The Nothing Between

Are there wounds that cut just a little too deep, therefore irreparable? Where can I find the line separating the acute from the chronic, and how did trauma such as this become the ultimate American cliche? On one side you confront the fear with isolation, on the other it’s anger masquerading as courage. On your own you realize that line was but an illusion, like an ocean’s coast meeting the high tide. Alive. Dead. Light. Black. What’s the point of all this pain if the only one that heals is me? There’s no difference between fear of death and fear of life. At least that’s what I tell myself at the waking hour, confusing my brain just enough to proceed towards the light with my heart.

I never blame anyone else out loud. Those feelings I keep sewn deep within. Whenever they begin to roil I shake, shed a tear and hold back the rest. If I find myself touching that place in conversation, I cram it back in, all of it, heavy feet and a cheery song. The paradox is sealed, the matter no longer matters, and off I go with these broken clocks and miniature parts of a life I never wanted, yet, somehow bought. Nobody gets me, right? They don’t get me, not because I’m unique, rather, because somewhere back there, I broke apart, separated, now here incomplete. Picture a completed jigsaw puzzle with additional pieces left in the box. It’s all there, it looks complete.

Maybe the future holds a surprise I still cannot see? Maybe someday it’ll all be okay? I don’t pray, but we can hope, right? There’s something left to offer if I find another chance. At least that’s all I can tell myself in between these days of numbness, of anguish, recalling misery and dancing in the dusk, along that space between the elements, in a dream more like a movie I’m watching in my sleep.

It was so long ago. The smell of it all drifts closer.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Not Kid Yourself

The self-righteous indignation spewing from the lips of Democratic Party loyalists over the Donald’s comments regarding the Khan family makes me laugh. Of course Trump is a disgrace to the country, to Vets and their families, but let’s not confuse political showmanship with actual empathy. You do not need to travel far back in time -2005-06 in fact- to dredge up a similarly offensive position espoused by the so-called liberals. I’ll get to that public shaming in a second. First let’s consider the chanting battles at this years convention in Philadelphia. While some in the crowd chanted “no more war” during some speakers time on stage, -a pretty standard liberal position going back 100 years at least- an even larger, louder group of democrats drowned the chant out with “USA, USA, USA!” Not exactly the sort of chant that brings the idea of peace to the world, a position most effective in preventing even more combat veteran’s joining the community henceforth.

Have we already forgotten the Cindy Sheehan story? For the brave, yet simple act of protest in the wake of her son losing his life serving in Iraq, she was roundly flogged by heavy hitters in both parties. So this idea that George Bush treated her with respect, while letting the hounds loose behind the scenes, is utter and complete bullshit. For her troubles, standing vigil outside of the Bush compound in Texas, she was dismissed in politics, as well as in the media, as a nut-job, narcissistic wife and follower of Bin Laden. Sure, some Democrat’s used her for political purposes, -i.e., to get elected- yet she was never treated with empathy. Sounds familiar?

Just a thought on a hot Sunday night.

 

 

 

 

GOLD STAR’S & PURPLE HEART

Wow! War, Veteran’s, and sacrifice finally reached the national political zeitgeist…for basically, all the wrong reasons. I take that back. What I mean to say is that it’s great that the upper political class and media gave the subject airtime, however, the scope of the debate became narrow and somewhat pointless.

How about we discuss the fact that prior to the Khan’s extraordinarily brave and selfless speech, that barely 7% of the U.S. population over the age of 16, could accurately describe the meaning of a “Gold Star Family?” Or might we have more than a ‘gotcha’ type of public debate as to the merits, cost, and/or crime that was the 2003 Iraq War? I actually came across a few who said in one way or another that, if a certain he or she, or several he’s and she’s opposed the war, the Khan’s son might be alive and well today? This assertion was scoffed at with contempt of course. They’d say, “the intelligence was wrong,” or “the country was in shock because, you know, 9/11. Did I say 9/11 yet?” Or why not use the moment to discuss the problems with the VA, Vet suicides, ongoing, ever expanding war without end, on and on and on?

