Archive for February, 2008

“If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself”

February 18, 2008

from RI

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“If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself”

You’re on your own, you always were,
In a land of wolves and thieves.
Don’t put your hope in ungodly men,
Or be a slave to what somebody else believes. – Bob Dylan

I know, I called a moratorium on Dylan lyrics. But it has been four days, and he’s already said everything.

“Trust Yourself” is the best advice when wading into America’s deep, weird end. Especially since, whenever we get over our heads in the bizarre black ops swamp of protected ritual abuse, it seems there’s no avoiding Ted Gunderson. But is there any trusting him?

I don’t know what to think about Gunderson. Or maybe I do, but I don’t want to think it out loud. It would nice to assume the best intentions of everyone who takes up the cause of exposing these crimes. But because of the nature of the crimes, the names of the criminals, and simple human nature, I think it’s prudent to assume several circles of disinformation before we reach something like the truth. And that makes me wonder, where do we find Gunderson?

One place we find him is in The Last Circle by “Carol Marshall” (real name Cheri Seymour): a samizdat sequel of sorts to the work which cost Danny Casolaro his life. “Unknown to me at the time,” she writes, “I had taken a quantum leap in the direction of the Octopus when I contacted Ted Gunderson.”

Here’s Seymour’s telling of her first meeting with Gunderson:

On November 30, 1991, Ted Gunderson opened the door at his Manhattan Beach home and ushered us into a small living room cluttered with toys. He made no explanation for the toys scattered around the floor and the couch, but offered coffee and donuts, then proceeded to eat most of the donuts himself. I had expected someone dripping with intrigue, instead he was classic in the sense of an investigator; rumpled shirt and slacks, nervous movements, distracted behavior. We sat on the couch bunched together amongst the toys. Gunderson pulled a kitchen chair up in front of us, leaned over and began stuffing his mouth with cheese and crackers, all the while talking, his body in perpetual motion. He was a big, handsome man with an aging face and tossled silver hair. He seemed entirely unaware of his appearance or the appearance of his home, but his pale eyes were intelligent and probing. Intuitively, I knew he was more than he appeared to be.

A young woman, perhaps early thirties, entered the room brushing long blond hair, still wet from the shower. Her faded jeans and sun-drenched appearance reminded me of friends I’d known growing up in Newport Beach. Gunderson introduced her as his “partner,” as she seated herself silently on the floor next to him. The flush on her face brought a fleeting prescience to me that they had been making love shortly before the meeting.

The woman was Jackie McGauley, the first parent to believe her child was abused at the McMartin Daycare, the case with which Gunderson’s name is most closely associated.

Two years ago McGauley wrote the following about her former boyfriend, which was quoted this past March 29 in an open letter from Barbara Hartwell to Noreen Gosch:

When I threw Ted Gunderson out of my house and figured out my damages, I found I was over $30,000 in debt. I was a single mother of 2 young children, only receiving $300 per month in child support. I was very ill the entire time Ted was in my house. Needless to say, the kids and I were destitute. I was unable to be very involved in the issue. Survival for me and my kids was all I could manage. Some of you know how desperate my situation was and helped me.

In the mid 90s Cheri Seymour, who had been around the last 2 of the years I was with Ted, approached me to join her in writing a book. Frankly, I was scared. I refused and asked her not to use my name in the book.

Cheri wrote the book, based on her experiences and documents gathered during that time. That book is The Last Circle. Cherie used a pen name, Carol Marshall. From what I hear, Cherie has had a rough time and had to go into hiding. I doubt I would have lived if I had worked with her on this project.

Gunderson has responded to Hartwell’s letter, including McGauley’s comments, here.

I’m not interested in the he said/she said. What I find most worrying is beyond dispute: Gunderson inserted himself into the life of a vulnerable woman at a time of great emotional distress. (A woman half his age – Gunderson was born in 1928 – and though I don’t know if that matters, I think it deserves a mention.) It may have been crazy love, it may have been a love of control, it may have just happened. But it appears to me inappropriate and possibly exploitive. And appearances would seem to be important in such a line of work.

Perhaps this wouldn’t bother me if we didn’t already have the example of so-called Monarch deprogrammers becoming intimate with their subjects. For instance, “ex-CIA” Mark Phillips and Cathy O’Brien, Fritz Springmeier and Cisco Wheeler. I can’t assess their intentions, and whether they represent another covert layer of control. I’ll just say I imagine that accessing certain programming must be a great temptation for some men.

But of more concern than Gunderson’s girlfriends are his business partners. One, Michael Riconosciuto, whom Casolaro dubbed “Dangerman,” had personally modified the stolen PROMIS software to create backdoors to spy into the networks of end users. (His affidavit in the Inslaw case can be read here.) Seymour spoke also to Riconosciuto for The Last Circle, and he described for her the role the security firm Wackenhut has in the Octopus’s self-financing international guns-for-drugs trade. (Riconosciuto had served as Director of Research for the Wackenhut facility at the Cabazon Indian reservation, where he’d made the alterations to PROMIS.)

Seymour writes:

One of the most surprising, and disturbing, documents I found in Michael Riconosciuto’s hidden files was an envelope with a notation on it, handwritten and signed by Ted Gunderson, which read as follows:

“Michael: Raymond is arriving at LAX, 7:55 p.m., Air Canada via flight 793 from Toronto. Will have to go through Customs. This will give us another member for our drug/arms operation. Only problem [is] Raymond will probably be using instead of selling. Sorry I didn’t get to D.A. office. I tried to call, but no answer. By the time I fought the traffic to the bank and did my banking, it was too late. Will be home tonight (818) 880-6238. T.G.”

Then there is Robert Booth Nichols, a figure linked to both the CIA and the Mafia, who became Casolaro’s highest-placed source on the Octopus. Seymour writes of a 71-page transcript of a series of tape recorded interviews between Riconosciuto, Gunderson and Nichols at Nichols’ Marina Del Rey apartment in 1983:

In reading the transcript, it appeared that Gunderson and Nichols were interviewing Riconosciuto for recruitment into a drug/sting operation. Riconosciuto later verified that he was, in fact, being recruited into the overseas Lebanon drug operation by Gunderson and Nichols because of his (Riconosciuto’s) undercover experience in the drug trade. … Nichols later confirmed to me that he (Nichols) had indeed interviewed Riconosciuto with Ted Gunderson in 1983 and the transcript was legitimate, though he wouldn’t state the purpose of the interview.

Here is how Seymour ends her telling of her own interview of Nichols:

Nichols studied me for the longest time, then walked over to the window and lit a cigarette. He finally commented that the CIA can cover up anything it wants, even a president’s murder. He wanted to show me the power of the Octopus. “Nothing is as it appears to be,” he said.

Somehow, that statement rang true. He then noted that he’d read my first book, the one I had sent him, then handed me a book entitled, “The Search for the Manchurian Candidate.” He told me to read it, appraising me silently. Inwardly, I recalled a conversation with J.M. [Jackie McGauley], in which she related a conversation she’d had with Ted after a dinner engagement with Nichols. Nichols had reportedly stated to Ted that he headed a 200-man assassination team. Jackie had been too frightened to elaborate on this conversation, but had pointed out that Nichols once worked in the MK-ULTRA (Manchurian Candidate) program during the Vietnam war. This program was part of the “Phoenix Project.” Interestingly, numerous publications had mentioned that Earl Brian had also participated in the Phoenix Project during the war.

Nichols’ sister was allegedly a professional hypnotherapist, and Nichols himself was reportedly trained in the art of hypnotism. According to Riconosciuto, they all called themselves “The Chosen Ones,” wore skull and crossbones rings, and shared a common interest, if you could call it that, in the old German SS occultism, its tribal and inner circle rites.

So here’s my question: why is Ted Gunderson, self-styled enemy of Satanic Ritual Abuse, a longtime friend and partner of Robert Booth Nichols, a reputed veteran of MK-ULTRA and student of Nazi occultism? (Interestingly, when then-FBI agent Gunderson had run a background check of Nichols, he reportedly found him to be “squeaky clean.”)

Issues can be black and white, but never people. Motives can be muddied, and feet can be planted in different, and even seemingly contrary, worlds. It may not make someone particularly bad; it may just mean someone is complicated. Though sometimes, the contradictions can make them especially dangerous.

So who is Ted Gunderson? I don’t know. Hell, I don’t even know who Cheri Seymour is, or if that is her real name. (And the scene in which she describes Nichols screening her a “director’s cut” of the Zapruder film does make me, at least, question the soundness of her judgement.) But shouting “Disinfo agent!” and “COINTELPRO!” can make one feel a bit like a character in John Carpenter’s The Thing, suspecting everyone, not knowing who’s the monster. Still, they weren’t imagining the monster. Are we?

And who am I? I know the answer, but you probably don’t. So like I’ve quoted before (and it’s the Buddha, not Bob Dylan, this time): “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

I hope Noreen Gosch remembers Paul Bishop, and keeps her guard up.

posted by Jeff at 4:00 AM

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Max Boot – neocon jackass

February 17, 2008

predator_at_sunset-573x453.jpgOn War It’s Not

War Made New: War, Technology, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today, Max Boot, Gotham Books, 624 pages

by Martin Sieff

Historical surveys of war and the way technological developments change the way it is fought are common—from the tours de force of major military historians like Martin Van Creveld and William O’Neill to potboilers marketed to 12-year-old boys. In his new book, Max Boot certainly aspires to be among the former, and the enthusiastic recommendations on the book’s dust jacket from no less than Sen. John McCain, Robert Kaplan, retired Lt. Gen. Bernard Trainor, and Paul Kennedy certainly add to this impression. But War Made New is remarkably superficial and filled with the most extraordinary lacunae. It ignores—by accident or design—the most important developments in modern military technology.

Boot follows the familiar pattern of taking supposedly pivotal battles that changed military history, describing them in a dramatic and easily accessible outline, and then briefly discussing the forces that were their deciding factors. Yet his choice of battles is very bizarre. No chapter in his book covers any major battle of World War I. The Korean War and the Vietnam War are ignored, even though the former is a classic example of a theme Boot celebrates: the superiority of militaries with advanced technology.

