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Hi, my name is Jim Macdonald, and I have an odd assortment of interests. In no particular order, I love Yellowstone, I am an anti-authoritarian activist and organizer, and I have a background in philosophy, having taught at the college level. My blog has a lot more links to my writing and my other Web sites. In Jim's Eclectic World, I try to give a holistic view of my many interests. Often, all three passions show themselves interweaving in the very same blog. Anyhow, I think it's a little different. But, that's me. I'm not so much out there, but taken together, I'm a little unusual.

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    Wednesday, May 31, 2006

    All-nighter! 25th Anniversary of Peace Park Vigil! June 3

    Twenty-five years ago, Thomas and Connie began a vigil against nuclear war outside of the White House in Lafayette Park. This vigil has continued 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the past 25 years.

    At Noon, on June 3, in Lafayette Park, an all day open mike speak out will take place, with featured speakers scattered throughout the day, among them Colman McCarthy. At night, the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) encourages people to STAY ALL NIGHT in honor of the vigil, MAKING NOISE in honor of the 40 days and 40 nights of drumming at the vigil in 1991 during the first Gulf War, noise that led the elder President Bush to complain about sleepless nights due to those "damn drums." The weather is expected to be much more pleasant.

    Unfortunately, nuclearization remains with us. Just this month, in Nevada, activists, among them Western Shoshone Indians, managed to "indefinitely" stop a major above ground explosion at the Department of Energy's Nevada Test Site. This explosion, if it happens, would kick up a cloud of radioactive dust (from decades of nuclear tests) that would have been dangerous to the people of the Great Basin. While we worry about nuclear proliferation and nuclear power in Iran, the nuclear power industry, led by war profiteers like Bechtel, has taken heart from the rise in oil prices and have cynically proposed hydrogen power as the green alternative of the future. What they don't tell you is that the only really effective way to produce hydrogen is as a byproduct of nuclear power. In Iraq, depleted uranium munitions, which are supposed to be "safe" because the uranium is not enriched, but which we know to have caused awful suffering, have been dumped in vast quantities causing irreparable harm to many Iraqi people.

    The vigil has not stopped nuclear war; how could it? No small group of people can by themselves be expected to stop nuclear war. And, yet, how much further back might we be without the constant reminder and inspiration of Thomas and Connie and all from Proposition One who have maintained the vigil, people like Ellen and Troy?

    I became an activist because I was inspired by this vigil and have heard countless others say the same.

    Without this vigil, how easy it might be to keep the nuclear issue on an irrelevant back burner while other issues of the day take the stage. And, while one must admit that that inevitably happens vigil or no, any trip to Lafayette Park will always remind us that we have not done nearly enough to fight the actual and potential catastrophes that the nuclear age has brought us.

    Twenty-five years is a call for celebration, but it is a reminder of where we need to go. In the hands of people who think that nuclearization is merely a tool toward some other better end, those who have no say in the matter are always the losers, from the people, animals, and plants that are destroyed to the land that becomes a wasteland.

    We need to do more.

    Thomas and Connie have put themselves on the line for the greater activist community by protecting that space so that we all might use it to speak out against the policies of the US government. Holding that ground has not always been easy, and it will be far harder if the vigil ever packs up and goes away. The least we can do to support this vigil is to be out there on June 3 showing our support and by staying the night. Over time, we may be called to be there day after day keeping the vigil going. For now, at the very least, let us honor them with our presence on this day.

    Jim Macdonald

    DC Anti-War Network

    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    Report from Silent Vigil protest at the home of John Negroponte

    We in the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) Weekly Action Group returned to Director of National Intelligence's Negroponte's 3100 Cleveland Avenue NW home last night for a silent vigil in memorial for the dead and tortured throughout the world (specifically, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iraq) and instead were welcomed to the strange security world of John Negroponte. Ten days previously, a DAWN activist had been detained for half an hour by a CIA police officer, though was subsequently released by the DC police without charges. The activist had been on public ground protesting and had not committed a crime, but the CIA police officer had explained that the Ambassador wanted someone arrested for this, a quote that has been corroborated by audio tape.

