Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Dystopian Vision

Matthew Skomarovsky reviews the 30-year history of bipartisan efforts to steal Social Security benefits from working Americans, and showcases Obama's dream team for making Reagan's dystopian vision reality.


Body and Soul

In his forthcoming PBS special on Martin Luther King, Tavis Smiley exposes Barack Obama as not only an impostor, but as emblematic of the violent empire that King opposed body and soul.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Conflicts of Interest and Greed

Pablo Eisenberg looks at conflicts of interest and greed Inside Higher Ed.


Rastaman Vibrations

When the going gets weird, we find it's best to report the facts and leave speculation for another time. Saturday, the going got weird: our x landlady, now upstairs squatter, took in a Rastaman, apparently for the purpose of counseling. (Regular readers might recall her earlier fascinations with Lyndon LaRouche, chem-trails, and the Illuminati.)

In order to appreciate the significance of such a development, one needs context. Mill Valley is an upscale San Francisco bedroom community of white money managers, Mayan nannies and gardeners, and quite a few artistic types. Maybe ten black people out of a population of 12,000. Rastafarian population, now, one.

As a so far three-day live-in counselor, Rastaman performs light housekeeping duties, coupled with intensive late-night advice sessions for our soon-to-be-removed xl Ursula McComas, white, age mid-70s. Where this might lead we have no idea, but it certainly merits mention in the now tiresome saga.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Defending Aboriginal Title

Coastal First Nations, a partnership of indigenous communities in British Columbia, takes a collaborative and strategic approach to defending aboriginal title and resources in their traditional territories.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


High Hypocrisy

We at Skookum especially appreciate high irony, such as President Obama lecturing President Karzai about rampant corruption. After robbing us blind with the bailout for his banker buddies, listening to Barack pontificate to other perpetrators of high crimes more than passes muster for our high hypocrisy award.


Uzbek Special

Ken Silverstein looks at doing business in Uzbekistan.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


D-Day at OK Corral

Well, it's D-Day at the OK Corral, and as drop-dead hour approaches (process server/Notice to Vacate), we're wondering whether our now X Landlady will opt for a Waco, a Ruby Ridge, or a Jonestown--screaming to the end something about allodial title, the House of Windsor, and sovereign citizenship. Still at a standoff, we suspect the duly appointed agents for the new owner of the 2 unit residence will soon put an end to that. As neutral observers of the last exit for Ursula McComas -- Larouchian, chem-trail tracker, Illuminati expert -- we don't know what to expect next.



Newspapers do have a legitimate, important role, Desmond. We cannot take them lightly.

If you say so, sir. I know that's the standard wisdom for senior officers.

--Gospel by Bill James

Friday, March 26, 2010


Wranglers Roundup

Alan Smithee rounds up the usual suspects.


Token Tokes

Charles Oxtrot discusses legalizing marijuana.



Jonathan Versen discusses the charades of thuggery.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Killing for Sport

Charles Davis discusses Liberals with Guns.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Breaching the Ramparts

Indigenous survivors of Catholic residential schools in Canada to confront Pope at the Vatican on Easter Sunday.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Avoiding the Kool-Aid

While the Futuristas are ecstatic over health care reform, one should studiously avoid drinking their kool-aid. As "the strategy center for the progressive movement", the Futuristas play a role similar to that of Kucinich: talk tough, then cave and promote phony reform. It's what keeps those foundation checks rolling in. Sadly, I only became aware of the Futuristas through one of their rising stars, Sara Robinson, who double sadly gained fame and fortune by becoming David Neiwert's sidekick.


Ending the Empire

As military families and veterans mobilize to end the American empire, we thought it might be timely to revisit A Moral Imperative.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Stupid People Do Stupid Things

Readers might recall that in the last installment of the loopy landlady series, I noted our now ex-landlady, Ursula McComas, was attempting to defraud us by claiming she still owned the house, forgetting that only a couple weeks previous I had asked her when she was moving. Now that the bank has foreclosed and likely begun preparing for her eviction, Ms. McComas has become especially rude, although that might be hard to distinguish from her longstanding MO.

To wit, yesterday, after returning from walking our dog, her boyfriend Brian Keels shut off the electricity to our unit. When I inquired what was up, Ms. McComas came downstairs to our unit and began haranguing me in my doorway. Naturally, I told her to fuck off and shut my door. After I turned our power back on, she phoned the police. To her chagrin, the patrol officer told her she cannot shot off our utilities.

