“United We Stand…”

by R J Adams     February 4, 2016 at 10:47pm



Pink Floyd - divided


Living in France isolates one from much that is happening in the world. It’s not that the news is less bleak, though it’s true that very little of it appertains to the country itself, but it seems more impersonal, less involving, than in America or even Britain. Despite the appallingly tragic terrorist crimes in Paris last November, and the Charlie Hebdo massacre before that, people in France don’t appear overly concerned by the threat of terrorism. This is probably because there’s strength in unity, and the French people are united – across the nation, and across party lines.

There’s a piece by Vanessa Barford today in the BBC Magazine, entitled, “Why are Americans so angry?” Having lived there for thirteen years, I find that question easy to answer. Americans no longer have any trust in anything, least of all, themselves as a nation. Sadly, they don’t even trust each other. One constantly hears talk of, “…the good guys and the bad guys…” yet no-one is quite sure just who fits into either category. The ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’ seem to maintain a shadowy co-existence, even within law enforcement.

Americans have lost all sense of security, in themselves and in each other. It’s partly the inevitable result of a Superpower writhing in its death throes and slowly spiraling downwards from the pinnacle of power it once possessed. According to Barford’s report, well under a third of Americans still believe the US, ‘stands above all other countries in the world’, and who do they blame the most? Their government, of course.

Which is not without good reason. The British parliamentary system has its problems, including ever-increasing corruption, but they’re infants at the game compared to their compatriots across the pond. Lining the pocket, stuffing the billfold, the revolving door of politico-corporate career advancement, are all well-practiced arts to US politicians, not just in Washington, but throughout the nation.

The effect has been to polarize the supporters of political parties to a point reminiscent of medieval Britain, where Protestant and Catholics were at each others throats and the idea of inter-marriage was unthinkable.

Barford:

Democrats and Republicans have become more ideologically polarised than ever. The typical (median), Republican is now more conservative in his or her core social, economic and political views than 94% of Democrats, compared with 70% in 1994, according to Pew Research. The median Democrat, meanwhile, is more liberal than 92% of Republicans, up from 64%.
The study also found that the share of Americans with a highly negative view of the opposing party has doubled, and that the animosity is so deep, many would be unhappy if a close relative married someone of a different political persuasion.”[1] [my bold]

None of this bodes well for America, or the world. It’s superiority is slipping away, and in an effort to bolster the nation’s ego its politicians are happy to warmonger against Russia, dragging much of the world with it into another Cold War, which could eventually turn hot. As the present incumbent of the White House reaches the twilight of his Presidency, matters look set to take a turn for the worse.

With four likely hopefuls for the title, only one is capable of turning America around and giving it hope for the future, and he is the one least likely to succeed. Of the others, Clinton is Washington establishment, meaning more of the same, and both Cruz and Trump are merely egos with a cause. Unfortunately, neither’s ’cause’ is likely to prove good for America, or the rest of the world.

Sadly, none of the four are likely to re-unite Americans. The schisms are too deep. Americans are hopelessly divided.

A lion used to prowl about a field in which four oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in the separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.
United we stand, divided we fall.” ~ Aesop

And that’s the difference between France and America. France is a united country. It’s government is still “of the people, by the people, for the people”, and the French would soon bring its government to its knees if it tried to be any different.

The American people have allowed their government to become corrupt. “Of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.” As a result they feel unrepresented and isolated. Which, of course, is true.

Yet, its my bet they’ll still vote Cruz, or Trump, or Clinton, into the White House come November.

[1] “Why are Americans so angry” BBC, February 4th 2015

R J Adams     February 4, 2016 at 10:47pm     No Comments

It Must Be About Here Somewhere!

by R J Adams     January 14, 2016 at 9:31am

Where is it


Err, excuse me, have you seen Christmas? No, really, is it around here anywhere? The Adam’s household appears to have mislaid it. They only caught New Year at the last moment. One minute to midnight and Mrs Adams suddenly looks up from scrubbing the kitchen cooker, to say, “I think it’s nearly 2016.”

