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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Siberian craters

What is causing these huge craters to open up in Siberia?  Climate change?  It's very likely, and it looks like they are releasing large quantities of methane, which will only make climate change worse.  But no, according to most of the GOP in this country, climate change is a total hoax so that Obama can raise taxes.  

Really?  So NASA, the Navy, the Army, insurance companies, meterologists, EVERY SINGLE ENTITY is participating in the hoax just so Obama can raise taxes?  Talk about your paranoid conspiracy theories.

Russian scientists have determined that a massive crater discovered in a remote part of Siberia was probably caused by thawing permafrost. The crater is in the Yamal Peninsula, which means “end of the world.” It caught hold of the media spotlight in mid-July when it was spotted by oil and gas workers flying over the area. At roughly 200 feet wide and seemingly bottomless, speculation abounded about the cause with the Siberian Times reporting that, “theories range from meteorites, stray missiles, a man-made prank, and aliens, to an explosive cocktail of methane or shale gas suddenly exploding.”
Since this first discovery, two other smaller craters have been spotted in the surrounding regions, fueling even more armchair conjecture. Russian scientists sent to the site are now providing first-hand data showing that unusually high concentrations of methane of up to 9.6 percent were present at the bottom of the first large crater shortly after it was discovered on July 16. Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia, who led an expedition to the crater, told The Journal Nature that air normally contains just 0.000179 percent methane.
According to Plekhanov, the last two summers in the Yamal have been exceptionally warm at about nine degrees Fahrenheit above average. Rising temperatures could have allowed the permafrost to thaw and collapse, releasing the methane previously trapped by the subterranean ice. Methane is the primary component of natural gas. The original crater is about 20 miles from a large natural gas plant and the entire Yamal Peninsula is rich in natural gas that is being extensively tapped to help fuel Russia’s natural gas boom.
Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten, a geochemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany, told Nature that climate change and the slow, steady thaw of the region could be to blame.
“Gas pressure increased until it was high enough to push away the overlying layers in a powerful injection, forming the crater,” he said.
This frame grab made Wednesday, July 16 shows the 200-foot wide crater discovered in the Yamal Peninsula.
While staring down into the abyss of these craters is a scary thought, the release of large quantities of greenhouse gases from melting permafrost is existentially daunting. A study from earlier this year found that melting permafrost soil, which typically remains frozen all year, is thawing and decomposing at an accelerating rate. This is releasing more methane into the atmosphere, causing the greenhouse effect to increase global temperatures and creating a positive feedback loop in which more permafrost melts.
“The world is getting warmer, and the additional release of gas would only add to our problems,” said Jeff Chanton, the John Widmer Winchester Professor of Oceanography at Florida State and researcher on the study. According to Chanton, if the permafrost completely melts, there would be five times the current amount of carbon equivalent in the atmosphere.
Kevin Schaefer, a permafrost scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, told ThinkProgress that there are actually two sources of GHGs released by melting permafrost: methane hydrates that destabilize when permafrost temperatures rise, as has been the case in Siberia, and frozen organic matter.
“Note that the methane hydrate and the decaying organic matter emissions result from two completely different mechanisms,” said Schaefer. “Methane hydrate emissions come from deep permafrost due to purely physical processes. The decaying organic matter emissions come from near-surface permafrost due to purely biological processes.”
He said that as the permafrost thaws, the organic matter will also thaw and begin to decay, releasing CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. “Published estimates indicate 120 gigatons of carbon emissions from thawing permafrost by 2100, which would increase global temperatures by an additional 7.98 percent,” he said.
Schaefer said the phenomenon of the Siberian craters was a surprise to him because he thought the methane would leak out more slowly. Capturing these large bursts of methane before they enter the atmosphere could be possible, according to Schaefer, however extremely difficult.
“The key is drilling into the permafrost before the methane escapes,” he said. “However, creating the infrastructure just to get to these remote locations is daunting.”
He said that capturing the emissions from decaying organic matter would be impossible.
Ted Schuur, a professor of ecosystem ecology at the University of Florida and leader of the Permafrost Carbon Network, told ThinkProgress that the Siberian craters remind him of ‘hot spots’ of methane bubbling that occur both in lakes and undersea in the permafrost zone.
“This could be a terrestrial version that was previously capped by ground ice in permafrost,” he said. “If indeed they are the result of warming permafrost they could be a significant pathway of greenhouse gas release to the atmosphere. As with other processes in the permafrost zone, abrupt changes appear to be as or perhaps more important than slow gradual change.”
survey of 41 permafrost scientists in 2011 estimated that if human fossil-fuel use remained on a high projection and the planet warmed significantly, gases from permafrost could eventually equal 35 percent of present day annual emissions. In the few years since then, emissions have continued to rise. If emissions are heavily curtailed, greenhouse gases from permafrost could make up as little as around the equivalent of 10 percent of today’s human-caused emissions. This is far lower, but still highly disconcerting.
“Even if it’s 5 or 10 percent of today’s emissions, it’s exceptionally worrying, and 30 percent is humongous,” Josep G. Canadell, a scientist in Australia who runs a global program to monitor greenhouse gases, told the New York Times at the time of the study. “It will be a chronic source of emissions that will last hundreds of years.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ganja Kitchen

