#WellsFargo vs. John Q. Public

The biggest blight on the Obama administration has to be its reticence to prosecute crimes within the financial industry, as well as those committed under the auspices of National Security, specifically both Wall Street and the CIA. The failure to act in both realms will undoubtedly lead to future crimes and further weaken the foundation of our legal system. Society will grow accustomed to ideas like “too big to fail” and “bad things happen in war,” thereby codifying injurious precedents, emboldening future criminal behavior by those in power while concurrently amplifying the meeting out of justice upon the poor, less fortunate and powerless across society.

For example, the current investigation into nefarious practices at Wells Fargo Bank, obviously criminal in nature, revealing heavy consequences -though not criminal consequences?- to low-level employees, while execs, shareholders and Wall Street reap significant financial rewards. In a sane and healthy legal environment, the executives and upper management who promoted, permitted and were financially rewarded for these fraudulent practices would not only face forfeiture of profits, additionally, they would face prosecution. The current environment in banking is absurd and will eventually lead to cataclysmic failure, once again leading to great suffering by a public too uninformed to demand appropriate change, resetting the mad cycle once again, until some point, like a financial “event horizon,” after which the entire system imploded.

But what really infuriates me is the lacking sense of incredibility by the mainstream media in reporting these crimes. Sure, programs like PBS Frontline and newspapers like the New York Times continue to do impeccable work exposing the corruption, nevertheless, John Q Public generally requires a more loquacious accounting. Nightly news programs for instance, should produce condensed versions of the stories including, most importantly, how the malfeasance and/or criminal behavior will, or has, affected their lives. It’s not that most American’s are lacking the intelligence to consume an hour of Frontline, rather, in most cases, American’s most affected don’t have the time with all the external pressures modern life continues to exert.

When it comes to corruption in government, from the Executive Branch interpreting law to increase its power, the Deep State covertly making a mockery of our 4th Amendment rights or the CIA extra-judiciously operating “Black Site” prisons within which they can operate far from Constitutional Law, using so-called Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, otherwise known as medieval torture, not dissimilar to a petty criminal who evades prosecution, these powerful agencies and the employees within, will reengaged in these despicable practices without fear of reprisal upon the next emergency, value or not. The cost to the general public goes unnoticed for a time. Eventually though, the bill comes due in the form of “blowback,” to which the public cannot ascribe cause and effect. Examples include the death of American Diplomats in Benghazi Libya, to suicide bombings killing hundreds of Marines in Beirut, to the mass shooting at Ft. Hood, to the Boston Bombings, to even the 9/11 attacks themselves, all the result of “blowback” [payback] for United States foreign policy that in many cases included torture, rendition, or occupying sovereign lands, not to mention support validating Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people. These policies, some deemed legal, many not, whether you agree or not, are carried out in the name of all American’s.

My point being: How much and for how long will the greater American public continue to accept the indemnified behavior and actions by Wall Street bankers and public servants operating within the National Security State before we/they have had enough? Will it take a “Great Depression,” a wider war requiring the reconstituting of the Military Draft, or some other epic event to awaken the masses to the wanton criminality that caused it?

There has always been 2 Americas. It’s been a long time, however, since the gulf in the divide has been so wide, or so deep. How far will it stretch before finally fracturing and snapping back together?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@CBS #60MINUTES &DR STRANGELOVE

Isn’t it frustrating that the 2003 Iraq War has come down to petty squabbles over who did, or didn’t, support the initial invasion? It’s relevant sure, but more important to American’s is, what have you learned from what is quite possibly the worst foreign policy blunder in United States history? What did you learn Mrs. Clinton, from both the initial mistake of regime change to the disastrous policy of occupation? Same for Mr. Trump. Instead of speaking broadly with terms like “huge mistake,” and “failure,” tell us what you’ve learned from the debacle? But no, that’s not what Presidential politics is all about. It’s easy for me to picture both Clinton and Trump at their lecterns, with their thumbs in their ears, whaling, nananananananana.

I’m bored with them for now. The real heat under my collar these days stems from our eroding rule of law in America. My new favorite poster boy for the gilded court room award is billionaire Jeff Epstein. A man with powerful friends no doubt. From the British Royal’s to the American Royal’s, this pedophile travels the globe in his private jet; The Lolita. It seems President Clinton has earned plenty of mileage plan perks since 2001, some 30 times at minimum aboard the Lolita. What’s the chances that another creepy billionaire in the news is good pals with Pedophile Jeff who goes by The Donald? Oh yes, the cream certainly does congeal at the top of that evil circus troupe. It seems nothing touches old Jeffrey, especially not the pitiful local Sheriff who investigated him for a year, identifying scores of pre-teens inhabiting the scumbag palatial mansion, only to have the rug pulled out from under the investigation by the DA. For serial rape and trafficking children, 18 months in the local jail seems appropriate? Especially nice considering his spending a few days in the joint, a few at home, repeat. But we pretend that justice is blind. The truth is America has no rule of law. What we have is a police state that uses the threat of prison to control the less powerful. How else can you explain the fact that one of these young ladies ended up doing three years hard time for stealing a gold necklace from mister pedophile and friends, the same duckweed who repeatedly sexually abused her from age 13 to 15. Justice!

