Quit Knee-Jerking us Around @realDonaldTrump #flagburning

Eating breakfast this morning I happened to catch a report on CNN about some University in Massachusetts where a group of students had burned an American flag in response to the election of Donald Trump. It wasn’t clear -or I missed- whether more than a single flag had been destroyed, or several. My immediate reaction was “big deal, who cares?” And then the story progressed….

The local Mayor city was interviewed. His opinion was something like, and I am paraphrasing: many veteran’s attend this college and this act was tantamount to treason. That it was totally disrespecting their sacrifice….blah-babaty-blah-blah. It wasn’t clear if the Mayor is a veteran himself though, nevertheless, as I see it, in this case, it makes zero difference.

And of course -disturbingly- our Prez-Elect Trump already tweeted about the situation. Something like: people who burn the flag should go to prison, or, lose their citizenship? Yikes! Albeit, most of what Trump says erupts from a sense complete ignorance, in my humble opinion, as it were. Tomorrow he might completely reverse this position -after speaking to some attorney he respects- similar to his about-face on torture….or not, who fucking knows? Point being, a POTUS so utterly reactionary, one prone to such knee-jerk impulse, will be -and is- unprecedented, in modern times.

Okay. many veteran’s might believe burning the flag is disrespectful, sure. That does not mean it is, or should be illegal. Especially since the very 1st amendment in the Bill of Rights, in the US Constitution, grants all men -women too, much later- the right of free speech, including the right to peacefully protest the government ones grievances.

And what could be more peaceful than burning some fabric on the sidewalk, or a college square, as it were? Disrespectful does not reach the criminal level of injurious or illegal. The Supreme Court has already ruled on this very thing, indemnifying the act as legal and protected under the 1st, 5th, & 13th amendment’s of the Constitution…the United States Constitution…to include ignorant kids that may wear pleather sandals and live in mom’s basement.

Donald Trump’s reactionary positions actually leads me to worry less about his ability to become a true tyrant. He’s not intelligent or cunning enough to cause wide-spread lasting damage. Yes, I could be wrong? So what? What should be feared more are the true lunatics out there suddenly feeling empowered to act out in destructive, truly abhorrent ways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Torturers R’ Us: Moral Hazard Pardoned

In response to the devastating Senate Report on Torture, President Obama stated, I’m paraphrasing, “litigating the past will do us no good. We must look to the future.” At first glance this approach may sound reasonable enough, however, this course, a guiding principle of Obama’s administration, is fraught with thinking errors and inconsistent with our supposed legal ethos. Imagine prisoners serving time in prison grappling with such impotent language? “The government certainly litigated my past. I wasn’t convicted of future crimes, but rather, those committed in the so-called past.” Two other issues are evident in this injurious way of thinking: By not prosecuting the crimes, the American people assume the practices were necessary. By not prosecuting the crimes, moral hazard is vacated, assuring a repeat of the same crimes by future administrations.

Along comes President Elect Donald Trump. A man who stated, and I quote, “we’re gonna bring back waterboarding and a whole lot worse.” He actually campaigned on a promise to break the law, going so far as to suggest he’d place former CIA agent Jose Rodriguez in charge of the agency. The same Rodriguez who birthed the practices then burned the video cassettes containing contemporaneous visual evidence of the monstrosities. If you want to blame someone for the future practices of a Trump Administration look no further than Barrack Obama.

I’m not writing this in a political sense. This is important to me because I was on the front lines of this fight while serving in the army during the Bush years. I can barely live with the fact that I bear my own responsibility for prosecuting these policies, unwittingly or not. The men I served with did not torture or abuse those we detained. I did not know the extent to which our policies supported these brutalities. I’m also not sure what I would have, or could have done had I known? Our unit was commanded by officers who stressed the rules of war and the mission to protect and support civilians caught up in between those we sought and our mission to protect the man on either side of you in battle. Brutality was not completely absent, nevertheless, it was acknowledged and addressed in its aftermath.

