Friday, August 26, 2011


Privilege and Perception

Chip Berlet runs down right-wing populism in the Tea Party ranks.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Plan Ahead

As millions of low income seniors search for affordable apartments on meager benefits, there are a few things for them to keep in mind. As we are finding out, the subsidized HUD housing for very low income seniors is inadequate, confusing, and requires a multi-year plan of attack.

Income limits, amenities, and restrictions vary from complex to complex, as well as county to county, and preferences for local applicants often apply. What this means is that the rents will vary considerably, and if you find it necessary to look in a neighboring county, chances are your name may never come up, even if you are on the waiting list. Even if all goes well, waiting lists are often three to five years.

One of the drawbacks to this system is that in most instances you cannot apply for subsidized senior housing until you are 62. If you are still working, and simply planning for retirement three or four years hence, you cannot apply if you are making a living wage. You have to wait until you either reduce your income by working part time, or retire and live in substandard conditions while you wait several years for a habitable unit to become available.

If you think that makes no sense, imagine a system where instead of having a single database -- where seniors can apply for the program, and then tough it out until something, somewhere turns up -- each apartment complex has its own application, waiting list, rules and regulations. Simply going through the exercise of visiting the dozens of complexes, reviewing their qualifications, and submitting forms, can be daunting.

If you have a dog to keep you company, you will want to make sure it's a miniature, as the few complexes that permit dogs almost without exception limit the size to 25 pounds. If you've had problems with derelict landlords, which in the case of very low income applicants is a distinct possibility, your chances are nil that you'll get through the screening process. Any problem with credit, hardly a novelty these days, is also a killer.

Of course, given the trajectory of fraud supplanting governance in the federal government, HUD subsidized housing may disappear altogether. In that case, we'll all be on the street, and everything I've shared in this post will be moot.

Until then, plan ahead, seek advice, and get on the list.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Christian Dominion

Rachel Tabachnick discusses Christian Dominion and the Uganda prototype. As a charismatic movement of world conquest founded on bigotry and murder, this form of faith professed by such notables as Sarah Palin threatens democratic aspirations worldwide. As Tabachnick notes, Uganda’s legislated death penalty for homosexuality is just the beginning.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Culture of Death

Discussion in the New York Times over uranium mining in New Mexico reveals a lot about the industry. While the market for uranium has dropped as China, Germany, and Japan reorient toward a nuclear free future, US companies plan to increase their radioactive output to meet potential demand for more nuclear weapons. To the Navajo, Hopi, and pueblos of Acoma, Laguna and Zuni, not only is this a threat to their sacred cultural continuity; it is also an insult to the suffering they have endured from the carcinogenic effects of mining uranium in their front yard.

Even when it comes to the American culture of death, everything is connected.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Doing the Numbers

The Young Turks do the numbers on nuclear meltdown in the US.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Whining as Strategy

After eight years of Bush and nearly three of Obama, one might reasonably expect professional activists and other community organizers to come up with something more effective than protests and placards. Indeed, given their ineffectiveness in altering public policy, one might think they would be inclined to reconsider the conventional strategy of whining their way to power. It has never worked before, and it isn't working now.

Yet, I watch many unions and social justice activists continually investing their time and resources in mass protests, marches, and media campaigns that are all but ignored by those who currently wield power under the globalization agenda. If anything, I expect these titans of thievery are reassured and amused by how predictable and easily controlled or manipulated these groups and events have become. It's like watching reruns of silly soap operas where B actors hit their lines and marks under the guidance of off-screen directors.

The professionalization of protest under the guiding hand of derivative philanthropy, of course, is part of the system of keeping democracy down, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to follow their lead. After all, in this fight to the death over whether we can live lives of dignity and fulfillment, or succumb to a miserable existence of impoverished expectations, we need access to more effective weapons of resistance. When we start to see strikes, blockades, sabotage and acts of civil disobedience against the power elite, we will know the whining paradigm has finally died; until then, it is all high drama.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


No Food No Shelter No Medicine

With demand at food banks in San Francisco and Marin counties up 70% since the 2008 bank bailout economic meltdown, the response by FEMA is to cut food bank funding by 40%. No, George Bush has not returned to the White House, just his policies. Of course, anyone who was paying attention five years ago -- as Obama was making his deals with Wall Street to become the next president of the US -- knew Obama's administration would further the worst attributes of both Reagan and Bush. Knowing this in advance was small consolation, as we now witness the complete collapse of our society.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Losing Control

John Robb discusses central planning and the misallocation of resources that brought down the Soviet and American empires. As Robb argues, whether controlled by a small cadre of elites in state institutions or in global markets, the continued misappropriation of public wealth for inappropriate infrastructure and projects inevitably leads to social collapse.

