Today is Veteran’s Day, a day to remember those who serve/have served to protect and serve. Traditionally, this is the time US Presidents thank the members of the armed services and their families for their commitment to us.
But not Trump. He found a way to berate the efforts of soldiers. During his campaign he found the time and words to mock John McCain’s record of military service.
Trump applied and received deferment to avoid military service. And most recently, Trump could not even offer respectful condolences to the families and friends of soldiers who gave their lives while serving their country.
I wasn’t shocked when it was announced that Trump was the winner of the 2016 US Presidential election. But I was very annoyed with all those individuals who:
1) Thought one African-African president could erase centuries of racism, hate crimes, corruption, etc.
2) Wanted to go back to those “good ole days” of privilege and limited access of educational, social, health,and financial resources.
3) Continue to view bullying and sexual harassment as permissible forms of entertainment.
We survived the first of Trump’s 4 year term. But how will we make it through the next 3 years without the therapy sessions and medication provided thru affordable medical insurance?
Janet Cormier is a painter, writes prose and poetry, and performs comedy. JC prefers different and original over pretty. She loves collecting stuff, but cleaning not so much. Janet also talks to strangers…a lot. Her column now appears weekly on Oddball Magazine.
A Response to President Obama’s State of the Union Plea to Address the Growing Income Inequality in the U.S. (and Around the World) in the Form of a Letter
to the Editor (of the New York Times 12/30/10)
Re: A Question of Fairness. As you admit at the beginning of this editorial “the country (the U.S.) continues to pay a very high price in both security and reputation for the Bush administration’s many violations of inter-national law at Guantanomo Bay, Cuba.” I would add that there were many violations of our own constitution (i.e. cruel and unusual punishment) and our own national laws and the Uniform Code of Military justice were also egregiously violated as there is every reason to believe that the capital crimes of kidnapping, homicide and murder were committed at numerous sites around the world. In fact we know that totally innocent victims from Germany, Canada and Italy were kidnapped and tortured either in U.S. facilities or to foreign governments they were rendered to almost certainly to be tortured. At the very beginning of the Obama administration they were given the strongest mandate possible to investigate what happened at Guantanomo And the white washes and massive cover ups of multiple crimes when Scott Horton and Harper’s Magazine published a piece that blew away the official explanation of three alleged “act of war” suicides at Guantanomo which testimony of the guards that night place at a secret “special ops” center not the individual cells of the almost certainly tortured if not murdered victims (two of whom were on the verge of being released). However, there are multiple reports of torture at this facility whose name has become one thing with human rights abuse which have never been properly investigated. Indeed, the inability of this country to carry out even a systematic investigation of the huge Ponzi scheme in securitized mortgages (the Republican members of the investigating committee just broke off and issued their own separate report which blamed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who currently are holding the bag for 90% of all mortgages written in the U.S. And the individual mortgage holders (who were ripped off by the largest private predatory lenders in the world) is now an open invitation to more bankster fraud. At this point Obama should be impeached and put on trial with Bush and Cheney for continuing on multiple levels the war crimes and the worst sort of ruling class theft from the citizenry. While we may see Obama impeached it surely will not be for these actual crimes so associated with the Bush/Cheney regime. However, it is Obama’s own fault that these investigations which should have occurred did not, and there is no reason to sympathize with him (or his corporate poodle Attorney General Eric Holder) for the predicament which their failure to apply the law has left them. Obama, Holder and indeed a huge portion of the legal profession in the U.S. are now as culpable as Bush/Cheney for the crime spree of the last ten years which continues to make the rule of law in the U.S. into a very, very bad joke. At this point I could care less about people actually going to jail but only an admission of guilt that takes into account the series of editorials you have written over the last at least three years documenting the vast and grotesque failure of our legal system can deal in any way with the systematic crime of the last ten years. The center of this crime wave was clearly the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Justice Dept. Until the lawyers who perpetrated this rape of their own mission are removed from power everything the Justice Dept. does is hollow satire of justice and the spine of the law will not be able to stand.
James E. Van Looy
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. James intended the above letter as a companion piece to this week’s piece “Up in The Air.”
