Flip the Senate

This page is a joint effort by Mary and Frani, friends since high school. Frani is tweeting about the Senate races so if you want the latest, check her out on twitter. (Mary is on twitter here.) The Democratic candidates have some great stories, take a look at their pages, and then, exert your influence wherever it will be most powerful.

Here’s the deal:

  • If you live in a state with an important race, volunteer! Turnout is key.
  • If you have friends or family in a state in question, let them know how important their vote is. Visit and volunteer for the Senate campaigns.
  • Call out media whenever you see unfair coverage or framing of issues in ways that will undermine the challenger candidate.
  • If you have funds to contribute, take a look and send.
  • Send some postcards or contact voters in these states.
  • Contact local campaigns and offer your services.
  • Even if it’s not your state, host a local fundraiser for the Senate candidate of your choice.
  • Remind everyone you know to vote.

We will update this page. Feel free to check out other websites. We particularly recommend: the Payback Project from Indivisible..

So, let’s get started.

There are 23 Republican seats contested in this election season. Some of these seats are considered vulnerable and have been specifically targeted by Democratic groups to be flipped. In particular, Indivisible has identified 9 seats that it considers important targets.

Of the other 14 Republican seats, most are considered safe, but all have strong Democratic candidates in the running and remain in play.

Finally, there are 12 Democratic senators running for re-election. Most of these seats are considered safe, but some need special support to protect the Democratic incumbent.

The above categories include four open seats where the incumbent will not be seeking re-election. All of these seats—Kansas, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Wyoming—are considered good opportunities for a Democratic win, in particular, Kansas and New Mexico.

Seats considered targets by the Payback Project (follow link to see page on this site; more pages under development):

Arizona
Colorado
Georgia/Perdue
Iowa
Kentucky
Maine
North Carolina
South Carolina
Texas

Other flippable seats

Alaska
Arkansas
Georgia/Loeffler
Idaho
Kansas
Louisiana
Mississippi
Montana
Nebraska
Oklahoma
South Dakota
Tennessee
West Virginia
Wyoming

Links :

Indivisible
Lincoln Project
Morning Consult
Payback Project

Protecting Species in a Climate Emergency

Act Now

Since I wrote this, a study was published detailing how the waters off our coast are acidifying twice as fast as the global average. Extremely troubling.

The climate emergency puts species at risk for sudden unpredictable annihilation. We can’t control climate change impacts that are already occurring. What we can do right now is act to reduce other threats the species of the world are facing,

Birds are vanishing from North America. We can’t control how changing temperatures and climate will affect bird populations. But we can work to reduce known threats they face from human activities, such as the major threat from pesticides.

I think of a local example of the devastating effects of warmer ocean temperatures and other climate change influences on ecosystems, habitats and species. In the Santa Barbara Channel a few years ago we experienced an unusual warm water event nicknamed the “Blob.” This anomaly together with an El Nino had major impacts, including: major shifts in food webs; a massive epidemic of sea star wasting disease; many seabird and marine mammal die-offs; numerous sea lion pups dying and washing ashore; a harmful algal bloom so extensive it resulted in closure of rock crab fisheries; and much more. While this particular Blob dissipated eventually, we continue to get reports about new warm water anomalies.

Just this year, in May 2019 the National Marine Fisheries Service declared an “Unusual Mortality Event” in response to high numbers of deceased gray whales washing ashore along our coast. Theories about the causes include lack of food in usual foraging areas. This could be related to changes in water temperatures, and it’s not something we can change immediately. But we do know that container ships off our coast strike and kill whales every year.

Whether it’s whales or songbirds, controlling pesticides or ships, it’s clear this can’t be Business as Usual for environmental protection in the era of the Climate Emergency. We know enough to act now to reduce the known threats that we can control. And we must.

Distraction Politics

Outrageous statements by this president distract us constantly. Often there is no time to build the groundswell of outrage into action in one area before we have a new outrage and cause for action. Now, while we are still reeling from the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, the ICE actions in Mississippi raise so many concerns.

We are distracted. And it is hard not to get discouraged.

Perhaps the biggest distraction of all is the constant focus on this president, which makes us think the key to everything is overturning this presidency. Of course we must work for that. But we have to control Congress to implement the programs the current presidential candidates are talking about. We have to elect good candidates to the Senate. Rather than donate to presidential candidates, find a worthy Senate candidate to support. We can’t let distraction politics interfere with the End Game.

Media Gotchas and Green New Deal

A reporter is interviewing a candidate for office about the Green New Deal. The candidate offers some support, or makes a slightly positive remark. Then the question is, “But do you think these goals are achievable?” Gotcha. And we’re in a race for which reporter can be the most skeptical, and which candidate can be the most “realistic,” i.e. negative.

