Daisy Dispatch & Lyrical Caldicott Call

“Behind us the damage is done, no one can erase
Love has no ending, just a resting place….”
– the author’s home schooled teenage charge singing lyrics from White Buffalo’s haunting The Getaway after reading this article

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things
— from Hopkins’ God’s Grandeur

Introductory notes: I use lyrical language often in reaching out for social and environmental change. For we have to collectively not only think outside of the box, but to smash the box nonviolently. A challenge for the imagination which prosaic language cannot begin to embrace. This is a totally serious statement, the thrust of which remains unacknowledged beyond microscopic islands of perception nationwide. It goes hand in hand with the Ostrich Syndrome which enables everyone from the most educated echelons to the most immiserated to avoid the obvious. What?! That we MUST honor Rilke’s injunction: “You must change your life.” [Pause.] I’ll address that head on when I take on the deeply well-intentioned http://www.daisyalliance.org/what-can-i-do-today.html below. For those who are inclined to ask, “Hey, Oxman, can you condense what you have to say?”… as if that’s going to cut the mustard, I give the points directly below. BUT I urge one and all to go to bed with my full presentation here… at least to the degree which Helen Caldicott spent her precious heartbeats with the focus of Errol Morris’ Fog of War.

1. I tried to teach Helen Caldicott something in 2003 which could have made a huge difference.
2. I have something equally valuable to contribute to Daisy Alliance now.
3. My singular attempt to serve as an asset urgently will be counterproductive… if my effort (including this) cuts off discussion at the knees… prematurely.
4. No matter what, the issue of pace must be discussed with or without me.
5. Blending AND appetite, especially the latter, should also be considered regardless.

That feeble attempt to be comprehensive and prosaic is sad indeed. Read all my words.

Daisy Dispatch & Lyrical Caldicott Call
by Oxman

I first heard the expression “I ain’t your partner, I am your slave” on the lips of Flannery O’Connor. I don’t know how they got onto White Buffalo’s record http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=the+getaway+white+buffalo&FORM=VIR E1#view=detail&mid=08F75D4827BD6C81945A08F75D4827BD6C81945A, but… I can use it here. For I’m appealing to Helen and the dedicated activists at the Alliance in Georgia not as their potential partner… in the traditional sense. Rather, I am bowing down to their fine efforts and accomplishments to date, submitting to their agenda… as they see fit.

Flannery held that stance in relation to her literature. And she certainly submitted gleefully to her God. Or as she would put it… GOD. It was a good thing. A healthy thing. The only thing.

[Pause.]

It’s germane that Flannery’s Andalusia — her haven — was in Georgia. For this article and more. For my formative years were given incomparable love in and around Atlanta and Milledgeville. Long before there were any highways to speak of in what is now the South’s…. [You fill in the blanks, I've got no time to dwell on denigrating descriptions.] Seriously, there’s a convergence here, with me reaching out to Daisy Alliance, one which should become clear… as we steer toward the clearing up ahead.

Out of sight.

Out of sight, that’s where I want to be with Daisy Alliance, doing work out of the spotlight. As a volunteer. But… moving at a special pace. In fact, I almost titled this piece, The Pace You Embrace.

“Blessings to you for providing the valuable update. Please note that I was just thinking of you as I turned on the computer. And that my thought was that I should underscore for you that WHATEVER PACE you want to embrace might be fine, as long as consideration was given to whether or not the FORM of action being taken was obsolete. I love your enthusiasm for grassroots creative juices, solidarity. Abbracci, Oxi”

I emailed that to a lovely person from Daisy Alliance who expressed concern, disgust actually, with my sense of urgency*, more… my unsolicited aggressive pushy approach. I had pushed some dark demonic buttons perhaps, unknowingly risking the great value of what I have to offer. To that person’s credit… I was given the benefit of the doubt on several scores, a reprieve. Thank God.

*Crucially, in my own defense, I should point out that the ongoing arthritic snail’s pace and disingenuous stance of career politicians have every bit as much to do with the nuclear plight we’re in a present as anything that can be traced to rushing agendas. My frenzied chutzpah at fault? I genuinely look forward to learning how.

Permit me to switch gears now for a moment, and come through a white-bleached thrashed backdoor, one which Flannery might invoke at this juncture if she were in my shoes.

