Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Made in China

"A new survey shows that 1 in 5 Americans believe that God steers the economy. Mystery solved: God is Chinese."
 ---Conan O'Brien
 "Chinese President Hu Jintao had dinner at the White House with President Obama and first lady Michelle. They were going to exchange gifts from the two countries, but unfortunately everything in our country is now made in their country, so they couldn't do any exchanging."
Jay Leno
“I want to have a bunch of kids so I can open a factory and have free labor. Beat that, China!”
Jarod Kintz
“China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese. ”
Charles de Gaulle 

“Most imports are from outside of the country”

  ― George W. Bush

Just finished cutting my toenails. Started off using a very attractive manicure set in a leather case that has 'Roots' printed on the case. Roots is a very prestigious and successful Canadian company that manufactures clothing products and sells them through over 200 Roots stores scattered throughout the world. Each tool in my manicure set has Roots clearly marked on one side but China discretely marked on the other. The tools proved to be useless. The clippers don't open up properly and the cutting  edges are dull. In short, it is crap and a toe is bleeding as I write this. We had for many years a manicure set made in Germany and everything worked, but I doubt that the Germans make these anymore. The boutiques and the open markets here in France are filled with Chinese goods. Unemployment is high because we helped to improve the profits of French businesses by closing up their factories so that they could buy things more cheaply from China to sell in their stores and now my Chinese made underwear has the seams falling apart. Chinese tourism is up so some good will come from all of this. 

And lets accept the fact that the Chinese are a highly intelligent people with education a top priority and are now producing many high quality products at very competitive prices. After all, they now make high speed trains and can put toy sized vehicles on the moon, just like the Americans do. It is only a matter of time before they make manicure sets that meet German quality standards.

But why in hell is there such a rush in North America and Europe to throw our workers out of a job by scrapping our factories and small workshops to seek a Chinese Nirvana? Who makes these decisions for us? In North America Walmart, the largest retailer in America has made the Waltons the richest family in America by buying most of what they sell from China and paying their American employees poverty level wages. They are leaders in vacuuming manufacturing jobs out of the country. Fortunately Walmart doesn't blight the landscape in Europe because their labour practices are unacceptable, but we do suffer from some of the same disease here. I don't blame the Chinese who are quite reasonable in wanting to sell everything they grow and make; I blame our sappy politicians who pave the way to support our business leaders and bankers in their devout (and very profitable) rush into unregulated Globalization. Let's face it, if we raise our unemployment we do save a few pennies for those who have a job or are clipping coupons, and who cares about our neighbours anyway. 

I guess in all fairness to our stock brokers, business owners and conservative politicians it stuffs their pockets with easy money if companies like Apple join the rush to hand over their businesses ( and the technology that goes with it) to the Chinese. Its like winning the lottery.

I just wonder what the wise Chinese think about us for this Lemming-like behaviour.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Complacency! We Become Too Comfortable With What Is

 “All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.”
Noam Chomsky"

“Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.”
Mae West

“Why do I do anything?' she says. 'I'm educated enough to talk myself out of any plan. To deconstruct any fantasy. Explain away any goal. I'm so smart I can negate any dream.”
Chuck Palahniuk,

Once conform, once do what others do, and a kind of lethargy steals over all other senses of the soul
- Michel de Montaigne
Once conform, once do what others do because they do it, and a kind of lethargy steals over all the finer senses of the soul.


Once conform, once do what others do because they do it, and a kind of lethargy steals over all the finer senses of the soul.

Once conform, once do what others do because they do it, and a kind of lethargy steals over all the finer senses of the soul.

Once conform, once do what others do because they do it, and a kind of lethargy steals over all the finer senses of the soul.

When you are in a steady job or securely retired you are likely to become too comfortable with what is. You might whine a bit about local problems in your community but you just adjust. It is an easy lethargy. The common comment of friends and neighbours is, "Why waste your time trying to rock the boat because you are powerless to do anything. Just get on with enjoying your life". It reflects a conservative philosophy of the financially secure avoiding unpleasant issues, respecting authority and self preservation by accepting what is.

  • It explains why the so many are complacent less likely to vote in local elections. "Rob Ford (mayor of Toronto) is a liar and a incompetent drunk lacking any vision for the city, but he keeps the taxes low, is a political conservative like our Prime Minister and shares many of the conservative beliefs of my family and neighbours. Why change anything?"

  • It explains why conservatives dislike demonstrations in the streets, no matter what the cause. "It's because they are noisy and disruptive, hold up rude signs, block traffic, are disrespectful of law and order and our flag, and set a bad example for kids. They always want to change something but I like everything the way it is" 
  •  It confirms why conservatives support a grossly overpriced and  unworkable euro that benefits a productive Germany and the wealthy few throughout Europe but assigns many of the citizens of southern European nations to a life of unemployment and poverty. But the few wealthy can say "I can still afford my Mercedes so  we need to manage this unrest by accepting   some German generosity to ease the pain. And don't revalue the currency because it will diminish my wealth!" Live with what is! For ten years we have tinkered with it while Southern Europeans suffer from staggering levels of unemployment and a bleak future. We live with what is to no effect when it is obvious that Germany should break off from the euro and return to the Deutschmark (as George Soros suggests) thus letting the rest of Europe take control of their destiny by settling on their own banking system with one or more competitive currencies that would encourage entrepreneurship and put people back to work.

