Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

Site Map of

(1): Home

  • Hello, and welcome ‘backstage’

    Description: A placeholder page, to be replaced with one titled “Moral intelligence and the roots of tyranny.”

    Excerpt: We bid you welcome to, a site which you are invited to tour at your own risk. Our “grand opening” has not yet occurred, and you will have to conduct your own “backstage tour,” circumventing as you do so dress rehearsals still in progress. You may have to avoid tripping over scattered props, and there are some places where the floor....

(1.1): This Site

  • About Us

    Description: The history and mission of, a site dedicated to restoring the values of empathy and moral intelligence to a world and a human species whose future is imperiled by the moral morons of the pathocratic global ruling elite.

    Excerpt: We live in a nation debauched — all of us. It is the nation of the pathocratic global ruling elite, a self-constituted aristocracy of moral morons whose fundamentally psychopathic thinking, amplified and normalized by a media environment that it owns and controls, has become a moral pandemic. Heeding the blandishments of this cabal, we have forgotten the empathy that makes....

(1.1.1): Allies

  • Allies

    Description: As no man is an island, so does no human endeavor stand in isolation if it would have hope of success. The pages in this section introduce you to some of the closest and most trusted of our internet friends and allies.

    Excerpt: Below appear links to profiles for each of our allies. Click to see the profile, or merely scan to see with what sites and blogs we associate ourselves should you wish to clarify in your mind whom we name friend.

  • ‘Wahid 3alam, wahid alam’:

    Description: Whether as the quondam Politirature or the present Nusaireyat, this site is one that we can recommend to you without a qualm: The author understands, in terms virtually identical to our own, the tenets that define moral intelligence and this site.

    Excerpt: Once it combined — with whatever seeming incongruity — “politics” and “literature”; today, it means nothing but a reference to its author’s name (although one could facetiously translate it as something like “victoriousnesses”). Roughly in step with this series of incarnations....

(1.1.2): Staff

  • Staff Directory

    Description: The staff directory for

    Excerpt: World’s smallest staff? ... Appearing below is the shortest masthead in journalistic history (or at least tied for that honor): To date, it consists of....

  • Staff Profile: Abdel Irada

    Description: presents a brief biographic profile of its founding editor, Abdel Irada.

    Excerpt: A quest for truth: Herein ideally lies the purpose of science and journalism alike, however ill served that purpose often is in corrupt reality. Unfortunately, the truth when found and presented more often gives offense and provocation than comfort and commendations to those with the power to effect their will. Thus it is that I now choose not to....

(1.2): Legal

  • Copyright Notice

    Description: This page specifies your legal rights regarding this site and its original content, and you are responsible for familiarizing yourself with its provisions before making any use of such content.

    Excerpt: All material original to this site (this includes virtually everything except photographic and comparable images used as illustrations for articles posted hereon, which are addressed on a separate page) is offered under the following conditions.

  • Fair Use

    Description: On fair use, copyright law, and the use of images from other sites on

    Excerpt: As will be noted, the images we use here are not, with rare exceptions, trademark items or other material clearly original to the source sites; further, those exceptions occur only where we are reviewing the sites in question and the presentation of banners and similar items falls....

  • Privacy Policy

    Description: Mark Zuckerberg to the contrary, believes privacy is a fundamental right. That’s why we don’t compromise yours.

    Excerpt: Unlike Mark Zuckerberg, we don’t think our readers are so many “dumb f---s.” This is why we set a firm privacy policy from the outset and inform you explicitly of what information we collect, in what circumstances, and what you can do if you don’t want us to....

(1.3): Contact

  • Contact Us

    Description: Use this form to contact

    Excerpt: N/A

(1.4): Site Map

  • Site Map

    Description: Site Map. Titles, URLs and brief descriptions of every page on

    Excerpt: N/A

(2): Economy

  • Economy: Introduction and Table of Contents

    Description: We bid you welcome to the Economy section of

    Excerpt: When time permits, this index page will be replaced with an examination of the state of the global economy as well as that of the United States, our vision for making it work better for all its participants, and the steps we anticipate its taking on the way. For now....

(2.1): Banking Industry

  • Marxism, Inc.? ‘We will bury you — and then sell your remains forever’

    Description: How a Marxist revolutionary became a capitalist commodity, and how the ‘financial services’ industry threatens to make commodities of us.

    Excerpt: Capitalism, however, has nothing to celebrate. Where the Marxists failed to destroy it, the bankers seem headed for a brilliant, if necessarily temporary, success. Che Guevara is a capitalist commodity, but hedge-fund manager John Paulson and his colleagues....

  • Swiss banking: A sordid history

    Description: Swiss banks: ‘We’ll keep a private account for anyone — Nazi, international criminal, corrupt statesman — unless his name is Julian Assange’

    Excerpt: Swiss bank accounts are indeed widely known, and long have been, for security and privacy. This is precisely why they have historically appealed to those who wish to hide their money from authorities of various stripes. This is the source of their popularity among everyone from WikiLeaks to metanational corporations to globe-trotting criminals to Nazis who wanted a place to conceal funds stolen from Jews murdered during....

  • The return of indentured servitude

    Description: How home buyers can die owing the bank more than they borrowed.

    Excerpt: The rule of law is fast becoming a quaint conceit in the (Citizens) United States of Corporotopia: Those who can buy legislators and change the laws rule. And now, those who can’t pay their mortgage may find themselves homeless and handing off a quarter of their income — for life — to repay a bank that can keep them in debt forever by setting interest rates....

(2.2): Bottled Water

  • The bottled-water advantage

    Description: The ‘advantage’ of drinking bottled water: You get to spend money for tapwater in a plastic bottle.

    Excerpt: Well, anyway, it has a pretty label, so carrying it sends a message to the world about your sophistication and your socioeconomic status. (True. And the message it sends is that you’re naive enough to spend $1.79 for twelve ounces of tapwater in a plastic bottle, and somewhat poorer than you’d be....

(2.3): Business Ethics

  • ‘All wrongs reserved’

    Description: What a ‘creative’ model: Steal a photo, copy text from Wikipedia, and then try to copyright the result. (From a review of a page submitted to StumbleUpon.)

    Excerpt: What makes it so egregious is its hypocrisy: The webmaster has posted a copyright warning at the bottom of the page, warning readers, “All rights reserved.” ... Exactly what rights would those be? The rights to the copied text, or the rights to the photograph, which appears....

  • ‘KKK is A-OK, but WikiLeaks is wicked’

    Description: Visa, American Express and MasterCard won’t do business with WikiLeaks because of moral qualms, but they have no objection to the KKK or illegal Israeli settlers who bribe soldiers to mutiny.

    Excerpt: If, as the proverb has it, “birds of a feather flock together,” these companies have chosen their associates well, for what they have done here is a kind of financial terrorism. And their victims are all those who don’t accept the notion that government is best conducted out of the ken of the governed. ... Perhaps a boycott is in order. After all, we, too, get to choose....

  • Time for a new business ethic?

    Description: The corporate charter, as presently constituted, is a mandate for psychopathy.

    Excerpt: ...[H]e’d repeat an old economic motto: Caveat emptor: “Let the buyer beware.” Finding this maxim questioned, he’d scornfully ask, “What would you have: ‘Let the seller beware’?” precisely as if the answer were self-evident. ... It’s taken me a while to articulate this, but I think the reply to this time-sanctioned aphorism of thieves might be simply this: “If you wouldn’t buy it, don’t....

(2.4): Chemical Industry

  • Not so cuddly: Dryer sheets pack a toxic wallop

    Description: Almost everyone uses dryer sheets and fabric softeners, but almost no one knows what’s in them. The truth is shocking — no wonder the chemical industry wants to keep it secret.

    Excerpt: Since these compounds are intended to keep clothes soft for some time, they outgas slowly, with some absorbing through the wearer’s skin and others becoming airborne to be breathed by the wearer and others nearby. However, they are most dangerous during the drying cycle, when they are heated by the dryer and released in concentrated form in the fumes discharged through the vent. ... That these fumes are noxious and presumably harmful my family....

(2.5): Corporations

(2.5.1): Bell Telephone

  • Rings a bell

    Description: How corporate executives’ conservative thinking and paranoia often stifle innovation.

    Excerpt: Telling us of the enormous potential for innovation at the venerable Bell Labs and contrasting it with the uninspiring record of actual development and marketing that the labs really compiled, it raises murky but fascinating questions as to how technology reaches — or doesn’t reach....

(2.5.2): Blackwater (aka Xe Services aka U.S. Training Center aka Academi)

  • Noisome Blackwater in a new cistern

    Description: Its reputation besmirched by violence and corruption, Blackwater reinvents itself — first as Xe Services, and now as the U.S. Training Center.

    Excerpt: Hence, this latest manifestation: the U.S. Training Center. Will the ever-metamorphosizing company stick with this newest repackaging? My impression is that it will do so only so long as the new package is still effective at concealing the decaying....

(2.5.3): BP (aka British Petroleum aka the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company)

  • Out of sight, out of mind: Will BP get away with murder — again?

    Description: BP’s ‘biochemical bomb’ in the Gulf of Mexico may shorten millions of lives.

    Excerpt: ...[T]he Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security and local law-enforcement agencies colluded with BP in keeping reporters and photographers away from the Gulf and contaminated beaches; the result was compared to the effects of a police state. ... But this was not enough. The company also felt the need to hide the evidence that would show the full scale of the leak, so, in the name of “dispersing” the oil, BP applied a million gallons of a solvent called Corexit, which....

(2.5.4): Google

  • Identity for sale?

    Description: After testing ways to protect users’ personal information, Google rejected them in favor of making more money by selling it.

    Excerpt: ...[U]sers’ personal identifying information (PII) has been routinely made available, assisting marketing efforts by both the sites you visit and Google itself. As a side-effect, the suit notes, it is possible for unscrupulous site operators to use the information Google provides to glean such information as your name, address, telephone number, email address(es) and bank....

(2.5.5): Monsanto

  • Greetings, fellow Monsanto customer

    Description: How Monsanto has made its genetically modified products ubiquitous — and driven natural plants to extinction.

    Excerpt: Also, we don’t yet know how vulnerable the modified genomes may be. They are doubtless conveniently immune to a Monsanto-produced herbicide, but can we be sure that they will also be immune to the parasites, diseases and other adversities that may befall them? And since genetically modified crops have existed only in recent times, is it wise to make the entire human species a test subject....

  • Harpies of a feather

    Description: Why farmers and their allies are destroying GM crops, and how Monsanto is teaming up with the former Blackwater Corporation to suppress them.

    Excerpt: I am not a biotechnologist. I do not pretend to understand the potential long-term effects of consuming genetically modified foods, nor if indeed they are “nutritionally equivalent” to traditional foods as the industry assures us. But, like many other people around the world, I am troubled by the suspicion that the biotech industry doesn’t really know either. There have been....

(2.6): Energy Industry

  • A question of priorities

    Description: On the comparative importance of clean water versus seven hours of fuel.

    Excerpt: Long experience with similar developments has taught us one thing too well: We can’t....

  • Considering the source

    Description: ‘Peak oil’ has already reached Saudi Arabia, says Saudi Aramco oil exec.

    Excerpt: We’ve all heard of peak oil: the point beyond which further petroleum exploration and development will yield steadily declining returns. But the phrase has mostly been used by environmentalists and scientists, two groups that industry has been largely successful in caricaturing in the American public mind as impractical and conspiratorial control freaks who are determined to manufacture a rationale for more government regulation, with an underlying assumption that there’s big money....

  • To flay the earth

    Description: Is there anything we won’t destroy in pursuit of fuel?

    Excerpt: ...[A]lthough reasonable observers can disagree about the timeline, we can be sure that petroleum, coal and similar fuels will not renew themselves, and will run out sooner or later; meanwhile, we doggedly go on extracting such fuels even as doing so becomes harder, more expensive and more harmful to people and the environment. And there is no “away” to....

(2.7): Food Industry

  • ‘Bitter waters’ ahead

    Description: On Dracula, the growing food crisis, and how we might survive it.

    Excerpt: In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, preparing him for a terrible duty that he must face, Dr. Van Helsing tells Jonathan Harker, “We must pass through the bitter waters before we reach the sweet.” So it shall be for all of us; for before we can restore a wholesome global economy, many millions, perhaps billions....

  • Fire-resistant butter?

    Description: How did our butter become contaminated with flame retardants, and what happened to our regulators?

    Excerpt: This has actually been apparent since at least the early years of the 20th century, when manufacturers found it expeditious to replace natural flavors and colors with coal-tar derivatives and comparably toxic adulterants; it is also why regulatory agencies were created in the first place. ... But the GOP’s frittling brigade has been depressingly successful in indoctrinating Americans to believe that they are overtaxed and....

(2.8): Frittling

  • Moral deficit

    Description: On spurious duopolies and the source of the U.S.’ economic pain.

    Excerpt: Here’s another word that starts with a “D”: duopoly. Originally used in economics to denote an oligopoly in which only two firms participate — with predictably minimal competition — in a given market, the term is applied in politics to the U.S.’....

  • ‘Voodoo economics’: How the frittlers hexed America

    Description: How Reaganomics allowed kleptocrats in power to frittle away America’s wealth.

    Excerpt: But the real, and far darker, purpose of Reaganomics is clear only to those who examine it with a skeptical gimlet: It is to “frittle” away every function of government that tends to work for the advantage of the working and middle classes in their negotiations with their far richer employers. “Frittle” is a portmanteau combining....

(2.9): Medical Industry

  • Manufactured dissent

    Description: How the health insurance industry manufactured ‘grassroots’ opposition to health-care reform.

    Excerpt: Why did the industry pay the Chamber to advertise for it when it could have done the same things on its own? This is where we must begin fully to apprehend the adroit subtlety of corporate public relations: To advertise directly would have exposed the industry as the real font of opposition to the bill and thereby invited critical scrutiny; by using....

(2.10): Non-Fiat Currency

  • Defund the banks

    Description: As most countries’ fiat currency undergoes spasmodic fluctuations in value, people have begun to look for another medium of exchange. Bitcoins are among the options.

    Excerpt: On the whole, bitcoins might be called the WikiLeaks of currency, related to financial institutions approximately as the leaks-based investigative-journalism site is to....

(2.11): Organic Foods

  • Fatuous fertilizer: What is the real purpose of this ‘study’?

    Description: Why would publish a flawed study that proves nothing but discredits the organic-food industry?

    Excerpt: My conclusion is that this article is fatuous. It tells us nothing, and it does so in a way that could only redound to the discredit of organic farmers precisely when Congress was debating the Food Safety Act. Since the farmers have never made the claim putatively....

(2.12): Pharmaceutical Industry

  • Don’t feed the machine

    Description: Why Big Pharm doesn’t need any more incentives to develop drugs.

    Excerpt: ...[T]he entire drug industry is awash in incentives and far too much concerned with profits and too little with actually helping people; it should, as the cliche has it, “lead, follow or get out of the way.” A more rational solution is to deny new patents, vacate existing ones and create real....

(2.13): Poverty

  • Pathocracy’s message to its victims

    Description: On how psychopaths in government and business prey upon the poor and then blame them for their sufferings, and on’s perverse comment policy.

    Excerpt: ...John Cheese (no apparent relation to John Cleese) tells of his own experiences of the perils of poverty, and details five of the ways in which laissez-faire corporate capitalism systematically penalizes penury, adding to the costs of modern living the special....

  • Poverty kills: Why some Americans aren’t living longer

    Description: Of all the non-genetic variables limiting life-spans, the most important is poverty. Here’s why.

    Excerpt: ...The other, and less known, is that adult longevity is in part a function of economic class. ... This should come as no surprise: One need merely consider the parameters of life to understand why, as our society is structured, such a disparity is inevitable. Even allowing for the vagaries of individual traits and behaviors, here are five broad categories in which poverty....

(2.14): Terror Industry

  • Debunking the terror industry

    Description: For reasons pecuniary and political, an industry has grown in the U.S. — particularly since 9/11 — from a disproportionate sense of the risk of terrorism.

    Excerpt: Former DHS chief Michael Chertoff’s company, which sells backscatter X-ray machines to the TSA, is one well-known example of such a contractor. Needless to say, this business turns a handsome profit, and the industry is lucrative and growing. ... Simultaneously, conservative and anti-Muslim politicians and pundits have prospered by keeping the needle of public attention firmly fixed in the “9/11” groove, and they will continue to play that song until it ceases to produce its desired effect: spellbinding voters with panic entirely....

  • ‘Homeland Security, Inc.: Putting the squeeze on terror since 2011’

    Description: The republic’s bane lies not in the Department of Homeland Security, but in the laws that created it.

    Excerpt: Abolishing the TSA is a good idea, but if we do so in the name of liberty, we must be consistent and rid ourselves not merely of the agency, but of all the practices instituted since 9/11 that have done little other than to bring wealth to a few corporate entities, to enlarge the apparatus of repression for the government that serves them, and to bring into still riper putrescence the state of our once proudly professed democracy and into still deeper....

(2.15): Toxic Commodities

  • An economy built on poison

    Description: On the ubiquity of formaldehyde and why the clothes you’re wearing may be making you sick.

    Excerpt: The trouble with formaldehyde, as with so many other chemicals used in manufacturing, is generally not one of textiles and other products individually exceeding the regulatory limits for its application; very probably, in fact, if our exposure were limited to a class of products, almost no one would suffer a reaction to it. However, nothing exists in isolation. In addition to the resin used....

(2.16): Unemployment

  • ‘For every job, so many men’

    Description: ‘Get a job!’ But how, when there are, on average, six applicants for every opening?

    Excerpt: At a time when the formal unemployment rate is 9.5 percent — and real unemployment is much higher, thanks to the many factors this rate doesn’t take into account — and when there are, on average, six applicants for every job offered, to deny an extension of unemployment benefits on the grounds that to do so would “disincent” the search....

  • ‘While innocence endures’

    Description: In which Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown claims the U.S. can’t afford to extend unemployment benefits, then celebrates with a luxury-studded party at public expense.

    Excerpt: When the great comic poet Ogden Nash wrote the not-so-comic “A Carol For Children,” he must have had “Christians” like Sen. Scott Brown in mind. No more perfect tribute could he have offered than the immortal quatrain: “Two ultimate laws alone we know:/The ledger and the sword;/So far away, so long ago/We lost....

(2.17): Worker Rights

(2.17.1): Unions

( History
  • The other American way?

    Description: ‘No happily ever after’: the history of the American labor movement past and present.

    Excerpt: ...The entire history of labor organizing is defined by this clash of values. On one side are those who believe that people are essentially equal and that their rights — both by law and in fact — should be accordingly comparable; it is they who believe that workers have an absolute right to negotiate from a position of approximate parity with their employers. On the other are those who feel that the employers’ initiative and innovation make them part of a superior and essential class without which there would be no jobs, and that workers ought to recognize....

( Public-Sector
  • Ath-thawra 3alami: The revolution is global

    Description: In Madison, Wisconsin, we see a clash of icons: the awe and prestige of the state against the mere numbers of the people.

    Excerpt: ...In Cairo as in Tunis, in Manama as in Tripoli, we can see a pattern. Although the scenes and actors vary, the theme is a constant: All the pomp, the grandeur, the symbolic authority and might of the ruling elite takes shape in buildings, in statues, in spotlights, domes and fluted columns — all intended to awe citizens into humility and compliance and....

(3): Government

  • Government: Introduction and Table of Contents

    Description: We bid you welcome to the Government section of

    Excerpt: At the webmaster’s discretion, this index page may later be replaced with an essay on the purpose and function of government. For now, however, it is only that: an entry-point for....

(3.1): Climate Policy

  • Both ends against the middle: A tragedy of three continents

    Description: The central country and the beautiful country make covert and sinister alliance, that both may continue the march to perdition.

    Excerpt: When travelers from China (Mandarin Zhung-guo: “Central-country”) first visited the United States, they marvelled to find a land so unspoiled; awed by its majestic vistas of pristine and unsullied nature, its lonely snow-mantled peaks, its virgin forests alive with bear and deer, owl and cougar, its fruitful plains teeming with bison, they called it....

(3.2): Congress

(3.2.1): Corruption

  • Je recuse?

    Description: Congress should emulate the judiciary: Any member with a personal stake in a bill should be required to recuse himself from voting on it.

    Excerpt: In Congress, where there has long been more an actuality than an appearance of corruption, this practice should become law. Although it might well mean that only a minority of senators or representatives could vote on a given question, all those who have received contributions from industries that stand....

(3.2.2): Dual Loyalty

  • Israel’s million-dollar men

    Description: Senators Joe Lieberman and Mark Kirk have both taken in over a million dollars in campaign contributions from Israel. What does this tell us about their loyalties?

    Excerpt: How, you may have wondered, can our Congress vote with such lockstep consistency in support of everything Israel’s government says or does, even when armed services commanders report from the field that its policies endanger American troops? How is it that when Richard Goldstone....

(3.3): Covert Activities

  • The diplomat who wasn’t

    Description: When Raymond Davis was arrested for the killing of two Pakistani intelligence agents, the State Department invoked diplomatic immunity. But it now appears that Davis was wearing his CIA hat at the time.

    Excerpt: This will constitute a perilous dilemma for both Washington and Islamabad. The former demands Davis’ immediate release on grounds of diplomatic immunity and has menaced Pakistan with the possibility of ending the $1.5-billion annual....

(3.4): Drug Policy

  • Primum non nocere: ‘First, do no harm’

    Description: If politicians had to swear an Oath of Nonmaleficence, would the War on Selected Drugs still be going on?

    Excerpt: Perhaps there should be an Oath of Nonmaleficence for politicians. Before taking office, they should sign a legally binding promise to do nothing that they have reason to believe will harm the public interest, no matter how much private wealth it yields....

(3.4.1): Medical Marijuana

  • Medical marijuana and DoJ policy: a matter of consistency

    Description: A letter to Attorney General Eric Holder to accompany a petition asking the Department of Justice to honor the Ogden Memo and respect states’ right to enact medical marijuana laws.

    Excerpt: In 2009, the Department of Justice issued the Ogden memo, advising department lawyers that it was not the policy of the Obama administration to investigate or prosecute users of medical cannabis. I do understand that the memo referred to users under “existing law,” and....

  • On medical marijuana and senseless policies

    Description: When government policies lack empathy and logic, be sure that there is a reason: money.

    Excerpt: Once again, StumbleUpon member Metal-Tiger has hit the nail right on the thumb, and the Department of Justice should be letting out a yelp of pain as soon as it processes the fact that its probable motivations have been exposed with such agonizing accuracy. As is so often true in our mammonolatry, if a policy is inconsistent, illogical and inhumane, the real reason....

(3.5): Foreign Policy

  • Ambassador from Monsanto?

    Description: What kind of nation ‘punishes’ its oldest allies when they cross it: a ‘first among equals’ or a spoiled hegemonic child?

    Excerpt: The petulant pout pictured below is worn by Craig Stapleton, the George W. Bush administration’s ambassador to France, who once co-owned the Texas Rangers with Bush and has since bought a stake in the St. Louis Cardinals in Monsanto Corporation’s home....

