Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Surplus Killing

"The human body reached its present, sprocket-hipped form 2 million years ago. As far back as 400,000 years ago he had hearth and hut. At least one hominid besides us--Neanderthal man, who also shared our brain size--folded its dead into graves, nurtured its weak, and played flute....

Nonetheless they're gone and we--Homo sapiens sapiens or Man Wise Wise--are left, the lone animal genus on the planet to have one species representative, one face, walking or crawling around....All the fossil record tells us is that our ancestors, Homo sapiens, wandered out of Africa about 100,000 years ago, and about 50,000 years ago developed the symbolic consciousness we know as fully human....

Scientists call this the Big Bang of the human mind.

After the Bang comes masterful and balletic and even senseless hunting. Art. Jewelry. Ritual. The images of horses and reindeer and bulls molder on the walls of caves. The art shows a mind not just reactive but reflective, able to plan....Our kill sites show we sometimes kill far more than we can eat and just leave the carcasses on the ground, an unusual mammal behavior called surplus killing."

--from A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World by Susanne Antonetta


Extra Ordinary People

The real civil rights movement:

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Stages of Conflict

While some are busy arguing whether or not civil war exists in Iraq, we might want to look a little closer to home on the topic.

Perhaps the abandonment of dialogue for annihilation is useful in defining this type of domestic conflict that climaxes in the exhaustion of a willingness to endure endless slaughter. Earlier stages of the conflict that act as prelude to the most lethal aspects include demonization, discrimination, and criminalization of the other side.

Malign neglect by the federal government toward blacks in Florida and New Orleans, scapegoating of immigrants by the GOP, and state-sponsored terror directed at gays and lesbians through faith-based initiatives emanating from the White House, are warning signs people in the US had better heed soon.


Thoughts and Deeds

There's a difference, as we know, between thoughts and deeds. Inciting hatred that leads to violence--especially hatred based on rejection of human rights--is more than just thinking; it's an act of persuading people to deny others the right to exist. At its most extreme, it results in ethnic cleansing, collective punishment, and genocide.

The correlation between denying human dignity to a distinct ethnic or religious or racial populace and the subsequent brutalities visited on them is clear. The lessons of Bosnia, Rwanda, Palestine, North of Ireland, America, and Nazi Germany all indict unrestricted speech as reckless; how we might go about restricting it is something we should discuss at length, but not something we should avoid out of some misguided sense of freedom to hate as a civil right.

Perhaps looking at how these freedoms have been abused here and elsewhere will provide guidance to our discussion.



Covert ops in Iraq? Color me shocked!


Dewey Clarridge
General Wayne Downing


Role Reversal

Germany and Austria take human rights seriously (while US abstains):

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Vicious Rumors

An update on how social movements are undermined by psychological warfare:


Through the Looking Glass

San Francisco NAACP President shill for right-wing Moonies:


Loathsome Combination

Our Canadian friends are all over the Puritan pecksniffs in the South Dakota legislature who just banned abortion:

Of course, The Handmaid's Tale was written by a Canadian who happened to live close enough to New England to be aware of lashing, stockading, and witch-burning by the forebearers of the present American Taliban. All she did was predict a resurgence of fanatic Christianity mainstreamed by that loathsome combination of church and state.


Coverup and Whitewash

The Knight Ridder news daily Bellingham Herald continues to serve as a free public relations service for the Minuteman Militia, dutifully announcing their events and transmitting their propaganda. Last time the Herald performed this service (in the mid 1990s), seven militia members went to federal prison on explosives and firearms violations.

This time, despite readily available, easily readable reports and press releases by Washington Association of Churches and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project--not to mention denunciation of the Minuteman Militia by the Washington State Human Rights Commission director as a "precursor to domestic terrorism"--the Bellingham Herald has not once cited any of these sources. Rather, the Herald format has consistently been to provide several paragraphs of support for the vigilante militia and conclude with one sentence dismissing the concerns of their opponents.

One has to wonder at the motives of a mainstream newspaper supporting domestic terrorism in the US, as well as look at the connections between militias past and present and the Republican Party, before a pattern begins to emerge. Ten years ago, the Herald coverup was about concealing ties between militias and property-rights groups fronting for the GOP anti-environmental/anti-Indian agenda. Today, the Herald whitewash is about creating the illusion of a grassroots anti-immigration movement that is in fact--once again--a highly orchestrated public relations drama coordinated by and synchronized with a national Republican campaign.

So much for liberal media.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Fighting Back

I just listened to KPFA Berkeley broadcasting live from my alma mater New College in the San Francisco (Latino) Mission District, and there's a lot of organizing going on by the day laborers against Sensenbrenner et al.

They're holding a cross country run from L.A. to New York; they're planning immigrant rights rallies across the country, including March 10 in Chicago; they're sending delegations to meet with heads of state throughout Latin America to pressure Congress to lay off....

Contact info for National Day Laborer Organizing Network:


China Syndrome

When I was in college in the early 1970s, I did research on nuclear-related carcinogenic medical statistics for the people who ultimately stopped the proliferation of plants in Washington state. Later in that decade it was revealed that two of the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) plants, halted after construction, had life-threatening structural deficiencies due to fraudulent x-rays submitted by the contractor in order to omit the required steel reinforcement for the massive concrete structures and thence pocket substantial profits on the bid.

Later yet, watching the movie China Syndrome, I was reminded of this simple fact about nuclear energy: it's a boondoggle for heavy industry at taxpayers' expense--always has been--and with that amount of public funds on the table, it will always attract crooks. So when I heard our President Enron and Vice President Halliburton recently touting a resurgence of nuclear plant construction, let's say I was more than a little sceptical about it's viability, even under the best of circumstances--circumstances that gave us the (pre-Chernobyl) most-contaminated-site-on-earth Hanford Nuclear Reservation across the Columbia River from where I grew up, as well as the meltdown at Three Mile Island.

