Friday, April 30, 2010

Voters Hear What they Want to Hear!

People interpret the same election message in different ways, according to their personal political views:

It is possible for two well informed groups of people faced with the same evidence to reach completely different conclusions about what should be done.
Martin McKee and David Stuckler, British Medical Journal

In an American study, three groups who described themselves as Democrats, Republicans or Independents were randomly given four versions of a news story about diabetes. The stories were the same apart from how they described the causes of diabetes—one said nothing while the other three alluded to individual lifestyle choices and social determinants such as economic status.

Democrats and Independents were likely to agree with the social determinants explanation but it had no effect on the Republicans. Democrats were more likely than the Republicans to support action to tackle diabetes, such as restrictions on junk food.

In a study on brain activity in Democrat and Republican research participants exposed to contradicting messages from both parties, those registered as Republicans identified the contradictions voiced by Democrat politicians, but saw little contradiction in statements by Republicans, and vice versa:

Politicians are often criticized for being all things to all people and for making promises that they then fail to keep. However the problem may be less what the politicians are actually saying but rather how their words are heard and interpreted.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Palestinian Case in Brief

The Palestinians, who have lived in Palestine for 2000 years, are no closer to having their own state than they ever were. Israel’s desire to push forward with the peace process is not clear. It refuses to countenance either withdrawal from the occupied territories or the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under US pressure, did join his predecessors in endorsing Palestinian statehood, albeit grudgingly and with caveats. The idea is not popular with the right wing members of his coalition, and efforts to coax Israel into halting all settlement construction in the West Bank have not succeeded.

The illegal apartheid wall snakes through the West Bank. Illegal Israeli settlement colonies, still being expanded, on the West Bank are for Jews only, as are the specially constructed roads. Gaza is still being illegally blockaded. Palestinians in their homeland are confronted by a plethora of checkpoints and barriers that divide families and keep people from their homes, farms and workplaces. What red blooded Yankee would stand for it? Moreover, the international community’s failure to hold Israel to account for war crimes gives it virtual carte blanche to launch attacks with the best modern weaponry, supplied by Uncle Sam, on the virtually defenseless Arabs.

To cover up their criminal complicity, Israeli's and their western sponsor, the US, blame the victims, claiming that Hamas’s resistance to recognizing the current gains of their oppressors stands in the way of a just settlement. Avigdor Lieberman demands the execution as traitors of Arab members of the Knesset who have met Hamas, and the expulsion of Arab citizens who do not sign a loyalty oath to Israel “as a Jewish state”. Such ideas are plainly racist—a form of apartheid. Anti-Arab racism is woven into the fabric of Israeli society. Lieberman is an example.

Palestinians who were born on land inhabited by their forebears for centuries, were driven out by the Jewish terrorist groups that became the core of the Israeli Defense Force after Israel’s foundation, and have no right of return. But Lieberman was born in Chisinau in Moldova, a place totally foreign to Palestine and its Arab people. Yet his status as a Jew qualified him to emigrate to Israel with full civic rights and the ability to travel and to settle anywhere in Israel and the occupied West Bank.

At the root of this mess is the protective umbrella with which America unconditionally shields its Middle East ally. As long as the US has the power of veto within the UN Security Council, Israel can do what it pleases. At the same time, Britain cannot hold Israelis to account without risking its special relationship with Washington.

Britain, which has always prided itself on its legal system and respect for human rights, actually colludes with Israel to ensure its officials escape prosecution. The British Foreign Office engaged in diplomatic shenanigans so that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak could receive immunity from prosecution while on a private visit to London with his wife. British justice does not extend to Israeli war criminals being held to account for their atrocities.

Those who believed that President Obama would make a difference are disappointed. He now seems a man of fine words and little action, certainly in foreign affairs. Like his predecessors, he is perpetuating US double standards. He calls for a nuclear free Middle East and wags his finger at Iran for enriching uranium, then blesses Israel’s policy of “nuclear ambiguity”.

Britain, kow-towing to the US and Israel and in common with the rest of the European Union, refuses to talk to Hamas, even though it was properly elected in the Palestinian election, but it is ready and willing to engage with war criminals and racists. So much for the sanctity of democracy.

