Thursday, December 31, 2015

CODE OF SILENCE


This morning I listened to a brief NPR radio piece on attempts by U.S. urban police departments to break the code of silence among police officers. This is a reaction to the current political outrage over the deaths of citizens at the hands of police. This code of silence, which refers to the closing of ranks among police officers when a fellow police officer does something inappropriate, has a long and deep history. Why? Here are some reasons.

Reason 1: In the U.S., due to the general lack of intelligent funding for and research about crime prevention, police officers are vastly outnumbered and, in many cities, grossly under-armed, compared to the criminals. Like soldiers, police officers who are battling in skirmishes without proper leadership must have the loyalty of their comrades to avoid being isolated, injured or killed in a crisis situation. 

Reason 2: High-crime neighborhoods in U.S. cities have their own code of silence as part of their indigenous civilian culture. Snitches are likely to be ostracized or even killed. Why? Because in most of these neighborhoods, criminals are part of almost every extended family and have relations on every block.

Reason 3: Litigation/prosecution. Fellow officers are loathe to cooperate with internal investigations which may lead to precedent-setting litigation/prosecution which could apply to them at a later time. 

Reason 4: Prison means torture and potential death for incarcerated police officers.

Reason 5: Police unions. Police unions have become too powerful in U.S. cities. They have transformed from benevolent associations, which offer support to families of police officers who are killed or injured on duty, to greedy and corrupt political forces within city government. They successfully strong-arm politicians for outrageous wage increases and benefit packages. Police work has ceased to be a meritocracy. It is a tenured job with ample retirement benefits, and the code of silence is one way in which police unions ensure the gravy train never stops delivering.

Reason 6: Public ignorance and inertia. Police officers have developed a valid perception that they work somewhat in opposition to current political correctness among civilians who nod complacently at criminal behavior, as long as it does not directly effect them as individuals. The current popular misconception that all criminals are hapless victims of their environment is just plain stupid. However, it contributes to fear, laziness and lack of engagement with law enforcement on a local level. 

Reason 7: Police officers are predominantly male and heterosexual. The code of silence is a form of male bonding among heterosexual men. It is a degraded form of team spirit, a concept which heterosexual males are conditioned to from an early age. This is revealed whenever studies are done on spousal abuse, for example. 

Unfortunately, the discussion on NPR this morning with a major politician yielded none of these concepts in detail. There was fatuous talk about studies. No mention was made at all of unions, salaries, benefits, litigation, insufficient training, etc.. The code of silence was presented as some mysterious process that has just happened. Once again I was left feeling that I am living in The Land of Stupid. 




Tuesday, December 29, 2015

HOW NOT TO BE HOMOSEXUAL.

Reichen and Ryan, Gay Media Power-Couple.

I just stumbled upon a piece of cable-TV trash called A-List New York. It is another crap production of Logo, a channel which caters to a certain segment of the LGBT population. 

Here at forty-five years after I came out as gay to promote Gay Liberation in my own various social spheres in the U.S., I am confronted with some of the most vapid homosexual men on the planet, promoted by a supposedly gay TV network as icons. I am left feeling that nearly half a century of political and social evolution have been wasted on these airheads.

The cause of homosexual liberation has morphed into a campaign to mimic the worst of heterosexual media and culture. Ephemeral marriages between aspiring actors and supermodels. Plastic surgery and phony bleached smiles. Swishy attitude and winter tans. 

It's all like a Rock-Hudson-movie nightmare. And I am sure the heterosexual men who still control corporate America love it. They can denigrate us from within, while claiming to sponsor minority media. They can profit from advertising while promoting a lifestyle which will continue to keep gay men lodged in stereotype as powerless, fatuous and uncommitted to anything other than "fun".

Once again I am left wondering why I bothered to work for gay rights to have them squandered on this swill. I now understand Quentin Crisp's skepticism about Gay Liberation. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

THANK YOU, CALiPHATE.


