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Tom is a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a thinker and more. View some of his web sites:
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Number of posts: 168
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By Tom Ferguson:
- The high cost of nuclear reactors, the long lead time to operation and the unacceptably high water usage and thermal pollution.
- The fact that a nuclear plant to a terrorist, is a pre-positioned nuclear device that can create a sacrificial population and an immense dead zone.
When I first encountered the idea of meditation it piqued my interest, yet I got nowhere when I tried it out. Aside from being boring(!) I found that my mind raced with ideas, memories, things to do, unfinished business, when I was expecting some kind of esoteric experience. Once I even became quite frightened and thought, hey, is that it?, remembering maybe that scary line from my religious indoctrination, that no one can look upon the face of God and live. Understanding the practice, much later, as a means to becoming present, abiding in that deeply rooted state, as Tolle describes it, clarified what I found intuitively appealing. Joi de vivre is the real face of God, not the Biblical projection of fear.
My most profound experiences, given this understanding, can be explained as having entered into the state of presence.
I’ve been reading Barbara Tuchman’s March of Folly (1984). Current events too numerous to list would very nicely qualify by her criterion to be included in the pageant: building nuclear power plants on earthquake faults; building nuclear power plants at all when benign alternatives are available and economically competitive; going for the golden greed award in a democracy, expecting people to be fooled all the time; taking actions to address terrorism that increase terrorism (violence begets violence); despoiling the biological system on which we depend for sustenance; seeking permanent psychological and physical safety and security in a corrupt, utterly and patently illusory social-political-religious paradigm.
When you lay out a continuum of possible political points of view and compare it to the range of opinion in U.S. mainstream media it is clear that a narrow spectrum dominates, roughly Center or Corporate-right to Hysterical Right. Another way of saying it is that the greater, or at least a significant band of opinion, is excluded from the national dialogue. What then can only be called a propaganda system insists, relentlessly, that freedom and democracy are inseparable. What is meant by freedom in this sleight of hand, is capitalism, the favored value, trumping at all times democracy, which term is utilized not for its actual practice but in order to coopt its prestige. An obvious instance of this deception is in the workplace. If democracy is our highest value why is it not practiced where most of us spend half of our waking time? This question of course never arises in mainstream “debate”, chief proselytizer for the free market.
In a 4/27 meeting at Atlanta Friends Meeting House, organized by Healthcare Now, Philadelphian Katie Robbins spoke and led a spirited discussion on the state of organizing for Single-Payer healthcare. Vermont is in the lead nation-wide, a bill there being very close to passage but without a funding mechanism as yet. California has twice passed a single payer bill, twice vetoed by former Governor Schwarzcoph… or is that Schwarzenegger? With a new Governor, Jerry Brown, there could be hope in California, though Brown may have succumbed to the lure of born-again fiscal conservativism since his last term.
Katie introduced the acronym PISD (private insurance-induced stress disorder) offering the antidote, National Health Insurance. The situation is one of crisis to which Republicans offer denial and the Democrats tend to go along with their timid party head in the White House. House Bill 676 would expand and improve medicare, improving by eliminating co-pays, deductibles and expanding by eliminating the millions of uninsured by lowering the age requirements to minus 9 months – medicare for all, in a word.
The billionaires and other wealthy ideologues who fund right-wing think tanks, Karl Rove, the Tea Party etc., seem to be experimenting, curious as to how far they can push their agenda before encountering real opposition. Not so long ago I would have ventured that they would envy dictators their free hand. There might be a little nervousness these days in U.S. country clubs, given Egyptian developments, though it may be reasoned that, what with owning the media where the majority of people get their information, and funding (owning) most politicians of both parties there seems little reason for alarm. Even if all else fails, they’ve still got the police and military, right? The governor of Wisconsin has threatened to call out the National Guard to quell resistance to his anti-worker policies. Perhaps he should consider the Egyptian military response to similar demands and also the fact that most national guard troops are themselves workers.
Consciousness consists of thoughts and emotions, the latter often triggered by thoughts but also coming from accumulated negative or positive energy from our personal and social environment. Mild, or not, traumatic or unresolved experiences can hang around as energy packets awaiting release, triggering. The other factor in consciousness is awareness.
The world as we know it, drifting toward extinction – threatened by over-population, consumption/pollution and war (nukes et al.) is captained by this consciousness with its imbalance of the three components, favoring thoughts/emotions over awareness.
Distilling William Greider’s dense, 573-page book, One World, Ready or Not, down into a few words: we live in an economy that requires that we chase money, one way or the other. Those most successful in this chase get to make the rules, or at least they use their considerable influence to arrange things so that they and theirs remain on top of this game.
The compulsory climb seems to be entirely captivating but it unfortunately occurs to very few of those achieving the peaks that a rule change toward sharing and equality could end massive suffering. Those who lack elementary needs – food, clean water, shelter – are compelled to join the chase or perish …
Some pundits explain away U.S. installation and/or support for heinous criminal dictators all over the planet as just the goofy bumbling of well-meaning good ol’ boys. Others recognize that the policies are deliberately crafted decisions meant to further U.S. (read corporate) interests. Just so, some consider Obama a poor and naïve bargainer outmaneuvered by right wing Republicans and bankers.
