134 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @jt
    Wow. That’s the first time I’ve been accused of lying. In fact, you made an extremely aggressive statement, namely:

    It is a crime (ethically and strategically) to lie through your teeth, which is what you did above in your comment about “recent leaked Shell corporation documents.”

    You have seriously offended me. I may make mistakes, but I do not set out to lie about things, and I certainly do not set out to “lie through my teeth.” It is one thing to think I might have misrepresented something and to say so, but another thing entirely to say I have “lied through my teeth.”

    I went back and re-read the entire article. You are correct: it doesn’t refer to leaked documents, only to the publicly available Lens scenario documents. I wrote that comment after I read two articles about Shell back to back, the second one (also online at the Guardian) being about the Arctic Ice video “leaked email”, and I (unintentionally) conflated the two. I didn’t mean to: I am happy to apologise for making that mistake. However, you could have simply corrected me, rather than accusing me of malice.

  2. @Tim Macknay
    For what it’s worth, thanks for providing the reality check Tim. I have to concede I get most of my impressions of society’s drug, alcohol and suicide problems through media reporting and what you’ve highlighted is that these impressions were erroneously pessimistic – and hey, that’s seriously a good reality check to get.

  3. Yet more ad hominem from jt:

    Sinnamon’s co-blogger Sheila Newman links approvingly to a range of right and left wing conspiracy sites about UFOs, how Senator Joe MacCarthy was right about all those commies, the moon landings and so on ad nauseum. I have never seen an odder collection of outright weirdness I rashly bought a copy of the Yeti-slash-UFO obsessed Nexus Magazine (which Sinnamon admits to being a fan of btw).

    That’s news to me. Feel free to show where Sheila published those stories.

    On his blog he tells us that the US bombed the WTC on 9/11; the US Government killed JFK and MLK; Martin Bryant was framed for the Port Arthur massacre by John Howard among a plethora of conspiracy theories.

    Presumably jt also holds that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy.

    The pejorative term ‘conspiracy theorist’ was coined by CIA in the mid-1960s as a means of smearing those who disputed the Warren Commissions findings that lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK. Anyone who wants to inform themselves about this should get hold of a copy of Oliver Stone’s JFK in the video stores.

    In 1999 a trial jury found that Martin Luther King had been killed as a result of a con-spiry by the elements of US Army and the Police. See Orders to Kill (1995) by William F. Pepper.

    Anyone who wants to inform themselves about the Port Arthur massacre can find an article I wrote here and download a full 200 page A4 pdf Book linked to from there written by Keith Noble, an an expatriate Australian living in Austria who was inspired by that article to write the book.

  4. (Please remove the previous post which omitted an end <\blockquote>, Professor Quiggin)

    Yet more ad hominem from jt:

    Sinnamon’s co-blogger Sheila Newman links approvingly to a range of right and left wing conspiracy sites about UFOs, how Senator Joe MacCarthy was right about all those commies, the moon landings and so on ad nauseum. I have never seen an odder collection of outright weirdness I rashly bought a copy of the Yeti-slash-UFO obsessed Nexus Magazine (which Sinnamon admits to being a fan of btw).

    That’s news to me. Feel free to show where Sheila published those stories.

    On his blog he tells us that the US bombed the WTC on 9/11; the US Government killed JFK and MLK; Martin Bryant was framed for the Port Arthur massacre by John Howard among a plethora of conspiracy theories.

    Presumably jt also holds that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy.

    The pejorative term ‘conspiracy theorist’ was coined by CIA in the mid-1960s as a means of smearing those who disputed the Warren Commissions findings that lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK. Anyone who wants to inform themselves about this should get hold of a copy of Oliver Stone’s JFK in the video stores.

    In 1999 a trial jury found that Martin Luther King had been killed as a result of a con-spiry by the elements of US Army and the Police. See Orders to Kill (1995) by William F. Pepper.

    Anyone who wants to inform themselves about the Port Arthur massacre can find an article I wrote here and download a full 200 page A4 pdf Book linked to from there written by Keith Noble, an an expatriate Australian living in Austria who was inspired by that article to write the book.

