The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

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Location: Laguna Hills, California, United States

I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Have Seen "The Evil Empire" And It's Us

And we're so self-righteous. The current term that's being bandied about by our illustrious cable-TV pundits is "American exceptionalism." That appears to signify that since Americans are so much better than anyone else they can feel free to do whatever they want. Better? Well, let's tread a bit on the amber waves of grain.

"A money-maker." The term was originated by Americans. And that indeed is our prime value, or should I say obsession. I once was working weekends as a counselor in a psychiatric facility in New Jersey. One Sunday morning I heard what sounded like cathedral bells ringing and asked one of the residents from what church they were sounding. "Oh, that's not a church," he responded, "that's coming from the First National Bank." Yes indeed, the dollar sign supplanted the cross a long time ago within the precincts of the good old USA.

American exceptionalism? Let's take a brief look at the actuality of it all.Whatever have been the serious flaws of this nation, there is no doubt that Americans during the period from 1941 to 1945 mobilized to a more-than-remarkable degree and literally saved civilization from the onslaught of dictatorial world fascism. Yes, it is arguable that World War II resulted largely from unwise and overly punitive treatment of Germany by the US and Europe after World War I. Nevertheless WWII was a resounding victory for America, which attained an undisputed preeminence in the world after 1945.But let's remember what occurred in 1945. The war ended with the United States dropping two atomic bombs on Japan. No, the bombs weren't dropped on uninhabited areas in order to put the fear of God into the Japanese to induce them to surrender. No, the bombs weren't dropped on military installations. They were intentionally dropped on densely populated areas- Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A quarter of a million Japanese people died horrific deaths; and God knows how many suffered terribly and/or died later from the devastating effects of radiation. President Harry S. Truman, who had ordered the bombings, was later to remark that he never lost a minute's sleep for so ordering. And he no doubt had pleasant dreams knowing that he had shown the world- and particularly Soviet Russia- that if they didn't play the game America's way they would find themselves blown off the face of the earth. Now that's machismo. We are the only nation which has ever used nuclear weapons.

Yes, 1945- the commencement of the now firmly established hallmarks of the American nation- overweening pride, mindless arrogance, vainglory, indifference to morality, diminished conscience, functional sociopathy. And it has been downhill since then. Pride cometh before the fall. "American exceptionalism"- as in- "We just saved the world, so we can do whatever the hell we want to. God is on our side."

So little regard for human life- that's the fact that really screams out as one considers the history of this nation since 1945. And add to that the prevailing operating principle of American policy; namely, that if the end is profit- money- then whatever the means employed, no questions are to be asked. Total absolution. Functional sociopathy is the mode of operation of the ruling elite who in fact constitute our government - all branches. They clothe themselves in the corporate veil, incur no personal responsibility for whatever they do. Their only accountability is to the great god Maximum Profit. They can maim or kill for profit without batting an eyelash. That's the logical conclusion of their grotesque view of the Calvinist ethic. And the American public- or at least a very high percentage of them- buys into it all whole-hog. "Winning" is what's important, as though life were a hockey game.

Take a look at our history during the past 50 years: Vietnam. Over 50 thousand Americans and an estimated 5 million Vietnamese killed for nothing except, as a relative of mine put it at the time, "making southeast Asia safe for Coca-Cola." And the post 9/11 circus, with terrorism the excuse for engaging in endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan- which have accomplished nothing except to earn the banks and war industries over $1 and a half trillion. And Obama makes speeches at military camps uttering jejune nonsense about "victory with honor." And the coffins keep coming home. Obama, the Nobel Prize winner. Some serious research should be done relative to the status of mental health in Norway, particularly in view of the fact that they awarded peace prizes not only to the ever-so-peaceful Mr. Obama, but also to the oh-so-pacifistic Yasir Arafat and Henry Kissinger. Pax vobiscum.

Yes, peace. That's what the US has been cultivating around the world? Democracy? Take a look at the number of nations where the people attempted to rise up against totalitarian, dictatorial regimes. Whose side has the US invariably been on? The people? Hardly. The United States has provided funding and military aid to the dictators in order to allow them to maintain their regimes. And the United States has made sure to crush popular uprisings on the pretext of preventing the spread of communism- or, currently, terrorism. The real reason for US policy : to secure the financial interests of the corporations which have substantial investment interests in the nations concerned. If you have any doubts, explore the history of Latin America during the past 50 years. How many have been imprisoned, tortured or killed because of our belligerent greed? Who can even count the number at this point?

The current situation in the Middle East is particularly instructive - "The Arab Spring." The people of Arab nations, and particularly younger Arabs, have been engaging in essentially peaceful but massive demonstrations against dictatorial regimes which have held them as oppressed prisoners in their own lands. A truly historical development. With apparent successes in Tunisia and Egypt, it appeared that a new democratic rebirth was about to take place in the region. Then came the developments in Libya and Bahrain. Barack Obama, take a bow.

