Combat-Veteran Congresswoman and Army Major Tulsi Gabbard appeared on Joe Rogan this week to confirm her candidacy for President of America, proving to be the only candidate articulating the vociferous anti-war sentiments of war-fatigued American soldiers. During her 16 years in military service, Major Gabbard has deployed twice to the Middle East as a combat medic, and today continues to serve in the Hawaii National Guard. Unlike virtually everyone else running for the Oval Office in 2020, Tulsi understands from first-hand experience and sacrifice what it actually means to be in war. She has also served for over 6 years on the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, working intimately on issues related to National Security and Foreign Policy. It seems only logical that anyone tasked with the responsibility of serving as Commander-In-Chief of the most powerful military in the world should be required to be a veteran of the military they command.
Hope has two beautiful daughters: Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are and the Courage to change them. Whether it be the looting and pillaging of Wall Street, the war profiteering of the arms industry, or the corruption of health care and educational institutions, it is time for the oppressed to build movements that are unrepentingly antagonistic to every aspect of corporate power. Every action must be directed to dismantling the structures that oppress us, and that will come only by building movements that grasp that it is not our job to take power. Power is the problem. The question is not, “How do you get good people to rule?” Most people attracted to power are at best mediocre or venal. The question is, “How do you make the powerful frightened of you?” That is the only question, and as Fredrick Douglass understood, that is the only way power responds. Every leap toward justice and equality throughout American history was made by movements that frightened the powerful.
Until now, the Justice Department has always distinguished between government employees who leak classified information and outlets that publish it, due to protections guaranteed by the First Amendment. The purpose of the First Amendment was never to lionize The Press into a privileged institution. It protects all persons in their right to print, speak, write, report and publish what they will. But the DOJ’s unprecedented decision to indict Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange for violating the Espionage Act seeks to penalize Assange for simply “Encouraging and Inducing” Chelsea Manning’s disclosures. Despite rampant innuendo from the corporate media, the charges against Assange have nothing to do with Wikileaks’ publication of Emails from the DNC and Hillary’s private server, but for revealing the war crimes of the Bush Administration. The Espionage Act has always been used as a weapon used to attack free speech and dissent, but now threatens to finally bring about Orwellian censorship.
Words have the power to shape thought. They form the basis of society from everyday interactions to our highest ideals. Since our ability to think and communicate clearly is what most directly separates egalitarian nations from totalitarian dictatorships, attacks on language always constitute attempts toward authoritarian overreach. The Corporate mercenaries running our world get away with their pillaging by burying their crimes in euphemism and convoluted sentence structures, thereby making terrible atrocities sound acceptable. The word “Torture” becomes “Enhanced Interrogation”; Theft becomes Civil Asset Forfeiture; Genocide becomes Ethnic Cleansing. Such deliberate irony corrupts the very ideas our words refer to, leaving us in a hypnotic state of cognitive dissonance in which we are compelled to disregard our own perception in place of the officially dictated version of events. The result is a world in which even the privacy of one’s own thought process is violated.
How is it possible that amid a $94-Trillion economy, median wages are in decline? America’s economic policy constitutes a kind of structural genocide, killing 18 million people annually worldwide through the violence of poverty and socioeconomic inequality. Economic “busts” are good for the rich because they create cheap labor and allow banks to seize properties the poor can’t pay for anymore. All that wealth consolidates at the top to the point where 70% of the population can no longer generate enough income to afford basic necessities without taking on ever-increasing levels of debt that they will never be able to pay back under current economic policy because the financial opportunities necessary to generate the income do not exist. Our entire economy is based on unnecessary consumption that relies on advertising to create artificial demand, and rewards manufactured scarcity, be it arbitrarily priced pharmaceuticals or polluting watersheds to increase bottled water sales.
In his classic, A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean writes, “The world is full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.” Though historians don’t agree unanimously on the exact translation of the word “Missoula”, the trading post that started out as the “Hellgate Village” has come to be known by many names over the decades, including the City-with-Soul, Zootown, the Hub of Five Valleys, and the Garden City. It’s also been referred to as the Little Bigtown, not only in reference to the Custer Battleground in eastern Montana, but because Missoula is the best of both worlds. It’s a bustling urban area with deer frolicking in the streets and Osprey hovering over Missoula’s many rivers, all teaming with fish. This emerald of the Rockies is the Golden Mean between urban and rural; progressive and classical. Missoula’s modern influence is world renowned, attracting worldwide attention from a wide range of audiences for it’s university, biodiversity, artistic relevance, outdoor enthusiasm, cultural tolerance, community focus, and stunning beauty. And while the community has been compared to places like Berkeley and Amsterdam, there really is nowhere quite as weird or as free as Missoula, Montana.
