.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

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.

My Photo
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, August 30, 2006

Mistaken identity

Professor Irwin CoreyFrom the mid-sixties to about the mid-seventies Chicago Sun-Times columnist Irv Kupcinet hosted one of the first "talk shows" on TV, "Kup's Show." His guests included politicians, entertainers, and other public figures. On one memorable night Martin Luther King eloquently explained his oppostion to the Vietnam war. His exchange with former Illinois senator Paul Douglas was the kind of conversation all too rarely seen and sorely needed today.

Another memorable night was in the early ‘70s, when the panel included Professor Irwin Corey, a comedian I detested. His act consisted of a parody of the archetypal intellectual, using flowery academic language in convoluted patterns of gibberish, speaking total nonsense.

That night changed my view of Irwin Corey completely. He dragged the conversation down repeatedly with his nonsense, and at one point blurted out “Did you know that the people of the United States support the Communist Party?” Everyone on the panel voiced their impatience and displeasure at this outrageous question. Corey stood his ground. He said something to the effect of “Do you remember when there was the plane hijacking at O’Hare Field last year?” Murmurs of yes, yeah, sure. “Well,” Corey continued, “all the FBI agents in Chicago were called in to help. That night, the Communist Party held a meeting, and I was the only one who showed up!”

It was one of those “ah-hah!” moments. Outrageously funny, and piercingly insightful. I don’t think I ever saw Irwin Corey on TV again, but I have had great respect for him ever since that night. It also provided me with a perfect metaphor to use whenever I feel uneasy about not just how extremist groups are depicted, but about how any phenomenon is presented. The two main sources of propaganda and misinformation are governmental bodies and corporations, and their means of presentation is the news media.

From the Wisconsin State JournalA case in point was last Saturday’s permitted rally by “Nazis” from Minnesota. Somehow this group’s permit gave them priority over Madison’s farmers market, which was forced to close two hours early to accommodate the rally.

Madison’s main peace group called for a counter-demonstration, hoping to mobilize the city in opposition to the “Nazis.” Eighty people showed up. I wasn’t one of them. I had better things to do.

This is a hopeful sign. If a mere 80 people could be aroused to see the “Nazis” as a threat, then Madison is making progress. I know from ongoing experience that there is an element in this town that can be incited to action by any perceived injustice anywhere on the planet. I call it the "something happened somewhere" syndrome.

A couple of weeks ago I tuned in to Madison’s doctrinaire “leftist” radio station, and in the one minute I had the station on, I was informed that a developer in South Dakota is infringing on Native American rights. The tone of the “alarming” news was depressive and self-righteous. The story was covered the following day on National Public Radio, and was a bit more nuanced. The supposed threat is construction noise in a well-traveled area, near Bear Butte. I camped there once, and remember that Bear Butte is near a busy highway. It is sacred ground to the Lakota, but is also a state park, with some areas reserved for rituals. In a perfect world, the native peoples would never have been conquered and oppressed. In today’s world of multiplicity of cultures and land use, conflicts are best resolved by accommodation and cooperation.

As far as the “Nazis” are concerned, the first thing I look for is the leader. Is he sane-looking? Is he the kind of person sane people will follow? Is there a compelling message?

Then I look to the accompanying “extremists.” Do they look like quality human beings? Do any of them look more impressive than the leader? As can be seen in the above picture, neither the leader nor the one follower look very impressive. They claim to speak for the “white race,” but it's pretty obvious they are grasping desperately for some self-esteem. They may be capable of causing a lot of mischief, but the kind of fascism they are trying to foment is very unlikely. Whatever government infiltration there is of this group, it would have to be the work of near-genius in order to fit in.

The kind of fascism represented by the Bush crime family, now that’s another story. The BCF has been very successful in implementing fascistic controls: serial wars and war mongering, restrictions on civil liberties, symbiotic relationships with large corporations (otherwise known as crony capitalism), theft of elections, effectively creating a dictatorship, and an intensive propaganda apparatus. Other characteristics of fascism that fit the Bush crime family can be seen here.

Whether we are in a condition of fascism or not, the real question is why, in this critical time in world history, there is so much human failure. Why is failed leadership so rampant? What is it about our sense of human accomplishment and worthiness that such people as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Oliver North can rise to prominence? If these people can be accepted as leaders, why not the men in the picture? Surely they have the same sense of personal mission. If the Bush gang and their enablers can be leaders, the “Nazis” can too.

“Leftists” believe it’s all because of ideology, because that’s the world they live in, but the answer is much simpler. The source of all this madness is the human ego, the sense of self-identity, of individual attachment to temporal existence. Power obsession is a form of false consciousness, a lust for a sense of immortality through self-aggrandizement.

I’ve mentioned this predicament before in this blog. If there is a history to record about this era, and a truthful history, it will have to look back on this time as the age of the human ego run amok. The age of ontological error – of misplaced identity, believing the temporary to be permanent.

But the temporary is just temporary, as are the people who believe it to be permanent. The members of the Bush crime family, whether brought to justice or not, will pass from the temporary scene very soon. Then comes the next thing. Now is the time to prepare.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Enhancing your virility

'Counting coup' on the NRAI went to the mall yesterday after work to buy a pair of glasses. I had a shimmy in my car's steering, so I got my tires balanced at the same national retailer where I bought the glasses. It took a couple of hours, so I wandered around the mall, bought a slice of pizza, and headed back to the large retailer to wait for my car.

