Thursday, January 31, 2019

jan 31: How we won the war - and lost the peace...

I'm a little groggy today. I was up until 4 in the morning watching for developments in Venezuela. There weren't any - but here's a story you probably won't find in your local news outlet.

One of the greatest threats facing us is the increasing drift of all wealth into the pockets of the very, very wealthy. Every year these people take millions and even billions of dollars from us in a grand theft that amounts to trillions.

The very wealthy not only refuse to pay taxes. They also insist that government spending be directed to them. That's why the U.S. has such a huge defence budget. It has very little to do with defence -but everything to do with creating profits for war industries.

As well as this 'defence' spending, the U.S. also lavishes gifts of  billions of dollars in handouts to the very wealthy. In this, it resembles ancient Rome at its worst.  Meanwhile, there is nothing for the homeless; we have an education system frozen in the world of a century ago; the U.S., the richest nation in the world, cannot afford health care for its people....

It's bad enough the very wealthy don't pay any taxes. But it's worse that they demand handouts that put us deeper into debt every year.

This system is going to crash.

Why are our news media silent about this? Why are we paying for wars that benefit only the very wealthy? It is paraded in real life every day - a wealthy elite that is getting wealthier on our cheap labour and our taxes - and on the sweat labour of this world.

But don't worry. Mr. Trump says the experts don't know what they're talking about -  and Mr. Trump has a bachelor's degree in finance. So there.

The New York Times has a reputation for outstanding journalism. Sometimes it is outstanding. Sometimes it isn't. It's one of the papers that never mentioned the U.S. slaughter of some 200,000 Guatemalans - mostly Maya people, and a number of Christian missionaries.

What is the Afghnistan war all about? Forget the stories about the evil of the Taliban. (In fact. the Taliban was largely trained and equipped by the U.S. The 9/11 attack on New York was never the cause of that war. It was a war to 1. open up Afghanistan mining to American and British companies and create a base that could threaten Russia.

Your tax dollars at work - but not for you.

I knew Pierre Trudeau.  (No. I'm not a Liberal. But I did know Pierre Trudeau.)
And Justin is no Pierre. Pierre had the guts and the principles to support Castro.
Justin has neither guts nor principles.

In 1945, the American super-wealthy (the ones who don't pay taxes) saw their opportunity to make the whole world their empire. Britain, it's own empire destroyed, caved in to the new world order. But things have not gone well for the American empire.

China and Russia have emerged as challenges. Much of the Muslim world has risen to oppose U.S. dominance. (And the American military, despite its size and sophistication and its reliance on the massive killing of civilians and children, has been remarkably unsuccessful.)

And that has brought us to the edge of the war that nobody can win.

I don't think this made most  (any) of our major news media.

Another win for our slimier politicians and their slimy, billionaire friends.

As very young child of World War Two, I worshipped Churchill. As a teenager, I was captivated by his multi-volume history of Britain. Only later, as I studied history, would I realize what a thoroughly nasty bit of goods he was. He was a racist, a servant of the very rich, a man with nothing but contempt for that majority of the British people who weren't rich. He was also perhaps the inventor of the deliberate massacre of civilians.  (He ordered the bombing of civilian Kurd villages and town in 1920).

This summary of Churchill' character might seem overdone. Possibly it is. But not by much. It also has some big surprises in it.

Of course,  this is what the fuss over Venezuela is about. But that's not how it's been reported.

The U.S. doesn't give a damn about democracy or human rights It murders  children in Yemen. It's wars in places like Korea, Vietnam, Iraq - and the secret ones like Guatemala - it's invasion of Haiti - have not been campaigns to bring peace and joy. They have been mass murders - a total of at least 30 million people murdered - to give control of  resources to American capitalists. The U.S. has only one objective in Venezuela, stealing control of Venezuela's oil.

Of course, the U.S. is involved in torture in Yemen.  It's been involved for over a century - going back at least to its conquest of The Philliipines.

Of course. The U.S. is very tolerant of its Saudi friends.

We have, from the start, abandoned everything we said we were fighting World War Two for. (It would be nice if members of The Canadian Legion could put down their beers for a moment and think of that.)

I was a child the day the war ended in Europe. I remember the crowds. I remember the wild joy. I remember the promises. But I didn't  understand.
World War Two had not ended. It is still on. And we are the ones who allowed that to happen.

We have allowed capitalism to run wild. We have handed over the world to greed. Now, we have very little time to undo what we have done. And we are under the control of people who don't want to undo the evil we have turned loose.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Jan.29: plus que ca change, plus que c'est la meme chose.


This lead item is not from the news. It is two book reviews from the New York Times. But it gives a clearer picture than you will see in most of the news.

