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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.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Wealth of Nations, mini update

There was a time before the physical universe (Maybe not a time, but a before, which raises some interesting questions.). There was a time before the Milky Way galaxy. There was a time before Planet Earth. There was a time before life on Earth. There was a time before the human species. There was a time before the European "discovery" of "North America." There was a time before what is known as the "Free enterprise system," "Capitalism," "Industrialism," or "The market system." There will be a time after all these phenomena. Though we would like to know the foreseeable future for all of them, about all we can say about most is Que Sera. I can provide a little insight about one.

The system under which the United States operates is generally known as a mixed economy, with government and private entities providing goods and services on a mass scale. It can also be called mixed in another sense, in that the dominant force in the system is the corporation - a "legal person," organized or constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties, including the capacity of succession. Monopolistic, oligopolistic, and even competitive corporations exert great power not only in the market, but in the political sphere as well. Witness the last election, in which corporate donors controlled the agendas of both major candidates, and even "counted" enough of the votes to swing the "election."

The other part of the mixture in the private sector is the smaller proprietorships and partnerships that make up much of what we see on the local level: coffee shops, restaurants, dry cleaners, small manufacturers, farmers, etc.

Regardless of the mix of government, corporate, and smaller "actors," as they say in the profession, the continuation of the mass industrial system depends on growth of output. There must be prospects for growth forever, or the system will fail. The rate of growth, expressed as a percentage above the previous year, should be between 2 to 4 percent for a reasonably healthy economy. That means a doubling of economic output every 18 to 36 years.

This kind of growth was certainly possible when the continent was "discovered." There was an abundance of resources, and there were even resources like oil and uranium that were not known to have value.

Now we are in a different situation. The resources are being depleted, the land, air, and water are being poisoned, the oil is running out, the population is huge, and there is no magic elixir or philsopher's stone that can create growth out of baser materials.

A sane and intelligent civilization would recognize this situation and find meaningful ways of solving the problems faced. Such a society would have a means of choosing leaders who would honestly, competently, and humanely work to change the nation's, and the world community's, way of being on this planet.

Enter the Bush crime family, with a mixture of hocus pocus economics, religious fakery, corporate cronyism, and a "new" philosophy of empire. Add in a healthy (or not so healthy) dose of terror fear mongering, and what you have is what we now are witnessing: the entire planet rapidly descending into chaos.

The next few years will be the critical years for the future of Humankind on this planet. I think it is safe to say that the various schemes of the Bush crime family are beginning to unravel. In this context, it is probably better that Bush "won" the election. He will be more likely to reap what he has sown by remaining in office while it all comes crashing down.

So, there is cause for optimism. While the fundamental questions that the world faces are not being even recognized as existing by the "only superpower," the process of recognizing is being accelerated. To paraphrase Adam Smith, the Bush crime family is serving an end which is no part of their intention, the betterment of mankind.

Monday, December 13, 2004

When the Man comes around

In reading and listening to a lot of “leftist,” “liberal,” and “progressive” commentary about our current predicament, I am continually amazed at the level of alarm, depression, resentment, condemnation, and name-calling that goes on. One of the favorite epithets directed at the presumed “right wing” is “wing-nut,” or “right wing-nut.” There are others, like the time-honored “racist,” “fascist,” "misogynist," and “fundamentalist.” The faith in this name-calling is both amusing and curious, and a few observations are worthy of mention.

The most obvious thing about the name-calling is that it confers power on the object of the insult. By using an insulting name for those one opposes, one hopes to bring them down to size, to show disrespect for the powerful in the hopes of debunking their power. It may have that effect on the powerful to some degree, but it actually amplifies the powerful among the powerless.

Rather than relying on name-calling, a slightly different approach may actually result in a more meaningful dialogue, and even a change in the country’s direction. A perfect example is the national divide about homosexuality. Last month one of the local high schools put on a production of “The Laramie Project,” a play about the issues raised by the murder of Matthew Shepherd in Wyoming. Kansas based preacher Fred Phelps showed up with a whopping 10 of his followers to protest the play. Phelps and his minions typically carry signs that say “God hates fags,” and “Death to queers,” and “All homos will burn in Hell forever!” Counter-protesters wore pink and carried signs calling for peace and tolerance, while others rode bicycles emblazoned with rainbow flags around Phelps’s group.