Indeed, a revolution in the kitchen is underway. Thanks to Colorado and Washington state, cannabis is entering the mainstream.  Or, bloodstream, if you will.  And we will all be the better because of it.

The Ganja Kitchen Revolution website features all sorts of recipes using cannabis.  Get cooking! 

Jessica Catalano is a Professional Culinarian and author of The Ganja Kitchen Revolution: The Bible of Cannabis Cuisine published by Green Candy Press. She is a Medical Cannabis and Cannabis Lifestyle advocate who has combined her two loves of food and cannabis into stylish medicated dishes for Medical Cannabis patients. Catalano pioneered the idea of infusing terpenes into cooking and baking via strain specific recipes to elevate the flavors in the edibles she creates. What this means is that she uses specific strains in specific recipes to enhance the flavor profiles of the dishes she constructs. For example, Lemon Kush can be paired with Vietnamese Spring Rolls. By doing this, the Lemon Kush will impart a lemony taste with floral and mint undertones which deepens the flavors in this dish because of the similar taste profiles already present in the ingredients. This also helps patients to understand the importance of flavor profiles in recipes for a more enjoyable experience and how each strain will effect their bodies.
Catalano is a Medical Cannabis patient herself and has extensive knowledge since early 1997 for medicinal purposes. She continues to strive for excellence both in cooking, baking and Medical Cannabis knowledge. Her goal is to help as many Medical Cannabis patients as she possibly can creating a better quality of life for them. She explores the health benefits of cooking with cannabis which when balanced with good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can help promote a longer and more fulfilling life. She is also a passionate snowboarder and runner who draws upon inspiration from exploring the Colorado Rocky Mountains to fuel creativity in the kitchen.
Catalano is the Food Columnist for the international SKUNK Magazine and former Tokin’ Female of the Month. She also is a regular contributor to Diane Fornbacher’s LadyBud Magazine, the national Cannabis Now Magazine, and occasionally for the Medical Cannabis Releaf Magazine. She has also done recipe work for the Medical Cannabis website StickyGuide, the cannabis media space Smell the Truth, all things cannabis website The Nug, the social news and entertainment site BuzzFeed, and Colorado’s very own weed-rag The Daily Doobie. She has also served as a judge for the Hightimes U.S Cannabis Cup in 2012 and 2013 for Edibles.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Atheist TV

Oh no!  Don't look now but the atheists have a 24-hour TV channel called, remarkably, "Atheist TV."  

I am somewhat skeptical about the surviveability quotient of this channel, although it is long overdue and needed in the marketplace of ideas.  I think they will have to broaden their appeal beyond "just" atheism before they become successful.  Running old Public Access programs on atheism isn't going to cut it.   

No cable system has yet agreed to put Atheist TV on its channel lineup.  Shock!  The Christianistas are probably waiting with torches, pitchforks and loaded bazookas for the first cable system to add them to their channel lineup.  

