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Why 'adolescent America' has to grow up

Mark Mardell | 21:57 UK time, Friday, 23 October 2009

A fascinating new study looks at whether the US will remain the dominant superpower in the next century.

Many of James Kurth's recommendations are pretty mainstream, suggesting that America's dominance has been built on military power which itself is dependent on economic power. He points out that this has been based not so much on industrial strength as constant innovation. He says that to continue this into the future, America has to emphasise research into green and bio tech, and new medical and health treatments.

This emphasis on the future of technology pretty much mirrors the priority of the Obama administration which also stresses medical research. I am hearing that some executives of medical companies are arguing the administration is undermining its own objectives by taxing just such products.

But that's a digression. Kurth's most striking argument is that it's time for America to grow up. He directly challenges the idea that America benefits from "soft power" - the worldwide appeal of its ideals and culture. He says the projected culture is adolescent and damaging:

"It is usually forgotten that this popular culture is chiefly popular with the young - particularly those young who are still irresponsible, rebellious and feckless...If American leaders want to lead the leaders of other countries, they will have to act like mature adults, not like the attention-seeking celebrities of American popular culture."

Perhaps he's just spotted the difference between the heartland and TV-land. In my short time here, I've been struck by the tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity of much of American society compared to its rather more free-flowing image abroad. But is Prof Kurth right that it is time for America to put away childish things?

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  • 1. At 08:33am on 26 Oct 2009, bishopkingpawn wrote:

    As a newcomer to America, I'd like to hear more about your impressions. I'm puzzled about the "tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity" you see, as these are NOT words I would use to describe American society!

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  • 2. At 08:44am on 26 Oct 2009, mindxavierbloggz wrote:

    The USA has around 180 bases around the world so I suppose that makes them a super power. If the US public got to see the books on the costs of that lot they might just decide that healthcare at home is money better spent. The way things are going though with computer technology etc the winners in the end may be those who can emasculate all the weaponry with a computer rather than anti missile systems. Who? Well China springs to mind as well as Russia. Just to see how excited the US got over a simple UK hacker shows just how sensitive the issue is. I read that there's lots of ways to skin a cat.

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  • 3. At 08:50am on 26 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    Well i would question your last point about the conformoty of america culture. I would say the diversity is one our hall makrs. And certanatly if you compare Europe where new ethnic groups have trouble assimilating on comfortably joining society. even llok at Belgium where the two main ethnic groups can't get along.

    Kurth's point seems to be the U.S should not push it's ideals around the world, that could be argued, but I would argue that we have a more realistic view of the world comparted to many place especially Europe and the Middle East.

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  • 4. At 09:09am on 26 Oct 2009, AlisterIR wrote:

    "But is Prof Kurth right that it is time for America to put away childish things?"

    And with that Mr Mardell, we will see the 'pro- ultra democratic' pundits and people burn your and Prof Kurth's effigies for trying to dictate terms (albeit cleverly and very subtly) to the American nation. Even when those 'terms' may in a variety of other places be referred to as 'wise advise' or the not so common, 'common sense'.

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  • 5. At 09:19am on 26 Oct 2009, delphus1234 wrote:

    The problem arises when anyone assumes there is a homogeneous American culture, or Canadian culture for that matter. North America is incredibly diverse and so is the outlook of its people. To think there is one "American" attitude or POV is like thinking there's one "European" perspective.
    I think the projected American culture is damaging. As a Canadian in the Middle East, I see the attitude people have towards Americans and it isn't always pretty. It's also often based on pop culture rather than any real understanding. Americans are all bullies, cowboys and thugs in many minds.
    Sorry MagicKirin, can't agree that you have a more realistic view of the world. There wouldn't be so much international bad will toward the US if you did.

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  • 6. At 09:24am on 26 Oct 2009, KiltedGreen wrote:

    It's not just America that needs to grow up - most of the Western world behaves like a spoilt adolescent that doesn't want to hear "no" for an answer and, like many children, just wants more toys, more food, more travel, more growth as though though our natural 'department store' had an infinite warehouse. The sense of responsibility to our planet, which would be the sign of a mature society is mostly sadly lacking everywhere we look. Mother Earth will only tolerate so much. As Mark Adams said: "We are, by any honest assessment, a race of little children, running around the planet with far too much power and not nearly enough maturity. We're like a band of infants with flamethrowers.".

    Oh, and the inference at the start of the article stopped short of something fundamental when you said "... suggesting that America's dominance has been built on military power which itself is dependent on economic power." And following 'power' it should say 'which is itself dependent on fossil fuels'. This is something the world will be waking up to in the next decade at most.

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  • 7. At 09:26am on 26 Oct 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    Although this article makes some very salient points, I think in reality things are much more complex. The professor seems to overlook the commercial basis for much of American culture; de Tocqueville spotted this nearly 2 centuries ago, and it is still a dominant cultural force- or, if anything, is even stronger since the advent of the electronic media, and sophisticated advertising.

    American mass culture as a result has focused on the "lowest common denominator"- with some exceptions, of course, the emphasis is on what sells best, and it isn't always the best quality. So we end with Wal-Mart and McDonald's capturing crowds through a simple formula of low cost. And sex sells, as much or more than the image of youth.

    But increasingly since the 70s, we've seen an atomization of the culture, at least internally- do your own thing has become a mantra. Despite the way the two party system forces us into either-or choices, we're not a Red State/Blue State nation- we're a nation of every shade and color.

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  • 8. At 09:42am on 26 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #5
    Sorry MagicKirin, can't agree that you have a more realistic view of the world. There wouldn't be so much international bad will toward the US if you did.

    _____________________-

    Whats unrealistic? Ignoring terrorism and intolerance will make it go away. That we need to look at alternative energy, that the U.N is totaly inefective? That Ilsmamic facism is the main problem in the middle East and Southeast Asia?

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  • 9. At 10:09am on 26 Oct 2009, Suncrush wrote:

    It is true that there is something that feels energetically adolescent about American culture, to a European visitor. I have lived twelve years in the US, off and on at different times over the last forty years, and have always been impressed by the energy, openness and self confidence of the society compared to my own. The economy's capacity to innovate and create anew is definitely related to the "spirit of adolescence". They seem to be two sides of the same coin. Lose one and lose the other.

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  • 10. At 10:11am on 26 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    America does seem to have an adolescent obsession with oil. If the US wants to be the power car of the global economy in the 21st century it needs to wean itself off the stuff. To put it crudely (pardon the pun) when the US economy starts growing again so too will the price of oil, which of course, is likely put the economy in reverse gear again. She, IMO, needs to be at the forefront of new green technology.

    The US is already showing signs of potentially leading in the high-capacity battery market - vital for electric cars. This new green technology may need Federal or State help to invest in this. Critics may call this 'socialism', but the US Govt already supports many areas of US big industry and has done for years - so maybe a bit of growing up is required.

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  • 11. At 10:11am on 26 Oct 2009, Will Shirley wrote:

    As others have noted, there are vast differences in which part of the US you go. In point of fact the country is very much like several countries. Toss in the classes and you have too much to call a "culture". Try contacting migrant workers for real generosity. NYC is a very friendly place. Just stand on a corner with a map looking lost. Marin County CA is called "the bubble" and most of the people there are "bubble headed" but very nice. Avoid Arizona. Your accent would target you. Lost Angels says it all. Terrible place to try to move about in. Oddly, the northeast is very like the northwest, might be the weather. In New England they are friendly but closed, in Kentucky and Indiana they are friendly and open. Only the nobility are consistent: money. They will ask you what your watch cost, what you make for a living, how much that costs... sad, really but it's all they think of...oh and sex.

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  • 12. At 10:13am on 26 Oct 2009, AlisterIR wrote:

    Being impartial on the issue, I have myself lived in the Middle East for 18 years and have only recently moved away. I do agree with delphus1234 as to the image of America in the middle east.

    At MagicKirin, my own views about "Whats unrealistic? Ignoring terrorism and intolerance will make it go away. That we need to look at alternative energy, that the U.N is totaly inefective? That Ilsmamic facism is the main problem in the middle East and Southeast Asia?" being immaterial (as I intend to keep my impartiality), what a lot of people do not realize that shouting out views and ideals are not necessarily compatible with every target audience. From the point of view of the Middle East, most of the locals are employed, wealthy, safe and have abundance of oil. How can you suggest to them they are not? Not all but the same can be said for Southeast Asia.

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  • 13. At 10:14am on 26 Oct 2009, Jono wrote:

    Yes Magickirin, most of what you say is unrealistic.
    Islamic facism? So you're just grouping the facists (the nazis???) with terrorists?
    South East Asia's main problem is Islamic facism huh?
    Want to try again?
    You have a very simplistic take on the world.
    The UN is ineffective? Maybe because it's budget is tiny and it's trying to solve the entire world's problems.
    It's not like the US has done such a great job in solving problems in the last decade or so. What with all the wars and economic crises and stuff.
    Maybe it's time we gave the UN another go at it?
    Maybe they would have concentrated on catching the criminals from Saudi Arabia who caused all the problems, instead of invading Iraq. Good move that one.
    But it was all about terrorism right? Nothing to do with one of the world's largest oil reserves being conveniently located beneath the Iraqi desert.

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  • 14. At 10:39am on 26 Oct 2009, brokenground wrote:

    Growing up is precisely what the US should not do. Growing up is what the UK did in the late 19th century. It turned the most vibrant country in the world into the mindset of a conceited superpower - something it still hasn't lost even as the world has moved on.

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  • 15. At 10:39am on 26 Oct 2009, psycros wrote:

    The current state of affairs here in America is due to precisely the kind of "growing up" that leftists foreign and domestic have preached for nearly four decades. Out-of-touch academicians like Kurth and the politicians who buy into their delusions are the reason we're on the verge of losing superpower status. Our leaders have sold us out completely: constantly making compromises with potential enemies who never honor their end of the deal; forcing Americans to accommodate wave after wave of illegal immigrants, most of whom are career criminals; putting robber barons in charge of the very agencies that are supposed to regulate their industries! America's greatest enemy is not the suicide bomber or the swine flu - its the fifth column called Washington DC.

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  • 16. At 10:51am on 26 Oct 2009, Ben Cote wrote:

    It is a damn indictment of the intelligence and wisdom of much of the world if people can't see that American popular media is entertainment, not a accurate essay of American culture.

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  • 17. At 10:53am on 26 Oct 2009, lochraven wrote:

    I think that Europeans watch too much American movies and t.v. After the war, my aunt related this story about a European who was visiting the US. My aunt suggested she should go out west because there was much to see. The European gasped and said aren't you afraid of the Indians? Sadly, this is a true story. Unfortunately, much of what the world knows about America is what they get from the movies and tv. Even you Mr. Mardell, seem to be taken aback at what you found here.

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  • 18. At 11:07am on 26 Oct 2009, rshawk wrote:

    I couldn't agree more with bishopkingpawn -- I'm shocked that Mr. Mardell would say that he sees "the tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity of much of American society." This description certainly wouldn't ring true to most Americans.

    Where are you living, Mr. Mardell? Perhaps you could mention this in a future post...If you're staying in Washington and moving in political/diplomatic/journalistic circles, you may be seeing a very different culture than the ones most Americans live in.

    Others have mentioned that American culture varies widely, and it's true that New England, the South, the Midwest and the West all have their own cultures and mores (and many subgroups in each). But overall there are a few distinctly American traits. They include optimism, friendliness, a certain naivete, a belief that one can get ahead with hard work, a belief that one can reinvent oneself, a belief in new ideas.

    Yes, our popular culture presents an awful image of the US, in ways that most Americans don't realize. But we'll continue to be "adolescent" -- naive, hopeful, and a bit self-centered -- because it's a deeply ingrained part of our nature. (De Tocqueville's book is still the best one for understanding American ideas and behavior.)

    Mr. Mardell, I hope that you'll have the chance to get out and see more of the US. Why not take that great American tradition -- a road trip -- and spend two or three months poking around the corners of this country?

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  • 19. At 11:17am on 26 Oct 2009, Richard Papp wrote:

    If we were childish as the good doctor says,
    then all of our enemies would be toast a long time ago.

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  • 20. At 11:31am on 26 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #12 and 13

    Lets talk about how woamn have it so great in the Middle East. Or if you are a follower of sunni vs Shia? Let's talk about the bombingsin India the repression and intimidation the Tailban use in Afghanastan and Pakistan. And how they killed a woman because she dared to think she could lead.

    As far as the bogus oil claims for going into Iraq. do you know which country got the first contract? China.

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  • 21. At 11:41am on 26 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    I don't know about buttoned-down. On the basis of long experience, Americans tend to be open and welcoming.

    On the technology point, it is folly for government to try to pick winners and losers. Let inventors try their hand where they wish. Many will fail, some will succeed. The right to try and be judged on the merits in the marketplace is one of America's greatest strengths.

    The overwhelming majority of those successes will come in fields other than electronics, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Most will seem rather mundane. But a dollar earned and a job created in a mundane industry are just as valuable as anywhere else.

    The one shared characteristic? Technological innovation blossoms where the owners can reap the benefits of their insights. The US has gone through a period of eight years of administrative vandalism where, for example, religious dogma was permitted to trump science; the patent office was run by a regime hostile to inventors and their rights. President Obama seems already to have taken steps to undo at least some of this damage.

    In all of these things, we tip the scales in our favor by improving our education, and working hard.

    The decline of education in America over the last half century has been a national disaster of the first order. America now has a President (and First Lady) who clearly value education. Let's hope this is a turning point. It is long, long past time for America's parents to make decisions in the school system, not the teachers' unions.

    Raw intelligence, and all the study in the world aren't enough by themselves, either. Mark Twin wrote that many people fail to notice when opportunity knocks because it tends to be dressed in coveralls. "American Ingenuity" and "Good Old American Know-How" have a fair bit to do with plain old-fashioned hard work. Sometimes people seem to forget that.

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  • 22. At 11:44am on 26 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    #14 brokenground

    I can think of many words describing Victorian Britain and 'vibrant' isn't one of them! Britain's loss of Empire was due to its over-expansion, superiority complex, and fighting of wars it couldn't afford. So I would argue that Britain's decline was more due to it not growing up!

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  • 23. At 11:53am on 26 Oct 2009, roadworrier571 wrote:

    Maturity is what you make it to be. Sweden and many other places with strong social nets are small enough and homogeneous enough to make it work. The US is 300 million people across an entire continent. There are distinct differences between Connecticut and California, between Florida, West Virginia and Iowa, etc. ....whether it is jobs, climates, or people's attitudes toward themselves or family. The majority of people are indeed interested and curious about the world (converse to a few radio hosts or rural yahoos who tend to dominate some forms of televisio. They just do not care to see it imposed on themselves. But if immaturity means we impose our values on others without understanding their culture and history, well then that's another issue, and one which doomed Bush from 9/11/01 onward.

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  • 24. At 11:53am on 26 Oct 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    The biggest threat to our future and our privileged position in the world is not Islam, the spread of socialism throughout Latin America or commies in Cuba, but the emergence of China as the new dominant economic superpower and one with enough firepower to limit aggressive overtures to nothing more than feeble discourse.

    While we spend 13% of our budget on "defense" China is actively engaged in industrial modernization, re-building their infrastructure, improving education and their standard of living at a time when we can not afford to provide healthcare to millions of Americans because a public system would be too expensive...while we spend a trillion dollars in ridiculous crusades that should have never taken place.

    We do need to grow up, and we better do it fast or we will be so far behind we will never catch up. Our infrastructure is crumbling, the few industrial sectors we still have are in desperate need of state-of-the-art technology, innovation and investment, our healthcare and education systems are inadequate to meet the challenges of the 21st century and too expensive to maintain, our dependance on foreign oil is unsustainable, and our dependence on credit and our mounting debt preclude us from pursuing the goals we need to tackle to remain a superpower.

    We are, indeed, the dominant military superpower, but barring a pervasive desire to end life on Earth using our military might to its full potential it is difficult to imagine what that would achieve unless, of course, the hardcore neocons and special interests boys that call the shots behind the scenes are among those earnestly pursuing the elusive goal of finding 100 virgins in the afterlife.

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  • 25. At 11:57am on 26 Oct 2009, Grafpleyel wrote:

    mindxavierbloggz has it right in his/her penetrating analysis, but is widely off the mark in counting US bases--there are over 750 worldwide. Chalmers Johnson is big on this subject, and has the full chart on what he predicts as the US 'Nemesis'. Can he possibly be wrong? Can US neo-liberal hubris be right, and succeed in world hegemony as no empire ever has?

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  • 26. At 12:00pm on 26 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    I'm always puzzled about one fact of the way the US sees itself especailly the way US contributors to these blogs see the US. No one ever seems to mention what is, in my opinion, the greatest contribution the US has made to the world and that must be music and films. Ok we all hate it when Hollywood tries to rewrite history and the majority of US citizens seem to get the their history from Hollywood but we can cope with that, we just tell you you are wrong. Music is the single biggest contribution the US has made to the World, thank you and keep doing it please.

    Just a little aside to MagicKirin. Magic I think you will come to find that cultural and linguistic diversity is Europe's greatest strength and even if Belgium separates into two halves I am certain both halves will stay as part of the EU. You see splitting apart like that doesn't really matter anymore, the EU actually allows for more diversity not less. I can see Scotland leaving the Union with England but I'm pretty sure that if they do they will remain part of the EU.

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  • 27. At 12:11pm on 26 Oct 2009, expertSharpshooter wrote:

    I have always thought that repect for different cultures was key not only to understanding how to deal with them, but also how to communicate our positions on matters in a more effective manner. One of the weaknesses of our political process is the tendancy to change our posturing toward the international community based on the ideology of the administration. On this one I do believe that the Obama Admin has a more correct stance on the respect issue. The US is also on the downward slope of its position as a "superpower". While it will remain in the top five, expect it to be supplanted or equalled over the next half century by at least two other powers. Hopefully we will have learned how to deal more effectively & consistently with the concepts of powersharing & world policing.

