Archive for October, 2011
The Indy came out with it’s endorsements for city council last week, and apparently there is reason for concern:
The way we’re reading the wind, the conservative bloc should expect to lose two seats. Meanwhile, a Copple victory would give progressives unprecedented control of city government. For some, that’s an exciting prospect. But perhaps they should be concerned. The last time the left had the Missoula Council locked down, back in the mid-’90s under the banner of the New Party, they handled it so badly that within a few short years the group’s label had become political poison and it disbanded.
The Indy’s endorsement for Adam Hertz in Ward 2 appears to be the prescribed antidote for this “unprecedented control.” Adam, who is trying to unseat Pam Walzer, is a 26 year-old mortgage broker and retail-pricing analyst for <a href="a mortgage broker and retail-pricing analyst for Moody’s market. Hmmm, should that pedigree be concerning at all? I wonder what Adam thinks about the housing crisis that blew up our economy three years ago (he was 23), and the role of rating agencies calling shit sandwiches prime rib.
Well, that wasn’t one of the questions Adam got in this KECI story, but here’s a question and response I found very illuminating—about, ironically (because he’s a mortgage broker and Moody’s analyst) homelessness:
RECENT EFFORTS TO RELOCATE AND REBUILD THE POVERELLO CENTER HAVE MET SIGNIFICANT COMMUNITY BLOWBACK AND DEBATE. WHERE DO YOU THINK THE SHELTER SHOULD REBUILD? ON A BROAD LEVEL, HOW DO YOU VIEW THE ISSUE OF HOMELESSNESS IN MISSOULA?
Where the Poverello Center should relocate or rebuild is not the city’s decision. The decision ultimately lies with the Pov’s Board of Directors. If the Pov decides to move into the Westside neighborhood, I would not support the move and I would vote against any TIF funding for the project. Urban renewal funds are meant for neighborhood revitalization, not for the degradation of property values and neighborhood safety. In their desire to appease the Mayor and the Missoula Downtown Association, current Ward 2 representation has failed to stand up for the Westside.
If ending homelessness is truly the goal of the Poverello Center, their desire for expansion suggests that the organization is not meeting its goal. Homelessness is a serious issue, especially in difficult economic times. Missoula would be best served by a community organization that addresses the homelessness of locals, especially families, and works to give the homeless a hand up rather than a hand out. Catering to transients takes much needed resources away from our local homeless population and will only result in a growing transient population and crime in our community.
If Adam Hertz thinks homelessness is a serious issue, then he needs to educate himself a bit about the services he’s criticizing. I would suggest he start with the 2010 needs assessment looking at homelessness and housing instability in Missoula
Now, go vote Missoula!
***correction: I implied Adam Hertz worked at the ratings agency Moody’s, which was incorrect. The link has been updated with the correct Moody’s Market that employed Adam, which is his father’s Grocery Store.
Before I took my little 7 day break, someone speculated how I would spin Obama’s announcement that combat troops were leaving Iraq, and would be gone by the end of this year (Bush’s timeline). I think maybe this person was making the still-common mistake of believing the words being delivered from our president’s mouth, this time about “ending the war”. Here is the comment:
I can hardly wait for your spin on Obama’s announcement that we’re pulling our troops out of Iraq at the end of the year.
Let’s see. Maybe he was too slow pulling them out? Maybe it’s just so he can redeploy them against Iran or against the OWS folks?
But I know you’ll manage to come up with some argument, pallatable to at least a few of your friends, to tear him down.
The glaring inaccuracy contained within this comment is the idea that it was the choice of this administration to pull out the troops from Iraq. I don’t need to spin what’s already being spun, and what this commenter has already uncritically internalized. To un-spin this inaccuracy, George Ochenski’s latest column describes the reality of the situation being played up as Obama delivering on a campaign promise:
It turns out that those who opposed the war from its beginning were right: It’s come to an ignoble end. Obama has done his best to spin this, to make it look as though it was his call, but really, he had no choice. This was his Vietnam. We’ve been kicked out. All that’s missing are Iraq embassy workers on the rooftop clinging to a helicopter.
Those who have paid attention to the high-level discussions between Iraq and the U.S. in the last year will recall that as recently as last month, the official U.S. position was that we would be leaving tens of thousands of troops in Iraq to train Iraqi troops and police forces and provide security for diplomatic missions.
But that has not been the position of the Iraqis, who long ago tired of the killing and destruction visited on their cities, businesses, homes and families by U.S. forces, and the atrocities committed by the mercenaries we hired through discredited firms such as Blackwater (now Xe).
I don’t fault the president for trying to brighten the narrative for our public consumption and his electoral prospects. Bush’s team of war criminals destroyed Iraq, US corporations fleeced the American public to “rebuild” it, and now the military/industrial beast is looking elsewhere for opportunities. That’s a total bummer. Much better to believe Obama is finally doing the right thing, and just in time for the holidays. Continue Reading »
(above painting, titled World’s Tallest Disaster, by Roger Brown)
Cate Marvin is a poet to keep your eye on. The poem for this weekend’s edition of LWPS is the last poem from her first book of poems, World’s Tallest Disaster. Get to know her a bit in this interview with Kathleen Rooney.