This morning on NPR, I listened to a nuclear sceptic debate a nuclear apologist, and learned about both improved technology and the still-unsolved waste storage dilemma, as well as nuclear power's unavoidable vulnerability to sabotage. I also learned that each plant in the US requires a billion dollars annual government subsidy just to operate, waste disposal and management issues aside.

And I almost learned about a recent failure of the most modern of designs built in France before NPR's host scrambled to commercial and then went to the phone-in calls immediately afterward. Seems like the WPPSS fiasco all over again; let's hope it doesn't get as far along toward criminal catastrophe as it did last time.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Arsenal of Democracy

NAACP--from Munich to Mississippi:


Learn from History

Our admired colleague at Orcinus has a feature story in the current issue of Seattle Weekly:

As Dave pointed out in another recent post on what's killing Orcas, whenever there is a challenge to the industrial way of life that is causing all species to be endangered--whether that challenge is from the indigenous economic model, or from the environmentalist perspective--the two things we can always count on is abundant hyperbole from politicians and very predictable behavior from the cultural warriors like the Building Industry Association.

Dave's earlier post illustrates it is possible to learn from history--especially the ESA-related Growth Management Act battles of a decade ago. Whether or not a rational discussion can ever take place amongst the decibels generated by right-wing transmitters as he called them--not to mention the destabilizing covert operations of trade and industry groups--though, is another question altogether.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Big Oil--Big Jesus

Why Alito matters:


2% Solution

Big welcome to Religious Right Watch:


Apocalypse Anxiety

Americans (New Yorkers excluded) won't admit it, but they loved 9/11. They loved the Gulf War. And they'll love nuking Iran.

Not because they're knowledgeable about anything at all concerning politics or history, but because they're into televised spectacle. Which is why Iraq is a loser in terms of ratings; conventional bombs and chemical warfare against civilians is boring.

Americans want to be mesmerized by something more spectacular.

Monday, February 20, 2006


800 Pound Gorilla

I was recently criticized for raising the issue of mental health in US politics, particularly for citing psychiatric experts in my memoir Blind Spots.

Whatever the reasons that this topic disturbs people, the fact of the matter is that our culture makes people crazy. Americans have been documented to have abnormally high mental disorders. World Health Organization reports on the specifics of this phenomenon are alarming to say the least.

Add to that the effects of inadequate brain development due to poor education and unloving environments, organic brain damage from physical and psychological abuse or accident, as well as brainwashing from aggressive media and religion, and we've got some seriously damaged folks running around. When these confused and often angry fellow citizens get involved in politics, things can get real ugly.

The experts I cited in Blind Spots were included in order to help explain some of the incoherence, malice, and violence I witnessed in the right-wing I actively organized against and later studied. I have no problem claiming some appeared to be insane. Not all were violent, and not all had symptoms like those described in my book, but some did, and I found that interesting.

Under recommended reading in the Curricula section of Skookum is a book titled The Emotional Life of Nations, which is a very disturbing account of child abuse in the US. Suffice to say that this and other books I've read have convinced me that this is a significant factor in what we are dealing with in the US right-wing. That fact needs to be acknowledged as well as explored if we are to counter them effectively. That's why I brought it up.


Way Overdue

UN negotiations on indigenous rights move forward:


Raining Down Terror

National Council of Churches condemns Bush Administration:

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Pause to Think

For those still capable of grasping the concept of evolution, there are some interesting little-known aspects to that in terms of the development of the human brain and associated characteristics of personality.

I'm not talking about the well-understood and acknowledged science of brain development that can be impaired by physical or psychological abuse or lack of a loving, nurturing environment in individuals. Rather, I'm referring to the multi-generational impact across millenia of aggressive, individualistic, exclusive culture versus kind, communitarian, inclusive families and societies.

We work with what we have, of course, but it's startling as well as sobering when health workers in the US observe a distinct difference at birth between Indian and non-Indian babies' demeanor. These observations, admittedly, do not take into account pre-natal practices, and I wouldn't want to jump to any conclusions.

It is, however, intriguing to mingle among tribal peoples, as well as countries like Portugal, where behavior and expression are notably less hostile than among ordinary Americans. At the very least, it ought to give us pause to think.


Siberian Logic

The word shaman comes from the language of the reindeer people of Siberia. To subdue these nomadic people who ranged from the Urals to Mongolia to the Arctic Circle, the Communist Party first exterminated the shamans.

The people there still enact an annual ritual of their souls flying to the sun on the backs of reindeer, which shamans sometimes accomplished by transforming themselves into reindeer, allowing themselves to also perform reconnaisance of the cosmos as well as the landscape and their herds of up to ten thousand animals.

After two generations of habituated cosmopolitanism by the Soviet bureaucracy, some tribes of reindeer people began to name some of their domesticated working reindeer after literary figures and heads of state. One dominating female, for instance, they called Margaret Thatcher. A more docile male, Sancho Panza. A stolid favorite, Chernomyrdin, after the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

When the human Chernomyrdin left the Kremlin, the reindeer herders killed his namesake. "Why waste resources herding an ex-Prime Minister?" they argued. "He stopped being a useful government contact, so we ate him."

We are enjoying reading The Reindeer People by Piers Vitebsky.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Another World

Native American Authors:

Friday, February 17, 2006


Beyond the Law

"Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made clear to the Senate last week...that the president can contravene any law he chooses under his authority as commander-in-chief. ...including the power to jail anyone without charges, hold them indefinitely and have them tortured -- or simply murder them in an extrajudicial killing."


Ethnic Cleansing

Sometimes it helps to step outside the pervasive incoherence that presently characterizes America, in order to look at our problems in a more global context. And no problem in the US is more elemental in that regard than our relations with First Nations, both at home and abroad.

Without getting into the local particulars of countries like Colombia, Bolivia, Nigeria, or Peru, the one fact that they share in common is that the rights of their internally displaced indigenous nations are--according to international conventions--human rights in their most elemental form. The right to continue to exist as a people: to speak, dance, sing, worship, educate, develop, and govern themselves as they see fit; that is what neoliberal economics and neoconservative militarism continue to violate on a daily basis.

