Tag Archives: terrorism

The Big Benghazi Lie

I have avoided writing this article for some time. Not that it hasn’t been tempting. The oblique assault against the President is blatantly and completely partisan, and betrays either the outright complicit nature of the Press or their fundamental ignorance. Not that I’m an apologist for Obama. Though I was happy that he was re-elected, I also feel he is significantly beholden to corporate and money interests. The bottom line here is, I just can’t stand by any longer while the Right parades absolute untruths while the media wallows in blissful banality

Anyone who has been to a US diplomatic facility in an active conflict zones knows they are hardly consulates, let alone embassies. They are not there to spread the message of democracy and freedom. They are not sanctuaries. To the contrary. And how would I know this? I have been there. Well, not to Libya, but in Sarajevo during the siege in 1994.

This story is something of a third rail for the Progressive side; that tiny minority who at least attempts the truth.  but even the professed liberal side of the so-called liberal press has deftly side-stepped the Benghazi attack against a US “consulate.” Not surprising, and admittedly, not a lot of people have been to a consulate in a war zone. and now, two months after the incident, the whole affair is a dark and tangled affair.

First the facts. It was a terrorist attack. 4 Americans were killed. It did happen amid a sudden surge of unrest following the release on YouTube of an anti-Muslim film that saw simultaneous unrest in Egypt, and violence in Pakistan that left a number of Pakistanis dead. Libya was and is still in turmoil, and deeply divided following the civil war. The nation was still dangerous.

In October 1994 I found myself trapped in Sarajevo, with the fighting in the city growing and winter approaching. In the Holiday Inn along Sarajevo’s infamous sniper alley the United States maintained a “consulate.” It seemed logical an American out of reasonable options would look for help at a US Consulate, right?

The Sarajevo consulate was a spy ring, tasked either with collecting or getting intelligence, either on one or more of the warring parties or for the dozen or so other foreign intelligence services active in Bosnia, including the Russians and Iranians. Running a gauntlet of sniper fire to the consulate was a constant. in the hall outside the consulate suite sat a laconic Bosnian kid with an AK-47. He was tasked with keep interlopers out. Truth of it was, he  was just happy to be off the bloody frontlines, and could be cowed with the wave of a US passport and a bit of bravado bordering on arrogance. Once in passing, when he attempted to stop me I literally threw up a hand and said, “Have a seat, son,” with this stern sort of militaristic tone. the heavily armed types inside could hardly scatter from sight, startled by my sudden appearance.

When I pressed the issue of not being able to escape the city, at that point arrested by two different armies attempting to escape, the “officials” did not act as diplomats, but reverted to this sort of black market mentality. Now, I am not accusing who would then become the first American ambassador to Bosnia of corruption, but I will say this. The going rate to the actual Bosnian blackmarket at the time was $5000USD. This future ambassador coincidentally offered his help, and that I would need to pay him…wait for it…$5 grand USD “to rent” a seat on one of the airlift flights.

In 1992 an arms embargo, said to stop the flow of arms into the break up Yugoslavia, was championed by the United States and  later defended by the US. The stated intention was to stop the violence. The reality, and this was no secret to any government, and certainly not a secret on the ground in the war zone, but was a secret nearly everywhere else, was that it was a windfall for international arms dealers. The cost of weaponry skyrocketed to more than 20 times original value. those deals, worth billions in hard  and untraceable cash were rarely if ever handled by arms companies, but by agents of their national governments. and during the wars of the 1990s, everyone wanted to get in on that action.

The point of that story? The consulate in Benghazi, I am certain, was not tasked with diplomacy as its primary mission. And if that is the case, as all reports seem to indicate, whether from holding al qaeda suspects, or that all of these men had significant intelligence and military backgrounds, as well as none of the survivors have been heard from or identified, this was an intelligence outpost in a very unstable place.

