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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, July 27, 2010

Connecting the dots

It has been said over and over and over again that the reason the "911" conspirators were successful was that the intelligence services failed to "connect the dots." They were unable to interpret raw data, and could not see a connection between and among the simplest of circumstances. Like several "Arab" men learning how to fly big jet airplanes, but not bothering to learn how to land them.

Former FBI counterterrorism expert John O'Neill, who died in the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001Money sent to the conspirators from "Al Qaeda" sources was not cause for alarm. No connection was made to "chatter" on international phone calls that indicated the attacks were being planned. Evidence of meetings and trainings that were attended by the plotters did not generate any alarm, except from a marginalized few. Most significant of those sounding the alarm were former FBI counterterrorism investigator John O'Neill, and White House counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke. O'Neill died at the World Trade Center, a truly mythical captain going down with his ship.

Another set of dots that weren't connected was the theft of the 2000 presidential election, the subsequent invasions of two countries rich in mineral wealth and strategic location, illegal domestic spying, the "Patriot" Act, the corruption of the Department of Justice, and the free regulatory ride given to corporations from 2001 to the present.

I can connect a few more dots: the recently fired General Stanley McChrystal; the revelations last week in the Washington Post about the vast spying network that has ballooned since the 2001 attacks; and the Wikileaks exposure of "secrets" our government has been hiding from us about what has been going on in "Afghanistan."

This picture is from the Salon Abu Ghraib files. The “American” soldier is identified as a “Sergeant Evans.”For me, the picture at right is all the connection I need. It is holographic - the whole represented by the part. The destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon were the handy excuse to unleash something that was lying not-so-
Bush after “choking on a pretzel”
dormant in our national character. All of our alcoholism, drug addiction, violence, pornography and self-loathing became personified in George W. Bush, a multi-addict with no history of doing anything responsible in his life without having it given to him.

This prisoner at Abu Grhaib is being “softened for interrogation”As a people, we degenerated into barbarism quickly, invading without hesitation, looting, abusing, kidnapping, torturing, murdering, and even gang-raping. For good measure, we are now finding out that employees at the Pentagon, the NSA, and among "defense" contractors have been involved in child pornography.

What passes for "journalism" is barroom loudmouth bellowing, the kind of thing that keeps police busy all over the country on weekend nights.

How, one might ask, does the picture of the naked, hooded boy at Abu Ghraib connect these seemingly disconnected dots?This picture of a detained “Iraqi” with his 4-year-old son was taken near Najaf, “Iraq,” on March 31, 2003. It was selected as World Press Photo of the Year for 2003. The photographer was Jean-Marc Bouju of the Associated Press. It's easy. First, General Stanley McChrystal. What the Rolling Stone article showed was that the overriding factor in his prosecution of the "war" was nothing more or less than his own ego. Everything else was secondary.

With this sense of priority, is the well-being of the people of "Afghanistan," or even "America," likely to improve under his efforts? No, and now that he is gone, has the "mission" changed? No. Same mission. Different general. Interchangeable parts, in our modern professional Army. The new commander of both wars has bragged about how much fun it is to kill the "Taliban." Of course, one man's "Taliban" is another man's "Afghani" civilian.

The next dot - the massive spying network that no one seems to know how big, what it costs, or if it does anything worthwhile - is the kind of thing instituted by collections of men with compromised intentions. In other words, politicians and corporations. As with General McChrystal, ego rules. Ego and money, nearly synonymous in modern "America."

A wary “Afghani” father contfronted by “American” soldiers at his homeThe third dot - Wikileaks. The editors of the site published over 90,000 military and diplomatic documents related to the "war" in "Afghanistan." The documents connect their own dots by implication, showing that our presence in "Afghanistan" makes us hated by the people, that we aren't accomplishing anything, our "ally," "Pakistan," is helping the "Taliban," and the "Taliban" likely have heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles - "Stingers." Not exactly the stuff of victory around the next corner. And certainly not the stuff of finding Osama bin Laden.

One final dot: the House of Representatives today voted $59 billion to extend funding of our two "wars."

The execution of Saddam Hussein, a supposedly proud moment in our imposition of “democracy” on “Iraq”Domestic politics is the überdot. It has been all along. The invasions, the occupations, the kidnapping, the torture, the imprisonment, the looting, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the predator drones, the killings of civilians - it's all about domestic politics in the "USA." And domestic politics is about ego. The egos of little men. A few women, but mostly little men.

We have House and Senate "elections" this fall, and then the frenzy of the 2012 presidential "election." With all these egos at stake, the likelihood that the "policies" for "Iraq" and "Afghanistan" will change is zilch. For people living in these countries, good luck. Your suffering is far from over.

For people in "Iran," some egos in "Washington" have you in their sights.

Meanwhile, the planet is experiencing the hottest summer on record. The "U.S." Senate has given up on passing any legislation to deal with climate change.
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Here's a video of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

Here's a "legitimate" news source's take on the Wikileaks story.

For a statistical study of the fate of Guantanamo prisoners, click here.

Here's a video that is pertinent to our mass predicament. It is a good prelude to reading Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

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