Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jill Stein and Margaret Flowers on Bill Moyers 11/17/2013

Full Show: The Path of Positive Resistance | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com

Amazing what light shone from my television screen tonight.

All of them kept saying, "The media won't cover any of this," and "We have to undertake this effort to organize for change without the prospect of widespread recognition, if any at all."

Both Stein and Flowers iterated that our political system is now incapable of serving the public interest, and is, in fact, only capable of predatory activities.

We still have a window to save ourselves from the deadly corruption in our food, education, energy, transportation, and medical (just to name a few) systems.  But now the window is short, and will be closed in a few years.

That's because when the window was long, we ignored it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 14, 2013

Tonight was the Counter Recruitment presentation at Goddard with some teenagers telling us about how they inform their peers about the true nature of the armed forces.  Apparently kids feel they have to go into the armed forces because college is so expensive now.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Suicide in Which Sense?

Inside the Republican Suicide Machine, an article by Tim Dickinson in the October 9th edition of Rolling Stone, attempts to uncover the funding, organizational and ideological split currently severing the Republican Party, and leading to the shutdown.

The article does reveal how the Citizens United deregulation of campaign finance has turned the US House of Representatives into the private fief of a handful of billionaires and gigantic political action committees.
Last November, this redistricting effort produced a shocking subversion of representative democracy. In the popular vote, almost 1.4 million more Americans cast their votes for Democratic House candidates than voted for Republicans. But Republicans maintained a commanding majority in the House. "Gerrymandering saved them," says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
It's become frighteningly apparent to the rest of the world, if not to Americans, that our political system is unstable and unable to serve the best interests of the majority of people inside, as well as outside the United States.

But the problem is more than just disagreements over the budget.  The question of whether the masses can govern ourselves or whether wealthy self-appointed feudal lords will hold the reins of power is not going to be resolved by 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans between now and December 15.  That's the divide behind the disfunction.  "Less government" is a euphemism for "less democracy."

"Common Ground," is the watchword of the day. Just as many wealthier Americans see the poor and needy as unworthy of Federal aid--or even food, health care and education--many working and middle class people see the wealthy as greedy and grotesquely over privileged.

As much as we would like to oppose "them" with the wealth and status belonging to "us," an honest look at reality shows that to be a false and harmful contrast.

Historically, people who work hard, successfully, and benefit society the most, don't grow wealthy from it.

In fact, in an unregulated capitalist system such as we have now, gigantic concentrations of society's wealth accrue not to the most deserving, but rather empower single families or small groups to completely dominate government, media, energy, warfare and vast swaths of economic and political activity. Such dominance is usually the result of inheritance or some combination of timing and luck, but is ultimately completely disproportionate to the individual's contribution to society.  But Feudalism is a doomed economic model.

Even the brightest, most industrious individual could produce scant lasting wealth outside of the context of a healthy society and government. Government is the soil in which capital grows.

Everybody agrees that those who contribute most are entitled to more rewards than those of us who contribute less.  But it's the wealth of generations, of society as a whole, that circulates through our economy, not the wealth of individuals.  Yet, regardless of the value or harm of their role in society, individuals in our system can lay claim to fortunes, not of their own creation, but cultivated by the flow of wealth through history, social progress, and technological development wrought by generations of hard working progenitors and fortuitous laws and political circumstances.

But why would the masses be interested in perpetuating a system where the richest 400 people own as much wealth as the poorest 150 million? An economic system that creates and exacerbates such disparities is doomed.  People would be unreasonable to tolerate it.

Tax rates and government priorities change over time. We had forty years of higher taxes, and now we've had thirty years of lower taxes.

It's strange that we who have benefitted so much from the investment and sacrifice of those in the past, would resist government social investment through taxes upon large amounts of the wealth we consider to be "ours,"  when such bridge-building, wetlands preservation or scientific research would greatly enrich posterity.  Granting that innovators and inventors of penicillin or laptop computers should prosper, most of the innovation and invention involved is the bequest of previous generations, and should therefore benefit society at large, not just a few fortunate individuals.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Listening

Today the EPA held Listening Sessions here in Manhattan.  Members of the public were invited to express their thoughts and concerns regarding regulations on existing coal-fired power plant emissions the EPA is going to propose in June of 2014.

