Paul Haeder, Author

writing, interviews, editing, blogging

Caught in a Madhouse without My Mask

I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against. — Malcolm X

by Paul Haeder / May 27th, 2020

Caught with their proverbial pants down? The blustery conversations tied to corona virus, lockdown, Trump LLC, Pelosi and Comp., and the failed state that is the USA are to be expected.

It is a country of nanosecond attention spans.

A country with amnesia in vitro.

A country that has sacrificed future and future-future generations for the all mighty dollar.

Dog-eat-dog?

Survival of the fittest (or in the reverse Darwinism, survival of the least fit, the least smart, the least humane, the least human).

Yeah, sure, trolls abound in the social media morass. The putridity of a buffoon on one local Facebook page can be tiring.

The King Rat in High (he is high, by all accounts of his Adderall sniffing) Office is a troll, yep.

CEO, the Apprentice Blob, the guy who made head of CBS orgasmic during the last run-up to the POTUS election – “I might not agree with Mister Trump’s politics, but Donald Trump is really-really good for business.”

The bottom line is money for nothing. With Corona Capitalism, it’s money for the bail-out queens and kings – corporations. Wall Street is bullish. Studdly, in fact.

Make that 40 million unemployed. In USA, but we know that figure is so much higher using the other Bureau of Labor stats. Like U3, U5, U6 and UB-40!

Protective mask shaming by the trolls, including King Rat Donny, and then mask illiteracy by the masses.

Yes, those valiant cloth masks with coffee filter inserts, hmm, vanity, for sure. We know the physics of a sneeze – 23 feet and a 100,000 microbes spread out in one big let-go.

Multiphase Turbulent Gas Cloud From a Human Sneeze

Yet we have these Disneyland parameters — elbow greetings and six foot circle jerks. Social distancing is the racist caste system of India, and now, alas, we have meme after meme, two bit prognosticator yammering about what it means to be, well, self-quarantining.

Call it lockdown, and it then becomes a policing issue. It always has been a policing issue — for the 80 percent. Fines, regs, fees, tolls, levies, penalties, triple penalties,  interest, laws, measures, arrests, convictions. prosecutions.

Disciplinary confinement, man — read all about it!

If you question the myriad of narratives spewed by left and right of the manure pile called USA politics, then, well, you suffer ire, de-platforming.

Called a Trumpie or Republican or Money First American if you dare question the entire idea of forced lockdown without forced government and private industry supporting people in real time; and without forced collective safety nets for food, health care, social services during this tsunami of destruction these lockdowns and falsifying narratives daily.

You gotta be consistent, the old American way, right? No counter-intuitive thinking, no systems thinking, no whole picture thinking, right?

So many “duh moments,” that each and every duh thing said by left and right of the political center dung pit are just too numerous to mention or answer.

This is no joke – United States of Amnesia, maybe on a daily diet.Gore Vidal quote: We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn ...

Weren’t we warning about the military industrial complex in the 1930s by the general, Smedley Butler and War is a Racket? I get hammered for being a conspiracy nut, that how could there be a deep state, how could there be the big lie in such a big bad diverse country? How can I say a vaccination ID chip program could be real?

Right:

In 1934, a colossal claim reached the American news media: There had been a plot to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in favor of a fascist government. Supposedly in the works since 1933, the claims of the conspiracy came from a very conspicuous and reliable source: Major General Smedley Butler, one of the most decorated war heroes of his time. Even more unbelievable were his claims of who was involved in the plot – respected names like Robert Sterling Clark, Grayson M.P. Murphy, and Prescott Bush. While news media at the time mocked Butler’s story, recently discovered archives have revealed the truth behind Major General Butler’s claims.  Source!

When was The Jungle written? A century and change ago, and of course, the meat industry is so-so cleaned up?

Decades after Upton Sinclair exposed the horrors of meatpacking, radical labor organizing transformed the industry into a bastion of worker power. Now, a century later, after decades of union-busting and the coronavirus decimating workers throughout the industry, the meatpacking industry is back to The Jungle.  Source!

Try that argument with trolls on F/Zuck-err-berg or anywhere. Then you have that fourth grade level thinking King Rat, Adderall Donny, until whack a mole is more than some child’s game. It’s the SARS-CoV-2 plan, it’s the diplomacy of this Clear and Present Danger, United of Snakes? Did I say, William Blum?

This book could be entitled: Serial chain-saw baby killers and the women who love them.

The women don’t really believe that their beloved would do such a thing, even if they’re shown a severed limb or a headless torso. Or if they believe it, they know down to their bone marrow that lover-boy really had the best of intentions; it must have been some kind of very unfortunate accident, a well-meaning blunder; in fact, even more likely, it was an act of humanitarianism.

For more than 70 years, the United States convinced much of the world that there was an international conspiracy out there. An International Communist Conspiracy, seeking no less than control over the entire planet, for purposes which had no socially redeeming values. And the world was made to believe that it somehow needed the United States to save it from communist darkness. “Just buy our weapons,” said Washington, “let our military and our corporations roam freely across your land, and give us veto power over who your leaders will be, and we’ll protect you.” Rogue State, William Blum

Point and counterpoint

So, all the evidence of USA bioweapons work, all the machinations by more than 13,000 scientists working on US programs for DARPA, Plum Island, Fort Detrick, University of North Carolina, et al, none of that counts? Doesn’t matter who might agree with the minutiae. Grand conspiracy to mess with coronavirus, and great work on bat viruses. We know that the USA is the free world’s biggest gangster, and we can go on and on about the toxins unleashed, the Japanese prisoners captured in bioweapons facilities and brought to the USA. Along with those Sieg Heil missile boys.

Does it matter if there are many opposing and counterpointing ideas? Can we not maybe entertain the idea that the USA (with help from UK and Israel) might be concocting viruses or chemicals for infertility or bombs that kill people but keep buildings in tact? Depleted uranium shells? Goo that burns the skin off the bodies. Agent orange was not just a defoliant for exposing the heroes who fought the great American menace in their land. The McNamara and DOW papers state that agent orange (Your grandson’s Round-Up weed killer) would be something of the gift that keeps on giving. Papers reveal the idea was to ruin the rice crop of Vietnam. Contaminate the soil for generations.

Oh, that Round-Up Ready America. The media, the police, the finance, the insurance, the real estate, the hedge funds, the legal eagles, the university system, the chemical-fumigant-herbicide-pesticide purveyors. Big Pharma, Big Med, Big Private Prison. Big big big and too big to take on, fail, and frog march to the gallows.

Yet, this compliance for lockdown, even now, May 27. I live on the coast of Oregon, near Newport.

No industry, no shipping lanes, no stagnation, no burning coal or burning anything really, yet my mean greenie weenie acquaintances are still putting their Zoom Doom out there for environmental programs.

I have a new book – all my readings cancelled because of Corona Capitalism. But now, no light at the end of the lockdown tunnel. All those libraries? Outside parking lots, hell, I will stand away with bullhorn and read and talk.

Let the people sit outside, even with their vanity masks. The cleanest air in the world, and it circulates in an open house every ten minutes – completely new air in a house. Outside? Nope!

Tele-Zoom, man. These white great hopes, the middle and upper middle classes, they love the Zoom Doom. Tele-marketing turned into tele-ed, tele-med, tele-sex, tele-retail.

All these congealing ideas coming out now, with the absurdity of a fourth world country like USA. No clinics in every neighborhood. No dental care. No regulating polluters to not pollute zero emissions or toxins. All this colonizing of higher and lower education by the MBA’s and profiteers and for-profit investment vehicles.

All this racism and racist policies and the one hundred percent of Native American treaties broken by Uncle Sam.

I live here in Lincoln County, and the Siletz tribe has the big casino. Big attraction for addicts. But what is a disenfranchised tribe to do?

Even after all the theft and rapine, the Siletz Tribe in the 1820s was given a million acres, yet those white devils we praise as the great wagon trains of the Oh Pioneers, like a coronavirus, came into the Oregon Territory, and over time, all those deeded acres disappeared. The tribe now has 3,600 acres – fractured to be sure – in its sovereign name.

I have friends who do some amazing things looking at the numbers game, the To Die With Corona or Not to Die.  You betcha being skeptical of Gates and Vaccine Purveyors and Alex Azar and Fauchi and the Surgeon General and Trump LLC, you bet, best way to be. Davos, Rockefeller, the pandemic planning way before Dec. 2019.

You betcha.

Unfortunately we are in some contradictory and counter-intuitive times. Yes, coronavirus, in it’s novel form, is worse than the H1N1 or Swine flu. Two times? Three? Hmm.

Locking down healthy people without safety nets —  and we know ALL the safety nets necessary for closing down the economy and day to day life, and schools – is insane.

So are meat packing plants and Amazon warehouses. So are the freaks dictating that private companies do not have to report sick employees with coronavirus. So is a country without test. So is a country that still rams its military whores into other parts of the world, still keeps those weapons deals going, yet this pathetic country can’t even amass MASH tents and hearts and minds soldiers (without weapons) to be part of the so-called coronavirus mitigation.

I read a lot as well as work a lot, and gain of function for DNA and RNA tweaking of viruses should never be allowed. But then never should there have been a patent given on seeds.

This is all pre-dating the Adderall Addict in Chief. Predates his scum lording in the Oval Office.

You can hate Donald Trump on so many levels and see him as a felon (in a long line of American president felons) and still not believe the Russian Investigation.

You can doubt lockdown and still decry armed racists and their white breed from going to state capitals with fully loaded AR-15’s.

You can decry Zoom and Facebook and parse the Fourth Industrial Revolution and rail against Internet of Things and AI and self-driving cars, and 5G, and still have pure science background in biology and ecology.

Beware of 'ZoomBombing': screensharing filth to video calls ...

You can attack the Planet of the Humans for its total lack of embracing the reality that the majority of the world – non-white, thank god – is doing many things to fight against green capitalism, carbon markets, REDD, and the other tricks of the capitalists. You can hate Michael Moore for being a multimillionaire. You can doubt Bill McKibben and tire of the Naomi Klein getting gazillion minutes of air time on the Soros Show, Democracy Now, and endless copy on the Intercept.

Yet, you can still embrace Bowling for Columbine, Shock Doctrine, The End of Nature, and rail against Green as the New Black.

It’s possible to think the lockdown is absurd on one level, and that business as usual is absurd, too.

You can be for universal health care, universal public education, for nationalizing (people-izing) industries, ending the billionaire class and still be for retail, mom and pop’s, good food, good weed and great wine.

Communists are for democracy and for the people’s rights over all rights of the business and investing class. Yes, the world is global and so is weather and so is the water cycle, winds, precipitation, and culture. Yes, we need to relocalize, but we need deep-deep ecology with deep-deep cultural survival.

Yes, peasant culture and collective enterprises, and looking at workers own their work and the industries, and yes, ending perpetual wars, any walls against people’s freedom of moment, well, call this neo-communism, or Marx-taken-to-the-next level, or Utopian?

But instead we argue whether cruise lines should come back, the value of a hair salon, and what about air traffic?

So many of the long-in-the-tooth conservative democrats I mingle with here on the coast have shit to say about the chronically homeless, the chronically one-paycheck from hell, the very people who hammer their roofs, flip their halibut steaks, clean granny’s bedpans, and the like.

They are glad the air is cleaner (that’s a big fat joke) and that air travel is curtailed. It is lockdown, and the rich still travel, and these conservative democrats who vote “green” are glad all that wasteful Disneyland travel is gone . . . while they still shuttle themselves to grand-kids across the land, go to their language immersion schools in Cuernavaca or Tibet.

Bring back the spotted owl, but screw the people. The dichotomies, the trolls on both ends, the split society, the false balancing of issues, the I-know-I-am-right pukes on all sides of the manure pile, well, they are Making America Great Again (that was Reagan’s line 40 years before another mentally-challenged foe is in the Oval office).

You see this was all predicted – shit, how many books and articles and even movies have been produced discussing a virus or other bacterial outbreak? And yet, this was not seen coming?

The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities. In the technotronic society the trend would seem to be towards the aggregation of the individual support of millions of uncoordinated citizens, easily within the reach of magnetic and attractive personalities exploiting the latest communications techniques to manipulate emotions and control reason.   ― Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era

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Researcher Alison Hawver McDowell: “A new global economic apparatus is being laid down that is profoundly anti-human. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will dispossess people from their means of survival and replace “work” with robots and AI. Through UBI and pay for success data surveillance the masses become batteries for predatory financial deals and the data extracted from them will be used to advance the Singularity.” Source.

*–*

The FOIA document, obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), was produced by a little-known U.S. government organization called the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI). It was created by the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its official purpose is “to consider the methods and means necessary to advance the development of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and associated technologies to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.”

The NSCAI is a key part of the government’s response to what is often referred to as the coming “fourth industrial revolution,” which has been described as “a revolution characterized by discontinuous technological development in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), big data, fifth-generation telecommunications networking (5G), nanotechnology and biotechnology, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and quantum computing.”  Source

How do we get Americans off their high horses? Those Earth Day people I have associated with who will continue to Zoom Doom their groups, now that this is the new normal – “Oh, so easy, just open up that laptop, sit back, sip chamomile and listen to those cool scientists and naturalists without having to strap in a car and driving someplace.”

This is a time of idiotic calls for a universal basic income while not making calls to create good work, that is, grow legions of people in paid-volunteer work, community-based work; real community-based schooling; clinics in each neighborhood; gardens and food distribution in all neighborhoods. Cancelling the billionaire class. Worthy public transportation that reaches the outskirts and is 24/7. Universal Basic Bum’s Income My Ass.

That UBI (not UB40) is based on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Disruptive Economies and Viral Economic and Digital models.

You know, self-driving cars, buses and trucks? Who said this was okay? And those jobs? Oh, yeah, we shall be locked up in cubicle mini-apartments and forced to receive our digital crypto currency monthly to pay for capitalism on steroids.

Foolish. And yet, the Andrew Yang’s and others call for this stupidity?

How about social security increased, total publicly funded health care, state banks, cooperative utilities, true safety nets and creative organizations and self-organizing communities and agricultural based intentional communities and real work.

There is a shit-ton of work to be done. Micro-homes built, foster homes visited, retirement communities to be built and energized.

But the masters of the universe and those other oddities want what? Get your pay, with your vaccination chip approved. All data and all history captured in the span of a human hair.

Some of us do not want the Trump World, the Biden World, the Gates World, the Naomi Klein World, the Goldman Sachs World, the World Bank World. Some of us imagine narratives and viewpoints that do not fit some consistent, packaged, inside-the-dreadful-lines of left-right (not really left, but right-super right) politic correctness.

It doesn’t take a million PhD’s in plethora of fields to define what works, what might work, what isn’t working, and how it works. This is common sense, and yet, we have prognosticators, idiots with Microphones and Makeup yammering pure nothingness.

I have had deeper conversations with old men halfway in their dementia while withdrawing from a weekend of meth than with a majority of people I also associate with. Or used to associate with.

Because the new normal allows for more and more sculpted venues, more Skype-up-your-ass and Zoom Doom sessions. “You can join BUT if we notice any derogatory language and counter spin, we shall pull the proverbial plug.”

The “I can’t breathe” yet again is the comment for a generation, for generations. Emblematic of the entire bullshit world of Cop Capitalism, the Police State Mentality of Bezos, Gates, F/Zuckerberg and any of the other Google and Digital Demigods.

How many times are we going to be subjected to the Blue Plague and the Green Plague – The Police State and the Finance State?

And yet, this is it for USA? Not an outcry and complete shut down of the country and the Fox News drumbeat with yet another hit-man cop running free. This cop, one of the Biden VP pick’s boys:

As Chief Prosecutor, Klobuchar Declined to Bring Charges Against Cop that Killed George Floyd; While serving as Minnesota’s chief prosecutor between 1999 and 2007, Klobuchar declined to bring charges against more than two dozen officers who had killed citizens while on duty – including against the cop that killed George Floyd, Alan Macleod, May 27, 2019

Senator Klobuchar Police

So how do we have conversations now when the distance unlearning is taking hold not only for overpriced higher education (what idiocy is this when kids get to leave home, leave hometowns, end up on a bricks and mortar campus and end up spending 75 percent of their time in their dorms or apartments with on-line miseducation?) but for public schools.

Troll after troll want the end of childhood, they want the four horsemen of the apocalypse to come riding into their AR-1 and Glock-infested neighborhoods. They think and believe their Jesus was a Duck Dynasty aficionado. These cretins are cretins, easily flushed out in MAGA America.

It’s the greenie weenies, the ameliorating, the corrective ones – the straight democratic ticket lovers, the Hillary supporters, the ones blaming Nader, Stein and others for the victories of what they deem the more evil of the lesser evils.

Back to the future means we have Noam Chomsky again railing and lecturing us to believe his wonderful genius and vote with noses held by backing Biden over Trump. Whew, the new Hitler, uh? Is that so, Trump? Hmm, more bumbling misuse of the language and symbol.

Funny world, man, funny world. The entire mess is co-opted by the death star that is capitalism one all 12 cylinders or sputtering away in the throes of death.

Evil begotten country, evil penetrating imperialism, evil perversions of humanity, the cancer that is consumerism, the virus that is waste/waste/waste. Disease treatment so throw out preventative cures.

Until we are in Oregon, with busy signal for weeks at the unemployment office. Boosted prices at the grocery store. Entitled versus poor, and yet the poor seem entitled to believe in Yankee Doodle Dandy and their Stars and Bars.

Amazon.com: Rogue State: A Guide to the Worlds Only Superpower ...

