Sunday, July 31, 2005


Howdy by Jove

Confirming some of my comments in the recent Political Police post, I read today about the New York City cops handcuffing and forcing to their knees a group of British Sikh tourists after a city bus driver alerted them to suspicious people onboard. Which reminded me of the post 9/11 hysteria in San Francisco, where my East Indian female college professor was denied access to a Muni bus by the driver who claimed she looked like an Arab.

Later in the week--after ten innocent American citizens had been murdered for looking foreign--I spotted an older Sikh gentleman waiting at a bus stop wearing a giant Stetson over his turban.


They are Somebody

West Bank photos from kids' view:

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Out of Canada

Two items from our happy neighbors to the north:

Friday, July 29, 2005


Something Different

A nod to our newest endeavor


Political Police

I was talking with my significant other this morning at breakfast about how the murder of the Brazilian on his way to work, because he lived in the same apartment building as suspected terrorists, ranks right up there with the truck driver who pulled into a convenience store and blew away a Sikh clerk after 9/11. And we proceeded to discuss how cops are just humans, often young and not exceptionally bright, and every bit as susceptible to prejudice and hysteria on the heels of a mass catastrophe or critical incident as anyone else, except that they are armed and licensed to kill. The fact that these frontline specialists in public safety chose to tail a suspected terrorist (in their hyper-deluded imaginations anyway) for two miles before attempting to apprehend/murder him, only highlights the stupidity factor.

So I'm reading and I come across this item from my sophomore year in high school:

Seattle police raid Black Panther office in Central Area, setting off riots, on July 29, 1968.
On July 29, 1968, seven Seattle policemen and two civilians are wounded by gunfire and rocks during a Central Area riot prompted by a police raid on the Seattle office of the Black Panther Party.
Aaron Dixon and Curtis Harris, co-captains of Seattle's Black Panther Party, were arrested for possession of a "stolen" (planted?) typewriter.
The riot continued despite an appeal from Dixon from the King County Jail, delivered by his lawyer William Dwyer (1929-2002), that such a response "will only jeopardize the lives of masses of black people" (Crowley).
In the matter of the typewriter, Dixon and Harris were later acquitted.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


On the End of a Rope

Pluggin' Driftglass till he's number one almost seems like a patriotic duty. At any rate, he's in fine form again with his latest:

Bush White House sociopathic, or congenital liars?--you be the judge. (And don't pass up the comments on this one.)



Some things just seem to go together. Borrowing from items featured at Arvin Hill and Metafilter, here's a scoop of pistachio and chocolate:

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Time to Harvest Rebellion

Journalism's civil war is reported in wonderful detail.

The "time to harvest rebellion" against the commercial media that has "supplanted powers reserved for governments and civil society" is given life by examples from the valiant, determined campesinos and indigenous peoples from Mexico to Argentina, who are creating community media without permission or license from the governments that serve the powerful.

In providing us this look at the authentic democracies blossoming in the non-electoral social movements of the South, we get a glimpse of both the risks and rewards of communicating without the commercial gatekeepers--a war that, to succeed, requires both information and weaponry.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


They Must All Go!

Whiskey Bar's July 26 Cease Fire Violation is remarkably restrained considering the topic--Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's call Monday for a cease-fire among warring factions of the Democratic Party.

Considering the DLCs Blueprint Magazine piece Liberal's War July 22, 2005,
in which Peter Ross Range (the Blueprint editor) attacks the blogging community--what Billmon terms the "intellectual bloodstream of the Democratic Party "-- it appears the DLC is not only comprised of gutless morons, but has decided to commit public suicide.

As Billmon notes, "For the first time since I don't know when -- maybe ever -- there's actually an intellectual faction within the Democratic Party that doesn't have to go crawling to Big Business or Shrinking Labor for its supper."
And what does the DLC do?

I suppose the day had to come sooner or later when the national leadership of the Democratic Party would be seen for what it is: the minority wing of the political system that has declared war on its worst enemy--the American people.

While Whiskey Bar's illustrious editor suggests maybe it would be better if the two camps just sort of ignored each other, to "Live and let live," I'm of another mind. Something more along the lines of the Argentine Pequeteros' motto Que se vayan todos!


Settlers v. Indians Today

This brief July 2000 guide to the anti-sovereignty movement nicely complements the more in-depth material available in the sidebar under Documents. As natural resources become more scarce as a consequence of industrial profligacy, American Indians will be under increasingly serious pressure to relinquish their rights under national and international law. In order to be prepared to help counter the inevitable violence of a movement constructed around racism, an understanding of the settler psychology and strategy is a basic requirement.


Pattern of Life

An informative article from way back when a Native American ran for Vice President of the US, can be found at


Sin Patrones

An inspiring solution to unemployment by the Piqueteros of Argentina can be read at


Forgotten War

A belated welcome and thank you to World War 4 Report

WW4 REPORT has been monitoring the global War on Terrorism and its implications for human rights, democracy and ecology since the immediate aftermath of 9-11. With an international network of contacts and correspondents, we scan the world press and Internet for important stories overlooked by the mass media, and examine the headlines with a critical eye for distortion, deceit and propaganda. We report on the forgotten wars outside the media spotlight, and seek out unexamined contexts that go beyond mainstream sound-bite coverage. We endeavor to expose the corporate agendas behind the new military interventions, and to find pro-autonomy, anti-militarist voices we can support in the countries under imperialist assault. We especially seek to loan solidarity to land-rooted, stateless, and indigenous peoples—the "Fourth World." Above all, we are committed to real journalism (as opposed to mere opinion-spewing and bloggery), and seek through our example to resist its alarming decline. We are fastidiously non-sectarian, and our first loyalty is always to the truth.

Monday, July 25, 2005


Perception Management

For those of you who missed the commentary two years ago about how the US government strategically misinformed and mislead the American people, posted here you might want to jump right in and read USAF (retired) Colonel Sam Gardiner's report on the US strategic information campaign against truth.


Cursed by God

from July 25 Metafilter]

"We must remain faithful to the established principles of the scientific method and not allow theological beliefs and dogma to interfere," Pedro Chequer, director of the Brazilian government's AIDS program, said in an interview in Brasilía. [NYT link] Earlier this year Brazil was the first country to reject US aid for fighting HIV/Aids because of the provision in The Leadership Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003 which would have required Brazil, where prositution is regulated and legal, to condemn commercial sex work.

Along with the global gag rule, which prevents NGOs receiving US aid from discussing abortion with their clients (or even from advocating for safe and legal abortions with their own governments), US policies based on theological imperatives are endangering women worldwide. "Using a conservative estimate, U.S. assistance could have helped prevent 10 percent of the over 2 million deaths in developing countries from unsafe abortion over the past 30 years." Also: The Global Gag Rule Impact Project.


