Friday, December 28, 2007

benazir bhutto rip, middle east not so.

i wonder what the middle east ...

would be like if america had not sponsored the zionist invasion of palestine, the assassination of mossadegh and overthrow of parliamentary government in iran, had not supported the violently repressive dictatorships in iraq, iran, and arabia.

america has sown that garden with poison seeds, and flowers of death spring up everywhere, even down-town manhattan.

perhaps the notion of karma deserves more thought, or even the simple judaeo-christian precept: "as ye sow, so shall ye reap."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"look on my works, ye mighty, and despair"

reputed to be an inscription on a block of stone, in middle of an african dessert. in fact, the author of the poem was commenting on the tendency of societies, no matter how puissant, to decay and die in time.

the course of the american empire is well advanced, the accoutrements of the republic are less able to disguise the imperial policies and internal repression than was once the case. the power and resources of the republic have been hollowed-out by over-use, the arrogance of the political class is less concerned to hide itself from the plebs, the citizen army of defense has become the aggressive army of colonial occupation. all that remains to do is the neutering of the election process through electronic counting.

one hopes that the american people will wake up, seize control of their nation from the grandees, and institute democracy. what a wonderful world that would be. but it won't happen.

america is leading the human race toward some mixture of 'brave new world' and '1984'. i expect the worst elements of each.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

our good friends, the yanks

here's a link to a survey of american foreign policy that doesn't get enough publicity.

(you may have to press the 'enter salon' button on upper left corner)

in brief, the cia has been in the torture and murder business since the 50's. anyone who opposes american policy in south or central america, in south east asia, or now in the middle east, was/is liable to be connected to electrical implements, or beaten, or shot, or thrown from helicopters. many just 'disappeared'.

it's going on today. it is the cause of anti-american terrorism. terrorists are people recruited to a cause which even the simplest can understand: resistance to foreign murderers.

nothing to do with us? if you hold his coat while some serial torturer and murderer amuses himself, you will suffer his fate when he is caught. less abstractly, the new 'anti-terrorist' laws which curtail civil freedoms are a penalty for holding america's coat. worse penalties will come, for america has stored up hatred that will not go away, and will spill over onto coat-holders.

the american alliance is not necessary, and has become a source of shame and danger.

Posted by DEMOS, Sunday, 16 December 2007 6:11:57 AM

Friday, December 14, 2007

mike gravel and democracy

here's a link to m g explaining about why he's running for president.

http://youtube: 2 mikes

he understands the problems that are facing any parliamentary society, and proposes a solution based on 'democratizing' the federal government of the usa. these problems are even more evident in australia, but i pointed out that the solution is even easier for us in an earlier post, "revolution to democracy."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

stop laughing, this is serious

global warming is on the agenda, finally. perhaps too late to prevent disaster, but maybe not too late to prevent extinction of the human race. plenty of americans are much more worried than their politicians, here's a post with a useful survey of personal actions to take:


What can you do?

Politically: Tell politicians to remove subsidies for oil and gas companies and increase investment in solar and wind energy. Support ballot initiatives like those recently passed in Washington and other states, requiring utilities to get at least x% of their energy from renewable resources. Support carbon taxes and/or cap-and-trade policies on business. Push for new building codes requiring greener building practices.

In your community: Write letters to the editor of your local paper; ask your local paper to do a series on climate change and conservation; ask the mayor of your town to join the green-cities initiative; ask your local transit company to consider biodiesel in the buses; ask your local government to provide more public transportation and/or carpool programs.

Personally: Eat less meat, drive less, turn off your computer and your lights every day, update your appliances to the most efficient available, install solar and/or tankless water heaters in your house, install a wind turbine in your backyard, move from the suburbs to the city, invest in green technology companies.

Obviously, we aren't all going to do all of these things. But if all of us did some of them, we would start to make a difference."
-- Sally M
[Read Sally M's other letters]

but personal action is not enough. national action is required. that's where 'sally' is much better off than ozzies: she can participate in citizen initiative and direct elections. ozzians can't, now.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


humanity is in deep trouble. global warming is going to shake the planet, and will disrupt human economy a lot, or worse. it may kill us all. if it doesn't, resource depletion will have similar consequences, in a longer time frame. then there's the four horsemen, who will be riding along with these natural events.

all of these problems grow out of a simple fact: there's too many humans on this mud ball. when we were only one billion, the forests and fish were pretty much what they had been for a long time. the air quality was as usual, except over a few cities. there was enough water drink, and bathe in, as it was since man came on the scene.