I live in Narbonne, a city too small to hide its human problems. I meet daily on the street with normal citizens, the passing tourists, the shopkeepers, the unemployed, the beggars, and the physically and mentally impaired.   In large cities in Europe and North America with populations of several million you can live in secure sections of the city and only learn about the city's underbelly from the local newspapers and the TV. Complacency sets in as problems are hidden and we learn to accept as normal the economic conditions whatever they might be. We  live with what is. For example, what the employed public complacently accept as normal in parts of Southern Europe is a 25 to 50% youth unemployment rate whereas in Denmark normal is closer to maybe 5%. It  is just what is, and wherever we live we see what is as normal. 

With this prevailing attitude politicians whether, on the left or right, respond by tweaking the system and changes, if any, are minor, usually ineffectual and painless. We learn to live with what is

This attitude in part explains why we put off addressing universally threatening issues such as global climate change, the steadily widening  wealth gap in a once predominately middle class society that was the foundation of democracy, the acceptance of tax avoidance schemes, and the thievery of bankers gambling with the nations wealth.

The wake-up call happens when a disaster occurs that threatens the very survival of the financially secure as well as the destitute. Then a conservative tinkering with what is hits a brick wall. A strong leader is then needed who realizes tweaking will accomplish little and undertakes fundamental changes. Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle and Nelson Mandela are examples of brilliant and powerful leaders who understood this and realized that fundamental changes in direction and not simply tweaking 'what is'  had to happen.

Teddy Roosevelt
Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt as President broke up the large industrial and railroad monopolies , a defeat for JP Morgan and Wall Street. He was a man of many talents with no patience for living with what is; historian, naturist, Nobel Prize  winner, trust buster, adventurer, hunter and military leader (Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders). His face sits on Mt Rushmore along with Lincoln and Washington.

Franklin Roosevelt

 Franklin Delano Roosevelt assuming the Presidency at the height of the depression recognized that fundamental changes in the financial system had to be initiated. Nothing would be accomplished by tinkering with what is. He defied Wall Street and undertook a major change by passing the Banking Act of 1933 with it's Glass-Steagall component that separated commercial and investment banking, designed to wall off customer deposits from the risk-taking inherent in securities underwriting. This was followed by social legislation enacted between 1933 and 1938 known as the New Deal
He had no patience with the the foot dragging of Republicans determined to work within what is.

Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle recognized tweaking 'what is' following the 2nd World War would not resolve France's governing problems. He cleaned the slate with the 5th Republic thereby liberating the colonies and reforming an unworkable constitution. He also boldly announced that France would become a nuclear power with its own bomb. (interesting to note that Iran has currently made the same announcement but sacrificing the bomb)

Nelson Mandela was a young anti-apartheid revolutionary who (unprepared to live with what is) spent 27 years in jail for his beliefs. Pubic pressure gained his release and  joining negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk abolished apartheid, led the ANC to victory and became South Africa's first black president.
Nelson Mandela


To summarize, great leaders invariably recognize in times of crisis that they must take on the risk of battling for fundamental changes. Conservative opposition ( that always exists) by those protecting what is might be tolerated as a force but must not stand in the way of fundamental changes. 

The future,as in the present and past will build on what is, namely societies laws,cultural values and functioning institutions. It is vital however that leaders also recognize that many challenges will be facing the world in the future, both known and unknown, that cannot be handled by tweaking what is and new and fundamental solutions must be found. For example we know that the seas will rise and flood the coastal cities as the polar ice caps melt and massive amounts of methane will be released from the arctic seabeds. Building sea walls and dykes may help to slow the damage from what is but the solution may ultimately lie in reducing our dependency on carbon fuels and the wasteful energy consumption of a rapidly growing consumer society. 

At the time of Christ the world's population stood at about 250 million. In the next 20 years it will probably rise from the current 7.5 billion to about 10 billion, a 40 fold increase of  humans with 2 to 3 times the life span of their ancient ancestors. Our wasteful consumption is clearly negatively impacting on the climate and if current trends continue unabated it raises serious questions about human survival on many parts of this planet. Can the old governing systems with its short time cycle of four to five years to satiate immediate appetites successfully guide us through these challenges? I don't think so. We can tweak and build on what is but that won't be enough. We will need very different and more stable governing structures, new break through sciences and enlightened leadership with a vision of a distant future in order to address these more fundamental and critical long term survival issues. 

Globalization has created a grotesque integration of world banking systems, industrial enterprises and worst of all NATO that binds nations to interconnected commitments and limiting the freedom of individual nations to act. It is a system of sticking with what is and destroying those who don't. 

Can great leaders rise up from this or do we destroy them? Chavez and Castro failed, Dilma Rousseff Brazil's President is defiant and Vladimir Putin is attempting to lead Russia in a different direction, building alliances in the East and attempting to break the dollar monopoly, has stared no wars, does not spread his armies around the world , has intervened to stop America and Saudi Arabia from military interference in Syria and is understandingly opposed to the warlike NATO leaning against his borders.  For this the integrated forces of what is led by America declares Russia as an enemy that stands in the way of hegemonic power. 

