When faced with a question as divisive as “is it harder to grow up male or female in America?” the tendency of most people is to protect their own. A man will more than likely state that it is more difficult growing up male while a woman will state the same in regards to growing up female. The simple explanation for this is that, whether you’re a male or a female, you can only truly see things through your own specific set of eyes. You don’t pay too much attention to what someone else is going through since you have so much going on in your own life. This is especially true in the formative years for both sexes.
So, with that being said, as a boy growing up I always felt like boys got the short end of the stick whenever it came down to anything at all concerning girls. Parents always seemed to side with the girls in any argument, and the teachers in school clearly favored the girls in class. While it may seem like this is an exaggerated account seen through my ‘specific set of eyes’ as I stated above, there have actually been studies done, and articles written on the subject of gender bias against boys in the American educational system. Writer Valerie Hegwood – a contributor to Yahoo.com – writes about the blatant differences in how her daughter is treated in school when compared to the treatment her son receives. Still, a boy is fully capable of gaining a quality education whether or not he will face certain biases within the educational system.
It wasn’t until I was blessed with my beautiful daughters that I was able to see the world through a set of different eyes. As a male, I will never be able to know exactly what my daughters are seeing, interpreting, or feeling. However, when I became a father – and my eyes were opened a bit wider in regards to gender differences – it became absolutely impossible to miss the fact that girls are inundated with unfair imagery and expectations at every turn. The fact that girls have to face near impossible expectations in terms of body image and sexuality from a very young age is why I believe it is much harder to grow up female in America.
Being pressured by these unhealthy expectations fuels not only low self-esteem, but all of the disorders that may come along with a negative self-image, such as eating disorders, depression, and even suicide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, between 5% and 10% of females in this country suffer from a variety of eating disorders. This equates to between roughly 5 million and 10 million girls and women that are currently suffering through these disorders. By the time young women reach college, nearly 10% of them will suffer from clinical or sub-clinical eating disorders. And, while it’s nearly impossible to calculate mortality rates for these disorders based on the fact that many who suffer from them also suffer from co-occurring medical conditions, general estimates point towards 10% to 15% of eating disorders proving to be fatal to those affected.
Popular media goes a long way towards contributing to the objectifying of women. Television has become particularly absurd with the onslaught of “reality” shows that hit the airwaves season after season. In 2004, FOX unveiled its latest “reality” effort, The Swan. Each week there were two women who were deemed “ugly” enough to be cast on the show. Throughout each one-hour episode, each “ugly duckling” was transformed – via make-up, wardrobe, and even surgery – into a more “beautiful version” of herself. One woman per episode was chosen to go on to the season-ending pageant whose winner would no longer be considered ugly, but instead a Swan.
As disgusting as I found The Swan, I was appalled by a promotional spot I saw this past September for a new “reality” show on the E! network. The show, which was called Bridalplasty, was set to feature brides-to-be who would compete in numerous wedding-related challenges. That sounds normal enough by today’s “reality” TV standards. However, the brides-to-be in this show would be competing all the while with the goal of winning the ultimate prize of plastic surgery to transform them into the “perfect bride” in time for their wedding day. The fact that this show, which would offer dangerous surgical procedures as its top prize, was actually going to air was proof enough – for me – that society had sunk to a low that we would probably never be able to get out of. Sadly, our daughters will bear much of the brunt of this type of exploitative programming.
Unfortunately, I do not believe that this problem will get dramatically better in the near future. The most logical way of thinking is to hope that women – with an influx of leadership opportunities available to them in every industry across the country – will take a stand against the unrealistic portrayal of their own sex. Sadly, women have been in prominent leadership positions in Hollywood for generations and the movie, television, and music industries have not changed the way they do business. In fact, things have continued to get worse year after year. Take a hard look at some of the examples I’ve given above for proof of that.
Everywhere you look these days there is a half-naked woman pitching some nondescript product to the masses. Many times the product that is being advertised is either buried in the background of the ad or not visible at all. The message is clear; beautiful women with perfect bodies want you to buy something, so buy it. Believe me, as a man – before I became a father to little girls – seeing half-naked women plastered on every magazine cover, television commercial, or billboard didn’t bother me in the least. Now, though, every time I see something so blatantly exploitative I immediately think of my daughters and the unfortunate possibility that they may grow up feeling like they have to compete with that half-naked woman if they want to succeed in life.
One thing that I believe can be effective in combating this perception is actually talking to our youth. Just as there are classes and speeches given regularly at schools across the country about the dangers of domestic abuse, eating disorders, drug addiction, and suicide, there should also be accompanying classes and speeches given to underline the fact that society – and the things that we view as “entertainment” in it – can help to encourage these disorders and tragedies. Hopefully, by opening the eyes of young people, things will change for the better. For the sake of my daughters, I truly hope so.
Also posted on ‘The Altered States of Munley’
The late, great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson would undoubtedly have a lot – an awful lot – to say about the current goings on in the world.
Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Wisconsin, ‘Curveball’, George W. Bush’s book… All of this would be fodder for a can’t-miss HST book… Or – at the very least – an interesting series of articles.
Lately, I’ve been re-reading Thompson’s “Kingdom of Fear” and I came across a passage in which he speaks of protest, and his understanding of the action and of the word itself. Long before the uprising in the Middle East, long before the mess in Wisconsin, there was the National Democratic Convention of 1968 in Chicago.
Thompson described the Convention of ’68 as ‘the end of the sixties’. Heartbreaking violence was the theme of 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated, and the hopes and dreams of a great many people died with those great men. In the midst of the turmoil, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley planned to showcase Chicago’s achievements to both national Democrats and the entire country. Instead, chaos ensued.
The Chicago Police Department clashed with protestors of the Convention, and in the middle of everything, Thompson was there to witness it all first hand. What he saw was enough to render him a paranoid wreck for months after returning home to Colorado from Chicago. Protestors and journalists alike were roughed up and beaten by overzealous police officers. Mike Wallace and Dan Rather were actually beaten while inside the halls of the Democratic Convention. Nobody, it seemed, was safe.
At one point, as he tried to flee from the suddenly violent Chicago streets, Thompson was accosted by two police officers as he tried to enter his hotel. They tried to shove him back into the chaos. He flashed them his press badge, but it didn’t matter. All around him, Thompson could both hear and see his peers being beaten for nothing other than the fact that they happened to be there. Terrified, he shoved his way past the officers and into the hotel lobby. He made a bee-line for his room where he sat cross-legged on his bed for hours, weeping.
