EDITOR'S NOTE: In response to that constant question we're hearing — "What can I do to defeat George Bush?" — EW offers a new column aimed at November 2004. The author is Dan Carol, Eugenean who founded Carol/Trevelyan Strategy Group (www.ctsg.com),the left's leading laboratory for political engagement and experimentation. CTSG, with offices in Eugene and Washington, D.C., is a 10-year-old, 60-person political consultancy specializing in communications strategy, grassroots and the Internet. CTSG's clients and partners include Moveon.org, Amnesty International USA, Working Assets, SEIU, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Rock the Vote. Carol started the firm after serving as research director for the Democratic National Committee during the '92 presidential cycle, where he directed staff work on the party's platform and worked in Little Rock on the Clinton debate team. As a pioneer of new generation politics and issues marketing, Carol built the first U.S. Senate website in 1994, led an independent effort to derail Ollie North's Senate ambitions, served as a "truth squad" leader at three GOP conventions, and was profiled by the Wall Street Journal in 2000. When he isn't annoying the Bushies with projects like Misleader.org, Carol has taught political science at UO, co-coached fourth grade hoop stars at Edison elementary school, and assisted school funding campaigns in Eugene. His full "Kumbaya Dammit" rap for progressive reform in Nation magazine can be read on www.kumbayadammit.com
Welcome to the progressive no-whining zone. A place you can visit, every two weeks or so, to connect to smart projects and new pathways to power. The bottom line: We know 10 times over what's wrong with George Bush, weenie Democrats and all that jazz. So let's stop documenting the dilemmas — and instead begin pouring concrete on a new foundation to make it right.
This time: a national security strategy to feel good about.
Ready for regime change? I bet you are. But it's not going to happen if we can't make the majority of Americans feel safe.
Fortunately, there' s a new project called The Apollo Alliance that's baking up a tasty new recipe for clean energy, national security and jobs, jobs, jobs.
Imagine spending serious money — like George Bush does for tax cut trillions and Halliburton handouts — on an ambitious 10-year, $300 billion effort for sustainable jobs, cleaner manufacturing, youth and urban apprenticeships and smarter transportation. The program pays for itself with jobs and greater energy independence in U.S. exports. Revitalizes the U.S. manufacturing base. Creates three million jobs. Heals labor vs. environmental grouchiness over Arctic drilling. Fuels the hopeful, can-do spirit that put America on the moon. And maybe even inspires the right kind of patriotism.
So what's not to like? In polls, the Apollo initiative is testing off the charts with Joe Six-Pack voters — the voting block we need to win crucial Rust Belt states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan in 2004. On the campaign trail, Democratic presidential candidates are offering dueling Apollo-type policy plans. Across the country, high-tech and environmental leaders like the Sierra Club's Carl Pope are also joining 17 major unions in saying yes to the Apollo approach.
Slowly, but surely, the political wedge that George Bush drove between labor and environment is beginning to close. That's good news — because we need Turtles and Teamsters to march together in 2004 (like they did in Seattle in 1999).
Frankly it still amazes me that neither Bush nor the Democrats in Congress stepped forward with an ambitious crash effort like this before. It seemed like such a no-brainer in the wake of Sept. 11th.
Call me nostalgic, but I remember my grandfather sharing stories of how he saved aluminum foil in World War II. I am inspired by the images of Rosie the Riveter. I believe we must fight terrorism — but the fight begins when we come together around a shared vision of hope and optimism — not the fear that fuels the Bush policies.
Sappy I know, but I think the greatest generation is yet to come.
So check out www.apolloalliance.org— there's a top-flight, 10-point policy plan and a bottom-up, grassroots strategy for infusing these ideas into the presidential debate in key primary states like Iowa.
For you policy wonks, imagine big block grants to deficit-starved states, to seed regional strategies without a one-size-fits-all solution, tied to hard targets and caps on greenhouse gas emissions. But before the laws can change or the money can move, first we gotta win — and Apollo is the winning (not whiny!) message for Democrats in 2004.
A few years back, singer/songwriter Arlo Guthrie offered this encouragement at one of his concerts: "In a world that sucks — like this one does — you don't have to do a lot to make a difference."
While preparing a handout for an Environmental Citizenship and Leadership class at Whitman College recently, I came to a related conclusion: To accomplish something that is significantly more socially or environmentally respectful than what is going on, just coordinate with enough people, wisely, for long enough.
The class handout I was working on was a list of different environmental campaigns I've been privileged to be a part of during the past 22 years. In many campaigns, my role was tiny compared to others, I worked pretty hard in some others, and I was one of the ringleaders in a few. But the amazing thing was that we had succeeded in almost all of the 21 campaigns I was remembering.
Obviously, we haven't succeeded in bringing human population numbers or energy consumption within the bounds of Earth's resources. We haven't succeeded in restoring habitat needed by the amazing creatures that were winging through air, navigating oceans, or hiking around on land in large numbers, say, 200 years ago. We haven't prevented the heartbreaking rise of childhood cancer and pre-birth damage caused by toxics in human tykes, salmon fingerlings, or any other of Earth's kids. (Yesterday I received a note from a friend. Her 13-year-old daughter, having struggled through 2.5 years of chemotherapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia, is now battling a secondary leukemia caused by the chemotherapy.) The world is, ecologically speaking, moving at a brisk pace toward hell in a handbasket.
