Standing Rock

It’s terribly sad — and infuriating — to see what the government did at Standing Rock after all the great work people did there, suffering through a bitter winter and now a brutal defeat. Sometimes progressives have no choice but to withdraw, to temporarily retreat from a battle. When we lose a fight — as the movement will many more times before things really change — we need to summarize what happened, why, and draw lessons from our efforts (for example, the government represents the billionaire class and not the people); to develop new tactics given the neofascist reality (organize and unite all who can be united to fight fascism); to learn what other successful progressive movements have done (study history and revolutionary political theory); regroup and prepare for a long difficult struggle knowing now very clearly who our friends are, who are our enemies, and what we need to do to be victorious. It will happen, brothers and sisters, if we learn from our experiences, from history, and organize!

 

Tech Umán, 1980

Ana and Manuel followed a dirt road beside el rió Suchiate—the river that separates Guatemala from México. They and a handful of other refugees had traveled there by bus from San Salvador, arriving at the border town of Tecúm Umán where they hired a coyote to smuggle them into the United States.

Their faces were apricot-colored, bathed by the final blazes of the setting sun. And though they appeared to be out for an evening stroll, their eyes were riveted on the coyote. When the time was right, he would wave them into the thicket that grew beside the river. There, they would wait. Then, with the cover of darkness, they would secretly cross the river into México.

Tecúm Umán was a way station for poor Central Americans who wanted to emigrate to the United States. If one had the money, one could buy anything there. But the hottest commodity was the smuggler—especially los coyotes. They stood on the corners and hustled would-be immigrants like drug dealers in a big city.

As the Salvadoreans walked the streets of Tecúm Umán, there were many sights that were strange to them and many familiar: musicians and thieves, preachers and soldiers. Mayans dressed in native fabrics sold handicrafts, homemade cheese and mangos in the streets. Young lovers sat beside each other on the roots of la ceiba, shaped like giant gnarled hands, while parrots bickered above them in the tree’s broad branches. And in the distance, there was el puente—the bridge. Whether they reached the United States or not, that would be what the refugees would remember best. They would remember the bridge because it was guarded by soldiers armed for battle, and because they could not cross it.

El río Suchiate rolled under the bridge that joined México and Guatemala. Upstream, hidden in the jungles, were great pyramids and pitted stone carvings, relics of the once great Mayan nation. Vines and wildflowers covered the ruins now. Monkeys and tourists climbed the ancient temples in the gaps between torrential rains and intermittent war.

It was not long before the refugees drew the attention of a patrol of National Guardsmen, who ordered them to raise their hands above their heads, which they did so obligingly one might have thought it was a greeting in that part of the world. The soldiers asked their names, birthdates and destination, poking the men with automatic rifles as though they were syringes that injected truth serum. They searched everyone until satisfied they weren’t armed with weapons or revolutionary literature. A pamphlet even mildly critical of the government would have spelled doom for them all.

Though they found nothing, the guardsmen were still suspicious. One thought he spotted a hint of anger in Manuel’s eyes—a definite sign of subversive tendencies. He launched into an interrogation, asking questions for which there were no acceptable answers: “Why are you in Guatemala? What kind of problems did you have in El Salvador?” The soldier leaned forward, nose-to-nose with Manuel. He tilted his head, eyes burning, and asked: “How do I know you aren’t a guerrilla on the run?” And in his eyes Manuel could see a dead man hanging from a rope.

It was 1980, the beginning of the Civil War in El Salvador.

Watching the relentless questioning, Ana’s legs began to buckle. Things did not look good for the refugees as the guardsmen’s expressions hardened and their eyes flashed with accusations.

An old woman began to cough violently. She grasped her chest and fell to her knees, gasping, “My heart! My heart!”

The soldiers began to laugh. “Some guerrillas THEY would make!” one chortled. “They’re just another bunch of guanacos trying to get to the United States. Let the stupid bastards go.”

The refugees were handed their papers, informed that the bridge to México was closed to all but official traffic. Then they were dismissed. As they walked down the road, heads bowed, the coyote appeared to be angry.

Soon it grew dark. The coyote kept glancing about, observing with night vision the eyes of faceless men leaning against almond trees—men who worked for him. One gave the signal he awaited and the coyote motioned to the refugees. Instantly they plunged into the thicket beside the river. As they scurried for cover, a man hidden in the brush herded them into a small enclave secretly prepared for them that morning. Huddling together, the refugees watched the coyote as he cocked his head toward the road.

It was not long before they became accustomed to the dark. The clamor of day settled as the river slipped behind them toward the sea. The refugees listened to the night. An owl hooted in a ceiba tree, its shadows etching a portrait of a woman in mourning. In the distance, raccoons ate crabs and wept. Leaves of almond trees danced in the cool breeze and a gentleman bird rushed up to them crying, “Caballero! Caballero!” warning them of danger ahead.

The coyote climbed back toward the road, pausing motionless at the edge of the thicket. As the moon rose over the forest, he avoided its light.

Across the road, someone lit a cigarette. Instantly the coyote bounded back into the brush and ordered everyone to strip and tie their clothing and other belongings into tight bundles. He herded them into the river, instructing them to stay close together in a single-file line and to move directly to the bank on the opposite side. The old woman pleaded with him, explaining she could not swim, a disadvantage shared by many others who remained silent.

