Archive for April, 2012

30
Apr
12

BTW, There’s a War Going On

It’s an enemy to all mankind
The point of war blows my mind
War has caused unrest
Within the younger generation
Induction then destruction
Who wants to die

Edwin Starr, “War”

 Yes people, lest we forget, there is a war going on in Afghanistan that we and a number of nations’ troops are engaged with, running ten years and beyond, and spokespeople for this mess continue to delude us with a promised close to the thing. Andrew Davies of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (we’re supposed to be listening to him now on this matter) says that he thinks there are some reasons to be cautiously optimistic’ about outside troop intervention in that war torn country, as far as getting the hell out of there goes. He followed that up by stating “I think if the last 10 years has shown us anything, then the ability of the outside world to influence the future of Afghanistan in the long term is fairly minimal.”

 Really? It took ten years of people dying or getting their limbs blown off over there to come to the conclusion that we aren’t really accomplishing much of anything? Our Administration’s current schedule shows 2014 being the most current posted date that we will withdraw our troops, allowing Afghan forces to take over the fight against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. Two more years, with no solid guarantee-and the real kicker is, no one in America can do much about it. The ball is in play, procedures for evacuation must be adhered to, yadda yadda yadda, more dead people. Does anyone still believe that we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here? The only constructive thing I can see coming out of that mess in the foothills of Kabul and surrounding areas is, it gives troops a great on-the-job training opportunity, and that statement alone, is pretty grim to face. If the United States were to take our fighting forces and work ten years (plus) in the fields of Uganda fighting the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) I would be a bit more understanding. War is a terrible thing no matter when, where or why it happens, but we are not a perfect race of beings, and it will happen. The big question is, what’s worth fighting for?

 Back in 1961 Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram devised a series of tests which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. He had the participants sit in a room next to a small box with buttons on it. The test subjects were led to believe the box was wired with electricity to someone in another room. They were instructed to push a button each time the individual in the other room answered a question wrong, which would send an electric shock to this person; each button was described as having an increased amount of voltage, therefore, every time they got a question wrong, the electric jolt would increase. The people weren’t actually hooked up to electricity but they managed to carry on as if they were causing some real trauma to the individual at the button’s control.

 The final conclusions drawn from the Milgram studies showed Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become ‘agents in a terrible destructive process, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality*’. Somewhere in the last decade or so it seems a lot of people have forgotten about this menacing little test and what it says about us as a species. Most of us have been given that hypothetical question by someone, asking if we would kill another individual if our family or loved ones were being threatened and most people will admit that in the face of outright terror like that, they could easily take a life. The problem with the chess game warfare overseas is it, it has nothing to do with a direct threat to our family or loved ones (excluding the soldiers in the field over there at this moment). It has unleashed a paranoia among people throughout the world telling us that at any moment, the Taliban will start raining terrorist bombers in our back yards to rape our women and kill our children. This paranoia has caused us to become ‘agents in a terrible destructive process’. We are being told that we must continue to push the metaphoric button, for the better of our country-our world. Yet where are the hordes of Taliban terrorists? We haven’t been attacked by them since…when? Anyone who says that this is due to our increased security and pumped up aggressive military actions is kidding themselves; reread what Davies stated. Let’s end this thing now and start working toward something that counts, something that truly matters.

* Milgram, Stanley (1974). “The Perils of Obedience”. Harper’s Magazine. Abridged and adapted from Obedience to Authority.