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  • 28. At 12:17pm on 26 Oct 2009, reubenr wrote:

    As a U.S. citizen and also having lived in Europe, I am struck by what the article does not say and that should be obvious about America, while at the same time being in complete agreement with its conclusion that it needs to grow up. For the most part, Americans are grossly undereducated and narcissistic, which means it is stuck in its adolescents and is unlikely to grow up, anytime soon. Some good things happen, never-the-less, but, for the most part, there is no societal evolution, hence, fundamental issues are never dealt with in a responsible way, if at all. Although this has already been mentioned, America is steeped in classicism with an extremely weak central government controlled by special interests, so it rules by minority politics. The dynamics are played out, over and over again, sometimes in the most interesting ways, such as with the health care issue, when people without health insurance coverage are, strangely enough, opposed to it, and this phenomenon is based more on confusion than being parsimonious. In adolescence, facts are secondary to name calling and chest pounding, which is basically what we hear on most issues. Finally, what is most obvious about America is greed and this, of course, defies skills needed to work together and is the hallmark of American economics. The country is a mess but everyone seems to like it that way, and the superficial "niceness and kindness" of some groups, which may be refreshing or surprising to outsiders, is totally offset by their active and relentless religious oppression of other people and thoughts, to which there seems to be no end in this country. In spite of all this, we manage. It may be a nice place to visit and it may produce some nice inventions, but, currently, it is a hell hole in which to live. It lacks a sole, meaning, organizing principal, which organisms require to evolve.

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  • 29. At 12:19pm on 26 Oct 2009, nicolesarkiss wrote:

    RSHAWK wrote that American pop culture image is awful, if our image is so bad can you explain why when I travel and I see our culture copied every where. From Middle East to Asia and Europe. So if is so awful why people love it. European have long way to go to understand AMERICA . With DARK PAST THAT EUROPE LEFT in Middle East and Africa and so on America looks like a child yes.
    For last 500 years of European empires left these continents in terrible state, now that you lost your power you complain about America, please.........
    I leave in Europe I saw how Europe has their class system, and how they use new immigrant and when the economics is bad they talk about send them back where they come from and so on…..
    And how you institutions are corrupted. When 23 years old son of French president wants to become a president of the largest company in France and talk abut British parliament corruption and Italy so on………. no we don’t want to be like you guys.
    Yes corruption exist everywhere when is money, but not in deep government institutions. Anyway what is the true story we all act similar when is power only complain is when others have the power we complain. Just last word when I travel to other countries and meet real people in the street even is middle east when you say you are American people smile and shake your hand, because in reality with all the difference they know differences between American and past European culture. Thank you.

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  • 30. At 12:22pm on 26 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    #3 Magic

    Well i would question your last point about the conformoty of america culture. I would say the diversity is one our hall makrs. And certanatly if you compare Europe where new ethnic groups have trouble assimilating on comfortably joining society. even llok at Belgium where the two main ethnic groups can't get along.

    I think that the two ethnic groups in Belguim do get along despite being relatively quite different. What they want is more self-determination - towards a more de-centralised State. As you are an American I don't think you should be knocking that.

    Anyway, assimilation is IMO inherently racist. It's like saying 'Jews are welcome here, just as long as you don't act so Jewish!'

    Multiculturalism is still the way to go I say. There's been a lot of debate in the UK about this recently (as you may know), but has more to do a general feeling of powerlessness due to Governments not being interested in the opinions of their electors. This has been brewing for decades.

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  • 31. At 12:24pm on 26 Oct 2009, Ramble-Rabbit wrote:

    I agree America needs to grow up, and as in American I at least am not ashamed to say so when overseas as I was during the previous 8 years. Obama is certainly a step in the right direction if he can get anything done with the obstructionist just say no Republicans that equate progress with nothingness, but I digress. I think in addition to America and all oof Western countries to grow up with America the biggest bully and most delinquent, I want to bring attention to the behavior of the needy and less developed world.

    Speaking of growing up, the underdeveloped world is shameless in this regard. Well most of them gladly want and indeed, sometimes insist it from the developed world they continue to allow rampant bribery and theft throughout the business processes that called together make up their commercial sector. In addition to this, they allow violence both internally and currently to go unchecked. Income in the dawn of the 21st century, nations of all sizes settle their differences with missiles and bombs and lots of lots of dead innocent civilians. For example, I would like to sympathize with the Palestinians, but they allow certain among their citizenry to fire missiles willy-nilly over the border into Israel almost like a 5th grade science project. I would like to support Israel also, but they answer these missile calls with overwhelming violence and bulldozers with weapons sold to them by you know who, but of course they could buy them from anyone if not from the US.

    Zimbabwe is a disaster truly in need of aid, but the citizenry allowed thugs backed by the government to take the food producing land away from people who knew how to farm it and create food and give it to the thugs who enjoyed the gift but unfortunately don't know how to make food with their new assets.
    We have this Sudan, and looking back we have Rwanda and Bosnia Herzegovina versus Croatia. Of course I could go on and on with the Iraqis killing Iraqis, the mess that has been allowed to be created in Pakistan and Afghanistan and so on.

    One final thing, and perhaps most troubling of all is that by the way we are cooking the planet. If I were to venture on how all of this will work out in 100 years I would put my money on nature creating some huge disaster that wipes out 1 billion or so people and then perhaps they will grow up.(Voice texted, please excuse errors)

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  • 32. At 12:30pm on 26 Oct 2009, zeroKnots- wrote:

    The most powerful instrument of unconstitutional, ie: illegitimate power on earth. The man takes over businesses, locks out democracy, fires private citizens, dictates "bonuses" disregarding contract law entirely, installs a racist La Raza member to the Supreme Court, nuzzles up to deadly dictators and revokes entry of allies for defending THEIR Constitution, attempts to install self professed COMMUNIST Czars, attempts to cull the ONE network he doesn't own, rolls off perfect counterfeits like he plans to wallpaper mars, has a bigger cult of personality than Hitler ever dreamed of, outright refuses vetting information about himself and it's considered rude to even ask why, (see Pravda on all this if our networks aren't anti-America enough for your taste)..
    And all those who fought fascism with practically their last dearest drop of blood say "oh my, theyre so childish".

    CHILDISH??!? Baby's got the fraggin GUN again, people!

    GROW UP YOURSELVES!!!!!!

    dominant superpower??!!!
    ("beautiful plumage")
    AAAAAUUUGH!!!

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  • 33. At 12:34pm on 26 Oct 2009, peter wrote:

    ref #5
    Sorry MagicKirin, can't agree that you have a more realistic view of the world. There wouldn't be so much international bad will toward the US if you did.

    _____________________-

    Whats unrealistic? Ignoring terrorism and intolerance will make it go away. That we need to look at alternative energy, that the U.N is totaly inefective? That Ilsmamic facism is the main problem in the middle East and Southeast Asia?


    ...That does actually prove his point!!! Islamic Facism (actually that definition by itself is wrong - see definition of facism) is not the main problem in the middle-east. There are a host of problems (and not just in that region) but there are also a host of reasons for thos problems, including "western Intervention/foreign policy" and a diabolical interferance in local politics for the last 100 years (Iran coup in 1953 etc) You obviously know very little about the history of the middle east, and I assume your main 'source' of information is your very own 'fox news'...

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  • 34. At 12:34pm on 26 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #30
    Anyway, assimilation is IMO inherently racist._____________

    __________________

    Assimilation means in this not holding youself or being held as a seperate enclave. People in the U.S celebrate their ethnic culture but with few exceptions work and communicate with a wide range of people.

    my first summer job my managers were an irish caucasian and a latin american.

    my second I reported to a woman and a african american of the soslem faith.

    sorry for any confusion you might have.

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  • 35. At 12:36pm on 26 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    As far as cultural contributions we should apologize for:

    Reaity TV comes to mind
    Which is worse than the Japanese introduction of Karoke.

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  • 36. At 12:36pm on 26 Oct 2009, panslabyrinth wrote:

    Dear MagicKirin

    To quote from your post-

    Kurth's point seems to be the U.S should not push it's ideals around the world, that could be argued, but I would argue that we have a more realistic view of the world comparted to many place especially Europe and the Middle East.

    From where I live in the UK, the view of the world presented to me via the US is often bizarre. More realistic? Which reality are you talking about? The realism of a goody v baddie video game or the complex twists and turns of religion, money, arms, oil, cultures, and the alpha male posturing of dominant states fighting for supremacy?

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  • 37. At 12:42pm on 26 Oct 2009, Winnie40 wrote:

    I have to agree with one of the contributors about the real enemy. And its not the USA. I know that often the USA have made decisions which seem very self centred, but hey lets be honest they get little support from the rest of the world. Russia, China and the like are very, very self centred. Any proposals put forward by the US are always viewed with suspicion, no agreements are made, the UN, well what can I say, so ineffectual. So lets look at the US for what they have achieved what they have given the world. Food, baseball, music, films, Electronics (I-pod) and on and on. I have travelled all over the states, the people are great and I don’t just mean those in the selling trade. The USA have problems like the rest of us, they make mistakes like the rest of us, but let’s be clear if it wasn’t for them our world would be a poorer place to live in.
    Just think about the alternatives!!!!!
    English born and bred and still living in Lancashire

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  • 38. At 12:53pm on 26 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref 36

    From where I live in the UK, the view of the world presented to me via the US is often bizarre. More realistic? Which reality are you talking about? The realism of a goody v baddie video game or the complex twists and turns of religion, money, arms, oil, cultures, and the alpha male posturing of dominant states fighting for supremacy?

    ______________________________-

    I'd say the moral equvilency argument or the naive viewpoint that everything can be done through negoiation. they are groups like last century's Nazi that can't be compromised with. I would argue the belief system expoused by Iran and Al Quada and their suggorates are in the same category.

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  • 39. At 12:55pm on 26 Oct 2009, ElliottCB wrote:

    Americans tend to think of their country as "diverse" the same way as a certain kind of Briton tends to think of his country as "important". It's more a matter of national self-image than of realistic analysis. My own impressions from visits to the USA are more in line with Mardell's observation that American society tends to be uniform and conformist.

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  • 40. At 12:57pm on 26 Oct 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    The obession with youth is from advertising and the targeting of expendable income. The rest, go to work every day to pay for those things for their kids or by younger adults without other responsbilities. The US has more of an aging problem than a youth problem. The relationships between government and corporations is well established and to the detriment of all, well the politicians and corporations do well. It is the rigid maintaining of power that holds everything back. It is the youthful mind that sees a better future and is willing to look at things differently. It is the stagnation that kills civilizations, not the youth. The West is stagnant and the wealthy and powerful have created a financial crisis that clearly shows that they no longer have ideas and must steal to maintain their wealth and power. After a civilization matures, it dies.

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  • 41. At 1:04pm on 26 Oct 2009, MacPhellimey wrote:

    I too agree with JPWallace and Delphus1234 while I wholeheartedly disagree with Magickirin. The European press is more open, less biased and its public a good better informed than in the United States. I lived in the Middle East for 16 years, travelled in the US and know many Americans here on mainland Europe, and more particularly, how they are percieved here and further afield. The US is less "diverse" than it is "homogenised"; in fact one would have a hard job meeting a nation more parochial.

    Delphus1234's observation is correct: the US may be a "democracy" at home, but it's largely seen as a dictatorship abroad, and with good cause. Europe has a huge Muslim population with a good deal less friction and is treated with far less suspicion than it is in the US, where its image is tarnished by exaggeration and just plain fiction. With regard to US foreign policy: at the first mention of diplomacy or negotiation with the likes of say, Iran, some American pops up crying "appeasement" and dropping poor old Neville Chamberlain's name into the mix (this implying that they are somehow remotely aware of "history"), and concluding therefore that any form of political solution is nothing short of a direct collaboration with "evil". US blustering does more harm than good. Grow up.

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  • 42. At 1:05pm on 26 Oct 2009, ElliottCB wrote:

    Winnie40 - "And its not the USA. I know that often the USA have made decisions which seem very self centred, but hey lets be honest they get little support from the rest of the world."

    Coming from Britain you ought to be at least dimly aware that British soldiers are out dying in America's wars right now. Not just British, either. Believe it or not, a couple of score countries have committed forces to all of its recent wars. You might remember the outraged "Axis of Weasel" rhetoric that was thrown about when two countries overturned the natural order of things and actually refused to attack an Arab state against whom a case had been fabricated. That is not the rhetoric of a country accustomed to failure to receive support; quite the converse. Those are the words of a country that feels itself ENTITLED to support.

    "Food, baseball, music, films, Electronics (I-pod) and on and on."

    I think you will find that food was invented by the French, "base ball", or "rounders", has been known to the British since at least the sixteenth century, music goes back to African drumming and the Lesbian 7-stringed lute, and the integrated circuit was invented by a Japanese calculator manufacturer. I might add the Internet to your list, which was invented by Al Gore while working at CERN in Geneva.

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  • 43. At 1:08pm on 26 Oct 2009, whitedovedh wrote:

    The problem isn't the infantization of the culture; it's the unrestrained 'free market' mantra marketed that says 'business' is the source of all productivity and it is THAT which creates jobs and wealth must therefore logically trickle down and the mass media (which is just another capitalist market) has circulated it well. It's that pyramid scheme which came close to collapsing the entire world economy, that 'capitalism' as such can do no wrong and we still don't seem to have a clue that ALL extremes are unstable.

    I am 47 years old and a native of eastern North Carolina; some have mentioned the diversity present here in the States due to our hodge podge of mixed cultures. That is probably at least partially true. And having never been out of the country; I really can't fairly compare THIS country with any other.

    However, what my own attention is drawn to IS in fact the presence of a tremendous number of dichotomies and disconnects within the culture that are not perhaps well or easily perceived by those that come in as outsiders and, as others have mentioned, socialized primarily with those in a certain political, social realm. We DO very definitely have different social classes here although they are not yet widely recognized as such...'we' as a people are very economically striated; the economic differences are much more invasive than race or cultural differences (though we are prone to blame our situations on those outside of our own cultures and races) and these economic classes also encourage further political and economic delineation and power; as those in the higher economic categories have a disproportional amount of clout in a republican democracy such as ours which is more and more funded by large and powerful PACS and lobbyists.

    We have been most united by the saturation and populization of the culture by mass media; and that in itself has been increasingly funded by not just mass consumerism; but the presence of various types of advertisers (including PACS, lobbyists,corporations) which also affect content.

    Mass media has continued in INCREASING the dichotomy of the culture; the IDEAS of which are 'sold' to those that tune in, versus any actual 'real' culture. The ideas sold are based on the flow of money and that which will increase market share. Television and cable are essentially 'piped' into our homes, the people more or less will watch what's presented and 'choose' that which is most preferable to them...much of what is presented involves the industry's idea of what will sell...and their enamourization with themselves, such as the politicians enamourizations of THEMSELVES...and the corporatists enamourizations of THEMSELVES...but ALSO what content their advertisers encourage...only in part does art imitate life, to a certain degree life begins to imitate art and the line of separation becomes less and less clear.

    Nowhere is this lmore clear than on the political scene.

    We are a nation of people of which the majority are actually struggling to put food on our tables and keep roofs over our heads and keep up with the "American Dream" amongst increasing competition for resources and less and less security. The mainstream mantra is that we have a 'free market' and that is good because wealth comes from the top and trickles down. However, increasing number of people are on government aid of necessity; because they cannot find a job paying a living wage and increasing numbers of people are resentful of the former. The 'news' is now increasingly editorialized; because people are so overwhelmed that they can't make sense of it all; and people are increasingly turning towards extreme ideological viewpoints that draw from the increasing fear of the future that is beginning to raise it's head in the public consciousness.

    Our presence as a military power, based on economic power, is certainly a legitimate observation, imo. However, it's climb to that point hasn't been so much due to a unified culture (there isn't one in this regard, believe it or not) as due to the workings of our career politicians and lobbyists and corporations for their own gain and as pork for those states whose economies have become dependent on government military contracts, and encouragement by the political parties to get the public to back them by stoking their fear of the future while there are ever increasing expenditures in this area BECAUSE of that unification of fear whereas the rest of us are struggling too hard to keep up to give it much deep thought.

    What is becoming more and more obvious through increasingly popular conspiracy theory touting shows like the Beck show, is the TREMENDOUS amount of dichotomy between the 'culture' that the mass media and politicians and statesmen want to claim about America and the fact that MOST of us don't trust a daggone ONE of them. So much so, that we will entertain conspiracy theories before we believe what those in power say.

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  • 44. At 1:10pm on 26 Oct 2009, Monjo wrote:

    America is big and diverse in terms of geography and climate. The political differences are fairly small - with both Democrats and Republicans favouring a small state nation. The fact Americans can get so venemous over a small issue such as health care payment, only further supports the notion that Americans generally are apathetic, a sign of contentment.
    Of course the country has its fair share (more than a fair share, many may say) of crackpots, loons, deviants, and criminals - but generally most Americans' aspirations, dreams, and tolerances are fairly similar. The country is founded on basic WASP principles - so hard work, honesty, and charity are all seen as good qualities and generally offer reward.

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  • 45. At 1:10pm on 26 Oct 2009, carolinalady wrote:

    Go to the places the tourists DON'T go, my friends; to the little rural towns in the Southern Piedmont, the struggling rustbelt cities, the almost endless suburban sprawl around the Cities of the Plains. Mr. Mardell is correct in referring to "the tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity" found among most Americans going about their daily -- non-televised -- lives.

    The disconnect has always been between what we are and what the movies, television and other fictionalized (Citizen Genet comes to mind) accounts of America and American life make us out to be. 40 years ago, traveling abroad and identifying my home city as Chicago, I was asked if I was a gangster from Germany to the Middle East...how dumb is that? But all those old Al Capone films from the 40's and 50's were still in circulation and that was the perception of "Chicago" to everyone who hadn't been there.

    I am of the opinion that our entertainment media is always going to color the perceptions of the susceptible around the world, but that isn't what Mardell or Professor Kurth were trying to get at. I think the admonition to grow up is aimed at our leaders; President Obama expressed it as well when he encouraged us to put away our childish things. It's time to cease trying to cow everyone else in the world with our guns (now THAT's adolescent...think gangs, think gangs of young terrorists, think the psychology of young testosterone-poisoned men) and to grow up into the reasoned adult status of negotiation and diplomacy...to use some of that tightly-buttoned politeness and deference we Americans are so good at using among ourselves.

