Those Despicable Foreigners

by craig on October 23, 2012 6:08 am in Uncategorized

I have travelled this world much more extensively than either Obama or Romney, and I still do. I find everywhere, even in areas of conflict and economic difficulty, the vast majority of people are friendly, even kind, and have very similar aspirations, across cultures, to personal development and emotional fulfilment.

The striking thing about tonight’s US Presidential “foreign policy” debate, is when it did occasionally discuss foreign policy, the world out there was discussed not as a place of vast potential, but as a deeply disturbing place full of foreigners who are, apparently, all evil except the Israelis, who are perfect.

The vast benefits from cooperation and trade with “abroad” were not mentioned once that I noticed (though I confess the thing was so awful my attention wandered occasionally). Europe apparently doesn’t exist, other than Greece which is nothing more than a terrible warning of the dangers of not being right wing enough.

The correct attitude to all these foreigners that God so unfortunately and inexplicably placed on this planet, is apparently to maintain incredibly large armed forces, murder people with drones (they were both very enthusiastic on this one), place sanctions on them and declare them “currency manipulators”. The only surprising note was that both agreed that they could not kill everyone in Iran.

But “We can’t just kill our way out of this mess” was spoken with regret, rather than as an affirmation of the possibilities of cooperation instead. What a grim and joyless world view. Maybe I had better not step out of this hotel into Africa this morning; those Islamists might get me.

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  1. don’t know how you could bear to watch any of these highly-staged debates, and don’t know when americans will divorce themselves from israel.

    not perfect, and still calling Iran an “enemy”, but somewhat encouraging nonetheless.

    22 Oct: Arutz Sheva: Former Mossad Chief Dumps on Romney over Iran as Election Issue
    HaLevy also urged direct Washington-Tehran talks on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear development program.
    The former Mossad director took potshots at Romney, whom he said has delivered “a heavy blow to the ultimate interests of the United States and Israel.”
    “Obama has placed emphasis on negotiations,” HaLevy told Laura Rozen, writing for the Al-Monitor website that focuses on Middle East affairs and Arab media.
    “In this current election for the U.S. presidency, his hands are tied,” HaLevy reasoned. “He cannot proceed, because he cannot appear soft on Israel’s security.
    “Negotiating with Iran is perceived as a sign of beginning to forsake Israel. That is where I think the basic difference is between Romney and Obama. What Romney is doing is mortally destroying any chance of a resolution without war. Therefore when [he recently] said, he doesn’t think there should be a war with Iran, this does not ring true. It is not consistent with other things he has said.”…
    During the interview, HaLevy said that his view that “engaging” the enemy in dialogue also should have applied to Hamas but that it is “too late now” because “In order to meet public opinion, both Israel and the U.S. governments have tied our own hands. There is a law…which prohibits U.S. officials from talking to Hamas…In the end, you create an inherent disadvantage for yourself.”

    like u, craig, having travelled widely, it is clear to me that almost all peoples everywhere are decent, hard-working human beings who should not have to face threats, real or otherwise, on a daily basis. whether the next president is obama or romney, i do not see any change in foreign policy.

  2. Oddie

    To be honest couldn’t sleep, and not much else to do in Accra at midnight on a Monday.


    No wonder we all have trouble our outlook on life. How are world is shown to us affects us deeply I am sure.

    When will reallities cease to opress us and offee to onspire us to somerhung hood.

    Transcript of last nights debate.


  4. English Knight

    23 Oct, 2012 - 8:08 am

    Romney was repeatedly throughout the debate referring to Islam,Islamists,Jihadists, with the votes of the hillybillies/rednecks that have been whipped into an Islamophobic frenzy by the zio press (and politicians)in mind.

  5. I have just seen a clip of it and it was very noticeable how much latent aggression there is within Obama. He seemed to be just able to contain it. Romney is not as intelligent but comes across as more laid back. It is of course just theatre. There is no choice for the American people because decent candidates do not attract the $billions that have been donated to these two hucksters.

    Craig comments on their joint perception of Israel as perfection. This is what happened to the Estelle at the weekend. 15 vessels versus one. And a fine display of their prowess by the Shabak as described by Elik Elhanan, one of the Israeli activists on board.

  6. Debbie(Aussie)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 8:35 am

    Why is that so many fail to see that where we (western civilisation)are what we have and have achieved would not have possible except on the backs of those countries(rest of the world) that we colonized. We are such greedy bastards.

  7. It was confirmed yesterday that five more Reaper UAVs have been ordered and will be controlled from computer screens at RAF Waddington, Lincs rather than at Creech in the US. I could find no mention in Hansard of this change being announced in the Defence debates and questions yesterday. Why not Mr Hammond? {}

    Hell brought to earth. ‘The most recent figures from the Ministry of Defence show that, by the end of September, the UK’s five Reapers in Afghanistan had flown 39,628 hours and fired 334 laser-guided Hellfire missiles and bombs at suspected insurgents.’

    This is an officer speaking about his experiences of using them in Afghanistan. He is still haunted. He seems to have been prematurely aged judging from his rather gaunt appearance and grey hair.