With such technology in Korea, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps virtually annihilated the Chinese forces that vastly outnumbered them. Vietnam was different: there, the most advanced military technology, however profusely used, could not end a politically and tactically complex guerrilla conflict. Though the latter example is quite relevant to the United States’ conundrums in Iraq, Boot attempts no significant discussion of the topic. Nor does he discuss any of the anticolonial guerrilla wars, which defined major conflicts for most of the second half of the 20th century, or the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, which demonstrated the vulnerability of close support aircraft and main battle tanks to handheld missiles fired by poorly trained conscript soldiers.

But Boot does include a stirring account—filled with simplistic martial clichés that would have made Richard Harding Davis blush—of the combination of horse cavalry and high tech that supposedly worked unprecedented wonders in 2001 to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan. The trouble is, as Boot never notes, that conquering Afghanistan is extremely easy. The British did so three times in just over 80 years. In 1979, the Red Army pulled it off 20 times faster than American and Afghan allied forces did in 2001.

There was nothing epochal or revolutionary about the way the 2001 campaign was fought. In fact, it was disastrously bungled. The squeamishness and incompetence of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his right-hand man, Paul Wolfowitz, meant that insufficient U.S. Special Forces were used in the Tora Bora and Anaconda operations, allowing the key command cadres of al-Qaeda to escape—a strategic development with most disastrous consequences for the long-term war on terrorism.

Boot’s chapter on Iraq is even more inept, misleading, and downright wrong than the one on Afghanistan. The chapter’s climax is May 1, 2003, the day President Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln—which is like ending an account of World War II with the Nazis’ conquest of France or cutting off “Hamlet” in the first act and claiming that the play had a happy ending. Since that day, of course, the unending violence in Iraq has confounded the Rumsfeld-neocon contention that super-advanced technology has indeed made war new, as Boot claims in his book.

Boot does add a half-hearted and vague discussion of some of the disastrous developments in Iraq since 2003. This is especially notable for its obfuscations clearly designed to get Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Boot’s other neocon friends off the hook for failing to anticipate or prevent any of the developments he mentions. Boot bends over backward to argue that many senior American generals were on record agreeing with Rumsfeld that more troops in Iraq were unnecessary, so no one, as Boot sees it, can be held accountable. Boot neglects to note, however, that Rusmfeld ran the U.S. Armed Forces with more arrogance, hands-on micro-managing, and sheer bullying than any previous defense secretary in American history. Robert McNamara, justly excoriated in the Vietnam era, never came close. Compared to such excellent studies of the Bush-Rumsfeld policymakers’ failure to deal with the developing guerrilla war in Iraq as Thomas Ricks’s Fiasco or Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Boot’s discussion is banal.

Throughout War Made New, Boot’s historical examples of transformational military battles and campaigns are remarkably ill-chosen, capricious, or misunderstood. The battle of Köeniggrätz in 1866, for example, was not the first time rail power was used to achieve decisive concentration of force in war: the campaigns of Gens. Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman during the American Civil War were. But neither the Civil War nor Köeniggrätz was the first example of irrepressible firepower massed in combat. In 1815, the 50,000 who died at Waterloo and the thousands of British soldiers slain for negligible loss by Gen. Andrew Jackson’s numerically far inferior forces at New Orleans could attest to that. 

Boot correctly notes in passing, but does not further explore, the fact that within four years of Köeniggrätz, artillery had replaced rifles as the main killer in the Franco-Prussian War. This proved to be a far more lasting and lethal development. Artillery, not rifles or machineguns, was the great killer of World War I, especially at the climactic battle of Verdun—which, again, Boot does not discuss. The same was true of World War II.

Boot does, however, rehash the apotheosis of aircraft-carrier power at Pearl Harbor, but even this is bungled. The battle that demonstrated the potency of such power in World War II was not Pearl Harbor but Taranto a year before, when British Swordfish torpedo aircraft knocked out three Italian battleships in their heavily defended home port, thereby wiping out half of the Italian navy’s main striking power in a single blow. The Japanese navy carefully studied the Taranto attack and used it as a model for its attack on Pearl Harbor, making sure to follow the British navy’s placement of wooden fins on its torpedoes to help them operate in the shallow waters of Taranto Harbor. Boot briefly references the Taranto attack but does not discuss the operational lessons that Japan learned from it. Neither does he reference the vulnerability of giant nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to anti-ship missile attack, or the Russian-built N-SS-22 Moskvit—also manufactured by China as the Sunburn—which is designed to sink American super-carriers operating close to shore.

Nowhere does Boot discuss the campaigns of the German U-boats against Britain in both World Wars and that of the U.S. Navy’s submarines against Japan in World War II. Yet these were vastly more strategically important than the carrier battles he celebrates. Boot also excludes the key fact that America’s 12 nuclear aircraft carriers have been sitting ducks for fast-attack submarines since 1968, when a fast Soviet nuclear-powered attack submarine matched the USS Enterprise at top speed in the Pacific Ocean. That moment, vividly and thoroughly discussed in Patrick Tyler’s Running Critical, was as epochal a moment in the shift of the strategic balance at sea as Gen. Billy Mitchell’s sinking of the former German battleship Ostfriesland in a trial attack off Hampton Roads on July 21, 1921. Boot has an excellent account of the latter event but says nothing of the humiliation of the Enterprise. Since 1968, U.S. submarines have routinely scored disabling hits on American carriers in U.S. Navy war games, and the hits, Navy insiders know, are routinely unacknowledged in the official assessments of the maneuvers.

In his discussion of Germany’s blitzkrieg war that brought down France in 1940, Boot plumps for the obvious and gets even that wrong. It is clear that he does not even know what blitzkrieg is. He refers to the successful penetration tactics of the German army on the Western Front in March 1918, but only in passing. He is right to emphasize the importance of good radio communications—as he says, Gen. Heinz Guderian’s experience as a combat communications officer was of great value in this regard—and the importance of close tactical air support. But he does not grasp that the success of blitzkreig did not depend on the massed use of tanks but on their co-ordination with German attacking infantry and air power simultaneously. The German army’s emphasis on leaving tactics to small unit front line officers and the importance of using infantry to clear the way for tanks is nowhere mentioned.

Boot recognizes that France had better tanks than Germany in the campaign of 1940. (It also had lots more of them.) And he recognizes the long-established point that the key reason the French army lost in 1940 is that its ponderous command structure was still mired in the worst aspects of World War I. But he never refers once to the late U.S. Air Force Col. John Boyd, the greatest of all American military strategists and certainly the most influential and important of any strategist in the world over the past half century. He doesn’t mention Boyd’s Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) loop concept, despite its being essential to any successful understanding of the blitzkrieg operation. Nor does he mention, or appear to understand the difference, between a highly centralized second-generation army, like the French army in 1940 or the U.S. Army today, and a fast-reacting, decentralized third-generation army, like the German army in 1940. He also appears not to realize that in the course of the war, Hitler systematically stripped the Wehrmacht of its front-line initiative and tactical flexibility—its greatest strengths —and imposed a slow-reacting, ponderous, centralized decision-making structure focused on his person.

Despite being replete with key issues of the impact of technology on war and the lessons to be learned from it, most of them highly relevant today, Boot neglects to refer in any detail to the Russo-German War of 1941-45, the largest and bloodiest war in history. He wrongly claims that Stalingrad was the war’s turning point in the east; serious military historians and analysts almost all concur that the great frontal clash at Kursk in July 1943 was far more pivotal. And he fails to discuss the impact on the war of simple, easily mass-produced but militarily effective weapons, such as the T-34 tank, the Ilyushin Il-2 Stormovik tactical ground support aircraft, or the BM-13 Katyusha multiple rocket mortar that proved so important at Stalingrad and Kursk. (Updated versions of the Katyusha gave the Israeli army a nasty surprise as recently as last July when Hezbollah bombarded northern Israel with thousands of them.)

Furthermore, Boot is misleading in his chapter on modern air-war. As his example of the transforming efficacy of strategic air power—of war made new—he uses Gen. Curtis Le May’s campaign with the USAAF’s XX Bomber Command that burned down Japanese cities in the spring of 1945. But this was shooting fish in a barrel. Japan had neither sufficient technological resources nor the industrial base to create any effective air defense system. Once Le May worked out the tactics of sending in his B-29 Superfortresses flying low and filled to the brim with light incendiary devices, the outcome was inevitable.

In his brief discussion of the Battle of Britain, Boot pays tribute to the pioneering integrated fighter defense system put together by Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding of the Royal Air Force. But he does not acknowledge the crucial role that low-tech human spotters, many of them teenagers or retirees, played in supplementing the experimental radar system and giving rapid and accurate observation information about the number of aircraft, location, and altitude of Luftwaffe attacks. He wrongly credits RAF Bomber Command with eliminating half of Germany’s industrial potential by 1945. In fact, through 1943 and 1944, when the British and U.S. Eighth Army Air Force attacks on German industry were at their height, Germany’s industrial production under the direction of Albert Speer soared to record levels.

Boot’s discussion of the future of war and technology at the end of his book is even emptier and more vapid than what comes before. If accuracy in book titles were required, this work would have been called not War Made New but Clichés Made Old. Predictably, Boot sings the praises of DARPA, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency so beloved of Rumsfeld and neocon romantics. There is a brief discussion of net-centric war but absolutely nothing about the horrendous problems that the U.S. Army has experienced in trying to integrate its thousands of ad hoc-assembled systems into a new, supposedly fast-moving, and perfectly reliable one. Nor is there any discussion of all net-centric systems’ inherent vulnerability to every kind of dislocation, or of the immense resources China in particular is devoting to asymmetrical warfare programs designed to paralyze American high-tech command and communications systems. The significance of electro-magnetic pulse, or EMP, a byproduct of any nuclear explosion in the atmosphere that can disable electrical systems for hundreds if not thousands of miles around it, is nowhere mentioned, even though the high-tech wonder systems Boot celebrates can be reduced to nothing by it in an instant. And Boot fails to refer even once to the concept of Fourth Generation war, its challenge to the integrity of the nation-state, or William S. Lind’s prolific and valuable writings on it.

