Telluride Free Press by TellurideFreePress
Rational thinking for an irrational community
Nov 21, 2010 | 4010 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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We Deserve Answers - Not Silence
by TellurideFreePress
May 22, 2011 | 2982 views | 5 5 comments | 92 92 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Previous blog posting was deleted by the Watch editor as allowed by TOS. This is a new post reworked to avoid complaints.

There are only two reasons to keep silent on the actions of the Telluride Marshal's Department in regards to the suspicous deaths of Blair Richardson and Harry Force:

1) A Grand Jury is in session.

2) They are hiding the truth.

Within two months of the release of the controversial book on Telluride "Exodus of Angels - The Murder of Harry Force", two of the TMO's "finest" have quit. One announced his retirement and one resigned abruptly  after 18 years.  Both were involved in the situations mentioned in the book.  Still, no questions are being answered. Why?

How hard is it to be honest? 

Requests for help by the friends and  family of Blair and Harry have been ignored. Not even a response. As Kimberley (Blairs mother) asked me, "How would they feel if it was their child (or father in Harry's case)?"  The answer: They just don't care.

We have a right to know the truth. The newspapers have a duty to ask questions. Whether or not Telluride likes it, this controversy will only grow bigger until the Mayor, Chief of Police, Assistant District Attorney, AG John Suthers and Mountain Village police investigator begin to answer the questions that are being asked. So, to all the businesses that have begged me and our Facebook group, Citizens for Justice to not run full page ads in Denver, Pueblo and Durango as were announced on the now deleted blog posting, all I can say is "sorry". Do not blame the grieving families or even me for that matter. The refusal of our elected officials to represent and protect  ALL citizens is the engine that will bring shame to Telluride throughout the state of Colorado.

You would think that at least one of the two newspapers in Telluride would investigate the two deaths and the actions of  our elected officials to hide the truth but hey...this is Telluride. (added note: thankyou Watch for allowing this dialogue).

Read why the resignations may be happening in "Exodus of Angels - The Murder of Harry Force" now available on Amazon or just Google : Murder of Harry Force

Stay in touch -

Video Excerpts Available at -

Introduction and Soundtrack Available at -

A more in depth look into local law enforcement and the circumstances surrounding Blair's death; as well as other "curious" situations involving our local justice system will be available this Autumn in "Exodus of Angels - Feast of Transgressions".


 P.S. It is also available at Between the Covers Book Store in Telluride.


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May 23, 2011
ok, al, I will buy the book and give it a go...

see what the me said...etc.

but, you know, smoking cigarettes gives you lung cancer, hanging out in bars drinking all day and night makes you weak physically, no exercise, the same..

I never met the man Harry Force, have never been to his Obannon's either but any possibility that he finished up all beat up from living a hard life? My dad lived like Harry and he ended up all torn to hell..and no one ever touched him..

Shalom to you, too. Thanks for always posting with such great thought (even if I cant see your point of view).

"Exodus of Angels - The Murder of Harry Force" Collectors Edition Download Now Available on SALE!
by TellurideFreePress
May 18, 2011 | 1924 views | 0 0 comments | 81 81 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

You have heard about it  and wondered.

You have thought about reading it but are afraid of what you might learn.

Do Not Be Afraid. You can now read the most controversial book ever written on Telluride by one of the most controversial residents for only $7.25. No shipping - immediate download from Offer expires 5/25


or visit for softcover. 

Click Here Exodus of Angels Video Channel with excerpts and more.

EOA Web Page with Free Soundtrack



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Cops' Use of Illegal Steroids a 'Big Problem'
by TellurideFreePress
Dec 30, 2010 | 1954 views | 0 0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

TFP Note: It's time to drug test ALL Telluride Town employees; most importantly the members of the Telluride Marshals Department on a regular basis.  Or do we need to wait until "Roid Rage" takes an innocent life?

by A.J. Perez

The badge and a steroid-filled syringe -- it's not the typical image most have for the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs. But as more within law enforcement get nabbed in steroid investigations nationwide, observers say that usage levels among police officers could rival the seediest patches of the pro sports landscape.

"It's a big problem, and from the number of cases, it's something we shouldn't ignore," Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Lawrence Payne told AOL News. "It's not that we set out to target cops, but when we're in the middle of an active investigation into steroids, there have been quite a few cases that have led back to police officers."

