- "See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria
to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over."
- What a profound analysis of the current crisis in the
Middle East. Bill Fitch, the former coach of the Boston Celtics, used to
tell his players to "keep it simple, stupid." Apparently the
"leader of the free world" is a devout follower of Fitch's philosophy.
It may have been effective in coaching an NBA team, but unfortunately for
the world, Bush's habit of ignoring complexities has resulted in multiple
- Aside from demonstrating the true depth of his vocabulary
and violating his own professed concern with "Christian values"
in using the expletive, our beloved leader seems to have forgotten that
there is no clear evidence that Syria exerts enough influence over Hezbollah
to get them to "stop doing this shit". But then again, since
when does "W" yield for lack of evidence?
- And the real irony here is that Israel picked this fight
through its ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, including
the siege it has waged against the 1.4 million Gaza residents since January.
- As of July 11, the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths
was 47:1 in Israel's military incursion into Gaza. Through 7/19, Israel
had killed 300 Lebanese civilians while losing only 29 of its own, 14 of
whom were military personnel.
- Both territories subjected to Israeli state terrorism
have suffered substantial damage to critical civilian infrastructure, including
bridges, power plants, airports, and highways. Israeli infrastructure remains
almost completely intact. Israel specializes in collective punishment of
- Israel has kidnapped dozens of members of a democratically
elected government in Palestine (presumably to add to their collection
of over 9,000 Palestinian prisoners). Together, Hamas and Hezbollah have
captured a total of three Israeli soldiers.
- Only in a world where the de facto ruler is a White male
(with a red-neck mentality and an IQ well below triple digits) could Israel's
barbaric response to feeble Palestinian rocket attacks (that had registered
zero fatalities) and to the capture of three of its soldiers (who were
complicit in genocidal acts) be considered an act of "self defense".
- In Bush's alternate universe beyond the looking glass,
logic, proportion and morality cease to exist. Israel has no more obligation
to abide by the Geneva Conventions or UN Resolutions than the United States.
Immunity and impunity are special privileges bestowed upon Washington and
Tel Aviv. United States aid to Israel is $3 billion per year for a nation
where the average income is $25,000 per year. Lebanese people earn an average
of $6,000 each year and America "generously" disperses $40 million
annually to their country. 75% of Palestinians live in poverty. They had
been averaging a paltry $95 million per year in financial support from
the United States since 1993.
- As a sentient human being with a social conscience, considering
these facts enrages me and leaves my mind starving for a healthy portion
of rational thought.
- Those of you who read my work know that I have bipolar
disorder. And I thank the Higher Power of My Understanding each morning
that I was blessed with my condition. While my deep roots and profound
responsibilities physically bind me to the United States, the Empire will
not enslave me spiritually or intellectually again.
- As long as I can sit up and take nourishment, I will
wage an enduring assault on the psychological chains with which the ruling
elites of the United States shackle many other Americans. Bipolar has endowed
me with a spiritual light to penetrate the "dark night of the soul"
engendered and sustained by the monstrosities of American Exceptionalism,
Manifest Destiny, and Capitalism. And I have no intention of extinguishing
my illumination, small candle in a vast darkness that it may be.
- Had the intense emotional pain and distorted thinking
associated with bipolar disorder not assaulted me, I suspect I would still
be "enjoying" the privileges of winning the lottery. Of the 6.5
billion humans on Earth, only a relative handful have the good fortune
to be born White, male, heterosexual, and Middle Class in the United States.
Subordinate only to their "brethren" who are born into America's
de facto aristocracy, White Middle Class males who "play their cards
right" are masters of the universe.
- Eagle Scout, high school Valedictorian, and son of a
father who eventually grabbed the brass ring of "success" with
both hands, I began studies at the University of Missouri on a full scholarship
at age 18. I had a seat at the table, a stack of chips, and a royal flush
in my hand.
- However, the Higher Power had other plans for me.
- Slowly my condition began to manifest itself in self-destructiveness
and irrational behavior. My life changed radically as it steadily unraveled.
Obsessive exercise and dieting resulted in my weight dropping from 160
to 115. I transferred to another school and moved back home with my parents.
Fending off depression and intrusive thoughts became a daily battle that
sapped my will and energy.
