Archive for the Rants & Whispers Category

POLITICIANS

Posted in Rants & Whispers on April 1, 2009 by willthomasonline

Politics is the most powerful narcotic active in the world. Idealists who have a close whiff often hallucinate that they can change a system that thrives on favors, back room deals and expediency. They are soon disillusioned or corrupted. Others will do anything for another fix. Their only principles are the people who whisper in their ears. Betrayal is their middle name. They will shake your hand, pat your baby on the ass and kiss your wife on the mouth. They will tell you they are champions of the people. They will describe the downtrodden – what their political opponents have done to them and what they will do for them – until tears fill your eyes and outrage shakes your fist and makes you scream. It is a well-known scientific fact that whenever lips part and words pour forth, all listening – to reason, spirit and others – ceases.

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FINALLY, PROOF THAT HELL DOES NOT EXIST

Posted in Rants & Whispers with tags , , , , on March 25, 2009 by willthomasonline

A chemistry student at the University of Washington has ended a centuries-long reign of terror by major religions that have been threatening believers with perpetual agony in eternal hellfire if they question “God’s word” – as stipulated by ministers, priests, popes and scholars poring over passages not “written by God” (who did not even leave any notes) but penned by other men with similarly controlling agendas.

Of course, the impossibility of a disembodied soul (or spirit) feeling corporeal sensations such as cold, rain, heat or fire has made the concept of “roasting in hell” like a chicken basted on a rotisserie a nonstarter from the beginning.

Despite this insurmountable contradiction, the notion of an eteral fiery pit filled with pitchfork-loads of freaked out souls was imposed by exasperated church leaders who finally resorted to saying “to hell with everyone” tempted toward the strong human propensity to enjoy sex and other pleasures of the flesh.

Now, thanks to a student’s answer to a bonus question on a recent mid-term university exam, threatening anyone with hell is now just a laughing matter.

Ironically, even deliciously, an act of lovemaking clinched the argument against hell.

With “eternal damnation” now proven false, daily demonstations of direct casue-and-effect… reaping what we sow… treating others as we wish to be treated… sending out vibes and actions that come back around – for good or ill – with interest… and plain ol’ karmic rebalancing provide all the incentive anyone should require to “do the right thing.”

Who needs hell, when paying for our own perversity and screw-ups right here on Earth – and receiving the benefits of our good deeds – is so inescapably inevitable? Even if we dodge the law, there’s no fooling our sickened bodies, stricken conscience, or our souls. And who needs that?

To hell with hell.

HELL EXPLAINED BY CHEMISTRY STUDENT

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs using Boyle’s Law, which states that gas cools when it expands, and heats when it is compressed. One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, “It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,” and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct……leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting “Oh my God.”

THIS STUDENT RECEIVED AN A+

WHY ARE WE PUTTING UP WITH THIS?

Posted in Rants & Whispers with tags , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2008 by willthomasonline

Suppose we juxtapose the fissures currently splitting apart the polar icecaps with the tectonic fractures spreading through a world banking system that in recent years has become a no-risk-barred casino? In my just-posted feature story, FISSURES – linked through the sidebar at right – I do just that.

So what’s the point of posting two mirroring, steeply trending downward graphs of Arctic ice loss and the value of the American dollar?

Calamity, if we don’t pay attention.

The Good News is: Tracking these widening fault lines in the planet’s intertwined ecological and economical viability, we can see them opening even bigger fissures in dangerously outmoded attitudes, unquestioned assumptions and personal priorities.

Lucky for us, we’re at the crunch point. Because we don’t have a whole lot of time to “get the lessons” we’ve so cleverly arranged for our spiritual and global growth. Happily, if not comfortably for procrastinators like me, there is not another nanosecond to lose before we change our minds and our most unconscious habits. And stop sleepwalking right off the planet in a distracted daze.

It’s fun, uplifting and connecting to offer a silent blessing of gratitude for the smile tugging at that person’s face, the green shoots of garlic coming up in the garden, the spring songs those robins are singing

And it is downright instructional to start looking closely at our own conditioned choices and actions – especially at the manipulations being run on us by the most murderous, smooth-talking, ignorant, whacko, lying, greedheads ever assembled under a chemtrailed sky. To put it nicely. With all due respect.

You know who I mean.

THE BIGGEST SCAM OF ALL
It’s been going on for so long, we think the world has always worked this way. Two mistakes right there. Because it hasn’t. And it isn’t. Working, that is.

The world’s being run, bubba. If the essence of evil is not treating all sentient beings with dignity and respect, what’s going on when you and me are called “units” and “bubble wrap” by the banking gangsters pulling the debt-and-interest levers at the hub of the wheel to which all spokes lead?

As we roll merrily off several dozen cliffs not factored in computer bottom-lines, let’s count up all the elite families in the oligarchy running this planet ragged. Include all the bankers and corporate heads profiting from death, disaster and destruction. All these faceless dudes and dudesses would not fill more than a dozen big hotels.

Now all together, shout in a loud, strong voice: “SIX-BILLION SIX-HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE!”

Then ask: “Why are we putting up with being ripped off, seeing our children and their children and other families’ children being hurt and ripped off, watching our direct kin – the myriad wild lives of this planet – wiped out, and this unique gem of blue planet turned into a smoking wasteland by computerized robot-people endlessly churning out imaginary digital bottom lines that even now are vanishing like dust in the winds of change?”

Does

Not

Compute.

I mean holy jeepers, Batgirl! Does the world really need an $81 billion dollar submarine to fight al-Qaeda’s nonexistent “navy”? (Thank you, Joe Lieberman.)

Do we really need another triple-cost-overrun, obsolete-before-it-flies, mega-billion dollar robot fighter plane “whose” only targets are the education and health budgets, atmosphere and ozone layer it shreds? Or three-hundred-billion dollar robotic stealth warships to sneak up on some guys clutching boxcutters and blow the wrong village away?

Unless, of course, our next-best weapons are handed to our many and growing opponents to “justify” the “need” for such insanely wasteful expenditures. While the real “terrorists” – lack of respect and education for women, hunger, waterborne diseases, water scarcity, dying oceans and hair-trigger climate shift – go unaddressed.

As Dana Hedgpeth points out in the Washington Post: “The high-tech planes and ships commissioned for trillions of dollars to defeat an enemy with no navy, air force or army, and using $3 knives as its weapons arsenal, were gifts to the military-industrial complex that will go on giving for decades to come. The Iraq war may end someday, but rest assured that major weapons systems, once commissioned, have a life-support system unmatched in any other sector of public spending. Rarely does the plug get pulled on even the most irrelevant and expensive war toy. Not while both Democratic and Republican politicians feed at the same trough… ” [Truthdig.com Apr 1/07]

Amen, sister.

C-130 pilots, for example, can talk easily to any command post on the planet at any time while wafting through the air dropping Dyno-Gel chemicals into hurricanes, or gigantic bombs onto indigent and indignant Afghanis. So why the frick does Boeing need another $3 billion for more radios when we have millions of American children going hungry, school programs shutting down, the elderly’s hard-earned lives and wisdom being discarded? And come to think of it: Why are those C-130s dropping giant, radioactive waste-filled bombs down their tail ramps on the poorest families on Earth – instead of food, medicine, winter clothing, tents and blankets?

