Tag: America


Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

It’s very much in the news, and it’s big up North.

“Most of the settlements which were founded in Greenland, in about the year 1,000, remained inhabited until well into ‘The Little Ice Age,’ which started in 1350 and lasted for approximately 500 years. In the beginning when the weather was considerably warmer, about 400 farms were started by the Viking farmers. However later, the extreme cold and glacial ice made farming on Greenland nearly impossible in these frigid northern latitudes. Recently, archaeologists discovered a Viking village that was radiocarbon dated back to circa 1430.

In the year 985, having been blown off course, Bjarni Herjolfsson became the first Viking to see the coast of North America. However, he missed his chance for fame…. Being more interested in getting home, he never set foot on the ‘New Continent.’ Instead, he set his course back to Greenland, leaving the discovery of America to others.” — Captain Hank Bracker, Seawater Two


John McCain: warrior, Senator, patriot, man

Sunday, 26 August, 2018

The gallant old warrior, John McCain, who served America with such distinction and honour, is no more. He died yesterday aged 81. Senator John McCain was a patriot who believed in his bones that America was exceptional, and it is exceptional because of people like him.

In the coming days, it will be instructive to study the waves of admiration that wash over the legacy of the man who fought Hanoi Jane Fonda’s hero, Ho Chi Minh. And if we fast-forward from 1967 in Vietnam, where he was a prisoner of war, to 2008, when he was running for the presidency of the USA, we can learn a lot from how the media treated John McCain then and how the media operate today. Consider the role of that bastion of liberal ideals, The Atlantic.

Its October 2008 cover story was titled “Why War is His Answer – Inside the Mind of John McCain” and the author was one Jeffrey Goldberg. But because a picture is worth more than ten thousand of Goldberg’s words, the role of the snapper hired to do the (hit) job on McCain tells us as much as we need to know. The operative was Jill Greenberg, who styles herself as @jillmanipulator on Twitter, and here’s how she deployed her manipulative skills to take the photo that so tarnished the McCain campaign:

When The Atlantic called Jill Greenberg, a committed Democrat, to shoot a portrait of John McCain for its October cover, she rubbed her hands with glee…

After getting that shot, Greenberg asked McCain to “please come over here” for one more set-up before the 15-minute shoot was over. There, she had a beauty dish with a modeling light set up. “That’s what he thought he was being lit by,” Greenberg says. “But that wasn’t firing.”

What was firing was a strobe positioned below him, which cast the horror movie shadows across his face and on the wall right behind him. “He had no idea he was being lit from below,” Greenberg says. And his handlers didn’t seem to notice it either. “I guess they’re not very sophisticated,” she adds.

So, when you hear any of this lot eulogising the late John McCain, take note that they were again him before they were for him.

John McCain

Charles Krauthammer, RIP

Friday, 22 June, 2018

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer, died yesterday. He was 68. The cause was cancer of the small intestine. On 8 June, explaining what he called his 10-month “uncharacteristic silence,” Krauthammer revealed in The Post that despite surgery for the tumour last August, cancer had recurred and that he had only weeks to live.

“This is the final verdict,” he wrote. “My fight is over.”

Charles Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist and self-described Great Society Democrat metamorphosed into one of America’s most persuasive conservative voices. He originated the phrase “the Reagan Doctrine” for the president’s strategy of going beyond the policy of containment to actively encourage anti-communist insurgencies. He coined the term “unipolarity” to describe the era of American power after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, and he diagnosed as “Bush Derangement Syndrome” the response many people had to the presidency and even the very existence of George W. Bush.

This is from Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics:

“For the Europeans there really is a peace dividend, because we provide the peace. They can afford social democracy without the capacity to defend themselves because they can always depend on the United States.

So why not us as well? Because what for Europe is decadence — decline, in both comfort and relative safety — is for us mere denial. Europe can eat, drink and be merry for America protects her. But for America it’s different. If we choose the life of ease, who stands guard for us?”

Trump vs. Media: 100 Days of Trust and Mistrust

Saturday, 29 April, 2017 0 Comments

American adults trust President Trump more than the national political media, according to a poll released yesterday. Thirty-seven percent trust the White House against 29 percent who believe the political media in the Morning Consult survey (PDF). Thirty-four percent are unsure or have no opinion.

Morning Consult found that nearly half say the national political media is tougher on Trump than past presidential administrations. Forty-eight percent said America’s political journalists are harder on Trump, compared with 16 percent who say they are easier. Twenty-three percent say they are “about the same,” while 13 percent have no opinion.

Yesterday’s results found a slight majority who say the national political media is “out of touch with everyday Americans.” Twenty-eight percent said it “understands the challenges everyday Americans are facing,” and 21 percent were undecided.

Morning Consult conducted its survey of 2,006 US adults via online interviews from 25 to 26 April. It has a margin of error of two percentage points.

