Wednesday, April 30, 2008

CLINTON CALLING FOR SUPPORT OF WHOEVER IS THE CANDIDATE

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Clinton is simply a lunatic. You can't throw the kind of filth she's been throwing and expect support from those you've insulted. Besides, it's not just her filth, it's utterly disgusting stuff like her threatening eighty million souls with incineration.

She hasn't a principle in her body, that is, unless you count insatiable ambition and willingness to do anything to satisfy it as a principle.

Calling for a break on gasoline is a perfect example of a non-policy intended only to get votes from pick-up truck drivers. Americans need to adjust to the new economic realities the same way others are doing. Anything else isn't policy, it's pandering.

I'm convinced that despite her filth, she won't win the nomination.

And even if she could, she's a sure loser. The Republicans are expert at exploiting the kind of background she has.

But what she can do, she's doing, and that's to absolutely spoil this opportunity for the Democrats.

In fact, it is more than an opportunity for the Democrats she's spoiling, it's an opportunity for the world to see a fresh bright face and new start from America.

Obama is the finest American political voice in decades, and she's doing everything she can to silence it. That's not competition, that's destructiveness, just like her threat of mass murder in Iran.

MORE ON REV WRIGHT AND OBAMA AND POLITICIANS MAKING MISTAKES

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

The Wright business is being blown entirely out of proportion, and I believe the reasons for this are neither honest nor wholesome.

In focusing so much attention on this, America, which weeks ago was congratulating itself with the idea that a black man could run and win, now begins to show old, true underlying attitudes.

In this the country resembles someone whose hair dye-job was being praised weeks ago for its freshness but is now the source of ugly gossip as the genuine hair color creeps back in at the roots.

God, if Obama made a mistake here it was a small one.

Just look at the mistakes in Washington. Often it seems nothing else goes on there but mistakes.

Bush and the strategic blunder of the century, wasting lives and resources on a colossal scale?

A Supreme Court which effectively appointed Bush in the first place?

Hillary Clinton living with Bill Clinton for three decades of ethical degradation and embarrassment and shame?

Bill Clinton, a man of considerable talents who to a large extent squandered them and demonstrated countless times a highly doubtful character?

John McCain mocking and attacking the Religious Right and then shortly after crawling for their support?

One could write a book called Washington Mistakes. If the author only briefly cited each error and kept the time-frame to say the last fifty years, the book would be encyclopedic in length.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

MORE REMARKS FROM REV WRIGHT

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I am sorry for any embarrassment caused to Obama, an example of just about all that is good in America.

But Wright is articulate and, more importantly, he is largely correct.

Supposedly, he has the freedom to speak his mind.

The ugly truth is that of all countries enjoying freedom of speech, America is, by a good measure, the least free.

But you are free to call people names.

Social pressure from officials making personal attacks against individual citizens - attacks which are repeated endlessly in the press - is a nasty and effective way to silence people.

Why do Americans tolerate this kind of low-life behavior from a man like Cheney?

It's simply disgusting.

THE FALLACY OF COMPARING OBAMA'S DEALING WITH THE LIKES OF ANN COULTER AND NASTY FOREIGN LEADERS

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOKS IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

"Obama will have to deal with foreign leaders who are far, far worse than Fox News’ hacks, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, or Ann Coulter..."

Wrong.

There are no foreign leaders worse than these people. They spew hate with no intention of communicating anything but hate. Their only measure of success is to increase listeners by being outrageous.

Even the darkest foreign leader has legitimate interests and concerns with which he or she must deal.

It is perfectly possible to have a meaningful conversation or negotiation when someone has such an interest. There are countless examples, from the IRA to Carter’s work with North Korea years ago.

It is not possible to have a meaningful conversation or negotiation with someone whose only object is prominence through hate and ugliness.

And that last clearly includes Hillary now. Her entire objective is to win by discrediting and hating her opponent. How else do explain her absolutely insane threat to murder 80 million people?

Hillary represents blind ambition with no legitimate social purpose other than personal success.

Sadly, too many Americans confuse that condition with being brave and tough. How else do explain the long list of dreadful presidents?

THE FOCUS ON REV WRIGHT AND FURTHER THOUGHTS ON OTHER AMERICAN "MINISTERS"

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOKS IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

A further thought.

Why is it that Wright's words so bother some Americans?

America has so many, many other examples of "ministers" who've done nothing but spew hate and ignorance.

Consider the fried-brain Pat Robertson, who, apart from a host of idiotic remarks, a few years ago called for the assassination of a foreign leader (Chavez).

Why wasn't he branded a terrorist?

Why wasn't he arrested under America's dark anti-terror laws?

Consider the late Jerry Falwell, the Jabba the Hutt of the Religious Right.

Falwell claimed homosexuals caused 9/11.

Falwell said once that the Anti-Christ (reference the Book of Revelations) was alive today, and he took the form of a male Jew.

Falwell sold tapes from the pulpit that suggested the Clintons murdered Vince Foster.

The man was a raving lunatic, but I guess so long as he did not touch the sacred name of America and things that it may have done wrong, he was okay. More than okay, he thrived and got lots of publicity.

Consider the "Rev" Jimmy Swaggert who said from the pulpit that he would kill a homosexual who made a pass at him.

The list is very long, and today includes a "minister" associated with John McCain, who made idiotic remarks getting little publicity.

Then there's a former minister of the Clintons who is on trial for child molestation.

Good God, what a lunatic asylum.

CLINTON'S WEAKNESS AS A CANDIDATE

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOKS IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

"Why am I wrong?"

Hillary is loathed more widely than the writer credits, and this loathing is now spreading into the Left, which has the option to cast a protest vote with Nader.

Also, McCain is going to make a strong appeal to those just left of center. He's already started this with his forgotten-things trip.

His party's Right has always accused him of being a closet Democrat, something I sincerely doubt, but I think he will be able to do a credible job of posing himself as a touch left of center on some issues.

At the same time, Hillary is terribly vulnerable with the background she has. Obama has been reluctant to bring such things up, but the Republicans sure won't, and they have a warehouse full of material to draw on.

Further still, while it is difficult for a man to treat a woman in public the way Hillary treats Obama, after sinking as low as she has, it will be far easier. Anyway, the Republicans are expert at innuendo and using stand-ins, as Hillary should know from the 1990s.

And no matter what some may say, I do believe in American-style campaigns, which are little more than duopoly advertising campaigns, that the unpleasant aspects of Hillary's persona will feature heavily.

She does have a voice that resembles finger-nails scratching a blackboard. She does say some surprisingly absurd things at times. She does make some genuinely goofy faces which have been captured by cameras.

And she has the burden of Bill. Who wants that creature stalking around the corridors of power again? Remember, even nice guy Al Gore blamed Bill Clinton for his 2000 defeat, reportedly in an ugly scene.

Lastly, Mr. Rove’s recent comments on the Democrats do tell us whom the Republicans view as the weaker candidate, and it ain’t Obama.

That is, unless Hillary keeps tossing crap the way she did in Pennsylvania.



New plaque dedicated to Bill Clinton to be dedicated before Bush leaves Oval Office

JOURNALISM AND UPPER CLASS

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY EMILY HILL IN THE GUARDIAN

Emily, I think you've missed the fact that journalism has always been the preserve of the well-off.

I speak in statistical terms, of course, there are exceptions.