I mean, Jesus (referring to his example) – if we really want to eliminate 99% of would-be terrorists overnight, all we have to do (I learned first-hand) is listen to their grievances. (We don’t have to agree, just listen.) Then… wait for it… feed them.

Offer everyone everywhere the same dignity, respect and prospects that we desire – and presto! – no more despairing, desperate or outraged “terrorists”. Except for a few short-circuited individuals who can be handled by their own tribes, or special forces and cops. It’s a heck-of-alot cheaper, saner and karmically advantageous than trying to kill one of out every three people onboard this sun-orbiting space colony.

And then we can do other stuff.

PULLING THEIR PLUGS
So when are you going to turn off the brainwashing fear-mongers? It’s as easy as unplugging your TVs. While you’re at, why not cut the cord to your molecular-messing microwave? And disconnect every brain-scrambling wireless phone and router in your place is another good start.

Feel better?

Now we can start firing all “corporate servants” and start replacing them with clued-in, new paradigm people itching to do real good. There are tons of them around. Though not that many in politics. So that chuck-and-jive shell game of interchangeable suits will have to go, too – as we get back to our founding Iroquois model of bioregionally-based representation among councils of elders, councils of youths, councils that give voice to furred, feathered, finned and leafy critters.

It’s already happening.

Our choice right now, this instant, is to first envision and then start creating what we most desire in our own lives, our relationships, our neighborhoods. Whirr-peddle up that big hill on your electric-assist bike and see how many people start asking where they can buy or build one, too. Plant some veggies in boxes on your flat roof or back deck and watch other gardens sprout around you. Leave your carbon-burner parked in your driveway for a few weeks and watch the whole block become a used car lot. (Or at least see their drivers start pressing auto insurers to charge only when a vehicle is in use.)

As for the unelected crazies and craziness we cannot seem to address, our choice is to stop buying their products and their lies, turn our backs and walk away from the briar patch, whistling, “zippetty-do-da, zippety day” – right into the streets leading to Washington. A few million outraged Americans hauling non-responsive politicians out of their offices by the scruff of their necks and either handing them pink slips, or charging them for their criminal acts, ought to do that trick.

Walking away does not mean ignoring what’s coming down, or how grossly we’re being conned. It means ending our complicity in a stupidly stressful suicidal death wish masked by drugs, denial and distracting simulations – and rejoining the marvels of raw, real, exuberant life instead.

Once more, all together on the chorus:

WHY ARE WE PUTTING UP WITH THIS?
WE’RE NOT!

PORTAL POWER
Please don’t misunderestimate my remarks.

I am not talking about electing Obama next year, after Bush/Cheney have blown up Iran and ignited Armageddon, cancelled the elections after another facilitated 9/11, or perpetrated some other dire mischief. Chances are, the Democrats are going to continue self-destructing and we (the non-voting world) are going to end up with” Bush The Sequel” on steroids. Because that’s how the system is rigged to perpetuate its profits and control.

I am not talking about waiting for blessed Obama, Jesus or some other Superhero to come bail us out. In real life, saviors and space brothers – imaginary or otherwise – seem to insist that we start helping ourselves before we can qualify for their intervention. And if Obama does makes it into the White House, he is going to need all the support we can give to pull off the vision he is so inspiringly articulating.

Nor am I talking revolution. While walking the Highway to Hell between Kuwait City and Basra, I’ve seen where weapons and violence lead. Even when the revolution is primarily peaceful – as in the former Soviet Union – “People Power” is inevitably replaced by “Mafia Power” as greed and control coalesce. Replacing one power-over system for another has never worked. Except for those at the top of the power pyramid.

I’m talking about… (may we have the envelope please…)

TRANSFORMATION!

Yes, sports fans! The Super Good News is that we are being rapidly driven out of all remaining wriggle room and right Up Against The Bulkhead of our tantrum-throwing, eyes-squeezed shut resistance.

And guess what?

THERE IS A DOOR IN THE WALL.

IT LEADS TO A MUCH BETTER PLACE.

AND IT IS UNLOCKED.

Is that handy, or what?

That door in our heart/mind is located right smack dang in the middle of 99% of the obstacles we think we face – and re-create every time we pump those mental goblins with more negative, fearful energy.

The handle is marked:

TO OPEN: TURN TOWARD LIGHT, LIFE AND POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS..

So turn it, already.

Creeeeeeaaaaak….

Step on through.

Ahhhhhhh!

Are you alive, not dying of hunger, relatively pain free, and not facing imminent extinction in this moment?

Congratulations! This is the only moment you’ve got!

EVERYBODY CHILL!
So take a breath. And another. And another… Envision enhancing your life by unshackling yourself from Oil and Credit Card Enslavement, parking your vehicle, dropping nonessential purchases, swapping and bartering and buying locally second-hand for what you need. Or maybe picking those items up and leaving others off at a “free store” like the one we have here on Hornby. Plant that veggie garden. (Check out, One Straw Revolution.) Reconnect with each other and the Earth. Organize a community garden. Or start a school garden and let it teach your children lessons of real value.

Because all children are our children.

Instead of buying still more stuff to throw into the black hole of your thirsty spirit, try refilling it naturally through quiet contemplation. Step back. Chill out. Cultivate time and space for quiet reflection. Or simply sit still looking out your eyes.

Doesn’t that feel better than another two hours of disastrous “nooz” or shoot-em-up videos and teevee?

Ten minutes’ time out twice a day will change your life in ways you never dreamed.

Stopping right where we are also helps us rediscover and recover our sense of Place. How does its Feng Shui vibe feel to you? Don’t like it so much? Change it! There is gigantic joy in taking the time to be in each moment. And major serenity in not being owned by things stored in boxes and still unpaid for.

FEED THE CHILDREN, LAY DOWN YOUR ARMS, AND COME HOME
Now we can start to see the biggest chuck and jive scam being run on us is that every “other” is an “enemy” to be feared and suppressed in ways that really oppress us!

If you are a brother wearing colors, and living every minute in fear and hatred of other brothers wearing other colors – you have fallen for a con being run on you by your real oppressors. Call a truce. Unite, instead.

Remember how the Black Panthers became real revolutionaries? While attending their strategy sessions and marching with them in Milwaukee, I watched the Panthers seriously freak out the Man when they started school lunch programs in the ghetto. Because the brothers understood that their oppressors understood that malnourished kids become listless and mentally impaired. And they knew that when it came to finally ending the slavery that has been going on ever since the last slaver sailed into Charleston and Tampa, the power of nutrition is stronger than the power of the gun.

Speaking of firearms…

If you happen to be a black or Hispanic soldier touring hell, and you have come to desperately decide that your only chance of getting home alive is to do unto others before they do it to you – hold that thought, and ask yourself why you’re fucking up other brothers and sisters of color who have never threatened you or done you wrong? Do you really believe in your heart that calling someone a “sand nigger” and blowing them away does not make you a “nigger” for doing Bush and Cheney’s dirty work? Is your green card worth your dignity and soul?