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28
Apr
12

Spontaneous Baby Steps

I was momentarily tempted to become a deranged conspiracy theorist in an attempt to track and explain (to myself and to those reading my blog posts) recent rumblings in the courtrooms throughout our country. The thought of setting up some large U.S. map with push pins and red string leads to various cities may be a great hobby but once you get sucked into the quagmire of suspicions, every shadow on the wall means something  to you. People begin to avoid you and rightly so-no one can take the screed of some loon explaining the details of his findings, mysteries wrapped in mysteries, Black Ops bullshit.
Two stories in particular helped goad this on the past week. A nice little article by Jef Otte writing for Westword magazine brought my attention to a parlay of moves the Colorado State lawmakers intend to enforce with updates to a law here prohibiting anyone from sitting or laying down for extended periods of time in the downtown area.  The purpose for this restriction is basically a last ditch, hair splitting addendum to local law aimed at stopping ‘urban camping’; keeping the homeless from sleeping in doorways of LoDo (Lower Downtown) shops, especially on the 16th Street corridor. The ‘sit-lie’ ordinance is on the books in Denver but no effort has been made to issue citations or pick people up for that infraction of the law. Efforts from local Legislators may change that soon, a push many believe has been brought about by the Occupy Denver squatters adding to the growing number of street people here. Another story involving the U.S. Supreme Court’s possible upholding portions of Arizona ‘s Immigration law which would allow police to determine citizenship status during traffic stops-a move that if adopted, would no doubt spread from Arizona to other states.

These two stories reminded me that the movements in our country that change the nation seem to be more influenced by spontaneous actions rather than well thought out plans of some sloth-like group or committee. I served time in the military and discovered that the best laid plans typically came off the cuff and weren’t standard procedure. I know there’s a lot of U.S. Forces testosterone going around out there that want no one to speak ill of the Armed Forces, but in all honesty, the military is pretty much like any other Government organization-it’s nut fucking flaws usually start from the top and work their way down and upon evaluation, prove to waste a lot of time, money and effort for minimal results. On a more grass roots level, the Occupy movement I have followed since fall of 2011 has proven to bear little fruit among the tree of progress with that cause. The most notice that group gets is when they head to the streets and start marching, spontaneous, stopping traffic and causing alarm throughout the downtown area. The individuals of this country seem to draw attention to social issues and get the public engaged, not some closed door organization of politicians led by the reanimated body of Richard Nixon. Our politicians are too busy sending pictures of their junk to pages or shuffling off to the Bahamas for an affair. Remember Trevon Martin and George Zimmerman? Remember Terry Schaivo? Remember Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine shooters? For better or worse, for good cause or naught, these individuals shaped a nation’s opinion and actions by themselves, no government committee or group effort. Some of actions were intentional, some were mere random situations, but there was no conspiracy behind it (except maybe Klebold and Harris, which was a two person conspired effort, not some huge hate group organization). My finishing point is, change in our country seems best addressed by individual efforts rather than relying on some group to get the work down. Yes, it is true that the camel was a horse designed by committee so don’t expect that politician you vote for to cure all the ills of the world, they can barely keep their dick in their pants. Voting is important, but never forget to engage. Hold your fist in the air with defiance. Rely on you.

25
Apr
12

The Media Shell Game; Society’s String Warts

I recently read through some historic news stories that covered the Watergate scandal in this country and can’t stop shaking my head in disgust at how our nation has become sidetracked by fast toys and shiny objects. The infamous Nixon/Watergate scandal hit a new low in modern day politics. Some may argue that during the earlier era of our country a huge amount of corruption took place; quite true and anyone searching for evidence need go no further than the local library to look up the years of nasty politics in Chicago. Laws to prevent liquor sales on election day sprang up after years of voters being led from the bar to the voting booth. Corruption is nothing new but Watergate was the pinnacle of modern party antics from Richard Nixon, John Erlchman, H.R. Haldeman and a few more villainous white collar thugs. A plot to break into Democratic National Headquarters, followed by an attempted coverup of the crime, hit newspapers throughout the world exposing the culprits, sending some to jail and forcing a president into resignation.

One of the notable characteristics the Watergate stories have is they are in print, a fading trend of communication in today’s quick, glib coverage from 24 hour television news channels and an never-ending internet stream. When the Watergate scandal broke out to the public the main thrust of the coverage was handled by the major newspapers because television coverage of the scandal was rather boring. No real action to watch, just a lot of shirts and ties dodging questions or pleading the 5th. The written word supplied an interested public with facts, names, places and kept all readers abreast of the details. Real hush-hush characters were speaking to the press because their picture wasn’t being splashed over the airwaves. You could read the daily information from the Washington Post or the Times and AP wire stories were carried in local fish wrap throughout the nation. I think Watergate was the swan song of news reporting in the U.S. and a new era rang in when a show called Nightline hit the tube. November 8, 1979 marked the beginning of the modern daily news coverage in an effort to feed the public daily information surrounding the Iran hostage crisis. From that fateful day the news and information machine has grown like string warts on the public airwaves and now the monster can’t be stopped.