Stupid people do stupid things.


Disrupting the Status Quo

Civil disobedience, sabotage, armed rebellion--these are some of the ways of disrupting the status quo. All revolutions require it. Without it, there would not have been a United States of America, a Civil Rights Movement, an end to Apartheid in South Africa, or a soon-to-be reunified Ireland.

Sunday, March 21, 2010



Reviving Our Culture, Mapping Our Future, a film about a gathering of indigenous leaders from South Africa, Russia, and the Amazon, offers a road map for restitution.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Cochabamba Climate Conference

Bolivia to host peoples’ climate talks April 19-22 in Cochabamba.



Stop Me does the numbers on medical insurance profiteering under Obama letter of marque.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Berkeley Students Divest

Berkeley student senate votes in favor of UC divestment in US companies supporting the Israeli military.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Coming Together

I was just reading a casual exchange between some British and Portuguese bloggers, and they mentioned how every town and village in their respective countries has citizen's advice centres, where for free people can get help in dealing with government agencies, utilities providers, landlords, and other aspects of life. All done by volunteers with special expertise, this civil society institution seems to fit well with what I've been yammering about here.

They were surprised that I had to ask them what an advice center was.

Working together, or in Irish, meitheal, is something rarely seen in the US. We compete rather than cooperate. We consume rather than create. We exclude rather than include others.

Some of us, though, realize this is not something that can long continue. Indeed, things are rapidly falling apart.

For myself, finding inspiration and guidance among the peoples indigenous to this continent, as well as in the sacred traditions of indigenous diaspora, is both a challenge and obligation. In these reflections, I hope what you find here will help you in making a connection to something authentic and engaging.

Disheartening as our absence of communal relations is in America, it does help to explain our persistent affection toward institutions, as well as our attachment to their recognition and acknowledgment in validating our self-worth--indeed, in bestowing on us the right to exist.

Unhealthy as this institutionalized relationship is for us, both individually and socially, it is understandable; institutions--for better or for worse--are presently the only enduring loci of collective memories for our rootless society, disconnected from the land and lives that surround us. Until we construct more functional alternatives, institutions--despite their repeated betrayals and systematic exploitation of every aspect of our daily lives--will maintain their grasp on our lonely psyches in this perverted exchange for a sense of belonging.

If communication in its myriad forms of expression is what comprises a culture, then the particular architecture or design of communicating is what determines that culture's level of human consciousness. An emphasis on beauty in art, song, dance, and storytelling will produce a very different consciousness than one inclined toward ugliness.

It almost seems trite to say so, but when one's primary input is from mass media, it's hard to imagine a beautiful mind.

I have often marveled at writers who could create beautiful stories from adversity--powerful works of art exhibiting the dignity of creativity under duress. I have also often wondered if guardians of this sacred space, those who protect it from wrathful oblivion, can ever fully enter it without the sense of an outsider observing from a nearby plateau. I suspect the protectors would do well to accept their fate, taking satisfaction in the space created for art, and knowing the artists and their work.

As a guardian, I can see the beauty in the choreography and narrative of creating this space, yet fail to see how to express this other than in the acts of doing so. Some are more gifted than I.

As Carlos Fuentes notes in A New Time for Mexico, “Exclusionary modernity, drawn from Western models, banishes all that it does not understand. Inclusive modernity understands, especially after the Chiapas rebellion, that there are many ways of being "modern," of being contemporaneous with one's own values.”

Yet, the patterns and relationships that emerge from collaborations in protecting sacred space reflect a harmonious arrangement of vital if not visible dimensions. Depending on awareness, this visibility of the symbiotic relation between useful art and its protectors can be preserved in archival creations often unimagined outside sacred societies. Communicating this story is not easy.

As Maya Lin once remarked, “It is sometimes good to understand what's been lost, what is irrecoverable, what is valuable to us and what we would like to repair.”

One of my colleague's students asked if I found my indigenous associates to have a different philosophical perspective. I responded by noting that their cosmology and epistemology was in sharp contrast with dominant society views, and mentioned an interview with Richard Atleo they might find helpful.

Making a connection with philosophies indigenous to the landscape we inhabit could be exciting to students and others feeling adrift in the modern world. Looking at methods of curating social knowledge over long time frames gives one a sense of adaptation and evolution of such things as morality -- processes that apply to the European diaspora as well as Native Americans.

This is perhaps a way of introducing non-indigenous Americans to researching sacred dimensions of their own ancient cultures that have much in common with American Indians.