    This time, a security person (didn't identify himself this time except over his phone as "John" - and we didn't ask being that it was a silent vigil - but may have been CIA like last time) immediately came out of an SUV to announce upon the arrival of 12 of us (ultimately 15) that he had called the police and that they were on their way.

    We set up outside of his house and were as quiet as could be, holding signs and banners and lighting candles. Inside were John Negroponte and what appeared to be a wife and someone else. Within a few minutes, they looked out the window, put down their shades, and turned off the lights. Occasionally, we could see them peaking out the window at the spectacle below.

    Several MPD (DC police) showed up, a secret service agent, another security person related to the home. If they were CIA like last time I can't say, but they were belligerent and as nasty as one might expect. They went around with notepads taking notes on each participant (and later photographs), saying out loud their description, sometimes with derogatory things to say about people's weight or their hair color or what was on the signs. They had to admit that we were being "very peaceful," "very quiet", though the security man John was quick to point out, "with a lot of attitude."

    As mentioned, several DC police showed up. One higher ranking one attempted to engage us in conversation, but we stayed silent. Another of our group was getting concerned by police presence and was trying to protect others in the group by keeping his bike between John and the rest of the group, which led to a testy moment. Our friend thought it best to get himself out of the situation, and he did by leaving the vigil.

    As for the neighbors, one set of neighbors called us derogatory names, but another set toward the end drove up and asked if we were protesters. One of our group came up and told her that it was a silent vigil aimed at Negroponte to which she exclained loudly, "I'm so glad! It's about time somebody protested him!" Then, police quickly whisked her away while John said, "That's rude."

    At times, while most of us continued to aim our stares and our signs toward Negroponte (and thankfully, the security/CIA? wrote down what every sign said, not to mention what people's t-shirts said, what brand of bag people were carrying on their backs, etc.), it was absolutely impossible not to notice the darkness of 31st street glaring with several police cars, with officers walking amongst and between us, attempting to bait people out of silence.

    The police chummed up to John and his co-worker having banter. Early on, one police officer asked John who lived here. He quietly said something like, "Ambassador John Negroponte." The cop quizzically said, "Who's that?" Then, a very quiet inaudible explanation, followed by a look of, "Oh, that's who it is" on the police officer's face.

    At the end, one officer told us we needed to be off the road we'd been on for one hour. So, we walked onto the sidewalk in front of his house, which forced the police out of the way. A few minutes later, an hour having passed (which was the generally pre-agreed upon target time for staying) we left as a group or in small groups of two, as John for a short time decided to follow us down the street. He wasn't done taking pictures and was frustrated that some hadn't given him a clear shot. Of course, they could see us through security cameras, so I don't know why they needed the mug shots in addition.

    We took our own pictures, audio, and video to document what was happening.

    We've had very noisy protests that drew almost no police presence. This one drew an enormous amount, probably due to last time or out of boredom - who knows?

    We were there to disrupt John Negroponte and express to him our outrage, albeit this night silently. We were also there to remember the dead and tortured, which despite the police, was how I spent most of my time. I noticed a huge, beautiful tree in Negroponte's yard and wondered how he would feel if someone had destroyed it. What a tragedy that would be, and I became sad at the thought. And, yet that tree serves to mask the murderer and torturer that is John Negroponte, a man who has no qualms about spying on any one of us. I went to think of people killed by death squads and was forced to confront a lot of intimidation tactics. Perhaps, we were the intimidators last night. The truth hurts, and in this case, it should.

    We will be back Thursday, June 22 at 7PM, meeting at Woodley Park Metro, this time for a louder, more traditional protest. We ask as many of you to join us as possible.

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    Response: Against the Nation-State

    I wrote this under the pen name "US out of North America" on DC Indymedia in response to another one of the endless defenders of the minutemen. The defender of the minutemen is in italics. I've gone out on a limb to take the more radical position against the pro-minuteman position that they are defending the working class against the Left and George W. Bush. In it, I talk more theoretically about anarchism and the rights of nations to the land they have.

    Let’s look at this more carefully.

