Taking over Post-Arnold California

Interview with Richard Oxman

What do you think of Obama’s reaction to the Gates incident? Who killed Michael Jackson? Why did Palin resign? Why are 90% of the large fish in the ocean gone? Which question doesn’t belong?

California-based organizer, educator, activist-writer, and playwright (and, oh yes, home schooling father and devoted spouse) Richard Oxman knows the answer. He’s more than aware that our current system – our very culture – is designed to shove the “big” questions to the fringes. This is why Oxman has conjured up a unique form of dissent: TOSCA — Taking Over the State of California.

“A necessary, urgent action,” he calls its, “designed to put thirteen non-politicians into the Sacred Seat in Sacramento (the Governor’s seat)… with all of those citizens having an equal say… along with the working figureheads who will be our candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor in the 2010 gubernatorial race.”

Oxman feels California is ideally suited for such an effort and has begun the important work of getting the campaign (so to speak) rolling. I recently asked him some questions via e-mail and here’s how it went:

Mickey Z: What is it about the state of California and its political apparatus that makes it a logical venue for your efforts?

Richard Oxman: The Governor of California can wield great influence in the state, having the legal right to move unilaterally on many fronts without having to compromise with opposing politicians. The state itself is tremendously influential, nationwide, internationally. Her/his role — the Guv’s — in Higher Education alone could change the world. Think divestment, for one. And because California is in serious — historic — trouble on several counts, citizens there are primed to follow a new paradigm for change. They are desperate.

MZ: If/when this succeeds, what might be the first obvious difference the public would notice?

RO: It will succeed, it must… or we are doomed. Everything else on the table is either disingenuous or moving at an arthritic snail’s pace. Once in office all decision-making meetings will be filmed for public consumption, to help citizens to self-educate, and decide for themselves who has their interests at heart, what to demand, who to pressure, etc. Our Guv can actually teach citizens HOW to pressure. That’s one of several aspects of TOSCA that have no historical precedent. Our tenure in office will be citizen-centered and communally-centered, NOT about the self-interest of career politicians or their money men.

MZ: Speaking of money…

RO: Our campaign will be waged on a ZERO budget. Whereas people concerned with the influence of money in campaigns to date have tried to change things with efforts such as campaign finance reform… we will Be The Change We Want To See. Meaning, we intend to demonstrate what miracles can be wrought with no money. TOSCA is all about opening up a window to see what the public will do on their own once they see how much can be accomplished without any funds whatsoever. How much pure joy can be generated, how much human connection can be had… with nothing in one’s pocket.

MZ: Considering the roadblocks involved with even getting a candidate on the ballot, how do you intend to accumulate enough votes?

RO: One thing we’re going to do is do away with all the time, energy and money that’s always put into getting on the ballot. What we save there we’ll put into recruiting… on an intimate basis. Not with signs, petitions, online blah blah, meetings, announcements or any of that habitual generic stuff. Sure, we’ll accept high profile plugs, but our basic m.o. will be to have friends contact friends one-on-one, bonding in an unprecedented way, passing the word incessantly; we have a huge jump on others already. No real time needed. That 61% who didn’t show at the last statewide election will provide mucho. Then there are the voters whose votes weren’t counted because of carelessness, more than what the Green Party garnered! None of our unaffilitated write-in votes will be lost in that Black Hole. I can’t fit “reasons” and much else into this telegraphic bite, but… contact me. There will be easy crossovers from major and marginalized parties… for it’ll be effortless to sell the notion that we need deep institutionalized changes… like detaching our economy from the Pentagon… which no one else can offer. Before much longer highly influential souls will take up TOSCA’s cause… almost exclusively. And then the first step in our legal, non-violent revolution will kick in.

MZ: Okay, I’ve asked to sound-bite and condense and reduce your idea to an easily digestible morsel to keep it ready for prime time…but now imagine you have a totally different audience: radicals, activists, etc. Why should, say, an anarchist get on board the TOSCA Express?