if we had stayed at one billion, all of the major problems with nature would not exist. which suggests to me that we should be thinking about ways to stabilize, and reduce, the population. it is blindingly obvious that this is the only long term solution to humanity's problems.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

torture, corruption, and apathy

the emergence of an admission to destroying visual records by the cia is a new feature of the bush regime. normally, such things are lost. i presume cia officers are trying to preserve their careers by admitting that the documents existed, while trying to preserve their freedom by destroying them. this is a very complex balancing act as some senior officers are on record as saying these activities never happened.

on the other hand, who will pursue? several prominent democrats facilitated the 'intensive interrogation' regulations and will be severely embarrassed as their role is publicized.

so the americans are neck-deep in the moral sink-hole of torture, the congress whose role is to limit the arrogance of the whitehouse is complicit instead, and the american public is unsurprised, and not enraged.

when i was young, europeans would smile at the apple-cheeked naivete of americans, now they shake their heads at the cynical depravity.

here's a link to greenwald's post on dem complicity. read'em and weep.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

revolution to democracy

parliamentary societies in prosperous states generate a large middle class that is able to vote for center-left or center-right parties. this is the condition in which transition to democracy becomes possible without violence or great dislocation of society.

when a significant minority decides that real democracy is more important than blindly supporting tweedledum-or-dee, they will form a citizen action group, and tell the parties they will only vote for one which establishes an effective and accessible power of citizen initiative referendum. one of the major parties will submit, the other will follow. if neither does, small parties will see an opportunity to grow and eventually win.

with 'cir',the electorate can gradually shape society into democracy.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

representative (ain't) democracy

two parties, "a" and "b" contend for election, "a" wins by 51% to 49% of the vote.

"b" commences to think. they identify a group that voted for "a" at least large enough to change the result, perhaps only 1% of the electorate . "b" offers this group a special favor. it might be a tax benefit, or support for private schools. the group changes it's voting habit, "b" wins. all tax payers must pay a little more. "a" commences to think, etc.

the inevitable result is a tangled tax code, a hobbled economy, and a community divided by well-founded suspicion that others are getting better treatment.

in an actual democracy, taxes have to assented to directly by half plus one of the entire electorate, special favors can't be hidden. better yet, administrators don't have financial favors to give. instead, they must hold their jobs with efficient service and probity.

religion and politics

here's a quote from jfk's campaign, which seems like a good description of how a nation should be run, if the national aim is justice and simple fair play.

"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute," Kennedy told the Houston ministers, "where no Catholic prelate would tell the President -- should he be Catholic -- how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference ... I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials."

here in oz, very different views have prevailed. i suspect that diverting public funds to religious institutions is divisive. i strongly suspect that diverting public funds to private schools is even more divisive. yet it is winning politics in a parliamentary state. it's a perfect example of special interests feeding off the common purse: parliamentary politics in a nutshell.

if you wonder where your taxes go, they are bled off into many special interests to re-elect pollies, the residue is spent on the nation.

Posted by DEMOS, Thursday, 6 December 2007 1:25:21 PM

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

the children of strangelove

there is an interesting article on 'managing' nuclear weapons in today's world:

the author doesn't offer much hope for preventing nuclear proliferation. that cat has left the bag.

i believe the only way to minimize the chance of nuclear holocaust is for humans and humanity to grow up and admit that the use of violence on other nations is no longer productive. the suppurating sore that israel has been since 1948, the catastrophic destruction of vietnam without result, the current genocide in iraq and afghanistan, should all suggest that the arrogant application of power is likely to be counterproductive.

i see no signs that humanity can give away nuclear weapons any time soon. at best, we can hope that the revulsion of the bush2 regime may impel the usa to co-operate more closely with the international community. talk is better than war, and talk is the only tool we have to save ourselves from race suicide.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

letters to america

you get the government you deserve

don't you think it's time the people of the usa wrested control of their nation away from pollies? leaving people like this in charge of foreign policy is russian roulette.

what is the argument against gravel's initiative for democracy? too hard? gotta feed the dog? the baby's crying?

if you are frightened of people like podhoretz whispering in the ear of whatever amoral jerk is currently decidering which war to start, then either get busy, or pull the covers over your head and shut up.

