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Last night I sat down to a Passover Seder - a traditional celebration of redemption from slavery to the land of milk and honey. The plate included matzo; salty water, representing tears; charoses, a paste made from almonds and apples representing mortar used in construction of the Pyramids; and a small child wondering: "is that all I'm going to get to eat?"

Too many archetypes of the Passover story are being relived in California right now.

almond milkWe're overplanting almonds and stealing our groundwater to build empires for other people - hedge fund almonds. Would-be-Pharaohs like Kevin McCarthy think the answer is yet more massive infrastructure, dams that can only be filled if snow falls and melts.

We stare at an ocean of salty water wondering why isn't desalination the answer to all of our water woes? We can remove the salt from seawater only by sacrificing on pricey altars and grinding into dust our renewable energy plans and visiting a plague of excessively briny water on the coast that we love.

Climate scientists prophesy: our megadrought desert is going to last 40 years. Or forever.

As for that land of milk and honey? - cow fodder is a thirsty crop, the bees are being killed by pesticides, and right now the shimmering promise of redemption is just a mirage.

I'd cry for my golden state but I dare not waste the tears.

Discuss

Sat Mar 14, 2015 at 04:30 PM PDT

What's For Dinner: Sweet, Sweet Pi

by RLMiller

You come to me on National Pi Day and want to know what's for dinner? Pull up a chair and let's talk a bit.

Now, I get my best thinking done when my hands are doing something familiar, so excuse me if I grab a cup of flour, and dump it in a bowl, and add a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a bit of salt and stir it up with a fork, nothing really fancy. Then I'll take a stick of butter and cut it in til it's almost entirely, but not quite, disappeared into the flour, but you can still see some small (pea size or smaller) chunks, because those melted bits of butter make for a tender crust.

But that's my way of doing things. You might get a measuring cup or two and carefully sift your flour and add in lard, measured to the quarter-teaspoon, because the term "a bit" is a bit too irrational for you.

I'm going to add two tablespoons of cold water to the mix and stir it just until it's not quite coming together, and if that's not enough I'll add a third tablespoon, and after that water goes in one teaspoon at a time but never exceeding a total of a quarter cup, because we have standards. I need to do all this by hand. I tried food processor-made crust, but it's no substitute for getting my hands floury and feeling the dough.

Put down that vodka bottle! Vodka does not improve the crust.

Now, I came to DailyKos for the climate politics, but I stayed for the pie, so I'm going to pit about four to five cups of Michigan cherries for the filling, all the while wondering if climate change will kill Michigan cherries and we'll have to import them from Canada. Then I'm going to add some almond extract, made from the California almonds sucking dry my beloved state, and a bit of flour and brown sugar, and pile it into the chilled and rolled-out pie crust, and put it in the oven for about 45 minutes.

You might be making a very different pie, perhaps one with apples or pecans or perhaps a savory meat pie. That's okay. There's room for all kinds of pie in this world.

While the pie bakes, I'm going to listen to my favorite song about pies
from a movie about pies. And domestic violence. And being a single mom on a tight budget. And love.

This pie is going to my next presentation on behalf of Climate Hawks Vote, or maybe a Democratic club meeting, because pies need to be shared, and souls and bodies need to be fed.

And that's my story of pi-self. Because practical pie-baking is practicing democracy. What's for your dinner?

Discuss

Sanders CHVToday, the Senate will take up 18 amendments to the Keystone XL bill, including at least one proposal that will create thousands - if not hundreds of thousands - of jobs and ease our dependence on foreign oil, not to mention dirty dangerous coal mining and fracked natural gas.

Time to build, America!

I'm talking about Sen. Bernie Sanders' "Ten Million Solar Rooftops," a bill he's introduced in the past and is now attaching as an amendment to the Keystone XL bill, S. 1. His amendment will be heard, along with 17 others, starting at 2:30 p.m. today. The bill would provide 15% rebates to homeowners who go solar until reaching a 10-million-home mark. Read it and the other Democratic amendments to be taken up today here (PDF).

The Keystone XL bill is sure to be vetoed by President Obama. But the amendments offered by Democrats are putting Republicans on record in awkward ways sure to be revisited during the 2016 campaign season. Don't accept that climate change is significantly caused by humans? (Only 5 Republicans voted yes on the Brian Schatz amendment.) Don't want to disclose who's really benefiting from this project? (A Sheldon Whitehouse amendment comes up today.) Don't want to generate hundreds of thousands of good paying American jobs?

