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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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Disempowering the Bush crime family Disempowering the Bush crime family Disempowering the Bush crime family

The 'most powerful man on Earth,' according to materialistsI read a few "leftist" blogs and websites for information and analysis, and a couple of the best are "Another day in the empire" and "Empire Burlesque." The authors, Kurt Nimmo and Chris Floyd, offer hard to find facts, sharp analysis, and insightful observations. They both have keen understanding of the Bush crime family, but they focus on its nature as an ideological entity: that the gang is driven by a "fascist" vision of the future, with an authoritarian system that brutally controls the domestic population while fomenting imperial wars worldwide.

This is where we part company. As should be plainly obvious, George W. Bush, animal torturer, military deserter, drug and alcohol addict, corporate criminal, election thief, enabler (or worse) of the largest attack on United States soil in its history, liar, invader of weak countries, spreader of depleted uranium, human torturer, lawless detainer of foreign nationals, illegal spy on American citizens, negligent enabler of the country's worst natural disaster and its aftermath, and promoter of environmental destruction, has no "vision." He has no "ideology." He has no "beliefs," other than in his own power, privilege, wealth, and impunity. In other words, his "ideology" is his own ego.

The group of people who made him their "front man" are no better. Their "beliefs" are mere window dressing. Their "ideology" is dross. What they are, in essence, are criminals. Liars. Mass murderers. Thieves. Torturers. Cowards. For what they have planned and implemented for the planet, they qualify as some of the worst people in history. To anoint them with an "ideology" not only is inaccurate, but distracts from their true mission - criminality - and empowers them far beyond what their crimes should "merit."

Which brings up another area where I part company with these and other "leftists." Because they are ideologues themselves, they are limited to seeing the Bush crime family as ideologues. In a struggle of ideologies, they see the "neocons" as all-powerful, and the imperial plans of the Bush crime family as fait accompli.

This presumption of self-powerlessness extends relative to the forces of nature and, of course, to higher realities. One of the essences of "leftism" is "atheism," which literally means "without God." What it really should be called is "antitheism," against the existence of "God." At the root of the problem is a combination of arrogance and an extremely limited, materialistic conception of "God" as simply a very big, powerful "person." An old man in a white beard. It's a straw man argument: set up a definition of "God" in a very narrow, anthropomorphised way, and then "disprove" the existence of the limited being you have created.

In this simplistic view, a material entity like the Bush crime family would seem to have attained the level of "all-powerful," or omnipotence. Without realizing it, "leftists" are in fact "theists." Someone or something has to have a rank of "God," even to materialists. In lieu of recognizing that Divine experience is even possible, not to mention fairly commonplace, "leftists" have ceded the Divine to the evil among us. For that they should be scolded, ridiculed, shamed, and given a good share of the blame for the success of lawless operations like those of the Bush crime family.

I have said it many times before in this blog, and I say it again. No criminal operation, and especially this one, is going to take over the world. In the face of Climate Change, also known as Global Warming, the planet requires competence, integrity, decency, humility, and honesty. We either solve the pressing problems of environmental destruction, overpopulation, disease, the unsustainability of our economic system, and social decay or we go extinct as a species.

We do not have the option of passing this responsibility off to a criminal gang, though many of us would like to. A criminal gang is only capable of crime. Their grasp of "power" can only become increasingly painful for them as well as the rest of us, the longer they and we avoid facing the realities that are daily becoming more obvious.

Then there is Divine intervention, a touchy subject. Having experienced the Divine many times, I can easily trust His/Her/Its presence and participation. As Iris Dement put it, I can also let the mystery be, and trust that the intervention is not rare, but continuous, and manifests in both ordinary and astounding ways. It's hard for me to comprehend the cynicism and futility of "atheism."

So I recommend having faith, not giving up, taking "leftists" for what they are, making use of what they provide, thanking them for whatever service they perform, and moving on, doing our own work as we see fit to the best of our ability. The Bush crime family will not be with us much longer.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A pledge worth reciting

Click on the image for a bigger version. You can copy and paste it into Word, Photoshop, Photodraw, PhotoEditor, etc., and make copies to give to friends. An organization called One World Movement is trying to promote the principles of the Global Pledge of Allegiance worlwide.

The Global pledge of allegiance. It's a tad more universal than the 'one nation, under God, indivisible' oath that we know so well. By the way, what does 'under God' mean anyway?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

One generation

Saja JaffarWhenever I wonder why I keep doing this blog, all I have to do is look at these two pictures. The first is of a little girl named Saja Jaffar, who Kids for peacewas wounded in the bombing of a Baghdad market March 28, 2003 by U.S. forces. The second picture is from the "Preemptive peace march," held in Madison on February 1, 2003. Over 8,000 people marched that day, believing the Bush crime family would be responsive to public opinion. The march was led by "Kids for peace."

A lot has happened since those two days in 2003. Many children have been killed, maimed, displaced, and orphaned. The Canadian is reporting today that the U.S. invasion is responsible for over 250,000 civilian deaths. Much more suffering is on the way. Enough depleted uranium has been spread around the country and the planet to insure many decades of disease and death.

Then there are the problems we aren't dealing with, like Global Warming, resource depletion, overpopulation, and disease pandemics. (See also "The bears of Churchill" for a good analysis of Climate Change. You may have to pay for it.)

So I'll keep posting information, analysis, and whatever insight I can add to the dialogue. In the future I plan on moving away from writing about the Bush crime family. It should be clear to anyone with any sense that our system is being ruled by sociopaths. More important is how we can be about it, as well as what we can do about it.

