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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.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

It was midnight on the sea, band playin' "Nearer my God to Thee"

Jack Johnson wanted to get on board, captain said we don't haul no coal. Fare thee Titanic, fare thee well.The criminality of the Bush regime is now plain for all to see. The mounting evidence of prisoner abuse in places like Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Camp Bukka, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in various secret places indicate a pattern that can only be directed from the top. Now we are finding that a death chamber is being planned at Guantanamo. The Bush crime family, in its zeal for turning the entire planet into a death chamber, needs a ritual death chamber for internal purposes. It can’t be for any legitimate purpose of law enforcement or war crimes prosecution because the camp itself is illegal, and any prosecution will only have the legitimacy of "victor’s justice."

Today the Guardian reports that Tarik Aziz, deputy prime minister in the Saddam Hussein government, is pleading for international help to gain humane treatment at Camp Cropper, the detention facility in Baghdad that also holds Hussein. Aziz has been held incommunicado in solitary confinement since his surrender on April 24, 2003. This news follows the publication of pictures of Saddam Hussein in his underwear. We also were told that Bush demanded that Osama bin Laden’s head be brought to him. A good refutation of this report can be found at Global Research, but the head seeking is consistent with the practices of the The Skull and Bones Society, Bush’s college "fraternity." They already have Geronimo’s skull.

It’s hard to tell what the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is, but one thing is clear: The United States of America is on a steep slide to barbarism. The Bush crime family had a relatively easy time seizing power, and they also have had a relatively easy time getting the Congress, the military, the corporatocracy, the news media, and a large part of the public to go along with their devilish schemes and atrocities.

A case in point is the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The thing I found most revealing about the abuse of the prisoners there was how easy it was for the people involved to behave as they did. It wasn’t a few "bad apples," but the "apples" who tortured and humiliated prisoners. Except for Specialist Joseph Darby, the soldier who reported the abuses, there was nothing honorable displayed in this affair. In case after case around the world, American service people, private contractors, and government officials have been ready and willing to sexually humiliate, beat, threaten, rape, kill, and engage in religious desecration. Supposedy this is in response to the terrorist threat imposed by the attacks of September 11, 2001, but that is just an excuse.

The real reason is it was done because this is what Americans do when allowed to. Since the beginning of our history the subjugation, mistreatment, and killing of groups of people seen as "different" has been integral in the character of the American psyche. We know well of the horrors experienced by the First Nations people, also known as Indians, and the African slaves. But various ethnic groups such as the Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and Puerto Rican immigrants to this country have all experienced the kinds of exclusion, stereotyping, incarceration and other forms of abuse that are familiar to our Native and Black citizens. Today's "untermenschen," or subhumans, are Muslims, especially Arabs, homosexuals, and "liberals." One of the marks of full citizenship is when a group rises in status it joins in the dehumanization of other perceived "inferiors." I know this from personal experience. My ancestry is mostly indigenous Irish, commonly known as "Catholic." Hardly a distinct ethnic group anymore, people of Irish descent are now as bigoted as anyone else.

This character trait is not unique to Americans. We just happen to be "the world’s only superpower." We set the standard for the rest of the planet. We make the rules. It isn’t enough to commit atrocities within our borders. Pre-emptive war will spread our need to as many places as natural limits will permit.

This status has been a long time in coming. That it will be short-lived should be obvious. A nation that so easily falls for the crude propaganda and fear-mongering of the Bush gang is headed for a great fall. The rest of the planet won’t put up with it for long, and internal contradictions will result in the nation turning on itself. It will be a bit like the Titanic, which is now playing on TV. The corporate ship of state is headed for an iceberg, except the iceberg in this case is the Law of Karma. The question we should be asking is what we will do for lifeboats.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Where have you been, my blue-eyed son?

A few news items in the past week made for an interesting pattern. The Iraq war/occupation is not going well, despite the cheery optimism of the Bush crime family. Patrick Cockburn, writing in the London Independent, described the country as a bloody no man’s land. He concluded his analysis with the observation that "The US is turning out to be much less of a military and political superpower than the rest of the world had supposed."

Then there was the flareup in the news media about the desecration of the the Koran, Islam’s most sacred scripture, at the Guantanamo detention facility. The Bush crime family, in predictable fashion, tried to spin the story into one of false and inflammatory reporting on the part of Newsweek magazine. As has been reported in Al Jazeera and elsewhere for almost a year, released prisoners have been consistently saying that the abuse has taken place.