Few will ever see that world, but it exists. the mythology is that they are the good guys behind the scenes keeping us all safe. The reality is that a world of international espionage absolutely exists, but they feed the unrest and tragedy of the world, rather than stem or assuage it. They are the problem not the solution. Theirs is a game of arrogant perspective parading as broad visionary strategy. They play that game among one another, but trample upon the rest of us in the process. They are an industry. They work for industry, but in the most cynical and insidious ways. The President and State Department will never cop to any of this. They can’t. No one is going to give up their own spies. They won’t, but that’s the reality, no matter what FOX News and the Right want to pretend


Police are describing the White-supremecist gunman at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin as a “frustrated neo-Nazi,” as if there are content and well-adjusted neo-Nazis. There is and will be an attempt in the media to marginalize the race of this terrorist. Call them out. The pro-gun apologists in the media, those who encourage and facilitate this sort of racial, ethnic and gender hatred are as responsible for this terrible tragedy as the man who pulled the trigger. They created the environment and culture that inspired and empowered this person. That media has sickened our culture, politics and national discourse. TAKE BACK YOUR MEDIA AMERICA! OCCUPY YOUR AIRWAVES.


21 days in May: An Occupy Novella, part 2

Chicago was adopting something of a siege mentality as the NATO summit and protests loomed ever closer. It certainly wasn’t the protesters dialing up fear and concern. There had been in recent weeks a purposeful effort to intimidate the population, painting the protests as dangerous and the authorities as protectors. The effort began slowly in February and by the end of April had grown to a near fever pitch. The authorities, state, local, Federal and private corporate interests would manage and stoke that fear with their propaganda wing at FOX, CBS, ABC and even the so-called liberal MSNBC.

It began with leaked reports that downtown businesses would be hiring increased security for the protests, the reports punctuated with images from unrelated riots in Seattle some years earlier. Then came near panicked interviews with police officials clamoring for emergency funding from a cost-overridden city hall to make sure the police all had expensive new protective riot gear. Commuters would be subject to search and trains could be diverted or stopped altogether for “security concerns.” Boats in the harbors would be prohibited as the city became an armed camp. Then, at the end of April the fear was raised to insidious levels, first with front page headlines that downtown Chicago was now considered a “RED ZONE,” and that heavily armed federal agents in riot gear would be guarding strategic  buildings. The next day the local CBS affiliate published a “leaked” memo revealing how Red Cross officials in Milwaukee were preparing for the possible evacuation of Chicago in the event of an insurrection during the NATO summits. No one, in the media at least, questioned the rationale or what possibly would cause a city of eight million to flee en masse, not to the suburbs, nearby Joliet or Gary Indiana in such a catastrophe, but 90 miles North to Scott Walker’s Milwaukee Wisconsin. 

Angelo studied his smartphone, tapping on an MSNBC story emailed to him overnight. His eyes moved across a stunning headline that left him even more conflicted about his part in all this.

  “…agents have arrested five people who were plotting to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, Ohio… Douglas L. Wright, 26, Brandon L. Baxter, 20, and Anthony Hayne, 35, were arrested by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on April 30 on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce. Also arrested were Connor C. Stevens, 20, and Joshua S. Stafford, 23. Charges are pending… of Hayne, Stafford and Baxter, there were claims that they were affiliated with Occupy Cleveland, which moved swiftly Tuesday to distance itself from the bridge plot… after “we awoke to the news of the arrests,” coordinator Johnny Peskar, 22, told msnbc.com… “We don’t need any implications in this nonsense,” Peskar said… Occupy organizers had seen a few in the plot hanging around earlier events, but their actions were “autonomous,”

He set down the phone and went to the long mirror by the door. Six years in special forces and 4 more as a military contractor with a for-hire firm had placed him is some odd and morally questionable circumstances, but none more than this.  This mission left him awake nights, praying for the respite of nightmares in sleep instead of the nightmare he was living.

He still looked like a college kid, and could pass for his early twenties. Angelo had let his dark brown hair grow long, nearly to shoulder length. His clothes were rough and urban and worn. His cover was a simple one, which was always the best-less to remember that way. Facts and dates were mixed or altered should anyone go prying. He looked the part well enough, but there was something else.

The mission was taking a toll. He appeared haggard and exhausted, which did not lend themselves to a successful mission. But what of the mission? In Afghanistan in a beard and local garb, Angelo passed sufficiently to infiltrate a Taliban group. He tracked a FARC leader in Columbia for  six months without being detected, and was able to worm his way into a Mexican drug lord’s inner circle. Never before had he been asked to spy on fellow Americans, which was bad enough. But this, this mission…

Angelo glanced at the paper he’d been slipped the day before at the protest. He had never seen the contact. The man came and went like a ghost. Now he found himself balanced on a fence, weighing ethics, morality and salvation. They were an operative’s worst obstacles. He thought of the mission once more as he went to the sink and poured a chemical mix over the paper, dissolving it almost instantly. He washed it down the drain with water and recalled the headline from Cleveland that morning.

