Sunday, May 21, 2017

Do Trees Have Politics?

After reading The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, this writer will never again be able to look at trees in the same way. But my politics remain unchanged. Trees offer the human (if we can call it that) race a planet-old reminder: no matter how fierce the competition, survival depends on communal organization! (That means us too.)

Darwin once famously quipped: Trees have their brains on the bottom and their sex on top. Perhaps that makes trees much more thoughtful beings than humans. For one thing, they limit their reproductive abilities: each tree, because of the exquisite balance of the forest ecosystem, reproduces itself only once each mast year, despite releasing into the environment as many as billions of seeds in the years it decides to blossom and fruit. (The year trees “decide” to fruit is referred to as a mast year.) And a community of forest trees “decides” unanimously what that year will be. In this story, there is an interplay of weather, sunlight, predators (deer and wild boar) and pests (fungi and bacteria). All are necessary, indicating that when humans attempt to make things “better,” the delicate balance of nature is disrupted, to the detriment of the entire ecosystem.  Forests are best left undisturbed. The political implications are vast: countries (I am thinking of Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and others) are best left undisturbed.


In my recently published Apology to a Whale, I quoted Wintu matriarch, Kate Luckie:
When the Indians all die, then God will let the water come down from the north. Everyone will drown. That is because the White people never cared for land or deer or bear…. The White people plow up the ground, pull up the trees, kill everything. The tree says, “Don’t. I am sore. Don’t hurt me….” The Indians never hurt anything, but the White people destroy all…How can the spirit of the earth like the White man..? Everywhere the White man has touched, it is sore.

Yes. Trees feel pain, but their “nerve” impulses travel much more slowly than ours, only 1/3 of an inch per minute because trees live in the very slow lane.  It may take them as many as 120 years to reach puberty. But unfailingly, they (like animals) take care of their young!  Yes. Tree mothers nourish their offspring with sugar transfusions until they are old enough to make it on their own. They do this by a nervous system which co-exists in a colonial arrangement (much like the Portuguese man of war): tree cells coexist with the cells of mycorrhizal fungi which connect their roots, the forest’s fiber-optic cable system (yes, Darwin had a point). (A curious question might arise if we speculated that human brain cells co-exist with other human cells in a similarly colonial arrangement). One teaspoon of dirt contains many miles of such fungal fibers. And some of these fungal systems occupy many square miles. As such, they are the largest living beings on earth, infinitely larger than the largest mammals.


Not only do tree mothers nourish their own species, but depending on the delicate balance of sugars in their blood streams, because of intra species communication, trees of divergent species can exchange nutrients. In this way, the forest thrives because it requires the participation of every living being in its ecosystem—reminding us that there exists no other silver bullet than community organizing, and community resistance in a united front to successfully resist all invading pests, whether fungi and bacteria or our own toxic political systems.


Lots of Lovely Flowers amidst this week’s thorns

None of these victories could have been won without YOUR resistance.

Blackfeet Nation to control its own waters after 35-year-long battle.

Chelsea Manning was released this week. History will mark her as one of this country ‘s foremost she-roes for all she revealed.

Texas Senate unanimously passes Sandra Bland Act, for criminal justice reform.

Louisiana to reduce its prison population down from 8% of its citizens.

Baltimore Action Legal Team partners with a coalition of racial and criminal justice organizations across the country to bail out mamas on Black Mama’s Bailout Day.

New York State beats California in being the first to pass Medicare for all bill.

Healthy California Act now on its way to the Senate Appropriations Committee as California advances another step towards single payer health care.

North Carolina’s voter ID law bites the dust.

Financial Times declares that alternatives are already the winners in energy’s future, with fossils taking a back seat.

Sweden drops rape charges ag. Julian Assange, but he still faces harassment from harassers-in-chief, the UK and US.

Veterans for Peace to march In DC on Memorial Day with their message: Peace at home, and peace abroad.

Long-time Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera is freed to return home to Chicago and the movement.

Ex-prisoner and addict, Susan Burton founds housing movement for incarcerated women.

Special prosecutor Mueller is assigned to investigate Russia/Trump ties, but surprise, Mueller has ties to the deep state.

Utilities losing customers as California mulls retail electricity choice.

Walmart agrees to reduce carbon footprint of its suppliers by one billion metric tons.

Attempt to repeal anti-fracking law fails in the Senate.


Earlier this year, activists and their elected officials began moving $5.4 billion out of banks invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). As you know, Trump ordered the pipeline built and oil is now flowing - and leaking. So we’re demanding that banks divest, not just from DAPL but from all the dirty pipelines transporting climate pollution throughout North America.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Originally Mother’s Day was intended by Julia Ward Howe to be a day in which women and all people would unite to bring peace into the world. This Mother’s Day, you, too, can act up for peace by signing on to Tulsi Gabbard’s bill H.R. 608,  the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act.” By clicking on the link, you can read the bill, and sign the petition (on the right side of the screen) that asks you to add your voice.

