Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Non Partisan Support

There aren't a whole lot of places where George Bush and I agree but I am with him one hundred percent on this ban on animal- human hybrids. Quite frankly, I was a little surprised to hear about it in the State of the Union speech. But he was right to bring it up.There has not been nearly enough discussion on the tricky ethical issues involved when you start talking about sheep/boys. Or lizard /people.

Monday, January 30, 2006

George Ringo

Pope John Paul II , soon to be Saint John, may have had trouble with the zyglot issue and man love but he had a clear vision of economic justice: "ethics demands that systems be attuned to the needs of man..if globalization is ruled merely by the laws of the market applied to suit the powerful, the consequences cannot but be negative."

Here is Evo Morales,the new president of Bolivia on the same theme: "We face the task of ending selfishness and individualism, and creating..other forms of living based on solidarity and mutual aid.We must think of how to re-distribute the wealth that is concentrated among few hands."

The good Pope then contended the world is "witnessing the resurgence of a certain capitalist neoliberalism which subordinates the human person to blind market forces...as a result the wealthy grow ever wealthier while the poor grow poorer."

Morales seems to share insights: "When we speak of "the defense of humanity",I think that this only happens by eliminating neoliberalism and imperialism." I think Jesus concentrated on this theme as well, though we don't hear much about "the eye of the needle" from the Christian Right or their Supreme Crusader In Chief.

I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his hand frankly

And for the cruel person who tears
the heart with which I live
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns;
I cultivate a white rose
Jose Marti

Engaged Buddhists

In a post a couple of days ago I wrote of my experience marching in protest with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and my disappointment at their unwillingness to join 'en mass'.Then I saw this today in Turning Wheel; the journal of socially engaged Buddhism:

"In a period of five days in Washington DC (Sept.22-26) BPF helped to organize the Buddhist Peace Delegation,"a sangha of compassion -based activists who joined their voices with hundreds of thousands of people to call for an end to the war in Iraq."Get this:"..on Monday we formed a Buddhist Peace Affinity Group that took part in the largest display of civil disobedience held at the White House in more than twenty years.Three hundred and seventy people were arrested, including twelve from our group.." These are true agitators who put me to shame. Right on.

On the next page is a letter to President Bush: "In the Dhammapada the Buddha taught 'Hatred is never appeased through hatred'..In the Gospel of Saint Mathew, Jesus said: "Love your enemies.." We believe we can create a world free from poverty ,disease and war.But not if we are driven by habits of celf-centeredness,greed, national pride, and intolerance."

They still believe he is listening but Im convinced he is a very ill man.Self-centered? check out neo-neocon.blogspot.Greed? Exxon/mobile just reported 36.7 billion dollars in record profits.National pride ,intolerance? Head back to neo.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Spectacular Spectacular

Did I really see this? Did anybody else? Either I need to cut down on the absinthe or President Bush replied to Bob Sheifers ( Face The Nation) question about the sacrifices of being President by answering "I can't walk into a Walmart... but the food is pretty good". And then CBS went directly to a Walmart ad. Did that happen? Was that the greatest 'product placement' ever?

A fishing client who is a close personal friend of GWs told me a long time ago that he wished I could just meet the man, that I would like him face to face. I might have liked Goebbels face to face. It is a non-point but the fact is I believe in my heart that he is an alcholic who has fallen off the wagon, is in deep personal turmoil and mentally unfit to run the most powerful country in history. He could not make sentences, was having even more trouble than usual expressing himself, was forcing the little chuckles and having trouble with his eyes. Unlike Bill Frist, who came on a little while later , he cannot even lie well. One blogger made the point that part of her support for him hinges on the fact that he is married to Laura. Bush made a long point about Laura still loving him. If he collapses it will get even wierder, if that is possible.

