Sep 10

Under Surveillance

Granny Doc posted a Daily Kos Rec List diary about new surveillance on deck after the end of this month.  But surveillance is nothing new.  Big Brother was watching me back in the 1970s.  And lots of other people, too.  It’s certainly not pleasant, but one adapts to it.  And it has its funny moments, too.

Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about the subject of surveillance, in response to seeing the film The Lives of Others, recently released on video.

So, the purpose of this diary is mainly to get particular about surveillance.  Surely I’m not the only one around who’s been “watched”.  Perhaps, someone else has a tale to add.

Cross-posted

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle originated as a scientific concept, applying to electrons: Are they a particle, or are they a wave of energy?  Turns out the things you do to examine them aren’t neutral: The answer to the question influences the answer you get.  And so, we see it as applying to many things.  This movie reminds us that the process of secretly watching someone changes those doing the watching, too.  It’s a good one: definitely worth seeing.

Actor Ulrich Mühe stars in The Lives of Others, and the story touches very close to his own life experience:

He plays an agent of the Staatssicherheit, East Germany’s main security and intelligence organization. The role had particular resonance for him, who was under surveillance by the Stasi, being a noted theater actor. He later discovered that his then wife Jenny Gröllmann was registered as an informant during their marriage. Nevertheless, she had denied that allegation until her death.

In the movie, his character (Weisler) starts to emotionally identify with the people he’s spying on, and it changes him.  Ultimately, this systematic subversion of basic civility harms everyone, including the ones wielding the power.

Johnny Clegg and Savuka, in the very different context of South Africa, expressed a similar message in their song, Jericho:

For we are the prisoners
Of the prisoners we have taken

The visual on the following’s not great.  But just listen to their extraordinary Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World, and realize that the act of making this music was illegal in apartheid South Africa.  As good a sign as any that apartheid was too warped to survive.  But yet, such perverse exercises of power continue to crop up again and again throughout history.

In case you’re in the mood for more (and anybody not in a big hurry should be), this one has way better performance footage, and visuals more in synch with the spirit of the song.  Whenever I feel discouraged about anything, I can turn to the music of the struggle to overthrow apartheid, and get a little jolt of fortitude and enthusiasm.  These days, we could all do with a little more of that:

An aside: I’ve long thought the best hope for Iraq would be to bring in Mandela & de Klerk & Desmond Tutu.  Before the U.S. invasion, Iraq was a country with many similarities to South Africa.  Similar size and total population.  Similar 20% minority of the population brutally suppressing the rest.  Some of the South Africans who couldn’t pass muster in “Truth & Reconciliation” ended up as mercenaries in Iraq, with a notoriously brutal apartheid “interrogator” found dead there.  It’s now national law in South Africa that it’s citizens are forbidden from contracting in Iraq.  Enforcement?  Who knows?  But at least they went on record.

Big Brother IS Watching
Back in the 1970s, some of my neighbors were interviewed by the FBI, about me.  They were POed and wanted me to know about it.  The way they told it, they got offended with the questions pretty quickly and started asking questions instead of answering them.  (E.g. “Why do you think activism on the Left should be investigated?  Why don’t you go after someone violent like the Ku Klux Klan?”)  Nowaways, telling me about it would be illegal according to the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act.  That’s under challenge in the courts, and may well be struck down.  But even so, it would be naïve to expect wide ranging surveillance to stop anytime soon.  So times have changed for the worse.  Compared to the Nixon years, as John Dean reminds us all, regularly.

A few years later, I lived on-reservation in the household of a militant activist tribal head of government.  Well, within the original reservation boundaries.  The Puyallups had the bad luck to have a city (Tacoma) built on top of them, and most all the land alienated from native title.  In the early 70s, all they had left was half their cemetary (the state exercised emmient domain to remove the other half to build a highway.)  The Feds took back much of their reservation a little over 100 years ago, when something over 90% of their population were wiped out in a wave of epidemics: measles, smallpox, influenza.  So we were on-reservation, but in a semi-residential, semi-industrial, semi-marshland urban landscape.

Back to the truck:  For quite some time (was it months?), a bakery-truck sized vehicle parked out on the highway, across a vacant lot.  It had no markings, and out-of-state plates.  Every 8 hours two guys would drive up in a plain blue sedan, get in the truck.  A few minutes later,  two different guys would get out of the truck, get in that same sedan, and drive off.  They all carried lunchboxes.

We had a big household at the time.  One of those extended-family tribal houses where you joke about needing “bunk beds in the dining room”.  And, as it happened, there were four teenagers in the house then.  Kids with problems – big ones, like mom about to die from cancer, absent alcoholic father; parents in the middle of a disputatious divorce; stuff like that.  Teenagers tend to act out anyhow, and we had our share of routine boyfriend/girlfriend angst and the like.  (The gang shootings hadn’t started much back then, it’s a rougher town now.)

We used to laugh about the poor fool who got stuck listening to what went out over our telephone.

I mean, of course, it’s outrageous.  And whatever demons those kids were wrestling with should have been none of the federal government’s damned business.  Of course.  But still, you gotta laugh sometimes.  And we did.

Ever curious, I went out to offer the guys in the truck some coffee.  Some peculiar version of a “welcome wagon”.  I brought my camera, too.  But I couldn’t get them to answer my knocks on any of the truck’s windows and doors.  I did notice a very robust padlock on the back.  Decidedly not standard issue.

I guess they brought their own coffee.  Dontcha think?

I mean, nobody was building bombs or anything like that.  Well, nobody was building bombs anyhow.  But it was a militant bunch.  Our head of household, a matriarch and head of tribal government, had participated in a variety of building occupations, and generally brought friends and family along.  Notably, the “Trail of Broken Treaties” at the Bureau of Indian Affairs Headquarters in Washington, DC the fall of 1972.  There’s a lot of versions of that story, many of which claim credit for the occupation to the American Indian Movement (AIM).  But from everything I know, Suzan Shown Harjo gets the story right in Indian Country Today:

Indians were camped all over the building, busy with security and other tasks, but mostly reading documents. Everyone talked about the thick carpeting, leather couches and chairs, running water and indoor plumbing that were more comfortable and modern than most Indian homes.

Years later, I interviewed John Ehrlichman, after he had served time in prison for Watergate crimes. He had been Pres. Richard M. Nixon’s top domestic affairs aide and I asked about his Indian policy discussions with his old boss. He said there weren’t any. He could recall Nixon actually saying only one thing, during the occupation of the BIA building: “Get those goddamn Indians out of town.”

What was found in those documents pretty much confirmed every bad thing the activists of Survival of American Indians Association (Washington State mainly) and other groups who formed the 800 in the occupying force already knew.  But it was evidence.  SAIA also provided the 20-point manifesto whose author, Hank Adams, was chosen as lead negotiator for the militants.  Anyhow, the information brought to light from the mass assault on the BIA’s file cabinets helped in Indian Country, at least for awhile.

This 1972 action was a sequel to a similar “surprise party” at the Washington State Dept. of Game & Fish.  The way I was told, the occupiers there called up the Commissioner at his house on the weekend.  He didn’t like being called at home, and told them he’d be in his office Monday.  “OK – we’ll wait for you here till then.”  Whoops!  Just like at the Bureau, people like Hank Adams, Ramona Bennett and Suzette Mills spent their time speed reading in between negotiations with the authorities.

Those were wild days!!

And there were many other actions.  At its core was the NW Coast Salish tribes’ uncompromising position that they would not surrender their treaty-guaranteed right to fish for salmon at the “usual and accustomed places”.  And they won on that.  Sort of.  There’s still the problem of all the environmental harm that has brought many runs of salmon to the verge of extinction.  But still, a step in the right direction, because the tribes finally got a place at the table to advocate for protecting the fish.

Anyhow, keeping that kind of company, and even participates in the occasional occupation or other action oneself, one should not be so surprised to end up under surveillance.  And this is just what I knew about.  Who knows what else there’s been?

Did it go away for awhile, that surveillance, or did it continue all those years?  Can’t really know.  I’m guessing I had a hiatus, but would not be shocked if it hadn’t.  Our best defense is sheer volume.  Eventually, “they” will have so many enemies, they’ll be isolated.  (More than they already are.)  One does weary of these authoritarian creatures, rearing their ugly heads again and again over the decades.

Either way, it’s nothin’ new.  Certain disciplines are involved.  Assume that much of what you do isn’t as private as you’d like to think it is.  Certainly on-line!!

It Gets Silly Sometimes
Someone I knew was in the midwest during those years, someplace with lots of cornfields, living in a rented farmhouse.  As an active antiwar activist, she had her own detail of men in suits and shiny shoes (de rigeur for the FBI back then) following her around.  And, as it happened, she ran out of gas one day, and so was compelled to stop by the roadside.  And so did her spooks, a “discreet” half-mile back or so.  So she got out of her car, and traipsed back to ask them for help. Lookit, you’re not going to be able to follow me anywhere until I get some gas.  Would you mind helping? Eventually they did, but not till after the ritual denials that they were following her.

