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Welcome to the Official Website of James Landrith
6 AM at McPherson Square
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Poetry - Poetry written in the 21st Century
Written by James Landrith   
Sunday, 19 April 2015

6 AM at McPherson Square

 

 

No one is up.

 

Just us workerbees.

 

Pink sky.

 

Cool, strong breeze.

 

The homeless men - and it is all men here - are huddled under their blankets.

 

A cabbie is on the corner with his lights off.

 

No one is saying anything.

 

Car horns are silent.

 

Lights keep changing on time.

 

DC is just waking up.

 

I will sleep soon...

 

 

Written near McPherson Square, Washington, D.C. - 4/19/2015 

Last Updated ( Sunday, 19 April 2015 )
 
It Is Time To Focus on Writing Again
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Blog, Commentary and Articles - Blogging
Written by James Landrith   
Sunday, 29 March 2015

It Is Time To Focus on Writing Again

by James Landrith 

 

Recently, I was checking in on old high school classmates and thinking about where they are now versus what they thought they'd be doing. I remembered that one of my senior year photo goals was to become a journalist. Well, I'm not a journalist in the classic sense, but I have been published in many places.

 

I've had a byline in INTERRACIAL VOICE, All Gulf Vets Magazine, The Multiracial Activist (full disclosure, I founded it), The Abolitionist Examiner (mine as well), Generator 21, Ethocofem, The Good Men Project, ETALKINGHEAD, ChronWatch, The Libertarian Enterprise, PopPolitics, Nashville Digest, L52, Liberty for All and others. I've also been on blogging mastheads for several collaborative weblogs to include the groundbreaking "Stand Down (No War Blog)" project. I was honored to have my thoughts included with that incredible group of thinkers.

 

After a recent lunch with an old colleague who creates awesome graphic novels and shares a name with an old WWF wrestler (different spelling, same pronunciation), I've realized that it is time to start putting out good content again and in many places, as I did once upon a time. I have that Newstex syndication deal, but my output is not enough to make it a decent source of revenue. Beginning this summer, I will begin writing on my first novel or three. I will also have my website upgraded to the latest version of Joomla with comments reactivated (and the archive restored to active duty for prior articles). I've failed to accomplish that in the past, but I believe that I've finally found a third party app that can handle the database upgrade to the current version without requiring advanced knowledge of SQL or a ridiculous amount of labor. The blog will no longer be an occasional place to cut and paste something I've written on FB or in another publication. It will be a daily writing outlet again on a wider variety of topics.

 

To start things off, I've been getting rid of distractions or old archives like LiveJournal and Tumblr. My Tumblr account has already been nuked. It was such a cesspool of trollls, haters and mob mentality. Good riddance. Once I've backed up my LiveJournal entries in Evernote, then LJ is gonna get it too. If I can even login to MySpace, my ancient profile there will be archived and then dispatched with extreme prejudice.

 

I intend to be ready to get it on again come summer. There will be an updated interface, a new look on the website and regular content. I'm getting excited again just writing about it.

 
Dead Trees and Pixels (or Creativity Is The Real Answer)
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Blog, Commentary and Articles - Books, Poetry and Short Stories
Written by James Landrith   
Sunday, 29 March 2015
Dead Trees and Pixels (or Creativity Is The Real Answer)
by James Landrith 

The e-books vs. dead tree media discussions and snobbery fascinates me. People frequently post self-congratulatory articles (from online versions of publications, of course) bemoaning the existence of e-books. I have a few thousand hard copy books in my own library. I read them. I use them as references. I have prized copies, autographed first editions and out-of-print titles I had to work to get. I have also been reading e-books since I got my first PDA in 1996. It was a Palm IIIx, which I upgraded to an xe by adding additional memory and a new OS. I've read hundreds of books and novellas on Palm, Apple and Nook devices for 19 years now. My eyes have not melted out of my head and I haven't participated in any book burnings as a result. I still have library cards for Fairfax County and DC and use them.

While there are definite concerns about author compensation models for digital publishing, that is a different issue from the existence and adoption of e-books as a medium. Those concerns are also present with some variations for print media compensation models.

