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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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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.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Es ist Sie!

(Revised December 2, 2004)

Several years ago there was a documentary on public television that showed the liberation of a concentration camp in Germany at the end of World War II. It was pretty grisly, with piles of dead bodies, and the living looked more dead than alive. At one point in the show the people from the nearby town were assembled and forced to view the depredation that had taken place. The Bürgermeister, or mayor, and the townspeople as well, claimed no knowledge of what went on inside the camp. They were addressed by the American Army commander, who said to them, “Es ist Sie!” ("It is you!" "Sie" is pronounced "Zee.") He repeated this several times in the course of his speech, telling the people that it was they that enabled the Nazi regime to do its dirty deeds. It was they that allowed the concentration camps to flourish while they made money from the camps’ forced labor, and from providing goods and services to the facilities and their henchmen.

We are now at a point in our own country where it is time to say “Es ist Sie!” I read with revulsion the article about Fallujah by Anwaar Hussain in the Pak Tribune yesterday, and it became clear that the ruling regime of the U.S. is on a path that is rivaling Hitler for cravenness and murderous criminality. There are two noticeable differences. One is that the Bush regime doesn’t have an ideology that covers as much cultural infrastructure as Hitler did. “Neoconservatism” is not much of an ideology, “leftist” protestations notwithstanding. It’s really just Pablum for the romantics and obsessively intellectual. The essence of the Bush agenda is purely criminal: Control the world’s oil, and control the American people through a corporate national security state. A tidy bit of control of the rest of planet Earth wouldn’t hurt their Ernst Stavro Blofeld scheming either.

The other main difference is that Bush himself is not a very appealing or charismatic figure, and has a lot of questionable criminal baggage in his background. Try as they might, his promoters cannot erase his history of animal abuse, military desertion, drug and alcohol addiction, and corporate crime. There is nothing in Bush's character formation that indicates that any character formation actually took place. By all evidence, quite the opposite is true. Given the questionable nature of his placement in office, his lack of skill with the English language, and his contempt for rational thought, there is not much for even the gullible American public to revere or admire. It is highly unlikely that such a person would have much hope of being called "Der Führer," "Il Duce," "Generalissimo," or "Caesar."

Another way in which the Bush crime spree is different is in its believers. They are threefold: criminal corporate sponsors/beneficiaries, religious opportunists euphemistically referred to as "The Christian Right," and mean and/or angry and/or afraid and/or unintelligent people. They are not as homogeneous as the supporters of Hitler, and their loyalty to Bush is not very reliable. Should he fail in their eyes in one way or another, he could be in serious trouble.

This regime will fail. We can succumb to “The sky is falling” hysteria about the Bush crime family and proudly proclaim “I fear the Bush Administration,” but that kind of thinking only gives them power. We are in for a hard time. That much is certain. The combination of impending economic collapse, war mongering, and police statism will make for strife and suffering the likes of which this country has never seen. But we can save this country, and in the process save the planet if we keep our wits about us. And it should be kept in mind that this criminal operation is going to lose in the end, a matter of absolute certainty.

The place to begin the downfall of the Bush crime family is to bring shame upon them. They should be told “Es ist Sie!” Everyone who works for the Bush crime family should be told “Es ist Sie!” Everyone who supports them should be told “Es ist Sie!” Everyone in the corporate news and entertainment industry should be told “Es ist Sie!” Everyone in the fundamentalist “Christian” evangelical “Religious Right” should be told “Es ist Sie!” Everyone in the arms industry should be told “Es ist Sie!” Everyone in the Republican party and almost everyone in the Democratic party should be told “Es ist Sie!” The commanders in Iraq who go along with the schemes of the Bush crime family should be told “Es ist Sie!” Torturers and perpetrators of atrocities should be told “Es ist Sie!” Everyone who mindlessly swallows the lies and hatred of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and countless other talkers of trash should be told “Es ist Sie!” Everyone who voted for Bush should be told “Es ist Sie!” Everyone who helped rig the presidential election should be told “Es ist Sie!” John Kerry, for the lame and Bush-lite campaign he waged for President, should be told “Es ist Sie!” Tony Blair should be told “Es ist Sie!” José María Aznar should be told “Es ist Sie!” Rupert Murdoch should be told “Es ist Sie!” And of course, Arnold Swarzenegger should be told "Es ist Sie!"