Uncivil Affairs

[from ]

People of Dissent of all ages took to the streets of Philadelphia for several permitted and unpermitted actions during the 4 day Biotechnology Conference. Philadelphia has a different kind of Cop called a Civil Affairs Officer; they wear sport coats and Arm Bands instead of the regular blue uniform. I asked one of them what the deal with the arm bands was and He Said: “I’m The Police.” When pressed further he stated that the Arm Band guys were there specifically to ensure that people got their 1st ammendment rights. A couple days later I saw a gang of these Civil Affairs Officers charging into a crowd of unsuspecting innocent bystanders; swinging 2 fisted, kicking, shoving peacfully gathered people .. and one of them (ed: the Civil Affairs Offiers) had a heart attack and died.


Commercial Suicide

[After its ignominous agreement last week allowing the CIA to harass and interrogate Irish citizens on Irish soil, the Irish government is again in the news (at for literally selling the Irish soul. The sacred turf in question--tantamount to the Black Hills for Lakota--is intimately linked to my ancestral family, but the desecration of legendary hallowed ground is universally understood.]

Irish Government Creating 'Facts On The Ground' At Tara Hill Complex Despite Huge Opposition

Despite widespread opposition from hundreds of academics worldwide, from the Director of The Irish National Museum and from those activists bringing upcoming legal challenges to the routing of a new tolled motorway through the Tara-Skryne complex, the Irish Government is creating facts on the ground by pushing ahead with hasty and crude excavations of the many sites of archeological interest on the proposed route.

The Tara-Skryne Valley Group, the main activist group opposing the planned motorway have called on the government to halt their pre-emptive work and to stop wasting Irish taxpayers money on wanton destruction of a whole area which they believe should be protected as a National monument.

Meanwhile the mainstream media in Ireland looks away and has failed across the board to let the people who according to a recent poll are absolutely against this motorway of the country know that digging at the Tara complex has already begun. Most Activists who are involved in the campaign link the issue to peak oil and criticise the insanity of massive private investment in tolled motorways at the expense of public transport which is severely underfunded in Ireland at the present time.

Activists believe firmly that corrupt officials and property speculation are behind this almost unbelievable slicing up of one of the most ancient and key symbols of the Irish nation. Anyone who is concerned about this please contact journalists, archeologists and Irish embassies in your countries, spread the information and if you feel like doing so - make your displeasure clear.


War of Ideas

Venezuela Launches Latin American TV Network

Televisora del Sur (Television of the South), or Telesur, began broadcasting from Caracas on July 24, the day South American independence leader Simón Bolívar was born. Telesur was created by the Venezuelan government in association with the governments of Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay to provide a counterweight to corporate channels such as CNN and Univision. The station will draw on material produced by independent mediamakers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean for much of its programming.

According to its director, Telesur "was born out of the need to give voice to Latin Americans confronted by an accumulation of thoughts and images transmitted by commercial media and out of the urgency to see ourselves through our own eyes and to discover our own solutions to our problems."

On July 20, before Telesur even began broadcasting, the lower house of Congress in the United States passed an amendment to finance radio and TV broadcasts to Venezuela intended to counter Telesur's "anti-americanism".


Shoring up the Ship of State

First off, my apologies to linguistics scholars, students of psychological warfare, and media studies devotees. Secondly, to everyone else who has suffered through another startling discovery by CBS 60 Minutes.

Rarely do I watch, but when forced to by circumstances beyond my control, I usually leave my dinner hosts regretting they invited me.

This is not to say there is no value whatsoever to the content of the program; on occasion we actually learn something important, albeit well-buried beneath the sensationalistic gotcha format of this highly-scripted show. And that is how my day began--thinking about how this icon of mainstream liberal America once again served the invidious interests of the ruling class it works for, while simultaneously portraying itself as the guardian of democracy. Not a pleasant thought to wake up to.

But that is the point of the show: to appear to be in opposition to the criminal elite, to give it their best shot at being tough on tyrants and villains, and then, in the end--after showing us all the insidious doings of our national security, secret government: lying, torturing, and sleeping with brutal dictators around the world (which we, by the way, already knew)--end up throwing in the towel when totalitarian authority figures from the Pentagon or CIA or law enforcement are handed the punchline on a platter.

By this point in the show, I'm sure many viewers are emotionally drained by the pseudo intrigue and sordid details of the "investigative reporting" that even 60 Minutes admits they got much of off the Internet. But what is the point of this candid admission? Could it possibly be to plant a meme in the minds of viewers that perhaps information on the Internet should be restricted in order to protect us? Hard to imagine they would be so callous after doing a closeup on the CIA spokesman saying he has no problem violating international law by illegally detaining innocent people and outsourcing their torture and beating to brutal countries if it MAKES AMERICANS SAFE.

Now guess what message watchers carried away with them to bed last night. And in case you doubted the unlimited American capacity for vengeance based on unfounded fear, pick up a copy of Baghdad Burning at the bookstore.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Sweet Home

Sometimes you gotta just laugh.


Cult of Heavyosity

God bless our commercial-free community radio station; their news is straight-up, and the programming is superb. About the only complaint I can muster is that they sometimes indulge in what I can only describe as a sort of peculiar embrace of evil as their cultural nemesis. Not altogether different, at times, from revival preachers exorting coming to the fold or be forever damned. Other times creating an intense feeling of deep knowing--similar to what I imagine the climate of a Freemasons gathering--of which only their listeners possess. In a word, weird.

I'd be the last to argue that there aren't some really sordid things transpiring in our society, and there is most certainly a profound ignorance among my countrymen, but how, I wonder, do those with access to the airwaves propose to recruit and convert others with this occult-like approach?

Perhaps the mysterious has a popular attraction beyond reason in our present state of madness, but how does perpetuating illogic lead us out of this confusion? Maybe that was never their intent.


Strange Encounters

Observing Juli Meanwhile's recent success in generating discussion through her posts on mystery chickens and the history of TV dinners, I thought I' d give it a try by sharing some recent encounters on my walk to the library and back last Friday.

Everything started out normal as we exited the path through the woods into town, until we passed Tony's Shoe Repair where a woman came out and accosted me saying, "What's a person got to do in this town? I've been drugged and raped and now I've been served with legal papers. Something's gotta change. I mean, my karma's good."

I told her to hang in there; my dog wagged his tail.

Further on, a bicycling traveller living out of his backpack asked me if I knew of any good campsites in town, specifically in the city park behind the public library. I told him there were some old redwood stumps that might serve as a shelter from police patrols, and that the restrooms weren't too far off. He then asked if there were any electrical outlets nearby. I replied that since this was not a campground there were no hookups (for what I could only guess), and that it would probably be best to maintain a low profile.

Out of curiosity, I asked where he'd come from, and to my surprise he told me he'd rode a thousand miles from the same university town I used to live in near the Canadian border. Astonished by this coincidence, he asked, "I used to tow a lawnmower behind my bike there doing yard work. Maybe you remember seeing me. I also worked part-time at the comics store." Alas, I could not recall either, but wished him well on his journey.