We’ve already seen an ongoing “General Strike” that has so far refused Bush/Cheney’s orders to bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. Now we need a “Grunt Strike” to back them up before the people of Iraq, the Green Machine, and the Corps are completely trashed.

Remember the Nam? That senseless slaughter finally ended when the grunts – mostly brothers – refused to go back out into the boonies. And started dropping wrenches into the reduction gears of carriers so they couldn’t’ leave port. And began fragging officers trying to pad their careers with more dead GIs.

I am not advocating more violence. I am proud to have served my country as a zoomie-in-training who went on strike instead of air strikes napalming kids in their hamlets. And I am saying that insanity ended the day the guys with the guns laid them down, lit some spliffs, and said, “Dude, we’s taking the day off. And the day after that. And the one after that. You dig?”

They did, all right. And everyone still alive came home. One way or another.

ENCOURAGING ENDORPHINS
It is choice time, amigas and amigos. Each one of us can start checking ourselves everyday, everywhere, every time: Why am I doing this? Are my thoughts, vibes and actions furthering or sabotaging my life, other lives, future lives – human and “wild”?

If you don’t like the answer, change your response. Then note, observe, bless and wonder how much happier, easier, better you feel. It is a scientific fact, when we do good and help others our heart, brain and body pump a surge of endorphins through our being. Stress deflates. And we feel gooooood about ourselves and others and where things are going.

Fear, negativity and anger have the opposite effects. And lead to an early grave.

True, the poles may be cracking up, the warmongers and torturers may be on some final fling, and the value of those pieces of paper and plastic in your pocket may be reverting to the actual worth of those materials. But – and there is always a but – we can make different choices, co-create a new story, stop giving energy to those mired in negative tapeloops, and transfer it instead to those who cherish and celebrate life in all its myriad, miraculous forms.

After all, we’re all in this together. WE ARE EACH AND EVERYONE EVERYWHERE A MANIFESTATION OF THE SAME ENERGY, THE SAME GREAT SPIRIT, THE SAME ANCIENT IMPULSE FOR COMPASSION AND COOPERATION CALLED LIFE.

So let’s get on with renovating our awareness. And letting our actions flow from that guidance. We do have that power. We do have that choice.

That’s what the melting icecaps are teaching us. That’s where the dissolution of digital dollars is returning us. If we dare to get their lessons, shift from “me” to “we”, let go of self-destructive stories that are not our own – and finally trust and surrender to the spirit of kindness and compassion that can unite us all.

ACCESS:
If you only purchase and read two more documents in your lifetime – contact the Institute of Noetic Sciences and order their 2007 and 2008 SHIFT REPORTS. (707-779-8212; noetic.org, shiftinaction.org) This information is more mind blowing than LSD! Nowhere else will you find our human predicament and potential so clearly, calmly, succinctly and compassionately laid out – along with signs and paths of transformation so astoundingly described, I guarantee you will find yourself floating on endorphins when you finish reading and rereading and exclaiming aloud. Become a member if you like. I am finding IONS audio presentations by some of the most articulate thinkers and activists of our time powerfully inspirational reminders of me how good and gracious and innovative people can be.

And if you understand how crucial daily nutrition is to your health and well being, click here.

MONEY FOR NOTHING

Posted in Bush Watch, Money Watch, Rants & Whispers on January 26, 2008 by willthomasonline

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said. Watching network news, my other California correspondent filled me in on a story I’d read earlier in the day – and dismissed as yet another freakish hallucination inflicted by seven straight years of escalating insanity from a hijacked White House that civic-minded Canadians ought to torch again. Soon.

“No,” she said. “It’s true. They’ve just announced that they’re giving us a check for $1,200 to go out and consume. They’ve got to do something to keep the economy afloat.”

“Each?” I asked. “You mean Ted Turner and billionaires like him are going to get another twelve-hundred bucks – for nothing?”

“That’s a good question,” Karen said.

We both started laughing. There seemed no other appropriate response. But we found little humor in watching our country burn down.

“We used to joke about this,” I finally resumed. “We used to ask, when are they going to figure out that if they bankrupt the economy and put everyone out of work, no one will be able to buy their stuff.”

We used to chuckle over an absurd inevitability that would see the oligarchy sending checks to people so they could keep spending.

And now they were actually doing it!

“Jesus,” I finally managed. It was not a curse, but a prayer for divine intervention. “Seventy-percent of the U.S. economy is based on people consuming at Wal-Mart and the malls,” I told Karen. Not making stuff. Buying other people’s stuff. “And now that Americans can no longer borrow against their homes, they are about four weeks from maxing all their credit cards. And then everything stops.”

Unless Boy George keeps cutting bogus checks, one of the few tasks in which he excels.

I had another thought. “What’s twelve-hundred dollars times 350 million people?” I asked this talented artist.

Of course, no baby who survives the highest infant mortality rate in the modern world is going to get a check from Uncle Sugar. The payments are to be scaled so that the most needy – non-white people who are unemployed at three-times white jobless rates, the three-million Americans sleeping on sidewalks (one-quarter of them veterans of the wars that cause this fiscal fallout) – will receive handouts in triple digits:

Zip Zero Zilch.

If you’re making 75 grand a year, or if you and your spouse are pulling in up to $150,000, you’ll each get an extra $1,200 to stick in the bank or go spend at a tropical resort – further strangling the stratosphere on the way, and not contributing much of an economic stimulus on the home front, either way. [New York Times Jan 24/08]

But if, like a huge and growing number of menially-manacled ‘mericans, you happen to be someone making not even enough in part-time paychecks to pay taxes, you will receive – wait for it! – a whopping three-hundred bucks.

“They’re saying, don’t wait. Go out and consume right now!” Karen relayed.

“And wreck the planet quicker,” I commented. “The whole thing is insane.”

MONEY FOR NOTHING, BUT NOT FOR FREE
Like a junkie searching desperately for a fix, the elephants and asses putting this package together are talking about a $150 billion “stimulus” for mall-mesmerized Americans to rush out and buy more stuff. But wait. More than 20% of all “goods” (and “bads”) sold in the United States are actually made overseas. So you can see where this is going. Even if the neocons who proved so prescient in Iraq, Louisiana and elsewhere, cannot.

Let’s let Alan Tonelson at the United States Business and Industry Council state the obvious: “A great deal of any stimulus is going to be sent overseas.”

Mostly to a denuded, faraway land choking on the 2.5 billion tons of sulfurous, carbon-packed coal smog wafted into our space colony’s wheezing atmosphere every year in order to produce most of the our steel, cement, metals, buttons, neckties and toys. Not to mention, Beijing-bashers, half the world’s cameras, nearly one-third of our TVs, and soon (by 2015) the most cars. [Mother Jones Dec 10/07]

The “free money” Bush and his Democratic accomplices are going to be handing out is not really for free, I told Karen. “It’s not even there. The country is completely bankrupt. Which means those checks will really be coming from China and Japan.“ And whoever else is crazy or frightened enough to keep ponying up $2 billion in White House loans every day to keep the roulette wheel of consumption spinning to its planet-wrecking conclusion.

“Unfortunately, the plan… looks like a lemon,” writes Paul Krugman at the New York Times.

