27 December 2008

Thank You!

Thank You!

Imagine that the troops are actually doing the work that they are popularly claimed to be doing (though not without reasonable controversy) - that is, protecting us from irrational terrorists, (the "bad guys,") whom are bent upon destruction of our way of life (we're the "good guys!") Assuming that's the case, then hell yeah - thanks for protecting us.

But then again, what if it's not so simple—not so clear. What if the truth is something different than that reality as presented so often in mainstream media. What if the troops are actually protecting US access to global mineral resources? What if the troops are actually enabling the execution of a foreign policy of dominance? Should we still thank them if it turns out that they aren't protecting us? What if the truth is that they are actually protecting the interests of oil companies, war contractors, and the likes of Halliburton, et al.?

The reality on the ground—the truth as I see it, is that the USA is pursuing a foreign policy of dominance. That's to say that the goal of the US government is to enable domination of the global economy by US and Western, and other associated interests.

It can also be rightly stated and understood that the US attack on Iraq was unprovoked. And even though the attack of Afghanistan was (arguably) provoked by the 9/11 attacks, it also doesn't mean that the attack was justified (either by law or by legitimate defensive strategy.)

The greatest crime is a foreign policy of dominance as it seeks to employ the means of violence, militarism and aggression in order to accomplish it's oppressive ends. This dominance policy is a foreign policy of might makes right, and it would be absolutely intolerable if it was being practiced against "us" rather than by "us." (''Us" in quotes because of my desire to separate myself from the dreadfully wrong foreign policy of my government.)

The above sign is a sticker as it was seen on the front door of a restaurant in Northern Wisconsin (where, perhaps coincidentally, my long beard received plenty of stares.)

So, Thank You. Thank you to those soldiers who refuse to serve in illegal and immoral imperial wars of aggression. You're the real heroes. You're the ones who dutifully uphold your oath of service, your oath to the constitution.

To those troops who serve either willingly or unwillingly, I am so sad. And I am sorry that you have been thrust into this horrible position. I will continue to work to hold our government accountable so that the military is not used to further aggressive and intrusive foreign policy agendas.

More resources:

Courage to Resist

Thankyou Lt. Ehren Watada

Free the Shministim (Israel's Young Conscientious Objectors)

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Against the War

24 December 2008

Happy Holy Days!

Snowy Twigs

Happy Holy Days: Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Chanukah, and Solstice, or whatever other celebration / festivity you might partake in.

Peace on Earth!

17 December 2008

Olympia, Washington: Envision an Isthmus Park

Imagine a Park to stretch across the entire isthmus of downtown Olympia.

It would be:

- A monument to public interest.

- A magnet to attract visitors, residents and investors.

- A signal to young people — that this community cares about the common interest of taking concerted action toward genuine and true sustainability, and environmental protection.

Please don't cater to the special interests of wealthy developers, or to the potential residents of an upper-class luxury condominium!

Envision an isthmus dedicated to an inclusive and accessible public space, and to the protection and restoration of damaged ecosystems.

Some Personal Favorite Photographs

Personal Faves Flickr Set

14 December 2008

Violence is the Problem, Not the Solution

Violence is the Problem, NOT the SolutionWe have a choice. We can work to create a life-serving culture of peace, justice, truth, nonviolence, sustainability, fairness, equity, inclusiveness, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, (and etc.).

Or we can continue to engage in the current system with all of its harmful aspects - damage, degradation and destruction to the Earth, to Humanity and to much of the natural flora and fauna of the planet.

The Revered James Lawson said, "Violence has not brought peace to our lives." Indeed, he is proven correct.

Albert Einstein said that "We cannot solve our problems with the same type of thinking that created them."

So, what type of thinking has created these problems? These types of thinking are responsible for creating many of the problems we face: dominance (human v. nature, human v. human), conquest, limitless growth.

It is insane to think that economic growth can solve the economic woes of our day. Instead, the real economic solutions exist in downsizing, in localizing, in curtailment and in sharing.

Violence is the problem, not the solution. Economic growth is the problem, not the solution.

I am going to think about how to fix this world, so that it is not left battered and bruised and utterly abused to members of generations forthcoming. What types of thinking and social/economic practices can and will lead to healing and remedy in the broken and abusive relationship between humanity and the natural world? What types of changes are you willing to make?

Peace be with you on this journey.

07 December 2008

Isthmus 2008 Slideshow

The isthmus area of downtown Olympia, Washington is at the center of a very controversial proposal to change zoning regulations. A private developer, Triway Enterprises, has proposed an increase of existing building height limitations.

Triway has also proposed the subsequent building of a massive super-structural luxury "up-class" mixed use condominium/retail development on the narrow strip of land that separates the Deschutes River (Capitol "Lake") from Budd Inlet and the Puget Sound.

The Olympia City Council is poised to vote on the controversial rezone amendment within the next two weeks. Here's a slideshow of isthmus and isthmus-related photos.

See full-size photos with more information: Isthmus 2008

More information is also available at OlyBlog.net.

06 December 2008

It's Peace!

"It's Peace!"
[cross-posted from flickr]
photo by Bob Ziegler

We declare peace. Not war.

We declare peace instead of war.

Humankind has engaged in war and other acts of violence for centuries, if not millenia. Thus far, neither war nor violence has brought any lasting or true peace to our lives. War isn't working; it has not resulted in peace. War is not the answer.

Do the ends justify the means? I believe that they, the ends, do not justify the means.

Rather, the means inform the ends. The means create the ends. If we want a peaceful end, then we must utilize peaceful means. The means are the ends.

So if we want peace, then we must live peacefully. Peace is, indeed, the way.

Too often war is pursued with the idea of peace as end product. The problem is that war is coercive and violent. War is often times the end product of policies or mindsets that are exploitative and domineering. Throughout human history, war has not brought a truly peaceful condition to society.

So, peace must be understand as not only an end, but also the means to an end. Peace is the way! Declare it! Ask yourself how you can live peacefully - please, for the sake of the health and prosperity of the planet and future generations. Can you do that?

Some questions that we all deserve to ask of ourselves are:

"Do I have peace in my life?"

"Is my lifestyle peaceful?"

"Do my actions promote or inhibit a peaceful society?"

John Woolman, an American Quaker who lived from 1720 to 1772 asked that we may examine our material possessions to determine if they contain nourishment for the seeds of war.

War has not brought peace to our lives. Indeed, violence has not brought peace to our lives.

Peaceful means; practicing peace in daily life; understanding peace not only as and end, but as a means to an end: therein lies hope and possibility.

Living peacefully also feels good. It really does. Being open and honest, looking each other in the eye, making eye contact with strangers, exchanging friendly and warm greetings, demonstrating and exuding positive regards for others, friends, foes, neighbors and strangers - each alike: the path to peace awaits.

We, members of humanity, are connected. All of us are inextricably interconnected. We are connected with each other. And we are connected with the bio-sphere - that thin and relatively fragile layer where life on Earth persists.

We have the power to make, and we have the power to break.

Reverend James Lawson said that violence has not brought peace to our lives. History proves him correct.

But perhaps, now, in the 21st century, there is the possibility to learn from our mistakes and make real substantive changes. Perhaps in the pursuit of truly peaceful and nonviolent means (economic and political) we can find the very real possibility of a genuine outbreak of peace.