Meanwhile, the United Nations ignores Israel’s flouting of Security Council Resolutions, and chooses to bin its own investigations into Israel’s crimes. The carefully compiled report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict was shelved. Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, lobbied diplomatic support to back Israel’s objection to the report accusing Israel of war crimes. The report wanted its conclusions referred to the International Criminal Court prosecutor in The Hague, if the warring parties failed to conduct credible investigations within six months. The court at the Hague is not popular with the US either. Too many US leaders would be up for trial as war criminals, they fear.

Where does this sorry state of affairs leave the Palestinian people? Absolutely nowhere. They are constantly failed by international bodies and the international legal system. Is it any wonder that they have resorted to desperate methods? Who would not take them in the unjust situation Palestinians are in? Promises made that their own state is on the horizon are always broken.

When, in frustration, they turn to violence, they are branded as terrorists. The Islamist movement Hamas is regarded by Israel and the West as a terrorist organization after carrying out dozens of suicide attacks, but the invasion by Israel of Gaza on 27 December 2008, left 1,400 Palestinians, nearly all civilians, and 13 Israelis, nearly all soldiers, dead.

Surely something is seriously wrong with our world when a people who have been wronged for over a half century are treated as the criminals. Wherever the Palestinians turn, they find every door shut. Whatever they do to obtain a fraction of their rights, they face insurmountable obstacles. Time and again, they pursue international justice only to discover that it does not exist… for them! Recognized legal channels lead them nowhere.

Compiled from various sources.

Time for Obama to be Tough on Banksters not in Afghanistan

Afghanistan will be a sinkhole, consuming resources neither the US military nor the US government can afford to waste.
Andrew Bacevich, former US Colonel, Professor of history at Boston University

NY Times columnist, Bob Herbert, told Obama as soon as he began his new job over a year ago that “the US military is worn out from years of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan”:

The troops are stressed from multiple deployments. Equipment is in disrepair. Budgets are beyond strained. Sending thousands of additional men and women—some to die, some to be horribly wounded—on a fool’s errand in the rural, mountainous guerrilla paradise of Afghanistan would be madness.

He thought Obama may feel he had to demonstrate his toughness, and that Afghanistan was the place to do it. It seems that is just what Obama felt. The US is still in there with more troops than ever!

Obama could show his own courage as commander in chief by quitting this absurd war. Dwight D Eisenhower, a Republican president, was not ashamed to say, “I hate war”. Eisenhower described “its brutality, its futility, its stupidity”, and could say it in defiance of his redneck supporters, having lived and breathed a proper war for four long years (1941-1945) against a real army, Hitler’s German army of well equipped and battle hardened troops. In Afghanistan, Obama wants to prove his courage against a rag, tag and bobtail army of farmers and peasants, brave but ill-equipped with largely home made weapons, whose defenseless wives and children cower in mud huts being bombed and shot at by well equipped and battle hardened soldiers, who are our own!

And what is Obama achieving? He is driving angry men into Pakistan, a nuclear power, plainly destabilizing it and threatening to make it a failed state whose natural enemy rather than natural friend would be the US, and its spineless allies in the west.

No country poses a greater potential threat to US national security—today and for the foreseeable future—than Pakistan. To risk the stability of that nuclear armed state in the vain hope of salvaging Afghanistan would be a terrible mistake.
Professor Colonel A Bacevich

It is absurd to attempt to restrict potential terrorists by occupying a large and mountainous country. It should not need the spending of countless tax dollars when we face far more dangerous crooks, robbers and terrorists at home sitting behind the desks of Goldmann Sachs executives, and those of other infallible banks. The banks have become a fetid hothouse of corruption, a haven of gangsters and weasels whose salute is the upturned palm. Kept afloat by billions of dollars in American and other foreign aid, our banks are shot through with corruption and graft. They are no longer offering a public service for which they want a fair return, but exist only for the enrichment of those who run them.

Are our soldiers putting lives on the line for the corruption of banksters, Like Richard Fuld, and political monsters like Richard Cheney?—described now as the two Dicks!

Let us kill two birds with one stone by putting the desk clerk crooks and slime bag politicians in uniform and sending them to Afghanistan. US prospects might not be so good in Afghanistan, but they will be much improved at home.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jail the Banking Confidence Tricksters

Clever bank executives lend money at mortgage to poor people unlikely to be able to repay it. The bankers do not mind because the housing market is rising. They know that when they inevitably foreclose on the mortgage, the property will have risen in value, and they will be able to sell it on, get back their mortgage money and have some left as profit.

