Posted by: vernacularsnoop | February 12, 2009

Instant runoff voting bill introduced in New York state assembly

A member of the New York state assembly has introduced a bill that would allow for use of instant runoff voting in local elections. Full story at New Yorkers for Instant Runoff Voting.

For more information on instant runoff voting and how it could give democracy in America a boost, check out FairVote.

Posted by: vernacularsnoop | November 12, 2008

Good news for Greens: Malik Rahim running for Congress

malik-rahimMalik Rahim is running for Congress in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District against Rep. William Jefferson in an election that has been delayed until December 6th due to Hurricane Gustav. Malik Rahim is known around New Orleans as the founder of Common Ground, the volunteer organization that provided free basic services to thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina. William Jefferson is known around the country as the congressman who had $90,000 cash in his freezer when the FBI paid a visit to his office one day. He is currently facing trial on 16 counts of corruption.

Louisiana’s 2nd district gave less than 20% to the Republicans in 2006, so in an even worse year for the GOP, there’s no reason to expect that the little-known Republican challenger will make a dent. Malik Rahim, on the other hand, is a hero to many in New Orleans. Once people find out that he’s running, momentum will build and allow him to make a serious run at this seat. Furthermore, the delayed election means that progressives around the country can unite behind this community organizer with a message of hope to help him defeat the uber-corrupt incumbent.

I am telling everyone I know about Malik and recommending that they visit his (very well-designed!) website, Donate, subscribe for email updates, and pass it on.

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Green Ferret has slowed down recently because the author has been working on Green Change and the Green Change Network. Give these sites a look if you dig this blog.

Richard Carroll, Arkansas State Representative, 39-G

Richard Carroll, Arkansas State Rep. 39-G

The election of November 4th, 2008, saw the second Green elected to an American state legislature as Richard Carroll of North Little Rock decisively won the race for state representative in Arkansas’ District 39. Carroll has been a boilermaker and union organizer in Arkansas for 30 years. His friends and colleagues know him as a dedicated organizer who cares about the men and women of Local 69 of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and works tirelessly for their benefit.

Carroll, who wants to repeal the grocery tax and expand educational opportunities for young people, became the only ballot-listed candidate when the incumbent was removed from the ballot by his own party for unethical conduct. He faced two Democrats running write-in campaigns, but was easily elected after earning endorsements from the United Transportation Union, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Arkansas State Electrical Workers Association, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the Central Labor Council of Arkansas, as well as the endorsement of the heavy-hitting Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Richard Carroll is the second Green elected to a state legislature in the United States, after John Eder of Portland, Maine, who was elected to Maine’s State House in 2002.

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Green Ferret has slowed down recently because the author has been working on Green Change and the Green Change Network – check out these sites if you like this blog.

Posted by: vernacularsnoop | October 3, 2008 Open the debates… or we will!

Once again, the Commission on Presidential Debates – a private corporation founded by Republican and Democratic party bosses, run by lobbyists, and sponsored by big corporations – has locked the door to all presidential candidates outside the two corporate-sponsored parties. Sorry, little Billy.

The good news is that people are starting to take notice and fight back… and if that Ron Paul/Ralph Nader/Cynthia McKinney/Chuck Baldwin joint news conference didn’t convince you that change is coming, then just might. Inspired by the “Third Party Unity” press conference, is holding a money bomb to sponsor an open presidential debate with all six ballot-qualified candidates – Baldwin, Barr, McCain, McKinney, Nader, and Obama – invited to participate.

What is a money bomb, you ask? Here’s how it works: visitors to the site pledge to donate on a set day, which in this case is Wednesday 8 October 2008. You don’t have to commit to a certain amount – it’s enough to simply pledge that you’ll donate something. When the day of the money bomb arrives, pledgers will be reminded by email to donate, and visitors to the site will be able to watch in real time as the open debate fund surges upward. Raising a large amount of money in a short period of time generates media buzz, which means more people hear about and watch the debate.

If reaches 10,000 pledges by October 8th – and they’re already at 7,500 as of October 3rd – then the plan for an open debate in New York City will go forward. The debate will be broadcast online at As Cynthia McKinney put it: “If not us… who? If not now… when?”

Posted by: vernacularsnoop | September 11, 2008

Ron Paul urges third-party vote

In a post called “Ron Paul’s antiwar message,” I asked why popular libertarian-leaning Republican Ron Paul wasn’t helping to build a viable alternative to the two-party system that has saddled America with permanent war, massive deficits, and weakening civil liberties. Well, now Ron Paul has made me eat my words, and I couldn’t be happier about it. In a joint press conference with Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney, independent candidate Ralph Nader, and Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, Paul called on his supporters to vote for the candidate that they agree with on the issues, saying that the Democratic and Republican parties in Washington no longer represent the majority of Americans. Paul decried the Commission on Presidential Debates, a corporation controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties that restricts participation in the debates to candidates from the two corporate-sponsored parties. He also attacked the strategy of supporting the lesser of evils and quoted from the book “Tragedy and Hope” by Carol Quigley:

“argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy (Tragedy and Hope: 1247-1248).” 

