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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, February 23, 2012

Disentrenching the Entrenched "Leadership"

Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis
Last Friday's News Hour aired a segment featuring an Army Lieutenant Colonel who served in "Afghanistan," who contends that our top military command is misleading Congress and the "American" people about progress in the "war." Most significantly, the whistleblower, LTC Daniel Davis, pointed to current CIA and former theater commander Director David Petraeus as the principal dissembler (obfuscator, exaggerator, misrepresenter) of progress in the "United States" campaign in "Afghanistan."

General David PetraeusSince then many similar reports have been appearing. Salon contends that we are being "Hypnotized into an endless dirty war." Democracy Now aired a segment the day before the News Hour story titled "The Afghan War’s Nine Lives," referring to colonel Davis's report.

The revelations in the report are not likely to advance colonel Davis's military career, but they may help to end this endless "war." The same thing happened with the "Vietnam" "war." Military leaders were perfectly content to wage the debacle endlessly, as long as the money, the medals, and most importantly, the career advancement were there. Many remember the "light at the end of the tunnel" claim of William C. Westmoreland, commander of troops in "Vietnam" in 1968. This of course followed by over a decade the same claim by "French" general Henri Navarre, in 1953. Then came Dien Bien Phu.

The bad news from "Afghanistan" continues to pour out. "NATO" is having to apologize for an incident of Qur'an burning (or, as we say, "Koran") at the "U.S." air base in Bagram. This almost certainly will result in retribution, and likely many times over. This follows the report of "U.S." Marines urinating on corpses of dead "Taliban." Last year Rolling Stone featured a story about a team of "U.S." soldiers who were killing and mutilating the corpses of random "Afghans" they encountered, including beheading some of them.

Marines urinating on corpses of dead Taliban in Afghanistan
The president and his military high command would of course prefer that this information be kept secret, and the Obama Administration has shown a curious affinity with the Bush criminal regime's obsession with secrecy. He is not alone in this affinity. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently banned Wikileaks from a conference on Wikileaks. This of course was at the behest of the conference's "American" organizers, but in a mass, "representative," bureaucratic world, secrecy is an integral part of the modus operandi.

It has become surreal. Today Bradley Manning was arraigned in military court. Bradley Manning, five-foot-two-inch homosexual soldier, is being charged with "aiding the enemy," among other things. The mighty, indeed almighty "United States of America" is threatened by this little guy of alternate sexuality. His "crime" was sending a large number of "classified" documents to Wikileaks, which were then released to a number of news organizations.

Barack Obama, for all his rhetoric about openness in government and transparency, in practice has shown himself to be an opponent of whistleblowing. One can understand his reasoning. When "American" atrocities in "war" zones become public, the purveyors of the "war" policies look bad. When burning of Qur'ans becomes public, retribution against "Americans" results, and support among "Afghans" falls.

It's all for naught. It should be clear that in a "representative" system, the "representatives" are in it for themselves. They can deceive, self-deceive, delude, self-delude, obfuscate and hide truth all they want, but the more a system skews toward secrecy, the more it accelerates its own demise.

A few days ago I found myself responding to something written by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, of all people, on a slightly different topic, but it applies to this concern as well:

This isn't the kind of thing I usually read, and I can't remember how it came my way. But here I am. I'm sure Mr. Abramoff's elder statesman of sorts status is valuable in parsing corruption, but his expertise on bad intentions doesn't get us any closer to the essence of the problem. We have a broken social contract. Our institutions of respect are no longer deserving of respect.

Just to pull one example from the constellation of examples, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is a former political operative of the president whom he helped to circumnavigate the election that enabled his appointment. This happened almost unnoticed and unremarked.

The second law of thermodynamics posits that the entropy of an isolated system always increases or remains constant. In other words, all energy systems tend towards disorder, or dissipation. So the unraveling of our system is nothing unique. The idea of "The United States of America" is nothing if not an energy system.

When I was a graduate student in Economics this pending decline first occurred to me when I took a class in growth theory. It was all equations. Only vague references to what actually happens in the world. Somewhere in this thicket of mathematical masturbation it dawned on me that on a finite planet there would eventually be a limit reached where no further growth would be possible.

