I Deserve a Raise: Says Me.

The Local 1977 of the United Food and Commercial Workers is out to give recruitment to the cause of organized labour a real boost. It decided to convey to the public the image of dedicated, selfless, servants of labour who give only the best of themselves in the name of workers rights.

In your dreams.

Brian Williamson is the president of local 1977. He is considering retirement next year. He and his fellow labour leaders, Local 1977’s vice-president, Al Mclean, and secretary treasurer, Scott Penner, gave themselves huge raises recently. Mr Williamson now makes $118,300– more than Buzz Hargrove of the Canadian Auto Workers ($110,000). And, just in time for his possible retirement, the Executive Board voted to give each of them a leased car and 150% of his annual average salary over 3 years upon retirement.

There are about 6,500 members of Local 1977, representing about 46 Zehrs stores in Ontario. Workers contribute $6.75 a week to the union if they are part-time, or $8.05 if they are full-time. Employees make up to $14.50 an hour.

The Executive Board of the Local approved the raises, on the advice of a former National Director.

I support unions. I support workers rights. But these kind of shenanigans leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. It’s bad enough when city aldermen, mayors, or other politicians do it. It’s disgraceful when corporation presidents do it, especially after cutting jobs and reducing wages. But it really, really bites when union executives do it, especially when they employ the smarmy conceit of trying to make it look like it wasn’t their idea.

When the press inquired, they tried to tell the reporters that it was none of their business.

And the truth, as everyone should know, is that they would not have been reluctant to talk to reporters if there had been nothing to be ashamed of.

David Irving Holocaust Denier

Who is David Irving?

My nephew wrote an essay on the fire-bombing of Dresden by British forces during World War II and he cited David Irving as one of his sources. The name rang a bell, so I did quick search on the Internet. Sure enough–

David Irving believes that the Anne Frank Diary might be a forgery. He believes that the ovens at Auschwitz were built by the Poles after the war as a tourist attraction. His web site is filled with articles on “How Many Jews were in the KGB” and “How I Single-handedly Discovered the Goebbels Diaries”. He believes that Hitler didn’t know about the extermination of the Jews until 1943 (though he recently admitted he might have to revise that estimate in the light of Goebbels’ diaries).

Irving has been criticized for many people for holding rather extreme Holocaust revisionist views. Whenever these people try to prevent or discourage publication of his articles or books, he screams hysterically about free speech and how people are trying to destroy him politically rather than address “the truth”. Then he turns around and sues people who claim that he stinks as a historian.

It reminds me of people who say that tolerant people are just as intolerant as intolerant people because they are intolerant of intolerance. Seriously. I’ve heard Christians say this about liberals and libertarians.

The argument, of course, is sophistry at it’s lowest. It’s semantics. Actually, it’s just plain stupid. It perfectly consistent for a liberal to be intolerant of intolerance because that’s exactly the point. If you believe in tolerance, of course you’re going to oppose those who wish to advocate political or social actions that have the effect of persecuting people for their religious, moral, or political beliefs.

It reminds me of when people used to argue that you couldn’t fight for justice for the poor unless you personally renounced all your possessions. No, that’s not the point. The point is to fight for an economic system that distributes wealth more fairly, not for a system that distributes poverty more fairly.

The point is not to make everyone poor, but to make everyone moderately rich.

Anyway, David Irving is a strange bird. He does have a reputation for good basic historical research, but he holds some of the most absurd beliefs about history you can imagine. Reading his website, on the holocaust, is like entering an altered consciousness.

You have to be somewhat fearless about coming back out and reclaiming your own common sense. In terms of historical judgment, it doesn’t really matter a great deal if Hitler killed 5 million, 6 million, or 3 million. Why does Irving think the important thing is to “balance” our views of Nazi Germany. Does he think there are some redemptive elements there?

The point is that exterminating people is at the heart of Nazism and all evil ideologies, and the important thing about David Irving is that he has dedicated the latter part of his life to trying to persuade you and I to think more kindly of Adolph Hitler. Why? Because, I suspect, he believes that the real evil is communism and moral relativism.

Lottery Athletes

There are about thirty million young boys in the United States who would like to become professional basketball, baseball, or football players. Their heroes are Michael Jordan, Ken Griffey Jr., O. J. Simpson.

Well, scratch Simpson.

