Monday, November 26, 2007

Nuclear Annihilation, Anyone?

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' have a metaphorical device called the Doomsday Clock. This clock is set to show how close humanity is to catastrophic destruction, which happens when the clock strikes the figurative midnight. The catastrophic destruction could be brought about in any of a number of ways including nanotechnology and climate change-- however, the primary concern is nuclear weapons.

The year that I graduated from High School, the doomsday clock was at 4 minutes til Midnight, the year after it was 3 minutes 'til midnight-- the closest it has ever been set.

Living under the very real threat of nuclear annihilation as a 15 year old shaped my life in profound ways. It was in large part, why I have prioritized working for peace, as well as my philosophy that I life is to be enjoyed now, like there is no tomorrow--- because I have never really been so sure that there was going to be one.....

Recently on Positively Revolting Talk Radio, I had a chance to interview Norman Solomon. Norman has authored dozens of books, including his latest work, Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters With America's Warfare State, as well as many others. He is a nationally syndicated columnist on media and politics. His book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death has been made into a documentary. Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. And popular rumor has it, some of his first experience with radio was here at KBOO, when Norman lived in Portland during the 1970's.

In Made Love, Got War, Solomon weaves together astute political analysis with wonderfully honest personal memoir, giving context to the political history. It is a book that challenges the reader to take an counting of her/ his own life, making sense of the political world through how it impacted your life, and to take action needed to bring about lasting peace and sustainability.

Our discussion began with a note that the U$ is an "exterminist state" as Daniel Ellsberg called it in his introduction of Solomon's latest book. This distinguishes the U$ from other warfare states, noting that the Dept. of Defense has strategies that include mass exterminations of people, nuclear weapons being used in urban areas (as they were in Japan and as they were targeted during the cold war).

Against the backdrop of the "exterminist state" there is the projection of stability. Solomon offered that it's the mainstream media's job to sell that sense of normalcy. Solomon quickly pointed out the rise in television programs like "Father Knows Best", as the world wrestled with the uncertainties of the new nuclear age.

The calm assurance of business as usual, as promoted in corporate media, contrasted with the reality that our current administration has continuously

kept nuclear military options on the table (and uses scores of tons of depleted uranium in weapons) makes for one hell of a disconnect.

Norman Solomon emphasized the importance of using independent media, and holding media accountable to report accurately.

In Made Love, Got War, Solomon cites author Jeff Nuttall, who wrote of the difference between the generation that were post adolescent when the U$ used the A-Bomb on Japan, vs those who were younger than that. According to Nuttall, people that were already through adolescence when the U$ nuked Japan plan for the future; the folks that were pre-adolescent during that moment (or, like myself, were yet to be born) were unable to realistically picture their future. Tomorrow was uncertain at best.

And now, the generation coming of age is once again doing so under a renewed threat of nuclear war, and certainly a spreading global war of aggression. While once the U$ presidents spoke of sure victory and U$ strength, we now have a who tells the public that we must be prepared for a war on terror that has no end, and that it is our patriotic duty to go shopping. The Doomsday Clock has crept back to 5 minutes to midnight.

For the sake of our future, for the sake of our earth, now is the time to get active; no time like the present to resist the death cult. The madmen in the ruling elite are willing to risk everything if it means that they get to continue to consolidate their power and wealth.

It is up to each and every one of us to demand accountability-- impeachment is a good start; after that the war crimes tribunals would be a great idea.

It's up to each of us to demand peace, and money for human needs.

Ya basta.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Remembering the 5th (and 6th) of November

I want to start with some high praise for Dennis Kucinich. At last, a representative has introduced the idea into public debate that Cheney should be removed from office. The 11-page resolution said that Cheney violated his "constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of vice president." Further, it states that Cheney "purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the U.S. Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests."

According to the associated press, the resolution also charged that Cheney purposely deceived the nation about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida and has "openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran absent any real threat to the United States."

It's like someone broke the silence in a dysfunctional family. And much like a dysfunctional family, instead of looking at the actual content of the case against Cheney, the buzz is all about how democrats will be able to escape potential political fall out by side stepping any real action. After all, the reasoning goes, democrats will be embarrassed by being accused of being partisan, during a time of war. Huh???!!!??? As if the embarrassment here actually belongs to the silence breakers, and not to the treasonous Cheney who pardons some friends, while shooting other friends in the face (and then gets the aforementioned shot friend to apologize for the stress that he must have caused Lord Cheney, by intercepting shot pellets with his face!). This is the same Cheney who has lied repeatedly in service to the neo-cons and to sell the Iraq war. Who should feel shame here?