You had to sign up to speak, and they gave you three minutes.

My say so went something like this:
We are revelers out at a fine restaurant, enjoying every delicacy of nature, but when the bill arrives, each of us turns and looks the other way.  We don't want to pick up our tab.

We're happily determined to use as much energy as we can to satiate, enrich and insulate ourselves from the rigors of nature, as long as we can ignore the cost.  The Obama Administration's pollution standards for existing power plants are inadequate.  And it is no longer reasonable for people to tolerate the large scale burning of coal and other fossil fuels for any purpose.

We need a big carbon tax.  
As long as we don't see the gutted mountain ranges, the smothered valleys and toxic streams and rivers, we play on in our dream of profit and prosperity.
As long as we don't see or smell the billowing smoke, the declining species of birds and wildlife, the climate devastation of drought and forest fire--as long as we don't see the cancer and asthma--we can turn on our electronic entertainment, our computers, our air conditioners with a carefree push on the on/off button.

I've grown up in a society believing progress is any and all economic growth, and cheap energy consumption fuels this delusion of progress.  But this concept is fatally flawed.  We are not only committing mass suicide, but we're perpetrating a mass extinction upon this entire planet right now.  We've burned a trillion tons of coal out of the ground, and we've put so much CO2 into the atmosphere,  the world is saturated.

Forty years ago we knew it was time to scale down our energy consumption and taper off of fossil fuels.  Remember?

What happened in the interim?  The fossil fuel industrialists hijacked our government, including our energy policy, and subordinated everything on earth underneath the economic principles of unrestrained growth and unlimited consumption.  And this is the end.  It's too late for coal now.

This August it rained three days in a row in Ulster county, and on the fourth day the ground in my yard was so hard and dry, it seemed like a place where it hadn't rained in weeks.  We passed 400 parts per million CO2 this summer.  The hell with money and energy, as human beings our first responsibility is to safeguard this planet, or do we think some other species is going to do that for us?

The increasing desperation of wildlife facing extinction far outweighs the cost to humans of energy conservation.

Please exercise common sense restraint and get us off coal now.  The cost to the environment is the bill we must pay, and it's already much higher than we can afford.  Conserve.  Conserve energy.   A future is now the price of coal and fossil fuel generated electricity.
About 50 people spoke.  The Administrators were very receptive to the audience and really extended the sense of inclusion in the policy formation process.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Unraveling, Raveling

DC

Everybody's getting stressed out about the Republican shutdown of government, and the threatened debt default.  The whole world is getting worried, especially since they feel so helpless to effect any resolution that will protect their economic interests.
TOKYO — Japan’s finance minister urged the United States on Tuesday to avoid a default that could cast the global economy into turmoil and hurt the value of Japan’s enormous holdings of United States Treasury bonds, a day after similar warnings from China, which has an even larger stake in American debt.
 It's surreal.
Boehner ‘Disappointed’ by Obama’s News Conference .... 
But he rejected the president’s call for Republicans to vote to raise the debt ceiling before any negotiations could begin.
“What the president said today was if there is unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down and talk to us,” Mr. Boehner said. “That’s not the way our government works.”
It really demonstrates the character of the Republicans, and, by extension, of the American people, that a political party could try to negotiate a budget deal by threatening to damage the world economy.

How is that even legal?  It's not even a protection racket; it's just a stickup.  Most mainstream corporate media don't even dare to report the anomalous character of these "negotiations."  A lot of the public sees no wrongdoing in the Republican tactics, and merely blames both sides equally for the impasse.

For these reasons, I believe there will be a default, and it will crash the economy, and our social contract and political system will melt down, starting in a couple of weeks.  The Republicans are only willing to bring things to this point because, actually, that is what they want.  They can get everything -- almost-- that they really want, that they've worked for for the last thirty-five years -- by defaulting now. A default would gut the bulwark of social and economic structures on which our society has been built for the last eighty years, in one fell swoop.

