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Thursday, May 29, 2008

2008 Election: Everybody (or maybe just 3) want to rule the world

Unless you've been hiding out under a metamorphic or igneous, you've probably noticed that 3 people are in the final hunt for the most powerful position in these American lands. If you have been hiding out, say for 60 years, go back to your cave with your sanity, because really, I mean really, you don't want to embrace any culture developed since that time. (Not to say those were the good ol' days...but you are not gonna like it...here...and now. Rock & Roll isn't exactly a smooth cultural transition. Nor is TV/VCR/IPod/Gotta blow up my cell phone hypervisual display gonna appeal to you, the lost person, from Wake Island or Bikini atoll.)
For those non-rock people, this election cycle has seen plenty of fire on the Democrats side.
Hillary found her voice once she got peeled in Iowa. (But lost it down in South Carolina. She doesn't speak southern...ya dig.)
Barack's voice was clear and resonating to young people and disenchanted people, to go along with whatever social demographic Hillary didn't poll well with.
McCain fought as only a Navy man could through the Scopes trial that is the Republican nomination process. Winning out over a band of misfit toys for this party, he now is gone a courtin' anyone with money, attachment to ideological similarities to the Republican base and even his current commander-in-chief. So principled, until he's just about 15,000,000 or so heartbeats away from the office.
Meanwhile, the Democrats can't get 'er done. Hillary realizes that February 5, her personal groundhog day, was not to be a royal crowning of her candidacy, but the beginning of a clock- cleaning adventure. (She clean out her clock, releasing Mark Penn from his campaign strategy duties.)
Don't... stop...thinkin' about...Barack likely played through Hill's head all night long... all night long. All Night. Getting smart, she ditched her ed-u-makation, got down to bid-ness, and tossed back a few down at the the Pigly Wigly. (see below video taken in Crown Point, Indiana, a stones throw from my porch...)

Barack's candidacy took a turn for the worse with Jeremiah Wright preachin' and a proselytizing about everything from 9/11 to AIDS coming via government experiments in Africa. Oh boy. Can't you give a brotha a break, rev? Am I running for President, or, are you?
After denouncing and repudiating his pastor's comments, some of them made back when I was still optimistic about a normal life, Barack could only add to his elite black man baggage, that grew up without a dad, by saying people were bitter and used faith and guns to get through it.

Stereotypes do not become you Barack. Now you lost most of those people between Hillbillyville East and Pottersville West, those white (working class) voters Hillary panders to, while you try to educate them, and enumerate the ways the Republicans screwed them over since 2001 (and years prior.) But they just go back to those loud guns, shooting pool (which you should have done first, not bowling, fire that political surrogate) and drinking on Saturday, praying on Sunday life they always have led. YEEEE!!!! HAWWW!!!!!

Now Hillary's strategy has changed. (Not much.)

Screw the math. Forget the results of 48 elections or so...just hang on to Michigan and Florida and that political clout your hubby still has in the party. He's not electable you know, something might happen, in June, or whenever.... Ferraro likes me, obsesses over me, sees what I see...yah, that's the Democratic ticket. So what if I lose an entire Demographic (unless I ask Barack to be my VP), I can beat that tired septuagenarian McCain. (He still thinks he's in a cage in Viet-fuckin'-nam.)

McCain wakes up periodically to espouse whatever keeps Kudlow & Co. happy (and the neocons too.)

Attention Barack: close the deal, Mr. President. It's that fuckin' simple. Put that old warhorse in her (or his) place. Stop trying to sell me on your CV or foreign policy bona fides. Take them to the presidential woodshed. Hell, you got a current President sending love letters from Israel, guising them in that neocon babble that Scott McClellan barely understood. (Not so smart, but he can get a book deal. Fairness be not thy name.) You got 3 SOBs trying to take you down, hello, that means you really are pissing up the wrong political tree - but you got a bunch of slacker, 20 somethings, educated no less, that admire you. You got almost an entire race supporting you. You got white dudes like me actually fucking caring...You got Obama girl...too.