A Truth Commission

Since the early 1990s the people of South Africa, Argentina, Guatemala, Chile and El Salvador have held official Truth Commissions to look squarely in the eyes of the crimes committed by their governments. There will never be any such official body to investigate and document the wide body of Washington’s crimes, although several unofficial citizens’ commissions have done so over the years for specific interventions, such as in Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq; their findings were of course totally ignored by the establishment media (whose ideology is a belief that it doesn’t have any ideology).

In the absence of an official Truth Commission in the United States, this book is offered up as testimony.

Washington, DC/ May 2005/ Rogue State, William Blum

And so we do this on our people, no? Care homes, workers in confined working operations, the elderly, the physically compromised. Ya think Bill and Melinda and his cronies aren’t thinking about eugenics?

Right.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people in care homes have been dying in droves.

Why is this happening? Is it simply because older adults are very vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 and therefore it’s not unexpected that many would succumb?

Or do care homes deserve the lion’s share of the blame, such as by paying so poorly that many workers have to split their time between several facilities, spreading the virus in the process?

Alternatively, could medical experts and government bureaucrats, with the full knowledge of at least the top tier of government officials, have created conditions shortly after the pandemic struck that contribute to the high death tolls while engendering virtually no public backlash against themselves?

This article shows that the third hypothesis is highly plausible. The people who created the conditions may be unaware of, or oblivious to, their implications. But it’s also possible that at least some of them know exactly what they’re doing.

After all – seeing it from an amoral government’s point of view – the growing numbers of elderly are a big burden on today’s fiscally strained governments, because in aggregate they’re paying much less into the tax base than younger people while causing the costs of healthcare and retirement programs to skyrocket.

“Were conditions for high death rates at Care Homes created on purpose?”  Rosemary Frei

As coronavirus creeps into French care homes, a 'tsunami' of ...

Living modestly in the forestland of Lincoln County, David Peltier believes in breaking the cycle of poverty and ending isolation

by Paul Haeder / May 21st, 2020

David Peltier lives on his property on forestland in Lincoln County, Ore. (Photo by Paul Haeder)

Out of the blue, an email:

Paul, I’ve been reading your stuff on the homeless situation, and I wanted to get a hold of you. Here’s my phone number. I have been involved with the homeless community for many years in Lincoln County. I’d like to talk.

David Peltier, 65, hails from Milwaukee, Wis. Anyone living and traveling from Yachats to Depoe Bay might recognize him peddling his bike along Highway 101.

In a nutshell: He’s still in command of his faculties, he can marvelously recall a collection of experiences and stories on a path less well worn, and he is the steward of 30 acres just north of Waldport.

Column logo: Finding Fringe by Paul K. Haeder
Originally published in Street Roots: A periodic column profiling unconventional Oregonians who push the boundaries of social order.

He’s been on the Oregon Coast for almost two decades, living in a 1984 Pace Arrow, 23-feet of “luxury” with no electricity or running water.

Last year, the Lincoln County sheriff ordered him to evict five individuals barely making it from his property.

A couple, with the wife going through cancer treatments, started off in a tent on his land but then moved up to a motor home. Other narratives like the couple’s are rooted to Peltier’s land.

However, the code enforcers and Lincoln County Planning Department stepped in.

Peltier, like hundreds of others in Lincoln County, has seen our county fall into one crisis after another crisis before the coronavirus lockdown. The collateral damage includes low-paid service workers, single parents, aging people unable to afford rent and few who could afford buying a home somewhere not as expensive as those in our neck of the woods.

Sheltering hearts know it takes a village (or a county)

Homeless, underemployed, disabled, medically fragile, psychologically vulnerable and veterans all pay the price of an economic system that not only leaves them behind, but puts impediments in their survival, Peltier said.

He called it punitive functionality. Then there are those who cook our food, change the bedding in hotels, devein shrimp and hammer nails who are one paycheck away from living in their vehicles.

Emergency shelters are critical components of an effective crisis response system that moves them to transitional housing and in many cases away from home precarity. Peltier has been advocating for a permanent transitional living system to support his brethren for more than four decades.

We talk about what social scientists call “rough sleepers” who occupy public space and how so many dictates of social control over their lives — and their destinies — are Orwellian.

“Dancing to the beat of a different drummer” is a lightweight way of defining Peltier’s life. He’s traveled across the U.S., Ireland and parts of Europe. We swapped perspectives on the relationship between distinct forms of social control including “regulation” and “criminalization” of street populations, as well as those who just fall into homelessness because of some crisis, trauma or significant emotional event.

Hearts, minds and hearths 

I worked in Portland with many agencies to assist people living on the street. The high number of prohibitions on homeless folks using public spaces to lie down, to perform personal hygiene like washing and showering, and store personal belongings is chilling. The built environment in many cities is designed to be less conductive to these “undesirable” (yet human) activities.

Add to that the surveillance and policing of targeted areas, and we have a situation where people who need all these safety nets get nothing but harassment, fines and jail.

I met Peltier at his forestland during this insane time of lockdown that the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has brought to Oregon. He gave me a tour of his 25,000 trees, and he pointed to a few stands of cedar. Peltier knows this property like the back of his hand. He’s been on it for 18 years.

Labeling Peltier with terms like “quite a character” and “eccentric” wouldn’t be an insult.

My dedication to this column is to find people who set down roots (or spread out roots); have unusual narratives (pasts); and who have incredible journeys (continuous) through this cacophony we call life on spaceship Earth.

Judging a book by its cover might propel the average person observing Peltier entering Ray’s grocery store in Waldport for a few items to label him “homeless” and “oddball.”

“I’m a people person, and I like to see people happy,” he said.

A trailer on David Peltier's land
David Peltier was been ordered to evacuate the people he allowed to live on his land in Lincoln County.Photo by Paul Haeder

We were looking at three abandoned camper trailers on his land. It’s zoned for forest conservation, but Peltier would like to see that designation fall away to allow him to circle a few trailers and build some microhomes to give homeless people a chance at a roof over their heads, a dry bed and some respite from street life.

Collector

In some ways, Peltier and I are alike; we’ve run into many interesting, and in some cases “famous,” people in our lives. Time and again, during my interview, David explained intersections with interesting, mindful and intellectual minds.

He took me on his travels to Harvard University, where he audited a class from Professor Gene Sharp — who was inspired by Gandhi and founded the Albert Einstein Institution to advance the study and use of strategic nonviolent action as an alternative to violent conflict.

Sharp’s first book, “Gandhi Wields the Weapon of Moral Power: Three Case Histories,” inspired Peltier to dig deeper into the land movement in India.

I touched a few photos of the young Peltier, in places like Greenwich Village, on his motorcycle, and he showed me a few old posters confirming his travels and travails. A book by Sharp was signed: “To David, a pacifist and humanist warrior in arms.”

Four decades later, Peltier is right on point: “I believe in cooperative communities. Intentional communities with tiny houses and intergenerational connectivity. Young people want to farm.”

We both articulated this new-old paradigm of getting off the destructive path of consumerism and casino capitalism. He sees 3,000-acre communities that are biodynamic, with learning and healing centers tied to community-based ethos, one that includes all the biotic and geological community.

An abandoned blue RV in the forest
One of three abandoned RVs scattered across 30 acres of property in Lincoln County owned by David Peltier.Photo by Paul Haeder

One way to solve the precarious housing and food security issues raging like wildfire across the land would be thousands of these agrarian communities where serious, deep Native American and global Indigenous learning could be coupled with many forms of the digital realm.

He ventured into another influence — Vinayak Narahari “Vinoba” Bhave — who was a spiritual leader, considered the first nonviolent resister to the Britishers in his country. He was a reformer of Independent India who initiated, Peltier explicates, what became the Bhoodan movement.

Peltier was jazzed about the idea of this Indian persuading wealthy landowners to willingly loan small shares of their land to people. He traveled across India convincing landowners and landholders to give small parcels to the downtrodden. Over a span of 20 years, more than 4 million acres of land was shared across the country through this movement.

Too many rich, too many heartless rich

“I’ve been homeless. More and more, poverty is becoming prevalent in the country. The wealthy need to step up to the plate and help. People need land and a way to live closer to food, nature,” Peltier said.

Breaking the cycle of poverty and ending isolation are components of Peltier’s ethos. He also understands that simple things like warm healthy food and a clean bed can do wonders to turn people around. “It’s not rocket science.”

We both agree that turning this country around is the only way forward, to not only protect the growing number of vulnerable people, but to strengthen the nation.

“There are almost a thousand billionaires in the U.S.,” Peltier said. (The U.S. remains the country with the most billionaires, with 614, followed by greater China, including Hong Kong and Macao, with 456, according to Forbes’ 2020 count.)

“We are at a critical point, not only in Lincoln County, but in the country. Poverty and homelessness are symptoms of sick political and economic systems,” he said.

Being is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act. Traditionally, American Indians have always attempted to be the best people they could. Part of that spiritual process was and is to give away wealth, to discard wealth in order not to gain.

– Russell Means

Peltier talked about a young woman and her 3-year-old who lived in a small trailer on his property. “She lost housing in Seal Rock. She had suffered a stroke and sepsis. A lot of single parents like her are in similar situations.”

He illustrated how the homeless are hidden people:

“If you were driving up to Newport and saw a little girl on the side of the road crying, most anyone would stop and offer assistance. However, those same people don’t stop, don’t see those homeless people.”

Abandoned RV
One of three abandoned RVs on David Peltier’s land in Lincoln County, Ore.Photo by Paul Haeder

I checked out a letter Peltier wrote to the editor, published Dec. 5, 2019, in the biweekly newspaper, Newport News Times. He wears his heart on his sleeve:

Our community enjoys great wealth, and yet many people struggle and suffer. Our community must have a warming shelter so that we can save lives. We have many people who have medical needs, housing needs and employment needs, and we still have no warming shelter in south Lincoln County.

Our cold weather is here. January is our tough month. I am asking for a donated house so that we can assist a family, or a veteran, or a disabled person or even an elder.

I will work for donations and I will staff this shelter. A donated house can allow us to actually help people. We can obtain a tax-deduction for the donor. We finally have a nonprofit that is willing to advance our cause.

I attended recently the Lincoln City Planning Commission meeting in city hall. This is for a conditional use permit for the Lincoln City Warming Shelter/Chance Inc., which is run by some very dedicated people — Sharon Padilla and Amanda Cherryholmes.

Unfortunately, the warming shelter was closed with 18 days still left on the agreement during the cold wet weather. Additionally, Lincoln County has no plans for a shelter opening up in the fall of 2020.

I am part of the Working Group on Homelessness Taskforce working with more than three dozen stakeholders on the very real issue of lack of housing, lack of leadership for allowances for car camping, and the big elephant in the room: no homeless shelter for the entire county. Many attending these meetings (before the lockdown) expressed both exasperation and passion about our county’s homeless.

Peltier ventured back into his life during the interview: He was a kid growing up in Milwaukee. His father was a lawyer for Miller Brewing Co., and he called his mother “an Irish beauty who was bipolar.”

He told me he rode the rails short distances starting at age 7. He’s hitchhiked to California. He was part of the June 12, 1982, Mobilization for Survival — a 1 million-plus gathering in New York City against nuclear proliferation.

Here’s 27-year-old Peltier hanging with Pete Seeger; Peter, Paul and Mary; Jackson Browne; James Taylor. He stayed at the Maryhouse (part of the Catholic Worker Movement to support the homeless). He talks of hearing Dorothy Day speak. He’s met Dolores Huerta who worked with the United Farm Movement and Cesar Chavez.

On David’s pretty threadbare Facebook page, he lists on his “about me” the following:

  • I’m a frumpy middle aged over educated curmudgeon … lol
  • University of Wisconsin at Sundara Ecology
  • Former Grunt at CONTRUCTION
  • Studied Ecology at University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Studied Biology and Cooperative Development at University of Wisconsin
  • Studied Peaceful social change methods at Harvard University
  • Went to Whitefish Bay High School
  • Lives in Waldport, Oregon
  • From Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin

Those formative years logged at the University of Wisconsin, a hotbed of intellectualism and political activism, including protests against the Vietnam War, cemented in him his liberal politics.

He told me he could recall several campus demonstrations headed up by Karleton Armstrong, who, with three others, blew up the ROTC armory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Aug. 24, 1970. It was a protest against the university’s research connections with the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. The four perpetrators went underground, and three eventually resurfaced, tried and convicted for the death of a university physics researcher and injuries to three others.

Open hand — antidote against hard-fisted policies 

For Peltier, his life is embedded in nonviolent protest and helping vulnerable people through outreach and direct support. He’s embedded in nonviolent social change, and he considers himself a catalyst of sorts in getting nonprofits going. He helped with the funding drives for Arcata House (established in 1991) in Humboldt County, Calif. Its mission is tied to the foundation of housing as a human right.

This dovetails with Peltier’s life philosophy, and he knows he is in a place of precarity himself. He has no political power in the community and holds no great wealth. He owns no vehicle and depends on the Waldport Library to access the internet.

Who he is and how he lives are counterintuitive to almost everything this country espouses as successful and deems legitimate under capitalism.

“We humans can be magical. We can do great things,” he said. “I’m out in the world all the time. I think like the aboriginal people of Australia who say they are never lost in their walkabouts.”

“The Irishman,” as Peltier calls himself, gravitates toward so many world cultures, but still he returns to Native American wisdom and history. He met Russell Means in South Dakota, one of the big actors in the American Indian Movement. He also met Phillip Deer, a Muscogee Creek, who was the spiritual leader for the movement.

During my life, I have had the opportunity to meet great people and bring them to my community college classrooms. Winona LaDuke was just one of many I befriended.

Having done substitute teaching in K-12 districts in three states, I know people like Peltier and others are needed agents of change and catalysts of learning in the public school system.

Unfortunately, our teach-to-the-test and Google Chromebook-dominated public schools would never have the intestinal or intellectual fortitude to have speakers like Peltier come to campus.

Even on a public community college campus in Spokane, where I taught in 2008, when LaDuke opened a talk with her tribe’s benediction — “Aaniin Ninda-waymuganitoog” (hello my relatives) — her presence ruffled some feathers.

Shortly after LaDuke spoke, stating, “In the end, there is no absence of irony: The integrity of what is sacred to Native Americans will be determined by the government that has been responsible for doing everything in its power to destroy Native American cultures,” two white faculty members stood up, mumbled, “We don’t need to hear more white male bashing,” and bolted out of the room.

No electricity, running water, but memories galore

Peltier takes all this sort of chaos and patriarchal meanness in stride and realizes he has more hope than most fighting for the homeless. He has worked for 54 years of his life, much of that doing construction and cement work. He realizes that few people would see him as successful under the constraints of how Americans define accomplishments.

That’s OK with him.

Look, I know if you stick me in any town in the U.S. without a dime and nothing but the clothes on my back, in a week’s time, I will have money and housing.

Those are lessons all K-12 students should learn and hear. But no public school principal or superintendent would allow such a character on their campus. The irony is not lost on Peltier.

Instead of a punitive approach, we have to be proactive. It’s a human right to have housing. What better lesson to engage young people in that belief.

Food, shelter and caring for your neighbor, imagine that in the school system, beginning in kindergarten all the way through to graduation.

I’m already a rich man: I have land. I have a great family. I have a great education. I am a white male of privilege. I know we have to turn around our country.

The irony of this quote from the Dustin Hoffman movie, The Graduate, is not wasted on Duane Snider:

“One word: plastics.”

That was Benjamin Braddock, just graduated from college, sitting in a swimming pool. Giving him advice on gaining the American dream, the neighbor’s statement says it all. Today? Hedge funds? Flipping houses? Coronavirus repossessions?

For Duane, that one word: artwork.

We’re sitting on the back porch of his brand-new Adair home on a third of an acre on the high land of Waldport. He and his wife Linda are proverbially happy, fat and sassy in this new iteration of their lives.

He went to Benson high school, when it was an all-male segregated school. It was during the Viet Nam, at the height of the draft.

Just a few weeks earlier, Duane and I ran into each other on the beach near the Alsea River emptying out into the Pacific. Loons and eaglets started the conversation, and quickly Duane recognized me by my by-line for this newspaper. He had purchased a piece of art from one of the people I have featured in Deep Dive – Anja Albosta, artist and environmental refugee from Yosemite  see Dec. 16, 2019, “Art in a changing climate”).

Duane’s 68,  and his wife — originally from Sonora, CA — is 67. Duane’s work life is quintessential drudgery millions of Americans called working stiffs have face. In his case, 39 years working at one place, grinding optics for an optical service in Portland. It was for Duane 20 years in a hostile work environment where his boss bullied him. There was no real upside to the job — a repetitive job tracing lenses and frames and low pay.

He conveys to me that for more than a decade was highly depressed, even suicidal.

I could see the Ross Island bridge. Daily, I would look out the window and fantasize jumping off it. Even planning out in my mind how I’d have to aim my fall just right as to hit the bike path just to be sure”

Alcohol and drug abuse were a big part of his life, but to his credit Duane’s been clean in sober going on three decades. His addiction to substances was eclipsed by another addiction – art collecting. He’s been a fixture in Portland’s art scene for decades —  a gallery gadfly, and someone who ended up with smart and strategic ways of appreciating art and purchasing it.

He’s a veritable encyclopedia of Who’s Who of the Oregon artworld.

It’s not so unusual Duane would have gained this proclivity for art appreciation and deep regard for art’s role in society as something bigger than commerce, industry and day-to-day drudgery of commercialism.

When he was a youngster, he studied guitar. He was good enough to end up switching over to classical guitar in the style of Andres Segovia. He’s taken a master class from the best – Christopher Parkening. That was 1975.

I knew I was going to have to take a vow of poverty if I was going to try and pursue being a musician.