  • Welcome to USNORTHCOM, Mr. Orwell

    Description: Perpetual war: Is it 1984 or 2011?

    Excerpt: The article discussed below comprises a comment on a Pakistani forum; as such, its English is understandably imperfect, but although I do not endorse every opinion it contains, it is quite intelligible and articulates some predictions regarding U.S. antiterrorism strategy/foreign policy/military interventions that....

(3.6): Government: Miscellany

  • To sign, or not to sign?

    Description: Should presidents circumvent Congress by making recess appointments?

    Excerpt: This petition presented me with an ethical dilemma of the first order. I remember nothing like it since the day in 2004 when I was running the now-defunct, and got a personal email from Ryan Dupre — the Marine corporal who made himself infamous and cast a shadow of malevolence over the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq when he told a reporter from the UK’s Sunday Times, “The Iraqis are sick people, and we are the chemotherapy.”...

(3.7): Health Care

  • ‘Patient, heal thyself’

    Description: A cartoon: The latest technique for reducing health-care costs: Leave the patients in the waiting room until their condition resolves.

    Excerpt: This is the necessary consequence of pathocracy (rule by psychopaths): If you’re not part of the Elect that controls the institutions of our society, you have no worth and no rights. Such legislation will never, of course, be overt — not as long as the legislators care about getting reelected — but it is and increasingly will be implicit in all decisions that hold....

(3.8): Imperialism

  • ‘Eaten alive’: the colonial experience

    Description: Victims of colonization are never dismembered; they are poisoned, paralyzed and left to dissolve from within.

    Excerpt: Consider how the spider takes nourishment of her prey. At no time does she bite off chunks from her victim and masticate them. Rather, she injects her struggling quarry with venom from her chelicerae and retreats; she then waits patiently for the poison to do its work. Gradually, the flailings and thrashings grow....

  • From Vietnam to Iran: ‘The less things change...’

    Description: With Iran as with Vietnam, the U.S. holds a carrot in one hand while wielding a stick with the other. It didn’t work then, and it won't work now.

    Excerpt: As WikiLeaks’ cable releases have shown, not much has changed in Washington since the public advent of the Pentagon Papers. Against Tehran today as against Hanoi four decades ago, the U.S. is pursuing a “dual track” policy, attempting....

  • Life in a monopolar world: Latin America-Middle East entente seeks to restore balance

    Description: The world over, an imperial eagle fastens its talons in almost every country, but a new entente seeks to loosen their grip on two strategically vital regions.

    Excerpt: If a truly honest Honest Abe were to address the people of the United States today, what might he say? “Eleven score and fourteen years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in hypocrisy and dedicated to the proposition that all rich white men are created equal.” ... With sadistic contempt....

  • Postcolonial ‘lip service’

    Description: The Obama administration ‘applauds’ the ouster of Middle Eastern satrapies, but the cheers sound a bit hollow.

    Excerpt: When you read of Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration “applauding” Tunisian protesters who on 14 January 2011 ended that nation’s 23-year dictatorship by ousting President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, and lamenting the lack of reform and disrespect for human rights in the Middle East, it’s worth while to bear in mind....

  • Wealth for some...

    Description: There is no ‘resource curse,’ but abundant mineral resources tend to attract neocolonial meddling, which leads to kleptoplutocratic satrapies.

    Excerpt: It is of course an enormous oversimplification to suggest that the mere presence in a country of significant mineral resources implies that it will be misgoverned. Perhaps it would be more accurate to observe that, during the industrial period in which those resources have been of particular use to competing....

(3.9): Internet

(3.9.1): Kill Switch

  • A kill switch for the kill switch?

    Description: If Eben Moglen’s ‘freedom box’ works as intended, each internet user could soon have his own server.

    Excerpt: In a time when the United States — and most of the rest of the world — is controlled by an amoral, pathocratic elite, and the real war is on between that elite and the rest of humanity, any measure that diffuses control of essential public services is....

  • A ‘thought-control’ switch for demophobes?

    Description: Pathocracy — rule by psychopaths — endures only so long as it remains hidden; this is why the worst of our ‘leaders’ are eager to create a ‘kill switch’ to shut down the internet should unconstrained discussion disclose their secrets.

    Excerpt: To control the internet is an odious idea that has emerged from pathocratic moral lepers at home and abroad. It is not the internet that we need the capacity to kill; it is the idea of killing the internet that needs to die. If indeed the present architecture is vulnerable....

  • Dies irae?

    Description: On the use of internet ‘kill switches’ — and its consequences for those who’ve tried.

    Excerpt: When Egyptian despot Hosni Mubarak tried to quell demonstrations against his regime by shutting down Al-Jazeera News and pulling a “kill switch” on the nation’s internet services, four million people gathered in Tahrir Square to bid him defiance. Within a day....

(3.9.2): Net Neutrality

  • Don’t look behind that curtain!

    Description: When Comcast and other apex ISPs try to legislate competition out of existence, they are trying to hold back a tsunami with a mop and bucket.

    Excerpt: Call it the Comcast Op/Ed. When I read on a site such as Bloomberg BusinessWeekly that Netflix may “kill the internet,” I tend to ask why it would tell me this. What appears clear so far is not that Netflix and similar online content providers will damage the interests of internet users — which is far from proven to my satisfaction — but that they do threaten the profit margins....

(3.10): Law

(3.10.1): Contractual Pathocracy

  • Bully for Bill! But...

    Description: When Universal Press Syndicate told Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson it would start selling merchandise based on his work, he said no; when the syndicate insisted, he quit. But how many artists are so free to set the terms of their contracts?

    Excerpt: Every day, in nearly every country, this same sordid scenario plays itself out. Two parties sign a contract — a document that the U.S. judicial system is pledged to honor before all things else — and are presumed by the courts to do so as equals. But we know there is no equality when....

(3.10.2): Courts

( Jury Nullification
  • A bounty of mutinies?: Why jury revolt cuts both ways

    Description: Jury nullification is a potent check on the power of the state, but it can be used for evil as well as good.

    Excerpt: Jury nullification is not a new idea, and although it is often a means of dispensing justice in an unjust judicial system, it has also amassed a history of misuse that makes it a double-edged weapon which cannot....

( Supreme Court
  • An indispensable reference

    Description: If you want to know what (or if) the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on a given matter, consult this site. (From a review of a Cornell University law school compilation of Supreme Court decisions.)

    Excerpt: I expect this page to become one of the internet’s premier argument-settlers. I also expect to refer to it often as I write entries for this site. So, if you talk about politics with any frequency, don’t miss this page; you may be sure your adversaries won’t.

  • A court disgraced: On the real meaning of ‘judicial activism’

    Description: Although its current personnel are particularly egregious, the U.S. Supreme Court has a long history of perverting well-meant law for the benefit of plutocrats.

    Excerpt: There is nothing new about the Supreme Court’s judicial activism on behalf of corporate power. What we see today is a mere reaffirmation of the court’s role as a guarantor of class stability, assuring monied interests that they need fear no regulation from federal or state governments, and that....

  • A foregone conclusion?

    Description: In which the U.S. Supreme Court once again deliberates on a corporate proposal to abolish the class-action suit, and why such a decision would be disastrous to consumers.

    Excerpt: Batten down the hatches, American consumers: The Supreme Court(TM) is about to decide the fate of class-action suits, and whether states can permit them. Currently, federal law mandates arbitration rather than such suits, but states are free to make their own laws on the subject. However, thanks to AT&T, states’ right to....

  • Well, recu-u-use me!

    Description: Since his wife, Virginia, is a political lobbyist, Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from cases in which she has a pecuniary stake.

    Excerpt: Thomas should be required to stay out of any case in which his decision might so much as appear to be influenced by his wife’s political activities and consequent financial investment in the outcome. This is the law as it pertains to all lower courts; how much more, then, ought it to apply....

(3.10.3): Judicial Incompetence

  • Cartoonish vacuity

    Description: Joe Rehyansky has some advice for the military: Keep gays out, lest they be tempted by their fellow GIs’ ‘lithe naked bodies,’ and enlist lesbians for ‘corrective rape’ therapy.

    Excerpt: Possibly Rehyansky should be disbarred and sent to jail for suborning a felony. But if he were, I suspect he’d enjoy his “corrective rape” more than most inmates.

(3.10.4): Mercenary Justice

  • Criminal injustice

    Description: As in Dickens’ England, so in the U.S. today: ‘Justice’ is a commodity, and almost always goes to the highest bidder.

    Excerpt: Today, we can see what Dickens had in mind, for in recent years our ruling elite’s greed and fecklessness have come to outweigh its prudence and pragmatism, and it has grown remiss in concealing its fundamental collective psychopathy. It has become....

(3.10.5): Police State

  • Essential reading

    Description: An essential reference for every American citizen: the full text of the USA-PATRIOT Act.

    Excerpt: But how industrious it was of our leaders to draft, complete and adopt this massive bill, which so pervasively adulterates so much of our body of laws, in a mere six weeks! If it were not....

(3.11): Law Enforcement

  • Dash cam may prove murder

    Description: An apparent murder by a Seattle cop shows why dash cameras are essential equipment for all law enforcement contacts with the public.

    Excerpt: Although as part of a corrupt institution, Seattle police officer Ian Birk will doubtless escape criminal prosecution for what appears to be an act of murder, at least his crime is known. Does anyone reading this imagine that Birk would have been disciplined at all....

(3.12): Surveillant State

  • Are we the enemy?

    Description: As of 2006, the Pentagon viewed the internet as an ‘enemy weapons system’ and proposed to develop means to ‘fight’ and possibly destroy it. This is only one facet of a more comprehensive and ambitious plan.

    Excerpt: “And, in a grand finale, the document recommends that the United States should seek the ability to ‘provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum.’ ... “U.S. forces should be able to ‘disrupt or destroy the full....

(3.12.1): TSA

  • ‘Big Sister’ and her big plans

    Description: Janet Napolitano wants to make it clear that not only is the TSA Morton’s Fork (full-body scanner or ‘enhanced’ patdown) going to remain part of air travel, but that she is convinced that the methods the agency uses are effective — despite a reported 70-percent fail rate in some independent tests — and should be expanded to other travel venues.

    Excerpt: “For the first time that I recall reading, the department has revealed explicit plans to apply its security methods on trains and subways. Napolitano has also hinted that shopping malls and sports stadiums might be among the TSA’s security objectives. From this we can infer that buses....

  • Civil distractions?

    Description: The civil-liberties questions raised by the TSA are among the few issues that fire up both left and right. Is it possible that they’re being brought up now as a red herring when less glamorous but more substantive matters are under discussion in Congress and the Supreme Court?

    Excerpt: I am beginning to wonder about the timing of this TSA “story,” now the darling of the internet after being introduced via right-wing/libertarian sites (such as Alex Jones’ paranoia/conspiracy/pseudoscience site, to which I intend to give no further publicity and therefore will not name) and then picked up by left-wing....

  • The TSA conundrum

    Description: I am suspicious of the TSA, and I am equally suspicious of those leading the reaction against it. I object to the TSA’s intrusions, but I do not imagine that the intrusions would be any less with private security doing the intruding.

    Excerpt: I have always found the timing of the backlash suspicious, given that the scanners have been in use since 2007 — although they weren’t mandatory until recently — and have noted that the “journalists” who brought the issue to public attention may be acting with interests other than....

  • To confront and to deflate

    Description: A bully once successfully confronted can never recover, never exert the fearful fascination that once made him invincible; nevermore will Americans quail before the almighty apparatus, for they have seen its hidden weakness and they shall never forget.

    Excerpt: Not since Army lawyer and American hero Joseph Nye Welch — may his name never be forgotten — famously rebuked communist witch-hunter Sen. Joseph McCarthy, asking him, “Have you no decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” has one man so quietly....

(3.13): Terrorism

  • Only 95 percent?

    Description: If 95 percent of suicide terrorism is caused by foreign occupation, might it be logical to let other countries govern themselves?

    Excerpt: The truly alarming aspect of this issue: What Al-Qaida publicly demands of the U.S. appears to be, in essence, this: “Get your armed forces out of our countries. If you guarantee our security, we’ll guarantee....

  • Through clear eyes: An objective examination of the definition and ethics of terrorism

    Description: Terrorism is not new; nor is it an end in itself. It is a quasimilitary tactic of ancient provenance, and there is no agreement as to a universal definition. And, in some circumstances, it can even be considered ethical.

    Excerpt: Not only has no agreement been reached as to a definition acceptable to all parties (one that does not point to their own past or present culpability), but it can, using commonly accepted definitional elements, be applied as a description of such acts as the nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the firebombing of Dresden and....

(3.14): Wars

(3.14.1): Iraq War

  • A frittler’s bonanza

    Description: It’s certainly good to find further confirmation that our national leaders’ values are as morally and logically sound as ever. As we have seen, lying is among their central ethical principles, so it’s no surprise that truth-telling should be severely punished; it’s almost as offensive to their sensibilities as the impoverished.

    Excerpt: My sole quibble with this graphic is that the statistics it presents are either outdated or inaccurate: * As of 26 April 2011, 4,452 U.S. troops had been killed and 32,074 wounded, 20 percent of them with serious brain or spinal injuries. Of returning troops, 30 percent have developed severe psychological conditions, principally post-traumatic stress disorder. * Iraqi civilians killed by violence total at least....

  • Deadly checkpoints

    Description: According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the Wikileaks-powered Iraq War Logs, detailed manual counts of Iraqis killed at U.S./coalition checkpoints show that only 120 were so-called insurgents, while 681 (or 80 percent) were civilians.

    Excerpt: But this doesn’t always work as planned: Although most of the nearly 14,000 reported incidents connected to checkpoints and convoys ended harmlessly, there have been 832 cases to date in which a driver was unable to see or hear the....

(4): Mammonolatry

  • Mammonolatry: Introduction and Table of Contents

    Description: We bid you welcome to the Mammonolatry section of

    Excerpt: At the webmaster’s discretion, this index page may later be replaced with an essay describing what mammonolatry is, how it has come to be the real religion of our ruling elite, and how to rid ourselves of it. For now....

  • 0.1-percent solution

    Description: Our peerless leaders show their sense of priorities, and on the political power of money.

    Excerpt: Call it the triage of Dr. Duopoly: Since it is the top 0.1 percent of America’s economic elite whose lobbyists and campaign contributors can make themselves heard in Washington and state capitals, we should not be surprised that “our” representatives — both Republican and Democratic — consistently act in the interests of that elite and with callous....

  • A ‘recovery’ for some

    Description: Today’s economy: How can we be so rich and so poor at the same time?

    Excerpt: Metanational corporations have never enjoyed greater prosperity and influence than they do today. Getting more work out of fewer employees for wages that have all but stagnated since the early 1980s, with expanding control of cultural and media environments and growing freedom of action in the political sphere, they have reaped unprecedented profits, and their senior executives have been compensated beyond the most optimistic imaginings of their predecessors. ... But all this gain comes at a cost. Workers, meanwhile, are ever more overworked and stressed, and live in constant dread....

  • Capitalism for us, communism for Wall Street

    Description: How a bifurcated economy spreads America’s wealth — among those who already have it.

    Excerpt: One day, perhaps history will record that the executives of Wall Street, and their friends and relations, died of a surfeit of free lunch. Unfortunately, before pecuniary cholesterol poisoning overtakes these luminaries, the rest of the U.S.’ economy may be blowing about on the streets of China like an empty plastic shopping bag in a stiff....

  • Exposing the roots of mammonolatry

    Description: How the hidden financial machinations of the elite confound America’s professed ideals.

    Excerpt: Those who rule virtually every nation of the world are part of a global elite that does not recognize borders, sovereignty or the right of any people to control its own resources. ... Not much has really changed from the time when medieval warfare in Europe was a sporting affair in the eyes of nobles, who “kept score” by comparing the “bags” of impoverished infantrymen killed at the points of their lances, while to one another....

  • Going to the dogs

    Description: A sure sign of decadence: The pets of the aristocracy are better housed than most people.

    Excerpt: At a time when more Americans than ever before are being dispossessed through no fault of their own for the further enrichment of Hilton’s economic class, this suggests that we have permitted our democratic republic to degenerate into a corrupt aristocracy. There was a time, elevenscore....

  • Got the drowning democracy blues

    Description: How corporate-funded lobbying and astroturf groups distort democracy and corrode the values of our republic.

    Excerpt: It didn’t mention the individual Congress members whom the corporate front groups succeeded in ousting, such as campaign-finance reformer Russ Feingold. This entails a chain of consequences, for it is precisely the people who might have demanded accountability, or even have considered....

  • Heavy on the makeup, light on the resolve

    Description: How agents of the neofeudal elite frittle America’s wealth to undermine our freedom.

    Excerpt: ... [P]eople are easier to control when you have them over a barrel. The elite is not merely transferring wealth upward, it is doing so deliberately to ensure that wealth will continue to flow upward, well aware that once the lower classes become desperate enough for the meagre necessities of physical survival, they will more readily accept any conditions offered by those controlling those necessities, and be further....

  • Jeerleader tryouts?

    Description: Leading the cheers for injustice. (A comment on a “Jones” cartoon on

    Excerpt: “What’s that spell? ... “mammonolatry! ... “What’s it mean? ... “Gimme gimme gimme! ... “(’Cause it’s all....

  • Kleptoplutocrats have much in common

    Description: What do Hosni Mubarak, Silvio Berlusconi and Al Capone have in common? Besides everything, I can’t think of much.

    Excerpt: In an interview with New York Times reporter Claud Cockburn (for a story that the latter never published, for reasons explained elsewhere), Capone was inspired to flights of oratory: “This American system of ours,” he shouted, “call it Americanism, call it Capitalism, call it what you like, gives to each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.” This (in)famous speech constituted Capone’s defense of his description of capitalism as “the legitimate racket of the ruling....

  • More questions than answers

    Description: On national wealth and how to quantify it, and on the shortcomings of such assessments.

    Excerpt: As regards “gross national income”: Was this, as is usual, a mean average? Statistics based on mean income tend to be misleading to the extent that inequality of wealth exists. That some people in a group are disproportionately rich artificially raises the mean income in a way that doesn’t accurately reflect how much money most people in that group actually make. You will note, in reading Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, for example, that this has been understood....

  • Of tax dodgers and fiscal responsibility

    Description: Some say America is living beyond its means. But is this because we’re spending too much or taking in too little?

    Excerpt: Some of the most profitable companies doing business in the U.S. pay almost no taxes on their record-setting profits, and some have even received rebates that leave them the net beneficiaries of government largesse. ... Combine this with the free money handed off, in our bifurcated economy, to those able to prove....

  • Right from the hog’s mouth

    Description: ‘Free enterprise’: What ever became of this ideal?

    Excerpt: The professed capitalist ideal is a system in which companies compete to provide the best goods and services at the best price, and those that fail perish, which in principle assures the best outcome for consumers and the success of meritorious business models. Unfortunately, there has been little of this. In reality, corporations have collaborated to seize control by using the media they own to help elect governments that will do their bidding; in place of competition, there is collusion; in place of healthy failures of the corrupt and inefficient, there are....

  • The case of the errant sentinel

    Description: How the liberal guardians have been bribed from their posts — by those whom they were guarding.

    Excerpt: But no one said oligarchs are morally intelligent. They know little, and care less, about the broader consequences of their actions; if it isn’t going to make money soon, they don’t want any part of it. So they have now methodically bribed their own guards, turning them into such obsequious flunkies that they are now despised as hypocrites when they begin to mouth the grand duckspeak of social....

  • The insufferable smirk of elite impunity

    Description: On the ‘working relationship’ between plutocrats and their ‘public’ servants.

    Excerpt: Danziger has got this exactly right, for it perfectly depicts the real relationship between nominally powerful government officials and the reigning kleptoplutocrats for whom they toil. Scott Walker and other “leaders” of his stripe doubtless know this quite well, and that is why Walker tripped over himself in his eagerness to take a call from a fake “David Koch” that led him into his first nationally reported Sarah....

  • ‘The Old Firm’?

    Description: A moral comparison of two sets of ‘brothers’: Croup and Vandemar versus Charles and David Koch.

    Excerpt: I find I must begin by apologizing: It seems I have once again become muddled and got the “brothers” Croup and Vandemar (characters in Neil Gaiman’s superlative novel Neverwhere, below) confused with the brothers Charles and David Koch. Given the respective moral health of the two pairs, I realize that this may be an actionable libel, and I therefore explicitly assure the former pair....

  • The ‘right’ way

    Description: Pathocratic triage: austerity for the many, prosperity for the few.

    Excerpt: And here we see the whole of the right wing’s “ideas” on economic issues: The rich just aren’t rich enough, so let’s transfer still more wealth to that 0.1 percent of America that has been pulling away from the rest of us with ever-growing celerity....

  • Water filters: Emblems of an imploding civilization?

    Description: Today’s water departments test and treat for more contaminants than ever before. So, why is our water getting steadily worse?

    Excerpt: And so it is that the job of ensuring that clean and wholesome water flows from our taps has ceased to be the concern of public agencies and fallen directly upon every individual American, whether or not he has the capacity to meet this responsibility. It’s now up to you: Do you know what’s in your water? And if so, do you have the filtering media and reagents....

  • Welcome to the United States of Chiquita

    Description: How growing economic inequality is turning the United States into a banana republic.

    Excerpt: What a fascinating coincidence. The U.S.’ national economy, in common with those of many other nations, has meandered into a ditch: Unemployment is at 9.7 percent, median income growth is virtually stalled, more people are in poverty than at any time since the Great Depression, the middle class is beleaguered and shriveling, the working class has lost real income, a quarter of the nation’s children need food stamps to keep them fed, and there is no relief in sight. Meanwhile, corporate profits are at an all-time high, taxes on the hyper-rich have been steadily falling since 1980, CEOs make 581....

  • Whose ‘public servants’ are these?

    Description: If you’re in the working class, you have enemies in Congress.

    Excerpt: As long as we continue to tolerate this pathological mammonolatry; as long as we get our news from television and talk radio; as long as the formula that says each dollar invested in a campaign will buy so many votes continues to work; as long as we remain prisoners of a system in which the approved political organizations are servants of callous oligarchs who don’t care if we live or die; as long as we permit ourselves to be distracted and divided by issues that move us emotionally but do not touch on the central....

(5): Pathocracy

  • Pathocracy: Introduction and Table of Contents

    Description: We bid you welcome to the Pathocracy section of

    Excerpt: In time to come, this index page will be replaced with an essay explaining the moral pandemic of pathocracy (rule by psychopaths), how societies and social movements tend to contract it, and the one sure remedy for this social malady. For now....

  • American pathocrats, beware

    Description: Around the world, governments are imposing ‘austerity’ on their citizens for the benefit of banking interests. But people are starting to say, ‘Enough.’

    Excerpt: As time passes and the elite continues tightening a belt around their tracheas, they will do as the Europeans are doing and raise their voices in a demand for fairer treatment. ... And if justice is denied them much longer, American workers will eventually deploy....