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  • 46. At 1:14pm on 26 Oct 2009, AlisterIR wrote:

    Ref #20 @ MagicKirin

    While this is a significant deviation from the original topic, I am only bothering to reply because I am determined to educate readers about certain aspects that I am familiar with and clear up misconceptions.

    About women in the Middle East. Barring Saudi Arabia (of which I do not have a complete picture), all of the other Middle Eastern countries do not impose the complete Hijab on women. The women in these other, relatively (to Saudi Arabia) moderate, countries are not overly bothered about these and other issues; which you would, no doubt, like to describe as "shackling" or "non democratic". As I stated to you, in general, most locals in the Middle East are content with their way of life. What *you* fail to realize (or are ignorant of), is the difference in points of view and think that yours alone trumps others including theirs. I do not know what my religion has to do with anything. Or I perhaps misunderstood what you were trying to say; nevertheless, Shiaa and Sunni Muslims have their own internal differences just like any number of Christian denominations have with each other. I repeat, I fail to see what this point has to do with anything.

    On the point of India; first off, India is not an Islamic state and has made it's view on the bombings very clear and have made clear and open moves to capture and commence legal proceedings against those responsible. Do you really think the people of India are silent about it? In the months following the bombings and after international media stopped reporting about them, there was massive national debate (in India) on local news broadcasting TV channels about the whole issue from internal security to the issue of equipment available to police and counter-terrorist forces to these splinter terror organizations.

    On the issue of Pakistan; it seems to me that you are totally unaware of the military campaign being carried out by the Pakistani Army in South Waziristan province and also of the prior military offensive in Swat Valley. Are you aware of the pakistani Muslim scholar Sarfraz Naeemi, who was assassinated because he was outspoken against suicide bombings and militancy? 1. You seem to be labouring under the misguided belief that the Pakistani government and people are taking the Taliban lightly.

    About this anecdotal woman who was killed, could you please link me to a source of what you have read. I'm afraid that without any more information, I do not know which woman you are talking about.

    About the oil contracts, are you aware that the Iraq "..Oil Ministry continues to negotiate short-term, no-bid contracts with several U.S. and European oil companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell, Total SA, Chevron Corp. and BP."? 2. Could you prove to me that these "short-term, no-bid contracts" are not significant when all of them are totted up? Also, are you aware that Exxon Mobil (American Oil Company) turned down a project on the Rumaila Oil field and only then did BP and CNPC (China National Petroleum Corporation) agree to pick it up? 3.


    1. BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8096776.stm

    2. Cable News Network (CNN), http://edition.cnn.com/2008/BUSINESS/08/30/iraq.china.oil.deal/index.html

    3. BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7585790.stm

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  • 47. At 1:29pm on 26 Oct 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark:

    Yes..It is time for "Adolescent" America to grow up...But, when is the
    next question....

    ~Dennis Junior~

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  • 48. At 1:30pm on 26 Oct 2009, sharpejkev wrote:

    America is alot of things in alot of different places throughout the world but none of these views quite match up with reality. But no place are these false images more entrenched then inside of America itself. Perhaps the rest of the world could come and "grow up" along with us. What does it mean to be "American" when I work along side someone from Puerto Rico, Kenya, Urkraine and China? Regardless of the attitudes of certain groups within the USA, "America" is simply a euphemism for "everybody". America is simply the main outpost for all the worlds international corporations. This it will remain regardless of what part of the world the people who make the decisions originate from. But as the transfer from x-th generation European to first generation "World" continues, any nationalistic tone to discussions about America would have to be viewed as complete nonsense.

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  • 49. At 1:32pm on 26 Oct 2009, Jim wrote:

    First of all, I laud Mr. Mardell for reading an American intellectual: Evangelical Protestant, professor, and notorious Conservative. One would expect to see banner-toting protesters at the studio door of this man. Do the many military bases that America has built around the globe since WWII equate to the control exercised by colonial powers, such as Britain, Spain or China? Only time will tell. It seems that the number of bases has slowly shrunk over of the past two decades.

    Is America naively optimistic about the ability of people to rule themselves? America has invested heavily in South Korea and Taiwan, for example, and they seem no more given to tyranny than anyone else. Could Brazil or India be the next America? I certainly hope so. Europeans and many American intellectuals mistakenly believe that America is going down the road of European colonialism or some other page from their history, but there is no evidence that Americans intend to colonize the planet. For Americans, the dilemma is that others may actually follow the American model.

    America is stagnating in its educational system and health care, but American popular culture is itself derivative of French Modernism of the late 19th century in many regards. As demographics shift, the discourse of American life is shifting. New discoveries in extraction of oil and gas are easing America's reliance on other hemispheres. The drug war in Mexico increasingly makes Central America a key region of interest. With the rise of China to dominance in Asia, America's attention (like Europe's) is shifting toward Asia. What all of this means is that a culturally maturing America will increasingly compete with Europe for Asia's attention. NATO will have to go.

    As an American, I have watched Europeans grow increasingly angry at America, whether they suffered good of ill by us. As I travel Eastern and Western Europe from time to time, it strikes me that the European Union is forging a new identity that is not unlike the ideology of Americanness. Immigrants are bringing painful new questions to the continent about ethnicity and bringing exciting new ways of looking at the world too. One might even interpret the brash posturing of figures like Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel as "adolescent." Mr. Berlusconi undeniably needs to grow up in some of his sexual attitudes.

    How you view us certainly is worth reflection, and we are honored by your concern. However, you might find that America-watching is a distraction from the real task of knowing yourselves. A wise European once suggested that knowing oneself is the key to life, and a wise Semite went so far as proposing that judging oneself is the key. These strike me as far more worldly-wise sources than the beeb or American cinema. Cheers!

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  • 50. At 1:34pm on 26 Oct 2009, rekhamuri wrote:

    The worst aspect of the so-called adolescent culture of America is its terribly dysfunctional primary and secondary education.This is a ticking time bomb that would undermine America as a super power.The country has already acquired some startling characteristics of a typical third world country.Obama is of course throwing lots of money at education.But it is not going to help because the sports/entertainment dominated culture of the country is a huge,invincible beast that would swallow that money easily and become stronger.

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  • 51. At 1:34pm on 26 Oct 2009, thinkingChloe wrote:

    America's plan for Iraq post-invasion was described as intellectually bankrupt. Her aggressive foreign policy under previous Administration(s) arguably created the very groups wishing to humiliate her. There are few places in the world where the USA is even respected, let alone liked.

    Thanks be to God, the States now has an Administration that is finally accepting the responsibilities and consequences of being a superpower.

    Maybe Liberty is setting aside her teenage years after all?

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  • 52. At 1:36pm on 26 Oct 2009, BellaTerra66 wrote:

    Of course we Americans are spoiled. I'm 60 years old, and, except for a few years living in Europe, I've lived in The US all my life. We want what we want and we want it when we want it -- which is usually NOW -- and everyone else can go to the hot place.///To give you a recent minute example, AARP Magazine, current issue, has an article about the new biologics. Biologics supposedly can keep people with cancer alive year after year but at the cost of up to $100,000 a year. One ethicist is quoted as saying that biologics should be made available to everyone with cancer, regardless of income and/or medical insurance. I had to laugh. 80% of the world's population goes to bed hungry, and this ethicist thinks that any American with cancer should be kept alive year after year at that cost?? But that's the way Americans tend to think.///As for exaggerated deference and politeness -- what US is he talking about? I've lived all over The US, though mainly in California and now New Mexico. Americans, generally, are rude and disrepectful. Mostly our young people and uneducated people. But they make up a good portion of our population.///If The US survives this recession -- and that is still not a certainty -- we -- most of us -- the middle class --our lifestyles are going to be much different. We will learn to live better (I hope) with less money and toys, accept that death is part of life's cycle, and hopefully realize that we're not the only people on earth. And, hopefully, there will be less poor and less rich, and the playing field will be a little more level.

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  • 53. At 1:51pm on 26 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    1 bishop. Wake up dude.

    Mark Mardell. Spot on. But Then I've been calling the USA the spoilt brat for a while now.
    America is still in the terrible twos
    "MY this MINE. MY way ME ME"
    There is no US in USA ... Somehow. . That is easy to explain when you look at that two year old.

    America the land that keeps asking " so what do you think" as a question that really is asking "will you agree with my ill conceived, ill thought out rubbish ".


    Anyway I personally had it to here with every Polite, reasonable american I meet" the rude obnoxious ones that are up front can be quite refreshing.
    They seem more human than the general brainwashed version of generic picket fence dreaming padded rugby playing car loven fool.
    Some can think. .
    Polite americans are the ones to watch out for. they call you friend till you say
    "i don't go to church"
    (PS yea I heard it from a local just this weekend. Move go to church be a success.
    move tell them you don't go to church you get called some sort of 'Exclusionary name', what ever it is. Oh they are polite won't dare hear them dodgy words.
    No not them.
    Not the N word, or the J word Nor the Y word, nor any others, just the NOT words.
    the other words like the not one of us.

    So Mark sorry for the rant ,but I reckon yude b rite if you said they was just kids and they needed to grow up a little.
    I can see you trying to make out that maybe they should stay the same. but really, get real man . if they could get past the two's and get to that real fun stage it would be good for all.


    Or they can pretend to be polite to each other while not thinking enough to think OF others.

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  • 54. At 1:51pm on 26 Oct 2009, mikaskywalker wrote:

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  • 55. At 1:53pm on 26 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    cyborgia "only further supports the notion that Americans generally are apathetic"

    I think there should have been a space in there between a and P

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  • 56. At 1:53pm on 26 Oct 2009, RGBviews wrote:

    The analogy of adolescence is correct. The USA acts just like an adolescent trying to find himself or herself. It's all image and lacking substance ...... muscle power over brain power. Why is the USA exceptionally immature? Perhaps the answer lies in the educational system. In most mature countries students are taught to think for themselves and study philosophy, whereas in the USA youth are taught to follow their leaders and study patriotic versions of history. Very few outside the universities question the policies of their government. The vast majority live in constant fear that the "American way of life" is threatened by just about anything foreign. A revamping of the educational system is needed to begin the slow process of bringing the USA into the adult world. In the meantime the rest of the adult world has to suffer the prolonged adolescence of the USA.

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  • 57. At 1:59pm on 26 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    400 miles and the gas stations only sell two types of hand roll smoke . a great choice of A or B.
    Even Bulgaria had more selection.
    "Freedom and markets will get you all the choice you want"

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  • 58. At 2:05pm on 26 Oct 2009, mischievousdoug wrote:

    Mark,
    I think Mr Kurth has it somewhat wrong. Which American leaders act like attention seeking celebrities? Not very many who want to be taken seriously. As an export product, our mass media/culture wrongly portrays the US to foreign audiences (I know this from experience) I always have to tell them: Don't believe what you see on TV! The projected culture is vastly different than the actual culture and people who spend time in the US will see that.
    There are plenty of mature adults doing the right thing. We are all just boring and will never be on television. Yet collectively we are doing things for our community and country and have no time for Hollywood fantasies. We are in the Real World (the real real world, not the MTV show).

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  • 59. At 2:14pm on 26 Oct 2009, MattofNJ wrote:

    As the saying goes, "It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice."

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  • 60. At 2:17pm on 26 Oct 2009, sduranjaya wrote:

    I can't say I disagree terribly with the idea that America has a great deal of 'growing up' to do, but to be quite honest, I cannot say in full confidence that it is going to keep us from losing our place as 'number one'.

    The logical deduction would be that a society whose members concentrate more on goals and the success of other people (group success vs. individual success-- Oh goodness, socialism!!!) is going to enjoy more stability overall, though perhaps very much at the cost of innovation.

    On the other hand, I will say this-- if there is one thing adolescents are remarkably talented at aside from selfishness, it is defying logical expectations. So perhaps a balance might be found with the existence of both types of societies, flawed as they all are, hmm?

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  • 61. At 2:25pm on 26 Oct 2009, tribeca8 wrote:

    I would say that the United States should remain an adolescent country in terms of its optimism, its openness, its entrepreneurial spirit, and its ability to accept new ideas and new peoples. Americans are people who are used to reinventing ourselves and that is a very healthy attitude.

    Where I think we need to mature is in recognizing what we can and cannot do, and what our national and individual priorities must be. In this area, we have been greatly let down by our political classes. Our institutions are generally good, but our politicians are complete idiots, far too concerned with their own political career (and the lobbyists who fund them) to really pay attention to the people who elect them. (As a New Yorker, I would feel ashamed to lecture someone on the virtues of democracy, given the absolute corruption and incompetence of our state government in Albany.)

    As a country, we need to recognize the need to prioritize spending on education, rationalization of our health care system, greater spending on our infrastructure and support for forward looking projects such as renewable energy and internet security. A more rational tax system would also help. What we should do away with are those policies that favor some over the many--the pork that politicians give to their lobbyists, the huge agricultural subsidies and other government give aways. Government (and the people) need to live within their means, control their budgets and make the hard decisions. To mature means to not live as we have before the financial crisis, with Americans borrowing well beyond their means and expecting to be bailed out by the government (I would include business in this as well--I would have rather seen the government let GM fail than to bail out that bloated corporation that can't design a decent car).

    If we saw the financial crisis as the opportunity it may be, we would allow it to sweep away the excesses of the past 8 years, let us reflect without the rancor our political talking heads exhibit, and refocus our priorities to face the challenges of the future (such as how we will work with a rising China, Russia and India; deal with global warming and the challenges posed by a growing and wealthier world population).

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  • 62. At 2:28pm on 26 Oct 2009, Soul News wrote:

    I'll just comment that the main reason many japanese are resistant to the idea of jury trials is that they've seen them in US movies - where they always get subverted. The main reason they have a particular view of certain ethnic minorities is that they've seen the way they act in US movies and dramas.

    In short, US pop culture IS america, for much of the world. And that projected image has a big effect on how people react to it.

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  • 63. At 2:28pm on 26 Oct 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    In my short time here, I've been struck by the tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity of much of American society compared to its rather more free-flowing image abroad.

    How can you possibly judge America by Washington and the couple of other places you've visited briefly? In the political and legal professions there is indeed very civilised behaviour; one only has to watch debates in the House of Representatives and compare it with the House of Commons. From the far "left" side of the United States I do not see anything "tightly buttoned" so perhaps Mark should visit the other side of the country before making such statements. Or possibly America is judged by Los Angeles and San Francisco, which gave rise to the free-flowing "flower children" and "flower power" culture of forty years ago. The image dies hard. Of course, Hollywood, both geographically and filmicly, adds to the impression.

    I see no problem in "exaggerated deference" - it's something the United Kingdom could well emulate. We know that "New Labour" has tried desperately to level the playing field but somehow it has backfired. Since so much that is American has been imported into Britain, perhaps deference, politeness and conformity would be an improvement on what has occurred during the last generation.

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  • 64. At 2:36pm on 26 Oct 2009, panslabyrinth wrote:

    MagicKirin

    Thanks for the reply to my comment.

    However your reply quoted below

    I'd say the moral equvilency argument or the naive viewpoint that everything can be done through negoiation. they are groups like last century's Nazi that can't be compromised with. I would argue the belief system expoused by Iran and Al Quada and their suggorates are in the same category.

    Confirms my suspicions that Americans have a tendency to divide the International community outside the US into good or bad categories and this is just not a 'realistic' viewpoint. There will be good and bad politicians in Iran just as there in in any country. Also, could someone explain to me who Al-Qaeda really are? Are they Saudia Arabians fundamentalists? Well why isn't the US invading Saudia Arabia then? Are they Afgan extremists? Well, the Taliban are extreme but could they have flown planes into buildings in central NY? I think the Taliban are more likely to be unpleasant tribal bullies in an exploited part of the world doing its best to cope with poverty, religious fanaticism, and chaos. As far as Know we are not negotiating with Al-Qaeda anyway, we don't know where on this earth they are!!!

    so which groups are you saying can't be negotiated with? and don't quote dear old Chamberlain at me, as MacPhellimey wrote, it is childish to say any form of appeasement is jsut asking the evil to come on in and create the apocalypse.

    Why don't you come over to Europe? We are diverse and argumentative but the french and Italians have wonderful food and great fashion sense. As for us Brits, well we can make a good cup of tea and speak funny, and there's always some historical relic to look at, men marching past dressed up in the strangest clothes as well. Are we grown up with all this weight of History on our shoulders? No, I dont thinks so, but maybe a bit world weary.

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  • 65. At 2:39pm on 26 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    51

    "Thanks be to God, the States now has an Administration that is finally accepting the responsibilities and consequences of being a superpower."

    terrible two's
    I think they have just started to figure out that there is a mummy and daddy that really do care. The rules are so that little kid doesn't get hurt.
    Thqat not all the time are they trying to ruin it's fun.Just for the sake of it.
    but it will take time to figure out that the parents are quite smart and not so easily taken in.

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  • 66. At 2:41pm on 26 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    60 lol "both"
    if there were only two. then there could be three.
    but then there are 4 and then more.

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  • 67. At 2:41pm on 26 Oct 2009, debussyfields wrote:

    "Adolescent America"?

    Excuse me, but perhaps "Juvenile America" is more like it.

    Ever since the beginning of the "Reagan Revolution", there has been a serious "dumbing down" of American education, which is the kind of social climate needed to tolerate such complete buffoons who represent America on the world stage. Ronald Reagan started it, and now we have morons such as George W Bush and Sarah Palin representing us.

    Additionally, the media followed the "dumbing down" craze with a shift from primarily targeting a more discerning adult audience, to the ridiculous twaddle the USA exports today: "Reality TV", scores of stupid Hollywood blockbusters that tell a simplistic tale of "USA Good" versus "Foreign Evil". If not that, then it is a sequel to some dismal film about a comic book character, or mayve a cinematic treatment of books suitable for children.

    By allowing the USA to slide into a toxic cesspool of moronic entertainment which feebly masquerades as culture, by replacing journalism with infotainment, by tolerating an educational culture which scorns the intellectual and lauds cretins such as GW Bush and Sarah Palin, the USA shows the world its face, permanently frozen in an immature state of being.