In this season of giving and gratitude, I want to thank you, Islamic State, for illustrating the lunacy of religion. You are doing for Islam what the Spanish Inquisition (1478 CE to 1834 CE) did for Roman Catholicism. Granted, you're a little behind schedule, a mere six centuries. But the late bloomer often gets the job done just as well as the enfant terrible. After all, it has taken almost four centuries to redirect Christianity toward its originally intended humanism. 

Perhaps your timing and methods are best suited to our age of violent entertainment. Just shooting people no longer impresses. Suicide bombers have become a bit passe. Ah, but kidnapping, beheading, stoning, tossing people off roofs and harvesting infidel organs for sale to wealthy Muslims, all on digital video ... brilliant. That individualized horror is just what is needed to wake up those who feel invulnerable. 

I hope you inspire dissidents within Islam who will tear apart orthodoxy in Islamic faiths as well as Martin Luther, John Knox and John Calvin tore apart Vatican-dictated Christianity. Those dissidents within will do a better job than ex-Muslims at reforming your religion on the basis of education, intelligence and critical thought. After all, universities in The West won't even let those ex-Muslims speak to their students. 

People in The West are indeed frightened by your methods. What sane, civilized person wouldn't be afraid of a lunatic with a sword , a bomb or a gun? But that's my point. That fear will eventually outweigh the complacent political correctness being used to intimidate and sedate the masses by the Western wealthy in league with the autocrats of the Muslim world. When enough people in The West get scared, the fire will rain from the heavens above you. And, in The West, Muslim reformers will feel free to come forward loudly against their autocratic sponsors.


Friday, December 25, 2015

HOLODECK FOR THE HOLIDAYS?


Christmas Day here in Boston. It was 65' Fahrenheit (18'C) and sunny at the beach. The full moon tide was high up onto the causeway where we walk out into the harbor. It felt like we were walking on the water as we looked out to the harbor islands. The eider ducks, stopping off on their migration, looked at all the humans on the causeway from a safe distance. Perhaps they were thinking, "Why do they look so near?"

Well, the reason is climate change, of course. I say "of course" as someone who has been walking at the sea's edge regularly for the last decade. Something an Oklahoman oil-industry worker seldom does. I have not had the luxury of denial. I have been watching the tides climb, inch by inch.

Now the tides of human beings are in play. Tides of people fleeing from war are also fleeing from worsening environmental collapse in North Africa and Middle East due to global temperature rise and overpopulation. Tides of people fleeing Central America for the same reasons. Tides of people fleeing to mega-cities everywhere with the collapse of sustainable village-based agriculture.

Great personal fortunes are being made by the predators who always make great personal fortunes from human misery and war. I don't mean human traffickers, necessarily. I mean people with stock portfolios. I mean people who sell fast food to the obese. I mean people who sell SUV's cheaper than electric cars. Yes, I also mean human traffickers and drug dealers. I also mean distillers and brewers and bar owners and legitimate drug manufacturers. I also mean the owners of sports teams. casinos, violent computer games. I also mean the real estate developers who cram human beings into glass towers and praise themselves for design innovation.

Where is the planet going this Christmas Day? Around its sun, as it will do until that sun blows up eventually. Where are human beings going this Christmas Day? They are going against the best of human nature, as they have always done when they become too numerous and the quality of the single human life diminishes. This, after all, is the planet's nature: Closed system which seeks equilibrium. 

Perhaps the techies among us shrug. They may feel electronically omnipotent, even intellectually superior. The humble electron has made them powerful and wealthy, as oil has made others before them. Now they are wrestling for power among themselves, as the oil barons had before them. The looming wall of limited bandwidth threatens. The availability of tech to the billions also requires great effort and resources. Producing all those electrons in wires and batteries has its costs. How sustainable are those costs? Will the planet always cooperate with their agenda?

