Wednesday, April 30, 2008


In my post Boots on the Ground I mentioned some U of M students who had occupied the Presidents office and were arrested. The good news is there have been articles in the local paper almost every day since, describing the process of punishment, and making the administration look like the petty tyrants that they are. The sweat shop issue has gotten amazing exposure but unfortunately the courageous students are being made examples of. In yesterdays Missoulian article , front page, the dean of students Charles Couture threatens the students with suspension as "a lesson in consequences". This little bureacrat wants to " educate them about making more adult decisions in the future" so they could " learn from their behavior". He wants to lecture them, force them to hang their heads and apologize like children, which of course none of them did.( I ran into Kendra, one of the ringleaders, last night) So they were suspended for three days, "we feel part of the maturation process is for students to be held accountable". Condescending twits, so "mature" in their display of power. They have not seen anything like the end of this. here is my letter to the editor: (thanks go to jonathan Swift)

In regard to the students who are being punished for protesting the use of sweat-shop labor in the manufacture of Griz wear, I wish to commend the University for “educating” these students on being such “good global citizens”, as described in the universities mission statement. This “lesson in consequences”, as dean Couture so eloquently puts it, teaches that a good citizen is above all obedient to those in authority and fearful that privilege will be taken away if he/she acts outside the acceptable range of behavior. After all, one may ask the powers-that-be politely for changes to policy or even cast a vote but one may never act in any disruptive manner! Because a university prepares students for life, this is a great opportunity for them to learn that just as “students are to be held accountable”, powerful institutions and their administrators can go about their business unconcerned about such niceties as human rights or social justice. Also reinforced by this “lesson” is one of society’s most cherished values, “look out for Number One”. A good consumer, mean citizen, knows that rocking the boat will only lead to punishment and the possible loss of material rewards. It is great to see all the staff and students who remain unconcerned and apathetic and who have taken these lessons to heart! This is part of “the maturation process” dean Couture so ably promotes, keep your eyes cast downwards, don’t make waves, just work, shop and shut up. Also commendable is President Dennison putting his concern for anti-trust law above any silly concern for exploited workers. This teaches students to get their priorities straight. Well done U of M!

Lost in all this is the fact that the administration will go to any length to keep it's sweat-shop suppliers in business, coming up with lame excuses or just displaying simple pig headed defiance.
"Maturation process"! I believe the president is headed for a run in with the Montana Wobblies and he can't suspend us. We aren't particularly susceptible to his criticism or worried about his authority. He will be held accountable.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Condi and Rodney Dangerfield

Neither gets any respect! Jimmy Carter talking to Hamas, Bill Richardson now talking to Chavez, while Ms. Forehead is busy cleaning out her desk and arranging a cruise on Sarkozy's yaht. The "Vulcans" have been obliterated and like Kissinger will spend their days dodging International Tribunals. The Israelis continue to expand settlements and send spies and openly mock any administration officials who suggest less beligerance. Mc Cain panders to the Bruce Willis-Clint Eastwood crowd saying he would be "Hamas's worst nightmare."

I noticed they have imposed rice rationing here in Montana while the food banks, soup kitchens and charities are stretched to the breaking point. "A hungry mob is an angry mob"as the saying goes. Certain socialist countries have had the sense to create sovereign food security to ride out these crises, Cuba , VietNam, for example. Many analysts describe the rise in food prices as a "perfect storm" to try to "naturalize" it but though drought is certainly one factor ,Market Speculators have a much larger role. If a "widget " is in short supply, speculators hoard it in an attempt to reap large profits. If the widget is food....

Paraguay has joined the Latin Pink Tide with the election of it's new populist leader and this inspiring chain of events demonstrates What Is Possible:

"Beginning on April 6 2006, with the declaration of a four day general strike,and rally for democracy, the Jan Andolan turned into a nineteen day uprising that brought over a million people into the streeets of Kathmandu and the other cities, braving tear gas, baton charges, plastic bullets ,arrests and eventually an 18 "shoot to kill curfew". The strike was soon declared indefinate and joined by shop keepers, drivers, civil servants and even bankers, the cities soon running short on food, fuel and cash."

The (Maoist) Communist party of Nepal was demanding and got an elected constituent assembly to draw up a constitution replacing the monarchy with a new republican, democratic, egalitarian, federal and secular state.