RO: Express, yes! Everyone should get on board “yesterday” because individual freedom will be of paramount importance — on an ongoing basis — for all connected with TOSCA. There are different kinds of anarchists, of course, but like the vast majority of anarchists… TOSCA’s core members believe that an appropriate economic order cannot be created by the decrees and statues of a government. We’re into the collaboration of workers in all aspects of production… keeping in mind, however, please… that we have no intention to approach “production” along traditional, environmentally destructive lines. The taking over of management in all facilities by the producers themselves is of prime importance to us, and of great appeal to most anarchists, I believe. We see separate groups within industry as independent members of the Big Industrial Picture, carrying on production/distribution of products in the clear interests of particular communities… on the basis of free mutual agreements. That said, it doesn’t mean that the thirteen people serving as Governor together will not be trying to influence decisions made in each little corner. Everyone has an obvious vested interest in moving in solidarity respecting certain environmental facts, at the very least. And, by the way, this business of anarchism should not scare anyone away. For everyone who opposes the Pentagon being inextricably bound up with our economy’s success, functioning… must, absolutely must acknowledge that we’re going to have to have radical institutional changes in order to create greater democratization in society. To say nothing about other equally important (related) issues…like abominations abroad… which we will spotlight daily on our own media outlet.

MZ: When you talk about the need to move in solidarity respecting certain environmental facts, are you saying that we may differ on certain issues but everyone is heavily impacted by 80% of world’s forests being gone?

RO: Perfectly put. We are all doomed if everyone is merely doing their own thing. TOSCA would respect anarchists more than any other group in office in history, but… we would do our damnedest to help everyone self-educate about our mutual environmental threats, and do what we could to encourage those making decisions in little corners to deeply consider larger communal concerns. Their own survival, to put in another way.

MZ: Who — besides me — have you asked to serve as an advisor and who have approached about being a candidate? What kind of response have you generally gotten?

RO: High profile figures and others such as Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, Bill Blum, Derrick Jensen, Glen Ford, Afshin Rattansi (in Iran at present), Jennifer Loewenstein, Greg Moses, Wallace J Nichols, Michael Stocker (of Ocean Conservation Research), the great African specialist who constantly risks his life to get great news to us… Keith Harmon Snow, Dave Lindorff, Cindy Sheehan, Ron Jacobs, Kim Petersen (of Canada), Henry A. Giroux (who Routledge named as one of the top fifty educational thinkers of the modern period), L.A. attorney/author Ellen Brown, Argentina’s Marie Trigone, Bruce Anderson (of the Anderson Valley Advertiser), Devinder Sharma (of India), Ronnie Cummins (Executive Director for Organic Consumers Association), David Yearsley, organic farmer Dr. Shepherd Bliss of Sonoma State University, Murray Dobbin (of Canada), Stephen Martin, and artist Jerry Fresia (in Italy) are just some of the people who have offered us their public imprimaturs.

We’re still in the process of trying to recruit Mike Davis, Paul Hawken, Michael Albert and Arundhati Roy… and everyone else! Noam Chomsky hasn’t come on board yet, but we haven’t given up on anyone, and even people like Noam — who for very legitimate reasons want to take “a little more time” to consider all aspects of what we’ve put on the table before adopting a public stance — have taken the heartbeats to go back and forth with us, very generously. Much is not written in stone, and so we can take the time to ask people to make recommendations, to feel free to tweak this and that to, possibly, suit their own purposes… their angle on society.

MZ: So the reactions have been encouraging?

RO: Everything considered, I’d say that we’re getting an over-the-top positive response. I mean, the above list was compiled over a period of only about two weeks of me working alone, spending only minimal time on recruitment. That’s actually phenomenal by any standards, yes? And one really has to factor in that we’re coming out of nowhere, dumping ourselves in the inboxes of individuals and organizations quite suddenly, absolutely no prep for what’s essentially, arguably, the most radical proposal in the realm of politics… for the electoral arena… in the history of the country. IRV is one of our big/small potatoes.

Some groups and some activists are truly puzzling in their responses, but that’s another book, as they say. The reasons for silence in response to my missives sometimes, the dropping of the ball inexplicably by some, the lack of nurturing well-intentioned efforts like TOSCA’s, and premature dismissal of what we put on the table for consideration now and then is all part of the animal we’re taming. By which I mean any effort to mobilize citizens for the purposes of moving in solidarity meaningfully — not in lockstep automatic meaningless mode following old paradigms for protest/change — is going to encounter all kinds of resistance for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is what I call territorial trauma. But that’s part of the beautiful satisfaction that’s coming our way, this TOSCA making a dent in all that. The fact is that there’s nothing else on the table that I know of which has a shot in hell at saving this “heaven on earth” in time.

MZ: How can readers learn more and get involved?