Nineteen days and it would all be over. Nineteen days and the mission would be complete. Nineteen days and the nation would be forever changed. Angelo steeled himself and nodded resolutely. In the end he made it about the money. He’d made  a shade over a million tax free as a military contractor-the ultimate welfare scheme he sometimes mused to colleagues. Another half million would be deposited in an off shore account for him following a successful conclusion of the mission. Other missions were for country, unit or to bring down truly reprehensible people, but this would have to be about the cash, and that would have to suffice.

 

 

The train, bus and three block walk to he and Eva’s bungalow on Chicago’s Northwest side left Jack beaten. Eva wasn’t home yet with Jeffrey. The house was still and comfortable and peaceful. He practically collapsed onto the chair in the front room. He still had on his jacket and hat. The shoulder bag was in his lap, as if he’d striven for that chair with his final ounce of energy.  Morris, their lumbering Boxer/ Boston Terrier mix, normally a pest for attention, seemed to understand well enough. He sort of flopped to the floor at Jack’s feet and laid his head across one shoe with a heavy sigh.

The family still wasn’t completely settled into the place, and a daunting list of projects left Jack all the more spent. The phone rang, and he hardly had the energy to lift it, let alone answer. He hit the speaker key and let it go to voice mail

“This is Jack, lean Left,” came his recorded message. After a short pause Angelo from Occupy replied.

“Hey, Jack, wanted to know if you could get together later. I have something I need to discuss with you. You’ve got the number. Call me back.”

Jack sighed and  let the phone fall to his leg. He’d been meaning to get back into the movement, especially now as the NATO summit neared. He liked Angelo, at least what he knew of the kid.  Every movement attracted its share of oddities; Occupy, Socialist groups, anarchists, The Tea Party, and certainly the Ron Paul devotees. Angelo seemed like a normal fellow, well informed and adjusted and, for as much as Jack could tell, passionate about the cause. He thought about Sarah as he lifted the phone and found Angelo’s number. As it began to ring at the other end, he was already crafting his sincere apology to her.

“Hey, Angelo, its Jack,” he began. “Brutal day at work, sorry I couldn’t pick up before. Still want to get together?”


THE LAST MAN…an excerpt from the upcoming novel from W.C. Turck and the Occupy Movement

A crippled and tarnished light fell through a row of high windows at the top of the building. These sooty pinnacles shifted slowly around us, chased and eclipsed by smoke pouring without end from the three great brick smokestacks that even here appeared impossibly tall. The light faded steadily, like truth before a well-crafted lie, so that the scene below remained in a permanent dusk. It merged with a monstrous opera, the thunder of machinery, and the roar of the furnaces and the cries of the dying.

The air held its own character as well. The stink of burning flesh, of vomit and waste joined that of singed stone and brick. They joined with the heat of three great furnaces, whose arched and gaping entrances were akin to looking into the setting sun. I lifted a hand to cover my nose and mouth, but with little effect.     

Even in the murky light of the hall it was possible to discern some long abandoned order to this place, to see where Associates arrived for Reclamation. In that order it was even possible to project a sort of perverted mercifulness on the part of the Corporation.  A sort of triage area where Associates were once injected lethally now stood empty and forgotten, but for exhausted and distraught Reclaimers that were scattered about and among simple slabs of stone, some exhausted, others distraught. But order and efficiency could hardly describe the scene below any longer.   

Bethune and I moved closer to the ledge, looking out across this barbaric theater, the capital lie, the murderous hidden hand of the Corporation. The others remained well hidden behind us. Still we had little to fear. Bethune and I remained protected from view by those shifting talons of light.

Below the windows I spied a blue Sentinel safely confused among a flock of cooing and chattering pigeons.  I left Bethune and stepped right to the edge, near enough that with hardly any effort I could have flung myself off. The cruelty and hopelessness the Reclamation Center evoked were nearly enough to compel me to do just that. Oh, Dante you could hardly have conceived of a crueller or darker hell!

