Thursday, December 29, 2011

EDITORIAL ON THE IMPORTANCE OF READING JUST RAISES THE NEED FOR SERIOUS REFORM IN PUBLIC EDUCATION - NOTE ON DRIVEL BOOKS

 POSTED RESPONSES TO AN EDITORIAL IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

"Reading is like oxygen..."

Not really, and by making that exaggerated claim the Globe places itself on the side of all the phony politicians and teachers and school administrators who day in and day out make false and even ridiculous claims about reading and literacy.

The Globe editorial writer would perhaps be surprised at the number of parents who do, or even cannot, read. After all, it wasn't just yesterday we began graduating people who are functionally illiterate.

And preaching to such parents is both foolish and effectively just another way of shirking the responsibilities of our teachers and schools to do the job parents do not.

Even more surprising would be the number of elementary school teachers who do not read, and haven't the least interest in it.

We have too many teachers - and this is especially important in the primary grades - who report to work each day with much the same attitude as the proverbial post office worker: I want my pay, my days off, and my pension, and "I'm outta here."

Such people should never have been hired for so important a job, yet I guarantee we have platoons of them today in our schools.

Typically at times when in the past we experience teacher shortages, any warm body that walks through the day was hired. Trouble is, once hired, they remain in place for a lifetime of inadequate and unsupervised (we have absolutely no systematic check on teachers' work ability and habits today) lethargy.

And all up the line we have teachers who wanted to get out of the classroom as principals, superintendents, directors, and "professors" at teachers' colleges. There's no escaping their influence.

It would be an interesting assignment for a Globe reporter to interview a number of school officials and teachers on their reading. I think the results would be eye-opening. Does anyone really believe that the ex-football player heading up Toronto schools is a serious reader?

And it's the same for the politicians setting the poor rules. Ontario's "literacy" test is a bad joke. I say that having first-hand experience with Asian students attending Ontario schools. It is a foolishly conceived test, set and marked by teachers. Those who "fail" it just take a bird course the next term to be deemed as having passed.

Now with politicians handing out the raises and benefits, what do you think is the motivation of those marking this test every year?

If we want to see help in reading for all students - as in any other subject you care to name, as well as the use of computers - we will demand of our rather handsomely rewarded teachers that they do the job for which they were hired.

We will put some of the best teachers in the early grades. It was Roger Ascham, Elizabeth the Great's tutor, who argued for the ablest teachers at an early age. We frequently do the opposite, I'm afraid.
We will test the kids with a genuinely objective, machine-readable test periodically, one not set by teachers and ex-teachers seeking extra income.

So, please, dear Globe, do not spout meaningless figures of speech unless you are prepared to support the fundamental changes required. Nothing's easier and more useless than mouthing platitudes while the big ugly machine chugs on. Reform is what we need.
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"There are certainly a lot of drivel books out there."

Yes, indeed.

And the education establishment has brought some of the worst of it into the schools.

I refer to the dull books stuffed into "literacy closets," bought from publishers trying to make a quick buck on parents' concerns and the education establishment's mouthings about literacy.

At the same time that considerable resources have been wasted on these over-priced and uninteresting books, we have let libraries in schools decline into a shameful state.

A school library should have the best of children's literature on the shelves and a friendly person in charge to introduce them to the books and teach them about using our great public libraries.

On the whole, we simply do not do this.

So-called "teacher-librarians" - a recent historical creation which is neither fish nor fowl - preside over the pathetically supplied and poorly maintained libraries on a part-time basis, and many of them show no interest in library content or children's reading skills and interests, nor are they themselves lovers of books often.

They are there to fill in the holes in the principle's schedule for teachers briefly away for some temporary reason - a ghastly anti-educational concept altogether.

We need lovers of books in the libraries, people dedicated to promoting the use and value of libraries. Library technicians, selected for their skills with books and children, would provide a superior human resource.

Just go see the lovely people working at many branches of our public libraries. No one comes away feeling they are there to fill holes.

Young children need a loving and informed introduction to books, especially the large numbers of them with no hope of receiving that at home.

BELINDA STRONACH REVIVES A TIRED OLD MATTER FROM THE REPUBLICANS OF 20 YEARS AGO - TERM LIMITS AND WHY THEY ARE WRONG

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

Sorry, Belinda, but this is just a mild rehash of notions that the nasty wing of the Republican Party mouthed a couple of decades ago.

We had ambitious politicians blubbering about everything from term limits to instituting a part-time government in Washington.

The skills and experience gained by thoughtful politicians in their careers are not contemptible stuff and, in a number of ways, serve the public well.

The problems facing national governments in today's world - and I don't mean just the current economic setback but all the immensity of globalization and world-scale problems like global warming and war - are complex and demanding, not the stuff for dabblers and part-timers.

Indeed, the idea that people would move regularly from industry into government and back again can be a formula for even greater influence of special interests in government.
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I've always defended Belinda against the stupidities of people like Peter MacKay.

