Saturday, December 31, 2005
Today, I am sad.
Three days before Christmas and I don't see any peace on earth, nor much in the way of good will t'wards men, women or any other living being. One voice within me, that which speaks from and for my head, tells me that it doesn't matter one whit if it is Christmas or not; the daily atrocities of war and exploitation exist all through the year, and are equally abhorrent regardless of when they take place. Moreover, I am not a Christian, haven't been since I was thirteen, why should I fall for that sentimental Christmas rhetoric?
"Well," responds my heart, "for many years of your life, Christmas was that time of awe and wonder. A time when merriment and joy to the world seemed to be taken more seriously. One of the few times grown-ups seemed to actually be of some good cheer, overall. It was a time of great promise that you looked forward, each year offering the promise of some miracle. Now, you don't have that, and it hurts."
I know that both my head and my heart are right. That it is not their job to agree, but integrated and balanced they inform my whole self.
I notice that not so many people seem to be really enjoying themselves right now. There are too many unknowns lurking in our future. I think that the heart and mind dissonance of having a holiday that is strongly associated with peace and charity occur at this time, is occurring for others, as well as for myself.
I think that there are many other internal conflicts happening within our culture, and that most of us are in pain. The pain of knowing that the president thinks it's okay to spy on peace activists, and so many others; of knowing that we are in a war built on trumped-up allegations and selective information (and the occasional full on lie); that that same war has cost over 2, 000 US lives, and 10s of 1,000s of Iraqi lives; of knowing that we are neglecting and exploiting people in this country to serve the wealthiest—including demands of a blood sacrifice to feed the war machine with the bodies of the young men and women of the poor, working and middle classes; of knowing that we cannot trust that we have free and fair elections in this country anymore. And that pain is made sharper by the heart's voice, that hope many of us once held that this was a democratic country, whose law was based on the rights put forth in our beloved constitution—that for all of the US's possible shortcomings, at least we were a free and democratically controlled nation—and knowing the disillusionment of waking up and finding that those beliefs are a pack of lies… damned lies, and that those beliefs and a buck-forty will get you on the bus.
The solstice is passed. The light is returning. We must allow ourselves to acknowledge our hurts and disillusionments, we must grieve them, and we must dare to build a vision of another way of being—another way of inter-relating and co-creating a truly free and democratic society. And then we must empower ourselves, and each other, to act on it, and make it so. This is my solstice prayer.
We don't need to allow this any longer. We have had enough of bullshit intimidation, lies, distractions, disrespect and degradation. We have had enough.
Friday, November 04, 2005
My rights, as a woman, as a queer, are NOT to be considered some sort of “fringe benefit”, the “cream” of living in a “free society”. My rights are fucking integral to that free society!
Every other Friday morning I co-host Positively Revolting Talk Radio on KBOO (kboo.fm or 90.7 FM, Portland). This morning’s discussion focused on the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court; it seems to me that the appointment of a far right conservative who has a track record that is anti-choice, into a pivotal seat on the court is a big hairy deal. The discussion was varied and lively, but throughout the discussion, I was becoming increasingly alarmed by an attitude displayed be almost every male caller—an attitude that warned Alito’s nomination is a smoke screen, there are (sensitive vegan souls, please pardon the phrase) more important fish to fry at this time.
During Alito’s time on The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, in 1992, a case went before them called Pennsylvania v. Casey. This is a synopsis of that case from Wikipedia:
Four provisions of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act of 1982 were being challenged as unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade, which first recognized a constitutional right to have an abortion in the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The "informed consent" rule under the Act required doctors to provide women with information about the health risks and possible complications of having an abortion before one could be performed. The "spousal notification" rule required women to give prior notice to their husbands, and the "parental notification" rule required the same of minors to their parents. The fourth provision imposed a 24-hour waiting period before obtaining an abortion. When the case came before the Court on review, Pennsylvania defended the Act in part by urging the Court to overturn Roe as having been wrongly decided.