    So those who doubt this, tell me why more Americans would rather talk about the Heene family with their flyaway UFO balloon hoax/fantasy, and who's more concerned about the current NFL lineup, than more pressing concerns like the literally bankrupt state of the economy, about the public healthcare debate, and about anything of substance?

    If the USA wakes itself up from its stupor, courtesy of Rupert Murdoch et al, then it can focus on educating Americans to the acceptable standards of the world today, rather than needing to import intellectual talent from overseas, which enjoys higher academic standards.

    All I can say now is, Wake Up America! Your delusional bubble of "USA #1" is about to pop!

    If you are curious as to my nationality, I was born in the USA, and have been an American citizen all my life.

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  • 68. At 2:41pm on 26 Oct 2009, mikaskywalker wrote:

    I am an American, and I must respond to this allegation about American immaturity. There are a vast majority of Americans in this country who understand sacrifice, who understand service, who understand patience, and who understand the responsibilities of freedom. The conspicious consumers who flagrantly flaunt their extremely entitled lifestyle aren't living in the same America, nor do they give us regular folks credit for any intelligence, hard work, or the effort it really takes to make a good family. The obvious Americans live at the expense, not only of the world, but of good, hard working, and very stressed regular people who respect them not at all. This business with the big Bush Bailout is bull. The CEOs and all who made skyscraper salaries had, once upon a time, the obligation to use those monies to rectify exactly the situation which arose! Had it been sheer bad luck, it would have been one thing, but to embrace embezzlement of American enterprise and then extort encumbered Americans, is egregious. Threatening world wide financial ruin, instead of selling the 3rd, 4th, and 5th vacation home and making good on their fiduciary obligations was, I agree, very immature, and highly irresponsible. Is it simply because it was easier to take from the poor and give to the rich, a reverse Robinhood (would that be Doohnibor?). Regular Americans in this country want what people worldwide want, a safe home, good schools, enough to eat, a good society, and a culture they can respect. We are absolutely not getting any assistance or aid as jobs vanish. It was obvious that globalization would mean lower salaries in this country, as we were quite well off, and stabilizing the world meant we would need to come down some as the poorer countries came up. It is very good to see strongly developing economies in various countries around the world. It is very sad to see, though, in globalization greed wins. Globalization does not appear to be about bringing more opportunity to all of the worlds citizens. It seems to be about concentrating wealth in the hands of those who grab on to whatever they can. Just like a $750bn bailout. So, from the trenches of America, the "little people" are far more like the rest of the folks in developed countries around the world, just as self-sacrificing, family oriented, hard working, and patient. So please, do not call my entire country immature.

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  • 69. At 2:43pm on 26 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    bellaterra. you sweet talker you.

    grrr.meow

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  • 70. At 2:43pm on 26 Oct 2009, SimplyJeffrey wrote:

    I certainly hope the study is a bit less purely judgmental than it sounds. As an American, I can understand the anti-American attitude that results from the pop culture values that are exported and unfortunately seen as common to all Americans, many of us find it offensive, one can only imagine how an uneducated person in a 12th century culture must see it.

    However, the kind of analysis reported on the "fascinating study" presented reflects 1) the pent-up resentment towards America's economic position cut loose after the Cold-War previously checked by threats of Soviet expansion, and 2) a general knocking of non-European cultures as less sophisticated, naive, and generally "immature" because they don't conform to Europe's self-centered world views and cultural values. I love Europe, enough to see it's good points and bad, but it's sad that to distance itself from it's own flawed influences world wide for centuries the focus is all on the "childish Americans". Trying to link a populist "green" policy from a fairly corrupt administration as "maturing" speaks volumes about the real problem Europe needs to address - that of utter hypocrisy in international affairs which have been one of the chief reasons for the growth of US influence in the world, starting with having to help straighten Europe's messes in world wars and other areas of the world they meddled in.

    The US is maturing, but like a child that blames itself for all it's parent's problems, it needs to start clarifying responsibility and move on from involvement in the problems of it's European parents that have stunted it for so long. As for promoting the Chinese in lieu of America, I am absolutely sure they will be as full of good will towards Europe as America once was, and come running when you need them.

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  • 71. At 2:51pm on 26 Oct 2009, undrakh wrote:

    This article seems purely academic, and not totally based on reality. The comment "exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity" really surprises me, and makes me think that the author spent most of his time at a University hanging out with professors. The Univ folks are as much a mirror of US society as is "tv-land". I would take this article with a grain of salt.

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  • 72. At 2:58pm on 26 Oct 2009, Philly-Mom wrote:

    -- I love it! America - the awkward teenage years.
    Apparently our current wars are due to misplaced aggression, and our awkward relationships with Britain, France, and Germany are due to confusion about our relationships with our parents and uncles.

    Actually - None of this is surprising to me. It's a quaint metaphor.

    I have a BA in Sociology (which has done me no practical good) and have worked in business administration in IT, Medical Research, and in Higher Education for a number of years.

    SO.... I'd like to toss up a really big: NO KIDDING!

    * Our once superior public education is failing, and has been for 2-3 generations.
    * Our IT Industry has been moving overseas for decades, because it's cheaper for the Chief Business Officers to educate/train abroad... leaving my programmer peers out of work and unable to buy the technology they'd like to be programming.
    * Our Medical Industry has been moving abroad because our domestic insurance and pharmacology infrastructure is such a bureaucratic mess.

    -- If we're going to invest in Tech and Health, we've got some work ahead of us. Are we ready? I honestly don't know.

    Throughout World History - great nations who do not invest in themselves will eventually fail. They will begin to import/consume more than they export/produce, will become dependent upon those whom they once thought they controlled, and will then fail.
    -- Duuuhhhh....

    But what do I know? I'm just a cynical 30-something mother of two kids struggling to survive in a broken city, knowing that my children are already behind in their education (globally speaking). I'm unable to make a significant positive change because I'm just one of the hundreds of thousands of people working too hard to survive to really have the time or resources to deal with our problems.

    Problems? We have problems?

    -- Washington is designed for gridlock and may not be flexible enough to adapt to a rapidly changing global market.
    -- Our Free Market is greed-based and has no civic responsibility.
    -- Too many of our people still think the world is flat. (seriously.)
    -- We haven't been investing in our own people, and have been neglecting our cities, our minorities, and our immigrants.

    ... yes, those wonderful, intelligent and creative minds in other countries who actually want to live here and improve our infrastructure. We deport them and make their naturalization process a pain in the ass.

    We have been shooting ourselves in the foot for quite some time.
    -- I agree. We need to grow up and learn to play well with others.


    *steps down off soapbox and shuffles back to work*


    BTW: Rumor has it that internet urls will soon accept non-Latin fonts. Could it be that Rome is falling?

    Oh well. Go Phillies.

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  • 73. At 2:59pm on 26 Oct 2009, andyRbush wrote:

    It is not a case of growing up but avoiding atrophy and grumpy old age like Europe, where the pursuit of happiness - and most activities are banned. The reality of living in the USA is 180 degrees different from the false image abroad. It is a much more mature and thoughtful place than its negative image tries to imply, and it really is a great place to live compared to the UK or Europe.
    I suspect that the bad image is perpetuated by other governments afraid they might have to become real democracies like the USA. After all, the USA has all-elected representatives who you can actually meet and talk to; unlike the UK where the upper house is virtually barred to the public and full of unelected and unrepresentative people, such as the Bishops. Why are Bishops still ruling the UK anyway.

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  • 74. At 3:00pm on 26 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #32 zeroKnots-

    Please someone help me. Translation please. I thought I spoke English, I speak French, Spanish a bit of Basque but the above post is way over my head

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  • 75. At 3:04pm on 26 Oct 2009, mindxavierbloggz wrote:

    grafpleyel 25

    Yes you're right of course I did get the US bases numbers wrong it's ironic that over 60 years since the end of WW2 there are US bases throughout Europe including the UK. I very recently had a conversation with a more enlightened American who was a nuclear specialist during his USAF service in the sixties. He went to some length in explaining just how an atomic weapon is constructed and how it works. It was vivid and enlightening in some ways, but also frightening. To sum up it has occured to me that, if your standing in this small world of ours is reliant on dominating military strength. There will be a time when that strength will be depleted and the
    result will not be very paletable aka the fall of various previous empires.
    The old adage 'the bigger you are the harder you fall' will be unwelcome to some Americans who believe that 'might is right'. It does not mean that the world will be in any less danger as there will be others who will want to fill the boots.

    What is really needed therefore is a collective will to do this and this should come from the UN which after all does have a world wide membership. If the resources of say Nato would be put to this end rather than the opposite then the world would be a much safer place. Then the USA could do what it is best at, innovation and unbounded enthusiasm in technology and medicine. The UN now with the ultimate power would sort out the policing problems using ALL resources and not just the token it has now.

    There is always a big place for the USA at the table but it's efforts should be improvement of the worlds lot and it's own instead of using a nuclear threat to get what they want. History has shown that real power is in technical creativity, mere weapons are not enough. As I pointed out in my previous post.

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  • 76. At 3:09pm on 26 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #38 MagicKirin
    "I would argue the belief system expoused by Iran and Al Quada and their suggorates are in the same category."

    I think I now understand why you are such a confused person. What makes you think that Iran and Al Qaeda share the same beliefs? They might both dislike or even hate the US but for very different reasons. Al Qaeda for the US involvement in Israel, for various convoluted religious reasons. Iran for the very real reason that US interfered fundamentally and largely to the disadvantage of the majority of Iranians when it forced regimes change on them 1953. They also don't like the Israelis for the very real reason that Israel and Mossad were complicit in that action. It's a case of one's sins finding one out.

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  • 77. At 3:14pm on 26 Oct 2009, nebovonfox wrote:

    roger that! we could all stand to try not to act like spoiled children.

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  • 78. At 3:17pm on 26 Oct 2009, buckeye2 wrote:

    More intelligentsia clap trap - why does the world think we have to justify our existence as a culture and a country to them? The so called intelligentsia of the world demands much and contributes little to the reality the majority of us have to deal with every day. Someone needs to get a life

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  • 79. At 3:27pm on 26 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    I'm not going to get too involved with this blog because I can't really come to grips with the original post I think Mark needs to get about a bit more in the US. Washington may very well be as he describes it but the rest of the US no way.

    #72 Philly-Mom
    Your post made me feel quite humble I wish a few Brits would sit back and take the same dis/passionate look at their country and recognise it's problems.

    And my last little thought is about perception and how the US sometimes creates it's own problems or in this case how Hollywood can do so. I was talking to some friends one day and the subject came around to motor cars. One of the group said he would never buy a US built car. When asked why he replied 'because they catch fire too easily'. His reasoning was that every time he saw a crash in Hollywood movie or TV series the car caught fire therefore American cars must be a fire hazard.

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  • 80. At 3:34pm on 26 Oct 2009, jaislo wrote:

    "I've been struck by the tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity of much of American society compared to its rather more free-flowing image abroad."

    Yeah Yeah Yeah and most people abroad think the USA is NY and LA, maybe Chicago if they are really educated. Please excuse me if I don't put too much stock in the opinions of people that believe they know us based on movies and TV shows. It is entertainment, not reality.

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  • 81. At 3:35pm on 26 Oct 2009, dumbedshouter wrote:

    Obama's the answer to a "Mature" America, but spending and placement of funds will not alone address the leadership role. Healthier understandings, by the public, must include climate awareness and literacy. Conservancy and education mean developments in strategic rather than tactical spending--as far as we know the recent spending helped us out of a recession, but future spending will sure up the infrastructure and facilities for the people and create jobs in a tiring but stable economy. This idea of smaller government, wherever big brother is the feared ultimatum, is the immaturity I see in America; the pundits of the extreme right and left.

    A good dose of regular spending on renewable resources and education will prove, in twenty years, that Obama's key to "Maturing" America. We're nearly voting maturely.

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  • 82. At 3:40pm on 26 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    I don't think "adolescent" is a useful metaphor to apply to "America" or any nation. A careful reading of Kurth's article will show that he does not use it this way.

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  • 83. At 3:42pm on 26 Oct 2009, Granten wrote:

    To start I must admit that I have no trust in anyone who writes on whether a nation will retain its power in the future. There were books published on why the Soviet Union would destroy the United States, on why Japan would be the largest economy in the world, and why nations would never go to war again. All of these books used impressive numbers and pain-staking research, and they all managed to overlook serious flaws in their arguments that would only be exposed much later.
    The writer is correct in that economics factor largely into power, that is no different from any other power that has ever existed. It is no accident that some of the greatest changes in the world happen in times of poverty. However, to rely on that ignores the vital role of diplomats, other states, soldiers, geography and a thousand other concerns that alter the circumstances.
    As for American culture, I am not so certain that the professor has the right thesis. He ignores a point that I feel is vital, that is the matter of the leaders themselves. Do they spend much time paying attention to modern American entertainment? For some reason I seriously doubt Mr. Jintao takes Beyonce into consideration when looking at how China should handle the problem of Iran

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  • 84. At 3:44pm on 26 Oct 2009, Scott0962 wrote:

    "tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity"

    Funny, that's a pretty fair description of British society.

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  • 85. At 3:47pm on 26 Oct 2009, CharlesFilson wrote:

    As a citizen of the United States, I recognize that there are problems with the current culture in America, but it is naive to call this culture 'American'. If you look at this from a historical perspective, you will see this culture, or the hallmarks of it, in evidence in all the peoples who have worn the mantle of world leadership.

    America doesn't need to 'grow up', it needs to revert to its beginings when we were a scrappy upstart; When we didn't believe we would be successful because we were us, but because of hard work and innovation.

    Unfortunately suceess has bred laziness. Now there are people in the US who have forgotten that everything that you think you have a right to has to be produced by somebody. It's a mistake all the great empires have made, were it Britain when the sun wasn't setting or the Romans at their height. It becomes too easy to import the neccessities of life, and when you don't need to produce domestically, you don't need to educate or care for your workforce.

    As somebody above said, those of us who are the heirs to the American dream still believe that hard work and innovation are the keys to success, and as soon as the world finds a new Engine for the world Economy, it will be true again. Then we will be able to re-educate those who have forgotten that everything you think you have a right to, has to be produced by somebody, and America will go back to being the what it was meant to be.

    Please all just remember that the might and power of the United States was tempered by the belief that Americans have always held as a nation of immigrants: that everybody is a potential or latent American. Our firm belief that all people can and should participate in the American dream. Right or wrong, this belief made America inclusive, if parasitic. It softened the touch of American power.

    It looks like the mantle will probably move on the China. I won't draw any conclusions about what the world in their hands would look like. I will leave that to you. But I will say God help the common Chinese people, and God help us all.

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  • 86. At 3:54pm on 26 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    And another thing: the article by James Kurth may indeed be "fascinating" but it is not a "study." It is an article and is just one man's opinion.

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  • 87. At 3:58pm on 26 Oct 2009, PittsburghJoe wrote:

    As an American that has spent (and continues to spend) about 1/3 of my time in the developing world, I think Kurth is essentially right. I'm (mostly) proud to be an American because -- to indulge in stereotyping because that's what everyone else is doing and that's what the topic requires -- I think we are a fundamentally decent people and have many admirable national qualities (energy, self-reliance, sense of fair play, etc.). Still, I see what we export abroad in terms of youth culture and it's pretty disgusting. When back in the US I see reality shows and wonder "who ARE these people??" "Do I actually stand in supermarket lines with them??" I just don't recognize them at all. Are we celebrity-obsessed? Well, yeah. Are the British, Brazilians, Nigerians and the Indians moreso? Well...maybe (only on BBC.com will you see Madonna's opinions on global warming or Victoria Beckham's views on stem cell research being taken seriously). Are we self-centered? Hell, yeah (moreso than others). But I would make a distinction between self-centered as "selfish" vs. self-centered as uninformed about others. I've never been to a country where people aren't at least as self-centered as Americans in the former sense.
    As an earlier poster said, there can be two sides to the "adolescent" coin in the US--the good side and the bad. Other countries are equally adolescent and don't show a lot of the positive attributes.

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  • 88. At 3:59pm on 26 Oct 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    One thing Americans can do well is innovate like a teenager with an arrested attention span. If we can continue to innovate, the rest of the world can improve on our ideas and make them marketable.

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  • 89. At 3:59pm on 26 Oct 2009, LtStJebus wrote:

    America does not benefit from "soft power" only because the country has not projected it.

    To the world at large, America is not defined by its culture. When American culture is discussed, the only common things that appear are more to do with industry and commerce - Hollywood, fast food, big box stores, rap and pop music produced en masse and shipped out by major labels.

    That is quite different from the way people think of culture when they are asked about India, for example. Most would discuss castes, religion, native cuisine and folk arts, etcetera.

    America is not seen to have a particular culture, probably due to the big splits within the country in terms of religion and politics, with many Americans acting as though the Demos and Reps are opposite sides in a civil war, and every issue having even the most minute link to religion being targeted (or exploited) by sparring guests on news shows about ethics and what is "right".

    Rather, people define America by what it displays to the world at large and what is far more easily defined; economy, politics, and military power (which is of course all closely related).

    America is a political entity to the world, not a cultural one. Everything to do with America seems to be about economics, wars, policing, peacekeeping, enforcing a self-proclaimed set of "American values" (which are shared by less than half the population), which appear to be culturally based at first, but the set of values is more akin to a Democrat or Republican party platform.

    You cannot benefit from "soft power" when the world has not even had a taste of it that hasn't been spoilt by overshadowing politics.

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  • 90. At 4:10pm on 26 Oct 2009, jim_of_oz wrote:

    If you think the US is a country that is "tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity" you need to take a driving trip from coast to coast. Get off the main highways and see what follows a "Pop. 2378" sign as well as New York and Chicago and Wichita. While you will in fact, see much of what you've described you'll also see more than your share of rudeness, individuality and 'stick it in your ear' attitudes than you'll imagine.

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  • 91. At 4:17pm on 26 Oct 2009, Frank Foley wrote:


    As for America growing up, lets not forget that it is like one big social experiment to which the outcome is many years from revealing itself.

    The result could be interesting though.

