2007
12.31

VeteransForCommonSense.org: Brownies Will Get You Five to Ten

Read the last 3 paragraphs as they speak volumes about how the Army feels about the ****ed up war in Iraq.

2007
12.31

New Year’s Day

I have to admit that New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays. Not because it is an excuse to get drunk but rather because it is a reminder that every day is a new day, and that we don’t have to stay locked into the negative ways of the past.

Certainly individual resolutions are great, but I kinda like to take the day as a time to dream about what the world could be like. We don’t have to stay locked into the way of war and violence. We can choose to live from a place of love, a place of cooperation, a place of kindness.

I’ve done a lousy job of living with faith in that dream in 2007. I gave in so often to hopelessness and despair and ground myself down in the struggle against the evil of war without remembering what we are struggling for. We have to remember that PEACE is not just the absence of violence, but rather is a positive energy in the universe. You can call it God, you can call it love, you can call it whatever, but you have to believe in it and tap into it.

A few years ago when I first was introduced to the writings of the American Transcendentalists (particularly Emerson), I was both thrilled and scared by the idea that the divine is not some being “out there” but rather is something that permeates us all. I still am not sure about things (and maybe I’m not supposed to be sure about it), but it does seem like that a faith in this idea of God, and a faith that God is in all is the answer to me at least. I want to be happy this coming year and continue in the struggle, but with the awareness and peace of knowing that there is hope and that a new world is possible, and that we can catch glimpses of it here and now as people act with love.

Anyway my prayer for the coming year is that each of my readers (and myself) will rise up past the place of despair and begin to have hope and faith in the possibility and reality of a peaceful and loving world. The world as we see it sucks bad, but there is more to the story than what we can see. We have to believe in what heart intuitively tells us is true.

Thanks to all who have read this blog this year. I hope you and yours are happy and hopeful in the coming year.

2007
12.31

Urbangrounds.com: Jay R. Grodner — Anti-Military Chicago Lawyer Vandalizes a Marine’s Car

BlackFive.net: Anti-Military Lawyer Damages Marine’s Car on Eve of Deployment

If true, this is a pretty vile case. Gardner should be prosecuted for felony charges.

I don’t support the war or the institution of the military, but it is wrong to attack a servicemember like this. I hope folks remember that 99.9% of anti-war activists like myself think that what Gardner alleged did is vile too.

I gotta say though the whole thing seems too hokey be true. I guess it is possible, but I find it hard to believe anyone could do something so stupid (as well as wrong). I hope Gardner tells his side of the story or comes clean with what he did.

2007
12.28

Well, what do you know…

Robbie at Urbangrounds.com thinks I am a sheep.

. . . And J.M. is a sheep. A classic sheep. He doesn’t or can’t admit that there are dangerous, violent people in this world who would kill him without so much as blinking.

He’s living in denial.

But at the same time, he can’t understand the need for brave warriors who are willing to do violence on his behalf to protect him and his family. In fact, in this post, he openly admits that he is not “a fan of the police”.

Of course he’s not. He’s a sheep. And they are sheepdogs.

I’ve known almost all of my life that I was a sheepdog. I come from a long line of sheepdogs.

. . . So, J.M, you go on grazing and striving for your “non-violent revolutionary change for peace and justice”. Just understand that when the wolf comes for you and your family, brave men and women will be nearby ready to kill that wolf for you.

Robbie makes a bunch of ridiculous assumptions about what I believe and don’t believe, but let me clear up a few of them…

First, non-violence doesn’t mean one just sits there and submits to injustice. The way of Jesus, the way of Dr. King, the way of Gahndi, are not ways of passivity, but rather of creative non-violent action. I’m not sure I’m creative or committed enough to confront much of the evil in this world, but I’m not going to immediately assume either that the alternative is violence.

Second, while I do think there are nutjobs out there, I don’t think most of the “terrorists” out there want to kill me or anyone else, but rather have been mislead to believe that it is necessary to commit acts of violence to achieve political or religious goals. They are no different than soldiers of other nations (including our own — let’s be frank, one nation’s terrorist is another nation’s freedom fighter), who have been mislead to believe that violence is necessary to achieve political goals. I think if one can reason with the “terrorists” (which is what our nation should be doing), we might find that we at least can sit together and talk about our problems and that maybe the “terrorists” won’t feel the need to commit acts of terrorism if their concerns are being heard.

Third, I never asked the police and the military to “defend” me. I know there are good folks in both institutions (some of the best folks I know are cops and servicemembers), but when it comes to the use of lethal force I wished they didn’t use it. And if I actually has some choice in the matter (which I don’t), I would ask that lethal force not be used to protect me at all. And for that matter, if I ever was killed by a murderer, I would ask that the prosecutor not seek the death penalty (I have communicated this desire to my family already). I, like my hero, Thoreau (who asked to not be considered a member of any organization that he never chose to join), never asked to be associated with our modern military/industrial complex and if I knew a way to be disentangled from it I would.