Dear friends and neighbors, acquaintances and strangers, have hope. Have hope in the development of peaceful and nonviolent daily modes of operation. Have hope in the creation of social structures, customs and institutions that are based in the wisdom of kindness, moral reciprocity (the Golden Rule), truth, compassion, and nonviolence.

We can reject meanness. For example, we can decide to refuse to say things about other people that we would not say to directly them face to face. We have the power to make real substantive changes in our own lives. And we have the power to change the world. We can create a way of life that respects life. We can heal ourselves. We can heal the world. We can.

It's Peace. I declare it.

With love,

05 December 2008

John Woolman

John Woolman (1720 - 1772) was an American Quaker:
May we look upon our Treasures, and the furniture of our Houses, and the Garments in which we array ourselves, and try whether the seeds of war have any nourishment in these possessions or not.
Yes, indeed! Let us examine our material possessions to see if, in them, exists the seeds of war!

Dorothy Day

"Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy rotten system." - Dorothy Day

"The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?" - Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement in 1933.

More information from Wikipedia: Dorothy Day
Dorothy Day (November 8, 1897 – November 29, 1980) was an American journalist turned anarchist, social activist and ultimately a devout Catholic. She became known for her social justice campaigns in defense of the poor, forsaken, hungry and homeless. Day, with Peter Maurin, founded the Catholic Worker movement in 1933, espousing nonviolence, and hospitality for the impoverished and downtrodden.
photo by Bob Fitch

02 December 2008

30 November 2008

Power of Community

I already published this video on this blog, but it's worth posting again. It is about how the nation of Cuba survived a crisis similar to Peak Oil, in 1991, when imports from the Soviet Union ceased (upon collapse of the U.S.S.R..) The film explores how the Cuban people adjusted, specifically in terms of local economic solutions.

Many of the same solutions could be applied to societies elsewhere, if we were to make conscious changes, and a decision to move away from an economic infrastructure that is based on and utterly dependent on petroleum resources. Petroleum is a finite resource. It will run out. Whether it is in 30, 50, 100, or 300 years (or however long), there will come a time when we will not have access to petroleum.

What will fuel our economy and our every day lives? To what will we turn?

I argue that we would be better off to make these decisions, to make appropriate changes, without a (metaphorical) gun pointed toward our heads. Already, we are embroiled in wars over resources. Many people suffer and die because of domestic demand for petroleum. It's unethical to kill people over resources. The technology exists for an altruistic and enlightened society. Let us make changes that will benefit ourselves, and indeed all of humankind and future generations.

link to film on internet: http://www.livevideo.com/video/mercofspeech/CD893609A0CB495D9A9CF04AC9E4AEFF/power-of-community-how-cuba-.aspx

24 November 2008

Going by Berd

I'm now calling myself and going by, "Berd." It's a conjunction of Robert Friend. Drop the R-o, then pick up the b-e-r, then drop the F-r-i-e-n, and finally pick up the d! Make the b upper case and there you go.

Berd. Your's Truly.

19 November 2008

A Few Photos

Mountain Overseer
Mountain Overseer

Sunlit Forest
Sunlit Forest

Tree Detail
Tree Detail

Mount Rainier View
Mount Rainier View (Currently endangered by proposed zoning changes and development, more information: Isthmus (even though it's not an isthmus) 2008)

17 November 2008

Polished Steel

Stainless Steel Close-up
Stainless Steel Close-up

Here's another perspective of the electrical generator turbine runner unit:
Turbine Runner Unit
Turbine Runner

And more information about the "runner:"
Glen Canyon Turbine Information

14 November 2008

Support Women's Resistance to War

I support the Oly 26, a group comprised mostly of women who are being persecuted for their resistance, in November of 2007, to the ongoing illegal occupation of Iraq.

Civil Resistance - Nonviolent Direct Action

10 November 2008

It's Not Too Late to Impeach! Please Call your Congressional Representative

I sent the following note out to some of my contacts today:
I just called the office of my Congressman, Brian Baird, to advocate impeachment. His Washington D.C. office telephone number is (202) 225-3536.

What did I say in specific? Well first I sincerely told the staffer who answered the phone: "good afternoon." Then I asked to speak directly with Congressman Baird: "Is Congressman Baird available?" To which the staffer replied quite rudely: he asked what I was calling about before informing me that Mr. Baird was busy "in a meeting."

I told him that I was calling with a message about impeaching President Bush and Vice-President Cheney.

When he said that Baird was busy, I left the staffer a more detailed message. It went something like this:
I urge Congressman Baird to support holding President Bush and the Office of the Executive, including Vice-President Cheney, accountable for various alleged criminal actions, malfeasances, and improprieties relating to the function of their official duties. We need to hold them accountable if we are truly a nation of laws and ideals, and not a nation dictated by the will of men.

I believe that impeachment will benefit all Americans. I urge the Congressman to sign on as a supporter of Congressman Kucinich's 35 articles of impeachment. Impeachment will be possible with enough support from Congressional Representatives, like Congressman Baird.
Then I said thank you to the staffer for making sure to deliver the message to the Congressman.

Please try it for yourself, call your Representative, Baird or whoever yours is. Finding the telephone number is as easy as looking it up on the Internet. Please do this today or tomorrow. Make sure to speak with a live person - don't leave a voice mail. Remember to first ask to speak directly with your representative. And be friendly. It helps the staffer to listen to your message.

Finally, please talk to your friends about impeachment, and consider sending a message to people in your network asking them to call Congress on behalf of the cause of impeachment.


It's not too late to impeach! Please call your Congressperson! It will only take a few minutes.

07 November 2008

How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

I watched this movie for the first time tonight, and I recommend it highly. Well worth dragging all of your friends to see.

Read More: Oil and Sustainability and Cuba [OlyBlog].

05 November 2008

Political Frustration and What's Up

I am back in Olympia after a couple weeks spent traveling to Houston, TX and back. It was a good trip, but even after being back for over a week I feel like I am still recovering. I drove out there, by myself, which I wouldn't recommend. It would have been much better to have someone to drive with.

I am back and looking forward to what's next.

So the election is over. Here we are on the precipice of a new day in America. We have the potential for a better government - one that is more geared toward the service of life, rather than the service of big business.

That's what we need. We need a government that is interested in representing people. What we have is a government that is basically representing the interests of the biggest and most powerful, the most influential, businesses. Which is not a bad thing, if you're a big business person. But most of us are not big business people. In fact well over 90% of the world's human population do not derive special benefit from big business. And the fact is that what is good for business is not always good for the greater body of people - in fact what is good for business is often times not good for the overall population - the public.

Now - not all business, businesses, or business activities are disharmonious with the interests of the public (people and planet.) Some business activities can benefit people. But the fact is that many business activities and interests are harmful overall - harmful to the people, to the planet, to plants and animals and ecosystems...

We need a government that is in the service of life. We need a government that is in the service of the people. We need to stand up to, we need to oppose and resist a government that is playing host to the influences of the biggest businesses as they push for imperialism via wars of aggression - as they push for weakened regulation to enable even greater exploitation of resources (be they mineral, human, financial, or whatever.)

We need a government that has an eye not for protection of private property and wealth, we need a government that has an eye for protection of ecosystems, of human rights, civil liberties, and a healthy world to pass on to generations of humans far into the future.