This scheme is fraudulent because it is effectively a “Ponzi scheme”, in other words, it is is pyramidal selling. It works as long as the housing market is rising according to expectations. Housing looks like a reliable investment, so people are keen to enter the property market in the hope of making a profit. But eventually, the market will saturate, as it always does once everyone able to enter the base of the pyramid—expecting to move up it—has done. Once this happens, there is no one left to buy up the foreclosed houses, and expectations change. The housing market stutters. Banks cannot sell foreclosed properties, stop lending on mortgage, and the house market collapses.

The banking gangsters—banksters, as Rooseveldt called them—know this, but cunningly decided to package the mortgages they had lent out into bonds giving anyone willing to buy them a proportion of the annual profit from houses foreclosed and sold on. While the housing market was rising, they looked like a risk free investment and were snapped up by stock market traders and even other banksters. Of course, the banksters knew they had to fail ultimately, so devised a cunning plan to get rich while the gravy train was still running. They paid themselves massive bonuses because they were turning over so much money trading in these junk bonds. Bonuses were in cash, so they did not have to risk holding the bonds. Their customers, including the customers and shareholders of the banks took that risk, and even the general public, because the banksters knew that no government could allow major banks to collapse. So the buck ultimately ended with the taxpayer—you and me!

That is what happened, and that is why banks have been given $trillions to bale them out—$trillions of our money.

And have the governments sought to catch the banksters who devised this scam, and others like it, doling out $billions of our money in bonuses to themselves? Not a bit of it. Politicians hope to get their rewards when they leave office by cashing in on the gratitude of the banking gangsters by becoming one.

We all knew it was a scam, except—it seems—governments. But the banks have been so blatant and unconcerned that they will be caught and convicted that they have been utterly blasé about it all. Now we have evidence, perhaps proof, that Goldman Sachs knew all along they were acting fraudulently. One of its executive directors emailed:

The whole building is about to collapse… only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab [himself, Fabrice Tourre]&hellip standing in the middle of all these complex highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of these monstrosities!!!

He understood enough to know the bonds were junk and were about to collapse, but Goldman Sachs approved because he was indemnifying the business by selling the bonds while being in collaboration with Paulson and Co who were short selling the bonds knowing they were junk, so they could buy them at less than they sold them, profiting from the knowledge that they were bound to end up worth less.

Meanwhile Goldman Sachs the famous banksters are paying out $5 billion in bonuses. Or rather we are paying out the banksters $billion bonuses.

It has to be time these people were charged. Do not vote for anyone who does not:

  1. undertake to stop banking fraud
  2. puts the fraudsters on trial and jails the guilty ones at the top
  3. breaks up banks that are considered too big to fail
  4. splits lending banks from trading banks
  5. properly and firmly regulates the banks that remain.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Impeach the War Criminals

When American POWs were shown on TV by the Iraqis, Donald (von) Rumsfeld suddenly became a spouter of international law, the Geneva Convention. Why then was he, and the US leadership not interested in international law when they ignored the rule of the UN and started the war? Are we supposed to admire or believe this hypocrisy? Saddam was not the only criminal. These men were too, and they know it. That is why the US still refuses to ratify the International Court of Justice.

Mr Blair boasted that the removal of Saddam was a good deed in itself, so it did not matter that he lied to Parliament and the country over WMDs. Saddam, he told us killed 300,000 of his own people and they were buried in mass graves, but the invasion led to more deaths, and that is justified in Blair”s perverted mind. In the Vietnam war, Blair’s ally in mutual sycophancy, the USA, had already killed 60,000 of its own soldiers fighting an unjust war, and killed two million Vietnamese, as well as destroying the country with defoliants and poisons, and damaging the genetic make up of the Vietnamese forever with horrific results. What does the selective Christian conscience say about all this?

Bush was not elected but twice defrauded the US electorate to get into power. Yet, the people of the US seem unabashed that this man should have led their sons into a mad adventure on the basis of hatred of Moslems, or greed for oil. The call among peace loving and democratic people now is to punish the crypto-Nazis and strengthen the democratic process so that the same disaster cannot happen again.

