Confluence and Consequence in the United States of America

CAIRO, IL (TMI) – Somewhere between the hyper-partisan bullshit that pours from the mouth of every shit pundit with a microphone, an American story is emerging, and a choice is beginning to present itself.

A few months ago I was having dinner with a Trump supporter in a hotel lobby in Phoenix, prior to a Turning Point Action event where the former President would be speaking. She was convinced that everyone who acted amiss on January 6th was a bonafide Antifa operative, hell-bent on besmirching the irreproachable name of her beloved Donald John Trump. I tried to explain what I witnessed with my own eyes, but she wasn’t having any of it.

Trump supporters would never act like that, she said authoritatively, as though she had been there for every mismanaged manner of action that day. For her, there was no other conceivable explanation. Her President, and those who support him, are perfect in every way.

I’m sure she had hours worth of listening to other people who weren’t there – all of them bolstering her irrefutable belief – but I just didn’t have it in me to engage in any sort of meaningful argument on the matter. In the land of the deceived and the home of the ignorant, no amount of first-hand perspective can compensate for the preponderance of propaganda being force-fed to the public.

The steak was ok, but the conversation was top notch insanity.

I digress. Back to the matter at hand.

Here we are: An imperfect nation, full of imperfect people waiting for some sort of messiah to put themselves on a cross, and save us from ourselves. Regardless of self-proclaimed (or otherwise authoritarian) designation of political persuasion, the yearning for leadership is the only thread of commonality which seems to be holding this country back from going completely over the cliff and falling into the abyss of an anything but amicable Balkanization of the Union.

If the BLM riots of the summer of 2020 taught us anything, it’s that nothing unites a movement quite like martyrdom. The mindless masses love fresh blood.

It’s highly unlikely that George Floyd would’ve had anything to do with some of the more horrific events that followed his death. From my limited understanding of his life, his concerns never seemed to reach beyond the daily struggle which so many Americans share: paying the rent, finding our next meal, and staying out of jail in the process.

I reached out to his family’s attorney, seeking to interview his sister, but have yet to hear back. The search for a wider context isn’t easy, but the American consumer has never been particularly concerned with that level of detail; especially when they’re being incited to act out by the very power structure that placed Derick Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck. One can only sense that the willingness of the martyr to give their life for a greater purpose is of little historical significance.

It was at the aforementioned rally in Phoenix where Ashli Babbitt’s mother Micki first entered my own perspective of understanding. I can’t recall right off-hand who it was that introduced her. It may have been Rep. Paul Gosar. I could look at my notes. Quite frankly it doesn’t matter; politicians chase death like no other profession. Even a gonzo journalist can’t keep up with that level of opportunistic narcissism.

And besides, amidst the worshipful cries of “We want Trump”, it is Micki’s humanity that bears remembering, and her daughter’s untimely death at the hands of Capitol Police Officer Michael Leroy Byrd. Yet another tale of American martyrdom; another sacrifice on the alter of freedom and societal progress. It’s a good thing he had three names. The tinfoil hat wearers will stick to that detail with every ounce of their being. It’s easy to dehumanize these events; a perfectly rational course of action in this overstimulated world we inhabit, but after years of watching death, rape, and torture on our TVs, while munching popcorn, goldfish, and whatever the fuck else we stuff our fat American bodies with, is it even surprising that we find people giggling at the murder of a 14 year Air Force veteran, who once gave up her own safety and security to defend this American un-exceptionalism?

I suppose the disdain for the veterans who went to the Capitol that day is what continues to disturb me the most. I’ve never given that much for my country, and most of the people who mock those who did, do so from their positions of privilege; paid for with the blood of those who have.

Damn our inability to reflect on the mess we’ve made. Damn our stupidity. Damn our lack of compassion. It’s probably time to learn from the people we’ve lost, and those who feel their absence the most. This very search for understanding has guided my travels for the last three years, but as we watch the social media shit feed continue to tear truth to shreds, this mission this mandate becomes ever more important.

4 days ago, I found myself in Freeport, Texas, at a small memorial for Ashli Babbitt.

