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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Name:
Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

A Teachable Moment

More needs to be said about the supposed Nazi salute by high school boys in Wisconsin. The notion that the boys would celebrate going to the prom by making a "Nazi salute" is the kind of absurdity that screams "Only in America." Since there is nothing unique about high school students in Baraboo, we can safely assume that the boys in the picture are similar to boys in every high school in Wisconsin, and indeed the entire U.S. If Baraboo students make "the Nazi salute" to celebrate going to a dance, then everyone makes the Nazi salute.

Of course, this assumes that raising one’s right arm is an automatic salute from one Nazi to another, or in this case, 50-or-so Nazis to Planet Earth. These boys were the football team, the basketball team, the baseball team, the track team, members of student government, volunteer organizations, the band, the school newspaper, the yearbook and likely some kind of computer club. And, according to the very stupid among us, Nazis.

The hubris of Nazi accusers is something that has grown slowly over the past 73 years, the time I have been alive on this planet. When I was young the focus was on the amazing U.S. victory over Germany and Japan in World War II. Technically it was "the Allies," but the dominant force was "American." Gradually the word "holocaust" entered our vocabulary, which then morphed into "The Holocaust."

There has been only one holocaust in human history, according to this narrative, and there will never be another. The Nazi concentration camps and murders of millions of Jews, Gypsies (Roma), disabled people, homosexuals, communists, dissenters and out-groups was reduced to "The Holocaust" of Jews.

The nation of Israel was admitted by the United Nations in 1949, largely due to guilt over the treatment of Jews in World War II. Gypsies didn’t get a country. Homosexuals didn’t get a country. Disabled people didn’t get a country. Communists had a country, the Soviet Union, before World War II, so they at least had somewhere to go.

Because of the displacement and oppression of the previous occupants of most of the land that became Israel, the new nation found itself increasingly unpopular in the world, to say nothing of fighting several wars and being the target of terrorism.

For a complexity of reasons the main backer of Israel has been the U.S. government, with about $6 billion annually being given in direct aid, and many billions in military aid over the years being granted. Diplomatic support has been equally important, enabling unchecked mistreatment and killing of Palestinians. It hasn’t mattered who is president or who has the majority in Congress, support for Israel is as predictable as the sun rising every morning.

In order to keep this support unquestioned, relentless effort has to be made to keep the American people compliant. Anyone who criticizes Israel is branded an "anti-Semite." Though the term "Semite" actually refers to almost all of the ethnicities of the Mideast and North Africa, it has been appropriated to apply to Jews only, as a way of adding an intellectual sophistication to the notion of hatred of Jews. "Jew-hater" sounds kind of crude, but "anti-Semite" carries a level of abstraction that elevates the accuser.

One of the interesting ironies of the anti Semite epithet is how easily it is used by "liberals" and/or "leftists," who would more often be critical of Israel. This is likely due in part to the fear of being called anti-Semitic themselves. Another reason is that many "leftists" and "liberals" are Jews.

Given this context, we are all vulnerable to being called anti-Semites. There is real hatred of Jews in this country, and worldwide. The attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh last November is an example of how real this hatred can be. It wasn’t the first time, and won’t be the last. It is understandable that there would be paranoia about hostility toward those of Jewish ancestry or religion.

In this maelstrom comes a "viral" picture of high school boys posing for a prom picture. Baraboo is about 30 miles northwest of Madison, Wisconsin - a town bursting with "leftists" on the high-horse, what I call the posturing "left," or whingeing "left." The geographic spread of this cohort extends for about commuting distance to Madison, which includes Baraboo. Combine this cohort with Madison’s local TV news - what I call “airhead news,” and you have a perfect mix for scapegoating innocent teenage boys.

As was reported in the New York Times (all the news that's fit to print), the superintendent of the Baraboo School District decided not to punish the boys, for technical reasons. This bureaucratic passivity implied guilt, but gave the bureaucrat a way to have it both ways. Punishing the boys would likely result in the superintendent looking for a new job. Saying they were innocent would invite scrutiny from airhead news, meaningless though it may be.