Unhappily, those dastardly Democrats have caved once again in the face of the folks who are exporting American jobs, monkey-wrenching the economy, transferring the U.S. Treasury to their pals, and otherwise stealing the country blind.

Handing everyone making less than $75 G’s a paltry $300, and the wealthiest elite a sweet $1,200 kiss on both cheeks (and I use that word ambiguously) – “ensures that the bulk of the money would go to people who are doing O.K. financially – which misses the whole point,” Krugman correctly complains. “Money delivered to people who aren’t in good financial shape – who are short on cash and living check to check – does double duty: It alleviates hardship and also pumps up consumer spending.”

Make that “triple duty” considering what consumer spending – including the new hard drive I just ordered (on credit) to keep this website going – is doing to our spaceship.

But at least sending some trucks piled with crates of cash – a la Bremmer in Baghdad – to state and local governments, instead of Bush backers, would help avert further hardship in cities and states already devastated by federal cutbacks for endless weapons and homeland surveillance. Not to mention tickets to the “End of Oil – The Prequel”, and plummeting jobs and incomes. Such timely investment could also “head off more spending cuts,” Krugman says. Like California’s recent 10% write-down on all state funding that many economists fear could flip the feared “R” word into the doom-laded “D” word. [New York Times Jan 25/08]

Can you say 1929?

LET ME STIMULATE YOU
Krugman makes a final point: “If the money the government lays out just gets added to people’s bank accounts or used to pay off debts – the plan will have failed.” [New York Times Jan 25/08]

Guess what? This may be news to Dick and George, but the last big tax handout to the rich mostly padded their bank balances. And many more people are already behind on their mortgage and credit card payments. And fading fast. Because the gas pumps that once promised the freedom of mobility – and a means to get to work – are starting to grow fangs.

“Given that a lot of Americans are so deeply in debt,” suggest rocket scientists at the New York Times, “many may use the money to pay off bills rather than to buy new goods and services.”

From China?

A better way to “stimulate” a Zombie Economy that has been dead for some time but only just now beginning to realize it, is “for the government to spend more money on urgently needed domestic projects, like rebuilding bridges,” The Progressive’s Matthew Rothschild remarks. “Which should be an easy sell…”

The New York Times editorial elite concur. “The best way to ensure that dollars do not leak abroad would be to spend them on state-financed public works projects employing large numbers of people – repairing levees and dams, fixing bridges or building schools. The money could also be directed to states that face shrinking tax revenues as the economy contracts. An infusion of federal money would allow them to sustain construction programs and social services for the poor,” they write.

Drawing heavily on his opinion pipe, economist Dean Baker exhales a fantasy that the government that blocked Bali, ripped up the Kyoto accords, reduced vehicle fuel economy standards, ignored Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and invaded two countries to grab their oil rigs and pipelines… “could focus on environmentally sane options.”

“We can have generous tax credits for people to install more insulation in their homes, solar panels or other improvements that will reduce energy use. This would be an effective way to reemploy many of the construction workers who are losing their jobs,” Baker believes. “We can also give people money and a powerful incentive to use mass transit by giving transit agencies money to reduce fares. If we gave public transit agencies enough money to reduce transit fares by $1 a trip, over the course of a year this would provide the same stimulus as giving a $500 tax rebate to every user of public transit.”

Why didn’t the Dems demand this? Because their corporate donors would have disowned them.

The Bushites not only favor perpetually profitable wars for the banks and weapons makers that back them. They are also big on perpetual tax cuts for big businesses. The spin is that throwing money at already profitable companies will cause them to expand and hire more workers.

They are. But most often in countries other than the US of A.

The ‘Times also learned: “If consumers lack money to spend, then businesses will stand pat or even cut back and fire people.” [New York Times Jan 25/08]

They must have been tapping my call to Karen.

HOW’S YOUR MANDARIN?
Last time I looked in December 2007, the U.S. national debt was expanding like a red-shifting galaxy stolen by Klingons – by about $1.4 billion a day.

That’s nearly $1 million a minute.

And that’s before Bush’s latest emergency bail-out, which like his dad’s in the Pacific war, is going to leave everyone else in the burning plane.

According to the Associated Press, the “mind-numbing” $9.13 trillion national debt “will top $10 trillion” around the time the tireless architect of so much calamity retires to his ranch. Not the one in Crawford. I’m referring to the big spread protected by U.S. troops he’s just acquired in Paraguay. Does Señior Arbusto know something he isn’t telling the rest of us?

It must be Y2K for real. Because, as AP points out, that $10,000,000,000,000 shackle around the ankle of every American is one digit more than the odometer-style “National Debt Clock” near Times Square can handle.

And more than we can handle, too.

“We pay in interest four-times more than we spend on education, and four-times what it will cost to cover 10 million children with health insurance for five years,” harangues House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – while voting more borrowed billions for yet more wars, weapons and deaths that undermine the morality and monetary policies of her own country.

Foreign governments and investors now hold some $2.2 trillion – or about 44% – of U.S. debt. (Japan is first, with 586 billion depreciating dollars. China is close behind with a reported $400 billion in greenback monopoly money. (Some economists put Beijing’s dollar “exposure” closer to a trillion.) Britain holds $244 billion in bad paper. And Saudi Arabia and other oil-exporting countries are in for another $123 billion. And wondering aloud why they aren’t demanding euros to supply the biggest addiction on Earth.

If foreigners keep floating us loans, by 2050 U.S. indebtedness will hit 350% of the GDP. Everyone knows it will never be paid back . And everyone in the United States will be permanently enslaved, not just by gun-toting Blackwater thugs branching out from Baghdad and New Orleans, but by their creditors. And wouldn’t ya know it? Darn near every building, business, bank and other financial institution in the United States of America will be owned by Beijing. [AP Dec 3/07]

Will throwing another inflation-fueling 150 bil at the hemorrhaging U.S. economy keep it on life-support long enough for Republicans to escape the worst electoral drubbing in the history of the known universe, next year?

Kevin Hall isn’t taking bets on it. As this economic expert explains, “The economic growth package being prepared by President Bush and Congress may help ease the sting of an economic downturn or soften the blow of a recession, but it won’t fix the deeper structural problems that are menacing the economy.”

Buried as deeply the bombs that pulled down the WTC, these structural vulnerabilities are highlighted in the “mammoth investment banks Citigroup and Merrill Lynch,” which have just announced combined fourth-quarter losses of $20 billion – on top of combined write-downs totaling another $30 billion “for bad bets made on mortgage-related bonds.”

That’s a lot. And the cash required to plug those Titanic-size holes is needed right now.

There are more icebergs ahead, Hall warns. “Fears are mounting that insurance companies, which issued policies to protect Wall Street firms from losses on those mortgage bonds, don’t have enough money to pay up.” [McClatchy Newspapers Jan 18/08]

And here’s the kicker:

“The biggest single new investor is likely to be the Chinese government, which has used the financial crisis to snap up large chunks of the US finance industry,” Hall heralds. “Most recently it paid $5 billion for a stake in Morgan Stanley, and is also putting $1 billion into Bear Stearns. [Independent Jan 15/08]

Countries that control our debt control our future, worries Republican budget hawk, Senator George Voinovich. [AP Dec 3/ 07]

He’s right.