    First, reaching back to my libertarian days, I may grant you that states with borders are unimportant by themselves. However, states do not equal nations — and nations do exist and people will defend them. Certainly, the display of militant Mexican nationalism that we have seen over the last couple months has not been condemned by the Left. Why shouldn't Americans be free to display their own national and cultural pride? Your post implicitly says there is a Mexican nation and not an American one. Why not?

    My post hopefully implies that there is both a Mexican and an American nation, but my position is that there should not be either a Mexico or a United States. As an anarchist, I am against all displays of nationalism as an inherently arbitrary divider between people.

    This is not to say that the two forms are therefore equally bad. The United States has historically oppressed many of its own people and people throughout the globe, including Mexico. It has used wealth, resources, and military to dominate and serve as an obstacle in the self-determination of people in a way that only the largest imperial powers ever have. So, to the extent that the United States is guilty of a greater scope of oppression, American pride makes even less sense than Mexican pride, which at the very least seems to signify to many a rallying point to signify the common history of an oppressed class, the way being an African does for an entire continent, or being black does for people with that skin color. So, when I see a Mexican flag, it’s not so easy as to say that what I’m seeing is a bald case of nationalism the way it is when I see an American flag.

    Even so, I do not think the state of Mexico is any more legitimate than any other state. Boundaries are used to preserve the status quo and a relationship of oppression. While the Mexican boundaries are smaller than they might have been without the outside oppression of the United States, they are too large for the people who wish to determine their own destiny who happen to live within the control of the Mexican police force and military. This repeats itself all over the globe. There is what scholars call internal colonialism that exists within every country. The United States is a double perpetrator in the colonialist game, as internally colonizing large groups of people within the boundaries of its own borders while exerting its control beyond its borders by using governments throughout the world to do its bidding, without any input from the people of these countries. A power structure stays in place among all the ruling classes throughout all the nations of the world to keep that system in place.

    Because nation-states are still the international norm, our survival as a people, for now anyway, is tied with the survival of our state. Why is it that everyone else is allowed to defend their right to exist and not us?

    Are you having trouble surviving? But, if you are, then I would still tell you it’s not the immigrant who is to blame but the policies of the governments of the world, chief among them the richest countries in the world, especially the United States, and the multinational corporations who have created this mess.
    But, you say that “our survival is tied to the survival of our state,” which is an amazing claim. People make it all the time, but you have a huge burden of proof. I’m not sure how you could possibly know such a thing. And, for the purposes of this discussion, you’ve done nothing more than beg the question.

    And what are you talking about that the land belongs to no one? Of course it does. While your anarachist zines may say free the land, I really don't think you have thought through the consequences of this policy. Should I bring a few dozen of my friends to crash at your house and then angrily protest when you request that I leave? By what right could you tell me to go? Should we all raid farms in the Midwest, eat all the food, and then protest when we are arrested? Do you honestly think such a society could survive? If you are going to be an anarchist, at least be a market anarchist.

    I can honestly say I’ve never read an anarchist zine. However, I am making an ethical point; you are turning it around with pragmatic challenges. First, I’d ask you to consider the ethical point. By what right does anyone own the land? At least John Locke attempted to give a rationale for it however misguided he was. He said that people own the land because they make improvements upon it and therefore can be said to have made the land better and therefore by right has ownership to the land. Of course, I find a lot wrong with this rationale, starting with the questions about measuring what “improvement” is. Presumably a nation claims its ownership of land because it has the ability to protect the space upon which improvements to the land for use by humans can be made. Since that is the first prerequisite of survival, and the nation-state is best equipped to handle this challenge, so the argument goes that the land belongs to a nation. The nation whose people may best use the land have more ownership rights to it. That’s how it goes, right? Is that what you are talking about? If so, let me know before I go further. It’s a familiar argument used throughout the 19th century to steal land from Indians who weren’t using the land well enough.

    Now, to your practical concerns, I wouldn’t know where to start since the problems run deeper than your loaded questions. We shouldn’t expect there not to be problems; there’s nothing utopian about the anarchist worldview. The question is simply what is more just and less oppressive and allows people their greatest empowerment and therefore the greatest opportunity for expression. I would argue that comes from small communities that recognize and respect the wider community of beings in the world, including the land, the animals, and much more besides. Being a so called “market” anarchist makes everything and everyone a commodity, and so its built on an ethos that accepts an oppressor relationship right from the onset. So, it is inherently self contradictory.