You can stream it online by going here.

from Liberaland:
There are numerous television channels devoted to religion. So, why not an atheist channel? Peter Foster in The Telegraph:

…July 29 sees the launch of America’s first dedicated TV channel for non-believers. Atheist TV launches in New York and will broadcast 24 hours a day via Roku, the internet streaming service that allows people to watch internet-based channels on their TVs. Roku only has seven million subscribers, but anyone can watch it streamed online at

Free-thinkers, as atheists style themselves, remain almost bizarrely under-represented in American public life and discourse. There is not a single openly declared atheist among the 535 members of Congress, and it is conventional electoral wisdom that the President of the United States has to be a believer…

The channel is backed by American Atheists, the civil rights organisation founded in 1963 that takes a pretty confrontational approach to defending separation of church and state, including fighting a legal battle against the “9/11 miracle cross” being placed in the museum commemorating the September 11 attacks – which, as I’ve written before, is not a fight I would have personally picked.

The organisers tell me the channel will broadcast 24 hours, mostly with licenses and pre-recorded content, such as documentaries by the Richard Dawkins Foundation as well as a talk show titled “Atheist Viewpoint” and a call-in show, “Atheist Experience”

And a blurb from the atheists themselves. There is a lot of potential out there.

Atheist TV is a project of American Atheists, launched in 2014, to provide a counter-balance to the myriad of religious programming available on television. By partnering with content creators within the atheist community, AtheistTV is a place for atheists to find quality content that is not available elsewhere and goes where no one else has: into the living rooms of millions of Americans.
Featuring content from the Richard Dawkins Foundation (including interviews, speeches, and educational programming), the Atheist Community of Austin (producers of The Atheist Experience), American Atheists, the Reason Rally, and stand up comedians, AtheistTV brings hundreds of hours of programming to one place. As the channel matures, AtheistTV will begin producing and airing original content exclusive to AtheistTV. We are already working with Emmy-nominated producer Liz Bronstein, executive producer of Whale Wars, and Paul Provenza, executive producer of The Aristocrats and Showtime's The Green Room with Paul Provenza.
AtheistTV is available on Roku and streaming live on our site. 
For more information about Roku, including how to get one, visit their website or read more here.
If you are a content creator and would like to partner with AtheistTV, please contact us directly

Monday, July 28, 2014

National Geographic

Another domino!  It takes a village.

Today we are excited to announce that the National Geographic Society is now using recycled paper in their publications thanks to you and our very own Better Paper Project! Read the news release here.

Let's build on this momentum and take action now to move more publishers to recycled paper.

The thousands of petitions sent and actions taken by Green Americans made the difference. National Geographic is the 8th largest magazine in the US and has over 4 million subscribers. With their switch to recycled paper, we may have reached a tipping point in the magazine industry.

Now we need your help to move more publishers to recycled paper and save our forests.
 Check out the list of other magazines also using recycled paper on our Better Paper Project website. Are your favorite magazines on this list? If not, tell them to use recycled paper now.

National Geographic’s use of recycled paper in their magazines demonstrates that publications with world-class photography can use recycled paper without any compromise on quality. That means there are no excuses for any publishers to use virgin-fiber paper any longer.

The National Geographic Society has committed to using as much recycled paper in their magazines as possible. Their initial switch to paper with five percent post-consumer recycled content will:
  • Lower their wood use by an equivalent of 26,000 trees.
  • Use less energy – the savings equivalent to approximately 145 homes.
  • Reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 238 fewer cars each year.
  • Lower their annual water consumption by about 19 Olympic sized swimming pools.
  • Reduce their solid waste generation by about 33 fewer garbage trucks.
We continue to work with National Geographic to help them increase their recycled paper use while also spreading the news to the thousands of other magazines not yet using recycled paper. We would like your help.

Less than three percent of the over 15,000 US magazine titles regularly use recycled paper. Let’s take advantage of the momentum created by National Geographic switching to recycled paper and ask other publishers: What percentage of recycled paper is in your magazine?

Please ask them NOW!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

liberal reminders #2

Another excerpt from Alan Colmes latest book, "Thank the Liberals (for Saving America, and why you Should)"

A Little Help To Fight The Right

Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, vacations, weekends, a minimum wage, and protected bank deposits barely scratch the surface of reasons to thank a liberal today,

The Affordable Care Act will get rid of coverage denial due to preexisting conditions and lifetime limits on how much coverage you'll have.