This particular large retailer has fallen on hard times, the most recent humiliation being its purchase by another failing retailer. The declining fortunes certainly show in their automotive department. The only reason I let them touch my car is that I have to do some highway driving, and can't take time off from work to have my regular mechanics do the work.

It is always an adventure dealing with this formerly world-class retailer. I bought tires from them back in the 90s, and it took about 5 tries before they could put tires on that were not "out of round." I kept at it, much to the chagrin of the auto department manager, and finally got decent tires.

The turnover in the auto department is high, with new people replacing old on a regular basis. It hasn't made for improvement. The problem yesterday was the front desk manager, an all-too-tightly wound guy who couln't communicate very well, and got hyper-impatient when I asked him to clarify. When he finally told me my car was ready, he tried to charge me for someone else's car. His high-strung embarassment and apology were something I could have done without. He seemed ready to lose it at any moment.

But the interesting thing about this experience was while I was sitting in the large retailer's waiting room. There was hardly anything to read except NRA (National Rifle Association) magazines. I found this kind of weird, but paged through the magazines to see what the gun-nuts are up to. (Sorry to any gun-nuts who read this, but if you are associated with the NRA, you are a gun-nut. Read on for why. I know of whence I speak.)

I gleaned several pieces of knowledge from reading the NRA magazines. One is that gun owners feel besieged. They are at a fever pitch of paranoia about evil forces getting ready to take their guns.

Chief among those evil forces is the United Nations. That's right, the same United Nations that can't stop the Bush crime family, that can't stop the genocide in "Darfur," couldn't stop the destruction of "Lebanon," and couldn't stop the genocide in "Rwanda." But somehow they have the power to rob every gun-nut in the U.S. of his (mostly) "rights."

Another revelation, which should have been no surprise, but was, is that the NRA's hatred of Bill Clinton is boundless. I'm not particularly fond of Bill Clinton either, but I'm not outraged at the mere thought of him.

Derivative of the NRA's hatred of Bill Clinton is it's hatred of Hillary Clinton. They can still cook up a lot of frenzy about Bill, but he's past tense. Hillary is the future, as far as they are concerned. I didn't read the articles to find out why the NRAers hate the Clintons so much, but I suspect it has something to do with guns. Or at least that's the hook. More likely, there are a few ulterior motives lurking beneath the surface. Like corporate money.

Another thing I learned is that some famous people sit on the board of directors of the NRA. Tom Selleck, Ted Nugent, Oliver North, Grover Norquist, and someone else whose name I forgot. Strange bedfellows. Not because they are together in the NRA. They're just strange.

To top it all off, on the last pages of the NRA magazines there were full-page ads for "Excite-o-derm," or "Erect-o-derm," or some such lotion you can buy to enhance your virility. P.T. Barnum must be rolling in laughter somewhere.

And on the final page, a full-page advertisement for boxes of cigars. How fitting. After getting all the vicarious masculinity you can get from fondling and reading about guns, then rubbing yourself with some Excite-o-derm and becoming really virile, you can smoke a box of cigars. Ain't "America" great?

One question that came to mind was how the NRA magazines found their way to the large retailer's waiting room. They would be right at home at the VA, but one would think that a retailer, especially a suffering retailer, would be more careful about offending customers. The address labels had been cut from the covers, so the subscriber was a mystery. But knowing what I know about gun-nuts, the too-tightly-wound front desk manager is the prime candidate. It would be easy to picture him with his guns, erect-o-derm, and box of cigars.

My familiarity with gun-nuts goes back a long way. I was raised on hunting and shooting, my dad being an avid fisherman, hunter, and trap and skeet shooter. He studied the lore of hunting, became a championship-class duck caller, and raised German Shorthaired Pointer hunting dogs. He also reloaded his own shotgun shells, and became an expert in gun technology. I didn't learn any of these things to the degree that my dad did, and gave up hunting thirty years ago, but I saw and learned a lot.

One summer while I was in college I worked at a trap and skeet range near where we lived. The owner of the "club" was a paraplegic, having fallen out of a Jeep on a hunting trip, breaking his back. he needed someone to load the clay "birds" or "pigeons" into the machines, and do a number of other tasks that he couln't do. It was a pretty easy job, and I got to do a lot of shooting, and got fairly good at both trap and skeet. I could consistently hit 23 out of 25 in skeet, and 24 in trap. That may look pretty good, but 98 to 99 out of 100 is considered competition level. My dad and sister could still beat me in skeet shooting, but I became almost as good as my dad in trap shooting. I knew the machines well enough to know the direction they would fire the birds, and that gave me some advantage. Not enough, though. Timing the machines only went so far, and out of 25 birds in a round of trap shooting, I was certain to be wrong at least once. Shooting with my dad, once was all it took.

Another thing I learned while working at the trap and skeet range was that my dad was not the typical shooter. He did it for the enjoyment, and to sharpen his shooting skills for hunting. There were others like him, but the largest source of revenue for the range was the league shooters. Similar to bowling leagues, teams of shooters formed, and there were regular league nights several times a week.

