Friday, December 30, 2005
... Today, Indian people and tribal governments are on the offensive; it is now our time. The dominant culture is on the defensive trying to hold on to their ill-gotten gains taken from American Indians. The difference is that we are not stealing it; we are legislating it back, or winning legal court decisions and even buying it back. Sadly, it scares the dominant culture and results in what appears to be a rise in discrimination against Indians.
...The new energy in Indian country is unity. ... America will truly achieve its greatness when it can come to terms with all the treaty, legal and civil rights issues that need to be resolved. Let the negotiations begin that we may all live in a truly equal America for all.
--more at http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096412178
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
By infrastructure I mean learning houses, schools, centers, institutes, and colleges in every state, every county, where those drawn to understanding and participating in social conflict for the long haul can be intellectually prepared and mentored by people with experience in the field. Whether or not these places of learning are accredited or not, a curriculum oriented toward the arts and sciences of change, rather than the stasis promulgated by state institutions, must be their distinguishing characteristic.
Until this happens, the random energies expended by prospective leaders and thinkers will largely be dissipated by action-oriented, moral theatrics agencies, and the brutal, malign neglect of established social authorities. Those who might ask for evidence of this assertion need look no further than the report of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights cited in my earlier post Spiraling Demise.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Socialize New Recruits
...Antiwar coalitions have no theory of society or social change. ...The “mission statements” of coalitions are righteous, calling for an end to the war, aid to its victims, opposing political repression and ethnoviolence, and endorsing a vaguely articulated demand for social justice. Typically their demands are not only beyond their own power, but are often beyond the intellectual grasp or imagination of those in power.
...The overarching problem of the peace movement —if not American politics—is the failure to move beyond what is to what could be. It is most of all a failure of imagination. But it is also indicative of an underlying fear of change, a fear that has now been exacerbated by the truly unexpected and complex events since 9-11. ... It has led to a closed-mindedness and level of political ignorance which makes organizing extraordinarily difficult and which weakens the fabric of democracy.
...The productivity of a demonstration is in the day after. And any demonstration that hasn’t planned for follow-up activity risks being nothing more than a spectacle. Building a movement means having an organization or network of groups that can accommodate, educate, nurture, and socialize new recruits. ...
The majority of Americans can not answer basic questions about the political economic system of the US. Moreover, they have been socialized not to ask political questions and, when they do, to ask the wrong questions. Extraordinary numbers believe in the existence of supernatural beings from gods to ghosts, and in the power of the stars to determine their lives. They have little awareness of world geography or of the oppressive consequences of the major transnational capitalist institutions such as the World Bank. The identity of the IMF, NAFTA, or the G-7 are an alphabetic jumble.
At a personal level, most fail to recognize the cumulative privileges accorded those who are white, male, and Christian. It is on a solid base of ignorance and false information that the political elites can broadcast “disinformation.”
...We need to counter disinformation in two ways. One is to educate ourselves. A peace movement has to have a program of internal education. Of course its major function is to help its membership in learning such things as the history of nonviolence, theories of revolution, or the pitfalls of workers’ control. But it has another significant function. It can counter any elitist tendencies that might develop as consequence of the difference in knowledge and experience that might prevail in the group.
Educational outreach has to encompass all forms and media. Movement educators have to be aware that the social context of teaching and learning is critical, that not everyone knows how to be a student, and that there are class and cultural differences in learning styles. ...
Building a movement requires, particularly, that there be attainable goals. The peace movement needs to have a sketch of a peaceable society. Without it, it is just an oppositional movement with no necessary life beyond its points of opposition.
.... Without a conscious effort at building a movement, exposing the toxicity of authoritarianism, capitalism, and violence, and generating the patterns of a good society, we will simply recapitulate the past having learned nothing from history.
--from Peace is a Process http://www.prejudiceinstitute.org/thewaytopeace.html
A Long Time Ago
(January 15, 1995. Vancouver Sun)
OTTAWA - An anti-racism group wants the government to regulate the worldwide computer network under the Broadcast Act. Simon Wiesenthal Centre representatives say the Internet should be defined as broadcasting and regulated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
The CRTC can pull a broadcaster's license if it airs hate propaganda. The organization also asked Wednesday for legislation to make promotion of hatred on computer networks a criminal offence.
"There's a change in the battlefield and a change in the rules of engagement," Rabbi Abraham Cooper of Los Angeles said at a news conference. The organization demonstrated the amount of hate and racist literature available on the net by connecting with such state-of-the-art information services as:
* STORMFRONT, published by former Ku Klux Klan member Don Black.
* RESISTANCE RECORDS, put out by Canadian white supremacist George Burdi.
* VOICE OF FREEDOM, published by Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel.
"It's one-stop shopping for white racist revisionist material," said Rick Eaton, of Los Angeles, as he scrolled through the services, which are set up like magazines with color graphics and content pages listing articles available. Also on Internet: a library of Patriot (American militia groups) material and guides on how to make bombs, plastic explosives, and the gas recently used by terrorists to kill Japanese subway riders.
Sol Littman of Toronto said the Internet gives hate mongers the ability to reach millions in seconds. "It will make a radical change in their ability to reach out and organize."
But others worry censoring computer networks could endanger democracy.
"The Broadcasting Act is not a good route to take," says Marita Moll, co-organizer of Public information advisory council. "We would be much better served if the online medium was viewed in the same way we view the telephone medium - as a communications medium in which the person who is using it is liable for the kind of content they put there."
Under the Broadcasting Act, companies providing information services on the computer network would become gatekeepers, she said. That would be like making Bell responsible for what people say on the phone. Justice Minister Allan Rock said he is waiting for a report from a national advisory council set up to make recommendations on the Internet.
(December 27, 2005)
"That was a long time ago and only applied to Canadian law. This was in '95 when there were only a couple of dozen hate sites on the Web, exclusively in North America. There are now thousands of sites world-wide, promoting terrorism, hate, anarchy, and almost anything else one can think of."
--Rick Eaton, Simon Wiesenthal Center
In a Vacuum
The Washington Post--December 16, 2005
It was, unapologetically, a recruiting video for a group that promotes an Aryan master race. Interspersing news footage of decaying urban scenes with still photographs of a segregated America, the show decried illegal immigration, rap music and "the multicultural degenerate mess that we have today," blaming it on Jewish media owners.