I don't believe it's a prize they are capable of resisting, whatever the consequences.  And most people don't believe at all that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the Department of Labor, the EPA, all banking and finance regulations, student loans, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, Health and Human Services, and dozens--if not hundreds, thousands, even--of other Federal programs and laws are suddenly going to come to an abrupt halt and shatter.  It's unthinkable, so nobody's really doing anything to prevent it.

A lot of people know it's what the Republicans really want, but not enough people to make the public aware in time.

By Thanksgiving our government could consist of the military, Congress and the White House.  Civilization as we know it would disintegrate quickly all over the world.  The suffering, waste and desperation would be unlike anything since the Russian or Chinese Communist revolutions.  But our military would remain the sole organizing force in the world.  It's power might even be enhanced vis-a-vis countries like Russia and China.  The super rich, with their media and financial monopolies, would be left in complete control of every office of American government.

You don't become a billionaire by putting the public's interests first.

And now the billionaires are in control of the House of Representatives, and they're in a position to have the IRS and the Department of Commerce virtually expunged overnight.

On The Other Hand

There are a lot of people much smarter than I am who must have thought about this whole problem and come to better, kinder, gentler conclusions.  Surely there are too many people with too much to lose to just stand by and watch and let the Republicans blow the whole system up.

But that would potentially be the best solution, because it would give humanity one last chance to save the earth's species from the imminent mass extinction we're causing.


Monday, October 7, 2013

End Game

I keep picking up Deep Green Resistance and reading a few pages, then putting it down for a few days, unable to hold on to the required sense of urgency.

I go back to thinking about my job, home improvement, finding more work, the Peace Movement, the tv show, family and friends, and politics.

But then I go back it.  Some subconscious assessment of the world is setting off an alarm in my mind and I can't turn it off.

"Industrialism itself is what has to stop.  There is no kinder, greener version of it that will leave us a living planet."
Keith, L, Deep Green Resistance, "The Problem," Seven Stories Press, NY, 2011; p. 21.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Radio

Listening to the Mike Malloy show from 9:00 to midnight almost every day.  The voice transmitted through the air into the otherwise silent personal space of whatever room I happen to be holed up in, fending off the impressions of the world outside.

Malloy is playing the songs of the seventies group, America, in between segments of his show.  Even though I recognize and remember almost all the songs, listening to them now is like hearing them for the first time.  The chords sound simpler, and the construction of the songs is much clearer than it was when I listened to them in the past, on the [car] radio.  But as clear and comprehensible as the America songs are, I don't like them now any more than I did then.

So Malloy talks about the right wingers like he always does, a singular voice penetrating the barriers of space and buildings to talk to the Truthseekers about the reality behind the political headlines and the tv newscasts.  His animate, energized persona materializes right beside me, behind his torrential voice, rising and falling, shouting and whispering, laughing and cursing, and holding mind and matter captive with sound!

He's many hundreds of miles away in his home studio outside of Atlanta.  But his voice--in between the music and commercial breaks--is in my room, talking to me as clearly and comprehensibly as an America song plays on my iPhone.  But this time he's talking about something of paramount urgency for everyone:  the new IPCC report on climate change.


Apparently the new findings are that by approximately 2040, we'll pass the final output of CO2 that represents the maximum volume allowable if we're to keep the warming below 3.6 degrees Farenheit.

This is coming through the radio after 10:30 PM on Friday night.

When I first discovered radio I was still sharing a room with Ed.  I heard from Dan Baker that if you put a transistor radio under your pillow, you could hear it really well, but nobody else could.  I was in fourth grade, the last year of my unqualified academic ascent--even though I got caught smoking that year and that changed my life forever--when I listened to the Dave Clark Five and the Beatles after nine o'clock on a school night with the lights out and my head comfortably suspended on the music and voices coming through my pillow, I discovered that communication opened the doors to a reality beyond Ed's and my little bedroom.

There was a world, a universe beyond the world under my parents' roof, even beyond the fences surrounding our school yard.  It was a world created by my imagination, listening to radio.  But it was a world of music, romance, hip speak,   It was a world of connections, where we all understood each other and the universe made sense.  It was a world we were all in together.

