21 June 2007

On the Road

Orange Flower
I'm on the road and I forgot my electrical cord and adapter for my laptop. So I won't be updating this blog much for the next week or so. Or checking my email. I am going to learn how to breath again. maybe. Smile! My cell phone will be on though.

Hopefully I will have a few good photographs to share when I return. Until then, peace and truth!

20 June 2007

17 June 2007

Close Guantanamo Bay Prison for the Right Reasons

This reason is not one of the right reasons to close Guantanamo Bay:

The right reasons include habeas corpus - the right to a fair trial. The men and boys being held at Guantanamo may not be guilty of plotting against the USA. It is unfair, as well as immoral and inhumane to confine a person when there is no justification to do so. Essentially, once confined, the confinement must be justified in a timely manner.

16 June 2007

The Graduate

Well, it took me a while, but I did it. I graduated from college today and commenced upon a new phase in my life. It's exciting and I think it will feel more real tomorrow after I have slept on it.

I'm a college graduate!
The GraduateMy sister Susie took this photo (thanks!) Her website is causeyoucan.blogspot.com

14 June 2007

Marketing a War: the Use of Fear

The Bush Administration has deliberately worked to install fear in the minds of Americans so as to create an environment where their crooked war - their attack on Iraq - was (and is) passable:
go to original

Marketing an Invasion
How to Sell a War


This essay is excerpted from Cockburn and St. Clair's new book on the death of the mainstream media: End Times.

The war on Iraq won't be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold. It was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as "weapons of mass destruction" and "rogue state" were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us.

To understand the Iraq war you don't need to consult generals, but the spin doctors and PR flacks who stage-managed the countdown to war from the murky corridors of Washington where politics, corporate spin and psy-ops spooks cohabit.

Consider the picaresque journey of Tony Blair's plagiarized dossier on Iraq, from a grad student's website to a cut-and-paste job in the prime minister's bombastic speech to the House of Commons. Blair, stubborn and verbose, paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush, who looted whole passages from Blair's speech for his own clumsy presentations, has skated freely through the tempest. Why?

Unlike Blair, the Bush team never wanted to present a legal case for war. They had no interest in making any of their allegations about Iraq hold up to a standard of proof. The real effort was aimed at amping up the mood for war by using the psychology of fear.
Old-fashioned diplomacy involves direct communication between representatives of nations, a conversational give and take, often fraught with deception (see April Glaspie), but an exchange nonetheless. Public diplomacy, as defined by Beers, is something else entirely. It's a one-way street, a unilateral broadcast of American propaganda directly to the public, domestic and international, a kind of informational carpet-bombing.

The themes of her campaigns were as simplistic and flimsy as a Bush press conference. The American incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq were all about bringing the balm of "freedom" to oppressed peoples. Hence, the title of the U.S. war: Operation Iraqi Freedom, where cruise missiles were depicted as instruments of liberation. Bush himself distilled the Beers equation to its bizarre essence: "This war is about peace."

12 June 2007

Comfortability in Protest

Seattle Pigeon
The following is an excerpt of a rough draft of an article that I am working on about creative nonviolence and hostile protest behavior:

Belligerent sloganeering and hostile speech make me feel uncomfortable. If the goal is a mass movement – a peoples’ movement – a grass roots movement, then there will need to be masses of people. But it will be hard to amass the necessary number of individuals if people feel uncomfortable in the protest environment. Instead of shouting abrasive slogans it would be more effective to demonstrate an attitude of understanding. We have the ability to create a more comfortable environment for protest. We can create a welcoming atmosphere. How can we be most effective? By having a critical mass of people in the streets. By having people who are committed and willing to participate in life-serving acts of creative nonviolence. How can we find this critical mass? We can promote the formation of a critical mass by developing a comfortable, welcoming, and fun environment. Creating a comfortable and respectful protest environment truly embraces a diversity of tactics. More people will be likely to bring their children, for example, or participate in actions of sacrifice or nonviolent physical obstruction, like roadblocks, if there is a peaceful environment. Shouting profanities, vulgarities and slurs works counter to the creation of a peaceful environment.