Many people are unaware that in order to extend war and war profiteering, the USA is arming and training the very terrorists it is supposedly fighting throughout the Middle East.

H.R. 608, and the Senate companion bill (S. 532) are designed to end funding for all U.S. wars in Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya, and end the training of ISIL, ISIS, Al-Nusrah, and Al-Qaida terrorists in Jordan and elsewhere. It makes little difference to war profiteers whether the US “wins” or “loses” in any and all zones of conflict, so long as the money keeps rolling in.

We need to draw people’s attention to the fact that if we factor in the “black” budget, the US budget allocates over 60% to war and warmaking, reducing entitlement allocations to Third World amounts (one of the reasons universal health care remains “unaffordable.”) We also need to make the connection between the Pentagon and global warming. US warmaking accelerates climate collapse by burning 340,000 barrels of oil a day, 80% of federal energy demand, in a vicious circle to “secure” (read: steal) more oil.

One of the reasons the peace movement has lost some of its muscle has to do with the betrayals of language itself. Peace is not an active word. Is there an active word for peace? If we borrow “wage peace,” we are using the war maker’s language.  A better alternative might be ACTING UP FOR PEACE.   

You, too can Act Up for Peace by going to the H.R. 608 website and adding your voice to its nine House of Representative sponsors, and the nine organizations that support it.


Support national Mama’s Bail Out Day. Color of Change in collaboration with many other organizations to bail out women caged behind bars who have only been accused of minor offenses, but not found guilty. The reason they are still in jail is because they are too poor to afford bail.

Please donate to make the reuniting of these women with their families visible and to demand an end to modern-day debtors prisons. And please sign the petition of support.



Environmental groups sue administration over offshore drilling.

After a four-day-long student sit-in, Chancellor  Henry Yang agrees to discuss UC’s divestment from fossil fuels.

Unanimous Los Angeles City Council passes resolution calling for impeachment investigation for violation of the emoluments clause.

Los Angeles school board passes resolution reiterating that school employees are not to allow any ICE on campus until the superintendent and toplawyers review the policy.

At the eleventh hour, Georgia democrats win lawsuit changing the election rules allowing voter registration to be extended.

Senate kills Trump’s plan to hand over public lands to big oil.

A total of twenty attorneys general demand immediate appointment of special prosecutor for Russia probe.

Tiny Town in the Iowa heartland creates its own homegrown sanctuary.

Winnipeg models car sharing linking housing and transportation.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Why Voting Won't Save Us, And Why It's Time For A Women's Strike

Republished from Went 2 the Bridge

What to do with so much egregious government to respond to? In Maine we have a legislature in session that is attacking Medicare, Medicaid, public education funding passed by referendum, water quality via changes in mining regulations, Native sovereignty, and our status as a refugee asylum state -- just to name a few.

Thelma Glass, a founding member of the Women's
Political Council of Montgomery, Alabama
The link shared was news of the passage of draconian austerity in the form of the "American Health Care Act" published in the Washington Post. (The Post is a corporate government stenographer I'm no longer willing to read or share because it has been so destructive of truth; but most baby boomers cling to loyalties they developed when young. Here's an alternative by RoseAnn De Moro in Common Dreams, "Did the Marquis De Sade Write This Health Care Bill?")

Older white progressives have a hard time recognizing that the Democratic Party is not their friend.

This delusion extends to believing that an "independent" senator toeing the pro-Israel line and espousing socialist notions while voting with corporations would have saved the party.


Millenials, on the other hand, have been kicked in the teeth by corporate government since the day they were born. As they stagger through life carrying the burden of their student loans, many can't afford a dentist. A dip into their social media threads finds them responding to the newest wave of healthcare austerity by calling for guillotines and other forms of violent rebellion.

I don't believe in the effectiveness of violent tactics, especially when the people are so thoroughly outgunned by the "security" forces of the state, whether police or military (this line is blurring rapidly).

Also, I'm a boomer heavily influenced by Rosa Parks and Jo Ann Robinson, women who believed that giving up the moral high ground i.e. abandoning nonviolent tactics like the Montgomery bus boycott would be a strategic mistake.

Another view in wide circulation among the woke on U.S. healthcare woes:
Phil Rockstroh sums it up:  
"If Obama and the Democrats had submitted and fought for a single payer plan rather than the byzantine, designed-to-fail (by the rightwing Heritage Foundation) Big Insurance/Big Pharma/Big Medicine Trojan horse ACA, there would not be the extent of discontent that has allowed the act to be challenged and its existence threatened.  
The popular outcry would have made the attempt to dismantle it politically prohibitive.  
Therefore, we are witnessing yet another example of how the lesser-of-two-evils canard in the end serves no one but the capitalist plundering class.In short, liberals and sham progressives, it is more propitious, result-wise, to be engaged in an honest fight, rather than to feign one, as High Dollar owned and controlled Democratic Party elites did in regard to Obamacare.  
Yes, the Republicans are soul-dead practitioners of shit-wizardry. But the fact does not provide cover for Obama’s and the liberal class’ own collaboration in the craven art."
This is countered by people calling for our "Representative" Bruce Poliquin to be held accountable at the next election and who will no doubt call on us to elect a Democrat to fix everything.