There may be a Christmas Day in the not-so-distant future when the rich will be sealed in their own safe ecosystems while the roiling masses struggle for survival outside. That outside may well encompass the vast majority of the surface of the planet. While billions scrap for food and warmth, the 1 % most assuredly will throw snowballs and ski on their holodecks. It is what certain humans will always do, while the rest suffer. 


Friday, December 18, 2015

THE REAL STRATEGY


Angela Merkel became Time Magazine's person of the year. She also won a United Nations humanitarian award. She is being lauded for bailing out Greece and opening her doors wide to migrants pushing against the borders of the EU. She is an accomplished politician, like President Obama, who managed to garner a Nobel Peace Prize while continuing American wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The German government has now reversed its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. And it has announced plans to deport thousands of young Afghans from Germany back to their homeland. The stated rationale is the return of youth and talent to a needy Afghanistan. Sounds rational. However, Merkel's Mother-Theresa act earlier this year seems part of a much more tactical than all-accepting humanitarian strategy. 

The Polish government, on the other hand, has been open about its philosophy regarding migrants from war zones to its East. The Polish Foreign Minister frankly stated that his government would like to train/arm dissident migrants from Syria, and presumably Afghanistan as well, for return to their homelands to pursue their cause of liberation from tyranny and terror. Rather than absorbing the cultural dysfunctions and violence of the war zones into Polish society, the Polish government proposed a rational compromise. Polish society is still closer in history to its socialist past.

My point is this: Some world governments, including those of Germany and the U.S., have submitted to the wealthy elites within. With this surrender comes the adoption of the tactical hypocrisy of the upper classes. The elite cry crocodile tears over wealth disparity, which they themselves create and maintain. The elite cry crocodile tears about migrants while forcing the poor in their societies to absorb the influx and its consequences. The elite like to appear generous while manipulating the beneficiaries of their false generosity to do their bidding. 

If you doubt my premise, I suggest you read some history. You might start by reading about the First World War in Europe. You might start by reading A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Or, you might just continue to mumble herd-speak between mooing at everything the elite-managed government spoon feeds you. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

KNOW THE HISTORY.


If you are quick to drone the "Islamophobia" chant of Liberal zombies, you most likely have no knowledge of the geopolitical influence of Saudi Arabian Wahhabism worldwide. While it is unclear whether Saudi Arabia, as a state, is fueling jihad in the Middle East, it is very clear that Wahhabism has inspired many Saudi Arabians with great wealth to sponsor Islamic State.


Saudi Arabian aristocracy takes great care to distance itself from its own geopolitical influence and responsibility for Muslim fundamentalism. Why? Because Saudi Arabian aristocracy values all the luxury and decadence of The West. They use religion in their state to oppress and suppress, while flying all over the Western World to sample its forbidden pleasures, such as alcohol, infidel women, gambling, investments which yield interest. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

HAPPINESS


I wanted to write a short post on happiness, inspired by my current reading of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy by Germer, Siegel and Fulton of Harvard Medical School. The book is weighty and filled with the usual academic parenthetical bibliographical references. Not my usual cup of hemlock, but I chose it to satisfy my continuing education requirement for nursing re-licensure. And there is a written test. My interest in Buddhism over several decades has helped me to digest the thickness of this book. It is like having extra enzymes while devouring rich food.

Happiness in the Buddhist context has been explained in the book with some clarity. It is quite different from happiness as defined by a materialistic society, based in the accumulation of wealth and things. It is not "ha-ha" happiness of the drunken "it's all good" set, for example. It is not the happiness of owning a BMW or Lexus. It is not the happiness of the grown child who is still trying to please his/her parents. It is not the happiness of winning at fantasy football. These are illusions of true happiness, from the Buddhist perspective.

I have had to assess what happiness, sometimes referred to as "wellness", is, when the normal catastrophes of life occur. A fortunate 25-year-old has little use for Buddhist happiness. The world is a friendly place to the young and fortunate. It may indeed be all good, for some time. But never forever. 