I came upon Bolivar, one long morning
in Madrid, at the entrance to the Fifth Regiment.
Father, I said to him, are you ,or are you not, or who are you?
And, looking at the Mountain Barrack, he said:
'I awake every hundred years when the people awake.'

from A Song For Bolivar by Pablo Neruda

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Fouler Apposition

Congressman Connie Mack (Fla-14) has much the same view on Venezuelan sovereignty as Adolf Hitler had on Polands, and is using much the same tactic to achieve his goals. In passing an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act in July he declared "the United States has sent a message that we will not turn a blind eye as Hugo Chavez continues to snuff out freedom and hijack Venezuela from it's citizens." The Fuhrer roused the Germans with tales of Poles raping and killing young fraulines. Herr Mack continued "Chavez is the enemy of freedom... and a threat to the United States." Sound familiar? Bush? Osama bin Laden ring any bells? The unprincipled principles used for his overt imperialist aggression include creation of a'Venezuelan security Zone " to isolate Chavez and promotion of ,this is good, you'll like this,"free markets,privitization" and playing old Reagan speeches, Fox news and Limbaugh Radio. Makes our Sen. Conrad Burns seem like a MENSA candidate.

Last time I was in Florida thousands of jack-booted Darth Vader looking cops beat down a crowd of peaceful protesters with clubs, gas and rubber bullets. I like the late John Fowles take on the place: We drove to Miami Beach,where a monstrous regiment of huge hotels stand whitely against the stale Carribean.To see the size and vulgarity of these establishments is the only reason to go to the place;they are so vile, so nightmarish,so (alas) American,that they cannot be missed.In a way it is a city of the dead- all the people there are old,uninspired industrial debris. In the lifts the women of fifty and sixty stand like cattle. One has to push them aside to get out. They drift round the lounges like somnabulists, from meal to meal, from room to room, bound, chained to a moronic routine in a moronic world. In a way it is a European city, a monument to the dream of countless generations of underpriveledged peasants. They dreamt of an aristocratic city like Venice ,perhaps; and they translated it, when they had the chance ,into Miami. Jud's current director calls it "the painted toenail of America." But it needs some fouler apposition: the unwiped anus.All that is worst in the country pours through it and stands to be seen."

They are rejoicing the release of a known terrorist in Miami today,Louis Posada Carrilles,who blew up a Cuban airliner with over a hundred innocent civilians aboard. To Connie Mack he's probably a 'freedom fighter". Mack righteously guards the anus.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Mind/ Body

For the February 2000 demonstration in Washington DC ( the worlds failed attempt to stop a war before it starts) ,my wife and I had decided to walk with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship delegation, a group of twelve or fifteen mindful souls in the midst of several hundred thousand highly agitated protesters. Concurrent with the anti-war demonstration that day there was also a pro-Palestinian rally in the Mall and the combined energy was intense. We bounced back and forth between the Peace folks and the Palestinians until it was time for the march down to the capitol, at which point we hooked back up with the Buddhists, grabbed our signs, and began to meld into the throng. We had decided beforehand to do a walking meditation, focusing on engagement without anger or ill will and so we would stick together, stay cool, and work towards a little enlightened peace making.

Which was all well and good until we reached a point where the entire pro-Palestinian faction, with their colorful clothes and militant slogans began to merge with the peace folks. The atmoshere buzzed and crackled with the directed energy, and suddenly the Buddhists decided to split off from the crowd and walk separately. I’m fine with hanging with Buddhists but I definitely wanted to also be with the People, my people, fired up, mobilized,agitated people. My wife, who has a much deeper practice than I, felt the same way,though she is a little more intimidated by the intensity of mass gatherings. We like the drums and chants and costumes and signs, the beautiful and powerful theatre of it all, and I appreciated the power we represented as an organized opposition. I could understand the meditators desire for a less passionately electrified atmosphere but at the same time felt their calming presence would be a welcome force within the group and that they should integrate and meld rather than set themselves apart.

Being engaged and mindful in this often chaotic melee we call modern civilization is a delicate,even intricate balancing act. The degree of injustice combined with the increased sense of urgency means less space for the deliberative, contemplative approach desirable in ideal situations. Times shape tactics, and the luxury of personal spiritual fulfillment is weighed against the brutal reality of death and hunger and blood and suffering. It would be nice to change the consciousness of the planet one meditation at a time. But sometimes you have to take to the streets.

"..the experts decided,in the interests of public safety, that they must have a powerful standing army, consisting mostly of veterens- for they put so little faith in raw recruits they deliberately start wars to give their soldiers practice, and make them cut throats 'just to keep their hands in',as Sallust rather nicely puts it."
Thomas More Utopia

Reflections on a Coup

In the early hours of Friday, April 12, 2002 , President Hugo Chavez was taken from the Miraflores palace to an undisclosed location by leaders of the Venezuelan military working in conjunction with the civilian leaders of the political opposition. He had not resigned.

