Friday, December 07, 2007

Thursday's bizarre bazaar

All photos, click to enlarge

Thursday morning promised to be another beautiful day in downtown El Paso. It was the second day of the "Association of the United States Army's Institute of Land Warfare Shaping the Force Symposium." That's an annual three day gathering that takes place each December inside the Convention Center here.

As coincidence (?) would have it, a loosely woven, yet closely knit coalition of extremely dedicated activists happens to come together at that same time of year just outside that same place. I suspect these two events share some common thread and, loving connectedness of disparate things, I decided to accompany Mrs. Dada down to the Convention Center where she joined members of her group, the Border Peace Presence for a little demonstration against this symposium.

Approaching the Convention Center by car, the first thing that struck me was this sign "Prepare for Inspection Ahead." So impressed by it, I made an immediate left turn.

In our weekly revelations of governmental outrages is the circulating story of the torture tapes destroyed by the CIA. "Done to protect the innocent" is the reason claimed, but I suspect the opposite is true. It was done to protect the guilty.

Well, this sign warned if you choose to park underground beneath those meeting in the arms bazaar above, expect to be inspected. I'm sure it was thought of as a precaution to protect the innocent. But as with the CIA's logic, I suspect this is a sign to protect the guilty. After all, there was no "Prepare for Inspection" sign for last weekend's "Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular." Just as there'll be no inspections for this coming Sunday's "Holiday Afternoon with the El Paso Symphony."

"Prepare for Inspection Ahead" is a sign, as reminder, of the nation we have become.

Another reminder of the nation we have become was the theme of this year's AUSA symposium. It was "Building an Expeditionary Army for Persistent Conflict." Sadly, it appears there is no peace in the foreseeable future for U.S. citizens if our government has its way.

If fireworks are legal where you live and you have these little pyrotechnic stands popping up all around you in June that bloom briefly, then vanish in early July, think of this annual convention as the premiere winter equivalent of those Fourth of July fireworks stands. Think of it as a Christmas "wish list" for the latest high-tech gadgets and weapons for those making their livings from deaths and destructions.

While I didn't go inside (it cost $750 to attend, $800 for late registrants), I imagine there are many wondrous and desirable things in there (as Mrs. Dada hinted from her brief intrusion inside last year's gathering). From "stocking stuffer" rockets and shells with depleted uranium tips, to major gifts of complete weapons systems employing technologies you have no right to know about. It's enough to make giddy, attendees just thinking about light shows of flashing colors fueled by the explosives and the bodies they consume. Ecstasy indeed!

But I don't mean to portray this symposium's attendees as just another group seeking gratification through materialistic things as Christmas has become for so many of us. No, there's was also a sophisticated, almost spiritual element to AUSA's gathering as we were reminded by their desire to "Provide a forum for intellectual discussion between military, civilian, and industry leaders on holistic DTLOMS-PF (Doctrine, Training, Leader Development, Organization, Material, Soldier Support, Personnel, & Facilities) approaches to modernizing the current and future Modular Force."

Demonstrators of all ages were present. I was sure my editor, Sam--who joined us downtown for the last hour, would take the prize for the youngest among us until I learned there was someone who beat Sam out by almost two years. This year's youngest activist was less than a month old!

When I say these people are dedicated, I'm talking about many years by many people of devotion to social causes and gentler political agendas so out of vogue everywhere these days. They are the kind of people of whom books are written, movies are made.

The experiences, the stories possessed by these people are so awe inspiring, I felt honored this Thursday to stand in their midst. There's also an excellent reminder on each bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale that admonishes us all, "You are not worthy!" and standing there, among this group, I was feeling a little of that too.

Continuing his socialization by attending his first demonstration, editor Sam had a good time and offered encouragement to his fellow activists during their last hour on the lines. And the high point came with the return to El Paso, after seven months absence, of a frequent reader and occasional commenter here on Dada's Dally. I'm speaking of "Border Explorer" and her husband. They are among those to whom I'm so in awe, devoting themselves to building a better world through social activism.

It was a bazaar way to spend a pleasant Thursday afternoon.



fran said...

There is a whole lot of protecting the guilty going on. I suggest politicians replace the swearing in on a bible & just replace it with the new creed--" I don't know what I knew, or if or when I knew it." Might as well just cover their bases from the get go.
Nice group get together of folks practicing their first amendment rights.

dada said...

Fran: Yes, throw out the bible for swearing ins (and as Bush & Cheney have taught us for testifying before congress). And as you suggest, memory loss, (Alzheimers, etc. ?) are invaluable (--a requisite for serving in this administration).

"I can't swear to it 'cause, frankly, I don't remember. Can't recall. Let me check my notes and get back to you but, of course, you must realize, if after doing such, I may not be able to tell what I don't remember because it may be a matter of national security or against presidential prerogative that I share anything with you. And remember, if a matter of the latter, it's only our way of protecting YOU. Of keeping you safer!"

Border Explorer said...

Dada, you are so kind. Thank you for your comments...and back at'cha for your ongoing inspiration and information here at the Dally. It's great to be back on the Border with you and Border Peace Presence! Here's to lots more hell-raising in the coming months.

D.K. Raed said...

Prepare for Inspection Ahead = bend 'em & spread 'em (no wonder you made an immediate left turn).

Persistent Conflict = hmmm, is preemptive warfare great or greatest (that IS their biggest internal conflict, worthy of sending one into the fetal position for life).

As far as their new military gadgetry, I want a cloak of invisibility! What a perfectly wonderful bazaar afternoon. So, does the Arrogant Bastard drinker get to wear shorts ALL year-round, the Innocent Pale One asks?

dada said...

Hi border explorer! It was so great to see you and Mr. border explorer downtown Thursday. And yesterday, at the memorial service for one of our truly great activists too! (I'm thinking I HAVE to blog something about that here, soon.)

D.K. It's rare Dada drinks an A.B. these days, but there is one lonely btl. of such in my fridge whose existence I contemplate each day I open and look behind that door. (grin)

However, what's really funhy is your teasing about wearing shorts all year-round, d.k.

That's exactly the same thing border explorer's husband teased me about yesterday at the memorial service. (No, I wasn't in shorts yesterday, I will make exceptions on occasion, a funeral/mem. svc. being one of them.) Yesterday was one of those times.

Just funny you should echo the same thing here as the border explorers were saying yesterday!