My own need to discover a purpose for living through the fog of sickness and loss led me back to Buddhist reading decades ago. I was reminded then that happiness is a moment-by-moment practice, not a self-sustaining state of being. In other words, happiness requires effort in all life's waking moments. This is not a popular concept in today's culture of immediate results on flashing touch screens. Satisfying any itch with a virtual scratch is a form of addiction, not happiness.

The itches that cannot be scratched are always there in the background. Inevitable mortality is perhaps the worst one. The lack of control of our path to death, whether addressed or ignored, is imprinted on our consciousness. So, when something breaks accidentally or we fall ill despite our efforts to live healthily, the consciousness of death rises. And fear rises with it. Without practice, this fear can lead to serious anxiety and/or depression.

Happiness in its deepest form is not the absence of fear or trauma. Happiness in its deepest form is not passivity. Happiness in its deepest form is being capable of making peace with every moment of life as it happens. Maybe we should rename it "happeningness". This happiness comes from habitual attention, reflection, acceptance and compassion...first from within and then expanding outward. This habitual practice of creating personal happiness takes time and personal commitment. It is not available from seminars or courses, though these may support personal practice. 

We still live in a time when this form of practice is in direct conflict with attempts by some organized religious groups to control individual lives through smarmy propaganda (Vatican) or terrorism (Islam). These forces have always stood against individual practice. They have hobbled science, feminism and social evolution. Why? Because the individual's attainment of happiness through practice is a rejection of patriarchal (or matriarchal) dogma. It is the assertion of human rights by a perceived child to a controlling parent. It is liberation from oppression with a turning to personal enlightenment.

CYNICAL PROPAGANDA


U.S. and British media, increasingly influenced by Arab money, have been pouring pro-Arab, pro-Muslim propaganda into every news cycle. This is not insightful and balanced journalism. This is outright propaganda, bought and paid for.

Today's shining example is the touting of the first local elections in Saudi Arabia which "allowed" women voters to participate. Check your calendars, folks. Yes, it is almost 2016, nearly a century after women attained voting rights in the civilized world. These local elections in the Saudi Kingdom (yes it is a kingdom of absolute monarchs) are comparable to city council elections in democracies. The local councils have little power. They basically operate as henchmen for autocratic aristocrats. 

As a pro-feminist man, I abhor the conditions of women in countries which are still dominated by patriarchal systems. Roman Catholicism, traditional Islam and orthodox Judaism are tools of population - especially female population - control by patriarchs. The recent flush of pro-Vatican and pro-Saudi press is not simply reporting. It is the propaganda of the 1% who are aligned with these vestiges of patriarchal domination. Those journalists who submit to this cover-up should be ashamed. Those women in democracies who participate in rationalizing female oppression should also be ashamed of their selfish disregard for the plight of their sisters. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

ISLAMIC REFORMATION? NOT YET.

Radical Muslim mass murderers of San Bernardino, California.

The justifiable media and political reaction to Donald Trump's proposed reaction to the recent San Bernardino, California massacre tends toward hysterical defensiveness. Banning Muslim refugees is most likely illegal constitutionally. However, his comments have raised an important issue which the press and politicians refuse to address in the interests of appeasing OPEC billionaires. 

Despite the violent devastation brought about worldwide by fundamentalist Muslims, there is little or no evidence of an Islamic Reformation, similar to the Christian Reformation which propelled Western European culture from superstitious Middle Ages to scientific Renaissance. In fact, the wealthiest Muslim nation, Qatar, is the largest source of funding and recruits for jihadists in ISIS. Saudi Arabia, religious capital of the Muslim world, is entrenched in its Sharia Law system. It beheads, stones, lashes and maims hundreds of victims every year in the name of Islam. Iran, the epicenter of Shiite Islam, a sectarian-not-reformed Islam, carries out hanging and stoning of victims of "moral" crimes against the state. 

The Muslim world is in its Middle Ages. Muslims in The West refuse to address this issue openly. They carry on with their unbelievable defense of Islam as a "religion of peace". They are no different from any other cult. Scientologists, Mormons and other marginal religious groups are similarly irrational in their beliefs. However, Muslims are in deep denial of their subscription to a religion which is practiced worldwide as shamelessly misogynist, violent and homophobic. 

