Tuesday, May 29, 2007

America's problem in a nutshell

Comment from ssegalmd on the article "Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis":
As with almost all American problems, the problem is not that we don't know what to do or that we need answers. The problem is that all solutions cuts into corporate profits, and that is sacrilege in America. It's just not going to happen with Democrats and Republicans in power.

As long as people continue to view our American problems as an unexpected problem occurring in a democracy, instead of like the plan and intent of the corporatocracy, they will be wasting their time.

The reason the system doesn't work isn't because nobody knows how to fix it. It's because we are prevented from fixing it by the health care industry and its puppet government.

This problem cannot be solved as long as the present Democratic-Republican corporatocracy remains in power, and that's the rest of my life. If you want better health care, try a better country.

The root of which Dr. Swain in Peyton Place soliloquyed:
“We’re a small town, but we’re a prosperous one—and yet we allow tarpaper shacks to stand. We have half a dozen churches which most of you attend—and then don’t practice the work they preach once you walk down the steps. We have a fine school that you take for granted. We have a newspaper with a most intelligent editorial page—which you use for wrapping garbage. It’s time you people woke up. Perhaps today is the day that you will, because there’s something much bigger than the tragedy of Selena Cross on trial here—our indifference, our failure as a community to watch over one another, to know who needs help and to give it.”—Dr. Swain’s passionate courtroom testimony; the movie is finally not so much about sex as about social responsibility.
Which Marley very succintly stated in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol":
Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!

American Empire: The Government of Corruption

Keith Olbermann: Our generation's Edward R. Murrow.
The Entire Government Has Failed Us On Iraq

Dennis Kucinich on how and why it failed us on Iraq.

Bill Moyers, the true conscience of democracy, on how we have gotten to be so rotten.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The coup d'etat--time to duck and cover

It sure didn't take long for my feelings/suspicions to be confirmed from my post below on The manufacturing of terror.

Bush Anoints Himself as Ensurer of Constitutional Government in Emergency
With scarcely a mention in the mainstream media, President Bush has ordered up a plan for responding to a catastrophic attack. Under that plan, he entrusts himself with leading the entire federal government, not just the executive branch.

I followed the links. My initial reaction to NSPD 51 was about the same as when I saw the towers go down--disbelief. To be honest, I'm having a hard time with the veracity of this directive. However, given my experiences going to the county EMS meetings on being prepared for a mass evacuation or something else of the kind needing to move the people of whole counties under the guise of being prepared for pandemic flu (or some other major catastrophe or attack), I am very inclined to believe this.

Add to this my post from a couple days ago and the link to another nuclear story, and then throw in this report Fiery Hell On Earth #795 and its looking its time to bring on Armageddon.

Aside from all the seeming tinfoil hat stuff going on, let's just say I'd much rather be thought a fool than be proved right on any of this.

Regardless, the very idea that that president of the United States of America would cross the line and put into law all power to himself is supposed to be beyond the scope of what this country stands for. I hope the importance of this directive is not lost on anyone who cares about our country remaining a democracy.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Summer of Love

Social critic and professor Theodore Roszak wrote The Making of a Counter Culture in 1968.

Theodore Roszak

I don't think the Summer of Love left any blueprints behind on how to build a better world. It was much more a showcase for enjoyment, for happiness, for freedom, as people understood it then. But if you probe to the underlying values of displays like that, protests like that, you can perhaps see the seeds of a better social order than the one we're living in now.

[If the ideals of the Sixties had prevailed], it would be a world, where people lived gently on the planet without the sense that they have to exploit nature or make war upon nature in order to find basic security. It would be a simpler way of life, less urban, less consumption-oriented, and much more concerned about spiritual values, about companionship, friendship, community. Community was one of the great words of this period, getting together with other people, solving problems, enjoying one another's company, sharing ideas, values, insights.

And if that's not what life is all about, if that's not what the wealth is for, then we are definitely on the wrong path.

There isn't any question that the 60s left a huge mark in the history of America. It was a watershed event and we have been forever changed by it. The question remains however, where will these changes lead? Will it be a better future or a darker future? And what part shall we play in that future? What responsibility do we have today to make the kind of future we would all want?