Salon magazine online posted an interview with James Howard Kunstler, titled "After the oil is gone." As I have said many times in this blog, there’s gonna be some changes made. Some very difficult changes, and denial, avoidance, criminality, empire building, and religious fanaticism will neither prevent them nor create enclaves of privilege and luxury. Living like true, virtuous human beings is our only real option.

Providing context for all these realities was an Op-ed piece in the New York Times by Belinda Board, a clinical psychologist in Britain. She conducted a case study comparing the personality traits of 39 high-ranking business executives in Britain with psychiatric patients and criminals with a history of mental health problems. She found that the business executives matched the traits of the prison and psychiatric populations in such areas as narcissistic personality disorder: grandiosity, lack of empathy, exploitativeness and independence. They also correlated in traits of compulsive personality disorder: stubbornness, dictatorial tendencies, perfectionism, and an excessive devotion to work.

Board also found that the business executives were more likely to demonstrate characteristics of histrionic personality disorder: superficial charm, insincerity, egocentricity and manipulativeness.

Sound familiar? Board’s article was intended to provide some background to the nomination struggle of would-be UN ambassador John Bolton. But it applies more aptly to the entire predicament of mankind at the most critical time in modern history. We are running out of our most critical industrial resource: oil. Our air, water, land, and plant and animal infrastructure are all being degraded, and what we depend on for leadership are people who correlate strongly with criminals.

To reach the top, the ambitious shed their humanity, bit by bit, until there isn’t much left. I have seen this phenomenon throughout my life in a myriad of circumstances. In every place I have worked I have seen people try to turn the situation into their own private mafias. Little mini-mafias, obsessively trying to control the puniest of circumstances. Little gossip groups forming, excluding "others," creating cliques that control nothing other than who is accepted and who isn’t. The higher up on the ladder of success, the more insidious the mafia formation, and at the highest levels of business, government, and even in charitable and advocacy organizations, the "Lord of the Flies" model reaches its crescendo.

Some mafias are better than others, but there is hardly a worse one in history than the Bush crime family. Supposedly there is honor among thieves, but there is no honor in this gang of crude thugs. Saddam Hussain was the partner of the Reagan-Bush I criminal organization, waging a vicious war against Iran at their behest and sponsorship. Then they double-crossed him. He was suckered into invading Kuwait, though it must be said that he was a ready and willing chump. The first attack on Iraq, known as the Gulf war, was basically a betrayal, which a criminal like Saddam Hussain should have expected. One of the problems criminals have is that they aren’t very smart, and they think they are the smartest people on Earth.

Beginning with the stolen election of 2000, continuing with the criminal negligence or worse that led to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Invasion of Afghanistan, the Invasion of Iraq, the theft of the 2004 election, the criminal relationships with corporations such as Halliburton, Bechtel, Enron, the oil and gas conglomerates, and lobbyists, legislators, corporate donors, polluters, labor violators, and other malefactors, the Bush crime family has spread a manure pile of destruction, murder, mayhem, torture and corruption across the planet.

This may seem like a totally bleak and hopeless situation, given the criminal influence and control that the Bush criminal organization has all over the world. But, as has been revealed in the I Ching and many other wisdom traditions, as well as being borne out in history, the strong implies the weak, Yang implies Yin, what is sown is reaped, what is in potency to act will eventually act. It is the age-old nature of the universe, of being and becoming. No criminality lasts forever, and in the context of world resource depletion and economic collapse, something else is obviously on the way.

What that something else will be is up to us, the non-sociopaths of the world. The level of dialogue I’ve been experiencing recently us not very encouraging, but it will change. People who adhere tenaciously to the meaningless paradigm of "left" versus "right" will eventually get tired of its futility and paranoia. The emptiness of calling "others" "right wing" will eventually become obvious, and seen as the equivalent of calling people "niggers." The ego and emotional satisfaction provided by labeling people, though drug-like, will, like other addictions, reach bottom. People are not things, no matter how much we try to make them out to be.