So far only one parent has stood up for the boys. Then came threats. Idle threats they bluff with scorn, suicide remarks are torn…(Dylan, “It’s Alright Ma, I’m only Bleeding”). As time passes more people are likely to speak up, realizing that this hysteria is an attack on their children, and ultimately on themselves. If anyone can accuse your children of being Nazis, then everyone can be accused of anything under the sun.
So, as the posturers have been saying, this is a "teachable moment" (meme, cliché). Just what is teachable is the question. According to the posturers, the teachability is what they have to teach, that hate is bad (duh). What is really teachable, though, is the vulnerability we all have in a mass society to manipulation by concentrated messaging on the Internet, television, newspapers, radio, and any medium where the many can be influenced by the few. With the right messaging, anyone can become president. Or governor. Or a Nazi.
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Here's a song. Here's another. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The BeatlesOriginal version. Another from The Beatles. The Corner Girls. Bobby Freeman. The Drifters. Leo Sayer. Orleans. Leonard CohenDavid Bowie. The Kinks. Abba. Martha and the Vandellas. Little EvaJohnny Cash. Jerry Garcia. Same song, clearer sound. Kacey Musgraves. Peter ToshThe Who. More from The Who. Here's song for the Baraboo students (and their parents). Here's a song for the presumed teachers of the teachable moment. Alternate version. Cat Stevens.

I apparently am not the only dissenter to the hysteria over the prom photo. Here's another view, from the Investor's Business Daily. More typical is this, from USA Today. Some background on the silliness can be found here. A view from a veteran of the liberation of the death camps can be seen here.

The mayor of Baraboo showed himself to be a true politician,  buying in to the narrative of the Nazi salute.

Here's the editorial about the Baraboo picture from Madison's airhead TV news editorialist. He can be depended on for meaningless editorials every weeknight.

Local TV news isn't the only airhead news. Salon has a suggestion for network TV news organizations.

Here's an example of national network media malfeasance.

Friday, December 21, 2018

US of A, The Country That Falls For Anything

It has been over a month since the news first appeared that high school boys in Baraboo, Wisconsin posed for a prom picture waving in what could be construed as a "Nazi salute." The picture was taken in May, so it took six months for the "scandal" to develop.

It should have been obvious to anyone looking at the picture that the boys weren’t making a Nazi salute, but, as was emphasized on local television news, the picture went "viral." Somehow in recent years the word "viral" has become a magical term, transforming ordinary events into hyperphenomena, hysterical incidents that take on a life of their own far beyond what actually takes place.

In all the hoopla about the picture not one media outlet bothered to explain what "viral" means, or how much attention is required for something to qualify as viral. Would 100 views be considered viral? 1,000? 10,0000? 100,000? 1,000,000? Who knows? One thing is for sure, though. No viral, no story.

Wisconsin's outgoing governor Scott Walker fell for the hysteria, calling the boys "idiots." Even in Baraboo the virality of the picture transcended reality. Meetings were held to discuss "racism," because to some Baraboo is obviously a racist town. Madison's weekly newspaper The Isthmus tried to be more even-handed, but still supported the belief that the boys were making a Nazi salute.

Yesterday a local editorialist mentioned Baraboo in his latest nothing editorial, lending his nothing credibility to the hysteria.

Last week someone pasted "anti-Semitic" flyers on the local middle school. Proof of racism. Maybe. More likely it was someone with mental health problems. Crazy people come out of the woodwork at such times, and anti-semitism itself can be seen as a form of mental unwellness, so there’s no need for further hysteria.

In all this virality and hysteria I wonder if anyone has stopped to consider the effect of the hysteria on the boys in the picture. The Isthmus article mentioned that acceptances at colleges have been withdrawn for some of the boys. Such is the power of mass hysteria. They will all have to live with the accusation of being Nazis for the rest of their lives. All because of mass hysteria. One of the boys explained the picture and apologized for the misunderstanding, though the misunderstanding wasn't his. His mother was at the photo session, and gave a similar explanation, to no avail. The photo went viral, and that's all that matters in this age of frivolous truth.