But that does not mean that I accept her as in any way innovative or creative or even effective.

She was a sort-of CEO under daddy's watchful eye, and she was a largely unsuccessful politician, leaving no lasting mark beyond a scandal.

So she is hardly qualified to offer advice in these matters.

And the advice she does offer is Newt Gingrich a la 1992.

Not impressive.

Again the formula of out of industry into government and back into industry is one for even more inappropriate influence by special interests.

CBC SPENDS A LARGE SUM ON 75TH ANNIVERSARY PUBLICITY - SUCCEEDING ONLY IN REMINDING US WHAT WE'VE LOST

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

I wouldn't have minded the expense had there been something genuinely to celebrate.

Instead such occasions only remind one of how far CBC has fallen.

And in doing this, current senior management has made a terrible strategic mistake, having partially or fully alienated its traditional listeners and supporters.

No one can doubt that the dark bulk we call prime minister is going after CBC eventually.

Why would the man who does things like end the Wheat Board without farmers' approval or destroy the gun registry (against general public support) or end public support of election costs hesitate?

The man has a tyrant's mindset, and he is quietly dedicated to turning Canada into a pathetic imitation of the United States by virtue of a 39.6% mandate - which is to say, by virtue of no mandate at all, but a purely technical victory in our flawed election system.

CBC's current senior management has managed to destroy a good deal of what was valued by listeners while not really succeeding in gaining a hoped-for huge new audience.

How else could it be, stuffing dull mediocrities like Jian Ghomeshi, Evan Solomon, or George Stroumboulopoulos down our throats? Or playing the low end of popular music in a desperate effort to gain young listeners? Or its repeated wading up to its armpits in favoritism and nepotism, while mouthing stuff about prejudice of various kinds? Nepotism is prejudice of the most blatant kind.
CBC has no hope of being a hugely popular network, unless, that is, it just becomes like other networks, in which case, there is no case for keeping it.

It should be a showcase for Canada's best in ideas, conversation, music, the arts, and comedy, and that necessarily means an appeal that is quite different than all the commercial networks. Not everyone wants to listen to the best, just like not everyone likes the opera or the ballet, but it should be there for anyone who is interested.

Monday, December 26, 2011

OBAMA PROMISES TO EXERT AMERICA'S POWER IN THE PACIFIC - A DIRECT THREAT TO CHINA - SOME PERSPECTIVE ON THIS IDIOCY

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY PAUL KORING IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

America's establishment is working hard to repeat the scenario of WWII in the Pacific.

Japan was never going to attack the U.S. but after a long period of harassment, trade restrictions, and threats, Japan decided it had no choice.

This is going to become the most dangerous and fearful effort facing Canada's current younger generation's time.

And it is completely unnecessary, just as was America's holocaust in Vietnam where about 3 million people were slaughtered to maintain America's presence in Asia.

Obama is just as much a creature of America's military-industrial complex as George Bush or Ronald Reagan.
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"Our US friends should understand that military outreach costs money, and today the US has little of it."

Yes, but you forget that the United States, having the privilege of the world's reserve currency, is in a unique position financially.

It has abused, and will continue to abuse, the nations around the world holding its currency.
It will continue inflating gradually or it may at some point devalue.

In either case, America will leave dollar holders around the world "holding the bag,” no different in any respect than a conscienceless fraudster like Bernard Madoff.

So not only does it promote war and violence, it cheats everyone to pay for its stupidity.

That is precisely how the immensely costly and pointless war in Vietnam was paid for.

I am only sorry that most people do not have a grasp of this reality which allows America to behave as an unlimited fool in world affairs.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

HARPER MIGHT HAVE BEEN EXPECTED TO RELAX THE BULLYING WITH A MAJORITY - REFLECTIONS ON TYRANNICAL MINDS AND DEMOCRATIC WEAKNESS OF CANADA'S PARLIAMENT

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

Yes, you might well have thought that.

But recall Richard Nixon's behavior for his second election.

As anyone knew then, he pretty well (sadly) had being re-elected a certainty.

His opponent was one of the most honorable men ever to run for the presidency, but being honorable in America is little more than a sign of weakness to many: it is, after all, a country organized and administered on principles of Social Darwinism.

So despite the near-certainty of a win, Richard Nixon had a gang of thugs doing break-ins, smear-jobs, and was seeking secret contributions by the sack-full. The White House was staffed up with unpleasant men ready to do anything for their leader.

He ended, of course, by ending his own presidency.

The general frame of mind of Richard Nixon at that time is a close parallel to Harper's today.
There are the clearest elements of paranoia, immense anger, relish for frat-boy dirty tricks, and a tendency towards monomania - all the stuff we saw with Richard Nixon and stuff we've seen again with the likes of a Newt Gingrich or Tom Delay.