WRECKER’S BALL
Meanwhile, back in the Reality that stubbornly resists conforming to the White House version…

“The nation’s physical foundations seem to be crumbling beneath us,” say the editors of the New York Times. “Last week, a 40-year-old interstate highway bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, plunging rush-hour traffic into the Mississippi River 60 feet below. Two weeks earlier, an 83-year-old steam pipe under the streets of Manhattan exploded in a volcano-like blast, showering asbestos-laden debris… The deterioration undermines our quality of life and retards economic growth. Traffic jams waste gasoline, pollute the air and exhaust drivers’ patience. Disabled trains and subways strand commuters. Gridlocked airports disrupt travel plans. And power failures plunge millions into darkness.”

Just wait. Already two years outdated, the American Society of Civil Engineers latest report assigned “near-failing grades of D-to drinking water, sewage treatment and navigable waterways,” tisks the Times. I’ve done the research. Drinking water from any tap in any city in the United States can kill you quite dead. [New York Times Aug 5/07]

Did the FOX in this henhouse forget to mention that some 35 million Americans went hungry in 2006? That’s 13 million malnourished American children at risk from having their physical and mental development permanently stunted – nearly the same number as their hungry, traumatized counterparts in Iraq. [Reuters Nov 14/07]

Could there possibly be a connection?

IT’S THE WARS FOR DUMMIES, STUPID
The lavish government spending Bush prefers is not to help people other than his sponsors. But to hurt them. War and weapons top his list of subsidies. Could this have anything to do with his childhood need to blow up frogs with firecrackers? Or maybe the still-standing record he set as transplanted Texas governor for the number of death row prisoners – including the certified mentally retarded and others of questionable guilt – who received this smirking Caligula’s thumbs down. With more than one million innocent people dead in Afghanistan and Iraq – and both countries in radioactive ruins from the wholesale use of weapons tipped with America’s nuclear waste – why is it taboo to talk about this? Hasn’t anybody else noticed that Dubya is a sociopath?

And why aren’t deadweight network “anchors” commenting on something else that’s obvious? Indulge in wasteful wars like Vietnam, and “Big R” Recession is always the result. Why should an even costlier quagmire in a just-as stubbornly resistant Iraq be any different?

Oh right. I forgot. They were going to pay for it.

MAKING CHOICES
“We cannot afford this war,” says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. No kidding. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the ongoing bloodshed and destruction in “Afghanaraq” will cost Americans $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years. [AP Dec 3/ 07]

That’s a lot of neglected American children, waterways, roads, schools, smokestacks, powerlines and bridges.

Factor in the “hidden costs” of these ongoing wartime disasters – higher oil prices, care for maimed, brain-damaged and traumatized soldiers, plus interest on all that borrowed money – and a recent Joint Economic Committee report says we’re looking at a $3.5 trillion price tag by 2017. That is serious sticker shock. Just as Climate Shift and the Extremely Expensive Oil kick in. [Reuters Nov 13/07]

What about the families who actually live in the places we’re bombing, as rapidly escalating urban air strikes replace boots on the ground? According to hospital records and door-to-door medical surveys published in the prestigious Lancet, more than one-million Iraqi people have died since the illegal U.S. invasion. Most of them children. Counting higher-paid mercenaries, more than 5,000 U.S. troops have been killed and more than 40,000 physically wounded. So far. You can easily triple this wounded count by including lifetime debilitation from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Actually, Harry, we cannot afford any more wars.

“The $500 billion that Bush has squandered in Iraq could have paid for 4 million new housing units, or hired 8 million new teachers. And the $2 trillion we may end up spending on this war could pay for universal health care for 12 years,” points out Anita Dances of the National Priorities Project.

Domestic spending like this – and economic incentives to create “green jobs” – would also have been much better for the economy than the endless manufacture of machinery to tear people to pieces, poison their wombs and reduce their neighborhoods to rubble.

“Every billion dollars spent on the military results – directly and indirectly – in fewer jobs and lower quality jobs than a billion dollars spent on education,” shows a recent analysis published by the Political Economy Research Institute. “That is, the effects of military spending ripple through the economy with much less vigor than government spending on other programs. Plus, domestic spending has a longer lasting impact on the economy. A well-educated, healthy workforce, along with investment in infrastructure, will fuel the new industries of tomorrow.”

Weapons spending in a permanent war economy, on the other hand, fuels inflation and debt.

HEAVY WEATHER
“When a credit system implodes, it can feed on itself with lightning speed,” warns the Telegraph’s editorial board. They should know. Right outside their London windows is “The City” where bank-driven money markets make the financial “plays” that impact everyone and everything on the planet. [Telegraph Jan 4/08]

Barney Frank is the congressional chairman of the Financial Services Committee. He says that this week’s worldwide stock market “declines” plus the panicky move by the privately-held Federal Reserve to lower interest rates by a massive three-quarters of a percentage point make it clear that yet more borrowed billions must be poured on the debt conflagration. Immediately. As he puts it, “The trigger has already been pulled.” [New York Times Jan 24/08]

Don’t sweat deepening the deficit, Frank urges. The real problem is that all this debt is not producing much, except windfall payoffs to political cronies on both sides of the Congressional aisle. Like the well-connected folks who run Blackwater, Halliburton, Bechtel and the Carlyle Group. [Progressive Jan 11/08]

Still, whether Uncle Bush can dodge the bullet of his own devising by putting this new inflation shotgun to America’s dazed forehead and pulling both triggers remains to be experienced.

It probably won’t be pretty. Or fun.

Just as sailors know that when landlubbing forecasters cushioned by their climate-controlled cars and buildings speak of “windy” weather, you’d better batten down the hatches and prepare for a hurricane… similarly, when tight-lipped U.S. financial priests talk of a “decline” – think 50,000-pound bunker buster whistling toward your den.

A Swiss Central Bank governor named Thomas Jordan puts it another way. “The kind of upheaval observed in the international money markets over the past few months has never been witnessed in history.” [Telegraph Jan 4/08]

PERHAPS A COURSE CHANGE WOULD BE WISE
What if we cut back on our consumption instead? What if we got off the jets, and turned deserted malls into mini-communities of apartments, offices and small shops? What if we give the planet, our nerves, and our families a breather by investing whatever money we have in green companies that offer our children a future?

“All that is left is the one option that would have served Americans (and the world) best all along, which is to model environmental sanity,” insists Jacques Leslie in his landmark article in Mother Jones. “Stop buying products made from illegally cut wood [at Ikea and Home Depot, for example]. Stop building coal-fired power plants. Instead of subsidizing oil companies, invest government funds in research on sustainable-energy technologies. Build effective mass-transit systems in every city. Cut greenhouse gas emissions. Show China” – and a skeptical Two-Thirds World – “the benefits of responsible behavior.” [Mother Jones Dec 10/07]

Out here on the Left Coast, economist Robert Pollin stubbornly believes that a People’s Economy is possible. Pollin is pulling for the common-sense creation of one million new jobs in “health care, education, and energy conservation.”

