Saturday, March 31, 2007


Study Resources

Our colleagues at Political Research Associates have graciously chosen to give our report Research as Organizing Tool top billing. In return, we encourage our readers to browse the archives at PRA, the most comprehensive repository of information on the U.S. Political Right in the country.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Judgment and Restraint

Current conversations among frustrated opponents of corporate state politics suggest it is time to begin widespread monkeywrenching of electoral and security apparati. Others even recommend promoting hatred of the owners of plundered wealth, such as the banking, oil, and armaments industries.

To which we reply: Harness the anger, but use it intelligently.

All resistance is local. Start a group near you. Do research. Talk about what others have done--what works, what doesn't. Learn. Experiment. Have fun. Share the experience. Never utter a felony.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Coming Soon Now Showing

For readers who've yet to discover our research learning center project in the sidebar, it might interest you to know our work is already being used in courses at Annenberg School for Communication (University of Southern California), at Columbia University in New York, as well as at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (Monterey Institute of International Studies).

In order to better serve you and such prestigious institutions of higher education, we're presently in the process of building a brand new website to house our voluminous archives. While that's under construction, you might enjoy browsing some of our articles, papers, and reports now on display.

And if you have a chance, drop us a line. It's always nice to hear from our friends.


What's Up?

In 1952--the year I was born--Nelson Mandela developed a curriculum to be taught in the black townships across South Africa in order to prepare the formally uneducated for a national campaign of non-cooperation by giving them a sense of history and their place in it. The three courses were: The World We Live In; How We Are Governed; and The Need for Change.

During the 1930s, in order to inoculate Americans against the onslaught of foreign and domestic fascist rhetoric, the National League of Women Voters developed study guides and conducted adult education classes focused on understanding the art and devices of propaganda.

Is anything happening today?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


One Country Many Nations

When the British colonists were making their moves on real estate west of the Alleghenies, some Indian nations made alliances with the British crown to prevent the American renegades from this illegal annexation of their territories. Two centuries later, the Americans bestowed American citizenship on all the indigenous nations in part as recognition of their contributions in World War One. Nowdays, one of these aboriginal nations that opposed the Americans who were violating British treaties, issues their own passports to visit Canadian relatives as well as for travel around the world. Another autochthonous people on the Mexican border, crosses regularly through US Customs without passports to visit relatives there.

Still, despite this well-documented history of layers of identity--from bedrock nations to the shifting sands of states--many Americans fail to appreciate the dignity afforded these nations by maintenance of their pre-contact cultures and their pre-constitutional systems of governance. As guardians of ancient, authentic philosophies, the fact they haven't abandoned this obligation for a perhaps less-demanding way of life should give us pause to think about what constitutes a nation, a state, a country, or a people.

Is it possibly more than a flag, a name, or a mythology?


Pen Pals

Four of my closest co-bloggers retired since New Year's: two disappeared, one came back reincarnated, and another returned temporarily but promised to maintain archives under her url. A fifth walked out two years ago, but left his blog intact as a reference resource.

For our friends and colleagues we've enjoyed collaborating with in creating new social narratives over the last several years, please accept our thanks for your contributions, and if possible, maintain your fine work for others to use down the road. If nothing else, cut a CD of the material as a contingency plan.

Karena--It's been good knowing you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Something to be Proud Of

One of the aspects of civil resistance versus social reform in the US is distinguished by the mechanisms of resource acquisition available to these very different concepts of our present political situation. The well-established institution of social reform has at its disposal the conventional philanthropic architecture ranging from foundation grants to bake sales, while civil resistance is funded for the most part out of the pockets of those who are doing the work pro bono.

While there are many more marked distinctions between reform as a career and activism as a duty, what segregates the two most clearly is the worldview of their respective followers and participants. Reformers view amelioration as the best we can hope for (thus carefully refraining from disturbing existing hierarchies and relationships), and for this they are amply rewarded; those who see committed resistance to these injustices as our only hope are not.

