Sunday, June 21, 2015

Plus 9

It feels like open season on black people in this perverse country. Add nine more to the count for the year. I believe that Black Lives Matter, but they still matter far less than white lives.

The Fox News twist is that the killings were an assault on “Christians.” This is one of the network’s major tropes, repeated and echoed by all their demented celebrity mouthpieces. The white shooter isn’t a terrorist, claim the Fox propagandists, he was defending Christianity from assault by liberals.

If the victims had been white, the shooter black, the media would use words like “thug” and “predator” to describe him; if the victims had been white and the shooter a Muslim, the media would label him a terrorist.

The flag of the old confederacy still flies above the capitol in South Carolina.

President Obama wrings his hands and claims these mass killings must stop, but he will not spend much time arguing with Congress about handgun control; Obama is very busy trying to obtain fast-track approval for the TPP, a payback to his corporate masters. We’ll get some lip service from the White House about gun control, a moving speech or two, some tears, but no action.

Let’s face it, for the foreseeable future crazy people will obtain handguns, and innocent people will be shot. We are a violent nation, at home, and abroad. This isn’t about to change.

Racism in America is reflexive. Dr. King was murdered nearly 50 years ago, and here we are, mourning black victims of a white man with racist demons in his head and his heart.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Chess Pieces

“American foreign policy – like that of most states – is based not on justice but on power.”   Robert Fisk

So, it will take a generation to subdue ISIS, the brutal and sadistic murderers who would not exist if the US had not invaded Iraq in 2003. Pity the people who get in their way, particularly women.

The US will send more “advisors” and build more outposts in Iraq, as if this tactic has any chance of succeeding. We’ve tried it, and it failed, but because we are the essential nation, the world’s global police force, not to mention the biggest badass on the block, we reserve the right to do stupid shit over and over.

Who is the enemy and who are our friends? Who can we trust today, and will we be able to trust them tomorrow? The stupidity of George and Dick tipped the bottle over, released the genie, and Obama has stayed the disastrous course. We’re out, back in, and for what? And this is how it’s going to play for another generation?

When it comes to the Middle East, America is blinded by a deadly combination of ignorance and arrogance.
The US doesn’t understand the Middle East, never has, and most likely never will. We support the monarchs of Saudi Arabia no matter how many of their own people have their heads lopped off in public rituals; we count the dictator of Egypt among our bosom pals; and Israel, darling Israel, can do no wrong in our eyes, even when Israel’s hands are covered with the blood of innocent Palestinian children.

The conditions are perfect for endless war and profitable arms deals.

Writing for the website Counterpunch, John Wight notes that, “In 2015 the parallels between Cambodia and the Middle East are undeniable. The conditions, as mentioned, out of which ISIS has emerged and proliferated were created by the West’s destabilising presence in the region, with the objective of controlling the huge natural resources located there.”

Cambodia paid a horrific price at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. And who made the Khmer Rouge possible? The fingerprints are undeniable.

The average American citizen like myself looks in vain for cooler, wiser heads. We lack the agency to change the course of American foreign policy. Our views and opinions are irrelevant to the ruling class. They want the liquid gold buried in the ground in the Middle East and are willing to kill for it, even if it takes another 25 years.

John Wight again: “Just as with Southeast Asia in the 1970s, in 2015 the world is suffering at the hands of men in expensive suits, sitting in Western capitals, who view the world as a chessboard – with countries and peoples reduced to chess pieces on that board to be moved around and removed at their whim and fancy.”

Sunday, June 07, 2015

The Last Laugh

The chosen one waits for her coronation
making speeches, shaking hands, kissing babies
passing herself off as
one of us
another downwardly mobile commoner
toting a list of grievances

Watch what she does, ignore what she says
we’ve seen her kind

The best and brightest are relics of Camelot
this is the age of dull and dumb
small and fearful minds

Duopoly party retreads strain to convince
us that they have the answers to
all that ails the nation

What they offer is more of the same
more salt in our wounds

Money has poisoned the landscape
legitimized callousness and cruelty
legalized bribery
turned avarice
from vice to virtue
made ghetto wages

Laughing hysterically Karl Marx
watches the capitalists
cannibalize the structures that made
their wealth possible

Pirates of modern finance strip the value
from every useful enterprise
like jackals stripping the flesh
from a carcass

Wealth flows from bottom to top
and the poor are expected to compete
with the wretched of the world for scraps

The nation fails its senior citizens and
fails students and workers
fails forests and rivers

But when all is said and done
when the ruins smoke
and hiss
when the sky weeps
toxic tears
the rocks and the dust will have the last laugh

Monday, May 25, 2015

On the Side of a Pot-holed Road

“When we give up false hopes, when we see human nature and history for what they are, when we accept that progress is not preordained, then we can act with an urgency and passion that comprehends the grim possibilities ahead.” Chris Hedges, columnist, Truthdig

The lawn at my in-laws house is dying, and it is not alone; many lawns are dying here on the Platinum Coast. The drought continues in California, in the same inexorable manner that conflict in the Middle East continues. I fill a two-gallon can with water and pour it around the base of the fig tree, then refill the can and do the same for the avocado tree. The fig tree looks healthy, despite the drought, but I don’t think the avocado is going to make it.