RO: Readers should contact me directly IMMEDIATELY. They can reach me at moc.oohaynull@0102.acsot or at moc.oohaynull@grubdaeh for starters. Urgent connection is crucial… whether one wants to limit one’s participation to only ten minutes total running up to the election in 2010, OR whether one wants to work alongside me 24×8 to create this watershed in history. PLEASE NOTE that I always get back within 24 hours at the outside. If one doesn’t hear back from me directly within that time frame, something’s amiss. The link http://oxtogrind.org/archive/353 is a decent place to start learning about TOSCA, and a reading of that can be followed by encouraging others to contact me.

Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook. Read other articles by Mickey.

24 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Deadbeat said on July 30th, 2009 at 12:29pm #

    We’re still in the process of trying to recruit Mike Davis, Paul Hawken, Michael Albert and Arundhati Roy… and everyone else! Noam Chomsky hasn’t come on board yet, but we haven’t given up on anyone, and even people like Noam — who for very legitimate reasons want to take “a little more time” to consider all aspects of what we’ve put on the table before adopting a public stance

    Why is the recruitment of Chomsky and Michael Albert — such ABB’ers so important to this organization. When both gentlemen had a chance to speak out against the current political trends they sought to go along with the “safe state” strategy. Why are such “headliners” so important? The best thing that this chap should do is recruit committed folks at the local level and form an ideology that best expresses the organization’s desires, goals, hopes, and demands. Forget about the headliners. “Headliners” will emerge from the bottom and from their activities and from their successes. To see the discussion revolve around “headlines” and DUBIOUS and specious ones at that only tells me that this organization does not have the focus it needs and will eventually collapse like the Greens which will once again retard solidarity.

  2. Don Hawkins said on July 30th, 2009 at 2:06pm #

    Mickey Deadbeat is right. For some reason most still don’t get it. The World/Earth is changing fast and we have 9 that’s 9 years to make major changes. My first thought after reading your article was the same as Deadbeat’s. The push is on and much can change in four years if a total focus does not start in the next few years and we go back to something like Bush or for that matter stay where we are now game over. Think of this as kind of a war was said by James Hansen a few years ago and he knew then what it would take. Herculean effort total focus. He is not the only one who know’s this not anymore.

  3. bozh said on July 30th, 2009 at 2:42pm #

    sorry folks, but taking over california or taking over US starts with the first step: a party diametrically opposed to the ruling party.

    that’s how norwegians, spaniards, venzuelans took over those countries.
    Spain, once lower class took over spain, had withdrawn their troops from iraq.

    or if all these ‘progressives’ in US can take over fbi, cia, city police, churches, armed services, we may just obtain a better rule.

    but a mere movement? Composed of also people who do not ask or demand right to be informed, free higher education, ending wars on a panhuman [not solely amercian] principle?
    go figure. tnx

  4. lichen said on July 30th, 2009 at 3:18pm #

    While I agree with what Don says about the environment, I support this movement; and I think it will be much better without ideology or political parties–which are bankrupt.

  5. Richard Oxman said on July 30th, 2009 at 8:28pm #

    Dear Deadbeat: First of all, Chomsky is not an ABBer. Second of all, the recruitment of high profile names has primarily to do with limited draw potential within individual realms, BUT is not the primary thrust, or anything like that. The “organization” does NOT revolve around headliners. The interview does address how our concern is one-on-one… for bonding situations with each and every citizen… primarily limiting oneself to personal friends and appropriate in-person acquaintances. At least I trust that’s clear there. Dear Don: No party in existence has either the intention or the power to create the necessary change soon enough. TOSCA can stir up “forced change” from citizenry in 2011; 4 years is too late. No parties havecan work is our premise.

  6. Richard Oxman said on July 31st, 2009 at 6:31am #

    I won’t be commenting much here probably because I’ll be too busy organizing. But anyone interested in discussing details is free to contact me at moc.oohaynull@grubdaeh… and possibly set up phone talk. The tendency of back and forth in this format is to encourage talk rather than action. The action must move expeditiously, and traditional affiliated movement is too slow. When lichen speak of the bankruptcy in what we’re used to, he/she is spot on. Everyone active can continue doing what they’re doing as long as they also embrace something like TOSCA, which is designed to have as many people as possible take part in extensive solidarity. I don’t know of options to TOSCA on that count. And we face a true emergency on many counts.

  7. Don Hawkins said on July 31st, 2009 at 7:10am #

    I hope your right Richard as change is coming one way or the other.

  8. Michael Dawson said on July 31st, 2009 at 10:45am #

    Lovely idea with zero chance of working. Part of organizing is being smart enough to know when not to spend people’s energies. You are up against TV and Big Money. That’s just a fact.