Were we to muster even a fraction of the riches lavished on the compliant, our capacity to influence discourse and defiance in our country would be strengthened enormously. For those with skills in the fields of finance, this is an opportunity for them to achieve something they can share with their grandchildren as lessons in civics and humanities--something to be proud of.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Just Say No

As it turns out, there was a memorable N30 long before the one in Seattle 1999. On 30 November 1943, 300 SS detachments attempted to arrest all male students at Oslo University to ship to a camp in Germany and on to the Russian front as conscripted soldiers. Forewarned by the resistance, some ten thousand students in the region fled to the woods and mountains where they survived in makeshift shelters until they could be smuggled into Sweden and trained as police for the post-occupation reconstruction of Norwegian sovereignty.

While their refusal to fight for fascists was distinct from the present situation in the US, it was not entirely dissimilar from the current campaign to remove military recruiters and JROTC from public schools as part of the overall movement against militarism in America---it's just that the imperial forces in Norway were foreign, as opposed to domestic here.

Had it not been for the prescient, organized efforts earlier by teachers, clergy, and parents against mandatory national youth service, these thousands who later participated in Norwegian liberation would have been sacrificed against the Allies. Allowing our young today to be used in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity is nothing short of unconscionable.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Learning from Experience

The Bush/Cheney regime---built on the foundation laid during the Reagan/Bush criminal enterprise---is perhaps neither totalitarian nor maniacal, yet certainly anti-democratic and delusional. As the logical outcome of the progression of lawless anomie constructed by a transformed American conservatism, the inevitable future impact it will have on our youth, if we fail them now, is something I shudder to consider.

To their credit, numerous individuals within the ranks of whistleblowers, teachers, veterans, attorneys, nurses, and families (directly affected by the policies and actions of the illicit power now occupying the White House) have spoken up, organized themselves, conducted protests, and mounted legal challenges to the consolidation of criminality in the highest levels of our federal government. Now, I submit, it is time for these disparate groups to jointly convene a group or task force to explore ways and means of halting our social demise.

To our good fortune, we have several examples from our European relations who endured social collapse, rose to resist fascist imperatives, organized and rebuilt more egalitarian societies---a task that requires exemplary leadership, coordinated efforts, opportunities for participation, as well as economic support. Can we learn from their experience?

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Sacrifice Solidarity Support

As an associate scholar of the premier indigenous think tank serving the Fourth World, I had occasion recently to observe that bias against think tanks in general -- possibly because many of them are funded by and for either protecting the privileges of inheritors of unearned wealth or for promoting anti-democratic doctrine -- is nevertheless akin to failing to appreciate the value of gathering intelligence or coordinating collection and distribution of information in warfare—-an extremely short-sighted and self-defeating prejudice.

If we are to do battle effectively within the ideoscape, we need more think tanks –- albeit reoriented –- to shore up our capacity to organize as well as our will to resist. Otherwise, we cede the field of engagement to provocateurs, poseurs, and media pundits—-not an encouraging scenario.

Not that our readers themselves fall into the traps of anti-intellectualism, but it nonetheless is hardly a phenomenon exclusive to the right-wing. Progressive arrogance and ignorance are at least as damaging to our society.

It might help to think beyond institutionalized concentrations of scholars to the networked variety of think tank exemplified by the Public Good Project. And even as a brick-and-mortar institution of research and education, CWIS is extensively involved in such scholarly networks spanning the boundaries of indigenous and settler societies, states and nations, as well as throughout both traditional and modern cultures.

Intelligence over emotion.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Churchill Cheney Chalabi

Is lesser evil less evil? Harpers' Ken Silverstein explains how the Democrats are helping Bush and Big Oil get everything they want. Meet the woman who helped make it all happen.


Where's the Money?

My significant other cornered me in bed this morning with the question, "How come there was a budget surplus under Clinton and now there's no money left?"

"The short answer," I said, "is looting."