Members of the ancien r'egime as well as past supporters of Chavez who felt his reforms had gone to far included Generals, the rich and powerful media moguls, the Catholic hierarchy ( aren't they supposed to help the poor?), ( little dig there Eric) an alliance of union leaders and business leaders (what's up with that?) and political parties representing middle and upper classes. Covert support came from the CIA and US State Dept. and their various front groups.

The treason within the upper ranks of the military can be explained many ways, a natural conservatism related to class and status, greed, true concern. The history of Latin America overflows with such generals. The wealthy media owners and other industry elite are also pretty easy to figure out, more greed. Chavez proposed spreading Venezuela's wealth to the lower rungs of society in defiance of US imposed neo-liberal development strategy. The motives of the Church I will leave for others to parse, the union primarily represented workers in the petroleum industry, the top paying jobs in the industrial sector, typically upper middle class, in an unholy alliance with business leaders who dreamed of privatizing the industry and raking in huge profits. So once again ,greed. The person chosen to head the new, illegal government was also the president of the business leaders association. The old political parties, greed. The US, greed and ideology, hate to see the commies and the dominoe theory and terrorists blah blah.

What I love about this scenario is how it cuts to the chase. Unlike here in the US where conservatives and liberals go through all this crap about their "philosophy"or their "morals" or God or gays or guns in Venezuela they are honest enough to admit what it's really about,MONEY. The newspapers and TV and radio don't put on this big charade about "news" or information or public service like they do here, they come right out and say they are propogandists for MONEY. The union doesn't put on some "progressive" front like they do here (the ex AFL-CIO, through a front org.ACLIS, helped fund the coup) but admits its partnership with the bosses is because they get more MONEY. Business leaders need no further explanation for their motives. MONEY. In the US they whine about "rights"and talk about "globalization" and family values and patriotism and all kind of crap to get the serfs to support their owners but it's about money and money is power.Straight up. Untill the People rise up.

This is the other thing I like about this coup story. It failed. The people came down from the shanty towns and the slums and filled the streets, holding copies of the constitution. All that money meant nothing and The Rich people were very ,very afraid. The soldiers rejected the generals and turned against the coup plotters. A new union formed which represented the mass of workers. The media spews it's lies but only the elite sit and watch it. The poor people are to busy being educated and learning new skills and forming co-operatives and re-claiming property and factories. Start a movement like that here and they will derisively call you a populist or say you are advocating class warfare.
That is exactly what I am talking about.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Truth or Consequences

I think it must be emphasized that not only our actions but our beliefs have real consequences, actual objective effects on the world and those who inhabit it. To often people hold some opinion or belief or express a view without regard to those effects. Ideas are not harmless.

For instance, if you were one of the many supporters of the US war in Viet Nam you are to a degree responsible for the death and suffering of literaly millions of human beings. Without your support, whether outwardly displayed or through quiet complicity, the US administrations who prosecuted that conflict could not have maintained their position for as long as they did. I am talking about real blood on real hands. Not the theoretical, easily explained away kind, but the sticky red life sustaining kind which spilled so freely. Conservatives and some liberals still defend that senseless slaughter because they have never felt the warm sticky blood on their hands, have never confronted the mountain of mangled bodies in their dreams as they should. Each year they should cover the Viet Nam Memorial in DC with blood and have all the "war supporters" gather to scrub it off.

With your support for the current war on Iraq you assume ownership of its consequences as well. They are limbless, or eyeless or buried deep in the ground because of you, not because of George Bush or Donald Rumsfeld or some other Figure Of Blame. Those children of the future maimed by live ordinance or depleted uranium or a fanatics crossfire are your children. Without your support none of it could happen and with that responsibility is attached consequenses.That goes for Clinton and Kerry as well as Condi and Rove and Kissinger and Mc Namara.

I will even suggest there is something uniquely American about this. The ability to will away responsibility is evidenced in the lack of any attitude within the Grand National Narrative to compare with the guilt of the "good German" for example. Genocide of the indigenous peoples was a few out of control prospectors or pioneers. Slavery was a few greedy plantation owners. Annexation of Mexico was manifest destiny. Even mentioning Howard Zinns Peoples History will end most dinner party conversations.