The boys will be fine. Some are likely already in college, and others will be away at school next year. They won't forget what they have been through, but they have learned what it is to live in modern USA, with its hysterical social media, its casual disrespect for anyone and everyone, its loose relationship with truth, and its overall sleaze.

America, the country that falls for anything, is headed into an era that has never been seen before, with climate change bringing on one disaster after another, the world economic order about to fall, and resources like water, land and air becoming more defiled and precious at an increasing rate. Maybe having been subjects of mass hysteria will make them better able to deal with what lies ahead. We can hope.
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Here's a song. Here's another. John Prine. Our national anthem. Hank Snow.

Mass hysteria is nothing new. Scottish journalist Charles Mackay wrote the book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds in 1841. In it he tells of some incredibly stupid and oft-hilarious incidents of mass hysteria. It is a book that belongs in everyone's possession. The Trump phenomenon would be easier to understand from a casual read.

I wrote a couple of letters about the "Nazi salute" farce to local newspapers. This one was in response to our soon-to-be ex-governor calling the Baraboo students idiots. They edited-out the best line: "Good riddance, idiot. Don't let the Capitol door hit you in the arse on the way out." I didn't notice any editing in this letter. Maybe they did some good.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Mobsters

I believe Christine Blasey Ford. I don't "believe the woman," as in following a meme, though women making accusations of sexual assault are almost always telling the truth. I believe this exact person. She told what really happened. Brett Kavanaugh lied. He attempted to rape her. The reason I believe the way I do is intuitive - she resonates as truthful. He doesn't.

There are plenty of other reasons. Kavanaugh was nominated by our illegitimate president and serial assaulter of women Donald J. Trump. Trump also insists Kavanaugh is innocent, as he does about himself.

Another reason to believe her is Kavanaugh's demeanor at the Thursday hearing. He was belligerent, disrespectful, enraged and evasive. He tried to distract the senators from the topic at hand with accusations of a "Democratic" search and destroy mission, revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and of lying in wait with charges of sexual assault.

Nice try, there, Kavanaugh. You only showed yourself to be a paranoid, unstable political hack. You should never be a judge at any level, much less the Supreme Court. If the FBI does a reasonably thorough investigation of your past you very likely will no longer be a Federal judge. You can hack somewhere else.

One positive result of this debacle will likely be a recognition of the "Republican" party for what it is: a criminal organization. By reducing the judicial appointment process to a reward system for political hacks the "Republicans" have given the country a peek into their true nature as criminal sociopaths.

I can safely say that the “Republican” party is a criminal organization for four very good reasons: voter suppression, election theft, crony capitalism and climate change denial. Voter suppression and election theft go hand-in-hand, as does gerrymandering of congressional districts. The oft-repeated claim that both sides gerrymander does not lessen its criminality.

Crony capitalism – the regulatory and tax favoritism granted to corporations that pay - in the form of bribes - campaign contributions, junkets, vacations, gifts, jobs for relatives, and sometimes the blatantly illegal transfers of cash - is practiced by both parties, but to a much greater degree by the “Republicans.” That “Democrats” are also guilty of crony capitalism again does not make it any less criminal. It just points out that we have a corrupt political system.

The worst, and most revealing of "Republican" criminality is climate change denial. The entire planetary ecosystem is at risk, including homo sapiens - humans, yet "Republicans" insist that there is no evidence that fossil fuels are causing the planet to heat up. "Republicans" are paid by the fossil fuel industry and its collaborators in related industries, such as automobile manufacturing and provision of electrical power. It has nothing to do with ideology and all to do with raw, sociopathic criminality. They are paid to deny that climate change exists, and they can win elections with more advertising money.

We already have a rigged Supreme Court, with "Republican" appointees having carried the majority for the past few decades. Currently the court is tied at 4 apiece between "Democrats" and "Republicans," so one more will make it securely "Republican" again. It will be interesting to see if the FBI investigation turns up anything about Kavanaugh. I suspect it will. It may not be enough. The mobsters want very badly for their man to be on the court. They likely will get their wish.
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This album is appropriate. The Godfather of SoulHere's another song. And another. And this. The Beatles. Johnny Cash. Randy Newman. Bob Dylan. Roy OrbisonNeil Young. Dave Mason. Peter Tosh. The Grateful Dead.

