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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.

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.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Next Generation of Citizens

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Perfect Time for Overthrow

Unions built AmericaIt helps if you're going to cover a big rally to get there early. Today was a perfect example. Union members across the state of Wisconsin rallied for the second day against governor Scott Walker's proposal to abolish bargaining rights of state workers and drastically reduce pay and benefits. This includes teachers, police, firefighters, corrections officers, game wardens, snow plow drivers, doctors, nurses, university professors, and a myriad of other state workers who staff the various divisions of state government. (You can read more about the proposal here)

Waupun teachers disembaringI didn't get there until 4:30, when most people had left. It wasn't over by any means, though, as busloads of teachers and other union members were arriving from all over the state. The governor, a none-too-bright guy, has awakened a sleeping giant. Tomorrow's rally promises to be even bigger.

Wall Street caused economic collapseIn the wave of "Republican" election gains last fall everyone from Barack Obama to governors and local officials nationwide are proposing drastic cuts in spending for government services and payments to less fortunate citizens for such things as home heat and help with food and rent. Nowhere in any of these plans is it mentioned to place any burden whatsoever on those who benefit the most from living in this country: the rich. The multibillionaires, multimillionaires, Wall Street profligates who destroyed our banking system with their greed, corporate executives who pollute the land and air, agricultural conglomerates who sell us tainted food, pharmaceutical executives who push harmful drugs down our throats, weapons manufacturers who promote wars in order to generate more demand for their implements of death, and much more. I shouldn't leave out the media conglomerates who shape and manipulate public perception to acquiesce to corporate propaganda.

Professional not replaceableThere are rumblings of change, though. Just as in the recent upheaval in "Egypt," people right here in "America" are waking up to the reality of what is going on all around them. It is still winter, yet Wisconsinites from all over the state sacrificed their time, money, and energy to come to the state Capitol to stand up for their rights.

Walker can't talk about educationThere are other rumblings. To my great delight, renowned economist Robert Reich is advocating for progressive income tax, much like existed before the demented era of "Conservatism" that began with the demented presidency of Ronald Reagan, starting in 1981. Reich also provided some insight into the budget debate.

Union building trades food setupOn tonight's News Hour, independent Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) talked about how unfair the budgeting process is to the most vulnerable among us. Among the things he said were the following:

"...our middle class is collapsing. Our median family income has gone down. Poverty is going way, way up. And the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is going wider.

So, I think, before you look at budgets or how you deal with the deficit, you have got to take that into consideration. For example, the top 1 percent today earn more income than do the bottom 50 percent. They earn about 22 percent of every dollar earned in America. And that gap is growing wider.

Meanwhile, what this budget includes are massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. So, you have a situation. The rich are getting richer. Their tax rates have gone down for many, many years. Their effective tax rate right now -- people like Warren Buffett talk about this -- at 16 percent, is lower than at any time in recent history, and yet we're giving them huge tax breaks, while poverty in America is increasing.

We have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world for our children, and we're cutting programs for those people. So, the first thing we have to deal with is revenue. And, as a nation, we have got to say, sorry, the rich are getting richer. They're doing really well. Our friends on Wall Street, we shouldn't have to worry about. They get huge amounts of compensation.

We cannot continue to give huge tax breaks to the wealthy, cut back on programs for the vulnerable. So, that's the first issue I think we have to deal with."

Hey King WalkerHe goes on about how Obama is clueless (my term, not his), most significantly about the causes of the budget deficit:

"The deficit primarily has been caused by two wars unfunded, huge tax breaks to people who don't need it, an insurance-company-written Medicare Part D prescription drug program, and the bailout of Wall Street.

The cause of it is not hungry children in this country or people who are sleeping out on the street. So, we have got to deal with the deficit, but you do it in a fair and progressive way. For example, this year alone, we're losing a hundred billion dollars in revenue because corporations, the wealthy, are stashing their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands.

This year, ExxonMobil, the most profitable corporation in the history of the world, is not paying a nickel in federal income taxes, despite having made $19 billion last year. In 2005, one-quarter of corporation -- large corporations in America making a trillion in revenue didn't pay a nickel in taxes. You have got a military budget which in many ways is still fighting the old Cold War.

So, I believe that we have to move toward significant deficit reduction, but you don't do it on the backs of the middle class and working families who are already suffering as a result of this Wall Street-caused recession.

You want to know the way to raise money? Put a transaction fee on Wall Street, so maybe we can curb some of the speculation and raise some money."

Walker is replaceableThe same can be said for budget problems at the state and local level. The rich are not bearing any burden whatsoever. It is time to overthrow them, just like the "Egyptians" overthrew Mubarak. The days are getting longer, and the weather is getting warmer. It is a perfect time for overthrow.

Here's a video of yesterday's Madison rally.

Here's another.

This video is a must see.

