Thursday, August 30, 2007
a change of pace...
The dream was about Pop.
I hadn’t seen him, or Mom, for several years more than I wanted to remember. I called them every so often, and there were always cards at Christmas and birthdays, but not much else.
My sis, Dorie, would write a couple of times a year, and there’ld always be a note from Louie, my brother-in-law, telling me about the doings around the rez or up on the ranch.
Louie’s a full-blood, lived most of his life on the rez except for the Marines and a couple of terms in junior college over in Spokane. Louie’s family were Seven Drums people: they believed in dreams; one of his grandpas and his dad both belonged to the same dreamer group that Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce band believed in....
Dorie and I are quarter-bloods, by way of Mom. Mom’s half Cherokee. Her maiden name was Swimmer: one of the great Cherokee family names. She met Dad back in Oklahoma in the late Nineteen-Thirties. History’s waves washed them up on a ranch just off the Speelyai Reservation.
Surrounded by the rez, really—one of those old shabby allotment deals that let non-Indian people buy up the best farm and ranch land. The first school we went to was the tribal elementary school. Although we were one-quarter Indian, we were from a tribe as foreign and distant as Hawaii.
Other than telling us about the Swimmer name, Mom didn’t have much to say about being Cherokee, and there sure weren’t any others around there. A smattering of Nez Perce, a few Shoshonis, some Delewares that had settled during the 1870 Indian War, even a few Sioux who had fled to Canada after the Custer fight and drifted onto the reservation in the 1880s. When we went to school, Speelyai was an unmelted melting pot. “Confederated Tribes of the Speelyai Reservation.” But no Cherokees. We weren’t quite Indians, and I stopped being anything like one about the time I went in the service.
As I said, I’d dreamed about Dad. He was turning into a skeleton, like in some horror movie. I had the dream twice in a week; both times I’d woke up like the phone had just rung in my ear, or there had been an explosion. Even loud noises in my dreams woke me up. Not as much as it had been since I’d got sober, when there came a general fading, but sometimes, my adrenal glads got turbocharged. Still.
So after the dreams, I thought more and more about my folks. I’d been running groups at the treatment center where I worked, and dreams were something I encouraged the “clients” to explore. I figured I had to take some of the medicine I’d been dishing out. But I didn’t know what to do about the dreams. Let me help you, I don’t know what’s going on with me, but let me help you instead...
The treatment center was progressive. One of the features were monthly sweat lodges. Every graduating “class” got one as part of a kind of rebirthing in sobriety. The clients were almost all wealthy Anglos, of one sort or another, but they seemed to dig it.
In the sweat lodge for May, I had a vision. Pure and simple, no arguing. Pop appeared in the darkness and beckoned to me. Just appeared in the darkness during the third round, the healing part. No voices, no blazing white light, just his image, for about five seconds.
I figured that was clear enough, but an hour after the lodge, I found myself busy thinking about bills I needed to pay, getting a haircut, and all that crap. Only the dichotomy between what I’d seen in there and the dreams, and what I was letting my mind do about it was as obvious to me as a brick wall.
I talked to Annie, one of the other counselors. She was in her late thirties and had tough. Annie had been a cop for several years. She was short and heavy and cut her own hair, bought her clothes at the Goodwill. She didn’t seem to have much bullshit in her.
We went out for coffee in some new-wave espresso bars that sprung up all over the city. It was a warm, late Spring Tuscon evening. Ugly tank-destroyer airplanes made constant circles in the salmon sky—Warthogs. Reminding us of the benefits of living in a solidly Republican state. Arizona’s mental health funding might be lower than Guam’s, but at least there were defense jobs. And skies filled with fighter planes.
“I used to fish a lake where the eagles and osprey would dive down out of the sky at the trout and snatch them out of the water,” I said.
She raised an eyebrow. “You thinking about home? I grew up in LA. You couldn’t even see the sky.”
“I spent some time where all you saw were fighter aircraft. Our own, but they could kill you just as dead as they could anybody else.”
“You’ve been thinking about going home,” she declared.
“I’ve been having dreams about it. I hate to admit to believing in dreams.” I told her about seeing Dad in the sweat lodge.
“You’re part Native American.”
“In’din,” I pronounced it the way I reembered hearing it. “Mom’s half Cherokee. My sis and I went to school with Indian kids. We’re enrolled, for whatever good that means. Weren’t any white kids until I got to high school in the county seat.”
“Go see a medicine person. Simple,” she said, as if I’d said I needed shoes and she had pointed out a shoe store.
“I don’t know any medicine men.”
“What about that old Pima guy that does the sweats?”
“He grunted at me and told me to pray for my own answers.”
“That sounds like him. I don’t know any medicine men, either. But I know a medicine woman. Come on.”
We drove to the south side of Tuscon, down where the poor Mexicans and Indians live. Where the land is so dry and sparse that the desert is always reclaiming untended ground. The sky was doing it’s usual evening color light show. It made me think of salmon barbecuing on an alder-wood fire.
Men and women sat in their front yards and chatted. Most of them seemed to have cans of beer. Black and brown teen-agers shot baskets in playgrounds. Younger children kicked around soccer balls. Every market had a cluster of people in front of it, hanging out, being social. Cops cruised the streets, hoping to put out any spot-fires that might erupt.
“First of the month,” Annie said, “Everybody’s got their checks.”
“It was like that back home, too.”
“Like that everywhere,” she said. “You got it bad. I’m going to pull into that Stop and Rob up the street so you can buy some cigarettes.”
“I don’t smoke.”
“You offer tobacco to medicine people. I thought you said you grew up with Indians?”
“How come you don’t know this stuff?”
“We were too busy trying to raise stock and cut firewood and get by. The Indians were living the same way. We didn’t have time for that woo-woo crap.”
“Sounds like that woo-woo crap is catching up with you.”
We drove to a funky trailer park. It was being reabsorbed by the desert, a grain of sand and a thorn of cactus at a time. All of the growth, “progress,” they call it, goes on around the fringes of the Anglo neighborhoods. When the south side land gets valuable enough, then the area will get upgraded. It’s a sort of benign neglect until then.
An old Mexican-looking woman was tending a small vegetable plot alongside a shabby trailer house. Lamps with green tin shades were strung over the yard. A brush arbor attached to the trailer served as an awning or ramada. Four old kitchen chairs and a cable spool were under the arbor.
She had a faded bandana tied over her head, like some of the women I remembered on the rez. She wore an equally faded shapeless dress with moons and stars printed on it, and on her feet were frayed Nikes. Annie introduced the old lady as Doña Maria. She didn’t have any teeth. The woman gestured to the chairs under the brush arbor. She brought us Pepsi-Colas, and she listened to me for a few minutes. She opened the pack of Marlboros I’d brought her and lit one.
“I don’t understand what your question is, nephew. I don’t think you do, either.”
“Why am I dreaming this? What’s it telling me?” What other question would I have?
Doña Maria shrugged and took another drag on the Marlboro. “You’re Indian, mestizo, mixed, aren’t you? We have dreams different than gachupines, white people, have dreams. Why don’t you go home and find out? These things don’t happen by chance.”
Annie said, “Doña Maria, this is Paul’s home. He’s lived in Tuscon for seven years.”
I wondered why she said that. Then I found out.
The old lady chuckled. “We seldom have to do things more than seven times. Home is where you were born and raised. Su Patria propia.” She nodded north toward downtown. “Fuck Tuscon. This is just a crappy television program. It’s time to turn it off. Your family needs you. Your father’s spirit needs you. He’s calling you.”
FBI spied on Coretta Scott King after MLK's death
New documents show that FBI spied on Martin Luther King's widow
8/30/2007, 2:38 p.m. PT
By ERRIN HAINES
The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Federal agents spied on the widow of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for several years after his assassination in 1968, according to newly released documents that reveal the FBI worried about her following in the slain civil rights icon's footsteps.
In memos that reveal Coretta Scott King being closely followed by the government, the FBI noted concern that she might attempt "to tie the anti-Vietnam movement to the civil rights movement."
Four years after Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, the FBI closed its file on Coretta Scott King, saying, "No information has come to the attention of Atlanta which indicates a propensity for violence or affiliation of subversive elements," according to a memorandum dated Nov. 30, 1972.