Ten Reclaimers met each new group. These Reclaimers reminded me of the faces I had seen in the Low City. A glance to Bethune brought a solemn nod that confirmed that terrible truth. They were stripped to the waist, soot-stained and blood-smeared, their sinewy bodies painted and scarred by their unending task. There was a heaviness in every movement as they led each Associate to the ovens. It was the weight of a soul that has died in a body that has yet to realize the pointless end awaiting.

A single electric jolt to the neck felled each Associate into unconsciousness. Quickly they were carried forward and thrown alive into the flames. But what might have seemed at first to be a merciful, if horrifying end was instead far more nightmarish and chaotic. Most were quickly consumed. Others, as if suddenly awakened from a stupor, flailed and convulsed in the flames. Others escaped fully alight, only to meet their end and be driven back at the point of long iron pikes. A few of these human torches reached their would-be slave executioners in running, murderous battles beyond any human description. One body, so animated by vengeance, flesh curling and blackening from the flames devouring him, fended off stabbing pikes to drag a Reclaimer back into the oven, like some devil come to claim a soul.

This, this was the ultimate outcome of denying the human heart. This was the logical destination along the road of a history followed blindly. It was not that evil resided in that heart, but that it was burdened by this cursed animal flesh, for all its blind intentions. That flesh is far too short-sighted and far too selfish, conspiring to convince the heart that it is the bearer of ultimate sin. Pondering this I pulled gently at my tunic, as though I might tear that flesh away.

I moved a hand across my sorrowful heart and lamented that the will of the flesh was strong enough to turn mankind from the ultimate lessons of history. Man had instead become embroiled in the episodes of history, confusing one for another. Mankind had confused weakness with compassion, control over reason, and in the process had abandoned its own heart…

 


Video of Marines Urinating on Taliban Dead…and here is why it is wrong.

I have a history with this, having witnessed the Mock execution of a Serbian POW in the mountains above Sarajevo in October 1994. The incident is detailed in my book, Everything for Love. I am certain the young man from the neighboring town of Trnovo was spared because of my presence. I also have no doubt he was taken elsewhere and executed. Without doubt the would-be executioner, an average sort in his mid to late thirties could recite chapter and verse about Serbian atrocities, and likely had one or more family, friends or neighbors killed, wounded or otherwise terrible affected at the hand of Serbs, whether intentionally and cruelly or as a consequence of the war. I could recite those acts as well, and had personally witnessed enough to justify reprisals against those “inhuman” Serbs.

Those would be judgements of the human heart, however, a tinderbox fully at the mercy of vengeance and our selfish soul. It is our intellect and reason, and a moral standard that upholds human dignity, selfless mercy and the standards of human rights-one that is bolstered by laws and ideals that sanction those who violate those laws and ideals.

It has been a point of study into the psychology of war atrocities. Organizing relief, I was fascinated by the utter inhumanity that Hutu neighbors, friends and even family turned on their Tutsi kin in Rwanda. I had looked into the eyes of an elderly man who was so friendly and hospitable to me and others, only to smile gleefully and draw a finger across his throat at the blindfolded young Serb. Study the faces of men and women captured on film at executions and other atrocious acts, and you will find mostly complacent stoicism, but enjoyment and satisfaction in others. Other times there is a tribal, animal sort of orgiastic frenzy akin to videos of great apes and chimpanzees brutalizing others of their species.

The filming and ritual of degrading enemy dead-civilian and soldier alike- is hardly new. There seems to be an impetus to document such deeds, like posing with an animal after a hunt. It is tribal and perverse, apart from the illegalities. Worse it is shameful and wrong for some very fundamental reasons.

Preeminent among those reasons is the very assertion of many in this nation that America is the greatest nation on the earth, the “shining city on the hill,” and “the last best hope for mankind.” How does an act such as this further than notion, or convince our enemies otherwise? And if we discount enemies and other nations, how does this act strengthen those notions for ourselves?

If we truly believe we are the righteous in this conflict, is this how the righteous act? Where does is say in the Bible that in war it is alright to desecrate the enemy’s dead? It is an immoral statement to justify such acts by pointing to the enemy, if not for the reason above, then on the premise that it lowers us to the level of an “immoral” enemy. We demand that police abide by laws, and must adhere to the constitution and civil liberties in those duties. No one reasonably argues that the police can act lawlessly when dealing with lawless criminals, i.e., summary street executions, bombings, lootings of suspect houses or the wholesale beating of say a shoplifter or car thief.