For middle and upper class children, it is a dream that can only be sustained with continuous development and tangible, immediate rewards. Most of these kids will sensibly give up the dream before they get to college. They know that their odds are not really very good. They know that the amount of work and dedication required is astronomical, when weighed in proportion to the chances of success, of becoming a professional athlete.

For those other children… they will try to be the best player on their team. If they attain that goal, they will try to be the best in their league. If, through some miracle, they reach that plateau, the best in the city. The best in the region. The best in the state.   Maybe even the best in the country.

The thing is that even if you are the best in the region, and even if you are drafted #1 by a professional sports team, your odds of making it are still not all that great. For reasons that no one seems very clear about, the percentage of high draft choices who actually become stars is not very great. You would be surprised. Look at a list of the top five draft choices for Major League Baseball for each of the last ten years. Recognize any names? A few, yes. But who are all these other guys, and what are they doing now? Selling cars? Installing aluminum siding? Dealing dope?

For many poor kids, a career as a professional athlete is their only possible escape from poverty and powerlessness. Professional sports. Or drugs.

If you believe television, the movies, radio, books, magazines, and pretty well every other tin-voiced conduit of illusions in our society, the way you make to the major leagues, the big time, the Olympics, the “show”, is through very, very hard work and determination. The coaches tell you this: they want their players to work hard at practices. The players tell you this: they want you to think that they earn millions of dollars not just because they are talented but also because they are virtuous. The Owners of the teams tell you this: they want you to believe that paying a high school dropout $20 million a year is a good “investment”. The media tells you this: because it is what you want to believe.

Is this one of the great deceptions of our time?

How many athletes, do you suppose, start out with merely average talent, and then improve to the level of play required to become a professional?

Not many. Consider that the best player in an averaged size town– the best of all the kids his age in that town– is not likely to make it. Not likely at all. How does the best kid in Peoria stack up against the best kid in Brooklyn? He doesn’t have a chance, unless he is truly remarkable.

Yet we continue to pedal this illusion that it is hard work and determination that makes the difference between great athletes and merely good athletes. But we don’t even believe it ourselves. Every high school coach has a well-stocked bench of average kids under the illusion that they will get playing time if they “stick it out”. They won’t. Only the most talented will play, at least in the games that matter. The coach knows this even as he spews his nonsense about “hard work and determination”.

The situation is analogous to the world of business. Successful entrepreneurs want you to believe that they got rich through hard work and determination, and through taking “risks” with their capital. But if you investigate further, you will find that most of these successful entrepreneurs had money to begin with. And that is the simplest and truest rule of success in our society: to those with much, more shall be given.

The Exorcist

“The Exorcist”, one of the most chilling, horrifying films ever made, has been re-released by Warner Brothers 27 years after it’s initial release stirred controversy and fascination.

There a few things you should know about “The Exorcist”, though you may not want to.

Now, when I say “you may not want to”, you probably think I’m going to tell you that demons are real and demon possession is a growing problem in our society so you better stay away from Ouija boards and stop listening to Marilyn Manson or AC/DC, backwards and forwards.

Actually, the truth is that people love these stories. They love them because something in us wants to believe that there are demons out there. The public is endlessly fascinated by villains, serial killers, poltergeists, ritual Satanic abusers, and so on. If you try to convince someone that there really isn’t as much evil out there as they think there is, they are frequently disappointed or alarmed.

Actually, the truth is that there really is a lot of evil out there. But, as Bob Dylan once observed, “the evil I see wears a cloak of decency”. Sure, there are rapists and pimps and pushers and thugs. But there are also executives and politicians and kings. Who is responsible for most of the misery in the world? How many people have died in this century, unnecessarily, as the result of war and starvation? What makes us think that because a man wears a suit and works in a gleaming office tower and drives in a limousine– what makes us think this man or woman is not “evil”, when they sometimes make decisions or policies that result in human catastrophes?

It isn’t even close.

But something in us prefers to see evil embodied in specific persons, whom we can ritually exorcise (pardon the expression) from our lives. Why? Because, at the most fundamental level, these stories allow us to believe that evil is not us.

Anyway, back to The Exorcist:

1. William Peter Blatty, the author of the book, The Exorcist, was brought up in a Catholic household and once considered joining the priesthood.