The colonial troops want to go home
Santa Barbara News-Press
Call at National Guard conference for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq greeted with standing ovation
DAVID McFADDEN, Associated Press Writer
August 25, 2007 6:08 PM
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - A call by Puerto Rico's governor for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq earned a standing ovation Saturday from a conference of more than 4,000 National Guardsmen.
Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila said the U.S. administration has ''no new strategy and no signs of success'' and that prolonging the war would needlessly put guardsmen in harm's way.
''The war in Iraq has fractured the political will of the United States and the world,'' he said at the opening of the 129th National Guard Association general conference. ''Clearly, a new war strategy is required and urgently.''
Acevedo said sending more troops to Iraq would be a costly blunder.
''By increasing the number of National Guard and reserve troops, we put our soldiers in danger for the umpteenth time since the beginning of the global war on terrorism,'' said the governor, adding U.S. territories and states need Guard reserves in the event of natural disasters and domestic disturbances.
Cognitive dissonance between Viet Nam and Iraq
Thanks, Eugene, and thank you very much, Jim Craven!
Vietnam, Iraq and Cognitive Dissonance (Expanded)
by James Craven
The parallels betweenand are striking and mounting every day. Some of them (A to Z) are listed here.
What is really at stake in, and the main reason Bush will not leave (in addition to his monstrous ego, malignant narcissism and megalomania and not wanting to "lose" an illegal war he started--on "his" watch and to an "inferior" enemy) is what was at stake in : The DEMONSTRATION EFFECT of a U.S. loss revealing to many potential victims and adversaries of U.S. Imperial system exactly how weak, overextended and vulnerable the U.S. imperial system really is.
Once a given war is clearly illegal by even U.S. laws and standards, there is no "optimum" or "orderly" way to end it but IMMEDIATELY and without any conditions.
..................................................Get the rest of this amazing article at the above link!
The country sinks lower, no bottom in sight
History Will Not Absolve Us
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice
Tuesday 28 August 2007
Leaked Red Cross report sets up Bush team for international war-crimes trial.
If and when there's the equivalent of an international Nuremberg trial for the American perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Guantánamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the CIA's secret prisons, there will be mounds of evidence available from documented international reports by human-rights organizations, including an arm of the European parliament-as well as such deeply footnoted books as Stephen Grey's Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program (St. Martin's Press) and Charlie Savage's just-published Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy (Little, Brown).
While the Democratic Congress has yet to begin a serious investigation into what many European legislators already know about American war crimes, a particularly telling report by the International Committee of the Red Cross has been leaked that would surely figure prominently in such a potential Nuremberg trial. The Red Cross itself is bound to public silence concerning the results of its human-rights probes of prisons around the world-or else governments wouldn't let them in.
But The New Yorker's Jane Mayer has sources who have seen accounts of the Red Cross interviews with inmates formerly held in CIA secret prisons. In "The Black Sites" (August 13, The New Yorker), Mayer also reveals the effect on our torturers of what they do-on the orders of the president-to "protect American values."
She quotes a former CIA officer: "When you cross over that line of darkness, it's hard to come back. You lose your soul. You can do your best to justify it, but . . . you can't go back to that dark a place without it changing you."
Few average Americans have been changed, however, by what the CIA does in our name. Blame that on the tight official secrecy that continues over how the CIA extracts information. On July 20, the Bush administration issued a new executive order authorizing the CIA to continue using these techniques-without disclosing anything about them.
If we, the people, are ultimately condemned by a world court for our complicity and silence in these war crimes, we can always try to echo those Germans who claimed not to know what Hitler and his enforcers were doing. But in Nazi Germany, people had no way of insisting on finding out what happened to their disappeared neighbors.
We, however, have the right and the power to insist that Congress discover and reveal the details of the torture and other brutalities that the CIA has been inflicting in our name on terrorism suspects.
Only one congressman, Oregon's Democratic senator Ron Wyden, has insisted on probing the legality of the CIA's techniques-so much so that Wyden has blocked the appointment of Bush's nominee, John Rizzo, from becoming the CIA's top lawyer. Rizzo, a CIA official since 2002, has said publicly that he didn't object to the Justice Department's 2002 "torture" memos, which allowed the infliction of pain unless it caused such injuries as "organ failure . . . or even death." (Any infliction of pain up to that point was deemed not un-American.) Mr. Rizzo would make a key witness in any future Nuremberg trial.
As Jane Mayer told National Public Radio on August 6, what she found in the leaked Red Cross report, and through her own extensive research on our interrogators (who are cheered on by the commander in chief), is "a top-down-controlled, mechanistic, regimented program of abuse that was signed off on-at the White House, really-and then implemented at the CIA from the top levels all the way down. . . . They would put people naked for up to 40 days in cells where they were deprived of any kind of light. They would cut them off from any sense of what time it was or . . . anything that would give them a sense of where they were."
She also told of the CIA interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, who was not only waterboarded (a technique in which he was made to feel that he was about to be drowned) but also "kept in . . . a small cage, about one meter [39.7 inches] by one meter, in which he couldn't stand up for a long period of time. [The CIA] called it the dog box."
Whether or not there is another Nuremberg trial-and Congress continues to stay asleep-future historians of the Bush administration will surely also refer to Leave No Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality, the July report by Human Rights First and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
The report emphasizes that the president's July executive order on CIA interrogations-which, though it is classified, was widely hailed as banning "torture and cruel and inhuman treatment"-"fails explicitly to rule out the use of the 'enhanced' techniques that the CIA authorized in March, 2002, "with the president's approval (emphasis added).
In 2002, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell denounced the "torture" memos and other interrogation techniques in internal reports that reached the White House. It's a pity he didn't also tell us. But Powell's objections should keep him out of the defendants' dock in any future international trial.
From the Leave No Marks report, here are some of the American statutes that the CIA, the Defense Department, and the Justice Department have utterly violated:
In the 1994 Torture Convention Implementation Act, we put into U.S. law what we had signed in Article 5 of the UN Convention Against Torture, which is defined as "an act 'committed by an [officially authorized] person' . . . specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering . . . upon another person within his custody or physical control."
The 1997 U.S. War Crimes Act "criminalizes . . . specifically enumerated war crimes that the legislation refers to as 'grave breaches' of Common Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions], including the war crimes of torture and 'cruel or inhuman treatment.'"
The Leave No Marks report very valuably brings the Supreme Court- before Chief Justice John Roberts took over-into the war-crimes record of this administration. I strongly suggest that Human Rights First and Physicians for Social Responsibility send their report-with the following section underlined-to every current member of the Supreme Court and Congress:
"The Supreme Court has long considered prisoner treatment to violate substantive due process if the treatment 'shocks the conscience,' is bound to offend even hardened sensibilities, or offends 'a principle of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.'"
Among those fundamental rights cited by past Supreme Courts, the report continues, are "the rights to bodily integrity [and] the right to have [one's] basic needs met; and the right to basic human dignity" (emphasis added).
If the conscience of a majority on the Roberts Court isn't shocked by what we've done to our prisoners, then it will be up to the next president and the next Congress-and, therefore, up to us-to alter, in some respects, how history will judge us. But do you see any considerable signs, among average Americans, of the conscience being shocked? How about the presidential candidates of both parties?
Health Care Reform in '08? Don't bet on it.
Don’t bet the family farm—or even one of the family dinner-plates—on it. Our health care system may not be too good for you and me, but it’s sure good for the candidates, both Republican and Democrat. Mitt Romney has already got from the pharmaceutical and health products boys $228,260; Obama has got $161,124 and Clinton has $146,000. Hillary has the top figures from health professionals, at $910,000
If you’re just interested in the insurance industries brib—er, donations, then it’s Chris Dodd with $605,000+ leading the candidates.
Democrats are doing well by the tobacco companies, too. Dodd: $45K, Clinton: $32K. Giuliani pockets the most money from Big Tobacco: $69,500, by the way.