: The Past, Present, and Future of the United States

by Victor Bulmer-Thomas
Yale University Press, 459 pp., $32.50

Republic in Peril: American Empire and the Liberal Tradition

by David C. Hendrickson
Oxford University Press, 287 pp., $34.95
Library of CongressTheodore Roosevelt, center, during construction of the Panama Canal, 1906
It is hard to give up something you claim you never had. That is the difficulty Americans face with respect to their country’s empire. Since the era of Theodore Roosevelt, politicians, journalists, and even some historians have deployed euphemisms—“expansionism,” “the large policy,” “internationalism,” “global leadership”—to disguise America’s imperial ambitions. According to the exceptionalist creed embraced by both political parties and most of the press, imperialism was a European venture that involved seizing territories, extracting their resources, and dominating their (invariably dark-skinned) populations. Americans, we have been told, do things differently: they bestow self-determination on backward peoples who yearn for it. The refusal to acknowledge that Americans have pursued their own version of empire—with the same self-deceiving hubris as Europeans—makes it hard to see that the US empire might (like the others) have a limited lifespan. All empires eventually end, but maybe an exceptional force for global good could last forever—or so its champions seem to believe.
The refusal to contemplate the scaling back of empire shuts down what ought to be our most urgent foreign policy debate before it has even begun. That is why these two new books are so necessary, and so welcome: they are the most serious efforts since Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback series (2004–2010) to reopen the question of American empire by taking for granted that it exists. Victor Bulmer-Thomas’s Empire in Retreat maintains that America has harbored imperial ambitions since its founding, and argues that its focus shifted in the twentieth century, from acquiring territory to penetrating foreign countries and influencing their governments to support US strategic and economic interests. David Hendrickson’s Republic in Peril sees that shift as the result of a decisive embrace of interventionism, aimed at extending US power throughout the world.
Both authors think withdrawal from overextended military commitments could strengthen America. Bulmer-Thomas, a British diplomat and scholar, recommends it as a pragmatic adjustment to shrinking support for US empire at home and abroad. Hendrickson, a political scientist at Colorado College, provides a theoretical rationale for it, exploring the possibility of what he calls a new internationalism, based on respect for the sovereignty of other nations. Yet even as they catalog the many signs of imperial decline (economic, political, cultural), neither is sanguine that American policymakers can manage a graceful retreat.
Bulmer-Thomas begins by recounting the rise of the US territorial empire. He shows that America’s relationship with the land it acquired during westward expansion resembled the relationship between European countries and their colonies abroad. The United States, like European colonial powers, subjugated (and nearly exterminated) aboriginal populations; used military occupation as a buffer between white settlers and rebellious natives; and established only limited representative governments in their occupied territories. One resident of America’s territories complained that they were treated like “mere colonies, occupying much the same relation to the General Government as the colonies did to the British government prior to the Revolution.”
Most textbooks date the beginning of America’s overseas expansion to 1898, when it acquired sovereignty over Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines after the conclusion of its war with Spain. Yet as Bulmer-Thomas shows, the US empire went offshore much earlier. During the 1810s and 1820s, Americans carved out the state of Liberia in West Africa, allegedly as a refuge for free American blacks; the country in fact functioned as an American colony and later as a protectorate of the Firestone Rubber Company. The US established an imperial presence in East Asia as early as 1844, when the Treaty of Wanghia gave it the same privileged access to Chinese ports as the British Empire, and went on to acquire dozens of “guano islands” in the Pacific, where abundant bird droppings provided a rich source of fertilizer.
During the 1890s, the American zeal for distant acquisitions slipped into high gear, as politicians realized they were arriving late to the imperial game. Led by Theodore Roosevelt and other advocates of expansion, they sought land through annexation and collaboration with American business interests (Hawaii) as well as through war with Spain. These acquisitions began as additions to the territorial empire but gradually acquired a more ambiguous character. They came to form the foundation of what Bulmer-Thomas calls America’s “semi-global empire,” built not on territorial acquisition but on the maintenance of client states and various other forms of international interference, including military bases that supported occasional armed interventions in local conflicts and multinational corporations run mostly by Americans.
The Philippines offers a case in point of America’s nonterritorial form of empire. The US declared war on Spain in 1898 with the avowed intention of ending Spanish rule in Cuba, but even before the declaration President William McKinley had dispatched the US Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey to Hong Kong in preparation for an assault on the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. As soon as war was declared, Dewey moved quickly and crushed the Spanish forces. Their surrender emboldened the Filipino rebels, who erroneously assumed that the US had arrived to liberate them from their Spanish oppressors. The US military quickly disabused them of that delusion by embarking on a ferocious counterinsurgency campaign, which lasted for years and included the systematic torture and slaughter of Filipinos. As many as 250,000 died, but the US imperialists never doubted the sanctity of their cause. “Nothing can be more preposterous than the proposition that these men were entitled to receive from us sovereignty over the entire country which we were invading,” Secretary of War Elihu Root said in 1900 about the Filipino rebels. “As well the friendly Indians, who have helped us in our Indian wars, might have claimed the sovereignty of the West.”
Statehood was never considered during the debate over the Philippines: the only question was whether to establish a naval base at Manila and give the islands back to the Spanish or to annex the entire archipelago. The imperialists won the argument, and after the insurgents were finally suppressed the Philippines became a colony, from which investors in sugar, hemp, tobacco, and coconut oil could gain privileged access to US markets and Filipinos could emigrate to America in search of jobs. By the 1930s, congressional opposition to cheap exports as well as to cheap (and nonwhite) labor created support for Philippine independence, which was finally achieved in 1946. But it came with so many restrictions on trade and so much preferential treatment for American investors—not to mention continued maintenance of US military bases—that “it would be more accurate to describe the Philippines as becoming a US protectorate,” Bulmer-Thomas writes. “Thus, the end of colonialism in the Philippines did not mean the end of US imperial control.”
A similar pattern of indirect imperial control also applied to Central America and the Caribbean. The US dominated that region during the twentieth century through colonies (Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Panama Canal Zone), but more broadly by using its economic influence to interfere in domestic politics and maintain governments that would faithfully serve American interests (as was the case in Cuba until 1959), or by establishing asymmetrical bilateral treaties and customs receiverships—the collection of customs duties by US officials, who then used the money to pay off the debt service owed on American loans. This arrangement survived in the Dominican Republic until 1942 and in Haiti until 1947.
