Thursday, July 31, 2008



The gun issue in America is complex and bizarre.

First, it is clear, if you read the Bill of Rights, that the "right to bear arms" was tied to the concept of a "well ordered militia."

The concept of the militia was imported from Britain, where going back at least to Elizabeth Gloriana's time.

Militias were, compared to large standing armies, a money-saving measure, something Elizabeth relished.

The Colonists also were tight with a dime (after all, the rebelled in part to avoid paying a just tax).

Added to that impulse was the fear of standing armies.

Well, militias ceased being – except for the private ones of weird survivalists and Aryan Nation types back in the hills - a long time ago. America keeps a massive armed forces, spending more than half a trillion dollars a year on it.

So the "right" has lost its original justification entirely.

Now many Right Wing defenders of gun ownership in America always frame the issue around the idea of being able to oppose a tyranny.

In view of the armed forces of the United States - Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, and National Guards - which could put down any rebellion by citizens in America in days, this truly is a naïve and fatuous argument.

The mental image of a bunch of belly-over-the-belt, thinning-haired guys in hunting camouflage taking to the streets to oppose tyranny is ridiculous.

That the argument is constantly put forward in America shows the juvenile level of thinking on the matter.

I might add, as a cynical observation, that if they weren't going to rebel against the lies and abuse and war crimes of Bush, they clearly never would.

The real, underlying reason Americans remain so married to their guns today also has historical origins.

But in this case, the historical origin is slavery.

Those who've read about the South in the 18th and early 19th century will know there was a constant fear of slave revolt, paranoid in its dimensions (perhaps the result of guilty consciences?), despite there only ever being one fairly small revolt ever.

Jefferson – the great blubberer about liberty and lifelong holder of more than 200 slaves - supported Napoleon in trying to put down the successful slave revolt in Haiti, a very bloody business. That same Southern fear of slaves and revolts was at work in his support of tyranny over liberty.

Today, Americans remain afraid of black crime to a degree British people perhaps can hardly comprehend.

Guns are felt to be one answer. As are gated communities. And as are blundering, fuel-wasting vehicles like SUVs – deliberately designed to suggest military armored cars and to instill confidence in suburbanites for their safety on the highway as they drive from one safe area to another, through dark and feared territories.

Of course, none of this makes any sense. Black criminals almost always prey on black victims. And the number of times a white middle-class person has actually been saved by a gun is infinitesimal.

But the paranoid psychology continues. There is almost a sense of some Americans seeing themselves as desperate Israel settlers carrying around automatic weapons to stop any nasty Palestinians.

When I was a boy, despite the Constitutional issue, guns had to be licensed in any city and it was illegal to carry them hidden, except for special permitted circumstances. This has all gone further downhill, as now many jurisdictions allow people to carry guns hidden under their clothes or in their purse or in the glove box of their car.

So when traveling, watch who you bump into or get into an argument with. It could be your last.

Guns stolen from legal owners, a common event, likely account for more crimes than legal guns can ever hope to prevent.

There’s no sorting this all out rationally. It will simply take another hundred years for America to become a fully civilized society.

The right to bear arms: Is it nuclear capable?



These claims about experience and inexperience are always laughable.

We had Hillary Clinton, supposedly so greatly experienced, shouting at the close of the Pennsylvania campaign about obliterating a nation of 70 million.

What is McCain's experience? He made his name by getting shot down over Hanoi. What was he doing there? Bombing civilians. Some experience.

McCain came home to the woman who loyally waited for him, his former wife, and divorced her while having an affair with Cindy, his current wife, and a very wealthy woman. His first wife had been horribly disfigured in an automobile accident, and he up and left her for greener pastures.

Then there was McCain's wonderful experience with the Savings and Loan disaster in the U.S. He had a close association with some of its biggest crooks, and he never suffered a bit for it.

And there's the remarkable experience he had when his new wife, Cindy, was caught stealing drugs from the charity for which she volunteered. Cindy was a closet drug addict, but was apparently not ready to spend any of her own fortune on the habit. She stole large quantities of drugs from the charity instead.

She never paid any real penalty for this activity whereas you or I would do hard time in a federal prison. There was Sen. McCain using every ounce of his influence to get her off lightly.

So much for experience.

I'll take intelligence and thoughtfulness any day.


Some pretty silly stuff here.

Calling Obama a rock star is pathetic. This highly intelligent man - he taught a very demanding law course at the University of Chicago, one of the world's most distinguished universities - has never behaved with the artificial manners rock stars use to lure their fans.

He is a naturally attractive figure. Holding that against him speaks for itself.

This shallow way of describing Obama is, by the way, the latest tactic of McCain in his campaign, which says a lot about his effective intelligence.

As for people having put or not put their "butts on the line," well, that's pretty laughable.

First, to those who've read some history, the fact is Kennedy was almost charged by the Navy with incompetence and dereliction of duty using his PT boat.

The same happened over his early notorious affair with a Russian spy. The FBI was after him. Only influence saved him, the kind of influence Bush has had his butt saved with time and time again.

With McCain you get a butt that has spent a lot of time in highly unethical places.

But anyone who votes for someone because of where the candidate happens to have put his or her butt deserves just what he gets.

Ridiculous and childish.

Obama showed a toughness and purpose in the Democratic primary that is still not fully appreciated. He beat a very tough lady with great name-recognition. She under-estimated him and proved a lesser general.

So will McCain. His relatively low effective intelligence will achieve that perfectly.

Experienced at what? Getting angry?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008



Clive Crook is absolutely correct, but he seems to imply that things have been different with American national politics, and that strikes me as rather naive.

American national politics have always been about personality, since the days when George Washington plied voters (then only the elite voters of the Electoral College mattered) with liquor, and they have only steadily gone downhill since.

It is now completely marketing and advertising and manipulated perceptions.

Marketing, America's one authentic intellectual contribution to the world, dominates thinking there completely.

In products, services, politics and even religion, you will find not just its influence but its dominance as a way of thinking and operating.

The duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats behaves exactly the way we see Coke and Pepsi or McDonald's and Burger King behaving.

Neither party stands for anything consistently other than the desire to maximize its election success.

The Republicans, for example, rather than a true conservative party have been a party of big spending and lowering taxes (for some), thus becoming the party of massive economic irresponsibility and huge debts.

The Republicans also, rather than the true conservative ideal of non-interference in private lives, have been the party of Christian hucksters trying to tell everyone what to do, the party of the paranoid ready to spy on everyone in every possible way, and the party of unethical business practices.

The dominance of marketing and advertising is why we have the dominance of money in American politics, something with which in the past McCain himself displayed considerable concern. America on the national level is today a de facto plutocracy. Big contributors get access and influence. Ordinary people are only marketing data points and the occasional subject of photo-ops.