Under those circumstances, Robb notes in an earlier article, the only ones likely to panic are those who are losing control; in such a chaotic situation, he asserts, the least responsible or reliable are those in authority.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Greed Kills

Hope, community, life itself; greed kills them all. Riots, arson and looting are symptoms of systematic greed; so are suicides, murders and genocide. As the ranks of unemployed, homeless, and the otherwise excluded grow, self-destructive scenarios will become the norm.

In his 1994 book Civil Wars: From L.A. to Bosnia, Hans Magnus Enzensburger examined the consequences of societies built on systems that treated people as if they didn't matter. Introduce weapons and scapegoating, and pandemonium will ensue.

Gangs and police interaction are fairly predictable street drama; what we can expect as societies unravel due to the gangs on Wall Street, however, is anybody's guess. Reading Enzensburger, it isn't likely to be anything good.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


Dream Destroyed

Michael Moore reminds us how Obama's mentor Ronald Reagan, with help from the AFL-CIO, began the destruction of the American dream.

Friday, August 05, 2011


From the Ruins

Over the last five hundred years, wealthy Europeans devastated the original societies of the Americas. Of course, they had a lot of enthusiastic help from less than wealthy Europeans, but by and large they grew rich while the rest of us muddled by.

Now that they have cannibalized the system that supplanted the indigenous one, many are left wondering how we got into this mess, and how we can get out of it. The answer is simpler than it might seem.

Correcting the moral flaw that enabled such colossal theft does not require intellectual genius or vast sums; what it does require is political engagement and moral commitment. As we rebuild our society from the ruins demolished by Wall Street, Congress and the White House, we now know that moral leadership cannot be found in any of these corrupted institutions. As we fight to defeat the predatory mindset from which they operate, we will simultaneously instruct and hopefully inoculate the young against this aggressive disease.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Seeds of Hope

In hard times, it is community that sees us through. An essential but often neglected part of nurturing community, especially when things fall apart, is mentoring. In this inter-generational exchange lies the seeds of hope for a better tomorrow.

With the knowledge and understanding gained from experience and reflection, imparted to those freshly assuming social responsibilities, comes an obligation to see that participating elders are able to live a life of dignity and fulfillment. Tribes, institutions and markets routinely make use of mentoring in order to perpetuate themselves; now it is time for networks devoted to intellectual development and humanitarian ideals to make use of this human resource in a way that respects the generosity of and meets the needs of mentoring elders.

Some programs honor wisdom of the elders through exposure of their ideas or examination of their lives, but it is the working relationships between elders and young people that promises to bear fruit. Investing in this relationship with scholarships and stipends, so both may participate without undue hardship, is possibly one of the most efficient uses of scarce funds to achieve meaningful change.

Large grants to tribes and institutions are important, but small grants to mentoring programs can prove to be equally effective. When they work in tandem, the sky’s the limit.

The world’s problems may get worse before they get better, but investing in mentoring now gives us a vital chance down the road. Without it, there is no chance at all.


Calling the Shots

Cyrano's looks at the net worth and income of those who rule the United States, as well as those who work directly under them. While it is popularly known the vast concentration of wealth is in the top 1% of society, it is the top 0.1% who actually call the shots.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Lost Languages

Lost Languages looks at the challenge of Native American language revitalization.

Monday, August 01, 2011


Paddle to Swinomish

Paddle to Swinomish landed last week. In 1977, I worked as a vessel captain for New England Fish Company in La Conner, just across the channel from the Swinomish Indian Reservation. The north end of the channel leads to Anacortes and the famed San Juan Islands, the south end to the renowned Deception Pass and Strait of Juan de Fuca.

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