  • Annulling the republic: Beware the Ides of April

    Description: When ‘emergency financial manager’ Joe Harris took charge of Benton Harbor, MI, he stripped the elected government of all authority, and then the corporate giveaways began.

    Excerpt: Lucius Cornelius Sulla, made Dictator of Rome by senatorial acclaim under the watchful eyes of his occupying army in the first century BC, similarly annulled the authority of the Tribunate of the Plebs — the nearest thing the republic then had to direct representation of its ordinary citizens. Contemporary humorists said....

  • A breed apart?

    Description: In Jack Finney’s Time and Again, protagonist Simon Morley joins a time-travel project, but then discovers its sinister ‘practical’ purpose and the psychopaths behind it, metaphorically describing the pathocracy that is our global nightmare.

    Excerpt: Let the cloak of secrecy fall away in shreds, and let what our shameless elites plan for us stand revealed in all its hideous reality, that we may the sooner oust and institutionalize the psychopaths who are leading us the way to....

  • A definite ‘almost’

    Description: A comment on the comments: Readers of this (flawed) article sound off on the sociopathy of the ruling elite.

    Excerpt: More really consequential are the implications to be found in the comments section. Surprisingly for a “business” site, many commenters appear to be cognizant of the essentially psychopathic character of the ruling elite and its corporate mammonolatry, and remark....

  • Denaturing language, raping the penurious

    Description: Congressional Republicans, avid for the ‘pro-life’ vote, are trying to redefine ‘rape.’ But their definition will redouble victims’ burden and exonerate their attackers.

    Excerpt: Sexual contact falls into two classes: consensual and non-consensual. And sex without consent is rape. That the unwanted sex be “forcible,” as these Republicans would require, is not an element of this definition, for there are many ways for a malignly ingenious rapist to....

  • Dress rehearsal, Act 2?

    Description: Lately, government authority has been used to seize servers of sites suspected of copyright violations or child pornography. But this is the thin end of the wedge. The ultimate objective is to ‘provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum’.

    Excerpt: When corrupt authority wishes to censor a medium, it begins at the point of least resistance: It targets only those whom it can label as lawbreakers. This is easiest to do when its targets are relatively weak and unpopular — people like child pornographers. But this will only carry it so far; eventually, it needs to start testing its ability to pursue large numbers of....

  • Emergency of state?

    Description: The United States has been in a ‘state of emergency’ since 1979. This puts us in a class of countries — also including Israel, Syria, Algeria and Egypt — whose civil freedoms have been partially suspended for decades.

    Excerpt: Not only is every one of these conditions present in the United States at this moment, but the disparity between the ruling elite and the rest of us is actually greater here than it was in Mubarak’s Egypt or Ben Ali’s Tunisia. In fact, U.S. economic inequality rates, as measured by Gini Coefficient, were the 42nd-worst in the world as of....

  • Fracking up the environment: The energy industry as seen from the epicenter

    Description: If you want to see the U.S. energy industry from the inside, go to the epicenter: Texas.

    Excerpt: Of late, the practice of extracting natural gas from shale by hydraulic fracturing has been much in the news, because this technique for obtaining what is billed as “cleaner energy” turns out to be....

  • From the Better Late Than Never Department

    Description: The ‘liberal’/‘conservative’ dichotomy is a useful illusion cultivated by the ruling elite in a mammonolatry in which there is no genuine political left.

    Excerpt: I’m glad to see more political writers beginning to record what should have been understood from the outset: Capitalist “democracy” is the product of a system of mirages, illusions and deceptions, and the interests of ordinary people are represented under it, if at all, only as limited exceptions occasionally and temporarily forced upon the ruling elite through aggressive and assiduous agitation on the part of public advocates. How many....

  • Gang Of Pathocrats?

    Description: How much longer before well-meaning rank-and-file Republicans smell the stench of psychopathy from their party leadership? (Comment on a Ben Sargent cartoon.)

    Excerpt: When will the fetor of sadism, of grandiosity and narcissism, of unsparing contempt for tens of millions of “inferior” fellow Americans, make itself smelt....

  • Irony deficiency?

    Description: How a pathocratic aristocracy retains power: Divide et impera. (Comment on a Jen Sorensen/ cartoon.)

    Excerpt: Better, it hints at the underlying irony: If more private-sector workers still had unions, they would have nothing to envy....

  • Kidney, anyone?

    Description: Although most don’t sell prisoners’ kidneys on the black market, psychopaths rule almost every nation of the world.

    Excerpt: No longer, in a world where no secret is safe for long, can the Mafiosi who call themselves presidents, judges and prime ministers conceal their complicity in the most ghastly crimes that....

  • Murder by mammonolatry

    Description: When 17-year-old vineyard worker Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez died on the job, the official cause of death was heatstroke. But what really killed her was economic pathocracy.

    Excerpt: In this corrupt calculus lies the supreme horror of our economic system. Ultimately, capitalism as we know it must perish, not because it is unsustainable, but because it is morally leprous: From a thousand million throats its victims cry out; their anguish rings from the mountaintops, and their despair darkens the skies. Such cries could drag to hell....

  • Of ‘sedition,’ jurists and burning theaters

    Description: ‘Thou shalt not cry “fire” in a crowded theater,’ Oliver Wendell Holmes told us. But what if the theater really is on fire?

    Excerpt: In such a case, I am fairly certain that Holmes would have called upon whoever became aware of this condition to make it known, calmly and discreetly, to an usher at his first opportunity. ... But now imagine that you, and others, have repeatedly spoken to the ushers — and been calmly assured that there was no fire and that, as responsible theater-goers, you should return quietly to your seats and avoid disturbing your fellow....

  • Ongoing skirmishes in the Disputed region

    Description: Fiction or darkling reality? Since World War II, the U.S. has emulated the superstates in George Orwell’s 1984 by carrying on perpetual warfare.

    Excerpt: Today we are fighting openly in — and occupying — Afghanistan (and until recently also Iraq), and covertly in a dozen other nations of North Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. The Pentagon has already drawn contingency plans to bomb (potentially even with nuclear warheads) or invade Iran, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and North Korea....

  • Poker farce

    Description: Praise is due Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for revealing the chicanery by which inflation is calculated at near zero while the cost of living skyrockets.

    Excerpt: That there is “no inflation” is a convenient myth based on a deliberate misrepresentation. While the statement may well be true on average, that average includes high-end purchases — such as new-generation electronics — which are stable or in some cases falling in price. However, costs for food, medicines, housing, health care and the thousand other necessities that constitute the enormous....

  • Priorities

    Description: What does it say about American ‘democracy’ when voting is a riskier gamble than the slot machines?

    Excerpt: This tells us two things about capitalist “democracy” that we would do well not to forget: Money is more important than voting rights, and voting is a riskier....

  • Profits for pathocrats, poison for posterity

    Description: Should American Electric Power be allowed an exemption from the Clean Air Act for its coal-fired power plants?

    Excerpt: It may seem to today’s executives, racing to amass wealth without a thought for the costs that their profits exact from others, that they are intelligently providing for their children’s future. I submit that such thinking is fatally misguided, for pollution and disease....

  • Remedial anatomy for neo-Puritan hypocrites

    Description: Don’t use dirty words, such as ‘uterus,’ on the floor of the legislature, Florida Republican lawmakers have cautioned their Democratic colleagues.

    Excerpt: ...[U]nfortunately, the real trend seems to run like this: the emptier the cranium, the wider the mouth and the greater likelihood that its gums will flap perpetually in the breeze of a constant emission of ignorant utterances. Thus it is that....

  • Running the wrong way

    Description: For all its faults, the U.S. remains a better place to live than much of the rest of the world. But what’s happening to the values that made it so?

    Excerpt: A decade or more ago, I read in the Santa Cruz local papers a guest editorial written by a young woman just graduating high school (as valedictorian) but endowed with rare clarity of vision. On the subject of patriotism, she drew a distinction worth noting, for both its humility and its wisdom: “I am not proud to be an American,” she wrote. “I am fortunate....

  • The atmosphere is lethal

    Description: Cartoon: A nation in fear.

    Excerpt: N/A

  • The monster behind the mask: Psychopaths in mythology, history, society and evolution

    Description: As we begin better to understand the causes and effects of psychopathy, we discover that psychopaths have been with us from the outset, that they have been central to our myths, our history, the building of our civilizations, that they have served an evolutionary purpose but are now a liability — and that they rule most of our societies.

    Excerpt: We have called him Loki, Lucifer, Satan, Iblis, Ahriman and Set; in mythos past and present, he is the mischief-maker, the author of deception, the origin of evil. His besetting sin is pride: He knows the law, but is certain that it applies to inferior beings; conscience, he knows not at all. To manipulate, to charm....

  • The need to be right

    Description: What kind of ‘leaders’ react with phobic violence against reporters’ revelations of their mistakes and malefactions?

    Excerpt: We may view this fear of exposure as a sophisticated form of the reaction of such primitive, low-level pathocracies as street gangs and schoolyard cliques dominated by bullies to “snitches,” or as a generally subtler form of the response to “informants” evinced by mafias and drug cartels. Since psychopaths....

  • The scales of injustice

    Description: When Tim DeChristopher bid against an oil company for land the latter wanted, he was prepared to pay for it. But he has now been convicted of making a bid for which he had no intention of paying, and was not permitted to prove otherwise.

    Excerpt: Once again, the lesson is hard to miss: We live in a nation debauched. In the Corporate States of America, three crimes top the calendar of malefactions: speaking unwelcome truths, poverty, and taking any action that tends to discredit the mammonolatry. Since DeChristopher is....

  • The Stanford Experiment writ large

    Description: Supermax prisons often inflict punishments far worse than the crimes they are meant to address. In such conditions, the guards’ inner demons are free to maraud at will.

    Excerpt: As the infamous Stanford Experiment showed us, “guards” need not be set to watch real criminals: Merely to instruct one group that it is to act as “prisoners” and the other as “guards” is sufficient to assure that the latter will severely and progressively abuse the former; we have seen this repeatedly, and not merely in such exotic settings as Abu Ghraib. ... But there are those among us who need not be brutalized by....

  • To rationalize the unconscionable

    Description: If a civilization is indeed at war with barbarians, what happens to it when it sets a higher standard for the conduct of the barbarians than for its own?

    Excerpt: Now consider this hypothesis. Let us imagine that the U.S. achieves final victory and crushes all its enemies. If it has achieved this by means of lying to its allies and its own people; creating secret death squads; kidnapping people whom it either wrongly suspects of terrorism or has merely picked up by mistake, or to make examples of them through what it euphemizes as “extraordinary rendition”....

  • ‘Trickle-down’ evil?

    Description: A new ethos, emanating from a small but immensely influential minority, slowly seeps down through the strata into which that minority has shaped us over time: the ethos of the psychopath.

    Excerpt: When a psychologically healthy person feels that he must kill, he does. But empathy will not make it easy for him, nor conscience soon forgive, for such a person can imagine himself in the place of any other person; this forbids callousness, and makes us human rather than automaton. ... However, empathy seems....

  • Vipers in the boardroom: Why corporations scorn our laws

    Description: Corporations are the genie out of the bottle. Enormously powerful and with incalculable talent at their command, they can grant us virtually any wish — or they can destroy us.

    Excerpt: Wisely the old stories instruct us: The jinn you free will do exactly as you tell it, no more and no less. But it will pervert to the extent of its ingenuity the intent of your words; to do so is its nature. Thus we must be precise in the commands we give, that they be not used to our hurt; every word must be chosen with as much care....

  • Will Iowa skin fundamental morality alive?

    Description: What would prompt the Iowa state legislature to pass a law against reporting animal torture?

    Excerpt: Whether Republicans, Democrats or both are behind this ambulatory abortion of a bill I do not know, but it certainly fits the tenor of the times: It would, if passed, protect those who enjoy torturing animals by criminalizing disclosure....

(5.1): Applied Psychology

  • Of pathocrats and applied psychology

    Description: If you want a person to adopt your ideas, you must first convince him that the ideas are his own. How this is to be done, of course, is the prickly practical question that an effective advertiser must answer.

    Excerpt: ...[A]ll of them rely on instilling the notion that the “needs” they are creating are real and intrinsic, and none is effective if obvious to the target market. This is why teachers who analyze marketing techniques with their students have consistently found that, the more certain a given student is that he is uninfluenced by advertising, the more he has actually internalized....

(5.2): Bush Administration

  • George’s worst moment?

    Description: What was George W. Bush’s main concern on 9/11? If his memoir is any guide, it was how his reaction to it was perceived. This is consistent with other evidences of his psychopathy.

    Excerpt: That he could, upon hearing of the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center, remain apparently calm with the idea of giving an impression of strength — particularly given Bush’s notoriously craven subsequent behavior on that date — implies that he was less concerned with the attack itself than....

  • Memoir of a madman?

    Description: In his memoir, former Pres. George W. Bush reveals himself as an apparent psychopath, admitting that he was less concerned with his actual handling of crises than with how that handling was perceived.

    Excerpt: But this should come as no surprise from a politician who spent so much time and effort in presenting himself as America’s savior and moral exemplar: Such behavior accords with the messiah complex that so often characterizes psychopaths in positions of power, as well as....

  • Plagiarism by committee?

    Description: ‘My only authority for calling former Pres. George W. Bush a psychopath,’ as Nero Wolfe might say, ‘is the dictionary.’ Or, in this case, his memoir and a certain page in Wikipedia.

    Excerpt: That Bush had “assistants” in compiling and writing his book is unremarkable; that he would seek to efface them and take full credit is also not uncommon among aggressive narcissistic personalities, and such personalities are disproportionately represented among national elected officeholders. It is the pattern of literary thefts and....

  • The buck stops where?

    Description: Colin Powell says he had no idea ‘Curveball’ was lying prior to the Iraq invasion. How credible is this from an administration that lied 935 times to sell us an unnecessary war?

    Excerpt: This stinks of an old, old pattern among ruling elites: When caught in misdeeds or fabrications, they find a convenient subordinate to....

(5.3): Captive Regulatory Agencies

  • Round and round and round she goes

    Description: Meredith Attwell Baker is hardly the first regulatory or other governmental official to render decisions in favor of the interests of a corporation and then take a job lobbying her former colleagues on behalf of that corporation. But it would be good for our republic if she were the last.

    Excerpt: How hard is it to make a law forbidding this kind of behavior, which discredits our government even if the conflict of interest is one only in appearance? We can slam the revolving door in the face of kleptoplutocrats like Baker, but Congress won’t do it on its own; too many....

  • Stinging scandal for EPA

    Description: The EPA has known since 2006 that clothianidin kills bees. But it goes on letting Bayer Corporation sell the insecticide to farmers. Why? And is this a job for WikiLeaks?

    Excerpt: In recent years, there have been many suggestions that the Environmental Protection Agency is a CRA: a captive regulatory agency that does the bidding of the industries that its mission calls upon it to oversee. Today, not for the first time, we must wonder to what extent the EPA is running interference for the chemical industry, as....

(5.4): Creeping Fascism

  • Fourteen symptoms, one suggestion

    Description: Fascism doesn’t march in hobnailed boots; like carbon monoxide, it glides in through every crack left open to it, and diffuses to fill all available space. Unsmelt, unseen, unsuspected if one fails to recognize the symptoms, it poisons nations from within; and there are always those who, failing to observe it, will deny it is there.

    Excerpt: It’s true that those who follow the news and correlate what they learn from it will recognize the fourteen symptoms of this pathology; in each case, it’s possible to recall instances that prove its presence. But not everyone does keep current on news, and not everyone has analyzed....

  • Good Americans: Get your iStasi today!

    Description: Now we, too, can spy on our fellow Americans and report their suspicious behavior or disloyal language to the proper authorities. Get the iStasi Patriot App today, and help make political dissent a thing of the past!

    Excerpt: When East German leader Erich Honecker’s government started to feel international pressure over issues of human rights and political repression following the 1975 Helsinki Accords, Honecker knew exactly what to do: He expanded his secret police agency (the Ministerium fur Staatssicherheit or Ministry for State Security, otherwise known by its abbreviation as the Stasi) until it had one agent for every 166....

(5.5): Divide et Impera

  • Of incongruities and illusion

    Description: Today’s propagandist in newsman’s clothing, wielding insidious techniques of applied psychology, has hoodwinked tens of millions of Americans in low-paid, unbenefited, non-union jobs in the (corporate) private sector into resenting public-sector workers who have managed to survive all the pressures of propaganda, lobbying, legislation and increasingly conservative court decisions of the past three decades with their unions essentially intact.

    Excerpt: They endured arrest, dispossession, homelessness, beatings, humiliation, calumnious reporting and the frequent attacks of Pinkerton strikebreakers and police or military units, and often lost their lives. They did this not with any cheering illusion of imminent prosperity, but with resolve, fortitude and above all patience; for they knew....

  • Screwy logic

    Description: As long as the channels of communication remain firmly in the hands of the elite, it is easy for them to fashion illusions whereby to set one segment of the lower classes at the carotid of another, echoing in the realm of thought the theme that their strikebreakers made flesh at the picket line.

    Excerpt: Condemning workers’ attempts to organize as seditious, un-American, communistic and hazardous to the U.S.’ economy and national security, employers have hired scabs, goons and strikebreakers of all descriptions, from armed military and law enforcement personnel to club-wielding Pinkerton guards to new immigrants desperate....

  • Two cities, one (perverse) spirit: Cui bono?

    Description: Why such oligarchs as Draper, Murdoch and the Kochs have historically promoted organized bigotry is not hard to understand: It’s the age-old tactic, divide et impera: Divide and rule.

    Excerpt: But the Kochs have one thing to fear that Draper and his congeners never did: Thanks to the internet, WikiLeaks and the revival of independent, investigative journalism, they can no longer hide their hands. What they do is known, and gradually Americans are learning something essential: It is not black people, Muslims or any other scapegoat that we....

  • Ut semper sic hodie: Divide et impera: How the ruling elite keeps us at each other’s throats

    Description: Racial divisions are artificial, and they exist only because our elite — in common with its predecessors throughout history — has found that it can prosper by assiduous application of the principle that sustained the British empire until the sun of history definitively set upon it: Divide and rule.

    Excerpt: Early in American history, dangerous trends appeared in which black and white workers in the South did begin to stand together, sometimes in conjunction with Native Americans, and demand change. This, of course, was intolerable. The elite responded quickly, instituting the terracing described above as a means of drawing a “color line” to pit one race....

(5.6): Espionage Act

  • Slamming the door on dissent

    Description: As long as the Espionage Act remains law, it will be exhumed time and again to menace our liberties. We need to hammer a stake through its heart once and for all.

    Excerpt: Even should this latter proposal fail, the mere fact of the law’s being applied should terrify all friends of free expression. Like the later USA-PATRIOT Act, the ostensible spying law is unconscionably broad and can be interpreted to forbid and prosecute virtually any investigative reporting or....

(5.7): Obama Administration

  • Who you gonna call?

    Description: In April 2009, when a ‘crusading’ Spanish judge threatened to investigate and indict former Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales and five other Bush administration lawyers for authorizing torture, the Obama administration acted vigorously: It sent Florida Sen. Mel Martinez to Madrid to warn the Spanish that such an investigation would ‘chill’ U.S.-Spanish relations.

    Excerpt: Unfortunately, the good senator met with a rebuff. Spain, it seems, practices an esoteric political principle called “separation of powers” and therefore declined to lean on the judiciary. Currently, the case remains pending in Spain until the Obama administration signals....

(6): Religion

  • Religion: Introduction and Table of Contents

    Description: We bid you welcome to the Religion section of

    Excerpt: When inspiration strikes and other obligations permit, this index page will be replaced with an essay: “On Faith, Reason and Imagination: The Universal Heretic Speaks.” For....

(6.1): Buddhism

  • To shatter the chains of samsara

    Description: ‘Life is suffering’: This is one of the prime tenets of Buddhism. What we seem to be experiencing is illusory, but until we achieve sufficient enlightenment to penetrate with the eyes of our spirits this web of phantasms, we are doomed to wander through eternal cycles of pain and confusion. This is samsara, and it is a kind of earthly hell.

    Excerpt: By what right does a society look on, in scorn or indifference, while some of its members are forced to swallow this deadly draught for the greater exaltation of its magnates? ... This, too, is a crime: a crime perpetrated by all who have and do not wish to share, all who are comfortable and care nothing for the torments of those whom they deem inferior. It is the crime....

(6.2): Christianity

  • Kull qitt namir: ‘Every cat is a tiger’

    Description: Even today, ‘The Tyger’ and much else of William Blake’s verse sends shivers up many a spine. But how many people remember that Blake was also a religious revolutionary?

    Excerpt: And if Blake could write so well of sorrows as to make his readers’ eyes sting with unexpected tears, this was because he was a true prophet: He beheld with unclouded vision the tragedy of his country, his time and his species; containing multitudes, he experienced as he wrote of them the miseries of the oppressed, and he never dreaded....

(6.3): Fundamentalism

  • Satire is a dead letter

    Description: I do believe in religious freedom, but it is tempting sometimes to suggest passing a law against electing fundamentalists of any creed to any office more powerful than dogcatcher.

    Excerpt: No wonder the Onion had to stop publishing a print edition. Satire has lost its bite; it has become a dead letter and a nullity. No one could possibly invent anything as absurd as what passes for serious thought on the part of fundamentalists in....

  • The U.S. and Israel: two of a kind?

    Description: I find it interesting that the headline for this article describes Israel as it does. Particularly with the incoming far-right Republican House of Representatives, it is only a matter of time, I suspect, before we see headlines describing the U.S. as follows: “America — Increasingly Paranoid and Isolated, Dominated by Fundamentalists, Armed with Over 50,000 Nukes.”

    Excerpt: ...[M]any U.S. Christian fundamentalists believe that we are entering biblically prophesied End Times, in which the Rapture is imminent and will arise from a confrontation between Israel and its neighbors. Worse, the fundamentalists are actively seeking to bring this about, while using every opportunity to convert Jews in the process in fulfillment of certain aspects of this prophecy. The fundamentalist Israelis, meanwhile....

(6.4): Hinduism

  • ‘Rats live on no evil star’

    Description: As with pigs, Western culture assumes that rats are in essence unclean, and certainly unsanitary, by nature. But in both cases, we have done these intelligent animals an injustice.

    Excerpt: We house pigs in mud wallows; left to themselves, they would live clean and dry, as we see when they become feral. Rats live among our refuse because that is where they can make a living in relative safety; in nature, they too tend toward a far cleaner, seed- and grain-centered....

(6.5): Islam

  • A Muslim Apologizes: Undercard features apologies from other demographics

    Description: We are all at fault for the worst of us because we have not stopped them.

    Excerpt: As a Muslim, I hereby tender my apologies for the knuckleheads among us who interpret the Qur’an’s injunctions against aggression and transgression as a call to spill innocent blood. Some of us are doing evil, and like many other Muslims before me, I renounce them and....

