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







Mark Cuban, REALLY?

The Clinton campaign seems over the moon, sending out a press release; “great to have Mr. Cuban’s endorsement.” This kind of shit, to my mind at least, is exactly the sort of retrograde celebrity bullshit that turns off undecided voters. His endorsement is critical and worth advertising why? Because he’s rich, so he must be some sort of populist oracle who knows best? Here’s a little advice for the Democrats, -or “Democrat Party,” as the GOP refers to it [them] with deliberate precision- Why not try: Sister of Afghanistan War Vet endorses Hillary, or, Father of New Hampshire Teacher of the Year endorses Clinton? Instead, the Saturday night political news cycle consists of 3 fresh Trump “this will do him in for sure” stories and, “immature Texas billionaire -who 98 out of a 100 people couldn’t say exactly how he made all that money- proves his billion-brain true by endorsing the generic candidate over the madman.”

Even though I have access to current news only once a week, maybe twice, I believe even less saturation might be necessary to ease my already fucked up mind? I almost never bring up my service in the Army beyond the confines of this blog and my sporadic work towards completing a book on the subject. Contact with men I served with over 10 years ago has also become rare for reasons I understand but cannot seem to explain. For some reason this election cycle tends to expose that pain I work so hard to suppress, prodding me to hate the political process and those reporting on it. It feels like in my mind, 15 years of continual war should be reflected more seriously in the coverage and by the candidates. Why does the country seem to dis the topic altogether, from Congressional irresponsibility, failed tactics, Veteran’s issues, extrajudicial use of the Predator Drone -U AV-, Presidential executive power, the ongoing travesty at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and other ancillary issues?

The two subjects most often breached, from my perspective at least, are bureaucratic red tape within the VA, and should we send more troops to the Middle East… or just ramp up the bombing and UAV campaigns? Most disturbingly, Obama seems to have codified many of these practices in the minds of most liberals. It is easy to predict their reaction once -if- Donald Trump continues to employ the exact same practices: outrage! Too bad, just think of the ways The Donald could punish Muslims for crimes, guilty or not, in even more of the poorest countries throughout the Muslim world? Or what are we going to say once countries the likes of China, Russia and Iran deploy these RC weapons against their stated enemies beyond their borders? This is not an if, but a when? Instead the modern machine twists and turns, fact checking a serial liar, analyzing polls upon polls, pitting one side against the other and arguing about bathroom etiquette or “how the VP pick helps” with some other wing of the party. 

The absurdity that is the dissemination of the candidates stated positions on issues like the TPP, tax rates or reproductive rights is a joke. Since when has virtually any national level politician actually held true to their word on the stump? Beyond the fact that most voters couldn’t even describe the TPP and its possible ramifications, Trump and Clinton’s stated positions opposing the trade deal is laughable. A policy decision like this, which directly affects the only constituency that REALLY matters,-the rich and powerful multinational’s and financial institutions-, to believe any mainstream candidate will oppose it once in office is a real hoot. If there’s one policy above all others, deregulation and trade deals maximizing corporate profits, the TPP is it. It’s going to happen. Period.

I learned by way of a very liberal news program that only 18 of the GOP delegates were African-American. Turns out it’s true. Shouldn’t that be mentioned by the mainstream news? Yet like much of the coverage I went back and watched, most of the media went along with the loonytoon Kabuki theater as if things were heavy, but not completely insane, as it appeared to me. The black speakers there, quite a few considering the demographic, were especially difficult to endure. The Milwaukee police chief actually said, “it’s about time someone with a good tan said, ‘all lives matter!” Wow, “a good tan?” CNN had the recently fired campaign manager for Trump working as color commentary! It is so pernicious, this lack of journalistic integrity. It wouldn’t surprise me if this ex-Trump staffer was sent out as a mole to actually work towards their advantage? Either way, what kind of reporter is limited of speech by a nondisclosure clause of the very subject of discussion? It all combines and mixes to become a national disgrace. A full on shit show on the global stage.