There is Hope. Obama represents a truly new frontier. Someone wrote of the momentous historic aspect of a black family moving into the "White House" (the real color is actually a light tint of green - I saw that on the Discovery channel years ago) - the White House that was the product of a society that was built on the backs of black slaves...

I am so glad that Obama won. However I must be frank and personal - I was frustrated by the Presidential Election because I don't feel that either of the candidates represent my true best interests. It seems to me that government has been hi-jacked by big-business.

This election took the concept of divide and conquer to new territory - the appearance of contrast between the presidential candidates was stark. I am so glad that Obama won the election - or rather, maybe my gladness is more due to McCain (and Palin) not winning. But then again, let's ask: what are the real differences between Obama and McCain? How will the presidency of these two men differ on some of the most formative issues of our time - issues like corporate and foreign policies?

The real work begins now. Special interests are lining up for more of the same - more influence over Congress and White House. It is imperative that the common interest be represented effectively. Public and common interest must be represented in a way that it is clearly prioritized above the special interests of big businesses and corporations.

No longer can motive for financial profit be placed above the health and long term well-being of people, plants, animals, ecosystems and indeed, the whole planet.

Peace to you and good health, bert

30 October 2008

Angel's Landing

Angel's Landing
"Angel's Landing" (viewed from the shuttle bus stop)
Zion National Park, Utah, Monday, October 27, 2008

16 October 2008

Post Debate Analysis

I am in Texas. I drove from Washington state. Long drive. Very long. However, it's (relatively) warm outside right now where I am here in Eastern Texas, and I can hear crickets chirping. - So I'm not complaining!

Anyway, I want to mention the U.S. presidential debates. Last night, during the third and final presidential debate, I was crossing the border from Colorado into Kansas. Reception was fuzzy, and I missed some, but I was able to listen to a good portion. I had better reception from about a third of the way until the end.

America is under stress. The people and economy of America are both under duress. There have been so many changes, major and minor, over the last few years and decades. So many changes so fast and we really haven't taken stock of how these changes are affecting people (much less the planet.) So it is with that context that I listened to the debate. Knowing how this society is harming the planet. Knowing how people are hurting. Knowing that there is so much potential and promise - such possibility for such an awesome, nurturing and stable - peaceful and prosperous world - for all.

So I am sad! And it is made all the more acute because I don't have more choices than Obama and McCain. More choices like I would have, for example, if McKinney and Nader were to appear on a preferential ballot. But what came across quite clearly to me was the distinction between these two men, Obama and McCain. What stood out to me, what I noticed in particular were what I perceived as McCain's cheap shots - the falsifications, distortions and even obfuscations.

The reason I will vote for Obama is not that I believe an Obama Administration will likely be the herald of the changes that would be necessary to heal America. The reason I will vote for Obama is more because of John McCain. That said, maybe I am being too harsh on Obama... Obama might actually be a step in the right direction. But I am not sure. And I want more. For example, I want real change on foreign policy. So - it's too bad that my choices are essentially limited by a system that has arbitrarily decided to exclude and discriminate against legitimate third party candidates. This has all the markings of corporatism.

[The media has completely hi-jacked this discussion, which should be front and center for any political discussion in America. American foreign policy is not about defense from terrorists, as the media and too many Washington D.C. public officials / politicians (and an astounding number of public officials / politicians elsewhere) would have me (and you) believe. American foreign policy is about imperialism; it is about dominance and hegemony. The public infrastructure of the U.S. military is being used to pursue this policy. The military is not being used to keep the peace in an altruistic sense. The military, all 700+ foreign military base installations (plus the various fortress flotillas) is being used to prop up a foreign policy of interventionism - a foreign policy of inserting "American friendly" people into strategic locations within governments.

So the media has all but completely hi-jacked this discussion. And what will come of it? Benefit for the American people at large (or the people of the world at large?) I don't think so. We need people in government who can, and will, stand up to this new media tyranny...(But how can we get these people into government when the media controls the government, and the debate? - Maybe it's hopeless to seek change at that level? We need a public interest coup!)]

Tax cuts. McCain's tax cuts would be an escalation of the Bush years. And look what 8 years of Bush have brought us. Financial and economic instability. The rich are richer (and their numbers multiplied), and the poor are poorer. Massive inequities are causing social tension. People are losing their jobs and in danger of losing shelter. Meanwhile, vested interests are benefitting - and influencing government to do more of the same - to promote their benefit at the sake of others' wellbeing. Obama wins on tax cuts. Tax the wealthy. It's not "class-warfare." It's called "just compensation." It's called social interest, and public interest. It's called good-government. Tax the wealthy. Especially the biggest corporations.

There was a lot from the debate. A lot to respond to. It's overwhelming at this point. I guess they succeeded if that's there goal. It just pushes me away really. Makes me want to look toward more localized solutions... It was frustrating at times to listen to the debate. And I wanted to call in to a post-debate public radio show. I probably would have if I wouldn't have forgotten my cellphone battery charger.

I wish Nader would have been allowed to debate!

It was frustrating to hear both Obama and McCain speak against Venezuela - considering all of the positive social reforms that have taken place there. The poor people of Venezuela are being lifted up by their government. They are being provided with the basics for a better life: food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare, and work. What's so bad about Venezuela; is it the socialism? If that's the case, then what's bad about socialism in Venezuela, and good about socialism on Wall Street? What's the difference? Or is the distinction just an arbitrary one - is it just a matter of "mine is okay, when yours is not."

I am frustrated because I think it will take more than Obama's chanting "Hope" and "Change" to actually affect meaningful changes within the system. The powers that influence government are deeply entrenched. Does Obama really mean what he says when he talks of advocating reform, or are his words just empty rhetoric, and only designed to boost him into a position of power? What are Obama's true motivations for seeking the presidency? Is it to serve the best and highest interests of the American people - or is it simply to attain power as a manifestation of personal desire, of selfish egoism? America would do well with having, rather than a "politician" as president, having a public service president - a servant to the highest needs and loftiest aspirations of the American people and future generations. The people need health. Healthy food, air, land, water - healthy and stable ecosytems - sustainability. The people need meaningful work. The people need to fit into a sustainable society. The people need to belong to a community. The people need education. The people need justice. (I could go on and on - but people - all people - do have the same needs, a basic set of needs that is common to all people.)

Perhaps most importantly: The people need the truth.

The people do not need to be living, and taking, at the sake of the planetary (human and ecological) community - nor is it at all desirable for the people to do so. The people do not need to be living in a way that is causing harm to other people and the planet.

This planet Earth is a tremendous "gift" - really it is not a gift. It doesn't belong to any of us, nor any group of us, nor all of us collectively. It is of its own. It is a tremendous and wonderful being all on its own. - It is its own. - All of its own, on its own (except for the sun and moon, and other planets, and stars, etc.). It was here before humans came into being. It may likely be here long after humans have faded into the past. The Earth is full - full of such wonder and beauty. There is so much potential. - So it is sad to see so much of it wasted and trashed and abused. I lay this culture of destruction squarely at the feet of politicians and vested business interests, notably in the entertainment and media and military sectors.

Back to the debate and the post debate call-in show. One of the callers to the after-debate public-radio-show mentioned the possibility of war over energy resources. She said it as if there was the future possibility of this happening. Honestly, I think she was being sarcastic or facetious or perhaps just explicitly understating the obvious.

I mean really people! - The Global War on Terror is a facade for active and ongoing wars over energy resources: resource wars - people killing people over things (minerals).

