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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.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mental constructs

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.htmGeorge W. Bush has been on the stump lately, campaigning to regain his lost popularity, to justify his war against Iraq, and to assert his influence on the world stage.

It’s too late.

There are limits to how often you can create the illusion of a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Especially if it’s the same sow's ear over and over again.

There is, of course, another reason that Bush’s campaign will fail. He is a harmful force on the planet, and his gang of criminal hacks is even worse. They make up the plans and propaganda that Bush fronts. At a time when the world’s economies are more fragile than ever, when the environment is approaching the breakdown stage in its ability to support life, when "exotic" diseases threaten human life everywhere, when corporate criminality is both rampant and threatening to social order, when political life has reached a level of corruption that boggles the mind, the last thing any country needs is a criminal buffoon for a leader.

Most comical of Bush’s pronouncements this week was when he said "China needs to provide a level playing field for American businesses seeking access to China's market," in Kyoto, Japan on Wednesday. The idea of the pitch man for a criminal operation demanding "a level playing field" to anyone is beyond silly.

His use of language is even sillier. "China needs…" Telling other people what they "need" of course is arrogant, presuming to tell them what is good for them, but it also presumes a knowledge of their situations, desires, shortcomings, and receptivity to being scolded. Especially by a sociopathic criminal.

Ultimately, the assertion "China needs..." is a statement from one "country" to another. Bush, pretending to represent "The United States of America," tells "China," as represented by its "leadership," what the "U.S." wants "China" to do. The "U.S." consists of the land and people south of "Canada" and north of "Mexico," along with "Alaska," "Hawaii," "Guam," "American Samoa," "Puerto Rico," the "U.S. Virgin Islands," the "Northern Mariana Islands," the "Midway Islands," "Wake Island," "Johnston Atoll," "Baker," "Howland," and "Jarvis Islands," "Kingman Reef," "Navassa Island," and "Palmyra Atoll."

Any "country" is a mental construct, an imposition on the land, dependent on consensus among people that the "country" actually exists. There didn’t used to be a "China," just like there didn’t used to be a "U.S." The first "European" settlement in "North America" was by "Spain" in "St. Augustine," "Florida," in "1565." From that humble start, through settlement, conquest, purchase, and claim, the eventual "United States of America" stretched from coast to coast, and beyond. Now the "U.S." is "the world’s only superpower," declaring through its criminal "leadership" that it has the right and responsibility to preemptively invade any other "country" on the planet.

The futility of Bush’s threats, scolds, and wars around the world can be seen in the fakery that surrounds the "War on terror." Osama bin Laden and his "organization" "Al Qaida," do not represent any "country," region, or ethnic group. They represent themselves, and their vision of Islamic purity and independence. Yet the Bush crime family chose to use their threat to attack two "countries," "Afghanistan" and "Iraq."

These two "countries," "Afghanistan" and "Iraq," are glaring examples of the pretense of "nationhood." "Afghanistan" is a "country" only for purposes of public relations, being little more than a collection of tribal areas and warlord fiefdoms. Its central government rules the "city" of "Kabul," and little else. Its various groups consist of "Pashtun" (42%), "Tajik" (27%), "Hazara" (9%), "Uzbek" (9%), "Aimak" (4%), "Turkmen" (3%), "Baloch" (2%), and "other" (4%). (I wonder what it's like to be "other" in "Afghanistan.")

"Iraq" is an even more fake "country," carved out of the remnants of the former "Ottoman empire" at the end of World War I. According to legend, its boundaries were drawn by Winston Churchill. A forced union of disparate ethnic and religious groups, "Iraq" is 75-80% "Arab," 15-20% "Kurdish," and about 5% "Turkoman," "Assyrian," "Bedouin," "Jewish," and "Chaldean Christian." Of the "Arab" population, approximately 35-40% are "Sunni," and 60-75% are "Shiite."

Carving a "country" out of such varied groups would be a challenge for any "nation builder," but the creation of a united "Iraq" could only be done with an authoritarian government. After a failed monarchy, unending meddling by foreign powers, primarily the "British empire," "Iraq" settled into the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in 1979. It is worthy of mention that this settling was not without the help of the "CIA." Read more here and here.