Before the flight of the Apollo rocket, nobody knew exactly what the world looked like when one took in the whole thing from a distance.  We had drawings, artists' conceptions, but no accurate photos.


We had the maps drawn in our minds from the information we understood to be true.

Likewise, The Wizard of Oz, Rupert Murdoch has materialized in living rooms and assemblies all across America by his control of Fox, The Journal, and the Mail, not to mention his worldwide media empire.  So when his listeners and his readers speak about the world as they perceive it, it's his world, his cosmos, his reality they're speaking into existence.

His is the voice of Mr. Kurtz, controlling the ignorant through fear.  He's supplanting their minds.  That's why one wants to own a media empire, after all.



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunshine Daydream

At the end of the Vietnam War--not quite the end, 1971--I was 15 that November, my cousin had finished his basic training in Jersey and was getting ready to ship out.

He'd been coming to Norristown most weekends to stay at our place and get off the base.  Of course, we played pool and basketball all weekend, as often as possible, and listened to music, smoked cigarets, got stoned and fell in love.

The girls from the neighborhood used to come and hang around and watch us play ball in the driveway.  Sometimes we had pick up games of eight or ten guys.

I brought the phonograph down and plugged it in in the garage.  We played ball and listened to Dylan and the Grateful Dead.

Rich was my cousin, Edwin's, best friend at Basic the year before, and he would come with Edwin to our place most weekends.  That was in 1970.  He had a car:  the Blue Flash.  I was too young to drive the Flash then, but the next summer I was staying with Rich's folks on their farm in Washington and I finally got to drive it.  The brakes were so tight you could only wiggle your toe.  If you pressed down on the pedal normally, the Flash would stop short, like a bullet hitting an armor-plated tank, and the driver would fly into the windshield if he didn't have seat belt on.

Rich had left the car at home by then because he went off to Vietnam.  That's how I got to drive it at his parents' farm.  I was only 15, but out in central Washington in the early seventies, everybody on a farm drove, whether they were old enough or not.

Out there in Washington wasn't anything like Norristown.  The houses were all miles apart.  It never rained.  The boys I hung out with were all older than me.  And it was really hard to mingle with girls.

Rich's parents had a couple of quarterhorses and I got to ride them out over the open desert and range land  once or twice with Rich's sister.

Some nights we'd sleep out in the desert, and get high, too.  The stars were unbelievable:  a present eternity full of diamonds.

In those days, when I stayed at somebody else's place, like Rich's parents' place in Washington, I had to listen to their music.  I couldn't carry my record collection around with me to other people's houses.  After all, they were letting me stay there as a sort of favor to my parents or me, and it wouldn't be right to bring my own music and expect to be able to play it on their stereo, as if I owned the place.  Nobody in Washington listened to the Grateful Dead or Dylan the two summers I stayed out there.  Even that second summer when Rich came back, we didn't listen to the same music.  He was a little different then, too, anyway, and liked to go off to Wenatchee and visit his girlfriend instead of hanging around with us on the farm.

Looking back on it, it's hard to believe Rich's parents put up with me that second summer.  I was starting to lose my marbles.  Somebody had some whacky weed and I got so high I didn't come down for three days.  I was never the same.   My head got completely tied up in knots.  I thought  everybody was talking in code, and I was the only one who didn't understand the true meaning of everything.  Actually, that was true, in a way.  It just had a very powerful impact on every simple human interaction I was having then.  I wasn't really able to open up to anybody in Washington and everything in my 15 year old brain just sort of stewed.

The stew had been simmering back in Norristown, too.  It's just that I hadn't grasped the code switching.  I was a little dumbfounded about how I was living on a farm in Washington and everything seemed different than living in Norristown, Pennsylvania, a rust belt mill town.

It was as if that whole sky load of diamonds just plowed over my face and dug up a furrow with my body all the way across the desert, and I didn't know what planet I was on after that.  And I didn't know that I didn't know.  I was just twisting and tumbling from contorted moment to confusing conversation to mysterious revelation, and it all happened on one hundred degree dry heat days between the bathroom, the kitchen and the water that came all the way from Coulee Dam in a canal to a pump at the edge of the yard, to spray on the desert and grow stuff.

