Happy May Day!

by Steve, May 1st, 2008

I always find that on International Workers Day it is good to reflect on the basic reality that labor creates all wealth. This year, as the global economy teeters on the brink of calamity, the end game of three decades of deregulation of the financial sector, this concept is especially poignant.

Hedge fund managers, investment bankers and stock traders don’t create wealth, they skim it. It would actually be more accurate to say they steal it, since they don’t produce anything of intrinsic value to society.

The sub-prime crisis is just the canary in the coal mine, indicating a financial system rife with ethical corruption and iniquity. Among other things, this crisis represents one of the greatest transfers of wealth away from black Americans in the history of our nation. To blame the victims, even as we bail out the predators to the tune of $30 billion, is as offensive as it is ignorant.

Capitalism is predicated on continuous growth. Like a shark, it must keep moving to survive. This basic premise ignores the fact that we live in a closed system with finite resources. It is becoming undeniable that the system is feeding on itself in a way that, if left to its own devices, will lead to its demise, much like Marx predicted.

It may not be too late to steer clear of total collapse. The first step is to re-regulate all aspects of the financial sector.

We’ve also got to stop squandering money and lives on the Iraq occupation. This military adventure is part and parcel of the gross upward redistribution of wealth of the past decades.

And we’ve got to socialize health care in this country as part of a new New Deal. Instead of continuing our devastating investment in “killingry,” as R. Buckminster Fuller called it, we need to reinvest in “livingry.”

Will Obama be the FDR to Bush’s Hoover? So far both Democratic candidates have bent over backwards to show their loyalty to Wall Street, which indicates we’re not likely to see any major change of course from three decades of bi-partisan neoliberal deregulation.

There is another way, which is better for the planet, better for our neighbors, and which, above all, gives credit where credit is due: to the workers.

Too bad nobody running for president is willing to talk about it.

Military & Draft Counseling Project Action Alert

by Steve, April 28th, 2008

This 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.

Portland Peace Rally Tomorrow

by Steve, March 14th, 2008

Peace Rally flierStop the War, Bring the Troops Home Now!
This Saturday, join PDX Peace in the South Park Blocks for World Without War: a day of resistance and hope.
Where: South Park Blocks (SW Park and Madison)
When: Saturday, March 15, 2008
10:00-6:00 Action Camp featuring workshops, exhibits, performances, music, food and more!
2:00 Rally and March

More information

Navy Offers All-Expense Paid Trips to PPS Educators

by Steve, March 12th, 2008

With two wars raging and an all-volunteer military, the armed forces have to be pretty crafty to meet their recruitment goals. Inner-city high schools are a favorite place for them to target youth who might not have much in the way of opportunity, and Portland is no exception.

But here’s something I’ve never heard of before: The Navy is offering all-expense paid trips to San Diego for PPS educators.

Here’s the text of an e-mail that went out recently.

Dear Educator,

As the Education Services Specialist for Navy Recruiting District, Portland I would like to invite you to our upcoming Educator Orientation Visit to Naval Station San Diego, Naval Amphibious Base Coronado and Naval Air Station North Island, in Sand Diego, California this April 14-18th. As space is limited, please contact me via email or phone as
soon as possible.

The purpose of the tour is to familiarize educators and community leaders with the education, training, and occupational opportunities that are available to young men and women in today’s Navy.

While at the bases you will have an opportunity to view many young men and women who have taken advantage of the training and job opportunities only the Navy can provide. You will visit naval vessels and aircraft and receive first hand knowledge of the outstanding training that our sailors provide and receive. The Naval Station is homeport for approximately 60 ships and the workplace for 48,000 military and civilian personnel. During the tour, you will have the opportunity to observe training and interact with the officer and enlisted personnel in the work environment. Attached is a proposed itinerary.

As a guest of Navy Recruiting, the Navy will pay all transportation costs from Portland to San Diego. Lodging and meal expenses will be reimbursed by the Navy as well. Tour size is limited to 15 educators. Please contact me as soon as possible and we can go over the details.

I hope you will be able to join us in San Diego. I am confident the trip will be both educational and enjoyable. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me at 503 xxx-xxxx.

Warmest Regards,
[name withheld], M.Ed.
Education Services Specialist
NRD Portland

How Much Is Health Care Worth to Bush?

by Steve, October 3rd, 2007

Answer: Not very much.

With a veto of a five-year, $35 billion bipartisan expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), Bush has shown he doesn’t give a rip about the health of our nation’s children.

If you think this veto is really about rejecting expansion of government or Bush being a deficit hawk, compare and contrast his weekly $2 billion spent on his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s $520 billion over five years. In other words, our children’s health isn’t even worth 6% of what we’re spending to expand the part of our government that’s blowing shit up in Iraq.

In Memoriam, 2007

by Steve, May 28th, 2007

In the waning hours of Memorial Day, a US holiday evidently devoted to the beginning of barbecue season, I sit awake, thinking about the war dead. It is traditional to commemorate those who fought and died for their county, and surely they deserve their due. But I have to give you another perspective.