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  • 92. At 4:19pm on 26 Oct 2009, washuotaku wrote:

    Mark,
    It's an interesting read, but I don't think its accurate. There are many things that the future may bring us, a lot more than just "green tech, bio tech, and new medical and health treatments;" it seems rather narrowly focused to just the 'issues at this moment in time' as what we need for the future. The real truth if America stays a super power is its ability to change; that alone is the reason why empires rise and fall. And if that's green tech, communications, space exploration, or making a better hamburger, we should go for all of that and not be so focused.

    For the 'adolescent' American image, that's been the case for decades and not a bad thing. From Rock & Roll to iphones, its probably the one thing people around the world enjoy, our adolescent culture. It's a sterotype, just like Germans are great with finance/math, French are artistic geniuses, and all Japanese workers are effecient. I don't see how one could change a sterotype nor see a reason to bother with it.

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  • 93. At 4:22pm on 26 Oct 2009, expertUSPatriot wrote:

    To MagicKirin:

    Please spell-check and proofread your comments before posting. Your reasoning maybe sound, but your prose paints you as sloppy and illiterate, or perhaps a stroke victim.

    Given America's public current image as ignorant and shallow, we do not need the additional charge of illiteracy added to the list, regardless of its veracity.

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  • 94. At 4:22pm on 26 Oct 2009, DB wrote:

    I think Mark Mardell is exactly right about buttoned-down and exaggerated deference. Americans are never sure of where they stand socially, and in middle class America they are additionally terrified of offending anybody, and frankly kind of hidebound. These characteristics are on most extreme display in Washington DC where Mardell is of course based, but also in places like California and in almost any middlebrow suburb you care to mention; if he could get into some of the more isolated parts of the heartland, such as parts of the South, or the northern Great Lakes region for example, he might find something a bit more culturally familiar.

    Let's face it -- if it weren't for American fear of causing offense, and hidebound behavior and buttoned-down culture, Sacha Baron Cohen wouldn't have had a movie with Borat.

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  • 95. At 4:31pm on 26 Oct 2009, Aaron Michael Long wrote:

    The past is not the future, and China is NOT America. Too much of the world cherishes liberty and justice to follow the global leadership of the world's leader in executions and imprisonment without trial. As for China's grip on the world's purse-strings, that's due to America's complicit policy of encouraging free trade without fair trade.

    How can industry compete on equal footing when domestic regulations forbid pollution and require fair treatment of labor, and no such regulations exist abroad? Furthermore, how can trade be fair when you're dealing with a government who fixes the exchange rate of their currency? Chinese industry is cheap because they keep buying dollars with them. So kindly explain how they're supposed to stop investing in the West's financial markets while still keeping their currency artificially low?

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  • 96. At 4:32pm on 26 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #93

    There is a fault in the BBC board I have checked posts I have done and spelling has been changed.

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  • 97. At 4:33pm on 26 Oct 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    It's all about SEX,DRUGS AND ROCK'N'ROLL. America grow up? Never!

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  • 98. At 4:35pm on 26 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #76

    I think I now understand why you are such a confused person. What makes you think that Iran and Al Qaeda share the same beliefs? They might both dislike or even hate the US but for very different reasons. Al Qaeda for the US involvement in Israel, for various convoluted religious reasons. Iran for the very real reason that US interfered fundamentally and largely to the disadvantage of the majority of Iranians when it forced regimes change on them 1953. They also don't like the Israelis for the very real reason that Israel and Mossad were complicit in that action. It's a case of one's sins finding one out.
    _________________________---

    Obvious there are differences between Iran and Al Quada. but the common thread is intolerance and hatread of other beliefs. If Jews and Christians mysteriosly disappeared, they would immediatly go after those not moslem enough.

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  • 99. At 4:38pm on 26 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    The American Interest purports to be "independent and non-partisan," but Mr. Kurth is clearly an evangelical protestant Christian:

    Debunking American Theocracy

    and he also appears to be a (somewhat conservative) Republican. The plug he inserted in his article for privatization of education is unrelated to his main thesis, and betrays his Republican agenda, I believe.

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  • 100. At 4:40pm on 26 Oct 2009, arclightt wrote:

    All: To the extent that "childish things" refers to things that are self-centered or "now centered" (as opposed to focusing on a real future) or are feelings-centered as opposed to being grounded firmly in objective truth, they should not be "put away"--they should be ejected with great firmness.

    One of the "childish things" that should get this treatment is our unwillingness to manage our finances. Due to past misbehavior on this score, we are now some $57 trillion in debt. Instead of dealing with this now because of the damage it will do to our children and grandchildren, we have heard for 40+ years great cheering from our leaders when a proposal is "deficit-neutral", as if this was a huge accomplishment. When are we going to hear that a budget is "debt-neutral"? When are we going to see our leadership truly hand us the bills and lead us through paying them, rather than continuing to put off the day of reckoning to fall on our children and grandchildren and destroy them?

    Riddle me this: Most folks I know object to paying taxes primarily because of the uncontrolled, ridiculous spending that takes place. If we are willing to pay higher taxes to see the debt dealt with, how on earth do we keep our leadership from turning around and throwing it down yet another hole to win re-election?

    @24 (StD): Your comments about China are on track. They are in a great financial position to force us to do things that we are going to really regret.

    @45 (cl): "It's time to cease trying to cow everyone else in the world with our guns"...To the extent that the defense budget is bloated, I absolutely agree. I also agree that immediately relying on force of arms is not a good approach for the broad spectrum of issues we deal with. Finally, I know that defense spending is particularly awful because not too much of it is multi-use (and so a dollar spent on defense oftentimes has to sit for a very long time before it is actually used for defense). I have to ask, however: Are you willing to see some folks oppressed without remedy simply because there is nobody willing to oppose the oppressors with force? What's the proper trade here?

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  • 101. At 4:41pm on 26 Oct 2009, Colin Wright wrote:

    This is pretty old.

    'Growing up' usually equates to becoming more like Europe -- which rather naively continues to see its own values as the gold standard of civilization and a suitable deference to them as a sign of maturity.

    Moreover, it's pretty old for Europeans to seek out and eulogize Americans who will voice these sentiments for them. In the last analysis, the piece is simply a very indirect illustration of the principle that we all like flattery.

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  • 102. At 4:52pm on 26 Oct 2009, U14189168 wrote:

    Ouch! 'Tis indeed a mixed bag of valid comments, most of which we tried valiantly to address in the central topic of *Why America had to grow up*.. [sic!] However the somewhat puerile views contained in a few rather seemingly irate commentaries were only compounded by the glaring abuse of the English language, grammatically, as well those so painfully mis-spelt and curried, spiced with righteous rant and unholy hubristic nemesis that reveals much binding in the marshes of knotted twickers amongst those who have gladly embraced the politics of fear, with a resentment of those perceived as 'the others'. Thus, we have all joined the common herd in our headlong rush in that unending race to the bottom of the bottomless abyss where the progenitors of fear have sway.

    The views of 'reubenr' wins my assessment of a sane and balanced opinion that projects an accurate enough picture of his 'adolescent America' which shows an element of erudition not generally apparent in the disparate conglomeration of so many whose sense of 'patriotism' towers above all else that's not woven, bound in a flag without which there does not exist what is regarded as the spirit and soul of a lost nation so passionately and forever invoking the blessing of the 'Almighty', whilst hell bent on destroying the lives and cultures of those who once were erstwhile 'allies', patently reflecting the true nature of the immature in the display of "schadensandschloßfreude"...or, 'I am bigger than you, so I have every right to smash your sand castle in, as it gives me such joy..' and yes! War may be terror, but 'military glory is... the attractive rainbow that arises in showers of blood'..if I may be so bold as to quote Abraham Lincoln - 1809-1865. 16th US President.

    If America is still in its infancy.. after all, what is a quarter of a Millennium against the backdrop of time since mankind crawled out of the primordial swamp, and still savouring the blood lust of his long removed ancestors? The answer lies in the very fact that his insatiable propensity for murder, mayhem and indescribable madness is intrinsically 'wired in the blood'.

    I hope that somehow, somewhere, sometime.. in the uncertain duration that awaits humanity, and given the seemingly forlorn hope that we will step back from the abyss, from the Lemming-like compulsion to an utterly *M-A-D* desire to self annihilation, that is: before we have to face off with a much more mature and intellectually, scientifically superior and/or militarily far more advanced species from 'Other Worlds' who will have come to regard humanoids as the flotsam and jetsam of far ancient Meteoric detritus matter that's been 'alien' and lost in space for much longer than Galactic records can determine.

    If so, then these facile arguments we indulge ourselves will be seen to be nothing more than a posturing, thrashing about as mindless marsupials, as testosterone driven deer in the rutting season, in a display that our so-called 'leaders' are infinitely obsessed in carrying on.. along with the amount of metal they adorn themselves with, usually after much imaginary 'battles' that they drive their hapless citizenry to engage in.. whilst saving their precious hides in well protected bunkers equally well stocked with the very best that is provided to ensure their own survival.

    This must be the one hope that we all ought to embrace, IF we are to regard ourselves as having matured, really 'developed' and civilised within the true sense of the term.

    Adolescent America? Hmmmm... it may be averred that it takes one to know one.. and, when we all know the good as good, there arises the knowledge of evil.. Here I think the wise Lao-tzu must be credited such thoughts.

    Will our vain and disoriented, delusional"leaders" ever emerge to truly lead us from the 'evils' they conjure with such dollops of fear so as to maintain what they regard as a 'God-given' duty in maintaining the status quo?

    A forlorn hope indeed. Which 'God' are we to supplicate.. for 'blessings'??

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  • 103. At 4:57pm on 26 Oct 2009, arclightt wrote:

    @72 (pm): Nicely, and sadly, written. But if you are displaying these attitudes to your children, you are already contributing in a mighty way toward ensuring that there will be someone in the following generations who "gets it" and who can try to use their influence to see that others "get it".

    To quote Winston Churchill (October 29, 1941): "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy...."

    "These are not dark days; these are great days--the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race."

    What was true about that then, is true today, and will be forever. Just reading that revs my motor up.

    Off to another meeting!

    Arclight

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  • 104. At 4:58pm on 26 Oct 2009, loyalaumort1 wrote:

    American has alot of work to do, that cannot be denied. But, to say America needs to "grow up" is a fairly ethnocentric view point isnt it? To say it needs to "grow up" implies it needs to lay aside its childish notions and become something else, the question being what? Europe? I hope not! As an ex-pat here in the states I can say whilst America has a great deal of work to do, its no worse really than Europe.
    America is VAST nation with countless different cultures mixing fairly well, which shows at least in some respects it is more "grown up" than Europe!

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  • 105. At 5:02pm on 26 Oct 2009, johnehart wrote:

    Well there are many unfortunate aspects of American culture and society that commentators are justified in pointing out. European countries can hardly talk of being "more mature." You have just as many problems as we do and a number that we don't have or have far less of. You have corruption, human rights abuses, and meddling foreign adventurism (eg. francafrique). You have racism, nepotism, cronyism and class-ism to a degree that the US just cant match. The UK, especially, has built the world's most pervasive and pernicious surveillance society (this post may even be "moderated" by it) and is the epitome of the pejorative, "nanny state." You speak of your mature "progressive societies" yet you have only achieved a semblance of this by exterminating everyone in say "France" that wasn't "French" over the past centuries and so on. Now you have huge trouble accepting people who aren't "British" or "French" in the sudo-ethnic sense of the word. When you should be forming a European Union that would rival or surpass the US in economic, political and even military power, you are held back by your old, puerile animosities and suspicions. Looking back, you've unleashed the most destructive wars in recorded history, only to spend 50 years hiding behind American arms whilst you take potshots at our efforts to defend you. I could go on but the bottom line is that *every* country has faults and each should look long and hard at themselves before casting the first stone. Last time I checked, the US was the only country who openly admits its faults and its ideals in its mantra: "in order to form a more perfect union." The US is a country of *ideals* and individual freedom, and is as such easy to criticize when it falls short, as it always will, in pursuit of perfection. However, the UK nothing more than a country of "being British" and France of being "French." You stand for nothing except yourselves and your own self-interest and you even fall all over yourselves to compromise that in Afghanistan. On the other hand, nowhere but the US do a greater variety of people get along as well as they do, not perfectly mind you, but always striving to be. You'll never have a "civil rights" movement, you'll never have an Obama, because your Obama can never be British or French or German enough, or come from the right stock or class, his blood will never be sufficiently blue. Who are you people really? What do you stand for? What will you *die* for? I doubt if you can answer that question with anything but immature, adolescent tribalism. At least we try and that's, more often than not, more than can be said of you.

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  • 106. At 5:15pm on 26 Oct 2009, Philly-Mom wrote:

    You know, Mark --

    I told you that you would get a strange perspective of our USA if you stay in DC too long. All of DC is 'The Bubble'. Washington is the ONLY city in our nation that
    -- isn't part of a State
    -- has only 1 civic revenue source: National Politics.

    Frankly, it's a dull town. Go visit Baltimore. Come visit Philly. We have more statues and monuments than DC! (and more poor people, and more art, and more industry, and better teams. Go Phillies.) Heck, I've never been to Chicago, but I bet it provides a much better view of America than DC.


    Now, About America:
    Three blind men were asked to describe an elephant. The one holding the tail said it was like a snake, the one holding the ear said it was like living fabric, and the one holding the leg said it was like a tree.

    We Americans are almost as blind as those men. We are all right, but we are all wrong.

    The narcissistic woman on Hollywood and Vine (and her implants) are part of America. The Christian Fundamentalist Arm-Chair Politician who lives two hours East of her in Orange County is also part of America.

    The stay-at-home suburban soccer mom is America, and so is the impoverished mother of five in the city whose mechanic husband can't provide health care for his staff.

    My Korean-American, Navaho-American, Indian-American and Senegal-American friends are just as American as the struggling farmers of the mid-west and the white factory workers of our industry towns.
    (BTW: I've met many immigrants, and none of them are felons.)


    You know, I kind of love these here 50 states. We have our problems, and we may not work through all of them fast enough to stay "on top of the world", but who cares?

    -- I have clean water, a job, a family, and my little urban garden was rather plentiful this past summer. My neighbors are working to clean up our city parks. A solar panel vendor came through town recently. Maybe next year I'll get a job closer to home and will bike to work. Now, THAT's change I can believe in.

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  • 107. At 5:18pm on 26 Oct 2009, jmgreenway wrote:

    My answer would be, yes, the US popluation needs to grow up. But "growing up" should not translate into lack of imagination or ingenuity, as some have reactively simpered. Ironically, this reaction endorses the observation. Immaturity equates maturity with loss of vibrancy and vitality, but this impression itself is a product of our cultural pre-occupation with youth. America can provide countless examples, historic and contemporary, of mature adults changing society through innovation. I would argue that, contrary to what is placed in the limelight, this is most frequently the case. I think part of the resistence to the allusion of American cultural immaturity is the inference that those making the observation are elitists propagating some sort of classism. Again, a childish point of view. Because of the American abhorrence of mature and intellectual observations the US will not maitain it's status. It cannot. The historical markers of a degenerating society are already in place and until the general American culture is willing to face this, and make the necessary adjustments, their course is unfortunately set. For the record, lest I be accused of being one of the foreign elitists, I am a California resident and native who has travelled the US extensively and Europe once.

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  • 108. At 5:20pm on 26 Oct 2009, dollynaples wrote:

    I could not agree more with your comments. I have lived here 7 years now and love America and my American family. However, I was shocked to discover, upon arrival that living here is very different to visiting. Americans are very old fashioned, care too much what other people think of them and their status in life and don't care enough about the rest of the world. It's a disposable society that has changed little since the recession, in fact most are reacting with shock and disbelief that this could happen to them and want the government to fix it, but I have met very few prepared to cut back, go without, accept responsibilty and move on.
    The unwavering belief that this is the 'freest' country in the world is also very frustrating. Unless you have true separation of church and state you cannot be free. Until the press can ask the government any question at any time without submitting it to the press office first, you do not have freedom of the press, so on and so forth. Liberalism being a dirty word gets tiresome too.
    On the flip side, I have never lived anywhere where the people are so gracious, welcoming, forgiving and generous. Before I lived here I thought 'have a nice day' was a bit chintzy, now I know they actually mean it.

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  • 109. At 5:20pm on 26 Oct 2009, nails01 wrote:

    Is this anything new? We have been hearing this from the left for years on end. The US does not force it's popular culture on anyone. People go to Starbucks, McDonald's, The Gap and Wal-mart of their own free will. No sinister plot, just people buying what they want.

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  • 110. At 5:26pm on 26 Oct 2009, dkrthree wrote:

    Grew up in Europe - got a British education through "O" levels - and well remember this (rather constant) theme 40 years ago! What was adolescent about the US in the 20th Century? The Marshall Plan, The UN, Bretton Woods , or The Nuremberg trials? This analogy speaks only to, dare I say, old and tired European prejudices.

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  • 111. At 5:27pm on 26 Oct 2009, Philly-Mom wrote:

    T1m0thy dear - you speak a bit of Basque?

    My husband has been looking for a Basque Bar-Mitzvah card for some years. Just for the novelty of it, mind you. Let me know if you see any, eh?


    -- oh, and don't worry, that rant up above was clearly a fine example of our public education system. Don't Panic. Move along, move along, nothing to see here...

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  • 112. At 5:27pm on 26 Oct 2009, larry278 wrote:

    I assume that your recounting of the Prof's remarks is correct. The USA boasts of being youthful & big. I don't expect the USA's people to abandon that self-immage. I'm an American. When I become friendly with a foreigner, I get them a gigantic American style meal to give them a 1st hand eperience of American excess. For good or ill, the USA & its people are the epitome of excess.
    Both Peter Pan & the USA will never grow up. I've learned to live with it. It's my heritage. If American's abandon hubris-it will signal that they are ready to deal with life as she is lived by the rest of the world. Since I'm 72, I'm not going to live to see that.
    BTW, I'm an Anglophile & I've learned to trust BBC. Living through WW II in the USA has taught me that the BBC makes it a point to tell the truth or remains silent. The UK was the USA's ally in WW I & II. The UK's propaganda in WW I was far the superior to Deutschland's efforts. US schools still teach that the Brits are the good guys despite the struggles of the Empire's colonies to become free.
    You Brits have the BBC to tell your story. When I lived overseas during the USA's war in 'Nam. I listened to AFRTS & the VOA but I made sure to listen to BBC news. Yes, I listened to Radio Hanoi, Moscow & Havana. I had a lot of time, all of these services had good signals & I'm an American & I listen to what I want to hear, even if the truth hurts my feelings. I have a few scars from wounds but no scars from truth.