I suppose must have been orbiting all the time
I’ve spent bent at this desk, unaware of its presence
as those victims of alien abductions, who claim
they were taken on board, experimented upon,
and gently replaced to their beds. Or the readership
may be hovering, held in a flight pattern, endlessly
repeating figure-eights, everyone on board desperate
for the captain’s reassuring announcement
they’ll make their connecting flights. Or perhaps
it’s one of those massive sea vessels that looks
so grand from the shore, same as the ferry I saw
cutting its shape on the Mediterranean’s edge,
when I was young and traveled with a notebook.
When to follow a map was to learn a finger’s width
could mark the hours it’d take for us to get there.
Fellow passenger, companion, friend, perhaps when
you were sitting beside me your mind was really
on the readership. Maybe that could explain your
sudden disappearance: Mysterious as those lights
in late night skies no one can prove or identify.
Perhaps the readership prepares to land, and you
are among its passengers, presently ripping
at a bag of peanuts the flight attendants provide.
If this is so, I offer a goodly signal, words radiating
redness, radio towered. Much like a lighthouse
casts its warning to the morass of sea, I simply ask
that you heed me. Gentle barge, it does not matter
if you listen, it does not concern me. It’s too late
for you to put the book down, cancel the flight,
concede you were always terrible at planning.
When you arrive, hold fast to your belongings.
The purse slashers in my poems have more
than your money on their unsubtle minds. I’ll speak
for my life when I say I’m glad you have arrived.
I’ve waited like a starving country, arms heaped
with hand-worked goods I’ll sell you at a native’s price.
And if the readership does not exist? Perhaps
it’s only intriguing as a conspiracy theory—
how I want to believe in it, as if it will provide
the answer for everything that’s gone awry.
Some good news from out near Hood River.
Yesterday the Condit dam was breeched by PacifiCorp, freeing the river for the famous Pacific Northwest steelhead and chinook fisheries.
There’s some pretty dramatic footage of the breech to be found around the innertubes – I’ll offer this video from The Oregonian:
Pretty impressive, huh?
The University of Montana Geomorphology Lab were there for the scene – but instead of watching the dynamite do its deed, the went to watch the rebirth of the White Salmon River. Here is a 2-hour time lapse of the White Salmon’s rebirth – and the draining of lake:
Somewhere I read this morning that it had been estimated it would take 6 hours to drain.
Fascinating. The Condit dam is the second tallest dam to be removed in the U.S. The Seattle Times had a great piece today reporting on some of the history of the dam.
BPA, for its part, had to say goodbye to the Condit, which was able to generate power about 7,000 homes in the northwest.
While hydropower seems to be their predominate source for power, it appears BPA (Bonneville Power Administration) is relying more and more on wind and biomass. This map shows their power generation locations and sources.
I tried to look for a similar resource at Northwestern Energy, but couldn’t find one.
People will do anything to claw their way to the top, and anything to stay there.
OccupyHelena is calling for an Occupy Our Capitol for Saturday…and they’ve got a full agenda, starting at noon in Hill Park.
Highlighting the day is a soapboxing event at 2:30 on the steps of the capitol…and then later at 5 p.m. there’s a soup & bread supper and General Assembly.
If you’re looking for ride-sharing, it looks like this post from OccupyMissoula is helping out with that.
And from a comment I saw on one of the posts, it appears that OccupyButte will be there, as will the OccupyDillon atfolks.
So muster up, people….there is nothing better than a good old peaceful protest gathering on the steps of the capitol in Helena Montana on a gorgeous crisp fall day. I’ve done it in January, and it’s a fabulous venue.
by Pete Talbot
“I shouldn’t say this …” Conrad Burns said. It was the only accurate statement he made all day.
He then went on to insult Indians, Wall Street occupiers and the President.
He was talking to a small tea party crowd in Billings, an event organized by Americans for Prosperity and underwritten by the billionaire Koch brothers.
I’ve been waiting for another Montana blogger to write about this (Montana Cowgirl, Pogie?) but haven’t seen a thing. Maybe Conrad’s speech was so obtuse it didn’t deserve notice. I, however, think it might because it mirrors the far-right’s rhetoric of ignorance, intolerance and racism.
Ignorance: “Burns was there to ‘expose the Obama administration’s $40 billion energy tax grab that will destroy jobs, decrease government revenues at a time of exploding national debt and make America less competitive.'”
In reality, the idea is to eliminate taxpayer-financed oil subsidies and tax breaks, and reinvest the $40 billion into social programs, green energy and job creation, according to Forcechange.com. C’mon Conrad, continued subsidies for oil companies with record-breaking profits are going to reduce the deficit, destroy jobs and make America less competitive? Well, it might give the oil companies slightly less money to employ corporate mouthpieces such as yourself.
Intolerance: On the Wall Street/Missoula/Helena/etc. occupiers, Burns said: “I feel sorry for these kids. They’re kind of spoiled. They’re down there having a hissy fit. They don’t know who they’re mad at.”
Oh, they know who they’re mad at, these spoiled kids, it’s the likes of you: politicians who push economic inequality, and advance the financial institutions responsible for a recession that’s crippling middle-class Montanans and devastating the poor.
Racism: “We got a guy in the White House (who) believes all of us should be dependent on the government,” Burns said. “I shouldn’t say this, but he wants this whole country to become like an Indian reservation.”
Conrad is on the record as a bigot: Arabs, African-Americans and now, Native Americans. Those damn Indians … and after all that the government has done for them. (R.I.P. Elouise Cobell. Please ignore Burns’ spiteful comments.)
So Conrad is still out there. He’s working for GAGE, a Leo Giacometto/Son-of-Rehberg Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, and spewing far-right rhetoric.