2. The novel was allegedly based on a “true story”, and the movie, of course, was based on the novel. Several priests served as “consultants” to William Friedkin, director of the movie. Now, when it comes to Hollywood, we all know what a “true story” is and the worthlessness of “consultants”. This particular “true story” concerns a 14-year-old boy who was possessed by a demon which was exorcised by several Roman Catholic priests. These events took place in 1949 in Mount Rainier, Maryland– so we are told–and were reported in various newspapers including the Washington Post. According to some researchers, the boy in question, the real boy, upon whom the Exorcist is based, had some serious emotional problems long before the possession episode. William F. Bodern, a Jesuit, was the officiating priest at the exorcism.

The boy is alive and well and has been located. He refuses to talk about the incident.

3. The boy’s grandmother was, in modern parlance, a religious fanatic, fascinated with all things cultic and spiritual, and she passed on this fascination to the boy. So those of you looking for a more naturalistic, psychosomatic explanation don’t have to look too far. Add to this the fact that Blatty’s own mother was very “spiritual” and you might begin to get the picture. Blatty also attended a Jesuit High School. He served time in the U.S. Air Force. His parents moved around a lot while he was growing up.

4. People attach great weight to the “true story” business. In fact, William Peter Blatty has not kept a secret of the fact that he made up most of the details in the novel and the movie. On the other hand, at times he does sound as if he sees himself as a journalist, rather than a writer of fiction. This doesn’t keep most people from believing that some demon-possessed child somewhere did the things shown in the movie.

Two interesting interpretations of the movie: a) a allegory of dominant, controlling males attempting to restore innocence to a adolescent female whose emerging sexuality threatens them, b) an allegory of teenage rebellion, plain and simple. Neither interpretation is really interesting. They don’t survive the dynamics of the story itself.

5. In the movie, the words “help me” appear on Regan’s body, in broken letters, as if punched there from within. You might draw the logical conclusion that it is the spirit of Regan, inside the body, begging to be relieved of the presence of demons. I thought it was the dumbest thing in the movie. What is the supposed explanation for this? Obviously, Regan before possession was not capable of stenciling words onto the surface of her stomach through sheer will-power.  Was a little Regan inside her stomach doing it?

Oh, come on– it was downright hokey.

6. The British Board of Censors banned the film for 15 years after it’s release. I’m told the ban was lifted in 1999, which is strange, since the film was released in 1973. What was it doing between 1973 and 1984? Perhaps what they banned was the video release. [Do you live in a free, democratic society? Then why does the government tell you which films you are allowed to watch?]*

7. It won Oscars for best sound and adapted screenplay. Blatty initially wanted to use well-known actors, including Paul Newman, in the film, but later decided to use relative unknowns, including Jason Miller, Ellen Burstyn, and Max Von Sydow. This was a very, very smart decision: the film is much more forceful and convincing.

8. Aside from the special effects and the horror elements, the film is actually a good drama. In some ways, the story of Father Karras’ mother was more horrifying than the demon possession.

How does nonsense spread? Very easily. William Peter Blatty supplied the initial myth– that the movie bore some kind of substantive relationship to real events in Mount Rainier in 1949. This, as it turns out, is utterly false, other than the fact that a boy appeared to suffer from convulsions and some Roman Catholic priests performed what they called an “exorcism”. The boy’s convulsions eventually subsided, and at least one of the priests involved in the exorcism acknowledges that nothing really weird happened. But most news stories simply quote Blatty, and cite other books that were dependent on the same sources, and perpetuate the myth. Why? Because people love the story. They are fascinated by it. It’s a heck of a lot more exciting than mental illness.

You have to know this: Blatty was a lightweight Hollywood comedy writer before he turned out “The Exorcist”. Since then, he’s taken pains to try to establish his credentials as a “deep”, serious author. If you’ve only seen “The Exorcist” you might buy it, because, like I said, the drama is exceptional.

But what you are really seeing is William Friedkin’s wonderful direction and the superb acting of Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Max VonSydow, and Linda Blair.

There are four full-time exorcists in the Archdiocese of New York, appointed by Cardinal O’Connor. The Pope himself has attempted three exorcisms (and failed). In an average year, according to Time Magazine, they investigate 350 cases and conduct 10-15 exorcisms. They only perform exorcisms after all possible “natural” causes of the phenomenon have been ruled out. Mind you, this judgment of what is “natural” and what might not be is being made by someone who believes that people occasionally can be occupied by sentient evil beings.

Added 2011-03

The “director’s cut” of the movie proved that Directors should not always get final cut. Actually, I’m sure Friedkin knew that the scenes “restored” to the “director’s cut” deserved to be cut.  The scene of Regan spider-walking down the stairs upside down is downright ridiculous.