    Good luck anyway, I suppose…

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain said on July 31st, 2009 at 4:15pm #

    I’m afraid I’m in Michael Dawson’s camp. The system is immutable. It has been designed carefully to be unchangeable. Get too much political power, despite the absolutely predictable media jihad against you, despite the active subversion by the powers-that-be that will see your operatives bought off, set-up, framed and suborned, and fifth-columnists inserted throughout your apparatus, and they will kill you. Perhaps they will be satisfied with declaring martial law and locking you all up, who knows? But the market capitalist kleptocracy is non-negotiable, as the years of ecological denialism so richly financed by business show. The psychopaths and characteropaths and sundry other monsters advantaged by the competitive, ‘winner-takes-all’ market capitalist system, do not care what the world will be like in 2050. Unless we realise that these creatures just do not care about anything but money and power, and will kill to maintain their advantage, we will get nowhere. I think we must seek solutions in avoiding the system, withdrawing from it, refusing to co-operate with it, rather than confronting it or trying to take it over and humanise it. The system is unreformable and malignant to its very core, as are the mock humans who direct it.
    I think that the techniques like permaculture offer a hope. We ought, I believe, leave politics to stew in its own putrescence, and just concentrate on nurturing the planet. I know this will, also, be attacked, by the dead souls who will wish to concrete over every square inch, chop down the last tree, but if we replant the vacant blocks, green every uncovered inch, perhaps we will outlast them. Moreover we can undermine the cancerous capitalist system best, I think, by withdrawing from consumerism. We need only lessen our consumption of unnecessary crap by ten or twenty per cent, and the pips will start squeaking. Naturally the pathocrats will ensure that the effects of economic retrenchment are borne by working people alone, and attempt a class ‘divide and rule’ rejoinder, but I see no alternative. Simply continuing 3% growth for another twenty years will ensure the end of our civilization, such as it is. Perhaps if we organise at a grass-roots level, ignore the utterly corrupt power structures, and seek to protect each other from the ill-effects of the roll-back of market capitalism, we might just make it. Like a tumour, once capitalism begins to shrink, ceases to invade new tissue, it may collapse upon itself, turning necrotic in a trice. Then, if we make it out the other side, we will just have centuries of climate change to deal with and the task of repairing an utterly ravaged planet to consume our powers for generations.

  10. Richard Oxman said on July 31st, 2009 at 6:08pm #

    Citizens who are skeptical about the chances of TOSCA succeeding have not — I don’t believe — really looked at the links provided. The main link leads to other links which are necessary to digest the full plan, the “protections” incorporated. To cite just one of many points… please note that even if TOSCA didn’t win the election with a majority… if it garnered more votes than all the other “other parties’ combined and/or more than just one of the major parties… well, I leave the impact to your imagination. I have relevant stats, etc. to share with people who have it in them to do more than talk. See http://oxtogrind.org/archive/354 for an insight into why we won’t fail. But, again, that’s just a beginning. Talk to me. moc.oohaynull@grubdaeh then I’ll give you my phone number. Spending no $$$ and being partially successful would change mucho in terms of opening up solidarity potential, creativity among citizens, AND MORE. Including our being able to wield influence even out of office.

  11. Michael Dawson said on July 31st, 2009 at 9:50pm #

    Mulga, I wouldn’t say it’s immutable, but it’s damned close.

    I think it’s capitalist totalitarian, which is stronger and subtler than state totalitarianism, due to capitalism’s far greater wealth, dynamism, and deniability (no Eagle’s Nest or Politburo).

    But I think it’s smarter to be preparing for collapse-organizing (in all the dimensions that implies) than doing the kind of ultra-voluntarist hippie stuff Oxman and Mickey Z are pushing here.

    Of course, Mickey is basically trying to make a brand out of himself as Mr. Organizer. He seems to have very little awareness of the actual history and logic of social movements in his own society, alas.

