December 7, 2013
Anyone familiar with the views expressed in my columns knows I’m not a particularly religious person, but I’ve got to say I’m impressed by one very religious man named (at least currently), Francis. Francis is a Pope in a line of Popes with a checkered history. Some were as unsavory as many humans, others no so bad, but this one seems qualitatively different. He seems to take the gospel he preaches seriously. This is big. For a Pope to not only get what Jesus taught about poverty and money but to back that up in official pronouncements as head of the Roman Catholic Church… this is big.
Pope Francis, the former Argentinean bar bouncer (that’s what he says) formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio (George Bergoglio) said in a recent 50,000 word “apostolic exhortation” titled Evangelii Gaudium, or The Joy of the Gospel:
“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will in itself succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”
Yay! A Pope who disagrees with Ronald Reagan and all the woe his presidency introduced into the lives of poor and average people. Reagan, the decimator of the New Deal. Reagan, national debt builder extraordinaire. Reagan, the trasher of empathetic economic policy. Reagan, the loather of labor. Ronald, the great economic ex-communicator —the accolades go on…
Francis … George … whatever your name is, you are a breath of fresh air!
Some would disagree with the new Pope, but most who do have loads of money or work for people who have loads of money in the hope they they will have loads of money too —and keep it as a hedge against falling into the pit of poverty Francis so emphatically refers to and find themselves having to eat crow (literally). Most who disdain what I call the Pope’s Defense of Jesus Act are apologists for greed.
Take Rush Limbaugh who, despite his girth, is one of the smallest men I know of —a twerp of enormous proportions; an ethical cipher with a grand diameter. Limbaugh doesn’t like what Pope Francis has said —which, considering the history of Limbaugh’s mouth, ought to convince anyone with even a shred of moral understanding that Francis is really onto something.
Limbaugh said, “It’s sad because this pope makes it very clear he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism and so forth. But regardless, what this is, somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him. This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope.”
Which being said, might suggest that Marx (like most people except Limbaugh) may not have been all wrong. It might even suggest that Jesus, in his New Testament teaching about the poor and the rich, the hypocrites, the vipers, the morally degenerate living in whited sepulchers (references that can be found in the gospels) may even have some consonance with Marx.
In fact capitalism as practiced today is potentially (or inevitably) as bad or worse for those not at the top as communism ever was. With Limbaugh as one of “free-market” capitalism’s spokesmen and admirers, this is as certain as the effects of trickle-down economics with no trickle —what we have right now.
That “no trickle” part is the stickler for Pope Francis and is the reason for his pointed use of the term in his exhortation. You’d think that if there had actually been some trickle, enough at least for the poor to slosh around in, the Pope may not have so exhorted. But he did. Francis went straight for the sacred idea of conservative economic policy since Reagan, the one Republicans ooze over, the notion that “richer rich people” translates: “fewer-poor-people”. But this has not panned out if you believe the stats which show that the top 1% of the rich own 46% of the world’s wealth. This does not prove trickle. It doesn’t even prove drip. The wealthy are sequestering their ill-gotten gains like misers in caskets tufted with thousand dollar bills. This is what former bouncer Bergoglio (a man who remembers his roots more than many popes have) was talking about.
Pope Francis’ exhortation really was quite remarkable and, in case you’re inclined to misunderstand what he said he included this:
“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality,” the pope wrote. “Such an economy kills.”
“Such an economy kills.” This is such a simple, straightforward and true statement (supported by economic statistics) it makes homicidal accomplices of many of us.
The question it begs is, what do we do to repent?
by Jim Culleny
for The West County Independent
November 22, 2013
As Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show said, “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.” While a statement like that might spoil the celebration it puts things into perspective.
American Thanksgiving (the holiday) as opposed to thanksgiving (the act) has become a tradition of feast, football and family that began with the invasion of the North American continent by Europeans and ended in near genocide. Maybe this is why, of all sports, football is metaphorically most appropriate for Thanksgiving since the invasion of territory is its central goal. In short, there’s some brutality and ruthlessness mixed with Thanksgiving’s traditional tale.
Acknowledging the distinction between Thanksgiving (big T) and thanksgiving (small t) may eventually lead to something good as opposed to something gluttonous, profitable and profane. Thanksgiving has devolved for many into an anticipation of mob-inciting sales sometimes ending in a trampling death of a hapless big-box associate by a pack of shoppers chasing the cheapest HD-screen, while thanksgiving (small t) is an act of humility and gratefulness having nothing to do with commerce.