Oppression of indigenous nations by Euro-American institutions in the form of centralized governments, organized religion, and corporatized economies--that deny indigenous autonomy and self-determination--is by definition genocidal in that by making it impossible to coexist, a de facto ethnic cleansing results.


Insidious Abuse

Thanks to Juli Meanwhile at Idyll Opus for the following link:

History News Network isn't just another American holocaust denier. They market themselves as a reliable provider of K-12 educational materials.

I notice, by the way, HNN is based in Seattle. Washington state has always been a hotbed of Anti-Indian think tanks and propaganda mills. I also notice an absence in the article denying genocide, of any reference to key acts of Congress in which elimination of Indian nations and peoples is spelled out as the objective of the United States. Nothing about ethnic cleansing through religious boarding schools. No mention of forced sterilization in our lifetime.

Coincidentally, I see Washington Governor Gregoire ignored the Columbia River tribes in her recent deal with irrigators. At least she didn't openly slander Indians like California's governor, but she may be setting up a situation similar to Klamath Basin by pitting whites against Indians through asserting state authority to abrogate their interests. Maybe worse since she apparently co-opted the greens.

As I've noted before, psychological warfare against First Nations has evolved to suit the needs of corporations hungry for their resources, as well as for state governments that view tribes as competition for lotteries and federal grants. Employing anti-sovereignty brainwashing in the guise of aids to child education may be strategically wise in terms of extending capitalism and the privileges of white supremacy, but it's a particularly insidious abuse of power.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Articles of Faith

For those bewildered by the current incoherence, Jerome Himmelstein's book To The Right patiently follows the transformation of American conservatism brought about by social movement entrepreneurs like Paul Weyrich.

While this and other writing on the madness of the US right-wing is worth our attention, though, it is useful to keep in mind that the alternate version of capitalist faith in the free market--otherwise known as neoliberalism--also offers a limited and dogmatic view of modern development that actively represses authentic democratic organizing and self-determination--what some of us would call freedom.


World Conflict Visual Aid

Speaking of maps:


Year of Living Democratically

"Though democracy is often conceived of as a political form based on popular sovereignty and participation, its most commonly understood meaning is a thoroughly streamlined version. ...Sociologist William I. Robinson refers to this form of democracy as “Polyarchy,” a system in which a small elite rules by confining mass participation to leadership choice in controlled elections.

Polyarchies—a form of restricted democracy that accommodates capitalist principles in otherwise threatening contexts—permitted the US to make a relatively smooth transition from supporting dictatorships in the Philippines and Nicaragua, for example, to supporting democratization movements in those same countries. As it turns out, limited “democracy” often serves US interests more effectively than authoritarianism. ...

In the Philippines and Nicaragua, the US began financing ostensibly pro-democracy groups, facilitating their rise to positions of power out of proportion to their numbers or the strength of their ideas, within broader democratization movements. Selected Philippine and Nicaraguan NGOs and political parties received financing (direct and indirect) from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and sister organizations that allowed them to create a much higher profile than their leftwing competitors within the democratization movements....

When the dictatorships ended, these pro-US elite groups were well-placed to take power, as the examples of Corazon Aquino (Philippines) and Violeta Chamorro (Nicaragua) illustrate. The replacement of dictatorships in Latin America with polyarchies brought with it the widespread implementation of neoliberal economic reforms."


Manifest Destiny

Most liberals prefer to think the American holocaust is a thing of the past, but when we look at our immigration policy toward Latin America or the war on drugs there by US agencies and military, the people being killed are Indians. The reason the Zapatistas are so popular is because the US-led indigenous genocide from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego continues unabated, the uranium industry being but one example among many of the deadly means.


The Enemy is a System

[In the wake of the recent election of an indigenous Bolivian to the presidency, we thought we'd let Narco News weigh in with some thoughts.]

First, a glimpse of what some social movements have been up to in the past few months:

On December 4th, the Cochabamba-based Coordinating Committee for the Defense of Water and Life, along with more than 40 organizations from across the country, founded the National Coordinating Committee in Defense of Water and Basic Services, an unprecedented coalition with tremendous potential.

Members of the Guarani nation issued an denunciation of Spanish oil company Repsol last month for the environmental destruction the company has caused on Guarani land and are embarking on a campaign to force the company to respect local laws and international standards.

Alteños (residents of the indigenous city of El Alto, next to La Paz) convoked a national Popular Workers Summit, pledging to unite in the fight for “nationalization without indemnity,” a National Popular Assembly, and several other workers’ demands. (They concluded that no political party represented these interests and issued the next government a 90-day deadline for proving their worth before mobilization begins).

Though they have passed under the international radar, these developments show that many on the Bolivian left have not been immersed in electoral fever. These groups continue to shape their own future through grassroots organizing, rather than entrust their dreams to a political party.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Real Power

"Only one threat to global stability hangs over the world today--the United States...The ostentatious militarism of the United States...has ended up worrying the three big real powers--Europe, Japan, and Russia--and is pushing them closer together.

The disquiet and agitation directly or indirectly sponsored by the United States in the Persian Gulf and its clear desire to control the energy supply on which both Europe and Japan depend can only lead these two protectorates to increasingly consider Russia, now the second-leading producer of crude oil and still the world's leading producer of natural gas, as a necessary partner....

Together, Europe, Russia, and Japan are two and a half times more powerful [economically] than the United States....The United States is unable to live on its own economic activity and must be subsidized to maintain its level of consumption...[but] there will be a slowdown in the flow of goods, capital, and migration that currently nourishes the United States [which] will then have to live like other nations, notably by reigning in its huge trade deficit, a constraint that would imply a 15 to 20 percent drop in the standard of living...."

--Emmanuel Todd, After The Empire


Perpetual Disintegration

It may be old news by now, but in 2002, French author Emmanuel Todd observed in his book, After The Empire, that the US could get along just fine with the oil it imports from Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela. His thesis regarding the US oil obsession in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere is economic control of the resource as a means of global domination.

