Choice

by lizard

A paradigm shift or annihilation as a species. That’s the choice. The systems are broken. Even the parasitic bloat of obscene wealth will eventually, if I may be so crude, have to shit where they sleep.

For those with resources it’s still far enough way. The inevitable can be deferred longer, for those of means. How much longer, no one knows.

The barometer I use is football. Keep that going and the underlying ugliness of systemic entropy can be glossed over indefinitely.

What I try to remember is how many good people do their best within all these failing systems. I wish the scale of our collective manipulation against each other wasn’t so immense and sophisticated and seemingly impossible to surmount.

Paradigm shift or annihilation.

That’s the choice.

by lizard

It’s been nearly 5 months since The Polish Wolf has written anything about the crisis in Ukraine. I have linked to that April post a handful of times because I would think someone who declared that The American Left has Failed on Ukraine would want stay on top of developments. I guess those developments don’t bolster PW’s argument. Does that explain nearly half a year of silence?

In that post PW highlights to examples of “contrarian left” failure. Here’s bullet point number 1:

1. The government currently in Ukraine is not a threat to Russians living in Ukraine. Quite the opposite – Russians in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea are actively undermining the government of Ukraine (No, the status of Russian as an official regional language, by the way, has not changed. Russia Today reported that it has, and to my knowledge has failed to note that the president of Ukraine never signed into law that act).

Well, it’s a full blown civil war now where thousands have been killed and injured, and the violence has greatly escalated this past month (NYT):

The United Nations said on Friday that casualties in the fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels had doubled in the past month, with an average of 36 people killed every day.

At least 1,200 people were killed and 3,250 injured in the period from July 16 to Aug. 17, according to a report released by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. The office described the toll as “very conservative” and said it did not include the 298 passengers and crew who died when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17.

“The trend is clear and alarming,” Ivan Simonovic, the United Nations assistant secretary general for human rights, said in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, according to Reuters. “There is a significant increase in the death toll in the east.”

But, I thought the government wasn’t a threat to ethnic Russians living in Eastern Ukraine? I guess it’s all Russia’s fault. And for interventionists who once used alleged government airstrikes against civilians to justify intervention in Libya, the same playing out in Ukraine gets no attention from those harboring a dangerous hypocrisy.

Let’s now examine the evidence of leftist failure with PW’s bullet point number 2:

2. The government is not dominated by neo-fascists, at least, not yet. Svoboda and Pravdiy Sektor are both still extreme minority parties, and the armed right wing is under heavy police pressure by the Ukrainian government. Indeed, the only party that has anything to gain from Pravdiy Sektor’s gaining power, and the only party acting to make that more likely, is Russia. Both Svoboda and Pravdiy Sektor have loudly opposed admission to the EU or the involvement of the IMF in Ukraine (interestingly, the exact same position toward Ukraine advocated by our local ‘progressive’ blogs), making it seem highly unlikely that they will continue to have Euro-American backing. Hard core nationalism in a multi-ethnic state like Ukraine can only lead to instability, the exact outcome Russia desires, and it can only be strengthened by the constant threat (and fact) of Russian intervention.

The reason I keep on going back to this post is because every time I re-read it, it appears more surreal. The coup government in Kiev continue to use neo-Nazis against Eastern Ukrainians because they actually fight. Yet somehow PW, back in April, was trying to twist their involvement as benefiting Russia—I guess because their undeniable role makes for a difficult PR problem for pro-interventionist like PW. Here’s Parry from Consortium News writing last month about Ignoring Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers:

The U.S.-backed Ukrainian government is knowingly sending neo-Nazi paramilitaries into eastern Ukrainian neighborhoods to attack ethnic Russians who are regarded by some of these storm troopers as “Untermenschen” or subhuman, according to Western press reports.

Recently, one eastern Ukrainian town, Marinka, fell to Ukraine’s Azov battalion as it waved the Wolfsangel flag, a symbol used by Adolf Hitler’s SS divisions in World War II. The Azov paramilitaries also attacked Donetsk, one of the remaining strongholds of ethnic Russians opposed to the Kiev regime that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February.

Yet, despite this extraordinary reality – modern-day Nazi storm troopers slaughtering Slavic people in eastern Ukraine – the Obama administration continues to concentrate its criticism on Russia for sending a convoy of humanitarian supplies to the embattled region. Suddenly, the administration’s rhetoric about a “responsibility to protect” civilians has gone silent.

Like I said up thread, paramilitaries like this Azov battalion are willing to fight, which is not something that can be said for everyone tasked with killing their fellow countrymen. Here’s a post from b at Moon of Alabama describing heavy losses from the coup government in Kiev:

Throughout August the Ukrainian president and cabinet, likely following U.S. “advisers”, pushed their army into a big attack on the insurgency held south east areas of the country. But the attack of bad equipped, half trained units ran into problems. Some of them reached their attack targets only to find themselves cut off from any resupply. Without ammunition, gas and food they were locked into place and easy targets for the insurgents artillery.

The attack was stretched too far. The “culmination point in the attack” Clausewitz wrote about was reached and crossed. The negative effects of the attack on its own troops became bigger then the positive effects and the government in Kiev, not recognizing the real situation, still pressed on. It now lost the initiative. The parts of the Ukrainian army not surrounded and caught up surrounded in “cauldrons” retreated to be reorganized.

Some of the “volunteer” territorial battalions are simply going home. There is even a revolt against the defense ministry.

Read the whole post for full context. b has been fantastic in his coverage.

It would be nice if The Polish Wolf shared the perspective of the Ukrainians he’s in contact with. Are they happy going broke waging a civil war against those who would have a more federalized, autonomous position within the country? Will the paltry IMF bailout go to fund a continued military offensive? Who will fight if there are reports of soldiers refusing to fight? The Neo-Nazi groups? Oh, and winter is coming. Is Ukraine prepared?

So far Russia has avoided fully taking the bait. Even the Malaysian shoot down wasn’t enough, and now that bizarre investigation has almost all countries involved reportedly (Global Research, for what it’s worth) signing a non-disclosure agreement:

In the framework of the 4-country agreement signed on 8 August between Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia, information on the progress and results of the investigation of the disaster will remain classified.

This was confirmed at a briefing in Kiev under the auspices of the office of the Prosecutor General Yuri Boychenko. In his words, the results of the investigation will be published once completed only if a consensus agreement of all parties that have signed the agreement prevails. (original emphasis in bold)

Hmmm, that’s a bit odd. Whatever could be the reason for imposing that kind of agreement? And why didn’t Malaysia sign on?

75 years ago today, on September 1st, Hitler invaded Poland, triggering World War II. It is total insanity that 75 five years later an American President is trying his damnedest to start World War III.

by lizard

I’m on my bike a lot in this town, commuting to work five days a week/12 months of the year, biking my oldest who just started first grade to school, trips downtown to the market on the weekend. I love how accessible Missoula is for non-car transportation. I can even appreciate the Missoulian editorial board reminding its readers of the importance to pay attention this time of year to the increased hustle and bustle of a college town revving up for action.

That said, for every bicyclist I see who bikes responsibly, it seems like I see a half dozen idiots rolling obnoxiously down the sidewalk, or against traffic, or suddenly going from biking with traffic to cutting into a crosswalk. All kinds of stupid shit. I was actually standing with my bike on the sidewalk by the courthouse downtown when some dude on a bike clipped my back tire. He was fine and kept going but it certainly got my attention. When I gave him my WATCH WHAT YOU’RE DOING look he actually engaged in a bit of shit talking like it was somehow my fault.

Biking culture varies, and is tiered by class. There’s the pack of cyclists riding down Mullan without a care of what cars have to do to pass them. Then there’s people who are on bikes because other means are either unaffordable or legally prohibited. Bob Wire put out a tweet emphasizing the latter:

When I see a 60-year-old man riding a BMX bike down the street, first thing that comes to mind is: 5th DUI.

To further emphasize the class issues regarding transportation, I’m going to dredge the depths of comments from this Missoulian article about Missoula’s bus line going zero-fare next year:

thomascash: This is a good solution to the homeless during the hours the buses operate but we still have the night time to solve. How much does it cost to idle a bus all night long?

Miss Muralist 12: I’m starting to wonder who really has life figured out, the working class or the shiftless layabouts I see tubing the river every day. These parasites have truly found a host in Missoula. Want to have kids? No worries, the school will give them three squares a day. Need to get around? No worries, free bus rides brought to you by the working folk.

DaveQ: Awesome. Now the transients and homeless can have an airconditioned mobile home to travel in without spending any drug money. Free stuff will attract all the right people to the social experiment called Missoula. When it’s too hot or too cold, you can chill on the bus. If you need to get to the other side of town to do a little pan handling or pickup something for your head, there will be a free ride for you in Missoula. This is progress indeed. The tax payers are footing the bill and the people who use this free ride won’t be the people that are paying for it.

We have some great organizations that support increasing access and use of alternative transportation, like Missoula in Motion and Missoula Free Cycles. Someone should write up an op-ed about rules of the road and basic etiquette for cyclists because too many people act like idiots unaware of the risk they cause others with their behavior.

Alternative transportation is very important in a locale like Missoula. As more people move here air quality is affected, making smoky summer skies and winter inversion skies even worse. But improving access, use and infrastructure is a hard sell when those who benefit act like assholes.

by lizard

If you think Eastern Ukraine has been invaded by Russia the propaganda is working. This post from b @ Moon of Alabama does a great job of getting down to the nitty gritty of it. Read it or don’t. It ain’t the New York Times.

Speaking of the NYT, that’s the rag that featured the spurious “reporting” of Michael Gordon, the propagandist who teamed up with Judith Miller to sell the Iraq war. This article at Counterpunch examines Gordon’s complicity in selling war:

Those in the U.S. who are enthralled by relentless reports of the most demonic acts attributed to President Vladimir Putin and the rebel Eastern Ukrainian federalists a in the NYT (New York Times), NPR, ETC. would do well to look at the track record of the “reporters” dishing out this stuff. What they will find is a trail of deception that is piled with corpses of hundreds of thousands of innocents.

Principle among the purveyors of these bloodletting falsehoods is Michael R. Gordon, chief military correspondent for the NYT, serving over the decades as a trusty pipeline from the Pentagon to you. Although his name should be in profound disrepute, many opposed to war are unaware of his ignoble career or may have forgotten it. Most notoriously he is the co-author with Judith Miller of the front page NYT article planted by Dick Cheney’s minions, which claimed that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), relying on the idea that aluminum tubing being purchased by Iraq was to be used for purifying uranium.

If you go to the first link you will discover the “invasion” of Ukraine got walked back as a mistaken translation of Poroshenko. You can also check out Zerohedge for some perspective.

So what is actually happening in Ukraine? According to Michael Whitney, Kiev is getting its ass kicked bad:

Donetsk and Lugansk have formed militias and taken the war to the enemy. They’ve engaged Obama’s proxy-army on the battlefield and pounded it into mincemeat. That’s why Obama deployed his propagandists to lie about the fictitious “Russian invasion”. The administration needs a diversion because the Novorussia forces (aka-the “pro Russia separatists”) are kicking the holy crap out of Obama’s legions. That’s why Washington and Kiev are in full panic-mode, because none of this was supposed to happen. Obama figured the army would put down the insurrection, crush the resistance, and move him one step closer to his goal of establishing NATO bases and missile defense systems on Russia’s western flank.