Friday, May 18, 2007

The manufactering of terror

Charles Perrow at the HuffPost puts to rest the likelihood of an external nuclear terrorist attack. Without a massive amount of logistics and state sponsorship the threat has a snowball's chance of being carried out.

However, in a post below is a link to what the U.S. Government is doing to prepare for just such an event. The question I have is why are they so keen about it? The only reason I can think of is that the manufactured scare of mushroom clouds on American soil is but a ruse to institute martial law and complete the coup d'etat begun with Ronald Reagan and ending with the election of George W. Bush.

Now they are looking to ensure that the grip of empire is tightened so that when the real shit hits the fan with peak oil, peak soil, and global heating, that they and they alone are guaranteed survival against the masses that would guillotine them if we had such instruments. They want to de-populate the earth and totally enslave what's left so that they will be the undisputed rulers of all of earth.

To which I say, the more they tighten their grip, the more will slip through their fingers.

To catch a predator?

Chris Hansen with Dateline on MSNBC does these stings on alleged sexual predators. I say alleged because from what I can tell these guys are more like opportunists instead of true predators. The online world is full of everyone. Most of them are lonely and bored out of their skulls. The "predators" on the show are all men. Rather sexist that, although it has been my experience as a female that nearly all men are obsessed with sex, not as a mental illness, but because they are biologically hardwired that way.

That said, there is no excuse for these guys to be showing up at a kid's house.

But what bothers me about this story is the same thing that bothers me about what happened at Virginia Tech. These things are all symptoms of a dysfunctional society. The online world just exacerbates the mass unreality our society breeds and lives in. The source of this dysfunction and delusion is in the culture which then uses TV, it's utterly depraved programming, and its muli-billion dollar psy-ops in advertising to transmit a set of values that are decidely and inherently anti-social. Tie this in with red-blooded males looking for any opportunity to have sex and gee, guess what, you're going to find a lot of guys willing to show up for it.

I especially disagree with the decoy egging the guys to come over. To use the ruse of a willing female of a very young age being persistent and deliberately enticing is wrong. Two wrongs don't make a right. I consider this entrapment.

True predators are different than simple opportunists. Predators are the ones who are persistent. They look for likely and unwary targets, probing for weaknesses, and persisting against shyness by exploiting a young person's curiosity. And like rape being about power and not sex, predators are also about power. The only way to know if these men are in fact predators or possible rapists is to see how they behave with the girl or boy and whether they would take "no" for an answer. For the allegations of the sting to stick, true intent must be evident. This was not established in what I saw. What I saw were horny guys hoping to "get lucky." Such opportunities in real life have always been slim, so if the internet provides a greater chance of "getting lucky" then who isn't going to jump at it?

Oh, as for the pictures these guys send, hm...let's say that seeing what your getting is not such a bad thing. BUT, and this is a huge BUT, sending pix to underage kids is taboo! The shame these guys exhibit when confronted with what they thought they shared in private via a computer screen and an internet connection shows that they are not so depraved as they are depicted in the program. Such things are far more rare in real life for the very reason that real life is dealing with the physical world where the internet does not. In other words, it is far harder for men to scam on 13 year old girls in real life because the physical reality of it kicks in the normal taboos against such behavior. But the non-physical world of the internet is able to bypass all the normal real world taboos. What happens then is that the fantasy of the online world is carried into the real world with the hope of the fantasy being made real, which it usually isn't. Such is the nature of desire and its traps.

While there are indeed genuine threats to personal safety at the individual level, the real predators--those who prey on the entire American public--are nowhere in Chris Hansen's reports.

[Note to self: Public virtue and private vice. There are different types of vice. Some are genuinely taboo. Others, not so much. The online world blurs the line between inner fantasy and outer reality and America is not capable of dealing with it until it gets its values and culture sorted out and re-priortized. The legislature has to begin the process by actually serving the greater public interest. As the Great Learning teaches, "It cannot be, when the root is neglected that what should spring from it will be well ordered." ]

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A bit of news

Norwegian company to pump Iraqi oil
At least one company is getting the oil.

Can you spare a drop of water?
Global climate changes leave some places dry.

Did we learning nothing from the Cuban missile crisis?
Contingencies for nuclear terrorist attack:
Government and military officials has been quietly preparing an emergency survival program that would include the building of bomb shelters, steps to prevent panicked evacuations and the possible suspension of some civil liberties.

