Saturday, August 30, 2008

JOHN MCCAIN: A MATTER OF CHARACTER

August 30, 2008

JOHN MCCAIN: A MATTER OF CHARACTER

John Chuckman

McCain does a good job with the appearance of a boyishly honest man.

He puts on his quiet voice and uses his boyish (albeit now partially fossilized) expressions and, reminding me of Richard Nixon during his Checkers speech, sometimes glances down at his well-shined shoes, as though wordlessly to say, see what a good boy I am.

McCain’s actual record of ethics and behavior is rather dreary, and it is a subject which mysteriously eludes treatment in mainline media which seem always ready to treat trivia like flag pins. There are many parallels of insensitivity, anger, aggression, limited capacities, and grotesque humor with George Bush.

McCain was, quite simply, a nasty brat as a young man. There are many stories of the way he bullied others, including teachers, stories perhaps easy to make light of fifty years later, but not funny if you were his victim and, more importantly, all too similar to stories of his adult behavior. He was a poor student. He always took advantage of being the son and grandson of admirals to get away with his sometimes vicious antics and failures.

Despite his favorite public act as boyish fighter pilot, he apparently remains an often nasty man in private. Many fellow politicians, including Republicans, testify to his furious, spluttering temper and the use of the most obscene words to friends and work associates with whom he is unhappy. There is also the story, related by a Republican, of his sudden physical attack on a member of the government of Nicaragua during a Congressional mission.

When McCain’s being shot down in Vietnam is discussed, the fact that he was bombing civilians is almost never mentioned. He's just lucky he survived. He might well have been torn limb from limb had he been a Vietnamese pilot shot down in Texas.

How did he survive being shot down? After all, he landed in a body of water and he was hurt. A group of local villagers, and one Vietnamese man in particular, Mai Van On, left their bomb shelters and pulled McCain from the water where he would certainly have drowned otherwise.

That brave and decent Vietnamese man, whom McCain once acknowledged, died recently, a very disheartened man that McCain never showed any real sign of thanks or reciprocity. His wife has spoken to the press on this. After all, in many cultures, someone’s saving your life creates a powerful bond or debt, but apparently not for John McCain.

Apart from some fitting communication from the man who went on to become famous, imagine how even a little money order from this well-off man could have altered the lives of those who saved him?

When McCain returned home to the wife who had waited for him for the five and a half years he was in prison, he discovered his wife had been in a terrible car accident in which she was disfigured.

Instead of compassion and loyalty, McCain started a series of affairs, ending with wealthy future wife Cindy.

He left his crippled wife to marry the money. It was a pretty shabby display, reminiscent of Newt Gingrich’s telling a wife dying of cancer he was divorcing her, but it did considerably help finance his political career.

During the great savings-and-loan scandals, McCain was at the center, having got a lot of money and favors from (to-be convicted felon) Charles Keating.

McCain’s second wife, Cindy, was a drug addict, by her own admission. She also stole a large quantity of drugs from a charity for which she did volunteer work to feed her habit, an act which would earn you or me hard time in prison in Bush's America.

You do have to ask about the mental state of a woman who is said to be worth $300 million yet who steals the drugs she craves.

But Cindy got off with a slap on the wrist, thanks in part to the efforts of her husband. This law-and-order conservative, this defender of the hard line in the war on drugs, saw nothing wrong in using his influence. No insistence here that Cindy do the time that he and Bush insist on, and snigger over, for young black men caught with modest quantities of cocaine.

Cindy, in her efforts to soften her brittle Bergdorf Goodman image – or whatever expensive store it is in New York to which she regularly flies to buy racks of clothes - and connect with average Americans, also had the minor flap of being caught misrepresenting other people’s recipes as her own. Integrity does not appear to be a strong McCain family value.

Recently McCain had a hard time remembering how many houses he and Cindy owned. Does anyone believe that that is the kind of personal matter someone forgets? If he was indeed being honest, then almost certainly Alzheimer’s has set in. More likely though, he was not being honest, trying to deflect an embarrassing question. The latest count on the houses is eight.

McCain, in 2000, told us exactly what he really thinks of the Religious Right. After all, he is known as a rather irreligious, worldly man. He did endear himself to many as he lambasted the Religious Right’s nasty, inappropriate influence in American politics, but practically the next day, he was crawling around on his belly, saying he was sorry, having quickly realized what he had done to his political ambitions.