Many on the Right heralded and praised the act with the patently immoral and thoughtless lament that “it is war.” They would not have considered that excuse for Nazi death camp guards or Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. Those criminals were held to account, often at the cost of their lives. War is not a frat party with license for abandon. It is not a right of passage, and even if it was, a soul does not switch off the tribal act of desecrating enemy dead in such a way when they return to “peaceful” society.

I have seen firsthand how acts of violence in war-whether justified or not, resonate terribly well beyond war. These men crossed a terrible line, not just in the act, but in their soul, and by the witness of thousands, and perhaps millions, have pulled us across that terrible line with them.  War is not a time for boys to be boys. It should be an aberration from rational human interaction and conflist resolution. It is a terrible and evil necessity, one that a nation should align itself on the side of righteousness and the weak.

I fully comprehend the moral entanlgements and confusion in combat. I have been there. I also understand revenge. I understand the emotions in a battle that would compel one to desire the ultimate fate upon an enemy. That is the specter of vengeance and the unhinged human heart. i confess to those emtions(watching Serb s purposely fire antiaircraft rounds at a mother and two children). I also understand that the world is a harsher and far more dangerous place when we give ourselves fully to that unbridled hate.

In the end, for these three Taliban fighters, who espouse a world and belief system I am very much opposed to, and who I believe must be defeated, the fight was over when the life left their bodies. What those soldiers then did is the worst side of all Americans and was a filthy and unnecessary act that can only be defended by those who have never been to war, or those who are too filled with innate anger and hate to see past the storms of their own heart.


Big government? Damn right. The biggest! Just fix it.

So the mantra from the right these days is that government is too big, and we must shrink it, not to make it more efficient, but so it can get out of the way of business.In the age of the highest corporate profits in human history that rhetoric is obscene. Fundamentally, that is an anti-American, anti-Constituional idea. Let’s set aside the argument that government exists because it has the power to do things individuals simply can’t do, like build a road, fight a war, enforce health and safety codes, maintain a justice system and get toilets to flush safely from coast to coast.

This nation is being duped into buying the perverse and dangerous idea that corporations are virtuous and wise, while government is corrupt, inept and out of control. Are they saying they’d happily trade corporate control for the United States government? Have they never seen a corporation go bankrupt? Go out of business? End pensions? Break the law?

Name me a single corporation that has existed as long as the US government? Name me a single one that acts as a democracy? Name one that voluntarily protects the interests of individual workers rights without those rules being imposed by government. Name one. That corporation doesn’t exist.

Without government, corporations would pollute the environment, abuse employees, and even murder labor activists http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/26/international/26COLO.html?searchpv=day04&pagewanted=print . They would be free to pay employees the lowest possible or barely survivable wages with no benefits in dangerous environments. Get hurt on the job due to their negligence and you’re history, and so is your family’s future.

The problem with government is that the Democrats and especially the Republicans have allowed and facilitated the corporate stranglehold on government,  a crime promoted and repackaged in the pseudo-Press suppositories of FOX, CNN, MSNBC and talk radio, all of which are owned by significant corporations with huge interest in the outcome of this quiet coup.

The people can take it back, but they have to get smart, get organized, and defend a government large enough to defend a Constitution that was written for people not corporations.

What you really what, whether you realize now or later, is a government big enough not to get bullied by terrorists, rogue nations, competing nations, and least of all self-interested corporations. But it has to be a government humble enough to protect the homeless guy on the corner from being run off because he fell on hard times, or the millions of families faced with foreclosure

The Bush tax cuts for the rich (still in effect) have failed to generate the jobs Republicans and the rich promised would happen if those tax cuts continued. The government should be big enough to conclude a war and recognize the rights of minorities and the wrongly accused.

Big government? Damn right. The biggest! just fix it.


Co-opting a movement: Corporate Media’s new tactic

I wasn’t expecting that many protesters after a night of terrible weather, but I could hear the chest-thunping drums, a tinny cymbal, someone on a megaphone and chants of “We are the 99%!” a full two blocks away. There was somewhere between 50 and 70 prote sters. People come and go regularly. The streets were still slick with rain beneath a gloomy sky, but the spirits of these activists hardly seemed dampened.

