Little Babies, Better than Good. Little Nukes, Worse than Bad.

20190213_134147As you can imagine, having Eamon in my life now fills everything with a bit more gravitas. As if I weren’t already concerned about the world at large, now I share responsibility for having foisted existence upon another human being. What a joy he is to behold…and to hold, even more so. I miss his wondrous gaze and expressions.

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I resisted the urge to post a Missive after my mid-February trip east to see and care for Eamon for a few days. I’m not the only person involved in new parenting, and other people I know are more day-in-and-day-out caring for their little ones and how often do they posts about little milestones? I get self-conscious sometimes, not wanting to take credit that isn’t due. I’m not caring for Eamon every moment like Lacy is. I’m just tickled pink when I see and comfort him.

20190210_110035He’s growing by leaps and bounds, obviously, and he’s very precocious for 2+ months, already pushing himself up and over! He’s smiling and giggling delightfully in response to all sorts of stimuli, and he’s already in size 6-month onesies! Eamon head up feb2019

I’ll be back with him March 10, but for now, here are a few images from February, followed by a short litany of news items, events and anniversaries you may have missed. Remember, Peace to all means justice first!

March 1: Remember Bikini. Solidarity with survivors of Rongelap. NO MORE US NUCLEAR HYPOCRISY!

Every year at this time, I bring up the Castle-Bravo nuclear test that destroyed Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands on March 1, 1954. It was the largest bomb ever tested by the USA. The people of Rongelap that was known to be down wind at the time of the detonation, continue to suffer physical and emotional harm from its fallout. Look up “jellyfish babies” if you dare. And look up the 2011 documentary “Nuclear Savage.”

Also, bringing this to the present. please don’t take up any of the nuclear-fear hypocrisy of the United States and Israel. Don’t fear North Korea or Iran, especially vis a vis nuclear attack. Unstable Pakistan and Hindu-nationalist India do scare me, but neither Russia nor China have pushed the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation as has the United States. And now we may give nuclear technology to the murderous Saudi crown prince! Talk about a global troika of tyranny or axis of evil: The United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.please-dont-defend-us-with-wmm-30x20

New US nuclear warheads are rolling off the assembly line as of the end of February. The W76-2 is less than a third the size of the bomb used on Hiroshima and is considered “usable” by some “people.” It is highly targetable and concealable as it will be based on Trident D-5 submarines, the most destructive weapon ever built. At the same time, the updated tailfin design for the B61-12 was being tested. It will be highly targetable and of a more “usable” size with a “dial-a-yield” feature.

You never hear about our nukes. Denuclearize North Korea? Give me a break! Social justice and environmental activists from other causes: you better stop acting like taking on nuclear weapons is beside the point (or worse judgments I don’t want to go into now).

Don’t Pay Your (War) Taxes!

20170424_Military_ExpenditureThe government is led by people that want to destroy it, in part, by unfunding itself. Still, resisting war taxes must continue and grow, at risk of playing into the hands of people who say they want small government just so they can pollute wildly and steal from the rest of us. Please, don’t fear the IRS like they are really going to hurt you. They can harrass, of course, but they don’t suddenly garnish your wages. Mostly they send notices, or more often, but still not frequently, phone calls. More often, I get spam calls, not related to my tax liability. And when they “assigned” my case to a private collection agency, their ability to harrass me or take my money decreased! Check out the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) for a wealth of info, stories, and counseling. Don’t bank on tax refunds. Don’t give free loans to the US military. Resist war taxes now!

People’s Life Fund Grant Application (for Bay Area Groups or Projects)

nowartax bannerIn league with NWTRCC, the Bay Area group, the People’s Life Fund, makes grants with money people have deposited instead of sending all or part of their tax bill to the government. Some people put money in escrow accounts for use if and when they do come after us to collect. The interest (and outright donations) to these funds are given out by local groups around the country. Here is the People’s Life Fund’s Facebook page for more info and to “like” or follow. The PLF is receiving grants for local work in the Bay Area. The deadline to apply is March 15, 5 pm. Help applying is available if you need it. Here is a link to the application.

Inspired “Equivocations” on Israel’s Brutal Hypocrisy

First of all: I support Ilhan Omar in Congress and for calling out AIPAC and other funders of Israeli crimes against humanity. She is speaking to contemporary events and alliances in support of Israeli moral and political crimes, not regurgitating old tropes. I’m not impressed at the prospects for Palestine even if Netanyahu has to step down as Israeli prime minister. Zionism’s links to white supremacy are strengthening, and liberal Zionists…not having much impact. The lies and inconsistencies are too big and longstanding; the implications too painful. I am not familiar with the author, but I received this Forward op-ed through Portside Snapshot): Wake Up American Jews: You’ve Enabled Israel’s Racism for Years!

demonstrators_signs_gaza1.pngMeanwhile, after years of debate and discussion, Jewish Voice for Peace has declared that we are an anti-Zionist organization. The first paragraph of “Our Approach to Zionism” boldly states: “Jewish Voice for Peace is guided by a vision of justice, equality and freedom for all people. We unequivocally oppose Zionism because it is counter to those ideals.” While I mostly align with the statement that follows, I was viscerally struck by the use of the word “unequivocal” at the beginning. I have been party to countless JVP discussions, debates and events about Zionism. After so much (legitimate) equivocation, it feels too late for us to say anything we do is unequivocal. Evidently the clarity at the Board level is such that they wanted to emphasize the point. If so, it is theirs to make, but I don’t think it reflects the membership to that degree, to warrant such underlining. It felt like a real dismissal of something that was essential to the fact that Jewish Voice for Peace didn’t fade away and instead navigated a shifting landscape of Palestinian liberation efforts and “facts on the ground” to become what it is today.

progressive on palestine shirtI applaud JVP’s leadership for once again not succumbing to the fear of losing members in order to take a stand for truth and justice. A similar juncture was crossed when we signed on organizationally to the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions calls from civil society. It proved to be good to clarify what we stand for, something substantial that sets us apart from other well-meaning Jewish groups including If Not Now, J-Street and Tikkun.