The front line of the United States government's foreign policy of global dominance, aka "hegemony," as it is promoted by big business corporate hegemons - seems to be evinced quite clearly in the obvious efforts to control foreign energy resources. We see this in both Iraq and Afghanistan (the latter being home to a major pipeline.) We see this in Georgia, where fighting recently broke out in a separatist area. Georgia is home to a major pipeline for transporting Caspian sea fossil fuels to the West.

And we also see this developing, most alarmingly, in a posture of belligerence, and in the use of bellicose rhetoric by U.S. officials, toward Iran. About Iran, I will say this: neither the state nor the people of Iran (including the Iranian Revolutionary Guard) are terrorists. If Iran wants to pursue nuclear weapons, why shouldn't it be able to? Shouldn't individual nations have the right to self-determination? What gives the U.S. the right to deliberate which nation can and which nation cannot pursue nuclear power, or nuclear weapons? Forgive my digression. But a U.S. (or Israeli) attack on Iran would have truly devastating economic consequences. Your $10 gallon of gasoline? That would likely do it. America and Americans, and indeed the world, would possibly be pushed into an emergency disaster scenario. All because of political posturing. All because of an attitude of belligerence and a drive for hegemony. It's sick.

These foreign wars over resources, certainly in at least the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, can rightly understood to be aggression, and these wars are illegal and immoral. My government, your government, our government - of the USA - is attacking countries, bullying them. What it's doing is, essentially, to take without asking. It's not much different than what happened a couple hundred years ago with the "Manifest Destiny" when Europeans thought themselves to be superior and rightful in their conquering of the North American continent, much however to the detriment of Native people and culture.

It doesn't have to be like this. There is a better way! Violence is not the solution. People, as individuals and as collective societies, must be treated equally and fairly.

We must ask ourselves what kind of a world we want to leave to future generations: scorched and barren, or healthy and fertile?

We have the power to effect change. We need healing. The planet needs healing. It would be a benefit to have a healer - one who seeks to reconcile, who seeks to achieve mutually beneficial solutions, who seeks to find a balance in the best interests of future generations and in the holistic best interests the whole planet - elected to president. Sadly for America and the World, I do not think that either of Obama or McCain is just such a healer.

###end of rant###

13 October 2008


Go Obama! It's official. Although I have much love for Ralph Nader, and I think that he would serve America very well as President, I have decided that I will now support Barack Obama for President. I have supported Obama in the past, I served as a precinct delegate for Obama, here in Thurston County, Washington (at the county convention/caucus.) But I am disillusioned to the reality of the two party political system and the influence of big business in over government. When Obama started making noises about threatening Iran, I jumped ship. I put the bulk of my support toward the Nader Campaign.

Now don't get me wrong. I still support Nader and the great and important work that he does. But this is the time for realism and pragmatism. Nader is not going to win. Yes - it is an injustice - in a campaign filled with unfairness and injustice. Nader should have been warmly invited to participate in debates...

But I have been tipped. Tipped toward pulling for Obama. What happened?

Yesterday I met with Wayne Smith, director of the Civil Liberties program for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. Wayne made me realize the importance of the (relatively) small differences between McCain and Obama. I say relatively small differences between the candidates because I do believe they are both pro-big business influence establish government politics.

Basically, the "small" differences (really they are not small), are very important. To illustrate, McCain recently had to defend Obama against the words of one of his supporters, who labeled Obama as an Arab and a Terrorist. McCain said no no, that's not true - Obama is a good man and no one should fear him or the spectre of an Obama presidency. McCain never made even the effort - nor did it appear that it occurred to him, to defend Arabs against the racism of his supporter. He could have said - "Arabs are not bad people." He did not.

I will vote for Obama. I love what Ralph Nader has done, and continues to do, for this country. But the stakes are high in this election. A McCain presidency would be devastating and tremendously harmful to the cause of civil liberties in America (and the world.)

Thank you Wayne Smith, for opening my eyes wider to the reality of the contest between Obama and McCain.

Thank you Ralph Nader, and don't give up! I still support you (and other third party candidates like Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney) who are working to move America in a truly progressive and life-serving direction.

But my vote will be for Obama. It's kind of sad. But that's reality. That's the decisive pragmatist in me.

09 October 2008

Give Me Liberty by Naomi Wolf

An interview with Naomi Wolf about her new book Give me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries...This is an important cautionary message about the social condition in America:

My America Project

Representative Brad Sherman of the US House of Representatives "Skeptics Caucus":

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Self-Portrait Sequence


08 October 2008

Naomi Klein on the Wall Street Crisis

Naomi Klein on Democracy Now!
October 06, 2008

Naomi Klein: Wall St. Crisis Should Be for Neoliberalism What Fall of Berlin Wall Was for Communism

As the world reels from the financial crisis on Wall Street and the taxpayer-funded $700 billion bailout, we spend the hour with Naomi Klein on the economy, politics and “disaster capitalism.” The Shock Doctrine author recently spoke at the University of Chicago to oppose the creation of an economic research center named after the University’s most famous economist, Milton Friedman. Klein says Friedman’s economic philosophy championed the kind of deregulation that led to the current crisis. [includes rush transcript]


Naomi Klein, journalist and author of the books The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo.

Related Links: Naomi Klein's website

AMY GOODMAN: The credit crunch is spreading to financial markets around the world. Nearly 160,000 jobs were lost here in the United States in September. That’s not including losses directly resulting from the financial meltdown. Wall Street might be breathing a little easier since Congress passed the more-than-$700-billion bailout plan Friday, but there are no signs of an easy or quick recovery.Today we take a look back at the economic philosophy that championed the kind of deregulation that led to this crisis. We spend the hour with investigative journalist and author Naomi Klein, bestselling author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Naomi Klein spoke at the University of Chicago last week, invited by a group of faculty opposed to the creation of an economic research center called the Milton Friedman Institute. It has a $200 million endowment and is named after the University’s most famous economist, the leader of the neoliberal Chicago School of Economics.

NAOMI KLEIN: When Milton Friedman turned ninety, the Bush White House held a birthday party for him to honor him, to honor his legacy, in 2002, and everyone made speeches, including George Bush, but there was a really good speech that was given by Donald Rumsfeld. I have it on my website. My favorite quote in that speech from Rumsfeld is this: he said, “Milton is the embodiment of the truth that ideas have consequences.”

So, what I want to argue here is that, among other things, the economic chaos that we’re seeing right now on Wall Street and on Main Street and in Washington stems from many factors, of course, but among them are the ideas of Milton Friedman and many of his colleagues and students from this school. Ideas have consequences.


Read the rest: Naomi Klein: Wall St. Crisis Should Be for Neoliberalism What Fall of Berlin Wall Was for Communism

07 October 2008

October Surprise?!

What's Important
more commentary linked on flickr

What, oil wasn't trading today? And look how much oil has gone down. I don't know why it doesn't show a change - but I have seen it like that a lot. Do you know what's up with that?

Dow down by over 5%. Overseas markets in even worse shape.

This market fluctuation is ominous. It bears all the markings of a serious economic depression.

What is the problem with a stable economic plateau? Why does it always have to be about growth?

You know what in nature just keeps growing without limit? - Cancer cells. One or two cancer cells won't kill you. But a mass of them will.

This reckless pursuit of growth and economic expansion is harming the planet (and living creatures.)