  • Ayesha Malik for President

    Description: Ideology and faith are matters of mind and spirit; they are not graven upon our faces, nor encoded in our DNA, nor expressed in our clothing, nor yet limned upon our skins.

    Excerpt: Whether or not the sisters will one day contest for the White House remains for the future to disclose, but already, and merely by posing for this photograph, they do much to refute the myth that there is such a thing as “Muslim garb” by which some people might be identified as targets for profiling and....

(6.6): Judaism

  • Conquest by commandment?: On the religious rationale for Zionism

    Description: Ultimately, the imperative to expand, conquer and occupy the whole of Eretz Yisrael (the traditional Land of Israel as defined in the Bible) is not a product of a post-World War II search for a Jewish homeland in response to persecution, pogroms and the Holocaust; it is a religious mandate.

    Excerpt: According to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed (and many other religious authorities), Jews are compelled not only to live in Israel and to overcome all resistance to their controlling all of its biblically defined territory, but also to make their homes throughout, even in its deserts and wastes: To do this is a mitzvah, a commandment from God. And so important is this commandment....

(6.7): Religious Morality

  • On ‘sin’ and free will

    Description: Absent free will, there can be no sin.

    Excerpt: Setting aside for a moment specific proscriptive definitions of sin, which vary from source to source, let us examine the fundamental principle. As one would not claim credit for innate advantages and virtues in oneself — and surely any sincerely religious person would humbly attribute them to God — so one cannot apportion blame for innate defects or social....

(7): Science

  • Science: Introduction and Table of Contents

    Description: We bid you welcome to the Science section of

    Excerpt: At the webmaster’s discretion, this index page may later be replaced with an essay on the state and prospects of the sciences, globally and particularly in the United States. For now, however, it is only....

(7.1): Biology

(7.1.1): Anthropology

  • One world, one species

    Description: The seeming distinctions of race, color and ethnicity that are so often used to divide us are startlingly inconsequential and shallow-rooted. Whether through the twelve tribes of Israel and the Adam and Eve of Genesis, or merely through Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve, we all find ourselves related, and not so very long ago.

    Excerpt: In a world in which we are all related to one another, and our most recent common ancestor could have lived as recently as the epoch of Jesus and Augustus, it is hard to justify contempt based on superficial, mostly cosmetic variations. Each of our phenotypic traits can be found on a continuum of infinitesimal gradations. Each such continuum is a limited infinity....

(7.1.2): Exotic Life

  • Future pluperfect

    Description: Thanks to discoveries like the one described in this article, biologists are now beginning to appreciate that life need not share a common chemical template.

    Excerpt: In the classic Star Trek episode “Devil in the Dark,” the Enterprise receives a distress call: On a remote planetoid, miners are being killed by a creature that bursts upon them in the depths of the mine-shafts without warning and from seemingly solid rock, and burns them to death with a powerful acid. On investigation, the creature turns out to be an....

  • Melanophyll?

    Description: That extraterrestrial life, existing under conditions possibly far different from those to which we’re accustomed, should differ markedly in anatomy and physiology from the species inhabiting the fields we know is no surprise. Consider the exotic life found here on Earth under conditions we call ‘extreme,’ and you have a taste of what this means.

    Excerpt: We have already found organisms conforming to some of these descriptions on our own world, so we can no longer plead a case for looking through a narrow lens. By this time next century, exobiology may well have entirely redefined....

(7.2): Cybernetics

(7.2.1): Computers

  • Premature, but a hopeful sign

    Description: The merits of a scenario in which multiple fully interoperable operating systems are in use are obvious: no functional monopolies narrowing the bottleneck of competition, better functionality, support and user responsiveness and — perhaps most of all — far better security.

    Excerpt: Had Microsoft not been so successful in suppressing competition from other platforms during the formative period of the computer industry — chiefly by exploiting its early market share to lock in developers so that there has historically been a dearth of applications for such platforms — free enterprise would have been....

(7.2.2): Internet

  • Coming soon: ‘Eben’s Big Box O’ Freedom’

    Description: The Freedom Box initiative aims to give each internet user a personal server, permitting the restoration of real privacy and taking power out of the hands of the few enormous enterprises that now control the chokepoints of the internet.

    Excerpt: While it is true that any attempt to apply a “kill switch” would almost certainly result in defeat and disaster for those responsible, it is also true that precluding the idea altogether offers many advantages. Reactive remedies are almost never as comprehensive or efficient as....

(7.2.3): Malware and Hacking

  • Stuxnet cybernuke: A ‘game-changer’ indeed

    Description: Although it is far from clear who designed the almost science-fictionesque Stuxnet worm, one thing is apparent: From now, precautions against such cybernetic incursions will have to be tightened to a degree unprecedented and previously unimaginable.

    Excerpt: ...[A]llowing engineers to take work home on flash drives and similar storage devices, and then to return to work with those devices, offers vectors to many potential assailants. If you are going to take the necessary precaution of closing the door by keeping the system out of contact with the internet for fear of contamination, then it is inconsistent to leave the windows open by....

(7.3): Environment

  • A clear and present danger

    Description: I am glad to see that I am not alone in thinking that reducing the kind of air pollution that everyone can agree is pollution is a necessary and achievable first step in addressing climate change.

    Excerpt: Rather than try to hew a path through reams of research papers and terabytes of computer models, I defy you to see for yourself the real state of the air you breathe. A simple and convincing experiment (if you dare to perform it): Go outside with a bright flashlight — preferably on a calm winter night — and see what appears in its beam. And if you really want to scare yourself....

  • Lost in the gardens of the Titans

    Description: That we cannot simply go on as we are should by now be apparent to all who have eyes to see: Nature is a web of incalculable complexity, rich and robust but not infinitely so.

    Excerpt: To paraphrase Isoroku Yamamoto, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giantess and fill her with....

  • Surprise: We can’t bury our problems

    Description: Self-serving corporate mouthpieces aside, who actually believes that we can safely and indefinitely inter carbon dioxide? For those who do: Read this article, and you'll begin to appreciate the flaws in such reasoning — and that to call them ‘fatal flaws’ is not hyperbole but sober description.

    Excerpt: ... We can’t rid ourselves of carbon dioxide (or nuclear waste, non-biodegradable garbage and countless other persistent pollutants) by hiding it underground. To do so assumes what is obviously false: that we have infinite storage space. Such waste is accumulating at an ever-increasing rate, and is already starting to overwhelm....

(7.4): Linguistics

  • Non nova sed novae: Not new things, but new ways

    Description: In this article, Lera Boroditsky sets out to prove what I and many others have long suspected but for which experimental evidence was lacking: Language does not merely reflect our thoughts, but mediates our very perceptions — and sets bounds for them.

    Excerpt: We see this most dramatically in the case of the Kuuk Thaayorre aboriginals of Australia, whose language forces them to remain perpetually oriented in space because directional references are absolute (north/south/east/west) rather than relative (left/right/forward/backward), even when referring, for example, to parts of....

  • On the evolution of languages

    Description: Language is the product not of method and logic, but of the vicissitudes of history. Thus languages wax, wane, change and disappear in response to specific events: As its speakers fare, so fares the tongue. And if indeed one might sufficiently trace and correlate the perpetual evolution of languages over time, one might find in them a map of all history.

    Excerpt: Even as Latin fragmented with the Roman empire, splitting into local dialects that eventually became Spanish, Portuguese, French, Catalan, Italian and Romanian (in addition to some others now extinct or moribund), British was fractured by waves of invaders, raiders and conquerors that divided the Celts into geographically isolated salients. As with biological evolution, isolation led....

(7.5): Medicine

(7.5.1): Pharmacology

  • Denaturing nature: What’s wrong with pot that ‘doesn’t get you high’?

    Description: Make no mistake: Denaturing cannabis doesn’t serve the medical needs of patients. It serves what it is intended to serve: the bottom line of the corporations that will win the contracts to do it. And, as always when profit becomes the prevailing motive, human rights and health will mean nothing.

    Excerpt: We co-evolved with cannabis; this can be seen in the specialized cannabinoid receptors in our brains. But we did this with the whole plant, not selected elements of it. The plant as a whole contains numerous compounds whose therapeutic value medicine is only now rediscovering, and as this happens, we find that it is not isolated compounds but the full range of them that is beneficial. In fact, THC refined and used alone appears....

(7.6): Physics

  • In a cat’s eye: The limits of math and why time won’t end

    Description: By the imagination and intuition of genius, science has not plodded sedately from discovery to discovery: It has overleapt the stars to examine the outermost boundaries of our universe and peered within the atom to discern in its parts the architecture that shapes and the laws that govern the whole. It is this talent, this capacity to fuse the findings of disparate disciplines, rather than the specialist’s tunnel-vision and the millipede march of the stolid incrementalist, that science most needs.

    Excerpt: ...[T]hen it is precisely into those vertiginous depths that we must now plunge until we have plumbed them so far as to yield ways to represent and operate upon specific values for each of the limited infinities that we will meet. And this will call for what orthodox scientists are trained to distrust, and what an unorthodox scientist named Albert Einstein called more important....

(7.7): Psychology

  • Enemies within?: How perinatal infections may make us crazy

    Description: In both schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis, endogenous retroviruses activated by infections appear to trigger immune responses that progressively degrade tissue, impairing brain functions in different ways that lead, respectively, to hallucinations and delusions on the one hand, and, on the other, declining motor skills and memory. There are also hints that a similar mechanism may account for other brain pathologies.

    Excerpt: Was Adolf Hitler’s madness really the result of influenza exposure in utero? So long after the fact, we will very probably never really know. But once we understand the mechanism, perhaps we can anticipate and treat prospective psychopaths. And since there is no cure for the condition, this may deliver millions....

  • Impervious to reality: the tragedy of the Seeker

    Description: When people set in a fallacious belief are presented with the actual facts (which belie their belief) in the context of a narrative that affirms the values underlying their belief, they are more likely to heed those facts. Does this mean we can make our points only through guile and misdirection?

    Excerpt: It seems to me that, psychologically, we are left with a choice between ethics and effectiveness. We can either present uncongenial facts honestly and see them ignored or actively condemned, or we can try to disguise them as part of something they aren’t. That’s a....

  • Per aspera ad astra: ‘Through adversity, to the stars’

    Description: I have found a few strategies that sometimes help me resist the Sirens’ song while I yet hear the tide. For me, chess has been of aid at many times throughout the years, for in it I can lose myself and silence for a moment the insinuating voice and find a tunnel through the black tsunamis. And still better is to write, for then the darkness becomes my muse and I can hope to contribute something of lasting value and beauty to the world that will remain when I am dust.

    Excerpt: You will recall that in some translations of the Odyssey, the ship making its way back to Ithaca had to pass a perilous coast surrounded by rocks that would sink it if it were not steered with precision. On that coast were the Sirens, who sang a song of such lethal loveliness that any who heard it had to sail closer that he might hear it the better, and would founder among the rocks and perish. But to pass the coast in safety, one had to....

  • Social neurotoxins and the bullied brain

    Description: We are in danger of destroying much of our next generation. We cannot continue to neglect this issue, or to utter platitudes about ‘the law of the jungle.’ The potential consequences are unthinkable, not only for our societies, but also for the countless children whose futures are being battered and tormented into a hell of hopeless misery.

    Excerpt: It has long been known that being a victim of childhood taunting and bullying correlates strongly with psychological impairment in adulthood. Anxiety, depression, anger, drug abuse: All these and other problems seem to arise with tragic consistency, but until recently no direct mechanism....

  • Take with a pound of salt

    Description: Ultimately, no ‘lie-detection’ system is reliable other than that which no web page can confer: knowing your interlocutor. To its credit, the article confesses this; even so, it may offer more disservice than service. Ultimately, people are too diverse, too disparate to be judged from any static list of symptoms, and any attempt to do so can only lead to injustice.

    Excerpt: ...[T]here are at least two common conditions that would lead to false results using so primitive a guide. Socio-/psychopaths are the most obvious of these, for they are natural liars who can look you straight in the eyes with every indication of guileless relaxation as they utter the most monstrous of dissimulations; worse, they are quite capable of studying articles like this precisely in....

  • What’re you lookin’ at?

    Description: This is the second article I’ve read in four days that infers from the known connections of the amygdala to fear and other emotions a constellation of conclusions about that brain structure’s purportedly broad implications for personality.

    Excerpt: Any successor reports should be based on sound experimental data collected over some time across a large sample. The correct way to do this, in my opinion, is to euthanize (mercy killing, in this case, to put them out of our misery) all possible right-wing celebrities, pseudo-journalists, CEOs, pundits and politicians ’ starting perhaps with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Pamela Geller, Don Blankenship, Bill O’Reilly, Newt Gingrich, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell....

(7.8): Sociology

  • Watering the roots of empathy

    Description: As to apprehend an infinitude of shades between red and orange demands an act of imagination, so too does the comprehension of another person. To experience empathy — to perceive as another does and infer his feelings — demands that you imagine yourself not only situated as he is, but also constituted as he is.

    Excerpt: But, like Thomas Gradgrind in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, all that our utilitarian economic system and assembly-line educational system want of our children are facts; “too much” imagination is taken as a pathological condition and often medicated into unbeing. As conservative economic utilitarians tighten their stranglehold on education, citing....

(7.9): Water Fluoridation

  • Fluoridated water: too much of a good thing?

    Description: Without taking a side, I call for one thing: a real, comprehensive study proving fluoride safe or otherwise. Otherwise, the precautionary principle would seem to suggest that we ought not to be compulsorily dosing our populace with a drug whose long-term effects — over a lifetime of daily systemic exposure — we don’t fully understand.

    Excerpt: ...[T]he Department of Health and Human Services has now issued a guideline reducing recommended concentrations from 1.0 to 0.7 parts per million thanks to recent increases in dental fluorosis. If nothing else, this is a tacit confession that we are now exposed to unprecedented cumulative ambient fluoride to an extent such that decreasing its use in water has become a matter of official....

(8): Society

  • Society: Introduction and Table of Contents

    Description: We bid you welcome to the Society section of

    Excerpt: At the webmaster’s discretion, this index page may later be replaced with an essay discussing the state and prospects of global and particularly United States society, to focus on the ultimate causes of social problems and how moral intelligence will be instrumental in solving them. For now, however, it is....

(8.1): Abortion

  • Keep the back door closed

    Description: If this right exists, it must be real. It is no good saying that a woman can choose abortion, and denying her the practical means to effect it. This is what makes laws that restrict abortion without banning it outright so pernicious, and this is why I expect that the GOP will sink like a thallium dirigible if it succeeds in ramming its authoritarian legislation through the Senate.

    Excerpt: ...[S]ince we live in a society that is at least nominally relatively democratic, we must reach a consensus acceptable to most Americans; this kind of morality-by-majority is offensive to all who would like some more final and principled resolution, but it is a pragmatic necessity. ... To me and many others, the balancing of rights is....

(8.2): Art

  • Bull market?

    Description: I selected this image because it seems to say something about the condition of our lives at the dead and abysmal heart of empire: We're ‘bullish’ by projection; this is how we would have the world see us. But the bull is not alive — it is a mere statue wrought of bronze and embellished with cameras and a motion detector, all of which has not sufficed to stop taggers defacing it with their handiwork — and behind it stands a bear, very much alive.

    Excerpt: As an artist, Josh Keyes seems to be principally a surrealist: He freely combines animals, landscapes, statuary, technology and other, often incongruous elements to form tableaux of the inexplicable. But he also makes repeated use of certain themes with symbolic suggestiveness, among them the ubiquity of the apparatus....

  • Dare we scale the vines?

    Description: Only upon the wings of mind can we swoop across intergalactic space from the boughs of a tree limned black against a night sky candescent with supernovae, and only with the eye of imagination can we behold the infinity concealed within a point of spacetime./p>

    Excerpt: Since I am not a physicist by profession, it is of course altogether possible that I have overlooked something in my speculations. But if Albert Einstein was in earnest when he said that imagination is more important than knowledge, then perhaps such thought-experiments will one day yield the understandings that elude....

  • Prospect of the Fae?

    Description: Is that our prosaic world outspread beneath the mists, or do we look upon an older and more lambent land?

    Excerpt: Or perhaps it would glow clear and steady — the ground now stripped of verdure and banked with an alien landscape of snow — between clutching skeletal twigs, a family of somnolent glow-worms huddled against the polar calm of a December midnight. See now the birches rise all around you, a dense grove of skeleton-trees, bark shining silver-blue in a double glow: the moon from above, and seemingly still brighter....

  • To hide and reveal: the paradox of nihon teien

    Description: First to hide, then to reveal, harmoniously dramatic elements of landscape and ornament: Here is the conjuration that transforms five acres of California parkland into what seems part of an emperor’s estate.

    Excerpt: Artfully mingling a multitude of hillsides and ravines, wood-railed paths that twist and coil upon themselves, meandering streams overarched by bridges and filled with carp and koi, ponds, waterfalls, Buddhist statuary and pagoda-crowned pavilions with rocks, trees and a hundred kinds of plants and flowers, the garden offers a surprise behind every turn. From nowhere can the eye command or....

(8.3): Astroturfing

  • Poisoned brew, astroturf tea

    Description: As you love liberty and hate oppression, as you care for the future world our posterity must inhabit, as you seek truth and despise lies, and as you respect me for my intelligence and integrity, I ask you to study the Tea Party and the dark forces that shadow its aims as their money provides the substance of the shadow.

    Excerpt: Fear and fury, however, are strange things. They are instinctual responses to danger and attacks on our birthright as human beings, common to all, and they serve a necessary function: to motivate us to change the conditions that threaten us. But when the threats are diffuse, when their actual source is far from us and hidden, fear and fury can become panic and blind rage. ... It is then that plausible liars....

  • The power of astroturf

    Description: Very seldom does the elite in a capitalist ‘democracy’ resort to explicit censorship; silencing the opposition is too crude and arouses resentment. It is far better public relations (what we used to call propaganda before the latter became a dirty word), and far more practical, to drown out dissidents than to muzzle them.

    Excerpt: From this understanding were born the corporate-elite media, right-wing talk radio and cable commentary, and millions of websites solely created to sow and cultivate the tainted seeds of an illusory “reasonable doubt” in a populace trying to see two valid sides of an argument that ultimately has only one. ... Poisoned by disinformation, those who have harkened to the anti-scientific “skeptics” then proceed to shout down those who speak on science’ behalf. To this I can attest from direct....

(8.4): Conspiracies/Pseudoscience

  • Here we go again: After all, what’s an asylum without inmates?

    Description: If I saw a story here by Mike Adams saying the earth orbited the sun, I’d immediately cross-check it with a reliable source.

    Excerpt: Ah. The apotheosis of credibility: an article by left-wing nutjob Mike Adams (who wrote a story I recently reviewed in which he suggested that Bill Gates wants to commit genocide via vaccination) appearing on, a conspiracy/pseudoscience site operated by right-wing nutjob Alex Jones. This time, it appears that this intrepid reporter wants to warn us about the memory-erasing....

  • ‘Inner capitalist,’ meet ‘outer capitalist’

    Description: Before anyone buys the tripe this site is peddling, I hope that he or she will take some time to learn the difference between Marxism and crony capitalism.

    Excerpt: Economic illiteracy is just one of the forms of ignorance that such kleptoplutocratic filthmongers as — like the Koch brothers, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and other such sociopathic perverters of America’s national dialogue — rely upon to permit them to befuddle minds and calumniate....

  • Intensely cheesy: In which a casein-coated cartoonist praises Barack Obama with faint damns

    Description: It is certainly commendable enough to criticize the president, even caustically. But it is commendable only so long as the criticisms are both true and valid. This page does not meet those tests.

    Excerpt: In addition to the now trite themes of President Obama’s birth certificate and (nonexistent) Muslim affiliations, both cartoons and text fill a great deal of space with conservative platitudes about America’ tragic inability to control the actions of foreign governments — as inferably it could before Obama came along — by the use of “credible threats.” Quite apart from any awkward questions about our right....

(8.5): Crime

(8.5.1): Animal Abuse

  • What ‘responsibility’ means

    Description: When you take charge of any endeavor, commercial or otherwise, your leadership puts you in the position of a ship’s captain, with ultimate responsibility for the vessel under your command.

    Excerpt: I wish Anne a golden retirement, and I wish the operators of this circus in jail along with the abusive elephant trainer. But, of course, I know how improbable that is in a country in which “personal responsibility” is for individuals — particularly poor and low-ranking ones — not institutions or corporations, and those who run the show feign ignorance and saunter....

(8.5.2): Political Violence

  • Deranged by design?

    Description: While the behavior of deranged individuals may be unpredictable, the collective behavior of such ‘lone wolves’ can be mapped with near-mathematical precision: If enough such individuals are pushed far enough, given enough emotional incentive, one or more of them will sooner or later erupt into violence.

    Excerpt: ... Hitler led a march on Berlin in 1922 in an unsuccessful putsch against the Weimar Republic, which he reviled as Marxist. As such canards echoed across Germany, Nazi-inspired violence grew commonplace. ... As they listen today to right-wing demagogues accusing Barack Obama’s administration of being Marxist, those old enough to remember Hitler must feel a shudder of....

(8.6): Education

  • Left behind?

    Description: ‘Testing, testing...’ A comment on a cartoon.

    Excerpt: No two children are alike, but our factory education system pretends otherwise as it tries to mold them into complaisant consumers and complacent conformists, ripe to spend all the days of their lives running the treadmill of workaday existence until they die and fall into....

  • Less for more?

    Description: This seems to be the theme in today’s kleptoplutocratic empire: As the ruling elite seizes ever more of our nation’s wealth, the rest of us — particularly those who provide essential services — work harder for less.

    Excerpt: But, according to pathocrats’ reasoning, we shouldn’t be concerned that the people on whose work we all rely can’t afford a decent life anymore. After all, the $2.4 million-an-hour hedge fund managers aren’t complaining, so....

  • Mandatory school lunches: Who should decide what children eat?

    Description: Lacking firm evidence, I would hesitate to make imputations of corruption or malicious intent: The district may simply be overwhelmed with children who honestly don’t get good food at home.

    Excerpt: On the other hand, the school lunches aren’t providing much real benefit if they’re so dismal that kids throw them away, as some commenters report, and as I remember doing with the less edible bits of my own school lunches; those of you who’ve tried to eat petrified orange....

(8.7): Ethics

  • ‘One truth’ or many?

    Description: This article addresses itself with impressive rigor to one of the central questions of human civilization: Is there an objective, universal moral code recognized by all but pathological individuals, or do ethical values take fundamentally different forms in different cultural or historical contexts?

    Excerpt: The eventual position to which this has led me is somewhat paradoxical: I am convinced that morality is relative, but is not absolutely so. Values do diverge widely in different times and places, and what is proper and necessary for one civilization may be suicidal for another. But there also seem to be a few irreducible principles to which....

(8.8): Food

(8.8.1): Nutrition

  • Amylophobes of the NYT: Here’s something to chew on

    Description: ‘Low-carb diet’ reasoning to the contrary, a bowl of pasta is no more like a Safeway cupcake than a peace-loving Sufi imam is like Osama bin Laden.