"Look here," farmer Brim had said when I'd first shown up there.  He scraped about 6 or 8 inches of sand from the ground with his hand.  I squatted down next to him.

"You see," he said while he held his hand in the gully he'd just dug.  Underneath that sand, there's soil, good soil.  You can grow anything here if you just have water."

What is "public takeover?"

Name It and claim It

George Gerbner said the public was created by the newspapers:  an audience that previously didn't exist as a group, but had diverse traditions, stories, and beliefs.

The mass media generated the public through the phenomenon of "news," along with a set of messages and stories.



In cultivation theory, Gerbner instructs us that, 
The primary proposition of cultivation theory states that the more time people spend "living" in the television world, the more likely they are to believe social reality portrayed on television.  Cultivation leaves people with a misperception of what is true in our world.
The rise of the "public" is the story of the descent of civilization.  Having evolved through time to the point of nominal self-government, the public consciousness was usurped at the time of the industrial revolution by capitalist forces, who brought media under their control through advertising.

This gave the mass media owners--the corporations--vast power in shaping the public consciousness.  For the first time in history, the stories of civilization were told, not by the parents, the school, the church or the community, but by the media conglomerates.  These had "nothing to tell, but everything to sell."

This effectively places a child born into our society and culture into a position of identification with a  consciousness masterminded by a tiny group of very powerful people in a handful of institutions:  media conglomerates, multinational corporations, the Pentagon, and, to a lesser extent, the church and the government along with other institutions that have some ability--through media control--to shape the public consciousness.

Unfortunately, these institutions have an interest in manipulating the public into serving the institutions' needs, not the needs of the public.

The Crisis in Society and Public Consciousness

Between the Great Depression and the Great Recession of 2008, the public advanced greatly in terms of material wealth.  The institutions of power, however, also enhanced their grip on the power over the consciousness of the public.
  • By the time of the economic crash of 2008, however, it had become clear that the status quo, financially, environmentally, militarily, medically, agriculturally, and especially in terms of media control, was driving the human race off course from shared health and prosperity.  Instead, the systems that brought about the 2008 collapse were aggressively propped up by the entrenched powers;
  • Through revelations about banking fraud we learned how the regulating bodies in government had been captured by the Wall Street operators.
  • In spite of massive bank bailouts we continued to see record home foreclosures and no meaningful restructuring of the home mortgage market.
  • We saw through the failure of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars how the public had been manipulated through our mass media into believing in the necessity for these expensive misadventures that benefitted a few but destroyed the lives and livelihoods of very many.
  • We learned through whistleblowers in the Justice Department, the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon how the colossal National Security Apparatus set up ostensibly to protect us from terrorism, was instead infringing more and more on our civil rights while greatly enriching a few wealthy special interests, and, at the same time, taking funds that were badly needed for health, education, and environmental protection.
  • We saw how, in spite of a clear mandate to institute a national health plan that would provide every citizen with basic medical care, which could easily and simply have been done by simply expanding the Medicare Program, insurance and pharmaceutical companies diverted the process and prevented meaningful, comprehensive reforms.
  • We saw billionaire-funded astroturf political groups support candidates who began rolling back the rights and Constitutionally protected freedoms of the common people.
  • We saw energy and food corporate behemoths like BP and Monsanto exploit the country and the world's natural resources for obscene profits at the world's expense, all the while endangering our fragile environment.
In every one of these cases we saw the complicity of government:  the legislature, the executive, and especially the courts, acting unequivocally on behalf of the wealthy special interests -- multinational corporations, behind the influence of the mass media they control -- and against the best interests of the people of the United States and of the world.

Occupy Wall Street

In the fall of 2011 this disillusion boiled over into the Occupy Wall Street events.  The anti-social policies of government, industry and the military could no longer be concealed from public consciousness by a slick veneer of media razzle dazzle.

