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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

DC 2007: Counterculture without the Long, Wonderful Trip

I'm going to the September 15th march in Washington, led by Act Now to End War and Racism (ANSWER). I'll be covering a participant or an neutral observer in the crowd as it goes from the White House to Capitol Hill, starting at noon. Details are available at ANSWER's sept15.org site.

The status quo is becoming one of endless war, but the US military apparatus is slowly changing, beginning to support a reduction in forces. How soon a drawdown will occur is unclear at this point. I think the antiwar movement seeks to speed an end to the war and build on the strong opposition to it. Waiting for the politicians to declare victory and go home is taking too long.

9/11 has come again and Petraeus' report seems to have created few waves. My impression is that Iraq and the War on Terror have merged. In order to discredit the antiwar side, in something right out of Goering, the peacemakers are belittled as soft against the threat in an old political game using the tools of nationalism and propaganda.

Defanged (or is it a more delicate region of the body that the Democrats have lost), the so-called political opposition is unwilling to look "soft on terror." H. L. Mencken said that no one's ever gone broke underestimating the American public so I guess this mask will have to be worn by all the players in Washington's Midnight Masquerade to keep politicans looking good dancing with the public, who may by now know the truth but still succumb to oozing embrace of superficiality laid upon them by their suitor. On one side of the politicians mask is the antiwar face, white and of the truth; the face on the other side of the mask is dark, lying to support the troops, sacrificing the fundamental truth that we can't win by stretching the myth of victory forward year after year. Until the pain of change is less than the pain of going on, things will go on as they have. Isn't this the ultimate purpose of political activism: to make the status quo intolerable?

Not everyone is sitting down. ANSWER, the organizers of the march, has been sued for putting up posters, and in one video, a police action occurred where prominent ex-Marine opposed to the war, Adam Kokesh, tried to post bills for the event, along with two other peace activists. The arrestees claimed the placing the signs was wholly constitutional.

While Americans in the streets might not be subjected to Guantanamo-style bags over their heads, the police state appears to be springing into action. This is the same heavy-handedness we see in what I've heard called "a desensitization of the American public to police violence" common in a widening plethora of reality TV cop dramas that feature chases and arrest.

Some of us have seen a good deal of excitement, or enough Dead shows, to know when that the craziness really begins, when the ugly beast roars its head, and to stand well clear or strap in and "enjoy the ride".

The big bad government--you naughty--is apparently being quite bad, if you can read and aren't tethered to anemic flow of mainstream news. Perhaps the public need a jolt of reality java to waken themselves up to the excesses of the ever-growing State before it's too late. As Timothy Leary said, we need more people to turn on, tune in and drop out in order to build a new counterculture. Maybe we needn't go that far--even the simplest expression of public disobedience by the 70% opposing the war should be enough to shake the status quo, which is only tacitly admitting the need to draw down our forces, years after that point had been made on the Web for anyone curious enough and open to learning the truth.

This style of government beyond accountability has been going on for a while. Ignoring the popular mandate is nothing new for the administration; its spawned new lows in the cashing in on the public good and pandering to corporate sponsors and lobbyist who wag cash notes in the face of our greedy public servants. Look no farther than recent mine disasters and mountaintop removal, to see the effects of regulatory neglect on the environment and worker safety.

A teaser for Naomi Klein's new video is here, just released under the director of Children of Men Alfanso Cuaron. {Editor's Note: I'd reviewed the movie earlier this year--I hope to assemble the information in a move review section, perhaps on my forthcoming website www.jbpeebles.com}

I saw Ms. Klein at a conference on media consolidation at the Univ. of Illinois in May of 2005. She was good then, talking about her experiences covering Iraq. She's now written a new book, Shock Doctrine, on disaster capitalism.

With Baghdad and New Orleans as viable example, Klein will be able to make a powerful point that the crony capitalist system has gorged itself upon the miserable suffering of others. Each weather event seems almost guaranteed to produce a desirable rate of return for corporation that wield the most inflence in Washington.