And that last pattern has been typical of McCain's entire public career. Shoot off his mouth, make big noises about being tough and honest, and then crawl back quietly shortly afterward, having achieved nothing but adding a notch to the reputation he relishes as a maverick.

Of course, there never has been a bombing run McCain did not eagerly support. He embraces enthusiastically, consistently, all war measures, no matter how weak or foolish the reasons used to support them. That’s why Lieberman, supposedly a Democrat, supports McCain so enthusiastically, Lieberman being another man who never saw a bombing run he did not like nor an excuse too flimsy to support one.

As for McCain’s humor, nothing so reveals him for the mild psychopath that he is. The sense his humor conveys, at least a good deal of it, is very much along the lines of what Bush's humor conveys.

As, for example, the time Bush made some twisted comment and facial expressions to reporters about the pitiful woman he refused to stay from execution in Texas despite her pleas as a converted Christian.

Or Bush's comment to reporters in Chicago when, not long after 9/11, he joked about having "won the trifecta" with his new-found popularity.

Or the story from an acquaintance of his youth about his favorite stunt, repeated many times over, of shoving lit firecrackers into the mouths of captured frogs and watching them blow up.

The disgusting nature of some of McCain’s jokes is summarized here:
http://timesonline.typepad.com/uselections/2008/08/to-his-supporte.html

After eight years of Bush’s incompetence and stupid brutality, are we to have another man as president reflecting many of the same qualities and views?

One recent poll showed that while nearly ninety percent of Republicans would support McCain, only seventy-three percent of Hillary Clinton’s supporters would support Obama. These disaffected voters should examine closely the character of the man for whom they may vote in protest.

John McCain is certainly well aware of them. He just picked a soccer mom from Alaska as his candidate for vice president.

He does not even know the woman. There is only one big reason for this choice, and that is to appeal to disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters in what is expected to be a close election.

How cynical that McCain dangles an unknown woman as a lure for the votes of certain women. That is the truest sexism.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

THE REAL MEANING OF RUSSIA'S GEORGIA ATTACK AS THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF AMERICA'S GLOBAL HEGEMONY

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY SEUMAS MILNE IN THE GUARDIAN

I think you have this just about right, Seumas Milne.

That's precisely why there is such a desperate flapping of arms and lips in Washington and among its friends and dependants.

It is inevitable.

Russia has many strengths, from the intellects of its people to its gigantic storehouse of natural resources.

My only reservation is focusing on Russia.

I believe we are definitely at the start of an era which will see China, Russia, and others take their place in the world.

At the same time, America's relative influence and ability to act unilaterally will be continuously in decline.

And that is a very good thing for most peoples' interests.

America has proved itself a poor arbiter of fairness in the world, and it has badly abused its power.

And having gotten away with it only means the stakes become higher in future.

But that's just what we should expect from Lord Acton's dictum, one of the greatest truths ever uttered.

The best we can expect is a multi-polar world where different perspectives and interests must compromise.

It is a very rough proxy for some little degree of democracy in international affairs.

For despite all its blubbering about democracy and human values, no nation on earth has worked harder against those principles in recent years than America.

It has worked only for its narrow self-interests while using the world's biggest marketing machine to tell us otherwise.

THE MEANINGFULNESS OF THE BIDEN AND CLINTON SPEECHES AT THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MICHAEL TOMASKI IN THE GUARDIAN

Michael Tomaski offers a pretty naive take on a couple of political speeches.

No analysis here at all, only hopes presented with confidence.

Speeches from people like Biden or Clinton are just that, speeches, and nothing more.

Joe Biden has made many barn-burner speeches in his years as a government-service lifer, yet what can anyone point to as an important Biden principle or issue? Nothing.

The man is all smiling gloss and no content, other than his own political interests - isn't that close to the definition of a psychopath?

Bill Clinton is well known as furiously angry in private over Obama's victory. Poor little Billy didn't get what he wanted, to make history as the first ex-president whose spouse in turn becomes president.

But when a narcissist like Clinton is put on a stage in front of a big crowd he just naturally says things that make the crowd respond.

That's just the way he's built. His words mean nothing, almost certainly having been written for him.

THE STUPIDITY OF CALLING OBAMA A ROCKSTAR

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MICHAEL TOMASKY IN THE GUARDIAN

I have a hard time with anyone describing Obama as a "rockstar."

I know Mr. Tomasky is only referring to what others have said, but why grace nonsense with repetition?

It tells me that the person using the word has poor perceptions and judgment.