The insanity of re-starting the cold war with Russia will have all kinds of unintended consequences. Europe, for example, will be negatively impacted by the sanctions the US is pushing. This article wonders if we’re on the precipice of a global recession:

Last week, initial government released data for the 2nd Quarter 2014 showed the Eurozone economy coming to a complete halt. Germany’s economy—which represents a third of the Eurozone’s total GDP—declined by 0.2%, the first such contraction since 2012. So did Italy’s, while France recorded no growth at all for a second consecutive quarter.

The zero growth for the combined 17 Eurozone economies follows a near stagnation 0.2% growth in January-March. The January-June trend therefore strongly suggests a recession is now emerging in the core European economies—the third such in the past five years.

Europe’s first recession occurred in 2008-09 as it collapsed with the rest of the global economy. It then experienced a historically weak 0.5% economic recovery in 2009-10, only to fall back into another second recession in the subsequent 18 months that wiped out the prior meager 0.5% gains. 2013-14 thereafter saw an even weaker recovery of only 0.2%, and for an even shorter period, which is now being reversed once again.

The Eurozone arguably has never really recovered from the recession of 2008-09. The short, shallow recoveries of 0.5% and 0.2%, which have become progressively shorter and weaker, do not represent a true recovery. Europe has simply been ”bouncing along the bottom” economically now for five years—stagnant at best and slipping in and out of recession.

An important new trend in the Eurozone’s now emerging 3rd recession is that the economic contraction is driven by the Eurozone’s key economic engines—Germany, France, and Italy—and not just its weaker economies on its southern and eastern periphery, as was the case in Europe’s second recession of 2010-12.

The world is going off the rails. Where this madness will take us, no one really knows.

by lizard

Montana Democrats are elated to see the Billings Gazette issue an editorial smack-down of Ryan Zinke’s brazenly stupid escape from the September 29th debate with Lewis. Zinke is clearly slime and, if elected, exemplifies how truly absurd our politics have become. Good on the Gazette for finally realizing what scum papers like theirs usually stenograph for (I doubt the editorial board’s indignation will last for long).

But much of the criticism from progressive blogs toward Zinke has been directed at the obvious signs of illegal coordination with his super PAC, Special Operations for America (SOFA).

All of that is very important and accurate criticism to toss at Zinke, but there’s a problem, and that problem is liberal dark money duplicity as reported in the Indy this week by Ketti Wilhelm and Dennis Swibold. Here’s an excerpt:

While Montana’s far right has never supported dark money disclosure, organizers of I-168 were surprised to hear objections from liberal groups that typically support disclosure. Peterson says he reached out directly to potential supporters on the left, but couldn’t get any bites.

“Everybody says, ‘Yeah, I don’t like dark money,’ but when it comes time to raise the money to get the signatures … people clam up,” he says.

Sandy Welch, a Republican and an organizer for the “Stop Dark Money” initiative, says her group sought support from across the political spectrum, yet managed to raise only about $20,000—a fraction of what it takes to bring an initiative to the ballot in such a large state.

“There are a lot of people who fund political activities who like dark money,” Welch says. “They don’t want it to go away.”

The organizers weren’t the only ones surprised at the initiative’s failure.

“Where were the organizations?” asks Anthony Johnstone, a professor of constitutional and election law at the University of Montana. “Where were the unions? Where was Common Cause? Where were the parties? Without that kind of support, you’re going to have a hard time qualifying an initiative, even on something so recently salient in Montana.”

These large pools of money will never see the light of day if this duplicity persists. You can’t bash the trough of cash then slink off to guzzle your share.

Money buys influence, plain and simple. The vast majority of people in American don’t factor in to the political equation anymore at all. They even reported on this phenomenon in the Washington Post:

Everyone thinks they know that money is important in American politics. But how important? The Supreme Court’s Gilded Age reasoning in McCutcheon v. FEC has inspired a flurry of commentary regarding the potential corrosive influence of campaign contributions; but that commentary largely ignores the broader question of how economic power shapes American politics and policy. For decades, most political scientists have sidestepped that question, because it has not seemed amenable to rigorous (meaning quantitative) scientific investigation. Qualitative studies of the political role of economic elites have mostly been relegated to the margins of the field. But now, political scientists are belatedly turning more systematic attention to the political impact of wealth, and their findings should reshape how we think about American democracy.

A forthcoming article in Perspectives on Politics by (my former colleague) Martin Gilens and (my sometime collaborator) Benjamin Page marks a notable step in that process. Drawing on the same extensive evidence employed by Gilens in his landmark book “Affluence and Influence,” Gilens and Page analyze 1,779 policy outcomes over a period of more than 20 years. They conclude that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

Concentrated wealth supersedes the ballot, so stop expecting the ballot to change the status quo.

by lizard

Matthew Yglesias has a piece at Vox today about The biggest thing that blue states are screwing up:

Robert Gebelhoff and David Leonhardt have a fascinating piece in the Upshot about what they call the growing Blue State Diaspora — the large net flow of Americans out of blue states and into red ones. The two key facts are that between 2000 and 2012, the blue-born population living in red states grew over 20 percent to 11.5 million while the red-born population living in blue states shrank to 7.3 million from 8.4 million.

Gebelhoff and Leonhardt mostly go on to discuss the implications of these flows for partisan politics, but I think what’s most important is the causes. Liberals, in particular, might want to do some reflecting about the fact that Americans are voting with their feet against blue states.

So, what significant factors are behind this diaspora? More from the link:

Conservatives, of course, tend to think they know the answer — Americans are fleeing the high taxes and malgovernment of blue America. The city of Detroit often comes up in this context, and it is certainly true that malgovernment (among other things) has made that city and several others into an increasingly undesirable place to live.

On the other hand, if Detroit were the typical blue American city then houses in the Mission and Park Slope would be cheaper than houses in the suburbs of Atlanta and Dallas. The truth is that while there are pockets of economic pain all around the country, in general Blue America seems like a pretty nice place where wages, incomes, health outcomes, and education levels are generally higher.

So why does everyone leave? Well precisely because houses in Blue America generally aren’t cheap like Detroit. They’re more often expensive like San Francisco. As Dylan Matthews wrote last week, coastal states are generally more expensive.

This doesn’t bode well for those who get defensive when Republicans talk about Liberal elitism. The claim appears to have some merit.

Missoula is a microcosm of this trend within Montana. Most of my friends from the college days had to move away because they couldn’t afford to stay here.

And then there’s the attempt to subsidize affordable housing. Sometimes those attempts are less than successful, like the Burns Street Commons, a project Missoula had to further subsidize with loan forgiveness back in 2012:

A proposal to forgive a city loan to the Burns Street Commons, an affordable housing complex, has not been fully vetted in the public eye and has the potential to give other similar projects a black eye, according to some other supporters of affordable housing.

The North Missoula Community Development Corp. built the Burns Street Commons – 17 units, community space and a grocery store – but the project is struggling with $1.14 million of debt.

To help, the city of Missoula earlier loaned the development corporation $400,000, and on Monday the Missoula City Council will consider forgiving $243,000 of that amount.

Councilman Bob Jaffe, who is recommending the loan forgiveness, said the homes never got enough public support in the first place. So the proposal only brings the subsidy to “within the normal range.”

And according to one resident and supporter of the land trust model, partial loan forgiveness is the best option for affordable home ownership for generations to come. Gabriel Furshong, a resident board member of the North Missoula Community Development Corp., said the benefit of keeping the land permanently in trust has been lost in the conversation.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I think of affordable housing, I think of trying to help the poorest in our community find housing that doesn’t exceed 30% of their income. But for the Burns Street Commons, affordable housing is a condo for $150,000 dollars.

I agree with Yglesias, housing is the biggest thing blue states (and blue cities) are screwing up. If liberals want to actually help the demographics they pander to and take for granted, they might want to reflect on this failure.

by lizard

The New York Times has deliberately stepped in another steaming pile of ugly with a piece today declaring Michael Brown to be ‘No Angel':

Michael Brown, 18, due to be buried on Monday, was no angel, with public records and interviews with friends and family revealing both problems and promise in his young life. Shortly before his encounter with Officer Wilson, the police say he was caught on a security camera stealing a box of cigars, pushing the clerk of a convenience store into a display case. He lived in a community that had rough patches, and he dabbled in drugs and alcohol. He had taken to rapping in recent months, producing lyrics that were by turns contemplative and vulgar. He got into at least one scuffle with a neighbor.

Now, before y’all go and jump on the outrage train, I think it’s important to acknowledge the New York Times has a point: rapping can make negro men unpredictable. Usually cash money and big asses can satiate the primal urges of the negro, allowing for the profitable commodification of their urban sound for the privileged white suburban demographic. But not always.

Two recent examples of off-leash rappers highlight this stark racial reality. First up, Talib Kweli went off on CNN’s Don Lemon for interrupting his critique of CNN’s reporting. Kweli expounded on his frustration and regret for joining the spectacle in a post that really should be read in full. Here’s an excerpt:

I was asked to do an interview with Anderson Cooper. However, when I got there it was Don Lemon on set instead. Apparently, he was filling in for Cooper who had another interview somewhere. Lemon, who I had never met, is a polarizing figure in the black community, you either love him or you hate him. Although I’ve never paid enough attention to him to form an opinion either way, I was impressed that he was on a skateboard. It made him seem down to earth, and I looked forward to the exchange.

I’ve been interviewed on the news many times. Each time the interviewer made sure to say hi, greet me and thank me for coming down. Lemon did none of these things, and I found that odd. Still, I didn’t take it personal. I am not a big mainstream artist, I don’t expect everyone to know or even care about who I am.

Many people were happy at how this interview went. They agreed with my point and my stance. There were also many who were incredibly disappointed with me and felt the interview was a wasted opportunity that became a competition of egos instead. I am disappointed in myself for allowing the interview to become a spectacle which further distracts from the execution style killing of unarmed teenager Mike Brown. Even though I went in with the best intentions, I became a part of the spectacle.

I can’t imagine why a conscious hip-hop artist would get frustrated with a good, upstanding negro news anchor like Don Lemon who, just last summer, offered a simple 5-step fix for struggling black communities. And here they are:

“Here’s number five. Pull up your pants. If you’re sagging, I mean — I think it’s your self-esteem that is sagging and who you are as a person it’s sagging. Young people need to be taught respect and there are rules. [...]

Number four now is the n-word. I understand poetic license, but consider this: I hosted a special on the n-word, suggesting that black people stop using it and that entertainers stop deluding yourselves or themselves and others that you’re somehow taking the word back. [...]

Now number three. Respect where you live. Start small by not dropping trash, littering in your own communities. I’ve lived in several predominantly white neighborhoods in my life, I rarely, if ever, witnessed people littering. I live in Harlem now, it’s an historically black neighborhood, every single day I see adults and children dropping their trash on the ground when a garbage can is just feet away. Just being honest here. [...]

Number two, finish school. You want to break the cycle of poverty? Stop telling kids they’re acting white because they go to school or they speak proper English. [...]