See, back in 2003 I had a telephone conversation with Helen Caldicott. One which should be very instructive, necessary before plowing on much further. Now… Helen has credentials, as the reader undoubtedly knows, which are in a whole different ballpark than mine… when it comes to nuclear-related issues, seeds planted, etc. I’m not in her league in that respect. Still, back then I was in a position to teach her something, all of her deep experience notwithstanding. Something invaluable.

My wife and I were preparing to put on One Dance: The People’s Summit, a three-day production, free for one and all in Santa Cruz, California… featuring Michael Parenti, Cynthia McKinney, Bill Blum, D.C.’s Center for Democracy, and a score of other high profile individuals and organizations. Literally, a score. We did it on a zero budget and less experience… and I was in the process of trying to lure Helen onto our program, when she politely, graciously begged off, explaining that she was previously committed to waltzing down the hallways of power with Robert McNamara. [Pause.] For the purpose of influencing events her way.

Well-intentioned, yes. Understandable, yes. But… I underscored for her (presumptuously or not in her eyes, I didn’t care, as I was firm about the truth of what I had to say)… one cannot make the healthy inroads one seeks by going to bed with the likes of McNamara.

I was going to use a special word in lieu of writing the likes of McNamara, but we can talk about how he’s a prototype of sorts for the spirit of Frank Underwood (from House of Cards) when we meet in person. The point is that all of the heartbeats she spent in those high-powered hallways didn’t take her where she wanted to go. And I knew that they wouldn’t.

I could have save her a lot of time and energy. Ditto for the entire anti-nuclear movement.

And the same holds true today for others.

But before I launch into that, it’s important that I stress how respectful I am of the work that’s already being done. All the fighting the good fight. It is right for concerned citizens to be doing what they see fit, by means which they deem most effective.

That said, I return to my email above. Where I humbly and respectfully request that consideration be given to whether or not one’s form of protest/education/advocating is obsolete.

[Pause.]

Now we can head for that clearing up ahead on the right… or the one on the left a little further down the road.

PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO BE VERY OPEN FOR WHAT FOLLOWS OR I WILL LOSE THEM PREMATURELY. Sweethearts from Daisy Alliance need only read my boldface comments adjacent to the words which appear on their TAKE ACTION NOW page.

First of all, ALL websites featuring Take Action Now advice are seriously wanting.

Although widely discussed as a desired goal, peace, specifically world peace, often appears to be an insurmountable goal, and most people today would say that while they would like to see peace in the world, they do not believe it is possible. That includes activists ‘cross the board. Virtually ALL who I have come across in the last nine years have given up on the Big Picture.

The Daisy Alliance is, above all things, a peace organization. We seek to change nuclear weapon policy so that the U.S. becomes a world leader in both nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament. Peace and WMDs cannot both exist in the same world. The powers that be in the U.S. do not want to “change nuclear weapon policy.” That is certainly not a priority. And the idea of it is in conflict with U.S. powers’ desire to be one up on others always, to be in a position to call the shots, to extend empire, not have serious competition in any significant realm.

The way to achieve this change and protect our planet, our children, and our future, is for everyone to make this a priority with lawmakers. Speak to your elected representatives, and see below for information from No Time To Kill on how you can make a difference. As noted, neither lawmakers nor others in decision-making capacities — the vast majority of them — have the admirable goal as a priority, cannot as things stand. And whereas communicating with them is obligatory… if embraced as one’s primary or exclusive means for bringing about change one cannot expect any significant transformation.

“A voice is not heard until it speaks. Have you spoken?”
—Bernard Shaw, U.S. Broadcast Journalist

Shaw continued, “Your interests are not being served if you do not act and educate the regulators, lawmakers, role-makers and everyone else about what you are doing. Others are getting what they want, why not you? You have the same power and influence to protect your industry and your interests.” [1] Lawmakers cannot represent their constituents if they do not know what the voters want. I can definitively document the fact that the regulators, lawmakers et alia already know what the vast majority of the public wants vis-à-vis nuclear weaponry, but their wishes are not being honored. Have not been respected for quite some time.

Former Vice President Al Gore gave the commencement address at Johns Hopkins University in 2005. His comments were made in the context of global warming, but they are just as poignant in the context of WMD disarmament: Al Gore begs to be seen, perhaps, in a very different light here. It might be instructive to discuss the degree to which he has acted more along the lines of Robert McNamara than as any potential savior vis-à-vis nuclear policy.

