22 veterans commit suicide every day while more than 60,000 homeless veterans wander the hopeless landscape of a dying country that forgot about them a long time ago. And the organization charged with taking care of veterans – the Department of Veterans Affairs – has become notorious for delaying claims, losing paperwork, and ultimately denying benefits. But these are not “mistakes.” The system isn’t “broken.” The agenda of denying benefits to combat veterans cannot be described as anything but deliberate, especially after numerous VA whistleblowers provided evidence that the government intentionally pushes vets toward suicide, employing time tested tactics to systematically deny benefits. Two years ago we presented a the life and struggle of a Missoula area Vietnam veteran named Lance Michael Hartley and his unbelievable struggle to gain health benefits through the VA. Now, two years later, we can report the incredible follow up to an already intense story.
Ever get so caught up in your way of thinking that you lose sight of how others see the world? Our personal ideologies tend to imprison our minds in set patterns of habituated thought. Blogger Chris Bisignani refers to this tendency as, “The Framework Game”. In a similar vein, Trey Spruance coined the phrase “Wizard Prison” to encapsulate his observation that the most esoteric and powerful human frameworks tend to tempt the practitioner into thinking only in terms of their specific discipline at the expense of all other perception; astrologers sometimes attribute everything – even the inconsequential – to the planets, while scientists often dogmatically dismiss anything unseen – even in the face of overwhelming evidence – as delusional fantasy. This human propensity to confuse symbols for reality may comprise the beginning of enlightenment. According to the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, the ability to observe without evaluating constitutes the highest form of intelligence.
Have you ever noticed how mountains and shorelines are similar to snowflakes, or how tree branches are similar to blood vessels? This concept is known as Self Similarity. We humans are composed of trillions of cells, and in-turn are part of a biosphere composed of trillions of organisms. We are all part of the single pattern of nature regardless of scale. From the timeless spiral of galaxies to the spiral eddy in the kitchen sink, the pattern is the same. As above, so below. There is no separate world around us. We are the world. Realizing our own fractal nature, we’ve begun constructing mathematical models to better understand it; from the Fibonacci Sequence to the Mandelbrot Set and Gosper Curve and beyond. Understanding the predictability within complex systems might help us unlock the secrets of the universe, for we make our greatest discoveries amid the chaos; not in spite of it. If we learn to embrace our own fractal communion with nature, perhaps we can find peace within.
The death of net neutrality this week gives ISPS carte blanche to bogart the net, sell website packages and limit access the way cable companies do (incidentally, most ISPs also happen to be cable companies). Telecom giants insist they just want to put the internet on a “different legal footing” as a euphemistic dodge that ultimately equates to a severe threat to the internet as we know it. So our new FCC chair, Ajit Pai, put out a PSA entitled “7 Things You Can Still Do After Net Neutrality,” assuring us all that we’ll still be able to “gram” our food, post photos of cute animals, binge watch shows, and other inconsequential activities. But he got really excited about the fact that we’ll still be able to “shop for Christmas presents online,” because nothing says “Happy Holidays” like mindless holiday consumerism. So the Church of Stop Shopping joins us once again to remind us all that we don’t need to buy a gift to give a gift.
What is Christmas all about? Why do westerners place conifer trees in their homes every December? Why does Santa wear red and white, come in through the chimney, live at the North Pole and fly a sleigh aided by 8 Reindeer? How have ancient folkways incorporated themselves into our culture without us even noticing it? Do the religious motifs surrounding “water into wine,” burning bushes and Saint Nicholas constitute a clever cover story regarding hidden instructions for accessing spiritual dimensions? Why does every Sun God – including Krishna, Dionysus, Horus, Yeshua Ben Hur, et. Al – share December 25th as their date of birth? Why do all of the Sun Gods throughout history share the virgin birth, 3-day death, and resurrection motif? And what could any of this have anything to do with the mushroom-eating traditions of Siberian Shamanism? We promise that by the end of this show, the glittering lights, sleigh-bells, gingerbread, and fir trees will all make a lot more sense.
Disney has gone over to the dark side. Their acquisition of Fox might indicate this, but so does their exploitation of the Star Wars brand every holiday season. They now attempt to erase the magic of the original stories by exploiting profit potentials that only exist because the original films were the honest expression of our infinite being, and a reminder that there is good inside the most evil among us, and evil inside the most compassionate. The original films were an expression of film as a medium explicitly designed for dissent, representing a unifying perspective that deeply touched and inspired millions. It seems rather obvious that the American Empire might want to co-opt and redirect our attention away from tales that allude to its hypocrisy. So Disney are gradually inserting themselves as the principal cultural icon of modern American life. The good news is that this reign of psychological terror can end as soon as we grow tired of their electronic hallucinations.
