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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 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

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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.


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