To which she replied, "I think Clinton balanced the budget with the Indian Trust Funds stolen by the Department of Interior."

"Not that simple," I countered. "Interior distributes funds from appropriations and royalties; Mineral Leasing collects the oil, coal, and gas revenues. If Mineral Leasing fails to detect under-reporting by energy companies, fails to collect royalties owed the federal treasury and Indian beneficiaries, or colludes in fraud perpetrated by said companies, then Interior has a hard time deciphering the debt."

"However," I went on, "if Interior is in on the deal, and given the propensity to appoint energy company personnel to head Interior that's not unlikely, then it's not an understatement to say the stolen Indian money was used to finance the Republican Party as laundered through oil companies operating on Indian and federal lands."

"I say they're all crooks, Democrats and Republicans," she avowed.

"Perhaps," I answered, "but that doesn't explain why we went from a huge surplus to a huge deficit. That took some doing, we're talking about a lot of money--enough to provide free health care, higher education, and public transit to every American. War profiteering ate up some of that, but the looting hardly stopped there."

"What you really have to look at," I went on, " is the level of criminality tolerated by or engaged in by one administration versus another to get a grasp of how the enormous revenue generated from payroll deductions comprises a surplus or deficit in relation to Congressional budgets. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is probably the only reliable information coming out of Washington at any given time. I'd start there."

"But didn't Clinton allow Interior to cheat the Indians, too?" she inquired.

"Every president allowed the Indians to be cheated," I remarked. "But equivocation only obscures the answer to your original question. Clinton was no saint, but he did reverse some of the tax giveaways to the wealthy under Reagan. Then Bush Junior gave it back. It's a matter of proportion; Clinton knew better than to kill the goose, Bush doesn't care."

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Home Front

When the Nazis marched into Oslo in April 1940 on the heels of the Blitzkrieg that knocked out all major communication, transportation, and defense infrastructure, the Norwegian people knew they were in trouble. And while resistance to the conquerors and collaborators was initially haphazard, the volunteers of what became the Home Front committed themselves to what they realized was going to be a long process of liberation through combined efforts of civil and military organizations.

When the fascists returned to power in Washington with the 12/12/2000 imprimatur of the U.S. Supreme Court, many Americans likewise knew they were in trouble, and, like the Norwegians, realized the process of liberation was going to take a long time. Perhaps, though, because of the media-induced subversion of the American public mind and the collusion of national political leadership that legitimized the occupation of the seats of power in the American capitol by a government of traitors, the process of liberation has itself been subverted less by bewilderment than by a failure of imagination.

As Tore Gjelsvik observed in his book Norwegian Resistance 1940-1945, "The occupation did not only call forth self-sacrifice and patriotism; it was also fertile soil for egotism and greed for gain." Leaders like Norwegian Supreme Court Chief Justice Paal Berg--similar to American whistleblowers Sibel Edmonds and Ambassador Joseph Wilson--gave his nation a dawning self-respect, but the war of liberation was won by a combined will to resist sustained by professors and students, shipowners and sailors, connected through an underground press and maintained by funds raised to help those keeping the front line intact.

Morale in Norway was strengthened by, "hindering fraternisation with the enemy and isolating him and his Norwegian henchmen." Loyal Norwegians wore the Norwegian King's emblem 'H7'; perhaps instead of '9/11' emblems, Americans should display '12/12' insignias, and never hesitate to explain its meaning.

As Gjelsvik recalls, "We had lost our capacity for further military resistance...but the struggle against the political pressure and against a subversion of the mind had to be taken up at once, or else the basis for other forms of resistance at a later period would crumble away." If we wish to remove the occupying power in our country, patriotic American opinion makers, likewise, will need to encourage and sustain authentic resistance---not profit-seeking poseurs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Presentation Matters

George Seldes, the legendary investigative journalist and publisher of In Fact, is often remembered for his admonition to, "Tell the truth and run." Probably good advice for someone as courageous in exposing official corruption as he was, but hardly adequate for derailing the present corporate fascism he forecast fifty years ago.