In one of the leagues there was a guy who I went to grade and high school with. He was a year behind me, so I didn't know him very well, but he was one of the people who got lost in the shuffle of high school caste formation. In the shooting leagues, he was a dominant force, continually making trouble about everything imaginable - the cost, the way championships were awarded, prizes, scoring - anything. On one night in particular, he got into a heated argument with the paraplegic owner, and the situation got pretty ominous. A hothead with a gun is not a safe person to be around. If I remember right, he was banned from the club that night. A few years later, he killed himself - with a gun, of course. Domestic problems. Again, if I remember right, his wife left him after years of abuse.

That was only an extreme example of the danger of gun meditation. Another thing I became aware of during that time was the subculture of gun-nuts - people who identify with gun ownership as a way of being, and as a way of seeing themselves as different from other people. In other words, as a touchstone for paranoia.

The paranoid shooters would say "Guns don't kill people - people kill people," like a mantra. Another was "The first thing the Nazis did when they took over a country was to collect all the guns." Another was "Gun registration is the first step to taking them away." Their conversations were not meant to convey any real information, but to establish solidarity and a kind of one-upping "knowledge reinforcement."

My dad thought they were all idiots, and would hardly speak to them. He didn't see gun registration as any threat, and didn't feel the need to go to the skeet range for anything but shooting. He made friends with an "African-American" guy who shot there, a big guy named Joe Hardy, which didn't endear him to the paranoiacs. My dad was no crusader, but he liked who he liked, and loved to stick it to those he didn't.

This was all shotgun culture. Rifle culture is a different animal by many degrees. My dad did rifle hunting, but not often, and only in places like Montana and Wyoming. I never hunted with a rifle. Rifle hunting is different. The game (prey) is usually farther away, larger, the gun is more powerful, and the shooting is more cold and calculating, zeroing in on an animal that is not moving. With a shotgun, you point the gun at what you are shooting, usually a fast-moving bird. With a rifle you carefully take aim.

Where the differences between these two cultures became clear was when I went to a rifle range with a cousin to "sight-in" his rifle. It was one of the most bizarre scenes I have ever been in. Men walking around in various bastardized military outfits, some with web belts, canteens, and magazine pouches (A "magazine"in this case is a clip that contains the bullets that are loaded into the rifle.). The vibration of the place was even weirder. Creepy. Ominous. Troubled men with guns. Men parading themselves in an overmasculinized manner, acting tough, mean, dangerous. I thought it was a big joke, but now it doesn't seem as funny. It's still funny, though, just not as much.

Not long after that I enlisted in the Army. I wrote about my Army experience earlier in this blog, in "Army stories," "I love a parade," and "Similarities." (also Good enough to kill and die in 2006 and Secret Societies in 2007) In the three years I spent in the Army I didn't run across even one gun-nut. For a while, I ran around with a pretty rough bunch - combat veterans, bikers, including one real California Hell's Angel ( Monterey) - but none of them were gun-nuts. That's a story for another day. In a nutshell, I helped them out of legal troubles with the Army and German authorities, giving me the status of a mouse pulling a thorn from a lion's paw. Several lions' paws.

In 1976 I gave up hunting and moved into an ashram, beginning a long path of meditative practices. I didn't have anything having to do with guns or hunting for over twenty years, except for comparing old stories with my dad. But in 1998 I encountered a number of gun-nuts in a most surprising way.

In 1998, a low year for machine Democrats, "progressive" Madison lawyer Ed Garvey won the nomination to unseat perennial Republican powerhouse Tommy Thompson for governor of Wisconsin. Some readers will remember Garvey as the executive director of the National Foolball Leage Players Association, guiding the union through two strikes, and gaining many victories and benefits for the membership.

Garvey got little backing from the entrenched Democratic leadership, thwarted by then power broker and now prisoner Chuck Chvala. Rarely do I get involved in politics beyond voting, but I did some calling for Garvey during the campaign. He was very low-budget, receiving no party help, and his base of support was the trade unions, especially AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). They set up a mini-call center at the AFSCME headquarters, and I went in a few times to help.

At Ed Garvey's victory party. He may not have won the election, but he won the battle of integrity.I usually get the creeps around political crowds, but there was none of that energy in the Garvey campaign. It was just a lot of nice people working in a futile campaign. Garvey destroyed Thompson in a couple of televised debates that weren't carried on the networks, but his lack of an advertising budget spelled doom for his campaign. He lost the election by a 60% - 39% margin.

Two things stand out in my memory of calling voters. One is the incredible ignorance and stupidity of the average person. I would hear things like "Isn't he in favor of that partial-birth abortion?" and questions about flag burning. The Republican spin machine, fueled by its huge TV advertising budget, was very successful in confusing the easily confused public.

The other thing that stood out was the surprising number of men who would say that Garvey was going to take their guns away. The anger they expressed bordered on threatening. They were true paranoids, and it seemed that about one out of every five persons I talked to was a gun-nut.

After a while I saw a pattern forming, and told one of the campaign supervisors about it. She told me to just say that Ed Garvey supports the Second Amendment to the Constitution, and nothing more. Gun control was not part of Garvey's agenda, and was only a hysteria cooked up by Republicans, and with likely assistance from a certain national organization of gun fanatics.

