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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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Crime without punishment

It seems everyone has something to say about the credit meltdown. National Public Radio has continuing stories on the crisis, explaining the situation in a more evenhanded manner than it deserves. The commercial television networks, of course, have been covering it in their own way. I can't say how well they are doing because I haven't been watching. I watch PBS's News Hour, which does a pretty decent job, as can be seen here.

The problem I have with both NPR and PBS is that they are establishmentarian. The way the programs are constructed and the information presented encourages what psychologists call learned helplessness. The underlying message is that the common person is a spectator, a powerless observer of events that are controlled by key players on the national and international scene. The viewer and/or listener's role is to become "informed."

For this reason, and a few others, I prefer the "alternative" media. The message is not powerlessness. The best I have read and listened to have been in Salon, Democracy Now, Thom Hartmann, Counterpunch, and for emotional fire, Ed Schultz. I've had my differences with Ed Schultz over his bellicose manner, but he's been doing some great analysis lately, and he puts his heart and soul into his work. This article by Naomi Klein is a must read.

Not tending to be a mere spectator, a passively "informed" citizen, I let a concern fester for a while, and then formulate a response. I have a lengthy one pending for this blog, but it's taking more time and effort than I have available for a while. A couple of inspirations came to me by email, and I had time to respond quickly. One was from a group named Fresh Air and Clean Politics, which has a campaign to send letters to Congress to stop the $700 billion bailout of the banking industry. They supplied a sample letter, inviting responders to add a few words of their own. Below is my response, with my own words in bold:

To: Fresh Air and Clean Politics, then to my Congressperson

I am writing to you to urge you to stop the bailout. It is not a time for panic but a time for deliberation. We have not even been told what the bailout will be used for.

If there is a bailout it needs to be restructured so that it is transparent, includes checks and balances, requires that those who profited from reckless finance speculation pay for cleaning up the mess and that it is part of the development of a new foundation for the American economy.

We have seen panic throughout the Bush administration and it has never led to a good end. The military attack on Iraq was caused by a drum beat of war that included a massive misinformation campaign. The Patriot Act, which has severely undermined civil liberties was passed without most members of Congress even reading it. Now, this bailout is being pushed in the midst of a Wall Street panic. Is it really needed? Is this the right remedy? Will this prevent irresponsible investment in the future?

There is no question that the U.S. economy needs revitalization. But, a mass bailout of the financial community will not create the new economy we need. Indeed, if hundreds of billions are spent on bad investments it will result in there being no funding available for what is needed to create an economy for the 21st Century where we can all prosper.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Bush regime is comprehensively criminal. Its first priority is crime. The invasion and occupation of "Iraq" is only the most flagrant example. Negligence before the September 11, 2001 attacks, before and after Hurricane Katrina, domestic spying, torture, kidnapping, treasonous exposure of an intelligence officer, etc., etc. - are others.

To believe anything this regime says is to be complicit in its crimes, a legacy that no self-respecting person would want to have.


Please vote no on the bailout and step back and consider the options available to the United States.

Thank You,

Me
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I got another appeal from a group named Just Foreign policy, again with a prepared letter to send to News Hour host Jim Lehrer, who will be moderating the first debate between presidential candidates McCain and Obama. Again, they had their own prepared letter, with the invitation to add a few of my own words. Here's what I sent, again with my own words in bold:

To: Just Foreign Policy, then Jim Lehrer

At the presidential debate, please ask Barack Obama and John McCain about their plans to implement U.S. policy of opposition to Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories, which the U.S. government has long acknowledged is a key stumbling block to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

I also would like for you to ask both candidates if they support an unprovoked military attack on Iran, either by the U.S., or by its proxy Israel.

You might want to ask them both, just for curiosity's sake, if they would start a war with Russia over oil or its relationships with its neighbors.

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For good measure, I sent this comment to Huffington Post:

It shouldn't be too hard to figure out why the Bush criminal regime is able to pose as the savior, just as it did to sucker the country into approving the invasion of "Iraq." The BCR (Bush criminal regime) has tiers of support in the Congress, the judiciary, the news media, and in the ignorant and easy to fool general population.

It won't be until the country is in a serious depression that the populace will finally see the light. Until then, the addiction to industrial luxuries (as Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen used to put it) and intellectual submissiveness will keep people sufficiently docile.

I think the best way to look at the situation is cultural. We have a certain kind of culture, and the past eight years have been a festival of malfeasance in business and government at all levels, all done in the context of this culture. Until the culture changes in a comprehensive manner, the criminality will continue to flourish, likely in new mutations, adapting to conditions.
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These three letters pretty well summarize my attitude towards the Bush regime, and about the presidential campaign. As the past seven and a half years have clearly demonstrated, this regime is ruthlessly criminal to its very core. There is nothing the Bush gang does without criminal intent. For this reason only, the "bailout" should be seen for what it is: a scheme to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

There is no bailout for the millions whose homes are being foreclosed. There is no bailout for the many thousands who have lost their jobs during this regime's time in office. There is no bailout for the service men and women returning from "Iraq" and "Afghanistan." There is no bailout for students trying to pay for their education. There is no bailout for the millions of people in this country who are without health insurance. And there is no bailout for the millions of workers whose retirement plans are becoming worthless.

The mainstream media (corporate owned or sponsored) are not to be trusted, because they are obliged to portray the Bush criminal regime as legitimate, with sincere intentions to solve the problems the country faces. All evidence indicates otherwise. The Bush gang and its clients should be breaking rocks in the hot sun for the rest of their lives, but the media giants give them propaganda cover.

We face very difficult times. We can get through these times with our civilization intact and even thriving if we behave as a civilization. The first step is to follow what I call the hand-in-front-of-your-face principle. See truthfully what is in front of us. What is in front of us now is a $700 billion scam, a handout to the already rich to keep them in their status of global parasites. If the rich get richer at our expense without a fight, we will have only ourselves to blame.
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Here's some money music.

Here's some more.

Monty Python offers this money song.

Here's one from Ray Charles.

I almost forgot Pink Floyd.

And, of course, REM. Hmm. Showing my age a bit. I guess it's R.E.M. I remember reading once that this band's leader referred to the Beatles as elevator music. Would that make them escalator music? Stairway? Fire escape? Rope ladder? Suction cup?

Here's a dedication to the Bush criminal regime. Thanks go to the Bobby Fuller Four. Here's a fun version. Here's the lyrics, chords, and tab.

Here's something we could try.

Maybe it's time to ask for some help.

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