    Excerpt: By 2003, Shintani had compiled and correlated experimental data to confirm what my mother knew without benefit of studies: Whether a carbohydrate is good or bad depends on what kind of carbohydrate it is. And behold! Since the nutritional value of carbohydrates varies more or less inversely with their glycogen index (how much of them is converted into sugars and metabolized in a given period of time), it transpires that....

  • What low-carb diet?

    Description: According to Hawaiian nutrition expert Terry Shintani, you can eat your pasta without guilt. This is because it’s what Shintani calls a ‘good carbohydrate.’

    Excerpt: ... Its structure is such that it digests slowly, presents a low glycemic index, and therefore doesn’t trigger the insulin reaction you can get from bad carbs such as white bread, white rice and other highly refined foods. If you want to learn more, have a look at his 2003 blockbuster The Good Carbohydrate Revolution. I’ve applied....

(8.9): Holidays

(8.9.1): Christmas

  • A Gilded Christmas

    Description: Since this Christmas season in the United States will be a rather Dickensian one for many Americans — particularly the two million or so unemployed whom Congress has recently thrown to the sharks — a card depicting carolers from Charles Dickens’ time seems apropos.

    Excerpt: Together we face a fell winter: dark, dreary, dank and dismal: a winter that many of our fellow citizens will not survive; its end is not in sight. But it cannot endure forever. One day, I am confident that we who are moved by love and not by scorn shall triumph: The idolaters of Mammon shall be cast down; their bleak December shall draw to its....

  • One thing missing here

    Description: Comment on ‘GOP Christmas Carol,’ a cartoon by Rogers for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

    Excerpt: Tiny Tim (in his role as the middle class) should also be dragging behind him an infant pauper, begotten and forgotten by Scrooge. Meanwhile, a loquacious friend of Scrooge’s — fat of paunch and brown of nose — should be constantly reminding Tiny Tim that the infant is an unfair burden on him and counselling leaving it to freeze, the better to....

(8.10): Immigration

  • An appropriate domicile?

    Description: A comment on immigration-control measures proposed by Rep. Virgil Pig ... I mean Peck.

    Excerpt: Perhaps Rep. Virgil Peck (R-Kansas) should think twice about his idea of shooting undocumented immigrants, ‘like feral hogs,’ from helicopters. Positive identification from a moving aircraft can be difficult, and if anyone connected with this article seems in danger of being mistaken for a feral....

(8.11): Loyalty and Dissent

  • Turn about is fair play

    Description: None of this means that I can agree with this article in calling Palin a traitor for criticizing a president during a time of crisis (as if every time is not a time of crisis). That argument is precisely what George W. Bush supporters tried to use to silence dissent during the previous administration. It was a bad argument then, and it is therefore a bad argument now.

    Excerpt: I am certainly no admirer of the strident ignoramus Sarah Palin; in fact, I deplore virtually all that she says, does and represents. And it is true that Palin’s attacks on Pres. Barack Obama are often unfair and deceptive, and couched in such emotionally manipulative terms that some of her followers give us no surprise at all when they....

(8.12): Military

  • The military: a world apart

    Description: Thanks to their economic, cultural and political divergence from more affluent and liberal civilian society, soldiers are often alienated from that society. Lauded while on the front as part of ‘the troops’ for whom politicians never miss an opportunity to aver their undying support, they all too often return to a country that doesn’t much care what they've endured on its behalf and makes few provisions for their needs.

    Excerpt: Perhaps it really is time to reinstitute the draft. Like the opening of windows in a room long sealed, it will revive all within by mixing in fresh air from without and releasing stale gases. And if it is done right this time, it will also send to the front the sons and daughters of the powerful politicians and lobbyists at whose behest our....

(8.13): Miscellaneous

  • It’s for you!

    Description: Don’t bother calling for the time now, with either number. The free telephone time service is gone now, replaced by the internet and privatized: Never again will we hear the words, ‘At the tone, Pacific Standard Time will be ... seven twenty-four pee-em ... and thir-ty seconds. *Beep.* At the tone ....’

    Excerpt: I never had a telephone quite like this one, but I certainly still remember the days of dial telephones fundamentally similar to it. Nor will I forget my stepfather’s advice that we call for the time, not with the mnemonic “P-O-P-C-O-R-N,” but by using “767-1111.” Why? Because the “1” was....

  • Shake?

    Description: I think this cat must be at least partly Maine Coon: The size, the long, fluffy fur, the ear-tufts, the bushy tail and the confident demeanor all characterize this popular breed.

    Excerpt: ... I’ll post pictures of Athena, who somewhat resembles this cat, but is a bit stripier, more variegated (with black, various shades of gray, brown and ginger, and white on her chin and stomach) and less fluffy, and has the biggest, most expressive “owl eyes” I’ve ever seen — whence her name, for the owl is the avatar of her eponym, that blazing-eyed, Trojan-hating goddess of....

(8.13.1): Bizarre

  • Aqua fiat

    Description: A match Cthulhu could love. (Comment on an image from

    Excerpt: N/A

  • Baseball on skates: hell in the outfield?

    Description: Below is a picture from Brooklyn’s Washington Park in 1884. The men on skates really are doing what it looks like: playing baseball.

    Excerpt: Based on a description herein of a 50-30 victory of the Atlantic Club over the Gotham Club, I think we can infer that the ice gave the team at bat....

  • Overdue ‘invention’

    Description: At last, a solution to the age-old problem: How can I go to the bathroom and keep an eye on my copy machine at the same time?

    Excerpt: Just one thing: If there’s a paper jam, I’m not sure whether to call a technician or a plumber. Either way, I am not trying to clear....

  • Penrose dice?

    Description: A comment on a page presenting assorted optical illusions.

    Excerpt: Amusing to see the familiar ‘impossible tribar’ recast in a different form. Too bad not all the ‘optical illusions’ on this page can claim comparable antecedents. Some, like the hoary faces/vase ambiguity illusion, have become visual platitudes and....

  • When ‘waste’ doesn’t go to waste.

    Description: Maria Ponce’ home, entirely constructed from plastic bottles because she couldn’t afford traditional building materials, takes the idea of recycling a step beyond the expected. And it’s only one of the homes featured on this page that use ‘trash’ in this striking way: One of the others is made from beer cans, a third from glass bottles.

    Excerpt: But unfortunately, some of the other homes shown here are merely absurd: They are so designed that much of their internal space can’t be put to real use, or they will melt come spring, or they require leaping from a high bed onto a glass floor, or walking through a lake, or riding donkeys to slopes far above because they’re on hills so steep as to identify themselves to geologists’ eyes....

(8.13.2): Chess

  • The patzer’s opening

    Description: If you really want to learn to play chess, there are books, online chess clubs, instructors and other resources to be found all over the internet as well as, very probably, in your hometown. Use as many of these as you deem appropriate in whatever combination works for you. But don’t play the Scholar’s Mate.

    Excerpt: As you study and practice your openings (which you will eventually need to know to survive into the middle game), bear in mind the two principal objectives of that phase of the game: to develop (bring pieces out) smoothly, and to control the central squares d4, e4, d5 and e5. When in doubt, try to make moves that accord with these principles, and you have a decent chance....

(8.13.3): Humor

  • ‘A tale told by an idiot’

    Description: It‘s always amusing to me when someone quotes Polonius’ advice to his son, Laertes, as if it were meant to be taken seriously. I suspect that such people never actually watched Hamlet, or if they did, they never understood it.

    Excerpt: Those familiar with the play will remember Polonius as the comic relief. Convinced that he is a man of enormous wisdom and has words of worth for everyone to hear, he is really a self-infatuated buffoon filled with bombast, a bad counselor to the usurping Claudius, and an inept spy. By the time Hamlet, poking around the arras with a dagger for rats, mistakes him for one and fatally stabs him, most of the audience is unsure whether to laugh or applaud. Usually, it.....

  • Old theme, new twist

    Description: Comment on ‘Simple Disorder,’ an Erik D. Freedman cartoon.

    Excerpt: Only one question: Why is this woman wearing a giraffe?

  • Shelves #32 and #33

    Description: Comment on ‘Other Things the Bush Family Keeps in Jars,’ a Stanfill ( cartoon.

    Excerpt: The Bushes have a full pantry of shelves like this. Shelf #1, for example, features Conscience, Logic, Forethought, Moral Intelligence, Faith, Courage, Patriotism (Non-Ersatz), Compassion, Respect, Fortitude, Resolve, Willingness to....

  • This just in: Al-Gebra cult conclusively linked to Iran

    Description: More feared by middle-school students than Al-Qaida and all its ilk combined, the infamous Al-Gebra cult has been traced to its origins in Baghdad, Iraq, where it was founded by Iranian ‘mathematician’ Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Musa al-Khwarizmi.

    Excerpt: Hmm. Now what could these Muslim “mathematicians” have been planning to “restore”? A global caliphate? Obviously, this cult bears watching, and it is rumored that....

  • Tsk-tsk!

    Description: A comment on a gallery of artfully timed photographs.

    Excerpt: What would Tanith Lee say?

  • When unwelcome guests invite themselves...

    Description: Where do I get a few rolls of this graterpaper? I can think of a few people who merit one, and I can’t wait to hear the sounds they’ll emit when they use it.

    Excerpt: Although most of the images on this page constitute a Photoshop-a-rama, and several of them are disgusting or just plain stupid (e.g., the old man unplugging the vacuum), this one stands out, as does the image of the obese woman as seen through....

(8.13.4): Unintentional Satire

  • When satire becomes ‘news’: Faux Snooze’ agenda overlooked again

    Description: Today, as this page shows, Fox and company have so blurred the line between news and satire that not only its readers and viewers, but also some of its staff, may no longer be able to tell the difference.

    Excerpt: In this case, to have permitted this satire, from the Onion, to be published as if it were a serious story is no comic oversight: Fox did this, we may be sure, precisely to plant further “juicy rumors” among its followers. We may laugh at their ignorance, but that will do nothing to change the fervent and unshakeable conviction each of them will take to his grave that Barack Obama sent a “rambling 75,000-word email to the entire nation,” thereby proving....

(8.14): Music

  • Music of the spheres?

    Description: Naturally, anything that combines ‘space’ and ‘Jethro Tull’ is bound to be brilliant; for JT really was a brilliant band that helped redefine rock in the 1960s with its flautistic virtuosity and stylistic trailblazing. Who, once having heard ‘Bungle in the Jungle,’ ‘Aqualung,’ ‘Skating Away (On The Thin Ice of a New Day)’ or ‘Thick as a Brick,’ could ever forget it or confound it with the work of another group?

    Excerpt: Here, however, we find an aging and more sedate — but still musically lively — Ian Anderson teaming up with astronaut/flautist/scene-stealer Cady Coleman; here there is no controversy, but a pleasant sample of Jethro Tull’s flute work from the band’s 1969 remake of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Bourree in E-Minor.” Perhaps the most jarring aspect that one can find in it is Coleman’s floating hair — and Anderson’s lack....

(8.15): Patriotism

  • Lights from the heart of darkness

    Description: The Marxist epiphany of the ruling elite, as Noam Chomsky reminds us, is that nations are no longer relevant.

    Excerpt: No victims of the “patriotic” propaganda that the more thoughtful of them fund as being incalculably helpful to their class, the elite are realists. They understand — almost “instinctively,” for their existence relies upon it — the central facts: that there is and always has been a class war; and that to win it, they must maintain class unity across the spurious barriers of nations and their professed creeds, and prevent....

  • The real trouble with stupidity

    Description: Everyone has a right to be stupid — which is fortunate, because some can’t help continuously exercising it.

    Excerpt: What confers on unintelligence the abhorrence of keen observers is not its effects upon the unintelligent, who are generally oblivious to such effects and amble through their lives with a kind of bovine complacency, never troubled by the thousands of idiocies that they inflict upon themselves and others. The offense lies....

(8.16): Prognostications

  • Full meters five thy bedroom lies

    Description: The power of necessity cannot be denied. We are going to need places for our people to live, and less land will be available for more people, so whatever has to be done to effect this idea will be.

    Excerpt: Such terrors notwithstanding, I believe that such housing will be built because it must. Let’s hope there’ll still be some means of making plexiglass when this comes to pass, though, for in the years after peak oil, such materials are certain to become rare and costly. It would be galling to imagine that undersea housing might be built to offer ordinary citizens a place to live, only to fall victim to....

(8.17): Social Ethics

  • Toward what future?

    Description: All that we can do today is this: Apply political pressure wherever and however we can, until our lawmakers see this multigenerational Holocaust for what it is and end it. Or, if we cannot find in them a trace of conscience, we must protest like Egyptians until all those whose sleep is never disturbed by guilt for the atrocities they callously perpetuate have been forever driven from power.

    Excerpt: What lies in Neleigh’s future? Of course, it ultimately depends in part on her: Can she resist the pressures of reservation life — the alcohol and other drugs, the violence, the teenage sex and pregnancy, the crushing despair of feeling trapped in a kind of hell — and find her way out, like Autumn? Or do we ask too much: that a person in....

(8.18): Xenophobia

(8.18.1): Anti-Semitism

  • Zionism: an anti-Semitic doctrine?

    Description: Forget the noble myths. When Lord Arthur Balfour, foreign minister in 1917 of the British Empire, wrote the eponymous doctrine that set aside most of Palestine as a Jewish homeland, he did so not because he loved the Jewish people, but because he contemned them.

    Excerpt: Foreshadowing the calumnies leveled against Muslims in Europe and America today, then-prime minister Balfour espoused the Aliens Act of 1905 because he felt that Jews were a race and creed alien and harmful to Europe, incapable of being assimilated and thus best....

(8.18.2): Islamophobia

  • Mathematically challenged?

    Description: Neoconservative Frank Gaffney, who can’t seem to decide whether or not he’s an ‘expert’ on Sharia law, has made it abundantly clear that he’s no expert on simple arithmetic.

    Excerpt: As observed both in this article and in several of my past reviews on this issue, Muslims in the United States constitute a minuscule percentage of the population — estimates range from 0.6 to just under three percent — and, even assuming that all of them are radicals bent upon imposing Sharia at all costs and by any means necessary, would find it impossible....

  • One McArabia to go, please!

    Description: Occasionally I leave a shopping list behind at the grocery store, and wonder: If someone finds this, will Homeland Security be called in?

    Excerpt: I can imagine an Arabic-language specialist being summoned from Sacramento or San Francisco. He shoulders his way through the hushed, expectant crowd, and takes the list from a grim-faced agent who’s been trying to find clues to where the bomb is hidden. He scans a few items, and his face is a study in....

  • On religion and deception

    Description: This is the kind of article that makes me wish my Arabic were fluent enough to allow me to translate the Qur’an for myself.

    Excerpt: According to Google, the internet offers nearly a million such translations, but since they all differ, it is fair to ask how authoritative any one of them can be. Unfortunately, given the controversies surrounding Islam (largely thanks to sites like this one), it has become difficult to find a translation that is demonstrably unbiased: Those advocating and those opposing Islam each accuse one another of intentionally distorting their translations to promote their respective agendas, and the two sides do not appear to agree to recognize any....

  • When parody becomes reality

    Description: It must be taxing for the unimaginative to live in a make-believe world, so I can understand their occasional need to borrow delusions from someone more mentally flexible; it is, however, still surprising to see a slogan used in a parody on a humorous ‘news’ site, with minor modifications, adopted with apparently serious intent.

    Excerpt: When I encounter these sorts of people, I’m torn between pity for their ignorance and anomie and rage for the obscene tenets they espouse. That they have the right to believe as they want is axiomatic; in any system aping democracy, we cannot deny them this choice. My anger stems from the fact that their stupid opinions create....

(8.18.3): Racism

  • Mapping hate — and standing against it

    Description: According to this page, published by the anti-racist Southern Poverty Law Center, there are (or were, as of 2009) 932 hate groups in the United States. The numbers of such groups vary from state to state, usually in rough correlation with population, although certain states appear to have disproportionate concentrations of them. The groups range from neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers to so-called ‘conservative’ groups to assorted white supremacists, professed ‘Christian’ organizations, anti-gay associations and neo-Confederates.

    Excerpt: But as there is hate, so there is resistance to hate; as there are red dots, so there are also regions of green. The green areas appear, however, only when you click the “Stand strong against hate” button....

(9): The Record

  • The Record: Introduction and Table of Contents

    Description: We bid you welcome to the The Record section of

    Excerpt: When and as time permits, this index page may be replaced with a broad discussion of journalism and history (the foci of The Record), both globally and particularly in the United States. For now, however, it is only....

(9.1): History

  • A mixed report

    Description: The photography on this page is outstanding, its presentation still better. But I cannot let pass without remark the author’s assertion that the United States has always been in the forefront of the struggle for liberty.

    Excerpt: If therefore we wish to call ourselves patriots, it is not to our state, our industry or our ruling elite and its uncouth demands that we owe our allegiance, but to the tenets boldly and eloquently proclaimed by the founders of our country; not to the equivocations of an economic aristocracy that built an edifice of unjust laws for the benefit of the ruling class, but to the ideals that still shine forth from....

  • Barack Obama: like Ike?

    Description: Now multiply this scenario by all the individual media outlets belonging to the five corporations that essentially own journalism in the U.S., and you begin to see why there is nothing liberal about the corporate-owned, advertising-dependent media.

    Excerpt: Imagine, for example, that you are a reporter for a corporate news magazine funded by ads from, among other sources, the tobacco industry. How do you think your career will prosper if you write stories that impute to the executives of that industry all the malign ingenuity that they....

  • Cornerstone of iniquity

    Description: This is the Cornerstone Speech given by Alexander Hamilton Stephens of Georgia, vice-president of the Confederate States of America, on 21 March 1861, and it is perhaps the most succinct and cogent expression of the principles of that professed nation embodied in a single document.

    Excerpt: Here we see precisely what the CSA really fought to defend: the rationalizing principle of its ‘peculiar institution,’ slavery. And today, if there is one measure by which we can demonstrate the continuing progress of human rights, it is that there is virtually no place left upon the earth in which any man still dares forthrightly to....

  • Landscaper’s paradise

    Description: Castles like this one, surrounded as this one is by close-cropped grasses, offer a clue to the historical origin of the precision-trimmed lawn that now demands so much time and effort for most working- and middle-class suburbanites to maintain in order not to bring down their neighbors’ property values.

    Excerpt: So, next time you spend a fine, clear Saturday pushing a roaring machine around your property rather than going to the beach or reading a novel, blame it on a medieval baron. But then be thankful you don't have to mow the lawn around this castle with a scythe while keeping a watch out of the corner of your eye for....


    Description: It certainly makes for an interesting mental image: the old master, eyebrows and moustache bristling with indignation, hammering furiously at a computer keyboard in response to the latest outrage perpetrated on the American people by their ruling elite and the government that serves it.

    Excerpt: Given the sometimes vigorous rebukes he delivered in his writings, and whom he rebuked, it is no surprise that he held his autobiography — which includes much political material previously suppressed — from publication until a century after his death; had he not....

  • Occasionally ‘Nast-y’: Inventor of editorial cartoon helped define America

    Description: So adroit were Thomas Nast’s caricatures that they have now become an indispensable part of U.S. political culture: The Uncle Sam and Santa Claus we know today were his inventions. So were the elephant and donkey that stand as emblems of the Republican and Democratic parties. No wonder Nast is now called ‘the father of the American cartoon.’

    Excerpt: Thomas A. Nast, cartoonist extraordinaire, spent his school years on the verge of flunking out and never learned to spell correctly. Nonetheless, before his death from yellow fever at age 62, he helped elect two presidents and almost single-handedly destroyed the Tammany Hall gang, and Spanish authorities used his cartoons to identify and arrest a....

  • Right for all the wrong reasons

    Description: The Texas Board of Education is correct to insist that the history of the Confederacy be taught alongside that of the Union, although it does so for the wrong reasons and doesn’t go far enough.

    Excerpt: To do this, however, would undoubtedly be anathema to the Texas board, because it would entail explaining that the Confederacy fought not for states’ rights, but for the right of agricultural barons in the South to retain unearned economic competitive advantages derived from slavery. To confirm this requires no more than to present students with the Cornerstone Speech of CSA....

  • Scenes from the Blitz

    Description: ‘There has of course been a big exodus from the East End, and every night what amount to mass migrations to places where there is sufficient shelter accommodation. The practice of taking a 2d ticket and spending the night in one of the deep Tube stations, e.g. Piccadilly, is growing....’: An eyewitness report on the Blitz of London from George Orwell.

    Excerpt: Funny. These sound quite like our 21st-century rich swine: “Homeless? They should have thought of that before they let their houses get bombed. And now they expect....

  • The fall of the republic?

    Description: From the language on our currency to the procedures (and indeed the name) of our Senate, from the etymology of the law to the administration of our far-flung, loose-reined empire, everything that defines us bears the indelible stamp of old Rome.

    Excerpt: Armies have not yet marched on Washington, but the governors and tax-farmers wax richer, deplete the treasury and erode the customs, values and institutions fundamental to our republic. And our Senate acts not for us, the plebs, but for its paymasters among the aristocracy; ours is but....

  • To prophesy against one’s country: How courage and cowardice can coexist in one personality

    Description: Why did Eisenhower wait until his farewell address to tell the country of the deadly dangers in store for it from the military-industrial complex? And why did he not follow up the speech with concrete actions, or at least consistently defend and amplify upon it?

    Excerpt: To be a prophet is not easy; it is said that a prophet is never honored in his own country and his own time. And surely the experience of those who have testified against their own people has been daunting. Great courage is required to sustain the role, and real people are compounded of a complex blend of courage and cowardice, and will waver when they ought....

  • Truman and Obama: The parallel stops here

    Description: Not only does Barack Obama show no sign of the political will that distinguished ‘Give ’em hell Harry,’ but I think in certain respects that’s just as well. This could be because the more I learn about Truman, the less I admire him.

    Excerpt: Perhaps the two most consequential decisions of Truman’s presidency were also the worst. One, in August 1945, was to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not so much, it now appears, to induce surrender (Japan was already prepared to surrender) as to....

  • War by chain reaction

    Description: As is so often true in war, the historian’s cited proximate cause proves really no more than a rationalization seized upon as a casus belli by unscrupulous ambition.

    Excerpt: Like a Rube Goldberg machine gone fatally awry, the continent fell into global war by chain reaction as each declaration of war required by treaty precipitated a counter-declaration required by....

(9.2): Journalism

  • Unjustly maligned: ‘Guilt by association’ always unsound reasoning

    Description: That some of the ‘whistleblowers’ against the TSA are trying to manufacture public outrage for private gain does not mean that all of them are. As far as I know and can learn from available material on the web, John Tyner is exactly what he says he is: a private but civic-minded citizen who objects to the Morton’s Fork offered by the TSA.

    Excerpt: I could excuse this by telling you I had only 4,500 characters in which to assess a rather complicated story, but the fact is, I was insufficiently vigilant and failed to observe and denounce an odious act of....