Can great leaders to lead real change emerge in this globalized and highly integrated world or will the globalized forces to prevent it prevail? Will we remain accepting what is and avoid the critical decisions that will enable human life to survive on this planet? Wait and see.  


Monday, September 02, 2013

Vladimir Putin, a voice for sanity, update 03/2014

 Vladimir Putin Putin Meets With Merkel In Berlin

Why Putin Is Still so Popular in Russia

Russians seem to prefer a strong, authoritarian state to the weak government and economic chaos they experienced under Yeltsin. 

Putin, on the issue of Syria  has shown more integrity and wise judgement than the U.S. and French governments.

Many Westerners have a negative view of Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, because of the unjust portrayal he receives in the Western media. If one were to believe everything they saw in the American media, they would probably think Putin to be a ruthless dictator who was anointed by birth rather than a politician born into a working class family with approval ratings higher than all of his Western counterparts.
The Bilzerian Report

Update: March 26th 2014
Crimea by a popular vote overwhelmingly has declared its separation from the Ukraine and has joined with Russia. There are many precedents of this where a public elects to change allegiances. For example, Kosovo chose to separate from Serbia, The Czechs chose to separate from the Slovaks and Canada accepts the possibility that Quebec through a referendum would be allowed to separate from Canada.  The Americans are outraged because for years they have been using the Ukraine as a battering ram against Russia's borders with their construction of a missile shield while wooing Ukrainians with financial enticements to join the European economic community and with it the American inspired NATO and military alliances. Old 'Cold War' warriors are still looking for employment and some meaning in their useless lives.

The Ukraine is deeply divided with the largely Russian speaking people on the eastern border shared with Russia opposed to joining the EU and with many favouring the route taken by Crimeans, while on its western border they favour joining the EU. Orchestrated by the US, the weak European nations have leapt onto the bandwagon and are expressing their outrage at the will of Crimeans to join Russia. 

The noise and propaganda in the press is deafening as though we have all become like demented lemmings on a voyage of self destruction. Strong independent leaders like Degaulle, Helmut Schmidt and Willie Brandt have departed the scene and we now have the spectacle of the 'blanc mange' leadership in Brussels of Lady Catherine Ashton and José Barroso orchestrated by America's Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs.   As an extreme right wing ideologue under Cheney and Bush she led the charge into Iraq to bring about regime change and most recently upset Merkel by using the words F--- Europe! Clearly this Cold War warrior with her dealings in the Ukraine with unelected right wing corrupt politicians that includes in their midst disreputable anti Semites, Nazis and other known  right wing trash is intent on setting up regime change to install an American controlled  puppet government. No doubt undermining Putin is on her agenda.
Putin has been a consistent voice for sanity in the midst of this international rush to go off to war and has been using his influence aggressively to oppose unjust and internationally illegal wars. He opposed the war in Iraq and he was right. He opposed the killing of Gaddafi and the collapse of Tunisia and he was right. He opposes the sanctions and threats against Iran and he is right. He opposes the rush to war in Syria with scant evidence and unclear objectives and he is right. Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared ‘utter nonsense’ the idea that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons on its own people and called on the US to present its supposed evidence to the UN Security Council. He is right. He had every right to protect Snowden who had committed no crime and yet faced, like Manning, a lengthy prison sentence if returned to face US justice. Only through Putin has Snowden been able to express his views about NASA and the obstruction to the freedom of information. Listen to the TED series out of Vancouver to learn more about this. Obama has discovered he is dealing with an equal he can't push around and Putin is right and doesn't mind that Obama now refuses to meet with him.
What has he accomplished for the Russian people?

boris yeltsin photo: Boris Yeltsin BorisYeltsin1-1.jpgFirst a bit about his predecessor, Yeltsin:  Yeltsin became President in 1991 and  turned to the advice of Western economists, and Western institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Harvard experts, and the US Treasury Department, whose recipe became known as the "Washington Consensus" It was a disaster for Russia. The so-called reforms devastated the living standards of much of the population, Russia's GDP fell by 50 percent, vast sectors of the economy were wiped out, inequality and unemployment grew dramatically, while incomes fell. Personal savings were wiped out, and tens of millions were plunged into poverty. Added to this, a classic rape of Russia's assets occurred.  Due to the method of privatization, a good deal of the national wealth fell into the hands of a small group of oligarchs. Much of this Yeltsin era was marked by widespread corruption, inflation, gangland murders, economic collapse and enormous political and social problems.This era was commonly referred to as a period of "Gangster Capitalism".