Media news shows saturate us daily with a shell game approach to informing the public. The tiny pea is under this shell, no, now it switched and it’s under this shell. Before we can focus in on the truth the networks decide to dissuade public opinion to keep a story alive. The truth doesn’t matter anymore, what counts is how long they can bleed a story before viewers tire of it and demand something fresh. The lull of Trevon Martin and George Zimmerman fade before our eyes as we await the next scandal to uncover. Few take more effort than to click ‘like’ on Facebook to show their support/opposition to any given tragedy to hit our country. The true tragedy in the Martin/Zimmerman case is that by the time it gets to trial a large percentage of people will have already forgotten the key players. Do Middle school children even recognize the name Rodney King? Do most people remember the names of the shooters at Columbine (Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris for those keeping score at home)?

If people are willing to call local stations to boycott sponsors of talk shows or demand talking head carnies who pretend to be journalists, wouldn’t we as a nation of viewers be better served by contacting those stations and demanding more solid, informative news? There are enough channels out there to supply us with celebrity gossip, huckster presentations to sell salad shooters and point/counter point debates but if you put ‘News’ in the title of your program, it should contain news. We demand that of cheese for christ sake-anything called cheese must contain cheese. MSNBC can try and sneak around it by hiding behind an acronym but if they tout a tagline saying they are a ‘news source’ I don’t want to hear a lot of presumed banter, please, just the facts. Fox News? I don’t even have enough room on this post to go into those hacks,The most honest reporting we get from news today is during sports-you can’t fudge the numbers there folks. If the Lakers win by 14, the news says ‘the Lakers lost by 14’.

We need to slow down and chew the news slowly rather than gulping it down our throats without even tasting it. Hear the news and draw your own conclusions, quit relying on some fast talking fat swine that has an AM radio show every day or the talking face who blurts out something reactionary. Don’t just hear, listen. demand more of your news providers. Read.

23
Apr
12

The Land of the Slow pt. 2

As I floated through Civic Center Park I began to get the feeling that the salvia/marijuana mixture I concocted and smoked may have been a bit strong. Hallucinations began to pepper this already bizarre landscape with more craziness than I had anticipated. The gentleman dressed up like Superman bouncing around on stilts was easy enough to distinguish as reality but these small black birds with hats that kept following me seemed a little unorthodox, even for the 420 rally. I kept my wits about me and made no move to point out these cursed birds to anyone else, no need to start a panic and if they were real, someone was bound to start pointing at them and say something. I continued my journey through the park and over to the 16th street area, a free walking area for pedestrians. I was hearing Thelonious Monk whisper in my ear; ‘a love supreme….a love supreme’…..everything was distorted, but very peaceful. All the citizens out here were in harmony and cool with one another. There was no brash fights brought on by bouts of inebriation, no fist in the face of the Denver PD, all was good.