  5. @Troy Prideaux
    You’re welcome!
    Sadly, media reporting is none too reliable. The concentration of media ownership is one thing that definitely has gotten a lot worse since 1983, although whether or not the media’s propensity to exaggerate has gotten worse since then is an open question (I suspect it’s about the same).

  6. Anyone who wants to inform themselves about this should get hold of a copy of Oliver Stone’s JFK in the video stores.

    Can I gently suggest that a Hollywood movie is probably not a sensible place to go looking for reliable information about the real world? I don’t have a strong opinion about exactly who killed Kennedy, but if I wanted to research the matter, I wouldn’t go to Hollywood movies for source material.

  7. Indonesia and Malaysia have now agreed to take the 8,000 or so refugees adrift in the Straits of Malacca – at least, for a one year temporary period on the condition that the international community shares in taking them in.

    Puts Australia to shame.

  8. @Megan
    I read your posts on this issue and want to respond to let you know that I, I am sure along with many other readers here, am as appalled as you are. I’m aware of the developments but feel numb and utterly incapable of taking any kind of action that might actually lead to change. Absolutely stumped as to what to do and diminished by the fact that the heard hearts and idiots are running the joint.

  9. @Donald Oats
    Fair enough. I also read The Guardian’s articles, the ‘Lens Series’ or whatever but also on the assumption that such information was the result of a leak rather than reinterpretation of available websites from Shell. It was a fair assumption given the torrent of lies, bs and disinformation that has been pouring from the military/industrial/agro-pharmaceutical complex since the end of WWII. It was a fair assumption in the light of Wikileaks cables, Bradley Manning’s disclosures and Snowdens breathtaking democratic propriety in exposing global surveillance.

    In the meantime it looks like neonicotinoid pesticides are implicated in the collapse of bee colonies in the US. Watch out, it is a minefield of bs and disinformation from the usual sources.

  10. @Donald Oats

    Donald Oats, I gather from what you’ve said that you didn’t even bother to read the links in the article you claim to have read. I demand nothing less than intellectual rigour and don’t tolerate flakes. Sorry about that.

  11. jt has previously denied being “Mel”, but they certainly are incredibly similar in outlook, ‘style’, bombast, personal abuse and dogmatism.

  12. Ed Penington :
    Well I screwed up there, but the whole second bit isn’t meant to be a hyperlink..

    That is not a new idea. Putting public servants into a constituency of their own was tried in 19th century Victoria (it was overturned by a backlash because it succeeded, not because it failed), and the U.K. had university seats until well within living memory.

    That linked article misses the point of geographical constituencies. The original idea was never to represent voters but to represent areas that might riot or join rebellions if they didn’t have safety valves; that’s a non-issue for a constituency that doesn’t form a natural strategic entity, which usually meant a geographical one (though clearly that didn’t apply to university educated elites). A minority in any given area was rarely effective enough to matter.

  13. @anthony nolan

    Thanks.

    feel numb and utterly incapable of taking any kind of action that might actually lead to change

    Know that feeling!

    But something must have changed (admittedly nobody has told the refugees yet or actually gone and got them) between the time about a week or two ago when both Malaysia and Indonesia physically “turned back the boats”, and now.

    Put a straw on the proverbial camel’s back. It might be nothing, or it might be the one that precipitates major change.

  14. Tim Macknay wrote on May 20th, 2015 at 17:08 | #56 :

    Anyone who wants to inform themselves about this should get hold of a copy of Oliver Stone’s JFK in the video stores.

    Can I gently suggest that a Hollywood movie is probably not a sensible place to go looking for reliable information about the real world? I don’t have a strong opinion about exactly who killed Kennedy, but if I wanted to research the matter, I wouldn’t go to Hollywood movies for source material.

    So would you care to name what you consider to be a more authoritative source than JFK?

    JFK (1991) is Oliver Stone’s adaptation of On the trail of the assassins (1988) by Jim Garrison. Jim Garrison (1921 – 1992) was the District Attorney of Orleans Parish, Louisiana, from 1962 to 1973.

    On the trail of the assassins is Jim Garrison’s account of how he investigated the murder of President Kennedy from 1966 and in 1969 tried to prosecute Clay Shaw for conspiracy to murder President Kennedy.

