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- (December 2000)
Bush imperils world's economy and peace to reward his mentors.
George W Bush is committed to "bipartisan" politics but the first actions
he takes are 1. A large tax cut and 2. The missile defense, two of the
most controversial topics in recent memory. Why would anyone risk his
already low popularity with such divisive issues? Why would anyone risk
to, respectively, 1. Cause a budget deficit after Clinton finally produced a
budget surplus and 2. Cause a new world-wide arms race after Clinton finally
reduced defense spending? Why undo two popular victories of the Clinton
administration, just to create the premises for financial and international
crises? And just after promising to work with the Democrats on non-controversial
issues? Commentators who are puzzled by George W Bush's agenda forget how he
was elected: he got loads of money from powerful godfathers. Those godfathers
now want to see the return to their investment. Bush owes his presidency to
the large corporations and to the arms manufacturers. He owes them billions
of dollars, and the way he can deliver is by cutting taxes and by increasing
defense spending. That has to be his first priority: jeopardize the country's
economy and world peace in order to pay his personal debt to the powerful
forces that got him elected.
An expert in the missile defense project declared that
"Until the technology is improved, a strategic missile defense would simply
be a huge financial cost with no certain benefit." He missed the point:
what Bush wants is the huge financial cost, not necessarily a working defense
system. It's the money, stupid!
Since both issues are so controversial, they are unlikely to pass both
house and senate. Unless... there is a recession. Bush is likely to
engineer an economic recession in America to make sure that Congress
will pass his tax cut and his strategic missile defense program.
Faced with a recession, Congress will have no choice: Americans
will demand action to boost the economy, and any third-world country
knows that tax cuts and free spending are the way a government
can boost the national economy.
Engineering a recession is very easy for a president: all he has to do
is start talking about it. Just like Clinton engineered an economic
expansion by injecting confidence in the country, Bush can engineer
an economic recession by injecting pessimism in the country.
All he has to do, basically, is start talking about a recession.
If the president himself does not believe in the economy, why would
anybody else? This will have a snowball effect that will eventually
result in a recession. And then Bush will get his tax cut and his
defense spending, and then Bush's godfathers will be appeased.
Politics is that simple.
- (November 2000)
The United States is singled out as world's largest polluter.
American politicians like to talk about protecting the environment
and American citizens exhibit a unique hypocrisy (wasting more than
anybody else but pretending that they "recycle" and therefore they
should be absolved).
In 1997 the United States signed an international treaty to reduce
polluting waste. Easier said than done: the only way to accomplish it
would be to raise taxes on energy, so that Americans learn to save
energy and pollute less. Unfortunately, that also means upsetting
American citizens who are used to waste as much as possible
(In 2000, Americans even
complained that gasoline price went up, even if it remains the lowest
in the western world).
At the Hague conference, Americans have outraged the rest of the world:
when the world asked them to abide by the agreement they signed in 1997,
Americans simply proposed that they would buy pollution from other countries.
In other words, every country must stay within a "quota" of pollution.
The United States vastly exceed that quota. But, for example, Ethiopia
pollutes far less than its allowed quota. So the United States
would like to give Ethiopia some money and be allowed to pollute for the quota
that Ethiopia does not use.
In other words, "I'll pollute for anybody who does not".
one of the biggest problems of the United
Unfortunately, that is also one American problem that becomes the problem of the
entire planet, because gas emissions spread everywhere, they don't stay just
- (November 2000)
Democracy in the United States: the loser wins.
So much for democracy: the democratic candidate for president won more votes
than the republican candidate, but the republican becomes president;
the democratic candidates for senator won more votes than the republican
c.andidates for senator, but the senate is going to be republican;
the democratic candidates for the house of representatives (the parliament)
won more votes than the republican candidates, but the house is going to
The United States of America has become a republican dictatorship
even if the will of the people was obviously the exact opposite.
It takes the very convoluted logic of republican lawyers (who have sued just
about everybody everywhere) to still call
this country a "democracy". By that definition, Cuba is also a democracy.
- (November 2000)
Money buys George W Bush the presidency. When they
started, there were
four: Bush was in trouble with McCain, Gore was in trouble with Bradley.
Every citizen with even a passing knowledge of the candidates knew that
McCain and Bradley were much better men than Bush and Gore. But Bush and Gore
had a lot more money to spend, and sure enough Bush and Gore won.
Then it was Bush, whose credentials are almost
nil, against Gore, who may not be a genius but presided over the longest
economic expansion in history. But Bush had a lot more money to spend than
Gore, and Bush did win.