He had this to say about the fact that the officers were attempting to keep him in the streets, plotting to ensure his own beating at the hands of their riot gear-clad brothers…
“That was the point. My very innocence made me guilty – or at least a potential troublemaker in the eyes of the rotten sold-out scumbags who were running that Convention: Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, Lyndon Baines Johnson, then President of the United States. These pigs didn’t care what was Right. All they knew was what they wanted, and they were powerful enough to break anybody who even thought about getting in their way.”
At any rate, the real reason I began this post was to pass on Thompson’s observation of what it means to protest. So here it is:
From Kingdom of Fear…
In seems to me that the underlying assumption of any public protest – any public disagreement with the government, “the system”, or “the establishment”, by any name – is that the men in charge of whatever you’re protesting against are actually listening, whether they later admit it or not, and that if you run your protest Right, it will likely make a difference.
Norman Mailer made this point a long time ago when he said that the election of JFK gave him a sense, for the first time in his life, that he could actually communicate with the White House. Even with people like Johnson and Mac Bundy – or even Pat Brown or Bull Connor – the unspoken rationale behind all those heavy public protests was that our noise was getting through and that somebody in power was listening and hearing at least weighing our protest against their own political realities. . . even if these people refused to talk to us. So in the end the very act of public protest, even violent protest, was essentially optimistic and actually a demonstration of faith (mainly subconscious, I think) in the father figures who had the power to change things – once they could be made to see the light of reason, or even political reality.
That’s what the bastards never understood – that the “Movement” was essentially an expression of deep faith in the American Dream: that the people they were “fighting” were not the cruel and cynical beasts they seemed to be, and that in fact they were just a bunch of men like everybody’s crusty middle-class fathers who only needed to be shaken a bit, jolted out of their bad habits and away from their lazy, short-term, profit-oriented life stances . . . and that once they understood, they would surely do the right thing.”
– Hunter S. Thompson, “Kingdom of Fear”, Simon & Schuster 2003For those of you who only know Hunter S. Thompson through the lens of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and have written him off as a lunatic drug addict… Read “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72″ and witness the Doctor in all of his political, satirical, and literary glory.
Also posted at The Altered States of Munley
“All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” – Lord Acton
In the United States of America, when the children of this generation grow up they will probably look back and wonder why nobody looked out for them. They will see that we stood by and allowed Washington D.C. to be sold to the highest bidder. They will see that corporations were not always shot-callers in major elections, but that we allowed them to bully their way into such a powerful position. They will realize that special interest groups and powerful lobbies had been around for a very long time, but that our generation gave them the go-ahead to dig in and control many of the laws that will come to affect future generations like their own.
The only reason that I used the phrase, “they will probably look back” to begin with is because we have an option. There is an idea out there that many members of Congress and the Senate will avoid at all costs because it will drastically change the way business is done every single day in our capitol. That option, that idea is term limits, and I believe that imposing them on Congress is the only way to fix a democratic system that has become so flawed that it would not be recognizable to the Founding Fathers of this country if they were alive to see it in action today.
The citizens of this country, the very people whom those politicians in Washington have been elected to represent, seem to understand that there is something wrong with the way things are being run. Before the 2008 election season Helium.com asked the question, “Should senators and congressmen have a term limit?” and the response from their political-minded readers was overwhelmingly one-sided. A total of 1,547 people responded to the question, and 1,310 of them answered that yes, senators and congressmen should have a term limit imposed on them. That is a whopping 85% majority in favor of term limits.
Another poll, this one conducted on a much larger scale in 2010 by Fox News, reported similarly one-sided results. In the Fox News poll, 78% of eligible voters said that they would be in favor of establishing term limits for Congress. Remarkably, based upon the results of the poll, this seems to be an issue that both Democrats and Republicans can actually agree on. An incredibly high 84% of Republican voters polled were in favor of establishing term limits while an equally exaggerated 74% of Democratic voters were also in favor of the idea. Not to be outdone, even the Independent voters chimed in with a 74% majority in favor of imposing new limits.
I have always seen credence in the old saying, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”, and the results of those two polls certainly establish the fact that there is smoke in regards to this term limits issue. You don’t have to look far to discover the fire that is giving off that smoke.
For those voters who are concerned with the way things are going in Washington, they must certainly be dismayed by the fact that many of these politicians feel the need to occupy a seat in Washington for several decades or more. Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd, and Edward Kennedy are all examples of representatives who have occupied office for literally decades. The three men listed above are just a small sample, but the fact is that there are many young politicians with new ideas and fresh perspectives that are not being given a chance to change our country for the better because of Mr. Kennedy and others of his ilk. All the while, instead of bringing about change, these career politicians continue to make empty promises. I’m sorry, but if the promises you make cannot be upheld by the end of two terms in office, then maybe you’re not the right man or woman for the job.
It’s not just the lack of productivity being seen from our decades-long representatives in Congress that has brought about a sense of apathy in the nation’s voters, but also the disturbing practice of special interest groups lining the pockets of said representatives in exchange for favorable results when the time comes to vote on bills that may or may not benefit these powerful groups. By imposing term limits on these representatives the strong and cozy bonds they have formed with the special interest groups will be almost immediately severed. The special interest groups would be forced to deal with a fresh, energized member of Congress who would – because of the term limit – be less interested in re-election simply as a means of lining their pockets. Rather, these term-limited members of Congress would be more inclined to vote with principle instead of voting a certain way in exchange for favors and even financial gain.
There are certainly many arguments that can be made against any of the points I’ve made above. No matter how many disinterested career politicians like Strom Thurman there are in Washington, there will be detractors that point out that imposing term limits would actually be worse for the country because instead of having experienced men and women at the helm of the ship, the country would be in the hands of new, unproven politicians. These same detractors may even call term limits anti-democratic because by imposing these limits voters would not always have the right to vote for whoever they want to see in office. Well, by imposing term limits, at the very least it would force somebody to run in place of the incumbents who run unopposed every election cycle. In cases like these, term limits would actually be a boost to the democratic process. Right now – partly because of the above mentioned incumbents who run unopposed – the re-election rate for members of Congress is greater than 97%. Where is the democratic spirit in that?
As for the argument that term limits would be worse for the country because of a perceived loss of knowledge or experience, I present the office of President of the United States as my closing argument. Presidents in this country have been term limited since the ‘The Altered States of Munley’
This post started off at The Altered States Of Munley
The entire story of the Bulatov Family is long, twisted, and very confusing at times. The following article is my attempt to condense everything into a more streamlined account of the events that led them to the dire situation that they find themselves in right now.
You can read Mikhail Bulatov’s testimony in support of his asylum HERE.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
Here in the United States of America, we pride ourselves on being enlightened in the ways of liberty and justice. We presume that those who are accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty. We guarantee a speedy & fair trial in which the accused have the right to face their accusers in a court of law.
