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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, July 21, 2015

Legacy of Shame

A guy was arrested in Madison a week ago after assaulting a woman who was walking along a bike path. It didn't take long to catch him, since he was easily identified by a tattoo on his face that surrounds his right eye. He also was caught on camera in the area around the time of the attack.

It seems almost comical that someone would commit any crime when he has such an identifying characteristic, but it's pretty obvious criminals don't think that way. They think they are going to get away with whatever crime they are committing. The attacker in Madison is an extreme example, but maybe not as extreme as we might think. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of their gang lied the country into one war for sure, and likely the one previous. We know they lied about their claims that "Iraq" had weapons of mass destruction. They also lied about torturing prisoners. They thought they would get away with their crimes, and they did.

It can be said from this comparison that the Bush criminal organization is far more sophisticated than Donovan Stone, and also that it had and still has considerable power to fend off investigations of its criminal activities. Everyone in the Bush gang is as easy to identify as Donovan Stone, the tattooed attacker in Madison. Holding public office is like a big facial tattoo when one is committing crimes. All it takes is a justice system that actually prosecutes such criminals. We don't have one. They're too big to fail.

There is much to be learned from this. Similar to the impunity of banksters and the top 1% of income and wealth accumulators, the very top in terms of power and position in politics/government can get away with just about anything - mass murder, kidnapping, torture, indefinite detention, large-scale destruction, theft of resources, government overthrow, poisoning of environments, spying on citizens, and creating a national security state to, among other things, insure their impunity.

Bush is only the most recent and flagrant of political criminals. Ever since the crimes of Richard Nixon and associates the "Republican" party has engaged, through enactment of laws and in various executive and judicial actions to accumulate power and wealth to the already wealthy, to establish a worldwide military and economic empire, and to insure that those at the top are never held responsible for their crimes.

An article in yesterday's Salon explains how voter suppression is a key strategy in securing "Republican" hold on power. Another article in Salon yesterday describes how mythmaking has been used since the time of Nixon to combine lying with dire warnings of apocalyptic doom. Absent in any of their strategies is the intention to do anything to help ordinary people or to make the country a better place to live. Instead, what we have been given are Nixon, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. Four terrible presidents. The terrible Supreme Court and Federal Court appointments during their presidencies include Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito. "Republican" majorities in Congress have done their own damage, supporting these terrible presidents in their various criminal schemes. Had Richard Nixon had majorities in both houses of Congress he wouldn't have been removed from office.

I don't mean to exalt the "Democrats." They are as dependent on bribes, er, campaign donations from corporations and Wall Street bankers as are "Republicans." Bill Clinton gave us NAFTA, CAFTA, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the extension of the sanctions against "Iraq," including extensive bombing, welfare "reform" and triangulation - standing for nothing - as a way of winning elections. He wasn't all bad, and certainly not as bad as any of the "Republicans," but he did much harm. Jimmy Carter supported the brutal Shah in "Iran" when he was about to be overthrown. Obama has his drone attacks.

How much harm has the Bush regime done? If the 2000 election hadn't been stolen there would have been no President Bush II, no active negligence that enabled the September 11 attacks, no invasions and occupations of "Afghanistan" and "Iraq," no kidnapping, torture, Guantanamo, drones, and likely no economic collapse of 2008, and no too big to fail banks.

And no ISIS. The gutting and disorder that resulted from the invasion and occupation of "Iraq" inspired the "insurgency," which then branched off into the "Islamic State."

There also may not have been the shooting in Chattanooga last week, except that may have had more to do with our support of "Israel" than the fiasco in "Iraq." Maybe it was the overall debacle in the Mideast. The shooter, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, was depressed. He had recently visited "Jordan," and may have become radicalized there. He had been treated for depression since age 13, and it may have been at least partly due to "American" xenophobia of Muslims and people from Arabic countries. One can only wonder how different his life might have been if there were no Bush presidency, I or II.

Had there been no Nixon presidency with his "Southern Strategy," and the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II presidencies, there is a good likelihood that the shooting deaths in Charleston, South Carolina last month also would not have happened. All of these presidents played on racial tensions and animosities by employing their own versions of the Southern Strategy. One of the effects of this enabling of racism was to perpetuate and validate attitudes and behavior toward African Americans that have persisted since the days of slavery.

Now that the supposed Confederate flag has been removed from the South Carolina State Capitol we can take some satisfaction that decades of intransigence in the American South has been broken. It is unfortunate it had to be after such a tragic shooting. It could have happened a lot sooner had there not been these "Republican" presidents with their Southern Strategies.

The effects of race-based political strategies on society as a whole are worthy of mention. In racist-friendly social context the vast majority of people gravitate towards the mean, or most conventional norms of society. If you look at the whole society in terms of a normal curve, 95% of people live within two standard deviations of the mean. The more alienated from the mainstream people are the farther from the mean they exist. Out in the "tails" of the population distribution are various malcontents, eccentrics, nonconformists, and in some cases religious fanatics and extremists of various kinds, including religious warriors and supremacists of one kind or another.