Vladimir Putin: In 1999 Yeltsin resigned and Putin was elected as President. He has cleaned up the economic mess left by Yeltsin but what specifically has he accomplished since then?
  • Under Putin’s reign in contrast with Yeltsin era, he turned the Russian economy around and it has grown every single year, with an overall GDP increase (net of inflation) of more than 70%. 
  • During the same period, investments rose 125%, industry grew by 76%, and poverty decreased 50%. 
  • He dealt with the oligarchs, imprisoned the most corrupt who hadn't fled to live under British protection, and regained control of vital assets.  
  • Average monthly salaries in Russia increased from $80 to $640, and the middle class grew from 8 million people to 55 million.
  • He introduced a 13% flat tax and the reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 24%.
  • The national debt stands at 10% of GNP because of a wise use of national income. This compares with figures in excess of 100% in the US, GB, and many European nations. 
Putin positioned Russia as an energy super power that Europe has come to rely on.

Putin’s business acumen, just foreign policy decisions, and humanitarian leadership should be congratulated throughout the world. If only American Presidents could respect freedom and other nations’ sovereignty like Vladimir Putin, the planet would be a lot more peaceful.

Sept 13th 2013 update: Putin's latest agreement with the Syrian President to place all chemical weapons storage facilities under international control, but also for its further destruction and then joining the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is an example of his enlightened leadership.

Putin despite the demands of the Presidency has time for a personal life that I suspect he enjoys showing to the World. Some of it is clearly staged such as his flight with the birds and displays of his athletic prowess, although the hundreds of photos of him with wildlife and without a gun other than to stun and tag illustrates a man who loves and respects life in the animal kingdom. His advocacy of avoiding wars with other nations may reflect he respect for human life as well. Unlike many world leaders he is no sociopath.

Click on this to read the speech he made to the American people about Syria
Putin takes in the scenic Siberian wilderness while shirtless on a horse.

The Russian President bottle-feeds young elk at a nature reserve.

There's also a softer side to the Russian President. Here, Putin strokes a two-month-old tiger cub he received as a birthday present at his Novo Ogaryovo residence outside of Moscow. It will soon go to a zoo.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

WALMART*, America's Welfare Queen

 94541 600 Walmart class action suit cartoons
Now I know that Walmart's policies do not reflect the best way of doing business and the values that I think are important in America.

 "More and more Americans are asking about the price that we have to pay when Walmart comes into a community, treats workers poorly, violates immigration laws and squashes small businesses."
Anthony Weiner 
 "You know, without China there is no Walmart and without Walmart there is no middle class and lower class prosperity in the United States." 

Each week one third of the US population visits a Walmart store. With 3500 stores and 2500 related outlets in the US and elsewhere, it is the country's largest employer. World Wide Revenues in 2011 amounted to $405 billion (about 70% in US) and profits $15.7 billion.  The products it sells mostly come from China. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that between 2001 and 2006 this resulted in a trade deficit with China that eliminated 200,000 US jobs. 

With close to 2.2 million employees worldwide, Walmart has faced a torrent of lawsuits and issues with regards to its workforce. These issues involve low wages and inadequate health care, as well as issues involving the company's strong anti-union policies. Critics point to Walmart's high turnover rate as evidence of an unhappy workforce, although other factors are involved. Approximately half of its employees leave within the first year.

THE GERMAN DEBACLE (an example of what is wrong with Walmart):
The Walmart way of doing business was clearly a non fit in German and they eventually left the market Here are some excerpts from an article in the Huffington Post written by David Macaray that makes for interesting reading about why Walmart failed. 
  •  Germany was too "green" for a slash-and-burn outfit like Walmart, with its plastic bags and plastic junk 
  • Walmart couldn't hack the pro-labor union culture of Germany.
  • German consumers prefer small neighborhood stores rather than large and remotely placed impersonal chains.
  • Walmart requires its checkout people to flash smiles at customers after bagging their purchases. Plastic bags, plastic junk, plastic smiles. But because the German people don't usually smile at total strangers, the spectacle of Walmart employees grinning like jackasses not only didn't impress consumers, it unnerved them.  
  • Walmart employees are required to stand in formation and chant, "WALMART! WALMART! WALMART!" while performing synchronized group calisthenics.Unfortunately, this form of corporate boosterism didn't go over particularly well with the Germans; a group-think too reminiscent of the one that that occurred in Nuremberg several decades earlier
  • in other northern European countries where as high as half the shopping population either walk or take bicycles to shop in nearby small and medium sized specialty stores the NA style Walmart located in a remote location is a non fit. 

A Walmart store can only prosper in a country where minimum wages are below the poverty line and with labour policies that allow companies to deprive workers of social benefits and full time employment. It is active in China but it could not prosper in countries such as Australia and most of Europe where minimum wages for working adults are more than twice what Walmart offers, unions exist and labour legislation is in place.