They’ve been rather busy of late. After four months living in a hellhole blatantly advertised as, ‘an authentic 300 year old French cottage, full of charm and elegance…’

…the heating system was definitely 300 years old, as was the bed. The cooker only had half an oven and the three piece suite was plastic from the nineteen-seventies. Sit on it too long and it adhered to the legs like superglue. There was a distinct ripping noise whenever one attempted to stand up…

…but now they have a house of their own. It’s a nice house but the previous owners left in rather a hurry and forgot to tell them nothing had been cleaned since they moved in six years ago – and possibly long before that. Consequently, (Mrs A being a stickler for hygiene) they’ve been scrubbing and disinfecting since December 18th. Christmas dinner was tomato soup hurriedly spooned down before the mop water went cold. Boxing Day was celebrated with beans on toast.

Still, at least the kitchen is finally exhibiting a sparkle. Now it’s time for them to start on the rest of the house.

The internet arrived yesterday. Part of the charm of living in France is waiting forever to get anything done. They were promised the phone wouldn’t be disconnected, then arrived to find it as dead as the proverbial doornail, though why one would expect any metallic object to have ever harboured a lifeforce is quite beyond me.

The phone suddenly resurrected itself on Boxing Day. The internet took a little longer – two weeks longer to be precise. Still, on a good day it provides them with a whole megabyte of download. It’s almost quicker to watch the BBC News on TV rather than wait for it to descend – one agonizing byte at a time – from the internet.

You can understand why there’s been no Sparrow Chat postings since mid-November. Hopefully, things’ll get better before long.

So, if you’re one of the two, possibly three, folks who live in hopes of a few words of Adams’ wisdom occasionally, please don’t despair.

Like Christmas, he’s got to be about here somewhere.


R J Adams     January 14, 2016 at 9:31am     3 Comments

A Shining French Knight versus The Duke Of Plaza-Toro

by R J Adams     November 16, 2015 at 11:14pm


dpt


Any regular reader of Sparrow Chat will be well aware of the contempt in which I hold most politicians. Corrupt, self-obsessed, wealth and power-grabbing, utterly unconcerned with the welfare of those who elected them to office, the average politician today is unworthy of his/her position; sad imitations of those few great men of history worthy to bear the title, “statesman”.

And yet, this afternoon, I sat spellbound as the words of a great statesman resounded around the Palace of Versailles, resulting in an enthusiastic standing ovation from both Houses of the French Parliament.

François Hollande, President of France, did not mince words. Neither platitude nor poll-tested pabulum passed his lips as he laid out for the world how France would deal with the evil monster, ISIS, responsible for those heinous crimes against humanity that were perpetrated in Paris last Friday evening.

I would encourage everyone to take time to listen to his words. Words that, even when spoken through a translator, stirred the soul and made one realise that, perhaps, it was time another country became, “Leader of the Free World”, rather than the insipid, spineless, shadow of itself, that is the USA today.

Indeed, by comparison, Obama’s concluding speech at the G20 in Turkey left one painfully reminiscent of that comic Gilbert and Sullivan character from, “The Gondoliers”, the Duke of Plaza-Toro.

As Obama concluded by stating, somewhat anaemically, that the world, “led by America” (of course), would eventually defeat ISIS, W.S.Gilbert’s colourful description of the Duke came flooding back:

In enterprise of martial kind,
When there was any fighting,
He led his regiment from behind —
He found it less exciting.
But when away his regiment ran,
His place was at the fore, O —
That celebrated,
Cultivated,
Underrated
Nobleman,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!”

Move over Obama; move over Cameron, your platitudes are history. There’s a new kid on the block and no-one’s going to push his country around and get away with it.


hollande


He may be balding; he may only be 5′ 7″ – but so was Napoleon.

Vive La France!