It's ashame Everybody Wants to Rule The World...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We Aren't The People: Who 'we are' is defined by others and their operations

We Aren't The People We'd Like to Be
Often, during my last few years of freedom, where the light hasn't shown very bright or for very long, I have mulled over the concept of what is America about today. Most times, I don't see a progressive, innovative or idealistic version of the amber waves of grain. Most times, I see the rabble sounding like rabble, the leadership sounding war-like and profit-motivated and the journalistic hacks carving up the little bit of goodness into itsy bitsy tidbits fit for a low-fat shake, that is also meant for quick consumption and obvious discard. The America I see does not impress me.

The knocks and dings and chinks in the American armour come through it's incessant desire that everyone else agrees with them about the state of affairs around the world. That somehow, in its 232-year history, it has went from a neophyte to the preeminent scholar on what is supposely a difficult skill to master as leading nation on Earth.

While our voices are loud and obnoxiously heard throughout the global community, I am very sure the sounds coming out of our helter skelter mouths have scared, annoyed and otherwise, been ignored. We don't speak with a common voice - to be sure - but the media releases, words from our leaders (President Bush, anyone?) and weird and destructive viewpoints I get from middle America, leave one to wonder, "who the fuck would listen to us?" (Not exactly promoting my measured view with that bomb of a word. But alas, it does fit the American outlook I am discussing.)

While I am pointing out (or generically discussing) only the bad vibes of our current culture, I may be ignoring the more promising aspects of the underbelly of our nation. Reason: until this promising underbelly becomes the mantlepiece of grander, more lucid, vision, one cannot foist up the potential in the face of a harsh reality filled with the deceit of three scores of undermining power.

Power Players That Have Made Our Bed
In the last 60 years (at least), since we garnered the superpower status of war victory, we have politically, economically and socially gone down the crapper. We see ourselves as too superior; ignoring our allies' wise counsel of years, while making horrid decisions concerning our foes. We impatiently decide upon a world with only dollar signs in our eyes. And are led to believe in our country's leadership. (Ignoring conflicts of interest that have led us to policies we now maybe at great lengths suffering from...)

Capitalism, Inc., CIA, Inc. and 1600 Pennsyvlania Ave.
Shortly after WWII, Bechtel Corporation, whose founders built the Hoover Dam, were engaged in quick-n-dirty capitalism in Saudi Arabia, putting up oil implementations, pipelines, refineries, airports, etc. (Trans-Arabian Pipeline) During their stay though, they would not employ Jews, and often bent over backwards to appeal to Saudi royalty, building personal homes, lavish driveways and pools for these men. (Friends in High Places, Laton McCartney)

This wouldn't be news but for the connections to key political power players going back to early days of the CIA, and even long prior to that. Men like John McCone (future head of the Atomic Energy Commission and CIA) ran Bechtel-McCone in the 1940's. Allen Dulles, spook extraordinaire, became close to Stephen Bechtel (playing golf together), who would take on many, many projects - BART system in San Fran, The Big Dig in Boston, Dresden-1 (Nuclear Power) in Illinois and more importantly, many projects in the Middle East. (Bechtel attended Purdue University, my alma mater.)

Most of the intrigue started during the midst of WWII, when Harold L. Ickes, father of Harold M. Ickes (current Hillary Clinton strategist, Bill Clinton deputy White House Chief), who worked for both Roosevelts, possibly allowed war contracts to slip by his office that favored the Bechtel-McCone partnership. The Canol Project was quote:

" to be a major refinery at the Norman Wells oilfields in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and run a pipeline from there 1,200 miles southwest through the Yukon Territory into Alaska...Less that a year after it was finished, the plant and pipeline was abandoned. It had cost the American taxpayer $134 million. [1945 Dollars]"

But then again, maybe it all began with the overthrow of the Iranian leader, Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, named Operation Ajax. In the height of the cold war, with communist threat ever present, Kermit Roosevelt Jr., CIA agent and grandson of Teddy, would be the decision maker in overthrowing a elected leader to insert the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, aka the Shah of Iran, and the man we came to know via the TV in the late 1970's during the Carter administration.