An offering to the Great SpiritIf we keep the the children of the world in mind, we will be guided in the right direction. It has been attributed to the Iroquois Confederacy that our actions should be planned by keeping in mind the next seven generations. Western man can start by taking the initial step: planning for the next one generation.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Humpty Dumpty is about to have a great fall

Look at me! I'm the greatest!In exploring the likelihood that the bombing of the Askiriya mosque was done by an American-British-Israeli "black ops" group, I thought back to the various democratic, distributive, decentralized governments our CIA has overthrown over the decades since I was born. What was so bad, I wonder, about Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán of Guatemala? What was so bad about Patrice Lumumba of Congo? What was so bad about Sukarno of Indonesia? Of Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia? Salvador Allende of Chile? Mohammed Mossadegh of Iran? Abdul Karim Qassim of Iraq, who, though not democratically elected, was a democrat in terms of his advocacy?

What was so bad about U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld?

What was so bad about the many other political and social leaders around the planet who have been murdered by either CIA operatives or by people they trained and armed, such as the death squads of Central America, especially in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras?

What was so bad about the many millions of ordinary people in countries around the world who have been "disappeared," tortured, murdered, and mutilated in actions sponsored by the CIA and other entities of the north of Mexico, south of Canada power and money elite? What was so bad about the people of Vietnam? According to former agent of the Central Intelligence Agency John Stockwell, six million people planetwide have been killed in CIA covert actions.

What these various "targets" had in common was that they did not submit to the dominance of the United States of America’s ruling elite. Many, if not most of the six million killed planetwide were just victims of circumstance - in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It invites visceral reaction from reptilian brain-dominated people to call the assassinations "U.S." sponsored. The CIA has always been a combination of intelligence gathering and covert, illegal, criminal actions done in furtherance of the purposes of the powerful moneyed elite of America. In other words, it has been a hit squad for a mafia. The well-being of the masses of people in the United States plays no role in their activities.

Some would say the CIA is a power unto itself, but it isn’t. No doubt there has been a lot of free-lance crime committed by CIA operatives, such as drug-running, gun-running, money laundering, murder, extortion, blackmail, probably some armed robbery, etc. But the agency serves its masters, and if it strays from that mission, it will be corrected or replaced. Any drug-running, gun-running, money laundering, murder, extortion, blackmail, probably some armed robbery, etc. done on a large scale is done to serve the interests of the ruling elite of the United States.

This is not likely to change any time soon because people are what they repeatedly do. If what you do is subversion, assassination, "black ops," drug-running, gun-running, labor union suppression, and political chicanery, then that becomes your operational expertise and institutional momentum. Doing something positive like solving the problems of Climate Change and pandemic disease control is not in the CIA’s area of expertise, interest, or mission. Expect more of what the CIA is "good" at.

So how does the rest of the planet go about solving the critical problems we all face? Is the CIA an all-powerful force for mischief? Is the ruling elite of the United States an all-powerful force for mischief and inhumanity? Is the situation hopeless? Are we doomed?

Hardly. For one thing, the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency, is an artifice, an entity that exists as a man-made abstraction. If a person joins "the agency," he or she joins a collection of other people who also have joined a collection of other people. The collection exists as long as people think it exists. So it is more an agreement than anything else. Of course, enough people agree that it exists that the joiners get paid, they get expense allowances, training, dirty deed assignments, and diplomatic "cover." But the root of it all is the collective fiction that the entity has a real existence.

What people around the planet need to recognize is that their real enemy is not the CIA, but the interests that it serves. These interests are not confined to the United States of America. The interests of the powerful money elites worldwide are the same. They are interested in themselves, in their wealth and power, and in having more, more, more, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! To serve the interests of the rich and powerful, any crime, any murder, any massacre, any poisoning of the Earth, any destruction of the ecosystem is not only acceptable, but sought, desired, praised, and mythologized. Especially in combination with religious zealotry, heinous acts attain a strange, honored status.

This is a form of mental illness. It can be called narcissism, conceit, arrogance, superiority complex, greed, callousness, compartmentalization, sociopathy, psychopathy, self-absorption, smugness, and hubris. Megalomania is another label. But whatever label we give the disease state of the rich and powerful, it is they whom the civilizationists among us must understand as the impediments to any kind of meaningful future. The rich themselves must also come to recognize that it is they who are the threat to all life on this planet.

But we cannot wait for the good will of the rich to save our future. We must find our own ways to change how the planet, in lieu of an actual benevolent leadership class, interacts with the human species. The unendowed masses of people of the planet must make the needed changes on our own.

How to do it? A perfect example is Iraq. We can be sure that the colonial powers, past and present, are not going to do anything that is good for the masses of people in that "country." So a solution has to be found without them. The Muslim nations of the world are plenty angry and humiliated about what has been done by the Bush crime family since September 11, 2001. They aren’t so happy about the way they are treated by the European nations either.

A conference of Muslim nations would be a good place to find a solution. If Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Indonesia, Malaysia, Algeria, Bahrain, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kuwait, the African Muslim states, and the other Muslim countries could get together in a "Bretton Woods"-type conclave, a humane settlement of the Iraq debacle can be found. This conference would also include representatives from India, which contains the second largest Muslim population on the planet.

I can think of a few points that such a meeting would likely decide:

1. The United States of America and Great Britain will have no presence or control whatsoever of the land and people of "Iraq," if the country is actually to continue.

2. Whether the "country" of Iraq, created by the British, will continue in its present form is to be decided by a combination of the inhabitants of "Iraq" and the other countries involved.

3. The oil of "Iraq" will be controlled by the people who actually live there in a democratic manner, most particularly in an economically democratic manner.