Michael Moore’s film, Capitalism: A Love Story, is just as funny as its title and just as veil-lifting as his previous films have been on their subjects.
Wrapping crime-scene tape around Goldman-Sachs and other Wall Street Pirates is a hilarious and incisive gesture and looking closely at some of the victims of the predator culture brings home the criminality of some of what happens when the bottom line is all that matters. An interview excerpt with an influential columnist with the Wall Street Journal pretty much says it all – the writer takes the usual propaganda device of associating capitalism with democracy and drops the latter component as unnecessary and in-the-way. The Constitutional guarantee and exhortation to seek happiness can apparently be completely satisfied by chasing money.
Members of Nuclear Watch South, three of us, were invited to do an information table at a Jackson Brown concert in Columbus, GA. We set up early, before the crowds, and attracted ushers, who were mostly retired military (Fort Benning is nearby). They were friendly and their views were about what you’d expect: pro-nuke, both weapons and energy, pro-war, both Iraq and Afghanistan (though Obama was too slow in deciding to send more troops). Of course they were anti-Obama in general (they were all white).
Unfortunately they merely paced about during the concert so didn’t hear the lyrics to some of Jackson’s songs that would have challenged their received wisdom. None had heard of him except one retired firefighter from NY who was I suppose Libertarian. He was anxious to distinguish himself from the other vets. He commented that Europeans are laughing at our healthcare debate. They know that single-payer is off the table, the system they have in place that serves them well.
I looked down at the affluent California cities from an airplane taking me to Fresno, just mustered out of Vietnam in 1965, by the skin of me teeth. I’m embarrassed to report that these maudlin thoughts were running through my mind, “Gee, if only those communists could see this, they would abandon communism.” Only a few months later, back in the Midwest, I watched television reporters mildly quiz Johnson Administration officials on the war. Though I knew these officials were lying I cheered them on, concerned predictably if unconsciously, not with the truth of the situation but with our side winning the argument. Had I this mindset during Contra-gate, I would have been with the myopic faction that saw Oliver North as a hero. And given that I was such an easy victim of the propaganda machine, one would expect me to be patient with those who still are. Well… […]
Serve some crumpets with that unreality virus hitting our congress. A mixed metaphor but in zany times like this there are new rules. Orwell would be amused. Grassroots now means any number of people recruited by public relations experts hired by billionaires to convince said persons that their interests align with the funders. Some focus-group derived rhetoric required. Any gathering no matter how small will have first rate sound systems, local right-wing celebrities, sometimes national versions of same, tuned to the focus-group data, and lavish media promotion and coverage. The slogan Take Back Our Country appeals to a certain brand of disenfranchised and argues at the same time that our country has indeed been taken, implying that we had it in the previous administration which again would impress Orwell.
The ruling elite has taken, over the years, great pains to stigmatize the word communism, deliberately associating it with rapacious world conquest, gulag, tyranny etc; and to fold socialism neatly in with the same knee-jerk associations. When a proposal characterized by sharing and compassion arises it can thus be labeled “socialist”! – with an accusing exclamation point and thus be discredited. So successful was this campaign that the same forces turned their skills to the word Liberal, with nearly the same results.
On one end of a continuum of theories of governance is Democracy, where the People rule. On the other is Plutocracy where the wealthy class calls the shots. In the public discussion of this polarization in the United States there are those who take a sort of middle position and confusedly think of themselves then as moderates. But is it a “moderate” position to compromise Democracy?
The argument might be clarified if we put it in these terms: Democracy demands one person, one vote, Plutocracy demands rule by the rich, and “moderation” offers a compromise where the vote is based on dollars, that is, one dollar, one vote. Somehow I don’t think this is what the Greek Philosopher had in mind, that moderation consists in taking a position sort of half way between the extremes.
The local versions of mainstream media highlight easy targets like street crime… keeps us all frightened, hunkered down in our homes and cars. Can’t get organized there… can’t do street demos from the bunker.
The storm trooper Right and many advertisers will get on their case if media strays beyond the permitted parameters and individual journalists labor under the threat of termination or transfer for “over-inquisitive” reporting. The Washington, D.C. New York Times bureau chief found that out when he accepted the position of editor for the AJC and tried to poke around where he dasn’t poke.
The drawing came out of an experience I had at a night club. A Nashville singer-songwriter had a Support Our Troops sticker on his guitar and stated how proud he was of his nephew for serving in Iraq and urged us to Support the troops – I wanted to shout, “Bring’em home!” but I allowed myself to be intimidated into silence. That failure haunted me enough to try to compensate with the drawing.
The text below was printed on the flip-side of the drawing, a pocket-sized flyer I would hand out to folks at demonstrations. When I saw Bush or Support our Troops bumper stickers in parking lots I’d leave one under the windshield wiper. The situation has changed somewhat with Obama’s ascendancy to the throne but the pressure to exercise the violence option is pretty intense, whether that pressure comes from the defense industry, patriarchal ideologues or from within one’s own psyche.