There is a better way.

03 October 2008

Public Testimony re: Isthmus Building Height Rezone

Here's a video, which includes public comment, oral testimony, that I provided in regard to the proposed building height rezone on the "Isthmus" of downtown Olympia. My testimony is from the first group (selected by lottery) and it begins approximately 1 hour, two minutes, and 30 seconds (1:02:30) into the video (embedded below.) The whole video is worth watching!!! A lot of people gave great testimony. All five + hours of the public hearing are available on the Internet. More information about that: Video from City Council Public Hearing on the Isthmus Building Height Rezone

02 October 2008

Protecting the Natural World from Human Caused Degradation

From OlyBlog: Compromise

I have recently been labeled and accused of such things as zealotry, fanaticism, extremism, and being unwilling to compromise (by people who post on OlyBlog.) This is a response. And let me tell you - I strongly object to being labeled with those terms. But if I am a zealot because I care about the environment, then that is OK with me. In fact, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Rezone Deliberation Composite

If I am an extremist, then I am only extreme in the same degree (albeit in the opposite direction) as mainstream culture is extreme. We live in a culture that prides itself on growth and expansion, even while the natural world resultantly suffers harm. I want to stop the destruction and to protect the natural world.

read more

29 September 2008

Nature is Essential to Humanity

Order in Chaos
Autumn Colors

Nature is awesome; it has a way of bringing out the best in people. Natural settings can inspire greatness in feeling and thought...

"One Touch of Nature Makes the Whole World Kin"
"One Touch of Nature Makes the Whole World Kin" - Shakespeare

At the R. Walter Fey Memorial Grove in Jebediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte County, California

Ignorance About the Ways of Others: a Privilege of the Powerful

I saw this great quote on another site, Patrick Sullivan, Every Bit is Fiction, yesterday, and I want to share it with you:
“Thoroughgoing ignorance about the ways of others is largely a privilege of the powerful.”

Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, Kwame Anthony Appiah

25 September 2008

Empty Store Fronts, a Poem

While riding around on errands today, I noticed an increasingly common phenomenon: empty store fronts. Small and locally owned, and operated, businesses are being driven out by massive mega-stores (especially cheap discount mega-stores like Wal-Mart, for example.) Local revenue and labor is being lost. Goods are imported from overseas. Large sectors of domestic manufacturing are going extinct, having been outsourced.

So I just wrote up this poem (very quickly - it's a first draft.) It's a reflection on this economic phenomenon of corporate power and the ceonsequential harm it does.

I hope it resonates with you. - bert

Empty Store Fronts

Stores closed down.

I see them.

Empty store fronts,

Peeling facades,

Broken windows.

All the capital,

It's being gobbled up!

By massive corporations.

Wealth conglomerated at tippy top.

Capital and labor markets,

shipped overseas.

(... and p.s. - please don't shop at Wal-Mart, and/or similar mega-stores.)

(p.p.s. see related post at OlyBlog: The Normal Course of Progress?)

[updated 9:54 p.m. 9/25/08]

23 September 2008

Let Wisdom Guide Our Lives and Humanity

The following is cross-posted from OlyBlog (i.e. I already published it there and I am re-posting it here):

I want to share some wisdom that was recently shared with me. A friend printed up a couple cards, and the information that they contain really resonates deeply with me. One is some wisdom from Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication. The other is wisdom from Buddhadasa, a Thai monk.

By the way, there are nonviolent communication courses being offered at locations throughout the Puget Sound region. Northwest Compassionate Communication

Here's the card on Buddhadasa, according to my transcription:

Forestknow the heart

know the heart
or essence
of your own
and encourage others
to know theirs.

share with others
at deeper levels,
don't dwell on the
recognize those things
held in common
and build on that Blowing in the Wind

work together to
"drag humanity out from
under the power of

sharings from

servant of the

a thai monk

Now for the card based on Marshall Rosenberg's theory of nonviolent communication:

Cloud basic



marshall roseburg
nonviolent communication

"at every moment we have the
power to make life wonderful"

"basic needs are never in conflict,
get past enemy image"

some basic human needs:
understanding / empathy,
Dark Woods Trailcontribute (meaningfully to life),
power (influence one's space),
justice (restorative...)
belonging / community

"when we interact
on the level of
basic human needs
there is no conflict"

And be sure to watch this video with Marshall Rosenberg:

22 September 2008

Some Photos and What Not

What's up. Lot's of stuff going on recently. Both locally and globally (and seemingly everything in between.) I have been spending a lot of time thinking and conversing about recent events, mostly as they relate to city government, here in Olympia, Washington. Two major things have attracted the focus of my energy. One is the City Council's vote in approval of a motion to ordain the repeal of the 2005 Nuclear Free Zone Act (an ordinance - i.e. city law.) I oppose the repeal of the ordinance - for a lot of reasons. [video of the September 9th, 2008 Council Meeting including the NFZA repeal and related testimony: Nuclear Free Zone Repeal City Council Meeting]

The NFZA ordinance seeks to prohibit the storage, transport, and production of nuclear weapons within city limits. It also seeks to inform city buying and contracting practices, in order to avoid doing business with companies which are vested in the nuclear weapons industry...

It was a sad day when the vote to repeal went through. What does this repeal motion say about Olympia?

Public officials at the national level use hostile and belligerent rhetoric - even including threats of nuclear attack - in an effort to badger and influence - to intimidate - their adversaries.

These same public officials are supposed to be working toward the goal of disarmament. But they are doing the exact opposite. They are promoting hostility. They are promoting the nuclear weapons establishment...

So this decision to repeal does not reflect the true will of the people. The true will of the people is to take constructive action toward peace.

The other matter of city business that I have been involved in has been the Council's consideration of a spot rezone on the Isthmus of downtown Olympia. I have been posting about that issue some here at In the Course and also at OlyBlog, which seems to be disabled currently (at 2:30pm on Monday, September 22, 2008.)

I have been up to other stuff too. I took 182 photographs yesterday. I posted quite a few of them up to flickr, so go check them out (link is in the side-bar - at the top.)

I'll post a sampling of the photos here. These are all from the City of Olympia Watershed Park:


Citizens for the Future
Citizens for the Future

Forest Trees
Forest Trees

Watershed Park Bridge
Watershed Park Bridge

On the Trail, Watershed Park
On the Trail at Watershed Park

Dark Woods Trail
Dark Woods Trail

Leaning Stump Trail
Leaning Stump on the Trail

[post updated, 5:03 pm 9/22/08]

20 September 2008

War is Bankrupting the U.S.

Here I am posing for a photograph after a weekly peace vigil that I participate in. The vigil has been going on for almost 10 years every Friday. It's sponsored by the Olympia chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. It's at the North end of the Percival Landing City Park in Olympia Washington. Everyone is welcome.

War is Bankrupting the U.S.

War is bankrupting the U.S.. Yes it is. Imagine taking materials and energy that are poured into the destructive war economy and turning them toward positive and beneficial efforts. We could all be very wealthy economically if our government and its keepers weren't bent on destruction and domination.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Been kind of quiet here at In the Course of Events. I have been posting a lot of blog entries at OlyBlog recently. Lots going on with the proposal to change zoning regulations on the Isthmus. OlyBlog Bert

I also uploaded some photos recently, including photos of a talk by Richard Hayes Phillips, whose recently released book, Witness to a Crime chronicles how Republicans stole the 2004 presidential election in Ohio. His story was an amazing account of election fraud. Fraud that brought America 4 more years of George W. Bush. photos: Richard Hayes Phillips at Media Island in Olympia, Washington

17 September 2008

Public Hearing on Isthmus Rezone Proposal

[update: Photos are uploaded [City Council Urban Water Front Rezone Land-Use Hearing], and some are added to this post.]