The mother of all blowbacks

From Information Clearing House:

Ron Paul on Blowback

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

05/17/07 "
Ludwig von Mises Institute" -- - Plenty of reasonable people can disagree about foreign policy. What's really strange is when one reasonable position is completely and forcibly excluded from the public debate.

Such was the case after 9-11. Every close observer of the events of those days knows full well that these crimes were acts of revenge for US policy in the Muslim world. The CIA and the 911 Commission said as much, the terrorists themselves proclaimed it, and Osama underscored the point by naming three issues in particular: US troops in Saudi Arabia, US sanctions against Iraq, and US funding of Israeli expansionism.

So far as I know, Ron Paul is the only prominent public figure in the six years since who has given an honest telling of this truth. The explosive exchange occurred during the Republican Presidential debate in South Carolina.

Ron was asked if he really wants the troops to come home, and whether that is really a Republican position.

"Well," he said, "I think the party has lost its way, because the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a noninterventionist foreign policy. Senator Robert Taft didn't even want to be in NATO. George Bush won the election in the year 2000 campaigning on a humble foreign policy –no nation-building, no policing of the world. Republicans were elected to end the Korean War. The Republicans were elected to end the Vietnam War. There's a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them."

He was then asked if 9-11 changed anything. He responded that US foreign policy was a "major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attacked us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East –I think Reagan was right. We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. "

And then out of the blue, he was asked whether we invited the attacks.

"I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, 'I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier.' They have already now since that time –have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary."

Then the very archetype of the State Enforcer popped up to shout him down.

"That's really an extraordinary statement," said Rudy Giuliani. "That's an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th."

Now, this is interesting because it is obvious that Ron never said that we invited the attacks. This was a lie. He said the US foreign policy was a "contributing factor" in why they attacked us, a fact which only a fool or a liar could deny. Guiliani then went on to say that he has never "heard that before" –a statement that testifies to the extent of the blackout on this question.

Ron Paul was invited to respond, and concluded as follows:

"I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if we were –if other foreign countries were doing that to us?"

Wow, he broke the great taboo in American political life! Why this should be a taboo at all is unclear, but there it is. But now that it is finally out in the open, this shocking theory that the terrorists were not merely freedom-hating madmen but perhaps had some actual motive for their crime, let's think a bit more about it.

It is a normal part of human experience that if you occupy, meddle, bully, and coerce, people who are affected by it all are going to get angry. You don't have to be Muslim to get the point. The problem is that most of the American people simply have no idea what has been happening in the last ten years. Most Americans think that America the country is much like their own neighborhood: peaceful, happy, hard working, law abiding. So when you tell people that the US is actually something completely different, they are shocked.

Why would anyone hate us? The problem is that the military wing of the US government is very different from your neighborhood. After the Soviet Union crashed, US elites declared themselves masters of the universe, the only "indispensable nation" and the like. All countries must ask the US for permission to have a nuclear program. If we don't like your government, we can overthrow it. Meanwhile, we sought a global empire unlike any in history: not just a sphere of interest but the entire world. Laurence Vance has the details but here is the bottom line: one-third of a million deployed troops in 134 countries in 1000 locations in foreign countries.

All during the 1990s, the US attempted to starve the population of Iraq, with the result of hundreds of thousands of deaths. Madelyn Albright said on national television that the deaths of 500,000 children (the UN's number) was "worth it" in order to achieve our aims, which were ostensibly the elimination of non-existent, non-US built weapons of mass destruction. Yes, that annoyed a few people. There were constant bombings in Iraq all these years. And let us not forget how all this nonsense began: the first war in 1991 was waged in retaliation for a US-approved Iraqi invasion of its former province, Kuwait. Saddam had good reason to think that the US ambassador was telling the truth about non-interference with Kuwait relations: Saddam was our ally all through the Iran-Iraq war and before.

Ron spoke about complications of the Middle East. One of them is that the enemy we are now fighting, the Islamic extremists, are the very group that we supported and subsidized all through the 1980s in the name of fighting Communism. That's the reason the US knows so much about their bunkers and hiding spots in Afghanistan: US taxdollars created them.