Harper is a genuinely sick puppy.

Sometimes it happens that people who were known as narrow ideologues do rise to the office to which they are elected or appointed (in the case of judges), but not this kind of unbalanced personality.

I'm afraid so long as Harper holds his office we will continue to see Canadian political traditions of decency and ethical behavior eroded.
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"Autocracy verging on dictatorship..... Don't agree? Just wait and watch!"


Indeed.

But the fault is also in a political system where a man of Harper's unpleasant character, once given a technical majority 39.6% of the vote, can pretty well do anything, if he is so inclined.

We have not suffered from this serious flaw in our political structure before only because we have not been so unfortunate to have a man of Harper's almost demonic personality in office.

Canada suffers from a democratic deficit as serious as that of many other countries one does not normally associate with the goodwill Canada has enjoyed internationally for decades.

Harper of course also realizes that his opposition is divided hopelessly, and he will take the fullest advantage of that fact.

Tyrannical-oriented personalities always have used the principle of "divide and conquer" in their governing. Hitler ran the Third Reich by creating a whole series of competing fiefdoms whose chiefs endlessly squabbled, having recourse only to Hitler himself, floating as it were above the ugly turmoil.

It is an effective method, at least for a time, if your concern is not with the people of a country but with your personal rule.

I'm certainly not suggesting any relationship between Harper and Hitler - only the parallel of the way a power-driven dark personality operates to hold power.

Well, the Liberal Party handed Harper this situation on a platter. Twice they turned down a very intelligent and effective politician, Bob Rae, on the basis that there were bad memories in Ontario of aspects of his premiership but also on the basis of a genuinely stupid effort by some back-room boys to parachute Michael Ignatieff into the leadership, a man of almost unparalleled political ineptitude.

Now they've given Bob Rae the job (temporarily), but it is a hopeless way to give someone a big job: the party is in pathetic shape, Rae looks without genuine support, and he is just that much older.

Jack Layton's magnificent triumph in Quebec was in large part because the Liberals had Ignatieff hopelessly droning and sputtering. Quebec always admires genuinely eloquent men: just look at the record of leaders in the PQ or the BQ, some of the greatest firebrand speakers of our time.

So Harper's current position is almost more an accident than a personal achievement, but here is a man whose dark animal cunning will seize every advantage he can from the luck of the draw.

ON CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS' DEATH

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

A brave man indeed, and a devilishly clever one.

I much regretted his views on Iraq, but I admire still his ability to criticize with a sharp tongue the many absurdities of the human condition.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

OLEAGINOUS AND DISHONEST MINISTER JASON KENNEY FORBIDS THE NIQAB AT CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES - A WORD ON CANADA'S NOT-QUITE SECULAR NATURE

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

A READER WRITES:

"We are a secular Nation, church and state must always be separate. Ban the veil. A citizenship ceremony is a State function..."

That's actually quite inaccurate.

The writer thinks he lives in the United States apparently.

This province spends countless millions each year on Catholic education, an unthinkable arrangement in the United States.

Until quite recently, the Lord's Prayer was a regular part of public schools and many formal gatherings.
Being a secular humanist, I do not favor such practices, but I also recognize the past political compromises they represent in a country which does not have founding documents so uncompromising as America's.

I ask whether Sikhs must remove their turbans and other symbols for this ceremony?

And Jews their yarmulke, or in the case of ultra-orthodox, their huge hats and beards which effectively cover faces and even lips?

Are nuns required not to wear habits if they belong to an order still using one?

Are Protestants required to remove the cross on a chain often worn around their necks? Helena Guergis used to march around with a rather large one. I don't recall any objections.

The writer simply does not know what he is talking about.

But then neither does the minister, Jason Kenney.

The proudest garb any of us can wear is tolerance, but it seems to be in short supply these days.

MARGARET WENTE CALLS DURBAN CONFERENCE THEATRE OF THE ABSURD : SHE'S RIGHT FOR ONCE BUT NOT THE WAY SHE INTENDED

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

Yes, it was Theatre of the Absurd.

Peter Kent blubbering about things he doesn't even understand, embarrassing himself and our country before the world.

And all those tell-tale photos of Peter, red-faced and strained.

I'm sure he was seriously getting into the sauce each night, alone in his hotel room, re-living in his mind how he embarrassed himself that day.

The only dignified act possible for this shabby little man is to resign.

But we all know that's not on, don't we? Incompetents in big jobs always hang on to every rank and privilege to which their undeserved office entitles them.

Helena Guergis had to be thrown out the door, didn't she?

Oh, and let's not forget that this absurd little man, when Junior Minister of Nothing, almost declared war for Israel on behalf of 34 million Canadians.

That lunatic outburst would have got him fired in any normal government as completely out of order and a potential danger to the country.

Instead in Harperland, it got him promoted to enjoy full ministerial privileges and all the expense-account booze he can possibly drink.