Duane’s father was a union baker and not very involved in the boy’s life. For the just-turned-18-year-old Duane, his cohorts were going to be drafted but he was talked into enlisting. “A friend said the Navy, since it wasn’t the Army. Anything but the Army. But that was nuclear submarine duty and I was claustrophobic. There was no way I was going on a submarine.” Instead, he ended up in the Air Force. He even tried the conscientious objector route.

Military life was short-lived when he was drummed out as a 4-f. They found traces of codeine in his drug test. “Ironically, I had done all sorts of party drugs.” It wasn’t the LSD he dropped they discovered, but the codeine the psychedelic from which it was titrated.

Music Out, Optics In

If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.

Everything excellent is as difficult as it is rare.”

― Baruch Spinoza

He was homeless for a few months. Coming back from Lackland AFB, Duane ended up working with the crippled children’s division of OHSU. He took a second master guitar class at Berkeley. “I knew poverty was going to be a regular part of my life. I wasn’t that good. I took classes with trust fund babies. Money wasn’t an issue for them.”

Here’s where things really get prescient – “I had a poster of Picasso’s Old Guitarist on my apartment wall in Portland. I was studying with extraordinary musicians. I wasn’t about to spend 10 or 15 years in poverty.”

The Old Guitarist was painted in 1903, just after the suicide death of Picasso’s close friend, Casagemas. Picasso was deeply sympathetic to the plight of the disenfranchised and downtrodden. He painted many canvases depicting the poor, sick, and outcasts of society. In fact, Picasso was penniless during 1902.

It’s an amazing painting in the style of El Greco. That moment for Duane Snider turned into a life passion – sacrificing part of his soul in that daily grind in order to enter another world: one that was rarefied, filled with the passions and creativity of artists just like Pablo Picasso. Except his art ersatz it was Portland based.

When he returned from Berkeley, he ended up in a friend’s parents’ house. He applied to Portland Community College, talked to a counselor, told her he wanted to find a steady job, one that was reliable. “I wanted something recession and depression proof. Optician fit the bill.” He ended up taking psychology and philosophy classes awaiting the term to start for his major.

He grabbed a job at a lab his second term. He parlayed that into a full-time gig at Columbian Bifocal. The first 20 years it was a family run place, and the last 19 years it ended up as one of 17 labs for Hoya, a Japanese investment group.

Good benefits, steady work, and a bully boss. “We hated each other. It’s amazing I survived.”

He hands me a DVD of an Oregon Public Broadcasting special featuring Portland art collectors. Duane is profiled. He laughs, recalling how he had read about the great philosopher Spinoza’s life as a lens grinder. What was good for the father of rationalist and deductive reasoning had to be fine for Duane Snider’s life.

Not so ironically, the dust from lens grinding led to Spinoza’s early death from tuberculosis.

The amazing number of artists Duane has met propelled him to write essays on art for a local art rag – NW Drizzle. Here’s what he penned in 2005, as he emphasizes he was “just coming out of a four-year bout of suicidal depression.”

“When I gave up the guitar, I couldn’t give up my need for a place to put my passion. It seems natural that my passion migrated toward the visual arts. Giving up playing music meant letting go of a sizable part of what I thought was my identity. My search for a new sense of self played a major role in pushing me toward the idea of collecting.

That’s when I started learning that the real value of art is not determined by the price on the sticker, but by the strength of the connection between the viewer and the object of interest.”

Deeper Dive in the Mind of a Collector

Early-20th-century philosopher Irwin Edman gives a remarkably simple bit of insight into what art offers us in everyday life:

“Painters speak of dead spots in a painting: areas where the color is wan or uninteresting, or the forms irrelevant and cold. Life is full of dead spots. Art gives it life. A comprehensive art would render the whole of life alive.”

Duane Snider is the embodiment of turning life into his own art project:

“Instead of using pigments and a canvas to make an artwork, I told myself that I would turn my life into a conceptual art piece to create a lifestyle that’s sustainable and comfortable,” tells me twice: once on the beach on our first meeting in Waldport and then up at his new 1,900 square foot single level home.

The beauty of my own life-force is I get to get under people’s layers, follow the act of serendipity, and then sculpt with words conceptualized, philosophized narrative. Story.

In the middle of a beach with harbor seals sunning along their haul out on Bay Shore, two very different guys run into each other and start a deep conversation. I am a radical social worker and revolutionary writer (some couldn’t tell that from my regular gigs as a newspaper and magazine) and educator. Marxism is more than just a conceptual point in economic history for me.

Here is Duane Snider, saying he too is a Marxist, but emphasizing he was dealt a hand of capitalism’s cards, so he successfully learned to play the game within those constraints. He tells me he feels guilty for getting he and his wife Linda down here on the coast with zero debts and a custom home that is paid off.

I reassure him that he is kosher with me, and no one should begrudge he or his wife this little slice of paradise.

The dream in Waldport was germinated 36 years ago. They purchased a home in Portland (Richmond District) for $48,000. That was 1984. Thirty-two years later they pulled up stakes in Portland with a $517,000 sale price. No permanent lines of credit needed. He even got their nest egg out of the market and put into cash two years ago. “I saw this coming.”

He didn’t predict the SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreak, but he did see a faltering Stock Market.

“He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”

His tutelage in art began at a most unlikely place – Menucha which was an estate created by the Meiers of the Portland department store fame. Near Corbet in the Columbia Gorge, Menucha (Hebrew for rebuilding, restoring and renewing) hosted camps for youth.

According to the website: “In 1950, First Presbyterian Church of Portland purchased the property from the Meier family, who were pleased to see it dedicated as an ecumenical center, a gift in perpetuity to communities of people from around the world.”

Duane began collecting art before he ended up  buying the Portland house. The art bug drilled into his consciousness when in 1967 he went to a high school arts camp at Menucha. His parents always took off for Reno and Vegas during summer vacations, and they opted to put the young Duane in a summer camp.

That was serendipitous.  He told me that he had never been to an art gallery until after high school. He met Jackie West who ran Graystone Gallery in the Hawthorne District. “I went inside and I was looking around the half gallery/half store. It was an old house. Actually, it became part of the Oregon Potters Association. My eyes landed on this water color. It was as if time stopped.”

He ended up purchasing his first piece, a hyper-realistic water color of an iris by Kirk Lybecker.

Duane emails me a couple of his essays in NW Drizzle – “Embarking on a journey of discovery: The life-affirming qualities of art” & “Art’s true value: Aesthetics vs. commerce.” In his essays he reiterates how art came to save him and how collecting became a true emotional and spiritual line to the artist, to the art. Here is one  passage:

“The gallery from which I bought my first artwork made the sale because the gallery owner made an effort to make the pricing and sales process as transparent as possible. She gave me a short but thorough explanation on how galleries set prices. She explained that great art comes in all price ranges, as does mediocre art. That’s when I started learning that the real value of art is not determined by the price on the sticker, but by the strength of the connection between the viewer and the object of interest.”

He launches into several iterations of how art —  the actual object — is more than what it is in your hand or on the wall; that it is something that “holds great value for us as individuals and for all cultures of the world.”

Red is the Color of Egalitarianism

Duane and I talk about the friction and dichotomy  between the highfalutin rich “patron of the arts” and the middle-class view of art – we need the rich folks to support the arts, but we also need to invest in regular people getting original artwork in their homes. “Conceptually, I am a Marxist working in a capitalist system.”

That means he wishes our society from top to bottom was more egalitarian.

Duane Snider has no angst when it comes to what a thinker like Michael Parenti might say about capitalism: “It’s the powerful who write the laws of the world– and the powerful who ignore these laws when expediency dictates.”

We met the first time during a voluntary social distancing because of the cornonavirus, and then shortly afterward when the state of Oregon pushed more draconian measures to shut down business, interactions, meetings, and public gatherings.

Then we shift to all the artists he knows, has known and will know. He has over 200 works of art in his home, most of them on display. I had to look through some of the windows from the outside to view many fine works on the couple’s walls.

His goal is to have the collection donated to a non-profit like Art in Oregon, whose motto is “building bridges between artists and communities.” The engine there is to get businesses to purchase and show art, and for there to be that bridge between the artist and the community.

Duane is less an enigma than he is kind of Every-man. He puts on several hats – he knows most of the gallery owners in Portland, is friends with the director of the Portland Art Museum, spent time with Dennis Hopper and Danny Glover, and finds solace watching a warbler feed from his new backyard.

 “I connect with anyone who knows what arts is. We need to get young people into discovering our unique art. Unfortunately, unique objects are under threat in the digital age.”

He repeats how he played the hand that was dealt him. He came from a working-class family. He himself was poor and homeless for a time. He learned the value of art through “figuring out the game you have to play to survive, to be comfortable.”

No contradictions there, and Duane Snider would smile at one of Karl Marx’s doozies: “The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs.”

Q & A in a Nutshell

Paul: Why have the world’s super powers and despotic regimes always deployed the bombing of museums, cultural landmarks, and looting the arts and important symbols of a country’s artistic and historical (archaeological) output?

Duane: The easiest way to destroy a society or a culture is to destroy its art treasures.  When you take that away, you take away their history and sense of identity.  Also, historically, art has huge inherent value because of its ability to offer meaning to people beyond those of the culture that produced it. Also, unique and rare art objects that are considered beautiful and meaningful are valuable because they are rare or unique. 

Paul: Riff with this — “So here we are in the 21st century. The forward march of labour ended some time ago. How do today’s artists portray poverty? Interesting question – for perhaps wealth has never been more raw and obvious in the art world. This is the age of the diamond skull. Compared with the compassion of a Caravaggio or Van Gogh, contemporary art really does seem to take the rich collector’s view on life. Where’s our Luke Fildes? For images of economic injustice in today’s art you probably have to look outside the gallery world.”

Duane: In general, most artist don’t even address the issue in today’s market.  Social commentary is more aligned with journalism and documentary efforts.  Much of the art market doesn’t want art that shines a light on social inequities of the darker side of our culture.  There are huge exceptions of course in museum installations and high-end art by big named artists, and there is a lot of art that is beautiful, but not pretty that skirts around the big issues but doesn’t show up in fine art galleries.  Photography is the most common place to find imagery of social injustice because of the connection to journalism.  The sad fact is that most art is a commodity and with that comes the necessity for broad acceptance of work for it to be marketable.  How many Diego Rivera’s do you see out there these days?

Paul:. If you could do your youth and high school years over again, would you? Yes, why and how? No, why?

Duane: When I was in my forties and fifties, I wished I could have changed a few things, but now, not so much.  I suffered some in getting here, but it turned out well enough that there is little I am not grateful for, on a personal level.  I am comfortable and largely free of any feelings of guilt.  What should I change? I don’t know.

Paul: Tell the average consumer and retail-loving American why art is valuable to them and to our society especially now in 2020?

Duane: Art is one of the last places we have where we can freely explore our identities and the meaning of the lives we inhabit, where we can express ourselves in simply possessing and object or identifying with a performance experience.  Art offers insight into who we are, how we are unique, and what we believe in.  Art gives us context for understanding the content of our lives.  How do you put a dollar value on that?  For way too many Americans, money is what they look to for those answers.   What a shallow existence that is.

End Notes — I talk with Duane a lot, and I have met him a few times on the beaches near Waldport. He and I have this sort of “out on our own Covid-19” relationship. We talk long and hard about the failure of capitalism. The failure of Western nations to move aside and not only give back what they’ve stolen but for complete reparations.

The quandary is I work three gigs. I lost $39K in a measly retirement account because of the perverted whims of the masters of finance on Wall Street. That chunk is a huge push back on my life.

My spouse is out of work because of despicable management in her job that laughed at the idea of washing hands and who constantly berated my spouse, who is a professional with 20 years in her field.

We have tried for more than 8 weeks to get her unemployment — she’s worked like since she was 14 years old, paying into this muck. The state of Oregon is a joke. Those Zoom motherfucking meet-ups by politicians at the state level and locally are what I can only characterize as infantile, disconnected to real struggle, and bizarre.

Duane Snider won’t disagree, and he repeats how he feels guilty for setting himself up with a paid-for-home and some money in the bank and his social security, along with his wife’s.

I assure him that his sacrifice in life — working 39 years hating the job, hating himself for some of that time, and his deep depression larger issues with substance abuse, well, man, he respects artists, and he wants art to be shared by the masses.

He is quick to deride the “business of the art world,” where the artists are literally screwed and art is a trading commodity. He loves each piece he has, and we go over each one. He knows the artist for each piece and for those he purchased at openings, he spent time talking with each artist.

Pieces he bought in group shows, he went ahead an hunted down the artist. He touches the images with his vision, his heart and his intellect.

Capitalism destroys people, and sometimes eat eats at the soul and sets a course of disengagement, resentment and a dog-eat-dog retribution. It creates people who say, “I have mine, and screw everybody else.” It is a violent system — just the act of sending in Sheriff deputies to homes, parading the evicted and foreclosed upon citizens to the squad car, well, what sort of violence does that breed? What sort of lived and relived trauma will that have not only on the parents but the children?

That mentality is seeped in all of them at the proverbial top — Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Trump, Obama, the entire lot of them.

Imagine how many presidents have failed to pardon Leonard Peltier? Thinks of the structural violence of bailing out banks and Wall Street while taking SNAP away from families. Imagine a society where people have no health care, and the shit coverage they have is so violently mean and expensive, they opt not to go to the for-profit hell that is modern US medicine.

Duane is all there, in the fight in heart and mind. I see his artwork addiction has both magnificent and something deep inside, where he is finding some landing pad for his emotions, and all those years where he was about to jump off the Ross Island bridge.

I wonder if he’ll ever get that image from Portland — maybe I’ll head out from the coast to my old stomping grounds and shoot it and mess around in Photoshop and give it to him before more evolution unfolds in each other’s lives.

That’s communism — no expectations for the things given, and no bullshit competition to trade up whether it is material things or ideas and discourse.

Duane’s learned the lexicon of Marxism and has played his cards in a mean as cuss Capitalist system. I repeat that good commie’s love their wine, their music, food and art. Not as a bourgeoisie thing, but as a tribute to the enduring nature of struggle and persistence, even in the most horrific gulags and dungeons.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

It doesn’t take a lockdown to pull from some of us humanists the universality of how deep the emotional, cultural, societal, economic and spiritual divide is between the have’s and have’s not.

As we move from “top” to “bottom” in the daily stories of how these forced social distancing measures, draconian business closures, far-reaching travel bans and the like are affecting lives, we need to have more humanistic ways of parsing out the realities of the homeless, or in the case of people from Guatemala, the homelandless.

After tragedy, Oregon Christmas tree industry buoyed by bill | KOMO

There are many reasons Guatemalans have come to this county, crossing that borderline without the proper Gestapo paperwork and billets for the own lives.

The stem of the immigration tide to an area usually starts with one family or one group of cohorts ending up in a place like Newport and loving it as a new promise, a new start, maybe a new homeland. For a time, there were seasonal jobs in the fishing, hospitality and salal harvesting arenas.

Most Guatemalans get here with very little. Some have children in schools. Many do not speak Spanish, let alone English.

In many ways, coming from Huehuetenango and other places where violence is prolific,  Guatemalans thought they’d be happy with the chance “to make it” in the USA since back in their native land the per capita annual income for lower economic groups is  $1,619. Add to this challenge of more than two dozen Mayan languages spoken in that part of Mesoamerica and none spoken here.

A Tales of Two Cities, Many Cultures, Infinite Mentalities

For many, watching daily TV-YouTube-Facebook antics of Trump and Company, Hollywood perversions, other rich and famous, and  even run of the mill policy makers “deal” with their seclusion and isolation makes the blood boil. Lovely gardens, three triple-wide fridge/freezer combos full of Whole Foods delectables; manicured lawns for croquet surrounding terra cotta pools; superfood smoothies laced with plethora of vitamins and herbs; soaking in Clorox-laced bathtubs and tips on how to dose one’s body with ultraviolet showers.

As we go further and further down the food chain and feeding trough, one more week of lock-down can parlay into more than ennui and cabin fever: for millions, one more week is less food, more anxiety, fear of the unknown, downright depression and suicidal tendencies.

Being homeless in a Time of Covid highlights how unhealthy, psychologically-stressing, and legally-precarious these days are. There is no social distancing when six or seven people share a campfire, a can of beans and smokes.

Now imagine that homelessness is coupled with the state of being homelandness.

Lighting Up Latin America – Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Assn

“There should not be a question of legal or illegal immigration. People came and immigrated to this country from the time of the Indians. No one’s illegal. They should just be able to come.”

— Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt has come a long way from home | Music | tucson.com

Guatemalans might be staying four-families-to-a-beat-up-RV on the Oregon Coast, but not speaking English, appearing like “the other” and having not only no cash reserves but also zero confidence in accessing local (and governmental) food and financial aid add up to be literal hunger.

Social Justice Starts with Who You Associate With!

Ironically, I use singer Linda Ronstadt’s quote “declaring there are no illegal aliens” because after my family moved to the US from stints in the Azores, Germany, France and UK, we ended up in Tucon, Arizona of all places.

I learned how to make tamales and mole from aunts and cousins of Linda’s. She even swept into one of these kitchen forays and planted a kiss on my forehead. Que lindo. Un chico hippie blanco haciendo tamales con mis tías (How cute. A white hippy boy making tamales with my aunties.)

Her brother Peter was Tucson’s Police Chief when I was a reporter there and in southern Arizona. His policies were virtually hands-off on immigrants, with or without papers.

I’ve been on this battle line for social justice in Latin America since age 19, when I was active as a student journalist and activist against US military aid to El Salvador and Guatemala. Then, a few years later, I was working in Southern Arizona as a reporter for a small newspaper group owned by a family. The two dailies — Bisbee Review &  Sierra Vista Dispatch — and a few other weeklies were run by two quirky brothers. My stories often times were front page doozies.

