A Red, White & Blue Phoenix Rises Over Washington DC & New York 11/09/2016

The things we will learn about this election once the dumpster fire dies out should be fascinating? From the supposed Russian government connections to the intensive hacking effort; to the FBI’s inner strife; to the Trump campaigns war on facts; to the Clinton’s in general; the things we don’t know and the things we think we know will likely shed much light upon the disease that’s afflicted our democratic processes and political institutions? Many books will be written and many career’s will likely be made from the ashes like some red, white and blue Phoenix ascending to mega media glory.

Is Putin really directly involved meddling in our democratic process? If you believe the “17 Intelligence Agencies” Clinton claims have asserted this to be true then we could be moderately worried. Or not. Really? Do we actually think Russia is to blame for the two least trusted, disliked Presidential candidates in the history of our Republic as our only viable choices? I’d surmise the blame lies in altogether separate venues, with Russia, if they truly are meddling, only a byproduct of these failures.

  1. American voters in 2016 are especially ignorant. Not stupid, but purely and willfully ignorant. Many voters are following their hearts far and above their minds. Facts don’t matter to too many out there who are just angry, depressed and confused, whether justifiably or not, to the direction the country seems to be traveling despite their will in opposition to that direction. Or, they just wont vote, unlike the 2008 election with its soaring optimism and hope, this year seems antithetical to that promise.
  2. Politicians are generally in the bag, despite their words or even genuine care and concern for their constitutes. Democracy is broken. The entire system IS rigged. The whole system is bought and paid for. Democracy is an illusion of the elite media conjured up to avoid economic truths. The wider public understands this truth, feels it and lives it even if they cannot put their finger on it. Many know Trump is an idiot, a charlatan, a phony, but he is NOT Washington DC.

 

I know this is very simplistic as political analysis goes. It doesn’t apply exclusively, of course. Yet, it is a mood and a feeling that’s prevalent throughout the country. Democrats were scared into nominating Hillary Clinton and Republicans scared the GOP into nominating Donald Trump. Dem’s were scared a Bernie Sanders would lose to any GOP candidate and Republican politicians are scared they wont if they oppose Trump. And the fear multiplies.

The Russians are coming! Fear. ISIL is coming! Fear. Shari’a Law is coming to Sunnyvale! Fear. Trump is a Fascist! Fear. Hillary is a crook…and a woman! Fear. China is bleeding us dry! Fear. Ebola, Socialism, no 2nd amendment, Lizard People! Fear. Fear. Fear…F..Okay, totally fake. What do almost all of these possibilities have in common? They are largely out of our control. And that’s the problem in a giant hairy nutshell. People who have felt in control for so long in this country feel as though they are losing that control and it’s frightening.

Donald Trump is going to lose badly on Tuesday. The election that is. The American people were simply his next “mark” or “sucker,” that’s all. He’ll bleed this fear for all its worth, that we can be almost certain of. He’ll play the victim like always. He’ll bully with litigation and Twitter; the courts and the web. He’ll ruin what’s left of the GOP and likely make it impossible for Clinton to govern with Congress as a partner. That’s all great for him and bad for the rest of us no doubt.

So much could happen out of the realm of prediction that might affect a Clinton Administration, positively or negatively. We can safely assume the level of sexism will escalate in proportion to her poll numbers. We can assume the military will continue absorbing half our budget and new wars and conflict will appear, new dragons to slay and freedom to protect. The Earth will continue to warm, the seas will rise and someone, somewhere, will proficize the imminent end of the world. The NSA will scoop up everything and store it forever. The police will become more militarized and Black Lives Matter will struggle and push against the howling winds of our history.

And if I’m still here, after nights alone, again and again, with suicide a desire and not a wish; I’ll continue complaining and suffering my soul. The present is so small and we forget the immensity of it all. We are but a speck on a speck on a tiny point of a smaller dot on a sailing place in time. I’ll hope these words matter, yet be maddeningly disappointed in tomorrow. There is a war I’m fighting still, downrange in my sorry home.

It’s snowing and that brings forth nice memories of places before the storm. I’m waiting for you with a smile and a hot cocoa, wondering why we parted so many long years ago. I think of you everyday. I think of you and pray to a God that hears nothing but hatred in this ankle-deep snow. I’m still waiting love for me to come home.

updated 2119 11/05/2016

Scanning through this I realized several open-ended assertions were made with zero follow up. From my skeptisism of our intelligence agencies public leaks or claims of Russian State involvement to Clinton citing “17 agencies” confirming Russian State meddling, I’m pretty sure my sarcasm was overt.