This is an exceptional man, full stop.

The fact that he appears as anything else to anyone but the weak-minded is testimony to the force of vacuous advertising and marketing on people's judgment.

The quality of Obama's words sometimes during his campaign had the same force and thoughtfulness as the best of FDR, as FDR's immortal phrase about having only fear to fear.

Was FDR's great phrase "rockstar" stuff?

If you analyze it, it has no hard meaning, it's only reassurance to troubled people.

And just so the best of Obama.

I believe that is called leadership.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

MICHELLE OBAMA

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

Michelle is a truly remarkable woman.

I did not listen to her speech at the convention only because I never listen to stuff so predictably sentimental.

But the woman is a true American success story in the very best sense.

From humble circumstances to graduation with a fine education. A happy marriage. Two lovely children. A beautiful smile.

And when she spoke a while back about being proud of America for the first time in a while, I understood exactly what she meant.

Her words were, of course, torn apart by the America’s huge flock of political vultures, but the words were honest and meaningful, far more so than we've heard from others in her position.

Americans always claim to love honesty and freedom of speech, but so many of them, as soon as they actually experience these qualities, back away from them as though they were poisonous.

You are supposed, always, to be working towards the Fatherland with never a critical comment. Everything is always good in America.

A woman of her background, how could she be proud of her country's past treatment of so many of its own citizens?

How could she be proud of all those ugly colonial wars killing many, many innocent people - indeed, generally people of color?

Compare the brave qualities and fierce intelligence of this woman to Cindy McCain, former drug addict, drug thief, breaker of McCain's first marriage, clothes-horse, caught in dishonest claims several times, and simply dull person.

Those mates say something profound about their husbands' personalities.

A man with a good mind and brave spirit embraces a strong, bright woman. They glow in their pictures together.

The old frat boy, skirt-chaser, given to vicious jokes, furious bouts of temper and name-calling, marries a rather dim blond with lots of money, having dumped the woman who waited for him for over five years while he was a prisoner.

Anyone with eyes and ears sees where the real class is.


Monday, August 25, 2008

THE COMING ASSAULT BY HARPER'S GANG ON DION: TRYING TO MAKE HIM INTO DUKAKIS

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

I'm afraid the job will be all too easy to do.

But that will not mean victory for Harper, the living corpse of Canadian politics.

The polls have steadily shown no real gain for Harper.

And there is good reason for that.

The man has made many errors and poor judgments. Worse, he has demonstrated a highly selective kind of ethics.

He is contentious and divisive in Parliament and towards many Canadians, leaving the impression of a snotty, nasty-tempered frat boy when he doesn’t get his way.

He stays away from China, supposedly out of principle, but the same oaf blames UN observers in Lebanon, including a brave Canadian soldier who died, for being there when Israel targeted them during its savage incursion into that country.

He makes little motions about Canada's sovereignty in the North, but pursues every other avenue possible to please the horrid man in the White House.

He fails to speak up for Canadians caught up in the American security insanity. He deports decent young men who saw the real face of the war crime in Iraq - and it is a war crime. He works through legislation to limit China's opportunities in the tar sands and other investments.

His party in Parliament behaves like a gang of Soviet Apparatchiks. They don't come to committees. They walk out of committees. They refuse to cooperate. I'm surprised they haven't taken to banging the heels of their shoes on desks.

His poor appointments and oversight have genuinely endangered Canadian security and embarrassed the country.

He lacks perspective, giving people a couple of almost meaningless points on GST while squandering billions on other favored matters.

He is a disaster. A majority for him, I believe Canadians understand, would be a catastrophe.

There are other places to park your vote until the Liberal Party puts its house in order.




What an inspiring sight the man is.

THE MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE OF AMERICAN POLITICAL CONVENTIONS

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

The conventions are a relic of memory and sentimentality.

They once were exciting and meaningful events.

Viewers could see the twists and turns of political power before their eyes.

And the enthusiasms and disappointments were genuine.

Today, the conventions are reduced to Las Vegas shows, much like the opening ceremonies for an Olympics.

They remind me of the Americans who live in synthetic places like Celebrity, Florida, and believe they enjoy something of the old days and values.

We’re sure to see that vacuous scene repeated at each convention of the candidates standing with advertising smiles while a million stupid balloons and a thousand pounds of confetti are dropped and a pop song is played.


THE JOE BIDEN CHOICE

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY OLIVER KAMM IN THE TIMES

Well, a neo-con like yourself would think Biden a good choice.