But the top newspapers have always hired pretty much people with costly credentials. Graduates of Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, and similar places have always provided the lion's share of bylines at quality broadsheets. They also provide key television reporters and columnists.

I do believe if you check the family backgrounds at such places, you won't find a lot of genuinely humble ones.

The press also values the connections which come with graduating such institutions. Graduates of Oral Roberts U. or the Open University lack these entirely.

Journalism is much like the law in this regard. Not all degrees are equal, and with the tendencies in American higher education over the last half century, being copied earnestly in Britain from what I read, this actually only becomes more true.

Orwell, himself, was a graduate of Eton, not your typical experience. His family wasn't rich, but it was successful, ambitious upper middle-class.

IS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY SELF-DESTRUCTIVE?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOKS IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Yes, it is very true that the Democratic Party is split almost to the point of ceasing to be a true national party.

This is both because America has become a self-satisfied, conservative imperial country and because the Civil Rights Bill of Lyndon Johnson created waves that have not calmed. This last makes the rise of Obama all the more remarkable.

Dear old Bill Clinton exploited this fact of the Democratic Party politically. Imagine a Democrat taking credit for ending traditional public assistance?

Bill did something else, too, that is now intensely at work with his wife. He was extremely cavalier with human beings.

He would appoint someone highly qualified, and then back off as soon as there was some opposition or noise, leaving the appointed person in the public stocks of a lowlife press and Republican Party.

In other cases, he appointed people and, without ever announcing it publicly, effectively reduced their jobs if he thought they were not quite up to the mark for some reason.

Hillary’s basic approach now is to behave ruthlessly and make Obama upset, standoffish, and awkward about her behavior. He is a far more thoughtful and decent-minded person than she, and he is repulsed by such behavior, as am I and many, many others.

Obama has genuinely tried to run a campaign of which he could be proud, a rare thing in American national politics, still pretty much in the Political Stone Age.

But Obama faces a terrible dilemma when confronted by an opponent willing to say close to anything to win. Hillary truly has proven herself an Appalachian throwback, a grinning political predator exactly in the tradition of Richard Nixon.

It is unforgivable and shocking beyond words that she threatened the lives of eighty million people on the morning of the Pennsylvania primary.

And her ad with Osama’s image is in the disgusting tradition of the infamous Willy Horton ad. These are the behaviors of a low-grade psychopath, the kind of individual who has been president for more than seven years.

And there really are bad intentions at work in America’s press covering the election and re-inforcing the impact of her tactics.

There is the endless repetition of the same meaningless anecdotes as though they were defining matters of substance, a kind of idiotic mantra which, like catchy advertising slogans, stick in the minds of many.

Today’s corporate consolidation of news corporations means fewer and fewer sources, and those in the hands of people whose interest and focus is anything but genuine news. It also means cost-cutting and shortcuts. And it means a propensity towards audience-building sensational entertainment rather than hard information.

And, like the phenomenon we see in the primaries with Hillary Clinton’s stooping to the lowest approach, once one major news source takes the low-road, competitors find it awkward to remain above the low tactics, the basic phenomenon which has kept American national politics in the Political Stone Age.

OBAMA AND PRIMARIES AND 24-HOUR NEWS AND FOCUSING ON THE TRIVIAL

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CHARLIE BROOKER IN THE GUARDIAN

Charlie Brooker has it exactly right.

His citing of instances couldn't be more accurate.

There is the endless repetition of the same meaningless anecdotes as though they were defining matters of substance, a kind of idiotic mantra which, like catchy advertising slogans, stick in the minds of many.

But there are more problems with American news sources than the growing 24-hour phenomenon.

Today's corporate consolidation of news corporations means fewer and fewer sources, and those in the hands of people whose interest and focus is anything but genuine news. It also means cost-cutting and shortcuts. And it means a propensity towards audience-building sensational entertainment rather than hard information.

And, like the phenomenon we see in the primaries with Hillary Clinton's stooping to the lowest approach, once one major news source takes the low-road, competitors find it awkward to remain above the low tactics, the basic phenomenon which has kept American national politics in the Political Stone Age.

Networks like CNN have done so many mindless, shabby things in recent years, it is remarkable that anyone still watches it, but then it is also remarkable that so many Americans watch "infomercials."

And there really are bad intentions at work in America's press.

Recall CNN's broadcast of "secret" tapes, supposedly from al Qaeda's caves of Afghanistan, with "experiments" of mass-destruction materials on dogs. Sandals shuffling and dogs dying. Good Lord, Goebbels himself couldn't have done better, and it doesn't matter at all if its all found a fraud later, the emotional impact has been made.

Recall CNN chasing around the poor innocent man, Richard Jewell, accused stupidly and wrongly of setting a bomb. CNN filled the airwaves with idiot material like their reporter standing there watching as the poor man drove off to work without saying a word.

Even a "prestigious," supposedly "liberal" newspaper like New York Times is not above this behavior. They hounded an innocent scientist of Chinese extraction on the basis of FBI rumors over the unproved contention that the American W-88 thermonuclear warhead, its most advanced at the time, had been stolen by China.

The Times of course always supports America's imperial wars at the beginning. Only once they've failed and the public become impatient does the New York Times do the kind of investigative journalism of which it is capable.

American broadcasting and broadsheets typically do almost nothing helpful to the public's understanding of destructive events like Iraq. Indeed, quite the opposite, they typically beat the drum for imperial conquest, as they all did for Iraq (and for Vietnam in 1965), encouraging swelled chests, breast-thumping, and marching bands all to the tune of God Bless America.

HILLARY CLINTON AND PLAYING THE RACE CARD TO SUPERDELEGATES?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY GARY YOUNGE IN THE GUARDIAN

Hillary has enough unethical, low-life tactics to use without resorting to race.

America is 13% black, and blacks vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats, on the order of 80%. And they are not evenly distributed, being concentrated in Northern cities and in the South.

Were Hillary really to do as Gary Younge says, she would start the November race having lost several states.

Her basic approach is to behave ruthlessly and make Obama upset, standoffish, and awkward about her behavior. He is a far more thoughtful and decent-minded person than she, and he is repulsed by such behavior, as am I and many, many others.

Obama has genuinely tried to run a campaign of which he could be proud, a rare thing in American national politics, still pretty much in the Political Stone Age.

But Obama faces a terrible dilemma when confronted by an opponent willing to say close to anything to win. Hillary truly has proven herself an Appalachian throwback, a grinning political predator exactly in the tradition of Richard Nixon.

But although "playing the race card" is one thing a Democrat is not likely to do, I am encouraged that Gary Younge believes otherwise.

If that nasty piece of work, Hillary, manages to win the nomination, I can only wish John McCain, despite his many faults, wins. She has proven herself, in a fairly short period, every bit as loathsome as Bush.

It is unforgivable and shocking beyond words that she threatened the lives of eighty million people on the morning of the Pennsylvania primary. And her ad with Osama’s image is in the disgusting tradition of the infamous Willy Horton ad. These are the behaviors of a low-grade psychopath, the kind of individual who has been president for more than seven years.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

SYRIA AND NORTH KOREA AND ISRAEL AND DICK CHENEY

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY SCOTT RITTER IN THE GUARDIAN

Scott Ritter's piece is right on the mark.

