Saturday, September 22, 2018

God Save Texas from Ted Cruz (by voting for Beto O'Rourke)

      I just finished watching an online television debate between Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz.  Both are running for a Senate seat in Texas.  During the debate, Ted went out of his way to scare Texans by hitting every single possible "dog whistle" note of fear, false patriotism, racism, sky-high taxes, socialism and the right to brandish automatic weapons that he possibly could.  Ted even lied outright -- but in a friendly down-home good-ole-boy sort of way that Texans, I'm afraid, just might eat right up.

     Beto O'Rourke, however, did not back down.  Like Davey Crockett at the Alamo, O'Rourke stood up for his pro-human principles and refused to say anything phony just to get elected. 

     During the debate, Ted tried mightily to defend tax cuts for the rich, defend Donald Trump and defend America's current miserable war-mongering quagmire status quo -- while also trying to associate Beto with wetbacks, cop-killers, George Soros and Hillary Clinton.  Oh crap.  Who won that debate?  Hard to say.  O'Rourke gave a really passionate wind-up speech but I'm still worried.  Who the freak wants to see Ted Cruz's hypocritical and insincere mug on TV for another six years?  Or possibly in the White House in 2020?  Please, Texas!  Wake up!  Vote for Beto.

     "Cruz voted for a massive giveaway to corporate interests.  He's not working for the people of Texas," said O'Rourke.

     "Socialized medicine is a mistake that would hurt Texas," said Cruz.  Ted even accused Beto of liking Bernie Sanders!  Heaven forbid.  "He's advocating socialism and for putting every illegal in America on MediCare!"  Huh?

     Beto then countered with the sorry fact that America is now twenty-one trillion dollars in debt on Cruz's watch -- whereas Beto, when he was on the El Paso city council, balanced El Paso's budget.  Touché. 

     How can America have the chutzpah to call itself a Superpower -- when it has practically self-sanctioned itself to death with massive debt burdens, let its infrastructure crumple and allowed its citizens to go hungry in order to fight endless, immoral and stupid "wars" to just to keep Halliburtin, Blackwater, Exxon and Lockheed happy?

      IMHO, Texans would get a lot more soul-satisfying jobs fixing the state's infrastructure and going solar than slaving away in the immoral "war" industry and bringing on climate catastrophe while making oil billionaires even richer.  Humph.

     In order to help Texans See the Light, I'm  actually going down to El Paso in November (with a side-trip to Juarez of course) -- to knock on doors during the week before the 2018 elections and get down on my knees and beg voters to vote for Beto because not only is Texas's future at stake here.  America's future is too.  To quote Lyle Lovett, I may not be from Texas but "Texas wants [me] anyway."  Time to dust off my cowboy boots.

     And you too can help also -- by donating to Beto's campaign fund.  Please!  Do it for me!  Don't make me have to see Ted Cruz on TV ever again!  Or the face of that war-mongering swamp-loving guy in the White House either.

PS:  If you want to know more about Texas, the second-biggest state in America, then please read Lawrence Wright's excellent book "God Save Texas" -- and, God, while you're busy saving Texas, please save Texas from Ted Cruz too.

PPS:  Bret Kavanaugh has been accused of attempting to rape a 15-year-old girl back when he was a teenager.  That's not the whole story as far as I'm concerned.  Kavanaugh performed an act of misogamy back then -- and he continues to perform acts of judicial misogamy to this day.  Do we women really want or need yet another misogamist on the Supreme Court?  

        And what about Ted Cruz?  How many misogynistic laws has he voted for?  Shite, the guy even came out in favor of hitting five-year-old girls!  The women of Texas are strong descendants of strong pioneer stock (and I am about to become one!)  It's time that we took a stronger stand against machismo drugstore cowboys like Cruz.  Vote for Beto O'Rourke.


Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Leonard Peltier vs. J. Edgar Hoover:  Still haunted by the ghost of COINTELPRO

     You should see my fabulous new "Free Leonard Peltier" T-shirt!  It's the best souvenir of Florida that I could possibly find.  Long story.