Here's a story from the past about Trump's gangster nature. Here's another. The New Republic calls Trump a mobster president. For a story on Trump's ties to organized crime, click here. Let's not leave his supporters out. Here's some background on how "Conservatives" go along with Trump. "Republican" Senate staffers kept Deborah Ramirez from testifying about Kavanaugh.

History repeats itself.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Trump's Tipping Point

The tipping point has been reached. Trump is now in decline, a rapid free-fall that we have all been expecting, except, of course, his "base." Few expected he would become president in the first place, given his history of fraud, spousal abuse, philandering, sexual predation, rudeness, bullying and complete ignorance and inexperience in political office or governance.

I didn't think he would last this long. Any number of scandals before and during his presidency should have prevented him from being "elected" or of having to resign, but his belligerence and intimidation have so far insulated him from accountability.

It was only a matter of time. The Mueller investigation, slow and steady, has been zeroing in on Trump since before it was the Mueller investigation - when James Comey was FBI Director, managing the probe until Trump fired him. Trump thought the fix was in when he appointed Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to replace Comey, but Democrats, led by their own soon-to-be disgraced senator Al Franken, maneuvered Sessions into promising to recuse himself from the inquiry. At that point Trump's fate was sealed. Though he is a criminal sociopath with an amazing level of hubris and ability to bully and lie, he is not very bright, and Robert Mueller is a master law enforcement official at every level. Trump has acted like a guilty man since the subject of collusion with the Russian government first surfaced.

The coup de grâce will be when Trump's sponsor Vladimir Putin realizes he backed a loser, and releases whatever information he has about the president to Wikileaks. This presumably will include the oft-rumored "pee-pee tape." Putin can discard Trump like a piece of refuse, and likely will. At least one observer is suggesting that Putin has already turned on Trump.

Trump has no friends. He does have people who claim to be his friends, but they abandon him the minute their freedom is in jeopardy. Now that Mueller is wrapping up his investigation we will likely see a mass departure, staffers quitting and turning evidence. For now, they are busying themselves in denials that they are not the elusive "Anonymous," in a strange inverse of the Spartacus legend, ludicrously declaring "I am not 'Anonymous.'"

It will be ugly, but we needed this lesson. We have allowed a politics of corruption, greed, grandstanding, scapegoating, bigotry and crony capitalism to fester and grow rampantly in recent decades. Both “parties” are guilty of this, but the “Republicans” are the more guilty, blatantly skewing reward to the wealthy while marginalizing the weaker and less well-off at every turn. They are as sociopathic and criminal as Trump, and we need to recognize this. We are a nation run by criminals – the worst sort of criminals – those who prey at the public trough while increasing the suffering of millions here and in the rest of the world.

There are many aspects of the Trump tipping point, but Hurricane Florence may be the one that sends him downhill quickly. The response he will best be known for is his attempt to re-underestimate the number of deaths in Puerto Rico in last year's Hurricane Maria. All he cares about is how he appears to the public. He's out of his element in crises. A carnival barker in the tradition of P.T. Barnum, Trump has no skill, or interest, really, in managing an emergency response.

One would think that Trump would want to avoid any reminder of Hurricane Maria. His way of lending assistance was to throw paper towels into a crowd of people in San Juan. It was all a joke to him, a chance to clown it up for the TV cameras. If anything, it shows not only how stupid he is, but how utterly callous and cruel he is as well. This is what we have for president of our country.

The contrast between the size, power and devastation of Hurricane Florence and the narcissistic, petty and ultimately weak President of the United States couldn't be more stark. It should be a wake up call for all Americans, though we shouldn't have needed one. He never should have been president. Indeed, Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter are the only decent presidents we have had since, hmm, Franklin Roosevelt, and they weren't so great either. Maybe one positive result of all this is that the public will reexamine "Conservatism," which is the worst scam perpetrated on the American people in my lifetime. I wrote about it recently in a letter to Madison's Capital Times, but it got lost in the ideological shuffle, unacceptable heresy to the religion of "left" versus "right." C'est la vie. Time will change everything. Our unsustainable infinite growth economic system has now become obviously unsustainable. The only question is when the obvious will become too obvious to deny.
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Here's the "I Am Spartacus" video. Here's a song. Here's another. Van Morrison. The Waterboys. More from the Waterboys. Donovan. More from Donovan. Bob Dylan. Another from Dylan. Here's the first step in making change. This is the next step. Peter Tosh. Jimmy Cliff. Billy Bragg. The Grateful Dead. David Bowie. More from David Bowie.