53 year old Peter de Mott, himself a Viet Nam vet ( I can only speculate that he may have his share of horrible dreams) was sentenced to four months in prison for an act of civil disobedience protesting the war in Iraq. Dan Burns, another protester, was given a six month sentence for throwing the red sticky stuff in the courtroom, for trying to help people see beyond the theoretical, intellectual aspect of being a citizen, to the actual manifestation of their ideas and myths.
Meanwhile, the soldier who killed an Iraqi general through torture during an interrogation was charged with a misdemeanor and released. His sentence will be the dreams for the rest of his life.

Obscure qoute of the day: "If money... comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek, capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt." Marx

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Smear

For a great example of the pap that enervates the dialogue over at neoneocon or other conglomerates of confusion you need to tune into the Today show every once in a while. This morning we are treated to an interview of Bill O Riley . With a completely straight face Matt Lauer asks him questions on current political trends and issues so we presumably can learn Bills opinions. That was most informative and so then we go to the story of the dead,rich groom on the cruiseship, seems there was some wild party, sex, beautiful passed out babe, I didn't really get it all but then we are on to the feel-good story about some photo album found in the debri of the hurricane blah blah. Tommorro Katie will interview Regis and Kelly on US foreign policy.

And so having recieved the official news for the day from the "liberal media" America can head off to work knowing they will have something to contribute around the watercooler when the conversation turns to dead honeymooners. As it inevitably must.

Oh Canada! When the world stops making any sense it is time to lurch to the Right, as it did through the last long, dark century. Just please, leave a few steelhead in the Kispiox.

To tell about a drunken muzhik's beating his wife is incomparably harder than to compose a whole tract about the "woman question." - Ivan Turgenev

Monday, January 23, 2006

Calm Down

There are some upset conservatives out there who think Harry Belafonte is over the top ( see standingupfornothing.blogspot) for his "Bush is a terrorist" comments. They want us radicals to moderate our speech and thought, to adopt a certain tone , a more acceptable tone. Calm down and have some Soma, some prozac, some ritalin, some scotch, anything to dull the outrage. Unless, of course you are Rush, or Hannity or O Riley or Robertson.

Their hero of hypocricy, Ronald Reagan, ( anyone remember Iran-contra?) formed an organization called the National Endowment for Democracy, a private ,non-profit which advertises itself as independent and non-partisan. Trace it's funding, directors and supporters and you find a covert arm of US foreign policy, doing what they claim they do not and what they accuse others of so readily, interfering in the internal affairs of others. A good source is "A Faustian Bargain" by William Robinson. "Democratizing the planet"means creating conditions conducive to US global capital penetration and their fingerprints (the ones the CIA were unable to wipe off) can be found in US adventures in Latin America such as the ouster of the Sandinistas, the ouster of Allende, not-so-nice activities in Guatemala and El Salvador, the attempted ouster of Chavez, all democratically elected officials of a certain ideological persuasion. They are also involved in the "colored revolutions" of ex-soviet eastern european states which were all the rage amongst conservatives not so long ago. Mark R Beissinger describes much of this recent activity in the winter DISSENT article ,"Promoting Democracy. Kyrgyzstan( Tulip), Ukrain (orange), Georgia (rose) are all on the "doubtful" list when it comes to the "long term stability of democratic change". You can throw Serbia in there as well, and then there is the reactionary backlash in Belarus, Russia and Turkmenistan and Uzbeckistan caused at least in part by US meddling. It turns out there is more to creating democratic revolutions and democracies in general than just giving them a covert."little extra shove". I havent even mentioned that othe , more current project, Iraq.

The place to start forming a democracy would be here in the United States. We will have to start from scratch and it will take some work but it will be worth it. And being timid and polite and mincing words will not get it done. Go Harry!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Albeit Grim Joke

I like this Lewis Lapham, writing essays in Harpers Notebook. Check it out: “…the de facto American empire presuming to teach, rule, enlighten, and administer a world that it knows almost nothing about.
A wonderful, albeit grim joke, consistent with the explanation given by the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard for the American assault on Baghdad: ‘What we want is to put the rest of the world on the same level of masquerade and parody that we are on, to put the rest of the world into simulation, so all the world becomes total artifice and then we are all powerful. It’s a game.”

What a great word, albeit. This German had a similar take: “But for the present age , which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, appearance to essence…truth is considered profane and only illusion is sacred.” That’s old Fuerbach.