Military interventions underwrote economic domination. Sometimes this involved sending in the US Marines and leaving them in place for decades, as in Haiti from 1915 to 1934. Sometimes it required using military force to crush a rebellion and arranging for the emergence of a cooperative dictator, such as Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, whose brutalities the Americans tolerated as long as he respected US strategic interests in the region. This he did for thirty years, until his attempt in 1960 to overthrow the Venezuelan government cost him US support. Sensing an opportunity, his opponents assassinated him. But the US was still committed to maintaining the imperial relationship, and President Lyndon Johnson sent in the Marines in 1965 to prevent the left-of-center president Juan Bosch (who had been ousted by a military coup) from returning to power.
Johnson’s intervention recalled the conflicts of the early twentieth century, but during World War II and the cold war, US imperial strategies had begun to shift. As the USSR consolidated its power, the US scaled back its pursuit of territory abroad. Instead, it extended its imperial reach through the development of international institutions that would serve its interests but could not also be used against it. At Bretton Woods in 1944, the US initiated the creation of the IMF and the World Bank. Both institutions are headquartered in Washington, and the president of the World Bank has always been an American, by custom if not fiat.
The Point Four Program, drawn from Harry Truman’s inaugural address in 1949, linked the World Bank to the struggle with the Soviet Union for influence in the developing world, where the bank would make loans, with many political conditions attached, to governments and state-owned enterprises (later privately owned ones as well). The requirement that Congress approve these loans ensured that they would reflect what the US government considered its national interest. The United Nations, too, began as an American-dominated institution, though as its membership grew it became progressively harder for the US to control. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, and bilateral treaties worldwide also served American policy under the guise of “collective security” against the Soviet threat.
All these arrangements were fortified by the principle articulated in the Truman Doctrine of 1947—that aggression must be stopped everywhere. Such a commitment “assumes that foreign conflicts feature evil aggressors and innocent victims,” as Hendrickson writes. This unexamined assumption was endorsed and promoted by leaders from both political parties, who helped sustain an atmosphere of perpetual moral crisis during the cold war. The US, working through the CIA, helped to overthrow elected left-leaning governments in Iran, Guatemala, Congo, Brazil, and Chile. Interventions anywhere could always be rationalized as counterinterventions against the allegedly omnipresent Soviet threat.
When the cold war ended, the US’s geopolitical rationale for military interventionism—the need to contain communism—swiftly disappeared, as the country found itself in the heady position of being the world’s sole superpower. This was what is now viewed, with some nostalgia, as the unipolar moment. And yet even in the absence of its longtime ideological rival, the United States continued to conduct foreign policy with the same moral fervor that had informed its actions in the cold war, and with the same confidence that it was a force for global good.
Under the presidency of Bill Clinton, much of official Washington began to believe “that US empire would best be served by the promotion of democracy abroad—or at least an American version of democracy—on the grounds that US security, free market economies and democracies are mutually reenforcing,” as Bulmer-Thomas writes. The rationale for democracy promotion, in the words of Clinton’s first National Security Strategy, was that “democratic states are less likely to threaten our interests and more likely to cooperate with the US to meet security threats and promote sustainable development.” This formulation could work in some circumstances, but not all. Other nations could have good reasons to see democracy promotion as a form of aggression, as Russia did when Clinton sought to expand NATO eastward despite the promises made by his predecessors in the first Bush administration and the warnings of many seasoned diplomats, led by George Kennan.
Establishing “US hegemony across the globe,” in Bulmer-Thomas’s words, was not only about promoting democracy abroad but also about maintaining military supremacy everywhere. In 2000, despite cuts in personnel and the closure of many US bases, the Defense Department committed itself to the pursuit of “full spectrum dominance.” This goal, outlined in Joint Vision 2020, the Department of Defense’s blueprint for the future, meant the worldwide control of land, sea, air, and space, including cyberspace.
The triumphalist mood following the end of the cold war also emboldened neoconservative ideologues. Two of them, William Kristol and Robert Kagan, founded the Project for the New American Century in 1997. Its “Statement of Principles” pledged to “rally support for American global leadership” through “a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.” This was nothing if not an exceptionalist, even unilateralist creed, based on faith in the uniqueness of America’s position as a global leader. It evoked Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s claim that the US was “the indispensable nation.”
The neoconservatives found their president in George W. Bush. Even before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bush began to implement neoconservative policies, withdrawing from international organizations and agreements—including (in June 2002) the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia. This decision, according to Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution and other critics at the time, signaled a swerve in US nuclear strategy from deterrence to “war-fighting.”
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon provided a new enemy, international terrorism, that was even more shadowy and elusive than international communism had been. Widespread panic among Americans and their allies was taken (especially in the US) to justify a permanent state of emergency, with damaging consequences for civil liberties and public debate at home, as well as for the many thousands of civilians who would become “collateral damage” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After September 11, new rationales for military intervention abroad emerged—not only preventative war against terror (the false justification for invading Iraq) but also R2P (the Responsibility to Protect). As Hendrickson shows, R2P originated in the recommendation of a Canadian government commission and received a modified but contested acceptance by the UN in 2005. R2P provides a virtually blank check for using force on humanitarian grounds—an idea that has little support from non-Western nations. In practice it vitiates a central assumption of international law—that each state has the right to defend itself. In his second inaugural address, Bush spelled out the vision of universal empire behind R2P: “The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.” This was the Truman Doctrine on steroids.
Hendrickson thinks American disregard for international law helps explain the incoherence of contemporary strategic thought. According to exceptionalist ideology, the US is the primary guardian of international law, on which global stability depends. Yet Hendrickson (like Bulmer-Thomas) makes clear that more often than not, the putative rule-maker has in fact broken rules and acted in ways that it would not tolerate from any other nation.
The American exceptionalist double standard is especially apparent in its current military operations overseas. Consider the battle-ready presence of the US Navy in the South China Sea. Imagine a rival power behaving as aggressively in the Caribbean, lecturing us on our misdeeds (as we have lectured the Chinese) and appointing itself a neutral umpire for the region. A retired Chinese admiral, quoted by Hendrickson, puts the matter succinctly: the US Navy in East Asia is like “a man with a criminal record ‘wandering just outside the gates of a family home.’”
Or take the confrontation emerging on the western border of Russia. The missile defense system installed by NATO on Russia’s doorstep, combined with NATO troops conducting military exercises, could not be more provocative. No great power, least of all the United States, would allow deployments so close to its borders without protest and (probably) retaliation.