(9.2.1): Al-Jazeera

  • Get the rest of the news

    Description: If you want to see for yourself what’s happening on the streets of Cairo, or in Haiti or Latin America — or even want to see a different angle on news within the U.S. — forget the homogenized, sanitized, commercialized ‘product’ that passes for news as presented by megaconglomerates that would like to shape what you know, think and believe. Now there’s a real alternative, one that’s respected throughout the world as our media are not: Al-Jazeera English.

    Excerpt: American journalism, once the standard-bearer for objective reporting, has so declined in recent decades that most Americans say they don’t trust the media. One of the principal reasons cited for this loss of credibility is media consolidation: The nation’s broadcast networks belong to five giant corporations whose agendas determine what....

  • Why Al-Jazeera beats U.S. ‘journalism’

    Description: The opinions, perspectives, needs and desires of the ruling elite are now represented almost exclusively, at the expense of everyone outside that elite, who can expect indifference or hostility. Dissent has not been censored out of our media by the government; it has been crushed out by the power of big business.

    Excerpt: This lends itself well, however, to the real mission of the mainstream media, which is not to inform public discourse, but to mold it. ... “Five companies,” according to a sobering article on the state of U.S. journalism that I strongly recommend reading, “now own the broadcast networks; 90 percent of the top 50 cable networks produce three-quarters of all prime-time programming, and control 70 percent....

(9.2.2): CNN

  • What’s new here, anyway?

    Description: Given the corporate ownership, timidity about offending advertisers and mindlessly sensational, ratings-obsessed character of the rapidly consolidating U.S. media (a market in which five corporations control virtually every outlet), I think it is useless to expect CNN to discover reason and integrity outside of a dictionary.

    Excerpt: Let the mainstream media present as expert analysts the reanimated corpses of Jenghiz Khan, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Eichmann; let them make up lurid fantasies in lieu of news; let them progressively weed out every reporter, anchor or commentator who fails to fall into ideological lockstep. ... We retain one invincible defense: Shut off....

(9.2.3): Fox News

  • ‘Enemy of the Constitution’?

    Description: If any act of political violence does occur, those public figures — pundits, priests or politicians — who by maligning the victims seem to have made them targets ought to be stripped of their impunity and charged as if they had committed the crime themselves.

    Excerpt: And again, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the rest of this gaggle of media-powered sociopaths will claim to have nothing to do with it and whimper that once again they are the victims of a conspiracy that exists only in the fantasies they peddle. Meanwhile, the actual....

(9.2.4): Huffington Post

  • This house shall not stand

    Description: If you want to help show Arianna Huffington that her second tergiversation puts her squarely against the current of history, leave the AOLPo for the dogs. Read and write for publications operated by genuine, lifelong progressives who’ve never profited by association with the enemy.

    Excerpt: Henceforth, I will not credit professions of moral epiphany on the part of rightists who have made a career of ridiculing my convictions; I will view those who make them as latter-day “Saint” Pauls, “converted” on their own roads to Damascus by an opportunity to seize something new and fair and make of it a venal vehicle to deliver....

(9.2.5): Infinite Distraction

  • Fishy timing?

    Description: That the Transportation Security Administration is infringing air travelers’ fundamental rights is one of the few questions on which virtually all of us are agreed. Progressives and libertarians are equally offended by the agency’s conduct, and suddenly this is The Big Story all over the internet, and now it has the attention of Congress and some of the mainstream media.

    Excerpt: If this is what the Republicans are doing, they are being as adroit as the man who asks if you’re still beating your wife. There is nothing Obama can do that they will not attack. If Obama continues implementing the airport-security policies of the previous administration, he is a totalitarian. If he doesn’t, he’s....

(9.2.6): New York Times

  • Hell hath no fury...

    Description: ...Assange was never the real WikiLeaks story. He is merely a convenient figurehead, lightning-rod and scapegoat for corporate journalists who would like to make him the face of his organization as a first step toward discrediting it.

    Excerpt: In the end, this nine-page caricature proves one thing: WikiLeaks far better than the New York Times and its like represents the spirit of independent, investigative journalism that once flourished in the U.S. until the ruling elite emasculated the press and Judith-Millered skeptical reporting into....

  • The perversion of future history

    Description: ...[W]hen the story of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq is told in the textbooks of tomorrow, it will be founded on the reporting of the U.S.’ most authoritative contemporary source: the Times. And if that reporting has already been distorted to satisfy a political agenda, then the history must necessarily be distorted in proportion.

    Excerpt: What the Times is doing here, when for example it suggests that, as bad as the treatment of Iraqi detainees in American hands might admittedly be, it would have been still worse under Saddam Hussein, is essentially similar: Yes, it confesses, we are committing some unspeakable abuses; but they really aren’t that important, because the Iraqis....

(9.2.7): Propaganda Model

  • Argument by caricature: the Right’s plan to abolish workers’ rights

    Description: That the U.S.’ right wing is working methodically to return the country to conditions best described as ‘Dickensian’ is by now an open secret, denied only by those with a pecuniary stake in that outcome or those successfully hoodwinked by the deceptive arguments proposed by those stakeholders.

    Excerpt: This is not dissimilar to the painting of the poor, in the minds of those only slightly less beset by penury, as immoral, slothful, obese, improvident, ungrateful and greedy Untermenschen. Both appear to exploit the psychological principle of the “just world” fallacy, in which....

  • Boteach, go teach thyself

    Description: It’s not hard to see that the winds at the Huffington Post have shifted, and by now, most of us know why. When you build a ‘liberal/progressive/anti-corporate’ news site and then sell out to a corporation as right-wing and generally odious as AOL, two things become clear: You never really were a progressive, and any progressive thinking that may once have characterized your site’s content will be diluted or deleted, that the new owners may never suffer the mortification of being contradicted or exposed by their employees.

    Excerpt: Boteach’s central observation — that Barack Obama missed an opportunity to break ties with Hosni Mubarak when the will of the Egyptian public became clear — is valid. However, to compare Obama unfavorably with George W. Bush on account of the latter’s purported commitment to freedom and democracy is to....

  • ‘...But Jardown is awake’

    Description: Despite the canards depicting them as a nation of mental slugs who neither know nor care to know, despite the incessant winds of propaganda that would extinguish their awareness, some Americans struggle against the Lethean tide, stay awake, and strive to deliver their countrymen from the monster that is their pathocratic corporate state.

    Excerpt: Our deadliest enemy is also our most seductive addiction. I know this, for I once slept under the narcosis of television. But one day in November of 2001, television pushed me too hard, and I pushed back: Our television was gone that day, nevermore to return. And then, gradually....

  • Drowned out

    Description: A number of commenters on this page echoed its author’s bewilderment at the apparent ineptitude of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party to take credit for helpful economic measures or to put the blame for the deficit where it belonged prior to the 2010 midterm elections. But ineptitude had nothing to do with it.

    Excerpt: Add in all the astroturf groups and their faux-independent websites, and you have what many have come to call the right-wing noise machine. This cabal has a near-monopoly on the “news” Americans watch and is fast infiltrating the internet. Against all of this, it’s impossible for even a sitting president to make himself heard, so we witness the unedifying spectacle of....

  • Effective calumnies

    Description: But one could hardly argue that Moore swaggers more, or is more partisan, than such mouthpieces of the corporate far right as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin. The difference? Wendell Potter is forthright: The media are easily led to promote the opinions of the right and to calumniate the left.

    Excerpt: On a more practical level, however, personal experience and much close observation have told me that corporate media need not conspire to indoctrinate rather than inform: That they do so is necessary and endemic to their nature. A former publisher of mine was blunt about this: “The advertisers,” she said, “call the shots.“ This means....

  • False Leveling 101

    Description: And since most people try to be impartial when possible, and assume that ‘the truth lies somewhere in the middle,’ the media deftly exploit this ‘weakness’ to diffuse anger that rightly should focus a laser beam of hostile scrutiny on the malefactor.

    Excerpt: If, on the other hand, the issue at hand is too momentous, too prominent or too persistent to “go away” so easily, they will trot out the world-weary false objectivity that says, with a conspiratorial wink, “See? They’re just the same. Whatever happens, they’re....

  • She should be right at home

    Description: [Judith] Miller is a natural for Newsmax, which also brought discredit upon itself in April 2003 by claiming that missiles had been found in Iraq; this later turned out to be a fabrication, much to the embarrassment of conservatives who had cited the article as retroactive justification for the U.S.’ invasion.

    Excerpt: There is nothing fundamentally wrong with such “journalism” as that exemplified by Miller, Newsmax and Fox News — as long as we all bear in mind that it is really fiction. And in this demimonde of wishful fantasy-as-reporting, Judith Miller will....

  • TV ‘news’ losing its lustre?

    Description: Thanks perhaps in part to a well-earned reputation for mendacity, Fox ‘News’ may be starting to lose effectiveness: The most recent reports suggest that the program chiefly appeals to an older audience, with an average viewer age of 65 and increasing.

    Excerpt: Since television lends itself far better to propaganda and manipulation than other media, I can only applaud this development. As a journalist, I find it encouraging that more people are beginning to see the flaws of a medium that puts a premium on passive, quasi-hypnotic “infotainment” and to follow world events in a format that....

  • Watchwords of suspicion

    Description: I think there are already too many jumpy, hypervigilant post-traumatic stress sufferers in the wake of 9/11, thanks in large part not to the act itself, but to its interminable reiteration in the media. In fact, it is probable that most of America is afflicted with this ‘9/11 Syndrome.’ To adopt and promote this Orwellian slogan only further — and disproportionately — darkens our view of one another, and for this reason I cannot endorse it.

    Excerpt: And since the phrase was born of the events of 9/11, and is principally concerned with terrorism, to put it into universal practice strikes me as distinctly disproportionate to the actual prevalence of that threat, which is so low as to make the risk of being killed in a terrorist attack far less than that of drowning in one’s bathtub — not to....

  • Wrinkled ethics; portable irony needed

    Description: Parody, or just parrot-y? Such is the United States’ resolve to ensure governmental transparency and freedom of the press that it is hosting a symbolic event whose participants will congratulate one another upon the continued success of their respective ruling elites in simulating these virtues with sufficient verisimilitude to hoodwink an uninformed majority of their respective subjects.

    Excerpt: Three jeers to all concerned, for they have belied what they extol. Until a skeptical mass media have access to the hidden machinations of our unelected elite and report honestly upon them to an educated public, the ideals of democracy and republic can be nothing....

(9.2.8): Self-Censorship

  • A new Cold War, a new rationale for secrecy

    Description: Is there a meaningful difference, from the perspective of the reading public, between a press that is censored by government edict and one that voluntarily censors itself?

    Excerpt: But in this new Cold War, we have learned certain lessons from the old one. Chief among these is that we cannot trust those who bid us let them act under a cloak of darkness and who threaten us with destruction at the hands of our “enemies” should we shine a light upon them. For we have come to understand that sometimes our deadliest enemies are not....

  • ‘U.S. perfidy’: On the cowing of the American press

    Description: What is needed in today’s journalism is a touch of that old honesty, that former resolve to rebuke Israel for its inhuman treatment of the Palestinians, tempered by a refusal to tolerate real anti-Semites among Israel’s critics.

    Excerpt: We who value truth must therefore steer a straight course, equally prepared to remind the world of Israel’s callous scorn of the people whose land they have taken, and unequivocally to denounce the bigots who disingenuously present themselves as our allies. For each time we permit a xenophobe to....

(9.3): Media Consolidation

  • ...And then there were five

    Description: Who decides what’s in the news and how it will be reported? It’s not the government, and it certainly isn’t the reporters themselves. Although often deferential to authority, the media do not act to further the interests, principles or intentions of the public sector. Ultimately, they satisfy the purposes of two classes of private entities: the conglomerates that own them, and the companies that advertise in them.

    Excerpt: So it is that the journalists who best master the art of slanting reportage to serve the needs of their employers and advertisers find themselves with the most prominent bylines and the most prestigious assignments, assuring that still more of their exemplary work will set the standard for mainstream media coverage, while those who insist on real impartiality....

(10): The Struggle

  • The Struggle: Introduction and Table of Contents

    Description: We bid you welcome to the The Struggle section of

    Excerpt: A struggle is joined, in the nations of the Arab Spring and the 99 Percent movement alike. In all of them and more, there are two sides: the pathocratic global ruling elite, and the rest of us. This index page may one day be replaced with an essay defining the political, economic and ideological imperatives of....

(10.1): Activism

  • Moustache designed by Dr. Seuss?

    Description: A comment on a article on Jimmy McMillan.

    Excerpt: On the other hand, Jimmy McMillan is right: The rent is too damn high. Especially if you think about....

(10.2): Ath-Thawra (The Revolution)

(10.2.1): 3alami (Global)

  • Different countries, same struggle

    Description: ...[J]ust as the corrupt elites scorn national borders in their peculations, so have some workers begun to recognize a commonality of interest linking those outside the elites. As the sign carried by the protester on Tahrir Square shown above informs us, from today, Madison, Wisconsin, is next door to Cairo.

    Excerpt: So they would enslave us if we let them, for men will concede virtually anything to one who controls access to food, water, shelter, medical care and the other necessities of modern human existence, and the elites understand that it’s easier to control people if you have them over a barrel. To reduce us to destitution and desperation is therefore....

  • Food for fortitude

    Description: ‘One world, one pain.’ It would be hard to express more succinctly the sense of shared struggle between the protesters on Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the people thronging Madison, Wisconsin, to protest Governor Scott Walker’s union-busting initiative.

    Excerpt: What is happening today in Wisconsin is the first pitched battle of the modern age between ordinary laboring Americans and an elite with more than the pride of Lucifer. It will not of itself decide the course of....

  • Have torch and pitchfork, will travel

    Description: Ultimately, wealth is based on real assets; anything beyond that is a bubble that will implode under pressure when the assets run short — as they are now starting to do.

    Excerpt: But the central concern goes deeper, for in it lie the roots of America’s growing discontent. It is not a matter of things, but of our freedom to enjoy what once made our nation a great place to live, by comparison to an aristocratic Europe, even for....

  • On their own heads

    Description: In their perpetual endeavor to suppress dissent and resistance from those whose lives they dominate, the world’s elites have relied upon fast-emerging technologies to deceive, divide, spy on, intimidate and, if deemed desirable, to kill any potential adversary who threatens to aid the dispossessed against the greed-possessed. But as the revolutions in Tunis and Cairo have shown us, technology is double-edged: It can be used for as well as against the cause of freedom.

    Excerpt: Consider: two seemingly placid countries, two successful revolutions within a month’s time. And with what weapons were these revolutions fought? On the side of the ruling elites: every object that has been designed through a long and inhumane history to visit pain and destruction upon the human body or mind. On the side of the revolutionaries: numbers, will and communication. ... Herein we find the template for all successful resistance, for if ubiquitous violence be essayed in it, it will be answered....

  • Walker like an Egyptian?

    Description: ‘From today,’ I have said in a previous essay, ‘Madison, Wisconsin, is next door to Cairo.’

    Excerpt: ...[F]ar more than political repression, it was this mammonolatry that left millions of Egyptians in misery and want that grew every time Mubarak and his lieutenants devised new ways to divert wealth from the public treasury to their own private concerns. Finally, the steady diet of propaganda, surveillance and violence ceased to suffice, and a nation rose in peaceful and well-disciplined revolution — an inspiration to other victims of such regimes, and a dread herald of Nemesis for....

  • Ya shabab al-3alam, istayqaz!: Youth of the world, awake!

    Description: In this excellent article, Muhammad Nusair (the man depicted in this already iconic photo from Tahrir Square) explains why he believes the youth of the world (people from 15 to 35 years old) need to awaken politically and organize themselves in defense of human rights. (A review.)

    Excerpt: Until January 25, I was resigned. I would express what my conscience bade me, but with no particular expectation that it would be heard. My voice was drowned out at home, and there was nothing to be heard from abroad. Then, after the uncertain flare of Tunisia, came Egypt. And finally the flame of global....

(10.2.2): Khamis Wa-3ashrun Yanayir: 25 January (Egypt)

  • Ana bi-hebbek ya biladi: I love you, O my country

    Description: This song, a product of the Khamis Wa-3ashrun Yanayir (25 January) revolution in Egypt, represents a message from those who participated — and most of all, those who died — to their families, their countrymen and the world. (Comment on a music video released by the Egyptian youth movement.)

    Excerpt: Pictured below is one such martyr, Sally Magdy Zahran, who was bludgeoned in the back of the head by goons in the pay of former president Hosni Mubarak while protesting on Tahrir Square; she went home after the protest, went....

  • Egypt: A clearer picture emerges

    Description: That revolution began with street protests, attended by myriads, on 25 January, and Twitter posts from across the country are tagged with that date.

    Excerpt: This date, I readily believe, will finally eclipse 6 October and all lesser dates in Egyptian historical iconography, for it marks the beginning of the fulfillment of a long-deferred dream: the deposition of a tyrant in favor of a republic controlled by its people. ... And we can say that we have witnessed history being made, not by overlords and satraps, but by the people who have too long....

  • Khaled Said: the pebble that wrecked a juggernaut

    Description: In Egypt as in Tunisia, a single name, a single face, a single plain and modest citizen set unvanquishable multitudes in motion.

    Excerpt: History is about people, and when it turns unexpectedly, then we see that the stories that constitute it are as often about people like you and me as about the children of fortune whom blind tradition casts as its protagonists. Those stories often end in unavailing despair, in loss and lamentation — but....

  • ‘Kifaya!’: Enough!

    Description: Cairo, 28 January 2011: Two weeks after a popular revolution in Tunisia that ousted the corrupt, nepotistic and repressive government led by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak finds itself confronted by myriads of Egyptians surfeited with corruption, nepotism and repression.

    Excerpt: What happens from here? Either Mubarak summons up enough police and military support to smash the protesters, and Egypt will return to a state of seething discontent until another event sets it aboil again, or he will find himself — metaphorically if not literally — as a fellow guest....

  • من القاهرة بالحب : From Cairo with love

    Description: ‘One world, one pain’: These words have become famous across the world in recent days, for they appeared on a sign held by an Egyptian protester on Tahrir Square to enjoin international solidarity, with specific emphasis on the protests in Madison, Wisconsin. That protester’s name is Muhammad Saladin Nusair, and this is his blog.

    Excerpt: What kind of world will we choose for ourselves? The battle of ideas that will decide this is now being fought, in Madison as in Cairo, in Tunis as in Tehran, in Athens as in Reykjavik. It’s good....

  • Morning in Cairo: Egyptians ‘always awake’

    Description: Cairo resident and internet entrepreneur Omar Abdelwahed El-Shal is a fairly typical representative of the democracy movement. Like most of the protesters, the 33-year-old El-Shal is young, but far less politically naive than Western standards would lead one to expect.

    Excerpt: No YouTube video, no Facebook page, no StumbleUpon review, no tweet will be seen or heard when U.S. “democracy advocates” begin to wield their unwholesome influence and seek to divide Egyptian against Egyptian, to sow confusion and water it with lies, to buy the loyalty of one group or sell another to its adversaries. All of this will be done by whispers in....

  • Naming our dead

    Description: I call these men, women (and, terrible to say, children) ‘our’ dead because they have died, wittingly or not, in our cause.

    Excerpt: We, too, must soon take up this gauntlet; soon this cannibalistic global mammonolatry must yield to human values and fundamental morality. One nation at a time, and yet in sum so fast that the elite can never again regain its balance, nor yet....

  • Neocons’ nightmare: Middle East afire with hope

    Description: Be sure, however, that other actors besides the Egyptians will take an interest in this process and influence it to the extent of their powers. Indeed, it is reasonable to assume that they are already busy.

    Excerpt: If the combined powers of the West can be brought to bear exclusively in Egypt, they will very probably bind and redirect the energies of its people, and a “leader” will emerge who puts the interest of Western business ahead of that of his constituents. This is why the revolution must spread like fire and consume the kleptoplutocracies faster than....

  • Next?

    Description: Will Egyptians be able to restore to the people control of a nation long dominated by colonizers and postcolonial kleptoplutocracies? (From a review of a 26 January 2011 BBC report on protests in Cairo.)

    Excerpt: But now, for the first time in many years, there is hope, there is a leavening of optimism, and even Mubarak must know that his rule may not, after all, be an immutable condition of....

  • On the power of moral courage

    Description: The fate of freedom everywhere may hinge on this question: Which is to triumph, the power of armed thuggery, or the power of moral courage?

    Excerpt: Whence comes the courage that can enable weakness to stand before violence and power and — however transitorily — triumph? ... As there is such a thing as moral intelligence, so too there is moral courage. Sometimes the hate and heat of the autocrats’ enforcers is no match for this courage, and even these paid bullies, met with calm, reason and resolve, feel themselves rebuked and turn....

  • Qassam wa hakam: Divide and rule?

    Description: Many and varied are the tactics of counterrevolution. To reassert the uncontested dominance of the ruling pathocratic elite, forces under its command are unleashed which, over time, seek to erode the will and fragment the unity of those protesting its excesses or demanding its ouster.

    Excerpt: Only with stern fortitude and patience extending over not months but decades can democratic forces gain a permanent ascendancy in any society long controlled by a pathocratic elite. Long after the shouts of jubilation have died in Tahrir Square and across the Middle East, the grim confrontation between the agents of human values and those of sadistic oppression will continue. It will play out in secret....

  • Tahrir aw mawt: Liberation or death

    Description: ...[O]n Friday, as the world knows, these weary revolutionaries outlasted Hosni Mubarak and his gangs of goons. They won, and the tyrant has resigned his office, after a generation in absolute power, and fled. The hopes, wishes and prayers of a planet were answered, and Egypt is free. (A contemporary report on the Egyptian revolution.)

    Excerpt: Therefore, again, the revolution is not complete. The first battle is won, but the war can all too easily still be lost. All that is required for this to happen is for the people to succumb to fatigue, to imagine that the army will meet their demands in good faith sans steady pressure, to go home and rest a day too soon. If the pathocratic elite is given any chance to do so, it will reconstitute....

  • ‘The laughing cow’

    Description: Having stolen some $70 billion over his career (which amounts to about $1,000 per Egyptian) while leaving nearly half of his countrymen struggling for subsistence on two dollars a day, former president Hosni Mubarak doubtless thought he’d keep laughing all the way to the manger — er, bank — as he has done with impunity for three decades.

    Excerpt: And in the end, it was too much. The dictator who had held a nation of over 70 million in thrall to his will for a score and a half of years collapsed — in fact, it is reported that Mubarak collapsed in a faint three times during the recording of his resignation speech — capitulated and....

(10.2.3): Sabi3-3ashar Febrayir: 17 February (Libya)

  • Egypt and Libya: A tale of two revolutions

    Description: That the majority of Libya’s rebels are honestly seeking to regain freedom and independence seems certain. But they are fighting alongside others whose intent may be less pure, and with increasing foreign intervention, they will now have to be doubly vigilant lest their revolution be turned against them.