Lord love a duck!

Sep 10

Under Surveillance

Granny Doc posted a Daily Kos Rec List diary about new surveillance on deck after the end of this month.  But surveillance is nothing new.  Big Brother was watching me back in the 1970s.  And lots of other people, too.  It’s certainly not pleasant, but one adapts to it.  And it has its funny moments, too.

Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about the subject of surveillance, in response to seeing the film The Lives of Others, recently released on video.

So, the purpose of this diary is mainly to get particular about surveillance.  Surely I’m not the only one around who’s been “watched”.  Perhaps, someone else has a tale to add.

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle originated as a scientific concept, applying to electrons: Are they a particle, or are they a wave of energy?  Turns out the things you do to examine them aren’t neutral: The answer to the question influences the answer you get.  And so, we see it as applying to many things.  This movie reminds us that the process of secretly watching someone changes those doing the watching, too.  It’s a good one: definitely worth seeing.

Actor Ulrich Mühe stars in The Lives of Others, and the story touches very close to his own life experience:

He plays an agent of the Staatssicherheit, East Germany’s main security and intelligence organization. The role had particular resonance for him, who was under surveillance by the Stasi, being a noted theater actor. He later discovered that his then wife Jenny Gröllmann was registered as an informant during their marriage. Nevertheless, she had denied that allegation until her death.

In the movie, his character (Weisler) starts to emotionally identify with the people he’s spying on, and it changes him.  Ultimately, this systematic subversion of basic civility harms everyone, including the ones wielding the power.

Johnny Clegg and Savuka, in the very different context of South Africa, expressed a similar message in their song, Jericho:

For we are the prisoners
Of the prisoners we have taken

The visual on the following’s not great.  But just listen to their extraordinary Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World, and realize that the act of making this music was illegal in apartheid South Africa.  As good a sign as any that apartheid was too warped to survive.  But yet, such perverse exercises of power continue to crop up again and again throughout history.

In case you’re in the mood for more (and anybody not in a big hurry should be), this one has way better performance footage, and visuals more in synch with the spirit of the song.  Whenever I feel discouraged about anything, I can turn to the music of the struggle to overthrow apartheid, and get a little jolt of fortitude and enthusiasm.  These days, we could all do with a little more of that:

An aside: I’ve long thought the best hope for Iraq would be to bring in Mandela & de Klerk & Desmond Tutu.  Before the U.S. invasion, Iraq was a country with many similarities to South Africa.  Similar size and total population.  Similar 20% minority of the population brutally suppressing the rest.  Some of the South Africans who couldn’t pass muster in “Truth & Reconciliation” ended up as mercenaries in Iraq, with a notoriously brutal apartheid “interrogator” found dead there.  It’s now national law in South Africa that it’s citizens are forbidden from contracting in Iraq.  Enforcement?  Who knows?  But at least they went on record.

Big Brother IS Watching
Back in the 1970s, some of my neighbors were interviewed by the FBI, about me.  They were POed and wanted me to know about it.  The way they told it, they got offended with the questions pretty quickly and started asking questions instead of answering them.  (E.g. “Why do you think activism on the Left should be investigated?  Why don’t you go after someone violent like the Ku Klux Klan?”)  Nowaways, telling me about it would be illegal according to the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act.  That’s under challenge in the courts, and may well be struck down.  But even so, it would be naïve to expect wide ranging surveillance to stop anytime soon.  So times have changed for the worse.  Compared to the Nixon years, as John Dean reminds us all, regularly.

A few years later, I lived on-reservation in the household of a militant activist tribal head of government.  Well, within the original reservation boundaries.  The Puyallups had the bad luck to have a city (Tacoma) built on top of them, and most all the land alienated from native title.  In the early 70s, all they had left was half their cemetary (the state exercised emmient domain to remove the other half to build a highway.)  The Feds took back much of their reservation a little over 100 years ago, when something over 90% of their population were wiped out in a wave of epidemics: measles, smallpox, influenza.  So we were on-reservation, but in a semi-residential, semi-industrial, semi-marshland urban landscape.

Back to the truck:  For quite some time (was it months?), a bakery-truck sized vehicle parked out on the highway, across a vacant lot.  It had no markings, and out-of-state plates.  Every 8 hours two guys would drive up in a plain blue sedan, get in the truck.  A few minutes later,  two different guys would get out of the truck, get in that same sedan, and drive off.  They all carried lunchboxes.

We had a big household at the time.  One of those extended-family tribal houses where you joke about needing “bunk beds in the dining room”.  And, as it happened, there were four teenagers in the house then.  Kids with problems – big ones, like mom about to die from cancer, absent alcoholic father; parents in the middle of a disputatious divorce; stuff like that.  Teenagers tend to act out anyhow, and we had our share of routine boyfriend/girlfriend angst and the like.  (The gang shootings hadn’t started much back then, it’s a rougher town now.)

We used to laugh about the poor fool who got stuck listening to what went out over our telephone.

I mean, of course, it’s outrageous.  And whatever demons those kids were wrestling with should have been none of the federal government’s damned business.  Of course.  But still, you gotta laugh sometimes.  And we did.

Ever curious, I went out to offer the guys in the truck some coffee.  Some peculiar version of a “welcome wagon”.  I brought my camera, too.  But I couldn’t get them to answer my knocks on any of the truck’s windows and doors.  I did notice a very robust padlock on the back.  Decidedly not standard issue.

I guess they brought their own coffee.  Dontcha think?

I mean, nobody was building bombs or anything like that.  Well, nobody was building bombs.  But it was a militant bunch.  Our head of household, a matriarch and head of tribal government, had participated in a variety of building occupations, and generally brought friends and family along.  Notably, the “Trail of Broken Treaties” at the Bureau of Indian Affairs Headquarters in Washington, DC the fall of 1972.  There’s a lot of versions of that story, many of which claim credit for the occupation to the American Indian Movement (AIM).  But from everything I know, Suzan Shown Harjo gets the story right in Indian Country Today:

Indians were camped all over the building, busy with security and other tasks, but mostly reading documents. Everyone talked about the thick carpeting, leather couches and chairs, running water and indoor plumbing that were more comfortable and modern than most Indian homes.

Years later, I interviewed John Ehrlichman, after he had served time in prison for Watergate crimes. He had been Pres. Richard M. Nixon’s top domestic affairs aide and I asked about his Indian policy discussions with his old boss. He said there weren’t any. He could recall Nixon actually saying only one thing, during the occupation of the BIA building: “Get those goddamn Indians out of town.”

What was found in those documents pretty much confirmed every bad thing the activists of Survival of American Indians Association (Washington State mainly) and other groups who formed the 800 in the occupying force already knew.  But it was evidence.  They also provided the 20-point manifesto whose author, Hank Adams, was chosen as lead negotiator for the militants.  Anyhow, the information brought to light from the mass assault on the BIA’s file cabinets helped in Indian Country, at least for awhile.

This 1972 action was a sequel to a similar “surprise party” at the Washington State Dept. of Game & Fish.  The way I was told, the occupiers there called up the Commissioner at his house on the weekend.  He didn’t like being called at home, and told them he’d be in his office Monday.  “OK – we’ll wait for you here till then.”  Whoops!  Just like at the Bureau, people like Hank Adams, Ramona Bennett and Suzette Mills spent their time speed reading in between negotiations with the authorities.

Those were wild days!!

And there were many other actions.  At its core was the NW Coast Salish tribes’ uncompromising position that they would not surrender their treaty-guaranteed right to fish for salmon at the “usual and accustomed places”.  And they won on that.  Sort of.  There’s still the problem of all the environmental harm that has brought many runs of salmon to the verge of extinction.  But still, a step in the right direction, because the tribes finally got a place at the table to advocate for protecting the fish.

Anyhow, keeping that kind of company, and even participates in the occasional occupation or other action oneself, one should not be so surprised to end up under surveillance.  And this is just what I knew about.  Who knows what else there’s been?

Did it go away for awhile, that surveillance, or did it continue all those years?  Can’t really know.  I’m guessing I had a hiatus, but would not be shocked if it hadn’t.  Our best defense is sheer volume.  Eventually, “they” will have so many enemies, they’ll be isolated.  (More than they already are.)  One does weary of these authoritarian creatures, rearing their ugly heads again and again over the decades.

Either way, it’s nothin’ new.  Certain disciplines are involved.  Assume that much of what you do isn’t as private as you’d like to think it is.  Certainly on-line!!

It Gets Silly Sometimes
Someone I knew was in the midwest during those years, someplace with lots of cornfields, living in a rented farmhouse.  As an active antiwar activist, she had her own detail of men in suits and shiny shoes (de rigeur for the FBI back then) following her around.  And, as it happened, she ran out of gas one day, and so was compelled to stop by the roadside.  And so did her spooks, a “discreet” half-mile back or so.  So she got out of her car, and traipsed back to ask them for help. Lookit, you’re not going to be able to follow me anywhere until I get some gas.  Would you mind helping? Eventually they did, but not till after the ritual denials that they were following her.