The district court held that all the provisions were unconstitutional and entered a permanent injunction against Pennsylvania's enforcement of them, and it was appealed to The Third District Court.
Next, (again, from Wikipedia):
The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part, upholding all of the regulations except for the husband notification requirement. Future Supreme Court nominee, Judge Samuel Alito, sat on that three-judge appellate panel and dissented from the court's invalidation of that requirement.
THAT’S RIGHT FOLKS, ALITO THOUGHT THAT SPOUSAL NOTIFICATION DOES NOT PRESENT AN UNDUE BURDEN.
Gee whiz, why is that so important to me? Because requiring a woman to receive permission from her spouse before receiving medical services is to treat women as chattel—no inherent, unalienable right to liberty, but only such “rights” as granted her by her master and ruler (oh, I am sorry, I meant caring helpmate). Because a man holding that view has just been nominated to the high court of the land, to a seat that could well cast the deciding vote on this and many other issues that will effect how our freedoms our meted out—which parts of the constitution we might honor, if it’s not to politically inconvenient.
No, this is not less important than the rest of the human rights we seek to gain and insure through our active vigilance. No, a woman’s right over her body is not something that we argue for after we make other, more acceptable gains. No, a woman’s reproductive freedom is not a fucking negotiating chip—it is a fundamental and unalienable right.
Abortion on demand and without apology.
Because women matter as much as men.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Across this country folks are gathering on November 2nd. In Portland, people will come together at noon in Pioneer Courthouse Square to demand an end to this madness and corruption.
Because we live in the belly of the beast, we owe it to the rest of the world to demand accountability of “our” government.
We owe it to ourselves and to each other to demand a better way to live. Demand an end to the gross human rights abuses at home and abroad. Demand an end to the environmental devastation. Demand an end to the police state that his arisen.
On Wednesday, November 2nd, come together and experience the birth of a movement.
We have had enough—ya basta!
The world can’t wait.
If you want more information, check out worldcantwait.org
I went out last week to one of those places where you don’t even have to try hard to feel the magnificent power of the earth and connection to all that is. High time that I did, too—I have just come off of a month of working 6 –7 days a week, and 10 – 14 hour days, at that. Add to it the incredible madness going on within the administration, the horrific social injustice staring us all in the face and a war without end (or really any reality based justification). Add to that the fragile nature of family, loved one’s passing and others in terrible crisis.
And so I went to the coast, and walked the trails around Oswald State Park in a blistering rain storm—the kind where the rain comes at you sideways, pushed fiercely by the wind whipped off of the sea. My feet crunching on all of the fall goodness beneath them. My hands reaching out to touch the softest mosses. And I felt alive and good and whole. I felt connected and ready to continue my service to universe/ to love.
In this time of year, the wall between the unseen world and that place we all know as the consensus based reality in which we live, work and play, becomes quite thin. The old year passes away, the physical becomes a husk, drying in the breeze. Breaking down to its essential molecules, reseeding the earth.
Happy Samhain, all.
Remember that you are love and love is the strength of the universe.
To all my relations, seen and unseen—
To all my relations, on this side and the other—
To all my relations, I sing our connection—
Many blessings on this new year.
Friday, September 02, 2005
In the wake of Katrina, I am watching another American genocide.
What else can you call it?
Scientists have warned of impending disaster, yet the government only saw fit to cut vital funds that could have reinforced the levees; all monies go to fund military adventuring and corporate gain.
What else can you call it?
A mandatory order to evacuate comes without any support to do so. This isn’t such a problem for many folks—if they need to get out they can get in their cars / SUVs or get a ticket out on a plane and split. But what if you don’t have a car, or an SUV—let alone a plane ticket? What if even if you did have a car, where do you go when you have no money to actually stay anywhere once you get away? In this scenario, who’s left?
What else can you call it?