He also advocates “extending public medical insurance to every single American who doesn’t have it today, and greatly expanding educational opportunities.”

Why not?

It’s our money, after all.

A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION THAT COUNTS

Posted in Rants & Whispers on December 31, 2007 by willthomasonline

Although our dates differ, I side with the Chinese in celebrating New Year’s as the pre-eminent holiday. The promise of a new year, with its fresh start – another chance to court good fortune through right and reasoned action – is exhilarating. (Even if the previous year, with all the good feelings and intentions that went into its arrival, did not turn out well enough to usher in its successor without fresh feelings of optimism and relief.)

The Chinese I knew in Hong Kong honored the traditional New Year by paying off their debts, sweeping out their domiciles, and donning new clothes. So for this new year, I’ve purchased a new red shirt (symbolizing Good Luck), and have been busy with the Bissell. Paying off my credit card will have to wait.

But some debts can be put off no longer. Not when the threat of foreclosure involves the entire planet.

For 2008, a single resolution tops all lists. Yup, it’s another drastic diet. Like all diets, the benefits from this one promise to far outweigh the temporary pain of withdrawal. Like some diets, failure to achieve objective measurable goals within a limited and shrinking timeframe will have fatal consequences. But like no other New Year’s resolution, if we shirk from this one –and by “we” I mean me and you, Bubba – multitudes of future finned, furry, feathered, leaved and bipedal beings will suffer our denial and sloth with lives of hardship and terror they did not invite. Followed by extinction.

And extinction, as someone famously said, is forever.

Insulated by drugs, distractions, and the mirage of consumer well-being carefully crafted by sophisticated media manipulators, many of us still do not viscerally connect with the Sixth Great Extinction Event rolling across the world beyond our blinkered Virtual Reality screens. Even with the weird, wild weather relentlessly reported on our TV and computer monitors hammering at our windows, we refuse to change unthinking habits.

It is time, right now, on the first day of 2008 to actually undertake the diet we’ve been promising ourselves with almost the same fervor with which we’ve been putting it off. I refer, of course, to the Ultimate Diet of planetary perpetuation:

“Dr.” Gore’s Low Carbon Diet

REDLINE 350
At the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco during the closing days of 2007, scientist James Hansen provided the numerical target for the world’s urgently required crash diet in carbon reduction: 350 parts per million.

Don’t forget this number.

Three – five – zero. Meaning, 350 molecules of carbon for each million molecules of atmosphere.

This “simple, straightforward and mind-blowing bottom line for the planet,” eco-author Bill McKibben wrote in the Washington Post at the end of 2007, is “the number that may define our future.” [Washington Post Dec 28/07]

Let’s put this speedometer in perspective. Before humans started shoveling mountains of coal into steam engines and furnaces harnessed to the Industrial Revolution, the concentration of carbon in Earth’s paper-thin atmosphere was roughly 275 parts per million.

But over the past five years, as our space colony’s carbon loading headed past 380 parts per million, thousands of top atmospheric scientists contributing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reached the common sense and scientifically verified conclusion that surging global temperatures, extreme weather events, and the rapid melting of slip-sliding ice sheets were already rendering their previous carbon red-line of 450 parts per million dangerously obsolete.

“The evidence indicates we’ve aimed too high – that the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 is no more than 350 ppm,” Hansen said last month.

Oops!

This means that the recent Bali decisions to continue debating carbon reduction schemes with a recalcitrant and delusional White house, the recently passed U.S. congressional bill to mandate gas mileage for cars to 35 milers-per-gallon a dozen years from now, and even the European Union’s laudatory moves to slash their own carbon emissions and continue turning sharply to sources of clean renewable energy must all be sharply revisited, revised and immediately acted upon.

Thing is, McKibben summarizes, “We’re already at 383 parts per million, and it’s knocking the planet off kilter in substantial ways.”

The author of The End Of Nature, and more hopeful sequels, points to “reams of paleo-climatic data” showing “the last time the Earth warmed two or three degrees Celsius – which is what 450 parts per million implies – sea levels rose by tens of meters.”

With most of this watery world’s inhabitants living on or near a seacoast, a three-foot sea level rise would be catastrophic. The 27-foot rise predicted if the vast Greenland ice sheet slips into the sea means that life was we know it – our day-to- day assumptions and routines – ends in that splash. As for a 300-foot or higher rise in sea levels following the collapse of Antarctic ice sheets… we absolutely, Do Not Want To Go There.

YEAR END
We are already well on our way.

Recapping the year, the first month of 2007 was the world’s warmest January on record. “It was the first time since record-keeping began that the globe’s average temperature has been so far above the norm for any month of the year,” the Associated Press reported.

While the United States continued to lead the world in carbon emissions, weather stations across the country broke or tied 263 all-time high temperature records. Except, that is, during last August when U.S. weather stations recorded more than 8,000 heat records either set or tied.

Also that month, more than 60% of the United States was either abnormally dry or suffering from drastic drought. Lake Superior, the biggest and deepest of the Great Lakes, dropped to its lowest levels in history. Los Angeles was recording its driest year on record. Atlanta’s main water source, Lake Lanier, shriveled to a worrying all-time low. And south Florida’s Lake Okeechobee dropped to its lowest level, too.

Meanwhile, not so jolly ole England had experienced the warmest April in 348 years, shattering all previous records.
And deepening drought continued in Oz, turning global warming into an election issue Down Under.

Up Top, our planet’s climate-moderating Arctic icebox continued to rapidly defrost, melting “far beyond the previous melt record,” noted AP. [AP Dec 29/07]

Onboard the Starship Enterprise, so many whooping and shrieking life-support alarms would be spurring furious activity on the bridge – including the shutdown of all non-critical activities and systems. But onboard Starship Earth, on the day Al Gore rang multiple major alarms during his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, we crewmembers jumped into our cars and trucks and “lo-cost” jets, cranked up our factories and power plants – and dumped another 70 million tons of global-heating pollution into what Gore termed the “open sewer” of our ship’s recirculating atmosphere. [Seattle Times Dec 28/07]

ABANDON SHIP?
Every year is “pivotal” now.

In the closing decades of this Last Chance Century to get it right and come to terms with ourselves, each other and the planet that sustains all life, it is useful to remember that onboard a sun-orbiting space colony surrounded by the cold, irradiated vacuum of deep space – there are no lifeboats.

GLOBAL MELTDOWN, THE SEQUEL
The planet’s been here before. Earth’s last big Global Warming event happened long before people started building cars and coal-fired power plants. In fact, it occurred long before people happened, many millions of years ago. The result: massive die-off of most terrestrial and oceanic species. The most likely culprits: rampant heat-trapping volcanism, and undersea tectonic shifts that released gigatons of frozen seabed methane into the atmosphere.

Methane traps 22-times more heat than carbon dioxide.

What makes me nervous is that our carbon-burning vehicles have already released more CO2 into the atmosphere than all the volcanoes linked to that previous catastrophe. As the Siberian, Arctic and Yukon permafrost continue thawing at record paces, releasing vast stored reservoirs of melting methane, there is also evidence that those long-dormant frozen methane “clathrates” on the seafloor are also beginning to burp into the air again.