I read both dead tree and e-books. I've started a book in paper and finished it digitally when the paper copy grew legs. I have many autographed books (Anne Rice, Orson Scott Card, Ashley Montagu, etc.) that have never been read in paper form. I've downloaded them digitally to read. That copy won't get dog eared and raggedy in my messenger bag. It will remain in excellent condition in my collection. Like Ron Burgundy, I also have many leatherbound books and keep those looking nice on the shelf. I've read some of those at home, but they don't come with me on the train or to lunch, where I do the majority of my reading.

Yeah, e-readers can experience power loss from the battery needing to be charged. Of course, most e-reader applications are accessible from multiple devices now, so if my Nook is lacking a charge, I can keep going on my iPhone or a PC. On the flip side, I can also leave a paper book on the train or bus or spill my coffee all over it resulting in the same problem. Neither format is immune from loss or damage. Well, the e-books are in my account and can be downloaded again and again and again as I desire, but they can be temporarily unavailable due to lack of a device. Both publishing formats have advantages and disadvantages. I still don't understand all of the animosity with regard to reading words on a screen. The paper does not make me smarter. The paper does not affect my ability to understand the story, message, character development or plot any better. Yes, I can smell an old book and appreciate the texture and age. I do enjoy picking up an old book and thinking about how many times it has been read by others over the years. Then again, I can also hit download and get started on another e-book when I finish the one I was wrapping up 15 minutes into my lunch break.

How are those who prefer paper copies being hurt by the existence of e-books? I fail to see the harm they personally are experiencing or the need for such a negative emotional response toward others who read e-books. True, a significant amount of titles are not available in paper form. Of course, many titles NEVER would have been available in paper form anyway due to publishing costs and the huge amount of scams and frauds present in the industry, so that issue is a bit more complicated than it seems.

The disadvantages for each format are not significant enough in either direction to cause me to get emotional and angry about the existence of either format. It makes no sense and I don't see how expending so much emotion is helpful anyway. I wonder if the same pearl-clutching and snobbery was at hand when publishing moved from hand-copied endurance trials to machine reproduction?

Honestly, I'd rather be writing and reading than getting upset about how others write and read. 

Be creative or enjoy creations. Stop being upset about how others create. Why is that so hard?
 
I Don't Care (or The Neo-Con Bergdahl Distraction)
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Blog, Commentary and Articles - Foreign Policy, Military and War
Written by James Landrith   
Wednesday, 25 March 2015
I don't know what Bowe Bergdahl did or when or how. I also don't care. It is being investigated and will be handled within the jurisdiction of the UCMJ. Whether they get it right or get it wrong will not mean a damned thing for veterans issues overall the next morning. 

It won't. It doesn't. It can't.

Obsessing over Bergdahl isn't fixing one damned thing I find important in my life. What he did and how he did it isn't getting a single fucking veteran a quicker medical appointment. It isn't getting anyone an expedited hearing on their disability claim. It won't result in any form of adult supervision with regard to the way military sexual trauma victims are treated.  People go UA and AWOL all the damned time in garrison and on deployments. It happens. What happens from here on with Bergdahl changes nothing for anyone else but him and his immediate family.

It isn't correcting decades of VA and DoD incompetence on military sexual assault. It isn't getting returning veterans the proper medical and mental health care they need. It isn't ensuring that future politicians are held accountable for elective wars that cost trillions and far too many lives.

I get it why so many neo-cons are frothing at the mouth and expending sooooo much emotion on this topic, even though the vast majority have never worn a uniform themselves. It is about their hatred of Obama for cutting a deal to get him back. They refuse to see him as the Commander in Chief (proving they are not actually comprehending the concept of military service in the first place and lack the discipline that it would require), while simultaneously pretending they are uber-patriots. They care because they are not pro-troops so much as they are pro-war and pro-killing and pro-destruction, so long as it is a Republican doing the honors.