As the corporate media focuses their attention on the 50-year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, our knowledge of modern technological limitations forces us to ask how a live television broadcast was possible from 240,000 miles away in 1969. We’ve all seen live broadcasts where parties experience significant delay time between question and response as the live signal crawls thousands of miles between them, then back to viewers. Yet, we’re expected to believe that CBS was capable of broadcasting live footage from the moon, fifty years ago, without any delay whatsoever. Unfortunately most who question the official narrative of the Apollo program insist that the image alteration and obviously faked television footage are evidence enough to prove NASA never went to the moon. Is it possible that NASA did successfully complete its mission, but concealed the truth with the magic of the silver screen by showing the world staged movie sets instead of the authentic mission footage?
Among its many other meanings, the word “hack” tends to signify the act of digital trespassing. But modern hackers don’t just break into computer systems. Hackers also employ creative genius to invent radically new methods of solving problems by thinking in unorthodox ways. Reducing malaria and increasing the efficiency of nuclear power plants are realities both made possible by today’s clever innovators, or hackers. While corporate talking heads conflate hackers with terrorists, the hatred of authoritarian surveillance regimes validates hackers as modern heroes, boldly resisting the tyranny of Empire. The term “hacker” has come to be misappropriated in recent months and years, especially as the mainstream media struggles to determine whether Julian Assange is a journalist or not. The media’s constant and repeated accusations of “Russian hacking” became problematic when key intelligence officials demonstrate again and again the critical difference between a hack and a leak.
It seems that the operating system of the universe can be changed and hacked. But to manifest with precision we must ask ourselves what it is we are really trying to bring about in the world. To do that, we must explore the fundamental philosophical question: Who are we and where are we going? Along the way we eventually learn about the industries who rule over our minds. The ownership class keeps humanity divided against itself by perpetuating the illusion of separation. This is done primarily through fear. The same fear that props up the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance companies feeds the military-industrial-complex and mainstream media. If we don’t want the entire world to transform into the technocratic nightmares of corporate criminals, we must work to form our own cultures like our lives depend on it. It is up to us to accept our role in the universe as co-creators of our own destinies. And if we don’t have sovereignty over our own minds then we cannot claim to be free.
Albert Einstein once declared that imagination is more important than knowledge. He also suggested reading fairy tales to children as a means of enhancing their intelligence. Our ability to navigate the turbulent seas of life requires of us more than memorizing facts or recounting stories of other adventurers. The ever-transforming mess of this rapidly-evolving world demands a constant flow of creative solutions to the barrage of new problems that constantly bubble to the surface of our experience. But for us to be able to realize our full creative potential, we must first have free access to information. Innovation depends on creative individuals borrowing other people’s hunches and combining them with fresh perspectives to create something new. In a world desperate for innovations and creative solutions, there is no room for copyright laws that directly stifle creativity and contribute to inefficiency.
Duncan Trussell’s rich comedic tirades invite us all to explore the philosophic absurdity that lies beyond everything we take for granted as real. Merging the infinite wonder of the psychedelic experience with the timeless wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism, Duncan applies these tools and teachings to the here and now of a world gone crazy. As everything we see “out there” continues to transform at greater speed and our lives become ever-more complex, Duncan reminds us to tend to the part of the garden we can actually touch. Such ancient wisdom espoused by a modernist comedic magician encourages us of the need to increasingly seek out the Kingdom of Heaven that lies within, and to ask ourselves, “Who am I?” “What is the circumference of my identity?” And, “To gain the moral high ground, must we also forfeit the strategic high ground?” No one said navigating the multiverse would be easy, but perspectives like Trussell’s remind us how to relax and keep our focus trained in the right places.
Investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen has authored six books addressing a military-industrial complex gone berzerk and desperate to cover up its actions. But her book on Area 51 seems to have made the biggest splash, expressing a very different and far more disturbing story of the infamous Top Secret base. The consensus history regarding the 1947 crash in Roswell, NM indicates an extraterrestrial mishap seized and covered up by government agents who stashed all the evidence in the Nevada desert. But Jacobsen’s investigation leads into a far darker territory, demonstrating how far government beauracracies are willing to go to preserve their surpremacy in military and intelligence operations. The overall thrust of her work encourages us all to sharpen our own media literacy and learn how to better read between the lines of disinformation and doublespeak.
21 year-old Matty Roberts didn’t think his “Storm Area 51” facebook page would result in a visit from the FBI, but 2 million online RSVP’s prompted an emergency response from authorities. Though the organizers of Alienstock announced the cancellation of the festival, curiosity regarding Deep Underground Military Bases (DUMBs) continues to grow. Well-known installations like Area 51 are only the tip of a monumental iceberg. At least 129 DUMBs occupy the United States, constituting a subterranean empire that costs trillions of dollars per year, reaches miles below the earth’s surface, and employs an army of contractors, soldiers and intelligence personnel. What is taking place at these bases that is so secretive it must be kept underground? Researcher Richard Dolan describes the level of technological inequality enjoyed by the military-industrial-complex as a “runaway civilization” so far ahead of known industrialized capabilities as to be unrecognizable by most American citizens today.