Saturday, February 25, 2012

Whiz-Bang Propaganda

Kudos to the Washington Post for questioning the provenance of this weekend's military blockbuster, "Act of Valor", complete with real, live SEALs and lots of "gee whiz" military hardware. The movie is the result of a Navy initiative to increase the number of SEALs to meet demands projected in a Quadrennial Defense Review. It's a feature-length recruiting film. It's also a further acclimation to constant war. It looks so cool.

If I think about it from the Navy's point of view, I would welcome the opportunity to show off. The US Navy and other military services are capable of some amazing shit that would make civilian heads spin. The teamwork needed to make all that technology work just right is testament to human spirit and ingenuity. I won't gainsay the skill and dedication of the men and women who put it all together.

I will question how much we need to make it all work and why. And that is where a film like "Act of Valor" is so pernicious. The viewer is so taken with the wonder of it all that the purpose of SEAL and other special force operations are never questioned. Do we really need 500 more SEALs? And to what ends? Rescuing hostages from Somali pirates is good but that type of capability is usually an afterthought to a primary national security mission. And even a high-profile takedown like Osama bin Laden is unlikely to be all too frequent. So what else will be done in our name? Why? "Act of Valor" doesn't go there.

The film makers talk of telling the story of "...this brotherhood and this depth of character amongst men, and the sacrifices they’ve been through in the last 10 years in sustained combat.” Without a doubt, the bonding and sacrifice are in the finest military tradition. But what about that ten years of sustained combat? Ten fucking years of war to in support of a regime that cannot prevent its own forces from attacking us. Ten years of war that have shattered soldiers, families and communities. "Act of Valor" doesn't go there either.

Where "Act of Valor" goes is after the 18 to 20 year old male who doesn't know to ask these questions. For the target audience, all that matters is mission, brotherhood and purpose. A chance to Kick Ass!

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Can We Possibly Do Worse?

Ten years of American government building in Afghanistan and this is what we get?
“Afghans and the world’s Muslims should rise against the foreigners. We have no patience left,” said an Afghan police officer at a checkpoint in central Kabul. He looked at his colleague, who stood next to him, nodding. “We both will attack the foreign military people.”“Afghans and the world’s Muslims should rise against the foreigners. We have no patience left,” said an Afghan police officer at a checkpoint in central Kabul. He looked at his colleague, who stood next to him, nodding. “We both will attack the foreign military people.”

We are so fucked.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Friends of Mine

Came across these pictures of folks outside of the GOP Clown Show last night in Arizona. My partner Maggie was Maura Yerdeaux (Mor'a Your Dough) of the Phoenix area Billionaires when we lived there. It's good to see old friends are keeping up the street theater.

Here's one of their greatest hits.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Occupy in Olympia

Beginning Friday and running through Monday, Olympia is hosting the Occupy Solidarity Forum, a gathering of members from the various Occupy sites from around the country. As nation-wide gatherings go, it's a smallish affair--maybe 200, including many locals--but the size does not preclude enthusiasm or vibrant exchange of ideas.

The size does not preclude diversity. At various functions I've met Occupiers from Phoenix, Tucson, Modesto and Missoula. One person came from the original Occupy Wall Street in New York. The couple from Phoenix drove up, giving workshops in San Francisco and Portland along the way. Two others came out from Washington, DC. Occupiers from Oakland gave one of Saturday's workshops. The Corporate State may have evicted the occupiers but the idea is very much alive.

I'm not deeply involved in the Occupy movement but I support its many goals and the idea of citizen activism to reclaim our lives, our planet and our future from corporate oligarchy. Perhaps its greatest lesson is that there are more of us than there are of the privileged 1%. The second great lesson is that the economic system that serves so many so poorly operates with our consent. Occupy is hardly the first recognize that strength and leverage--I heard S. Brian Wilson say the same at the Veterans For Peace conference in August--but Occupy is real step toward withdrawing that consent.

David Korten, author of Agenda for a New Economy, spoke last night and laid out a thoughtful, well-informed reasoned analysis of modern economic dysfunction and offered equally thoughtful, reasoned solutions for creating a human-centric economy. Earlier in the day, Foster Gamble hosted a screening of his documentary "Thrive" which covers much the same ground. The documentary is a bit out there in places but much of it rings true and is certainly more credible than the propagandistic pap served up by the media, interests and their government lackeys.

All this tells me that people are beginning to think, ask questions and act. I can see it in the Move Our Money campaign and the call to revoke the corporate charter of socially irresponsible corporations such as Massey Energy. Korten noted that we have one advantage that all previous movements have lacked: the ability to communicate and exchange information directly. Occupy and many other movements have used this tool effectively.

On this particular morning, I feel hopeful that we can defeat the Empire and create a sustainable, just and fair society. I look forward to an American Spring in 2012.

I would be remiss if I did not salute and thank the organizers of the Occupy Solidarity Forum. They put on two full days of workshops, speakers and entertainment at multiple locations throughout downtown Olympia. They fed many of the participants and helped many find low cost accommodations, including the more than 50 or so who camped at the State Labor Council Building. They are proof that the spirit of Occupy lives.

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