In one instant I began to have thought bubbles popping inside my immediate frame of mind, echoes of recent political events rang between Monk’s mantra of ‘a love supreme’…Trevon Martin and George Zimmerman, the secret service prostitution scandal, the General Services Administration lavish abuse and over expenditure at their recent Las Vegas conference, the war on women, war in Afghanistan, growing tensions with Iran. My god, what is our country to do? I looked around and focused (as well as I could) on the serenity and cooperation with which everyone was abiding by at this huge smoke-a-thon. When problems rose up in the crowds of people here, everyone tried together, regardless of their affiliation in society, and worked to improve any ugliness that could have erupted. So why, I wondered, can’t we apply this same strategy toward the current administration’s problems, rather than allowing them to sweep them under the table in the name of Party solidarity? Just because you voted for a Democrat team doesn’t allow them to get away with shoddy management of this country-and what about the Republicans that did not vote for the current politicians in office? Summing up the moral integrity of an individual based on who they voted for will not encourage anyone you oppose to stop and listen to you. We need to sit with one another and hash out the problems here and keep in mind that the actions (or lack thereof ) of certain individuals in office do not necessarily reflect who we are. If I hire some guy to come work on your car and he fucks it up, don’t say I’m the problem-on the same hand, if I hire that guy and he fucks up, I should be responsible enough to go to him and tell him he fucked up and needs to fix it. This is the same with our politicians. If I voted Barack Obama in office and the GSA blows an assload of money on some ostentatious conference, let’s let it be known that this is unacceptable and the President needs to fire some asses, hold the guilty people’s feet to the fire rather than use it as fuel to separate us as citizens. We need to govern together, President, Senator and Representative alike, not allow our two party system to continually plot us  against one another with their dysfunctional behavior. Like this crowd, we need to work as a team to make this place better because our politicians from both parties seem more focused on keeping their job than fixing our country. Let’s smoke a joint (metaphorically if need be) and work with one another for the betterment of the United States, before we turn them into the Divided States of America.

21
Apr
12

Pacing Through the Land of the Slow

You know I felt like blowing to let you know how I was feeling, let me get back to flowin’
I’m going on a little journey
Would you like to come and join me?
Snoop Dog, “1st We Blaze It Up”

There are a lot of popular urban myths associated with the naming of National Marijuana Appreciation Day as 420. Some believe it was the day Bob Marley died (actually 5/11/81), some believe it was the number on the bill to Congress for the legalization of pot (this number was on the bill before Congress in California, however the bill showed up at a later date than the origin of the term ‘420’), some say it’s the penal code number for ‘possession of marijuana’ (untrue-there is no 420 call code). According to David Emery of About.com and Snopes.com, the urban terminology ‘420’ originated from a California high school (San Rafael High School) back in the early 70’s when a bunch of stoners would gather every day at a designated spot to get high, at 4:20, thus the term was encrypted into drug culture lingo and an herbal day of celebration was born. I was anxious to witness the medicated festivity in downtown Denver but had to wait until the early evening hours to get down there. Work came first, then finally, it was on the light rail to what was left of the celebration. Would the event be over, me having missed the biggest freakshow of the year? Time would tell.

My neighbors to the north in Boulder would have their own problems; CU Boulder (Colorado University) has been known as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, ‘party’ school in the country and this year the local governing who-dos were not going to tolerate any out of hand antics. In previous years the campus grounds had become a walking wasteland of people of all ages walking around in a humidor-like fog. This year, council members decided to spray the campus lawns with a particularly foul smelling fish based fertilizer to ward off any meandering heads, as well as implementing increased police security to check folks for campus ID-anyone caught on school grounds that wasn’t a student would be arrested.

Well that was Boulder and this is Denver. Police here have pestered smokers and drug abusers of various flavors down at Civic Center Park for a number of years, their efforts becoming more futile with the recent onslaught of Occupy Denver protesters finding refuge in this domain. On various visits here (while covering the political zombie scene) I have usually been approached by dealers selling pot, smack, mushrooms, fresh adrenal glands to munch on-anything and everything wicked and perverse can be found for sale here. This day however, 420, would promise a swelling crowd of weekend trippers and dippers, sponsored merchant head shop tents and curious individuals from Denver and neighboring towns showing up for the gala. Local forces would tolerate a bunch of pot smoking docile citizens, but the hard core junkies better be on the lookout.

Cops were everywhere, bands of uniformed officers gathered in circles, arms crossed and socializing with one another. After dashing in to the bus station restroom I began to walk over to Civic Center Park where the meat of the event was taking place. I was immediately stopped along the way by some hard core street brotha who asked if I was a cop. I had to laugh as my recent choice to shave my head may have influenced his visual opinion of me. I pulled out my prescription flask of high octane pot mixed with some 20x strength salvia and let him have a whiff; he granted me passage with a huge shit eating grin…my brotha! I was now on my way to the meat of things, looking forward to finding a suitable place to pipe up in the park. It seemed so odd to have such huge quantities of out in the open stoned, smoking individuals. This was the Land of the Slow. Everything moved at a digressed pace, logy grins everywhere, gangstas hitting up on fine looking women, trash littered the ground like snowflakes, dub step pockets of sound in various spots. This was the best and the worst of all those free concerts I remembered from my youth, only multiplied in size by a factor of ten. I needed to venture on…….