And it ran three nights in a row this week on public-access television in Anne Arundel County. County leaders yesterday [Dec. 15] publicly denounced the video "America Is a Changing Country," produced by a West Virginia group called the National Alliance, but said free-speech laws stopped them from keeping it off the television. ...
The centerpiece of the video is a monologue by William Pierce, the group's late founder, who recounts the four-decade history of a group that once was considered by some to be among the most influential neo-Nazi organizations in the nation. http://www.splcenter.org/intel/hatewatch/item.jsp?hid=899
Christian Identity dogma to air on cable
Saginaw (Michigan)--A nationally known white supremacist who conducted meetings at a Hampton Township furniture store before an arsonist torched it, will preach again in mid-Michigan via the airwaves. James P. Wickstrom is a self-awoved racist whose "Christian Identity" teachings maintain that Jews descended from Satan and white Western Europeans descended from Adam.
A tape featuring him speaking will appear on the Midland Community TV public access channel in January. No firm date is set yet. Wickstrom lives in the Pinconning area, according to the local FBI office. He has a post office box in Rhodes.
The 90-minute prerecorded show, "The Enemy Among Us," will air four times, said Melissa J. Barnard, director of the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library, where the MCTV studios are housed. http://www.splcenter.org/intel/hatewatch/item.jsp?hid=902
Monday, December 26, 2005
While we're on the topic of declining civil rights in America, I'd like to recommend two resources for further research: Democracy Now (online, radio, and TV) and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
I woke up this morning to a DN radio program about "apartheid ballot counting" in the US, which gave the numbers of ballots thrown away in predominantly black precincts in Ohio last month. Well over the hundred plus thousand Bush won by there. During breakfast, I heard a brief announcement that Bush is replacing Mary Frances Berry, head of the U.S.Commission on Civil Rights.
Firing up my computer, I then waltzed over to the USCCR website and scanned the headlines, where I found "U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Assails Bush Administration Record on Civil Rights." The accompanying letter from Berry to Bush observed that, "the spiraling demise of hope for social justice and healing has deepened over the past four years, largely due to a departure from and marginilization of long established civil rights priorities, practices and laws."
Noting the Bush Administration's failures in voting rights, equal educational opportunity, affirmative action, environmental justice, and racial profiling, the report went on to detail how minorities were systematically disenfranchised in the 2000 (and 2004) Presidential elections. Briefings held by the USCCR in April, July, and September of this year examined "widely reported problems with provisional and absentee balloting, implementation of voter identification requirements, voter intimidation and suppression, and poll worker preparedness."
At the September briefing, the Commission asked the Department of Justice to respond to its request that DOJ investigate alleged federal law violations by the state of Florida. The Commission also noted recent allegations of elderly black voters intimidated by police officers in Florida, black student voters in Texas threatened by a local district attorney, American Indian voters intimidated by police in South Dakota, and racial implications of voter identification and provisional balloting reported in Chicago. Participation in the briefings by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Congress of American Indians, and the American Civil Liberties Union, underscores the Commission's findings that, "the problems in Florida and elsewhere were serious and not isolated...were foreseeable and could have been prevented [and] resulted in an extraordinarily high level of disenfranchisement."
What truly alarms me about all this, is that in 2000, the conspiracy to commit federal election law violations was covert. In 2004, secretaries of state, governors, and GOP officials overtly declared their plans to subvert democratic elections and still got away with it.
--comment made by Jay Taber at Orcinus
What it is meant to do, is to expose the tactics of psychological warfare deployed by the White Power movement, and how their goals mesh so smoothly with the Republican Party's brand of religious, racialist militarism. The fact that many chain newspapers, radio, and TV have elected to support this campaign of hate, should finally shock la-la liberals out of their delusional state.
But we're not holding our breath.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Protecting White Privilege
In this sense, the flag waving and other symbolism (i.e., using the Minuteman brand), the perpetual need to generate controversy, the phallic deployment of arms at a time when economic and cultural (ie; women and nonwhites like Latino immigrants) globalization challenges American (especially white male) manhood all constitute a form of (para)psychological OPERATION or "psy-op."
Their savvy use of the web and other media, combined with the strategic use of public events, makes the Minutemen more effective than previous racist organizations. At the same time, their mixing of mainstream and old school, anti-Latino, anti-immigrant messages makes their message palatable to an audience, especially aging white males, ravaged by economic and political globalization.
Unlike the previous generation of white supremacists who eschewed and even attacked the Federal government (think Oklahoma bombing or Montana militias), the Minuteman strategy complements the anti-immigrant work of local, state and national politicians like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO), who regularly praise them as "heroes."
--from Roberto Lovato's article Far From Fringe, Winter 2005 issue of Public Eye magazine http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v19n3/lovato_fringe.html
--Richard Heinberg, Core Faculty
New College of California, Santa Rosa
War of Ideas
--J. Alva Scruggs
UFOB online journal
--Tim Johnson, Bellingham Weekly
"Jay and his allies played an integral role. One wonders what would have happened if he had not been present to do battle."
--Tom Pratum, Whatcom Watch
--Juli Kearns, Idyll Opus Press (from the review of Reign of Terror)
Public Good's Paul de Armond noted, "Jay’s leadership through action has served as a shining example of doing democracy by upholding the essential principles of fairness, equality, justice and effective activism."
(Political Research Associates--the premier national organization studying the US Political Right--is a resource and support center for activists and journalists.)
In the News
Other researchers participating in the panel's discussion included Michele Lefkowith, Investigative Researcher for the Anti-Defamation League, Rick Eaton, Senior Researcher at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Sheila O’Donnell, owner of ACE Investigations. The full report from the conference is available at http://skookumgeoduck.blogspot.com/2005/12/precursor-to-domestic-terrorism.html
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Treason for the Empire
Via Online Journal's Mike Mejia:
According to Deliso's two sources, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet and former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, the outing of Valerie Plame may have severely damaged a CIA operation to monitor a nuclear black market faciliated by the shadowy but well-connected Washington lobby group, the American Turkish Council (ATC). (Those familiar with the Sibel Edmonds case will know the ATC is the very same organization that the former FBI translator heard on wiretaps in connection with various alleged illegal activities, some connected to 9/11.)