- Eventually, I quit school, had it out with my father,
left home, and bought a motorcycle. It was about that time that I became
intimately acquainted with cigarettes and hard liquor. Self-medicating
became my favorite preoccupation. On a lark, I joined the Marines.
- Spiritually lost, emotionally sick, and rebellious as
hell, I arrived at MCRD in San Diego. I quickly determined that I had no
interest in becoming a grunt in the Empire's Legion and became the most
obstinate and uncooperative recruit in my platoon. Less than half-way through
boot camp, I completely refused to participate in training. Vein-popping,
swaggering drill instructors with the testosterone levels of bull elephants
assaulted me with threats, intimidation, punishment, and vicious face to
face rants. I remained unphased. When a Naval doctor determined I had a
congenital hernia, I refused surgery. Like many at that time in my life,
the Marines did not know what to do with me. Ultimately they gave me a
convenience of government discharge.
- Returning to Kansas City, I got married and began working
in the blistering heat and filth of a metal plating facility. For meager
pay, I did heavy manual labor involving the use of caustic, toxic chemicals
like sodium hydroxide, cyanide, and sulfuric acid.
- My wife and I made each other miserable, bought a house,
and had twin boys. (But not necessarily in that order). After two years
and two significant industrial accidents that left me with severe chemical
and thermal burns over a significant portion of both of my legs, I hung
up my rubber plating apron and began working in machine shops. My wages
and benefits became even more sub-standard as I treaded water just above
minimum wage. I eventually quit drinking but my problems continued to escalate.
- I abandoned the last vestiges of my White Middle Class
Methodist upbringing when I left my wife and plunged into an abyss of self-inflicted
misery. Living with a woman who was as depressed and suicidal as me, she
and I took to a life of debauchery, immediate gratification, cheap thrills,
and roller coaster emotions.
- I raged, car-surfed on the highway, shop-lifted for thrills,
worked menial jobs until I got fired for absenteeism, vandalized, lived
a migratory lifestyle at cheap motels and friends' homes, got tattooed
thirteen times, pierced my nipple and my nose, smoked pot, wrestled with
suicidal ideations, carried a gun, and fought with nearly everyone. My
newly betrothed followed me, enabled me, got high with me, got tattooed
and went to rock concerts with me, engaged in bulimic behavior (unbeknownst
to me), worked to qualify for disability, and attempted suicide. And we
both abandoned our children.
- Personal bankruptcy, a period of homelessness, under-employment
and unemployment, isolation from family and friends, and two voluntary
stints in the state-funded psychiatric hospital coalesced into a blurred
mosaic of misery.
- Poverty, friendlessness, joblessness, and stints in a
nightmare reminiscent of "The Snake Pit" offered me a unique
perspective on humanity. Hours of screaming from individuals secured to
beds with restraints. Menacing delusional individuals. People drugged to
the point of zombie-like catatonia. A schizophrenic woman who followed
me because she thought I was Jesus (I had long hair and a beard). Desperately
clinging to a tiny raft of relative normalcy bobbing tenuously in a roiling
sea of frightening insanity, I bonded with others who still possessed a
reasonable degree of lucidity. Sadly, my chief source of inspiration was
the brief daily visit by an elderly volunteer who led us in Christian songs.
- Reality had finally bludgeoned my consciousness with
a burlap sack of stones. I had reached the bedrock of an eight year spiritual
- And how serendipitous that I had created my own personal
perdition. Pain teaches, and had I not endured it, I would not have embraced
the belief that spiritual well-being supersedes hedonistic desires, winning,
instincts for revenge, nearly constant access to creature comforts, immediate
gratification, materialism, obsession with money, and virtually every other
aspect of the American Way. The Inferno motivated me to relinquish my pathological
sense of entitlement that comes with White Middle Class Hegemony. I cashed
in my chips, folded my cards, and left the table.
- Properly motivated to climb out of the abyss, I found
AA, a Higher Power, my lesbian guardian angel, and cognitive behavioral
techniques. My second wife found what worked for her. We started getting
better and went our separate ways. Recovery tends to do that to people.
- Slowly I reclaimed my mind and soul from the purgatory
of unchecked bipolar as I learned to manage it. My trials and tribulations
and my devotion to recovery built my character. Existential suffering fueled
my diligent search for meaning and substance. I plumbed the depths of my
soul guided by the likes Dostoevsky, Solzhenitzyn, Orwell, Huxley, Maugham,
Kafka, Scott Peck, John Bradshaw, and Sinclair Lewis.