I have been lucky enough to travel the world, much of which was prior to military service, so I am aware to the degree foreigners keep abreast of American news and culture. The United States is involved by way of military forces garrisoned there, corporate interests, common currency and markets, as well as pop culture throughout much of the world. So many people watch us with a wariness, a skepticism, with some respect, depending on their particular affinity. Just the fact Donald Trump is 1 of 2 likely to become the next POTUS has possible ramifications impossible to quantify. By proxy, the world realizes now, that many American’s share many of his views; bigotry, hostility, masochism, misogyny, these are more than fringe beliefs and the man may soon wield immense military, clandestine, and economic powers that could -will- affect them in disastrous ways? Quite literally, just the possibility of his election puts American citizens and military in undo, unpredictable danger. If I were an Iranian, or an Qatari Muslim, or Syrian refugee, the man would exacerbate any fears I might already endure. This is Ronald Reagan on steroids. 

Could it all be one massive PR stunt that was never intended to accomplish more than Trump publicity? It’s possible. Maybe Trump, a dog with no more tricks, says to himself “I’ll be President Trump for the year. Think about the attention I’ll mainline into the jugular? Then, when I eventually lose, I can invent more conspiracies, even more attention? Win win!” Two things stand out in this scenario: 1) The joke is on us. The country is truly a decaying celebrity worshiping ignorance as cool superpower. 2) We end up with only one choice; the true Republican: Hillary Clinton!

The rational election should have been Bernie Sander’s (D) the liberal vs Hillary Clinton (R) the progressive conservative in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt or Dwight Eisenhower. -No, I am not saying Clinton is of that level of politician- The problem with this binary choice is that the underbelly of white America stays largely hidden. If Trump has done any good, it’s this exposure of the irritated white Christians who actually believe we are the ones being discriminated against today?! That pain is real, it’s just that the perpetrator is misidentified. The true villain of the middle class is the ever greedy wealthy who promote ever lower taxes, less government service -for the poor and needy, not the banks and business class who’ve, you know, earned that shit!- and fewer regulations. They cleverly packaged these principals within organizations like the Tea Party and ALEC. The most genius move was to get the middle and lower class to vote against their own interest in order to punish the “takers” and “criminals.” Maybe this is coming undone for the elite? Or maybe they’ve fooled everyone once again by switching to the Democrats, Hillary Clinton their new vessel of confusion.  

Just some thoughts.





























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!







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?






Feel the Donald

I’m aware of the fact that my mind hasn’t been quite right, and getting progressively worse, over the course of the last 10 years. All things being equal though, isn’t this presidential election cycle remarkably insane? It can’t just be me, right? Usually politics offers only maddening pandering and empty promises that I tend to cynically see right through. 2016 though, I mean fuck, this country really is on some runaway train. Let me run through some of the more bizarre theatrics.

First of all, Hillary Clinton. Hearing her speak enters my brain on the frequency shared by fingernails on the chalkboard. Her canned responses, punctuated by the repeated “ummm’s,” and “ugh’s” come across as something even worse than phony. Now, I am not one to punish a politician for their so-called “evolving” as the country goes. My distinction with Hillary, fully acknowledged and accepted by the media punditry, is her “shifting to the left,” in response to Bernie voters. There is something so disingenuous with these tactics the press never seems to put their finger on? What should be pointed out is that because of these “pivots,” the electorate never truly knows where she stands on any given issue? My biggest frustration with her is this “press” voice she presents during interviews. I’m almost positive that if she would just speak her heart, and not her mind, voters would accept small differences between them and her? Instead, she tries to be a chameleon, succeeding in one way at least: her slithering is like a lizard.

And then we have the Donald. What the fuck republicans? I have to think there will be eventual consequences to not standing up to his behavior by elected Governor’s, Senator’s and Representatives? I feel like the nation is under a “War of the Worlds” spell with this guy. That is, really stupid people are lining up behind him because….what? He tells it like it is? He’s the opposite actually. He tells the truth no matter what people think? No! He does the exact opposite. All he does care about is what people think. Most of all; what people think about him. He is the product of our uber-celebritized, reality TV, WWF, obsession with money culture that is eroding our culture. Either he will be elected or he wont. Either way, the future will pass cruel judgement upon the current state of affairs, greed, ignorance and dishonesty. And don’t fucking compare Trump to Reagan! There are no similarities, period. The thing with the worst decisions humans tend to make is that they are unique. History is littered with lessons to occlude most events. I have a feeling the Donald is about as close to one of a kind as we can find?