While Bulmer-Thomas treats imperial expansion as a continuous feature of American history that has run afoul of historical circumstance, Hendrickson reconstructs an anti-imperial tradition in Anglophone thought, which he calls “liberal pluralism” and recommends reviving in view of our crumbling American empire. In his view, liberal pluralism was embodied in the system of European nation-states (the “Westphalian system”) that emerged from the Thirty Years’ War. It was also the worldview of America’s founders, uniting Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison in their suspicion of military adventures abroad. From the liberal pluralist perspective, war is the summum malum of international affairs; respect for the sovereignty of other nations is the best way to avoid it. Sovereignty is the core of international law: every state has the right to defend itself from external attack; none has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of another.
The fact that liberal pluralism discourages interference does not, however, imply that it encourages nations to be passive bystanders in the face of immoral foreign policies, as contemporary political theorists who favor an interventionist approach like to claim. Liberal pluralism “does not,” Hendrickson insists, “dictate indifference to human rights”; it allows states to shelter dissidents and welcome refugees from oppression. “What it does not allow is coercive intervention in a foreign country to secure those rights.”
Donald TrumpDonald Trump; drawing by Siegfried Woldhek
Hendrickson concentrates his criticisms on the reckless use of military force in foreign lands; he does not dismiss economic sanctions as an alternative. Nor does he rule out interference in extreme situations, such as the threat of genocide. But he insists that such interventions be—as far as possible—multilateral, peaceful, and respectful of international law. He proposes maintaining NATO, but with our nuclear guarantees to its members on a strictly “no-first-use” basis; preserving friendships with allies but also working out “rules of the road with putative adversaries.” He argues that fighting terrorism requires effective policing at home and the support of functioning governments abroad, not their overthrow. The liberal pluralist tradition, in his view, provides intellectual resources for reducing international tension and redirecting national wealth toward urgently necessary aims—rebuilding infrastructure, reviving the welfare state, and addressing the menace of climate change and oceanic catastrophe.
In recent years, popular support for imperial adventures has waned. Large majorities have opposed sending US troops to Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. The percentage of Americans who think it is “very important” that the US should “maintain superior military power worldwide” dropped from 68 percent in 2002 to 52 percent in 2014. And poll respondents ranked military supremacy sixth out of ten among foreign policy aims. The top-ranked goal was “protecting the jobs of American workers.”
The shift in public opinion is a response to a series of failed interventions: efforts at regime change in Iraq, Libya, and Syria have left behind chaos, failed states, terrorist recruits, and endless war. But whatever disagreements they may have had over policy details, all three presidents since September 11 have shared a commitment to US global military supremacy. No major policymaker wants to admit publicly what many suspect privately: that America’s imperial reach has begun to exceed its grasp. Barring a dramatic shift in public discourse, the American empire will not go gentle into that good night; more likely it will, as Dylan Thomas counseled the old, “burn and rave at close of day.”
No one burns and raves more flagrantly than Donald Trump. The failure of blank-check interventions fed the discontent he exploited in the 2016 campaign. Yet his chauvinist posturing has turned out to be little more than a belligerent, unhinged version of the militarized globalism he claimed to displace. So Trump lurches from one outrageous provocation to another while most of his critics repeat the stale formulas of global leadership. Neither side seems to notice that the rest of the world does not want to be led (though some countries may still want their security to be guaranteed by US power). More and more foreign countries are trying to go about their business on their own, even in areas once assumed to be vital to the US national interest—Latin America, the Middle East, the South China Sea, even the Korean peninsula, where the South Koreans have done what American leaders were unable or unwilling to do: initiate diplomacy with North Korea.
Other pillars of American power are also crumbling, as Bulmer-Thomas demonstrates in detail. Multinational corporations are no longer as dependent on American policies abroad for access to foreign markets; General Motors, for example, now sells more cars in China than anywhere else on earth, without benefit of a US presence there. Recent years have seen a steady fall in the US net investment ratio (gross investment less the consumption of fixed capital), both private and public. The consequence has been a decline in infrastructure (including public education), as well as a slowing of innovation and productivity. At the same time, neoliberal politicians in both parties, committed to cutting back the “entitlements” provided by the welfare state and privatizing the public sector, have underwritten the rise of inequality and social immobility. The effect has been to undermine the broad prosperity that was the domestic basis of the semi-global empire.
International institutions, rather than reinforcing American hegemony, challenge it. The UN, the IMF, and the World Bank have all proven unreliable in promoting US interests. At the UN, the US is more isolated than ever on the Security Council, as the dramatic increase in American vetoes shows. Various countries have learned to avoid borrowing from the IMF, with the onerous conditions it imposes, by building up their foreign exchange reserves and paying off existing debts. The World Bank now has two significant rivals, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank (which represents the BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The Organization of American States has been superseded, since 2011, by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which insisted on the inclusion of Cuba despite US opposition. China is creating its own version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership without US participation, as well as expanding into sub-Saharan Africa and cutting a deal with Nicaragua for another isthmian canal.
Yet Trump and his opponents in the Washington consensus still envision a unipolar world, where the United States can ignore the legitimate claims of rival nations and do pretty much whatever it wants, whether because of its sheer greatness (Trump) or its exceptional goodness (Clinton et al.). Obama was cautious about intervening in Syria and eager to negotiate with Iran, but his administration maintained or intensified commitments to global military supremacy, blanket surveillance, targeted drone assassinations, and modernization of nuclear weapons, as well as engagement in the Middle East and East Asia. Fundamental policies persisted despite Obama’s misgivings.
Neither Bulmer-Thomas nor Hendrickson believes these policies can continue without catastrophe. And it might, in any case, not be in the US’s interests for them to continue. As Bulmer-Thomas reminds us, “Imperial retreat is not the same as national decline, as many other countries can attest. Indeed, imperial retreat can strengthen the nation-state just as imperial expansion can weaken it.” Yet as Hendrickson concludes, “It is crystal clear that the empire is fully determined to stick around,” despite our desperate need to dismantle it. The drift of global events may eventually require the United States to acknowledge the reality of a multipolar world, but we cannot assume that the process will be peaceful. Still, Hendrickson has performed an urgently necessary service in reconstructing the liberal pluralist tradition. He reminds us that there is a humane alternative to contemporary orthodoxy, if we can only recognize it.