The Economics profession is still slow coming around to the limits to growth, but the acceleration of climate change will put an end to all but the most compromised, i.e., banking and corporate, resistance.

In an ethically deteriorating system in the context of limits to growth and increasingly drastic climate change, the overall entropy will feed on itself. This predicament, pattern, gestalt and milieu is beyond the limited expertise of Mr. Abramoff, no matter how painfully earned. I suggest digging deeper.
Time will tell if our entrenched "leadership" will choose a path other than secrecy and fake problem solving. We don't have the luxury of waiting. For the sake of life on this planet, now is a good time for doing some democratic disentrenching.

This is the video of the Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. The comments to the video are notable.

Here's some analysis of the policy of drone attacks in "Pakistan."

Rolling Stone weighs in on LTC Davis's revelations.

In the same News Hour program referred to above, the possibility of coexisting with a nuclear "Iran" is discussed. Gee, maybe we don't have to attack them after all. Woops. That's not the official truth. Lord of secrecy, where are you?

Self-styled know-it-all Charlie Rose did a "puff" interview with a biographer of David Petraeus last week. I responded:

It seems kind of pointless to do this, but life is full of pointlessness, so deliberate pointlessness has its own pointfulness. Public television is pretty much the only TV I watch, and if I'm up late enough, the Charlie Rose show ends up getting watched. The guests tend to be interesting, so I only turn the show off when Charlie Rose becomes insufferable. This happens about a third of the time. It has to do with his smugness, and his attitude of being a "player" - not just an interviewer, but such a know-it-all that he is a full-fledged participant in any endeavor - world politics, movie-making, literature, stock car racing, scaling El Capitan, you name it.
It finally has become clear that these interviews are a waste of my time. Last night I watched the puff interview with the author of a book about David Petraeus. What the interview amounted to was a pumping up of the image of Petraeus to a degree to which the underlying issues of our foreign adventures are also pumped up. He's such a great guy that the wars he managed are also great, honorable - yea exalted, and the world is such a better place for it. It's an endless feedback loop, with the exalted wars then exalting the bestowers of war, and on and on and on. Somewhere in there was a pumping up of George W. Bush. 
When it was announced yesterday that the Christmas Day bomber was sentenced to life in prison I was reminded of when we first heard that name - it was applied to Henry Kissinger, the Christmas bomber of Vietnam. There would never be a mention of this by Charlie Rose. He's too much of an establishmentarian. Though Henry Kissinger qualifies as a world terrorist and mass murderer in any objective definition of the terms, he is always welcome on the Charlie Rose show. 
Even when people involved in revolutions are interviewed the conversations are in the context of the elite. It's the viewer listening in on a conversation between key players on the world stage - Charlie Rose and anyone who is sitting in the dark with him - we have the gravitas, you watch. 
I think I finally have had enough. I might have a few weak moments, tuning in against my better judgement, but it will serve as a kind of biofeedback that it's time to call it a night. Or, as Hop Sing said many years ago on Bonanza, "Fooled once, curse you. Fooled twice..." Fooled many times, yikes!
Actually, it was Ben Cartwright quoting Hop Sing, but close enough. Wisdom comes in many forms. Take it as it comes.

  For a view on the hero worship of David Petraeus click here and  here.

Update, Feb 25: This was all-too predictable. We are through in "Afghanistan." It was a stupid blunder. We would have been much better off putting the Bush criminal regime on trial. We would have found out more about the "911" attacks, would have avoided a couple of trillion dollars in wasted expense, and would have avoided a vast amount to death and destruction. Have "we" learned anything? Not likely.

Some encouraging music would help. Here's Keb Mo. Chords and lyrics can be found here. A little improvisation around the chords might be fun.

