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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.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Proxy Warfare

Now that the killers in Paris have themselves been killed, we can take a step back and look at the event in a larger perspective. The standard theme here in the “U.S.” is that the terrorists must be stopped. It will take greater effort than ever before. More spending on “homeland security.” More surveillance. More drone attacks. More air strikes. More scapegoating. More demagoguery. More shouting.

A good example is a recent segment of the Charlie Rose TV show, where he interviewed John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism at the New York Police Department. It was typical Charlie Rose, uncritical questioning, pretending to be a "player," with his guest Miller talking about the various tough-guy measures that can be taken to ferret out the mythical "bad guys," wherever they may be.

Charlie Rose is only one of the more "dignified" propaganda purveyors. On such bluster outlets as Fox News and the panoply of hate radio the message is more blunt, but it is essentially the same: Get the "bad guys." The "bad guys" of course are as we define them. If you were paying attention after "911," the bad guys ranged from Osama bin Laden to "Democrats" serving in the Congress. There was a frenzy of calling people "terrorists."

This is of course a simplistic and stupid approach. It doesn't work, as we should know by now, and only makes things worse. Unfortunately, given the way our system has evolved, it is the ONLY approach that can even be considered. With our political system being corrupt, combine it with tough guy silliness and you get the invasions of "Afghanistan" and "Iraq," Guantanamo, torture, rigged prosecutions of "sleeper cells," the "Patriot" Act, the Department of Homeland Security, the NSA out of control. All these things add up to a ton of money spent to make things worse. Now we will spend more tons of money, with a likely even worse result.

We can at least talk about a different approach. A good place to start is to look the Paris attacks away from the standard theme of fanatical Islamists having no respect for our cherished freedom of speech, and look at their acts in a broader context. Such as below, my response to a segment of the radio show OnPoint:

Religion is somewhat a proxy in this ongoing conflict. It started long ago with the Crusades - Europeans laying siege in Arab homelands. Then came the colonial era with its subjugation and atrocities. After World War II the West tried to divvy-up the Mideast, using the newly created "Israel" as a military wedge to keep Arab regimes at bay. Add in a little assassination and overthrow over the years, and all was supposed to be well.
The two invasions of "Iraq," intended to solidify "U.S." and European hegemony over the Mideast, actually lit a tinderbox of instability, terrorism and fanaticism. During this entire era of empire building many millions of emigres from subject countries descended on their European (and "American") dominant countries, taking advantage of their membership in the empires, or as refugees. In the case of "Germany," millions of men from "Turkey," "Yugoslavia" and other countries were invited in as workers to fill the shortage created by World War II. Thanks, Hitler, the ungift that keeps on ungiving.
This is a situation that will play out over a long period of time. As it plays out, there certainly is a place for satire. It should be done wisely. If it is just trashing other people, or ridiculing their mythical hero, it is as natural as the Sun rising that eventually someone or a group of someones is going to retaliate. Any population can be seen as existing in a normal curve, with the majority concentrated around the mean, attempting to live ordinary lives. Out in the tails of the distribution are the extremes, a relatively small number, but always there, and always an unstable element. All they need is an excuse.
The best satire I have ever seen is Monty Python's Life of Brian, still my favorite movie of all time. Though they were pretty obviously spoofing Christian fanaticism, it was Jews who took the most offense, because of the setting in ancient Judea. It was brilliant satire, done with great fun, and didn't trash anyone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MwJOnleriM
So what we have in the official world - the world of "white" people, those of Europe and European derivation - is a wrongheaded understanding of the problem and a wrongheaded way of trying to solve it. Fanatical terrorists are attempting to destroy our civilization. Let's get them. We make the rules, and we decide what is and isn't on this planet. Everyone else conforms or else we will kill them. In fact, we might just kill them anyway. When you're making an omelet you have to crack some eggs.

For those of us who don't see the world the official way, we have to find a way of not going along with the plan, individually and/or collectively. The plan will fail anyway, but we can at least minimize the damage and cost by thwarting it. I will say this every time: the Polar Ice Caps are melting. We need to put our resources into stopping this process of catastrophic climate change. We can't do it if we're using them up fighting a phony and futile war on terror.
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For some other very pertinent views, Chris Floyd is a worthy read. Juan Cole too. This, from Elias Isquith, is also excellent. And Tom Englehardt.

Here's PBS's attempt to make the story about freedom of expression. They know how to keep the funding coming in.

Here's a followup about climate change.

Here's what the Wisconsin state legislature is spending its time on.  This is a hologram for legislatures nationwide, including at the national level. For example.

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