“Don’t worry!” he told her impatiently “It’s low enough to wade across.” Then, with a snap of his fingers, he said, “Move!”

Into the river they went, one by one plopping into the rushing water, their clothes held over their heads with one hand, the other groping toward the next person in line. They squinted and struggled to spot the riverbank in the moonlight. But all they could see was a luminous spray as it rose to the sky, the darkness below them, and the bare back of the person they followed.

Ana felt the current pulling her downstream, sucking at her waist. And it seemed to her the river was alive—that a spirit lived there, throbbing and breathing, driven by an insatiable hunger, its misty breath rising up to the heavens. Yes, she knew there was a spirit there just as surely as one can feel another’s presence when being watched. And she was scared. From the beginning of time the river had conquered everything in its path, rock polished smooth as it raced past pyramids and through the jungle, bearing gold and bloated bodies, washing clothes and blood clean. As Ana crossed el río Suchiate, she felt it reach for her breasts—and she felt strange and somehow guilty. Then, in the darkness, the river laughed.

I must hurry! Ana thought. God, please, help me! I must hurry! The night belongs to the river…and it is alive!

There was a hollow splash. A young man who had lost his balance was instantly towed downstream by the current. Ana and Manuel turned toward him, interrupting the refugees’ movement forward. An old woman behind them was confused by the change of pace, slipped and was swallowed by the river. Manuel quickly reached for her flailing hand and yanked her back into line. She sputtered and coughed, struggling to remain as quiet as possible, though terrified by her ordeal.

The young man scooped away by the current managed to fight his way back against the onslaught of the river, using precious time to search for his belongings as he battled to rejoin the others. The delay angered the coyote boss, who waved his arms frantically until everyone was back in line and moving again. The coyote and his partners pushed and pulled and prodded the refugees until everyone reached the bank on the Mexican side of the river.

There the refugees struggled to get dressed, though their clothes were wet and stiff. But the boss forced them to move along, regardless of how little progress they had made. They fumbled down a path in the dark, pulling up pant legs and hopping on one foot as they tried to slip on shoes. The young man who had been swept away by the current walked barefoot, having lost his shoes in the rushing water. Days later, children would discover them on the riverbank and assume they belonged to a dead man.

Into the night they marched, the forest gradually thinning, the earth no longer soft and pliant beneath their feet, their hair blown dry by a breeze now too tenuous to carry the moisture and scent of the river. In the light of the moon they marched, climbing rocky hillsides, their footsteps setting loose streams of stones that poured into the caves of iguanas and interrupted their sleep. The hours passed and still they marched, through groves of mangos and jocotes, not able to pause and quench their thirst or satisfy their hunger. They plodded ahead toward an unknown destination in a land where they had never been.

In time they reached a battered wood-frame building—a bus depot. The coyote signaled everyone to gather around.

“We’re going to take a bus now. Don’t talk to anyone! Nobody! If they notice your accent, they might turn you in to immigration.”

“Why would they do that?” the old woman asked.

“Vieja! Don’t you know nothing? You’ll find out soon enough.”

An hour passed, during which the immigrants struggled to remain awake. Finally, a bus arrived, an hour behind schedule. It was a machine built of iron and wood back when the old woman was young. In the daytime, this contraption would be so crowded that men and boys would ride on the luggage rack on top. But the hour and location presented many empty seats to the refugees, wooden benches as comfortable as beds to the weary travelers. Following instructions from the coyote, they sat apart from one another like strangers—except Ana and Manuel. Manuel dared not leave Ana alone.

They rode the bus for two hours, the Mexican passengers holding chickens and children on their laps as they snored. Occasionally, a particularly violent jolt would awaken them as the bus bounded over a gaping hole in the road overlooked by the drowsy driver.

Soon the bus arrived at another desolate station. Responding to a signal from the coyote, the refugees jumped down from the bus to a dusty dirt road, then followed him for more than a mile until they reached the outskirts of a small town. In the moonlight they stopped and stared at what would have appeared to be a parcel of overused land were it not for a hand-painted sign that declared in Spanish: “Place of Recreation for the People—Gift of the Benevolent Government of the People of México.”

Empty bottles of tequila and beer cans lay scattered about in the tall grass. Dogs prowled the park, searching through garbage and eyeing the refugees with suspicion, as if to warn them they were trespassing on their turf. Three derelicts sharing a bottle of cheap brandy attempted to focus their eyes on the refugees, then laughed bitterly, their heads drooping in exhaustion.

“We’ll be spending the rest of the night here,” the coyote announced. “Stay close together and try to get some sleep. We’ll be leaving first thing in the morning.”

Having gone without sleep for two days, the immigrants lost little time searching for plots to spend the night. Ana and Manuel camped where they stood, though the earth was parched and hard as adobe. They lay on the ground in the park and gazed at the moon. As tired as they were, they felt as though they were still moving, waiting for a signal from the coyote.

“I wonder how my mother is doing,” Ana sighed.

“She is fine. I am sure she is fine. She is sound asleep, probably dreaming about you,” Manuel whispered.

