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Youth Climate Strike – Phoenix

March 16th, 2019 No comments

The Kids Are All right

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A couple hundred mostly young folks gathered on the State Capitol lawn in Phoenix yesterday as part of the Youth Climate Strike.

Let’s hope their movement continues to grow and expand beyond traditional tactics and challenge people to pursue more radical direct actions (e.g. see: Extinction Rebellion Week). Wouldn’t a real national general strike be awesome? If people shut down the economy, it would force policymakers to respond.

The message was that policymakers had denied or failed to respond to the climate crisis and that their generation – which will bear the brunt of the impacts – would rise to the challenge.

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Many called for a Green New Deal. I suggested that they consider the history, politics, and policy of the original New Deal – including the pressure from organized labor and the left (including the Communist Party) that drove that compromise with capitalism.

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I was impressed by the maturity, commitment and organization evidenced by the event.

Speakers included a State Senator Juan Menendez who railed against defenders of the status quo and urged folks to challenge his legislative colleagues and pressure them for real climate policies:

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and Arizona Sierra Club Director Sandy Bahr, who focused on solutions.

sorry Sandy, I missed this shot!

sorry Sandy, I missed this shot!

Here’s a shot of the scene:

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Tucson Festival Of Books

March 15th, 2019 No comments
Books, panel discussions, music, food - good times

Books, panel discussions, music, food – good times

Just a quick note with photos of this year’s Tucson Festival of Books

We had a great time there last year, but this year, not so much.

The politics have changed significantly, and my perception was that the Festival and the Panelists had not kept pace.

This was the first year that Noam Chomsky was a professor at the University of Arizona and appeared on a panel.

I’ll expand upon all that and my reactions in s future post. Just some shots of what I saw for now:

Waffles

Waffles

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FEMA FLAYS MURPHY DEP STORMWATER PROPOSAL

March 12th, 2019 No comments

FEMA: Flawed Rules Lead To More Flooding and Water Pollution

FEMA: DEP fails to address climate change risks and impacts

FEMA Echoes and Validates Our Criticism

Groundhog Day

In a January 31, 2019 letter (h/t Jeff Tittel, Sierra Club) the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) submitted harsh criticism of the Murphy DEP’s proposed new stormwater management rules.

FEMA described the DEP’s stormwater rules as

an important defense in preventing the exacerbation of the state’ most devastating risk: flooding.

FEMA prefaced their harsh criticism by noting that the federal government had expended more than $2.7 billion in NJ, thereby clearly linking federal funding to DEP’s lax regulatory policies:

Coastal and riverine post-disaster support to New Jersey through Public Assistance and theHazard Mitigation Grant Program is nearly $2.7 billion to date- this does not include non-disaster funding through the Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs. These sizable contributions are indicative of New Jersey’s great exposure to flood risk.

The writing on the wall is obvious: NJ should not expect the federal FEMA gravy train to continue unless NJ strengthens their regulatory framework to reduce flood risks.

Meanwhile, instead of strengthening DEP’s flawed regulations, the Murphy administration has not only weakened current regulations, but also engaged in a distraction: a so called “coastal resilience” initiative. That sham initiative is the Murphy administration’s choice over far superior alternative policy frameworks, including: a Coastal Commission; State GHG emissions mitigation/climate adaptation planning and regulation; or a comprehensive set of enforceable DEP regulations (CAFRA, stormwater, Flood Hazard Act, C1, et al).

Repeating a disturbing pattern of news management, the Murphy DEP issued another cynical and diversionary press release today on “coastal resilience” grants, cynically in the hope of diverting media focus from the FEMA criticism.

In a prior egregious episode of similar news management, we noted:

The McCabe DEP press release was issued the same day that McCabe was personally slammed in a Newark Star Ledger editorial and harshly criticized again in testimony later that morning in a Senate legislative hearing on illegal disposal of “dirty dirt” (see S1683). That DEP press release was a blatant diversion to cover up McCabe’s own serious failures.