Lord love a duck!

Sep 10

GBCW!

That’s right, I am threatening never to blog again!!!

Ever!

Are you listening Universe??? Are you trembling in fear from my intense but half-hearted blackmail?

If you don’t get the electricity hooked up at my house today all bets are off!

And I think we know who is more powerful here….so, Universe……Pal….if you ever want to read another buhdy diary, you better get on the stick and rearrange the time space continuum to make SURE I get power today or else….

Or else….or I will….

Well, whatever I do next it won’t be pretty! I know you want me to blog, so I will leave it at that threat for now, even I don’t have the guts to threaten you with the ugly spectacle of a middle aged hippie blogger holding his breath til he turns blue….WHILE jumping up and down and…..

Whoa!

That worked!!!

My cel just rang and my property manager guy says there isNO DOUBT that I will get hooked up today!!!

On Friday, he only said it was a sure thing….so this is it! The crew will be at my house when I get home…I can call he satellite guy and he will come today or tomorrow and everything will be set for the launch!

Unless I just jinxed the whole thing!

I must say, I am impressed with myself immensely….I must be a REALLY good blogger to have the Universe instantly comply with my threat like that!

What else do I have to say before heading home and pacing expectantly?

Let’s see, we apparently have our first real I/P diary and no blood is leaking from my laptop!

We are over a hundred users….though looking at the last user name registered we might have our first “interesting” user, going by the handle ‘Big Tantrum Diaperpants’ does not bode well for thoughtful conversation….or is that just my paranoia? I think I will keep an eye out just in case!

Sorry LOE but I like OPOL’s version better….but hold onto yours….I think we should have a contest after the first couple of weeks with the FP poll deciding the winner.

Ok, I will stop yammering and post this, hang out for a while and read here….BECAUSE WITHOUT POWER i CAN NOT EVEN EFFECTIVELY READ MY OWN WEBSITE….oops…didn’t mean to yell there Universe….sorry. And if the power does come on today…thankyouverymuch!!! Then at least I can write!!! As well as take some essays home with me!!!

If not…….ooooh, You are in SUCH big trouble, you Universe you!

Sep 10

The Myth About the Anbar Awakening

( – promoted by exmearden)

The obvious interpretation of the decision, made by Sunni leaders in Anbar province, to fight the most nihlistically violent factions of the insurgency, rather than fight the occupation forces, is that the presence of the occupation forces delayed the decision. 

Further, the fact that this “Anbar Awakening” (or “Sunni Awakening”) occured about six months before General Petraeus and “the Surge” arrived on the scene, shows that we really aren’t doing any good over there; not even by accident.

McClatchy so often provides the not-so-little, overlooked detail:

The tribal rebellion against al Qaida in Iraq began in September 2006, well before the surge was even contemplated. That’s when tribal leaders, fed up with al Qaida in Iraq’s attacks on moderate Sunnis and its efforts to impose strict Islamic fundamentalism, formed the Anbar Salvation Council to battle the group.

Tribal sheik Fassal Gaoud, a former Anbar governor, told McClatchy Newspapers in June that the tribes previously had asked for U.S. help in attacking the group, but had been rebuffed. By the time U.S. troops began working with the tribes, the battle against al Qaida was well under way. Gaoud, however, was killed in a bombing at the Mansour Melia hotel in central Baghdad in July in the midst of the U.S. surge.

“We did in three months what they couldn’t do in four years,” Ali Hatam Ali al Suleiman, another tribal leader, told McClatchy in June.

While Bush takes credit for what Sunnis did despite his refusal to help them, the real focus of the escalation, Baghdad, remains a blood-soaked nightmare, in which violence is down, if at all, only because there are fewer people left to kill.

There’s little evidence that Baghdad residents are feeling safer and returning to homes they’d fled, said Dana Graber Ladek of the International Organization for Migration, which tracks refugee movements. Of an estimated 1 million Iraqis who’ve fled their homes since February 2006, 83 percent are from Baghdad, the IOM says.

“There have been very few returns,” Ladek said. Those that have come back have done so only briefly to gather belongings. “They are waiting for long-term stability.”

Bush focused his forces on Baghdad.  Anbar province gains a modicum of success.  Bush claims victory in Anbar.  But: if Bush had focused on Anbar, the success might well have been in Baghdad.  Locals get their affairs in order in the absence of occupiers, not with their help.  This ought to be a truism.

Nevermind.  It’s been decided: the Sunni Awakening in Anbar province is now a sign of General Petraeus’s genius.  According to this fairy tale, the only problem left to be addressed is that it might be hard for Americans to do the same thing in other parts of Iraq as they so clearly did in Anbar. 

LA Times reports:

“It’s not exporting this model here that will solve Iraq’s problems,” [Maj. Jeff Pool, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Anbar] said. “It’s local leaders elsewhere finding out what works in their areas.”

That requires local leaders to join forces as Anbar’s leaders have done, but this will be challenging in areas that are not as homogenous and don’t face the singular threat that galvanized Anbar’s sheiks: the influence of Islamic militant groups claiming allegiance to Al Qaeda in Iraq.

“It’s harder for them to buy into the idea of working with the coalition in other areas because they have other threats: Shiite threats, Kurdish influence,” said Maj. Ed Sullivan, who is on his second deployment in Anbar. He was first here in 2004-05.

But at no point did the folks in Anbar “buy into the idea of working with the coalition”.  It was their idea in the first place.  The “coalition” rebuffed them for making the first offer, so they did it on their own. 

We have two things which seem, and are, contradictory.  (1) The tacit admission that peace, when it comes, will have nothing to do with American actions (“local leaders elsewhere finding out what works”) combined with (2) the myth that what “worked” this time, in Anbar, was “working with the coalition”.

The point, to finally come to it, is that these events are most naturally interpreted as showing that the American occupation of Iraq is slowing down progress.

The Sunnis in Anbar province had to make a tough choice: whether to fight alongside the most indiscrimiately violent factions of the insurgency (named “al Qaeda in Iraq” for those in need of shorthand) against the occupying forces, or to fight against those violent factions instead of the occupying forces.  The upshot, of course, is that in the absence of occupying foreces, that choice would in all likelyhood have come sooner and more easily.

The Myth of the Anbar Awakening, then, is that the folks in Anbar were ever asleep in the first place.

I will be very happy if someone in Congress points this out to General Petraeus this week, during the hearings.

(Crossposted at DailyKos.)

Sep 10

(Update!) Historic Vote: U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on September 13th

(Highlighting this essay again for a wider audience – Today is vote day in the general assembly. Here are some of the few countries who sadly may oppose adopting this declaration: Canada, US, Australia. – promoted by exmearden)

(Front Paged, September 13, 2007, 12 AM PDT)

The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be voted on September 13th.

Here’s a petition for it, please sign it.

“We reaffirm our commitment to continue making progress in the advancement of the human rights of the world’s indigenous peoples at the local, national, regional and international levels, including through consultation and collaboration with them, and to present for adoption a final draft United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples as soon as possible.”

If the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples fails in light of all present circumstances, it will be an out-and-out de-affirmation
of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in my opinion of these general principles of human dignity.

Crossposted at Progressive Historians

http://www.unhchr.ch…(Symbol)/E.CN.4.SUB.2.RES.1994.45.En

DRAFT UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Affirming that indigenous peoples are equal in dignity and rights to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such,

Affirming also that all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind,

Affirming further that all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin, racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust,

Reaffirming also that indigenous peoples, in the exercise of their rights, should be free from discrimination of any kind,

(Information regarding the current draft is given in the first link)

Indigenous People have been labeled “savages” and considered to be satanic, all which boils down to dehumanization; consequently, excuses for land encroachment and land theft. The Declaration would help change that. The most basic question of all seems to finally be this.

Are Indigenous People whose ancestors were the victims of genocide and who still suffer from its effects human beings, or are they not human beings?  Simply put, that is to me what will be “voted on.” How sad that in this day and age this still needs such a “vote.” If they vote yes, they’re human beings; if they vote no, they’re less than human. To be clear, “they” who in the U.S. alone?

Alphabetical List of Federally Recognized Native American Tribes

This page not only lists all the federally recognized tribes of Native Americans, but also has links from those tribes for their official websites, stories and legends, books, photographs and artwork. This is a work very much in progress and will take a long while to complete [unless you all help with this resource].

Included today, which should be seriously considered and remembered, are all of the American Indians who are not living today, because of the Forced Sterilizations of Indigenous Women (Updated).

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

sterilizations in the 70’s

The following is a copy of an article by Joan Burnes which appeared in the Lakota Times last August 24th (1994).

