#WWJD

On Christmas Eve, age 11, my mom stopped me in the stairwell and said, “you know Santa isn’t real, right?” There’s so much insight to be analyzed within that proclamation, no doubt, especially since I stopped believing in Chris Kringle somewhere closer to age 5, alas, I mention it for other reasons more specific to faith and spirituality. My answer was a quick “yea yea,” the sort of answer a kid might give to questions of sex, or girlfriends and the like, when broached by otherwise well meaning parents. The question I never got around to asking her though seemed logical, possibly rude, was: “you know Jesus, the son of God at least, isn’t real either?” In my 10 year old mind, the idea of Jesus walking on water, Noah building an Archy-Archy, or Moses coming down with the Ten Commandments, were all as equally ridiculous. So yea, it’s obvious I don’t believe in religion. That doesn’t mean I can’t imagine a God, or “higher power,” if you’d like, out there in a different dimension, or in some way we haven’t yet discovered or understand. It would be simple minded to simply write the unknown off just because I {we} are as of yet ignorant. I find it highly unlikely that a possible greater power or entity gives two shits about us though.

Anyway, I said all that to say this: In general, I find many Christians to be cut from the most hypocritical of cloths. Being Christian, or Jewish, or Catholic, practicing those faiths should reveal a people heavy on empathy and forgiveness and light on violence and greed, right? Why is it then that so many of these heavily professed believers so antithetical in actual behavior to the good works and beliefs of the Jesus in their Bible? Quick to go to war, put folks to death, hoard wealth in massive quantities, favor stiff prison sentences, anti gay, anti just about anything that smells, looks, walks or talks different than their immediate clan?

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty that walk the walk, so to speak. Yet, without question, the overwhelming majority either confuse ideology with action, or, practice their faith in complete hypocrisy. Normally I wouldn’t give the phenomenon much thought, considering it a waste of time and oxygen. The experiences I recently faced cause me, force me, to reckon with these peoples sanctimonious bullshit.

When I lost my place to fire, I stumbled upon a program through the VA offering temporary housing and some minor case management. Long story very short: The program was highly religious, to the point that I was suspicious for not being willing to play along, pretending to be open minded…to that at least. It was clear after only a few months that the facility and the staff had many secrets. There was, and is, some shady shit going on that continues, affecting men and women that in many cases have nowhere else to turn. Because of this pickle, the program ultimately has control over them, leading to sick situations where folks are too afraid to speak out. I got the fuck out of there as quickly as possible. And if you think I am exaggerating, think again. Just as an example, the Vet case manager is literally not trusted by a single client! Not one. Years ago I worked in a similar job. During my 3 years I can think of only 3 or 4 clients who would feel negatively. You cannot please everyone, no. But to have people so dirty, so corrupt, in positions of authority is just reprehensible. How many people, let alone Veteran’s, have been worse off because of the place?

My point being; these people are so proud of their faiths. Praying circles every morning, guest pastor’s, the works, and in my entire life I’ve never known a more corrupt, to the bone corrupt, organization or program. Period. Christianity is but a convenient shield to hide the truth behind. And many know it, but wont say it. Their image is pure, an obvious sign of trouble for anyone with experienced in such matters.

Okay, I feel a little better getting that off my chest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Vet Love

Rainy days like today make me sad. Sunny days, that direct heat blasting through the cars window, irritates me more often than not. So basically what I’m saying is: I’m a miserable motha-fucka. It’s this never ending raw nerve that walls me off from family and friends, hoping to solve a spiritual problem with geography, I feel myself disintegrating. The best I can do is cram my eyes and ears full of meaningless candy and picture, so as not to disrupt this perfect imbalancing act. In simple metaphor it’s this: many years ago I started packing shit into a garbage bag that I carry everywhere I go. You might ask; what’s wrong and what’s that smell? Oh, that’s just my bag of shit I refuse -refuse, is it?- I refuse to let go of or put down. The bag just keeps getting heavier and smellier and stickier and closer. It’s my bag of shit though.