As The New York Times, published in 2000, reported:

''Roosevelt pointed out that there was no other way by which the
government could be changed and the test was now between Mr. Mossadegh and his
force and the shah and the army, which was still with him, but which would soon
slip away...It was the C.I.A.'s first successful overthrow of a foreign government, and the shah stayed in power until the Islamic revolution of 1979. 'For an operation to last 25 years is not so bad,' one of Mr. Roosevelt's C.I.A. colleagues, Samuel Halpern, said today. 'It fell apart. Every operation cannot go on forever.'

...John Waller, one of Mr. Roosevelt's intelligence colleagues, said today that Winston Churchill had asked Mr. Roosevelt to discuss the overthrow of Mr. Mossadegh and, with Mr. Waller paraphrasing, said, 'Kim, if I were a young man again, I would have done anything to have worked with you in that operation.' ''

Bechtel was closely tied to this entire operation with the obvious goal of obtaining oil supplies for the United States while profiting handsomely.

A Few Good Men

Reagan's Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, Secretary of State George Shultz, Nixon's CIA director Richard Helms, AEC Head Robert Hollingsworth, Parker T. Hart, Rear Admiral John G. Dillon, former Senator J. Bennett Johnston, among many others, have worked in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II administrations or liasoned for government agencies, but also worked for Bechtel Corporation at one point or another. Bechtel has trawled for executives from the Pentagon, State Department, Interior Department, World Bank, and the West Wing of the White House and also placed high executives in its ranks from those sources. And by no means is this list complete.


Bechtel and its political cronies have long been apart of a semi-secret meeting called Bohemian Grove. Many of the most conversative, financially friendly and well-connected men - Presidents Nixon and Reagan attended in one appearance caught on camera - have made their way to the retreat like atmosphere. Late last year, President Bill Clinton responded to your typical heckler: "The Bohemian club! Did you say Bohemian club? That's where all those rich Republicans go up and stand naked against redwood trees right? I've never been to the Bohemian club but you oughta go. It'd be good for you. You'd get some fresh air!"

The End Game (of this post)

So what does this mean? It means that much of our current dilemma can be traced back to the decisions, viewpoints and intrigues of the beginning of the cold war, which was not always as cold as we are often led to believe. That our energy dilemma is a by-product of shifting foreign policy, or attention to one oil-rich nation after another. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, all have been at the masthead of what we call a foreign policy debate for 60 years. The Saudis liked capitalism, hate our allowance of women a voice and aren't too keen on American justice, such as they likely believe it is. (But they like our money, and spending it, as their recent purchases reflect.)

Iranians: we overthrew their government. All bets are off. It shouldn't surprise that McCain plays up the idiocy of diplomatic relations. (Why would you trust a country that inserted its CIA into your politics, causing untold suffering (and resentment) and now, wants to talk?) Does Barack Obama have any ideas (or hole cards) that the Iranians might trust, back off in their feelings and give a listen to? (Why would you reason, if you were them?)

Iraqis. Talk about playing both sides. We often forget the outcomes of our duplicity. It always seems easy to turn the page and forget that many remember what we have attempted in our past. They haven't and so, cooperation isn't high on their achievability scale.

Meanwhile, when we go after terrorists, are we really going after them? I mean, you'd think that in 7 years of diligent efforts we might be able to track down 1 crazy man that thinks the America People are an outgrowth of their governmental choices. (WE ARE NOT. BUT WHO CAN CONVINCE ANYONE OF THAT?) Does it bother you that after 7 years, we aren't any closer to capturing the man? Do you think there is a reason why? Think Hard - I think you know what I believe is going on.

But keep watching TV, ignoring the problem, focusing on what the those at the top would rather you talk about: weather, working hard, sports (and stadiums is another topic of sadness) and your family. Forget about what THE ELITE (as the media now calls themselves - Joan Walsh, Chris Matthews, Michelle Bernard, amongst others, yeah, I heard you) tries to fry you up with in their wok of butter cooking a bad smelling fish, the world has plenty of fish to fry and our leaders need more heat put on them to get to the bottom of the top of the malaise which we consistently find ourselves in.

But I have no confidence, no pursuading me that these people care one iota about me.

