More on the Lakota secession

I’ve been trying to look into the Lakota secession, with an eye towards making into a Master’s thesis project. I’ve started by downloading all the articles I can find about Russell Means, who is among the activists who delivered the declaration to the State Department.

A Lexis Nexis search on Means–a couple days ago–yielded 999 articles. I’ve plowed through about 400 of them. Suffice it to say, he’s a character. While he’s been involved with the (capitalist) Libertarian Party, he has criticized the government for enabling corporations to fix prices. He doesn’t quite seem to understand, however, that it is as important to address the economic hierarchy as it is the political hierarchy. While he has been a strident advocate of tribal sovereignty, he has quickly resorted to U.S. courts when the tribal courts didn’t rule to his liking. He has argued that tribal governments are in collusion with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which many Indians blame for keeping their people in poverty. It also appears that tribal governments should not be confounded with tribal elders, and that legitimacy rests more with elders than with governments.

Meanwhile, Barbara Peterson has written an article which affirms the authority of these activists to act. She cites a statement on the Lakota Freedom site:

The Lakota Freedom Delegation is the powerful realization of an ongoing process lasting no less than 33 years. Despite criticism the Delegation does not speak for the Lakota people, Delegation representatives have been in ongoing communication with the traditional chiefs and treaty councils all across Lakota for the last three and a half years.

Canupa Gluha Mani (Duane Martin Sr.) , leader of the Cante Tenza (Strongheart Warrior Society) of the Ogalala Lakota and Oyate Wacinyapin (Russell Means) have been in discussion with the traditional treaty councils across Lakota. The traditional treaty councils in the following communities were consulted:

  • Pine Ridge
  • Porcupine
  • Kyle
  • Rosebud
  • Lower Brule
  • Cheyenne River
  • Standing Rock
  • Flandreau

Additional consultation with the treaty council occurred during Defenders of Black Hills meeting in Rapid City. Mni yuha Najin Win (Phyllis Young) also consulted with the people in Standing Rock regarding this action.

With this in mind, the Delegation does not act for IRA [Indian Reorganization Act] Indians, “stay by the fort indians”, or other Lakota people unwilling to be free.

According to Peterson, “Canupa Gluha Mani indicated to me that the 8 delegates listed above, out of 77 came to the meetings and support the withdrawal.” The grammar there is ambiguous; I don’t know what she refers to when she writes the number, 77. A page on the Minnesota State University site on Lakota Indians lists seven bands of the Lakota:

  • Sihasapa- Reservations at: Cheyenne River, Standing Rock
  • Oohenumpa- Reservation at: Cheyenne River
  • Miniconjou- Reservation at: Cheyenne River
  • Hunkpapa- Reservation at: Standing Rock
  • Itazipco- Reservation at: Cheyenne River
  • Sicangu- Reservation at: Rosebud
  • Oglala- Reservations at: Pine Ridge

I’m not sufficiently familiar with the geography or the relationship between “communnities” and reservations, but it looks like this declaration legitimately applies to a significant portion of the Lakota nation.

Lakota Indians secede

The story comes to me indirectly from Agence France-Presse that the Lakota Indians have withdrawn from 150-year old treaties, no longer consider themselves citizens of the United States and have invited all residents of a five-state area, i.e. “parts of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana,” to join them. A statement on the Dominion blog reads, “We are the freedom loving Lakota from the Sioux Indian reservations of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana who have suffered from cultural and physical genocide in the colonial apartheid system we have been forced to live under. We are in Washington DC to withdraw from the constitutionally mandated treaties to become a free and independent country. We are alerting the Family of Nations we have now reassumed our freedom and independence with the backing of Natural, International, and United States law.”

Common Dreams carries a press release. More information can be found on the Lakota Freedom web site.

The Lakotas may live in poverty, but I must say I’m now a little envious. I congratulate them on their courage and wish them the very best fortune.

And we’re still not satisfied….

Stefan Simanowitz argues that the National Intelligence Estimate, widely seen to “undermine the central argument of those arguing for tougher sanctions and precipitant military strikes” against Iran, contradicts the IAEA’s failure to find, “despite nearly 3,000 person-hours of inspections,” any evidence “that Iran has diverted its nuclear programme to military purposes.” Rather, by claiming that Iran had such a program in the past, and suggesting that it might be restarted at any time, Simanowitz sees the NIE as leaving an opening for future neoconservative claims.

The Philosophy of Communication?

Apparently, this is an old quote:

“Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds.”
-Attributed to Richard Feynman (1918-88) U.S. Physicist. Nobel Prize 1965.