In these troubled times, do we really need the former Senator sowing seeds of hate, divisiveness and malice. I think not.
Tell me, honestly, how many of you were surprised to read that two star Griz players, quarterback Gerald Kemp and cornerback Trumaine Johnson, had scuffled with police, resulting in their arrest in the early Sunday morning hours after their game at Northern Arizona University?
I’m kinda shocked it’s just the second incident to happen out of this years team, Nate Montana, son of the famous quarterback Joe Montana, having been arrested on DUI charges back in June – only a few short months after transferring here from Notre Dame, where he had been arrested along with 10 other players for underage drinking.
Nate, for his part, was able to avoid the DUI (despite speeding, stumbling out the car, and failing field sobriety tests) by refusing a breathalyzer. He plead guilty in July of reckless driving, and the DUI charge was then dropped.
Which is sure convenient for the Griz players and fans (and Coach Pflugrad) given that starting quarterback Gerald Kemp was arrested Sunday morning…and Nate is waiting in the wings wanting that starting position.
Attorney Darla Keck sat between Kemp and Johnson’s arraignment today. Datsopoulos, MacDonald & Lind? Apparently the Griz boosters have retained some money with a pretty highfalutin firm.
Smart – statistics show they will need them for at least once more arrest incident before the year is out.
UM Athletic Director Jim O’Day released a statement saying that they “will let the judicial system run its course. Any disciplining will be handled internally through our student-athlete code of conduct.
Nice – that’s not the type of statement UM put out after “The Streaker” made his appearance back in early September. The University has threatened this kid with expulsion, and as an editorial in The Independent pointed out – not one person was harmed.
If someone in the Griz stadium hadn’t seen a penis yet – and really – who really saw anything? – then the only harm done was seeing one a little too early.
Daniel Thew (“The Streaker”) has apologized – he apologized in the local justice court…and he’s continually apologized, most recently this Sunday in the Missoulian. Go read the comments.
And while you’re at it, make an appeal for some justice – in this case some student and community justice – and send UM administrators such as President Royce Engstrom, Vice President James Foley, athletic director Jim O’Day and email – with copies to Griz Football administrative assistant Linda Cardinal – and call on them to give Daniel Thew the slap on the wrist he deserves and dole out some real “student code-of-conduct” justice for the Griz football players out there physically and verbally threatening city police officers and endangering community members by drinking and driving.
Year after year, it’s the same thing with the Griz football players. Time for the Univerisity…the Alumni..the boosters and the fans to expect more.
And mean it.
I received the follwoing note from Forward Montana in my inbox today:
There are two days left until election day.
You may be asking, “isn’t election day on November 8th?” You’re half right. While that is the day that votes will be counted up it’s not when the vast majority of Missoulians will be voting.
For city council elections the city of Missoula closes down the polling locations and sends everyone a ballot in the mail. That means that across this city voting will be happening as early as Tuesday morning. Which is why we need your help on Monday to ensure folks are ready to vote for our pro-equality, progressive candidates.
CALL NIGHT: If you like it then you shoulda put a RING on it.
Monday, October 24th – 5:00pm
Forward Montana HQ
(500 N Higgins Ste 107 – Across from the Iron Horse)
Everyone in town is getting a mail-in ballot which means that election day in 2011 will last for two weeks straight. Studies have show us that most people vote in a big wave shortly after they recieve their ballots.
And if you’d like to hear some interviews with the candidates, MCAT has posted up interviews with 12 of the candidates running.
And Cynthia Wolken’s Referendum on Corporate Personhood also is on the ballot. There’s a great story in the Missoula Independent a few weeks ago about Cynthia and the ballot issue that we reported on back in August.
When problembear recently signed off, I didn’t say anything. I knew why, but I didn’t want to admit it. I think it was the phrase my passion has been supplanted by anger that really jumped out at me. Good luck on the writing, Bill. I’m thinking the same thing.
And then there’s this: OccupyMissoula is not something I’m going to write about here. I’m conflicted in ways I can’t describe, and it’s taking a toll. One of the side-effects becomes how I escalate the prods and jabs of comment-culture here. I know I can be fucking tedious. I’m putting myself in a 7 day cold turkey timeout from the noise, including my own sometimes shrill (you’re right, pbear) voice.
Consider this weekend’s poetry selection from Czeslaw Milosz’s Road Side Dog the antidote to all that.
What I am going to say will be understood by those of us who have lived such a moment: for instance, during a historical upheaval, when the life of a human society suddenly reveals its unsuspected traits. Since there have been in this century a number of historical upheavals, many people have had the experience.
It happens that we may walk, watch, be tormented by our compasion or anger, and suddenly realize that what we are seeing, all that reality, is beyond words. That is, there is nothing about it in newspapers, books, communiques, nothing in poetry, fiction, or pictures on the screen. From reality which is homely, perceived in a most ordinary way, something else, autonomous, enclosed in language, has come unglued. Astonished, we ask ourselves: Is it a dream? A fata morgana? The fabric of signs envelops us like a cocoon and proves to be strong enough to make us doubt the testimony of our senses.