18
Apr
12

Filet O Fish With a Side of Ron Paul

My small hiatus from blog posting came on the foot of trying to get some artwork accomplished, as well as puming out some political writing for a new local rag in Denver. Turns out the publication is more interested in photos of girls in underwear, Playboy circa 1957, so I got the hint and decided to move on from that disaster. I called up my personal goon, Eduardo, and told him to go locate their office and torch the place…pendejos.

We’ve all managed to sit through a lackluster ending to the Republican fight over who becomes Supreme Candidate to face the Great Hope and Change this fall. A somewhat solemn announcement hit the media from Rick Santorum on April 10th as he announced he would be bowing out of the race for the presidency. Early reports from Rick stated this to be due to one of his children’s health. More likely it was because he saw he was getting his balls handed to him on a plate by Mitt Romney and he couldn’t bear losing face in his home state. I give the man credit for making it as far as he did but quitters die quick and now it’s on to the fury of the Filet O Fish, Willard Mitt Romney.

Obama supporters continue to sit back and puff on the easy cigar thinking this one is in the bag, but heed the rumblings out there folks. Antagonists of our President are not going to take it lying down. Even Mitt is slowly developing a game plan, feeling out the political waters to see where he can latch on to enough low grade, under the scope support to defeat Obama. He’s stumbling out there as it is a difficult task for someone of that financial magnitude to empathize or relate to the common person, but he’s trying in his own special way and that might work out for a few votes here and there. He works toward gathering more minority support, Black and Latino organizations, testing his support strength with Tea Party voters-there’s even talk he might show up on Saturday Night Live. A stunt like that could definitely help him. I still recall the night Bill Clinton came out on the Arsenio Hall show blowing a sax wearing shades, popularity points shot up after that program aired.

A personal suggestion I would hand the Republican candidate to give Barack Obama a run for his money (and possibly even take the prize away) is to announce current lagging in poles runner, Ron Paul, as his vice presidential running mate. A lot of people want to have him play the female running mate game but if you stop and think back hard on the few women who have run for the position you’ll remember the lack of interest from most voters. The largest appeal was given to Sarah Palin but that flash in the pan died out and once people started really listening to what came out of her pie hole, John McCain was doomed. No, Paul would be the perfect choice. He has a large support net in this country, not large enough to take him to the Oval Office as the Head Cheese, but if he were there to guide Mitt Romney it could work for them. If those two candidates would stop  fighting one another and band together they could sneak in enough votes to win. Obama is overconfident. He’s getting off his game and that could expose his delicate underbelly. It won’t be enough to fight off the anti-health care crowd or the birthers. Foreign and domestic affairs continue to pile at his doorstep and this country can easily forget any accomplishments the man achieves. The euphoria of Bin Laden’s death has worn away and the economy is still unstable. Anti-Obama voters will work hard to persuade the undecided voter to pair with them, whereas most Obama supporters feel smug,  relaxed that they will win again this fall.

Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, yes, that’s a ticket I would love to see face Barack and Joe this November. The entertainment factor alone would be worth it. Romeny will continue to press buttons hoping to rattle the Democrat incumbent but he’s too gentleman-like to really land a solid punch. Ron Paul has enough old gristle in him to lay down a poignant fight, unlike the rhetoric and parlor prattle out there now. Give that old fucking Texan a chance, he’ll shake it up-don’t fall back on the predictable, go south paw on them. Whoever ends up winning this fall I don’t want to sit through another 6-7 months of a cobweb growing stale race that leaves the public suffering the pangs of mediocrity.  For god’s sake, somebody throw a shoe. Then if, by chance, Mitt Romney were to win, I think we’d all agree that he needs a reality buffer to give him guidance among the world of caffeine drinkers-why not Ron Paul?