After exchanging my supply of books for some new ones, Cosmo and I wandered through town and back into the woods to play in the creek before going home. And there on the trail where we'd passed an hour earlier was a duck, plucked and washed and ready for the oven, were it not for the fact it was frozen solid--in July--and not in any kind of wrapper or bag. A curiosity that puzzled us both.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Great Notions

Juan Rulfo's legendary novel Pedro Paramo, according to Susan Sontag, "established him as a voice of unprecendented originality and authority in Mexican literature." Revered in 1955 for what was immediately acknowledged as a masterpiece, Rulfo never published another book. It was not translated into English for another forty years.


Short Order

For some light reading during the coming dog days of summer, may I recommend Kenneth Rexroth's sumptuous appetizer tray Classics Revisited.

A sample from Njal's Saga: If one makes a life habit of unlimited liability, the accumulated responsibilities of a lifetime may become too complex and, at the same time, too poignantly focused to be borne. One man might sustain so complicated an architecture of stresses and balances as long as there was no unaccountable interference from outside...

Njal, after a lifetime of unparalleled nobility and relentless education of the conscience, ends, like the Nibelungs, in fire. His home and his family are destroyed with him, and all for an impetuous spite. A vector of tension unaccounted for in his careful system of checks and balances of moral liability smashes a lifetime's husbandry, like an arrow shot from outside into a web of glass...

Existence is orderly; the individual and his related fellows persist only so long as they are so; but it is vital disorder that endures throughout time and from which organization emerges into temporary significance and into which it washes away.

Friday, July 22, 2005


So Treason Can Rule

The "noose tightens" on the White House. Read Robert Parry at


Keep it Fair

In the thirty-five years I've been voting, I was only a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party twice: once when my friend ran for county commissioner, and later when another friend requested my help in ousting a corrupt central labor council from its control of the county-level machine. As an outsider opposed to the national party's agenda, I only got involved when I thought I could make a significant difference in how our local government functioned.

But I also had a couple of pals who were seriously engaged in getting some pretty decent candidates elected over those decades, and I gotta hand it to 'em for their tenacity and devotion to good government. Without their efforts, things could've been a lot worse.

Now that things have pretty much fallen apart at many state and local apparati in addition to the DNC, I can see why they no longer involve themselves with party politics, but one group I remember fondly from my short exposure to the inside workings of the institution were the little old New Deal ladies who always brought the cookies and served at polling and registration tables. And now that things like Social Security and Medicare are on my radar screen in the not-too-distant future, I can sure appreciate the work these gals did over the years.

All this is just my way of saying that while the institution and bosses of the Democratic Party rightly come in for serious criticism, we need to be careful and respectful in how we critique what for many was one of the few organizations in which they could participate in meaningful civics on issues of real import.

If only for those FDR gals in the kitchen.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Cruelty Conveyed

I've plugged Lloyd Demause's book The Emotional Life of Nations several times, but I also realize it might be tough to wade through such a disturbing book about how America treats its children and why so many grow up to be severely dysfunctional adults. Toward that end, here's a relatively short article on the background of this nightmare.


Struggle over Identity

I was doing a little housecleaning, and came across this piece from Edward Said from two years ago.


Culture of Imbeciles

There are two parallel counterrevolutionary confusionist tactics: the partial cooption of new values, and a deliberately anticultural industrially facilitated production (novels, films), the latter being a natural continuation of the imbecilization of young people begun in their schools and families.

It is no longer a matter of noting the increasingly massive use of commercial publicity to influence judgments about cultural creation. We have arrived at a stage of ideological absence in which advertising has become the only active factor, overriding any preexisting critical judgment or transforming such judgment into a mere conditioned reflex. The complex operation of sales techniques has reached the point of surprising even the ad professionals by automatically creating pseudosubjects of cultural debate.

The abundance of televised imbecilities is probably one of the reasons for the American working class’s inability to develop any political consciousness.

--Guy DeBord, 1957


Maintenance Man

At a Veterans Day dance I attended many years ago on the Lummi Indian Reservation, I remember asking my hosts who the silver-haired dancer with the Stars & Stripes breechcloth was. "Smitty Hillaire," they remarked. "He's behind almost everything good that happens here, always helping people who try to accomplish something for the well-being of the tribe. He's rarely in the spotlight, but if you ask almost anyone who is, they'll say they owe a debt of gratitude to Smitty for keeping everyone's spirits up when they got discouraged. He helps keep us together."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Old & New

As testimony to our thesis that essential analysis is timeless, we've added two sites to the sidebar: Bureau of Public Secrets in the Documents section, and World in Conflict under Links.


More Matas

Some people decide not to write because of a conviction that they are nobody. Pepin Bello, for example...his proven role as galvaniser or architect, prophet or brains behind the generation of '27, and above all behind the group which he, Garcia Lorca, Bunuel and Dali formed in the Residencia de Estudiantes...spoken of in terms of the highest esteem for his ideas, far-sightedness and wit...behind the most brilliant literary generation to come out of Spain in the twentieth century, made this clarification: " I have written a great deal, but kept none of it. I have never written in order to be published. I did it for my friends..."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


To Digress

I hadn't thought of it before, except perhaps intuitively, that maybe there's a purpose behind artful digression, especially when the intensity of staying on point becomes just a little too much. Don't get me wrong, there's a campsite reserved in paradise for the likes of Driftglass and Whiskey Bar, but sometimes you gotta drift along where the current takes you, even if that means getting caught in a back eddy or two, before being spit out into the ripples leading up to the turbulent whitewater again.

In other words, on occasion, allowing oneself to depart from the main subject of our backwater of the universe--whatever it may be--might be considered a sort of mysterious shortcut to wherever it is we imagine ourselves as heading. Besides, who knows what useful item we might stumble across as we ramble here and there while taking a much needed break from what occupies us.

That said, intentional sidetracking can, if we're not careful, completely displace purposeful initiative to the point where we're content to not achieve anything in particular ever again, except maybe to wander aimlessly in the pursuit of happiness. But I'll leave such philosophical musings for now to our founding fathers and their backup vocals.

For now, I'll just leave you with a short excerpt from Enrique Vila-Matas' new book Bartleby & Co.:

Joseph Joubert was born in Montignac in 1754 and died seventy years later. He never wrote a book. He only prepared himself to write one, single-mindedly searching for the right conditions...

In his search for the right conditions to write a book, Joubert discovered a delightful place where he could digress and end up not writing a book at all...In this respect Joubert was one of the first totally modern writers, preferring the centre to the sphere, sacrificing results in order to discover their conditions, and not writing in order to add one book to another, but to seize control of the point from which all books seemed to originate, which, once attained, would exempt him from writing them...