For those now engaged with the battle in the ideoscape of modern conflict, a new book from an unexpected source might be helpful. In Trial Ad Notes--a weblog published by reference librarian Mary Whisner at Gallagher Law Library, University of Washington--Facts Can't Speak for Themselves by Eric Oliver is currently touted as a resource in creating persuasive narrative.

"A fascinating book on how to present information."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Competing Narratives

In late October 1999---after four months touring in Europe---we were about to head down the coast in our van to San Francisco, when a friend mentioned in passing that we were going to miss the WTO protest in Seattle a month later. Anxious to get underway prior to potential snowfall, we took the ferry off Whidbey Island to the Olympic Peninsula, and were on our way down US 101, stopping briefly to see our cousin in Arcata who at the time worked for an attorney representing Earth First clients involved in efforts to protect old-growth redwoods.

Moseying on down to warmer climes, we arrived in time for Thanksgiving with friends in the Bay Area. One week later, November 30, all hell broke loose in Seattle. Glued to our computer and the Indy Media Center live reports, we followed the Battle in Seattle through the then relatively limited independent sources available. Later, we learned our cousin was part of the legal support team for the protestors manhandled by Seattle police.

In early 2000, our friend Paul de Armond--a freelance journalist--wrote what was to be the most incisive and cited account of the conflict, Netwar in the Emerald City. Yesterday, I stumbled on a paper published by the University of Southern California titled Storytelling and Globalization: The Complex Narratives of Netwar that cites Paul's article in a case study of how the various participants in Seattle's N30 competed for world attention.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Hearts of Darkness

I had forgotten that 210 of the 504 civilians murdered at My Lai on this date in 1968 were children under the age of twelve. For those who find the lessons still relevant, the BBC has special coverage of the massacre available online. Thanks to Woods Lot for rooting out this information.


A Human State

Harpers' Augustus Norton explains Hezbollah's status in Lebanon a result of providing a social safety net. Creating a "human state" within a failed state serves as an example of how to obtain political power and influence.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


This Land

Wampum has the story on the Department of Interior coverup of the missing Indian Trust Fund documents. As it turns out, there's every possibility that the 200 billion dollar defrauding of American Indians by oil, coal, and gas companies is just the tip of the iceberg. With the energy companies' books themselves as the only backup data on destroyed or missing documents at Interior, the White House and Department of Justice interference with Congressional testimony on the matter now makes sense.

How much did they steal from other federally-administered leases? Enough to suborn testimony? Obstruct justice? Risk contempt of court, RICO, or impeachment charges?

Silly me--they'd kill for that kind of dough.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Pornography of Violence

In The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency Professor Mahmood Mamdani of Columbia University addresses what he calls "the pornography of violence" as conducted by Western human rights organizations that require a simple moral world of evil perpetrators and innocent victims in order to justify so-called humanitarian military interventions by big powers and their proteges who can in turn pursue victory with impunity.

Using the demonizing of Darfur campaign as an example, Mamdani observes that solidarity with the indigenous parties pursuing a negotiated settlement for power-sharing is what human rights groups should be supporting, not military intervention that will drag the Sudanese civil war into the Global War on Terror.

Noting that proxy military intervention by the US in both Rwanda and the Congo had the effect of escalating conflict and bloodshed, not diminishing it, Mamdani asserts the civilising missions carried out with US arms are no substitute for political negotiations. Unfortunately, credulous peace poseurs are consistently misled by military promoters and propagandists.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Point of Defiance

Building on earlier success at the Port of Olympia, Veterans for Peace affinity groups were recently arrested while preventing equipment for escalation of the Iraq War from being loaded at the Port of Tacoma. While most war protestors are still morally unready for forceful confrontation with state authority, a growing support of civil disobedience amongst the Quaker/Unitarian/Catholic Worker confluence provides the underpinnings for an escalating campaign of defiance.


