I’ve gotten lots of requests for comments about the ongoing situation involving [tag]Marine recruiting[/tag], the city of [tag]Berkeley[/tag], and Federal Legislators threatening to punish citizens by withholding money from, among other things, the schools. I’m not there, so I can’t comment directly on the situation. I may not even understand the situation at all, for that matter. But I can comment on some of the assumptions present in some of the emails and articles and news stories I’ve seen or been sent.

For starters, Berkeley’s mayor, Tom Bates, was a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, and apparently not a lifelong anarchist. (Or, if is his, he was probably the most confused Army officer ever).

Second of all, Code Pink as an organization (which I am not a spokesperson for) does not advocate fragging. Code Pink supports the troops, not the war.

Anyone who thinks the tactics some recruiters use aren’t predatory are high.

And last of all, if you’re so damned determined to send every able-bodied American to serve in this so-called nobel war, why don’t you shut up and go set an example?

If you’d like to read more about the recruiting practices being protested, you can check out this page.

Sure, there are liberal activists who would like to dismantle the military. There are Conservatives who want to abolish the federal government and organize around militias, too. Focusing on the fringe isn’t a very good way to have a rational conversation.

The core issue here isn’t to my understanding the existence of the military, nor is it about people who choose to become public servants by joining the armed forces. It’s the increasingly desperate and deceptive recruiting practices that have most people concerned.

I’m rather tired and I’m sure after 9 or 10 drafts I could make this cogent and reasonable, but then I’d never get around to posting it.

Nothing has exploded and no one is wounded in Phil Nesmith’s photographs of Iraq. And that might be the most extraordinary thing about his show, opening Saturday at Irvine Contemporary.

“My Baghdad” chronicles Nesmith’s two trips to the war zone in ambrotypes– hazy, antique-looking images created on glass plates.

The surprisingly placid images were shot in 2003-04 and during a brief stint in 2006, and they include barren Iraqi landscapes, birds on a wire and sunsets marred only by a passing helicopter. They have the patina of old Civil War photographs, but were shot digitally — because things move too quickly in Iraq to pull out a large camera and wait for a long exposure. “It’s too dangerous for that,” Nesmith says.

[read the whole article]

Phil’s blog is here and this is his [tag]Ferrotype[/tag] site.

The opening reception for Phil Nesmith: My Baghdad is at Irvine Contemporary from 6-8 on Saturday. You should check out his work. And encourage him to sell me the picture I want to buy that isn’t for sale, if you just happen to have him cornered.

Free Burma!

I know that Free Burma, who’ve organized the “one blog post” campaign, want participants to post the graphic in lieu of a real post today, but I’m not very good at following directions so I’d like to direct you to the website of the [tag]U.S. Campaign for Burma[/tag], which I believe is one of the best informational site about the human rights situation in [tag]Burma[/tag].

(Disclaimer: Husband’s school-friend Jeremy runs this organization, but I’d be deeply impressed with their work even if we didn’t know them).

Today, the options seem to be despair or hope. I’ll pick hope. Here’s a link to [tag]The People Speak[/tag], a program that developed out of the [tag]United Nations Foundation[/tag]. The initiative brings young people together to debate current events issues in a structured environment and the website strives to create “…a community of young people who are passionate about global issues.” By all accounts, it’s working.

The [tag]ACLU[/tag] has an extensive section on their website dedicated to [tag]domestic spying[/tag]. The whole situation is deeply troubling and I don’t wish to make light of it, but something in an October press release caught my eye:

Also included in the documents is information on a series of protests mistakenly identified as taking place in Springfield, Illinois (the protests actually occurred in Springfield, Massachusetts). According to the document, “Source received an e-mail from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), e-mail address: [REDACTED] that stated that on March 18-20, a series of protest actions were planned in the Springfield, IL area… to focus on actions at military recruitment offices with the goals to include: raising awareness, education, visibility in community, visibility to recruiters as part of a national day of action.”

The people tasked with protecting the homeland can’t tell the difference between Springfield, Illinois and Springfield, Massachusetts?

Nevertheless, the more I think about it the more I think that maybe they’re barking up the right tree after all. After all, Sidwell Friends is considered the premier [tag]Quaker[/tag] school. A fair number of our friends there and look how well they turned out.

And how about some of Sidwell’s most prominent alums: Tricia and Julie Nixon? Nancy Reagan? Valerie Rusmfeld? I hope someone checked them for Quaker-implanted mind control devices. You can’t be too careful, from the looks of the FOIA documents the ACLU has posted.

In the months this post has marinated in my draft-file, I’ve thought more about the issue. And thinking about what a dedicated and committed Quaker [tag]Richard Nixon[/tag] was, I’m wondering if maybe they weren’t watching the Quakers closely enough

No, that’s wrong. I’m kidding. Aren’t I? I think so. Yes. Definitely kidding.

You can search the ACLU site for more about domestic wiretapping, spying and Quakers, they’ve posted a considerable number of documents, statements, and testimony transcripts since I started this post (last October).