The pace of investigations into steroid use in the police ranks has picked up in recent months:

  • A former police officer in Canby, Ore., who allegedly took delivery of some steroids while on duty pleaded guilty in February to purchasing steroids.
  • An officer in South Bend, Ind., pleaded no contest in March to selling steroids.
  • A Cleveland police officer was sentenced to a year in prison and five years of supervised release in April after he was found guilty of illegally purchasing steroids.
  • A dealer in Paw Paw, Mich., allegedly told authorities that he supplied "several police officers" with steroids, which led one Kalamazoo officer to resign in May.

Victor Conte, founder of the now-defunct lab known as Bay Area Lab Co-Operative that supplied numerous athletes with steroids and other banned substances, said it wouldn't surprise him if as many as a quarter of police officers were using some kind of performance-enhancing drug.

Seem high? While there are no empirical studies on the prevalence of steroids in law enforcement, the recent revelations that 248 police officers and firefighters from 53 agencies were tied to a Jersey City, N.J., physician gives some credence to Conte's estimate. The monthslong investigation by The Star-Ledger of Newark also found that taxpayers often footed the bill for the drugs since many were prescribed.

There's debate as to what dangers doped-up officers pose to the public. South Bend police Capt. Phil Trent, for one, would rather not take a chance. Tony Macik, once a well-respected member of the South Bend police force, was arrested for assault years before a steroids investigation led to a 300-day jail sentence earlier this year.

"First we have an officer who is a drug dealer," Trent said. "Second, you always hear about the bizarre side effects (of steroid use). If they are taking these drugs and it turns them into a raving lunatic, that's something we should be concerned about in law enforcement."

Conte said the psychological effects of steroids -- including mood swings and so-called "'roid rage" -- are often overblown and can depend on how much of the drug is used. The same is true for the other side effects such as liver damage, depression and high blood pressure.

"I think overall, it's kind of like alcohol," Conte said. "If you're a jerk when you're sober, you're going to be more of a jerk when you're using."

Joseph Santiago, a former police director in Trenton, N.J., told The Star-Ledger that Trenton had a "significant amount" of excessive force complaints.

"When you looked at these records, you start to see where there might be a correlation," Santiago told the newspaper. "Is it absolutely clear? No. Would a complaint have been there regardless of steroids? Those are issues that need to be addressed."

A lawyer for an 84-year-old Florida man who had his neck broken in September when he was thrown to the ground sought to get the Orlando police officer involved in the incident tested for steroids. The request was denied by the department, which claimed the test would violate the officer's rights.

Testing in law enforcement -- much the way it is in professional sports -- is a touchy subject. Like pro ballplayers, officers are usually protected by unions, and drug testing is often used as a bargaining chip. A majority of departments have random testing for street drugs like cocaine and heroin, but few also test regularly for steroids.

"Obviously, we have zero tolerance for any kind of drug use," said Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, an organization that has about 350,000 members spread across some 2,100 chapters. "But just like anybody else, we believe officers have a right to due process, and we want to safeguard them from any (unnecessary) investigations."

Law enforcement officials also cite the cost of testing for steroids as another reason such screenings aren't universal.

Larry Gaines, chairman of the Department of Criminal Justice at California State San Bernardino, authored the first major paper on steroid use in law enforcement two decades ago. He said the rise in usage in steroids among the ranks coincided with a change of culture as many departments began to stress physical fitness.

Some officers, however, appear to have taken that to an extreme.

"This has become a great competition among officers," Gaines said. "They want to be the biggest, strongest."

Conte said that carries over into regional and national police sports competitions that feature weightlifting, among other activities. "I've known people in those competitions who were using that stuff," Conte said.

Professional athletes get called to testify before Congress, and some like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are indicted after federal investigations. So where's the outcry over juiced officers on the street?

Gaines said that because there are no athletic records to protect, and kids usually don't idolize police officers with posters on their bedroom walls, there's little to keep the subject in the public consciousness.

"I don't know what would have to happen to make this a major issue," Gaines said. "Essentially, this has become commonplace."

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No need for Grand Juries, or investigations.
by TellurideFreePress
Dec 13, 2010 | 1644 views | 0 0 comments | 82 82 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

I have tried to warn Internet users about the new software developed that can harvest billions of tiny bits of information on you and then compile a detailed dossier - all legally.

The Internet knows what Poppy Harlow keeps private


NEW YORK ( -- Two simple pieces of data -- your name and e-mail address -- can unlock a shocking number of details about you, even if you consider yourself to be a very private person who carefully guards your online identity.

Just ask CNNMoney anchor Poppy Harlow. She doesn't have a personal Facebook profile. She doesn't have a LinkedIn account. She is on Twitter, but she typically limits her tweets to links for CNNMoney stories and videos.