Inch by inch we are all being drawn into a world where the United States, or its proxy Israel, is free to bomb people on mere suspicion and with no legitimate explanation afterward.

Here is a form of police-state activity never foreseen by Orwell: states without dictators behaving like international bullies on a perpetual basis, using rubbish about terrorists the way Stalin used the word "wreckers."

Why? Simply to get what they want under the cover of higher-sounding purpose. Democracies are perfectly capable of nasty behavior, as we've seen many times.

Actually, I suspect this entire mission may have been a black-op, with the US and Israel cooperating, to destroy a harmless facility, later asserting it was a North Korean-assisted nuclear project.

Dick "the madman" Cheney loves this kind of crap. He wants North Korea intimidated to speed up nuclear facility-talks. Israel got to show off to the Arabs what it can do, and, besides, welcomes any opportunity to attack something in Syria. Israel's hatred towards Syria is almost palpable.

Israel never hesitated to say just what it had done in its illegal attack on Iraq's reactor decades ago.

And I just do not think North Korea would do this. The traditional absolute states are the most secretive of all in such matters, just as they are the last to ever harbor terrorists.

GETTING CARTER AND THE HEROIC EFFORTS OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT - FURTHER STILL - AND WORDS ON DARFUR

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY IAN WILLIAMS IN THE GUARDIAN

No defender of Israel should bring up the subject of Darfur.

This is the grand hypocrisy of the last few years.

Were Darfur in fact the genocide that Israel and the US cynically say that it is, who would be in a better position to do something about it than Israel?

No one.

The size of Israel's armed forces - literally a pituitary giant compared to the size of the country's population - and the quality of its armaments - front-line stuff given in a massive annual subsidy from America - and its geographical proximity all argue that Israel should stand for a great principle.

But it does not, not at all.

Why? Because the talk of genocide is pure propaganda. The Israelis aren't going to so much as fray the elbows of their jackets over this.

They know it is a civil war, a nasty one, and they know what they are saying in public is just as false as their talk about Hamas.

GETTING CARTER AND THE HEROIC EFFORTS OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT - FURTHER

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY IAN WILLIAMS IN THE GUARDIAN

RogerINtheUSA wrote:

"Carter's negotiations with Hamas has apparently strengthened them and given them legitimacy, which will probably make a lasting peace more difficult."

Legitimacy? What an uninformed word to use in this context.

Hamas is as legitimate as it it gets. They were elected in an election far cleaner than the one that put Bush into office. Cleaner, too, than Kennedy's election. And cleaner still than the original congressional election of Lyndon Johnson (according to Robert Caro's distinguished biography).

Hamas genuinely represents the views of a great many Palestinians. You cannot have peace unless you take account of them. Only a tyrant spirit would say otherwise.

And for years, Israel secretly subsidized Hamas to provide a conflict with Fatah. Israel is not in the habit of subsidizing organizations that it believes are a genuine threats to it. Israel achieved its desired conflict, only adding to the miseries of the Palestinians.

And now, to squeeze even more juice out of the situation, Israel's government treats Hamas as hideous demons, unfit to breathe the same air.

The people of Israel, as measured in polls, don't even agree with their government. A majority says Israel should negotiate with Hamas.

The dichotomy between the sense of the people and the brutal obtuseness of their government is possible because of the highly fractured party system leaving minority extreme views as decisive in elections. Of course, governments also have a way of effectively ignoring public opinion at times, as Tony Blair did in dragging Britain into the war crime of Iraq.

That ridiculous proposition - not taking account of the other side's views - is pretty much the official (unarticulated in public) policy of Israel. Palestinians are supposed to present themselves on bended knee to beg for whatever little Israel is inclined to give.

Reportedly, in recent talks, Olmert "offered" 65% of the Palestinians’ own West Bank to the pitiful Abbas. That amount of territory is not sufficient to even make a viable state. And one can only imagine the degrading conditions attached to the "offer."

GETTING CARTER AND THE HEROIC EFFORTS OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY IAN WILLIAMS IN THE GUARDIAN

Carter has been nothing less than heroic here.

For trying to be fair and genuinely trying to promote peace, he has been called every name you can think of.

Only today, Israel's UN ambassador called Carter 'a bigot."

Imagine, an ex-president, a man who has worked hard for many charities, a man whose Carter Center has brought understanding to many difficult situations around the world, a man who made the biggest achievement towards peace in the Middle East in half a century, a man loved by tens of millions who love peace, and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

And what's the record of the last two Prime Ministers of Israel? The killing of tens of thousands innocents, the building of a new Berlin Wall, the constant seizure of still more land belonging to others, keeping an entire people in misery, torture, assassination, and illegal arrests in the thousands.

Israeli rhetoric has reached the level of the absurd. More absurd still is the fact that there are people who believe it.

THE KILLER INSTINCT AND HILLARY IN PENNSYLVANIA

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOKS IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Karl Rove’s remarks on Obama today are prima facie evidence of who it actually is that Republicans regard as the greater threat.

His sticking his chubby mug into Democratic affairs can realistically be interpreted no other way.

Hillary would be boiled alive by a ruthless opponent. Her entire adult life is nothing but a set of contradictions, prevarications, and ethically questionable behavior.

Obama truly has tried to take the high road, but Hillary keeps dragging things back down into the mud. She’s not a fighter as in the sense of hero, she’s a thug.

But the Republicans have a storehouse of material to use on her, including reminding everyone of her sleazy husband (remember, straight-arrow Al Gore blamed Clinton for his 2000 defeat).

When the Republicans were through with her, she’d be in tears, for real this time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

GO GIRL!

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY HANNAH STRANGE IN THE TIMES

I just love that "Go Girl!" stuff.

You find it especially in newspapers in the Midwest, the home of baton-twirling, drum majorettes, and flags on everything including underwear.

You'd think the person was yelling to the chief cheerleader for an American hometown football team. Or a woman stock car driver down at the track.

But we're not talking about a cheerleader, and we're not talking about a stock car driver.

We are talking about a person who on the morning of the election talked casually of obliterating Iran - that is, 80 million human souls.

And we are talking about a person who ran a piece-of-crap ad with Osama bin Laden's picture.

If the unpleasant Mormon, Romney, could be criticized in the press, as he was, for the crappy trick of several times saying "Osama" instead of "Obama" in speeches, why would any decent-thinking person support Clinton for this shabby, shabby work?

The woman has proved herself an ethical cipher, but maybe we secretly knew that already, after her thirty years of manipulation and lies hiding and excusing the sleazy exploits of dear old Bill.

All that seems to matter to some is winning. That’s exactly why we have god-awful mass murders like Vietnam and Iraq.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

MORE ON CLINTON IN PENNSYLVANIA

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

In Pennsylvania, the woman has proved herself the ethical equivalent of Richard Nixon, indeed virtually indistinguishable.

The vicious personal quality of her attacks reminds me very much of some of Nixon's early campaigns, suggesting a decent Congresswoman was "soft on communism."

The rancid quality of her manufactured memories of early life in Pennsylvania had precisely the quality of Milhouse talking about Pat's cloth coat.

She is precisely what America does not need. After Pennsylvania, I don't see how she represents the least improvement over the ethical swamp of George Bush.

It does appear that America's political institutions just will not accommodate a thoughtful and decent person to become president.