Along with shaming, there are many things to do. We should be talking to people like Alexander Solzenitzen, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Václav Havel, Lech Walesa, and Aung San Suu Kyi about how to bear up under authoritarian rule. We are unused to it here, and Americans are a bit soft when it comes to enduring the kinds of hardships the rest of the planet has had to deal with. We would do well to develop an attitude of forbearance and passive as well as active resistance. We will all need a good sense of humor.

We can stop buying the products of the corporate money changers. They can be chased from the temple by economic non-cooperation. Buying fair-trade, local, organic, vegetarian, and sustainable products are only the start, and are practiced by a great many of us already. Buying less is another great way to disengage from the corporate money changing merry-go-round. Investing in sustainable, distributive businesses helps break the grip of the corporate state. Don’t go to Disney World. Don’t fly. Take the train. It’s a great way to travel, and you don’t have to put up with invasive, creepy searches. The corporate "news" media should not be given any sustenance. We can avoid watching and listening to them, and avoid giving money to their sponsors. Interviews should only be given to alternative media outlets. The same goes for NPR. They are becoming more like the Soviet era Pravda and Izvestia every day.

The last thing I want to recommend is when it comes time for marching in the streets, don’t be stupid about it. Policemen are human beings, and they can be dealt with in ways that lessen the likelihood that they engage in brutality. First of all, don’t treat them as “Them.” If a police force such as in Miami, New York, Philadelphia or Oakland, for instance, is to be reckoned with, there has to be a way of getting to the decision making capacity beforehand. It can be done in a multifaceted way, through community groups, the policemen’s union, the mayor, the city council, the governor of the state, the local news media, and through shaming. “Es ist Sie!” can certainly be applied to the aforementioned police forces.

We are facing the most serious and dangerous time in the history of the planet. Our infinite growth economic system is now approaching the reality of finitude. The biosphere is being stressed to its limits. The depletion of resources, especially oil, but also fish, arable land, minerals, forests, air and water, are all reaching critical stages. The food supply is being contaminated with genetically engineered seeds, pesticides, and tainted meat. Amidst all of this is the crudest of criminal regimes, the Bush crime family. Our saving grace may indeed be their criminality. Being criminals, they do not even admit that these various problems exist, because they only understand the criminal pursuit of money, power, status, and privilege. This is really a form of criminal psychosis, and any moderately astute observer of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, and, yes, Powell, would agree that these are not people with a firm grip on sane reality. They are weak, not strong, and can be defeated before they wreak much more havoc on the planet. Let the war crimes trials begin!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


At my job they had a book sale today, with a wide variety of offerings, with children's books, Christian books, self-help books, and some political books, both "left" and "right." One that caught my eye was titled "The Enemy Within: Saving America from the liberal assault on our schools, faith and military," by Michael Savage (Real name apparently is Michael Weiner). I opened the book briefly to get a glimpse of what Mr. Savage has to say, and found the topic "Jackhammering the Ten Commnandments." I read no more.

This could have been one of any number of screeds, diatribes, rants, howls, or screams by one of any number of supposedly "right wing" thinkers, ideologues, demagogues, and/or opportunists. It just happened to be the one I saw at the book sale. I don't think anyone bought it. What it does point out, though, is that the supposed "right wing" has insinuated itself into the American maninstream in a big way. But is this something to be alarmed about, amused about, or is it just a matter of passing interest?

Within the context of what I have already written about on this blog, the phenomenon of "right wing" authors is worthy of some interest, but more so worthy of analysis. Michael Savage has nothing meaningful to offer, and his hour upon the stage will be soon forgotten. He, like all "right wing" fulminators, represents not a philosophy but a mental condition, marked by intolerance, bigotry, crudeness, disrespect, dishonesty, and a desperate need for attention. That he is somewhat in the national spotlight is a testament to the corruption of the broadcast industry, wherein he finds employment.

I have known a few "right wingers" in my time, and they have been mentally ill people, with pathological needs to control other people, and with strange self-esteem problems. One, a former friend of my father, operated a gas station in my home town, and when he joined the John Birch Society my father never had anything to do with him again. Before that happened I worked for him for a while. He was a slave driver, cheated me on pay, and lost his franchise with a major oil company for selling off-brand gas. He was as phony as a three dollar bill, pretending to be friendly with customers and cursing them when he thought they couln't hear him.

Another "right winger" I knew was the alcoholic older brother of one of my best friends. He told war stories in a local bar, though he served nary a day in the military. He was a know-it-all, but lost the family business shortly after taking it over when his father died. He died of alcohol related illness a year ago.