The Curious and Unfortunate Fate of Wen Ho Lee.

Without the big bad Russians to kick around any more, what is the U.S. military-industrial establishment to do? There must be somebody out there scary enough to drum up another $300 billion or so for preposterous defense schemes. Cuba? Pretty scary, you must admit, but with Castro getting a little long in the tooth and a population of only about 4 million of which 3.999 million are more interested in baseball and mariachi bands, there’s not much to muster there.

Well, hey, you don’t have to look too far. There’s the red devil himself, China, just sitting there with about two billion people, and a communist government.

Of course, China hasn’t even been able to scare Taiwan into submission yet, so first you’ve got to puff them up a little. What if they had nuclear bombs? Oh dear! Oh my! The Chinese with nuclear weapons! But how did they get nuclear weapons? They already had them? They must have stolen them from us! They must have been spying on us. They probably have spies everywhere. Just look around you. Just look at those scientists working at the Los Alamos Nuclear Research Laboratory. Hey… look at that guy....

This week, a U.S. District Judge, James Parker, apologized to Wen Ho Lee for the idiotic persecution of the 60-year-old Taiwan-born scientist for allegedly selling nuclear secrets to the Chinese. Attorney General Janet Reno– possibly the worst attorney general in the recent history of the United States– refused to say she was sorry. She said, in essence, that if only Mr. Lee had cooperated as he should have he never would have been in so much trouble. How nice to know that the chief law enforcement officer of the United States has officially pronounced that innocent citizens have no need to fear incarceration as long as they “cooperate”.

Not much is known any more about what really happened to start this mess, but it is clear that there was never any significant reason to believe that Lee had sold vital nuclear secrets to the Chinese. But prosecutors claimed that Lee had downloaded thousands of megabytes of information about nuclear weapons onto his laptop computer without permission. They figured he was ready to pack them all off to China.

Lee, and others who work in the field, immediately insisted that though downloading the files was technically against the rules at the Los Alamos Research Laboratory, “everybody did it”. Everybody did it, but not everybody looked Chinese.

Wen Ho Lee was the victim of a right-wing paranoid fantasy. Prosecutors and politicians chose Lee to bear the brunt of their irrational hysteria that somehow the Chinese were getting ready to take over the world. Chances are that many of the individuals involved in persecuting Mr. Lee actually thought he was born Chinese. After all, he had slanty eyes, didn’t he? I’d love to be able to lay this exclusively at the feet of the Republicans but the truth is that high officials at the Department of Energy and the Executive– eager to be more paranoid than thou when it came to military security– were at least equally responsible. Clinton, playing the centrist, did nothing to help Lee even though most sane observers were very quick to point out the absurdities in the prosecution’s case. Al Gore hasn’t said a single decent, respectable thing about the case. Bush would like to have you believe that he is so smart that all spies will be caught under his administration.

The Republicans, meanwhile, after encouraging the prosecution with their paranoid hysteria, are now trying to politicize the case by demanding an inquiry into the investigation!

Lee was held for 278 days in solitary confinement after being charged with 59 counts of espionage. The prosecution’s case fell apart when an FBI official named Robert Messemer admitted that he had distorted an interview he had with Lee. In other words, he lied— to a judge– about Lee’s responses to questions he had asked him before last December.

But even before Messemer’s confessions, reputable experts and analysts were insisting that none of the “secrets” Mr. Lee is alleged to have copied to his laptop computer were actually “secret”. In fact, virtually all of the information was already available in trade documents and on the internet.

As usual, grossly incompetent lawyers know how to protect themselves. They argue that Lee probably really is guilty, but they just can’t prove it. So while asserting, on the one hand, that he really did intend to sell “the crown jewels” of U.S. nuclear research to some other country– a capital offense– they admit that they have such a weak case that they will release him after time served already.

There is an ugly dynamic here. The prosecutors, possibly dimly aware of looking like idiots, are now desperate for any kind of vindication, no matter how meager. They got it with this perverse deal with Lee: he pleads guilty to a very minor charge, and they call off the hounds. This is called bullying, harassment, extortion, when it is performed by anyone but the police or the government or lawyers.

You can’t have it both ways. Either he’s guilty and you’re incompetent and you bungled the investigation, or he’s innocent and you are cold-blooded liars, as well as incompetent.

Clinton should do the right thing for a change. All the persons involved in persecuting Mr. Lee should be summarily dismissed. Mr. Lee’s good name should be cleared and he should be restored to his position at Los Alamos.