The irony is, while she is so busy showing how ruthless and ugly she can be, is that she represents a gigantic target for McCain. Her background is packed with scandals, lies, and embarrassments.

I truly believe that Obama could have reduced her to tears had he chosen to do so.

McCain is not going to show the same restraint.

And then there's her sleazy life-long partner, always just over her shoulder.

Who wants Bill back, hanging around the White House and in the headlines again?

The barf-inducing potential of that is beyond calculation. Like a never-ending cheesy soap-opera.

How does America make any progress with a political system like this? It cannot.

The harshest, most strident, most ethically-flexible seem bound to succeed.

The country has had at most a couple of large spirits, really decent men as president since WWII.

To my mind, that is a shameful record for such a vast and rich land.

But the media and institutions and prejudices are all tuned to producing imperial leaders, the same kind of people who brought us Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other lesser nasty colonial wars.

BLAIR'S FIRST OFFICIAL PORTRAIT DISPLAYED

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE GUARDIAN

I like the portrait, from a purely aesthetic point of view. It is a good piece of work.

But it is too "big" for the ethical and intellectual pygmy that is Blair.

The smirky, slightly shifty quality that dominates Blair's public character is better captured here:



TIME TO UNHITCH CANADA FROM SUCH CLOSE AMERICAN TIES?

POSTED SET OF RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY MARCUS GEE IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

"Polls show that a striking number of us view our giant neighbour as an irresponsible, even dangerous, superpower..." These are the most accurate words of Marcus Gee's piece.

Marcus Gee here offers little here that warrants introducing him as an authority on world affairs. This is a dollop of thin, cold neo-con porridge.

Just as any financial advisor would advise diversifying your investment portfolio, so a trading nation must sensibly for the long-term future diversify its trading partners.

Gee doesn't even seem to be aware that Canada's close relationship with the U.S. is a comparatively new development, since WWII, not some ancient, sacred institution. And during that very time period, America and Canada have undergone great changes, in the American case, not for the better.

Iraq was indisputably a massive war crime, as is the savagery of Israel in Lebanon and Gaza which the U.S. supports and subsidizes. So are Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the CIA’s Torture Gulag.

It isn't even an issue of whether the U.S. will decline relatively, which it certainly will do with the growth of a whole new set of powers in the world, it is a question of securing growing markets for our products and of securing markets which are doing new things with new demands for products. Also markets that don’t come entailed with a de facto loyalty oath to aggressive, unbalanced policies.

I must say that anyone who thinks China is going to be less than an economic colossus just has no understanding. China would also love to invest here, as in the tars sands. India, too, is now rapidly growing. The E.U. is an immensely important market, especially in light of its many advanced green programs. Russia is reviving and will be a giant. Even Brazil is a coming economic power.

Ties to the US also squander resources. We are in Afghanistan solely because it was judged “we owe one to the Pentagon.” The cost there is immense and not even accounted for, and it is a delusional project going nowhere.

People like Gee would have had us in the hellhole Iraq too.

A final word of warning: two developing situations are going to make the US quite hostile to our interests in some decades. One is the melting of the North. They will ignore, and already have ignored, our authority. Even worse perhaps, is the frantic pace of suburbanization in America’s Southwest, lawns and pools and three-bathroom houses in a desert as desertification increases. There simply is no water there to support this long-term. Guess where they’ll look?



_________________________________

Some pretty silly stuff showing up here.

First, no thinking person is talking about "cutting ties" with the U.S.

It is a reduction in our relative exposure to both their nasty policies and economy that is a desired and sensible goal.

Second, again no thinking person is talking about the U.S. disappearing into nothingness. That won't happen.

There are many reasons - I've written a book - why a relative decline, a fairly serious one, in the U.S. position in the world is virtually inevitable.

Canada needs to diversify our risks and markets better.

The neo-con types, of course, think the U.S. is the indispensable nation, but that is sentimental nonsense and reflects the desire of those who like to see U.S. muscle used against the interests of others.

The world keeps changing, and it is now changing at a faster pace than ever. Our policies and trading practices must change with it.

Again, the two most dangerous things to Canada on the horizon are the American Southwest's profligate thirst for water and the American government's determination to use our northern waters as they wish, this last they have made clear many times, even their official maps reflect it.

We need other allies and other markets.

A post-WWII image of our relationships is just uninformed and dangerous.
_______________________________

Cultural overspill or not, Canada has the resources and authorities to look to its own interests.

We don't want to become a closed society - this is actually one of the unpleasant trends underway in the U.S. where security walls, attacks on human rights, and hostility to foreigners are all on the rise.

We want to be open, but open to all the world.

At the drop of a hat, the U.S. can turn around and make new demands, just as they did with softwood, pork, cattle, and dozens of things.

A growing industrial economy like China is the perfect place to diversify our markets for natural resources.

When the U.S. is almost your only customer, you have a huge problem as new arbitrary demands are made. The U.S. behaves exactly as Wal-Mart does to its suppliers when it is capable of putting them out of business if they don't lower their prices still more.

As the world becomes more complex and diversified, the American ability to behave as the world's muscle-bound bully will diminish. Maybe it will one day become a decent, civilized place.

Regardless of America's destiny, ours does not have to be so closely tied to it.

CLINTON'S LAST CHANCE IN PENNSYLVANIA?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

Even a skeptic is tempted to pray that Hillary loses.

She’s the ugly pink bunny that just doesn’t stop beating its drum, boring the hell out of you.

Good Lord, I’m tired of hearing her flat, brittle voice telling us what an experienced leader she is. This person who experience consists of sometimes donning an apron to bake cookies in the White House and fending off the brickbats of those who find her obnoxious and defending her ultra-sleazy husband.

One wonders if the poor people of Pennsylvania are really that pathetic that they’ll vote for claims of visiting the state as a kid to go to a cottage with no modern conveniences. She who was raised in a very rich Chicago suburb. It’s enough to make you puke.

Of course, her hollow claims miss the point entirely. People all over the world desperately need a fresh voice in that hellhole called Washington, and she’s about as fresh as Richard Nixon.

HAS HILLARY CLINTON LEFT HER PARTY?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY ALI ETERAZ IN THE GUARDIAN

Hillary Clinton reminds me a great deal of Richard Nixon.

He was also bright, hardworking, and he was obsessed with being in high office.

He was also awkward, prone to exaggerations and lies, and not particularly pleasant to hear. He shared with Hillary a way of speaking that is genuinely annoying to those who love the language.

Stories in his speeches, especially when he was in tight spots, like the toe-scrunching one about his wife's cloth coat (Chequers), remind me very much of Hillary's excruciatingly bad tales, like the one about the Pennsylvania cottage with no conveniences or her dad teaching her hunting.

Nixon started his early political career by calling his opponents names - famously the decent woman he first defeated for Congress, suggesting she was soft on communism. Hillary has said shameful things about Obama, often picking on trivial points just to have something nasty to say.

There was the same tiresome predictability about Nixon and his views that we see with Hillary. There would be no surprises from Hillary because we already know her, and she is not interesting.

Nixon, of course, with Watergate, proved capable of almost anything to hold to power. I would expect the same with Hillary. Look at the immense practice she has had lying and covering for her sleazy husband. Indeed, look at her decades-long tolerance of him.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

BENEDICT AND INALIENABLE RIGHTS FOR THE UNBORN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Here's a guy who runs around dressed in silks and lace, like something from the fifteenth century.

