.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.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good riddance

George W. Bush gave his going away speech tonight (Watch it here). I call it the good riddance speech. He looked pretty hollow, just like Cheney did yesterday in his "legacy tour" interview on the News Hour. In both cases the arrogance, the self-congratulations, and the absence of responsibility were the same, but the mojo was gone. Thankfully.

Good riddanceThey leave in defeat, criminals who nearly wrecked the country. It's hard to imagine a worse legacy: the attacks of September 11, 2001, the "Iraq" war, kidnapping, torture, murder, Guantánamo, domestic spying, two stolen elections, the corruption of the Department of Justice, trashing the Constitution (calling it quaint), exposing an intelligence officer, Hurricane Katrina, Enron, and the collapse of the economy. Could they have done a worse job? If the checks and balances that they tried to squash had not stopped them, yes. What they attempted was to establish a dictatorship. All that remains for this terrible president are the crony pardons he will likely grant in the next few days.

Palestinian policemen killed in Israeli attackMeanwhile, "Israel" is on a wilding. They have now descended to bombing the U.N. relief agency in "Gaza," destroying millions of dollars worth of relief food and hospital supplies. If left to its own devices, I suspect "Israel" will not stop killing until it has "evened the score" of World War II.

Life goes on. The safe landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River is a fitting symbol for the transition we are entering. We may be crash landing as a society, but we have a new pilot at the helm, and he actually knows how to fly the plane, so to speak. One could get carried away with the metaphors, but suffice it to say that our departing "Commander in Chief" actually was a pilot, and deserted.

I wrote a few things for other sites that are pertinent to the events of the day. First, in Salon, about Obama, foreign policy, and the "Mideast."

Balancing act

As a matter of explanation, not apology, this kind of scenario will be the rule, not the exception, in Obama's presidency. Though by some estimates he may have won by 20 million more votes due to fraud, Obama suffers from two vulnerabilities. The first and most obvious is that he is a perceived "black" man in a "white" dominated ruling elite. Given the history of oppression to the point of lynching, our new president will have the specter of assassination always lurking in the background. (Update: Read here about how some "Republicans" consider Obama the Antichrist, among other things.)

Obama's second difficulty is that he didn't serve in the armed forces. It shouldn't matter. The being that he is replacing is a deserter. Unfortunately, it does matter. He can easily be bullied and manipulated by his National Security Advisor (a former Marine general) and by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Because of the war momentum created by the military industrial complex, enemies have to be found in order to justify the bloated Pentagon budget. It could be East Asia today, and Eurasia tomorrow. One would think that the "war on terror" would cause some propaganda problems, since there is no clear nation to attack. Such is not the case, though, as we have seen with "Iraq." Threats can easily be conjured up by proclaiming one nation after another as either an "immanent threat," a "terrorist" state, or a supporter of "terrorism."

We may end up waging war of one kind or another against "Iran." From the perspective of our foreign policy establishment, it's like gambling in Vegas: Can the "U.S." wage endless war against "terrorism" in the face of an impending collapse of our economic system? From the foreign policy standpoint, the economy is exogenous - outside their system, outside their realm of consideration.

What matters to our foreign policy establishment was revealed on a Meet the Press segment eight days ago (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28493781/page/6/): David Sanger - "They (The "Iranians") could declare at any point in the first year or two of Barack Obama's presidency, 'Hey, we can make a bomb.' And at that point you have changed the balance of power."

Thus was revealed "our" entire "Mideast" policy - towards "Israel," towards the "Palestinians," towards "Iran," and towards everyone else in the region. All that matters is the "balance of power." "We" will wage any war, drop any bomb, overthrow any government, and sponsor any occupation, as long as the "balance of power" is preserved. And what is that "balance of power?" Why, balanced in "our" favor, of course.

On my Obama blog, I offered my proposal for Guantánamo Bay:

A solution for Guantánamo Bay
By Southsidejohnny - Jan 14th, 2009 at 12:27 pm EST

Also listed in: President Obama, Please Get FISA Right

I have a near-perfect solution to the Guantánamo Bay problem. We give the property back to Cuba in exchange for its acceptance of the displaced prisoners. The "lease" we have for Guantánamo is illegal anyway, signed under duress in 1903 as part of the spoils of the "Spanish-American War." To sweeten the deal, the Obama Administration could return the "Cuban Five," the imprisoned Cuban agents who were spying on Miami terrorist groups.