  12. Richard Oxman said on August 1st, 2009 at 12:36am #

    I recommend that some additional people at Dissident Voice join hands with TOSCA (or “something”) to be active in solidarity. Michael Dawson’s comment about it being smarter to prepare for collapse… rather than push for collapse is instructive. Prepare for what? Survival? How about pushing for a dismantling of institutions, trying to pave the way for more… by way of democracy… instead of repeating the cynical, easy take on the powers’ control being immutable. Which is so much of what TOSCA is about. Mickey, in the interview, is not trying anything except to conduct an interview. Labels like “hippie-stuff” are dismissive, and contemptuous of efforts respecting solidarity. There is one flaw in TOSCA which a reader very intelligently injected into the discussion w direct contact w me… which I will be posting at http://www.oxtogrind.org shortly. But it doesn’t have to do with what’s been said here. Too many people in these kinds of format are avoiding action that could be significant. Questions should be directed with an openness and desire for some kind of satisfaction and/or solution in action directly to me at moc.oohaynull@grubdaeh. Short of that there’s no interest in doing something, just talking. No true activist curiosity about possibilities. Personal attacks on Mickey or anyone are shameful, and TOSCA’s attempt at radically reshaping our lives does not deserve to be dismissed with cavalier displays of one’s “better sense of history/awareness.” Dare to dialogue with your objections… then see if you still hold on to the same resistance to this appeal to solidarity. “Knowing” speculation about what can or can’t be done under capitalism misses the boat. See Philip Larkin’s poem “First Sight” to get a sense of what hope might exist which you cannot possibly grasp. All activists should quietly, slowly read that short poem, and then get in touch with me… even if TOSCA makes no sense whatsoever to you. Blessings in solidarity, Richard.

  13. Don Hawkins said on August 1st, 2009 at 4:45am #

    Simply continuing 3% growth for another twenty years will ensure the end of our civilization, such as it is. Mulga

    Twenty years is many moon’s. Here in the States the cash for clunkers is working so well they took money away from research for renewable energy, brilliant. Growth seems to be very important and that would be growth at any cost. It’s been done many times before in history and learning from the past I think not. This time it looks like the cost a tad bit high. Full speed ahead. We will have bank’s that are well capitalized with paper and cars that get four miles per gallon more than they do now and the light’s will stay on. I still think if the President of the United States could give that people of Earth speech and face the problems not with the same thinking that got us here but a new way of thinking could be helpful but growth at all costs seems to be the thinking. Just think in four years we could get a new President the other side sort of and Fox News will be happy again and all will go back to normal. Yikes

  14. Don Hawkins said on August 1st, 2009 at 5:02am #

    Now-frequent dust storms are just one sign of the man-made damage that has taken the country from Middle East breadbasket to dust bowl, they say.
    By Liz Sly

    July 30, 2009

    Reporting from Baghdad — You wake up in the morning to find your nostrils clogged. Houses and trees have vanished beneath a choking brown smog. A hot wind blasts fine particles through doors and windows, coating everything in sight and imparting an eerie orange glow.

    Dust storms are a routine experience in Iraq, but lately they’ve become a whole lot more common.

    “Now it seems we have dust storms nearly every day,” said Raed Hussein, 31, an antiques dealer who had to rush his 5-year-old son to a hospital during a recent squall because the boy couldn’t breathe. “We suffer from lack of electricity, we suffer from explosions, and now we are suffering even more because of this terrible dust.

    “It must be a punishment from God,” he added, offering a view widely held among Iraqis seeking to explain their apocalyptic weather of late. “I think God is angry with the deeds of the Iraqi people.”

    The reality is probably scarier. Iraq is in the throes of what some officials are calling an environmental catastrophe, and the increased frequency of dust storms is only the most visible manifestation.

    Decades of war and mismanagement, compounded by two years of drought, are wreaking havoc on Iraq’s ecosystem, drying up riverbeds and marshes, turning arable land into desert, killing trees and plants, and generally transforming what was once the region’s most fertile area into a wasteland.

    Falling agricultural production means that Iraq, once a food exporter, will this year have to import nearly 80% of its food, spending money that is urgently needed for reconstruction projects.

    “We’re talking about something that’s making the breadbasket of Iraq look like the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma in the early part of the 20th century,” said Adam L. Silverman, a social scientist with the U.S. military who served south of Baghdad in 2008.

    So fragile has the environment become that even the slightest wind whips up a pall of dust that lingers for days.

    Sandstorms are a naturally occurring phenomenon across the region, but the accumulation of dust on the surface of Iraq’s dried-out land has exacerbated the problem, leading to more frequent and longer-lasting storms, said Army Lt. Col. Marvin Treu, chief of the U.S. military’s Staff Weather Office.

    This summer and last have seen more than twice as many dusty days as the previous four, he said. And 35% of the time, dust is reducing visibility to less than three miles, the point at which it is normally considered unsafe to fly. On many of those days, visibility was zero, delaying flights, disrupting military operations and sending thousands of people to hospitals with breathing problems.

    “The lack of available water is a huge issue and it’s having a huge effect on Iraqi society,” said Silverman, social science advisor for strategic communications with the Army’s Human Terrain System, a program that links social scientists and anthropologists with combat brigades. He emphasized that he was not speaking on behalf of the military.

