Sunday, June 29, 2008

The McCain-Churian Candidate by Louis Evan Palmer

There are any number of people who should not run for public office and at the top of most lists would be persons who have been compromised. John McCain would be such a person. While we commiserate over the somewhat murky circumstances of his imprisonment and his claims of mistreatment, we are also very leery about having a person who endured five and a half years of an alleged brutal captivity as a leader, especially a powerful one.

Whether you call it behaviour modification, torture, brain-washing or plain old blackmail, when done to
the extent that it might over a period of years in a POW setting, it definitely creates doubts as to the stability and judgement of the victim. Its goals would be familiar to students of history who had read about the Inquisition. It cropped up during the time of the Soviet Union's Gulag and its spectacular and gruesome show trials as a way to ensure cooperative defendants. The United States got its first taste of it when an unexpectedly high number of soldiers captured during the Korean War were induced into making anti-American statements.

The Americans might not have been that surprised as they had already been conducting their own "brain-washing" experiments at the start of the Korean War in 1950. The now infamous Ewen Cameron snuck off to Montreal and with the despicable cooperation of McGill University and the Canadian government, devised a variety of "techniques" for erasing a personality as a first step towards re-making them.

In the 1964 movie, "The Manchurian Candidate", an American soldier in Korea, and his fellow soldiers, are brainwashed by the Koreans and Chinese. Unknown to him, he can be triggered into action, perform the action (like killing someone), and then revert to "normal" without any memory of what he did.

If ever a candidate has given the impression that he is on a hair-trigger, it's John McCain. His vulgar threatening public and semi-public outbursts against other members of Congress and his own wife do sound like someone who's under duress. His memory and logic problems could be age-related but then again they could also be torture-related. Is this really the best America can do? Where are all these defective, flawed candidates coming from?

We can give our compassion and good wishes to John McCain. We feel it prudent to maintain a little extra vigilance when he's around just in case he "loses" it. But we certainly don't want to vote for this guy. We certainly don't want to give him world-destroying weapons to play with. Let's vote for sanity and vote against John McCain.

The McCain-Churian Candidate, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Talleyrand & The Interests of the State by Louis Evan Palmer

It is without dispute that Talleyrand was a clever man, adroit with words and ideas. Even his enemies trusted his diplomatic prowess. He, and by extension France, had much success. As a result, his thoughts and advice still hold sway, particularly, among the ruling classes and their various servants.

The quote that is the focus of this article deals with diplomacy and morality: "States do not have friends, they only have interests."

While Talleyrand, in the venal ethos of the period, made a fortune in bribes and assorted undisclosed payments, he always seemed to aim for the long-term benefit of France. His vision and love of France allowed him to consider the sensibilities and needs of his neighbours and of France's own citizens. It also gave him an historical perspective that helped him navigate through regimes and revolutions. Through it all he maintained a steadfast notion of what France was and what France needed.

When someone of Talleyrand's talent and insight says "States only have interests", he will act differently than a less-qualified politician or diplomat of today. Talleyrand always sought to avoid war and made arrangements to ensure a lasting peace. Therefore, to him a defeated nation could not be humiliated and bankrupted because it would harm the peace and lead to future wars. Therefore, to him freedom of the press was a good thing as it drew the population into the process of governance and strengthened the domestic peace.

Talleyrand was a force for logic and the betterment of all (European) nations. His special focus was on the legitimacy of the state and its sovereign. This was a prime driver of Talleyrand through the negotiations at Vienna. Napoleon wrecked that "Peace" when he returned from imprisonment on Elba and got many more thousands killed in his further vain-glorious military quests. Earlier, after Napoleon invaded Russia, Talleyrand had resigned rather than continue to serve in what had become a blood-thirsty march for glory and empire.

