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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, July 30, 2016

Ain't Democracy Great?

So the "Russians" are responsible for hacking the "Democratic" National Committee's emails, as some would have us think. The emails, released by Wikileaks, show the DNC's bias during the presidential primary season, planting informants in the Bernie Sanders campaign, trying to dig up dirt on him, sundry other mischief. According to one writer, this revelation is bigger than Watergate. Worse for whom, one might ask. Worse for the Democratic" National Committee, we can assume. Worse for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the departed chair of the DNC. Worse for Hillary Clinton, who is again shown to be untrustworthy.

But good for the rest of us. We are finding out on an almost daily basis how thoroughly corrupt and venal our political "leaders" are, and how the system is rigged for the wealthy and powerful. Perfect evidence of this is that the various "Democratic" offenders and fellow-travelers showed no contrition for rigging the nomination. Instead they tried to shift the attention to Russian president Vladimir Putin, ominously trying to build a case to take some action against him. Should Hillary Clinton become our next president, we can expect some kind of shenanigans to take place. Let's hope it's not World War III. She has never met a war she didn't like, including future wars.

Curiously, I was watching TV last Sunday evening, and PBS's Frontline aired a rerun of its expose on Putin. It's pretty damning, suggesting he is a thug and a tyrant, and likely came into power as a result of a burning of the Reichstag-type bombing of two apartment buildings. Frontline normally is not shown on Wisconsin Public Television on Sundays, but made an exception for the Putin rerun. I wonder what might have prompted PBS and WPT on the night before the "Democratic" party convention to show this condemnation of Russia's president. Could it be that someone wanted to pre-empt the email scandal by slamming Putin and setting the stage for blaming him for hacking the DNC? If so, it was a mighty weak attempt. Hardly anyone watches PBS on a Sunday evening, and few of those who do would not be inclined to watch a repeat of an old show, no matter how enticing.

Except me, apparently. Though I was hoping to see Austin City Limits, I kept watching while this program went through the litany of crimes supposedly committed by Putin. Maybe he is responsible for the apartment bombings of 1999. Maybe he has murdered dissidents and opponents, and committed other crimes. The "U.S." and European countries enacted economic sanctions against Russia in 2014 over its intervention in Ukraine. A writer in Slate claims that if Putin could design the perfect candidate to undermine American "interests" it would be Donald Trump.

Just for a little balance, the Bush criminal regime planned on invading and occupying Iraq since before the 2000 "election." All they needed was an excuse. Voila, "911." How handy.

The "Bigger than Watergate" writer in Salon claims the DNC hack puts our national sovereignty at stake, because a foreign power can influence the outcome of our 1% "election." Spare me. Our government and private individuals have never shown much respect for the sovereignty of other countries, so what's the big surprise when someone else doesn't respect ours?  And the rich in this country have never shown any hesitation to subvert and control the democratic process, bending it to their will with campaign donations, bribes, junkets and undermining of campaigns, such as that of Bernie Sanders.

I responded to the "Bigger than Watergate" claim thusly:

Try again. Worse than Watergate. Worse than Benedict Arnold. Worse than Alger Hiss. Worse than Aldrich Ames. The Rosenbergs. Robert Hanssen. John Wilkes Booth.

How about what's good for the goose is good for the gander? The "U.S." has been involved in the politics of other countries for at least my entire life, and for decades before. The war against Spain was an interference with the government of Cuba, colonial though it was. The Vietnam War was an interference in the government of Vietnam, which started with preventing elections by Dwight D. Eisenhower, and continued to the killing of 3 to 5 million people in three countries, and led to the killing fields of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, which wouldn't have even existed had we minded our own business.

There were smaller invasions and interferences, such as the invasions of Grenada and Panama, done for spurious reasons by Reagan and Bush I. There were assassinations, overthrows and impositions of dictatorships in such places as Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, pretty much all of South America, the Philippines, Iran, Iraq, and who knows where else in the Mideast. The various dictatorships in Egypt couldn't exist without "U.S." backing.

Then there is the fiasco in Libya. Another fiasco in Somalia. Yemen. Afghanistan. Iraq, again and again. The CIA had a hand in installing Saddam Hussain. Then he "went off the reservation," but assassinating and/or overthrowing him wasn't enough. We had to invade, occupy and decimate the country.

So the big bad Russians have hacked a political party's computers. Those big bad Russians. Who do they think they are? They are worse than Watergate.

Keep this guy in mind when you are in need of a propaganda lesson. What better place to plant a mole than Salon?
So what's a poor boy to do? Some Bernie delegates have decided they aren't going to take it, and have taken to the streets and to Twitter, with a new organization and hashtag, #Demexit. Maybe they'll make a difference. Maybe a big difference. They have nothing to lose. They already lost at the convention, having the presidential nomination swept out from under them by the "Democratic" party. Who needs the Russians when we can undermine ourselves and our democracy without any help from outside powers. Bernie delegates booed Senator Elizabeth Warren last week, yelling "We trusted you." They could say the same for Bernie Sanders.

I met Bernie Sanders once. It was right here in Madison, in 1995, at a small fundraiser for his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives, hosted by Ed Garvey, longtime "Progressive" activist. Sanders has had "leftist" connections in Madison for decades. He was rude and abrupt. I was unimpressed, not knowing much about him. I voted for him in the Wisconsin primary this year, though. I liked his policy proposals and his courage in running, but still remembered his rudeness. I passed it off as his Brooklyn upbringing, but there was something crudely arrogant about his manner when I met him. I wasn't particularly surprised when he caved to the pressure from the DNC to back Hillary Clinton. Politics always makes strange bedfellows, and it is far easier for politicians to abandon their supporters than their careers.