Ron Paul talks to the press about why voters should support alternative parties:

Ralph Nader speaks at Ron Paul’s press conference about opening the debates:

Cynthia McKinney discusses election integrity at the press conference:

Recently I reported that an independent member of Canada’s parliament had joined the Green Party, overcoming what many saw as the final obstacle to inclusion of Green leader Elizabeth May in the televised debates for Canada’s party leaders. Shortly afterwards, however, the opposition of the Conservative and New Democratic parties to May’s participation spurred Canadian networks to announce that the Green leader would not be allowed to debate. Now, in the face of public outrage at this undemocratic collusion of party bosses to restrict the debate, the networks have decided that May will be included after all. The full story from can be read here:

May says democracy wins as Green leader wins debate slot

The fact that there is public debate about the debates is a sign of a healthy democracy. Those of us in the US who are working for open and democratic debates should take inspiration from this story.

Posted by: vernacularsnoop | September 11, 2008


I haven’t been posting recently because I’ve been busy relocating to beautiful Oslo, Norway, home of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Thanks to the magic of the interweb, I will continue to share my thoughts on American, international and cosmic politics as often as I am able.

Posted by: vernacularsnoop | September 4, 2008

Want to see what an honest politician looks like?

That’s what you should ask your friends and family when you invite them to watch Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney on C-SPAN’s “Road to the White House” this upcoming Sunday, September 7th, at 6:30 pm (and again at 9:30 pm if you prefer). McKinney is intelligent, accomplished, courageous, principled, and brutally honest… but don’t take my word for it – watch C-SPAN on Sunday September 7th at 6:30 and 9:30 pm and decide for yourself!

Cynthia McKinney

Cynthia McKinney

Posted by: vernacularsnoop | September 4, 2008

Local democracy leads to greater happiness

I wanted to share an interesting passage from the book “Happiness: lessons from a new science” by Richard Layard about the positive effects of decentralized decision-making on general happiness:

“A recent study of democracy in Switzerland has produced remarkable results. In every Swiss canton (or region) policies are often decided by referendum. But in some cantons citizens have more rights to demand referendums than in others. It turns out that people are much happier where they have more rights to referendums. If we compare those cantons where these rights are the most extensive with those where they are the least extensive, the difference in happiness is as great as if they had double the income. These findings are highly relevant to the role of local democracy.” (Layard 70, 2005)

Mountain lake in Switzerland

Mountain lake in Switzerland

Posted by: vernacularsnoop | September 4, 2008

Ron Paul’s antiwar message

On September 2nd, former presidential candidate Ron Paul spoke at a counter-convention in Minneapolis outside the Republican National Convention. Despite his strong dark-horse showing in the primaries, Paul was barred from speaking at the RNC. The following excerpt from his remarks, courtesy of Democracy Now!, may explain why Republican bosses didn’t want the maverick congressman to address their party:

    RON PAUL: You know, they like to describe us being on the fringe and a little bit kooky now and then, but isn’t that—isn’t that rather strange? We talk about these strange things, like balanced budgets, personal liberty, privacy, a sound national defense, defend this country. And we—and they want to say that these are bizarre ideas. But it’s time now for some just very good common sense.

    You know, they harp about the need to be around the world. And right now, the candidates out there of the major parties don’t have really difference in their foreign policy. They both want more troops in Afghanistan. They really want to maintain bases in the Middle East for a long time. They want to threaten Iran.

    And lo and behold, lo and behold, both candidates now think we should send more of your money to Georgia to protect that oil line. And that’s not the state of Georgia, either. You know, I told somebody once, I said, “Here we are messing around with Georgia. Well, before we know it, we’ll be sending troops over there, and our kids will be dying over there. And since they got out of public school, they probably don’t even know where the country of Georgia is.” And somebody said, “They probably don’t even know where the state of Georgia is.”

    But it is positively amazing how the war drums can beat and how the propaganda machine can work and how this country is—you know, can be built up to practically want to go to war against Iran. You know, Iran spends—Iran spends one percent as much money on their national defense as we spend. They have no missiles, no airplane, no tanks and no nuclear weapons. The UN inspectors say they don’t have it. And we’re supposed to be intimidated and scared. And we put anti-ballistic missiles on the border of Russia, because the Iranians might shoot missiles at us that they don’t even have. The Iranians—the Iranians, if you want to put it into perspective, they don’t even refine their own gasoline, and we’re supposed to be frightened and intimidated by them. We’ve got to get the truth out. That is what we need.

    Paul has declined to endorse Republican nominee John McCain. He has also declined to run for president with another party, such as the Libertarians, many of whom agree with his message of smaller, more accountable government. Ron Paul supporters often say that the goal of their movement is to take over the Republican party with Paul’s ideas, which they claim represent the true ideals of the Republican base. This strategy would seem to ignore the fact that the lifeblood of the Republican party apparatus is money from big corporations, including the fossil fuel industry and the military-industrial complex. A message like Paul’s in support of a sane foreign policy will be fought tooth and nail by the war profiteers and their cronies in the Republican leadership.

    Why didn’t Ron Paul run with the Libertarian party? In doing so, he could have drawn support from John McCain – who Ralph Nader has called “the candidate for perpetual war” – and helped to establish a strong independent party, outside the corrupt GOP, by earning 5% of the national vote for the Libertarians. Hopefully, libertarians will give up trying to revive the Republican party and allow it to be crushed under the weight of its disproven ideas.

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