Also, there is a consensus amongst America’s powerful on what I might call the really big issues. For example, we really do not see the Democrats – half a century ago portrayed as the party of the working man and woman – standing up against deficits which put a huge future burden on ordinary Americans. We do not see them standing up as a party against ugly colonial wars like Iraq to which overwhelmingly the sons and daughters of ordinary Americans are sent. We do not see them standing up against torture and abuse in the (false) name of security. And we do not see them standing up against laws which twist and distort every aspect of the Constitution protecting ordinary people against the abuse of the privileged.

So the combination and inter-workings of manipulative politics, money to pay for the manipulation, and the interests of the powerful who supply money for the manipulation make American democracy and national politics a fairly hollow set of institutions.

Added to this is the corporate structure of the country. Most people having good jobs have them with large corporations. Have you ever seen a democratic corporation? Corporations, with minor variations, operate much the way military organizations do.

Effectively, the main economic structure of America is an anti-democratic institution, one both with leverage over employees (and foreign readers cannot appreciate the full impact of this which includes a family’s health care insurance, corporate and government employed Americans being pretty much the only ones with decent insurance) and with the access and resources to largely have its way.

In the end, at least at this time, it perhaps doesn’t really matter that the political body politic is so warped, because the consensus of powerful people in America will keep the nation headed on the same course it has been on for decades. The America voter is faced not so much with a meaningful choice of policy directions as a choice of the person who will represent them collectively as both head of state and head of government.

And the truth is that even where there are domestic issues with some choice possible, so few politicians keep their promises or are able to keep their promises, that voting for an issue in America is a pretty hollow exercise. The best the voters really get is to choose between two individuals for personal characteristics which seem more agreeable.

Final note to one poster, the Pentagon and the defense industry plus the intelligence monstrosity make the greatest socialist entity in the world, one utterly without civilian and human-rights values, one with no competition, no democratic values, and a dangerous one. But American conservatives always think that is just fine. It’s the schools and social programs that are evil ands inefficient. Childish nonsense.



It's called making hay while the sun shines.

It makes perfect sense and is a return to the past.

Many years ago, high school graduation was a big deal. Many left school early for industrial jobs, knowing full well, graduate or not, that is all they would likely qualify for anyway.

The ideal of universal graduation is a bit of a fantasy since it is always based on the notion that our schools have something to give everyone. The truth is they don't.

In the past, too, when high school graduation was a big deal, those who graduated did so with either the academic equivalent of today's watered-down BAs or with superb secretarial or trades skills.

For the significant portion of any population with no academic inclination, what do today's public schools in Canada offer? Almost nothing. Good training in trades and skills is long gone for the most part, having been sacrificed on the alter of every parent's saying "my kid's goin' to college."

Even former polytechnic schools and community colleges are contaminated with this fantasy. Some are becoming second-rate universities, some wish to become universities, and many are simply not offering the hard-nosed skill training for which they were originally created.

It all represents an inflation, a devaluing of the currency of education, despite the seeming great variety of educational opportunities.

And where there are real opportunities to make money with their limited skills young people are voting with their feet.

Sunday, July 27, 2008



Bennett Ramberg quite clearly ignores the elephant in the room.


Israel since the 1960s has twisted every rule, broken every agreement, likely assassinated a number of people, and engaged in theft and espionage to achieve nuclear-power status.

Israel employs the implicit threat of these weapons - and sophisticated delivery systems - time and time again to get its way in the Middle East.

Israel even engaged in highly illicit proliferation when it helped apartheid South Africa to achieve nuclear-power status, the weapons being removed by the United States with the change in government.

The great powers allowed all of this to happen, even assisting in some cases.

How can they turn around and pretend such self-righteousness over others? Whether North Korea or Pakistan or Iran?

The existence of Israel's weapons is one of the main impulses causing others to seek the weapons.

Who would want to forever be under the shadow of a state like Israel, one that has shown half a century of human-rights abuse, aggressive war against all of its neighbors, and the regular laying down of ultimatums to everyone for a thousand miles around.

We'd have a better Middle East under a period of MAD, just as we have a better Europe today.

But Israel and its apologists do not want that. They want the continued hegemony of Israel over a vast set of lands.



Rex Murphy,

I've always enjoyed you as host of Cross Country Check-up. You treat almost all callers with courtesy and decency.

But in writing columns - I never read them before they were "unlocked" - I realize you truly are something of a Jekyll and Hyde character. This piece is silly blather: wordy, pointless, and stained with envy.

Obama is not responsible for the immense response he generates in people, nor does he display the least indication of hubris in his reactions. The man is genuinely gifted: intelligent, graceful, thoughtful.

He achieved the remarkable feat of defeating a woman who had name-recognition and connections second only to George Bush, an accomplishment still not fully appreciated.

After 8 years of the most incompetent man ever to hold the office of President, a man whose every utterance causes millions to scrunch-up their toes in intellectual pain, the world is eager for a man of this quality to assume power.

When I compare Obama to McCain, the first adjectives that come to mind are "fresh" versus "tired." After that, there's "bright" versus "mediocre." "Polished" versus "beat up." "Informed" versus "uninformed."

I'm sure he will win by a surprisingly large margin.

My God, he strode across Europe like statesman, impressing all who saw him. All McCain's sad bunch could do was put out garbage about photo-ops and shows.

Clearly, you belong to their whining, unimpressive gang.


"I don't recall JFK or FDR, the most popular presidents since Washington, being aw shucks shrinking violets."

Yes, indeed.

Read Harry Truman on Roosevelt. The man, likely the most gifted leader the U.S. ever had, was an ego-maniac.

Putting oneself forward to lead a great state, or any state, is always in part a matter of strong ego.

Indeed, in some cases, it goes beyond inflated ego into narcissism and even to a low-grade psychopathy.

Some of Kennedy's behavior, and Lyndon Johnson's, suggests the last condition. So, definitely, does our charming Harper's, for that matter.

The job of voters is not to be distracted by small issues like ego - so long as it remains in the range of the sane - but to judge the quality and character of a candidate.

He or she will act as the nation's representative. In America, this involves the unfortunate double role of head of government and head of state.

Even many issues are not that important. Politicians often ignore their promises or fail in efforts to implement them.

Look at McGuinty's shabby record of promises in Ontario. Look at Clinton's failure to implement almost anything worthwhile.

Friday, July 25, 2008



There are some fine phrases, but I am disappointed overall.

Obama, sadly, felt the need to emphasize his American identity and his love of country.

What else could he be but American? He comes as an American candidate. He sounds like an American. He talks from an American perspective. He didn’t need this weak, saccharine-flavored emphasis.

As far as the love of country, hasn't the world had enough of American jingoism?

It has been nothing but a source of pain and injury to others, death and destruction on a rather massive scale from the holocaust in Vietnam to the destruction of Iraq.