– snip –

Emery A. Johnson, then-director of the IHS, told a congressional committee in 1975 that IHS “considered non-therapeutic sterilization a legitimate method of family planning… We are not aware of any instance in which such services
have been abused.”

This is a matter of heart and conscience to me. If it fails, it will be at minimum a travesty and another excuse for “business as usual” with Indigenous People and their respective sovereignty. Well this time – may Manifest Destiny lose.


Manifest Destiny loses today; now we can help it continue to unravel!

[Update]:

Thanks to melvin in the comments for catching the fact that it PASSED!

Jubilation as UN approves indigenous peoples declaration

Indigenous peoples around the world are today celebrating the UN General Assembly’s approval of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration was approved by an overwhelming majority in an historic vote in New York today.

The vote is the climax of 22 years of intensive debate and negotiation. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States voted against the declaration, whilst 143 nations voted in favour and eleven abstained.
13 September 2007

Sep 10

The Morning News

From Yahoo News THE TOP STORY

Sharif deported from Pakistan
By ZARAR KHAN, Associated Press Writer
2 minutes ago

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was deported Monday hours after he had landed in Pakistan from seven years in exile hoping to campaign against the country’s U.S.-allied military ruler, officials said.

About four hours after he arrived on a flight from London, Sharif was taken into custody and charged with corruption, but then quickly spirited to another plane and flown out of Pakistan toward Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, an intelligence official said.

An official in President Gen. Musharraf’s office confirmed Sharif was deported but did not divulge his destination.

Our most important ally in the Global War On Radical Islam (or whatever they’re calling it today).  You know, the one with THE BOMB AND Bin Laden.

The Second Story from Yahoo News

Pentagon planning base near Iraq-Iran border: report
Reuters
1 hour, 30 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Pentagon is preparing to build a military base near the Iraq-Iran border to try to curtail the flow of advanced Iranian weaponry to Shiite militants across Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday in its online edition.

Quoting Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, the Journal said the Pentagon also plans to build fortified checkpoints on major highways leading from the Iranian border to Baghdad, and install X-ray machines and explosives-detecting sensors at the only formal border crossing between the two countries.

The base will be located about four miles from the Iranian border and will be used for at least two years, according to the report. U.S. officials told the paper it is unclear whether it will be among the small number of facilities that would remain in Iraq after any future large-scale U.S. withdrawal.

Khe Sahn.  Remember when Godwin frowned on Iraq/Vietnam parallels?

From Yahoo News World

Japan PM Abe’s job at stake as parliament meets
By Linda Sieg, Reuters
46 minutes ago

TOKYO (Reuters) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began the toughest battle of his political life in a parliament session that opened on Monday after staking his job on extending Japan’s naval mission in support of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan.

“The military personnel who are silently doing service on the scorching Indian Ocean embody Japan’s international contribution sought by the world,” Abe said in a policy speech to parliament.

“Can we really pull out now and abandon our responsibility to the international community?”

Iraqi PM Maliki expected to go on defensive
By Waleed Ibrahim, Reuters
33 minutes ago

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will address parliament on Monday just hours before American officials deliver a vital progress report on Iraq that could influence future U.S. strategy on the war.

An official in Maliki’s office and officials at parliament said the Shi’ite prime minister would appear before lawmakers. The session opens around midday (0800 GMT), although it was unclear precisely when Maliki would speak.

Maliki is expected to defend his government’s record in the face of blistering criticism from both Iraqi and U.S. lawmakers. Some opposition Democratic legislators in the United States have even called for him to be replaced.

UN atomic agency to meet with ElBaradei urging patience
by Michael Adler, AFP
Mon Sep 10, 12:45 AM ET

VIENNA (AFP) – UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei will brush aside US criticism when his IAEA meets Monday and call for worried nations to wait and see if new inspections show whether Tehran seeks the bomb.

The International Atomic Energy Agency will be hearing an ElBaradei report backing a timetable agreed last month for Iran to answer outstanding questions over its nuclear programme.

ElBaradei has come under fire for his approach as some Western diplomats have said the timetable gives Iran the chance to stave off the threat of new UN sanctions for a few more months.

Al-Sadr overhauling his Shiite militia
By HAMZA HENDAWI and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writers
1 hour, 27 minutes ago

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s most powerful Shiite militia leader is turning to his commanders who distinguished themselves fighting U.S. troops in 2004 to screen fighters, weed out criminals and assume key positions in an effort to build a more disciplined force, two of his key lieutenants say.

That suggests the goal of Muqtada al-Sadr’s temporary freeze of Mahdi Army activities, announced Aug. 29 following deadly Shiite-Shiite clashes in Karbala, is to bolster the militia to intimidate his Shiite rivals as the anti-American cleric pursues his political ambitions.

A stronger and more efficient Mahdi Army could embolden al-Sadr to take on the rival Badr militia, a move that could fragment and weaken the country’s majority Shiites as gunmen battle for control of Shiite towns and cities.

From Yahoo News U.S.

Britney Spears earns scorn for MTV performance
By Dean Goodman, Reuters
Sun Sep 9, 11:43 PM ET

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Britney Spears launched her highly anticipated comeback at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, drawing ridicule by dressing up as a stripper and miming her new single.

The 25-year-old singer, whose professional achievements have been overshadowed by her personal crises in recent years, performed “Gimme More” in a black sequined bikini and knee-high boots.

No longer boasting the buff body that helped drive her to international superstardom almost a decade ago, the mother of two moved sluggishly around the stage at the Palms casino, often with the support of a troupe of dancers. At one point, the camera panned to rapper 50 Cent, sitting in the audience, who looked bewildered by the action on stage.

Petraeus to argue against big Iraq troop cuts
By Susan Cornwell, Reuters
Mon Sep 10, 12:46 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a report considered crucial to U.S. strategy in the highly unpopular war in Iraq, the top U.S. commander there is expected to tell Congress on Monday that U.S. troop levels should not be cut deeply.

The assessment by Gen. David Petraeus could be a turning point in the conflict and is considered vital to any decisions by President George W. Bush on force levels as he faces demands from Democrats and some senior Republicans for U.S. troops to start leaving Iraq.

A U.S. official who asked not to be named said on Sunday that Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will argue that a major pullout of U.S. forces would hurt progress made since troop numbers were increased by 30,000 earlier this year.

Gasoline prices rise for first time since July
Reuters
Sun Sep 9, 6:02 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The average retail price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States cost about 6.5 cents more last week, rising for the first time since early July on the back of higher crude oil prices, an industry analyst said on Sunday.

The most recent increase was due to a rise in crude oil prices ahead of this week’s OPEC meeting, but prices will likely remain steady in the coming weeks because there is still ample supply, Lundberg said.

“It is crude oil that ended the price slide at the pump and turned it upward,” Lundberg said. “The supports behind crude oil are world demand and OPEC, which is expected to retain its hard line with a no change in official output” at its September 11 meeting.

Democratic presidential hopefuls hold TV debate in Spanish
by Juan Castro Olivera, AFP
1 hour, 8 minutes ago

MIAMI (AFP) – In a dramatic sign of the fast-changing US society, the US Democratic presidential hopefuls late Sunday held a debate in Spanish that was broadcast on the main US Spanish-language television network.

Seven presidential candidates were at the historic event, including the three front runners, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former South Carolina Senator John Edwards. Senator Joe Biden, who just returned from Iraq, was absent.

Moderators from the Univision network asked questions in Spanish and the candidates, wearing earpieces, heard a translation in English. The answers were given in English and translated into Spanish for viewers.

From Yahoo News Politics

Bush, officials pass buck over who ordered Iraq army disbanded
by Sig Christenson, AFP
Sun Sep 9, 5:47 PM ET

SAN ANTONIO, United States (AFP) – As General David Petraeus prepares to tell Congress that a troop surge has helped tamp down Iraq’s civil war, Washington is in buck-passing mode over who made the decision many say is at the root of the instability: disbanding the Iraqi army.

Former secretary of state Colin Powell says no one told him about it, and that then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was in the dark too.

President George W. Bush says he thought the army would be kept intact after the US-led invasion in March 2003, but concedes to having a fuzzy memory on the matter.

Bush heads home for Iraq battle
by Olivier Knox, AFP
Sun Sep 9, 1:26 AM ET

SYDNEY (AFP) – US President George W. Bush headed home Sunday after leaving an Asia-Pacific summit a day early to marshal his forces for this week’s pitched US political battle over the unpopular war in Iraq.

Bush is expected to make a formal speech to the war-weary US public to insist progress is being made and they should rally behind his strategy.

On his final day here, he seized on a new video from terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, who called for escalating the insurgency in Iraq, to argue that if the Al-Qaeda chief thinks Iraq is important, so should the US public.

US report calls for Iraq exit in five years
AFP
Sun Sep 9, 2:50 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States should halve its military presence in Iraq within three years and completely pull out within five years, the latest US report on the war-scarred country said Sunday.

