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July 28, 2013.  Butte Montana

A listless summer afternoon in the wake of the carnival air of Butte’s Evel Knievel days of bikes and beer-stoked mayhem  subsided into a Sunday quiet.  Up here in Walkerville dogs bark, a few kids can be heard in the nearby playground, and looking westward the sky is blanketed with smoke from a fire in Phillispburg, about 80 miles away.  Out in the far distant world the reverberations of large events seem to rebound, casting a similar gray blanket across the globe.  The Arab spring of not so long ago seems to have devolved into imminent multiple civil wars as Sunni and Shiite, and numerous other sects, recoil into terminal defensive stances as slaughters rip the giddy optimism of last years “spring.”  Elsewhere the Chinese economy seems to slow, sending fiscal ripples across the ocean, while worries build about their bubble and burst. The European community stutters along dragged by the rip-tides of “austerity” as pressures build on the streets and the famed post-war social contract shreds.

Here in America a mix of our usual self-administered shock and awe casts a sullen air across the summer landscape.  From wacky weather of too dry here, too wet there does in crops from West to South, to the after-shocks of  the Boston Marathon massacre and on to the “stand your ground” trial results in Florida, the nation seems transfixed and then numbed to the descending clouds of angst.     The revelations of Edward Snowden and the current trial of Bradley Manning, all these events combine to produce a vast self-doubt where not merely those of a radical bent such as myself (who called this shot long long ago), but now ordinary citizens as well as major political figures – such as former President Carter – mutter seriously of the fracturing of the American community and the faltering of our self-proclaimed “democracy.”  Calls are made to split the nation, and let the “red” states go and pay their own bills.  The Supreme Court rules still again to let money speak louder and louder, shielding corporations while assaulting voting rights in what is a blatant bit of racism on behalf of the GOP.  The summer calm carries a sullen tone, as it seems we await the next battering – a hurricane?  Fire?  Drought?  Flood?  The next revelation of our police-state reality?

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Lingering in the melange of this seemingly constant avalanche of frantic “news”  there seems an ever increasing sense of something having been lost, as if washed away in the fast moving currents of a flooded river.  What seemed reasonably certain now raises doubt, but so swift is the current that we almost forget immediately what trauma had preceded whatever the current one is.  The Sandyhook massacre in Connecticut, the furor over gun-control, the constant rancor sent charging through the public airwaves, the bombing in Boston — each new event folds in upon the next, numbing the mind and soul.   In the furious rush, too many things – whether one articulates it to one’s self or not – slip by, with a nagging sense of “forgottenness.”  Let’s take and example, the Boston Marathon bombing and its immediate aftermath.

You can try to ignore that the person who put this together is not a native English speaker and the cheesy closing.  But, indeed that was a man – even the police admit it – forced to strip, who looks very much like Tamerlan Tsarnaev and who, allegedly subsequently having been released, simply disappeared: no name from the police, no good old American suit against the police.  Nope, just disappeared.  And his body double then was dead, purportedly shot in a gun battle and then run over by his brother who managed to escape in a car and find his way to a hiding place miles away – or so said the police.  Or having found their second man, Dzhokhar, the police claimed a major gun battle with their target, only to report later that, well, uh, he didn’t have a gun.  Or whisking the now seriously injured man, who the police initially said had shot himself, away to a guarded hospital, he goes unheard and unseen for months while the “justice” system emits word that he’s admitted to the bombing, and then weeks after he was taken, that he’d scribbled last words on the interior of the boat, and those were released.  Or that an alleged associate of Tsarnaev was, gee gosh, just sorta accidentally killed by the FBI while being interviewed in his home in Florida.   Somehow the whole matter (never mind The Craft militarists seen at the site of the bombing, and too many myriad other fishy elements to dismiss out of hand) seems infected with the kinds of things which make one seriously doubt the word of our “authorities.”

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Following this spectacle, in which a major American city was essentially closed down in a boyhunt for an alleged dangerous terrorist, a grateful public flooded the streets with cheers for the assembly of militarized police who had saved them; following the filing of charges against him, the NY Times comments section was flooded with calls for skipping a trial, executing him, or better imprisoning him for life – Dzhokhar had long since been convicted by the press with more or less all the evidence, comments, and statements – much of it transparently false and much very questionable – coming from the police and FBI.  But it worked – a major American city closed down by a military occupation with nary a squeak.