Monday, December 12, 2011

PALESTINIANS DON’T EXIST: NEWT GINGRICH’S IGNORANT COMMENT DURING A DEBATE – ISRAEL’S INAPPROPRIATE INFLUENCE ON U.S. – FACTS ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST’S HISTORY – MYTHS MIXED IN POLICY

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

Gingrich reaches new levels of the ridiculous here, reminding me a bit of the time some years ago when apologists for Israel insisted no one should use the accepted term, suicide-bomber, inducing George Bush to give a speech in which he used the non-existent term, homicide-bombers. Of course, it sounded ridiculous, but no more so than much of what George Bush said.

Gingrich has always, always been a two-faced politician, a slimy manipulator, and a man who has served various special interests for a large enough wad of money.

Here he claims what is, is not.

Even the Bible speaks of the Philistines, albeit with a negative perspective.

And why does he do this?

To attract large campaign donations from The Lobby.

There is no other explanation, because Gingrich has always been a man of shallow and rather easily altered convictions.

What an absurd business to inject into the political debate in America, especially considering here is a nation with scores of serious problems, but that's what a politician without ethics is willing to do.
And one has to believe The Lobby is desperate to the point of insanity to invite this kind of garbage.

The world is becoming totally disillusioned with Israel: its behavior is consistently aggressive, unethical, and malevolent, and no ignorant, shallow words from Newt Gingrich or anyone else is going to convince them that what they see daily is not the truth.

Israel's credibility with people all over the world keeps falling, and indeed has not much further down to go.

All that rather than just make peace and treat its neighbors with respect. It does say something very unpleasant about Israel that no blind insistence by manipulated American politicians can overcome
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". . . despite what some folks say, it turns out that Christians are VERY open-minded. Doing whatever you want is perfectly OK with them ... as long as once in awhile you say that you've sinned but have now -- SHAZAM ! like MAGIC ! -- been forgiven by God."

It's an aspect of one of America's favorite continuing themes: eternal youth and being born again.
Redemption is a concept repeated in America to the point of being sickening, day after day.

You can do anything - and Newt has done some disgusting stuff - and have redemption.
The popular culture is replete with stories of drunken or drugged hillbilly singers who find redemption, along with endless tedious stories of sports figures and politicians.

There's always a new prospect for everyone so long as they just believe.


Believe in what?

Essentially believe that you are special, going to live forever, and truly cannot do anything wrong.
By the way, Newt is not just a serial adulterer, one of his egregious stupidities was announcing to his past wife, dying in a bed of cancer, that he was divorcing her.

Doesn't that just say something profound about this man's character? I do believe we are dealing with a psychopath here, a relatively mild one but a psychopath.
That being understood, how easy for him to deeply cut and hurt millions of people already suffering decades of abuse from his campaign-fund paymaster.
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"...Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein. Here's what he said:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity."

What an abysmal comment.

First, how in God's name can you honestly quote one man as representing the truth on so profound a matter and speaking for millions of people? You cannot.

You might as well quote Mordechai Vanunu on the nature of Israel.

You are just repeating an immensely tiresome and deeply dishonest idea that Jordan is where Palestinians belong.

Jordan does not want millions of Palestinians.

Millions of Palestinians do not want Jordan.

No, the Palestinians just want the homes and farms they have resided in for centuries and centuries.
And they don't want the migrants from Europe and America who pretty well define the establishment of Israel stealing any more of their homes and farms.

And what does Israel and apologists for Israel's abuse, like yourself, want?

To ethnically-cleanse millions of people, stealing all their homes and farms.

In a futile effort to make that palatable, you spew nonsense like this about there being no Palestinians.

The existing apartheid situation in Israel and occupied Palestine is only intended by Israel's establishment as a temporary one, intended to make these poor people get up and go from endless abuse and deprivation.

Go where? Go anywhere so long as it is not in the territory of what has now become that malevolent fantasy of Greater Israel.

As all apologists for Israel's abuse, you conveniently forget that all the countries of the Middle East, including Jordan, have no long history, but that does not render any of them invalid.

The shape of the modern Middle East arose out of matters like the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the imperial adventures of Britain and France.

And the bottom-line truth is that all nationalism is pretty much a child of the 19th century. National states, as we know them today, virtually did not exist before then.

Europe and other parts of the world were divided into princedoms and empires everywhere, entities which included a polyglot of languages, religions, and ethnic identities - the Austro-Hungarian Empire being perhaps the most obvious example with its Germans, Tyroleans, Italians, Hungarians, and many others.

Nationalism is almost a virus that infected Europe in the 19th century with the idea that Germany should be for German-speakers and Italy for Italian-speakers, etc.

We saw where that virus led: in the limit, Hitler's Reich with its absurd racial theories is where blind nationalism goes.

