Supporting our Service Members and Their Families

by Steve, February 10th, 2012

warPeople like me who are opposed to war are often pitted against those who serve their country. This is a rhetorical trick, of course, which can easily be turned on the tricksters. After all, those who advocate sending young men and women to fight and die and get maimed in wars and occupations of choice are on thin ice when they claim to “support” the brave individuals they use as geopolitical pawns.
Coast Guard Vessels, downtown Portland, Ore.

It’s sad and unfortunate that the military-industrial machine provides the only sure-fire jobs program for the poor in this country.

My beef is with the trap, not the quarry. (Since this is such a simple distinction, I have to assume the righties who don’t get it are being disingenuous. Or, in some cases, maybe they’re just plain dumb.)

I recently found my photo above was used on the cover of a newsletter (PDF) put out by the Navy League of Santa Barbara, a civilian non-profit organization in support of sea service personnel.*

You know I’m not going to be all rah rah for this group, or agree with them politically on much (if anything). But we can surely agree that, whatever our political differences, the life choices of individual sailors, soldiers, marines and airmen are not at issue.

Rose Quarter club level(Did I ever mention I was a finalist for a Navy ROTC scholarship before withdrawing? How different my life might have been if I’d gone to sea as a junior commissioned officer instead of on the road with a band of hippies. And speaking of my photos being picked up, the ad agency that was putting together the annual report for NW Natural — sheesh, another Neil Goldschmidt connection — bought the rights to use this photo, but they never used it, apparently, at least not in anything I could find publicly.)

*The photo, like most of my photos on flickr, is offered to anyone for free use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike license. My thanks to the Navy League of Santa Barbara for adhering to this license and giving proper attribution. I’ve found several instances where people have felt inclined to use my photos without following the simple terms of the CC license.

Starbase Portland: The Big Picture

by Steve, November 20th, 2011

A video I made about Starbase Portland, a partnership of the US Department of Defense and Portland Public Schools aimed at 4th and 5th graders.

Wacky Mommy on STARBASE

by Steve, March 13th, 2010

My wife friggin’ rocked the school board last Monday… they didn’t voter our way, but I think we made them uncomfortable. All power to the people, sister!

What I’ll have to say about STARBASE this evening

by Steve, March 8th, 2010

warI was planning on addressing the school board tonight, but they’re limiting us to three speakers. So they’re having me address the rally ahead of time. Here’s what I’ve got:

Regardless of the curriculum offered by STARBASE in exchange for access to our preteens, there is a civil rights question to be answered: Is this military recruiting aimed at poor and minority students?

The second half of that question is easily answered. The Portland STARBASE Web site says the program is aimed at “at-risk youth.” Fourteen of the 18 schools participating this year are Title 1 schools, and the students at these schools are disproportionately non-white and poor when compared to the district as a whole.

The recruiting question is pretty clear to me, too, even though students, parents and teachers may love the program, and even if they don’t detect recruitment.

I want you to join me in a thought experiment tonight.

Some of you have been ten-year-old boys, and some of you have had ten-year-old sons or grandsons or nephews. I want you all to pretend, just for a minute or two, that you are all ten-year-old boys.

Boys of all ages love things that go. Things that go fast: even better. Now, as a ten-year-old boy, listen as I describe some of what you will see at Portland Air Base.

This base is home of the 142nd fighter wing, a fleet of F-15 Eagle fighter bombers. This supersonic twin-engine jet airplane is so light and powerful that it can accelerate into a vertical climb, like a rocket. The thrust of its engines is greater than its total weight, so it can make sharp turns without losing air speed. The F-15 has a thrilling combination of speed, maneuverability, high tech weapons, and avionics, including heads-up instrumentation display. This is one of the most performant vehicles in the world, and the only people who get to fly them are in the military.

The F-15 Eagle is typically outfitted with a variety of industrial weapons, like the Sparrow, AMRAAM and Sidewinder missiles and a 20 mm Gatling-style cannon, capable of firing depleted uranium shells at up to 7,200 rounds per minute. A modified version of the F15, the Strike Eagle, can deliver the B61, a multi-kiloton thermonuclear bomb.

In use since 1974, the F15, with all its various armaments, is among the deadliest, most formidable weapons systems on the planet. It continues to be a key piece of US air superiority, able to outperform every conceivable enemy aircraft. It is widely used by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as by Israel, Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Now, I know a lot of ten-year-old boys who would be getting pretty excited about this. The STARBASE Web site shows children climbing into the cockpit of an F-15 Eagle.

Without knowing anything about the curriculum, or anything about the base tour, or anything about the hour and a half talk about military careers that ends STARBASE, I’m here to tell you that showing a ten-year-old boy this aircraft, possibly introducing him to its pilot, is a form of recruitment.

