Baguettes, Not Bombs

A3DM5P

What we’re experiencing politically in America with the popularity of candidates like Donald Trump on the right and Bernie Sanders on the left is a response to disenfranchisement. Whether you’re a liberal or conservative you know that your government isn’t on your side or any side but that of corporate power. You’re being drawn to purist forms of your ideological beliefs that would feel unnecessary and rather fringe in times when things are good for you. You feel strongly about your personal disconnection from any ability to make your life better and it inspires you to rally, vote, make speeches against your foes on social media and post increasingly harsher sentiments regarding them in the form of snappy memes. No matter the side you’re on you have a sentiment of “Taking Our Country Back!!!”
Corporations have owned America lock, stock and barrel for decades. Lulling us to indifference because commercial consumerism dangled carrots and fed our fears in measured doses to keep us distracted and entertained as long as we were getting our fair share (and kept an eye on the Joneses to make sure we kept up or that they didn’t steal ours). That formula has finally stretched so thin as to be transparently disingenuous. And we’re pretty pissed.
Now picture that same co-option without the carrots. Picture Canada accessing our resources and installing presidents that were favorable to their policies and whims. Picture decades of increasing poverty contrasted by extreme wealth for small swaths of pampered Mormons who shared religious or cultural ties with that installed government. Imagine massive corruption favoring that sect, suppression of dissent and your relatives disappearing to Mormon political prisons. Think of Canada invading us with near impunity when their preferred balance of power and resources slips.
Guess what happens. Hopelessness breeds extremism borne of desperation.
Islam was once an evolved way of thought – that never left the seventh century. The extreme interpretations of the Koran fueling the madness in the middle east are a reaction to a 100 years of British, Russian and American intervention and manipulation, keeping minority populations in those regions in ruthless power over the rest of their neighbors. People like to point out that these tribal feuds have been going on for centuries but that only absolves ourselves of our complicity in the giant mess.
I read an article sometime just after the Charlie Hedbo attack that pointed out that the reason why we see relatively little actual terrorism in America by Muslims is because our policies help immigrants to incorporate themselves into America. To have a stake in the American Dream. France’s policy has been to do precisely the opposite. The French are very nationalistic toward immigrants and Muslims especially are pressed into ghettos. Breeding grounds for desperately repulsive purist ideology. France is a petri dish with all the components that made the Paris attacks possible.
When people hate you it is human instinct to immediately justify why your foes are full of shit. To deny-deny-counteraccuse. It is almost considered weak to look in the mirror, to own our part in a thing. Yet that introspection is the very thing – and the only thing that will bring us all back from the brink. We can’t bomb and invade our way out of it. That would be the “throw flour on a kitchen fire” strategy followed by surprise when it makes the fire exponentially bigger.
Baby boomers never fail to get mad at me when I point to their all consuming, self absorbed locust id being the greatest factor in the decline of America. And Americans get mad at me when I point out that we are the Baby boomers of the planet.
Al Queda and ISIS are reactions. Doubling down on the reasons they grew in the first place is madness. Religious extremism is madness. Mindless, lazy consumption without consequence or conscience is madness.
We need to grow the fuck up and look in the mirror before we make our next move. But we won’t do that. We’ll just turn up the volume on Nationalist rhetoric and be indignantly surprised at the results because thinking is weak.

Choking the Shit Out of Jell-O

whack_a_mole-t2

So we’re at war again. And we get to use our new F fighter! Which, with this plan appears to be leading us to level 264 of Middle East Whack-a-Mole. Newsflash – there is no final level.
The more daunting question is how do we combat an idea? We’re facing a mostly backwards religious culture twisted into its angriest form by soldiers pissed off over 100+ years of colonialism, ‘nation building’, pillaging of resources, and being completely fucked over by the CIA and MI6 most every time they backed whatever play we needed that year.
Short of accessing a dirty bomb or nuke the best they’ll ever do to our homeland is incite small scale chaos and get in our heads. And if they ever did use a nuke on US soil you can guarantee that the offending region would be a glass plate.
So how do we deflate the idea? By coming up with one without a hammer and lip service at some point.
In geopolitical terms we’ve been a very abusive husband to a slightly slow wife and now we’re indignant that she’s become a crazybitch. Some day we’re going to have to own up and do something different. I just can’t see it happening until our own national psyche grows the fuck up.

Purchasing Pain of Future Pasts

missing-pics

9/11 is maddening to me. Like every single one of you reading this I remember precisely where I was. What I was doing. The feeling of surreality that the world was somehow ending. The silence overhead for the ensuing week. Grief, rage, patriotism. I also remember going to my local 711 and warning Said to keep his head down because people were going to be thinking and doing some stupid shit soon. Said had as much to do with 19 shitheads from Saudi Arabia flying planes into buildings as you and I did. That is to say, nothing.
I remember tailgating at a Raider game when word got out that we were bombing terrorist camps in Afghanistan. The feeling of release and vengeance coursed through me and I felt good about it. Really good. Then the media machine geared up for what was obvious to everyone as an oncoming invasion of Iraq and I wasn’t buying the hype. Not because I’m cleverer than you or because I hate America but because I sat in my break room at work one day and read, tucked back in page A13 of the SJ Merc, about how the cylinders the Whitehouse was claiming had tactical warheads easily launched from mobile command centers were in fact not the right size, nor shape to function as such. A point never addressed by the media, military or President. And so I worried.
That was 10 years ago. We’ve been at war ever since, playing whack-a-mole all over the middle east. It will never end. It polarizes us like little else. I watch my countrymen pass or fail social litmus tests; are you for the war or not? Are you a real American or not? Do you support the troops or not?
I’ve flown a flag in front of my house since 9/11. (Need to get a new one) I make a point of clearing up when people approach me to thank me for my service with earnest pride and heart ache in their eyes while pointedly not looking at my fake leg that I’m just an old diabetic, not a vet but please don’t stop thanking them. I have many friends who ran off to serve. I have several friends who lost people in the Towers that day. I have friends who were firefighters and cops. I love my country and am proud to be an American. I support the troops and hate the VA and the congress that refused to fund their needs after returning home with traumatic brain injuries, depression, PTSD. I wonder aloud – all the time – why we put them in harm’s way in the first place. I wonder why we, as a nation, abjectly refuse to look at why those planes killed 3000 souls that day and subsequently 1400 first responders in the following years. It was not the world’s worst sucker punch. We need to understand *why* that happened to move forward. It’s not weakness nor cowardice nor unpatriotic to look within. It’s being a grown up. I don’t think we’re there yet – by a stretch.
I love America.
And I hate nationalism.