It was a crazy time for a young newspaper journalist:  In the morning covering the Bisbee rose club, and then five hours later, on the scene covering the drug tunnel found connecting Agua Prieta with Douglas. Funky stories about fence-jumping turquoise pirates getting into abandoned mine shafts at the Copper Queen open pit, to covering one of the deepest exploratory oil wells our near Tombstone. Drug-running, gunrunning, and nuts and bolts county planning and zoning. I interviewed Jesse Jackson when he came out to our neck of the desert to help settle down the Cochise County Sheriff Department going after a group of African Americans they were serving papers on.

Google: The Miracle Valley shootout and a confrontation between members of the Christ Miracle Healing Center and Church (CMHCC) and Cochise County law enforcement and Miracle Valley, Arizona.

Kick-ass stuff for a reporter, having just gotten back from a year in Scotland and Europe, part of a trip to be a writer after spending four years at the University of Arizona, the college daily, and the school’s lab newspaper in Tombstone (The Epitaph).

Tombstone Epitaph Newspaper Building, 1927 | Special Collections

Just a few months after Europe, I was part of the newsgathering brethren penning these sorts of headlines: “Salvadorans Fight Over Urine . . .  14 Border Crossers Die in Arizona Desert, Organ Pipe National Monument.” 

That was July 5, 1980. I was 23 years old.

Crossing Borders, Crossing Philosophical Lines

I was in the thick of things journalistically, working with literally homeless-homelandless people, some individuals spending thousands of dollars to coyotes to get them across that bullshit borderline. Earlier, in my senior year of high school, I had met Chileans living in Tucson who were here through the good graces of activist miniseries. Because of these adults’ leftist college activities, union membership and outspoken positions against rightwing despotism and violence — the Pinochet years – many were imprisoned, and some lost loved ones and comrades to the general’s death squads.

Eventually, I ended up in the Highlands of Guatemala, and along the US-Guatemala border. More than 200,000 Guatemalans were murdered in the dirty wars, a system of genocide fed by the USA and its “foreign” policies and School of the Americas at Fort Benning.

Guatemala - Why Are So Many Guatemalans Migrating to the U.S. ...

Then, in El Paso two years later, I was a graduate student at the University, I worked with refugees at Ruben Garcia’s Annunciation House and wrote some stories for both the El Paso Times and the now defunct El Paso Herald-Post on the good work at Ruben’s sanctuary.

Ruben Garcia Opens The Door To Humanity | The City Magazine

I taught college classes in prisons and also part of a college program for children of migrant workers.

My tutelage in covering varying levels of homeless and homelandless was fast and furious!

Fast-forward, and I skim through many years in activism — revolutionary social work, education, environmental journalism, more. I worked with adults living with developmental disabilities for United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Washington and Oregon, with Foster Youth teens as case manager for Life Works NW, and with homeless veterans and their families for the Salvation Army.

Oh yeah, I was with Portland’s Big Kahuna of homeless and addiction services —  Central City Concern — as an employment counselor.

I was working with people I consider to be brothers/sisters/comrades – “detritus” the rich, the beautiful people, mainstream and even social services folk might call them. Or I’ve heard “the dregs of society,” “bottom of the barrel,” and from those a bit more evolved on the human scale, “those disenfranchised humans.”

In every case over the decades, I worked with people who either had no home (prison, transitional housing, foster homes are not homes) or who were looking for a better home than their dangerous and precarious situations beheld.

Many moons have passed, and, lo and behold, I have been on the Oregon Coast with my spouse since December 2018, after going toe-to-toe with the “Starvation Army” in Beaverton on some really corrupt leadership decisions and dangerous situations in which these poverty pimps put both the clients and staff.

One thing led to another. I was quickly working as a substitute K12 teacher in Lincoln County; I created my own column in the arts and entertainment rag, Oregon Coast Today; wote for the Newport News Times (now it’s pro bono because of dropped ad revenues); and, now, going on one year, manage for both Lincoln and Jefferson counties an anti-poverty program for Family Independence Initiative.

I am working with low income households in a state-supported social capital research project. Families or individuals living in Lincoln and Jefferson counties receive $840 each for a year to do monthly 10-minute “journaling.”

Guatemala - Why Are So Many Guatemalans Migrating to the U.S. ...

Love and Death in a Time of Panic-Demic!

Things have changed since the SARS-CV-2, as the non-profit I work for as a 1099 contractor is now distributing (and helping other non-profits distribute) $32 million in places like Chicago, Boston, Seattle and Detroit. These are cash assistance lump sums: so-called unconditional cash transfers. Starbucks a la Schulz has thrown in with a $500-per-person Covid fund ($6 million total) for King County; and other cities like Boston, Chicago and Detroit are having FII move millions of bucks for each household to receive a $2,400 cash transfer.

My months working with families, face to face, at various places like the housing authority’s Ocean Spray Family Center in Newport, and the libraries throughout the county, as well as Homeless Education Literacy Project, have put me front and center close to my roots in Mexico and Central America.

I have talked to many immigrants who have come from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

There is an underground labor network, shadow economy, cash under the table mode of work. There are people who are supporting Guatemalans with translators and help navigating the school systems for their children.

Chapina Express - Los Angeles Food Trucks - Roaming Hunger

Earth Day 2020 Zoomed

I am also involved in the American Cetacean Society and other movements in the county tied to Surfrider beach clean-ups and the legal process of banning aerial spraying of agent orange-like herbicides onto clear-cuts. I was asked to be a speaker on the Zoom Earth Day 2020, and in that planning, it was obvious to me I was back with what I term Greenie Weenies/Meanies.

I was told that “putting a downer” on the Zoom Earth Day event would be a no-no. This is the sort of group-think silliness and reckless false hope I have been dealing with since, err, I was 13 living in Paris with my mom and sister while my US Army old man was in Vietnam shooting brown people.

Then, a day after that April 22 event, I end up talking to Ginger Gouveia, who is working with Guatemalans, who are homeless and precarious, AND starving in Lincoln County. Thanks to the deadly combination of Obama-Trump-ICE-Racism-Lockdown.

This is really what ecological social justice is about. Nothing in the current mainstream and big green environmental movement in the USA gets the class divide, the power of poverty to tear at the soul of a country, the globe.

And to cut into our Guatemalan neighbors’ souls.

Trump threatens Guatemala after its court blocks asylum deal with ...

Here’s Ginger’s letter to me:

“I am writing to you as a member the group, Acompañar Relief Fund.  We are concerned citizens who are seeking donations on behalf of immigrants who have lost their jobs and do not qualify for any assistance.  All of whom have been hard working asylum seekers with families.  Our focus is on providing as many families as we can with some food assistance.

Since starting this fundraiser, we have been grateful for the generosity of our community, friends and families. The need is GREAT and our goal is to be able to include as many families as possible.  This population will not recover for many months and will not receive any financial assistance, no stimulus check and no unemployment. We are looking for ways to continue providing some support for as long as this financial disaster continues.

This week we were able to give $60, or gift cards, as well as rice and beans and some Masa to 20 families.  The families with the greatest need are being referred by agencies working with them.

Sincerely, Ginger Gouveia, Acompañar Coordinator”

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” – Karl Marx

Marx’s quote is taken out of context. He did see religion like opium which of course benefits for the sick and ailing —  it reduces people’s immediate suffering and provides them with pleasant illusions giving them the strength to carry on.

Almost all Guatemalans coming to USA, Oregon and Lincoln county place religion as both panacea and strength, community and spiritual sustenance.  In the past few years many unaccompanied minors and women with children from Central America have been crossing the border (at a rate of 180,000 per year). These are Mayans. Not the gringo Latin Americans. These are the Native Americans.

University of Oregon Professor Lynn Stephen has documented threats of violence, extortion, and torture against children and indigenous Guatemalan women whose husbands leave to go north:

“They’re leaving them in vulnerable, unprotected positions in communities. If you don’t have a male protector, women and children may become marks.”  Hundreds have ended up in Lane County and many others are in the Portland area.

Rising hate drives Latinos and immigrants into silence | Cronkite News

“This is when it’s most amazing when it’s young people who are 15, 16, 14, deciding on their own to leave. My youngest son is 16. I can’t imagine what it would be like for him to make the journey,” Stephen said.

These are cautious people, and the people working with refugees do not want to be named or identified in this anti-immigrant climate. 

Gangs in Guatemala keep tabs on the new arrivals: harassment and extortion are common for the families back home when the gangs find out money is being sent to Guatemala by those working and living in the US.

Living close by, worshiping together, and being part of the shadow economy is how Guatemalans in Oregon survive, and thrive. Forming their own churches and then creating that kind of community is commonplace.

Right now, in Lincoln County, there isn’t enough support coming in to support Guatemalans. Churches are asking for help, per Ginger’s plea for donations.

No proporciona ningun beneficio en EUA….

That was the public service announcement mantra under the Obama Administration – USA does not provide any benefits.

U.S. pressure on Mexico to interdict refugees was pulled back for a few years and so many refugee workers have seen a new wave of Central Americans coming to Oregon. Many of those that got political asylum are still in Oregon.

They set down roots, enroll kids in schools, become part of the fabric of our towns and cities. With the lockdown and pandemic hitting the world and here in Lincoln County, our Central American homelandless brothers and sisters are struggling. These are valuable humans on their own accord, but invaluable as part of our community.

A while back, I read a letter to the editor of the Newport News Times railing against Oregon Coast Community College nominating an undocumented as Student of the Year. He was Guatemalan. He spoke eloquently at the podium why he came here and how he wanted to better his life.

The letter writer bashed this young person’s character. He brought up the old canard of having no papers is breaking the law. He called it a slap in the face to all the students who go to the college who were here “legally.” He felt the Guatemalan college graduate should not have been recognized!

In the end, we all are so-called illegal aliens – those with no Native American roots. That includes all the slaves forcefully brought to these shores. All those Spanish, French, Portuguese, and English armies and any number of people who immigrated here, either with paperwork or without.

All uninvited guests with no preapproval and passports given to them by the great First Nations tribes.

No one asked the Confederated Tribes of Siletz if the pioneers could come rushing into Oregon to steal their ancestral land.

It is 2020, a year that beguiles us all. Certainly, many of us five decades ago had 2020 vision about what would happen under predatory-parasitic-casino-disaster-neoliberal-neocon capitalism.  Yet now, in this 21st Century, there is obvious myopia and, worse, enabled blindness when it comes to really deal with this pandemic fairly, justly: it takes a village, state and country to raise a community, and the same to deal with pandemics.

I learn everyday from Guatemalans, including one of the country’s poets.

First, here are some Guatemala proverbs that say it all in a few words each –

  • Better to eat beans in peace than to eat meat in distress.
  • Do not bear ill will toward those who tell you the truth.
  • Everyone is the age of their heart.
  • It’s not the fault of the parrot, but of the one who teaches him to talk.
  • There’s no ill that doesn’t turn out for the better.
  • Your true enemy lives in your own house.

Better yet, a poem by Guatemala’s most famous poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1967: Miguel Angel Asturias. According to The Review of Contemporary Fiction, “Asturia was a man who believed deeply in maintaining Native American culture in Guatemala, and who championed those who were persecuted. His literature was critically acclaimed, but perhaps not always appreciated. As an artist, his complexity is such that readers and critics often shy away from his elegant beauty.

Caudal (The Fortune)

To give is to love,

To give prodigiously:

For every drop of water

To return a torrent.

We were made that way,

Made to scatter

Seeds in the furrow

And stars in the ocean.

Woe to him, Lord,

who doesn’t exhaust his supply,

And, on returning, tells you:

“Like an empty satchel

Is my heart.”

Miguel Ángel Asturias - Pueblo e Historia de Guatemala

Monkey Planet: Moore Misses the Message of the Book

criticism of the documentary, Planet of the Humans

by Paul Haeder / April 27th, 2020

The chief causes of the environmental destruction that faces us today are not biological, or the product of individual human choice. They are social and historical, rooted in the productive relations, technological imperatives, and historically conditioned demographic trends that characterize the dominant social system. Hence, what is ignored or downplayed in most proposals to remedy the environmental crisis is the most critical challenge of all: the need to transform the major social bases of environmental degradation, and not simply to tinker with its minor technical bases. As long as prevailing social relations remain unquestioned, those who are concerned about what is happening are left with few visible avenues for environmental action other than purely personal commitments to recycling and green shopping, socially untenable choices between jobs and the environment, or broad appeals to corporations, political policy-makers, and the scientific establishment–the very interests most responsible for the current ecological mess.


― John Bellamy Foster, The Vulnerable Planet: A Short Economic History of the Environment

I am getting plethora of greenie weenies or others imploring me to watch the the Michael Moore executive produced Planet of the Humans. “You have to watch it. We are screwed. Oh my god. I never knew all this stuff about 350.org.”  It was directed, filmed (partly), edited and written by Jeff Gibbs.

In so many ways, it is a derivative flick, a coming to Jesus moment (several hiccups) by Gibbs. This is not good film making (the music is dull, and in some parts, downright spacey) and not good writing. But, on the heels of Trump, Obama, the green porn movement, the fake New Green Deal by AOC, Sanders and other sheepdogs (not the true ecosocialist New Green Deal – by a long shot), and the Spring Break Congress, and the totality of perversions that embodies the political/K-Street/Military/AI/Finance-Investor Class (sic), anything goes, I suppose, to go after the money factories that fuel the so-called American environmental movement.  [Louis Proyect’s look at the two new green deals from AOC/Sanders, and that from Howie Hawkins and Ecosocialists. Proyect writes a blog, The Unrepentant Marxist and also administers the Marxmail discussion list.

Reading decent stuff on the various social-indigenous-cultural-ecological heroes, and reading good poetry, philosophy, fiction, well, a million times more impacting for some of us than a thousand documentaries, most of which are in the can, out the window, in the news, on the talk shows, at the film festivals, and, then, a thousand more documentaries in the making.

Munduruku people hold signs with slogans like “Dam Kills!” during a protest of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in front of the Ministry of Mines and Energy in Brasilia, Brazil, on 11 June 2013. Munduruku and other indigenous Brazilian people are protesting the dam, currently under construction, which will disrupt their way of living through deforestation and flooding, as well as attacks against and murders of natives by construction workers and loggers. Credit: EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images

Social change (the good kind, not the Inconvenient Truth or Waiting for Superman kind) will not happen on Netflix, in the cyber world of YouTube, or managed by wannabe filmmakers.

I am also having a bit of acid reflux digesting this flick, The Planet of the Humans, in a time of SARS-COV-2 lock-down (that’s a prison term folks) and a time of compliant humanity sticking to the mainstream science view of coronavirus.

Pay for success finance deals will be well served by the global vaccine market that is being advanced through Gates’s outfit GAVI. Vaccine doses are readily quantifiable, and the economic costs of many illnesses are straightforward to calculate. With a few strategic grants awarded to prestigious universities and think tanks, I anticipate suitable equations framing out a healthy ROI (return on investment) will be devised to meet global market demands shortly.

Hello everyone. Welcome to “Many Waves, One Ocean Cross Movement Summit.” I’m Alison McDowell, a mom and independent researcher in Philadelphia who blogs at wrenchinthegears.com. I started my activism around public education, first fighting standardized testing, then ed-tech, and eventually realized the push by global finance to turn everything into data for the purpose of digital surveillance and profit meant I had to expand my work beyond schools and start digging into the global poverty management complex.

I organize with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, an independent anti-poverty group that is led by the poor and does not take corporate or foundation money. We’ll be marching on the Democratic National Convention on July 13 to take back the 67 cents of every government dollar spent on war and occupation. We are demanding it be used care for the poor here at home. Check us out and consider joining us in the streets of Milwaukee!

People have been led to believe the purpose of these goals is to address poverty and avert climate catastrophe. As a mother who lives in a city of deep poverty and who works at a public garden, I believe those are admirable goals. It is imperative that we address wealth inequality and begin to heal our planet.

But as a mother who has been researching innovative finance, emerging technologies, and racialized power, I also know there is more to the story than is being told in the media. And so today I will outline how powerful interests are using the Sustainable Development Goals to mask their plans to remake the world as a digital panopticon. What follows is a story of social entrepreneurship, greed, and technological authoritarianism. Its foundations are built on our nation’s history of racial capitalism, eugenics, and the rise of technocracy.
— Vaccines, Blockchain and Bio-capitalism

Nathalie Butt and her team found a significant correlation between the number of environmental defenders killed in a country and the country’s levels of corruption, civil and criminal justice, fundamental rights, and government control. More environmentalists were killed (larger circles) in countries with lower rule of law (ROL) scores (lighter blue). Credit: Nathalie Butt

Map of the world with countries shaded in blue and red circles overlaid

A little hard to stomach this new flick, Planet of the Humans, as I am out of work on two of my gig jobs, and the other job is about getting cash assistance to households where I am best face to face with them, but alas, this hysteria, this complete breakdown of common sense and urgency for just decent masks and gloves (free of course), has caused the healthy to be lock-downed. Police state? You betcha. Surfers are getting tickets for surfing on our beaches.

Daily, the human toll of this lock-down stupidity in Oregon is real. Yet, like compliant children, the greenie types, the so-called environmental movement types, and the pro-science-is-our-savior liberal types will not stand for any challenge to their narrative – we must lock-down until 2022, according to Harvard scientists. So, the democratic governor, Kate Brown, implores us to lock-down, threatens us with tickets, and, oh, 84,000 new unemployment claims in the state, and I am not getting through that bureaucracy, too stupid to not-fail!  No dole for me and thousands of others.