Obamacare does not include "death panels," health-care rationing, or coverage for illegal immigrants and abortions, contrary to what you may have heard.

Many of the ideas for health-care reform now opposed by the Right, such as expanded government coverage and mandates, were originally proposed by Republicans.

Raising Americans out of poverty has been a calling card of the Left.

Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration put Americans back to work after the Great Depression.  Almost every community in the United States has structures built because of these programs.

Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty cut the poverty rate in half.  His Jobs Corp provided education and vocational training; Head Start provided medical, dental, mental health, and nutrition services to school children; food stamps have fed tens of millions of hungry Americans.

The Environmental Protection Agency was started by Richard Nixon, whose domestic policies were often liberal.  They make sure the air we breathe and the water we drink are healthy.  They clean up national disasters such as the BP oil spoil and address national tragedies such as 9/11.

Equal pay for women, civil rights for African Americans, and marital rights for gays are hallmarks of the Left.  The Lilly Ledbetter Act, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, and the growing number of states permitting marriage equality are thanks to progressives.

Virtually every advancement has occurred because of liberal initiatives and in spite of conservative opposition.

Visit Alan Colmes Liberaland.

Friday, July 25, 2014

935 Lies

On a recent Bill Moyers Journal, Charles Lewis latest book, 935 Lies, catalogues the intentional deceptions by LBJ (and his Administration) and GWBush (and his Administration) that led America to very costly wars in Vietnam and Iraq.   Both wars, built on lies.

In one sense, both political parties lied us into a war, but I still don't believe that that means there is no difference between the two parties. Both may be up to their eyeballs in political contributions, but that still doesn't make them the same.  

Ask yourself what our country might look like if Democrats ruled Congress, the Executive, and the Courts.  And ask yourself what it would look like if all three entities were ruled by the GOP.  

But, why the fuck has Obama invoked the Espionage Act 8 times during his presidency, more times than every previous President, combined?

Reefer Madness

Here's a musical I could stomach, and musicals are not my thing.

Show Description

Get ready for a smoking good time! It's an outrageous tongue-in-cheek musical comedy inspired by the classic 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film. Madness arises when clean-cut kids fall prey to marijuana, leading them on a hysterical downward spiral.

September 25-October 5, 2014
Zilkha Hall - Hobby Center
Theater Under the Stars - Underground

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

GOP revolt?

I think we all know that today's GOP is already revolting, i.e. disgusting, but it could be that the Kansas Republicans are revolting in another sense, that is, "an attempt to put an end to the authority of a person or body by rebelling."

This would be a long overdue and welcome development.  The GOP has largely succeeded in shutting down many functions of government and starving it of money. They've been acting like spoiled brats that can't get their way, so NO ONE can move forward.

But now, Kansas' Republican Governor Sam Brownback has provoked the moderates in the GOP (yes! are there still some!) to revolt. Finally!!

Hopefully this will start a trend.  The American people deserve better than one party that just stamps its foot and constantly yells, "NO!"

Moderate Republicans Endorse Democrat In Kansas Governor Race

A group of one hundred and four prominent members of the Kansas GOP pledged their support for Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis in his bid to unseat Republican incumbent Governor Sam Brownback. The news is sending shock waves through traditionally conservative Kansas, a state President Obama lost by almost 22 percentage points in 2012.


Brownback gained the admiration of conservative pundits throughout the country after slashing the state’s income taxes by 25 percent but came under fire in recent months as shortfalls in revenue began to squeeze essential public services and resulted in huge deficits.
Republicans for Kansas Values, group of current and former GOP legislators which includes two former lieutenant governors, the current state insurance commissioner, and many former members of the state legislature, has risen to oppose Brownback and took the drastic step of endorsing his Democratic rival in the upcoming election.
A press release on Tuesday stated:
“Brownback’s reckless tax ‘experiment’ resulted in (1) deficit spending, (2) increased debt, and (3) reduced credit rating.”
Brownback earned the ire of Kansas GOP moderates in 2012 when he conducted a primary purge of his party, endorsing tea party backed challengers funded by groups like Americans for Prosperity. Eight moderate Republican Senators were turned out in that purge. Seven of them have endorsed Davis.
The endorsements come as polls show the race in a toss up or slightly favoring the Democrat. While Davis was once seen as a long shot to unseat the incumbent, a recent SurveyUSA poll shows him leading Brownback by 6 percentage points.
Kansas has elected Democrats as governor in the recent past. Kathleen Sebelius, who later went on to be Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, served as the state’s Governor from 2003 to 2009.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