Immediately following California’s passage of recreational marijuana, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a brutal crackdown on the cannabis industry. At a time when Gallup finds 64% of Americans favor legalization, his announcement confirms the extent of our government’s desperation and ineptitude. In a country with the largest prison population on the planet, disconnected authoritarians like Sessions increasingly demonstrate the dangers of centralized government power. As such, he may have inadvertently done more for states’ rights than any other politician in modern US history. With more Americans subjugated than ever before, the totalitarian hypocrisy of Sessions’ and his ilk signals the importance of political decentralization. But let’s not champion legalization, which has become a euphemism for usurping natural rights and then selling them back to us. Decriminalization, on the other hand, implies the government will cease to fine and imprison people for nomogenic crimes. Freedom cannot be said to exist so long as nature is made illegal.
Deified in death, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has become misunderstood, and this misunderstanding is robbing us of the essence of his character and crusade. His martyrdom has undermined his message. Honoring him on the cheap with holidays and commemorations, we have sanitized and oversimplified a man who fearlessly challenged America’s status quo, vociferously opposed the Vietnam war, and declared poverty as the greatest of society’s evils. Though truly one of America’s greatest democratic, public intellectuals, his memory has been reduced to that of an idealistic dreamer, remembered only for his 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech. Americans are surprised to learn that his final year on earth was characterized by the declaration that “America is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” So we endeavor to renew the authentic memory of this remarkable revolutionary whose true legacy warns us that those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.
Transition out of the fearful prisons of scarcity and victimization. Total Revolution requires a radical rejection of the demoralizing helplessness pounded into us by orthodox institutions and the dogmatic assumptions that built them. Human potential lies beyond the colonial rubbish of postmodern fundamentalism keeping us imprisoned in boxes of worthlessness, insecurity, anxiety and fear. We can no longer hold up erroneous, duplicitous systems that serve corporate elites in place, but to change them we must first transform ourselves. The roots of total Revolution lie in the fertile soil within. By overcoming our deepest inner fears we can instantaneously change the external world around us. By alleviating internal insecurities we put an end to external destruction. By healing internal stigmas we become agents of positive change. By facing our fears we go beyond error. If we succeed, no aspect of our world or of ourselves will remain unchanged by this remarkable period of our history.
The ideological battle that needed to be fought against oppressive orthodoxy, bigoted institutions and repressive religions can now be won, but for it not to be futile we must overcome similar dogma in the field of science. Scientific Materialism has transformed a method of inquiry into a kind of Secular Fundamentalism that denounces transcendental observation as the delusion of ignorant hippies prone to wishful thinking. This mentality derives from an experience of life as a lonely mistake and assumes that reality only entails that which can be interpreted by the limited instruments of the five senses. We must free ourselves from this self-imposed prison through compassion to find the reality of oneness. To do this we must dismiss the notion that we are dislocated, mechanical blobs motivated exclusively by our cocks and our guts. The belief that everything can be explained with the scientific method will soon be overthrown. There are just too many questions unanswered and unanswerable.
The Dystopic novels of the 20th century have proven frighteningly prophetic, depicting the imperial regimes of the corporate state as scientific dictatorships, led by kleptocrats, motivated by hedonism, and fueled by ignorance. Dog-eat-dog rationalism replaces empathy with profit-motivated cruelty. Freedom is conflated with unfettered capitalism. Multiculturalism and identity politics distract an exploited underclass from pursuing economic justice. Deliberately inefficient systems quicken irreversible ecocide. Spiritual and intellectual vacuums are filled with endless entertainments to avoid any contemplation of what we have become. Enforcers employ the tactics of imperials wars to protect the interests of the ownership class. The remaining social unrest strategically channels enraged proles into supporting morally degenerate political elites who promise utopia but only accelerate the decay. But this system didn’t just happen, and it isn’t broken. It was structured to work this way.
