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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.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Heresy for everyone

I could go in any of three directions in this blog, depending on what seems most pertinent to our common predicament. I could do further analysis of the Bush crime family, showing a clearer perspective on the nature and likely results of their continued crime spree. I could further debunk “leftist” insularity and paranoia, showing how impotent and Bush-empowering their perspectives and methods are. Or I could take a deeper look at Bush’s power bases: the corporate criminal elite, small-to-mid-sized business owners, the news and entertainment media, and evangelical Christianity.

For the time being, the area that seems most critical to pursue is the power base of the Bush crime family. Corporate criminality and media corruption have been well described in many venues, a few of which can be seen at the following links: For corporate crime - Corporate Predators and Corpwatch; and for media corruption - Freepress, Robert McChesney, and Media Matters.

In terms of intensity and numbers of people, the power base that is most worthy of scrutiny is the phenomenon of evangelical Christianity. One reason they have become so powerful is that they have been given a pass by the more traditional Christian denominations. Another is that they have become zealous in their pursuit of political power, and have developed strong and effective organizations. But the main reason they have been able to prevail is that proponents of a secular society don’t know how to challenge them and thus do not communicate with them. I hope to instigate a change to this predicament.

To begin with, our military and intelligence agencies are engaging in a large amount of torture in Aghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Click here and here to read about it. Though the Bush crime family lies about it, they fully approve of the torture methods and practice. I believe the reason is not to gain information, but to terrorize people, and to create an infrastructure of torture, which they eventually can use domestically, for the same reasons.

Evangelical Christians are in full support of the Bush crime family, and therefore are complicit in its crimes. To them I say: Crime does not lead to "Heaven." Support of crime does not lead to "Heaven." There are no chosen people. There is no chosen religion. The Absolute, God, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Brahman, Elohim, Shiva, the Buddha, Wakan Tanka, Jesus, Krishna, the Creator, the Great Spirit, Kitchesmanetoa, or whatever name you want to use, is in nobody’s pocket. No one speaks for the Absolute. No one is the Vicar of the Divine. Especially no one who supports the Bush crime family. Indeed, quite the opposite is the likely truth.

On another level, obsession with temporal power is not only a trap that leads to delusions, such as that of having transcendent power, it actually prevents rising to higher levels of being. The yogis, Christian and Jewish mystics, Sufis, Bodhisattvas, and wise men and women throughout the ages have warned of the folly of pursuit of power. I suspect that before very long our self-inflated evangelicals will be receiving a bitter lesson in this regard.

This does not mean that they don’t have legitimate concerns, and this is an area where secularists fail to communicate. On a number of issues, evangelical Christians might have been more hesitant to pursue power had their values and beliefs been treated with respect.

For instance, evolution. The secularist view is that Charles Darwin’s theory of the origin of species, commonly known as the theory of evolution, is a given, an irrefutable truth. But it is just a theory. It is not a law.

The evangelical view, known as "Creationism," is less a theory than a dogma, but there is another view that can accommodate both arguments. It is called downward causation, and its essential principal is that all processes at the lower level of a hierarchy are restrained by and act in conformity to the laws of the higher level. In other words, every level of reality is part of a more complex process or level of reality, and the highest level is the Absolute. Evolution can take place in this schema, as a determination of the behavior of the Whole of reality, or God. For any true scientist, stubborn adherence to an established theory is anathema. As Thomas Kuhn pointed out in "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" in 1962, existing institutions cease adequately to meet the problems posed by an environment that they have in part created. In both the scientific community and in religious institutions, there is a divide as to how the planet and civilization reached its present state.

From the viewpoint of downward causation, both the Creationist and the Darwinian viewpoints are archaic theories of the origin of species. The happy thing for both schools of thought is that their viewpoints are accommodated. Physical reality evolves in the paradigm of downward causation, but the control of the evolution is from above, from a higher level of reality and intelligence. In other words, God. A word of caution: God is not made in the image and likeness of man, so I wouldn't be getting any bright ideas about personhood of the Absolute.

This perspective is not likely to be taught in public schools in the foreseeable future, but it is likely to replace the older theories eventually. There is a considerable amount of academic literature emerging on the subject, and the relatively new discipline of Transpersonal Psychology is growing in interest and influence.