“The good news is this: By taking decisive and urgent action, we can still escape the worst consequences of this crisis. The even-better news is that, even though the solutions will be difficult in the extreme, we already have everything we need to be successful in this struggle, save perhaps the requisite political will. But in our democracy, political will is a renewable resource.” [2] What’s this? URGENT ACTION? How urgent? I wonder how Al defines that. I wonder how each and every person at Daisy Alliance and every other non-profit ‘cross the country defines it, especially those who deal daily with the collective deadlines we face. How are those deadlines determined, by the way? What I see are concerned citizens working very hard, but working with the same attitude about endgame as was popular in the 30s and 60s, an attitude not appropriate for today. In addition, “political will” is not all that’s missing. As noted previously, even activists have given up on the Big Picture. As things stand, we cannot hope to rally huge numbers to pressure careerists to do something they don’t want to do, cannot do considering their priorities. And the self-serving priorities of politicians has a counterpart within the sphere of the general public. The same basic selfishness prevails. And so… the injunction which says we must change our lives must be discussed. For apathy, resignation, cynicism, ignorance, habit and atomization now preclude people mobilizing in the necessary fashion. And what’s referred to as “democracy” has been replaced by plutocracy. See http://zcomm.org/zvideo/spending-money-is-not-speech/ for a quick touch on this point.

Nobody plans to fail, but many people fail to plan.

No Time To Kill contains over 50 action items that you can do to help bring about the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. Here is one that you can do today: (simply copy and paste the letter below into a new word processing document, then it can be personalized and easily mailed). As per http://oxtogrind.org/archive/1600, no one is a bigger fan of Bruce’s book than me. BUT we need to go over each and every one of those “action items” post haste.

The following letter can be used for the President, VP, Senators and Representatives. Perhaps we should first compare and contrast similarities and differences between the characters offered up by, say, House of Cards and the real deals on Capitol Hill. Maybe a discussion about the history of those in power respecting nuclear policy, to determine… attitude, potential as things stand. If we don’t like the way things stand, is it possible for us change the whole shebang legally and nonviolently? I do believe that it is possible to bring about the radical institutional changes needed, the extreme change in policy that our survival and decency begs for. But only if certain topics, angles of vision are discussed. Only if unacknowledged points — like the actual degree to which we are going to have to change our lives en masse, and how soon — are part of our daily dialogue.

In letters to the President of the U.S., use “President” for the Title and address as “Mr. President”. For former presidents, use “The Honorable” as title and address as “President “. For Vice President, use “Vice President” for Title and address as “Mr. “. The address for the White House can be found at www.whitehouse.gov/contact/. Proper form for all this is, of course, important. But our most important challenges do not lie in the realm of… address or greeting.

In letters to U.S. Representatives, use “The Honorable” as Title, and address as “Mr.” or “Ms. “. Your state’s Representatives can be found at www.house.gov. You will need to input your zip code and possibly your four digit zip code extension, which you can find at zip4.usps.com/zip4/welcome.jsp.

For Senators, use “The Honorable” as Title, and address as “Senator “. The contact information for your state’s Senators is located at www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.

[1] Bernard Shaw, CNN, speech to attendees at FSC Securities Corp..s NEBC, September 30, 2005.

[2] “Remarks by Al Gore,” Headlines @ Hopkins, Undergraduate Diploma Ceremony, The Johns Hopkins University, May 26, 2005.

[Date]

[Title][First Name] [Last Name]
[Address]
[City], [State] [Zip]

Dear [Prefix] [Last Name],

Respecting what’s directly below, it’s necessary to point out that we are documenting ourselves to death in lieu of taking meaningful fresh kinds of action in solidarity that will make a difference. Documenting, debating and entertaining ourselves to death. That doesn’t mean the facts aren’t important, that the public shouldn’t be helped to self-educate..
The following facts about weapons of mass destruction are quoted from the book No Time To Kill by Bruce A. Roth:
•A typical strategic nuclear bomb has a yield of 2 megatons, about the same explosive force as all the bombs dropped during World War II. About 26,000 nuclear bombs exist worldwide, having a total yield of 5,000 megatons - the explosive equivalent of 2,500 World War IIs and the power to kill 30 billion people.
•The global stockpile of biological and chemical agents is 50,000 metric tons - a lethal dose for 50 billion people.
•There are only 6.5 billion people on the entire planet![i]