And if you thought it couldn’t get any more sleazy; consider the fact that both Donald Trump and Bill Clinton consider the douche a “good friend.” I wonder what kind of blackmail material Mr. Epstein has on these fine gentlemen?

In other news: Watching this weeks edition of 60 Minutes calmed my nerves a bit, not really. So apparently we are once again flying Nuclear armed B-52s around Russia’s borders like the good old days of the Cold War. Some Air Force General the likes of Curtis Le-may calmly described the fire power aboard each bomber: They carry four, six-cylinder cruise missile launchers, each armed with thermonuclear munitions some 25 times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. These missiles can travel 1500 miles -a handy map was provided clearly showing the flight paths to major Russian cities- so with aircraft flying missions from the North Pole to Southeast Asia, we got them Roosky’s covered. WTF!

Have these clowns ever watched Dr. Strangelove? If not, they have replicated much of the subplot with uncanny, terrifying accuracy. This ‘ol General assured the American public that these exercises are now necessary due to ultra-provocative Russian behavior. Anyone else sense something approaching Kafka in rationality and Orwellian logic? Right! ISIS is our biggest threat?

I am making jokes here, but seriously, this bullshit is approaching insanity. Our political leadership is going to sit idly by while the Pentagon and CIA provoke Russia into Cold War 2.0? The amount of hubris dripping from that 60 Minutes feature was stunning. It was propaganda worthy of our bloated, unruly, cooked Deep State, no doubt. I ask this: If we had State sponsored media here in a supposed Democracy, would it look any different from that 60 Minutes piece? Look, the so-called journalists at CBS let our military command speak ill will of Russia and Syria for bombing indiscriminately, including a hospital. That’s appropriate, true, and accurate as far as we know? But to not ask anyone at the Pentagon about the Doctor’s Without Borders Hospital we recently destroyed in Afghanistan by “accident,” or the “accidental” bombing of Syrian troops in their own country last week, is worse than malpractice; it’s subservient and destructive to our Democratic process that requires our citizens learning the truth, so they can act appropriately and agree with, or disagree with, the policies playing out in our names.

Someone asked me today, a fellow Vet; “are you even on our side brother?” The whimsical nature of the question, asked so nonchalantly, depressed me profoundly.  “Am I on your side?” Wow! “Yes, I am brother!” “It’s some of these fools in command, making the policy, cavalierly toying with a country that’s capable of wiping our nation literally off the map, that should be asked that question.” Beginning with our addiction to meddling in what should be Russia’s sphere of influence. Pushing NATO right up to their border after committing to the opposite policy upon a reunited Germany. Even going so far as to help overthrow the Russia friendly Ukrainian Government, a piece of geography analogous to the United States and Mexico. These crimped and pressed desk jockeys have calculated that the best policy in regards to Russia is “poke the bear.” So yea, I’d ask them whose side are you on? The American public or the Boards of corporate raiders the likes of Raytheon and General Atomics, who would profit quite handsomely supplying the tools of Cold War 2.0.

What good is all that money sir, that paper currency and 1’s and zeros on a network after your freshman pranks cause the cold to boil?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#PRESIDENTIALDEBATE b.s.

So my last post was just all out word storm…and it felt good. Maybe I’ve discovered something vital to my mental health; unabridged political word vomit? Speaking of stomach and gut excrement, I just finished watching the 1st Presidential Debate of 2016. I was hoping to walk away from the 90 minutes with a better impression of Hillary Clinton, a hope that seemed within possibility considering the adjacent candidate sharing the stage with her. First thoughts are most important I think and the truth is, neither candidate said or acted in any way unexpected. My assessment of the two stands: I intensely dislike both Clinton and Trump as POTUS. Trump is simply a fool who might actually change Washington. The change might be for the worse, if that’s even possible? And Clinton represents the established “status quo.” Yes, I know both descriptors mean the same thing. Watching the show on my laptop I yearned for a West Wing President Bartlett smack down from Hillary that, despite the many moments of unguarded Trump, if you will, never materialized. Was that the strategy, to simply chuckle at his ranting madness? The one canned response I noticed was the “beauty queen” line that didn’t really emphasize the larger point..my opinion at least. But Lester Holt did a solid job. If anything, he leaned on The Donald with tough questions a couple more times than he did Clinton. Last thing I’ll mention: Clinton only addressed or referred to Trump as Donald the entire debate. Doubt he noticed.