     Leonard's tragic saga first began back in 1924 -- when that un-American rat-fink J. Edgar Hoover became the first director of the FBI and began turning his new-found powers to the Dark Side.  Even now, even 46 years after J. Edgar's death, we are still discovering more and more info regarding all the dirty tricks Hoover played on America's working class, justice-seekers, intellectuals and people of color.  Trust me, this guy was bad news -- the proud father of the FBI's duplicitous, divisive, perfidious, sneaky, unjust and subversive reputation, one that the FBI still struggles with to this day.

     By the 1960s and '70s, Hoover and his infamous COINTELPRO goon squad consistently declared war on Blacks, immigrants, Native Americans, Vietnam protesters, gays, unions, rock 'n' roll and basically just about anyone who wasn't either a Stepford Wife or a body snatcher.  I was there.  It really was that bad.

     Several people, however, did stand up against J. Edgar and his minions back then -- even though it was both dangerous and hard.  Martin Luther King, JFK and Bobby Kennedy, to name a few.  And also Mumia abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier.

     Back in 1975, the FBI had illegally invaded the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, on Lakota land.  Back then, even though Hoover had finally died, his poisonous and hateful policies still lingered on.  Back in 1975, it was like playing cowboys and Indians on the rez -- only the Indians weren't allowed to fight back.  Those who did try to defend themselves and their families soon found themselves to be dead.  An estimated 300 Native Americans died that way.

     But then Leonard Peltier and other A.I.M. organizers began to rally the Lakota for a protest at Wounded Knee in 1973 -- at the cost of making themselves visible to the FBI.  So when two gun-toting hot-shot FBI cowboy-wannabes (who should never have been on the reservation in the first place) turned up dead at Pine Ridge, the finger of blame pointed to Leonard.  A scapegoat was needed and a scapegoat was found.

     But don't take my word for it.  Get the full story of the FBI's brutality, lies and betrayals yourself, as meticulously documented by author Peter Matthiessen in his well-researched book, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.

     And 44 years later, Leonard Peltier is still stuck in jail for a crime he didn't commit -- and people are still wearing their "Free Leonard" T-shirts.

     Peltier is now 76 years old.  He is incarcerated in a high-security federal prison in Coleman, Florida, just outside of Tampa.

     At the book convention I attended in St. Petersburg/Tampa area recently, I asked author Tim Dorsey if he had named his infamous fictional character after the notorious Coleman prison.  "No," Dorsey said.  Oh.

     Leonard, fortunately, is now incarcerated in the elderly unit at Coleman and no longer has to worry (much) about getting beat up by gangs (again).  He teaches art to the convicts and also paints stirring portraits of "traditional" Pine Ridge Native Americans in his spare time.
     Leonard's health is failing.  He is not now a danger to himself or society -- and he never was.  Isn't it time that our government finally frees Leonard Peltier from the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover?  Peltier is one of the last of the heroes who stood up to Hoover's COINTELPRO gang of lame-asses, putting Leonard in the same class as MLK and JFK.  We should be giving Peltier a homecoming parade instead of keeping him locked up in some dungeon for the rest of his life for a crime that he didn't commit. 

PS:  Wanna buy your very own ultra-chic "Free Leonard" T-shirt just like mine?  You don't have to visit Tampa like I did.  You can just order it online.

PPS:  I forgot to mention about those four brave Freedom Riders who left Mankato MN on horseback 55 days ago, and have ridden their horses all the way to Florida to go see Leonard at Coleman prison.  On horseback!  They are almost there.  What a heroic trek!  Say hello to Leonard for me when you get there, okay?

PPPS:  Don't let the ghost of J. Edgar go on laughing at Leonard from inside his special-agent crypt in Hell.  Instead, write to President Trump (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC 20500) and ask him to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier (who is much more deserving of clemency than Paul Manafort, BTW).  And Trump just might do it too -- considering what Trump himself currently thinks (and tweets) about the FBI!


Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Hail from the thieves: I.C.E freezes our money in Florida

     Good grief!  For decades now, America has been the unwitting victim of various sleazy government contractors who shamelessly pick our pockets for all the valuables they can find there -- using the time-honored ruse of distracting our attention with fears of "war" while they move in for the snatch.  It's like the Artful Dodger or even Fagan himself has seized control of America's treasury.

     Since 9-11, these shady pickpockets have upped their game to the point where it's not even safe for Americans to carry a wallet on the subway any more.  Since 9-11, we have been so royally fleeced by these so-called "war" contractors that you would think there was nothing even left to steal.  But no.  Apparently there is still a bit more moolah left to lift.  Now these sleazy moochers have discovered an even newer and better way to slip their sneaky hands back into our pockets again.

     Now ICE has come up with yet another evil scheme to snatch our purses and run -- whatever little is left in them, that is.  "Stop!  Thief!"  When our current climate catastrophe hit the eastern seaboard recently, it was soon discovered that ICE's sticky fingers have stolen millions of dollars of our FEMA money and then used it to kidnap children instead of helping out disaster victims in North Carolina.  Has ICE become the new Fagan?  And has ICE, like Fagan, started running a new school for pickpockets too?  It certainly looks that way, right?

       We Americans appear to be the ultimate gullible marks, stuck on a crowded bus to nowhere while "war" profiteers and ICE profiteers easily dip into our pockets and steal our wallets -- and with absolutely no fear of ever getting caught.

    ICE contractors are now getting paid $750 per day per child for every single child that they can kidnap at the border.  Hell, the kiddies could be staying in a five-star hotel for that price!

      According to a recent article in The Guardian, what we are getting for our $750 a day is definitely not The Ritz.  "All day and night they listened to the wailing of hungry children.  Here, in a freezing immigration detention facility somewhere in the Rio Grande valley of south Texas, adults and children alike were fainting from dehydration and lack of food.  Sleep was almost impossible; the lights were left on, they had just a thin metallic sheet to protect against the cold and there was nothing to lie down on but the hard floor."  

     Would you pay $750 a night for this ICE version of Oliver Twist's orphanage?  Ask your captors for "more, sir"?  Give it a good review on Trip Advisor?  Uh, no.    

     While I was in St. Petersburg last week, I took part in an anti-ICE demonstration against the owner of The Birchwood Inn.  Its owner, Chuck Prather, claimed to be just a small businessman in a sweet Florida tourist town -- and yet apparently he is currently renting out five (5) different buildings in the St. Pete area to ICE.  Five of them.  In a tourist town?  Who the freak needs five (5) ICE buildings in St. Petersburg?  It makes you stop and wonder, doesn't it.  There goes our money.  Sticky fingers again.

     Also at the anti-ICE demonstration, I learned about even more Dickensian behavior taking place at the US-Mexico border where apparently some Border Patrol officers hunt down and murder asylum-seekers for sport.  The Ghost of Christmas Past is not gonna like that!

     All this rash of pickpocket theft by various government contractors since 9-11 has made me truly stop and wonder just how much money is left in America right now for the rest of us.  "What's in your wallet?"  Probably not much.

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Guilty pleasure: How I actually liked visiting Flora-duh

     After hearing so much of this state's bad press over the years regarding Jeb Bush, Rick Scott, Florida's hellish foster-care system, the violent Trump rallies, the brutal murder of Trayvon Martin, the climate catastrophe and all the other horror tales about Flora-duh, I was totally dreading my trip to St. Petersburg -- but still had to go there.  Had an important book conference to attend at the historic Vinoy Hotel.