He goes on to note, though, that control of world oil is but one form of US-desired dominance. The need for US militaristic intervention, that keeps the only healthy industry left in the US going (besides gun-running and money-laundering), requires perpetual disintegration and instability in regions like the Persian Gulf and Middle East.

Mission accomplished, as they say.


Three Years Later

Can you remember where you were?


Immigration 101

[real people, real issues, real solutions]

"In Our Own Words: Immigrants' Experiences in the Northwest." The report is available on-line at the PCUN website: http://www.pcun.org/campaigns/InOurOwnWords.pdf

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Caring About Equality

"I am convinced that if republican or Catholic France were still at war with Algeria--repressing, interning, and killing Arabs as the state of Israel is doing in Palestine--today's United States, differentialist, inegalitarian, and wracked by its own bad conscience--would side with this colonial France that had abandoned its universalism. There is nothing more reassuring for those who have given up on justice than to see others behaving unjustly....

The incapacity of the United States to see Arabs as other human beings is consistent with the ebbing of universalism within American society."

--from After The Empire by Emmanuel Todd


Mammon Miracles

Thanks to Revealer for the following:

The World is Mine
08 February 2006

"I've got a Mercedes, my wife has a Mercedes, my daughter has a Mercedes. It all belongs to God and he's letting me use it." Bartholomew's Notes on Religion reports that Charisma magazine has announced its dog in the race for one of Michigan's two senate seats: Arlington Group member and "Prosperity Gospel" Pastor Keith Butler of the 20,000-member Word of Faith church, who promises that 2006 is going to be a breakthrough year for prosperity-gospel believers...



I just saw the movie Junebug, which reminded me of what a different world North Carolina is from San Francisco Bay--where I live now, or Washington state--where I lived for 46 years.

I'm glad the filmmaker chose to portray life as it is there without judgment or mockery, but with respect for differences. Because of that honesty, as well as some decent acting and an interesting story, I can recommend it without reservation.

To my knowledge, my mother was the first Mississippi O'Neal born out of the Deep South enclave of Irish clans that originally landed in South Carolina two and a half centuries ago, and unless one travels back to family reunions (which I haven't), it's easy to forget how distinct the different regions of the US are.

Coincidentally, I happened to be looking up the name John O'Neal a while back (our immigrant patriarch's name), and came across a renowned playwright in Jackson, Mississippi who had forty years ago run the cultural arm of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. Unlike myself, though, he's black.

Reading about this remarkable man, I found myself wondering, "What must it be like to live in an area where everyone knows your family, and the evidence of a less than salubrious past looks you in the face every day?"


Total Totalitarian Totality

The Purge Continues:


Led Astray

I recently sent a link to the national Catholic social justice network website to a friend whose son is presently attending a right-wing Catholic law school. (The parents, also Catholic, are appalled by the policies of our federal government, and are belatedly asking what went wrong.)

Better late than never, I guess, but their former identification with Republicans (for reasons I haven't determined), as well as their indoctrination of their son in a Catholic education (at a time that the Catholic Church had turned solidly against liberation theology), has apparently had unintended consequences.

Their son's comments on the liberation Catholics:

"Interesting group. It seems like they look to achieve good ends (from their perspective which may or may not be totally compromised by a misapplied pity). However, I think there views are a little bit scewed. Pity and other feelings, as noble as they may be in nature, can be misapplied or unfocused to the point that they are actually a detriment to what is good.

Funny how this group seems to lack any mentioning of promoting a culture of life outside their opposition to Iraq [War], which I might add is invariably helping the culture of life as Hussein is no longer killing Iraqis by the tens of thousands and changing the dynamics in the Middle East in such a way as to bring more understanding between our two cultures.

They also seem to be pretty heavy into the government taking over the role of the church in providing for people. Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker and a known socialist Catholic was even opposed to that type of role by the government as it would take away from the common man's free will to help his fellow man. On that topic, I find that conservatives are more likely to assist their fellow man than elitist liberals, just an observation.

As for the comment on our Supreme Court, from a legal, political and Catholic perspective, those Catholics on the Supreme Court with the possible exception of Kennedy should be commended for their well founded philosophy on law and for taking difficult and just stances on important social issues. I've personally witnessed a fascist. Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito appear to be nowhere near a political affiliation of this nature and any accusations of this type are completely unfounded. Bam! I just talked down this group using my enhanced logic, reason and foresight. :)

I wouldn't say that being a Catholic should make someone an ardent Republican or even Democrat for that matter, so long as they look to do what is right. I'd say that this group works for what is right in their minds, but they seem to work with the wrong people for it [i.e.Quakers] and this leads them astray. In closing, the Church holds that the means cannot be compromised in achieving the right ends."

Monday, February 13, 2006


Patterns Emerge

Democrat treachery getting tiresome:


Remember the Lessons

When I first heard about the use of chemical warfare and riotous behavior of US troops toward unarmed women and children in the assault on Fallujah last year, I remember recalling the berserk conduct of US troops in the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, and I wondered if this generation of teenagers had also succumbed to the patriotic/military brainwashing, demoralization, fatigue, and inevitable indulgence in mind-altering drugs. As it turns out, they had.

In his book The Freedom, Christian Parenti recounts his time spent as a reporter accompanying these young, impressionable boys--almost completely ignorant of history, geography, or politics--who'd joined for the money or adventure, and were now ingesting massive doses of steroids before going out on missions, and chilling out afterward with handfuls of valium.

Thirty-four years ago, January 30, 1972, a couple hundred British paratroopers were sent into the North of Ireland city of Derry. Located on the western border of the British-occupied territory, citizens of Derry that day were holding a massive, peaceful march for civil rights in protest of unwarranted, uncharged internment of innocent civilians. Similar to the civil rights marches held in the South of the US, their message was a demand for freedom, equality, and rule of law. Both Catholics and Protestants participated in their Sunday best, the elderly, women, and children present in large numbers.

What the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association had not counted on, though, was that the crack troops known as Paras had been brainwashed in advance of their arrival with bogus reports of widespread violence, including the completely fabricated claim by an officer that 100 of their comrades had already been killed. The General who covertly assumed command on what would come to be known as Bloody Sunday, actually instructed these terrified boys that "we want some kills."