Ana tried to smile. She tried to take comfort in what her cousin said. But she knew him too well. He would always find something good to say, no matter how difficult things were. When the government of El Salvador unleashed The Terror, he said it was because they were at el fin de el camino — at the end of the road. He said it was just a matter of time before the people would stand up and change things. That is what he said, even back then when there were screams in the night. And the next morning, when they found the bodies burned and mutilated in the street, he would still insist: It is the beginning of the end, my cousin. Watch and see. Something better will come.

Ana wanted to believe him. She wanted to believe things would change. She smiled and shook her head. Este hombre! He is so wonderful and so foolish! How he loves to dream! Such a typical man, thinking about football games and revolutions! Going to the United States…that is the most practical thing he has ever done.

Ana gazed at the sky and thought about her mother and her brothers and the way they lived. Hay Dios miyo. Help us to find work so we can send money back home to our families. Please God! It has been so hard. What have we done to deserve this life? Being born a poor Latin American—is that a crime? Dios! Por favor! Help us to make it to Los Angeles where at least we can find work!

An icy ring circled the moon; crickets sang to each other, joined in song by the drunken men.

As Ana prayed, Manuel lay on his back, hands cradling his head. Soon his thoughts drifted to his wife and son.

Ah, mi familia. How much you have suffered. Now your suffering has grown ten times! Are you sleeping now, my son? Did your mother kiss you goodnight for me? Did she say: Mi niño — que tenga dúlces sueños de menta y chocolate, mi amor. Did she whisper those words to you and kiss your cheek? And did you reach for your mother and hold her close to you? Did you tell her how much you love her, my son? I am sorry I cannot be there to say goodnight to you. I am sorry you were born in a country where the people have to suffer so. Oh, but things will change, my son. I promise you! Things will change. But you are just a boy, just a child. You cannot wait to eat. When I find a job in North America, I will send money to your mother so she can buy you shoes and books. And on Christmas you will have presents to open. I promise you! You have waited long enough, mi hijo. You will never go hungry again. And though I am far away from you now, do you know how much your Papá loves you? Do you know I left you and your mother so you can live a better life? Oh God! Please! Let my son know that I left because I love him!

 

From the novel,

ILLEGALS, by J. P. Bone

all rights reserved

http://www.illegalsthebook.com

 

 

 

Real Fake News

The New York Times recently ran an extensive piece that claimed to prove Putin and the Ruskies interfered in the U.S. general election on behalf of soon-to-be-anointed Führer, Donald Trump. 

Predictably the Times didn’t prove anything except that it has an axe to grind. 

Now leading members of the “Democratic” Party such as, well, Hillary Clinton are saying, “You See? It was all Putin’s fault!” that she lost the election. In fact Clinton, Inc. had a helluva lot to do with why folks will soon have to see Der Führer Trump’s racist, adrenaline-stretched face on TV every single day, with the title “President of the United States” beneath it. 

If that isn’t depressing enough, now Clinton, Inc., and their comrades in the billionaire class are asking: “Why is it that there’s no more talk about Benghazi, Hillary’s emails, speeches to the billionaire class, etc.?” Why? Because that was all “FAKE NEWS” they declare!

WELL Hillary may NOT have tried to paper-over details about the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, as claimed by the RepubliKlan, but as Secretary of State, she did play a huge role in developing U.S. policy there. And what was that policy? To interfere in the internal affairs of Libya — and in a much more direct and decisive manner than just hacking emails.

What exactly did the U.S. do in Libya? They helped NATO bomb the hell out of it, for starters. The CIA also provided intelligence to the so-called “rebels” there — you know, the “democratic” forces. That “intelligence” allowed them to locate the on-the-run head of state, Mumamar Gaddafi. U.S. allies then beat and tortured Gaddafi, and finally, with brutal barbarism, jammed a knife into his rectum. 

Ah yes: Democracy in action.

And all the red white and blue details are displayed in vivid color on your “smart” phone. So is a video of then-Secretary of State Clinton gloating after Gaddafi’s murder. “We came, we saw, he died!” she declared, erupting in exuberant celebration like a gambler whose team just kicked the winning field goal, eyeballs nearly popping out of her head.

Days later, the Times and other corporate media began yet another transparent propaganda campaign, declaring their outrage — OUTRAGE!  that Russia or ANY foreign power would DARE interfere in American  elections! 

Ironically buried in that same story is an admission that the U.S. has “attempted” to rig elections in other nations. 

That’s putting it mildly! 

One need not look far back into history to recollect that the U.S. supported the coup that overthrew the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.  The spokesperson who announced the U.S. policy supporting the coup was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who argued the Honduran military was “following the law” when they arrested Zelaya — still in his pajamas — and spirited him out of the country. 

Hacked emails, Russia, fake news, look over there! Did you see that? What’s up with the Kardashians? 

Focus, brothers and sisters! 

What DID those “hacked” emails show, anyway? 

They revealed that the Democratic National Committee (The DNC), which is the general staff of the “Democratic” Party, interfered in the US electoral system. And what exactly did they do? The DNC did their darn best to undermine the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. 