Canada's position on Venezuela is, in reality, an act of war. All other things aside, Canadian law requires that the government vote to declare war. But I guess that's another  rule our government is now  ignoring. (It has, alas, become standard for parliament to ignore its own laws. We did it when we bombed Libya to please our American masters. We did it when we supplied troops as trainers in Syria.)

Canada has a long history of racism. in Montreal nightclubs of the 1950s and later. Black performers were not allowed to sit with customers - even if invited. i had an uncle who was a boxing coach who frequently had to find accomodations for black fighters. But most Montreal hotels would not accept them. Nor were were blacks permitted to enter the nightclubs as customers.

Canada has a long history of profound racisms. But Halifax - and Nova Scotia in general - were perhaps the champs.

Mining companies - American, Canadian, local - have a long history of destructive behaviour in Latin America. Especially destructive has been the new president of Brazil - a hero of the far, far right and a staunch advocate of war against those evil Venezuelans.

An informed - and sane - look at Venezuela.

The American military has, for the last 75 years, seen almost nothing but defeat. That's quite amazing since it has not faced a large enemy in all those years. The record is so bad, it signals that the U.S. cannot in future win a conventional war against even poor states.

The only war it is capable of winning - perhaps - is a nuclear war. But such a war would be a loser for the whole world.

On  the other hand, nobody can seriously even think of attacking the U.S. And even that would be a loser for the whole planet.

There are - or should be - conclusions to be drawn from that.

It's amazing how many American military leaders and politicians and other mass killers and greedy billionaires read The Bible. These are the same people who have killed over 30 million people  in the last 75 years. They are the ones who have crippled funds to help the poor and the hungry. They are the ones who hide their money from taxation so the poor simply get poorer.

Of course, this was also true of the aristocratic leaders of imperial Britain who murdered some 350 million people.

Not your typical local newspaper story.
In 1914, we fought the war to end all wars. In 1939, we fought the war to bring peace to the world....

Discgusting! Who do these Chinese think they are? Americans?

The world faces the greatest crisis it has known in millions of years. No. It's not the profit margins of our billionaires. At best, we are likely to see massive suffering and death in South American and Africa as they take the brunt of climate change.

Can you imagine what our borders will be like when that happens? And based on our past experience, can you imagine how murderous our political and economic leaders will behave?

We are facing monstrous challenges in surviving. And we're doing nothing about them. All that counts is making more  money for billionaires.

And the truth is it has always been that way. Much as we like to talk about democracy and the voice of the people, the reality is that our governments have always been agents for the super wealthy.

Canada and the U.S. have, since the seventeenth century, been money machines for the wealthy. The major purpose of the American revolution was to solidify the power of the American monied class. The same was true of the European empires. All of them were agents of the wealthy.

The mulk of their populations had to survive, if possible, on their own. As late as the early part of the twentieth century, British working class children were sent to factories as early as five or six to work 12 hours a day and more in filthy and dangerous conditions. Throughout the western world, most people lived at the edge of desperate poverty. It was their own efforts, not the help of the wealthy, that helped them. And the rate of poverty is still high even in the most wealthy countries.

(To this day, Americans who want health care that they can afford flee in their thousands every year to Mexico. - so maybe Mexico needs a wall.)

The reality is that we don't have democracies. The people  don't have power. Our governments are owned and controlled by our leading capitalists. And our leading capitalists govern only for themselves.

I lived for some years in New Brunswick where a former premier is now a shill for the Brandenburg Group, a very, very right wing propaganda house. He recently advised business leaders that elected politicians are incompetent. So what we need is for business bosses to replace governments.

(In reality, of course, business bosses have long since replaced governments. Our participation in World Wars one and two - and Korea and Afghanistan and Libya       and Syria and some 80 other countries was done to please big money.

(Oh, I know. We fought World War Two because Hitler was evil. He was. And that's why so many western capitalists like Henry Ford admired him. They had nothing against evil. The knew what he was doing to Jews in the 1930s. And that was okay by them. After all, most of them were anti-semites, too. Indeed, anti-semitism was very common among the western 'elites' until very recently.)

 New Brunswick today is run by pimps for the businessman who owns the province.) Liberals? Conservatives? Those are two words with the same meaning - obedience to big money. The idea that we are democracies is absurd. The wealthy control our news. They finance our major political parties. That's why our closest allies are the oil princes of Saudi Arabia. That's why the U.S. is helping the Saudis to slaughter children in Yemen. That's why the U.S. deliberately killed children by the millions in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq....

The big business leaders have no interest whatever is saving the planet. Picture that. The world's top scientists tell us we are facing destruction - soon. The business leaders, who commonly have no scientific training whatever, refuse to listen to people who know what they're talking about.

That is the problem we face. And we have very, very little time to face it.


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Jan. 26:The hell with it!

For many years, the quality of American public schools has been going down. But that may now be turning a corner.
Now, if we could only improve the quality of universities....but that's a long story - and one that universities are not interested in.

Billionaires are routinely handed out huge sums of money by our governments. (Funny how there's so much  they can't afford on their own.) To add insult to injury that money cannot come from their taxes because they don't pay any. That's our money - money that we need for hospitals and schools - and food - and housing.
Get used to this. We have no choice.

It is surely astonishing that we  permit billionaires to pay no income tax at all. As well, they commonly get huge breaks in property taxes - and they get free handouts from our tax money   every year.

In return, they use our money to pay for their wars; in the U.S. most Americans simply give up on medical care; schools make do with overstuffed classrooms; universities are wildly expensive so that most of the population simply can't afford them ... and at that they are hopelessly underfunded. (When I taught elementary school, I was swamped with classes of 30 and more. In university, I routinely taught 75, and knew faculty in other universities who taught classes of 600. Students don't learn much in any of those situations.)

For over a century the most vicious, murderous force in South America has been American capitalism. Funny how so few of our news media have noticed that.
Seventy-five years ago, it was goodbye British empire. Now, it may well be goodbye Britain.

These aren't experts? You mean they ain't smart like Donald Trump?

When was the last time  a Latin American country invaded the U.S.?
The American government accuses Cuba of being anti-democratic, and brutalizing its own people. Right. This is the American government that forced one of  the world's most brutal dictatorships on Cuba for some 30 years, making it a favourite holiday spot for American gangsters, and a pot of gold for American capitalists looking for really, really cheap labour.

After the U.S. thugs were kicked out, and even after the U.S. punished Cuba with trade sanctions, Cuba has been a much happier country.

Cuban's aren't dumb enough to believe these American government stories. Alas. Many American people are.

John Bolton is a very dangerously unstable man.

And who are the people who are preventing any serious dealing with this crisis? Why, they're those very nice rich people who make billions upon billions out of letting the planet be destroyed.


It's not as if this were new. The major western powers have been murdering and plundering all over the world for centuries. (except it was called glorious.)

Don't hope for any significant change to come from the Democrat party. Since World War Two, it has been almost identical to the Republican party. What can you expect? Both parties are owned by the billionaires who pay their bills.
Sometimes, there's nothing more to be said.

A very depressing day of blog writing. Not only have we abandoned all that we said were were fighting World War Two for. We have become the Naziis in our behaviour. That's true even of the Israelis though, in fairness, my impression of North American Jews is that they remain faithful to Judaic principles - something Israelis abandoned long ago.

For the last twenty years in particular, the U.S. and Britain have been throwing the middle east into a place of horror.  (They had been doing that at least since World War One - but it has become much worse thanks to the behaviour of Israeli, British and American greed for ever more control.)