I have been challenging "leftists" for the past several years to see another way of looking at things. It hasn’t made me any friends, and I have been accused on a radio call-in show of being a "right-winger," but I persist. I can embarrass them, but their entire sociometric matrix is intertwined with mutually reinforcing mythologies about "leftism" versus "rightism." It’s a tough nut to crack, but crack it will. I know that there are many, many people here and elsewhere who are engorged with the ideas of Karl Marx and his successors, who have engaged in social and environmental struggles with deepening perspectives and committments to the paranoid model, who talk for years on end about the orthodox fantasy of the proletarian revolution, or some variant therof, and who construct their cultural awareness and relationships around these myths.

But, as Bob Dylan put it, a hard rain is a ‘gonna fall. Revolutionary opportunism may prevail for a while, but the real change to which we are evolving will not be pro-forma. Because all of human civilization is at stake, and the ecosystem as well, the real solutions that are required will have to be free of ideological dogma, "left," "right," or "center." The horizontal spectrum is a mental construct. It does not exist. There is no "left" and there is no "right." There is no "center" either. The sooner we give up this nonsense, the sooner we can forge ahead to a true world civilization. And, at the very least, bring the Bush crime family, an ideological entity solely for the purpose of hoodwinkery, to justice. Let the trials begin. Nuremberg sounds like a pretty good place to me.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

He who is exalted

One of the more odious TV shows I avoid is "West Wing." I find it difficult to take seriously a program that featured Rob Lowe as a White House important guy-type character. More to the point is that the show portrays everyone in the White House as being of high moral purpose, dedicated to doing the People’s work. I did watch the supposedly Emmy winning episode, where the president’s secretary got killed in a car accident, and Martin Sheen, as the president, went to the National Cathedral to swear at "God," calling "Him" a son-of-a-bitch, and stamping out a cigarette on the floor. A reviewer on National Public Radio praised this portrayal as an argument between two equals.

Indeed. Two equals. And "God" talks to George W. Bush. And of course to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, and Anal Robertsworth. It’s a weird thing we have here in the U.S.A. about our presidents, and our pretenders to the throne. In my lifetime they have mostly been sociopaths, the only exceptions being perhaps Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Carter. Maybe Ford, but he disqualifies on grounds of mental deficiency (A bit of inside info there.) Clinton is another special case, I think, in a realm I would call naïve and delusionary. I don’t think he realized the level of evil in Washington, D.C. He was a crappy president, but I don't think he is a sociopath.

Whatever the case, the office of president is no exalted state of being. If it were, then we wouldn’t have this story to read today. That the public radio critic felt free to even say that the President of the United States is on an equal plane with "God" shows that he wasn’t far from what people already believe. Comedians do lampoon the president, but it’s done in a spirit of jealousy and resentment, from below.

When John Kerry "lost" the "election," one reason that was ignored was that he seemed to just be "running for president." No great vision motivated his candidacy, no great ideas to move the nation forward. Just his own sense of importance and need for power and status. The illusion, or delusion, is that the President of the United States is the most powerful man on the planet, God on Earth. Kerry probably got more votes than Bush, but I don't think a majority of people were voting for him. They were voting against the worst president in the nation's history, a criminal sociopath by any objective standard.

At the root of this problem is that, contrary to popular belief, man is not made in the image and likeness of "God," but exactly the opposite. "God" is made in the image and likeness of man. On the material level where we tend to live, we cannot conceive of "God" beyond what we already know. And what we already know is material beingness. So "God" must be a person. A person must have a name and a gender, so "He" is named "God." If "God" is just another guy, but a very powerful one, then it is possible for a propped-up human to be considered "His" equal. Especially on TV, of course, but also in the general population. Witness a comment to one of my earlier postings: "...and you should be thankful that a good, Christian man is leading this country. With the way Americans are headed (gay-marriages, legal abortions...), a Christian in charge of the country is the only hope we have..."

Indeed. A good Christian man. I could refer to any number of refutations of this silliness, but this one will do. Then there are the more than 100,000 deaths in Iraq. All because of lies and greed. And maybe a little taste for mass murder. Hmm. Forget the maybe.

As I have said before, the unraveling of the Bush Crime family will take place on many fronts. Iraq, of course, is one of them. The Social Security scam is another. The free-fall of Tom DeLay still another. Then there are what is know as "wild card" phenomena: natural disasters, more scandals, the tanking of the economy, a disruption in the oil supply, a bad crop year, Bush finally going completely bonkers, the rest of the civilized world having had enough of the Bush gang, and, well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, in between time, maybe the next president of "West Wing" will be Rob Lowe. He’d be the perfect candidate. He has no equal.