Molly Ivens: “you got to dance with those that brung yuh.” It’s obvious the health pros are not exactly terrified of Hillary Clinton: they did OK the last time a Clinton messed with health care. It isn’t like they think she’s going to put them in the poorhouse. It’s the rest of us that are being put in the poor house, yes. We, Joe and Jane Average, aren’t doing too well when it comes to the costs of health; but the big stockholders and execs at the insurance companies are doing just fine—just like the creeps at the tobacco industries.
In America, 31% of health care spending goes to administration; in Canada it’s 16.7%. The healthcare workforce, here, isn’t just doctors and nurses and such: 27% of them are clerical and administrators—paper pushers and bean counters. They make up less than 20% of the health care workers in Canada.
Want some more info on this?
Derrick Z. Jackson | Kucinich Is Right on Health Care
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Speaking of the uninsured—children
Dear William Peter,
Yesterday you heard from us about the Census Bureau’s 2006 figures on poverty and health insurance status. Now, we’d like to tell you how the numbers spell out for racial and ethnic minorities.
As you know, the number of uninsured Americans rose for the sixth straight year in a row - to an amount that exceeds the cumulative population of 24 States and the District of Columbia.
The number of uninsured is now up to 47 million, the highest number of uninsured Americans in recorded history. This accounts for an increased 2.2 million more individuals who became uninsured from 2005 to 2006.
Racial and ethnic disparities persist: the rate of increase in uninsurance was higher for Blacks and Hispanic Americans. In 2006, 34.1 percent of Hispanics, 20.5 percent of Blacks, and 15.5 percent of Asians were uninsured, compared with 10.8 percent of non-Hispanic Whites. In total, nearly 25 million racial and ethnic minorities were uninsured in 2006.
Racial and ethnic minority children were also hit hard. Overall in the US, 8.7 million children were uninsured in 2006. This is an increase of 600,000 children since 2005. Among racial and ethnic minority children, 22.1 percent of Hispanic, 14.1 percent of Black, and 11.4 percent of Asian children were uninsured in 2006, compared to 7.3 percent of White, non-Hispanic children.
All of these numbers mean that more individuals from communities of color continue to lack the health care they need, which only exacerbates the disparities that exist between racial and ethnic minorities and whites. These numbers also emphasize the dire need for changes to occur within our health care system that expands health coverage to all Americans.
Please join us and thousands of other Americans in taking action to help alleviate the problem of the uninsured by signing this petition which urges Congress to support full funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), to provide coverage to millions of uninsured children and bring America closer to quality, affordable, equitable health care for all.
Program Manager, Minority Health Initiatives
Scrambling under the masters' table—again
I glanced over at some Canadian statistics. Canada has, for those who have forgotten, universal coverage—every single Canadian has basic health insurance. That's 100%, yes.
Gosh, aren't we lucky we have the world's highest medical expenditures and crappy uneven coverage? We wouldn't want socialism—except socialized education, Social Security itself, Medicare, the Interstate highway system, and all the nice perks for our politicians. Even the ones who rant and rave against socialism have those perks. Do they return their SS and Medicare benefits? Do they refuse to accept governmentally-funded education for their kids and grandchildren?
Don't be silly. If you're rich and/or powerful (and by the way, most members of Congress are pretty damn' close to being rich) you have socialized medicine. The rest of us can scramble under the masters' table to find what health care we can.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
From Truthout: Gonzales is a traitor
Burning the Law in a Riot of Treason
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist
Monday 27 August 2007
As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.
- Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
The departure of Alberto Gonzales from the Attorney General's Office brings America to a place of definitions, and hanging in the balance is the very idea of the nation itself. The basic concepts and fundamental principles of our republic now stand as the only legitimate considerations going forward, for they have been tested almost to annihilation already, and will not endure much longer if we continue on this path.
It is the mythology within the Declaration of Independence we speak of, the fiction that tells us we are endowed with rights, and that those rights are unalienable. This falsehood has been vividly exposed in the last several years, and it has been a harsh lesson indeed. All the rights we hold dear and believe to be our greatest strength are, in fact, only words on old paper with neither force nor power. The next line - "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" - is the muscle behind the myth, the core that has endured a withering assault.
Matters are so much worse than our national political dialogue lets on. The resignation of Gonzales has unleashed a torrent of hard words and harsh criticisms aimed at the deplorable nature of his tenure, but the truth of it continues to elude mention. They call Gonzales an incompetent, a crony, a loyalist, a disgrace, leaving off the one word necessary to fully explain who he is, and what he was engaged in before he stepped down.
Alberto Gonzales is a traitor. That is the only word to explain it.
He is not the only one; there are many more traitors like him in the Bush administration, criminals joined in an act of treason so vast and comprehensive that it beggars comparison. Nothing quite like this has ever before been attempted in America, and if they are allowed to succeed, there will be nothing of what defines America left to be seen.
Gonzales and his Bush administration collaborators have committed their treason against the rule of law itself, a crime so absolute that it is technically not illegal. There is no code, ordinance or law specifically forbidding the total ruination of all our rights and protections; the act is neither felony nor misdemeanor, because nobody ever considered the black-letter necessity of making it illegal to destroy the rule of law.
But there is no America without that rule of law - no rights, no protections, no Constitution; there is nothing, and if you destroy the rule of law, you destroy the idea that is America itself. The only word for a crime like that is treason, and those who would dare commit it are traitors. Gonzales and his Bush administration collaborators have done more than dare. They have been pursuing it, with deliberation and intent, throughout each moment of their tenure.
Their treason is not in the actual crimes they have committed, but in the way they have chosen to avoid accountability for them. Their treason is not their refusal to obey the Freedom of Information Act, but in their insistence that they are above the application of that law. Their treason is not in their refusal to obey subpoenas from Congress, but in their claim that they are above the laws behind those subpoenas. Their treason is not that they fired United States attorneys and then refused to come clean about it, but that they decimated the impartiality of the Department of Justice and turned the rule of law into another partisan weapon. Their treason is not the NSA surveillance of Americans, but their steadfast refusal to submit to the governing laws and the requirement of oversight.
When George W. Bush asserted a claim of Executive Privilege that made him and his administration immune to all laws and oversight, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law. When Dick Cheney asserted that the Office of the Vice President was not part of the Executive Branch, because he did not want to obey the laws requiring him to hand over official documents to the Archives, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law. When Alberto Gonzales chose to surrender the independence of the Department of Justice so he could protect those assertions, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law.
Americans have only the rights they are able to protect and defend. Our rights are nothing more than ideas; only theory and argument on parchment all too easily burned to ashes. The power of those rights is only found in our collective submission to the rule of law, and submission to that rule of law is all that stands between our freedoms and the conflagration of tyranny. Without the rule of law, there is no America.
That is the treason of Alberto Gonzales, and the treason of the Bush administration entire. They have attacked and undercut the rule of law by refusing to submit to it, and in doing so have brought us to the edge of appalling infamy. Theirs is a crime without peer, and we will be fortunate beyond measure if we are able to recover from it.
The fact that Alberto Gonzales has left is meaningless in the main, because the treason he participated in continues in his absence. If the damage is to be repaired, he must be replaced by someone who will submit to the main imperative, someone who will submit to the rule of law, someone with real independence and unbending respect for the idea that is America. Gonzales must not be replaced by another crony or yes-man, because Americans have only those rights we can protect and defend, and another traitor in that lofty post is no protection at all.
Gonzales was more than a poor steward of this trust. He was a traitor among traitors. If the rule of law is to stand, the treason he helped commit must be ended, and a patriot must take his place.
Daze of Deviationism (cult of the personality dept.)
Damn rights that makes me happy. The intercessor at the dance told me one of my biggest problems is that I think I'm too old to do much. He's right, I have to admit. Next year I'll aim for spending a night and a day in the dancer's arbor. It's a four year committment, to dance. I've done two years. It'll be nice to finish it up.
What I see around me is so much unfinished business. Not just in projects I haven't quite...well, in some cases I haven't even started them, but the ones that are partially done.