liberal reminders

I'm also reading Alan Colmes' latest book, Thank the Liberals (for Saving America, and why you should). Reading it is like a cool breeze on a hot day.  I know that some libs are not exactly "enamored" of this "liberal" Colmes, but I suppose he had to tone it down a little while he was on Fox's Hannity and Colmes, in the lion's den.  Or perhaps while he was in the skunk's lair?  In the book, he lets it all hang out.

Alan calls himself a liberal first, and a Democrat second.  I feel the same way.  Just because someone is a Democrat doesn't make them a good person.  Probably better than the Republican, but still...

Alan gives little blurbs - talking points, if you will - at the end of each chapter.  I think I will transcribe them here.  After all, repetition is key.

A Little Help To Fight The Right

All Americans are liberals; American conservative is an oxymoron. (perhaps you should read the book)

America was founded on liberal ideas, as outlined in the liberal Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence.

A religion-free, representative government, checks and balances, a civilian-run military, and no concentration of power in nobility are liberal ideas that separated the United States from the motherland.

The Constitution isn't based on the Bible, but rather on English Common Law, which we expanded upon because it didn't go far enough for the liberal founders of America.

Conservatives' views often don't comport with their personal actions.

Those who rail against homosexuality and abortion tend to have different views when they face these issues in their personal lives.

Anti-immigration proponents aren't strict in checking papers of all those who perform services in their lives.

Actual life experience changes the way you look at life; both age and life's dramas can shift views.

American and Liberal are practically synonyms.

excerpted from Thank the Liberals, by Alan Colmes.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Fighting Chance

I've been reading Elizabeth Warren's latest book, "A Fighting Chance," but I had to return it to the library before I could finish it.  Yeah, cheap, cheap. I think I'll buy it to support her.

She paints a clear picture of what is going on today, and while it is clear, it ain't pretty.  If her book is any guide, I would say she would make a fine President.  I'm sorry, but Hillary has too much baggage.  I have no doubt that the rightwingnuts would attack Elizabeth mercilessly, like they have attacked Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, but you can't let that certainty stop you.  They will trash anyone, regardless, with lies, half-truths, innuendos and ignorance while their minions lap it up.

Elizabeth recently published a list of "Commandments."  Or, maybe somebody published it on her behalf.  Whichever, she has not disavowed the list.  See if you agree with her.

"We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we're willing to fight for it." 

"We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth." 

"We believe that the Internet shouldn't be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality." 

"We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage." 

"We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them." 

"We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt." 

"We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions." 

"We believe—I can't believe I have to say this in 2014—we believe in equal pay for equal work." 

"We believe that equal means equal, and that's true in marriage, it's true in the workplace, it's true in all of America." 

"We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform." 

"And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!" 

And the main tenet of conservatives' philosophy, according to Warren? "I got mine. The rest of you are on your own." 


Sunday, July 20, 2014

James Garner

We lost another good one in James Garner, but there are many more good liberals in the pipeline.  The righwingnuts may try to demonize liberalism till the cows come home, but it won't work.  America is a liberal nation and liberalism is deeply ingrained in the fabric of this country.