Tweet at Republicans using their own hashtag:

#TimeToBuild - Support @SenSanders 10 Million Solar Rooftops!

.@SenSanders #KeystoneXL amendment will create hundreds of thousands of good paying American jobs. #TimeToBuild.

Discuss

Mon Jan 26, 2015 at 06:56 PM PST

Obama's War On Alaska

by RLMiller

Obama declares war on Alaska, reported the Alaskan newspapers, not in the least over the top. "Obama will negotiate with Iran - why won't he impose sanctions on negotiate with Alaska?" wailed Lisa Murkowski.

I remember those halcyon days of planning the War On Alaska. “We’ll seize the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from those oil companies. The polar bears will greet us as liberators!” said an unnamed Pentagon official. “I delivered pizza during the #BlizzardOf2015 - whaddya mean, Alaska's cold?” asked a three-fingered New Yorker. The naysayers, warning us that we'd be overextended fighting both this and the War on Christmas, were outshouted.

In Seattle, our armies shone like leaping salmon. What a sight! - the EPA in the vanguard, the green groups tweeting: #ProtectTheArcticRefuge, Hilary positioning her troops one millimeter to the left of center with surgical precision in order to take credit should the battle rage into fall 2016.

The march north decimated our troops. We tried supplementing our rations with crab and seafood til the defiant Alaskans built the Pebble mine to poison the waters around us. We resorted to warming ourselves with the overheated rhetoric of Alaskan Republicans. On moonless nights, the trees sang the word salad of Sarah Palin, inducing insanity in all who heard it.

Murkowski, bedecked in fur, met us at the border. “You’ve declared war on a sovereign country!” she cried, til an aide whispered in her ear, “I mean, state!”

“This man, this person, has gone completely wacko,” Rep. Don Young said, heedless of the surrounding shards of a broken mirror.

But in the end, we could go no further.

Blame Barack, blame Joe, blame the Pentagon boys of summer.

Like Napoleon facing the brutal Russian winter, like Hitler marching on St. Petersburg, we were turned back by the weather. Yes, we elected to take the coastal route, only to find bogs and bays where firm ground once stood. Our maps were useless in the face of the rapidly warming Arctic.

The vicious melt did us in.

And that was the end of the War On Alaska.

Discuss

"I was hoping to speak with someone at Climate Hawks Vote," reads the email from a staffer for a Democratic member of Congress. A handful of tweets can catch the attention of Congress, reports a study, and here it took just one tweet. Turns out that the Representative thinks of himself as strong on climate, but his score on our very tough scorecard is only in the teens (scorecard goes from +100 to -100). We've been tweeting scores of potential contenders for the open California Senate seat, like this:


and

So we chatted. I explained the philosophy behind the scorecard - we're trying to identify Democrats who lead on climate. We're interested in how they vote, of course, but lots of other organizations track votes. We're trying something new and different. Who engages the public on climate? Who gives floor speeches? who keynotes clean energy conferences? who holds roundtables with fishermen affected by ocean acidification? who shows up to cut the ribbon at the local wind farm? who introduces bills? who uses the power of the office to communicate with the public that climate change is here now, it's affecting constituents, and action is needed?

Democrats like to blame Republicans for paralysis on climate inaction. But that's only partly true. Too many Democrats don't consider the climate crisis a high priority. They vote against unsubtle message bills to gut the EPA, cut its budget to zero, and raze it to the ground; but they duck one of the most important issues of our time. They don't lead. They don't communicate with their constituents.
ducks CHV

The staffer sent me clippings - public speeches, press releases, local stories. I'd already scored some of it; some was new to me; some fell outside the Climate Hawks Vote focus. The Representative sits on the Science and Technology committee, Energy subcommittee, and posts a lot on facebook - which is virtually useless for collecting public remarks by members of Congress. After a while, a portrait emerged: a Democrat who wants to do the right thing, who cares about climate change, who fights efforts by Republicans to cut funding for important climate science programs, but who doesn't always explain to the public why budget battles are important.

The next edition of the scorecard will show an improvement in the score of the Representative. I hope that the Representative will take a bit more effort in communicating to his constituents the important work he does. And I'm glad to see that Climate Hawks Vote is having an impact in Congress.

Obligatory self-promotion: join Climate Hawks Vote to get the first peek at the scorecard covering Senate Democrats.