    ‘Too easy’: Ex-drone operator on watching civilians die

  8. “I find everywhere, even in areas of conflict and economic difficulty, the vast majority of people are friendly, even kind, and have very similar aspirations, across cultures, to personal development and emotional fulfilment.”

    Sorry, Craig&Oddie, on this one I’m closer to this single-entry blog:

  9. Debbie(Aussie)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 9:39 am

    Disc World is an amazing way to see/look at ourselves through a fun house mirror. My favorite books of all.

  10. Craig, I shared your depression at the tone and quality of this “debate”. The focus was on how to deal with enemies of the USA – those who were seen as threatening the interests and security of “the greatest country in the world”. As I listened (Radio 5 Live), I was especially struck by the uncertain way both candidates – especially Romney – articulated the names of foreign countries, their leaders and political movements. It was as if the whole subject was unpleasant and dirty, like picking up smelly non-American diapers. It made me realise that Homeland Security is a concept closely related to fear of impurity, dirt and disease.

    That impression of the USA’s political self-identity as based increasingly on being a chosen people threatened by enemies emerged also in a discussion of open borders and American identity led by Michael Sandel at a university in Dallas [Radio 4 from 09.00 today]. Coincidentally I’ve just finished a novel about a State Department liberal caught up by the McCarthy era – “The Sure Thing” by Merle Miller – which has a telling diagnosis: “The trouble with liberals, Brad, is that they consistently attibute the best of motives to their friends and the worst of motives to their enemies. They are sometimes wrong in both instances.” (Penguin 903, 1953 p 24.)

  11. Debbie(Aussie)

    Please don’t be so hard on Western Civilisation.

    We have made great inventions and a have a real appreciation of beauty and life.

    There is only a minority of people who are extremely powerful, who have shaped our way of thinking and how we set about our business.

    For example the Giant steel magnets and finacial systems and oil cartels with help from Gold owners and con artists have shaped the our history.

    There is a destroying nature about us but equally there is countenance aswell.

    It’s how our will is dominated that defines our struggle.

  12. I look forward to RT’s third party presidential debate on RT YouTube channel. Much like the UK the American people have little choice who governs their country.

    US foreign policy will still be driven by power structures in America – principally the military industrial complex and big oil.

    It is clear to me this involves creating civil war in Middle East countries with the primary objective of expanding Israel’s reach while appeasing Europe by helping a corrupt Turkey to rise as a central player.

    The ultimate aim is for the American empire to covet the Middle East and Iran’s fossil fuels, restricting China’s progression and neutralize Russia’s dominant role in the energy business.

    The control tactics are in place and the deception is strengthened by using the ‘war on terror’ to demonize Islam.

  13. Maybe I had better not step out of this hotel into Africa this morning; those Islamists might get me.

    Craig, You are a high profile irritant to the powers you so accurately satirise.

    Were your ruefully jocular musing – or something close – ever to become reality, it would be a safe bet that said ‘Islamist’ would have been facilitated/financed/ordered – whatever, by schhh – you know who.

    It is a sad reality that such events, from individual killings right up the spectrum of violence to war itself, have become a wearily routine phenomenon of the 21st century mad-house we all inhabit.

    Take care and best wishes in all you are doing.

  14. A comment on medialens this morning.

    The profound political insights of Mark Mardell
    Posted by Hidari on October 23, 2012, 5:28 am

    “A BBC opinion poll of nearly 22,000 people in 21 countries suggests the rest of the world hopes Mr Obama stays at the helm. Curiously, the only country where he doesn’t come out on top is Pakistan – where most didn’t have a preference.”

    Yes why, in Pakistan, a country Obama has repeatedly and illegally bombed, mýght the Pakistani people not care who ýs bombing them?

  15. If we had control of our money system, it may be that by utilising our labour, we could build roads, dig canals, improve the countryside, go back to more manual organic farming methods, cultivate and harvest plant , grow and rebuild.

    We need system that works for us and the need to nurture.

    Sadly we have many stumbling blocks. The domination of Liberal Democracy and human rights being one.

    I am sorry but the right to sit around on our fat lazy arses on welfare is our own right but should n’t be given to us as our only option.

    Please we need to define our ideals and work ou a concensus that benefits.

    1. Nature.
    2. Nurture.
    3. Survuve.
    4. Prosper everyone, especially those in need.

  16. Uzbek in the UK

    23 Oct, 2012 - 12:00 pm

    US had always positioned itself above all others. Manifest Destiny, Monroe Doctrine, Axis of Evil etc, all seem to me manifestation of American superiority and exclusivity. To challenge this one needs to come up with something more than just verbal criticism (I mean Russia, China and some EU nations) and employ anti-Americanism more wisely.

  17. Talking about demonizing Islam the ‘terrorists’ on trial in the UK are accused of making IED’s – in the kitchen of course and using household products i.e. hair dye, brick cleaner, nail polish remover, drain cleaner- that sort of thing, by a jihadist with a degree in chemistry, using an Internet cook-book of course.