Yet starting with only those two bits of information, Poppy's e-mail and name, a privacy researcher's searches across multiple online databases turned up information she found startlingly personal: Her father died of cancer at a young age. She has a half-brother. She's Episcopalian. She's not married. She and her father both went to Columbia University. She rents her apartment. Poppy is a nickname.

Then, there was the more private stuff. Her birthday. Years-old photos with friends. Her shopping habits. And some guesstimates about her salary and her family's financial background -- inaccurate ones, it turned out.

That's a lot of information about someone who values her privacy so much. Imagine what the Internet knows about people who aren't as careful.

ReputationDefender, an online privacy company, compiled the dossier on Poppy at CNNMoney's request to illustrate just how much information is lurking around online -- hidden, but accessible to those motivated to go hunt it down. ReputationDefender does not create or sell these dossiers on people; instead, its business is selling consumers tools to control their online personal data.

But other companies are gathering up those personal details and creating similar dossiers for commercial gain. Called "data miners" or "aggregators," they crawl the Web scooping up tidbits.

Much of what they collect is public information from things like voter registration records and telephone books, but the real treasure trove comes from social networks, which provide photos, interests, activities and a list of your friends. The most advanced aggregators can even tie your Web browsing behavior to your online profile.

One individual source of information may not be all that revealing -- but when you tie multiple sources together, you can paint a pretty detailed picture. Your (AMZN, Fortune 500) wish list, public Facebook profile, Pandora playlists and Picasa albums individually may not say much about you, but your name, shopping habits, list of friends, musical tastes and photographs combined say a lot about who you are.

Companies like Acxiom, Rapleaf, Spokeo, Intelius, Merlin Information Services and PeopleFinders have built businesses around compiling and selling that information. Rapleaf and Klout even score your ability to influence others on the Web. (Poppy rates a 42 out of 100 on Klout's influence scale. One of Klout's top influencers, President Obama, scores an 86.)

Right now, those profiles and scores are sold primarily to direct marketers and political campaigns, but insurance companies and prospective employers are starting to use the technology too. Privacy experts say the market for information will keep expanding -- as will the amount of data that can be collected about you.

"Dossiers will be built on each of us in the future in a much more intimate way," said Michael Fertik, ReputationDefender' CEO. "This will be used for much more far-reaching and invasive things than advertising."

So if hiring, firing, insurance or even dating decisions are going to be made about us based on our online profiles, what's especially scary is that a lot of the information collected about us is incorrect.

The address ReputationDefender found for Poppy was five years old, her phone number was completely wrong, and her salary information was way off (though Poppy says she'd love to make as much as the search results thought she did).

But even more disturbing are some of the conclusions an automated algorithm could make about Poppy based on online associations with her name. Bankruptcy, prescription drug abuse, Wall Street and Detroit were some of the most frequent words associated with her name -- all because she reports on those subjects daily.

"No one looks underneath your credit score to find out why it is what it is," Fertik said. "Accurate or inaccurate, life decisions are being based on your online personal information. It's going to define you forever." To top of page

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Most Americans Say They're Worse Off Under Obama
by TellurideFreePress
Dec 09, 2010 | 1760 views | 2 2 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

More than 50 percent of Americans say they are worse off now than they were two years ago when President Barack Obama took office, and two-thirds believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

The survey, conducted Dec. 4-7, finds that 51 percent of respondents think their situation has deteriorated, compared with 35 percent who say they’re doing better. The balance isn’t sure. Americans have grown more downbeat about the country’s future in just the last couple of months, the poll shows. The pessimism cuts across political parties and age groups, and is common to both sexes.

The negative sentiment may cast a pall over the holiday shopping season, according to the poll. A plurality of those surveyed -- 46 percent -- expects to spend less this year than last; only 12 percent anticipate spending more. Holiday sales rose by just under a half percent last year after falling by almost 4 percent in 2008.

“It’s definitely different this year than it’s been,” says poll respondent Larry Deyo, a 38-year-old father of two in Marlton, New Jersey. “I can’t really do too much with spending.” He says he lost his job at a kitchen and bath design center when the company closed, and he’s now working at a Home Depot Inc. store with a “significant decrease” in pay.

It was President Ronald Reagan who popularized the question, “Are you better off or worse off than you were four years ago” in his 1980 campaign against Jimmy Carter.

Past Presidents

Obama’s numbers in the poll, given the context of an economy that is struggling to recover from the longest recession since the Great Depression and the experience of past presidents, aren’t so bad.