"U.S" casualties in the "Iraq" war now stand at 2091 killed, and many thousand more injured and traumatized. These brave souls have been killed and maimed for the fiction that the "U.S." was being threatened by "Iraq." The war of course was based on lies and fear-mongering, and motivated by greed, lust for power and appetite for murder. But the fiction goes even farther.

A mental construct such as a "nation" can be used to unite people to cooperate with the slaughter of tens of thousands of people on the other side of the "Earth," based on the engineered paranoia about another fictional "nation." The real trick in waging war is in manufacturing a mental construct of opposing "nations." Once that is accomplished, the rest is relatively easy. Resources cannot be marshaled without creating both the cohesion of an "us," and the threat of a "them."

It is clear to see that if the human species is to survive this era, the fiction of "nationhood," of "us" and "them," will have to be abandoned. We will have also to come up with different standards of human pursuit and interaction. The corrupt and murderous system we now have is neither sustainable nor beneficial to mankind and the ecosystem. The vulnerability of the masses of people on "Earth" to control and domination by small cliques will have to be greatly reduced. Since we have no choice but to live as civilized human beings, the choice is simple. Whether we have the sense to make the choice remains to be seen. This is a great time to be alive.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Culture of criminality

Interrupting the leader of the free world
In the past week the world and much of the American public has become aware of two more of the many criminal activities of the Bush regime. One is the existence of the secret CIA prisons in foreign countries, most likely in Poland and Romania, but also likely in other places. The other criminal activity is the use of white phosphorous and a new, "improved" form of napalm – chemical weapons – on civilians in Fallujah last fall. A documentary airing on Italian television details the horrors inflicted on the Iraqis.

This information is coming out at a time when the nation is being made aware of the Bush crime family’s exposure of the identity of an undercover CIA agent, the scandal variously known as Treasongate, Rovegate, Plamegate, Leakgate, and the CIA leak scandal. The agent, Valerie Plame, was "outed" because her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, exposed the Bush gang’s biggest lie that led to war with Iraq. For the unaware, a good chronology can be found here. Then there are the troubles of Bush interference runner Tom DeLay, whose felony trial for campaign violations is pending. His connections with omnicriminal Jack Abramoff are slowly being revealed, as are Abramoff’s connections to the Bush criminal operation.

Then there is the investigation of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for insider trading, the same crime that landed Martha Stewart in prison for a lot less money.

Earlier this year we learned of the attempts to establish a propaganda network through the use of payments to journalists for planted stories, staging events, such as the recent video conference with soldiers in Iraq, and having a fake reporter ask questions at White House press conferences.

A criminal pattern is now in plain view for all to see. Add to this pattern the likely stolen elections of 2000 and 2004. And, lest we forget, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. These attacks have not been proven to be perpetrated by the Bush crime family, but we must keep in mind that the Bush crime family is a criminal operation, and if they are capable of lying the nation into war, they are capable of anything criminal.

Given this predicament, what is likely to happen in the near and not-so-near future? Among more paranoid "leftists" there is pessimism, predicting that the Bush gang will get away with all their crimes, as well as many more, and also will succeed in establishing a "fascist" state in the U.S. Among paranoid "rightists" there is fear that the Bush gang will be brought down by the "liberal" media and the "thug" Patrick Fitzgerald.

One thing is obvious: The Bush crime family will do everything it can to divert attention, obfuscate, change the subject, stonewall, propagandize, smear, and rig the process so that they will not only not be held accountable for their crimes, but also so that they can act with impunity to commit even more horrible crimes. They will do everything they can to start another war, likely with Syria or Iran, but possibly with Venezuela in combination with an invasion of Cuba.

They will fail. For a number of practical reasons, such as lack of support and money, incompetence, and international condemnation, none of these war-mongering attempts are likely to get too far. If they do succeed in starting another war, it is likely to be lost, if not militarily, then politically. At the very least, the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force are likely to have had enough of being played for suckers, pawns in the Bush gang’s various criminal ventures. A coup d’état would be a distinct possibility. If that happens, swift justice would be meted out to the Bush gang.