It doesn't take Einstein to figure out the relationship between campaign
funding and the outcome of the election.
What the relationship is between the outcome of the election and the concept
of democracy is far less clear.
Bush didn't even win the popular vote. Most people voted for Gore, but Bush wins
the presidency. Bush's machinery worked and delivered the "states" (not
necessarily the "votes") that elect the president.
Bush won because with his money he was able to buy the best machine.
Gore, on the other hand, lost in Tennessee, his own state. And he
was the vice-president during the longest economic expansion in the history
of the United States. What does it take
for Gore to win the votes of the people who know him best?
Bush supporters rule out voting again in any city, county or state, no matter
how many irregularities surface, and one can only take this as an admission
that Bush would lose any fair election, that Americans
do not want Bush for president.
Bush is behaving like a thief caught stealing: I got the dough, now stop
investigating how I got it.
Gore, on the other hand, refuses to acknowledge that every election is flawed,
and the "winner" is simply the one who is declared the winner, not necessarily
the one whom people meant to vote for. The very elections that brought Clinton
and Gore to the White House were flawed, those very elections depended on
Ross Perot "stealing" votes from their opponents, those very elections never
gave Clinton-Gore the majority of the popular vote. But Clinton-Gore were
the winners, and the whole country accepted it without arguing. If you don't
like the constitution, change it. Don't whine after you lost. Gore never
complained while he was winning.
Bush keeps saying that he trusts the people, but the last thing he wants to
do is listen to the people, who voted against him and his party country-wide.
Even in Florida, it doesn't take a political genius to realize that Gore+Nader
beat Bush+Buchanan by a large margin, and it takes simple arithmetics to
realize that the majority of Floridians did not vote for Bush, contrary
to what he claimed.
Gore, the very technocrat who wrote books about the wonderful benefits of
computers, does not trust machine recounts and requires hand recounts.
Gore has forgotten that the beauty of machines is that they take no side:
if they make mistakes, they make them in a random manner, favoring neither
If it helped him win, Gore would even renege the Internet.
Bush has showed his arrogance and disrespect for the constitution
and the people by declaring victory before the vote counting was completed, and
before a few thousand absentee votes were received, and
regardless of the outcome.
Fidel Castro could not have done it better.
Gore has showed his arrogance and disrespect for the constitution
by turning the mistakes of a few Florida voters into a case
for armies of lawyers. It is not "every vote counts", but "every lawyer
Bush will be one of the few western leaders, if not the only one, who was
once arrested and was once a drug user. In other words, he is an ex criminal.
What a moral standard to lead the free world in
its crusade against corruption and drugs.
What an improvement over Bill Clinton's sexual escapades.
Not to mention Bush's dismal record as governor of a third-world state.
Gore, who has been vice-president for eight years and a Washington politician
all of his life, Gore, who should have had a tremendous advantage over
Gore could have won the presidency only by stealing votes from Nader,
a far better man
whom many millions of Americans would have voted for if only they had been
given a chance. Unfortunately, the supreme soviet of the Communist Party...
oops, I meant "the convention of the Democratic Party", picked Gore.
One would expect these two failed men to be at least humble, and realize
that they are there only because of the money that put them there.
The problem is that both know they won't get a second chance. Gore knows
that the American people will always remember him as the "sore loser" who
dragged the country into this mess. Bush knows that he would never win a fair
Gore knows that he will never win an election again.
Bush knows that he will never win an election again.
They are both ruined, finished, delegitimized, politicians even before starting.
Both Gore and Bush are extremely selfish and amoral politicians, who
do not deserve to become president of the most powerful country
in the world. More than anything else, they are just names behind two formidable
political organizations that have spent millions of dollars to get them elected,
and organizations that represent billions of dollars in special interests.
Those organizations cannot afford to lose.
- During his campaign, Gore introduced himself as the candidate who
represented the everyman, who had nothing to do with corporate America. At the
latest count, he has dispatched some 70 laywers to Florida. So much for the
- During his campaign, Bush candidly admitted that he is ignorant of the
issues, but promised he would 1. unify the country and 2.
respect the sovereignity of the states. So far he has divided the country as
it has not been since the civil war, and he has sued the state of
Florida in a federal court for not obeying his orders. And he isn't even
the president yet.
- (October 2000)
The dirty business of AIDS medicine was highlighted by a lawsuit filed
on October 2000 by Immune Response, a California-based corporation,
against two researchers
who conducted a study on AIDS victims, found no benefits from taking an AIDS
drug produced by the company, and published the results on a scientific journal.