And of course, what would a spiel on the nature of reality be without a little Debord: “The Spectacle appears at once as society itself ,as part of society ,and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is that sector where all attention, all consciousness, converges. Being isolated- and precisely for this reason- this sector is the locus of illusion and false consciousness; the unity it imposes is merely the official language of generalized separation.”

Lapham again on cost-conscious Republicans and conscience stricken Democrats attempting to bail upon realizing the movie is not turning out the way they thought: “On their better days they can remember that Iraq is a faraway Arab country famous for its mosques and palm trees, but when asked why Baghdad is burning, or how it has come to pass that 2,096 American soldiers are no longer reporting for work on what in the winter of 2003 was imagined as a movie set, they become anxious and forgetful. Last fall’s sudden rise in newly discovered cases of amnesia coincided with the seasons news reports about the Bush administration’s having set up the invasion of Iraq behind a screen of flag waving lies- the CIA misinforming the Pentagon, the Pentagon falsifying its dispatches to the State Department, the White House gulling the Congress, Congress running a shell game on itself.”

It is not obligatory for a generation to have great men. - Jose'Ortega y Gasset

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Harp, Harp, Harp

This is a common theme of mine but I will harp yet again, its my blog. What is the best way to neutralize activists? Overwhelm them. Sunday night was a local meeting of the Human Rights Alliance. They have several issues on their plate, child and spouse abuse in the polygamist community north of here ( you don’t have a polygamist community near you?) , the local city councilor who was ousted in a right wing coup de etat, homeless and hungry people, attack of the religious right on gay issues etc..the list goes on. I ran into a comrade there who would like some help getting military recruiters away from kids who are not interested in our public schools. Monday night its on to meet with a group forming to stop the development of Big –Box stores in our community, primarily Wal Mart. Sounds simple enough. Tonight ,Tuesday, its into town for a meeting on ways to end the exclusive Coca Cola contract at our university until Coke rectifies human rights abuses. We’ve tried petitions, demonstrations, letters but need new ideas.Im thinking hunger strike. Wednesday another trip into Missoula for some discussion on how to raise awareness about movements for change in Latin America, Thursday a meeting of Trout Unlimited on how to have unlimited trout (utopian but beautiful) and Friday possibly another committee meeting where we will choose some local issue that is short term and “winnable”. My choice is the minimum wage hike but I don’t see much support. Saturday I will end all war and on the seventh day I will rest.

You might say,what neutralize, it sounds like you are tackling lots of issues. The point is, this is but a partial list, a random sample, and there are a hundred more where those came from ,just waiting in the wings. All symptoms of the same disease. We treat the fever but leave the infection. Unfortunatly, putting out all these brushfires, to change metaphores, leaves us exhausted, broke, dispirited. Burned out. Nuetralized.( not me yet, but many others)

I suggested at last nights meeting that for a direct action to be meaningful or effective, there had to be a moral equivalance between the injustice we were protesting, in this case the murder of labor rights leaders, and the action being proposed. I thought we needed an action with consequences such as civil disobedience or hunger strike, some disruption. It didnt seem to go over real well. MLK and others showed that people will be shamed and motivated to action by a display of committment, many were beat and jailed. some were killed.They didnt sign petitions or write their congressman or smash windows.

"the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice" MLK

Monday, January 16, 2006

Another Holiday

The workers get a day off. The MKL Memorial is in financial trouble, the kids squabbling over whether they ought to sell the buildings and collection to the government. The irony is piercing that keeping the legacy of a true revolutionary alive could be compromised because of lack of money. King thought long and hard about lack of money.

"These are revolutionary times; all over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression.The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before.We in the West must support these revolutions"

Looking through the magazine rack on Friday I found the cover article in Foreign Policy Magazine interesting."How Chavez is Refashioning Dictatorship" by a fellow named Javier Corrales whose only credential is associate professor of government at Amherst. I can speculate that he lost out when the US backed coup against Chavez failed. He makes broad ,unsubstantiated claims, using the word authoritarian three times in his opening. He claims "a Chavez -controlled election body ensures that voting irregularities committed by the state are overlooked." and says this of the international election monitoring that endorsed the election as fair. "Ease with which international observers condoned the Electoral councils flimsy audit of results".Javier is a sore loser who gets a nine page article in a major periodical and who would prefer the Supreme Court decide elections like it does here.. He ominously claims the opposition is being targeted "by compiling and posting on the Internet lists of voters". I can get lists of US voters on the Internet, as can anyone .So what? This is a good one "Chavez has failed to improve any meaningful measure of poverty,education or equity". Big Lie. This is an interesting argument. He claims because Chavez is giving more wealth to his supporters (80% come from the poorest segment of society) he is fueling "polarization". The logic is he should be giving equally to the rich. Or like Bush, give it all to the rich. His biggest complaint is that "more than 2.7 million new voters have been registered in less than two years."This he calls "gaming the system".