    It’s a dramatic turnaround for the country where agriculture reputedly was born thousands of years ago. Iraq’s ancient name, Mesopotamia, means “Land Between the Rivers,” and though about half the country traditionally has been desert, the fertile plains watered by the mighty Tigris and Euphrates rivers once provided food for much of the Middle East.

    Now the Agriculture Ministry estimates that 90% of the land is either desert or suffering from severe desertification, and that the remaining arable land is being eroded at the rate of 5% a year, said Fadhil Faraji, director-general of the ministry’s Department for Combating Desertification.

    “Severe desertification is like cancer in a human being,” he said. “When the land loses its vegetation cover, it’s very hard to get it back. You have to deal with it meter by meter.”

    It’s difficult to know where to begin to untangle the complex web of factors that have conspired to push Iraq to this point. But officials say human error is primarily to blame.

    It hasn’t been scientifically proved that tank movements in the desert have helped stir up the dust, as many Iraqi experts believe. But other factors are not in dispute.

    In the quest to bolster food production, farmers have been encouraged by the government to till marginal land. When it fails, they abandon it, leaving it cleared of its natural vegetation.

    Chronic electricity shortfalls also have played a role. People chop down trees for firewood, leaving more bare land, and the shortage of power has made it difficult to pump water through the irrigation channels that had sustained fertile lands far beyond the rivers. Compounding the already dire shortages, power stations have been forced to shut down for days at a time because they lack water.

    Then came the regionwide drought that has dramatically depleted the amount of water available. Last year’s rainfall was 80% below normal; this year only half as much rain fell as usual.

    Turkey and Syria, which control the headwaters of the Euphrates, have curtailed the river’s flow by half to deal with their own drought-related problems, said Awn Abdullah, head of the National Center for Water Resources Management.

    Water has been diverted from the Tigris to keep the Euphrates flowing, causing problems for communities along that river. Iran, too, has been building dams on tributaries of rivers that reach into Iraq, drying out riverbeds in the east of the country.

    The effects extend far beyond the immediate inconveniences of dust storms. Drinking water is scarce in many areas of the south as seawater leaches into the depleted rivers. The fabled marshes of southern Iraq, drained by Saddam Hussein and then re-flooded after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, are drying up, and the traditional Marsh Arabs who depend on them for their livelihood are being forced to leave again.

    In the cities, rural migrants compete with the urban poor for scarce jobs and resources, and in desperation some turn to crime or insurgency.

    And then there are the dust storms, which bring the crisis of the countryside directly into the living rooms of city dwellers. The falling dust has the consistency of talcum powder, and it finds its way into cupboards and corners as well as nostrils and lungs.

    “It causes health problems, it disrupts business, it destroys machinery, not to mention the psychological effects,” said Ibrahim Jawad Sheriff, who is in charge of soil monitoring at the Environment Ministry. “It’s a catastrophe that’s affecting every aspect of Iraqi life.”

    Fixing the problem would require a huge injection of funds and is beyond the capacity of the Iraqi government alone, Environment Minister Narmin Othman said. The country needs international aid to revitalize agriculture and plant trees, she said, as well as help in negotiating water-sharing treaties with Turkey and Syria, which previous governments neglected to do.

    Whether it can be resolved is another question, said a Western official involved with efforts to rejuvenate Iraqi agriculture, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The government has other priorities, he said, and “it’s a question whether they care. . . . It needs such monstrous help, over such a long-term period. You’re talking generations.” LAT
    —————————————————————————————————————————————————
    It will be hot, dry and a bad fire year for much of the West, Forest Service researchers are predicting.

    Researchers have completed an updated national drought and fire forecast for the next six months saying that 3.66 million acres are expected to burn. That is about average nationally, but there is an “unusual” concentration of activity in the West, they said.

    Higher-than-normal fire levels are expected in most of Texas, the Southwest, California and the Pacific Northwest this year compared to a base period of 1971 to 2000, they said, with huge fires projected for much of Northern California and the Sierra Nevada range.

    By far the worst drought conditions, referred to as “extremely dry,” are found in California, western Oregon and Washington, pockets of North Carolina and northern Wisconsin. But major fires are not anticipated in every dry place, and some areas with normal moisture are at high risk of tens of thousands of acres burning, especially northwest Texas and eastern New Mexico, they said. NYT

    You’re talking generations with a Herculean effort total focus and and working together and so far growth at all costs.