In humility, we might first be thankful for the improbable earth. We are of the earth. We are earth beings. Without the earth we would not be. We could not breath, we could not eat, we could not love, there would be no families, yet the way we treat it and its natural abundance we’re transforming it into a sewer. I would be especially thankful if we would wake to the fact that wealth is not money and profit, that it has to do with sustainability, with an understanding that to demean the earth is to demean ourselves, to damage it is to harm us and all we love.
A second thanksgiving-worthy object would be what Bob Dylan in a song called “the genius of generosity” —the whole line is “They’re sucking the blood out of the genius of generosity”. I’d be humbly and truly thankful if “they” (we) would stop doing that. But that would mean turning our politics into something to be thankful for rather than something to loathe. It would mean turning Wall Street and our Congress from blood-sucking franchises of the Hotel Transylvania into habitats of true humanity. Dylan’s genius of generosity is that it broadcasts wealth instead of hoarding it, it sees itself in the other.
And last, but never least (especially on Thanksgiving), would be a profound thankfulness focused upon what is central to Thanksgiving: the feast. For me this gratefulness would come when, as global citizens, we realize that agriculture as big business is like banking as big business. They’re both about making money. As Big-banking is first in the business of creating millionaires among bankers before serving their customers, Big-agribiz is first in the business of realizing profit before producing healthful food. We’re being poisoned by pesticides, genetically modified organisms, growth hormones in animals, and any chemical required to most profitably produce a product that sells. If by some standards it might not even be strictly classified as food (Twinkies, for instance), has no bearing on its production.
Americans have more to be thankful for than any nation on the planet. I’d be most thankful if we were thankful for the essentials, the genius of generosity that sustains the objects of our thankfulness and distributes rather than hoards them.
How thankful I’d be if Thanksgiving were really thanksgiving, with a deep awareness of our place in the world that sincere thanksgiving requires.
for The West County Independent
November 10, 2013
The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, called metaphysics the “first philosophy”. Metaphysics (literally: what comes after physics), is the branch of philosophy that addresses the constitution of reality and is something most of us are engaged in whether we know it or not.
You are a practical metaphysician if you’ve ever wondered and tried to answer questions about the reality of appearances, about distinctions between mental and physical categories, where the universe came from and why, or (the big one in 21st century American politics) the existence of God. Of course this doesn’t cover all possible metaphysical queries, but you get the gist.
In important ways we might say that the USA is not only in the midst of an economic and political crisis, but also a metaphysical one. Questions of fundamental reality affect political issues and policy in ways they have not for some time. For instance, questions about life and when it begins; whether the earth is gift from God or just property and ownable, and if so, who should own it; where the authority to govern comes from, Man or God; whether certain books are divine; what divinity is; what’s sacred, what profane; right down to how many capitalists can dance on the edge of a moral razor.
All of these are questions that “go beyond physics” and have stumped some of the most brilliant minds since before Aristotle, and are stumping ours to the point of national clog and decline. They are also questions that crafty and glib con artists use to mislead, manipulate and to mire minds that are not so crafty or glib —or minds that may be as potentially astute as Aristotle’s but simply so caught in the accidental circumstances of their lives —in immediate issues of survival— they have little time to deal with whether Ted Cruz is the slipperiest god-endorsed shark-in-a-suit to come swimming up the bay, or if Barack Obama is a secret Allah-worshipping Muslim. Metaphysics in America is the playground of the false and faithful as well as the free.
The nation and the globe face a set of circumstances unlike any we have faced before, the most far-reaching in terms of consequence being global warming. The vast majority of environmental scientists agree that this is so yet, here in the USA, science is often trumped by ancient metaphysics. American policy and action is determine more and more not on the basis of science, but on the basis of a world view originating over 3000 years ago. Sadly, and dangerously, science is often presented as if it were less reliable than Genesis in explaining our origins and what makes the world tick. Yet, the very people who show contempt for science when it comes to climate change would probably not place their injured child’s life in the hands of a priest or minister rather than that of scientists we call doctors.
What this “beyond-physics” (or beyond-science) world view has produced is a type of American politician who spouts personally invented metaphysical statements as if they were writing Bible verses.