The problem that secularists have with perspectives other than the Darwinian theory is that they aren’t "scientific," or empirically based. This dogmatic adherence to material evidence is sometimes referred to as scientism. It is inconceivable to materialists that their insistence on their viewpoint as the only legitimate one is a form of fundamentalism, but it has that flaw in its certainty. So, on this issue alone, it is a struggle between two fundamentalisms. The struggle can be resolved by accepting that a new theory that accommodates both the old ones, and offers a better explanation.

In future postings I will explore other topics in which understanding can be brought about by recognizing the validity of the concerns of "others." For now I suggest that both (or more) "sides" look toward the future, and imagine the likely consequences of battles between competing fundamentalisms.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Many years ago, in my first go-around in graduate school, I had a neighbor who was a Navy "Swiftboat" veteran of the Vietnam war. He was a Geology student, and a pretty intelligent guy. He also relished the experience of killing people, and believed the U.S. shouldn’t have stopped with Vietnam. He had names for a number of Asian ethnicities: "Paks" for Pakistanis, "Flips" for Filipinos, "Slopes" for the Vietnamese, and several other names that I can’t remember. He said we should pave the streets with them, among other things. He also was a solid Nixon supporter, and argued that we all should "obey" the President, because he was the "ruler" of the nation.

The "leftist" view of such a person is simple and predictable: he’s a "racist." As if that term really covers the subject, and sufficiently describes the state of mind of the soon-to-be geologist. I don’t happen to believe there is such a thing as race, so I don’t believe a person can be a "racist," except to believe in something that doesn’t exist. This view is not just mine, and further background can be found by clicking here. I can give just one example, though, of the futility of the simplistic "racism" model. The state of Israel, and supporters of the state of Israel, are often referred to as a "racist" state and as "racists" in their treatment of and attitude toward Palestinians. Genetic evidence has shown that Palestinians and Israelis are nearly identical, making it possible to be "racist" only against one’s own cohorts.

This is an important question, because many in the U.S. have attitudes similar to that of the Geology student. Especially toward Arabs, and Muslims in general. We can add in the French, and even the "French-looking," as hate radio minions have suggested about John Kerry, erstwhile Bush-lite candidate for President. The flames have been fed by celebrities in need of attention, such as James Woods and Dennis Miller, calling Arabs "diaper heads," and "towel heads." It doesn't occur to these entertainers that desert head covering evolved as the most effective protection from sun, wind, and sand. Here in America our main means of protection from our effective environment are the gun, the SUV, and the TV set. And, of course, the bottle and the pulpit.

What the Geology student’s views about "others" revealed was not so much "racism" as what in India is referred to as "Avidya", an active, willful ignorance. It is not ignorance due to lack of knowledge or information, but a conscious ignorance, knowing better than to think and believe in such a way, but continuing to do so anyway. It also is ultimately a hatred of one’s own self. To see a difference where none exists is to need to see that difference, to pretend that the needed difference is meaningful, and that action is required to either eliminate the "different" ones, to "put them in their place," or at least to make dominating use of them.

"Leftists," who, by the way, see themselves as "different," actually reinforce this silliness by needing to have "races" for people to be "racist" about, so that they can condemn them as "racists." They don’t so much see the "racists," as diseased human beings whose beliefs can be deconstructed and changed, but rather as "enemies" to be "defeated." It’s really as archaic and "reptilian brain" as the "racists" of the world. Vestigial. Rudimentary. Paranoid.

Why is this distinction important? Because the human species is at its most crucial juncture in its history. We have a global economic system that is destroying the planetary environment, and its major players seem bent on destroying humanity as well. It is not because of "ideology" that this is happening. It is because of Avidya, willful misunderstanding of the purpose of human life. There are other names, like psychopathy, sociopathy, and criminal insanity, but it all boils down to seeing life in tribal terms, as "our" group against "theirs," and its extreme, "me" against everyone else. Interscholastic, intercollegiate, amateur-Olymic, and professional sports provide some masturbatory relief for this mistaken need, but there’s nothing like murder, especially mass murder, to soothe the savage beast.

Into this diseased milieu comes the Bush crime family, the personification of Avidya, willing to exploit every prejudice, fear, resentment, anger, and need to crush and humiliate. Their "Shock and Awe," "War on Terrorism," "Imminent threat," "Patriot Act," "Homeland Security," and "Social Security bankruptcy" slogans are all aimed at the emotional center, the Amygdala part of the brain. The members of the Bush crime family, all afflicted with false human consciousness, have become highly skilled at arousing the same false consciousness in the general population. Saddam Hussein was the partner in crime of the Reagan/Bush(I) criminal organization, and was double-crossed by Bush(I) in the "Gulf War," a war as arbitrary and capricious as the current one. Bush(II) is only more obvious, and the planet is now on notice that a reckless criminal gang is a "gathering threat," to borrow a phrase.