From Edmonds, Deliso obtained the following admission: "Plame's undercover job involved the organizations [the FBI had been investigating], the ATC (American-Turkish Council) and the ATA (American-Turkish Association) . . . the Brewster Jennings network was very active in Turkey and with the Turkish community in the U.S. during the late 1990s, 2000, and 2001 . . . in places like Chicago, Boston, and Paterson, N.J."
Such a stunning statement by the former FBI contract linguist could be dismissed by those not familiar with the whistleblower's well-established credibility were it not for the fact that Edmonds is, at least in part, corroborated by Ambassador Joseph Wilson himself. In his book the Politics of Truth, Wilson recounts on page 240 that he first met Valerie Plame in 1997, at a reception at the home of the Turkish ambassador which Wilson attended to receive an award from -- you guessed it -- the American Turkish Council. Wilson, of course, never explains in his book what brought Valerie Plame to attend this ATC-sponsored event, but since it is public information that Plame was an undercover CIA operative at the time, the simplest explanation is the most likely one: she was there as part of her Brewster Jennings & Associates cover.
... And Edmonds implies that at least some on the ATC neocon side of this scandal are heavily involved in the nuclear black market: Feith and Perle, along with former Ambassador to Turkey Marc Grossman, are fingered by Edmonds as figures of interest. One only has to recall that Perle and Feith are close allies of Scooter Libby, one of the original leakers of Plame's identity to the media, to conclude that Libby may have had more than one motive in seeing Plame's career and the whole Brewster Jennings operation destroyed...A nuclear black market trail that leads to Cheneyburton himself. ...
Friday, December 23, 2005
What Possible Benefit?
Perhaps it's time we discussed the merits of outlawing such deadly talk. I mean, I'm at a loss to understand what possible benefit to our society is afforded by protecting the ability of media hatemongers to induce murderous bigots to act on their prejudices. It's not like we don't know what happens when they're allowed to operate unrestrained.
The White Fox
The Anti-Defamation League describes StormFront as a “veritable supermarket of online hate, stocking its shelves with many forms of anti-Semitism and racism.” ThinkProgress has acquired the video of the segment:
Full transcript of the FOX Carolina segment below:
It’s a web site with everything from dating advice and homemaking threads, to discussion boards that focus on news that white activists want to know. Stormfront.org is a web site founded on the belief that the white race is a dying race. One member says, “we really are just white folks that deeply care about preserving a future for our progeny.”
There are more than 65,000 members, and since Stormfront started in 1995 there have been more than 2,000,000 posts. Members live in all parts of the world, with close to 3,000 in and around South Carolina.
Bob Whitaker is a former Reagan administration cabinet member and an active member of Stormfront. He believes diversity and equal rights are at the center of a conspiracy against the white race. Whitaker says, “I’m worried about the disappearance of the white race.” Whitaker says too much is being done to diversify America and not enough is being done to protect people like him. “I’m worried about 2 things. I’m worried about the disappearance of the white race and I’m worried about the fact that no one is allowed to talk about the disappearance of the white race, which is even worse.”
But all Americans are provided equal protection under the law, which means equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin. Jamie Kelso is one of Stormfront’s senior moderators. He uses the screen name Charles A. Lindbergh, a well-known aviator who believed in the preservation of the white race. Kelso says, “I admire Charles Lindbergh as someone who throughout his life took pride in the white race and was very concerned about preserving it.”
Even though Stormfront was created by former Ku Klux Klansman Don Black, Kelso says their message isn’t one of hate. “We’re called anti-Semitic, we’re called neo-Nazi, we’re called racist [but] we’re none of that.” Instead, Stormfront members say their message is much more simple. “We don’t hate anybody. The only thing we’re concerned with is that 100 years from now, 500 years from now that there will actually be the kind of white neighborhoods and white nations that our parents and ancestors gave to us.”
Kelso says Stormfront simply provides a safe forum for people to use without fear of retaliation. “Really the political correctness today, you could even call it vicious. On the Internet you can anonymously talk to other people and open up and say what you want to say. This has really opened up a new chance for people to have free speech.”
National Radio Project's weekly program Making Contact explores this monstrous side of yet another Bush family supporter, that currently uses the public airwaves to do public harm. Listen in at:
Except for the Balkans, summer 1999 was relatively peaceful in Western Europe. Even our journey through Basque country was tranquil, punctuated by fine mountain/marine cuisine, petanque, and glace cones at the Biscay seashore. ETA graffiti could still be found, but we nevertheless felt safe wearing our “Pais Basque” berets.
There were, we were told by our residencial hotel host in Florence, unsavory elements—bandits, I think he called them—on the southeastern coast near Brindisi, but the worst we experienced in Italy were poorly-trained pickpockets near the train station.
By the time we reached the Republic of Ireland four months later, we’d only been asked for passports once (entering Switzerland by train from Milan), and had our bags searched once (boarding the Irish ferry in Wales). To my knowledge, there were no hijackings or bombings in Europe that summer, either.
Yet, we were somewhat reluctant to travel to Ulster, despite my desire to see the land where my ancestors once lived, and with forecasts of weeks of rain, we opted for the sunny south and west of Counties Cork, Kerry, and Clare. Ferrying and strolling around the archipelago between Cape Clear and the Mizen Head Peninsula, we were reassured we’d made the right choice. The hostels, pubs, weather and sea were absolutely glorious. The rocky isles of our friends, clan Keohane (kyo-hahn), near Schull (skull), even boasted some villages where Gaelic was still the first language.
With a fine harbor, lovely parks and view, and easy walk-on ferry rides, we adopted Schull as a base of operations for exploring, pubbing, and catching up on correspondence. Within a short walk along the coastal bluff from our hostel to town, we found a very nice place for tea and scones, a used bookstore, an astronomy center, two fine markets, several pub/cafes, and cheap internet-by-the-hour in the back room of the small one-pump petrol garage.
The Euro currency—promoted from traveling walk-in vans with music and free prizes—wasn’t yet in circulation, but everyone was talking about it, and the way the EU eventually got around local identity issues was to print different pictures on currency for each country. But while we were there, we had to exchange currency at each border, which—other than making calculations--was actually kind of fun. The tough part was making sure we stocked up with adequate cash to get us through bank holidays and unusable credit cards, as well as figuring if something was a good deal or not. Mostly we did all right. In France, you could also get money at the Post Office.