Even if the lease were valid, the kidnapping, torture, incommunicado, and indefinite detention would be considered lease violations in any legitimate court worldwide. The Bush criminal regime has brought shame to the name Guantánamo, and this shame can only be healed by returning the property to its rightful owners, the Cuban people.

As a way of compensating Cuba for accepting the prisoners, the trade embargo could be terminated. It is a cruel and criminal imposition on the country, and it should have been ended long ago. Missiles of the no-longer-existing Soviet Union have been absent from Cuba since 1962. An added bonus to ending the embargo would be the economic benefits. The U.S. economy needs all the help it can get, and the resulting investment in Cuba would be a guaranteed way of giving it a needed boost.

By trading with and investing in Cuba, U.S. business interests will reap comparative advantage as well as absolute advantage benefits. As a result, the government of Cuba is likely to change from a defensive posture to one of cooperation and democratic reform. The resulting higher standard of living in Cuba will do much to heal the severely damaged prestige of the U.S. in the region, and across the globe.

As good fortune would have it, we will have a new president in less than a week. Unlike the current occupant of the office, who is a world criminal, our new president advocates creative, diplomatic solutions to international problems. He can start by resolving several problems at once, returning Guantánamo Bay to its rightful sovereign government, the Republic of Cuba.

For a celebration song to sing when the base is deimperialized, click here. For the lyrics, click here. A history of the song can be seen here. This is another great version. Here's yet another.

Here's one in Huffington Post:

Obama Stimulus Plan: Economic Team Makes The Case

Stimulus may not be the proper term for what the economy needs. Restructuring would be a better word, in spite of its "downsizing" connotation. We of course need to restructure our bridges and highways, our auto industry, and our credit system. But if goes far beyond that. We need ot restructure how we do things, and out entire approach to being on this planet. As of now, our collective economic ethic is to have more: more money, more stuff, more power, more prestige, and more people to have more with. In this context, Bernie Madoff is no criminal at all. He just helped himself to all the money he could get. As long as we think that is our purpose in life, then all the stimulus in creation will ultimately just create more Bernie Madoffs. Given that the Polar ice caps are melting, a "stimulus" that stimulates more of the same will insure our extinction. A truly restructured economy could provide full employment with less, and create at least the possibility of a future.

posted Jan 11, 2009 at 17:24:04

Worst president everHere's one on NPR's Fresh Air:

John Hamilton (HappyJack) wrote:

One of the indications of the failure of the Bush criminal regime is that this program even aired. It is because people weren't cowed by the regime's belligerance that this failure took place. Mr. Sands is walking a very careful line, but average citizens don't have that limitation. I believe the torture system was (is) part of an overall plan to terrorize people worldwide. Lest we forget, a U.S. citizen, José Padilla, was held incommunicado under conditions of torture (including sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, forced stress positions, and doses of a variety of hallucinogenic drugs, likely including LSD and PCP) for five years before his trial began. The intention was to set the system in motion.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009 9:13:43 PM

Recommend (4)

One last tidbit in Salon:

Deservedly so

It's too easy to criticize the various advocates of the "centrist" tendencies of politicians and their media co-dependents. It's not enough to condemn them without any understanding of the nature of the system.

Before a politician has won his or her first election, being in office is an abstraction. He or she imagines doing great things for the people and the planet. Once in office, the prospect of staying in office rapidly intrudes on the idealism. If this is the nature of the system, then reforming the man is not the place to start.

Politicians and their media co-dependents all live within an intellectual model of reality - a representation, a paradigm, a mental construction - that frames how they think, believe, and behave. Since the French Assembly of the late 18th Century, the political class in the "West," particularly the "U.S.," has been bound by the model of the imaginary horizontal spectrum that spans the imagined "left" to the imagined "right."

This spectrum does not actually exist in reality, but political actors talk about it as if it does. It is an addiction, in the sense that to think and talk without "the spectrum" would actually scare them, especially "journalists." They would have to write meaningfully, and this could cause instant job loss.