Monday, December 3, 2007


for the record...

there will be no peace while the zionists defend a religious state of israel. peace will happen when the u n watches the transformation of israel and the occupied territories into the secular state of palestine.

i would claim this is obvious to anyone, if justice was the goal. but apparently it is not.

occasional letters to america

a simple question

why is it ok for pakistan to have an atom bomb, but not iran? and india and france, but not iran? and the usa and israel, but not iran?

are you living in looking glass land?

democracy and community

in a highly-evolved democracy, the citizens are the state. there would be no public service, and no politicians, and no army. these functions would be carried out by the two types of social organization that every citizen would participate in.

one would be a civic action society based on a central meeting place in a neighborhood. in this hall, public meetings would carry out discussion and organization on matters of local interest. there would be programs for training emergency response teams, to deal with fire, flood and storm, and fund raising activities for local projects. this would be where citizen initiative referenda would begin, on matters of national concern. the 'cas' would also be responsible for militia training.

the other society would be based on vocation. it would provide job training, employment, insurance and superannuation. by rotating it's members through it's client companies, unemployment would become a quaint part of history, while at the same time insuring that the clients had a supply of well-trained and experienced personnel. disruptions due to illness and maternity leave would be largely eliminated.

more on militia training: it's cheaper to put an assault rifle under lock in every citizen's wardrobe than to maintain an army. it's also a much more effective way to defend a nation from invasion. the use of an army is to ensure government control over it's own people, and to invade other people's land. a democracy doesn't need an army.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

education in a democracy

citizens owe no allegiance 'upward'. instead, their allegiance is horizontal, to the other members of the society. as they depend on each other, as they subscribe to the ideal of political equality, they have an over-riding interest in maintaining the quality of their fellow citizens.

this means that every person must oversee and support the education available to each child. there can not be 'elite' schools, and there can not be schools whose education is warped to form special groups.

this means that every person in a school's catchment area should make sure that it provides a core curriculum that will graduate a citizen. they should also ensure that 'their' school gets, and spends, the same amount of funds as any other, per capita.

people who want their children to have a religious education must do so at home, or in church.

Friday, November 30, 2007

on the occasion of the reported death of the liberal party..

i was amazed to hear that a party with a 2pp of 47% was at death's door. if 3 people in 100 had gone from 'green' to 'lib' instead of 'lab', we'd be marveling at howard's latest triumph.

still, margins are less important than directions. if libs don't find some way to get 1/2 or more of the green vote, they will drift out of contention. i presume malcolm turnbull knows this, but the people he has to work with do not.

so one can imagine the labor party becoming the agent of commerce and industry and slowly starving the libs of their financial support. this is when the greens may become significant. they will grow simply because they have no debts to pay, and can put the case for saving the planet when it is becoming ever more evident the planet needs saving. they will also peel off labor supporters who are uncomfortable with the compromises required to be the 'natural' party of government.

under these conditions, labor will indeed prosper. this might be a bad thing for oz though, a comfortable ruling party needn't do much.

the glories of war

this is link to a post at salon:

on the nature of war, government spin, and national blindness. i particularly liked it because the writer remembered that orwell was well aware that western societies were susceptible to thought control, without the need for a ministry of truth.

oz pm's dispatch troops to foreign lands to kill people there, as a matter of electoral convenience. there is no element of national defense. howard and now rudd seem to think war is rugby, to be played 'away' always. sooner or later there will be a 'home' game. fools will be outraged at unprovoked attacks, and government will talk about protecting us with anti-terror laws.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

american democracy

what democracy would that be?

perhaps, mr shapiro, you will allow me to classify the usa as an elective monarchy?

whether or no, the quality of the debate was at least as good as the quality of the american electorate. they have, after all, elected king george the w twice.

the republican candidates are notably less 'presidential', in their debates. they have to convince rednecks and bible bashers of their sympathy for 'american values'.

citizenship, and lesser classes

the unique feature of democracy is citizenship: the equality of all members of the electorate in setting state policy, either through direct election, or through citizen initiative.

other societies are characterized by a class system: a few members of society make all policy decisions, while the vast majority can only watch. indeed, very often they can not even watch, as the parliamentarians often rule in secret.

no one would choose to be a second class human, but if you are born into such a society and continually told this is as good as it gets, and if there is no possibility of change without radical action, the resulting national character of supine acceptance of subjection makes the 'politician' class very secure, even when visibly corrupt or incompetent.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

what is 'democracy'?

democracy is a society ruled by it's members, who equally share in the power of decision, through balloting. abraham lincoln summarized this as

"government of the people, by the people, for the people."

there is very little democracy in the world today, although the word is in constant use. even north korea manages to work 'democratic' into it's title, while parliamentary republics and monarchies maintain the rule of the politician's guild by newspeak. they diseducate the electorate by continual references to 'our democracy' while assuring them that nation management is too hard to be accessible to anyone but politicians. well, they would say that, wouldn't they?

in fact, real democracy is not impossible. california, for example, comes very close to democracy. so do about half of the united states, and switzerland.

in a modern state, there are three features that make a democracy:

1/ direct election of officers of state

2/ public execution of state activity

3/ primacy of citizen initiative legislation

all are necessary, and in spite of the self-interested protestations of politicians, all are efficient and effective functions of state management.