And number one, and probably the most important, just because you can have a baby, it doesn’t mean you should. Especially without planning for one or getting married first. More than 72 percent of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock. That means absent fathers. And the studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison and the cycle continues. So, please, black folks, as I said if this doesn’t apply to you, I’m not talking to you. Pay attention to and think about what has been presented in recent history as acceptable behavior. Pay close attention to the hip-hop and rap culture that many of you embrace. A culture that glorifies everything I just mentioned, thug and reprehensible behavior, a culture that is making a lot of people rich, just not you. And it’s not going to.”

(full transcript and video here)

The other rapper (one of my favorites) fronting a genre-busting lyrical overthrow of the capitalist system with his crew, The Coup, had the pleasure of being interviewed by a local Fox affiliate. As Spin reports, it didn’t go as planned:

The Coup’s frontman and occasional Tom Morello collaborator Boots Riley is known for being something of a political firebrand, but, as Cleveland Scene points out, a local Fox affiliate seems to have been blissfully unaware of that fact. The Oakland outfit was set to appear at LKWD Festival in the city on Saturday and festival organizer Kelly Flamos brought him along for an interview during one of the station’s daytime shows. Things did not go quite as Fox planned.

When asked to describe the Coup, Riley outlined his long-running musical project as “a punk-funk Communist revolution band,” which drew a puzzled response from the reporter on hand. That alone might have been enough to upset the Fox honchos, but he continued saying that his goals are to “make everyone dance while we’re telling them about how we need to get rid of the system” and that “exploitation is the primary contradiction in capitalism.”

It all seems like relatively innocent stuff, delivered in an exceedingly calm and matter-of-fact manner, but Flamos later posted an email she received from the station saying that Riley’s “rant” (a loaded word and bald-faced exaggeration) had “not only hurt our station’s credibility, but also the festival’s.

Here is the full email:

 

“Kelly,

I wanted to talk to you about this morning. We set the interview times because have to (sic) hit specific times with live television. I had to get rid of the interview when you guys did not show on time, and now I regret putting it back in.

FOX 8 was not the time or opportunity for Boots to go on his political rant. With his statements he not only hurt our station’s credibility, but also the festival’s. I was looking to do a fun interview and it turned into something entirely different. We will not be reaching out for any interviews in the future.”

 

Boots Riley went to Twitter earlier today to further describe his understanding of the intentional marginalization of his perspective in a series of tweets you have to read:

The problem the FoxNews vid exposes is that it was a mistake4me2b on. MOST media outlets- music&news- dont have me on because of my ideas.

The letter from FoxNews producers exposes that the media forces ppl2edit the voicing of their opinion. “If u say XYZ, ur career will fail.”

If people dont get the message by reading between the lines, the gatekeepers will sometimes say it explicitly.

Some well-known friends of mine were told by music execs during Afghanistan bombing: if they spoke out against war- album wont come out.

The rationale was: speaking out against war would diminish record sales, &that media outlets wouldnt support, so the label couldnt risk it.

So if you wonder why more people don’t know about The Coup, that email gives you a glimpse as to why.

I mean, if ur a promoter, a media outlet threatening to blacklist you for facilitating The Coup is a damn good reason to not book The Coup.

There are MILLIONS of ppl in the US that think the way I do. U won’t hear them on media, so we have a distorted view of what ppl in US think

The reason that views like mine are kept from mainstream media is specifically so we don’t know how radical our own neighbors are.

Amen, Boots.

The New York Times No Angeling Michael Brown is disgusting. Meanwhile, Darren Wilson, the cop who shot Brown, is presumably still out of state, not indicted. Maybe, with reports that Wilson was previously employed in a police department that was DISBANDED because of racial tensions, the focus will shift to the dude who isn’t an unarmed black man shot six times and left to bleed on the street for hours before someone got a sheet to cover him. From the link:

The small city of Jennings, Mo., had a police department so troubled, and with so much tension between white officers and black residents, that the city council finally decided to disband it. Everyone in the Jennings police department was fired. New officers were brought in to create a credible department from scratch.

That was three years ago. One of the officers who worked in that department, and lost his job along with everyone else, was a young man named Darren Wilson.

This won’t go away because there will be more Michael Browns. More importantly this won’t go away because there is a tremendous accumulation of lesser indignities stemming from institutional racism that builds and builds and builds until something breaks.

by lizard

We rolled into Missoula on Friday after a two week road trip vacation to Colorado. It was nice to get back, though I wasn’t quite prepared for the quick disappearance of summer weather and the return of 13,000 students.

We spent most of our time in Colorado Springs, but I did carve out some time to take a quick trip to Denver to legally purchase some high-grade cannabis. Each municipality in Colorado gets to decide if they want to allow recreational cannabis. Colorado Springs has banned recreational retail stores. I talked to one guy at a tattoo/head-shop who said there is interest among city council, but they are waiting to see how Denver’s experiment goes. He also said there is a lot of pressure from the military to keep the ban in place. The military brings a lot of money to the area, so their argument carries a lot of weight.

When I got to Denver I found a store and walked in, a bit nervous. A young woman behind heavy glass took my ID, then buzzed me in. The space was small. The staff wore laniards with name tags and stood almost at attention, attentive and watchful as wide-eyed first timers like myself gaped at large glass jars filled with fragrant buds of Chernobyl Kush and Glass Slipper. The limit for out of state buyers is 7 grams. I ordered a few grams of a sativa strain and a few grams of an indica (for a description of the difference between sativa and indica strains, this High Times article is informative).

The guy helping me went to one of the available touch screen devices used to put in orders and quickly punched in my purchases. A woman at the back of the store, in a room separated from the main display room, filled the orders. I paid her in cash.

The money being generated right now with this new recreational cannabis industry is both an incentive and a barrier. In January, the banks said nope to dope, as reported by the always accurate New York Times, the paper of record that finally, at the end of July, made the editorial decision to publicly advocate for repealing prohibition.

Some banks, it should be noted, have no problem with profiting from illegal drugs, and why should they when the risk of being caught is just fines? And remember, we’re talking blood-drenched cartel money, not entrepreneurial Colorado start-up money.

Colorado is trying a temporary fix with legislation allowing co-ops:

The Colorado legislature on Wednesday voted to create the nation’s first state-run financial cooperative for marijuana sellers, with the aim of giving newly legalized cannabis retail outlets access to key banking services through the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The approval of the so-called “cannabis credit co-ops” came on the final day of the legislative session, as lawmakers seek to address problems marijuana retailers face in having to operate on a cash-only basis, such as burglary threats.

The proposal’s chief sponsor, Representative Jonathan Singer, said the cooperatives are needed because traditional banks and credit unions have been hesitant to serve the burgeoning marijuana industry as long as the drug remains outlawed by the U.S. government.

There is also an investment fund being put together from what started decades ago as a magazine:

When a pot smuggler named Tom Forcade approached Michael Kennedy in 1974 with his plan for a magazine devoted to helping Americans grow weed, Kennedy asked, what’s the point? “He said, ‘The point is, if the government cannot control the means of production of a commodity, then their prohibition is bound to fail,’ ” Kennedy recalls. “Well, 40 years later, we have ’em trembling, don’t we?”

The magazine, High Times, has survived as an icon of dope culture, and Kennedy, a criminal defense lawyer, has improbably ended up as its controlling owner. Now, with marijuana legal in some form in 22 states, the counterculture institution is aiming to raise $300 million for the High Times Growth Fund, which will make private equity investments in the marijuana business.

In Montana, lives are still being destroyed because of prohibition. But that won’t stop the Missoulian from having a little fun with a headline—2 Stoners Face Marijuana Charges After Corvallis Bust:

Two members of the Stoner family were charged with growing marijuana at their family home in Corvallis this week.

Rodney Ray Stoner, 57 and his son, Adam Lee Stoner, 24, appeared this week before Ravalli County Justice of the Peace Robin Clute on felony drug charges after Ravalli County sheriff’s deputies allegedly discovered a grow operation at the elder Stoner’s home.

The charging affidavit in the case said a former Baltimore law enforcement officer and a relative of the Stoners tipped off law enforcement to the alleged grow operation at 877 McWilliams Drive.

Stoner, ha fucking ha ha. Too bad this family will now be financially decimated fighting felony charges. Facing serious time in prison, a plea bargain is likely. Maybe the Missoulian could do some work putting some numbers together regarding what it costs our state to prosecute, incarcerate and/or supervise (probation) people involved in non-violent marijuana production, sales and use (not to mention lost productivity of the people who have their lives destroyed). Just a thought.

Instead of being a criminal, in Colorado I was a customer who paid just over $120 dollars for 6 grams of cannabis. The taxes are steep, but that’s going to be the main incentive for municipalities still on the fence about whether or not to join the Colorado experiment. One of the staff members in the store I talked to said sales in just the month of June was around 24 million dollars (I believe he meant state-wide, not just one store). That’s impressive.

The tide has shifted. It never made sense to enforce cannabis prohibition, but now the economic landscape makes it almost unfeasible to continue paying for enforcement. Instead, we should be focusing more on the dangers of drugs like prescription pain pills and alcohol.

I doubt sanity will penetrate our state legislature any time soon, but maybe our newspapers can stop facilitating shady groups like Safe Community, Safe Kids. That link is to a great post from Montanafesto because apparently it takes unpaid bloggers to do the work reporters should be doing, but can’t when it doesn’t fall in line with the agenda of their corporate paymasters.

By JC

Just wonderin’ what would make all of our readers happier, and because we value your opinion and believe in self-censorship…

Vote for 4 news sources, including a write in for your favorite news sites to avoid!

by lizard

I haven’t watched the war porn featuring journalist James Foley being beheaded by the Islamic State, but I did watch the news break on Twitter and spread. My heart breaks for his family. The ghastly circumstances of his death by itself is hard to fathom, but the public/political manner in which Foley’s death is being processed may almost be worse.

Politically, the UK will now be scrambling to contain the virulent ISIS jihadi contagion. There have already been reports of ISIS supporters in London handing out leaflets. Now, there is speculation James Foley’s executioner is a British citizen:

The British government has started the hunt for the executioner of American reporter James Foley. Foley was killed by beheading and the video of the tragic act was publicly issued by ISIL-run media outlet AlFurqan. Today, the White House authenticated the video and confirmed Foley’s murder.

Prime Minister David Cameron cut his vacation short after just a day of rest to address the situation in Iraq following the discovery of the video, and the belief that the man responsible could be a British citizen. Cameron is working with foreign secretary Philip Hammond to investigate. The executioner in the video was identified as British by his distinct South East/Greater London accent.

The tall British executioner was clad in all black and is wearing a facemask, however, sources within Britain are already starting to identify him. He is the allegedly the leader of a group of British ISIL fighters in Syria. He is known, thus far, only as “John.” A former hostage of these fighters identified him to The Guardian as the head guard in Raqqa. One of his former hostages described him as “intelligent, educated and a devout believer in radical Islamic teachings.” He was born in the United Kingdom.

If Americans weren’t so insulated from their government’s complicity in creating the conditions for ISIS to thrive, Obama would be scrambling more than he is right now as his new Iraq war escalates.

He may even eschew golf, were America not so apathetic about how its tax dollars arm jihadis and militarizes police departments.