He guides his church’s policies also in the ways of the fifteenth century.

But on this one subject, the unborn, he is telling us about "rights," a concept pretty much created in the eighteenth century.

Speaking to America, he also uses the term "inalienable" from the country’s founding documents in the late eighteenth century.

I doubt Benedict knows how silly he sounds. His words on the unborn having inalienable rights are genuinely confused and absurd.

Now, the rights of women only made serious progress in the twentieth century. Can you imagine how many centuries it will take Benedict's church to begin recognizing those?





Papal sartorial splendor

SPINNING AL QAEDA?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY STEPHEN TANKEL IN THE GUARDIAN

My first thought on reading the headline was that, yes, indeed, our governments "spin" al Qaeda everyday.

But the intent of this piece of intellectual fluff is quite different.

The unvarnished truth is we don't even know that there even is such an organization.

And if there is one, we don't know that it is anything more than a set of angry, disconnected postings on the Internet.

Meanwhile, the world is full of genuine deadly threats and catastrophes, but countless billions must be spent on a fear-provoking urban myth.

REFLECTIONS ON HILLARY CLINTON'S PENNSYLVANIA VICTORY

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

"Obama is all talk , no substance" Ridiculous comment.

There was substance in Hillary's ugly, almost obscene performance?

All the woman has demonstrated is that harsh name-calling works well in American politics.

But really, we already knew that. That is the way you get the kind of leaders who bring you Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Chile.

And this nasty piece of work gave us the promise of obliterating Iran on election morning. The day before she ran an obnoxious ad featuring Osama bin Laden.

America, you deserve what you get.
____________________________

"Gerry Dunnhaupt from Toronto, Canada writes: Bitter, racist, religious, gun-toting, unemployed Whites of Pennsylvania voted for Hillary -- what a surprise!"

The absolute truth.

Have you ever driven through rural Pennsylvania?

I did several times, and it can be a frightening place.

I recall a group of four or five camoulflage-suited goons standing around, guffawing, in the lot of an Esso I pulled into one evening. I could see, as I pulled up to the pumps, their guns sticking up in the back of a pick-up truck.

I could tell something unusual was going on, but I didn't want to stare. Raised in a rough part of the U.S. myself, I knew you don't look too closely around these types without inviting, "What ya lookin' at?" or "Ya starin' at me?"

As I filled my tank, I realized what they were doing.

They were kicking a live animal - something large, perhaps a groundhog - fiercely back and forth like a football on the pavement, all to great laughs and yells of things like, "Hey, that there's cruel!" I could hear its body skidding on the pavement.

I was too intimidated to speak, although I spoke to the attendant who virtually ignored me, and there were at least four of them, and there were the guns.

I have other Pennsylvania stories, but that one captures exactly what Hillary appealed to.

Good God.

CLINTON'S VICTORY REPRESENTS GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY SIMON JENKINS IN THE GUARDIAN

I don't think so.

"Grassroots" used as an adjective in America is rather deceptive, almost Orwellian.

What Hillary's victory truly represents is a victory for the "get outta my way" side of American life.

It is a vote reflecting national media which cannot even report important stories accurately, for example Iraq.

It is a vote reflecting horribly poor public education in great portions of America.

It is a vote reflecting the Inperial Roman establishment in Washington and all the fat, crinkly, privileged faces in the American Senate, a place where money not only buys a seat but often keeps you there for life.

It is a vote reflecting all the harsh realities of American working-class life today: poor job prospects, no health care, anger on the streets, and war.

It does appear it will take another century for America to become a place with sound democratic values and a decent place to live.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

OBAMA AND THE DANGER OF BEING REGARDED AS A SNOB IN THE PRIMARIES

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MICHAEL CROWLEY IN THE GUARDIAN

Yes, this has always been a danger.

America is, surprisingly to those who do not know it well, a highly anti-intellectual society.

For all its achievements in the arts and science in the last century, intellectuals are not generally admired. Intellectuals are never heroes the way business-success stories are.

In fact, American education has undergone a horribly destructive revolution over the last half century or so, whereby almost anyone, regardless of ability or interest, can attend some form of college or university and get some kind of diploma. All for a good price, provided either by choking loans or by military service (the U.S.'s biggest inducement for joining up).

The other route is athletic scholarships, a shameful system that essentially "pays" athletic young men with tuition instead of money despite their lack academic interest or ability. Many of these young men play a year or two and never graduate. Others are kept playing by passing them despite their poor academic performance, thus continuously lowering grade standards.

For many of the second-rate colleges, and some of the first-rate ones, athletic teams are gigantic money-raising schemes, bringing former graduates back again and again to be heavily solicited for donations. The whole nasty system is made possible by young men who play for tuition rather than pay.

For these and other reasons, many of these degrees are meaningless, only granting to a family the right to claim their "kid is in college." Virtual illiterates are graduated from some institutions and from others people with the learning of high school fifty years ago have diplomas.

The actual class system - very powerful in America but not bragged about - is maintained quietly by having tests like the SAT or ACT to get into quality universities, tests which cannot be passed by people with the poor education supplied in many parts of the public school system.

There are many aspects to the anti-intellectual attitudes, including the dumbing-down of public broadcasting, which now has reached the level of certified silliness.

Hillary understands this, as the visceral almost psychopathic politician she is, and has made sure the accusation "she thinks her shit don't stink" is not applied to her.

AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES "IN BED" WITH CORPORATION?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A POSTER TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

Andrew E, your stats are meaningless and do not support the conclusion you are hoping people will draw.

Other than Ralph Nader, there is no such thing as an American presidential candidate not "in bed" with corporations.

The truth is that today America is nothing but corporations, the federal government only providing rules for their operations and military muscle to assist them abroad.

None of these candidates is going to greatly change America, that really is not possible without an effort beyond any human being or set of human beings.

But at least Obama is fresh and graceful and intelligent.

Clinton has demonstrated clearly to all why the Right has always loathed her - she is truly an ugly, same-old, same-old politician.

McCain is an unbalanced incompetent. By the way, he was the only candidate deeply involved in a huge, disgraceful corporate scandal with the savings and loan collapse of years ago. He was directly and closely associated with guys who literally stole billions.

Clinton's husband - God, who wants to see that sleaze around Washington again? - is known as the biggest fundraiser in the party. Why do you think that is? He actually used to sell nights at the White House for big contributions.

The cards are stacked against serious change in America: by an 18th century Constitution with many anti-democratic provisions; by a largely unquestioning educational establishment; by everyone's wish to get rich; and, importantly, by the pervasive role of the American Civic Religion.

Anyone who even tried serious change would be met by the same reaction as a rebel to the Borgia clan in early Italy. The situation really is that absolute.

The Kennedy brothers actually thought they had the force of personality and wealth and determination to change American institutions. Look where they ended up.

Friday, April 18, 2008

HAVE ELECTION WORDS BECOME TRIP-WIRES IN AMERICA?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY LUCY CARRIGAN IN THE GUARDIAN

Lucy Carrigan, this is a fatuous piece.

Nothing has changed in what you can discuss in American national politics since I was a boy in Eisenhower's era.

The only real difference today is that for the first time in decades, we have a candidate in Obama who is genuinely thoughtful and reflective. My God, how revolutionary.