    Excerpt: ...The protesters love Egypt more than they do their respective ethnic, religious and political subgroups, and every picture we see reflects this in an ocean of red, white and black flags. There is no doubt or ambiguity: These people want their country restored to them, and their demands make it clear what this means. A renascent Mahatma Gandhi could never have plotted a better course. ... But Libya! This is an entirely different kettle of witches’ brew. ... Currently, Libya is governed by....

  • Kull makan al-harb: Everywhere is war

    Description: On this occasion, no review I could write for this page would say so much, and to such effect, as the following poem posted by anti-Qaddafi rebel ‘Libyan Freedom.’

    Excerpt: “The Libyans are living an atrocity;/The lack of media is a hypocrisy./CNN, where are you? ... The courageous speak their mind;/But there are fears what coercion they may find/As fathers, brother, and sons/Are taken, never....”

  • The strangest of bedfellows: How the Libyan ‘revolution’ brought together neocons and Al-Qaida — again

    Description: In Libya, the world faces a Morton’s Fork: Ought we to support the sanguinary, deranged dictator who ordered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, killing 270 people when the 747 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988? Or should we side with those rebelling against him, led in part by a senior Al-Qaida member who praises the 11 March tsunami in Japan as a judgment from Allah for Japan’s support of ‘the enemies of Islam’?

    Excerpt: When Qaddafi claimed that his enemies were affiliated with Al-Qaida, and warned that any Western journalist caught in his country would be arrested on charges of such an affiliation, I laughed. What more transparent ploy could a desperate dictator essay than to try to label his adversaries as terrorists? ... Then we began to learn more about the rebels, that eclectic force trying to oust Qaddafi. As I touched on in a previous essay, the revolutionary movement in Libya is far different from its cognates in....

(10.2.4): Thamin-3ashar Disembir: 18 December (Tunisia)

  • Requiem for a martyr

    Description: Tunisian produce vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, by repute honest, hardworking and generous despite his poverty, was only 26 on the morning of 17 December 2010, when he went downtown in the small and once-obscure village of Sidi Bouzid, stood in front of a municipal building, doused himself with fuel, and struck a match.

    Excerpt: Habituated to injustice the world’s poor may be, but man was not meant for degradation. And if Bouazizi’s spark does not suffice to keep alight the flames of rebellion, then be sure of this: Other poor and powerless people, harassed beyond endurance, will follow him into martyrdom. And one day, the global neoliberal aristocracy will fall forever, a new democratic order will grow, and....

(10.3): Political Science

  • ‘A man of many parts’

    Description: I had to read this page twice before deciding whether to thumb it up or down. The problem: author intrusion. Not content to interview Noam Chomsky, the author found it necessary to preface the interview with a prejudicial and slighting commentary in which his opinion on Chomsky’s political writing is presented as indisputable fact. (From a review of an interview with Noam Chomsky.)

    Excerpt: It appears to me that certain specimens of Chomsky’s work — particularly such analytical works as Necessary Illusions — represent significant expressions of original thought that today seem commonplace only because their power and reach have made them so: Everyone examining....

  • Gandhi squared?

    Description: This test is imperfect, as any test must be that attempts, on the strength of a few multiple-choice questions, to assess something as complex as individual political philosophy. But it does well to incorporate the social as well as the economic aspects of what is ultimately a polydimensional matrix of limited infinities; certainly, it comes nearer a useful metric than the traditional one-dimensional measure. (From a commentary on a survey used with a biaxial political matrix.)

    Excerpt: I am as much realist as idealist. I know how the entrenched aristocracies of business and government will resist ceding an iota of authority over us. And I know the weaknesses of my species: We tend toward greed, violence, narcissism and chaos; we are apt, when living in a corrupt society, to behave corruptly. But we need not always live according to our worst impulses — and increasingly, we are....

(10.4): Politics

(10.4.1): Center

  • Sister sites?: Useful information on both

    Description: In any case, this site, too, seems to provide a useful service, offering a slight counterweight to the many right-wing sites dedicated to destroying the presidency of Barack Obama. (From a review of the site

    Excerpt: To this end, thousands of bloggers have calumniated Obama far beyond the bourne of credibility. We have seen rumors that he’s not an American citizen, that he’s a Muslim, that his real name is Barry Soetoro, that he was born in Kenya, that he’s a communist, a socialist, a fascist, a Zionist, an anti-Semite and a member of the Illuminati. He has been accused....

(10.4.2): Right

  • A close view of the American right

    Description: Each time this happens, a mental image forms: Outside is not a vehicle, but a menacing predatory saurian filled with inarticulate fury; it knows not why it rages, but it suspects at some level too profound for its comprehension that something is very wrong in its world.

    Excerpt: Like the driversaurus, the American right wing is slouching to the tar pits to die, roaring defiance all the way. It doesn’t fully understand the changes in its world, and it imagines that it should be able to go on living as it has always done: by taking what it wants from smaller or less armed and armored creatures and turning most of it to fetid waste, then leaving the....

  • One slight catch

    Description: Bravo to America’s enterprising right-wing journalists for revealing this dastardly plot to return first Manhattan and then all of the continental United States to Native American control!

    Excerpt: But they missed an important, if unwritten, clause in this conspiracy: As a crypto-Muslim Kenyan honorary Crow, Barack Hussein Coughing Eagle Obama has confined eligibility for the return of Manhattan to those Native Americans who are prepared to celebrate their repossession of this vital borough in....

  • The fools of April: Do Republicans love pollution, or does it just look that way?

    Description: If one assumes that life is a game in which whoever dies with the most wealth wins, which is precisely the premise on which laissez-faire conservatism is founded (and the only one according to which it makes any semblance of sense), then there can be no room in a serious ‘player’s’ thoughts for any factor that would tend to mitigate the attack on the world needed to wrest such wealth from it.

    Excerpt: The reasoning goes, I think, something like this: “I can impose suffering on them and they can’t impose suffering on me. See? That just goes to prove my superiority.” (Not, of course, that any of them will admit it. Dissimulation seems to be another moral value among those who subscribe to the PT Barnum school of ethics: Thinking sociopathically, they believe that if they can deceive you, the blame falls on you for allowing yourself to be deceived. The ineluctable inference: All crime....

  • The Washington Times and the ‘moonification’ of American journalism

    Description: While I think there is some validity in reporting and rebuking Transportation Security Administration excesses in airport surveillance of passengers, I also think there are plenty of news sources with more credibility than the Washington Times, which is the property of Unification Church founder, Nazi collaborationist and self-crowned messiah Rev. Sun Myung Moon....

    Excerpt: Today more than ever before, countless media outlets and websites compete to bring us news colored in varying degrees by their operators’ political agendas. Thus, it grows ever more imperative to choose one’s sources with care; else one risks....

( Libertarian
  • Dangerous deceptions, radical reactionaries

    Description: Any time you encounter literature in which ‘big government’ is excoriated while big business gets mild criticism at worst — and particularly if it’s written by and for an organization with ‘freedom’ in its name — you may be sure that behind the ersatz radical rhetoric lurks a reactionary, pro-corporate agenda.

    Excerpt: Noam Chomsky has urged that everyone learn and practice “intellectual self-defense.” And since even Nazi propagandists offered valid and cogent criticisms of international ruling elites, and presented themselves as reformers in the interest of the ordinary man — much as the FFI does — it is necessary to defend ourselves with a potent weapon: skepticism. Otherwise, it is all too easy....

  • Putting Murphy’s Law to the test?

    Description: This scene represents more than appears in it: People who feel that the Second Amendment implies an unconstrained right to carry firearms have presented arguments on this theme countless times. And, as in every other such case, the reasoning is fatally fatuous.

    Excerpt: I think we all know what will happen. Sooner or later, one of those people who occasionally makes the news for shooting himself in the privates while showing off his brand-new, armor-penetrating “toy” will do so while en route from Los Angeles to New York. Sooner or later, deranged or enraged, someone else will perform a Jared Loughner impression. Sooner or later, yet another someone will simply accidentally....

( Pseudolibertarian
  • Sean Gabb: dangerously insane

    Description: Not content merely to question the dangers of passive or secondhand smoking, the author plays revisionist science by claiming that even active smoking has not been conclusively demonstrated to cause illness, and repeatedly accuses (quite forthrightly; there is no insinuation here) scientists who have reported that smoking is harmful of deliberate deception for no other apparent reason than to gain power in order to inflict further such acts of malice on the public.

    Excerpt: But when both sides of a controversy accuse one another of deliberate lying, as has happened here, there is a fairly easy way to tell, most of the time, who is really practicing to deceive: The liar is probably the one arguing for a profit-making enterprise that the other side threatens to make less profitable. Here again we see the venerable detective’s formula: cui bono?: to whose good? And this is what....

( Tea Party
  • ‘No sail’?

    Description: Here is an offer that I suspect many Tea Partiers would reject summarily. I remember personalities like these from a number of venues, particularly school and chat rooms: They’re the people who feel ‘belittled,’ and vociferously object, if anyone tries to correct them.

    Excerpt: When conditions pass a certain level of intolerability, I predict that all but an obtuse and characteropathic minority will awake to their peril and join with us in demanding regime change and a restoration of the egalitarian ideals by profession of which America’s founders reshaped....

(11): WikiLeaks

  • WikiLeaks: Introduction and Table of Contents

    Description: We bid you welcome to the WikiLeaks section of

    Excerpt: At the webmaster’s discretion, this index page may later be replaced with an essay on WikiLeaks and its resurrection of investigative journalism, globally and in the United States. For now, however, it is only....

  • Show us your sources

    Description: If you want people to confirm your claims, use real URLs that tell readers what site they originally came from and let them determine for themselves — without risking a visit to a page in a poke — what they are being invited to look at and whether it is credible.

    Excerpt: Actually, I agree with the thrust of this article: It is absurd, hypocritical and inane for credit card companies that happily process fees for religious extremists and pornographers alike to raise the banners of ethical purity against WikiLeaks. The latter — unlike, for example, the terrorist KKK — cannot be shown to have committed any crime, nor does any commander in Iraq or Afghanistan tell us of any danger to be apprehended for locals working with U.S.-led forces as a result of....

(11.1): Attacks On...

  • Distilled hypocrisy

    Description: When Post Finance, a Swiss bank, tells us it has terminated business relations with Julian Assange and closed his WikiLeaks defense fund because Assange misled it by calling himself a Swiss resident, we may infer two things: It has done this under pressure to continue the economic strangulation that the elite intends to apply to the leaks site, and it is lying about the reason.

    Excerpt: Consider: How many other holders of Swiss bank accounts are actually held to this standard? Bear in mind, as you answer, that Swiss banks have been notorious for over a century as safe places for international commerce and crime to store its funds precisely because they make it a point never to inquire too closely into the origins of either the funds or....

  • Strike four

    Description: Such collaboration may not surprise us, but it should warn us of what lies ahead. If the suppression of WikiLeaks succeeds, we may confidently predict future collusions for the same object. And in that case, the freedom of the internet may prove illusory.

    Excerpt: Since it is easier to bribe, browbeat or arrange a deal with a few big companies than with many small ones, easier to pull a few large plugs than many little ones, we need to start adding more independent ISPs, free-access web servers and more DNS services. There needs to be an enormous proliferation and a staggering redundancy....

  • The strangulation of WikiLeaks: Possible motive emerges

    Description: When VISA and MasterCard stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks, there was immediate speculation that the companies might appear in an unflattering light in future releases of diplomatic cables. And evidence didn’t take long to appear: Already we find the companies on the receiving end of a financial favor from the White House, which lobbied in Russia to ensure that they needn’t face competition from a Russian credit service that would have cut into their profits.

    Excerpt: Although this act of industrial sycophancy is more dishonorable to the government than to its beneficiaries, neither company can emerge from this untainted by the fetor of favoritism. Perhaps, then, it was in part as preemptive....

(11.2): Bradley Manning

  • On pronouns and morality

    Description: Sometimes I think there is nothing in language so morally compromising as the first-person plural personal pronoun. When we say ‘we,’ all too often it signals a fatal identification with a parochial group that tends to imply a corresponding willingness to disassociate ourselves from humanity as a whole. How many psychological studies have shown us how dangerous that can be?

    Excerpt: The treatment accorded alleged WikiLeaks source PFC Bradley Manning in military detention has been widely documented, and includes 23-hour-a-day isolation, denial of access to such amenities as sheets on specious grounds of self-injury prevention, and daily inspections requiring him to strip in view of other inmates. Taken together, this represents far more than “stupid” public relations; indeed, no unbrutalized mind could perceive....

  • ‘Recalled to life’?: A tale of two whistleblowers

    Description: Today in reality, as eleven score and one years ago in fiction, the fate of the whistleblower has not essentially changed. He who dares disclose the monstrous enormities of the powerful and privileged will find himself not merely imprisoned, but held in conditions amounting to psychological torture, that no one shall venture another such disclosure.

    Excerpt: In Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, Dr. Alexandre Manette, delivered by carriage to the chalet of the Marquis St. Evremonde, finds two patients awaiting him. One is a beautiful young woman, whom the Evremonde twins have raped, lying bound on a bed in a state of extreme fever and repeatedly first crying, “My husband, my father, and my brother!” then counting to twelve, then finally saying “Hush!” before repeating....

  • Reputed WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning: Courage in uniform redefined

    Description: I have said this before, and I will repeat it whenever the question arises: If indeed Army specialist Bradley Manning released Pentagon and State Department secrets to WikiLeaks, he committed no crime. Rather, he told his fellow citizens of the crimes of their ruling elite, and for this he is to be jailed for fifty-two years.

    Excerpt: Self-anointed experts who tell us that we should trust them because they know more than we spit corrosive contempt upon the principles that America holds essential and scorn us as inferior beings unequal to the conduct of our nation’s affairs. Manning has delivered a blow to this cabal that will resound....

(11.3): Conspiracy Theories

  • A solid footing on the astral plane?

    Description: I cannot consider this conspiracy theory any more plausible than most of the Truther theories. Sometimes the part of true skepticism is to know when to take things at face value rather than creating a Ptolemaic astronomy with deferents and epicycles. (From an essay on an article in

    Excerpt: It is easier every day to find a conspiracy in everything, and then to find a counterconspiracy hidden within the conspiracy. By doing this, we are spinning our wheels and gaining no traction on the plentiful issues that we can all agree are real and significant. Very likely this serves the interest of the ruling elite by distracting dissidents from engaging in the battle against oppression as they bicker over whether other....

  • ‘U.S. government con job’?: Divide et impera as always

    Description: If you mentally substitute ‘This conspiracy theory’ for ‘WikiLeaks,’ this article’s headline takes on real meaning. Otherwise, it is rubbish that nicely divides us of the dissident opposition into mutually suspicious factions — precisely as the U.S. government and other elements of the global ruling elite would have us.

    Excerpt: Here is where we must make an effort to sustain real skepticism. Sometimes, paradoxically, this means rejecting conspiracies and taking certain things at their face value. ... In this case, it ought to be apparent that WikiLeaks is no U.S. government operation: The outrage against it is too real, too ubiquitous and variously expressed, too characteristic of furtive pathocrats spotlighted in their secret machinations and....

(11.4): Corporate Communications

  • Bank of Amorality?

    Description: Joining a list of banks and other financial-services corporations that includes Paypal, MasterCard and Visa, Bank of America has decided, for reasons not particularly explained in its public explanation, to refuse to process transactions for WikiLeaks. Like the others, it is therefore now the target of a global boycott.

    Excerpt: Now the world awaits the truth: Did these companies act against WikiLeaks only because of governmental pressure, or is it a matter of their executives’ principled objections to the release of government secrets, or were they really acting pre-emptively because they anticipated WikiLeaks’ coming release of compromising information about their own misdeeds? I for....

(11.5): Diplomatic Cables

  • And in other news...

    Description: The ‘leaders’ of the Middle East and much of the rest of the world (as of December 2010) are portrayed here at their dubious best, as seen by editorial cartoonist David Horsey through WikiLeaks’ unflattering lens. Watch this space for further developments. (Comment on a cartoon.)

    Excerpt: N/A

  • On Iran, WikiLeaks and Arab opinion: Looking below the surface

    Description: Recently published diplomatic cables obtained through WikiLeaks have given the impression — fostered by selective reporting — that most Arab countries distrust and fear Iran, and some would welcome a military attack on it by the U.S. or Israel. But this is grotesquely superficial and therefore misleading.

    Excerpt: As the poll reported on this page clarifies, the opinions represented in the cables are those of the autocratic governments allied with the U.S. — and are far from uniform even among them. As so often under such regimes, the opinions audible outside the region reflect only the concerns of a sycophantic ruling elite that has identified with its neocolonial overlords, while the thoughts of the people living under that elite are muted and go unheard. And it is hardly surprising that what the U.S.’ satrapies say for its consumption tends....

  • Spymaster of State?

    Description: Among other revelations in WikiLeaks’ selection of U.S. diplomatic cables published to date, it has become apparent that Hillary Clinton’s State Department functions as an auxiliary spy agency, using its access to foreign and United Nations officials to gather intelligence on them, including such secrets as their passwords and encryption keys.

    Excerpt: As to WikiLeaks, on the other hand: Certainly it’s plain to see why Ms Clinton and her staff would dearly love to watch Julian Assange meet the same fate that befell Lord Llywelyn when he misdirected British soldiers in pursuit of Welsh....

(11.6): Downloads

  • ‘Insurance’ Policy: Download this file in case of disaster

    Description: Visit this page if you want to download the WikiLeaks ‘insurance’ file, created in case disaster befalls the leaks site.

    Excerpt: Since this page was first published, in 2011, WikiLeaks’ so-called “poison pill” has become a small pharmacy. As of 29 April 2015, there are six such files, available [through]. Be advised....

(11.7): Investigative Journalism

  • Celebrating The Rebirth of Investigative Journalism

    Description: Today, for the first time, you and I have the resources to learn and report what those in power would have kept to themselves. Today, thanks to WikiLeaks, there are a billion potential Bob Woodwards scattered over the internet-connected world.

    Excerpt: Once the Washington Post brought down the Nixon administration by looking into a break-in at Democratic headquarters and tracing the lines of authority to find that the orders behind it originated at the top. Since then, however, the Post and its congeners have become lapdogs which so value their access to the powerful....

  • Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange: Two of a Kind?

    Description: If, as most Americans now agree, Ellsberg's revelations aided the nation in restoring a modicum of accountability to its government and are therefore valuable in succoring our democratic traditions, then it is hard to justify the attacks — both rhetorical and practical — on WikiLeaks, which is providing the same service with a somewhat broader scope. Ultimately, one either believes in accountability or one does not.

    Excerpt: When Daniel Ellsberg reads assertions that WikiLeaks is inconsequential or morally questionable, as compared with his own release of the documents that helped bring down the Nixon administration and end the Vietnam War, he takes exception. To do so is, he says, “just a cover for people who don’t want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth....”

  • Dear Telegraph: [Expletive in Morse Code]

    Description: A spectre haunts the government-corporate complex of America, Europe and Asia: the spectre of Julian Assange. Not without help, not without crucial and indispensable assistance from many others whose names have never made the news, but by his inspiration, a new kind of medium was born. With it was reborn the lost art of investigative journalism.

    Excerpt: And so such investigative reporters as Bob Woodward (who broke the Watergate scandal in the Washington Post) and such disclosers of government secrets as Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the Pentagon Papers) live on in US popular history as both hero and villain: those people who dared stand in the face of the powerful and corrupt, and also those people who diminished the authority of....

  • Enemies of Freedom: Why liberty demands an adversarial press

    Description: This is where WikiLeaks comes in: Its role is to fill the adversarial ‘watchdog’ role that the mainstream media have abdicated.

    Excerpt: If we would keep our government honest, we need exactly what Lieberman and company most loathe: an adversarial press that assumes that government pronouncements and quotes from “senior administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity” are designed to persuade rather than to inform. Such a press would never merely take the word of....

  • Right Message, Wrong Messenger

    Description: In all fairness to Alan Dershowitz, I do not imagine that he had such abusive applications of torture in mind when he wrote. However, by this time he should be aware that ideas can have effects on real lives, and what we see here is the practical effect of his advice, irrespective of his intent.

    Excerpt: The photo above depicts a captive at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, with one of his interrogators calmly standing by; the latter may be trimming his fingernails, presumably because one wouldn’t want to subject innocent people to torture with....

  • WikiLeaks: Reviving investigative journalism

    Description: In this confrontation between citizen-journalist and ruling elite, I am reminded of something Thomas Paine once said: “Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.”

    Excerpt: The premise underlying WikiLeaks is deceptively simple: that every citizen has a right to know what his government is doing. By releasing the U.S. embassy cables, the site is serving precisely that end. But of course such a simple idea is not so simple in practice, for those in power are....

(11.8): Julian Assange

(11.8.1): Rape Prosecution

  • ‘Honeypot’ bait for the CIA?

    Description: What we must therefore keep firmly in mind is that, even if Assange should be found guilty on the most incontrovertible of evidence, that makes Assange a criminal; it does not mean that WikiLeaks itself is criminal or ceases to be a good idea and a valuable resource for investigative journalists.

    Excerpt: In Ardin’s defense, “links” to the CIA could probably be discovered for virtually any American by someone trying hard enough to find them. In fact, I could be considered “linked” to the agency myself: For nearly two decades, starting in 1983, I played....

  • Lux Fiat: WikiLeaks casts a light on diplomatic double-dealing

    Description: Like it or not, the U.S. and its satrapies face a changed world thanks to WikiLeaks. No more can they betray one another and their own citizens in the shadows of secret diplomacy, for today and henceforth a pervasive light will dog them, and all of their duplicities, deceptions and double-dealings will stand illuminated for all to see.

    Excerpt: All of this seems to many observers like the stuff of B movies: The protagonist offends the wrong person and finds himself framed for a crime he never committed. And, as in B movies, Assange may feel that he has to evade capture as he values his life. Thanks to Sarah Palin and several....

  • ‘Rape’ retroactively redefined?: How the pathocratic elite hopes to destroy WikiLeaks

    Description: When WikiLeaks released diplomatic cables that showed the ruling elites of the world at their worst, it incurred the enmity of virtually every corrupt authority on the planet. This assures that the site will be the target of a global cabal resolved to obliterate it; and with what dissimulation, deception and duplicity they will pursue this object is illustrated by their own words as they appear in the cables.

    Excerpt: Most insidious, however, is the fourth line of attack, which relies on the fourth estate for its effect: While propaganda against WikiLeaks itself has yielded only mixed results, the elite thinks it has found the site’s Achilles’ heel: Assange himself, who is now the target of a fusillade of calumnies duly reported and repeated by....

  • Retroactive ‘rape’?: Julian Assange a victim of character assassination

    Description: Ultimately, however, WikiLeaks’ enemies cannot prevail. Even should they succeed in destroying Julian Assange, the project will go on. And in the process, they will create of Assange a martyr: a spectre that will haunt them and a symbol behind which the lovers of freedom will rally.

    Excerpt: Today, as a result, the advocates say, one of every ten references to rape on the internet mentions Assange’s name and three of every four news stories about him also refer to “rape.” This is despite the fact that formal charges have never....