    Clearly the emphasis is on IED because the Syrian government under the demon Assad is frightening the downtrodden Syrian people by dropping IED ‘barrel bombs’ from the air. Not to be beaten the US Information Agency, with a little help from rather wrinkly British WW2 propaganda experts is coming back from behind after the not too gory chemical weapons, followed by cluster bombs black propaganda failed to gain traction at the UN.

    Yet the aim remains the same, to justify a casus belli for NATO intervention to be spear-headed by Turkey. Most people are big suckers for all things military and blood and horror is a viable weapon in the USIA arsenal.

    The hidden agenda of this propaganda coup is pretty obvious: having failed to win the ‘hearts & minds’ of the population, the terrorists and jihadists for hire (al-Qaeda) have resorted to a disinformation campaign to discredit the authorities and cover up their atrocities against peaceful civilians in Syria.

  18. Oh, Franklin Roosevelt told the people how he felt
    We damned near believed what he said
    He said, “I hate war, and so does Eleanor
    But we won’t be safe ’til everybody’s dead.”

  19. Michael Stephenson

    23 Oct, 2012 - 12:46 pm

    Since you’re in Accra perhaps you can shed some light on this ARA Libertad situation? How and why is the Ghanaian government playing debt collector for vulture capitalists against a sovereign nations naval assets?

  20. Here in Australia the ABC has just broadcast a 30-minute program on Israel’s fears about being nuked by Iran, and how Mossad-CIA have murdered Iranian scientists as part of their (apparently understandable if not admirable) attempt to slow Iran’s progress towards the bomb. Nothing but a piece of pro-Israel propaganda, but I won’t complain to the ABC because my last complaint along similar lines just got me a long answer about why I was wrong and how it’s OK to perpetuate the myth that Ahmadinejad threatened to wipe Israel off the map.

  21. This explains everything you need to know about how “politics” works today.

    Everything that is going on today is laid out here, the whys and wherefores etc:

    What isn’t mentioned is the enormous waste in life, environment and wealth, and all of it totally unnecessary. Its only function is to perpetuate the wealth and greed of small elites. To protect themselves, they construct a kind of protection racket. They will protect us from all these bogey men they’ve invented themselves, and the best bit is that in order to better protect us they must enslave us, for our own protection of course. We’re in the final stage of that now – total surveillance, stopping, checking, ludicrous laws, interning, division and rule through identity politics. You see, ultimately it’s we who are their real enemy. The rest are fictions to a purpose. We’re the real deal. Their only enemy.

  22. I blame ‘moral relativism’. If the people can’t tell a hawk from a heron, and arse from quim, then they are not going to have a grasp of the differences between right and wrong.

    Once education is subverted in this way, then bureaucracies can do and say what they want in broad daylight, and still claim to be leading a ‘democracy’; safe in the knowledge that the hoi palloi are emotionally attuned, yet intellectually disengaged.

  23. Jimmy

    If you blame moral relativism then you’re on the same page as Strauss and the neocons. His elite political philosophy in part outlined above is supposed to be an antidote to moral relativism, which he claimed was the end result of individualism.

    Really what he’s arguing is that individualism is dangerous for the many. They must be enslaved to myths and bogey men.

    The elite can do as they please so long as they maintain the myths in public. You’ll note that they’re not planning democracy anytime soon. That would be the antithesis of their philosophy.

    Who knows. When you look at the world and people and the ease with which they’re fooled and manipulated, perhaps the only answer for the knowing is to join them, as of course many have done.

  24. Short of holding the debate in Hebrew…

  25. @JimmyGiro

    Would you define what you mean by the term “moral relativism”?

  26. Quite correct Herbie in your link which needs the central point exposed – here it is:

    Schmitt, Strauss, Yoo and all of the other boneheads who have adopted a crazed disconnection from reality are worshippers of “thanatos” … the “drive towards death” diagnosed by Freud and others. Many of them write lustfully about the beauty of the noble death on the battlefield.

    Sanity lies in reconnection with the beauty of the everyday: the beauty of nature, of lovers, of children, of community, of an intellectual insight, of a brilliant engineering breakthrough, of a life of service, of art, of quiet prayer and meditation.

  27. @herbie

    Strauss influenced Schmitt influenced the neocons.


    But it hardly explains why a particular sliver of the US elite choose to embrace those ideas, beyond ‘4% of the population are psychopaths.’

    It needs to go further back, anyway. There is analysis that, for example, states that WWII was not between the Allies and the Axis powers, but was a dispute over whether Germany or the US would replace Britain as the preeminent global power. Americans back then were already preparing for global dominance as soon as WWII wound down, forcing decolonization by the European Powers, etc. The Monroe Doctrine and America’s own wars against the Spanish and conquest of the Philippines, etc, all happened well before any of what that article states.

    Let me ask a counterfactual.

    Do you really think the US’ foreign policy would look that diferent today if Leo Strauss (and his ideas) had never reached the US?

    My bet is even without Strauss, even without 9/11, we’d be somewhere pretty near where we are today.

    As for the ‘external enemy’ being manufactured, that is often refereed to as Diocletian’s theory, PROBLEM->REACTION->SOLUTION
    and dates back thousands of years before Schmitt/Strauss etc.