The counter-protest was a nice gesture, but it did nothing to challenge Phelps in a way that he would understand. I would rather see a group with signs that say “Maybe it’s Fred Phelps who is going to Hell,” “Eternal damnation awaits all who hate,” and “Your religion is false!” A few other good ones would be “Jesus did not say the things that Fred Phelps says,” “He who presumes to speak for God is asking for big trouble,” “No one knows where anyone is going when they die, but one can surmise, and I'm sure glad I'm not Fred Phelps.”

Signs such as these confront the problem head-on, and are more likely to make fanatical people take notice. Many people in this country live within the broad category of what is known as Christian fundamentalism. But this is not a description that means much to its adherents. All groups have their insider dialogue and lingo, and it is on that level that they can be reached. For self-described “leftists” to dismiss “fundamentalists” as “the other” is to do the same thing that “fundamentalists” do to “leftists.” Calling Fred Phelps a “homophobe” is not something that is going to sink in very deeply. But to suggest that it is he who is going to Hell, that’s a bit of cognitive dissonance that might cause a little unease. If Mr. Phelps is too far gone for cognitive dissonance, his devoted followers might have pause.

Extending this approach to dealing with the Bush crime family, the power is removed from the straw man arguments about “neo-conservatism,” “right-wing takeover of government,” “creeping fascism,” or “the religious right.” This regime is purely criminal, and to anoint it with any ideology is solely for the ego needs of the professionally powerless. Everything this regime does is either criminal in act or criminal in intent. It is easy, within this context, to see the election as fraudulent when the beneficiary of the election is a sociopathic criminal. When Bush says that God speaks through him, he should be challenged, not as a deluded religious fanatic, but as a pathological liar who is asking for a long sentence in a fiery place.

The people in this country who believe in “The end times,” “Armageddon,” “The Rapture,” and whatever other catastrophic and hysterical future awaits the planet should be challenged on their faith. It should be pointed out that the entire Bible was written by men, and none of them were God, Jesus, Jehovah, Yahweh, or anything exalted. The Book of Revelations, in particular, is no more authoritative than the nightly weather report, and in fact far less. Books written in the last couple of centuries predicting the end of the world are all crap, written by people with the usual human motivations: sex, power, and money – the deficiency needs in Maslow’s hierarchy. Add in a touch or two of mental illness, and voila, a publishing bonanza is born. A good book to read on this subject is Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds, by Charles MacKay in 1841. It is an enjoyable read, and shows that mass mania has been around for a long time.

“Leftists” will continue to talk about “these right wingers” ad absurdum, but the relatively free among us don’t need to feel enslaved by polarized thinking. The challenge we face is not of “us” versus “them,” but of all of us recognizing the need to reach for a higher level of being. We can start by calling a spade a spade, a criminal a criminal, and a religious faker a religious faker.

It’s also worthy of mention that those in the media, the corporations, the churches, and the political organizations who give aid and comfort to the Bush crime family are themselves criminals. They may not reap what they soweth in the current strut and fret, but, as Johnny Cash so aptly put it, the Man comes around. There is a time to every purpose under Heaven.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


While scouting around the web today I found some interesting stories. One (http://www.buzzflash.com/farrell/04/12/far04041.html) was about the use by Hitler of religion and the Catholic Church to further his efforts. Another pair of articles (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/12/08/coverup/index.html,
http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/12/07/prisoner.abuse.ap/index.html) were on the methods used by the U.S. military to silence dissenters of its torture methods.

I could have picked any number of juxtapositions of stories to write about, but these will do nicely. The parallel between Hitler’s use of moral and religious authority to provide propaganda cover for his criminal campaign is eerily similar to what is going on in the U.S. today. The ready use of criminal abuse of prisoners is also eerily similar.

But what is most useful about these stories is what they say about the slippery path a country can slide down when it abandons its standards. Standards of morality, ethics, civility, decency, respect, mutuality, reciprocity, entertainment, law enforcement, justice, government, journalism, business, education, religion, and etc., etc., etc., are all out the window.

The Catholic Church colluded with Hitler, and now they collude with Bush. I especially got a laugh out of the Bishops giving the Sieg Heil salute on the Nazi photos site (http://www.nobeliefs.com/nazis.htm). They are nothing if not consistent. Little boys, Hitler, and Bush. I grew up in the Catholic Church, and even graduated from a Catholic college, so I know of whence I speak. Much good is done by individuals and groups within the auspices of the Catholic Church, but the basis, the reason for being, of the Church, is authority. The hierarchy of Catholicism would like to go back to the good old days of the “Holy Roman Empire,” but will always settle for authority over its members - to the threat of eternal damnation, and whatever scraps of authority or influence it can muster over the rest of the world.