These are qualities with which Americans are uncomfortable because the nation has an immensely strong anti-intellectual and pro-corporate bias.

That's why almost all political discourse, at least at the national level is, as it always has been, on the "where's your flag pin?" or "you're a damned pinko" or "love it or leave it" level.

The American Civic Religion is always at the forefront which entails everything from supporting "the boyz" while they savage civilians in another part of the world to using the kind of trailer park slop Clinton has in Pennsylvania.

It will likely take another century for America to become a fully functional democracy and, indeed, a civilized place.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

THE SO-CALLED CHEATING SCANDAL AT TORONTO'S RYERSON UNIVERSITY AND WHAT IT REALLY MEANS

RESPONSE TO A DISCUSION ON CBC'S RADIO ONE METRO MORNING SHOW

Two mornings running, after still other earlier instances, Metro Morning has discussed on air the so-called cheating scandal at Ryerson.

What is irritating about these discussions is how the actual essence of the whole matter has consistently been missed or ignored, leaving listeners with no increased understanding.

Indeed, your focus on computers and the Internet has only further fed the computer Luddites out there in radioland.

What we actually have in the Ryerson “scandal” is a case of incompetence or laziness posing as ethical concern.

A professor has clearly demonstrated his or her laziness or incompetence in this matter, which has nothing whatever to do with computers or the Internet.

Any teacher who gives exactly the same assignment to a group of students and tells them it will count towards their final grade is solely and entirely the source of the problem.

Fifty years ago, given the same circumstances, the same group would have been meeting in the student lounge over coffee to discuss the assignment. The computer changes nothing here.

The professor could have given each student an individualized assignment or, alternatively, handled the particular material as a quiz in class, perhaps even open-book.

But he/she chose the lazy way and then blamed the ethics of others for his /her poor performance.

Actually, with the high level this matter went to at Ryerson, it raises genuine concerns about the quality of the administration at this nouveau university.

Recall the awarding of an honorary degree to a well-known "ethicist" from McGill - an award I thought inappropriate in the first place.

After complaints, the highest level of that institution's administration embarrassed itself and the award’s recipient by having a public debate over the award's appropriateness. This was nothing but the purest incompetence, just as was the so-called cheating scandal.

THE ABC NETWORK DEBATE OF DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES IN PENNSYLVANIA

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

The real story here is the embarrassingly poor quality of ABC's effort.

Why would you ask a dumb question about a man's lack of an American Flag pin on national television?

There were a number of questions asked of this lamentable quality.

One might think Rupert Murdoch himself wrote some of the questions (Sorry, Times, that might touch a sore spot).

It all reminds me of why American is in such a terrible state. The major news media have never covered the war in Iraq or other Bush failures with any degree of toughness and honesty.

My God, here is a man that represents much of what is best in America, a figure of grace and intelligence, and an idiot talking head asks him about his not wearing an American Flag pin!

Guys wearing their American Flag pins gave the world Vietnam, Chile, Iraq, and a dozen filthy little colonial wars.

HOW CAN WE PREVENT KIDS FROM JOINING GANGS?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Look for the troubled ones early.

The syndrome of problems leading to this lifestyle is well known and therefore not difficult to identify, if you are trying.

Early pregnancy, absent fathers, school failure and drop-out, lack of family economic success, and a propensity to violence and drugs.

It is not any one of these that matters so much as the group of them taken together. The syndrome is virtually a guarantee of life going in the direction of gangs, in search of prestige and some degree of economic success through drug-dealing.

Such kids must feel someone takes an interest in them, and they often need to be offered alternatives to satisfy their needs for recognition and some form of success.

These would include good sports programs, art, music, and useful trades-training for kids who often do not have high academic potential.

THE MANY "GATE" EXPRESSIONS IN AMERICAN POLITICS

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY HANNAH STRANGE IN THE TIMES

Americans have a great fondness for short-hand expressions.

It may reflect impatience, or mental laziness, or it may reflect a certain kind of sentimentality. Perhaps all of them.

For example, the Eisenhower Expressway in Chicago is typically called "the Ike," and there are scores of such examples.

In some states, the official road signs on highways actually feature abbreviations, and they are abbreviations that may not even be meaningful to newcomers at high speeds.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

HILLARY CLINTON'S YAPPING ABOUT OBAMA'S THOUGHTFUL REMARKS

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY HANNAH STRANGE IN THE TIMES

Well, here is the sad and truly bitter story of American politics.

A thoughtful candidate reflects on an important social phenomenon, and the truth is he is largely correct, despite the distaste of many babyishly-sensitive Americans.

A thoughtless candidate comes along - telling us how she is Annie Oakley with her gun in the front pew of her church or how she gulps beer after work - and condemns the thoughtful remarks.

She sounds like one of the throwbacks who are fond of yelling "love it or leave it."

Hillary's remarks in general are on a level with the obtuse bumper-sticker I used to see in the U.S.: "My Drop-out Can Beat Up Your Honor Student!"

Please tell me how you ever get progress this way? It's on the level of chimpanzees or packs of wild dogs.

It's simply an insane basis for voting for the leader of a great nation.

And the entire world knows what America needs more than anything is a new set of thoughtful and reflective leaders.

And, Hillary, that sure does not include you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

ROOSEVELT'S PARALYSIS KNOWN TO THE PUBLIC? FURTHER TO THE KENNEDY-TOOK-DRUGS DISCUSSION

RESPONSE TO A POSTER TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES

Stein, you are just wrong.

Roosevelt's condition was carefully guarded from public scrutiny, so much so that there are echoes today.

In finally building the Roosevelt memorial in Washington some years back, it became a huge issue whether the sculpture of Roosevelt should show any indication of his wheel chair.

The sculptor designed it to show something but not feature it. Many voices wanted the chair completely hidden.

I am glad those in favor of showing something finally won out. Roosevelt was a genuinely heroic figure in his fight against paralysis, and it is far more moving to see it.

Of course, some small number of people knew he was crippled. How could they not catch the odd glimpse of him being wheeled around or carried?

But it was always hidden in the press and in official government literature. And without the press picking something like that up, it may as well not exist.

You should understand that in our own day. How many realities are kept out of the press, even though limited numbers of individuals may know about them?

Kennedy’s diseases were only one small example.

The fourth 9/11 plane over Pennsylvania was certainly shot down – witnesses and physical evidence are very powerful – yet all you ever see in the press or films is nonsense about “Let’s roll!”

The ridiculous assertion that Oswald alone shot Kennedy with a crappy 1941 Italian bolt-action rifle has been repeated countless times, yet anyone who takes the trouble to go through the evidence knows it is nonsense.

American soldiers’ horrific acts of murder and bestiality in Iraq have been kept as quiet as possible, even though there are many who know about them. The worst pictures of Abu Ghraib, showing the rape of children and murder, were suppressed by the Senate and the Pentagon.

And what about the three thousand Afghan prisoners who disappeared, shortly after Rumsfeld made his Nazi-like statement in 2001 that the prisoners should be executed or walled away forever? So far as we know, thanks to film-maker Jamie Doran, they were driven out on the desert in vans to be suffocated while American soldiers and CIA agents watched. Do you believe that even one-tenth of one percent of Americans know this?

OBAMA'S "BITTER" REMARK TWISTED BY HILLARY

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

Hillary, only someone with nothing worth saying would focus on these words of Obama's.