He's just another slavish loyalist to the American military-intelligence colossus, never questioning the destructive impact of that establishment on the development of American democracy and the ethical stand of its foreign policy.

He's also rather a weasel-like politician, one fitted with an almost cancerous ego, transplanted hairline, and plastic teeth.

Weasels can be aggressive, snapping and growling, just as Joe Biden can be. In fact, the list of stupid things Joe has said over his career is a long one.

But then he's back with that big plastic smile and new words intending to make people feel he never said what he said before.

He's a ghastly choice, second only in his rating as a phony to John Edwards, leaving out of the ratings Lieberman who is in a class utterly of his own.


COFFIN CEREMONIES: THEY DIE IN AFGHANISTAN AND WE TALK ABOUT WEATHER

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

A ridiculous article, Gary Mason.

First, how many times do you think it appropriate to show pictures of coffin ceremonies?

What is the limit? How many years? For every death?

In WW II that would have meant coffin scenes were the only things broadcast twenty-four hours a day in some countries from 1939 to 1945.

In any event, it is also important to understand Canadians have not embraced the "cause" of Afghanistan because they are, for the most part, rational and understand there is no cause.

They know, just as the Europeans who will not subject themselves to further hazard, that it is not truly their cause and that they are there only owing to the paranoid demands of the United States.

Too much going on over coffins gets us into the American paranoid mode of thinking, supercharged, unhealthy patriotism. It makes people think there is something more significant going on than there is.

It also breeds fear, which is why those horrible men who started the whole ugly business, Bush and Cheney, have never allowed coffin returns to even be photographed.


Friday, August 22, 2008

A RIDICULOUS COLUMN ATTEMPTING TO DEFEND CANADA'S LAMENTABLE PRIME MINISTER HARPER FROM CHARGES BY JEAN CHRETIEN ABOUT NOT GOING TO THE OLYMPICS

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

Of course, our voice on China does matter, Marcus Gee.

But you do have to be IN China to have your voice heard, much less paid any attention to. It is foolish to say otherwise, but then this article is nothing except foolishness. Just listen to yourself.

“Long before Mr. Chr├ętien was jetting off to Beijing to advise well-heeled clients about doing business with China…”

What a ridiculous sentence to write. You are a neo-con. Since when to a conservative is someone’s being “well-heeled” a sin or aspersion?

I guess only when you want to write the kind of shabby propaganda this article represents. You duck into the kind of language a member of the 1960 British Labour Party might have used just to make a cheap point.

International business does tend to be done by “well-heeled” people. So far as I see the average small Canadian businessman couldn’t afford the air fare.

“You want me to tell the president of a country of 1.3 billion people you should do this and do that, but I don't dare to say what to do to the premier of Saskatchewan?”

That is not a “laugh line” as you assert, that’s a cogently-put truth by Mr. Chretien. If you disagree, go argue the point with Danny Williams. Simply a limp, pitiful statement, Marcus Gee.

“Canadians are fighting and dying for human rights in Afghanistan.”

Now there IS a “laugh line,” Marcus Gee, a very dark and bitter one.

Actually, it is more a deliberate misrepresentation (aka: a lie) or evidence of your lack of knowledge.

Canadians are in Afghanistan for one reason only.

Mr. Chretien kept us out of the mass murder of Iraq, and we avoided being mucked up in American missile defence (aka: the weaponizing of space).

The folks in Ottawa simply declared “we owe one to the Pentagon,” and when they said that they thought they would face the kind of mild service most others in NATO face, who are all putting in time to keep the embarrassed U.S. from blowing a fuse.

They had no idea they would end up in the hell-hole they now find themselves in.

“Should we stay silent about our most basic beliefs because Beijing feels slighted?”

There is perhaps your most uninformed line of many, Marcus Gee.

Basic beliefs?

The U.S. occupies two nations, threatens a third, and has begun threatening a fourth. It has killed perhaps a million innocent people. The CIA runs an international torture gulag. We have the shame of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. We’ve had the horrors of white phosphorus used as a weapon and the ghastly use of cluster bombs which almost make land mines look humane. We have new ugly, intrusive laws within the U.S. New powers for the FBI, an organization with a dreadful human-rights record. And we have a long trail of documented lies from the White House.

But we’ve heard nothing from you, Marcus Gee, on any of that and still more. Indeed, your political hero, Mr. Harper (aka: Steve to George Bush) does every petty thing he can think of to please and flatter the most incompetent and dangerous president in American history.