Ed Garvey would have been a great governor, certainly better than the corrupt corporate enabler Tommy Thompson, and a good deal better than our current bland Democratic governor, Jim Doyle. He has in recent years won a suit against the state to end the extreme cruelty in Wisconsin's supermax prison, and won numerous cases in defense of the environment. Thanks for nothing, gun-nuts. Go smoke a cigar. And be sure to rub yourselves silly with erect-o-derm while you fondle your precious guns. I'd just like to rub this in: It will not give you any "manhood." Nothing can give you "manhood." You are who you are. Don't worry about it.

This is all pretty crazy, but put in a wider context it is even crazier. We have a full-blown mafia organization running the country. This organization came to power through manipulation, support of major corporations, paranoia generated by fanatical religious groups and in no small part from the NRA, and of course election fraud. Since coming into power our country has been devastated by the worst terrorist attack in the nation's history, we have been lied into a war that has turned into a fiasco, one of our grandest cities has been destroyed, largely because of government negligence, the polar ice caps are melting, and our economy is on the verge of collapse.

That last note alone should be enough to put everything else in perspective. False fanaticisms (I know, a tautology) like gun-nuttery and religious fundamentalism are essentially escapes. Proxy hysterias. Pretend consciousness. It's like kids playing "house" or "cowboys and Indians," or whatever kids play these days. Whole bodies of thought, elaborate theories, and "scriptures" have been developed to provide plausible realities for what are essentially diversions, distractions, and confidence games.

For a number of reasons, our economy will collapse. The greed and environmental irresponsibility of a corporate oligarchy would eventually cause any economy to collapse. Add in the sociopathic lust for power and rapaciousness of the Bush crime family, and the process is accelerated. The fact that our system is intrinsically an infinite growth of output system on a finite planet, and a pressure-cooker factor is added to the mix. Top it all off with worldwide dependency on nonrenewable fossil fuels, and you have the combined problems of the gradual disappearance of the most important input base and Global Warming. Who wouldn't want to escape?

So rock on, escapists. Like the escapes of drug addiction and alcoholism, the escapes of gun-nuttery and religious fanaticism will soon hit bottom. And like drug addicts and alcoholics, some will choose to recover and some will stay at the bottom. Let's hope they all choose recovery. For what lies ahead, we will need all the help we can get. This is where real manhood and womanhood will be found.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Good enough to kill and die

Preparing to throw a grenade in Army basic training, summer 1968This picture is of one of my fellow basic trainees at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, sometime in August or September, 1968. He was pretty obviously "gay," and it didn't matter a bit.

Drill sergeants for three of our four platoons. The one in the middle was the drill sergeant for my platoon. He was a 'racist,' and a bit of a 'dandy,' but I managed, barely, to stay on his good side. The one on the right, SGT Pullings, was my favorite, mainly because he was the best at calling cadence, had style, and didn't feel the need to add anything extra to his instruction.People bonded pretty quickly in basic training, and the only thing that mattered was the quality of your character, to coin a phrase. This sounds kind of trite, but it was literally true. We were all in the same boat, and depended on each other for support and encouragement. The only people who didn't get along were jerks - hotheads, hotshots, slackers, and the barracks thief. There were a few guys in the company who were most likely "gay," but it was never an issue. The training was so latently "homosexual" anyway that the drill sergeants were the ones who were sexually intimidating, yelling things like "I want to see every swingin' dick out of that barracks in two minutes." And such like. "Swingin' dick" was a term that was said often, and we all thought it was pretty weird. Variations included "dickhead" and "dick." As we have learned in recent years, sexual humiliation, or attempts at same, are integral parts of military culture.

The reason I bring this up is because I heard on the news that Fort Leonard Wood discharged more homosexuals, 60, then any other Army base last year. In looking for sites with information on the issue, I found that there is a thriving "gay" "community" in the Fort Leonard Wood area. Click here to find out more.

Learning the manual of arms with SFC Williams, our head drill sergeant. He had scars from both the Korean and Vietnam wars. He was pretty likeable - tough as nails, but funny and professional.In reminiscing about my basic training days I pondered the question of why there was no open prejudice against "gays," and why the subject never came up. I came to the conclusion that there were a number of reasons. 1968 was during the thick of the Vietnam war, opposition to it, the "Black power" phase of the civil rights movement, and the liberalization of the country during the Eisenhower - Kennedy - Johnson presidential eras (with considerable credit going to the "Earl Warren Supreme Court"). The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago happened while I was in basic training. Two of the drill sergeants in my company, including the head drill sergeant, were "African Americans." The draft was still in effect, and the Army needed bodies for the war.

Also, "homosexuality" wasn't much of an issue in those days. "Gays" pretty much stayed in the "closet," and were widely tolerated. When I worked in the Command Building in USAREUR Headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, the personal secretary to the Commander in Chief, General James H. Polk, was a "gay" "queen" sergeant first class. He was pretty openly "gay." There also was a pair of twins who were clerks in General Polk's office who were "gay." I never saw them in the barracks, so they must have had some kind of deal where they could live off-post.

This type of practice is consistent with indigenous practices worldwide. Were I a diligent historical researcher, I would reference historical evidence, but I have neither the time nor resources. Suffice it to say that in "Native American" tribes, "gays" were not shunned, but given specific jobs. Throughout the indigenous tribes of "North America," "homosexuals" were known as "Berdache," or "Two spirit people," and were seen as more complete, often possessing great spiritual gifts and wisdom.