Here's a voter suppression update from Rolling Stone. Here's an update about climate change.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

This Changes Everything

The most telling thing from Trump's meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin was in the various handshakes. With everyone else - at least everyone he sees as a political adversary - Trump pulls the other person in, a power move meant to show his dominance.

Two previous shakees, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and French president Emmanuel Macron, pulled back, tussling comically with Trump, who dragged the handshaking on in a ridiculous contest of faux manhood.

What this ritual showed is that Trump didn't dare engage in handshaking macho with Putin. He showed great deference. He was on good behavior with Putin - at least good behavior to Putin. He showed similar good behavior to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, but not the deference he gave to Putin.

This changes everything. It has been plainly obvious to anyone with reasonable intelligence that Trump is a criminal sociopath who colluded with the Russian government - Putin's government - to gain enough advantage against Hillary Clinton to "win" the 2016 presidential election. He acts like a guilty man. His pleas of "No collusion" are too much too often. He may receive the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a courtroom, but he's not in a courtroom, and we can presume whatever we want, and the public evidence indicates that he is a guilty as a man can be.

Trump has long been eager to ingratiate himself to Putin, but now he has done it on a world stage, with no distractions and no ambiguity. His two-hour private meeting with Putin is highly suspicious, and it is entirely consistent with Trump's suspicious behavior before, during and after the election. He is a criminal, and he actively sought the help of Russian hackers and meddlers in order to become President of the United States. His presidency is illegitimate, and for the crime of stealing an election he should be prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned for the rest of his misspent life.

His guilt of course doesn't rest on his polite handshakes with Vladimir Putin. There's plenty of evidence we know about. And, as the Mueller investigation progresses, so does the trajectory towards a collusion charge. The momentum Trump has been building since he announced his campaign in 2015 is now in rapid reverse. He is through. As I have been saying since he assumed office, it is only a matter of time. #YesCollusion #GoneByLaborDay #ItIsTimeToRemoveTrumpFromOffice
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Here's a song. Here's another. And another. Trump might appreciate the irony of this song.

Update, July 18: Someone else is referring to Trump as a sociopath. Madison's local "leftist" radio station played the July 17 interview with former CIA intelligence analyst Melvin Goodman. He calls Trump a sociopath. It still goes in one ear and out the other for almost everyone, largely due to the need to look at everything in terms of "ideology," and it obviates the ego need to whinge and prattle on endlessly about what Trump thinks and believes.

It is easier to call him a racist (or r-r-r-racist), fascist, nationalist, nativist, misogynist, homophobe and "right-winger." Ahh, yes, Donald J. Trump, the ideologue, the man of political philosophy, the deep thinker. These people, of which there are plenty right here in Madison, never question why they get absolutely nowhere in their whinging. Indeed, whinging is something of a one-upping contest here. It can get pretty intense, and of course goes nowhere, always nowhere.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Get Out! Now!

We should have seen this coming. Donald J. Trump, criminal sociopath, was inevitably going to do something beyond the pale, beyond any acceptable norms of human civilization. Of course, it could be argued that everything Trump does is beyond the pale, but some pales are more beyond than others.

Still, I find it a bit puzzling that there is so much outrage about Trump’s border security locking up children. Where was the outrage about the children maimed and killed in our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq? Where was the outrage when the resulting insurgencies led to so many civilian deaths, including thousands of children? Where was the outrage when the further resulting ISIS was kidnapping, raping and murdering people wantonly, including many children? Where was the outrage when American military and CIA personnel were torturing prisoners, some of them to death?

