Looking for a Dry Roof from Which to Bray

Lifespans shrinking, social safety nets fraying, communities siloing, leaders murdering

All it takes for a society to express fear, paranoia, confusion, and a sort of mad country (riffing on mad cow disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy) mental disease is a toxic brew of narcissism, propaganda, amnesia, planned and perceived obsolescence and a transnational economic barbarism against the collective masses, and we end up here:

Leaders (sic) in USA, Canada, Mexico, most of Latin America, most of Europe, Australia, Japan, Israel and Middle East are as nasty and ethically/morally arrested developed as any of the lots in power-on thrones-in war rooms at anytime during the development (sic) of “civilization,” so much so that’s it’s hard to tell which tentacle of a Trump-styled sea monster really has hold of our collective frontal lobe.

These are the days, yessiree — anti-intellectualism, nationalism, demagoguery, disparaging one group after another—Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans, Asians, women, and any and all competitors. These people in America, like Trump, throw low blows and distribute piles of lies and spread their pandemic of white male billionaire disease, and he rises in the polls, by the very people he and the neoliberals and neocons and Christian-Zionists call parasites, or, deplorables. Adversaries are quickly branded “losers” or “flunkies” or “dopes” or “lowlifes.”

I want to lay down, but these countries are like uncles who touch you when you’re young and asleep. Look at all these borders foaming at the mouth with bodies broken and desperate…I spent days and nights in the stomach of the truck; I did not come out the same. Sometimes it feels like someone else is wearing my body.
― Warsan Shire, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth

Anyone can postulate just how long it took, really, for humanity – most certainly the hoards of IKEA-loving developed tooled and armed first world and their groomed despots — to succumb to the adage of we are just apes with nuclear bombs (or monkeys with algorithms, surveillance tools, psychological war weapons, and gobs of fossil fuels).

Five decades of collective community abandonment, collective mean styled capitalism, collective delusion; four decades of a collective cult of personality (nothingness), collective imploding of services, public health, welfare, safety; three decades of collective reverse mortgaging education, food systems, public transportation; ten decades of collective see-hear-speak no evil in the midst of massive evil-crimes against humanity/crimes against the globe/crimes against nature/crimes against common sense?

The Humanist: Some people are genuinely afraid.

Chomsky: They are genuinely afraid. The fear is genuine, and you can’t ridicule people’s genuine feelings. In fact you have to sympathize with them, ask where they’re coming from. In this case I think you can understand it. If you’re crushing somebody under your jackboot, you have to have a reason. The reason can’t be “I’m an evil monster.” The reason has to be either “I’m doing it for their good,” which is the usual reason, or else “I’m afraid of them and if I don’t do it they’ll go after me.” That’s a very prevailing attitude. It can be manipulated and cynical, power-hungry political figures working for concentrations of power do it all the time.

Germany, remember, was the most civilized part of the world. It was the peak of Western civilization, the center of the arts, the sciences, and literature. If you wanted to study physics, you went to Germany. Within a few years, it turned into a society of raving maniacs. Why did they destroy the Jews? Out of fear. Because, in their minds, the Jews were going to destroy them. They were defending not only themselves, but the Aryan race against the Jews.

The Humanist: That brings us back to the human animal, apparently a very fearful animal.

Chomsky: Humans are capable of many things. Some of them are horrible, some are wonderful.

The very simple acts of meanness from bureaucracies and the leaders, or so-called leaders, are demonstrative of the scaling up of the barbarity and banality of evil the elite and their minions with their trillions in offshore bank accounts and cachets of diamonds and Great Lakes full of oil have parlayed from this collective lack of empathy. Little Eichmann’s pushing the collective mouse click of despair, and smaller ones with a badge and uniform and pure hatred of blacks-Latinos-gays-demonstrators-people.