While he searched and amused himself in his digressions, he kept a secret diary of a purely personal nature, which he had no intention of ever publishing. But his friends behaved badly towards him and, on his death, took the liberty in dubious taste of publishing this diary.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Hovering Hardships

Having read recently about the vast medicare fraud at the University of Washington school of medicine, I was thinking last night about how the Reagan administration initiated the criminalization of our economy, culminating in the present war for profit. And I couldn't help but reflect on how this demoralization of our entire society over the past twenty-five years has affected the young people in both their aspirations and attitudes.

Now that the "greed is good" philosophy has brought ruin in spades on our land and others, I wonder how our people will ever surmount the malaise now upon us. But then, I think, humans are a resilient species--especially the foolishly optimistic American specimen--and somehow we'll probably endure the horrendous hardships hovering on the horizon.

Yet, within this new morality we've inherited, lies a challenge to our old way of thinking, and that is in our habits of punishment for transgressions of law and respect for its rule. Admittedly, these have been in long decline for good reason--particularly among the economically excluded--but now even those who played by the former rules are finding no way to get by any more, and that fact of present life portends a not-too-distant future where more and more of us will inevitably be involved in some form of criminal activity as a means of survival.
Indeed, this transition is well underway.

Of course, when laws are bad--as with prohibition and other laws of intolerance--they'll be widely if not openly disregarded, but this new criminality is somewhat different from the Puritan-induced version. Although related, the new lawlessness among the decent citizenry as a consequence of high-level looting and fraud--while justified as a matter of survival--is likely to plunge us into a domestic discord and brutality we haven't seen in three or four generations. Flag-waving aside, many Americans no longer believe in the United States, or hope, or the potential for justice. And that is a change of enormous magnitude, one for which there is no contingency plan or roadmap.

In fact, as I sit here contemplating the next twenty-five years, all I can imagine is chaos, strife, and disorder and if we're lucky a slow disintegration of our society. But then, I think of how quickly the social structures of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and Iraq crumbled before this new amorality, and I know this current corruption of values can accelerate our demise beyond anything we can presently imagine. And I lament what lies in store.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


More Thought, Less Action

Good commentary on the history of getting by in a Puritan state.


Moral Imperative

My Norwegian friends used to tease my Swedish pals about being "neutral observers" during World War II, while they were busy sabotaging the Nazi occupation forces, and their other Scandinavian cousins in Denmark busied themselves running an underground railroad for Jewish refugees. They were perhaps a bit unfair in this judgment, but they had a point.

Oddly, what prompted this recollection was a comment by the antagonist in the movie Romeo and Juliet starring DiCaprio that I watched last night. To paraphrase, when Romeo entreated him for a peaceful reconciliation between the feuding families, he replied, "I loath peace".

Which got me thinking about the ideological positioning taking place in the US, especially within the anti-war faction, and just what it is they want and how they expect to get it. To be more precise, what they are willing to do for it.

For while it is arguably noble to oppose wars of aggression against those who have done you no harm, it is hardly a virtuous cause to decline to fight aggressors under any and all circumstances, as is the case with some of those that comprise the "peace and justice movement". I mean, Quakers and Mennonites aside, on what basis do the non-violent reject warfare of any sort?

Do they renounce the Zapatistas for arming themselves in self-defense? How about the African National Congress under Mandela? The Nez Perce under Looking Glass? The Warsaw Jews? You get my drift.

So when we talk about being anti-war and pro-peace in the context of our most modern imperium, I find myself asking, "Under what circumstances would the peace protesters embrace violence and perhaps revenge against those who presently wage the apocalyptic bloodshed from behind the walls of the Pentagon?"

For those who've read my books or essays and commentary, you know this suicidal course of action is not one that I endorse, but neither is the fruitless expenditure of energy in pious high drama. And if you accept my thesis of a perpetual war of ideas as the only hope for a less violent and depraved future, then its strategic employment is not only a pragmatic tool, but also a moral imperative.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Outlaws and States

The Independent Media Center coverage of UN troops killing civilians in Haiti this morning illustrates an important fact about international organizations like the UN, IMF, and World Bank: they serve the interests of states and the economic powers that control them--not the interests of people.

While many otherwise astute folks almost invariably look to the UN as a moderating force in peace and security initiatives, it should not be overlooked that it is an institution of governments--answerable to the powerful, not the powerless. And as such, it can hardly be expected to overly concern itself with ethnic groups and first nations opposed to the neoliberal agenda of conquest.

As long as the right to exist and determine one's well-being independent of the state and market is considered rebellious by these institutions, those who pursue human dignity will be treated as outlaws, and their murders will be justified accordingly. After fourteen years of UN-sanctioned social and economic warfare against the Iraqi people, you'd think the saintly veneer of this organization would be a little tarnished. But I guess illusions die hard, especially when they expose the horrendous cruelty of the modern state we've come to rely on for our sustenance.

I expect to hear more discussion on this topic as the indigenous of Mexico, Central and South America make their stand against occupying armies over the coming months and years. I wonder if the UN will bluewash atrocities there as they did in the Balkans, or if they too will become so sickened by the new genocide that they can no longer participate as "peacekeepers". Maybe it'll just be privatized, and mercenaries can then receive the blessings of "international" support.

Friday, July 15, 2005


New blog Diva

Look out Jon Stewart. Here comes Karena:


Look Away

With the usual caution for strong language, please view Driftglass' breath of fresh air at

Thursday, July 14, 2005



A reader asked me why I write about American Indians so much when the United States Constitution is daily disintegrating before our eyes. The short answer is because--as in Israel, Russia, Spain, and Ireland--the indigenous peoples' claims to territory and self-governance are key to understanding both political conflict and the emotions of occupying states unable to comprehend the notions of cooperation and coexistence.

The long answer I've written about elsewhere in the Skookum archives, and won't get into here. But suffice to say that in my opinion this multicultural impasse is at the heart of the ideological warfare currently manifested in violent relationships between organic and superficial societies on all continents.

And if I am correct, then we cannot begin to solve any of the world's major problems until we reconcile with our Fourth World neighbors. All they're asking for is a little restraint and respect.


Over the Top

Kudos for creativity go out to Karena's blog which had me rolling on the floor laughing the whole time. Let's see the mainstream try to top that for infotainment!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Meat and Potatoes

War of Ideas is now available along with my other three books. This lightly-edited version of Salvaging Democracy, first published in 2003, comprises the heavy-lifting of research and analysis I conducted in 2001-2. Based on my memoir that inspired the two-year task, it methodically encapsulates the basis for everything I've written since.

All four of my works are now available in one location:


Another Gem

Too much good work over at Singularity to list, so get on over and check it out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005



I was reading the help wanted ads and came across the following that I thought encapsulated what is presently missing from the pro-democracy network in the US.