No massive coordinated relief effort from the government for days and days—no food, no water, no sanitation, no way out. I don’t know about you, but I get the feeling that the Federal and State Governments are thinking that these folks are expendable. There are more than 15,000 people left in New Orleans alone, without food or water for Christ’s sake—not to mention the thousands of people left in small towns and rural areas in Mississippi and Louisiana. And without potable water and food they will die. And the governor of Louisiana & president of the u.s., agree that there should be “zero tolerance” for looters. There are orders to shoot to kill folks "looting". What's the difference between looting and taking what is necessary to survive? So, just try and steal some water, soda, chips, anything you can get your hands on because your family has had nothing to eat or drink for 5 days and has been living on a rooftop, or bridge span in 90-degree heat and they are dying--those government forces dispatched aren't there to help you, they are there to shoot to kill, protecting the property of stores (who are insured, after all). It is the american way.
I am outraged.
I feel powerless to give real and tangible aid where it is needed most – 2,700 miles away.
I feel that the most I have been able to do is shake my tiny fists and emote— swell, that will help.
I am not a new critic of this political system, and the resulting administrations. And yet, in the past couple of days, I feel like all of the criticisms that I have spouted for many years about the government not being concerned with the welfare of the common people has been underscored, bolded and italicized in a most macabre way. I think that sometimes, I would rather be wrong.
The negligent disregard for human life that has been shown by those in power is nothing less than criminal—indeed, it is genocidal.
So I shake my tiny fists, I pace agitatedly around the building, I cry, I rant and I rage
And then I recommit myself to the struggle to challenge white privilege, to end classism, racism and sexism.And I scream as loud as I can “NOT IN MY NAME!!!” It is not my will that my taxes are drained into the ever quickening quagmire of Iraq, leaving the u.s. strapped for relief and rescue resources. The u.s. spends over $5,500,000,000 (yes that’s $5.5 Billion) each month in Iraq—where it comes down as bombs and bullets, bringing death to folks that I have never met and hold no quarrel with. It is this same u.s. that allows (forces?) nearly 1/3 of the population of New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi to live in poverty, because a handout to Halliburton is good for the country’s economy, but a handout to desperately poor people somehow or another is thought to erode character.
Is any of this making sense?
What do you call this if you don’t call it negligent homicide of thousands?What do you call this if you don’t call it genocide?
My little corner of the world looks out on to a thriving community radio station—it’s my day job, it’s a way of life.
One of the coolest things about this little community radio station is that it is volunteer powered. 450 volunteers create the programming and run the business, coordinated by 10 paid staff.
I am one of the few paid staff; I talk with scores of volunteers, members and listeners every day. By and large, this is the best thing in the whole world—who doesn’t love to talk with brilliant and passionate people about current events, music and art? And then there are weeks like this… weeks when some folks seem a bit less brilliant.
Take this evening, for example. I was talking with a friend at a gathering of volunteers at a pub—nice Euro-American woman, very progressive, good organizer, volunteer and active member of this station. She was complaining that a program that she valued aired in the middle of the day, a time that she is usually not able to listen to the radio. She suggested that it move to an evening spot so that she and “working people” would be able to listen it. I ran through my standard explanation of how it was scheduled (at a time that very little locally produced programming had to be displaced), and added that I had received several calls from working people who loved being able to listen to it while they were at work. She replied that she isn’t able to listen to it at work and went on to ask: “Why not put it on at 7 PM?”
7 PM weeknights just so happens to be the time that the station airs programs collectively known as “The Soul Strip”, a concentration of diverse music programs created by and for African Americans. The shows range from R & B, soul, jazz, hip-hop, rap and the occasional gospel song or two. They also, often, include community news, information and commentary.
I quickly said “I don’t think that that is such a good place for it either, it would displace “The Soul Strip”. I guess that I was hoping that hearing this, she would remember what was airing at 7 PM, know how important that strip of programs is, and pursue another course. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. What did happen was my friend told me “Well, yeah, I just turn the radio off then anyways.” She went on to tell me that people would listen to the new program during the evening. I pointed out that in fact, people are listening to the Soul Strip shows, and that people are listening to the new program on in the middle of the day. My friend re-iterated that she always turns the radio off at 7 PM, another volunteer (also Euro-American) overheard this and agreed—he always turns it off at 7 too.