Since we are starting 2008 already past the “350” danger line… McKibben voices the question many of us are thinking: “Does this mean we’re doomed?”

Not yet, he answers. “Not any more than your doctor telling you that your cholesterol is way too high means the game is over. Much like the way your body will thin its blood if you give up cheese fries, so the Earth naturally gets rid of some of its CO2each year. We just need to stop putting more in and, over time, the number will fall, perhaps fast enough to avert the worst damage.”

That “just,” he acknowledges, is a biggie.

POWER DOWN
James Hansen, the scientist who first called the world’s attention to human-induced climate change decades ago, is now calling for an immediate ban on all new coal-fired power plants that do not capture their carbon emissions. Since the tree-replacing technology needed to safely sequester carbon is neither proven nor available, this could mean building replacement windmills and solar farms with the power plants already on-line.

But Hansen and many if not most of his scientific colleagues also want those existing coal-fired plants phased out quickly. If not sooner. They also want to see a high enough tax placed on carbon emissions to ensure that tar sands and oil shale in Canada, the USA and elsewhere are left in the ground. Returning to his medical analogy, McKibben says, “We’re not talking statins to drop your cholesterol; we’re talking huge changes in every aspect of your daily life.”
If there is not enough power to manufacture cleaner power generators and meet our anticipated needs, the only course left is the Starship Enterprise model of drastic power downs.

Right now.

Today.

The good news is that we are so wasteful of energy in Canada and the USA, making deep reductions in carbon emissions mostly means paying attention to our actions, and linking them back to the energy they consume.

DON’T BLAME CHINA
As carbon emissions in a country of more than one billion people climb toward calamitous parity with a longstanding polluter of less than one-third as many citizens, it’s convenient for we Americans to point a scolding finger at sooty China.

Just remember, those other cupped fingers point back at us.

“China is now the factory of the world. Developed countries have transferred a lot of manufacturing to China. What many Western consumers wear, live in, even eat is made in China,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang complained to reporters. “On the one hand, you want to increase this production in China. On the other hand, you want to condemn China over the issue of emissions reductions. This is unfair.” [Asia Times Dec23/05]

It’s nuts. Even as virtually the entire country acknowledges the perils of global warming, debates the costs and benefits of dirty energy, and moves toward cleaner sources – nearly one-quarter of China’s current carbon emissions are being created manufacturing goods and “knickknacks” for export to Western consumers. Some 70% of the Christmas ornaments and related holiday paraphernalia we world citizens bought this year originated in China. Eighty percent of the toys sold in the USA are Made in China. [Inter Press Service Dec 11/07]
It’s time to get real. Want to curtail coal-fired pollution in China? Stop shopping at Wal-Mart.

“THEY” AREN’T GOING TO FIX IT
At the same time, we cannot continue waiting for politicians beset by Big Oil, Big Cars, Big Banks and Big Political Parties to buck their arm-twisting paymasters in time to even acknowledge this crisis – never mind make a difference. Even with ice caps literally falling off a cliff, as Ellen Goodman writes in the Seattle Times, “The inconvenient truth of the 2008 election year is that climate change is still way down the dance card of most-talked-about topics. It’s ranked No. 12 among Democratic candidates, and No. 15 among Republicans.” [Seattle Times Dec 28/07]

Is this some kind of sick joke? While interchangeable candidates debate how many more decades American troops will remain in a ravaged country they have no business occupying in the first place, the number one security threat facing every lifeform on the planet is not even a campaign issue!

As my father, a veteran of two wars, would say: stop complaining.

And do something.

Ready for a New year’s Resolution that counts? Set a personal Low Carbon dietary goal of reducing your personal carbon-based energy use by one-third immediately.

And another one-third just as soon as you can.

DIET DELIGHTS
How?

Simple. Just take the monthly mileage for every vehicle in your household, divide by one-third – and stick to this new target. Or cut your monthly gasoline (or diesel) receipts by one-third. Then take your monthly utility bill and achieve the same money-and-Earth-saving goal by turning heaters (and air conditioners) down, turning off unneeded lights and appliances – and especially by putting all your TVs, computers, and plugging all those proliferating little black transformers into power bars and completely clicking them Off-Off when not in use.

Corporate consumption conspirators want us to fear the “lack” left by far fewer trips to the mall. But replacing our conditioning with conscious choice leads to major gains as heightened awareness of our actions and their consequences begins reconnecting us with myriad lives and wonders.

Nobody says that breaking addictions is painless. But dropping manipulations is liberating. As we simplify our lives and begin slowing down from our customary frenzy, priorities that matter most begin to emerge, while time and attention-robbing distractions – such as teevee and other nattering nabobs – fall away. Stress levels drop, while health and sleep improve. And delight in the company of family and friends more than replaces the momentary seduction of constantly calling gadgets.

Don’t like your unresponsive, rip-off government? Tired of faceless bankers calling the shots? Worried about big corporations privatizing – and profiting from – every aspect of your life?

No worries, mate. Just stop buying their propaganda and their stuff!

Help make 2008 a turn-around year.

As for those stacks of greeting cards you’ve put aside for next Christmas wishing “Peace On Earth”. Get them out now, Ellen Goodman suggests, and send them out for the New Year. After making a small correction:

“Peace With The Earth”

And good will toward all beings in 2008

MARRIED TO CASSANDRA

Posted in Rants & Whispers on December 14, 2007 by willthomasonline

There’s no question we live in transitional times. Even those who can’t bring themselves to acknowledge shifts now well underway sense tectonic tremors beneath their feet.

Three fast freakouts:

* Despite the most recent National Intelligence Estimate finding no atomic weapons programs in Iran, White House fundamentalists determined to speed Armageddon remain eager to “Go Nuclear” there.

* Despite rapidly melting glaciers threatening to drown major cities, and guaranteed planetwide catastrophe if carbon emissions keep rising, Big Automakers, Big Oil, faceless bankers and their sponsored politicians continue to sabotage international response.

* Despite Saudi Arabia’s frantic failure over the past several months to boost output above the world oil production plateau, national governments remain silent on preparing their constituents for “Peak Oil” at a time when demand is soaring.

For anyone tuned in, the Web’s daily radar is filled with “incoming” hits like these. But anyone still sleepwalking in a media trance of denial and distraction is about to see their favorite reality tunnel caved in as calamities besetting strangers broadcast as snacking “infotainment” begin taking place outside their windows.

But there’s a flip-side to fatalism. As New Economist Hazel Henderson once famously said, “Things are getting a lot worse – and a lot better – at the same time.”

* Ten million people in the streets saying no to war and violence is unprecedented.

* So are cities across the United States moving into high gear with European-style initiatives and incentives to improve their qualities of life, while tackling greenhouse emissions.

* Amazon’s last surviving rainforests may be left standing thanks to new initiatives that could see countries paid more for the carbon sequestered in their trees than for cutting them down.

Whether these six examples of countervailing trends are cause for dancing or despair depends on where we put our attention.