Critical Juncture

Perhaps it’s a holdover from 1950s Westerns where Indians were savages that had to be killed in order for the settlers to turn the wilderness into a garden. Then again, maybe it’s a more recent form of bigotry mobilized by resentment of the freedom and leisure enjoyed by pre-industrial, indigenous societies. Whatever the source of the ludicrous notion that traditional, indigenous peoples today cannot also be modern and cosmopolitan, the end result of perpetuating such nonsense is to undermine meaningful truth and reconciliation between indigenous and settler societies at a juncture where the very future of mankind depends on it.

Back in the 1960s, one of the leading intellects of the indigenous resurgence in North America, Hank Adams, risked his life to preserve Bureau of Indian Affairs records he foresaw as vital to this eventual making amends. At the forefront of what was to become the American Indian Movement, Hank was shunned by leading liberal religious organizations looking to capitalize on the misery of Indians much like they had on southern Blacks. To our chagrin, the suit-and-tie clad Hank was cast aside in favor of more noble-looking Indians in buckskins.

Forty years later, we still seem to be fighting the Indian or indigenous wars. Liberals and conservatives alike continue to perpetuate the myth of civilized, white superiority—especially when asserting a benevolent, cosmopolitan posture--an inevitable consequence, I suppose, of the vast changes now being forced on us all by the blind ambition and arrogant ignorance of manifest destiny. So sad that the only excuse some can come up with is that we had to destroy the world in order to save it from savages


States of Infamy

What do the states of Poland, Romania, Great Britain, Sweden, Austria, and Italy have in common? They all helped the CIA abduct prisoners of war to be tortured at secret camps around the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Larger Solidarities

As both Gerry Adams and Nelson Mandela will tell you, democracy is a discursive process where everyone must be listened to; anything less is simply rule by repression. If our governance structures (such as majority rule) don’t allow for consensual participation by all citizens, then they must be abandoned for a system that does.

Confederated regions with aboriginal autonomies is not a new concept or practice on this continent, nor are subsidiarities in land use, education, or economic development. Because some federal obligations remain even with devolution of some powers to more appropriate, even localized levels, is no reason to abandon our attention to preparing for self-determination. Creating authentic, democratic architecture and infrastructure while subverting empire opens up opportunities for literally anyone who wants to be involved.

Perhaps we should concern ourselves with exhibiting behavior that young people would be proud to emulate; if nothing else, we will at least retain the sense of dignity required for furtherance of humanity after the fall. If that means creating new conventions borrowed from other cultures and traditions, then so be it; we have the cultural diversity to accomplish that. Making the connections to achieve this task is the only justification I can see for investing our time in online discussions---at some point we must experiment for ourselves. Family, clan and tribe are nurseries for larger solidarities.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Making Adversity Your Friend

Our colleague at Umea University Sweden has put together some rockin' against war YouTubes to accompany the oral section of her course in Communication for Social Change.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Obstructing Justice

The Gonzales Eight, as the New York Times calls the U.S. Attorneys arbitrarily fired by the Department of Justice, is ironically comprised of two Independents and six Republicans, including John McKay, who was targeted by the Building Industry Association of Washington for refusing to open a politically-based investigation of the Democrats.

What a contrast with former U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson, who resigned rather than obstruct justice for President Nixon. Now days, the Attorney General fires people for not committing crimes.


Two Different Worlds

Sondos El-Farra sees the land of her grandfathers for the first time as Dr. Mona El-Faraa describes their recent passages through the tube and over the river on their way from Gaza to Dublin.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Out of Control

The corrosive effect of recruiting criminals, mercenaries, and torturers as CIA contract operatives extends well beyond the impact of any single incident...From a strictly practical point of view, these networks of [compromised] contract agents provide a relatively easy means to penetrate U.S. espionage operations--through blackmail.