I'm not alone in this, no. What a human problem! Anytime I get to thinking I'm "terminally unique" (thanks again—and again, A.A.), all I have to do is pull my head out of that dark nether region in my rear and look around. Check it out: Rove resigned and that's the last we'll see of him around Congress; same with Gonzales; both these guys are as slimy as they come. Gonzales should be charged with treason: he did his best to nullify the Constitution. Ultimately, all the Democratic bru-ha-ha is about is posturing. They really don't want to change a damn' thing. Just like the way Whitewater was blown out of sight and out of mind. Nobody really wants to change the way things work.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Prez on the Rez Debate
It's funny how politics works
Last updated August 24, 2007 7:18 p.m. PT
By MARK TRAHANT
P-I EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
CABAZON, Calif. -- It's funny how politics works. Three presidential candidates participated in a forum last week. They committed news, raising substantial ideas followed by concrete, even controversial, plans.
But this is probably the first you're reading about Prez On The Rez. It wasn't considered a big deal because of who wasn't here, the so-called big three: Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards. The Democratic forum was designed to find out how the candidates would deal with concerns of American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
This is new. It's never been done. Only a few years ago candidates wouldn't have even thought about Indian Country -- too few votes, hardly any money, little reason to visit. But much of that changed in Washington state when tribes and reservation voters organized to vote against Sen. Slade Gorton. Of course Maria Cantwell won -- and since then Native American voters helped elect senators and governors from Montana to Arizona (including Washington state).
Presidential candidates know this on one level. Nearly every campaign publishes a policy paper that is supposed to take care of everything. If only we, the voters out there, read these documents. If only we, the voters in Indian country, actually believed these documents.
Prez On The Rez is different because it brought the candidates before an audience of tribal leaders on the Morongo Reservation. Some 75 communities were represented from mostly the West and Midwest. I was the forum's moderator.
"When I was asked to participate, it took me 20 seconds to accept," said Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico. "Native Americans must be taken seriously. Native Americans are a part of the nation's fabric."
Richardson said flat out that failure of the federal government to adequately fund the Indian Health Service is a "breach of the U.S. commitment to Native Americans."
If elected he said he would elevate the issues by creating a Secretary of Native American Indian Affairs -- a cabinet level post. "You need to raise these issues to the highest levels to send a signal that other government agencies need to take Native American issues seriously," he said.
"Many candidates will have position papers on Native American issues. I've done it," Richardson said. If you want to know what he'd do as president, he said look at what he's done in New Mexico during his six years in office.
Richardson also he had a clear position on the No Child Left Behind law. "I'd scrap it." He said the law is devastating in Native and Latino communities because the one-size fit all approach to education results in less money to schools that are designated as failing -- schools that need more help rather than less.
Richardson was not the only candidate to say things that would not be said in most presidential forums.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich said the model of peacemaker courts -- alternative justice systems -- that are used by some tribal communities ought to be replicated. He said he would create a Department of Peace and Non-Violence that would highlight, fund and promote such programs.
Kucinich made a poetical pitch to Indian Country: "Take the time to tell them that there's someone running for president who understands their heart, that there's someone running for president who understands their needs."
Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel had the best line of the forum. He said he understands the importance of elders in a tribal community. "I know how you honor people my age," he said. "And that's why you will support me."
Gravel promised to free Leonard Peltier, a Turtle Mountain Chippewa, convicted of killing two FBI agents in 1975. President Clinton should have take care of that, he said.
Prez On The Rez makes a lousy story if the narrative is the horse race. The only political tickets that some count are those that say, "win, place or show."
But that version is wrong because the content of the discussion was so different from those on the main tracks. Now every candidate might be asked without warning: What about Indian health? Is the United States in breach of its treaty promises? What about a cabinet-level agency? What would you do? And for that matter: What about Leonard Peltier?
Neither the questions nor the answers are safe. They force a candidate to go beyond an unread position paper.
But will these issues surface? Who will bring them up?
That's the second reason why the forum was a success. One of the early elections this season is Nevada -- a caucus state where an organized Native American vote could make a difference. It's funny how politics works.
Mark Trahant is editor of the editorial page. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 1998-2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Dave Niewert, Klamath water, and the neo-Klan
The Democrats, at least here in Oregon, have blown off, as far as I can see, any action against Greg Walden, the 2nd district Representative in Congress. They’re aiming at Gordon Smith. Well, why not? Aafter all, most of the Demos are over on the west side of the Cascades, in the fantasy land of Ecotopia, and we all know that central and eastern Oregon is home to Them—the rednecks, the retired military, the reactionaries, cowboys, Indians, bikers...you know: Them.
Too bad. Democratic liberals spend too much time talking to each other. They’re like academics in that. After a while they just forget how to talk to people who don’t share the same enlightened viewpoints. OK: that’s just like the christians, except they’re out to evangelize—and if that doesn’t work, conquer—the non-believers.
For a while, I’ve been accumulating stuff about Walden’s involvement in the Klamath water wars. Not just how he was a tool of Rove and Cheney, but of how he actually pandered to the reactionary right. I mean the militia-types, the “freemen,” and, of course, the “minutemen.” I’m going to let Dave Niewert take the floor on that one, because for years he’s been covering the neo-Klan front. http://dneiwert.blogspot.com
Niewert's post for last Thursday, August 23rd, will give all the info you need about the water scene down at Klamath.
So, with that, here’re links for those of you into iPhones, but who don’t like being locked into AT & T:
Friday, August 24, 2007
Haditha: Military wants charges dropped
Military recommends dropping charges in Haditha massacre
Published: Friday August 24, 2007
The US military's investigating officer has recommended that the Marines drop all changes against a Marine accused of massacring civilians -- including women and children -- in a 2005 raid.
Twenty four civilians were killed in various attacks in Haditha, Iraq, including seven women and three children. Eighteen of the killings are still being examined for possible charges.
According to the San Diego Union Tribune, "only the squad leader, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, still faces unpremeditated-murder charges in connection with the killings of 18 people."
This is the second case in which Lt. Col. Paul Ware recommended dropping charges because of a "complex combat environment." Ware wrote that the killings were "tragedies" but that the Marine, Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, followed the "laws of combat."
Ware said Tatum followed orders in the Nov. 19, 2005, where a Marine was already shooting at two residential homes.
"The shootings began after a bomb blast killed one Marine and injured two others as the unit drove a convoy through Haditha," wrote Josh White in Friday's Washington Post. "The Marines then killed a group of men who were in a car nearby before heading into two houses in the vicinity. Ware found that Tatum was following his rules of engagement when he fired his rifle in the two houses."
"What occurred in house 1 and house 2 are tragedies," Ware wrote. "The photographs of the victims are heart wrenching, and the desire to explain this tragedy as criminal act and not the result of training and fighting an enemy that hides among innocents is great. However, in the end, my opinion is that there is insufficient evidence for trial. LCpl Tatum shot and killed people in houses 1 and 2, but the reason he did so was because of his training and the circumstances he was placed in, not to exact revenge and commit murder."
"On 19 November 2005, in the mere seconds LCpl Tatum had to make a decision, he acted in accord with training, to engage targets that a fellow Marine was firing at, without time to fully assess the situation and reflect on what SSgt Wuterich was doing," Ware wrote. "It is only in hindsight that we can start to question why SSgt Wuterich was firing his weapon at children and conclude that LCpl Tatum should have deemed such actions were unwarranted."
Jack B. Zimmerman, Tatum's civilian attorney, said he was pleased but declined further comment.
Another bad apple at Justice
The New York Times
August 24, 2007
Civil Rights Division Head Resigning at Justice Dept.
By PHILIP SHENON
WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 — The head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division announced Thursday that he was resigning, the latest in a long string of departures from the department in the midst of a furor over the leadership of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
The department said that the resignation of the official, Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim, had nothing to do with the recent controversies over Mr. Gonzales’s performance, and that Mr. Kim had been planning his departure for months.
His departure was announced on the same day that department officials confirmed that a senior official who preceded Mr. Kim in running the civil rights division, Bradley J. Schlozman, had also resigned.
In Senate testimony two months ago, Mr. Schlozman, who was interim director of the division in 1993, acknowledged that he had actively recruited conservative Republican applicants to work in the division and that he had rewritten the performance evaluations of career lawyers who were not considered loyal to the Bush administration.
Mr. Gonzales saluted Mr. Kim in a statement, saying he would miss Mr. Kim’s “honest opinions and valuable contributions as an adviser to me.”