Washington may be the heart of the empire, but the empire isn't ruled by Darth Vader, yet. I hope by going to our nation's capital I can participate fully in the American duty to be political active. I act on this principle in writing this blog. While much of what I write comes from a political perspective, I try not to let bias clear my analysis of objective facts. Being closer to th story should allow me to do more reporting and perhaps less commentary, but I don't see how suppress my inner conviction that the war is wrong.

I'm self-taught as a journalist, and blogging is a new profession, but I hope I can act as a single person news-gathering entity, a microscopic version of the media behemoths that claim to be providing the news that we really know is watered-down infotainment more concerned with missing children and celebrities.
Those items sell more stuff, and the meaningless blather spews on, a consumer culture of endless consumption and rising profits.

I will not go so far as to say that we've all dumbed down. Wherever you stand on the war, I respect your opinion and the right you have to express it.

These are the Constitutional liberties I believe all Americans are entitled to. No man has the right to take them from American citizens.

I've also tried to avoid leaning Democrats, an easier task with the Demo not fighting the war. I'm much more concerned with the erosion of our personal liberties than a choice of parties, or "choice of lesser evils" as I've called their alternative (others have said this too.) The war on terror can't be allowed to sabotage the rights that so many have given so much to defend.

I lean to the libertarian side on shrinking the size of government. I am not, however, for grossly diminishing it. Simply to keep our federal government from getting any larger would be an admirable achievement; ending Iraq and the $3 billion a week it cost us would be a start.

Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are routinely ignored by the mainstream media, but I hear they're doing better than expected. I like the independent voices of these two; perhaps a healthier middle is between the political views of those two than the current upsidedown political environment where war is peace and support of peace equated with terrorism.

I hope to honor our veterans by ending the war. I know some may disagree, and to those I'd like to extend the willingness to disagree. Too many of us shy away from our difference. We need to be willing to enter into a dialogue amongst ourselves, to achieve great things and make changes when we must.

September, in 2007, is such a time of change. With the first cool hint of fall comes a clarity of space and time, an opportunity to decide the future course of our nation. I could not simply let the bus go by. I had to get on.

News Content:

Streaming? Well not just not yet. I'm mostly a words guy, but I do dabble in photography and a little video. I hope to do some audio interviewing too.

I will be writing for another Internet news resource, actually reporting this time it looks like. I appreciate the chance to generate raw content for my readers.

I also have a good amount of nature photos. I've started posting them to flickr.com, under John Peebles. I want to assemble all my info in one place on the Web, including my photos.

Working in two and three media is a challenge, so I hope you'll be patient with my efforts to bring you photos under the new web at www.jbpeebles.com

I hope to write close to real time. This is my first endeavor in covering a major protest, so I hope you will bare with me. I do expect to see the prevalence of discontent manifest itself quite vigorously.

Now as for whatever friction might arise, I'd just assume stay away. The wild and crazy days with the Grateful Dead were long ago and I have no desire to relive them at this stage of life.

Flashback: I'm seeing the Dead with Bob Dylan in RFK Stadium in 1986. Very hot back then. I remember the riot squad sweating down in the dugout, near the field, which was General Admission. I was with some people I knew from Kenyon. The show was great; I can still remember the Can't Get No Satisfaction encore. Waking up now, realizing it was another time. There may be a heavy police presence, but that was true back then too.

Oh how much sweeter with time are the memories! Some of you were there. Maybe you got on the bus sometime in the past. Well, I hope you can make the journey to Washington, to have your voice heard or just to enjoy the city.

I think it's not so much the results of taking action as the act of participating fully in the life we make for ourselves. I guess living is really about how much we care, and how much we give. I guess I getting soft in my old age, or as Jerry Garcia said, "with a touch of grey."

I'll be posting soon, here and perhaps elsewhere on the Web. Stay in touch.



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