As Reagan approached the end of his second year in office, his numbers were more negative than Obama’s in this survey. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken in Oct. 1982, 61 percent of Americans said things were worse and 33 percent said they had improved. Reagan won re-election in a landslide in 1984. In the final months of George W. Bush’s presidency, as the financial crisis intensified, Americans said by a 2-to-1 margin that their financial situation had deteriorated, compared with a year earlier.

Americans in the poll also oppose Republican lawmakers’ calls to extend tax cuts for upper-income Americans beyond the end of 2010. Obama reluctantly agreed to a two-year extension of those cuts as part of a compromise package that also retained breaks for the middle class.

Sixty-six percent say the nation is headed in the wrong direction. That’s up from 62 percent who felt that way in an October poll and is the worst reading since the Bloomberg National Poll began in September 2009.

Unemployment Is Top Issue

Unemployment and jobs are the most important issue facing the country now, the poll finds. Fifty percent of those surveyed identified joblessness as their top concern, twice the number who chose the federal budget deficit and government spending.

Members of Obama’s Democratic Party are about evenly split on the question of whether they are doing better than two years ago. Republicans and political independents are more downbeat. More than 60 percent of Republicans say they’re doing worse under Obama. Just over 50 percent of political independents feel that way, compared with a third who say their situation has improved.

Obama, 49, inherited an economy in deep crisis. While it has started to recover -- showing 3.2 percent growth over the past year -- unemployment has remained high. Joblessness rose to a seven-month high of 9.8 percent in November, significantly above the 7.4 percent rate that prevailed in December 2008, the month before Obama was inaugurated.

Stock Market Gains

The stock market has performed much better. The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index has risen more than 50 percent since Obama was sworn in Jan. 20, 2009.

“After looking at all the politicians and all the policies, they’re not geared toward Americans. They’re geared toward the corporations,” says Ken Cmar, a 45-year-old poll respondent residing in Crystal River, Florida.

He says his business aligning wheels on vehicles has shrunk as trucking companies and municipalities with bus fleets have cut back. “It’s that trickle-down economic thing and I’m at the wrong end,” Cmar says.

By age group, only the young -- those under 35, a core constituency for Obama in his presidential bid -- consider themselves better off than they were two years ago.

‘Naivete of Youth’

The young often show a greater “sense that things are getting better for them than we see for older respondents,” says J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm that conducted the nationwide survey. “Maybe that is the sweet naivete of youth or, more likely, they are building their careers and things are, in fact, getting better for them.”

While Democrats and political independents agree that unemployment is the top issue, Republicans are about evenly split between jobs and the budget deficit, which totaled $1.29 trillion in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

“The deficit is outrageous,” says poll respondent Lisa Brandel, a 36-year-old free-lance writer in Bellefontaine, Ohio. “But the root of the problem is that we need more jobs. If we get better employment, more people will be paying taxes and the deficit will go down.”

On the tax cuts, the survey conducted before, during and after the negotiations between the White House and congressional Republicans this week, shows that only a third of Americans support keeping the lower rates for the highest earners.

Tax Cuts

Another third say they want only the tax cuts for the middle class to be extended, while more than a fourth say all the tax cuts should be allowed to expire Dec. 31, as scheduled.

The agreement Obama announced Dec. 6 would temporarily sustain the tax reductions for all income levels. The president said the compromise was needed to break a deadlock with Republicans who vowed to block tax cuts for middle-income Americans if those for individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000 weren’t extended, too.

The Bloomberg National survey of 1,000 U.S. adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rich Miller in Washington

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at

comments (2)
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December 09, 2010
Mr. TellurideFreePress- great thinking...

Any leftists take a look at the Tbill market today?

It is only a matter of time before the US abandons its sovereign debt and the dead enders get their wish..poverty for all.

Black Friday: A Festival Of Greed In The Midst Of A Sea Of Pain And Suffering
by TellurideFreePress
Nov 23, 2010 | 2589 views | 0 0 comments | 90 90 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
By Michael Snyder

The Economic Collapse

November 22, 2010 19:15 PM

Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving when millions of Americans line up before the crack of dawn at retail stores across the nation hoping to find great deals on cheap plastic stuff made outside the United States.  The Friday after Thanksgiving has become an "unofficial holiday" in recent years, and in fact in many ways it is starting to become as big as Thanksgiving itself. 

A recent search on Google News found over 31,000 stories about "Thanksgiving" and over 24,000 stories about "Black Friday".  Almost every major news organization has been running stories about Black Friday for weeks now.  Some of the biggest retailers, including Wal-Mart, Sears, Old Navy and Toys R Us, have had such success with Black Friday sales that they have decided to stay open for Thanksgiving now. 