What about Bernie Sander’s? Of course I like the man. But consider how weak Clinton is as a candidate that a self described Socialist is nipping her heels all the way to the convention? I would argue even, if democratic primaries were all open, allowing anybody the vote, she would have lost. The establishment of which she is the star player has quite literally pulled her through, despite the country’s repeated attempts to burn it all down. I have a feeling it’s not over, despite the mainstream media’s conclusion otherwise? With this cast of characters it’s impossible to foresee a month from now? Bernie understands this as well, hence his continuing campaign. Feel The Bern.

What does it all mean for Veteran’s and active duty servicemen and women? Today Hillary delivered a speech on what the media called “foreign policy,” but I call Trump trolling. It’s rich for her to question Trump’s acumen on these issues considering her track record? The nerve! Trump never cast a vote authorizing Bush to invade Iraq? She did. How many people have suffered because of that disaster? Millions. Including about 3,000 dead American soldiers, another 30,000 severely wounded. Now, Trump would be a national disgrace, in my opinion, but Hillary needs to stop with the higher than thou bullshit and reflect on her poor decisions, like the overthrowing of the Libyan regime. That country is a hot mess now, violent, and another base of operations for ISIS. But yeah, she wants Assad gone and a no fly zone in Syria? Also consider none of these candidates served in the military or have children in service. Trump went to a military academy as a rotten little child. 

I have to take a break. WEW!


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?       

Lost Nights & A Woman I Once Knew, So, So Long Ago

I’ve always felt so lucky having had you to fill out a chapter in my life. The more time that rolls past, the less I think of you, and yet, in my dreams, like the one I just dreamed, you were as alive and present as I ever could recall. Like you were really there, or here, as it were. It makes me wonder; do you ever dream of me? Do you even ever think of us and what could’ve been? It’s not something to dwell upon I suppose, or even necessarily important. It’s difficult to imagine, however, a film playing in my sleep so authentic and crazy real, without the force of both minds adrift and with will. If it’s so, and I guess we’ll never know, that these movies of us do unfold as you lay asleep; do you wake with as pleasant a high all around, like say, that of poppy tea, craving it were all real, or at least real again? Clinging to a small sliver of a synapse, yet understanding so well, it was all but a movie playing in your dreams?

I still feel so lucky, to have experienced a love like yours, who had me too, who can still penetrate the night, even still, overcoming the terrible fears. Funny how the darkness at times can shine so hot and bright? Irony is the term, I suppose? The way that gulf of emptiness with its opaque pool of fright, can so suddenly feel like the safest home? And then you’re there, above my head, just like those nights so long ago. That sweet smell of jasmine, that soft laugh and clever sparkle, could I ever forget? No, not as long as I can pretend, that these films about ghosts, will someday transcend a level below just my sullen head.

They say the best sleep is the kind that allows your brain to dump all its waste, a sort of toxic cleansing. This may in fact be true? After all these years apart, separated by oceans and strife, your voice, like a fingerprint, sticks to my mind. I sometimes hear you calling out, softly, giggling at the sight of me folding clothes, or trying to figure out the remote, or at the way I always seemed to load the toilet paper backwards on the spool. Thinking back now, those were the good things, the most private of inside jokes. Those little particulars are ultimately the stuff I miss the most because they are the unique tiles in a mosaic that was built to hide our love in place. Those are the things that can never be replaced. You can never be replaced. I haven’t even tried.

All things find their end, emotional atrophy. The hard feelings. The good times, even the best. Even the feeling I have tonight will end. We cannot live forever. There’s no substitute for that beginning with you. That first kiss…”just to get it out of the way,” you’d say. I remember so clearly, that electric moment of pulsing neon; it brings a tear to my eye every time, sometimes more. This isn’t about that though. Well, maybe everything’s about that? This isn’t about those yesterday’s past. Does everyone have that one true love that’s lost? Is it just part of our maturity, like a learning permit or a first funeral? Or is this all just a sleight of hand, black magic practiced on those of us too blind to see the present, to shallow to split the cell?

If you see this, you know who you are. I wont presume, or beg, or plead like maybe I should have long ago. Tonight, I’ll simply go for a walk under the stars, keep my chin up and my head held high, asking, that wherever you find yourself tonight, among the stars, on the sea, or in a quiet home, when you glance upwards…are you seeing the same sky as me?