    Our policies are bringing them here? How about the Mexican government's? Unless you literally maintain that the United States government must ensure an equal standard of living for every person in the entire world, regardless of where they live or their ability or desire to work, you are saying we can't defend our borders. Who is going to pay for all this — the same American middle class that is getting screwed by both Bush and the Left? And how are they going to do this when the American government, as you just claimed, doesn't have a right to exist? Will you finally go away when we are all living like Third World peasants? Is that the glorious revolution of which you dream?

    I think I’ve spoken to the issue of the Mexican government. Do not confuse the people living in a land with their government. It is not the immigrant’s fault what the Mexican government does when it schemes with the United States for agreements like NAFTA.

    I could argue with you from a consumerist standpoint and show you statistics that show that immigrants of all types actually help the economy grow and therefore aren’t nearly as costly as they seem to you, but I believe that standpoint is flawed. If the disruption of borders ultimately leads to a reduction of living standard for everyone in the country, I still wonder what constitutes a good standard of living – is it the ability to consume what one wants to consume? Isn’t that what often amounts to the American definition of freedom? Or, perhaps, it’s what the upper middle class and rich want to consume? Or what they and the creditors give you choice to consume? So, forgive me if I fail to see what a reduction in what you call your standard of living actually amounts to. Much of the technological behemoth that we’ve created to harness the land and its resources is not making anyone happier, only more alienated and unhappy. People are happy to consume but not happy because they simply can consume. Certainly, those who don’t have the means to do that much are even less happy, but almost all seemed to have bought into the lie that this is what life amounts to. It’s not enough to feed people, we must feed them until they are fat on cheesecake. They have to drive around in vehicles which choke the air and destroy diversity. They have to make enough money at the expense of someone else. And, if you are in one of the many underclasses in American society, you are sold a dream as the only option, and if you dare question that dream, it must be because of your own privileged position. But, all of this points to a general lack of empowerment, and without tackling the systems of oppression, we cannot possibly understand what a “good standard of living” is supposed to look like.

    In the short term, I’m not going to blame immigrants for wanting a slice of this very sick pie; what else is there? In the long term, acceptance of immigrants as the same as us will take us one short step toward dismantling many of the unjust oppressor relationships we have. And, while that will never end, dismantling at least a worldwide system that embraces this as an acceptable reality will, I believe, transform what we consider to be a good life.

    By what right? By the sovereign right of the American people to defend our independence. We do not need to ask permission from our enemies to defend our right to exist as a nation and as a people.

    If only it were the people you were talking about and not the mythical smokescreen we’ve all been taught to believe…all you are defending is an international system of injustice.

    Friday, May 19, 2006

    DAWN activist briefly detained by CIA police outside John Negroponte's home

    DAWN Weekly Action Group Protests Bill Frist: Video
    DAWN Weekly Action group Protests John Negroponte 3100 Cleveland Ave. NW: Video

    John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence, lives at 3100 Cleveland Avenue in Washington, DC. Tonight, the DC Anti-War Network's Weekly Action Group followed up a visit to the home of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist with a visit to the nearby home of Negroponte.

    One of our numbers was detained for about half an hour. Here is the initial report posted on DAWN's list. What follows that is my reply.
    > A DAWN activist was taken into custody by police at Secret Police Czar
    > Negroponte's home 3100 Cleveland Ave.,NW. He was apparently physically
    > harmed by the police according to one DAWN acivist. As this initial report
    > is posted it appears that the activist has been released from custody. He
    > was held for about 30 minutes in a police car for questioning. According
    > to a DAWN activist no laws or violence was used by the protesters. John
    > Negroponte has a long history of being associated with dictators, torture,
    > the disappearing of those who dissent and resist US domination and their
    > subsequent killing. Negroponte is a dangerous man who should be treated as
    > such. Tonight, DAWN activists protested outside of the Washington DC
    > mansion of Senator Frist a warmongerer and adversary of immigrants
    > especially those from Latin America. Afterwards the DAWN contingent went
    > to the mansion of John Negroponte, war criminal and Bush Administration
    > advocate of torture and Bill of Rights adversary.
    > More reports will follow.
    ***My follow-up report****

    Everyone is okay.