Similarly, in pre-colonial Hawaii, the aikane tradition gave homosexuals a respected place in society.

In pondering the subject further, I found myself in disagreement with the whole Western way of looking at "sexuality." I thought about the soldier in the picture, and his pretty obvious "gay" persona, or "vibe." I had to ask myself, "Is there a 'gay' way of throwing a grenade?" The guy kind of looks like Rudolf Nureyev, except I think better. It's kind of like performance art, like a dancer.

But we tend to think of "homosexuality" in terms of the acts, which I think can be described as variations of two forms: oral and anal. So when a "homosexual" is not engaging in these acts, what is it about him (or her) that is "gay?"

This is not a meaningless question. I think the problem lies in our whole Western way of looking at sexuality as something dichotomous, as a part of a person's character or behavior that is separate from the rest of us. It's not. We are sexual beings at all times. It cannot be separated from the rest of our nature(s).

In this age of "conservatism," the difference from when I was young is that politicians, preachers, and pundits have found great success in fomenting hatred, division, and fear. All the clamor about "homosexuality" is not about anything real, but about the ego needs of the hate mongerers. They have found a great hook with which to snare the dull, the emotionally weak, and the sociopathic. It's always easier to go lower than to go higher. Going higher, whether ethically, morally, intellectually, or spiritually is going into uncharted territory. The great masses, the mob, the rabble, will tend to be fair game for manipulation into lower states.

We are now in a similar situation to 1968. We have an unpopular president, an unpopular war, and great social discord. There aren't "movements" like the Civil Rights Movement or a huge antiwar movement, but something more fundamental is going on. Because the Bush regime is so openly criminal, so openly in service to the worst people in the country - the rich, the fanatically religious, the power-mad, the "racist" and xenophobic, and the criminally opportunistic - the genuine mainstream of "American" society is finding itself threatened and marginalized. A great awakening is now taking place.

As far as the Bush crime family is concerned, all that is necessary is to pull a lot of tricks to steal this fall's election, get another Supreme Court appointment or two, and voila, they are immune from accountability, and will be free to start more wars and violations of the Constitution.

But not so fast there, Bush crime family. Elections are only the most outward, civic expressions of the will of the people. Steal the election(s) and you just delay the inevitable. Had the BCF submitted to the will of the people in 2000, their comeuppance would be slight compared to what is coming their way. Bush and his crime family members go back a long way, including his father and grandfather. But there was nothing so blatant as the Iraq invasion and occupation, the excesses of Halliburton, Bechtel, the Carlyle Group, and other war profiteers, and the deluded imperial zeal of the Project for the New American Century. There was nothing so heinous as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Camp Bukka, Camp Cropper, Bagram, and the practice of extraordinary rendition. There was nothing so criminally negligent as the preludes and aftermaths of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

We would have to be a true nation of saps to put up with this kind of criminality indefinitely. No matter how much support the Bush crime family has from the military high command, the corporate superstructure, the law enforcement agencies, and the news media - the tide of revulsion, anger, and desire for change will not be stopped.

And, as I have said in this blog many times, the Achilles heel of the Bush crime family is its very criminality. If you look at every last thing this regime has done over the past six years, it has been to plan and perpetrate criminal actions, to commit further criminal acts in order to cover its tracks, stonewall, create diversions, and buy time until the next scheme is ready for unleashing.

And therein lies the rub. "Liberals," "leftists," "progressives," and "centrists" all bemoan the "bad policies" of the Bush crime family, but refuse to look at the regime as a criminal organization. Bush himself is seen as a bungler, incompetent, arrogant, imperious, stupid, callous, intemperate, in violation of the Constitution and international law, and destructive of "America's" position in the world.

But not as a sociopathic criminal, which he is, and which is the rest of his gang. If you look at them as a misguided public servants you have missed the point completely, and will not know how to defeat them. Treat them as a criminal gang and their actions become completely predictable and thus easy to overcome.

Just one example demonstrates clearly the nature of the Bush regime as a criminal gang. Donald Rumsfeld, the completely lawless and incompetent Secretary of Defense, remains in his position in spite of his total unsuitability for that or any other office. Yet Bush will not fire him. Why? Because Rumsfeld is part of the gang, he knows too much, and he can only be replaced by someone else inside the Bush crime family. The gang would become smaller and more vulnerable to scrutiny.

As the bungled complicity in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon has shown, this nation cannot afford much more of the Bush crime family's megalomania. Treat them as misguided public servants at your peril. This gang will destroy the country before they are through.

And likely as not, our last words will be "God hates fags!"

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Nothing is what it seems

Police officers outside the Masjid-E-Umer mosque in Walthamstow. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters - From the GuardianI watched a movie on TV last week, a thriller/action drama titled “The Recruit.” It was a fictionalized story about “CIA” training, with Al Pacino as the head instructor. It wasn’t a very good movie, but better than most television fare, so I watched it until the end.

It’s hard to tell how accurate the movie is about “CIA” training, having no knowledge on the subject, but according to one review, a “CIA” operations officer has been advising Hollywood for about a decade. Most likely the movie was an exaggeration of the extremes of the training, especially of the torture episodes.