The bigger theme is: From a Nation of 330 million, these two, somehow, have been lifted to such prominence, despite their flaws, despite their unlike-ability, despite their histories? What does this say about our democratic system? In my opinion, these national elections expose the truth, rather than perpetuate the myth, of our society. We like to prance around the world extolling our moral superiority and advanced justice systems. The nomination of Trump, a man connected both fundamentally and tangentially to bias and racism, exposes the entrenched social divides that continue to hound our culture. If social media could be attributed to a single benefit, I believe that would have to be the way in which these isolated, yet not infrequent acts of racial injustices, ie, unarmed black persons killed by law enforcement- are readily exposed to the masses, where as in past times only the most egregious acts like the Rodney King beatings went viral. This combination of ubiquitous recording and multi dimensional sharing is mainstreaming a social cause that’s been brewing for decades, yet heavily exposed today with the tools of modern technology.

Going back to these police killings for a minute. Just imagine how many unjustified homicides occurred prior to these technological advances? I mean look, many time today, even when captured on video, law enforcement will dance around the truth as in the case of Tamir Rice in Cleveland. A straight up murder by the way. Many of these incidents are buffeted with phrases like; “I saw a gun” or, “he looked like a madman on PCP.” Without video to contradict these accounts and the willingness of other police witnesses to falsify reports, the victims have been “up shit creek,” so to speak. Your word against theirs and you might be dead anyway right? So you can feel this storm brewing as regular citizens now have the opposing ammunition to contradict what otherwise would have likely been covered up with false reporting. Shit’s gotta change and the shock and confusion gripping police departments is palpable. Hopefully modern technology will help bridge this long running divide….but consider me skeptical.

No surprise Veteran’s issues of any kind were absent from the debate! After the forum last week I had many questions regarding both candidates comprehension of the wider issues. Actually, I don’t even want to know what these two think. Fuck ’em. They could say something sensible and be a lie or something outrageous that comes true. It’s all talk from them. It’s the moderator who asks the question…or doesn’t, as it were, that bears importance. Is that the correct “bears?” Or “bares?” At this point though, even I would be incredibly shocked if Trump even ends up winning more than 150 electoral votes. We are collectively a stupid nation, but not morons, right?

Hasn’t supply side -trickle down- economics been proven a sham? Isn’t it fucking obvious that Republicans spew this “voodoo” economic theory as a convenient way to slash taxes, most of all for the wealthy and corporate America? After all these years though it’s still trotted out by GOP candidates like some kind of paramnesia. Such bullshit. In fact, that’s a better metaphor than “trickle down.” It should be, “let the bull eat more so that even more shit trickles down on the rest of us.” The more gluttony, the more shit for all theory of economics. It’s about as believable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POST #JUSTICE #SOCIETY

Before I dig into the outrageous matter that is our never-ending 15 year state of war, I’d like to ask a simple question…Is there no limit to the lawlessness permeating the elite stratus of post 20th Century America?  From Wall Street to Washington DC, it’s become a simple rule of fact that the rich and powerful among us ascribe to a separate book of laws; invisible, classified or secret laws that shield those with wealth and status from criminal indictment and prosecution, and if the law is brought to bear at all, civil judgments are rendered as tax deductable fines, without admission of guilt. Look no further than the Hillary Clinton private server investigation. With regular folk, they’d make you prove your innocense rather than the other way around. Don’t believe me? Look into the Bill Binny case and the NSA. All they found was a single page on his personal computer that was classified AFTER he left the agency and was charged because they thought he was leaking to the press. Binny, although a dutiful long term employee and Veteran never got the due dillegence Clinton received. Or when Trump is looking at a major lawsuit in Florida, the case is not picked up after an illegal contribution to the AG’s campaign comittee. No problem on either front I guess? Over the course of 15 years, admitted war crimes such as torture and massive financial crimes that continue today, are somehow blanketed in indemnity by those in power without even the slightest sense of caution for precedent and the future it portends. If no punishment results from blatant criminality, the chances of repeated behavior is compulsory. There was a time in this country when there was at least the illusion of justice. Today what we see is a nation that punishes the poor and indigent to the extreme while simultaneously kissing the ring of those “too big to fail -jail-.” How long can this charade go on before the peasants recall their ante? How long can the mystical illusion of freedom and equality keep hold of the masses? In my opinion, the levee will breach the moment those who considered themselves part of the middle class, deserved of the “American Dream,” discover that they too have been swallowed by the invisible power. The dam will break the day white privilege no longer has the strength to compete with those who own the state. That time when those who looked upon the ghetto’s and inner city populations realize that they’ve been manipulated into their own newer, modern, yet similar ghetto, stripped of the rights we all take for granted. We’re accustomed to the plight of minorities in the justice system. A system that treats you better if you are guilty and wealthy than it does if you’re poor and innocent. Bit by bit, Democracy in the United States is being neutered by the influence of dark money in massive quantities.