Reading the statements of survivors and witnesses in Bloody Sunday by Don Mullan, the one thing that stands out is that the 20,000 peaceful marchers were completely bewildered by the sudden and ruthless violence, in which over a course of half an hour 13 were murdered and 13 wounded by Paras firing point blank into crowds running away in terror, as well as by soldiers performing execution style killings of others holding their hands in the air or up against the walls of Derry. Several eyewitnesses from clergy and red cross volunteers observed that the Paras were wild-eyed and laughing while they beat the heads of senior citizens and little girls with their rifle butts.

A decade earlier in Mississippi Freedom Summer, when SNCC was mobilizing black voter-registration drives, their organizers as well as local participants were regularly threatened and assaulted by the Klan and other armed, white supremacy thugs, including local and state police. Yet, as author Stokely Carmichael reported in his book Ready for Revolution, SNCC continued to hold meetings, conduct schools, and hold civil rights marches across the former Confederacy. But one difference with the human rights demonstrations against mass-incarceration in Fallujah and the civil rights marches against mass-internment in Derry that SNCC was eventually able to employ, was the use of intelligence, forewarning them of organized campaigns of terror, which in turn enabled them to post armed black army veterans around isolated black communities as a means of defense.

Today, here in the US, as another apartheid regime--empowered by the use of psychological warfare against the gullible and disgruntled--attempts to pit the privileged against the scapegoated, we would do well to remember the lessons from Ireland and Iraq, as well as Dixie, about the value of opposition research in protecting both ourselves and our movement for equality.


A Class All Their Own

Former Alabama Governor George Wallace once claimed that no one would ever out nigger him when it came to racist politics in the southern US. Of course, he wasn't counting on two blueblood, converted cracker governors by the name of Jeb and W to come along four decades later. I mean, these Yankee carpetbagger good-old-boys knew how to keep the niggers down.

Today, as 12,000 families refugeed by Hurricane Katrina face homelessness as FEMA announces their eviction from temporary housing, I have to wonder if even the segregationist governor from Selma would have been as callous toward his nigras. He'd have recognized and applauded Governor Jeb and Governor Ws clever use of Jim Crow laws, voter roll fraud, and police harassment of southern blacks to steal the White House twice, but I suspect even George Wallace would have been hard-pressed to sit by and watch thousands suffer and drown and then turn around and throw the survivers out on the street.

The Bush brothers are in a class all their own.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Messiah Complex

"A strong people's movement was in progress, the people were feeling their own strength grow. I knew how much harm could be done by interjecting the Messiah complex -- people would feel that only a particular individual could save them and would not move on their own to fight racism and exploitation."

--James Forman, former SNCC director
(objecting to King's 1961 involvement in the SNCC boycott, sit-in and voter registration drive in Albany, Ga.)

Saturday, February 11, 2006


End of the World

I remember thinking when I first read Chief Joseph's account of his tragic encounter with our culture of mechanized aggression, that it was truly the end of the world as he and his people had known it. Since then, I have had the pleasure of getting to know someone whose grandparents met Chief Joseph while growing up on the same reservation where he lived in exile.

By my calculations, my new friend's grandparents were probably the same age as Joseph's children, and hence would have possibly looked up to him as a wise and heroic leader from their then recent past. Maybe it was still too traumatic to speak of, Joseph having lost women and children of his family in desperate battles with the US Army.

Whatever the case of the actual relationship between this historic figure and my elder friend's grandparents, I find it intriguing that through living descendants we can still access vivid impressions and oral memory of a time and people who were once free beyond our imagination.

As we, too, now experience the beginning of the end of the world as we have known it, perhaps there are lessons for us in this personal record of the first inhabitants of this land. Maybe--like the progeny of these proud people--we also can learn to adapt and endure and preserve what's worth living and dying for.


Freedom First

"Reconciliation with fundamentalists and their hirelings is treason to human rights and democracy."
--Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

"A democracy that does not protect the rights of women is no democracy."
--Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning


The Specter Specter

“During my stewardship here, I’m going to put everybody under oath when we have testimony, as we do on confirmation hearings.”
--Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, April 5, 2005

“It is my judgment that it is unnecessary to swear the witness.”
--Arlen Specter, declining to put Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales under oath, Feb. 6, 2006


Betrayal of Trust

Wampum notes that while over 100 billion dollars slips out of the federal purse from the oil, gas, minerals and grazing rights of land held in trust for individual Indians, media and politicians are painting all tribes that operate regulated gaming in jump suit orange.

"There are over 560 Federally Recognized Indian Tribes surrounded by the United States. Only six hired Abramoff. The real tragedy of the whole Abramoff thing is that the tribes that didn't hire him would have done better if they had, and it isn't just the Passamaquoddies and Penobscots who are faced with implacibly hostile Democrats wedded to lotteries and various fictions why the Indians of State X have to live off of AFDC and WIC and even less."


Rights and Duties

The case of Laura Berg, a clinical nurse with the US Veterans Administration in Albuquerque, raises some poignant questions. The letter she wrote to a weekly newspaper in which she said "I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government," and continued on to say, "We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit," has gotten her accused of sedition by the VA.

Not that this case will necessarily go anywhere beyond a civil liberties case of harassment and perhaps wrongful termination should she be fired, but Ms. Berg has hit the nail on the head in terms of our constitutional protections, rights and duties as citizens. Unlike countries in which might makes right, Americans have the right and duty to oppose with all the means at their disposal an illegitimate, unlawful administration bent on usurping powers and violating rights in clear violation of the supreme law of the land.