Now, I know this is a lot for the tender ears of Americans to take, who like to think that their government reflects their own values of faith, freedom, and friendliness. But here is the point that libertarians have been trying to hammer home for many years: the US government is the enemy of the American people and their values. It is not peaceful, it is not friendly, it is not motivated by the Christian faith but rather power and imperial lust.

Ron is such a wonderful person that I'm sorry that he had to be the one to tell the truth. One could sense in the debate that he was making an enormous sacrifice here. After Guiliani spoke, the red-state fascists in the audience all started whooping up the bloodlust that the politicians have been encouraging for the last six years –a mindless display of Nazi-like nationalism that would cause the founding fathers to shudder with fear of what we've become. These people are frantic about terrorism and extremism abroad, but they need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

Thank you, Ron, for doing this. We are all in your debt.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, editor of LewRockwell.com, and author of Speaking of Liberty. Send him mail. Comment on the blog.

Benchmarks: Democratic Complicity in American Empire

Matt Taibbi gets into the very thing that I griped about regarding benchmarks in the now defunct HR 1591.

Tension Mounts as Antiwar Movement Challenges Dems' Commitment to Stop the War
by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone via Alternet.

Matt writes on webpages 2 and 3:

The law, endorsed here by the Democrats, is an unusually vicious piece of legislation, an open blueprint for colonial robbery of the Iraqi nation. It is worth pointing out that if you go back far enough in the history of this business, the law actually makes the U.S. an accomplice in the repression of Saddam Hussein, the very thing we claim to be rescuing the country from. ...

Now, I live in America and have been known to drive a car occasionally and I also understand something else -- when mighty industrial countries need oil or anything else, they're going to take it. They're also unlikely to acquiesce forever to the whims of an organization like OPEC out of mere morality and decency, when military power can change the equation. Anyone who's going to be shocked, shocked by this kind of shit had better be prepared to live in a tent and eat twigs and berries instead of African cocoa or Central American sugar or any of the millions of other products we basically steal from hungry, dark-skinned people around the world on a daily basis.

But I'll tell you what I can do without. I can do without having to listen to American journalists, as well as politicians on both sides of the aisle, bitch and moan about how the Iraqi government better start "shaping up" and "taking responsibility" and "showing progress" if they want the continued blessing of American military power. Virtually every major newspaper in the country and every hack in Washington has lumped all the "benchmarks" together, painting them as concrete signs that, if met, would mean the Iraqi government is showing "progress" or "good faith." ...

The title of the Sun editorial, humorously, was "Small steps" -- as if such a radical decision about what may turn out to be a fourth of the world's oil reserves is a "small step."

Of course, among politicians, it was the same bullshit. "And we now have to see... a good-faith effort on the part of the Iraqi government," said Maine's Olympia Snowe, "that they're prepared to do what it's going to require to achieve a political consensus." The recently "antiwar" Chuck Hagel concurred: "We'[v]e seen the Iraqi government miss benchmark after benchmark," he said. "You have to connect consequences to those in some way."

Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, described the benchmarks as a means to "hold the Iraqi government accountable." As if their failure to pass the Oil law would make them "not accountable."

Moreover, let's just say this about the Democratic Party. They can wash their hands of this war as much as they want publicly, but their endorsement of this crude neocolonial exploitation plan makes them accomplices in the occupation, and further legitimizes the insurgency. It is hard to argue with the logic of armed resistance to U.S. forces in Iraq when both American parties, representing the vast majority of the American voting public, endorse the same draconian plan to rob the country's riches. This isn't a situation in which there's going to be a better deal down the road, after Bush gets thrown out of office. Looking at it from that point of view, peaceful cooperation with the Americans is therefore probably impossible for any patriotic Iraqi; the economic consequences are too severe.


See: Mark Twain and the Onset of the Imperialist Period. We have returned to where we were 100 years ago both economically and imperialistically. We are no better or wiser than we were then. What is worse, we are now far more fragmented making it much harder to find common cause and fellowship amid the myriad groups that purport to be about serving the common good.

Update 5-11-07

This morning Larry Wilkerson referenced the aforementioned Spanish-American War (the Mark Twain link) in an interview on NPR that was posted at Truthout.org:

Ashbrook asked for some examples of such high crimes and misdemeanors, and Wilkerson replied: "I think that the caller was right. I think we went into this war for specious reasons. I think we went into this war not too much unlike the way we went into the Spanish American War with the Hearst press essentially goading the American people and the leadership into war. That was a different time in a different culture, in a different America. We're in a very different place today and I think we essentially got goaded into the war through some of the same means."