Such an experience does not incline us favorably toward literature. It compels us to ask for realism, which usually leads to pseudorealism or for a veracity nobody could bear. In the nineteenth century it was said about the novel that it should be a “mirror carried on the highwah,” but “realistic” novels lied without scruple, clearing from the field of vision subjects recognized as undesirable or forbidden. The true London of nineteenth-century capitalism hardly exists in the novel, except for a few pages of Dickens, but what that Babylon of misery and prostitution was, seen through the eyes of a foreigner in 1862, we may learn from Dostoevsky’s Winter Notes on Summer Impressions.
The twentieth century brought with it a fictitious reality fashioned by the political will. It was a screen, painted with “scenes from life” to hide what was going on in back. It was called socialist realism. Yet the orders and prohibitions of the state are only one of the possible causes of this division into the seen and the described. The fabric of language has a constant propensity to come off from reality, and our efforts to glue them together are in most cases futile—yet absolutely necessary.
The US empire is a fickle friend indeed. With news of Gaddafi’s death this morning, I could only shake my head, reading the celebratory tweets and examining the grizzly death-porn on my twitter-feed. How many people recall how, just two years ago, US politicians like John McCain were giving this alleged monster accolades:
A U.S. diplomatic cable released Wednesday by the website WikiLeaks reportedly shows that Senator John McCain promised to help Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi obtain U.S. military hardware and become one of the United States’ partners in the war on terror.
The agreement took place on Aug. 14, 2009 and included Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Susan Collins and Senate Armed Services Committee staffer Richard Fontaine.
According to the cable, McCain opened the meeting by saying that Libya’s relationship with the U.S. was “excellent.” Liebermann added, “We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi.”
The cable also says, “Lieberman called Libya an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends. The Senators recognized Libya’s cooperation on counterterrorism and conveyed that it was in the interest of both countries to make the relationship stronger.”
What a difference two years makes. With the trumped up charges that Gaddafi was planning a slaughter on Benghazi, NATO embarked on a US blessed “humanitarian intervention” to allow the opposition forces to do this to Gaddafi’s hometown, Sirte:
The big question is why? Why did a former foe, turned friend, get recast as a monster to justify a violent regime change?
The cover story is a joke, and I’m frankly tired of having the same arguments with the same imperial apologists. There are too many examples of the US supporting brutal dictators as long as those dictators go along with the program for the noble humanitarian intervention meme to mean much. What will it take for them to finally understand US foreign policy doesn’t give two shits about human suffering?
US foreign policy is concerned with one thing and one thing only: projecting US hegemony, and whether it uses institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, or NATO, the goal is the same.
So what did Gaddafi do to cause the humanitarian bombs to begin raining down on Libya? My “educated” guess is Gaddafi made the same mistake Saddam Hussein made: he fucked with the Petro Dollar.
I’ve waded through this muck before, looking for answers, and though it puts the complicated geopolitical posturing of nation-states into a compelling context, I remain skeptical.
What I do know is how little we simple citizens really understand about what drives global conflicts around the world, and while we focus on our spoon-fed narratives of bad guys versus good guys, the reality of power and control exists outside that simple binary, in a nefarious realm us simple citizens can’t fathom.
My previous post got me to thinking about a better way to visualize how corporations have inserted themselves into America as a 4th power. I hope the diagram below might better illustrate what I’m trying to get across. Click on the graphic to get a full sized pdf version to print out if you want.
It was only a matter of time till people started coming to the same conclusion that many of us have made recently, that there may be more overlap between the tea party and OccupyWallStreet than is readily apparent. James Sinclair over at howconservativesdrovemeaway draws an interesting comparison of the two movements:
We should pay less attention to the individual lunatics, and more attention to what a movement is really about. Occupy Wall Street, at its core, is a reaction to the increasing power and influence of large corporations. The Tea Party, at its core, is a reaction to the government’s constant interference with private enterprise. But wait a minute—aren’t those things connected?
Bailouts, subsidies, tax breaks, special rights and privileges, regulations designed to restrict competition—to name a few of the many ways the government protects and stimulates corporate interests, and those things are every bit as anti-free market as, not to mention directly related to, the high taxes and excessive bureaucracy that gets Tea Partiers riled up. In other words, aren’t these two groups—Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party—raging against different halves of the same machine? Do I have to draw a Venn diagram here?
Oh, alright, I’ll draw a Venn diagram:
While I might quibble with his characterizations of the two, the important part of his analysis is the following:
Yeah, I’m oversimplifying, but only a little. The greatest threat to our economy is neither corporations nor the government. The greatest threat to our economy is both of them working together. There are currently two sizable coalitions of angry citizens that are almost on the same page about that, and they’re too busy insulting each other to notice.
The overlap between corporations and government — the intertwining of corporations and government — is a fundamental feature of creeping fascism in this country. And it will be the undoing of this country if it isn’t stopped.
We all have been educated about the 3 branches of government, and the separation of powers between the executive, the judicial, and the legislative. What the OccupyWallStreet movement needs to do is illuminate the need for another separation of powers, one between corporations and the government’s other three branches.
Congress and the Courts over the years have created a de facto 4th power in this country. Now the people need to raise up and separate it from the other three branches.
“In other words, there is a bipartisan majority — of opposition to the president. Certainly a President Romney or a President Bachmann could put together a coalition of Republicans and moderate Democrats to get quite a lot done. And that is ultimately the problem with Obama’s strategy. You can only run against “obstructionists” if your own agenda is widely popular and credible. Obama doesn’t have that. His own party knows it. The voters know it. And the GOP presidential candidates know it.”
