Robert Meeropol





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my perennial chaos

"Robby & Elli" 1968


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Robby speaking at the re-launch of the Mary Pitawanakwat Fund in Toronto

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STILL OUT ON A LIMB

Green By The Numbers

October 23, 2016

Tags: 5% for Green Party

I hope my readers don’t find this repetitious, but perhaps for the final time before the election, I will attempt to convince some of you to vote for Jill Stein instead of Hillary Clinton. I am only addressing those who live in deep blue states. And I am focusing on those who will vote for Clinton even though they dislike her policies. If you like her positions, we disagree, but it makes sense to vote for the person you agree with.

It doesn’t make sense, if you live in a deep blue state, to hold your nose and vote for Clinton. Simply put, a vote for Stein in these states, not only WON’T, but CAN’T, be a vote for Trump. This is because we have a winner-take-all, state-by-state electoral college system of electing presidents. The national vote total is irrelevant. Only the 50 state-based electoral college votes count.

As the election approaches, Trump’s nose dive in the polls provides a clear picture of why voting for Stein in deep blue states can’t help Trump. Numbers tell the story.

The latest compilation of polling data in Massachusetts from RealPolitics.com show Clinton with 53% of the vote and Trump with 28%. We don’t know the percentage of Clinton’s voters on the left who are only voting for her out of Trumpophobia. Since we’re not a big percentage of the voting public, I doubt such people comprise more than 10% of her total support. What if those 10% voted for Jill Stein. Trump’s percentage would stay the same, Clinton’s would drop to 48% so she’d still win by 20%. Stein’s percentage would jump to 8%, which would be a real eye-opener and a boost for those fighting climate change.

The latest compilation of polling data in New York from RealPolitics.com show Clinton with 52.7% of the vote to Trump’s 31.7%. California is similar: 51% to 31%. If 10% of Clinton supporters voted, instead, for Jill Stein, Jill would get 8% of the votes in those states. That’s important because 8% in those relatively populous states, especially California, would virtually assure her of getting 5% nationally.

A 5% national total guarantees the Green Party a place on the ballot in all 50 states in the next Presidential election. The Green Party spent $500,000 on qualifying campaigns for this election cycle and it is only on the ballot in 38 states. It would give the party a lift next time around to have this taken care of in advance.

Moreover, those who hold their noses and vote for Clinton in blue deep states are throwing away their votes. Clinton would win those states anyway. Worse, by increasing Clinton’s majority they’d boost policies they disagree with by expanding Clinton’s “mandate.”

Something could happen in the two weeks before the election to undermine my argument. It pays to monitor the news and the polls. If things don’t change, however, voting Green in places like, Massachusetts, New York, California, Oregon and Washington will aid the Greens without helping Trump. Please don’t let fear cloud your judgement. Don’t blow your chance to vote your beliefs.

Talkin’ about my Generation…

October 8, 2016

Tags: Millennials, Old Left, New Left

As a college student 50 years ago, I got into arguments with my parents’ Old Left comrades. They criticized my generation for our long hair, ratty clothes and musical taste; they labeled our radical politics as indulgence. They didn’t understand our cultural revolution, didn’t approve of the tactics we employed to end the War in Vietnam and thought the concept of Black Power was madness. They told us we should be fighting for integration and organizing the working class. But we formed the core of a new movement that, along with the draftees in Vietnam who rose up against their officers, helped end the War in Vietnam. Our cultural revolution sparked the second wave of feminism and the gay rights movement. The militant cry for Black liberation echoed down the decades to be resurrected by Black Lives Matter.

In those years we, not our parents, had our finger on the pulse of the nation. We had a better sense of what fights needed fighting. We were inexperienced, impulsive, arrogant and, too often, obnoxious. We made stupid mistakes. But our analysis of what needed to be done at that moment was more accurate than that of the Old Left. In the long run we couldn’t sustain a radical vision and a cohesive movement strong enough to ward off the right’s counter offensive, and our dream of revolution crumbled.

Still, my parents’ generation failed to understand that while they had a lot to teach us, we had much to teach them. Could my generation be making the same mistake today?