A better model would be roughly based on the "Hierarchy of needs" model of psychologist Abraham Maslow. In such a model, the low-level criminality of the Bush regime would be properly seen for what it is: sociopathy. Not "right-wing," but criminal rapaciousness. If human existence could be seen as a developmental process rather than a polarization, then we might be able to actually change the way we tread on this planet. If we stay the same, repeatedly swinging from the "center" to the "right" of a stupid model of reality, we solve nothing, and will be extinct rather soon, and deservedly so.

That's enough for anyone to ponder for a while. Next week we have a new president. Let the healing begin.

This instructional video is a repeat from a previous post. You can practice with this video. By Tuesday, you should have it down. Enjoy the celebration!!

Here's a song to celebrate with. This too.

This song has numerous versions, but Sam Cooke started it all.

If you need a little inspiration to get into the mood for Tuesday, click here.

A photo retrospective of the Bush presidency can be seen here. If you click on any of the pictures, a larger and sometimes more revealing version appears.

For an alternate view of our outgoing president, click here.

Here's a song that's getting a revival.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


The Mediterranean Sea and surrounding countriesNew Year's has to be the emptiest holiday of the year. It is the weak sister (or brother, etc.) to Christmas, and for millions of "Americans," it means recovering from the previous night's festivities. My father hated New Year's. A surgeon, he would get called almost every New Year's morning at about 2:00 a.m. to put someone's body back together. One New Year's morning he was in surgery for about eight hours, picking windshield glass out of a formerly beautiful girl's face, while the town's oral surgeon sewed her tongue back on.

For decades I have practiced my own little ritual of going to sleep in one year, and waking up in the next. It's not much of a ritual, but it beats having glass picked out of my face.

The "Catholic" church has its own observance of New Year's, the Solemnity of Mary. It used to be called the "Circumcision," but that apparently lost its sex appeal, or something. I haven't been around "Catholicism" much since my graduation from a "Catholic" college, so I wasn't aware that the change had been made. The holiday was never explained to us when we were kids, and, obedient "Catholics," we didn't question it. It was enough just to be on vacation from school.

This new year is a little stranger than any I can remember. We have a new president, replacing the most criminal to occupy the office in the nation's history. President-elect Barack Obama holds great promise as an agent of change, with the daunting task of reviving our economy, our place in the world, and our sense of who we are.

There's a beauty to the challenges Obama faces. The momentum of our policies and practices is for the vulgar: favor the rich, the corporations, the destruction of the planet, and state terrorism internationally. As a perceived "black" man, Obama faces the additional burden of "white" "racism." No one is actually black or white, and race does not exist, except in the minds the racially oriented, but the danger of racially motivated violence will circle over Obama's presidency like a vulture.

These pressures make it unlikely that Obama will make any significant changes, but the beauty of his predicament is that he has a freedom to act that is unprecendented. The old momentum is breaking down. It doesn't work anymore. The easy invasion of "Iraq" turned out to be a disaster. The "free market" policies of the "Republicans" wrecked the economy. The enabling of environmnetal destruction has enabled the destruction of the environment (duh).

There is no better test case of Obama's opportunity to make changes than in "Mideast" policy. The "Mideast" is a term invented by the "British" around 1900. I wonder if the Brito-centric terminology might have something to do with the troubles in the region. Whatever the case, the seeming stalemate in relationships can't go on forever, and now is the most opportune time for a change.

Obama has said he believes in the sanctity of the "Jewish" state. It is an easy thing to say when running for office. Millions of "Americans" also identify themselves as "Jews," and they vote. Largely due to the atrocities of World War II, the nation of "Israel" was created, more as a refuge than a country. In an ideal world the country would have been carved out of land not being used by anyone else. In the actual world, the nation of "Israel" was founded on land that had been settled by "Arabs," who are now known as "Palestinians."

The prevailing view among "leftists," "rightists," and "centrists" is for a two-state solution, wherein a peaceful "Israel" will exist in side-by-side harmony with "Palestine." For these people I am tempted to start my own Bernie Madoff style Ponzi scheme, offering stock in the Brooklyn Bridge.