Here's a story about what it's like to be a teacher in Wisconsin.

Solidarity foreverThere is power in a union.

For a little revolutionary energy, click here. Also here. One Tracy Chapman song isn't enough. Here's another.

Just change the name to Madison for this one.

Don't forget to have fun. Here's a nice Grateful Dead version.

This song might get some revolutionary energy going.

Can't leave the Beatles out. This version was for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Or Leonard Cohen.

Gil Scott-Heron did Hip-hop before it was called Hip-hop.

You likely never heard this song, but it still resonates.

This is my own personal dedication to Scott Walker, my favorite Stevie Wonder song. This is my second favorite.

Here's Walker announcing his proposal.

If Walker's bill passes, Wisconsin could lose $46 million in Federal funds.

For some history of union-busting, click here.

This story in Mother Jones describes the relationship between Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and the notorious Koch brothers.

For more information about the Koch brothers, click here. The New Yorker article by Jane Mayer can be seen by clicking here.

The New York Times has a story about the involvement of the Koch brothers in Wisconsin.

Map of Koch brothers involvement in WisconsinA diagram that depicts the connections between the Koch brothers and Wisconsin politics can be seen here.

A reporter posing as David Koch called Scott Walker on Tuesday, February 22, and got him to reveal his plans and intentions. Read about it here. Click here for the video.

Here's a bit of background on public employee pay versus private.

Here's some background on how Wall Street "investors" caused the mess we are in. For an interview that gives a shorter synopsis, click here.

This analysis by John Dean explains much about our current predicament. It is from a book he wrote on the subject of authoritarianism and conservatism.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Keep talking

One would almost feel sympathy for Barack Obama. He ran for president in 2008, based solely on the thunder of his speech at the "Democratic" convention four years earlier. He delivered a great speech, ergo he's qualified to be president.

Now, I suspect, he's having second thoughts. He has no answers for anything, his health care law has been declared unconstitutional, the economy is still in the doldrums, and now his entire foreign "policy" is in freefall.

Had he studied a bit of history before running for president, he would realize that since before World War II our Federal government has supported a truly evil cluster of dictators worldwide, all with the intent of being the dominant force on the planet. Obama may or may not have known this, but he has shown no signs of reversing this "policy" towards the rest of the planet. In today's Huffington Post the lead headline is "OBAMA BACKS GRADUAL TRANSITION LED BY SULEIMAN." They actually link to an article in the New York Times, which details the "plan." The Suleiman in question is Omar Suleiman, "Egypt's" newly anointed vice-president and former head of intelligence for the country. He is widely reputed to have personally conducted the torture of prisoners, most notably men who have been "rendered" in "extraordinary" manner by the "U.S." "CIA."

Thus is complete Obama's descent into a hell of his own making. He may not have started out as a backer of the worst evils on the planet, but he now is in full embrace.

The descent was rapid. He wasted no time upon assuming office to show his support for the worst human rights crimes of the Bush regime. Now he has painted himself into a corner. The whole world knows about Suleiman, but Obama and his clique of department secretaries and advisors seem to believe rolling out another eloquent speech will be enough.

It won't. The world is likely tired of him. He's all talk, and his talk has become pro-forma, predictable, and boring. Before becoming a bore he gave a speech in Cairo in 2009 that may have unwittingly inspired the unrest that led to the protests of the past week-and-a-half. That's the risk you take when you inspire people. They might just decide to act on your inspiring rhetoric.

That includes, of course, people right here in the "USA." Nothing has been done, and nothing is intended to be done, about climate change (witness the State of the Union Speech). Nothing has been done or is intended to be done about the criminality on Wall Street. Indeed, Obama's administration is well-staffed with the very people who got us into the economic mess in which we now find ourselves trapped. Obama pre-gave in on letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire, supposedly to be "bipartisan," but likely for ruling-class cohesion (or something similar).

What I would like to see is for Barack Obama to give more speeches. A lot more speeches. He's doing a heckuva job, to coin a phrase, inspiring the masses of the planet to overthrow tyrannical regimes.

Punxsutawney Phil predicted four more weeks of winter a few days ago. Ahh, spring. My favorite season.

I offered another take on the "Egypt" situation in a comment to an article in Salon a few days ago. This too.

Egypt Unrest: Didn't U.S. Intelligence See It Coming? (I wrote a comment to this one, it appears on the third page)

I was going to weave these articles into the story, but it took a slightly different direction:

Tahrir Square Gunfire: Egypt Protests Continue Overnight As Mubarak Supporters Attack

The New Face of Revolution: After Tunisia and Egypt, the World

Challenging America's Pharaoh

Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu

Robert Fisk: Obama Administration Has Been Gutless and Cowardly in Dealing with the Mubarak Regime

As Violence Grows In Egypt, U.S. Influence Shrinks

Here's a song that fits.

Here's another.