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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.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Only pawns in their game

Demonstrators opposed to the Iraq war march across the Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.(J. David Ake / Associated Press)Mar 17,2007I didn't go to any of the marches against the "Iraq" "war" over the weekend. I marched twice when I was a member of a veterans group that advocates peace, and decided, to coin a phrase, that I ain't marchin' anymore. I don't like the crowds, and I don't like being on public display. It felt like the image I had of professors and former government officials in China's Cultural revolution, who were paraded through the streets wearing dunce hats and signs saying "Running dog of Capitalism" and "Imperialist lackey."

Another reason for not marching anymore is that I find the Henry David Thoreau observation in The Village to be consistent with my own experience: "Wherever a man goes, men will pursue him and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate oddfellow society."

Marine Corporal Cloy Richards, second left, whose mother Tina Richards made national headlines after she had a confrontation with Rep. David Obey (D-WI) questioning Obey's effort on stopping the war in Iraq, marches along with other anti-war activists towards the Pentagon.(Alex Wong / Getty Images)Mar 17, 2007But I admire people that do march, for the most part. It's not easy, and I suspect that many, if not most, people have attitudes about marching similar to mine. The marches are effective ways of organizing people, and let the "authorities" know that their schemes are not going unchallenged.

Counter protesters gesture towards the anti-war marchers.(Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images)Mar 17, 2007When looking at news reports about the march in Washington, D.C., stupid capital of the universe, last Saturday, I came across photos of counter- demonstrators, who seemed to be veterans. Angry veterans. Veterans who, for some reason, believe that any doubt or opposition to any "American" military action anywhere is treason. Veterans like the "Swift boat veterans for truth," who waged a huge disinformation campaign against John Kerry in the 2004 election.

Join the elite - Madison VA parking lot, 2006 (John Hamilton / While we still have time)I come across this type of veteran often, because I get my health care at the VA (what used to be called the Veterans Administration, now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs). They tend to be members of the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and the American Legion. There are also smaller organizations with similar interests and advocacies for veterans, such as VietNow and Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans. One thing they have in common is the belief that there are great numbers of "American" prisoners of war still held in "Vietnam," and that the "government" is covering this supposed scandal up for political purposes.

One of the myths that should be dispelled before going any farther on this subject is to note that somewhere between six to nine out of 10 military personnel don't serve in combat in a war zone, and most never serve in a war zone at all. One can assume, without any hard evidence, that the ratio, sometimes known as "tooth to tail," is similar in veterans organizations. In my own experience of what I see at the VA, the ratio is likely higher. There are very few loudmouth braggarts among VA patients, but the loudest are people I wouldn't want to be anywhere near in a combat situation. They seem to find each other at the VA, and every so often one can pass a bragging fest. Most people avoid them like the plague.

American soldier - Madison VA parking lot, 2006 (John Hamilton / While we still have time)Not being tenured in an endowed chair at a university, I don't have vast resources for doing exhaustive research, so I have to rely on "casual empiricism" - personal experience. It would be a study worthy of an endowed chair, though, to research the prevalence, experience, beliefs, attitudes, influence, activities, and behavior of what I call "professional veterans." People who literally wear their identities on their sleeves. It also would be worth knowing how many of the "Freepers" are veterans, and how many are actual combat veterans. I suspect it is about one in ten thousand, if there are ten thousand "Freepers." Fakery is running rampant in the "U.S." today.

Demonstrators who support the war, heckle anti-war marchers as they walk from the National Mall to the Pentagon.(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press) Mar 17, 2007On Saturday a group of motorcycle riding, black leather wearing, presumed veterans converged on Washington to counter- demonstrate, yell, point fingers, and in general be manly and war approving. In the new costume of patriotism, masculinity, and lost connection with the earth, or something, the biking veterans stand up for what they think is an identity that has meaning. There are desperate oddfellow societies, and then there are desperate oddfellow societies.

I could go on and on about how they are just suckers for the corporate elite, who look upon them with revulsion and cynical laughter. Henry Kissinger referred to soldiers this way: “Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” But Bob Dylan said it best in "Only a pawn in their game" - To kill with no pain, like a dog on a chain, he ain't got no name, but it ain't him to blame - he's only a pawn in their game.