Because the soldiers who die in “modern” warfare are in the minority. Most casualties are civilian. Women, children, old people. Dying in their beds, on the street, at the market, at school. In the US wars of my lifetime, several million civilians have been slaughtered. In Viet Nam, some 60,000 US soldiers died, bringing untold grief to their families and loved ones. But anywhere from 2 to upwards of 6 million Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian civilians were killed. In the current Iraq war, we will soon have over 3,000 US troops killed, and tens of thousands more badly disfigured. A statistical survey by the Lancet last June found 654,000 excess Iraqi deaths due to the US invasion and occupation.

Memorial Day has a way of distracting from the brutal reality of warfare. Can we honor fallen soldiers while questioning their mission? (I say yes.) But maybe the best way to honor their memory is to also remember the vastly greater number of fallen civilians. Maybe if we can see war for what it really is — extreme violence against the very weak — we can finally put an end to it. What political goal is so noble and righteous that the wholesale slaughter of children is warranted? To honor the war dead, combatants and noncombatants alike, we must reject war and shun those who sell it and profit from it. How many more children must be sacrificed before this is clear?

Would Che Have Skated?

by Steve, March 21st, 2007

I told Wacky Mommy, if Che had been Canadian, he’d have been out at the rink with the guys, smacking pucks around. She thinks I’m nuts.

So I thought I’d make a t-shirt design with Che as a skater. It would say something like “Left Winger”. But it turns out Cafe Press will have nothing to do with selling images of Che, at least not that one famous one in particular. Back in 2000, Alberto Diaz Gutierrez (a.k.a. Alberto Korda) claimed copyright to the famous image which is based on his original photograph. There’s a lot of convoluted debate about fair use, not to mention the fact that Fidel never signed on to international copyright accords. Nevertheless, Korda successfully claimed copyright in British court, and stopped Smirnoff from using the image in a vodka ad. Which I think is a good thing. (Korda said it never bothered him when people used the image in solidarity with Cuba, just when it was used against Cuba or to sell something. Which I guess is what I wanted to do, so…..)

So since Cafe Press said no, and my research made me feel a little guilty about wanting to sell t-shirts with that (ahem) maybe a tad tasteless image, my wacky shirt idea has transformed into a minor site redesign. Hope you like it, and find the irony in it. In case you don’t, here is my Thursday Thirteen, all about irony.

  1. Che probably never played hockey. But he looks good on skates, no?
  2. I am a pacifist, and this is an anti-war site. Yet Che Guevara made his name as a warrior.
  3. I am a vegetarian, pacifist hockey addict.
  4. The longer I live the more I see the pure, unadulterated truth that lies at the heart of every contradiction.
  5. I’m a socialist, yet I sell crap on my crappy Web site.
  6. I don’t think I’m going to make it
  7. to thirteen tonight.
  8. And I hope you don’t care
  9. if I just go to bed
  10. and bid you farewell
  11. and
  12. Good
  13. night.

13 Ways Bush’s Goose is Cooked

by Steve, March 7th, 2007

It’s not a great time to be a Bush fan in America, as evidenced by near rock-bottom approval ratings (even before the Libby verdict was read). As the wheels start to fall off of the Bush administration, I thought it would be appropriate to take stock of the state of things. So here are just a few things that aren’t going so hot for our Chimp in Chief.

  1. Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s former #1 confidant and adviser, is a convicted liar and obstructer of justice. Libby was one of the highest ranking and most influential members of the Bush administration, and his trial and conviction have exposed criminal corruption all the way to the top of the Bush administration. There can be no doubt, from testimony given and evidence presented, that Scooter Libby lied to take the fall for Dick Cheney and Karl Rove (and ultimately Bush). Juan Cole has an excellent illustrated history of the Cheney/Rove/Libby/Wilson affair.
  2. If congress convenes hearings about the Valerie Wilson affair, the malfeasance of all major administration figures could be cast in a most unflattering light.
  3. The White House response to the Libby verdict of continued stonewalling has brought criticism from the most unlikely of places: Scott McLellan. The man most famous for his non-answers to the Washington press corps now says this: “I would be advising the White House to get out there and find some way to talk about this in enough detail to answer some of questions that . . . are still hanging out there.”
  4. Oversight. The firing of federal prosecutors for questionable reasons (to put it in the best possible light) is just the beginning of what real congressional oversight will bring to light. That’s government working, folks.
  5. The mistreatment of wounded soldiers at DOD and VA hospitals has shown the flagrant disregard the Bush administration has for our troops. It also further exposes the lack of planning that went into the war in Iraq. All administration predictions had it ending long ago. Remember, we were going to be greeted as liberators! Flowers and candy bars! USA! USA! Somehow Bush didn’t plan on there being a little something called civil war erupting between ethnic factions once the strong man was gone. (Somehow the neocons neglected to read any history of the region before trying to remake it to their liking.)
  6. Iraq is going from bad to worse. More attacks every day in a growing civil war, and Bush remains in denial, committed to sending still more troops to fight and die in what most Americans now view as an unwinnable war.
  7. Which brings us to polls. The USA Today/Gallup Poll published Monday shows a solid majority of nearly two-thirds disapprove of Bush’s handling of his job as president.
  8. 59% of Americans believe going into Iraq was a mistake.
  9. Only 28% of Americans have any confidence the US will “win” in Iraq.
  10. Fully 84% of Americans think we need to withdraw from Iraq.
  11. One in five Americans think we should withdraw immediately.
  12. The members of our armed services have been used, abused and stretched to the breaking point. Members of the National Guard and Reserve, citizen soldiers who signed up for a weekend a month and a few weeks a year have had their lives upended with repeated and extended tours of duty in war zones. With so many communities touched in some way by this extended morass, it’s not surprising that…
  13. …only 13% of Americans think we should send more troops to Iraq.

