Category Archives: America

About American politics, our spirit, and our soul

Why the turkey is not our national bird, and why America belongs to us

Thanksgiving is one of America’s few meaningful holidays in a nation that has been blessed with incredible natural resources and even more incredible good luck at key points in our history. But our greatest resource is one we have built for ourselves: America’s strong social cohesion. Our ability to stand together has carried us through the severe crises of the past two centuries.

Now a new time of crisis begins, and as always centrifugal forces appear to alienate us from our past and from each other. This makes us easy to lead.

Thanksgiving offers an opportunity to remember who we are, coming together to celebrate — and recall our shared history and remember that America belongs to us. No matter how powerful our foes, foreign and domestic, we can are responsible for America and the ability to win.

See Christopher Lasch’s work for an intellectual analysis of this, especially The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy (1994). For a musical explanation suitable for Thanksgiving see the “The Egg” by Sherman Edwards from the play “1776”. It explains why we have the eagle as our national bird — not the turkey or the dove. It’s well worth five minutes of your time.

Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Continue reading

The unspoken issue of the election: America’s descent into darkness

Summary:  Perhaps the most valuable information, & the most difficult to obtain, is not that about the world, but about ourselves. Hence these posts seeking “mirrors” in which we can see how we have changed and what we’ve become. This post looks at the results of the war on terror. Not the effects on the terrorists (who seem either unaffected or even stronger) but on our national character. It’s the most important issue never to be mentioned during this campaign.

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
— Aphorism 146 in Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

Statue of Liberty in the darkness


Assassination of jihadist leaders. Torture by the CIA, added by doctors. Torture in Abu Ghraib prison. A mass campaign of assassination, even including American citizens. Etc, etc; we all know the list. After 14 years of moral decay we have become a New America. But we were warned about the danger of this path.

“The French … The Israelis … The Americans … {these deeds} proving that he who fights terrorists for any period of time is likely to become one himself.”
— Martin van Creveld in The Transformation of War: The Most Radical Reinterpretation of Armed Conflict Since Clausewitz (1991).

We concealed this transformation from ourselves — if not from others — with hypocrisy, as describe in “The Uses of al-Qaeda” by Richard Seymour in the London Review of Books, 13 September 2012.

Alan Krueger’s authoritative What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism (2007) was notable for being unable to define its subject. Krueger admits that it might have been as well to discard the word in favour of the more cumbersome ‘politically motivated violence carried out by sub-state actors with the goal of spreading fear within the population’.

This excludes state violence, narrowing the field to insurgency or subversion of various kinds, but not all insurgent groups that Krueger – or the State Department – calls ‘terrorist’ make it a strategic priority to target civilian populations. Insofar as they do, they don’t necessarily differ in their methods from state actors. In the ‘war on terror’, a cardinal claim of ‘civilised’ states was that, unlike their opponents, they did not target civilians. Suicide attacks cause indiscriminate slaughter and are an indicator of barbarism; surgical strikes are the gentle civilisers of nations. There is little evidence for a distinction of that sort in the prosecution of recent wars.

Continue reading

Americans trust the military most. 29% are ready for a coup. Ready for fascism?

Summary: Americans’ support for key institutions of the public collapses, as we trust only the military and police. We don’t need to ask Nostradamus; we can easily see the possible consequences — if we thought about it. Internet discussions might not be the only thing that ends with fascism (Godwin’s Law), or some other form of tyranny.

Broken trust

First, the bad news

Gallup’s annual Confidence in Institutions poll shows that Americans’ support for the institutions of the Republic and our elected officials have been falling for generations  (their first poll was 1973) — except for police (the second most trusted) and the military (#1). For details see Gallup warns us to prepare for fascism!

A YouGov poll on September 2-3 confirms these findings, with more detail. Ugly details.

Continue reading

Why do so many new-born babies die unnecessarily in America, the City on a Hill?

Summary: America has wealth and power never before seen in history. Yet the 1% reap the gains of our astonishing productivity while an underclass grows in our cities and rural areas. This post looks at one aspect of this, the price paid by American babies for our national mismanagement. There is no point in getting angry about this — unless you decide to act.

For we must consider that we shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword though the world.

— John Winthrop in A Model of Christian Charity (1630).

America: City on a Hill


Why is Infant Mortality Higher
in the U.S. Than in Europe?

NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health, 2015 (1)

Graphics and red emphasis added.


The U.S. infant mortality rate (IMR) compares unfavorably to that of other developed countries, ranking 51st in the world in 2013. In the U.S., there are nearly 7 infant deaths during the first year of life per 1000 live births, roughly twice the rate in Scandinavian countries. The U.S. IMR is similar to that of Croatia, despite a three-fold difference in GDP per capita.

What explains the U.S.’s relatively high IMR? This is the subject of a new NBER working paper by researchers Alice Chen, Emily Oster, and Heidi Williams, “Why is Infant Mortality Higher in the U.S. Than in Europe?” (NBER, September 2014).

There are numerous theories as to why the IMR is higher in the U.S. than in other countries.

  • There may be reporting differences for infants born near the threshold of viability, with the U.S. more likely to count them as live births while other countries are more likely to count them as miscarriages or stillbirths.
  • Babies in the U.S. also may have lower birth weight or a lower gestational age at birth, predisposing them to worse outcomes.
  • U.S. babies may experience a higher neonatal mortality rate (deaths within the first month of life) or higher post-neonatal mortality rate (deaths in months 1 – 12) than do babies of similar birth weight and gestational age in other countries.

To quantify the importance of these potential sources of the U.S. IMR disadvantage, the authors combine natality micro-data from the U.S. with similar data from Finland and Austria. These countries provide a useful comparison because Finland has one of the lowest IMRs in the world and Austria has an IMR similar to much of continental Europe.

To address the reporting difference issue, the authors limit their sample to infants born after 22 weeks of gestation with birth weight over 500 grams, since births are required to be reported above these thresholds. They also limit the analysis to singleton births, as access to reproductive technologies has increased the frequency of multiple births, which have higher mortality rates.

Making these restrictions reduces the U.S. IMR disadvantage by about 40%, but a substantial disadvantage remains. In this sample, the U.S. IMR is 4.65 per 1000, versus 2.94 in Austria and 2.64 in Finland.  See the graph…

Continue reading

Remember the Ebola hysteria. What did we learn from it?

Summary: Sierra Leone has discharged it last known Ebola patient, bringing this Ebola epidemic almost to its end. We should learn from this episode. Not just about the need for vigilance and well-funded defenses against plagues, but also what it reveals about America. About us.

Ebola & the New World Order

Don your tin foil hat and click here to watch!

In April 2009 I wrote Are Americans easily panicked cowards? I think not, but many experts disagree. How we’ve responded to Ebola during the last year suggests my optimism was wrong.

I recommend reading this first post after Ebola arrived in America: An epidemic afflicting America: fear about Ebola. Avoid the carriers. Facts are the antidote. It describes the first wave of hysteria that swept America, which grew worse as more cases were discovered. Our top medical experts were ignored as tens of millions listened instead to alarmists exploiting people’s fear for their own purposes (mostly political).

Remembering is the fist step to learning. We can do better. But only if we try.

Other posts about Ebola

Continue reading

Julian Assange trapped & smeared. Wikileaks weakened. Mission accomplished for CIA?

Summary: Never say the US government can’t accomplish anything! Julian Assange of Wikileaks has been smeared with dubious (at best) charges and trapped in Equador’s embassy for the past 5 years by the Swedish and British governments. Coincidence or mission accomplished? Review the story and decide.

“A just city should favor justice and the just, hate tyranny and injustice, and give them both their just desserts.”
Al-Farabi (aka Alpharabius), Islamic philosopher and scientist (872-950).

The Swedish government closed the flimsy investigation of sexual assault as the the statute of limitations runs out. The limit on the obviously bogus rape investigation has 5 more years to run.

Both Sweden and Britain refused to guarantee that they would not extradite Assange to the United State — to receive the kangaroo court justice typical of our national security cases.

Assange sought refuge in Equador’s London embassy. They granted him a well-deserved political asylum on 19 July 2012. Since then Britain has spent over $17 million to keep Julian Assange from escaping from the Ecuadorian Embassy. No price is too great for UK taxpayers to pay when serving the needs of the USA! Britain intends to whine about this to Ecuador.

The Swedish government says that their investigation requires an interview with Assange, but they refuses to interview Assange in London. The Guardian describes their sorry excuses and stalling…

Continue reading