You may think I am some kind of nut-job after reading this? That I’m making a mountain out of a molehill? I just ask you to think about what I’m saying. Think about the 2008 financial crisis and the complete lack of accountability involved. Something like 14 trillion dollars all told and not even a single Wall Street banker was indicted, let alone go to jail. How is this the case unless they have become bigger than the law? And if that is the case, indeed, we have no rule of law. This isn’t conspiracy, secret squirrel stuff. It’s the facts only.

We have a prison without any due process on an island country that doesn’t recognize our claim to the land. In this prison we’ve “tortured some folks,” not to mention the many secret prisons we ran around the globe where torture was a regular tool used despite many, many laws and treaties that make these actions criminal. Period. In addition, we invaded a sovereign nation on the grounds of preemptive war. A move that’s been rightly deemed criminal throughout history by us and others until we decided to do so. I could go on, but my point is this: In the face of these facts, not one person has been held accountable, either criminally or otherwise, set aside some low ranking enlisted soldiers who were “just following orders.”

We are in a post justice world. How long will us “regular folk” accept these conditions? There will be a time, an event horizon if you will. Two simple ideas are slowing tearing us apart. 1) The rich can plunder and steal with impunity as long as they don’t steal from other rich people. 2) When our government bombs or “tortures some folks,” it is done in each and every citizens name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOTH WAYS

Nothing seems to make me feel worse than when I reflect on my earlier life and what would have become of it had I resisted the urge to enlist in the Army after September 11th. Would things have turned out worse? Instead of the towering shame and sense of betrayal that overwhelms me today, would I have just found replacement feelings of ignominy and victim-hood? Either way I lie awake at night hoping to erase the shame and wake up with the fear born of my nightmarish anger. So I do my best to occupy my brain with the drone of the never ending internet or the fiction within the screen; anything to dam the current that flows from another life and the future impossible to replace. Death comes, it seems, the moment that barrier gives way, opening up the closure our fiction has hidden.

There is no justice for the self-righteous among us. I say that in the context of modern day truth tellers, those who do what they believe to be honorable only to be treated like the villain. The story is familiar. I can relate. The idiom, I believe, is: “no good deed goes unpunished.” My entire concept of right and wrong was challenged, and defeated the day I was discharged from Army service administratively, essentially, for doing “the next right thing.” “The war is bigger than this young man,” I was lectured just days before I was unceremoniously shipped home with two fellow “troublemakers.” “We are in the middle of a war, son.” “Why are you doing this to yourself?” My answer, in the moment was as honest as it was naive and simple. My answer, paraphrased, was something like “I signed up to fight for the good guys. I enlisted….” The meeting was over.

Even in my initial shock, there was an ember of dignity deep within. That I could somehow hang my hat on that simple truth. That my war was over, yet my humanity carried on. In a rational mind, this could have been logical. Instead what settled under my atmosphere were the competing forces of embarrassment and shame. Embarrassed that I came home physically unharmed, yet profoundly hurt by what felt like being abandoned and shameful for trusting the forces of power to begin with. My self-righteousness encumbered my ability to prosecute the immorality of war. I should have known as much. I did this to myself and that’s ultimately what today hurts the most.

You might be wondering: “what could have been so terrible that it forced me/us to press the issue to the “event horizon,” if you will? In not so many words, I am ready to let it go. The only person outside of my unit and command that I told was my now deceased Grandfather; a Veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam Wars. It was unexpected that he expressed his lack of shock. In fact, he thought it lucky to have an honorable discharge in the face of such deliberate malfeasance.

After 8 months deployed to Afghanistan in late 2002 early 2003, our unit was quickly turned around and refitted for the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. During the final 4 weeks prior to the invasion we were stationed outside of the Middle East with several additional coalition forces. It came to my attention that soldiers were visiting a brothel regularly, then sharing video captured during the sexual escapades. It wasn’t the idea of a brothel that bothered me, nor the childish passing around of amateur porn. What seemed quite disturbing then -revolting today even- was the open knowledge that many of these girls were underage and that several of the homemade tapes included violence. My first reaction was disbelief. Just sailor stories, I thought? Pretty sick shit, but almost certainly untrue. The more I heard however, the more it became evident that the rumors were, in fact, true.