...Our San Francisco office is looking for a Leadership Development Director to ensure a continuing corps of talented and committed leaders for the Jewish Community Federation and the broader network of Jewish communal agencies and synagogues. The process of leadership development entails the identification, cultivation, training, placement and retention of talented leaders...

Go ahead and substitute a political party or other religious or ethnic group for Jewish here, but you get the idea: there are no resources being regularly or systematically invested in pro-democracy leaders in America--only in adherents willing to accept the dogmatic guidance of established, elitist powers. This is not to say you won't encounter some marginally useful leadership development programs out in the liberal non-profit universe, but these are almost without fail merely adult level remedial courses and workshops for those in positions of responsibility who lack the inate capabilities and drive to be leaders. In other words, they mostly give out certificates and plaques to the inept and unworthy.

An obvious but deliberately overlooked way of developing and retaining authentic leadership is to get resources and opportunities to those who will accomplish something with them. These people aren't hard to find; they are often maligned in the mainstream news by conservatives and liberals alike--people who fight for their communities, not for philanthropists.


Our Responsibility

Communication means different things to different people, but one thing they have in common is the transmission of information and ideas. Without getting into the judgment mode, I was thinking last night about how the Spanish governors of New Mexico forbade, among other things indigenous, the practice of running between the Indian pueblos scattered across hundreds of miles between the Grand Canyon and the Rio Grande.

Many are aware of various European colonizers forbidding Indian religion, dances, language, hair, and clothing, but actually forbidding the system of intertribal communication was one I hadn't heard of until reading The Pueblo Revolt by David Roberts. But in hindsight, it makes sense to prevent the aboriginal owners of the territory from discussing their common situation--even though they spoke different languages--in order to prevent riotous acts of unity or warfare against the occupation army.

And I thought about how at the time of the conquests the Native Americans did not think of themselves as comprising a unified ethnic group like they do today, but rather hundreds of individual and distinct nations and language groups and confederacies much like existed in Europe. That all changed, of course, with the incorporation of the United States and numerous congressional acts, but really only exploded in the public consciousness with the advent of the American Indian Movement. Privately, the National Congress of American Indians and other inter-national associations laid the groundwork for this dawning of awareness, but Alcatraz and Pine Ridge galvanized the movement for the return of self-determination.

So as I was pondering the meaning and method of blogworld as a means of connecting previously isolated groups and individuals across this land, I imagined the sixteenth and seventeenth century Indian runners delivering--at the risk of death--messages between the pueblo peoples struggling to endure the continuing trauma from ethnic cleansing that preceded their generations, and could only admire the determination behind such achievements as American Indian Radio On Satellite, and the blossoming satellite-supported distance learning network initiated by my friends at Northwest Indian College.

I also thought about this marvelous new tool called blogging, and the current message from Indian country asking for our help in curbing the anti-Indian movement in the US. And I remembered a speech by a Lummi elder I heard a decade ago, in which he admonished us that in order to keep our balance in the ongoing turmoil between our cultures, we need to let our intelligence guide our emotions--not the other way around.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Matter of Respect

Four years ago, I recall a story out of Canada about a tribe on Vancouver Island whose chief had recently died saying he would like his spirit to return as an Orca to his people on Nootka Sound. Days after he passed over, a lone, young Orca swam into the waters near their village and proceeded to rip apart some industrial salmon pens (fish farms) that the tribe had opposed for environmental reasons. Needless to say, this whale was greeted with great respect and enthusiasm by the tribe still in mourning for their beloved chief, and plans by Canadian Fish & Wildlife to forcibly remove the whale were adamantly opposed to the point of a canoe and boat blockade of the bay, preventing the Canadian government vessels from further traumatizing both the Orca and the Nootka people.

So this morning I read in Indian Country Today that the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation is still guarding Luna, the killer whale that became separated from its pod in Nootka Sound in 2001.

The Mowachaht/Muchalaht call the operation ''Kakawin Guardians.'' Kakawin is the word for orca in the Nuu-Chah-Nulth language, which the Mowachaht/Muchalaht share with 13 other First Nations and the Makah. The guardian program consists of daily patrols by the band's fisheries management boats to deter boating interaction with Luna, and an education outreach program for boaters to alert them that they are in the kakawin's territory. Mowachaht/Muchalaht believe the sociable whale's interaction with people and boats could harm it and inhibit a reunion with its pod. Many Mowachaht/Muchalaht believe the orca - which they call Tsu'xiit - embodies the spirit of their late chief, Ambrose Maquinna, who died in July 2001, a few days before Tsu'xiit's first appearance in Nootka Sound. Mowachaht/Muchalaht canoe paddlers surrounded Tsu'xiit last year to prevent Canadian fisheries' officials from capturing the orca and moving it to the Straits of Juan de Fuca, where its pod spends much of the year.

''We have never opposed a natural reunion,'' Chief Mike Maquinna, son of the late chief, said in a press release circulated by Orca Network. ''But our culture views the kakawin with great respect, and the way [the Department of Fisheries and Oceans] was trying to move him last year was not respectful.'' Maquinna said the guardianship program would seek to help Luna expand his territory to areas where he could potentially hear the calls of L-pod, should any of its members pass in the vicinity.

A different way of doing things.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Stereotyping Terrorists

Remember the product roll-out of the War On Terrorism(tm) when U.S. officials promised it would be "just like the war on drugs"? At the time, one wag said to me that would mean they have a policy that will make terrorism more available to American consumers while simultaneously lowering its price and increasing its supply.

The essay Terrorists and Terrorism, posted on Warbaby's blog World in Conflict two years ago, deserves a second look.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Worn Out

I remember some time ago riding in the back seat, listening to the two women up front discussing social activism while on our way out to the Lummi Indian Reservation one evening to attend a panel discussion on racism, environmentalism, and treaty rights. The driver, a Catholic minister, I knew from her work with refugees fleeing Central American death squads while Reagan was President. The other gal I didn't know, having never crossed paths until that evening. But I recall wondering just what it was she did when she remarked, "I'm so tired of activism--it's wearing me out."

And I thought perhaps she was referring to some kind of underground railway for illegals seeking asylum, or maybe conducting research, or perhaps organizing volunteers or resources to carry on this type of humanitarian venture. But I was wrong; as it turned out, what she was referring to was attending meetings and vigils and protests and marches that--if you live someplace like the Bay Area and some college towns--can literally consume all your spare time. If you let it.

So as I drove down the main road through town this morning, I noticed the sidewalks were filled for a couple of miles with women in pink Avon t-shirts and ball caps with advertising promoting breast cancer research. More do-gooders, I thought. But, pretty much a harmless if fruitless activity. At least their hearts are in the right place.

Then I thought about all the other largely fruitless corporate-sponsored feel-good activities that substitute for more effective political engagement--consuming what little energy people have left after a week in the workplace--and I had this sense that the total effect of moral theatrics, self-organized or otherwise, logically leads to apathy and cynicism. You march and walk and sign petitions and give money to causes and nothing changes--except for the worse.