You would think that we could all have one day off to spend with family and friends to give thanks for all that we have been blessed with, but apparently that is not going to be possible.  Just like so many of our other holidays, the true purpose behind having a holiday called "Thanksgiving" is being totally obliterated by a tsunami of greed.  Meanwhile, more Americans than ever are living in poverty this year and very few people even seem to notice.

Not that there is anything wrong with enjoying all the things you and your family have been blessed with.  However, perhaps we should all take time this week to remember the tens of millions of Americans that are going to be deeply suffering this winter.  They keep telling us that "the recession is over" and yet poverty continues to spread like an out of control plague.  But for most Americans life is still relatively "normal", and so the horrible suffering going on out there doesn't really affect them.

The truth is that the U.S. economy is dying.  Americans have been living beyond their means for decades, and now we are starting to pay the price for the gigantic mountains of debt that we have accumulated.  But instead of preparing for harder times and looking for ways to help those who are hurting, most Americans are preparing for another orgy of shopping this holiday season....

*According to a new study by America's Research Group and UBS, more Americans than ever before will be out shopping this Black Friday.

Meanwhile, nearly 15% of all American households experienced a food shortage at some point during 2009, and experts anticipate that the final number for 2010 will be even worse.

*Approximately 48.9 percent of all Americans plan to shop on Black Friday this year.

Meanwhile, many other Americans only have a very, very cold winter to look forward to.  According to the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association, more than 10 million U.S. households will not be able to afford to heat their homes this winter without assistance, which would be a new all-time record.

*The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday retail sales will hit $447.1 billion for 2010.

Meanwhile, more Americans are on food stamps than ever before.  Today, more than 43 million Americans are enrolled in the food stamp program.  The number of Americans on food stamps has increased almost 60 percent since 2007.  If our economy is getting better, then why is hunger spreading like an out of control virus?....

*Millions of American families will be streaming into Wal-Mart and Target to buy foreign-made electronic gadgets this upcoming Friday.

Meanwhile, millions of other American families would gladly give up their Thanksgiving meals in exchange for a decent job for a family member.  According to one recent survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one person that is looking for a full-time job.  Unfortunately, there are not even close to enough jobs to go around in post-industrial America.

*Consumer Reports has posted a Black Friday shopping guide that encourages people to be prepared to wait in line out in the cold for several hours if they want to get the "best deals"....

It's not always worth breaking down the 'door.' ... But consumers shouldn't bother to show up unless they are willing to wait in line, sometimes for hours before the store opens, and should be prepared for possible disappointment. There are no guarantees.

Meanwhile, there are millions of American children that barely have enough to eat.  According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010.

The age of consumerism is coming to a close so enjoy it while it lasts.

Sadly, many proponents of "free trade" (which is actually not "free" or "fair" at all) point to the "great deals" available on Black Friday as evidence that globalism works.

Yes, you might get 20 extra bucks off on that 32-inch television, but in the end American workers are going to be supported somehow.

Either we provide jobs for American workers that enable them to feed their families or we provide for them by giving them food stamps and unemployment checks.

The United States has lost over 42,000 factories since 2001.  Are you willing to have your taxes raised to provide food and shelter for all of those displaced workers?

The following is how Wikipedia defines deindustrialization....

Deindustrialization (also spelled deindustrialisation) is a process of social and economic change caused by the removal or reduction of industrial capacity or activity in a country or region, especially heavy industry or manufacturing industry. It is an opposite of industrialization.

In case you haven't noticed, that is what is happening to America.

The United States is rapidly becoming a post-industrial nation.

As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing.  The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

Not that all trade is a bad thing.  Trading with other nations such as Canada and Germany that have similar standards of living and that pay their workers similar wages could potentially be beneficial to both sides.

However, merging our economy with nations such as communist China was a colossal mistake.  In China, most workers earn less than a tenth of what most American workers make.  Today, our factories, our jobs and our wealth are being transferred to China at a pace that is almost unbelievable.

In 1985, the U.S. trade deficit with China was 6 million dollars for the entire year.  In the month of August alone, the U.S. trade deficit with China was over 28 billion dollars.

In case you are wondering, that is not a good trend.

Every single month, tens of billions of dollars more goes out of the United States than comes into it.

In other words, we are being drained.

But that isn't going to stop tens of millions of Americans from running out on Black Friday and buying huge piles of stuff that nobody really needs with money that they can't really afford to spend.