In the case of Dylann Roof, the Charleston shooter, he appears to be mentally unstable, another subset of the population who is fair game for extremist organizers. Various arguments have been presented about whether he is mentally ill or is a white supremacist hate criminal, as if he has to be one or the other. He's the guy who killed nine people in a church. He doesn't have to fit into our preconceived, binary categories. Indeed, it can be argued that anyone who wants to start a race war is mentally unstable. A question worth asking is how much he was influenced by race-based "Republican" strategies to win public office.

A different approach is called for. Change the entire probability distribution - the normal curve of society. The mean we have settled on accepts institutional racism, the prison industrial complex, empire, doing nothing about climate change, a near-completely corrupt political system, a corporatocracy that gives impunity to criminals who do murderous harm here and elsewhere around the planet, and a cultural orthodoxy that makes the bread and circuses of the Roman Empire look bland by comparison. The extremes we see are the extremes of THIS distribution of society. We can insist on battling and/or eliminating every extreme that presents itself, or, we can change our vast mainstream of society. It is more likely to reap positive results, but takes a deeper look. Part of our malaise is the inability to take a deeper look.

We can start by removing as many "Republicans" from public office as possible, and not electing any new ones. They not only enable racism, but are obstructionist about anything that is good for the general public. It is also no coincidence that "Republicans" are giving support to climate change deniers, and are indeed the loudest voices in pretending it is all a hoax. As we have seen with their emotion-based, race-baiting, corporate-impunity scheming, there is a power gathering criminality to their intentions. They have become a scourge upon the land.

While we're at it, we might want to take away their impunity.
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R.I.P. Omar Sharif. Here's his most iconic scene.

R.I.P. E.L. Doctorow. Great guy. Great writer. Ragtime is one of my favorite books (and movies). He was very eloquent in his opposition to the Bush criminal regime. Here's an interview with him on NPR's Fresh Air from 1989.

R.I.P Theodore Bikel.  When I first became interested in folk music he was was on shows like Hootenanny and others I can't remember the names of. He sang folk songs from around the world, in their own languages.

Here's a song (words and chords here).  Here's another (words and chords here).  And another (words and chords here).

Sean Illing of Salon believes we should shut down the "Republican" party, calling it deeply unserious.

"Republican" presidential candidate Donald Trump is in the news a lot these days, insulting everyone from immigrants to other "Republicans." My view of his antics are summed up in the following comment to this article.

Heh. The "Republicans" are being hoisted on their own petard. They have benefited from trash talkers like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly for decades. In 2004 they took it a step farther with the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," who lied about John Kerry's war record in the presidential race, damaging him enough that it likely cost him the presidency.

Trump is taking it another step farther - attacking "Republicans." He is appealing to the same element that Fox, Limbaugh and others have been doing. The way the "Republicans" respond will be instructive about their character and fitness to be president, but they all know that trash talking is what keeps the "Republican" party viable. This "race" is getting more fun every day.

And, regarding McCain, he did something heroic in surviving five years as a prisoner of war. Heroism is momentary. It is not a permanent status. Nobody gets to be a hero for life. His performance in the U.S. Senate certainly hasn't been heroic. He did something unheroic in the Keating Five scandal. Wouldn't that make him an unhero for life?

As for Trump, he never served his country. He's a huckster. Huckster is not a qualification for the presidency. A huckster who never served his country and disrespects the service of a combat veteran is unqualified to be Commander in Chief.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do not know this but Donovan Stone has very, very serious mental health issues. He is under a commitment so he would get treatment. The mental health complex in Milwaukee and the police did nothing to help him even though there were more than 100 phone calls to them pleading for help. Apparently, he has rights even though he has serious mental health issues - he has no ability to think straight and is long gone and cannot function in society. He was homeless, attacked, beat up, no money, no clothes, no food, nothing. Why would our society let them happen even though everyone else knew something was going to happen?. Donovan's dad died before he was born and his mom was a drug addict/alcoholic. No siblings; nothing. No one tried to guide or teach him. He turned to drugs. He doesn't have a violent background.

7/27/2015 6:18 PM  
Blogger John Hamilton said...

I don't give much credence to anonymous comments. It is pretty obvious he is not entirely sane, but mental health problems or not, anyone who hides and sexually assaults an unsuspecting victim has enough working intelligence to intend, plan and execute the plan. If he is "under a commitment" that would tend to mean he is confined somewhere, and likely would have been at the time of the attack.

Regardless of his circumstance, the point of what I wrote is the wide discrepancy between the culpability for Donovan Stone's crime and the vastly greater harm done to people, property and the land by George W. Bush and his cronies. Donovan Stone will spend a long time under lock and key, but the Bush criminal regime gets away clean.