To which I say, yes, there are differences between then and now. But what has not changed is the degree to which power-mongers and the greedy will go to achieve their ends.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The destructive trap of American education

I received an email for People For the American Way. I don't have anything to say about them one way or another, but I noticed an ad for Blue State Coffee on the webmail and clicked the link landing on their Causes page. One of their causes is Even Start. The blurb for Even Start goes like this:

Even Start Family Literacy Programs are school-community partnerships that help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by integrating early childhood education, adult literacy or adult basic education, and parenting education into a unified family literacy program. [emphasis added]

The words "help break the cycle of poverty" immediately brought to mind that what actually breaks the cycle of poverty is decent wages so that anyone employed in any job is able to feed, clothe, and house themselves and their family if they have one. So I gotta ask, how is an education going to get anyone a good paying job when so many of them are going overseas, especially when they have lower labor costs? And what about rural communities that have so few jobs most people have to move elsewhere to find decent paying work?

Barbara Ehrenreich's piece The Higher Education Scam at HuffPost contains this:
My theory is that employers prefer college grads because they see a college degree chiefly as [a] mark of one's ability to obey and conform. Whatever else you learn in college, you learn to sit still for long periods while appearing to be awake. And whatever else you do in a white collar job, most of the time you'll be sitting and feigning attention. Sitting still for hours on end -- whether in library carrels or office cubicles -- does not come naturally to humans. It must be learned -- although no college has yet been honest enough to offer a degree in seat-warming.
Additionally, there's this article about The Education Scam. The only important section is "Will College Educations End Poverty." Although he doesn't support his numbers with references the premise of this section rings true enough in the same way that not every single person in the world can be an entrepreneur without there ever being an employee.

An article by Gary North at LewRockwell.com is also good as is the blog that references it.

There is a fair amount here that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. More importantly, they only provide a very small amount of insight into the lie that schools have anything to do with education.

This is not to say that schools do not or cannot provide an opportunity for genuine learning, especially at the college level given the sheer amount of books one can learn from. Especially books for classes that are outside one's major. One such book is John Taylor Gatto's "Dumbing Us Down" (see also this essay for the "lessons" the book is about) which deals specifically with what our schools actually teach children rather than what people are led to believe about it. That so few people even question the premise that getting an education is the road to success despite having survived the mind numbing experience themselves is testimony to the success of dumbing people down to the point they cease to think at all and will swallow most anything the "experts" tell them.

To understand how we got here it is critical to understand the history of public schooling in America which Gatto provides in this article Against Schooling as well his book "The Underground History of American Education."

Despite all the information that is contained in the links and even in this post, it is vitally important to follow the advice that John Keating (Robin Williams) in "Dead Poets Society" gives his students when he tells them, "when you read, don't just consider what the author thinks. Consider what you think."

Our children are growing up even more absurdly now than when Paul Goodman's "Growing Up Absurd" was first published in 1956. And now we are pushing this absurdity earlier and earlier on children with such programs as Even Start, Head Start, school readiness, and all that "early learning" stuff that can begin even before birth by playing music specifically aimed at the unborn child within. That parents have bought into this shows me the extent to which mind and behavior control is being exerted to ensure that children born today will never know a day that is truly free of any authoritarian control.

I make a big deal out of this because of one question, the age-old question of: how are people really supposed to live? The current paradigm of American life is inherently self-destructive and we must begin to understand our existence outside the tiny little boxes our minds have been put in. As the title of this blog is Free Thinker, I believe that the way to free the mind is to understand what traps it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A moment in time

I am savoring this moment. I've managed to release some tension. The feeling that came with it was a sense of wholeness and well-being. I'd had a dream the other night and in trying to understand its meaning in this moment was actually spiritual. Like coming home and actually being home, truly home, at ease and comfortable. Wu wei, non-ado, no struggle. Completely at home inside one's own skin. No anxiety, no anxious self-scrutiny, no need for approval. What a refreshing feeling to be complete and whole for a change.

[Update: The line "The Matrix cannot tell you who you are" is what prompted me to post this for the simple reason that I had, however briefly, escaped the Matrix.]