Professional veterans, Freepers, angry biking veterans, fake veterans, Swift boat veterans - they don't amount to much in numbers, and aren't much of a factor, but they exist, and as we move toward true civilization they should not be ignored. They will be a good benchmark for how far we have advanced. For instance, if the country starts looking like "Mad Max," we will know that we have failed miserably. If it starts looking like, hmm, I don't know, a Tibetan monastery, maybe we can say we've succeeded. Or maybe like Native tribes before the conquest. I'll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A part that reveals the whole

Free garage door opener certificateEvery once in a while I venture into some surreal realm, and the journey provides good information, and inspires new intuition about the state of the world. My job slowed down, and I found myself in a common predicament: the need to find something else to supplement my income. It's a little tiresome at this stage of my life to go out on the job market and start over, but millions in this country are in the same predicament.

I answered an ad for a "Lead Customer Relations Representative" for a local real estate-home builder-mortgage brokering operation named Veridian Homes. I applied for the job and went to a home buyer's seminar to get a feel for what the company was about. One of the first people I ran into was this guy. I knew right away I wasn't going to work for Veridian Homes.

I stuck around for the snacks, and then the presentation, which was an entry into an alternate reality. The false smiles and forced upbeatness about the business put me on guard, but I sensed something else. There was an uneasiness, a hint of fear in the fake cheerfulness. The strange atmosphere wasn't enough to keep me awake, though, and I dozed off several times during the series of sales pitches.

I got an email the next day telling me I was no longer under consideration for the position, much to my relief. I would rather be rejected than do the rejecting - just a matter of politeness. I also didn't want to go any farther in the interviewing process, which would be a waste of time. The job would have entailed "up to 55 hours a week" as a salaried employee. I could just see myself traipsing around town showing people houses and doing all the other "customer care" tasks the job entailed.

Free garage door opener letterA few days later I got a packet in the mail, including a certificate, no less, for a garage door opener if I would only buy a house before April 30. This seemed too bizarre to be true, but true it is. I can just picture the hordes of doubtful home buyers, wary about whether to buy a Veridian home, but a free garage door opener! Where do I sign?

Then the other night on News Hour I watched a segment that made the Gestalt complete. The subject of the segment was how high-risk mortgage foreclosures are likely to rise. The types of high-risk loans described sounded curiously similar to the Veridian 2/1 Buydown Program - a low interest rate the first year, a higher one the second year, and a higher fixed rate for the rest of the loan period.

All of this in a collapsing real estate market. No wonder there was such an air of uneasiness. A vertically integrated real estate business like Veridian would seem to make the home buying process easier, more seamless, and less expensive, but in an unhealthy market, it bears all the risk. As builder, real estate agency, and mortgage broker (they have a "cooperating" broker), three businesses in one lose in a tight market.

Which could be a long way of saying that I'm glad I don't meet Veridian's qualifications. More pertinent for society in general is that this is the nature of the business world in which we live. It's more fakery than anything else - businesses either producing shoddy, environmentally damaging products that are dangerous to health, providing jobs that are exploitative and oppressive, or depend on phony enticements and manipulation in order to sell their products. With a nation of people internalizing such occupations, it should be no surprise that we end up with a criminal gang occupying the White House.

After this descent into darkness, a little fun is called for. Click here. Then click here for another great song.

To read a little more about Veridian, click here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What about us?

Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, patriots both, in the truest sense.Now that Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Irv Lewis "Scooter" Libby, has been convicted of four felony charges for his role in the treasonous exposure of an intelligence agent, the question we face is where the country goes from here. I wrote a comment that I submitted to Salon and Smirking Chimp, and a revised version appears below. Before reading it I suggest you read Glenn Greenwald's reponse to defeatist comments on what he wrote about the verdict.

Changing the dialogue

The power behind the throneMy greatest hope is that this verdict will disabuse the country of the notion that the Bush regime is anything other than a criminal organization. A mafia. A syndicate. A gang. A conspiracy. The ideology is just window dressing, intellectual cover, a front to keep pundits employed, especially on Fox and CNN, but also on the "legitimate" networks - CBS, ABC, and NBC. The intention of the propaganda front is to keep the "American" people confused, fooled, compliant, and supportive.

From Bush to his lowest appointee, this administration is criminal. Bush himself stole two elections. He should never have been president in the first place. His active negligence (or worse) enabled the attacks of September 11, 2001. His lying enabled the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the occupation has been fraught with corruption, kidnapping, torture, and murder of Iraqis.

His active negligence enabled the disaster and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His failure to address the effects of climate change guarantees that we will pay a dear price for it in death and destruction for decades to come. He is a completely worthless human being, and should be impeached, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for the rest of his misspent life. His accomplices should suffer the same fate.