Wow. Wow. Wow!

Testify!I am back at home after a 5 hour City Council meeting during which nearly 100 people spoke on the topic of a proposal to change the existing urban waterfront zoning regulations on the "Isthmus" area of Downtown Olympia. Flood of emotion here. I'll try to keep it on track. The meeting was very informative. I heard many things that I haven't heard before. People who spoke seemed to be about 3 to 1 opposed v. supportive of the proposed rezone.

On StageThe rezone might result in what developer Triway Enterprises has marketed as a massive mixed use building that would, as it is currently slated, contain 141 "up-class" condominiums, which would be priced from between $800,000 to $1.2M (according to the proposal.)

Many passionate speakers on both sides. I am processing some photographs that I took during and before the meeting. I recommend that you watch the video of the testimony. All five hours - good to the last drop. Some of it might be infuriating. But you'll be a better person afterward!

I hope to have more about the meeting later on. There were many amazing moments. Some wonderful and some, frankly, horrifying things were said (e.g. the Triway advocate (lawyer) who engaged in blatant threats and condescension. But, I suppose, that might depend on your point of view.)

There was a lot of impressive testimony. Some I agreed with, some I disagreed with.

Council Rezone Hearing 5

Some questions to ask after the hearing or when viewing the video of the hearing (which isn't on the Internet as of the morning of September 17th, 2008):

Did any of the speakers seem to be intellectually dishonest (even perhaps to the point of engaging in what might be considered to be "Double Speak" (as defined by George Orwell)?)

Which side of the rezone proposal presented a better argument, and why?

Pay attention to your feelings. How did you feel at various times throughout the hearing (or viewing the hearing?)

Did you hear anything new?

What was the most compelling testimony?

Rezone Roundup...many, many more questions could be asked. And hopefully they will. Make sure to keep an eye on OlyBlog.net for more information. By the way, I entered the discussion that has taken place on OlyBlog (it has been discussed since at least February) into the official record. (see http://olyblog.net/isthmus-2008)

Stay tuned for photos [photos are up].

The Isthmus from the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial:
9/13 Isthmus Panorama (3 image comp)

15 September 2008

Democrats and Republicans: Good Cop / Bad Cop?

I just wrote this in an email response to a group of people who were sharing their support for the Democrats. Damnit. It's time for truth-telling. Corporatism is hurting people, it is hurting the planet. We can do better. A better world is possible...

So read this:

I don't know where all of your political leanings are, so I hope not to offend. But I have had it. And it's time for truth-telling.

I am pulling for Ralph Nader.

Obama and McCain are too similar in their corporatism (willingness to drill for oil, go to war against Iran, prolong American empire.)

I've had enough.

I won't be badgered or kowtowed toward the lesser of two evils. Yes. It can rightly be argued that Democrats do less harm than Republicans. Democrats are the lesser of two evils (at least from the liberal perspective). That's how they (both D and R) stay in power.

Divide and Conquer.

Sow fear and watch the masses flock.

Gore Vidal said in 1981 that two parties are really just two wings of the same party. It's still true 27 years later.

We need something better. We deserve something better.

Let Nader Debate (link to campaign issues).

I am disappointed in Obama. I even served as a precinct delegate for him at the local County Democratic Convention/ Caucus.

But I am disillusioned after his recent bows to American foreign policy belligerence.

I might vote for Obama if it close between him and McCain here in Washington State (and given the pathetic condition of the establishment mainstream media - which is, in itself, just another symptom of the big business corporate power two party duopoly - that's a possibility.)

[added here: I might vote for Obama out of sheer pragmatism. But even my belief that the solutions - the path to a better world - might be attainable via baby steps is in doubt. The Democrats are not speaking truth to power. And we need the truth. I support Ralph Nader.]

I support Ralph Nader and it will be just another example of the sham government and political system if challengers like him, and Cynthia McKinney, are disallowed from participating in the election (open debates in particular) as legitimate and credible candidates.

With Love,

More on the Nuclear Free Zone Repeal

I am watching video from the City Council Meeting last week, September 9, 2008, during which the Council voted 5 to 2 to repeal the Nuclear Free Zone Act of 2005.

A few things stand out. I don't want to be too critical of the Council Members. They have a hard job to do. But one thing stands out. Mayor Mah said that he couldn't understand the local relevance for the ordinance. Well here it is Mayor Mah - the people want to be Nuclear Free. Mayor Pro Tem Kingsbury told of his visits with hundreds of city residents who expressed their disapproval for the ordinance. Well, Mayor Pro Tem Kingsbury, I am sure you could also find hundreds who desire that the ordinance be retained.

The ordinance is relevant because the people of Olympia are tired of watching their national officials commit acts of aggression, and use nuclear weapons in a hostile and intimidating manner.

The people of Olympia want a better world, and that is relevant. What could be more relevant than that?

There is more. But it's going to have to wait. Think globally, act locally! I want to be free of nuclear weapons. Do you?

13 September 2008

Opposition to Isthmus Rezone

Me at the Law Enforcement MemorialThis is me, photo taken by Julie Woods. She also took one with her camera. I'll link to it if I get a chance.

The photo was taken at the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial. It overlooks Capitol Lake, and Budd Inlet, and a hotly contested area of land between the water. The area of land is known as the Isthmus. In Olympia, Washington the isthmus is widely regarded, if not commonly regarded, as a sacred space. It is the heart of Olympia. It is where the fresh water of the Deschutes River, which originates from a glacier upon the majestic slopes of Mount Rainier, meets the deep waters of Budd Inlet and the Puget Sound - and eventually the Pacific Ocean and the World Ocean. The isthmus is where a person can view the State Capitol Campus in one direction, and the Olympic Mountains in the other.

This area symbolizes the connection that exists between Olympia and the World. Olympia is a world city - it is known for looking past the conflicts that plague the federal government and taking steps to make the world a better place to live, all on its own.

I envision a park in this space. A monument to citizen engagement. A monument to the societal and city relationship with the world - and with nature.

The park would serve the people in many ways. It would provide for recreation. It would provide an avenue for education about the environment, about ecology and sustainability. It would also attract people to downtown - as residents, as visitors, as investors.

Olympia has a lot of novel features. It is a novel city in many respects. A park feature on the isthmus would only improve these aspects.

Part of my vision, and I think it is shared amongst a considerable population of Olympia residents, is for a dense urban core juxtaposed with an open park area, to include areas that would be semi-wilderness, as well as more traditional recreational features: walking trails, playgrounds, fields for games, etc.

Imagine: 15,000 more people living AND working downtown. People living within walking, bicycling or wheel chair distance to their work place. New schools. New businesses.

A park feature on the isthmus is the perfect opportunity to initiate that process. A park feature, and the denial of a proposed rezone, is the perfect way to begin to move toward a vision of true, functional, sustainability.