     But guess what?  I actually liked St. Petersburg.  Everything there was so green and balmy and lush.  They had great public transportation.  The Cuban hot-pressed sandwiches were almost biblically delicious.  I totally went off my health-food diet and ate Key Lime pie in an actual diner.  I walked around in the swamps, er, wetlands.  I got caught in the tail-end of Tropical Storm Gordon (not Gordon Ramsey, BTW, but it was definitely a bit like being in Hell's kitchen).  I visited two excellent libraries.  I stayed in a trailer.  I had a fabulous time and came home with an actual suntan and 40 pounds of free books!

     I also talked with a social worker there who said that, yes, there was a problem with the foster-care system.  "Some retirees supplement their income by taking in foster kids, receiving $500 a month from the state, feeding their wards on rice and beans and then pocketing the rest.  And some of the charter schools here are atrocious too."  Okay.  So those rumors are true.

      But geez Louise.  The beaches, the balmy night air around midnight, the kindness of strangers and the fact that everywhere you look you see tropically green plants smiling back at you.  Just imagine what this place looked like before 1492!

PS:  Another big reason that I had such a great time in Flora-duh is that I had just finished reading a rather scary article in Dissident Voice about how it is totally possible that the human race may become extinct as soon as 2026 -- and that's only eight years from now!  So I'd better start trying to "live fast, die young"?  Too late for that!  But at least I will die knowing that I'd been to almost-paradise.

      According to this article, "There is a group of courageous and prominent climate scientists who offer compelling climate science evidence that human beings, along with millions of other species, will be extinct by 2026 (and perhaps as early as 2021) in response to a projected 10 degree celsius increase in global temperatures above the pre-industrial level by that date."


PPS:  And also please be aware that the major Number One cause of climate catastrophe today is "war".  America's war profiteers may not be dropping bombs on our own neighborhoods like they do on Syrian, Yemeni, Afghan and Palestinian neighborhoods -- but nevertheless War Street is also murdering us too (only more slowly and with fewer Technicolor special effects).

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Happiness vs. greed: "Money won't change you but..."

     Good grief, there certainly seems to be a whole lot of important Tibetan Buddhist lamas coming to visit NorCal these days.  Perhaps they are here to show their compassion for us after all these horrible wildfires.  In any case, Tenzin Lungtok, the seventh Ling Rinpoche, just gave a talk to the U.C. Berkeley community on the importance of happiness and compassion -- and here's my full report on the event (including my excellent commentary of course).  Sorry that it's so long but Ling Rinpoche had a lot of important stuff to say.

     BTW, the seventh Ling Rinpoche is a direct reincarnation of the Dalai Lama's senior tutor who died in 1983 -- so this Ling Rinpoche is rather young, only 33 years old.

      The very first thing he talked about was Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Shocker!  "They live in conditions that are very poor, very wretched over there."  Yeah, they do -- thanks to the USA, which caused all that misery in the first place.  And even now, American war profiteers seem to be desperate to start even more new "wars" and to also keep the same old tired ones going.

     "And in the United States itself there is no war," Ling Rinpoche continued, "but there are many problems in the mind here, even among the wealthy."  Especially among the wealthy.  Some of those guys are bat-dookie cray-cray!

     "Is all this happening because of karma, and is thus unavoidable?"  Apparently not.  "In fact there are things we can do to change all this for the better -- we can become patient, tolerant and satisfied with what we have.  But here in America there is the problem of greed."  No shite, Sherlock.

     "Attitudes like greed create problems, and because of these problems we simply don't have minds that are capable of contentment."  Apparently kindness is the key to contentment.  "And if we can't find what we want by kindness, we may turn to lies and violence -- and also to trying to keep others from getting what they want as well, in order to feel more superior to them."  Rinpoche may be on to something here.  That does seem to be America's main attitude right now.  Our neighbors are homeless and dying of hunger?  Hurray!  Now we're better than them.

     "And because of greed, then we lie, we steal, we kill."  This is starting to sound very familiar as well.  What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine too -- that seems to be Washington's main approach to governance in the last five decades.  Or is it six?  Or seven?  I myself have devoted my life to protecting justice against greed.  Greed is the main predator on justice?  Why am I not surprised.