  15. Don Hawkins said on August 1st, 2009 at 7:00am #

    I just read an article that California is cooling on this whole global warming thing. They might change there mind again in just a few months and then 5 years again. Why are they the people changing there mind? Big brother. I think when Orwell saw the coming of big brother he forgot the fact that the people who could think of this thinking and run it are not to bright. I shouldn’t say that because if any of them read this there first thought will be will show you. By all means show me. The other way of course is face the problems work together and use reason but but worshiping at the temple of doom as they all chant we love big brother is much easer. Oh boy.

  16. Don Hawkins said on August 1st, 2009 at 7:40am #

    Granted it’s hard to really know who is big brother and who is running the show. If you watch Fox News they are fair and balanced and Glenn Beck likes to bring up this whole big brother thing. CNN is the same but in the light form. NBC same light form. Never is mentioned to work together face the problems make hard choices sacrifice to try and save our ass never. It’s the economy stupid growth full speed ahead and don’t forget to worship at the temple of doom. Same with the different sides high upon the hill. Am right no am left or middle. Never once does working together reason hard choices sacrifice oh no easy way out and don’t forget to worship at our temple of doom. I love big brother. I want to I want to but which one?

  17. Don Hawkins said on August 1st, 2009 at 7:51am #

    Oh I forgot something know your credit score it’s one of the most important things you will ever do.

  18. Don Hawkins said on August 1st, 2009 at 8:00am #

    In the year 2029 if we are still here more like 5 gallons of gas for a bag of potatoes. Credit score, right. Could I be wrong on this, yes. Then again do we see reason working together sacrifice hard choices or do we see illusion of knowledge? To me it’s not even illusion of knowledge anymore just pure unadulterated bullshit and don’t forget to worship at our temple of doom. Am I calm at peace oh yes to know knowing help’s with that.

  19. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 2nd, 2009 at 1:39am #

    Don, the refusal of the ruling elites of capitalism to work to avert catastrophic anthropogenic climate change has puzzled me for a while. I know that their intelligence is overstated in the self-serving propaganda their media serfs produce, the real talents that one needs to be a ‘business success’ being those of the conscience-less psychopath and Machiavellian. However, I always imagined that they would wish to protect their wealth and seek to pass it on to their spawn, in the time-honoured manner, once the evidence was irrefutable. After all they have liquidated other industries and shifted their capital to new avenues for exploitation many times in the past. It’s not as if they give a stuff what happens to the serfs whose labour they exploit. There are just as big profits to be gained from solar as fossil fuels, once the political stooges have rigged ‘the market’ properly.
    But, for some reason the Right is more interested in defending fossil fuel profits, to the death (of billions) and fighting a savage ideological war against ‘the Left’. The general mental attainment within the denialist moronosphere is truly ludicrous, and they all have a vote,but who can laugh when an idiot, or a veritable plague of them, insist on setting fire to your house and stopping you from calling the fire brigade or putting it out yourself?
    I suspect that the process, inherent in competitive, amoral, capitalist societies, of selecting for the psychotic, unscrupulous and conscienceless has reached some crucial stage where the creatures this has produced and favoured have extended their innate destructiveness to include everything, including themselves. I get an uncomfortable feeling that the extreme Right has decided, subconsciously, to have done with humanity. After all, they seem almost bored with killing children in the hundreds of thousands in Iraq or Afghanistan, or through the cruelties of a radically unjust global economic order. Where do the psychopaths go to get their kicks, after Madeleine Albright opined that killing 500,000 Iraqi children, under the sanctions, was a price that was ‘worth it’.
    I think the evil elites have simply reached their apotheosis. They can destroy everything, including the detested future generations, who will be alive when the current psychotics are dead, and they have decided that they can see no reason not to do so, particularly when money is involved. Either that or they are interplanetary lizards, finishing their takeover, after all.

  20. Don Hawkins said on August 2nd, 2009 at 2:52am #

    Mulga it’s 5 in the morning here in the greatest nation on Earth your comment I too have been thinking about so let me have another cup of coffee and think some more.

  21. Deadbeat said on August 2nd, 2009 at 4:43am #

    Oxman replies …

    Dear Deadbeat: First of all, Chomsky is not an ABBer.

    That statement is incorrect. Chomsky (and Howard Zinn) signed onto the “safe-state” strategy in 2004 rather than give his unambiguous support to building an effort outside of the Democratic Party. The failure of Nader and the Green in 2004 put them both in an extremely weaken position whereby they could not mount a sufficient effort in 2008 enable Obama to fill the void. Also the anti-war movement completely demobilized in the vein hope of electing John Kerry — a strategy supported by Z-Netter Michael Albert.