Why then, as a country, are we about to deport a man and his family to certain death based on nothing more than trumped-up charges which said man has already been convicted of – and sentenced for – even though he was not even present for his supposed trial?
Mikhail Bulatov’s story is far from straightforward. There are so many twists and turns that I cannot possibly cover everything of significance here. In short, Bulatov was a successful businessman in his native Kazakhstan, and it was this success which proved to be his downfall much more so than his salvation.
In 1988, Bulatov opened a construction firm in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan. He did well with this venture and – sometime in 1992 or 1993 – went on to purchase a shopping complex from an open government auction. There was no way he could have known it at the time, but it was the purchase of this property that would bring a world of trouble his way.
In fact, in Bulatov’s own words, the trouble started almost immediately. With the purchase of the property finalized, and with construction underway, the criminal element began to come out of the shadows. Representatives of various street gangs – which easily outnumbered legitimate businesses at that time – came to see Bulatov with offers of ‘friendship’ as well as ‘protection’ from possible trouble.
Bulatov rebuffed their offers with assurances that he was having no trouble at all. That is when the offers of friendship turned to threats, and the possible trouble he would need protection from became a reality.
His car was burned twice, the windows in his new stores were shattered, and he was beaten and stabbed in the chest. Like any scared citizen, Bulatov went to the police whose job – supposedly – is to protect the victims of such brazen crime. The police offered no help at all.
Scared, and with nowhere to turn, Bulatov agreed to pay protection money to the gangsters who were terrorizing him. With the money paid, the threats and the violence against him stopped. He was able to go about his business, but this period of peace in his life was short-lived.
Soon, the rival gangs began to war with one another for greater influence in the area. Once again, Bulatov was visited & threatened. Each gang wanted more and more money from him, and he was soon paying protection money to numerous factions just so he could run his business without criminal interference. It was his hope that the political climate in Kazakhstan would stabilize and the law enforcement agencies would do their duty & clean up the out-of-control criminal element. It never happened.
In 1995, Bulatov made the decision to send his family to the United States in order to protect them from the escalating violence that had unfortunately become the norm in his everyday life.
With his family now far away and safe, and undeterred by the violence all around him, Bulatov began renovation on a large market in 1996. And soon after that he was hard at work developing a second market on an empty plot of land. Things seemed to finally be going his way, and it was for that reason that Bulatov surely thought nothing of the visit he received from representatives of the regional administration in 1997.
These representatives inquired about Bulatov’s interest in acquiring a large shopping center which consisted of two large stores, a restaurant, and a café. He initially declined, telling the representatives that he was completely tapped out in regards to money. He had only recently paid of the loans he took out to finance his first endeavor in 1988, and much of the rest of his funds were tied up in the renovation and building of the latest two markets. Aside from the fact that the money wasn’t available, the properties that the representatives were trying to unload on him were buried in debt and any purchase would involve the repayment of those debts. Bulatov just could not see the upside to their offer.
The representatives assured him that they were in a position to do whatever was necessary to help sweeten the deal for someone who was considered a successful, independent business owner who did not send his profits overseas. Bulatov fit the bill. So, when the representatives offered to provide generous government-endorsed help in obtaining the credit needed to purchase these high-profit businesses… Bulatov jumped at the chance. He should have run.
Soon after Bulatov took on these additional properties – with the help of his government – he was approached by a man named Hussein Saleh. This man presented himself as an importer, and signed a contract with Bulatov to use some of his empty space as a warehouse for his cigarette distribution business. These two meetings – with both the representatives of the regional administration and Mr. Hussein Saleh – combined to destroy Bulatov’s life.
Hussein Saleh turned out to be nothing more than yet another criminal. The cigarettes that he was supposedly selling legally were actually stolen, and the people whom he was stealing from tracked down Bulatov & he was threatened once more.
These shadow people – eventually identified as members of the violent Brothers Yermolaev gang – demanded that he share his business with them in order to ‘repay’ them for doing business with Saleh, the man who ripped them off. Again, Bulatov refused to bend. He told them that they would have to take their concerns up with Hussein Saleh as he – Bulatov – had simply leased him the space in which the cigarettes were being stored, and that he had absolutely nothing to do with Saleh’s business itself. These men simply informed Bulatov that they were not suggesting this arrangement, but rather that they were demanding it. He had no choice.
The Yermolaev gang apparently did take up their concerns with Hussein Selah as he – and several others who were later revealed to be a part of his operation – were found murdered. Within days, Mikhail Bulatov was brought into custody under suspicion that he had collaborated with Hussein in his illegal enterprise. These are accusations that Bulatov to this day – and under threat of extreme violence & death – has maintained to be absolutely false.
Whether the charges were false or not had no impact with the officials in Kazakhstan. He was detained for over a month even though there was no evidence against him other than the “suspicion” of the police & other officials. Bulatov was soon enlightened as to who was really behind his ridiculous imprisonment when he received a visit from the Brothers Yermolaev gang. Blatantly, boldly the gang brought Bulatov to a private room. Once inside the room, the gang smugly reminded Bulatov of the reason why he was in his current situation… because he would not “share” his profitable, legitimate business with them.
The following weeks brought daily torture and terror for Bulatov. He was beaten by guards in private rooms. His nose was broken and his head beaten so severely that he still has trouble remembering specific things & suffers through extreme headaches to this day. He was subjected to a method of torture known in Kazakhstan as the “slona” which translates to the “elephant”.
The “slona” is a method of torture in which a rubber gas mask is fastened around the face of the victim. The gas masks that are used have a long rubber tube – like the trunk of an elephant – that stretch from the front of the mask to the rear of the head. During the “slona” method, the intake from the rubber hose – which is supposed to be a means for clean air to be breathed while using the mask properly – was blocked so that Bulatov could not breathe at all. When he would begin to struggle for air, the guards would unblock the intake and blow cigarette smoke into the hose until he would lose consciousness. After reviving him, the guards continued on with the torture. When Bulatov – screaming in fear – asked the guards why they were doing this to him, what they wanted from him, they responded that they wanted nothing at all. They were doing this to make a very important point; no matter how successful he’d become in business, they could do whatever they wanted to him. After these “slona” sessions Bulatov would always regain consciousness back in his cell unaware of exactly how long he’d been out.
During his time of imprisonment, Bulatov was visited one night by Colonel Nurgaliev. During this visit, Nurgaliev told Bulatov that his innocence in regards to the illegal activities for which he was being detained was known. Bulatov was told that only true Kazakhs could be “owners” of property in this society, and since Bulatov was a Russian-Jew that he would never be a true Kazakh. In short, he was basically informed that he was being detained under false charges because he was a Russian-Jew who had made something of himself.