The article is trash but is joined by one in the Jan issue of The National Interest (Kissinger is a Chairman)with dire warnings and one in the recent Foreign Affairs Magazine called "Is America Losing LatinAmerica?" You probably didn't realize it was our property in the first place but these intellectuals and academics sure consider it that. I'll bet they are none to thrilled that socialist Michelle Bachellet won the presidency in Chile with a strong majority. She was imprisoned and tortured by Kissingers close associate Pinochet.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

New Water

It is a natural impulse for the angler to adopt a reach near to where he lives that is readily accessible and which he can call his “home water”. This section of river or stream he can learn intimately and develop a detailed enough knowledge so that a reasonable degree of confidence can be assumed. This involves learning the particular lies of the fish, the rhythm of the insect hatches, and the seasonable water conditions. It also may involve learning the patterns of fellow anglers so that he may avoid them and gain some measure of solitude, which is such an important aspect of fishing local. Familiar surroundings, familiar fish and proven tactics all have a comforting, reassuring quality but like so much in life this familiarity can also breed complacency. It can be relaxing but does not provide much opportunity for growth.
I know anglers and guides who never stray beyond a few well known miles of stream and while this type of focus may increase the chances for success, I personally would find the boredom excruciating and the lack of challenge completely at odds with what I consider to be the main satisfaction in angling ,which is to acquire new skill or knowledge. I admit that the bulk of my own guiding work is on about eighty miles of river which I have seen plenty over the last twenty years, but I try to leave these confines as often as possible. It is also a fact that the particular river I work on is actually several rivers, each totally separate and unique and which one I am on is totally dependent on water flow levels. In the spring my river can run as high as twelve thousand cubic feet per second and by late August have dropped to less than two hundred. It goes from a torrent to a trickle and I have actually fished it both higher and lower. For my own angling pleasure, I travel each summer to other bodies of water that are either totally new or still extremely challenging for one reason or another.
I was thinking of this same approach to experience as I came across an interesting essay on traveling over at phronesisaical.blogspot the other day. There truly seems to be a divide between those who seek new direct experience and those who feel no need as well as a divide that differentiates the meaning of such “new” or “borderless” movement.Some feel pleasure is a good enough reason to go somewhere, others look for something deeper. Then there is the whole other universe of inner as juxtaposed with outer experience. (an angler can spend a whole lot of time thinking about things other than fish as he is fishing) I’m not sure just what it is I’m angling for here but I can’t wait to learn some new water.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wild Wild West

Meet Rep.Tom Tancredo of Colorados’ sixth district, a wealthy white Denver suburb where plenty of right –wing supporter Jeff Coors’ watered down,tasteless, ale gets quaffed. One of the new breed of Republican fascists he has built a lucrative career out of anti-immigrant hate mongering. A loose ideology built around the “clash of civilizations”,the evils of multi-culturalism, nativism ,militia supporting xenophobia makes him a brown shirt to take seriously.Elevated for a while to regional director of the Dept. of Education by William Bennett (that paragon of conservative virtue), he used his position to promote a “Christian educational system”.

Heading due west we find ourselves in Utah. Unless there is some way to avoid it. Home of Orrin Hatch and the Mormon Church, the theaters in Salt Lake have reacted to popular pressure and cancelled the showing of Brokeback Mountain. The moral indoctrination they prefer was deciphered by their very own prophet who was given some tablets by God that said he could “marry” all the (very) young gals he put his eye on..Then the tablets disappeared. Also the tablets said only white people were Gods chosen. You get the picture but if you need more read Under the Banner of Heaven.