Finally, I want to urge everybody to write- in Reverand Wright for President, the only one with the courage to speak truth to power.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Radical Clerics

Religious Leaders are in the news quite a bit lately, sign of the Times? I'm not crazy about religion or leaders and the combo sounds worse than liver and dill pickles, but that's just me. A quick glance through the Missoulian, our local mouthpiece for "compassionate capitalism", gives us three articles in three pages on liver pickles. First we have Muqtada al-Sadr who is quickly becoming a household name and a bit of a thorn in the side of Empire. Remember when they would just shoot them, like Archbishop Romero? Next we have John Hagee, an associate and thorn in side of John McCain and on page three they are still "analyzing" the Reverend Wright Effect. All very entertaining.Tonight the good preacher explains himself for Bill Moyers and I hope Suzy is watching. (realistically? No Chance In Hell)

Reading Further: It seems the Chinese mouthpiece for less-compassionate capitalism, the Peoples Daily, is asking people to "cherish patriotism while expressing it in a rational way." How about the Wobbly way?: words and music Patrick Mc Guire

Tie a flag around your eyes until you cannot blink
Tie a flag around your brain until you cannot think
Tie a flag around your mouth till nothing will come out
Tie it a little tighter thats what flags are all about
All good leaders love a flag so sing a glad refrain
Theyre cheaper than machine guns, theyre easier than chains

If you keep turning the pages of this charming periodical you'll find out that in the "coal town of Beckly W Virginia Obama talked about the BALANCE between economic and environmental protection."
Not about the contradiction. That would be a no no.

Then we see Mc Cain pledging to "scrub every agency of government of wasteful expenditures and close loopholes." Original and brilliant thinking like this does he mean ending school lunches or heating assistance? He did stopovers in Selma ,Alabama and New Orleans, LA and in none of the film are there any pictures of black people. That in itself is a feat.
Speaking of Black People, and taking us full circle, we next learn that "Codoleeza Rice ridiculed al-Sadr as a man who asks his followers to fight to the death while he resides in safety in Iran." Trying to out-tough Hillary is no easy task but it can mean your own "nut-cracker" doll or vice presidency. Were al-Sadr to put on a flight suit (black,of course) and prance around on an aircraft carrier all erect, Condi would leave the bed of Hugo.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Death Mask Awards

First place goes to Yon Giocechea ,who was awarded 500,000 dollars last Thursday as the winner of the , get this, Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty! Given out by the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity (not necessarily in that order) , it acknowledged young Yon's work in fomenting the opposition to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez during the referendum elections. Why channel through the NED or USAID when you have Libertarians defending Truth, Profit and Justice?

The next award goes to Hillary Clinton for her election eve "tough talk" on Iran. Her willingness to "obliterate" an entire people , pander to the Israeli Lobby and Right Wing and do anything it takes to get the stupid old white person vote shows she is well qualified to run this corporatocracy.

Last but certainly not least, lets recognize the amazing achievements of Robert Zoellick over at the World Bank and his efforts on behalf of the "global poor". This neo-con warrior, (one of the first to sign on with the Project for a New American Century) and former Chief US Trade Representative, will now preside over the starvation of millions of dark skinned persons and massive social upheaval, unrest and violence. Ethanol, Brazillian soy, Montana wheat, free markets and a huge boom in casket futures! Nicely done! Theres plenty of rice on MY grocery stores shelves.

Speaking of Montana wheat, an honorable mention must go out to eastern Montana rancher Oscar Murray who, in order to protect his interests in Bolivia (a huge estancia) has organized his own death squads to hold off the indigenous rabble. Montanan's don't take shit from indians and they vote primarily on the "gun" issue. A well regulated militia, with modern automatic weapons, the right of the rich to bear arms... In Montana it is called "Shoot, Shovel and Shut up" !

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Boots on the Ground

Local activists are busy. Last week we (CAJA, IWW, SESJ) had two great speakers up for a panel on the disaster known as NAFTA. I'm not exactly sure what Obama was getting at when he said "bitter" people "turn against trade" but deals like the one crusaded into law by Hillary's Husband have simply served to enrich a few while impoverishing and displacing the many. Our panel guests told the audience at the well attended event that investment capital uses language like "lifting all boats" but fails to distinquish the yachts from the dingys or leaky inner tubes.