You do not understand what is in front of your face. The Chinese are coming out of a hideous Secular Dark Ages, and it is clear that today they enjoy freedoms unheard of only a few decades ago. The evidence is everywhere. Watch some documentaries, read some books, talk to Chinese people, and, if you had an open mind, you would be astounded by the relative freedom. China’s advance and development on every front – economic, political, and social – is the miraculous story coming for this generation to watch.

But clearly, you do not have an open mind, Mr. Gee, you are nothing more than a dreary, full-time propagandist.







Two views of Canada's remarkable statesman, Harper

ISRAEL AND THE ISSUE OF A ONE- OR TWO-STATE SOLUTION

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY NAOMI SHEPHERD IN THE GUARDIAN

Ms. Shepherd,

You write so cleanly and analytically, but here is a matter that is neither clean nor subject only to rational analysis.

Millions of lives are at stake here.

For outside observers, Israel sometimes seems to function for almost no other purpose than diminish, remove, abuse, and ignore Palestinians, full time.

There does have to be a peaceful solution.

And a genuine peaceful solution cannot be only on Israel's terms, although it is impossible for a reasonable observer to regard the last half century of Israel's activities and policies as anything but Israel's efforts to have what it wants completely on its own terms.

There are two parties here, millions on both sides. And it is not the Palestinians who started the whole painful business.

It was not the Palestinians who created the Holocaust, but they have been consistently asked to pay the price as though they had done so.

The United States, which could have saved the entire Jewish population of Europe by taking them in but refused even a boatload of refugees, is more than a little responsible for the horror.

Yet it likes to take an exalted view of itself today as though it were the center of fairness and justice.

What it is actually doing is ignoring its own genuine responsibility and putting virtually the whole cost on the Palestinians and others in the Middle East.

I understand you do not feel it is true, but what Abbas has said is reasonable and fair.

They are his first words I can have some respect for. He has been overall a weak and ineffective leader which is precisely why Israel likes him.

You of course miss the elephant in the room, Hamas, a legitimate, elected government Israel chooses to ignore by calling names. You may not like them, but we all live with neighbors we do not like.

Israel cannot go on indefinitely doing nothing, absolutely nothing, to settle this complex problem. I should not say nothing: it does assassinate and illegally imprison and torture and shout down every reasonable voice that ever is raised. They are all terrorists or, at least, anti-Semites.

That is a dead-end strategy. I am sure you know that Arabic people's population growth is among the highest in the world while Israel's (apart from immigration) is like that of a European or North American society's - that is, no growth at all.

How much more sensible to settle the key matters and establish proper institutions now, rather than thirty years from now?

This reality is further highlighted by the fact of Israel's huge annual subsidy from the United States. America's guilt about WWII will only last so long. I think all reasonable Americans expect Israel to settle before they eventually say they've paid long enough, a not irrational or hateful view at all.

The policy of the Iron Wall has been Israel's from the beginning. It is an utter failure. It's long past time to change it. It has only been destructive and resource-wasting. And those millions of neighbors are not going to disappear.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

THE SO-CALLED SADDLEBACK DEBATE: FUNDAMENTALISM CREEPS FURTHER INTO AMERICAN NATIONAL POLITICS

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

No matter how fair or open it may have appeared, isn't there something inappropriate and off-putting about presidential candidates being questioned in a church, a fundamentalist one at that?

Of course there is. It not only goes against the traditions of separation of church and state, but it set a bad precedent for the future.

What on earth is the point of a question, for example, about abortion? The President of the United States has absolutely no authority on such matters.

Of course, those who don't think about what they are saying will respond that the future appointment of Supreme Court judges matters.

But such appointments are almost never issue-specific, nor should they be. Issue-specific appointments would quickly debase the institution and would represent more of a threat than the one perceived over the particular issue.

The question, as many others were here, is irrelevant.

This event takes on another dimension of oddness when you consider the fact that McCain is well known for being about as religious as Elmer Gantry.

If you put a Bible in his hand, I wouldn't be surprised, in the words of the great Charles Laughton in "Witness for the Prosecution," if the testament were to leap from his hand.

Anyway, this event only further highlights the close-to-meaningless nature of American presidential elections. Real issues are almost never dealt with. Access and influence are purchased by contributions. And the great imperial establishment goes on as though there were no vote.