The Times piece reported that Debbie Wassermann Schultz, the former head of the DNC, was forced to resign DUE to the very same hacked emails. Those darned Ruskies!

Why exactly did Debbie Wasserman Schultz step down? Because the hacked emails, which the TIMES admitted (by omission) were Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s ACTUAL EMAILS — showed that Debbie Wassermann Schultz — yes, her — and the DNC INTERFERED in the Democratic primaries on behalf of Hillary Clinton! 

Even more astonishing, during the primary season, the DNC and Clinton, Inc. used their connections to encourage the corporate media to promote Donald Trump. That’s right! When CNN, MSNBC and others cut to “LIVE” Trump events, they did it in part because the Clintons thought Trump would be the easiest candidate for Hillary to beat. So we can thank Clinton, Inc., and their operatives for setting the stage for victory of Donald Trump.

If the “Democrats” had only fully embraced democratic institutions and let them work freely it is very likely that Bernie Sanders would have been the nominee of the that  Party — and if that had happened, the corporate media would be busy attacking President-elect Sanders rather than blaming the Russians for hacking DNC emails. 

Conclusion: 

“FAKE” news comes from many different sources. The New York Times should know: They published false claims by the Bush Administration that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. As a result, the U.S. invaded Iraq, destroyed much of it, killed hundreds of thousands of their citizens AND sent brave American soldiers to their deaths. The war also wrecked the lives of those who survived. 

The US invasion of a sovereign state — the State of Iraq — also unleashed a new force in the Middle East, one that both President Obama and the soon-to-be Führer, Donald Trump, declare must be destroyed. The “democratic” forces that “liberated” Iraq let the genie out of the bottle, settling loose ISIS/ISIL, otherwise known as the Islamic State.

 

 

 

 

A Truly Progressive Third Party

The time has come for TRUE revolutionary progressives to organize a militant left-wing party, one that does not compromise on principles, the Sanders agenda a good starting point.

We could begin by forming a broad-based united front against FASCISM, fighting and resisting all racist and sexist attacks across the nation.

One major characteristic that would distinguish such a party from the “democrats” and other “third parties” would be a GRASS ROOTS ASSOCIATION that actually ORGANIZES people around a number of issues, locally, regionally and nationally.

A militant left-wing party would run candidates for office at all levels but elections would NOT be the primary focus: it would get involved directly in the LABOR movement, assisting workers organizing unions and helping them elect militant leaders to existing unions. Such efforts would be led by the PEOPLE themselves, not politicians or individuals bent on establishing a career.

A truly independent third party would FIGHT for the rights of undocumented workers and ALL workers, primarily by ORGANIZING them; it would eliminate the power of the wealthy to control what happens to our schools, our water, the land and air; it would form local organizations of RENTERS and home owners and take control of our communities away from wealthy speculators, banks, hedge funds and greedy individuals; such a New Political Party would also play a major role fighting the carbon industries, and establishing actual programs — nationally and locally — to reverse global warming and preserve our planet for future generations.

Stop Ice Raids!

ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is gearing up to deport another round of immigrants ESPECIALLY those who fled Honduras and El Salvador due to gang violence in those countries.

What caused things to be so bad in Central America? Could it have anything to do with the intervention of the United States?

IN 2009 there was a coup in Honduras that was openly supported by then U. S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration. This opened the door to the near complete control of narco groups and the gangs that do their dirty work in that country.

But the coup in Honduras was not the first time the US intervened in Latin America — not by a long shot..

When the people rose up as they did in El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala and throughout Latin America, the U. S. did what they have always done when the people try to take control of their own country and make changes there: They intervened.

In fact since the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine, every time a nation south of the border has attempted to solve its own problems in a manner that did not meet the approval of major US banks and corporations, military advisers have been sent, arms appropriated, sanctions imposed, coup d’etats engineered, and troops dispatched. As a result, nothing much has changed in Latin America since 1825 — the date of the first US intervention there.

In El Salvador alone seventy-five thousand people died during the Civil War; hundreds of thousands fled the violence and mayhem during the 1980s and beyond, most of them finding their way to the United States.

It’s a terrible irony that people forced by a deranged military dictatorship to flee their homeland would seek sanctuary in the nation that supported and supplied the regime that oppressed them. It is an even crueler twist of history that those refugees, and their children, would, upon their arrival in the U. S., and for decades to come, be viewed and treated as criminals.

By interfering directly in a war of liberation, one lead by the heroic FMLN, the U. S. prevented El Salvador from charting its own destiny. As a result, even after Peace Accords were signed there in 1992, and democratic elections staged, that country is still to this day recovering from the damage wrought by that war, one that leveled forests, destroyed industries and infrastructure, damaged almost beyond repair the rule of law, and wounded the very psyche of the people. The brutal and devastating war also created ideal conditions for the introduction of a massive narcotics trade, well organized narco-criminal groups, and a state of lawlessness that continues to hold that nation, and much of Latin America, in its grip.

Just last year thousands of children, many traveling on their own, endured the perilous journey from Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador to the U.S. in an effort to escape gang violence and mob rule. Most were quickly deported, though many await an immigration hearing.