So here we are, with the two putrid candidates the major parties have chosen for us. As for Trump, I believe, as has been reported, that he is in the early stage of dementia, and will drop out of the race before the election. My prediction is late August. If you look at what he is saying now and what it is likely to become in just a few weeks, he will not be able to maintain his composure or health much longer.

Look for Mike Pence to take over as nominee, with a new VP nominee appointed, ala Sargent Shriver. If this happens, Mike Pence will be our next president. Ain't democracy great?
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Here's a song. Here's another. And another. This too, for the umpteenth time. And, of course, this. I have avoided using this song, but it has come roaring back with new meaning.

This song by Iris Dement comes up for me from time-to-time.

Here's a song for Donald Trump when he quits. Here's one for him now.

This song is for #Demexit. Nonviolent of course. Here's another. This too. This song might provide a little inspiration.

Here's some more Peter Tosh. This too. Bob Marley. Another by Bob Marley. Still more Bob Marley. And this. One more from Peter Tosh. Here's the Neville Brothers.

Here's some news about #Demexit. As it turns out, the DNC paid people to fill seats at the convention, in lieu of Bernie Sanders delegates.

Here's a little more information about "U.S."  involvement in the Mideast. This is a list of "U.S." involvement in Latin America. Also this. And this map of "U.S." Latin America interventions.

Hint: If you click on any of the Salon links, it might crash your browser. Salon has become a clickbait site, jam-packed with enticements to look at the ten-best of something or other, famous people who have disappeared, former stars who don't look so good now. You may have to have an ad-block app installed, or do a reader view.
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At Ed Garvey's victory party in 1998. He may not have won the election, but he won the battle of integrity.I should elaborate a bit on when I met Bernie Sanders. It was in November 1995, and the fundraiser was at the home of Ed Garvey, local Madison attorney and "Progressive," "Liberal," and/or "leftist" activist of many years standing. He had been the executive director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), guiding the organization through two strikes during his twelve year tenure.

Garvey's home was in the Shorewood Hills neighborhood of Madison, the wealthiest and most exclusive part of the city, being 91% "white." The village has its own police force. I was invited to the fundraiser likely because I had donated money (in extremely small amounts) to the Senate campaign of Russ Feingold and to the mayoral campaign of Paul Soglin. You get on mailing lists when you donate to politicians. I donated $25 to Bernie Sanders, which got me in the door.

Madison's "leftist" establishment was at this gathering, and the hobnobbing was intense and pecking-ordered. I was a complete unknown, not even in the pecking-order, and only one person would talk to me - Madison's long-serving state senator Fred Risser. He was very gracious and humble, unlike everyone else at the meeting. Jerks. I crossed paths with Bernie Sanders passing between rooms. I shook hands with him and wished him luck in his run for the U.S. Congress.

He couldn't be bothered, and was both unfriendly and dismissive, couldn't get away from me fast enough. In fairness to all these jerks, they may have thought I was a "Republican" "mole." I had only lived in Madison for two years at the time, and was not involved in politics or a member of any of their toothless organizations. I still am not a member of any of their toothless organizations, though I was a member of the local chapter of Veterans for Peace for a couple of meaningless years (Organize a bunch of men who have one thing in common - military service - and put it in Madison, Wisconsin, and, heh, you get Life of Brian on steroids. Or, more accurately, drink.).

That was it, my encounter with Bernie Sanders, man of the people, though not of the person. He did some good with his run for the presidency, and I voted for him in the primary election, but I didn't expect much. His explanation of his opposition to gun control was pretty lame, and he sounded naive about foreign affairs, advocating, among other things, "destroying" "ISIS." He laid a groundwork for the next un-corporate candidate, though, and deserves the nation and the world's gratitude. Maybe I'll get a chance to meet him again. I might be abrupt and dismissive.
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Something else I should mention about the Bernie Sanders fundraiser is that the only women present were Ed Garvey's wife and adult daughter. So it was a guys party. I would say "the old boys' network," except the only office-holder was Fred Risser. It was basically hangers-on, the kind of people who loiter on the fringes of political activities and events, keeping themselves noticed and available, should a campaign need some hangers-on.

One of the hangers-on was a guy who pops up on local TV and radio from time-to-time, an "outsider" historian of Madison - in the sense of outsider art - someone not academically credentialed, but, hey, how hard is it to write about Madison?  Even this guy, who has a penchant for running against Fred Risser in primary elections, didn't see me as worthy of the pecking order. I enjoyed voting against him, and likely will enjoy it again.
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Here's something insightful from former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.
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Update, August 5: I started a hashtag for Trump dropping out of the "race" - #Trumpexit . Feel free use it and spread it around.

Here's something new about our sleaze "Democratic" candidate and her propaganda battle with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Here's an update on Trump's mental state.
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Update, August 6: I should have made the hashtag #Trexit. Here's a song for a couple of manly bureaucrats at the Madison Public Library. Here's another.
I found a new band, The Deep Dark Woods.

I thought I invented the hashtag #Trumpexit. I didn't. This morning I realized #Trexit would be much better. Someone else came up with that too. Then it occurred to me that #Hilexit would be a good one. Someone else beat me to that too. There is nothing new under the Sun.
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Update, August 10: Calls for a factual report on Donald Trump's medical condition are increasing.

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