But the president does indeed continue to play golf as over a dozen journalists have been arrested by Ferguson police. One sociopath cop was even captured on camera shouting I’m going to fucking kill you.

Obama would have to really stretch his stage skills to portray any real concern for journalists. I mean, considering James Risen has, I think accurately, accused Obama of being the ‘greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation‘, why would anyone expect this administration to be responsive to the police state treatment of journalists in Ferguson (not to mention the institutional racism fueling the unrest in the first place).

ISIS claims to be holding and ready to execute another journalist, Steve Sotloff. There is a pretty good chance that is going to happen, because there is no way Obama would risk looking weak, especially considering a recently disclosed special op mission failed to free Foley and other hostages.

More troops will be heading to Iraq. Air strikes are ongoing. Congress doesn’t give a shit about it’s role so Obama is free to escalate his new Iraq war as he sees fit.

And if journalists want to report from the front lines of American-made chaos, they do so at their own risk.

by lizard

It’s been a little over a month since Malaysian flight 17 was shot down from the skies over Eastern Ukraine. Considering the subsequent month featured a (ongoing) Israeli slaughter of Palestinians and a (ongoing) police/military occupation of Ferguson, Missouri, it is somewhat understandable that most Americans don’t have the mental capacity for continued reflection of a month-old atrocity that significantly escalated the warming Cold war between western governments and Russia.

Well, there are some people who are interested in following through on investigative efforts, like the Dutch:

Ten Dutch prosecutors and 200 police officers are involved in gathering and preparing the evidence for a criminal trial.

There are three main questions about the eventual MH17 trial: Where will it be conducted? What crimes will the accused be charged with? How long before we see the suspects in court?

The Dutch prosecutors are still in the initial stages of the criminal investigation, but they have already dismissed speculation that the trial could be held at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Pepe Escobar has a different take on who may be responsible, and is also more interested in what Malaysia may have to say about this geopolitical mess:

The Pentagon, with 20-20 vision over Ukraine, knows what happened. Russian intelligence not only knows what happened but offered a tantalizing glimpse of it in an official presentation, dismissed by the “West”. The best technical analyses point not to “Putin’s missile” – a BUK – but to a combination of R-60 air-to-air missile and the auto-cannon of an Su-25.

A reader led me to this fair assessment by former USAF and Boeing engineer Raymond Blohm: “With proper vectoring, a Su-25 need not be quite as fast as a Boeing 777 in cruise. It just has to get to a missile-firing position. Since the 777 was not maneuvering, it would be simple to pre-calculate when to get in a certain spot in the sky below the 777. From there, it’s the missile that has the speed and altitude capability to hit the 777. (The R-60 is a very capable missile.) After the missile takes out an engine, both the 777’s max speed and its max altitude are well within the Su-25 fighter’s speed & altitude capabilities. Then, the Su-25 can show off its cannon power.”

Follow the engine wreckage. Follow the cockpit wreckage. Follow the motive. One cannot even imagine the tectonic geopolitical plates clashing were the Kiev regime to be deemed responsible. It would be the vanishing point for the whole – warped – notion of the Empire of Chaos’s “indispensable” exceptionalism.

So as MH370 totally vanished, the MH17 story must also totally vanish. The Dutch and the British might eventually come out and hold a high-profile press conference telling the world what His Master’s Voice finally redacted. Still, one may count on certified, residual outrage, if not puzzlement, by a large number of grieving Dutch families. And one may count on certified outrage by Malaysia as a nation.

On August 7th, Malaysia just came right out and accused Kiev:

A Thursday article in the New Straits Times, Malaysia’s flagship English-language newspaper, charged the US- and European-backed Ukrainian regime in Kiev with shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 in east Ukraine last month. Given the tightly controlled character of the Malaysian media, it appears that the accusation that Kiev shot down MH17 has the imprimatur of the Malaysian state.

The US and European media have buried this remarkable report, which refutes the wave of allegations planted by the CIA in international media claiming that Russian president Vladimir Putin was responsible for the destruction of MH17, without presenting any evidence to back up this charge.

The New Straits Times article, titled “US analysts conclude MH17 downed by aircraft,” lays out evidence that Ukrainian fighter aircraft attacked the jetliner with first a missile, then with bursts of 30-millimeter machine gun fire from both sides of MH17. The Russian army has already presented detailed radar and satellite data showing a Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 fighter jet tailing MH17 shortly before the jetliner crashed. The Kiev regime denied that its fighters were airborne in the area, however.

There is still no substantive evidence (save the pathetic reliance on sketchy social media accounts) being presented by US authorities backing up the immediate assertion it was Russian-backed rebels who shot down the plane, killing 298 people. And now there is no real mainstream media attention at all.

It doesn’t look good for the demonize Russia crowd. In the aftermath of this tragedy, James Conner threw a tantrum over our justified skepticism of the western propaganda narrative, calling JC and myself anti-American.

If one thing is certain, it’s that most Americans won’t think about something if it’s not being reported by MSM sources. We are on to other tragedies, like an American journalist being beheaded by ISIS. This ghastly execution is sure to increase public support for Obama’s new war in Iraq. Unfortunately the context of how jihadists were armed by US proxies in Syria to topple Assad, and then mutated into a fighting force capable of taking large parts of Iraq, won’t be a part of our national propaganda reporting.

Without the context of recent history, moving from tragedy to tragedy, Americans are a malleable population very vulnerable to state propaganda. It would be nice if that would change. I doubt it ever will.

by lizard

The Daines campaign will predictably try to tie Amanda Curtis to the Obama regime. Knowing this, I have a wild suggestion for the Curtis campaign: tie Steve Daines to Obama.

How?

Start talking about Obama’s support for the corporate Pandora’s Box known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

For a union gal like Curtis, this should be an easy position to take. The link is an interview with Adam Weissman and lays out quite succinctly the serious global threat of corporate control this partnership poses. Curtis can both distinguish herself from the Obama regime and talk about the damage to American labor past trade agreements like NAFTA have already caused.

I don’t think Steve Daines has taken a position on the TPP yet, but the Curtis campaign should try to get Daines to say if he supports fast-tracking legislation. If he won’t respond to take a position, emphasize the secrecy involved in all the negotiations that have thus far taken place. Tie Daines to Obama that way; say both men want to please their corporate overlords in secret because if people knew what was being planned with this quiet corporate coup, they would be up in arms over it.

This is a critical issue for what remains of our democratic process in this country. Amanda Curtis can take this issue and aggressively separate herself from the corporate neoliberal Democrats that helped spawn NAFTA while associating the corporate empty suit of Steve Daines with the Obama regime.

Just a thought.

by lizard

It’s a good thing Amanda Curtis was selected to replace Walsh because some Curtis supporters were going to make it very difficult to shift from bashing to supporting an Adams candidacy. Don Pogreba even insinuated that Adams could be the one behind the NYT takedown of Walsh. Quite the conspiracy theory.

Now that Curtis has been thrown into this 4th down hail mary scenario, Pogreba has some advice from the sidelines. Part of that advice entails trying to mend the rift establishment Democrat operatives have exacerbated with the Walsh debacle:

Unlike purists who would rather lose elections, I understand the impulse for Montana statewide candidates to run as moderate, or even conservative, Democrats. Winning statewide elections in this state requires a different kind of candidate than winning in legislative seats in Missoula or Butte, and I’m glad we have had a moderate Senator voting for sensible policy rather than Dennis Rehberg voting for anything.

That being said, there’s nothing to be gained by Amanda Curtis positioning herself as a moderate here. For one reason, there’s more than enough video and audio to make it clear that a moderate candidate she’s not. The Republicans are going to do their best to paint her as some kind of a radical; instead of moving to the center, she’d be much better served by embracing the charges—and then forcefully asserting that if supporting working men and women, ensuring adequate wages, and access to education are radical ideas, the problem is with the Republican Party, not her.

The other reason to embrace her liberal view is to inspire young voters to get involved and maybe even increase the passion from some of us old folks. There has certainly been a cost to the Democratic Party as it has moved to the center; working to reinvigorate the liberal base of the Party is probably even more important than winning this race.

It’s good there are some Democrats capable of acknowledging they are in trouble with the youth vote and they are in trouble with their base, because both are true. Of course some of those Democrats still can’t help making smug distinctions between themselves and the “purists” who say essentially the same thing.

Amanda Curtis’ selection will make for some good perception rehab for Montana Democrats and positions Curtis to make a fast rise within the party. But she should be weary of the snakes that now surround her. In that vein, here’s part of a comment from Carla Augustad I ran across at MT Cowgirl:

What ‘Amanda and Kevin should know is that there is NO LOYALTY in Montana’s Democratic party.

Look to former chairman and later candidate Dennis MacDonald, and look to Pam Bucy as well as looking at me, Carla Augustad.

I put myself and my views out there against a person that Idid not know, Mark Blasdel, three tines in a row-not to get myself elected, but to build a Democratic movement.

While I was throwing myself out there for an ideological movement, the Flathead Democrats were saving a few pennies by hiring Mark Blasdel’s publicly funded employees to cater to the Flathead Democrats fundraisers.

The reason that I choose to expose myself here is to highlight the short sighted position of the decision making Democrats in Montana.

The ONLY things that the Montana Democrats, or the Flathead Democrats want from me are cash money (that my SS Disability Payments do not afford), Hell Yeahs (that my conscience cannot go along with) or secretarial services (that I do not have the skills for).

That leaves me pretty much out of the influence loop!

My position here is that Dirk, Kevin and Amanda, really need to be careful of their instant friends.

To emphasize the significance of money, the actual Cowgirl post lays it out explicitly, and even audaciously demands that Adams ponies up some dough:

Now Curtis will have to go from zero to sixty very fast. She will need to raise a mean clip of dough before the reports are filed at the end of the quarter, to show what she’s made of. It’s not clear who sits in her inner circle other than her husband, but let’s hope she’s taking good advice. One thing she must do, for certain, is to keep alive for the next few days the fire that this entire event has lit. She should let it burn out only when there is no more fuel. And everything she does must be done with fundraising in mind. For despite our idealistic feelings that money should not matter, it’s unfortunately about the only thing that does matter nowadays. If you don’t raise competitive cash, you lose big. And it will be that way until we have a public financing system. Curtis’s job is to convert the present excitement surrounding her selection into hard cash. She has about four weeks to do it. By mid September she needs $300,000 in the bank. That would require her to raise close to $500,000. It is a very tall order. Nine out of ten voters today do not even know that she is running for office, let alone know anything about her. That won’t change much despite all the free media she can garner. By the way, Amanda’s first financial ask should be from Dirk Adams, who, as a wealthy Democrat and good sport, should write it for the maximum amount. Amanda should then tweet a photo of the check, showing unity to Adams supporters.

Isn’t that rich?

Amanda Curtis seems like a really intelligent, capable individual who will now experience a compressed political deluge depicting her as an anti-gun union extremist carrying out the liberal agenda of Obama. The Lee newspaper attack machine is already geared up and going on those fronts.

Good luck, Amanda. And be weary of the snakes at your feet.

by lizard

As the utterly contemptuous police chief of Ferguson enacted a second assassination on Mike Brown today, it might be helpful to add some context to the militarized police response making international headlines this week.

