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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, December 28, 2005

A most extraordinary rendition

Michael Scheuer, former CIA counterterrorism officialI sent the following remarks in an e-mail letter to "60 Minutes" last week, in response to their segment on "Extraordinary rendition" in the December 18 program:

"The former CIA official, Michael Scheuer, revealed much that even a casual observer would find curious. If you look at the footage of the interview, pay attention to his body language, the way he moves, his eye movement, combined with his manner of dress and speech.

There's something not quite right about this guy. It's partly due to the worst concerns we tend to have about the CIA. What is never considered about espionage, assassination, and torture as a way of life is the effect it has on the practitioner. Mr. Scheuer revealed his loss of soul in his cavalier attitude towards "mistakes," his coy assertion that "the information we have received as a result of these programs has been very useful to the United States." Which of course we all must take on faith.

Then there is the catch-all excuse, "I'm responsible for protecting Americans." Right out of the Bush playbook. What this all reveals is a hologram for the entire overseer approach to civilization. The few, in their sense of superiority, know what is good for the many, and their aim is to institutionalize their sense of superiority.

What is further revealed by Mr. Scheuer's behavior is, as Marshall McLuhan put it, the medium is the message. When you spy on people, kidnap them, torture them (by proxy or otherwise), and kill them as a way of being on this planet, it does something to you. We are what we repeatedly do, as Aristotle put it, and playing around with one's soul in this manner has consequences. A nation that sponsors this kind of life path can also expect consequences. Perhaps in some future segment you could explore this aspect of our way of being on this planet."

I don't know if the letter was posted on the show, or even read, but the subject is worthy of further analysis. So much damage has been done to our democracy as a result of the September 11, 2001 attacks that we would do well to have some understanding of the path that led to the attacks.

When World War II ended, the CIA was created from the remnants of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the spy agency that played a large role in winning the war. The purpose of the CIA was to provide an intelligence and covert action capacity to counter and help undermine the perceived threat from the Soviet Union, then the People's Republic of China (Commonly known as "Red China"), then Korea, then Central and South America, then Southeast Asia, the Pacific, the Mideast, Europe, Africa, the Carribbean Sea area, and of course, the United States itself.

The role of the CIA evolved into an instrument of policy, an effective tool used in the ongoing process of "fine-tuning" the world. Freely elected leaders were overthrown and assassinated in places like Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Congo, and Chile. Compliant dictators were installed who would follow U.S. policies, especially in regard to appropriation of natural resources. They were allowed and encouraged to oppress their own people as a means of securing power, stifling dissent, and expanding American influence. This was all completely criminal and immoral, but it was a method that grew and grew, and now it is in plain sight for all to see. Saddam Hussein had the audacity to act on his own, and an example needed to be set for client dictators worldwide.

Except we don't have so many dictators anymore. There is no new Shah of Iran. There is no new Suharto in Indonesia. There is no new Somoza in Nicaragua. There is no new Pinochet in Chile. There is no new Marcos in the Philippines. There is no new Stroessner in Paraguay. Brazil has a democratically elected president, Lula da Silva. The people of Bolivia just elected an indigenous Andean as their president. The attempts to subvert and overthrow the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, have failed. Indeed, after Hurricane Katrina, Chávez offered to provide aid for the victims. The Bush crime family refused his offer. Bush's phony talk about democracy has actually inspired people to stand up for themselves, an end which was no part of his intention, to coin a phrase.

The American people have been largely blind to what has been done in their name for so many decades. The vast majority of Americans are too wrapped up in living their daily lives - going to work, raising families, being involved in their communities, recreating, and worshipping.

They also have been cleverly manipulated by the various cultural phenomena that dominate their perceptions and responses: the mass media of television, radio, movies, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, and video games; by demagogic politicians, who rely on emotional appeals, scare tactics, scapegoating, and lying; and by preachers of various denominations, who use the same demagogic methods as politicians, with the added threat of eternal damnation for non-believers (or, more accurately, non-followers).