Here are is a example of what Walmart has to offer America
  • The merchandise is manufactured abroad, mainly in China thereby eliminating mostly well paying middle class American manufacturing jobs.
  • They push suppliers to move offshore by demanding lower and lower prices. Most suppliers to stay in business have been forced to comply
  • A race to the bottom by competitors and suppliers in order to compete thus setting  a labour income pattern for America
  •  They lobby for policies that make it easier to move jobs overseas.While this money was paid to influence a range of legislation, from promoting corporate tax cuts to opposing a bill to guarantee paid sick time to working people, trade policy was among the issues Walmart lobbied on most aggressively. They actively promote Free Trade Agreements.
  • Walmart has set the template for today’s economy; one in which increased economic productivity is not shared with working people, and the vast inequality that this creates is seen as the nation's norm.
  •  Today the six members of the Walton family who inherited the Walmart fortune enjoy wealth equal to that of the least-wealthy 30 percent of Americans ( that's over a hundred million Americans). These billionaires are the ultimate beneficiaries of Walmart’s push to cut costs, condemning retail employees to work in poverty and American factory workers to unemployment. 
  •  Walmart wages are so low that most of its workers rely on food stamps and other government aid programs to fulfill their basic needs. It is estimated that the  government subsidy to employees amounts to about 2.7 billion dollars a year or on the average about 402 thousand dollars per outlet. This certainly certainly qualifies Walmart and its beneficiaries in the Walton family as one of the nation's leading Welfare Queens.
Do the Walton family need to be Welfare Queens to carry on? I don't think so.

Here is a headline they should think about."Costco Pays Well and Soars, While Walmart and Others Pay Peanuts and Sink"

While their second biggest competitor, Walmart, only saw a 1.2% rise in year on sales, Costco’s most recent quarterly earnings report showed an 8% rate of growth in year on sales, a 5% rise in same-store sales, and an almost $70 million rise in membership fees.

Wake up Walmart!! Its possible to change and offer your employees a better life and money to spend if you want to. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

US National Security Agency (NSA), Spying, Secrecy and Whistle Blowing


 Transnational technology corporations are indispensable to the government’s surveillance of the American people. In short, when you use products produced by these corporations you are consenting to the act of being surveilled.
Kurt Nimmo

The Crux of the NSA Story in One Phrase: 'Collect It All'

The actual story that matters is not hard to see: the NSA is attempting to collect, monitor and store all forms of human communication

The all knowing state is watching over us. They have decided that they have the legal right to know everything about us and to monitor  our daily activities. The NSA is their information collection and spying system that employs between 30 and 60 thousand employees (actual figures are confidential) and is housed in Maryland pending the construction of a much larger facility in Bluffdale Utah. Their PRISM program collects all user information from cooperative arrangements with Microsoft, Google, Face Book, Skype, You Tube, Apple, AOL and many others. 98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft. Whatever you say when you turn on your computer is captured. Don't talk about poisoning wells, blowing up bridges or overly insulting your leaders because the NSA will pick it up and you may have a visitor knocking on your door. 

The estimated power of those computing resources in Utah is so massive it requires use of a little-known unit of storage space: the Zettabyte. To give you an idea of its capacity their 5 Zettabytes will provide enough storage to store at least something on the order of 100 years worth of the worldwide communications, phones and emails with plenty of space left over.

As the whistle blower Edward Snowden revealed the NSA spies on the citizens, governments and businesses of the world. Evidently the US Government believes it has this right and Snowden is a criminal for revealing this to the World.

The US monitors Germany as closely as it does China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Daily, an average of 20 million telephone connections and 10 million internet transactions are collected by the NSA. The NSA does not spy in the same way on the UK, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, who are viewed as friends.


The NSA can unilaterally access data and perform extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information; examples include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP chats (such as Skype), file transfers (like your banking statements), and social networking using any device like your hand held phones. Since so much of its operations are classified as confidential the NSA  are apparently legally free to do anything they want in the name of National Security with or without the agreement of foreign nations whose information they exploit.

 The NSA continues to grow uncontrollably and where will it end? It is fair to assume that with its potential to control nations and the lives of the 9 billion citizens that will soon live on this planet it will never end short of an environmental disaster occurring. If they can just insert an electronic chip in our body they will track all of us, just like our dogs.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Charles Darwin:"Ignorance more frequently begets Confidence than does Knowledge".

"Nothing is so firmly believed as what is least known."  
Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)


Charles Darwin once said: "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge." This sounds like a strange idea. Is it true that confidence sometimes signals ignorance? Is it true that people who are very confident about their opinions may actually be more ignorant than people who are less confident? Is there evidence that confidence and ignorance may go hand in hand?

What might this mean? When disagreeing with someone who is very confident about his point of view, it may work counter-productively to argue directly against his views. After all, the person is very confident about being right. In other words, he is ignorant about his ignorance.

Charles Darwin born in 1809, was a British scientist who transformed the way we think about the natural world.  He published his findings in 1859 in his book On the Origin of the Species. It explained his theory that of all species evolved through adaptation over many millions of years including man evolving from the apes. Most people at the time believed in a Biblical interpretation of how the World was created in seven days and how Adam and Eve arrived in the Garden of Eden and ate the Forbidden Fruit that has caused us problems ever since. Now Darwin had come up with his theory that  all species evolved through adaptation over many millions of years including man evolving from the apes. It turned the Biblical tales into Fairy Tales. The anger and resentment of millions of people after publishing his findings gave rise to his observation that "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."  In other words the dumber people are the more rigidly and fanatically they cling to their convictions and therefore have little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions. The fanatic therefore refuses to think further and consequently, there is no way to change course 

I recall when I was working in the lumber camps in Northern Ontario during the summers when I was a teenager, if I raised questions about a view expressed by a coworker it would commonly be interpreted as questioning his integrity resulting in an angry outburst and on occasion a challenge to fight. It was 1947 and 48 when the work was labour intensive and a few hours on the job sufficed to gain the skills required. The average level of education was much lower than it is today and illiteracy was common in the workforce. This in no way limited their confidence in their many convictions. Just don't humiliate them by asking them for an explanation. In the dining room the tradition in the camps was to eat quickly and to remain silent throughout the meal. The reason for this was the history of fights breaking out when views expressed at the table were challenged.