Tweets of solidarity and advice from Palestinians on social media hinted at a trend that’s been ongoing for years—not militarization, but Israelification—of US law enforcement:

Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement, a phenomenon that journalist Max Blumenthal dubbed “the Israelification of America’s security apparatus.” Israeli forces and US police departments are so entrenched that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has opened a branch in Tel Aviv.

In 2011, then St. Louis County Police Department chief Timothy Fitch attended the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) National Counter-Terrorism Seminar, an annual week-long Israeli training camp where US law enforcement executives “study first hand Israel’s tactics and strategies” directly from “senior commanders in the Israel National Police, experts from Israel’s intelligence and security services, and the Israel Defense Forces,” according to the ADL’s website.

Until Thursday night, the St. Louis County Police Department appeared to be the largest most militarized and brutish force operating in Ferguson. “St. Louis County Police” was scrawled across the side of most of the tactical unit vehicles and appeared on the combat-style uniforms of officers aiming assault rifles at peaceful protesters.

The ADL boasts of sending more than 175 senior US law enforcement officials from 100 different agencies to the seminar since 2004, which are “taking the lessons they learned in Israel back to the United States.”

Are Americans going to sit back and take this?

by lizard

In 1893, Katharine Bates wrote a poem about Pikes Peak, the mountain that stands watch over Colorado Springs. That poem was the basis for what later became the song America the Beautiful.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As I walked with my kids and new pup along a beautiful creek, the trash I kept finding in the creek was definitely not beautiful. I think we can all agree on that, right? So, as we fished plastic cups and burst balloons from the water, I thought about how much people in this very conservative city of nearly half a million people really hate paying taxes for services. If having beautiful parks is going to cost us money, then screw beautiful parks. That is apparently the sentiment here. From the link:

In 2009 the city was staring down a $40 million revenue gap and a $700 million infrastructural to-do list, but even when residents were faced with drastic cuts to services, they voted overwhelmingly against a property tax hike. And so, as Zach Patton writes in the September issue of Governing, Colorado Springs’ entrenched base of tax-averse libertarians and conservative evangelicals has created a closely watched model of city management that resembles a civic version of the limbo dance.

How low can Colorado Springs go? Patton reports that the city turned off one-third of its streetlights, removed trash cans from parks, slashed funding to local museums and community centers, and stopped mowing street medians, which became so overrun with weeds that they violated property management codes. Evening and weekend bus service was eliminated entirely. The city flushed 550 people from its payroll.

Looking around my in-laws house, there are beautiful antiques everywhere. There is even a bronze nude statue in one of the rooms. Oh yeah, I thought, some of those artists back in the day used to think the human form was beautiful. Well, I might not be in Missoula right now, but I have managed to stay informed on the latest crisis to descend: naked bicyclists. It appears that there are lots of very passionate descendants of the Puritans ready to burn these evil nudists at the stake for threatening their…their what? I get the annoyance of having some Portland event transposed on our idyllic mountain college town, but there are literally people in tears over this. C’mon, people. Try spending some time in some hell-hole US foreign policy has created, like Libya, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, Yemen, Sudan, Honduras…I guess what I’m trying to say is be thankful you aren’t being murdered and raped and your home blown to pieces.

Of course if you’re black in America, there is always a chance you’ll be murdered by cops or vigilantes. That’s the ugly truth. It doesn’t matter that it’s 2014 and our president’s pigment is darker than all his predecessors. If you’re an unarmed black teenager, at any moment you might get shot and killed. And then, if people show their intense displeasure, be prepared for cops that look like soldiers. Oh, and if these cops need a media blackout as they terrorize you, then the FAA will be happy to oblige by creating a no-fly zone, so news outlets can’t record the police state response to justified rage.

I’m sorry, that’s totally not the official reason for the no-fly zone. From the link:

The reason listed on the Federal Aviation Commission’s website for the no-fly zone over the city is “TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES.”

To get more of a sense of what that means, ThinkProgress called the helicopter dispatcher at the St. Louis County Police Department. St. Louis, not Ferguson, has been “responsible for crowd control,” a Ferguson Police spokesperson said.

According to the dispatcher, the department originally requested the no-fly zone — for certain flights; “the ceiling is only at 5,000 feet,” the dispatcher said, though the website actually lists 3,000 feet — for 24 hours. The department then asked the FAA to extend the ban on flying.

The reason? “It’s just for a no fly zone because we have multiple helicopters maneuvering in the area and we were having some problems with news aircrafts flying around there,” the dispatcher, who would only identify himself by his first name, Chris, said.

The effort to stop media from flying over the area to film is troubling, especially in light of reports that police have turned journalists away from the sites of the protests.

Sometimes artistic expression can make an impact on how we perceive violence in our communities and our world. One great example was the project Not A Bug Splat (please go to the link to see the picture):

We hear a great deal about the ruthless ingenuity of military hardware, but this is something else altogether. It is a new device currently on deployment in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It has the power to startle an enemy for a moment and perhaps even render him incapable of using his weapon afterwards. In the medium-to-long term, the enemy may suffer from impaired judgment and, in some cases, be neutralised. The device is a picture of his victim.

Also, anything Banksy does is brilliant (pics).

But artists sometimes pay a steep price for their artistic sensitivity. Locally, Jaime Kelly killed himself last week, and yesterday the world learned Robin Williams decided to do the same thing. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s also very common. Here’s the wiki breakdown:

Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, in the United States as of 2010, more people died of suicide than in car accidents. In 2010, the total number of suicide deaths in the United States was 38,364. Historically, suicide rates rise during times of financial stress and economic setbacks. In 2009 it was the 7th leading cause of death for males, and the 16th leading cause of death for females. Suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.

Now that a famous person has killed himself, there is the predictable call to de-stigmatize mental illness; to implore those feeling suicidal to seek help; to properly acknowledge the mental health crisis that exists because it’s not a funding priority for a government that only cares what you think if you have money and influence:

A shattering new study by two political science professors has found that ordinary Americans have virtually no impact whatsoever on the making of national policy in our country. The analysts found that rich individuals and business-controlled interest groups largely shape policy outcomes in the United States.

This national outpouring will maybe last for a day or two. Then some other shiny object will come along and nothing will ultimately come of it.

Because America isn’t beautiful.

Empires in decline rarely are.

by jhwygirl

In full disclosure, I am 200% in the Dave Wanzenried for U.S. Senate camp. I firmly believe that if any democrat candidate has a chance to beat Steve Daines, the only person who’s thrown their hat in the ring that has the bonafides to run for the office and the speaking ability to motivate voters is State Senator Dave Wanzenried. Wilmer was another favorite, but she has withdrawn herself from consideration as of yesterday.

The Montana Democratic Party have a chance here (even though many think it is impossible) to reverse a few things about the Montana U.S. Senate seat race here in Montana that have gone pretty much disastrously so far.

They are able to return this race – sort of – to the people. But already the winds are wafting with party insider activities.

We are 84 days out from the election. In terms of an actual horse race, it really hasn’t started its full run, but there’s no doubt winning is a very very uphill battle for the Montana Democratic Party.

Money…name recognition – it’s a K2 climb, baby – no doubt. Montana Dems have to create excitement to raise the money and get some free press name recognition. They’ll need it to get outside money, which they are, unfortunately, going to have to rely heavily given the very little amount of time the candidate will have to raise cash.

But getting Tester elected in 2006 was that, too. He was an unknown underdog up until the primary. I know – I was making calls for him.

So who is the party insider’s choice to run for the U.S. Senate seat? A 34-year old teacher from Butte, who has one legislative session under her belt. Who decided not to run for re-election, but is considering a state senate seat for 2016. She also wrote a video blog, uploaded to YouTube for most of the 2013 legislative session.

Her name is Amanda Curtis.

Now, I watched some of Amanda’s videos back during the session. I don’t really remember much of her speaking on the floor or in committees, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t. Lots of people have talked about her – she’s certainly a favorite at the Montana Democratic party’s online mouthpiece. She’s shown she has smarts. Curtis got two bills (out of 9) passed in the difficult 2013 legislature, while of the 7 that didn’t get anywhere, 1 made it out of the house and into the state senate, at least.

Not bad for a freshman, really.

Is Curtis U.S. Senate material? I started asking around last Friday when her name came up at the Dem mouthpiece. “Hey – what about Amanda Curtis?” Well, there wasn’t a single person who knew who she was. I’ve probably asked about 20 people at this point. Of even the few that read newspapers and have opinions about Montana politics and actually talk about their opinions – no one knew who Amanda Curtis was. When I told them what I knew, the most common response was a general reply that “well, they weren’t really going to win anyway at this point.”

Currently the only name in the ring that has actually carried barrels of water in the legislature for Montana Democrats is David Wanzenried. Here’s Wanz’s work in the 2013 legislature.

Here’s his work in the 2011 legislature

Here’s 2009.

2007 legislature

2005 legislature.

2003 legislature

I’m not going any further back. Plus, this purpose of this post isn’t to highlight Wanzenried’s accomplishments. I don’t know that the legislative website actually goes back to his start in politics – but you get the gist. Wanzenried has a political resume like no other currently wishing to be considered for the Dems U.S. Senate ticket, and substantial work, at that.

But no – insiders at the Montana Democrats, along with MEA-MFT have – and here I’m going to be blunt and politically incorrect, but very accurate in what those insiders have told me – the insiders have decided that only a woman is going to excite the base, and that means Amanda Curtis, a freshman legislator and teacher from Butte, is the person who should be Montana’s next Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, to replace Max Baucus.

To run against Steve Daines.

Now, for the record, back in 2008 I found McCain’s pick of of the unknown-and-lacking-political-resume Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket an insult. McCain picked Palin because Hillary had created such a stir that he needed a Hail Mary that first week of September in 2008. He needed attention and he needed to separate himself from Obama, which had just blown America away with his Hope stuff at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He needed someone pretty who could grab up some women votes (that Obama was scooping up) and who could excite the youth. McCain and the GOP needed thunder, and they needed the media to give a shit

So they picked a – pardon my vulgarity – they picked a vagina.

They didn’t want a smart woman who could express opinions and thoughts – they wanted someone they thought they could control, and someone that didn’t have a long history to bring up dirt (which sort of came back to bite them, didn’t it?)

I mean – they could have picked Carly Fiorina. They could have picked Elizabeth Dole. Condi Rice! Or Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

But they went with Palin.

It was insulting as a woman that the GOP thought that they could pull votes for McCain by putting any female on the ticket. Not substance – just a woman.

I mean – I can’t stand Carly Fiorina, but I was pissed for her and those other I mentioned. Except Condi – her association w/Bush was enough to make me not care about her.

Sure worked out, though, given the choices. And damn – election night 2012 was over by like 10:30 p.m. MST time, wasn’t it?

I got nothing against Amanda Curtis. She may eventually build a resume that would have her a viable challenge against a candidate like Steve Daines. But if Montana democrats and MEA MFT think that they can elevate a freshman state house representative to a winning US Senate candidate, they are absolutely – dare I say it? – batcrap crazy.

I’d love to have a viable woman potential candidate around. I’ve been reminded by many that now is just as good a time as any. At some point, there’s a choice to be made to support a woman candidate.