Last minute note: I just read that President Clinton did at least part of the right thing. He has chastised the Department of Justice for the way they handled the investigation and indicated that he believes Mr. Lee’s rights were violated. Meanwhile, Attorney-General Janet Reno continues to insist her department did nothing wrong. But then, Janet Reno’s initial claim to fame (and stepping stone into a political career) came from the dubious prosecution of a Satanic Ritual Abuse case in Florida in the 1980’s. And we all know what THAT was about….

More on Janet Reno’s colourful past.


I have followed, with some amusement, the misadventures of the American legal system over the insidious, corrupting, devilish program Napster.

Napster allows users to “kidnapster” music files from other users on the Internet running the same application. You log on and type in a search string and the Napster finds MP3 files on other users’ computers and allows you to download them onto your computer and listen to them.

Well, right is right and wrong is wrong. Is it wrong to “steal” music over the internet? Yes. Is it wrong to rip off young artists? Yes– but that’s what the music industry does better than a million internet users. Is the current system of distribution of music unjust, unfair, and grossly inefficient? Yes. It will die of it’s own contradictions.

I watched the debate and the court proceedings with amusement because the judge that tried to shut down Napster made a ruling that is ridiculous and will only bring scorn and ridicule to the legal process.

Here’s why:

1. Though shutting down the Napster site will temporarily stop people from using Napster to download MP3 files, there are dozens of other programs that do the same thing. When the Napster site was temporarily shut down last month, the Gnutella site had so many hits that it too went down. Shutting down Napster will have almost no effect on the distribution of music over the internet.

2. Sony has announced that it will sell music over the internet for $2.98 per cut. This is a bad joke. This is obscene. It is more obscene than millions of users sharing their music over the internet without paying the artist. This amount is so ridiculously high that it will only serve to increase the scorn and hatred of the music industry out there among computer hackers. If the music industry is going to sell music over the internet, the price is going to have to be about ten cents a cut. At this price, the music industry will– believe me– still make piles of money, because they will sell 100 times as much music as they currently sell.

3. The other programs that do the same thing as Napster don’t do it in the same way. Napster still requires a “server” which a judge could order shut down. Other programs, however, function in a more decentralized way. It may be impossible to shut down these systems by shutting down a small number of servers. A zealous judge would have to shut down everybody– which means it won’t happen.

4. Even if Napster, and Gnutella, and all the other programs succeed and prevail, the music industry will survive, and it will continue to sell music through music stores. In the first place, MP3 is not really a very good music format. The new generation of DVD’s will provide better quality sound and there will always be a market for disks. In the second place, even though it has long been possible to record music off the radio and television programs off the TV, the markets for CD’s and video tapes continues to grow. A lot of people just want to get the disk or tape in their hands.

5. The music industry will cease to have a cooperative monopoly (something the banks and oil companies already have) over the sales and distribution of music. Anyone can get on the internet and distribute and promote his or her own work.

6. Video is next. The fact that we cannot, at the present time, watch television programs when we want to, rather than when they are scheduled is, when you think about it, absurd. If Monty Python is on at 2:00 a.m. and I want to watch it, and the television station showing it wants me to watch it, why shouldn’t I be able to move that program to a day and time when it would be convenient for me to watch it? Furthermore, why can’t I watch programs that aren’t scheduled whenever I want to? Want that Dick Van Dyke episode from 1964? The news footage of the Munich Olympics hostage crisis? The Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan? Someone should have it on file somewhere. If the television industry was smart– and I don’t think they are– they would put up web sites right now and announce plans to make the entire back-catalog of television programs available as soon as it is practically possible to make them downloadable. They would publish the specs for creating the compression algorithms necessary, and make it freely available to all.

Yes, I know, we already have the means with which to “time shift” television programs: the VCR. However, even after twenty-five years of development, most people still don’t use it regularly to tape programs they would otherwise miss. What do they use it for? To watch pre-recorded tapes rented, at outlandish prices, from a video store.

That should teach us something. For one thing, it indicates that there will continue to be a market for CD’s and video tapes in spite of new medias. For another, it indicates that a large number of people will never learn to master some new technologies.

Gorilla Bars

When the children of Toronto came to school this September, a little surprise was waiting for them. In their playgrounds, instead of monkey bars, slides, and jungle gyms, they found… nothing.