America is not supposed to be a “show me your papers” society, but there are no limits to what agents of the state are allowed to do, or what we are expected to passively endure. Warrantless surveillance. SWAT raids. Strip searches. Asset forfeiture schemes. Private prisons. Indefinite detention. Militarized police. Cops are trained to think like soldiers and regard the communities they serve as territory occupied by potential insurgents. But reacting to tyranny with violence only justifies more oppression. Authorities are trained to deal with violent conflict, so by using violent means we enter territory they control, and tune in to the frequency we’re trying to overcome. We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. We don’t need to fight the system. We don’t need to hate its henchmen. We just need to cease to cooperate with them. And despite how hard it might be to feel compassion for our oppressors, doing so may be the most revolutionary act.
How can a group of people sitting in a room thinking a word, influence the events of a city surrounding them? Thought objects seem to have weight and charge which means we can not only imagine, but project new realities. The astronauts of Apollo 8 reached for the moon only to look back upon the earth and unexpectedly experience an ecstatic unity with the entire universe. In a similar way, our eyes are trained to focus our attention outside. But if we can train ourselves to look inward, we too can realize the infinite kingdom of heaven within. Every spiritual tradition emphasizes an immersion in the present moment as the wellspring of all tranquility. This kind of self-awareness may seem new to many but is capable of transporting us into a realm of consciousness beyond conceptualization. The techniques of meditation constitute behavioral portals into a neglected dimension, and aren’t just for bearded wizards in the Himalayas. Now is the time to change channels and redefine the madness.
Society’s values seem inverted from that of an evolved culture. Destroying the environment generates profits but protesting said destruction generates incarceration. It’s now illegal to feed and house the homeless in many districts while at the same time the state sanctions violence and abuse against the homeless. Millions languish in chains for possession of marijuana, while drug companies profiteer from the mass prescription of toxic pharmaceuticals. In many states it’s illegal to film the abuse of farm animals, but filming every human being at all times from every angle is okay for NSA. Revealing war crimes begets jail time while committing war crimes begets political appointments. In spite of all of this, how we choose to respond to these circumstances matters most. As evidenced by the relentless barrage of fear spewing out of the MSM, the oligarchs want the masses to surrender to anxiety, despair and hatred. Resisting this directed chaos requires a reclamation of our minds.
Americans are horrified by mass killings unless the government carries them out. But every time some wacko carries out a shooting spree, we hear endless debates that hinge on disarming the people who didn’t do it. Despite the corporate media’s frenzied hysteria, school shootings are not becoming more common, but turning schools into prisons is. Security advocates emphasize “safety” but fail to mention the lucrative deals cut with military contractors to equip school cops with expensive weapons and surveillance systems. And such measures don’t even prevent the violence that justifies their imposition, since determined shooters aren’t deterred by them. Drills tramatize students. Arming teachers puts kids at risk. Furthermore, US gun deaths equal car deaths, and most are suicides. All this begs how reasonable it is to expect big brother to guarantee our safety. And our approach to mental health problems with toxic pharmaceuticals warrants attention, since most shooters are medicated.
All of humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room alone. We spend hours consuming news because we want to be well informed, is that time well spent if it’s only making us angry and uninformed? We’re so afraid of silence and boredom that we’re willing to drive ourselves crazy consuming pointless information. If all we do is consume, we’re not only letting others hijack our attention, we’re letting them think for us. And the constant barrage of outrage not only divides us against each other, it makes us docile. It might be important to take a stand on things that matter, but it is a warrior’s attitude to take a stand in love. We should not be simply fighting evil in the name of good, but struggling against the certainties of people who claim always to know where good and evil are to be found. A mind at peace does not engender wars. We can stop the internal war by simply withdrawing our unconscious participation.
A good day on Wall Street is a bad day for most Americans. An economy rooted in death, misery and hardship cannot produce health, happiness or prosperity. The DOW goes up with planetary obliteration and worker exploitation. Conversely, when workers wages go up, Wall Street has an aneurysm. Rising GDP doesn’t improve workers’ lives. The Richest 10% of Americans own 84% of the stocks. Americans are struggling harder than ever, yet there’s enough wealth that poverty should not exist; median wages continue to decline despite our $92 Trillion economy. 70% the working-age American population – 150 million people – can no longer generate enough income to afford basic necessities without taking on ever-increasing levels of debt that they will never be able to pay back under current economic policy because the jobs needed to do so simply don’t exist. Economic policy in America amounts to a slow-motion genocide that cannot continue without a descent into riots and violence.