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  • 113. At 5:31pm on 26 Oct 2009, SinShiva wrote:

    American. Oddly enough, i can agree in the general sense that our government needs to grow up. I'd love to see our government take some of our military and use them to clean up cities, get rid of gangs and the like. I'm not saying we need to declare martial law, but we've got a whole lot of military sitting around doing nothing and there's plenty of local law enforcement that i'm sure could make use of them. Why can't our military coordinate more where the FBI and such aren't typically used? The reality is that our government is a ghost when it comes to the 'real' aspect of the US, seemingly having a stronger presence in countries i don't care about. I suppose, my main wish is that some things need to become stricter whereas others need to be looser. Like many have pointed out time and time again, we put too much emphasis on the shit that doesn't matter making it tougher for people to enjoy the simple things while doing jack shit to improve on the rampant crime that results in unnecessary lives lost. We have this mindset where if we try to fix anything, we'll just make it worse. Thus, our state-side government is completely reactive. Obama seems to be our first 'proactive' figure, trying to pave the way for my country after the inevitable collapse by taking the best pieces from as money countries around the world and incorporating them into ours. Unfortunately, our population can only look at most of his decisions with 'and how the hell do you think you are going to pay for that?' rather than 'oh snap, that'll be great to have when our economy is *ACTUALLY* on the rise.' For some damn reason, my fellow countrymen have this idea in their heads that Obama can spirit away the multitude of mistakes that formed the foundation of my country in 4 years, that we will have a booming economy in 8 and everybody will die rich in 12. My realistic expectations are that Obama is gearing the US for what happens after the collapse, and we'll be *SO* much better for it. And i say 'collapse' like i expect it. It so happens i can accept the cold, hard truth.

    Sorry for the lack of any kind of indentation.

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  • 114. At 5:34pm on 26 Oct 2009, Ambiance-Moushkila wrote:

    i have lived in the US for 11 years now, and I think that there are too many faces of America to just pick one above all the others. generally, however, one thing is clear: Americans WANT to do good, and they often feel misunderstood by the rest of the world, whether they express it in regret or in arrogance; they have an incredible sense of self and an amazing belief that, here, things can be done, progress can happen and unity will prevail.
    the trouble is that the past few years/decades have deeply challenged those beliefs, and perhaps those beliefs are now stronger as a result.
    i wouldn't tell Americans to "grow up." I think that, deep inside, they are more grown up and responsible than many of the world's citizens. HOWEVER, i would urge the Americans to step back and think of WHY they haven't been able to live up to their creed, why all of a sudden they feel one insecurity after another - from war to economy to health. Where have they been this whole time, to suddenly wake up and realize the mess their world has become? Has someone played a really bad joke on them? And on the World? And if so, WHOM? If politicians say they care about their subjects, WHY are they not coming through with their promises? Do politicians even MATTER anymore? (answer: no) WHO IS DOING THIS??
    Americans need to quit staring at their TV screens and start questionning what they see. They need to step out of their comfort zone (for those who still have one), learn to come to terms with the new reality of the world and most importantly, CHALLENGE what they see as unfair. They need to shake the foundations of a system that no longer works for them, before it's too late.
    And yet, I would still not use the term "grow up", for a very simple reason: No one should be a in position to tell them so. No other nation is experiencing what Americans are going through. There is no template for how citizens of a superpower cope with such a mess. No one has been there before. All the rest of the world can do is wait, hope, and see what happens next. Most importantly, we need to LEARN from it. We have no other choice.

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  • 115. At 5:35pm on 26 Oct 2009, mischievousdoug wrote:

    If the USA is so screwed up and adolescent, how have we done so well over the 200 years. Where is the ideal to emulate? Nowhere. We have our problems but overall we've done pretty darn well for ourselves and although we should strive to do better as a nation, we shouldn't apologize for who or what we are.
    It is a force of nature for nations to rise and fall. Our global dominance will wane in many regards. The America haters out there should think twice about the future; what will fill the void?

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  • 116. At 5:37pm on 26 Oct 2009, Edward Hewlett wrote:

    I realize that Mark Mardell in this superficial article is ostensibly merely bringing up a question that an American has already raised, but the effect of this article, particularly with the title it has been given, is surely to give the impression of just another supercilious dismissal by an arrogant European (or Brit). Much of what has been remarked about the immaturity of American pop culture is true of all modern western pop culture. And, yes, it is very different from the basic culture of the solid (but nevertheless open-handed and friendly) society of the American West and Midwest. I'm afraid that what many Europeans mean when they judge America as immature (and it sometimes is) is that American should become like much of European society has become: cynical and lacking in confidence in its own roots. America, by the way, seems at the present time to be on the way down (as does much of Western society), but less so than Europe does. --a Canadian anglophile

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  • 117. At 5:40pm on 26 Oct 2009, whitedovedh wrote:

    To MK;

    Haven't noticed the board changing any of my OWN diction or grammar.

    Also, "Obvious there are differences between Iran and Al Quada. but the common thread is intolerance and hatred of other beliefs. "

    As one American to another (presumed) American; living in a country in which hate crimes are on the rise (which is consistent with other parts of the world), that saw the rise of slavery at it's peak because of ECONOMIC reasons for a wealthy minority, resulting in a civil war that killed more Americans than ANY OTHER WAR BEFORE OR SINCE...Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority, Timothy McVeigh, Columbine, Waco and the Branch Davidians, the seizure of women and children from a private enclave and disposition of the children as wards of the state because of the practice of polygamy, the current anti-illegal backlash, and amidst the current political diatribes traded publicly which CLEARLY reveal antipathy towards others' opinions (socialists, libterds, communists, anti-same sex marriage, anti-abortion activists that justify murder in the defense of unborn babies and such)

    You MUST BE KIDDING ME!...they are OH so how much different than us in their intolerance and hatred of other beliefs?

    The only reason we TOLERATE differences of opinions and actions here in the US fairly consistently and without bloodshed is because we are FORCED TO BY PENALTY OF LAW! and largely, most of us respect that law...still, there are some that break laws, and still, government sometimes usurps personal and group freedoms in it's quest to maintain it's own power.

    But, imagine if there WERE NO LAWS! Or if those laws did not uphold national standards of freedom of speech, business law, civil law, and were instead administered by local cleric according to however the local warlord or cleric interpreted the Holy Book. We don't even have a consensus here in the WEST on how to interpret the various verses of the Bible; so we should be so surprised HOW? that there are so many inconsistencies elsewhere within the context of other religions and forms of government? and that the people suffer from them? and are as much victims of circumstance and world politics and ignorance as some of us may be? That here in the US, right NOW, there are a substantial number of people in favor of having a religious person heading our government that should use religion as the major basis for the creation of laws? What have the anti-abortionists been claiming for years now? How about the anti-evolutionists?

    There ARE some few that believe they are justified in the bombing of abortion clinics, murdering physicians that perform abortions, murdering women and children in the name of national security (Waco). We are so different, HOW?

    It seems to me that one of the MAJOR differences between them and US isn't our NATURES, but a more intact society, with an established justice system that has evolved from a 3-tier system of a more balanced, democratic NON-RELIGIOUS government, that more successfully controls the BEHAVIOR of the individuals in our OWN society than THEIR tribal and non-democratic governments are able to control THEM; and a system HOWEVER imperfect it is in at least some sense answerable to the people upon which it imposes the rule of law.

    I think our relative affluence and social stability blinds us to the other realities that much of the world has to live in because of the leadership and economies (or lack thereof) of their own nation states and the information that many of these people receive of the West is so limited and associated with some of the exported visions of narcissistic depravities that our corporations and media (alcohol, nudity, sexual immorality) so readily export while too many of these people live in squalor and too readily believe in their own versions of conspiracy theories while fearfully trying to protect their OWN property and religions and lifestyles while WE (or our representatives) are trying so hard to buy it all up and export in the quest to find new markets)...

    and we IMAGINE to ourselves that we are so superior and they are so inferior that the argument is JUST THIS SIMPLE... our best defense is a good offense so we should just...what...kill them all?

    So one religion (as long as it is OURS) is so morally superior that it has the 'right' to rule the others and condemn them without a trial because we have named them all 'terrorists' if they speak negatively of us and worse, have organizations within their societies that we find it impossible to track, we condemn all because some bomb innocent people (and WE never have, not even in 'Nam) so we're going to consider them all equally culpable when the majority of them HAVE no democratic power within their own nations which are ruled by self-seeking religious fascists serving their own interests?

    This is where that moral hazard of hypocrisy begins creeping in...

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  • 118. At 5:41pm on 26 Oct 2009, mrjohnphipps wrote:

    I left the UK at 23 and have since lived in the US for 39 years (Texas, Connecticut and California).

    Agreed the US's success is due to economic success due to constant innovation especially in business.

    And yes the US Federal Government needs to grow up, not business. The Government is killing the golden goose through special interests. The tax code is disgracefully complex because special interests in cahoots with government want it that way (most people have to hire an accountant). Litigation is extreme because lawyers in cahoots with government want it that way. Health care costs are extreme because the medical industry in cahoots with government want it that way. We've got a huge Ethanol industry due to insane credits to growers, even though it takes more energy to produce it than you get back. I could go on and on.

    The solution? The people have to grow up too and vote in the "good guys" over their own "special interest guys". This probably won't happen but its only chance is a national "movement" pushed by some very credible entity, maybe current and future Presidents.

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  • 119. At 5:42pm on 26 Oct 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” - Albert Einstein

    "Growing up" would not result in US domination.

    “It is our nature to conform; it is a force which not many can successfully resist. What is its seat? The inborn requirement of self-approval.” - Mark Twain

    Cain't have no rebels without a conforming society, and we do love our rebels.

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  • 120. At 5:44pm on 26 Oct 2009, jacog3 wrote:

    I know you only just got here and need time to get a fuller impression and understanding of us, but...

    It sounds to me like you've come here with a lot of preconceptions about America and Americans that fit into the typical and oh so boring general stereotypes. Just the way you phrased the question alludes to this. It is such an old chestnut I'm surprised you would resurrect such a relic of the past regardless of the study sited.

    There is also an unstated assumption in your tone and question that Europe and Europeans are more mature (ie, wiser). This is also a stereotype that you've apparently ingested without any serious self-analysis.

    What you term "adolescent" we view as young and vigorous. America and Americans embrace our youthfulness which, as with any society, manifests both our strengths and weaknesses.

    "It is usually forgotten that this popular culture is chiefly popular with the young - particularly those young who are still irresponsible, rebellious and feckless..."

    This is the fuddy-duddiest statement I've read in a long time. It sounds like some old-timer complaining about "kid's today". It is also untrue since popular culture crosses all generational lines in America.

    Those "irresponsible, rebellious and feckless" youth were the ones massively organizing behind Obama to precipitate change in America. They are also in the vangard of movements for a large range of social and environmental causes creating and utilizing innovative mediums to generate attention and facilitate action.

    "If American leaders want to lead the leaders of other countries, they will have to act like mature adults, not like the attention-seeking celebrities of American popular culture."

    This is condescending in the extreme and enrages me with its pomposity. I have an overwhelming urge to say "I know I am but what are you!" - that's the level of discourse I consider this statement to be on.

    "Perhaps he's just spotted the difference between the heartland and TV-land."

    You obviously haven't been here long enough to recognize terms that are media cliches. Just one of many lazy crutches ("red and blue states:) the American media uses to create a sense of excitement in the conflict between "oppositional" forces. America is a lot more diverse in each region, state, county and neighborhood than the simplistic caricature the media uses to portray us.

    "In my short time here, I've been struck by the tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity of much of American society compared to its rather more free-flowing image abroad."

    Rather than using a study as a setup to offer your personal observation of American society you should have dedicated the entire post to the subject. You throw it out there without offering any explanation or background in how you arrived at this opinion.

    What exactly does "tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity" mean? What sort of "free-flowing image abroad" do we have? How do the two contrast and/or from where do they derive?

    Personally, I believe it derives from an outdated image of the ugly ill-mannerd American abroad with which you are subconsciously contrasting. Generally speaking, Americans are raised to be polite, well-mannered and considerate to others - especially to strangers and in public.

    And if I might remind you, you are not exactly hanging out with the rowdiest crowd. The Washington DC bubble-boy syndrome of sycophantic conformity is a local disease. Get outside the deference-belt and you'll find a cornucopia of different styles, attitudes and manners.

    All of which you can then passive-aggressivly deride by asking questions you neither support nor answer yourself.

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  • 121. At 5:46pm on 26 Oct 2009, graywolfman wrote:

    As a country I do believe we need to grow up... But there are also so many misconceptions about this place. If you go from New York to Colorado to California as someone who knows nothing of the states at all, it would seem like you were visiting different countries that all happen to speak the same language.

    It is true that our pop-culture and media influences the world because it is what we pump out in the most volume and splay out for everyone to see. The only way we're going to change the world's view of us as a nation would be to completely change our pop culture (too much money being tossed around for that to ever happen), or for every person in the world to visit here at least once and travel from place to place to get a taste of the diversity and culture.

    I am here working at a data center for a healthcare company that runs 12 hospitals and ~72 clinics just in this state. All we are dedicated to is making sure we have 99.999% up time with all systems to keep people alive, keep these places running, and serve the ‘customer’ the best. How amazing is that? A friend living 100 miles away went to college just to learn what he loved, he does it out of his garage now while working a regular job, just because he loves doing it. Not too many other places would even allow that, let alone encourage it.

    This is an amazing country, it is also a broken country to a certain extent, and we do need to grow up. When it comes down to someone who can look like they are crying very convincingly on screen being more well-known and renowned than someone who won a Nobel Prize for advancements in medicine in this country.. Something is definitely out of place. People here throw more money at a single movie in a weekend than an entire cancer fund-raiser can gather in a week. People need to wake up here… there are things more important than whether or not Megan Fox is going to be in a new movie.

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  • 122. At 5:58pm on 26 Oct 2009, Jacques Bouvier wrote:

    What's this about 'adolescent' and 'grow up'? Sounds pretty condescending, perhaps even biased. This will sell well with some, but it is not a good way to reach out to those who are not already of your mind set. Mr. Mardell, if you want a sympathetic reading in the USA, perhaps you should avoid terms that indicate prejudice.

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  • 123. At 6:04pm on 26 Oct 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    So, why do we want to be the leader of the world's leaders? If we were to give up our "sole superpower" status, how would that affect us? So, we wouldn't be able to wipe out the combined forces of the world. Really, who cares? We've had that ability for a while now, and it's been of little use. We could pare back considerably and still not be in any danger of invasion.

    No one wants to say this during a time of war, but we're going into hock in big part because we spend 500 billion dollars a year on the military. If we were to return to where we were 65 years ago, would life be all that different than it is now?

    Absolutely, we wouldn't be drowning in debt.

    World War II is over. The cold war is over. Time to return to a multi-polar world. Time to return to perfecting our imperfect union. There's much to be done.

    Growing up means putting away our toys.

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  • 124. At 6:06pm on 26 Oct 2009, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    ...I've been struck by the tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity of much of American society compared to its rather more free-flowing image abroad. But is Prof Kurth right that it is time for America to put away childish things?

    I find it interesting that many of those commenting here aren't aware of just how accurate the above description of American society actually is.

    Anyone who's ever worked in business where formal working attire is a requirement, unless it's a "casual Friday" - and then there are limits to what you can wear, knows what tightly-buttoned means. There's almost no flexibility in business here. Show up to that job interview dressed casually and your employment dreams are toast - even if the office maintains a "business casual" dress code. And remember, gray, taupe, navy blue, black or brown is your friend.

    Exaggerated deference. Courtesy in America is still considered de rigueur. Those who are not courteous are considered ill-mannered boors. Ever asked someone where they'd like to eat and, even if you're in the mood for something else, for whatever reason, gone along with their wishes? Ever held a chair or door for a woman? Ever let an unrelated male watch a sporting event when he's a guest in your home and should be talking to you or your other guests, and then said nothing? Ever waited to start eating until your host says, "tuck in"? Ever made up a plate of food for a guest to take home? Ever offered to let someone spend the night, because it's too late for them to get safely home? Ever held an elevator for a coworker, fellow tenant, or delivery man you didn't know? Ever said good morning to a stranger? If you've ever engaged in any of these forms of behavior or been on the receiving end of similar, you have been a victim of courtesy.

    Politeness. Please, thank you, yes ma'am, no ma'am, good day, good afternoon, good evening, may I take your order, is everything all right here, how can I help you today, will you be wanting anything else with that, would you like some coffee, please take a seat, someone will be with you shortly, excuse me, pardon me, how are you, have a nice day. Those are all common everyday phrases we may say or have said to us as a matter of routine - and it's almost always done with a smile. It's so much a part of American culture that we hardly notice it - until we travel overseas.

    Conformity - Ever heard, thought or said the phrase, "Where are his manners? Was he raised in a barn?"? Americans hate rudeness, even if they are rude themselves. Americans hate being treated less than courteously, even if they are less than courteous themselves. And the vast majority of us, no matter how poor we are, strive to be well dressed, courteous and polite wherever we are and whomever we are with. Without being aware of it, we conform to the standards of the community around us. Peer pressure rules. And those who don't conform quickly find themselves ostracized and without invitations to the dinner party, the poker game, the golf course or whatever social event the "nice people" get invited to.

    As for the rest, I find Professor Kurth's idea that American leaders shouldn't project our traditional "soft power" image, because it's too juvenile, utterly ridiculous and deliberately misleading. As a conservative, I've no doubt the professor prefers the Eisenhower cultured businessman/military man image, or the hardy and stolid Texas rancher/brush clearer myths spun by Bush's I & II, or even the Reagan cowboy facade to Harry Truman's "everyman" barbecuing on the White House lawn, Bill Clinton's avid runner finishing up at a local McDonald's, and Obama's burger eating sports fanatic persona. These must grate on his nerves and remind him of his feckless, irresponsible students.