  15. @James

    JFK is old hat and boring. How about you tell us about John Winston Howard’s role as the evil mastermind behind the Port Arthur masacre?

    I’m also genuinely interested in your thoughts on yetis, Area 51, UFOs and the allegedly fake moon landing.

  16. Looks like James threw out a challenge to jt at #54 asking for sources for assertions.

    jt hasn’t addressed that.

    Maybe jt is “lying through his teeth”?

    Goose/Gander/Sauce etc…

  17. Even the US is going to assist with the refugees:

    The United States said it was ready to help the region “bear the burden” of the refugees.

    State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf welcomed the agreement and said the United States would help the UN set up protection centres, and would consider requests to resettle some refugees.

    “The US stands ready to help the countries of the region bear the burden and save lives today. We have a common obligation to answer the call of these migrants who have risked their lives at sea,” she told reporters.

    Australia is isolated morally and ethically in its cruel and inhumane treatment of refugees.

  18. @James

    So would you care to name what you consider to be a more authoritative source than JFK?

    Well James, you’ve answered your own question. If you want to know what Jim Garrison thinks, read Garrison’s book. But more broadly, if I were interested enough to want to try to satisfy myself ‘what really happened’ wrt JFK’s death, I would look at all the primary sources I could find, including all the official stuff, i.e. the transcripts and reports of the Warren Commission, any other material relating to official inquiries, as well as original source material of the critics of the Warren Commission, including Garrison.

    But to be honest, I’m surprised that you’d put forward a Hollywood movie as a source of information on a serious issue. Hollywood movies, even ones based on factual events, are fictionalised accounts that are designed to provide drama and audience engagement, which they do by simplifying things, and distorting or leaving out information. Also, the JFK film, based on Garrison’s account, provides just one point of view on an issue that, rather obviously, has multiple points of view that are at odds with each other. In order to come to an informed opinion, it’s necessary to examine all the different points of view (FWIW, I have seen most of Stone’s films, including JFK).

    BTW, you haven’t commented regarding the information I provided in relation to our discussion upthread in response to your request to ‘produce the evidence’. Your thoughts?

  19. @Megan

    But something must have changed (admittedly nobody has told the refugees yet or actually gone and got them) between the time about a week or two ago when both Malaysia and Indonesia physically “turned back the boats”, and now.

    Some of the reports I’ve read say that ‘international pressure’ had led to the turnaround, although they weren’t clear on exactly what the pressure was. it that’s the case, it’s a pity more international pressure isn’t applied to Australia in regard to its own policy.

    I fear though, that it took the prospect of a vast humanitarian disaster for sufficient attention and pressure to be focused on Malaysia and Indonesia, and I’m doubtful that similar pressure would be applied to Australia in the absence of a similar prospective disaster. There seems to be a minimum number of asylum seekers’ lives that need to be in imminent danger at any one moment for the international community to pay attention.

    Hopefully though, the view that I’ve just expressed is overly cynical, and that some sort of international reappraisal will occur, leading to generalised pressure for more humane policies.

  20. jt, nothing more from you, please. I asked you previously not to attack other commenters.

  21. What has changed, is that very poor people observing what was happening, took the matter into their own hands, saving some. Yes, people became humans, not something to be demonised.

    The reaction from Abbott made him look harder, if possible and more idiotic.

  22. @Ikonoclast
    Ikon, (I’m not sure if you’re still reading this thread, but anyway…) thinking about our discussion further upthread, it occurs to me that my comment at #21 may have come across as dismissive of your concerns. I want to say that I substantially agree with all the points you made in your comment at #20 regarding the impact of economic policies on opportunities for youth. I did not intend to come across as though I was dismissing your views or belittling your concern for your own children’s future. I apologise that it may have come across that way.

  23. Out in the weird-o-sphere, Michael Brissenden and Chris Kenny are apparently taking the line that the credit for saving these refugees goes to Abbott for taking a tough stance and turning back the boats.

    I think the “logic” goes along the lines that because Australia forced refugee boats away the “problem” manifested itself elsewhere and resulted in these other countries having to take the refugees. So that’s good for the refugees and everyone should thank Australia.