4. Economic aid will be provided by the invaders, paying restitution for the invasion, destruction, lawlessness and occupation.

5. The military defense and establishment of law and order will be provided by the Muslim nations of the world until such time as the people of "Iraq" can adequately provide these protections for themselves.

6. The planners, perpetrators, and profiteers from the invasion and occupation of "Iraq" will be tried at an appropriate international tribunal, and the guilty punished according to international standards.

7. The participating nations and peoples in this conference will continue to work together to find solutions to other problems, such as the depletion of the oil supply, Global Warming, overpopulation, environmental destruction, and the overall cause, the narcissism of the rich and powerful.

There. That wasn’t too hard. A real conference might come up with some different results, but it’s not likely that they will decide to have the future of Iraq controlled by the Bush crime family. It is also not likely that Iraq’s future would include "U.S." military bases. Neither would it include having Iraq’s reconstruction controlled by Halliburton and Bechtel.

Like such a conference, intelligent, civilization-minded, decent people worldwide can come up with all kinds of ideas to save the planet, and find ways to work cooperatively. The links on the left side of this blog include some of the organizations that are already doing incredible things to save our planet and our species, as well as the many other species with whom we coexist. These groups are also interacting with each other in order to strengthen their effectiveness and synergize their efforts.

Along with this vital work, it is important to realize that the mafia of the rich has no answers, and as long as the dominant economic order on the planet is the Global Warming system, all life is threatened. At some point, maybe even this year, the reality of the mafia of the rich will become clear. Without a supporting ecosphere, economic activity will cease. At some point, maybe this year, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will not be able to put the Humpty Dumpty of the world economic-political-military order back together again. No Bush crime family or any other crime family is going to prevail, to be in power. They will not have the support network of a cooperating ecosystem. The mafia of the rich depends on Global Warming producing technology for its very life. No Global Warming economic system, no mafia of the rich.

So we shouldn’t be dismayed or cowed by the seeming power of the mafia of the rich and their various murders and destruction around the planet. They are not alchemists. They are not transcendent of consequences. They are just failed human beings, and their time of evil is coming to an end. With a little effort and good intentions, we should be able to save ourselves and our posterity in spite of them. Time is on our side.

Note to servants of the rich and powerful: You are welcome to join the great mass of humanity in our common efforts to heal the planet and create a liveable future. You can come in from the cold, so to speak, by turning evidence on the criminals you serve. Others have done it before you, and if you don't like the way they did it, you can use your creativity, sense of responsibility, and knowledge to do it your own way. No one should be left out of the great task that lies before us. The need is too great, and we are all in this together.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The theory of the second best

The Al Askari mosque, before and afterA couple of commentaries I found on the Web today have me going through a bit of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. One raised the question of whether the current plan of the Bush crime family is to sponsor a Salvador-style death squad campaign to both terrorize the Iraqi people and to foment a civil war between the Sunnis and Shiites. The other described how workers in Communist Vietnam are being oppressed by the government in various sweatshops that make products for McDonalds, Disney, Hallmark, and Starbucks. The author, Chris Floyd, contends that, after 45 years, the U.S. finally "won" the Vietnam war.

When I was studying Economics, one of the heady theories being bandied about was the "Theory of the second best," having to do with adjustments to be made when optimal conditions are not met. It sounds more sophisticated than it is, meaning simply that when you can’t have your first choice, you go to your second choice. One of the foreign students in the department understood it perfectly. He said it is the method employed by the CIA. When they can’t get their first choice, they always go to a second choice, typically to cause mayhem, and “pick the carcass” when the people of a country have been sufficiently brutalized.

This appears to be what is now taking place in Iraq, with death squads being trained by American forces, agents, and private contractors. There has been much speculation about the bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines. One hypothesis I remember suggested it was done by the British, hoping to change the subject from the embarrassing publicity about the beatings of teenagers in Basra. No one has taken credit for the bombing, fueling more speculation. Kurt Nimmo raised the question of a "Black Op" in his blog, Another day in the empire.

Of two things we can be certain: One is that the Bush crime family has a lot of evil up its dirty sleeves, and the suffering in Iraq is likely to get worse for a long time to come. If nothing else, the BCF has to work feverishly just to stay out of jail. The more the war stagnates and casualties rise, the more people get angry, and also more likely is damaging "secret" information to surface.

The other thing we can be certain about is that international capital, manifest in the form of corporations, is determined to be the controlling force on this planet, transcending governments, economic systems, the ecosystem, and the great masses of people worldwide. Whether capitalist, communist, socialist, fascist, democracy, social democracy, dictatorship, monarchy, constitutional monarchy, oligarchy, theocracy, or anarcho-syndicalist, or any other socio-economic construct – the high priests of international corporatism are hell-bent on being in control, and all other systems are subsumed under their power.

But, as Robert Burns once observed, the best laid schemes o’ mice an' men gang aft a-gley. The best laid schemes of international corporatism include the negation of Mother Nature, a not too wise omission. Or, as the Grateful Dead once put it, a man is just a man, and a conspiracy of men is still just one man in duplicate or multiplicate.

So, as I have said in a number of ways in this blog, the great planners and schemers can plan and scheme all they want, but there’s a slow train comin’. Global Warming, of course, will be the phenomenon that trumps everything else. That is, unless something greater than Global Warming comes around.

It kind of makes you wonder, just for musing’s sake, what might be the CIA’s second best solution to Global Warming? And what would be their first solution? Time to start working, boys. Voyeurism and death merchandising are not exactly skills that are going to be much help.