John Kerry, speaking before the Unity Journalists of Color Convention in DC, noted we need to fight a more sensitive war on terror. Dick Cheney and other closed-minded folk on the right had a field day with these remarks.

How come so far the Daily Show is the only one to note that W said the same fucking thing, to the same crowd, on the same day? Really. It’s on the White House site:

Now in terms of the balance between running down intelligence and bringing people to justice obviously is — we need to be very sensitive on that.

Before you cry “context!” go read the whole thing. Contextually, he’s saying much the same thing as Kerry. If we don’t want to trample the rights of everyone, create a bigger mess by mocking other cultures, and just generally mess up the world and make everyone hate us (more) we’ve got to be more sensitive to a lot of issues to fight an effective war on terror. It’s commonsense. So why is it insane when Kerry says it and patriotic when Bush does?

What reminded me of this weeks after the event? Well, for starters I’m still getting email forwards mocking Kerry for speaking to this “special interest group” and saying such “stupid things” despite W’s similar participation and assertions at the same event.

Plus, I just got this editorial in my email. Not that the rest of the editorial isn’t fun, fun, fun; but here’s the last 2 paragraphs of Bernadette Malone’s screed about protestors:

Protestors are complaining already that the FBI is visiting them and sowing intimidation. Who cares? As long as theyíre not planning to break the law, protestors should have no reason to fear inquiries from law enforcement officials.

Bloomberg is calling for a sensitive war on protestor-terrorists, the way John Kerry is naively calling for a more sensitive war on international terrorists. Instead of manufacturing smiley-face buttons to pin on potentially unruly protestors, Bloomberg should be manufacturing plastic handcuffs.

It’s interesting that the assumption that all protestors are mouse-releasing, AIDS-spreading, islamic terrorists is so casually accepted by the Right. If I said that everyone attending the RNC was a racist, bigoted, imperialist my site would be tanked by another denial-of-service attack faster than you can say “hypocracy.”

From MichaelMoore.com:

How can I ever thank all of you who went to see it? These records are mind-blowing. They have sent shock waves through Hollywood – and, more importantly, through the White House.

But it didn’t just stop there. The response to the movie then went into the Twilight Zone. Surfing through the dial I landed on the Fox broadcasting network which was airing the NASCAR race live last Sunday to an audience of millions of Americans — and suddenly the announcers were talking about how NASCAR champ Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took his crew to see ìFahrenheit 9/11î the night before. FOX sportscaster Chris Myers delivered Earnhardtís review straight out of his mouth and into the heartland of America: ìHe said hey, it’ll be a good bonding experience no matter what your political belief. It’s a good thing as an American to go see. Whoa! NASCAR fans! you canít go deeper into George Bush territory than that! White House moving vans – START YOUR ENGINES!

Last night I had an exciting stack of documentaries to catch up on. In my netflix frenzy, however, I’d made an error. I was, for reasons I can’t explain, thinking Underworld was an indie doc about sweatshops. Boy, was I wrong. It’s a really cool movie about a war between vampires and werewolves. Great story, superb action, , beautiful cinematography and tons of clever plot twists. Very fun.

Laura and I didn’t get to the theater to pick up our tickets in time to sit together so we had to split up. During the previews, I convinced the geezers I was sitting with to see Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. That was fun.

The guy who was sitting in front of me works for a defense contractor and was forbidden by his employer from seeing the movie. While I salute him for going anyway, I wanted to explain to him, “Dude, if you’d shut up about not being allowed to see the movie, no one around you would know you’re not allowed to see the movie.” I didn’t say anything, but I thought it a lot. I also thought a lot about taking the John Kerry bumper sticker out of my purse and adhering it to his back, but I didn’t do that, either.

There was so much applause I missed a lot of the narration – and we saw the movie in Virginia, where I am often told by Marylanders, we are all without exception intolerant, gun-toting, homophobic, rightwing, assholes. Go figure.

I thought the film was well-paced and well-constructed. Moore is really at the top of his game here – I admit I was a bit worries because I often found The Awful Truth to be sort of meandering and hit or miss, but this time he really gets it right. I’d say it’s one of the most important major releases of the year, in fact I’d say it was the most important release of the year but I think that title goes to SuperSize Me. The longstanding health implications and questions that film raises about what we’re feeding the next generation and what we’re teaching them about nutrition need to be screamed from the rooftops.

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose. You can see them both.

Recently I saw footage of the Gulf War Protests in Lafayette Park. No, not this Gulf War, the the first one. Deja vu all over again, as the joke goes.

I’m feeling kind of shallow today, so rather than pose tough questions about our oil-crazed foreign policy initiatives, I’m instead going to tell you what I’m really thinking as I watch our young earnest selves on this tape.

Why does Ian MacKaye look practically the same to me on both tapes when I look so much older in the tapes from the recent protests?

Gotta be the lighting.

Or maybe it’s just that I look very, very young on the ’91 tapes, not that I look old on the recent tapes. Sure. I’ll buy that for a dollar.

On a whim, I searched online for pictures from the 1991 protests and to my surprise found actual video (not the same video I saw, but that’s not the point). Check out Alan’s excellent demand media site to see that footage and more.