The early Zionists were infected with exactly the virus of nationalism sweeping Europe, and today in few places of the world is there a more backward-looking sense of identity than in Israel.
Israel for Jews. No room for others.

That sounds terrifyingly familiar.
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"It seems that the Jews of modern Israel are the invented people; not the Palestinians.”

Indeed.

A fine Israeli academic has written a serious and scholarly book on the Jewish people and Israel's identity.

Everyone concerned about the Middle East should read it.

You'll find my book review here:

http://chuckmanmiscellanea.blogspot.com/2011/10/review-of-shlomo-sands-invention-of.html


But even were the findings of this research to prove inaccurate, there still would be no excuse for Israel's abuse and oppression.
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“ Clearly, the anti-Israel posters here have no real notion of the history of the region and are simply parroting Palestinian talking points."

I would be willing to match my knowledge of the region's background with you or any other apologist here for Israel's interests.

There is nothing more intellectually dishonest than repeating endlessly the same technically true but trite observation, an observation which is meaningless.

Again, no country in the Middle East has less historical basis than Israel, a place largely founded and governed by Europeans and Americans.

And modern scholarship seriously questions whether these founders and rulers even have any legitimate connection with the place called Israel because they are likely not descendants of the ancient Hebrews.

The Palestinian people most likely include most of the direct descendants of the ancient Hebrews.

The Romans were known not to throw all the population out of their conquests, and there is no record of them doing so despite the modern notion that the Jews have been wanderers since being thrown out.

Both the Biblical stories and some Jewish notions of ancient history we know to be incorrect.

There is for instance no record - and this among some of the world's great past record-keepers, the Egyptians - of Israelis being enslaved or even living in Egypt.

Moses is an Egyptian-origin name, not Hebrew.

And somehow or other I have doubts about Jonah living in the whale.

You don't base boundaries and world affairs on myths and superstitions, but if you do you get just the kind of mess we see today in Israel.

A COLUMNIST WRITES, RATHER ABSURDLY, OF ISREAL’S LIBERAL VALUES BEING STOMPED OVER – THE TRUE NATURE OF LIBERALISM – SAUDI ARABIA’S SECRET RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY SHIRA HERZOG IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

Liberal values?

In Israel?

Which values would those be?

Assassinating anyone the state pleases?

Attacking anyone the state pleases?

Keeping about 4 million people in virtual bondage?

Stealing other people's homes and farms on a weekly basis?

Please, this is a silly way to write.

There are a small number of decent, liberal-minded people in Israel - people like Urey Avnery - but they do not in anyway characterize that society as a whole.

Indeed, they are treated often as outcasts or traitors.
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"Somehow zandoli claims that Israel and Saudi Arabia are allies. This must be some strange form of distributive property applied to countries.
"It's almost like saying that because Canada and Cuba have cordial relations so does the us and Cuba based."

If you cared to inform yourself, you'd know that behind the scenes Israel and Saudi Arabia cooperate closely on a number of matters.

This is of course kept from the public or the Saudi dynasty would be toppled.

The U.S. plays a key role in the relationship.

By the way, Israel - despite its phony stuff about being the only democracy in the Middle east - has always best loved cooperative tyrants in neighboring lands. It was great pals with Mubarak in Egypt and was rattled by his fall.

Indeed, that is why the military in Egypt is taking so long to bring reform, the U.S. closely watching on Israel's behalf that nothing too radical happens (for "radical" read "democratic").

Israel had some good connections with Gaddafi too, and it loves the King of Jordan.

Israel is about as far as it gets from liberal values as a society, but it loves playing the hypocritical game of blubbering about democracy while secretly pushing the United States to suppress it in the region.
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"Liberal values desperately need to be stomped on."


We see several ignorant comments resembling the one above.

They all have in common a clear lack of understanding of what the word "liberal" means.

Liberal does not mean left wing, except in the vituperative and hateful politics of the United States.

Liberal is a very old and honorable term having to do with belief in democratic values and human rights. It is associated too with general concepts like open government, fair dealing, and, as a matter of fact, free trade.

There is a long record of liberalism in Western society which involves many great people, most of them not of "the left."

Thomas Jefferson was regarded as a genuine liberal in his day, and yet Thomas Jefferson today is the godfather of the American Right Wing.

In the poisonous political atmosphere of the United States, the word has been abused much the way puritans used the term "papists."

Yet, there is a grain of truth in their vituperation because people like Gingrich, Palin, Delay, Bush, Cheney and others of the extreme right are not genuine friends of democratic values or human rights.

Those kinds of establishment types have always cosied up to tyrants and dictators who were agreeable to America's notions of how things should be run.

The postwar record of the United States includes countless coups and interventions, many against democratic governments, and friendship with a host of brutes from the Shah to Pinochet and Marcos and Ceausescu and Thieu and Suharto.

And that record is the result of the very people who vilify the word "liberal' and ignorantly associate it with "left wing."

