Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Koo Koo Kachoo

Whiskey Bar is open early

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Down to Earth

"America is a tragic country because it has great democratic ideals and rigid social machinery. But Canada is not tragic, in the classical sense, because it doesn't have a utopian vision."

--from the Spring 1976 interview of Margaret Atwood by Linda Sandler. More at


Circling the Robes

FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds' case quashed by Supreme Court. This was much bigger than what the Post article implied. It's all on Fitzgerald's shoulders now.

Friday, November 25, 2005


The American Way

"Four years ago, President George W. Bush quietly assumed dictatorial powers with a secret executive order granting himself the right to imprison anyone on earth indefinitely, without charges or trial or indictment or evidence...This week, the U.S. Senate voted to codify the core of this global autocracy under the pretense of curtailing it....

But what can we actually see from this lofty moral promontory? We see that all foreign captives in Bush's worldwide gulag have now been stripped of the ancient human right of habeas corpus. They will not be allowed to challenge "any aspect of their detention" in court -- until they have already been tried and convicted by a "military tribunal" constituted under rules concocted arbitrarily by Bush and his minions. Only then, after years of incarceration without rights or legal protection, will they be given access to a single federal appeals court that can review their conviction -- subject to the usual "national security" restrictions on challenging evidence gathered by secret means from secret sources in secret places.

Remarkably, the Supreme Court is expressly prohibited from any jurisdiction whatsoever over any aspect of gulag captivity, The Washington Post reports. And of course, Bush can simply skip the tribunal and keep anyone he pleases chained in legal limbo until they rot. Neither of the ballyhooed amendments affects this raw despotism.

Meanwhile, U.S. citizens can also be arbitrarily imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial. ... Bush officials present the judge with a piece of paper declaring that the prisoner is one bad hombre, but all the evidence against him is classified and nobody can see it ... And that's it. The captive is then plunged back into the gulag, to be disposed of according to Bush's whim.

So the compromise of allowing a post-conviction appeal -- for people who have been arbitrarily seized and held in isolation for years without charges, who have often been tortured, humiliated and driven to madness or attempted suicide before facing a kangaroo court -- was hastily cobbled together and presented to the world as a triumph of the human spirit and the American way."


Thursday, November 24, 2005


Put Aside Poisons

Some inspiring stories for difficult times at and at


Refuge in Crime

For those in need of a respite from the inanity of commercialized holidays, Dashiell Hammett's Crime Stories and Other Writings--published in 2001 by Literary Classics of the United States--is a very satisfying escape to the back alleys of Fog City before the age of air travel and TV. Many thanks to the Library of America for this undertaking.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Two Weeks To Go

The national human rights conference On The Border, scheduled for International Human Rights Day, December 10, has a website up now at

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Justice Held Hostage

A recent conversation I had regarding the efficacy of Native American sovereignty, reminded me of the incoherence and arrogance of Euro-Americans as a whole in expressing their confusion, impatience, and frustration with the ongoing process of resolving centuries of grievance and trauma--what in essence amounts to our mutual social inheritance. What caught me by surprise, though, in this disturbing discussion, was the unguarded remark that the possibility of a violent response to any meaningful attempt by US citizens to right the wrongs of our bloody history, should somehow be viewed as justification for our political laziness or cowardice in confronting vigilantes, or I presume, bigotry in general.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Best Medicine

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Teach Your Children Well

Sometimes we forget what it's like to navigate the passage from childhood to the fully-formed mind of adulthood, that transpires between puberty and age 25. More to the point, what it's like for these children who find themselves in the US military, being instructed on killing before they even comprehend living. One such young person facing the consequences of having her CO request denied explains her dilemma most simply, honestly, and eloquently on Feral Scholar today.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Loss of Illusions

I just listened to Daniel Ellsberg on the radio, describing his epiphany prior to his decision to release the Pentagon Papers, revealing the fraud perpetrated on Americans regarding the US mission in Vietnam. Alluding to comparisons between the Nixon and Bush II White House, he expressed hope that a critical mass of conscientious career public servants will likewise choose to risk those careers and even prison in the interests of putting America on a course consistent with our stated ideals.