One thing that stood out for me in the movie was Pacino’s refrain “Nothing is what it seems.” He would return to this line throughout the movie, fooling the recruits time and again, and it became the hook at the end for his biggest surprise, that he was the traitor everyone was trying to catch. Except by that time the movie had gotten pretty implausible, which made it boring, and I lost interest.

But the "Nothing is what it seems" line stayed with me, and it should be the slogan for time in which we live. For the “CIA,” deceit, disguise, illusion, subterfuge, blackmail, extortion, subversion and assassination are all part of the modus operandi. In a speech to “recruits,” Pacino explained that the life of a "NOC" (non-official cover) is a form of madness, a point also emphasized in the George Friedman article “The importance of the Plame affair.” The thing that makes it all supposedly worth it is the knowledge that you are serving your country, that you are saving civilization, that you are sacrificing yourself for the greater good, or some such.

As Pacino’s character tellingly demonstrated, these nebulous internal rewards don’t mean much in today’s world, where narcissism and callousness towards humanity so predominate. Even if one were a dedicated servant of the "CIA," and by extension the "American" people, one would have to feel like a bit of a chump, given the criminality and recklessness of our current ruling regime. And given the ethical and moral state of our country in general, risking your life year after year to help it dominate and destroy the planet has to be a maddening experience. Then to be blamed when the criminal regime fails, I can only wonder at the anger and frustration.

Now we have the foiled “terrorist plot,” a scheme of potential mayhem on an “unprecedented scale,” with 21 Muslim militants planning mass murder “on an unimaginable scale,” blowing up 10 planes between “Great Britain” and the “U.S.” Or is it 10 suspects and 21 planes? It must be 21 suspects, because 21 is more than 19, and 19 is the number of hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks. That would indeed make the plan unprecedented by 2 people. And, as Condoleeza Rice has told us several times, no one could have imagined that people would fly planes into buildings. By that reckoning, the 21 plotters would indeed be "unimaginable." And 10 planes are more than three, so that also would be "unimaginable." And lo, the number of plotters has increased to 24. Unbelievable as well as "unprecedented" and "unimaginable."

One skeptic, Linda Mizzo, did the math on the "terror plot," and estimated that, if successful, about 3500 people would have been killed. Tragic and heinous, but hardly “unprecedented” or “unimaginable.”

That is, if there really was a “terrorist plot.” This information came from the government of “Great Britain,” accomplice of the Bush crime family in its murderous invasion and occupation of “Iraq.” Somehow the BCF managed to take credit for helping “foil” the “plot.” If there is one thing both regimes need above all else, it is to cover their past criminality with distractions, ruses, new threats, and justifications for their past misdeeds. They also have not given up on their grand scheme for world domination.

Or, put another way, nothing is what it seems.

For an update, click here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Things that never see the light of day

I write a lot of things that never see the light of day, so to speak. Below are some e-mails I sent to Al Franken, the News Hour (Public Broadcasting Service [PBS]), the New York Times, and the Ed Schultz Show. These are all supposedly "liberal" media outlets, and therefore supposedly above reproach. But au contraire. I find them sorely lacking.

I have communicated with all of them before, and never had a reply from any of them, and as far as I know, nothing I wrote has appeared in the New York Times. These criticisms go a bit deeper than the usual, and if they were read at all, would not be the kind of thing these various media outlets would want to print or respond to.

It would mean they actually read what was written, and thought about the concerns raised. In the broadcast media cases, a bit of soul-searching would be required. It may or may not have happened, but if you listen to, watch, or read these media outlets yourself, you might have similar concerns. If so, feel free to write to them. It might have an effect.

To: http://www.airamerica.com/alfrankenshow/feedback
From: Me
Date: August 2, 2006
Subject: Means of acquiring knowledge

Al FrankenHi Al

After listening to your show today I was compelled to look through some old class notes about the different means of acquiring knowledge. They are (1) Tenacity – I know what I know – never troubled by facts that run counter; (2) Authority – more subject to input and change; (3) Intuition – a priori – based on theory rather than experience; and (4) The Scientific Method. The Scientific Method includes historical, descriptive, experimental, and ex-post-facto research. It is a process of systematically asking questions, which should give us better data from which to make decisions.

This would be valuable information when contending with someone like Mark Luther. But I suspect that subjecting him to utter defeat would take away a segment of your show that you see as a valuable touchstone, and he is a handy fop, or foil you can repeatedly use to prove a point. While I think the guy is dishonest, and his presence on the show is gratuitous low comedy, I would not stop listening because of him.

With you, it's getting a little different. There are still good conversations, and I still learn things from listening, (but) I now switch to our other “progressive” station for the third hour, when “Democracy Now” is on. I'm not in love with that show either, but it has some in-depth interviews and coverage that isn't available elsewhere.

Like the Mark Luther segments, you employ the straw man method again when you read your “hate” mail. You pick the worst of those who disagree with you in order to make yourself look good. It's great fun, but there is a dishonest undertone to it. Which is, there are many who believe that Israel is an aggressor nation, engages in state terrorism, wantonly kills civilians in the Palestinian areas and in Lebanon, and is a nuclear threat. The generalizations that people in Israel make about the Palestinians and Arabs in general are similar to what people in the “South” (and a good part of the “North”) say about African Americans. Or what Texans say about both African Americans and Mexicans.