The things I’ve learned since leaving the Army from excellent journalism and reports like the Senate’s report on torture are as astonishing as they are abhorrent. The treatment many of these detainees were subjected to can only be described as felonious and un-American. That these practices were not only encouraged, but US government official policy, seems the definition of criminal. Just because your lawyer says a law is no longer justified, doesn’t make it legal. Just because you believe the Geneva Conventions are “quaint,” doesn’t mean you can table the agreed upon rules of war. Remember, Nixon once said, “if the President does it, it’s not illegal.” That’s the language of an autocrat. That’s not the Constitutional principles we ascribe to as American’s. The fate of Richard Nixon and most of his henchmen bears this truth out.

What does any of this mean for the ordinary veteran, or for that matter, the ordinary American? It’s impossible to say or even predict. In a binary world, the choice between Trump or Clinton feels a bit pathetic. Our country faces a moral crises overtly under Trump just as it would have quietly under Clinton.

My own struggle with the wars we continue to fight goes on regardless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CATASTROPHIZING @realDonaldTrump: Hissy-Fit/Armageddon Edition

President Donald Trump.?! WTF? It’s the age-old question: Times make the man or, man makes the times? Is Trump simply at right place, right time, or, more troubling still: Is it Trump and his like that will transform the time? My best thinking results in a simpler answer to his win. The bottom rung of this theory is Clinton the candidate. I will try to explain.

Like some Hitchcock film, Obama and Trump lunch as equals…

My first thought after listening to one pundit after another sob with abject fear of the Trump Presidency is: “Are these folks a little bitter and a lot paranoid? Are they “catastrophizing,” as we used to say in group? It’s the end of the Republic, the world even, according to most news folks, liberal pundits and ancient elitist’s. Maybe? And maybe we should take a deep breath, put down the pumpkin spice lattes, and consider our history?

We survived the British Empire’s anger after declaring our independence. We survived the Civil War. We survived the Great War, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam and Richard Nixon. We survived the Cold War, a steady tension over 40 years, with thousands of thermonuclear weapons addressed USA, able to be fired in minutes, wiping out the entire modern world, if not human beings themselves? We survived 9/11 and the Bush Administrations lawlessness. And we survived several epic financial crisis including the Great Depression and the 2008 Great Recession. So???? Pump your brakes already.

I have said this many times: I would not vote for Trump, but I wouldn’t vote for Clinton either. An overwhelming number of voters had a similar outlook, with just enough of them saying “fuck it,” why not? The crazy part for Dem’s is that the numbers exposed this truth early on.

To say Trump voters, in general, are stupid or uninformed is exactly the analysis that resulted in the Clinton machine loss. It’s the bubble and the echo chamber that rings with terms like “white/uneducated” “working class whites” & “altright,” talking points for 5 minute news segments that drip with condescension and hubris. Polls are worthless anywhere outside of a campaign’s strategy session. They are worse than news, they are simplistic, targeted, and biased.

Here’s something you may have heard? If a site like 538.com -the Mauri Povich of political news- or others say candidate x has a 90% chance of prevailing, we still know nothing useful. Zero! In elections, two things, you win or you lose. Percentages are for blackjack and slugging averages. The fact that all the topical programs rely almost exclusively on polling to present the news, leads me to believe, it’s not the voters for either candidate who are stupid, it’s the news industry and its mouthpieces.

I have more about Trump, but this has exhausted me. He is worrisome on many levels. That’s for later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHANGE THEY CAN BELIEVE IN: #GOP #ELECTION2016 @realDonaldTrump

The world is awash with election analysis, mostly bullshit. As a true believer and political sadist I downloaded a few podcasts last night to get a better understanding of the anger and sorrow sweeping through the Democratic Party. The only reason I’m wading into the pedantic underbelly of this issue is the truly apocalyptic visions most of these hosts, and guests, were predicting come late January, 2017. Wow! Donald Trump brings a worrying set of character flaws to the job, but damn, the suicide hotline?