We are poised to start another war, this time against Iran, our former ally. For the ignorant, willful or otherwise, the freely elected leader of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, was overthrown in an American and British sponsored coup d'état in 1953. The brutal puppet regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi reigned until it was overthrown in 1979. The Bush crime family would like to take Iran back. They would like to have control of the Mideast, and they would like to have the oil.

If the Bush crime family succeeds in waging a war against Iran, then they will start yet another war. Then another. It’s like a Ponzi scheme. As the criminality of the existing war is revealed, a new war must be started in order to keep ahead of public scrutiny.

The only way to stop this criminality is to deconstruct the underlying Avidya in the country, laying bare our national vulnerability to the simplistic, the emotional, the hateful, and the false. When the psychic infrastructure of criminality is laid bare for all to see, then perhaps the people as a whole will be motivated to resurrect our civilization, and move it in a sustainable and mutually beneficial direction. A good place to start is with the weakness of "leftism."

I was listening to one of the shows on Al Franken’s local "Air America" affiliate a while back, and the show host was lamenting that "They’re going to take away our porn!" This was part of a laundry list of wicked things the Bush crime family has in mind for the American public and the world. There have been some great rallying cries in our nation’s history: "Give me liberty or give me death!" "Remember the Alamo!" "We have nothing to fear but fear itself!" "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country!" I don’t think "They’re going to take away our porn!" is destined to become one of them.

If "leftists" are going to succeed in creating positive change, they are going to have to communicate with someone other than themselves. There may be an argument for the social benefits of nude photography, but I would not place it on an even plane with economic sustainability, social equity, and peace. This may seem like an extreme example, but it is a hologram for the exclusivity and arrogance of what I call the "Rights advocates."

Rights are fine, but they depend on what people think they are, and people’s attitudes change. When people advocate for an activity or practice by advocating the "right" to engage in the activity, they move a step away from advocating for the activity itself. By moving the argument to one over the "right" to engage in the activity, all real communication about the actual practice is avoided.

The two best examples of this communication problem in modern times are the issues of gun control and abortion. The "right" of gun ownership is the rallying cry of supposed "right wingers," the National Rifle Association, and criminals as well. The "right" to abortion is the rallying cry of "left wingers," the National Organization for Women, and other choice advocates.

My own view on gun ownership derives from a quote I read from Mahatma Gandhi decades ago: "The gun changes the house and its occupant." It’s not a view I would impose on anyone else, but I prefer to live without firearms. The ability to possess firearms is something a little different from beliefs, though, and there’s nothing wrong with society choosing to limit the ability to shoot people.

As far as abortion is concerned, I do not think it is a good thing. I don’t think it can be said with certainty that it is the taking of a human life, but it is not just a surgical procedure. It is in one of those gray areas that we just can’t speak of definitively at this level of being. In spite of this it is not a choice to be denied. It is a difficult choice for any decent human being, whether or not to have an abortion, but the choice lies with the person carrying the potential person. If a soul is due to live on the physical plane, it will be born.

The point I wish to make is that it is not enough to advocate for a "right." The issue goes beyond mere "rights." If the "right" won is not explained to the general public, a vacuum exists, and is easily filled by opportunists. In the case of abortion, fake preachers (Hmm. A bit of a tautology.) like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart, and numerous others have happily used the issue as a wedge to enter the consciousness of millions of ignored and susceptible people. (By the way, if you click on the Jerry Falwell link, you will see that he is now looking for donations for Tsunami relief. He wasn't singing that tune a few weeks ago, when he was fulminating about the hand of God punishing the heathens. The dollar sign is never far behind the fulmination.) It is a difficult issue. It should be kept a personal decision, and the practice should be minimized by education, freely available contraception, and support for motherhood and families.