The second thing that killed me was few seemed to give a shit? Is this really what we are all about? Supposedly traveling halfway around the world to liberate oppressed peoples only to victimize some along the way? So we took it to the PL. Long story short; four months later, following a capture mission in Iraq and three separate meetings since first reporting the incident, one final chance was given to drop the issue. Six hours later I was extricated from Iraq; ten hours after that, from the Army itself.

About five years ago I stumbled upon an article that caught my attention. Some private contractor for the US Military had been accused of shielding individuals caught up in a scandal involving underage prostitution very near the post I had visited years before. A corporate whistle blower had come forward with evidence of the myriad crimes only to be fired and returned to the States ingloriously. According to the piece, the corporation settled with a moderate fine and no admission of wrongdoing in the matter. The article went on to reveal that the crimes continued for another year at least. No charges or further investigation was ever instigated, according to the piece.

Are we the country we proclaim to be? Am I insensitive to the bigger picture, or, am I simply unwilling to take accountability for my own behavior, projecting my anger to deflect the truth? I remember that flight home so many years ago and the slightest ember of confidence that remained deep within. That someday, if I pressed on, someday my actions would be rewarded. Yet, like so many other high and mighty idiots, that redeemable moment never comes. Instead, we just add to the long list of victims assaulted by the “big picture.”

Why write this today? The truth is, my slow fall from normality has inflicted emotional harm, not only upon the self, but upon those who knew me so long ago. This guilt is yet another scar. I wanted to at least try to explain in a way that’s to not explain away the forces that interrupted my trajectory and shifted its orbit. I am sorry. My stubborn reluctance to talk and my inability to cope is on me, period. Be assured, the end will come despite your genuine concern, not in spite of it. I’m sorry you couldn’t help me. I am gratified. The truth is, it’s unclear if anything will prevent my ceding to the fear and noise?

I wrote this for anyone who cares enough to read it.. It’s the single thing I’m capable of doing. Hopefully these words will offer a modicum of reason and eventual closure. Remember me for the man I once aspired to be, not the coward that ran away.

I’ll post this tonight for good measure. If possible, another time soon, more will follow? It’s impossible to say everything. All life must one day pass through the seasons of creation to be born once more, cleaner somehow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonprofit Corporation: Oxymoron?

If I could be granted one simple wish before leaving this world, it would be that I had somehow captured on paper the genesis of this sadness and grief I endlessly suffer. I so want to leave an expression of my frustration and guilt that one day, a long-lost friend or loved relative might read and somehow “get it,” somehow comprehend the level of internal, immutable struggle. Leaving this world behind vacant of that record, ironically, or paradoxically, as it were, bends my will ever so slightly to live, if only in hopes of discovering those words.

That conversation aside, the present nature of things, politically speaking, have sunken to depths I’d otherwise assumed impossible. Can it really be true that our, some might say, “great society” has been lost to a celebrity worshiping, dumbed down, get rich quick ethos so prevalent that a buffoon the likes of Donald Trump could actually be elected the President of the United States? Could it be that I surrendered my future to fight for an America that can name more Kardashian’s than Supreme Court justices? -a recent poll finds that 81% of Trump supporters and 65% of Clinton supporters could not name even 1 current SCOTUS judge- As a white male growing up in America, the concept of “white privilege,” in retrospect at least, was supremely evident. Yet, could I have actually brought myself to enlist in 2001 to fight for a country that is, in fact, so prejudice to nominate a man like Donald Trump as the GOP contender for POTUS? Why would anyone in their right mind volunteer to fight on behalf of a nation -at least halfway around the world- so divided at home, for the idea of another’s freedom elsewhere? 

I actually like Donald Trump. What I do not care for, what I find depressing and pernicious, is the simple fact that I fought for a country, suffered, experienced others suffering, put friends in body bags even, that considers Trump suited for the job Commander-in-Chief. Can there be anything worse on a spiritual level than to discover your sacrifices were not only unnecessary, but harmful? That this man speaks to an electorate so many have given so much to protect, is disheartening and jarring. My guilt is such that no amount of time will ever heal the burden. The realization that not only did my service harm fellow human being’s so irrevocably, but that it produced a sense of righteousness within those perpetrating the ongoing tragedy, squeezes me so tightly within, that finding air to breathe becomes ever more difficult. Not only did I temporarily prop up the madness, I lost my future to its pervasive continuance.

