to keep young activists inspired and involved. It's an opportunity squandered, no question. Then again, dude was sorta busy unburying the entire nation, you know? And the twitchy Democratic party has never been known for its savvy cohesion. Maybe you can give him/them a break? Whoops, too late.

Look, I'm sorry. I know I'm being far too hard on you. Of course it's not just you. It's not completely your fault these dimwit Repubs were allowed to ooze back into a bit of power so soon. As many analysts have pointed out, this wasn't a vote for the Republicans, but against the limp-wristed Dems who didn't step up and lead with more authority and clarity of purpose. Truly, libs and independents of every age are frustrated Obama isn't governing with the same kind of magical, balls-out visionary zeal that fueled his campaign.

And let's not forget a shockingly unintelligent Tea Party movement that stands for exactly nothing and fears exactly everything, all ghost-funded by a couple of creepy libertarian oil billionaires -- the leathery old Koch brothers -- who eat their young for a snack. Who could've predicted that gnarled political contraption would hold water? But hey, when Americans are angry and nervous, they do stupid things. Like vote Republican. It happens. Just did.

But here's your big takeaway, young Dem: It ain't over yet. The 2012 election is just around the corner. If we've learned anything, it's that two years whip by insanely quickly. Anything can happen, and usually does. You'll have another chance. And probably another after that. Maybe more.

So here's what you need to know, right now: Barack Obama is, and will continue to be, a bit of goddamn miracle. He's simply as good as we're going get for an articulate, thoughtful, integrity-rich Democratic prez in your lifetime. Period. To hamstring his administration out of spite and laziness is childish and sad. Check the accomplishments. Understand the process. Deal with the messiness.

It will never be perfect. It will never be giddy liberal nirvana, because it doesn't work that way. Politics is corrosive and infuriating, de facto and by definition, even with someone as thoughtful as Obama in the Big Chair. Understand it. Deal with it. Get back in the game. If you don't, we all lose.

Your choice, kiddo.