  28. Kingfelix,

    In my book 9/11 was the kicker that let the ‘external enemy’ back out of the ‘sacred chest’ – I want a way of putting it back…

  29. In terms of the chronology question Strauss is a describer rather than an advocate. He’s much more philosophy than politics. The political practice of neoconism is carried out by the students of his students in the present time and since the early 90s as a definable movement. Rulers will have been acting as Princes and Philosopher kings for millenia of course. Strauss is bringing it together.

    This kind of stuff only becomes an issue in the 1930s as a big existential problem to be solved. Communism or Fascism. How do we deal with the masses, but it’s being thought about earlier with PR, and of course is there in the concept of the mob, throughout history.

    It’s difficult to see that America would be quite as it is today without Strauss’ students codifying the neocon practice in such a brutal manner. I don’t doubt that foreign policy would be the same as it is for all powerful countries, but I think the domestic situation would be very different and there would have been much less an attack on civil liberties. It has been quite a concerted and and well-informed attack that I suspect wouldn’t have been so successful had there not been some serious thinking behind it.

    I’d suggest there not much point in talking about Diocletian or Hegel’s dialectic in the abstract. Protection rackets and invented enemies works better in terms of communicating the idea.

  30. Herbie.

    We are workers, we are homemakers, and family orientated.
    We are altruistic and we are good Samaritans.

    Trust me.

  31. @Herbie (you’ll probably know)


    THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

    We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

    Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

    They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons-a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million-who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.


    — Guess who? —

  32. I am one like you, who has traveled extensively. One thing I find is that everywhere, people know the difference between the US government and the American people. But to listen to the main stream media news, you’d think that all people hate Americans and there is an Islamist with a knife around every corner. So anyone in the US has this phobia about other countries. I traveled to Jordan, some of the friendliest people I have ever met, and the most common questions I got from friends back home were “Weren’t you scared?” or “Did people look at you a lot?” or even “I bet you were glad to get home safely”

    My common response nowadays is “The only country I’d be afraid to go to is Israel. But I’d love to go to Palestine” Of course the response is a look of utter confusion.

  33. “Would you define what you mean by the term “moral relativism”?”


  34. At least part of the problem lies in the US education system which does not, in the majority of States, teach Geography at all! The premise being that the US is all that matters. Indeed the basic US education seems only enough to equip the majority to carry out “grunt” jobs and not think above their status! After all you don’t want the majority of the population to actually question their government! Blind “patriotism” will do. Fly the US flag everywhere and don’t bother to think just accept what you are told by your leaders.

    Add to this the fact that only a small percentage of Americans travel outside of their country and its easy to tell lies about the rest of the world.

    If the majority of the US population was better educated then the world would be a lot better place!

  35. @JimmyGiro


    i.e. You read “moral relativism” somewhere, like the sound, and repeated it.

  36. Felix

    That’s the propaganda guy, Bernays. I’ve mentioned him before.

    There is s difference between controlling people through PR and myths etc and controlling them by force. The neocon agenda is very heavy in the use of force at home. This is more likely to lead to Hegelian moments than not.

    I suspect that Strauss wouldn’t be too happy at how his philosophy has been put into practice.

  37. As yet another seasoned traveller who reads Craig’s blog, I remember once being in Vancouver, BC – less than an hour’s easy drive north of the USA/Canada border and seeing a very nervous and confused American couple. They were on their first foreign trip and really struggling. Because they couldn’t grasp the idea of currencies other than the US$, they were paying for everything in greenbacks instead of Canadian dollars, and consequently losing about 25% of their purchasing power. Yet there were currency exchange booths and banks all around.

    Yes, it was pitiful to watch, but it was a reflection of how even so called ‘middle class’ Americans are kept in ignorance of the world outside their borders by their education system and MSM. And this was in the early 1990’s, long before 9/11.

    These are the sort of likeable, decent but severely uninformed/misinformed people who are going to elect their nation’s Commander In Chief next month.

    Should we therefore be afraid, or rather take comfort from the idea that Republicans and Democrats are like Pepsi and Coke?

  38. Michael Stephenson;

    It is not at all infrequent a practice, the creditor just needs a court order to freeze assets. Only it more normally happens with planes at “First World” airports. Used to happen to Ghana Airways jets at Hethrow pretty often.

  39. doug scorgie

    23 Oct, 2012 - 3:43 pm

    CIA Chiefs Face Arrest over Horrific Evidence of Bloody ‘Video-Game’ Sorties by Drone Pilots

    By David Rose

    “A damning dossier assembled from exhaustive research into the strikes’ targets sets out in heart-breaking detail the deaths of teachers, students and Pakistani policemen. It also describes how bereaved relatives are forced to gather their loved ones’ dismembered body parts in the aftermath of strikes.”

    “The dossier has been assembled by human rights lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who works for Pakistan’s Foundation for Fundamental Rights and the British human rights charity Reprieve.”

    “Filed in two separate court cases, it is set to trigger a formal murder investigation by police into the roles of two US officials said to have ordered the strikes. They are Jonathan Banks, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Islamabad station, and John A. Rizzo, the CIA’s former chief lawyer.”