James Garner: An Appreciation Of A Liberal

The media is awash today in memorials to James Garner, who died at his Los Angeles home Saturday at the age of 86.  Remembrances tend to focus on his long television and film career, particularly his famous turn as L.A. detective Jim Rockford. But as is so often the case with Hollywood stars of an earlier era, there was a much more important side to James Garner that tends to be overlooked: his commitment to progressive values and politics.
Garner once said, “I’m a ‘bleeding-heart liberal,’ one of those card-carrying Democrats that Rush Limbaugh thinks is a communist. And I’m proud of it.”
James Bumgarner was born in Norman, Oklahoma, one-quarter Cherokee, descended on both sides from the original “Boomers” and “Sooners.” During the Great Depression, James’ father ran a country store in Denver, Oklahoma, with five residents: James and his family.
The family was poor. His mother died while James was 4, and his father and step-mother were abusive. His father beat James and his brothers, and whenever James misbehaved his step-mother, “Red,” made him wear a dress and answer to the name, “Louise.” The abuse came to a head at age 14 when finally he refused to put up with Red’s abuse and nearly killed her. Domestic violence marked him for life; as he wrote in his memoir, The Garner Files, having “been on the wrong end of violence” convinced him to:
…refuse to glorify violence in my movie and television roles. The characters I’ve played, especially Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford, almost never use a gun, and they always try to use their wits instead of their fists.
In 1945, at the age of 16, Garner lied about his age and enlisted in the Merchant Marine. After training in Florida, he served aboard a seagoing tugboat operating out of New Orleans. He quit after two months, a victim of chronic seasickness. For the next few years, he bummed around Los Angeles, living with his Aunt Grace, a “domineering soul” who “decided I should be an actor.” An indifferent student at Hollywood High, the 6′ 3″ Garner earned more money than his teachers by modeling for the Jantzen swimsuit company. Kicked out of school for truancy, he went back to Norman and played football at Norman High. While there, he became the first man from Oklahoma drafted for the Korean War.
James Garner in Korea (front row, left)
After Basic Training at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, in the suburbs north of Chicago, Garner was assigned to the 5th Regimental Combat Team of the 24th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.  As he wrote, the 5th RCT was considered “a ‘colored’ regiment, because it had a large percentage of Hawaiians and Asian Americans.”
Garner saw hard combat in Korea in 1951, during the first Chinese offensive in the war. His unit was among the first to engage the Chinese Communist Forces (CCF), falling back against heavy odds near Kumhwa, in what came to be known as the Iron Triangle. Garner recalled, “the Red Chinese shot us to pieces” in a battle the Army’s own account described as “the most bitter close-combat struggle Americans have participated in since the Civil War.”  Garner was wounded twice, the second time from friendly fire. He and a South Korean soldier found themselves cut off behind enemy lines, eluding both Chinese and North Korean forces. Like the abuse of his childhood, the violence of war left a deep scar and influenced Garner’s later performances. Later in life, Garner would work to ensure Korean War veterans received the recognition they’d earned.
After his Army discharge, Garner returned to L.A. where he ran into a friend from Oklahoma, Paul Gregory, who had become an agent and producer. Gregory cast Garner in a non-speaking role in the Broadway production of “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial,” directed byDick Powell and starring Henry Fonda in the role of naval lawyer Barney Greenwald. The play ran for a year at the Plymouth Theater on West 45th Street. It was Garner’s acting school, with Fonda as headmaster.
James Garner in his first role (1954)
From that modest start, Garner quickly moved on to commercials, contract television work, and films. Replacing Charlton Heston as the title character in Darby’s Rangers (1958), he had his first starring role. His television series, Maverick, was a hit. He was living the Hollywood dream, with a fat bank account and a new Corvette. But Garner held true to his liberal values. His character, Bret Maverick, treated Native Americans with respect and rejected violence. Though often described as an anti-hero, Garner played Maverick as “a reluctanthero, [someone] who’ll come to your aid if there’s injustice” — rather like Garner himself. He was one of the first performers to take on the studio system and its abusive labor practices, suing Warner Bros. over the terms of his contract.
In 1962, while filming The Great Escape in Germany, Garner witnessed a student protest get put down by the police in an early example of what would be called a “police riot” at the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention.  Mounted German police “waded in…swinging their nightsticks…beating and arresting defenseless kids.” Garner himself was assaulted by a police officer and, to his later regret, told a nearby reporter, “What I’ve witnessed here reminds me what it must have been like under the Nazis.” Threatened with deportation and fearful of hurting the film production, Garner “issued an apology — but I didn’t mean it.” Garner had no use for those who used their power to abuse others.