I mean, generating awareness is one thing, but then turning around and believing one's knowledge or faith or intense feelings or industrial paternalism will set you free is such a sad thing to witness, that if it wasn't for the visual lesson inherent, I might have been perturbed. As the Black Panthers used to say, you can't lose your chains until you free your mind.



Hearts and Minds

People and cultures with short attention spans and little understanding of history tend to want instant gratification (i.e. change) in the form of legislative or electoral or judicial or administrative fiat that clears away the rubble of complex and complicated conflict. Problem is, it doesn't happen that way.

Others, out of genuine frustration I suppose, want to avoid all institutional processes and just take it to the streets where they can acquire quick credentials in the form of rubber bullet pelts and baton bruises. But social movements are not synonymous with a series of politically-motivated street festivals--although that can be one way of expressing solidarity--but rather a critical mass of social support for values internalized as a result of thoughtful consideration.

I write more on this in the Research link under Reports in the sidebar, so I won't repeat myself, but suffice to say that movements are methodically constructed, and, like buildings, are susceptible to failure if based on a shaky foundation. In the Recommended Reading link of my sidebar found in the Curricula section, there are two books readers might want to look at: People Power Change by Luther Gerlach (a formal academic work), and Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (a more popular approach to social education) to get a sense of what is meant by my assertion that a society must be prepared for mobilization--through research, education, andorganizing--prior to taking action, if they want to succeed in claiming power. [A shorter, sort of condensation of my Research report is the Presentation I made at a peace conference titled Models of Engagement, also found in my sidebar, and elaborated on in my book Salvaging Democracy, which I intend to republish soon under the title War of Ideas.]

While the urgency of our many grievances often compels us to act without thought, we would do well to learn from the example of indigenous peoples who have struggled for centuries to maintain their authentic cultures and philosophies while preparing their youth--through education--to continue the ongoing effort at communicating their rights and values in opposition to the overwhelming force of nation-states. As a movement encompassing some five hundred plus years, they have learned a thing or two about change. Not to belittle the spiritual growth that has taken place in the Euro-American counter-culture over the past decades, but we now need to discipline our hearts with strong minds, minds strengthened by studious application--not slogans.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Compelling Case

[Ed. note: The attempted final solution taking place off the radar screen is clearly expressed by the editors of Indian Country Today.]

As the federal courts have begun their push of the tribes down the slippery slope to judicial termination, there is a pressing need to elaborate the legal, historical and cultural basis of American Indian rights. Economically powerful tribes and alert American foundations must pay serious attention to the support of productive and effective materials, both legal and media articles, that can be generated and widely circulated. It is completely crucial that Native peoples take their most intelligent and compelling case to the American public and to their own people. Only substantial and proliferous trenches of allies and concerned members of the public will provide anchor against the swift avalanche of lies, slander and negativity that now threatens to wipe away tribal freedoms.


Spurious Spectacles

The follow-up to Criminal Conspiracy posted below is the thread being tracked by Arvin Hill on the high crimes and coverup of treasonous conduct by the White House and State Department that promulgated the invasion of Iraq:

Thursday, July 07, 2005



Plenty of commentary on the London bombings, so I'll confine myself to recommending a book on what we've sown in Iraq in order to make sense of what we too will undoubtedly reap. Baghdad Burning by Riverbend is a compilation of postings about daily life under the US occupation by a young Iraqi woman from August 2003 to September 2004. Her weblog can still be read online at

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Different Mindsets

I was reflecting this morning on how few locations there are in blogdom where thoughtful discussion takes place, when I made a note to myself that what mostly passes for chronicling the present madness, is -- in both tone and presentation -- largely an expression of hysteria. Facts without analysis.

Later, reading a blog post titled Duplicitous Agreements that asks the question, How can some perceive Bush as cold and toxic while others view him as warm and gentle?, I recalled a report written ten years ago about the fanaticism embedded in the militia movement of northwest Washington state where I lived at the time.

In A Not So Distant Mirror, Paul de Armond compared fourteenth century European religious hysteria -- written about by Barbara Tuchman in her classic work by a similar name -- to what he and I were witnessing in the Wise Use revivals where white supremacists, Christian fundamentalists, and property-rights activists found common ground in wild, apocalyptic predictions that justified their use of violence against their political opponents.

Reading this, and his tract Putting the Far Right into Perspective, I realized why it is that we had (and still have) such difficulty in helping our friends and neighbors comprehend what was taking place. It was, to put it succintly, entirely outside their experience and understanding -- completely foreign to their views of social reality.

I believe that despite the nightmare we are now immersed in as a result of the Cheney administration, this inability to get their minds around the mindset of their enemies, still -- forty years since the John Birch style Minutemen first appeared on the scene -- is what hamstrings the believers in the promise of democracy from isolating this social disease. And I am dismayed by the fact that arrogance and ignorance are not solely the domain of the Far Right in our country, but rather so widespread as to suggest that we have yet a long ways to fall before we can put things right.

But then, I think, self-indulgence in bewilderment is part of the problem -- not the solution.

[Read what some are doing about it today.]

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


A Special Kind of Hatred

There are multitudes of sites tracking the various hatreds and bigotries run amok in the US, but few that focus on that unique and very special animosity aimed at the American Indian. And there is, I believe, a reason for this that I won't go into here, but rather encourage readers to explore elsewhere in the sidebar. My essay Moral Sanction might be a good one to start with.

To illustrate how this subconscious resentment plays out in today's world, I recommend reading the following link from Indian Country Today:


Eye of the Beholder

History, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes, though, the mind's eye distorts our historical "vision" and memory to suit other purposes.

Last week, Juli Meanwhile posted a recent letter from the Ayn Rand Institute to the U.S. Senate opposing the idea of a formal apology to the American Indians for all their suffering at the hands of our ancestors. (You have to read the letter.) Coincidentally, at the time of her post, I was reading the novel Storm Riders by Craig Lesley, in which he recounts a story told him by Tlingit Indians in the Alaskan community of Angoon, which has made numerous requests for an apology from the US for the 1882 naval bombardment of their village.

My curiosity roused, I did a quick google search on the topic, and came up with three similar but distinct versions of the tragedy.

United States Coast Guard records show the U.S. Revenue Marine Steamer Thomas Corwin was commissioned in San Francisco and sailed for Sitka, Alaska on 30 July 1877 where she made annual cruises. In 1882 she participated in the bombardment of the village of Angoon while under the command of Revenue Captain Michael Healy.

