The Corporation Man

Watching the Erroll Morris film The Unknown Known, an interview with former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, we are reminded that the Cold War initiated by President Truman in 1948 led to what I would call the parade of monsters and monstrosities at the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Pentagon. Having previously seen The Fog of War, Morris’ film interview of former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, I can only conclude that Cold War assumptions — characterized by the corporation man embodied in Rumsfeld and McNamara — inevitably promoted psychopaths like Rumsfeld and his protege Dick Cheney into positions of power.

Those assumptions, based on American religious and moral entitlement to global hegemony, emanate from both of these revealing documentaries.


As the New York Times reports, a majority of state attorneys general are now Republican. Combined with the new GOP-controlled U.S. Congress, that means coal, oil and gas companies will be able to write (and likely pass) any legislation they want over the next couple years. Indeed, they already are.

White Power vs Northwest Indians

Of interest to the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians — as they battle big oil and big coal — are two new posters at Public Good Project, that highlight the organized racism of fossil fuel export on the Salish Sea, between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Gateway Pacific Terminal Hall of Shame profiles the promoters of the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point, site of Lummi Nation’s salmon and crab harvest, as well as ancient village and burial ground.

Gateway Pacific Terminal Timeline chronicles the connections between the Tea Party, CERA (the “Ku Klux Klan of Indian country”), and the GPT consortium.

Fossil Fueled Fearmongering

Sandy Robson’s November 2014 article on fearmongering by fossil fuel export developers, i.e. SSA Marine, Peabody Coal and BNSF Railroad, raises a couple questions. One is why no local media is reporting on this, and another is why the Washington Secretary of State hasn’t censured their PACs for distributing misleading communications to influence elections.

Sandy’s January 2014 article at Whatcom Watch shined a light on these PACs and their collaboration with fossil fuel exporters in money-laundering to influence elections. It also illuminated their connection with the Tea Party and KGMI radio, both of which assisted CERA (“the Ku Klux Klan of Indian country”) in promoting inter-racial discord aimed at the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, which opposes fossil fuel export in their traditional territories. As noted at IC Magazine, capitalizing on fear is what the developers do best.

Drumming up resentment against Native Americans and environmentalists is established practice by Wise Use propagandists, and has a particularly violent past in the Greater Seattle area, as reported by Robson in her October 2013 article at Whatcom Watch. As noted in an article at NWCitizen in February 2014, Robson and Whatcom Watch were threatened by coal export consortium PR man Craig Cole. As reported at IC Magazine in February, the politics of land and bigotry has a long history in the Salish Sea region.


Romantic Warrior Cults

As Rudolph C. Ryser of the Center for World Indigenous Studies noted in his interview at IC Magazine, the US Government extends legitimacy to some indigenous nations in the form of federally-recognized tribes, but due to termination policies of the past, most American Indians no longer live on reservations. These officially displaced Indians, some enrolled tribal members and some not, harbor understandable grievances.
Prior to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) proposal, put forward by Bolivian President Evo Morales at the UN in 2010, most indigenous nations were busy dealing with modern states domestically, not internationally. In the US and Canada, indigenous governing authorities spent most of the last half century rebuilding their societies in the aftermath of genocidal colonial conquest.
Due to combined efforts of church and state, these indigenous societies were devastated, and dysfunctional in many ways. Christianity and alcohol made traditional indigenous governance impossible. Dependence on church and state, psychologically and financially, created internal conflict that made indigenous nations susceptible to corruption by corporations, often working alongside church and state.
The rejection of this paradigm by the National Indian Brotherhood, forerunner of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in Canada, by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), by the American Indian Movement, and by traditional indigenous leaders led to important reforms in church and state policy toward indigenous nations. This in turn led to reforms within indigenous nations, eager to reassert jurisdiction over their traditional territories, and desperate for educational and economic development.
Policies of traditional indigenous leaders sometimes conflict with elected indigenous authorities, but both have legitimacy within their societies, so these conflicts have to be worked out within each indigenous nation. Modern states still try to impose their will on indigenous nations, but with the discrediting of church and state colonial policy, states like Canada and the US mostly collude with corporations to co-opt NGOs and to corrupt indigenous governing authorities.
In the international arena, most of the work advocating for indigenous nations status has been done by NGOs. With the WCIP, indigenous governing authorities have begun to resume their rightful place in world affairs. Free trade and climate change propelled them onto the world stage.
Since the UN is an organization of modern states, it created the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) as an advisory body. When it came to organizing the WCIP, the UN called on PFII to designate regional coordinators. In North America, the coordinators chosen were from NGOs, and the hosts at the regional preparatory meeting called themselves the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus (NAIPC).
Resentful of indigenous governing authorities, NAIPC tried to prevent them from participating in the regional meeting, and subsequently submitted a fraudulent report to the UN. When indigenous nations organized themselves to participate in the WCIP at UN headquarters in September 2014, NAIPC decided to boycott the event. Some NAIPC leaders went on to attack indigenous governing authorities, claiming superior status for themselves.
Many NGOs that make up NAIPC are funded by Wall Street foundations. Their leaders have built careers of moral theatrics, which Wall Street is happy to fund, as it undermines the ability of indigenous nations to challenge modern states. Only indigenous governing authorities can assert territorial jurisdiction, so anything that weakens them is a worthwhile investment.
NGOs are not representative of indigenous societies. They are not chosen or elected by indigenous nations to lead them. Usurping the voice of traditional leaders, these NGOs then posit themselves as more authentic than governing authorities. It is this nonsense that sometimes leads to romantic warrior cults.
Associations of indigenous governing authorities, i.e. NCAI, and Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, strengthen indigenous nations in fighting modern states. Undermining them benefits Wall Street.