He recalled both military and state officials who resigned in light of such deplorable Vietnam-era revelations of torture, assassination, and murder by our troops and clandestine agencies. He also remembered his loss of illusions in the late sixties when informed by CIA managers that such methods were regularly used on all continents to maintain what they themselves described as "our world plantation."

Ellsberg, by now sobered by this reality and his own transformation, made the point that if we no longer abide by nor pay credence to the US Constitution or international accords on human rights, that we will become a monstrous, isolated people, perhaps beyond what is presently imaginable.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Research Works!

An interesting feature article on community organizing from the Fall 2005 issue of Public Eye Magazine. (Yours truly's report on this tool cited as a source at the end.)

"But let us focus in on one piece — how research is a vital part of their organizing. Research helps lower the fear of residents, informs activists for their interviews with the media, disarms the arguments of the far right and keeps conspiracy theories that interfere with organizing at bay."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Next Wise Use Battleground?

Orcas might be Pacific Northwest icons, but to Big Oil they're just blubber.


Both Barrels

The Western Washington University Theatre Arts tenured professor, Perry Mills--whose saga can be found under Links in the sidebar--has 1. been absolved of all the trumped-up charges brought against him by WWU administrators, and 2. been instructed he might return to teaching sometime next year if he 3. agrees to being suspended without pay for two quarters, and 4. promises to be a grovelling lackey from now on.

For readers new to this sad tale, the renowned professor--whose students have consistently one national competitions in playwriting and other noble ventures--was suspended with pay a year ago after blowing the whistle on the embezzling of student fees by his superiors, and filed suit in U.S. District Court for violations of his rights under the constitution. Now that the university's kangaroo court has completed its farcical review of the academic lynch mob's shenanigans, I expect Mills' attorney will be loading both barrels for exposing the felonies and subsequent coverup by the university in attempting to silence his client.

The federal trial promises to be high drama indeed.


Borders Conference

Thanks to Juli Meanwhile, the editor of Idyllopus, for putting up this link. If the proceedings become available in pdf, I'll put them up here. <>

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Spirito Espana

Check out our hard-wired companero on Costa del Sol.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Leap of Faith

At the heart of evolutionary anthropology lay the assumption that the human mind was guided by universal, not culturally specific, impulses...This assumption had two important methodological implications. First, it allowed ethnologists to reason by analogy, and to do so with the same certainty with which they reasoned deductively from observation.

Because they believed that all societies evolved through similar stages, developing similar or at least comparable technologies and social institutions along the way, they were perfectly comfortable studying ancient Native American cultures by proxy, deducing their histories from the present lives of people who occupied the same rung on the evolutionary ladder.

The conviction that ancient and contemporary aboriginal peoples might be considered virtually identical allowed the scientists to call their work an empirical science despite the absence of the actual subject matter they claimed to be analyzing.

--from The Zuni and the American Imagination by Eliza McFeely

Friday, November 11, 2005


Ten Years After

The first Veteran's Day I celebrated as an adult was also the first Veteran's Day in a decade that American youth weren't being sacrificed in the jungles of Vietnam. Ten years later, American newspapers were just beginning to unravel the covert military atrocities in Central America, illegally financed out of the White House by selling Tomahawk missiles to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Ten years hence, I found myself observing a Veteran's Day gathering called for the purpose of organizing a paramilitary militia in order to carry out murders of American Indians, liberal judges, and human rights activists in the wake of recent success by militias in Montana and Oklahoma City.

Today, ten years after helping to gather information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of eight of these violent misfits, I'm preparing my presentation for a conference on racism, borders, and vigilantes, to address the recurring phenomenon of xenophobic armed civilians in US society.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Social Backlog

My elderly friend in the park yesterday afternoon asked me if I thought things might get better after the downfall of the GOP jihad. He was presently concerned about his VA benefits, but he was also worried about the direction our Congress had chosen vis a vis public investment in education and employment opportunities for the marginalized and communities of color. The recent riots across France by displaced second generation immigrants from France's former empire disturbed him, he said, because it's really little different here.

