Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waitukubuli Trail End to End

Great news out of Dominica. The first two native Dominicans to hike the entire Waitukubuli Trail end to end have finished their trek. Congratulations to Jerry Brisbane and Clement Rabess.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dollars Against the Wars, Frame #7

According to Forbes Magazine, in 2008, the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan consumed 25 million barrels of oil. By the time the aggregate costs of supplying a gallon of gas to troops in the field are added in, the average price to the US military of a gallon of battle gas is $45.

These three dollars won't get you a gallon of gas at the pump in D.C.

Dollars Against the Wars

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dollars Against the Wars, Frame #6

In Nader's address to the March 19, 2011 rally, he noted that at present the United States is spending $700 million PER DAY on the "occupations" of Iraq and Afghanistan.

These three dollars not among them .....

Dollars Against the Wars

Lessons from Nader

Ralph Nader was one of the key speakers at the anti-war rally on March 19, 2011 in Lafayette Park in front of the White House. Dressed in a dark overcoat, collared shirt and tie, he waited like a burdened prophet behind the stage for his chance to speak. Ever serious, ever the heavy-browed activist, Nader, though a political candidate for president in the last election cycle, is not a politician. He's too candid to be a politician. He is a grim realist, a man who for decades has been the messenger with the upsetting news and dire pronouncements.

Ralph Nader (r) waiting to address the rally

Mainstream Democratic politicians and their courtiers (to borrow the term used by Chris Hedges to describe sycophants like network TV anchors and White House press beat journalists who dutifully and unquestioningly disseminate the party line) long ago cast Nader out of the club. Many people with political views left of the centrist Democrats demonize Nader for, in their interpretation, helping ensure Bush's 2004 re-election by siphoning off votes from the feckless corporate Democratic candidate, John Kerry. For a strong rebuttal of this analysis, see Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class (pages 173-182), wherein he begins:

"The descent of Ralph Nader, from being one of the most respected and powerful figures in the country to being an outcast illustrates perhaps better than any other narrative the totality of our corporate coup and the complicity of the liberal class in our disempowerment."

Nader's address to the rally covered some of the usual anti-war and anti-corporate criticisms but also included practical instructions and considerations for the progressive Left.

Lesson #1. Because funding of the wars must go through "... those 535 men and women in Congress who put their shoes on everyday like we do ..." as a Movement we must focus our attention on them. But how do we get them to pay attention, to listen to the demands of the progressive anti-war Left?

Lesson #2. We must learn from other successful citizen action groups, in particular the most successful such organization out there today, AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee), an organization now so successful that they "get over 95% of the members of Congress" to support their causes and issues. "That is the kind of citizen action to learn from!"

And this is where Nader's address got a little personal and duly critical of those to whom he was imparting these thoughts:

"How do they do it? First of all, they don't blow off steam unless it's focused, laser-like, on every member of Congress ... I can't emphasize enough that we can have massive rallies - there was one of 200,000 that some of you were at in 2003 - but if we do not take that energy and zero it in on each member of Congress ..." and relentlessly bombard them with our demands and our message then we won't succeed.

Lesson #3. Organize and fund raise and "connect with that general public sentiment" that is overwhelmingly against the wars and focus that sentiment on the members of Congress. The task must be to get Congress to shut off funding of the wars.

"Cutting off funding is what Congress can do. You see, the Executive Branch, the Imperial Presidency, has a momentum of its own and it can do whatever it wants - until the money runs out."

Finally, Lesson #4. Find some rich people sympathetic to the public sentiment because "it takes money" to hire organizers, pay for transportation, etc. "You've got to go back and assume that at least 1% of the really rich people where you live, some of them veterans, are gonna' put some money in - but they're never asked! Because they're just written off with the stereotype of 'rich people' ..."

Watch and listen to Nader's address:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dollars Against the Wars, Frame #5

Three dollars circulating the nation's capital since 3/19/2011 .... meanwhile, since 9/11/2001, $1.15 trillion have circulated OUT of Washington and into the great insatiable maw called "the war on terror."

Dollars Against the Wars

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hedges, Hope, and Spectacle

Chris Hedges has often stated that hope, real hope and not the packaged hope of political sloganeering, can only come now in individual and collective acts of direct resistance. In his article No Other Way Out from, he indicated that the March 19, 2011 protest at the White House would be just such an act.

Partially on his passionate and reasoned words, and partially out of a sense of personal shame for having done essentially nothing to voice my opposition to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan since taking part in the huge protests that lead up to the Iraq invasion in 2003, I went to the action at the White House. I carried a homemade sign that read "Another Citizen Against the Wars." And I met Chris Hedges there.
Chris Hedges, 3/19/11

But hope? I can't say that I came away with any or generated any. Maybe I did. It didn't feel hopeful. It was definitely moving, exhilarating, passionate.  But as I observed the scene even as I participated in it, I saw, outside the perimeter of "the event," people going about their business - tourists, clerks, service workers, teenagers, bureaucrats - and I could see that, in our circus-like costumes, our provocative banners and our shouting, we were hermetically sealed off from the world around us. We were a Spectacle.

