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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.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Matter of Trust

This week we found out that  the Obama Administration's account of the killing of Osama bin Laden was a fabrication. Or at least we re-found it out. This week's re-finding out was slightly more mainstream, from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) weekly investigative program Frontline. In Tuesday's segment, titled Secrets, Politics and Torture, the main focus was on the CIA's secret "enhanced interrogation" methods.

The report began with a brief description of the Hollywood movie Zero Dark Thirty, which was largely based on information given to the movie-makers by the CIA. It turns out, surprise of surprises, the CIA lied. The most significant of the lies the movie promoted was that bin Laden's whereabouts were revealed through torture.

A week previous the London Review of Books published a lengthy excerpt of a pending book by New Yorker investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh, where he recounted facts he gleaned from high-level sources that bin Laden had actually been held in house arrest at the residence in Abbottabad, Pakistan by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) since 2006, and was killed in a fake raid. Bin Laden was apparently in poor health at the time of the "raid," and was unable to defend himself.

Hersh also was told that the CIA learned bin Laden's whereabouts from a Pakistani intelligence official in exchange for $25 million. The raid in which bin Laden was killed was done with full-knowledge of the Pakistani army and ISI. The story about him being buried at sea was also false. Body parts were apparently scattered over the Hindu Kush mountains in Pakistan, but even that is not certain. It seems likely that at least some parts of bin Laden's body are interred in a CIA vault somewhere, if for no other reason than to use it for DNA identification of relatives.

What was our government's response to these revelations? Easy. Counter with more lies. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a batch of documents it says were seized in the raid. In a battle of public perception, counter bad propaganda with favorable propaganda. All that matters is fooling the public, and the public is easily fooled. Marcy Wheeler, writing in Salon, showed that the supposed bin Laden library is a sloppy attempt to back up a false story with another false story.

One thing clearly established from these revelations is that Obama, like Bush before him, is a pathological liar. This should come as no surprise, since virtually all politicians are liars. It matters to know this, though, as more lies are presented as truth.

Such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Obama's trade deal, which curiously has more support from "Republicans" than "Democrats." The bill giving the president unlimited authority to negotiate trade agreements just passed the Senate, and moves on to the House of Representatives, where if approved will become the law of the land . Obama claimed it is good for the country, which, since we now know he is a liar, makes it bad for the country. Here's a deeper explanation. This analysis by CNN gives a pretty good summary of the issues involved.

The interesting thing to me in all the conflicting accounts, fabrications, movies and various other propaganda is the underlying psychology. For example, torture. The Bush criminal regime was told in advance of initiating its torture program that it wouldn't work, and that it was illegal. They disregarded the warnings and went ahead full steam with kidnappings ("extraordinary rendition"), secret "black" sites, torture and murder. As the Frontline story showed, the psychologists who advised the program made $180 million.

Jose Padilla being escorted to a dental appointmentTorture of course had been used prior to the rendition program, at Abu Ghraib prison in "Iraq" and with "American" citizen José Padilla, who was unlucky enough to be picked as the domestic terrorist du jour following the "911" attacks. And, of course, the torture training facility for Latin American dictatorships at Fort Benning Georgia, known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly the School of the Americas.

Given the Bush regime's active negligence in advance of the "911" attacks and the theft of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, its two phony wars, its war crimes, including torture, it can safely be said that the prime motivating factor in all its behavior was criminal and sociopathic. Torturers don't torture to get information. As FBI interrogator Ali Soufan explained in the Frontline investigation, more and better information is gleaned by gaining the trust of the person being questioned.

Torture is done for the pleasure of life-and-death power over another human being, for the power to inflict horrible suffering, to terrorize, to dominate, to humiliate and to make dependent. In shamanic terms this is known as soul theft, and it carries severe consequences. In the case of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al., torture also had the benefit of internal and external propaganda - that by torturing they are showing how badly they want to "get the bad guys," when it was actually they who were the bad guys. They could disguise their culpability in allowing the September 11 attacks to happen, and deflect negative public attention from themselves and towards their trumped-up wars. It was most egregious in the "Shock and Awe" invasion of "Iraq" and the subsequent occupation, which by some estimates resulted in the deaths of over a million people.

So the "War on Terror" has been a scam from day one, and really before. People who believe it was all planned in advance are dismissed as "conspiracy theorists." My answer to that is it matters little what planning or ineptitude took place before the September 11 attacks.

What does matter is that the Bush regime committed crimes - many of them - and they were crimes of the most serious kind: negligence in the face of dire warnings of impending attacks, lying the country into war, illegal occupations of two countries; murders of many thousands of innocent civilians; kidnapping of at least 136 innocent people in the extraordinary rendition program; establishment of an illegal prison on foreign soil in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where additional kidnapped prisoners were detained, and which is still in operation; fake prosecutions of  "American" citizens in showcase FBI entrapments; unwarranted spying on "American" citizens; and last but not least, lying about all these activities.

Equally important to the crimes of the Bush regime is that they got away with it. We have a system of impunity for those at the top, whether it is in government or business. The current presidential regime is better only by degree, not kind.

What can the average citizen do in the face of such criminality at the top? It's a daunting task, but a good place to start is to not believe a word they say - not one word - about anything. They may tell the truth on occasion, but it is only to serve a bigger lie. Obama is now saying that climate change is a national security imperative, which of course it is, but what does it mean at this point in his presidency? He has a year-and-a-half left in office. The time to call it a national security imperative was on January 20, 2009, in his inauguration speech. He's too late with too little, and he can't be trusted to actually do anything.

So we are on our own. We have to do it ourselves. We are heading into another of our slapstick comedies known as the presidential election. The professed candidates are all clowns, likely sociopaths, except Bernie Sanders. I'm waiting for Jim Webb to announce his candidacy. He's not a sociopath, and he is a man of integrity. He also stands little chance of winning, but if people get fed up enough with the current crop of candidates, maybe that will change.

In the largest sense, though, what happens on this planet is infinitesimally small in the grand scheme of things. When all seems hopeless at the most superficial level I ultimately refer back to the spiritual, and trust that the fate of the Universe is following along a path of higher consciousness, as has been told by countless enlightened beings throughout history.

From this perspective it is absurd to think that the future of humankind can be determined or made extinct by the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney or Barack Obama (or any number of lesser personages on the national and world scene, too many to name). The mere fact that such people squander such an opportunity as "the most powerful man on Earth" is actually evidence of their weakness, not their strength. Understanding their crimes as weakness should give us strength, and serve as a guide in our daily activities.

Here's a song. Here's another. And this. Here's one for the makers of Zero Dark Thirty. You can play along with the chords and lyrics. This is the original. Here's a guitar lesson.

Here's an update about the TPP, where a senator explains what is harmful about the deal.

Journalist and former Carter Administration official Hodding Carter has announced his support for Edward Snowden and his exposure of government secrets.

Here's a list of the items in Osama bin Laden's "bookshelf." It reads like a dream sheet of people the CIA would like to torture.