If liberals can learn anything from this election, it’s gotta be that the Democratic Party must be blown up and reborn, finding new faces to lead ahead. The programs I listened to today, minus The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur, offer little hope for change. These pundits and operatives cannot seem to wrap their minds around a simple concept? So if anyone in that bubble is listening I will type slow so you can keep up:

The #1 reason HRC and the Dem’s lost the election is HRC and the Democratic Party. Not Russia. Not Julian Assange. Not Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. Not the Electoral College. Not Obama. Not white people. Not women. Not Trump’s free media blitz. Not even Trump! She lost because ordinary voters dislike and mistrust her. Many also dislike Donald Trump, but there is possible chance he could upend the status quo. With Hillary there is no chance of change: she is the status quo. 

Are the several points of blame completely irrelevant? Of course not, however, every one of those hurdles were low enough to clear had Mrs. Clinton, or another Democratic candidate, reached out to the electorate with authenticity and a coherent message beyond: Vote for me; I’ll work to keep it business as usual. Even Hillary could have squeaked out a victory with an open, authentic candidacy. Bet. What the party wouldn’t accept from the jump, was those things, being authentic and unguarded, are not within her capability in the context of addressing the public writ large. She is who she is: “a public and private” face that’s beyond modification after 40 years under the hot lights.

Liberals do like Obama, warts and all. He offered a message of change that I initially believed in too. I still remember that 2008 campaign well. The enthusiasm was electric just about anywhere you went that year. I wrote a few weeks ago how this entire campaign I never saw a single HRC bumper sticker, hat or t-shirt. Anecdotal, I know, but the contrast is stunning.

Bernie Sanders may have lost too? It’s a counterfactual that’s unanswerable. He did generate tremendous vigor in the electorate similar to Obama, all minus meaningful media coverage, unlike the Obama campaign. Who knows how many he could have reached with the establishment behind him, however reluctantly? I say, despite being a fellow Jew and democratic socialist, he would have won states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. The numbers suggested as much back in May-June. And that’s without mainstream media airtime. He had a message. I would have voted for him. I knew others who would have. Clinton though; nobody ever told me in person they were voting for her…so?

I suppose after sharing all this amateur gibberish, a short piece on Trump is only fair and balanced? That could cost a whole lot of energy? What about Biden? You think he is kicking himself? Whatever!

Clinton was deeply flawed in a time of populism and fear driving the vote. I wish her well. I do believe she IS a good person under the masks of public opinion. She’s damn tough, that’s undeniable. Making it this long in what is still a man’s world takes true grit.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do I Miss About the Time Before Fear? #IAVA #Iraq

This isn’t going to be an essay on the possible horrors, or successes of the coming Trump administration. Speculating on such matters is pointless and worn out. My writing here is focused on love and war, or war and love, as it were. These pages are like my practice court, shooting free throws. A safe place to improve my sophomoric writing skills, develop my critical thought, and disseminate onto paper, my inner conflicts and personal demons. More about feelings than thoughts, emotion rather than analysis.

This is how I feel tonight…

The generation that survived World War II grows smaller each year. It seems fair to say that these American’s were the last to experience and suffer through an era that truly represented an existential crisis for the US, that could have radically altered our freedom and liberty. When FDR spoke of fear -“the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself-” at the height of the Great Depression, his message was true…and almost antithetical to the messages we hear today from many of our political leaders and elite. Their message is closer to: “we should be afraid.” Of what exactly? Terrorism? China? Putin? Trump? Socialism? All of the above? If my Grandparents were alive today, they would scoff at such things.

We should be aware of those spreading fear, not to shut them up, but not to follow them either. And understand their motivations.

After 9/11 I enlisted in the Army to be a grunt, to do my small part for a country that I believed in. It wasn’t out of fear that I offered myself up, to the contrary, it was a sense of duty that one should feel living such a privileged life on the shoulders of the selfless that stood before. Did I believe Osama bin Laden was an existential threat to America? No. Did I believe we had a collective duty to apply justice and do our best to prevent further damage? Yes, of course.

Sadly, for the country and the world, our leaders and government quickly lost sight of our ideals and their own duty, eventually and slowly, modifying our ethos, our “American myth of exceptionalism,” for reasons such as greed, pride and fear. The shift was profound and pervasive to degrees increasing today.