You, Hillary, who claims to have ducked sniper fire in Bosnia.

You, Hillary, who now brags of being a regular gun-toting Annie Oakley in the front pew of your church.

You, Hillary, who have spent your entire adult life telling lies and making excuses for your truly sleazy husband.

You, Hillary, who claims to have played a significant role in bringing peace to Ireland.

You, Hillary, who engaged in numerous shabby little corner-cutting schemes to make a fast buck.

You, Hillary, who swings from playing Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry to don an apron to bake cookies.

You, Hillary, who attempts to bring life into your campaign by using your kid on the campaign trail, the same kid you used to shelter from politics.

You, Hillary, seem anymore to represent everything that is wrong with America.

What a wretched politician.

LINCOLN'S DEPRESSION

RESPONSE TO A POSTER TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES

Lincoln's depression is well documented. It has been glossed over or minimized by American historians, always ready to keep America's historical figures in freshly-washed robes of white.

Truly critical looks at his symptoms actually point to something more serious than mere conventional depression.

There are at least two candidates for his condition: Marfan Syndrome or, something worse, Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2b.

By the way, his wife Mary almost certainly suffered from a moderate case of schizophrenia. Her symptoms are classic, and her strange behaviors often made Lincoln miserable and embarrassed.

That's why her son kept her institutionalized the last part of her life. Of course, the popular interpretation was that she was so miserable after husband's terrible death.

WHY THE IDEA OF DISCUSSING CLASS IN AMERICAN POLITICS IS IMPOSSIBLE

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY GARY YOUNGE IN THE GUARDIAN

This is an utterly unrealistic idea.

Anyone who knows American society well, knows that the word "class" is considered a dirty word, and at many levels of the society.

It is used much like "communist," a word which can keep you from even getting a visa to the United States.

It has been chanted into disgrace the way "liberal" has, and liberal surely is one of the finest political words in English with a glorious history, but in the U.S. it has become an epithet.

Of course, the Orwellian alteration of these words is not based on reality, because the United States has certainly become one of the most class-ridden societies on earth, certainly amongst advanced societies.

No, everyone in America has learned to consider him- or herself as middle-class or actively aspiring to become so, and they all live, or want to live, a kind of Ozzie-and-Harriet cozy suburban life.

That is the mythology, and a strongly held one, that covers the actual social philosophy of the United States.

Social Darwinism is the official, if unspoken, social philosophy of America.

ONTARIO'S PREMIER MCGUINTY IN CHINA

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

There's another way to look at this.

If only for a short while, McGuinty will afflict another people, rasping out promise after promise which no one even asked him for.

Perhaps he'll run government-paid ads on Chinese television while he's there, ones with an 800-number to hear a recorded message of Dalton promising still more.

The Chinese, a clever people, will experience the full flavor of democratic government in Ontario.

I wouldn't be surprised if his trip sets back the coming of democracy to China by at least a decade.

THE CULTURE OF DEAFNESS NOT AS DISEASE OR DISABILITY BUT AS SIMPLY A DIFFERENCE

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES

This culture of "deafness is not a disease or disability but simply a difference" is hugely present in the United States.

It seems a truly perverse way of looking at the world.

I suppose, in part, it derives from the fact that the deaf have their own well-developed language, and where there is a language, there is a culture.

The other root of its origin, I suspect, is the American view that democratic attitudes must be put to every human institution. It has become true in public education, higher education, and many other institutions where once authority or expertise had some role, and it has been anything but a unmixed blessing.

The irony of course is that these democratic biases seem to be applied everywhere but the place they truly belong, politics, America's electoral system having many serious democratic deficits.

Culture or not, reasonable people cannot accept that being deaf is not a fairly substantial human disability.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

IRAQ ARCHEOLOGICAL PLUNDER

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN AND POSTER IN THE TIMES

Well, mohsen, that is likely the most naive comment I've come across in years.

All you have to do is look at the chaos and disgrace in New Orleans to see how unlikely your notion is.

There are many places in the United States itself that would shock the unfamiliar visitor. Giant country and urban junkyards and rotting places and toxic dumps - these things do not bother the sensibilities of large numbers of Americans.

How much worse was this violent war (Shock and Awe being the modern American equivalent of Blitzkrieg) combined with the fact that Bush deliberately minimized the number of troops, I'm sure hoping for minimal casualties and political impact at home.

What happened undoubtedly involved a combination of organized looters, vandals, and mobs desperate for some treasure.

In any case, United States troops simply stood by in many cases nearby during these events.

With the murder of a million souls this disgusting loss is a disgraceful blot forever on the U.S.



IRAQ AND VIETNAM AND TRUTH

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

The first victim of every war is truth.

All the more so in the kind of nasty imperial wars represented by Vietnam and Iraq, wars that had not the least reasonable excuse or worthy purpose.

There is an entire major industry in Washington involved in manufacturing and suppressing news.

Just a few examples: the worst photos of Abu Ghraib, which involved the rape of children and murder were suppressed; the scores of pictures of children, seen by others, mutilated by American cluster bombs were never published or broadcast by major American news outlets; the disappearance of thousands of Afghan prisoners, murdered by suffocation in vans in the desert, was never investigated by American news outlets.

America's major news sources have only become more timid over the years in bringing the truth of war into American homes.

I think this in part has to do with the consolidation of news sources into media empires. These empires are all run by extremely conservative, establishment-oriented people. The saying that you only enjoy freedom of the press when you own one is very true.

These empires also, in the interests of maximizing profits, squeeze the resources of news-gathering as a cost-center to their operations.

Whatever the reasons, Americans get a very lop-sided view of their imperial wars. The fact that much of the world sees it differently is in part owing to these developments.

I feel fairly confident that only the same kind of minority of Americans still supporting the weak-minded Bush in the wake of all his destructive work would support imperial wars like Vietnam or Iraq were they aware of what those wars really look like close-up.

No, instead we get crap like the New York Times – supposedly the most liberal of major American newspapers – calling the professional military thugs in Iraq by the sentimental WWII epithet “GIs.”

Saturday, April 12, 2008

BILL CLINTON RENEWS PUBLIC'S AWARENESS OF HILLARY UNDER-FIRE STORY IN BOSNIA

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY HANNAH STRANGE IN THE TIMES

I do think there are parallels here with Senator "Darth Vader" Dole, unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate.

Dole made such serious errors and stupidly ill-considered remarks while his wife sought the nomination later that many felt he was deliberately sabotaging her.

Reportedly, his wife felt that way too.

I'm sure there is an element of this with Bill Clinton. After all, despite his superficial charm, his lifetime behavior shows a pretty cavalier attitude towards women.

A NEW BOOK TELLS OF KENNEDY TAKING DRUGS

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES

There have been stories for years about Kennedy taking non-prescription drugs. He had several painful conditions requiring something.

And if you ever saw him in person, as I did very briefly, you couldn't help but be impressed by his glowing look of health and vigor. I guess drugs can do that, at least for a while.

Of course, whatever Kennedy hid from the public, it was pretty small compared to FDR's being elected four times without the public's even knowing he was crippled and condemned to a wheelchair. Hidden leg braces plus someone next to him holding his arm gave the illusion he could stand.