The number of attendees at the Bridge Harbor Yacht Club was nothing extravagant but there was a sense of family unlike any event I myself, have ever attended. The large majority of those who had come to celebrate Ashli’s birthday each had their own stories of loss related to January 6. I myself have spent many an evening weeping at what that ill-fated day meant for the future of our freedom, federal prosecution is but a side-note. An array of speakers professing their hopes, dreams, and of course, their losses; from Tayler Hanson, the red haired, young journalist who held Ashli as she took her last breaths, to her loving husband Aaron, who spoke of the loss of his soul when his wife was murdered that day, the pain in the room was palpable.

Of course there were smiles, albeit pained and defensive; speaking volumes more than the tears of words were able to express. Certainly there was overwhelming sadness, and anger at those who were deemed to be responsible for the loss of her life. A small group of Patriots remembered who she was, how she died, and what her death might possibly mean for the future. Donald Trump sent a message, expressing his unwavering support for the family, and others did the same. Many felt that justice had not been served in the matter, and there was plenty of discussion as to how it could be attained.

Ashli’s mother spoke in a way which only a grieving mother can: with absolutely no fear of any potential for punishment.

“Fuck off and die, Nancy Pelosi,” she said as a matter of fact.

In a world where free speech is being curtailed, and federal agents traverse the country, breaking down doors, her loss has enabled her to speak with no filter. As she told me later, they’ve already taken her daughter; they’ve lost all ability to punish her further.

After the official event had ended, attendees continued to speak to one another. Proud Boys were gathered to provide security for agitators that never showed up, but the solidarity in purpose was supremely evident.

Once the small crowd began to disperse, I found myself drinking Yuengling at a table with Newsmax’s Johnny Tabacco. He was having a cocktail and watching his New York City Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys. The last few years have left me giving zero fucks about football, but I have to admit: watching grown men play a child’s game will always be a nice distraction. I found myself simply enjoying the game, like a Thanksgiving round of catch with my old man.

A few minutes after having a seat I gave comment to his co-host, and founder of Citizens Against Political Persecution, Cara Castronuova, who had set up her camera in the lounge. I’ve never been particularly good at sound byte commentary; I’m far too much of an ent for that jazz. If you don’t know what an ent is, you should probably read more Tolkien. No one is on my side, little orc.

She asked me why I had come to the memorial. I said it was the right thing to do. Ashli didn’t deserve to die that day. Too many people pass judgement from the comfort of their sofa.

Many had already left when the idea of dinner came up. I decided to stay it only made sense for me to have some food while I was there. Fried oysters and mud bugs; fresh fish and some other sort of breaded goodness was on the menu.

I laughed with Edward Smith, an Irish accented preacher who claimed to be from Idaho, about the silliness of assumption, and the wickedness of the world we live in.

I briefly recounted the tale of my path to gonzo journalism.

Ashli’s mother entered the room, and hugs were to be given to all. Expression of understanding is impossible, but she handled each bereavement with grace and understanding. She walked as an example for us all. She may very well be the best of us.

A few minutes later, she pointedly sat down at my end of the dinner table, where we both came to understand a bit more about each other. I briefed her on how I came to find myself at the Capitol that day, and how I was just down the hall when I heard a gunshot. I told her of my legal troubles. She listened intently, and offered her support.

After losing her daughter, she continues to give.

Micki Witthoeft is a small woman; kind, beautiful, and bold. By nearly all accounts, her daughter Ashli was much the same. Regardless of what some may say about her motivations on January 6th, it would be impossible to argue that she lacked courage. To spend any time in the presence of her mother is to understand where this courage was formed.

As we attempted to converse against a steady wave of well wishers, Micki told me of a dream she had been given; a vision of the future; a message from beyond the grave.

Sometime after Ashli’s death, she had been guided in her sleep to a place where her daughter had been waiting. There she saw her, clear as day.

She was in prison, and Ashli told her mother she had been sentenced to death. Frantically and against all logic, Micki seemed to think the only reasonable course of action was to put Ashli in her purse, safe from this sentence where she could be snuck out of hell, back home to her family, where she belonged. It was at that moment when the purpose of the visit began to coalesce. Ashli wasn’t alone. There, in the prison with her, were the dozens of others who now begged for their mother to release them.

With no previous concern for those who were caught up in the trap that day, Micki found a new purpose: Political prisoners must be set free. America is better than what we’ve allowed it to become.