Close to a month after his detainment began – on nothing more than suspicion – Bulatov was visited by a mysterious man. This man did not give his name, rank, or anything of the like. His power, however, was evident as the guards treated him with a great deal of respect & in fact almost reverence. During the visit, Bulatov was asked if he he’d had sufficient time to think things over & come to proper conclusions.
The following is Mikhail Bulatov’s personal account of that meeting:
“He asked me whether I had time to think and come to appropriate conclusions. I told him that even under the threat of death I’m not going to confess to a murder that I didn’t commit, will not turn over my business, (and I) will not work for them…
To that the man replied that I shouldn’t be afraid of death just yet, because they need me alive and that my confession is not required. He said that, should they decide, they can imprison me for as long as they want, even for life—regardless of whether I confess to any crimes or not—because they have more than enough methods to do so. He said that I don’t understand the seriousness of my situation. On examples, such as mine, they will show to everyone who tries to be independent, or who tries to oppose their power and rule and fight it. To all the slaves to what end their actions will lead them, that in this country everyone must submit to their rules and demands…
He said that right now this is a local case, but if I don’t reconsider and submit to their demands they will make this case of national and possibly international. He also assured me that I have his word that sooner or later they will get to my family, unless I change my mind and submit to all of their demands. As he said, “Your own death is not the worst thing that can happen—it is quick. We will see how you feel when we have your family. Killing you is easy, but you know well that a good master does not kill their slaves, it is not profitable. A good slave is worth a lot, and an obedient slave is an example to others. You will be an example, either you submit and be an example or we will punish you and make you an example, your choice.”
He told me that right now they don’t need my confession, that the investigation will soon be finished and I’ll be let out, however, all the questions will remain open, that this is not our last conversation and he warned me to keep quiet.”
Almost immediately after the above meeting was held, Bulatov was unceremoniously released from jail. Not once throughout his detainment did he go before a judge. His detainment was never justified or explained. In short, he was pulled off the street, held against his will, tortured, threatened, and humiliated all with the goal of destroying this independent business owner. To make an example of him. It worked.
While imprisoned, his business holdings were completely destroyed. The properties that were doing so well just a month previous were no longer his. They had been sold out from under him while he was detained in prison. His personal apartment had been broken into, burglarized, and trashed. Mikhail Bulatov was left with nothing.
On top of that, Bulatov was constantly reminded of the threats & promises made to him while he was imprisoned. Members of the Brothers Yermolaev gang would linger outside of his home and point out the fact that Colonel Nurgaliev had made a promise to always find him.
Now truly terrified for his life, Bulatov made the decision to flee. He filed papers with the intent to immigrate into Israel. He was approved, but instead of going to Israel, Bulatov went to Russia – where he was followed by his tormentors – and from there he fled to the United States where he was finally reunited with his family.
The reunion was sweet, but the bliss was shattered nonetheless.
On April 2nd, 2010 the Bulatov household here in the United States of America was raided at 4:30am by the FBI and other agents. His son Andre* recounted his terror when he made the following statement to GonzoTimes.com:
“A dozen+ FBI agents and US marshals busted through our apartment door with giant 12-guage shotguns in our faces, screaming “GET DOWN ON THE GROUND!” “Huh?” I said in a sleepy daze, “Who are you… ” “GET THE F**K DOWN ON THE GROUND! NOW, ON YOUR FACE!”
During that early morning raid there were two warrants served. The first warrant was issued from Kazakhstan. The second was issued through Interpol under the direction of Kazakhstan. Both warrants offered conflicting statements, and the details on each document clashed.
The Bulatov family is now facing deportation to a hostile country that - via the use of false accusations & forced confessions – has taken advantage of the goodwill of Interpol & the U.S. and has effectively put them in the position of doing their dirty work.
The Bulatov’s are in need of help. The legal advice they have received thus far has been amateurish at best. The U.S. judge who presided over the first hearing for asylum ignored a mountain of evidence that would have freed Mikhail & discredited everything the Kazakhstan government has accused him of – with no proof.
The Bulatov’s – through Mikhail’s son, Andre – are reaching out for the help of the American people. They are asking that we spread the word. It is their hope that if enough people learn of their story & make some waves about it that the mountain of evidence will at least be considered during their next – and final – hearing.
I’ll leave you with this, a line spoken to Mikhail Bulatov during his meeting with the mysterious man while he was still falsely imprisoned… This man promised to make Mikhail’s case an international one & also to find and do harm to his family.
“Your own death is not the worst thing that can happen—it is quick. We will see how you feel when we have your family. Killing you is easy, but you know well that a good master does not kill their slaves, it is not profitable. A good slave is worth a lot, and an obedient slave is an example to others. You will be an example, either you submit and be an example or we will punish you and make you an example, your choice.”
We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot allow a family to be deported to their certain death.
* Mikhail’s son, Andre, is in possession of thousands of documents that prove that his father is not guilty of the charges being brought against him by the government of Kazakhstan, charges that have only been brought against him in order to have him handed back over to them. These documents – many of which have been validated by recent Wikileaks documents – have been ignored by U.S. judges overseeing the deportation case & the family’s asylum hearings.
What kind of depraved reality do we live in where twisted assassins and befuddled politicians garner 24/7 media coverage while we celebrate such a genuinely good & honest human being for just one day out of the year?
Martin Luther King Jr., to me, represents all that is right with humanity. I refuse to use words like ‘was’ when referring to Dr. King since I believe that his message is still being heard, loud and clear, even decades after his violent death. His message is one of hope, peace, compassion, unity, and humility. That much can be learned, for sure, through basic school textbooks. However, his is also a message of perseverance, determination, and ruthlessness.
What?! Martin Luther King… Ruthless?
You’re damn right. Imagine a society so bent on denying you your basic human and civil rights. Imagine a system so intent on denying you and your people their voice within that system. Imagine crowds so angry and hateful that you are scared to step out in front of them.
Now, imagine that you are a rallying voice, a small flame growing ever larger; imagine that you carry the hopes and dreams of a people squarely on your tired shoulders. Imagine that in order to carry those hopes and dreams - that have been placed in your charge - to a place they’ve never been allowed to be, you must defy the society that denies you, confront the system that ignores you, and speak to those crowds that frighten you.
That is the reality that Martin Luther King Jr. lived through every single day. You cannot tell me that he did not have at least one ruthless bone in his body that he relied upon to continue his fight, his journey, his duty.
It is that ruthlessness that we should all carry with us as we move forward in a world that seems to be growing much darker as of late. While Dr. King is a symbol & testament to what we all should be… The manner of his death is a stark reminder of the hate that will always be present in an attempt to squash any hope of peace and harmony.