  24. From this morning’s ‘AM’ on Rupert’s ABC:

    MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Now as we’ve seen, you have been critical of Australian policies in the past, but isn’t it the case that those tough policies are now putting more pressure on the region to take a greater responsibility for this as well and not just act as a transit points?

  25. The lives Abbott claims he is saving, are on those boats are on the high seas. He has not made it any safer in their own country. They still have to flee. All Abbott has done is to take away $28 million in foreign aid, to alleviate poverty. In fact made conditions worse for them.

  26. The best I can do about the refugee crisis is to try and make sense of it. Australia appears to be sorting itself into two great camps in which attitude to those in peril on the sea, at any given moment the most abject of the wretched of the earth, do or do not deserve rescue and thence humane treatment while things get sorted. Those who would provide aid are morally and ethically motivated by a diverse range of religious and spiritual commitments including atheist humanism and all sorts of religions. Those who would refuse aid, in my view, are in breach of all religious or atheist humanitarian commitments. It appears that the upcoming Papal Encyclical will support this understanding of Christianity – that refusal of aid to the poor is a total breach of Church and faith.

    The right wing xenophobes have some characteristics in common: being a bully, a public commitment to weirdo relgious extremism, being a prvileged white male. They tell outrageous lies and apparently believe that retelling the lie constitutes honesty. In short, they are not all powerful. In fact, they are weak people because they have chosen an immoral and unethical path.

    The lies that they tell us also tell us much more about their inner workings than we realise. They run on self deception as a condition of existence as does anyone on the axis of personality disorder. It may be the case that the deranged and diagnosably psychologically unwell have constituted themselves as a self ordering regime in their own interests. These are people who have remained unmodernised. Their sense of self, which is exclusive, is incapable of extending considertion to others except where they adhere, as a smokescreen, to very conformist social expectations like a church in which the entire lay community consists of subjectivities just like them.

    This explains the culture wars that are ongoing in Australia and the US. They are the contested boundaries of what could be seen as a war between two basic but different tribes of a single, planetarily colonising species. Us. It has little enough to do with religion except as a manifestation of which side of the modernity divide your consciousness is located. There are bullies and predators, liars and cheats in all religions in the same way that there are properly modernised people in the same institutions who conduct themselves impeccably.

    What none of them can stand is exposure. Sustained critical appraisal of their actions and words along with a vigorous public discussion about it. That discussion needs to incorporate the so called ‘private’ or subjective beliefs of all people in the public sphere. Transparency enabled by a non-surveilled www is the medium horizon strategic objective in order to sustain the conditions for struggle.

  27. Malaysia has now ordered a search and rescue operation.

    Our navy and other defence personnel would much rather be doing such things than enforcing our current policies of rejection and deterrence, in my view.

  28. As far as I can tell, PM Abbott would rather spend a packet on searching for a downed commercial airliner, weeks after all hope is lost, than searching for desperate people on boats, trapped on the high seas, thanks to intransigent policies of refusing to allow entry of asylum seekers arriving by boat.

    Killing people at sea is the direct result of the turn-back-the-boats policies, whether we do it or other countries do it. Our methods for dealing with asylum seekers coming by boat do not have to be inhumane; it is quite feasible to be tough without wanton endangerment of the lives of those at sea. As PM Abbott’s most recent pronouncements make clear, it is a deliberate and calculated strategy to deny entry under all circumstances, knowing that will kill people.

    Reality is that people will board boats if that is a better option than staying under oppression. We can influence that to some extent by making it more difficult to get into Australia by that method, but we won’t ever stop it completely. The question is then a simple one: how to enact a policy which satisfies our international obligations with respect to asylum seekers, while finding ways to minimise the use of boats as a method of getting here. We should be capable of dismantling and disrupting people-smuggling without further endangering the people themselves.

    When it comes to asylum seekers, I don’t care who is in power: I care about the policies they enact and execute, and whether they transgress our international obligations, and more simply, basic human decency.

  29. I would like to see Abbott apply the Christian values he places so much faith in, to alleviating the poverty and torture that asylum seekers find themselves in. Take market from the smugglers he is obsessed with. He needs to understand, smugglers need push find passengers on their boats of death.