For a moment nuclei of genuine public discourse coalesced in protest of the false narrative that had brought the world and the nation to ruin.  Dialogue and democracy were suddenly rediscovered by discrete groups of mostly young and disaffected Americans drawing together to create a new narrative based on American ideals of freedom, democracy and self-determination.

On September 17, 2011, a group of protesters demonstrating in lower Manhattan against the bank bailouts from the collapse of the housing markets and the evaporation of the institutions holding derivatives and collateral default swaps, and against economic inequality in the United States, were driven away from Chase Plaza by the police.  The protesters then gathered in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan.  Through media coverage and internet connections, a movement soon spread similar gatherings to dozens--if not hundreds--of other towns and cities in the U.S.

Occupiers took up residence in prominent public spaces and held daily business meetings.  The meetings operated on a consensus model in which strict democratic procedures were observed in all self-governing decisions by the occupiers.  Simultaneously, the occupiers conducted regular public demonstrations demanding redress of political grievances, including solutions to the growing economic and political inequality in America.  The protests focused on the injustice of housing foreclosures by banks and mortgage lenders that had lost trillions of dollars of investors' capital and that had been saved from insolvency by government bailouts.  The protesters demanded the banks face criminal prosecution and penalties.

The occupy culture of inclusive democratic decision making and sharing of possessions and resources for the common welfare of all the occupiers was supported by folkloristic expression in music, art, and other performances.  The demonstrations and activities of many, if not most, of the occupations were "streamed live" over the internet, and the movement's activities gained wide exposure from these broadcasts.  Additionally, occupations utilized the internet for dynamic planning and information sharing to expand their message of democracy and economic justice.  The inclusivity of the occupy movement was sustained in this way, and drew great recognition and support from the wider general population.

Though sustained by a communal sharing of resources, and enjoying significant popular support, the strident and often disruptive political activity of the occupiers led public officials to crack down on their encampments and protests.  In Oakland, occupiers organized a Longshoreman strike that shut down the Port.  In Atlanta, student occupiers instituted a moratorium on repayment of student loans.  New York, Los Angeles and other cities experienced almost daily mass protests that disrupted a wide spectrum of civil, and especially economic, life.

Finally, the FBI counterterrorism unit conducted secret coordinating conferences to plan nationwide dispersal of the occupations.  The occupy movement lost momentum with the onset of Autumn.  By January of 2012 most occupy sites had been cleared of protesters and many occupiers had been jailed.  Police began using coordinated preemptive tactics against the mass economic and political activity.  With a few notable exceptions, the movement all but disintegrated by the winter of 2012.  It therefore had little or no direct bearing upon the Presidential election of that year.

We Shall Overcome

With the evaporation of the occupy movement, mainstream politics again monopolized the public's consciousness through the election of 2012.  In spite of massive infusions of cash for campaign television advertisements on behalf of the challenger, Mitt Romney, incumbent Barack Obama won a second term through superior organizing and mobilization of ordinary voters.

However, after the election, Congress remained gridlocked due to Obama's failure or unwillingness to force the Republicans to back his economic, environmental and health care plans.  Furthermore, the advent of drone strikes, a massive U.S. military buildup in the far East, the growth of extreme energy extraction in Canada and the United States, and the defeat of GMO labeling requirements added more frustration to the public's displeasure over the Administration's failure to meaningfully reform the nation's banking and finance system and implement meaningful change in the structure of Americas health insurance.

By the end of the summer of 2013, Americans had become engaged in underground politics.  Widespread disaffection with the major parties left "Independent" as the largest group of registered voters.  Instead of rallying around the government or their parties, Americans practice issue politics--organizing locally to effect change from the bottom-up by working on issues from gun control to health care, immigration to environmental protection.

The monopolization of mass media and political parties by billionaires and multi-national corporations can no longer be concealed from the masses of the population, who want meaningful, progressive change.  The people and the corporations are engaged in battles over food production and marketing, education, energy, home financing and the environment.  The public is finding common ground over issues that reach beyond party lines, and is building powerful grassroots coalitions around popular issues to subvert the domination of money and special interests.

Community Facts

I have begun to try to read the new Census Bureau statistics on the Economy, but I haven't made much progress yet.

