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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.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

An example to follow

Archbishop Desmond Tutu with the Dalai LamaIn 1989 or so while visiting a friend, she introduced me to her housemate, a student from "China." Typical of "Chinese" students, my friend's housemate took on a Western name - "Tina" - an all-too-frequent choice. Also typical of "Chinese" students at the time, she was a supporter of the student democracy movement back home.

Tina impressed me with her fervor and eloquence in talking about the situation in "China." At one point I moved the conversation further along, adding that it would be great if the "Chinese" government stopped its occuation and oppression in "Tibet." Surely, I thought, Tina would be in favor of the human rights and freedom of the "Tibetan" people.

She wasn't. In equal proportion to her passion for the student uprising in "China," Tina had nothing but disdain for the people of "Tibet." In mind-boggling fashion she declared that "Tibet" had always "belonged" to "China," and that the Dalai Lama was an imposter, an agitator, a troublemaker. She also talked about how backward the "Tibetan" people were, and that they engaged in barbaric rituals and practices.

I couldn't believe my ears. What stands out in my memory is the certainty with which she spoke. It was the same certainty one hears from religious fanatics and zealots of every kind. The knowing that is not a knowing, but a presumption of knowing. For a brief history of "Tibet," click here. Read here and here to see what is happening in "Tibet" now.

This was a great lesson. It was a lesson in the power of propaganda. The masses of people in any "country" can be made to believe in anything. All it takes are the time-honored methods of persuasion honed to perfection by governments throughout history. Totalitarian governments like that in "China" are the most obvious perpetrators, but, as Noam Chomsky has shown us, propaganda is actually more powerful and successful in "democratic" societies.

Such as the "United States." The Bush criminal regime had an easy time convincing "Americans" that invading "Iraq" was an urgent necessity. Bush was able to garner the support of 90% of the population for his invasion and occupation.

Now the "war" and occupation are not so popular, but the Bush regime still has a few tricks up its sleeve. It may seem that it would be much harder for the Bush gang to make a case for attacking "Iran," but a quick look at the propaganda methods linked to above will reveal the ease at which the public can be manipulated.

Stopping this madness is made more difficult by the toothless opposition to the Bush criminal gang. A good example is the protest of the "Iraq" debacle that was held in Madison yesterrday. As the TV narrative describes, dozens showed up. I recognized a few faces. What I found most pathetic about the demonstration was how clichéd it was. Peace symbols, scrawled signs, lifelessness, and a "leader" with a bullhorn. The leader in this case wore a motorcycle jacket and a old West-type felt hat that reeked of the 60s. He was right out of central casting.

We're stuck, it would seem, powerless to stop this impending madness. I'm not so pessimistic, though. There are two things that will stop the Bush regime from its attack: (1) Opposition from the ruling class, and (2) Subversion from within the ranks of the power structure.

Though the mainstream news media seem poised as always to provide propaganda cover for whatever perfidy is implemented by the powers that be, the folly of attacking "Iran" might have seeped into their collective consciousness. There's not much more that can be said about this. Hope is about all we can do. Shaming them doesn't seem to work. They have no shame.

In what amounts to an irony of epic proportions, that leaves the task up to the power apparatus. The "CIA," having been burned on "911" and "Iraq," might not be so keen to throw propaganda support to the Bush criminal regime this time. The same goes for the military high command, made to to look like fools time and again as the "Iraq" and "Afghanistan" debacles continue to deteriorate. Even the hapless Congress might find its moral center, and stop the Bush crime syndicate in its tracks.

It's anyone's guess as to how things will turn out. With the economy tanking, the climate becoming ever more threatening, and the social fabric of the country deterioriating, the last thing we need is another war. Unfortunately, war is what the Bush regime needs to deflect mounting evidence of its criminality.

In spite of all this, I'm ever the optimist. I prefer to follow the example of the Dalai Lama. If he can see a shining light of possibility in the future of his native land and people, then I should be able to do the same for mine. I am thankful for the example.