ABC reporter Mark Dicarlo interviews an activist Thursday. He asked several protesters if they'd welcome the Tea Party joining the movement

In front of the Bank of America building an ABC reporter from the local affiliate, named Mark Dicarlo was interviewing one of the least mainstream-looking protesters, throwing a range of questions far beyond the scope of the protest, a calculated ploy to keep the kid talking long enough for him to let his guard down and maybe say something odd, anything to discredit him and the movement as a whole. Behind him, circulating through the crowd, two young producers canvassed for the types that would be as far from mainstream suburban audiences as possible, despite a number of students, professionals and concerned everyday-types. It was a pattern I’d been noting with interest for the past several weeks.

Meanwhile this guy walked up to the make-shift base of occupation, what has become a sort of supply base, with 3 deep dish pizzas. I quickly pulled the guy aside and asked what had motivated him to show up with an arm full of pizza, easily costing $50 bucks.

His named was Jed and he was normally part of the Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Oakland movements in California. In Chicago on business for the week, he was biding his time with what has become an international brother/sisterhood. I wanted to know if he found any difference between the two efforts, separated by a continent.

Jed delivering pizzas to the Occupy Chicago protest

“We have a really liberal mayor,” he said. “We can use the park as long as we like. The police won’t touch us there.”

Jed was informed, cogent and well-spoken, with a history of  activism. In 1991 he was part of the anti-globalisation movement. “But the movement got bogged down in too many different things, but this movement is different. It cuts straight to the heart.  The system doesn’t work fundamentally, and the longer they fail to answer, the more people will come to the conclusion that the current system doesn’t work.”

Meantime, Dicarlo asked his interview what he thought about the Tea Party coming to join the protests, and if they could find common ground, would that be all right?

It wasn’t the first time in the last week I’d heard a corporate journalist ask that very same question. Others had heard it too, with increasing frequncy. I heard the same story from a dozen different people, from all of the major networks. It was become less of a coincidence than an emerging tactic. In fact, Dicarlo went over and asked another protester the very same question.

I was trying to position Jed to speak with Dicarlo, but his producers did everything they could do to put us off.

“I usually get brushed off,” he told me. “I know what I’m talking about.”

The corporately-owned media is at a loss to properly deal with the movement, and to deal any sort of death-blow to the movement as a whole. They can no longer get away with framing the protesters as students or fringe groups without a rational or cohesive message. There are too many working folks, unemployed and employed professionals, housewives, retired grandparents and veterans taking part.

They still revert to a narrative of unfocused messaging, confused self-interest and fringe ideologies, because such lazy cartoonishness is the path of least resistance for a vapid corporate medium. But this new and alarming narrative is emerging in corporate America’s cynical efforts to extinguish the rights and passions of the real citizenry of the nation.

There is a growing attempt to co-opt the movement. More and more in interviews and before their viewers they are attempting to steal the message from the Occupy Movement by introducing the Tea Party. In time, they will introduce Tea Party activists, likely hand-picked apparatchiks who will proclaim themselves spokespersons for the movement, introducing right-wing agendas and talking points to dilute or divert the real message of the movement. 

As the camera crew moved off a homeless man came up to Jed and I, asking if we could spare some change for food.  Without missing a beat Jed motioned to the pizzas and said,”help yourself.”

That is the spirit of this movement.


The Face of War: Occupy Chicago

It is a stormy day in Chicago, one hundred and one days after the Occupy protests began. Its been deteriorating all day, enough that O’Hare airport will all but shut down, closing all but a single runway as icy cold gusts of 50+ miles per hour and periods of torrential rain bludgeon the city. Waves to 20 feet will hammer the lake front, threatening to close Lakeshore Drive. Even as the storm worsens there are citizen occupiers manning the post in what has become a war of attrition as well as sacrifice. they may not spend this night, as safety and prudence would dictate, but the citizens I spoke with today would not relinquish this ground lightly.

The protesters maintain an around the clock presence

I met Dave, a former Marine, a young kid, dressed in his old uniform sweater and desert khaki boots He looks like a marine, a little boyish, but with that deep soulful determination imbued in Marines. Just to be sure I threw him a test, asking what the Sith General Order for Marine Corps sentries.

This former Marine spent the night at the Occupy Chicago Protest

“To receive, obey, and pass on to the sentry who relieves me,” he replied correctly, “all orders from the Commanding Officer, Officer of the Day, Officers, and Non-Commissioned Officers of the guard only.”