Laos, Cambodia and Pakistan
Remember Laos? Cambodia? The U.S. invaded those countries, too—no declaration of war, no publicity, just millions and millions of pounds of bombs and millions of dead and maimed. We remember those two countries, but Bush and Cheney, busy avoiding the draft at the time, apparently have holes in their brains...and in their souls.
It’s time to impeach the president and vice-president—and then try them for crimes against humanity, as I’ve said.
U.S. OK'd Troop Terror Hunts in Pakistan
SCOTT LINDLAW | August 23, 2007 08:41 PM EST | AP
— Newly uncovered "rules of engagement" show the U.S. military gave elite units broad authority more than three years ago to pursue suspected terrorists into Pakistan, with no mention of telling the Pakistanis in advance.
The documents obtained by The Associated Press offer a detailed glimpse at what Army Rangers and other terrorist-hunting units were authorized to do earlier in the war on terror. And interviews with military officials suggest some of those same guidelines have remained in place, such as the right to "hot pursuit" across the border.
Pakistan, a key U.S. partner in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, has long viewed such incursions as a threat to its sovereignty. Islamabad protested loudly this month when Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama pledged to grant U.S. forces the authority to unilaterally penetrate Pakistan in the hunt for terrorist leaders.
Washington repeated assurances it would consult before any such incursions.
But summaries of the rules of engagement on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in April 2004 say chasing al-Qaida leaders across the frontier was fair game.
Scott Lindlaw reported from San Francisco; Associated Press writers Jason Straziuso in Kabul, Afghanistan and Munir Ahmad in Islamabad, Pakistan contributed to this report.
Monday, August 13, 2007
The scenario for 2008
For a year or so, it's been my hunch-fear that Bush-Cheney will figure out how to cancel the 2008 elections, or at least steal them so well none of us are going to bother to even try to vote ever again.
Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis: What Will YOU Do When the GOP Cancels the 2008 Election?Submitted by BuzzFlash on Mon, 07/30/2007 - 3:16pm. Guest Contribution
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis
It is time to think about the "unthinkable." The Bush Administration has both the inclination and the power to cancel the 2008 election. The GOP strategy for another electoral theft in 2008 has taken clear shape, though we must assume there is much more we don't know.
But we must also assume that if it appears to Team Bush/Cheney/Rove that the GOP will lose the 2008 election anyway (as it lost in Ohio 2006), we cannot ignore the possibility that they would simply cancel the election. Those who think this crew will quietly walk away from power are simply not paying attention. The real question is not how or when they might do it. It's how, realistically, we can stop them.
In Florida 2000, Team Bush had a game plan involving a handful of tactics. With Jeb Bush in the governor's mansion, the GOP used a combination of disenfranchisement, intimidation, faulty ballots, electronic voting fraud, a rigged vote count, and an aborted recount, courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court. A compliant Democrat (Al Gore) allowed the coup to be completed.
In Ohio 2004, the arsenal of dirty tricks exploded. Based in Columbus, we have documented more than a hundred different tactics used to steal the 20 electoral votes that gave Bush a second term. More are still surfacing. As a result of the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal lawsuit (in which we are plaintiff and attorney), we have now been informed that 56 of the 88 counties in Ohio violated federal law by destroying election records, thus preventing a definitive historical recount. As in 2000, a compliant Democrat (John Kerry) allowed the coup to proceed.
For 2008 we expect the list of vote theft maneuvers to escalate yet again. We are already witnessing a coordinated nationwide drive to destroy voter registration organizations and to disenfranchise millions of minority, poor and young voters.
This carefully choreographed campaign is complemented by the widespread use of electronic voting machines. As reported by the Government Accountability Office, Princeton University, the Brennan Center, the Carter-Baker Commission, U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and others, these machines can be easily used to flip an election. They were integral to stealing both the 2000 and 2004 elections. Efforts to make their source codes transparent, or to require a usable paper trail on a federal level, have thus far failed. A discriminatory Voter ID requirement may also serve as the gateway to a national identification card.
Overall, the GOP will have at its command even more weapons of election theft in 2008 than it did in Ohio 2004, which jumped exponentially from Florida 2000. The Rovian GOP is nothing if not tightly organized to do this with ruthless efficiency. Expect everything that was used these past two presidential elections to surface again in 2008 in far more states, with far more efficiency, and many new dirty tricks added in.
But in Ohio 2006, the GOP learned a hard lesson. Its candidate for governor was J. Kenneth Blackwell: the Secretary of State who was the essential on-the-ground operative in the theft of Ohio 2004.
When he announced for governor, many Ohioans joked that "Ken Blackwell will never lose an election where he counts the votes."
But lose he did.... along with the GOP candidates for Secretary of State, Attorney General, and U.S. Senate.
By our calculations, despite massive grassroots scrutiny, the Republicans stole in excess of 6% of the Ohio vote in 2006. But they still lost.
Why? Because they were so massively unpopular that even a 6% bump couldn't save them. Outgoing Governor Bob Taft, who pled guilty to four misdemeanors while in office, left town with a 7% approval rating (that's not a typo). Blackwell entered the last week of the campaign down 30% in some polls.
So while the GOP still had control of the electoral machinery here in 2006, the public tide against them was simply too great to hold back, even through the advanced art and science of modern Rovian election theft.
In traditional electoral terms, that may also be the case in 2008. Should things proceed as they are now, it's hard to imagine any Republican candidate going into the election within striking distance. The potential variations are many, but the graffiti on the wall is clear.
What's also clear is that this Administration has a deep, profound and uncompromised contempt for democracy, for the rule of law, and for the U.S. Constitution. When George W. Bush went on the record (twice) as saying he has nothing against dictatorship, as long as he can be dictator, it was a clear and present policy statement.
Who really believes this crew will walk quietly away from power? They have the motivation, the money, and the method for doing away with the electoral process altogether. So why wouldn't they?
The groundwork for dismissal of both the legislative and judicial branch has been carefully laid. The litany is well-known, but worth a very partial listing:
The continuation of the drug war, and the Patriot Act, Homeland Security Act, and other dictatorial laws prompted by the 9/11/2001 terror attacks have decimated the Bill of Rights, and shredded the traditional American right to due process of law, freedom from official surveillance, arbitrary violence, and far more.
The current Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, has not backed away from his announcement to Congress that the Constitution does not guarantee habeas corpus. The administration continues to act on the assumption that it can arrest anyone at any time and hold them without notification or trial for as long as it wants.
The establishment of the Homeland Security Agency has given it additional hardware to decimate the basic human rights of our citizenry. Under the guise of dealing with the "immigration problem," large concentration camps are under construction around the U.S.
The administration has endorsed and is exercising its "right" to employ torture, contrary to the Eighth Amendment and to a wide range of international treaties, which Gonzales has labeled "quaint."
With more than 200 "signing statements," the administration acts on its belief that the "unitary executive" trumps the power of the legislative branch in any instance it chooses. This belief has been further enforced with the administration's use of a wide range of precedent-setting arguments to keep its functionaries from testifying before Congress.
There is much more. In all instances, the 109th Congress -- and the public -- have rolled over without significant resistance.
Most crucial now are Presidential Directive #51, Executive Orders #13303, #13315, #13350, #13364, #13422, #13438, and more, by which Bush has granted himself an immense arsenal of powers for which the term "dictatorial" is a modest understatement.
The Founders established our government with checks and balances. But executive orders have accumulated important precedent. The Emancipation Proclamation by which Lincoln declared an end to slavery in the South, was issued under the "military necessity" of adding blacks to the Union Army, a step without which the North might not have won the Civil War. Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order #8802 established the Fair Employment Practices Commission. Harry Truman's Executive Order #9981 desegregated the military.
Most to the point, FDR's Executive Order #9066 ordered the forcible internment of 100,000 people of Japanese descent into the now infamous concentration camps of World War II.
There is also precedent for a president overriding the Supreme Court. In the 1830s, Chief Justice John Marshall enshrined the right of the Cherokee Nation to sovereignty over its ancestral land in the Appalachian Mountains. Andrew Jackson scorned the decision. Some 14,000 native Americans were moved at gunpoint to Oklahoma. More than 3,000 died along the way.