Madison Scenic

Downtown Olympia and the Black Hills from Madison Scenic Park:
Madison Scenic Panorama

09 June 2007

Flower Power

Flower Power
Demands v. Requests

I respond much more reasonably to requests compared to demands. It is easier to respond to a request. And if the request is reasonable in itself it's all the more persuasive.

Demands can be difficult to respond to. When someone makes a demand of me, it is not unusual for the hair on the back of my neck to rise - and a reactive resentment might also develop.

Even if the demand is "reasonable" there can be tensions associated with it. For example, if someone tells me to clean up a mess that I have made. It's reasonable to expect me to clean it up. But if someone just tells me to - orders me to - then I might feel some hostility about it. Even if it makes sense that I should clean it up because it's my responsibility to clean up after myself.

But if someone says, "will you please clean up your mess," in a respectful tone - it makes it easier for me to do it. I don't feel bossed around.

If I don't respond to the initial request, the person making the request might ask me when I will clean up my mess. Or he/she could ask why I am not cleaning it up - what am I waiting for?

08 June 2007

Peace and Creative Nonviolence

Golden Hill
Golden Hill

It's important to recognize all the hard work that people are doing. These days just thinking about the affairs of the world - and dealing with the consequent feelings - is hard work. Basically, unless you are totally tuned out and in your own little zone of zombie-like mindlessness - convinced that everything is hunky-dory - then you are doing hard work. Just to stay sane in this fucked up world is hard work.

Thinking Globally and Acting Locally is a worthwhile concept. There seems to be the greatest potential for effectiveness with local efforts.

I am going to write more about this hopefully. I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about "nonviolence," specifically creative nonviolence - defined as that which "serves life." This is in contrast to destructive actions, which are hurtful and divisive.

I think that the future of social change is in the potential for creative nonviolence to effect true change - even a societal transformation. What we need is to begin to appreciate each other for our own intrinsic worthiness - we are human beings and we are endowed with a human spirit. It is time to realize that we are all sufficient solely in that being. The fact that we are human beings with human spirits is enough. It provides reason enough for treating each other with basic respect.

When I was in Tacoma (for the special operations west weapons expo) I was able to make some observations about the use of hateful and antagonistic behavior toward the weapons contractors (or employees thereof.)

What I saw was a separation. I saw an increase in hostility - an escalation. I saw division. That's not going to help bring people together to face our common challenges. I think that real change will happen when we build bridges and make effort to understand each other and respect each other for each of our own basic humanity.

07 June 2007

Potential for Peace

Emerald Hill
Emerald Hill
We live in a world where events reverberate. Actions bounce off of each other like waves, sometimes building on each other, sometimes canceling out.

It is important to realize that everything is interconnected. I intend to promote the development of a peaceful society on Earth. Therefore it is important for me to consider how my actions will lend themselves to the prospect for peace. Even the very smallest of actions can trigger a chain reaction - a cascade. The potential for future peace rests in every genuine interaction, in kind and thoughtful gestures, in words truthfully spoken - truth spoken to power. Cascades of peace.

Keep speaking truth to power. Keep looking toward beautiful. Keep hope for a better world, a just world, a true world - alive. Keep telling the truth. A better world is possible. And working for a better world is worthwhile - it's where it's at.

06 June 2007

The Path to Peace

The way to peace - the way to a better world - is creative nonviolence. Violence is destructive. Violence does harm. The consistent and persistent practice of a nonviolent life and life-serving actions will eventually result in the development of peaceful societies.

Or else humanity will just continue along the same pattern, these cycles of unstable rise and fall. If we do not rise above violence and hate, we are destined for ultimate poverty as we continue to do harm both to each other, and to the Earth.

We must learn to appreciate each other for our intrinsic human qualities. I am human, and that is enough. I am sufficient in my own being. And so are you.