- I repaid my debts and re-established very good credit.
I made amends to those I had harmed. I paid my past due child support and
became active in the lives of my sons again.
- I attained meaningful employment where I could utilize
my innate abilities and education and earn decent pay with respectable
benefits. Ten years later I am still working in the same field. As a loan
counselor working a portfolio filled with Hispanic immigrants, I am able
to speak my second language to help struggling human beings navigate our
brutal and exploitative Capitalist system.
- Fourteen years ago I took my last swill, symbolically
shattered my final bottle of Evan Williams, and freed myself from the powerful
grip of the alcoholic beverage industry. In the tradition of AA, I now
drink gallons of black coffee. (I hate to disappoint some of my antagonists,
but I am not a "latte sipper").
- As an aside, while I have not smoked marijuana in ten
years, the logic of criminalizing the use of a drug that makes people mellow
while corporations spend billions promoting a drug that turns users into
obnoxious belligerents and their cars into lethal battering rams still
- In 1997 I escaped the clutches of an industry predicated
on deriving profit by inflicting disease and death. I crushed out my final
cigarette in November and haven't had a drag since (aside from the vicarious
experience of breathing second hand smoke in restaurants). Jeff Wiegand's
courageous stand against the quintessentially malevolent tobacco giants
is a powerful source of inspiration to me.
- I finally completed my degree in liberal arts. In the
Capitalist realm, studying the humanities is considered by many to be a
worthless endeavor since it does not lend itself to generating profit,
one of America's sacred cows. However, I find it to be intellectually and
spiritually rewarding. My ongoing education has prepared me well for many
of my endeavors and has armed me against the onslaught of propaganda "catapulted"
by the corporate media to keep good little consumers and worker drones
- About two years ago I cut ties with my father for personal
reasons. In the process I threw away the prospect of a decent inheritance.
A small price to pay for freeing myself from yet another spiritual prison.
- I have boycotted Wal-Mart and their "Always Low
Wages and Benefits" for two years now. I stopped drinking Coke products.
I would enthusiastically eat dirt before I dined at McDonald's. When I
need to buy something, I almost always look to trade with proprietorships
and local vendors rather than monolithic corporations.
- I recycle and choose to wear my clothes until they are
threadbare. I rent a modest apartment in an older neighborhood. Last year
I gave my birthday and Christmas money to Oxfam.
- I shun television almost entirely. When I gather news
from a corporate media source, I dissect it with an intellectual scalpel
to carve out the malignant lies.
- On the Fourth of July this year, I refused to celebrate
on the grounds that I would be glorifying the Empire. In fact, last year
on the Fourth I burned an American flag. I will not pledge my allegiance
or stand for the national anthem.
- I am a spiritual person but will not engage in organized
religion. I consider it deeply denigrating to the memory of a true champion
of social justice, peace, and compassion that many call the United States
a Christian nation.
- I have given aid and comfort to illegal immigrants out
- I volunteer at a homeless shelter.
- I accept no money for the publication of my essays and
no advertising for Thomas Paine's Corner.
- Most of my friends are Black, Hispanic, gay, women or
- I devote a significant amount of my time and energy to
the struggle for social justice and human rights. Principally, I strive
to convince as many people as I can to join the cause. Based on the broad
dissemination of my writings across the Internet, the number of visitors
to my blog, the volume of emails I receive, and reader feedback, I have
succeeded in reaching hundreds of thousands of people, inspiring, enlightening,
motivating, and sometimes enraging. Admittedly, this represents a modest
ripple in a vast ocean. Nonetheless, I am making a difference.
- Implausible as it may sound, I am thankful for the affliction
with which I have been bestowed. It has opened my eyes, mind, and spirit
to so much. Were it not for bipolar disorder, I would probably be living
the American Dream. Living in a 10,000 square foot trophy home in a gated
community. Watching Fox News on plasma television. Bringing down six or
seven figures as a corporate executive. Owning a couple of Hummers (each
of which would have more square footage than my apartment). Socializing
with a homogeneously White circle of friends and acquaintances. Luxuriating
in insularity from "criminal elements", minorities, and the "lower
class". Golfing on the weekends. Embarking on annual cruises and summer
trips to Europe. Yet had I chosen to live this dream, I would have been
abetting in perpetuating a nightmare for the "have-nots" of humanity.