All this will be relevant should Team Bush envision a defeat in the 2008 election and decide to call it off. It's well established that Richard Nixon -- mentor to Karl Rove and Dick Cheney -- commissioned the Huston Plan, which detailed how to cancel the 1972 election.
Today we must ask: who would stop this administration from taking dictatorial power in the instance of a "national emergency" such as a terror attack at a nuclear power plant or something similar?
Nothing in the behavior of this Congress indicates that it is capable of significant resistance. Impeachment seems beyond it. Nor does it seem Congress would actually remove Bush if it did put him on trial.
Short of that, Bush clearly does not view anything Congress might do as a meaningful impediment. After all, how many divisions does the Congress command?
The Supreme Court, as currently constituted, would almost certainly rubber stamp a Bush coup. If not, like Jackson, he could ignore it as easily as he would ignore Congress.
What does that leave? There is much idle speculation now about what the armed forces would do. We also hear loose talk about "90 million gun owners."
From the public side, the only conceivable counterforce might be a national strike or an effective long-term campaign of general non-cooperation.
But we can certainly assume the mainstream media will give lock-step support to whatever the regime says and does. It's also a given that those like to lead the resistance will immediately land in those new prisons being built by Halliburton et al.
So how do we cope with the harsh realities of such a Bush/Cheney/Rove dictatorial coup?
We may have about a year to prepare. Every possible scenario needs to be discussed in excruciating detail.
For only one thing is certain: denial will do nothing.
Harvey Wasserman's History of the United States is at http://www.solartopia.org/, along with Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030. The Fitrakis Files are at http://www.freepress.org/ (where this piece was originally published) along with How The GOP Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008, which Bob and Harvey co-wrote.
Ohio 2004 Election Travesty: 56 of 88 county voting records destroyed!
sent by TruthisAll
Despite a federal judge’s order to preserve all ballots from the 2004 presidential election, nearly 1.6 million ballots and election records in 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties were lost, shredded or dumped. Here is a 2000-2004 voting analysis of the counties: http://us.share.geocities.com/electionmodel/TruthIsAllFAQResponse.htm#Ohio
Cheney statue toppled
Cheney's neighbors topple his effigy during protest
08/13/2007 @ 8:30 amFiled by David Edwards and Nick Juliano
Hundreds of anti-war activists gathered near Dick Cheney's home at an exclusive Wyoming country club to protest the vice president's role in leading the US into Iraq.
Chanting, "No more Iraq war," and "Impeach Cheney first," protesters gathered outside the Teton Pines Country Club, where Cheney typically spends the month-long August recess. They brought along a 10-foot-tall paper-mache sculpture that featured Cheney holding a fishing poll in one hand and an oil well in the other.
"We organized it because of the war in Iraq and what an injustice it has been," Walt Farmer, a retired Air Force captain and registered Republican, told the Casper Star Tribune. "The Vice President has received a pass in Jackson long enough. We want to let them know we don't approve of the war or how they play fast and loose with the Constitution."
Protesters carried signs that said "Bush-Cheney, War Profiteers," "Feel safe yet? Violence breeds violence," and "At least the war on the middle class is going well," the Tribune reported.
One of the protesters, Cindy Knight, said she has a son in the military and came to voice displeasure with the administration's war policy. Knight's son has served in Afghanistan.
"I don't want him to lose his life in the Iraq war," Knight told the Tribune.
Smith, Walden, Klamath water, and more
Smith got in bad when he was hooked into helping Bush and Cheney's election back in the early 2000s. He played heavily to the farmer-rancher voters—he already had support since he's been in agri-business for years. Now he's vulnerable, as records of party maneuvering are being exposed. Gordon Smith, Mr Clean, has turned out to be just another party hack.
But overlooked, mostly, in all of this, has been Oregon's 2nd District Representative, Greg Walden. The 2nd District is big: it's everything east of the Cascades, with a chunk of south-west Oregon thrown in. It's elected Republican ranch-friendly reps as long as I can remember. One of them was an utter wing-nut who embarrassed the party almost as much as Watergate—Wes Cooley—but since then, the party has relied either on war-horses like Bob Smith or family-oriented business men like Greg Walden. Walden is far to the right of Gordon Smith: one of the conservative property rights groups gives him a 100% rating, while Smith only received 67%.
The Klamath Forest Alliance has a good rundown on all of this. Worth reading.
Military intervention is public life....anyone remember Cromwell?
Anyhow, I think this is coming. And this piece, from the Australian Trots, is worth reading in full.
World Socialist Web Site www.wsws.org
Australian High Court radically expands scope of military power
Judges sanction “control order” on Jack Thomas
By Mike Head
13 August 2007
Australia’s High Court on August 2 upheld the constitutional validity of a “control order” imposed on a Melbourne worker, Jack Thomas, sanctioning one of the central features of the 2005 Anti-Terrorism Act.
The ruling in Thomas v Mowbray has serious implications for fundamental legal and democratic rights. In effect, by a 5 to 2 majority, the court has legitimated the police-state measures, including detention without trial, that the Howard government and its state Labor counterparts have introduced since 2002 on the pretext of protecting ordinary people from terrorism.
In doing so, Australia’s supreme court has for the first time condoned the extension of the federal government’s “defence power” under the Constitution beyond war and external threats. Members of the court said the power, which was used in World Wars I and II to rule by executive decree and round up thousands of people regarded as threats to the war effort, could be invoked to combat not only terrorism but other internal “disturbances”.
Several state Labor governments intervened in the case to defend their own identical control order provisions, which were introduced as part of the 2005 federal-state package of “anti-terrorism” laws. Their support for the Howard government’s position underscores the bipartisan nature of the assault on basic civil liberties.
Thomas was subjected to the control order last August, just a week after a three-member panel of the Victorian Court of Appeal unanimously overturned his conviction on a charge of receiving money from a terrorist group, on the grounds that he had been tortured to obtain a confession. Without any notice, let alone allowing Thomas the right to object, a federal magistrate granted the interim 12-month order in a secret “ex parte” hearing conducted on a Sunday.
Even though he has not been convicted of any offence, the order deprived Thomas of the basic freedoms of movement and communication. He must remain in his house from midnight to 5 a.m. every day, and report to police three times a week. He cannot leave Australia, use any telephone or email service not approved by the Australian Federal Police, or communicate with specified individuals. A breach of these conditions could mean imprisonment for five years.
The order—personally sought by Attorney-General Philip Ruddock—demonstrates how the “anti-terror” powers can and will be used for political purposes. In this case, the Howard government has used them to reverse the humiliating setback it suffered when the charges against Thomas were dismissed.
Control orders can be imposed without any evidence of terrorist activity. The attorney-general only has to state that the order would “substantially assist in preventing” an unspecified “terrorist act”, or that the person received training from an officially-declared “terrorist organisation”, and the order is “reasonably necessary” to protect the public from a terrorist act.
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved
Brutality at church camp...in Texas, yah
And this outfit got government money?
Aug. 11, 2007, 2:45PM
Pastor accused of dragging girl behind his van
A trainer also faces charges in incident at boot camp
By JEORGE ZARAZUA
San Antonio Express-news
A San Antonio pastor and an employee of his Christian boot camp were arrested Friday on aggravated assault charges, accused of dragging a girl behind a van after she failed to keep up during a running exercise.
Investigators with the Nueces County Sheriff's Office arrested Charles E. Flowers, 46, shortly before noon at the Faith Outreach Center in northwest San Antonio, said Brad E. Bailey, a spokesman for the Schertz Police Department.
Bailey said boot camp trainer Stephanie Bassitt, 20, was later arrested without incident at her home in Kirby.
Flowers and Bassitt each were being held on $100,000 bail at the Nueces County Jail in Corpus Christi.
Exempt from regulation
Last year, Love Demonstrated Ministries reported private and government contributions totaling $314,673 to operate the boot camp, with nearly 89 percent of the costs, $278,549, going for salaries.
Associate pastors at the Faith Outreach Center couldn't be reached for comment Friday.
Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said it "appeared that this operation is probably exempt from our regulation."
He said for a camp to be licensed, it needed to operate longer than 11 weeks.
The camp in Nueces County only lasts 32 days.