I think the statement includes ample description of the reality of what self-described Zionists have done to the pre-existing and descendant people of historic Palestine. I still hold Martin Buber, Henrietta Szold and Judah Magnes in high regard, but their legacy isn’t important in the name of Zionism lost. Or at least, it doesn’t feel right, asserting their recognition as a need for coalition-building. Palestinians today deserve to call out Zionism, as well as Judaism for what has been taken from them and for making them a diaspora and refugee people and almost outlawing their very identity. We need to deal with that and stop pretending that some other good thing deserves to be seen and extolled first, or that some attacks on us need compensation instead.

How Do You Sum Up All of Torah?

There are a number of scriptural passages that have been equated with the whole kit-and-kaboodle. “Do justice. Love mercy. And walk humbly with your god.” (Micah 6:8) is one. “That which you abhor, don’t do to others.” (Pirket Avot 2:1, a rephrasing of part of Leviticus 19) is another.

So often, the militarists of Israel quote some proverb or rabbi telling us that if we think someone is going to attack us, that we should attack them first. I couldn’t find it just now, online. I would appreciate the reference if anyone has it for me/us. Also, have you ever heard it put forth as though it is the sum total of what we are to glean from our faith? I like to think that there is a preference for the mercy (with a healthy respect for the need for justice mixed in). I think Micah’s sentiment and the Golden Rule deserve such raising up, but not a call to preemptive strike. What do you think? I think…

Eamon is a Big Ball of Adorable!

 

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Jan 2019: Amazing Cute; the World; the Ever-Relevant MLK

Hello Again Friendly Missivistas,

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It has been over a month. You probably thought I was going to post lots of baby pictures from here on out all the time. Rest assured, I indeed have been eternally captivated by Eamon’s wondrous baby charms.img_6681 However, I am on the other side of the continent which helps me take care of business like showing up for work and finally moving into the room in Berkeley I have already been paying rent on for a couple months. (Settling in; still a work in progress.)

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I’ll be visiting Eamon about monthly for now. Who knows what will feel right down the road? I won’t be back to see Eamon until Feb 9. Southwest had an ideal flight Saturdays from Oakland at 1:55 pm that dovetailed with my Saturday work, but they moved it to Sunday, so I still need to figure out my best way to go.

I’m very happy that Sr. Megan lives in the neighborhood, a short walk from Lacy’s. We had a delightful visit, and will again, I’m sure.

Standing with Women of Color. Standing with Palestine.

I cheered on and marched in the Women’s March again this year in San Francisco on January 19. The first two were amazing days for me and so many people. There have been persistent and pernicious attacks against some of the national organizers. They’re being attacked as though they are anti-Semitic, an assertion I firmly reject. Whether you know what I’m talking about already or not, I recommend reading this great article about it: “There’s a Good Reason Many Jewish Women Will Be Joining the Women’s March“, January 17  in The Nation by Sarah Seltzer (who I don’t know). Two key quotes for me:

“The months of online shouting have made me feel compelled to show up as a way of reaffirming my commitment to organizing in coalitions, examining my own privilege, and focusing on the threat of white nationalism.” Also, very importantly: “…The gravest danger is not coming from within activist circles but from without.”

JVP-All-Responsible-logoHuge praise and thanks to Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow) for her January 20 column in the Sunday New York Times: “Time to Break the Silence on Palestine.” I recommend reading the online version which I think is a little longer. Very important piece hopefully that will be a reference point for future reflection and action.

Recently a very wise friend initiated a Facebook thread expressing disappointment and dismay at Alice Walker for her poem from 2017, “It is our (Frightful) Duty to Study the Talmud,” in which she is trying to figure out what it is about our people that makes us treat the Palestinians so unjustly and without regard. She has been taking a stand for, and putting her body on the line (and boats) for, Palestine for years. The point of the poem is that Judaism’s interpretive, sacred text, the Talmud, about how to apply the law of the Torah in our lives, is the problem. Admittedly, the poem gets weird, but as I wrote in the thread, one of the only people who didn’t rebuke and recoil from Walker for “hating Jews”:

“Ease up on Alice. Focus your outrage on (proudly insistentent) Zionists and what they do in the name of Judaism and our defense. She could have said to look biblically and not even to the Talmud. Consider for a change, the second part of Exodus in which my people descend on Canaan and take it as an outside force slaughtering nations of people. Maybe we need to ignore the oft read, first part of the book and focus on that and try not to repeat it. Israel is making the blood libel look believable more and more, and I’m not the one confusing lie from fact.”
In response to another distraught writer I wrote:
“Walker was digging and walking deep in that poem. She’s not the one who’s gone too far.”

I clarified further which my friend appreciated:

“I’m not sure if Walker, in the poem which I have read through twice, is repeating old tropes or pointing out weird portions of Talmud without citation. Sacred texts often are full of weird shit, and pointing it out isn’t helpful. If you are wondering why a people are behaving cruelly, murderously, the opposite of what you thought them capable of, then one might look at their teachings and be given pause. And you might write a poem in your anguish…I feel like what Jews are doing to Palestinians and people who try to fight for their human and political rights is so egregious as to justify hate back at us, and that will sound very offensive indeed. What is done is done in the name of Jews, mostly by Jews, with relatively little pushback from Jews like me/us. For people to look at what Israel is doing in the name of Jews and say, WTF, Jews?” is reasonable. It can lead to weird shit, and I guess I am sad to see that in there, but Walker has stood up for Palestine for a while, including on a flotilla to Gaza, so I’m not worried about her. If she meets Jews, I don’t imagine this poem will be relevant in how she is with them/us.”