War Made New is significant in that it appears to represent an attempt by a prominent neoconservative to reclaim his and his friends’ reputations for expertise on modern war that were so damaged by their repeated and documented incompetence in crafting U.S. policy and dominating public discourse on the Iraq War—not to mention the unfolding fiasco in Afghanistan. The enthusiastic recommendation of Sen. McCain, an acknowledged war hero and the clear Republican frontrunner for the 2008 presidential nomination, confirms that this bogus rehabilitation remains a very real possibility. The book is therefore of significance as a political and propaganda ploy. But as serious military history or any kind of useful guide to U.S. policymaking, it is simply farcical.   
___________________________________

Martin Sieff is national security correspondent for United Press International. He has reported from more than 60 countries, covered seven guerrilla wars and ethnic conflicts and been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.

Eros, Magic, and the Death of Professor Culianu

February 10, 2008

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By Ted Anton Chapter One: Religion as a System

Every once in a while a Chicago spring offers one perfectly mica-bright, warm gift of a day. The air will be cool and fragrant with smells of cottonwood, prairie wind, and whitefish off the inland sea of Lake Michigan. The sun will glint off the lake with a hint of immortality, casting such sharply geometric shadows on the dramatic skyline that the city will look surreally emerald, as if rousing itself again to reclaim the great romance it once offered–of nature’s metropolis, gangsters, and new schools of art, literature, and economics.

If there was a place where one might look for that promise to be reclaimed in 1991, it was the campus of the University of Chicago. Founded one hundred years earlier, the school boasted 64 Nobel laureates, 113 American Academy of Arts and Sciences members, alumni who included Philip Glass and Susan Sontag, and teachers like the late Enrico Fermi and Leon Lederman. Isolated on the city’s South Side, the campus neighborhood featured the most seminaries per square mile of any spot in the world.

The reason for the clustering of seminaries around campus was the university’s Divinity School, home of scholars like Paul Tillich, who popularized a vision of Christian faith in the atomic era; Paul Ricoeur, the French thinker on theological philosophy; and Mircea Eliade, the Romanian “exile from eternity,” as he was dubbed by the New York Times. No one thinker had so profoundly studied the lost power of the “sacred” or the deeper level of life in modern times as the author of such widely read books as The Sacred and the Profane and The Myth of the Eternal Return.

May 21 at the Divinity School was marked by the excitement of the annual book sale and the anticipation of term’s end. Outside the gothic Swift Hall, graduate students chatted in groups or lounged on the stone steps. Leafy oak trees shaded a tour guide who discussed campus safety with a group of high school juniors and their parents.

Inside Room 202 of Swift Hall, Ioan Culianu was finishing up his class Fundamentals of Comparative Religion, in which the day’s subject was gnosticism. He discussed the Nag Hammadi texts, rediscovered in the modern era in 1945. “As if in a classic detective story, these scrolls had been hidden for centuries because they offered variations of the Bible, challenging the Christian church’s idea of truth,” he said. The gnostics saw life as sabotage, rebellion, and escape from the ignorant gods who ruled the world. “The point of gnostic knowledge,” he concluded, “was to use it. It was meant to change the world.” He read aloud from the prologue of one text: “`These are an offering to an ideal order that completely transcends life as we know it…. Whoever finds the interpretation of these texts will not experience death.'”

After class Culianu and some of his students headed down to the book sale. It was a Hyde Park event, attracting students, staff members, retired professors, scholars, and others who toiled in or lived near the great university’s offices and labs. The crowd filed into the Swift Common room, lined with oppressive oak wainscoting, where castoffs like Kenneth Clark’s The Nude or Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man lay stacked on tables and chairs, and on the floor. On stereo speakers Ice-T blared, rattling the dust off portraits of past deans.

At the sale graduate student Alexander Arguelles approached Culianu. That afternoon Arguelles was to give his first thesis talk to the faculty, so he sought advice from his closest friend among the professors. “I’m nervous about this,” he said.

“It’s just a rite of passage.” Culianu smiled and patted him on the back. “It’s nothing to fear. You’ll do fine. See you in a couple hours.”

Arguelles watched him walk to the stairs, trying to feel reassured.

Culianu bounded up the main stairwell. For several weeks he had been juggling a dozen different projects. Earlier in the week he had sponsored an international scholarly conference on “after-death journeys,” the first religion conference on campus in years. Entitled Other Realms: Death, Ecstasy, and Otherworldly Journeys in Recent Scholarship, it featured speakers from Barnard College, Hebrew University, Princeton, Notre Dame, and other schools. The talks had titles such as “The Ascent of the Visionary” and “Transcendence of Death.” His students Greg Spinner and Michael Allocca catered the final dinner. “He demonstrated the worldwide continuities in reports of otherworldly journeys and demanded an explanation,” said a reviewer of Culianu’s later book on the subject. A university press wanted to publish the conference papers.

He had three books in press at once–the book on otherworldly journeys, another on gnosticism, and a dictionary of religions. He had several more close to contract, including a multivolume encyclopedia of magic for Oxford University Press. He was teaching two courses, Otherworldly Journeys and Out-of-Body Experiences and Fundamentals of Comparative Religions, supervising several doctoral students, and planning his first trip in nineteen years back to his home country of Romania. He was also planning to get married.

His fiancee was Hillary Wiesner, a graduate divinity student at Harvard. Quiet and distant, she had blossomed in their relationship. His coauthor on two of the forthcoming books and numerous pieces of short fiction, she was planning to travel with him to Europe that summer and to meet his family for the first time. “We’re going to have such a party!” he would exclaim when he was feeling good about the trip. They would see Transylvania and his hometown of Iasi, where his grandfather and great-grandfather had directed the country’s oldest university. Ioan and Hillary had discussed such a trip often since the country’s 1989 revolution.

Culianu made long telephone calls to his sister late at night. She pressed him to return. He kept changing his mind. Three days before, he told her he was being threatened by a far rightist group with which a former professor of his was closely associated. She downplayed the danger: people were threatened all the time. So he kept his plane tickets. But he was more worried than he let on.

“We cannot say where these after-death journeys take place,” he had said in his concluding remarks at the conference. “Although we still mistake the space of the mind in these tales for the space outside, we are learning the former is no less powerful than the latter. Identity, power, and historical truth have their roots in these imaginative realms. Every individual thinks part of a tradition and therefore is thought by it, allowing us to perceive the obscure roots of history which go back to the dawn of Homo sapiens. And yet, the exploration of our mind space is only at the beginning.”

Culianu was also having some fun. Earlier in the month he had been the featured scholar at a national science fiction conference at the Hilton in Schaumburg, Illinois. He lectured on the Renaissance and participated in a panel exploring questions such as “Is all magic bad magic?” He defended magical practice: “Magic is not about disorder,” he said. “On the contrary, it reestablishes a peaceful coexistence between the conscious and unconscious when this coexistence is under attack.”

The conference’s featured author, science fiction writer John Crowley, had asked Culianu to be the Special Scholar Guest. Crowley had read Culianu’s Eros and Magic in the Renaissance and had been eager to meet its author. The book was dense and difficult, but it captured Crowley’s imagination. “He suggested a kind of mass hypnosis was possible, by means the Renaissance called magical but we call psychological, through the use of erotically charged images,” Crowley said. The two had met a year earlier, becoming close friends. “I never had such an intense, sudden friendship in my life,” Crowley said. For Culianu, who secretly wanted most of all to be a fantasy writer, the conference was a great inspiration. Participants in his conference sessions felt the same way about him. Conference organizer Jennifer Stevenson said chat Culianu “hit you with such an impact, he made the world seem somehow much richer and more mysterious than you ever imagined.”

On the last night of the conference, Culianu read his fiction for the first time in America to a packed audience in a suite nicknamed the Dharma Buns Cafe. Cowritten with Hillary, the story was called “The Language of Creation” and was to be published in National Public Radio columnist Andrei Codrescu’s magazine, Exquisite Corpse. It describes a scholar very much like Culianu, “forty years old, living in a high-rise security building on a Lake,” teaching at a “grey and renowned Midwestern University,” to whom many strange coincidences occur, almost all of which were based on his real life. The story’s main character comes to possess an ancient music box, which he believes contains a key to the language spoken by God: the Language of Creation. Yet the three former owners of the box each met with murder.

Although the narrator tries to break the code, he cannot. Gradually, however, he begins to feel threatened by the strange occurrences or “charismata” he associates with the box, wondering whether they signal some greater meaning than he realizes. The “charisms” included the ability to divine events, but only petty ones like whether his doorman will shave his mustache, and a “misplaced love charism,” which caused certain female students to develop unwanted crushes on him. Culianu read: “After a certain moment my conviction of an occult connection between the charismata and the box had become so solid that I was tempted to make a test of its powers against a distasteful political regime…. The hypothesis that I might imminently resume the fate of [the former owners] came to haunt me.” After much indecision, the narrator leaves the music box at a yard sale and escapes to freedom from what had become an intellectual prison posed by its secret.

At the end of the conference, Hillary Wiesner noticed that her fiance seemed terribly distracted. He locked the keys in their rented red Toyota while it was still running. He could not remember when they were to see each other next. He kept pressing her to stay, not to return to Cambridge. When he saw her off at O’Hare airport, he looked sadder than she had ever seen him, as though he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. What he desperately needed, she thought, was a good vacation.

* * * At about quarter to one on May 21, Culianu was in the Swift Hall canteen–a small, crowded, stuffy basement coffee shop with plastic-sealed Danish but good Kona coffee, falafel, and a buzz of heated conversation. There he chatted with students, then took the main stairwell up two steps at a time back to the third floor.

He stopped in his secretary’s office at the end of the hall. It was quieter up here. Classes were in session, and seminar room doors were closed. He asked if he had any messages, picked up his mail, and walked to his office a few yards away.