Sadly, that DEP news management diversion may work. The press is extremely weak on regulatory issues and the so called environmental advocates are in the tank with the Murphy administration.

The DEP isn’t the only one ignoring these major flaws in regulations – the press repeatedly has failed to hold DEP accountable. The latest example of that media failure is today’s NJ Spotlight story, which again focuses on flawed US ACE engineering approaches to the coastal zone, instead of the major risks and flaws flagged by FEMA and environmentally superior and cost effective alternatives, like a Coastal Commission or DEP regulations.

FEMA flagged many significant and fatal flaws in the DEP proposal: (emphasis mine)

 To highlight, FEMA finds that the abandonment of the nonstructural stormwater management in design and the absence of restrictions in the increase in runoff volume post-development to be significant deficiencies. FEMA is also concerned that the proposed rule does not consider future conditions of increasingly intense precipitation that is expected with climate change. The use of the term Green Infrastructure will not offset the proposed changes to the nonstructural stormwater management strategies and the multiple missed opportunities to reduce riverine and urban flooding impacts.

Wow! FEMA found “significant deficiencies”. FEMA noted that the green infrastructure cover slogan “will not offset” the rollbacks!.

Let’s repeat that – THE DEP PROPOSAL:

does not consider future conditions of increasingly intense precipitation that is expected with climate change. 

You rarely get that kind of strong criticism from a federal regulatory agency. That should give folks a sense of just how bad the DEP proposal is.

FEMA also blasted these fatal flaws:

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FEMA saved the best for last, and blasted DEP’s failure to consider current science and address climate change increased rainfall:

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What ever happened to the DEP policy to begin to regulate based on the 500 year storm event to address climate change, see:

“It’s extremely significant,’’ said Bill Wolfe, director of the New Jersey chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, who first reported the changes on his blog, wolfenotes.com. “It will make a difference.’’

Is DEP Commissioner McCabe even aware of this? If so, why did she sign off on such a clearly deficient – and technically inconsistent – rule proposal?

FEMA criticized many of the same issues were wrote about in this December 14, 2018 post, including failure to address climate change, lack of numeric enforceable water quality standards, and repeal of current nonstructural stormwater management requirements:

The only solution at this point in time is for DEP to rescind the proposal – there is no time to simply allow it to expire after one year – and go back to the drawing board and start over on a proposal that addresses FEMA criticism.

Folks, it’s Groundhog Day again:

Here’s what we warned the public, over 12 years ago, – 6 years before Sandy – on September 25, 2006:

JERSEY SHORE HIGHLY VULNERABLE TO STORMS AND SEA LEVEL RISE

Numerous scientific studies and NJDEP Reports show that the over-developed NJ shore is increasingly vulnerable to hurricane and storm related wind, storm surge, and flooding damage. Those risks are magnified by the effects of global warming induced sea level rise. NJ already is among the worst states in the nation for payouts on repeat claims under the federal flood insurance program. While risks are great and growing, DEP’s own studies show that public awareness is low, and local and state disaster planning and emergency response capabilities are woefully inadequate.

Despite these significant risks, continued over-development, particularly in known high hazard areas along the shore, puts more people and property in harms way, greatly increasing not only risks to life and property. The probability is increasing for a catastrophic coastal storm event that would cause huge economic dislocation.

We repeated that warning in a November 16, 2009 post – 3 years before Sandy –  where we excerpt text from DEP’s own Coastal Management Strategy, science and policy that they repeatedly ignored and failed to enforce. Read what DEP’s federally approved Coastal Zone Management plan actually says (you won’t read it in the press or hear it whispered from lips of NJ’s lame coastal advocates):

Titus demonstrates (link) that in certain instances, structural engineering solutions will not be practical or economically feasible. In these cases future public and private development and redevelopment must be directed away from the hazardous areas. While some derogatorily refer to this option as “retreat,” from the perspective of sound planning based on the best available science, the concept actually involves “strategic adjustment.” Prudent planning requires that we expand upon the existing studies of the societal, economic, and environmental costs of possible mitigative actions while the greatest number of alternatives exist.

