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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.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The invisible hand

I received an email from The Sierra Club last week announcing a new program to petition the corporate information media to ask the presidential candidates what they would do about global warming.

I wish them luck. ABC is owned by Disney, CBS is owned by Westinghouse, NBC is owned by General Electric, and CNN, probably the most independent major news organization, is owned by Time Warner. General Electric and Westinghouse are the most pernicious of owners, being very large corporations with great dependency on military contracts. Hence, an interest in war.

Disney's interest is in what is good for the Disney entertainment business, and Disney being a large corporation, owning a broadcast network means controlling information, especially about Disney.

Then, of course, we have Fox, owned by one person, Rupert Murdoch, an "Australian" who became a "U.S." citizen in order to legally own the network. Fox News, through its "CEO" Roger Ailes, has advanced itself as a propaganda megaphone for the "Republican" party, the Bush criminal regime, and the corporate power structure.

Fox is a good example of the limits to corporate control of information, and of limits to the belief the public has in what it is fed by the mainstream media. As reported in Salon this week, Fox's ratings are down significantly, and the network's "reporters" and "anchors" have been suffering a number of public embarrassments. By staking so much of its "reputation" on the fortunes of the "Republican" party, Fox is now paying for its gamble, as the "Republicans," criminals almost to a man and woman, are falling into disfavor. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

No matter who owns the TV and radio networks, they are businesses, and have to make profits in order to keep functioning. The way they make profits is to take in more money in advertising revenues than they pay out in salaries, wages, overhead, programming costs, and other expenses.

The growing threat of not just recession, but a complete collapse of our corrupt economic system puts even greater pressure on the criminal corporate news media. If the system collapses, the corporations collapse too. For a primer or two on the likelihood of collapse, click here and here. Here's another good read.

In this overall context, the Sierra Club campaign is worthwhile, but it begs the inevitable. What good is a media infrastructure that lies, distorts, distracts, and avoids in order to maintain a social structure? It's not worth anything. Not a single cent. I mean that literally. It's not worth any money. As our destruction of human lives and destruction of the ecosystem intensifies, no amount of lies, distortions, distractions, and avoidance is going to have any worth. Its worth is already in sharp decline.

It was inevitable that the entire world situation would come to our present predicament. More and more, I see the march of human history as deterministic. George W. Bush was no fluke. The entire progression of human presence on this planet made his accession to power a near-certainty. The myriad of facts that led to this tragic situation is not the important thing. What our real interest should be is the corrupt trajectory of our society that allowed such a criminal to become its "leader," its representative to humanity and to history.

There is a beauty to all this. A grotesque beauty, like Picasso's Guernica, but a beauty nonetheless. So wantonly criminal, so deceitful, so callous, so incompetent, so crude, so obvious, the Bush regime will be a lesson greater than Hitler or Stalin for generations to come.

With Hitler and Stalin, the evil was a full-force, monolithic menace to humanity. The Bush regime took it to a new level - the con game, the combination of greed, lust for power, control of public perception, and euphemization of mass torture and murder. Though the Bush gang is still holding power, it is in decline, and the momentum is not likely to reverse.

This is a real backhanded way of being optimistic, but I marvel at the genius of history. It's another way of saying the genius of "God," I suppose, but I have a growing awe of power greater than the ego of man. We have hard times ahead, but there is an invisible hand at work. Adam Smith had a mere glimpse of the size of the hand.

's a tune for the times.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Clash of the titans

Polar bears taking a break. They depend on our good will for their survivalThe news media are giddy about the "victory" of Hillary Clinton in the "New Hampshire" primary. Not because they like Hillary Clinton, or because they believe she is the best candidate for president. They are giddy because her "victory" is automatic hype for "election" coverage. The more tight the race, the more excitement can be generated. The more excitement, the more viewers and readers are available to be pitched to by advertisers. The advertisers are corporations.

Just to bring it all back down to earth, so to speak, I drove home in fog last Saturday night, and could see about 20 feet in front of my car at the most.State Trooper L.C. Block, center right, holds the hands of Carter Raymond, far right, and his cousin Kyle Czarnik as Kyle's mother, Andrea Thorngren, holds her sons hand and they walk away from the crash scene on Interstate 90 Sunday.(Photo by Leah L. Jones - State Journal)
The only way I could stay on the road was to keep my eye on the reflectors that were spaced along the center line. I also relied on the car ahead of me, but it vanished in the fog after about 15 miles. The next day, two people died in a fog-related pileup on the Interstate highway near Madison.