So, a few senators are more than willing to sacrifice having a democrat re-elected to the white house in ’12 so they can hold on to their seats. Then again, as Rubin says, maybe those senators are more interested in bipartisanship that aligns themselves with republican legislators and with a republican president, than with democracts and a democrat president.
The midterm elections of 2006 saw strong national Democratic gains in Congress due in large part to their opportunistic co-optation of the anti-war sentiment against Bush’s preemptive war doctrine. People like me voted for politicians like Jon Tester based on the stated intentions of politicians like Nancy Pelosi, that giving them congressional control would mean a check on Bush’s recklessness. I was very happy that Jon Tester won a squeaker of a race here in Montana.
To highlight the sentiment before the 2006 elections, here is the lead in to a NYT article published November 2nd, 2006:
A substantial majority of Americans expect Democrats to reduce or end American military involvement in Iraq if they win control of Congress next Tuesday and say Republicans will maintain or increase troop levels to try to win the war if they hold on to power on Capitol Hill, according to the final New York Times/CBS News poll before the midterm election.
But Democrats failed to do anything substantial to address Bush’s preemptive war based on lies. Two years later, the American electorate gave Democrats the White House with the election of a president who capitalized on the broad disgust over Bush’s destructive eight year reign, and though Obama was more hawkish on the campaign trail than many in the anti-war movement would have liked, there was hope that the change promised would include getting us out of Iraq (so we could fight the “right” war in Afghanistan).
Now it’s 2011, and despite the Obama administration’s best efforts to keep as many as 10,000 troops in Iraq, that number has reportedly been conceded by administration officials to potentially be as low as 3,0000.
Administration and Pentagon officials had hoped to secure Iraqi-government approval for a larger troop presence in Iraq into 2012, with the U.S. recently pushing for a final figure of around 10,000. But administration officials have lately come to believe that approval would be hard to get for anything more than a few thousand troops.
So the administration will continue to reluctantly draw down troops from the total political/economic disaster that has been our eight year occupation of Iraq, but that won’t stop them from continuing to deploy a dangerous, incompetent foreign policy.
Like, for example, with Iran.
A used-car salesmen, a DEA agent posing as a Mexican drug cartel member, and an alleged plan to assassinate a Saudi Arabian ambassador. This absurd plot (which professionals like Ray McGovern are trying to digest) has apparently provided the Democrats an opportunity for some more unnecessary saber rattling against Iran. And to ratchet up the tension, Democrat Diane Feinstein goes to Fox news of all places to say irresponsible shit like this:
The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says the thwarted Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States shows the “collision course” that awaits unless Iran changes directions.
“To cross to the other side of the world and try and attack in this country is an escalation,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And that’s what concerns us.”
This “collision course” with Iran is something neocons and their Israeli allies have been lusting after for quite some time, and Obama is either powerless to shift that trajectory, or willingly condones this dangerous rhetorical escalation.
Based on his casual use of the US military to impose regime change in Libya under the cover of NATO and “humanitarian intervention”, I tend to think the latter.
Oh, and I guess over the weekend we now have
troops advisers heading to Uganda to help dispose of the Lord’s Resistance Army:
The White House says the first troops arrived in Uganda on Wednesday. Ultimately, they will also deploy in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Congo.
A White House announcement said the troops will be combat-equipped but are not to engage in combat except in self-defense. It said they will aid in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony “from the battlefield.”
America, global cop. Fuck yeah.
This post is a clear attack on the Democratic party, and at this point, I really don’t care what party loyalists want to say about the messenger. Call me morally bankrupt, half-baked, incoherent, and self-righteous. My message remains the same: Democrats fail by design.
I’ve been waiting 6 years for Democrats to shift the dangerous trajectory of our foreign policy. I’ve voted for politicians who pay lip service to doing just that, then, once in office, they do the opposite.
It’s time to step outside the two wings of the war party. It’s time to #occupysanity.
One of the concerns I’ve had since OWS first kicked off was whether or not those involved on the ground were going to be able to keep it non-violent. So far, the only significant violence has come from the police state response, which is sadly expected these days. Unprovoked macing of unarmed women encircled by plastic police netting? Par for the course. But the protests, despite these provocations from police, have largely remained peaceful, thanks in part to the structure of the General Assemblies.
During the last 24 hours, though, in Italy, violence has broken out, and it appears the protest was infiltrated by the black bloc contingent:
Witnesses said hooded militants infiltrated what had been a peaceful demonstration.
The violence started when a group of about 30 or 40 men torched SUVs along the route of the march, smashed the windows of a branch of Cassa di Ripsarmio di Rimini bank, attacked a supermarket and torched Italian and European Union flags flying outside a hotel.
The rioters appeared to belong to a violent movement called the black bloc – fringe groups of far-left and anarchists militants – who caused mayhem in central Rome last December when they infiltrated a peaceful protest by students against government cuts in education.
Nothing will derail America’s version of what is a global struggle faster than elements within these protests turning to violence. Whether it’s actual protestors, infiltrators, or provocateurs, it doesn’t matter. Once those images of violence get snatched up by the corporate media and amplified by the 24 hour news cycle, those who sympathize but are not participating will never lend their support, and the movement will fizzle.
Over at Electric City Blog, Gregg has put up with my off-putting commentary, and responded in part with this:
“Protesting with a list of demands while “occupying” parks isn’t going to change the world either. Do they give up? Or take the route of violence?”