Latin America? It may simply collapse into a final chaos as American billionaire greed leaves it with no choice.

We have allowed capitalism to go wildly out of control so capitalists now dominate in world and national affairs. They have also largely destroyed our access to information and understanding.

The path we're on is destructive, fatally destructive. Of course it is. One cannot allow such forces to dominate the world - and expect survival. As it is, we face either the instant destruction of the greatest war ever seen - or the slower and lingering destruction of a complete social collapse.

We have created a world in which there is no morality, no social objectives....

And we aren't going to change this by sitting around and letting it happen.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Jan. 24. Don't kid yourself.

This IS world war three.

The U.S. has a long history of overthrowing governments all over the world, and installing American-controlled puppets. It happened in Iran back in 1948 when the U.S. overthrew the elected goverment and installed the shah as a dictator. It happened in Congo - often. It has been happening in South America for well over a hundred years.

And, after 1945, Canadians have lined up to chirp support for the U.S. in getting rid of leaders who are not as nice as they should be to American big business. Most recently, when Trump cut off relations with the government of Venezuela, Canada's Justin Trudeau almost wet  his pants he was in such a hurray to say, "look at me, Mr. Trump.  I'm on you're side. look at me."

When the U.S. decided to dump the elected president of Haiti  ( He wasn't nice enough to American corporations).. Canada tripped over itself  to recognize the American puppet who was planted there. Canada also sent peacekeepers (such a lovely word) to keep Haitians quiet.

It's no secret that the CIA tried, many times, to knock off Castro in Cuba - but failed. They said Castro wasn't a democrat. In fact, the government that Castro overthrew was not a democracy either. It was a torturing and murderous gang  that the U.S. just loved because it let American capitalists run wild.

U.S. agents in Guatemala sought out missionaries, priests and nuns  to murder in Guatemala because the churches were trying to protect the people of Guatemala from plundering by American capitalists.

The U.S. has a long history of stolen land, mass murder, torture in Latin America. And it's all done to benefit American capitalists who plunder the resources of Latin American countries, deny adequate living standards, hold down   the people in poverty. And just to keep it all running smoothly, the U.S. operates a School of the Americas, where Latin American soldiers from 'trustworthy' countries can be trained in assassination, torture and other useful democratic skills. In just about every country in Latin America, the U.S. has its fingers on soldiers who can be used by the U.S. against their own countries.

Our news media regale us with stories about how the present government of  Venezuela has run the country into terrible debt. In fact, the debt was (illegally) created by the U.S. to prevent the local government from spending money on the people of Venezuela. And it worked. It created mass poverty.

In a programme more vicious than we can imagine, U.S. capitalists have spent 150 years in enslaving, abusing, murdering the people of Latin America.

And Canada's prime  minister has kissed whatever it is that Donald Trump likes to have kissed. The question now is whether Canada will be asked to play a role in this grotesque dance of greed.

The Trump claim is that Venezuela has no democracy. Maybe not. neither does Guatemala (ruled by U.S. friends), or Haiti (under U.S. control.) The U.S. put a murderer in charge of Chile for seventeen years. It's close friend in the Middle East is the murderous and completely undemocratic country of Saudi Arabia.

And we will accept this because we always have, because we really don't give a damn, because our Canadian capitalists get a piece of the action and plunder.

Capitalism can be a dreadful and inhuman system that makes both victims and villains of us all. And what we have been doing in Latin America is as disgusting as what Hitler did.

But think about this. We live under an economic system dominated by the greedy and vicious. And the greedy and vicious are plundering the world - all of us. They don't pay taxes. Most have no sense of responsibility for anything except the satisfaction of their own greed. That is going to come crashing down. On all of us.

The U.S./Canada and others position is that Maduro does not have popular, democratic support to govern. Well, perhaps not. And it is quite possible his opponent Gialdo has even less -- much less. But the U.S., which has murdered and plundered all over Latin America for well over a century, is not doing this to restore democracy. It has proven for a very long time that it couldn't care less about democracy.

And it has Canada as its whimpering puppy.

Israel has become the opposite of what Judaism is about. Hitler won. He destroyed a large part of Judaism in this world.

The Guardian is not the paper it once was. But it's still the best of the commercial newspapers. It took intelligence and courage to run the column above.

Maybe this world needs more children and fewer adults.

All too true. We have never been closer to the final war.

Will we wake up in time? Will our oil bosses wake up at all? I wish I could believe it.
I enjoyed this next one.

Well, it's not news. But it's interesting.

Sixty years ago, the NDP was the CCF - and it was a party that went to the root of problems. Yes, it was radical. And one of its radicalisms was medicare for all those who needed it. Liberals and Conservatives have never liked it. But it's so popular that, to  this day, they have been slow to destroy it.

But when the CCF became the NDP (to get financial support from unions), it became even more bland than the Liberals and Conservatives. Yes. It was the unions that killed socialism in Canada - and the NDP has never recovered from that.

We are heading into political and social crisis. We need a dynamic and critical political party. But all we got from the NDP is Liberal Fog. Politics is not just about getting elected. It's about shaking the voters to make them think.
The situation in Venezuela is a very dangerous one because it may be more than a matter of a U.S. alliance crashing in to the country.

We now have at least two pots boiling in South America. One is American interference in Venezuela. The other, closely related, is the U.S. border crisis. And these could well spark other crises.

In addition,  note that Russia and China are not staying silent in this. I certainly don't expect them to intervene in Venezuela itself. But they are not likely to be inactive as the U.S. carves out a piece of the world for itself.

I remember that day in 1945. I was 11, and caught up in the joy of a crowd cheering the end of World War 2. We had won. And we had been promised there would be  no more wars. That's what November 11 is supposed to be about. We would have a UN to settle problems.

The reality is that the U.S. has completely ignored the UN. It  has invaded and murdered in at least 70 countries since then, usually ignoring the UN completely. It has murdered 30 million people - more if you count those it starved to death.

We have created refugees on a scale the world has never seen before. We have betrayed everything we said our fathers and grandfathers died for. (Yeah - forgetting my age - and our great grandfathers....)

And Canada has wimped along every step of the way with the U.S. All our energies have gone into creating a small number of billionaires who use our tax money to murder and starve millions every year.

In a superbly wealthy world, we have almost none of that wealth. We seem to prefer to pass it on to the billionaires who hide it from taxation for their own benefit.