    “In the first case, which has already been heard by a court in Islamabad, judgment is expected imminently. If the judge grants Mr Akbar’s petition, an international arrest warrant will be issued via Interpol against the two Americans.”
    [Let’s hope so!!!].

    “The second case is being heard in the city of Peshawar. In it, Mr Akbar and the families of drone victims who are civilians are seeking a ruling that further strikes in Pakistani airspace should be viewed as ‘acts of war’.”

  40. ‘I find everywhere, even in areas of conflict and economic difficulty, the vast majority of people are friendly, even kind, and have very similar aspirations, across cultures, to personal development and emotional fulfilment.’

    Michael Palin, also much travelled, has just said almost exactly the same. He was launching a new book ‘Brazil’.

    I hope that the series is not exploitative to enhance Palin’s bank balance. The book is £12.

    PS Don’t buy it at Amazon. Go to a bookseller. Amazon are based in Luxembourg and pay no corporation tax on sales of £7bn. {}

  41. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 4:02 pm

    “This explains everything you need to know about how “politics” works today.”


    Have you checked his sourcing? His links frequently U-turn back to his own blog.

  42. Herbie 23 Oct, 2012 – 2:47 pm
    “There is s difference between controlling people through PR and myths etc and controlling them by force.”

    The combination of propaganda and violence has been used, as it is today, for the last century or so.

  43. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 4:29 pm

    “If the majority of the US population was better educated then the world would be a lot better place!”


    As with all things American, and human beings world-wide, all perception is selective. Perhaps Americans excel at narcissism, but we didn’t invent the malady. Education in the US K-12 has always been a joke for the masses, because they are widget factories. The average teacher is a product of the same system. Most had degrees in disciplines like History, or 18th century French poetry wherein the only option was to become an author, or a teacher, as an afterthought.

    Because the pay is relatively low, it attracts middle-level performers who lack talent at making the subject live. IOW they don’t know how, or don’t have the one-on-one time to make the connection between the relevance of the subject, and the student’s life. The smarter kids see this and become bored, then tune out.

    Does this, at all, sound familiar for your culture?

  44. O/T Just came across this. Topical as he is chairman of the BBC Trust and is keeping a low profile at the moment.

    ‘that is the principal objection – or perception – how can Lord Patten simultaneously be Chairman of the BBC Trust and in receipt of an EU pension? He readily gave up jobs (with the Global Leadership Foundation, the International Crisis Group and Medical Aid to Palestine) which might have been perceived as a conflict of interests, but his EU pension of around +++£100,000 per annum+++ continues to be paid.

    Lord Patten’s pension is conditional upon him doing nothing to harm the interests of the European Union. According to Article 213 of the Treaty establishing the European Community.’

    Milord Patten’s other interests:
    1: Directorships
    Non-executive Director, Russell Reynolds Associates Inc (company research)
    2: Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.
    Member, International Advisory Board of BP (energy)
    Adviser, Hutchison Europe (telecomms, property, transport)
    Member, European Advisory Board, Bridgepoint (private equity group)
    Member, EDF Stakeholder Advisory Panel (electricity)
    Occasional income from writing and speaking engagements
    Chairman of the BBC Trust
    10: Non-financial interests (b)
    Member, Prime Minister’s Business Ambassador Network
    Chancellor, Oxford University
    Member, Board of Overseers, Sabanci University, Istanbul
    Advisory Board Member, St Benedict’s School, London
    10: Non-financial interests (e)
    International Adviser, Praemium Imperiale, Japan Art Association
    Co-chair, India-UK Roundtable
    Co-chair, Italy-UK Annual Conference
    Member of Advisory Council, The Hague Institute for Global Justice

    PS Bridgepoint are one of the companies benefitting from the privatisation of the NHS.

  45. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version) 23 Oct, 2012 – 4:29 pm
    “Does this, at all, sound familiar for your culture?”

    Yes it does.

    Except I disagree that low pay necessarily attracts the less capable. Most teachers I know are run into the ground by too large class sizes.

  46. “the world out there was discussed not as a place of vast potential, but as a deeply disturbing place full of foreigners who are, apparently, all evil except the Israelis” — Craig

    Which of course is what makes the USA such an appalling candidate for “running the world” (or should I say, “leading the ‘free’ world”?). They are extaordinarily insular, and have such a belief in their own exceptionalism that it precludes them from even *imagining* that other cultures might have something to offer them. They view said ‘furriners’ as people whose heads they can burst like melons at the push of a drone-control-button, and still sleep soundly at night without a bother.

    (Not all Americans, no, but enough of them to worry the hell out of me.)

    For now, there are still those who have seen up close and personal the horrendous effects of their wars on innocent foreigners (and on their military mates) – “vets” who suffer severe PTSD, and either kill themselves, or members of their families, when they get home. Or end up on the streets, or addicted, or in psychiatric institutions.

    But taking personnel out of the theatres of war and using more and more drones will greatly reduce the numbers of such mental casualties and allow the USA to engage in multiple attacks/wars on (nothing more than) the level of video games.