Just in case we fail, here's an example of the kind of optimism we may have to start getting used do.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


The need to comment on everything that goes on in the world is not something I necessarily feel, especially the world of politics, but the Elliott Spitzer scandal deserves some attention.

I didn't think I had anything to offer that would add to anyone's understanding of Spitzer's downfall, but after reading a post in Smirking Chimp that suggested a "right wing" plot to "get" Spitzer, I added a comment:

How handy

When I first saw on the news that Elliott Spitzer has been involved in paying for - I don't like to say sex; especially with a "call girl," it's more intimate -companionship, I was dismayed. He has been one of the few shining lights in "American" politics.

After thinking it over, I concluded that it's part of being human, that the level on which he operates is on the edge of life, and that spending time with a prostitute is high-risk behavior that goes with being an A-type personality. We're really animals, and monogamy is a bit too high a demand.

Then I looked at Huffington Post, and at the newspaper pictures of him with his wife by his side. The look on her face told it all. She probably found out only hours earlier. I doubt seriously that it was her idea to appear with him before the cameras.

She looked like a completely controlled woman, dominated by her powerful husband. I suspect that as this story plays out that we may be finding out more unpleasant things about New York's crusading governor.

As far as legislation being threatened, a little patience is required. "Republicans" are criminals almost to a man and woman. The tide is rolling on real criminality, which with the "Republicans" is far more serious than being friendly with women who let you pay them for being friendly. No one died. No one was maimed. No one lost their homes. No one lost their jobs. No one was invaded. No one was kidnapped. No one was waterboarded. No one was held incommunicado for years. No one was spied upon. Woops. Why, it turns out that Elliott Spitzer was spied upon. How handy. The "homeland" is secure. Or is it the fatherland?

Submitted by JAH on March 11, 2008 - 3:09pm.

Last night I read that the woman Spitzer spent time with has been identified. In all the hoopla about Elliott Spitzer, there hasn't been any concern about her. She's just a "hooker," in the parlance of "hip" smugocracy, which includes most "Americans."

Actually, she is a human being, and as the article mentioned, had trouble paying her rent. She's far from alone in this predicament. Many thousands of "Iraqis" who have fled their home country have chosen "prostitution" over starvation. Indeed, throughout human history, "prostitution" has been the only way for countless women to avoid starvation and homelessness. In countries like "Thailand," "Brazil," the "Philippines," and, well, everywhere on this planet, millions of women earn their daily keep in "prostitution." Millions of men do too, for that matter, as the Larry Craig silliness attests.

On yesterday's Democracy Now, the plight of "sex workers" was covered in an interview with Juhu Thukral, Director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center. It at least gave some recognition to the plight of people who engage in sexual activity for money, but I found the treatment lacking.

"Sex worker!" It sounds like a trade, like ironworker, plumber, or laborer. I prefer a more professional title, like carnal associate, or erotic specialist. How about orgasmic provider?

Engaging in sexual activity for money may not be a girl's childhood dream, but in the grand scheme of things, it is not such a shameful thing, relative to other things one could do with one's life. I wrote about this in a previous post, Army stories, thusly:

"K-town," as it was called, was a pit. Because there were so many GIs, the economy of the town was built around entertainment for the soldiers: drinking, prostitution, drinking, and prostitution. Prostitution is legal in Germany, and the practitioners could be seen at several roadside areas in town (It is worth mentioning that prostitution is also legal in the "USA," particularly in the fields of business, government, and journalism). Antiwar GIs found each other out with relative ease, and we managed to find alternative forms of entertainment, consistent with the cultural ferment of the times.

On another note, Wall Street is supposedly having a big laugh and sigh of relief because of Spitzer's downfall. This is because he made his reputation on prosecutions of Wall Street criminals, many of whom no doubt enjoyed the same type of "prostitution" services as did Sptizer. If there is such cheering on Wall Street, that can only mean that they are either criminals or enablers of criminals. If investors, brokers, bankers, speculators, embezzlers, hucksters, and fraudsters on Wall Street feel more free to engage in bilking the public, then the country is weaker because of the downfall of Elliott Spitzer.