The only truly significant thing that happens are the thousands of appointments, plum jobs wanted by small armies of trough-seekers on both sides, wanting them to shape resumes for still more plum jobs with corporations and lobbies.

And, yes, it certainly wasn’t a debate, but when was the last time American candidates actually debated? Lincoln-Douglas.

The regular ritual now of TV debates is little more than a dual press conference, not entirely different in content and difficulty from what one might have seen from Brezhnev and Kosygin. No debate ever. A few one-liners thrown in now and then. Softball questions from establishment journalists.

A last note, McCain was (deliberately?) late. He had the potential advantage, which he was not supposed to have, of watching Obama's answers. They were, after all, asked the same questions.

Whatever the case, a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.





Saddleback debate

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MUSHARRAF'S RESIGNATION: NOTHING GOOD WILL COME OF IT

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY KAMILA SHAMSIE IN THE GUARDIAN

Sorry, this is naive stuff.

Although a dictator, Musharraf is an intelligent and enlightened man, one dedicated to his country's best interests and advance.

The comparison that comes to mind is Ataturk.

Pakistan is barely a country in certain respects. It is an explosion of extremes, religious, political, and economic.

"Democratic" governments of the past, as the Bhuttos, have been extremely corrupt and achieved little.

Musharraf bravely stood up to America's demands to spread its war on terror into Pakistan. What America wants to do in Pakistan will likely have the kind of results America induced in Cambodia during its pointless bloodbath in Vietnam.

First, just after 9/11, Musharraf was threatened in private by the Americans. He actually told us about it. After all, the British at the time feared America was ready to use atomic weapons on Afghanistan, although you did not read that in the headlines.

Then when Musharraf cooperated about intelligence and in other ways as the Americans demanded, suddenly he was magically transformed into America's priceless ally. But behind the scenes, there were tremendous tensions, against which Musharraf stood bravely.

When America had all that was useful from him, they played an old dirty game: they quietly dumped him and encouraged others, like Ms Bhutto, to get involved, doing it all with fake claims about democracy. America’s hand was even strengthened by their having called him such an ally before. You can play on themes like that nicely with propaganda.

America has no interest in democracy anywhere, so long as they get the support for their demands and policies abroad. Nothing else matters, and only the politically naive believe otherwise. Pinochet was just fine, as was Ceausescu, as was Marcos, as was Park of South Korea, as was seventy years of one-party rule in Mexico, as was the Shah, as was Saddam Hussein until he strayed.

There is very little to be optimistic over with Musharraf’s going and the U.S. getting what it wants.


Monday, August 18, 2008

TORONTO FINALLY AGREES TO DO CLEAN-UP OF ASBESTOS AFTER PROPANE EXPLOSION

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

It's about time.

The City of Toronto has behaved disgracefully during these events, and especially its blowhard, ineffectual mayor, always patting himself on the back for caring about cities.

The affected residents for the last week have been treated by this City very much the way residents of New Orleans were treated after Hurricane Katrina.

Imagine, after the shock and fright of the explosions in the night and evacuation, finding that a horrible noxious substance like asbestos is all over your street and yard and the roof of your house.

And imagine watching the City bring in high-tech clean-up - with bubble suits - for their own property in the area, yet the City offers no help to you but the weasel words of politicians and consultants.

Oh, a little asbestos won't hurt you! You can even eat the stuff!

What in God’s name were the residents to do? Each one individually order high-tech clean-up?

Just from a practical point of view, that makes no sense. Wind and rain, which we’ve had almost every day, spread material like asbestos. Windows left open in the rush to leave bring it into the house.

The City’s clean-up of its own property – surely so offensive when all the residents got was blubbering and excuses – was dumb and useless. The material all has to be cleaned at the same time.

When a truck of hazardous material crashes on the highway or on a street in the City, it is always a first priority to clean it up quickly. The City doesn’t tell drivers it won’t harm them and maybe some other level of government should pay for the clean-up and just leave them hanging.

But that is exactly what was done here by cowardly, responsibility-shifting politicians.

Good Lord, this event was potentially the greatest disaster since Toronto’s Great Fire, and Mayor Miller was on vacation and remained there. His proxy, as well as other politicians, acted like limp-wristed, excuse-making members of the Board of Education following a murder in a school, rather than someone charged with getting things done and immediately keeping the City working.

I do hope the residents sue the City and everyone responsible for this fiasco. They pay their taxes – high taxes – and got ignored when they truly needed help. They didn’t make the decisions to put this inappropriate facility in their neighborhood. They didn’t approve a structure with asbestos for a facility handling explosive material.