The bi-partisan Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which is presently underfunded by Congress, has been responsible for dismantling, securing, and destroying some WMDs. However, its pace is too slow for us to be confident that the terrorists’ efforts to obtain WMDs and the materials to make them are thwarted. In addition to the present threat of a possible terrorist use of WMDs, the threat of a nuclear war from an accident or a miscalculation remains very real. PACE? Let’s define that. What would be a proper pace at this juncture considering the points made here? And do we not need to re-define terrorism? Meaning, in part, doesn’t our ongoing state terrorism increase the likelihood that other terrorists will be motivated to match us in kind? Elaboration upon request, of course, but Martin Luther King, for one, made a huge deal before he was assassinated about how we were the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. And recently, in a poll of 66,000 citizens in something like 60 countries, 25% of those polled made it clear that they thought the U.S. was the single greatest threat to world peace; Pakistan came in 2nd with 8%, and much of that came courtesy of India’s voting.

Weapons of mass destruction are constantly the subject of public policy debates and news reports, including these recent headlines about frightening mishaps:
•”Trailers, Secrets, and Los Alamos” The Los Alamos National Laboratory experienced “potentially the greatest breach of national security” in decades. Secret information on nuclear weapons design was removed from the facility by a low-level employee.[ii]
•”New Jersey Lab Loses Plague Infected Mice” Three mice infected with bubonic plague at a bioterrorism lab went missing and cannot be found.[iii]
•”Leaking Munitions Found at Blue Grass” Mustard gas was leaking from two munitions and continues to leak in a storage igloo at the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado.[iv]
•”Nuclear Fuel Missing” Southern Company’s Hatch Nuclear Plant disclosed that deadly fuel rods have been missing for 6 months, and cannot be found. This is the 4th such incident in U.S. history, and the 2nd largest.[v]
•”CDC Lab with Bioagents Loses Power” A CDC lab in Colorado containing plague and tularemia went 13 hours with a disabled security system.[vi]

If the U.S. cannot prevent security breaches and accidents, imagine what security problems exist in other countries.

This sort of thing has been known for quite some time, yes?

According to former Senator Sam Nunn, “… a commission reported five years ago that it would cost $30 billion to lock up nuclear material all over the world.”[vii] That is roughly three weeks worth of U.S. military spending - only $100 per American. The cost to lock up biological and chemical agents might be similarly inexpensive. However, in contrast to that, the cost of a WMD attack cannot be measured.

WMDs are the most important issue in the world today. They pose a very real threat to our civilization, yet they have virtually no military utility as battlefield weapons, and they are not a deterrent against terrorists. Reducing and controlling these weapons are steps in the right direction, but the pace is unquestionably too slow, without a clear goal in sight.

AGAIN, ‘PACE’ COMES INTO THE CONVERSATION. I WELCOME THAT SUBJECT… AS SOMETHING TO BE DISCUSSED IN GREAT DETAIL IMMEDIATELY. The “right direction” is one thing. The right overall attitude and intention Big Picture-wise is quite another. Also, use of phrases like “most important issue in the world today” need to be reconsidered, possibly, in the context of recruitment ‘cross the board, potential necessary blending with citizens who may have other crises which concern them more.

I would like to know what you are doing to control and reduce the threat from WMDs, both here and abroad - before they eliminate us.

Speaking truth to power (as a mantra) is overused these days. Power knows the truth. But it has no intention of relinquishing power, and so clings to nuclear weapons. Power knows where its bread is buttered, and what it can get away with… which includes perpetrating the delusion that we still have a functional democracy… in contrast with everything even moderates like Bill Moyers are saying these days.

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[Your City, State Zip]

[i] Bruce A. Roth, No Time To Kill, (Atlanta, Georgia, 2006).
[ii] Newsweek, November 13, 2006: 44.
[iii] Global Security Newswire, September 16, 2005.
[iv] Global Security Newswire, August 25, 2005.
[v] Atlanta Business Chronicle, “Nuclear Fuel Missing,” (December 16-22, 2005): 1.
[vi] Global Security Newswire, October 14, 2005.
[vii] “NUNN VS. NUKES,” Creative Loafing, August 25-August 31, 2005, Vol. 34, No. 16: 28.

Four decades plus in academia, six decades plus of activism and over seventy years of interpersonal interaction make me set festooned footnotes aside for the moment, this moment of collective crises and bootless cries.

In their place I ally myself with blood and bones, embracing Daisy darlings deep, calling on all Caldicotts to join hands in solidarity following a fresh paradigm, some new model for what we must dispatch together.