We cannot let that happen. We cannot allow a very special Dream to die.
He doesn’t trust the government. He has read books such as Karl Marx’s ‘Communist Manifesto’, Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’, Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea’, and George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’. He posts his beliefs on the internet. He owns a .9mm handgun.
While every single one of those points is true of the crazed individual over there to the left… They are also spot-on in reference to myself. In fact, the details that are beginning to trickle out about Jared Lee Loughner are so mundane and normal that they make his act that much more terrifying.
Many of the books that Loughner has read, the movies he’s watched, and the outlets for his self-expression are not that different from a majority of the people in this country. So, what the hell was it about him that made him snap? What caused his disconnect? What is his major malfunction?!
There is a lot of finger-pointing going on right now within the political circles of this country, and while I am continually nauseated by the rhetoric & partisanship displayed every single day in our beloved U.S.A… I’m not so sure that I buy, 100%, that this guy was pushed towards the endgame that took place in Tucson, Arizona by some B.S. that is peddled nightly by some of the kookiest politicians and pundits around.
I get it… I do. The Tea Party is easy to point at and say, “Ah-hah! You did it now, assholes!” The incident outside of a Rand Paul rally in which a girl had her head stomped on was definitely a direct result of the ‘rhetoric’ that Rand Paul & his gang were spouting… Yes, a direct result of the amped-up, Rah-Rah shit that drives me so crazy.
Loughner has quite a few screws loose. That’s all there is to it. If we’re going to say that the toxic rhetoric that these politicians spew is solely to blame for the Tucson shooting, then we are basically letting Loughner off the hook & giving our flawed mental health system a pass. Read up on this Loughner guy, watch everything you can in regards to him, and you’ll come away with the understanding that innocent people are dead, and a congresswoman will probably never be the same again because he fell through the cracks of the system & was able to slink back up through those cracks to do some major damage.
Loughner, with all of the red flags in his background, should have never been allowed near a handgun. The problem is that while everybody recognized that he had problems… Nobody did anything about them. So, instead of being denied the handgun, his background check came back clean & voila… He had himself a killin’ machine!
When I first heard of the shooting I was devastated and pissed off. I immediately blamed the far right for their convoluted speeches & This Is War mentality…
In the last few days I’ve backed off. The truth is that investigators haven’t been able to find anything that would tie Loughner to any kind of political belief. Instead, many of his writings & YouTube postings focus strictly on a very disturbed personal philosophy.
He is a political oddity for sure, but it’s hard for me to buy into the idea that he was a Right-Wing Nut Job on a mission when he proudly states that Marx’s ‘The Communist Manifesto’ is one of his favorite books; it is a book that flies in the face of right-wing, conservative beliefs.
I simply believe that Jared Lee Loughner is crazy. Something like this was bound to come out of him sooner or later, and Congresswoman Giffords was in the worst possible place at the worst possible time.
With all of that being said, I think that the tragedy in Tucson went that much further in showing us just how royally screwed up our government – and our country – actually is.
Consider this. A member of Congress was shot in the head. Six people were murdered including a federal judge, and an innocent nine-year-old girl. Nineteen people were shot….
And the first thing that the politicians in this country did was trump up the hysteria even further. They began to point fingers, to blame, to rant, to rave, to do anything & everything but LEAD. Jesus, they were practically jumping through hoops to be credited with the next soundbite.
Time and time again, it seems, I type something along the lines of the phrase, “Everybody just needs to chill out”, and it has never been more true than it is right now. How much more could this country be, how much more could our representatives accomplish, if the far right & far left could just stop playing the ‘I’ll Do You One Better’ game? If only there was someone in Washington DC with balls enough to let them know that they’re all a bunch of assholes.
Nobody has the exact same beliefs, political or otherwise, as the next guy. That has always been true & it will continue to be true, and it is for this reason that the multiple party system will never go away. BUT, at some point - probably sooner than we think – we will have to go ALL IN together to make things right or we’ll all be done for… Toxic Rhetoric or not.
Click to read the OFFICIAL CHARGES against Loughner.
The following is an interesting piece from the American Free Press that serves as a caveat in regards to all of the hype surrounding Wikileaks. Exactly who is Julian Assange? Is he the criminal that the government has made him out to be, or is he a noble voice of truth being persecuted for telling the secrets of the powerful?
And if Assange truly is a noble voice of truth, now that he is contained & being monitored, is it possible that certain people are using convenient “leaks” to help their own cause & standing? Food for thought.
SHOULD WE TRUST WIKILEAKS 100%?
By Savanna Hintze
American Free Press
There was a time when every American knew about the John Peter Zenger case, because it was “the gem of American freedom.” Before Zenger’s infamous trial, it was against the law to criticize the government. But after Zenger won his case, you could say anything you want, provided it’s true.
In the early 18th century, New York’s governor had Zenger arrested for articles Zenger had published about him. Zenger’s lawyer, however, successfully convinced the jury to nullify the law that would have convicted Zenger of “seditious libel,” securing freedom of the press as well as the fact that a statement cannot be libelous if it’s true.
Today, we have Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Is Assange another Zenger, who has been targeted for voicing the truth? Or could he be something else? The Internet is full of disinformation about both Assange and WikiLeaks. There are websites that claim WikiLeaks is affiliated with billionaire insider George Soros and China.
Assange supposedly repudiates anything that refutes the government’s theory on 9-11. On the other hand he released documents exposing international bankers.
The first and second sets of leaks looked good, but the last batch has some strange earmarks. It does nothing to expose the warmongers—with the exception of Hillary Clinton allegedly encouraging spying on the United Nations. Instead, the leaks target Arab leaders, while revealing nothing about Israel.
It is impossible to know for sure whether WikiLeaks is “100 percent,” so for now we should be ever alert that our enemies create Judas goats, like the “leader of the resistance” in Orwell’s chilling novel 1984, Emmanuel Goldstein.
Welcome to the Premiere Edition of the Gonzo Times Sports Wire…
Originally posted on The Altered States of Munley
As of last night, the streak is now at 89 wins and counting for the UConn women’s basketball team as they surpassed the record of 88 consecutive wins set by the UCLA men’s team that was coached by the legendary John Wooden. There are an awful lot of people out there who feel like the UConn streak is diminished because they are women. There are the typical regurgitations of the myth that the women don’t play at the same level as the men, or that the UConn women are simply playing cream-puff, mediocre teams. Yeah… Well, all I can say is this, don’t hold it against them because they’re so much better than any team that has the misfortune of having to step onto the court with them.