The military’s recruiting manual notes the importance of contact with very young students as soon as they start thinking about the future. Many of the boys in my daughter’s fifth grade class are already talking about joining the military, even before they go to STARBASE.

So:

It doesn’t matter if students return from STARBASE and say there is no recruiting.

It doesn’t matter if some parents don’t think their children are bein recruited.

It doesn’t matter if teachers say the curriculum is great.

It doesn’t matter that the program is taught by civilians, and no recruiters are present for most of the program.

If the Departement of Defense considers this a recruiting program, it is a recruiting program.

A military recruiting program aimed at poor and minority preteens is a civil rights violation, and we should not be taking part.

Say NO! to STARBASE

by Steve, March 3rd, 2010

warSTARBASE, the Department of Defense’s childhood recruitment program, has been buying access to our children through Portland Public Schools for something like seventeen years. The school board is poised to approve selling access to another round of predominately poverty-affected, non-white fourth and fifth graders Monday.

Communities for Alternatives to Starbase Education (Facebook and Twitter), a group of mothers opposed to sending children to military bases at a time of war, will be there to help educate the public about this program (since the district doesn’t seem to like to share much information with families, even if they share student information with the military), with a press conference and rally at district headquarters. They’ve got the support of Jobs with Justice, Whitefeather Peace House, Students United for Nonviolence, the Oregon Peace Institute and the American Friends Service Committee’s Peace Building Program.

This peace-loving dad is also supporting courageous mothers everywhere who stand up for their children, and would love to see other conscious parents and children there, too:

  • Blanchard Education Service Center (BESC) 501 N. Dixon St., two blocks from the east end of the Broadway Bridge, just north of Memorial Coliseum.
  • 6 p.m., Monday, March 8, International Women’s day.

From the CASE Facebook page:

Come out to testify against or bear witness as the Portland Public School Board votes to allow military recruitment, under the guise of science education, of our children in grades K-5.

Military bases are not designed for children, they are not playgrounds.

Military bases, including our local Armory, store toxic materials and jet fuels; not safe for children.

We are a country at war, military bases are not safe places for civilians, especially children, during wartime. They are targets.

Military personnel returning from active duty may suffer unpredictable and often violent behavior as a result of service. Luckily no children were injured on the base in Texas when such an incident occurred.

Of the 18 schools participating in this program all but 4 are Title 1 schools. All but three have higher percentages of minority students, and all but four have higher poverty.

Violence is on the increase in our public schools and culture. Exposing our young, impressionable children to exciting, high tech, high powered, weapons will not help in our struggle to move toward a more tolerant and peaceful society.

Military & Draft Counseling Project Action Alert

by Steve, April 28th, 2008

schoolsThis just in from the Military & Draft Counseling Project:

Portland high school students need your help. Jollee Patterson, chief legal counselor for Portland Public Schools, is now advising high school administrators and the Portland School Board to no longer allow counter-recruitment activists equal access to respond to military recruiting in Portland high schools.

This is a change in long-standing practice. For many years, the assumption has been that, if military recruiters maintain a presence in schools, then counter-recruiters have a right to a comparable presence. In practice, this usually means that, if military recruiters do tabling during the lunch hour, then counter-recruiters should be granted the opportunity to do the same.

The National Lawyers Guild has written a letter to Jollee Patterson, at our request, challenging her arguments and her advice to the school district. Her main argument is that, if Portland Public Schools grants access to counter-recruiters, that opens the door to a myriad of other political groups who might want to set up a literature tables in a high school. This is a bogus argument because it ignores the crucial fact that military recruiters are already in schools and spreading their lies and a response is required!

ACTION #1: Please email all 8 school board members and/or phone the two school board co-chairs and assert our right to equal access Tell them:

  • Students deserve at least a balance of information about military enlistment.
  • Military recruiters cannot be trusted to tell the truth about what students can expect from military service.
  • Most school districts throughout the nation grant some form of access to counter-recruiters because it is morally and legally the right thing to do.
  • Jollee Patterson should be told (by the school board) to stand down on this issue and stop advising high school administrators to exclude counter-recruitment activists.

Portland School Board members

ACTION #2: You are invited to the next Portland School Board meeting on Monday, April 28th at the school district admin. building (BESC), 501 N. Dixon St., Portland 97227.

  • Meet at 6:45pm at the main entrance. We will stand with signs as people enter.
  • After the meeting begins (7pm), we will stand with our signs in the foyer behind the board meeting room. We will be very visible to the school board members.
  • School board meetings often last until 9 or 9:30pm. Stay as long as you can, an hour is great.
  • There is an opportunity for citizen comment at the end of the meeting, but you must sign up ahead of time. Call me if you are interested.

For more information, please contact the Military & Draft Counseling Project, 503-238-0605.
Email: jgrueschow@comcast.net.