As America’s no-name forever wars rage into their 17th year, an entire generation now reaches adulthood having never experienced their country at peace. Funded by the largest defense budget in recorded history, America’s 1,000 (known) military bases, innumerable bombings and fomenting corporate media solidify perpetual war as a natural occurrence. Those of us who remember America before 9/11 wonder what exactly our objectives are in waging these wars. What is it we’re trying to accomplish? Is there a strategy to bring these wars to a successful conclusion? How will anyone know when to raise the “Mission Accomplished” banner and let the troops come home? When should we expect the war to end? If we don’t expect them to end, shouldn’t someone say so? What will these conflicts cost in the end? If modern capitalism thrives on war, then shouldn’t we at least entertain alternative economic systems? Where did all the anti-war leftists go? And when did peace negotiations become a bad thing?
Police shootings are conspicuously absent from the gun violence conversation even though they contribute to a culture of violence more frequently than mass shootings ever do. There are already 20,000 gun laws on the books already, from which police are largely exempt. And kids aren’t happy being forced to appear at institutions that increasingly resemble prisons. Many teenage boys empathize with the anger, alienation, and hopelessness of school shooters. They are cynical that more gun laws will ever decrease school shootings because all they hear are authorities’ ideas about how better to control them. So Who’s marching against the compulsory prison system of mandatory schooling where police are free to be violent against students, often with lethal force? Compulsory schooling is only intended to program children to respond to orders and authority. It’s not intended to educate. If it did, America wouldn’t rank at the bottom of 19 industrial nations in reading, writing and arithmetic.
We force kids into regimented buildings that architecturally resemble prisons, segregate them by age, bombard them with meaningless busy work, subjugate them with draconian “no tolerance” policies that criminalize childish behavior, intimidate them with school resource officers if they ever get out of line, and act surprised when some of them act out. This begs the question: What is schooling really for? We’re told the main purpose of institutional compulsory schooling is the preparation for economic success, but today’s kids dismiss this simplistic platitude. Countless people became success stories by dropping out of school. Schools cripple potential by artificially extending childhood and reinforcing learned helplessness. Schools teach you how to obey orders. Schools kill creativity. Schools deliberately suppress people’s natural genius. But schools are only designed this way because society hasn’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women.
In 1894 the Supreme Court ruled that a tax on your labor is unconstitutional. When an Income Tax was established two decades later, the Supreme Court again ruled against it, proclaiming it granted “no new powers of taxation.” While millions participate in this “voluntary compliance” system, the very act of filing is an act of testifying against yourself, thereby nullifying the 5th Amendment. There isn’t a clear law that requires an average citizen to pay income taxes, and income taxes are not collected for the sake of running the country. In fact, President Regan’s Grace Commission report concluded: “All individual income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services taxpayers expect from government…100% of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the Federal Debt.” To comprehend this scam, we’re joined by IRS whistle blowers Sherry Peel Jackson, Joe Banister, and John Turner, alongside experienced accountants, lawyers, federal agents and activists.
People wish to learn. From infancy we’re biologically programmed to imitate the skill sets of our parents. But schools remove children from their parents and deprive them of personal experience for the sake of “keeping them safe.” Media stories about a child in peril create the illusion that kids are in danger when they’re not. Sensationalist media hearsay skews our perceptions of risk, and shielding children from danger makes them significantly less capable of dealing with its inevitable occurrence later on. Children in our society are overprotected, and then subjected to institutions that artificially extend childhood far beyond it’s appropriate age. Coddled kids make for miserable adults. Equipping children with tools to handle the real world requires exposing them to opportunities of limited risk, providing the experience necessary to truly flower. The easiest way to turn kids into geniuses by the age of 7 is by granting an abundance of experience, including dangerous experience.
It’s déjà vu all over again. The US military’s habit of invading countries that stop using the dollar guarantees predictable repetitions of history. Iraq’s insistence on dropping the dollar for the Euro led to the WMD excuse for invasion and overthrow of Hussein; Libya’s move toward an African, gold-based Dinar currency led to the US invasion and overthrew Qaddafi. Syria dropped the dollar as their primary currency in 2006, leading to increased military presence there. All these invasions are justified as “humanitarian actions” in response to allegations that consistently lack evidence. In Syria, we’re fed propaganda from the Syrian Civil Defense, aka “The White Helmets.” This media relations front that films staged rescues and won an Oscar for their performance, was formed by former English intelligence officer James Le Mesurier. All of this corroborates General Wesley Clark’s revelation of America’s intention to conquer 7 countries in 5 years, starting in Iraq and ending with Iran.