The only hero in this grim tale is Firefighter Leek, a genuine hero. We need a street named for him.

I suggest a bronze monument with him bravely striving while a background group of pathetic politicians sit calmly, pointing fingers at one another.





GRAVE STUFF ABOUT CHINA'S SUBSTITUTING A PRETTIER GIRL FOR THE OLYMPIC GAMES' OPENING CEREMONIES - DOES THE SILLINESS NEVER STOP?

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

Rex Murphy,

You sound so sensible on Cross Country Check-Up [CBC Radio show], can you not write a sensible column?

I've yet to read one since the Globe unlocked you.

This one hits bottom.

All the Chinese have done here is to show us how well they've absorbed American popular culture, and nothing more. It is regrettable, but utterly insignificant and trivial.

This is pure Hollywood nonsense. How many times have we seen American musical films where the woman on the screen is not the woman singing on the sound track?

There have been dozens.

Please keep in mind that the entire extravaganza of the modern Olympics is little more than a multi-billion dollar Las Vegas show, completely so for the ceremonies, and to a considerable extent even for the athletic competitions.

American private foundations spend a fortune on their athletes, treating them like hand-groomed Japanese Kobe beef cattle. China does the same through the state, as did the old Soviets. Is the whole world to waste resources this way for a show every four years that pretty much only the very affluent can attend?

The modern Olympics stresses hyper-patriotism, too, a subject best left mostly to scoundrels.

And what is the meaning of a country like Canada, with a population base smaller than the State of California, selecting teams to compete?

I once went through the exercise of taking the top ten medal countries in an Olympics, and made the numbers per capita rather simple totals. A country like the U.S. then moves from first to near the bottom.

If you do a second deflation, using per capita income for the ten countries (after all, there’s no matching of resources in the simple total count), the U.S. finishes last.

So what is the meaning or significance of a competition built on those foundations? None, it’s a huge, costly show, and that’s all.

Talking about heroism or character or any other exalted characteristic is just silly when you analyze it clearly.

There is no way on earth that the substitution of the singer for appearance will be remembered as anything but a trivial anecdote. The Chinese simply have put on the most impressive Las Vegas show ever seen, and that’s all the Olympics are about.






MORE GARBAGE ABOUT RUSSIA AND GEORGIA - THIS TIME WITH JUVENILE STUFF ABOUT THE NEED FOR A RED LINE

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY ALAN JOHNSON IN THE GUARDIAN

Pure crap, Alan Johnson.

You understand nothing of the complexities that led up to this event.

What is more, you have no perspective in relation to other recent events.

Some might legitimately ask how are you qualified to write on the subject?

But then you don't have to be qualified, do you, to put out propaganda?

I suggest you join up with the forces on your "red line" ready to repel the Eastern devils.

You, yourself, could at least do kitchen or latrine duty for the boys.

Better yet, why don't you, in the 19th century tradition, raise a regiment for the "red line"?

Even if you were right - and you are not - being a Finlandised neighbor is a whole lot better than being an Iraqi.

Uncounted dead, uncounted crippled, an economy destroyed, ancient treasures destroyed.

You are a foolish man, Mr Johnson, a very foolish man.


AN UNINFORMED COLUMNIST WRITES OF CHINA'S OLYMPIC SUCCESS BEING ON THE BACKS OF GIRLS

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

The Globe's nightmare columnist is at it again.

Busy primly telling others how they should live their lives and pretending she is doing it out of some (clearly non-existent) sympathy for others.

The Chinese views appear based in envy and lack of understanding of what a people, long in a dreary world of no opportunity, are willing to sacrifice to rise and excel and shine.

This garbage about China reminds me of her truly foul views on Palestinian children, about how their parents must not love them because they let them become suicide bombers, it never occurring to the prim Ms. Wente that what she truly sees is desperation and hopelessness inflicted by the policies of Israel.

The same for her crusade on safe-injection sites. Foul views disguised as concern for others.

What Ms. Wente offers readers is a steady dose of constipated Midwestern American attitudes and beliefs, thinly disguised to sound a little Canadian.




A Palestinian mother and children killed by Israel

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

LAME PROPAGANDA ABOUT RUSSIA FROM THE REPRESENTIVE OF AN OLD CIA-FUNDED ORGANIZATION

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JOHN O'SULLIVAN IN THE TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

John O'Sullivan, this is clap-trap, cheap propaganda really, full of unanalyzed assertions slightly disguised with lame banter.