And there is something painfully embarrassing about the need to tell crowds you love your country. It really reminds me of the urges of Fundamentalist Christians to declare their love of the Lord.

That Puritan strain seems to drench, almost like cheap cologne, much of America’s communications, from info-mercials for mops to policy speeches abroad.

Do other foreign leaders come to America and make featured speeches about their love of Britain or France or China?

At least he spared us a team of baton-twirling girls in red, white, and blue sequined panties.

Obama's line about finding the future for the children was ghastly stuff. Where do you hide a future?


On an issue of substance, more troops to Afghanistan, Ms Merkel has already told him no.

Europeans for the most part understand the futility of this American crusade.

And I do think it inevitable that Obama disappoint Europeans, although there will never be the intense antipathy George Bush invites with every utterance.

The Americanism stuff in Berlin only suggests how difficult, almost impossible, it is to be truly different at the top of American politics.

There is a large group of very wealthy and powerful people whose views drive American policy. They have interests in keeping a conservative state at home and an aggressive imperial force abroad.

Presidents come and go, and anyone abroad who thinks they have the power to greatly shift the emphasis of America simply does not understand the country.



Sorry, but there is no more hopeless expression in human affairs than, "We must remember," no matter what the subject.

People have a built-in propensity to forget the painful. It is a psychological-health mechanism.

Americans have already forgotten their holocaust of Vietnam - except for thinning-haired, big-bellied veterans leaving teddy bears at the memorial in Washington.

I say they've forgotten because they've repeated the idiocy in Iraq, achieving absolutely nothing just as the 3 million deaths in Vietnam achieved nothing.

The Armenian Holocaust is almost forgotten, except by Armenians who have intense personal interest.

The horrors of the Belgian Congo, a million dead, are virtually forgotten.

Stalin's ghastly terror is largely forgotten. He is rather a hero to many Russians.

Russia's unbelievably terrible struggle to beat Hitler - 27 million killed and some of the biggest battles in human history - isn't even known outside Russia for the most part. Americans actually think they won the war in Europe, a sheer fantasy.

America never really tries to remember slavery. There isn't so much as a monument in Washington to that great shame, and there has never been reparations for all that misery and plunder.

Mao is responsible for as many as 70 million deaths, according to recent biographers, yet there is his face on all denominations of currency in China.

Getting worked up about remembering is pretty much a waste of human energy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008



There are many aspects of this relationship you have missed, including some quite dark ones.

Perhaps the most important is America's reluctance to go to war against Germany.

It was, in the end, Hitler who declared war on America.

Not only was America reluctant to go to war against Germany, but forms of fascism were very common in America during that period.

The American Bund, looking for all the world like Brownshirts, was a huge organization and held a gigantic rally in New York City.

Many wealthy Americans had close business relationships with the Nazis. Texaco traded fuel right up into war. IBM assisted in record keeping systems. Disney used to send special copies of his new cartoons to Mussolini, who was a great fan.

Henry Ford's photo hung over Hitler's desk at his chancellery. Hitler admired Ford's ideas on race and race improvement, which were quite revolting.

Indeed, before Hitler hit his full stride, the biggest program of eugenics in the world was in America. Tens of thousands - typically people with low IQs but sometimes other "undesirable" types - were ordered involuntarily sterilized under the oppressive laws in America.

Few Americans know it, but the way the Pledge of Allegiance (itself a questionable thing in a supposedly free society) was given, right up until about 1940, was by stepping one foot forward and extending the right arm up, just like the Nazi salute.

By the way, your reference to America’s victory over Germany is quite inaccurate, though commonly believed in America.

It was Russia, at the cost of 27 million lives, that rolled over the Nazis. They fought the greatest single battle in all of human history, Stalingrad. They fought the greatest tank battle ever seen, Kursk. And they endured horrors like the siege of Leningrad where the dead were piled like cord wood.

America bombed and bombed – killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians - but according to no less an authority than Albert Speer, Germany kept its armaments production going well to the last days. And, as we all know, even the death camps went unscathed.

When it looked like the Russians would roll right over Europe, America joined the battle in a serious way, but Germany was effectively already defeated. America’s great Battle of the Bulge from that period, was rather a squib of a battle compared to something as titanic as Stalingrad.

America’s total losses in WWII were roughly one-half of one percent of the more than 50 million souls who perished.



Yes, but there is nothing unique about the circumstances of Muslim women trapped in oppressive families.

Women of orthodox Judaism not only have no right to divorce abusive husbands (although the high-handed husbands may readily divorce their wives) but they will lose their children if they don't comply with the authority of husband and rabbi. They are also under obligation for a certain appearance.

Hindu women can be ordered to marry someone in the twenty-first century. Hindu women who do not meet family expectations are not infrequently murdered, being burned alive.

Catholic women throughout South America and in other places must put up with domineering husbands, must bear all the children required, and have few economic rights.

In animistic Africa, husbands and other relatives raping female children is so common there are homes keeping the offspring who are considered as evil influences back in their villages. It just does not get more degrading than this.

Yes, in all these cases, a woman is technically able to leave her family and to leave her faith, but that is a wrenching change not one in a thousand is up to.

It is truly tiresome to read of the shortcomings of Muslims - just another aspect of the wave of Islamophobia going through the Westerrn world. It is all conservative, tradition-bound religions - all of them - that are abusive to women and have little regard for their rights.

Anyone may see in films of Muslim countries women in all stages of modernism. No head gear at all. Simple head scarves, really little different to the common babushka of the 1940s in the West. And entire bourqas, actually rather rare through the entire Muslim world.

I look at old snapshots of 1950's Chicago, where I grew up, and a prominent feature of the cityscape was nuns in full habit, some of them ridiculously awkward and cumbersome. Just 50 years ago.

Monday, July 21, 2008



As one whose job for years involved making (economic) forecasts, I can truly testify it is a humbling enterprise.

However, humans seem built psychologically to crave them nevertheless.

I do think the Greeks had the definitive story on this, as on so many things.

Cassandra was given the gift to tell the future accurately, accompanied by the curse that no one would believe her.

After two victories by the most incompetent and emotionally repellant president in America’s history, it is difficult to offer any rational thought on the functioning of American politics.

There have been several polls showing Obama with a significant lead, on the order of eight points, but there are also polls showing more or less a tie.

My gut feeling tells me Obama is going to win by a surprisingly large margin.
He is an attractive and highly articulate candidate. John McCain, much less so.

I think the words that instantly come to mind in making a comparison are “fresh” versus “tired.”

Obama beat an opponent who had great name-recognition, someone every American knows over the last fifteen years. That remains a stunning achievement.

John McCain has a number of serious weaknesses, chief among them a truly ugly temper. I can’t see him getting through the difficult months ahead without a couple of big blow-ups.