But what I realized while preparing this handout was that nearly all the campaigns had succeeded: Electing an anti-herbicide school board majority and developing processes for alternative grounds management. Writing and passing a state groundwater law. Stopping in Australia what was to be the world's largest chlorine-using pulp mill. Stopping what was to be the 10th chlorine-using pulp mill on the Columbia River. Preventing aerial spraying of toxic pesticides over Lane County for gypsy moth. Co-founding Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide. Writing and passing the only local materials accounting toxics right-to-know law in the nation. Preventing the development of five large drive-in overlooks and a 10-year series of clearcuts on the western rim of Hells Canyon. Vastly reducing the use of herbicides in the national forests of western Oregon and Washington. Protecting high-class farmland on the banks of the Willamette River from being mined illegally for gravel. Protecting the Willamette Valley's last wet prairie wetlands from an unneeded five-lane highway. Co-founding MADelk and halting the importation of elk to elk ranches in Oregon. Co-founding Oregon Toxics Alliance. Switching the destruction of U.S. nerve gas weapons from out-of-control toxic incineration to water-based neutralization at three U.S. sites. And so on.
Along the way, there were some "losses" and it's not yet clear whether we'll succeed soon at a few other, ongoing efforts. But many of the losses were later turned into successes, by persevering around the temporary obstacles.
None of these successes would have been possible without many, many people coordinating on many, many tasks over a long period of time. None of them, in other words, were accomplished by one or two egos acting alone, and none happened quickly or easily.
The point, though, is that no matter how bleak the situation, citizens can and do make a difference on behalf of social decency (in contrast, but not opposition, to personal decency), environmental sanity and democracy. We owe the 40-hour work week, unions, civil rights, wilderness, National Parks, Social Security, Medicaid, our ongoing democratic system, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act — indeed, everything that lifts us up above naked exploitation, greed, and short-term profit — to people who worked together, wisely, for a long time.
And that's what it will take to reverse the current and terrifying undermining of everything other than the military that is public, such as public lands, health, social supports, water, and education; the undermining of civil rights, transparent democracy, international rules about waging war, progressive taxation — you name it. That's what it will take to restore older and institute newer ways of taking care of the whole world: people working together, wisely, for a long time.
But be assured your help is needed. Those who promote naked exploitation, greed and short-term profit are working together, too.
Mary O'Brien of Eugene has worked as a public interest scientist for the past 22 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a daughter attending the UO, you may want to flip through the new "Oh Girls" calendar; lucky you, she might be in it. Produced by Zach Patterson, a recent graduate of the UO Lundquist School of Business, the "Oh Girls" calendar features "Maxim style" images of young UO students in suggestive outfits, glazed in soap, relaxing on hay-bales and getting it on in hot tubs.
Well, "getting it on" may be a little misleading, as the calendar contains no full nudity, but if "getting it on" means, "Look at me and mentally masturbate," or "Here's what women are good for," then the "Oh Girls" calendar is definitely getting it on.
Initially, said Patterson, the calendar was slated for a UO logo license. Patterson's June concept pitch, more cutesy, less racy than the final "Oh Girls" product, to the UO Office of Trademark Management (OTM) included women in UO clothing, with UO props, with a UO title, to be sold, hopefully, at the UO Bookstore.
Despite a rejection by the UO, "Oh Girls" did in fact make it onto UO Bookstore shelves, for approximately an hour and a half on Tuesday, Sept. 30. Then the bookstore got a call from the UO "requesting" the calendars be pulled. They were, immediately, and in an effort of good faith, Patterson bought them back.
In an attempt to discover why the product had not been given the UO go-ahead, Anita Nickell, the assistant director of the OTM, told me, "The only thing I can tell you is that has not come through our office as a licensed product."
To further describe my scintillating phone conversation with Nickell, I should say she also added, "It has not been licensed by this office," "I can only tell you that it hasn't been licensed by this office" and, "That calendar did not come through as such, no."
In an attempt to dig a bit deeper, I spoke with the director himself, Matt Dyste, who cleared things up with, "That product was not licensed by the University of Oregon."
So "Oh Girls" didn't get licensing. Therefore, Patterson altered the product. He told the models (some were friends and others were referred to him by word of mouth) that the calendar wasn't going to be licensed but they were going to go ahead anyway, make it sexier and take out all the references that would lead one to believe it was a licensed product. And as before, payment to the women models would still be nothing, except, of course, the salute of an occasional frat-room grunt.
Patterson has been selling "Oh Girls" on 13th Avenue, with what one reporter described as a humongous wad of cash in his pocket.
While the calendar's primary colors are yellow and green, and the students are from the university and the title of the calendar is the "Oh Girls," Dyste gave Patterson a letter asking him to voluntarily stop selling the calendar, as they were concerned the product design could possibly infringe on UO licensing and trademarks. Though Patterson had a lawyer respond with a letter of their own, saying, as Patterson put it, "Leave me alone," Patterson hopes the UO Bookstore — which is very concerned with the opinions of the OTM — will still carry "Oh Girls" — and "Oh Guys" in 2004.
So, if you're at all worried that your little darling is hiding something from you but nothing from others, Zach Patterson, who said, "I wanted all the pictures to be something the girls would feel fine about showing to their families," is selling the calendars on 13th Avenue on campus.