The real question at this point is what about us, The "American" people? Do we have the wherewithal, the nerve, the courage to bring this regime to justice? If we are a nation of Patrick Fitzgeralds, then yes, we do. But there is an entire political party that supports the criminality of the Bush crime family. The "Republicans" will do anything they can to prevent the gang from being held accountable, because the long arm of the law just might reach them too. So we can expect the expected: obfuscation, propaganda, obstruction, fake indignation, fake arguments, diversion, character assassination, scapegoating, threats, lies, etc., etc., etc.

What honorable, intelligent people can begin doing is change the dialogue about the drive for empire. It was never for us, but for themselves. "Leftists" call them "fascists," but it is fascism to benefit themselves, not us. They would not like fascism so much if someone else were in power. The "Patriot Act" is for their own benefit, not ours. The domestic spying is to benefit themselves, not us. Packing the Supreme Court is for themselves, not us. The "War on terror" is for their benefit, not ours.

So maybe now we can start to talk differently about this regime. Once we have changed the context, we can see clearly what needs to be done.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Thinking outside the box

Destroy the reactionaries. From art of the Cultural RevolutionI read a lot of Smirking Chimp articles in the past week(s), and commented on a goodly number of them. Writing comments is a bit like trees falling in the forest when no one is there, so I compiled the most recent of them below. The links are to the original articles. What emerges as a theme in most of what I write are (1) that the supposed "right wing" is actually a criminal element; (2) that the mythical "left" is a mistaken identity, and the illusion of ideology causes its adherents to see the criminal "right" as something to be reasoned with or defeated in the forum of ideas; and (3) that our economic system is about to collapse, and we need to start planning for its replacement. In other words, we need to do something.


Mar 5 2007

It's time to prepare

I've written elsewhere on this site that these horrific stories are actually cause for optimism. The supposedly all-powerful corporate state is falling apart. It is befouling its nest.

Looked at in the broad view of history, the phenomenon of the corporation is a relatively short-lived entity. It had a beginning, a rise to prominence, and will have a decline and fall. Good riddance.

Corporations are fictions, collections of individuals who are joined for their own benefit. The corporation has to provide a benefit in order to remain in existence.

What we need to do is prepare for the day when corporations no longer exist. That day will come, but without a plan for the next phase of civilization, we could end up with something worse.


Mar 5 2007

Tally ho!

This is really valuable. Courageous too. I've never seen some of the people in this video, except snippets of Bob Barr, Mitt Romney, and David Horowitz. Even without cable, it would be hard to have completely avoided Ann Coulter.

It was a bit of an eye opener for me, because I have known a number of "right wingers," and have always found a fundamental dishonesty and ego-centeredness to be their main characteristics. True believing actually exists, as the video reveals, though I still think dishonesty and narcissism are at its root.

The video also revealed something about the nature of fanaticism. It is a group phenomenon. The followers of Tancredo were the clearest evidence of this level of consciousness. It is hard to imagine a lone fanatic.

The most valuable aspect of the video, though, is its very existence. The momentum has shifted, and the "conservative" movement is now on the run. The hounds are on the scent, and the chase is on. Tally ho!


Mar 5 2007

What's in a name?

The comment above is self-contradictory. The writer states that it is the "Five Percent Who Own and Operate America" who will wage war against "Iran," but "If America does not control this vital region, and its resources, America faces sharp economic and political decline."

This is a common confusion. Five percent of "America" is not "America." It is the ruling elite of "America." The 95% that is controlled by the 5% can get along quite nicely without them, and can get along quite nicely with the rest of the world.

So the task at hand is to displace the 5% that controls the 95%. It can be done without "hating America," because "America" is not identical with its 5% ruling elite.

"America" is an abstraction anyway. The land mass, between "Canada" and "Mexico," plus a couple of disconnected "states" and "territories," does not call itself "America," and got along fine for millenia without being called "America" by others.

So, to paraphrase Lily Tomlin, "America" is a collective hunch, a conventionally agreed upon entity that had a beginning, and, not being God, will have an end.

This is not a meaningless exercise. We can better stop the plans of the Bush crime crime family if we are clear about in whose interest its plans are made.


Mar 4 2007

The real Joe Lieberman

I was expecting something of substance in this rant, but it was just a Lieberman bashing, an easy task that anyone could write. I missed the part in Lieberman's "address" that revealed his "Republican" nature. He gave a stock mini-speech about caring for the troops.