  30. It’s underpinned by the same fallacies as the “War On Drugs” or the “War On Poverty” etc.. and is driven by a pathological ideology.

    There are two angles to “stopping the boats”.

    1. I want the boats to stop coming here with refugees.
    or
    2. I want to stop people drowning.

    If the concern is with the welfare of the refugees, then the answer is blindingly simple: save them from drowning by sending good boats to save them; have a process in the places the boats are departing from whereby they can leave and claim asylum without getting on dodgy boats; have adequate resources to quickly and fairly grant refugee processes at the departure points; and, do all of this without any cost to the refugees.

    The mythical “business model of the people smugglers” (thanks ALP) would immediately cease to exist.

    On the other hand, if – as is equally blindingly obvious – I really don’t care at all for the safety of the refugees so long as they do their dying and suffering elsewhere and out of sight, then the approach is the one adopted by the ALP/LNP duopoly in ever more dastardly increments since first introduced by Labor in 1992. And that is to “deter” people by forcing other people to suffer.

    Scum. Lying scum.

  31. Thank you, Megan on May 21st, 2015 at 01:06 and on May 20th, 2015 at 21:32 and Julie Thomas on May 21st, 2015 at 09:06.

    On the one hand Tim Macknay, by dismissing the evidence presented in Oliver Stone’s JFK and in Jim Garrison’s On the Trail of the Assassins, is taking sides with those, here and elsewhere, who wish to cover up the facts about the murder of President Kennedy on 22 November 1963 (and the murder of others who have blown the whistle on JFK’s murder since) and, on the other hand, Tim Macknay has twice stated (on May 20th, 2015 at 17:08 and on May 21st, 2015 at 10:43) that he has no interest in finding out the truth of this matter.

    You can’t have it both ways, Tim Macknay. Either deal with the arguments I have presented or stop wasting my time and and stop wasting the time of other visitors.

    Tim Macknay wrote on May 21st, 2015 at 10:43 :

    Also, the JFK film, based on Garrison’s account, provides just one point of view on an issue that, rather obviously, has multiple points of view that are at odds with each other.

    The murder of a President John F. Kennedy on 22 November 1963 was a crime. When a crime is committed, particularly a crime as serious as the murder of a country’s head of state (not to mention the subsequent escalation of the Vietnam War, made possible by that murder) the job of the police is to solve that crime, to charge and arrest suspects and present the evidence they have gathered to court so that a jury can decide on whether the person or persons charged is guilty or not guilty.

    If all law enforcement officers were to adopt the mindset displayed by Tim Macknay, a good many more serious crimes would remain unsolved.

    Tim Macknay also wrote on May 21st, 2015 at 10:43 :

    BTW, you haven’t commented regarding the information I provided in relation to our discussion upthread in response to your request to ‘produce the evidence’. Your thoughts?

    I will get back to that in the near future.

    A story in a local community newspaper, Australians feeling the hunger strain further confirms the overwhelming anecdotal evidence on this page (see May 19th, 2015 at 20:06):

    TEN per cent of Australians say they can’t afford to buy enough food.

    That damning figure from the 2014 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is compounded by the waste of so much fresh food.

    Foodbank Victoria’s Hunger Report last year revealed almost 9000 Victorians – 2700 of them children – were being turned away from food charities that couldn’t keep up with demand.

    The report, compiled from responses by 1197 food relief agencies, showed that more than 90,900 people in Victoria alone accessed food relief each month – almost a third of them children.

  32. > I would like to see Abbott apply the Christian values he places so much faith in,

    I don’t think you should tell people they’re doing their own personal faith wrong. Tony Abbott’s christianity is his own and might differ from anyone else’s. We have to believe that his actions manifest the christianity he actually believes.

  33. We have to believe that his actions manifest the christianity he actually believes.

    Sorry. we do not have to believe. I didn’t know that one is entitled to their own version of Christianity. He is either a Christian or not.

    When it comes to religion, I am an ex catholic and do not follow any religion. I also have no problem with those who do.

    What I do know, Abbott has a different view than the one I was bought up with.

    One can treat their fellow man with respect, without religion.