The state’s coastal area continues to experience substantial seasonal and residential population increases. Conversion of formerly seasonal homes to year-round residences continues unabated. In many instances, formerly modest houses are replaced with significantly more expensive homes while property values continue to escalate.


At the same time, risks associated with coastal hazards continue to increase. Factors such as escalating sea level rise and cyclical and possibly long-term increases in storm frequency and intensity threaten both the natural environment and built environment of New Jersey’s coast. Consequently, the ranking of the Coastal Hazards Section 309 enhancement area remains a high priority with the NJCMP. [end excerpt – link to complete DEP document below]

Ironically, the houses in the photographs in that post were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, including the summer house of one of my best friends.

So, in light of these mounting risks and DEP’ abject failures, where are the coastal advocacy groups?

They are safely “in the room”, posing as “stakeholders” in DEP’s sham coastal resilience initiative, kissing Gov. Murphy and DEP Commissioner McCabe’s ass,  and seeking more DEP grant funding for their organizations.

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The Box-Car Elders

March 11th, 2019 No comments

Why I Loath Fake Cosmopolitans 

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When I was in first grade and learning to love reading, my favorite series of books was “The Box-Car Children” (1924 edition).

I can’t tell you how much I loved reading these stories.

For a kid from a troubled home who chafed against social control and authority – and loved old broken down rusty things and outdoor adventure – they were pure joy. Pure joy.

On reflection after 50 years, this love was was based on how those kids lived independently and creatively in the outdoors, using and repurposing old materials and not abiding by social norms – what we might now call “do it yourself” “back to the land” “radical” “self sufficiency”.

These kids scavenged materials and built and decorated their own home. They planted and scavenged their own food. They were removed from and had no need for society and social norms and social controls.

They loved each other.

They had independence, a sense of aesthetics, and clear ethics.

When I was a kid – the grandson of an IWW “Wobblie” and a prohibition bootlegger – growing up in the early 1960’s in a small working class backwater neighborhood called “Glenville”, in an historic Hudson riverfront town called Tarrytown, whether we knew it or not, we all idealized these kids.

We would explore the woods, stay out till dark, build forts, rafts, and go-carts from scavenged materials, camp out and make fires, walk the railroad tracks, and explore old ramshackle abandoned buildings and ruins.

We didn’t yet know anything about Tom Sawyer’s opposition to “civilizing forces” and Tom and Huck Finn’s adventure’s in “lighting out for the territory”.

No, we just lived our own real lives in the places we called home.

In hindsight, I can see, long before I read about Tom Sawyer, how these Box-Car stories not only strongly shaped my youth, but my current life, and living off the grid in an old school bus.

But now, I’m supposed to believe that I was just duped. That this was all just bullshit.

I’m supposed to believe, based on the rantings of some faux cosmopolitan self anointed twenty something  Neoliberal feminist blogger from the New Yorker, that the meaning of all this Box-Car story stuff was not about radical anarchist self sufficiency, but really about capitalist indoctrination and inculcation of a Puritan work ethic, see:

Well, I say: fuck that shit.

I laid back and said nothing after another one of my heroes, Atticus Finch, was destroyed (by his own creator, no less!).

So, I’m going on offense and personally attacking  the author of this revisionist bullshit.

Does this woman look like she has a clue about genuine self sufficient life that these Box-Car kids lived?

That she ever slept on the ground or scavenged for rusty old shit?

Or has any kind of  genuine life at all?

Or any capacity to understand the situation and life force of our beloved “box-car children”?

Take a close look at her. This is how she chose to portray and promote herself.

Everything is fake – a prop – a facade. A Potemkin life.

The neatly stacked books on the shelf. The clean coffee table. The “world” modernist world map behind the couch. The colors. The neatly arranged pillow. The purportedly open book or magazine text on the sanitized coffee table. Showing a little leg and trying to show non-existent cleavage. And with that dog, no less?

The woman is a total fraud:

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Fuck you and the fake blogging faux feminist plastic shit you rode into New York on.

Now, I feel a lot better. Some things really piss me off.