The reason I bring this up is that "leftists" waste their time taking these people at face value. There is always a mental and emotional condition underlying the "right wing" ideology. What needs to be looked at deeper are the conditions in our culture that encourage and create such desperate needs to feel superior to others, to fear others, to control others, and to kill others. It is much easier to view our cultural conditions when we are free of "otherness." This topic will come up again, but for now I think the point is made. Among the topics I will explore in future postings will be the need for "leftists" to self-identify as other than the mentally challenged "rightists."

Friday, November 19, 2004

Looking at the essence

I had planned on writing something lengthy about the Bush "mandate," but ran out of time. A few thoughts are worth mentioning, though. I believe it is important to look at all things in their deepest essence, and the Bush regime, in its deepest essence, is a criminal operation. As such, every act they perform is criminal in nature, and should be looked at with that assumption.

Most clearly in the case of Iraq, but also manifest in places like Afghanistan and Haiti, the Bush crime family is not only criminal, but a murder cult. They kill just for the sake of killing. There is nothing to gain by destroying the Iraqi infrastructure, killing and maiming thousands of its people, and poisoning the atmosphere with depleted uranium other than the joy of killing and destroying. They care nothing about the lives of American soldiers either, as evidenced by the lack of proper equipment and training in Iraq, and the treatment of wounded soldiers after they are sent home. Then there is the "back door draft," the impressment of former military into returning to service (see Smirking Chimp).

What I find most curious about this glee for killing is the implicit belief that by killing people you have attained something. By taking the lives of vast numbers of people, somehow the members of the Bush crime family think that these souls have been rendered unto dust, that they will never be seen again, and that some sort of victory is attained.

On the contrary, serial murder is the clearest and most certain path to one's own suffering and lifetimes of ignominity. I find it ludicrous that "leftists" so bemoan the "success" of the Bush crime family. Repeatedly I find people depressed and enraged that the Bush gang has attained so much "power." To them I say wait a while. The cosmos, the Absolute, will not be mocked for long. Don't give the Bush crime family any power, including the power to make you depressed and enraged. They are not worth it, their "power" is fake, and they will soon be on their way to comeuppance.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

To have dominion

I will write about this more when I have more time, but I would like to at least raise the subject of one of the most prominent characteristics of American culture and American history - that of the need for primacy, for control, for dominion over others. This need is not in any sense normal or ordinary, but a pathological need, borne out of an insecurity that is also at the root of the nation's history.

This land was settled by people desperate for a new life, and a great many died in the effort just to reach the shores of "The New World." The precariousness of life was faced by great effort, but also by a history of eliminating any perceived threat to persons' or society's survival: indigenous tribes, alien religious beliefs, unruly slaves, disease, cold, economic instability.

What is being played out in Iraq and at home is an at times hysterical need to have dominion over others. It isn't enough in Iraq to invade the country and destroy its infrastructure. The people must be subjugated. Thus, a massive terror campaign of bombing, pillaging of cities like Fallujah and Najaf, and more to come.

Here at home, we have the Bush "mandate." Bush and his cronies in the Congress, the Judiciary, the various bureaus of government, and the corporate power structure will likely try to enact a police state along with a movement towards some form of economic feudalism. The main problem they face is that their agenda is spent. They can only hope that the power of propaganda will be great enough to push their plans through. This will be increasingly difficult, due to what I call the decreasing marginal returns to criminality. It will take bigger lies, bigger secrecy, bigger sleight-of-hand, and bigger religious flim-flammery to achieve smaller results. As Global Warming becomes more serious, it will take bigger denial to pretend it does not exist. As the symbiosis with phony "Christianity" intensifies, it will take bigger and more grandiose bluster to sell the latest schemes. Maybe they can bring in Reverend Moon himself to be the "Messiah." Though this criminal gang is not going to be fun, fun may be had as they head to their inevitable downfall.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Opening remarks

Now that the election is over, and we are saddled with four more years of the Bush regime, it is worthwhile to take a look at where we are, where we are going, what we can do about it, and how we can BE about it.