Obama, after a few hypocritical rhetorical flourishes denouncing Gadhafi and seeming to encourage the protesting people of Libya, then turned his back on Libya, refusing to provide the Libyan people with armaments to counter Gadhafi's murderous forces and declining to provide even a limited no-fly zone to help prevent the dictator from slaughtering them from the air. The bloodbath continues and it is clear that Gadhafi is prevailing.

And in Bahrain peaceful protesters are being shot dead by the king's forces. The king has declared a state of emergency and has invited over a thousand Saudi Arabian troops into the country with instructions to use any means available to quell the protests. Another bloodbath in the making. And what does Obama do? He refuses to condemn the Saudi Arabian incursion and sends his principal war-maker Gates to Bahrain to confer with the king and give the okay to the Saudi slaughter teams.

Yes, Barack Obama- at least as venal and conscienceless as George W. Bush- and maybe even more so. Obama has put an abrupt and bloody end to the Arab Spring. The gracious message Obama has given to the dictators of the world? " If your people start to revolt against your oppression, feel free to slaughter them en masse. I'll just look the other way. In fact I just might help you." Yes, all hope crushed by Obama. Change we can believe in.

If we were to take an honest look at the United States today what would we see? We would see the actuality of what we are: A neo-feudal dictatorship of the financial elite, about 400 of whom possess wealth equal to the wealth possessed by 150 million Americans. A system ruled by that elite not for the welfare of the people but for their own financial gain. A system in which about one percent of the population owns and directs the politicians and the courts - and I am definitely not excluding the president and the Supreme Court. A country where people pay twice as much for healthcare and pharmaceuticals as any other developed nation. Where public education is in the lower ranks of the nations of the world. Where a college education has become so prohibitively expensive that it has become an impossibility for so many. Where countless Americans, if they can find work at all, are forced to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. And on and on and on. I won't even talk about the quashed pensions for now and the not-only-old age but any-age non- security that is not just on its way but is here-now and to stay. The New Serfdom.

Ah, but look at the bright side: The politicians' employers- the one percent- are making more than ever and, who knows, some of it may trickle down. The Obamas and the Clintons and the Bushes won't be suffering. That's for sure.

Well, Mr. Obama believes in "moving forward." From the rule of law. So of course he hasn't prosecuted even one of the criminals whose fraudulent schemes plummeted this nation and the world into financial crisis. And besides, wealthy Americans aren't subject to the law anyway. That's why Obama never initiated prosecutions of Bush-era war criminals either. And really, if you want to get funding for a billion-dollar political campaign it's just not the thing to do. What a great message to the youth of America : If you want to get away with anything whatsoever just make sure you have enough cash to buy your way out of it. Lex Obamiana.

It's not that there aren't millions of Americans of conscience and good will. There are. And so many of them worked very hard for what they thought would be real positive change during the last presidential campaign. They were betrayed. And many of them still refuse to believe that they were betrayed. Denial is the most primitive form of psychological defense mechanism. We have to wake up and grow up. There is no longer an alternative unless we are willing to let this rotten-to -the-core system destroy everything we value in our innermost being. We must ask ourselves a very grave question : Are we going to allow the "new breed" of narcissistic, sociopathic, ravenously greedy and ruthless un-Americans- who unfortunately comprise an increasingly high percentage of our population - to take us over and reduce us to serfdom? It has come down to that. And denial assures them victory.

Over the past couple of years so many Americans - progressives, independents and others of good conscience - have stood by silently and watched Obama and his Democratic and Republican fraternity colleagues carry on and amplify the Bush-Cheney corporate agenda, perhaps thinking that positive change has just been delayed and is just around the corner. It is not around the corner. And it will never come so long as they think that they can get away with what they're doing. Why would they bring about change while their pockets are being filled and their power fantasies are being gratified to the hilt? Why, because they're so generous and altruistic?

We have to come face-to-face with a very difficult realization : We are being confronted with the same crisis our founding fathers came up against in 1776 --- a government which is not only failing to meet the needs of its people but is consciously and actively opposed to the needs of the people. We have been reduced to subjects of a ruling class which devalues our rights; devalues our property; exploits us financially; forces us to live to work rather than work to live; diminishes our civil liberties and legal remedies; and subjects us in a very real way to the tangible risk of abject poverty, homelessness and utter humiliation. It has already happened to millions, so this is hardly an overstatement. Not in the least.