How much better are they than the rest of the country? The record-breaking win last night was never even in question as the Huskies won 93-62, and that was against a Top 25 team in Florida State. That is exactly the type of lopsided dominance that has become the calling card of a team that has stomped through their schedule for the past 2+ years with an average margin of victory of better than 33 points. That’s right… During this streak of 89 straight wins they’ve won by an average of more than 33 points per game. I don’t care who they’re playing, that’s impressive.
I’m not going to spout off stat after stat here in an attempt to validate this team. I’m not going to make comparisons to the 1971 -74 UCLA men’s team led by Bill Walton. It’s not fair to compare the two teams. Both teams deserve the right to stand on their own, and I think UConn coach Geno Auriemma put it best when he said, “I don’t want my team to compare themselves to anyone… I’m not John Wooden and this isn’t UCLA. This is Connecticut and that’s good enough.”
If you haven’t seen this team play, I strongly recommend that you do so before it’s too late. A team like this, men’s or women’s, simply does not come along very often. They are led by one of the purest college basketball players I have ever seen in Maya Moore. No moment is ever too big for her. In the historic victory last night she put up a career high 41 points & has been an emotional and vocal leader throughout her time on campus at UConn.
While the UCLA team was coached by the iconic Wooden, not a whole lot of attention is paid to UConn’s Coach Geno Auriemma. That is an absolute shame. Here’s the truth… If Auriemma were the coach of a men’s basketball team he would be mentioned in the same breath as Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith, and even John Wooden himself. Consider these numbers; under Coach Auriemma the Huskies have won 7 national titles, and have gone undefeated four times. Hell, forget about being mentioned in the same breath; with those numbers, if he were the coach of a men’s team, he would possibly be mentioned above each of the three aforementioned coaches.
Still, there are detractors & there always will be. But, to all of the people who refuse to recognize what the women of UConn have accomplished simply because they are not men, consider what Greg Wooden had to say about the feat. Greg is the grandson of the great Coach Wooden – who died in June of this year at the age of 99 – and he was on hand to watch the game because he felt somebody from his family should be there for the occasion.
“My grandfather would have been thrilled. He would have been absolutely thrilled to see his streak broken by a women’s basketball team,” the 47-year-old Wooden said. “He thought, especially in the last 10 years, that the best basketball was played at the collegiate level — and it wasn’t by the men.”
Take that quote however you will, but I find it hard to argue against. Men, women, whatever… I only wonder how long this current streak will go on?
And, to the women who have made up the University of Connecticut Huskies throughout this incredible run… Congratulations.
- The Altered Statesman
We should croak the Tea Party because it has done nothing but bring out the worst in people, and has done more in the way of dividing this country than of fixing it.
“I do miss George Bush. Compared to these
teabaggers and the people who are pandering
to them, he looks like a professor.”
The Tea Party movement is a testament to exactly what is wrong with politics, and our country, today. I’m not saying this because I believe that every single member of the movement is a racist, and I’m not saying it because I believe that protesting the “business-as-usual” approach to government is a bad thing. Not at all. I actually think that protesting the status-quo is probably the most healthy action that citizens of a democracy can take. After all, if the citizens of a democracy lose their right, or will, to protest…well, then the notion that we are living in a democracy at all is a fallacy.
The problem with the Tea Party is this: It’s not anything new. It’s not some new way of thinking. And, it’s not at all a separate entity. If the Tea Party movement were actually giving the public at large something new to think about that would be one thing. But, the fact is that the Tea Party movement is just an off-shoot of the Republican party & is spouting nothing but conservative rhetoric. So, to the supporters of the “movement” reading this, where the hell is the protest in this movement?
The Tea Party (Republican Party 2.0) is mobilized against a president whose term has seen the least amount of policy change, in terms of party turnover, in the history of the Democratic Party. So, taking that into account, who is your beef with exactly?
So, the Republicans are under siege from a movement that is nothing more than an extension of their own party, the Democrats are masquerading as Republicans, and the Tea Party is forging ahead as though they’re just minutes away from changing the world… You see the problem? This country is in arguably the worst shape it has ever been in. The Republican & Democratic Parties should be focused on getting this country back on track, but instead they are both too focused on the doings of a travelling road show to get anything of significance done.
People have e-mailed me to “inform” me that the movement is providing an alternative to “everyday politics in this country”. That sounds great, but I’m not buying it. Here are my final thoughts on the movement:
The Tea Party was born of the fear that the principles & values of the country at its core were in jeopardy?
I agree with this notion, but the loss of principles & values, especially by those who’ve run this country, happened a long time ago.
Those who were involved with the movement, in its earliest form, were genuinely concerned with the way the government was being run?
I can believe this as well. Aren’t we all more than a little concerned with how the government is/has been run? I’m sure every citizen, especially post-Vietnam/Nixon, would respond with a resounding ‘Yes’ to that question.
The Tea Party is racist?
I truly do my best to not judge an entire group upon the actions of a few within it… But, in all honesty, the Tea Party has been hijacked by individuals & groups who see the demonstrations as a way to spout racially charged epithets at a black president. Plain and simple. So, while not every single person who is involved with the movement is a racist, the platform that the Tea Party encourages has been compromised by hateful, racist people.
The Tea Party is a legitimate third party?
No. Hell no. Pay attention to their stances, their ideals, and the people running as Tea Party candidates, and you’ll see why I’ve dubbed them, “Republican Party 2.0″.
Of all the issues that inevitably come up whenever the Tea Party is brought up, race is the biggest one by far. Without a doubt, I’ll be receiving e-mails from those of you who believe that the movement is a full-blown racist mobilization, and from those of you who believe that the racism slam is an attempt to derail the movement by means of “race-baiting”. I’ve already given my view on the role that racism plays within the movement… Watch these two videos & draw your own conclusions:
- The Altered Statesman
Originally posted at The Altered States of Munley
Now, that’s more like it. I went 3-1 against the spread last week which puts me at 12-8 for the season as far as recommendations go. Not too bad, but the numbers should be better.
The Steelers made me look good as I ignored my usual ‘no-betting-on-favorite-teams’ rule to pick them as 14 point favorites against the Browns. Props are in order, though, to Colt McCoy. His performance was much better than I’d predicted. He actually hung in there and gained confidence against a defense that was doing its best to confuse & intimidate him. Big Ben showed up ready to play. The Browns defense was a big test for him as they employ quite a few packages designed to confuse the quarterback themselves. He passed the test, and reminded Steelers fans just what he means to the offense when he’s on the field. No word yet on whether he exposed himself to any cheerleaders, female fans, or female reporters. Maybe he learned his lesson.
The Vikings made good on their status as favorites by taking care of the Cowboys. However, the win was not easy as Favre, Moss, Peterson, and the rest of the squad had to battle for every single yard. Favre’s elbow will not hold up throughout the rest of the season.