North of there you get into the famous potato state of Idaho, home of the Aryan Nation and Sen Larry Craig. Go north and head a little east and your in Dick and Lynn Cheney territory of Wyoming. That’s all I need to say about Wyoming. Up here in Montana we got soon to be indicted Conrad Burns who refers to Arabs as “ragheads” and who, when asked what it was like living in DC with so many blacks, replied “it’s tough”.The Curly to his Moe is Rep. Dennis Rehberg who panders to the survivalist /anti-government/ militia crowd. Yippe Yi Yoh Ki Yay.

"The Negro revolt is evolving into more than a quest for de-segregation and equality.It is a challenge to a system that has created miracles of production and technology to create justice. If humanism is locked outside of the system, Negroes will have revealed it's inner core of despotism and a far greater struggle for liberation will unfold." Martin Luther King Jr. 1967

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Read All About It

The headline I would love to wake up to: Iraq Accepts Cheap Oil From Chavez Government

Unfortunately, contracts for Iraqs oil are being drawn up as you read this by Paul Wolfowitz (remember him?)on his new desk over at the World Bank. It took him a little while , but he finally realized how much simpler it is to invade and occupy a country by working with the IMF. In an earlier post I described watching Richard Perle stare straight into the camera on CNN and smirk at those who naively think the invasion of Iraq had anything to do with oil. Noam Chomsky asks whether we would have bothered them if their main export was pickles?

In Latin America, energy corporations of the past have always threatened to cut investments when tax on their profits were raised. This time around their bluff is being called by Chavez, Morales and others who are forming an effective Bloc. My prediction is if Toledo government in Peru signs a trade deal with US outside of Mercosur, we will wake up to another great headline in April: Another Leftist,Ollanta Humalla, Wins Election!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Burning DownThe House

The Sunday Pundits were noticably struggling to define just what it was Jack Abramoff had done so wrong. It appears to be a question of over-zealousnous, in other words ,he broke the unspoken rule that one does not work the system TO hard . They could hardly hide the smirks when they attempted to seem outraged that someone would BUY FAVORS! Who are we trying to kid? So Jacks crime is a matter of degrees, of flaunting, of going to far and risking exposing the system of patronage and favors we cynically still call democracy.It is the crassness of that "new money" crowd which most irritates. Shame on him.

I guess my next question is how is Abramoff different from the AIPAC lobby which annually arranges for 3 to 4 BILLION dollars of aid to that starving, third world country of Israel? More aid than all the sub-Saharan countries put together get. They make Jack look like a ghetto pimp.

Next question: When the editors of Foreign Policy Magazine accuse Hugo Chavez of "meddling in the internal politics of his neighbors" ( Jan/ Feb. 2006 "Hugo Boss:How Chavez is Refashioning Dictatorship for a Democratic Age ) do they mean like pre-emptively invading another country and installing a government and economic policies and setting up permanent military bases? That kind of meddling? And this dictatorship thing, is that like where you spy on your own citizens and hustle them off to secret camps to be tortured and get chosen by a court to lead rather than by voters? Isnt a dictatorship where you embed government paid "reporters" in the media and stifle dissent and place yourself above the law and constitution and appoint political supporters to key ministerial posts?

While we are on my favorite subject ( disclosure: I am a big fan of the Bolivarian Revolution and in fact am heading to Venezuela in four weeks ) it seems Venezuela offered cheap fuel through its CITGO distributor to the city of Chicago, which is struggling to maintain its public transportation costs. Rather than accept this Pinko ( and dictator)(see above) tainted cheap fuel the city is going to raise fares , affecting primarily the low income and minority population which depends on this service. Better Dead Than Red.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Your Town, My Town

On a fishing trip to a little island in the Bahamas a few years back I spent a few evenings in a little tavern drinking Kliks (the local brew) and shooting pool with the bonefish guides and lobster fishermen. The owners wife was tending bar and in the course of our conversation she revealed she had been the first black child to integrate the Georgia school system and pulled out a scrap book with newspaper clippings and photos of a young, pigtailed girl approaching a school surrounded by police, making their way through a crowd of angry whites. She said she still had vivid memories of that day so many years ago.