Russia is doing what any other power would do in parallel circumstances, and you must know that.

That being the case, you are being dishonest. That not being the case, you know too little to be writing columns.

Georgia's relationship with America and NATO is precisely parallel to Mexico's trying to join the Warsaw Pact in 1979. Even you must know that Mexico City would have been overrun by America tanks within a week.

Russia has not overrun Georgia, it has limited its actions to a (former) area of the country where it has many citizens and interests, an area that already has sought its independence from the foolish governments we've seen in Georgia.

Your column contributes nothing to understanding and promotes only bad relations with Russia.

I think it fair to call that dumb.

But then the organization you represent [Radio Free Europe] has a long history of being a CIA-subsidized propaganda mill, less heavy-handed and clumsy than the old Soviet propaganda mill, but a propaganda mill nevertheless.

And when it comes to abusive power in today's world, America has no match, occupying two nations, threatening a third, and beginning to threaten a fourth (Pakistan). There's nothing to be light and banter about when you've caused the deaths of a million people.


Monday, August 11, 2008

WORDS IN MEMORY OF THE GREAT SOLZHENITSYN USED AS AN EXCUSE TO DISPARAGE OTHERS

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY REX MURPHY IN THE TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

"...greatest writerly acts of memorialization ever achieved."

Good Lord, Rex, no one is ever going to accuse you of the same, given that kind of ham-fisted prose. It's positively Soviet in its awkwardness.

You should not forget, although many do, Solzhenitsyn bitterly criticized values in his American refuge.

As long as he was attacking the Soviets, he was a media hero, but when this fiercely honest man turned his attacks to the dark sides of American society he became a media non-person.

__________

"Heaping praise upon Alexander Solzhenitsyn is well deserved. Not sure why Murphy feels the need to juxtapose Solzhenitsyn with Michael Moore. Does one have to be criticized for the other to be properly praised?"

Well put, Gary Wilson.

The truth is that someone analyzing Rex's piece might well come to the conclusion that his praise for Solzhenitsyn is not much more than an excuse for kicking Moore.

The comparison of societal woes Rex makes is actually silly.

Of course, problems nowhere compare to living under Stalin, but if you feel the need to emphasize this thin idea, then we should feel free to make other such comparisons.

The sacrifices of the Soviets in WWII - 27 million killed and utter devastation on a continental scale - make every other sacrifice in any war since seem puny, hardly worth mentioning.

But I doubt Rex would agree with saying that.


A FOOLISH GENERAL COMPARES "ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE" WITH NATO AND AFGHANISTAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CANADIAN GENERAL LEWIS MACKENZIE IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

Gee, Lewis Mackenzie, The Three Musketeers was a piece of romantic fiction, indeed, romantic fiction aimed at adolescent male tastes.

Seems odd to have to remind an ex-general of that fact.

You are completely disingenuous here.

You know perfectly well why the rest of NATO is making no sacrifice for the "mission" in Afghanistan.

They recognize that this American war is: 1) of no real importance to them; and 2) it is a pointless quest by the United States playing Don Quixote.

Important countries like Germany, France, Italy, and Spain are perfectly capable of assessing the risks and rewards of the conflict, and their verdict just couldn't be clearer.

They could shout the truth from the roof tops, but that would not be taken kindly by Bush's America.

After all, the token forces some have there now are only a reflection of the U.S. exercising its financial, diplomatic, and political muscle to patch together something that makes it less obvious it is essentially alone.

The war was not needed. The existing situation is go-nowhere, hoping against hope that you can alter the culture and customs and attitudes of a vast land of 25 million poor, largely backward people.

It's an idiotic notion.

Canada's bad position there reflects a poor government decision, and nothing more. After turning down Washington on missile defense and its even greater blunder in Iraq, Ottawa decided "we owe one to the Pentagon."

They likely thought they would manage a situation like that of most of the other NATO countries there, but they made mistakes and now they are stuck in a nasty place.

Now, we have Harper who is a rather pathetic figure vis-a-vis the U.S., always doing what he can to serve their interests at the expense of Canada's. One can expect nothing sensible or creative from him.

Good Lord, only the other day, our new commanding general was quoting the fatuous Harper line that 24 Canadians died in 9/11.

Yes, and more Canadians die on a holiday weekend on America’s highways.

What an idiotic reason to spend billions and throw away nearly another hundred Canadian lives.