On the set, Garner got along well with nearly all of his co-stars, including Steve McQueen — though there was one point of contention between the two: “Steve was a Republican.” Garner forgave McQueen his partisan ways, however, because McQueen “somehow made Nixon’s enemies list, an honor I would have given anything to have achieved.” On the other hand, Garner despised Charles Bronson. Bronson, born Charles Buchinsky, had been wounded as a B-29 tail-gunner during World War II. Bronson, Garner wrote, “used and abused people, and I didn’t like it.”
Garner’s favorite role of his career was Lieutenant Commander Charlie Madison, an admiral’s “dog robber” (or scrounger) in London during World War II in The Americanization of Emily (1964).  Madison is content to serve well behind the lines, not because he’s actually cowardly but because he’s already lost a brother at Anzio and has a younger brother full of the mythology of war who is aching to join up — experiences that have caused him to rethink what war really is.
The Americanization of Emily (1964)
The film was written by Paddy Chayefsky, who was wounded by a land mine in 1945 while on patrol near Aachen, Germany, directed by Arthur Hiller, who’d served as a bomber navigator with the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII, and also starred Melvyn Douglas, who served in both World War I and II.  It reflected Garner’s own distaste for the glorification of violence. As Garner later wrote, “we’d all witnessed the kind of insanity portrayed in the film that cost people their lives.”  In one memorable scene, Charlie Madison denounces the easy militarism of a society that redefines sacrifice as valor:
I don’t trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham. It’s always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a hell it is. It’s always the war widows who lead the Memorial Day parades. … We shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or all the other banal bogeys. It’s the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers. The rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widow’s weeds like nuns, Mrs. Barham, and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices … Maybe ministers and generals who blunder us into wars, Mrs. Barham, but the least the rest of us can do is to resist honoring the institution.
Yet even that didn’t sit comfortably with Garner’s values. He recognized that simply by making films about war, “I contributed to the problem by buying into the whole glorification of war thing.” Though The Americanization of Emily was his favorite film, he recognized that “unfortunately, it hasn’t put war out of style.”
Garner took his convictions seriously and put his mouth where his money could have been: he was part of the August 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the rally where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. To Garner, it was a no-brainer: “I didn’t think it was right that a hundred years after…the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans still didn’t have basic rights of citizenship.”
James Garner, Marlon Brando, and James Baldwin at the March on Washington
Garner marched with others from the entertainment industry, including Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Ossie Davis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Blake Edwards, Lena Horne, Paul Newman, Sam Peckinpah, Sidney Poitier, and Joanne Woodward. The Hollywood group was led (ironically, in retrospect) by Charlton Heston, who was then President of the Screen Actor’s Guild. Garner was dismissive of Heston, who seemed uncommitted to the cause. Heston had “threatened to bail out of the march if we did any ‘militant’ stuff.” A year later, Heston was working for Barry Goldwater.
For Garner, the civil rights movement was just one part of a life-long fight. He said, “civil rights is a matter of conscience.” And he had no use for those who criticize celebrities for speaking out. He believed it was not only his right to speak, but his responsibility, because “if my celebrity draws extra attention to the cause, all the better.”
Though Garner cast his first vote for president for Eisenhower in 1952, thinking “we needed a strong military man in there,” he quickly recognized the error of his ways: “Never voted Republican again. I don’t understand the conservative way of thinking.” He was asked by both the Republican and Democratic parties to run for office; in 1990, the Democrats asked him to run for Governor of California. When asked about his position on abortion, he replied, “I don’t have an opinion, because that’s up to the woman. It has nothing to do with me.” Told he couldn’t say something like that in a campaign, he replied, “It’s how I feel, and I’m not going to say anything else.” That was the end of his would-be political career. He couldn’t compromise his values.
It was just as well. Garner had little use for actors-turned-politician:
Too many actors have run for office. There’s one difference between me and them: I know I’m not qualified. Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t qualified to be governor of California. Ronald Reagan wasn’t qualified to be governor, let alone President. I was a vice president of the Screen Actors Guild when he was its president… Ronnie never had an original thought. We had to tell him what to say. That’s no way to run a union, let alone a country.
James Garner was passionate about the political. Whether it was opposing militarism, marching for civil rights, or, later in his life, fighting to “prevent oil drilling along the Southern California coast and to stop logging in Northern California forests,” Garner did more than just talk. Though it would have been easy — perhaps even understandable — for him to simply write checks and say the necessary things on television, throughout his life Garner took action in the name of his values. His conscience — and his values — could accept nothing less.
R.I.P. James Garner: Liberal, and proud of it.