ONE MORE LONGING BACKWARD GLANCE AT FREEDOM
November 24, 2004
The UnenlightenmentThe trouble with right wing fundamentalist dogma is that it's so limiting. Forcing schools to teach the Biblical story of the creation as an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution is ridiculous. They aren't even on the same plane. They belong to different epochs of history, different kinds of civilizations, they operate in different parts of the brain. The Biblical story of creation is not a scientific theory. The attitude with which you receive a scientific theory is not like that with which you approach religious doctrine. The scientific method is anti-doctrine. No theory is absolute. They are only put into place until something comes along that better explains the phenomena under examination. People often try to make science into doctrine, but it defies the fundamental spirit of scientific inquiry, which is always to remain open to revise one's point of view.
The U.S. was specifically founded as a secular state and it was founded by men who wished to keep religion in the sphere of freedom, not of law. They were spiritual to one degree or another, but they were rationalists, and their rationalism tempered and guided their public discourse. It's very odd to see the ascendant power structure in America trying to drag the country back to the period previous to the Declaration of Independence.
At this rate we are assuring that the U.S. will be a second rate power in the 21st Century, what the Cheney/Rumsfeld mob quaintly dubbed "the New American Century." The Bush war party is already well on the way to gutting the U.S. economy, while China and India grow more economically formidable every day. Do these idiots really believe that the US's military might is based on anything other than economic power? Do they really believe that U.S. power will continue when its economy is destroyed?
And can't the big money men of the country see that the present policies, though perhaps personally enriching them through certain investments, are impoverishing the nation at large and that the sinking ship will eventually drag them all down with it?
The oppressiveness of the present regime runs counter to productivity. Free societies are productive. Democracy and free markets produce a clamor of productivity. Oppressive societies dampen productivity. The corporate state is suppressing both democracy and free markets. Any words from Bush to the contrary are doublespeak. The oppressiveness of the Bush administration and its resulting economic slowdown will catch up to the US and overtake it. Just ask Gorbachev.
Military dictatorships are predatory, but not productive. The US is losing its sheen. It's going through an unenlightenment. It's fine to teach the Biblical story of the Creation, in a religion class, but not as an alternative to a scientific theory. The story may have its own kind of truth, but to equate it to a scientific theory is a lie, or at least a miscalculation.
I don't necessarily believe in the theory of evolution myself. But it's a good working hypothesis to explain certain facts. And it can be very useful. For example, if I thought that entertaining the idea of evolution was some sort of affront to my God or to my spiritual beliefs, I might be afraid to think about it. And then I would never have gotten the idea to cultivate the part of my brain which controlled the prehensile tail of the monkey, which lies dormant like a vestigial organ in humans, most of them anyway. Since I have been waking up that part of my brain and learning how to reapply it, I have found it to be very useful while in the course of my daily activities. (But that's another story.)
Without the theory of evolution, the possibility would never have occurred to me.
November 20, 2004
The Bush DepressionAs Bush and the right wing corporatocracy plan the next great assault on the people of the world, America reels. The country labors under a great pall.
On election day when the exit polls started coming in and showed a Kerry sweep, a great hope awakened in the land. Then it was dashed, and the country sunk into a deep and broad depression. This is a deepening of the depression that has already gone on from four years of oppression by the Bush administration since the Supreme Court stopped the counting of votes in 2000 and appointed Bush president.
Economic depression is not all just a matter of mysterious mathematical functions. Economic prosperity is generated by a free people. Alex de Tocqueville commented on the striking contrast when crossing the line from the free states in America into the slave states of the south, the part of the country that was run on the model of a feudal aristocracy.
Democratic societies are clamorous, a little chaotic in their frenetic activity, but productive. This was the great strength of America, the quality it projected to the world that served as a great example, a magnet to the world. This has been squelched now as the U.S. has fallen under the domination of a corporate state with the values of the slave states of the south, of the feudal aristocracies of pre-democratic Europe.