Deaths by the millions in the coming months with this lock-down — globally. Not from the novel most-probably weaponized or at least messed-with bat virus, but from poverty, starvation, and lack of medical care for all the other illnesses and diseases and ailments hitting humankind.

In poor countries? The toll is never on the forefront of the greenie weenies’ minds. Covid-19 and our disappearing civil liberties and privacy rights

Nor is the toll on Gibbs’ mind in this flimsy flick. And don’t get me wrong — there is obvious issues with solar panels, wind turbines, and biomass. However, passive solar and convection solar on roofs throughout the sunny places, good. Biointensive ag, good. Communism as we see in Cuba (even under the pressures of USA’s perversion of war capitalism and all the other casino-parasitic-disaster-predatory capitalism hegemony), GOOD. The entire “green” movement with the billionaires and the others at the helm, Bad. And, yes, after this YouTube flick hit the airwaves, the sons of bitches just went gaga over it, and that too is a separate essay —

The climate disinformation machine was also making a lot of noise about it. Breitbart’s climate denial columnist called Planets of the Humans “the most powerful, brutally honest and important documentary of [Michael Moore’s] career.” The coal- and Koch-backed Heartland Institute released an hour-long podcast praising it on Friday. And the fossil fuel industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute is begging people to “Hurry, [and] see Planet of the Humans before it’s banned.” — Emily Atkin, Heated blog

This shit is bad, really. More the multi-millionaire, the slob, and now this dude Gibbs with his YouTube shit (again, stretching all boundaries — this is not a film, not a documentary, not anything but, an attack on who? Capitalists? Chevy Volt? The Solar Power engineers? Duh, no solutions will come from digital slide rules and buttoned down technologists and the like. So, with his goofy “bombshell,” will Gibbs be coming out ASAP with attacks on the Kochs, Citizens United, Capitalism, and the rest of these freaks — competitive enterprise institute? I doubt it, so, maybe a little Trojan Horse here to give these felons and murderers in the billionaire class and the extraction industry class another leaping off point to attack land defenders, wipe out the majority of people (of color) on planet earth who want not only the brakes put on the despotic regimes working to steal their land-water-minerals-fossil fuel-forests-water-crops, but to colonize their bodies with forced vaccinations and indentured servantry.

A large group of protesters approach a police barricade in India
On 22 May 2018, a group of roughly 20,000 environmental protesters marched toward a Sterlite Copper mining plant in Tamil Nadu in southern India. The plant was linked to soil, water, and air pollution in the area. State police killed 13 protesters in what was the largest massacre of environmental defenders in 2018. Credit: Mksr2020, CC BY-SA 4.0

Back to reality in my neck of the woods:

We have some Guatemalans up here on the Oregon Coast. Workers. Families. Some are not literate in English or Spanish. No more hotel cleaning gigs, dishwasher gigs, working in the forest collecting salal gigs.

These families are afraid to go to the food banks (big, gangly and some mean-looking white folks there collecting and handing out food) and afraid of any social services agencies. You know, deportation, put in lock-down in containment dog kennels a la ICE. Now that’s a fun prospect for a bioweaponized or laboratory-induced  novel coronavirus.

Some of have been yelled at by our fine upstanding white original illegal aliens: “Chinks … you brought this corona over to us. What are you still doing here?”

These are Guatemalans!

The Wrong Sort of Green, is also the wrong sort of agriculture, and the wrong kind of medicine, wrong kind of education, wrong kind of law, wrong kind of computing, wrong kind of carceral state, wrong kind of, well, you get the picture. It’s all wrong because of capitalism. Yet, this movie goes right to us, the rest of the world included, as a cancer. As over-consuming, over-populating, over-reaching, you know, the Population Bomb language of “sterilize the masses” folk.

Bad, bad, bad. Crackpot, crackpot, crackpot.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Or dangerous, dangerous, dangerous.

These are nice words for this superficial, sound-bite, dumb-downing thing of a movie.

On the 50th earth day anniversary we get to view it. It might get some stuff right – the fake green-renewable movement, but it gets the major stuff wrong: Capitalism has run amok, not the other way around. The hordes have not run amok against the good of capitalism, but have been colonized, co-opted, delegitimized, stolen from, used as a large populace of Guinea pigs for the economic syphilis that is Capitalism.

And the underlying message is population control. They great white hope of Michael Moore and I guess Jeff Gibbs is really the underpinning of the flick – and no credence is given to the millions upon millions of people fighting this bastardization of humanity, of life, called Western Capitalism. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of groups that Gibbs could have put front and center who are local, indigenous, part of the peasant movement, others, who are real forest protectors and water protectors and life protectors.

Making fun of the alternative energy folk is like shooting fish in a barrel. And, the underlying message, the grace note here, is that because all humans and cultures are alike (NOT) we as one species (debatable) are a cancer, all in it for me-myself-and-I. Just way too many of us.

Just the way this flick opens up says it all. The documentary poses the stupid question: How much time do you think the human race has? You know, man-woman-child person on the street quippy takes.

Gibbs is at a solar festival (in the beginning, and then at the end of this flick) and makes fun of the band not getting the solar energy power when the clouds open and rain shuts down this system and they have to go back to the electrical grid.

Jump to Obama and Van Jones and Al Gore. To the white race, Richard Branson. Then 60 Minutes is clipped in. Have we been here before with this sort of documentary making? Come on, do I have to list the other hundreds of documentaries that follow this script?

Then onto Michael Bloomberg. Sierra Club. Bill 350.org McKibben. Segue to “making fun” of the Chevy Volt, electric cars, wind turbines, biomass, etc.

All of this has been exposed years ago (2001), a la Cory Morningstar (2018):

Throughout history, greed has proven to be lethal. Greed and justice cannot co-exist.

The premise that “greed can save us” is void of all ethics. It stems from either desperation or denial, or perhaps both combined.

Perhaps McKibben’s 350.org/1Sky partner – Climate Solutions (who McKibben praised/promoted in a recent article) – will soon see their wish list of “sustainable aviation,” biofuels and carbon offsets morph into a global reality. 350.org/1Sky partner Climate Solutions was a key player in the creation of 1Sky – an incubator project of the Rockefellers, who are pushing/funding REDD (the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program) and many other false solutions that ensure power and monetary wealth remain exactly where it is – in the hands of the few.

Of course, James Hansen’s magic wand (which Hansen himself sometimes refers to) will be most imperative for such false solutions to succeed in cooling the planet and stopping the eradication of most life on Earth.

Do we reject biofuels, carbon offsets, the greenwash and delusional concepts like “sustainable aviation”? Or do we reject these false solutions only when promoted directly by industry and government? If we do reject false solutions outright, why do those who claim to seek climate justice turn a blind eye when our “friends” and “partners” support these false solutions that we must fight against?
— Why I Refuse To Promote Bill McKibben

Wouldn’t it be nice to see the warriors in this Gibbs’ frame: How many indigenous people have been murdered in the past 20 minutes? Land defenders. The people of the earth who are less than 7 percent of the population but are in 80 percent of the jungles and rain-forests and mangroves, deltas, islands.

So, this fellow, Gibbs, in 2020 when this documentary was released, came to the conclusion recently that the green energy revolution isn’t going to work? Really? This has been posited for more than 20 years easily.

Twenty five minutes into this sad sack of a movie and it’s whites, man, mostly males (one female anthropologist), and it’s just more declaiming the green energy folk – and no one ever in the ecosocialist movement saw solar panels and wind turbines and ethanol as green or efficient or, hmm, localized and social just. But you think an ecosocialist is interviewed? Nope!

After 30 minutes in, no great people who have studied, looked at and been on the front lines of the biggest elephant in the room: “It is easier to see a world without people than without capitalism.”

Fredric Jameson’s famous quote, “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism,”  should have been posited at the top of the documentary.

Do you believe there can be a better world, localized, scaled down, tied to human rights and indigenous wisdom than a world without consumerism, capitalism?

Or, better yet, the questions –

What is parasitic capitalism? What is predatory capitalism? What is disaster capitalism? What is casino capitalism?

Then, sure, another question:

What is the cost to humanity, to those billions in the world not part of the Western White Tradition of Neoliberalism-Neoconservativism-Colonialism-Slavery, that the military industrial complex unleashes to the world?

Nah. This is just a gotcha sort of film  – at least it is as I am concurrently listening and watching it while also writing this critique. Okay,  42 minutes in, and one lone voice thus far, Richard Heinberg, who I interviewed 14 years ago on my radio show in Spokane, is briefly interviewed. Sound bite. His book, Peak Everything is pretty self-explanatory. He doesn’t tap into the civil society, to peasant and agrarian movements. He just tells us later on he goes to bed frightened, scared.

Whew. Peak Humanity psychosis!

That slogan captures about how Western thinking can imagine a world without humans before they can fathom any world without capitalism.  And, to be fair, the masters of the universe hope for more AI, more ways to make humanity useless, more ways to kill work, kill human learning and sharing. A world without the majority of the people AND WITH surveillance and AI-Crypto Capitalism. There you go!

What is “capitalist realism? The almost global sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it. Most of the billionaire class, most of the millionaire class, most of the people who believe in capitalism, capitalism lite, capitalism with a green smile, they are prepared for their world without people – Bill Gates and his cronies, setting the globe with his vision of massive sterilization and massive, err, vaccinations.

At minute 46, Planet of the Humans has given us more white guys and one white female anthropologist saying there is “not enough for the world,” for those billions outside this white great white way.

Looking at the numbers – and they are terrified, in Gibbs’ rendition, that the world is at 7.4 billion people, and it took hundreds of thousands of years for Homo sapiens to hit 750 million – this is the movement. Computer modeling, projections, Dystopia, but never-ever a clear-eyed look at the reason for malnourishment and disease and suffering – the few haves and the lots of haves not.  An honest look at this would really get to the cutting-edge thinkers here – just the bloody neo-tribal writer, Daniel Quinn, looks at leaver and giver society in his books featuring an ESP-abled gorilla named Ishmael.

I’m already into the flick less than an hour, and Gibbs is seeking mental health help. Climate change trauma, analysis paralysis, something. He brings in another great voice of psychology, some social psychology professor, at Skidmore College. Gibbs sets it up – The republican side believes there is an endless supply of fossil fuels, and OUR side believes the world will be saved with solar panels. Why is that?

This is it, man, them – the GOP and industrialists and Trump and Tea Party and Neo-Nazis – and us – the other side, wanting green energy and technology to get us off fossil fuel and climate change. Bingo. This is such a silly adventure in one man’s sad fear of himself – Jeff Gibbs (where’s millionaire, Hillary-adoring, the Russians are Coming, Holly-dirt Michael Moore, man, when we need a really foolish guy for a heck of a lot of laughs?). Professor Sheldon Solomon believes that people are just biotic life. That is the key to these guy’s thought process saying we as a species (all of us) have a disbelief in mortality, that this can’t be, so we just keep on with our suicidal behavior.

Jameson’s quote is often used to show how capitalism has limited the horizons of our imagination.

We don’t think of civilization as indestructible, but we do seem to think of the free market as indestructible. This, it is sometimes said, is the result of neoliberalism: as both traditionally left-wing and traditionally right-wing parties in Western countries developed a consensus that markets were the only way forward (“there is no alternative”), more and more people came to hold narrower and narrower views of the possibilities for human society. Being on the right meant “believing in free markets and some kind of nationalism or social conservatism” while being liberal meant “believing in free markets but being progressive on issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation.” Questions like “how do we develop a feasible alternative to capitalism?” were off the table; the only reasonable question about political intervention in the economy became: “should we regulate markets a little bit, or not at all? – “The left should embrace both pragmatism and utopianism” — Nathan J. Robinson

It as if this Jeff Gibbs just came out from a deep hole – I have been teaching this shit for more than two decades; showing students this embedded energy truth, this lifetime/life-cycle analysis of products, , this green washing PR job, this green porn marketing bait and switch. Poverty pimping, man, and Green is the New Black. It’s still pimping and prostitution at a very high price.

You give the capitalists, the military industrial complex purveyors, the multimillionaires like that piece of political dung Al Gore the microphone, and then you give the billionaire class, the BlackRock class, the IMF, the forced vaccination and eugenics masters the microphone, or Clinton, Hollywood, and the Massive Messed up Mainstream Media any benefit of the doubt, and here we are.

All those white male/ white female people featured on this Planet of the Humans in the end are talking about population control, and, shoot, that says it all, now does it not?

Now, finally, a real person, a real human, Vandana Shiva, comes onto Gibbs’ stage 1:09 hours into the flick – where she gets to give a micro dose of a rejecting biomass and biofuels, emphasizing how the biggest crisis of our times is shifting our minds to give power to illusions – green capitalism – replacing fossil fuels to this so-called renewable biomass energy production, which is green capitalism, which is green pornography. She gets about 20 seconds of air time. That’s it!

“Her honesty was refreshing.” That’s it for Gibb’s commentary on Shiva, caught on camera at some Earth Day event. This is Vandana Shiva, academic, scientist, humanist and leader in fighting for billions of people subjected to the GMO lies. A warrior against toxins. If that isn’t patriarchy and patronizing and, well, malarkey, the white man doing the white people’s film song and dance, then I do not know what is.

I’ll quote Shiva here:

The “green economy” agenda being pushed in the run-up to Rio+20, or the Earth Summit, to be held in June, could well become the blueprint for the biggest resource grab in history, with corporations appropriating the planet’s green wealth and biodiversity. These corporations will take our green wealth to make “green oil” for biofuels, energy, plastics, chemicals — everything that the petrochemical era based on fossil fuels gave us. Movements worldwide have started to say no to the “green economy” of the “one per cent”, because an ecological adjustment is possible and it is taking place. This adjustment involves seeing ourselves as part of the fragile ecological web, not outside and above it, and immune from the consequences of our actions.

Ecological adjustment also implies that we see ourselves as members of the earth’s community, sharing its resources equitably with all species and within the human community. Ecological adjustment requires an end to resource grab and privatisation of our land, biodiversity, seeds, water and atmosphere. It requires the recovery of the commons and the creation of “earth democracy”.

The dominant economic model based on resource monopolies and oligarchy is in conflict not just with ecological limits of the planet but also with the basic principles of democracy. The adjustment being dictated by the oligarchy will further strangle democracy and people’s freedom of choice. Sunil Bharti Mittal, one of India’s industry captains, recently said that “politics is hurting the economy and the country”. His observation reflects the mindset of the oligarchy, that democracy can be done away with.   Green Greed – Seeds of Injustice, By Vandana Shiva

So, Gibbs goes back to gotcha land – exposing the hypocrisy and duplicity of Richard Branson, the Al Gores, then Michael Bloomberg. No thanks. Not worth my time. More flashy nothing. We know Greta T. and Bill M. and Naomi  K. are all false gods, the wrong kind of green.

Cory Morningstar, Wrong Kind of Green, is a warrior for social justice, ecological justice, for a sane look at how these greenies continue to cite “it’s a global overpopulation problem” causing climate change and ecosystems collapses.  She just posted the Planet of the Humans on her website. However, this is her caveat –

WKOG caveat: Industrial civilization is destroying all life on Earth. Human destruction of biodiversity is not created equally: “Yet tribal peoples are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world, and 80% of our planet’s biodiversity is found in tribal territories.” [Further reading: The best conservationists made our environment and can save it, Stephen Corry  ] Human population is often identified as a problem because it strains the world’s resources and pollutes. [1] The first and most efficient way to address over consumption is to reduce consumption in the North is to a) redistribute the resources, (all arable land, etc.) to the Global South, to sustain those in the Global South, and b) phase out the production of all superfluous consumer products that harm life and biodiversity. [Further reading: Too Many Africans?, July 11, 2019   An analysis of population growth that accounts for the vast differences in consumption across class and region is critical in examining the worldwide environmental crisis

Let’s look at that class divide:

The top 8.5 per cent of the people own over 83 per cent of global wealth, whereas the share of the bottom 70 per cent is barely 3 per cent. The top of the pyramid is even steeper – the net worth of the top 200 wealthiest individual (at $2.7 trillion)69 is the same as that of the bottom 3.2 billion people or half the population of the whole world! Significantly these wealthiest individuals of the world were able to increase their wealth in spite of the financial crisis. According to a recent Oxfam report, in spite of a global reduction of wealth the top 100 billionaires have been able to increase their wealth by 240 billion dollars in 2012.70 These super rich, incidentally, also include individuals who have been lobbying for reduction and control of third world population and funding major programmes towards it. The state policies and the policies of international bodies seem to be aligned with the interests of the rich and powerful. These Ultra High Net worth (UHNW) also wield immense political power.

Read Cory’s work, Whitney Webb’s work, Wrench in the gears, Caitlin Johnstone —

Best yet, listen to Vandana Shiva again. This is the stuff that matters now, not a cataloging of the bad green movement, the shilling of wind farms and solar arrays and biofuels. All of this, like fossil fuels and wars and everything else that is externalized because of capitalism, all of this is subsidized by our capital, our taxes, our lives, our labor. That sports stadium? Simple thing, man. Chavez Canyon, a great working community in LA, was destroyed because the New York Dodgers moved to LA. Chavez Canyon was a place where Mexicans lived, creating their own community, their own social capital, their own roads and support systems. But the city gave the Dodgers the key to the city, gave them everything. The payoff? It’s all about the game, man. Low wage jobs, parking lots, traffic, and obscene profits to pajama-clad players and their masters – the owners and managers and collective investors.