Now, unfortunately, does not appear to be that time. If Frankie Wilmer had stayed in, I would have wholeheartedly supported her. Quite honestly, I’m bummed she left the consideration – better to have a pool of quality and experience.

Sadly, without Frankie Wilmer or Denise Juneau, Montana Dems have yet to find themselves a viable woman candidate.

I’m also going to say this – Montana Dems have only themselves to blame for not having a viable woman candidate. They didn’t even have one running in the primary – so they can’t push the blame on Bullock for that.

And the idea that Montana Dems and MEA MFT can push any old female on us as a viable candidate is, quite frankly, sexist.

It’s an insult to me as a woman voter. It’s an insult and it’s sexist.

by lizard

I had no idea when we planned our late summer getaway to Colorado earlier this year how badly I would need the break from Missoula.

On Montana Public Radio yesterday there was a story that preceded the Walsh scandal, a story that’s really rattled me. While most of Missoula was gearing up for Sir Paul’s performance on Tuesday, a body was being pulled out of the Clark Fork River. The investigation moved fast, and for good reason. Details of what happened to his 36 year old HUMAN BEING are incredibly disturbing. I don’t feel like getting into the details, but you can read about it here if you want.

Then, later in the week, a “transient” was caught raping a 50 year old woman (also homeless) in broad daylight downtown, in an alley. A passerby saw the rape in progress and called police.

I wish I could more explicitly counter the homeless hysteria coming. I wish distinctions could be made between the vast majority of people in need of temporary shelter and a meal once in awhile, and the small percentage of drifters and drug-fueled criminals who commit heinous acts of violence.

But I can’t, because I’m over capacity.

Hopefully I’ll keep the posting light while I’m gone.

Stay safe, Missoula. I’m out of here.

by lizard

Was John Walsh the victim of a mean and unfair media attack, the kind of attack that is never directed in the same proportion against Republicans? Don Pogreba’s Few Last Thoughts on Walsh’s political implosion has a comment thread with an interesting smattering of wailing against the media. For the best diatribe, here’s Pete Talbot:

I wasn’t Walsh’s biggest fan — voted for Adams in the primary — but to dump Walsh because he didn’t attribute parts of a paper he wrote for the War College over seven years ago?

This makes me sick.

I used to have respect for journalists and their editors. Now they’re whores for headlines, from the NY Times down to our local rags. There’s Daines: sue the President, fuck the poor and immigrant kids, and a woman’s choice, and health care; deny climate change and, oh yeah, Earth is less than 10,000 years old. Where’s the journalistic outrage on that?

Journalists used to do their own research. I know times are tough in the industry but to rely on opposition research to do your work for you and then make it a big story? Pathetic. Of course, ramp up the pablum on the editorial pages, too: call for Walsh’s resignation. Bold move.

And Montana Democrats are screwed. No big name is going to step up to the plate for the Senate race and the down party ticket is going to suffer; nationally, statewide and locally. It’s a mess.

Nationally, get ready for a Republican controlled Congress. To plagiarize TPM: … the Paul Ryan budget with its huge cuts to safety-net programs and fundamental changes to Medicare … a bevy of limits on access to abortion and birth control, harsh and punitive measures aimed at immigrants and lower-income people who get public assistance, and repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety (and) a whole lot of ideological grandstanding, including, most recently, the attempt to sue the President.

Same statewide and in your own hometown.

On that note, I’m having a shot and going to bed.

Don Pogreba, of course, agrees (and of course, as always, he’s astonished):

I agree. I’ve always been a pain in the ass critic of the media in Montana, but this has been astonishing. The worst I can remember.

I don’t know that I’ve been angrier, or more worried about the direction we’re headed, in a long time.

I have learned from reading Democrat blogs that it’s just fine to be critical of the media when it’s hitting your candidate or issue.

But sometimes it’s not okay to blame the media, like when Kirsten Pabst railed against the Missoulian and Gwen Florio for stoking the rape scandal. To be fair, scapegoating the media in that case did come off as tasteless, considering the source.

And sometimes, if your both critical of the US media (like Talbot’s now despised New York Times) and open to the perspective of enemy state media, then not only are you a crazy conspiracy theorist, but you’re also an anti-American.

But media smear campaigns are ok if they are against crazy libertarian presidential candidates, like Ron Paul, so don’t expect any wailing about the unfair treatment of Ron Paul from those now aghast at the media in regards to Walsh.

In Ron Paul’s case, it was more conservatives jumping on the racist newsletter media attack because Ron Paul was gaining in the polls, thus a threat (that sounds kinda familiar).

I bring up Ron Paul because, as Democrats are licking their wounds and taking shots of booze, a recent piece in that dastardly New York Times is wondering has the libertarian moment arrived ?

Before getting to that piece, I pointed out to Pete Talbot in the comment thread of my last post that Democrats are losing ground with the youth vote to libertarians, to which Pete responded with this:

So how do you woo them back? With Libertarian policies of Social Darwinism; including no government, no regulation — basically anarcho-capitalism?

I think the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging there is, in fact, a problem. A problem with Democrats. From the NYT piece:

Libertarians, who long have relished their role as acerbic sideline critics of American political theater, now find themselves and their movement thrust into the middle of it. For decades their ideas have had serious backing financially (most prominently by the Koch brothers, one of whom, David H., ran as vice president on the 1980 Libertarian Party ticket), intellectually (by way of policy shops like the Cato Institute and C.E.I.) and in the media (through platforms like Reason and, as of last year, “The Independents”). But today, for perhaps the first time, the libertarian movement appears to have genuine political momentum on its side. An estimated 54 percent of Americans now favor extending marriage rights to gay couples. Decriminalizing marijuana has become a mainstream position, while the drive to reduce sentences for minor drug offenders has led to the wondrous spectacle of Rick Perry — the governor of Texas, where more inmates are executed than in any other state — telling a Washington audience: “You want to talk about real conservative governance? Shut prisons down. Save that money.” The appetite for foreign intervention is at low ebb, with calls by Republicans to rein in federal profligacy now increasingly extending to the once-sacrosanct military budget. And deep concern over government surveillance looms as one of the few bipartisan sentiments in Washington, which is somewhat unanticipated given that the surveiller in chief, the former constitutional-law professor Barack Obama, had been described in a 2008 Times Op-Ed by the legal commentator Jeffrey Rosen as potentially “our first president who is a civil libertarian.”

Meanwhile, the age group most responsible for delivering Obama his two terms may well become a political wild card over time, in large part because of its libertarian leanings. Raised on the ad hoc communalism of the Internet, disenchanted by the Iraq War, reflexively tolerant of other lifestyles, appalled by government intrusion into their private affairs and increasingly convinced that the Obama economy is rigged against them, the millennials can no longer be regarded as faithful Democrats — and a recent poll confirmed that fully half of voters between ages 18 and 29 are unwedded to either party. Obama has profoundly disappointed many of these voters by shying away from marijuana decriminalization, by leading from behind on same-sex marriage, by trumping the Bush administration on illegal-immigrant deportations and by expanding Bush’s N.S.A. surveillance program. As one 30-year-old libertarian senior staff member on the Hill told me: “I think we expected this sort of thing from Bush. But Obama seemed to be hip and in touch with my generation, and then he goes and reads our emails.”

Desperate to lay everything at the feet of Republicans, here again is Pete Talbot:

I don’t believe Obama has disenfranchised young voters as much as you say, JC, but young people want a panacea and that ain’t America right now. The science-denying, hate-the-poor, war-mongering Republicans are getting close to taking over Congress. Can you explain that?

Sure, Obama has disappointed to some degree on some issues, but it’s the whole damn system: a do-nothing Congress, absurd Supreme Court rulings and corrupt campaign financing that have really turned them off. Most of the blame, but not all of these failings, lies with the Republicans, don’t you think?

I suppose I can’t blame youngsters for looking at an alternative party. I did. But the Koch funded Libertarians? Shit.

The more I think about it: the wars, the free marketeering, the safety net cuts; assaults on the environment, women, children and immigrants — I repeat myself for the umpteenth time — fall mostly in Republican laps.

Pete can say it, but that doesn’t mean the kids will buy it.

The sad reality is the Obama brand they were sold was the same crony-capitalist product lurking behind nice, richly pigmented packaging. And that product has continued to push the establishment consensus of perpetual war and domestic austerity.

Is the whole damn system corrupt? Pretty much, yeah. So why are people surprised when a distorted media gets an assist in a political take-down? Why do some partisans find the local media’s participation so astonishing?

Montana Democrats will probably learn some lessons from this Baucus to Hail-Mary-Candidate debacle, like invest more in opposition research. And expand dark money libertarian honey pots to peel off support from the Christo-fascists. And buy a few more ad spots in local newspapers to help their failing business model.

The problem is I don’t think those are the right lessons.

by lizard

The clock is ticking for the Walsh campaign. Politico brought out the long knives with this piece citing political opportunists excited to nibble on carrion.

To further feed the frenzy, Cowgirl drops some clues, like this:

There’s another thing I learned tonight, courtesy of an astute tipster: Nancy Keenan’s name appears to have been fully scrubbed from the website of the political firm that she works for, Hilltop Public Solutions. That’s a political consulting firm with an office in Billings as well as other cities around America. This cannot be a coincidence.

Followed a few paragraphs later with this:

One final piece of intrigue. Hilltop Public Solutions is, in addition to employing Keenan, the firm that has been doing all of Walsh’s campaign work, taking a hefty fee. The firm is a collection of former Baucus and Tester staffers. Much of what we are reading and seeing about Walsh today–the sources, the spokespeople, etc.–is the work of this firm. So if Walsh has reached the end of the line, he is, in his final hours, depending on a workforce with a serious conflict of interest. It’s interesting if nothing else. And it’s proof again that politics is a place where self interest always lurking. I suppose, however, that I can’t blame them for wanting to dump him in favor of Keenan, who will most certainly hire back the firm, which is her former employer.

In the comment thread of that post a commenter by the name of publius takes a shot a jhwygirl. I only draw attention to it because I think it’s unfair to extend the conspiratorial smear JC and I have received to an author of this site who has much more broad credibility and for good reason. She earned it.

I do find it curious that publius would say this:

Oh- oh, someone has alarmed the conspiracy theorists

just because jhwygirl tweets stuff like this:

Start talking about Wanzenried & Frankie Wilmer & immediately party blog drops the chosen one’s name. #MTPol

and this:

Walsh’s withdrawal will be timed so there is ZERO time for grassroots swell. Brought to you once again by Montana Democrats. #MTPol

Montana Democrats fucked this one up bad. I mean, even Don Pogreba is begging Walsh for a decision:

You’ve received absolutely unfair criticism and harassment from a press obsessed with a relatively trivial matter that’s easy to editorialize about. You’ve probably received criticism from people who are more interested in furthering their own agendas than in protecting yours. And you’re probably angry, understandably so.

But you need to make a decision about this campaign. Either way, I know that you’ll fight for the people of this state until the end of your term, because that’s the kind of person you are and the kind of person you’ll continue to be.

I’m trying to be charitable by not quoting more.

Fridays are good news days to dump things, so I expect that could be the day we hear the decision.

Until then, good time to generate buzz is being wasted.


The mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.