Questioning white privilege is the responsibility of every Euro-American. That I was hearing from two bright, progressive Euro-Americans who are also friends made me want to first, slap my own head, and second, bang their heads together—I wanted to say, “Gee, mighty whitey of ya.” I wanted to say, “Excuse me, but have you heard what came out of your mouth?” I wanted to say, “Can you explain to me why you should judge what is culturally relevant programming for a community to which you don’t belong?” I wanted to say these things and more… but I didn’t.
Instead, I settled for something more like “You need to realize that when you turn your radio off, others turn it on”.
My Euro friends looked a little confused, and I took my opportunity to escape to another corner of the pub and tipped my pint up.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Ok, this is a multi-part, directive and participatory blog posting.
First read the article posted here:
Full military combat regalia, eh? Well, why not? Perhaps the swat team was experiencing some battle envy, but since going to Iraq is, well, you know, kinda inconvenient, they could just get their war on by terrifying / bashing kids at a concert. Rave / Schmave, these are kids at concerts for christ's sake-- kids that the 90 faux soldiers were, purportedly, protecting and serving by stomping them to the ground and repeatedly kicking them in the ribs. I wonder how many kids would have been injured without the raid, and how many were injured in the raid.... I could do without that sort of protection, thanks anyways. What is up with all that cammo? What message were they (very purposefully) projecting? Is anyone else sick of "our" country declaring wars at home?
I am afraid that this is yet more evidence that we are no longer on a slippery slope to a police state--- we are within a police state, one which uses a somewhat friendlier facism than we have read about in history books or in Orwell, and yet certainly we are no longer in a state where there is pretense of tolerance for those who are "outside the mainstream".
And why target Raves anyways? Could it be because there is a definite theme of unity, bliss, ecstatic dance and sensuality? All of those things hurl rocks at the mirrored walls of a police state. Could that also be behind the war on cannabis?
I want peace, I want justice, I want love to prevail.
In the words of Umar Bin Hassan:
"Peace to those who come to understand that love is all you are and ever will be."
May we all understand this, and understand it soon.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
How upside-down / inside-out can the news possibly be spun?
The story stuck in my craw today revolves around the refusal to disclose 87 additional photos & videos of "detainee abuse" under US occupation at Abu Ghraib. The following is an excerpt from an item posted on Common Dreams from the Inter Press Service:
"In response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and a number of medical and veterans groups demanding release of 87 new videos and photographs depicting detainee abuse at the now infamous prison, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, said the release would result in 'riots, violence and attacks by insurgents.' "
Well, good thing that Myers is looking to de-escalate tensions, no? More from the story:
"He [Myers] believes the release of the photos would 'incite public opinion in the Muslim world and put the lives of American soldiers and officials at risk.' "
OK, correct me if I am wrong here, but the thing that is putting lives of American soldiers and officials at risk is the occupation that the US government has been engaged in since we (with manufactured provocation) trumped up a so-called "coalition of the willing" to invade and attack a sovereign nation because the US government declares it is in our national interest to lay claim to their resources as if they were our own.
” 'The situation on the ground in Iraq is dynamic and dangerous,' Myers added, with 70 insurgent attacks daily.
Dynamic and dangerous, eh? It is a war for chrissake's--of course it is dangerous!
” 'It is probable that Al Qaeda and other groups will seize upon these images and videos as grist for their propaganda mill, which will result in, besides violent attacks, increased terrorist recruitment, continued financial support and exacerbation of tensions between Iraqi and Afghani populaces and U.S. and coalition forces,'[Myer's] said."
Hey, news flash-- you know what can also cause increased violent attacks, terrorist recruitment and an exacerbation of tensions between Iraqi & Afghani populaces and the US & coalition forces? How about the freekin' torture that seems to be pretty much a way of doing business at detention centers?!? Torture that Alberto Gonzalez can justify with the stroke of a pen-- safe, clean and very removed from the brutal and inhuman acts his work supports. He doesn't have to hear the screams. He doesn't have to see the eyes filled with torment, fear and pain.