Not to put to fine a point on it, but even if Saddam Hussein still had some chemical weapons laying around; did that present an imminent threat to the United States, a country Iraq had never attacked beyond the outskirts of its own border? This intelligence failure reasoning is the most brilliant, yet stinky red herring in American foreign policy history. The thing that bothers me the most, even today, is that the only people to suffer, to pay the price for an illegal war and occupation of a sovereign state, is the civilian population of Iraq and the low level soldiers who followed orders, implicitly trusting a government and society that they/we wouldn’t be asked to sacrifice so much on a deliberate set of lies.

We will continue making the same errors, from ideological wars to illegal torture, not because we are inherently evil as a society, but because those who prosecute and approve these policies are not held to account, implicitly causing much of the country to agree with the process, no matter the eventual complete and utter failure. So yeah, I find men like Donald Trump wretched and small. A person so vacant of honor that he’d go around claiming he was against the Iraq War when in fact he’s on record supporting it. To campaign on a Navy warship, spewing bluster and grit, yet avoiding the Vietnam War four times due to school, then, avoiding service by having some shady doctor write a letter claiming the 22 year old had bone spurs, thereby precluding him from service. As POTUS, I have no doubt he’d have no qualms sending others into battle out of vanity. Hillary Clinton is little better, and is one of those who never paid the price for her poor judgement that ultimately cost the lives of many thousand soldiers and more than a million civilians. So fuck her too!

But these are not subject to discussion in the mainstream. It’s the gatekeeper’s of the forum who were also complicit in our wars of aggression. Even the chicken-hawk’s and carpetbagger’s throughout the media aren’t immune to that level of hypocrisy. And so we march on in lock step chanting hey-hey, ho-ho, exceptionalism is the way to go. Some day far down the road, history will be written by someone other than ourselves, only then will our hyperbolic pride be revealed in earnest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clinton & Legalese Double Speak

There’s little more to say about The Donald. It’s clear: As a confidence man, or con man if you’d rather; the man is top shelf. As a world leader with the breadth and might of our mammoth military and massive economy; the man would be an apothalyptic -a word I just made up for the occasion- disaster. So what about Hillary Clinton? Maybe no one will ever read my opinions on the matter, nevertheless, I tend to best find my feelings upon jotting them down. And so…

I’ll start with a quote from today, a quote so indicative of her political doublespeak so many find repulsive; or at least I do. When asked AGAIN about the private server bullshit she spews this legalese:

The FBI director said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people”

What the focker does this even mean? And to imagine her in some room with her advisors and lawyers coming up with this after all that’s taken place, I just cannot get my head wrapped around the logic involved? Isn’t there anyone with clout on her staff that can straighten this out? Just tell the voters the obvious: After 30 years in the public eye, my poor decision to hide my personal business was a reactionary move that I’ll do my best to not repeat. If classified material was compromised in any way, it was wrong. I’ve learned from this and hope it will make me a better, more informed leader. The end!

But hell no! It’s this dribble dribble that falls out of her mouth among the constant pauses of, um, uh, um, uh, uh, that only solidifies voters assessment of her honesty, or dishonesty, as it were. You have to wonder how she interprets the public’s perception of her in general? Is she unable to distinguish independent voters from the 24/7 media and how substantively they are different? Or maybe I am way off base here and her unsuitability and dishonesty stems from other cues? Sure, conservative voters latched to the GOP come hell or high water will likely never find her agreeable, no matter her polish. The bloc I speak of is made up of Sander’s ardent supporters, centrist older white voters and those who typically do not vote. These are the subsets that in many ways elected Obama in 2012, Clinton in 1992 and Carter in 1976, and are the voters Hillary would need to win up against most establishment Republicans. Against Trump however, she will likely skate by either way. But look out for 2020….unless the GOP is foolish enough to go with Ted Cruz, another fringe lunatic.