In Spokane or Tucson, LA or NYC, the agents of human disposal are hard at work – boulder sized concrete detritus spread out under Interstate 90 in the heart of Spokane so vagabonds or local homeless can’t spread their tents and belongings out of the freezing rain. Three hundred dollar tickets for asking a stranger to spare a dime in El Paso or Ventura – both the panhandlers (sic) and the givers subject to fines, handcuffs, jail.

True, jail, or worse by just imagining (no, this is not a thought experiment) the few of us who fight back, with words, principles, telling off some Gestapo cop with 17-bullet clips on semi-auto German pistols and their three foot batons and their Kevlar vests and their rapid fire 12 gauge shotguns and their reinforced SUV’s and their sixty foot streams of pepper spray and their hydra-headed Tasers and lobbed shock grenades and rubber bullets and bean bag launchers and their noise throwers, flame throwers, tanks, weaponized drones, conveys of armed Humvees and armored command centers.

In Santa Monica you can’t use a public curb to parallel park the old RV or hitched-up trailer. No overnight parking. No living in dignity. No sleeping here, or …? Multi-thousand dollar fines and impounding of those last vestiges of a home before hitting the tarmac with discarded yoga mat.

These fascists, knee-jerking Anglo-Caucasians, pushing over food carts in Atlanta or Albany. All American Flag Wrapped wingnuts swastika-tagging food marts owned by Sikh-Vietnamese-Korean-Punjabi in every town and big city, from Pacific to Atlantic. Those 24-hour ticking time bombs of insults, retrograde reporting, falsifications called Mainline Media, failing not even just the humanity test in falsifying what social injustice is, but rubbing out any semblance of reality, as if each and everyone of them with coiffed hair and sweaty lips is Blanche Dubois and Walter Middy on Steroids-Growth Hormone Replacements Fake Journalist/Person.

In 2014, 64 communities had citywide bans on public camping, up from 40 in 2011. And the number of cities that prohibit sleeping in vehicles jumped from 37 in 2011, to 81 in 2014 and the number of cities that prohibit sitting or lying in public spaces increased from 70 in 2011, to 100 in 2014. Often called “sit/lie” laws, they prohibit the homeless from sitting or lying down on any street, sidewalk, entrance to a story, alley or other public place. This is the age of shitting on thy neighbor and throwing huge chunks of stone in our greasy collective glass houses: more and more cities are passing bans on begging, loitering and sharing or giving food away in public places, which hurts non-profit, community, individual food give-away programs, and pantries or churches who give food to the homeless on the street. The penalties vary by city and law and can include fines or jail time.

Here, read the report on, Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities

Hell, I worked for one of Portland’s largest homeless and recovery non-profits, and the dude we called our boss, from one of the top five investment (sic) companies, told us social workers to call the cops if we felt threatened, and he believed anyone leaning up against the bricks of our office should be roused by the cops, as Portland has laws against leaning against buildings (you know, this constant rain 6 months out of the year Mini-Metropolis), so god forbid the poor and homeless might get a few minutes of respite under an overhang.

Poverty pimps – you don’t have to resort to the Urban Dictionary to understand the connotations of that phrase, but here, read!

The term “poverty pimp” is defined as a derogatory label for an individual or group which, to its own benefit, acts as an intermediary on behalf of the poor. Literally, a poverty pimp is an individual or group who solicits for the poor, or it can mean, a welfare system procurer. Poverty pimps gain a higher quality of existence from exploiting the poverty of others.

Under the American system of inter-linked public and private social services the poor get helped but not in any effective way; the big bucks go for overhead. As always, a lot of anti-poverty money is going to people who are not poor. There are whole classes of people who live off the services provided to the poor.

Ahh, the flipped over America – liberals living off the pain of the poor, and the elites, the bankers, the chosen ones in the renter class, legal class, penitentiary class, they make the big bucks on servicing the poor, forcing them to live lives of toil, legal financial obligations killing them, and so many other things coupled with the very idea that a mark is born every second, and a sucker (read poor, forced poor class) is born every nanosecond.