--Christopher Simpson, Blowback, 1988

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Rise of Extremism

One of the contributions to the rise of extremism in the US that usually goes unnoted in evaluations of the American conservative movement since World War II, is the influence of illegal diversions of funds from the CIA to domestic right-wing political groups organized to influence Congress and public opinion through lobbying, publication, and news media. Especially active in such campaigns as Crusade for Freedom in the early 1950s, organizations then led by fascist emigres smuggled into the country for clandestine operations in support of the Cold War, laid the foundation for anti-democratic activism that continues to this day.

The irony of the US government sponsoring thousands of former Holocaust death squad participants from Eastern Europe for citizenship in order to exploit them in spying on Americans, creating propaganda for a warfare state, and in carrying out assassinations of foreign leaders, is only surpassed by the stupidity of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations that allowed them to do it.

In a sense more dangerous to our safety and well-being than the notorious military industrial complex, the clandestine operations of our national security complex undermine the very institutions we rely on for our liberty. The fact that this nefarious phenomenon began with perhaps good intentions to safeguard us from threatening ideas should teach us something about placing our trust in secret government.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Let the Chips Fall

For ten years now, my colleagues and I have maintained silence on one specific example of showboat non-profits that hoard philanthropic resources at the expense of authentic community activism, as well as to the detriment of the human rights movement in the United States. With Harper's expose last week of Southern Poverty Law Center's resting on its laurels while rolling in dough, I figured it was time to let the chips fall where they may.

Back in the mid 1990s--when violent militias were running amok robbing banks, assaulting human rights activists, and bombing federal buildings--our national volunteer investigative research network was busy getting the goods on ringleaders that were later used in indictments to put them behind bars. Our volunteers gathered this information at personal risk to life and limb, so when SPLC initiated a campaign to grandstand on the seizure of the Aryan Nations campground through a lawsuit they filed, we had an uncomfortable feeling they were out to take credit for much more than they deserved.

As it turned out, we were right. SPLCs enormous marketing machine soon had the philanthropic world (and the public) thinking the militia movement (including Aryan Nations) was history due to SPLCs brilliant legal maneuvering. Unfortunately, what became history was the largest grassroots human rights organization in the country (Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity), painstakingly built by Bill Wassmuth and Eric Ward.

At the time, I felt misgivings about SPLCs obscene ten million dollar bank account, but was reluctant to speak publicly given their important civil rights litigation. Now that SPLC is worth over $100 million, I think we can safely say its priorities are skewed. Given that this blood money was garnered by killing off what SPLC apparently perceived as competition from pro-democracy volunteers, I'd go so far as to say Southern Poverty Law Center has become a net liability to the human rights movement.

As a lesson in politics, the SPLC fiasco might serve to enlighten us about celebrity activism, and the ignominous result of excluding public participation from the public's business by a philanthropic culture of elitist professionalism. As a lesson in humanities, it should serve to distinguish between investing in a social movement based on ideas, and a pseudo movement based on the cult of personalities. With the return of the militias, both our liberty and our lives are at stake.


Power of Words

Harper's reviews poetry from Guantanamo, written by detainees from behind the wire--a new collection that has (so far) escaped censorship by the Pentagon.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Crying Wolf

While much was made of the bogus intelligence used to justify destroying Iraq, little attention has been paid to the intelligence bureaucracy that depends for its livelihood on crying wolf.

As author Christopher Simpson documents in his book Blowback, the CIA--since its inception under President Truman--has deliberately falsified reports of threats to America and its allies in order to bolster its budgets as well as enhance its prestige relative to the Pentagon or Department of State. Wild exagerrations and fantasies fabricated by former top-level Nazi war criminals--then on the CIA payroll--ensured American policy during the Cold War was driven more by fear than fact.

The practice of using phony intelligence--then and now--serves to prop up a bloated military budget that keeps the war industry fat at the expense of our health, education, and social security. Millions of innocents have died in this game, thousands of them Americans.

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