Yes, the Toronto School Board decided to rip out 172 sets of playground equipment and take them away. Are they buying new equipment? No. They don’t have enough money to do that. It will cost about $27 million to replace them. That’s right: $27 MILLION.

What happened? Did a lot of parents complain about children getting injured on the equipment? No. Did someone die? No. Did the insurance premiums suddenly go up? No.

What happened was this. An inspector from Ottawa had created a report that laid out some guidelines for new playground equipment, with the laudable goal of ensuring that they would be as safe as possible. The new guidelines were better than the old guidelines, of course. Some clever people have found ways to build playground equipment that is safer than ever before.

The Toronto School Board, having received their new guidelines, hired an inspector from a private service to check all of their playground equipment to see if they conformed with the new guidelines. They did not, of course. The old playground equipment is, well, old.

As it turns out, the old playground equipment was not very bad at all. Out of the hundreds of thousands of children who had played on them, no one had ever been killed, nor, apparently, were there many serious injuries. In fact, more children are injured on the paved areas of the playground and the yard than on the playground equipment.

Still, no cost is too high when it comes to children’s safety. Except for the cost of common sense and rationality. The Toronto School Board ordered 172 sets of old playground equipment removed, on the off chance that someone, some day, might get hurt really bad. Not including the children who now play on the paved areas of the playground.

The head of the school board defends this decision. “No cost is too high.” Well, then, why not hire individual bodyguards to follow every child around all day to make sure the child never gets hurt? But that would be ridiculous. Why would it be ridiculous? Because it would cost too much. It would be too expensive. It would be unreasonable. The cost would be too high. There you go.

The head of the school board is a liar.

Now the School Board is going to go to the parents– whose opinions about removing the equipment they did not seek– and ask for donations to pay for new equipment.

The irony is that the man who was in charge of the Toronto School Board’s equipment originally has stated that the old equipment was fine. But of course, they didn’t hire him to do the inspections– they hired a consultant. From an outside firm. Just so someone on the school board could cover her ass.

He even said that when it was first installed, the number of reportable “incidents” went down, because, with the jungle-gyms to occupy them, fewer children got into trouble rough-housing or fighting in the school yard.

Sounds like the guy has some sense.

Not a Single Jew

“… the men who ran the studios had decided upon such a stringent policy of ethnic cleansing that throughout the whole of the Second World War, the words ‘Jewish’ and ‘Jew’ appeared in not a single film set in the States (with the exception, it pleases me to say, of the Epstein Boys’ Mr. Skeffington).” Leslie Epstein, Harpers, September 2000

That’s an amazing fact. Not a single film, except one. Of all the films that presented stories of inspiration and information, motivation, rationalization, and propaganda, not a single one, really, ever mentioned the Jews by name. Germany was our enemy because they started it, because they tried to rule the world, because they were the aggressors, and because they were not democratic. We had to stop them.

And, oh yes, they killed some Jews.

There were claims after the war, of course, that the West didn’t really know that the holocaust was happening until they rolled into the camps with their tanks and found the ovens. Now we know that Western governments, at least, knew what was going on. We know that because we know that the United States refused to bomb the train tracks leading to Auschwitz because, they said, they were beyond their bomber range. But then they went and bombed a factory nearby instead.

Under the Communists, Poland tried to turn the Auschwitz Memorial into propaganda by emphasizing that communists were killed there. Then Poland shook itself free of its Communist shackles. The Roman Catholic Church is trying very hard to restore it’s own power and authority in Poland. And now it has appropriated, or tried to appropriate, Auschwitz. The memorial emphasizes the deaths of Christian Poles who resisted Hitler.

The story of World War II is entirely different without the Jews. With the Jews, our children can be taught that the West was noble and righteous and heroically fought to stop the greatest act of inhumanity of the millennium. Without the Jews, World War II was just about power, like all the wars before it. England, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal– they had all tried to build empires. The difference was that Germany was strong enough to try to absorb England, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy into its own empire of empires.

The Americans look relatively innocent. They merely slaughtered the Indians and took Texas away from Mexico.

Drug War Sponsors

The United States is going to give the government of Columbia $1.5 billion of aid in their war against drugs.

Now, on the surface, this might sound to you like a bad idea. You don’t think some of Columbia’s military and political leaders might get the idea that the more drugs Columbia supplies to the United States, the more money they are going to get for new equipment, training, and fringe benefits, do you? Or do you think that their reputation for honesty, integrity, and diligence is such that after a few years of aid, they will announce to the world that the program has been a success and therefore no more American money is needed?