Lincoln was a man with a very serious form of depression, something which would disqualify him today, as Senator Eagleton was disqualified to run for Vice President in 1972 because of his depression treatment. There was also the case of Senator Muskie being disqualified for crying in public.

Andrew Jackson was mentally unbalanced, engaging a number of times in caning opponents and pistol duels. Some of his policies are just what you might expect from a madman.

There were a number of alcoholic presidents, including Nixon in his decline. Bush is of course a "dry drunk" as you are never healed from alcoholism, and he was a hard drinker. He also is widely known to have used cocaine, right up into the time his father was in the White House.

It appears there is no consistency in these matters. Some have been caught and disqualified in the public mind, others have successfully hidden their conditions.

CHINA SHOULD NEGOTIATE WITH THE DALAI LAMA?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY IAN WILLIAMS IN THE GUARDIAN

Dalai Lama by his own assertion is a religious leader, not a political one.

And I think he is largely right.

The effort to force the government of China to negotiate with a religious leader about internal matters in China is ridiculous.

I'm sure someone like the CIA got this rolling, and how easy it is to get people sentimental and without knowledge about Tibet to support the vapid notion.

You've just joined the silly parade, Ian Williams.

CHINA AND THE TORCH RELAY AND NATIONALISM

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY ISABEL HILTON IN THE GUARDIAN

Isabel, this just does not make the grade of thoughtful comment on this matter.

The real conclusion we should draw is that the costly torch relay is a silly marketing mechanism, one highly vulnerable to any bunch of angry people who want to make a splash.

China has advanced more than anyone could even imagine in the last quarter century.

Only people with little historical perspective could expect more so quickly. Like the morons who think they are going to remake a 14th century society in Afghanistan in a decade.

There is simply no doubt that China will one day have a form of democracy. That comes with economic advancement and the growth of a large middle class. It's simply the way things evolve once strong economic growth is in place.

What has happened in Tibet is misunderstood in the West, and I think it clear Chinese authorities behaved with considerable caution under the circumstances.

China is at war with no one.

Contrast the position of the United States. Good God, they've slaughtered a million people in Iraq, and Britain helped in the dirty work.

Look at the rest of Britain's record too. The idiotic, pointless war with Argentina, a costly bloody adventure achieving nothing of any meaning.

Look at America. War after war, invasion after invasion, government after government toppled. People shot by the score in its own streets many times.

Please, in history perspective is not just important, it is everything.

Friday, April 11, 2008

DARFUR AND THE HOLOCAUST

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY BELA ROSENTHAL IN THE GUARDIAN

Ms. Rosenthal, how can you write this?

Yes, the Holocaust was horrible, and, yes, Darfur is horrible, but they have nothing in common.

That is, unless you believe American and Israeli propaganda that Darfur is genocide.

Those two garrison states simply do not like the Muslim government of the country, so they toss around the term "genocide."

This is utterly dishonest. Especially when you consider that neither of them is prepared to risk anything over the situation. Israel has one of the world’s top half dozen armies, equipped as few others with American supplied equipment. Why hasn’t it acted on its own statements?

Darfur is a nasty civil war, and that is all. But that is enough. Can you name a civil war in which thousands upon thousands of innocents were not destroyed?

And how people in either the United States or Israel can make pompous statements on ethics about Darfur is beyond me.

Israel is at war with every neighbor and treats the people of Gaza and its own Bedouin citizens like unwanted trash. Its efforts in Southern Lebanon were a war crime by any standard. The United States has slaughtered the best part of a million and caused three million to leave their native land, a true human catastrophe, all for nothing. Just as it murdered three million souls in Vietnam for nothing.

It isn’t just dishonest to deliberately confuse civil war with genocide, it debases the coinage of words. “Genocide” has become one of the most hollow accusations of the last fifteen years, and some of the very people throwing it around refuse to even accept the reality of a genuine genocide like that of the Turks against the Armenians, a horror Hitler was well aware of and considered that if the world could forget that it would forget his bestiality too.

ON ISRAEL'S TREATMENT OF THE BEDOUIN WHO ARE ISRAELI CITIZENS

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY SETH FREEDMAN IN THE GUARDIAN

Thanks for your honest observations on this shameful situation.

I have read elsewhere that Israel has practiced using herbicides on Bedouin crops in the Negev, something much like America's godawful use of Agent Orange in Vietnam, something causing deformed babies to this day.

I don't know the precise truth of the matter, but Israel's other behaviors leave one with little reason to doubt.

A good news reader must always read between the lines and interpolate between half-truths, and this is particularly true for any state - Israel or the United States - that wages constant war.

It is difficult to understand Israel's behavior - the whole set of them towards both Arab neighbors and citizens, not just this one situation - in any other light than as ethnic-cleansing in slow motion.

REPORT THAT MCGUINTY'S LIBERALS OUTSPENT THE TWO OPPOSITION PARTIES IN LAST PROVINCIAL ELECTION

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

This completely underestimates the quantity of McGuinty spending.

There was a tidal wave of official government agency ads, strategically placed ahead of the campaign, a vast and shameful use of public funds for insider party benefit.

We had an idiotic 800-number for school bullying and another for drug safety review, both utterly wasteful ideas.

You can't solve bullying with 800-numbers to Bangalore India or Nova Scotia or anywhere else. And drug safety review is the everyday responsibility of family doctors and pharmacists.

We had ads about safe driving from the LCBO and we had absolutely meaningless, feel-good ads about kids getting off a school bus.

Plus more ads still, a disgraceful example of abuse of public trust that for some reason never caught the attention of the press. Of course, I'm sure individual members of the press were each hopeful for their share of the goodies.

McGuinty was able to do this owing to his fixed-date election ploy. Superficially, fixed-date elections sound fairer, in fact what they represent is the opportunity for the party in power to do just what McGuinty did.

McGuinty gave us a massive operation, planned in advance, of wasteful spending at public expense. The man has no shame and shares some of the dishonest personality traits of Richard Nixon. He has set a terrible precedent for our Ontario democracy.

THE SALE OF TORONTO'S ACE BAKERY TO AN INVESTMENT FIRM

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

I am sorry to read this.

When I was living away from Toronto, in a place that had its own artisan bread maker, a visiting friend praised Ace Bread, and I was rather doubtful about a company with a name like that making great bread.

The name reminded me of the old Warner Brothers' cartoons with Acme kits.

But I was wrong. They not only make a fine baguette, one of my definitive tests of great bread, but they have several other wonderful products.

I just hope the investment company keeps its role to supplying capital and not baking ideas.

IRAN'S SUPPOSED LONG-RANGE MISSILE-LAUNCHING BASE

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TIMES

Oh, please, more anti-Iranian propaganda.

Iran has no reason on earth to "reach Europe" with missiles.

Do you ever take note of the fact that Israel in fact does have such missiles with nuclear warheads, and that some of its leaders have suggested in the past that if Israel goes down so will much of Europe? Those are facts, not speculative interpretations of photos.

Iran has attacked no one. It has in fact been the victim of American manipulations for decades, including America's encouragement of Hussein's attack in an eight-year war that proportionately was as terrible for Iran as WWII.

Today it is surrounded by nuclear powers. Its neighbor is occupied by 160,000 American troops. The seas near it have two or three American nuclear-armed carrier task forces threatening it.

And remember another American ship shot down an Iranian airliner years ago. No meaningful apology was ever even offered.