America is in the midst of a long-term economic decline, but nearly everyone in the media keeps expecting the economy to "snap out of it" and for the good times to start rolling once again.

Unfortunately, things aren't going to get better.  This is about as good as things are going to get.

The federal government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.  Our state and local governments are drowning in a sea of red ink.  Average Americans are seeing their incomes decline and their standards of living go down.  The greatest economic machine in world history is being dismantled and most Americans have become so dumbed-down that they don't even understand what is going on.

But as they say, ignorance is bliss.

So enjoy this "Black Friday" while you still can.  Perhaps the memories of these good times will keep us warm during the truly dark days that are ahead.

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Hell is for Children
by TellurideFreePress
Nov 21, 2010 | 1830 views | 1 1 comments | 95 95 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Being against the Bush/Obama wars is no longer a fashionable endeavor in Telluride. Like most "movements" it was never about the wars, but was about the person, GW.  Now that Obama (who Telluride adores) is increasing troop strength, sending new tanks and defending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in court, our local Obamatrons have become silent.  Here is a reprint of a wonderful article to read while you are sitting down in your safe warm homes, eating more food than most in the world will see in a year and deciding how far into debt you will go this year to buy noisey shiny crap for your kids.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Hell is for Children


Keith Johnson

Revolt of the Plebs

November 19, 2010

Somewhere in America, a seventeen-year-old boy is living the last year of his life.

He is in the first semester of his senior year.  His grades have been good, and he expects to have enough credits to finish school early.  He feels like he’s been in school his entire life.  But he has no regrets.  Along the way, he has made many friends.  He took up an interest in baseball and found that he had a talent for playing the drums.  He is in his prime.  He’s lean, fit and healthy.  His mind is sharp and he has an insatiable appetite for life.

He has also fallen in love—for the first time.  She is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.  He thinks about her all the time, and pines when she is not near.  When they are together, they share wild fantasies about how they’d like to start a family and go into business for themselves selling sporting goods.  He also wants to start a band—just for fun—and perform on the weekends at local venues.

Today, an Army recruitment officer gave an inspirational speech at his high school.  The guy looked sharp in his clean, well-pressed uniform.  He had a shaved head and two full sleeves of colorful tattoos on his bulging, tanned biceps and forearms.  The boy had never considered a career in the military, but he did find a certain romance in it.  Apparently, so did his girlfriend.  As they left the gymnasium, she made a comment that unnerved him.

GIRL: He was kind of cute.

BOY: What?

GIRL: Well, there’s something about a man in uniform.

BOY: Really?

GIRL: Yeah…don’t get mad.

It was the first time he felt angry with her, and the first time they’d ever crossed words.  He was overcome with feelings of jealousy, which caused him to say a few things he would later regret.

The drive on the way to her home was uncomfortable.  When they got there, she leaned over to kiss him.  But he did not reciprocate.  Instead, he clenched tightly to the steering wheel and stared straight ahead.  She stepped out of the car and slammed the door behind her as he screeched away from the curb.  It was their first fight.

When he gets home, he steps through the front door and sees his father—glaring at the television—watching another one of his boring news programs.

BOY: What’s up, Dad?

DAD: Same sh*t.  Goddamn Moozlims want to build a Mosque at Ground Zero.  Can you believe that sh*t?

BOY: What’s a Mosque?

DAD: A place where they train terrorists.

BOY: Well…that’s no good.

DAD: No…it ain’t.  I’m telling you, Son, if we don’t kill every last one of those Moozlims, they’re gonna take over the world.  They breed like rabbits.  Killing them all is the only way to stop them.  If we don’t, they’re gonna institute Sharia law right here in the good old USA.  And that’s no kind of world you want your kids growing up in.

BOY: What’s Sharia law?

DAD: The law of the jungle.  These savages like to cut people’s heads off…especially Christians.

BOY: Yikes.

The boy retires to his room and clicks on the television.  “Inglourious Basterds” is on HBO.  He’s seen it before—many times—it’s one of his favorite movies.  Quentin Tarantino is his favorite director. Brad Pitt is his favorite actor. And this is his favorite scene: where the “Bear Jew” is about to bash in the brains of a Nazi with a baseball bat.

The boy reaches under his bed and grabs the baseball bat that he’s used to hit many home runs.  He looks it over as he works his hand across the wood.  He isn’t thinking about baseball.  He’s thinking about how he’d like to take that bat to the head of that military recruiter.  But he quickly dismisses the idea.  That would be foolish.  But, damn, he sure would like to bash someone’s head in right now.  How about one of them Moozlims?  Dad wouldn’t have a problem with that.