I think back to that day in 1945, and I realize how little ordinary life has improved since that time. And how vicious and violent our world still is every day.

The U.S., like Canada, can't afford to feed the poor. But both the U.S. and Canada can afford billions in gifts for billionaires who don't pay any taxes. I saw this up close when I lived in New Brunswick.

The billionaire Irving family pays no income tax. It has extensive property taxes - but those are reduced to a tiny fraction of what they should be. As well, it constantly receives huge government grants to help operate its investments.

And the poor? They sleep in tents through the winter - or until the police tear them down.

Wake up. We have an upper class that does nothing for us while, like every upper class in history, it bleeds the rest of us dry. Instead of those wonderful promises that were given to us in 1945, we have been handed over to an unspeakably greedy class of the super-wealthy.

Who organized, trained and equipped from the start those people we call Muslim terrorists? Surprise. It was the U.S. and Israel.

Israel,  the U.S. and the UN have agreed to investigate the case of a Saudi prince who may have murdered a journalist.

Since 1945, the U.S. has murdered at least 30 million people. A high proportion of those have been children. It has also helped the Saudis to starve uncounted numbers of children to death in Yemen. But who cares?

Hey, we need more oil pipelines. Anyway, horses are old-fashioned.

Has it ever occurred to you that our oil billionaires are not a particularly bright bunch?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Jan. 22: the last days

Hey. Don't worry about it. This is just some wacky scientist. For the real scoop, listen to real smart politicians like Donald Trump in the U.S., and Doug Ford in Ontario.

Gee! Canadian mining executives did  that? There must be a misunderstanding.

Canadian Tax Payers Federation is one of those 'think tanks' that our news media take very seriously.  In fact, thinking is precisely what it does not do. It is really just another one of those propaganda houses financed by billionaires to spread their propaganda.

It's not happeniing just in North America. That's a huge problem created by capitalism. It exists only to reward those who are already rich. But it dumps all those millions who make it possible for the already rich to get even richer. And, in the end, that means a society in ruins.

And that end is quickly coming closer.

Martin Luther King - the Christian who exposed the farce that Christians have made of Christianity.

Do you have a clergyman like this in your church? I've never met one. The ones I've seen all do a really wimpy version of Jesus.

Of course, this is idealistic. If we want peace in this world we have to go on starving Yemen children to death and stopping all those Latin Americans from defiling the goodness of America which, as we all know, is blessed by God.
For decades, the U.S. imposed dictators, torturers and thugs on Cuba. It was no secret. It was public knowledge that this was holiday land for American gangsters. It was public knowledge that  the government was made up of Cuban thugs appointed by the U.S. It was understood that Cuba must not waste money on schools or hospitals - or salaries for any but the thugs who controlled Cuba.
 It must not tax hard-working American billionaires who had appropriated most of the land and agriculture in Cuba. And, most certainly, it must support the murderous thugs who constituted the 'police' of Cuba.

It has never been fun to be a part of the American Empire in Latin America.

Castro changed that. And for that he has never been forgotten or forgiven.

And Canada will say.....nothing.

Well, it might send 'peacekeepers' like it did some years ago to Haiti - keep things quite for the thugs that the U.S. made the government of Haiti.

The American position that they were in Texas, Arizona, California first always reminds me painfully of the separatist movement in Quebec. French separatists argued they had the exclusive right to run Quebec because they were the original settlers. Of course, they weren't, not by many, many thousands of years.

Greed has no limits.
Why is Venezuela suffering? Read on.

A  story we haven't heard about Martin Luther King.

Who has been arming and training all those dreadful terrorists in the middle east?
Uh, well, that would be the U.S. And  you can expect much, much more.

What a wonderful lead for a story fundamental to any understanding of our world.

Almost all wars throughout history have been fought to further enrich the very, very wealthy. That was true of ancient Egypt, of Rome, of all the British and other European empires. To that, the U.S. has added some touches.

In the older empires, the rich actually served in their wars. That was true up to the British whose wealthier aristocrats were prominent in the wars of empire. But that's not true of the U.S. When the U.S. went to war against Vietnam, for example, many of the children of the rich went missing. Oh, there was a military draft. But it  had variations built in.

When it was the turn of George Bush jr. to servc, George Bush Sr. made it possible for him to serve part-time as a dashing pilot in ----Texas.

In Canada in World War Two, a wealthy bootlegger arranged for his sons to serve in the shot and shell of Washington.

And that's understandable - sort of. Wars are seldom fought for the reasons we are told.

The British fought the wars against Napoleon so that British capitalists could dominate in  the race to conquer regions that French capitalists wanted. World War One, on both sides, was not in defence of evil people on the other side. It was fought to decide who get control of expanding markets. The same was true of World War Two. Well into the 1930s, British and French capitalists had no trouble with Hitler. Indeed, some, like Henry Ford, hugely admired him. They became hostile to Hitler only when his conquests began to threaten western markets. Later, the U.S. entered the war in hope of conquering profitable markets held by the British and French - like China and Vietnam. And it happily joined the European war, partly so it could kidnap British-controlled oil fields in the Middle East.

Yes. The other side was evil. But that's not why the war was fought. After all, when it came to evil and killing the British and Americans were already world leaders.

The Korean War was fought to establish a base for the conquest of China, a conquest that would have been magnificent for American profits. Vietnam was fought for the same reason.

The U.S. has fought well over 200 wars since 1776. To defend itself against??? Mexico? Canada? Guatemala? Chile? Cuba?

Well, none of those countries could even think of invading the U.S. Indeed, the only attack on U.S. territory in over 200 years was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour - and that was half an ocean away from the U.S. itself. (Okay. There was the attack of 9/11. But that was  hardly the prelude to an invasion. Nor was that the reason for the American invasion of Afghanistan.)

The most constant aggressors in the world since  1945 have been white young men from the streets of New York and Boston and Miami......  And its defence industries are so busy they arm even the terrorists they claim to be fighting.  This is a madness of the very rich to conquer the world and all the world economies.

The U.S. will rule the world?  No. This isn't a war for U.S. rule. Americans should have figured that out a long time ago. For decades, the US standard of living for most Americans has been dropping. These aren't wars for the American people. They're wars, like those of the British and French and Spanish empires, that are not for the common people. No. For all the artificial patriotism, these wars are to benefit only a tiny number of the super wealthy. And it gets even better.