Michael Parenti’s America Besieged turns the idea that the U.S. is threatened by foreign enemies on its head. His notion is that a politically active segment of the privileged and wealthy class is intent on maintaining their privilege at whatever cost. The freedoms the rest of us enjoy are thus under siege to the extent that those freedoms threaten that privilege. His chapter on distribution of wealth confirms what Chomsky and others have said in various of their books and lectures … Parenti’s book was published in 1998 so it can be safely assumed (recall which administration presided over the period since, leaving the current administration with a paralyzing mess, assuming it is not complicit – a big assumption) that the trends he cites have gotten even more pronounced.
Some 2,500 years ago a city smaller than Atlanta produced painting, sculpture, architecture, theater, poetry, literature and pottery which stand as monumental foundation for the Art we experience around us in the west today. In 1982 I stood before the Acropolis in Athens, awed at the sophistication of a people whose technology was mightily primitive compared to what has developed since. Yet they were able to construct an incredibly advanced civilization which despite our tools, we merely echo. Another aspect that we mirror is a missed opportunity: Instead of building a just and gentle society providing all with basic necessities and leisure to enjoy a creative, celebratory life, they constructed impressive art and implements of war and domination (I know, I know, Sparta was only a stone’s throw west).
Naomi Klein has done us all a favor and lifted the veil that has hidden the manipulators of the levers of power, revealing a very disturbing reality. The ruling economic theory from the great depression to Reagan was Keynesian, a theory characterized by the notion that government should intervene to protect the people from the worst excesses of capitalism.
What’s on offer from the powers that be? Reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the U.S., one encounters a chronicle of class warfare – extremely wealthy individuals and, now, corporations, using their cash flow to distort democracy, targeting “liberals” and supporting “conservatives.”
Those who might question or oppose, however mildly, complete domination by these funders, the “liberals,” and those who will zealously by-any-means-necessary pursue their agenda, the “conservatives” are locked in battle, with one side, the former, having support of the people they represent and the latter having the advantage of lavish funding.
This is my citizen comment to the Georgia Public Service Commission, 11/8/2010, in opposition to a Georgia Power rate increase request of one Billion dollars, on top of recent increases they’ve already been granted. Part of the reason for the request is that Georgia Power’s Moody’s credit rating has been downgraded because of its decision to build dangerous, expensive new nuclear plants. My comment focuses on the nuclear argument:
There are many reasons to oppose pouring scarce public resources into nuclear projects:
The city of Atlanta, along with the downtown business association, has been accused of conspiring to close the Task Force for the Homeless, a facility that as many as 700 homeless men depend on. The Task Force backs up and takes overflow from other shelters. Criticism of the Task Force includes, in my experience, “They’re not a good neighbor, they enable criminality…”, “They only warehouse the homeless.”, implying that the other facilities do more though, not mentioned, is for fewer and never addressed is what would become of 700 men if the facility closed. Some argue that business interests covet the valuable property. Others emphasize the negative effect on tourism and downtown business of hundreds of homeless men in various states ranging from simply “unsightly” to in-your-face panhandling to mugging, intoxication and mental and physical illness.
Come Tuesday we’ll see if Georgians have shaken off the long-enduring custom of voting against their own interests. I throw out this post/drawing as a desperate act, like calling upon the Gods to intercede or sticking a pin in a voodoo doll. I want to believe it is only a fringe group susceptible to the hysterical rantings of highly paid hucksters, clever and diabolical, or merely emotionally disturbed recruits in the class war (which they deny exists except when some naive soul asks for justice and fairness). Then I note that Fox News has a lion’s share of the ratings and I reacquaint with the meaning of REACTION.
I find it discouraging sometimes, the choices we are presented with at the ballot box. A parliamentary system would allow one to vote their real choice and, since it is not winner take all as here, your choice, green party for example, would be represented to the degree that it got votes.
North Carolina, I’m told, is instituting an instant run-off system which is a really good idea: you vote first and second choices and if your first choice doesn’t win and there’s no clear winner your second choice is counted… opens up the process – though I’ve heard the e-voting machines don’t know how to handle this so we’ll see what happens.
Juggling Priorities in the New Deal: cut citizen services; tax cuts for the rich; corporate privilege; atomic energy; stomping on justice and the law – A political cartoon by Tom Ferguson.
The fact that the author of a book about the CIA writes for the New York Times raises skepticism in some quarters, the ones where I live for example… confirmed in the writer’s ambivalence about the CIA’s mission and in his failure to highlight the Bush/Cheney role in having intelligence fabricated and tailored to suit their intention to attack Iraq, blaming instead the agency itself, and in his acceptance of “U.S. interests”, security “needs” and “enemies”. The “need” for intelligence on and operations against other countries is never questioned and the idea of conducting straight-forward, transparent relations with other nations seems never to occur to the writer. He accepts the use of the word “we” as if it refers to the people rather than a ruling elite. Despite these misgivings Tim Weiner exposes many unsavory CIA projects.
“We’ll call my administration, ‘the fair deal’!”
“Ya, that’d be funny, zero for them, all for us!”