The economy is full of threatening signals, and there may be more yet, and the man in the White House now has a deservedly low approval rating.

The one really big unknown is Israel’s possible action against Iran. I believe Bush and Co. have quietly resigned themselves to not bombing Iran, but Israel may, stretching its resources to the limit, be able to carry off what it threatens daily.

If they decide to do so foolish a thing, it would likely come before Bush is gone.

The fall-out, from even a failed attempt could be immense. Of course, instantly, oil prices will skyrocket. And at least one strike back with Iranian missiles seems a certainty, being an entirely legitimate response.

Would American voters then look to the nasty old military man ready to spend a hundred years in Iraq - a war that was largely about Israel’s situation - or turn to the thoughtful intelligence of Obame?

It has the potential for being a real turning point in America’s relationship with Israel if Israel insists on dragging America into another war.

Thursday, July 17, 2008



“Finish the job”?

What “job” would that be exactly?

The purpose of this invasion has never been defined, beyond vague, and quite ridiculous, blubbering about democracy and terrorism.

We all know it was instigated through a long and tortured series of nasty lies and manipulative behavior.

We also have the fact that in the vernacular, “finish the job,” often means killing someone or something off.

Is that what these bright lights mean?

They haven’t seen to the dispatching of enough souls? The creation of enough mayhem? The crippling of enough children?

What segment of the Iraqi population still needs killing off?

Since the invasion was a war crime, plain and simple, you really have to wonder about such language.

The supposed government of Iraq wants a timetable for your departure. Does that count for anything?

The head of the largest Shia group wants you out, period. Does that count for anything?



Obama's right, of course.

The American Right has a large number of truly unpleasant people.

Just think of their conscienceless behavior around the poor Cuban boy Elian, intimidating him and insulting the boy's father and country.

Or their ceaseless assault on Hillary Clinton in the White House.

Tom Delay on Clinton's trip to Africa.

Phil Gramm on almost anything.

The late hateful Jesse Helms on military personnel
reacting to President Clinton.

The wonderful late Jerry Falwell on gays.

Pat Robertson on why natural disasters happen.

Oh, there is a huge list that could be made.

Spewing hatred is part of the essence of America's ugly Right.

And then there is the irony that whenever someone prominent in conservative circles is shown to have questionable ethics - a not infrequent event - it's perfectly okay.

It is simply a matter of public record that Cindy McCain stole drugs for her own use - she was a closet drug addict - from the charitable organization for which she worked.

She paid no price for this behavior which would land you or me in federal prison. And her "straight talk" husband assisted in getting her off easy.

Then we have Cindy's very public behavior with regard to McCain's first wife, the woman who waited for him all those years while he was prisoner. She was disfigured in an ugly car accident, and McCain left her to marry Cindy. Very admirable behavior.

But that's all just fine.

What is unforgivable is ever to be honest and sensitive and say you were disappointed in your country, as Michelle has done.



Charlie Brooker's shabby approach to discrediting the idea of conspiracies looks to extremes of human behavior - severe obsessive-compulsive personalities being no more common than schizophrenics or manic-depressives - to ridicule and discredit beliefs held by millions of healthy-minded observers.

Cheap-thought writing like Mr. Brooker's tries to exploit the fact that there are people who are absolutely fixated with the idea of conspiracy, obsessive-compulsive types who have somehow become bound to the idea of conspiracy as explaining almost everything.

It’s just as if he took the paranoid thoughts of people who believe they have been taken over by aliens to ridicule the perfectly valid idea that there are likely other living things somewhere in the immensity of the cosmos.

Actually it is worse than that because the existence of other life is a probability. The existence of conspiracy is a fact.

Conspiracies are as much a part of history as any other human activity you care to name. Often we don’t learn the full story for a long time, but even in my lifetime, there are many publicly-known conspiracies.

It is historical fact that the C.I.A. conspired with the American mafia and some vicious Cuban exiles to assassinate Castro. There were many attempts, some of them more bizarre-sounding than anything in fiction.

The C.I.A. also maintained and trained and equipped a secret private army of Cuban exiles in Florida whose job was to terrorize Cuba, an operation costing tens of millions that made bin Laden’s camp in the mountains look like a boy scout operation. Some of these secret, government-paid thugs regularly raced over to Cuba and machine-gunned Soviet ships in port, others planted bombs in Havana hotels and, in at least one case, an airliner.

Richard Nixon started a secret group called The Plumbers in the basement of the White House whose job was to do break-ins and black-bag jobs against Nixon’s opponents. Among other deeds, they broke into Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office to steal his records.

Ronald Reagan also had a secret group in the White House carrying out completely illegal activities, for example, secretly trading American missiles to Iran for funds to give the Contras.

Israel attacked the then-sophisticated spy ship, the U.S.S. Liberty, during its 1967 war, spending two full hours strafing and bombing and torpedoing the well-marked ship, Israeli reconnaissance pilots even having made eye contact with crew members on deck before the attack. Later, Israel just said sorry, it was a mistake, a patently false explanation. The likely (unrevealed) cause: to draw the U.S. into its war.

Israel secretly assisted the apartheid South African government in developing atomic weapons in the 1970s. This help was in return for secure sources of certain strategic materials and, likely, assistance in carrying out a secret test explosion in the Indian Ocean. The weapons were secretly removed by American authorities with the fall of the apartheid government.

An American corporation, ITT, secretly supplied Richard Nixon’a agents with a $400,000 payment towards the costs of overthrowing the government of Chile, then the most important source of copper in the world. The government was overthrown, the elected President murdered, and a ruthless general took over, killing 15,000 people.

This list includes only a fraction of the genuine, known conspiracies over recent decades.

There are many issues around the official story of 9/11, too many to go into here, but without believing anything out of the ordinary, it is nothing but honest to say there are many unexplained matters, and then to ask, why?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008



We are only there to please the Pentagon.

Ottawa, having turned the US down on Missile Defense and on Iraq, felt obliged to join the circus in Afghanistan. The exact words were: "We owe one to the Pentagon."

Of course, when the Liberals agreed, they likely had in mind a more traditional peacekeeping role, much like the other members of NATO who have put restrictions on their troops.

The U.S. went there for vengeance. There is no other explanation. All the stuff about the plight of women – something which never bothered the U.S. before, and which still does not in many parts of the world as in India – is propaganda, the best kind, of course, based on truth, but propaganda nevertheless because it was not the reason for American efforts.

Once there, having used the thugs of the Northern Alliance – many no better than the Taleban towards women or anything else - for a cheap quick “victory,” it clearly did not know what to do. A new cast of thugs became provincial governors and the U.S. bombed anything that moved, killing thousands of innocents. It set up a central government which governs to this day almost nothing.

America dragged in NATO, as it has done before, to give a plausible international character to things. As well, it hoped others to assume some cost for its crusade.