- If I had been a "good boy", pledged allegiance,
saluted the flag, played the corporate game, schmoozed, worshipped at the
alter of conspicuous consumption, maxed out a fistful of Visas, shopped
until I dropped, finished school in the prescribed time and earned the
"right degree", prayed to the God that self-proclaimed Christians
expect to bless a nation which thrives on greed and militarism, and loyally
served the Empire's war machine, I could be sucking the marrow and leaving
the bones for the remaining 99% of humanity.
- Bubbling over with hubris and a perverse sense of entitlement,
I could be reveling in my plenitude without feeling a hint of that demonic
emotion called guilt*. Like many amongst America's de facto aristocracy
and White Middle Class Hegemons, I too could have exorcised guilt from
my psyche and been joyously feasting while the masses struggled to fend
- [*Note: I am not referring to the paralyzing, existential
guilt in which some people become mired. By guilt I mean the healthy emotion
involving the feeling of conscience in the moment of realization that one
has participated in (or benefited from) an immoral act. Ideally, one responds
to healthy guilt by acting to rectify the situation in some fashion].
- With healthy guilt out of the way, I could have built
and maintained an artificial yet intoxicating narcissistic "self esteem"
and savored my "right" to pursue the satiation of my every desire,
regardless of the consequences for others.
- What events, circumstances, and factors have animated
the American Dream for the ruling elite and White Middle Class Hegemons?
- Genocide against millions of Native Americans and the
theft of most of their land.
- Enslaving a race of human beings to raise the United
States to economic heights.
- Subjecting the nation to a civil war to accomplish the
abolition of slavery.
- Imperial conquest of Mexico resulting in the theft of
- The slaughter of as many as 600,000 Filipinos when we
replaced Spain as their colonial master.
- 5% of the world's population consuming 25% of the world's
- Neoliberal economic policies enabling multi-national
corporations to manufacture their goods through grossly exploiting foreign
labor and resources.
- Egregious, unpunished war crimes committed by the United
States at Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki
- AIPAC and wealthy US benefactors ensuring the continued
parasitic existence of Israel and its ongoing ethnocide.
- The existence of decaying urban cores populated by heavy
concentrations of Blacks who are often isolated, poor, limited in employment
opportunities, and offered substandard public educations, creating an environment
which naturally spawns and perpetuates crime.
- The formation of predominately White suburbs (and initiation
of "White flight") through the FHA excluding most Blacks from
home ownership in the 1950's and 1960's, the construction of the interstate
highway system with federal funds, suburban cities' use of federal and
state taxes to subsidize the creation of infrastructure, and the suburban
use of zoning laws to keep "economic undesirables" from building
homes in their White havens.
- Instead of attacking the root causes (i.e. poverty and
inadequate education), the United States solves its "negro problem"
by imprisoning them. With a prison population of over two million, we have
the highest incarceration rate in the world. Blacks represent 13% of the
United States population but account for 50% of those incarcerated.
- $600 billion of our annual federal budget goes to feed
a bloated, corrupt, and malevolent military industrial complex. 50% of
the world's military expenditures go to "protect" 5% of the world's
population. Imperial conquerors? Us?
- Over three million Vietnamese and Cambodian civilians
died, 58,000 Americans were sacrificed, US bombing enabled Pol Pot's genocide,
Agent Orange and incalculable numbers of bombs ravaged the Vietnamese countryside,
and hundreds of thousands of people were physically and psychologically
shattered by the US imperial incursion into Southeast Asia.
- The United States has chosen to defy international law
and the Geneva Conventions by torturing and denying justice to "enemy
combatants" and by invading and occupying Iraq preemptively.
- The United States is responsible for the death of over
a million Iraqis (many of them women and children) through the genocide
it has committed via the Gulf War, US driven UN sanctions in the 1990's,
and Bush's illegal invasion and occupation.