Monday, March 20, 2006

As above, so below

Some of the children massacred in IshaqiI was going to let last Friday’s posting sit for a while as the most recent, but today read about last Wednesday’s massacre of an Iraqi family in the town of Ishaqi. Eleven to fifteen people, including four young children, and one 7 month old baby were killed. Our military has said they were all members of Al-Qaida. It is unclear whether all of them were shot in the back of the head, but it appears that almost all of them were. Pictures of the victims can be seen here. The story accompanying the pictures can be found here.

One thing to emphasize is that this is only one of many cases of massacre of civilians by U.S. forces in Iraq, and that many pictures exist of past atrocities. What I think is different this time is that we are at something of a tipping point in the Iraq debacle, where it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Bush crime family to create plausible deniability about the war, its deceitful genesis, the atrocities that occur there on a regular basis, and its price in national honor, treasure, and prestige.

All this is because the U.S. Supreme Court inserted George W. Bush into the office of President of the United States. It is also because our criminal corporations have given billions of dollars to influence elections and to bribe politicians. And it is because our major news media - print, broadcast, and virtual - have enabled the crimes of the political class with their superficial, dishonest, and propagandistic disinformation campaigns. Rotting in Hell, if such a place or state of being exists, would suit them all just fine. If it doesn't exist, well, I'm glad I'm not them. Nobody gets away with anything. (For an almost comically absurd description of U.S. media coverage, click here.)

A tough guy. We'll see how tough he really is in the next year or so. We already know he can shoot.We can expect an increasing number of massacres as the war becomes even more futile, compounded by the criminality at the highest levels. A management teacher I used to assist would often say that the pace of an organization is set by the person at the top. At the top of the U.S. chain of command sits George W. Bush, incompetent and omnicriminal. His management team is made up of people who are equally incompetent and omnicriminal. With such mediocrity at the top, should we expect better at the bottom?

Friday, March 17, 2006

The long nightmare is soon to end

Mission accomplished. Our mission will soon be accomplished too - the arrest and incarceration of everyone involved in the planning and perpetration of the greatest criminal scheme in history - the global takeover by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Woops. I mean the Bush crime family.There’s a bit of buzz on the Internet on how the Bush crime family is planning another September 11, 2001-type attack in order to justify invading Iran. A couple of scenarios can be found here and here.

Given the BCF's track record, it's not out of the question that they would try to start a new war to cover their tracks on the previous one. It's like a Ponzi scheme. If the BCF has been involved in the crimes that a lot of people believe they have been involved in, such as complicity in the September 11 attacks, then an attempt at a new war is likely, regardless of the consequences for the planet.

Should we be concerned? Afraid? Alarmed? Hysterical? Outraged? After all, according to the bumper stickers, if you aren't outraged, you aren't paying attention.

My answer is simple. I'm not outraged, but I am paying attention. Outrage doesn't accomplish anything and wastes energy. The crime spree of the Bush gang has gone far enough. They have managed to sucker the entire Republican Party, a good part of the Democratic Party, the officer corps of the U.S. military, much of the Federal judiciary, and the apparatus of the Federal law enforcement agencies into their criminal schemes since approximately September 12, 2001. I suspect these officials are getting a bit tired of it. The "leftist" view is that the military and legal establishment has no honor, but they are human beings, and their honor will come around eventually.

The scam the Bush crime family is building for an attack/invasion/bombing/whatever of Iran is likely to fail for the same wrong reasons that the invasion/occupation of Iraq has failed: it is a criminal operaration, with all the careful planning of Disney's Beagle Boys. I don't buy the "leftist" argument that the Iraq war was guided by ideology. All credible evidence shows that it was for purely criminal purposes - greed, avarice, sadism, murder, destruction, theft, deceit, and for political gain, usually a criminal endeavor in this day and age.

Now the honor of the entire nation is on the line. Is the United States of America going to be remembered in history, if there is a history, as the worst rogue criminal state known to mankind? If we continue in the direction the Bush crime family wants, this is the certain result.

I'm confident that the the officer corps of the U.S. military, much of the Federal judiciary, and the apparatus of the Federal law enforcement agencies are reaching the point where they have to choose humanity over careerism, honor over cowardice, life over death, and good over evil. The political parties are of a different sort. They will go along with any scam, any crime, any evil if there were at least a smidgeon of gain from it. If the law enforcement and military apparatus of this country is not capable of stopping the criminal spree of the Bush gang, then we are through as a democracy, through as a country, and through as a people. I don't think they want to throw it all away for a bunch of pantywaist crooks like the Bush crime family. Not only is there no honor to be had, but the consequences, the reapings, are likely to last for a long, long time. A few pieces of silver are not much compensation for trading in your morality and ethics. Making general, attorney general, solicitor general, or surgeon general are not much compensation for you soul.

So we should cheer up. The country is about to come to its senses, led by whatever vestiges of honor remain among our ruling elites. The Bush crime family, like Ma Barker, Pretty Boy Floyd, John Dillinger, Al Capone, Clyde Barrow, and Bonnie Parker before it, is going to start finding itself surrounded, figuratively before literally, but literally in the end. Have faith.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Russ Feingold for President!

The next President of the United StatesA couple of items on NPR's Morning Edition caught my attention today. One was about a trial of members of the Aryan Brotherhood that is beginning, and the other was a repeat of a story about Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's call for a resolution censuring George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, for criminal activity related to domestic spying.