Take Joe Barton, for instance. Barton (R-TX) said recently, “Wind is a finite resource and harnessing it would slow the winds down which would cause the temperature to go up.” Written 3000 years ago Barton’s statement might sound something like this (if written by a King-Jamesish, time travelling, 21st century meteorologist):
“Lo, the wind bloweth until it smacketh thee and, therefore; shall not bloweth over the one who follows haply in thy steps, nor anyone else down the line because the Lord diminisheth the wind after it hitteth thee. The Lord rendereth it impotent then, regardless of the continued demands of low pressure areas and His laws of physics.” —The Book of Barton 2:23
Winds may be finite and temperatures may increase when they’re not present, but Barton’s ignorance of their global effect is profound. When it comes to how winds happen, the conditions of their movement, how they are affected by temperature and the earth’s rotation upon them Barton’s limited understanding and statement may have made him at home in 3000 BC, but depressingly, he happens to be the current Chairman of the House-Senate Energy Conference Committee.
And then there’s Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who recently told New York magazine in an interview that he believes in the devil. “Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person,” the justice said. “In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.”
There are effects to this kind of thinking not unlike the effects of a typhoon: a Satan-believing wind is just fifty miles-per-hour or so away from becoming the wild gale of a witch-hunting one.
I don’t know about you, but having a Satan believer on the Supreme Court citing the devil during a line of questioning by Justice Samuel Alito about whether any conceivable prayer could simultaneously be acceptable to Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus, is not comforting to me.
“What about devil-worshippers?” Scalia said from the bench.
Indeed, and what about facts? What about reason? What about science?
by Jim Culleny
November 7, 2013
They just make things up as if they’re writing Bible verses.
“Lo, the wind bloweth ’til it smacketh you, but it shall not bowleth over the one who follows haply in your steps, nor anyone else down the line because the Lord sloweth the wind down after it hitteth you. The Lord rendereth it impotent then, regardless of the demands of low pressure areas and His laws of physics.” —The Book of Barton 2:23
November 2, 2013
October 12, 2013
After coming to the brink by way of acrimony and the self-pleasuring of a 21 hour fake filibuster but then, at the last minute not jumping off, the tea-party wing of the Republican party, led by a new senate self-promoter, Ted Cruz (R-TX), now anticipates a January debt-limit re-run. So how and why— and what are the rest of us anyway, chopped liver?
Brilliant as the men who founded the US may have been, no one’s perfect. Having had great distrust in government they went ahead and established one anyway simply because they knew that having hundreds of thousands of free-range individuals running around with muskets and mules, plotting lethal mischief in pursuit of their own best interest— well, (note to libertarians) it’d be a jungle out there.
Putting aside for the moment the fact that even with rules it’s a jungle out here, the founders crafted their system as thoughtfully as they could to counter the natural inclination of creatures to survive by any means possible no matter what harm it might cause to others. But even enlightened as they were the founders refused to deal with, or simply chose to justify, some of the cruel and ruthless practices of god’s most successful predator, Man —practices such as the enslavement of Africans or the attempted extermination of North America’s native people. Forgetting those moral failures (but just for the sake of tackling our present circumstances), they did their best to create a system of self-government that would not be top-down, but bottom up. But the overturning of that endeavor was finally accomplished and ratified a year or so ago by the US Supreme Court in its infamous Citizen’s United ruling that government influence could legally be purchased by the richest and most powerful bidders.
As present conditions prove, nobility of spirit is obviously not necessary in the practice of any government. A politically motivated US government shutdown is within reach of any faction which decides that its idea trumps the majority view. But, to their credit the founders gave it their best shot and actually did better than many before them. Being smart, crafty, and savvy to the fact that crooks and liars will relentlessly try to grab and hold as much political ground as they can, they created a system with as many checks and balances as they could devise: three co-equal branches —the executive, legislative and judicial— each keeping an ostensible eye out for the general good. Each keeping each other in line. Each watching for the feint, the fib, the over-reach —and further, staggered election cycles for the three branches, varying term lengths, etc.