On Monday Night Football, the Titans disposed of the Jags easily. And, that begs the question: Why the hell was Chris Johnson still running the ball and taking hits in the 4th quarter of a lopsided game? I’m sure fantasy owners are loving Jeff Fisher right now, but he would’ve had to answer some pretty harsh questions if CJ had taken a vicious hit & suffered a season-ending injury. Still, the Titans came through for me, which is more than I can say for this next team…
The Chargers continue to be a mystery as they not only failed to cover the spread, but they flat-out lost to the Rams. The Rams. You know, the team that gave up 40+ points to the Lions in Week 5? Yeah, them. The Chargers lost to them. I really don’t know what else to say about that game.
This weeks picks:
- I’m taking the Ravens this week against the Bills. In fairness to the Bills, I’d be taking the Ravens against anybody after the loss they suffered last week at the hands of the hated Patriots. Add to the mix the fact that Tom Brady was talking shit & basically calling their dominance into question, and… well… the Bills are going to have to do a hell of a lot more than circle the wagons.
- The Carolina Panthers are a train wreck right now. Their coach is on the hot seat, and they’ve put what’s left of their season in the hands of rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen. I know I’ve said in past posts that I’ve given up on San Fran, but I have to take them this week against this Carolina team.
- The Minnesota v. Green Bay matchup should be a good one. Brett “Sext Message” Favre & Co. will be amped up, as will Aaron Rodgers. I’m not taking on the spread in this one. Instead, I’m going to sit back and root for a shootout. Here’s hoping that Favre’s elbow will hold up for at least one more week, because I’m taking the…
- I’m forgoing the spread with this next pick as well. The Bengals v. Falcons game feature two offenses that have yet to really live up to their respective billings. The Falcons seem to have finally gotten their heads straight while the Bengals continue to be possibly the most underperforming/overrated team of the past decade. Question: How in the hell do you field an offense like that & continue to look as bad as they do? Answer: Their two biggest weapons are more concerned with being reality TV stars than reliable football players. (Note to T.O. & Ocho… The T.Ocho Show on Vs. is the most awful piece of shit this side of Jersey Shore) Still, I think this game has the potential to be a shootout…
Okay, with the picks out of the way… That brings us to the ESPN Pick ‘ems war that continues to rage between myself & Rob Kotaska over at My Three Percent is Swimming. The two weeks leading into last week weren’t just bad, as far as picking winners goes, they were absolutely embarrassing. This past week was better, and more so for Rob than myself. He picked 10 games correctly to my 9.
For the season… I still have the lead, small as it is, at 50-49. Stay tuned.
- The Altered Statesman
Originally posted at The Altered States of Munley
As an advocate of the First Amendment, I present to you my nominee for Clueless Dumbass of the Year… Christine O’Donnell.
- The Altered Statesman
Originally posted at The Altered States of Munley
I have to admit that when I read this headline I thought it would just be another fake story created to test the speed at which the “news” makes the rounds on social networks, but this is an honest to goodness report that highlights, perhaps more than ever, just how comical the United States government has become.
The economic recovery package of 2009 was meant to help boost consumer spending, and stimulate the floundering U.S. economy. In all, about 52 million people who were receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income were sent checks for $250. The cost was about $13 billion. These were the folks who were supposed to then go out and spend, spend, spend.
However, more than 89,ooo of those stimulus checks were sent to people who couldn’t possibly spend them… Because 17,000 of those people were incarcerated, and the other 72,000 were… Dead.
Okay, so the checks that were sent to the folks in prison are somewhat understandable as most of the inmates who received them had only recently been incarcerated and had been receiving Social Security money before they were locked up… Thus, they were eligible to receive the dough from Uncle Sam.
Now, on to the dead people. As Mr. Ohlemacher wrote in the Post, “Dead people were ineligible to get the payments. But, the report said, there is no provision in the law to recover payments incorrectly sent to dead people.” Well, Jesus, as long as we can all agree that dead people should not receive stimulus checks. Now, in reference to the line… no provision in the law, blah, blah, blah… the government investigator who compiled the report on the errant checks estimates that the just a little more than half of the payments mistakenly sent to the deceased have been returned.
So… If a “little more than half” of the 72,000 stimulus checks have returned from the grave, that means that there is still close to $9 million out there somewhere…
Oh, say can you see…
originally posted at The Altered States of Munley
…. And, don’t put words in my mouth.
I’ve been receiving emails from readers who want to hear my thoughts on the Tea Party movement. One reader actually queried my interest in writing a post in support of the movement. He went on to say, “I assume you are with the movement. After all, you did advocate a strong third party”. Well, yes I do advocate a strong third party (the reader referred to my posting of The Altered States Manifesto in May of 2009).
However, the Tea Party is not a strong third party. The Tea Party is a branch of the Republican Party. Plain and simple. And… I don’t like the things I’ve seen from the Tea Party movement. I’m sure there will be a few more emails fired off at me after this, but that’s never stopped me before…
The following is a picture that I nabbed from Leo Sigh. I know that one picture of one particular person does not encapsulate all involved in the movement… But, I also know that it certainly doesn’t help their cause either…. Especially when the man behind the sign is the founder of TeaParty.org, Dale Robertson. While Robertson later claimed the picture that surfaced was a digitally manipulated stab at his credibility… I find it hard to believe since the photo first appeared on an official Houston Tea Party website. Why would an official TP site be bent on damaging the credibility of one of their own?
Do you really mean to tell me that a man who has no qualms about carrying a sign that spouts such overtly racist trash is not surrounded by at least a few like-minded people? Please. I truly hope you, and America, are smarter than that.
Now, of course not every single supporter of the Tea Party movement is a racist. I’m not suggesting that. Most of the official literature & appearances they make seem to convey a message that I’m sure a lot of Americans can relate to right now. The government is completely fucked up. Government has gotten too big. Officials need to be held accountable. Somebody, anybody, should answer for the goddamn mess that we, as a country, are in. Yes, somebody.
I’m not naive enough to believe all of the bullshit that the Democrats are peddling around either that GW Bush & his cronies are 100% to blame for the economic state of our country. As with every rough patch, the signs were being ignored for longer than a decade that a terrible storm was coming. I know that the country basked in an unprecedented glow of economic stability during the Clinton years… But… Honestly, that brain dead asshole The Situation (of ‘Jersey Shore’ shame) could have been president during the Technology boom of the early 90s and the economy still would have been great. So, let’s not go there.
BUT… the eight years that Dubya was in office certainly took a toll. Without a doubt. And, I wonder who it was that supported Bush throughout his presidency? Surely it couldn’t have been the Republican castoffs that now make up the Tea Party nominees? Right?