In other words, we are all in this together. Evangelical Christianity, an essentially immature, emotion-based, paranoid form of spirituality, flourished not only because it appealed to people’s weaknesses and prejudices, but also because it has been the only game in town for many Americans. If advocates for change can recognize the need to communicate with all people, with a higher truth, then the first step to ridding the world of the Bush crime family will have been taken.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Waxing and waning

A couple of articles in recent days, one by Bill Moyers (Also available here), and the other, a transcript of a speech by Seymour Hersh, raise the alarm about the madness of our current situation. Hersh warns us about the religious zeal of Bush and his gang members. Moyers warns about the religious zeal of Bush’s supporters across the country. Both of these articles are valuable contributions to our knowledge of the challenges we face. But they also leave us hanging. And this is what I find frustrating and lacking in "liberal," "leftist," "progressive," and "alternative" analyses and exposition.

What both these renowned journalists fail to recognize or mention is that everyone in the Bush crime family is an individual criminal sociopath, a mortal human being with feet of clay, dependent on the approval of others for their very lifeblood, and dependent also on their ability to surround themselves with a cover of lies and illusion. This is not a structure of power that is meant for longevity.

The same goes for the network of evangelical Christians that form the largest basis of support for the Bush crime family. The proliferation of evangelical Christianity in this country is a phenomenon that had a beginning, is in a period of ascendancy, and will soon enter a period of decline and likely termination. It is too inconsistent with the actual life and teachings of Jesus to have much staying power. The essence of "evangelizing" is to convert other people to not so much the "faith" of the evangelizer as to the organization of the evangelizer. The "faith" is the hook that brings people in. The need fulfillment for the evangelizer is the money and power that added converts bring. It’s a big pyramid scheme, and it’s no accident of nature that so many evangelicals are also drawn to such pyramid schemes as Amway (see Merchants of Deception). Henry David Thoreau described the need to evangelize most insightfully in his great work, "Walden" thusly: "Wherever a man goes, men will pursue him and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate oddfellow society." (The Village, Walden)

The decline of both the Bush crime family and evangelical Christianity can be safely predicted, and the reasons are twofold. One is that the basis of the support for both is a form of social psychosis, hysterias cooked up about the world and our place in it. As I have referred to before, this type of hysteria is nothing new, and was well documented by Charles MacKay in 1841 in his masterful work "Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds."

These hysterias seem to have staying power while they are in their ascendancy, but they eventually peter out, largely due to time, the tiredness of the message, and the lack of true fulfillment they bring.

The other reason for the impending decline of the Bush crime family and evangelical Christianity is real world experience. Just as our economic system is approaching the limits to growth, the Bush crime family is approaching the limits to criminality. The entire planet has taken notice of the murderous invasion and occupation of Iraq. It was not done out of necessity or even for defense of the country, but for the delusions of grandeur of the Bush regime and its corporate beneficiaries. Every country on Earth is on notice that they also are vulnerable to such a capricious and rapacious attack. When such attention is awakened, the results will not be far in the future. It is not only Newton’s Third Law of Motion, but also the Law of Karma that remind us that similar actions have similar results. It is the fool who engages in actions heedless of the consequences. There is no action in the entire life of George W. Bush that indicates that he has ever paid any attention to this truth, and his hour of strutting and fretting upon the stage will be over soon.

There is much to say on the likely manifestations of the end of these two pathological phenomena. For now, I will just briefly mention a few. First, the economy: Depleting oil resources, rising oil prices, OPEC converting to the Euro, the trade deficit, the budget deficit, the personal credit crunch, the impending collapse of the Stock Market, and the failure to achieve growth of GNP in the midst of all these factors.

Then there is the increasing difficulty of being an American on this planet. Both here and abroad, life is becoming harder. The challenge of bringing children into the world in an evironment of hatred worldwide and assault on our national fabric at home will soon wear thin. The cause of this difficulty, the Bush crime family and its enablers, is becoming clearer every day.

For the evangelicals, in addition to the above realities there is the need to have the apocalyptic scenario of the "End Times" come about as supposedly predicted by "Scripture," but actually predicted by a couple of crackpots in the 1800s. The spells under which evangelicals are bewitched are not cast in "Heaven," but on Earth, by men, and the spells can be broken. People can come to their senses. What is required is exposure of the phony, exploiting preachers and those who help them promote their preposterous worldview. What also is required is for those who are not taken in by either the Bush crime family or Christian evangelism to speak a greater truth. And the first precondition for doing this is to have a greater truth to speak. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Great White Hope

Abraham Lincoln is known for his famous saying, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time." What is neglected when this adage is referred to is that for a dishonest business, corrupt politician, or despot it is not necessary to fool all the people even some of the time. All that is necessary for "success" is to fool enough of the people enough of the time. Case in point: the Iraq war.