What connection, you may ask, is there between these two stories? That's easy, if you are me. The seemingly obvious connection is that the Aryan Brotherhood is a white supremacist organization, and Feingold's announcement was greeted with derision by Bill Frist, alleged racist from Tennessee. It's not much of a connection, and it's not what caught my ear, but it's close. What I found similar was that one of the people interviewed for the Aryan Brotherhood segment told of how the gang has degenerated into a low-grade mafia, with inmates being attacked and often killed for the flimsiest of reasons. Russ Feingold was attacked, verbally, for staging a "political stunt," a publicity gimmick, and of overreaching partisanship by Frist and others. His fellow Democrats have not exactly warmed to the idea of censure either.

So in spite of Bush's at least criminal negligence before the September 11, 2001 attacks, his lying to promote his invasion of Iraq, his lying to hide his defeat in Iraq, his incompetence in advance of and after Hurricane Katrina, his illegal spying on American citizens, his sponsorship of torture and illegal detention worldwide, his irresponsible spending and tax cuts, his theft of two presidential elections, and his treasonous role in the public revelation of the identity of a U.S. Government intelligence officer, and obstruction of the investigation of same, both the Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress find holding him responsible to be outside the bounds of thinkable thought.

Sounds to me a bit like a mafia. A large group of people who enable and protect the criminal activity of a strong authoritarian leader, deriving great benefits from that enabling and protection. I know it may seem like a stretch to refer to George W. Bush as a strong leader, but it is not his personal strength that is of concern. He is a personally weak man, but his organization is strong, enough to perpetrate great crimes with impunity, and to plan for even greater perfidy. That is strength.

So the U.S. is run by a big mafia, just like Ralph Nader said. Actually, Nader didn't use the word mafia, but he might as well have. I believe the term he used was one big political party, with a "left" wing and a "right" wing. As I have said many times, I don't believe the spectrum of "left" and "right" exists, and that the metaphor is both mathematically incorrect, asymmetrical, and unreflective of real phenomena. Of course, that doesn't slow the adherents (addicts) to the metaphor one teensy-weensy little bit.

But I digress. Mafia is the more correct term because controlling political discourse, activity, law enforcement, legislation, reward, and allocation of resources is literally a matter of life and death, affecting billions of people worldwide. As Bush expands his power, the country veers in the direction of dictatorship, which is exactly the way mafias are governed. Indeed, real-life fascist Benito Mussolini said that fascism should really be called corporatism. Ultimately, because of the dependency of Congresspersons in both houses on corporate largesse for their political survival, the system is corporatist, but the monikers matter little. It is deeds that count. Very few people in the U.S. Congress care one whit about you or me, except as marks for their con game, otherwise known as "elections."

Given this predicament, the call for censure by Russ Feingold is an act of great courage, integrity, humility, and forthrightness. As the various pretendenders of the "wings" of the Republicrat Party jockey for position, pose, and "game" their "stances" on preselected political parameters, Feingold has outsmarted them all. Try as they may to maginalize the proposal, Bush deserves to be in jail, and censure is but the beginning in doing what needs to be done. The American people have had enough of Bush, and they have had enough of the rotten Congress we now have. We need problem solvers, not organized criminals. Bill Frist can squawk all he wants, but the times they are a changin'.

For the doubters, I always have to end with my reiteration that Climate Change, also known as Global Warming, is becoming increasingly serious at an increasing rate. In other words, it is accelerating. The mafia that runs this country cannot deal with it because they are a mafia, a crime syndicate. Their business and their skill is crime, not solving problems. Watch what they try to do this year as the weather goes wild. It will be a big nothing posing as a big something. Tornado season, already more serious than last year, will be followed by hurricane season, with forest and now prairie fire season intersecting both periods. Eventually, as the mafia approach sinks into utter failure and collapse, room will be made for problem solvers.

If not, we roll in our own filth, like dogs, only worse. Dogs have their own instinctive reasons for rolling in filth, and they don't do it as an alternative to ethical living. We are very near to rolling in our own filth as it is, so there's a bit of hanging in the balance going on. Ever the optimist, I think we will choose civilization. It might be this year.

Feingold for President!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Looking back, looking forward

The oaf visits New Orleans. He's the one with the Texas Ranger belt. You can get your own at http://www.cowtowncowboy.com/Content/Product-40-1-134.htmIf we are fortunate enough to survive the Bush era with some semblance of civilization, and I believe we will be, the serious work of saving ourselves and our decency will begin. Of course, the number one priority will be undoing the damage of the age of fossil fuels, but there will also be much serious analysis and literary critique of this sordid time in history. How a complete oaf could become president of the most powerful country in history will be the subject of much study, ridicule, wonder, hypothesis, and conjecture.

Even more interesting will be the theorizing of how a raw criminal organization could so easily take over the country and have its people effectively fooled and manipulated for as long as did the Bush crime family. The BCF is not through yet, so they no doubt have a few tricks up their sleeves, but the fooling and manipulating is finally starting to fail. Reality has a pretty ruthless way of eventually separating the wheat from the chaff. It’s one thing to create a frenzy for invading another country. It’s quite another to actually do the invasion, and then go about the business of occupying the country and controlling its people and the country’s future. It’s one thing to bluster about competence and integrity, but quite another to prepare for and provide aid and reconstruction after a major hurricane. It’s one thing to boast about creating a competent, affordable health care system, but quite another to actually create it.

Hubris, conceit, smugness, haughtiness, pomposity, effrontery - all synonyms for arrogance - explain much about the "success" of the Bush crime family. You can find the same thing all day long on Fox News, but also to a considerable degree on the major TV networks. Tim Russert and George Will immediately come to mind. The worst, of course, is the now melting into the floor Bill O’Reilly, but his imitators around the country are multitudinous, whether on the air or not.