What so many do not understand is that Afghanistan is not even a country as we normally understand it. It is a collection of tribes, hard-scrabble people living in mountains or deserts. Its culture is lost in the 14th century, and it is incredibly poor.

Nothing has been achieved in Afghanistan of lasting value.

Of course, some of the people there like having us, and why not with all that money and goodies being spread around by troops?

No one with any knowledge believes you can change the workings of an ancient society in a few years or even decades.

Talk about country re-building is just foolish nonsense from the mouths of well-paid Washington consultants.

Yes, Germany and Japan were “re-built” after WWII, but what people miss was that these had been advanced societies already. They had human capital – lots of educated people with advanced qualifications and entrepreneurs and scientists – upon which to build. The need was largely for bricks and mortar and some spur to effort.

This human capital simply does not exist in Afghanistan. Nor will it until there are many generations of economic growth and development.

You can't even change an advanced society's customs in a few years. Look at our consumer habits vis-a-vis global warming.

Saying you can remodel Afghanistan is the literal equivalent of saying you could step into 15th century Spain and turn around a society of nunneries, cloisters, burning heretics, and deporting Arabs and Jews.

Absolutely ridiculous.

You can never do enough for America's insane paranoia. Just look at the police state measures underway down there.

Again, Britain and others only went in because they literally feared America's launching atomic weapons on Afghanistan at the time. We have leaks that tell us members of the British government believed that use of atomic weapons was imminent.

It was insane from the beginning. Observant witnesses realized America didn't know what to do once it got there – other than kill lots of people - and they still don't.



I think you've got it quite wrong here, Clive Crook.

The New Yorker is famous for its humor, and it is a humor not to everyone's taste.

It is stylish and sophisticated, sometimes bordering on a bit vague, almost ethereal.

But this cartoon does not fit that pattern at all.

It is, if anything, a bit like a political version of what one might expect from Mad Magazine, over the top, poking you right in the eye, and rather teenagerish in tone.

The fact that it does not fit the pattern should tell us something.

The New Yorker cover is definitely making a statement, thinly disguised as humor.

And I believe Obama's campaign is right to object. The cartoon is very much on the level of 1860's newspaper cartoons in America portraying Lincoln as an obscene ape. It throws into one document every cheap shot taken at Obama during the primaries, including Romney’s unpleasant trick of repeatedly referring to Obama as Osama.

I know some very intelligent people work for The New Yorker, so awkward things like this do not happen by mistake.

Just imagine a cartoon of Bush in a Nazi uniform.

A cartoon of that nature would actually have far more historical basis - both in regard to Bush’s own actions at home and abroad and to the behavior of his rotten grandfather who traded with the Nazis - but I think it fair to say that there would be a firestorm over it.

The problem with this cartoon is that it superficially represents a satire on Obama’s name-callers, but it really is exploiting the opportunity for other purposes, a version of the old adage about having your cake and eating it too.

I suspect, but of course do not know, that the New Yorker is appealing to the prejudices of a sizeable segment of its large Jewish readership in New York.

It is a pity, but there is definitely a prejudice running through that community concerning Obama and Israel. And, of course, something of which British readers will not be aware, there is an old and traditional enmity between large parts of the black and Jewish communities in the U.S., quite nasty at times.

Those concerned about Obama in this regard would likely rather have candidates who shout about incinerating a nation.

I do believe Hillary’s near insane remark during the primaries about incinerating Iran was aimed at this community and its financial backing when her campaign was running on empty. There really is no other explanation for her bizarre outburst.

This is all dangerous and nasty stuff.

I also find it objectionable to drag the candidate's wife into scorn the way this cartoon does. As one lamentable commentator, Oliver Kamm, wrote, "...where [Michelle Obama} stands politically [is a] matter of public interest..."

This uninformed statement was justified on the basis of the vicious assaults made on Mrs. Clinton during her husband's presidency. The brutal stupidity of that speaks for itself.

Friday, July 11, 2008



"...cognitive dissonance - the way we change facts in our mind until they fit the theory."

I'm not sure you've defined cognitive dissonance correctly, Daniel.

More accurately, it is simply the anxiety people feel when holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously.

One extension of the concept, but not the concept itself, is that anxiety leads some sufferers to avoid information that increases dissonance. The argument for this extension of the basic concept is that sufferers exposed to information which increases their sense of dissonance will dismiss it.

The expression has become a favorite contemporary one, rather faddish like “deconstruction,” in second-rate social science dissertations and pop literature, giving a high gloss to undistinguished thinking.

The basic concept is actually nothing new. It really is a restatement, more than sixty years later, of Freud’s profound discovery of human ambivalence.

The extension of the basic concept is a highly questionable proposition. As Freud showed, our mental lives are simply filled with such stuff. It is the human condition.

The example you offer by Oliver Kamm seems only to confirm my skepticism about the extension. People like the reporter in the example very often form their impressions of guilt or innocence on the basis of impressions the accused makes on them. We all know that a really good detective works this way, from hunches, as we say, and this process often leads to piecing together a convincing case. Every good trial lawyer understands this and works on the jury’s psychological vulnerabilities.

The reporter sounds a simple soul, likely the victim of obsessive-compulsive behaviors, the foundation for all addictions and quixotic quests. Saying anything more is unwarranted by the facts. Giving that “anything more” a fancy name is just silly.

As I wrote before, Oliver Kamm is a distinctly unexciting addition to the paper.

Now, if you really want to put on display Oliver Kamm’s thinking, why not give readers his lamentable column on Bush’s having made the world a safer place?

It was, quite simply, pathetic. He is little more than a propagandist in the camp of the Neocons, not to be taken seriously.



The Islamic Threat is the creation of American Neo-cons.

That fact alone should serve to convince any thoughtful person that it is utter nonsense.

But if you are unconvinced, here are a few facts to give some real perspective.

The American annual death rate is roughly today 8.27 per 1000 population. With a population of about 300 million people, roughly 2 1/2 million Americans will die this year.

The top causes of death, according to recent historical statistics, will be approximately as follows:

Tobacco 435,000
Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity 365,000
Alcohol 85,000
Microbial Agents 75,000
Toxic Agents 55,000
Motor Vehicle Crashes 26,347
Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs 32,000
Suicide 30,622
Incidents Involving Firearms 29,000
Homicide 20,308
Sexual Behaviors 20,000

There will be dozens killed by such insignificant events as bicycle accidents. The lingering effects of asbestos will take about 10,000. Sheer medical incompetence will kill many thousands.

What is the expected outcome from terror, of any kind? Zero.

What was the outcome from terror last year? Zero.

Going all the way back to 2001, what was the number owing to terror? Less than 3,000, a totally insignificant fraction of American deaths in that year.