Only then will Iraq’s government, which has so far been a “disappointment,” take on its own security responsibilities to rebuild the nation, the report by the United States Institute of Peace said.

“The United States faces too many challenges around the world to continue its current level of effort in Iraq, or even the deployment that was in place before the surge,” the report said.

From Yahoo News Opinion

Six years later, terror war leaves unfinished business
USAToday
Mon Sep 10, 12:22 AM ET

The release of a new Osama bin Laden videotape generated breathless analysis of everything from the color of his beard to his crackpot commentary on U.S. politics, global warming and the troubled housing market.

The true importance of the tape, however, is as a reminder of unfinished business in the war against bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terror group. As the nation prepares to mark on Tuesday the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, al-Qaeda has mounted a dismaying rebound from its post-9/11 setbacks.

Bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, remain at large and in touch with current events. Al-Qaeda has reconstituted its central leadership and found a new sanctuary in Pakistan to replace the one it lost in Afghanistan. It remains committed to hitting the United States again.

From Google News U.S.

Rove Replacement Seen as Highly Partisan Go-Getter
By Michael Abramowitz, The Washington Post
Monday, September 10, 2007; Page A13

While President Bush was in Australia last week, the White House completed the divvying-up of Karl Rove’s sizable and important portfolio.

Rove’s longtime deputy Barry Jackson is taking over management of the four offices Rove supervised (political affairs, intergovernmental relations, public liaison and strategic initiatives), while new White House counselor Ed Gillespie will assume Rove’s more amorphous role of providing Bush broader strategic advice — with an assist from Jackson and communications chief Kevin Sullivan.

Jackson is one of those Washington worker bees who is virtually unknown outside the White House fence but is well-regarded inside. Early in the Bush presidency, he coordinated the so-called Strategery Group, the senior officials who met regularly for long-term planning under Rove’s auspices.

Remember, The Morning News is an Open Thread.

Sep 10

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania. 

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

State of the Onion III

Art Link
Flower

Flower

It started as
a piece of detail
in another work
a small
barely opened bud.

Then it bloomed.

Or is that
the story
of my life?
Sometimes
I forget.

–Robyn Elaine Serven
–November 3. 2005

I know you have talent.  Let it bloom.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well. 

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days?  And be excellent to one another!

Sep 10

The Morning News

From Yahoo News THE TOP STORY

Sharif deported from Pakistan
By ZARAR KHAN, Associated Press Writer
2 minutes ago

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was deported Monday hours after he had landed in Pakistan from seven years in exile hoping to campaign against the country’s U.S.-allied military ruler, officials said.

About four hours after he arrived on a flight from London, Sharif was taken into custody and charged with corruption, but then quickly spirited to another plane and flown out of Pakistan toward Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, an intelligence official said.

An official in President Gen. Musharraf’s office confirmed Sharif was deported but did not divulge his destination.

Our most important ally in the Global War On Radical Islam (or whatever they’re calling it today).  You know, the one with THE BOMB AND Bin Laden.

The Second Story from Yahoo News

Pentagon planning base near Iraq-Iran border: report
Reuters
1 hour, 30 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Pentagon is preparing to build a military base near the Iraq-Iran border to try to curtail the flow of advanced Iranian weaponry to Shiite militants across Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday in its online edition.

Quoting Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, the Journal said the Pentagon also plans to build fortified checkpoints on major highways leading from the Iranian border to Baghdad, and install X-ray machines and explosives-detecting sensors at the only formal border crossing between the two countries.

The base will be located about four miles from the Iranian border and will be used for at least two years, according to the report. U.S. officials told the paper it is unclear whether it will be among the small number of facilities that would remain in Iraq after any future large-scale U.S. withdrawal.

Khe Sahn.  Remember when Godwin frowned on Iraq/Vietnam parallels?

From Yahoo News World

Japan PM Abe’s job at stake as parliament meets
By Linda Sieg, Reuters
46 minutes ago

TOKYO (Reuters) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began the toughest battle of his political life in a parliament session that opened on Monday after staking his job on extending Japan’s naval mission in support of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan.

“The military personnel who are silently doing service on the scorching Indian Ocean embody Japan’s international contribution sought by the world,” Abe said in a policy speech to parliament.

“Can we really pull out now and abandon our responsibility to the international community?”

Iraqi PM Maliki expected to go on defensive
By Waleed Ibrahim, Reuters
33 minutes ago

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will address parliament on Monday just hours before American officials deliver a vital progress report on Iraq that could influence future U.S. strategy on the war.

An official in Maliki’s office and officials at parliament said the Shi’ite prime minister would appear before lawmakers. The session opens around midday (0800 GMT), although it was unclear precisely when Maliki would speak.

Maliki is expected to defend his government’s record in the face of blistering criticism from both Iraqi and U.S. lawmakers. Some opposition Democratic legislators in the United States have even called for him to be replaced.

UN atomic agency to meet with ElBaradei urging patience
by Michael Adler, AFP
Mon Sep 10, 12:45 AM ET

VIENNA (AFP) – UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei will brush aside US criticism when his IAEA meets Monday and call for worried nations to wait and see if new inspections show whether Tehran seeks the bomb.

The International Atomic Energy Agency will be hearing an ElBaradei report backing a timetable agreed last month for Iran to answer outstanding questions over its nuclear programme.

ElBaradei has come under fire for his approach as some Western diplomats have said the timetable gives Iran the chance to stave off the threat of new UN sanctions for a few more months.

Al-Sadr overhauling his Shiite militia
By HAMZA HENDAWI and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writers
1 hour, 27 minutes ago

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s most powerful Shiite militia leader is turning to his commanders who distinguished themselves fighting U.S. troops in 2004 to screen fighters, weed out criminals and assume key positions in an effort to build a more disciplined force, two of his key lieutenants say.

That suggests the goal of Muqtada al-Sadr’s temporary freeze of Mahdi Army activities, announced Aug. 29 following deadly Shiite-Shiite clashes in Karbala, is to bolster the militia to intimidate his Shiite rivals as the anti-American cleric pursues his political ambitions.

A stronger and more efficient Mahdi Army could embolden al-Sadr to take on the rival Badr militia, a move that could fragment and weaken the country’s majority Shiites as gunmen battle for control of Shiite towns and cities.

From Yahoo News U.S.

Britney Spears earns scorn for MTV performance
By Dean Goodman, Reuters
Sun Sep 9, 11:43 PM ET

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Britney Spears launched her highly anticipated comeback at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, drawing ridicule by dressing up as a stripper and miming her new single.

The 25-year-old singer, whose professional achievements have been overshadowed by her personal crises in recent years, performed “Gimme More” in a black sequined bikini and knee-high boots.

No longer boasting the buff body that helped drive her to international superstardom almost a decade ago, the mother of two moved sluggishly around the stage at the Palms casino, often with the support of a troupe of dancers. At one point, the camera panned to rapper 50 Cent, sitting in the audience, who looked bewildered by the action on stage.

Petraeus to argue against big Iraq troop cuts
By Susan Cornwell, Reuters
Mon Sep 10, 12:46 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a report considered crucial to U.S. strategy in the highly unpopular war in Iraq, the top U.S. commander there is expected to tell Congress on Monday that U.S. troop levels should not be cut deeply.

The assessment by Gen. David Petraeus could be a turning point in the conflict and is considered vital to any decisions by President George W. Bush on force levels as he faces demands from Democrats and some senior Republicans for U.S. troops to start leaving Iraq.

A U.S. official who asked not to be named said on Sunday that Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will argue that a major pullout of U.S. forces would hurt progress made since troop numbers were increased by 30,000 earlier this year.

Gasoline prices rise for first time since July
Reuters
Sun Sep 9, 6:02 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The average retail price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States cost about 6.5 cents more last week, rising for the first time since early July on the back of higher crude oil prices, an industry analyst said on Sunday.

The most recent increase was due to a rise in crude oil prices ahead of this week’s OPEC meeting, but prices will likely remain steady in the coming weeks because there is still ample supply, Lundberg said.

“It is crude oil that ended the price slide at the pump and turned it upward,” Lundberg said. “The supports behind crude oil are world demand and OPEC, which is expected to retain its hard line with a no change in official output” at its September 11 meeting.

Democratic presidential hopefuls hold TV debate in Spanish
by Juan Castro Olivera, AFP
1 hour, 8 minutes ago

MIAMI (AFP) – In a dramatic sign of the fast-changing US society, the US Democratic presidential hopefuls late Sunday held a debate in Spanish that was broadcast on the main US Spanish-language television network.

Seven presidential candidates were at the historic event, including the three front runners, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former South Carolina Senator John Edwards. Senator Joe Biden, who just returned from Iraq, was absent.

Moderators from the Univision network asked questions in Spanish and the candidates, wearing earpieces, heard a translation in English. The answers were given in English and translated into Spanish for viewers.