    He probably doesn't have much respect for these young people. And he seems to forget that American popular culture, our music, our films, our fashions, our world wide web (No arguments on who invented the technology, please. American investment and know how made it accessible) even our fast food, have helped to Americanize the planet so as to make popular democracy desirable, because everyone but the most hardened cynic wants to feel young and free.

    Professor Kurth's argument reminds me of those stodgy old folks or the very young, who think the Baby Boomer generation ought to have gone home and sat down in their rocking chairs as soon they had children. Instead, we kept on going to concerts, clubs and doing the things we loved. Obama's public image may not be what Kurth imagines a President ought to project, but it's his image in private that counts. People take you seriously when you are serious. Nothing else matters in the end. Cultivating a facade of mature dullness would simply turn young people off to America. And it's the young people we want to influence. Get 'em while they're young and impressionable. And, whether they want to be American or not, they'll absorb those parts of American culture that seem most valuable to them. Which will in time help turn the world into one big melting pot, i.e, the Global Village that makes a future of peace and prosperity, rather than animosity and violence, more likely.

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  • 125. At 6:11pm on 26 Oct 2009, titain007 wrote:

    You call this country childish, that we need to grow up? Ok, then by who's example should we follow? Who is the mature parent of the world willing to show us the errors of our ways and teach us right from wrong? Or more to the point: who's big and bad enough to spank us for misbehaving? Oh wait, no one. I contend we are the parents, and yes we want what we want and we want it now because we work hard for what we want. Do not mistake our soft hand of diplomacy for weakness. Nor should you discount our military interventions as meddling in the affairs of others. We are the ones who watch over you, feed you and protect you. Its fine to call us childish now but, who will you turn to when your boarders are breached, when your food is gone, when the earthquake destroys your cities? What currency do you horde in your banks? You call the USA because you know we are here and we will help. We help because we believe in the equality of humanity and freedom, the freedom of equality. Not only do we believe this but we fight and die in your countries, on your shores, at your borders so that you might one day have that choice. If you think us childish, immature, an obstinate child then please by all means show us a better way. Now you are free to pick and clean to the bone my arguments. find fault with what I say, but before you do know that I am aware of our imperfections and besides do you really want to engage in intellectual conversation with a child?

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  • 126. At 6:13pm on 26 Oct 2009, InLosAngeles wrote:

    I am an American, of South Asian origin, and have grown up here. America always needs enemies (I suppose all massive empires do), and this self-fulfilling prophecy will continue to recycle itself, and destroy, as it did to empires such as the British. Colonizing others is an excellent way to make the phantom enemies become real, very quick. MagicKirin represents the sort of American who has not experienced the world outside, and thus regurgitates what the blatantly political right-wing Fox News, and Christian right use to create their enemies. They have no real understanding of the turmoil in the Muslim world - just a monolithic enemy, which serves the purpose. They also have no idea what life is really like in that part of the world.

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  • 127. At 6:17pm on 26 Oct 2009, Dan wrote:

    Oh please, spare me. Europe has leaders like Burlusconi, obviously the epitome of maturity. Maybe the U.S. should aspire to the same, or produce an ideology to rival European Fascism or Communism. Or we could take the Middle East as an example, and invent a new occupation like the assasin. Who needs your tired, worn out culture?

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  • 128. At 6:18pm on 26 Oct 2009, PuWeiTa wrote:

    I'm not sure if growing up is the proper diagnose.

    My view of the problem with America is that capitalism had hijacked democracy. Just one example - the health care debate - there are six lobbyist to every law maker influencing legislations on health care reform alone.

    A US citizen should ask the question - "How many of those lobbyists represent my interest?"

    My count is zero. What's yours and does that bother you?

    Americans need to understand that your elected officials give you lip services to get your vote the outcome of which is decided by the influence peddlers.

    So, wise up, not grow up.

    BTW: Don't hold your breath for your elected officials to help you on your health care problems. My three word advice works much better - [Eat well, exercise].
    Since I'm at it, my financial advice is [Don't borrow money you don't have and do not have a plan to repay to buy things you don't need in the first place.]

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  • 129. At 6:18pm on 26 Oct 2009, rlmiller1964 wrote:

    Growing up doesn't compare to the advertisements. I was younger once, full of energy, ambition and an overwhelming sense that things will get better. I'm older now and don't feel the same way.

    Of course, there are some advantages I suppose. I don't get so wrapped up in things like I did when I was twenty. My marriage was always good, but now it is great, partly because I stopped getting twisted in a knot over things I once thought were important.

    I don't bicker with people and things like I used to. I once cared about politics and what effect legislation would have on the lives of poeple in my country. I once cheered for heroes and booed the villians. Since I've grown up, however, I just don't care as much anymore and can't bear the idea of too many things disturbing my rest and my routine.

    Squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle? Not a big deal anymore. The lawn didn't get mowed this week? No problem. The wife spent too much money on nonsense? Totally ok with me. Terrorists in my back yard? Monday Night Football is still on, right?

    There is no question I've grown up. You've grown up, Europe grew up, Africa is growing up, China is growing up quickly, Russia grew up in a big way, so did Germany. Britain grew up too.

    We've all grown and matured and are living a good adult life. We don't bicker about things like we used to and life is better really. We don't get angry about the late bills or the missed deadlines or the bombings and the beheadings and the killing and the maiming like we used to.

    And really, why should we? It's all so disturbing to think about and what's the point? Being young and tough minded and more than willing to jump on the bandwagon to fight these things is for the immature and the unsophisticated who should learn to calm down and be more reflective and adult.

    Yes, a "measured" response is what is needed when life tosses a challenge at you. A thoughtful, relaxed and mature approach to your marriage, your work, your Nazis, and your Islamist jihadis is the way to go. Otherwise, people may judge you to be adolescent and childish and you will end up with sleeping on the couch and thousands of war dead buried in France and Belgium and Holland and elsewhere. Very rash and childish indeed.

    However, when you can hold back your emotions and not get overly upset or act rashly when your boss wrongs you or when your kids drop out of college or when pnaes fly into buildings or when bombs go off on trains or public transport or when Nick Berg's head gets cut off on TV, or when Daniel Pearl's throat is sliced while he's reading a prepared statement, you know you've grown up and are maturing in a very important way.

    Here's to growing up, chilling out, relaxing, taking it easy, not fussing about so much, talking through your differences and really making the world a much better place thanks to your maturity and sophistication.

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  • 130. At 6:18pm on 26 Oct 2009, Tom Harwick wrote:

    I'm always puzzled about one fact of the way the US sees itself especailly the way US contributors to these blogs see the US. No one ever seems to mention what is, in my opinion, the greatest contribution the US has made to the world and that must be music and films.

    tim

    It seems immature to me to position entertainment as the most signficant contribution of America. Democracy including the Bill of Rights was our most significant contribution, followed closely by innovation--telegraph, telephone, phonograph, electric light, computers, space travel. Third was the destruction on the Kaiser, the Third Reich, and (via indirect means) the Soviet Union. These are all more important than Homer Simpson and the Terminator put together.

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  • 131. At 6:20pm on 26 Oct 2009, bionicbadger wrote:

    Kurth mentions "soft power" as the correct alternative to "hard" power. Does he even understand the true meaning of "to manipulate rather than force"? Yes, effective, but it is not pretty. People forget that this "soft" power is what the CIA does all the time. It's not about "hearts and minds" it's about setting your enemies against each other. It is about assassinations and fomenting discontent. It's about ensuring that peace is never achieved, lest we deal with its consequences. At least with "hard" power you can meet your enemy on the battlefield, rather than have your home destroyed from within.

    So I would not wish too hard for the US to "grow up" lest it become too good at its methods

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  • 132. At 6:24pm on 26 Oct 2009, PhearTheTurtle wrote:

    I don't think America is either buttoned up or free-flowing; we're many things at once, and I don't think one can encapsulate it without living here for a long while and moving around a good bit. I think the author reads us very incorrectly.

    Our fundamental point of commonality is the societal values that allow such a variety (usually.) Many different outward beliefs and conventions exist under one roof here, but the common touchstone (except with extremists who are viewed as extreme particularly because they are seen as dangerous to the constitution and the American system) is that we believe in our way of life -- not necessarily our politicians, but the ideal of what the system should be in this country. That drives us in many different directions, but most of us are sipping from the same well.

    Has America failed itself and harmed others at various points in history? Of course we have. Our own longstanding racial issue is more than a testament to that. And our legacy in the developing world is not laudable. It's unfortunate that so many of us bury these things and do not address them, but that is human nature.

    Our attitude abroad, unfortunately, does not reflect our fundamental respect for each others' rights or cultural investment in our political system -- we tend, particularly in the last eight years, to stomp all over other people's rights of national self determination. We have failed, badly, in viewing the rest of the world as people with their own rights. We have become too enmeshed in the realpolitik mentality of picking leaders that suit our agenda (an agenda that most Americans seem only partially aware of.)

    That said, we need to start respecting other cultures and stop tooting our own horn and start realizing that much of the world do not share the cultural influences and we cannot impose our views and way of life upon others. We need to also realize that we merely create enemies in doing so. I think more than anything, it is often hypocrisy and inability to show respect back to others that harms us. Our fumdamental, constitutionally rooted respect for people's lifestyle choices and philosophies needs to extend outward, rather than stop at the border.

    America does need to grow up, and stop dreaming of supposedly easy, unipolar, inviable fixes for complex problems, as the neoconservative movement has done, and start addressing reality rather than preferring the comforts of ideology and religion as a mechanism for denial. We need to stop thinking we should do it all and that everyone else is some sort of oafish peon waiting for direction (as the neoconservative movement, with their creepy Straussian philosophy tends to view the rest of the world -- that includes you UK -- as pawns in their scheme) and start showing respect in return.

    I honestly don't care if the US stays a superpower. In many ways, I wish the cup would pass, because too many of my fellow Americans think that being a 'great' nation is more important than being a good nation -- that is, power is prized over virtue, exceptionalism prized over exemplarism. We surely need to get our heads screwed on, and soon, or our pursuit of power will lead us once more into folly, as it did under Bush.

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  • 133. At 6:28pm on 26 Oct 2009, jeffzekas wrote:

    All this talk about "Americans"... Let see: the owner of the corner restaurant was born and raised in France, and his wife is Korean and English; my dad's parents came from Canada and Ireland; my mum's folks from the UK and Germany. My best friend is black and anglo, by other besty is Jewish; my buddy is married to a Ukranian - Exactly WHERE are these "Americans" you are describing?

    And "Conformity"? Our friends are members of the Green Party, Straight, Gay, Tall, Short, Eccentric, Conformist, Law-abiding, Lawless, Young, and Old, Creative and Unimaginative - again, where are the "Americans" you have described?

    Exactly WHO does Mr Mardell associate with? Perhaps the European press corps in North America IS quite "tightly buttoned", but as for these Americans - that would be the LAST word I would use to describe these people!

    May I suggest Mr Mardell leave his New York penthouse, get in an automobile - preferably and old, prone-to-breaking-down vehicle - and DRIVE across the continent?

    Oh, and take the "blue highways" not the interstate freeway. Get lost, Mardell. Walk into a smoky bar with sawdust on the floor and chat-up the bartender. Wander up and down the west coast barefoot picking up shells. Talk with strangers. Get drunk at a Portuguese wedding.

    And at the end of summer, don't forget to attend the Burning Man Festival in Nevada - the fly in the ointment regarding your theory of the "politeness and conformity of much of American society".

    Apparently, Sir Mardell, you have spent way too much time, sitting in you room, brooding and staring at the wall!!!

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  • 134. At 6:33pm on 26 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #117

    I am not sure hate crimes are on the increase; I think the reporting (due to the information age)and outrage has increased.

    Remember in the 60 people in certain parts of the country went to lynching as a sporting event.

    An I think that most americans except for the extremists on both sides get outraged on these crimes speak to our increasing maturity and tolerance.

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  • 135. At 6:33pm on 26 Oct 2009, tonyh110 wrote:

    There will be no America soon if Obama is allowed to keep up his antics

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  • 136. At 6:51pm on 26 Oct 2009, BlkAdder wrote:

    Mardell notes that Kurth highlights America's strength originating from the appeal of it's ideals and culture, and then characterizes them as "childish", and suggests they be cast aside. As chaotic as American society is, the foundation of society are beliefs in basic human rights, the principles of individual freedom and the opportunity to better ones position in life. Ultimately America supports principles, and casting these aside may make America seem like a "mature adult" in the author's eyes, but would make America no better than every other country that has debased itself in the name of political expediency by taking the easy road.

    Perhaps being idealistic is intrinsically childish. Perhaps he should speak with the immigrants from Latin America who arrive looking for opportunity, or from fill-in-the-blank of your favorite repressive/corrupt regime here, looking for freedom, and ask them if their dreams are childish. I doubt they would understand the question.

    I do agree that part of America's strength is innovation. America spins off more innovations than any other country in the world, and the world benefits from America's investments (i.e.: pharmaceutical development) However, If I were to bet on which would be the best innovator, I would bet on the idealist dreamer over the mature adult any day of the week.

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  • 137. At 6:52pm on 26 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    Perhaps a new person has been assigned to the MK identity (post 134), which might explain the apparent decline in mastery of the English language.

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  • 138. At 6:53pm on 26 Oct 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 124, Gavrielle

    Thank you for a wonderful post. Your examples of American politeness reminded me of a small incident that happened several years ago when my parents-in-law came from Spain to spend a few weeks with us in Maryland. I will never forget how impressed my mother-in-law was when we took them to the Smithsonian and several people held the doors open or step off the sidewalk when they saw her coming on her wheelchair, or the deference she enjoyed when we visited the White House and they allowed her, and I, to ride on a service elevator to visit the second floor, or the disbelief they expressed when we took them to a classical concert at the Kennedy Center and they commented that they didn't realize Americans were so sophisticated.

    Sadly, the worst our society has to offer seems to dominate the news, and our movies and music often give an impression of life in America that is very different from who we are or what we value. Clearly, similar misconceptions can be found in our country when it comes to anything foreign and little effort is put forth by our government and the media to clarify them.


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  • 139. At 6:54pm on 26 Oct 2009, TasInParis wrote:

    "tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity of much of American society"

    I agree with that characterization, having lived several years in small towns in Alabama, Georgia and Arizona. I'll stick to my observations and thoughts of USA society being basically conformist, or better pluralistic conformist

    Myself I count Americans as herd animals. The first question you'll be asked is what company/church-group you are belong to. Even the archetype loners/misfits, the Columbine shooters, where part of a group "trench-coat mafia". On the serious side this is why after 9/11 there was so much conjoined grief and latter 85%+ support for the invasion of Iraq. Definitely amazing and scary. On the silly side watch line dancing; everybody following the same steps, in synch but not connected to each other. So in USA society everybody belongs to and is pigeon-holed into some group.

    Maybe this is why USA Popular Culture can be so irritating, it is based on the mob (oops majority) and the presumption that because we'all like it, so should you!

    Fortunately, USA culture allows (sometimes barely) for fringe groups; innovators, thinkers, entrepreneurs. Maybe having such sub groups provides enough security, so that USA leads in innovation.

    PS I use USA culture because Canadians (also North Americans) don't share the same culture as their neighbors.

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  • 140. At 6:56pm on 26 Oct 2009, PursuitOfLove wrote:

    Well I don't know what "political commentaters" James Kurth is talking about when he states that there are people in Washington who carey a lot of waight and who heavily influence an administration's attitude toward, and policies regarding the international comunity in the above cited passage; I certainly have never heard of any. But I totally believe that such people exist, and that they desperately need to go back to college to relearn about how best to promote our interests abroad. ither that or be removed immediately from their posts.

    However, I strongly disagree with Kurth's assertion that "American popular culture" is only attractive to adolescents and not mature adults!! What? Like people, once they hit the age of 20, automaticly become incensed and repulsed by Judy Garlond, Bruse Springsting and Billy Jole? As if those citizens of countries that aren't exactly our best friends (who were once adolescents themselves) who aquire the privilege of leading their respective countries aren't allowed to like, even in its smallest measurement, American culture, even though they may hate with a passion American foreign policy? That's simply ridiculous!! Yes popular culture should never, ever, be imposed (as Bush tryed to do with democracy during his illegal war in Iraq) on other countries, but there is a huge difference between imposition and diplomacy, and I don't see anything wrong with infusing a bit of American popular culture into our diplomatic actions abroad if it will help us achieve our goals. Just look at what it has already achieved regarding the nation which looks set to overtake us soon in nearly every field!! In the 1970s, China was a closed market economy to the rest of the world. Western countries (especially the US) had little, if any contact with it. In 1972 (I believe it was) president Nixon sent our Olimpic Ping Pong team over to China to play there's (uncompetitively, of course) in what later became known as "ping pong diplomacy." That opened the door to our low level officials talking, then our higher ones, until just a little over 30 years later, China is poised to take our place as the world's hegemonic super power. Not too shabby for "soft power!"

    Hollywood is a business. Like any business, it will continue to export its products around the world so long as it can find customers willing to buy. If people around the world formulate a view of America and Americans based on what sells best in Hollywood, then I'm sorry, but I believe those people to be just as ignorant of America as many in the world believe the average American to be of the rest of the world. Someone on this blog said that people in the Middle East see the US as thugs, gangs and cow boys. Foreign policy aside, perhaps action films are most popular in the Middle East, but Hollywood makes films about all kinds of people both in and outside of America. From "Big Mamma's House" (set in rural Georga,) to "New in Town" (set in Minnesota,) to "Cold Mountain" (a civil war epic based in the deep south.) From political and critical drammas such as "The Megestic" (a film about a wholly innocent American blacklisted during the McCarthy era,) "W" (a deliberately dramatic look back and critique of the Bush administration,) and "Stop Loss" (chronicling the military's policy of breaking its promis to soldiers on how many tours of duty they must serve without breaks,) to colaborations with other countries on films such as "Last Chance Harvey" (a romantic comedy shot in London) and "Frost/Nixon" (detailing the interview between the BBC's David Frost and the disgraced former president Richard Nixon.)