As a result, America is losing ground economically, being surpassed by Europe, by Asia. While this process is going on, the relative few who benefit from Bush's crony politics are getting rich, but the country at large is being impoverished at an alarming rate.
The Bush supporters who are outside the narrow ring of cronies who actually benefit from his policies, are followers, a community of faith who abandon their own individual wills to what they see as a higher cause. Those Americans who maintain their individuality and capacity to think independently feel increasingly helpless and hopeless, waiting for the hammer to fall.
There is one thing worse than a Bush presidency and that is to have lost our power to vote. Americans have good reason to believe their votes no longer register at all. The big guys at the top pull the only levers that really matter. This is profoundly depressing. Hopefully America still has the collective will to stand up for the right to vote, but at the moment it seems to be a tiny minority that even cares.
Without freedom, without democracy, America will not retain its economic strength, which is also the basis of America's military power. Its economic power is ebbing away now day by day. How long will America go on in free fall? If Americans ever wake from their media-induced stupor, will there still be a chance to rescue the country from total collapse?
November 23, 2004
The Wisdom of George W. Bush -- According to Shirley Williams (the Baroness Williams of Crosby), British Prime Minister Tony Blair once related a story about George W. Bush: After a discussion about economics with Blair and French President Jacques Chirac, Bush allegedly turned to Blair and remarked, "The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for 'entrepreneur.'"
December 11-13, 2004
Thank God for the weekend, one moment of respite, an island amid the turbulent chaos of the "real" world.
Between late October and early December I had the great fortune/odd fate of traveling through New England, to Uganda, China, Canada, and Florida before returning to the northeast USmegalopolis. The journey produced a randomized phantasmagoria of impressions, and created a unique perspective.
The period included that unique historical cleavage point -- Election Day, a shot that has not yet died away, the effect of which is yet to be seen. As horrendous as the last four years have been for the condition of America, I fear much worse is to come. This recent event was not just another election, if it can be called an election at all. It ushers in a new period in history, a change of even greater magnitude than the arrested election of 2000 and the undefended attack on New York in 2001. These are hard realities to assimilate, but better to be forewarned than standing dumbfounded as the new world unfolds.
In all that swirl of seemingly unrelated events, certain themes came through consistently and resonantly. The US is now hurtling downward at a dizzying rate. The regime has pushed this country to the brink of catastrophe, and the people of the US stand now in the deceptive calm before a great storm. I hate to predict catastrophe, hate to contemplate it. But I can't help but fear it. The course of events is not likely to jump completely off its present course in the immediate future. It will require a huge impact to do that.
It's even possible that this nightmare might soon be over and Americans will see the white picket fences of good old America return, but it doesn't seem likely at the moment. Americans could probably have white picket fences again if it wanted to, but the world of even four years ago is gone forever. As the world marches boldly into the 21st century, the US is falling backwards toward the feudal world. Lost in its own little bubble of distorted and manipulated consciousness, the US is ever more isolated, and is being outpaced, left behind by the rest of the world.
It's nice to think the US' position as a world leader is assured, but it is not at all. At the moment it seems perilously fragile. Countless great empires and civilization have fallen before. The United States is not likely to be the first eternal one. Actions have consequences. In the 20th century, many democratic countries were taken over by dictatorships. America is not immune.
Corrupt autocratic regimes, of which we have seen so many in the 20th century, ravage their countries, disrupt human progress. This is happening in the US at an alarming rate. And Americans sit dumbly watching it happen. The Bushcorp regime is undermining the country economically, politically, morally. During the festival of robbery by the in crowd, the country is the economic and political foundations of the nation's strength are being undermined with alarming speed.
There are many examples of liberal democratic societies falling under the control of autocratic regimes, many of those with the help of the American business elite. But average Americans know little of this. They are the last to know even about what is happening in their own country.
I watch in amazement at the effectiveness with which the US corporate media propaganda system keeps the American people clueless. If its consequences weren't so horrifying, it would be funny.