We need to defend every law-abiding immigrant from Latin American. Let’s go after the REAL criminals in the immigration debate — corporations and businessmen that brazenly violate the democratic rights of workers in this country, paying people less than the minimum wage, stealing money deducted from paychecks earmarked for taxes and social security, violating health and safety standards in the workplace, denying workers the right to organize, and treating many people like chattel. We need to stand up to neo-fascists like the Koch Brothers, Donald Trump and the RepubliKlan, and not allow neo-liberals like the Clintons to take cover BEHIND the fascists while interfering in Latin America and other Third World Countries.

Power to the People!

Paul Smith’s Surprise

Pemberville, Ohio 1910

Emma Smith was a teetotaler. She did not approve of liquor and thought it was God’s most useless creation after Adam. Her husband Allen, in contrast, thought liquor served a useful purpose, primarily medicinal, if only properly dispensed. He would soak a string of rock candy in whiskey and suck on the medication whenever he had a cold, declaring its merits as a home remedy. It did not occur to him that his wife took note of how often he was afflicted with colds and flu, not to mention rheumatism and gout, all diseases which he claimed were easily cured with a little rock candy soaked in the proper medication.

 

Emma and Allen Smith had a son they called Paul. Emma maintained he was named after the Apostle, but Allen, who suggested the name and the pious association, secretly had an old friend in mind the day Paul was born. Though Allen hadn’t seen his buddy in many years, he hoped one day they would meet up again. Just the thought brought a smile to his face. “If I ever do meet that rascal again, I better make damn sure I call him by his nickname in front of Emma,” Allen thought.

 

Paul was an average lad; there was nothing remarkable about him except perhaps his ears, which lent him a certain dignity, giving him the appearance of a trophy. Paul was aware of his mother’s views regarding alcohol having heard them recited in bits and pieces and on a daily basis over the span of his ten years on the planet. He was also aware of his father’s attempts to circumvent such opinions while avoiding a direct confrontation.

 

Though just a child, Paul knew the Smith men–his daddy included–would never dare directly confront their wives. From birth all seemed to instinctively know women were superior to men, which in the case of the Smiths wasn’t saying much. The truth is the Smith men had the character and moral fiber of an old wet dog looking for a bone.

 

Emma Smith used to say “Help me JESUS but the Smith men are living PROOF men descended from the apes!” Despite repeated efforts by women to “purify” the Smith men by attempting to breed the devil out of them, after five generations and thirty-two women, the Smith men remained as useless as ever.

 

Allen and young Paul tested Emma’s faith in a way that made Satan optimistic. Poor Emma was convinced that all of her days of labor and sacrifice would be for nothing and that young Paul would grow up to be just like his papa and his papa’s papa. That’s the way it seemed to her until one day when they had company over for supper…

 

The whole thing started one winter’s day when Paul spent a day in the attic.

 

Paul played there many an afternoon in the dead of winter when it was too cold outside to ride a sled or throw a snowball at some hapless clerk who happened by. A vast assortment of gadgets and gizmos awaited him up there in the attic; there were chests of clothes and hats and coats, busted lamps and pots and pans, big dusty bottles and broken mirrors. Young Paul and his brother Harry would play for hours on end making forts, inventing fanciful machines and discovering buried treasure.

 

On one such winter’s day, Paul and Harry played just a little longer than they should have. Both felt the unmistakable need to relieve themselves but just did not have the time to run downstairs, across the living room and out the back door through the snow to the outhouse. Paul noticed a big dusty bottle next to a broken mirror and suddenly had the inspiration to fill it up to the brim, seeing as how it was about a cup shy. So he did what he could to right what seemed to be a wrong, filling a void so to speak. Harry, being the younger of the two, did his best to make a contribution. Then Paul carefully stuffed the cork back into the bottle. And just in the nick of time, too, since the two brothers were unexpectedly attacked by a pirate ship.

 

Paul didn’t think much about the bottle after that: It just kinda sat up there in the attic with memories and moths, gathering dust for the longest time like some sort of an Egyptian artifact.

 

TIME PASSED SLOWLY as it used to back then. Summer came with its long warm days spent fishing in the lake, swimming in the river, chasing dogs and playing baseball. Another winter passed as well. A blizzard rocked Ohio that year, and Paul’s Aunt Nell froze to death when her carriage broke down on the way home from church. Still, for the most part, except for school, Paul was pretty much content; he played with his brother and his friends and ate his mother’s cookin’ and listened to his father’s stories. And though from time to time he had to put up with some quarreling–mostly about the Bible and drinkin’–Paul Smith lived a damn good life. He was probably too happy to even realize it. He had enough food in his belly, a warm bed at night and lots of time on his hands.

 

Then one day Paul’s father had an unexpected visitor–an old army buddy he hadn’t seen for twenty-some odd years. Allen Smith’s long lost pal wore a big furry overcoat, a waxed moustache and a sly grin which seemed to spell trouble to Emma, who looked him up and down like he was a traveling salesman. The reunion called for a celebration, and Allen knew just how to welcome his long lost friend. He scampered up the stairs to the attic and reemerged with a smile and a big bottle of a very special wine he had been saving for just such an occasion.