After some time my poet/writer/activist friend responded more fully. I wasn’t informed algorythmically for some strange reason even though they were responding to a comment of mine, so I’m glad to see this great point now:

“Our personal feelings, thoughts, words, and actions contribute to the larger systems of abuse and oppression. Right now, as you know, we are fighting the rise of actual Nazis and fascists. So for a staunch pro-Palestinian non-Jew to speak out with such vitriol (in my eyes) toward Jews? That’s not helpful to me. It actually feels devastating to me.  I want us to find ways to keep addressing injustice without spiraling into hatred. Hatred is poison. It is toxic to us all.”

Two War CrimesI so appreciate and resonate with those sentiments. Not to over-reduce their points, but I agree that the personal is indeed also political. I’m just aware of a visceral shift I’ve notice in myself. I’m still figuring out how troubled I am by it. I am far less compelled to rebuke almost any response, much less tell women of color how to express their outrage, how to condemn their attacker. I used to make the point about what I found “helpful,” but now, less so. It is still a fair point, but I can’t muster the gumption to say it as I used to. Israel is tragically, ironically providing deadly, new, contemporary reasons, grounded in painful reality, for questioning the morality of my people, Israel. I wish there were more libel than blood being spilled today.

Beyond the inhumane treatment of Palestinians, Israel is carelessly (literally, literally: “without care”) selling the tools, tactics and training for social repression to despots around the world. I can’t fault people for wondering what is wrong with us. And given the terms and weapons Israel is utilizing and spreading, must we not put our most vociferous condemnation there? Must we not resist being distracted? Alice Walker, Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory are no anti-Semites especially next to the classical ones we see cavorting with the Israeli and U.S. leadership, be they Nazis or “Islamists,” in the halls of power, which is where the real threat to freedom and justice lies. They act reprehensibly and beyond all reason while much of their base act like they should be treated as beyond all questioning. Let us help the world direct our questions at them!

Finally, Some Martin Luther King Jr., from “The Drum Major Instinct” Feb. 4, 1968, his amazing, last sermon at home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia.

King Posters -No Nukes_Page_3I recommend listening to this sermon often. I do. Be sure if you look for it, that it is the full 38+ minute version. Edited forms are out there, and they often edit this part out. Even on what I consider the definitive archive at Stanford, the audio leaves this out although it is in the printed version. The whole point of this sermon is beautiful, compassionate, prophetic. At the end (start at minute 35:30) he tells us of how he would want to be remembered, hopefully as a “drum major for justice, a drum major for peace,” and more. I cry every time. I see it as a call to action. I leave it to you to find that gem however, since I want to share this more politically pertinent point (from about minute 23:45 in the version linked above):

If somebody doesn’t bring an end to this suicidal thrust that we see in the world today, none of us are going to be around, because somebody’s going to make the mistake through our senseless blunderings of dropping a nuclear bomb somewhere. And then another one is going to drop. And don’t let anybody fool you, this can happen within a matter of seconds…

“[W]e are drifting there because nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. “I must be first.” “I must be supreme.” “Our nation must rule the world.” (Preach it) And I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I’m going to continue to say it to America, because I love this country too much to see the drift that it has taken.

“God didn’t call America to do what she’s doing in the world now. (Preach it, preach it) God didn’t call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We’ve committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I’m going to continue to say it. And we won’t stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation.

But God has a way of even putting nations in their place. (Amen) The God that I worship has a way of saying, “Don’t play with me.” (Yes) He has a way of saying, as the God of the Old Testament used to say to the Hebrews, “Don’t play with me, Israel. Don’t play with me, Babylon. (Yes) Be still and know that I’m God. And if you don’t stop your reckless course, I’ll rise up and break the backbone of your power.” (Yes) And that can happen to America. (Yes)

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Welcome Eamon Bua Sanford MacAuley!

Eamon’s here!

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Eamon holding my finger.

Eamon Bua Sanford MacAuley was born on Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 5:41 pm at Reston Hospital, Virginia. He was born lovely and healthy by non-emergency C-section in a relatively short, straightforward operation. Gratefully, Lacy came through very well too. I was in the next room just outside the door while Lacy’s twin sister, Lorien, was in the operating room. I heard the first exclamation of, “Oh, look at the beautiful baby!” and his first cries seconds later. Eamon was wheeled out and into my waiting arms within minutes, Lacy following suit just a few minutes after that. The whole procedure lasted less than 20 minutes. It followed, however, a long arduous process of contractions, inducing efforts and fatigue, plus a long stint after the bag of waters broke. Nonetheless, as a fetus, Eamon never faltered.

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I cried a lot too.

The baby weighed in at 7 lb. 14 oz. and was 20.5″ long. Significantly, his head was 10.35 cm in diameter, a bit above the 10 cm target for dilation most people talk about being necessary for vaginal birth. Lacy and or Eamon would have suffered so much more physical trauma (or worse) if a well-trained hospital staff weren’t available for a C-section. Eamon would not be as healthy today if we didn’t have bottles and formula to help him grow as Lacy and Eamon work into the most naturally productive feeding method possible as her milk starts to flow and his “latching” improves.

I am grateful to all the labor and delivery nurses and maternity nurses, midwifes, dulas and encouraging staff who are there for mothers, babies and families. I don’t think there are other hospital units where professionals openly speak of their own personal experiences with what the patient is going through so readily. I love and am in awe of my friends in the field all the more! I’m grateful for Dr. Hashemi’s deft surgical hands.