As a person, I don’t like Hillary Clinton. As a politician I find her deplorably acceptable in a moment of terrible strain. Unlike Trump in his role as a politician exposing the worst in our society, Hillary represents the worst of our political system at large. “Stronger Together?” Not unlike her campaign in general, her meaningless slogan represents her largest flaw, which from my perspective is: Does she want to be president because that’s what’s next, so to speak, because if I were asked, I couldn’t tell you why she wants to be the next POTUS? So Donald Trump isn’t? This truth is overlooked largely by the media, yet I believe it heavily represents her seeming inability to brush The Donald aside, as I suspect many other Democratic candidates would quite easily. Comparing herself to Trump when pressured to explain her own actions comes across as mealy-mouthed and cynical. 

There is a difference between Veteran’s of WWII and the Vietnam War. Much of that static seems to me related to the feelings of guilt and shame I, and many other War on Terror vets live with. Not only did we encounter the loss, stress, confusion and pain of war, but many of us discover the fight was fought on some big lies and manipulation. WWII Vets could/can at least find solace in the fact that their sacrifices were made for the greater good. That they suffered in truth, sacrificed in the name of justice. Sure, PTSD was common throughout the community of WWII Vets, however, the process of healing was amplified through the lens of righteousness. A simplistic opinion, maybe, but not necessarily incorrect.

I’d like to add more to this essay later, for now I must sign off and try to recollect my thoughts. But if I don’t make it back, it’s important for me to express one final thought: I don’t blame anyone for my condition, despite the possibility my words could be interpreted as so. My decision to jump into this war was made voluntarily and within the context of my historical knowledge of the world. I did it to myself….and maybe that’s what hurts the most? I wish I could take it back. I want to heal so badly. The reality is that I’m so lost, so broken and bent, that I will not. Good night- 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#IAVAFORUM Do Facts Even Matter?

I have a lot of respect for our organization, Iraq Afghanistan Veteran’s of America and our tireless leader, Paul Reikoff. That alone, we were able to put together this Presidential Forum together, despite the obvious flaws, was a tremendous achievement by itself. I understand Mr. Reikoff’s comment to Rachael Maddow that he saw the event as a “great success,” on her program, immediately following the candidates hour. He has learned the way of the politician well in praising what I’m certain he otherwise felt of the program.

I am not in politics, however, so let me tell you the truth, my truth at least, after 48 hours of contemplation. I’ve concluded that the American public, in general, got fed a meal of their precise choosing. A plurality of the voting public, those beyond the beltway press, the 1% elites, those who’ve so mightily sacrificed fighting this forgotten war, and those partisans advising the campaign, actually want the red meat, the bombastic irrationality of our failing foreign policy, the lies, the messiness and the celebrity of it all, just as long as it doesn’t interfere with their HBO, our ever-present holiday shopping and our $6 coffee’s. An hour is about all the time our country has to spare.

I’m convinced most American’s -like Gary Johnson and the NYT editorial staff- couldn’t give you two actual facts about the Syrian Civil War, the NATO campaign to remove Qadhafi, or the difference between ISIS and the Islamic State? Not even that there is no difference. You reading this might be well-informed, maybe not? But there’s a question more important than all these pedantic bunny trails.

It’s this: What would it matter if we all knew the difference, the correct answers? Would this empirical knowledge change the governments foreign policy position? That ISIS is the greatest threat since….Al Qaeda..since Saddam..since the NAZI’s? No! And Donald Trump, to the utter maddening of the elite has tapped into this vein of truth. Most voters don’t give two good shits as long as they don’t have to go fight, pay taxes, or give up their reality TV. See, the media, the President and the elites want us to believe we actually live in a Democracy capable of making choices. The greater population has finally realized the truth; it’s all a lie, and by supporting Trump, they are giving the middle finger to the aforementioned by doing so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presidential Town Hall?

Have you watched any of the documentaries exposing the media’s neglect in the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq? What seems to be clear is that much of the mainstream media has difficulty in telling the American people what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear. Anyone questioning the government was labeled “terrorist sympathizer” and quickly escorted off stage right. See, for example, Phil Donohue, who had MSNBC’s highest rated program, yet was promptly cancelled as he dared to entertain opposing opinions, suggesting the Iraq War would be a colloseul mistake. There’s no prize for being correct anymore when it comes to American foreign policy. More importantly, there is no punishment for being wrong, for even outright lying to your customers even.

I say all this in light of the so-called town hall held tonight on NBC featuring Trump and Clinton. To be most succinct: if the United States had an official State News such as that of the former Soviet Union, how little difference would there be between it and what we present as journalism today? Would an event like this be MC’d by a morning celebrity talk show host rather than an expert in the field of Veteran’s affairs and national security? Would the State run program limit the event to no more than 50 minutes total, despite the enormity of the issues being discussed?