Sitting at her desk, secretary Gwen Barnes listened to the droning voice of another faculty member dictating his book chapter on her headphones. She often worked through lunch because it was the only way to stay ahead of her assignments. Of the three faculty members she served, Ioan Culianu was by far her favorite. Raised in black South Side Chicago, she had felt an instinctive empathy with him when they first met. He greeted her in the morning with a bright “Good morning, Gwendolyn!” and treated her as a colleague. He had made her an editorial associate on his scholarly quarterly, Incognita: International Journal for Cognitive Studies in the Humanities. He took her to lunch and remembered her birthday. He encouraged her to earn her masters’ degree. A university secretary for twelve years, she knew the academic world well enough to recognize that his attitude toward his secretary was not typical.

Across from her another secretary was mouthing something at her. Gwen Barnes looked up and pulled off the headphones.

“What?”

“Did you hear that?”

“Car backfiring,” said the third secretary in the room.

“It sounded like a firecracker. Only more high-pitched.”

* * * Professor Jerry Brauer sat in his corner office, wearing his trademark bow tie as he prepared for his seminar. He had opened his tall, lead glass windows to look out over the sunny quad. A former dean and a specialist in Puritanism, he had his yellowed lecture outline out and was reviewing it, concentrating. He gradually became aware that he was going to have to go to the men’s room. He decided to finish what he was working on.

It was a little after one o’clock when he heard the loud pop. He kept working, but a part of his mind went off on its own. He tried to decide what could cause such a sound: Car backfire? No. Can’t be, road’s too far away. Gunshot? No. Can’t be. Swift Hall, one o’clock.

It was not more than five minutes later when he decided he couldn’t wait. He had to use the men’s room. He headed up through the swinging doors, taking the steep service stairs. The steps echoed. Downstairs an overflowing dumpster stood beside a door that opened into the lobby; up above was another set of swinging doors. The stairs were deserted. He came out on the third floor, directly opposite the men’s room. A tall, lanky young man whom Brauer did not recognize stood out in front. Brauer pushed the bathroom door. The student grabbed his arm. “Don’t go in, Professor Brauer.”

Brauer had already pushed in far enough to see the familiar lavatory with its blue stalls, yellow tile, fluorescent lights. A student peered at the second stall from the window. It was deathly quiet. A hand dangled beneath the stall door, with curled white fingers poking out from a turquoise shirt cuff. Blood made a small pool on the floor.

“Something terrible’s happened,” said the student.

“I can see that! We gotta help!” Brauer said.

“We already called for help.”

The student turned toward Brauer. He was short, blond, and very scared. It was Jim Egge. He looked white as a sheet. “Dr. Brauer!” he said. “He’s dead.”

“Who? Who’s dead?

“I’m not sure.”

Suddenly a congregation of firemen, campus security officers, and paramedics came running down the hall. At first there were perhaps five people, followed quickly by another group that included a Chicago police sergeant and two beat cops. Everything happened quickly. Within minutes a paramedic wheeled in a stretcher. After a moment two Chicago detectives stepped in. By then there was a melee in the hall. Clark Gilpin, the current dean, had arrived. “Jerry!” he said. “What is it?”

Brauer pushed him toward the detective. “This is our dean,” he said. “What’s going on? We have to know who it is.”

“Sure, but not right now. We’re too busy.”

Following them out came the paramedics with the stretcher. An oxygen mask covered the victim’s face. Clark Gilpin asked to look at the face. The paramedic removed the mask. Gilpin peered down. The victim’s face had swollen gray and expressionless. He looked like a fifty- or sixty-year-old man. No blood-soaked cavity or glaring wound revealed the violence of the death. Gilpin turned to Brauer. “I don’t know him,” he said.

“Well then, who does?” Brauer asked.

Jerry Brauer returned to the seminar room where his students waited, but no one wanted to discuss American revivalism. They kept hearing footsteps moving outside and a low hubbub. The book sale continued. Afterward Brauer would think: Why had no one come running when the shot was fired? Why did it take the police so long to cordon off the building’s exits? If only he had not waited to complete his review of his notes, he might have seen the killer. He could not stop thinking about it.

* * * Gwen Barnes never heard the shot. She first learned of it from another secretary. Only two yards from the bathroom, they never thought of it as a gunshot. A young man came running in, telling her to call the university police. It seemed to her that the security officers took forever to come. She called again. After hanging up she hesitated, then went to look. In the men’s room sunlight streamed from the courtyard window, bathing the 1950s floor tile. Blood was spreading from the fourth stall, shining in the fluorescent light. For a long moment the scene held her–the yellow and black specked tile, the hand, and an unusual opal watch that looked somehow familiar. Just then a loud rushing sound made her jump out of her skin–the urinals’ automatic flush. She left.

Later she too saw the body on the stretcher. Despite the khaki trousers, turquoise striped shirt, yellow tie, maroon-bordered socks, and watch, she did not know who it was. It was almost 2:00 P.M. when a Chicago patrolman asked to use her phone. As she talked with another secretary, she overheard him spelling a name.

“C-u-l-i-a, n-o, a, n-u-u, no, U!”

A wave swept her up and carried her forward. She ran down the main steps, tears streaming down her face, not hearing herself screaming: “Oh God, oh God. It’s Mr. Culianu! No, no, not Mr. Culianu! Not Mr. Culianu!” In the hall conversations stopped. Gwen rushed into Dean Gilpin’s office, her cries rising in a loud wail. “It’s Mr. Culianu!” she said.

“No, no, it’s not.”

“Yes it is! Yes it is!”

* * * At 3:30 when his seminar had a break, Jerry Brauer strode down to the dean’s office. By then the rumor was spreading around the building that someone, maybe Ioan Culianu, had committed suicide. Most students could not believe it. Culianu? One of the happiest professors there? Small groups milled in the lobby and on the front steps. The book sale crowd still moved freely in and out; the stereo belted out concert announcements for the month. A few policemen patrolled the building while detectives Ellen Weiss and Al McGuire questioned a student who had made the error of telephoning, hyperventilating in his fear, to find out if the rumor was true.

In his somber office Gilpin sat quietly in a swivel chair. Ashen, he took a minute between telephone calls. He stared at Brauer. “It was Ioan Culianu, Jerry,” he said. “And I didn’t even recognize him …”

“What happened?”

“Well, the police think it might be suicide.”

“Did they find the gun?”

“No, no, there’s no gun.”

“Where do they think the gun is?”

“They say maybe he had a friend … who took it away.”

“And implicate oneself in something like this? Suicide? He’s just got his green card, he’s going back to see his family, he’s getting married … Wasn’t he sitting on the toilet?”

“Yeah.”

“Come on, what human being would go in, pull his pants down, take a gun, and stick it in the back of his head? Where are these guys coming from?”

“Well, it might be murder.”

“Might be?”

The initial suicide report was in the newspapers, and it was on television. After twenty-four hours, though, when the medical examiner’s report came in, there was no question. It was murder.

* * * Greg Spinner and Michael Allocca noticed an ambulance outside Swift Hall when they unpacked groceries for the weekly Wednesday lunch for divinity students and faculty. That week’s lunch talk was to cover the theology of the ABC television series Twin Peaks. After they finished, Patty Mitchell approached Greg out in front of building.

“Greg? Did you hear?”

“Hear what?”

“Ioan committed suicide.”

“Ioan? Don’t be ridiculous. I just saw him this morning. He’s the last person in the world who would commit suicide.”

Mitchell gave him a funny look.

Greg walked across the leafy quad to the Regenstein Library, hardly giving a thought to Patty’s rumor. He remembered to note in his calendar a reminder to call Ioan; they had a longstanding date to get together as soon as his teacher’s hectic life calmed down. After settling into his study carrel, Greg saw another Divinity School friend, Jason Gerber, approaching him. Jason’s eyes were red. “Greg,” he burst out. “Ioan’s committed suicide!”

“Who’s spreading this rumor? I just heard it from Patty Mitchell. It’s ridiculous. Ioan did not, would not, could not, ever commit suicide.” But slowly Greg rose and headed back to find out exactly what was going on.

Out on the quad the spring air carried something soft, like the breath of memory. His mind started to race. Without knowing it he ran a series of deductions, just as Ioan claimed the history of an idea or religion would follow. Number one: Ioan would not commit suicide. Number two: here were ambulance and, now, squad cars. Number three: two people had repeated a rumor Ioan was dead. If it was true, if Ioan was dead, then it had to be murder. If it was murder … Who would murder Ioan? A year earlier he had told Greg he was getting into “dangerous territory” in some writing … But what writing? Greg was running over now. One look at Gwen Barnes’s stricken face and his neat train of thought abruptly ended.

* * * Later that day Culianu’s students gathered on the steps of Swift Hall, crying, trying to console each other. “We just sat there, hugging each other. We couldn’t speak,” said Greg. Other students came up, each pressing the other for news. There was little. No gun, no money stolen, no sign of struggle.

In the evening the group headed over to Jimmy’s, a favorite student bar where Ioan had often gone with them after class. Sitting apart from them in the dark, seedy front room, amid the scattered tables and some broken chairs, was Nathaniel Deutsch, assistant editor of Incognita. He did not join in their reminiscing and questioning. Nathaniel’s mother was East European, and partly for that reason Ioan Culianu had shared a special relationship with him. In the darkness Nathaniel listened to the others and stared blankly at the dusty editions of baseball encyclopedias and almanacs kept on the shelf to settle bar arguments. He rested his head on his arms and began crying for relatives lost in the Holocaust. He did not, exactly, know why.

* * * In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Culianu’s twenty-seven-year-old fiancee, Hillary Wiesner, was in a deep afternoon sleep. Often Ioan would telephone her after he woke from a nap, describing a dream that would be exactly what she was doing, or explaining something significant about his next publishing move or some obscure cosmology. It was part of the fabric of life with him. Before Ioan, Hillary had hardly held hands with a man. Her friends described her as intense, otherworldly, and one of the smartest women at Radcliffe College. Incredibly funny. But men? No, none, not before Ioan.