Where does the process of school de-segregation stand in America today? Largely abandoned and forgotten it turns out. From the old integration warrior Johnothan Kozol we learn in a Dec.19 Nation article that “ The desegregation of black students, which increased continuously from the 1950s to the late 1980s, has receded to levels not seen in three decades.” Basically, “ American schools are twelve years into the process of continuous re- segregation” says Gary Olfield and his colleagues at the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, despite the overwhelming evidence that children from integrated schools are far more successful in further education and work.. Remember this and the black prison population and poverty rate on Martin Luther King Day.

Just as in the environmental movement ,where early gains are unsustainable and the global picture grows grimmer by the day, or the peace movement where each decade brings a new conflict to protest, the gains of the civil rights movement are also being erased by the pernicious onslaught of conservatism and capitalism. Treating the symptoms without identifying the disease is an exercise in futility with endless compromise and rear guard action.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Why

How come the Jihadists don't attack Latin America? Don't they hate them for their freedom? The "War on Terror" which is also at the same time The War on Iraq and its own separate entity is the insane manifestation of an epoch of obfuscation, an era that makes Alices' Wonderland look like the model of rationality. For the sake of clarity it would help if we remember all wars are class wars in the final analysis, even those imbued with religious overtones. This will upset anyone who happens to read this ( an unlikely event): The Jihadists are fighting in part against injustice. To a certain degree they, like everyone involved in conflicts everywhere, are fighting for their share of rights, wealth and power.Their analysis of the causes of this injustice, their prescriptions for it's remedy and their tactics for struggle are totally irrational and counterproductive and no one with a sense of morality could support them but it is as easy to understand why they do what they do as it is to understand imperial ambitions. Three wars are being fought at the same time involving three different groups with overlapping and countervailing purposes with ethnic, religious, cultural and above all economic roots. Both historical and current forces, capitalism, chauvinism, racism,and religious fundamentalism to name just four, make the conflicts in the Middle East a black hole of reasonableness but using the frame of struggles for justice we can discern outlines of rationality.
Simply thinking it is a one dimensional conflict is simply to simple.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Finally Famous

Our redneck Senator, Conrad Burns, is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Known primarily for getting absolutley nothing of importance accomplished, he tops off an otherwise lackluster career with an indictment for bribery.(my prediction for the month) He could have done just fine as a boot licking yes man (worked for him for two terms) but then he gets greedy, story as old as the bible. Western politicians epitomize the farce we call American democracy, Larry Craig, Orrin Hatch, Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens, all represent the corporations that got them elected and hopefully they all went golfing with Abramof. And if Marc Racicot ends up in this web of shit I will know there is a God.

Talkshow liberals today were upset about Murthas' comment that he would not, were he younger, join the current military. Brushing up their armor and medals they were afraid of looking like pussies. One guy said comments like that were getting just a little to far to the"left"for him. Progressive, liberal, democrat, whatever, he just wanted to be a good American. I can just barely keep from throwing my hammer. To far to the left. Meanwhile, a few thousand miles south of this frozen, political wasteland "numerous televised open table discussions are being held on what socialism means for Venezuela."

Monday, January 02, 2006

Ring them Bells

More and more the social movements of Latin America are becoming part of the conversation here in the land of political stagnation. (US) An article in the new Smithsonian, one in the Economist, an editorial here, a column in the Times or Globe there. People start asking who is this Morales, this Chavez? What are these factory occupations ? Commandante Marcos is on tour in Mexico, promoting a new vision and a rejection of the old politics of compromise and appeasment. A new socialist movement builds power in Chile andUruguay, there are rumblings in Brazil and Argentina.In Nicaragua, Columbia, El Salvador , workers, farmers, and indigenous peoples are rejecting the status qou and the imposed structures. For the first time in decades Cuban revolutionaries have reason to hope and european leftists can feel a slight breeze at their back.

While we keep pressure on our government to be responsive to the needs of the people, end the war, move away from fossil fuels, help the poor etc..we also must now organize to do away with this unrepresentative system of government altogether and the powerful interests it is designed to preserve. We need to do away with the unjust system of production and allocation which this government enforces.That means agitation at all levels, open resistance and rallies,protests, demonstrations and strikes. That means pamphlets, speeches, plays and art which helps express the depth of our dissatisfaction. Anything that allows people to experience solidarity in opposition to established order forms an opening for radical conciousness and creates new space. Any pressure we can apply here, no matter how marginal it at first appears, diverts energy from the ruling class to suppress the movements of our comrades south of our border and this is how we can best help.

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point ,however, is to change it." Karl Marx