Wisconsin also had a tornado on Monday, which damaged 100 homes. The temperature reached a high of 47 degrees in Madison the same day. Compare this with the winter of 1995. I was working as a cable TV installer, and the temperature was consistently below zero. One day in January 1996 it was -35 degrees. Luckily, most of my work was indoors that day.

On Wisconsin Public Radio this morning, show host Kathleen Dunn interviewed Jim Motavalli, editor of E Magazine, on the subject "Losing winter." You may be able to listen to it by clicking here. I wasn't, but that's another story.

The global warming phenomenon may have advanced beyond our ability to reverse or stabilize the trend. It's not a fun prospect to think about, but it puts everything in context.

Particularly the "election." Regardless of who "wins," humankind, especially the "American" variety, is institutionally incapable of solving this dilemma in a competent way. We have rampant growth of population worldwide. That is, rampant growth of population worldwide with no meaningful intention of controlling or reducing it other than wars, disease, starvation, and poverty.

There also is no intention on the part of mass human institutions to place limits on economic growth, even though it means further degradation of the environment, and exacerbation of the great inequality that causes exponential population growth.

In that overall context, the "United States of America" is run by criminals. The executive branch of the Federal government has been a mafia-type criminal operation since early 2001, and likely for several decades before. This mafia-type criminal operation was placed in office through vote fraud and a Supreme Court that is derivative of the appointment process. Justices appointed by previous criminal administrations can be counted on to perpetuate the mafiaization (My own new term, I think. I haven't seen it before. Sometimes things pulled from the Collective Unconscious may have been pulled by someone else.) of the executive branch.

New Hampshire primary resultsThe support network of the executive branch mafia is most significantly made up of major corporations, especially defense contractors, oil and other energy companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, chemical companies, and, lest we forget, the news media. Just to muddy the waters a bit about the New Hampshire primary, the votes were counted by Diebold, the same company that guaranteed a victory for George W. Bush in 2004, and had a hand in the voting debacle in Florida in 2000, beginning the eight year national disaster were are now enduring.

This is a battle of mythic proportions: humankind is facing extinction, and the institutional framework of "the world's only superpower" is a mafia. It's asymmetrical warfare, to coin a phrase. Our criminal ruling elite versus the ecosystem that they and the rest of humankind depend on for survival. As each day passes, the climate crisis intensifies, the threat to our very existence intensifies, and the criminal class - the rich, the powerful, the corporate - becomes more desperately criminal. It's a clash of the titans, to coin another phrase. Who do you think will win?

Here's a petition to sign. You don't have to join.

Here's a little light reading: Click, click, click, and click.
This also is worth reading.

A hint of things to come (mythically, of course).

Sometimes a sad tune can cheer you up.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sifting and winnowing

Dennis Kucinich's explanation of why he doesn't support John EdwardsI'm not necessarily a supporter of any candidate for president, but I've sent a few dollars to Dennis Kucinich. Because of that, I get his email newsletter. Yesterday's edition offered an explanation of why he urged his supporters in Iowa to make Barack Obama their second choice. It's worth a read, and if you click on the image at the right, you can check it out.

We can all be swayed by the emotion of the moment, the allure of the bandwagon, and the momentum of an ascending candidacy. Barack Obama seems to be the rising star, and the likely "Democratic" nominee. As of now, we can't be sure of what we are getting with any of the candidates, but the above information, combined with the record of who voted which way on the authorization to invade "Iraq" should serve as a guide.

Strange bedfellowsHillary Clinton and John Edwards voted for the Bush criminal regime's invasion of "Iraq." They were joined by such bright lights of "American" statesmanship as Strom Thurmond, Pete Domenici, John McCain, Larry Craig, Trent Lott, and Ted Stevens.

Vote roll call on the “Iraq” war resolutionAnyone who voted for the Bush criminal regime's invasion of "Iraq" should be automatically disqualified for public office. If I, from the distance of Madison, Wisconsin, could see that the "intelligence" used to promote the invasion was fake, surely these senators could. If I, from the distance of Madison, Wisconsin, could see that the Bush gang - Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et. al. - as criminal sociopaths, surely these senators could.

Now we are beginning to reap the results. I'm not sure what we exactly need or who is the best candidate for President of the United States, but we can make a good start by not rewarding those who helped get us into the mess in which we now find ourselves.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Peace will come

A Saluki tattooNew Year's Day has to be the emptiest holiday of the year. Millions are recovering from the previous night's revelry, self-medicating with more firewater and watching bowl games on TV. A new year is beginning, but the only frame of reference is last year.