How dare Myers frame the issue as the ACLU and concerned human rights groups are encouraging terrorism for wanting to expose what some US military and civilian contractors are doing in violation of international conventions-- or that the release of the photos (and not the actions that they depict) will bring violence and ill-will toward US and "coalition" forces.
This is, to me, the crux of the biscuit-- How disingenuous can a guy be? Seems to me that resistance fighters were, well, fighting the US occupying forces well before the first photos of torture were publicly released last year. I mean, if I was worried that seeing pictures of torture might put our troops at risk, shouldn't I be at least as concerned that the act itself might just piss an occupied people off?
Seems to me that if you were truly wanting to end violence against our troops, you would make damn sure that
1) all international conventions were followed carefully in regards to POW treatment, not targeting civilians and the like;
2) all efforts were put into finding a workable and quick exit strategy to take the troops out of harms way;
3) and, oh yeah, you wouldn't constantly expose those same troops to depleted uranium.
Of course, Myers is not in the least bit concerned over the welfare of the troops. He is concerned that the public just might catch on to the fact that the torture of prisoners is not being done by a few bad apples; that 87 additional visual images of torture done by US forces may reveal a distinct and widespread pattern of institutionalized practice.
As Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights points out:
"'The administration's response to the release of the photos is to kill the messenger, rather then to investigate and prosecute the real culprits: Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld, Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, Generals Miller and Sanchez, and others.'
He agreed that 'the photos will be upsetting to anyone who cares about humane treatment and particularly to those in the Muslim world, but the photos reflect the reality of the type of treatment detainees were subjected to.'
'Rather than suppress the best evidence of widespread torture of Muslim detainees, the Administration ought to launch a fully independent investigation and ought to see that an independent prosecutor is appointed,' Ratner told IPS.
He added, 'Ensuring accountability for the torture conspiracy is the best way of demonstrating to the Muslim world that this outrage has come to an end and will not be repeated.' "
I couldn't agree more.
Let the truth be known so that we can call for accountability.
Monday, August 15, 2005
I guess that I want to try to put ideas out there in just about any medium that I can-- hence, I will try my hand at blogging. Goddess knows I have read a few.
So on this, my maiden blog post, I wanted to share my thoughts on solidarity, perhaps the most important concept to embrace at this time.
We certainly are in perilous times. Indeed, that Niemoller quote* doesn't feel very distant.
We should encourage and foster solidarity at every opportunity, because our lives really do depend on it.
Did anyone else notice that a 4-star general was fired for "sexual misconduct" of an undisclosed nature? Say what? Since when does that happen (okay, last time was 10 years ago)?
There's a whole lot of bad will between civilian and military pentagon personnel.
There's a whole lot of bad will between the current administration and the CIA (it's not nice to out your operatives).
There are some interesting high-level tensions happening in that game they play in D.C.. To bad how they play effects each and everyone of us. As for me, I want nothing to do with them. I want to see us outgrow the US government. They have a history of torture, rape, genocide and other nastiness that just doesn't stop.
Oh, and Bush's poll showings are slipping. While on the one hand this makes me ecstatic, on the other, it worries me--because this administration will stop at nothing to distract people from the evil fucking things they do. Anyone see yet another Reichstag smoldering?
We don't need them.
We need each other.
It's time to practice solidarity like our lives depend on it.
*"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist -- so I didn't speak up.
Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat -- so I didn't speak up.
Then they came for the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist -- so I didn't speak up.
Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew -- so I didn't speak up.
Then when they came for me, there was no one left to speak up for me."
-- Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945
(There are many versions of this quote, seems to be some arguement over the order in which the lines came... funny how much folks like to argue... still, in every version I have seen, the meaning is clear-- Why wait? Practice solidarity now!)