    The police officer who took our friend into custody was a CIA police
    officer who seemed to live in the house, having come out of the garage
    once and then again to grab our friend as all of us were leaving. We had
    been there exactly 10 minutes chanting and were on our way out. This
    person was the last behind and was getting gear for a bicycle.

    There are reports that the CIA police officer had told some of us that
    Negroponte wanted someone arrested. Negroponte was seen inside the house
    and was later captured on videotape in the garage.

    We are sincerely afraid that if we hadn't returned to witness what was
    happening that our friend risked being disappeared or taken into
    Negroponte's house. This officer wasn't fooling around. Even a neighbor
    came out from across the street to argue with the CIA police officer that
    the protest was peaceful and that he had no business arresting him. The
    CIA police officer said he was detaining him until the MPD could arrest
    him. But, the MPD ultimately ascertained that the activist had done
    nothing to deserve arrest and then warned activists that if they protest
    there that they need to stay off the property and keep the decibel level

    Other odd people came out of Negroponte's house, including a guy in a
    suit. His house wasn't anywhere near as large as Frist's gigantic
    mansion, and it's odd to think there are all these secret police types
    living in his house.

    I am going to propose that we organize a larger protest to Negroponte's
    house. Negroponte has been responsible for a lot of bad things in Central
    America, where he was involved with the funding of the Contras, helping
    the Honduran death squads, later ambassador to the UN, Iraq, and now
    director of national intelligence. He seems to be an axis point of a lot
    that's wrong in the world, as though the dots are pointing his direction.

    It's clear that this man does not like protest.

    There were several spooky moments, and I had a lot of images of
    anti-communist dissidents worrying that the secret police were out to get
    them. These are very powerful people, and I'm only thankful we were there
    to be witnesses.

    More will be coming, including a lot of video and audio.

    As for Frist, his mansion was so large I had trouble believing we were in
    DC. All his lights were on, and he had a huge screen tv that we could
    watch from the more than 100 feet away that we were. Yet, with all the
    lights and the gate, he didn't seem to be home.

    This was an action of the DAWN Weekly Action Group.


    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Many, including, McGovern and Sheehan, now holding Rumsfeld's house under siege

    Cindy Sheehan and Ray McGovern led an action late this afternoon to the home of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Below is a report I just wrote, which needs to be updated somewhat. The action is still going on as this is being written.

    Four activists, two who are participants in DAWN, have been arrested at Rumsfeld's home, apparently after going through the bushes and up to Rumsfeld's porch, nearly to his door. At least two of the activists do wish to be named (as I understand it), and they include Pete Perry and David Barrows. The other two with them were female activists unknown to me at this time.

    I have no further information except the report I just wrote from my time at the action:

    ***Many, including, McGovern and Sheehan, now holding Rumsfeld's house under siege***

    I've just gotten back from the action outside of Donald Rumsfeld's Kalorama home, which is still ongoing, and I must say I was impressed.

    People took the streets and blocked much of Connecticut Avenue, ironically forcing cars to take Kalorama, which was then inundated by protesters.

    Although Free Republic stood at the home, presumably to guard the space from their arch nemesis Code Pink, protesters paid little attention to them, and moved not only up to the bushes but onto the grounds of Rumsfeld's property, where they then began sitting in (including people we know very well). Free Republic, for their part, while they kept up spirited chants, looked bewildered and surprised by how the action was playing out.

    This was ongoing...the vibe was at times pleasant and calling for peace, at times angry and indignant. The marchers seemed to get angry with people in Dupont who waved but would not join.

    There was at peak perhaps 100 people in the march, which included former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, and peace movement celebrity Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq.

    It was a fantastic blend of forces and shows the power of a house demo. Rumsfeld is rarely if ever at that home, but I think the action has been very uplifting for people who see that there are protest opportunities.

    It would be a good idea to go back or actually to go to a home where someone is home.