Turn the Tables

As First Nations in Canada exercise jurisdiction over traditional territories, Ottawa is working to undermine indigenous rights recently recognized in international law. As resource extraction and export on these territories pits aboriginal rights against oil and timber corporations, Canadian Prime Minister Harper is pushing for the elimination of First Nations altogether.

In Turn the Tables, Idle No More presents a briefing on the history and future of First Nations in Canada.


Truthout‘s article on San Francisco single-room occupancy (SRO) hotels portrays the battle for low-income housing as a challenge that tenants and organizers are struggling with in a city where “wealth inequality is on par with Rwanda’s.” As San Francisco Tenants Union advocate Ted Gullicksen remarked before his passing in October, “They are the most affordable housing in San Francisco,” and “Any pressure on that housing stock needs to be vigilantly fought back.”

In the summer of 2000, as rent control repeal loomed in the form of a slumlord-backed ballot initiative, I met Gullicksen at a ParkMerced tenants meeting held at San Francisco State University. Working with these tenants of one of the largest residential apartment complexes in the Western US (3,482 units), Public Good Project’s research director Paul de Armond and I advised the tenant organizers Gullicksen was recruiting for the electoral battle that fall.

As a Bay Area tenant, myself displaced in 2011 by skyrocketing rents, it seemed that at best we might have delayed homelessness for San Francisco’s 30,000 SRO tenants for a decade. While an important achievement at the time, today’s challenge is to convert and upgrade these “last resort” housing units (where kitchens and bathrooms are shared) to co-ops, where safety codes are enforced and slumlords no longer control tenants’ lives.

Glenn Morris: Saboteur

In his op-ed Governing and Demagoguery, Center for World Indigenous Studies chair Rudolph C. Ryser calls out Indian Country Today columnists Glenn Morris and Steven Newcomb for making false claims about the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP), and for misleading readers regarding the role of the so-called North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus (NAIPC). Indeed, Dr. Ryser accuses Morris and Newcomb of sabotaging the March 2013 WCIP preparatory meeting in Sycuan on behalf of NAIPC — a group of NGOs — in order to hijack the meeting at the expense of indigenous governments in Canada and the US.

In The Pursuit of Justice, an April 2013 IC Magazine op-ed about the hijacking at Sycuan, it is noted that the sabotage by Morris was not the first time he had subverted indigenous solidarity for personal aggrandizement. Indeed, the American Indian Movement (AIM) Grand Governing Council describes Morris as “deceitful and treacherous,” urging its supporters to expose and isolate Morris in order to help undo the harm he has done in academic and activist milieus.

As a professor and attorney who enjoys Belligerence as a Career, Morris’ delinquent behavior is an impediment to the indigenous peoples movement. His collusion with NAIPC saboteurs at Sycuan, and more recently at Indian Country Today, is evidence that AIM had it right.

Gates vs. Democracy

Gates Foundation, founded on proceeds from Microsoft, is understandably oriented toward pursuing privatization worldwide. It is, after all, what made Gates wealthy and influential.

Privatization of global agriculture, like health and education, is a major project of Gates Foundation. Partnered with other corporations like Monsanto, Microsoft uses the monopoly model to eliminate competition, as well as to annihilate opposition from organic growers and indigenous peoples displaced by the global plantation system Gates supports.

Gates Foundation investments in GMO research and the fast food industry make it a powerhouse in promoting the use of petrochemical agriculture now poisoning the planet. As reported at Grain, this guiding philosophy puts the world’s largest philanthropy squarely at odds with biodiversity, human rights and democracy.