Darwin of course was right; ignorance begets a confidence that cannot be challenged.

Much of what we interpret as political discourse is nothing more than rigid positions taken by mentally limited politicians expressing a fanatical confidence that cannot be challenged. Nothing changes but it is an opportunity for endless babble.


It certainly explains the rigid and uncompromising  political positions taken by Republican extremists as expressed by the Tea Party and the irrational ravings of Bachmann, Perry and others like them that only Fox News can accept. And consistent with these close minded rants has been the endless filibustering without discussion led by Mitch McConnell and John Boehmer, confident in their ignorance and, committed to closing off all debates on the issues at hand. 


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It helps to be a bit of a Fanatic Sociopath if you want to be a Leader

A fanatic is a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm who displays very strict standards and little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions. The fanatic therefore refuses to think further and consequently, there is no way to change course.

A passionate and dedicated humanist is someone who believes that man can bring about change through his own efforts and might be considered a fanatic with firm convictions but free of any psychopathic tendencies.   

a sociopath is a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

Its okay to be a fanatic, even a fanatic sociopath, if you live as a hermit in a forest because only the wind and the animals have to put up with what you do and what you have to say. And its okay to be a fanatic, and a bit silly if it is simply about something unimportant like rooting for your favorite sports team or reacting passionately to the latest dreamy teenage rock idol. This subject is a slippery slope because if we accept the definition that fanatics live with blinkers on and therefore cannot visualize any alternatives then there are categories of fanatics to consider because some are convinced that they know the absolute truth and have no patience with nonsense, and at the other extreme there are others who are simply blinded by their psychopathic obsession to take control irrespective of any underlying consequences. This essay, as the blog title implies, focuses on fanatical and often psychopathic behaviour in major national and international leadership roles Lets take a look here at some examples of these alternatives but first of all lets look at the unfortunate dumb fanatics.

  • Just plain dumb fanatics. This group is generally poorly educated, lacks knowledge and typically driven by a single issue. They will support any leader of any stripe who will support their cause. Genghis Khan might be acceptable. These include Right to Bear Arms nuts who want to pack a gun wherever they might go, anti gays, racists, and many paranoids exhibiting extreme and irrational fear and distrust of others. They are seduced by the media that convinces these saps to reject all social entitlements, like for example, Universal Health Care and a decent Minimum Wage, that most civilized countries offer.  Addicted to talk radio and Fox News that feeds their confusion, paranoia and anger they act out of spite and harm themselves. These are life's losers who provide the support and cannon fodder for the fanatic sociopaths who posses power. Reference reading: The Legend of The Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Fanatic Sociopaths with intelligence and driven by ego they seize power or gain it through public support. The list is endless on a World scale. Heading this category on any list for the last 100 years would certainly include Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Maggie Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, Pinochet and Dick Cheney who in their fanatical promotion and pursuit of their objectives caused, without remorse, the destruction and overthrow of nations  and the death of many thousands of people. 
Of late I feel compelled to add President Obama to this list of sociopaths. His ongoing personal role in ordering drone attacks, supplying weapons to jihad terrorist to destabilize the popularly elected Syrian Government knowing full well that it is causing the death of many innocent civilians, his condemnation of Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange for publicly exposing this murderous truth are clearly signs of the behaviour of a sociopath.

Here is a chilling and devastating YouTube documentary that reinforces my claim that we are being led by sociopaths 

 Here is a rogues gallery of some who have caused the death of many thousands of innocent victims. 

PM Tony Blair of Britain who joined with President George Bush into a disastrous war under false pretenses with Iraq that caused the destruction of a nation and the death of a million people and the refugee flight of another 4 million.
Ton Blair

George Bush

Henry Kissinger
 Incredibly, Henry Kissinger—the man who rivals Pol Pot for the dubious honor of being the person responsible for the death of the largest number of innocent people in South East Asia (and far surpasses Pol Pot in criminality when one factors in Kissinger's various levels of responsibility for wholesale slaughter and repression in other parts of the world)—still wields significant power in the United States; but his role as eager facilitator of mass murder, totalitarian repression and other atrocities is never discussed in polite society.

Dick Cheney
And who can leave out Dick Cheney who as Bush's VP led the "Cake Walk" into Iraq and has been an ardent supporter of all other military interventions since then including the application of torture. His face wears a permanent sneer. His pals include the infamous Chicken Hawks who never had to face an enemy in battle but willingly caused the death of millions.