  34. Abbott seems to be manifesting his Christianity by backing Pell over the abuse victims who have given evidence to the Royal Commission.

  35. @James

    …Tim Macknay, by dismissing the evidence presented in Oliver Stone’s JFK and in Jim Garrison’s On the Trail of the Assassins…is taking sides with those, here and elsewhere, who wish to cover up the facts about the murder of President Kennedy

    Huh? I haven’t “dismissed” any evidence. Where on earth is that coming from? How on Earth am I “taking sides”? All I did was point out that Hollywood movies are not a sensible place to go for reliable information about the real world. That is common sense, as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t express any view on Garrison’s book, as I haven’t read it.

    You can’t have it both ways, Tim Macknay. Either deal with the arguments I have presented or stop wasting my time and and stop wasting the time of other visitors.

    What “arguments” are you talking about? Why are you accusing me of “wasting your time”? The stuff about law enforcement officers is just a rant, that has no relevance to anything I said.

    I have engaged with you in good faith and civility all the way through this thread, and I’ve applied the principle of charity to interpreting your comments. I have no idea why you have now chosen to be rude, but it doesn’t reflect particularly well on you.

  36. My previous comment with a link is in automoderation, but I wanted to say that the OECD Report mentioned in the article cited by James is an interesting document, and worth a look. The report is called “Society at a Glance 2014 Highlights: Australia OECD Social Indicators”, and can be accessed at the OECD web site in the section on Australia (or googled).

  37. The OECD piece entitled “how’s life in Australia” also provides an interesting snapshot, and does highlight some of the ways in which ‘neoliberal’ economic policies have adversely affected life in Australia, such as greater inequality and longer working hours.

  38. > I didn’t know that one is entitled to their own version of Christianity.

    People believe what they believe, including the beliefs they have about appropriate labels: you can call it “not what I’d call christianity”, or “not a faith I’d respect”, but you can’t call it “not what Abbott would call christianity” or “not what Abbott believes”.

    [You can only call it “not christianity” if you have an agreed definition of what “christianity” is… but if we had that we wouldn’t have the discussion, so.]

  39. Thanks for the OECD link, Tim.

    I think I am in rough alignment with Tim on the state of Australia. Many things are bad but on the major indicators they aren’t there worst. But there are still plenty of things to be angry about. For instance, I know several young people who are smart and energetic but working cash in hand for as little as $10 an hour for a bosses who treat them like dirt. I know others who are well credentialled but a little introverted and awkward so they’ll probably never get to work in the field they are aspire to because they’ll always rate poorly in interviews. There simply aren’t enough jobs and this causes immense suffering. I hate all this but it was certainly worse back when I came onto the job market during Keating’s recession we had to have, when the unemployment figure was 2%-3% higher than now IIRC.

    Another thing that depresses me is the decline in social capital. Individualism has won out over communitarianism. I wish I new how to fix that one. I haven’t checked lately but I think on this particular indicator we may well be at or near our lowest ebb.

  40. The following is also posted here on my own site. That post includes links which can’t easily be included here.

    Tim Macknay on May 22nd, 2015 at 11:10,

    My apologies for implying, whether implicitly or explicitly, that you were not posting to this forum in good faith.

    Nonetheless, I think you should acknowledge that the issue of who killed President Kennedy, and why, is one of the critical questions of the late 20th century and the early 21st century. The 1,000 days for which Kennedy was President was one of two periods in the 20th and 21st centuries, during which the United States made a constructive, and not destructive, contribution to humanity.[1]

    We are living today, in May 2015, with the consequences of the murders of the two Kennedy brothers and of Martin Luther King and the rule of the United States by a succession mostly of rogues since 1963. The consequences include:

    The Vietnam War;

    The wars and sanctions against Iraq since 1990 which, according to former United States’ Attorney General Ramsey Clarke, have cost as many as 3 million lives including 750,00 children;

    The invasion of Libya in 2011;

    The terrorist proxy war against Syria since march 2011, which has since 2011, cost over 220,000 lives;

    The coup, which installed a neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine in January 2014, and the subsequent war against Russian speaking people in East Ukraine; and

    The current invasion of Yemen by the Saudi Arabian dictatorship.