Cruelly and falsely blowing up childhood – and adult – myths is one of them (and for career interest over human reality).

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The View From Tonto National Forest

March 9th, 2019 No comments

Pictures and Politics

that's tiny town of Roosevelt Az. below.

that’s tiny town of Roosevelt Az. below.

I’m now in Tonto National Forest on a ridge just above the tiny town of Roosevelt Arizona.

Incredible views. The map tells me that is the Salt River, but it looks too wide and more like a lake formed by a dam from here. We’ll have to check that out. [Update: It is Teddy Roosevelt Lake – very low water level, muddy, suspect high salt content, and loaded with brush along shore. Bouy did not enjoy his brief swim.]

Skoolie - should I name her "Climate Chaos" or "Green New Deal"? We need a logo!

Skoolie – should I name her “Climate Chaos” or “Green New Deal”? We need a logo!

Yesterday we walked along the Gila River in the Mescal Mountains, just southwest of here. Despite a low muddy flow (and just 6-10 feet wide), that is an awesome river, after a month in the desert. Bouy immediately went for a swim.

The Bus is a huge improvement over the van. I can stay in a place for 5-6 days and relax. Cooking meals is an incredible improvement, enabled by propane, stove, solar, and refrigerator. Milk in coffee! Scrambled eggs! Butter! No need to buy ice all the time to keep the beer cold in the cooler (beer, not water, is now my limiting factor).

And, to offset my prior book only reading capability, I managed to find a device that gives me Wi-Fi in the bus 24/7 and unlimited data. It cost $70/month, but it is well worth it in terms of reducing my costs (and carbon footprint) far more than that. Staying in one place reduces my gas costs, book purchases, and restaurants.

And I get Pacifica (KPFA), NPR, BBC news and music! So the Wi-Fi more than pays for itself.

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On the political front, I just came across an excellent debate.

It’s somewhat old (in terms of publishing), and I was aware of Nancy Fraser’s analysis (i.e. “Progressive Neoliberalism”), but I was not aware that she was engaged and responded back in a 3 part debate in Dissent.

Here’s Fraser’s reply to her opponent – really good stuff and I agree with Fraser, who I find to have the most cogent analysis and valuable strategic advice (it has links to original and rebuttal):

In my view, the Sanders option remains the only principled and winning strategy in the era of Trump. To those who are now mobilizing under the banner of “resistance,” I suggest the counter-project of “course correction.” Whereas the first suggests a doubling down on progressive-neoliberalism’s definition of “us” (progressives) versus “them” (Trump’s “deplorable” supporters), the second means redrawing the political map—by forging common cause among allwhom his administration is set to betray: not just the immigrants, feminists, and people of color who voted against him, but also the rust-belt and Southern working-class strata who voted for him. Contra Brenner, the point is not to dissolve “identity politics” into “class politics.” It is to clearly identify the shared roots of class and status injustices in financialized capitalism, and to build alliances among those who must join together to fight against both of them.

The Dems must navigate these issues of race, sex, and class to defeat Trump – thus far, it looks like Sanders is doing a very good job of that. Bernie keeps the focus where it belongs: (Gilens and Benjamin)

“economic elites & groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”

Here’s another good piece, that focuses on the history of white identity politics, with great excerpts from DuBois:

“The race element was emphasized in order that property-holders could get the support of the majority of white laborers and make it more possible to exploit Negro labor,” Du Bois explained in Black Reconstruction, his magnum opus on the conditions of race and class in the U.S. following the Civil War. He added, “But the race philosophy came as a new and terrible thing to make labor unity or labor class-consciousness impossible. So long as the Southern white laborers could be induced to prefer poverty to equality with the Negro, just so long was a labor movement in the South made impossible.”

We done! Hope you made it this far. We’re back to our easy chair:

Help me, help me, help me sail away
Well give me two good reasons why I oughta stay
‘Cause I love to live so pleasantly
Live this life of luxury
Lazing on a sunny afternoon
In the summertime. ~~~ The Kinks

room with a view

room with a view

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