My concern is not that the protestors are going to consciously take the route of violence because I think there are enough people who understand the damage that will do. That doesn’t mean there won’t be efforts to discredit OWS through violent means, and if that happens, there are too many people (the haters, the critics, the mockers, and other tools of the system) who want a reason to write-off these occupations because it challenges an unjust economic system that they may be currently benefiting from.
For example, this comment comes from one of those folks:
“As I’ve said before, I hope they keep it up and get more aggressive. Us real people far outnumber them and are getting very angry at watching the loser circuses of people whining about their situations. There will be a huge backlash.”
Yes, please get more aggressive, protestors, because “real people” are getting angry at how you fakers are bringing attention to the inequity of our economic system, and there will be a “huge backlash”.
After a month of peaceful occupations spreading to over 900 cities and towns, efforts to discredit this movement will probably escalate. That means those on the ground must be very cautious (including occupy Missoula) because there may already be elements within who will try and push for more confrontational actions to spark violence, and it will only take a few high profile incidents to seriously damage the credibility this movement has built up in a relatively short amount of time.
(This is but the opinion of one Occupier in Solidarity, and not the consensus of OccupyMissoula)
Many people do not understand what the Occupy movement is all about, and preconceptions and prejudices abound. I have spent most of the last two weeks working to understand this movement and help organize OccupyMissoula. I’m not sure why I stuck my neck out, and devoted all my time, but it has changed the way I look at politics, movements, and my community.
In the words of an elderly gentleman I have known and respected for the 25 years I have lived in Missoula, “this is the most important movement I have seen since the the Great Depression.”
Similarly, last night I had the honor to meet 4 young high school students who had decided to put on suits and come down to the County Court House and OccupyMissoula to “check things out.” We had a great conversation and I felt inspired that our youth feel the same concerns that our more experienced community members do, and felt compelled to participate, and to write about their experience (one of them was a writer for their high school’s newspaper).
It took an article in no less than Fox News, tweeted across the internet in a “Holy Shit” moment to put it all into perspective for me: “The key isn’t what protesters are for but rather what they’re against.” Continue Reading »
This post has been updated
Mainstream media is reporting that #occupywallstreet is calling for a Global Day of Protest tomorrow (Saturday), with over 800 cities participating.
Also giving a nod to OccupyButte which as Turner reports below gets underway Saturday morning at the Butte Plaza Mall, noon. There was a meeting earlier this week at the Butterfly Cafe if I’m remembering my twitter feed.
I have to say that it can be maddening to some to watch something so truly organic get up and running. Me? I’m loving watching it. It’s a beautiful thing. Beautiful.
OccupyBozeman got underway Friday with a march on Main Street.
OccupyMissoula starts off tomorrow morning (it’s one-week-old birthday) at 11 a.m., at the fishes near the Higgins Street bridge at Caras Park. They’ve got a rally and march planned – and then from 1 to 10 p.m. is a OccupyMissoula ArtJam, of which I’m sure we’ll hear Lizard down there jammin’ on some poetry.
Not only that – don’t forget that Missoula still has the wonderful Farmer’s Market going too – so there’ still time to stock up on locally grown and produced preserves and cheeses. I’m thinking this is the next-to-the-last one.
I want to explain what a General Assembly is, as I’ve had people ask. I can only describe it how I’ve seen it.
GA’s are like a people’s congress. Everyone get’s to participate and everything is a negotiation – all the while, everyone works together in organization towards a goal of determining what it is that government should be. One general cause that morphed this together is the skewed wealth distribution system of government that essentially has Wall Street running the show (and anyone can call me on that and I don’t mind), but from there the search for commonality is very much part of the GA process.
People of all ages and backgrounds are attending OccupyMissoula. There are even people driving in from outside Missoula. I’ve seen 3 generations of a family (Grandparents, Daughter and grandaughter). It’s wonderful.
OccupyMissoula is facing some issued down there related to security (yet alone weather!) I have much respect for the organizing going on down there as not only are they working on their own structure, they’re feeding and clothing and generally addressing homeless issues down there.
I can tell you that the very first late afternoon as they were just getting started down there last Saturday I had a homeless woman come up and berate me because all that was left to eat was salad. And potato soup. She didn’t eat potato soup because of the starch and the salad was..well SALAD as she clearly had to let me know. No protein! What was she to do?
I was a little dumbfounded (I wasn’t in charge..but really, no one was in charge) and rolled out a response about the Poverello serving dinner and she literally screamed at me and said that she hadn’t “planned to go there and now she was hungry!”
OccupyMissoula is in need of a number of things – here is a list – things like blankets and gloves…food…propane (done with that grill for the season? Why not just donate that gas?). Tarps are another thing. Garbage bags.
Anyways…I will update this as info comes in (either in the comments or email me at hotmail dot com)
The twin pillars of modern poetry—T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound—cannot fulfill the role poetry now must play in our current struggles. The Waste Land and The Cantos echo back to us notes of isolation and archaic knowledge far removed from the spinning crust we occupy.
Navel-gazing confessionals need no longer dribble from the fingers and pens of poets. To successfully occupy language, every effort to connect to that which is larger than ourselves must be made if we, as poets, want to aid those who are using their bodies to occupy actual ground, here and across the world.
There are plenty of poets to look to for inspiration. This morning I pulled Pablo Neruda’s Let The Rail Splitter Awake from the shelf, and a section from ‘The Dead In The Square’—which is about the gunning-down of a crowd demonstrating in solidarity with the protesting workers of the northern nitrate mines in Chile in 1946—really resonates:
People, here you decided to lend a hand
to the bowed workers of the pampas; you answered them;
you called them, man, woman, and child,
one year ago, to this Square.
