Monday, November 14, 2016

And there's a bright side too

Better to have the people who supported Clinton out on the streets demonstrating than the people who supported Trump. This gives hope for the future. And though it's clear that Trump won't carry out even a small fraction of the hate crimes he pledged himself to – he's already walked back most of them – still protesters have every right to oppose his presidency for the words he used to win it. And, hopefully, they have learned how to use Facebook and Twitter to spread the "news" and fan the flames of progressive change.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

President Trump

Those are two words I didn't expect to hear together. I just didn't think that Trump had the numbers to win the election. But then I didn't support Clinton (or any other candidate in this election or the other elections that I recall). All in all, this was a very interesting election that once again demonstrates the weakness of political democracy. The person who won the election lost all three of his debates, making one wonder about the wisdom of the electorate. And now it's quite amusing to hear various commentators and political leaders lauding a system that might better be called 'foolocracy' – and, in particular, the peaceful transition of power – thereby implicitly admitting that they only give lip service to the ethical principles they avow.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Critical mass

The Trump campaign's meltdown now seems to have reached critical mass. Not to suggest that Donald Trump is anything other than a despicable human being... though, like anyone else, he must have some redeeming qualities... at this stage, just about any woman who may have met the man could start to have memories of Trump molesting her. That is not to suggest that those memories are not real or even that Trump did not do what is remembered. But memories are not always trustworthy. Indeed, they are often no more trustworthy than Trump (or Clinton). The problem for the Trump campaign is that these allegations tend to be substantiated by Trump's own undeniable, recorded words. So there is really nothing at all that Trump can say that will alter people's readiness to believe the worst about him. And that, in my opinion, is why Trump stands no chance of winning the election. Indeed, even his business interests may end up suffering. Arguments that Trump has not been running for office as pope but rather as president are simply idiotic. Both popes and presidents are role models who also have considerable executive authority. As such, both are expected to embody at least a minimal degree of human decency.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

VP debate

Unlike most commentators, the VP candidates impressed me with their similarity to their running mate rather than their contrast to their running mate. Like Clinton, Kaine came across as too much substance with too little style. Like Trump, Pence came across as too much style with too little substance. I don't think either of them won the debate or advanced their party's ticket, not to a significant detriment of the opposing party. For a polarized electorate, Kaine didn't make Hillary seem any more likable, and Pence didn't make Trump seem any more sensible. Kaine should have been more laid back, and Pence should have been more prepared with facts. That probably would not have made any positive difference in respect to the election (any more than the election is likely to make any positive difference in respect to the deplorable state of American or global society), but the debate might have been more enjoyable and informative.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


By no means is the following any kind of endorsement for Hillary Clinton, but...

In his first debate with Hillary, Donald Trump offered Americans and the world a lot of food for thought in respect to his candidacy and the entire system of capitalism. At one point in the debate, Hillary suggested that Donald has not released his tax records because they reveal that he did not pay any taxes or even give any money to charity. Donald effectively admitted that Hillary was right by responding with: "That makes me smart."

Leaving aside any criminal aspects of tax evasion, it seems that Donald does not understand that the president is a role model. So what would happen if the entire population of the USA were to be as selfishly smart as Donald? Obviously, no one would pay taxes. And if no one pays taxes, then Donald's federal government would have no money to pay off any debt or implement any social, economic, political, or military program, including Donald's secret plan to defeat ISIS and his not-so-secret plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico (unless, of course, Mexico actually does pay for that wall... in advance). Pretty soon, the US would look worse than any Third-World country. And that's how Donald would make America great again. What Donald has not yet admitted (but implicitly and repeatedly demonstrates) is that he wants to make America great only for his personal business interests.

So here we have tremendous insight into not just what sort of president Donald would be but also what sort of principles capitalism promotes. Can anyone believe that Donald would not exploit his power for the primary purpose of extending his personal wealth? According to Donald's avowed standards, failure to do so would not be smart.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Saint or sinner

Around 1977, I lived for almost a year in Kolkata. Several times I visited Mother Teresa's flagship project, her home for the dying in Kalighat, Nirmal Hriday. Each time I went, I was appalled by what I saw. Clearly, almost none of the many millions of dollars that were raised for that project actually went into the project. (Apparently, almost all of the money was passed along to the Pope.)

Conditions at Nirmal Hriday were primitive. And, despite the name of the project ("pure heart"), the treatment of patients was so heartless and substandard that the place should have been shut down by the government. But, of course, that never happened. Jyoti Basu (the communist and atheist Chief Minister of West Bengal) and Mother Teresa (the Catholic nun) were friends. They pretended to have a common love for the poor, each basking in the other's popularity.

That same year, I also met personally with Teresa. I formally requested her support for nothing more than a high-level and independent investigation into the alleged poisoning of Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar by a prison doctor. She flatly refused to endorse that.

So what I can say about Mother Teresa is this. Despite her religious guise – and possibly because of her religious dogma – Teresa was a very worldly person. If she was a saint, then she was the first saint who never opposed - who always propped up and who was in turn propped up by - any sundry governmental or religious authority.

Friday, June 24, 2016


Not that I don't love England, but now that Brexit is official...
Go Scotland, go!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Is Rachel Landers the Hilton bomber?