Indeed, it can truthfully be said that the single greatest factor in the long-running success of the Bush criminal operation is the complicity, cheerleading, myth-making, and suppression of dissent provided by the "news" and public affairs operations of the major print and broadcast media. The New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox all gave critical and indispensable aid to the Bush crime family in its efforts to create propaganda cover for its various schemes. (If you would like to hear a bit of truth about what really goes on at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, click here. It's the program titled "Habeas Schmabeas.")

Then there are the criminal relationships between major corporations and the Federal government. As is being revealed in the Jack Abramoff scandal, the U.S. Congress is almost totally for sale, and the regulating agencies are equally bought and paid for through both tradition and political control.

This criminality also thrives at the state level, but the tide may be turning. The former speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Scott Jensen, was convicted yesterday on three felony counts for secretly turning staff, offices and equipment at the Legislature into a massive campaign machine. Jensen, a Republican, chose to fight the charges at trial rather than accept a plea bargain like his smarter Democratic counterparts, accused of the very same crimes. Hubris has its costs, as it turns out. Jensen will probably get at least a couple of years in jail. His rise to power was during the heyday of former governor Tommy Thompson, who seemed for his 14 years in office to be invincible, and created the climate of corruption that led to today’s shame. Tommy Thompson’s day is also likely to come.

All this will change because it has to. We have to solve the problem of Climate Change. We have to solve the problems of criminal government, news media, and corporate behavior. We have to solve the problems of worldwide warfare and its corporate promotion and profiteering. We have to solve the problems of overpopulation and destruction of the environment. We have to solve the problem of the unsustainability of our economic system. We have to solve the problem of crackpot religious fanatics trying to take over the world, most particularly the "Christian" "fundamentalists" of the United States of America.

We will. We will solve all these problems because the alternative is a combination of chaos, descent into madness, universal poverty, rampant disease, and collapse of any semblance of civil society. Even the rich and otherwise privileged would get caught in the maelstrom, and they will find the prospect less attractive than loss of wealth and privilege. It is the rich and otherwise privileged who brought us the Bush crime family, and it has been they who have enabled its various schemes and flim-flammery. They did it to enhance their own wealth and power, and any solution requires an accounting.

So for anyone looking to the future, the first question to ask is what kind of future we will have if we keep doing things like they are done today. Then ask what the world will look like if we change our ways to a survivable and sustainable civilization. Then the question to ask is what it would take to get to such a future. We are humans. We can figure it out. We have plenty of information. What we need is a bit of wisdom, virtue, and clarity. Thanks to our corporations and the Bush crime family, we have firm knowledge of what not to do.

In this context, it will be interesting and amusing to watch as the DLC (Democratic Leadership Council), composed of "elite" members of the Democratic Party, tries to control and manipulate the political process in the coming years. Smelling blood, these schemers believe that all they have to do is pose as "not Bush," and they can then pull the same kinds of criminality as the BCF, just more competently. The DLC gave us Bill Clinton, and as far as they are concerned, that's good enough. Since actually solving problems that have to be solved is not part of their scheme, they will fail miserably. They are as corporate-sponsored as the Bush crime family, guaranteeing their demise as a force for change. In this day and age, anyone sponsored by corporations is a crook. Again, we have to solve the problems critical to our survival as a species. Since necessity is the mother of invention, we will have to come up with something new, and especially something other than the "Bush-lite" posturing of the Democratic Leadership Council (Prediction: they will change their name.)

It's a great time to be alive.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Manadel Al Jamadi, murdered at Abu GhraibPeople in Wisconsin are reeling in shock and disgust as details emerge about a grisly rape and murder committed last Halloween. All evidence indicates that a man wrongly convicted of rape in 1986 was the killer. The victim was a free-lance photographer who was called to take an advertisement photo of a car the suspect was trying to sell.

It is always alarming and revolting when such a crime happens in our midst. We wonder how anyone can be so cruel and vicious. In the case of the accused in this crime, Steven Avery, he apparently was a habitual criminal before and after his incarceration. But that isn’t much help in gaining an understanding of his depravity.

I have avoided reading about this case, but when the article about the involvement of Avery’s nephew appeared, I gave in. The horror that the victim, Teresa Halbach, experienced is unfathomable. It is hard to believe that people walk amongst us who commit such acts.

Hard to believe, unless, of course, you look at the pictures of Abu Ghraib. A very similar pattern emerges. People being handcuffed to beds naked, sodomized, sexually humiliated in other ways, and some of them murdered. (See some newly released pictures here and here. A word of warning: they're pretty disgusting.) And this is just what we know so far. Guantanamo, Bagram, and God knows where else where Americans are torturing, raping, and murdering mostly innocent people, though innocence should not be a criterion for decent treatment.

Why is it, we should ask, that American soldiers so easily succumbed to such sadistic and perverted behavior? The answer given by Bush and the Pentagon is that it was a few "bad apples" who committed the heinous acts. To which I must further ask how all those "bad apples" got assigned to the same tree. It’s not like we have Abu Ghraibs all over the place. Or do we? Whether we have many prisons or a few, the reason military people would behave as the "guards" at Abu Ghraib did is either because they were directly ordered to, or they were acting within broad guidelines that were given to them. The Taguba Report indicates that the responsibility lies much higher.

I know from my own military experience that soldiers do not go on a "wilding," running rampant and doing whatever they want, unless they are completely unsupervised, and even then it is highly unlikely. When in a duty status there is always someone in charge, someone who outranks everyone else and who is assigned to be the authority in the situation. On their free time, that is another story. "From Here to Eternity" is a pretty good allegory for what soldiers do when off-duty (and off-post).