- The Bush Regime continues to push for an end to the inheritance
tax, permanent tax cuts (which primarily benefit the wealthy and corporations),
more deregulation, and further reductions of "entitlement" programs
to ensure that corporations and the owners of capital continue to increase
their wealth, income, and profits, thus creating a "robust economy"
at the expense of the working class. Concurrently, the wealth gap widens,
46 million Americans are uninsured, two to three million are homeless,
layoffs mount, higher wage jobs are dwindling, benefits are decreasing,
the minimum wage remains frozen at its miniscule 1997 level, and 13% of
Americans live in poverty. But the plutocracy and the denizens of gated
communities are getting fatter and happier. Shall we cut the widows' and
orphans' social security so the elite can afford to buy more yachts? Yes,
- The United States military is afflicting generations
of Iraqis and our own soldiers with cancer and birth defects through the
continued use of depleted uranium.
- Allegedly, the United States is engaged in a "War
on Terror". Terror is a tactic often used by desperate people to evoke
political change. It is not an ideology or a nation. If we are at war,
it is with Islamic Arabs and Persians, some of whom the United States originally
funded and trained to antagonize the Soviet Union. We also provoked this
"enemy" with our ongoing imperial foreign policies and unwavering
support of the murderous Israeli regime.
- Over 3 billion human beings live on less than $2 per
day and lack access to basic necessities. Our multi trillion dollar military
and avaricious corporations ensure that they toe the line, work in the
sweat shops, and bow before the oppressive regimes which accommodate our
- Corporate personhood has evolved to the extent that behemoth
profit-making entities which exploit humanity and the Earth enjoy the rights
of a human being while bearing few of the responsibilities.
- Abundant evidence abounds to demonstrate that the United
States is a nation guided by predatory, narcissistic leaders and institutions.
Yet the most malevolent aspect of this nation is how it portrays itself
as a benevolent guardian of human rights, freedom, and democracy while
perpetrating and enabling some of the most heinous crimes against humanity.
- Ronald Reagan, now heralded as one of our great presidents,
was at the helm as the United States murdered over 200,000 Central Americans
to protect the Capitalist pyramid scheme from the possibility of the rise
of more equitable economic systems in "our" hemisphere.
- Virus-like war criminals like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld,
and John Negroponte continue to infect our political institutions and act
- Despite working hard within the limitations of my context
and circumstances to contribute more to the solution than to the problem,
I felt a sense of guilt as I was enumerating some of the more blatant aspects
of United States turpitude. But then again, if I hadn't corrupted my programming,
I wouldn't perceive these repulsive events and circumstances to be gross
violations of humanity and the Earth.
- In his recent searing satirical indictment of the American
system, the inimitable Joe Bageant wrote:
- As Cotton Mather might well have said, had he the benefit
of blasting down America's new interstates with a Chesterfield dangling
from his lips and a cold Pabst in his pale Protestant claw, "BRING
- (Click here for Joe's complete essay:
- If being a patriot means embracing or supporting the
history, institutions, and leaders of such a hypocritical, deceitful, bellicose,
and avaricious entity, count me out. I refuse to go to my grave owing my
soul to the company store of America's bloody corporatocracy.
- Beyond paying my taxes (which I have chosen to continue
to do because some of my money still goes to socially beneficial programs
and because the consequences of refusing to pay would impede me from fulfilling
some of my higher purposes), I will do little or nothing on behalf of the
Empire and as much as I reasonably can to oppose it. Label me a traitor
if you will, but my loyalties lie with the Higher Power, my family, humanity,
and moral ideals.
- Given my personal history, I believe in the possibility
of redemption. I have no intention of leaving the United States. Perhaps
my fate will parallel Captain Edward John Smith's, but I have not resigned
myself to our ship plunging into the depths of the Atlantic. If enough
of us keep bailing, there is still hope.
- Here's my non-alcoholic toast to the awakening of the
masses to the moral depravity of the United States without the necessity
of a catastrophic event, the arrest and imprisonment of the war criminals
in the American and Israeli governments, the rise of a socio-economic system
concerned with the welfare of the collective rather than the enrichment
of a relatively few elites, the implementation of a political system that
is truly by and for the people, the death of imperialism and Neoliberalism,
access to health care and basic necessities for Earth's 6.5 billion human
beings, the implosion of the obscenely corrupt American Duopoly, the extinction
of environmental abuse, and the end of United States financial and military
aid which enables Israeli crimes against humanity.
- Pipe dreams? Perhaps. But I am enough of an idealist
to humbly persevere in my efforts to help make them a reality.
- I know it is antithetical to the American Way to oppose
war, but I will close with this valediction:
- May justice and peace proliferate around the globe. And
God bless humanity.