Impeach the war criminals Bush and Blair.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Better way of Organising our Politics

Something is profoundly wrong, with the way we live today.
Tony Judt, Ill Fares the Land
We have wasted the two decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall. They have been consumed by the locusts, or more precisely by the shamelessly greedy. It has been the era of all the Dicks, from Cheney to Fuld, politically “an age of the pygmies”. Unregulated markets have crashed. Wars of choice have left bloody destruction in their wake. The snouts have been buried deep in the trough. Beyond the noise of guzzling, we can hear no moral critique of what has happened, no shout of rage that things don’t have to be like this.
Chris Patten on Tony Judt’s Ill Fares the Land
As recently as the 1970s, the idea that the point of life was to get rich and that governments existed to facilitate this would have been ridiculed, not only by capitalism’s traditional critics but also by many of its staunchest defenders.
Tony Judt, Ill Fares the Land
Tony Judt… encourages dissent from conformity, for which there is much to be said. Blessed are the troublemakers.
Chris Patten on Tony Judt’s Ill Fares the Land
[But] social democracy is not something that Americans can talk about, though there is a bit of cognitive dissonance about their attitudes to the public and private realms of social provision… [In the first thirty years after the War] planning, progressive taxation, high public spending and nationalized services brought inclusive economic growth with increasing equity and social harmony. A mostly benign state provided the security for which people yearn, replacing the market’s invisible hand with more visible supportive direction. Maybe all was not for the best, but it was pretty good all the same—and would have gladdened the heart of that scion of egalitarian Eton, John Maynard Keynes… According to Judt, since the 1980s, from Reagan to Bush, from Thatcher to Brown, it has been downhill all the way, with growing inequity, a declining belief in the role of the state and a falling away from civic engagement.
Chris Patten on Tony Judt’s Ill Fares the Land
Tony Judt is proudly a man of the left… He is intellectually brave—witness his well founded criticisms of Israel’s policies in Palestine. Beyond the imaginings of most of us, Judt is personally brave, too; motor neurone disease has left him quadriplegic.
Chris Patten on Tony Judt’s Ill Fares the Land

From The UK Observer

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stop the Afghan War—Save our Public Services and Jobs

Dozens of soldiers are spilling out of choppers around the villages. The insurgents are on their radios, getting ready to strike. [Captain] Dan is not going to let them, and soon the night sky lights up with air strikes, gunships, rockets and bombs. Around dawn, Dan's lieutenant radios. He is with the village elder. There are five dead and 11 wounded women and children. Dan is depressed. he wants to go down and explain. He wants the villages to know there were bad guys there… NYTimes, writer, Elizabeth Rubin

Rubin asked Captain Dan whether he knew this would happen. “Yeah, I did”, he replied. She adds that his choice was “my soldiers or the Afghans”.

Rubin is content to leave it at that, but Captain Dan was attacking Afghan people, men, women and children in their own homes in their own villages, and to Captain Dan—doubtless one of our heroes—the Afghan men, by defending their homes and families, are defined as being “bad guys”. Naturally, the Afghans, defending what is theirs, do not realize they are bad guys at all and have to have it explained to them—if they are still alive!

Is it right that we should be killing people in their own homes, thousands of miles away from our own homes, because our odious and gruesome leaders have decided that they are bad guys who will kill us in our beds if we do not kill them in their beds first? It plainly is not. The enemy has metamorphosed from being international terrorists, Al Qaida, to being the Taliban, a local Moslem sect who had nothing to do with 9/11! They are the heroes, not our brave boys. Our brave boys are the bad guys, by any standard of morality. Which one of us would not defend our own homes if we were placed in the situation the Afghans have been put in? The Americans did it against the British. Why then are they objecting to others doing the same? Why are they acting as imperialists, like king George's British? Are they hypocrites?

Stop the War!

Incidentally, the UK’s heroic Christian leader, Dr Gordon Brown, says he will spend an extra £5 billion on the war next years, yet he is cutting public services and sacking people allegedly to save a few million pounds. Are our leaders insane idiots, or do they just take us to be? Do not vote for a war party!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

UK Election: 6 May. Who to Vote For!

The PM, Mr Gordon Brown, has asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament so that there can be an election on 6 May. The electorate now have a month to make up their minds who they want to rule them for the next five years.

They should not vote for any candidate who will not agree to:

  • Tax the banks to get back the money New Labour gave them.
  • Repeal all the bad and oppressive laws that New Labour introduced and are lying unused until some fascist decides to do so.
  • Abandon the neoconservative myth of the War on Terror that Blair got from Bush and Cheney to keep people worried about nothing, and pull out of Afghanistan.

If they don't agree, then don't vote for them. Simple!