My own work here, at DV, or LA Progressive and a monthly magazine speaks to the shackles poor people trudge around, from a liquor store-gun shop on every corner, to PayDay Loans in every census track, to fence-line communities sucking in the carcinogenic of the hissing, steaming, fogging by-products of the refinery-industrial sized farming industries. Read, my, “Six Degrees of Separation!”

The High Cost of Being Poor,” now eleven years old, from Barbara Ehrenreich, but relevant, by just ramping up the pain and the stats by a factor of five! And this one by Dave Johnson is three years old, good, informed, and yet, keep adding onto the misery these two writers reported — more than half of Americans are near poor, and the one paycheck away from poverty/homelessness /destitution/basement surfing/car sleeping/opiate sucking/booze sucking/suicide is not a story the left-right-in between want to deal with, and those deplorables voting for Trump are most probably not in this huge grouping of Americans working as wage slaves and precarious/temp/ multi-gig fellow citizens who would see the entire shit hit the fan with a bad fall, cancer diagnosis, busted head gasket, death in the family, and jump in the rent even 10 percent.

These purveyors of cultural sickness, country-wide hipsterism, nationwide values – the Mainstream Press – come on hard at us, precarious ones, fellow Americans, or whatever they think we are:

Republicans constantly talk about how good the poor have it. In 2002 the Wall Street Journal called the poor “Lucky Duckies” because they are “the beneficiaries” of the progressive tax system and pay little or no taxes. But the reality is that it just plain sucks to be poor. It’s actually more expensive not having enough money to get by.

Even the pop psychologists who are touted by Alternet and Salon, two pro-Hillary sites, have to weigh in on Trump and our collective psychosis. Here’s one — “Duke Psychiatrist: America Is Having a Nervous Breakdown: Author Allen Frances puts Trump on the couch, and reveals how we might regain our sanity”:

The 20 richest people in America have more wealth than half the country. 20 people have more wealth than half the country. The message is real. The Democratic Party has been remarkably inept in connecting with its natural voters. The Republican Party has sold propaganda very successfully, and Trump is the epitome of someone who is the worst possible messenger for a reasonably important message. He’s a false prophet. Every move he’s made has betrayed the people who voted for him. I think that the hope over the next months will be that his falling popularity, from 45 percent to 35 percent, that we’ll see a gradual erosion of people who realize that he was not the man they thought he was. That the hope they rested in him [was] misplaced, a buyer’s remorse, and he will become more and more isolated in office and as a result, will be able to do less damage.

Shame, blame, recrimination, prejudice, racism, speciesism, genocide. This is the fabric of a society weened on the hind tit of war games, wars, football on Sunday, cults of patriarchy, disaster capitalism, parasitic money making. This is the end line of those fed on Hollywood lies, normalizing murder, fetishes around looking-feeling-tasting-sounding-smelling like some Disney character. Every day in America, more than half the people are tackled by their own fears, their own lost lives, hoping for some cleaning of the slate, massive restart button, personal-national tabula rasa. Lusting after the good old days of slavery, seeding those first nations’ blankets with smallpox days; those glory days of bombing brown people, ripping off the soul of Mexico; those halcyon days where bombs bursting in air is the theme from sea to shining sea.

Everyday I have youth, boy do I have youth, and it’s not just the Trumping of the Worst Presidents on Earth — all 45 — that eats at these 17-to-21 year olds. It’s not the constant bombardment of the gut with the bio-waste of modern (sic) diets eating at the very fabric of their sanity.  They sort of get it that their prostate cancers and breast removals in four or five decades might be tied to the cheese in Cheetos or triple-deck cheeseburgers.