A PDF copy of the new Rachel Landers book, Who Bombed The Hilton? (published by NewSouth Publishing), has been acquired. And if Rachel Landers did not bomb the Hilton Hotel back in 1978, then she certainly did it now (metaphorically speaking). A cursory glance at the content of Rachel's book reveals it to be highly noxious and peppered with obscenities. The only definite conclusions to be reached from the book are about the author herself. Rachel Landers is clearly a troubled person, both delusional and obsessed.

Who Bombed The Hilton? is an opportunistic, bottom-feeding book. It is based almost entirely on double or triple hearsay and feckless conjecture. Someone may or may not have said something to the police. The police filed a report to the government that may or may not be an accurate representation of the testimony (if any). The government stored in some archives that report, after someone in the government may have redacted it (or even tampered with it). Then, almost 40 years later, Rachel comes along and inspects those archives, selectively extracting and interpreting what suits her fancy (and the fancy of her sponsors). With such flimsy context, on the rare occasions when Rachel admits that something she says is "potential hearsay" or "pure speculation", we know that it is very tenuous indeed. But just scroll down a few paragraphs, and soon you will find Rachel repeating that preposterous fabrication as if it had probative value.

In her epilogue, Rachel tries to compensate for her lazy style of yellow journalism, devoid of human decency. However, in the very first paragraph of that epilogue, wherein she attempts to rationalize her unethical conduct, she only exposes her hypocrisy and ignorance instead. Rachel declares: "When I made the decision to explore the Hilton bombing archive I also made a vow not to trust the living." One can only wonder what source Rachel imagines all of the information in the archive would have emanated from (several decades and several layers of hearsay ago). Were the Special Branch and ASIO using Ouija boards? And one can only wonder what makes those moldy documents more appealing to Rachel than the living people who generated them and, even more important, the living people who were given no voice, no representation, in those documents. What makes those moldy documents more appealing to Rachel than the people still living today, the people whose privacy Rachel blithely violates, the people whom Rachel nonchalantly defames, not even taking the trouble to speak with them and hear their side of the story?

There is good reason why legal systems around the world stand on the fundamental human right to a presumption of innocence. Sadly, Rachel did not consider ethics before she reopened this scar on the psyche of Australia. Rachel tells us that former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser advised her that this is "a stupid topic to research and instead of wasting [her] time trying to winnow out the truth of the bombing [she] should be focusing on the contemporary plight of refugees". The honorable Mr. Fraser had it right. The plight of refugees is indeed horrific, and Australia's treatment of refugees is utterly deplorable. Furthermore, as it turned out, the Landers book is little more than a regurgitation of unsubstantiated opinions and a shameless exhibition of bigotry.

At the very end of Rachel's book, just before her smarmy epilogue, Rachel tries to buttress her ridiculously weak (in truth, non-existent) case by misrepresenting the content of a 2003 newspaper article in The Weekend Australian of February 8-9. Of course, a newspaper article is hardly evidence; and a misrepresented newspaper article is just a lie. But this final and false assertion made by Rachel epitomizes her book: shallow and biased research distorted by perverted imagination.

Who Bombed the Hilton? is a deceitful hate crime. This travesty of history was released by NewSouth Publishing, the publishing arm of the University of New South Wales Press. That in itself raises a disturbing question as to the standard maintained by the University of New South Wales and ultimately the Government of New South Wales, which commissioned Rachel's shabby work. Shame, shame, shame!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Australia's defamation laws

Last week I had cause to look into Australia's defamation laws. A book was just published in Australia that was undoubtedly defamatory of me (and numerous others).  By the way, my advice to everyone would be not to waste your money on this tripe. There is already a PDF of the complete book circulating on the Internet.

In various interviews subsequent to the publication of the book, the author (Rachel Landers) amplified her attacks on me and eventually, like a Muslim cleric, effectively issued a fatwa against me (when, for the few pieces of silver she would get from selling her piece of fiction as a movie, she advocates my eradication). But I will say more about that book in my next posting. Our topic here is Australia's defamation laws, probably little different from what exists in most or all developed, capitalist countries.

I began my research on the subject at a forum called, which bills itself as "Australia's #1 Legal Community". I posted my question there and was pleased to get a very helpful response soon thereafter. But then things quickly started to go downhill. A fellow by the name of Tim W followed up with a rather useless and non-constructive response, saying little more than that I could hire a lawyer. He later admitted that his advice to me was worth exactly what I paid for it, and I promptly agreed. That is when I found that my postings to the forum were being censored (deleted and ultimately blocked in advance). I said nothing rude or untoward, but - apparently - it is unacceptable on that forum to not appreciate Tim W's shallow words. But I digress. What did I discover about the defamation laws in Australia? Quite simply, they are only congenial to greedy bottom-feeders and wealthy victims who can demonstrate substantial financial loss.

In a case like mine, the author and the publisher might well have dismissed any concern about a defamation lawsuit simply because the cost of losing would be minimal compared to the profits they expected to amass from the defamation. So, if indeed the author or the publisher consulted a lawyer before publishing, their main concern might well have been only how much they would have to pay out if a defamation suit be brought. Once they knew that paltry sum, they probably had all of the information that mattered to them. After all, if they had had any concern for human rights, human dignity, human decency, privacy, justice, or even mere accuracy or factuality, then surely they would have at least contacted me soon after publishing, if not - and much more sensibly - before publishing.