As we surged into south into Iraq in 2003, there was excitement, trepidation, fear and uncertainty among the professional soldiers within my small unit. There are always a few of the “hoorah, freedom and America is the best-est” soldiers who believed the United States could do no wrong, but more so, we privately questioned our mission and morality. We weren’t ruthless killers or immovably immoral and robotic. It was fucked up from the start, and all the way through to Mosul, our final stop before shipping back stateside 11 months later.

Unlike Afghanistan at the time, where we had relatively clear rules of engagement and substantive missions, in Iraq the mission shifted from day-to-day, with new directives from time to time that seemed intentionally sadistic. Like the folks running the war actually wanted chaos and strife to erupt? To this day you cannot tell me there wasn’t some of this intentional rub taking place for whatever reason. Period.

There is no bottom to my sorrow when it comes to my feelings about Iraq and that war I participated in. Even though I knew it wasn’t right, almost from the beginning, I was too cowardly to make a stand and refuse my orders. Of the 30 or so soldiers I worked with daily and trusted, there is at least 8 others who today feel the same. Sadly, 2 others took their own lives following their military service. Undoubtedly, they were haunted by the same ghosts I meet each day.

It just hits me like a lightening bolt, bringing this shit to the surface. I’m not ready. It feels still, smells somehow? The stench of a battlefield, the human smells mixed with the earth and fuel and steel and gunpowder, is a sense that permeates the memory and stains my devilish hands. There is no washing it away, this mark of evil, like the devils piss.

Is Trump our best hope to rescind these wars of fear and misplaced, misunderstood anger? Not likely, in fact, his nature portends escalation and compounded misery, holding no empathy close, a position somehow greater in disdain than Obama and Bush. Bomb the hell out of them. “I’ll bring back waterboarding, and a whole lot worse.”

Chart a return to that course Mister President Elect and our people, our culture, our society and any mythical exceptionalism left is lost for good…if not already gone. There is the blurry vision of our dispassionate citizenry still believing in our character, but it is largely delusional? I will reserve final judgement for now, lest I be the hypocrite for today.

I’m afraid of the devil. Is there a hell? Something tells me in the end we simply return to the dirt, but I cannot be sure. I’ve punished myself for the sins of war. There has to be a greater atonement?

My eyes are brimming with so many tears. Not for that idealized vision of America I was taught, even believed, as a young man, but for all the souls sacrificed so senselessly. Was it ever really true? At least the question was rhetorical once, unlike our possible future and the answers to come.

A rapid descent into the flames of human nature. Who will stand up to the monster if not us; we’ve met him, he looks just like a reflection.

Does any of this matter? I’ll still wake up alone tomorrow, wishing I could forget you until the moment passes and I open my eyes.

I’m crying from my eyes, but the body is dead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#MICHIGAN? A Fitting Finale For Democracy

What if Michigan was the State that ends up swinging the election to Donald Trump? Is there a more manifestly iconic city in the United States than Detroit to exemplify the destructive forces of globalization and neoliberalism upon this economy? The heartbeat of the rust belt, once the 5th largest city in America, now the 5th biggest in the State of Michigan. A city that resembled the Middle East at times post-2008, as fires raged unchecked in once prosperous neighborhoods, along Oak lined streets with names like Cambridge, Eton and Dartmouth. A city that declared bankruptcy and was forced to auction off precious works of art and culture once displayed with pride in its modern, glamorous museum. A world-class theatre and opera, basically gone. Several of the largest manufacturing factories ever built, now poked and in ruin, labyrinths of crime, narcotics and temporary homes for the distant relatives of a once proud citizenry. A destination for black families escaping the Jim Crow south, -the great migration, or, the great chase, as it were- offering well-paying union jobs that helped build slivers of wealth within a once indigent community of dedicated, hard working, families simply looking for a chance to shine.

And now, tonight, election 2016 may sow the seeds of a temporary revenge? An angry, proud, -white- forgotten people of privilege just may have pulled the pin on a political grenade of epic power, rolling it across the floor of this country, towards a Washington elite far too dismissive of this multi-generational perverse, reverse sort of gentrification.

But who knows, maybe she will win and everything will stay cool?