No Marine ever forgets the 11 General Orders.

But this isn’t about Dave, just like it isn’t really about the weather. This is about something deeper, something that binds all those elements to the spirit and soul of the movement. It is about The souls who are out in front of the banks, making noise as a constant reminder to the bankers of the protester’s presence. It is about the men and women who stay long into the night and all night in many cases. It is about those who when faced with arrest, when warned that arrest is imminent, they stand and turn and offer their wrists peacefully but resolutely to the police.

I’ve seen these faces before. I saw them in the trenches and frontline buildings in Bosnia, huddled against the cold, on hard ground, suffering under rain and snow for desperately long hours with nothing but purpose and the camaraderie of fellow soldiers. Those faces are eternal among those who stand upon a line for justice and freedom. They are the simple soldiers who risk life and fortune for an ideal. One would expect to find these faces gathering to meet the better armed, better clothed and better trained British troops during the Revolution. These people believe in a better world because they have lost it or fear losing it or fear for a neighbor. It is an ideal far beyond money and more akin to heaven. It is that which exalts them above any banker, corporatist and politician.

The 1% has their surrogates well established in the media. Thos surrogates will point to a nearly empty corner this night as the wind screams along La Salle Street, drives thundering waves against the shore and whips sheets of rain to mock and undermine the movement. They will proclaim this as the movement’s lack of commitment and as a weakness. But I remember how during battle in Bosnia that weather was the final arbiter of all things, dousing or smashing aside all pretense of human hubris. In Chicago and elsewhere the protests may pause through the winter or become sporadic, or change tactics altogether. For all those I spoke with today, and from the very first day of this protest, prudence should hardly be construed as a lack of commitment.

A proester Monday

There is no individual gain here, as there was for the Tea Party. To a person in the Occupy movement, it is about the nation and about someone else. The Tea Party movement was immediately a cash generating enterprise, making Sarah Palin and others exceedingly wealthy. It spawned businesses and careers and grew into something dark and self-serving. So far the Occupy movement has resisted all that, and god-willing, that will carry the movement forward.


Breaking news: Candidates join Occupy the Airwaves movement. Another Republican Debate!

Calling themselves the 99% of the 1%, Republican Presidential Candidates vowed to Occupy the Airwaves until reason, morality and ethics have been extinguished from American media. The Occupy the Airwaves movement has been going on for more than a month, effectively suppressing Barack Obama in the media, but the roots go back much father.

The Occupy the Airwaves actually goes back to the Reagan administration, which opened the doors to corporate consolidation of news media. Since then Republican appointed Supreme Court justices have  eroded the rights of individual citizens in favor of large corporations, against whom individuals are rarely favored. Corporate lobbyists and corporately funded candidates continue to consolidate power, while steadily degrading the federal government’s ability to reign in nearly unchecked corporate control over the nation.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper will moderate tonight’s debate, which doubtless will prove to be as rousing and informative as previous debates. Cooper is known for his hard-hitting, no holds barred interviews. As for the candidates, the viewing public can be sure that the views are their own and not carefully constructed and scripted bits keeping close to pre-prescribed republican positions. We can only guess what Rick Perry will say about Gun rights. Already the anticipation of what each of the candidate’s position on abortion is palpable. Gay marriage? Don’t ask don’t tell? Israel and Palestine? Iran? Obama’s healthcare program? If only we knew what their positions would be ahead of time. Who can wait to hear more funny anecdotes from Herman Cain about electrocuting Mexican immigrants on the border?

These are the very best the Republicans, and apparently our nation has to offer. We certainly have come a long way from those founding fathers, the Lincoln’s, Washingtons, Roosevelts and Kennedys. This is the cream of the nation, and it shows. How could the nation do any better than to be lead by a Bachman or a Gingrich? Say it several times. President Gingrich. Sounds like a Dr. Suess story come to life! Inspiring how each of them lives by exactly what they preach. Mitt Romney is an everyday Joe like the rest of us, and yet he is so much more. He speaks for us all. Mitt is our human Mister Microphone.