I’ve come to really like the WNYC podcast, On The Media. Of course the show this week started with a Trump themed piece: Has he finally gone too far, this time, this time, this time, the shameful ticky-tac with the Khan family the latest. The host interviewed a reporter from The Daily Caller, a conservative site that’s posted articles recently calling into question the patriotism of the Khan family. Listen to it if you get the chance and you care about Veteran’s issues. The lengths to which some in the right-wing media will go to defend Trump is quite despicable, however, it reveals the politicization of Vets and the Military by some in both wings of the media. The lip-service is usually just that. Vets are little more than a ladder to power and ideological purity, and little else. It sickens me. Thanks to Bob Garfield at On The Media for the great unveiling! Listen here.

Too many days for me away from the cabin this week. Dealing with the VA where I am at is a chore. I suppose it is anywhere? It’s good to talk with Vets waiting at the offices. It’s the one place I cannot hide the fact that I am one of them, yet it’s the one place that I wouldn’t want to. It occurs to me that our soldiers, especially the ones who served post-9/11, have been to psychologically damaged due to the abuse of our patriotism among other aspects of America 2016, many of my fellow Vets are willing to support Trump in the face of his careless psychopathy. Another words: the establishment -lead by the likes of Clinton, W. Bush and Obama- has caused such harm that anyone challenging their control of government, is thereby necessary? I could argue the public writ large, especially the middle class who’ve been so disrespected, lied to, sent to war, and ever falling behind the elite, see Mr. Trump as a kind of fire breathing monster, capable of crushing the DC oligarchy?

So yeah, that might have been the closest I’ve come to the ramblings of a madman? I do have other interests beyond politics, as unlikely as it may seem?

What about the Rio Olympics? Has anyone else noticed -the Sochi winter games were similar- the press coverage leading up to the actual events? How many stories have we heard relating to athletes, their story, their sport, personal pieces meant to give us individuals to root for? Yes, there was the millionaire golfer who publicly refused to attend due to Zika, but otherwise? I read a nice piece on a female boxing phenom from Flint Michigan. What we have been fed is Zika, open sewers, political corruption, zika and zika. I tend to agree that the IOC, like FIFA, has lost sight of the games as competition, to the games as revenue. And of course, terrorism. We don’t hear that it is winter in Rio, a time of relatively few Mosquitoes. I hope the games go off peacefully? But why not? Brazil seems like a strange place for ISIS or Al Qaeda to target?

Gotta run.

 

 

 

 

 

Trump, Clinton, Libya & Addiction

This opinion may no longer be unique? Nevertheless, after reading the Washington Post, Donald Trump interview transcript today, –I will try later to link here if I can figure out how– it occurs to me that the man is, in fact, seriously psychologically damaged. I’ll refrain from elaborating in detail. The transcript speaks for itself. I have little doubt he will crumble prior to November. The pressures are tremendous and even the most disciplined politicians find the process so taxing they avoid beginning the race altogether. What seems most fascinating to me is how he will manage the destruction, or how the GOP as a party will play the circus?

As a former drug counselor and recovering addict, my first reaction to his instability is to assume he is on drugs, particularly some type of amphetamine / sedative combination. I write this off almost unconsciously, yet maybe we/I shouldn’t? The abuse or dependence on substances typically evolves from a co-occurring disorder related to a mental health condition. Self medicating is the loose terminology. I might be off base, perhaps, or as Trump might say: ‘many people have written this, I’m not saying but, you know?” His ever increasing seemingly uncontrollable behavior and his increasing need to be affirmed by polls and ratings, might suggest an addict slowly losing control? His behavior is consistent in process, but increasing in lack of control.

Wednesday August 3rd, 2016

After an appointment with the VA this afternoon, I have to consider the fact that many folks in this country support The Donald, come hell or high water. Just today I had brief conversations with strangers who all supported Trump. My question in all cases was, why and how? Little was learned despite my openness. I just cannot imagine a future with this man anywhere near the Oval Office. Call it hypothetical cognitive dissonance if you’d like?