The beautiful stone bank in Schull is on the bend of the main street next to a very popular pub where we ate regularly, and across from our favorite tea house bakery. The woodwork inside is exquisite. I was, in fact, admiring the fine carpentry (being a former finish carpenter myself) one morning while Marianne ordered our breakfast across the street.
As I waited for my card to be authenticated over the painstakingly slow phone line, I also observed some nice glass work behind the polished wood counter leading to the vault. Then, two security guards joking with the tellers emerged from the vault with bags and calmly walked out the front entrance. My transfer was shortly approved, and our pub pounds for the weekend were counted out in front of me.
Exiting the bank, though, I was startled to find camouflage-uniformed army commandoes with machine guns and radios guarding both sides of the intersection with their jeeps parked in a way as to block both side streets leading out of town into the countryside. As I carefully walked across to the bakery, I could see Marianne looking anxiously out the window from our table, obviously wondering what was going on.
When the waitress brought our Irish side bacon, tea and scones, we asked, “Is this normal?”
“Oh,” she replied, “there were some bank robberies by the IRA in the past, but now it’s mostly gangsters from Limerick. The army started providing escorts in remote areas to cut down on trouble. It’s nothing to worry about.”
We were, of course, relieved to hear it, but for a few minutes that morning, all Marianne could think of was that I’d been taken hostage by bank robbers while soldiers surrounded the building ready for a shootout. It certainly livened up our day.
For the moment, let's set aside the actual list of Americans illegally spyed on by the FBI under the Cheney Administration, and take a look at the criteria the U.S. Department of Justice used in allocating resources to stop this public menace.
Under the supervision of the U.S. Attorney General, the FBI expanded the definition of domestic terrorism to include:
citizens and groups that participate in lawful protests or civil disobedience;
political and religious activity by students and peace activists that criticize business interests and government policies.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
The Meek Inherit Nothing
Concerned Women for America has emailed its supporters a list of 2005 accomplishments. Not too many surprises: creationism in Kansas; John Roberts; the profoundly unethical and dishonest -- and yet successful -- fight to block FDA approval of over the counter sales of the morning after pill. But perhaps the number one feat of which the Concerned Women boasts is... "Values (pro-life) voters are now feared... by liberal politicians." 2005 -- the Year of Fear.
The average American spends about one third of his or her waking life watching television. The neurological implications of this are so profound that they cannot even be comprehended in words, much less described by them. Television creates our reality, regulates our national perceptions and our interior hallucinations of who we Americans are (the best and only important tribe on the planet.) ...We live within a media generated belief system that functions as the operating instructions for society. Anything outside of its parameters represents fear and psychological freefall to the faceless legions within it....
America suffers from a psychosis, a psychosis being nothing more than an insistence upon staying in an untenable state of consciousness, despite the normal modeling of those around you.
If you ever wondered where Angela Davis ended up after her famous incarceration as a Black Panther (and student of Herbert Marcuse) in the 1960s, she's now an instructor at UC Santa Cruz in the History of Consciousness program.
Interesting program. Pity such valuable information is made so rarefied and exclusionary.
Well, it does lend itself to face-to-face discussion in order to hash this stuff out, and the only place where instructors can make a living doing it is in institutions of higher ed. Some affiliated centers and institutes offer continuing ed. to working adults, but most are forced to conform to institutional dogma to secure funding. Find me a benefactor, and I'll start a satellite program that endows scholarships on people like yourself.
Along those lines, my Cowlitz Indian friend, Dr. Rudolph Ryser, administers an online, distance learning, certificate/degree program through the Fourth World Institute in Olympia WA. Bedrock consciousness of ancient nations still extant is a core aspect of the curriculum. http://www.cwis.org/fwi.htm
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
The First Leaflet
Meanwhile the GOP is already gearing up its anti-immigrant campaign in 30 states as the number one ballot issue for 2006. (For those who haven't noticed, racism works in the US.) So how many pastors from the Washington Association of Churches (co-sponsors of a national human rights conference in their state last weekend) showed up to get informed? You guessed it--zero.
What a perfect metaphor for the sorry state of American citizenship, and a scathing indictment of what passes for The Left. It does not bode well for the future - including the short term future. It's becoming quite clear the existing political framework is ill-suited for anything other than a totatalitarian role. Having witnessed the abuses and crimes Americans have so casually accepted since Bush was installed, I'm fairly certain American adults are largely a lost cause. Resistance, if there is to be one, will depend primarily on youth, that virtually powerless segment of society we have consistently failed. Concepts such as citizenship, civil rights and social justice must be planted in young minds and actively cultivated in perpetuity if this "Republic" experiment is to be resurrected. We are past the point at which these topics can be adequately addressed within a public education system that has long been Ground Zero in the NeoCon Revolution. How to go about doing this is an open question, and one we're not contemplating nearly enough.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Fight the Right
One such non-profit in Oregon, Rural Organizing Project, fills the niche of supporting the work of pro-democracy activists statewide, a level that is frequently neglected, leaving a void between local and regional human dignity groups that hamstrings the ability of folks to affect meaningful change in their state legislatures, laws, budgets, and programs--a crucial ability when our federal government has become an enemy of democracy and human rights.
And Rural Organizing Project, as a shining example of how this can be accomplished, even in hard times like this, actually had a plan that they have carried out successfully over the five disastrous years of the Bush Administration. Take a look. http://www.rop.org/FiveYearPlan.htm
It might have something you and your colleagues can use in your state to fight the right. I mean, what are you waiting for?
I mean, there is no gray area anymore; the GOP is opposed to democracy worldwide, and if you support them, I won't support you. End of story.
P.S. This information is pretty easy to get. Hell, some of these fascist funders even take out banner ads. Public disclosure commissions publish their names. Many of these idiots write letters to the editor. Take them to task. Tell your friends.