What shall I do?
There're a lot of holes in our infrastructure—not just potholes in the streets, I want to say. We've got non-profit agencies hurting for money and labor, old people sitting alone watching endless re-runs of " People's Court," and children who are just plain lonely for somebody to hang out with. Worse comes to worse, you could even drop by one of the nursing homes and see if anyone wants to have a conversation...
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Walden eats reality sandwich
There are things that are clear: the president is an ass; the vice-president is a mean and scheming hypocrite, our foreign policy is worse than usual, and the domestic situation is abominable. We either make big political changes or the country is going to be a banana republic tin-horn dictatorship, run by a bunch of old white viagra junkies. The problem is just how we do this.
I guess by taking them on, one at a time. Right now, there’s a lot of pressure and momentum to get rid of Gordon Smith, our “junior” senator. He’s financially very clean and ethical; he is a strong if often covert supporter of the current regime. He’s socially conservative, a Mormon. Some years back, his son committed suicide and since then, Senator Smith has devoted a lot of effort and time getting funding for mental health programs into the federal budget.
There’s no way I can completely knock someone who’s increased funding to help the disturbed. Nor who has enlarged wilderness areas as he has. He’s fundamentally a good man. But he’s a high visibility target for the Democrats.
I’m an east-sider. I’m out here in the cowboy and cappucino country of central Oregon. Things don’t seem quite the way they do over in the Valley. This is typical: northern Californians see their state differently than southern California; the mountainous part of Montana has a different view than the wheat fields of the east—any good sized state with variations in geography and cultural patterns goes through the same thing. Since we’re all rather geo-centric we see our area as being more important than the other areas. That’s neither good nor bad, just the way it is.
This is the Second Congressional District of Oregon. Traditionally, we’re agriculture and logging. We still are, but less and less as retirees shuffle into our part of the state and the big trees get fewer and fewer. Imported crops due to globalization reduce the our agricultural base. Recreation is the big hope. But the old economics are strong, still. The fantasy of them is strong, I should say. Logging is never going to be a primary industry around here: there just isn’t the timer anymore. They cut down all the good stuff. One of the big timber outfits is now a huge “developer” of the region. Small towns are becoming bedroom communities—suburbs—of the larger cities (not that there are many of them). At the Crook County Fair, yesterday, we saw way more people in cowboy boots and Wrangler jeans than in Levis and athletic shoes. Never mind that the county seat has been invaded by Bend sub-dividers and new homes are planned all over the place; many more people own chain saws than kayaks; the old ways are hanging on. But the old ways are slipping into the fog of history.
Our congressional rep is Greg Walden. Walden is a conservative—not just socially, but politically as well. Gordon Smith will periodically vote against the Republican agenda; Walden would sooner have all his teeth pulled than do such a thing. And being a conservative, his environmental voting record is in the basement.
There’s a group over in Washington called the League of Private Property Voters. They are a collection of 600-plus grassroots organizations who all dislike government interference in what they can do with their property. They’re an offshoot of the Wise Use Movement of a few years back. Both the league and the wise use people are heavily subsidized by extractive industries like logging and mining, as well as receiving funds from conservative think tanks and big time conservative donors like Coors. The league keeps a list of “friends” and “enemies” and scores politicians by how they vote for things like wilderness areas, national parks, logging controls in national forests, mining on public lands—in fact on public lands in general. Many of the Wise Use Movement groups were involved in the Sagebrush Rebellion of a few years back, when ranchers and mining interests prohibited BLM staff from actually entering public lands. These guys were and are serious.
According to the “2003 Private Property Congressional Vote Index” here are some scores for various western politicians: Orrin Hatch, 100%, Larry Craig 100%, Tancredo, Pombo, Otter, Istook, Inohfe, and Rohrabacher also all scored 100%. So did Greg Walden. Gordon Smith, though, only scored 67%; Murkowsky and Stevens of Alaska fame, both came in at 78%.
You’ve got to be very conservative to be a “friend” of the private property/wise use folks. It’s like being a friend to the Montana Militia.
Loaded Orygun has a good piece on Walden’s involvement.
Walden: The pres "...same fervor with which he has attacked..."
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., whose district includes the Klamath Basin, said the president is demonstrating "that same resolve, the same fervor with which he has attacked terrorism."
In the meanwhile, though, I'm headed off for a late-season ceremony and I'll be away from this for a week, at least. We're leaving on Tuesday morning.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
We go to the fair...
The Oregon Farm Bureau supplied free pints of bottled water to everyone. We appreciated it: the shed was warm, dry and dusty. Imagine, the Farm Bureau. Thank you, folks!
Crook County still has a lot of agriculture, so there was a lot of young people's stock. Pretty small midway, a half-dozen rides, so you know it isn't a big-time production. That suits me just fine. Lots of farm and ranch families—most of the ranching is small scale, anymore, and part-time. Small ranchers just can't make it; the cost of land, too, means high payments, and it's harder and harder to get a place going. I don't think very many people can do it. I see big new homes on maybe forty acres with fancy horse barns and a covered arena, a few cows and some nice-looking horses...and there's not way a place like that can ever be self-sustaining. Hobby ranching. There was be a fortune in horses in this part of the state.
One hundred years ago, sheep were brought into central Oregon in huge numbers. Up until then it was all horses and cows. Prineville was home to a group known as the Central Oregon Sheep Shooters Association. There was a lot of hostility between sheep ranchers and the cattle and horse people. Competition for grazing. Thousands of sheep were killed by night riders, sheep-herders were intimidated and beaten.
The land still hasn't recovered from over-grazing. It maybe never will. Over east of Prineville. on one of the tributaries of the Crooked River is a stream named Camp Creek: it's been studied and parts of it have been rehabilitated, and it's famous in books on range management, conservation, resource stability, and greedy ranching. The photos on the web site are graphic. Still, the ranchers promote themselves as the real guardians of the open spaces of the west. Go over toward the town of John Day, along the south fork of the John Day river and the river-banks are naked and muddy, cows standing in the water, not a willow in sight, and god help any fish in there. I've been on the middle fork of the John Day, too, and it's the same scene. Nobody fences cattle out of the creeks and so the water is warm, muddy and fouled. Stewards of the land, uh-huh, guardians of nature...
But. The ranchers and farmers at the fair were happy and out-going. They treated us like one of their own. Nobody looked at my clothes or the way I am, or anything; they were open and friendly. That's the way it is: we're all in this together, but we're as often standing on opposite sides of a line as we are standing on the same side.
Is that or is it not a life lesson?
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Run! The Rhinos are in the race!
Obviously, I believe things could be better than they are. I’m hooked on potential, rather than reality. The world isn’t go to shape up because I think it should. I need to adopt a position that it's all a crock of shit. Maybe I'll see if this outfit wants to be an international party:
Rhino party escapes extinction to run in September byelection
Canadidate running on promise to rename the country Nantucket
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 7, 2007 | 2:07 PM ET
The Rhinoceros party is heading back into the political jungle by launching a $50-million lawsuit and making plans to run in its first Canadian election race in 17 years.
The party's president, Brian (Godzilla) Salmi, said Tuesday he will run as a Rhino in the Sept. 17 federal byelection in Montreal's Outremont riding.
Salmi, who has legally changed his name to Satan, is running on the promise to rename the country Nantucket if he's elected.
Salmi's venture into politics marks the first time a Rhino candidate has entered a federal race since Bryan Gold ran unsuccessfully for the Rhinos in the 1990 byelection in Beauséjour, N.B.
Salmi said Tuesday he has also filed a lawsuit in a Federal Court in Montreal, contesting the election reform law that stripped his party of its registered party status in 1993.
Given Salmi's new name, the lawsuit is filed as Satan versus Her Majesty The Queen.
The 1993 law Salmi is contesting stated that registered parties must run candidates in at least 50 ridings, at a cost of $1,000 per riding, to keep their status.
That rule was reversed in a new law passed in 2004 that said a party only had to run one candidate in a federal election or federal byelection to be considered registered.
Parties benefit from having registered status because it allows them to hand out tax receipts to their donors and have their party name listed beside their candidates' names on the election ballot.