Discuss

The final tally for Climate Hawks Vote in 2014: we endorsed in 17 elections, including 3 primaries and 14 general election races; we won 11 and lost 6. No matter what, I'm proud of all of our endorsed climate hawk candidates. No regrets. No compromises. All of the candidates we endorsed have been fierce on climate, whether solar solutionistas or energy efficiency evangelists. Thanks to all who made this possible!

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Details below.

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Climate Hawks Vote launched in June 2014 with the goal of electing candidates who grasp the magnitude of the climate crisis. The fall 2014 elections would be our first test of an explicitly political grassroots climate organization. Could we turn out voters on a shoestring through fieldwork alone? Short answer: yes, by a lot.

MI06 poll 10-2014 CHVOur endorsed candidate Paul Clements released a poll 6 days before the election showing him down by only 4 points against Fred Upton, with Upton’s support falling 10 points in a month. Given Upton’s prominent position as the chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the fact that we were the only climate/environmental group on the ground in Michigan's Sixth District, we put all the resources we could muster into the Benton Harbor area of Berrien County during those last few days.

No spin - Clements lost.

At the same time, we - and I’m pretty sure it was only Climate Hawks Vote - increased voter turnout among Democrats in six precincts by nearly 40%. Not a typo.

More below the fold.

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Fri Oct 31, 2014 at 10:29 AM PDT

Hey, remember Benton Harbor?

by RLMiller

A few years ago, outrage over segregated Benton Harbor, Michigan was atop the Daily Kos wreck list and even the Rachel Maddow show. We were fascinated by the little twin cities separated only by a bridge, one 92% black with a median income under $9,000, the other 90% white with a median income of $24,949. Benton Harbor and its white counterpart, St. Joseph, have both been represented by Fred Upton since 1986.

Upton is used to cruising to reelection victories. He's chair of the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee, affiliated with the Whirlpool brand still active in southwest Michigan, and has a genial "Uncle Fred" demeanor. But his long history has meant nothing to Benton Harbor. Upton's idea of job creation, as described in a local story: a golf course. Really. Because black people in Benton Harbor with a median income of $9,000 play golf all the time. And two segments of a highway extension - one completed in 2003, the other still on the drawing board. Michigan's wind energy industry is soaring, but not in his district - apparently the chair of the Energy Committee can't bring energy jobs to his district.

Instead of cruising, Upton is acting like someone running scared. A couple of weeks ago Upton ducked his prescheduled debate on the flimsiest of pretexts. He'd scheduled an Ebola hearing some time ago, which was supposed to end at 3 PM, leaving him ample time to travel to Benton Harbor his Michigan district for an 8 PM debate. It was to be his only debate with his Democratic challenger, Paul Clements. But Upton suddenly decided that fearmongering on Ebola conflicted with the only debate with Clements. And gosh, he's just too busy to reschedule.

MI06 poll 10-2014 CHV
Turns out that a poll has Upton's support dropping ten points in a month, and Clements within four points of a major upset.

Climate Hawks Vote endorsed Paul Clements, a true climate hawk, and has been registering voters, phonebanking, and canvassing. Meanwhile, Upton makes our case that his lack of scientific knowledge disqualifies him from public office: "Climate is always changing," he told a newspaper editorial board a couple of weeks ago.

Now that Lawrence Lessig's SuperPAC, MayDayUS, has joined Climate Hawks Vote on the ground, reporters are asking: Is Michigan's most powerful Republican in political danger? (Apparently the Mayday money ticked off Upton. He's said to have personally called tech CEOs who'd contributed to Mayday. If he threatened them with retribution, it would be a huge ethics scandal.)

Kzoo yelling falcon CHVClimate Hawks Vote teamed up with the local NAACP chapter for a candidates' forum Wednesday night. The local Democratic Party will hold a #TurnOutForWhat? voter rally today (sorry, no treats for dressing up as a big spill in the Kalamazoo River). And now we're going all in, with a canvassing/GOTV program to reach African American/ midterm dropoff voters in Benton Harbor and throughout the district.

Because Benton Harbor needs to not be forgotten.

Discuss

SDSen hawk CHVWhen I met Rick Weiland at Netroots Nation 2013, I was struck by two things: his political courage in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, and his detailed grasp of energy efficiency building standards. Curious, I started following him on Twitter. Whereupon I was exhausted just following him online as he barnstormed the state.

Now, I'm proud to report that the fledgling organization I've cofounded, Climate Hawks Vote, is endorsing him to be the next United States Senator from South Dakota.