But nobody’s perfect. Even Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had their visionary shortcomings. Even Alexander Hamilton and John Adams were unable to see far enough into the future to imagine the near complete collapse of individual integrity of officials in the face of staggering corporate bribes; could not imagine their willingness —no, their hope for the opportunity— to be corrupted. They couldn’t foresee the election of statesmen so acquisitive, so greedy, that they would threaten the common good of the nation to feather their own nests. And, finally, they did not imagine a legislature of men and women so willfully ignorant and devoid of common sense that they would allow their personal agendas and superstitions to drive the nation into the ground.
Long story short , the founders did not plan for this demise of statesmanship because they couldn’t imagine such unashamed greed and stupidity in high positions. But, to be fair to those men, this failure took more than two centuries to come to full fruition. It took over two hundred twenty-five years of creeping decadence for public corruption of government officials to become so blatantly obvious and accepted in official, elite circles.
But here were are with a clear view of a dangerous structural flaw built into our so thoughtfully devised governmental system, our so-called Democratic Republic —now we see the fly in the ointment; the bug in the program. Now we know that a small faction of one party in one half of one of our three branches may control the actions of one man (the Speaker of the House) and force him to jam a monkey wrench into the wheels of government to stop it cold for political advantage despite the obvious wishes of the majority. In a parliamentary democracy the Republican party would have lost a vote of confidence by now and be looking for new work extorting somebody else.
So there it is Tom and John and Alexander and James. Your brilliant system is at the mercy of, among others, a crass, narcissistic Texan named Ted Cruz, a spineless crocodile weeper named John Boehner, Speaker of the House, a conclave of Ayn Rand cultists led by men like Paul Ryan, a few callous backbiters such as Michelle Bachmann who blasphemously call themselves Christians and an uncompromising gaggle of anti-democrats who for the moment at least feel the reins of power in their fists. It’s too bad, gentlemen, that you lacked the vision to realize that someday statesmanship would have run its course in the USA and the greed flag would be proudly run up the flagpole of the nation’s capital.
Who woulda thunk? But it’s ok, it’s not your fault, nobody’s perfect.
by Jim Culleny
for the West County Independent
October 8, 2013
“ We have in my household budget, some bills that have to be paid and some bills that only paid partially.”
“Let’s see,” said the Treasury Secretary from behind a pile of bills, “this month I think we’ll pay Japan and, hmmm, China. Yeah, China. But we’ll just send each a partial payment this month since things are kind of tight what with the sequester and all. They’ll understand. Why just last week I asked my plumber if he could give a few weeks extension on his last invoice. He said, ‘Sure’, so I’m sure China and Japan will understand.”
“We’re going to have to slide on the old folks this month, though. We have a subsidy payout to Exxon-Mobile coming up and that can’t wait. Those guys will have me knee-capped if I try stiff them.”
“OK, Social Security checks on hold for a few weeks until we catch up. And, oh, school lunches …ok, well, we’ll just let them eat Tasty Cakes until Agri-biz subsidies are paid. The kids’ll love that! Don’t want Monsanto poisoning my tea.”
“And maybe I’ll have the wife cook up a pot of soup to send down to the senior center to tide them over until those Tea-party thugs let Boehner off his leash and permit him to let the whole House vote to take us off shut-down —but it’ll be cold day in hell till that happens I suspect. They’ve really got his balls in a sling over there,” he said with a wry smile. “He was weeping in the rotunda again just yesterday.”
“Ok, who else do we have to pay before some irate nation calls in a collection agency or some persuader from the Russian mafia?” he said. “That Putin can get pretty ugly I hear.”
“Isn’t this much better than having to pay all our creditors at once,” the secretary continued, nodding to the president. “Running national finances is just like keeping a household, but with more zeros, excellent health insurance and the possibility of global economic collapse…”
by Jim Culleny
October 7, 2013
If, on the world economic stage the US is seen as financially unstable and unreliable due to a structural flaw in its system (the one being amply demonstrated by Republicans), how long do you think we’ll retain our economic status? And once lost how long, if ever, will it take to regain it.
September 30, 2013
I’ve been training body all along
to dance the cantos of my thoughts,
how can it not do what it learns?
Innocence seeps away
through the interstices of neglect—
if I have not built a room
to house a pure idea
it will move on to a better man
and leave my vacant skull to host
what loathes a vacuum
Seems at least probable, no? —doing founded upon on thinking.
I wrote that poem this morning after reading some news. It doesn’t matter what news, all the news is loaded with what the poem tells me about us and the kind of national and world home we’re making.