To begin with, Kerry won the election. The amount of vote fraud and vote suppression was vast, planned, successful, and, of course, ignored by the major news media (See Greg Palast's latest post at http://www.gregpalast.com/). The country is not populated by morons only, though it often seems that way. I was not enthusiastic about Kerry, but at least with him in office we could get some decent Supreme Court appointments, some respect for the environment, a rational Attorney General, and some progress on a number of issues like the national debt, joblessness, health care, education, and foreign policy. Now we are stuck with The Empire, seemingly helpless in the face of a Darth Vader-like evil monolith.

But we aren't helpless, and the place to begin to create positive change is to change our perception, our way of looking at things. The usual way of looking at the range of beliefs, attitudes, and allegiance is within a metaphorical spectrum of "left" to "right." These terms began in the French Assembly of 1789, derived from the seating arrangement, with the revolutionaries to the left of the president, and the nobles to the right. Today these terms no longer have any meaning, except to those who identify with one or another "wing" of this imaginary linear spectrum.

For instance, George W. Bush is labeled "right wing" by "leftists," though sociopathic criminal is more accurate and appropriate. Anyone who lies a nation into war is a sociopath. Ideology has nothing to do with it, except as window dressing and to distract. The idea of George Bush having a philosophy of any kind is ludicrous. The Iraq war, as well as the rest of his actions as president, is all about criminality - seizing Mideast oil, rewarding Halliburton and other corporate cronies, opening up pristine areas for logging and oil exploration, neglecting the warnings about Al Qaida until a major attack took place, the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and secret prisons worldwide, and, of course, Enron.

Among the problems I find with the "left" versus "right" model is that it creates an "us" and "them" mentality. With us or against us. People who look at things this way see themselves as having the superior position, and anyone else as being agents of the other extreme. In other words, they are paranoid. They are also fundamentalist, just like the evangelical Christians. There are a few buzz words, like "racist," "fascist," "sexist," "ageist," and even "speciesist" that are bandied about freely by "leftists," but the analysis doesn't go much deeper. For instance, what is the psychology of "right wingism?" Is there something deeper there, beyond a few beliefs like White supremacy and no government? Why would gun weirdness take such a hold on so many men in this country? What is the root of the susceptibility of many of our citizens to demagoguery and religious fanaticism? What is the appeal of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly?

There is a more appropriate, accurate, and positive model available for looking at both levels of consciousness and for a vision of human aspiration. The late psychologist Abraham Maslow identified a "Hierarchy of needs," with lower needs like sex, money, and power called "deficiency needs," and love, self-esteem, and self-actualization called "being needs." (http://web.utk.edu/~gwynne/maslow.HTM) There have been others who have elaborated on this approach, notably Clare Graves and Don Beck. (http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/newsh/items/article/item_3787.html)

In this context, what we normally think of as "right wing" can more accurately be placed on the lower scale of consciousness, and not surprisingly along with various forms of criminal sociopathy. Bush can still be seen as a kindred spirit with demented political ideologues, but because of his criminality, not his philosophical beliefs.

As regards supposed "left wing" or "progressive" social philosophies, I would say of course. Of course you would have a distributive economic system. Of course you would protect and revere the environment. Of course you would have a decent and fair system of justice. Of course you would have universal health care. And of course you would have a renewable based energy system. These are not postures of any "wing" of society, but common sense, and also GIVENS that enable people to rise to higher levels of being. To contrive to keep people in lower levels of being is to invite hellfire upon oneself.

Which brings me to my last point in opening this blog. It is okay to believe in a supreme being, great spirit, absolute consciousness, God, Allah, the Buddha, Brahman, the Tao, higher power, the Ineffable, or whatever you want to call the Great Beyond. In ordinary consciousness we don't know the nature of that level of being, but most of us have a sense that there is an Unmoved Mover, a Supreme Being that is the source of creation and the goal of human aspiration. This transcendent level of being can be approached through various meditative practices, selfless service to humanity, prayer, ritual, and purification and healing practices. To have an attitude of union with the Divine is neither "right" nor "left," and is indeed incompatible with an adherence to either.

We are at an epochal crossroads, where global warming, the destruction of the environment, the end of oil, and the unsustainability of our economic system are all reaching a crisis stage. The criminality of George W. Bush will soon seem irrelevant, except in terms of delay in addressing these concerns. We will be dealing with them whether we like it or not, and it matters not if you are Christian fundamentalist, gun nut, corporate cronyist, politician, or think tank schemer. We can choose to have a sensible human presence on this planet or we can choose evil. This past Tuesday we chose evil. Next time the choice will be more obvious. Will we choose it again? Stay tuned.