As if they are men and not just souls on crutches of bone

It was a parallel reality, an insanely beautiful freedom. It still is

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By the end of next year the United States will have spent $6.4 trillion on all of the post-9/11 wars around the world. That number comes from a new study out of Brown University a school that has a pretty good falafel place nearby I used to go to on Thayer St. down there in Providence not sure if it’s still there though. $1 trillion of that is for care for the veterans of the wars. You break it you buy it I guess is the thinking there.

The cost is likely to go up even if we were to stop all of the war-doing in eighty fucking countries we’re doing it in currently they say and did you even know we were doing war in eighty countries? Could you name eighty countries off the dome? Fuckin… Spain, uh…

“Even if the United States withdraws completely from the major war zones by the end of FY2020 and halts its other Global War on Terror operations, in the Philippines and Africa for example, the total budgetary burden of the post-9/11 wars will continue to rise as the U.S. pays the on-going costs of veterans’ care and for interest on borrowing to pay for the wars.”

In any case we’re not in any danger of stopping our war-doing any time soon so the point is moot.

Whatever happened to Spain by the way you don’t hear too much about that one country Spain nowadays.

“801,000 people have died as a direct result of fighting,” CNBC notes in their piece on the study. “Of those, more than 335,000 have been civilians. Another 21 million people have been displaced due to violence.”

Sometimes when you talk about Medicare For All or eliminating student loan debt someone will get a real sober and concerned look on their face like you just told them you’re planning on going to grad school to study literature or to play the trumpet or something and they’ll go like How are you going to pay for it though? and my answer to that is fuck you.

Not sure if this is related but did you know Amazon paid $0 in federal taxes last year? Amazon “nearly doubled its profits to $11.2 billion in 2018 from $5.6 billion the previous year and, once again, didn’t pay a single cent of federal income taxes,” the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported in February.

I used to bring everyone to that falafel place man like if we were passing through on the way from Boston down to New York for a show or something or more often shortly after college when I would drive down and stop and pick up my buddy who lived in Providence and we’d go to Foxwoods in Connecticut to gamble away our shitty little week’s earnings and I’d think it was the coolest thing in the world to be at a casino but more likely what I was experiencing was just how it’s cool to be anywhere when you’re twenty three. The old ladies in wheel chairs and oxygen tanks would pull the levers on the slot machines and the grumpy Asian tourists would sit silently at the tables cursing their luck and I’d lose my $75 or whatever and be like ah well that sucks but I still have my whole life in front of me at least I have that to look forward to and then twenty years went by and next thing I’m at the doctor this week asking her if my dick and balls work any good or not and if she’d mind putting some of my cum under a microscope or whatever it is they do.

I don’t go to casinos anymore really the last time I went to Foxwoods was the day my father died which I wrote about in here before:

The resort was an appropriately absurd place to be, given the circumstances: the oppressive, relentless din of the slot machines, the haggard demeanor of the assorted walking dead that populate most casinos, the artificial feel of every detail, down to the light quality and the elevated oxygen levels. If a casino is a place where the living go to deaden themselves with indulgence, what better place for the living to figure how to feel about the dead?

I went to the new supposedly luxurious casino in Boston a couple months back and wrote about it in here in case you missed it.

I was still sort of surprised at how little being inside the casino was making my brain maggots wriggle yesterday though. That was partly because most of the table games had a $50 minimum which is insanely high. I eventually found a $25 blackjack table and sat down for about twenty minutes but I just couldn’t feel anything about it it was like trying to jack serotonin out of a soft dick and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get anything to come out so I stopped.

There are two types of anxiety when it comes to drug addicts there is the anxiety of waiting for the drugs to arrive and there is the anxiety of realizing that the drugs are about to run out. Sometimes in between there is the high of being on the drugs but that is fleeting. Anyway that’s what people inside a casino look like. They’re waiting for something to come and watching it run out.

I don’t have anything particularly novel or revelatory to say about this place it’s just a casino buddy and it’s got all the shit that casinos have.