    I loved the time of day, though, since traffic was heavy and forced to confront the reality of the march.

    There was no permit, to my knowledge.

    I know others will fill in the blanks, but it was a very positive and yet forceful action.

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    More on DC Central Kitchen and the food contract for homeless shelters

    ***My friend Becky wrote this on DC Independent Media; I'm sharing the link to it. In the link, I also am participating in the conversation. There's a lot more information on the contract as well as background information about DC Central Kitchen.***

    Last week when the Washington Post reported that food delivery to a number of city homeless shelters had been interrupted due to the city’s failure to deliver a contract to the DC Central Kitchen (DCCK), the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) weekly action group was able to mobilize and act pretty quickly. We had already been preparing and distributing food and other supplies on a weekly basis since mid-January, so we wondered not if we could do something, but how large scale an effort we could manage.

    DC Central Kitchen Deserves the Contract!
    by becky sambol

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Update on DC Homeless Shelter situation

    ***additional information***
    All I can discern from the internet about Nutrition, Inc.:
    Nutrition Inc, 2600 Bryan Pl SE, Washington, DC 20020-4417 202-889-3884
    Thomas Gaskins Mr President

    Fax: 202-678-7655

    More here:

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Urgent plea for help: DC Central Kitchen Suspends Daily Service of 2300 Meals

    DAWN has set aside a special paypal account earmarked for funds to help cover costs for this enormous undertaking. Anything you can donate would be of help. Any funds over and above what we might need will go to help our continuing service to the DC residents who happen to be homeless.

    After 17 years of helping feed the homeless, the DC Central Kitchen suspended its service to local shelters Monday. On Tuesday, the non-profit did not deliver 2,300 meals to eight city homeless shelters. Program administrators cite “lack of financial support from the community and unresponsive leadership” for their decision (see links to Washington Post articles below).
    A visit to the Franklin Shelter yesterday, May 2, confirmed that the shelter was in a desperate situation and had no idea how it would continue to provide daily meals for its 240-275 residents. We can only speculate about the politics behind this crisis, but we can help see to it that people do not go hungry as a result.

    As part of our ongoing weekly service to the city’s homeless population, the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) has committed to help the Franklin Shelter every Thursday, beginning this Thursday at 6 pm, until the crisis has been resolved. We urge others to help by donating food or money.

    Just to give you an idea, $30.00 buys rice, beans, and tortillas for 100 people. Any amount you can donate would be appreciated. Funds over and above what we need for this specific effort will be applied to the costs of our ongoing service to DC residents who are homeless, for food, beverages, paper goods, toiletries, and metro cards.

    You can also get in touch with DC's shelters directly and find out how you can help (see the listing below). Please, let us come together as a community and do what we can to fight the effects of this assault on human health and dignity.

    Our needs:

    - Existing groups (clubs, faith-based organizations, neighborhood associations, groups of friends) to organize help at one of the various shelters or by contacting them as to their needs (remember, we are only able to cover one meal on one day of the week at Franklin Shelter, and that in and of itself is a daunting task)
    - Significant kitchen space (huge need) with capacity to prepare large amounts of food
    - Big pots and pans
    - In our particular case, donations of volunteer time are always appreciated;
    - and/or money
    - of course, food donations (though, if you have particular food donations we should strategize about the critical problem of distribution)
    - demands upon the city government that they get this crisis with DC Central Kitchen Resolved (more on that to come).

    If you can help or need help coordinating ways you can help, please call Becky Sambol at 703-463-0558 or by email at

    DC Central Kitchen Suspending Service

    D.C. Group Stops Meals At Homeless Shelters
    Nonprofit Says It Needs More City Funding

    Men’s Shelters
    Community for Creative Non-Violence
    425 2nd St. NW

    Emery Shelter
    1725 Lincoln Rd. NE

    Franklin Shelter
    13th & K Streets, NW

    La Casa
    1436 Irving St. NW

    New York Avenue Shelter
    1355-57 New York Avenue, NE

    St. Elizabeth’s Hospital
    2700 A. St. SE

    Women’s Shelters

    John L. Young Shelter
    119 D Street NW

    Open Door Shelter
    2nd & D Streets, NW