Where is the commitment of Western Muslims to true reformation? Where is the actual delivery of peaceful Islamic practice by way of political and media condemnation of orthodoxy in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, and other predominantly Muslim places where innocent, peaceful women and homosexuals are killed daily? Droning the chant, "Islam is a religion of peace.", is simply bullshit without visible evidence of masses of liberated Muslims condemning Islamic orthodoxy. 



Friday, December 4, 2015

PERMISSION VS CONTRACT


Permission is patriarchal thread which runs throughout human societies. Even the most democratic societies trade in permission: Building permits, passports/visa, marriage licenses, drivers' licenses, etc.. Repressive regimes use permission to isolate, disable and punish populations to avoid resistance from liberating influences.

The U.S. has had an increase in permission culture since 911. No-fly lists and more stringent permitting of demonstrations are examples. Permission is used to create an illusion of mass control, of public safety. However, as seen with recent revelations about police misconduct nationally, the permission culture can accompany a culture of oppression by authority.

The gay marriage movement has annoyed me as a gay man in my later years. While I understand the positive aspects of its political effectiveness, I see it as a submission to the patriarchal permission culture of heterosexuals. I see it as a quest to seek permission to be homosexual from those in authority. I find this concept offensive. I have a similar reaction to the current conflict over the use of public restrooms by transgender people. Why should anyone need permission to use a public restroom when he/she needs one?

Patriarchal social structures thrive on permission culture. President Assad's Syria was a permission culture until it exploded with resistance. Its citizens became so averse to permission culture that they have defied the boundaries of Europe to escape it. The anarchy which has resulted has left Europeans reeling.

Socialism has gotten a bad rap in The West, especially in the United States. However, socialism evolved in reaction to monarchic and totalitarian permission cultures. Socialism in its democratic forms is a contract model of social co-management between citizens and governance. Socialism aims for the greater good, hence its threat to patriarchal domination and greed. Capitalism thrives on domination through competition, and capitalism thrives in congressional and parliamentary systems which can be bought with big money by the few.

Blending socialism and capitalism has worked in countries of relative wealth and low homogeneous populations. Scandinavian nations are the common examples. However, overpopulation and migration may well threaten these havens of social democracy. Time will tell. The conglomeration of special interest groups, inherent in U.S. demographics, has hampered socialism despite  our nation's relatively small population. The U.S. has never striven for true homogeneity outside of its nationalist war-mongering, driven by patriarchal capitalists. Diversity is one of America's false gods, used by capitalist politicians to divide and conquer for their personal gain. They have branded socialism as un-American. 

The path of the U.S as environment deteriorates and population grows seems destined to veer toward more permission culture to protect the interests of the upper class, a mere 10% of the total population. Domination of the government by the wealthy capitalist interests in the U.S. guarantees increased oppression of the poor to protect the rich. Mass media is used by corporate wealth to promote fear of anarchy and terrorism as inevitable if militarist capitalism fails. Social security measures are labelled as socialist in order to justify corporate-controlled government's gutting of civilized health care and elder-support systems. The motivation is avoidance of taxes upon those who are wealthier than the vast majority of the population.

The success or failure of social contracts between governments and citizens lies with the electorate theoretically, but the permission culture in the U.S. takes the form of two major political parties which bar common citizens from public office due to the arcane electoral structures of an 18th century constitution. These structures have been captured and controlled by elites, Left and Right. The squelching of independent parties and candidates by the political process, flooded with corporate money, is obvious. They are simply not permitted an equal voice. 

When the vast majority of any population becomes disenfranchised, history shows us the inevitable. We look to Syria, Iraq and Libya and convince ourselves that these are anomalies. They are not. Revolution and war follow oppression by patriarchal oppression. The question is simply how long it takes to fester and how chronic the violence will become.