The Lord's Work
And so, it is in tribute to that lovable plumber played by Robert DeNiro in the delightful Orwellian comedy Brazil that we encourage budding merry pranksters from Topeka to Tuscaloosa to follow suit and start reversing the hose connections on the GOP. It's the Lord's work.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Indian Wars Continue
UNITED NATIONS - While forest Indian bands in Brazil were being chased and murdered in early December by new settlers who would destroy them in order to re-demarcate their traditional lands, at the United Nations the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, remains a work-in-progress. ...Unless U.S. opposition is turned into a strong commitment to the self-governance and self-determination of American Indian tribal nations, the declaration will die a slow death. http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096412114
BOLIVIA - Evo Morales is the first American Indian to be head of state in modern times. Morales' political career and his candidacy for the country's highest office are deeply troubling to the United States and the Bush administration. An ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Morales heads a political organization called the Movement Toward Socialism. ... Morales has been an unbending foe of American-led policies collectively known as globalization, a set of policies which have become discredited throughout most of Latin America...His supporters favor the nationalization of Bolivia's natural resources. Many nation-states around the world claim to own their oil and natural gas and other natural resources. American-led globalization policies would privatize such resources, and in Bolivia there was even an attempt to privatize water as a natural resource, but the attempt resulted in massive protests and was ultimately unsuccessful. ...U.S. officials have accused Morales, without proof it seems, of being everything from a narco-terrorist to drug trafficker. http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096412100
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Chatting with Sara
Marianne and I were talking over dinner last night about the whole gay marriage versus civil union nonsense, and I suddenly remembered overhearing the same discussion about interracial marriage as an adolescent. So what part of equality don't they understand?
This morning I recalled an essay by Harper Magazine's illustrious editor Lewis Lapham, in which he described the experience at about the same age as your son of helping his grandfather--who was mayor of San Francisco at the time--host the delegates from around the world as they worked through such documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as they had assembled for the purpose of forming the UN. Watching and listening in the Opera House across from City Hall, Lapham was inspired by the lofty goals of world peace and cooperation expressed over the days and weeks involved.
Today, whenever I walk through UN Plaza leading to the SF City Hall steps through a maze of flags of the world, or pause in front of the bronze plaque commemorating the international delegates' gathering at Muir Woods National Monument just over the mountain from where I live, I think of what they set out to do, and how San Francisco continues to excite our collective conscience. So I guess it doesn't matter where we gather to draft a petition calling for the US government to abide by the Constitution as well as international law, but I think the signing deserves to take place on UN Plaza. We could even invite Lewis Lapham.
Talkin' with Todd
Kalle Lasn of the Media Foundation wrote in the July/August 2001 issue of Adbusters magazine about what public health officials describe as the American "epidemic of despair." He went on to note a number of psychosocial studies pointing to a toxicity in American culture that had reached dangerously high levels, leading to the conclusion that "socialization into American culture and society increase susceptibility to psychiatric disorders."
The AMA observed "American school children today are taking four times as many psychiatric meds as all of the rest of the world combined." The roots of these disorders says Lasn--rising expectations from media saturation, and reduced satisfaction from loss of collective family and community life--help to explain the rage, cynicism, and hopelessness enveloping our culture."
Kalle Lasn was absolutely right, of course. Which spawns two questions, at least to my mind. First off, how do we become sane again - is it even possible? And can a society that exalts materialism over more traditional social values breed anything other than cultural dysfunction, even true cultural insanity? For viewed through any type of rational long-term lens, we are, collectively, nuts, bonkers, looney-toones.
More with Arvin
I imagine in 1964 things looked pretty hopeless to conservatives after Goldwater’s defeat. And then look what happened: a Civil Rights movement; an anti-war movement; an environmental movement; and heaven forbid, a feminist movement–all within the following ten years.
But something else happened in that dismal time for the forces of conservatism–they started building the intellectual infrastructure to make a viable comeback that we witnessed in the election of Reagan and Bush and Bush, and the reversals of the sane and humane public policies they loathed.
This brings us to your question, Are leaders expendable? I guess that somewhat depends on the breadth and depth of the networks or movements they represent and the degree of social commitment to the ideas and philosophies they espouse. Which suggests we might want to begin discussions about how our values can make a comeback and what work that will entail. Coincidentally, my friend just started a new blog devoted to that purpose, and his post of a week ago Investing in Ideas initiates the discussion I believe we need to have.
Arvin and Spartacus
Let's face it, liberals live a sheltered life. Maybe not in Texas. Still, anyone who still thinks they can reason or negotiate with the right-wing in the US has a lot better drugs than we do. I mean, even when they finally see the light on the Far Right fascists, they for some reason maintain that the US is a functional state having a few technical difficulties. Can you imagine trying to explain to Iraqi university students how American liberals think? Bound to raise a few eyebrows.
Liberals, I'm convinced, are pathetically slow learners, especially in matters of the human condition. Conservatives are, too, but their ideology depends on ignorance, so it's to be expected. Despite all evidence to the contrary, we're gonna cling to our obsolete notions of citizenship like poison ivy on a live oak. They're comfortable, romantic and thoroughly ingrained ideas, and we're loathe to consider alternate possibilities, good or bad. The pressure of conformity is so great, it's nothing short of invisible. That must surely be a hallmark of all propaganda states.
July 12, 2005
Walter Karp lays it out in his book Indispensable Enemies, but for those averse to libraries, his thesis is your's: the two parties in America are part of a system of elitist collusion against the interests of both the American people and self-governance throughout the world. The evidence is all there staring us in the face: from the Vietnam War to Iran-Contra to NAFTA and Iraq; the US citizenry have always been considered the enemy of the ruling elites. Read Howard Zinn; read the Congressional record; use mind-altering substances; try mucking with the system. We can begin the process of preparing ourselves for governing, or we can continue believing in fairytales.
July 9, 2005
It's interesting that people have developed so many self-imposed psychological barriers to involvement in public affairs. No one does it right the first time, unless they're lucky. But they have a lot better chance at learning from their mistakes than those who don't try do from books. Thinking shouldn't be a barrier to action, but rather a guide.
Your comix fan is a good example. I never worried what people did for a living if they showed up, helped out, and tried to avoid doing something stupid. Fact is, we kicked ass on the racists and militias with a handful of amateurs who were determined to put these people out of public office and in jail where they belonged. You might enjoy the occupational mix of our motley crew: Myself, I was a carpenter; another was a landscaper; followed by a farmer's wife, a dentist's wife, a retired naval commander's wife, a banker's wife, a former nun, a furniture salesman, a realtor, a sewer engineer, and a Goodwill drop box rag-picker, who, by the way, was the smartest of the bunch.