Do you recall a philosophical concept called “tabula rasa”, or, in English, “blank slate” —or blank blackboard if you went to school in the old days? The idea is that we’re born with minds free of the text that will be written there; minds pure as the driven snow which will then be nurtured one way or the other. Whether we turn out good or bad, wise or stupid, loving or hateful depends upon what’s scrawled on our slates —what’s put there by others and what we eventually put there ourselves. In the end our once pristine mental snow-scapes will look (if we’re lucky and astute) almost as brilliant as the icy crags of Everest or as splotched and grey as the plow banks along the January curbs of Manhattan.
The nature/nurture argument has persisted for years in educational circles: whether the mind is a tabula rasa at birth or comes equipped with certain information— but whichever side you fall on it’s fairly obvious that what we think is linked to what we do. As one poet has winked and said,
If my brain does not tell my arm what to do
nothing much will happen
—without a brain my arm is not much smarter
than a leg of lamb
If we can agree on this (that mind and meat are quite different substances, but interconnected) we can see why political factions do everything in their power to control information. The Dhammapada, a Buddhist scripture, says, “All that we are arises with our thoughts,” which is why we have powerful interests determined to transform public education to private while simultaneously buying up and consolidating media news sources. Their goal is that what these interests think will become what their news divisions and educational institutions think and, eventually, what you and I and every kid on the block thinks. You might call such schools and TV stations corporate madrasas, no different in intent than the Muslim schools we’ve heard so much about: to indoctrinate minds to certain modes of thought. Prime examples of this are (most famously) Fox News, religious groups who want to transform public science education into curriculums of their particular dogma, and groups like the American Legislative Council (ALEC) a corporate lobbying organization which actually writes laws and invents facts for congressional reps that favor the interests of big business.
Every political regime has its propagandists, this is an old truth. Monarchs and tyrants have traditionally ruled by the false and the fist. But in the past, in this nation at least, it had been traditional to guard our news sources against absorption by self-interested forces —government or private. Whether or not it was strictly adhered to, journalists had a code that insisted on maintaining a personal vigilance against influence by interested entities. But that’s gone now. What we have today are annual entertainment orgies like the White House correspondence dinner where media types cozy up with politicians, dining and cracking wise with them as if they were not inherent adversaries —because now they really are not. They’re propaganda partners. To a large extent what we have now are not journalists, but “so-called journalists” —obsequious garment-touchers of power —factotums employed and controlled by media corporations.
Which leads us to where we are now regarding the misinformation assault of the ACA (Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare). There are many myths being generated by forces that have no regard for the well-being of individual Americans unless they have money. Politicians (of the right, especially —but certainly not exclusively) make false claims, invent realities and even contradict themselves without shame or fear of being exposed even when just about everything any big-cabeza has said is on tape somewhere. Our news sources are so beholden to financial interests the truth becomes whatever is reported and repeated enough, again and again, over and over, without pause in 24 hour déjà vu loops.
It’s crazy some say, but it’s our crazy.
No, I say, it’s just crazy.
It’s this kind of crazy that has infected the thought of a small, but passionate segment of our population. A faction that has control of at least one limb of one branch of our government: the House of Representatives who are acting out exactly what they’re thinking — they are being their thoughts, just as the Dhammapada predicts. They are being passionate legs of lamb performing destructive acts determined by destructive thoughts that have bounced back and forth in well-constructed political echo-chambers. It takes real work and diligence to counter the deluge of this myth stream, but the importance of doing so is huge.
So, if you think something’s gone haywire in the USA, say so. If you think, “United we stand, divided we fall,” join with others in associations that work toward the ends of economic fairness and compassion rather than the ruthless, Ted Cruzish, cash-based kind of governance so fiercely practiced in the 21st century. Trust no power without verification and be especially wary of TV talking heads.
First: right thought, then right action. Don’t be a misinformed leg of lamb, be a smart one. Make a room in your skull for true thoughts. Keeping vigilant will make us a good home.
by Jim Culleny
for the West County Independent
September 14, 2013
I had a dream the other night that was over the top with gang brutality. It was disturbing; not because of the brutality per se, but because of the composition of the gangs. These were not the famous Crips and Bloods that are now clichés in media lore. My nightmare gangs were too familiar and commonplace. They were made up of authority figures I was taught as a child to trust. But we’ve become a coarser society since we gave our collective assent to state-sanctioned torture as an information-gathering tool. Truth is, we ultimately brutalize ourselves when we brutalize others. It’s one of the unintended consequences of our post-9/11 security phobia. In short, my nightmare gangs were made up of police.