DEAD SOLDIERS: WHO GIVES A SHIT

How many people out there in America realize we suffered 6 casualties yesterday in the Afghanistan War? 2 Killed in action, 4 severely injured American soldiers fighting with partner Afghan forces. How is this not newsworthy? It really is shocking that in the midst of a heated Presidential campaign neither candidate bothers mentioning these ongoing war’s, let alone the US Forces giving their lives to wage them. Why? It is a sad state of affairs and portends a serious lack of leadership and vision from both camps in finally bringing these 14+ year long wars to a close. I’m afraid it signals an acceptance to the status quo with our current policy, or lack there of, as it were?

Would the death of two American’s, in addition to 4 seriously wounded, in a school, a fire, a traffic accident or a plane crash receive less attention by the election dependent, i.e, addicted, media? It’s “sad,” as Trump might end a tweet. Or as Clinton might say: “we need to care about all Americans, in all states, of every color…bla, bla,” bullshit.

From the moment I joined my unit and deployed to Afghanistan our leaders would endlessly spout shit about how “our sacrifices would never be forgotten,” or, “your country will not forget.” Clearly this is patently false. How can the country forget these soldiers who were never even counted? I’m sure the wives, children, mother’s and father’s getting knocks on their doors by a death notification team leader. Here’s what the US Army manual has to contribute

“The Next of Kin will be notified promptly in an appropriate dignified and understanding manner by a uniformed service representative. He/she will wear the Class “A” uniform and present a soldierly appearance when making notification.”

So, they’ll be counted by the family and the Army. The POTUS will likely phone the families of the deceased. As far as the wider public who bear the greatest responsibility for the continued actions go…a comfortable silence from the ignorant majority. 

If it seems like I’m angry, not exactly. I’m complacently irate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YES SIR #MILITARY WILL VOTE #TRUMP

Military support for Donald Trump comes as no surprise to me, especially support from enlisted and NCO troops. Whether true or not, Republicans are thought to be more adept with foreign relations than Democrats, e.g., more likely to go to war. There’s also a pervasive current of sexism and homophobia that permeates the Hoorah Joe culture in the US Military, both of which are associated with the liberals. The math is therefore quite simple: Hillary Clinton is a woman, a liberal, LGBT friendly, and worst of all: an elitist politician.

The media largely promotes the idea that if you’re not comfortable with, or cannot stand Trump, you’ll most likely be voting for Clinton. This might hold water in the civilian world, but is definitely not true among active duty military. Plus, as an active duty soldier you are often not permitted to discuss politics in uniform, and if a television is tuned into a news station, 9 times out of ten, it will be FOX News. Add it all up and you get a consistent result: the military will be voting Republican no matter the nominee.

No matter the nominee. No matter the Democratic candidate. Period.

 

 

 

 

 

#Weiner compromised by #Russia?

Why do I feel as though we’re all living out a season of “The Americans,” the great show from FX that follows an undercover Russian family of spies, living near Washington DC, at the height of the Cold War? It would be just like these clever infiltrators to trap the spouse of a high level government operator in order to leverage the sharing classified material. We have former Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York who resigned his seat following revelations of his sexting issues. By chance, he is the husband of a longtime Hillary Clinton associate Huma Abideen. Then, coincidentally, this pervert finds himself caught up again, this time with an alleged 15-year-old kid. Further, a computer Weiner shared with his wife, used both to correspond with the likely next President of the United States, as well as a child in some pedophilia nature? Sounds like Hollywood to me, no?

I’m surprised this theory hasn’t been considered by the media? Or if it has been, the coverage missed me. Another way to look at this is, senior aides to Secretary Clinton thought it acceptable that they leave storage devices that almost certainly held highly classified information just lying around unsecured?

Clinton’s deliberate use of a private communication system, networked to many devices yet to be found, is a much bigger deal than the media, the FBI, the President or the Clinton campaign has been willing to admit. If this scheme had been carried out by a group of people not associated with Hillary Clinton, the FBI and the Justice Department would have come down on them like a sack of rocks. There would not be a basic blanket of immunity offered to the key players of the investigation. There would be no FBI press conference explaining in detail the results of the investigation. Oops I made a mistake isn’t a legal defense.

I cannot stand the thought of a Trump Presidency. I’m about there with a Clinton Presidency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!