CANADA’S PATHETIC MINISTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT AT THE DURBAN CONFERENCE, PETER KENT – A PRETEND MINISTER APPOINTMENTED TO WHAT STEPHEN HARPER THINKS OF AS A PRETEND MINISTRY

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

"Canada is blaming China for being “obstructionist” on a climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.'

I read a number of newspapers each day, and it could not be clearer that China has demonstrated a new and exceptional willingness to cooperate on climate change, indeed, even indicated a willingness to lead.

Peter Kent, know-nothing pretend minister for a pretend portfolio, already has made a fool of himself at the conference.

So now what does he do? Why of course he attacks China, thinking he has killed two birds with one stone.

The "two birds" are finding someone else to blame for his own inept and embarrassing performance as well as reverting to that favorite of ignorant Cold Warriors, China as the "yellow peril."
Kent is incompetent, utterly.

China right now is doing more on climate change - everything from experimental power stations and other technologies to being the world's chief producer of solar panels - than Canada could even dream of doing.

Given their status as a country that only began emerging from third-world status thirty years ago, they absolutely put us to shame on this matter, and Canadians should realize that on a per capita basis - the only fair way to look at it - China is responsible for only a fraction of Canada's emissions.
This performance of Kent's reminds me strongly of Peter MacKay's whiny-baby performance in Parliament over his abuse of helicopters for private use.

Meanwhile Canada proceeds with the world's filthiest energy project, the tar sands - truly filthy by every measurement, not just carbon emissions - happily ignoring the consequences.
You truly could pull some people off the street and get some better-performing and more thoughtful ministers than this sad lot of Harper's.

By the time Harper is ready to pick up his pension, he will have wrecked Canada's international reputation on every possible front.

NEW BORDER DEAL BETWEEN CANADA AND AMERICA – WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA AT THIS TIME – AMERICA’S DECLINE INTO A POLICE STATE

POSTED COMMENT TO AN EDITORIAL IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

America is well on its way to being a police state, and it is as this disturbing development occurs that our misguided government has opened us to the lack of privacy and the very different way of treating people which is the American way.

What other so-called democratic society sends men to be tortured abroad? What other democratic society has the secret police (the FBI) able to check up on what citizens have been reading? What other democratic society has such a huge portion of its people in prisons?

What other democratic society has been cited over and over for extreme police brutality by international organizations like Amnesty International? What other democratic society is carrying out a massive program of extrajudicial killings in at least six countries?

Our press goes on about leaders like Putin or Gaddafi, but America's last president killed more innocent people than any of them, and its current one is working hard on the same goal despite his meaningless peace prize.

This agreement is a very saddening development, but then almost everything happening or being promised to happen under Harper is more than a little saddening.

A man with 39.6% of the vote is ripping apart Canadian institutions and traditions and blackening our international reputation as a decent society, busy aping the United States in many of its most backward works.

Talk about a democratic deficit: we have a very serious one and stand in need of genuine parliamentary election reform.

PUTIN COMMENTS ON AMERICAN INTERFERENCE IN RUSSIA’S PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS – REFLECTIONS ON AMERICAN INTERFERENCE ABROAD – THE COMPLETE NASTINESS OF HILLARY CLINTON IN HER OLD AGE

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

Putin is right.

The United States knows no limits anymore to its interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

Just imagine the shoe on the other foot.

When it was even suspected that China might have filtered campaign money through to her husband, there was all the belly-over-the-belt crowd snorting about sacred American elections.

It's enough to make an honest person puke.

The United States establishment hates Putin precisely because he is clever and effective.

They would much rather see the spectacle of a drunken clown like Yeltsin and a people languishing in a great depression.

That is precisely why - after decades of Cold War and trillions spent on "defense" - the United States did almost nothing at the time to help Russia, despite pleas from countries like Germany who extended billions in aid.

Mrs Clinton is a rather sickening figure anymore, always on the wrong, always making the wrong arguments, and always serving the imperial interests of America's bloated establishment.
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"Putin and others like him are a good reason why Canada could never invest in Russia's fighter jets even though they are very capable and cost effective. Saving 30 million per plane is worthless if Putin decides he doesn't like us anymore and witholds [sic] spares and upgrades.”

That is an uninformed comment.

As though the U.S. hasn't on many occasions in many countries withheld spares.

And please, John Diefenbaker only destroyed Canada's Avro Arrow project, one of the world's most advanced planes at the time, chopping up every last plane, owing to pressure from the United States over competition in high-performance aircraft sales.

Sadly, he buckled to the pressure, but the United States being such a dominant economy has many ways to make you suffer for failing to toe the line.

CBC’S DECLINING STANDARDS – FURTHER COMMENT – CBC’S FATE UNDER THE HARPERITES – CBC’S INTELLECTUAL SUICIDE

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

In the past, CBC could have counted me as a voice against Conservative cuts.