    Tim Macknay on May 22nd, 2015 at 11:10:

    The stuff about law enforcement officers is just a rant, that has no relevance to anything I said.

    The relevance is: With the exception of Jim Garrison and a few others, including a number of other police officers and security agents on duty in Dallas on 22 November 1963, most law enforcement officers with the responsibility to care for President Kennedy and solve his murder, abysmally failed in their duty to test “multiple points of view that are at odds with each other” against the evidence. That is why an innocent man was framed for the murder and killed that very same day before the supposed evidence against him could be tested in a court of law.

    A good resource to understand the history of the United States is The Untold History of the United States (2012) by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. The video of that book is now freely available here on YouTube.

    Footnote[s]

    [1] The other occasion, within the 20th Century, in which the United States made a positive contribution to humanity, was the period from March 1933 until April 1945.

    In that time President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR):

    scrapped the dogma of economic neoliberalism and used massive government spending programs to eliminate unemployment and lift the standard of living from ordinary Americans; and

    against understandable public opposition, got America to enter the Second World War against Nazi Germany and its allies, thereby probably making the difference (not withstanding the bravery of, and terrible sacrifice by, the Soviet peoples) between the survival of democracy and the global triumph of Nazism.

  41. @James
    Thanks for the apology, James.
    However, I’m going to have to disappoint you on JFK, as I’m not interested in having an extended discussion about the JFK assassination.

  42. @Tim Macknay
    I feel should clarify one point – when I said that your remarks about law enforcement had no relevance to what I said, what I meant was that the way police officers went about, or failed to go about, their duties in 1963 has no relevance to what I, in 2015, would need to do in order to come to an informed view about the Kennedy assassination. Clearly, I am in an entirely different situation from the officers charged with investigating that crime. So the comparison you made between they way those officers did their job and the way I described how I would go about researching the matter is not a useful comparison. That’s all.

  43. @jt

    Another thing that depresses me is the decline in social capital. Individualism has won out over communitarianism. I wish I new how to fix that one.

    This is true, and it is one of the more pernicious ways in which economic rationalist/neoliberal thinking has impacted our society – the way market-oriented individualism is now such an entrenched worldview that it becomes hard to articulate alternatives. To that extent I agree with Ikon’s remark about the shift in the Overton window, although I still maintain that his description of me as a rightwing libertarian was incorrect (and rude!).

  44. @jt
    Estimations of the strength of communalism, or its weakness, are situational. I live in an area recently subject to a serious flood crisis. The usual state sponsored agencies well: SES, Bush Fire Brigade, Ambos and so on. Then there were all sort of local organisations, the regulars like the CWA, the local nursing home support network, ad hoc organisations to provide food, bedding, clothing to homeless flood victims. The owner of the bottom pub filled his rooms, fed people for free and also provided commercial washing machines and driers for free. Another pub in town did the same.

    Anecdote is always good: one day, helping to clear out a totally flooded house, a couple of young blokes turned up with a shovel and a wheelbarrow to clear out the kitchen where the ceiling had collapsed onto the floor. It was a stinking mess. They did the job so that the rest of us could actually move in the debris. Later, I overheard one of them say “who lives here anyway?”.

    A local women’s refuge donated vast quantities o fexecrable. home cooked food. Numerous people donated mattresses that were piss stained or looked like grandma had bled out on them. Others gave junk not because they were cynically emptying their back cupboard but because they wanted to do something, to contribute somehow.

    It has been a debacle, a mess. Telstra, power companies, water supply have all been seriously disrupted and shown to be incompetent at dealing with emergency as has the local council and sundry worthy gasbags who occupy the limited local public spaces.

    I’ve been involved with various local actions that illustrate the ability of the rural (remnant) working classes to organize self help. We have done a good job. I’ve been around people with the arse out of their pants, people for whom the idea of asking for help from their neighbours and mates is anathema, and they’ve accepted help when offered sideways, to preserve their sense of self respect.

    There’s a big tradition of self help, voluntarism and mutual aid in Australia. Those who imagine that they are on the left, whatever that might mean these days, are deluding themselves if they think that a pose is sufficient. The path is participation.
    .

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