Here’s something I just read via Task & Purpose:

An arm of the Veterans Affairs Department in Atlanta eliminated 208,272 applications from across the country for health care early this year amid efforts to shrink a massive backlog of requests, saying they were missing signatures or information about military service and income, according to records reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Veterans groups say the VA should have done more to communicate with the veterans before closing their applications, some of which date back to 1998. Troops face additional challenges in applying for VA health care, they said, as they grapple with reentry into civilian life, change addresses following overseas deployments and suffer from combat stress.

Here’s something else I just read over there:

Claretha Singleton, widow of an Army veteran who died of lung cancer years after exposure to Agent Orange, filled her prescriptions at the Naval Hospital Beaufort for 12 years. Last November, the hospital told her that not only was she not eligible to get her medicine there, but she owed money for all the drugs she'd obtained there previously.

The bill, due in one month: $10,630.

Elsewhere I just saw that Congressman Ron Wright of Texas is introducing something called the K-9 Hero Act that would provide for better health care and retirement benefits for troops that are also dogs.

“During the successful special forces mission that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, we witnessed firsthand what an asset our federal working dogs can be,” said Congressman Wright.

“Once these heroes retire from service, the medical treatment they need is often significant enough to create a financial hardship for the individuals who care for them. It is unacceptable for these heroes to be euthanized or to go without necessary medical treatment during their retirement. I am proud to introduce a bill that will give K-9's, such as the dog who helped take down Al-Baghdadi, a better retirement.”

“This bill helps ensure these heroes are well taken care of during retirement and that their need for medical care never prevents them from finding a loving forever home,” the Corsicana Daily Sun writes.

Sometimes I’ll post poems in here and then sometimes one of you nice people will write to me and say that poem was good have you read this other good poem and I will either go yes I have or no I haven’t and then I’ll say thank you. One of you sent me this recently and I had never heard of it and I am glad I have now.

“Poet Ilya Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union city of Odessa,” The Poetry Foundation writes. “He lost most of his hearing at the age of four after a doctor misdiagnosed mumps as a cold, and his family was granted political asylum by the United States in 1993, settling in Rochester, New York” and that all sounds pretty sad and dreary especially the part about living in Rochester.

“After his father’s death in 1994, Kaminsky began to write poems in English. He explained in an interview with the Adirondack Review, ‘I chose English because no one in my family or friends knew it—no one I spoke to could read what I wrote. I myself did not know the language. It was a parallel reality, an insanely beautiful freedom. It still is.’”

Here’s a very cool story you love to see over and over again:

I wrote about this bait and switch scam the government is running in a Hell World earlier this year which you can read here.

That piece was about a class action suit being brought against Navient by eleven members of the American Federation of Teachers. Each of the plaintiffs are Navient borrowers who detail all the specific ways in which the company fucked with them or mislead them which you can read about more in brief here. The suit in particular revolves around the issue of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program which is something they allege Navient very much does not want its borrowers to be aware of or avail themselves of.

This is weird because it’s something of a happy ending but human rights activist Scott Warren has been found not guilty. I wrote about his case in this paid-only Hell World from a while back. Warren had been on trial for the radical and ostensibly illegal act of helping migrants not die along the border in Arizona. He was facing up to twenty years for “two counts of harboring undocumented immigrants and one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor them.”

“In Ajo, my community has provided food and water to those traveling through the desert for decades — for generations,” Warren wrote a while back of his legal trouble. “Whatever happens with my trial, the next day, someone will walk in from the desert and knock on someone’s door, and the person who answers will respond to the needs of that traveler. If they are thirsty, we will offer them water; we will not ask for documents beforehand. The government should not make that a crime.”

They are doing that though and look at how proud of himself this guy is.

"‘I love you all,’ Warren told his defense team and members of his group No More Deaths (NMD), which leaves water in the desert for migrants,” the New York Times reported. “To those in the desert working on water drops and other aid, I love you too.”

No More Deaths posted that footage of border agents destroying water left in the desert so people wouldn’t die and Warren’s lawyer believes his arrest was retaliation for that.

Prosecutors accused Warren of shielding the men from the U.S. Border Patrol and giving them directions while they stayed at the ramshackle wooden building known as "The Barn" Jan. 14-17, 2018.