I am rabble - Mayonnaise sandwich eating, sister-fucking (if I had one), lottery playing, American Idol watching tree slog that can't put two and two together and get the square root of idiocy. I should shop at Walmart, be happy I have an Ipod, drive a gas guzzler and keep on a bible thumpin'.

That's the game. Be all you can't be. Let someone else do you thinking for ya.

This has been an emergency broadcast of the fringe element network.

If this had been a real emergency, I would say you wasted about 10 minutes reading and 30 years burying your head in the proverbial sand of the Sahara.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Favorite Shows: Burn Notice

Since I don't have the cool TV hookups that many would jones without, I am stuck sometimes with the channels and shows that network TV pumps up. But I like this one, if only because Miami appeals as a setting, and the concept is fairly, if not totally, unique.

Burn Notice tracks the life of spy-turned-do-gooder Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan, recently of Hitch) in his pursuit of why he's been blacklisted from CIA-like operations. His primary goal to secure the TOP SECRET information and discuss the reasons behind the fallout are in counterpoint with the fact he is caught up in his old stomping grounds with mother, brother and ex-girlfriend with psychotic tendencies and IRA training. His friend in spying, Sam (Bruce Campbell), is working both sides of the picture, to keep the peace.
This show is 1980's TV escapism at its best, usually. Tropical setting - like Magnum P.I. - shoot 'em up scenes - like the A-Team - odd character background revealed slowly, unevenly - like a Remington Steele. It isn't always the best writing, however, the cast makes the most of the adventures, and have the chops to pull this show off.
If USA network would put Burn Notice, Psych, Monk on together Monday or Tuesday, they would win ratings wars with ABC, CBS and Fox.
Burn Notice will be back on with new episodes in early July. Something to watch in summer. YIKES!
(I got interrupted in this blog posting - so the quality of writing, well, blew.)

Donovan is likeable in the sense his sarcasm

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Dozen Years: What I haven't learnt yet

It's been a dozen years since I left the campus of Purdue University. Strange how that time has went by - never completely understanding what I was supposed to have learnt from college - and yet, I can remember many, many things that I did undoubtedly learn.

But the quest is still fuzzy.

One, I was never meant to be an engineer. I stayed in the major more out of respect and the hopes of my mother than any really skill or desire to work in manufacturing/logistical plants from 8-6, five or six days per week. The work was never too exciting, and I didn't belong in that crowd. Some can do it - pandering to management or taking on the tasks of greatest expediency - but I was much, much too cynical, yet wanting, desiring idealism in my work.

The next thing I gather is that I wasn't apart of the university like I should have been. In theory, we should get to know our profs, spend time challenging ourselves to learn things we once thought unlearnable and have the ability to gain the leadership needed to provide the guidance to others around us that didn't get the golden opportunity of attending prestigious universities.

Well, I didn't.

Most times I goofed off to the end result of a 2.07 GPA. I skipped more classes than any sophmore could have possibly attended 100% of the time. There were reasons, nay excuses, but I didn't optimize my 5 1/2 year stay at the Purdue U.

Friendships. We talk of those heady days and the people we hoped to make life-long buddies with during those Saturday football games and the weekday all nighters on Thermodynamics. I had my friends - not a constant group by any stretch - but they weren't of the appropriate mindset in regards to whatever they deemed their responsibility to a long-term friendship towards me.

My then best friend did stay around for a few seasons after our graduation from the campus of concrete, the bouncing of basketballs and us, the gadflies of Greekdome. We were mismatched - he the 6'3" man of Minneapolis with a Republican streak, me the 5'6" man of Democracy and small towndome - but we cracked each other up.

Our lives then were intertwined by the threads of card-playing, comic affinities, music flavors and being on the campus searching for Mrs. Right. (Pictured left minus decent clothes - She popped up in my email box as an ad for a Mate 1 singles site. Really, can we have any more adverts for sex, sexual-enhancing meds and the pursuit of something that might replace sex?)

But getting back to that friend, I do miss the odd conversations about his bank account, his roommates (now roommate/wife), working in sales or other woe-is-me-this-week situation. Maybe he respected me for where I had come from, maybe he didn't. But it seems when the going got too tough (for him in knowing me) that ended that road. Looking back, though it was never a friendship of equals, it did matter to have someone to talk or run around with during the 1990's. I kept my sanity likely due to it.