Someone posted this great song on YouTube. I saw them do it live in 1974 or so, without the singer, but still great.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Taste for Evil

Obama with Benjamin NetanyahuLast Friday I was listening to a local radio program, and it was more of an attention-grabber than the usual fare. The show is called A Public Affair, and airs on Madison's listener sponsored "community radio" station WORT. They have a different show host every weekday, and on Fridays the host is an "Israeli" expatriate (and veteran of the Yom Kippur war), a woman named Esty Dinur. I don't listen to WORT very much anymore, but my alternative, Wisconsin Public Radio, had something boring on.

The guest on the show was Max Blumenthal, a writer for the Nation and al Akhbar, a Lebanese publication. What followed was one of the most startling conversations I ever heard. Apparently the prime minister of "Israel," Benjamin Netanyahu, is trying to influence the "U.S." presidential election. Through a Las Vegas casino  tycoon named Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Netanyahu, money is being funneled to "Republican" candidates, especially "right wing" Moon colonizer-to-be Newt Gingrich.

I've been hearing for years about how the "Israeli" spy agency Mossad has been all over the country gathering intelligence and doing who knows what else, so it shouldn't have been a surprise that there would be attempts to control "U.S." politics. "Israel" would not be able to oppress the "Palestinians," destroy their houses, cut down their olive trees, or invade its neighbors without "U.S." support, i.e., money. Total aid to "Israel" has been estimated at over $140 billion. "Israel" would have no nuclear weapons without "our" tacit approval. There would be no settlements in "Palestinian" lands without "our" money.

The site where I found the $140 billion estimate is named "If Americans Knew." Good luck with that. "Americans," addicted to TV, cellphones, iPods, iPads, Blackberrys, video games, alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, sports, gambling, celebrities, guns, violence, junk food and fake religion, are likely the most easily duped people in human history. I could write an outraged screed condemning, imploring, beseeching, pleading and shaming whomever might read this to STOP THE MADNESS. Nothing would change.

What I might be able to do is shed some light, which is all I can do in any of my writing. The question at hand, it seems to me, is what is the likely trajectory of a social system that is such fair game to manipulation, propaganda, the influence of big money, and what I call a taste for evil.

There are now threats coming from "Israel" that they are going to bomb "Iran." The country is the latest boogeyman in the ongoing effort to rid the "Mideast" of threats, real or imagined, to "Israel." It was and is conventional wisdom among "leftists" that "we" invaded "Iraq" for its oil, but I believe the greater motivation was to serve the interests of "Israel." During the first "U.S." invasion of "Iraq" in 1991, Saddam Hussein attacked two "Israeli" cities with his paltry Scud missiles. "Israel" would not forgive or forget this transgression.

The Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, in one of his triumphal uniforms"Iran" has been "our" "enemy" since 1979, when the people there overthrew the dictator "we" imposed on them. The dictator, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, was not only "our" ally, but a staunch ally of "Israel." He crushed opposition in a similar fashion to what the regime that replaced him does. The difference is that he was "ours." In addition to overthrowing the Shah, militants in "Iran" attacked the "U.S." embassy, and captured 52 "Americans," holding them hostage for 444 days. The hostages were released under curious circumstances, the crisis being a crucial factor in the "election" of Ronald Reagan to the "U.S." presidency. The curiosity is known as the October Surprise.

Supposedly the Obama regime is interested in negotiating with "Iran" about its nuclear program, which may or may not include plans to develop nuclear weapons. Maybe this is the case, maybe not. Glenn Greenwald of Salon is doubtful. Max Blumenthal believes Obama is not in favor of attacking "Iran," but is being pressured by "Israel" and its "American" supporters.

So much about so little. What's the big deal about "Iran?" We should be clear that what is really meant by "Iran" is the Islamic regime that rules "Iran." In a bombing attack, the land and people of "Iran" will be surrogates, stand-ins for the ruling regime. The regime is a nasty one for sure, but that is not the reason for the impending attack. Our own regime of world empire has had no problem whatsoever with nasty regimes in the past, as long as they were "our" nasty regimes. "We" will attack any regime, nasty or benign, if "we" decide it is our "enemy."