Another tidbit I came across was an interview Hillary Clinton did in the immediate aftermath of Qaddafi’s execution by NATO supported rebels in Libya. It was cringe worthy and revealing unlike most of the sanitized views of Clinton. Her maniacal laugh and obvious joy with the killing of a head of state, had it been a leader of another country, would’ve been rightly condemned. She obviously learned NOTHING from the lessons of Iraq. Anyone with a brain and accurate information could have easily predicted the future of Libya, yet she seemed blind? Either she truly is ignorant, or more likely, a Libya lawless with nonstop civil war is the policy of our government? Either way, how can we support her for POTUS? A question I will continue asking myself as the campaigns come to a close.

It makes me glad that some actually read some of my rambling thoughts. Thank you, and I appreciate any feedback, positive or negative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WAR: ON TERROR & FREEDOM?

I’ve never told anyone the particulars of this story outside of my grandfather, a WWII & Korean War Veteran, who passed away in 2013 at the age 91. In the spring of 2002 upon completion of my initial training with the US Army I was intigrated into a light infantry battalion and almost immediately deployed to Afghanistan to join my new unit. It all happened so fast, -I’d enlisted in September 2001- I didn’t have a chance to really feel anything up to that point beyond just not trying to fuck up. It was frightening, no question, but it was a fear of failure and not the fear of combat. That would come soon enough. It may have never really left me, in fact?

Our Platoon was at that time designated a quick reaction force, or QRT. The first mission beyond the wire for me turned out to have historical meaning, though this was far from our minds at the time. The mission was in support of a special forces unit who had come across a hostile compound of enemy al Qaeda forces. After a foreign interpreter was killed approaching the walled compound, my unit was transported by helicopter -Chinook- to the vicinity. Combat air support was also dispatched from Jalalabad, including an Apache helo and an A-10 fixed wing jet.

Arriving in between the initial Apache engagement and the A-10 strafing runs I witnessed, it crossed my mind: fuck, fuck, fuck! The SF team breached the compound first, followed by my fire team about 60 seconds later. There was contact including small arms fire and at least 2 minor explosions the likes of grenades. It was surprising considering the damage inflicted by the aircraft, the last of which was a 500 pound bomb let loose from a bone -B1 bomber- How could anyone survive such devastation, let alone be able to fight our assault?

In the confusion an American SF soldier had been seriously wounded in the first 20-30 seconds, the result of shrapnel from a grenade. He later died, sadly. Of the 2 enemy that had survived the air assault, one had been killed upon entry, the other, barely alive, turned out to be a 15 year old Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr. I can’t be too specific, but just imagine the situation? A KIA American, initially thought to have been killed by this kid? Luckily, -if luck has anything to do with this- there were a few ranking soldiers on scene who reminded some of the others of our duty to the laws of war. Omar was cared for and sent off for medical treatment in Khost.

Whenever I come across the subject of Guantanamo Bay and our prison on that island, I cannot help but think of Mr. Khadr in particular. I feel disgusted. If I hear or see someone extolling the benefits of GITMO, or even feigning indifference to the policies the continue, a sickening, queasy feeling of anger often washes over me. How could anyone who espouses the freedoms of America, our so-called exceptionalism of their fantasies, also remain committed to such injurious, demeaning, cruel policies?

I have zero doubt our future civilization will look back upon our current selves with a justifiable contempt. There’s little doubt that this whole messy, deliberate and systematic flaunting of international law will be recorded with regret, but little sympathy. If our people could have quickly modified our positions, held those in power accountable for their blatant criminality, maybe history would have forgiven? What we have done is indemnify or muddle our actions, a sure way to do it all over again the next time we get angry.