That is not to say that he is faultless. His treatment of his wife and family has been callous at best, but is a private matter. In the age of the Bush criminal regime, in which the entire Federal government is under the control or heavy influence of an organized crime gang, the dalliances of New York's former governor are almost meaningless. We can force a governor from office, but we can't do the least little thing to remove a criminal sociopath from the nation's highest office. Meanwhile, he is planning to attack and/or invade "Iran," possibly with nuclear weapons.

Then of course there is the myriad of other crimes by this "administration." Enron (yes, the BCF (Bush crime family) played a hand there), September 11, 2001, the invasions of "Afghanistan" and "Iraq," Hurricane Katrina, the purge and criminalization of the Department of Jusice, the crony Supreme Court appointments, the theft of two presidential elections, Blackwater, Halliburton, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, Fox News (yes, Fox News. They wouldn't be doing the propaganda they do without help.), the FCC, and on and on and on.

Enough said. We live in silly times. Let's hope we get out of this era with our species intact, to say nothing of the thousands of others who are threatened by the rampant criminality of those in power.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Paradigm shift

I watched Bill Moyers Journal tonight, where he covered the growing influence of John Hagee, a "Christian" fanatic who is promoting military action against "Iran," the "Rapture," condemnation of the "Catholic" Church, and the presidential candidacy of John McCain.

There was a lot of talk on the show about McCain and his relationship with Hagee, the influence of Christian fundamentalism on politics, and about how various "conservatives" curry favor with religious fanatics.

The power behind the throneI tuned out on most of this talk. What interested me were the scenes of the followers of Hagee. They were waving "U.S." and "Israeli" flags, singing hymns, and generally looking vacant and blissfully identified with the ultimate truth of Hagee's message. My impression was that these were people who are desperately in need of self-esteem, of a feeling of importance, that their lives were significant. They looked like the kind of people who were ignored, demeaned, and dominated by others.

Hagee's message is false, of course. Fanatical leaders like him are interesting to me only in how they are able to manipulate the gullible and use various methods of deception to enrich themselves and gain influence.Casting the approving eye on Tom DeLay Somehow, in this fragmented, conformist mass society, the vulnerabilities and prejudices of great numbers of people are easily played upon by the clever, convincing them of silly, paranoid, and dangerous ideas that can result in great harm to themselves and to society.

It isn't just "Christian" fundamentalists who are fundamentalists, though. There is another form of fundamentalism that is as entrenched as the psychotic proliferation of low-level "Jesus" fanaticism. It is largely independent of deistic religion, but is not necessarily "atheist." What I call this fundamentalism is the religion of the "left" to "right" paradigm or model of reality.

Strange bedfellowsA few days ago I read a post on Smirking Chimp, and the author's rant against the "right wing" ruined what I felt was an otherwise pertinent and well-written essay. I had an immediate response, and then another, to a comment on my remarks. They are reprinted below:

A question no one wants to answer

For about the couple of hundredth time in Smirking Chimp, I raise a simple question: Is there such a thing as "left" and "right?" Is there in physical reality a horizontal linear spectrum of people, and a corresponding horizontal linear spectrum of ideas, attitudes, beliefs, superstitions, and mythology that can be measured by gradations along its scale? Is there a symmetry to this spectrum, whereby principles, theory, policy positions, and even theology can be shown to be on one "side" or another on this imagined scale?

Kissing cousinsThe simple answer is no. Even the terms "left wing" and "right wing" beg the question of what these wings are wings of. A great bird? Maybe it's the "American" eagle. Or the wings of a snow white dove, where "he" sends "his" pure sweet love? A sign from above.

Bush kissing male prostitute and fake journalist Jeff GannonThe ideological "spectrum" does not exist, except in the minds of the ideologically addicted. Because of this addiction, we are pressured into conforming to one wing or another of this make-believe spectrum. Meanwhile, the "Republicans" and corporations are laughing all the way to the bank.