I wrote about the predicament of "Israel" and "Palestine" in 2006 and again in 2007. Both posts could be written today with the same pertinence, and the same departure from conventional wisdom. The difference now is that conventional wisdom is no longer seen as wisdom, and it is long past time for real wisdom to emerge.

So, how about a little heresy? How about a real solution for the "Mideast." The core conflict in the region, between "Israel" and the "Palestinians," can only be resolved by establishing one-state. It would be free of official religion, like the "United States," and free of official ethnic dominance. It could be called "Semitestine," since both ethnicities are "Semitic," but a more acceptable name might be something like "Utopia" or "The Promised Land." "Christians" refer to the region as the "Holy Land," so maybe that name will work. An ancient name like "Phoenicia" might work. My preference is "Mediterrania," since the land is bordered by the "Mediterranean" sea. Some might prefer the spelling "Mediterranea."

Again, whether he likes it or not, Barack Obama has taken on the responsibility of changing the world for the better in a significant way. Unlike his predecessor, he doesn't have the option of fakery. On all fronts - the economy, domestic harmony, the ecosystem, international relations - only real solutions will do. He has little time to waste. Our task, should we accept it, is to guide him towards those real solutions.

I've been indulging in a bit more heresy over the past few weeks. Here are a few samples:

Freedom's just another word...

There's a bit of a semantic problem with the Freedom from Religion Foundation. If they don't want prayer at a government function, then they should start an organization called the Freedom from Spirituality Foundation. Prayer is not religion, unless it is practiced as part of a specific organization. If a preacher makes an exhortation to people to join his faith or else be damned into "Hell" for eternity, then that would be a violation of the separation of church and state.

It's tricky business, being an atheist. You first have to create a "God" to disbelieve. Handily, "God" has already been conjured up by the various religions, who also provide a theism to be "a" of. It's too easy, and atheists think they are really brave and smart, when they actually have fallen into a trap of being against or disbelieving of the existence of a being that others have made for them.

If one were to take the view that "God" is beyond our limited three dimensional understanding, then we all would be a lot more humble in our believing and disbelieving. We also would be more oriented towards direct experience, which can be gained through various spiritual practices like meditation, prayer, divine love, and selfless service.

Meanwhile, the arguments go on. It will be nice to watch the inauguration. The exit of the Bush criminal regime will be cause for great joy. And a prayer of thanks. We will be aBush, and not a moment too soon. Wink

Welfare reform

At least David Gregory looks the part. He probably won't be in the job for very long. He looks like the weasel that he is, and the show will probably "lose audience."

Something different going on that this situation brings into focus. The past eight years were a distinctly negative time, with the appropriate prominence of a gang of sociopaths. Because of this, and the great promise offered by the candidacy and election of Barack Obama, hopes and expectations have been raised. We voted for and presume that we will have clean, honest, and decent government. If Obama turns out to be just another toad posing as a statesman, then the rest of his life will be one of sorrow and shame.

There has been a shift in consciousness. It will take some time for the transition, but the old, criminal ways of doing things will have to change. One of the ways the change is likely to manifest is in television, where the emphasis on crap is at such a fever pitch. The choices now tend to be grisly cop shows or trashy comedies. Fittingly, the networks are losing money on these shows, and might actually have to come up with real dramas and comedies, such as was done in the 50s and 60s.

Because Obama talks a good game, and actually seems to mean it, people believe he will bring a higher level of effort to his tenure as president. One of the ways he can start is to cancel all foreign aid to "Israel." Let them pay for their crimes with their own money.

About "Blackness"

This article is certainly a lot of words about not much. None of us are "black" or "white." The color black is the color that does not emit or reflect light. White is the opposite, the color tone that reflects the entire color spectrum. "Caucasian" skin does not have this characteristic, and "African" skin does not have the characteristics of black.

The notion that anyone is a member of a "race" is true racism, and perpetuates the whole gamut of prejudice. Race actually does not exist, except in the minds of those who through ignorance or need to feel superior to others (perpetuate the delusion). "African-Americans" had the notion of race foisted upon them by slavery, and after generations of tribal mixture, they lost their identities with their root ethnicities.