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Sarah, Lacy and Eamon.

I apologize for the delay in informing you of Aemon’s amazing presence and thanking you all for the loving and prayerful responses to my last post. I want you all to know how absolutely beautiful and moving Eamon is and how special it feels to hold him. I am not one who “needs” to hold newborn babies. I gaze entranced at them, and prefer a gentle touch while they are in the arms of another or laying down. With Eamon, I immediately felt pulled to hold him close though, to soothe and celebrate his crying with my own. (There they are again, my tears, as I write this.)

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Everyone at home together, at last!

I am back in Oakland now with plans to go back in early January. Our way forward is still coming into focus. I know Lacy has love, community and family there–much help, close at hand, ready for the asking–and this was her vision. I helped prepare their house for safer, more comfortable habitation. I was there to help Lacy settle in and set up her space for her and Eamon. I shopped and tended. I also soothed and comforted. I changed poopy diapers and was able to be at his first doctor visit. I’m not done giving and being there for Eamon. It is probably helpful also to be giving Lacy, Lorien and Sarah a little time to redefine their homespace with Eamon there.

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Eamon and his remarkable Aunts MacAuley: Lorien, Sheridan and Christian.

I am grateful to all the mothers I know and the children who have taught me how to relate. Thank you to the fathers I called for council and reassurance. This is new, and I don’t want to analyze things too much. I do feel far away, and I’m out of Eamon’s field of view unless I’m right there. I still trust that he will recognize my voice and respond familiarly again to my deep tones with stilling cries. I am so looking forward to holding him again!

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Eamon Bua Sanford MacAuley, day 3.

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On the Imminence of Fatherhood

In February, a former lover wrote me the most wonderful invitation of a letter I have ever received. In it, Lacy asked me to be her “baby daddy,” a loosely defined label I am still not sure about in part because of its negative origin and uses. I like the playfulness of baby daddy, but it also sounds not quite serious enough when I think of all that fatherhood rightly entails, and all I intend to provide to this late-in-life progeny. Lacy was willing to accept loving conception or go all anonymous without me at all, but she asked me and has welcomed my desire to be in “our” child’s life. I’m honored. I’m tickled to tears. I’m thrilled!

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Lacy now!

Lacy flew to the Bay Area in March for us to reconnect, and as it turned out, she didn’t have to return in April or May. My heart goes out to friends who have struggled or failed to conceive. Ours was destined to be easy, and I am writing at this 11:59th hour to ask for my Missive readers to offer up prayers for as easy a delivery. The official due date of this big ball of wonder is today, December 3, and it may very begin this evening! Mother and baby-to-be are huge and healthy! At last Friday’s sonogram, the radiologist said it looked like the baby-to-be was already a whopping 8 lb. 10 oz.! At the birthing center this morning, all indicators are positive, and Lacy has even dilated substantially since last Thursday. It is Chanukah, and the women of this amazing household (plus the adorable 2 year old Serena) just walked in with a Christmas tree.

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Best sonogram was months ago.

I was going to write a Missive about this for months, but it kept feeling like I was getting ahead of myself. I will write more as it grows, I assure you. My role in the life of this child is unclear, yet definite, so again, I’m not sure what exactly to write. Lacy and mine is an atypical, emerging re-lationship. Very 21st Century. I’m not a sperm donor. I’m not an uncle. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and Lacy lives in Washington DC. We both have other significant relationships not to be undone. I sometimes feel as far away as I physically am, and I expect to be visiting DC frequently in the coming years. Maybe I’ll move here, but not planning to at present. I will be a stay at home dad when I’m in town at least.

Last week I decided to wait until after the birth to write anything, but now, MY dam has burst, and I want to tell the world how excited I am to about to become a father even as my friends are becoming grandparents! I am asking for all your hopeful energy, prayers, candle magic, blessings and spells to help Lacy and baby-to-be emerge all whole and healthy ASAP!

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My father as I remember him the most.

Fatherhood can’t be defined for life by any one snapshot in time. I am committed to the child for life. Lacy didn’t go anonymous like she could have. She didn’t know if I would say yes, or if I would want to have any parenting role at all if I did. Thank you, Lacy, for how thrilled you have been at how thrilled I am. I am also so, so happy my mom will get to dote on the little one as her grandchild! May this gift of love and hope arrive soon. We are ready to receive you!

My father, Sanford, was a wonderfully loving and stable presence in my life until he died, even during his mortal fight with melanoma. I’m grateful to him and my father-friends for such great examples to follow. Thank you again for all your immediate love, prayers and well-wishes.

May my next Missive be called for soon!

 

 

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What They Said…

On Armistice Day, 11/11/18 at 11 am “The War to End All Wars” ended. Don’t Celebrate “Veterans Day”

From Celebrate Armistice Day, Not Veterans Day by David Swanson, Nov. 7, The Humanist:

Congress passed an Armistice Day resolution in 1926 calling for “exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding…inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.” Later, Congress added that November 11 was to be “a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.”

We don’t have so many holidays dedicated to peace that we can afford to spare one. If the United States were compelled to scrap a war holiday, it would have dozens to choose from, but peace holidays don’t just grow on trees. Mother’s Day has been drained of its original meaning. Martin Luther King Day has been shaped around a caricature that omits all advocacy for peace. Armistice Day, however, is making a comeback.

Swanson is a great writer and debunker of the myths of war. If you haven’t heard of the Kellogg Briand Pact, please look it up or read any number of pieces from his blog Let’s Try Democracy.

From Peacemakers, Warmongers and Fence Sitters: Who Represents You? by Nicolas J. S. Davies and Medea Benjamin, Oct. 3, Common Dreams:

The elephant in the room that none of them want to discuss is that Congress keeps handing more than 60% of discretionary federal funds over to a military industrial complex whose recent wars have only succeeded in plunging half a dozen countries into intractable violence and chaos, leaving vital domestic priorities permanently underfunded.”