The New York Times I get late from our downstairs landlord
tells me the 6000 page copies of the Senate report on the C.I.A.
black site international program of “enhanced interrogation”/ torture
which were sent to the government agencies involved (C.I.A. Pentagon, State Dept.
etc.) have been kept in locked safes (by order of the Senate Committee Chairman
who took over when the Repugs gained control of the Senate) so that no one
will be able to actually learn anything from them and this with continued efforts
to keep Guantanomo forever a secret fortress of boundless detention
recently revisited when the president (Obama) signed off on another
defense funding bill that forbids the use of any funds to close it,
shows that the cover up in plain sight that began with the
revelations of systematic torture at Abu Ghraib
still continues to the present — 12 years now.
Ho, ho, ho …. Oh, oh, oh …. owwwwwhhh ….
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.
You watch that C-SPAN feed this week? Shit got crazy up on Capitol Hill…
House Democrats led a sit-in at the Capitol building beginning Wednesday at 11:30 am and running for 25 straight hours. Democratic Senators came and joined in support, Elizabeth Warren brought Dunkin. Their intention was to force the House of Representatives to bring forth a bill on gun legislation for a vote, presumably one of the four (or Collins’ fifth option) that was voted down in the Senate on Monday. Those four measures, two proposed by Republicans and two proposed by Democrats dealt with particular pieces of the gun control debate, from closing background check loopholes, to the not-as-simple-as-they-appear “no fly, no buy” measures that coordinate with the nation’s various no fly and terror watch lists. All four were rejected along nearly perfect party lines despite a CNN poll this week that says a large percentage of Americans are in favor of some “common sense” gun measures: 90% supported universal background checks (I know, most places make you do some kind of check, we’ll get back to that in a moment), 87% supporting measures that would prevent felons and those who are mentally ill from getting a gun, and 85% supporting a “no fly, no buy” initiative. Yet even in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando or the many others so recent, we remain stubbornly entrenched in our views, with so little room for movement between the two sides.
In the wake of this type of terrible event, as the phenomenon becomes frighteningly common here in the United States, many of us scramble for answers, with questions and debates about where blame should lie and what solutions might exist towards prevention of future such tragedies. Here in the United States, of course, the discussions surrounding gun violence, gun ownership rights, and what impact legal restrictions can and will have are nothing new. The right to bear arms as outlined in the Second Amendment to our Constitution is passionately protected by a large portion of our citizenry, while the intention and language of said Amendment is the subject of its own debate within the context of modern weaponry. What exactly is the definition of “a well regulated militia” and what bearing does that phrase have on the Amendment as a whole? Many would say that the principle at the center of the Amendment and the right itself is defense against tyranny, believing that an armed citizenry cannot and will not be overtaken by tyrannical rule. For many it also represents a spirit of personal independence and self-reliance, a drive to protect what is yours. All of these are noble principles advocated by the pro-gun crowd. That self-reliance bumps up against societal safety when taken to a particular extreme, but we’ll come back to that in a moment.
The point is that this is an important dialogue worthy of a sophisticated and evolved citizenry, debating with our fellow Americans deep social issues of personal responsibility, freedom and prevention of tyranny, and how we perpetuate notions of violence. And while that dialogue does take place in smaller pockets, on a large scale the two sides simply retreat to familiar and fervently defended stances with no movement made toward compromise. As I mentioned, three of Monday’s Senate votes failed along perfect 53-47 party lines, while the bill sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy aimed at closing the “gun show loophole” gained an additional 3 votes from Senate Republicans. In my opinion, each side of this debate has valid criticisms which we should accept and use as a basis for compromise. On the political right, there are two great notions which comprise much of the argument. 1. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and 2. None of the measures proposed thus far would have had a specific impact on any of the recent tragedies (Omar Mateen was not on the no fly list, for instance). The first is an age-old cliché that argues for personal responsibility but I think understates the deadly nature of firearms. Guns have one solitary purpose, to kill, and when we passively move past that we skew the debate. I think perhaps a more accurate phrase would be “Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people”.