 

Young Paul’s heart dropped and he felt the temperature in the room soar. He glanced at his brother Harry and right away noticed he was having trouble breathing. They did not know what to do: if they confessed their crimes, most certainly the would get a whippin’ from a stick of their pickin’, if they remained silent, their dear old dad and his friend would surely discover their mischief and their punishment would be all the greater.

 

Being Smiths, Paul and his brother were not so much troubled by the moral ramifications of their situation as they were disturbed by the likely practical implications of their predicament. Moreover, they knew if they didn’t act quickly, in all likelihood they would be sent to bed, their father telling them the only supper they would receive that night would be the “food for thought” he etched into their backsides.

 

They did the only thing they could under the circumstances, being Smith men in training: They sheepishly begged a woman for help.

 

“Ma!” the boys cried, tugging at their mother’s apron. Emma watched her husband and his long lost friend wipe the dust off the big old bottle of wine. She shook her head in disgust.

 

“Ma, please! Don’t let Pa drink that wine!” Paul pleaded, still tugging at his mother’s apron.

 

“I can’t help it if you’re father is weak,” Emma said as she tended to some errand which in her mind was far more important than the foolishness of her husband and his “long lost” friend.

 

“No, Momma, please!” Paul insisted, gripped as he was by fear and trepidation and the prospect of no supper.

 

Emma, who watched her husband with great attention to detail as he sat at the table and poured two glasses of wine, suddenly sensed that her son–despite his Smithness–might actually have something significant to say.

 

“What’s wrong, son?”

 

Paul swallowed hard. “It’s just that . . .”

 

Emma’s eyes began to glow with anticipation.

 

“Yes Paul, what IS it?”

 

Paul clasped his hands behind his back and bowed his head. “It’s just that–it’s just…” Emma began to tap her right foot as if she was markin’ time to a march, and Paul KNEW he had to face the music. “Well…it’s just that…well, me and Harry, we peed in that bottle…”

 

Emma raised her eyebrows, turned and watched as her husband and his friend raised their glasses in the air. “I’d like to propose a toast to my old army buddy Pa… I mean STONEwall,” Allen said. Emma stood up straight as if the Lord had called her. “Yes that’s right… a toast to my buddy STONEwall. What a guy! It’s great to see you again after all these years!”

 

The two old friends smiled and clinked their glasses together. They looked into each other’s eyes and laughed, sharing some secret memory. This aggravated Emma all the more since she KNEW it had to be something EVIL they were remembering. Emma watched as her husband and his long lost friend tilted their glasses back against their lips. Her eyes were burning, though young Paul thought he sensed some pleasure in his mother’s otherwise grim expression.

 

Paul waited for his mother to say something. But she just stood there and nodded her head with satisfaction as her husband and his long lost friend gulped their wine down. Young Paul was properly mortified, which brought his mother untold gratification.

 

“But Mama!”

 

“Hush, child!” Emma said, her eyes aglow, bathed in the light of glory. “It serves em right…” And that night it seemed to young Paul that his mother enjoyed the wine more than the menfolk…

 

Paul could do little else but watch his old man and his long lost friend as they finished off that big old bottle of wine. After they had a couple of drinks, Paul figured his old man was getting kinda confused and possibly even intoxicated since he kept calling Stonewall Paul. But he didn’t attach too much importance to such things, though it did seem to agitate his mother.

 

Well the two men told stories and drank and slapped each other on the back, their discussions lasting late into the night. It seemed to young Paul that on most things, though both men had supposedly been at the same place at the same time, one would have never known it: they didn’t agree as to the facts of the stories, the time of day nor even the years that certain events transpired. But there was one subject upon which they happily reached a consensus: both Paul’s daddy and his long lost friend Stonewall agreed the bottle of wine they drank that night was the finest either had ever consumed.

 

Copyright © J.P. Bone

all rights reserved

Temple Street

They gather

as the sun sets

The moon rises

and it beckons them

But they pay it no mind

knowing nothing of the sky

the stars nor the sun

 

Seasons come and go

but their earth is sealed

by concrete

For them

the nights are hot or cold

 

The sea rises

sultry gusts rush

and their bodies ache

They rub against one another

a ritual without shaman

and struggle to free themselves

from skin they have outgrown

 

Males strut and posture

chests heaving

eyes glaring

They butt heads

The competitions is fierce

Dominance is temporarily asserted

territory established

marked by urine and blood

 

Males and females pair

They breathe in the sky

Hearts pound

carnal madness in their eyes

The moonlight is hot and wet

 

Before sunrise

skulls will crack

teeth will shatter

hair will burn

 

As the ritual concludes

a million stars race across the sky

like sperm in a womb

Their earth will move

dust and gas and molten rock

And for a moment

just a breath

they will feel alive

 

copyright © 2016 J. P. Bone

 

Digital Bedbugs

Scientists have recently mapped the complete genome of Cimex lectularius at the exact same moment that corporations have created digital bed bugs, tiny devices able to do far more than just suck your blood: They can spy on you.

But that’s not the only thing in your home that may have eyes, ears and more: Even your door lock may provide the key for big corporations to access your personal privacy, according to a new study entitled, Don’t Panic: Making Progress on the ‘Going Dark’ Debate.

The report by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, reveals just some of the technology already doing undercover work for tech companies.