Half a century later, radical Millennials echo who we New Leftists were in the 1960’s. We had the draft; they got screwed by the crash of 2008. We had nightmares about nuclear annihilation; they face global famine, resource wars, and mass social breakdown. They understand that the current political/economic system is unacceptable, that the approaching biospheric collapse means that everything has changed, and our politics must change along with it if most of them are to survive. Is it possible that we are too quick to dismiss their perspective just as our parents did with us?

Today, my age-mates argue that the two million young radicals (the core of Jill Stein’s 2.7 million voters) are just stomping their feet and holding their breath because Bernie is not the nominee. My age-mates reject young radicals’ argument that although Trump’s environmental policies are worse, both are unacceptable, since Clinton’s policies will cause us to cross tipping points that will destroy the productive capacity of the planet. Aging New Leftists counter that with Clinton in office we’ll have more time to save the biosphere. But does this ignore the science of tipping points and positive feedback loops? Some claim we can move Clinton towards our position, despite her history and her allies. Radical Millennials tell us no, that the environmental crisis has become so acute that maintaining the status quo against something that is even worse still jeopardizes our survival. Could they be right?

There are a few million aging but engaged 1960’s radicals and left-liberals in this country. What if those who live in deep blue states whose electoral votes will still go to Clinton even without their support, voted Green? What if a significant portion of them joined the Millennials who have picked up our banner? If that happened, the Green Party might reach 5% of the vote, qualifying them to be on the ballot in all states in the 2018 federal elections.

Maybe the growing climate change generated calamities of the coming four years will cause more of my old activist buddies to understand that Millennials who won’t vote for Clinton aren’t throwing temper tantrums, or wasting their vote, but rather, are looking ahead to build a movement for change. Maybe radical Millennials have more to teach us than we realize.

How much time do we have?

October 1, 2016

Tags: Climate change timetable

Last month the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released the figures for last year’s greenhouse gas emissions. What a grim picture: more greenhouse gases were released into the atmosphere in 2015 than in any previous year; the rate of growth was increasing, and these emissions have so far caused an increase of one degree Celsius in global temperature. In response, climate scientists concluded that we have approximately five years to start reducing our fossil fuel usage before we cross tipping points to globe-spanning disaster.

Last week Bill McKibben published Recalculating the Climate Math. He wrote that the most recent numbers released by the think tank Oil Change International (OCI) show “how much of the fossil fuel in the world’s existing coal mines and oil wells we can burn if we want to prevent global warming from cooking the planet…[and] how much more new digging and drilling can we do? Here’s the answer: zero.”

McKibben quotes OCI’s Stephen Kretzmann’s statement that keeping it in the ground does not mean stopping all production of fossil fuel instantly. No new drilling coupled with letting “current fields begin their natural decline, [means] you’ll be using 50 percent less oil by 2033.” McKibben concludes: “That gives us 17 years … to replace all that oil with renewable energy” and we have enough time and the means to make this happen.

One trustworthy source says five years, another talks about 17. But since they are focusing on different aspects of the same problem they actually complement, rather than contradict, each other.

The most recent NOAA data tells us we have until just after the end of the next President’s term in office to start implementing comprehensive changes in our energy policy. This means no more fracking or fossil fuel infrastructure development, as well as a massive investment in renewable energy on a scale we have not seen since the retooling of our economy at the start of World War II. McKibben’s new math article tells us if we plan for this transformation and begin its implementation within five years, we may be able to make substantial enough reductions in our fossil fuel usage in the next 17 years to avoid, just barely, crossing the deadly 1.5 to 2 degree C temperature increase that would spell global disaster.

While this time frame is short and may be overly optimistic, this information is a boon for our movement. The enormity of the problem coupled with its indefinite timeline has paralyzed many of us. While these new numbers do not reduce the challenge, pinning down how much time we have makes our situation more concrete. Setting clear goals and clarifying our time limits makes it easier to activate people.

We have our marching orders. Since any new fracking, or continued expansion of oil extraction, even if coupled with increased use of renewables, will make it impossible to meet our five and seventeen year deadlines, we must organize our movement and its demands around this timetable.

Selected Works

Memoir
"Bravery is rare. Tyranny is commonplace. Both define the life of Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol-who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution-his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs."
Publisher's Weekly
"one of those rare books everyone should read"
–Joyce Carol Oates

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