Take it up a notch or two – the Mississippi is polluted and toxified because of industrial farming. The delta in Louisiana is polluted, and that plume of toxins goes out hundreds of miles into the Gulf of Mexico. The shrimp are polluted, all the life is polluted. Those Iowa corn syrup farmers and soy feed tenders, well, think of the warnings – “If pregnant (or wanting to be) don’t drink the well water. Don’t live on a farm. Stay away from the crop dusters. Be prepared to bury your family members who stay as they drop lie flies from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, diabetes, heart anomalies, cancers and more. The gift that keeps on giving – pesticides, fertilizers, fumigants, vast piles and huge ponds and polluted rivers of blood, entrails, crap from industrial animal feeding, growing, butchering operations.

The multiple crises of climate insecurity, energy insecurity, and food insecurity create an imperative and an opportunity to transcend the limits of the mechanistic-industrial-capitalist paradigm that has been systematically shrinking our potential even as it peddles progress.

The paths out from this crisis are not being blazed in the boardrooms of the global corporations who dominate our world today and are largely responsible for crimes against nature and humanity. Industrialization of food and agriculture has put the human species on a slippery slope of self-destruction and self-annihilation. The movement for biodiverse, ecological, and local food systems simultaneously addresses the crises of climate, energy, and food. Above all, it brings people back into agriculture and reclaims food as nourishment and the most basic source of energy. New ways of thinking and acting, of being and doing, are evolving from the creative alternatives being employed in small communities, on farms, and in cities.

It is this renewable energy of ecology and sharing, of solidarity and compassion, that we need to generate and multiply to counter the destructive energy of greed that is creating scarcity at every level – scarcity of work, scarcity of happiness, scarcity of security, scarcity of freedom, and even scarcity of the future.

Climate chaos, brutal economic inequality, and social disintegration are jointly pushing human communities to the brink. We can either let the processes of destruction, disintegration, and extermination continue unchallenged, or we can unleash our creative energies to make systemic change and reclaim our future as a species, as part of the earth family. We can either keep sleepwalking to extinction or wake up to the potential of the planet and ourselves.  — Vandana Shiva 

We’ve been here before with Naomi Klein, with Al Gore, with DiCaprio, with Ted Danson, Daryl Hannah, the rest of the goofballs. Gibbs is not really doing much new here, really – The Wrong Kind of Green has been extrapolated and parsed for decades, and for him to waste this opportunity to go for the actual jugular of the cause – capitalism, western dominance in banking, structural adjustments, austerity, structural violence, economic hits, more – delegitimizes his whole thesis.

But there are also other social forces engaged in the process of resistance to the capitalist onslaught on the environment: for instance, the indigenous communities. This is another very important contribution of this book: to show that indigenous communities—direct victims of the capitalist plunder, a global assault on their livelihoods—have become the vanguard of the ecosocialist movement. In their actions, such as the Standing Rock resistance to the XXL Pipeline, and in their reflections—such as their Declaration at the World Social Forum of Belem in 2009—“they express, more completely than any other group, the common survival interest of humanity.” Of course, the urban population of modern cities cannot live like the indigenous, but they have much to learn from them.

Ecological struggles offer a unifying theme around which various oppressed constituencies could come together. And there are signs of hope in the United States, in the vast upsurge of resistance against a particularly toxic racist, misogynist and anti-ecological power elite, and in the growing interest, among young people and African Americans, in socialism. But a political revolutionary force, able to unify all constituencies and movements against the system is still lacking. Review by Michael Löwy, “From Marx to Ecosocialism” if the book Red-Green Revolution: The Politics and Technology of Ecosocialism by Victor Wallis

Alas, the best way to end the pain, to stop the rabid raccoon, I suppose, is to euthanize it. So much is wrong with Gibbs’ take on this eco-challenge. He is late out of the gate when looking at the life-cycle analysis of solar, wind and biomass. He is coming out of a deep long sleep? The documentary is not compelling. The executive producer, Michael Moore, is highly problematic. He is a capitalist, a millionaire, part of  celebrity culture, and he is part of the problem not the solution.

It all rides on the back of the minister, Thomas Malthus, in his 1798 essay on population.

Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.

For Gibbs and the others he decries in the greenie weenie controlled opposition movement, they see the enemy is us, the people, or those with lesser pedigrees and more melanin. Why not just go after capitalism, and the inverted totalitarianism of Corpocracy. What about those corporations, that sticky class exploitation, how industry is set forth, and what about war? Gibbs blames all the people.

Oh, well, so many will tell me, “Paul, why don’t you write, film, edit, produce your own goddamned movie”? Sure enough, uh? I normally would not go to a movie like this, or get it from the Internet. I was only prompted by the number of emails from friends and acquaintances who just had to tell me to see this Anti-Earth Day flick. I didn’t learn anything from it substantive-wise, but I am wondering what the bearing witness for newbies to this green washing/green pornography will do with all this information about how bad solar and wind are. How bad the green groups are. How big the billions are that fund the controlled opposition and the narrative. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you? We all are colonized? We all live in the matrix? We are all co-opted by capital?

In the end the movie is more than benign. It fools us, the viewer, into a false solution, false narrative, and false causation. But my time is up, and totally bored with the concept behind this movie and how it now is generating this hoary call for, what, to watch the bloody movie? The real heroes are dying in their jungles and forests. From coffee to copper, from bananas to bitumen, from rubber to rhinos, the rapacious Western World is eating future generations from the inside out.

People just want their forty acres and a mule. Their cooperative farms. They water and their soil. They want a few light bulbs. They want their great grandchildren’s lives back. They are done with the great white hope, the saviors, the industrialists and the investors (sic).

Outbreak zones meanwhile are no longer even organized under traditional polities. Unequal ecological exchange—redirecting the worst damage from industrial agriculture to the Global South—has moved out of solely stripping localities of resources by state-led imperialism and into new complexes across scale and commodity. Agribusiness is reconfiguring their extractivist operations into spatially discontinuous networks across territories of differing scales. A series of multinational-based “Soybean Republics,” for instance, now range across Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. The new geography is embodied by changes in company management structure, capitalization, subcontracting, supply chain substitutions, leasing, and transnational land pooling. In straddling national borders, these “commodity countries,” flexibly embedded across ecologies and political borders, are producing new epidemiologies along the way.

For instance, despite a general shift in population from commoditized rural areas to urban slums that continues today across the globe, the rural-urban divide driving much of the discussion around disease emergence misses rural-destined labor and the rapid growth of rural towns into periurban desakotas (city villages) or zwischenstadt (in-between cities). Mike Davis and others have identified how these newly urbanizing landscapes act as both local markets and regional hubs for global agricultural commodities passing through.36 Some such regions have even gone “post-agricultural.”37 As a result, forest disease dynamics, the pathogens’ primeval sources, are no longer constrained to the hinterlands alone. Their associated epidemiologies have themselves turned relational, felt across time and space. A SARS can suddenly find itself spilling over into humans in the big city only a few days out of its bat cave. — COVID-19 and Circuits of Capital by Rob Wallace, Alex Liebman, Luis Fernando Chaves and Rodrick Wallace

Emerging from one of the most generative collaborations in the ecosocialist tradition, this collection of essays by John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark represents a critical step forward in theoretical development and recovery, with immediate relevance to contemporary political movements and debates. Foster and Clark beautifully reveal the power of historical materialism to lay bare the connection between ecological degradation, speciesism, and social domination, and therefore the necessity of a struggle that does not artificially isolate in theory and practice what is joined in reality. This is a book for serious activists seeking to understand the world in order to change all of it that needs changing, so that every living being on earth may not only survive, but finally, be free. —Hannah Holleman, author of Dust Bowls of Empire: Imperialism, Environmental Politics, and the Injustice of “Green” Capitalism

Long recognized as leading theorists of ecomarxism, Bellamy Foster and Clark here extend their “metabolic rift” paradigm to an impressive range of issues, including gender, food, British eco-imperialism in Ireland, “alienated speciesism,” the theory of value, and the meaning of work. The result is a powerful case that capitalism is inextricably bound up with the robbery of nature and constitutes the paramount obstacle to life on Earth as we know it. —Nancy Fraser, New School for Social Research; author, Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis

Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (1963) concerns  a group of astronauts, including journalist Ulysse Merou, and their voyage to a planet in the star system of Betelgeuse (the year is 2500). They land to discover a world where intelligent apes are the Master Race and humans are savages: caged in zoos, used in laboratory experiments and hunted for sport. The story of Ulysse’s capture and his subsequent struggle to survive, and then the climax as he returns to Earth and a horrific final discovery is gripping and fantastic. Yet the novel is also a subtle parable on science, evolution, and the relationship between man and animals. Again, the master race theme is part of Boulle’s own background in the secret service fighting against the Axis powers in WW II as part of the Free French. He wrote the more famous book, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1952). This flick, Planet of the Humans, is antithetical to that altogether (master race indeed), and in some sense, the lack of people of color speaking about a better way to get through this climate-capitalism chaos is sort of reflective of Gibbs’ own blind-spot to stick to the white technologists and the white people in the green capital movement.

Finally, I have had to dis-enroll in several list-serves, so called green and climate change list serves, because of the great white old lady and old man thought police and the moderators who believe attacking an ideology that many hold true is a persona attack on the actual members of the list serve.These are people who for the most part are cozy — in their paid-for homes, near the beach, with whatever money they have coming in from SS and investments and pension, or what have you. Lecturing people about playing nice, or to not be too accusatory, or to stop being so negative on Earth Day 50th anniversary. These are the people who have cemented their own fates in a world of “Gaia is responding to the coronavirus.” They believe there is a new time coming, that this virus and total environmental catastrophic are signs of a “new beginning. It might be tough for a few decades, a few hundred years — famine, murder, pillage, disease, etc. — but it is Gaia speaking, man, and we all need to look for a new beginning, a loving world, a giving world, and this climate change and now the bioweaponized world of viruses and vaccines are signs, man, from mother-female earth. The great big mamma in the sky. Don’t you feel it as you walk outside and see more birds congregating on the shore now that people are locked inside? Don’t you feel the new beginning? Can you imagine the new world, the new world order, the new enlightenment? Sure, there will be sacrificed people due to climate change, due to the pollution, the famine, but we are ready for the new beginning. Imagine, the world will soon be less people and more harmonious. Less people, good, and more poor people in those other sad countries, bad. Don’t you feel it, Paul, the new Eden? The new homo sapiens? Don’t ya feel the materialistic world melting away? And then all of us holding hands (well, holding hands via Skype and Zoom until the masters like Bill Gates, et al give us permission to stop the lockdown) in a new Garden? Can’t you just see it over the horizon? Can’t you just feel it?”


Fifty years ago, the first Earth Day brought out 20 million Americans across the land – to parks, schools, college campuses, stadiums, the Mall in DC, and for hundreds of river/beach/trail clean-ups.

“Our Space Ship is Burning” From the series XR #7
( XR – Greta Thunberg’s movement Extension Rebellion)
20”x30” Oil, college and gold leaf on canvas. See more art at : http://www.AnjaAlbosta.com

In 1970, I was 13 still living in Europe with my military family. But from age 17 on, however, I have been a North American environmental activist.

Fighting for whales, entire ecosystems, human and animal communities.
In addition, I’ve organized several Earth Day celebrations with thousands showing up in Spokane. I have been the Earth Club faculty advisor at two colleges where I taught.


River clean-ups, outdoor guerrilla banner drops on buildings, and young and old creating bird houses and bat boxes while listening to live bands and eating sustainable food from a pop-up farmer’s market.

This should never ever be the new normal – on-line education, on-line activism, on-line earth awareness.

“We’re trying to make this one an upper rather than downer,” says Otter Rock artist Bill Kucha. “We want to invigorate folks.” Kucha directs 350.org Central Oregon Coast.

It is more than surreal that we are exiled from one another and nature. This year’s Newport Earth Day (last year’s was held at the Newport library, inside) is virtual, on Zoom. There will be 100 slots for people to sign up and listen to/watch musicians, speakers and youth.


I asked Lincoln County Community Rights activist, Debra Fant, about her first Earth day:

I was in high school for the first Earth Day and joined my peers in picking up roadside trash (a whole winter’s worth of it as the snow had just melted leaving behind all sorts of mushy cardboard, bottles and stuff) for miles out of town. We were freezing cold and wet by afternoon, and I headed home for a hot shower instead of picking up the tenor drum to join the marching band in a parade through our down town area! I’m not sure we knew what Earth Day meant or who we blamed for harming nature . . . surely that ‘someone else.’ We’d likely grown up believing that like us, nature was invincible and would be there forever to satisfy our needs.

For the one of the main organizers of this April 22 Earth Day, Martin Desmond, he is blunt about the lack of youth activism in local environmental and climate change planning and discourse: “The truth of the matter is that people over the age of 60 come to our Lincoln County climate change presentations.”

http://www.AnjaAlbosta.com
Anja Albosta
Waldport, OR 97394

Martin posits there are maybe six or seven climate change organizers in our county.

The first Earth Day actually precipitated legislative action — the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts were created in response to the first Earth Day in 1970, as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Other countries soon adopted similar laws.

Last year’s Earth Day in Newport and this one on Zoom are what we call “aspirational events.” Celebratory, self-congratulatory.


I asked Jane Siebert, who is with Our Just Peace Action Team from the Congregational Church of Lincoln City, her reaction to the virtual day. The Church was planning to sponsor an Earth Day April 18, but too many conflicting community events quashed that, she said.


For me, this time of quarantine brings me out in the garden to appreciate spring and its slow unfurling of new life once again. This slow time of closely noticing the miracle of the earth can deepen our commitment to its future. I hold to the idea that Earth Day is every day and we must stand up to assaults on the natural order.

I’ve lived on the Coast/Lincoln County for a year and four months. I definitely feel this place is more chill than chutzpah when it comes to activism.

I am used to in-your-face rallying, even as a college instructor. Massive environmental-themed teach-ins and huge turn outs to city and county councils to demand better urban planning tied to real sustainability. I’ve interviewed heavyweights – Al Gore, David Suzuki, Winona LaDuke, Howard Kunstler, Richard Heinberg, and Bill McKibben – for both my print gigs and radio broadcasts.

If you miss it, Martin says it will be recorded for posterity.

Presentations are 5 to 8 minutes. It’s a pretty one-way communication event: sit back and listen and watch.

Ironically, I have had students research the energy use for each Google search, and I’ve led youth to do ecological footprints and check out the water foot print of some of the major items in our consumer society.

Life cycle analysis, embedded energy, cradle to cradle manufacturing, negative carbon architecture, tragedy of the commons, and more get my juices going.

Just following the energy used/consumed of the coffee bean plant grown in Costa Rica as it gets picked, shipped, roasted, reshipped, repackaged, and then brewed, is telling of every step we make in planet earth. Students are jazzed about exactly how much oil (plastic, transportation, fertilizer, packaging, production) is used to produce the various products they have come to rely on.

“Most of my life I have lived sequestered as an artist,” Kucha states. “I am more politically active now. I think this (coronavirus) could be a tipping point.” Living slower, more intentionality, and, for Bill Kucha, the pandemic in his mind is making us more egocentric. “In one fell swoop, we are all left with each other.”

For at-home insights, reading and films:

• Go to “Story of Stuff”

Ecological Footprint

Water Foot Print

• See Tim DeChristopher’s amazing activism in the flick about his life, Bidder 70

• Read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), mother of the environmental movement

• An plethora of green websites, from Grist, RealClimate, Yale360; and the usual suspects: Greenpeace and National Geographic.

Here’s the Zoom Earth Day Newport line-up, and then scroll down for the even Zoom link:

Musicians
Bill Kucha
Chris Baron
Dave Orleans
Robert Reuben

Elected Officials
Arnie Roblan
Dave Gomberg
Mark Gamba
Kaety Jacobson
Claire Hall

Non-profits/other speakers
Mike Broil
Mitch Gould
Robert Kenta
Ari Blatt & Paul Engelmeyer
Martin’s two grandkids
Paul Haeder

BIG end Note: It has to be made clear that the new normal should not and will not be Zoom. It will not be this bullshit world of throwing trillions at high tech companies. It will not be this world of staying compliant in our homes and gardens and tents.

Earth Day 50 years later should be a celebration of the heroes who have fought against the killers of culture and jungle and rain forest and species. Instead, after 50 years, in this shit-hole quarantine mentality, we have people who want to celebrate the Great First Extermination event, what some have called the Sixth Mass Extinction, which is really the Seventh Extinction.

Every year, more than 100 environmental activists are murdered throughout the world. 116 environmental activists were assassinated in 2014. More than two environmentalists were assassinated every week in 2014 and three every week in 2015. 185 environmental activists were assassinated in 2015.

A new report from Global Witness found that three environmental defenders were murdered every week in 2018 and many more were criminalized for working to protect the land, water and other vital resources.

chart on killings per country

“People are being killed because they are demanding their basic rights, in particular, the rights to access to land and to be free in their territories,” Luis Gilberto Murillo, the former governor of the predominantly Afro-Colombian state of Choco and former minister of environment and sustainable development, said on “Democracy Now!” “The way to avoid these killings is the full implementation of the peace process. There is a national commission to guarantee the protection of social leaders in the country [which] has not been convened regularly by the current government.” Source.

Joel Raymundo Domingo, 55, photographed in April, holds smoke bombs, tear gas canisters and other projectiles used by Guatema
Joel Raymundo Domingo, 55, photographed in April, holds smoke bombs, tear gas canisters and other projectiles used by Guatemalan state forces to disperse a peaceful blockade against the San Mateo Hydroelectric Project, in October 2018. 

So, I have to say that celebratory events like Earth Day are long in the tooth. We need action. We need tools. We need fire in the belly. We need role models. We need recruitment. We need the new tools of the modern post industrial Anarchist Cookbook. We need to celebrate our own eco-warriors, and the fact the Green is the New Red. We have to fight the industries that most Americans support by stuffing their faces with cheese, swine, chicken, beef, lamb who are on a witch hunt, getting more and more Gestapo laws against peaceful protest. We have to tell young people how to fight the systems of oppression. We don’t need no stinking Earth Day kumbayah.