For some further reading about the existence of race, check this out. To continue with corrupted notions of "black" and "white" will only keep us stuck in a rut of artificial difference. We can have "Irish" "Americans," "Italian" "Americans," and "Chinese" "Americans," but we can't have a "Kenyan" "American."

Obama is identified with a "race" and color that don't exist in human experience. He further is identified with an ethnicity for which he has no historical connection. The slaves in the "U.S." came from the areas of "West Africa" that are now the countries of "Angola," "Ivory Coast," "Sierra Leone," and others. "Kenya" is in "East Africa."

posted Dec 16, 2008 at 18:33:22

What's the word? The Bible on Gay Marriage

John Hamilton (HappyJack) wrote:

The argument about "Biblical" authority for banning "gay" marriage is silly at best. For one thing, it rests on the assumption of the existence of "The" Bible, when there have been many versions over the centuries. Another assumption is that "The" Bible is "scripture," divinely inspired stories, sermons, prescriptions for a good life, and predictions of the future.

There is a further assumption that "Christian" beliefs have the authority of law of the land. I was raised as a "Catholic," a denomination that would like to resume its former place as inheritors of the Roman Empire. If you left the Church, you supposedly gave up any notions of going to "Heaven." I spent eight years as a follower of an Indian guru. Curiously, we were told that if we left, we would give up all ideas of "enlightenment." It's the same the whole world over.

I'm not pro "gay" or anti "gay," but if two people want to commit to each other in a loving relationship, they could do a lot worse. For example, is it worse than ignoring warnings of an immanent attack, lying a country into war, kidnapping, torturing, killing, spying on everyday citizens, and turning the Justice Department into a gang of political hacks? Then, of course, there's Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, December 15, 2008 4:00:07 PM

Recommended (5)

Obama Ditches Press Pool To Take Daughters To Aquatic Park

The series of stories emanating from Hawaii are sheer fun in the way they show how the MSM (Mainstream media) just make things up out of thin air. They refer to the Kaneohe Marine base as part of the town of Kailua. Kaneohe is a town in itself, a few miles west of Kailua. The fashionable smug thing at NBC (starting with Tom Brokaw) is to pronounce Hawaii as "Hawai." #%%holes.

This article refers to "Sea Life Park" as an "amusement park." It actually is a marine research facility, and has some lectures and animal shows for the public, but is hardly an "amusement park," ala Disney World or Six Flags. I read another report today (AP) that said "Obama, wife Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha are staying in a $9 million, five-bedroom oceanfront house near downtown Honolulu." Kailua, where Obama is staying, is on the other side of the island from Honolulu, separated by a small mountain (Pali) range. Liars.

It takes a minimum of care for the truth to get these facts straight, but our corporate media couldn't care less. It didn't matter a bit that someone as low as Bush lied us into war, looked the other way when warned about imminent attack, corrupted our system of justice, kidnapped, tortured, killed, and stole two elections. They partied with him, laughing at his stupid slide show about searching for WMD. They have no souls, and will be remembered as symbolic of this age of mediocrity.

posted Dec 27, 2008 at 22:16:29

And, of course, I had to get in a few words about Rod Blagojevich:

Light the torches!

It might be worthwhile at this point to put the Blagojevich situation in a bit of perspective. For one thing, the trading of appointments for money or favors in politics is pretty commonplace. What is different this time is the blatancy and stupidity, hardly reasons for tar and feathering. Unlike in the case of his predecessor, no one has died as a result of Blagojevich's crimes.

Indeed, compared to our soon-to-be former president, Blagojevich is downright statesmanlike. He hasn't invaded anyone, hasn't kidnapped anyone, hasn't tortured anyone, hasn't looked the other way when warned of immanent attacks, hasn't turned the Justice Department into a club for political hacks, and hasn't enabled the collapse of our economic system. But wait, Blagojevich's wife uses foul language! The shame! The outrage! Light the torches!

For a look at Bush's WMD slide show, click here. There are links to other videos along the side column with more slides, but they tend to add their own crap to the videos - goofy music, cartoons, pictures.

Here's some appropriate music. Here's another.

This song by Steve Earle offers some hope.

Here's some background reading on Obama's approach to the "Mideast."

Here's a site for info on the "Mideast."