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It’s All One Thing #202: 9/11(Like Synchronicity) Strikes Again

 

As I flip channels to escape ads (or try to) I keep seeing the image
of the Falling Man who the History Channel claims has been identified
by his family and they are African American and they say he was one
of those whose love of life lifted everyone but cannot keep him crashing
to Earth to escape the flames that turned the towers to plumes of dust.

Interspersed with the image of this young man are shots of first the one
struck sky-scraper and then the second plane crashing again and again
into the second tower and then one and then the other tower collapsing
over and over as the spreading cloud of dust then rushes right at all of us.

Meanwhile 16 years later it is almost 16 years since the U.S. (that is us)
invaded Afghanistan and more than 14 years since the U.S. (that is us)
invaded Iraq and the U.S. just doubled down with a new Afghan surge
(as it did at the time of Obama’s first year) and still has thousands of troops
in Iraq after a series of battles in cities taken in the original invasion 2003-04
in Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul where tens of thousands more Iraqis were killed
caught between U.S. bombs and artillery and (ISIS) Islamic State snipers.

Civilian casualties increased in Afghanistan every year since Obama’s surge
there (which, of course, really began under the Bush regime in ’08) so the “U.S.
bombed Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia in 2016”.*

So over and over I see the upside down fleeting image of the falling man hurtling
to Earth head first as we all went to endless war as the bipartisan war parties
signed off on the Patriot Act, and total surveillance, and the funding for the wars
actually a giant, indeed unbounded slush fund for the privatized occupations
created specifically so corporations like Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) and Blackwater
could operate outside accountability, beyond any rule of law, outsourcing torture,
outsourcing assassination, paying bribes to and arming the very forces we were fighting
and created the Islamic State in Syria in Iraq in the Iraqi detention camps set up by the U.S.
from those who rose to power as the U.S. systematically assassinated the Al Qaeda leaders
above them. And the most horrible part of the whole bleeding ulcer mess thing is to see
that poor soul young African American beloved man still hurtling head first to Earth. Again.

*NBC News headline in Glenn Greenwald Intercept piece on how Hillary’s war-mongering effected the 2016 election.

 

James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. Van Looy leads the Labyrinth Creative Movement Workshop, which his Labyrinth titled poems are based on. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.

 

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Wise Words with Bruce Wise

 

Zhao Zhenkai
          by Lu “Reed ABCs” Wei

He fell into the bay, down by that northern isle’s coast,
and floated out of China on a boat, a lonely boast.
The waves rolled over him as he continued on his way,
the distances grew larger as each night turned in…to…day.
He pressed on through the tides and passed through light that was so dim.
He paused beside the edge of sky that covered over him.
He dropped into the dreams of Dao, beyond the Red Guard Dog,
that barked and barked and barked and barked, until he drowned in fog.
The mists of time have left him right upon the cold seashore,
and this is where he will remain until forevermore.

 

Lu “Reed ABCs” Wei is a poet of China. Among his contemporaries, the poet he is most attuned to is Bei Dao.

_________________________________________________________________

The Third Man
          by Cawb Edius Reel

The Third Man, a noir Trümmerfilm, cast by director Reed,
was written by the noted English novel-writer Greene,
and starred Welles, Cotton, Valli, Howard, Ponto, Breuer, Deutsch,
along with Halbik, Chesnakov, Lee, Hyde-White and Bleibtreu.
The film takes place in Post-World-War Vienna’s war debris,
expressionist, Dutch-angle-shot cinematography.
The zither player Karas played its easy score and theme,
its soundtrack topping charts with comic incongruity.
The movie caught the cynical, exhausted atmosphere
of devastated, Cold-War Europe filled with angst and fear.

 

Cawb Edius Reel is a poet of film, its shadows and its sheens. Reel has always thought Welles’ main contribution to “The Third Man” was his absence, and remains unimpressed with Welles’ line, “You know what the fellow said—in Italy for thirty years, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” I would point out that the great Swiss mathematicians, Euler and the Benoullis, easily compete with Michelangelo and Da Vinci, in their visions, and as such leave Welles with the cuckoo clocks.