Ms. Berg didn't make this up, she didn't recommend terrorism, she merely observed what many would prefer not to think about--that as citizens, it's up to us to oppose and not cooperate with, in any way within our abilities, a government that has for five years consistently undermined our security and well-being and functioned as the most egregious ongoing criminal enterprise our country has ever known. God bless her.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Reconciliation Impossible

"Whenever persons responsible for serious violations are neither punished nor disciplined and the impression gains credence that they are being shielded, then doubt is cast upon the democratic ideals of the state. A refusal on the part of the state to investigate and discipline serves to create ambiguity where there should be clarity, and actually encourages disrespect for the law--even tempting people to take the law into their own hands, as so many have in fact done. Furthermore, the obscuring of the truth at the highest level, or denial of what has happened, renders reconciliation virtually impossible, because it seriously limits the possibility of real communication between people as between fellow-citizens."

--Rev. Terence McCaughey, November 1996
from the foreword to Bloody Sunday by Don Mullan


Not Enough

It is not enough to advocate for sensible, compassionate public policy. Nor to pressure decision-makers. Nor to tend to the neglected. (What political researcher Paul de Armond calls the diplomacy model of engagement--or negotiation.)

What advocates and pressure groups do not do is safeguard the democratic process--on which all public policy depends--from obstruction, abuse, subversion, and manipulation. Kind of like mopping the flooded floor faster and faster instead of turning off the faucet that's overflowing.

The reason for this is obvious: putting out press releases and position papers is safely-removed from the frontlines of conflict where evil has to be confronted. That's scary. Most people won't do it. They understandably prefer anonymity, hiding behind organizational facades and activities.

Having the courage to put one's name and face and life on the line is more than we can expect--even from the pious--and is precisely why the vigilantes are able to continually disrupt the public process, derailing progressive reform time after time. That said, the voice of reason as an alternative to the voice of hate is a welcome addition to the team.


Minuteman Militia GOP Pawns

[The following letter was sent today to the Seattle Weekly.]

Set aside for the moment the pseudo-journalistic game of he said/she said reporting by such uninformative, corporate chain, daily news monopolies like the Bellingham Herald, and take an earnest look at what noted authorities on racism, politics, and hate crimes in America have to say about the Minuteman Militia. It's not hard to do these days with the Internet--even a Herald reporter or editor could do it.

Southern Poverty Law Center has a weekly online update on the GOP-choreographed immigration drama, highlighting state-by-state how Republican legislators, vigilante misfits, and right-wing media like the Herald work in tandem to create the public perception of an immigration problem so dire it justifies mobilization of untrained, unregulated, armed citizenry and vast expenditures from the public treasury to build such things as an apartheid wall on the Mexican border.

One would think that these days the notion of the GOP cooking up bogus crises for political purposes wouldn't be that difficult a concept to get one's mind around, but that's assuming the right-wing media--like the Bellingham Herald--is the least bit interested in exposing this Republican fraud for what it is, which, of course, they are not.

If this were the first time the Herald engaged in an active coverup of a GOP/militia partnership, it might be forgivable; corporate news editors aren't the brightest people in the world. Unfortunately it isn't. Ten years ago, the Herald maintained an active four-year coverup of the Building Industry Association-sponsored property-rights/militia GOP front groups to the extent of threatening two of its own reporters with dismissal if they exposed this cabal of vigilante lawlessness.

I know, I was there. And like last time, I informed the Herald editors--showed them evidence--gave them the benefit of the doubt. But unlike the last time they chose to sweep the sordid truth under the rug, this time people can find out for themselves what's really going on. They can go online to websites like Public Good Project or Center for New Community; they can check out weblogs like Orcinus; they can read SPLCs weekly update and Minuteman profiles; they can read my book Blind Spots at the Bellingham Public Library; they can read my free online memoirs.

Now that the Herald's monopoly on information has been outflanked, there's no longer any reason for the public to remain in the dark. After all, this isn't a game--real lives are at stake.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Alternative Society

When I lived on the Canadian border, I used to go to the gatherings at the Lummi Tribal Community Center for festive celebrations, and what really impressed me was how they always had ceremonies and formal gift-giving to acknowledge their people who were contributing to the tribe's well-being. You could just see the pride and gratitude in their faces.

The fact our society doesn't do that (at least not in an authentic way) is both an indictment of our culture and a signal that we of the alternative society need to take care of that. Expressing our love for each other, especially when under stress, is absolutely essential. Oddly, very few dissidents seem to comprehend that reality.


Sold their Soul

I keep returning to author Hans Magnus Enzensberger's assertion that the world is becoming quintessentially anti-social. Not just uncaring right-wing governments, hate groups, and malignant corporations, but mainstream religious institutions and liberal NGOs have also copped an attitude of neglectful self-interest.

To take just one example among the many, LULAC was recently observed in Texas turning out in solidarity with day laborers scapegoated by Minuteman vigilantes. Score one for LULAC.

But then LULAC also turns out to be a supporter of the Pentagon's fraudulent recruiting campaign that targets poor Latino immigrants for cannon fodder in America's horrid colonization of Iraq. LULAC back to zero.

I guess my instincts were right when I saw the upscale expensive signs and t-shirts LULAC sported in their moral theatrics in East Texas: these are self-aggrandizing middle-class Latinos, not field workers--and like other minorities who've sold their soul to advance economically, they regularly sell out their less fortunate own.

Must be Democrats.


More than Meets the Eye

Background on Danish intolerance:


Less Than Nothing

Steve Gilliard sums up the reaction of American blacks to being told that George Bush may have felt insulted at the King funeral:

. . . Our differences with George Bush are not trivial or based on policy. They are real and substantial. People's children are dying in Iraq, New Orleans is a wasteland, and we're supposed to be upset that he got his feelings hurt at a funeral . . .

If white commentators expect black people to react to their pained words of criticism, they are going to be sadly suprised at the indifference their complaints will meet. Black people bury their leaders how we choose fit. If Jeff Greenfield doesn't like it, well, no one asked his opinion. Was he ripping into the online racists as they mocked the dead of Katrina? Of course not.

When you have vermin like Michael Savage and Don Imus complaining, it isn't exactly going to impress most black people with their outrage. You can't ignore the slights and insults to black people in their greatest crisis since the Civil War, while the right attacked black people without pause, and then act as if you have a claim to regulate their behavior at other times.