Meet the Everywhere Man and his 311-town tour of South Dakota:

Rick is running tirelessly on a simple message of taking the country back from the big banksters and Big Oil who have polluted our democracy. The crazy race has not one but two independent spoilers. We’re endorsing Rick for one simple reason: he’s a climate hawk of the prairie populist variety.

Rick has opposed the Keystone XL pipeline from the beginning. Right away he saw the truth of the matter: it's a big money con to risk the prairies of the heartland while putting profits in the pockets of TransCanada. Of particular interest to energy efficiency experts, he has chaired the International Code Council - he spearheaded efforts to create the nation’s first green construction code for commercial buildings and has met with Chinese officials to exchange ideas. Climate Hawks Vote's sophisticated scorecard involves scrutinizing energy efficiency bills introduced by Democrats and throttled by Republicans, so I have no doubt that Rick can translate his experience into bills promoting carbon neutral buildings. Additionally, his time as a regional FEMA director will give him insights into future disaster management as floods and droughts take their toll on the prairie.

And he’s running to limit one of the worst sources of pollution in our political system: the power of Koch money to buy our democracy. His first bill will be to give Congress the power to limit spending. His Republican opponent has a $9 million war chest, so he's been asking ordinary citizens to donate $9.

Now that polls show the race is up for grabs, the NRSC is rushing a $750,000 ad buy - huge in South Dakota's cheap broadcast market - to protect what they thought was a lock. The airwaves will soon be filled with the kind of Big Money ads he's running against. Rick has people on his side, though. Climate Hawks Vote is working with SD NDN PAC to help turn out votes on reservations, especially the Rosebud Sioux Tribe where residents vehemently oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline.

This is the point in a diary in which I'm supposed to beg for money for my organization. I'm not asking. Help me the Rosebud Sioux Tribe get out to vote for a Democratic Senator. Donate via DailyKos!

Discuss

Words fail.

Yes, that's what the Climate Hawks Vote organizer was told in woefully segregated Benton Harbor, Michigan. We've endorsed Paul Clements, challenging Fred Upton in southwest Michigan, and Gary Peters for Senate in Michigan, and we're registering voters in Benton Harbor. Sometimes our organizer runs into truly asinine people, like the one who thinks she's doing black people a disservice by registering them to vote.

Or the one who thinks that voting doesn't change anything. (Hello, #Ferguson#CivilRightsLaw#RaiseTheWage#BlackLivesMatter! she replied.)

black falcon CHVSo's she registering voters at the high school football game (6 voters per game). And the library (9 voters yesterday). And the schools (10 new voters this morning).

In a city of 10,000, it adds up.

We'll be holding a voter registration rally this Saturday, October 4 in Broadway Park, Benton Harbor. Call it a disservice to those who want to keep Fred Upton in power.

And we're registering voters in Maine, where we've endorsed Shenna Bellows for Senate, and San Diego, where we've endorsed Scott Peters for California's 52d Congressional District.

In Hawaii, Climate Hawks Vote organizers made thousands of calls on behalf of climate hawk Brian Schatz, who won his primary by 1600 votes. In Arizona-07, our work on behalf of Ruben Gallego got out the word that his opponent took dirty coal money, and he won his primary. Now we're working fall races.

book CHVWe can't do it without support from grassroots donors, which means a donation request. If you donate by midnight tonight, you'll be entered into a drawing for an autographed copy of Naomi Klein's new book. If you donate later, you're awesome too.I hate asking DailyKos friends for money, but now that I've cofounded Climate Hawks Vote it's clear that money is needed to pay organizers on the ground.

Fine print: One entry per person, going back to September 15. If you've donated within the last week, you get one entry. If you donate between now and September 30, you get one entry. Whether you donate $5 or $5,000, you are one person. We'll put all the names into one beat-up old baseball cap and pick one. Winner announced, and book shipped, on or shortly after October 1. And whether you win or not, check out Klein's book - it's changing the climate debate.

Discuss

Climate Hawks Vote has endorsed Paul Clements, challenging Fred Upton in Michigan's 6th District. A number of voters in Benton Harbor (yes, that Benton Harbor of emergency manager fame) have received mailers that, to put it kindly, blur the distinction between official mailings and campaign advertisements.

Here's the envelope claiming that it's an "official document."
10708422_10152413435823513_1496348227_n
Note: the PO Box address is associated with Upton For All Of Us.