    Video games, plus “sufficient Big Macs and gasoline to burn in their tar-machines” – to quote Ben Franklin on the last thread.

    But BF makes a big mistake in saying that people of “other countries worldwide” operate with the same mentality. (Which of the 192 countries does he have in mind exactly? Do they include the 120 countries that attended the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, for example?)

    “The CIA continues their disinformation campaigns with impunity because the population of America, as well as those in other countries worldwide, don’t really give a shit, as long as they have sufficient Big Macs and gasoline to burn in their tar-machines.”

    (I’m going to hit Submit, but in 3 mins I’ll be wishing for an Edit function)

  47. “Except I disagree that low pay necessarily attracts the less capable. Most teachers I know are run into the ground by too large class sizes.” — Phil

    A young relative of mine worked for a large bank in Europe, lived in a plush apartment, etc. He came back, retrained and re-qualified, and is now teaching – because he was always drawn to teaching, low pay or not. He is now 10 times happier than he was.

  48. Mark Golding – Children of Conflict 23 Oct, 2012 – 2:16 pm
    “In my book 9/11 was the kicker that let the ‘external enemy’ back out of the ‘sacred chest’”

    The twin towers attack was just another event, albeit significant, in a narrative established before September 2011. I agree with Kingfelix in that I also suspect we would be pretty much where we are without it.

  49. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 5:06 pm

    “Except I disagree that low pay necessarily attracts the less capable”

    Yes. I didn’t mean to say that. I meant that the low pay discourages many of the gifted Teachers.

    That’s not to say there aren’t committed Humans who enter the profession regardless of the pay. Born in Bolivia….

    But the vast majority are not from wealthy families, and must find a way to make a living. I’ve had many teachers who were more damaging, than instructive because they were not suited for the job,

  50. Ooops typo – Above I meant 2001 not 2011

  51. @Clark and @Jon,

    I’ll revert to my Dreoilin handle very soon, if that’s ok, but with this same email address.


  52. Nuid I see you have become a member of the Asteraceae family. Makes a nice change from reptiles and amphibians.

  53. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version) 23 Oct, 2012 – 5:06 pm
    “I meant that the low pay discourages many of the gifted Teachers.”

    Yes, that has to be true. However, I do not believe the pay is a significant factor in poor education compared to, say, resources and ever changing central dictates.

    Recently I have spent time in one of the UK’s most academically successful schools. Of course it is fee paying. The teachers seem no more gifted than those in the state sector where many are from. The pay is only marginally above the state sector. However, class sizes average 15.

  54. MODS!
    My normal (daytime) IP’s being blocked by your spam filter. Through a proxy,can read but not write to Comments. Can you see what’s going on? It’s entirely possible that someone on my corporate server is actually originating spam, but the IP hasn’t been flagged on on spamhaus (or 73 similar sites), so it’s probably a glitch.

  55. Cross post from medialens. I believe Mark and Clark were going on the march.

    Lack of coverage of major anti-govt demonstration on 20 October
    Posted by The Editors on October 23, 2012, 5:36 pm

    Dear David,

    Sent this yesterday to BBC’s Newswatch before I realised they only discuss their OWN coverage! Don’t know if the issue is of interest to you?

    Best wishes,

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Marcus Chown
    Cc: Andy Coghlan
    Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 5:45 PM
    Subject: Lack of coverage of major anti-govt demonstration on 20 October…

    Dear Newswatch,

    Hi. We are journalists on “New Scientist”.

    We are astonished by the lack of press coverage of the TUC march, calling for the government to change tack on its austerity measures. 150,000 people marched past Downing Street on Saturday. Yet no Sunday national paper mentioned it on its front page. In fact, The Sunday Times ran merely a small photo and a caption on p 16. By contrast, there was good coverage in French papers such as Le Monde.

    The worrying feature is that the Press appear not cover a peaceful demonstration but covers violent demonstrations. This utter lack of impact through the press appears to be a massive disincentive for people to protest lawfully, in large numbers and in good spirit about something they feel strongly about, and a tacit encouragement to those extremists who favour violent demonstrations.

    Might this not be a subject that you might like to air?

    Bests wishes,
    Andy Coghlan
    Marcus Chown

  56. Makes a nice change from reptiles and amphibians.

    Pffft. She may look nice but her sap’s insecticidal.

  57. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 5:59 pm


    ” resources and ever changing central dictates.”

    Yes. A big part of the problem, today is Boards/Supervisors and others justifying their jobs by diddling with the Three R’s. (New Math, New English)

    Anecdotally, my son was in 3rd grade in the early 90’s and I pose a question to his teacher;

    ‘Why can he read, but can’t spell” answer; “We don’t worry about that much with Spellcheck, and all”

    As to resources; another anecdote.

    My mother was a Librarian in the Maryland school system in the mid-60’s. My dad was transferred to Wash DC in ’66 and my parents sought the best schools in the Beltway. They chose Maryland because they spent more per student than others. As a librarian, my mother was shocked at the poor use of those funds. She took me into the Media room where I saw dozens of film projectors, opaque projectors, not in use. It seems they had one of each for every classroom, so that it would always be available. That’s the kind of resourcing that gives Bureaucrats their pejorative status.