George Bush betrayed America, especially black America with his failed response to Katrina, why should he be allowed to sit before black America and go unscolded for his failure? This is not the Minnesota Dems, we don't care about your Jedi Mind Tricks. Your opinion means less than nothing.


Solidarity Betrayed

Solidarity's Barbara Labuda worried in 1991 that the new democratic culture in Poland was being created with too few women demanding to be represented. She lobbied her Solidarity sisters to make their recent roles in the underground known, particularly the editors of the underground press, who, in her view, did not recognize women's entitlements needed to be safeguarded. Barbara alone understood that without formal recognition of women's vital roles, they would be made too politically weak to counter measures that went against their interests.

The right to abortion was banned in 1993. Spearheaded by the Catholic Church, "Men were retaliating to win back their lost powers," said Slawomira Wakzewska. "Both the Church and Solidarity betrayed us," noted Wanda Nowicka. "Abortion was being used as a bargaining chip traded away by liberals," observed Malgorzata Fuszara.

[One of the many lessons to be found in Solidarity's Secret by Shana Penn.]

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Supreme Injustice

"Fighting for the rights of citizenship requires patience, realism, and consistency. We must look for ways to develop civil society and not just undertake actions simply in order to be a nuisance to the junta."
--Adam Michnik, Solidarity, 1982 communique from prison

"Our rights as citizens were stolen on December 12, 2000. We must prepare for the long fight to win them back."
--Aurelious Pericles O'Neal, report from tyranny


Our Job

Finding ourselves in the perplexing position of living in a tyranny without an organized opposition or social support system for activist scholars, I was contemplating what common theme might unite the various elements of genuine dissent in the US.

No More Secrets--No More Lies, I think, conveys the most popular sentiment of disgust with media, big business, and politicians representing both wings of the corporate state party. Perhaps it might be worth working on disseminating that theme before civic demoralization sinks any lower.

Ultimately, we will, I suspect, be able to link up anti-war people like Cindy Sheehan with anti-corruption whistleblowers like Sibel Edmonds, as well as with moral authorities beyond the ever-stalwart Quakers, in order to fix in the public mind the idea of a united opposition. Presently, the big vacuum is a readily-identifiable religious leader or group of clergy willing to make public appearances alongside our obscured public heroes.

Another facet of the missing visible leadership are individuals who can speak with credibility in representing the increasingly scapegoated Blacks, Latinos, and American Indians. People like Tex Hall and Hank Adams come to mind, but they aren't yet known outside Indian country.

Our job for now would seem to be to create the circumstances and atmosphere of defiant resistance to tyranny across the social spectrum that will allow authentic leadership to emerge in unity.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006



In the run-up to the Iraq war a study of NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS newscasts over a fortnight recorded 393 interviews on the conflict, of which only three reported the anti-war movement.


Cultural Creatives

I've written frequently about how communication underpins social action, citing examples from various human and civil rights movements around the world, but something I haven't written much on is how these varied forms of social organization supported the people who provided the information, analysis, and guidance on which their struggles depended.

Taking one example--Polish Solidarity--during its brief existence as a legal entity, the membership paid dues that in turn were used to buy equipment, food, medicine, and legal assistance, as well as to pay salaries to its writers, organizers, printers, and distributors. When Solidarity went underground after martial law was declared in 1981, funds were continually collected and donated through the pre-existing networks in order to continue providing a livelihood for the people and their families who kept the movement alive for eight more years through domestic publishing and international communications.

The United States is not Poland, of course, but as I've observed repeatedly to my activist scholar readers, authentic civic leadership arises spontaneously, and if American philanthropies (and citizens) were serious about democracy, they would get money into the hands of those researchers, educators, organizers, and thinkers who are already doing the heavy-lifting, rather than limiting their grantmaking and donations to non-profit institutions.

Institutions, by definition, resist change. Those who are leading the battles in the War of Ideas on which civic engagement depends are by nature not institutional creatures. They are the cultural creatives that society exploits.


Magic Imperial Power


Monday, February 06, 2006


Accentuate the Positive

Some of our weblog colleagues might have failed to notice that over the last three years we have broken the news monopoly and credibility of corporate media, as well as breached the control of information by secretive government agencies. Indeed, we have layed the groundwork for a democratic communication system based on exposing their lies and telling the truth. Hardly an achievement to belittle.


Time for End Times to End

The apocalyptic coalition crafted by the Bush Administration:


Fighting Fascism in America

Thanks to Arvin Hill for this tip:


Learn to Fly

Like many young people who came of age between the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 and the Kent State Massacre in 1970, I found solace and comfort in the music emanating from the UK and San Francisco Bay. The lyrics and rhythms that came forth in abundance to accompany the social revolution for peace and freedom also, as it happened, engendered in my pubescent mind an appreciation for a strikingly mature poetry.

Amongst all the marvelous music created in that era of mental liberation, perhaps the most thought-provoking for my still-formative mind was the output of the Beatles, featuring such beautiful and philosophical recordings as Blackbird, In My Life, and Eleanor Rigby. For all the lonely people in the world, their songs are still a haven of joy and hope and reflection on what's really important. Listen in at the link below.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Magical Thinking

In a recent encounter with a former hippie-era resident of the Marin Headlands here on the north side of the Golden Gate, she inquired if they still called it Magic Marin. I replied that I'd never heard the term, but that it was still a magical place of old-growth pine and redwood forests overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and that we, as relatively new residents, find the trout streams and general abundance of wildlife a special blessing considering we live a mere 14 miles from San Francisco.

Which got me to thinking about a more recent form of magical thinking without the ingestion of entheogens that seems to have taken hold among otherwise sane people. And that is the notion of free-market environmentalism (an oxymoron if ever I've heard one) espoused by former liberals attracted to the monetary payoff of Republican values who have difficulty coming to grips with the real world consequences of such policy under the dubiously lucid administrations of Reagan, Bush, and Bush.