We have to move past this. We have to have goals. We have to think big. Media have to stop creating conflicts to feast on, and our representatives have to have the courage to say, “Yes. We can achieve this if we all work together. And if we don’t set big goals we will make no progress at all.” Senator Feinstein missed a recent opportunity to make more positive statements (see my February 26 2019 letter in the LA Times ). And Senator Klobuchar in her first Town Hall meeting on CNN worked too hard to sound “realistic” in contrast to what she called the “aspirational” goals of the Green New Deal. Embrace the goals, Senator, they are good goals.

We have to get rid of either-or thinking too that makes a false choice between instituting a carbon tax, or passing a giant bill for green jobs and investment in renewable energy. We have to do it all. Work on what we can get done right now, and still have the big goals and visions for the future.


Why March

There are a lot of people in my life who just don’t see the point of going to rallies or marches. Fortunately there are quite a few who do, so I have people to go with. The people who don’t see the point can be pretty vocal. So I am going to try to explain why I do this, and what the point is.

  1. It feels good to give support to  the things I believe in with my physical presence. It feels good to speak together with others with a full voice.
  2. While marches and rallies don’t always get much coverage in the mainstream media – especially if they don’t have the big numbers – these days everyone is taking photos and posting them madly all over social media. The word gets out. It is meaningful that these particular people showed up. If you’re worried about astroturfing, you see the pictures of people you know who were there and it’s real.
  3. It’s a great feeling of connection.  With the community, with other people and other issues.
  4. It’s a way to remind ourselves and others that there are goodhearted people in this country. People who care.

I guess the bottom line is, it feeds me. It gives me energy. It gives me a break from feeling frustrated and helpless. I recommend it.

 

Talking Climate Change

I want to suggest some things to keep in mind when talking climate change. See also my 8-18-18 letter in the LA Times. There’s a lot more to say on all of this, and I will keep coming back to it, but here’s a start.

  • Let’s not cover the deniers anymore, or attempt to counter invalid arguments. I’m not suggesting a monolithic universal-agreement approach. There’s plenty of room for disagreement and debate here. But it can be about addressing the problem; about what to do next and how to do it.
  • Of course we need to talk about adapting to this changing climate. But let’s continue to talk about reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. How many tons of GHG emissions can we reduce with car and truck and train and ship standards?  With more renewable energy? Let’s not give up on trying to stave off the worst potential effects of climate change.
  • Let’s highlight environmental and climate success stories. My favorite lately is the story of the California Sea Star.  Imagine that a species could evolve this quickly for survival. Who knew this could even happen in this kind of a time frame? We shouldn’t overstate successes. But we do need some rays of hope to keep us going.

I loved the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins when I was in high school.  There was a quote I loved in particular:  “And for all this, nature is never spent;  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things…”

These words make me wince when I see them again.  Because of course nature is spent. We are wearing nature out. But I guess we need to find that “dearest freshness” wherever we can, and treasure it.

 

Our California Coast

Updates:

Read a great in-depth LA Times piece on the history of Hollister Ranch beach access.

Since I wrote this post, some really good news:  U.S. Supreme Court declines hearing the Martins Beach case, so the earlier ruling stands.

And the Coastal Commission has asked the state to explore all options to improve public access at Hollister Ranch. Check out this quote from the LA Times article:  Coastal Commissioner Mark Vargas said “Just fundamentally, we should never give up the fight for more public access, particularly for this piece of the coastline where so much is off-limits to the public.”

Original Post:

It’s our coast in California. When we take a walk along the beach we know the only thing to stop us from going further is the tide. It’s a fabulous feeling.

I remember trying to get to the beach in Connecticut years ago. It was strange. It was as if the coast didn’t exist. There would be a postage stamp sized public beach occasionally. Rarely. I remember looking at a map just to reassure myself that I wasn’t crazy, there was coastline in Connecticut. It was just all owned and declared to be private property with No Trespassing signs.

Thanks to the Coastal Act this isn’t our way in California. The coast belongs to all of us. We will always have people fighting for public access to our beaches, and making sure we get it. We will have people exercising our right to public access. When people buy property that has beach public access and try to change that – even though they knew what they were getting into – our Coastal Commission will let them know they can take a hike. Wealth doesn’t beat us down or take away our coastline. It’s a fabulous feeling.

Until it isn’t. We’ve had some problems at the Coastal Commission. And we’ve had some issues not go our way. And now, just up the road from me, the beautiful coastline of the Hollister Ranch property is not going to be accessible. No wait. It will be accessible from the water. That will go well.

I’m about to retire. One of the things I thought I would do when I retired, is walk the California coast and see all our lovely coastline and exercise my right to public access. It could get interesting. I will post updates.

Partnerships

Finding a solution that addresses multiple problems is satisfying, if rare. Forming partnerships around this kind of solution is even better.

In Air

I’ve always been fascinated with air, with flight, and the transition from stillness to movement in air.