Without malice, I can't help but see the US now as a decadent society, fattened and made lazy over generations, untempered by war within its own borders, unaware of the rest of the world. And unfortunately heading for a big fall.
This message was telegraphed to me through many disparate events in highly contrasted settings during my recent travels.
A man from the Phillipines whom I met in China mused to me, "You know, Marcos ruined our country. I was educated by the Jesuits at a catholic school and one of the priests once told me it would take generations to undo the damage Marcos was creating. At the time I thought it was exaggerated. But now I think he was right."
An American expatriate who lives in Costa Rica told me that while Americans still constitute the largest segment of the tourism market in Costa Rica, the European segment is growing much faster. "There are now direct flights from Europe. They don't have to stop in the US any more."
Cutting the US out of the itinerary was like cutting blockage out of a plumbing line; it opened the flow for Europeans who streamed to Central Americans in increasing numbers. "They don't want to go the the United States," the expatriate told me. I asked if they didn't want to go because it just took more time. She replied, "They don't want to go there. They don't like us, my friend."
A Polish man to my left said that trying to get into the United States you were treated like a criminal, having to be fingerprinted and questioned. There are so many other countries to visit, why submit to that?
As we spoke we were waiting for a performance by a guitar trio from Croatia, but it was announced that the trio had become a duo because one of the musicians was turned back in Frankfurt because he didn't meet the requirements for a US visa. The corporate clique has us all blockaded so that they can conduct their heists in Iraq and elsewhere while Americans remain unaware of what is going on. While the American people are kept ignorant, they provide the energy, the resources, the money and even the human capital that runs the corrupt enterprise.
A man whose job it is to promote tourism to Hawaii in Southeast Asia told me the number of tourists has dropped to about 20% of what it was before 9/11. It is so difficult to get a visa now, he said, people have to travel to the American embassy in Taipei for a face to face interview even if they live in another city. It's so difficult, most just go somewhere else.
While Halliburton, the oil industry and other war contractors are benefitting from the savage US foreign policy, the economic well-being of the country at large is suffering. The mismanagement of the economy is about as bad as it's ever gotten, though the effects are still trickling down as the robust economy of the Clinton era continues to unravel. Of course Fox News always says the economy is doing better than ever, and many Americans get all their information from Fox.
I recently saw market research that showed that significant portions of the populations of other developed countries will not buy American goods, will not go to America, will not fly on American planes because of American foreign policy. We are becoming more and more isolated. Meanwhile Americans represented by the red state majorities, sit in their TV-addled Fox News fantasies of enemies coming through the gates to ravage their country, while their leaders make the fears in to self-fulfilling prophecies.
At the same time, while I know there are many Americans who still support the Bush administration, I have my doubts as to whether it's really a majority. Certainly even if the vote talleys, which are so obviously flawed, were true, there would still be a huge number of people who stand apart from the current movement of America. I meet few who support the administration, but I know there are still many to whom the truth of this calamity has not yet trickled down.
December 14, 2004
Left BehindThe trouble is with a simplistic black-and-white view, coupled with aggressive self-righteous certitude a la Bush is that it will inevitably be the gray areas that will be your downfall.
Bush divides the world into good and evil and launches a holy war against evil. This works well with his political formula of favoring cronies with juicy defense contracts and in turn getting great political contributions from them. Coupled with the propaganda genius of the evil Karl Rove, this strategy has worked beautifully and has allowed the Bush mob to seize control of all branches of government and consolidate an ever greater stranglehold on the US, gradually turning it into the world's largest tinpot dictatorship.
This strategy works fine within the closed system of US politics. However, Bush is playing on the world stage.
The Muslims of the Middle East are a good choice as the foe upon which Bush can act out his war president fantasies because the enemy is militarily weak and easy to bully around. And they happen to live on the world's greatest oil deposits, which they are likely to claim as their own if Bushco doesn't step in and do something about it.