Tonight we will witness another attempt at "success," George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech. The cynical among us are no doubt wondering if he will be wearing an earpiece to help him say what he means to say. But the real deception to be concerned about is his plan to privatize Social Security.

Supposedly a wasteful, insolvent government program, Social Security has been a lifesaver for many millions of Americans since its inception in 1935. Estimates are that under its current funding the Social Security Trust Fund will be solvent until 2042. Under the privatization plan, by investing in stocks, it is imagined, American workers will earn big money. As Paul Krugman notes in The New York Times, the presumed 6.5 to 7 percent annual return from the stock market would also generate enough payroll tax revenue to keep Social Security solvent. Of course, the presumption of high growth, to say nothing of continued growth, is what economists call a "heroic assumption."

How about taxing the rich? Somehow Social Security worked well in the past, but now supposedly is defunct, a loser, highway robbery. If the fund is dwindling, it can easily be replenished by adding more to it, and having the burden fall on those who can most easily afford it.

Why, we should be asking, is Social Security being targeted? The reasons, I believe, are threefold. One is that it will be a windfall to the Wall Street brokerage houses and other investment firms that have been major donors to the Bush election campaign.

Another reason is that the endowed class in this country, which can also be called the corporate class or the ruling elite, likes to have a lower class that is dependent to the point of desperation. With a decent retirement to look forward to, workers don’t feel so hostage to any one employer, and don’t feel the need to work until they die.

But the biggest reason for privatizing Social Security is that it is a credible government program, and that threatens the ideology of "conservatism."

It’s an interesting thing, "conservatism." As I have written before, I don’t see it as so much a philosophy, but as outward evidence of a mental condition. On the basis of "conservatives" I have known and observed, the faux philosophy of "conservatism" is really cover for a neurotic need to feel "better" than other people, to dominate other people, to have more than other people, and to be callous about, if not take pleasure in, the suffering of other people. In other words, it is a phony philosophy, and masks varying degrees of sociopathy.

What government programs like Social Security, the Veterans Administration, Medicare, Medicaid, and the National Park Service represent is the movement of resources to sectors of the population that would not otherwise have the benefits that they receive. That these sectors receive benefits at all, and that the endowed classes do not have absolute control over the allocation of benefits, decreases the sense of well-being of the endowed. What’s the fun in being rich and powerful if the masses can enjoy life too?

Which brings us back to the State of the Union speech, the latest attempt by the Bush crime family to be the Great White Hope. By again snookering the American public, it is hoped, all that is good and meaningful for the elite of this country will be safe for posterity.

Fat chance. For a number of reasons, the grand scheme will fail. One reason is that Bush is getting tiresome. He’s not much of a human being, and he’s been President for four years now. If there was such a thing as "Clinton fatigue," then "Bush fatigue" is setting in sooner, and is much more widespread and intense.

Another reason is that the Bush Administration, a fundamentally criminal operation, has no real answers to any problem, and the problems on Planet Earth are getting more critical every day. Eventually, they will have to come up with real solutions to real problems, but they can’t, because they are criminals. They can only come up with criminal solutions.

Still another reason is the limited appeal of privatization. The hook that is supposed to lure people into believing in the privatization scheme is that it will generate pie-in-the-sky, riches for everyone, free money, the "ownership society." It’s like the sales pitches for state lotteries, pyramid schemes, and chain letters - all you have to do is put your money down, and the riches start coming in.

But the biggest reason for failure of the Social Security scheme lies in the updated wisdom of Abraham Lincoln. The Bush gang is counting on fooling enough of the people, that the people are gullible enough to be convinced of anything. I don’t think the Bush crime family can succeed this time. It’s one thing to whip up fear and anger about fictitious weapons of mass destruction in a country far away. It’s quite another to create a frenzy over the one retirement plan that gives at least a minimal level of relief for Americans when they are no longer able to work.

The coming days will be very interesting. The convergence of real world problems with the criminality of the Bush regime will be the defining conflict of the modern era. As history has shown, falsehood tends not to prevail. Or, as Gandhiji put it, "All through history, there have been tyrants, murderers and despots, and for a time they can seem invincible...but eventually they always fall. I have always believed that the way of truth and love will win."
(Update: For a good history of the long quest to eliminate the Social Security system, read Steven Thomma's article in Knight Ridder.)