From the description by Bernie Sanders in his floor speech in the Senate yesterday, the figures on the economy are bad.

Senator Sanders takes the time to elaborate on the contents of the Census Bureau report, especially insofar as it describes the growing economic inequality in the United States.  He points out that 400 people in the US now hold as much wealth as the combined 150 million of Americans in the bottom 50% of the economic chain.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This is the official publictakeover blog, describing the inevitable public takeover of the world.  The public here meaning the people, and the natural entities over whom we have dominion, but not unnatural, fictitious, corporate, military, or political entities.

No.


The people shall have dominion--meaning the responsibility for and the power to care for the earth.  Any entity they create to have dominion over them is an abomination, a Baal, as it were.


Before the American Revolution, there were authorities that grew out of history into naturally established roles among the several continents, states, and populations.  But now that all are equal and charged equally with the preservation and nurture of the Creation, all are charged with mutual responsibility for all. 


Why is this natural?  Because of our naturally inseparable interconnection.  Physically, one can't claim autonomy.  As Whitman said, "...every atom belonging to you as good belongs to me."  But, beyond that, we are all strictly derived from the planet earth--all the elements comprising it--and none other.  Our bodies are, "living, animate pieces of the earth," according to Wendell Berry.  Every bit of food that nourishes us is of the earth.

"So what?" the skeptic retorts.  "Everything is from the earth--automobiles, televisions, skyscrapers.  That doesn't mean anything!"

But it does.  Consider how we're bombarded with the propaganda of individuality, survival of the fittest, striving to be number 1, and so forth.  Competition is great insofar as it supports development of one's individual qualities and capacities, but to complete the circle we must see our individuality as being included in a greater circle of life, a greater galaxy of being.

Our individual qualities are as much--or more--a reflection of the qualities and character of everyone around us, and everyone who came before us, as they are of us, individually.

For example, every word we use to frame our thoughts and understanding of the world and society we inhabit are handed to us by our predecessors and, to a lesser extent, our contemporaries.

And when we speak of someone as being honest or courageous, we're speaking of qualities we've learned by others' example, or others' description.  Our knowledge of these qualities is a fabrication of society, and of language itself.  The terms in which we understand ourselves are the terms our culture has given us to understand with.

So, even if we view ourselves as autonomous individuals, it is only because our consciousness is enmeshed in the shared vocabulary and experience of society, past as well as present.  Within that context we have a distinct identity:  a name, a body, family, but these are all features of the larger society and culture, including the words themselves, and the concepts they denote.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Peace Action Letters

I have been handed a wonderful opportunity to participate in a project of corresponding with an Iraqi, and facilitating a similar correspondence between and American and an Iraqi for any American who wants to do so, bypassing the mass media, the government, the official channels, and just reaching out, one human being to another, to the people we attacked.






Sarah A.K. Ahmed is collecting letters of

reconciliation to bring some love and peace from Americans like you and me to her country, Iraq. Have you had enough of war? Go to:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Because-I-Love-Peace

Share your sentiments of friendship, good will, and solidarity with the Iraqi people!

Just write what you feel toward their suffering.  Dr Ahmed will be collecting the letters in August to bring with her when she returns to Iraq to attempt to resume her dentistry practice.  In 2011 she had to abandon her work and flee to refuge in Jordan, due to the violence and civil dysfunction in Iraq.

By 2012, the Iraqi people continued to struggle to rebuild a ruined infrastructure, lacking in potable water, electricity, transportation, housing, medicine and education.

In June of 2013, the Secretary General of the U.N. issued a statement expressing concern over “the unfolding political and security situation in Iraq, including the escalating political tensions and the appalling upsurge of violence that has killed a high number of civilians over the last two months.”  Will you send a message of peace and friendship to the people of Iraq?  Encourage them.  They continue to struggle with the devastation and upheaval caused by our armed forces.
Letters can be mailed to:  Peace Action Manhattan, P.O. Box 10, Planetarium Station, New York, NY 10025.  Or, I will collect them if you notify me. --Florindo Troncelliti
Sample Letter
Dear People of Iraq,

We’re sorry for the destruction of your country caused by our invasion and the consequent civil war. We tried to stop it. When our government and commercial mass media were stirring up the U.S. public for war, we saw through their lies. We begged, pleaded, protested, marched, wrote letters, made phone calls and organized to prevent the a war. But the war came anyway.