Lesser politicians use Talleyrand's observation on a State's interests as an excuse for amoral short-sighted actions. They seem to forget that it is people who constitute a State and reflect or surmise its interests and while those interests, as Talleyrand notes, are greater than any single person or group of persons (or should be), they are nonetheless the outcome of people. States that consistently betray and bully will have no allies (or friends) but it is the State's leaders and the people who run its institutions who will bring that about. People betraying people who represent States. Circumstances change and those changes may necessitate an adjustment in a State's position or actions. It does not mean that amorality reigns and that a lack of ethics will not hurt a given nation in the mid or long-term.

In trying to emulate Talleyrand but without his genius, these sorcerer's apprentices threaten all of us, looking for any excuse to take what they see as the expedient way.

Talleyrand & The Interests of the State, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Contentment- Goal, Trap and Nothing by Louis Evan Palmer

Does your contentment come from knowing what is most important in the sense of a profound enlightenment? Or, does it stem from being satisfied with what you know; feeling that it is enough and there is no valid reason to go further?

Is it a physical contentment or psychological or a bit of both? Does it touch on the nature of the reality we find ourselves in? Is a contentment that rests on an unexplored reality certain to collapse. Even so, if its collapse was far enough in the future, most of us would take that guaranteed temporary happiness; our urge to defer as powerful as ever even when dealing with critical all-encompassing matters. Don't see it, don't hear it, don't know it. Small Picture winning over Big Picture almost every time.

Isn't that a key mental conjuring - if it's not known, it's not perceived. Inklings may make mysterious intrusions on our psyche like clouds on a distant horizon yet they're easy to ignore or to dismiss. We tell ourselves, if it was important, it wouldn't be so hazy and hard to discern. We oscillate between the obvious and the obscure without knowing either.

It boils down to different levels of contentment. Contentment can be based on ignorance, on a deliberately circumscribed notion of reality; or, it can be based only on what is truly real. And what leads to the truth is the endless asking of the question "Why?" until the words peter out and one wordless answer leads to another, each reply bigger than its predecessor until only the answer exists and then only the one and all exists. Then the authentic contentment blooms. Then the simple physical contentment completely fulfills.

Contentment- Goal, Trap and Nothing, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

People Kill People - Faster and More Easily with Guns by Louis Evan Palmer

We are in the Age of Guns. In the past, it may have been a quarterstaff or a crossbow. In the future, it may be some kind of non-lethal stun weapon. But today, it's guns.

There are many circumstances that can affect the utility of a carrying a gun. What country you live in being a prime consideration. Do you live in a war zone? Do you have a honest competent police force? Do you live in a high crime area? Do you live in a community or are you some distance from any population centre? Do you hunt for food?

However, among the invalid reasons for "needing" a gun is to be able to fight against a fascist takeover. You and your gun, or even your several guns, and a couple of good buddies, would not stand a chance. You would have to do what all the other freedom fighters had to do - steal weapons from your oppressors.

We're obviously attacking the NRA gospel of "Guns don't kill People, People Kill People". Although, unfortunately, we're approaching the day when guns will kill people, that is, guns attached to robots. At that point, which is arriving as we speak, we'll have embodied "the gun" in an entity that will initially fight wars but then inevitably can be used to subjucate populations under the cover of law and order.

Going back to the "Guns Don't Kill People" line of reasoning, let's also look at Weapons of Mass Destruction or WMDs. Could we not claim that "WMDs Don't Kill People, People Kill People"? It's quite clear that only countries without WMDs are invade-able. It's also clear that for smaller countries, nuclear weapons are mainly defensive in that they would be used to repel an invader and they don't have the delivery systems or numbers of warheads to make them into effective offensive weapons. The argument actually makes more sense at the national level. However, as the number of nuclear weaponized countries increases so does the danger. Limiting the club to those that have it now, or those who can surreptitiously impose it, will face continuing pressures as the threatened nations resist and smolder.

The only real answer to the WMD conundrum is universal disarmament. The same answer is there for small weapons like guns but its implementation may sit unattended for many more decades. Probably only getting done when a technological innovation renders guns obsolete or unacceptably crude and violent.
People Kill People - Faster and More Easily with Guns, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.