While I was no great admirer of CBC's television efforts - with a handful of exceptions - I considered the radio something special indeed
.
But current management at CBC has chosen to dumb-down the radio network horribly, and I cannot defend what is no longer special.

Yes, there still are some very special people on the radio - Bill Richardson, Robert Harris, Eleanor Wachtel, Bob McDonald, Bernard St-Laurent, Rita Celli, Michael Enright, and a few others presenting the kind of material no commercial station would present - but there is now also a vast wasteland of insipid new programming.

And the roll call of the remaining genuinely talented people includes mainly people not far from retirement. We can only expect their shoes to be filled by more droning mediocrity under CBC's existing management.

CBC Radio will never capture the "younger" audience with a dollop of pop music and younger faces, but it sure has alienated past CBC supporters with the loss of quality and authenticity.
If CBC doesn't represent the nation's best and most articulate and intelligent, what does it represent? Mush seems to be the answer, sadly.

Jian Ghomeshi is a pop record promoter pretending to be an intellectual, a person with a not-very-interesting mind, poor judgement in many areas, and, no matter how hard he tries, a mediocre interviewer with his lack of perceptive intelligence.

Evan Solomon's very voice is droning and annoying - he has none of the talents or vast store of knowledge of the people he replaced. He's a plodder with a raspy voice.

Matt Galloway is the best by far of a bad lot - a clearly sympathetic and decent man whose care about his city comes through, but he still cannot conduct an interesting interview, and his choice in music is bizarre to say the least.

Julie Nesrallah is a perky person who does know something about music, but she talks in teenage-silly-girl terms, almost sounding like a Valley Girl at times - not my idea of a great presenter of classical music.

The radio news anymore contains grammatical errors and often reflects poor judgment in the stories presented and how they are presented. Little real reporting is heard, just some young person on the scene making generalizations he or she might have made without the travel expenses. The questions in the listener's mind are so obvious at times, you just wonder how they did not occur to an editor or reporter.

The quality CBC should represent increasingly just is not there.

ONTARIO'S PROPOSED LAW ON SCHOOL BULLIES GIVING SCHOOLS MORE POWER TO DISCIPLINE - BULLIES AND PARENTS - PARENT VERSUS PEER INFLUENCE - BULLY TEACHERS

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

I support the idea.

However, the main problem with bullying has always been teachers and administrators who do not pay attention to what's happening under their noses and are reluctant to step in when they do see something.

Schools are communities, and the authorities of the communities are the adults. Children look to them for safety, but in so many cases today they look in vain.

The anti-bully programs with slogans and videos and t-shirts we have today are little more than a way for administrators to cover their behinds. Window dressing.

Maybe the legislation will change the situation somewhat.

Of course, there are more than a few teachers who themselves are bullies, but you just try getting anything done about them. Impossible.

I do hope the generally spineless McGuinty sticks to this, but in view of past efforts, I'm not hopeful.
We had zero-tolerance on violence - a good thing for the safety of the entire school community - but as soon as one ethnic group found its students in trouble more than others, the policy was dropped like a hot potato.

Yelling prejudice about stats is a pretty sad way to destroy a good policy.
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"Bullies learn from their closest role models - their parents."
I don't think that is accurate.

First, every serious study ever done shows clearly children's closest role models are their playmates and peers.

Parents, despite their many hopes and pretensions, have remarkably little influence outside of supplying the necessities of life and a relatively safe place.

I'm sure the parents play a role, but I'm convinced that role is largely through genetic endowment.
Time after time, we find the parents, or at least one parent, of bullies are themselves bullies.

That fact has a lot to do with the school authorities being so reluctant and irresponsible in taking a bully child on: the results will be a confrontation with bully parents, and in our education system today, parents who make lots of noise are paid attention to.

We must remember that all the principals and superintendents and others administering public education are themselves teachers - many of them teachers who just wanted to get out of the classroom and all of them people who never rocked the boat.

It is a perfectly closed system, guaranteed to produce the results we see.

So while expectations of parents are important, expectations of the very teachers who are in the schoolyards, halls, gyms, and classrooms have to become a whole lot higher with regard to tolerating abuse.

Holding parents legally responsible is just passing the buck, and almost certainly leads to further abuse at home by bully parents - not a solution helpful to society.

We must provide mechanisms to support, and indeed demand, the removal of genuine bullies from the regular schools. I say genuine bullies because just about all children sometimes tease or call names, something which must be corrected by authorities but equally something that does not identify a genuine bully.

A real bully is someone who enjoys inflicting discomfort on others - doing so is a basic part of his or her personality. It likely is a mild form of sadism or psychopathy, or, in some cases, not so mild.
When such people are identified, they really need to be removed from the general school population, and we must provide special, tougher disciplined schools suitable for them.