If someone were to write to you as I am, without name-calling or invective, the communication would not see the light of day, because it would be pertinent to the issue at hand, but would be useless as a foil for your proof by extreme example.

Which brings us back to the means of gaining knowledge. You have stated repeatedly that you refuse to believe that Israel is intentionally targeting civilians. You base this knowledge on one fact: you are Jewish. If you were Lebanese, you would likely have a different view. But because you are Jewish, your sense of identity tells you that Israel cannot possibly be doing something that amounts to crimes against humanity.

How about that Israel doesn't care one bit whether it kills civilians or not? Then of course there was the U.N. Observers who were in contact with Israel all day, telling them where they were, and not to bomb them. They were bombed repeatedly.

It would seem that the prudent thing to do when your have “inadvertently” killed civilians is that you would take care in the future to not do it again. If you don't, then the “inadvertency” is by pronouncement. The killing of civilians is inadvertent because we say it is. It matters not that eyewitnesses said there were no “Hezbollah” forces in the area. They must either by lying or “Hezbollah” themselves, because you know what you know, and that is that Israel never targets civilians.

But you are tenacious. I suppose the eyewitness reports of Robert Fisk and others don't matter to you because they are “anti-semites,” or “extreme leftists,” or some such. I had almost forgotten about Robert Fisk until I resumed listening to “Democracy Now.”

I remember seeing a “Saturday Night Live” retrospective where you called an NBC executive a “lame-o.” How, I wonder, would a “lame-o” be defined. My best understanding is that it would be someone who habitually does the wrong thing, says the wrong thing, who is not very competent, and who harms others in the process. In TV, who cares? It's TV. It is a haven for low standards. But in the realm of life and death issues of war and domination, being a “lame-o” does matter. Promoting a propagandistic pattern of beliefs about various peoples on the planet can do much harm. And doing harm will eventually come back around.

You do a good job of deconstructing Bush and Republican absurdities, but have a bit of blindness about the Mideast. That bit is anything concerning Israel. I can tell you that no matter how much you insist that the state of Israel always acts with the best of intentions that what is sown will be reaped. If you never get beyond “Ugh! Israel good! Everyone else terrorists!” you will be locked in the same ethnocentrism and arrogance that has been the undoing of fools throughout human presence on this planet. Israel has only been a state since 1948. Its viability is based on belligerence and the largess of the United States Treasury. There are limits to both, especially as other concerns like Global Warming become more critical.

For you, the viability of your radio network depends on your credibility. This puts you in a dilemma. You want badly to cling to your belief that Israel can do no wrong, is ugh! the good guy at all times, and its opponents are always terrorists. On the other hand, you have a fledgling radio network that depends on you, its flagship show host, to carry the burden of the entire facility's reputation. If you start appearing as biased and/or dishonest, then the network as a whole suffers. Al Franken, who calls others lying liars, has a little black hole of dishonesty himself.

The likelihood of this being read on the air is mighty slim, and I don't expect a change in your cheerleading for Israel, but you are sensitive to the bottom line. When you see ratings decline, and the resulting advertising dollars, you might want to give a second look at your tenacious knowledge of Israel. Your tenacity is not the same as knowledge gained by other means.

To: http://www.airamerica.com/alfrankenshow/feedback
From: Me
Date: July 31, 2006
Subject: Limitations

Hi Al

I'm able to listen to your show at work, which makes the day go better. I enjoy your ability to use your own experience and intuition to probe issues in new ways.

Except, of course, when it comes to Israel. I don't mind it so much, though, because you are very up front and unabashed about your bias. But it still is bias. When you start with the presumption of the supremacy of Israel's position in all matters, you limit your analysis severely. If you ever look at any work on game theory, you will see that one's presumptions can be mathematically described in terms of parameters or limits to solutions.

Where you also fall short is in interviewing guests. Whether it is Richard Perle or Tom Ricks, you let your need to be agreeable inhibit your ability to scrutinize. I wrote before about your Perle interview.

Today, with Ricks, a question begging to be asked was how Mr. Ricks came to believe that the Bush gang wasn't lying when they told us Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

When has the Bush Administration ever told the truth about anything? Do they just B.S. themselves all day, every day? Not likely. I think what was really going on was a rhetorical posture akin to reverse psychology, where the author can feign neutrality, letting the reader make his or her own conclusions. Suskind does the same thing, and I think did on your show.

But you know better. You wrote a book, "Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them." Your collegiality with another author doesn't mean anything to me. Your need to be agreeable with guests has the effect of insulting your audience.

In other words, you are starting to get annoying, trying to serve too many masters. I listen to your show to learn something, to improve my perspective, and to enjoy the humor. If you start accumulating little dishonesties, they add up to a big dishonesty. Like the Mark Luther segments, the sincerity of your act in general is becoming questionable. Maybe you really would make a good senator after all.

Date: July 31, 2006
From: Me
Subject: Neurolinguistic programming
To: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/letters.html

Gwen IfillI used to get angry at what I perceived to be propaganda on News Hour. Times are changing, and now I look at it as kind of a bellweather of establishment mythology.
Today was a pretty good example. When Gwen Ifill was conducting a 2 person panel on the situation in Lebanon, the two guests were talking on a level I found to be so obscure that it was hard to get a grasp on what they were trying to advocate.
Gwen Ifill solved that riddle when she said that the parties (read: "U.S" and "Israel") want to reach a "final solution."