Apparently, when the company realized that the data were proving that AIDS
patients were gaining no benefits from this (very expensive) drug, they tried
to hide the data (which are still mostly unavailable).
Then they threatened to sue the researchers if they made public
any of the data.
The researchers went ahead and published whatever data they still had
in the journal and
the company sued them for millions of dollars in damage.
This is a case in which the researchers resisted pressions from the industry
and still published the results of their studies. One wonders how many
of these cases will never be known, because the researchers simply decide
to protect their careers and families and forget about the dismal results
of an experiment. One wonders how many companies are getting richer by selling
ineffective drugs to AIDS or other fatally sick patients.
One wonders if there is any law at all protecting truth from the scheming of
the medical industry.
- (October 2000)
A vote for Nader is a vote for Nader. The Democratic Party is using a
"scare tactic" to steal votes from Ralph Nader's Green Party. The theory is that
a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush, because it may help elect George W Bush.
Therefore the Greens should vote for Gore, not because they like Gore but
because they dislike Bush more.
For those who didn't study mathematics, it may be worth rephrasing the
Democratic Party's theory. There are three possibilities. The first one is
that George W Bush
has already won the election, with or without the votes of Ralph Nader's
supporters. In this case a vote for Gore is a wasted vote. You would have voted
for somebody you didn't like and you would have taken away a vote from the
candidate you liked, thereby keeping Nader from winning 5% of the votes.
The second possibility is that Al Gore has already won the election, with or
without the votes of Nader supporters. In this case, too, betraying your faith
and vote for Gore would be useless. The third possibility is that the
race is still undecided, and in that case your vote could elect Gore or Bush.
But nobody knows which of the three options apply. Nobody can know a priori
whether we are in scenario one, two or three. Therefore the statistical chances
that your vote helps Bush are very low: only if we are in scenario three (most
polls show that in most states we are in scenario one or two).
They ask you to sacrifice your conscience and the very values of the American
democracy for the unlikely case that your vote would count to keep
Bush out of the White House.
Nader is certainly the most honest of the three main candidates. Nader may not
be as competent and experienced as Gore, and may not be as much a leader as
Bush as proven to be. But,
if you believe that Nader is your
man, you should vote for him and not be influenced by the Democratic Party's
Gore supporters argue that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.
By the same token, a Nader supporter could claim that a vote for Gore is a
vote for Bush: vote Nader and Bush won't be elected.
(After-election note: Gore lost the presidency because he lost his own
state, Tennessee, not because of Nader).
- (October 2000)
What is democratic about this election?
Americans are called to elect a president, and the choice is basically between
George Bush or Al Gore. There are almost 300 million Americans. Who has decided
that only two of those 300 million, and specifically those two (coincidentally
both very rich and sons of famous politicians, and hardly representative of
real America), are entitled to become
president? Did Americans vote to pick Bush and Gore? Most Americans didn't
even know them before the convention that nominated them. Are they America's
favorites? Quite the contrary: poll after poll shows that most Americans don't
like either, that most Americans are just struggling to pick the lesser evil.
In communist countries, it was customary to have similar elections. The
communist party would nominate a candidate, and then the people were asked
to vote for him. Those were elections with only one candidate.
America has improved over that model: there are two candidates, not only one.
But the rest is eerily similar: the parties have decided those two candidates.
What is democratic about Americans being forced to choose between two
candidates that were chosen without any respect for the will of the American
- (May 2000)
Murder declines nationwide...not!
According to the FBI, murder has fallen 59.4% since its peak in 1991.
This statistic tells us very little, as similar gains are registered
in every state and throughout the western world. It is normal in
times of prosper economy and full employment that crime-related
murder drops dramatically. It has always happened. A more interesting
story is: did crime decline in the US to the levels of other western
countries? The answer is no. If you live in the US, you have to be
prepared to be murdered. Even at today's "low" murder rate, a person
who spends 80 years in the US has a 15% chance of being murdered,
as opposed to 0.04% chance in Germany.
Just multiply the number of murders time 80 and divide by the population.
Secondly, the crime rate has not declined uniformly throughout the
country: it has declined a lot in large cities, especially New York and
Washington. Drops in those cities account for a big chunk of the overall
drop (those cities, incidentally, are the ones that issued strict gun
laws over the last decade). If you don't count large cities with strict
gun laws, the drop in murder would be far less exciting.