The Psychopaths - Chicken Hawks who knowingly have caused millions to die - Includes Rumsfeld, Bolton, Perle, Wolfowitz, Kagan, Zoellick,Schmitt

 General and Dictator of Chile, Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). His years in power were marked by inflation, poverty and the ruthless repression of opposition leaders. Pinochet was also involved in Operation Condor, a co-operative effort on the part of several South American governments to do away with leftist opposition leaders, often by means of murder.
Augusto Pinochet
The Rettig Report found that at least 2,279 persons were conclusively murdered by the Chilean government for political reasons during Pinochet's regime, and the Valech Report found that at least 30,000 persons were tortured by the government for political reasons.

Fanatic Sociopaths with limited intelligence. This category  includes thousands who have gained some power mainly within a nation. Obvious prominent US examples would include George Bush, Victoria Nuland and her husband Robert Kagan, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and a host of Teabagging Politicians who out of spite and ignorance, and a total lack of concern for people, do great harm to populations, and are the corrupt paid servants of the 0.1% who posses great wealth. 

Every country seems to breed this mediocre level of  fanatic psychopathic leader who cares little about the human suffering they cause. Their leadership is supported by the 'just plain dumb fanatics'. 

  This is an example of a fanatic sociopath with limited intelligence (Mitch McConnell)  He operates from a blinkered commitment to revenge and spite and is clearly unconcerned about the human suffering he is causing. As a sociopath this might even be a source of pleasure to him.

 Mitch McConnell is the filibuster king, 
master of all that he and his minority minions can obstruct in his zeal to defeat the President. With the filibuster, he zealously bludgeons to death all bills passed by a majority in the House and supported by a majority in the Senate. What was intended to be a precision tool McConnell brandishes as a machine gun, murdering all majority-supported legislation in sight.  

Good Fanatics with high Intelligence
This is a worthy group who demonstrate courageous and wise leadership in human affairs. Franklin  D Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X immediately come to mind, and no doubt you can add to this list. In their zeal they share a conviction that there cause is just and exhibit negligible tolerance for alternatives. In that sense that can be described as having a fanatical commitment. A better term might be to refer to them as passionate humanists but in a sense still fanatics committed and undeviating from their cause despite the knowledge that their actions may sacrifice many lives.

 Here are examples of great and highly intelligent fanatics

Conclusion: It takes an almost fanatical zeal and a massive ego that goes with it to rise to a leadership role where there is an opportunity to change the direction of nations. The evil fanatics have no qualms about corrupting the process for personal gain and causing death and destruction but the role more often than not requires that even the good leaders may face responsibility for undertakings that cause great human suffering in pursuit of their cause; for example, Abraham Lincoln's Civil War,  and Winston Churchill's bombing of Germany. In that sense leadership on this scale must accept personality traits that can be best described as Sociopathic.
So as the expression goes "If you can't accept the heat then stay out of the kitchen"

Readers critical comments
  1. A fanatic according to my dictionary is “a person whose extreme zeal, piety, etc, goes beyond what is reasonable.”  If you care to be intellectually honest and objective about ‘fanatic’, you cannot cherry pick.  You didn’t include Julian Assange and Edward Snowden in your latest blog.  Because you may agree with a zealot or be pleased with the results of their zealotry, doesn’t make him/her any less of a fanatic.
  2. Snowdon is not a fanatic. He is a witness to a crime. Telling on criminals is not fanaticism. Not his life's work. Assange is obsessed and has made it his life's work. 

    If Snowdon is a fanatic then anyone who reported a crime is a fanatic. To believe in the rule of law does not make one a fanatic. 

Augusto Pinochet

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Judicial Lynching of Bradley Manning

The military trial of Bradley Manning is a judicial lynching. The government has effectively muzzled the defense team. The Army private first class is not permitted to argue that he had a moral and legal obligation under international law to make public the war crimes he uncovered.
 Chris Hedges 

What kind of society do we live in? Deny our guilt, hide our military crimes, protect the guilty and operate Kangaroo courts to punish those who speak the truth. Inculcate in the public the belief that "they hate us for our freedom" rather than for the crimes our governments and its military committed and continue to commit. 
Bradley Manning was a young man with a conscience when he turned over files and videos of murderous crimes  to WikiLeaks. Aiding the enemy? What a farce; how many civilians in these regions were not already aware of our murderous acts? The real reason is that the Government does not want the public in America and its allies to know what this information reveals. Keep the public uninformed, undisturbed and patriotic to the cause, whatever it might be. 
Read here what Chris Hedges -  much hated and vilified by Fox News and the Tea Baggers - has to say.

Related readings: George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm;  Aldous Huxley's Brave New World

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Politics of Hate

There exists a subterranean world where pathological fantasies disguised as ideas are churned out by crooks and half-educated fanatics for the benefit of the ignorant and superstitious. There are times when this underworld emerges from the depths and suddenly fascinates, captures, and dominates multitudes of usually sane and responsible people, who thereupon take leave of sanity and responsibility.

John Miller

The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world's largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stones

Europe and North America are facing a self imposed downward spiral in the quality of life for 90 % or more of its people.  There is a political standoff; a paralysis has set in where the public see nothing but angry political shouting and stonewalling while the present and future outlook is glum. And all of this has taken place while a fraction of 1% of the population are benefiting from unparalleled opulence. The wealthy few have corrupted politicians to do their bidding and the public be damned. 