What the Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib scandals reveal is a dark underside to the American psyche, or more accurately the human psyche, which can manifest under certain conditions. In this case the soldiers were fed intense propaganda about the justification for the war, the Arab people, the Muslim religion, and the "official" story about the nature of the resistance to the occupation, known to Americans as the "Insurgents." How one can be an insurgent in one’s own country against an occupying force defies reason and truth, but it is good enough for the Bush crime family any time.

I can give an example from my own military experience that illustrates how easy it is to get caught up in reckless mayhem. I spent most of my time in the Army in Germany, stationed first in the town of Kaiserslautern, but mostly in Heidelberg. On July 4, 1970, black American soldiers from all over Germany came to Heidelberg at the invitation of students at the University of Heidelberg, for a rally for justice. Heidelberg was and still is the headquarters of the U.S. Army Europe. (Note: USAREUR Headquarters moved to Wiesbaden in 2013.)

According to an online forum over 1000 black GIs showed up for the rally. My unit, the 503d Transportation Company, was placed on riot alert at 6:00 a.m., or 0600 hours in military terms. We got our helmets (steel pots) and web gear, and went to the arms room to get our weapons. We had been on riot alert several times before because of student demonstrations, and were usually assigned rifles and sheathed bayonets.

Me in Heidelberg, summer 1970The difference on July 4 of 1970 was that we were told "No bayonets. Today it’s live ammo." We sat in the training room from 6 in the morning to 7:30 that night, no talking, rifle in hand, thinking of the possibility that lay ahead. Since it was July 4, normally a day off, we were pretty peeved. But somewhere in the afternoon a change took place. The energy in that room changed, and I felt a different attitude. It was not a good change. It was a readiness for the task at hand. If we had been sent out, it would very likely have been a bad scene. We were not a combat unit, and the discipline was poor. Our NCOs were mostly drunks, and the "C.O." was none too bright. Luckily, nothing happened, and we were released at 7:30. We went downtown for the fireworks and castle illumination, and saw a lot of blacks, but in groups of two and three. They knew.

The memory of this incident that is most vivid to me is that I was as ready as anyone for what our commanders would have us do. Two things have become clear as a result. One is that in the military you are conditioned to follow orders, no matter how ridiculous or insane. The other is that every human being has within him or herself the capacity to commit any act imaginable, good or evil. One should be very careful with what one gets oneself into.

This experience may be helpful in explaining how easy it is for military operations to go awry, but it is also helpful in explaining our broader malaise. We live in a predatory society. At the low end we have the crude savagery of people like Steven Avery. At the "high" end we have the crude savagery of people like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, and Alberto Gonzales. They construct the schemes, the lies, the propaganda and the directives that send Americans off to far away places where they are ordered to commit terrible acts of torture, murder, poisoning, and destruction. In the vast middle, most people in this country live in a relatively law-abiding manner, with gradations of predation and occasional outbursts.

Because of Global Warming, also known as Climate Change, we now have to change our priorities. The cause of this Global Warming is the vast use of petroleum based fuels for vehicles, to supply gas for heating and cooking, and for coal to drive turbines for electrical generation. The reason the use of these fuels has proliferated at such a huge scale is that we have a mass industrial world economic system, mostly "free enterprise," and partly command economies, commonly known as "socialism." Mass industrial systems, whether free enterprise – commonly known as capitalist – or socialist, all depend on growth of output to guarantee stability and viability. This means growth forever, infinite growth. The simple logic that it takes a planet of infinite resources, implying infinite size, in order to have infinite growth is completely lost on virtually everyone in positions of leadership worldwide.

There is a perverse ideology behind the pursuit of infinite growth. Roughly, it is called greed, but that is a bit too simple. Even "leftists" advocate infinite growth. Their stock answer to the idea of limits to growth is this: "What about the poor?" End of discussion, literally. End of discussion. Let’s move on, nothing to see here. More sophisticated, supposedly, was the answer by the renowned John Maynard Keynes: "In the long run, we’re all dead." In other words, don’t worry about it now, it’s too far off in the future.

The future is here. John Maynard Keynes died in 1946. His long run arrived 60 years ago. Exponential growth has a way of shortening the long run. The class of people represented by the Republican Party, and presided over by the Bush crime family, is the wealthy class. In their collective unconscious they know that the salad days are over, and that is the key to what is known as modern "Conservatism." What "Conservatism" is all about is preserving, or "conserving" the relative status and privilege of the already wealthy and powerful. Preserving their money, their control of money, their control of other people, of the status of other people, and of what is done to the planet. (I should add that the Democrats are only marginally better, representing a less endowed mass of the populace, but they don't advocate anything fundamentally different.)

This struggle will heat up day by day, as the planet heats up. Madness like the Iraq war is likely to be the norm, or even mild compared to the norm. Ridiculous regimes like the Bush crime family may even be mild compared to what might come.

Or we can change.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Mr. BillWhen I started this blog I decided to name it "While we still have time," with the assumption, faith, and hope that we indeed do still have time to save our country and our planet. A few juxtapositions in the last several days have me wondering if I was being too presumptive, faithful, and hopeful. Meteorologists at AccuWeather.com are sounding the warning about the likelihood of a return to the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s. On last night’s News Hour, the likelihood of Katrina-type flooding in California was discussed. And to put it all in context, a couple in Rhode Island became the subject of a Homeland Security investigation because they paid more than the usual amount on their credit card bill. Terrorists beware.

For good measure, on yesterday’s Stephanie Miller Show the apparent meltdown of hate-monger Bill O’Reilly was discussed. And finally, the haplessness of the Democrats is bemoaned by many observers. An example can be found here.