On the bright side, with forty nine "Democrats" in the Senate, one "Independent," and one "Connecticut for Lieberman," sore loserman won't be giving the address for a while. It's kind of strange that we're hearing from him so much, when there are so many other senators we could hear from, like Daniel Inouye, a war hero who lost an arm in World War II.

I don't hate Lieberman, so I can look at his antics with some distance, and some dispassion. Given that the Bush regime is a criminal operation rather than an ideological one, and that this is likely common knowledge in Washington, D.C., the stupid capital of the universe, then Lieberman is not an ideological partner with the Bush crime family, but an accomplice. He is a criminal. The only real question is what is his role in the criminal operation, and what is his gain.

In the spirit of J. Edgar Hoover, the Bush gang probably has something on him. Hoover had files on everyone, and used them to blackmail elected officials into voting for appropriations for the FBI, and for other favors. Lieberman likely has a skeleton or two in his closet, and the Bush gang has the goods on him.

The other factor is Lieberman's unquestioning support for "Israel." For some odd reason, the Bush gang is perceived as more supportive to "Israel" than are the "Democrats." It is likely that Lieberman is in on the grand plan to attack Iran, do something nasty to Lebanon, and possibly attack other "Arab" nations. There are probably contingency plans for the "Palestinians" too.

The key to Lieberman's soul is his continuation to run for the Senate after being defeated in the Connecticut primary election. In knee-jerk fashion, "leftists" attributed this to his ego, when a desperate need to continue Bush's criminal operation is the more likely reason. Where this will be clearly in evidence is when Lieberman switches to the "Republican" party.

Peripherally for reasons of principle, it should be obvious that the real reason is criminal. As I enjoy saying at every opportunity, "leftists" are incapable of seeing the Bush gang, "Republicans," Joe Lieberman, and the hate-o-sphere of Fox News and its brethren in any other terms than ideological, when they are actually just common criminals. This ideological addiction actually gives the criminals power. It gives them a fake argument to foist on the public, by playing along with it. I don't enjoy saying this, but also do at frequent opportunity: thanks for nothing.


Mar 5 2007

Left of the right, right of the extreme left, which is left of..

It is, I agree, like walking on thin ice to make generalizations about "leftists," but I do anyway. What makes it easy is that to identify with a direction, a handedness (I am "left-handed," but I don't identify with it, and it doesn't make me a "leftist."), a relational side, or a cadence call (yo left-yo-le-eft) is a form of delusion. There is no "left," but there is an identity with "it" anyway.

Supposedly there is a "leftist" belief system, and a membership. The problem with these phenomena is they cannot be either defined or codified. One man's "leftist" belief system is another's accursed "liberalism." One woman's membership list is another's list of half-steppers and "rightists."

So I can generalize about "leftists" because they are the "leftists" that fit my generalization. And, they exist, though "the" "left" doesn't exist. There isn't much talk among people who identify themselves as "leftists" about the fundamental criminality of the ruling elites in "America." What they concentrate on are the various "policy failures."

Criminality is the very core nature of the ruling elite in this country. Sociopathy is their basic manner of being. To understand them, to predict what they will do, and to overcome them, they must be seen as criminals, first, last, and always. Except for Mike Malloy, I don't hear that from any "leftists." And I don't listen to Mike Malloy.


Mar 4 2007

Now is the time to plan for the next civilization

This is cause for optimism. The money and power elite in this country has sown the seeds for its own ruin, to coin a phrase. With their greed and zeal for empire they put themselves above all of creation. That is the kind of pride that precedes a great fall.

What is called for now is a plan for the replacement of the money and power elite, and the kind of country or web of countries that will replace it. Rather than focus on the negative, we badly need to stake out a future.

The first requirement is for a new economic system. It will have to be a steady state system - having a limit to total output. There will have to be limits to what is produced also. And there will have to be a moral, ethical method of distributing wealth and income.

The planet will have fewer people by necessity. The current elite method of population control - endless war and oppression - will not be a part of any true civilization. The twin policies of balanced standard of living and family planning are the only moral and humane ways of controlling population.

A productive and social system that is consistent with the planet's ecology will be our only option as a viable species on this planet.

The elites here and elsewhere have had their chance, and they have squandered it with narcissism and rapaciousness. It is now time to replace them, but it must be done with a plan. Otherwise, we will likely do worse.