That’s all for now

 

 

 

 

 

 

VOTE or REVOLT

How much systemic corruption and muddled ineffectiveness will it take to blow up our top down,  bureaucratic, corporate system that requires looking good over doing good, profit over progress? Take a look around and you’ll see this virus attacking from all directions. From government to non-profit to NGO’s to insurance to manufacturing and global finance, the power centered DC model is woven throughout, a molecular level sickness that can only be rooted out by means of total destruction. It’s really that bad I’m afraid? The question now is: what will the proverbial “straw” be that ignites this kindling?

I’m not one of these doomsday prepper’s or conspiracy nuts. I don’t subscribe to the “lizard people” theories, the Bilderberg Group nonsense or any number of false flag operations Obama has supposedly carried out in order to secure a 3rd term, or whatever else the elite supposedly want? Truth is, I’ve known some of these people that travel in these circles and they’re just not that clever. Sure, the government lies all the time. From the Gulf of Ton-kin bullshit to W MD’s in Iraq, groups within the halls of power will inflate certain information through sophisticated PR schemes in order to get what they want. The difference being, it never takes too long for the truth to come out. The government is horrible at keeping secrets. 20th Century history has proven this true more times than I care to describe, from the Pentagon Papers, to MK-ULTRA, to Bush’s secret wiretapping order post-9/11, nothing remains buried for long. Do anyone truly believe we could capture and hold some “aliens” at Area 51 for more than 10 minutes without proof leaking out? In fact, the only example of a secret being pretty well under wraps for long was the Manhattan Project. But is it really a secret if 50,000 people are working on it and both the Russians and the Germans had up to date specifics on progress?

I say all that to say this: People will eventually demand change in regards to corporate greed and power. Banks avoiding punishment for mobster style behavior, the Red Cross accepting Billions in donations with only a small percentage making it out of the administrative bureaucracy, the Pentagon spending 2.5 trillion on a new fighter system that is plagued with flaws, Congress seized up with raising money 80% of the time, unable to pass even the most basic and necessary legislation, 20 to 30 year long wars in the Middle East that are unwinnable, public school systems colluding with the EPA to manipulate testing for PC-B’s causing severe health problems in teachers and students, -you know things are getting blatantly foul when it’s occurring not just in poor urban schools, but in affluent districts like Malibu California- insurance companies -life, health, property- actively participating in schemes to defraud customers as regular business models, corporations that use a post office box in Ireland or the Bahamas claiming it their headquarters, depriving the US Treasury hundreds of billions in tax revenue, investment bankers and hedge fund brokers paying almost zero tax on income through a loophole that’s basically legalized fraud, in fact, a financial system that provides less than nothing to the macro economy outside of Washington and Manhattan immune to law enforcement, the IRS, and the SEC.

There is a breaking point. There is a moment that the pitchforks come out. This year, next, in ten, who knows. but people will reach a red line and break. Cable TV and $7 Lattes will not be enough to keep them happy any longer. There will be a moment when Reality TV, once a portal to look down upon the idiots and ignorant, will reveal something of truth. I say all this knowing that few people will ever read this, or care. It’s more like thinking out loud. Looking around at the world we occupy and combining all the nefarious practices so easy see, it occurs to me that it’s all likely a multi-story house made of cards? Or maybe more apropos, our society encapsulated within a stack of Jenga? The most important structural framing within the tower is represented by the middle class empowered throughout the late 20th Century; the Baby Boomers if you’d like? They enjoyed a standard of living and a sense of economic security previously unknown in modern history. The idea of a livable wage, healthcare and a pension was all but taken for granted among those who lived within their means. This is no longer the case. That former generation cannot be compared to that of their children and grandchildren. No longer is retirement feasible for the majority. Or a single income. Or healthcare generous enough to avoid financial ruin in the face of cancer or even a normal hospitalization. Why is this?