This article has eye-opening stats on how members of both houses of Congress have voted on matters of war and militarism over the years. I was honestly didn’t expect the contrast between the two parties to look as stark as it is. What are our priorities, and how can we make those count in federal budgets? Who is representing whom? We need to know even if it seems like truth isn’t as relevant as we would have it be in the current political climate. The ballooning military budgets that pass with a suicidally bipartisan lack of scrutiny or wisdom point to who is stealing our public commons, trust and money. Campaigns for human rights of any kind or any part of the environmental movement that ignores the Pentagon are bound to fail. You can’t effectively address a problem and ignore its largest component at the same time.

From yours truly…I’ve said before…

In a free society, one should be able to get away with murder. (I trust no one to accuse me of encouraging better planned murders.) The important corollary that is being undermined in today’s world is that if it can be proven you did it (beyond a reasonable doubt), you are supposed to face consequences.  In the current state of affairs, it seems that even collective memory and video clips don’t matter when some people attack others, are “inciteful” instead of insightful, or are extremely rude and even proudly spout racist and misogynist tropes.

I have to excuse reporters being dumbfounded like I am when Trump hypocritically and hyperbolically attacks other people as rude, racist or sexist. The dishonesty is so blatant, I want to appreciate the calm, professional demeanor of  PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor when Trump called her questions racist at the infamous Nov. 7 press conference. I would cheer, and feel encouraged for the world to see a black woman challenge Trump fiercely in a situation like that (and then would try to help her if her job were being threatened). That exchange was even more absurd than when Trump and other Republicans called the antifa and some Democratic lawmakers “uncivil.” They shouldn’t be able to land such questions without immediate pointing out of their hypocrisy.A lot of us would. Good for Jim Acosta standing up for himself and his profession, but all journalists of integrity need to stop hanging on Trump’s every ignorant word or misdirecting move.

It is about time that journalists stood up for themselves to the point of asking follow up questions and being cut off from White House briefings. More need to follow suit. Trump’s press conferences should be unattended.

It is long overdue for Democrats and moderates to take up voter disenfranchisement with seriousness. Samantha Bee nailed this issue in two of her earliest episodes of Full Frontal addressed well the extreme failings of the Democratic Party to be sure not to lose so badly in 2010. And seeing some Democrats not concede in close races is an important change. Al Gore laments heeding the advice of Dem higher ups in 2000 told him

I have long questioned as myopic the abundant (to say the least) focus on the question of “collusion” between Trump and Putin or the Russians. It is actually exceedingly clear that the Republicans have been rigging the system since 2000 or earlier and pretty clear the Democratic leadership didn’t want Al Gore to utilize the Constitution to stand up for himself, their party or the future of the country and the world. How can any measure be legal that makes it almost impossible for some people to cast their ballots? How can results be announced credibly when more remain uncounted than divide presumed winner from loser?

I feel dirty using Facebook and Whats App

They have been used by violent authoritarians around the world to skew public opinion, get elected and drive people to murder. Civil rights in the Philippines, India, Hungary, and now Brazil have all been dealt devastating blows as a result of how this social media has been used. A lawyer working against Duterte’s “war on drugs” in the Philippines was gunned down in early November. Benjamin Ramos became the 34th lawyer killed in the last two years there according to Democracy Now! What is remembered lives. Journalists and local environmental and labor organizers, generally regular folks, often poor, looking out for their families and communities, are being killed and blamed for it in ways unimaginable before the advent of social media and the internet. Like using fossil fuels, I feel a bit complicit with my constant use of screens and devices. “In a free society, few are guilty. All are responsible.” (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver deserves a couple of Pulitzers

John Oliver doesn’t just use the stuff of the current political melt down for the sake of a joke in a way that lessens the seriousness of what he covers. Occasionally I do feel like Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah make their points but don’t go quite far enough or they use the story to support the joke instead of vice versa. Episodes that stand out for me include his segments about the IRS, civil asset forfeiture and setting yourself up as a megachurch (not all on one show). The November 4 show was an amazing expose about the details of the family separation regime of the current administration. It was the clearest and most informative report about what is really happening with some chilling comments and footage along the way.

Jon Stewart, a pioneer in the modern news comedy format, made some cautionary and insightful comments about the juxtaposition/confusion of news and comedy, reality and “fake news” in conversation with Christianne Amanpour on a London stage as presented by Melanie McFarland in Salon on November 3 that asks “How long will the media play Trump’s game?

[O]ne strange truth is that his tactics have resulted in a further conflation of journalism and entertainment in a way that has defanged the way the press covers him as well as Congress. Over the past week especially, many members of the press had to finally wake up to the fact that what journalists of color have been saying all along — Trump is a white supremacist — is indeed true. But most still have problems saying that, even after Trump crowed about being a nationalist at a rally in Houston. They’re too afraid of losing the crowd, of walking the room.

Keeping up with Shukri

I am touched but not surprised by the humane concern and generous support for the survivors and families of victims at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh showed by Linda Sarsour and other Muslims. At the same time, the experience of the Holy Land Foundation comes to mind. At the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Holy Land Foundation was the largest Muslim charity in the country. Based in nearby Texas, the HLF sent unequaled material support to the people of OK City as well as dozens of volunteers. Their help was uniformly praised and thanked…except once Israel got the George W. Bush administration to go after the HLF. From Shukri Abu-Baker, founder of the HLF who now sits in federal US prison serving an unjust 65 year sentence for his generosity and despite his integrity.