R J Adams     November 16, 2015 at 11:14pm     No Comments

Much Head-Scratching But Where’s The Action?

by R J Adams     November 15, 2015 at 12:14pm

Yesterday’s post, regarding ISIS and the Paris atrocities, noted that the American President Barack Obama had emphasized, in an interview on ABC, the ‘containment’ of ISIS, viz:

“I don’t think they’re gaining strength,” Obama responded. “What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them…”

Last night three Democrat candidates debated the situation on live US television. One of them, Hilary Clinton, was also emphatic. According to the BBC:

IS[Islamic State] cannot be contained, it must be defeated, Mrs Clinton said, adding that while American leadership was essential, “we will support those who take the fight to Isis.”[1]

These are our top world politicians. Our fate is in their hands. If they can’t agree on such vital issues what hope is there for any of us?

There are three major issues threatening the safety of our species right now, though many others are knocking at the door: 1. Climate change; 2. ISIS and Islamic extremism, and 3. The refugee crisis in Europe.

It would seem our leaders haven’t the faintest idea how to effectively handle any of them.


[1] “Democrats argue over Islamic State fight after Paris attacks” BBC, November 15th 2015

R J Adams     November 15, 2015 at 12:14pm     1 Comment

Today Paris, Tomorrow…?

by R J Adams     November 14, 2015 at 11:17am

The images of Paris displayed throughout the world in the last twelve hours have been horrific and disturbing. Let’s take a moment to remember how Paris is, and always will be, despite the crazed antics of certain of our fellow human beings…


Eiffel-Tower-Paris-France


Despite assurances from our political leaders that all is being done to keep us safe from Islamic extremists hellbent on creating mayhem and terror, in some vain attempt to achieve god knows what, attacks of the sort witnessed in Paris last night are becoming an inevitable part of daily life.

President Hollande declared it an ‘..Act of War…’. The American President, Barack Obama wore his gloomy look and read the same old tired speech he seemingly uses for every violent act, whether home-grown or otherwise, while carefully avoiding any reference to his earlier announcement on ABC last Friday, when George Stephanopoulos asked him if ISIS was gaining in strength:

“I don’t think they’re gaining strength,” Obama responded. “What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them…[1]

Really? Contained, Mister Obama? Two hundred dead Parisians might disagree.

Meanwhile, the public schoolboy in charge at No 10 Downing Street reacts similarly with his well-rehearsed, ‘…hearts and prayers go out to..’ platitudes, presumably because he assumes it will make us all feel better.

Only twenty-four hours prior to the Paris atrocities the United States had been preening itself in front of the world, declaring it had (or, possibly had) slaughtered the British extremist delightfully nicknamed by the media, ‘Jihadi John’. The British Prime Minister profusely thanked America for, ‘…getting him for us…’, like a small boy grateful to an older brother for taking care of a bully.

CNN, announcing the news:

In a speech in 1942, Winston Churchill said that a recent British victory against the Nazis in North Africa was “not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Might the coalition arrayed against ISIS also be at the end of the beginning of the campaign that eventually will destroy the organization?”

Both the American media and its politicians have a love affair with Winston Churchill and quote him at every opportunity. In this case, though, somewhat inopportunely. Churchill was referring to the decisive defeat of Rommel’s forces at El Alamein in North Africa by Alexander and Montgomery, not the remote-controlled (possible) killing of one individual by a drone strike.

The obvious fact is that our leaders, confined by corporate control and political factions in the Middle East who would use the situation there to advantage, failed to deal with the murderous thugs of ISIS at their outset, preferring to refer to the downward spiral of Iraq and Syria as ‘…not our fight…’, even though America, in particular, was the creator of ISIS through its abortive actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United States of America, with a little help from its ‘friends’, created the monster that has named itself ISIS. Perhaps it’s time that nation and its ‘friends’ shouldered their responsibilities and did something about it, other than targeting lowly individuals of no real consequence.

After all, one doesn’t kill a rampaging monster by simply paring its toenails.


[1] “OBAMA: ISIS IS NOT GETTING ‘STRONGER,’ WE HAVE ‘CONTAINED’ THEM” Breitbart.com, November 13th 2015

R J Adams     November 14, 2015 at 11:17am     3 Comments