_________________________________________________________________

MC-130 Combat Talon Transport Aircraft Drop
          by Ed “Bear” C. U. Lewis

The US forces dropped a GBU-43 upon
an ISIS tunnel complex used in east Afghanistan.
It was the first time that the weapon had been utilized,
more than ten tons of TNT, its blast was realized.
The MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast) bomb, though smaller than
the four-times stronger Russian thermobaric bomb, still can
deliver on plus-ninety murderers in Nangarhar,
and rage against the black-flag death-promoters waging war.
The Mother of All Bombs, though not the Father of All Bombs,
can still destroy a group that butchers children, dads and moms.

 

Ed “Bear” C. U. Lewis is a taciturn poet of military equipment. One of his favourite autobiographers is W. T. Sherman, for his decisiveness, “If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve…” and for his sobriety, “I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot, nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded, who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”

_________________________________________________________________

I Hear America
          by Usa W. Celebride

I hear America now howling, diverse yawps I hear,
those of protesters, chanting, those policing, loud and clear,
the politicians arguing about creeds and beliefs,
the media engaged in controversy, rage and grief,
the rock stars and the rappers, actors on the movie screen,
the gangs of violence, those dealing drugs and the obscene,
truck drivers, autos, buses, RVs, roaring down our roads,
the TV advertisers, louder than their episodes,
the bombers and the murderers destroying people lives,
and people singing karaoke in carousing dives.

 

Usa W. Celebride is a poet of America. He enjoys the expansive energy and dynamism of Walt Whitman.

 

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A Twist of JP Lime: Syria Strike – First Step on the Road to (Another) War?

 

Shayrat air base

This past Thursday, April 6, at approximately 8:40 EST, President Trump ordered a military strike against the Sharyat airbase in Syria.

This move was in direct response to the chemical weapon attack that occurred in Khan Shaykhun on April 4, killed at least 70 Syrian civilians in the Idlib province.

It represents a severe and sudden change in policy from the Trump administration regarding the ongoing crisis in Syria and specifically its attitude towards the president, Bashar al-Assad.  Citizen and candidate Trump had quite famously taken a hard and unequivocal line against Pres Obama getting involved in Syria.  During the election he stopped just short of saying that he’d engage Assad as a means of defeating ISIS, saying in the second presidential debate, “I don’t like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS.”

This latest chemical attack “crossed a lot of lines” for President Trump (or perhaps for Ivanka, rather) which is reportedly why he moved so decisively and unilaterally.  But the strike has seemingly raised more questions than it has answered, questions about the strike’s sum effect, its legality, and what message it is intended to send both abroad and to our citizens.  Moreover it raises significant questions about the US’s position and strategy regarding the conflict in Syria and its brutal dictator.

 

Syria Strike – We have a few questions

While nearly all Americans were surprised by the action, opinions on the military strike are sharply divided, within both wings of our political establishment and among our citizenry.  We’ve seen leaders on the left, such as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, quickly come out in support of the strike.  We’ve heard from conservative senators like Rand Paul, along with Democrats like Ted Lieu and Tim Kaine, who believe the strike was executed illegally (because it had no congressional approval) and without proper strategy.  And while 79% of senators support the action, plenty of elected officials have been weakly in the middle, supportive but wishing that the POTUS had consulted them first, or hedging their comments to allow for a change in the near future in case this all pans out badly.

Among those with whom I’ve personally discussed the issue, ranging across the political spectrum, in-person and online, strangers and friends, the levels of support and condemnation are even more passionate. Many of those who ardently support the strike view it as a welcome change from the perceived weakness of the Obama administration on foreign policy.  Many refer to Obama’s “red line” in 2013 and the importance of maintaining the ban on chemical weapons in modern warfare.  Is Pres Trump’s strike the fulfillment of that promise, which resulted in a deal to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapon stockpile, but stalled out militarily when Pres Obama went to Congress for authorization?  Will that history determine the administration’s position on executive unilateral action or will they, too, attempt to convince a war-weary American people that a military excursion is both right and necessary?

At a time when the proposed national budget includes severe cuts to social programs while dramatically increasing our already enormous military spending, many raise the objection of detonating $95M of taxpayer money on what amounts to a symbolic strike.  Many also raise the issue of the Syrian refugee crisis and the discordance of our bombing a nation while maintaining our current ban on the immigration of their beleaguered citizens here to the US.