I am dumbfounded at the reticence of the democrats to impeach Cheney or Bush. For the love of Christ, these rogues have shredded the constitution, normalized the idea of the homeland and all of the hyper state security practices that would have been nearly unthinkable just 10 years ago, and skyrocketed the deficit while gutting the country's infrastructure (and feathering the nests of their cronies). Neither Cheney nor Bush enjoy popular support, indeed, they have some of the strongest disapproval ratings on record, and the democrats have a majority in the legislature. If this isn't the time to move forward with impeachment, when is? When will it be convenient to seek justice? When is it convenient to speak truth to power? Is it any wonder that I gave up on democrats many years ago? Could anyone tell me why they haven't, yet?

According to an article in the LA Times:
"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and her lieutenants maneuvered to avoid a bruising floor fight. Such a clash would have forced Democrats to choose between their liberal base, which might cheer a Cheney impeachment, and a broader electorate, which might view the resolution as a partisan game in a time of war.

With the vote technically slated to last 15 minutes, she held voting open for more than an hour and finally forced the measure to an uncertain future in the committee.
That referral effectively shelved the issue for now, but not before the resolution's sponsor, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, a far-left Ohio Democrat running for president, had a chance to read into the record three articles of impeachment against the vice president."

Partisan game??? Pointing out that there is ample documentation to find that Cheney has been a big part of manipulating information (some call that lying) in order to justify a war with no end in sight, wherein we have lost nearly 4,000 US troops, and have killed well over 100,000 Iraqis? Partisan gaming, however, seems to be alive and well. Even as the democrats tried to dodge the resolution, several republicans voted to bring it to an immediate floor vote. The apparent reasoning was that this appearance of partisanship behavior would be so damaging to the democrats, that the republicans wanted to push it to the vote quickly. How could they think that's partisan gaming, and not an admirable call to accountability and justice meted out at even the highest level of government?

Again, according to the LA Times:
"If the judiciary committee were to vote on any of the impeachment articles, the issue would then go to the House floor. If the House were to vote to impeach Cheney, the Senate could try him and, with a two-thirds vote, remove him from office. 'This vote sends a message that the administration's conduct in office is no longer unchallenged,' Kucinich said afterward. Predicting that the judiciary committee will be forced by public opinion to hold hearings, he added, 'Hopefully, it will have a restraining effect on this administration to stop this madness.'

Four Democrats joined Kucinich to vote against sending the impeachment resolution to committee.

They included Reps. Bob Filner of Chula Vista and Maxine Waters of Los Angeles."

This is an important time for action. Call your congressional rep and tell them that this is the proper focus for the legislature, that shame is due those who dodged difficult issues in favor of easy politicking, that we need accountability in our administration. Billy Bragg said it well, "No Power Without Accountability" – what's so hard about that concept? It's a part of the bedrock of our governance, but now, if we are to believe Pelosi and her ilk, political expediency is more important to our country—after all, we are in a time of war; a war that Cheney's lies justified and sold. Nice full circle.

On another (?) topic, being raised with a rather heavy English influence, I have always been aware of Guy Fawkes Day. My mother taught me the poem when I was small:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

She would tell me of the celebrations, burning Fawkes in effigy at the bonfires ("Penny for the Guy?"), all to commemorate that his plan to blow up parliament failed.

I don't think that I would have appreciated Guy's personal politics, myself. He and other co-conspirators were undertaking this act as disenfranchised Catholics in a rather newly protestant England. Given the Catholic's view on witches, heretics and women, I doubt that we would have seen eye to eye. And yet, and yet…… in my heart of hearts, when my mother recited the rhymes and told her stories, my loyalties always lied with Fawkes.

Fast-forward about 380 years, or so—to a time of graphic novels in the late 1980's. Drawing from the draconian nature of Thatcher government, Alan Moore and David Lloyd created ­V for Vendetta, a dystopic tale of concentrated and corrupt power, where dissent is not tolerated and rule is maintained with an iron fist through the mechanism of keeping a populace totally afraid—even if it means the government has to manipulate facts and events to do so (sound familiar? See above). Given that V was written in the Thatcher era, it is uncanny how very transferable the situation is with current issues.