In the trial, the government used our humanitarian response to the O.C. bombing against us, alleging that we only did it to deflect attention from our true mission, which they said was supporting  terrorism. Of course, this was the shortest road the government could take to demonize American Muslims: Make very good thing they do to work against them. I won’t be surprised if Sarsour and her colleagues were at the top of Israel’s list of enemies, no matter what she does. And I won’t be surprised if her effort to normalize Islam in America will draw negative attention to her __ and perhaps put her under the FBI’s most watchful eyes. Muslims will always be suspects in this country, not because they deserve it, but because the voices of hate are still louder than that of love. However, there is a price to be paid when one decided to embark on a course of universal enlightenment. No change can be made without sacrifice, fortitude, and deep belief in the mission.

Three Vital Articles about Judaism, Antisemitism, Zionism, Palestine and Israel

I have tried to point out that modern Israel and the unflinching support for its blatant brutality in the name of Jewish security fan the flames of antisemitism, replacing irrational fear and hatred of us with reasons that are firmly based on tragic, contemporary, political policies and actions.

From Rebecca Vilkomerson on Trump and Netanyahu “enabling antisemitism”, Oct. 31, Middle East Eye (Great Britain):

One thing that has definitely happened in the Trump era is that supporting Israel has become a stand-in for supporting Jews….In the Trump era you can love Israel and still hate Jews and often I think a deal with the devil is being made by a lot of Jewish organisations, that as long as a person supports Israel they give them a pass on anti-semitism.

From Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization by Jeff Halper, Oct.12, Counterpunch:

Regardless of Zionism’s claim to have begun as a genuine national movement, once it chose the form of settler colonialism it made decolonization the only acceptable form of resolution. It is Zionist/Israeli policies and actions that have eliminated any other form of accommodation other than decolonization. By repeatedly and consistently choosing to enforce an exclusive claim to the Land, excluding (and negating) Palestinian national rights and carrying out ongoing policies of displacement and colonization, Zionism rapidly transformed a potentially legitimate movement for Jewish national rights into an unacceptable and unsustainable settler colonial enterprise. Before considering what decolonization entails, let’s briefly trace the transition from a Jewish national movement to Zionist settler colonialism.

From A guide to principled anti-Zionism by Steven Salaita, October 1, Mondoweiss:

There’s significant opposition to Israeli brutality on the US left, but hardly any consequence in electoral culture for cosigning or ignoring that brutality. Done without care, opposition to Israeli brutality can reify other forms of oppression, or it can conceptualize Israel as an aberration from honorable American values.  Israel doesn’t corrupt the United States—nor does the United States corrupt Israel. Both states originated through corruption[.]

 

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Brewing an Elixir of Radical Peace and Justice

Reclaiming Spiral Dance, Saturday, October 27, Craneway Conference Center, Richmond, California: Altar viewing and Reading of Names of the Beloved Dead at 6:00. Ritual at 7:00

   "Where land meets water, together with our beloved dead, we stir a cauldron of tears and outrage to brew an elixir of radical peace and justice."   This year’s ritual intention is “Where land meets water, together with our beloved dead, we stir a cauldron of tears and outrage to brew an elixir of radical peace and justice.” I have been working most of the year on this year’s Spiral Dance. I always find the reading of the names of the dead to be a very powerful reminder and meditation. Two years ago I became one of the readers, and this year I am coordinating the reading and hence participating in the organizing meetings. Someone has to attend meetings to plan events like this, not that meetings are “my thing” as sometimes I am told. For next year’s 40th anniversary Spiral Dance we are going to need even more people working on it than this year.

To submit names of people you want read (and projected) before the ritual,  whether or not you are coming, visit https://www.reclaimingspiraldance.org/the-beloved-dead/.  For more about the Spiral Dance itself, visit https://www.reclaimingspiraldance.org/

We still need volunteers. There may still be a ritual role or two that remains unfilled. This year, due to scheduling and venue availability difficulties, the North Bay spiral dance is the same night, so we will be missing some usual helpers and presences. We will cosmically connect energetically with them as we dance.

Join us for this great working. We need to brew and imbibe and share as much radical peace and justice as we can!

Become a Citizen of the Good Country

The Good Country is a creation of Simon Anholt and Madeline Hung that began registering citizens on September 17. The Good Country is an outgrowth of The Good Country Index which I learned about from World Beyond War as part of their work showing that alternatives to war and other measures of social well being exist, and that by no measure is war really a positive. I hadn’t looked at WBW’s website for a while. I recommend it for inspiration (and reality checks, but a lot of good organizing is happening, and we aren’t finding out about as much as we should due to social media algorithms and other fear-mongering news filters. Check out WagingNonviolence.org while you’re at it for similar inspiration from the likes of civil society in Idlib demonstrating while under Islamic State control.

The Good Country is still being populated, and I hope others of my friends join me in it. Here are some reasons why. The annual tax rate is a flat $5 which I gladly paid (unlike my US tax liability which remains outstanding). The Good Country index is already a very useful way to look at the world through different overlapping lenses. There is a lot of info in the index, and it is fascinating to explore!

David Swanson & Joanna Macy
Saturday, Oct. 13, 3-5pm
Historic Fellowship Hall, 1924 Cedar St., Berk.

Speaking of World Beyond War, WBW Director David Swanson (“War is a Lie” and Roots Action) will be in the area, and I can’t recommend this combination (him and Joanna Macy) more highly for information as well as a serious dose of reality but also a sense of uplift and “We’re all in this together.” Jim_JoannaJoanna (The Work that Reconnects and “Deep Times”) is one of my favorite teachers and thinkers, activists and friends. Music also provided by Jen Myzel. Thanks to CODEPINK: Women for Peace (Golden Gate) and the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee for organizing another “Active Hope” event with Joanna. For more info and to register for this free event (donations will be accepted) click here for Eventbrite or Facebook, or just show up.