No doubt the candidates will shock us all with reasoned and nuanced real-world answers to all of these topics. Certainly, if they all held exactly the same position it would prove a terribly dull debate. But we know that each of these people, all with very different backgrounds will offer those broader perspectives on issues sorely needed in the 21st Century. All the candidates have shown us in previous debate that they simply do not pander, and are not simply playing to a partisan base, but appealing to all the American people through wisdom, insight and vision.

As for the ongoing Occupy the Airwaves movement. Republicans have vowed to keep up the fight until all reasonable and dissenting voices are eliminated from the airwaves. That done they will move on to the Internet, libraries and bus stops.


What has Capitalism done for you lately?

Recall once upon a time, a long time ago, when the Right thought it was laudable to show up at Congressional town hall meetings and shout down and disrupt Democrats.You know, civil disobedience, protests, Joe the Plummer, and showing up with guns. The year was 2009 and the ‘masses” according to FOX News were in revolt over the national debt and deficit created of course by the Black guy who’d been in office barely 5 months, and probably wasn’t completely unpacked yet. Think back, you remember the outraged citizens who’d somehow missed the wars paid for on credit, tax cuts for the wealthy, the squandered surplus of the Clinton years or the economic collapse of October 2008, 4 months before the Black guy was sworn in as President? Recall how they all woke up the moment the Black guy said “so help me God.” You remember?

It took a bit, but after a spell, the Democrats began showing up in support of their bullied and threatened representatives and senators. August of ’09 I attended one of these town hall extravaganzas at Niles Township high school just outside Chicago. It was a warm night, the street busy with rush-hour traffic. As I pulled into the already full parking lot the sun was just setting in a clear clean sky.

There was something in the neighborhood of 2000 people,  with Dems easily two thirds of the crowd. Most were gathered in the school’s front lawn, in clusters around a scattering of Tea Partiers and Libertarians with Obama as Hitler signs. That scattering had waded into the Dems to debate, argue and provoke. 

Many of the Tea Partiers looked as if they were storing Snickers bars, Keystone beer in cans and S&M magazines for the feared apocalyptic race wars now that a colored was in the White House.  Most of the Tea Party folks were gathered beside the Gym, across a small drive loosely separating the two sides. More had forced their way into the school’s auditorium to berate and disrupt Representative Jan Shakowsky  with useful and productive suggestions like “Move back to Russia!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAkQaUVC84w

I, as usual, wandered among both sides, hoping to find reasonable souls on both sides, which I did, but also to get the full spectrum of opinions and characters. Next to the gym, securely behind the bulk of the Tea Partiers decrying Socialism, Second amendment rights(forgetting that Second amendment rights were tacit threats to extinguish First amendment for Dems) and the Obama Healthcare program was a tall guy in his late twenties. His wavy black hair was cut close on the sides and back. He wore old black jeans and a faded black tee shirt, with a pair of badly worn  tennis shoes, in which one of the soles was coming loose. He was pale and thin, almost to the point of being malnourished. Snickers and Keystone diets will do that. He was red-faced, shouting “Capitalism not Communism!”

I stood there for a moment listening to his rants and charges directed fully at the backs of fellow supporters. At first I was fascinated and then I just couldn’t hold back.

“I see capitalism has worked for you,” I commented. He let fly a string of epithets. I moved on.

Among the crowd I could find no industrialists or hedge-fund managers, no CEOs, trust-fund babies or bankers. There were no real-estate moguls, power brokers or uber-wealthy. There were middle class and working poor folks selling themselves fully into right-wing agendas that were fully at odds with the realities of these people’s lives. Some no doubt harbored individual bigotries, others afraid of inevitable change. Most were scared in some way, buying propaganda that left them feeling under siege or endangered. Many no doubt felt crushed, and just holding onto the lives they’d forged through back-breaking labor, and believing in the illusion of crafted ideologies that appeared monolithic and uniquely and patriotically American.

Sad that while they were heckling at town halls, their rich and powerful patrons were sending their jobs overseas, slashing their benefits, pitting working folks against one another, race and gender bating, provoking distractive issues, devaluing their homes through corrupt speculation, looting the government and revoking their pensions. Sad that when millions stepped forward to protest corporate greed and their stranglehold over American politics by occupying public spaces, Tea Partiers who became victims of their own blind faith turned against those millions with the same tired old insults. Through all that they still maintained unquestioning allegiance to the national trauma of unrestrained capitalism. But how’s it working for you?


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