These various forces have all converged to the situation we now have. The universe, being a dynamic force, moves, or progresses from one condition to the next in an ever-mutating process. A nation that sponsors subversion, destruction, and large scale murder around the planet will eventually reach a kind of critical mass, a crescendo of evil.

We are now at that point. The Bush crime family, in its short-sightedness, has taken a syndrome, or Gestalt of hegemonic(dominance) practices, and gone wild. They have gone for broke, literally, in a vain attempt to control the entire planet. The silliness of the attempt boggles the mind. George W. Bush, absolute ruler of Planet Earth. He makes the mythical Wizard of Oz look like a piker. If there were an all-star team for delusions of grandeur, Bush will be a first-stringer. He has come a long way from his cheerleading days.

As far as Mr. Scheuer is concerned, with his supposed expertise about Osama bin Laden, a few words are in order. First, Osama bin Laden is likely no longer alive. If he had kidney disease to the degree that required hemodialysis on a regular basis, and hemodialysis is not so readily available when one is hiding to avoid capture, then it is safe to say that he is probably dead.

Then there is the ever-hyped threat of "Al-Qaida." Woo! So exotic. Why don't we spell it Al Kyda? Not so exotic, is it? How about Al Caida? Or Al Keida? Al Kieda. It looks and sounds like some guy's name. What "Al-Kaida" actually means is "The base." We don't read or hear on the news that "The base is on the run," or "The base attacked a U.S. base in Saudi Arabia," or "The base is suspected in insurgent attacks." Doesn't sound so formidable, does it? We need a bugaboo, a sinister, mysterious, exotic and powerful foe in order to drum up emotion, fear, and compliance.

What Osama bin Laden said he wanted was for United States troops to be removed from his home country, "Saudi Arabia," a monarchical dictatorship supported as one of the client states of American and British "interests." His involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks is unclear, but it appears he at least had foreknowledge.

Whatever the involvement of Osama bin Laden, the largest causative factor in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was the active negligence of the Bush crime family. The only sensible explanation for that level of negligence, and indeed interference with protection of the country, is that the attacks were what the Bush crime family wanted. They were enabled.

It is a time-honored saying that crime doesn't pay. The Bush crime family is not capable of learning this truth, being sociopathic criminals, but we can learn. We now know that the power structure of this country has been fomenting great evil around the world, and for a long time.

There is no longer any excusable reason for not knowing this truth. To go along with the evil, to promote it, to lie about it, to make rationalizations about it, and to support it is to ally oneself with the darkest forces of the human spirit. Such alliance has consequences for one's soul, and does not bode well for progress to higher states of being. It may bode well for a few pieces of silver in the present, but the nature of the universe is impermanence. The silver is soon spent, as is the incarnate body. We all reap what we sow in our lives. The Bush crime family will reap what it has sown, and the cavalier torturer Michael Scheuer will also. If you share in their criminality, you can expect to share in their harvest. Rendering unto Caesar what is not rightfully Caesar's just might result in another kind of rendition. A most extraordinary rendition.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Animal farm

This picture is from the website FactoryFarming (http://www.factoryfarming.com/gallery/pigs15.htm). To find out more about the issues related to corporate pig production, this site is also informative: http://www.goveg.com/f-top10pigs.asp
If this picture looks painfully similar to your own life, at least you can say you are not alone. Except we are alone, at least compared to animals caught in the web of the mass industrial system. When we drive on freeways in our cars we tend to be driving alone. When we work in jobs of mass employment we tend to be working alone or independently of others. When we engage in mass entertainment, we are either watching TV alone, or going to events where we are in a mass with strangers. Even in worship we organize in masses that are increasingly anonymous. Our "democracy" is based on mass voting for distant candidates, and the voting, thanks to corporations like Diebold, is easily manipulated and defrauded.

Alone or in concert with other people, our lives are bound by the near-omnipresence of the mass system. Like in the picture above, we are herded, filed, threatened, and disposed of in a regimented, aggregated manner. Just looking at the picture should arouse a bit of intuition that this is not the way we should be producing food, and it also is not the way we should be living our lives.