The wealthiest Americans don't have to pay a cent for these wars. No.. Like wealthy Canadians and British (and manyother countries) the wealthy of the U.S. don't pay a cent in taxes. All the monstrous cost of these wars has to be paid by the Average family. Get that. The billionaires make monstrous fortunes out of these wars - and they don't have to pay a cent for them.

That's why so many American cannot even think of medical care. That's why the public schools are in trouble. That's why universities are beyond the reach of most. That's why so many of the elderly slide into the deepest poverty.

Martin Luther King's speeches were not just about what America was doing to the rest of the world. They were also about what the extremely wealthy are doing to all Americans.  (Alas! For all the praise today of what Martin Luther King said, the meat of his talk,  his major points, have been ignored. Martin Luther King did NOT just say we should be nicer. He was pretty specific about where and what the evil was. But our news media are pretty quiet on that.)

Where has this got us? To immense suffering and death all over the world. To growing poverty in the U.S.

So where does this take us?  Let's get real.

This whole system is going to crash. Of course it is. For a start, the world's capacity to kill has reached such a point that no significant number could survive a world war. There's no point in talking about it. It cannot be done.

Greed rules. And, if we don't change, greed will destroy us all. Soon. Quite likely within the lifetimes of young adults today. And it could be a lot sooner.

When you read news stories about Martin Luther King, note what they way about his message. Almost all such reports in our news media are bland and brainless. But King had a very tough message. It was about evil, our evil. It was about the evil of an economic system that lavishes wealth on a very small and greedy group, and that leaves a trail of poverty and suffering and death behind it.

We have given ourselves over to evil.

But cheer up. it will destroy us.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Jan. 19: a quiet day

Canada, like Brazil, has it's share of Donald Trumps in political life.

These are people who govern to please the very, very rich. So they wouldn't dream of making billionaires pay taxes and they certainly wouldn't waste money on frills like university education.

The universities are  kind of important. Notice how China has made tremendous advances in recent years? it now challenges the U.S. in development and technology. That is happening because of the tremendous rise of education in that country - especially in university education. - and the tremendous rise of access to that education. Meanwhile, we are making it more difficult to go to university. And much of the real power in our universities is in the hands of a small group of the very wealthy who run the places only for their own, narrow interests. The same thing is happening in the U.S.

A century ago, the British navy ruled the waves and British corporations ruled the biggest empire in world history. That all collapsed in World War Two - and it collapsed with much help from American corporations who are now in pursuit of being the greatest empire in world history. For over half of the twentieth century, Canada fought British wars as it now fights American ones.

Now, it is possible we are facing the sunset years of a Britain. Much of Ireland has broken away with Scotland likely to follow. All that is left of that grandeur is a royal family. Most of the damage was done in just a few years.

Now there's Brexit which seems to signal the formal end of British influence in Europe. I haven't written about this because, alas, I don't understand it - and most news stories are no help at all.  I shall keep an eye open for something even I can understand.

Meanwhile, enjoy this.

Doug Ford's proposals would mean the beginning of the end for government sponsored health care. We would, like the U.S., stay mired in the 19th century. (It has long puzzlled me why Americans suffer this abuse.)

From my childhood, i have memories of watching people in our social circle die because of lack of medical care. Tuberculosis was then a major killer. And they always died at home. I had an uncle who died of TB. But there was no  hospital care for him.It was out of the question. He died, slowly, in his room.

When medcare arrived, it didn't come from Canada's llberals or its Conservatives. It came because of the churches.

Early in twentieth century, many clergy and their parishioners were angered by the inidifference the Liberals and the Conservatives to human needs (Rather like the U.S. Republicans and Democrats of today.) So they formed a political party - Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. it was to be a party which, instead of pandering to the limitless greed of the wealthy, would serve the average Canadian - and all of them.

This is what makes health care possible for most Canadians. Alas, corporations didn't make donations to a political party that wasted its time on serving the Canadian people. The CCF had no money. For some kind of a financial base, the party courted Canadian unions to join it.

But Canadian unions were a lot like Canadian billionaires. They insisted on taming down the party platform, cutting down on its ideal of service to people. The result was the NDP, - a very wimpy version of the CCF. And that's why the Doug Fords of the world are out every day with hammer and chisel to divert that money to those who really need it - the very rich. You know. The ones who don't pay taxes.
I don't entirely agree with this item from Russia Times. But it's more accurate than what is commonly seen in the Canadian news media.

People don't risk their lives as migrants because they're evil. And they don't bring babies with them just for the hell of it. They are fleeing from conditions at  home too terrible for survival. And, very often, those conditions were created by the nations they are fleeing to.

We create the horror. Then we blame  them for it and we abuse them for fleeing.

What you won't find in most of your news reports.

Some government will realize we must develop electrically powered cars. But it's not likely to be a Canadian government.

Privatization of medical services and needs is not a good idea - not at any level.

Here's something on Brexit and the impending fall of Britain's Conservative government. It certainly shows the many dimensions of the Brexit issue. But it doesn't do much to help explain it.

i am finishing this blog a day late because I felt I didn't have enough material. Well, God is kind to hise servant. In this extra day I have understood what Britain's Brexit crisis is about. (I don't know why it took me so long. It's not at all difficult to understand.)

This is a trade dispute very similar to Trump's trade dispute with Canada. But there is one difference.
This could leave Britain very much alone in much of the world of trade. This would be the final drop from it's days of empire and glory. And that could mean the breakup of Great Britain itself.

And the U.S. could find itself in the same position well within a lifetime.
We have to understand that migrants are not evil people come to rob us in our sleep. They are people - whole families - made desperate by our wars, by our abuse of their environment, by our exploitation of their labour and their resources. Migrants are not people who have suddenly decided to invade us in order to carry out evil acts. They are victims of our greed and brutality.

Oh? They have an alien culture? Almost all Canadians and Americans come from a host of alien cultures. I went to  school with italians, Greeks, Syrians, Jews, Chinese.... There was really nothing alien about them. I found the sense of alienation far greater after my school days as I came to know wealthy anglo-Saxons. Yes, the aliens among us, the ones who most threaten us, are the very wealthy.