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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, April 17, 2012

Party Pooper

While I was riding my bicycle in downtown Madison last Saturday I heard a voice coming from a PA system at the Capitol, and pedaled over to see what was going on. I figured it was some kind of race or kids' event, but it was a "Tea Party" rally. I had my camera with me, so I wandered through the crowd taking pictures to post here. It was the most hateful crowd I have been around, worse than last year's "Tea Party" rally where Sarah Palin was the headliner. I arrived in the middle of a speech by Vicki McKenna, a local "right wing" hate radio talk show host. The vitriol was pretty unbelievable.

I didn't expect any difficulty from the crowd. I stashed my "Recall Walker" button inside my backpack, and figured I was pretty incognito, except my bicycle helmet was a dead giveaway. Biking is not exactly the preferred activity among "right wingers."

At one point I happened across a stack of bumper stickers that said "I Am AFP!" AFP is "Americans for Prosperity," the political advocacy group funded by the Koch Brothers. I picked up one of the bumper stickers and continued on my way.

Filtering through the crowd, I brushed past a guy who was about 6 feet 5 or 6 inches tall, and who weighed about 240-250 pounds. A muscle-man, big enough to be a pro football defensive end. He's the guy in the white shirt above. He quickly turned around, and yelled "Hey, where you goin' with that?" I stopped, and replied "I thought they were free." He then accused me of taking it from his back pocket, and grabbed it from my hands. I told him I didn't take it from him, but got it from the pile nearby. He insisted I stole it from him, and I said "Keep it! I'll get another one." At that point he changed completely, apologized, and insisted I take the one I originally had. Then he offered to shake my hand. It was surreal. My hands are big enough (barely) to palm a basketball, but this guy's hand was huge. It was like shaking hands with King Kong. I continued on my way, but took a picture of him on the way out.

I took some more pictures, then talked with some people for a few minutes and left. One guy, a "liberal," was as difficult to converse with as were "right wingers." In polarized times, there isn't much real conversation, but assertion of talking points. It has become a battle of egos, and I don't stick around for long.

One thing that was curious was that there were a lot of big muscly guys there, not the kinds you would randomly see at a public event like Taste of Madison or Art Fair on the Square. A number of them were positioned at the outer edges of the crowd, and some were engaged in casual conversation with State Police. Another curious element was the high visibility of the Koch brothers front organization, AFP. There was a significant intersect between big muscly guys and "I am AFP" guys. Given that these big muscly guys were in disproportionate numbers, it seems a good likelihood that they were brought in from outside the state by the Koch brothers, paid to be there.

Nothing much happened, though there seems to have been some kind of small disturbance during the Vicki McKenna speech. It must have been before I arrived, because I didn't see anything out of the ordinary. I asked someone on the way out why there were so few counter-demonstrators, and was told no one knew about it. More likely there was no polarizing presence like Sarah Palin to draw in the crowds like last year. The crowd wasn't very large, the "official" (Walker Dept. of Administration) estimate at about 2000. That was a bit generous. It looked to me to be about 1000 people.

The "Tea Party" isn't much of a movement. It was artificially created in the wake of the 2008 bank bailout at the urging of a TV pundit from CNBC, Rick Santelli. It had some roots before that, and appears to be largely funded by, hmm, the Koch brothers. The combination of hate media and Koch money can stoke the fires of animosity and scapegoating for a while, but without a sound basis in reality it will lose its appeal. Saturday's crowd was smaller than what you would see at a typical high school football game.

This is encouraging. Maybe the country is starting to wake up. It's about time. I'm not so optimistic, at least for the near-term. The more likely case is that Tea Party fellow-travelers are too cheap and/or lazy to bother to make the trip to Madison to stand up for what they believe in. I base this view on my own experience in day-to-day existence. I don't view "right-wing" hate mentality as a political stance so much as a mental condition, a dominance by what some psychologists call the reptilian brain. There are other descriptions, such as the authoritarian personality complex, and the antisocial personality disorder. There is even a sub-group designation of "right-wing authoritarianism."

The reptilian brain, home of “right-wingers”John Dean, former counsel in the Nixon White House, believes that Wisconsin's union-busting governor Scott Walker is an authoritarian worse than Nixon. Having an authoritarian governor is bad enough, but the real damage he can do is when this personality disorder is combined with crony capitalism. There is considerable evidence that this is what is behind Walker's strategy, and he may find himself under indictment at any time.

We'll see. There are no guarantees. We have a corrupt system. My main contention is that climate change will direct our future, and will determine whether we even exist as a species. We have an infinite growth economic system on a finite planet, and the trend for our technology is to displace people with machines and computers. We have an escapist and trivial pop culture that our mass communications media are feverishly hyping. At some point all these dynamics will converge. Then real change will take place. We should plan for it. _______________________________________________

The guy with the "I voted for the American" sign didn't want his picture taken. This is the other side of the sign. As soon as I lined up my shot he lowered his sign. I crouched down to shoot from below, and he lowered it more. So much for "right wing" standing up for one's beliefs.

 I haven't listened to this song in a long time. It fits here.

This also fits.

Here's a tune to inspire independent thought.

Here's something to keep in mind. This too.

I always come back to this song.


Update, April 25: Every time I think I have come up with a new idea, analysis, insight, perspective, or understanding I eventually find out that someone else has done it before me. The latest reminder was yesterday, when I did a Google search for Tea Party and Reptilian Brain. The results included  this, this, this and this

The last one, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality, is an in-depth study of why "Republicans" think the way they do. The author, Chris Mooney, wrote an overview of his findings in a recent article in Salon. So much for my groundbreaking discovery. It is likely numerous others have come up with the same observation. These poor reptilian brain-dominated people have no idea of what fair game they are for demagogues in politics and religion. You wouldn't be able to tell them.

There is no single, definitive "Tea Party." Here's a link to one of them. You can draw your own conclusions.


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