On 22 October 1882, says USCG, a Northwest Trading Company whaleboat chased a whale into the waters near the Tlingit Indian village of Angoon, on Kootznahoo Inlet, Admiralty Island. The whaling gun aboard exploded, killing Tith Klane, a Tlingit shaman who worked for the company. The other natives aboard the whaling boat took two company employees, E. H. Bayne and S. S.Stulzman, who were also crewmen on the boat, hostage in an effort to extract payment from the company for the death of their shaman. They landed at Angoon. There they, along with the villagers, sought payment of 40 blankets. A company representative sought the assistance of the only naval warship in the area, the screw frigate USS Adams, under the command of a Commander Merriman, which was tied up at Sitka. As the Adams drew too much water to get close to Angoon, Merriman sought and obtained the assistance of Healy and the Corwin, which was in Sitka at the time obtaining coal. Healy agreed and the Corwin, with Merriman and 50 sailors and 20 marines from Adams aboard, set sail on 24 October 1882, apparently towing the Company's tug Favorite along with the Adams' launch, to the waters off Angoon. Merriman had armed the Favorite with a small howitzer and Gatling gun.

According to the official history of the Adams: "Upon arrival at Angoon, the force collected as many of the Indians' canoes as possible, and Comdr. Merriman held a meeting with some of the Indians during which he made counter demands for the release of the hostages and a levy of 400 blankets in return for which the expedition would spare their canoes and village. To buy time, the Indians accepted the demands at first and released the hostages; however, after they had an opportunity to hide their canoes and gather their forces, the Indians refused to honor the agreement. Thereupon, Corwin and Favorite took the village under fire, destroying a number of houses.When the ships ceased fire, a landing party went ashore and set fire to some of the remaining houses.At that point the Indians submitted. Comdr. Merriman left a party of sailors at Angoon to insure continued good faith, and he and the remainder returned to Sitka in Corwin to reembark in Adams."

Apparently six children suffocated when the village's houses were put to the torch and the villagers suffered greatly that winter, having lost their means of livelihood in the canoes and their shelter from the weather. In October of 1982, the U.S. Government paid the Tlingit Tribe $90,000 in damages for the their property that was destroyed in the incident.

Welcome to Alaska dot com tells us that Admiralty Island has long been the home of the Kootznoowoo Tlingit tribe. Kootznoowoo means "fortress of bears." From the 1700s to the mid-1800s, fur trading was the major money-making activity in the area. In 1878, the Northwest Trading Company established a trading post and whaling station on nearby Killisnoo Island and villagers were employed to hunt whales. Whaling, a BIA school and a Russian Orthodox Church attracted many Tlingits to Killisnoo. In 1882, a whaling vessel's harpoon charge accidentally misfired and exploded, killing a Native crew member - a Tlingit shaman, or medicine man.Villagers demanded payment of 200 blankets to the man's family, as was customary. The Northwest Trading Co. felt threatened and sought assistance from the U.S. Navy at Sitka. The village and a summer camp were subsequently shelled and destroyed by the Navy Cutter U.S.S. Corwin. Native accounts of the attack claim six children died by smoke inhalation. In 1973, Angoon won a $90,000 out-of-court settlement from the Federal government for the 1882 bombardment.

In 1998, the Alaska State Legislature announced the Senate unanimously passed a Senate Joint Resolution 38 urging the United States government to apologize for a naval attack on the village of Angoon in the early territorial history of Alaska. The action was caused by a dispute between the village and a whaling company over the accidental death of a tribal member in the company's employment. In the early winter of 1882, the U.S. Navy interceded by shelling and burning the village and its foodstores. The attack resulted in serious injuries and the death of six children. In the aftermath, the residents of Angoon struggled to survive the difficult winter without adequate shelter or food supplies. "Memories and recollections of the injustice are still very much alive among the residents of Angoon," Senator Mackie stated. "Almost every family was deeply affected in some way by the death and destruction." From talking with elders in the village, Mackie said it was felt that a simple apology from the U.S.government would go a long way to bring closure to the incident. The resolution urges Bill Clinton, President of the United States, to formally apologize to the village of Angoon.

In researching his novel, Craig Lesley acknowledges the Tlingit people of Angoon for their assistance with his project. In his story, the community is celebrating their survival. Their version: "Over a hundred years ago,the United States Navy came to destroy our village. Our brother Keechklain, a shaman and village leader, died in that whaling boat when a harpoon gun exploded. Out of respect for our dead brother, it is our way to leave that boat on the beach for a year.

But the whaling people were greedy and did not honor Keechklain. Every day, his widow and children saw that boat go out to hunt more whales, and every day their grief became stronger. So six young men from our village seized that boat. They told the whaling company they could have it back only if they showed respect by giving that widow and her children ninety blankets.

That company went to the Navy in Sitka and told them the Raven people at Angoon had pirated their boat. Then the Navy anchored its gunboats offshore and demanded four hundred blankets from the village. Most of the able-bodied men and women were off at summer fish camps, getting more slamon for winter. Only the children and old people and the sick stayed behind in the village.

By the next day, the village could produce only ninety-four blankets. So to subdue our people, the Navy gunboats began shelling the village. First, they destroyed our canoes, so we couldn't travel or gather food. Next, they blew up the storehouses where we kept our salmon and meat, the dried berries and roots to feed ourselves and our children through the long, cold winter. When the storehouses were all shelled and burning, the Navy started firing at the clan houses along the waterfront. The big shells from the gunboats destroyed the houses, the totems, the crest screens, all our people's heritage. Women and children ran along the shore to escape the shells and burning buildings. They were mowed down by a Gatling gun. Sailors broke out rifles from the ships' munitions and fired at the people running on the shore. They killed seven old people and wounded many more.

Some young children were too afraid to run, so they hid in their clan houses where they thought they were safe. Six of those children were burned up in the fires. Three in the Killer Whale house, two in the Dog Salmon. One in Bear.

When all the clan houses were burning, the Marines landed and stole whatever treasures were left--the ancient ceremonial masks, the dancing sticks, the screens, tunics, Chilkat blankets. Anything they could carry. The rest they piled on the hungry fires.

Now a hundred years have gone by since the Navy destroyed our village. Because of that destruction, many Angoon people died in winter. They starved without their food supplies; they grew weak from the cold, the long dark days, the rain and snow. No one knows the death count.

You see old Wendell standing there. In 1957, he was a younger man and went to the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C., seeking an apology for our village. Three days, the Secretary of the Navy kept him away from his office. Finally, he sent out a lieutenant with that hat as a souvenir. But he refused to see Wendell or apologize for the Navy's action.

When a country is young, just like when a man is young, he might be making some mistakes. When he gets older, and a little ermine starts coming into his hair, maybe his eyes don't see well, but his mind sees clear. That man should admit the mistakes he made when he was young and say he's sorry. If he's an honest man, he should apologize to the people he's hurt. For a hundred years, we've been waiting for the Navy to admit their mistake and apologize. Right now, we are giving them that chance again.