But the main reason the Bush crime family will eventually be brought to justice is that the harm they cause is bad for the planet, and real problems cannot be solved when the "world’s only superpower" is headed by sociopathic criminals. Climate change alone will call for competent, real solutions. Other environmental problems, such as depletion of the oceans, will also call for real solutions. Problems such as overpopulation, disease, limits to economic growth, and terrorism cannot be solved by criminals. The only thing criminals are good at is crime, and this particular gang is not so good even at that.

This is, if not the most crucial and interesting time in history, one of the most. The problem is clear for all to see. We can choose to see it, or we can hide from it, lie about it, pretend it doesn’t exist, and try to affix blame other than where it belongs. If we choose to be irresponsible, it will be the end of the American republic, and likely will result in worldwide catastrophe. The suffering here and elsewhere will be unimaginable. If we choose to be responsible and bring the Bush crime family to justice, we can begin the long process of healing the Earth, ourselves, and our democracy. The choice should be clear. The longer we wait, the harder it will be. Impeachment is only the beginning.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Backtracking from the future

A scene we'd like to see
One can read, hear, see, and even feel myriads of different views on the future of the Bush crime family. They are in their last throes, they are all-powerful and can’t be defeated, they are having a streak of bad luck, Bush needs a "bullhorn moment" like his pose with the New York fireman, he needs a success, etc., etc.

I have tried throughout this blog to put things in a broader perspective, broader at least than the usual narrow divide between "left" and "right," two poles of a spectrum that exists only in the mind. The dialog does seem to be changing a bit, as more people are getting tired of the same old same old. What "leftists" don’t realize is that if the "right" is defeated, it will come roaring back, because you can’t have a "left" without a "right." There would be nothing to be "left" of. So the best that "leftists" can hope for is bragging rights, like winning the Super bowl. Next year everything starts over.

Another way of looking at our prospects for a true civilization is to make some assumptions about what it would look like. Let’s say 100 years from now, just to give homo sapiens enough time to get it right. If we have some idea of what a future civilization would look like, we can work our way back to the present and see what we need to do now.

The first thing that would be obvious is that there would be a lot fewer people on the planet. Regardless of how that is achieved, whether by population control, natural disasters, plagues, wars, the spread of radiation, or any combination of factors, the world of the future is going to have a lot less people living on it. The ecosystem will not sustain the amount of people now living, to say nothing of the pending increases.

The world of the future also will not be dependent on fossil fuels. If there are any left, they will be used only as backups, for emergencies or research. Whether we, as a species, are foolish enough to use up all the oil and natural gas in the ground, or decide to conserve, there will be little or no amounts of these fuels left to squander.

The economic system of the future will not be a corporate-criminal system like we now have. The main reason for this is that this kind of system depends on the drive for infinite wealth, for the opportunity for the few to have riches vastly greater than what is necessary for their subsistence and enjoyment of life. Most of the harm of this present-day corrupt system has already been done, and the cost to the planet and people of doing it any more will be too great and too obvious.

The cultural values will not be driven by short-run thrills and acquisition of money. Because the economic system will necessarily be characterized by sustainability and harmony with the environment, things like crappy television shows, crappy fast-food restaurants, outrage of the moment celebrity hype, and gas-guzzling excesses like car racing and off-road environmental destruction will be a thing of the past.

We are also not likely to have an authoritarian system, though the trend seems to be going in that direction. Democracy will be the only workable system in order to get cooperation, and also to keep the system from being skewed to the pleasures of the few. In the present condition the rules are made by the few and for the few, and because of this predicament, irresponsibility is fostered.

The spirituality of the future will of necessity be universally oriented, rather than the us versus them that is so much in vogue today. The paranoia that characterizes the various fundamentalisms will eventually fall out of favor as people come to realize the harm it causes. When human society is on a path of sustainability and democracy, demagogue-based fundamentalisms will seem embarrassingly comical.

There are many characteristics of a true civilization to be imagined, explored, theorized, and studied. Hopefully, as the mad un-utopia that the Bush crime family has tried to foist on us finally goes to the dustbin of history, we can progress towards such a civilization in an intelligent and compassionate manner.