July 8, 2005
Loved the "moo-cow demonstrations" phrase. But that's what the socialists over at ANSWER have come up with, again. Sometimes I feel like we're trying to show a bunch of cows how to do politics, when all they want is their udders yanked.
Hard to tell who's reading this stuff and what, if anything, they think about it. Once in awhile I get an e-mail from someone who says they really dig my blog and appreciate all my work, but they never comment. I wonder how many consumers versus participants there are out there. It's what they've been trained to do, I know, but I kinda hoped they'd feel encouraged to join in more.
I did a little looking around and couldn't find any blog network or sites focused on the practicalities of social change. Not one. Maybe there's no market for it. There's certainly no career in it. I also liked Black Commentator, though I don't agree with their view that Black Power will rise again to lead a liberation movement in the US. Too co-opted. Only the Indians retain a religiously-based firm commitment to values opposed to those of the mainstream establishment. I expect that's why we're seeing such animosity toward them at present.
July 7, 2005
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 fiat that clears away the rubble of complex and complicated conflict. But, as you note, 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 in your 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 your 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, and organizing--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.
With Us or Against Us
Dear Ms. Shirley:
You might want to reconsider the Herald's role to date in essentially serving as a public relations agency for racist vigilantes. Last time the Herald served this function (1990s), seven militia members went to federal prison on explosives and firearms charges after planning to murder human rights activists.
The whitewash of their activities leading up to this by the then Gannett newspaper was key in allowing things to get out of hand. I would hope the Herald would show more sense this time. To date, this is apparently not the case.
At any rate, background information is readily available for you and your reporters to become informed should you become so inclined. Granted this requires more work than re-printing press releases from hate groups, but then again, lives are at stake.
My report of the national human rights conference is available at http://skookumgeoduck.blogspot.com/2005/12/precursor-to-domestic-terrorism.html and it contains links to other national experts on this issue. My book about the previous go round with white supremacist vigilantes in Whatcom county, Blind Spots, is available for purchase on my weblog, as well as at the Bellingham Public Library. Excerpts from the book are located under Memoirs in the sidebar of my site, linked below in my signature url.
Marc Brenman, WA State Human Rights Commission Executive Director, would probably be your best bet for an informed interview, as he sat in on both our private researchers workshop, as well as the panel presentations at the conference. To quote his remarks at the conference luncheon, he observed that what we are seeing with this Minutemen posturing was "a precursor to domestic terrorism."
Brenman's e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org and his phone is 360-753-2558 or 1-800-233-3247. For the national (and WA state) picture on this tragedy, I recommend contacting Devin Burghart at the Center for New Community in Chicago (who was on the panel) at 312-266-0319 or email@example.com
I was sorry to see no Herald reporters at the national conference; I suppose they must have been busy interviewing the Minutemen.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Good and Evil
In particular, Chip bemoaned the utter lack of funding allotted to research and conferences and educational programs that enable a movement to grow--something conservatives have long understood and benefitted by through their long-term investments in such things as think tanks and institutes and colleges and media, fellowships and grants to writers, speakers, mentors, and promising youth.
And I thought about this neglect in the absence of religious leaders in the audience at the conference a week ago, and the paucity of human rights attendees from comfortable and well-funded NGOs of the liberal establishment who no longer feel directly threatened by vigilante terrorism, some of whom at times in the past could have been murdered were it not for the work of those on the presentation panel.
But while we've grown accustomed to the lack of reciprocity and cooperation from those who've become officially-sanctioned and assimilated into the power elite, their effective collaboration with conservatives bent on destabilizing, disintegrating, and deconstructing our civil society is a factor we must take into account. Their cowardice, laziness, and corruption is not something we can shame them into abandoning, but it is something we can confront them on when they get in the way of building democracy. In fact, it is something we must do.
I also thought about the threats we face as a multicultural society in battling political violence, racism, and social exclusion, and how our collective understanding and institutional memory expressed and explored in such gatherings and discussions propels social transformation. Which reminded me of the Zuni Pueblo protector societies that meet regularly to discuss threats to their social harmony and well-being and develop means of guarding against poisonous ideas, be they economic, emotional, intellectual, medicinal, physical, political, or spiritual.
And I thought about the Zuni means of preservation of memory of these tools of survival recorded in their architecture, food, pottery, and regalia, and how through five centuries they've managed to adapt and endure without sacrificing their core values. Which is instructive in the need to develop our storytelling through art, ceremony, dance, oratory, and ritual, if we, too, hope our values will someday triumph over evils like white supremacism.
Without the capacity to pass on such skills as research and organizing, there is no hope. The sooner our allies learn this the better.
Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist claimed his group wasn't racist, but referred to immigrants as the "Mexican Klan" and "Mexican Nazis."
The virulently anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi National Alliance circulated fliers throughout southern Arizona describing illegal immigration as an "invasion" that would cause whites to become a minority.
National Alliance spokesman Shaun Walker endorsed the project and a number of National Alliance members took part. Another white supremacist group, Aryan Nations, called the Minuteman Project, "a call for action on the part of ALL ARYAN SOLDIERS."
--from ADL press release Racist Groups Exploit Immigration Issues...
Friday, December 16, 2005
Precursor to Domestic Terrorism
Presentations about the role of armed groups in the political process were made by:
Paul de Armond, Research Director, Public Good Project
Devin Burghart, Director, Building Democracy Initiative, Center for New Community
David Neiwert, journalist/author/blogger, Orcinus
Jay Taber, author of Blind Spots and War of Ideas
Workshops on the Minuteman Project and immigrant rights were conducted by:
Genevieve Aguilar, ACLU NW Regional Director
Magdaleno Rose-Avila, Executive Director, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Jerry Hebert, Washington State Human Rights Commissioner
Adriana Jasso, American Friends Service Committee
Participants in the researchers’ private discussion along with the presenters above were:
Brandi Bratrude, journalism student, Western Washington University
Marc Brenman, Executive Director, Washington State Human Rights Commission
Michele Lefkowith, Investigative Researcher, Anti-Defamation League
Patrick Manz, Researcher, Anti-Defamation League
Sheila O’Donnell, ACE Investigations
Connie Stringer, Board Member, Rural Organizing Project
Reports on the roots of the Minuteman Project issued in advance of the gathering included:
Analysis of the impending nationwide battle over immigrant rights was kicked off by Devin Burghart’s detailed report of right-wing organizing and fundraising now underway that implicated individuals with twenty-year track records of inciting bigotry and violence against minorities from coast to coast. Particularly disturbing was the level of coordination and sophistication by the GOP in mainstreaming former anti-government paramilitaries into pro-apartheid government supporters—the Minutemen.