* The U.S. Navy never apologized, but in 2008, Thomas Riley, a descendent of Naval Captain Healy, traveled to Angoon to apologize on behalf of his family.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Everything's Connected

Sometimes the Republican morons are just too precious. Brilliant at Breakfast weblog has a post up today about Toyota opting out of opening a plant in the Deep South after the experience of Nissan in trying to train a largely illiterate workforce (even though they're cheap) in Mississippi and Alabama (who waved all kinds of taxes to lure them) to use their high tech equipment. That and the fact that health care is prohibitevely expensive in the US prompted Toyota to choose Ontario, Canada where levels of both education and public health are distinctly higher.

In other news, Whiskey Bar weblog examines the announcement that a delegation of wingnut right-wing radio hosts are departing for Iraq to report that everything's going well. Seriously, these "journalists" have decided in advance what their stories will be.

I encourage readers to read both these in their entirety. Both sites are linked in the sidebar.

God bless America.


Criminal Conspiracy

From Kos via Brilliant at Breakfast's Another angle on the Plame case:

What started as a potential case of intentionally leaking the identity of an agent has now become about perjury and obstruction of justice in an attempt to conceal White House involvement in fixing the intelligence that led to war. Cooper and Miller were all over the prewar intelligence beat, so they become keys to understanding how the White House went from propagandists fighting CIA skeptics over WMD to triumphal victors haranguing their doubtors to well meaning victims of bad intelligence. The Plame disclosure happened right in the middle of the transformation, which means that it draws attention to both the WH role in the fixing of intelligence and its efforts to deny that role.Fitzgerald needs the reporters to contradict whatever whitewash the WH has come up with for this mess. Its not just the identity of the source, it is what the WH was saying and when that will show that they lied to Fitzgerald and the Grand Jury to cover up their manipulation of and lying about prewar intelligence.

This is what happens when the administration's Orwellian alteration of history occurs in a venue where lying is a crime and providing talking points is conspiracy to obstruct justice. If this analysis is correct, then the leaking of Valerie Plame's name may be about more than petty personal vindictiveness about her husband (which would be bad enough). If true, this is a cover-up on the scale of that of the Watergate break-in, and may involve more than just Rove being frog-walked out in the White House in handcuffs....

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Eye on the Prize

Remember when, in late 2000 I think it was, someone started circulating a graphic photo of W as a little boy in shorts holding the hand of Dick Cheney the grownup in a suit and tie? Well, over at Whiskey Bar is making a point lately of calling this White House the Cheney Administration, and not just for kicks I suspect.

As we hopefully narrow in on the criminal conspiracy born in the Oval Office that produced the fraud and coverup that led to the war crimes in Iraq, it is good to keep in mind who's actually running things there. It sure as hell isn't the manchild, dry drunk running around in flight boy costumes. So as we once again press for impeachment, it's important not to let anyone off the hook--especially the number one thug who choreographed everything from the Plame affair to the Powell con at the UN.

Others--like Rove and Rice and yes, Bush--certainly deserve to be incarcerated for their high crimes as well, but it's Cheney who has earned the distinction of being the worst criminal in US history. Let's not forget that.


Reform in Russia

The Moscow Times reported Thursday that a controversial new elections law had passed a second reading in the Duma. Among other power-consolidating moves by the country's elite (sound familiar?), they proposed allowing local elections officials to remove the time-honored practice of providing the option of voting for none of the above.

Yeah, you read that right. In Russia, they actually have a line on the ballot that allows voters the freedom of dissent in the form of rejecting what their political parties offer up as leaders. But there's more.

Under the amendments, passed by 323 votes to 66, electoral blocs of more than one party will be banned, election officials will have the option of taking "against all" off the ballot in regional elections, candidates will be barred if 10 percent of their nomination signatures are invalid and Duma deputies will lose their seats if they switch parties between elections.

But deputies voted against a controversial amendment proposed by some United Russia deputies that would have allowed the country's only directly elected leaders -- the president and mayors -- to run for a third term, in the event of an early election being ruled invalid. The change, if passed, could have provided a way for President Vladimir Putin to run in 2008.

The amendments round off the sweeping changes to the electoral system proposed by Putin last September, which he said were required to fight terrorism and strengthen the state. Opposition parties, however, dismissed the bill as another Kremlin attempt to create a convenient system open to manipulation by the authorities.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Who's Driving?

For a most eloquent (and convincing) account of why failure is not only an option in Iraq, but also the most likely one under the Cheney Administration, see the June 29 post at Whiskey Bar:

Friday, July 01, 2005


Placing your Bets

A glance at history shows that social change comes not from institutions, but from the revitalization movements that preceed institutions. Institutions resist change and resist reform. They are the fossil form of earlier change, which is to say they are the absence of change, but the source of oppositional energy which enables future change.

--Warbaby, editor of World in Conflict


Continuity and Change

For some unknown reason, I woke up this morning with the Jimi Hendrix song The Wind Cries Mary in my head, and recalled the day I first listened to his debut album Are You Experienced in the late summer of 1967 shortly before I started high school. I was about to turn fifteen, and had never taken drugs or smoked grass, but I remember the music and how it signaled a sea change in my cultural disposition that would develop over the following six years to officially-sanctioned adulthood.

Last week, as I listened to him again on American Indian Radio on Satellite, I thought briefly "how odd" but then recollected that he had spent much of his childhood with his Cherokee grandmother in Canada, and being a quarter Indian he would certainly be featured on their radio network. And this morning I can't help thinking how this young man of African, European, Mexican and Native American descent helped catalyze a cultural revolution that would begin a shift to include the values of all his ancestors within a new, more respectful--albeit confused--framework.

Of course, music and its poetry alone cannot affect a widespread change of temperament that will endure all the cruelties of man, but they are nevertheless crucial links in our belief systems and cosmologies that help enable us to achieve the humane. Perhaps, more than simply reflecting our madness and sorrows, they can sometimes give rise to our loving kindness and joy.

And so as I listen to AIROS spanning time and space from Jimi Hendrix to Rita Coolidge--two children of Cherokee grandmothers--I find both the continuity and the change we will need as our cultural tectonics once again shake the landscape of our ever-turbulent society.


Happy Fourth W

No one says it quite like the mother of a dead soldier:


"We're watching you very carefully and we're going to do everything in our power to have you impeached for misleading the American people...Beating a political stake in your black heart will be the fulfillment of my life ... "

-- Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Families for Peace


Wednesday, June 15th
Members of Gold Star Families for Peace, a national organization of families whose loved ones died as a result of the war in Iraq, will meet with Members of Congress on June 15, 2005 to call on them to support a "Resolution of Inquiry" into the so-called Downing Street Memo. Members of Gold Star Families for Peace believe that the Downing Street Memo is a "smoking gun" and validation that the invasion of Iraq was based on prefabricated intelligence. GSFP members who have lost their dearest family members believe that their loved ones died needlessly, senselessly, and avoidably in the aggression against Iraq.

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