Since graduation, I have been searching for the life I apparently was suppose to find in the classrooms, study lounges, student union (Purdue Memorial Union pictured right) and other places of reflecting on task at hand.

I started going to bookstores more often. Attempted several times to write things of some personal worth (a psychological fiction called The Warehouse and the Watchtower - about 200 pages in, I stopped), poems, journaling, etc. I almost immediately started looking for ways out of Industrial Engineering as a career. I took to law - not the criminal stuff, hopefully, environmental - but got only as far as the LSAT. (Not necessarily due to lacking of desire or ability...personal as usual.)

Little did I know that my only solace came in writing stuff. I began that trek about one year after my graduation on July 4, 1997. I had sparingly journaled before that, but since that time, I have jotted down more than fair share of garbage thoughts, quirky ideas, personal tragedies and the like.

I still haven't learn how to be me. Whether in writing, Memorex (Ella Fitzgerald below) or Alive and Kickin' (Simple Minds, simple pleasures below.)

I was a hick child of the 1980's, a naive college guy of the 1990's and a poor man of the new millennium. That's one way I see it. Through that unerring looking glass of wealth and privilege most suspect is the only way to go in this want-more-stuff-because-it's-cool-techno-junk world. If zeroes and heroes are born via the computer, then zero me in. I learnt just enough to actually be dangerous to myself - since my problems started with an e-mail.

The experiences of a dozen years hence haven't taught me enough to overcome the very things I wish were not in my life. Unlike Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, I'm still closer to food stamps than my field of dreams written with the not-bitter audacity of hopefulness.

There lies an outcome somewhere - but I haven't learned what that is.

The trek is still underway. The tools have changed, the map is gone and there is no sherpa to follow on my own personal Himalayan quest.

The quest for knowledge & life meaning, not found in college (yeah, The Police reared its head in this line) has been the problem.

Maybe, as many noted philosophers/screenwriters have said, "you need to get laid."

Oh, how funny that is...

Happy Mother's Day, moms.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Mistake by the Lake County: Just going to show you we got our corruption in 2008

Last night, the world got to see Lake County, Indiana in action. As Anderson Cooper, Wolf "Donner" Blitzer & MSNBC reinterated for 2 hours solid that Lake County vote was unreported, or later, slowed by 11,000 absentee ballots still in need of counting. After CNN talked to Clinton-obsessed, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., and Obama-enthralled Gary Mayor Rudy Clay, one could only hope the local constituencies would be thoroughly disgusted at our showing on national television.

I wasn't. I was tickled pink. (At least in sharing my apathy towards these blind mice running our county.)

As the esteemed political reporters on CNN weigh on the fact Lake County has a history of less-than-above-board politics, their guests ignored, or rather, pushed aside the allegations that any rigging could be the reason for the late reporting. A few stories of recent memory: The Sidewalk Six was scheme to garner votes for city improvements to private property dating back to 1999 in East Chicago. Ex-mayor Robert Pastrick, head of this 40-year political machine in East Chicago, is being label the head of organized crime syndicate that also was the city's government by Lowell native, current attorney general, Steven Carter. Not to be outdone, Robert Cantrell, a 40-year political operative that has many relatives working in high places (including his daughter as a judge) is facing 11 felony counts for the usual fraud and tax envasion.

Meanwhile, property taxes are going up, government cannot afford services, infrastructure is woefully inadequate, and people are praying the remaining steel industry does not falter. The politicians you heard from (on TV) are at the root of the problem in large degree. The property taxes are being shifted around from the once mighty steel businesses that paid a good deal more to the local folk up north - as a result, they sued. Only the entire tax assessment scheme is archaic and politically-motivated. So many hands are in the money pie that no one can be seen as free of sin. And this problem dates back nearly a decade - and shortfalls in taxes mean huge deficits and so far, the polys are just prolonging the agony we Lake County idiots might face.