The best I could come up with in response at the time was that things are bound to change considerably in the next century compared to the former--resource exhaustion, climate change, and social corruption being the most obvious--but I think what bothered him most was the notion of lost hope on such a vast scale, especially among the young.

Looked at differently, though, profound rejection of exploitive values and aggressive culture by the socially-excluded is not only understandable, but arguably laudable. I mean, how else can those left behind stop the tram without throwing a few timbers across the tracks? So in a way, it's perfectly reasonable to resort to disorder, even violence, when one's experience of social order has been to be denied the dignity of a decent education and employment and social participation and respect for one's heritage and customs. Unfortunately, given the backlog of grievances by the world's poor and those otherwise shut out of the privileges of modern society, we have a lot of unsavory consequences to look forward to.

To be sure, there are, likewise, opportunities for cultural creatives in such a highly-charged atmosphere, and I expect to be pleasantly surprised by what the energy unleashed by innovations of conscience and consciousness produces over the coming decades. I only hope I will personally have the energy and opportunity to be actively involved in this social evolution.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


A Classic Formula

At the time of the negotiations between the six republics of Yugoslavia over their post-communist destiny, the many ethnic and religious groupings within Yugoslav society had been living side by side with and marrying each other for half a century. But their common language and culture had developed over a period of six hundred years of Slavic Balkan identity, united in opposition to external rule by both Muslim and Christian empires. By the late 1980s, they were a remarkably tolerant society.

Yet, grievances from the Second World War and the Communist era were still fresh enough to be rekindled by political manipulators determined to foment popular violence for political power. The trick was how to incite populations that had come to value harmonious relations with their neighbors and fellow countrymen, despite differences in religious practice or ethnic history.

Not surprisingly, leaders in Belgrade turned to the state-controlled radio and television to mount a campaign of fear and loathing based on imaginary and wildly-exaggerated grievances and stories of persecution. Leaders in Zagreb unwisely followed suit with an overly zealous nationalistic campaign, which in turn fed these fears, followed by Belgrade’s use of paramilitary, vigilante militias to initiate actual violence, the response to which could then be used as justification for military intervention. A classic formula.

But the disintegration of the Balkans in the 1990s, as it is so aptly described in The Fall of Yugoslavia by BBC correspondent Misha Glenny, is most noteworthy for its documentation and interviews on the scene as the tragedy unfolded. The picture Glenny portrays is one of a country confused by the change from communism to democracy, bewildered by mounting economic insecurity, and fearful of the horrors of hostilities about to be unleashed, yet still nearly incapable of imagining civil war in their largely integrated multicultural federation. Even among the Serbs, there was a very large and active opposition movement that demanded a peaceful resolution to the questions of boundaries and independence for each republic.

What is remarkable is how easy it was to plunge these socio-economically interdependent peoples into conflict and violence and, eventually, war, by introducing first stories of persecution, then thuggery, then weaponry—strategically--into enclaves of ignorance and insecurity. After that, it was merely a matter of escalation of nationalistic hyperbole, continued fabrication of atrocity, followed by commission of the real thing. Once trust is broken, the prophecies of vengeance are self-fulfilling; the voices of reasonable people can no longer be heard.

For those of us who don’t own the press or radio and television, the challenge of safeguarding our communities from subversion or attack is both formidable and invigorating. It is in this constructing of networks through face-to-face interaction, in pursuit of comprehending the forces against us, that we can discover our strengths and deepest values, and, with luck, develop enduring loci of memory and understanding to guide, comfort, and console those yet to come.

In the war of ideas surrounding the philosophy of racism, both tribal and ancient national legacies—in and of themselves not necessarily malign--often merge with loyalties identified with modern states, their institutions and borders, enabling a perversion of the authentic relational aspects of “kinship” to the point of absurdity. It is in situations like the present—where the breakdown of states is so pronounced—that this nonsense becomes lethal.

Friday, November 04, 2005


Subverting Security

Whiskey Bar has the latest on charges of impeachable evidence against Cheney.

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