I’m not anti-police officers or anti-military servicemembers. I want to make this as clear as possible. The folks serving in these roles are following their consciences and I have to respect that. I am though anti-violent-institutions (such as the military). My hope and dream is that someday there will be no police and no military. I know it is pretty outlandish to even think that, but if we don’t dare to dream it, it will never be. I’m sick and tired of the conventional wisdom that human beings need violence as a means of control. I think love is a better means of governing communities.

And yes I know that this sounds like insanity to folks like Robbie, but that’s where I will argue that faith comes in. In the Bible, it says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, NRSV) Believing in the possibility of a peaceful and just world seems nuts even impossible, yet faith makes it possible to hope for it and to have a conviction to stand up for it.

Anyway I’ll get off my soapbox now. Thanks Robbie for making me think about these issues. I hope you’ll at least give my ideas a fair hearing.

2007
12.26

KXAN.com: APD Cadets Undergo Diversity Training

. . . “I came being very ignorant of that community,” said Justin Berry, a cadet who learned about the gay and lesbian community, “and I learned so much about that culture. It really helped me personally grow, and I think it’s going to help me grow in my career with Austin Police Department, as far as learning more about the communities and the citizens of Austin, which we’re here to help serve and protect.”

“If you can’t see the world through the eyes of other people that are different than you, you won’t be able to respect what their wishes are and how they want to be treated,” said APD Chief Art Acevedo.

Regular readers of JMBzine.com know I’m not a fan of the police generally, but this story from Austin is very, very encouraging. I was very impressed that APD didn’t just have some presentation on diversity but actually had cadets immerse themselves into minority communities and learn about them. And I’m especially impressed to see that APD is reaching out to the GLBT community in particular (I wish the Oklahoma City PD would learn from Austin in this regard, given some of the abuses that have happened against the GLBT community by cops in the past).

Thanks to the news on OutQ 109 (Sirius satellite radio) for making me aware of this story. On a side note, Out Q is the best channel on Sirius. I think I may have to start a fan club for Straight fans of Out Q, because the channel is so good. The political programming and news is top-notch, but I also love the comedy/culture shows too (particularly Derek and Romaine and the Diana Cage show).

2007
12.26

MSNBC: Christmas tree survives war, Hiroshima bomb — Family says the 3-foot-tall heirloom used for 70 years is a symbol of unity

2007
12.26

Youtube.com: Ukrainian Army Ad

Hmm… I think the message of this ad is that if you join the Ukrainian army, girls who dress like it is the 80’s and wear giant earrings will dig you. Mighty interesting…

By the way, be sure and read the translation of the ad on the right-hand side of the youtube page.

2007
12.21

Liberty Counsel: Southwestern Oklahoma State University bans the word “Christmas”

Liberty Counsel: Update on “Christmas” ban in Oklahoma

NewsOK.com: Why SWOSU is not merry about accusation

Examiner.com:
Now the Okie Napoleon is banning ‘Christmas’ (UPDATED!) (AND CONFIRMED)

Okiedoke: Is Drew that good, or his enemies that desperate?

SWOSU.edu: No ban on Christmas

No Ban on Christmas
December 20, 2007

An attempt to be respectful of the diverse religious population at Southwestern Oklahoma State University has been misinterpreted as an attempt to ban Christmas on the Weatherford campus.

The rumor of this ban is not true.

The university attempted to prevent the appearance as a state agency of endorsing any particular religion.

John Hays
SWOSU President

Pretty crazy story. I’m not a fan of the big furor of the “War on Christmas” (to me, getting all up in arms about what seasonal greeting one uses is just silly and is missing the whole point of the season for Christians, you know “Peace on earth and Good will to men”), but I also do raise some questions about the high-handed approach of the PC police these days. It seems like the mess at SWOSU (and who is responsible for it, be it State AG Drew Edmondson or the SWOSU administration) is a bit over the top.

I personally believe (as a strong believer in both the free exercise and the establishment clauses of the First Amendment), that SWOSU students and employees should be free to express Christmas greetings in whatever way they see fit, as long as they are doing so individually. If an employer puts a little Christmas tree on their desk or wears a “Merry Christmas” button on their clothes, who cares?

On the hand, I think if the University is speaking institutionally, then it ought to be non-sectarian in its approach. Either do what the USPS does (issue stamps in honor of all of the winter holidays— Christmas, Haunakah, Eid, Kwanza, etc.) or it should just stick to a standard “Have a happy holiday” or “Seasons Greetings”, or heck just leave off the holiday expressions altogether.

More than anything though this story seems rather ridiculous, and it certainly seems like everybody is not giving anybody else the benefit of the doubt or a little bit of charity.