And here your blood gushed forth.
In the very centre of the country it was spilled,
in front of the Palace, right in the middle of the street
for all the world to see.
And no one could mop it up:
your red stains remained there
like stars, fixed and implacable.
It was when one Chilean hand after another
was stretching out its fingers toward the pampas,
and your words came from the heart, speaking unity;
people, it was when you were marching in your own
singing the old songs full of tears and hope and sorrow
that the hand of the hangman drenched the Square with
This is the way the flag of our country was made:
out of the rags of their sorrow the people stitched it;
they embroidered it with the shining thread of love;
they cut from their shirts, or perhaps from a fold of the
that patch of blue to hold the star of their country,
and with eager hands they pinned it there like a jewel.
Drop by drop it is turning fiery red.
Another section of that poem got me working on a poetic response to what’s been developing both here and in NYC this past week, but before we get to that, I would like to put it out there that TOMORROW AT 1PM, there will be poetry on the courthouse lawn as part of OccupyMissoula, so come on down and occupy a bit of public space with us for a small portion of your Saturday.
The poem below the fold is untitled, and opens with the section of Neruda’s poem that inspired it. Enjoy. Continue Reading »
This is rich, all things considered. Here in Montana we’ve got two Canadian companies working on condemnation of private property (via the gift of Governor Schweitzer and this past legislative session’s HB198) for their Canadian-incorporated tar sands pipeline and the MATL transmission lines.
And in New York City there’s Canadian company Brookfield Properties, incorporated under the laws of Canada prepping to evict peaceful political protesters from the open and publicly used Zuccatti Park in Wall Street.
I’ve pondered Montana’s colonialism often here – this one’s a favorite – and even most recently, I’ve noted how the Keystone pipeline for Exxon’s tar sands seems to parallel that same move towards our own national colonialism.
And now we have a Canadian company on Wall Street evicting political protesters? With the blessing and assistance of the NYPD?
America has gone 360…from colonizing to being the colony.
A private park, right? Is it the NYPD planning on coming in to remove the protesters? Is it their job to enforce trespassing?
And are the trespassers really trespassing on a public space that has been open without discrimination to people of the public?
In other words – Does the public have a prescriptive right to this public space owned by Brookfield Properties? I’m pretty sure a lawyer could make a pretty good case for public use of this space.
And certainly, free speech is a long-standing public use pretty much everywhere. As is political speech.
It’s unclear what is planned for Brookfield Properties to clear the area – and of course, we’ve moved so close to corporatism (or fascism, for those of you with stronger opinions – like me) – what with NYPD bought and paid for by JP Morgan Chase – that it’s entirely possible that Mayor Bloomberg is going to utilize NYPD to remove peaceful protesters from what is inarguably a public space, albeit owned by a private entity.
That’s a George Ochenski link people…don’t miss it.
I’m not a New York City taxpayer here (obviously) but I’d have a problem with my tax dollars being used to provide security to private property for unregulated public uses that have been allowed on the property for years.
That didn’t go well. Blood spilled on the streets, and Carnegie carried that guilt with him for the rest of his life.
Incidentally, when Andrew Carnegie sold Carnegie Steel, he sold it to JP Morgan.
Swing it now to 2011…perhaps it’s Halliburton-KBR they’re going to bring in to Zuccotti, who knows.
What I do know is that whatever happens down there is going to happen under the watchful eye of the nation.
This nation could benefit from an immersion course in American history if you ask me. And a dose of constitutional history and law thrown in, too. That wiki link on the Homestead Strike would be a good start.
Another good mandatory history lesson I would assign if I were queen – and this isn’t just for Montanans, though current conditions here make the lesson especially relevant – is a read on The Copper Kings and the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. There’s a whole lot of lesson learning to go on in there – and not the crap written by Ayn Rand in ….in everything that hypocritical corporate whore ever wrote.
So Jon Tester has moved to the right of Max Baucus. Now just why is he running unopposed as a “Democrat?” Primary, anyone?
…Tester has been saying in recent interviews that he doesn’t like the president’s approach to jump-starting the economy.
He called the tax breaks “gimmicks” that “do little to create jobs and fail to address a much bigger, underlying problem: The need for a big, broad and bipartisan plan to cut the deficit and to make sure we can pay our bills and rebuild our economy.”
Well, I guess someone had to take over the bipartisan fantasy in Montana ever since Baucus had his bipartisan balloon punctured during the health insurance squabble a few years ago. Good luck to the Senator from Big Sandy coming up with a “big, broad, and bipartisan plan.” Ain’t gonna happen. You’ve just bought the unemployment numbers for the state, and the nation. Hope you’ve got a bunch of spring seed on order for early 2013. You’re going to have some free time on your hands.
I haven’t seen this – nor have I been able to find anything – in any newspaper in the state (if I’ve missed it, please let me know) – but apparently former leader of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nation group Karl Gharst has sent the Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN) a letter saying that they were a “Jewish criminal organization working with other Jewish organized crime networks,” and that “These organizations are well known to commit crimes against lawful citizens through intimidation, destruction of property, violence and assassination.”
Gharst continues: “As a lawful citizen I am giving you proper notice that I am now exercising my duty that I will do all in my power and the power of the State of Montana to see that all MHRN members will stand trial by the lawful citizens of the State of Montana for crimes against the State, and justice returned to lawful citizens.”