Yet that one over-dramatized event catapulted the United States into an insane and meaningless War on Terror. No one even knows just how many hundreds of billions of dollars will be wasted in total, enough at any rate to help destabilize the American economy.

At the same time, the United States has invaded and occupied two countries, and it regularly threatens two more, Iran and Pakistan. It has murdered over half a million just in Iraq and maimed countless thousands, all while destroying the most advanced economy in the Arab world, one which would have soon reached Western modernity.

It started the human-rights disgraces of Guantanano, Abu Ghraib, and the CIA’s Torture Gulag. It passed horribly repressive laws within the United States.

All for what? Because 19 men, all dead in the act, were responsible for 9/11.

The irony is that the men were Saudis, yet no harm has come to Saudi Arabia. Not only no harm to Saudi Arabia, but Bush and Cheney saw to that members of the Saudi Royal Family living in the U.S. were all safely and secretly shipped home.

Not only that, but the brutal injustices of Israel have received encouragement and support as never before. Invade Lebanon and kill 1,500 civilians? No problem. Drop a million cluster-bomb bomblets to cripple and kill for years to come? No problem. Lay siege to Gaza because you don’t like its government? No problem. Kill more than 400 people in Gaza while you do this? No problem.

And the war goes on, a war against, not an army or a regime, but against method and or a set of beliefs. It is a War against Sanity.



Wouldn't it be the right thing to do for the advanced countries to move quickly on these matters, thus creating a ready supply of technology with lower mass-production prices?

These would then be ready for the emerging countries to buy without their committing more limited resources to development.

Bush has always been against meaningful action. Canada's 30%-prime minister, Harper, is just a drone-like follower.

I'm not totally convinced myself that human activity is generating warming, but moving towards better technologies is itself worthwhile.

Just one example of many. Were we all using compact fluorescent bulbs, the need for new central power plants would be greatly reduced.

The mass production and gradual improvement of solar cells might eliminate the need altogether.

Similar benefits from improved storage batteries, low-resistance transmission lines, and new forms of heat pump.

If warming is generated by human activity, I remain a skeptic that we will be able to rise to the challenge. Our political institutions seem incapable of offering real leadership, except where war and killing are concerned. Then there’s always plenty of chest-thumpers like Bush and plenty of followers ready to pick up clubs.


John Powers,

The sense of your words is extremely naive, that of rather blow-hard Right Wingers who do not actually understand much economics beyond Economics 101 telling them about supply-and-demand and self-correcting markets.

There are many issues involved here involving market externalities, market imperfections, imperfect competition, social costs, social benefits, and the “free” cost of many resources used by industry.

Surely, even you recognize that America doesn’t have a huge nuclear industry only because of the day-to-day operations of the market.

Indeed, it doesn’t have a high-tech airplane industry for only that reason either.

It wasn’t the free market that built the Interstate Highway System.

Or Hoover Dam.

Or the airports and control systems that guide international air traffic.

Or thousands of other technologies and institutions affecting our lives everyday.


“before making an all-to-common deranged attack on President Bush…”

Well, if it was deranged, why would you bother to answer?

Do you go about, Mr. Powers, answering the mumblings of the streetpeople on city streets?

That makes just about as much sense as your words directed at me if indeed you truly believe what you say.

But I’m sure you don’t. You are simply name-calling, rather than analyzing or contributing comments, just the sort of thing one might expect from a loyalist to America’s most incompetent president.


John Powers,

"The lack of grade school level calculation skills infects everyone from Al Gore to Joseph Stiglitz to the windbags (including both Sen. Obama and Sen McCain) now filling the airwaves with condemnation of Phil Gramm."

Don't laugh, but I'm interested in nominating you for the Nobel Prize in economics.

Nomination is a demanding undertaking, but I do feel that, in view of your remarkable native abilities, that it is is worthwhile.

You've obviously found flaws in the thinking of one of the world's most eminent economists, Mr. Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner, former World Bank Chief Economist and professor at Columbia.

As many readers will understand, this is an unprecedented achievement on your part, a little like a Sunday School Teacher in Mud Flats, Mississippi, finding errors in Darwin.

But I am a little puzzled by the reference to Phil Gramm.

It does appear to come from nowhere, much like a cloud suddenly drifting across the sun, something having no logical connection with the main subject here.

So before I start filling in the forms, perhaps you would like to expand upon this mysterious reference.

I have no doubt there are deep thoughts involved, but their nature eludes me completely.



Handle Iran?

I'm not aware of anything in need of "handling."

Iran minds its own business. It has attacked, or even seriously threatened, no one.

The people concerned with "handling Iran" are themselves the people who've attacked others and occupied their territories.

The U.S. occupies two countries (including a long stretch of Iran's border) threatens a third daily (Iran), and has begun making noises about a fourth (Pakistan). It keeps a huge fleet off the coast, and it apparently has the CIA working with a terrorist group in Eastern Iran, trying to start trouble.

Israel has attacked every neighbor it has, some more than once. It still holds millions in abusive occupation. It has broken every international law and convention you care to name. Its arrogant prime minister hurls threats and practices bombing runs.

Who is the real threat here?

We have the solid information from someone high in the American intelligence establishment, risking his or her position to see that we are informed, telling us clearly that Iran's weapons program no longer exists.

But even if it did have a weapons program, so what? Israel has nuclear weapons - obtained in part through theft in the U.S. years ago. Iran is almost surrounded by nuclear powers.

We lived with MAD in Europe for decades. Today Europe is a peaceful, thriving place.

The only thing that would change in the Middle East with Iranian weapons is a new balance of power, removing Israel's absolute veto over its every neighbor and the technical advance of any other nation in the region.

Israel's last half century is a complete dead-end. It has no peace. It has earned a worldwide reputation as a rogue state. Clearly something new needs to be introduced to end this abusive, go-nowhere situation.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


July 7, 2008


Why no on should be surprised when America behaves as an international bully

If you relish myths and enjoy superstition, then the flatulent speeches of America’s Independence Day, July 4, were just the thing for you. No religion on earth has more to offer along these lines than America celebrating itself.

Some, believing the speeches but curious, ask how did a nation founded on supposedly the highest principles by high-minded men manage to become an ugly imperial power pushing aside international law and the interests of others? The answer is simple: the principles and high-mindedness are the same stuff as the loaves and the fishes.

The incomparable Doctor Johnson had it right when he called patriotism the last refuge of scoundrels and scoffed at what he called the "drivers of negroes" yelping about liberty.

Few Americans even understand that Johnson's first reference was to their sacred Founding Fathers (aka Patriots). I have seen a well known American columnist who attributed the pronouncement to Ben Franklin, a man who was otherwise admirable but nevertheless dabbled a few times in slave trading himself.