The phone rang, and she jumped. Her sleep had been dreamless. She sat bolt upright, frozen. It was Wendy Doniger, Ioan’s colleague, holder of the Mircea Eliade chair in the faculty of the Divinity School, a powerful department member. “Hillary? Hillary, you better sit down. Are you sitting down?”

“What?”

There was a silence. “I’m afraid I have to tell you … Ioan has been killed.”

“What?”

“I … I … Hillary, the police are asking if you know of anyone who would do such a thing. I’m so terribly sorry …”

For about one minute she couldn’t breathe. Maybe it was ten minutes. Oh, she finally thought. Tears couldn’t come. She looked at her wall, covered with pictures of him–from Milan, Madrid, Cairo, from the Metra train in Chicago, from Rome and Courmayeur and Paris. He was grinning in front of the big American flag she had bought him, “flown over the Capitol!” he liked to tell visitors. He was giving her the V for Victory sign he liked to make. He was probably America’s biggest patriot … Slowly, methodically, she began taking the pictures down.

She hung up and telephoned her mother at work in the Board of Trustees office at Amherst College. By the time she had hung up again, her mother saying she was on her way, Hillary was already thinking about packing her bags. She pulled out her suitcase, still with the O’Hare destination tag from her last visit. It dawned on her very easily, very clearly, as one might figure out a difficult mathematics problem and know instantly that the solution was right and true and something more, fated. She had thought about it before, tried to prepare herself, even discussed it with her friends. You had to have a myth for your life, he once told her, some story you discover to live by and turn to at your darkest moments. Now, after all this time, just when everything seemed to have become so wonderful for them, she remembered. She had never taken the time to find one.

© 1996 Ted AntonNorthwestern University Press

The Politics of Extinction, Remain a parasite OR become an Earth Warrior

February 9, 2008

img_0373.jpg

By Captain Paul Watson

We are at the present time living in an age of mass extinction. Each year, more than 20,000 unique species disappear from this planet forever. This represents more that two species per hour. Species extinction is the fuel that supports the ever increasing progress of the machinery of civilization.

Individual humans are for the most part insulated from the reality of species loss. Alienated from the natural world, guided by anthropocentric attitudes, the average human being is unaware and non-caring about the biological holocaust that is transpiring each and every day.

The facts are clear. More plant and animal species will go through extinction within our generation than have been lost thorough natural causes over the past two hundred million years. Our single human generation, that is, all people born between 1930 and 2010 will witness the complete obliteration of one third to one half of all the Earth’s life forms, each and every one of them the product of more than two billion years of evolution. This is biological meltdown, and what this really means is the end to vertebrate evolution on planet Earth.

Nature is under siege on a global scale. Biotopes, i.e., environmentally distinct regions, from tropical and temperate rainforests to coral reefs and coastal estuaries, are disintegrating in the wake of human onslaught.

The destruction of forests and the proliferation of human activity will remove more than 20 percent of all terrestrial plant species over the next fifty years. Because plants form the foundation for entire biotic communities, their demise will carry with it the extinction of an exponentially greater number of animal species — perhaps ten times as many faunal species for each type of plant eliminated.

Sixty-five million years ago, a natural cataclysmic event resulted in extinction of the dinosaurs. Even with a plant foundation intact, it took more than 100,000 years for faunal biological diversity to re-establish itself. More importantly, the resurrection of biological diversity assumes an intact zone of tropical forests to provide for new speciation after extinction. Today, the tropical rain forests are disappearing more rapidly than any other bio-region, ensuring that after the age of humans, the Earth will remain a biological, if not a literal desert for eons to come. The present course of civilization points to ecocide — the death of nature.

Like a run-a-way train, civilization is speeding along tracks of our own manufacture towards the stone wall of extinction. The human passengers sitting comfortably in their seats, laughing, partying, and choosing to not look out the window. Environmentalists are those perceptive few who have their faces pressed against the glass, watching the hurling bodies of plants and animals go screaming by. Environmental activists are those even fewer people who are trying desperately to break into the fortified engine of greed that propels this destructive specicidal juggernaut. Others are desperately throwing out anchors in an attempt to slow the monster down while all the while, the authorities, blind to their own impending destruction, are clubbing, shooting and jailing those who would save us all.

SHORT MEMORIES

Civilized humans have for ten thousand years been marching across the face of the Earth leaving deserts in their footprints. Because we have such short memories, we forgot the wonder and splendor of a virgin nature. We revise history and make it fit into our present perceptions.

For instance, are you aware that only two thousand years ago, the coast of North Africa was a mighty forest? The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians built powerful ships from the strong timbers of the region. Rome was a major exporter of timber to Europe. The temple of Jerusalem was built with titanic cedar logs, one image of which adorns the flag of Lebanon today. Jesus Christ did not live in a desert, he was a man of the forest. The Sumerians were renowned for clearing the forests of Mesopotamia for agriculture.

But the destruction of the coastal swath of the North African forest stopped the rain from advancing into the interior. Without the rain, the trees died and thus was born the mighty Sahara, sired by man and continued to grow southward at a rate of ten miles per year, advancing down the length of the continent of Africa.

And so will go Brazil. The precipitation off the Atlantic strikes the coastal rain forest and is absorbed and sent skyward again by the trees, falling further into the interior. Twelve times the moisture falls and twelve times it is returned to the sky — all the way to the Andes mountains. Destroy the coastal swath and desertify Amazonia — it is as simple as that. Create a swath anywhere between the coast and the mountains and the rains will be stopped. We did it before while relatively primitive. We learned nothing. We forgot.

So too, have we forgotten that walrus once mated and bred along the coast of Nova Scotia, that sixty million bison once roamed the North American plains. One hundred years ago, the white bear once roamed the forests of New England and the Canadian Maritime provinces. Now it is called the polar bear because that is where it now makes its last stand.

EXTINCTION IS DIFFICULT TO APPRECIATE

Gone forever are the European elephant, lion and tiger. The Labrador duck, giant auk, Carolina parakeet will never again grace this planet of ours. Lost for all time are the Atlantic grey whales, the Biscayan right whales and the Stellar sea cow. Our children will never look upon the California condor in the wild or watch the Palos Verde blue butterfly dart from flower to flower.

Extinction is a difficult concept to fully appreciate. What has been is no more and never shall be again. It would take another creation and billions of years to recreate the passenger pigeon. It is the loss of billions of years of evolutionary programming. It is the destruction of beauty, the obliteration of truth, the removal of uniqueness, the scarring of the sacred web of life

To be responsible for an extinction is to commit blasphemy against the divine. It is the greatest of all possible crimes, more evil than murder, more appalling than genocide, more monstrous than even the apparent unlimited perversities of the human mind. To be responsible for the complete and utter destruction of a unique and sacred life form is arrogance that seethes with evil, for the very opposite of evil is live. It is no accident that these two words spell out each other in reverse.

And yet, a reporter in California recently told me that “all the redwoods in California are not worth the life on one human being.” What incredible arrogance. The rights a species, any species, must take precedence over the life of an individual or another species. This is a basic ecological law. It is not to be tampered with by primates who have molded themselves into divine legends in their own mind. For each and every one of the thirty million plus species that grace this beautiful planet are essential for the continued well-being of which we are all a part, the planet Earth — the divine entity which brought us forth from the fertility of her sacred womb.

As a sea-captain I like to compare the structural integrity of the biosphere to that of a ship’s hull. Each species is a rivet that keeps the hull intact. If I were to go into my engine room and find my engineers busily popping rivets from the hull, I would be upset and naturally I would ask them what they were doing.

If they told me that they discovered that they could make a dollar each from the rivets, I could do one of three things. I could ignore them. I could ask them to cut me in for a share of the profits, or I could kick their asses out of the engine room and off my ship. If I was a responsible captain, I would do the latter. If I did not, I would soon find the ocean pouring through the holes left by the stolen rivets and very shortly after, my ship, my crew and myself would disappear beneath the waves.

And that is the state of the world today. The political leaders, i.e., the captains at the helms of their nation states, are ignoring the rivet poppers or they are cutting themselves in for the profits. There are very few asses being kicked out of the engine room of spaceship Earth.

With the rivet poppers in command, it will not be long until the biospheric integrity of the Earth collapses under the weight of ecological strain and tides of death come pouring in. And that will be the price of progress — ecological collapse, the death of nature, and with it the horrendous and mind numbing specter of massive human destruction.

And where does that leave us, dear reader? Do you intend to remain in your seat, oblivious to the impending destruction? Have you got you face pressed up against the window, watching the grim reapings of progress? Or are you engaged in throwing out anchors, sacrificing the materialistic pleasures of civilization and risking your all, that your planet and your children may live?

The choice is unique to this generation. Future generations will not have the chance and those that came before us did not have the vision nor theknowledge. It is up to us — you and I.

Remain a parasite OR become an Earth Warrior. Serve your Mother and prosper OR serve civilization and besmear yourself with the filth and guilt of ecocide.


for more about Paul Watson, and what is happening now, see Sea Shepherd website.

http://www.theyorkshirelad.ca/12loweringtheante/loweringtheante.html

February 9, 2008

Do their Momas still love ’em?

LOWERING THE ANTE

Thanq God for the internet, that’s what I say. How many people are with me expressing dismay at all the surprise over the US government’s lying, cheating, torturing and corruption? . . . Oh oh oh, this is not our U S of A everyone laments.

Oh yes it is!

Official murder, manipulation of elections all over the world as well as at home has been going on forever. We just didn’t know or pretended we didn’t know.

Blame Dubya sure. Why not? Blame every president back to Washington himself. But above all blame the horror of complacency at the Lobo Lounge! The horror. The horror!

Now the internet bloggers, bless them, make liars out of MSM that can’t play block anymore. MSM tries but it can’t keep up. Anyone who has traveled and lived in the third world knows of the violence and the hate it engender towards the main perpetrator, the US and the UK too, and we’ve known it for decades. In fact the UK taught the US all it knows about imperial violence. Stat . . .