We need Tim DeChristopher pre-incarceration for protesting illegal land lease sales in Utah. Nine years ago, here he is speaking to youth:

Tim DeChristopher | Power Shift 2011 Keynote

Remember, if you toss a can of paint or pool acid on an SUV or Hummer, you could face 25 or more years in federal prison. Remember, if you get on the radio and attack McDonald’s burgers or attack the swine industry, or if you take photos from a public road of a High Fructose Corn Syrup plant, or if you protest with signs outside a slaughter house, or if you go to the state capital of your choice and do a little street theater about timber industry killing babies with their Agent Orange spraying, or if you put your body and life in the way of a bunch of construction machines for a telescope siting in Hawaii, well, you get the picture. This is of course not the Earth Liberation Front or Animal Liberation Front, but we all should be those people, like all people on Turtle Island who can’t trace their lineage back to Native Tribes should ALL be illegal aliens.

Earth Day is about celebrating the warriors, those that exposed Love Canal, or people like Rachel Carson who was spied on and wire tapped and tailed by feds and industry pigs. Or Ralph Nader, Dangerous at Any Speed, who was the target of mafia hit men hired by GM, Ford, you name it, just for demanding safer death trap vehicles.

Celebrate the fighters in fence-line communities:

Environmental racism is real. As documented in Richard Rothstein’s 2017 book, ‘The Color of Law,’ extensive federal, state and local government practices designed to create and maintain housing segregation also assured that polluting facilities like industrial plants, refineries, and more were located near Black, Latino and Asian American neighborhoods,” said Bruce Mirken, a spokesman for The Greenlining Institute, a public policy advocacy group in Oakland. “Extensive data show that low-income communities of color still breathe the worst air and have excessive rates of pollution-related illnesses like asthma and other respiratory problems. These problems won’t fix themselves. As we move away from oil, coal and gas to fight climate change, we must consciously bring clean energy resources and investment into communities that were for too long used as toxic dumping grounds.

In the end, if we do not push back hard and shut down the country — The Industrial Continuing Criminal Enterprises of Wall Street, Banking, Real Estate, Military, Prison, Chemical, Pesticide, Fossil Fuel, Logging, Surveillance, Hi-Tech, Medicine, Pharma — then we are just Nero Fiddling While the Entire Ranch is Razed, Logged, Polluted and Immolated by the system that most “earth days” hate to bring up — CAPITALISM.

There ain’t no new green deal if the billionaires and coprorations are leading the charge, creating the conduits for profit, paying the bills of the so-called environmental movement. Green is the New Black is a book like Green is the New Red.

Environmental Racism in America: An Overview of the Environmental Justice Movement and the Role of Race in Environmental Policies

Black Lives Matter: Environmental Racism Is Killing African-Americans

In the end, we are all expendable, so why not think the earth is expendable.? We are all — the 80 percent — in sacrifice zones: food deserts, box store hell, road and highway infernos, clear cut landscape, smokestack gulags, chemical spray prisons.

Sacrifice zones: This leads to sacrifice zones, places where people, mostly of color and low wealth, live beside hyperpolluters and in harm’s way. In Houston, for example, an oil refinery, chemical plant and Interstate 610 surround the Manchester neighborhood, home to roughly 3,000 people. Not surprisingly, the cancer risk for people living in Manchester and neighboring Harrisburg is 22 percent higher than for the overall Houston urban area, according to a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services. Robert D. Bullard is a distinguished professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University and is often called the “father of environmental justice.”

Environmental Activists Have Higher Death Rates Than Some Soldiers

164 Activists Were Killed Defending Land and Water Last Year

My “earth day” is about taking it to the streets. It’s not about John Denver and Melissa Etheridge or Darrel Hannah or Al Gore or Bill McKibben. It’s about getting younger and younger people to the table, to the trenches. It’s about the old giving it up to the not-so-old. It’s about inviting families of loggers miners ranchers aerospace trucking to the table and showing them the value of deep ecology, food systems that are localized and regionalized, showing them the value of nutrition versus consumption. Radical means root, and we need radical change, radical activism, and monkey wrenching and celebrating those who already “got this” earth and cultural justice years ago.

Ten years ago, man, taking it to the streets, in Spokane!

Spokane’s Earth Day ‘takes to the streets’ to reach people

Spokane’s 40th anniversary Earth Day celebration will be on Main St. downtown rather than on grass at Riverfront Park.

This was about getting people who normally do not do these self-congratulatory and aggrandizement to the table — the poorer folks, who came to this event because we had 2nd Harvest there giving out food boxes AND because of all the family activities. We had school kids making bat boxes, bird houses, and bird feeders with an army of volunteers, even from Kohl’s donating some community service time. We shut the street down (like a huge thing with Police and Fire department honchos), put up a main stage, and we even had the even go into the night with local musicians playing. We had the even live on the radio KYRS-FM. We had in your face people like me, and others (though greenie weenies unfortunately predominate the so-called “nice earth day” gigs); and then the mayor of Spokane, and other politicos spoke while the main stage was powered with solar panels. We had that friction between those who believe in hope and those who fight for change and not for hope. We also made sure that Earth Day would continue in Spokane at the colleges and at public events the entire year afterwards. that was a whole other series of events a few years before that I organized, many, a year of sustainability for ALL of the city. We made sure that this one day was just the tip of the iceberg. Action, action, action. Grow, grow, grow the leadership and the army of young people.

But, alas, that was a decade ago, and alas I have gone on some really bumpy miles (thousands upon thousands of miles) away from that outpost — from English faculty, radio show host, columnist, urban planning graduate student; to union organizer in Seattle, DC, Mexico City, Bend, Oregon, to Occupy Seattle teacher; to social worker for adults with developmental disabilities, to memory care facility engagement counselor, to social worker for homeless in downtown Portland, to social worker for homeless veterans and their families, to counselor for foster teens; now a decade later — to the Oregon Coast as author, columnist, substitute teacher, and site director for an anti-poverty project in Lincoln and Jefferson counties. And more. Ten Years, a marriage, a divorce, another marriage, to Lisa, here in Waldport scratching out a living. New book out, quashed public readings, and now, five minute April 22 on the Zoom Earth Day. Crazy ass changes, and yet, at age 63, I have always predicted that if lazy ass consumer USA Murder Inc. continued to do what it always had since end of WWII, then, we would end up here — complacent, fearful, colonized, co-opted, in the belly of the beast, collectively enmeshed in Stockholm Syndrome, and more.

Support my recent work, now that the hysteria and complete lack of mental, intellectual, and spiritual acumen has occurred in the United States of Amnesia. Wide Open Eyes — Surfacing from Vietnam, short story collection.

April 22, Newport, Oregon, Zoom Day, Earth Day. Not the new normal. This is a one-time deal for me. Newport celebrates Earth Day via Zoom on April 22.

Give me Chris Hatten any day, over the self-important people who think Earth day is only about feel-good, celebrating a few more birds out on the shore because we are all sheep in this collective lock-down!

In the eye of the eagle

One-Minute Q & A with Chris Hatten

Paul Haeder — What is your life philosophy?

Chris Hatten — Make the best use of your time. Time is short.

PH — How do we fix this extractive “resources” system that is so rapacious?

CH — We need to value forests for the many multitude of services they provide, not just quick rotations. Forests are not the same as fields of crops.

PH — Give any young person currently in high school, say, in Lincoln County, advice on what they might get out of life if they took your advice? What’s that advice?

CH — Get off your phone, lift up your head, see the world for yourself as it really is, then make necessary changes to it and yourself.

PH — What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve experienced — what, where, when, why, how?

CH — I have had very poor people offer to give me all they had in several different countries. Strangers have come to my aid with no thought of reward.

PH — In a nutshell, define the Timber Unity movement to say someone new to Oregon.

CH — They are people who mostly work in rural Oregon in resource extraction industries and believe they are forgotten.

PH — If you were to have a tombstone, what would be on it once you kick the bucket?

CH — “Lived.”

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Lincoln County, Oregon celebrates 50 years of Earth Days
Category: General Earth Day Event4/22/2020 19:00 Oregon

Public  — Go to Earth Day
Length: 2 hours  About:

Our two hour live presentation on the Zoom platform will include local and statewide musicians, five elected officials, Siletz tribal members, young kids under 10 years of age, non-profit organizations, and other speakers talking about the positive accomplishments of our environmental activities on the Oregon Coast and the challenges ahead with climate change.

Organizer
: Martin DesmondPhone
Online: cclnewport@gmail.com 
RSVP linkhttps://zoom.us/j/3505677534

A Family Torn Apart by ICE – She Fights for Reunion with Deported Husband

by Paul Haeder / April 11th, 2020

Aspire not to have more, but to be more.

— Oscar Romero

Counting your lucky stars is many times a matter of perspective. I am so honored to have traveled to El Salvador in 1984. I was not happy with the death and destruction I witnessed.

I met beautiful people there. However, there was rampant killing by military death squads. Just four years earlier, March 24, 1980, the Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, while giving mass, was murdered by US-backed military.

For Madras, Oregon, mother of four, Ana Maria Mejia, her husband’s deportation to El Salvador earlier this year – right before the CV-19 viral outbreak – has left her in a triple-state of trauma.

She’s 35 and Moises, her husband, is 37. He is now living with his mother in the town of San Luis Talpa. He has to keep his head down.

“My counselor has asked me what does my world look like if my husband doesn’t come back,” Ana said.

That question is riddled with anxiety. She told me she takes an anti-anxiety prescription because of years of stress tied to the threat of her husband’s deportation.

For now, ICE and the immigration laws have barred Moises for five years from reentry to the US.

For the time being, Ana is working at home with four children under her wings. They live in a mobile home, and her oldest daughter, Amanda (she turns 11 April 25), is an anchor for the other three children —  Katalina, 2, Natalie, 5, and Samuel, 10 months.

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Ana’s story is rich with the power of a Latina who is steeled to weather a very trying time. Amanda asked her mother who I was while Ana answered my questions. “Well, aren’t you going to tell him about me, the miracle child?”

That miracle occurred at her birth when she was c-sectioned into this world with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck three times. She aspirated, and was helicopter-lifted to the hospital in Bend. Those facilities weren’t equipped to handle the neonatal case, Ana said, so the newborn Amanda was jet lifted to Emanuel Hospital in Portland.

“We were put up at the Ronald McDonald House for a month.”

Ana had the support of her husband, Moises.

Crossing Many Borders

The trip for her husband from El Salvador included crossing into Piedras Negras, where ICE arrested him but released hi the same day as Moises reported he has family in California.  That was March 2005.

Moises went to live with an aunt in California. He ended up coming to Madras and worked on farms, one being in Spray. He was the head breadwinner of the growing family. He has set down many roots in Jefferson County.

Ana was born in Los Angeles to a mother who had just come to the US as a widow, nine months pregnant with Ana.

She was from San Miguel del Comitlan in the state of Guerro. Her mother was undocumented, worked in an A  textile factory, and she eventually moved to Madras with a bunch of other people. “She worked in the fields, and it’s been 32 years, and she still works in agriculture at age sixty.”

During the Ronald Reagan presidency, amnesty was offered to Mexican workers, and her mother jumped on that.

Fast-forward to April 2005. Ana was working for H & R Block as a client services professional. She had a second job at a medical clinic.

In came in Moises Mejia, who needed a translator. He returned the following week, and he hit it off with Ana.

“He found out where I worked at this clinic and surprised me with roses. I wasn’t really ready for a relationship. But he told me he pictured us together. Together married with a family.”

That same year, they were married, Nov. 3, 2007.

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Return to Sender?

The order for deportation was issued the same year Moises came into the country. After Amanda was borne, Ana said they wanted to know how to petition for his permanent residency.

While working in Spray, OR, in 2014, Moises was stopped for a traffic violation. The police officer did a background check and saw there was a warrant for his arrest.

ICE arrested him, took him the ICE facility in Tacoma, WA, and in three weeks he was released because Ana was pregnant with Natalie.

The process of hiring immigration lawyers has taken both a financial and mental toll on the family. Ana told me she has been seeing a counselor because of the stress of deportation hanging over them. Now that Moises has been deported, the trauma has increased many times. All three children are also receiving counseling for a type of PTSD.

Thousands of dollars spent on lawyers, and hundreds more for the trips to Eugene and Portland to check in with ICE, and then the expenses of filing petitions – she is stressed by the financial ruin looming on the horizon.

Ana and Moises are embedded in several communities in Jefferson County. Moises had been working for Jim, who has a small privately owned air pump company. Ana says Jim and his wife Karen consider them as family. Part of the legal fees were paid by Jim, Moises’ employer of four years. Five dozen eggs from Jim and Karen’s chickens get delivered to the mobile home.

This case is emblematic of a paperwork hell, as well as injustice tied to missing a court date.

Fleeing Violence, Fleeing Death

Refugee status was a given to Moises’ brother and the children of another brother who was murdered in El Salvador by the international gang, Calle 18 (also known as Barrio 18, Mara 18, or simply La 18).

Even when Moises was a kid (he was born two years before I visited EL Salvador), there was a lot of violence perpetrated by military death squads. Moises has become a bus driver (his uncle owned the transportation business) and attended school to be a mechanic.

Ana’s never met her mother-in-law – they have talked on the phone and exchanged photographs. Ana says her mother-in-law is highly devoted to her church. She wants her son to go back to Madras “where he belongs with his wife and four children.”

For Ana, her goals have not been put on hold – she is an early childhood development student with Central Oregon Community College. She works for Early Head Start through the Oregon Childhood Development Commission.

“What are you going to do next is a question my counselor keeps asking me. It’s not easy to think about. I can’t move to El Salvador with my four children. What kind of education would they get there? It’s not safe. His brother was murdered, shot in the head in 2009. That is no life for me and my children.”

I met Ana through the non-profit program I am heading up, both in Lincoln County and Jefferson County. Family Independence Initiative of Oregon is a pilot project collecting valuable stories from working families in exchange for $840 for one-year participation.

The quarterly deposit of $175 I had just put into her account precipitated Ana to contact me. She told me the money helped her make a car payment. She also is attempting to get more people in Jefferson County to sign up, or at least to email me.

I was thinking about El Salvador before I embarked on interviewing Ana. Another Oscar Romero quote comes to mind: “The ones who have a voice must speak for those who are voiceless.” This is profound, especially for the Madras Pioneer, if they eventually let me publish this story about Ana and Moises.

Ana sings in the choir at St. Patrick’s, and she is part of a large volunteer contingent. She states her social capital in Madras and surrounding communities is deep. Many people at her church have offered help.

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What she learns everyday about the situation in El Salvador is valuable to her own friends and family who are from that country. The quarantining measures there are much tighter than those in the US.

I’m also thinking about my own involvement in protesting the US involvement in the politics and military of El Salvador. The Salvadoran Civil War lasted from October 1979 to January 1992. I still have one of the pamphlets the Salvador military was passing out in the countryside — the infamous “Be a patriot! Kill a priest!” pamphlet.

I’m also involved in the literary arts in Oregon. April is National Poetry month, and I am recalling Carolyn Forché, an American poet, translator, and memoirist. Her books of poetry are In the Lateness of the WorldBlue HourThe Angel of History, The Country Between Us, and Gathering the Tribes. Her memoir, What You Have Heard Is True, was published by Penguin Press in 2019.

I don’t know if Moises knows about this American who lived in El Salvador for some of those years.  Forché’s now legendary poem, “The Colonel,” describes a harrowing dinner with a Salvadoran military officer. Her a memoir is about her political education during those years. The title, What You Have Heard Is True, is from the first line of the poem, “The Colonel.”

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A quick Q & A

PH: What did you do as a family before Moises was deported?

AM: We spent time enjoying the outdoors. Going to the park, taking our children to play. We always we watched fireworks on the 4th of July. We were always going out, including the fair and my children enjoyed petting farm animals and the carnival portion. We went to movies with our children and went to our friends and family gatherings

PH: What gives you strength?

AM: What gives me strength is my faith in God and my family.

PH: When I say “community,” what comes to your mind?

AM: Community is culture, diversity opportunities, welcoming, sheltering family and home stability. It’s a group of people gathering to connect together to affirm we all are in this together. It doesn’t matter the religion, race, color or where you’re from or what language you speak, we all come together.

PH: Tell people why your husband (like thousands of other wives and husbands) deserves to be repatriated to the USA?

AM: My husband deserves to be back to this country because he is a hard worker and he is not a criminal. He is a number one provider for our family. My children and I need him to be with us. No family should be separated.

PH: What do you love about Madras, and Oregon?

AM: I love Madras because I lived here all my life. I was brought over from Los Angeles California and to me Madras is my hometown. I love the community because there’s a lot of people that are very supportive of schools. Also, there’s a lot of great events that my family and I enjoy going to and being a part of.

PH: What does your older daughter want to do when she grows up? Does she know?

AM: At the moment my older daughter does not know what she wants to do when she grows up, but she enjoys drawing, music, and dancing. Art inspires her.

Rhyming not necessary but some assembly required – Poetry

This sense of viral isolation, dread and global make-over (for good and worse) gets the proverbial juices flowing of our local and national bards. It’s not a stretch to say there are many people on our coast and farther east who consider themselves to be “poets.”

With a liberal dose of simile, any number of cultural and natural events hearken the phrase, “Blank is like poetry in action.”

Ever see a dolphin in the wild under water? Ever see Carl Lewis compete in the long jump? Ever see a skateboarder compete in an extreme sports competition? Ever see a peregrine falcon dive at over 220 miles an hour?

