Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meeting with FCNL

Diane Randall is the new chief of this age-old Quaker institution, one of the first religious-based lobbies on Capitol Hill. She's following John Volk in this position.

We may not be as influential as the Unification Church, which has made lots of inroads, but people still say Quakers should be listened to, even if only out of nostalgia (they like our horse and buggy ways, reminds them of simpler times).

I chauffeured mom to Reedwood Friends for this one, same room as Willamette Quarterly Meeting. Interesting to be back so soon, but this time surrounded by indigenous Reedwooders, whom neither of us know very well.

Mom is a long time activist and of course would want to be here, but then she finds WILPF roots for her causes more directly, given its radical women.

She admires FCNL though, along with QUNO and AFSC (she serves on the board of this latter).

Then we'd be off to the airport, for her flight to Las Vegas and the Nevada Test Site, where she has business.

Diane discussed the Occupation with us rather tentatively as it's not widely understood by church or synagogue groups ala EMO, although they may feel swept up in it, sense its importance in the zeitgeist. AFSC has come out in favor, and I got a poster planted.

Many have these nagging thoughts of Arab / Islamic roots, possible behind-the-scenes players who might be against Christmas shopping or adult book stores, or have designs against Israel more likely (actually no one here voiced that specific concern, but I've heard it from others -- one guy did hint about Arab advisers (perhaps using Facebook?)).

We yakked about Tunis and Cairo as originating capitals.

I kept my mouth shut about Food Not Bombs (I said not a word through any of this), but the idea is the same: agency from outside, originating in state capitals perhaps, but not in Washington DC nor even Salem so much.

Vancouver possibly?

Maybe Hanoi if you want to count Intel (a big player in these parts).

Lots of companies want to sponsor good works in foreign lands, not just those incorporated in the State of Maryland.

Speaking of which, yes, we may have hit a ceiling in terms of what North American hospitals will provide to OPDX through their clinics. No dialysis, no free eye exams (Lindsey needs new glasses), no free dentistry, not even in surrounding bizmos. At least not yet.

Basic human services are being denied (as expected), because the "richest nation on earth" is broke and in hock.

In terms of personnel, I haven't seen the usual flock of Catholic-trained nurses, usually on hand to help the homeless. But the days of cute uniforms are over perhaps. These professionals blend in.

Sometimes Asian traditions have cures as well, and a lot of note comparing goes on, generating some new business elsewhere around town. Having a buzz town is a lot better than having a mall (why not have both?). This place reminds me of Piazza Navona around Xmas time.

OPDX is a kind of switchboard. Higher bandwidth than Internet, and more accessible to points of view that usually don't get much air time.

Diane has inherited the creaky old system set in place after World War II and the Eisenhower administration. Congress would carve up a giant pie, called the prime contractors pie (or "irrigation system" in some tellings).

A trickle down form of centralized government spending would feed a vast socialized wealth redistribution system built up around campuses (both land based and floating) most with their own airports, hospitals, movie theaters and supermarkets. The aircraft carrier flotillas would be made here, there and everywhere, as a result of logrolling and deal making.

You saw that scheme in action with the Spaceshuttle program. Part of the reason for those O-Rings was so the sections could be short enough for train transport. Utah was blessed, but so were the others.

All 50 federated states
would collaborate, to some degree, on militarization as a way of life. As might be expected, the results were pretty ugly (witness Belau). Eisenhower had been prescient. USAers lost their innocence and optimism and toiled in servitude, their dreams betrayed, a mostly conquered people drinking Victory Gin and loving Big Brother.

If the choice was between Athens and Sparta, the choice was Sparta. Plowshares would be beaten into swords. No "peace dividend" would appear. Diane worked on the nuclear freeze movement years ago. Today that campaign is called Countdown to Zero and has more teeth.

And that was one of the questions for Diane from a Friend: is it the very business of government to create wars as a means of stimulating the economy? If that's your mental model, so much government does makes perfect sense all of a sudden.

Her answer was careful: some have that agenda, yes, but to implicate "government" as a whole of this crime is to implicate all of us who think we're part of the governing (steering) process. She was wisely non-self-incriminating in other words. Many are not so careful, freely confessing to war crimes in public.

To be fair to the ancestors, our world did appear to be heating up back then in Eisenhower's day, and not because of global warming, which wasn't in the popular consciousness. It was easy to pander to fear, to encourage and leverage hysteria. Politicians have been working the fear factor ever since, have it down to a fine art.

Can you blame them? They want your vote.

So the scary Cold War would stretch on through Reagan, then get hot again under Clintons in Bosnia, then start to thaw in the Arab Spring.

Democracy meant a more multi-polar world emerging, and lots more states with capitals, all vying to be heard.

Virtual states, corporations... even universities were starting to sponsor booths and to recruit more aggressively. The Gates Foundation proved once again that you don't need to be a nation-state to be an important player. On the contrary, mega-states have high inertia, like the Titanic, and rarely turn on a dime. Smaller means more agile.

I disagreed with some of the analysis coming from some members of the congregation, regarding the Vietnam War and it's conclusion in the early 1970s, when I was still in high school in the Philippines (we visited Saigon sometime in there).

Some suggested it was protests at home, domestic agitation, which got the profiteers out of overdrive. There's something to that, but then LAWCAP can be such a bull in a china shop and not really understand what it's breaking at the time. The webbing of nation-states, only recently instituted under Anglo rule, was pretty fragile.

If the former colonialists couldn't contain themselves, the notion of "national sovereignty" would fall by the wayside, would be seen through as a sham.

Anyway, I'd say stopping that bull took a real military awakening to the truly illegitimate actions of a sitting president, a figurehead for organized crime (as seen in retrospect). The commander in chief faced a mutiny, pure and simple. He was lucky to get out.

Sorting out the history, doing the audits, takes time.

Telling more of that story might help a younger generation avoid repeating various mistakes. That's something to get into on movie nights. Laughing Horse is probably on it. KBOO has it covered as well.

We probably don't need the Broadway Metroplex then, though I do think we'd get more of the 99% participating if we had more venues, more Lightning Talks. Some of the sponsors might see why even people doing their day jobs could benefit from more public speaking opportunities.

Having this be a separate initiative, also with city support, would be a way to transition some of the conversation to alternative media channels. We might get more vans in the picture. I'm thinking the Mir Corps jets at Troutdale airport, with matching eye care vans, could wait until closer to Thanksgiving though?

Also, the format for public speaking could be varied were the theater-based GOSCON type model followed (that was at The Nines, also nearby -- I know some staff). The speeches would not need to be repeated using human amplification, a signature technique of the occupation forces.

I should do some more tweets about it maybe. Or feel free to tweet yourself if the idea interests you.