The political climate fostered by such notable xenophobic public officials as Governor Schwarzenegger, combined with the atmosphere of fear exacerbated by groups with antecedents in the Klan, Minutemen, Posse Comitatus, Militia Movement, Aryan Nations, the Order, and John Birch Society, raised the very real concern about bloodshed and other forms of violence in the coming year. Hearings on anti-immigrant legislation in the U.S. Congress this week signal the beginning of this social conflict. Anti-immigrant television ads are already running in the Midwest.
The continuity of the hate groups and paramilitaries that now have a voice in Congress as well as on right-wing media is now a vertically-integrated support system for organized hate. They have experience, funds, and to a large degree, public opinion on their side. And unless groups like the National Council of Churches and their allies mobilize their resources in opposition soon, the extreme positions of the racist organizations listed above will be the supreme law of the land. Civil rights as well as civil liberties will be a thing of the past.
As Marc Brenman remarked, “This Minuteman Project is a precursor to domestic terrorism.”
[Read what some are doing about it today: http://firstsolidthoughts.blogspot.com ]
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Reason to Leave
Following the massacres and confiscations of property by Cromwell in 1653, the landed gentry of Ireland had rapidly converted from that of the Irish and Old English (Anglo-Irish) to that of the Protestant New English. Lands in the provinces of Leinster, Munster and Ulster were given to veterans of the Parliamentary Army and adventurers under Cromwell and Ireton. For those who would accept transplantation, Irish lands were reserved in the province of Connacht, excluding coastal lands and most of County Sligo and Leitrim.
Following the collapse of the Cromwellian regime in December 1659, Charles II was proclaimed King after restoration of the Monarchy in England. His policies in Ireland resulted in further land settlement during the 1660's.
By 1685 James II ascended the throne. James was a Roman Catholic and during his reign, a more pro-Catholic policy was enacted in Ireland. As a result of Protestant nervousness, the English removed James from the throne in 1688. The Irish prepared to rebel and invited the ousted King James to lead them. James borrowed troops from France and landed in Ireland in 1689, the year that William (III) and Mary ascend to the throne in England. The Catholic Irish, comprising the vast majority of the population, had supported the Jacobite (King James) cause.
In June, 1690 William III of England landed at Carrickfergus to face the Jacobite forces under James II and the Irish. The English defeated James on the banks of the Boyne on July 11, 1690, and he fled to France to his benefactor, Louis XIV of France. James's forces suffered further defeat the following year at the Battle of Aughrim. The war ended with the Treaty of Limerick in 1691. The terms of the Treaty were satisfactory to the Irish, but were subsequently dishonoured and Limerick became known as the city of the violated treaty. The Treaty of Limerick was not ungenerous to the defeated Catholics, but they were soon to suffer from penal laws designed to reinforce Protestant ascendancy throughout Irish life.
The Battle of the Boyne marked the beginning of Protestant control over Catholics in Ireland. Its anniversary is celebrated by Protestants in Northern Ireland. The Treaty of Limerick marked the "flight of the Wild Geese" where many of the old Irish and Old English military and gentry seek their fortune in other European countries. In 1695 the beginning of penal legislation is enacted against the Irish Catholics and Dissenters in Ireland.
Between 1695 and 1728 a series of acts is passed which forbade Irish Catholics from practicing their faith and the vast majority of wealthy Catholics were stripped of their wealth, their positions, their estates and their homes, leaving them virtually paupers. The penal acts prevent Catholics from bearing arms and owning horses worth more than £5. They restricted their rights to education, stop them from buying land, and on death, Catholic property must be divided among all sons. Catholics are banned from serving in the army, holding public office, entering the legal profession, becoming MPs or voting. In 1720 an Act declared the right of the British Parliament to pass laws for Ireland.
As a little known event to add to the troubles in Ireland in the middle of the eighteenth century, a famine occured in 1739-40 which was said to have caused nearly 400,000 deaths to occur in Ireland. Later in the century revolutionary fervor, ignited by rebellions in France and the newly formed United States of America, spurred new rebellions in the 1790s aimed at undermining the Protestant conquest of Ireland.
--from the Moscow Times article about the "universal death squads" carrying out murders for the White House over the last four years, and the "enablers of atrocity" in the still acquiescent U.S. Congress. More at
Which Side Are You On?
THOSE WORDS, PENNED IN ARTICLE 11 of the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, are as succinct a statement as we have from the Founding Fathers on the role of religion in our government. Their authorship is ascribed variously to George Washington, under whom the treaty was negotiated, or to John Adams, under whom it took effect, or sometimes to Joel Barlow, U.S. consul to Algiers, friend of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, and himself no stranger to the religious ferment of the era, having served as a chaplain in the Revolutionary Army. But the validity of the document transcends its authorship for a simple reason: it was ratified. It was debated in the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Adams without a breath of controversy or complaint concerning its secular language, and so stands today as an official description of the founders’ intent.
And it wouldn’t stand a chance in the government of the country we’ve become.
--from the special issue of Mother Jones magazine looking at the interplay of conservative Christianity and the U.S. government.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
http://www.notinmycounty.org/wp-content/user/Poster.pdf I was asked to submit a brief biographical note. If the following personal profile inspires someone to recommend me for either speaking engagements or other forms of employment, I would be eternally grateful.]
On September 8, 2000, I received the Public Good Project (a privately-funded national research network) Defender of Democracy award for "organizing effective opposition to Anti-Indian violence and racism in Washington state."
My first book, Blind Spots http://www.lulu.com/spartacus tells the tale of how social disintegration was engineered in 14 Washington counties thirteen years ago. The free online excerpts from this expose are available on my weblog at http://skookumgeoduck.blogspot.com/2005/05/reign-of-terror.html
My second book, War of Ideas http://www.lulu.com/spartacus provides an analysis of the impediments to meaningful self-government in the US, as well as proposes a curriculum for both formal and popular settings. (Topics include: mass communication and modern social conflict; dynamics of an open society; protecting society from political pathogens; and overcoming obstacles to moral conduct.)