My mother-in-law has been ill with a bacterial infection; my father-in-law has early Alzheimer’s. My wife and I are witness to their slow, steady decline. My father-in-law hides screwdrivers and light bulbs and AA batteries, and then cannot remember where he hid them. He shuffles around the garage, searching in vain for these things. It’s heartbreaking to watch, but it is life, the way it goes for every single human being. We are prone to illness, disease, decline and death. No way around it. We have to reconcile ourselves to these facts at the same time we try to live with hope and purpose.

The hope part is difficult, for me, very difficult. I see the stupidity and cupidity of my own government, the venality of corporate leaders, and the vacuity of most of the American media establishment, and I feel despair, not hope. Take what’s happening in Iraq for example. The US has led a campaign of airstrikes against ISIS targets for the past ten months, and yet ISIS was able last week to seize the city of Ramadi. As is becoming commonplace, the Iraqi security forces that the US spent nearly a decade training and equipping, turned tail and retreated, leaving weapons and other equipment behind.

Americans are told – indoctrinated is more accurate – to believe that our military power can solve any problem; our aircraft and bombs, our pilots, our technology, are of such quality that we can pick out a single target – a bad guy – and take him out, him alone, without collateral damage. This is insane bullshit, of course, but many of my countrymen buy it, particularly over a patriotic weekend like this one. But if we are so awesome, why is ISIS able to grab more territory and spread more terror?

Americans seem to me like a nation of people with their heads jammed deep in the sand. We have allowed corporate and government power to form a real evil axis, and we can see – or would be able to see if we looked closely – that the one reinforces the rule of the other. Corporations and the wealthy buy political favors from politicians, and politicians write laws to reward their corporate benefactors. Democracy is essentially a joke because voters are never given a choice between any real alternatives; our choices lie within a narrow spectrum that center on the infallibility of capitalism and the projection of military might. No line of questioning or thought, and no policy proposal that seriously challenges the acceptable spectrum, is allowed a hearing. Our political leaders do not answer to us – they have another constituency and they serve it with slavish devotion. Democracy is a meaningless label. Without real choices of parties and candidates, voting is a waste of time.

How is one to be hopeful when the most critical issue of our time, human alteration of the earth’s climate, is simply ignored by our corporate masters and their political lackeys? Oil company CEO’s and their brigades of lawyers and lobbyists will go to their graves protesting that the science isn’t definitive, that there is still a shred of doubt that burning oil and coal and fracking for natural gas is harmful to the environment. They might be choking, but they will not recant the insane beliefs that lined their purses.

The financial elites that make money playing games with money, who never build anything of lasting value, who take and take and take, will go to their graves insisting that financial capitalism is the greatest evolutionary development in the history of the world. Forget that it produces, all over the planet, stupendous wealth for some, staggering misery for millions, and environmental degradation for all of us.

The hope and change bandwagon broke down on the side of a pot-holed road years ago. Thieves stole the tires, the rims and hubcaps; scavengers stripped the machine of everything that was left.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ugly Little Liars

I always assumed that the official tale of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was bullshit. There were too many holes in the White House and mainstream media narrative, but the holes were papered over in the rah-rah and the gushing over the heroics of Seal Team 6. I frankly didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Yes, Osama bin Laden was a sociopath – no argument there – but what’s the essential difference between the murder he organized and the murder inflicted on Gaza by Israel two times in the past five years?

The killing of bin Laden was a political opportunity, and Barack Obama used it to paint himself as a decisive military leader. It was his Bush “Mission Accomplished” moment, but did it bring the absurd, wasteful and counterproductive War on Terror to an end?

Of course not. The War on Terror is a bonanza for the military-security complex and a host of private intelligence and mercenary corporations, and as long as the money flows, the war will go on.

Let’s not forget that Osama bin Laden was a fugitive for nearly a decade after claiming responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. He was the world’s most wanted criminal, prime target of every intelligence and military asset the US and its allies possessed, but all that time he eluded detection and capture. Ironically, it appears the Pakistanis – our stalwart allies in the War on Terror (wink, wink) -- knew where bin Laden was for almost five years.

Seymour Hersh, one of the greatest investigative journalists ever, has written a 10,000 word article for the London Review of Books that yanks the pretty wrapping paper from the official bin Laden story. The White House immediately issued a classic non-denial denial, meaning Obama’s spin-doctors ignored specifics and condemned the whole; numerous pundits have jumped on the bandwagon to discredit Hersh.

If Hersh’s sources are reliable, bin Laden was, for all intents and purposes, neutralized, under virtual house arrest by the Pakistanis. He wasn’t masterminding deadly Al Qaeda operations, and when the Seals blew his shit into the next world, he wasn’t armed, either. The most dangerous terrorist on the planet went down without a struggle. The Seals never came under fire.

The truth of the bin Laden raid is too mundane for the Pentagon and Hollywood. What was needed was a tale of American bravery and daring: the Pakistanis had no idea the US was coming, Osama bin Laden was armed to the teeth, the CIA located him with the help of “enhanced” interrogation techniques, etc.

Governments lie, they always have, they always will, and that is why an independent, inquisitive press is so vital in a democracy.