I took her dream to heart, with full understanding of how crazy some may believe it to be. I told Micki that anyone who doubts her authenticity in the matter is quite welcome to fuck right off. We shared some nervous laughter at the thought.

So now, as I write from the place where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers join, I ponder the direction of America. Something about this point, where Jim and Finn had sought to find freedom, has me pondering greater consequence. It’s easy to think of the things that divide us, like a river which splits as we all swim headfirst, against the current. It may be convenient to think about separation and secession, but perhaps we are going about this all wrong. America has always been a confluence of culture; a place where separate identities and past experiences meet to form a common identity. Perhaps the path to freedom isn’t about fighting the current. Perhaps we would be better served by coming together and finding our place in the natural progression of things. With an open eyed understanding of what we stand to lose, maybe it’s possible to follow our destiny and become one mighty river, unabated in it’s course to the freedom of the open sea.

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George W. Bush warns of domestic terrorism, during a 9/11 ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Flight 93 National Memorial Portrait

“We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within.

There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But there is disdainful pluralism in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols.

They are children of the same foul spirit and it is our continuing duty to confront them.”Publisher’s Note: The image here is a painting called “War Games” which is intended to highlight George W. Bush’s manipulation of the attacks of 9/11 to justify war in Iraq.

It is part of a pair of works by New York-based, Australian artist Petrina Ryan-Kleid. It’s companion piece, called “Parsing Bill”, is an image of former president Bill Clinton clad in a blue dress and high heels, gesturing to the viewer.

Both were found in Jeffrey Epstein’s $56 million Manhattan home, and he didn’t kill himself.

Boots On The Ground – Real News From Those Who Serve

The following is an exact transcript from a whistleblower within the Armed Services.
This is not satire. This is not a joke.
This is what’s happening with taxpayer dollars.
This is what our military is being ordered to do.
This is the reality for our men and women in uniform.

Certain identifying portions have been redacted, and some spelling corrections have been made.
(The original text was typed quite hastily)
Trusted sources are trusted.
– Shawn Bradley Witzemann (TMI)

“2/1 Marines were held at least one extra day at the tax payers expense in the dangerous combat theater Kabul, Afghanistan to police call (clean) their base for the Taliban.
I know you’re waiting for the punchline but this isn’t a joke.
The General’s name is General Sullivan w/ TF 51/5. They were ordered to clean, even though there were credible threats of suicide vests and about a dozen military aged men, armed with AKs, came over the walls of Abbey Gate of the base at the time.
The base in question was HKIA; arguably the most valuable air base in all of Kabul, and 2nd most valuable in the entire nation.
I lived there myself for a few months, and it is huge; filled with transient barracks and massive motor pools that we shouldn’t be cleaning for the enemy. They knew this and were still ordered to making cleaning up the base, to hand over to the Taliban, top priority.
The order came from 51/5 General and SGTMAJ.
They made these marine sleep on the floor and benches of the gyms, and then clean up after themselves in the gym, after packing up to leave, as well as reflip vehicles into the right position to hand over to the Taliban.
It was also apparently a Navy Admiral that made them do this because 2/1 had apparently trashed a vehicle of his (not his POV mind you but a military vehicle merely assigned to him), so he took it out on them with this dangerous and wildly insulting, petty vengeance play, while he hid in the JOC doing no work.
I know you are [Redacted], but I am a soldier who spent time on HKIA, defending HKIA, operating missions, and living out of HKIA.
This is a disgrace to all of us who gave our bodies, energy and best years to the fighting forces for Afghanistan for them to treat these Marines like this.
All soldiers are my brothers, [Redacted]. Please stand up for them somehow, or contact whatever the whistleblowing group for them is.”

More to come in a series of future posts.


Front Line Nurse Speaks out

From the Desk of Shawn Bradley Witzemann – 23 August, 2021

Farmington, NM (TMI) — As the ongoing pandemic has ravaged all aspects of American life, nurses and other healthcare professionals have been praised by nearly everyone for their dedication to providing care in the face of uncertain risk, but vaccination mandates are now causing some front-line workers to question whether or not their lives have any worth at all.

According to transcripts (page 2, 3, 4) of an internal virtual town hall, obtained by Tribune and conducted by San Juan Regional CEO Jeff Bourgeois, hospital administrators have received “a flood of questions” regarding the State of New Mexico’s recent Public Health Order, which was released on August 17th.