Seeing how this absurd concept is promulgated by almost normal people as well as the morons in the White House and criminals in industries that gave us such free-market marvels as Love Canal and Three Mile Island, I can only assume that this delusional phenomena is some form of perverted magical thinking along the lines of trickle-down economics and faith-based public health. I mean, looking at the evidence all around us of the ravages of the market, where the sacred is extinguished and the wild commodified by commerce run amok, how can anyone in their right mind still believe such nonsense?

Alas, when one has locked into a mindset of denial--especially while filling one's pockets with ill-gotten gains--I guess one can fall for just about anything. Fortunately for us here in this relatively benign environment, the awe and mystery of life--even without psychoactive assistance--still holds something magical in store.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Anna and Rosa

"Ms. magazine's 1984 commentary likened [Solidarity organizer] Anna's situation to that of Rosa Parks, the U.S. civil rights activist, and drew parallels between the two of them from the perspective of the political silencing of women. ...Both Lech Walesa and Martin Luther King Jr. were awarded Nobel Peace Prizes, while the women credited with catalyzing the events that led to that prize faded into semioblivion...

The Rosa Parks who refused to relinquish her bus seat to a white man is envisioned as a lonely old woman who, one day in 1955, was just too darned tired to obey the Jim Crow laws. But the woman the bus driver arrested was actually only forty-two years of age, and she had been energetically organizing antiracism groups for more than a decade. ...After her release, at a celebration at the church where Martin Luther King Jr. presided, Rosa Parks joined the black community's ministers on stage...But she was not invited to speak....

For both Rosa Parks and Anna Walentynowicz, one stereotype was replaced by another when one form of oppression gave way to the next. ...In similar ways, Rosa Parks, Anna, and other Gdansk women were used for their functional and symbolic support of the struggle and then abandoned...."

--from Solidarity's Secret by Shana Penn


Weblog Learning Houses

I would expect that someday online distance-learning instructors in the free university archipelago will be understood and valued as such by philanthropies that presently limit their investments to brick-and-mortar institutions. Once they comprehend the necessity to support online learning houses such as weblogs--as an investment in ideas--the prodemocracy movement in the US could shift dramatically.

Until that synergy between research, education, organizing, and action happens, though, the right-wing will continue to roll their tanks through the streets of American public opinion with impunity.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Thank You Canada

Beyond Red-Green


Short Circuit Fix

"Subjects’ brain activity was monitored when they were asked to evaluate information that was damaging to their preferred political candidate. The areas of the brain involved with emotions and conflict resolution were busy, but not the area of the brain that deals with reasoning. Subjects were then required to come to a conclusion in regard to the damaging information. They were able to reach conclusions satisfactory to themselves by ignoring the damaging information or by putting a spin on it that allowed them to see it in a positive way.

Once partisans had come to completely biased conclusions -- essentially finding ways to ignore information that could not be rationally discounted -- not only did circuits that mediate negative emotions like sadness and disgust turn off, but subjects got a blast of activation in circuits involved in reward -- similar to what addicts receive when they get their fix, Westen explains."



Recent conversations regarding the intellectual infrastructure required to support creative, democratic change--sometimes called the prodemocracy movement--led me to try to envision new structural relationships between the four basic types of social organization (tribes, institutions, markets, networks), as well as conceive of a graphic representation of our developing networks that allegedly are transforming civil society worldwide.

For those of us no longer embedded in the tribal family form, it seems that the social circle is our core node from which we can connect through networks to other social circles, and that the plethora of affinity networks identifying with such values as universal human rights and respect for all life constitute a milieu that can penetrate, supplant, or influence the other forms in the multitude of venues and forums evolving in order to meet our needs.

The Internet has accelerated this process, but it still managed to function when 10,000 Polish activists were incarcerated overnight in December 1981, with all phone lines cut off; free press abolished; soldiers, tanks, and secret police flooding the streets. It simply went underground.


That's Our Gal

Cindy in Black

Thursday, February 02, 2006



Last summer at the Camp Casey candlelight vigil held with Iraq Veterans Against the War, Cindy Sheehan wore a t-shirt that read:
It still seems like a reasonable demand.

Not only of the White House, Congress, Pentagon, State Department, and National Security Agency, but also of American media. It's time they all stopped lying and faced the truth.

If Solidarity was the catchphrase for Polish resistance to tyranny, perhaps ours should be Veracity. More than anything else, freedom depends on it.


Underpinning of Action

"Beginning with their work at AS (Solidarity Press Agency) the women shaped illegal publishing into an instrument of civic activism. They made a point of building up their communication channels so they could be used to foster a well-informed society. They planned media strategies on the premise that knowledge is power and communication is the underpinning of action."

--from the 2005 book Solidarity's Secret by Shana Penn


Three Strikes

How functional is the American constitutional democracy?

Over the last thirty-five years, three US Presidents were re-elected after lying to Congress: one about secretly bombing two neutral countries into civil war; one about secretly selling high tech weaponry to a country holding American hostages in order to illegally divert funds to overthrowing another democratically-elected government; and one for invading two countries on deliberately-fabricated pretenses.

Only one of these Presidents was impeached.


Mouthpiece for Evil

"Just like, really, with the Voting Rights Act, Republicans have some fundamental philosophical difficulties with the whole notion of Equal Protection."
--Ben Ginsberg, RNC recount legal counsel, Bush v. Gore


Social Suicide

Privilege is a hard thing to relinquish. Like other poisonous addictions, it corrupts the soul, confuses the mind, and warps one's perspective.

Manifestations of privilege: dominion theology; racial supremacy; ethnic ascendancy--as evidenced in America, Israel, South Africa, and Northern Ireland--can become such virulent forms of social disease, that only extraordinary interventions can save the host body politic from complete annihilation.

In the United States, at present, this public health battle is consuming such vast social resources that the epidemic is already foreclosing our ability to prevent additional epidemics in the future. Malign neglect of health, education, and the welfare of the underprivileged by those infected with the virus of hate and love of power threatens our very survival as a country and species.

Acquiescing to rule by such clearly unsound minds is nothing less than suicidal.

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