None of this removes the basic responsibility from teachers and administrators. They must correct all the children just indulging in the taunts and teasing most children engage in at some stage, and they must identify the genuine hard cases which need to be removed from the general population.

Anything less solves nothing. McGuinty's ridiculous 1-800 number to report bullying is a costly administrative nightmare, useful to no one. It is just a way to cover his behind. If the authorities inside a school are already ignoring their responsibilities, what is the use of a report form from an anonymous telephone call center in Bangalore India, or indeed anywhere else?

Absolutely nothing. It's just busy-work to defuse a problem.

So unless you are prepared to support genuine reform, holding school authorities responsible for what happens under their noses and giving them the authority to act, this problem will continue forever, only becoming larger with a growing population.
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"I am a teacher and unfortunately, many of the teachers that I have worked with throughout my career have been bullies. We need to address bullying from the very top down--including administration, as many of them are bullies, too..."

Indeed.

We've all known them, bully teachers, but what is anyone to do about them?
A teacher pretty well has to be caught stealing or committing sexual abuse to be dismissed.

I can still remember the names of a couple of genuine bully teachers more than fifty years after experiencing them - a good measure of their bad effect.

Virtually all other inappropriate behavior, as well as downright incompetence, is tolerated and protected in our public schools much as pedophile priests have been protected by the Catholic Church for ages.

The teachers' union protects the day-to-day creeps who do not reach such excesses as theft and sexual abuse, but still make many children miserable through their careers and teach them little worth teaching.

This issue of bullying is very interesting, opening as it does, the whole set of issues confronting public education.

Serious reform is one of our greatest needs in society.

AMERICA'S KILLING OF PAKISTAN'S TROOPS - FACTS ON AFGHAN BORDER - AMERICA'S CAVALIER RECORD OF KILLING NON-COMATANTS

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

Your headline on this story is dishonest, as is so often the case with stories about America's endless colonial wars.

It wasn't NATO that shot up these troops.

It was the United States.

But the U.S. is always so cowardly that it attributes all its ugly actions to NATO.

The fact is that NATO is only in Afghanistan with what, by all reasonable standards, is a token force: seven hundred here, two thousand there, etc - and almost all in non-combat roles.

Only the U.S. keeps 100,000 heavily armed troops and a large air force in Afghanistan.
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"Forty million Pashtuns have been freely moving across the British-imposed border for hundreds of years..."

Precisely.

Despite American question-begging of the matter, there is not and never has been a true border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Durand Line was set by colonial Britain as a temporary measure, one to be reviewed and changed if appropriate a hundred years later. But that has never happened.

The Pushtu people have every right by ancient practices to move about the way they do.

The United States, today's great bully to the world, insists there is something evil in their movement.
The only thing evil there is the United States' occupation and continued abuse of a people who have done nothing but live their hardscrabble lives and defend themselves against the army that a few decades back bombed and napalmed an estimated three million Vietnamese for the sin of embracing the wrong political party.

The entire business is insanity, and how very sad that United States' politics are so corrupt and venomous that smiling peace-prize winner Obama has become every bit the mass killer George Bush was.
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"US has quite a history of mistakes - in addtion to the mistake in killing Canadians in Afghanistan one should also recall the Reuters incident in Iraq..."

Yes, and there's so much more. U.S. soldiers on a number of occasions murdered al Jazeerah correspondents in Iraq, almost the only press trying to tell the truth.

U.S. troops also murdered a brave Italian intelligence officer who had managed to free a captive Italian journalist, one not liked by the American military because her tendency to be truthful.

It is only a quiet history because the press cooperates with the Pentagon to consistently play events down and avoid the hard language which is appropriate.

Yes, there was the killing of Canadians, but there has been so very, very much more stupid, pointless killing by American forces.

Whole families wiped out.

Wedding parties attacked.

Trucks full of village officials bombed.

Not to say anything of the endless assaults by special forces troops banging on house doors, tossing in stun grenades, and holding women and children at gunpoint while they march off husbands and brothers for torture .

And never forget the disappearance of 3,000 American prisoners early in the war: they were taken out in sealed truckloads by an American warlord-ally and allowed to suffocate in the desert, their bodies dumped into mass graves in the middle of nowhere.

And that atrocity came within a very short time of Rumsfeld yelling about all the Taleban prisoners ought to be walled away for life or executed.

The Afghanistan war is the work of a well-armed bully, and it has nothing whatever to do with rights or freedoms or democracy.

The bully was determined for revenge on a crime that Taleban were not even responsible for. The bully as humiliated because some desperate men succeeded in a large suicide assault on America's precious soil.

And the bully ignorantly thinks he can remake a society of 30 million people living under ancient customs and a poor economy.

It will never happen, but so long as the bully insists on trying, lots of innocent people will die for nothing.

I'm not even sure that that is true: the bully actually just doesn't know what to do with Afghanistan, apart from killing, killing, and more killing.

There is no justification for the entire ugly business.