By JC

In remembrance of all that happened 69 years ago… Out of such power, empires are born and pursued. Please give Thomas Merton’s “Original Child Bomb” prose poem a listen and contemplate the fate of thousands of nuclear bombs still pointed at targets around the world.

“Original Child Bomb” is one of a small number of pieces written by Thomas Merton which he described as “anti-poems…” Merton’s anti-poems are characterised by the conscious and ironic use of the debased but now-commonplace language that masks the horror of genocide. 

(Pull quote, poem text and audio from “Dante’s Ghost”)

 

 

Full text of “Original Child Bomb” below the fold.
Continue Reading »

by lizard

There is a scandal that should, at the very least, destroy Brennan’s career. If it doesn’t, what does that say about the executive office? About American democracy? At Counterpunch today, Dave Lindorff doesn’t mince words:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says that John Brennan, the director of the CIA who has finally admitted that he lied when he angrily and repeatedly insisted that the agency did not spy on staff members of the Senate committee charged with oversight US intelligence agencies, “has a lot of work to do,” before she can forgive him for lying to and spying on her committee.

Not really. The truth is Feinstein and her committee have a lot of work to do. If Brennan does not resign, or get forced out of his job, immediately, his work is done. That is to say, he will have succeeded in fatally wounding what’s left of the democratic, Constitutional government that traces its roots back to 1776.

The CIA spied on Congress and Brennan lied about it. How can Obama not immediately demand Brennan’s resignation? What are the implications of Brennan remaining director? Lindorff is asking the same questions:

Why is he still in office as CIA director? Why, indeed, is Clapper still his boss, as head of National Intelligence?

The only conceivable answer at this point has to be that the members of Congress, including the members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the President, (who remember, has the absolute authority to fire both men at will), are so thoroughly corrupt and compromised themselves that they dare not go after these Constitutional criminals, jailing them for their utter contempt of Congress, and having them for high treason.

Leaving Clapper, and especially Brennan, in office is the ultimate surrender by Congress of what little remains of democratic government in the US. It is the end of the Constitution. If secret government cannot be called to account, then the country is being run by a secret government whose power no longer has any limits.

Don’t expect Obama to do a goddamn thing. He’s too busy playing golf and increasing tenfold the watch lists for the out-of-control security state. This latter information comes from another leaker within that security state, leaked to The Intercept. From the link:

Nearly half of the people on the U.S. government’s widely shared database of terrorist suspects are not connected to any known terrorist group, according to classified government documents obtained by The Intercept.

Of the 680,000 people caught up in the government’s Terrorist Screening Database—a watchlist of “known or suspected terrorists” that is shared with local law enforcement agencies, private contractors, and foreign governments—more than 40 percent are described by the government as having “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.” That category—280,000 people—dwarfs the number of watchlisted people suspected of ties to al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah combined.

The documents, obtained from a source in the intelligence community, also reveal that the Obama Administration has presided over an unprecedented expansion of the terrorist screening system. Since taking office, Obama has boosted the number of people on the no fly list more than ten-fold, to an all-time high of 47,000—surpassing the number of people barred from flying under George W. Bush.

Where will this end? If Congress is too corrupt and intimidated to provide effective oversight, and the executive office (Obama) is too corrupt and complicit in systemic abuses of our constitutional rights to fire the treasonous bastards destroying the last shreds of our democracy, where do we go?

Lindorff has an answer, and I don’t like it one bit:

There are ways to recover government of, by and for the people, but they are no longer likely to involve elections, since secret government has the power to subvert elections. If Brennan and Clapper can get away with what they have thus far gotten away with — not just thumbing their noses at Congress, but actually spying on its members with impunity — then the only way to take back popular government remains overthrowing those in power, dragging them before public tribunals, and administering people’s justice, whatever form that may ultimately take.

Sen. Feinstein is wrong. Brennan doesn’t “have a lot of work to do.”

We do.

by lizard

While Israel was doing this:

The UN has been dragged unwillingly into the war between Israel and Hamas after six of its schools were hit in two weeks and weapons caches found in three, violating the organisation’s neutrality.

The attacks on UN schools sheltering people fleeing bombardment have reverberated around the world, with unusually strong condemnation from Washington, and UN demands for an international inquiry into “gross violations of international law”. The most recent attack, on Sunday, was described by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, as “a moral outrage and a criminal act”.

James Conner was writing this:

America’s anti-Semites and loathers of Israel — and there are many, far, far too many — must have turned cartwheels of joy Friday when the New York Times reported that the fighting in Gaza is generating a serious outbreak of antisemitism in Europe.

So, too, turning cartwheels of joy must be the leaders of Hamas, for inciting fresh antisemitism in Europe and America is why Hamas — officially designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State on 8 September 1997 — provoked another deadly Israeli incursion in Gaza, hoping for massive civilian casualties that the world would blame on Israel.

Conner is desperately trying to redirect focus from Israeli actions to Hamas’ rhetoric, taking on the direct language of Hamas’ founding covenant. Read his whole post for context.

I’d say the first two paragraphs, though, make anything that comes after worthless. By leading with the anti-semite card, James Conner has signaled he is not capable of doing anything other than denigrate those with serious claims regarding a nation (that won’t define its borders) he apparently believes is not accountable because of the toddler-like narrative he offers: BUT HAMAS MADE ME DO IT!!! WAAAAA, I’M THE VICTIM!!

I came across an interesting article from April of this year in the Christian Monitor, titled Why Israel may need to rethink its assumptions on Palestinian unity. I’m going to highlight a lengthy section for context:

Seven years after the two main Palestinian political factions violently divorced, their leaders announced today a reconciliation deal that they say will pave the way for a new unity government and the first election in eight years.

Similar deals between Fatah and Hamas in 2011 and 2012 foundered over how the rivals would share power. But some say that this pact may represent more a serious commitment because both factions have been backed into a corner by popular discontent and outside pressures.

Israel certainly appears to be taking the deal seriously. Government officials criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, casting his decision as a rejection of peace with Israel as the two sides try to extend talks beyond next week’s deadline.

“[Abbas] must decide if he wants to make peace, and if so, with whom. It is impossible to make peace with Israel as well as with Hamas, a terrorist organization advocating for Israel’s destruction,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. “Signing an agreement of a Fatah-Hamas unity government is tantamount to [calling off] negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Israel’s approach rests on two assumptions: that Mr. Abbas, who is also leader of Fatah, could enforce a peace deal without reconciling with Hamas; and that Hamas would never give up its stated intention to destroy Israel. Both may need rethinking.

Abbas, elected eight years ago, has consistently marketed himself as a committed peacemaker who will show Palestinians it is better to negotiate than resort to violence. But two rounds of negotiations later, the Israeli settler population in the West Bank has grown by more than 60,000 or 22 percent, and talks with Israel have failed to deliver a single meaningful benefit to Abbas’s constituency.

Israel wants to take more land, and has been aggressively doing so, despite the obvious dampening effect on the joke that’s been the peace process. I guess this is how Israel defines peace: we will take what we want, and you better be at peace with it!

Well, surprise surprise. Palestinians aren’t at peace with that, so votes were cast, Hamas’ role evolved, and now a full-blown massacre is ensuing after Netanyahu exploited the murder of three Israeli teenagers to turn the incremental genocide into a vigorous campaign of terror targeting anything that breathes in Gaza.

And if the intent of the siege isn’t clear, there are embassy cables released by wikileaks that spells it out very clearly. From Juan Cole:

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenpost has released a March, 2008, US embassy cable describing the Israeli blockade and siege of Occupied Gaza as an attempt to reduce the society to the lowest possible level of functioning without provoking a “humanitarian crisis” (presumably mass starvation).

“Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.”

And, with regard to taking money out of circulation in Gaza, a deflationary policy used as a tool of oppression:

“As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to econoffs on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge”

It seems to me the Israeli right-wingers missed their mark, since 55% of Palestinians in Gaza are food-insecure and 10% of children show signs of stunting from malnutrition. I’d call that a humanitarian crisis. What the despicable Israeli officials meant by their phrase, of course, is that a mass die-off should be avoided that would bring to bear world pressure to abandon this criminal policy. The Israeli blockade of Gaza is illegal in international law and violates explicit United Nations Security Council resolutions. (Wasn’t defying UNSC resolutions given as a reason by the American Right for invading and overthrowing the Iraqi government?)

Not satisfied with the policy of strangulation, Israel has absolutely pummeled Gaza into a hell that will persist long after the bombs stop falling. At some point Israel will stop the hot part of this war, and then the real crisis will start unfolding. Critical infrastructure has been destroyed. Clean water and electricity will be difficult to provide.

And a generation of traumatized children will try to cope with the horrors they experienced.

How anyone can justify the actions of Israel is beyond me. Maybe it’s a product of age. Because regarding Israel, Millennials aren’t buying it like their parents have:

The latest Pew Research Center poll, which was published yesterday, shows that Americans aged 18 to 29 are pretty divided. When asked about “Israel’s response to the conflict with Hamas,” 31 percent said it’s been “about right.” Nearly as many, 29 percent, said that it’s “gone too far.” Tellingly, only 7 percent of young Americans believe it has “not gone far enough.”

By contrast, in the older age demographics (50-64 and 64+) 16 and 18 percent, respectively, believe that Israel’s use of force hasn’t gone far enough. Generation Xers are a bit closer to millennials’ views in some respects; 34 percent say Israel’s response has been about right, while 30 percent say it’s over the top. But again, 16 percent believe Israel’s military action should be more aggressive.

While there are multiple factors involved in this generational shift in public opinion, the most significant has to be the technological break-up of the information monopoly once held by the establishment. The information landscape is very different from the one Baby Boomers grew up in.

But don’t tell that to James Conner, who prefaced his cultural response to the Stafford poem I directed at him with this:

A wonderful song, wonderfully sung, in wonderful black-and-white, offered as a tribute to the bubble-wrapped, Hamasphilic, mainstreamphobic, half-wacked bloggers and conspiracy cultists who turned a once great progressive blog into a laughingstock of the internet. But let’s not give up on those birds just yet. Perhaps they can escape their twilight zones and return to daylight. With grace, amazing things can happen.

Without further comment, ladies and gentlemen, here are The Seekers singing A World of our Own (1968):

by lizard

Thanks to my parents snagging a camp spot at Apgar, I got to spend a wonderful Saturday afternoon with the extended family, swimming in Lake McDonald and listening to the drunk bikers who roared into loop D at 10:30pm get rained out by an impressive thunderstorm in the middle of the night as we lay dry and safe in our tent.

Sunday we drove back after taking a quick half-hike to Avalanche Lake. After unpacking I caught the last few minutes of David Burgert appearing on John Walsh’s show (not the doomed plagiarist Senatorial candidate) “The Hunt”. Here is a report from a local news station that a national program is once again featuring this infamous and still at large member of the Montana militia scene.

Relatively recent stories like this one from the Missoulian and now this national attention appears to be a strategy of trolling designed to illicit a reaction, if he’s not dead. For some background, this Indy piece by Jamie Rodgers is really good.

This case, for me, hits close. I had an unnerving interaction with David Burgert months before he disappeared. At the time I had no idea who he was. But I will always remember seeing his picture pop up on my twitter feed and slowly realizing who I had been in proximity to.