Many questions have been raised about the legitimacy of the strike.  It has been widely reported that the Russian military were informed of the strike ahead of time, and there are several reports that Syrian forces also/subsequently were informed and given time to move personnel and equipment.  Photos of the airbase after the strike clearly reveal that the runway itself was unharmed and that Syrian warplanes were already taking off from the base within 24 hours of the strike, for continued non-chemical bombing of rebel forces.

 

Syria Strike – What’s the message?

In the conversations I’ve had since Thursday, it would seem that a subset of our population expresses readiness for armed conflict, while many remain weary and wary of new incursions.  Some of the most common responses:

What would you have done, nothing? 

Both Syria and Russia would be too afraid to take us on in a war.

I’d rather take out North Korea before they take us out. (a direct quote)

 

And most commonly:

Trump’s action sends a strong message.

 

But what message, exactly, does it send?

Does it promote a message that the US is back to lead on a global scale, ready to re-assume our role as the world’s policeman, once again ready to make the world safe for democracy?  Are we ready for that? Or have we been coaxed into an ill-advised fight, like Marty McFly reacting to Biff calling him “chicken”?  Is the strike part of a broader strategy for the nation and region? (Spoiler: it isn’t.)

Is it beneficial because now other political adversaries such as North Korea, to whose coast the Naval Carl Vinson strike group has been deployed this week, will see the US and our leader as unpredictable and therefore might be frightened into scaling back their nefarious actions?  Is that the type of deterrent we feel confident employing?

In my opinion, much like our graceless leader, the US is unqualified to lead internationally at this juncture.  We’ve made some bad decisions, we don’t win foreign wars, we have low confidence in our elected officials.  We shouldn’t be the ones to lead the world and keep it safe and it would have been nice for another nation to step up and fill that role over the last decade and a half.  But that didn’t happen and the authoritarian ring-wing believes it is their necessary duty, regardless of qualification or strategy.

They believe military might equals strength, which it indeed does at times, but not necessarily.  And when combined with bluster and ignorance it is a frightening tinderbox.

 

Syria Strike – Was it legal?

There are two questions about the Syria strike that loom larger than these others, in my opinion.

First is the question about the power of the President to wage military action without the voted approval of Congress, as mentioned above.  Does the US Constitution imbue, forbid, or leave ambiguous the powers of the POTUS, who is Commander-in-Chief of the military, to launch attacks on a foreign power?

Article I of the US Constitution gives us what is called the War Powers Clause, which grants to Congress alone the power to declare war.

The Congress shall have power … To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water…

When the issue came to relevance during the Mexican-American War, then Senator Abraham Lincoln had this to say on the War Powers Clause:

“The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.”

Some interpret that Article 2 of the Constitution, wherein the President is designated as Commander-in-Chief of the military, to mean he is also inherently given the authority to initiate conflicts.  The less controversial interpretation is that he is granted control of our armed forces once a conflict has been declared and begun, but this, too, becomes less clear when we realize that war has not been formally “declared” by the United States since 1941.

The answer to this question of executive power is heavily debated, even in well-informed circles.  I recommend this in-depth analysis by Jack Goldsmith, Harvard law professor and former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Council.

“It is a remarkable fact about the U.S. Constitution that 228 years after its creation, we still don’t know what limits, if any, it imposes on unilateral presidential uses of military force.  The original understanding of Congress’s power to “declare War” and the president’s power as chief Executive and “Commander in Chief” are contested.  The Supreme Court has never really weighed in beyond saying, during the Civil War, that if “war be made by invasion of a foreign nation, the President is not only authorized but bound to resist force by force.”  Constitutional practice over 228 years has seen a slow and steady expansion of unilateral presidential war powers, mostly (with the notable exception of the Swiss cheese War Powers Resolution) with the support or at least seeming-acquiescence of Congress, which supplied the president with a massive powerful standing military force.  But the constitutional significance of this practice, while not irrelevant, is hard to fathom.”

The subject is further clouded by the War Powers Act of 1973, created during our entrenchment in Vietnam with the goal of clarifying and limiting executive military power.  The law, enacted over Nixon’s Presidential veto, stipulates that the POTUS must inform Congress of any troop deployment within 48 hours, and that no military action can last longer than 60 days without a further resolution from Congress.  The Act, though, has had a mostly adverse effect, providing (perceived) loopholes for unauthorized military actions from nearly every POTUS since its enactment, sidestepping the legalities through different rationales.  Pres Clinton violated it in Kosovo, Obama in Libya. The 2001 AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force) against Terrorism granted Pres Bush a broad gray area, eliminating the mention of specific nations altogether.