Johnson especially had in mind history’s supreme hypocrite, Jefferson, with his second reference. Again, few Americans know that Jefferson kept his better than two hundred slaves to his dying day. I know a well educated American who sincerely believed Jefferson had freed his slaves. Such is the power of the myths of the American Civic Religion.

Jefferson was incapable of supporting himself, living the life of a prince and being a ridiculous spendthrift who died bankrupt and still owing money to others, the man of honor being a trifle less than honorable in paying back the money he often borrowed. When a new silk frock or set of shoes with silver buckles was to be had, Jefferson never hesitated to buy them rather than pay his debts.

The date we now celebrate, July 4, is based on the Continental Congress's approval of the Declaration of Independence, but in fact the date is incorrect, the document was approved on July 2.

Jefferson wrote the first draft of the declaration, but it was edited by the redoubtable Benjamin Franklin, and later was heavily amended by the Continental Congress. Jefferson suffered great humiliation of his pride and anger at the editing and changes.

Despite the document's stirring opening words, if you actually read the whole thing, you will be highly disappointed.

The bulk of it has a whining tone in piling on complaint after complaint against the Crown. Some would say the whining set a standard for the next quarter millennium of American society.

In Jefferson’s draft it went on and on about Britain's slave trade. The 'slave trade' business was particularly hypocritical, trying to sound elevated while in fact reflecting something else altogether. At the time there was a surplus of human flesh in Virginia, and prices were soft.

The cause of the Revolution is also interesting and never emphasized in American texts. Britain's imposition of the Quebec Act created a firestorm of anti-Catholicism in the colonies. They were afraid of being ruled from a Catholic colony.

The speech and writing of American colonists of the time was filled with exactly the kind of ugly language one associates with extremist Ulstermen in recent years.

This combined with the sense of safety engendered from Britain's victory in the French and Indian War (the Seven Years War)and the unwillingness to pay taxes to help pay for that victory caused the colonial revolt.

Few Americans know it, but it was the practice for many, many decades to burn the Pope in effigy on Guy Fawkes Day along the Eastern Seaboard. Anti-Catholicism was quite virulent for a very long time.

The first phase of the revolt in and around Boston was actually something of a popular revolution, responding to Britain's blockading the harbor and quartering troops in Boston.

The colonial aristocrats were having none of that, and they appointed Washington commander over the heads of the Boston Militias who volunteered and actually elected their officers.

Washington, who had always wanted to be a British regular commander but never received the commission, imposed his will ferociously. He started flogging and hanging.
In his letters home, the men who actually started the revolution are described as filth and scum. He was a very arrogant aristocrat.

The American Revolution has been described by a European as home-grown aristocrats replacing foreign-born ones. It is an apt description.

Washington, Hamilton, Adams, and many other of the Fathers had no faith in democracy. About one percent of early Virginia could vote. The president was not elected by people but by elites in the Electoral College. The Senate, which even today is the power in the legislature, was appointed well into the 20th century.

The Supreme Court originally never dared interpret the Bill of Rights as determining what states should do. It sat on paper like an advertising brochure with no force. At one time, Jefferson seriously raised the specter of secession, half a century before the Civil War, over even the possibility of the Bill of Rights being interpreted by a national court and enforced.

The Founding Fathers saw popular voting as endangering property ownership. Democracy was viewed by most the same way Washington viewed the “scum” who started the Revolution around Boston. It took about two hundred years of gradual changes for America to become anything that seriously could be called democratic. Even now, what sensible person would call it anything but a rough work still in progress.

It is interesting to reflect on the fact that early America was ruled by a portion of the population no larger than what is represented today by the Chinese Communist Party as a portion of that country’s population.

Yet today we see little sign of patience or understanding in American arrogance about how quickly other states should become democratic. And we see in Abu Ghraib, in Guantanamo, and in the CIA’s International Torture Gulag that the principles and attitudes of the Bill of Rights still haven’t completely been embraced by America.

Contrary to all the posturing amongst the Patriots – who few were a minority at the time - about tyranny, the historical facts indicate that Britain on the whole actually had offered good government to its North American Colonies.

Everyone who visited the Colonies from Europe noted the exceptional health of residents.

They also noticed what seemed an extraordinary degree of freedom enjoyed by colonists. It was said to be amongst the freest place in the known world, likely owing in good part to its distance from the Mother Country. A favorite way to wealth was smuggling, especially with the Caribbean. John Hancock made his fortune that way.

Ben Franklin once wrote a little memo, having noted the health of Americans and their birth rates, predicting the future overtaking of Britain by America, an idea not at all common at the time.

Indeed, it was only the relative health and freedom which made the idea of separation at all realistic. Britain was, of course, at the time viewed much the way, with the same awe of power, people view America today. These well-known facts of essentially good government in the Colonies made the Declaration of Independence list of grievances sound exaggerated and melodramatic to outsiders even at the time.

The combination of the Quebec Act, anti-Catholicism, dislike of taxes, plus the desire to move West and plunder more Indian lands were the absolute causes of the Revolution.

Britain tried to recognize the rights of the aboriginals and had forbidden any movement west by the Colonies.

But people in the colonies were land-mad, all hoping to make a fortune staking out claims they would sell to later settlers. The map of Massachusetts, for example, showed the colony stretching like a band across the continent to the Pacific. Britain did not agree.

George Washington made a lot of money doing this very thing, more than any other enterprise of his except for marrying Martha Custis, the richest widow in the colonies.

The tax issue is interesting.

The French and Indian War (the Seven Years War) heavily benefited the Colonists by removing the threat of France in the West. Once the war was over, many colonists took the attitude that Britain could not take the benefits back, and they refused to pay the taxes largely imposed to pay the war's considerable cost.

And Americans have hated taxes since.

By the way, in the end, without the huge assistance of France, the Colonies would not have won the war. France played an important role in the two decisive victories, Saratoga and Yorktown. At Saratoga they had smuggled in the weapons the Americans used. At Yorktown, the final battle, the French were completely responsible for the victory and for even committing to the battle. Washington had wanted instead to attack New York – which would have been a disaster – but the French generals then assisting recognized a unique opportunity at Yorktown.

After the war, the United States never paid the huge French loans back. Some gratitude. Also the United States renounced the legitimate debts many citizens owed to British factors (merchant/shippers) for no good reason at all except not wanting to pay.

It was all a much less glorious beginning than you would ever know from the drum-beating, baton-twirling, sequined costumes, and noise today. And if you really want to understand why America has become the very thing it claimed it was fighting in 1776, then you only need a little solid history.



Sorry, but human rights do mean something in China. It is simply ignorant to say otherwise.

And as China continues her climb to a place in the sun, human rights will become increasingly important. That is the story of human civilization.

The average Chinese today enjoys freedoms not known there in the modern era.

Most people going on about Tibet do not even understand what happened, and they utterly fail to have any perspective on world affairs.