The Fall 2005 issue of Public Eye Magazine features an article http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v19n2/scher_montana.html on community organizing that cites my 2001 report
Research as Organizing Tool http://skookumgeoduck.blogspot.com/2005/06/research-as-organizing-tool.html
In February 2006, my essay The Power of Moral Sanction was featured in the international journal Forum for Global Exchange, a publication of the Center for World Indigenous Studies.
I presently live just north of San Francisco, where, in 2002, I contributed to the development of a graduate program
Activism and Social Change http://www.newcollege.edu/activismchange/ within the New College of California school of humanities.
Until recently, the concept of Mayans working collectively incurred the wrath of the military, police or other authoritarian figures; that's why it was difficult to establish a public co-operative, especially for women only. ''The women still have the fear of organizing, because in the war it wasn't permitted to have meetings."
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Orbits of Influence
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Two sources for helping to clarify this hotly-contested issue are http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Treaties/Treaties.html and http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096412062
By reading some of the treaties posted at First People, it becomes readily clear that they were intricately-detailed, highly-complex real estate transactions that explicitly described the landscapes and payments, as well as the implicit perpetual obligations and responsibilities of the exchange that have been worked out over the last century and a half.
Most recently, the billions of dollars potentially lost to the tribes as a result of the Department of Interior's theft of revenues owed for leases, royalties and sales of property, is potentially what Indian Country Today described as "the greatest land grab in 150 years.''
This mismanagement of the Indian trust fund by Interior--perhaps the most blatant example of stolen royalties from oil, gas, coal and other mineral leases--was exposed in a 1996 attempt to reconcile the trust fund accounts from between July 1, 1972 and September 1992. When the federal government's unconscionable attempt to have the case dismissed failed, it asked the court to impose a statute of limitations on claims for funds before 1984. According to Federal Claims Court regulations, the statute of limitations is six years, a term set by Congress.
Keeping these stolen funds by using technicalities in the Indian Claims Commission Act, possibly novel, is probably the most egregious case of Congress and the Executive branch colluding in depriving the benificiaries of these long-standing liens by trickery since the fiduciary responsibilities were first assumed by Interior. To the tribes, though, it is just one more case of broken promises.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005
A couple days later we headed up the Yakima Valley to the pine-forested foothills of the Cascade Range on our way back home to Bellingham. After stopping for refreshments on the Yakama Indian Reservation, though, the engine in our old Volvo sedan started hopping around under the hood, and it was nearly sunset by the time I finished bolting down the engine mount with some hardware I found in the bottom of my mechanic’s toolbox.
I’d worked up a sweat lying under the torrid oil pan, so the cool evening air blowing in the windows as we climbed the 4,694 foot Cayuse Pass on the back side of Mount Rainier was especially refreshing. By the time the glaciers came into view, it was nearly dusk, and we were the only car on this back road through the mountains. And with that spectacular view of alpine wildflowers and snow-covered volcano our transmission died.
Marianne and our dog Ajax stayed with the car while I hiked up the road to find help, which turned out to be a logger grilling burgers outside his cabin who had a big pickup and for fifty bucks offered to tow us down the mountain. Once we had the cable shackled between our bumpers, he said to give him a honk if we wanted to slow down. Otherwise, the next stop was Enumclaw.
For the next half hour, as he took the familiar curves at terrifyingly high speeds in pitch blackness, I kept both of my white-knuckled hands on the wheel while Marianne pounded the horn until our battery wore out. Pulling up to a stop in the empty Enumclaw shopping center, our logger buddy hopped out of his cab where a rock and roll tape was blasting at ear shattering decibels, unhooked the cable, and waved goodbye.
After holing up for a day with our friends Larry and Sylvia Keohane on their horse ranch just down the road, the local transmission shop assured us their hundred dollar repair would hold till we reached Bellingham--a little over a hundred miles away--if we took it easy.
When we thankfully rolled up our drive under the cedars of our front yard, there was a U-haul truck parked next door, and Ralph and Teresa Mize were shuffling out their front door with their sofa. After unloading our stuff and throwing some hay to our horses, we wandered over to inspect their work. The next morning, we waved them off to their new home at Pullman in the Palouse Hills near the Idaho border where Ralph would study horticulture at Washington State University.
Somehow that day, our rabbits got out and we spent all morning looking for them in the woods, until it was time to get the horses ready for Hank to shoe. Later, when Hank was loading his anvil and chaps, our neighbors Dan and Miriam Barnett and their kids pulled up in front asking if we’d lost the rabbit they had in the backseat. Meanwhile, the phone was ringing, and Marianne burst out laughing when she answered.
Smoky, our Russian Blue kitty, had evidently explored the back of the Mize’s U-haul just before they locked it up and drove the 300 or so miles to Pullman. They were just about to head to Oregon’s Willamette Valley to check out fruit orchards, and wondered if we’d like them to put our cat on an airplane to Seattle. After some discussion, we determined that would be fine.
An hour later, Teresa phoned to say the airport wouldn’t let Smoky fly without a crate and rabies certificate, and that she could stop by a vet for a booster shot if we couldn’t fax a copy to the airport. Going with the flow, we said, “Sure, get her a shot and we’ll pick her up at Sea-Tac.”
Half way to the airport, Marianne looked out the rear window, and said,”The whole freeway behind us is blue smoke. I can’t even see other cars.” We pulled off at the next exit and into a gas station, where we discovered our hundred dollar transmission repair was just about kaput. With Smoky waiting at the airport, though, we decided to grab a case of transmission fluid, and pray we didn’t pass a state trooper.
When we walked through the baggage terminal doors, we heard a loud wildcat growl from behind the claims counter, where the airline agent asked,”Is this your cat?”
After topping up the tranny fluid and putting the cardboard crate containing Smoky in back, we got on the road crossing our fingers we could make it through two hours of highway traffic without a ticket or breakdown. Half an hour later I nearly went through the roof of the car as Smoky managed to get a leg out of the lid and sink five claws firmly in my thigh. After Marianne managed to wrestle her back into her box, we lumbered our way home with frequent stops for fluid refills and were grateful for the evening breeze that now dissipated the blue fog we spewed behind us.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Form of Insanity
--Margaret Atwood in a 1978 interview by Jim Davidson
Thursday, December 01, 2005
--from Going Home