With the Supreme Court declining to weigh in on this issue out of fear of politicizing the bench, and supporters and dissenters on the legislative level both ardent in their view, it would seem this question will continue to be decided by executive agenda and controversial precedent.

Syria Strike – What comes next?

The largest and most pressing question about the Syria strike, the one on nearly everyone’s mind both at home and abroad, is what comes next?  Are we prepared to go to war in Syria to protect its citizens, 400k of whom have been killed since the civil war began and another 11M made refugees?  Will we work to oust the brutal dictator and enact a yet another regime change in the Middle East?

Are we prepared to commit American troops to a third simultaneous foreign war, especially given our losing record?  Do we have a plan?

For many of those feeling encouraged and/or accomplished by Thursday’s strike, it seems largely predicated on some notion that Assad and Putin will not respond, that war with the United States is too formidable a fate to invite.  What happens if that is not the case?

Both countries publicly condemned the strike on Friday, with Russia saying,

The President of Russia regards the US airstrikes on Syria as an act of aggression against a sovereign state delivered in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext. … This move by Washington has dealt a serious blow to Russian-US relations, which are already in a poor state. 

Russia also suspended a 2015 air safety agreement that coordinated flights between the US and Russia in Syrian airspace and immediately dispatched the Admiral Grigorovich frigate to the Syrian coast.

Update: On Monday it was also announced that Russia reportedly dispatched a small fleet to join the Grigorovich.

A joint command center comprised of Iran, Russia, and other Assad-friendly forces went a step further in their statement, saying,

“The United States crossed red lines by attacking Syria, from now on we will respond to anyone, including America if it attacks Syria and crosses the red lines.  America knows very well our ability and capabilities to respond well to them, [and] we will respond without taking into consideration any reaction and consequences.”

Even within the Trump administration there seems to be genuine disconnect as to whether removing Assad from power is a crucial step going forward.  UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and NSA Director H.R. McMaster have stated this week that regime change is both necessary and probably inevitable.  Sec of State Rex Tillerson was more reserved saying, “Through that political process that we believe the Syrian people will lawfully be able to decide the fate of [Assad]”, while Pres Trump has said of the dictator, “He’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen.”

I find our lack of strategy to be the most frightening and infuriating part of the Syria strike.  Not only was a complete reversal of the President’s stance on Syria and Assad seemingly decided overnight, not only was it a strike on a sovereign nation executed without the proper congressional approval, not only was it symbolic and not at all actually punitive, but we also have no indication of where the President now stands on the issue and what he’ll do next, because even he doesn’t know.  What does it say about us that so many are eager to give the power of war to one man with an itchy trigger-finger because we feel our international toughness might be called into question, and that even while we argue about the strategies in our two existing wars, that there are those of us bloodthirsty to jump into a third conflict “over there”?

Do we indeed find ourselves now at the outset of another ugly armed conflict, yet another ethical quagmire impossible to conquer, stretched across years and decades that will further entrench and divide us from each other?

Do we have the power to alter our course?

 

For more takes on music, culture, politics and more, visit JP Lime Productions.

 

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It’s All One Thing #142: The Ever Irony ALL ONE THING

 

After years of repeated Benghazi investigations costing millions
(all of which manage to ignore the central facts of the never say die tragedy:
that is that the ambassador and his aides and guards were embedded in a C.I.A.
operation to ship arms from Libyan dead dictator Khadaffi’s arsenal to Syria
to be used by “terrorists” like Al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) and Islamic State aka ISIS/ISIL)
Hillary Clinton is finally revealed to have operated her own server eschewing the U.S. system
and this effort to for one avoid the freedom of information law eventually led to a congressional
committee demanding and getting every e-mail she wrote as Secretary of State and exposing
them all including e-mails reclaimed from her deletion to the All One Thing World where
everything you ever wrote somehow cannot be expunged and lives forever exactly the way
the people once thought publishing a book would make them the perpetual corporeal member
of the wisdom of all time human mankind but now those poor clowns who plot our politics
can’t seem to realize the e-mails always come out to reveal them using the Democratic National
Committee (D.N.C.) to destroy Bernie Sanders insurgent campaign for president and, thereby,
to help bankster militarist Hillary Rodham (Clinton) so we all see their rigged system and plots
with the “journalists” in this Ever Irony ALL ONE THING so what do the supporters
of militarist bankster Hillary Killary say about this revelation, this nude naked apocalypse
of truth about their manipulation of their own system but, get this, ever irony “Putin did it”
yes. Putin stole the e-mails as if somehow this excuses their rigging their own system as they
turn the whole process into a joke of an election we hear “the Russians did it” as if somehow
this changes everything which we all know now as THE EVER IRONIC ALL ONE THING.