Border Patrol agents had The Barn under surveillance and said that Warren at one point walked outside with the two men and gestured to the north to show them where to go.

"We're disappointed in the verdict and we have a lot of work to do to keep prosecuting immigration cases," said Michael Bailey, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.

The reason why the verdict is not entirely good news is that last quote from Bailey but also the fact that Warren had to even go through all this in the first place.

“We like to think that an acquittal in a case like this automatically means justice was done,” Josie Duffy of the Appeal posted yesterday.

“And, in the sense that we measure justice by the final sentence, that is reasonably true. But it also ignores much of the way this system impacts people mired in it. The acquittal comes almost two years after Warren was arrested. In those two years, the outcome of this case has been looming over him. It's taken his time, his money, not to mention much of his anonymity. The idea that an acquittal means Warren escaped paying the price for this charge is not true. He's paid an enormous cost already, resources he will never get back, and his prosecution has surely made other humanitarian aid workers concerned about the risk, too.”

Here’s another one from Kaminsky which may or may not be related to all of that.

Search Patrols

I cover the eyes of Gena, 7, and Anushka, 2,
as their father drops his trousers to be searched, and his flesh shakes,

and around him:
silence’s gross belly flaps. The crowd watches.

The children watch us watch:
soldiers drag the naked man up the staircase. I teach his children’s hands to make of anguish

a language —
see how deafness nails us into our bodies. Anushka

speaks to homeless dogs as if they are men,
speaks to men

as if they are men
and not just souls on crutches of bone.

watch children but feel under the bare feet of their thoughts

the cold stone of the city.

Sometimes we say that landlords are cops figuratively speaking but sometimes it is literally true like in the case of Eric Chin who was at one time the highest paid state trooper in Massachusetts and has now spent around $3 million scooping up investment properties in the city of Brockton.

The Brockton Enterprise reports:

Chin, alongside nearly 50 other state troopers, was soon implicated in a federal investigation that uncovered a pattern of illegal behavior where officers collected overtime pay for traffic enforcement shifts in 2016 they did not complete or, in some cases, even show up for.

Chin earned about $302,400 as a state police officer that year, including approximately $131,653 in overtime pay. He pleaded guilty to receiving about $7,125 of that sum for overtime shifts he either didn’t work or didn’t complete — a sum he was ordered by the court to repay. Federal prosecutors said the theft figures, which reached as high as $51,000 for another convicted trooper, are conservative calculations that apply only to overtime fraud that occurred in 2016.

Chin has evicted at least sixteen of his tenants since 2016.

Hed Ehrlich who is a housing attorney at the Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts and has represented Chin’s former tenants in court said that number of evictions is probably low.

“Evictions in court are the tip of the iceberg,” Ehrlich told the Enterprise. “What we see is only a fraction of actual displacements. Most tenants move out once they get a notice of rent increase or a notice to quit. Only the most desperate — and often most vulnerable — tenants stay in their apartments and wait to be taken to court.”

Casinos though. I was thinking about casinos earlier and again just now because I watched a road trip gambling movie called Mississippi Grind with Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn and I can’t spell Mississippi without spelling it out in my head with the little song I learned as a kid and the movie is extremely Certified Luke Shit I am such a gullible mark for this type of movie and those two actors in particular where it’s like a thirty something cool scumbag and a forty something miserable scumbag and you’re supposed to see how the younger one is so confident and moves through life so easily and think I want to be like that and the older one is beaten down and defeated and you think I don’t want to end up like that but in the end they’re both miserable and either on the way to ruining their own lives or have done so already and wishing they had a chance to do it all over again.

Just now it occurred to me what an absurd privilege it is to be able to ruin your own life which is something I have been thinking about this week because of some personal shit with a friend that I am not sure I want to write about in here and also my own general path of self destruction. Ruin your own life? What a concept! To be able to do that. To have not already had it done for you by someone or something else. To have lived a life without being crushed to death by systemic machinations that are outside of your control and instead have to conspire in your own demise. What a joy. What luxury. It’s a parallel reality. An insanely beautiful freedom. It still is. Man those falafels were pretty good though.