From Yahoo News Politics

Bush, officials pass buck over who ordered Iraq army disbanded
by Sig Christenson, AFP
Sun Sep 9, 5:47 PM ET

SAN ANTONIO, United States (AFP) – As General David Petraeus prepares to tell Congress that a troop surge has helped tamp down Iraq’s civil war, Washington is in buck-passing mode over who made the decision many say is at the root of the instability: disbanding the Iraqi army.

Former secretary of state Colin Powell says no one told him about it, and that then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was in the dark too.

President George W. Bush says he thought the army would be kept intact after the US-led invasion in March 2003, but concedes to having a fuzzy memory on the matter.

Bush heads home for Iraq battle
by Olivier Knox, AFP
Sun Sep 9, 1:26 AM ET

SYDNEY (AFP) – US President George W. Bush headed home Sunday after leaving an Asia-Pacific summit a day early to marshal his forces for this week’s pitched US political battle over the unpopular war in Iraq.

Bush is expected to make a formal speech to the war-weary US public to insist progress is being made and they should rally behind his strategy.

On his final day here, he seized on a new video from terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, who called for escalating the insurgency in Iraq, to argue that if the Al-Qaeda chief thinks Iraq is important, so should the US public.

US report calls for Iraq exit in five years
AFP
Sun Sep 9, 2:50 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States should halve its military presence in Iraq within three years and completely pull out within five years, the latest US report on the war-scarred country said Sunday.

Only then will Iraq’s government, which has so far been a “disappointment,” take on its own security responsibilities to rebuild the nation, the report by the United States Institute of Peace said.

“The United States faces too many challenges around the world to continue its current level of effort in Iraq, or even the deployment that was in place before the surge,” the report said.

From Yahoo News Opinion

Six years later, terror war leaves unfinished business
USAToday
Mon Sep 10, 12:22 AM ET

The release of a new Osama bin Laden videotape generated breathless analysis of everything from the color of his beard to his crackpot commentary on U.S. politics, global warming and the troubled housing market.

The true importance of the tape, however, is as a reminder of unfinished business in the war against bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terror group. As the nation prepares to mark on Tuesday the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, al-Qaeda has mounted a dismaying rebound from its post-9/11 setbacks.

Bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, remain at large and in touch with current events. Al-Qaeda has reconstituted its central leadership and found a new sanctuary in Pakistan to replace the one it lost in Afghanistan. It remains committed to hitting the United States again.

From Google News U.S.

Rove Replacement Seen as Highly Partisan Go-Getter
By Michael Abramowitz, The Washington Post
Monday, September 10, 2007; Page A13

While President Bush was in Australia last week, the White House completed the divvying-up of Karl Rove’s sizable and important portfolio.

Rove’s longtime deputy Barry Jackson is taking over management of the four offices Rove supervised (political affairs, intergovernmental relations, public liaison and strategic initiatives), while new White House counselor Ed Gillespie will assume Rove’s more amorphous role of providing Bush broader strategic advice — with an assist from Jackson and communications chief Kevin Sullivan.

Jackson is one of those Washington worker bees who is virtually unknown outside the White House fence but is well-regarded inside. Early in the Bush presidency, he coordinated the so-called Strategery Group, the senior officials who met regularly for long-term planning under Rove’s auspices.

Remember, The Morning News is an Open Thread.

Sep 10

“Mapping Claims to the Spoils of Global Warming”

(’cause it belongs on the FP – promoted by LithiumCola)

If you read some newspapers, you’ll find global warming is good for business. No, strike that. Global warming is GREAT for business. This is how the “science” journal at the Wall Street Journal enthusiastically describes what Global Warming means to its readers.

Icebreaker HealyResearchers aboard the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy are mapping claims to the spoils of global warming.

North of Alaska, the 23 scientists of the Healy are gathering the data legally required to extend national territories across vast reaches of the mineral-rich seafloor usually blocked by Arctic ice. Fathom by fathom, multibeam sonar sensors mounted on the Healy’s hull chart a submerged plateau called the Chukchi Cap, in a region that may contain 25% of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas.

In an era of climate change, these frozen assets are up for grabs, as melting ice allows detailed mapping and, one day perhaps, drilling.

The faster the ice goes, the sooner the oil flows. And vice versa. The faster we burn oil, the sooner the ice goes. Where there’s oil, there’s money to be made. The stunning, accelerating loss of the polar ice cap merely opens up the Arctic for oil and gas exploitation. If the polar bears go extinct along the way, then sobeit — no cost to doing business.

In the hunt for Arctic oil, the U.S. has joined Denmark, Norway, Canada, and Russia. No country ‘owns’ the North Pole, but in August, Russia went and placed a flag on the ocean floor at the North Pole claiming it for Moscow. “If recognized, the claim would bring 1.2 million square kilometers of seabed under Russian influence. Current laws grant countries an economic zone of 200 nautical miles beyond their land borders, but the zone can be extended where a country can prove a geological relationship between its own territory and the land beyond.”

While Russia is busy placing flags, the United States is trying to determine what’s at stake. As an article in Spiegel Online, USGS Looking for Fossil Fuels in the Arctic, explains:

While countries surrounding the Arctic get geared up for what promises to be a drawn-out diplomatic tiff over who owns what beneath the polar ice cap, the US Geological Survey is busy trying to figure out whether that territory is even worth owning.

For the next several months — until the presentation of its final report in the summer of 2008 — the USGS will be conducting an assessment of just how much oil and gas might be hiding under the ice. By analyzing rock types and formations and by looking at geologic history, the team hopes to provide accurate guesses as to where deposits are to be found and whether they contain natural gas, crude oil — or nothing.

According to OPEC, “Oil exploration can cost tens or hundreds of billions of dollars.” But the price tag for the Healy expedition is a mere $1 million and the entire proposed budget for the USGS in 2008 is only $1.033 billion. If researchers can find where are likely oil fields, then expeditions like the Healy and research done by USGS scientists are a ‘bargain’. Because not only do the U.S. taxpayers foot the bill, but it saves money for the oil corporations that would have been spent on exploration and that’s good for their bottom lines.

The Bush administration has mobilized the government to hunt for the last, untapped oil fields across the earth. The Christian Science Monitor noted that not only has the US Coast Guard joined in the Arctic oil rush, but “the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been conducting similar surveys over the past several years around the Marianas Islands, the Gulfs of Alaska and Mexico, and off New England”. From the invasion and occupation of Iraq to the using government agencies to hunt for oil, it’s as if the Bush administration has transformed the U.S. government into a tool for oil corporations.

Polar bearIn lamenting the appalling fate of the polar bears, The Independent wrote, “polar bears – the very symbol of the Arctic’s looming environmental disaster – are crashing towards extinction as a result of global warming, the US government has found. The admission, the result of a massive investigation by the Bush administration, could force the President finally to take action against climate change…” But, why would George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, two oil men, take any action to reverse global warming?

Polar bears don’t drive SUVs. Polar bears don’t need plastic bottles of water. Polar bears don’t use oil to heat. In reality, polar bears are “giant, marauding, godless killing machines” [Warning Colbert on O’Reilly]. If anything, the polar bears must be eliminated and global warming isn’t doing the job fast enough. Because, according to The Independent, “American hunters exploit a loophole in the Marine Mammal Protection Act that allows them to get licences to import polar bear trophies from Canada. Some 953 have been granted or applied for since 1994.” Dick Cheney would be proud.

The polar bears are standing on the last chunks of polar ice in the way of the last, great oil boom. Or, as Spiegel observes of the first Arctic oil report put out by the USGS — “even if the fossil riches were proven, there is at present no profitable way to extract reserves buried under a thick armor of floating ice.” But not for long. If you’re the oil men in the Bush administration, why would you even think of trying to halt or reverse global warming? The faster the ice goes, the sooner Arctic oil will flow.

Portions of this essay appeared in “The Faster the Ice Goes, the Sooner the Oil Flows” on Daily Kos.

Sep 10

Speaking Your Mind vs. Manipulation

(because the crazy fool gave me a set of keys – promoted by pyrrho)

A few days ago at Talk Left Big Tent Democrat wrote a piece on his take on Matt Stoller’s and Glen Greenwald’s position on the Iraq war. In short he characterizes the position if not as defeatist, then somehow improperly resigned pessimism.  Big Tando Dem quotes their willingness to cede the issue to a post-Bush world optimistically also known as “2009”. I agree with him on various things here: that Stoller is an ineffective activist and pundit both, except to be fair, I’m not paying attention, he could be brilliant and I wouldn’t know, I do not follow him at all except as he arises from time to time regarding things like Townhouse List or the “More $$$ for Bloggers! Movement”™.

Glen defends himself with this reply that leads to the point here:

Feel free to cheer for the war’s end.  I do the same.  But that doesn’t make it likely to happen. 

And if Democrats are failing to stop the war – as they are – why should anyone refrain from being honest and saying so?

To which BigTentDemocrat replies:

But the question is why? To pressure them to react and do the right thing? OR to just say so?