It is pretty well documented that the small successes early on in the war against drugs contributed to the over-all failure of the same war. When the FBI and other government agencies cracked down on the most visible agents of drug trafficking in the early 1980’s, the prices of many of these drugs went soaring, which caused a huge number of new sellers to appear. Furthermore, the really smart dealers went deeper underground to avoid detection and became ever more entrenched and sophisticated, and almost impossible to stamp out. The result is that drugs are now far more profitable and widely available than ever before.

Isn’t that kind of shocking? If a private business set out to accomplish something that cost hundreds of billions of dollars over more than twenty years, it would probably have the good sense to sit down at some point and try to answer the question of whether it was moving closer or farther from it’s goal. If it found that, after twenty years, it was farther away from its goal than ever before, I tend to think they would stop wasting their money and come up with a new plan.

But this is a government plan of course. Ironically, the very people who most decry government waste in other areas of the economy– conservatives and Republicans– are the most enthusiastic about spending a few hundred billion more on the same self-defeating program.

And now they are pouring $1.5 billion into a corrupt Columbian government to ensure that even worse results can be obtained. You see, when the Columbian army is not busy stamping out drug dealers, or fighting an entrenched guerrilla movement, it tends to spend a lot of time and effort assassinating human rights activists and peasants.

Nice to know that now they will be able to violate human rights with state of the art equipment.

Gush Bore: The 2000 Election

The Difference Between Al Gore and George Bush Jr….

As everybody seems to know, this election is about purity, innocence, and fidelity. God knows, we could have 15% unemployment, a –4% growth in GDP, riots in the streets, and war in the Middle East, but what we really care about is whether the President loves his wife.

So Al Gore kisses Tipper passionately on stage at the Democratic National Convention. The steam hissed from both their ears as the astounded press corp dropped their pens and microphones and gasped.

Clever, don’t you think. Instead of saying, “I will never screw around with any interns, no matter how doe-eyed and lovely and naïve”, which sounds like, “No, I don’t still beat my wife”, Al Gore plants a passionate kiss on his wife. Message: hey, I don’t need to fool around. I’m passionate about my wife.

Well, the Republicans could not let that stand, by golly, no. They had to be equally subtle, equally insidious. So they leak this story about George Bush Jr. dealing with a flirtatious staff member during his father’s 1988 presidential campaign. It seems that the stalwart George Bush Jr. got sick and tired of all this flirtation so he just marched right up to this woman and told her off, right then and there. When another staff member remonstrated with him about treating a loyal staff member so harshly, George Junior barked out, “Good. I’m a married man!”

There. This proves that George Bush Jr. is just as honorable and faithful as Al Gore.

Maybe this is a good illustration of the difference between the two candidates. Gore believes that marriage is a good thing because you get to spend your whole life with a beautiful sexy person that you really care about. Bush believes that marriage is a good thing because the Bible darn well tells us that it is and you just better get that straight.

Now I understand.

Well, I thought I did. The trouble is… can you tell me which candidate supports which position on any of the following issues?

  • Military build up
  • Less regulation and government intervention
  • Lower taxes
  • Capital punishment
  • Spending billions on the war on drugs
  • Persuading Hollywood—with logic instead of laws—to tone down the sex and violence
  • Improving education
  • Campaign Finance Reform
  • Welfare “Reform” (read “slash welfare programs”)

You’re right. They both have pretty well the same positions. So what’s the difference?

Well, in all fairness, Gore probably won’t set out to break all records for executions the way George Bush Jr. did in Texas. Of course that is at least partly because the Federal Government in the U.S. has very little responsibility for capital punishment: that is a state issue. But I can see Gore saying something like, “by golly, we ought to make sure these guys are guilty before we execute them,” whereas George Jr. would probably say something like, “if they weren’t guilty, what the heck were they doing on death row?”

Gore is probably a little more environment-friendly than Bush, but probably not very much. Like Bush, he tends to give business interests, including the oil and forestry industries, pretty well everything they want.

Gore claims to be serious about campaign finance reform. We have not seen a leader yet, however, who is dumb—or smart—enough to cut off the very branch upon which he is sitting. Will Gore bring in serious campaign finance reform and cut off the very moneyed interests that have sponsored his campaign to an unimaginable degree? Not very likely.

Gush/Bore. Take your choice.

Chromehorse.net officially endorses Ralph Nader for President.