Since things weren’t always this way, it can safely be said that they won’t always be this way in the future. The industrial model of world organization is only one of many ways to organize societies, and it reached its peak of popularity and preeminence after World War II. The booming postwar economy, the advent of television, the expanded use of the automobile and the proliferation of suburbia, all combined to create the illusion of abundance, freedom, leisure, and luxury.

But times have changed. Jobs are fleeing overseas. Driving is tedium, and gasoline supplies are heading toward decline. TV is mostly crap, its content driven by the crudest dictates of the profit motive. And our country’s morality is breaking down, led by the rampant and blatant criminality of the country’s leadership, both corporate and governmental.

Then there is the environment, the ecosystem, the web of life on the planet. It is breaking down, and eventually will complete the process if the presence of man continues on its present path.

Into this milieu came the Bush crime family in January 2001. For them, the mass industrial system provided the perfect context for their plan for world domination, for endless rule, for vast wealth for their corporate sponsors, and for horrific punishment for those who would oppose them. The torture they have sponsored around the world was intended as both an experiment and an object lesson for the entire planet. They could institutionalize the practice of torture, perfect the methods, and terrorize all who might interfere with their plans.

At least that was how it was supposed to work. The best laid plans of mice and men often gang awry, though, and the plans of the Bush crime family were not so best laid. Torture, for example, turns out not to be so effective in terrorizing the planet. It terrorizes the people being tortured, but has the effect of emboldening those who aren’t being tortured. It also causes a lot of revulsion around the world, which creates public relations problems for the criminals who depend so much on public relations. Among the ruling elites, the embarrassment of supporting a torture regime also has its costs. If the American corporate system appears to be an immoral presence on the planet without any proper ethical standards, then the rest of the planet will have to save itself in spite of and in opposition to this system. They will have to organize against the American corporate and military empire for their own survival.

The American people, of course, will also have to organize against the corporate and military empire. It will not be enough to rid ourselves of the Bush crime family. Unless the system is changed, another, likely more competent and diabolical criminal organization will step into the vacuum. The system itself is set up for criminality. The crime "family" that controls it is only the most visible manifestation. Bush himself is little more than a pitch man for his criminal organization. The real decisions are made by people like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Wolfowitz, and God knows who else.

Since the Bush crime family is now in its downfall phase, we are at a time of historic opportunity. We can bring the Bush criminal organization to justice, preferably in Nuremberg-style war crimes trials, and we should punish them as befits their crimes. I prefer life at hard labor for the entire bunch of them. I don’t like capital punishment for the simple reason that someone has to be hired to commit premeditated murder. That is not an activity that is proper for anyone in a civilized society, whether for pay or otherwise.

But the real opportunity here is to change the system. Change it we must, and change it we will. We have no choice. Because of climate change, also known as global warming, we will change whether we like it or not. We will keep having debacles like Hurricane Katrina until and after we do. "Brownie" was a luxury of the era of the Bush crime family. The days of such luxury are over. We will, if we wish to survive, have competent, honest leadership at all levels. We will live in such a way as to keep natural and man-made disasters to an absolute minimum.

So, as I love to say to all the Bush haters, of which there are many, George W. Bush is a blessing. What if he were a competent criminal? What if he really knew how to run an effective, viable, long-lasting criminal operation? What if he were not a brain-damaged drug and alcohol addict? What if he were not a military deserter? What if he really had a record as a successful entrepeneur? What if he had great personal appeal, like, say, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, or Julia Roberts? What if he were an electrifying speaker? What if he had great intelligence? What if, like Hitler, he had real beliefs beyond crude narcissism?

Thankfully, he has none of these qualities. If someone this low can become the leader of the most powerful economic and military presence in history, then someone more competently evil can also attain the office. We should consider ourselves lucky. We also cannot waste this opportunity. Otherwise, we are as dumb and incompetent as Bush and his cronies. And equally criminal. Maybe the pigs can do better.