I gotta say though that I find it funny to see SWOSU go overboard on PC-ness yet again.

My own experience at the school was pretty interesting. I was there for my first 3 years of full-time higher education (from 1994-1997) and when I was there it definitely seemed very PC. I of course was conservative back in those days (yes, scary as it was, I was actually the President of the College Republicans by the time I left the school…thankfully I changed my views in the succeeding years) and had the conservative persecution complex (fostered by folks like ISI), but even with those biases considered, I would have to say that the administration was incredibly controlling and for lack of a better word, PC.

One of the best examples was when I wrote a column in the student newspaper about a ballot measure that would cap property tax rates. My column encouraged folks to vote for it (ironically I changed my mind about it by election day, as I began to understand that the measure would kill rural school districts) but the University President at the time (Dr. Joe Anna Hibler) actually tried to censor it, arguing that the newspaper was a state-funded media outlet and as such couldn’t take stands on issue like this. (not true — SCOTUS already made clear the rights of college student newspapers, and besides my column was a representation of my views and not the newspaper’s) Thankfully my faculty adviser stood her ground, but it did show me how paternalistic and controlling SWOSU was. In fact if anything the attempt at censorship by Dr. Hibler made me far more defiant in my future columns.

Dr. Hibler shouldn’t have tried to stop an arrogant underclassman from expressing his half-baked political ideas in a commentary and in trying to do so just gave me more gumption to keep expressing myself. And SWOSU would have been much smarter if instead of an outright Christmas ban had said something like this… “we respect the rights of students and employees to say their holiday greeting of choice etc., but we also should be respectful of other faiths at this time and make it clear that the university does endorse any particular religious sentiment.”

2007
12.21

Examiner.com/AP: Live round fired at soldier during training exercise

I came across this story in the print edition of the Lawton Constitution this morning but the story isn’t on their website, however it on the wire now which is how I found it.

I’m glad to see the Army is investigating this incident, but I have two questions that I doubt that CID will ever get around to asking…

1. What compensation is the family of Daniel Patrick Fisher going to be getting? The Army killed this young man, this son, this husband. The least the Army can do is pay appropriate compensation (oh, say $10 milllion or so).

2. This question is the one that really haunts me — Most of the soldiers I speak to day in and day out as a GI rights attorney tell me that Basic training is a living hell for them. Many of them are horribly depressed, even suicidal during Basic training. What I want to know is how can we as a society live with ourselves, knowing that the last days of Daniel’s life were likely horrific and would likely be considered to be child abuse if he were 2 years younger. How can we live with ourselves knowing this?!

And now he is dead.

19 years old. When I was 19, I was dumb as bag of hammers. I thought I was in love and had my life together but I was really a mess, just trying to figure things out. I think most 19 year old are just trying to make it, trying to figure out their way in life. Thankfully I never got ensnared by the recruiters but so many young people are, and they wind up being maimed (physically or mentally) or even dead. And we all are to blame.

How can we let this go on? When will it stop? I’m sorry if I’m expressing too much emotion here but tonight I just can’t get the stories out of my head. I had a soldier tell me yesterday that when he was in Basic training, he was continually on the verge of tears and that when he was alone he would sob. He would cry most of the night, even though he was bone tired because of what the Army was doing to him and how they were destroying him and his spirit. This is so ****ed up. — I know that anger isn’t the answer but right now it is the only emotion that comes. I want to know why God lets this kind of crap happen and why we as human beings stand silent while this kind of evil takes place.

2007
12.20

MSNBC: Demolition of New Orleans housing approved — Protests precede City Council vote on racially charged controversy

New Orleans IMC: Police Attack Protesters With Mace, Tazers to Keep Them Out of City Hall

First locked out of their homes for more than 2 years, and now locked out of the very City Council meeting in which the city’s politicians are set to vote for tearing down their homes, residents and activist today were attacked by police to keep them from entering the City Council chambers.

I wish I could be there in NOLA with my brothers and sisters from the National Lawyers Guild who are fighting back against this injustice.

As for the violence inflicted by the NOLA police, I understand that their defenders will say that it was necessary to preserve order. However I’m reminded by a line from the movie Cool Hand Luke, “Saying that it’s your job doesn’t make it right.” I don’t support violence by protesters but I do support disruption by protesters, and I think the cops shouldn’t be striking back with unnecessary force.

What is interesting to me is how the AP described the violence. They make it sound like the protesters were inflicting violence on the police, and yet if you read the story closely the only violence used by the protesters was that they tried to push through a gate. That’s it. Yet the police used pepper spray and tazers. That is not a proportionate use of violence and is indefensible in my opinion. Pepper spray and tazers are one step away from lethal force and shouldn’t be used for something as mild as this.

Anyway though, my heart and prayers are with those who are continuing the struggle for justice in NOLA.