  58. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 6:00 pm

    Phil; Forgot the issue of class size. You are absolutely right on that.

  59. Mary, I never made it to the demo.

  60. Komodo, thanks for your note on spam blocking. I changed the spam system this morning, the old one was getting creaky. Try searching for your blocked IP and let me know how you get on.

    I’m not sure about its accuracy at the moment, so we might additionally use (or switch to) Spamhaus’ database.

  61. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 6:12 pm

    What, in Hell, have been doing, Clark? :>)

  62. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 6:13 pm

    have You been doing? Sheesh.

  63. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 6:14 pm

    Jon/Clark. Is there a chance a ‘preview’ button could be used in this software?

    Some, need it more than others :)

  64. Peaceful demonstrations don’t change anything.

    If anyone disagrees, please can they post a counter-example. In particular, I issue the challenge of finding one single case in the UK in the last 40 years of a peaceful demonstration that has caused a government to reverse its attacks on living-standards. One single case!

    So going on a peaceful march, listening to speeches, and then going home – this is not the way to force a government climbdown.

    As for violence, it’s almost always the police who start it.

    But my point is not to praise violence. There have been many violent demonstrations that haven’t achieved anything either.

    Force is another matter. Of course force is what is required.

    The question is absolutely NOT ‘how can we get ourselves on telly?’ We can’t use the media to force a reversal of government policy. This isn’t a bloody ‘national debate’!

    The question is THIS: what can, say, 150,000 people on a demonstration do that makes the authorities reverse their austerity measures?

    And if such a large number of people go on a demonstration with the willpower to ask such a question (what can we do, today, that works?), they will be able to answer it.

    Screw the media.

    Whose streets are they anyway? Whose buildings?

  65. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 6:21 pm

    “Peaceful demonstrations don’t change anything.”

    Hmmm. Two folks come to mind; MLK and Mohandas.

  66. Aha. Thanks, Jon. Five toxic IP’s under “Komodo” – none of them me. Nothing under e-mail or my server IP (as far as I remember that)

  67. I know I’m poisonous but this is ridiculous. *rolls on floor destroying ceramic items with thrashing tail*

  68. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 6:48 pm

    Shalom doesn’t mean what you think it means.

  69. A Simple Jew:

    I’ll look silly if I take your post seriously, and then everyone comments to say your post is an obvious joke. But some people do actually think this way (“best nation”, “God-given”), so perhaps I’m not as far off the mark as I think I might be. I’ve clearly had a long day 😉

    So, let me know if you’re being serious, and I’ll comment accordingly.

  70. Komodo, sorry, not with you. What do you mean by Five toxic IP’s under “Komodo” – none of them me. Did your search at that link reveal that your corporate proxy server is blacklisted?

    @Ben, on a preview button, good idea. No promises :) but I’ll put it on the list.

  71. Not sure A Simple Jew means what you think it means, Ben. Read it again. :-)

  72. Perhaps it might be more true to say “peaceful demonstrations in isolation don’t change anything.”

    Both King’s and Ghandi’s peaceful movements ran alongside campaigns of violence.

  73. Jon:
    My corporate IP is NOT blacklisted, either as name or numbers. My email address is NOT blacklisted. My nick is MULTIPLY blacklisted, but attached to OTHER IP’s. But if that were the problem, I would still be blocked, no?

  74. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 7:01 pm

    Snarkasm is very difficult on the innertubes, good lizard. I often fail.

  75. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 7:05 pm

    “Both King’s and Ghandi’s peaceful movements ran alongside campaigns of violence.”

    I don’t recall violence being perpetrated by SCLC, but much violence was visited upon them.

    The violence in India was between the Hindus and Muslims. Ghandi’s reaction was to fast until it stopped.

    Not sure of your point, this time, Phil

  76. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version) 23 Oct, 2012 – 7:05 pm

    I thought there were riots at various times during the civil rights movement, like immediately after King’s murder. But I know nothing about this so retract my assertion if you are saying otherwise.

    However, in India violence was widely used against the British occupation.

  77. If I thought he meant it, I’d do the bugger for antigoyism, Ben…

  78. “A simple Jew” was actually promoting anti-semitism. Rubbish about Nazis collaborating with Zionists is one of the very few things that will get me to hit the delete button (which I did).

  79. @Ben

    Sorry, my use of language is poor. I didn’t mean ‘campaigns’. I was trying to say that there were outbreaks of violence.

  80. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 7:24 pm

    Dang. There just isn’t enough hatred in the World. Let’s ramp it up some more.

    (Jon; while you’re at it, see if you can add a snark button with ‘preview’)

  81. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 7:28 pm

    Phil; Violence is often the step-child of peaceful movements, but I think the two persons I mentioned did their best to discourage because they knew the opposition could crush them in a NY minute.

    I’ve often said the Palestinians would vanquish the Israelis if they could control themselves and use the same non-violent demonstrations. Of course, the opposition must have some semblance of conscience, and accountability to the population they represent.

  82. “Nuid I see you have become a member of the Asteraceae family. Makes a nice change from reptiles and amphibians.”