There was some outrage, but not like what we are experiencing now. I wonder if it would be as great if it were someone other than Trump. If George W. Bush – or George H.W. Bush – were president, would the outrage be as intense? To me, both Bushes are pretty revolting, but not by a long shot are they as revolting as Trump. The estimated number of children that died under Bill Clinton's sanctions against Iraq is 227,000, far less than those killed by his successor, but Clinton was also a terrible president. He deserves special condemnation for his phony and ruthless eight years in office. His wife would likely have been no better, and maybe even worse.

Torture is its own rewardProximity might explain the outrage. The children being imprisoned by Trump are at our southern border, much closer than Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Guantanamo, our main torture site, is close, but the torture was (and presumably is) done in secret, behind closed doors. Out of sight, out of mind.

Maybe that’s it. The atrocities of starving and murdered children in Yemendone with American weapons, logistics and intelligence aid – have elicited little outrage here. Trump could cease his support for the imposed kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the purveyor of the violence, instantly. Revolting, ghoulish Trump. Not much chance of relief for the people of Yemen. Not much outrage here. Too far away.

There is another explanation. Immigration and border security is an inflamed issue in the U.S. these days. Trump is the same criminal sociopath in regard to immigrants as he is to starving children in Yemen. A sociopath couldn’t care less about the suffering of anyone other than himself – not even his own children. As the Mueller Investigation closes in on him, none of us will be surprised when he sells out his offspring to save himself. Not even his “base” will be surprised. They are full partners in Trump’s perfidy.

Trump is who he is. He will be gone soon enough. Then what? As a people we have had a long descent, covering approximately my lifetime, now 73 years. Since I have been alive we have dropped atomic bombs on two foreign cities – killing many children. We firebombed Tokyo and Dresden, killing thousands, including many children. We have engaged in five wars of aggression in distant places around the planet, against one country - Iraq - twice. A much smaller and poorer country, Vietnam, defeated us. We should have learned something from that defeat. Millions of Vietnamese died in that war, many thousands of them children.

What did we learn? Wait a while. We can invade someone else in a few years. Meanwhile, we can assassinate a democratic leader or two, overthrow a few governments, and prop-up dictators around the planet. Most particularly, in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where the refugees at our southern border emanate from. Had we minded our own business - and had our corporate parasites minded, hmm, domestic business, none of this crisis would be happening. The root of the refugee crisis lies in the criminal policies that have been devised in Washington, D.C. for the past one-hundred-or-so years.

So the outrage about the detention of children, though justified, is a bit disingenuous. It is selective outrage. There is more outrage about Trump’s cruelty to refugees at the border than there is about the cruelty millions of minority children in America are experiencing every day, including violence, hunger, homelessness, inferior education and lack of opportunity. For children of conquered Americans – the Native peoples – it is even worse. Where’s the outrage?

Maybe some good will come of this. The country is getting an education. About Trump and his henchpersons, for sure. About "Republicans" as well. They are climbing over each other, grandstanding about the detained children, but they are almost to a man or woman, criminal sociopaths just like Trump. The "Democrats," by and large, are only slightly better. Some of them are decent human beings, but most are money and power-grubbing sociopaths just like their “Republican” counterparts.

How about the rest of us, the "voters?" These sociopathic politicians didn’t come from the Moon. They come from us. They are us. We can blame them all we want, but they are not discontinuous from the public they came from and represent. They are us. It is we who commit such violence against children around the world. We are child abusers. When we see on the news that some ordinary person is arrested for possession of child pornography we shouldn’t be surprised. He (almost always) is only marginally different from the rest of us.

What we might be able to learn from all this is that we have a fundamentally flawed and disintegrating social order. We need to form the intention to reverse this decline while we still can. We can start by getting rid of Trump. He has had his chance, and he blew it. He only does harm, and he has already done way too much of it. It is time for him to go.

How about a march on the White House? A "Get Out!" march. Millions carrying signs that say "Get Out! Now!" On a Wednesday, not on a Saturday, when Trump is at his golf resort Mar-a-Lago. Sunup to sundown. Or until he leaves. It is time for him to go.
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Here's a song. Arlo Guthrie and Hoyt AxtonHere's another. Tom PettyIris DeMent. John Prine. Jackson Browne. Steve Miller. OdettaFor Trump. Another for Trump. Here's Trump's new theme song, along with this. And thisJohn Trudell. Another from John Trudell. Michael Murphey.