It’s unnecessary for me to dig any deeper into an analysis of this production I witnessed tonight. The content speaks for itself. That is to say; the content was as shallow as it was Jingoistic. If we learned anything new after this hour I’ll never get back it’s this: the media treats us as if we’re stupid. The candidates treat us like we are stupid. How much further can we travel along this dodgy path before perception does indeed become reality and we are all lost?

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART II – IN HIDING section a

This is the second part of a rough draft of work describing my time serving in the US Army and the life that has followed. For PART I Click Here THANK YOU!

PART II – IN HIDING

How are you supposed to react when a person you’ve known all your life says to you, in all seriousness, “we don’t even seem to know you any more?” My reaction to this honest statement of fact was to deflect, to isolate, to just run. It was just the thing I might not have done before, in a previous life, in a space prior to this mask I now wear. The words hit hard. The words hit home. The mask was ripped off like an infected scab. The illusion of my happy life had not only been unveiled, turns out, it was never there at all. It’s not being caught in a lie, rather, it’s that they all knew the mask was a lie all along. How am I supposed to face them? How do I tell them the mask is all that remains?

The clock strikes midnight as I sit here, alone, as far away from home as I’ll ever be. Light streams in through the bare glass of the four windows, east, north, west and south, on this still summer night. At this latitude the sun is like an unbalanced friend. The winter falls hard and the summer slight. I wont be able to see the stars again for what seems like months. Will I ever? Thoughts like this are safe in a place already so distant. This shell of a structure I like to call home, a space looking out in the four known directions, I often consider the trap.

There are men I used to know that seem comfortable with it all? Are they just more at ease with the mask, or was it there all along? I wish I could walk that line between the future and the past. To live in the moment, they say it’s all that there really is. This assessment of reality, in my opinion, feels completely untrue. Like faith in a God that is cool with what comes, I shudder at the thought of such acceptable evil. What I see is the past. What I feel is the future. These are the foundations of my life in atrophy. Picture an ocean as it meets the shore; look for the present, a space between the sand and the sea. Dig deeper, let the past wash away. I came home long ago, yet never was able to touch the shore.

This loss will not be calculated into the next fools war. They’ll consider the caskets and consider the gold, but what about the suffering of those with wounds down deep? It adds up to nothing in the vaults of an immoral economy, an ignorant population marches on, slaves and truants, to the master’s of war. It’s “hooray” for the flag and hell for the children, a pattern that has persisted over millennia. Our projection of evil isn’t new or even clever. Rome would conquer new lands under the guise of relieving oppression, or, even more familiar to our modern history: as a preemption to future, imminent war. Although the truth was quite evident and clear. The Roman Empire never couched their expansion as conquerors, guided by greed and tempted by glory. The PR of the ancient world is no more fresh today. “We’re Rome, we’re only here to help.”

I ask myself, did the Legionnaires of Ceaser and Crassus’ Rome suffer from guilt and shame? I find it difficult to believe this happened in any great numbers. From history it seems clear, a striking difference from that world to this is that Roman propaganda was employed upon the masses, with the troops given the truth. Conquest today is packaged the same for all, public and plebs. This hypocrisy jumped out of the shadows as we once again marched into battle. This fight was not about liberty. This new war had little to do with freedom, for the West or the Middle East. If it was a lie, it was still for; fighting on a lie.Those in the ranks who realized this first, fought both integrity and lead. Fighting on a deliberate lie, killing in the face of dishonesty, these men, us men, have gradually succumbed to this hell, our masks melting away, the conscience proceeds.

The rest of America seems to have largely moved on to new, fresh projections of fear? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5th Point of Contact

Preface: The first time I entertained the idea of documenting my experiences in the Army, to my best recollection, was soon after browsing the Afghanistan War Logs released by Wikileaks. It wasn’t because I found them inaccurate, rather, it was their sterile efficiency, their almost complete lack of context that rubbed me the wrong way, like the reaction of a cat having its fur combed against the natural lay. It wasn’t like I had anything else of value going on. Just the week before a close relative had commented to me in private: “I don’t think I even know you any more?” Words that stung, not due to there inaccuracy, but for there cold truth. Truth was, and is, I don’t even know myself any longer.

Five years later, 2500 miles away, broke, alone, fatalistic, and angry, I have “picked up the pen” so to speak, in earnest, to document my all to vivid memories and drop bread crumbs along this slow path to likely self-destruction. I don’t expect anyone to read these musings, to give a shit or empathize. This is for me. This might be my final grasp at a useful life I once took for granted?