     Then Rinpoche goes on to say that this all-about-me attitude basically sucks eggs.  "It is a narrow way of thinking."  For sure.  No future there.

     "Fighting and arguing with others is a major part of this type of thinking.  Naturally we all want happiness -- there's nothing wrong with that.  But we don't know what we need to do to be happy."  Yeah, well.  Americans could begin by not financing the slaughter of babies in Syria, Gaza and Yemen.  That would be a good start.

     "We need to make our minds more open and expansive."  Snap!  "Not just thinking about ourselves.  We need to be more concerned with the world in general."  This is good stuff.  But then, oops, my pen ran out of ink.  New pen please!  Hope I am getting this all down correctly.

     "If our attitude is more open and expansive, we can stop problems and achieve far-reaching goals."  World peace would be a good goal, right?  This is where you are spozed to nod your head up and down, America.  But apparently not.

     "If you have an expansive attitude, things go better."  Narrow thinking?  Not good.  "The results are always problems."  Just look at the swamp that America has created in Afghanistan -- and Flint.

     "A lack of contentment and blaming others is a large cause of our problems."  The immigrants did it!  The Russians did it!  Not.  "If we learn to take responsibility for our own blame, problems can be solved.  Otherwise our minds become distracted away from seeing what is actually good -- distracted by greed and desire."

     Then he talked about work.  "People here do it for salaries, housing, cars, etc.  They don't even think about if they are actually enjoying their work."  How many Americans are stuck in yucky boring dead-end jobs?  But I myself have a job that I like right now -- I'm working on becoming a better person.  And also trying to be more patient with jerks.

     "Morality is good," he continued.  "Morality, concentration and wisdom."  Hmmm.  Perhaps it is time for Americans to start choosing their leaders because they are wise.  Nah.  Never happen.  But maybe it could....

     "Technological development is not enough to enjoy a good life.  Look at all the people in more developed countries who are not happy." And also look at all those happy people in that technological desert Bhutan for instance, far happier than us.  "Of course technology does help -- but in a limited way.  To obtain far-reaching advances, we really need to develop the qualities of the mind."  Xfinity and Apple won't make us happy.  Not really.  Let's place our bets on kindness instead. 

     "For example the kindness of our parents, our teachers and our friends have done more for us than technology."  We would never have even reached adulthood without their kindness.  That type of kindness is even more better than gold-plated toilets and really fast cars.  "Loving kindness is priceless."  And it's harder to come by as well.

    "There is too much violence, crime and war in the world.  Whether you accept religion or not, loving kindness and compassion are important.  Affection for others.  With these tools, all the problems in our world could be solved.  And we could all receive real, genuine happiness.  No more problems in the world."  Boom.  Done and dusted.  Works for me.

     "If you see something, if you see an injustice, do something.  Of course we should protest if someone does something wrong -- but not hate them.  And we should feel even more compassion for people who lack kindness."  Because they are losers, duh!

     "And if you have made mistakes in your life before?  Then take that occasion to learn from them.  And treat others as you would treat yourself."  Unlike what Christian hypocrites in Washington do today.  "And be kind to yourself as well -- but avoid self-cherishing because that only leads to anger."  Bottom line?  "We depend on all others for our happiness."

     Then someone asked about what to do when comparing oneself unfavorably to all those beautiful people on TV?  "Then just turn off the TV," he said with a smile.

    And during the Q&A that followed, I too couldn't resist standing up.  "I always make all my decisions based on whether or not what I was planning to do might benefit the most sentient beings.  So thank you for coming here today because hearing your talk definitely benefited more sentient beings than if I had just sat home and watched TV."  He smiled at this too.  "But my question is, what do you see happening in the future -- say five or ten years from now?"