I won't let Triway, the developer who has proposed the rezone in an effort to allow the construction of a gigantic building that would be full of an estimated 141 luxury condominiums, badger me or threatren me with the prospect of a low-rise office building (given the denial of the rezone proposal.)

I know what I want. I think that I know what would best serve the community. I know that the public interest outranks and trumps private interests, especially in matters that involve zoning.

For more information, please see Isthmus 2008 [my flickr photoset]


The rezone has been proposed by Triway Enterprises.

One group, OLY 2012, has formed to provide nuanced support for the rezone. OLY 2012 advocates Smart Growth.

Several groups are working to oppose the rezone:

People for a Participatory City

Friends of the Waterfront

20/20 Vision Olympia

Olympia Capitol Park Foundation

You can find more information at OlyBlog: Isthmus 2008 (even though it's not an isthmus),

And at Works in Progress.

- bert

New FBI Rules would Draw Ire of Civil Rights Advocates, and Instill Fear

The Bush Administration reaches for further authoritarian controls:
Proposed new FBI rules draw civil liberties worries
Fri Sep 12, 2008 6:17pm EDT
By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department unveiled proposed new rules on Friday for FBI investigations, changes a civil liberties group criticized for giving agents powers to investigate Americans without proper suspicion.

In its first major change in years, the Justice Department proposed a consolidated set of guidelines for domestic FBI operations, seeking to apply the same rules for criminal and terrorism cases, and for collecting foreign intelligence.

The guidelines were first adopted in the 1970s following disclosures that the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover had run a widespread domestic surveillance program that spied on civil rights activists and political opponents.

Officials said the new guidelines, which total 45 pages, were still being revised after consultations with Congress and civil liberties groups. The new rules are expected to take effect on October 1.

Justice Department and FBI officials told a news briefing the changes would allow agents in some terrorism cases to use informants, do physical surveillance and conduct interviews without identifying themselves or their true purpose.

They said such techniques currently could be used in ordinary criminal cases, but not for those involving national security, before an investigation has begun.

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern the rewritten rules had been drafted in a way to allow the FBI to begin surveillance without factual evidence to back it up.

It said that under the new guidelines, a person's race or ethnic background could be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move the ACLU believes will institute racial profiling as a matter of policy.

ACLU Washington legislative director Caroline Fredrickson said, "Agents will be given unparalleled leeway to investigate Americans without proper suspicion, and that will inevitably result in constitutional violations."

Anthony Romero, the ACLU's executive director, said, "Issuing guidelines that permit racial profiling the day after the 9/11 anniversary and in the midst of a historic presidential campaign is typical Bush administration stagecraft designed to exploit legitimate security concerns for partisan political purposes."

Department officials said the guidelines would not allow an investigation based solely on a person's race or religion. "We are not changing our basic approach when race, religion or ethnicity may be taken into consideration," said one official who declined to be identified.

"The Department of Justice has long been concerned about the use of race or ethnicity in investigations. But it is simply not responsible to say that race may never be taken into account when conducting an investigation," spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said in a statement after the briefing.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

Beautiful Night

From this past July:
Still Water with Moon, Planet and Stars
Polk County, Wisconsin

Esoteric Function of War

I have posted this before. But it is worthy of reposting. So here it is again. Orwell, in his classic novel, 1984, speaks to the fundamental motives behind perpetual war. Very much worth revisiting on a regular basis:
1984From Orwell's 1984:
"The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been latent in industrial society...

"...it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction — indeed, in some sense was the destruction — of a hierarchical society. In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motor-car or even an aeroplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance...

"...Nor was it a satisfactory solution to keep the masses in poverty by restricting the output of goods. This happened to a great extent during the final phase of capitalism, roughly between 1920 and 1940. The economy of many countries was allowed to stagnate, land went out of cultivation, capital equipment was not added to, great blocks of the population were prevented from working and kept half alive by State charity. But this, too, entailed military weakness, and since the privations it inflicted were obviously unnecessary, it made opposition inevitable. The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. Goods must be produced, but they must not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.

"The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed. A Floating Fortress, for example, has locked up in it the labour that would build several hundred cargo-ships. Ultimately it is scrapped as obsolete, never having brought any material benefit to anybody, and with further enormous labours another Floating Fortress is built. In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population..."
It's a great book. Read George Orwell's 1984.

Quotes are courtesy of the program: (The Actors' Gang 1984 Program [pdf]):

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming
and lies and hatred, comes invariably
from people who are not fighting.
~ George Orwell

Every war when it comes, or before it
comes, is represented not as a war but as
an act of self-defense against a homicidal
~ George Orwell

The first casualty when war comes is
~ Hiram Johnson

In a time of universal deceit - telling the
truth is a revolutionary act.
~ George Orwell

The very concept of objective truth is
fading out of the world. Lies will pass
into history.
~ George Orwell

All war is deception.
~ Sun Tzu

War against a foreign country only
happens when the moneyed classes
think they are going to profit from it.
~ George Orwell

The most tyrannical governments are
those which make crimes of opinions, for
everyone has an inalienable right over his
thoughts-- nay, such a state of things
leads to the rule of popular passion.
~ Benedictus de Spinoza, from
Theological-Political Treatise

War is a way of shattering to pieces...
materials which might otherwise be used
to make the masses... too intelligent.
~ George Orwell

12 September 2008

The Job of Government is to Serve the Public Good

The principle function of government should be to serve the public good. It should be to look out for the public interest in governmental dealings.

It's seems that these days, government is serving as the strong arm for big business and private interests.

Government should defend the public, and the interests of the public, against contrary private interests.

Government should not act as a facilitator for the advancement of special and private interests.

What is the public interest? How about sustainability? How about equity and fairness? How about employment opportunity and prosperity for all who desire such? How about decent living standards? How about protection from poverty/ hunger / houselessness...? How about natural areas and ecology? How about education and nutritious foods? How about health care? How about peace, justice and nonviolence? These things are in the public interest. If private interests undermine, or seek to undermine, public - or any member of the public's - access to these things, then it is the job of government to step in and do its job! regulate!

[updated 9/13/08]

I want to add that not all private projects or developments are bad. Some private developments are bad, however, and it is important to be critical of them in that case. The public interest supersedes private interest.

Down to Earth

I saw this as part of the new Disney movie "Wall-E". I won't critique the movie here, though I liked it - it was very thought provoking, it raises all kinds of questions and ideas about humanity and society... I definitely recommend seeing it. Okay, a little critique. I guess my main problem is how it glorifies and romanticizes technology as being capable of solving all of the problems of humanity. Robot heroes.

The story goes like this: after destroying the Earth, humans leave in a space ship, where they live for 700 years while they wait for the atmosphere on Earth to return to a hospitable state. A robot returns to Earth and finds a plant - a sign of life. She develops a love interest, and all the qualities of a human, with a 700 year old trash compacter named "Wall-E". They live happily ever after. Despite what is, in my opinion, a flawed and romanticized portrayal of technology as the savior of humanity, it actually has some good moral messages (of course the moral grounding just makes the main, subversive, thrust - promoting the idea of robots as benign artificially intelligent beings - more potent.)

I am looking forward to picking up a copy of the album or single for this song, "Down to the Earth" by Peter Gabriel.


Aligning of the Souls

this is cross posted from OlyBlog:
The Aligning of the Souls gathering was great. Many stories, prayers - and jokes - were shared amongst the participants. The gathering kicked off last night (Wednesday night) with a potluck meal and the sharing of prayers and stories relating to the topic of healing and peace in the wake of the horrible events of September 11, 2001. Some people sang songs or read poems, some people told stories and shared wisdom, everyone listened.