The envelope contained two pieces of paper. The first is an official absentee ballot application.
1186945_10152413438423513_4620842873145776173_n

The second, from Upton For All Of Us, asks: "Can I count on your absentee ballot vote in the general election?" It goes on and on with the usual rant against President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and "burdensome regulations that are hurting our southwest Michigan economy."
10631183_10152413438583513_6213783721280622113_o

Michigan has one of the strictest absentee voter laws in the country. You can only vote absentee if you're over 60, need assistance getting to the polls, in jail,  or otherwise really, really unable to get to the polls on election day. These mailers are being sent indiscriminately to Benton Harbor voters who don't fall into any of these categories. They're nothing but campaign advertisements disguised as "official documents." My Benton Harbor organizer reports that people are confused and angry.

Those burdensome regulations hurting the southwest Michigan economy? That's the Environmental Protection Agency fining Enbridge somewhere between $22 million and $86 million for spilling a bunch of tar sands in the Kalamazoo River in 2010. Upton demanded answers for about a week, then went back to taking money from Enbridge's pals.

On a positive note, Upton For All Of Us hasn't mailed an absentee ballot application to a cat.

Fortunately, voters in southwest Michigan have a real choice. Paul Clements is running against Upton. He's been endorsed by Climate Hawks Vote, because Big Oil and Michigan waters don't mix.

kzoo peregrines CHV

Discuss

The People's Climate March will be the largest climate march in history. Marchers are traveling to New York City from 50 states. While there are dozens if not hundreds of satellite marches throughout the world (I'll be marching at the other end of the country in a place as vulnerable to sea level rise as New York), all eyes will be on New York. Who's marching?

Climate Hawks Vote has a new kind of scorecard measuring not just votes, but also leadership in confronting the greatest challenge facing the next few generations of humanity. We've scored every Democratic member of Congress, looking at their records since January 2011, to see who's engaging the public on climate change. We score bills authored and cosponsored (including bills that have no chance of passing this Congress), websites, press releases, and internal work groups joined, but we weight public engagement far more than any of the other factors. Have you spoken on the House floor? Have you held a community roundtable with concerned business owners? Have you done a photo-op at a local wind farm's ribbon cutting ceremony? If so, you'll score well.

Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy is seen as it makes landfall about five miles (8 km) southwest of Atlantic City, New Jersey in this National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Global Online Enrollment System (GOES)-13 satellite colorized infrared h
Sadly, most of the New York City members of Congress have ducked the climate change issue. That may have worked in pre-Hurricane Sandy days. But the storm has blown a gaping hole in the myth of the city's ability to triumph over whatever the world threw at it.  There's no excuse for silence any longer.

Will Congress march in the streets? Or will the Democratic members of Congress representing New York City maintain their silence?

Democratic stalwarts Steve Israel (NY-03), Carolyn McCarthy (NY-04), Grace Meng (NY-06), Nydia Velasquez, Charlie Rangel (NY-13), and Joe Crowley (NY-14) all have scores of zero in the public engagement column. They've never made a public statement on climate change or clean energy. Gregory Meeks (NY-05) earned a -3 score by questioning the connection between Sandy and climate change. Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) and Jose Serrano (NY-15) have earned above-average scores by fighting against Keystone XL and Republican budget shenanigans, respectively, as has Carolyn Maloney (NY-14). Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) has connected dots between a local water issue and climate change, but otherwise is not engaged. The New York member of Congress with the highest score on our very tough scorecard is upstate Paul Tonko (NY-20).

CHVotes Logo 4Do New York City members of Congress think that urban environments are somehow disconnected from the natural world? Sandy changed that. Do they think that climate change should be placed on the back burner while they fight for jobs and shelter? They can do both; and who do they think will suffer the tax burden of building $20 billion worth of sea walls at the New York City harbor? The People's Climate March will demonstrate to the leaders that ordinary citizens of New York want change. Climate Hawks Vote intends to change the leaders who don't listen to the people.


Sign up For the People's Climate March Now!


New York City, Sunday, September 21


Just three days remain until the historic Peoples' Climate March. The September 21 March is being held two days before the UN Climate Summit, where government and corporate leaders will convene to discuss taking action to address climate change.

Estimates project over 250,000 will march in New York City, with huge marches also scheduled around the world. Over 1000 groups and organizations are participating.

Join the PCM Sprint on Twitter #PeoplesClimate and help amplify the messaging.


Sign up here!!! --> People's Climate March


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