It was premeditated: a war of aggression. I remember watching the first night of dropping the bombs on Baghdad, the horror of an ancient city, defenseless, and the civilians completely vulnerable to our excessive, bloodthirsty use of force. We hoped they would catch or kill the dictator, Hussein, and then the war would be over.

But none of us understood the full darkness and malevolence of our military and government officials. None of us dreamed that our real intention was to destroy your country completely. Our intention was to wreck your infrastructure: roads, airports, bridges, water and electrical systems, schools, hospitals, farms, etc… Our goal was to completely lay Iraq to waste and disempower its people. We didn’t know that. We trusted our leaders. We thought they were after Saddam, your leaders, many were hanged, and the weapons.

Now we know they were after oil, military bases, and the protection of Israel. We also know these had nothing to do with you, the Iraqi people. You became collateral damage, 650,000 to 1,000,000 of you, or more. The 3--5 million refugees in Iraq could not have anticipated the thoroughly vicious and lethal force of the American assault on you and your country. Our leaders and our military betrayed us, too. They didn’t go to liberate the Iraqi people, but to destroy them. For this we are ashamed and whole-heartedly sorry.

We want you to know that we wish you well, that it was never our intention to harm any of you. It was our government that did this against our will and protestation. We write to ask your forgiveness. We did not have to share in your suffering, but please let us share in your renewal.

Sincerely,

Let
ters can be mailed to: Peace Action Manhattan, P.O. Box 10, Planetarium Station, New York, NY 10025. Or, I will collect them if you notify me. --Florindo Troncelliti

Monday, August 19, 2013

Top Secret America

Reading Dana Priest and William Arkin's Top Secret America.  There's a lot of eye opening information in there.

A couple of things that stand out here in the early going for me have to do with, naturally, media control, and also the response to 9/11.

One of the big reactions to 9/11 justifying the Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and all that crap, was supposed to be the paramount necessity for intelligence sharing among the agencies.  The authors say,
Thus, a post-9/11 goal of breaking down walls to give decision makers a broader analysis, all easily accessible online, was completely defeated.
 Also, at another point in the narrative, the reporters are trying to find out what agencies in what buildings are going to be connected by a private contractor's cable installation they had stumbled upon.  They found out where the cable was to be installed--between offices in different buildings--and then tried to divine what offices they were, and what they needed the connection for.

They offered up this tidbit along the way:
... Influence operations, as the name suggests, are aimed at secretly influencing or manipulating the opinions of foreign audiences, either on an actual battlefield--such as during a feint in a tactical battle--or within the civilian population, such as in undermining support for an existing government or terrorist group.  They are also deeply involved with broader efforts to sway international opinion in line with American interests.
Sometimes this involves ploys such as planted newspaper stories and political advertising campaigns for foreign leaders supported by the United States.  Other operations have involved intentionally passing disinformation to foreign leaders or spies in highly classified deception operations.  In most cases, American involvement is hidden."
Fun to digest.   So our super deluxe intelligence community has been manipulating public opinion in foreign countries for political reasons--planting false stories in the news (propaganda), and by "broader efforts" we are "deeply involved in."

Even more alarming, a lot of this work is now being carried out by contractors from private, for profit corporations.  In the shapeshifting of people passing through the revolving door from private contractor to government employee, who is monitoring these efforts to remain certain none of the disinformation or political manipulation techniques we find so useful abroad, do not sort of --just a little bit, maybe--get used in domestic operations by the private contractors--either in that guise or in their guise as government employees?

Who can prove that disinformation and public manipulation has not transpired in big stories like Saddam's weapons of mass destruction fabrication or all the mysterious details of the 9/11 highjackers and the collapse of the buildings at the World Trade Center--not to mention the attack on the Pentagon?

That's my surmising, anyway.  I can't wait to read the last 2/3 of this fascinating book about the National Security State, Top Secret America.