I survived my graduate-level Communication Theory class with a B. As I’ve mentioned previously, the Communication Department at CSU East Bay has been taken over by freaks who draw from a fact of cognition as preceding action an inference of theory as being at the center of everything. I remain unimpressed. Something about prognosticating about theory seems to turn otherwise lucid, intelligent people into blathering idiots who gather into little cliques surrounded by walls of terminology that demonstrate that even those who should know better will 1) mangle the English language beyond recognition, inventing both words and definitions of words, and 2) invent systems of logic–and misapply those that already exist–to rationalize ideas that just aren’t all that insightful and certainly aren’t worthwhile.

All I can say is, good riddance.

Duh. Sex Education works. Duh.

It is a pathetic comment on Western society that this is even still controversial. The cited study contradicts previous ambivalent findings about the effectiveness of sexuality education. But then there’s blast from the past that Courtney E. Martin recounts, and will surely resonate with many:

As the middle-aged gym teacher in a track suit stands in front of the class and reads a health book out loud in a monotone voice — “Intercourse can lead to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, such as …” — a couple of girls swap the latest issue of US Weekly and a Gossip Girls novel, all the juicy parts underlined in pink pen.

It is a chicken and egg problem. In order for people to have healthy and sensible attitudes about sex, they need guidance that isn’t laden with shame.

According to the government’s most comprehensive survey of American sexual practices to date, more than half of all teenagers have engaged in oral sex — including nearly a quarter of those who have never had intercourse. Regardless of this reality, health teachers from Nacogdoches, Texas, to Newark, N.J., are taught to emotionlessly repeat — as if pull dolls of the Bush administration — “The only guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy and STDs is abstinence. The only guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy and STDs is abstinence. The only guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy and STDs is abstinence.”

Even without the “superior” mind/”inferior” body dichotomy that Jack Holland, in Misogyny, blamed for a repression of women, Martin writes that “the message to young women is also resolute: Your body is dangerous. Control it. Ignore it. Don’t ask any questions. Teen girls are cast as asexual princesses happily trapped in towers, guarded by their Bible verse-spouting fathers.”

Martin might not point precisely to the dichotomy that Holland derived from Plato, but she points to dichotomies nonetheless, “between pornified culture and purity balls, in between the slut and the virgin, the stupid, lascivious dude and the knight in shining armor, in between the messages directed at young women — your body is your power vs. your body is dangerous — and young men — your gaze is your power vs. your gaze is dangerous.”

And for me, it all still leaves unanswered a single question. When sex makes us all feel good, why did we ever accept a paradigm that both stigmatizes it and casts it as a temptation?

New York Times asks, are we in a recession?

The New York Times today carries a series of sometimes sickening op/ed pieces in which various “experts” pontificate as to whether we are in a recession. In its own editorial, the Times observes that “the banks still have to cope with hundreds of billions of dollars of long-term loans that may well go bad as the housing market weakens and defaults soar — the same for securities that are tied to those loans. Given those underlying problems, a severe downturn, if not an outright recession, may be unavoidable.”

Stephen Roach argues that this recession will be worse than the dot-com bust. “The dot-com-led downturn was set off by a collapse in business capital spending, which at its peak in 2000 accounted for only 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The current recession is all about the coming capitulation of the American consumer — whose spending now accounts for a record 72 percent of G.D.P.” Laura Tyson explains what’s getting the consumer down, writing, “The resetting of interest rates on more than 2 million subprime loans will prompt a large number of foreclosures, perhaps a million a year in both 2008 and 2009. These huge waves of foreclosures will depress the price of residential real estate still further. Plummeting real estate values and escalating foreclosures will cause further losses on mortgage-related securities and will further burden American consumers already dealing with higher energy prices and substantial debt.” Against this large number of foreclosures, she criticizes the Bush administration’s plan for dealing with the subprime crisis as helping only a few homeowners.

Marcelle Chauvet and Kevin Hassett, promoting their new book, argue on a statistical measure that the answer is no, but rely on numbers which have only been updated as of October. Jason Furman thinks exports will save the day; he relies on GDP statistics that only go through the end of September. James Grant celebrates recessions as the “sorting out of boomtime error. They permit — indeed, force — the repricing of inflated assets. In a downturn, previously overpriced businesses, houses and buildings are made affordable again.” The problem of the wait for statistics prompts Martin Feldstein to write that we’ll have to wait til next year to find out. But Feldstein also apparently pulls an opinion out of his ass, writing, “My judgment is that when we look back at December with the data released in 2008 we will conclude that the economy is not in recession now.”

But Furman also writes:

Even if the economy avoids a recession, the road ahead will be rocky. A slowing economy compounds the problems facing workers, who did not receive inflation-adjusted wage gains even in the past few years of strong G.D.P. growth. As our focus necessarily shifts to the short-run task of averting a recession, we should not forget the need for the progressive tax policies and robust social insurance that are needed to help everyone share in the gains of a strong economy.