  • The vital question

    Description: This is what mortifies and terrifies [the elites]. For after too many such revelations, they will be forever stripped of their mantle of omniscient authority, forever exposed to derision and defiance as we come to see them for the squabble of sociopaths, the Keystone Kreeps, that they are. And when that mantle falls away, they become vulnerable at last.

    Excerpt: Mrs. Assange, being who she is, must surely know by now what she implies but does not state: Virtually all the national ruling elites of the world are in essence one elite; and all the metanational corporations that so dominate our lives and all the governments that make law of the corporations’ whims are part of that elite; they recognize as enemies not one another but....

(11.8.2): Threats

  • ‘Death to Julian Assange’?: Fatwas from the neocon ruling elite

    Description: When we see the elite as it really is — no better than we and often worse — the spell is broken. No longer can it claim a right to rule, an informed consent to its rule, a deeper understanding, a pristine expertise, a moral and intellectual exaltation, a preternatural wisdom: All of these illusions have begun to melt away, and we have begun to see our “democracy” for the sham it is.

    Excerpt: Now as never before, “ordinary” people around the world — and particularly in the capitalist “democracies” — can read in a myriad of sources the words that the powerful meant for no eyes but each other’s: the words that show them all too plainly as no better, no wiser, no less fallible than the rest of us. And then there are the other words, as well: the ones that show....

  • ‘Hall of infamy’: Public figures suborn murder of Julian Assange

    Description: This page introduces, one at a time, the public figures who have so far advocated killing or 'disappearing' Julian Assange. I propose this: If something of the kind does happen, each person appearing on this page should be investigated as an accessory. If it should become evident that the criminal acted, wholly or in part, in accord with his or her suggestions, that public figure should suffer whatever penalty....

    Excerpt: If that means capital punishment ... well, let’s just say it wouldn’t bother me to see Thomas Flanagan slowly and very deliberately asphyxiated with hydrogen cyanide, soiling himself in unspeakable excruciation and meeting death with a rictus of agony as....

(11.9): Mirrors and Allies

  • Hall of mirrors?

    Description: Under siege from governmental and corporate cyberthugs, WikiLeaks calls to its defense all who love liberty more than corrupt authority.

    Excerpt: On this page we find some of those defenders, who by making space on their websites available to mirror WikiLeaks have made of it an....

  • Mirror,rorriM: How to set up a WikiLeaks mirror on your web server

    Description: A call goes out to those who believe that man was meant to know and think and do for himself rather than submit to corrupt authority that demands the right to decide our fates in secret: If you have a Linux/UNIX server and a gigabyte or so of space, now you can help.

    Excerpt: Update: As you may have seen, the WikiLeaks “insurance file,” which at the time this page was first published was about one gigabyte, has become six files, the largest....

  • ‘We have engaged the enemy’

    Description: In WikiLeaks, the global neoliberal empire may have met its match at last. Never before has such resistance to corporate power and governmental authority appeared in so many places, and never has it been so effectual or so long sustained. Today a kind of revolution has begun, not on the streets or behind the barricades, but on the internet. And before it ends, we may see what we never....

    Excerpt: This clash, between governments that demand the right to decide our fate in secret and activists who demand that the people be allowed to learn what their rulers are doing, will not soon subside. As each side begins to use all the weapons at hand, the internet skirmish has begun to take on the characteristics of cyberwarfare and the dimensions of....

(12): World Events

  • World Events: Introduction and Table of Contents

    Description: We bid you welcome to the World Events section of

    Excerpt: At the webmaster’s discretion, this index page may (but probably will not) be replaced with a broad discussion of world events and news, with particular attention to the role played in them by....

(12.1): Africa

  • ‘Everywhere is war’

    Description: Meanwhile, unwittingly far more than any African the victims of indoctrination by their ruling elite, people in the West continue to parrot the eternal myth of African incapacity for wise self-rule, taking as a pretext for this dogma the very poverty that Western industry, backed by Western governments, imposes upon and perpetuates among them....

    Excerpt: “A recent development in the psychological war is the campaign to convince us that we cannot govern ourselves, that we are unworthy of genuine independence, and that foreign tutelage is the only remedy for our wild, warlike and primitive ways. Imperialism has done its utmost to brainwash Africans into thinking that they need the strait-jackets of....”

(12.1.1): North Africa

( Egypt
  • Beware the jealousy of princes

    Description: Once again, those who would know the true identity of the world’s greatest criminals have cause to be thankful: WikiLeaks has revealed the real culprit behind the triple bombing at a Sharm El-Sheikh hotel in 2005 that killed 88 people. His name is Gamal Mubarak, son and once heir-apparent to former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.

    Excerpt: After this crime, the Mubarak regime successfully blamed the attack on Islamist or Bedouin terrorists, prompting a period of “soul searching” for Egyptians. But the real story, according to the seized documents with which this article links, is far more sordid: After Hussein Salem (owner of the Movenpick Hotel that was the bombers’ principal target) reduced Gamal Mubarak’s share of....

  • Parsing the glyphs

    Description: Comment on a cartoon.

    Excerpt: Reading the middle column of glyphs in the image below, we find this: “...And when the asp of malign eye laid the foot of oppression for too long upon the people of the Nile, they did cry out unto the world, that into the courtyards of the wealthy who....”

( Libya
  • A matter of priorities

    Description: And then there is another understanding of Obama: that indeed he wears the current mask of the ogre, but that this is not ultimately the U.S. hegemony, but the furtive global ruling elite, of which the hegemony is merely the strongest geopolitical weapon of the moment.

    Excerpt: Meanwhile, it seems that many Arabs see Obama’s as merely the latest guise of the hegemonic ogre now represented by the U.S. As this cartoon suggests, he is a Caesar here to render unto himself that which....

( Tunisia
  • Hayy ath-thawra: Long live the revolution!

    Description: “Popular revolution”: two words, seven syllables, a world of implications. So rare, in recent years, has such an uprising been, that merely to see them in print is a shock.

    Excerpt: What has happened in Tunisia fails to fit the model our media have constructed to explain every act of resistance to our satellite regimes in the Middle East — that it represents only a narrow, faith-driven Islamist agenda and is intended to reinstate traditional religious government. What we see here is not fundamentalists overthrowing a liberal, secular technocracy in favor of an illiberal theocracy; it is people of all kinds, religious and otherwise, who....

(12.2): Americas

(12.2.1): North America

( Mexico
  • ‘Cairovaca’?

    Description: “Local” protests are becoming a thing of the past. When the author of this article quips about “Cairovaca,” it is not solely because the protest on which he’s reporting reminds him of Tahrir Square; it is because that protest took inspiration and tactics directly from Tahrir, applying lessons learned in one country to the problems of another.

    Excerpt: With what benevolent or malign intent it may have been originally conceived I know not, but after more than forty years of costly “failure,” the war on selected drugs has become no more than a diaphanously disguised campaign to transfer wealth to military, governmental and law-enforcement elites while insidiously....

(12.2.2): South America

( Honduras
  • A coup by any other name

    Description: When Honduran president Manuel Zelaya Rosales began instituting comprehensive reforms of his country’s US-imposed banana republic-style economic, political and legal system, his fate was sealed.

    Excerpt: Conservative apologists for the current coup will offer their usual rationalizations of the unconscionable, saying in this case that Zelaya acted unconstitutionally and that most Hondurans supported his overthrow. Neither statement is true; as this article makes clear, the State Department honestly characterized the coup itself as “illegal and unconstitutional,” while the figure below shows....

(12.3): Asia

(12.3.1): Central Asia

( Afghanistan
  • Ego deflated?

    Description: The U.S. has long assumed its centrality in world affairs. We are so self-obsessed that we assume that this obsession is shared by the rest of humanity.

    Excerpt: It is hardly surprising if this report* is true and 92 percent of Afghans never heard of 9/11. We should perhaps bear in mind that, given a recent history in which first the USSR and then the Taliban and now....

( Pakistan
  • Songs of captivity?

    Description: My internet connection is notoriously slow: To load this six-minute video cost me over half an hour. For this reason, I seldom watch videos. This one, however, was worth the wait — as I could tell after the first two seconds came through, bringing with them a snatch of melody that will never cease to haunt me.

    Excerpt: That Riaz’ poem speaks of “whirling in a dance of ecstasy” seems fitting here, for it is in part by such dances that the Sufi (notable among whom was Rumi) seeks....

(12.3.2): East Asia

( China
  • Thrown under the bus? Don’t worry

    Description: Chinese officials expect this vehicle to reduce congestion and pollution — which is good, because if China really intends to adopt an American lifestyle for its 1.3 billion people, more congestion and pollution are exactly what it can expect.

    Excerpt: This is a novel concept: the bus-as-tunnel. As the photograph below depicts, these straddling buses — now being developed in China — offer a new public-transportation option that’s far cheaper to build than a subway, but doesn’t....

  • To build a palace in the clouds

    Description: Sometimes what appears intelligent is not. We praise as “smart” those who successfully win great wealth, but what most of them do to get it is far from smart. Moral intelligence is missing; there is no reckoning with....

    Excerpt: In China as in the United States as in Egypt and Tunisia, this is a moment of decision. Shall we let our elites continue to destroy, in the name of economic growth, every attribute of nature vital to our existence? Shall we continue to suffer this amoral minority to drive us from disaster to avoidable disaster until it....

( Japan
  • Ichi sekai, ichi itami: One world, one pain

    Description: It was very early in the morning (near 1:30 a.m.) on Friday, 11 March 2011, when I found time to sit at my computer and begin reviewing the current news and examining the weather forecast before buckling down to the task of reading, rating and reviewing articles from my friends on StumbleUpon. Looking at the weather page, I was immediately struck by two words I’d dreaded ever since moving to Crescent City, California: “Tsunami warning.”

    Excerpt: But such events serve to remind us of something too often and too easily forgotten in too many contexts: Nothing happens in isolation. All the world (and infinitely beyond, if you care to analyze the nature of nature in such depth) is a single, vast, staggeringly complex web of interacting phenomena. Because there are so many of us, because we have filled every habitable zone of the earth, and because....

(12.3.3): Southeast Asia

( Burma
  • ‘Long overdue,’ indeed

    Description: If you lead a political party which wins the national elections, what reward can you expect? If you’re Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, the answer is 15 of the past 20 years in prison or under house arrest at the hands of the country’s military dictatorship.

    Excerpt: If this were a movie, our protagonist would now be swept into the presidential palace at the head of a procession of her people so numerous that the generals would resign without contest. And Aung and her party would rule wisely and....

(12.3.4): West Asia

( Iran
  • A question of modus operandi?

    Description: If, however, the question of the authorship of these crimes turns on their modus operandi, then another possibility, raised in this article, must be considered: Israel, which has a considerable stake in slowing Iran’s nuclear projects in keeping with its resolve to remain the only nuclear power in the Middle East, may be the actual perpetrator.

    Excerpt: Update: ...But I think it came as a surprise to no one with even a passing familiarity with the cast of characters when the United States admitted in 2012 that it was Mossad that had been carrying out....

  • Unearthly splendor

    Description: Iran, the Persia of yesteryear, is not as they have painted it: It is a place of beauty in a thousand different forms, its citizens diverse, well educated and better informed of us than we of them, and I would not care to see all of this obliterated in the service of a neoconservative geostrategic agenda predicated on Israel’s uncontested domination of the Middle East.

    Excerpt: ...Western media have adroitly painted Iran in dark and funereal colors, creating a sinister picture of a barbaric land filled with primitive fanatics. There is no doubt that these elements do exist, but to look at this page is to see how isolated and benighted our media have kept us, to begin to comprehend that there is far more to Iran (as there is to each of our enemies du jour) than passes through....

(12.4): Europe

(12.4.1): Russia

  • Pathocracy: when Vogons rule

    Description: In this article, we learn of the plans of some Russian oligarchs — surely Vogons in human form, if their behavior is any guide — to build a giant toll highway linking Moscow and Saint Petersburg, unnecessarily using a route straight through Khimki Forest. Last year, popular protest led Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to order construction halted; but now, thanks to persistent bribery and other corruption among officials, law enforcement and industry, the project is on again.

    Excerpt: This, of course, is a well-established pattern under pathocracy around the world: A decision is made, usually in private meetings to which the public is not privy, to proceed with a project immensely profitable to powerful business interests but harmful to the public; the people learn of it and protest; and the leaders of this opposition then become....

(12.4.2): Scandinavia

( Iceland
  • A model to consider

    Description: A good practical beginning: Get rid of television as a “news” source, clear our heads of the mental fog churned out by the mass media, force through a constitutional amendment altering the fundamental corporate charter that requires corporations to do whatever it takes to maximize shareholder returns and establishes that corporations as fictional entities do not hold personhood or rights of citizenship, and begin the attrition of corrupt elites by demanding public financing of elections.

    Excerpt: Fundamental change is coming to America soon: This becomes more apparent by the second. What is not clear is the direction that change will take. If left to the ruling elite, it is likely to lead to more suppression, more oppression, more fiscal debauchery and less freedom and social mobility. For this reason, I think we must cease to be passive political “consumers” choosing between false alternatives offered by the powerful, and begin aggressive....

(12.5): Middle East

(12.5.1): Bahrain

  • A tale of two monarchies

    Description: And if there is a single act that would alter the Middle East profoundly and permanently, it would be the ouster of the hubris-afflicted Saudi royals. Overthrow this fetid family-owned despotism, with its pervasive propaganda, social backwardness and fostering of religious extremism, and the world will change for good — and for the better.

    Excerpt: Flanked to north and south by the “two seas” from which it took its name lies the desert archipelago of Bahrain. Tiny in geographic area but enormous in strategic military importance to the United States because it hosts the US’ Fifth Fleet, it is also economically significant as the headquarters of....

(12.5.2): Israel and Palestine

  • Apartheid states and the tainted triad: one down, one to go

    Description: When two ethnic/religious groups share a state, but one wields all the power; when the dominant group practices bigotry and voices contempt for the other; when the dominant group builds a wall of separation to exclude the other; when one group has rights and privileges denied the other; when the former group would, if equal rights were recognized for all who are native to the groups’ common state, form a minority; when the former group denies the mere right of freedom of association among the latter; when most of the former denounces as treason any “miscegenation” with....

    Excerpt: Ultimately, however, the inherent injustice of Apartheid led to its destruction: The U.S. could veto UN resolutions, but it couldn’t stop the ever-growing number of people and businesses who refused to accept Apartheid from boycotting the regime until it succumbed to economic pressure and capitulated. Today, a similar movement is afoot against Israeli injustice toward the Palestinians over whom it exercises absolute power. And again, the U.S. can....

  • Balancing act: Fateh must stand up to Obama or fall

    Description: In pragmatic reality, Mahmoud Abbas and other leaders of Fateh/the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will tell you, political life has always been a delicate balance: Critical to their regime’s survival has been a duplicitous blend of acceding to the forcible demands of Israel as unconditionally backed by the United States, and speaking bravely before their constituents in order to retain their support. What they won’t tell you, of course, is that this is the price of corruption, collusion and cowardice: Only by the nimblest of political and rhetorical gymnastics have they so far escaped the fate of Hosni Mubarak, for by ignoring the fundamental interests of their people while enriching themselves and their cronies in the ruling elite, they have incurred the merited scorn of millions across the Middle East.

    Excerpt: It would appear, then, that Palestine may not be able to proceed alone. Too poor and militarily weak to fight Israeli power on any front, it likely must look to internal changes in Israel to bring succor. However, given the scale of Israel’s own economic gap between its ruling classes and its many impoverished, such changes are not inconceivable. “Days of rage,” ultimately, are not solely the prerogative of Arab-majority countries; they are the most promising remedy for people around the world, from Cairo to Madison, Wisconsin, to Athens to Tel Aviv, who....

  • E proelio veritas: From battle, truth

    Description: Of course, such an ideal solution is no longer possible. Israel is, and it is where it is; therefore, we must be both pragmatic and fair. This means one of two things: two contiguous, sovereign and fully independent states following the pre-1967 borders, as repeatedly agreed in principle but never effected; or one nation that becomes a homeland equally shared by its Jewish and Palestinian inhabitants, with a right of return for the latter. Nothing else could ever — or should — be acceptable to both sides.

    Excerpt: To enter the comments zone following this provocative image is to set foot on an ideological battleground, and the contestants miss no opportunity to inflict rhetorical wounds upon one another, but in all of this verbal warfare, an interesting thing happens: Something resembling a picture of the true history and present condition of Zionism begins....

  • Neoconservatives’ nightmare colloquy: “Shalom aleichem.” “Salaam alaykum”

    Description: So simple an exchange of salutations: “Peace [be] upon you” in two closely related languages, as traditionally used in two closely related faiths. Why, then, cannot such amity become the commonplace, hostility the deplored rarity, in relations between Jewish Israelis and Muslim Arabs both in and around Israel?

    Excerpt: Historically, I believe that what we face is yet another example of “Divide et impera”: Divide and rule. In this case, a predominantly Christian Western ruling elite, finding itself at the end of World War I in sufficient strength to shape events in the Middle East to its liking, has placed Israel where it is, not in spite of the animus that doing so has awakened between Jews and Muslims, but....

  • The 13-percent solution: Three maps, two models

    Description: It’s plain to see which choice Lieberman prefers, and he will surely not lack for allies. But this is not the nineteenth century: Thanks in part to WikiLeaks and a renaissance of investigative journalism, the Zionists’ intent and deeds are known to the world. And nearly six million Palestinians will not be destroyed in silence.

    Excerpt: As it happens, such segregation of populations within a country is not unprecedented. There are two such schemes that stand out historically: the US’ reservation system for Native Americans, and the Bantustans of the former....

  • The price of impartiality

    Description: When Richard Goldstone (below) was a judge in his native South Africa, he was the kind of “judicial activist” who, if in a US court, could improve American jurisprudence by causing Antonin Scalia a fatal myocardial infarction; for he despised the system he was sworn to uphold, and used the power of his office to undermine it. Since, however, that system was Apartheid, most observers would call him an advocate for evenhanded justice — although this wouldn’t include the white Afrikaners who called him a traitor and threatened his life.

    Excerpt: There is a certain irony in Goldstone’s experience, for when he was named to head the investigation, leaders in Gaza were skeptical, feeling that because he was Jewish, he would tend to be biased in favor of Israel. Then, after his appointment, Israel objected because he was working with the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and Israel argued that the UNHRC was....

  • Under cover of distraction?

    Description: Perhaps it was pre-emptive: As the people of Egypt thronged Tahrir Square and drove from power a kleptoplutocratic tyrant who had ruled them with a leaden fist for three decades, Israel may have thought it necessary to issue a practical “warning” to the Palestinians of Gaza, to the effect that they had better not celebrate what many perceive as a breakthrough in the Middle Eastern status quo of potential help to them in seeking liberation from Israeli domination. Or perhaps it....

    Excerpt: Meanwhile, Israel may soon face an uprising of its own, for it has instituted economic policies that are draining wealth from the lower and middle classes for the further enrichment of the upper — which should sound as familiar to Americans as to Egyptians — and may be approaching a political impasse in which....

( Foreign Relations
  • Predictable fears in Israel

    Description: After decades in which Israel repeated as a sort of mantra that it would like nothing better than to find its Arab neighbors living under liberal democracies, that country finally finds itself facing the real possibility that the largest and strongest of those neighbors, Egypt, may soon oust its autocratic government and install precisely such a democracy. And Israel is terrified, not without cause.

    Excerpt: No later than September, then, the Mubarak sultanate will end in an election that observers expect to be clean, fair and open to all participants; this assumes Mubarak doesn’t accede to public loathing and depart sooner. And it is what will happen when this ophidian despot slithers aside that inspires fearful speculation in Israel and Washington, where grim-visaged commentators predict....

( Hasbara
  • Dangerous fantasy

    Description: One will meet with injustice, but there are two ways to respond to it: to adopt the motto, “Shit rolls downhill,” and pass on the injustice by tormenting someone else, or to redouble one’s determination to fight such injustice wherever one finds it.

    Excerpt: Of course, the real purpose of this cartoon is to threaten Iran with divine retribution. But Iran has never espoused genocide: Even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s widely reported advocation of “wip[ing] Israel off the map” referred to a desire to make it into a majority-Palestinian state, not to obliterate it; and even Ahmadinejad, for all his inferable prejudices, has never expressed hatred for all Jews, but merely for....

( History
  • Nothing new under Israel’s sun

    Description: Perhaps more cogent than anything in the article* that forms the basis of this review itself — although the article makes many valid observations, all based on the direct experience of the author and his family — is the following quotation from a famed Israeli leader, as quoted in the contentious comments following it.

    Excerpt: “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I don’t blame you because geography books no longer exist; not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibat; Kibbutz Sarid in....”

  • The death of a nation?

    Description: An-Nakba: The Catastrophe. So 15 May 1948 is commemorated among Palestinians. This was the day when Israeli forces — using blitzkrieg tactics to stun, terrorize and panic — overran and annexed the bulk of their land, driving an estimated 725,000 to 805,000 from their homes, bombing their villages and carrying on what historians have called ethnic cleansing on their way.

    Excerpt: Thus, Fateh and Israel must now consider their position anew, for now that Palestinians know to what extent the former has bargained away their rights, its authority will erode, and it may soon cease to rule. Beyond this: How firm is the grip of the Israeli government, and how long will it remain so? For as the decades pass without justice, the Palestinians will not forget, and their moribund dream may finally....”

(12.5.3): Lebanon

  • When embassies become command centers

    Description: ...[T]he diplomats will be free of embarrassment the day they cease conspiring against their host countries and other such dishonorable activities that can reasonably be expected to bring discredit upon them. After all, “They who do what they should not, must hear what they would not.” And from today, either WikiLeaks or some successor site will tell the world of what the diplomats are doing in their country’s name, so whether US diplomats are to be mortified or flattered by such disclosures depends entirely on whether they continue to do what they should not.

    Excerpt: Now, the leaks site has disclosed the role that the U.S. embassy in Beirut has played, for many years, in an ongoing attempt to fragment and destabilize Lebanon for the benefit of Israel. So deeply did the embassy interfere in Lebanon’s affairs that, in 1983, it functioned as a base for the Israeli faction in that nation’s ongoing civil war, and was deemed a valid....

(12.5.4): Saudi Arabia

  • “Let him who hath not sinned...”

    Description: The world over, ruling elites compel their people to live by one set of laws while they live by quite another. That this is prevalent in nominally pious Saudi Arabia is precisely what one might expect who has either known people in the West who originated there or in other countries with similarly sanctimonious official cultures, or has observed the behavior of people in the U.S. who come from the Bible Belt to attend conventions elsewhere....

    Excerpt: Even so, I hope ordinary Saudis will have a chance to review these cables and affirm for themselves the hypocrisy of their ruling family and its cronies. I’m sure most of them know or at least suspect this hidden reality, but this will make it far harder to dismiss such suspicions. I, for one, would not be sorry to see the Saudi royals face new....

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