After centuries of diaspora and displacement, identities are increasingly complex. For those whose tribal identity has been extinguished -- as in most Europeans of North America -- what's left of this essential human function is often a confused mixing of inherent cultures, combined with a vague and transitory identification with place. For settler societies, states, provinces, regions, and watersheds provide a shallow-rooted attachment to landscape and sometimes historical notions of belonging, but circumstances outside our control can easily diminish these bonds.

The synthetic modern cultures that have replaced ancient, more holistic ones are thus poor substitutes for the integrated social systems that once nurtured all humanity. Finding meaningful and purposeful alternatives outside this systematized social support has been attempted many times, but absent the political autonomy required to pursue a more coherent agenda, most gains are never institutionalized.

Resistance to the prevention or destruction of a holistic identity, without an appreciation of what has been lost, is usually futile. Understanding tribal systems and the history of cultural development helps.

In the words of Bernadette Devlin, “To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Reading Irish

Some Irish authors you might not have read but should:

Thomas Flanagan

Mogue Doyle

Mary Beth Keane

Colum McCann

Peter Duffy

Brian McGilloway


Unity in Struggle

As the Obama Administration attacks public education, one has to ask, “What next?” Not in a rhetorical sense, but literally, “What essential sector will Goldman’s golden boy go after next?” His betrayal already has the nurses union in California pushing through single payer medical care legislation in the state assembly. With the massive layoffs of teachers, health and education looks like the nexus of opposition to Obama’s privatization plans.

Unity in struggle; we’re watching for emerging leaders.

Monday, March 15, 2010



In their working paper The Global Financial Crisis and the Shift to Shadow Banking, Yeva Nersisyan and L. Randall Wray argue that downsizing the financial sector is a prerequisite to saving the system. As a sector that is too complex to manage, as well as too politically powerful to regulate, the failure of the Obama Administration to downsize the publicly rescued financial sector, say the authors, means the system is doomed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Grassroots Communications

Who owns the media? Who do they answer to? What you get to see, hear, and read is determined by the answer to those questions.

--The Dominion media cooperative

Friday, March 12, 2010


Supporting Bigotry

Frederick Clarkson notes President Obama's support for religious bigotry by failing to cut off federal funding to right-wing religious organizations practicing discriminatory hiring and proselytizing in violation of U.S. civil rights law.


Nader Was Right

Charles Davis looks at the face of modern liberalism, otherwise known as pro-war progressives.

Thursday, March 11, 2010



Inevitably concurrent with the criminalization of public policy, is the delegitimization of the federal government. As state and local governments address the outfall from this criminalization, they have essentially two choices: seek the autonomy necessary to meet the needs of their constituents, or mimic the market that corrupted the system. They cannot serve two masters.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Principles of Organizing

Learning to use communications technology, while valuable, should not be overemphasized at the expense of learning the principles of organizing. While computer-based research and education has expanded our access to information, learning to evaluate information for its applicability requires greater focus. Analysis of communications in conflict, otherwise known as psychological warfare, thus serves as a prerequisite to effective engagement in netwar.

Comprehending how activism functions in this context, helps to distinguish between consciousness-raising and capacity-building. While not mutually exclusive, they are also not synonymous.

As more young people become involved in politics, they will, like us, live and learn from their mistakes. What they need to know in the digital age, is that connecting with millions through mass communication means little if the interaction fails to redistribute the power needed to socialize wealth and democratize capital ownership.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


A Socialist Republic

Americans might be able to secure socialist concessions from the two capitalist political parties, but it isn't very likely. Social Security was only garnered under the threat of mass insurrection against the capitalists that caused the Great Depression. Securing universal health care, housing vouchers, and free college education is not going to happen until we elect enough socialists to Congress.

In the meantime, withdrawing support from the capitalist parties and giving our support to socialist parties and candidates will give them the voice they need to push our two-party capitalist state toward a multi-party socialist republic.

Monday, March 08, 2010


Feinland for Senate

Marsha Feinland, U.S. Senate candidate from Berkeley, tells it like it is.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Wonders Never Cease

For those following the delinquent landlord series, we have news: our former landlady, Ursula McComas -- stock broker, mortgage broker, realtor -- is now merely our upstairs neighbor. For how long we don't know, but the foreclosure is now complete, and she is no longer the owner.