Dr. John Brand is a frequent contributor to the many Internet news sources: I enjoy reading his astute observations. He often quotes Paul MacLean’s “Brain Roots to the Will-to-Power.” The theory being that what appears to be a universal violent human tendency is inevitably rooted in our brain ganglia as inherited from our, eons ago, pre-Cambrian ancestors.

Which gets me to wondering. The reptilian brain is obviously a part of all of us. As Dr. Brand explains the difference between the immature and mature mind is the ability for the latter to rein in its overt sociopathic tendencies.

But has Maclean got it right? His contention that we are at the mercy of a reptilian cortex developed eons ago sort of gives license to submit to the inevitable consequences and, accordingly, commit whatever violence and mayhem fits our fancy with the excuse that, well . . .we are not responsible. Why not kill everything that moves: err . . . like

THE CARLYLE GROUP.
The best “guns-but-no-butter” your taxes can buy.
Pick out England’s ex-PM John Major.
See if you can pick out the chair reserved
for England’s current PM Tony Blair:
the one “Poppie” Bush used to sit in!
Canada’s Jimmy Pattison is busting
his buttons to slime in.

These guys make billions
KILLING YOUR KIDS!!

The American tape worm.

fulfilling our Mesozoic destiny?

I wonder, does not circumstance, economic / biological / political / cultural (the old Margaret Mead / Franz Boaz question) induced behavior, also play a role in forming our response to the milieu in which we live? Even the most mature mind will surely grab at opportunity if it believes it can get way with the social consequences.

Naw, don’t let science rationalize the horror away: from the Roman, British, all the repulsive empires of history and now the American empire. Reptilian brain, ganglia, nonsense! Destructive violence comes from a ruling caste who take it upon themselves to kill, maim and destroy anything that gets in the way of their psychotic, rampant avarice. While nice people whine complicitly in the background!

Capitalism is war! War is America!

I have never been a believer in left / right political labeling. As I follow the Internet news sources I am beginning to discern a holier than thou attitude embraced by those, the supposed left, opposed to current trends: as though to say we are not to blame. It is not our responsibility. There is a subliminal implication that President George W. Bush is an American anomaly and when the U.S. gets back to its roots in the Constitution all will be well.

Personally I do not see it that way. The United States of America, no matter which “party”, no matter who the president, has been dispensing death and destruction for over two centuries. Indeed what I see is an uncontrolled bully menacing the world, on a whim, consistently. The political “left,” or “right,” whatever those terms mean, have been complicit as much as Eisenhower’s “military industrial complex.”

Stanley Kowalski – Colonel Kurtz
America then and now!

Ironically, winding down his presidency, Eisenhower, the most powerful man in the world, who by-the-way also revealed himself to be a persistent liar over the 1960 U2 incident, whined about the “military industrial complex” but did nothing to curtail its influence: in power he was full of it.

Can anyone really dispute, the United States of America has always been controlled by a violent, soviet-style socialist government (the oligarchy within the State). Just because it excludes the majority from its benefits does not convince. To be in the loop, is to be in a cradle to the grave paradise! The US has consistently subsidized, sheltered and supported a large militaristic cohort of society against the vicissitudes of inevitability. The taxing of the many has always sheltered the few: socialism! That Americans can be deluded so easily just spells attention deficiency.

In contrast to the erstwhile British Empire the ruling castes of the U.S. Empire shares, with the “working classes,” some of its ill-gotten gains, albeit reluctantly. Shared, though is hardly the word. Indeed, the American public has been, and is, complicit in official violence and corruption. The be-happy phrase, “don’t equate the actions of the US government with the desires of the American people” does not let anyone off the hook!

In order to understand a people, any people, in this case the U.S.A. read the semiotics of their culture. Such as: –

OLIGARCHY!

When, Madeline Albright****, then U.S. Ambassador to the UN was asked on U.S. television what she felt about the fact that over 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of sanctions her now, notorious, reply was that “It was a hard choice but that, all things considered, we think the price is worth it.”

And while Billie Holliday was singing “Strange Fruits” Louis Armstrong was singing “Oh what a wonderful world!”

He’s buying!

Hey cummon! Let’s get one thing straight. George W. Bush is not a foreign object imposed upon the body politic of America. I mean, for God’s sake, after all they have seen of him he still won the election with all of ’em grovelling at his knees! Foreign press may wax eloquent on Bush’s malapropisms but they go over like hot cakes in Heartland. George Bush is America! Spoiled-child scion of a well-entrenched ruling caste that he is. Nevertheless, a gullible US public is under the delusion he is one of them.

Where are the best jobs: the juicy salaries? Building bombs and domestic spying, of course. Should all Americans, or for that matter, all of us North of Rio Bravo, look in the mirror they will see that “Smirk.” Get used to it. Because that is the future!

Behind every great fortune
lies a great crime.

Honore Balzac

That off the cuff remark, “. . . the chick was in the way!” says it all. No!

Now don’t go around accusing me of America-Hate. I do not hate America. I wish it well in its on-going endeavor to find itself. No. I do not hate America. I am scared to death of America: such infantile minds wielding all that weaponry and firepower!

What is going on today is nothing new. How far back do you want to go? I mean, good grief the list is endless! Who started the Barbary Wars (1801)? Monroe doctine 1823. The Alamo: the first un-provoked war (1836): poof, there went half of Mexico. Here comes the cavalry: goodbye the indigene. Was honest Abe honest? He was an institutional murderer as was general Lee who ordered Pickett’s charge (1863). The USS Maine: yup, another provocation (1898). Was Warren Harding (Teapot Dome: 1924) disconnected? Mohammed Mossadegh, 1953. Was Lyndon Johnson (Gulf of Tonkin: 1964) honest? My Lia 1968; Was Richard Nixon (1974) a crook? Was Ronald Reagan (Iran/Contra: 1983) with it? The old man and Panama ’89! Highway of death, 1991; Janet Reno****, Waco 1995. Clinton blasted al-Shifa pharmaceutical company, 1998 and bombed the hell out of Kosovo. Fallujah and Abu Ghraib 2004, H.V.A.C. S.U.V’s: environment: who cares? Haiti today! Was Mackenzie King, prime minister of Canada (1921-48) after he had been employed as a strikebreaking goon for the Rockefeller interests in Colorado, a liberal?

Michael Moore’s erstwhile pin-up boy,

Recent horrors perpetrated upon the
world by these two international criminals
will not be expiated by simply
voting them out.
Oh no, their crimes are endemic
to their respective jurisdictions.
History teaches they may kill,
maim and torture with impunity.
Nothing short of a massive
paradigm shift
can awaken the opiated
mass to its complicity
in their horrific deeds!

General Wesley Clark. General? Popular in Texas eh: that figures! What do generals know about running a country. Aren’t generals trained killers? Heartland’ll luv’ ‘im!

Bush and his historic deficit! Mexico’s hero Benito Juarez who won the war of reform (1861), and bumped poor old Maximilian off, was a supposed liberal. He too faced a massive deficit of foreign debt. He invented privatization. Juarez confiscated church land with the good will of the campesinos, who fully expected to be the recipients, then sold it off to the haciendados to pay off the debt (sound like British Columbia’s D.U.I. Premier Gordon Campbell?), creating massive landed estates, and thus setting the scene for the Porfiriato and the revolution. What happened to the debt? Well it just got larger. So did the haciendas. It is even greater today. So what’s new?

Liberal? – American Idol! Democracy? – American Idol! Does al-Qaida exist? – American Idol! Did WMD’s exist? – American Idol! Is Tony Blair a liar? – American Idol! (Who’s Tony Blair?) Is George Bush a moron? – American Idol! You’re fired Q.E.D!

Well, at last someone is beginning to see the light: making the right connections. Even though it is just a majority of one: i.e. me, despite the hesitant back-tracking of a disparate few! Until we get beyond left /right arguing and get down to the real questions mendacity rules.

Big news in America!!!!

Another one of my favourite web news correspondents is John Chuckman. One of his more interesting articles attempts to draw a parallel between President George W. Bush and Adolph Hitler. The article drew on several characteristics common to Hitler and President George W. Bush. Good comparison? I don’t thinq so!

Both, supposedly, were products of their times. But their times where different. I can speak on the Hitler times because I lived through them and was a recipient of the whiffs of cordite he dispensed.

Anyway the comparison is meaningless. Hitler was an alienated angry man in search of legitimacy within the hopeless aftermath of WW1. He found it in destruction. Prior to WW1 Austria, Germany’s, and Europe’s was a cultivated urbane society, paradoxically within an ethos of brutal imperialism, with down trodden masses craving education and enlightenment.

President George W. Bush, the product of a privileged disinterested family bent on greed for greed’s sake, reflects the ethos of American values. The USA, too, is a brutal imperia that, in contrast to pre-WW1 Europe, is condoned by, the spoils of which are shared by, the American people: a people that comes from two centuries of violence, destruction and indigenous genocide. George W. Bush is a scion of a complacent, albeit self-loathing people, saturated in profligacy and self-indulgence.

Universal American education, that is, or was,

This guy
does the lying.

These guys
do the believing!

available to all, is xenophobic prejudice.

President George W. Bush is quite different to what Hitler was! Hitler was not ignorant. Hitler was an ascetic: Bush has an addictive personality.

He finds legitimacy in ignorance and irresponsibility, if that makes sense! Bush finds satisfaction, gullibly, in feeding on greed. Furthermore, Adolph Hitler was the recipient of the Iron Cross for bravery in the trenches. Bush and his clique avoided all that!

The American people do not crave peace and enlightenment. They just crave the oblivion of wanting more (whatever more is: who cares?). As was conclusively demonstrated, fraud notwithstanding, in the recent presidential elections!

There is mounting evidence to suggest the great “moral majority,” of the disengaged, in the United States, rather than congenitally violent, are not just stupid, eager to be “pit-lamped” by whatever snake oil salesman’s (i.e. Arnold S.) bright mirages flashes before their eyes, they are very, very dangerous to the well being of Earth.