BOY: Yeah, now that’s a good idea.

After the movie, the boy puts “Call of Duty” into his X-Box.  He hasn’t played video games since he started dating.  It was a good distraction.  It kept him from obsessing over his girlfriend.  To his surprise, he found that he was still a pretty good shot.  In fact, it was as if he’d never stopped shooting.  Over the past few months, he’d been regretting all of the hours he wasted playing games.  But today, he wondered if it really was a waste of time?  What if he could put these skills to work in the real world?

The next day, he pays a visit to the Army recruitment office.  The same man who gave the speech at his high school gives him a warm welcome as he walks through the door.  He has a strong handshake.  The guy calls him “Brother.”  The boy likes that.  He never had a brother of his own.

The recruiter puts the boy at ease with his quick wit and raunchy sense of humor.  He talks to the boy like a man, and the boy starts to feel like one.  The recruiter tells wild stories about his adventures overseas.  Then he rolls up his sleeves and shows the boy his tattoos.  There’s a wild story behind each one of them too.

Then they got down to business.  The recruiter tells the boy he could make up to $100,000 in his first year.

RECRUITER: Free housing, free food, free travel, lots of vacation time, up to $70,000 in education bonuses and another $20,000 signing bonus.  Plus, you get free health care for life!

The boy is impressed, and then asks what the odds were that he would see any combat?  The recruiter assures him that he would never have to step foot on a battlefield if he didn’t want to.

BOY: But I want to be on a battlefield.  What’s the point of being a soldier if you can’t fight?

The recruiter straightens up in his chair and then rises to his feet.  He gives the boy a stern and solid look.

RECRUITER: Brother…you don’t know how rare it is to find men of your courage.  Most guys who come in here are just looking to make some easy money.  But you’re different.  You’re a different breed altogether.

BOY: I just don’t want Sharia law to come to America.

RECRUITER: That ain’t gonna happen.  Not on my watch.  Not as long as I have brave men like you fighting alongside me.

The boy is hooked.  He was now a man, and about to become a very rich man in a very handsome uniform.  That was sure to impress his girlfriend.

Later that night, the boy drives over to see his girl.  He apologizes to her and presents her with a bouquet of roses.  Then he tells her his plans.  She cries.

GIRL: Is this all because of that stupid thing I said about that Army guy?

BOY: Well, maybe in the beginning.  But if it weren’t for what you said, I would have probably passed up an opportunity of a lifetime.  Jobs are hard to find these days.  A few years in the Army will be good for both of us.  We’ll have plenty of money and all sorts of benefits.  Plus, they’ll pay my college tuition.  I can take business courses, accounting…everything.  I’m going to need to know all that stuff if we ever expect to open a business of our own.

GIRL: But I’ll never get to see you.

BOY: Not true.  The recruiter said I get lots of vacation time and free travel anywhere I want to go.

GIRL: I don’t know.

BOY: Please…I know what I’m doing.  But I need your blessing.

GIRL: Well…I guess you would look cute in a uniform.  Way cuter than that ugly bald guy.

They laugh, and then they embrace.

Months pass.  He is now out of school and has just celebrated his 18th birthday.  He has passed his physical with flying colors and is preparing to be sworn in at the local VFW.

Dad is proud, and has already placed a “Proud Parent of a US Soldier” sticker in the back window of his F-150.  Mom is in tears, but she is proud of her son as well.  His girlfriend is taking pictures with her iphone.

After the ceremony, the boy walks up to the recruiter.  They shake hands.  The boy calls the recruiter by his first name and thanks him for all he’s done.  The recruiter seems different now, as if he’s turned into a whole new person.

RECRUITER: Yeah…don’t mention it.  By the way, you should probably get used to calling me Sergeant.  OK, private?  Now, how’s about you start making yourself useful by helping to fold up these chairs.

The next day, he prepares to board a bus.  He’s on his way to boot camp.  He is no longer a free man.  He is property of the United States Army.  He embraces his parents for the last time.  He gives his girlfriend her last kiss.  Then he boards the bus, never to be seen alive again.

Several months pass.  It’s Thanksgiving Day in Afghanistan.  The boy has learned that real combat is not like the kind waged on an X-Box.  The opponents are a lot harder to kill.  In fact, they’re way better shots than he could ever hope to be.  These guys have never had toys to play with.  They’ve been playing with real guns that they’ve been building from scratch since they were five years old.

There’s no pause button either, and you have to work a lot more body parts than your index finger and thumbs.