Poliquin is a man who wears $500 shoes to a town hall in central Maine, whose entire resume reflects his service to Wall St., and who will literally hide in the bathroom to avoid questions about how he intends to vote. All his office voicemail boxes are full, and all constituents get is a busy signal when trying multiple times a day to get through. On the rare occasion that they do get through they are told that "the congressman is still deciding." If they rally at an event he's willing to attend, he quickly cancels his appearance citing yet another family emergency.

My impression is that Poliquin has watched and studied the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off very, very carefully.

I do not believe that working through the proper channels to request meetings or elect better represenatives are anything more than elaborate wastes of time at this point in the trajectory of history.

We have full on corporate government with the mass incarceration that goes with along with regimes abandoning non-coercive ways of earning support (like providing healthcare, housing, or public transportation) in favor of 100% coercion.

I also do not believe that most baby boomers will understand this. That's ok, we are the past not the future. We are old and in the way for the most part.

Begging for scraps from the corporate table is also a waste of time.

Women's Political Council organizer Jo Ann Robinson's mug shot from the Montgomery County archives

Now is the time for Parks and Robinson-style strategy: start withholding support from the corporate beast.

If every woman who could get away with it would call in sick for two days in a row, the system would wobble. Then, others would join in. Einstein estimated that if 2% of the population stops upholding a system, that's enough to bring it down.

Baby boomers, many still working because they can't afford to retire, could play a key role here. Most of us could get away with not working for two key days (like the Monday and Tuesday of a new quarter or fiscal year?). Working class women who can't afford to lose wages should be subsidized by those who can. Caregivers for the dependent obviously would go on working. No one is going to stop feeding their 3 year old or bedridden mother to make a political point. That's ok if the 2% work together.

After 48 hours, the white males who run this country would be forced to notice their lack of meals, travel itineraries and business as usual. Phones would ring unanswered. Important emails would pile up in inboxes, or not get sent in the first place. Many in the ruling class would be scrambling to get enough calories -- or maybe they would just drink their calories until their liquor supplies ran out?

The Montgomery bus boycott was a movement largely of women (and the making of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national leader -- draw your own conclusions). The black female domestic workers who joined the boycott initially wanted to make a point about how valuable they were as a customer base for the bus line that discriminated against them.

The Mongtomery bus boycott was only planned to last for a day.

But the power of withdrawing so much support from a bad system was intoxicating. It snowballed quickly so that the cautious joined the first adopters. Community groups helped organize people to share resources so they could still get to work.

Pregnant teenager Claudette Colvin's wildcat strike against bus segregation provided the spark that motivated the Women's Political Council WPC) of Montgomery to support Rosa Parks in a planned arrest followed by a boycott. Which strategy adopted by the WPC resulted in more change: voter registration, or the boycott?

May 1 this year saw strikes in many U.S. locations, with a theme of the power of immigrant labor predominating. That's a good sign.

What will be the spark for a general strike by women? My prediction: when the corporate controlled Supreme Court removes access to legal, safe abortion.

The ACHA is already well on its way to making abortion unaffordable. Even white baby boomers will strike against that.

 ----statement reputedly uttered first by her royal highness, Queen Victoria, when her equerry—and presumably a very good lover as she had reason herself to know—shared an off-color story.

In the late great days of declining empire, nothing gets you a jail sentence faster than spontaneous laughter. It’s more deadly than an AK 47, especially in the views of those who have good reason to fear it; at the same time it’s as compassionate as Mother Theresa because it doesn’t get anyone killed—except maybe the person who may just about have to die laughing.

That’s what happened to hapless Desiree Fairooz (don’t you wish you had such an exquisite Persian name?)  who let out a guffaw during Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing, when Sessions' colleague Senator Richard Shelby claimed that Sessions' record of "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well documented."

And just today news came in that Steven Colbert is being investigated by the FCC for a joke he told about eeeeuuu know who on the late night show. Colbert joked about Trump’s fellow feeling for Vladimir Putin.

Speculation: will Sanders be investigated for guffawing at eeeuuu know who’s claim that Australia’s single payer plan is better than American coverage?

Ever since the ascendancy of our first Alzheimer-afflicted president in 1980, I have advocated mass laughter coordinated on cue as a vehicle to neutralize politicians.  The idea seems finally to be taking hold. It needs to be an option in the halls of congress, and in town hall meetings everywhere.