If so many lives weren’t at stake, it might be enjoyable to see the chickens coming home to roost for the Bush administration. But the shameful truth is that they tipped off a series of events that have destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives. Millions of people will continue to be affected by the long-term devastation that the Bush doctrine has wrought.

This damage will take many years to repair. But perhaps things have bottomed out. It’s difficult to imagine things getting much worse under Bush, so maybe — just maybe — we are beginning to see signs of the pendulum swinging back in the other direction. We can only hope.

War Must End (and Thirteen Imaginings for a Better World)

by Steve, March 1st, 2007

Note that I don’t say the war. I said War Must End. It’s the 21st century. Killing children as means to political ends can no longer be rationalized by sane humans. The future of civilization is at stake. We are at a crossroads.

There can be no disputing that the Bush Doctrine has been a complete and total disaster. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children dead, many more wounded, many, many more displaced, shattered and weary. Hundreds of billions of dollars (more than enough to insure our own nearly 50 million uninsured and fix our broken public schools) squandered on a futile war and its disastrous after-effects. And let’s not forget the equally disastrous side-effect: A recent study finds a nearly seven-fold increase in terrorism due to what it calls the “Iraq Effect”.

And right when you think it can’t get any worse, you find out much of the intelligence on Iran and North Korea is bunk, too.

The neoconservative doctrine of preemption may perhaps best be described as a cataclysmic failure of imagination.

It is time to stop the madness. All leaders who would attack another country unprovoked should be deposed. Let’s get past this bullshit and spend our treasure fixing what’s broke in our own house, not destroying our neighbor’s.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about. It’s still Thursday (at least in Portland), and Thursday Thirteen has been handed off and resurrected before it even hit the ground. Thanks to Carol and all the crew over at TT central for keeping this crazy blog meme thing going. In the spirit of hope and confidence, I give you Thirteen Imaginings for a Better World.

  1. Imagine a sudden outbreak of peace.
  2. Imagine that people will no longer tolerate spending two billion dollars — that’s two thousand million dollars — every week in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  3. Imagine we no longer need fossil fuels. We know we are surrounded by untapped, limitless energy.
  4. Imagine we know how to tap it. Cleanly, safely.
  5. Imagine you wake up one day and know there is no war anywhere on the planet.
  6. Imagine that same day realizing that much of what you knew yesterday is wrong. The things you were most certain about: those are the things you are most wrong about.
  7. Imagine discovering, suddenly and certainly, that you are much larger than your corporeal self, and have a direct, deep and literal connection to many people on Earth you’ve never met, and some you have, as well as to the Earth itself.
  8. Imagine the entire globe as a single, living organism working together, for once and forevermore, in harmony.
  9. Imagine that power.
  10. Imagine using all that power to reforest deserts, clean up all pollution, and feed and house all of humanity comfortably.
  11. Imagine that there is no hunger, no poverty, no crime.
  12. Imagine all these things actually will happen. Put yourself there and feel it.
  13. Imagine looking up at the sky, past billions upon billions of stars, deeply into the universe, and seeing — with perfect clarity — yourself.

    Watching yourself.

    Are you doing the right thing?

And with that, I bid you Good Night.

The Shop is Back!

by Steve, February 12th, 2007

More Hockey Less War Stickermhlw-olive-240×240.jpg

I finally got off my booty and got the merchandise sorted out and put back online. I’ve reorganized it so that each design has its own Cafe Press shop, and you can choose from many styles for any given design.

I’ve been checking out the quality of stuff, and I’ve pulled one of my designs that printed poorly. If you buy anything, and it doesn’t look like you expect from the photos, be sure to return it for a refund. Cafe Press has a full satisfaction guarantee. If nothing gets returned, I will never know if a design isn’t working, or if there’s any problem with the process.

Proceeds help pay for bandwidth to keep this site (and others) online. Thanks for your support!