Worse yet is the day before New Year's, with the referential name New Year's Eve. When I was young I couln't understand why my parents were so morose on New Year's Eve. Now I know. It's the final day of the year, and with advancing age and a body in declining health and abilities, the future doesn't look so appealing. Mistakes and setbacks made during the year get exaggerated, and depression can set in. My dad had another good reason to be a bit down on New Year's Eve. A surgeon, he was "on-call" every New Year's, due to the many drunk driving accidents. One year he got called out at 2:00 a.m., and spent the rest of the night picking pieces of windshield from a young girl's formerly pretty face. His partner for the night was the town's oral surgeon, who sewed her tongue back on. Her boyfriend, the driver, was dead.

New Year's Eve is also a time to take stock of what happened in the past 364 days, and reflect on the what might lie ahead. Not feeling especially cheerful, I listened to the syndicated news program Democracy Now on Madison's "leftist" radio station, WORT. It was the perfect cure.

The one-hour show was a litany of the bad things that happened in 2007. In almost staccato style, one tragedy, outrage, and disaster after another was re-reported with the stern, strident tone of the show's host Amy Goodman. Without any sense of imbalance or excess, she forged ahead, making the show a comedy of negativity. Nothing positive was offered, nothing alternative, no solution, just a piling on of depressing news events.

The message of Democracy Now is by implication. The world is bad, people in power are bad, and we, the "leftists," are good. The overwhelming badness of those others, the "rightists," make "us," the "alternative," "better," and "we" should be in charge.

The absurdity of this show snapped my out of my doldrums. So over the top with its negativity, it was like homeopathy, the cure being a powerful dose of the disease. Every negative thing for the rest of the day added to the healing effect.

I thought about this blog, and the errors I have made writing it. My previous post, for example. It turns out that Benazir Bhutto wasn't such a "democrat" after all. One criticism can be seen here. A good analysis of the dilemmas facing the "U.S." in "Pakistan" can be seen here.

The last cure of the day came in reading through the alumni magazine from one of my alma maters, Southern Illinois University, which arrived in the mail. I get these magazines from all three of my alma maters, as well as from my high school, and they are all pretty much the same: a letter from the current president/principal, stories of famous graduates, pictures of present and former students, and appeals for donations. One of the success stories was of a graduate who has become a "Washington Redskins" cheerleader.

Better yet was the picture of the "Saluki" tattoo on a presumed SIU graduate's leg. The Southern Illinois athletic teams are known as "The Salukis," named after an "Egyptian" breed of dog. The southern region of Illinois is called "Egypt," for a variety of reasons, largely due to its location between the Mississippi, Wabash, and Ohio rivers. The town at the southern tip is named Cairo (pronounced "Caro" - not Kay-ro, as outlanders who pretend to know will tell you), and another town along the Mississippi is named Thebes. Of course, farther downriver there is Memphis, adding to the lore.

When I saw the tattoo picture my optimism for the future was restored. It was an "aha" moment. Being an "American" isn't enough of an identity. Being a "Christian" isn't enough either. But a "Saluki," now that's an identity to brand your body with. Why stop with a leg? How about Saluki tattoos on less public areas of the body? A creative tatto artist could draw twin dogs on symmetrical body appendages. The possibilities abound.

I wonder at the possibilities for alumni of other schools, and for fans of professional teams. The Oregon State Beavers. The Southern California Trojans. The Texas Longhorns. The Duke Blue Devils. The West Virginia Mountaineers. The Whitman College Missionaries.

The Washington Redskins.

The "aha" I experienced was that we are living in an absurd age, and it has to play itself out in its own manner. We have an escapist, rapacious, ignorant culture, and it is not going to change overnight, or even over a century. In Vedantic lore, this age is known as Kali Yuga, the age of darkness.

I have wondered for years why the Tibetan monks at nearby Deer Park, especially Geshe Sopa, never say anything about politics. I think I now have a pretty good understanding. For true spiritual pursuit it is irrelevant.

What Geshe Sopa talks about most in the lectures I have attended is Karma, the sowing an reaping of human actions and interactions. Politics is subsumed under the Law of Karma - that all action has consequence. Do evil, and you invite reckoning. No amount of escape - TV, alcohol, drugs, food, sex, money, power, false identity - is going to change this.

Out of this realization a New Year's resolution formed, similar to what many are likely forming. My own life is all I can hope to control, as Tom Paxton often sings. Bush, his gang, their corporate backers, "leftists," "rightists" - they will do what they will, and reap what they sow. For me, I need to learn a bit about gardening, and take care of my own sowing. Have a great 2008!

Here's the only version of "Peace will come" I could find. It will do.

Click here for more college nicknames.