I communicated this to the necessary authorities at the time, but got no follow up.

What put law enforcement into contact with David Burgert on that fateful day was a 911 call from a concerned citizen reporting that someone had been sleeping in their car at a location just outside Lolo. It’s sad that simply sleeping in one’s car is considered by many as suspicious behavior. There are dozens of people that are engaging in this suspicious use of an automobile as a home because they have no other choice.

With the kind of criminal background Burgert had earned himself after spending several years in prison from gun charges, there wasn’t going to be much of a chance that Burgert, upon release, would be able to reintegrate back into society.

None of this is a justification for what Burgert did. He is obviously a mentally unstable, dangerous person unfit to mingle with us law-abiding citizens. The Hungry Horse News referred to him as the “missing Flathead terrorist” and maybe that’s what he is.

Does that mean if found law enforcement can dispense with due process and just execute him where he stands?

by lizard

In our brave new world of information, we form our sense of the world from the sources we choose, and it’s today’s gluttony of choice that lends a sort of comfort to brand loyalty, whether it’s the New York Times or Fox News.

The former news source was again taken to task by Greg Mitchell with this post, but I don’t want to again reiterate why it’s not crazily conspiratorial to remain skeptical with how US mainstream media reports on the world’s most current atrocities. Instead, a poem.

This poem comes from William Stafford, and is titled A Ritual to Read to Each Other. It can be found in a few different places, but I came across it in a grouping of Stafford poems selected by Robert Bly (Harpercollins). I don’t want to cite the title of that book here, because it’s the last line of the poem I hope you read (especially you, James).

*

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give – yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

“If Hamas continues fighting, then Israel has the right, need, and duty to destroy Hamas.” – James Conner, Flathead Memo

By JC

I find no joy in a tit-for-tat mudslinging blog war with other bloggers, but it is hard to let this one go. After labeling me a hysteric, a conspiracy sunflower sniffer, and a hater of our country, James Conner in his 4&20 eviction notice referenced his “good conscience” in shunning us.

How surprising it was then to read today Conner’s call for the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Hamas! I wonder how his conscience manages to keep up with that level of cognitive dissonance?

It’s really pretty simple: Hamas is a political party that leads the Palestinian Legislative Council. They represent 74 of the 132  seats on the council. They have millions of supporters. It has three wings: political; military; and social.

Calling for their destruction would be like… al Qaeda calling for the destruction of Democrats, and all that entails: Congress, the White House & Pentagon, all those who voted for and identify as Democrat; liberal charities and foundations. Maybe millions of innocent bystanders — civilians who think they are just going about everyday life trying to survive.

Or maybe Conner is just calling for a surgical strike of the Hamas military and political operations. Maybe assassinate political bureau chief Khaled Meshal. Good luck with all that — it’ll definitely ignite the Third Intifada.

Hamas represents the 1.82 million people in the Gaza strip. How many Palestinians does Conner propose we kill? And if we kill off Hamas and all of its supporters, who will be left in Gaza and who will tend to them? Or should Gaza cease to exist as an apartheid-like Palestinian refugee camp and just be another extension of the 1948 Nakba?

And who is to say who is ultimately responsible for the continuation of hostilities that go back over a century? Today’s Hamas rockets are a result of yesterday’s Israeli bombs, which were a result of last week’s Hamas kidnappings, which were the result of the week before’s Israeli…??? This crazy feedback-loop has to stop. And peace negotiations need to begin without any preconditions, or determining who gets the last bombing in.

Here’s a Wikipedia excerpt about the social welfare activities of Hamas:

“Hamas is popular among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, though it also has a following in the West Bank, and to a lesser extent in other Middle Eastern countries. Its popularity stems in part from its welfare wing providing social services to Palestinians in the occupied territories… Israeli scholar Reuven Paz estimates that 90% of Hamas activities revolve around “social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities”. Social services include running relief programs and funding schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues.

In particular, Hamas funded health services where people could receive free or inexpensive medical treatment. Hamas greatly contributed to the health sector, and facilitated hospital and physician services in the Palestinian territory… 

Hamas has funded education and built Islamic charities, libraries, mosques and education centers for women. They also built nurseries, kindergartens and supervised religious schools that provide free meals to children. When children attend their schools and mosques, parents are required to sign oaths of allegiance. Refugees, as well as those left without homes, are able to claim financial and technical assistance from Hamas…

Despite building materials needing to be smuggled into the territory, luxury beach resorts and tourist facilities operated by the interior ministry have been constructed by Hamas government–linked charities, including gardens, playgrounds, football fields, a zoo and restaurants aimed to provide employment and low cost entertainment for citizens.”

genocideI wouldn’t be so harsh about this if it weren’t for the news rolling around the internet today about the call for Palestinian genocide by an op-ed writer in the Times of Israel. While the publication quickly pulled the “When Genocide is Permissible” story and issued an apology, the message quickly got out and was reflected all over the internet. And it takes little for those with latent hair-trigger hatred of Palestinians to react and amplify an already explosive situation.

It doesn’t take much instigation by reactionary Zionists to quickly get the blogosphere all riled up, and get folks like Connor to quickly fall into the “blame Hamas and take them out at all costs if they don’t surrender” crowd. Here’s the language in the op-ed that has called the masses to rise up and push for the genocide of Hamas and Palestinians:

“We are at war with an enemy whose charter calls for the annihilation of our people. Nothing, then, can be considered disproportionate when we are fighting for our very right to live…

Hamas has stated forthrightly that it idealizes death as much as Israel celebrates life. What other way then is there to deal with an enemy of this nature other than obliterate them completely?

… I will conclude with a question for all the humanitarians out there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clearly stated at the outset of this incursion that his objective is to restore a sustainable quiet for the citizens of Israel. We have already established that it is the responsibility of every government to ensure the safety and security of its people. If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?”

Apparently Conner has answered the “is genocide then permissible” question in the affirmative. I would answer in the negatory. And the op-ed author’s hypocrisy of calling for a people who he says “celebrates life” to commit genocide is mindless and ruthless.

 I for one am glad we’ve been cleansed from Conner’s Flathead Memo blogroll.

by lizard

Just when those watching the horrors in Gaza were hoping a 72 hour ceasefire would give Palestinians a chance to pull bodies from the rubble and try to get much needed supplies, the ceasefire collapsed after just hours:

A hard-won internationally brokered truce between Israel and Palestinian militants collapsed within hours Friday after the Israeli military said one of its soldiers was missing amid heavy fighting in the southern Gaza Strip and may have been captured by Hamas fighters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped short of declaring the cease-fire dead, but accused Hamas of “flagrantly violating” what was to have been a three-day truce. Hamas in turn insisted it was Israel that had broken the cease-fire terms agreed to only hours earlier.

This situation highlights the fact the ceasefire wasn’t a legitimate ceasefire from the beginning. Israeli forces reserved the right to continue forward ground operations to neutralize tunnels, and it was during one of these operations that Palestinian militants killed two IDF soldiers and allegedly capture another.

I was watching CNN this morning and when the host wasn’t bashing the UN spokesperson for crying on camera (8 of his colleagues have been killed because Israel has no compunction against shelling UN shelters) the discussion touched on the lengths Israel goes to protect it’s soldiers. Bullshit. The reality is Israel would rather kill its own soldiers than allow them to remain captured. Don’t believe me? Then I suggest you read up on the Hannibal Directive:

Tonight, my Israeli source informed me that Sgt. Guy Levy, serving in the armored corps, was captured by Hamas fighters. He had been part of a joint engineering-armored-combat unit searching for tunnels. Troops entered a structure and discovered a tunnel. Suddenly, out of the shaft sprang two militants who dragged one of the soldiers into it. By return fire, one of the Palestinians was killed, while the other fled, presumably with the soldier.

This Israeli report, which was censored by the IDF, says only that the attempt to capture the soldier failed. It says nothing about his fate. The expectation of anyone reading it would be that the soldier was freed. But he was not. In order to prevent the success of the operation, the IDF killed him. Nana reports that the IDF fired a tank shell into the building, which is the same way another captured soldier was killed by the IDF during Cast Lead.

I would presume that once the militant fled into the tunnel with his prisoner that the IDF destroyed the tunnel and entombed those within it, including the soldier. I would also presume that the IDF knows he is dead because they retrieved his body.

To the uninitiated this will seem a terribly strange, uncivilized, even immoral act. But that’s where I learned something I’d never known before about the IDF. There is an unwritten secret regulation written by the IDF High Command, but nowhere codified in writing. Its existence is protected by military censorship. Journalists have rarely written about it. When they have it’s usually been in code or by inference.

It’s called the Hannibal Directive.

Nice way to treat your soldiers, Israel.

So the ceasefire is more than likely kaput, the pentagon has resupplied IDF forces with grenades and mortars and the atrocities against civilians will continue.

Palestinians don’t have consistent electricity, access to clean water and food, or any safe place to shelter. Not when Israel bombs hospitals and UN schools. It’s monstrous.

Israel is monstrous and must be stopped.

“Propaganda is a means to an end”

By JC

This week’s look into how the U.S. government — which, btw, I don’t “hate” but I am a dissident — and it’s handlers and tools use propaganda is a fairly simple and straightforward one.

Of course, it is related to how we are aiming to take down Russia, whether it is economically through sanctions, politically through isolation policies, overtly through the escalating chances of war (due to the drum beating of our Administration, necons, neolibs, and just plain old every day democrats and republicans) or covertly through the actions of the Deep State.

huffpo-putinIt all started with a simple headline a few days ago at the Huffington Post: “Russians Increasingly Alarmed About Putin’s Tactics” complete with a picture of a scowling Vladimir Putin. For those who just scan the headlines at online aggragater sites like the Huffington Post, you get the immediate impression that all is not well in Russia. That’s the first propaganda push: immediate impression.

Well, for whatever small fraction of people who want to read the article decide to click on the link, it goes not to a HuffPo story, but a direct link out to a NY Times article, entitled “As Sanctions Pile Up, Russians’ Alarm Grows Over Putin’s Tactics”. The HuffiPo headline writer got it sorta right, having to edit down the Grey Lady’s more informative headline.

But the HuffPo’s editorial staff didn’t bother to do any fact-checking, or look into the veracity of the Times story. The aggregator just did what they do: give a story further reach. This makes propaganda oh, so much easier!

But for the headline scanner, again we are led to believe that it is our “sanctions” that are resulting in Russians being unhappy with their dear leader and his “tactics.” Well, we know that our country’s sanctions are targeted at Putin’s allowing Crimea to rejoin Russia as part of their secession vote from Ukraine. Also, our country has been highly vocal with its accusations of Russia assisting Ukrainian federalists wanting some autonomy. The kicker is the President accusing Putin of being responsible for the shooting down of MH 17 just by being involved in the conflict.

Well, the reinforcement stage of propaganda has arrived when the headlines insinuate previously released propaganda, and it sucks you in. So if our headline scanner (me in this case) decides to read on, what can they discern from the article? First you have to get past another picture of Putin scowling with the caption suggesting that people aren’t happy with Putin flipping the rest of the world (read “G-6″) the bird for their sanctions.

times-putin-jc Continue Reading »

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