If you believe our Coast Guard Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency or the National Reconnisence Office chimed in on Russian hacking, well, you might should put the blunt down? When it comes to the NSA, the FBI or the CIA making declarations of fact, we should all be on guard. In my opinion, I tend to only believe something after the US government officially denies it. And where does this info come from or, how did it get to Clinton? A classified briefing? You see where I’m going, right? Of course The Donald is going to challenge the claims: He pretty much automatically disagrees with Hillary like some weird robotic autopilot meme. Doesn’t mean he supports Russia…I am suspicious however.

I wonder just how damaging Trump would be as POTUS? There has been some good points offered by experts in foreign relations no doubt. It would be degrading in the eyes of the global elite writ large. But Armegeddon? Not likely, but why chance it when Clinton is on deck to propell us onward? Another decade of war? No problem, right?

I should have left this post alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nation of Fools: The Cults of #Trump & #Clinton.

It’s been a challenge sharing my struggles with grief, anger, fear and all the other shit that hitches up to many a good soul post military combat, or, many other traumatic life events, for that matter. Questions rise and cycle through my brain like: am I a terrible person; is my life planted forever with a lie like a mountaineer would a mountain peak; does anyone even give a fuck about my feelings or what I’ve done; will I ever feel free again; will the nightmares cease and let me sleep in peace; does anything ever matter or make a difference? I feel alone beyond the shore of a churning sea.

My anger stems from the unaccountable and those seemingly comfortable living within their hypocrisy and blatant contradictions.I’m furious with myself. Anger is a byproduct of my fear, or an extension of it, balancing, like the opposing sides of a simple mathematical equation. To watch them, so at ease with their atrocities, leaves me paralyzed with fright. The possibility that I am the hypocrite, that comes and goes. It’s all one big bag of shit that I’m scared to leave behind, stubbornly holding on, no matter the stench, or the ugly weight of it.

There was a time that I felt patriotic for my country, warts and all. “The proud American,” my German girlfriend would say. Not arrogant, not pretentious, just patriotic. We were far from perfect, I knew, but we weren’t animals or criminals. Mistakes were made, yes, but we tried to do better. Was it a false belief, a product of ignorance, immaturity or simply naive to believe my country would ultimately live up to these ideals in the shadow of September 11th? We could survive a corrupt Congress or a President sick with power, from time to time. I tended to believe our system of government would sort things out eventually.

The current state of things seem grim. Is this assessment pollution of my own inevitable corruption? I see and hear a wider public completely devoid of curiosity and fact. If so, and the government is of the people, will the Republic change course? Can we survive a nation of fools who appear willing to follow and elect proven liars as leaders? How does that get fixed? Or is it really broken at all?

Is this what I sacrificed for? Is it what other brave, patriotic men and women sacrificed for, often with their lives? 9/11 was the most significant event to occur in my lifetime. A fulcrum point emerged out of the rubble, smoke and skeletons that offered paths in two separate, opposing directions. One path stretched ahead towards our ideals, our “better angels,” as it were. Another would slowly transform us into the evil we sought to destroy. Sadly, we burst blindly ahead on that path of misfortune, towards an eventual ignominious fate. Not only has that fact left me sorrowful and lost, it also makes me culpable.

This upheaval and chaos rocking the Middle East isn’t to be chalked up to most American’s go to theory regarding the region: “They’ve been at war for centuries over there. We just tried to bring them freedom.” That’s the simplistic sort of bullshit that corrodes our dialogue and erodes our standing throughout the world. I admit, in my early 20’s, this analysis wasn’t too much simpler than my own. I certainly didn’t believe our military could, or should, be deployed anywhere as peacekeeper’s or proponents of Democracy. I signed up in October 2001 to defeat the forces behind the 9/11 attacks, no more, no less.

What I’m trying to say is this: The mission in Afghanistan as I participated in was just and appropriate, knowing what I know now and then. The invasion of Iraq was inappropriate by any measure knowing what I know now and then. Our ongoing missions to rebuild governments in Afghanistan and Iraq was, and is, an error in judgement and impossible to complete, as the past 15 years have revealed, not to mention past failures in Vietnam, Somalia etc.

The only entity capable of extricating ourselves from this chaos is Congress. Congress is an extension of the American people. Do the American people seem concerned about these policies? Are the American people working with all the facts? If the American people just shrug at the mention of these wars, or support them on the basis of incorrect information, or willful ignorance, like say they did the Vietnam War in the early 1970’s, what would motivate Congress to modify the course? Wars are easy to start, difficult to end, especially without the visual of an enemy capitulating, e.g., the Empire of Japan face to face with Douglas MacArthur aboard an US Navy battleship in late 1945.