Keep Space for Peace week (October 6 to 13)

Thank you to Bruce Gagnon and the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (www.Space4Peace.org)  for valiantly organizing the annual Keep Space for Peace week(KS4P) the second week of October. The Global Network has consistently brought activists from different continents together on this issue.

October 6 -13 2018
Keep Space for Peace Week
International Week of Protest to
Stop the Militarisation of Space
No Space Force
No Missile Defense
Close U.S./NATO Bases Worldwide
Stop Drones Surveillance & Killing
End Privatization of Foreign/Military Policy
Convert the Military Industrial Complex
Deal with climate change and global poverty

With Trump’s desire to create a formal “Space Force,” we need to keep eyes on the sky even as local communities fight attacks that acutely threaten their existence. A nuclear or conventional bomb can cause very sudden life-changes and life-endings. The siphoning off…the stealing…of communal resources and the social safety net to fund more weapons and fuel more attacks should garner more push back than it does. Pentagon budgets get raised with barely a discussion, even on the left. Are we afraid to confront our cousins and grandparents who join or believe in the US military?

Even if the army doesn’t meet its goal of 80,000 new recruits for 2018, they are closer than I think they should be, around 75,000. And they complain about competing with businesses when jobs (even low-paying, non-benefits-granting) are more available in the private sector.

If I am at the gates of the Livermore National Laboratory or the Nevada National Security Site or the Sunnyvale plant of Lockheed Martin, we talk about militarism’s reliance on racism, misogyny and climate change anxiety. The problem of intersectionality of oppressions is very real, war profiteers need to be challenged more widely by more movements. Every social movement needs to steer its adherents away from military “service” if we are to create a good country, much less a good world. Come to the 10/13 event above to learn more about CODEPINK’s work organizing against the war economy and war profiteers.

Intersectional Hope: Be Here Now

PictureBAY-Peace does great work helping youth organizers “take action against militarization for racial and economic justice” in Oakland schools. It’s now ten years strong! This is a real high school peace group. They talk about the military industrial complex to junior high school students. They see economic conscription not as an opportunity, but the death trap it really is and educate their peers about the raw, one-sided deal military enlistment contracts are.

BAY-Peace is in the midst of a $17,000 fundraiser for stipends and office and art supplies for over 40 youth leaders. I just gave. You can too, here.

I also want to give props to the War Resisters League, now 95 years fighting the good fight against war fighting. WRL’s 95th Anniversary party is October 11 at DCTV, 87 Lafayette St. in New York City. They also have the annual Raffle of Resistance underway through November, so get some tickets.

The Peace Award winners of the past few years show a growing understanding of the intersection of oppressions on the part of WRL. This year’s Peace Award is shared by Corrina Gould, an East Bay Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone woman and sacral site land activist, and The Peace Poets, a Bronx-born collective of artists that celebrate, examine and advocate for life through music and poetry. Mandy Carter is also receiving the Grace Paley Lifetime Achievement Award for her many continuing years as a movement activist (including co-organizer of War Resisters League West during the Vietnam war).

Ends and Odds

I have a job I like now, has little stress, and feels like I could ride into my future. It isn’t high-paying, but it is enough, and it is satisfying. After 25 years I’m not going to be a medically indigent adult (MIA) in San Francisco anymore. I’ll have Kaiser. Real insurance. And MetLife for dental and something else for some vision. The change makes me nervous. I’m going to miss Castro-Mission Health Center, all the SF General clinics I have visited over the years, the surgeries and even the Walgreens at Mission and Cesar Chavez. San Francisco Health Plan and Medi-Cal was serving me well. But now I’m a member of the working poor. I got outstanding care, and they always wanted to give the the best treatment possible. I have been well-served, so I am loathe to change, but it’s time. I’m ready to make the move and actually register and get set up and move forward with new doctors and facilities. It’s gonna be good!

Out in the world, there are so many alarms to raise, if I wait a month to send out this Missive, it will be even more too long! Here are a few news items you may have missed that I want to highlight:

  • Some Latinx who travel abroad have been not allowed back into the United States. 
  • Here is an interesting article about trying to raise children in gender neutral ways(You are welcome to wonder and inquire why this might be of interest to me!)
  • Jerry Brown vetoed the bill to provide for the harm reduction effort of safe injection sites. I don’t like Brown, but of course, there are far worse.
  • The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) has informed Nevada Desert Experience (NDE, my former employer) that their longstanding practice of not processing tickets for crossing onto the NNSS at front gate actions is cancelled. As I work on this Missive, NDE just completed its fall “Justice for Our Desert.” Actions are small now, not like they were, but Donald Trump wants them to resume underground testing. Hell, he wants to see one go off above ground!
  • Friday demonstrations continue in Gaza, and Israel continues to kill and maim unarmed Palestinians in protest or just in sniper range from the IDF perimeter. At the same time, the fate of the small Bedouin village of Khan Al Ahmer seems sealed by Israel’s high court saying it can be demolished, but the village just East of Jerusalem is a rallying cry for local Palestinians as well as the international community.
  • A documentary created by Al Jazeera about dishonest campaigns by Israel and a couple groups including Canary Mission that target and threaten Palestinians and supportive college groups has been censored in response to Israeli lobbying. Still, even the Jewish Forward ran an article about the efforts and the censorship.
  • To recommend just one thing to look at (okay, two together) that deal with misogyny, sexual violence, and how they are being talked about and dealt with (or not) check out Democracy Now! from Friday, October 5. Eve Ensler is in both segments. First is her open letter to white women who supported Brett Kavanaugh: “Stand with Survivors & Fight This Nomination. Then they interviewed the just-announced Nobel Peace Prize winners who work for women’s rights, help rape survivors and work to stop the use of rape as an instrument of war.
  • As I was finalizing this Missive, I received a new video from the Afghan Peace Volunteers (less than three minutes long), the amazing group that hosted me when I visited Afghanistan in 2011. Seeing them do the yarn toss, web-weaving exercise, talking about what they learned at their “Youth on the Road to Peace” conference 2018 was very touching, and a reminder of how truly global aspirations for peace are.

