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.

Love conquers all: in memoriam 9/11/2010

by Steve, September 11th, 2010

warThe truth cannot be hidden, and it is a fact that the world is ruled by an increasingly concentrated elite who have no regard for the future of humanity. On this ninth anniversary of a horrific act of murder, launched by criminally deluded believers, we should assert, to ourselves and our neighbors, that war is also a criminal, immoral enterprise, and acknowledge that the decade of war and destruction we have wrought on the people of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan is on a scale almost unimaginable to most Americans.

Humankind teeters on the brink, with an old guard, counter-progressive elite clinging to power — through warfare and global economic oppression — even as they endanger the very survival of humankind on planet Earth.

As R. Buckminster Fuller said, we must turn from making “killingry” to making “livingry.” The alternative to this planetary shift of consciousness will surely be many thousands more slaughtered. Or extinction.

As a memorial to the millions of innocents extinguished in the wars of modern times, let’s make the shift.

What did you learn in school today?

by Steve, September 3rd, 2010

I love Pete Seeger, here singing a Tom Paxton song, apropos the start of a new school year:

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.

Sir! No Sir! screening Saturday

by Steve, February 23rd, 2009

warSir! No Sir!, the suppressed story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam, is being screened this Saturday as a benefit for the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee’s anti-war delegation to Venezuela.

Details:

  • Saturday February 28
  • Doors open at 5:30pm
  • Event begins at 6pm
  • Limited seating – Tickets: sliding scale $5 to $10
  • Musicians Union Hall, 325 NE 20th Ave., Portland, Ore.
  • For tickets call: Dan Shea 503.661.1317, or e-mail djshea@hotmail.com

Fundraiser for PCASC’s anti-war delegation is an effort to cultivate ties of international solidarity between activists for peace and social justice in the US and Venezuela.

Proceeds from this event will go to help send IVAW (Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans Against the War) along with a PCASC delegation as observers to witness and to report back on the recent elections, supports and oppositions to the Government of Venezuela. An event is being arranged in Caracas to have a Winter Soldier hearing (eyewitness reports by IVAW) on US policies that have endangered the lives of our military men and women and innocent Iraqi civilians leading to war crimes and reasons why members of IVAW are refusing to redeploy, or to further participate in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. IVAW is organizing active military soldiers to join them in building a GI resistance movement and to advocate for returning veterans rights, jobs, benefits and healing by working for peace and reintegration into our communities.

If you cannot attend or if the screening is sold-out but you want to help support this effort and would like to make a tax-deductible contribution you can write a check to Education WithOut Borders, earmark PCASC/IVAW 2009; mail to: EWOB, 19716 NE Flanders, Portland , OR 97230.

Atheists, welcome. Socialists? Not so much.

by Steve, January 20th, 2009

politicsI should be thrilled, as an atheist, to be on President Obama’s short list: “Christians and Muslims. Jews and Hindus — and non-believers.” Seriously. For all the God goin’ around today (some of it a tad — ahem — intolerant), I was surprised to get an atheist shout-out. (As for my Sikh, Buddhist, Wiccan, Pagan, Confucianist, Shintoist, Jainist, Bahá’í, and agnostic brothers and sisters, they may not feel so special being grouped in with us non-believers.)

Less surprising was President Obama’s ode to the market and its “power to generate wealth and expand freedom.”

Well, it’s sure provided the idle rich with a lot more wealth and freedom over the past 30 years, but any student of economics knows the market doesn’t create wealth. It merely distributes wealth, which is created from capital and raw materials by human labor. The market has proven itself very adept at the upward redistribution of wealth from those who create it to those who finance it.

Obama’s proposed trillion dollar (we all know it’ll get there) stimulus plan is a bastard child of New Deal-style public works investment and Reagan-era trickle down (better-termed “shovel up”) economics.

Them rich capitalist bastards don’t need any damned retro-active tax breaks. In fact, we need to levy a wealth tax on their accumulated capital, and use it to finance even more public investment. The kind that not only builds roads and schools, but also reinforces our tattered social safety net with universal cradle-to-grave health care.

Don’t get me wrong, folks. I’ve been doing the happy dance all day, ‘cuz George W. Bush went riding off into the sunset today, and the election of Barack Hussein Obama II is undoubtedly one of the most important milestones in our nation’s history. His suspension of the kangaroo court at Gitmo is a significant ray of hope, even as he continues the jingoistic talk of being “at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.”

(The notion of a “war on violence” is more ironic than a “war on terror” is risible, and equally absurd, isn’t it?)

Portland rallies for the people of Gaza

by Steve, January 9th, 2009

warI have been completely unable to take in, process and write about what’s going on in Gaza right now. Juan Cole, as usual, has expert analysis on his blog, as well as on Salon.

If you know nothing else about this carnage, know that your tax money is going to slaughter women, children, and the elderly. This is not “fighting”, as they keep saying on NPR, this is a massacre.

Cease fire now!

Protest the attacks on Gaza, 11 am – 1 pm Saturday, January 10, NE 13th and Broadway in Portland.

Demonstration against the Israeli attacks on Palestinians

3 pm, January 10, Pioneer Courthouse Square

Called for by Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, Sabeel North America, American Jews for a Just Peace and other organizations. For further information, contact Hala Gores at Hala@goreslaw.com or (503)307-9339 or Peter Miller at Pmiller@auphr.org or (503)358-7475.