It’s hot, and he hasn’t bathed in a week.

He’s never heard screams like the screams he’s heard here.  He’s never heard women cry the way they do here.  He’s never seen children’s body parts carried away in the mouths of skinny dogs before.  None of these images, or sounds, were ever shown on any of his video games. Nor were the smells…

…the stench…that goddamn stench.  He’ll never be able to shake terrible smell.  War has a unique flavor.  It’s like gasoline mixed with blood, urine and sh*t.  It hangs in the air.  You can see it.  Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you.  You can almost swear that the stench clouds are taking on a life of their own.  You see faces in the smoke, like demons or ghosts.

He came here to kill Muslims.  But now that he’s here, he doesn’t want to kill anybody.  He just wants to stay alive…and go home as soon as he can.

He’s forgotten all about Sharia law.  There is no law here at all.  Right now, he’d welcome any kind of law that would bring order out of all this chaos.

Something just bounced off his chest.  Was it a bug?  It stings.  He feels like he just wet his pants, but her knows he didn’t pee.  Is it sweat?  He feels down around his waist.  He looks at his fingers.  There’s blood.  He refuses to believe that he’s been shot.  There must be another explanation.  Then he feels a shooting pain, as if he’s been run through with a sword.  He feels around his back for evidence of some kind of metal shank.  But there is none.

BOY: Mommy, I need to come home.  Can you come and get me?  What the f#ck am I saying?

He’s tired.  He feels like a million insects are crawling around in his body.  Maybe they’re there to help.  Maybe they’re putting things back together.

BOY: Thanks, guys.  Wake me up when…

He feels detached from his body.  It is moving on its own.  He is cold.  He lies on his back and reaches for a blanket that isn’t there.  He stares into the stench and breathes deeply.  Now he’s urinating…and he’s deficating as well.

As he lays there dying, he isn’t thinking about patriotism, causes, America or any of that sh*t.  This was a big mistake…and he wasn’t prepared to make this sacrifice…ever.

Before the light goes out in his eyes, the last image that flashes through his mind is a crisp vision of the beautiful girl he left behind, and the last word that passes from his lips is…”Why?”

The following week, a 68-year-old Senator in Washington D.C. has just finished his breakfast.  He scolds his maid for putting sugar in his coffee.  He’s on his way to the floor of the Senate to introduce legislation that would increase the troop strength in Afghanistan.  He climbs in to the back of a Lincoln Towncar.  He’s making one stop on the way to the Capitol.  He has an appointment at the spa for a rub down and a manicure.

Across town, a 61-year-old Republican Congressman ducks out the back door of his mistress’s townhouse.  He’s in a hurry to meet with a lobbyist from AIPAC.

In Texas, a 64-year-old former US President, who lied his nation into a war with Iraq, tees up a golf ball at an exclusive country club.

In New York City, an arrogant, 61-year-old political commentator for FOX News prepares to do a demonization piece on Islam.  In the meantime, he lurches over a young female intern at the water cooler and creeps her out with his unsolicited flirtations.

None of these old men have seen a day of combat, but that hasn’t stopped them from causing many deaths.

They all had a nice Thanksgiving.  All the kids were there.  It was a nice break from all that hard work getting these wars in order.

Back home, the parents of the young boy have just learned of his death.  Their lives are over.

Two months later, the parents fly to a special ceremony in honor of fallen soldiers.  At the same time the parents are being seated, the President of the United States is in a back room, watching a game on ESPN as he jokes with Secret Service agents.  An attaché comes in to tell the President that it’s time he made his entrance.

PRESIDENT: Sh*t!  Oh, well…let’s get this thing over with.  Put this game on pause.  I’ll be right back.

The President puts on his “game face” and goes through the motions, offering his condolences to each parent as they take turns shaking the hand of the man who killed their sons.

When it’s over, the President returns to the back room.

PRESIDENT: Turn the game back on.

Before he takes his seat, he uses anti-bacterial soap to wash his hands.  He hates touching strangers.  As he washes his hands, he also washes his mind of the parent’s faces and the names of their dead children.

A year has passed since the boy died.  His girlfriend has moved on.  She’s no longer into guys with uniforms, and she’ll never date a soldier again.  She’s met a much older man.  He’s divorced.  He owns a sporting goods store and plays in a band on weekends.  She lost her virginity on the second date.

Nine months later…another soldier is born.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Senator Lieberman!

Merry Christmas, Congressman Boehner!

Happy New Year, Mr. President!

Goodbye, Son.

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November 21, 2010
Hell is for Children

Something to think about

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