Lake County is a 3-layer cake of woe. The bottom layer is the conservative, farmer-led south county. Small towns, small ideas. Change here is a Walmart (yet to go up.) Older folks with little use or need for anything north of them, unless it makes them more money or gets them from point A to point B. This earthy part of the county has its underlying racially-intolerant side. (Just won't let you know it, until you drink some beer with dem folks.)

The middle gooey center is the corrupt government heartbeat, the white suburbia of Ward & Beaver Cleaver mixed with Crystal Meth, the strip mall/movie complex that soccer moms drive toward with their Ipod kids who just don't respect mama. Moneyed folk. Republicans at heart, but vote Democrat in the general election. Would be a suburb of Chicago except for that damn State line. They love spending our money now. The political machine north of them has broken - so now they get their crack at being the devil guised in a white dress of hope.

The top layer is the chocolate icing of this cake: ethnic, bitter for good reason and stuck in oh so many ways. (Note: though noting the coloration, I don't feel the people are in any less capable or lacking in ability to do great things. Just, it fits the picture I am trying hard to paint.) For years, the people of the North were taken apart by the politically connected few, left to fight the murderers alone, and asked only to "go to work" in the steel plants of America: U.S. Steel and LTV. Their taxes were very low, but then again, they had little reason to stay otherwise. The amount of problems were only dwarfed by the amount of corruption the East Chicago/Hammond/Gary segment of Lake County could amass in the hands of a few souls. Once the power seemed to falter, businesses skated and the new leaders came in, their flight south was inevitable. (Not that some didn't leave before. Gary's population has decreased significantly since the 1970's.)

Living here off and on again for 25 years, has made me less than happy. I never fit in. I never have truly tried to. Oh, I mingle and converse with folks. But really get to know them, not really.

When I leave, I've felt a pressure release. The valve of dispair gets turned wide open, I ooze out all the crap I feel, and wherever I am going to, feels better in the short term. Coming back has always been a torture. I don't miss the county, and it, does not miss me.

So though you got a brief smattering on the place I haunted for dozen years out of twenty-five, you can't ever feel the woe I do in knowing I wake up in one of the worst places to reside in America.

Hopefully, I'll move before 2012. I hear that might be a unique time.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The last lie in a life: Ill-conceived, tragic, but not just snow (patrol)

After reading Cooper's Happenstance, it brought to mind a song I heard last night by Snow Patrol:
Chocolate Lyrics
This could be the very minute
I'm aware I'm alive
All these places feel like home

With a name I'd never chosen
I can make my first steps
As a child of 25

This is the straw, final straw in the
Roof of my mouth as I lie to you
Just because I'm sorry doesn't mean
I didn't enjoy it at the time

You're the only thing that I love
It scares me more every day
On my knees I think clearer

Goodness I saw it coming
Or at least I'll claim I did
But in truth I'm lost for words

What have I done it's too late for that
What have become truth is nothing yet
A simple mistake starts the hardest time
I promise I'll do anything you ask...this time

I think the video is appropriate to the situation she described...

But I have been wrong before.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Playing GM: On Hiatus

While I have been gone from the blog, I have been killing time playing OOTP 8 (Out of the Park 8) baseball. It is a fun, general management game that involves the running of a MLB or Minor league franchise. Scouting talent, setting contracts, trading, drafting, simulating games or playing them through strategically. It is fairly true to form - operating 4 teams of 25-35 players, acquiring and developing talent on a fixed budget (by ownership) while trying to win the World Series.

Anywho, I got caught up in that and my own fantasy team. (Well, not really, it's in 3rd out 12 teams. But I have plans!!!)
As a result, we the addicted are going to take a break from blogging for 1 week. I won't be just doing baseball, but I just haven't quite got the right tone going in my head to write some long diatribe on politics (Jeremiah was a bullfrog), gas prices (market vs. taxes), sports (Roger Clemens playing dodger with a old flame) or other crisis (attacks, deaths and mayhem around the world.)

So, I hope you don't think I'm a flake. I am....different. 7 years since my 1st day in the clink, I got pretty down, and so avoidance was easy to seek. (Plus, I've been so broke, a teenager has more cash than I do.)
I'll be back in time for my Grandfather's 82nd birthday and Grandmother's 80th.
So, be well John and Jessica Spartan!!!