    Also the mentioning of a headliner like Arundhati Roy who is NOT a U.S. citizen and cannot participate in U.S. election indicates that the focus in not on recruiting ORDINARY folks (and folks of color) but the same “headliners” who will not and cannot reach out to ordinary folks. And as I have indicated in my response has a history of BETRAYAL. Chomsky especially on issue of confronting DOMESTIC Zionism.

    Second of all, the recruitment of high profile names has primarily to do with limited draw potential within individual realms, BUT is not the primary thrust, or anything like that. The “organization” does NOT revolve around headliners.

    I sure hope not. I think there are many existing community organization that needs to be and can be coalesce into solid political actions. What is needed is a party apparatus so that they can come together in a coordinate fashion. Unfortunately I haven’t seen the Left with any passion and desire try to reach out to these DOMESTIC community organizations. And especially organization rooted in communities of color.

    The interview does address how our concern is one-on-one… for bonding situations with each and every citizen… primarily limiting oneself to personal friends and appropriate in-person acquaintances. At least I trust that’s clear there.

    One-on-one will take too much time. And with the speed of the current economic crisis you need to be much more efficient. You need to get busy with the folks at the LOWEST rungs. That is why name-dropping left-wing headliners and dubious ones at that only offers and bodes more of the same New Party/Green Party types of failures.

    You gotta start doing something radical like deadbeatism. How about organizing around something radical like canceling your own debt by STOP PAYING YOUR BILLS and protection the folks that do. If more people start doing that then you’ll get the system’s attention — REAL FAST. Or advocate a radical takeover of the corporations. Something gotta be done and it has to be more than just a “parade”.

  22. Don Hawkins said on August 2nd, 2009 at 4:56am #

    Hay Al how’s that peace prize feel these day’s. Come on get that permit 2 million to start Capital calm at peace. Talk with Hollywood the day the Earth stood still was a great movie. Come on think outside the box and after the walk to New York would be a real good time for the President to give that My fellow American’s and people of Earth we are in deep do do speech don’t you think. What do we have to lose well it’s round and so far blue in color.

  23. Don Hawkins said on August 2nd, 2009 at 5:59am #

    ChattahBox)—Corporate Lobbyist and global warming denier Dick Armey, presented quite a novel argument against global warming on Thursday, while appearing on Capitol Hill to testify before a Republican hearing on climate change legislation. Armey suggested that global warming doesn’t exist, because the Lord God Almighty would not allow man to destroy his creation.
    That means in Armey’s mind, Earth is indestructible and that we can continue to gobble up fossil fuels and pollute our environment with CO2 emissions to our heart’s content, because God is on the side of big oil companies.
    Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), has long been a supporter of corporate polluters and big oil companies in and out of office. And he has spent his post Congressional career as a lobbyist for DLA Piper representing big oil interests.
    When Armey isn’t denying Global warming in the name of God, he plans divisive anti-Obama tea party rallies, under the cover of his right-wing Astroturf organization, FreedomWorks.

    You see third grade level thinking in the temple of doom. Tea time.

  24. Richard Oxman said on August 2nd, 2009 at 9:01am #

    There is too much talk here, no indication of interest in action. Deadbeat, for one, could at least contact me directly at moc.oohaynull@grubdaeh to discuss our disagreements in the name of moving on to action in solidarity, tweaking this and that IF NECESSSARY. The “old” nonsense about ABBers re Chomsky and Zinn… should be updated respecting one headliner voting for McKinney and the other headliner voting for Nader most recently. Of course, anyone supporting ABB in 2004 was off, but I’m talking about the present moment, more recent history. A careful reading of the interview and the recommended http://oxtogrind.org/archive/353 clearly lays out WHY it doesn’t matter than Arundhati Roy is not a citizen, and how non-residents of California can particpate legally, effectively. I can save any reader the need to jump from link to link of mine to clarify such fundamental stuff if they simply email me… and then agree to talk with me on the phone. My taking the heartbeats to draw in such souls as Deadbeat should demonstrate the degree to which TOSCA is focused on ordinary people, not headliners. If Michael Franti becomes part of TOSCA, for instance, and draws attention to our concern for social justice… more ordinary people come on board. That’s mainly how headliners help. It’s much more simple than you’re making out, Deadbeat,… IF you’re interested in potential action, not just blah blah.