We all have eyes. The question is what we want them to do and how to make them do it, if we can.

This is where nearly where I disagree with BigTentDemocrat. You see, I agree we should still speak against the war, and I agree with this update to this essay:

Update [2007-9-5 13:58:39 by Big Tent Democrat]: Apparently NOT just a “network of fairly well trafficked blogs” when it suits them:

  So, the progressive blogosphere just played a huge role in winning a Democratic primary for US House. this is a major accomplishment. Well done and thank you to everyone who participated in the fundraiser.

I wish Stoller and Bowers and the NETROOTS could make up their minds as to whether they just “folks with blogs” or playing “huge roles.”

So do I BigTendoDem, I wish that. But where I disagree with, you, BigTentArmando (is the moratorium on “Armando” over or what?) and always have, is where to side on this dichotomy within the blogosphere between “say what you will” vs. “use your power for good”. My take is based on a view of the blogosphere as a peer to peer phenomenon, or, really The Peer to Peer Phenomenon which is itself a storm of energy that fires up wherever it is able to. This storm could be seen on the net, and still can, everywhere, it rages through and leaves structure in its wake.

It just a few years ago now stormed onto the political landscape, where it promises to be a lasting factor of some kind.  The factor it ought to have, and I think ultimately will, is that of the people expressing themselves. If the people have inane interests (Spears) then that’ll be there… if they believe conspiracy, it’ll be there, and so on.  If you don’t like it, well, at least you get to see there is a problem there, you get to have your say to it, and thus, many people like to go to the forums of those they disagree with and correct them.  It can actually be productive, though I find you will never convince that person, you may convince a passing reader.
From that view it is clear the point of blogs is to “JUST SAY IT!”, whatever it is you want to say.  Make sure you really want to say it then go. If blogs get more controlled than that (note to self, use past tense) then that peer to peer energy will be diverted and go somewhere else.

People will experess themselves. The purpose of the public conversation on the net is for people to be able to be heard. The part where people find someone to listen is fine, but it’s the same old part, fame and attention, the new part is the expression, and the fact that there is attention and engagement without fame as well. Feedback.

You have something strong willed to say…? You are in doubt, but just say it, and then we’ll sort it out. To do anything else is manipulation… or worse, merely attempt at manipulation.

Are we here to advocate manipulation? I think we as liberals and progressives alike have ALL lamented at some time or other the manipulation of population.

Is it just that it wasn’t us doing the manipulating? Really?!? Given the chance it’s our responsibility to manipulate? Instead of relate, express, be straight?

I don’t.

I may influence people by saying what I believe if they then arrive not at what I said, but at their own idea informed by the fact that I talked to them on the subject. That’s the only way it really works out anyway. People change themselves. When they pretend to have wholly changed to a totally newly discovered idea they are just playing with a toy, one easily picked up, easily dropped. You can manipulate people with their biases and fears but they will simply revert on their own or be manipulated by some other emotional player. That might be an effective way to sell cola but I don’t think there is long term progress for culture in that. That is just manipulating the easily swayed and cyclic swing voters of life.

When people speak their mind they refuse to let their tongues be tied, so to speak, they spit it out and speak. Now that is inspiring to others and is the source of genuine “influence” on the net. That inspiration is something wholly fantastic compared to carefully spoken “influences”.

Speaking freely, against the perceived if not actual mainstream grain often works to create popular movements. But also often, what works to dilute and defeat these same movements is the great feelings of responsibility that then well up. And by “great” I mean more like “narcissistic”.

The responsibility of someone that has gotten the attention of an audience for speaking their mind is naturally “keep speaking your mind”. Isn’t that logical? You can change if as an individual your life changes, or even career, but not because of the simple fact that people are listening. People are listening to honesty, and want to hear that.

To start speaking something else more careful is to try to turn a reputation for honesty to dishonest means.


This blogosphere is full of all sorts of people and any individual that likes to can claim outlier status and declare themselves personally exempt from my point. I mean, if Bush started blogging, yes, as President of the United States I would want him to speak responsibly. And if some blogger “breaks through” and becomes a journalist… fine, they ought to speak with reference to journalistic ethics. But the question is what do bloggers qua bloggers need to do, in general, as bloggers. If they have other roles in life I am not surprised and know those other roles give them other responsibilities and purposes… of course. But as bloggers their role is that of “peer” in a network of peers sharing real, valid, information about their state of mind. They should ideally post as citizens speaking their true minds without regard to popularity. They should be speaking or not only with regard to the importance they attach to expressing themselves on the issue in question. If it’s not a big deal to you, don’t pretend it is, if it is a big deal to you, don’t pretend it’s not.

So which are bloggers: Pundits or Activists? They can be either, or, even, both, but in all cases if they are “blogger” pundits, or “blogger” activists, they should speak their own mind freely, that is the purpose, from the point of view of our national needs, in my opinion, of blogging. Their purpose as bloggers does not lie in categories that apply to them as individuals, roles like “pundit” or “activist”. Their purpose lies in the shape of the network, in the grammar of the network and their place in that grammar. This peer to peer network on the internet should rightfully be a place for all citizens to take part in the national and international public debates now finally brought, almost, to the people.

The internet din of political conversation must, absolutely, represent what people are really thinking.

We should be able to use the internet to find out what other people are thinking, specifically people we don’t have access to in our closed groups of friends and like minded compatriots. We ought to get a glimpse into real thoughts, not just what people front to those around them to stay working or get laid… or to attempt the losing gambit of tricking a politician into a given behavior. We don’t need the internet to convey and perpetuate the type of b.s. surface layer of “things you can admit to on TV”. We don’t need it for the type of realism you get in a “gritty sitcom” that can have just as much reality as does not offend its advertiser. There is no value in transferring to teh network the type of “truth” a poor journalist conveys out of stuff an insider pulled out of their personally self-serving optimistic imagination.
(**cough** Chalabi **cough** Miller **cough**).


Politicians are hard to trick, much easier to scare them than trick them, and seeing real ideas online scares them, or … did, for a bit, until it got very solemn and, “wait, don’t rock the boat”-ish.

Bloggers at “relatively high trafficked” blogs owe it to their readers to be straight forward… and the very likely fact that they won’t be is why the peer to peer magic will move on to whomever is. People right now want to know what everyone is thinking. The topics they want to hear those thoughts on vary, but more and more, whatever the topic, they are less impressed with only expert opinions. They know experts are trained to manipulate them, and further, that each expert has some opposing expert willing and able to argue the opposite and manipulate in the counter direction. They prefer more and more to know what other people really think. Experts make better advocates than judges leaving people as the judges, our fellow people. We are interested in sharing some of their judgment without being told to accept it because of it’s higher quality.

They want to see the thinking of these fellow humans with the filters off. They are brave. They are ready to hear the thoughts of others after a long and apprehensive wait.

They don’t seek some elite from which to adopt thinking. They are not on a quest to find yet another meritocracy able to identify their betters. Even when people do really seek just such a meritocracy, they are certainly not likely to think aptitude at blogging qualifies candidates for that meritocracy! Have some humility. “I’m a blogger” is not a status increasing statement in general society. I wager even among those that read blogs it’s not. Most people are listening to you because they are interested in what other people like them have to say, possibly that people like them can do neat things, but also including people stupider than themselves.

People seek to get what’s really going on in the heads of their fellow citizens, and you should just give it to them.

A progressive future needs to involve much less manipulation than the past has. Instead of manipulation we need education, public conversation, and personal responsibility. We must all learn to take responsibility for our opinions rather than put the value off to some expert. The notion that bloggers are some new expert, that the old system does work if just we have this newly chosen expert to rely on, to get an opinion from, is, frankly, laughable… not just laughable but pathetic.


Bloggers are only experts about their own opinions.


BUT THAT’S ENOUGH. Just share that.

Sep 10

The Meaning Of Petraeus

At Talk Left, I wrote a piece describing what I believe would be the most effective manner for Democrats to deal with the Petraeus Show coming to a Congress near you this week. I’ll post the text on the flip.

But I wanted to make a point first. To wit, Petraeus and his Surge is nothing but bullshit. I assume we all know this but we have seen and will see a lot of “serious” discussion about it. Let’s be clear, there is no hope for a good ending for the United States in Iraq. It is a Debacle and there is nothing that will change that, short of, perhaps, a reconquering of Iraq, conscription of a million Americans and World War III in the Middle East. Of course such an approach would not only be lunacy, it will never happen (just as war with Iran UNCONNECTED to Iraq will never happen).

So all this “serious” talk is unserious and ridiculous in the extreme. Take for instance, via Yglesias, this discussion by two of the more foolish “serious” people we encounter in these discussions, Packer and Dodge:

Dodge’s grim vision does not make an irrefutable case for staying in Iraq. But it’s a reminder that the illusions and naïve hopes with which America started the war shouldn’t accompany its end. [WTF? We should persist in illusions and naive hopes as a basis for foreign policy? Quintessential idiocy from Packer.]