We cannot kill our way to victory in a war versus an ideology, as much as it is geography. Likewise, we cannot go on fighting indefinitely without sustaining wounds to our Republic that are permanent. I’ve been there, seen it up close and bloody. Fighting a war against an ideology is analogous to fighting a war verses dandruff. What is victory? Is it a world where no person has violent political disagreement with the United States government? I’m sure that bombing their uncle’s house or droning a family wedding party will shift perceptions. It’s just that the shift continues in the wrong direction.

I keep wondering off the message. Betrayed. That’s the sense I feel the most viscerally. It’s a feeling that leaks into my personal affairs, like a trigger, or a premonition.

On November 8th the people are going to elect a serial liar to the Presidency. One side will claim the other will finally ruin America, or conversely, make it great again. I truly cannot say who’s correct? What I do think is the candidates we have are a perfect reflection of our collective ignorance and willful resistance to the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#WARCRIMES & THE RECKONING

How many people have been negatively impacted by the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq? How many have been killed, both civilian and military, throughout the greater Middle East, Europe, Central and Eastern Asia, Australasia, even the United States, by both direct and indirect result of George W. Bush’s decision to topple the Baathist Saddam Hussein regime that had ruled Iraq for nearly 30 years? As a thought experiment, let’s attempt to balance out those incredible ongoing losses with the benefits of Iraq’s supposed liberation. For one, “the evil dictator Saddam Hussein…Hitler revisited” was deposed along with his porous army and political party. I suppose the “War Dogs” that corpratized warfare in Iraq and the larger War on Terror made, and continue to rake in, massive profits? I’m sure some of the largest businesses in the energy field have done well privatizing the 2nd largest oil reserves in the entire world? As far as I can tell the entire mission can only be judged a failure of epic proportions that will no doubt be recorded in history for the massive human toll it has, and still is, exacting upon the world.

But this is little more than my humble opinion, right? I mean, take a listen around the media in America and try to find any serious voices that agree with my assessment. It’s just down right un-American to judge the war and a living President so harshly, despite how apple-pie American it is to “tell it like it is.” About as close as you’ll get to a US corporate journalist denigrated the Bush Administration so poignantly is commentary along the lines of: “Saddam was evil, so that was a good thing but,…you know, Iran, Syria, Libya, the Arab Spring, al-Qaeda in Iraq, WMD’s, etc ad infinitum.”

This is not to say that true scholars such as Andrew Bacevich haven’t echoed my assessment, -or mine theirs- of the 2003 Iraq War. Or professional journalists like Jeremy Scahill at The Intercept, it’s just these voices, when rarely heard in the mainstream, are typically mocked by some counter-pundit like Paul Wolfiwitz while simultaneously undercut by a partisan ideologue who cannot go so far as to say they were utterly and completely wrong back in 2002-03. It’s going to be hard as hell to face up to the total mess of this war, however, like it or not, a reckoning will come. An epic failure such as it is will no doubt push back.

As a participant in the initial invasion in March 2003, I bear my own responsibility and suffer my own lifelong scars. When I deployed to Afghanistan in 2002, I held a deep belief that our mission to destroy al-Qaeda was a righteous one that was worth the sacrifice. I can say now without pause that the day I learned we would be refitted for Iraq while continued operations to hunt al-Qaeda in the AfPak weren’t fully realized, was the day I began to drift from righteous to dismayed. I was not alone in my early frustrations, yet complete dissent went against almost everything the Army. In retrospect, it’s easy to put it simple: We left Afghanistan and the hunt for those involved in 9/11 to topple a sovereign government, firing its massive military, thus birthing a well-armed, well-trained, bored, angry militia we named “The Insurgency,” that now calls itself the Islamic State or ISIL.

So yeah, we couldn’t have fucked it up any worse if we had wanted to. And to put it all rather bluntly, the ultimate responsibility for this modern-day fiasco falls upon President George W. Bush. Unless there was a secret coup d’etat that controlled foreign policy in 2003, then George W. Bush is the person most responsible for this disaster. Just on the orbit of US foreign policy, has there ever been an US President so culpable for such destruction and mayhem? Sure, WWII led the US President’s FDR and Harry Truman to order massive destruction upon Germany and the Empire of Japan. The difference in terms of culpable morality is stark.