During the meeting, Bourgeois explained that the vaccination would be mandatory for all “employees, volunteers, contract workers, students, licensed independent practitioners, and all members of the SJRMC Medical Staff” at both San Juan Regional Medical Center, and San Juan Health Partners.

Bourgeois went on to explain that exemptions (medical, disability, religion) could be applied for, but in the event that an exemption was granted, workers would need to submit to weekly COVID testing as a condition of employment.

Tribune was recently contacted by an SJRMC nurse who is refusing to take the vaccine, or submit to weekly testing, citing what they believe to be obvious discrimination.

“If people who are vaccinated can still get and transmit COVID, is this mandatory testing not discrimination against a particular group of people?”

Our source spoke to us with a condition of anonymity, for fear of unwanted retaliation, but agreed to go public in the event of termination.

Those who fail to obtain an exemption, or refuse to comply with SJRMC policy could lose their jobs as soon as Friday, August 27th; just ten days after the state mandate was announced.

“San Juan Regional is holding our livelihood over our heads,” our source explained, while heaping praise on coworkers who have been working tirelessly throughout the course of the pandemic, “I don’t understand the sudden mandate. We’ve been doing this for months on end, exposing ourselves to COVID patients. Now we get a mandate, with only 10 days to comply?”

Our source explained how over the course of the last 18 months, much of what has been officially publicized does not accurately reflect reality on the COVID floors of SJRMC.

“In the beginning, it didn’t matter what people died from. It didn’t matter what the actual cause was. If a patient presented with symptoms, it was COVID. Every death was classified as COVID.”

When we asked our source to explain why they thought that sort of practice would happen, it sadly validated the suspicions of many.

“A COVID diagnosis and the associated isolation results in an up-charge that the hospital can then bill to the Federal Government.”

We asked about the current shortage of nurses and other hospital staff.

“Each nurse is responsible for up to 7 patients. Almost always 6. Ideally, we would be taking care of 3,” they explained before once again, praising the floor manager, who “usually works nights, but is always willing to come in during days when there aren’t enough nurses available to handle the amount of patients.”

We asked what was being observed, in regards to an increase in COVID patients.

“ICU is full, but has almost always been that way. Right now, they are treating 2 COVID patients,” they explained, “Health officials like to use that number to say a hospital is at full capacity, but it’s a bit misrepresentative. We see a lot of people presenting for COVID, who are already on oxygen as a part of their daily lives, who are then admitted and treated with oxygen. It makes no sense. We see more young people than we did last year. Lots of flu and RSV like we would normally see during winter.”

We asked what role the Delta variant seemed to be playing in the number of patients.

“I asked one of our doctors how we could tell if someone had Delta. He said we couldn’t. We just send tests off to the state, but we have no idea at SJRMC what percentage of tests are actually run through genetic testing once they leave the hospital.”

Previous conversations Tribune has had with anonymous sources in the SJRMC lab corroborate this assessment.

We asked if the majority of patients were unvaccinated, as the New Mexico Department of Health claims.

“No. The majority of patients are vaccinated.”

We asked why our source thought this wasn’t being reported by official sources. “It doesn’t go along with their lies.” We asked why they thought some are hesitant to take the vaccine, but seem more willing to take Remdesivir (the experimental therapeutic which is currently authorized under emergency use).

“Most COVID positives just need some vitamin C and they start feeling better in no time at all. In the beginning with Remdesivir, the doctors would make a bit of a big deal in explaining to the patient that it was experimental, and have them sign off on a consent form. They don’t do that anymore. I don’t know why. We know it’s bad for the kidneys.”

We asked if the pending FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine would have any impact on our source’s decision to refuse the shot or weekly testing, and they said “absolutely not”, citing a lack of trust for the federal agency. According to a press release (1), the FDA granted full approval for the PfizerBioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, for those 16 years of age and older, while also extending the Emergency Use Authorization for the 12-15 year old age group, as well as a third booster shot. Our source’s stance on the matter remains unchanged.

“The hard part is looking at it, seeing all the negative consequences, and asking what is my life worth. I pray every day that the reports of negative reactions are wrong, but it doesn’t seem that way. I just want my fellow nurses and healthcare workers who don’t want to be forced to take this shot to know they aren’t alone. I want to get the word out. This is our community hospital. We need to stick together.”