The Obama presidency, so far, has completely dispirited me. Obama the candidate was electric. He had the whole world in the palm of his hand. I can’t remember the last time I actually looked forward to hearing someone deliver a speech, but that’s what Obama did… He was a drawing card. A damn great orator. Obama the president has lost most, if not all, of his oomph. He’s done little to change my view of the presidency as the ultimate figurehead gig in the world. The man (and someday woman) who is president means absolutely nothing because they will do whatever the hell they are told to do. Special interest groups & high society run this goddamn country. Don’t forget it.
So, is the Tea Party movement really supposed to change anything? Just who are these (ahem) teabaggers?
How about Mark Williams? If you don’t know who he is… He is the Conservative Party USA, radio host, and author of It’s Not Right Versus Left, It’s Right Versus Wrong; Exposing the Socialist Agenda and Taking Back America One Tea Party at a Time, (2010).
While in the midst of protest in regards to the proposed mosque that is to be built near Ground Zero in NYC, Williams (the chairman of Tea Party Express) also made the following statement on his blog: “The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of the terrorists’ monkey-god“. That’s racist strike number two.
And then there was the Springboro, OH incident in which Springboro Tea Party founder Sonny Thomas tweeted the following: “Illegals everywhere today! So many spics makes me feel like a speck. Grrr. Where’s my gun!?” After the slur made the rounds on Twitter & other social networking outlets, other Tea Party officials declared the comments “classless” & said that his comments did not represent the Tea Party as a whole. I’m sure they don’t, but in my book… That’s still racist strike number three, and you know what that means sports fans… Yer outta here!
So, Marcus W. in Arizona… Just because this ‘movement’ is qualifying in the minds of many right now as a Party… Don’t assume that I am “with the movement” or that I’d like to write something “helpful” for the cause. You know what happens when you assume something…
As the last combat unit still remaining in Iraq quietly crossed out of Iraq and into Kuwait in August of this year, the official combat mission in Iraq came to an end roughly seven years after the offensive began with complete ‘Shock & Awe’.
It was the 4th Stryker Brigade, Second Infantry Division that had the honor of being the last combat unit to leave Iraq. Right before his unit made the long trip, under cover of darkness, to the Iraq/Kuwait border, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Lawrence said, “This is going to put the finishing touches on seven years here. What has been achieved is going to echo throughout the region, prosperity, peace, truth, and freedom: the works”.
Two weeks after the 4th Stryker Brigade left Iraq in their rearview, President Obama addressed the nation at which time he made mention of the Brigade when he said that they “journeyed home in the predawn darkness. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of vehicles made the trip from Baghdad, the last of them passing into Kuwait in the early morning hours. Over seven years before, American troops and coalition partners had fought their way across similar highways, but this time no shots were fired. It was just a convoy of brave Americans, making their way home”.
However, amidst all of the media buzz regarding the end of the “official” combat mission, not many people have mentioned, or even noticed, that there are still quite a few Americans who have not made their way home. Yes… And the absence of these specific Americans may point to an “unofficial” combat mission that may not have been called off just yet.
You may recall an incident that made international headlines in 2007 in which a firefight in Baghdad broke out that eventually left 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians dead & 20 others wounded. The shootout involved Blackwater Worldwide, a North Carolina-based U.S. security contractor that has profited to the tune of nearly $1 billion since the war began. That is an awful lot of money that our government is paying, in all honesty, to mercenaries.
After the 2007 incident, the Iraqi government made the announcement that they were cancelling Blackwater’s operating license. However, as recently as August of 2009, Blackwater, by then renamed Xe (pronounced Zee) Services, still had armed personnel in-country performing the duty of “providing security for diplomats and diplomatic facilities only”. At any rate, the fact that the remaining Blackwater/Xe personnel were only supposed to be providing security was of little comfort to Iraqi citizens as it was this exact same role that they were supposedly playing when the 2007 incident occured. What was to stop it from happening again?
Today, Xe Services has expanded through the use of numerous shell corporations and they continue to secure very lucrative government contracts. And, while the official combat mission in Iraq may be over, one has to wonder just how many of these shell corporations still have armed mercenaries embedded there under very different orders?
This clip, “Blackwater, America’s Private Army” , digs deeper into the background of this controversial “security firm”. It is well worth the six minutes of your time that it will take to watch it.
The following has been said in various forms of print; Politics is the art of the possible, the art of the sell, the art of compromise, the art of persuasion, the art of looking for trouble, etc.
My favorite quote comes from the late Hunter S. Thompson who said, shortly before he died, “Politics is the art of controlling your environment”. However, that quote would have been even more spot-on if he’d used the word ‘manipulating’ in place of ‘controlling’.
With September 11th coming up you will have the perfect opportunity to witness public manipulation as news stations will undoubtedly be breaking out their stock footage of the towers smoking and crumbling into non-existence. There will be interviews shown with World Trade Center survivors, family members of those who perished, and service-people who responded to the hellish scene that fateful morning. Why not? It makes for great TV which, in turn, makes for higher ratings. The news media will manipulate their viewers by means of nostalgia and sentimentality. They will forgo reporting issues of today in favor of tearing open old wounds, and grinding salt in them for good measure. Round and round we go.
One of the enduring images of the Iraq War was the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. Remember the footage? An impromptu gathering of Iraqis at the foot of the statue suddenly turned heated as the Iraqis began to wail on the base of the statue. Chunks of the statue went flying, and the crowd went into a frenzy. It seemed that the Iraqi people were relishing in their sudden freedom from the dictator immortalized by the statue. It seemed that the whole thing was spontaneous act of a crowd that was not going to take it anymore. Yes, it seemed that way, and there is good reason for that.
There is a documentary out titled, “PsyWar: The Real Battlefield is the Mind”, in which the existence of Psychological Warriors is examined. Psy-Warriors are basically CIA-trained operatives who have entrenched themselves in high profile news media outlets, such as CNN and Fox News, to help deliver the “news”. They are Public Relations people for government agenda. It is their job to make sure that the public is fed images and data that would seem to validate otherwise objectionable actions taken by the government.
One of the more visible ‘Public Relations’ contributions by these Psy-Warriors to date, as told by numerous insiders and experts in the film, was the toppling of the Hussein statue. Very basically, the jubilant crowd of Iraqis at the foot of the statue were not actually Iraqis. They were actually a team of actors, for lack of a better term, who were flown into Iraq specifically to film this poignant moment.
Quotes and thoughts from the film can more than fill up this entire space, but you would be much better served if you actually watched the film for yourself here…
One thing is for certain, you will never watch the news the same way again.