What’s that law of physics? An unstoppable force meets an unmovable object: what happens? A time will come soon where I either leave the bag behind somehow or finally drown in the stench and foulness of it all. Reality is both true and false at once. A paradox I suppose? Will I look back one day at this stretch of pain and wonder how I could have let life squeeze me so hard when escape was so evident? Or will I reach an apex, a destination, and ask myself why I held on so tight for so long?

Some wounds cut just a little too deep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRAIN PAIN & THE HIDDEN WOUNDS

It seems many of us were right all along: blast waves from exploding ordinance, even void of shrapnel, will have a similar effect on ones brain as a so-called typical concussion. No way, the Pentagon has screamed for the last 7 decades, operating under their usual strategies, -in other industries, think tobacco, NFL, oil, lead, etcetra game plans meant to blur the known truth- burying the scientific proof, sweeping the mess under a cheap rug for as long as they can to avoid responsible action. -think shell-shock, agent orange, Gulf War syndrome-

The hardest thing to hear, to swallow, is a child, or sister, or wife, telling you, “I don’t even know who you are anymore.” It’s the hidden injury that exposes ones “after combat” self, a terrible new you that’s impossible to explain and even harder to treat. I mean, how do you mend a fence, or plug a tire if you cannot locate a hole? Even more diabolical is the paradox you face every single day; it’s your brain that directs one for help, yet, suffering from multiple TBI’s, that very piece of you critical to act, tricks you into looking somewhere else. Combine this earned helplessness with a rank and file denial of your serious and hidden condition, it begins to become clear, reasons for Veteran’s maladaptive behavior, even suicide.

My last post drilled down on the massive inequality and unchecked corporate power and greed revving the country, the world even, far into the red line. But it was the most cynical, bloated bureaucracy of all: the Department of Defense. Not long after WWII the Army morphed into a career establishment, a standing army, with the biggest single budget in history, for any country, any organization. It’s a sick, sick, sick culture within the ranks of career military men and women. It’s no longer about doing the right thing, but rather, doing nothing that might cause friction. This culture necessitates gross incompetence. They cover for each other, providing a dirty system that is void of accountability. From the rape culture, to outrageously bloated budgets, to the revolving door and the denial of care for grunts like me, the Pentagon is incapable of doing the right thing.

So now they are forced to admit what soldier’s have understood for quite some time. Blast waves can inflict a heavy toll on the brain. The most important question to me is: what are they going to do with this public knowledge? When will the injuries we sustain on the battlefield, those beyond the outer skeleton, the unseen, be important enough to get an equal level of care, let alone respect?

Pentagon…fuck you very much!

 

 

 

 

 

ASSAULT RIFLES FROM SANTA

On a snowy Christmas morning, in what feels like a lifetime ago, Santa had left my present leaning up against our families fake, tinsel and star crowned tree: my first rifle; I was 10 years old. I consider myself an open minded, liberal leaning American. In today’s political climate however, my belief that allows me to accept this gift as rational, within the context of our lives in the early 1980’s, paints me a cultural lunatic. I can understand the concern of parents who’ve lived outside of our then rural life, nevertheless, black and white idealism, in my opinion, precludes one being an authentic idealist.

I am not one of these 2nd Amendment absolutists. In fact, I am opposed to the sale of weapons of war throughout society. The only practical use for a assault weapon combined with armor piercing ammunition and high volume magazines is that of warfare between similarly armed men on the battlefield. I even seriously question the use of these weapons by most law enforcement agencies in but the most serious of conditions.

That photo captured in Ferguson Missouri, showing an unarmed protester directly down the barrel of a turret mounted machine gun left a powerful impression on me as a combat veteran. It was symbolic and profound. The destruction of our 1st Amendment through an overly broad interpretation of our 2nd. Those who are unwilling or ignorant of the irony should take stock in the lessons of history where free speech and the right to protest the government have been squelched.

My first gun was a Ruger model 77, .22 long rifle. My family owned several guns, from shotguns to pistols. However, we did not own any assault weapons. We lived the majority of our life in an extremely remote region of Alaska where hunting and fishing were beyond sport and closer to subsistence. At the age of 8 I was wearing a .44 magnum while out of the home, in the woods, hiking, fishing or camping, as protection from aggressive bears. I was responsible and well schooled in firearm safety. I still vividly recall my grandfather shooting an apple with my little .22 perched upon a signpost. The apple basically exploded, followed by his words, “that could be someones head. Even this little .22 needs to be always respected.” Not every 10 year old will absorb such wisdom, I know. I suspect the same amount of adults suffer from this same flaw? If my parents suspected or had reason to believe this of me, I would have never been allowed the responsibility.