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Not long afterward our attentions were yanked another direction.  Following in the footsteps of Bradley Manning, whose military trial verdict is expected today (found not guilty of “aiding the enemy”), another techie in the service of the government by way of an “outsourced” national security job at Booz Allen (spies for hire), Edward Snowden, absconded to Hong Kong, and now Moscow, having released through the UK’s Guardian, direct evidence of the National Security Agencies blanket surveillance of all American (and foreign) telecommunications.  All.  So much for the US Constitution in the hands of our corporatized security-state masters.  If they have the means – which they do – they will use all the tools at their disposal to “protect” us.  The ferocious response of the government and its security authorities suggests that they know full well there are many things which they have hidden from the citizenry which will cause major political problems, domestic and foreign, if revealed.  Indeed the response is already visible as the entire surveillance program has come under attack from left and right, including Mr. Carter who says simply that we don’t have a democracy now.  Snowden, in his public statements, has appeared eminently reasonable and sane, while the government and much of the press have sought to vilify him personally and deflect attention from the content of what he has revealed.  It is clear the government is truly scared of what he might further reveal.   Ironically, while the government has not hesitated to accuse Snowden of criminal and felonious actions, it’s own functionaries, have blatantly lied to Congress regarding their activities – lying to Congress under oath, which Mr. Clapper did, is perjury and a felony crime.  Yet nothing has been said or done to Mr. Clapper for this transparent public instance of crime, just as the crimes on Wall Street have been brushed aside.   It is such double-standards which have cast the grim cloud over America – one compounded by a long train of similar abuses instigated by our government – from the fake grounds for war with Iraq, to Obama’s executive decision that he is allowed to authorize drone attacks on American citizens by some magical legalistic mumbo-jumbo done in the back rooms.  Put simply, the US government has steadily undermined the source of its authority with its own actions, and in turn the public has steadily turned against it.  Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are hounded and prosecuted for revealing the truth of our government’s behavior; high up government and economic officials are absolved for serious crimes.   What were once considered the hysterical views of wild-eyed radicals now come from the mouths of former Presidents, Senators, and ordinary citizens who have had the wool removed from their eyes.

[Note: Mr Clapper, the perjuring Director of the NIA, back in 2000 was a government operative who proposed out-sourcing of the surveillance of the internet to private contractors; subsequently he became an executive of Booz Allen, such a contractor; now he is head of the NIA and lies directly in sworn testimony before Congress and is not prosecuted for this crime.]

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The case of George Zimmerman clarifies, as if it were needed, the heavy thumb of bias which animates the laws passed in numerous States regarding access to guns and their use, similar to the sudden surge of laws passed to govern voting rights – laws passed by and large by the same party.   Their purpose is in effect to license racism, in the old phrase of the South, “to keep them in their place.”

Mr. Zimmerman stalked his prey, did not follow a police department order to refrain from following Trayvon Martin, provoked an incident, and killed an unarmed 17 year old boy walking perfectly legally down a street.  Mr. Zimmerman walked away from his trial a “free man,” making a mockery of Florida’s laws and “justice.”   In many parts of the country there have been rapid attempts to construct a similar kind of justice for women,  workers, ethnic minorities; attempts built on political gerrymandering to assure that a majority is thwarted and that a social-political minority are able to deceitfully call the shots.  (Sound like Wall Steet?)

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But, worry not, Big Brother is watching (out for) you.  Trust in him and every thing will turn out hunky-dory, A-OK.  Meantime as glaciers melt, wild wacky weather does its number on you and yours, rest assured, the authorities know what they are doing, and are taking care of things.  You bet.

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“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”

“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate

So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl

Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower, 1968

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Ours is an utterly corrupt era, to be seen at the highest levels of our society – in government, in business, and in the ethical and moral standards which are normal to corrupt societies.   A few decades ago (or even earlier) those – including myself – who pointed to the trajectory which our society was on were ridiculed and shunted aside as weirdos, conspiracy nuts, and all the usual epithets reserved for those who don’t “go along to get along.”  Today as those views are confirmed, even “ordinary” citizens can see it, and pundits and would-be authorities dare to say it and ponder the consequences.  The disquiet is palpable, the becalmed sea hints at storms to come.  “There must be someway outta here.”

linns smallFoto: Linn Ehrlich

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2 Comments

  1. Good to read your writing and thoughts, I agree soundly with so much, our rapid tragectory to the corpo-fascist anti democratic devolution. I like to think nature will wake us up in a quickness with more extremes and depletions with there cause and effect. I am the artist in Conway making a roadside attraction. Visit again if you get back to Skagit Valley. Tony Stinson

    • Hi – I was up in Port Angeles shooting new film in Sept and early Oct. But I came from Montana via a southern pass though I imagine I’ll again be making that journey (MT to PA) again in next year(s?) and will make sure to let you know and drop by. Hope all’s going well. best jon


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