I hardly need to say more, but I will. Just as there is such things as "racism" and "ethnocentrism," there is also such a thing as "culturalism." It's almost the same. In the case of the Mideast, what matters in the think tanks and portals of power is Western culture. "Israel" is an outpost of Western culture in the Mideast, and thusly is the culture that matters to "countries" of the "West."

Because realities that favor the supremacy of "Israel" in the region are the realities that "matter," "Hezbollah" is officially seen as a "terrorist" organization with no legitimacy, while the attacks on civilians by "Israel" are either necessary or "mistakes." And certainly "legitimate."

Anthony Robbins has made millions selling his version of "neurolinguistic programming" techniques, where you can change your life by changing how you frame your realities. I can't help wondering if he made the rounds in Washington, D.C., laughing all the way to the bank. Or is it financial services vendor? Maybe family future enchancement and benevolent association.

What you might want to ask yourselves is who you think you are fooling. For the already programmed, no fooling is necessary. For those of us who have a sense of disquiet when we listen to such discussions, we learn to read between the lines. That leaves only the attempted foolers, fooled by their own %#$&*@&^. It reminds me of the time I tried sales, and was told the easiest people to sell to were other salesmen.

Keep on rockin' in the free world.

Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2006 16:58:06 -0700 (PDT)
From: Me
Subject: Fishing for the truth, or telling a whopper?
To: letters@nytimes.com

Kevin BarrettIn spite of the seriousness of the issue, I can’t help being amused by all the hullabaloo about Kevin Barret. Three politicians in Wisconsin are trying to have him fired. Now a law professor in Florida, bastion of democracy, is chiming in.

We would do much better to fire the politicians. Hoping to rein in the bounds of thinkable thought, the politicians in question - Governor James Doyle, Congressman Mark Green, and state Senator Steve Nass of course also hope to gain a bit of a boost in popularity from the incitement they are generating.

For the law professor, who knows?

For me, the issue is simple. Mr. Barrett is teaching a course on Islam. Among his assigned readings will be an alternate view of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The alternate view, that the Bush regime had advance knowledge and/or complicity in the attacks, is a plausible one for several reasons.

By simple logical deduction, circumstantial evidence indicates a strong possibility of Bush Administration culpability. The negligence in advance of the attacks was criminal, active negligence. The attacks were used, along with lies, to justify the invasion of Iraq. These two instances establish that our Federal government is controlled by a criminal organization. This is prima facie evidence of criminality, of a predisposition to commit heinous crimes.

The negligence before and after Hurricane Katrina demonstrate more than incompetence, but an actual contempt for competence. Active incompetence is criminal. The illegal detentions and torture in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere indicate a contempt for the rule of law and common decency. And the domestic spying on Americans indicate further a contempt for law and common decency, and a general disrespect for people as well.

Given all these evidences of criminality and contempt for humanity, it is no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the Bush White House and its enablers are capable of planning attacks such as those of "9/11." Whether or not they actually did help plan the attacks, we are not likely to find out any time soon, if at all. Too much entrenched power has something to lose.

It could be argued that knowing the truth about the September 11 attacks would be too much for the American people to take, and that we wouldn't know what to do with the knowledge. There is much truth to this, as almost any casual conversation on almost any subject with almost anyone would reveal.

But it's worth a chance. It may be just the thing to inspire the change in consciousness the people of this country need. In order to move to the next level of human existence, beyond paranoia and addictive behavior to interdependence, respect, and moderation, we must first be able to face the truth, whatever it is. It could set us free.

John Hamilton
Madison, Wisconsin

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 12:46:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: Me
Subject: Easy to incite
To: ed@edschultzshow.com


Ed SchultzI was busy, and kept the radio on past the Al Franken show, so I caught the first few minutes of your show. I used to enjoy it, but stopped months ago. You're too much of a blowhard, and the emotional pitch is way too high. It's bad for the heart to listen, and can't be good for the hard blower.

Of course the blogosphere is going to have a field day with your support of Joe Lieberman. He's a crappy senator, DLC compatible, and a sore loserman. More to the point though, is the question of why a radio host in Fargo, ND would get worked up into a fever pitch about the fortunes of one Joe Lieberman.

I suspect that getting into a fever pitch is a way of being, a life purpose. The trigger could be a fly on the wall. A wiffle ball landing in your yard. A neighbor who is smaller than you.

If it ever occurs to you that it might be in your interest to tone it down a bit, you might want to start by not calling yourself "Big Eddie" anymore. Names like that are normally given by someone else. Calling yourself "Number 1" is also a tad narcissistic. If you are really number one, you don't need to brag about it.

Now that I've wasted about 20 minutes of my valuable time, on to other things. I suspect nothing will change, but I won't be listening to find out. By the way, the debate was no slam dunk. If it were, the primary should also be one. A man sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest (apologies to Paul Simon). You might want to spend some time in Connecticut, and see how much influence you have there. Be sure to yell a lot.

John Hamilton
Madison, Wisconsin