I begin on the battlefield, downrange, as it were, not to glorify war, but to introduce a sort-of literary speed trap. This is my testimony. These are secrets, most I’ve never told. This is the cost of victory in little battles, singular wins that lose the greater war.

PART I – INTO THE BREACH

Army! Travel to exotic, distant lands; meet exciting, unusual people and kill them.”  FULL METAL JACKET

Nothing could ever prepare a man for the cacophony of sounds, the putrid, unforgettable stench, the orchestrated confusion and fear associated with infantry level combat. “Smells like victory”; a cute line from Hollywood, I assure you, is not a pleasant affect to anyone’s morning. That permeating odor, so all-consuming, overpowering, the digestive gases, piss, shit, blood and bile; no sane man who’s ever tasted that air could forget. Picture that warm sense that might wash over you while listening to an old, favorite song. Memories lifting from the deep recesses of your romantic past, seemingly out of nowhere, vanishing like a wisp of smoke. Now try to imagine a similar effect in reverse, blinding terror, soot blackened snow.

Welcome to the dark side of the Earth, as we knew it then, some 13 years ago. The cyclonic rotation of the planet slowly painted this moonless night in a witheringly opaque blackness: Perfect for our purposes. Perfect for an ambush. It added up to a sort of vacant, yet vacuous strangled paralysis which turns out, is ideal for the new, high-tech tools of war. We were laying in wait, the trap was set, hidden below an invisible melody, only the sounds of the forest singing its song. A “stand-to,” in Army nomenclature. We were a often violent and seldom patient uber predator, open in wait, not unlike the steel jaws of an old rusty trap, eager to snap shut with the ferocity of the God’s.

This mission was unique for us to that point in the deployment. Seldom did we utilize these sorts of tactics while I served in Afghanistan. Apparently we had acquired SIGINT -Signal Intelligence- combined with human intelligence, prompting command to pay closer attention to the Pakistan border as a causeway for Tali fighters moving to and from the tribal badlands of Pakistan? Really, I mean, no shit Sherlock? Nevertheless, this was an operation Grunts like us trained for, and dreamed of tackling in those days. We wanted to be something more than chum, bait. Let’s take the fight to them, whoever “them” were? 

Positioned just below the treeline, straddling a well worn trail the continued up into the lenticular clouds, bending away from the peaks far above, our hopes were high. All we could do is wait. No cigarettes, no movement, no sound until dawn breaks, or the enemy falls. Those hours, slipping far past dusk, yet not quite dawn, awakens our ancestral brain to those instinctual fears. In this space, on a planet facing directly away from the sun, the hairs on the neck will dance, a primitive warning from eons past. The tension now gripping us all, like an endless nightmare, only we are wide awake. Those organic warnings, recorded as rings on every man’s family tree, this ubiquitous and not quite irrational fear of the dark forest lingers. Left alone with only your thoughts, the haunting hour arrives like a tempest, on the edge of panic and exhilaration, the fear of the unknown grips you, as you hope for the known, trained for something else. This is when ghosts seem the least shy, the countless children, digging, playing, screaming in this perpetually radioactive, scorching sandbox. Are they angels coming out to play, or are they daemons waiting to settle old scores? If I only knew now what I didn’t back then, could I make the necessary difference?

Proned out, contemplating the silent life happening now on the other side, a shooting-star caught my physical attention. Was it a sign, some sort of starting bell? The rock, barreling out of the eastern sky, voyaging across the gaping horizon overhead, like a flash from heavens’ gate, a super-sonic meteor crashing into the western cosmos, within a suspended instant, time measured in micro-seconds. The present briefly felt more tangential to peace than it did to war.

Just at that moment, my right eye lit-up as a green silhouette. The optics illuminated a man, moving in silence, about fifty meters uphill from our fixed position. Carefully descending, the extreme heights of the Pakistani mountain border to his back, this lead scout moved cautiously, deliberately, and much quieter than I previously assumed possible. More appeared, twenty-two in all by my imprecise count. Armed men, Taliban most likely, not knowing, perhaps even imagining, the dogs of war waiting just steps ahead in that darkness, killers suspended in a well conditioned silence, ready to violently shut the door on life.

One by one they crept passed my position, in the blackness, the predator as prey. Just five-fucking-meters from a steep, rocky, mountain trail, I laid there watching as they descended past. Were we manning some sort of hell’s gate? If there really is a God, or Allah, or whatever the fuck, I recall thinking, these men, every last fucking one of them better be prepared to have a face-to-face with the twisted mother-fucker. A criss-crossing mesh of green lit our night. This was an ambush. That was the beginning of my own time in hell.