The answer is as simple as it is maddeningly unattainable through modern levers of societal power structures. Politicians no longer look out for their voters en mass, rather, they look out for their donors, i.e., their golden geese allowing them to fund their campaigns and provide golden parachutes should they fall. The maddening quality within this truth is the pure impotence of ordinary, voting Americans. The media, the local governments, and the top-down nature of governmental agencies stack the deck against them, -us- effectively promoting a culture of acrimonious hate. Its effect being simple but obvious: most voters ultimately cast ballots for candidates who are anathema to their constituents well being.

How so?  For example, white working class voters overwhelmingly choose GOP candidates despite easy to see proof that they end up governing beset of those voters best interest. Cutting services while lowering the tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations is the first example that comes to mind, however, several other, less obvious positions are present. To say Democrats are much better is also quite impervious to empirical evidence. From devastating trade deals, -NAFTA- to stripping long held Wall Street regulations bare, -many put in place almost a 100 years ago following the crash of 1929, causing the Great Depression not only in the US, but worldwide- to welfare reform and the perpetuation of the Drug War, -both policies targeted at the poorest among us- these Neo-Liberal types codify republican narratives like Paul Ryan’s, “we don’t want the safety net becoming a hammock.” Evidence and truth are of no consequential value in DC. If they were, the Democrats would have legislated law in 2009, while in absolute power, like single payer health care, increasing Social Security benefits and raising a stagnant minimum wage. All of which are policies shown to not only lift the bottom 80% of the citizenry’s standard of living, in addition to a financially sound central government. Instead, this mandate from the people was squandered, leading to, I believe, the historic losses in 2010. -it wasn’t that the voters thought Obama went too far, but not far enough- I could be wrong, but in my case, the gulf between what I imagined Obama to be and his actual governance, was quite wide. I wasn’t the only voter who felt this way, that we felt duped by the process once again, sucked the wind out of our idealism and trust in public figures. Combine this sense of apathy with an equal dose of hate simmering on the right and the drastic swing in 2010 looks, in hindsight, inevitable?

Like 2008, Bernie Sanders captured a sense of optimism, riding this wave out of obscurity, and into mainstream prominence. A new/old face promising change with a historical record of integrity to assuage skeptical voters, Senator Sanders gave it a run, yet ultimately fell short of the nomination. Now, do I believe a Sanders president could’ve lived up to his idealistic pandering? I cannot say. What is clear is the thick cloud of cynicism the country has for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. A win for either will only amplify the derision countrywide. Neither will win over the other side, that’s almost as sure a bet as one can place. Their disapproval numbers are historic, to put it mildly. And as such, our modern machine will continue on down the line, fanning the embers.

Ordinary folks will eventually be pushed too far. The open questions only history will be able to answer are: Will we choose a Constitutional Convention or Civil War, rebuilding or burning it all down, an FDR or a Mussolini?

 

 

 

 

 

IS THIS YOU TOO?

Depression has many negative side effects; the worst of them, for me at least, is procrastination. My brain becomes something like a magician or illusionist, bending reality and blurring coherrant thought. Long before experiencing PTSD, I was a world class procrastinator, now, after, the condition has become life altering–and not in a good way. Putting off till tomorrow what absolutely should be done today, has resulted in a great deal of personal damage, some of which can never be undone. With procrastination come paranoia. A mental condition that twists reality into a distortion that seems to always present the world in the worst possible light. It may only be possible for someone suffering from this disease to truly understand? Am I incurable? Is the only option suicide? Do I even want to live this life? It’s such a privileged, first-world question. I realize many people suffer far worse than I, nevertheless, that fact doesn’t lend me the strength to fight any harder.

According to Hollywood these days, soldiers who have endured combat, downrange and often under attack, feel compelled to return to war once their tour is up? From the few I know including myself, this is simply not the case. It’s especially not true for soldiers coming off punishing 12 to 18 month deployments. In my opinion, for most, but not all, these commando types selling that story are most likely men and women who were not on the front lines, therefore, only experiencing war in a tangential sort-of way. Like I said though, there are some who might want to return, but it’s a minority. Why the fuck would you want to volunteer for that shit, especially in a war without a credibly defined mission or support from the country?