Take stock in the Bush Administration’s initial term; 2001-05. It’s a fair argument to claim Bush shouldn’t be held accountable for the 9/11 attacks, despite the certainty of guilt laid at the feet of Obama had the enormous terrorist attack happened during his Presidency. Bush cannot be absolved the crimes associated with his torture/rendition policy or the unprovoked attack upon Iraq, a sovereign nation and member of the United Nations. At minimum, these calculated operations must not be ignored or go unpunished, if we intend to continue thinking of ourselves as a nation of laws, “the indispensable nation.” To simply claim “this was war, bad things happen in war,” only muddies the future of a reasonable world order. The United States has hanged many who made that claim, or that they were “just following orders.” Our credibility will be bankrupt until our government addresses these hypocrisies. Keeping our heads buried in the sand, so to speak, will only prolong the inevitable reckoning. History proves over and over this fundamental truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EARN MY VOTE: AMERICAN RADICAL

The older I get, the less ideological my positions become. I suppose this is the case with many American’s, I just never believed the rule would include me? Of course, it’s not 100% true. Gay marriage for example, was beyond my scope of liberal thinking 20 years ago. An ex-girlfriend who I still have immense respect for, argued the point with me. I was all for “civil unions,” but marriage, that seemed more in the realm of the Church. I was wrong, of course, and can only laugh at my innocent ignorance and unconscious bigotry. I thought at the time, I’m cool with gay, civil unions proves my progressive cred, right? And so it goes; at least I’m able to modify my core beliefs when they are in direct conflict with my sense of morality.

If I have a pet peeve associated with Presidential Election cycles it has to be this knee-jerk argument: “A vote for a 3rd party candidate is a vote for….X. Usually a Republican it seems? The reason being, the GOP has an entirely different, more in your face strategy, for influencing elections. Liberals use shame; Conservatives use the law. Get over it Liberal’s, I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton…and I’m sure as fuck not voting for Donald Trump. I might not vote at all, so there. My so-called “protest vote” is exactly that, whether I file a 2016 ballot or not. If Donald Trump gets elected, it won’t be because of me, or fellow voters like me. It will be because Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate that didn’t earn our votes. Period.

The same failed logic is used to blame Ralph Nader voters in Florida for the George W. Bush disaster. Of all the data points you could reference to make a case for Al Gore’s loss, the Ralph Nader is the laziest, least democratic and poorly thought out. Another words, the perfect excuse for Liberal pundits like Bill Maher and Joan Walsh. I’d start out with Al Gore’s shitty campaign that ran away from the most popular Democratic President in a generation for one. Or how about the fact that if Gore would have won his home State of Tennessee, Bush would have lost, even with Florida? Or how about the fact that the one State that became a controversy, Florida, just happened to have as Governor, Jeb Bush, the President Elect’s brother, as well as his Florida campaign chairperson, who just happened to be in charge of elections in the State? Combine any or all of these factors with the fact that Democrats are whiny weaklings, and sure…let’s blame Ralph Nader.

I say; if you are stupid, please don’t vote. If you are voting just because some celebrity urged you to do your duty, please stay home. If Donald Trump gets elected because a plurality of our fellow citizens actually believe he has their best interest at heart, will fix Washington DC or will “Make America McGreat Again,” maybe we deserve the thump on the head? Maybe the shock of a Trump Administration -I cannot believe it’s actually even possible- is just the sort of sour milk we need to clean out the intestinal crud that is our current system of governing? Maybe a Clinton Administration simply continues this drip, drip, drip of increasingly out of touch, Aristocratic, beltway governing, that is becoming more and more based on legalized bribery and out of control Executive power based on the theory of Constitutional War Power’s, despite the fact that Congress hasn’t declared War since December 11th, 1941.

Okay, that was a lot of commentary for one single sentence. I could be completely wrong and Hillary Clinton might end up in the same conversation as an FDR or JFK? And maybe a Trump win could end in more of a fatal blow than a severe concussion? Or it might be that the Presidency is more rhetorical power than it is transformational power, and little will change no matter the outcome November 9th? What do I mean? I look at President Obama and I have to wonder: Is it possible that he actually does want to close GITMO and reduce nuclear arms and simply cannot, despite being the POTUS? Maybe there is an underlying power structure, -The Deep State- that limits certain policy goals? Or at least there are forces so strong only the boldest and brashest of President could effectively overcome their resistance? It’s possible, maybe even likely?

What does all this mean for me? Maybe I’m not a Liberal or Progressive? Maybe these counter current positions I gravitate towards make me a Radical? Does that make me dangerous? I’d like to think it represents an open-minded, historically adept, position? Maybe though, in this climate, it’ll simply get me put on a “watch list?”

Then I’ll know for sure that I’m right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?