These youth are worn out at age 18. They are gassed and fatigued. Their poverty and their family pedigrees, all of that, with the shit-storm that is America being our CLASS chiseled country, all of that plus the stupidity of industrial education, the plague of low paying job futures, and the absurdity of the heroes/super heroes they adore making the greenbacks they lust after but really know it’s all smoke and mirrors and Hollywood fascism and Pro-Sports elitism and Music Mental Depravity. It’s the daily examples of burned out infrastructure — nothing for youth, except the impending days of wine, vodka, beer consumption when they hit 21. It’s the absurdly lacking public transportation. The clarion call to get hitched up with car loan, over-priced (usury) rentals, and the endless Twitter and SnapChat of more and more expensive pieces of shit smart-dumb phones and sick loan shark level phone and data plans.

Is this the paradise of the blind, the lost generation, the data-info-knowledge fatigue/paralysis generation? Is this the one last thrust of the masses in America to push away those One Percenters and the purveyors of the Christian-Zionist white racist flogging of the other races?

These young people know they have been lied to. They know they are in the same rooms-hallways-corridors-churches-malls-warehouses-classrooms of the great con game impresarios. They know their future is looking like chronic asthma, diabetes, brain fog, loss of motor-bodily-cognitive functions.

Who in their right mind would not BECOME opiate addicted under this shit hole operation, capitalism, and the con men of the last spasm of unfettered capitalism? Which child living under this web and flaming net of exploitation-disparities-abandonment wouldn’t rather choose/enter into the controllers’ house of torture a la Spanish Inquisition? Better to wig out, check out, burn out, veg out. The bastards are high in number, and the body count is rising. Here, Hedges burns it good, in his piece, “How Careerism is a Big Part of Our Social Predicament“:

The greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless human beings. They are the careerists. The bureaucrats. The cynics. They do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality. They collect and read the personal data gathered on tens of millions of us by the security and surveillance state. They keep the accounts of ExxonMobil, BP and Goldman Sachs. They build or pilot aerial drones. They work in corporate advertising and public relations. They issue the forms. They process the papers. They deny food stamps to some and unemployment benefits or medical coverage to others. They enforce the laws and the regulations. And they do not ask questions.

Good. Evil. These words do not mean anything to them. They are beyond morality. They are there to make corporate systems function. If insurance companies abandon tens of millions of sick to suffer and die, so be it. If banks and sheriff departments toss families out of their homes, so be it. If financial firms rob citizens of their savings, so be it. If the government shuts down schools and libraries, so be it. If the military murders children in Pakistan or Afghanistan, so be it. If commodity speculators drive up the cost of rice and corn and wheat so that they are unaffordable for hundreds of millions of poor across the planet, so be it. If Congress and the courts strip citizens of basic civil liberties, so be it. If the fossil fuel industry turns the earth into a broiler of greenhouse gases that doom us, so be it. They serve the system. The god of profit and exploitation. The most dangerous force in the industrialized world does not come from those who wield radical creeds, whether Islamic radicalism or Christian fundamentalism, but from legions of faceless bureaucrats who claw their way up layered corporate and governmental machines. They serve any system that meets their pathetic quota of needs.

Why do people leave their homelands, and seek the very Turtle Island of many of their own societies’ problems, desperation, despair?  “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark,” is one way to look at it, coming from poet, Warsan Shire.

There is no land of milk and honey now that the beasts of any nation have been sucker punched and dumped into the shipping canals of the Goldman and Sachs, the countless ones in Fortune 400 circles, by the 20 richest, meanest people on planet earth! Or the richest in America! How good are they? How shapeless are they in their Lost Paradises? And how many levels down the Dantean flaming ladder will they fall? If ever? That is the question, to flail and flog, or not to!

Colonialism only loosens its hold when the knife is at its throat.

— Frantz Fanon

Replace “colonialism” with capitalism, Wall Street, Military-Financial-Big Pharma-Insurance-Ag-Energy-Surveillance-Prison Complex!

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. A forthcoming book (Dec. 15, 2016), Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber, looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice, and before, to bring defiance to the world that is now lobotomizing at a rate never before seen in history. Read his autobiography, weekly chapter installments, at LA Progressive. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.