I assume that Donovan Stone will receive many years of mental health care, now that he has entered the criminal justice system. Maybe he can reach some semblance of peace and functionality in life. In that sense he is better off than the members of the Bush criminal regime, who are remorseless sociopaths who will not find any peace in this life, though they may pretend so.

7/30/2015 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Update: check WCCA - Donovan will finally get the help he needs. Sad it took so long. He was on a commitment and very, very sick but released in the past even though he should have been in treatment. The system failed. The laws need to be changed If the system was better, this would not have happened. So sad for the young lady but it's good he didn't rape her; it didn't go that far and he ran away. The system is overloaded. Why don't you write about the many homeless people in Madison? Take pictures and make it a critical issue. Many live and sleep right outside of the Capitol and also the state office building. Obviously, all of these people have some type of mental illness and need help. Just like Donovan since that is where he was hanging out. Scott Walker and the state officials should be ashamed that they don't do something to help these people especially since they see them every day and walk right by people sleeping in the garden, side of buildings and sitting in front of state office buildings? I can't believe how many of them are there. Hello there!!! This is unacceptable, especially in America How can we let this happened? It's a sin. These people are at the bottom of our society and don't know how to help themselves and sadly many have given up on them. How can we ignore these people and let them sleep and live outside? We need to help them. It's not right. There are many good people who are trying to help but there are so many self-centered, angry, selfish people who only think of themselves and don't know what it's like to be poor and have no family or support. Why don't you do something more honorable and write about how we can change this in our society? Don't judge people unless you really know the facts and what the issues are. Mental illness is very complex and sad. As a society, if we don't do more to really address it, it will cost all of us more money and more crime. Very immature and disrespectful that you put a tattoo on a former president's face. How does that help our society? You should be ashamed. Since you obviously have time on your hands why don't you try to do good, be a role model, be a hero, and make a positive change in our society rather than adding to the negative hate in this world. Maybe try to mentor those young men who live in poor neighborhoods and are on the wrong path and will end up like Donovan? Are you too afraid to try that? There are many young people like Donovan who would love to have a mentor, someone to help them and show them how to have a good future. Wouldn't that help our society? What if we didn't have homeless people? Wouldn't that be nice? Good luck with your efforts to help make our world better.

8/29/2015 9:24 AM  
Blogger John Hamilton said...

Your writing style is familiar, and likely all made up, not worth bothering with. Like I said before, I merely used his crime and likeness to point out the difference in how the law deals with those at the bottom and the more serious criminals at the top.

One thing you might try is using paragraphs. That way your writing wouldn't be such a dead giveaway. And, as I have said elsewhere, follow the advice of William Shatner: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/trekkies/n9511

9/09/2015 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comment doesn't make sense; that is, that it's made up.

9/16/2015 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope you got the chance to hear the wonderful messages the Pope shared on his visit. He cares and encourages us to help the homeless, the disabled and the less fortunate. He gives hope and encourages us to be better and think of others. He is sharing love. He didn't criticize or bully anyone. He is the leader our country and the world needs. I encourage you to add more good in the world rather than writing such negative stories that only add more hate and anger to our world. Please remove the mean photos you put on your site. You don't know me. If you did you would know that I would send you blessings with kindness. I'm Donovan's aunt - I've tried to help him and I'm sad I couldn't do more to help him. You don't know him. No one else cares about him. Isn't that sad? Our world can be cruel but my faith in God gives me hope and strength to continue to do good and help others. I will not give in to hate or negativity. I'm stronger than that. I wish that for you too. Be nice and do good. Remember, God sees everything. Peace.

9/26/2015 9:07 AM  
Blogger John Hamilton said...

I was looking through old comments, and this series of course came up. I don't believe you are this guy's aunt or any other relative, or even female. Or know him at all. You might be someone I know, though. Anonymous people in Madison don't come to this blog. Heh. Like I said before, the writing style is familiar. You might be curious as to why I haven't deleted these comments. Leave your name next time and it will all become clear.

12/26/2015 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous is defending a rapist who is not incapable of destroying the lives of women and their families... That says it all. Pathetic. There is no excuse, no defense and those who stand by violence and violation are most likely equally as, if not more, unfit for decent, civil human society.
I pity you, Anonymous. I hope he gets death penalty along with every other perpetrator of capital crime violations against women and those syndrome affected supporters of psychopaths.

Women are getting sick and tired of men behaving worse than any animal and then crying victim themselves. Women aren't raping men. Women don't seem to suffer these kinds of "mental illnesses". What is wrong with these men today> NO personality. No self sufficiency. No respect.

Men are barely men at all anymore and they lack the character to change this.
I live in South Africa, we are the most raped women in the world today and we are all sick of it -

and to you, Americans, think twice before wasting tax payers money "rehabilitating", institutionalizing or incarcerating your least deserving criminals; because even a slow death is more humane than any act of rape.

Signed,
Outraged

12/26/2016 12:26 PM  

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