“Appliances and products ranging from televisions and toasters to bed sheets, light bulbs, cameras, toothbrushes, door locks, cars, watches and other wearables are being packed with sensors and wireless connectivity,” the study reveals.

All these devices can be “connected to each other via the Internet, transmitting telemetry data to their respective vendors in the cloud for processing.”

It turns out that every cloud does have a silver lining — for big business and spy agencies, at least.

The list of corporations developing merchandise capable of snooping on their customers is a virtual who’s who of the world of high tech.

“Phillips, GE, Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Tesla, Samsung, and Nike are all working on products with embedded IoT (Internet of Things) functionality.”

The scale and extent of these new spying technologies go far beyond the dark inventions of an Ian Fleming or a Iain Banks, and mask real potential for sinister use.

These technologies include: “Sensors ranging from gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometers, proximity sensors, microphones, speakers, barometers, infrared sensors, fingerprint readers, and radio frequency antennae,” all created “with the purpose of sensing, collecting, storing, and analyzing fine-grained information about their surrounding environments.”

Ironically the initial goal of the report, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, was not to reveal the extent of corporate spying but to “begin to work through some of the particularly vexing and enduring problems of surveillance and cybersecurity.”

Toward that aim the “group” brought together “security and policy experts from academia, civil society, and the U.S. intelligence community.” During what they described as a “public debate,” they explored concerns by the NSA and other spy agencies that new encryption technology on cell phones and other devices might prevent them from monitoring communications by terrorists and other criminal groups.

After rigorous discussion, the majority of participants agreed that focusing on the use of encryption devices “does not capture the current state and trajectory of technological development.”

“A plethora of networked sensors are now embedded in everyday objects,” the findings state. “These are prime mechanisms for surveillance.”

In one of the few mentions of the potential perils of such developments the Harvard group acknowledged that these technologies “raise troubling questions about how exposed to eavesdropping the general public is poised to become.”

Yet with an ebullient and dangerous detachment, the report suggests the “‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) promises a new frontier for networking objects, machines, and environments in ways that we are just beginning to understand.

“When, say, a television has a microphone and a network connection, and is reprogrammable by its vendor, it could be used to listen in to one side of a telephone conversation taking place in its room – no matter how encrypted the telephone service itself might be.”

“These forces are on a trajectory towards a future with more opportunities for surveillance,” the report concludes matter-of-factly.

As if to reassure the NSA and other spy agencies that they need not fret about lost reconnaissance due to encryption devices, the Harvard group asserted “The audio and video sensors on IoT devices will open up numerous avenues for government actors to demand access to real-time and recorded communications.”

The study findings do suggest that the “Internet of Things” devices could pose a threat to civil liberties, especially for those who live in “totalitarian societies.” However the participants did not include a definition of a totalitarian regime, and for good reason: Given the current state of affairs, the United States of America would likely fit the description.

The report cited examples of the dangers of IoT technology that have already appeared in the media.

According to the document, “In February 2015, stories surfaced that Samsung smart televisions were listening to conversations through an onboard microphone and relaying them back to Samsung to automatically discern whether owners were attempting to give instructions to the TV.”

The study went on to report that, “A statement published in Samsung’s privacy policy instructed users to ‘be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of the Voice Recognition.’”

Another case involving an “in-automobile concierge system,” was also described, one that “enables the company to remotely monitor and respond to a car’s occupants through a variety of sensors and a cellular connection.”

You have probably seen these devices promoted by car manufacturers on TV. Through a cellular connection a driver can speak with a company representative who can remotely monitor the car’s computer and, through software, start the auto if the car key is lost, diagnose mechanical problems, or dispatch a tow-truck.

According to the report, during the course of an investigation the “FBI sought to use the microphone” to capture conversations between “two alleged senior members of organized crime.” A federal court in Nevada required the company give access to the FBI, and though through appeal the Ninth Circuit “disallowed the interception on other grounds,” it “left open the possibility of using in-car communication devices for surveillance provided the systems’ safety features are not disabled in the process.”

Even “Hello Barbie!” dolls now have the functionality to provide intelligence for companies. Mattel manufactured a doll that “interacts with children by recording their conversations with a microphone, processing it in the cloud, and sending verbal responses through a speaker on the doll.”

There’s more: “Devices like the Nest Cam record high resolution video with a wide-angle lens camera broadcast over the internet to account holders…. The Nest Cam can also exchange data and interact with other devices, such as Nest’s thermostats and smoke detectors, which themselves contain sensors and microphones.”

Stating what is both fact and a warning, the report reveals, “Law enforcement or intelligence agencies may start to seek orders compelling Samsung, Google, Mattel, Nest or vendors of other networked devices to push an update or flip a digital switch to intercept the ambient communications of a target. These are all real products now.”

 CONCLUSION

The billionaire owners of firms like Google claim they take “great care” to ensure the technology they develop “will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line.”

Clearly the opposite is true.

It is of utmost importance that freedom-loving people understand that many of the tools they are using to promote social change and organize resistance have a dual nature. Social networks and digital devices provide a means to reach a vast audience and to help organize progressive movements. However, they are also a major source of both political and economic power for billionaire class.