The dinosaurs, our supposed intellectual progenitors,

Janus head.

Both of these two self-serving
delusions are irrelevant.
Expect an abrupt deterioration
in your profligate
life-style soon.
No matter who “wins”.

reptilian cortex and all, were violent: yes! But they did not dress up in military uniforms at the behest of one sociopathic loony, rampaging around wantonly slaughter their own. Kill they did, but in self-defense and for food. They were not stupid! They lasted for millions of years!

How often do we assure ourselves those wonderful young people serving in “our” military are innocents seeking a college education? Preserving “freedom” to boot! Realistically, truth be known, those youngsters believe they are immortal, until reality reared its ugly head, zapping digitized monsters that can be wiped out with a twiddle of the joystick: no blowback, no consequences.

“Bring ’em on . . .” (GWB’s direct quote from Star Wars IV). War can be fun if you’re hiding in the White House basement bunker munching pretzels: lucrative too if you have the right friends! It can even be fun sitting in a fifty-ton tank potting off “rag-heads” especially coming home be-deck in “medals. And, hey, what could be more fun for three star general than vicariously torturing and sexually abusing defenseless prisoners with impunity! Why one of them even said so recently, “killing people is fun.” Now if that isn’t Clint Eastwood’s America what is?

A US tank did this.
Your clean-cut, mid-West neighbour’s
kid could be the driver!

It is my contention that we in the western world are all responsible, especially citizens of the U.S. who have enjoyed, for decades, profligate corruption and excess life style. Happy nice hard working, church-going suburban, families have for decades lived off the brutal rampages of their proxies the world over.

Were it not the flower children who eventually allowed, by default or otherwise, Ronald Reagan his full head? Even today Ronald Reagan is universally idolized, which just goes to show how morally bankrupt heartland America is. And his administration was only marginally less criminal than the current one.

“Farewell the big wars
That make ambition virtue!”

Othello.
William Shakespear.

How Jimmy Carter qualified for a Nobel Peace Prize, with Zbigniew Brzezinski as national security advisor sure beats me! Peanut farmer Carter could, as president (I mean this guy was supposed to be the most powerful man in the world! No?) have revoked import tariffs on peanuts. Surely that one generous gesture would have done more for poor African farmers than his petty grand standing: hammering a few nails, cameras rolling, at low-cost-housing!

And now the Bush / Blair Nobel Peace nomination? Sir Tommy Franks Bart. Jesus Christ, what next? Surely another icon of moral bankruptcy? Go figure!

Look, we are talking criminal pathology here, not politics! The issue is not left/right, neo-con/neo-liberal, hawk/dove! The issue is life-style. So long as 5% +/- of the world’s population continue

Beware false prophets.
Her 50th?
The tab could have fed millions!

to drain opportunity and resources from a world of diminishing returns, insisting on a profligate corrupt life style, expect more insecurity, not less!

Any romantic notion of what lies between the ears of Mr. and Mrs. Heartland USA, the leave it to Beaver legend, is dispelled by accounting for the blizzard of porn Spam that litters our in-box every morning. And have no illusions, Mr. and Mrs Heartland, American voters all, are almost 100% behind their government’s criminal belligerence.

Consider the ask-no-questions assassinations of the Kennedy Bros. and MLK!

Obesity has attained pandemic proportions: “Hey yank, no one is pointing a gun at yer head. No one is stuffing that junk down yer gullet.” Heartland won’t even take responsibility for its own body, to say nothing of its government’s actions! Obesity per se is not your problem. Manuafacturing obesity-guilt, transferring personal guilt away from what you are doing to the world, is!

Rice pudding.

Observe America’s penchant for obsequious celebrity worship. Rush, Paris, George, Michael, Krispy Kreme, Oprah, Abby, Kevin Costner’s “Wyatt Earp” for sanctimonious violence; Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch;” John Wayne’s, “The Alamo” xenophobic lies, and the perfidious sequal: Michael Eisner’s version. And now governor Schwarzenegger: errr . . . what is it called, “democracy” “demagoguery” or is it just money?

No need to study the semiotics of U.S. architecture very closely:

That says it all?
His popularity is way down.
Who cares? He’s got Diebold.
Only in America . . .

from the frantic to bathos. Witness it lurch violently through Frank Gehry’s grotesque and obscenely expensive, adolescent cries for attention, banal phallic mediocrity to dysfunctional conurbations.

Listen to the whining, superficially repetitive

Mission accomplished!
And what precisely does
Bush thinq he has accomplished?

commercial ballads of unrequited co-dependencies.

Recently there has arisen much concern that the United States of America may, may indeed, become a fascist dictatorship. Truly amazing. The USA has been a fascist dictatorship for decades. Most Americans are oblivious to this state because they are couch potatoes: drugged on consumerism, Nascar machoism, television, Hollywood and mesmerised by bimbo anchor news.

U. S. media news boils down to a cute hair-do . . . is there any? Try finding anything that resembles a sensitive heart-felt interpretation of the human condition in the video store. It is there sequestered amongst a barrage of gratuitous violence, casual sex, militarism and control freaks.

When will ordinary US voters come to terms with their personal complicity when media predators like Michael Moore pump out pefidious money making distractions like BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE?

Sort of makes Leo Strauss’s point: lie to the hio-pollio for their own good. Some good! The flatulent, borborygmic three levels of “soi disant” checks and balances tells us where America is. No!

“All I wanna do is have some fun. I’ve a feeling I’m not the only one.
All I wanna do is have some fun until the Sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard”
Sheryl Crow.

****Just a thought: Who said,
“when women get their hands on the levers of power the world will be a kinder, gentler place!”

Read the semiotics! And that, ladies and gentlemen of the other 95% is the American mind! May the world be protected from it?

January / February 2003 I visited the UK, the place of my birth. It disgusts me to be reminded how my young impressionable mind was polluted by all that twisted Empire propaganda: William Blake’s, jingoistic, xenophobic Jerusalem was our school song. “And did those feet in ancient times wander on England’s pleasant pastures green.” Even at our tender age we knew it to be highly unlikely Jesus Christ wandered “England’s pleasant pastures . . .” We could recognize propaganda. At 75 I have at last become moderately enlightened: it took a while, a few bruises too.

Some sixty years ago Gandhi visited the textile mills of Northern England’s black country. He was dismayed to see the poor and deprived British working classes. Not much better off than his exploited fellow Indians. He believed wealth being drained out of India by, among other things, imposts on indigenous cotton goods was going to the British people. His brief visit dispelled that bally-hoo.

For twisted Empire propaganda get this :-

STUFF HAPPENS

Remember
Diego Garcia

Bear with me as I relate a little anecdote about the Great Britannia brainwash pageant.

Happy couple?

Sometime in the 1940’s, as the war was raging, governments on all sides were hungry for young bodies: and young bodies, as now, were stupid enough to oblige. Accordingly, very inspiring tales were blossoming in much the same way as they are in today’s wars. Rule Britannia was full of itself.

What’s the scowl . . . ?

There seem to be, now, as many warm young bodies eager to be turned cold as there were then. Fortunately I was too young but for the grace of God, etc!

Churchill declared elections void for the duration of hostilities: you, telly-eye-popping Yanks are headed that way too. Thinq Syria, Cuba: Nascar Johns and Soccermom Sabrinas love war!

Anyway as Rule Britannia ruled the waves no one could beat the Royal Navy: except admiral Graf Spee. It wasn’t much of a victory:

Land of Hope and Glory!

it didn’t turn the war, but . . .! As I remember, from some 60 odd years ago, the yarn was of an RN rating’s great heroism during the battle of Coronel off the Chilean coast in 1914.

Battle of Coronel: Admiral Craddock RN received a naveem (RN terminology)

Ten bob at any seaside giftshop.

to the effect that a small force of German raiders was operating against British merchant shipping in the South Pacific.

As it turned out the naveem was wrong (sound familiar?). The German force was far superior. Nevertheless, true to Rule Britannia rule the RN engaged: and lost the cruisers Monmouth and Good Hope among others.

Thus the inspiring story goes that a brave boy seaman (14/15 years, probably) could be heard singing Rule Britannia from the quarterdeck as the Monmouth sank.

Now, for anyone who has been to sea, been in battle, taken a whiff of cordite, heard a ship go down: they will know. The noise is incredible. Imagine, waves and explosions consuming everywhere and this poor kid was heard singing from another ship that, if it were so close, would endanger itself! Why, it would be impossible to hear the kid if you were two inches from his vocal cords.

Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves . . .
Yeah, and this is what the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers do to their POW’s!

Jeezless, the mendacity of the ruling castes and gullibility of the public know no bounds! Or is it that the public believes because they love the excitement of war, sort of like a soccer match, so long as they are not in it!

Any people that continue to be suckered in by such yarns deserved to have every penny of their

Ayn Rand in drag.
Empire will wilt
when the subjects see
themselves as more than
mindless consumers!

hard-earned tax dollars gobbled up by a grotesquely wasteful military industrial complex, while the fat guys send poor kids off to slaughter, in any country. More fool you for letting them do it!

It’s as implausible as the orchestra playing “Closer to thee . . .” as the Titanic foundered. Or WMD’s, or 45 minutes, or babies, zyklon gas and incubators and on and on and on!

Of course the British have now attained a level of benign affluence but it has come at extra-ordinary expense. I was very much disconcerted at the peppering of everyday ordinary Briton’s conversation with derogatory appellations such as “wog” and “nigg-nog” referring to their erstwhile subjects who had kicked them out of their, quite recent, colonial sinecures. Use of such terms, in my opinion, has naught to do with the cortex and a lot to do with thwarted expectations. For all the influx of wealth, for all the outward appearance of satisfaction, the cars, afternoon television game shows and opulent roast beef dinners-out I see none of the real attainment of Empire. The same driven self-loathing permeates heartland U.S.A!