Juxtaposing all these trends and circumstances leads me to conclude that at the very minimum, the various forces and trends in the country and on the planet are converging. Things are coming to a head. In Bill O’Reilly’s case, just to pull one factor out of the mix, his meltdown is due not just to people standing up to him. His lying and lynch-mob incitement are coming back to haunt him. As the Iraq war turns increasingly into a farce, the evidence of the Bush regime’s criminality becomes clearer, and the news about climate change and other environmental crises becomes more ominous, demagogues like O’Reilly have little choice but to lie more desperately, hysterically, threateningly, and loudly. As a way of being, a path of life, this is not a method that leads to either happiness or higher consciousness. It leads to what we are seeing: a descent into insanity.

We can take the meltdown of Bill O’Reilly as a benchmark for the other meltdowns that are happening in tandem. Bush, for example. Tom DeLay. Dick Cheney. There are more on the way. But these are just individual actors, bit players, in a way, compared to the enormity of the problems we face. Climate change, or Global Warming, started well before the Bush crime family, and we will be dealing with it long after he is gone. When the $&%# hits the fan, the rubber meets the road, and the mountain comes to not just Mohammed, but to all of us, Bush and his cronies will be nothing but an afterthought. Blame does not solve anything, but holding criminals responsible for their crimes is necessary for any functioning society.

We do still have time, but not much. The U.S. is slowly coming out of a deep psychosis, one that has been building up for centuries. The psychosis is characterized by materialism, consumer fetishism, xenophobia, hubris, nationalism, greed, fear, envy, addiction, entertainmentism, fanaticism, and a kind of rampant object-gratification approach to human interaction. If the growing disgust with the Bush crime family can translate to a willingness to face our real problems and change, then we may be able to save our civilization. At best, the coming days will be like snowboarding on an avalanche. At worst, well, there’s nothing to compare it to. If we don’t change, the tragedy will be beyond any human experience, known or unknown. Time is running out. I’ll have to start a new blog. Maybe I could call it "Time’s up." It will be good for one posting.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Olympic glory

Snowboardcross medal winners Lindsey Jacobellis (silver), Tanja Frieden (gold), and Dominique Maltais (bronze). This is what the Olympics are really all about – the friendships and the experience of being there. I sent the following in an email to NBC on February 18:
I watched the snowboarding competition last night, and, though this may come as a surprise to the all-knowing knowers at NBC, I had my own experience. I was sad that Lindsey Jacobellis lost her race, but found it enjoyable the way that snowboarders described the culture of their sport.

The NBC commentators, though, had to hype her second-place finish as one of the all-time washouts in Olympic history. The shame, the heartbreak! She'll have to live with this for the rest of her life, etc., etc., ad nauseam.

NBC is doing a better job of showing the Olympics as a truly international sporting event, rather than a showcase for American "superiority," but still has a long way to go. The Olympics are a competition, but the greatest benefit is for international understanding, and for athletes to meet and make friends with people from all over the world. Winning is good, but as Lindsey Jacobellis showed us, it is not the be-all and the end-all. She is happy with her silver, and NBC should be too.

To the commentators, all I can say is nice try. At least Jim Lampley didn't get caught up in the hype. Better luck next time. It's only four years away.

I followed it on February 27 with this email:
Much is being said of the lackluster coverage of the Olympic events. I'm not sure what you could have done to have more luster. There could be more hype, but I would have quit watching then. Maybe Bill Walton in a clown outfit.

Actually, Bob Costas in a clown outfit would be more appropriate. I watched his expression of opinion about Bode Miller the other night, and it was pretty comical. Costas was trying to show his indignation that Bode Miller didn't care much about not getting any medals. What the indignation reveals is something deeper. Had the U.S. Olympic team won more medals, and won big, NBC's ratings would have been much higher, more money would have been made, and Bob Costas would not have looked so useless and boring.

If the Olympics are to be operated in a way that makes Mr. Costas shine, I suggest repeated drilling at all Olympic practices, tryouts, meetings, and whatever event or activity would-be Olympians attend of this dictate: You are here to win for the USA, and for NBC. Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing. If you aren't here to win, don't bother to show up. If you don't win, you are a loser. You will have shamed your country, and shouldn't be allowed to return to America. Now go out there and win!

What you might want to consider is that representing the United States of America isn't what it used to be. With our little adventure in Iraq, our planned little adventure in Iran, our insistance on destroying the ecosystem, and our ruling elite's zeal for having it all to themselves, it shoud be no surprise that winning one for the USA might not be on the top of many athletes' lists of their top priorities.

No doubt NBC will get someone else to do the anchoring of the next Olympics. Someone who can bring the ratings in. If we continue to treat the rest of the world with disrespect, though, even Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will not be able to put Humpty Dumpty together. Better luck next time.

Not much needs to be added to what I wrote to NBC. I found the Olympics to be the most enjoyable to watch since I was young. The performances were great, and so were the people. Joey Cheek donated the money he made to relief for the refugees in the genocide stricken Sudan. Jeret “Speedy” Peterson sacrificed getting a medal by taking freestyle skiing to a new level. Shani Davis showed great poise and loyalty to his hometown supporters by not getting dragged into a feud with a sour grapes teammate. Bode Miller showed us that winning is not the only thing that leads to a happy life. Shaun White, Lindsey Jacobellis, Seth Wescott, Apolo Anton Ohno, Sasha Cohen, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto all showed us the joy of competing, the grace of performance, and the love of being at the Olympics. Some won, some didn't. They did more for world peace and international understanding than the Bush crime family could ever hope to accomplish. It would be nice, though, if the BCF at least had the hope.