The Rhino party formed in 1963 with a promise to keep none of its promises. The satirical party picked the rhinoceros as its mascot, claiming that rhinoceros, like politicians, are thick-skinned, slow moving and dim-witted.
The party last ran in a full federal election in 1988, fielding 74 candidates. None were elected.
Decline and fall
The adulation of Bill Clinton followed by the outraged shock at his human behavior sent up lots of warning flags. Public opinion was not all it was cracked up to be. Yes, even though Lincoln spoke warmly of the intelligence of the masses—fool some of the people all the time, all of the people some of the time, etc., etc.—I think he was wrong. The way the Bush-Cheney Junta carries on, without utter outrage on the part of the citizenry, and the number of idiotic supporters of this horrid war who continue to wave the bloody flag of blood-and-guts—I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the public really isn't too bright. I'm not even sure the public is particularly well-intentioned. Greedy, yes.
It seems to me there should be parades of people with torches, carrying barrels of tar and sacks of feathers, marching on the White House—hell, on the whole government—with the intent of clearing out the rascals that run things. That there aren't, that the government can do whatever the fuck it wants and there's hardly a whisper from the public: I don't think people give a shit.
If I post nothing else today, this quote of Charles Darwin should be enough.
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Meanwhile, back at Rancho Republicano
Another Republican got caught with his dick hanging out. In a “consensual” manner, of course. The national president of the Young Republicans got caught. Something about giving a guy a blow job.
Maybe one of the party wonks will get him a job in FEMA or somewhere...
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Canadians upset by Afghan heroin revival
Opium may be a more mixed bag. I’ve tried it for “recreational” purposes and enjoyed it. I used to enjoy smoking it mixed with hashish. I think it was called Nepalese finger hash. I used to write and draw while smoking it. That was a long time ago—the ‘60s through the early ‘70s. I never tried it to reduce pain.
So poppies aren’t all that bad. Like a lot of things, they can be used for good or for bad. Heroin use is generally bad. It’s a narcotic for the miserable, a soporiphic for the lonely, and I don’t know what else. It’s extremely addictive, definitely part of it’s bad side, yes. America and it’s pals, of course, spend millions upon millions of dollars trying to suppress illegal opium production. At least with one hand we’re spending the money. With the other hand, well, it’s a bit different.
During the Taliban’s rule of Afghanistan, the illicit opium crop was stamped out. Afghanistan did not contribute to the world market for heroin. Those Muslim bigots at least managed to squash the trade. We managed to wrestle the Afghan government away from them, thus making it safe for the farmers to again grow poppies. And we tolerate it.
We tolerate it because the Euro-American hold on Afghanistan is tenuous and we need all the allies we can get. Sort of like the poppies that grew in the Golden Triangle and got flown around by Air America: we needed the allies. The payoffs were nice, too, and we never knew who all got them. And, then, there was the wonderful free market for drugs known as Iran-Contra...
AFGHAN HEROIN A DIRECT THREAT TO CANADIANS: MOUNTIES
The RCMP has warned at least two federal agencies that Afghan heroin is
increasingly making its way to Canada and poses a direct threat to the
public, despite millions of dollars from Ottawa to fund the war-torn
country's counter-narcotics efforts, newly released documents reveal.
Monday, August 06, 2007
I just listened to their 5 p.m. station break. It's a recording of him doing the break.
My heart breaks once again.
The War on Drugs Exempts Afghanistan
Yes. It’s true. We’ve not only invaded Afghanistan and got trapped in a guerilla war that sends the Russians into laughing fits, but we’ve managed to restore opium as a cash crop. A world class cash crop. This is fucking idiocy.
America spends kajillions of dollars fighting “The War on Drugs” and, at the same time, is fighting a war that has so far created massive harvests of opium poppies. We’re against drugs around here, except not there, where we, well, we’re tacitly supporting drugs. Where do you suppose all that money will end up?
Afghanistan expects record poppy harvest
8/5/2007, 6:24 a.m. PT
By MATTHEW LEE
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Afghanistan will produce another record poppy harvest this year that cements its status as the world's near-sole supplier of the heroin source, yet a furious debate over how to reverse the trend is stalling proposals to cut the crop, U.S. officials say.
As President Bush prepares for weekend talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, divisions within the U.S. administration and among NATO allies have delayed release of a $475 million counternarcotics program for Afghanistan, where intelligence officials see growing links between drugs and the Taliban, the officials said.
U.N. figures to be released in September are expected to show that Afghanistan's poppy production has risen up to 15 percent since 2006 and that the country now accounts for 95 percent of the world's crop, 3 percentage points more than last year, officials familiar with preliminary statistics told The Associated Press.
But counterdrug proposals by some U.S. officials have met fierce resistance, including boosting the amount of forcible poppy field destruction in provinces that grow the most, officials said. The approach also would link millions of dollars in development aid to benchmarks on eradication; arrests and prosecutions of narcotraders, corrupt officials; and on alternative crop production.
Those ideas represent what proponents call an "enhanced carrot-and-stick approach" to supplement existing anti-drug efforts. They are the focus of the new $475 million program outlined in a 995-page report, the release of which has been postponed twice and may be again delayed due to disagreements, officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because parts of the report remain classified.
Counternarcotics agents at the State Department had wanted to release a 123-page summary of the strategy last month and then again last week, but were forced to hold off because of concerns it may not be feasible, the officials said.
Now, even as Bush sees Karzai on Sunday and Monday at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Md., a tentative release date of Aug. 9, timed to follow the meetings, appears in jeopardy. Some in the administration, along with NATO allies Britain and Canada, seek revisions that could delay it until at least Aug. 13, the officials said.
The program represents a 13 percent increase over the $420 million in U.S. counternarcotics aid to Afghanistan last year. It would adopt a bold new approach to "coercive eradication" and set out criteria for local officials to receive development assistance based on their cooperation, the officials said.
Although the existing aid, supplemented mainly by Britain and Canada and supported by the NATO force in Afghanistan, has achieved some results — notably an expected rise in the number of "poppy-free" provinces from six to at least 12 and possibly 16, mainly in the north — production elsewhere has soared, they said.
"Afghanistan is providing close to 95 percent of the world's heroin," the State Department's top counternarcotics official, Tom Schweich, said at a recent conference. "That makes it almost a sole-source supplier" and presents a situation "unique in world history."
Almost all the heroin from Afghanistan makes its way to Europe; most of the heroin in the U.S. comes from Latin America.
Afghanistan last year accounted for 92 percent of global opium production, compared with 70 percent in 2000 and 52 percent a decade earlier. The higher yields in Afghanistan brought world production to a record high of 7,286 tons in 2006, 43 percent more than in 2005.
A State Department inspector general's report released Friday noted that the counternarcotics assistance is dwarfed by the estimated $38 billion "street value" of Afghanistan's poppy crop, if all is converted to heroin, and said eradication goals were "not realistic."
Schweich, an advocate of the now-stalled plan, has argued for more vigorous eradication efforts, particularly in southern Helmand province, responsible for some 80 percent of Afghanistan's poppy production. It is where, he says, growers must be punished for ignoring good-faith appeals to switch to alternative, but less lucrative, crops.
"They need to be dealt with in a more severe way," he said at the conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "There needs to be a coercive element, that's something we're not going to back away from or shy away from."
But, in fact, many question whether this is the right approach with Afghanistan mired in poverty and in the throes of an insurgency run by the Taliban and residual al-Qaida forces.
Along with Britain, whose troops patrol Helmand, elements in the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Defense Department and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have expressed concern, saying that more raids will drive farmers with no other income to join extremists.
There is also skepticism about the incentives in the new strategy from those who believe development assistance should not be denied to local communities because of poppy growth, officials said.
Opponents argue that the benefits of such aid, new roads and other infrastructure, schools and hospitals, will themselves be powerful tools to combat the narcotrade once constructed.
One U.S. official said the plan was a good one but might take another year or two before it can be effectively introduced.
On the Net:
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/
State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs: http://www.state.gov/p/inl/
Audio link to comments on new strategy by acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Thomas Schweich at the Center for Strategic and International Studies: http://www.csis.org/component/option,com_csis_events/task,view/id,1350/
U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/index.html
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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