The strange neo-con obsession over Bergdahl is not about patriotism or justice, but politics. When I see those same people spending their own time and money and blood and sweat and tears for veterans on a regular basis, then I'll fucking buy that they actually care. When I see them take the time to get knowledgeable on the issues facing the troops that they claim to "support", then I'll buy it. When I see them marching with veterans and calling foul on the abuses and broken promises of DoD and the VA, then I'll wonder if I've been wrong. 

I won't hold my breath. It ain't coming. Ever.
 
Foreign Policy Failure Everywhere
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Blog, Commentary and Articles - Foreign Policy, Military and War
Written by Sheldon Richman   
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Foreign Policy Failure Everywhere
by Sheldon Richman
 
If one tried to design a foreign policy to embroil Americans in endless conflicts that would otherwise be quite remote, one could hardly do better than recent presidents of the United States. What could you do that these men have not done to keep Americans mired in distant turmoil?
 
Signs of apparent failure abound while the ruling elite feigns ignorance of the connection between U.S. intervention abroad and widening regional wars. Despite President Obama’s assurances that America’s combat role in the unceasingly violent Afghanistan is over, we know it is not. ISIS expands under American and allied airstrikes, the best recruiting program the Islamists could want. There was no ISIS in Iraq or Syria before America invaded the former and called open season on the regime in the latter. In response, Obama seeks unlimited war power.
 
ISIS franchises are emerging throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Libya, which America and NATO “liberated” from Col. Gaddafi after prodding by then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, is in militia-ridden hell and is now a haven for ISIS sympathizers. Obama can’t make up his mind about what his war on ISIS means for his opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who also opposes ISIS and al-Qaeda.
 
Meanwhile in Europe, the U.S.-instigated coup in Ukraine, following the in-your-face expansion of NATO to the Russian border, has not had the intended effect of making Russian President Putin skulk to his corner in fear of the global hegemon. Instead, Putin capitalized on the explicit provocation to engineer the dubious annexation of Crimea and to aid separatists (or perhaps federalists) in eastern Ukraine, who are fighting neo-Nazis among others. Despite the current ceasefire, a war between nuclear powers Russia and the United States is not impossible.
 
Well done, Messrs. Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, and on back. Each faithfully pursued the geopolitical and economic interests embodied in the idea of American hegemony. We see the results: slaughter and incineration abroad (often by remote control), humanitarian catastrophe for homeless survivors, and American deaths and injuries far outnumbering those of the 9/11 attacks — themselves a response to decades of U.S.-inflicted and -sponsored killing and upheaval in the Muslim world. And then there are the fiscal costs to Americans.
 
Unsurprisingly, the ruling elite has no incentive to reconsider the premise of U.S. foreign policy, namely, that America can and should run the world. It is “our” manifest destiny and not to be questioned. Obama occasionally looks like the reluctant emperor, but whenever he appears to waver, someone — Mrs. Clinton or Samantha Power or Susan Rice — keeps him from “going wobbly” (as Mrs. Thatcher did with George H. W. Bush in 1990 after Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.)
 
We must acknowledge, of course, that what looks like failure to us Americans outside the privileged elite may not actually be failure for our overlords. After all, turmoil is integral to the ingenious political perpetual-motion machine. Turmoil furnishes the “threats” that then can be called on to justify the very policies that manufactured those threats in the first place. How clever! We’ll hear no more talk of a “peace dividend,” that dangerous idea — dangerous, that is, to Pentagon and intelligence budgets and government-contractor bottom lines — that nearly ran amok when the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact alliance imploded, 1989–1991. That was indeed a close one. Imagine the world’s only superpower without an enemy. People might wonder what’s the point of it all. Thank goodness there were years of intervention in the Muslim world in the bank, compound interest accruing.
 
While failure may in fact be success for the empire’s custodians and profiteers, the victimized foreign populations and American people have not been so fortunate, and there’s no end in sight.
 
If those populations and the American people are to get any relief, U.S. foreign policy will need deep rethinking from outside elite circles. That won’t be easy. As over two centuries show, American hegemony — “exceptionalism” — is in the nation’s political DNA. Even the opening of foreign markets to American producers was always seen as a government program backed by a navy with global reach.
 
It’s well past time for us to think about what horrifies our rulers: nonintervention.
 
Sheldon Richman is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org).
 
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