What’s more, and this is crucial: In these times when fascists have come out into the open, seek the highest office in the land and organize other reactionaries and militia groups, we must keep in mind that if they were to gain power, the internet and all related devices would provide an extremely sophisticated means of identifying and locating the opposition. It would also provide them with means to create and distribute propaganda that would have a far greater reach than anything ever imagined by Hitler and Goebbels.

All the more reason for progressives to resist, using tools of the internet, but more important — good old fashioned grass roots organizing.

copyright © 2016 J. P. Bone

 

 

 

Karl Rove Gives Hillary a Gift

Hillary Clinton points to ads run by a Karl Rove super pack as proof that the RepubliKlan would prefer to face Bernie Sanders in a general election.

To use a football analogy, what Rove did is a double-reverse, an old but seldom-used trick. Often the easiest way to figure out why politicians say or do things is to measure the result. Clearly the Rove ad was a gift to Hillary, one she accepted with open arms.

“I think it shows how desperate the Republicans are to prevent me from becoming the nominee,” Clinton said with a big grin. “I find that, in a perverse way, an incredibly flattering comment on their anxiety, because they know that not only will I stand up for what the country needs, I will take it to the Republicans.”

Anyone who has followed Karl Rove’s career knows that LITTLE is as it appears in the hands of this self-styled student of Machiavelli. If polls are any indication, Sanders would be a much more difficult candidate for the RepubliKlan to defeat in a presidential contest than Clinton. Why? Because Sanders has changed the calculus of the entire campaign by taking on the Billionaire class and Wall Street. People understand that less than 1 percent of the nation’s population control most of the wealth, the media, and the levers of government. It is for THAT reason Rove gave such a generous gift to Clinton, Inc., at this very early stage of the campaign: you see Clinton is a not only a representative of the ruling class, she is a fully vested member.

FRIENDS, at the risk of upsetting folks, we should ALSO be very clear that even if Sanders is elected president, without a strong organized people’s movement based on solidarity between all progressive groups and elements — especially those in the working class — Sanders would be able to accomplish little. What’s more, and this may upset some people, but I sure hope the Sanders campaign considers this: as Sanders comes closer to winning the nomination, he will increasingly be in the sights of the neo-fascists, the reserve secret army of the ruling class.

Though he is not a revolutionary, Sanders has already changed the political situation in the U. S. For the first time in decades, the media is forced to follow a campaign that aims to take on the wealthy and the power structure itself.

We must not ignore the history of those who have threatened the status quo in the past. Let us remember what happened to the socialist, democratically-elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, who was overthrown by a fascist coup backed by the CIA on September 11, 1973.

Here in the United States, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated after speaking out against the war in Vietnam, and perhaps more infuriating to the ruling class, connecting the struggle for Black liberation with organizing the working class.
That was in 1968, after the movement had already lost Malcolm X back in 1965, after HE began linking the struggle for Black Liberation to a battle against the capitalist system.

Even a wealthy man who became a reformer was murdered after winning the California Democratic primary in 1968. That, of course, was Robert Kennedy.

This is a violent nation and the billionaires like it that way. It helps keep them in power.

Ultimately we need to build a powerful movement to fundamentally change, from top to bottom, a very entrenched system that is based solely on making profit for the wealthy, no matter what the impact on people and the planet itself.

Bernie Sanders does not call for the end of the capitalist system. But as an independent left-liberal, one with integrity and a consistent progressive record, he deserves people’s full support, including grouchy old armchair revolutionaries like me.

The Second Time I was Executed

By J. P. Bone

One dark winter night I stood alone in the vestibule of a vast cathedral. Columns of marble lined the aisle like sentries, towering toward the heavens until they vanished in the darkness.

A brilliant ray of light beamed down from the night sky, illuminating a gold-handled broadsword that hovered in mid-air at the crossing. The sword thrummed, alive and angry.

In the still darkness of the cathedral’s nave, the blade began to pitch, whetting its edge on a glowing Möbius strip; it began to flip and rotate as if wielded by a swordsman approaching an adversary, whirling and thrusting forward, light flashing, the frigid night air sliced into perfect pieces that fell silently.

I watched, mesmerized, as the sword made its way down the nave until it confronted me, alone in the vestibule. A fierce celestial light flashed from the blade, which resounded with a blood thirst.

From high above a voice asked: “Do you want to live or do you want to die?”

I was beside myself, glancing from side to side, gazing skyward, astonished and without words.

Again a mighty voice boomed down from the heavens: “Do you want to live or do you want to die?”

The whole thing seemed ludicrous to me.

“I don’t care,” I said.

The sword sliced through the cold night air, moving so fast I could not follow its path, returning to the place it occupied in less than a heartbeat, as if it hadn’t moved, thrumming still, a brilliant light glistening through a delicate rose-colored film.

A bitter chill gripped me, and I reached out my hands to be sure they were still there. At that moment my severed head tipped off my neck, and fell into my open hands.

Looking up, I could see my headless body still standing, though unsteady. Gazing into the darkness of night, I asked: “Why did you do that?”

For a moment there was no sound, just the silent cold stillness of death. Then an answer: “You said you did not care.”

 

copyright © 2016 J. P. Bone