10
Apr
12

Attack! of the Zombies part 2

 

The scum suckers caught me in a weak emotional moment and just about had at me with their makeshift weapons. A saddened moment fell over me while listening in on the congregation of part time Occupy protesters-don’t let the term ‘part time’ mislead you. I suppose these people do a fair amount of work toward their cause and anyone interested in reading more about their committees, concerns, upcoming events, cake walks or whatever else they have planned can look them up online. I’m sure your home town or a place nearby has structured a website (such as OccupyDenver.com) to get the public interested in this national cause. I wandered away from the kid who refused to let me take a  picture of his tshirt (see Attacd! of the Zombies part 1) and went up to the circle of Occupy Denver committee members-an assembly of around twenty people with frequent visitors stumbling in during their session. The first words I heard as I drew closer was one of the older leaders speaking to a disgruntled atendee.

“I know we’ve lost a lot of people, but what we have to think is, they just helped us to get to where we are now.”

Insanity. That kind of helpless milk toast enthusiasm died out with the peace freaks in an old Billy Jack film. By god these fuckers need brute force assaults at the cops, scare the fuck out of mom and pop motivation, if they really want the public to take notice. People here are beginning to walk by them as easily as they do a pan handler, paying no attention to their scrawled protest slogans or babbling street corner screed. The saddest, most apathetic moment hit me during the middle of the assembly minutes that they were reading to one another. They were discussing their concerns over security in the park for the 24/7 road zombies who continue to be plagued by vandals and street thugs. Denver PD can only do so much and they were discussing what to do about this issue. Right in the middle of this conversation into the middle of their sacred circle steps Michael, a Vietnam vet/alcoholic street person. I know Michael and he’s a pretty nice guy. He’ll admit to you he has a drinking problem and tends to talk to the sky now and then but he has a good heart and God bless him for serving our country but now days, Michael is but one among a bevy of homeless down at Colfax and Chambers. Michale calls out to them in that Marine voice of his and states “you don’t have to worry about security, me and the Denver Police will take care of that.”  Gung fucking ho Michael, bravo for you. He’s the only one that can sound off like he’s got a pair in this group yet they look at him as if he is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. The assembled leader looks at Michael and asks if he would please step outside the circle because they’re having a discussion.

“I don’t give a shit about your fucking circle” he roars. “This is what I’m fighting for” and he points at a monument which I still have no idea what the monument signifies-but Michael will defend it. He turns around and starts addressing the crowd about how they aren’t doing anything right and right in the middle of this glorious speech, he wanders into that alcoholic fog and starts mumbling to himself. He turns around and I notice a shit stain dried up the crack of his pants that has probably been there for some time. I could almost cry.

I gave a dollar donation to the group to go toward helping some arrested protester get out of jail and had to walk away, it was getting too personal. Damn the luck of people like Michael, this salt of the earth guy reduced to a street bum, riddled with problems he carried back with him from the war, shit in his trousers, no hope…….too much. It was at that moment as I walked away from the political circle jerk that a swarm of the beastly street fuckers led by the kid who wouldn’t let me photograph his shirt came running at me with wood planks, skateboards and other hand held objects screaming “get the hell out of here mother fucker!” I obliged and ran for home base-the bus stop. Denver PD will tolerate a lot of shit from these people but they will not tolerate people being attacked at the bus stop so if you can make it there, you’re good.

I intend to let that hornet’s nest settle for a few days before attempting to go back there-even then I wonder; should I involve myself by giving them a piece of my mind? Should I tell them they are all doomed unless they intend to adopt a more aggressive campaign? It will be closing in on a year since I started covering the protest movement in downtown Denver, Colorado, and still no definitive progress to speak of exists. There is very little solid organization, protests that resemble a school outing and any support they do manage is pissed away from ambiguous leadership. Seven months away and counting, a presidential election is coming and still the Occupy forces throughout the U.S. have obtained nothing but a bunch of hungry, diseased people. Show me the fire folks, show me some action.




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