Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
Tyranny After Midnight

Tyranny After Midnight

by DANTE TORFIC

There are two paths you can go by, but in the long run. There’s still time to change the road you’re on.

Jimmy Page / Robert Plant “Stairway to Heaven”

This may not be the case anymore.

The thoughts started somewhere in the middle of the night. It was that time right before sleep when all of us are alone with our souls and beating hearts. It’s a weird thing when you can feel your heart pulsing inside your chest in the darkness, constantly pumping life through the veins. The rhythm can be seductive and leads to a path deep into the brain. And there is no better time to look inside and think about the universe than on the edge of a dream. This is where I found myself, blissfully lost under sheets of liberty.

Suddenly, outside the window was an LAPD helicopter swooping low, lights blaring in the autumn night, circling around the intersection outside. The spotlight was honed on what appeared to be a routine traffic stop, which was not out of the ordinary. The bar and restaurant around the corner were notorious for their late night festivities. Truth being told, I’ve been there a few times when things have drifted to the port side of crazy. So, the police presence was nothing new to me, just another price to pay for living in LA. I went back to sleep, or at least I tried.

The clock read 3AM, and this was getting ridiculous. My eyes were closed, the blankets snug to keep out the chill, and I had sealed my windows to decrease the noise. The helicopter finally buzzed away, but sleep wouldn’t come. Tossing and turning did nothing to solve my dilemma and I wasn’t that tired anymore, even though I was physically exhausted. Bizarre, but my metabolism has always been a bit of a beast, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but always ready to chill. So chill I did, until the screams started.

From right out side came a symphony of curses that brought tears to my Philly eyes for the pure eloquence of emotion. The chopper returned less than a minute later and I rushed to the window to see what the hell was going on. Out front, a guy was arguing with a tow truck driver in the parking lot of the Chinese restaurant. It was too late for the place to be open, but people parked there all the time and towings were common. Things were turning ugly, an argument was escalating and you don’t want to argue with a tow truck driver. Not because they’re tough, but because they always have a side deal with the cops. Hence, the chopper, and now the cop car, which skidded onto the scene. Drama ensued.

Sleep was pointless now, so the couch was calling, and I lost myself in one of the true pleasures of self-employment: the ability to twist a spliff at 3:40AM. It was a celebration of the Great Freedom we enjoy here in America. The huff, combined with the haze of fatigue, led me to an interesting place in my mind. I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the tow truck situation and the current debate over Iraq.

When a tow truck driver comes on the scene, you are getting towed. Period. No solution at all could make the driver not take your automobile. Reason, threats, pleas for mercy will do you no good. That’s the problem with the position that we have assumed before the world; Saddam Hussein and the people of Iraq’s car is parked on Our Oil and about to be towed and nothing can stop us from getting it. We are giving the population of Iraq no alternative, but to support this genital wart of humanity they call a leader. A desert war is one thing, urban guerrilla, or any guerrilla, warfare is another. And we are beginning to send clear signals around the world that our new foreign policy is: Speak rhetorically and carry a big can of whup-ass.

A sense of doom sinks in when I think about the inevitability of it all. Tens of thousands are about to die who have done nothing wrong, other than to be born in poverty at the center of an oil-rich desert. The noble men and women of our armed forces will be exposed to who knows what in the air, sending some of them home in body bags and condemning many more to suffer through lifelong pain, both mental and physical. Our politicians are in a corner, trapped somewhere between politics and morality. And I don’t feel confident that given the choice between the right thing morally and the right thing politically, that our elected officials will choose morals. That is the real decision in the November elections and the real reason why even Democrats are pushing for a quick vote on the resolution. It will not be a partisan vote at all, but rather an opportunity to see the cold, brutal reality of our Congress. The political whores will not miss an opportunity, Democrat and Republican alike, to bask in the Glow of the Flag. Those who understand the morality of this dangerous first step will stand up, but not be heard, and more likely be ridiculed and destroyed by their brethren. After all, sharks eat their own, ask Cynthia McKinney. Think of this upcoming vote as a Swine Detector Test.

I wouldn’t shed a tear if Saddam Hussein were eaten by a pack of rabid squirrels, but is the threat he poses the real reason for all of this? If so, then why aren’t his neighbors and the world screaming to the Heavens for help? Is their desire to humiliate George Bush so irrational and self destructive that they would celebrate it under a mushroom cloud? I am not a pacifist by any means, but you would have to be a fool to not question the integrity this pre-packaged war. Maybe the intelligence community should spend their time protecting our citizens instead of trying to get that next promotion, overthrowing democratically-elected foreign leaders, smuggling drugs, and generally causing havoc around the world. The sun began to rise and my bile began to fall.

The sleep craziness was effecting my stream of thought and I went back under the sheets and closed my eyes. Soon, I was back on the edge of a dream and thoughts of politics and war and tyranny left my head. Finally, I fell asleep only to wake up at 10AM and start the next day all over again.

DANTE TORFIC can be reached at torfic@yahoo.com