Last Wednesday saw nine students occupy the deans office at the U of M for the first time since the end of the Viet Nam War, this time demanding that the school adopt the Desinated Suppliers Program to assure it's merchandise is not made in sweat shops. These young CAJA proteges negotiated patiently with a pathetic and embarrased administration for seven hours before being arrested and we made enough noise right outside the office doors to let them know we are fighting this one to the finish. It is heartening indeed to see students rise up again and demand accountability, I wish a few more old tax payers would join them. Forty one schools have adopted this program and this one will be next. Then the Coke Contract comes up for renewal, yeehah!

Yesterday evening we hosted Maria Ruth Sanabria, a mother of six from the war torn region of Arauca, Colombia. She, along with fellow Cajista Scott Nicholson, described the human toll of ongoing US military aid to the corrupt Colombian government and how militarization and exploitation of energy resources by multi-nationals insure there can never be a peaceful settlement. Some bible toting geekster sat through the whole thing and when Maria Ruth began taking questions he gave a long sermon on how missionary friends of his claimed Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro were behind the violence. She ,of course, gave him a big SMACK DOWN but it is fascinating how such lies are circulated. Scott has lived and done accompanyment work in the region for two years and will be recieving the Montana Amnesty International Human Rights Award on Sunday. It was wonderful to have these warriors for justice as house guests and we talked until late and again over much coffee the next morning. (fair trade) Perhaps this will be our next trip, visiting Scott and Sonia, Yaneth, Maria Ruth and these other inspiring souls. If we can get The Party to subsidize it, right Beak?!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Food and Money

"We know that there is paper out there that we can't trust. We don't know exactly who owns it and how much. And we don't know how they are valuing it."

Douglas Peta Chief Investment Strategist for J&W Siegleman

So they lost track of a few trillion, if you are like me and find all this "financialization" a bit confusing, this should make you feel better. NO ONE has a clue about what is happening. It is a confidence game, a huge ponzi scheme and though, as Lewis Lapham explains in his essay Estate Sale (Harpers May 08) "the rules are hard to exlain" it is "a national pastime, as dearly beloved as baseball." Do you remember the big flap when a Saudi firm wanted to buy a US shipping port? Those "sovereignty" concerns are out the window with this latest crisis. Lapham points to a basic rule:
"Geoeconomics trumps geopolitics. It is the value of the US dollar that imparts meaning to the principles of American democracy: loss of confidence in the former depreciates the character of the latter. Democracy works toward an idea of equality, capitalism moves in the direction of inequality, which is the preferred travel destination."

But there may be a silver lining, for the beauty of capitalism is that in every crisis (and they are constant) ,in every pile of rotting corpses, lies an investment opportunity! Bear Stearns could get back in the game if they were to hoard rice, buy it up and store it till people will pay anything! Supply and Demand! Sure there are already violent protests in Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Italy, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, the Phillipines, Thailand, Uzbeckistan, Yemen, let them eat cake ,or perhaps mud cookies. Social upheaval only creates more investment opportunities for the savy capitalist in arms and ammunition when those "gated communities" need defending. While the old oligarchy of Venezuela is using hoarding to try to bring down the socialist revolution (supported in this effort by duped Christian Missionaries) , foreign investors and Soveriegn Wealth funds (owned and operated by foreign governments like Russia and China, the last Axis of Evil) are using the financial crisis to buy up America. Perhaps the Lincoln Monument would fit in a Saudi palace or in downtown Shanghai?

"The seventeenth century princes of Europe maintained private manageries stocked with Spanish and Italian dwarves; its concievable that the Arab sovereign wealth funds might wish to collect, as rare specimens of an exotic breed, ornamental American CEOs prized for their ability to turn gold into lead. Priceless objects unavailable for purchace with MasterCard, capitalist action figures embodying the treasure of the Christian West, to be as proudly displayed as the peacocks in the gardens of Doha and Riyahd."

Democracy, justice, equality are all just nice concepts. People NEED food and no matter how much head scratching they do on CNN or in Davos or over at the Council on Foreign Relations this is one monster chicken coming home to roost.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Suzy Strikes Again:Choose Whiteness

Here is part of Suzy's Letter to the Editor in our local paper. (I posted on the same Suzy's diatribe on Property Rights a few weeks ago) I must admit I admire it's classic eloquence as it reiterates boilerplate dogma. It was precipitated by Obamas preacher and his denunciation of the Stars and Stripes:
"Every citizen in the United States of America has a choice on how they choose to live each day."