This morning the gathering continued at dawn (Thursday morning, September 11, 2008) with the commencement of a day long continuous heart beat drum rhythm. We prayed for peace and healing as the cool and foggy air and mist of dawn gradually gave way to a brilliantly blue sunny and cloudless September Eleventh day. A ceremonial fire was lit in a very special outdoor fire place. The fire burned throughout the day, carefully observed, attended and listened to.

Many wonderful prayers were shared. I often times wish that I had recordings after such events, because it would be good to remember and know the specifics of what people said. However, although I may not remember the specific words, the feelings are very present - and I know they will always remain so, with me. The feelings will stay true to the original intent and meaning of the words. (Maybe this is how de ja vu works - i.e. specific emotional memories trigger thought memories.) It was a full day and night of remembrance and holding the hope of healing and peace in a vigilant way. It was a great experience and I am glad that I participated.

The theme of the gathering was Living on the Bridge from Fear to Courage. It was relevant both in a societal sense and also on a personal level, for me. I appreciate approaching the horrible events of 9/11 and the following disasters from this perspective. Moving from fear to courage: how can we learn from fear - acknowledge it and understand it - and choose, separately, to act, instead - not out of fear, but out of courage, and love. Fear can knock me down. But community can give me courage - song and dance, sharing, holding vigil and vigilant drumming, awareness and consciousness and conscientiousness raising, conversation, intentionality - these can further the cause of courage and give me (and perhaps you too) the strength to act despite fear - or to, even better, eclipse fear entirely, or even better yet, to replace fear with love, pure and simple.

Again, many people shared many beautiful and deeply meaningful stories. I wish I could share them all with you! But I will share a couple of my prayers, which I shared with some who were there. First off, in the morning I asked the sun for strength to carry us and help us through the long day of presence, to stand by us in vigilant witness - witness to and of the will for healing, and of the will for peace.

Another prayer that came to me was to send positive regards to all of the people whom are in positions of power, people in places like Congress (and public officials generally), in the media, and in other positions of power (spiritual, religious, etc.) to ask them, and support them (lend them courage), to ask the appropriate and perhaps difficult questions about the horrible events of September 11th, 2001. For example, when did the US Government stop providing Osama bin Laden with material support to conduct his activities? ... I prayed (and I continue to do so) for those people (in positions of power) - and I send them my positive regards in hope that they will have the courage to stand up and begin to ask these important questions.

I also prayed for peace and healing and relief for those whom continue to suffer as a result of the horrible attacks of September 11th, 2001 (and any other related incidents as well as any incidents which are similar in nature.)

Many people died. Many families lost loved ones. I pray for those who lost family and friends. I pray that they may find healing and peace - and even perhaps somehow come out of this experience as somehow improved - better somehow, as a result of all this horrible pain and loss, this tragedy and madness.

So, out of such a terrible event such as the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, it may be something beautiful can be birthed. A phoenix may, out of the ashes, rise. I pray for that. I pray for the birth of a culture of true peace and respect, based in love (not fear.)

11 September 2008

More on the NFZA Repeal

If you want more information about the City Council's decision to repeal the NFZA and how people are taking it, here are a few more spots to look up. At OlyBlog, Emmett O'Connell has a summary compilation of local responses, including the one below on this page: Olympia Repeals Nuke Free Rule

Jason Taellious, reporting from the Olympia Standard has a list of links: Olympia’s Nuclear Free Ordinance Repealed (a list of links)

Between the two blogs listed above, you will be able to find a variety and a diversity of voices and opinions relating to this matter.

In Peace,

09 September 2008

City of Olympia Nuclear Free Zone Act Repeal

The Olympia City Council just voted to repeal the 2005 Nuclear Free Zone Act. It seems that the City of Olympia no longer feels that it is important, or appropriate, to legislate against the nuclear weapons establishment. There were many arguments in opposition to the repeal, and many similar arguments in favor of retaining the ordinance. Many people turned out to express their opinion. I wasn't counting, but it seemed like there were about 40 who went on record in support of retaining the ordinance. There were exactly two people at the meeting who expressed approval for repealing ordinance.

Wow. I was shocked when I heard of the motion to recommend repealing the ordinance. Now I am shocked again by the seemingly sudden decision to repeal. Let me say to make it plain and clear that it is my opinion that the Council Members did not adequately address the arguments of the citizens whom were gathered to express opposition to the repeal.

The meeting got underway at about seven. There were a few items of business before public comment. And an interesting matter of note occurred before public comment. Two Council Members spoke up to express their concern over the new council's practice of limiting public comment to 30 minutes. With two contentious issues (the noise ordinance was also on the agenda to be decided) on the meeting agenda tonight, there were a lot of people who wanted to speak. Many people were turned away at the door, told that they would not be allowed into the council chambers.

Frankly, I am in shock. This new council seems bent on changing Olympia. It's not [only] the repeal. It's the special maneuvering to enter the motion to repeal on the consent calendar (i.e. to pass it without discussion). It's the Council Members' inadequate rebuttals of their constituency's statements of support for the ordinance. It's a lot of things.

I have a lot to say about this and I will probably write more. You may have already read the letter I sent to the Council last week. I also provided oral testimony at tonight's meeting, and submitted a written version of that testimony. Maybe I will post a copy of that tomorrow, but hopefully that will show up in the public record in relation to tonight's decision to repeal the NFZ ordinance. This meeting will definitely provide for your entertainment. It was riveting at many points. Almost non-stop great testimony, so much eloquence on the part of citizens for a City Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons.

I seriously wonder what is going on. What is going on with Olympia? I am pretty much ready to wonder if our Council Members are serving the public interest.

One of the things that Mayor Mah said is that if the people who support the NFZA ordinance were to put as much energy into it at the national level, that he thinks something might come of it. All I have to say is that believe me. Our elected officials at the national level are not hearing this argument. Nor are they interested in establishing a nuclear free zone. That's why the local aspect is important.

If enough localities take important stands against the immoral and unethical manufacture and maintenance of nuclear weapons, then it makes it more possible for those at the national and international levels to take action. This is about principled leadership. This is about setting an example. This is about empowerment, and education. This is about knowledge, and awareness. This is about respect for history and a desire to see a better tomorrow - to create a better world. A world that is rid of the subtle yet pervasive looming threat of nuclear Armageddon.

Lots of emotion. Lots more rebuttals. This is a rough draft. I am going to publish it now. But know, please, that there is a lot more. I want answers. I want to be represented.

Public officials at the national level are not doing their job. They are not promoting the important tasks of nonproliferation and disarmament. Instead of doing those things, they are actually using the threat of nuclear weapons to intimidate their adversaries. Hardly fulfilling the public interest. For three years we had representation at the local level here in the City of Olympia. Now this. Sad. Shocking. To whom or what can we now turn for representation on this important issue?

You'll be able to find a link to a page with a link to video of the meeting at this page: City of Olympia Council

Here's a more direct link to the video: City of Olympia September 9, 2008 City Council Meeting Video

plain url (maybe subject to change): http://olympia.granicus.com/mediaplayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=386

[This move has aspects that are reminiscent of shock doctrine.]

[updated september 10th, 2008]