Thursday, July 21, 2011


Humboldt Avenue, oil on canvas, 1970, Tom Ferguson

Imagine waking delighted to a place of astonishing beauty and vast complexity, of infinite micro and macro magnitude gifted with a cosmic capacity to replicate itself, slightly modified, every instant. This would be an impressive locale to visit and of course that is what we are doing, visiting here. Or it could be argued that we are not tourists at all but are intricately woven into a metaphoric tapestry of magnificent interconnection. Here is the root of polarization: the Visiting faction thinks it is separate, the Abiding faction feels interconnection.

The Visitor experiences frightening emotions and responds with safety-seeking behavior, attempting to accumulate a protective buffer of power, money, prestige… safety, for since s/he sees/thinks herself alien s/he sees/thinks himself vulnerable. In a word, identifying with the separate entity s/he conceptualizes her/himself to be that entity is subject to slings and arrows, the nets of chance. Since no amount of safety will ever be enough in a world of relentless change, an obsession develops which precludes noticing the world as described in the first sentence above, except in odd unguarded moments, facilitated by alcohol et al, or perhaps art.

One could look at the Abiding faction as the advanced guard of an awakening, one anticipated intuitively by historical figures of religion, philosophy and art. An awakening whose trajectory hopefully intersects such that their (our) frantic destructive behavior over these millennia will survive only in the embarrassed annals of an infant species, while the awakening one blossoms into full consciousness and the harmony native to that state - justice, empathy and environmental balance.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Most Dangerous Moment in History

During the Cuban Missile Crisis U.S. destroyers attacked a Russian submarine. The submarine was given orders to launch its nuclear warheads against the U.S. This would have certainly precipitated a full retaliatory exchange and we would most likely not be here to discuss it. The submarine commander refused the order. I had never heard this story until I read it in one of Noam Chomsky’s articles. Though civilization was spared, the mind-set that brought us to that moment is alive and well. That mind-set is the subject of most of Chomsky’s books.

Interventions is a collection of short essays aimed at a broad readership, commissioned by the New York Times Syndicate after Noam Chomsky’s 2001 best seller 9 – 11. One of the author’s central claims is that the mainstream media confines debate to a narrow status quo, roughly Hysterical Right to Middle Conservative with few exceptions. As if to confirm Chomsky’s thesis the syndicate distributed the essays abroad but nary a one found its way into the U.S., neither in the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times etc;

Iraq is the primary topic, not surprising given the essays were written during what Chomsky calls a criminal invasion. He exposes administration lies about WMD, Al Queda/Saddam ties and involvement in 911, deconstructing U.S. claims to be promoting democracy - it being true when you take into account that in their minds democracy = plutocracy, being demonstrably false when you use a non-Orwellian definition. One example: polls showed that 90% of Turks opposed allowing the U.S. to invade Iraq through Turkey. The administration ferociously berated the Turkish military and government for following the wishes of the people.

Chomsky lays out an analysis of what’s going on that stands the mainstream propaganda machine on its head. U.S. intentions in Iraq are to set up a permanent military base in the center of the richest oil reserves area on the planet. Israel is a U.S. aircraft carrier maintained to aid the imperial quest (in return Israel gets the U.S. veto at the U.N.). U.S. policy toward Serbia/Kosovo and Cuba (well, the world really) is to vigorously discourage independence from U.S. centered Corporate rule or as they like to call it, the “free market”. In the history of this movement it came very close to triumph but was thwarted, partially and only temporarily by the election of Theodore Roosevelt. Laboring mightily since that defeat they now sense victory and are straining at the fetters of democracy, yearning to throw off at long last and forever that notion of equality that stands in the way of their absolute superiority.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pickpockets at PSC

This is my public comment made 7/6/11 to the GA. Public Service Commission on the occasion of their consideration of Georgia Power's request for yet another raid on the public treasury in the form of rate hikes to cover anticipated cost over-runs for their nuclear fantasies. They already were granted rate hikes to cover building the new reactors and an additional amount to cover the loss in credit ratings due to pursuing dangerous nuclear technology. You have to hand it to them, they've got gall.

Mulling over what to say for this meeting it occurred to me that the creators of this Commission did not choose GPC - Georgia Power Commission. Words have meaning so I was happy to notice what PSC stands for until I remembered George Orwell and how political bodies sometimes engage a practice that has come to be dubbed Orwellian.

Barbara Tuchman, in her book The March of Folly, defines folly as acting against one’s own self-interest. The business and government officials who decided to build sixty nuclear plants on an earth-quake fault don’t necessarily fit the definition. By now those leaders are probably living on nice pensions far from Fukushima so their personal interests could be said to have been served. But I think we would have to conclude that Orwell had been at work, that Public Service was really not what they were about.

Which brings me to argue that the public is not served by granting profit-seeking companies pickpocket access to the public treasury. It is even less served when those companies pursue the folly of dangerous nuclear power. I hope it doesn’t require any more Fukushimas for us to realize that when the nuclear industry chants its mantra of “safe and clean” it is committing high Orwellian-speak. Nuclear technology is expensive, risky, cumbersome, polluting and yes, dangerous. It is time to give serious consideration to NOT dangerous alternatives, which are showing themselves more competitive and benign with each passing year. I speak of Solar, Wind and Conservation.

In this new climate - I would say post-Fukushima but that disaster still bubbles ominously to our west – I refer you to the website of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, where you can download their Roadmap for a U.S. Energy Future, a roadmap that persuasively excludes coal and nuclear, both proven truly dangerous to the health of life on this planet. When you enable an alcoholic you do neither the addict nor the public a service.

As a post script I would like to add that Germany, Switzerland and Italy have all recently made the sensible commitment to eliminating nuclear power, turning to alternatives, in which they already are far ahead of the U.S. And as we speak two nuclear reactors in Nebraska are threatened by flooding, a not unpredictable event given that reactors must be located near and are dependent on large volumes of water.