The second point, that the proposed legislations don’t actually address issues that relate to any recent tragedy, is, I think, the more pressing one for the present dialogue. Many critics argue that making background checks truly universal, including trade shows and private sales, is redundant given that, they claim, most places perform a background check anyway. The “no fly, no buy” and related measures rely heavily on several different secret government lists, opening a litany of civil right issues while contributing little in the way of practical results. And even an assault weapons ban (which I’ll get to in a moment) wouldn’t have affected the 2015 Louisiana movie theatre shooting, Dylann Roof’s shooting in Charleston, 2012’s Wisconsin temple shooting, or the 2011 Arizona shooting involving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, all of which were perpetrated using only handguns.
Sunday before Memorial Day the president flies to Afghanistan to speak to the troops about how they have been “defending our freedom” in this dusty, poor rocky region where something less than 1% of the population could even imagine going to the U.S. much less invade and conquer the mighty U.S. As I watch Obama on T.V. I think about the Arab unfortunates picked up in that country in late 2001 or early 2002 tortured there (of course) and then sent to Guantanomo in those orange jump suits over diapers shackled hand and foot for the day and night long flight. As was eventually discovered, they were turned in for a bounty of ten thousand dollars which was worth many years labor in Afghanistan. Still they were held 4 years in Guantanomo. Then when two of them had been told they would finally be released, the three of them were alleged to have committed an “act of war” where they all tied themselves up with white sheeting in their individual cells and at the same time hung themselves in mass terrorist suicide. Back in late 2006 when this all happened I cached the incident away in the back compartments of my brain because it was one of stories whose bizarre construction begged for further investigation. In 2010 the journalist and writer on matters of the security state and the law, Scott Horton, published a story saying he had testimony from 4 Guantanomo NCO’s (Non-Commissioned Officers i.e. sergeants) on perimeter detail that night that the three bodies did not come from the cell blocks where the supposed “act of war” suicides took place but from a secret C.I.A. interrogation center outside their wall. The story was put out by venerable Harper’s Magazine but no other U.S. media discussed it. Ye olde cover up in plain sight. The classic blank out. The editor of Harper’s even wrote a letter to the editor of the NY Times complaining that a quotation “everyone else ignored it’ referred not to his magazine (as the Times interpreted it) but to Scott Horton’s story. They did publish the letter but only those who knew the story would fully understand it. The publication of this story came right after the “underpants’ bomber over Detroit had put the Republicans in full bay and as Obama was trying to find a way to deal with the fact that it was over one year since his order to close Guantanomo in one year and Guantanomo was still open. The Repubs held hearings to show that the medical care at Guantanomo was better than that of many Americans (since tens of millions of Americans had only emergency room access, I guess). Their endless talking point was that ‘we have nothing to be ashamed of about Guantanomo’. Meanwhile (in reality) the NCO’s on guard duty that night in 2006 had gone to the Obama administration in 2009 a year before. That the highest levels of the command staff at Guantanomo had covered up the homicide by torture of three innocent detainees would seem pretty shameful, but no one in the U.S. media or the Obama administration said a word. Now four years later Scott Horton is back with an official document, an e-mail written by another of the security guards that night in 2006 who was called to the camp emergency room to find one of the “act of war” detainees on a gurney with his legs being tied up “act of suicide” style but when he took the man’s pulse he was still alive and so despite the fact that there was still a noose around the man’s neck the security agent began CPR and indeed on the way to the hospital from the E.R. he managed to cough up orange material and foam before finally expiring. Interestingly, Scott Horton had managed to obtain this document because it was redacted using a white out program which investigators have learned to reverse thus revealing the whole redacted document and ultimate proof of the cover up of homicide. The torture technique applied to these three men is called “dry boarding” where instead of pouring water down the detainee’s mouths they jammed rags down their throats (old orange jump suits?). There have been other cases of this suffocation technique including in the U.S. at a brig in S.C. One of these “act of war” suicides had actually written an ecstatic letter to his father saying he would soon be home which was received after the official death notice. Meanwhile Obama is now sitting on 6000 page report on the C.I.A. special ops torture program completed by Dianne Feinstein and the Senate Intelligence Committee (don’t even think oxymoron) which (of course) has been given to the C.I.A. for redaction. Feinstein, a former prosecutor, has been the protector of the C.I.A. through the at least ten year