The threat to withhold Holy Communion from John Kerry was but the most blatant example of this addiction to authority. This wasn’t so much a message to Kerry as a message to all Catholics: that access to the Divine can be given and access can be taken away. It’s all hokum, of course, but that doesn’t slow them down a bit. If nothing else, the Church hierarchy needs to create a diversion from its P.R. troubles with the ongoing child molestation scandal.

This is just one example of the times in which we live. We can look anywhere and find holograms of the general malaise. I watched David Letterman for a while last week, and he joked about a new think tank for Democratic losers, and things they could do to lose again. One of the proposals was about nominating someone whose wife is a “nut-job ketchup lady.” Who in this entire planet is David Letterman to be calling anyone a “nut-job?” He makes his living trashing people. His counterpart on NBC is just as bad, and both of them have a nightly slam on Martha Stewart. We have a sociopath for president, a criminal organization running the Federal Government, the movie actor son of a Nazi governing one of our largest states, the environment is being destroyed, the economy is tanking, and the biggest threat to society these supposed funnymen can come up with is Martha Stewart. Steve Allen and Ernie Kovacs must be turning over in their graves.

The ongoing prisoner abuse/torture/murder scandals put this problem in sharper focus. We were never threatened by Iraq, or, for that matter, Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein was our boy, helped all along the way in his political career by the CIA and U.S. policy. It was criminal to support him from day one, but our government supported him up to Gulf War I, and corporations like Dick Cheney’s Halliburton supported him until the start of the current war on Iraq. The first Gulf War was not needed any more than this one was, but was a large scale Mafia-style doublecross. Saddam Hussein was no longer useful to the criminal interests of U.S. policymakers. These policymakers in the first Bush administration cared not about the safety and security of the people of the United States, or of anyone anywhere else, except themselves. They cared about their own power, influence, and wealth, and the same is true today.

When standards at the top are discarded, it should be no surprise that standards all the way down the line are also discarded. In the case of the military, whether it is the “Shock and awe” bombing, the intentional killing of civilians, the destruction of water, sewage, electrical power, and telephone communications, the spreading of depleted uranium (http://www.sfbayview.com/081804/Depleteduranium081804.shtml) throughout the country, or the abuse, torture, and murder of prisoners, the common theme is lack of standards. It is at least a matter of some encouragement that some soldiers are resisting this evil, and that some honorable journalism is taking place (Consortium News, Robert Fisk, Greg Palast, Alternative Press Review, News Alternative, Global Free Press, Online Journal, Salon, and many others).

I don’t end these analyses with hand-wringing, whining, sky is falling, woe is us lamentations. There is cause for optimism. Optimism with eyes wide open, though. Criminals do not get away with their crimes. It all balances out in the end. We are living witness to the playing out of the greatest criminal operation in history. The degeneration of an entire culture is taking place in front of our very eyes, on television, radio, the Internet, in newspapers, DVD, VHS, video games, and in media delivery systems that are only just beginning. We will, if we stick around long enough, see the dénouement of this degeneration, and of the criminal operation that both fosters it and feeds on it. This is a symbiotic relationship, and one way we will be able to tell when the dénouement has been reached is when David Letterman and Jay Leno are no longer seen as worthwhile entertainment. Of course, by that time other concerns will make the dénouement more obvious.

Friday, December 03, 2004

The answer, my friend

Everyone who drives encounters a road-rager one time or another, and I encountered several on my way back home from Thanksgiving with relatives. The worst was a huge guy in a huge truck, and he went into something approximating nuclear fission at my lack of subservience on the Interstate. I don't remember ever seeing such anger.

Later that day, I felt a need to do some energy processing, and it occurred to me that I could just breathe in all that anger, and breathe it out to the planet as love. Thus a new technique was born.

I have never been a "Bush hater," but have found him revolting. Being that he is the head of state of the most dangerous regime on the planet, I have pondered for the last four years on how to personally deal with the presence of George W. Bush in my life. The road-rager supplied the method.

Try it yourself, and see how it feels. Breathe in all the evil, all the arrogance, all the murderousness, all the smirking, all the incompetence of George W. Bush, and breathe it out as love to the whole planet. Notice the changes. Not just in yourself, but in the George W. Bush that lives inside you. If that George W. Bush can change, think what the effect can be if people all over the planet start doing it.

This regime can be overcome, and the ways in which it can manifest are many. Total materialists will tend to think this method is silly and useless, but most of us have some intuition of something greater, and should find it helpful. I welcome any feedback about this, and hope people pass on the practice. We shall overcome some day.