I have been working this past year on street politics issues with the City of Olympia. One aspect of this work has been a push to get public bathrooms available in the downtown core. There has been recurring commentary about the use of the downtown alleys for urination and defecation. A relatively simple solution to the problem to the extent that it exists is to make sure that public bathrooms are available in the downtown area, especially after hours. There are issues with security, maintenance, etc, but this is not rocket science, we can address these issues if the community makes a choice to have bathrooms available in downtown Olympia. We were able to get the bathrooms at Heritage opened 24/7 when Occupy Olympia negotiated to move from Sylvester to Heritage, but that was only a partial and temporary solution. We need bathrooms throughout the downtown where folks can relieve themselves and we need a free comfort station where showers and hot water are available for folks who do not have access to 3 bedrooms and 2 baths in their rambler existence.
Here is the frame: In 1972 a bunch of computer nerds were commissioned by the Club of Rome to complete computer modeling of finite resources, rates of consumption and population growth. The output was a book called The Limits to Growth. It caused a bit of a stir because the computer modeling predicted that global economic collapse and precipitous population decline could occur by 2030. Wikipedia has a pretty well referenced page on the The Limits to Growth.
The original study was criticized by lots of folks who thought that growth could somehow become sustainable, that more resources would be found, etc. The methodology was criticized. This study was not popular with economic growth globalists.
The Limits to Growth has been revisited on a number of occasions. Most recently an Australian physicist named Graham Turner completed a thirty year look back at the computer modeling and Turner's study is published at The Smithsonian. This kind of thing is like disneyland for nerds. Graphs, charts, all sorts of variables to argue about. It's a wonderland for slide rule afficionados. Needless to say, it's hard to present on CNN, MSNBC, BBC in a way that has gets the message across.
We do have options in the next election.
Lots of coverage of the republican primaries out there. Few signs of intelligent life in that pile of smoking offal. Going to move on. There must be more important stuff going on.
Oh, here we go: Chris Hedges has a good piece in Truth Dig about the NDAA - National Defense Authorization Act - and what a dangerous piece of legislation the NDAA truly is. Like the presidential authority to use drone weaponry to assassinate US citizens or our "enemies" anywhere in the world, this NDAA piece of legislation may look less scary to some in the hands of President Obama (I don't know why that is? He's pretty aggressive.) than it might look in the hands of a President Palin, but once presidential authority is asserted, it is seldom relinquished, so you have to look ahead at how the NDAA would work with President Santorum or the like. I don't like. Indefinite military detention.
It seems likely to me that the Supreme Court Inc. will break out 5 to 4 to scuttle as much of the President Obama's health care program as possible, perhaps all of it. This is a pyrrhic victory for the opponents of Obama, but may not be all that bad a thing for those of us who think that health care reform based on private insurance and fee for service profitability has always been a poor choice. The anemic public option that might have kept a foot in the door for the better single payer (Medicare for Everyone) option was dropped by the even more anemic Democratic Party when they were pressed by the Republicans.
Robert Scheer hits the mark in my estimation with his article: Five Hypocrites and One Bad Plan that ran at Truth Dig. I think that the five justices in question are simply adhering the hypocritic oath and performing true to form.
Paul Krugman came out today with his view that the 5 right justices would seize on any argument that would allow them to strike down progressive legislation, and if that is true, then maybe it would not have mattered if health care reform had included a public option.
What do you think? Are the Supremes going to strike it down? Cast your votes and predict the score. I am going with the easy prediction: 5 to 4 to strike the law down.
I know there is a lot of talk about how hard it is to start a third political party and there is no doubt that the talk is true. Large political swings that realign the political parties in the US are rare, but the political history of the US is about the swings. Whigs and Tories, Bull Moose and Know Nothing parties. These things come and go and right now we have the appearance of a two party system: the dems on the left and the repubs on the right, but the truth is that we have dems in center/right and the repubs in right to hard right.
There is no significant left party in the US, only the 25 to 30% of us who identify as left/progressives/liberals/social democrats etc. and we are left to rail at the dem party to move left and lead the country with good public policy that works for all of us. The dem party leaders provide lip service, then do the bidding of the large political contributors - the deciders, the haves and have-mores who control the political agenda of the dem and repub party. Don't kid yourself about that. Just look at the need to provide Medicare for Everyone, a national health insurance policy that could/would have left the insurance industry scrambling to compete for Medigap insurance coverage, but instead we could not even get a public option, we got Health Insurance for Everyone - The Pay Up health care system doubled down on us.
For folks who have not been present at non-violent demonstrations it may be helpful to understand that the original black block is the riot police who come out and assault non-violent demonstrators in a wholesale fashion.
Some pretty peaceful and peace-loving folks have been assaulted by the police.
Some of you may know Dorli Rainey from Seattle who was pepper sprayed during Occupy events. Dorli was 82 years old when she got pepper sprayed.
She is spry and spunky, but I think it's a hard sell to convince a reasonable person that Dorli could look dangerous to a heavily armored police officer. So this is the backdrop for the tactic known as the black bloc. There are a lot of reasonable critiques of the black bloc. The most persuasive to me is the potential for police infiltration, for agent provocateurs to join the black bloc and to then commit an act of property destruction that will trigger a violent peace riot. There is also the opportunity for a genuine black bloc participant to choose unnecessary violence and/or property destruction that will trigger a violent street riot.