Is it love or infatuation? Or maybe something else. Bush is closer to his Saudi friends than he is to the American people.
How about a different spectrum? How about one where criminal corporate and political behavior is looked at for what it is: criminal sociopathy. In a vertical model, there is such a thing as lower and higher realms of behavior and existence. Simple material gain and power, like in Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, would be seen as fulfillment of lower needs, which he called deficiency needs. They are needs to be transcended if a person and a society are to reach levels of meaning and happiness that can approach self-actualization and even enlightenment.

The lie that started the invasionIn the "left" to "right" model, there is no sense of value, or of rising above lower levels of existence - just a swinging pendulum. Woops. Another model. On the mere "left" to "right" duality, the struggle goes on forever, because you can't have a "left" without a "right" to be "left" of, or a "left" to be "right" of.

All there is in the "left" to "right" model is condemnation of "those guys over there." It doesn't go anywhere. As in my favorite movie, Life of Brian, all that is accomplished is endless nitpicking, bickering, and posturing. And again, the rich, the criminal, the corporate laugh all the way to the bank, when they should be crying all the way to life in prison without parole at hard labor. The torture teamThis country is run by organized crime. Because its minions aren't necessarily of Sicilian or Italian descent and don't wear black pinstripe suits with black shirts and white ties, "intellectuals," for reasons of their own placement on the needs hierarchy, refuse to look at this organized criminal operation as anything other than what it actually is. Instead, they insist on the completely impotent paradigm of the "left" to "right" spectrum.

Part of this insistence is romantic - a remnant of revolutionary glories of past eras - the "Cuban" revolution, 1917 in Russia, The French revolution, why, even the "American" revolution. Patriots, comrades, compañeros, brothers and sisters, power to the people, and so on.

Part of it is conformity. You can immediately become part of a group by identifying with one or another "wing" of the mythical spectrum.

Part of it is laziness. You can do trite, simplistic "analysis" of the other guys, debunking their supposed "ideology," and gain some level of position in one or the other imaginary "wing" of the make-believe spectrum.

I think when Barack Obama finally becomes president, he will likely be the guiding force and inspiration for disabusing the planet of the completely useless model of reality so affectionately known as "the spectrum."

Bush with friend Jack AbramoffThen maybe we can call Bush, his cronies, their propagandists and hangers-on what they actually are: criminals. Once we start calling these people exactly what they are, maybe we can even take the next necessary step: put them all in jail for the rest of their lives.

Submitted by JAH on March 4, 2008 - 7:48pm.

Going from where we are

Well, at least someone else is not hooked on the fake paradigm of "right" and "left." The name-calling doesn't help. Referring to the Bush criminal regime as criminal is not name-calling. It is factual.

As far as having faith in Obama, he's a start. You go with what you have. I'm pretty much a phenomenologist as far as that goes. Obama is a phenomenon. He may not be up to the myth, but JFK wasn't either, and his myth got us the Peace Corps, the momentum for civil rights, Medicare, flying to the moon, and inspiration around the world. Of course, it was organized crime that got him elected, but that's another story.

The Beatles are another example. They were a phenomenon who came on the scene and changed Western culture. Among other things, they brought Indian classical music to the West, helping to inspire the World Music movement.

As I wrote in my blog a while back, Obama will be a follower as well as a leader. We either solve the problems caused by climate change and reverse the damage, or we go extinct as a species. There is no "right" or "left" to this.

The coalition of the killing having a laughThere is no criminal or law abiding to it either, for that matter, but it is the criminals who are killing the planet. They also will be extinct along with the rest of us. They just can't change because they are criminals. If you have ever known a criminal, you would observe that they are like children, immature, looking at a near-term gratification, completely inconsiderate of others except their cronies, and not so considerate of them either.

So it's not a matter of any approach to decriminalizing our society being absolutely good and another absolutely worthless. The world is not binary. If we're lucky, we make some kind of difference, and eventually something monumental happens. This civilization ruled by organized crime can't go on indefinitely.

Tougher than toughAnother way of looking at paradigm change is this: does your model of reality communicate with the general public? Does it speak to the "American" public? Or does it speak to a self-selecting intellectual elite, not necessarily an elite of intellects, just a mutually reinforcing (and putting-down) cohort of snobs, literally. I've known many of them. The one thing above all that they have in common is their arrogance. I guess the other thing is an audience of peers. Gads! Sometimes it seems as though we're completely sunk, but I think the energy on the planet is shifting.