It's up to us. The fact that we have let it go this far is not the best of signs. But I'll opt for hope.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Indian Musical Instruments (1) : Saraswati Vina

One More Step

Subject: Slouching Towards Fascism: Then They Came for the Trade Unionists...
Date: Mar 14, 2011 9:40 AM
Published on Truthout (
Then They Came for the Trade Unionists
William Rivers Pitt Thursday 10 March 2011

On this day, it behooves us to remember the words of Martin Niemoller.
"First they came for the communists," he wrote, "and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."
I am a trade unionist, and yesterday in Wisconsin, they came for me. They came for you. They came for every working person in America, and their intent could not be more clear. Governor Scott Walker, along with the
Koch Brothers and the right-wing radicals of the Republican Party, moved in darkness and with shameless deceit to gut the ability of dedicated laborers to bargain on an equal footing for the right to earn a living wage and to have access to decent health care.
Among other things, the bill as passed
allows the state to fire anyone who participates in a strike. The story of the 20th century was written by workers who dared to face the truncheon in order to fight for their basic rights, and the strike was integral to that struggle. Any Wisconsin worker who dares to stand in defiance of The Bosses now faces personal annihilation, not just for themselves, but for their family. America was made in the struggle of union workers standing shoulder to shoulder in defiance of the idea that being rich means being right. That struggle is now in mortal peril, and the outcome affects all of us.
Fairness and the rule of law had no place in
Wednesday's filthy action. This move was done in secret, without notice or announcement as required by Wisconsin law, and bears the stamp of the cowards and cretins who are responsible. Similar anti-worker legislation has been unfolding in Ohio, Indiana, Florida and more than a dozen other states. Those responsible claim such actions are necessary because of economic concerns, but the Wisconsin perpetrators tipped their hand. They stripped the bill in question of anything having to do with the state budget, so as to give them the chance to vote without a quorum...but the entire premise of their anti-union attack was that the destruction of collective bargaining was needed to salvage the state's financial situation. By gutting the bill of any semblance of budgetary issues, all they were left with is what they were after in the first place: the end of collective bargaining, the end of unions altogether, and by proxy, the end of the Democratic Party.
Eric Kleefeld, the excellent reporter for TalkingPointsMemo, and a Wisconsin native, exposed the endgame
The Democratic Party in Wisconsin is, to an extent that is not true in most other states, a genuine labor party -- a party that is intertwined with unions at the institutional level, with many politicians who have also been union officials or done legal work with unions, and which speaks for organized labor in key debates. They in turn compete with the Republican Party, which represents business interests as embodied by the state's Chamber group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, in what has until now been a sometimes uneasy but nevertheless predictable political system.
In short, unions in Wisconsin are not just economic organizations made up of their respective workers - they are political institutions that are a major part of the state. As such, a change to the state's union laws that would threaten the existence of organized labor would in turn threaten the existence of the Democratic Party itself in Wisconsin, as people have known it for over half a century -- something that state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) may have accidentally alluded to earlier today.
On top of that, the class consciousness was especially ignited by Walker's phone call two weeks ago with blogger Ian Murphy, who was posing as Republican financier David Koch. During that call, Walker discussed his ideas for tricking the Democrats into coming back by pretending to negotiate, his ambition to bust the public employee unions in the mold of President Reagan firing the air traffic controllers, and that he had considered (but ruled out) planting troublemakers in the crowds of protesters. But beyond the specifics, the optics alone were amazing: The state's governor was seen buddying up to someone he believed to be a mega-rich donor from out of state.
Say what you will about the Democratic Party. For my part, I can say plenty, especially about President Obama's total absence during the three weeks this struggle has been going on, and about the White House's angry insistence that the fight in Wisconsin is merely "
a distraction."
All Party nonsense aside, this is about a governor attacking people who work for a living, because they have the gall to believe standing together to fight for simple things like fair wages and basic health care is more important than a failing governor's ego or political aspirations.
The fact of the matter is that Governor Walker has unleashed a frontal assault on working people in his state because wealthy corporatists believe "Because I Say So" is enough. Make no mistake, friends. This is class warfare. It is brazen, unmistakable, and now out in the open. They have so much, but they want more. It has been made all too clear that they will gut your life, your rights, your everything, in order to get what they want, and what they want is absolute and total control.
Mr. Niemoller wrote his poem decades ago. It might read like this today:
First they declared corporations were "people," and I didn't complain because I'm already a person.
Then they made unlimited money "speech," and I didn't complain because the American Dream says I'll be rich someday, too.
Then they commandeered the means of production by shipping our greatest strength - manufacturing - overseas, because they don't have bothersome unions over there, and I didn't complain because WalMart has cheap stuff.
Then they bought Congress so they could write the laws, and I didn't complain because I can’t be bothered to vote.
Then they bought the Supreme Court so they could cement their rule, and I didn't complain because I don't have time to pay attention.
Then they bought the news so they could convince everyone it's always been this way, and I didn't complain because it's always been this way.
Then they manhandled an election and I didn't complain because I'm not from Florida.
Then they lied us into wars and I didn't complain because I'm not a soldier, or an Iraqi, or an Afghani.
Then millions died for profit and I didn't complain because the graphics on the news were totally awesome.
Then they started locking people up because they said they could and I didn't complain because nobody locked me up.
Then they started spying on everyone because they said they could and I didn't complain because I'm a real American.
Then they came for the worker, but thanks to supply-side trickle-down economics, I don't have a job.
This truth is self-evident.
They are coming for you, and they are relentless.
Stand up.
For your country, for your family, for yourself.
Stand up.
Be heard.
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