Mar 4 2007

Why "Republicans" are not funny

A good point could have been made here if the critique weren't so badly written. It was painful to read this, having to disentangle the arcane connections from one sentence to the next.

It does afford an opportunity to deconstruct the faux spectrum of "left" to "right." If there really is a linear spectrum of "left" to "right," then the "wings" should be equally funny. A horizontal spectrum would be asymmetrical if one "wing" has gradations of funniness that decline towards the center, but don't increase when moving away from the center in the direction of the opposite "wing." The spectrum could be a scale, such as from zero to ten, with zero being unfunny, and ten being very funny. If that were the case, then we would have a "zero wing" and a "ten wing."

The reason the supposed "right wing" isn't funny is because it is not a "wing" at all, but a criminal identity. The "Republican" party is a criminal party. The "Democratic" party is at least superficially the party of distributive justice, regardless of however well it lives up to its obligations.

Just one final note in case the criminality of the "Republican" party isn't clear. The goal of all "Republicans" is to "have it all," to have all the wealth on the entire planet. This isn't just greed. It's rapacious, murderous greed. No one can have all the wealth in the world, so they have to fake togetherness, unanimity, in order to stay in the game of "having it all." This mental attitude is a criminal attitude. With this criminality as a foundation, the crime they foist on the world naturally follows.

Nowhere can this criminality be explained by a symmetrical spectrum based on pretend ideologies. The real spectrum is from civilization to barbarism, and it has no symmetry. Barbarism is not funny.


Mar 2 2007

The tide of history

Not one to be Pollyannish, but I see cause for optimism. For one thing, history waits for no one. The situation we have now did not exist 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Or ever before in human history. The human species, by virtue of its survival instinct alone, is on notice about the crimes and excesses of the Bush regime and its cronies.

Also, though it may not seem like it, we are at the final stage of what is known as Capitalism. It has used itself up. There is no room left for either expansion of output or for gutting the planet's resources. In the very near future we will see something on the order of a maintenance-type economy. We will have to move to a steady-state form of economic system whether we like it or not.

There is not a dynamic for increasing monopoly control and criminal government, though it doesn't seem like it now. The actual dynamic, for those who aren't looking, is for economic collapse. The "Iraq" "war" is the proximate cause, but it is only the accelerant. The long-term, or secular trend, is for collapse anyway, due to our structural imperative for growth, and its concurrent destruction of the ecosystem.

Which is where the argument leaves "liberals" behind. In the Western tradition, there is an ego-centered need to argue everything out on an intellectual level. Like this article, the issue of monopoly control is couched in terms of an intellectual position about the good of society versus another intellectual position.

The phenomenon of the Bush regime is presented in other studies as an intellectual argument between competing "ideologies," when the Bush gang is just the final stage of a long line of criminal organizations, existing solely to use political power to steal, murder, torture, kidnap, deceive, and control.

I suggest everyone watch "The life of Brian." It is a masterful satire of human folly, and the way it depicts "leftist" cell groups is pure genius.
The best thing we can do is to see where the flow of history is going, and what we can do to ease the transition. Huge change is on the way, with or without us.


Mar 2 2007


I suppose this is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the gang that foisted the invasion and occupation of "Iraq" on us, but it's just more of the same. The criticism is couched in terms of the Bush regime's dishonesty and incompetence.

Pardon me, but the dishonesty and incompetence of this regime are givens. We can analyze to death, theorize, satirize, harp, and rage about Bush and his "administration" until we are blue in the face, but it's additive analysis. It's based on the view that these are people with a wrongful "ideology," and that because of that they make bad decisions. Then the analysis and criticism is piled on, with the weight of the criticism supposedly creating a preponderance of evidence that this regime is misguided and lacking in the ability to govern.

They are not misguided! They are criminals! They have not had for one minute the intention of governing competently. Their only intention is crime. The supposed "New American Century" is not intended for "America." It is for themselves. The "empire" is not for "Americans." It is for the Bush gang. There is not one smidgeon of evidence that the empire planning of the Bush crime family had the betterment of the "American" people in mind. It has always been about the oil, and the control over it for the Bush crime family and its cronies.

"Leftist" analysis and criticism is genetically incapable of looking at anything other than ideologically. But I can. Douglas Feith is a criminal. He is part of a criminal gang. The "ideology" is all crap, window dressing. Even the think tanks are just PR operations.