cover up of the crimes committed under the “enhanced interrogation” program since the cover up went public back in 2004 in Iraq with the release of the Abu Ghraib photos. But Feinstein has finally admitted that what went on in these programs as detailed in her report is much worse than previously known. In fact she made a speech on the floor of the Senate saying her staff had been threatened with prosecution by the C.I.A. through the Justice Dept. for taking documents from Langley where the C.I.A. forced them to work to their offices on Capitol Hill. The C.I.A. had demanded that they use only C.I.A. computers but then documents kept disappearing from the staffers’ files, so they downloaded documents onto their own computers and took them to the Capitol. The C.I.A. called this espionage. Hence, I guess, the logic of the Obama-ites that the C.I.A. should be able to redact the Senate report on their “enhanced interrogation” program. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we practice torturously to deceive. Then my mind now a clogged toilet with all this detail, I go to my computer and my favorite web site Counterpunch where I see a story about the “war on terror” locale, Columbia, which tells about 4 union members shot by special ops Columbian style trained by U.S. special ops in the “war on drugs”. The picture shows the bodies of the four young union members were wrapped in white sheeting and put on display at a nearby village decorated with signs saying they were insurgents in the civil/ drug war there. All this murder with ritual display is done on regular basis in order to justify the hundreds of millions of dollars Columbia gets from the U.S. every year. It is estimated that 6,000 Columbians have died this way over the last decade of the drug war. As I read this story I remember a lamestream media story that reported a mass grave outside a Columbian military base containing hundreds, perhaps, thousands of bodies right next to the where U.S. special ops were training Columbian special ops. On the news they announce that the U.S. is opening 4 new bases in sub-Saharan Africa in order to train special ops there and, of course, the U.S. will leave 10,000 troops in Afghanistan to train their security forces. Obama will return to the U.S. to give a major policy speech to the graduating West Point cadets and to justify his actions (or not) in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine which his “critics” will characterize as “weak” and ‘feckless”. Oh, how can poor Afghanistan support its hundreds of thousands of U.S. trained security forces with a GNP of a few billion dollars a year (exactly the question I asked when Obama surged in Afghanistan in 2009-10 tripling U.S. troop levels and expenses but none of the current critics said a thing then). Meanwhile I’m back in the very old U.S. of A. riding on trains on the N.E. corridor that can’t be on time because of drawbridges that go up but don’t come down and this is the finest part of passenger rail transit in the U.S. train schedule. And soon the president will order troops back into Iraq to fight the Islamic state whose leadership first met in a U.S. detention center in Iraq and who came to leadership as U.S. special ops night time raids “took out” the al Qaeda cadres above them leaving them the perfect core of a “terrorist” caliphate in Syria. Torture. In our face. The Great Big All One Thing Torture of Torture. Corporate Caesar, Congress and Supremes. Torture, torture.
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. Today marks his one year anniversary as a poet columnist for Oddball Magazine.
I wasn’t surprised when by the Ferguson jury found Officer Wilson innocent of killing Michael Brown. The verdict wasn’t based on concerns about justice; the jury had one mission to fulfill…to preserve Ferguson’s way of life.
And as quiet as it’s kept, Ferguson’s way of life, is what many people in this country crave. Yes, in 2014 racism is alive and nurtured.
I am sure the verdict was reached in record time and that the continuous delays in the announcement were staged for our benefit. The delays built dramatic tension and created this facade of a thoughtful review of the “evidence.”
A WBUR reporter asked a black man in Ferguson to share his thoughts about the delayed verdict. The man’s response was to the point. He believed that the “forces that be” were hoping that the weather would get so cold the protesters would delay their protests. I would add nothing distracts and delays a delay more than the holidays season.
I believe that announcement of the verdict was dragged out to buy time, waiting for the Republicans to settle into the Senate and Congress, and undo or ignore the investigative and enforcement procedures established by Democrats. Then again, given the Democrats’ (elected officials and voters) lack of support of President Obama, that might not be an important point. But why gamble?
I have been encouraged by the protests challenging the verdict and Ferguson’s arrogance. I just hope this support has more strength and commitment than the previous Occupy Boston movements. Right now I am one weary African American woman and my spirit waivers between “just hope” and “hope”.
Janet Cormier is a painter, writes prose and poetry, and performs comedy. JC prefers different and original over pretty. She loves collecting stuff, but cleaning not so much. Janet also talks to strangers… a lot. Her column appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.