Time to Stand with Standing Rock

Oklahoma National Guard soldier Chris Turley is walking through Kansas to draw attention to the Dakota Access pipeline protest and veterans’ concerns after they come back from war. GoFundMe.com graphic.

New Orleans There’s no question that among the most serious struggles in the country today is the one being waged by the Standing Rock Sioux and countless others over the Dakota Access Pipeline and the threat it poses to water, land, and sacred sites. There’s also no question that as winter is coming everyone, particularly in the North Dakota state government and the county sheriff’s office, is trying to muscle up on the protestors. It is crystal clear that the authorities are looking for a fight.

Some reports indicated that as many as 20,000 people spent some part of Thanksgiving in camp with the protestors. Though thinly reported by the mainstream media, real social media sources also gave indications of protests during the week of all kinds of shapes and sizes around the country in support of the pipeline protestors.

The governor of North Dakota seems to be trying to cut the supply line of food and material to the camp, claiming that a six-inch snowfall put the camp in danger. In North Dakota six inches of snow is so little that it is hardly noticed by the locals, so his announcement must have been intended to startle some folks in the South or something.

Meanwhile I happened to catch a live radio report from the camp indicating that their supply lines were still robust. The speaker mentioned having made a stop to pick up an arctic tent earlier in the day and others that were being donated by individuals that were coming in regularly, along with other supplies.

He and the interviewers were discussing in a calm and tentative fashion their belief that communications are being blocked around the camp for cell and internet service. One example from Thanksgiving week occurred when a woman tried to broadcast on Facebook Live from the camp and was shut off as soon as she typed in her location as Standing Rock, but when she went to up under a Happy Thanksgiving tag, Facebook Live streamed right through. They noted that a Cessna that had been flying continually over the camp was not in the air during the snowstorm, and the fact that without the plane, cell and internet improved remarkably. This line of discussion centered on why there was not more coverage of the Standing Rock protests. They were careful to say they had no hard evidence, but the coincidences were remarkable.

One thing that is getting coverage is the fact that 2000 veterans, part of Veterans Standing with Standing Rock are planning to come into camp over the next week and act as “human shields” for the protestors or “water protectors,” as one woman vet described them. Listening to one of their spokespeople, they seemed to be all brass and no bluff. In fact they have raised close to a half-million dollars on GoFundMe to support veterans standing with Standing Rock. Although the campground is scheduled to be closed as part of the state government’s get tough talk, one of the vet leaders was quoted as saying he would love to see some county cop try to arrest any of the veterans for trespass. This was a guy who understands that 2000 veterans are an 800-pound gorilla that is not to be messed with. The local authorities were quoted as saying that as long as people were peaceful, there would be no problems. The tribe said they were committed to peace.

Talk is good but as the water protectors and the veterans are proving once again, action speaks louder. This is all serious stuff now, as it has been throughout. We all need to be prepared to stand with Standing Rock now. This is when we are needed.


New Administration Shaping Up to Be Worse Than Any Might Have Imagined

captureNew Orleans   You know it’s bad when hope comes in tiny capsules of news that some of the more horrific proposals by the President-elect like waterboarding will be harder to resuscitate than the Twitterman-in-Chief might have thought. You know it’s bad when you found yourself momentarily rooting for George Romney for Secretary of State so you didn’t have to live through the horror of a Rudy Giuliani unleashed around the world as the global representative of the United States.

Maybe you had allowed yourself to have a glimmer of hope when President Obama for a hot minute seemed to be having some impact on the President-elect. Maybe for an instance you had allowed yourself a minute of peace thinking the weight and power of the office might have a civilizing effect on the President-elect. Maybe you lingered over every line of reports that there might be some problems the President-elect might have in Congress with some semi-independent thinkers or just plain cranky old men and women within the elected ranks of Republican Party who might slow this train to hell down. Maybe you even wasted some brain power wondering if it might be truly possible that a new “center” might evolve to counter some of the crazy.

Too bad, now, increasingly, there is no maybe about it – you, me, we are all dreaming: this new administration is shaping up to be worse than any might have imagined. This is going to be our worst nightmare!

It starts right at the top with Stephen Bannon, the on-leave CEO of the far right wing, scum stirrer Brietbart News, who having survived a couple of months as chairman of Trump’s campaign crew, is now going to be his senior strategic advisor. Many trees were felled as reporters tried to tighten down exactly how racist and anti-Semitic he might or might not be, but that’s really so yesterday’s news. He’s going to be right there in the White House, whispering his whatever into Trump’s ear.

For Attorney-General we will soon have former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, an anti-immigrant heavy breather, who we are also reminded couldn’t be appointed as a federal judge for his past racist remarks. No problem seen for his appointment to AG though, because, hey, he’s well-liked in the Senate. You would think he was going to be organizing the high school’s prom, rather than responsible for the nation’s justice system and, you know, little things like enforcing fair elections, civil rights, and whatnot.

Remember hearing that the President-Elect wanted to keep some things intact from Obamacare. Now he’s putting Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Price, an arch opponent of the Affordable Care Act, in charge of the huge Department of Health and Human Services. For Education Secretary he wants a billionaire Republican fundraiser from Michigan who has been a cheerleader for charter schools and privatization of public education. For Commerce it seems he wants to appoint a billionaire vulture investor and turnaround guy.

It just gets worse and worse. A recount won’t save us. There’s only one thing we have going for us right now, and that’s the fact that it is still almost three full months before we stop having the nightmares and start living them on a daily basis. Enjoy it while it lasts, because winter is coming.