All the fear-mongering about "fascism" is also ideologically driven. Bush and his gang certainly would like to enact fascistic controls, but it's not because of ideology, a belief in "fascism" as a political philosophy. They want impunity from prosecution, and a free hand to commit more crimes. The "fascism" they want is fascism for themselves. They wouldn't want it so much if they were under its boot, out of power, and oppressed.

So the same can be said about "leftists." Who is the "leftist" analysis for? It is for themselves. I know many "leftists." The more ideological they are, the more ego-obsessed they are. The most extreme are also the most entertaining. They resemble their counterparts on the "right" more than they would ever believe.

This is not an idle intellectual exercise. If we can see the Bush regime for what it is, and call it what it is, then we will be better able to do what is necessary to remove it from power. We will also find it easier to put the members of this regime where they belong, in jail. As it stands now, our best hope is to wait for the next election, and replace this "administration" with one of a different "ideology."


Feb 26 2007

If we can't stop this attack, then we are the incompetents

I wouldn't get my hopes up for military resignations deterring the Bush gang. For one thing, such imagined resignations would occur after attacks on "Iran" will have already begun. Another thing is that by this time the promotion process has secured willing collaborators in key positions.

Most important to realize, though, is that the Bush regime is a criminal operation, and in their eyes they need to invade Iran. If they don't, then the momentum for aggression goes in the opposite direction, making them vulnerable to increased scrutiny and criminal prosecution.

Which is where citizens come in. We can do more than make snipey comments about Bush on obscure websites. Pressure works. Writing congresspersons actually works in today's climate. Writing to newspapers, TV stations, the "Army Times," the U.N., the Pope, and anyone else you can think of also can increase the pressure.

It may seem that increasing the pressure on the Bush gang won't affect them, but that is presuming the media hype that these are strong people. They aren't. They are weaklings. They depend on the illusion of strength and the obeisance of subordinates to pull off their crimes. If there is one slogan we ought to have for stopping this planned attack, it is break up the gang! Get the underlings to jump ship! Find a whistleblower! Get someone to talk! Someone has to spill the beans, tip over the applecart, eject, squeal, rat, fink, sing, and inform.

Another way of looking at it is that it is the height of absurdity that a small criminal gang has the entire planet under threat of conflagration. We aren't much of a species if we can't stop this bunch of ridiculous crooks.


Feb 14 2007

Cultural factors

This is an excellent and exhaustive study. Concise too, for the material covered. There are a couple of other factors that are worth considering. One is the escapism of mass culture in the "U.S." Through the delivery of mass media: newspapers, magazines, television, radio, movies, the Internet, video games, ipods, and new devices that are coming out by the minute, "Americans" are consumed with gossip about celebrities, sensational "news" about such nonevents like runaway brides, diapered astronauts, and the personal lives of movie stars Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie.

Another factor is the posturing and self-caricaturizing of the various elements of the "American" "left." Cocooning themselves in any number of factions of ideological purity, they parade in their sundry uniforms of dreadlocks, dishevelment, black leather jackets, piercings, tattoos, beards of various lengths, berets, army fatigues, cowboy hats, faux-proletarian costumes, advocacy buttons, and "anarchist" black.

Beyond the uniforms, there is the rhetoric. I live in Madison, Wisconsin, where you can see and hear it all. One faction tries to drum the airwaves with retro-indoctrination of the Internationale, Paul Robeson, the Wobblies, Phil Ochs, the Civil Rights movement, and the anti-Vietnam war movement. All these historical facts, figures, and movements are great lessons, but they are not owned by any group or faction, and are not weapons for propaganda.

Other factions are not so blatant, but exist mostly by cultural cohesion. They are not so much exclusive of each other as they are exclusive of the general public. And therein lies the rub. They have no intention whatsoever of communicating with the general public, but are more interested in jockeying for position among themselves. The term "preaching to the choir" is not quite accurate. It's more like lording among the flies.

As far as the general public is concerned, they are free to "join us" or be excluded and estranged. And there it stands.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, though. The predicament we are in is synergistic, and the dominant factor is the natural environment, manifesting most synergistically in Climate Change, also known as Global Warming. No amount of superficiality, escapism, posturing, or groupthink is going to solve the problem. We are in a condition metaphorically similar to the time before Noah's Ark. Something monumental is going to take place within the next several years. It will be a test of the intelligence of homo sapiens, and its ability to deal with unavoidable reality. The focal point of the change in consciousness is not likely to be the "United States of America," but some other place on the planet that will emerge in surprising ways. My pick is Iceland. It's as good a choice as anywhere else.