To Attorney General Mukasey

[from the ACLU’s prepared text:]
Mr. Attorney General:

The deliberate destruction of tapes showing “harsh interrogation techniques” by the C.I.A. suggests an utter disregard for the rule of law. These tapes were needed for Congress, courts, and even the 9/11 commission to do their work.

Because the Justice Department and top officials in the White House and the C.I.A. have been major players in the torture scandal, only an independent prosecutor can get at the truth.

I demand that you immediately appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute crimes that may have been committed by C.I.A. personnel or other top officials.

[My addition:]
As I recall, in your confirmation hearings, you declined to classify waterboarding as torture, despite testimony from those who voluntarily underwent the procedure, despite arguments that the procedure does in fact place subjects’ lives at risk, despite the fact it is unlikely you would want our own military and intelligence personnel subjected to such treatment when they fall into hostile hands, and despite the fact that such interrogations can only yield what subjects think their interrogators want to hear. Now it seems at least some evidence you claim to need to render judgment has been destroyed.

Your claim to need further evidence of the illegality of these practices is not credible. As a communication scholar, I know that the real purpose–with a dubious record of historical effectiveness–of such “interrogations” is the intimidation of a subject population.

A policy of “harsh interrogation” can, in fact, be said to reliably accomplish only one purpose, that is, to further antagonize already hostile populations so as to prolong a “war on terror.” It thus supports the further consolidation of power within the executive branch, increasing the value of a prize sought in next year’s electoral contest.

It is also implausible that these tapes could implicate interrogators for hostile operatives. I have complete confidence that the interrogators are as well known to hostile operatives as they are their victims, that is, unless, you now regard the United States Congress–which has yet to substantially fail to support Bush administration policy in the war on terror–as hostile, or unless, you now regard the judicial system, also tilted in favor of “law and order” and thus a hierarchy that protects the elite, as hostile, or unless, you now regard U.S. citizens who, sensing defeat, now oppose the war, as hostile.

The ACLU sees the destruction of these tapes as obstruction of justice. I see it as a tiny piece in the prosecution of a larger injustice that kills innocent people, deprives U.S. citizens of our rights, sends the poorer amongst us to fight in a losing war, then leaves them with inadequate medical treatment following their service, and then leaves them homeless.

I see the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the destruction of these tapes as a small part of your duty to the United States with regard to the shameful record of the Bush administration, a record that includes crimes against humanity, crimes against the Constitution, and crimes against our own people.

Do your job. And remember that that job is distinct from what your sponsors in the Bush administration tell you it is.

No glory in defeat: military families turn against Bush

I can’t find it now, but I remember a story someplace about how families of soldiers killed in Iraq continued to support President Bush’s failed policies in Iraq. The story headlined intensely private “healing sessions” held between Bush and relatives of dead soldiers. Apparently that’s not how a majority of military families sees it. “Families with ties to the military, long a reliable source of support for wartime presidents, disapprove of President Bush and his handling of the war in Iraq, with a majority concluding the invasion was not worth it, a Los Angeles Times/ Bloomberg poll has found.”

Foreclose on families in order to save them

Paul Krugman, in an op/ed for the New York Times, describes the subprime mortgage relief plan unveiled by the Bush administration as not “mainly intended to achieve real results. The point is, instead, to create the appearance of action, thereby undercutting political support for actual attempts to help families in trouble,” specifically, in fact, to undermine pending “legislation that would give judges in bankruptcy cases the ability to rewrite mortgage loan terms.”

Forecasters with a dismal record

[Updated] Steve Fraser has written an op/ed piece which appears in the Los Angeles Times:

Even the soberest economy watchers, pundits with doctorates — whose dismal record in predicting anything tempts me not to mention this — are prophesying dark times ahead. A depression, or a slump so deep it’s not worth quibbling about the difference, appears to be on the way, if indeed it is not already underway.

In his discussion, he points to several problem areas with the way it’s been since Ronald Reagan came to power. And carries a piece about how U.S. problems will affect the world. It seems that “‘The American consumer is the big gorilla on the demand side of the global economy,’ [Morgan Stanley in Asia chairman Stephen] Roach said. ‘As the slowdown goes from housing to consumption, we’ll find the world is not as decoupled as it thinks.'”

A picture that emerges here is that the corporate presumption that good-paying jobs could be exported overseas without affecting consumer demand has fallen short. Apparently, all those cheap foreign workers aren’t earning enough to make up for U.S. consumers who have lost good-paying jobs due to globalization and who have had to accept lower-paying jobs, requiring two incomes where one formerly sufficed, and offering far fewer benefits.