The protagonist of the graphic novel is a man named V—who embarks on a massive counter propaganda campaign to break through that paralyzing blanket of fear that keeps citizen's sheepish. His suggestion to create change? For all people who want to create change, to cast off the fear that binds them in inaction allowing fascism to rule, to come together on Guy Fawkes Night, in a show of force & solidarity while he blows up parliament.

If you haven't read V for Vendetta I suggest it, heavily! The Multnomah County Library carries it—really, it's good. There was a film adaptation released a couple of years ago, which is also good, though I generally prefer books, and the graphic novels have far more detail. That said, I celebrated Guy Fawkes Day with a viewing of the DVD, and fell in love with V (the story and character) all over again.

And finally, tonight is the seventh anniversary of my father's death. Joseph was one of the most caring men I have ever met. He loved me unconditionally, and was supportive of every endeavor I undertook, whether he understood me or not. He was a pretty simple guy, raised in the depression in Michigan. He loved country music, honky tonk, old timey and bluegrass. He was kind and he loved animals, feeding raccoons out of his hands nightly; he delighted when "his" raccoons would bring a new generation along to meet him--he gave them names and would talk about them with concern if he hadn't seen a regular for a while.

He died at the age of 81, from a fast acting form of cancer that he acquired from having worked with asbestos as a carpenter.

I miss him.

Joseph, presentè.
Joseph, presentè.
Joseph, presentè.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

About Characteristics of Fascism and the US

About the Characteristics of Fascism and the US

Right, I've said it before, and unfortunately, I find myself saying it again-- the US is plodding down the road to fascism. Alert the media.... oh, that's right, the corporate owned press is part of the problem. As Bruce Fraser and Elliot D. Cohen write about in their book, The Last Days of Democracy: How Big Media and a Power Hungry Government are Turning America into a Dictatorship, the interlocking personnel and interests between the mega communications corporations, global PR concerns and the neo-con cabinet of the Bush/Cheney administration is one way that the ruling elite are getting away with the consolidation of power through the never ending war of terror.

Laurence Britt
, Naomi Wolf and others have laid out the major characteristics of a fascist nation. Please, check these articles out, it behooves us to not be ahistorical. Examine these characteristics, and think about the fascistic regimes of history.

And while examining that, consider this: last week congress pass a resolution, entitled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. That resolution passed the house last Friday, October 26th, with 404 yes votes, and 6 no votes. In case you are interested, all 6 of oregon's reps voted for it. Thats right:
Aye OR-1 Wu, David [D]
Aye OR-2 Walden, Greg [R]
Aye OR-3 Blumenauer, Earl [D]
Aye OR-4 DeFazio, Peter [D]
Aye OR-5 Hooley, Darlene [D]

Oh, yes, all of Washington's reps voted for it, too.The resolution's troubling aspects really begin for me with the definitions of terms. I quote from the resolution:


`For purposes of this subtitle:

`(1) COMMISSION- The term `Commission' means the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism established under section 899C.

`(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.

`(3) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- The term `homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

`(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.

Please note that violence and force are not defined in this section. Further note that force and violence are separated in the definition (4).

I interviewed Alan Graf about this act. He is a lawyer who has been involved with the National Lawyers Guild for many years. When I asked him what the difference was between force, as used in this resolution, and non-violent direct action used by peace and justice seeking activists, he paused for a moment, then said, "well, none".

You can read the text of the legislation on the site. Search for HR 1955, and then choose the version that was passed by house, received by senate-- it's number 4. Read it for yourselves, please.

How can we continue to "fight the good fight", and not be overwhelmed? What strategies can we develop to maintain opposition in these draconian times--- when folks who are being nominated for attorney general aren't sure if waterboarding is a form of torture....

Okay, again I have to remind us all not to let fear overwhelm us into inaction. ACTION is the anti-dote to despair. The bumpersticker speaks truth when it reads "your silence will not protect you." How can we be a part of the solution, be the change that we want to see in the world?

How do we create and practice solidarity like our lives depend upon it?

How do we continue to seek out and experience joy, in the midst of this madness?

As we go through the unknown, remember to love each other, and dance, and laugh; even as we keep our eyes open, and resist the death cult.