The mounting frequency of reports of the use of excessive force by police that ran through my dream elicited a poem a while back. I wrote it soon after I’d read of yet another mistaken SWAT raid on a house that turned out to be at a wrong address. The innocent inhabitants were scared out of their wits, assaulted and brutalized in an event of overwhelming force. But we’ve become blasé about this sort of thing, submissive, or, as I said, coarsened.
SWAT raids have become a running thread through the news as more and more communities militarize their police forces. Human nature loves to fill a vacuum. The more space in your house, the more stuff you buy to fill it. The more powerful your car, the faster you’re tempted to push it. The more crowd-control equipment you spend money on, the more you have to justify its use. It’s like that.
Here’s the poem:
cops with army stuff
play more with army stuff,
find more reasons
with more reasons
sometimes kill in the process
tasers, small tanks, flack vests
big muscle guns, jackboots
toughen up with army stuff
turn up the heat
see if gizmos work
go boom rattatat zap hurt
Taser use is a good example of what I’m talking about. Tasers are so efficient and multifaceted. They’re instruments of caution as well as torture. It’s safer to tase than to talk, therefore what may once have been a long, drawn-out talk-down in a personal conflict event becomes a quick and easy takedown requiring less thought and more action. You have a taser; you use it. It’s not as lethal as a bullet and more cost effective than a time-consuming colloquy with a distressed, problematic citizen, but people have died from being tased. So? Ho-hum. At least, that was my dream gang’s attitude.
Times have changed. I was raised in a small town in New Jersey where the police knew everyone and everyone knew the police. But this was before the creeping militarization of local police forces, before SWAT mania. I’m fortunate enough to live in a similar town now. I was raised to respect the courage required of police officers in the face of danger and the often-difficult task of emotional restraint it takes to remain professional and judicious in extreme, rapidly escalating situations. I still do. But my dream was not about that kind of policing. It was not about responsible law enforcement professionals who risk their lives in service to others and understand the limits the Constitution puts on their methods.
I spend a lot of time keeping up with the news and pretty much every day I read of police raids that are botched and brutal. In an article written for the CATO Institute, writer Radley Balko notes, “Americans have long maintained that a man’s home is his castle . . .unfortunately . . .over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work.”
“Special” once, maybe, but now less special more routine. Just a quick Google turns up three of many similar citations:
—Police are often amped up for a SWAT-style raid, and suspects or innocent people behind the wrong door often believe that they are being attacked. (businessinsider.com).
—Federal court case launched after a SWAT team burst into the wrong house, shot the family dog, handcuffed the children and forced them to “sit next to the carcass of their dead and bloody pet for more than an hour.” (WND.com)
—A small organic farm in Arlington, TX, was the target of a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search (which found no violations). (Huffington Post 8/15/13).
What we’re talking about is not traditional police work and tactics. We’re talking about police forces becoming domestic armies, and the mindset of armies is not to protect citizens, but to destroy enemies. It’s a mindset that can result in ruthless acts of brutality as in the recent case of a woman in Tallahassee, FL who wound up after a police stop with injuries requiring reconstructive facial surgery. (The Tallahassee Democrat, 9/10/2013. Again, such incidents are reported with more and more frequency.
This trend to militarize community police forces is something many of us turn a blind eye to, but it has upset Col. Peter Marino, a former marine who served in Iraq helping to build the Iraqi army. Marino, in impassioned remarks at a Concord, NH council meeting said (and being in the army-building business he should know), “What we’re doing here, and let’s not kid about it, is we’re building a domestic army . . .We’re building an Army over here and I can’t believe people aren’t seeing it, is everybody blind?”
Play Marino’s remarks over news footage of black-helmeted, flak-jacketed cadres of the local infantry in high-laced boots with “POLICE” written on their backs, pouring out of armored personnel carriers with heavy munitions surrounding demonstrators exercising their right to congregate, and my bad dream of domestic armies becomes more than a personal nightmare. Did Bin Laden win after all?
by Jim Culleny