Bush has chosen the Muslim nationalist world as his "evil" and has engaged in a "war on terrr" that threatens to be endless. Bush has chosen an enemy as fundamentalistically dogmatic and stubborn as himself and now has the US locked into battle with an old family friend/nemesis Saddam Hussein. It is a battle that seems less winnable every day.
War is a disruption of the human process, a state of arrested development, investment in a nonproductive enterprise. As Bush drains the US resources on his unwinnable war, the rest of the world is moving ahead. China, India, Europe are all building their economies, innovating, creating better standards of living for their people, building prosperous, strong societies. As they all move into the new century, Bush has the US wrapped up with Muslim extremists, together engaged in pulling the world back to the 15th century.
The universe stubbornly refuses to live up to Bush's fantasies about what it is. In his simple good-vs-evil view, "You're either with us or against us." But the countries of the world remain largely neither with nor against, but on the sidelines of Bush's absurd war, building their strength while Bush depletes that of the US against his equally recalcitrant foes.
While the rest of the developed world leaves the US in the dust, and the developing nations close the gap, Bush is turning the US into a third world country. Americans are poorly educated, largely uninsured, increasingly poor and unemployed. The economy is faltering. The country is increasingly under the control of a small group of superrich. The US' foreign policy of piracy is alienating the rest of the world, isolating the US and weakening it both politically and economically.
While Bush unravels the economic and moral foundations of the country, the US falls farther and farther behind the rest of the world. It will take a long time to undo the damage of the Bush administration. The Bush mob may be the ones to finally destroy the American dream once and for all.
And incidentally, some links worth sharing:
Playing For Keeps -- Katrina Sumner, who has been involved in the Greene County voting inquiry was recently run off the road on I-70. See Democratic Underground. Also see her testimony about voter fraud in Ohio at whatreallyhappened.com. Expert Witness Cites Vote Fraud -- See the testimony of Richard Hayes Phillips, a Ph.D. in geomorphology from the University of Oregon, a professional hydrologist well versed in standard techniques of statistical analysis, with special expertise in spotting anomalous data. Phillips: "It is my professional opinion that John Kerry's margins of victory were wrongly reduced by 22,000 votes in Cleveland, by 17,000 votes in Columbus, and by as many as 7,000 votes in Toledo. It is my further professional opinion that John Kerry's margins of defeat in Warren, Butler, and Clermont counties were inflated by as many as 37,000 votes in the aggregate, and in Miami County by as many as 6,000 votes." Bush wants to ban "pro-homosexual" material -- Guardian Why is Robert Novak Not in Jail? He's the one who reported that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. He's the one who claimed to have been told by an administration official who thereby broke the law. A judge has held two other reporters, Matthew Cooper of Time and Judith Miller of the New York Times, in contempt and they face jail sentences. What? LA Times. Suppression by Many Methods -- Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee joined Rev. Jesse Jackson in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday, Dec. 13, to hold a rare field hearing into election malfeasance and manipulation in the 2004 vote. "Taken together, the revelations show Republicans in state and county government, and in the Ohio Republican Party were determined to undermine and suppress Democratic turnout by a wide variety of methods." Free Press Suicide by Multiple Wounds -- According to the Sacramento Bee, journalist Gary Webb, author of Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, was "found dead in his Carmichael home Friday morning of gunshot wounds to the head, the Sacramento County Coroner's Office said Saturday." Webb's death was ruled an "apparent suicide," but that would require him to inflict "multiple wounds" upon himself. See discussion on Webb's multiple wounds at Democratic Underground. See a reference to the coroner's report at Astro World. (Search for "Webb") See a recent Webb article at News Review, Archives of Gary Webb's stories, and another obituary at Mercury News. War Criminals Beware -- Kissinger-Nixon crony and former Chilean military dictator General Augusto Pinochet was indicted today and placed under house arrest for the kidnapping of nine dissidents and the killing one of them during his 1973-90 regime. The Statesman.