Our colossal neighbor to the South is running a CIA International Torture Gulag plus disgraces like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. It has murdered the best part of million people in Iraq and destroyed the economy of a progressing country.

They also left three million dead in Vietnam and left a legacy of land soaked with Agent Orange and cluttered with landmines to continue killing and crippling for decades.

China has lived in relative peace for half a century. Today it is rising out of the Dark Ages of Maoism and giving the opportunity to hundreds of millions to better their lives.

All who understand human progress should applaud this.



Yours is a somewhat muddy argument.

It depends clearly on the definition of "liberty." Also the adjective "fundamental."

You can define "liberty" to include an individual's freedom to do pretty much whatever he or she can to profit and get ahead - a definition embraced by American libertarians, many American corporations, and certainly much of its large wealthy class.

And if you qualify that liberty with "fundamental," then we have a fundamental social division.

This Right Wing conflation of meanings in America is what enables it to invade other states in the name of something so high-sounding as liberty - that is, the liberty of corporations like Coca Cola or McDonalds or the United Fruit Company to freely function, effectively dominating, in the place being invaded.

Also, to the left of center, every time one conceives of some regulation to protect one liberty when it clashes with another - as they so often do - you need the force of law, the force of the state. Those on the Right generally regard this as a suppression of liberty.

We quickly get to some very basic issues here.

Do you have the liberty to put Christian principles into some aspects of government?

Do you have the liberty to deny The Holocaust?



"Unable to offer Ukraine a positive alternative to NATO, the Kremlin is resorting to a tactic it knows – threats and bullying"

William Harrison, what an uninformed piece, just cheap propaganda, you've offered here.

Threats and bullying?

My God, the United States occupies two countries, daily threatens a third, Iran, and now begins threatening a fourth, Pakistan.

Through the whole period of time since 9/11, American diplomacy has been nothing but brow-beating and threats for countries to join, or at least not actively oppose, its lunatic crusade against beliefs and techniques.

Russia has been quite calm and reasonable through most of this.

Indeed, the expansion of NATO right to Russia's border is a threatening act. Imagine the American response were Mexico to join a Russian or Chinese alliance?

And NATO is an outdated organization with no genuine purpose from the European point of view. From the American point of view, NATO is merely a way of maintaining American hegemony in Europe, keeping Europe from developing as a genuine competitor and alternative force in foreign affairs.

One rarely reads things that so completely reflect George Orwell's famous contradictions of tyranny, such as war is peace, as your shabby piece.

It's actually rather astounding someone would have the arrogance to speak such clap-trap.

A liberated Iraqi boy



Well, the man who reports this ugly incident is an American senator, and he is a Republican.

Even if he doesn't like McCain, it is hard to see any motive for making this up.

Besides, the incident is in keeping with McCain's well-known temper, said by those who've seen it in full fury to be frightening.

McCain as a young man bucked authorities and acted the typical troubled brat, fond of ugly tricks, in school. His academic record is mediocre.

He is the son and grandson of admirals and clearly did not have the talents needed to rise in the Navy. He only got into pilot's training by his father's pulling strings.

I suspect McCain suffers from the syndrome common to so many sons of famous fathers, especially ones who just don't have big talent.

It's actually another way in which he resembles Bush, because Bush and his father just about came to blows on more than one occasion.

As retired General Clark accurately said, getting shot down in a fighter doesn't qualify you to be president.

McCain easing his anger with campaign staff member



"...the competitive taper was lit..."

" [faith schools] their disassembly..."

Do you not appreciate, Zoe Williams, words like those above in an essay on education bring a smile to readers' lips?

Faith schools owe their success largely to pupil selection. Never having to keep the local thugs from destroying the educational environment is an immense advantage.

They also owe their success to authority. Teachers in what we call public schools in North America have no authority left, and they are constantly harassed by pushy, demanding, or angry parents and threatened by disruptive, even dangerous, children.

In a faith school, there is an implicit sense of authority. Parents and students are much less likely to generate difficulties for teachers out of fear of losing their places.

Faith schools have another effect, and not a good one: they can drain the public schools of the better teachers and students seeking a more peaceful learning environment, thus concentrating further the problems of the public schools.

The basic issue really isn't faith versus public schools, it is what do we do with children who have no desire, or ability, to learn.



Oh, here we go again, blame the Chinese for something.

Who cares, even if this report were true?

If you copy the horrors of others from more than half a century ago, only you are to blame.

This is even more true when you are supposedly a democracy valuing human rights, and the people you copy were under an absolute government of the darkest nature.

By the way, I think America has little to be taught about brutality.

Good God, in the revolt in the Philippines, American soldiers were torturing with waterboarding.

The Army's School of the Americas has been teaching unpleasant South American regimes techniques of policing, control, and torture for decades.

America sells more arms abroad to more repressive regimes than anyone.



The first comment is right on the mark.

My only objection to it is that the situation in the United States is extreme beyond anything else with which I am familiar.

And, sadly, the United States casts a shadow on the affairs of almost everyone else on the planet, effectively giving its small electorate the role of global aristocracy.

This stuff puts the lie to the concept that voters in America should ever vote for issues. The really important issues are rarely discussed, and the ones that are discussed are subject to complete revisions of view.

The system screams to voters that you must vote for what you perceive as character and personality traits, for those are all you can count on.

And that is not a result of the "media," it's implicit in the structure of American politics and in its role as global imperial power.



Sorry, but yours is a ridiculous article.

Hillary was not smeared. If anything is a smear, it is your saying so.

Indeed, efforts like yours, nasty Ferraro clap-trap, remind me painfully of Hitler's insidious "stab in the back" speeches.

There is an American sense of entitlement – I want it all, and I want it now – lurking behind claims like yours that is repulsive.

As Ms. Clinton herself would say, American national politics is a snake pit. Nothing unusual happened to her during her campaign. She was out-smarted and made several serious strategic political mistakes, displaying real weaknesses and embarrassingly negating her claims to superior experience and skill.

Obama was castigated for everything from not wearing a stupid flag pin to the words of another man, his pastor, for being a secret Muslim and for the deliberate, inappropriate leak from a senior aide to Canada's minority Conservative prime minister concerning NAFTA.

Ms. Clinton actually rather gleefully joined the party on some of this,
adding ethical shortcomings to her other revealed faults.

There was a genuine and natural revulsion on the left at much of Ms. Clinton’s behavior and words.

As someone who thought well of her during her White House days, I was appalled by some of her behaviors. I thought she was disgraceful. She was Richard Nixon re-incarnated.

I expect little dramatic change from Obama. That, sadly, is the very nature of the American Imperium, a colossal hulk next to impossible to steer off its course, but at least he won his nomination as honorably as it is possible to do in such a corrupt and unethical place as the United States.