In the meantime, she seems to think that she can get her house back by filing a predatory lending complaint against the lender, neglecting the fact that she defrauded the bank to get the loan. Having stated falsely on her July 2008 loan application (First Federal loan no. 49928281) that we paid $2,300/mth rent, when in fact we paid $850/mth including utilities, you'd think she wouldn't want to open up that can of worms. But alas, when one weaves a tangled web, sometimes one forgets some of the lies one has told.

Wonders never cease.

*Update: Knowing the Deed of Trust transferring ownership to One West Bank was recorded by the Marin County Recorder on February 18, Ms. McComas (realtor license no. 00755732) nevertheless attempted on March 8 to get us to pay her rent. We notified her employer, Zip Realty, as well as the Marin Association of Realtors.
*2d update: The McComas profile link has apparently been removed from her employer's website.


Bad Company

It's real easy to get a lot of people to be involved in a community response, but it'll usually be ineffective because they don't know what they're up against. They know nothing but their own ideological stance and these fantasy pictures that they bill to the opposition. They start reacting to that fantasy and the opposition just runs right over them.

Most of the people who show up with right-wing groups are perfectly all right. They're in the process of getting bamboozled, they're running with some bad company, but they aren't any more misinformed than the rest of the country.

--Paul de Armond

Saturday, March 06, 2010


A Plan of War

When Michel Chossudovsky wrote his seminal book The Globalisation of Poverty, the dismembering of Yugoslavia was still underway. As a project of globalization, the orchestrated monetary attack on the socialist republic, that culminated in civil war, served to illustrate the fact that globalization is not just an economic model, but a plan of war. That war, which is by definition global, is quite simply the exercise of power by the financial sector in undermining the powers of the state to the benefit of the free market.

As states cede their social obligations in favor of transfers of public wealth to private accounts, all public needs suffer, and perhaps more importantly, become dependent on private rules, no matter how criminal, stingy or punitive. This, is in fact, the overriding principle of the majority of states: to succumb to the thievery of the market, and to supplant public prosperity with private poverty.

Indeed, it is the Obama Administration game plan.

Friday, March 05, 2010


Learning Curve

As students in California walked out in protest yesterday against cuts to education, the learning curve for Day of Action observers notched up a bit. As we are learning in the battle for universal health care, the right to an education is impaired not by a budget crisis, but by a corruption crisis. Were the state and especially federal governments to focus on eliminating corruption, there would be plenty of money for health and education. Letting politicians off the hook for their betrayal is not a lesson we should teach our kids; to their credit, they seem to get that.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Identity of Possession

A while back, I wrote about the fabric of identity, and if insufficiently authentic, how it can unravel. In our consumer society, identity is closely associated with possession, and as millions become dispossessed, their identity crumbles. Losing one's possessions in a culture of imbeciles (a term used here to indicate political illiteracy) can make one vulnerable to recruitment by all sorts of ideologues, and this can lead to pathological behavior. And in a state where access to quality counseling often depends on a measure of possessions, the dispossessed are adrift.

We may indeed witness a return of active domestic terrorism in the form of Christian Patriot militias, but unlike the farm crisis of the 1980s and the millenarian mania of the 1990s, this time around, the social context of economic panic and religious hysteria is more widespread. Sociopathic conduct short of murder could become the norm.

Keeping calm amid hyperventilating media and bombastic propaganda won't be easy, but then, it never is.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Life Goes On

As the Obama Administration navigates us into the new Dark Ages, it is inevitable that random adaptations will emerge. Necessity being the mother of invention, new means of survival and creativity are indeed already springing up. As of last week, a dozen states were exploring the establishment of state banks in order to protect state employee pensions and benefits from Wall Street, and several states were considering single payer health plans to guard against federal betrayal in that regard.

Admittedly, we are in for some soul-searching disruptions as millions more are laid off, foreclosed, or terminated from private health care. Yet, we aren't the first generations to encounter wide-scale government corruption and economic failure. Yes, it is systematic and global, but it isn't entirely out of our hands.

Once we free our minds from the parameters perpetuated by propaganda as news, our imaginations and actions can once again be free to initiate projects and solutions. As someone once said, things that can't go on forever don't. Life, however, does.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


War in the Andes

From 1980-2000, the government of Peru fought a civil war against indigenous guerrilla fighters in the Andes mountains. Last year, the Peruvian government fought to a standstill with the indigenous communities over the right of indigenous peoples to determine their own future under international law. The Peruvian state now plans to expedite dam and mining projects on indigenous lands using forced relocation of indigenous communities. The civil war could resume.

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