Tribune reached out to SJRMC CEO Jeff Bourgeois, Mayor Nate Duckett, and San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari for comment on the matter, but all had yet to respond prior to the time of publishing.

UPDATE After publishing, our source contacted us and asked that we make the following clarification: “Not everyone who is here has had their vaccine, but we have had people that have been vaccinated, and vitamin c is not making everyone better but is given with other medications to treat COVID.”

UPDATE 2 – Tribune spoke with Sheriff Shane Ferrari this morning. 8/24. It was a wide ranging conversation, but his support for medical freedom was apparent. He has been working to pass on the appropriate resources to everyone who has been flooding him with questions. More details of the conversation will be published in a subsequent article.

1: FDA Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine | FDA

Gurus On the Lam, in Frisco, Colorado

Frisco, CO (ACTJ) – A friend of mine once gave me a magnet for my refrigerator. We can address that later. Thursday evening in Frisco may be of little value to those who haven’t been stranded alongside I-70, but this strange little town may as well be the nexus of the universe for a disillusioned American in the latter half of life. The days are a waste; filled with tourism of all conceivable manner. Fancy little fuck boys, rocking their grey sweatpants; masks underneath their chin, as they stroll up and down Main Street, looking for a chance to score with a fully vaccinated Caucasian female. Middle aged mountaineers, unloading their $5,000 bicycles, and preparing for a hard ride on paved trails that intersect with the municipality. Geriatric retirees, likely living out their remaining post-vaccine months, basking in the sunshine, 9,000 ft. Above sea level. It’s hard to tell who’s who anymore. With social distancing and mandatory masking a thing of the past, one must pay attention to more subtle clues. If clues cannot be gathered, it’s always easy to judge. The year is 2021, and facts are nearly irrelevant. It’s far better to pay attention to our feelings. Fish at the Silverheels Bar and Grill is no laughing matter. At nearly $30 per plate, it must only be assumed that the pallet should be pleased. Wasabi Salmon for the win. Tiger’s blood and Moscow Mules…..three may be enough for dinner, but eavesdropping a conversation could easily require more. Along came a guru. As best as I could gather, it seems as though our guru found his companions at the bar. Waxing eloquent about construction leadership, it seemed as though I was on the outskirts of the presence of a less talented version of Joel Osteen. The liquor was definitely doing the thinking, as he implored his captive college students to understand his vision. He’s “trying to develop a new future”. I can’t say I blame him. I’m just trying to drink Moscow Mules. Ramblings of a lunatic mind became more evident as he recalled his many bouts of depression……there was a certain earnestness to his voice; the type of begging that we hear on a Sunday television program. The desire to smack him upside the head was getting insatiable…..just in time for him to ask his female target: “do you exercise a lot?”. Fucking hell……here we go. All gurus are the same. God knows I’m no better. “The reason I brought it up. You know why I like you? I like to have the shit kicked out of me.” It’s like he could read my mind……I’d better be careful. He’s obviously a fucking Jedi. With the danger in this situation becoming increasingly apparent, its best to down the last Mule on the table, fret not for any unaccounted balloon knots, and motion to pay the tab. No good can come from prolonged exposure to this mad man’s drivel. I can barely hear him anyway. He tells his apprentices that they have “intrinsic kinetic energy.” His female apprentice says: “I wish” The guru responds: “You wish. That means there’s hope. I believe in hope.” It’s so fucking weird…. Now he says some female “keeps sending him crazy fucking things.”……I can certainly relate…sometimes. Hope is a dangerous idea. It’s definitely time to go….pay the bill before my urges to interact become all encompassing. He keeps saying “Sir”, emphasizing the consonants, as though they are but a prelude to some sort of linguistic orgasm…..heaven help us all. The guru is heating up from downtown. My server is lovely….she reminds me of the kind of woman that would’ve stolen my heart 20 years ago. Back when I had a heart. Back before I sold my soul…… Tip her well. It may be the last opportunity. The last thing I heard from the guru, as I made my way out the door….”when I was young, I didn’t know how to…..” Shut up. “Write drunk, edit sober” That’s what the magnet said. Hemingway be damned.