It occurred to me then that spectacles don't communicate, they distract. Such a spectacle as ours delivered up stereotypes. We were predictable so no one had to pay us any serious attention. In that moment it seemed obvious that we (the opposition) need to rethink the use of this type of spectacle for resistance because it is clearly no longer effective (Ralph Nader said as much but more on that in a later post).

Yet I agree with Hedges when he writes:

"We will not stop the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, we will not end this slaughter of innocents, unless we are willing to rise up as have state workers in Wisconsin and citizens on the streets of Arab capitals. Repeated and sustained acts of civil disobedience are the only weapons that remain to us. Our political system is as broken and dysfunctional as that once presided over in Egypt by Hosni Mubarak. We must be willing to accept personal discomfort, to put our bodies in the way of the machine, if we hope to expose the lies of war and blunt the abuse by corporate profiteers. To do nothing, to refuse to act, to be passive, is to be an agent of injustice and to be complicit in murder."

These are hard words and difficult assertions. I wanted to get arrested with the 113 other people who did but it was too inconvenient, I wasn't prepared despite imagining that I was. But it's alright. I was there, I did something. There will be many more opportunities for "personal discomfort" in the months and years ahead.

Lescaret in Bowler Hat, March 19, 2011, D.C.

Dollars Against the Wars, Frame #4

Michael Klare's article The Oil-Food Price Shock in the March 28th edition of The Nation asserts that rising food costs were at the core of the uprisings that began in Algeria and spread across North Africa. There were other contributing factors, he acknowledges, but notes that in all cases the rising cost of food was an issue.

Here in the land of Whole Foods, Walmart, and Piggly Wiggly, the thought that a 50% increase in the price of sugar or rice could send the denizens of Cambridge and Watertown and Arlington into the streets to foment revolt is laughable.

At least for now. Too many people can still gorge on too much in America. The legions of homeless and abandoned are not yet numerous enough to coalesce in a storming of the Bastille. Not enough people have yet connected the dots between the War Economy and their own incipient penury and impoverishment. But we'd be foolish to think that we in America are immune to such a cataclysm.

Dollars Against the Wars
Frame # 1
Frame # 2
Frame # 3

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dollars Against the Wars, Frame #3

Two hundred and twenty five million dollars worth of Tomahawk cruise missiles fired into Libya this passed weekend in accordance with UN Security Council SC 10/200 to "protect civilians."

Approximate purchasing power of three dollars to the average citizen in America?

Dollars Against the Wars
Frame #1
Frame #2

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dollars Against the Wars, Frame #2

Imagine what these three meager dollars might get you if you're hungry in one of America's big cities. Like Washington D.C., for example. What would the woman who approached me for "spare change" outside Union Station around 7:30 Saturday morning March 19th buy with them? I doubt she headed inside the terminal for a grande soy latte at Starbucks (which these $3 wouldn't cover anyway).

But imagine how many lattes she could buy with a chunk of the cash going to Afghanistan! Even a single minute's worth of that loot would probably set her up for a while, as it would you or I. Have a look at this eye-popping tabulator at and watch the numbers tick over at sickening speed. 

What are we talking about? Try this: since 2001, 445.1 billion dollars have been allocated to wage war in that former home of the Bamiyan Buddhas, that famed graveyard of empires, Afghanistan.

Dollars Against the Wars

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Citizens Against the Wars: Scenes from D.C.

Anti-War Protest Marking the 8th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq, March 19, 2011

There were snipers on the roof of the White House keeping an eye on the people, and no doubt there were government snoops in the crowd recording our faces. It didn't matter.

The citizens against the fence in these photos were among more than 100 arrested in D.C. in one of many nation-wide actions opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ironically, while we citizens were expressing our opposition to the two ongoing wars, the US and European allies were starting a third by launching air strikes and missile strikes against Libya.

Few of us knew that at the time though earlier in the day a speaker at the rally that preceded the civil disobedience action had warned: "Libya has the most oil of any country in Africa. If the US goes into Libya, it's not coming out."

Dollars Against the Wars: A Transactional Art Installation, Frame #1

Three of thirty three dollars given to the homeless on March 19, 2011 in Washington D.C. These dollars will not be used by the Industrial War Machine but will instead be spent in the nation's capital by desperate citizens who have been abandoned and discarded by the Corporate State.

Thirty three dollars in eleven frames of three

Dollars Against the Wars: A Transactional Art Installation was conceived and undertaken in conjunction with the anti-war rally and civil disobedience action in Washington D.C. March 19, 2011 organized by Veterans for Peace to mark the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Each of the eleven frames will appear in subsequent posts.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Fall of America The Same Holds True Today

From Allen Ginsberg's 1970 poem "Friday the Thirteenth"

... Growth rate trippers hallucinating Everglade real estate!
     Steak swallowers zonked on Television!
Old ladies on Stockmarket habits - Old Wall Street paper
Central intelligence cutting Meo opium fields! China lobby
     copping poppies in Burma!
How long this Addict government support our oil-burner
shooting gasoline electric speed before the blue light blast
     & eternal Police-roar Mankind's utter bust?
Robot airfields soulless Market electronic intelligence busi-
     ness skyscraper streets
empty soul'd, exploding ...