Buzzing around

Red, White and Blue

Flowers for Peace
Dedicated to Karl Rove:

05 June 2007

Peace is Possible



It's not a matter of if. It's a matter of when.
There is no way to peace - peace is the way.

How do you contribute to the development of peace?

02 June 2007

Flowers for Peace

This Flower is For Peace

Pro-Peace Flower:
Instead of war, I declare peace...

Anti-Empire Flower

This flower is against the empire:

"We're an empire now and when we act we create our own reality."

Karl Rove, aka "Turd Blossom," is widely believed to be "Bush's Brain." Rove is a key rhetoritician in the Bush Administration and he can take credit for a lot of the Administration's radical political strategies. That's important to understand. The Bush Administration is radical. It is using the might of the US government and military to wage war for the benefit of corporations. It is rolling back environmental protections, and instituting a horribly regressive tax structure. I could go on and on about my disagreements with the Bush Administration's policies and strategies. But instead, I'll point you to Tom Englehardt's Tomdispatch.com, where you can find Mark Danner's recent epistle on the Executive Rhetoric, from a "reality-based" point of view:
go to original

...in September 2003, the rhetorical construction known as the War on Terror was already two years old and that very real war to which it gave painful birth, the war in Iraq, was just hitting its half-year mark. Indeed, the Iraq War had already ended once, in that great victory scene on the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of San Diego, where the President, clad jauntily in a flight suit, had swaggered across the flight deck and, beneath a banner famously marked "Mission Accomplished," had declared: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

Of the great body of rich material encompassed by my theme today -- "Words in a Time of War" -- surely those words of George W. Bush must stand as among the era's most famous, and most rhetorically unstable. For whatever they may have meant when the President uttered them on that sunny afternoon of May 1, 2003, they mean something quite different today, almost exactly four years later. The President has lost control of those words, as of so much else.
Critical to this strange and unlikely history were the administration's peculiar ideas about power and its relation to reality -- and beneath that a familiar imperial attitude, if put forward in a strikingly crude and harsh form: "We're an empire now and when we act we create our own reality." Power, untrammeled by law or custom; power, unlimited by the so-called weapons of the weak, be they international institutions, courts, or terrorism -- power can remake reality. It is no accident that one of Karl Rove's heroes is President William McKinley, who stood at the apex of America's first imperial moment, and led the country into a glorious colonial adventure in the Philippines that was also meant to be the military equivalent of a stroll in the park and that, in the event, led to several years of bloody insurgency -- an insurgency, it bears noticing, that was only finally put down with the help of the extensive use of torture, most notably water-boarding, which has made its reappearance in the imperial battles of our own times.
...the weapons were a rhetorical prop and, satisfying as it has been to see the administration beaten about the head with that prop, we forget this underlying fact at our peril. The issue was never whether the weapons were there or not; indeed, had the weapons really been the issue, why could the administration not let the UN inspectors take the time to find them (as, of course, they never would have)? The administration needed, wanted, had to have, the Iraq war. The weapons were but a symbol, the necessary casus belli, what Hitchcock called the Maguffin -- that glowing mysterious object in the suitcase in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction: that is, a satisfyingly concrete object on which to fasten a rhetorical or narrative end, in this case a war to restore American prestige, project its power, remake the Middle East.
How, in these "words in a time of war," can I convey to you the reality of that place at this time? Let me read to you a bit of an account from a young Iraqi woman of how that war has touched her and her family, drawn from a newsroom blog. The words may be terrible and hard to bear, but -- for those of you who have made such a determined effort to learn to read and understand -- this is the most reality I could find to tell you. This is what lies behind the headlines and the news reports and it is as it is.
"We were asked to send the next of kin to whom the remains of my nephew, killed on Monday in a horrific explosion downtown, can be handed over...

"So we went, his mum, his other aunt and I...

"When we got there, we were given his remains. And remains they were. From the waist down was all they could give us. ‘We identified him by the cell phone in his pants' pocket. If you want the rest, you will just have to look for yourselves. We don't know what he looks like.'