    Mary, I had to look up Asteraceae. You must be a gardener. 😉

    I can do what’s necessary (I can even grow spuds) but I don’t do it for enjoyment or recreation. Possibly because I’m almost-phobic about insects.

    “Pffft. She may look nice but her sap’s insecticidal.”

    I wish I’d known that years ago. I could have been the female Diarmuid Gavin.

    “I never met my parents as both were gassed by the Nazis before I was born”

    I think that was intended as a ‘joke’ alright.

  83. @Ben

    I didn’t mean to suggest that King or Ghandi advocated violence, merely that violence was used by others towards the same ends.

    I seem to recall Micahel Moore attempting to persuade Arafat that the Palestian’s adopt non-violent protest to win over US opinion.

  84. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 7:46 pm

    ” merely that violence was used by others towards the same ends.”

    Not even sure it’s the same ends, Phil. I remember the cult-classic Zardoz, wherein Sean Connery, the protagonist, was asked about the linchpin of his Revolution….


    It seems expedient (violence) but is counter-productive.

  85. @Ben – Gandhi is not someone I would take seriously, and him not eating his dinner didn’t stop any war between Hindus and Muslims. But whatever might be said about him, surely no-one would suggest that a fast by such a high-caste individual is what we should all rely on to defeat the British government’s austerity measures.

    As for Martin Luther King, I accept that you have got more of a point there, but the US government didn’t lose any money when introducing civil rights legislation. That is important, because essentially the movement for civil rights in the 1960s wasn’t a bitter fight against the federal government. A lot of demonstrations did involve violence (as is almost always the case, started by the police or violent opponents of the demonstrators); there was constant violence in the inner cities, which of course had an effect (and non-violence never helped anyone in such conflicts); and the most successful of the non-violent demonstrations still involved mass illegality by demonstrators. They was very different from some TUC-led day of action in London, but we probably agree on that!

    We need a breakout, a mass action that is inspiring but not symbolic, that sets things alight, that pushes things beyond the point of no return. The vast majority of people in Britain oppose the austerity measures, think the government are a pack of crooks, and would love to see the banks given a bloody good kicking. If 150,000 people in a small area of central London can’t do that, who can? Whinging that they haven’t got on the telly is wallowing in weakness. The hell with the media. If anything is ever going to happen on the streets that brings all the crap crashing down, people shouldn’t be so obsessed with that effing stupid box with the moving pictures on it and the rubbish that passes for newspapers nowadays.

  86. I’m sure I know Ben from elsewhere. Does cryptic as well as a goat I once came across. Corn might also be resonant. Others – ignore please.

  87. A new alert from Medialens on a subject close to my heart:

    ‘Bad Pharma, Bad Journalism’

  88. Komodo, thanks. Will temporarily borrow your good name for some testing on a dead thread.

  89. @Lizard
    How are we supposed to ignore you when you’re thrashing around on the floor breaking the ceramics?

  90. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 7:55 pm

    Komodo; I’m also not good at reading snark. When you say ‘cryptic’, are you referring to me?

    Sorry to be dense, but I am, rather.

  91. Ok, Ben – if you didn’t spot the clues, we don’t know each other (pity, really). Sorry to baffle you, was just wondering if we’d crossed paths on a US forum.

  92. Good luck, Jon, and thanks.

  93. “the vast majority of people are friendly”

    I agree. I was once told by a US Navy Captain / Sub Commander and part-time Diplomat that in all the 40 odd countries he had visited basically 90% of the people were good hearted and 10% not so good in his opinion. I always bear this in mind. He knew a lot of people.

    By the way I was resident in Tashknet 2003-2005 – I saw you in Juliano’s once whilst I was en-route to the Ragu.. Every other day I was questioned on Broadway as to whether I was a British Diplomat… those were the days!

  94. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 8:06 pm


    I understand. Someone here, (Komodo?) said we should just stop going to work in the UK.

    “Not showing up at work will scare the Hell out of them”


  95. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 8:08 pm

    “Sorry to baffle you, was just wondering if we’d crossed paths on a US forum.”

    In the US? Where?

  96. I’m not naming names in case some of the trolls come here, Ben. Rest assured that no snark was intended.

  97. Re. not going to work, it’s called a general strike. Last time we had one, during a time of extreme general poverty and widespread actual malnutrition it didn’t work. Since Thatcher successfully neutered the unions, and the majority of the population is worried more about the payments on the car than where the next meal is coming from, both the organisational structure and the heartfelt fury – not just abstract anger – necessary are lacking for a repeat showing. On the other hand, e-networks and the present fiscal policy do not make this a future impossibility. The problem then will be to ensure that, this time, it works. That it delivers a more equal and just scheme of things.

  98. Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    23 Oct, 2012 - 8:23 pm

    Times 10 in the US, Komodo. They have us on the teat, and the addiction is strong.

    When austerity hits the US, we will, I predict, descend into the abyss.

  99. Sadly true. On a slightly lighter note, I never really understood the simultaneous existence of the Mann Act and the accepted policy of moving your factory to the state where the labour was cheapest. Though Europe is beginning to look rather similar.

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