    Ling Rinpoche answered that he was not a soothsayer or fortune teller but that the way to a better future is, "Don't be attached to the results.  Just do what you can, try to keep benefiting all  -- and then act!"

      I was so impressed with this young guy who speaks like a wise old man that I grabbed up one of those traditional white offering scarves that you are supposed to give to lamas and ran after him to the elevator like some desperate Beatles fan from the '60s.  "Wait!  Wait!" I cried.  But the elevator closed in my face -- but then me and my friend went off to buy tacos on Telegraph Avenue and got all greedy for guacamole.

PS:  We also ran into a Palestinian friend of mine on the Avenue who told us that Israeli colonialists were now offering money to Palestinian Israelis in Jerusalem if they would move off to that hell-hole the "settlers" have now created on the West Bank.  Hey, that's way better than just straight-up murdering them, right?  Although I do gotta admit that Palestinian Israelis living in the West Bank are a hecka lot vulnerable to getting murdered.  Money won't change that fact either.  James Brown nailed it.

     Perhaps Israeli colonialists are doing all this killing because they are not very happy?  Too greedy?  Perhaps they should switch to loving kindness instead!


Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Cold-hearted I.C.E gets its freak-out on (again)

     There I was, sitting in an immigration-hearing courtroom on Sansome Street -- with my jaw dropped in shock.  I'd arrived at the courtroom late, having been summarily distracted by the beauty of the San Francisco waterfront on my way over.  The immigrant's attorney had stood up to plead the immigrant's case.  But where the freak was the immigrant himself?

     "I'm sorry," said the judge.  "Your client has just been shipped off to the I.C.E. processing center in Aurora, Colorado.  He will not be here today."  Yikes!  I just got back from there.  The place is a dump.

     "Nobody informed me of that," replied the surprised attorney.  His jaw probably dropped too.  The immigrant's wife burst into tears.  She was seven months pregnant, a high-risk pregnancy at that. 

     "I object to this sudden change of venue," said the attorney -- as well he should.  We all did.  The courtroom was packed with the immigrant's supporters.  Who knew that our guy had already been kidnapped without legal warning?  Their jaws all dropped too.

     The judge was sympathetic.  "I am sympathetic," he said.  "I will continue working to bond your client out.  I.C.E. has the authority to bond him out at any time or even to release him altogether -- instead of just holding him in endless detention."  And making us taxpayers pay for it too.  That's just mean. 

      But why should I.C.E. do something low-life like that anyway?  Apparently I.C.E. has been ordered from the top down to turn American immigrants' lives into Living Hell -- by any means that I.C.E. can dream up.  So I.C.E is just obeying orders.  And I.C.E. has really gotten its freak on behind it too.    
     So much for "Give me your tired, your poor...whatever."  Apparently America no longer needs anyone else to come here with "a yearning to breathe free".  And, based upon their illegal actions since even before all those Gulf of Tonkin lies and "fixing the intelligence" in Iraq, the American military-industrial complex no longer seems to need any of us who are already here to breathe free either.  We are all being screwed.


Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.

Monday, August 20, 2018

I want to live in a world where innocence is valued...

     Frankly, it is clear as day to anyone with eyes to see that we currently live in an ugly monstrous world, one where greed, pollution, corruption, lies and cold hard murderous steel have become our top priories and most precious values.  Must it always be this way?  Will we ever live in a world like the Garden of Eden again? 

     Did we ever live there in the first place? 


     And to clearly see what our lost world of innocence looks like, we don't have to travel back to 18th-centruy Tahiti or to the ancient Black Hills of the Lakota before Custer -- nothing like that.  All we have to do is look at that happy smile on the face of the nearest well-loved toddler as she looks at our world with new, bright, shining, trusting eyes.  We've all been like that once.  We can all be like that again.

     There is no reason on earth that the human race is required by law to devote all of its savings, material goods, slick justifications, hopes, desires and dreams to military hardware, prisons, land-grabs, power plays, earth pollution and being just plain all-out mean -- when other alternatives clearly exist.