For an empire, invading seemingly defenseless countries serves a number of purposes. "Friendly" governments can be imposed. Windfall profits for the armaments industry can be reaped. Other regimes in the region, to say nothing of worldwide, can be intimidated into submission. Great political support at home can be garnered, and opponents can be scapegoated and vilified.

Where this model falls down, in part, is to look at the history of empires. The two best examples are the Roman and British empires, both of which failed the test of time. Ours will too, but in a much shorter span of time.

The difference now is that we have a new context. Our infinite growth economic system is breaking down. It is running up against the resource limits of the planet. More serious, though, is that our economic activities are causing the planet's climate to change in a rapid and increasingly detrimental manner.

Any country that finds itself trying to dominate the planet in a context of limits to growth and climate change is accelerating its own demise. Our own intelligence agencies have to know this. We have learned nothing from our two most recent invasions. If anything, we are poised to keep on invading. If not "Iran," "Pakistan" is a likely candidate for military adventure. For some, "North Korea" would be a fun escapade.

So the real question is do "we," as personified by our "leaders," have the wherewithal to look beyond the immediate gratification of bombing and/or otherwise attacking another country, and see a broader picture of unintended consequences. By focusing attention on short-term political expediency we will likely reap very serious long-term consequences. As we should have learned from our most recent invasions, the costs can, and almost certainly will be enormous.

Also, by indulging in evil, we avoid doing good. Good would be to change our economic system and reverse the effects of climate change. It's double evil. Our ruling structure will likely go ahead with either its own attack on "Iran" or looking the other way while "Israel" attacks. All involved should be ready for the consequences, especially the acceleration of their own loss of power, influence, and, last but not least, MONEY.

You can listen to a podcast of the WORT interview by clicking here. A book about Madison veterans' path to peace is described by its editor here. Esty Dinur's story is among the entries.

I post what I write elsewhere. A commenter supplied this link, adding more depth to the conundrum. For some further intrigue, click here and read the comments. This is a fun place to read the post. I also post here, which tends to get more reads, but didn't this time. It's always hit and miss. Sometimes they feature what I write, sometimes they don't. A lot of it is about timing. At this site no one sees it unless they accidentally happen upon it in a Google search.

For an update on the media campaign for attacking "Iran," click here. Here's another.

Slate analyzes Newt Gingrich's Moon colonizing plan.

For some more info about Sheldon Adelson, click here.

Further complicating the matter, "U.S." politicians are receiving large sums of money from a group that has been designated a terrorist organization under "U.S." law, all because the group is committing terrorist acts against "Iran, our "enemy." Read about it here.

I wrote about the planned attack on "Iran" previously here and here. My proposal for peace in "Palestine/Israel" is here.

For a slide show of who and what we, or our proxy "Israel" will be bombing, click here.

This perspective from Eric Margolis offers great insight.

For a good story about how "Iran" and "Israel" were friendly, click here.

Here's a little tune of encouragement. Here's the chords and lyrics. This is another great version. This too.

Here's another.

And this certainly fits the mood I'm in.

This too, something I love to do. Here's the chords and lyrics.

Here's something we all have to do from time to time.

For good measure, this.

Just tryin' to make it real.

Ben Kingsley, as Gandhi, said "There have been cutthroats and murderers throughout history. They all fall - every one of them." Here's the same idea in a song.

Here's one for Barry the Bomber. For the chords and lyrics, click hereOne more. For updates on Barry's bombing, click herehere and here.

Ending with a positive and peaceful message, this video says more than I ever could. Watch it in full screen.

Mini update: This is the best commercial from the "Super Bowl."  It has a brief shot of activites at the Wisconsin state Capitol. I didn't watch the game, but heard that generic team A beat generic team B, and that there was a thrilling catch. Almost as thrilling as you could see in the park on any spring or summer day of a dog catching a frisbee. For a lot less money. Salon has a good analysis of the ad's significance. Here's the ad on YouTube. Here's some great and not-so-great Clint Eastwood quotes.

The Onion gets the news right more often than the "real" news.

This video is a must-watch. Maybe if a critical mass of people unite to stop the planned attack on "Iran," it can be stopped.