Here's a song just for the heck of it, something worth hearing. And this. This too. One more.

Jack White and Pearl Jam.

In 1935 Marine Major General Smedley Butler, a two-time Medal of Honor winner, gave a speech and wrote a book with the title "War is a Racket." He had been involved in U.S. incursions in Central America, as well as other places around the planet. War is still a racket.

Some background on Trump's mental state. It is against the self-declared official narrative of the corporate and quasi-corporate (PBS, NPR) media to question Trump's mental health or his character. They will only raise factual questions about his "policies." The reason they self-limit in this way is that their careers and pundity depend on creating elaborate intellectual discussions of what Trump "thinks" and what he "believes," as if he were a normal person. Which raises a question. Are these people "normal?"

Some might think I am being hyperbolic or rhetorical when I say that Trump (and virtually ALL "Republicans") is a  criminal sociopath, but this summary of sociopathic behaviors should resonate.

Here's something curious. Trump voters live in areas of the country that have the highest rates of opioid addiction. Maybe Trump is like methadone, a milder form of dope that can substitute for harder drugs. Or maybe people take both Trump and opioids for a more intense high.

Some further reading from The Nation. And this, about how corporations are profiting from Trump's immigration "policy." Some history about our cold-hearted immigration actions.

Here's a brief history of U.S. meddling in Central America.

This history of United Fruit Company's (Chiquita Banana) bloody history in Central America is deeply interwoven with U.S. military intervention.

Ralph Nader asks a pertinent question.

I made a few hashtags:  .

Given that everything relates to everything else, the behavior of Americans in other spheres than war and immigration can be seen as holographic. Such as in the bicycle racing culture. I wrote about one aspect of this culture earlier this month.

Separating migrant families is as American as apple pie.
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Update, June 28: Here's an interesting development.

The sheer incompetence and malice of the Trump regime is evidenced in this interview with New Yorker writer Jonathan Blitzer. Here's his article on the subject in the June 21 edition of the New Yorker.
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Update, July 14: I'm not the only person questioning the integrity of the "Democrats." Here's another view.

A few posts ago I said Trump's election is illegitimate. I don't need to take credit for being the first to say this, but I'm glad someone else agrees.

Here's reason enough for writing this blog.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

It's All Bullshit

When the first Bush president was building public support for his invasion of Iraq in 1990 a friend asked me what I thought about the war talk. I said "It’s all bullshit." He was unconvinced, and countered with "Don’t you think Saddam Hussein should be killed?" I replied by saying "Well, I suppose there are a lot of people on this planet who deserve to be killed, but that doesn’t mean that we need to go around invading their countries."

I explained further that the fomenter of this invasion, President of the United States George H. W. Bush, was a criminal who was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal and the phony invasion of Grenada during the Reagan presidency, and the invasion of Panama in his own presidency. He was likely involved in the "October Surprise" collusion with Iranian hostage takers in 1980 that gave us the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

I also reminded him of the "Gulf of Tonkin Resolution" that expanded our involvement in Vietnam. Of Richard Nixon’s claim to have a "secret plan" to end the Vietnam war. Of Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia. I further explained that you could tell by the way that Bush was talking about Saddam Hussein that he was lying. His whiny tone of voice, his fake self-righteousness and his unwillingness to speak truthfully about the circumstances that led to Iraq’s attack on its neighbor Kuwait.

Partners in crime. Or is it strange bedfellows? To read about Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein, go to this URL: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/index.htmIraq had been our "ally" in the region, a bulwark against Iran, its neighbor to the east and our enemy of choice after the overthrow of the brutal Shah. Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president, was installed in office in 1963 with the help of the CIA, and had received arms from us over the years, including chemical weapons.

The conquering heroIt turned out that the first invasion of Iraq was based on lies, and was a precursor to the next one. Saddam Hussein was accused by the second Bush president of harboring Al Qaeda terrorists – a lie – and of possessing weapons of mass destruction – another lie – which he intended to use to attack the United States – also a lie.

The twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed, and the Pentagon was severely damaged by 19 Arab men, mostly citizens of Saudi Arabia, but the George W. Bush regime (not to be confused with the George H.W. Bush regime) chose to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. We still have troops in Afghanistan, with no prospect of leaving any time in the foreseeable future. We made a mess of Iraq, and it is still a mess, with frequent terrorist bombings, and much of the country in ruins. Most of the Mideast is in turmoil, and the entire region is a powder keg ready to explode.

Enter Donald Trump, criminal sociopath, purveyor of fraud, treasonous colluder with a foreign adversary, proud sexual predator, a man completely devoid of moral scruples or ethical standards. He withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear "deal" (everything is known as a deal in the Trump era), pretty obviously to get revenge on his predecessor Barack Obama, who humiliated him at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011.

Obama with Benjamin Netanyahu
The other part of withdrawing from the arrangement is to please Israel, particularly its corrupt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made Iran his enemy of choice, and who despises Obama. He has been pushing for war with Iran for years.

The Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, in one of his triumphal uniformsIran used to be a U.S. ally. Or, more accurately, the ruling regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was a U.S. ally. He was installed in power through a coup d'état in 1953, engineered by American and British spy agencies. He ruled with an iron fist, torturing and killing his opponents for almost three decades (with U.S. help). Then came his downfall, and in 1979 he was overthrown in a revolution, which resulted in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Such is the mess of the Mideast, largely a creation of Western powers, chiefly the U.S., Britain and France. This mess is with no small participation from Israel, which didn't exist as a nation before 1948, when it was created as a "Jewish" state when occupying British forces withdrew. It has been on a war footing since its inception, and its treatment of the area's displaced inhabitants has been atrocious.

Now that Donald Trump has taken the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear agreement, Israel's Netanyahu is emboldened, and, as Time Magazine observed, attacked Iranian forces in Syria one hour after the deal was rescinded.

So here we are again, in another episode of it's all bullshit. I was born at the end of World War II, which should have been lesson enough that war is to be avoided. Instead, those who decide these things have been fomenting war after war ever since. Some of them have been "hot" wars, one (and maybe a new one) was a "cold" war, some have been by proxy - providing backing to others to do the fighting, and some have been by intimidation, subversion, overthrow, embargo and various forms of extortion. They have all been bullshit.

There is and will be a heavy price for all these bullshit wars. In pundit and national security state talk it is known as "blowback." An example would be the 911 attacks, blowback from the first invasion of Iraq. Another would be ISIS, blowback from the second invasion of Iraq. Blowback from the invasion of Afghanistan is the cost, estimated to be over a trillion dollars, almost 2500 "coalition" deaths, and no end in sight. Much more blowback awaits us.

Another heavy price for all these bullshit wars is that when our unsustainable economic system starts to unsustain, the bloated military budget will one of the first to fall. It has comfortably risen ever since the end of World War II, when we were world champs. The Pentagon was built, and we were off to the races. The "Defense" budget is so huge, almost $700 billion annually, that our economy depends on it. Marxist economists Paul Sweezy and Paul Baran observed decades ago that the "Defense" budget has to increase annually in order for the weapons manufacturers to stay in business.

Meanwhile, of course, the planet is getting hotter, and Trump has taken the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, pretending there is no such thing as climate change. The only question at this point is how much longer the powers-that-be can pretend. Given that it has been all bullshit my entire life, it can safely be said that they will continue to be all bullshit until the bitter end. And bitter it will be. Much more bitter than bullshit.
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Here's a song. Here's another. Another. Creedence. Edwin StarrR.E.M. Bob Dylan. Johnny CashJimi Hendrix. John PrineThe Lovin' SpoonfulThe Grateful Dead. Arthur Brown. Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Garcia, Carlos Santana, a few others.

Here's a reminder of the Bush II era, if you can stand to look. Putting it together was a grueling process.
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Update, June 21: Here's a variation on the theme of collapse from Chris Hedges.