“Poetry in action.”

April is deemed National Poetry Month. Through the work of the Academy of American Poets who saw the success of other celebrations such as Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March), writers, poets and teachers helped found Poetry Month.

The aim is simple:
• highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets,
• encourage the reading of poems,
• assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms,
• increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media,
• encourage increased publication and distribution of poetry books, and
• encourage support for poets and poetry

Where I now live, the Oregon Coast celebrates writers – poets – through conferences, workshops, organizations and, of course, readings. For now, like the summer Olympics, the live lyrical works and in-your-face performances by poets have been cancelled.

However, there are on-line options. Our own count librarians are putting up more resources up and are encouraging poets (and other writers) to record their performances. AAP’s web site has plethora of live filmed readings and activities for young and old.

I asked the Toledo, Oregon, head librarian her take on the written word’s value in a time of crisis. Deborah Trusty stated: “So, the value of literature is great, as it has always been because it speaks to the universal human experiences. ‘Now,’ whenever now is for anyone, is always a good time for literature and an opportunity to contemplate the deeper feelings and experiences of what it means to be a human BEING.”

Yes, poetry can be dreaded, only because it has been poorly taught and presented.

Portland poet Marianne Klekacz states clearly, “ I think many people are intimidated by poetry, a reaction that probably dates back to middle or high school. Elementary school students seem to get it immediately, because, I suspect, they haven’t had the imagination trained out of them yet.”

She told me she once hosted the annual William Stafford birthday party in January and the April Poetry Month readings at the Newport Library. “My book [“When Words Fail”] was published in 2009. It can be found in the library, but since that is now quarantined, if you’ll send me a mailing address, I’d be happy to send you a copy.”

William Stafford is one of the country’s preeminent poets, one whose work is relevant in this time of Covid-19. His son Kim (also a Willamette University faculty member) was poet laureate of Oregon until last year.

Here are some definitions of poetry:

Mary Oliver — “Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”

Salvatore Quasimodo — “Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own.”

Rita Dove ¬– “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.”

James K. Baxter ¬¬– “The poem is a plank laid over the lion’s den.”

When I requested writers in our area to tell me what they believe the value of poetry is, many failed to respond. A sign of poetic solitude? A dystopian look at the world from one of the country’s most beautiful places from which to create words, music, art, dance and more?

Marianne was profuse in her responses, as was the Toledo head librarian.
Marianne recommends Peter Sears’ work – he was Oregon’s poet Laureate a few years ago.

She said, “I got involved with poetry late in life, pretty much by accident, and have wallowed in it ever since. I probably have more books of poetry (as opposed to books about poetry) than the Newport Library.”

Poet Leanne Grabel too recommends Sears. “Peter was a friend. I used this in classes often to teach metaphor. Taught in lock-down residential treatment. Kids loved this.” Here is the Sears poem Leanne adores.

My Emptiness Rides in the Back Seat, Propped UP

Don’t look now but that’s my emptiness smiling at us
from the back seat of the car with the hat on that’s too small.
I give him hats that fit and he chucks them out the window.
Then flops over, face down,
probably laughing his eyeballs out. I prop him up.
Maybe I should get him like a baby chair.
Or tape him to the back seat.
Yesterday he caught me looking at him
in the rearview mirror.
That smile, I can’t take it.
I threw fresh mints back over my shoulder at him
as hard as I could.
I threw the towel at him that I use to wipe the windshield
and almost piled into a Dodge 4×4.
That’s it. I stop the car, take him out, sit him
on a wooden bench in the park, and walk back to the car.
Yeah, just leave him there.
He’s my emptiness, I can do what I want with him.
He’s such a baby. Maybe he should have to do it on his own.
Well, I barely get around the block
when I whip the car around and head back for the little whuss.
I mean, how long can he last on his own?
So I am getting out of my car
when I happen to glance at the back seat.
There he is, my emptiness, with one of those dumb hats on,
waving my car keys.

Over at Dissent Magazine, there is a great interview of Carolyn Forché.

[“Witnessing War, with Carolyn Forché” — The author of What You Have Heard Is True talks about her political education in El Salvador, by Patrick Iber]

Over at Dissent Magazine, there is a great interview of Carolyn Forché.

[“Witnessing War, with Carolyn Forché” — The author of What You Have Heard Is True talks about her political education in El Salvador, by Patrick Iber]

I cut my teeth on Forché. She ended in El Salvador in the 1970s and 1980s. After, she toured the US — 49 states in a sort of Blitzkrieg of truth telling about the despotic regime in Salvador propped up and trained by USA. Americans doubted her experiences, denying the realities of the death squad imperium of the School of the Americas murder college.

I spoke with her at the University of Arizona where she appeared at the Poetry Center, and I met her years later at a reading at the University of Texas — El Paso. Heck, here is an old Dissident Voice piece I did, This Land is Their Land, and We Are the Illegal Aliens

I ended up working with Salvadoran refugees in El Paso, and that story was written several times, including the El Paso Herald Post which then sent it out to their sister newspapers.

Here, a recent update of that experience with Casa Annunciation, Shifting Baselines in a Time of Climate Change, Systems Stagnation, Life and Death in a Time of Amnesia

Time of Amnesia

Here, some art therapy from some of the children at the refugee center.

Time of Amnesia

Again, there is this huge tension between MFA/masters of fine arts creative writing “poets” living off of tenure track jobs, and those of us who are revolutionary. This poem, by Forché, is powerful, now, and then, 1978:

The Colonel

WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD is true. I was in his house. His wife carried a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck themselves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.
–May 1978

Watered down version of this story in my local rag, Newport News Times

Readers — Just letting you know how important are small newspapers: no matter how much they are focused on arts-living, they are vital. Here, in Oregon Coast Today. In the Eye of the Eagle — “Deep Dive with Paul Haeder

Please, support writers — my new short story collection, Wide Open Eyes — Surfacing from Vietnam — is virtually dead in the water. Lock down a la Corona Capitalism, Americans’ bandwidth is tuned to every tidbit of foolish info streaming from mainstream press and the authoritarians in politics all about the Trumpdemic! Much of it so wrong, and the critique on capitalism and the military-corporate-greed complex is zero!

I have no idea how many of my books have sold at the bloody Amazon dot kill account. which my publisher set up. It went up two months ago. Boy, all my readings and appearances and interviews vanished! You can, however, email me, haederpaul@gmail.com, and I can send you one for $20 with my autograph and thanks. I make a little bit on that after the printing and postage costs! Here, the book review —

Opening Eyes: Paul Haeder’s Stories of the Viet Nam Legacy in America
Book Review of Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam

Finally, look at the ramifications of Trumdemic — Corona Capitalism — small communities are decimated, and there are no comebacks for small businesses. Small-town journalism is dying quickly.

TUESDAY, MAR 31, 2020, 12:14 PM In These Times:
In the Time of Coronavirus, the Decimation of Local News Outlets Could Have Lethal Consequences

Namaste, Paul

​“Take your brother’s need as the measure for your actions and solve the problems of the World”
— Maitreya

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COVID-19 through a literary lens

COMMENTARY | My conversations with librarians have been the bright line in a ‘world of words’

 Paul K. Haeder | 31 Mar 2020

“Look, we have been on the front lines of all sorts of diseases. New strains of TB. Hep C. Even bedbugs are blamed on us. This virus doesn’t scare me. The people out there — the citizens — that’s what scares me, man, all that toilet paper hoarding and shit.” 
— Brooks, as we talked in front of the Waldport library
“I’m preparing for National Poetry Month, not for death.
“See, there I was time I thought I was going to die. I was really scared. And in that moment, no one was scared with me. Doctors didn’t take me seriously; my family even questioned if my illness was real.
“It was then that I was scared of all of you, your germs, your coughs, and your unwashed hands. It was then that I really didn’t want y’all to touch me.
“Doctors told me I needed a nap and that I was just stressed. But I, in fact, had a serious case of Babesia, a neurologically based tick-borne illness that impacted by brain, my speech, my cognition — and my life.”  
— Whit Easton, L.A. writer, from the piece  “I’m Making Art (and Love) This Go-Around of a Global Health Pandemic — One poet’s response to COVID-19”

I’m talking with John (he prefers this pseudonym) about his own desire that incubated more than three decades ago about becoming a novelist.

“I always thought about that as a career, even in high school.” He is not a 48-year-old “victim of circumstances,” though the average person might see him crossing the Alsea bridge at night with his backpack and bedroll as such.

He prefers to be called a vagabond. We’ve talked about intelligent design, quantum physics, zoning laws, solutions to housing precarity. 

He reads a lot. He spends a lot of time inside libraries reading. This pattern has been in his blood way before the seven years he’s been on the road. His own life philosophy is complicated, but in one sense it can be whittled down to, “Here today and gone tomorrow.”

“I am not a loner, don’t get me wrong,” he tells me while we share coffee. “I’ll associate with anyone who’s kind regardless of their station in life.”

Like many on the road, John doesn’t want specifics revealed. But he still is open about some things in his narrative.





He grew up in Los Angeles. He said he was a foster child. He has no siblings. He has no connection to his parents (he has negative things to say about both of them). The effects of a bullet to the lung and one to the hip at age 22 (both removed) are taking a toll on his ability to work long and grueling jobs.  

“Yeah, I think when you and I were talking a few months ago about the Influenza A, I figured anything like this new virus would put a kink in everything. Am I right?”

Social distancing is easy for John — he stays in his own tent — and difficult: He shares a bench with Brooks, and they swap tobacco and rolling papers for their cigarettes.

We talk about the concept of story. John and Brooks have a lot of them — stories. John, though, is steeped in the writerly way of framing narrative through his life and a universal lens. Brooks has tales about many dramatic brushes with the law, criminals, courtrooms.

“I still think about it — writing a book. You never know what I might be doing when I turn 50 … or 60.” This is John looking at me pensively but with no regret etched on his face.

We continue talking about surviving and how people on the streets, on the road, have survival skills the average person in the U.S. society doesn’t have. Not just the ways these people can find shelter, tap into resources and be blessed with other windfalls. They have a certain outlook on life that is “not filled with unrealistic pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.” 

John’s thrown in as a line chef, as a carpenter, cabinet-maker, and demolishing structures. He was once paid a penny a word for research through an online university. He worked in Arizona picking melons with mostly immigrant laborers. 

“Yeah, right out of ‘Grapes of Wrath,’” he said. “We got paid two hundred a week, but the manager kept our first week’s wages. And, we had to pay for food and this crappy shed to sleep in. We paid every time we took a shit.”

He thinks labeling anyone with “mental illness” is incorrect — “we can have mental issues and problems, but it is not a disease” — and a quick way to control people and taking away their rights.

John is skeptical of government services for homeless, saying, “The secular institutions aren’t capable of helping the homeless. When people help me, it’s members of the community. Religious institutions should be helping out much more.” 

John said, “It seems like the powers that be want us to freeze to death. Sometimes it’s just a place to get out of the cold that can make the difference.” 

Librarians in a time of plague 

So many homeless people I interact with see our local public libraries as both nirvana — a place to get out of the cold — and a gold mine of information and killing time with words.

Toledo, Ore., is a small mill town (Georgia Pacific), and the library there is run by the city. It’s pretty large compared to the size of the community. Deborah Trusty has managed it for over a decade. We talk about COVID-19; all the author readings and story-time events for kids were canceled. 

Other libraries in Lincoln County had already closed altogether, including Newport. She says more people from Newport were coming in for library cards. The staff saw more people than ever using the Wi-Fi services. 

“I’m concerned about people with issues. The elderly. The immunosuppressed. And I know that my patrons who are homeless count on the library. Here in Toledo, we just closed the pool. I am concerned now because that’s where people without homes showered.”


Cornel West praises Occupy Seattle movement at Green River Community College: By Yours Truly


We talk about having online author readings, Skyping and using Zoom for interactive literary events. We discuss other ways the library system can step it up in a time of COVID-19.

“I’ve done those tabletop exercises. You know, disaster preparedness for the big earthquake. There is no way to prepare for something like that. Other than laying in more food. But most likely what will happen is what all those movies have been showing us.”

But Deborah sees COVID-19 as an opportunity to do things differently and to ask, What can we do to change? She’s thinking of slowing down, stopping to smell the proverbial coffee and listening. Part of that denouement is reading more. 

I ask former Stockton, Calif., resident and now Portland resident (since 1975) Leanne Grabel what she thinks of these lockdowns, public cancellations, and quarantining due to a virus.

“Let’s face it. There is a thrill in crises, and I feel it. It’s an abandonment of routine, which has an excitement to it. Is there fear? Yes. We are over 60, and my husband has lung issues. But staying home, watching movies, working on projects, and now having a snowstorm, it has its sweetness. 

“Now, if we get sick, it won’t be so fun. And of course, there is huge concern and disgust over the current administration’s handling of it all since their first priority is not people but money. It just piles up the disgust that was already up to the sky. But local communities — schools, restaurants, stores — are being generous and people-focused.”

Her pedigree is long and varied, but most interesting to me is she’s worked in the Portland Public Schools focusing on language arts and special education. Much of her time concentrated on teenage girls in a lockdown residential treatment center: Rosemont.

 “As a writer, and a victim of trauma myself, I knew the act of writing one’s ugly story — could help — just help.” From that work, she published “badgirls,” a chapbook based on her experiences with the girls.

Poetry and music

I was on my way back from Spokane last week, plugging my new literary work, a short story collection, “Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam,” when I heard an interview featuring Peter Sears’ poetry. Sears served as Oregon’s poet laureate from 2014 to 2016 and was active in the state’s literary community for more than 40 years. The story produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting was about fusing Sears’ poetry with classical music.

Teddy Abrams is one of classical music’s “biggest proponents of collaboration and breaking artistic barriers.” He is the music director of the Britt Music and Arts Festival in Jacksonville, Ore. In 2014, Aoife O’Donovan, a well-known songwriter, was asked to help him write a suite of music based on the work of this now deceased Oregon poet.

“Of all the human values we hear about that are wonderful — drive, resolve, insight, charm, empathy, whatever — we don’t hear much about imagination and it’s really, really critical. We live there a lot more than we know. Whether there are any results, that’s another matter. But if a person has an opportunity to engage that imagination, as they do in writing, things can happen that they never saw coming.”
– Peter Sears

Writing in a time of crisis

As the old adage states, a rolling stone collects no moss. Now that the stones of society and gearworks have come to a halt, and all public gatherings in many states across the U.S. have been “banned,” we have a crisis of more atomization in our society, more social dislocation, and more isolation.

My conversations with dozens of librarians, from big universities where I’ve taught to small towns where I’ve lived, have been the bright line in a “world of words.” These professionals support writers and books. Community libraries function as computer-based assistance, warming places for the houseless, and clearing houses for local information and bulletins.

As a bookend here, I want to chisel in the words of one of our Central Oregon writers, Wallace Kaufman. His bio is varied and diverse, the fuel of myriad of written forms. He has been a wrestling coach, museum curator, high school biology teacher, college professor, land developer, property appraiser, licensed construction contractor, conflict mediator, journalist, land-use consultant, adviser on housing and land reform to the government of Kazakhstan, Spanish translator, president of three statewide environmental groups, and economics researcher for World Bank and USAID projects. 

He lives in Newport and is the author of seven books: science fiction, nonfiction, memoir and poetry.

For him, the power of the word and why he writes are intertwined:

 “As a shy kid who could not sing or play an instrument and wondered what life was worth, I was seduced by the music of words that could also bring into focus the wonders of the world and engrave in memory important facts and enduring mysteries.”

I ask librarians and people like John and Brooks many questions tied to the “new normal” of COVID-19 and fear.

Brooks tells me he sees “more people on the streets coming together, talking, sharing things.” John believes under the virus hysteria, things will get more draconian. “And people like me will be targeted more than we already are. Treating us more and more like lepers.”

The published author Kaufman sees the virus as emblematic of a modern world gone crazy:

“Humankind has mastered most of the powers of the natural world. This new pandemic makes clear that bio-engineered weapons can create more economic and social havoc and death than any other weapon, and that created viruses can be spread faster and farther with less effort than other weapons. Our powers are now god-like for both creation and destruction. We have met the Titans and they are us.” 

While John is pragmatic and road-toughened (and weary), he said he enjoys this part of the world for its amazing forests meeting the sea. Kaufman echoed the same: “Now is the time we should be celebrating the wonders of the natural world and the genius of humankind.” 

For 32-year-old Whit Easton, this crisis of the pandemic is a blossoming cherry tree: “This week, in the wake of a society inundated by fear, an impending sense of doom, and a full-blown global pandemic, I find myself pensive — cautious yet calm — as I reflect on the journey I am about to undertake as a young entrepreneur. I’m on a mission to launch a digital platform in psychology and wellness that will be revolutionary for the diverse audience I aim to reach.”

Leaving behind baggage is Whit’s lesson now during this isolation:

“In 2019, I walked out of just about every damn closet that you can possibly walk out of in life. I came out as a transgender non-binary lesbian in nine months’ time. Once I knew I was gay, I figured why not get all the coming-out over with? I launched my freelance writing career and said goodbye to the 9 to 5 office life, published my first work of creative prose, and began to build a writing business.”

Paul Haeder is a seasoned print journalist, has been a college English faculty for a dozen colleges and universities, and now works on a statewide anti-poverty project, Family Independence Initiative, in Lincoln County. He just published a new book of short fiction, “Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam” (Cirque Press, 2020). His Portland roots connect with Central City Concern, Lifeworks NW, United Cerebral Palsy, and the Salvation Army as a case manager for people who were homeless, developmental disabled, in foster teen programs, veterans and newly released from incarceration.