Nothing has a separate existence or a separate self. Everything we think and do constitutes a reflection of our ever-transforming surroundings, and our surroundings serve as a reflection of our ever-evolving minds. What we call “I” or “you” is a temporary condition caused by the interdependence of everything around us; be it crops to eat, rain to drink, atmosphere to breathe, or stomach microbes to provide an immune system. We wouldn’t exist were we independent from this process. Since we are inevitable expressions of this ongoing metamorphosis, every aspect of “ourselves” is likewise impermanent. From regenerating cells to ideologies shaped through the plot of experience, we’re always transforming into something not yet known to us. So “who” is it that experiences this happening? When we truly understand things as they really are, our perception of an independent “self” disappears, allowing us to let go. We end up realizing that the “self” is nothing but an illusion created by us.
Tan Liu’s new book ‘The Ponzi Factor’ reveals how our stock market is the dictionary definition of a Ponzi scheme – frauds that end with a lot of people getting royally screwed. Most people think buying a stock means investing in a company and getting a small piece of the dividends. But stock prices are not related to the earnings and growth of a company. It is actually money from another investor that moves a stock price, all based purely on a speculative connection. All the money comes from new investors. And if they stop putting that money in, it all collapses. Just like a Ponzi scheme. The SEC defines a Ponzi scheme as an investment scenario where the profits come from other investors who think the profits come from somewhere else. So we have an investment scenario. We have profits that come from other investors. And those investors who are selling it think the money comes from somewhere else. The Stock Market is, by legal definition, a Ponzi scheme.
Unlike Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X did not believe America had a conscience. He had no hope of a sense of ethics awakening within the ownership class. Malcolm saw racial integration as a politically sterile game played by a black middle class willing to sell out as an enabler of a capitalist empire. “The man who tosses worms in the river isn’t necessarily a friend of the fish. All the fish who take him for a friend usually end up in the frying pan.” King was able to achieve a legal victory through the civil rights movement, but failed to bring about economic justice and thwart the inherent militarism driving the imperial war machine. Human beings can be redeemed. Empires cannot. Our refusal to face the truth about empire, our refusal to defy the crimes and atrocities of empire, has brought about the nightmare Malcolm predicted. And a Digital Age experienced by a post-literate society enables the empire to erase its crimes as swiftly as they are committed.
Bhutan measures economic progress with a metric called Gross National Happiness. Because if your economic system isn’t aimed at making everyone happy, then what is the point of participating in it? GNH measures both the human quality of life as well as the health of the ecological systems that we depend on.
When an unprecedented 1% of the Portuguese population was addicted to heroin, the government reversed their Drug War policies. After nearly two decades of blanket decriminalization of all drugs, no one in Portugal wants to go back to the old system. The Portuguese distinguished themselves by subsequently pouring the Drug War dollars into recovery programs.
These are just two examples of Utopian idealism actually succeeding in the real world. Orthodox authorities predictably insist these ideas are nothing but pie in the sky pipe-dreams because they benefit from things remaining the way they are. True freedom, therefore, cannot be given from above. It must be taken from below.
This Independence Day we ask what it is that Americans are at present independent from? We’re a nation intimidated by surveillance, exhausted by austerity, crushed by debt, and taxed to death. We might go crazy if our masters didn’t let us blow off some steam once a year with beer and celebratory barrages of artillery shells, sonic rockets and sparkler bombs. As communities nationwide go alight in celebration of a two-century old anti-British Declaration of War, July’s sparkling festivities provide ideological cover for our modern governments who employ military violence around the world for the sake of profiteering. But the explosions that rock our streets every July fourth aren’t the only way Americans are seduced by war. Hollywood glorifies war by focusing on the heroism of our soldiers. First-person-shooter games desensitize us to violence. We even let military recruiters roam the halls of our high schools.
Legalization benefits consumers, but it has not been good for farmers. Under legalization, growers and dispensary owners are forced to pay exorbitant fees and taxes. The only way for them to keep their heads above water is to take their operations to a huge scale and compete with big corporations. Even under legalization, small-time farmers continue to endure familiar scenes of militarized commandos leaping from combat vehicles to cuff people and chop plants. Police unions, private prisons, alcohol & tobacco companies and the pharmaceutical industry are all threatened by the prospect of decriminalization. The prison business, America’s fastest growing industry, depends on this country maintaining the drug war as well as the false ideologies that justify it, to maximize the number of incarcerated citizens and maximize shareholder profits. The biggest prison population in the world today are a non-violent majority who never actually committed what are defined in the code as “crimes”.