I said all that to say this: the more ubiquitous these weapons become, the more paranoid our society seems to become? That America will be invaded by some ragtag army of terrorists, or that our government will swing tyrannical, both grow from that same seed of paranoia. We have a government to protect us from that so-called army. And if the government goes all martial law, assault weapons owners will find themselves in one of two unfortunate camps: 1. a part of that twisted tyrannical government without realizing it, or 2. so fucking scared and impotent up against a machine so much heavily armed and sophisticated, they’ll be unable to fight back, let alone defend themselves.

Machine guns can be quite fun to shoot, as long as the target cannot return fire. So my compromise is this: armories and target ranges could provide security and safety over these weapons when not in use. Americans could still go hog wild at the range, -fuck, let ’em have some RP-G’s, Mortars and LAW’s to fire off at these facilities even- but that’s where these arms will stay, locked up until our military is being overrun at the Mexican border, or President Bush IV declares martial law. You want a few 12 gauges, a 30.06, some handguns, no problem. You want a weapon of war? Sign up and head downrange.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day

Several times over the past couple days I’ve heard the phrase, “Happy Memorial Day!” Happy? Has Memorial Day blended into our consumer culture writ large, its original meaning lost to the waste bin of past patriotic culture? Happy? What the fuck?! Am I just being a scrooge, or has the holiday we’ve set aside to honor and memorialize slipped into the vortex of yard saleing and three day, back to school/early Christmas sales and Walmart parking lot, used car extravaganzas? Oh yeah; and the President laying a wreath somewhere in Arlington.

My first reaction to the words, “happy Memorial Day,” directed in my direction by some Best Buy store greeter was to stop and consider the salutation. It wasn’t this kids fault manning the door so I continued on my way. Then I heard some jack-off political pundit utter the words from the set of the PBS Newshour. Ironically, it was one of the same New York Times editorialist who had been a chief cheerleader for the Bush Administrations disastrous decision to invade Iraq in 2003. A fact I learned while studying the history post-9/11 due to my being in the Army at the time and, you could say, being out of the mainstream media loop. Anyway, there he was, telling me “happy Memorial Day,” without any apparent hesitation or nuance. How’s about “fuck you, try doing your job better day?”

You’d think that at least on occasions such as Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day at least, the nation would, if for only a brief moment, set down the 4 by 6 flags mounted on chop sticks and take stock in our perpetual state of war? Maybe we could turn the ooh-fuckin-rah empty patriotism down a notch or two in order to lessen the static and come to grips with all we’ve lost, and all we will continue to lose, should we plunge ahead blindly for another 15 years? Maybe, possibly, we could collectively sew the “lip service” shut and try to say what’s really on our minds, not what’s on the simple mind of a parrot; “Polly wants a cracker…Polly wants….

There are folks out there who will know what it means to lose something so precious and dear, perhaps we should utilize the holiday in a way that recognizes their pain? I’m all for having a good time, enjoying some sun and sand, knocking back some beers around a campfire, nevertheless, I’m even more for questioning our soldiers mission across the globe, remembering those who fought for us long ago, and being a role model for our youth, teaching them about struggle and strife and the importance of participation in our democracy. It’s disturbing how many youths ages 7 to 21 are incapable of describing the meaning of Memorial Day. For that matter, even fewer could describe Labor Day. A whopping 74% couldn’t articulate the core meaning of the holiday. Only 9% could accurately explain the impetuous of Labor Day. Why is this and what does it portend?

 

Maybe none of this even matters? Maybe my own clouded outlook is warping my opinion? Maybe my troubles, escalating in waves since leaving Afghanistan, Iraq and the Army behind, pollutes the way I process information, stranding me in a shallow pool of total bullshit? Maybe I should just get over it? Maybe I should’ve just been killed? Maybe I should still? Maybe?

 

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?