. . . This doesn’t mean keeping large numbers of troops in Iraq indefinitely; that has become impossible. David Kilcullen argued that next summer, when the surge is scheduled to end, American forces could be reduced to a level-say, eighty thousand-that might allow most of the core interests to be protected. . . . [W]hen the surge ends, there will have to be a strategic turn, away from Americans in the lead. An indefinite war in Iraq “costs us moral authority across the world,” Kilcullen said. The occupation of Iraq remains hugely unpopular with America’s democratic allies and throughout the Arab and Muslim world. “We need that moral authority as ammunition in the fight against Al Qaeda,” he added. “If we’re not down to fifty thousand troops in three to five years, we’ve lost the war on terror.”

(Emphasis supplied.) Can you believe this shit? Can you believe these idiot “serious” people make a claim for the US having moral authority in the war on terror? After torture, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and the the rest? These are the elites of this country we are told. If you wonder how we came to this end, just think of WHAT THESE PEOPLE SAY NOW!! If we can not defeat these “elites” politically, we are simply fucked as a country.

More.

More from Packer:

Toby Dodge admitted that anyone arguing against immediate withdrawal has to face the “killer question: Why should American troops continue to die when the chances for success are so low?” He offered his answer “with an honest recognition that it doesn’t sound very plausible.” Dodge’s approach would bring the maximum pressure to bear on Iraqi politicians by persuading the region and the world-Iraq’s neighbors, the European Union, the United Nations-to come into the Green Zone, not as tools of American policy but as equal partners in an effort to force a political deal, not unlike the U.N.’s role in creating a government in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. This would imply an American confession of failure. Instead of pursuing more ambitious goals for democracy in the region, the U.S. would offer security guarantees to Iran and Syria in exchange for coöperation. “We then turn to the Iraqi government,” Dodge went on, “and say, ‘You’ve got to reform your government, make it more inclusive, less corrupt, more coherent, less sectarian.’ So the Iraqi government is reconstituted within a multilateral framework where the E.U., the U.N., and the U.S. are all singing from the same hymnbook.”

And, even accepting that this has ANY chance of success NOW, pigs will fly before the Bush Administration would even discuss it, so what the fuck are these “serious” people fucking talking about? But let’s pretend, as Yglesias does, that there is any chance of these fabulist proposals even being mooted by the bush Administration. As Yglesias says:

What I don’t understand is why Packer and Dodge don’t draw the obvious conclusion — it’s not a good idea to do something incredibly costly like staying in Iraq for many additional years on the basis of a not very plausible plan that’s unlikely to succeed. . . . A costly, likely to fail strategy, however, isn’t an alternative to failure. Most likely, your likely to fail non-plausible strategy is just going to fail. And if Dodge wouldn’t “bet the house” on his plan succeeding, then what are we supposed to say to the National Guardsman whose family is going to lose its house if he’s injured in Iraq and can’t work anymore? If Dodge won’t “bet the house” on his plan, then why should our troops risk their lives for it? I couldn’t possibly imagine looking someone heading off to war in the eye and giving him this account of why his service is vital and necessary.

(Emphasis supplied.) Consider how ridiculous the Packer and Dodge discussion is. NOW consider how much worse the ACTUAL Petraeus plan is. And finally consider that Democrats, KNOWING ALL THIS, remain willing to “looking someone heading off to war in the eye and giving [them] this account of why his service is vital and necessary.”

You know, I have as low an opinion of politicians as I think anyone could, but what this Democratic Congress is willing to do goes to a level of moral despicability that reaches lows seldom seen. Suppose they are right on the politics, and they are not, does NOTHING ever trump politics? Nothing at all?

Not for them. And in that spirit, I offer this “advice” on how to handle Petraeus this week:

General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will be testifying before Congress on Monday and Wednesday, providing his self evaluation of his own military strategy in Iraq. It is no doubt tempting for Democratic members of Congress to challenge General Petraeus' self assessment. My view is that this would be a mistake. The line of argument to take is not to question Petraeus' military assessment. The optics of congresspersons battling on military questions with a 4 star General will not work in the short term.

The line of questioning should be to go above Petraeus's head and question the strategy of President Bush. In short the Surge is failing NOT because of Petraeus, but because the strategy that calls for the military TACTICS Petraeus is employing are failing. I suggest citing the conservative columnist George Will:

The recent National Intelligence Estimate said that although the surge is producing real if uneven security improvements, progress toward political reconciliation has been negligible and might be perishable. Hence the surge is a tactical success disconnected from the strategic objective it is supposed to serve.

(Emphasis supplied.) Here's the argument – General Petraeus' tactical military success is doing nothing to make the STRATEGY in Iraq a success. God bless our wonderful troops, but our President has a failed strategy. In other words, praise the troops, but point out that the strategy of the Commander in Chief in Iraq remains a failure. The question the Democratic Congress must present to the country is how many Americans must sacrifice for an Iraqi government that is unwilling or unable to take the steps necessary to save George Bush's face.

Sep 10

Ritter: What Katie Couric Should Be Asking About Iraq

At Truthdig former UN chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter writes:

There is no reason to believe that the compliant war facilitators who comprise the “anti-war” Democratic majority in Congress will do anything other than give the president what he is asking for.  No one seems to want to debate, in any meaningful fashion, what is really going on in Iraq.

Why would they?  The Democrats, like their Republican counterparts, have invested too much political capital into fictionalizing the problem with slogans like “support the troops,” “we’re fighting the enemy there so we don’t have to fight them here,” and my all-time favorite, “leaving Iraq would hand victory to al-Qaida.”

In my opinion he overstates the case. I believe many among the Democrats, particularly among the Out of Iraq Caucus, truly do want to bring the war to a close as speedily as can be done without adding to the disaster. But it can hardly be doubted at this point that the leadership would prefer not to take the political risks of actually dealing with the issue now, preferring to wait until they have clearer margins of power in 2009.

Ritter goes on:

Nearly 4 1/2 years after President Bush’s ill-fated (and illegal) decision to invade and occupy Iraq, few people in a position to influence policy formulation and implementation in America have actually grasped the horrible truth about what has transpired, and what is transpiring, in Mesopotamia today. As the United States places the finishing touches on Fortress America, the new half-billion-dollar Embassy complex in the heart of the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad, and more troops pour into mega-bases throughout Iraq, the reality (and futility) of permanent occupation has yet to sink in. What could be going through the minds of those members of Congress who keep signing blank checks for the president?  Is there no oversight of how and why this money is spent? How can someone fund permanent infrastructure one day, then speak of the need to get out of Iraq the next?

Good point, that.

He then suggests three questions the media should be asking about Iraq instead of the idiotic ones that “journalists” like Katie Couric are asking:

The real big three [questions] she should be addressing are “Why do Americans keep dying?” “Who is killing them?” and “Why?” Of course, answering these questions would undermine the very fantasy world Couric is being sent to cover, one where Americans are doing good deeds in the name of peace and justice for downtrodden Iraqis.

Under no illusions that any of the Very Serious talking heads might be asking those questions any time soon, he answers them himself:

If Couric and her ilk won’t answer these questions, I will.  “Why do Americans keep dying?” Simple:  Because we are in Iraq.  We don’t belong there.  Our presence is derived from our own violation of law, not someone else’s, and as such any effort to sustain our presence is tainted by this same foundation of illegitimacy. In short, Americans will keep dying in Iraq as long as we remain in Iraq…

“Who is killing them?” Another easy answer:  Iraqis.  We are occupying their homeland.  We are violating their sovereignty.  We are butchering, abusing and torturing their citizens.  Our continued presence is an affront to the socioeconomic-political fabric that is (or was) Iraqi society.  If someone occupied my hometown in the same manner Americans occupy Iraq, I’d be killing them any way I could.  And I would be called a hero by my own people, not a terrorist.  The Bush administration, in an effort to deflect public attention away from this reality, has created the fiction of a massive al-Qaida presence in Iraq, working in parallel with a similarly large Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command presence, which apparently is responsible for the majority of anti-American violence and dead U.S. troops….

Now we come to the third and perhaps most difficult question: “Why?”

I’ll let you go and read the rest of the piece yourself for that answer – I’ve excerpted enough. He says it comes down to Americans not truly caring. But personally I think it isn’t a matter of not caring, only that people haven’t been informed about the truth. The fact that the people here who have become informed care so much tells me otherwise. But I do think his final point is a good one, and well worth some thought:

In a way, Iraq is a manifestation of all that ails America today. A complete breakdown of fundamental societal checks and balances brought on by greed and hubris. From General Petraeus who will give it, to the mindless corporate-owned minions who populate much of Congress who will receive it, to the entertainment-as-news media which will report on it, and to the American people who will consume it with no foundation upon which to evaluate it, the “Petraeus Report” will have little relevance to what is really going on in Iraq.

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