"…We were led away, and before long a foul stench clogged my nose and I retched. With no more warning we came to a clearing that was probably an inside garden at one time; all round it were patios and rooms with large-pane windows to catch the evening breeze Baghdad is renowned for. But now it had become a slaughterhouse, only instead of cattle, all around were human bodies. On this side; complete bodies; on that side halves; and everywhere body parts.

"We were asked what we were looking for; ‘upper half' replied my companion, for I was rendered speechless. ‘Over there.' We looked for our boy's broken body between tens of other boys' remains; with our bare hands sifting them and turning them.

"Millennia later we found him, took both parts home, and began the mourning ceremony."
The foregoing were words from an Iraqi family, who find themselves as far as they can possibly be from the idea that, when they act, they create their own reality -- that they are, as Bush's Brain put it, "history's actors." The voices you heard come from history's objects and we must ponder who the subjects are, who exactly is acting upon them.
Thanks for that insightful oratory, Mark Danner.

The nation and congress were misled into the invasion of Iraq. It's time to bring the truth to the fore and begin the process of reconciliation and remediation. A good first step would be to hold those responsible for this terrible breach of the public trust to account for their actions.

Certainly an uphill climb awaits. But that does not justify dalliance. I, at least, hold them accountable.

01 June 2007

Still Looking for WMD in Iraq

Why did the US invade Iraq? Wasn't it because Iraq posed a threat to US National Security via WMD? Well no WMD has been found in over four years of occupation. The chances of finding a significant enough cache that might have threatened the US is getting smaller by the day.

We already heard (via the Downing Street Memo) how the facts were being fixed to the policy of invading Iraq. It looks more and more like WMD was simply one of those "facts" that grew out of a fiction. And it was used, in violation of the public trust, to justify invading Iraq. In that light, the invasion was an attack - an aggressive invasion - an belligerent act of war.

Hideous. Read about the continuing mission to discover WMD in Iraq:
go to original

Though Work Is Seen as Irrelevant, Security Council Can't Agree to End It

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 2, 2007; A01

UNITED NATIONS -- More than four years after the fall of Baghdad, the United Nations is spending millions of dollars in Iraqi oil money to continue the hunt for Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Every weekday, at a secure commercial office building on Manhattan's East Side, a team of 20 U.N. experts on chemical and biological weapons pores over satellite images of former Iraqi weapons sites. They scour the international news media for stories on Hussein's deadly arsenal. They consult foreign intelligence agencies on the status of Iraqi weapons. And they maintain a cadre of about 300 weapons experts from 50 countries and prepare them for inspections in Iraq -- inspections they will almost certainly never conduct, in search of weapons that few believe exist.

The inspectors acknowledge that their chief task -- disarming Iraq -- was largely fulfilled long ago. But, they say, their masters at the U.N. Security Council have been unable to agree to either shut down their effort or revise their mandate to make their work more relevant. Russia insists that Iraq's disarmament must be formally confirmed by the inspectors, while the United States vehemently opposes a U.N. role in Iraq, saying coalition inspectors have already done the job.

"I recognize this is unhealthy," said Dimitri Perricos, a Greek weapons expert who runs the team, known as the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), and manages its $10 million annual budget. But, he added, "we are not the ones who are holding the purse; the one who is holding the purse is the council."

There was a time when the work of U.N. weapons inspectors on Iraq was the stuff of front-page news and impassioned speeches by world leaders. President Bush even argued that Hussein's refusal to cooperate with U.N. inspectors offered legal backing for the 2003 invasion.

But the inspectors' primary mission -- ridding Hussein's regime of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons -- has become irrelevant since a U.S.-led coalition toppled the Iraqi leader and discovered that his government had destroyed its most lethal weapons shortly after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

"The reality on the ground is there is no WMD there," said Charles Duelfer, a former U.N. weapons inspector who published the landmark 2004 report of the CIA-led Iraq Survey Group, which concluded that Iraq's weapons had been destroyed. "I think they understand the distance their work is from reality."