    Think about it.  Why must we freaking die in order to finally go live in an idealized heaven instead of what we are currently doing -- endlessly prolonging this power-mad grubby dishonorable war-mongering treacherous murderous Hell that we now call modern life?  Why indeed -- when there is clearly a precious lovely beautiful meaningful alternative.

      We've lost our way.  Is it too late to find it again?  Good grief, I surely hope not.

PS:  Where to begin to change our world for the better?  Let's start with the American military's excellent example.  "Thank you for your service."  Literally.  Our military has it right -- socialism for all!  Free housing, free food, free medical care, early retirement, great pensions, free job training and free education.  "Be the best you can be!"

     Sure, you get shot at occasionally and are occasionally ordered to slaughter a bunch of innocent women and children for fun and profit -- but in the meantime?  Socialism at its finest hour (with the exception of corporate welfare, of course -- no one does socialism better than American corporations!)


Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

There's no future in it: Why hatred is a big waste of time
       I used to love to travel the world.  The whole world was my oyster.  I used to be a fabulous war correspondent who happily went off to dangerous military hot-spots like Afghanistan, Honduras, North Korea, Syria and Iraq.  And then my 401K money ran out and that was that.  It takes a lot of $$$$ to be an overseas war correspondent (unless of course one is willing to lie and in that case you can get hired on the spot by the New York Times).

     So then I started justifying why I could only afford to travel around the USA by telling myself that I was heroically exploring the "Belly of the Beast" itself, the American colonialist beast that had actually brought us all these terrible "wars" in the first place -- everything from that terrible massacre in the Philippines in 1901 up to and including those murderous flowers of death in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Juarez, Honduras, Palestine and Libya right now.

     But I soon ran out of the money to be able to do even that and couldn't even afford to travel to Vegas -- let alone Boston or Honolulu.  I really wanted to go to Brownsville for instance, to try to help the heart-broken, sick and possibly-dying babies who have been kidnapped by ICE along the Texas border -- but even that seems just one bank account too far.  Plus I never seem to win the lottery either.

     And then a friend of mine told me about some ancient Native American ceremonies that frequently take place right around here, almost in my own back yard -- and so I began to travel inward instead, with the help of a lot of drum-beating and lack of sleep to all hours.  It was cheaper, closer to home and didn't pollute the air.

     So.  What did I learn on my recent inward journeys?  That if someone's heart and soul is filled up with past hatreds, then there is no more room for any future wonderfulness.

     By dwelling on racism and bias and sectarianism and political schisms and religious feuds and climate-change denial and sexism and "war" and all that other burdensome junk, then Americans have given away, thrown away, ditched, dumped and voluntarily sacrificed their own precious ability to focus on what comes ahead -- and to make it better than what came before.  More sparkle-ly, more productive, more user-friendly, more fun!

PS:  I have just enough frequent-flyer miles left right now to get me to St. Petersburg, Florida, for the annual BoucherCon book conference there, starting on September 5.  And I can also stay in a friend's teardrop trailer -- while gleefully contemplating all those free books being given away at the conference.

     And I also will be crossing the Gandy Avenue causeway to Tampa in order to ask for an interview with Leonard Peltier's legal team.  Yes, Leonard is still being locked up in jail for crimes that he didn't commit -- been locked up for over 40 years now.  But that's American injustice for ya.  Nixon may be dead but CONINTELPRO is still alive and well and rejoicing that Leonard is still trapped in a bleak high-security prison just outside of Tampa.

     And I just checked out Peter Mattiessen's book on Leonard from the Berkeley Public Library -- you know, the book that the FBI spent eight long years in court trying to suppress its publication.  Should be a very interesting read.

     Florida, here I come.

     Reporting from Tampa and St. Petersburg might not be as glamorous as reporting from Yemen or Syria or Gaza but the protagonists are the same in both places -- American colonialists and their sleazy blood-thirsty friends.  Yuck!


Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.