Thanks for reading,
Jim

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To stop genocide, we have to call things genocidal first.

To stop genocide, we have to call things genocidal first.

It’s the High Holy Days still. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur have passed, but there is Sukkot and Simchat Torah over the next week or so. On a personal level, I want to soften and reconcile. I want to repent and listen. I want to shut up and apologize simply. I want to be soft spoken, look at where I err, not others. I want to open up and take It in. Personally, I do. I am. I will. I am…if imperfectly, sadly…but I do, I am.

jim.wall.bird.terrorPolitically, I don’t want to mince words though. I am always struck by the Yom Kippur morning Haftorah portion (Isaiah 57 and 58) when the prophet screams at the people Israel to get real, to stop bullshitting ourselves, to stop being assholes, to stop having things not work out and then run crying to God. (Oh, God. I do do that, don’t I!) If we don’t got our neighbor’s back, then things don’t feel chill or safe or secure. Well, that’s no surprise! We help people in need and things look, feel and smell a lot sweeter, almost by definition. So, I feel called to cry out about politics, about Israel especially, alongside the United States. (So what else is new?) I really mean to shake people to awaken outrage, not to bludgeon anyone. I am crying out in anguish and outrage myself. Why? Here is why:

  • I think it is manifestly evident that Israel and the United States don’t care if Palestinians live or die, and they are actively killing them, taking their land, and criminalizing their existence in the diaspora. This we must oppose and stop, so we must ponder and meditate on it as we atone.
  • Um_Il_Khair_bulldozer_destroys_homeIf my harsh words distract anyone from taking up the cause of resisting oppression done in our names, then I think they are too easily looking away from the people in need, Palestine, and the fault isn’t mine. The problem isn’t my tongue nor the errors of Palestinian leadership or any violence committed in resistance to Zionist myopia and greed. Nor is it violence committed against Jews in other countries or by the Mufti of Jerusalem eighty years ago. We are called “not to look away” from those in need.
  • Let me say again: I think it is manifestly evident that Israel and the United States don’t care if Palestinians live or die, and they are actively killing them, taking their land, and criminalizing their existence in the diaspora. This is the foundational affront we must stop and ponder as we meditate and atone.
  • Mosul (2)I don’t think they’re going to stop. Israel and Zionists, I mean. Israel…people who themselves claim the label “Zionist” and insist they are defending all Jews, are acting for all Jews, and are operating from a place of Jewish goodness…the people Israel are taking what was Palestine and running highways to the sea through it.
  • Israel demands to wear the mantle of all that is Jewish and then bristles at any unflattering conflation of Judaism and Zionism. I’m not the one making Zionism, and by extension Judaism, hateful. I’m also not the one to be blamed for conflating Israel and Judaism. Credit for that also goes to the Zionists, not the Palestinians nor even to real antisemites like the ones Israel is colluding with in the Trump administration or in despotic regimes that purchase weapons to use on their own people that have been developed and tested on Palestinians by Jews.
  • jim-and-the-earthen-roadblock_PPTIf my cousins don’t like the brutality and trajectory of Zionism, they need to stop the other Zionists from making the label something despotic and greedy. Or they need to shed the term and stop being defensive about it. The people doing horrific things demand the mantle of Zionism. It isn’t me choosing to call them that.
  • They’re killing Palestinians like there’s no tomorrow. Israel refuses to punish brutality committed by Jews against Palestinians even in the most extreme and blatant cases.
  • Jaffa_Street_massesIf you think Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon earned the right to be remembered as statesmen after their admittedly terrorist careers, then grant Palestinian revolutionaries the same honor. It is at least as honestly deserved. Don’t want Palestinian knife wielders to be remembered lovingly? Then deal with the ostentatious grave of mass-murderer Baruch Goldstein and the impunity other murderers of Palestinians are afforded. And don’t ask me if I think Rasmeah Odeh killed anyone!
  • I think Jews will get a better shake from Palestinians than has been the case in the reverse, even after all this time, all that has been taken, all that has been lost. All that has been killed. Palestinians can’t act more bloodthirsty than has Israel.Sumud_signs_flags
  • It could get worse though, and there is a tomorrow. That can go either way, and we have the capacity and necessity to steer the ship. How bad does it have to get for you not to consider me alarmist? Does genocide have to happen first?
  • I didn’t say genocide has happened, but to stop something, we need to name it first. I think there are lots of indicators that Israel will continue deluding itself that it is just acting to protect itself. It isn’t and Israel must be stopped.
  • Israel is a nuclear weapon state with sophisticated delivery systems that surpass all but Russia and the United States. That puts it in a special class of moral reprehensibility. Overblown fear of Iran is another distraction that keeps good-hearted Jews from confronting Israel. We are threatening them more than the other way around. “We” have nukes and they don’t. Let me say that again: We are threatening Iran, not the other way around. We have nukes, and they don’t!
  • Forward_activists-1468604402The horrific, despotic Zionist truth of the present is so bad, that it makes antisemitic works of the past like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the Blood Libel easier to sell and harder to dismiss out of hand.
  • First responsibility to stop Israel lies with Israelis. Second responsibility lies with world Jewry, and third responsibility lies with people of the United States. We really need to stop and ponder what “we” are doing to the Palestinians before it is too late.
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