Let's pay attention. It looks as if Ohio was stolen for Hillary (surprise), but I think Obama is unstoppable. He's the man, and we have to make him be the man he has aspired to be. That gives us something to do. Let's hope they don't shoot him, which I'm sure has crossed their minds.

Submitted by JAH on March 4, 2008 - 11:13pm.

Here are a couple of articles about the intersect of criminality with political power. One and two. For the unaware, the reason lenders like Countrywide Financial Corp were able to engage in fraudulent loan practices in the first place is because of their connections to politicians through lobbyists making campaign donations, writing legislation for them, and infiltration of Federal and state regulating agencies, being appointed to high government positions by such criminal luminaries as George W. Bush. And, or course, through criminal influence on judicial appointments.

Now the "U.S." Justice Department is "investigating" the crimes of these lenders, but it will only go so far. If perchance we somehow regain democratic (not the same thing as "Democratic") control of the various legislative bodies, the executive branch of the Federal government, the judiciary, and the mass communications media, these lenders and their enablers can be included in the numbers of the members of the Bush criminal organization when the prison gates open for them (and then shut, for good).
And on a couple of other subjects:
Salon letters

The beat goes on
[Read the article: Obama should be proud to be named Hussein]
[Read more letters about this article: Here]

Program for the Madison concert appearance of Hariprasad Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain, March 20, 1986And let's not forget the great tabla player Zakir Hussain, best known for his collaborations with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. He also was part of Shakti, the great fusion band from the '70s. I saw him perform once with "Indian" flutist Hari Prasad Chaurasia in 1986. One wouldn't think that flute and tablas would go together, but it was the most mesmerizing concert I have ever been to. If you weren't spiritually inclined before this experience, you would be forever afterward.

Zakir Hussain was born and raised in India, the son of the great tabla player Ustad Alla Rakha, who was the longtime accompanist to Ravi Shankar. For a brief introduction to his playing you can do a search on YouTube.

It is worth mentioning that in "Indian" classical music, "Hindus" and "Muslims" play together blissfully and with great talent and skill, and before audiences worldwide.

I suspect some good will come of this. Maybe, as part of the war crimes trials that await the Bush criminal regime, the history of the relationship between Saddam Hussain (Hussein) and the CIA, Donald Rumsfeld, various "Republican" regimes, and "defense" contractors will be revealed. If Hussain is such a bad name, why was it so good for so many of our political and corporate elites for so long?

Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:46 AM


[Read HappyJack's other letters]

Smirking Chimp

I'm so glad

It would be great if Eric Clapton goes to "North Korea." I have found him to be a bit of a disappointment ever since Fresh Cream, one of the greatest albums of all time. Since then his work can best be described as "technical blues" or "recitation of the blues" (quoting myself). All technique, no heart.

Now he can far surpass grandstanders "Bono" and Geldof, doing something that can be a start to genuine change in the region. The "North Korean" regime can last indefinitely while it is isolated, but how do you keep 'em down on the farm, once they have seen Eríc?

Another way of looking at it is in terms of "Chaos theory," in which any phenomenon can have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences. It's worth the chance that the effects will be strong and positive. It may be culture shock for the "North Koreans," but Clapton and company will likely have the attitude, in the immortal words of that great sage Mick Jagger, "If you want some blues, I'll play some blues. Otherwise, get the hell out of here!" (Stadthalle, Frankfurt, Germany, June, 1971)

It will be great looking at the concert on YouTube. "North Koreans" doing a little "Rollin' and tumblin'." Priceless. I hope it lasts from four until late.

Submitted by JAH on February 27, 2008 - 5:22pm.

A couple of songs by Iris Dement make good accompaniment to this post: Wasteland of the free and On the wings of a dove. Here's the original Ferlin Husky version.

Just for a little fire, here's Neil Young and Pearl Jam.

A little Cream never hurt anyone.

And let's not forget The Who.

Ah, what the heck. How about a little Traveling Wilburys?