This is the essence of Movement Conservatism Ideology and a perfect example of it's intellectual vacuousness. It assumes a perfectly level playing field with no historical notions of privilege or advantage or class. "Equal opportunity" awaits us all in this post-race, post class society. A "New Morning in America."

"They can CHOOSE to take advantage of the opportunities or they can sit on their behinds and whine and blame others for their own lack of DETERMINATION. They succeed...because of the STRENGTH OF THEIR CHARACTER. "

In this idyllic it is all about choice and great people doing great things and getting great rewards because they make great decisions, such as working hard, playing by the rules, brushing their teeth etc. This explains why Suzy has such a big house and new car and her children are in top schools. And conversely, why "minorities" are in slums or prisons.

"Do not blame white people or this country for what you do not have...It is a CHOICE should you not speak english well..take advantage of the opportunity for education...not respect yourself. It is a choice to be a contributing person with good MORAL VALUES ,GOOD WORK have a desire to learn all one take on a sense of dignity."

So choose dignity and respect, damnit, and lose the baggy clothes! Shut up and contribute your labor, choose new BMWs instead of those old El Dorados! You got bootstraps, grab em and start pulling!

"Every top executive will tell you that attitude is the difference between success and failure. White guilt and the billions of dollars poured out trying to say WE ARE SORRY for a past that we had absolutely no part of... has ENCOURAGED entire groups of people to wallow in self pity and anger which is what happens when you remove incentive and personal responsibility."

This is what Bill Cosby has helped unleash. We (Whitey) apologized , for Christ sake, now get over it. Justice means you are now free to shop at Nieman Marcus along with those "top executives", ( not Ken Lay RIP) ,where perhaps some of that work ethic will rub off on you. Assimilate. Choose wealth over poverty like Suzy did. Resist the urge to take that handout, it will make you weak.

The embedded racism and classism of which Suzy and most conservatives (and many liberals)remain blithely unaware is at the heart of their destructive ideology. Ignorance and pride explains the ease by which they are manipulated to do Capitalist America's bidding, but the dark undercurrent of fear and hate, mixed with Christian doctrine and a whiff of Horatio Algeir, is a poisonous cocktail of reactionary defiance to anyone challenging their comfortable status quo. How much more honest it would be if they just said " We had gunpowder and you had spears, to bad for you" instead of creating all these hollow, aphoristic justifications for dominance and exploitation.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Montana Matters

Both Hillary and Barack are here this weekend. My wife is at the Barack Show as I write, and while I may vote for him, I will not adore him. ( to be fair ,she is also there to gather signatures) I wonder what he thinks, looking out on that sea of white faces? I wonder if he can throw horse shoes any better than he bowls?

Somone should have thrown McCain off that balcony, has the puke no shame? I half expected him to say "I have a dream" in that nasaly high pitched whine. Running Mate Joe Lieberman? Could you imagine anything more loathsome?

Alain Badiou asks us (the left-left) to declare "there is only one world" in an essay in the NLR Jan-Feb. Instead of First World -Third World or North-South or the outdated East-West "we must affirm the existence of the single world right from the start ,as axiom and principle...a recognition that all belong to the same world as myself: the African worker I see in the restaurant kitchen, the Morrocan I see digging a hole in the road, the veiled woman looking after children in a park. That is where we reverse the dominant idea of the world united by objects and signs, to make a unity in terms of living, acting beings, here and now.These people ,different from me in terms of language ,clothes, religion ,food ,education, exist exactly as I do myself; since they exist like me,I can discuss with them-and ,as with anyone else, we can agree and disagree about things."

Badiou also has an interesting new book called Polemics (which I saw in the amazing City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco) where he argues for a renewed offensive of the ideological, a departure from and perhaps reply to Mouffe's Return of the Political. I will see what I can do to synthesize, soon as I can get my hands on it. Today my assignment is to read Punching Out by Martin Glaberman for a Wobbly Discussion Group we're putting together. (It's to cold to go fishing) He sounds like one of those Ernest Mandel-type- un-reformed Marxists. I admire their fortitude.