Stand trial where? What is this guy talking about?
According to the story, reported in the Southern Poverty Law Center blog a little over a week ago, Travis McAdam, director of MHRN, has reported the matter to law enforcement.
Karl Gharst, as the SPLC blog post notes, was sent to jail in 2004 for threatening to kill a child protective services worker in Montana. More recently – prior to threatening MHRN most recently – Gharst screened movies which denied the existence of the Holocaust in Kalispell and tangled with other neo-Nazi groups in the area (likely drawn to the area because of people like Gharst calling NW Montana “home”.
I’m not sure why the Montana media hasn’t covered this. Here’s a Montana neo-Nazi who’s not afraid to speak to the press, who’s been convicted and jailed for threatening people in the past, who’s now emailing a threat to the Montana Human Rights Network threatening them with a grand jury of some unknown justice system. That’s not newsworthy?
A search of “supremacist” in the Billings Gazette brings up this list, many of those stories have a direct connect to Montana.
Let’s hope the press isn’t waiting until some “real crime” has been committed.
nothing seems quite as evil as the legacy of the catholic church in supporting, aiding and abetting child molesters. this letter addresses the issue quite well i believe ….. http://drnickmazza.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/good-people-address-catholic-bishop/ UPDATE the above link was taken down by the blog owner …
here’s the explanation … http://drnickmazza.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/removed-bishops-letter-posting-from-forum/
Don Brown in a landowner near Fort Peck who will be directly affected by the proposed KeystoneXL pipeline. He’s been a vocal opponent to the Keystone XL pipeline since early on. He’s criticized Max Baucus’s attempts at circumventing legal process for the pipeline, and more recently, he signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama that included signature of affected landowners in 5 states.
Keystone XL pipeline will utilized eminent domain to obtain the land this Canadian company needs to transport its Athabasca tar sand oil from Canada across the State of Montana and down to Texas.
This weekend Don Brown asks Montanans whether this pipeline is in our national interests. I ask whether it is in Montana’s:
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and President Barack Obama have a decision to make soon — whether TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline is in the “national interest.”
As a landowner along the route who has much to lose when this pipeline comes through, I hope that our decision-makers are absolutely clear about whether this pipeline is in the national interest when it is permitted, but I think there are questions that still haven’t been answered.
Since TransCanada is a foreign corporation, is this pipeline in the national interest? Since this pipeline goes to a port on the Gulf Coast, and they already have a pipeline going to a refinery in Illinois (Keystone I pipeline), that would lead me to believe they plan on exporting the product carried on the Keystone XL. Is that in the national interest? And tar sands, which Keystone XL is going to be carrying, are especially corrosive, and the Keystone I pipeline has already had 14 leaks in about a year of operation — is that in our national Interest?
Should we just be the nation where the pipe crosses, potentially with leaks, en route from one foreign country to another? Is that in our national interest?
Here is the lead-in from today’s Missoulian piece on the occupation of Missoula:
“The rhetoric was rough but the action was mostly peaceful as about 300 Missoulians launched a local version of the Occupy Wall Street protests on Saturday.”
(my emphasis added)
Mostly peaceful? Really? Why just mostly? What “actions” occurred to not make this a totally peaceful protest? I guess Rob Chaney just wants to insinuate un-peaceful things occurred without providing any examples. Is this the kind of reporting we can continue to expect from Lee Enterprise’s corporate-shackled reporting staff?
The rest of the article features the usual cherry-picking that the #OWS movement has been plagued with from the start. This is how corporate media tries to set the narrative. Frame an organic, evolving movement by highlighting certain statements made during the open-mic soapbox session that went on for nearly an hour, and was an open forum for anyone to step up and rant a bit.
Then there’s this:
“The messages occasionally got mixed. A group of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul’s supporters waved signs on one edge of the courthouse lawn, and someone in a bandana hung a “Don’t Tread on Me” rattlesnake flag (commonly seen at tea party events) from the Higgins Avenue Bridge.”
The Missoula version of #OWS is less than 24 hours old, and already our local corporate media is trying to narrowly define what the “message” is, implying Ron Paul supporters aren’t part of it; that their support for their candidate makes the message “mixed”.
WE ARE THE 99% is one of the main themes of the occupations spreading across the country. It’s not going to be easy to honor what that means, and it will be made that much more difficult by corporate media trying to set the narrative. Already, a few days ago, I saw something on CNN that was telling. A little caption at the bottom of the screen read Occupy Wall Street vs. the Tea Party.
Yes, corporate media would absolutely love to pit the Tea Party against the occupiers. The execs at the top would love for us to forget how, before the corporate money came pouring in, the Tea Party started out as an anti-TARP, anti-Fed movement that got quickly co-opted and redirected during the summer of rage toward attacking Obamacare (giving Democrats like perennial corporate tool Max Baucus the cover they needed to sell us out to the for-profit health insurance industry and pharmaceutical industry).
Let’s forget people who identify with the Tea Party and those who identify with #OWS have more in common as part of the ripped-off 99% than those who sit atop the corporate media megaphones trying to tell us what this movement is all about.
Yesterday Missoula joined a movement that has spread to well over 300 cities, and a General Assembly began the sometimes tedious work of organizing folks who will have a variety of views, agendas, and pet political gripes. This is what Democracy looks like.
And this is just the beginning.