 

James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. Van Looy leads the Labyrinth Creative Movement Workshop, which his Labyrinth titled poems are based on. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.

 

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Poem by Mel Waldman

 

Dancing With a Mustang in Inner Space

The soul-shattering news alert bit me in the face, cut me up, opened old wounds, and
rushed into my bloodstream. I heard the excruciating echoes of the past. And I thought
about wild horses and my father’s horse story.

“It bit me in the face when I was a kid,” he said nonchalantly. “Guess I wasn’t looking,
son. Got this pretty scar, right here in my left cheek,” he pointed proudly, grinning
wickedly, his gold teeth glittering in the sprawling sun on the Coney Island Boardwalk.
We sat on a wooden bench, devoured Nathan’s hot dogs with mustard and sauerkraut and
sizzling French fries with thick globs of ketchup. And Father told multicolored stories of
good and evil.

Maybe it was his right cheek. I can’t recall. But he rode horses in his youth in the
Austrian wilderness, perhaps the small, chestnut Haflinger or Avelignese stallions.

I drifted off again and danced with a Mustang in Inner Space, swirled around the Land of
Daydreams, clutching barefoot hooves that cut my olive hands, for the horny covering
stabbed my flesh as the majestic beast rose toward the Heavens;

&
I became the Mustang in my head on this day of unfathomable evil when another
innocent was beheaded by ISIS or ISIL or IS, the terrorist Apocalypse.

Evil is here and now, and it thrusts itself into our lives, for it is a thick knife slashing our
skin and cutting deep into our flesh and bones; and piercing and penetrating our psyches
and contaminating our souls; as it enters and violates us again and again.

Dancing with a Mustang in Inner Space, I rage against unspeakable evil, with the fire of
justice and the celestial breath of life and my love for others. I eat the dust of the dead
and mourn for them, and mixed with my anguish and its vastness, and my trauma and
shock, and the death of whatever I was before this bestial beheading, is the hole at the
center of my being-the emptiness that never ends-the abyss that is the nothingness that
gives birth to rage, a wild stallion that cries out against evil

Evil is here and now, and it wears many faces, and it calls itself myriad names, but today,
I call it ISIS, and we must obliterate it, for our survival and humanity and love.

I am a Mustang in Inner Space and I rage against unfathomable evil.

 

Artwork © Stacy Esch
Artwork © Stacy Esch

 

Dr. Mel Waldman is a psychologist, poet, and writer whose stories have appeared in numerous magazines including Hardboiled Detective, Espionage, the Saint, Pulp Metal Magazine and Audience. His poems have been widely published in magazines and books including Skive Magazine, Poetry Pacific, Poetica, The Jewish Press, The Jerusalem Post, Hotmetal Press, Ascent Aspirations, and Namaste Fiji: The International Anthology of Poetry. A past winner of the literary Gradiva Award in Psychoanalysis, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in literature and is the author of 11 books. He recently completed an experimental mystery novel inspired by one of Freud’s case studies.

Stacy Esch lives and works in West Chester, Pennsylvania, teaching English at West Chester University. Digital art and photography are the twin passions that compete alongside her interest in writing, reading, songwriting, and gardening. She has previously published works in Ibbetson Street, Turkshead Review and wordriver literary review. She has produced cover art for chapbooks by Kenneth Pobo (Save My Place and Placemats) and her artwork is featured at Spruce Alley Press, where she published a colorful 2014 Calendar as well as distinctive illustrations for the chapbook, When The Light Turns Green.