Thirdly, and far more telling, has "senseless" murder declined? By "senseless"
we mean the almost exclusively American type of murder whereby a perfectly
normal citizen walks into a restaurant or office or school and shoots everybody
on sight. If you are not involved in drugs, chances of being killed by
a professional criminal are slim. If you are murdered, it will be
a colleague or a neighbor or a relative who will shoot you.
This type of crime has not declined. In fact, instances of shootings in
public offices by so called (after the fact) "deranged" individuals are
at an all-time high.
If you are a drug trafficker, you are less likely to be murdered because
crime-related murder has declined.
If you are a honest law-abiding citizen, you are more likely to be murdered
in your home, at work or in the post office because that type of murder
Can you call it "safer times"?
- (March 2000)
What do the United States, China and Iran have in common?
They are among the few countries that still execute people. Foreigners wonder:
how can the United States lecture anybody in the world when the United States
rank with rogue countries around the world in executions?
Some Americans fail to see that outrage in the world for the death penalty is
no different than outrage for Saddam's or Milosevic's atrocities.
How can the United
States lecture other countries in human rights when it executes 75 people
a year (1999)? America ranks with China and Iran among the countries with
the death penalty, and barely trails them in number of executions.
Soon, a resolution will be submitted to the United Nations asking for a
world-wide ban on the death penalty, just like there are world-wide bans
against chemical weapons and landmines: the United States will officially
become a rogue country, in violation of international law. What moral authority
can the United States assert in the world when it is in violation of
elementary principles of civilization?
Statistics show that the death penalty is even counterproductive: a 2000
FBI report shows that homicide rates have been consistently lower in states
without the death penalty. The homicide rate in states with the death penalty
has always been higher (sometimes as much as 100% higher) than in states
without the death penalty.
The South accounts for over 80% of the US' executions and still has the
highest number of homicides: are southerners genetically evil or is the
death penalty a factor that increases the number of homicides?
In a 1995 study, 100% of criminologists and 85% of police chiefs said that
politicians support the death penalty to show that they are tough on crime.
94% of criminologists and 79% of police chiefs believed that the death penalty
does not significantly reduce the murder rate.
Police chiefs listed five factors that would be more effective than the
death penalty to deter crime (one of them being gun control).
Countries in Europe that have long abolished the death penalty have a far
lower murder rate than the US.
Can please psychologists start
studying why so many Americans favor the death penalty? What kind
of terribly dangerous frustrations keep this barbaric practice in use?
Isn't it time that we try to heal this very sick people before their
psychoses explode in a devastating manner?
Would you trust a country that still practices cannibalism with an arsenal
of nuclear weapons?
- (February 2000)
The USA biotechnical industry is jeopardizing life on this planet
Bio-food is being boycotted all over the world, but the US still claims that
this is a case of unfair trade and wants the European Union and other
trade unions to remove any barrier against "artificial" (genetically modified)
crops. It is shameless that the US government is defending the thesis of
greedy, reckless capitalists: the advantage of artificial crops is simply
that the companies would make bigger profits. Nobody has even tried to claim
that there is an advantage to the health of consumers. On the other hand,
it should be fairly obvious what the disavantages are: every artificial crop
releases in the environments a new batch of genes, that did not previously
exist. Those genes can mutate and spread, in particular through pollination.
There is no cure for a gene gone wrong: it will spread forever.
To realize the impact of genetic engineering one has to realize that,
traditionally, cross-breeding, as performed in every farm in the world,
worked only between plants of closely related species. The effects on the
environment were, by definition, contained. But now genetic engineering
is capable of creating plants which have a wildly different behavior from
the originals. Genes are already causing the extinction of animal species: some
have been designed to repel insects and those insects will be decimated
within a few years. Genetic pollution is not a possibility, it is already
a reality: nothing can stop those genes from spreading around the globe
and exterminating billions of insects. We may not care, or even be happy,
that those insects are exterminated (although some butterflies are,
accidentally, among them) but it proves that those genes can have devastating
effects on the ecosystem. Other species are feeding right now on those
insects: they will be the next to go. And other species are feeding on those
species, and so on and so on. Eventually, it will get to the top of the
organic chain. And guess which species sits at the top, and depends on
the entire chain to work properly?
Even if genetically engineered food is not directly harmful to humans,
its consequences on the environment are.
And, by the way, if genetically engineered food is not directly harmful to
humans, why in heaven is the biotech industry so opposed to label genetically
- January-December 1999