MARRIED TO MS. CASSANDRA
During four decades as a journalist/activist in the peace and environmental movements, I’ve noticed over and over how veteran campaigners slogging for years in desperate, unsung trenches too often end up married to gloomy Cassandra. Though cause for deep personal anguish, each newly reported calamity – a forest clearcut here, a savage bombardment of another city there – also imparts a grimly self-righteous satisfaction, an “I told you so” vindication of scoffed-at warnings. Maybe this time, volunteers trying to dent government and public indifference tell themselves in an exhausted mantra. Maybe after this atrocity or disaster, people will begin to wake up and get it.

Even more insidiously, I’ve seen how activists and administrators fortunate enough to get paid to work relentless hours under “firehouse” stress of constantly ringing alarms come to depend on disastrous news to convince donors to keep sending those organization-sustaining checks.

This is understandable.

But while we must unflinchingly update our most realistic appraisals of the threats we face in order to take effective corrective action, being wedded to doom is a marriage made in hell. As I’ve seen so many times, having an emotional or financial investment in bad news is a sure-fire way to crack up our most valued relationships, turn off the public, and propel our burned-out, cancer-ridden corpus into a box or urn.

Even more worrisome is a tendency I first noticed when I caught myself reflexively dismissing good news that contradicted the message I was “selling”.

Continuing worldwide peaceful uprisings against violence and war?
The neocons’ senseless aggression continues anyway.

People everywhere rallying to reshape their lives in more conscious, less consumptive ways?
Too little, too late.

Carbon tax schemes that keep Earth’s last surviving rainforests standing?
Just another scam to bypass indigenous input, while allowing major polluters to undercut future carbon-reduction agreements by buying “carbon credits” – and keep on polluting.

Which perspectives are correct?

Whichever one we choose to give energy to.

FIRST THINGS FIRST AND ALWAYS
It pays to heed the First Law Of The Universe, which stipulates:

WE ATTRACT WHATEVER THOUGHTS AND ENERGY WE PUT OUT.

Since nothing beats fear-powered pessimism for instant manifestation, it is 100% certain that our dourest rebuttals to encouraging news will become self-fulfilling.

In the same way – and here’s the good news behind good news – even the smallest signs of positive change can become the gentlest snowflakes that trigger an irresistible avalanche of transformation.

The catches are three:

1. You can never know in advance of the next demo, interview or keystroke when the Hundredth Monkey will get it, sending “critical mass” consciousness sweeping through the entire world tribe. The only certainty is that if everyone gives up, our space colony will founder.

2. Universal energy does not respond to confusion. Choose doom. Or choose bloom. You can’t go both ways at once.

3. Denial is not an option.

FAKER
Still certain that we’re toast, that our individual efforts can’t matter?

You’re right!

(See the First Law Of The Universe.)

On the other hand…

When all appears lost – and during an eight-year Pacific circumnavigation challenged by hurricanes, groundings and pirates in the South China Sea, I had many terrific opportunities to shake hands with terror, panic and despair – it pays to follow this useful adage:

FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT.

What other choice of action could possibly be as entertaining while we await whatever comes next?

Tell the universe, “No worries, I’m on it” and I’ve been repeatedly slack-jawed in wonder as the allies, guides, tools, tickets and cash required for right action are always – always – synchronistically provided.

All captains know that false hope is foolish when there are no lifeboats and the good ship Earth’s going down. But even deadlier is anticipating doom and doing nothing to join others patching the hull, leading shipmates to safety, or working the pumps. When disaster strikes – and we’ve got plenty of icebergs to choose from! – cracking a joke and lending a hand is always the best palladium.

RIGHT ON
While we’re busy channeling our grief and outrage into cooperative efforts aimed at redirecting the militarized-corporate energies causing senseless slaughter, or the acidification of our planet’s single great ocean – we must also remember to:

CELEBRATE OUR VICTORIES.

No “win” is too small to elicit loud expressions of gratitude and right on! affirmations that reinforce and ramp up each ripple of positive accomplishment:

“I left my car parked for five days this week.”

(Right on!)

“Our Tupperware company is recovering and recycling its waste chemicals, while converting to manufacture sustainable plastics derived from the third pressings of discarded veggie oils.”

(Right on!)

“We cut our household electricity bill 30% just by turning off thermostats in unneeded rooms, switching off lights, and pulling the plugs on TVs, computers and power-bars crammed with those little black power boxes – each of which is sucking power, even when supposedly switched “off.”

(Right on!)

“Forget cheap fare come-ons. I am not flying anywhere through our planet’s unraveling stratosphere.”

(Right on!)

And so it could go – multiplied by billions of similar decisions – once we change our minds and begin acting on those realizations.

How about right now?

READY OR NOT
I know. I know.

Major ecological and geological thresholds are already behind us and receding fast. All indications are that we’re heading fast for mass die-offs and disruptions. And sure, my personal choice to make most of my hilly, short-haul trips by electric-assist bicycle, and run a hydroelectric-powered heater instead of burning logs in my woodstove are insignificant gestures compared with the obscene and rising carbon emissions from Alberta’s tar-sands feeding frenzy.

So what?

It might be useful to recall that the “future” so many are so freaked out about does not exist.

All we have is this moment.

And no one else’s action or lack of action relieves me of my personal responsibility toward the many lives that sustain me, and those that will follow.

Despair is easy. Hopelessness is a cop-out. Both are affronts to the miraculous gift of life. And neither is much fun.

Try this bracing two-part remedy instead:

ACT ANYWAY

REMAIN UNATTACHED TO OUTCOMES

With species including our closest kin – lemurs, monkeys and gorillas – becoming extinct a hundred times faster than the fossil record, what counts is not whether we succeed in slowing Earth’s Sixth Great Extinction Event before most critters (including us) go permanently bye-bye.

What matters is getting the lessons we’ve arranged for ourselves. And starting to live with attention.

What matters is whatever joy, creativity and gratitude we can bring through our rage and our tears to reclaim our harmonious kinship with the great skein of interwoven lives sharing this Earth.

This is our graduation exercise.

It is strictly pass/fail.

WATCH YOUR STEP
While working with a small band of brothers trying to save endangered flocks of migratory birds winging their way north from Africa through the oil-fired hell of Kuwait, I understood that our quixotic quest did not matter in ways that could be counted.

Regardless of odds or outcome, we knew only that we had to try. Almost daily, we had to risk sand-drifted minefields and later, the booby-trapped waters off al-Khiran in the hopes of saving even a single bird. Not because our respective lives could or should be weighed. But because Rick Thorpe, Jim Logan, Michael Bailey and I sensed that in such insane desolation, with crude oil raining from perpetually blackened skies, blinded flying creatures careening into blowtorched wells, and the cries of a hundred-thousand butchered teenage conscripts still echoing across a stunned galaxy – someone had to affirm life.

And so it is today. Except you don’t have to rush off to a war or disaster zone. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you can start making a difference the instant you realize:

IT IS OUR KARMA MORE THAN OUR CARBON THAT MOST URGENTLY NEEDS TO BE REDRESSED.

This is very cool. For in helping reconcile the karmic balance, no act is too small. Every right action reverberates, joins with others – and matters.

And you never know…

Out great-grandchildren, and myriad furred, finned, feathered and seeded offspring, just might make it.

And even Cassandra will smile.

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