When I lived in Mexico City it became clear to me that we, Canadians, Britons and Mexicans are all essentially the same, though. We all have families; we all have the same desire for security and contentment. The difference is that we, in our own way, respond to the different circumstances that are imposed upon us: Mexico the repression is palpable, in Britain there is,

Hammer
and nails!

and was, a climate not unlike the current US Patriot act (Katharine Gun, The Irish problem) and in Canada we are okay so long as we consume. I found living in those three environments it was possible to ignore the repression just so long as I went along, so to speak. I am not talking only political activity; I am talking, trying to get along in business too! Test the limits and well . . . expect the full wrath of the state to descend.

Tracing the history of Europe as it interlocks with the USA there is a clear pattern. Those iniquitous closure laws of the 18th and 19th centuries, (now being visited upon NAFTA’s hapless victims), to large extent, violently displaced a population to North America. In turn that population of “oh-so-decent, settler-marauders” decimated the indigenous population and environment. Had they been left alone their reptilian cortex would have remained dormant. In the event they where not left alone, well the rest is history. Ergo circumstance, the B. F. Skinner syndrome, also plays a significant role. Regardless of our biology we cannot escape history.

Paradoxically,

He's desparate to be re-elected. He knows he and his bunch of extremists are facing war crime charges. Thinq corrupted voting machines!

“If you need a leader
to lead you
out of the wilderness this year,
he will lead you right
back into the wilderness
next year.”

The USA Trilogy.
John dos Passos.

while on the subject of how behavior molds our souls, the reasons for the closure laws were to facilitate the new landed capitalist classes to graze their very profitable sheep where once the commons held sway. Is there a message here? People were driven off the common land by sheep! Today now, the question arises, appraising the current media induced somnambulating herd instincts of the believing masses, who are the sheep?

It bemuses me: nay it scares the hell out of me, to read the profusion of insults hurled at George W. He plays on the ignorance and fears of heartland USA like a maestro. Look for heaven’s sake, if a large majority of Americans are taken in by an A.W.O.L. jock landing-on-a-carrier-deck and a now-he’s-here-now-he’s-not-plastic-turkey-landing they can be suckered in by any violent measure! And God help the rest of the world. And that has nothing to do with the U.S. citizens’ brain ganglia and a hell of a lot to do with self-indulgence!

The insults distract the perpetrators from their own personal complicity: gives them a false sense of superiority. President George W. Bush is not a moron. He is a driven sociopath (thinq Caligula, or even Disraeli) and a pathological liar clearly out of control of his emotions: a common arch-type in the history of Empires.

1908 the Boxers heaved
the Dowager Empress.
In the chaos foreigners
set up concessions.

Kerry, Bush: who cares?
Kerry showed
voting is out!

China concessions
on the West Coast:
Israel on the East.
Mercenaries rampaging
for the highest bidder.

USA 2050!

He is dedicated and he knows exactly what he is doing. Self-righteous do-gooders may scorn his antics, like the tail hook thing. Nevertheless heartland laps them up!

Well, after the Gannon / Guckert thingies, or even more scary Bush’s recent malicious meanderings around Europe, it’s obvious: the man is unfit for the office. Nevertheless, his diabolical neo-con handlers, can see the end of finite resources: peak oil and scarcity of water, of course!

Did not vice-president Dick Cheney say, and I paraphrase, we will do anything to preserve the American way of life. Oil comes to mind. Evidently his detractors, who them selves are party to world exploitation by their very life styles seem to be with him. He is positioning himself, his family and his cohort to be in a position of privilege when the boom is lowered: regardless of whether he harbors a brain that is reptilian or Godzillion or, indeed, a reincarnation of Mother Theresa! He will perpetrate whatever violence is necessary to preserve his privileges, with the aplomb of a true sophisticate.

It is my belief that the current system, if indeed it is a system, has run its course: we are witness to the end of an era! Voting one way or another is meaningless, if all we can do is vote for a remote millionaire who has been chosen for us. They all feed at the same trough and if not will once elected: politicians have a mindset that is . . . well approachable. Voting one way or another is no longer an option. The origninal idea has been perverted: green-backs, not votes, get ’em elected!

President George Bush, UK’s PM Tony, delusions-of-empire, Blair, Canada’s erstwhile PM Jean Chretien (the play acting “little-guy-from-Shawinigan” whose chain-link fence, and Sgt. Pepper, greased NAFTA’s slippery slope), Canada’s current PM, multi-millionaire Paul Martin Jr. (whose tax-dodge ships fly under flags of convenience) and Mexico’s Presidente, Don Coca-Cola, Vincente Fox Quesada for that matter, are simply the inevitable outcome of decade upon decade of irresponsible, mindless self-indulgence practiced on a national scale. Why Vinny’s Plan Puebla/Panama, just like Terry Belaunde’s mythical highway and Vancouver’s Winter Olympic bid (and its ravenous RAV line), is just a polite way of transferring public wealth into private hands. The gullible fall, hook-line-and-sinker, for it every time!

Let’s get it straight: click image!

And in mentioning Vancouver’s RAV (Richmond, Airport, Vancouver rapid transit), for months no one, other than the construction unions and the money boys wanted it. A small number of union yobs will enjoy, briefly, hi-flying hourly rates. The money boys will be the real beneficiares, though. With their P3 legerdemain ( i.e. public / private / partnership – deciphered “private profits public-debt“) they will stash their loot in off-shore tax havens.

Translink, BC’s transit authority and Vancouver’s council-of-the-people didn’t want it! All sensible studies proved it to be negative for over-all transportation. So how on earth did it gain approval? Well of course, and how many times have we seen this,

This guy
knows too much!
Expect a Jack Ruby
anytime now!

 

And he’s scheduled
for next summer!

the money boys kept insisting until the umpteenth vote went their way. Hey presto, we have RAV!

Stupid, aren’t we?

Cuernavaca’s Avenida No Reeleccion has my vote!

In the unlikely event (thinq perpetual war and the Churchillian solution) that Bush, and the more likely event that Blair, will not be in office in the near future, what then? Pardons come easy. Un-accountability sweeps wide. In my living memory the US has gone through similar incidents, tragically bullying small defenceless countries before. Impeachment has been threatened. Presidents and their administrators have fallen from grace. Each time a happy face is put on the aftermath and nothing changes. No one learns.

History demonstrates, time and time again, the world will be driven through more disgraceful episodes generated by the grotesquely child-like American!

Tuney fish
caugh off Scarborough, UK, in 1938.
Now, such creatures just don’t exist.
Only 65 years later the North Sea is,
literally, dead: over-fished.
The cry environmental collapse
is not scare mongering!

I make a prediction, even if the currency crashes or Peak oil peaks, millions perish, irrefutable evidence points to Bush no one will see trial for treason and war crimes. That is when the true monolith of US politics becomes exposed. Oh we cannot do that, it will rip the country apart. You heard it here first, okay!

So, what other alternative is there but voluntary simplicity: that is to give up the life style and things that feed into the system. Lowering the ante, so to speak? With Bush’s intent to complete Reagan’s policy, destroying the US treasury, it looks like simplicity will be forced on the US anyway.

Amazingly, Britain’s dysfunctional Prime Minister Tony Blair tried floating a ploy to legalize pre-emptive war against all rogue nations. Rogue then becomes a matter of definition: one would suppose the first to be accused are the USA, Israel and the UK.

This, then, brings up the specter of government. Clearly Blair’s ploy is just that: a diversionary ploy to get his Christian-love-thy-neighbour ass out of its sling. Yet, is it not obvious, governments of any stripe, today, are totally disconnected from reality? Government, any government, anywhere, exists, surely, for the sole purpose of perpetuating itself.

When a government willfully murders 3,000 of its own citizens and its people let it get away with the crime, the world is in jeopardy. It sends a signal, even down to the municipal level, that criminals in government can act with impunity.

Healthy government is necessary and good. Do not interpret this diatribe as anti-government. But government in the wrong hands, and believe me we have elected psychotics today, is dangerously destructive to the whole of mankind.

And it’s going to take one hell of a lot of work to put things right: quite likely another, God forbid, civil war. We are looking at decades of struggle.

So, you want to be responsible, then?

Repeating the same routine, over and over, expecting a different result, is a definition of insanity. Okay now listen. Forget the ballot. That’s yesterday’s cold spaghetti. Vote with your pocket book. Get out of debt: clear the mortgage. Dump your real estate. Get off the consumer tread mill. Loosen up, free up.

Stop feeding the system! Begin by digging the groundwork for a local small-scale network of influence: vote for a candidate who came out of a system of our own making. We must anticipate a participatory system that allows us to be accountable, and responsible without name-calling, for our decisions and actions. I believe this will become a necessity as environmental collapse approaches.

Much more than a change of faces is needed. Try a total change in the way we see ourselves.

So, you’re retired. You’re bored. You feel you’ve missed out. You’re resentful. You sneer at just about everything! But hey, there’s that bulk of newspapers to keep you happy and it’s raining outside.

The new ayatollah

Cha gonna have ta live widit
for a long time yit!

But you know it’s all lies: newspapers = clear-cuts. To assuage your guilt you write a cheque: “Save-the-spotted-owl,” “Save-the-marmut.” Get it? See the contradiction, see your complacency? Wake up pal! You’re feeding the problem.

First priority. Politically organize at the local level. Give up the car that is consuming all that stuff so many Iraqis are dying over. Peak oil was yesterday! Disconnect the television. Why pay for lies?. Dump the cell-phone. Take Jane Goodall’s advice: back-pedal on the gluttony. Give up the consumer tread mill.

IT’S THE AMERICAN PREDATOR, STUPID!

Self-loathing heartland USA cannot abide the thought, eh! It would rather kill than give up anything. But if only 5% adopted a simple lifestyle it would put a halt to our destructive growth syndrome. And hopefully the trend would flourish.

Hope? Not in vain I trust.

At my age, for my children and grand children’s sake I still have hope. Yet I am not too old to recognize good old “feel-good corporate lies” served up to an all too willing-to-believe gullible heart-land. Or is sustainable oil just more of the same: a mean hoax? A weak attempt at irony?

 

We do democracy
Then we do lunch.

You may ignore politics
But politics will not ignore you!
Expect a rough ride!

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