In the United States we see the bizarre spectacle  of the rigid Tea Party financed by the reactionary cabal of the Koch brothers advocating the elimination of 100 years of social legislation. Essentially the Republican political focus is on creating a financial precipice  that will cause Obama to fail. Its hatred that drives them rather than the best interest of the American public. Blinded by their hatred they are willingly or unknowingly  en-route to achieving a Banana Republic status  for the Nation wherein a wealthy Oligarchy runs the show ably supported by corrupted politicians and  a strong military force maintaining law and order over a victimized populace. Since the Republicans controlled  Congress say NO! to all forms of progressive legislation and hoping to dismantle what is left they may unwittingly succeed in realizing their Banana Republic dream. Strident right wing talk radio and Fox News, proponents of right wing agendas, fuel a confused public's anger with distortions, exaggerations and outright lies. Hate sells. The latest news is that Fox News is asking for a license to bring their right wing brand of  distortions and lies to Canadian audiences. What a wonderful gift that will ensure ratings and put  Canadians against each other on the hate scale.  

In Europe hatred is mounting between a rigid Merkel led German government and the rest of the suffering European nations. With staggering unemployment in most of southern Europe and a dismal outlook for the future the political systems are in disarray and resistance has become an expression of anxiety, anger and hopelessness  while seeking alternative ways to resist sch as: mass demonstrations, strikes,  revolutionary movements, anarchy, going-it-alone, etc.  

Europe is Merkel's world. While leading nations such as the US, Canada, Japan and China are allowing their currencies to soften to improve their competitive position in the world, Merkle forbids the central bank in Brussels to issue bonds  and thus the Euro remains rigidly firm, grossly overpriced and noncompetitive for the remaining Euro countries. Tea Party style austerity programs have been imposed by Merkle that are collapsing economies, causing political instability, alarming levels of unemployment, and rising public anger, despair and revolt. As for the Euro it can best be described as a work in process. The working relationships between Euro members has yet to be clearly defined so it's a zoo of uncertainty with corrupt tax havens in their midst.  Lots of room for smoldering resentments and hatreds 

Unregulated Globalization has unleashed financial institutions  to freely pursue through outright theft the  amassing of  immense wealth by manipulating the price of just about everything. What is there not to hate? 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Let's Make April Fools Day a National Holiday

To be fooled:
 Tricked, bamboozled, conned, deceived, deluded, duped, flimflammed, hornswoggled, misled, outfoxed, snowed, sucked in 

A fool:

fool, tomfool, wiseacre, simpleton, donkey, ass; ninny,  chowderhead, chuckle head; dolt, booby, noodle, goose, imbecile; nincompoop,  zany; trifler, babbler; child, baby, infant, innocent, milksop, sap., oaf, lout, loon, dullard, buzzard, blockhead, asshole, dunderhead, addle head, blockhead, , mutton head, noodle head, numbskull, halfwit, lunkhead, lummox, rube, old fogey, old woman, crone, greenhorn, dunce, ignoramus, bungler, fucking idiot

Every man is  damn fool for at least 5 minutes every day, wisdom consists in not exceeding the Limit - quote by Elbert Hubbard

If you wish to avoid seeing a fool then first break your looking glass - quote by Francois  Rabelais

Lord, what fools these mortals be! - quote by William Shakespeare

I am proposing that April Fools Day becomes a national holiday so the we can spend enough time to reflect on how many times we  have been fooled and what a fool we were to be sucked in.

If you are honest with yourself as you read this I am sure that you will admit that most of these definitions of a fool have applied to you on more than one occasion. I am also sure that you muttered to yourself using one of these expressions from the above list or something more obscene for your foolishness. If you are in denial then you dishonestly deny being fooled.

The reality is that our knowledge base is weak on most subjects so despite our expertise on a few things our ignorance is unlimited and we are easily bamboozled and misled. It can be a funny and harmless bamboozlement but it is more often a deception that leads to uniting with others to indulge in dreadful habits or unknowingly supporting evil actions.

It is Herd behaviour, that you must admit is a fool's way of non thinking and turns us into dullards and nincompoops. Politicians are very good at this. It's okay if it is nothing more serious than rooting for the home team, but deadly if we all rush off to war.

For example the Americans and Brits were badly deceived and misled about Iraq's fictitious weapons of mass destruction  whereas the French clearly saw the lies and the Herd vilified them for it. On reading old news and TV clips I was astounded by the almost universal Herd behaviour of US and Brit pundits and politicians in support for the righteousness of their wartime cause. The Contrarians who were the French and German were viciously condemned for opposing them. Just another example of  thoughtless herd behaviour.

Our Herd Instincts get the better of most of us because it is easier and more acceptable to join in with others than to be an unpopular Contrarian.

Contrarions range from supporters  of the Flat Earth Society to serious thinkers who sort things out when most don't. Herd members view them as distasteful, disloyal and cussed.

Let's accept our ignorance and gullibility as traits we all share at one time or another and use this April Fool's day to unashamedly examine our traits and celebrate our survival. On this day our schools and media should discuss our Herd instincts and celebrate our contrarians