Ending the North Korean horror show

Monday, 17 April, 2017 0 Comments

It is, said the late Christopher Hitchens in 2010, “the world’s most hysterical and operatic leader-cult.” He was speaking about North Korea, and he was doing so after reading The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters by B.R. Myers. It matters more than ever because Pyongyang threatens regional security more than ever and a generation of world leaders that has dared not watch this ghastly horror show must now face up to the final act. Today, US Vice-President Mike Pence said that America’s “era of strategic patience” with North Korea is over. Good.

The Cleanest Race One can, of course, understand why the world has looked the other way. Who wants to pay the price of battling a death cult? B.R. Myers points out that many of the slogans displayed by the North Korean state are borrowed directly from the evil kamikaze ideology of Japanese imperialism and every North Korean child is told every day of the magnificent possibility of death in the service of the motherland and taught not to fear the idea of nuclear war.

Along with perpetual militarism, North Korean totalitarianism is particularly frightening because its racist nationalism is expressed in gigantic mausoleums and mass parades that blend pure Stalinism with perverted Confucianism. The state’s permanent mobilization is maintained by slave labour and is based on a dogma of xenophobia. There can be little doubt that the regime believes its own propaganda and this suggests that the endless peace talks and disarmament negotiations are an utter and dangerous waste of time.

Since its creation, North Korea has kept its wretched subjects in ignorance and fear and has brainwashed them in the hatred of others. The world can no longer tolerate this repudiation of civilization. The show must end.

Bernie’s excellent video

Friday, 29 January, 2016 0 Comments

The prize for the best presidential campaign video so far goes to Democratic Party hopeful Bernie Sanders. The appeal of “America | Bernie Sanders” is heightened by the use of the song America by Simon & Garfunkel from their Bookends album. According to Marc Eliot, author of Paul Simon: A Life: “America creates a cinematic vista that tells of the singer’s search for a literal and physical America that seems to have disappeared, along with the country’s beauty and ideals.” (That was 48 years ago.)

“Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together.
I’ve got some real estate here in my bag…

…Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America.”

By the way, Bookends was released in 1968, the year of the Olympics in Mexico City, where Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two US medalists, gave the black power salute during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Also in 1968, the Black Panther Party declared that every member had to study Mao Tse-tung’s Little Red Book “to advance his or her knowledge of peoples’ struggle and the revolutionary process.” Bernie Sanders has never publicly expressed admiration for Mao, but he joined the Young People’s Socialist League, the youth affiliate of the Socialist Party of America, while at the University of Chicago in the 1960s. You’d never think it when looking at “America | Bernie Sanders”, though. The “peoples’ struggle” has changed, but the song is still the same.

Transatlantic thoughts on Thanksgiving

Thursday, 28 November, 2013 0 Comments

Much to the chagrin of the traitor Snowden and the tyrant Putin, another Thanksgiving has come around and, despite their worst efforts, the United States persists. And it will, to the despair of those who have made a trade out of wishing for its decline and fall. Typical of this lot is Al Jazeera America, which shed crocodile tears recently with “The consequences of US decline.” The fons et origo of this recurrent irrationality is, of course, the Guardian, and it piled in earlier in the year with “Decline and fall: how American society unravelled.” To understand what’s behind this wishful thinking, it’s worth rereading an essay that Hannah Arendt wrote in 1954 for Commentary Magazine.

Europe and America: Dream and Nightmare” was originally part of a series of talks at Princeton University on the Transatlantic relationship. Arendt asked: “What image does Europe have of America?” She answered that the image is based on two myths. Firstly, America is less the New World than the personification of the Old World, the place where European dreams of equality and liberty are realized; secondly, America is the land of plenty. It is this second myth that powers the anti-Americanism of European liberals, even as it inspires the poor.

Decline “As a result,” of this myth, Arendt writes, “sympathy for America today can be found, generally speaking, among those people whom Europeans call ‘reactionary,’ whereas an anti-American posture is one of the best ways to prove oneself a liberal.” And so it is 58 years after Hannah Arendt’s “Europe and America: Dream and Nightmare” was published. Except that there’s a new myth doing the rounds: American decline. For all engaged in peddling declinism, Josef Joffe has some sobering news. The publisher-editor of the German weekly, Die Zeit, exposes The Canard of Decline in the November/December issue of The American Interest.

The source of modern declinism, says Joffe, can be found in “the serial massacre that was World War I,” the horrific slaughter that revealed “the evil face of technology triumphant.” The same laboratories that produced the blessings of pharmacology invented poison gas. The scientists who created good also enabled evil. The result was an anti-scientific theory about the “death of progress” took hold in Europe. America, however, the epitome of progress, is the embodiment of the rebuke to that theory. Josef Joffe writes:

“Technology and plenty, the critics of the Enlightenment argued, would not liberate the common man, but enslave him in the prison of ‘false consciousness’ built by the ruling elites. The new despair of the former torchbearers of progress may well be the reason that declinism flourishes on both Left and Right. This new ideological kinship alone does not by itself explain any of the five waves of American declinism, but it has certainly broadened its appeal over time.”

Decline, writes Joffe, ‘is as American as apple pie.” But for the day that’s in it, we’ll have a slice of pecan pie and wish all our American readers a happy Thanksgiving.

Pecan pie