    I think sadly, in many respects Hollywood is unfairly portrayed and slammed just as much as Washington is.

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  • 141. At 6:56pm on 26 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    jeffzekas (#133), your observation that the United States is diverse is, of course, correct. But the point is that Americans are united by common values (in a broad sense; not in every detail), not by ethnicity. This is in contrast to Europe, where, despite the EU and the Lisbon Treaty and all that, conflict between ethnic groups has always been a significant force.

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  • 142. At 6:56pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    51 thinkingchloe
    "Thanks be to God, the States now has an Administration that is finally accepting the responsibilities and consequences of being a superpower."


    But surely if God had anything to do with it John and Sarah would have won, then John have a mysterious accident (how very old testament) and Sarah would be leading the world to Armageddon.

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  • 143. At 6:57pm on 26 Oct 2009, PhearTheTurtle wrote:

    @jeffzekas

    Amen, brother. I think our correspondent friend's spent too much time in the parlors of Manhattan. Hardly the most diverse climate. Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, Jersey and Upstate aren't that far away, and you can find a great variety without going too far.

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  • 144. At 6:59pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    8 magic
    "That Ilsmamic facism [sic] is the main problem...."

    We all know that Magic can't or won't use a spell-checker, but 13, 33 and others repeat the spelling errors.

    "Facism" must be not liking someone's face - bad to make value judgements like that but surely no threat to the world

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  • 145. At 7:08pm on 26 Oct 2009, hollywoodbandb wrote:

    What a refreshing discussion. Many very intelligent observations. So much more informative than a FoxNews scream-a-thon. My two cents:
    America will surpass all of its previous achievements by simple hard work, confidence in the future, and a willingness to accept any challenge. We will discover new unheard of energy resources because we must. We will share our this with everyone. We will find new cures for old diseases, again, because we must. We will also find new solutions to ancient animosities because we must in order to save ourselves. All of this we will share with anyone willing to share with us. We will also make many mistakes doing all of this.

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  • 146. At 7:08pm on 26 Oct 2009, SimplyJeffrey wrote:

    @ 113

    Not picking on you per se, but the reason we have a military that "sits around" and doesn't police the streets is due to the founding fathers realizing what an easy situation that creates for someone in power to use the military against the people, something our current "leader" would do if given half a chance. This is precisely why the US maintains separate bodies and duties for policing and defense. Too easily the people can become the enemy of the state with the military policing it's own citizenry. Don't they teach this basic concept in the US' overly left-wing education system anymore? Or is it just more important to teach sharing your sippy cup with your mates?

    @ 114

    Very well thought out post, it's a shame that this disconnect between how most Americans really feel and the way the world seems to see us exists. Most American's really DO want to see the world get better... thats why they blindly allow money to go abroad and contribute to UNICEF despite it's corruption, and countless other organizations feeling that their own good fortune should be shared.

    Because we are not a "people" first, it is our strength and weakness. We are perplexed at the rest of the world's attempt to pigeon hole us, since in our own country we expect virtually every view and creed to exist. It is our strength in that we generally tolerate (not always accepting) people with differences more than we are ever given credit on the global stage, and don't write off entire cultures as having inherent issues that can't be addressed. Naive, perhaps, simply selfish certainly not, and more generous in action than most countries can claim.

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  • 147. At 7:09pm on 26 Oct 2009, Kennethis wrote:

    Sorry folks, we have no plans to "grow up".
    Indeed, give me one country or even politician who's doing well with this mass media exploitation!!
    Change is in our blood.
    China? Russia? Great Britian?!!!
    I understand, you're just following what you see in the media.
    America is to big and diverse to be held in a sound byte.
    My daddy always told me:
    "Never try to outshout a fool, me might be trying to do the same thing".

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  • 148. At 7:10pm on 26 Oct 2009, acommontater wrote:

    The complexity of the US is astounding as is the variety of comments here, providing "the answer" to the maturity of the country and how it could be so much better if........ Unfortunately Mr. Kurth has hit upon the same old formula that will bring out the "Anti" as well as the "Pro". Considering the way the World apes the US in dress, dance, slang, etc. I would much prefer seeing his comments regarding a vertical dissection by age (no matter what nationality). Young people follow trends (surprise!)if for no other reason than to disturb their parents. I just finished reading an article reporting on Iran that cut through the rhetoric and instead told how the young Iranians love Cokes,iPhones, US tv shows, etc. Don't wait for the US to grow up and instead wait for the adopters, world wide, to join the ranks of the older, "serious" thinkers.

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  • 149. At 7:13pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    29 nicolesarkiss
    "when I travel to other countries and meet real people ... when you say you are American people smile and shake your hand, because ... they know differences between American and past European culture."


    No, it's nothing to do with prefering current US policy to previous European policy.

    It's simply because most people can see the difference between YOU, an American, and the actions of your government. There is very little hatred of "Americans" as individuals so you should not be surprised that people abroad treat you nicely. Most people in the world are nice and polite - often more so in developing nations.

    _________________________________________________________

    31 ramble-rabbit
    "Zimbabwe is a disaster truly in need of aid, but the citizenry allowed thugs backed by the government to take the food producing land away from people who knew how to farm it"

    You've rambled into madness. The citizenry realised very quickly that if they stood up to the thugs then they tended to die violently and quickly. One can hardly blame the people in a dictatorship for the sorry state they find themselves in.


    __________________________________________________________


    32 Zeroknots
    "attempts to install self professed COMMUNIST Czars"

    Communist czars must be a contradiction-in-terms. CF Russian Revolution.

    From your paranoid and uninformed rant and your liberal usage of inflamatory terms (communist, fascist, Hitler etc) yo show everyone that your user-name is in fact the speed at which your brain works.


    ______________________________________________________

    37 winnie40
    "but hey lets be honest they get little support from the rest of the world. Russia, China and the like are very, very self centred"

    Russia and China are indeed self-centred, but they are not pretending to hold some sort of international moral high ground, as the USA does.

    I am not anti-USA - I travel there frequently and love it every time, but the USA sets itself high moral station in the world and then gets upset if people take it to task.





    Great to see lots of new names coming in .... I guess Mark hit a six with this post!

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  • 150. At 7:15pm on 26 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #130 Tommy1178

    I'm not going to get into this who invented what argument with you it's being going one for far to long as has also the who won which war argument.
    I will take issue with your the US invented democracy claim because it's nonsense. The greater part of your constitution and 'Bill of Rights' was drawn from the works of two men, one Tom Paine an Englishman and the other Baron Montesquieu a Frenchman. The democratic idea had been circulating round Europe for about a 2000 years starting with ancient Greece.
    Thanks for the Jazz, R & B Rock 'n Roll and all the rest and feel happy about that, it's a wonderful gift and we truly thank you for it. Your country is going through a tough time at the moment as are others I wish you well and hope that the US and Europe continue to be friends and allies

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  • 151. At 7:15pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    49 jmagrud
    "Mr. Berlusconi undeniably needs to grow up in some of his sexual attitudes."

    At 73 he may well be deep in his 2nd childhood - perhaps reliving the randy late teenage years!

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  • 152. At 7:19pm on 26 Oct 2009, throughthecatseyes wrote:

    I have to agree that the US culture needs to grow up . I am constantly bemused by the contradictions here of deft politeness and bumper stickers promoting "shock and awe" ...fear of nudity and not of 15 year olds owning guns and driving trucks ! The juxtopositions are endless.. state of the art medecine unavailable to great swathes of the population and electricity grids run on 200 year old poles while super fast cable runs buried beneath , arrogance about being the leading democracy in combination with mindblowing ignorance about the wider world and polling stations that don't work....... there is much that is good but lots of room for growth ! I for one wish that the politicians in Washington could grasp that and allow this administration to achieve some of what has been needed to be done for so long ....

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  • 153. At 7:21pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    52 bellaterra
    "As for exaggerated deference and politeness -- what US is he talking about? I've lived all over The US, though mainly in California and now New Mexico. Americans, generally, are rude and disrepectful."


    I think Mark is referring to the constant "Sir" / "Madam" / "Have a nice day" stuff that is common in the American service industry.

    It's sort of fake-politeness, but better than nothing, but it does come over as a little excessive to many Europeans. But then our customer service is so far the other way that we are not used to any form of politeness, fake or otherwise.

    Also I've traveled alot in the USA - 18 different states - and I don't think Americans are rude at all. Big cities make rude people - check out Londoners on the tube in rush hour, or Romans double-parking and blocking everything.

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  • 154. At 7:24pm on 26 Oct 2009, Acdboone wrote:

    If they don't trip themselves up, China will surpass the USA as the dominant superpower within a generation. It will be in the position much like the USA is today where the international community will hang on its every move, rebuff its friendship or plead for its help, question its motives and marvel at its accomplishments, snicker at its shortcomings and ponder its peoples. The USA will still continue on as the strongest light in the west but will just not be able to match power and appetite of China.

    So, Britain, what should the USA do when it finds itself on the downward slope of the mountain?

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  • 155. At 7:24pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    61. tribeca8 wrote:
    "I would say that the United States should remain an adolescent country in terms of its optimism, its openness, its entrepreneurial spirit, and its ability to accept new ideas and new peoples. Americans are people who are used to reinventing ourselves and that is a very healthy attitude."


    I agree.

    Let's hope the US can reinvent itself as a country that cares about all its citizens.

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  • 156. At 7:26pm on 26 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    RE #21: While I agree with most of what Interested Foreigner wrote, there is an important difference. I agree that Education has deteriorated, but there is a very pronounced anti-intellectualism and anti-science attitude in some places. Here in the Boston area people have a great respect for those things. It is said that if you throw a rock in Boston you are more likely than not to hit a professor or university student. In other places they look at you strangely if you speak well and some want to replace science with religion in the schools.

    As to the US being “not grown up,” it would be more valid to see the US as having grown up to the point of being self satisfied, overconfident and even decadent. The US has the oldest continuously functional government, with the least major changes, of all. The problem is not one of youth but of age, meaning that the US needs a reawakening.

    I have often bemoaned the Hollywood youth culture, but it may be the flip side of America’s success. Take a look at Shakespearian England or Renaissance Italy and you see that creative societies tend to have a dark side. The US has a cyclical history of this sort, with periods of high ideals and low, corruption and integrity.

    The Hollywood/youth culture is not all bad. It doesn’t have much of a good effect if people just wear blue jeans and T-shirts, but if they pick the wheat from the chaff and adopt a liberal tolerant lifestyle it very well could.

    Mark was right about some areas being up tight [=tightly buttoned = buttoned up?], examples being the Bible belt for religion and “morality,” New England for formality or Yankee reserve. These vary not only by region but by age, class and ethnicity. While we are not a classless society, it is possible to rise quickly here, and to fall equally quickly.

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  • 157. At 7:31pm on 26 Oct 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Sounds like the Chinese talking about the Japanese in the mid 1930's, or the French talking about Germany a couple of years later.. antagonizing "adolescents" has not proven a good stragegy.

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  • 158. At 7:34pm on 26 Oct 2009, grahamtaylor1 wrote:

    If America does not reach puberty very rapidly, then the free capitalist society which they currently enjoy, will rapidly be extinct and they will become the United States Socialist Republic. Does that remind you of anything?

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  • 159. At 7:35pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    Philly-Mom for Vice-President in 2012 !!!!!
    Such wisdom belongs to everyone .... keep it up!

    I like you much more than Alaska-mom!

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  • 160. At 7:35pm on 26 Oct 2009, joshinoregon wrote:

    Wow. Look at all the responses. All the tangents. All the themes. Some flung wildly, while many others well-shaped with cohesive points, and supported by insightful examples. Wish your blog did some of that. I just mean that with such a loose bag of big terms (power, leadership, influence, adolescence, politeness, conformity, free-flowing), put forth in such a friendly, yet quick-n-generic-n-vague-made-for-airport-lounge-viewing way, frustrates me as to what point(s) you're making, or inviting discussion on. It's pretty inference-y, but inferencing what exactly? Those big terms don't seem to be linked in any concrete way.

    But I do agree with the earnest guesswork (great points and insights – each citing examples) of jmagrud, jacog3 and graywolfman.

    Still, maybe your whole point was on U.S. global leadership in the fashion arena, specifically toe rings? Tube socks? No wait... Moral leadership via technological dominance in the ringtone market? Cultural influence by way of cleverly-combined pizza toppings? Gestures!! Obama should cease all fist bumps?

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  • 161. At 7:36pm on 26 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    InLosAngeles wrote:
    I am an American, of South Asian origin, and have grown up here. America always needs enemies (I suppose all massive empires do), and this self-fulfilling prophecy will continue to recycle itself, and destroy, as it did to empires such as the British. Colonizing others is an excellent way to make the phantom enemies become real, very quick. MagicKirin represents the sort of American who has not experienced the world outside, and thus regurgitates what the blatantly political right-wing Fox News, and Christian right use to create their enemies. They have no real understanding of the turmoil in the Muslim world - just a monolithic enemy, which serves the purpose. They also have no idea what life is really like in that part of the world.

    ___________________________________-

    First I have been outside the country many time for both business and pleasure. I also read NYT and listen to the BBC as well as watching Fox News.

    Believe me I am many things( most of which are good) but I am not a member of the Christian right or the Orthodox Jewsih right.

    You seems to paint people with a broad brush, I happened to be a fiscal foriegn policy social liberal.

    as far as a monolithic view of the moslem world, I have only commented on the moslems in the middle East who for the most part are silent in combating Islamic terrorism. The average msoelm in the U.S does not have this problem.

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  • 162. At 7:37pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    109. nails01 wrote:
    "Is this anything new? We have been hearing this from the left for years on end. "


    That may well be so, but it appears now that you are hearing it from the right ..... the Faaaaar Right.

    James Kurth is a Conservative Rebublican evangelical Christian, who thought Bush's policies were too weak.

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  • 163. At 7:40pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    113 sinshiva
    "Sorry for the lack of any kind of indentation."


    Apology accepted, but if you mean it, will you use some paragraphs next time. Those big blocks of print are kind of hard to read - I'm sure I'm not alone in skipping them, and I'm here primarily to exchange views, learn from others, have a bit of a laugh and play mind games with Marcus!

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  • 164. At 7:42pm on 26 Oct 2009, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    138. At 6:53pm on 26 Oct 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Sadly, the worst our society has to offer seems to dominate the news, and our movies and music often give an impression of life in America that is very different from who we are or what we value. Clearly, similar misconceptions can be found in our country when it comes to anything foreign and little effort is put forth by our government and the media to clarify them.

    That is altogether too true! Last summer I had a friend a from Scotland visiting and we went to a local Mexican restaurant. A group of Polish tourists came in and without waiting to be seated took over a table that has a standing reservation every Sunday afternoon for a large Spanish family that comes in after church. The owner asked them to move because the family had already been waiting for the table to be cleared. They refused and became loud and obstreperous.

    Anyway, the police were called and my friend got nervous. But the police were very professional. Polite, but firm. The tourists left, the family sat down and my friend wondered why there hadn't been a great deal of cussing followed by a shoot out! It never fails to amaze me, the misconceptions everyone has about life in America. They know their own television and film doesn't always accurately portray life in their countries, why would ours? And the things that are accurately portrayed are discounted as "fantasies" that couldn't possibly exist.

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  • 165. At 7:43pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    115. mischievousdoug wrote:
    "If the USA is so screwed up and adolescent, how have we done so well over the 200 years. ...... The America haters out there should think twice about the future; what will fill the void?"


    Most of you have done well, but there is a growing underclass that is largely ignored by the average American - just look at the grief the current administration is getting for trying to improve their lot.

    And please note, constructive criticism of the US does not equate to hatred. That is just in your mind, and I would counsel you to read people's views more crefully and not to put words in their mouths (keyboards?).

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  • 166. At 7:46pm on 26 Oct 2009, PursuitOfLove wrote:

    On the same subject, Kurth also wrote that "Similarly, with all the talk among American political leaders and commentators about American “idealism”, and the attractiveness of American values to the rest of the world, it is usually forgotten that most of the political leaders in other countries are realistic men making sensible calculations about their nation’s interests (and their own). They expect the leaders of other countries, including the United States, to do the same. This is particularly true of the current leaders of China and Russia. Having learned all about the claims of ideology when they were growing up, and having put ideology aside when they became adults, they cannot really believe that U.S. political leaders in turn really believe that American ideals should be promoted for their own sake, for their “universal validity”, rather than as a legitimation or cover for U.S. interests. If American leaders want to lead such leaders of other countries, they will have to act in the style of realists, and not in the style of idealists."

    First, US leaders do too make "sensible calculations about their nation's, and their own, interests!! What sane person wouldn't seak the head of their nation's government without their nation's best interests at heart? Second, I agree more with the latter point, however might I just say that our values, while they are indeed "universally valid," that yes, I agree, they should never be promoted around the world for that fact. Instead they should be promoted (with the greatest of care and diplomacy, of course) because history has tought us that countries that opporate on the basis of these values are, in fact, less unstable and more peaceful than countries that don't. And a peaceful world is in every nation's interest!!

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  • 167. At 7:49pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    122 canopus
    "Mr. Mardell, if you want a sympathetic reading in the USA, perhaps you should avoid terms that indicate prejudice."

    Did you read past the headline of this blog?

    Don't shoot the messenger. The idea that America should be more "mature" both domestically and internationally come from the article this blog is about. Mark Mardell is simply giving us the chance to debate and react to this idea.

    Also please note that the author James Kurth is a conservative republican evangelical christian. Why he didn't say this 8 years ago is a question for another day!

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  • 168. At 8:00pm on 26 Oct 2009, mbgolfer05 wrote:

    - I wonder...if America is as bad as some make it out to be, why are so many risking life and limb to come here?
    - I've traveled pretty extensively in Europe and the Far East, and there are some things about American's behavior that make me uncomfortable, but the over-riding goodness of the American people amazes me. When disaster strikes anywhere in the world there will be an American relief response. It might be interesting to distinguish between "America" (Geography, Government, liberties, etc...) and the "Americans" to which some have been exposed. Most Americans don't travel, so I suspect the sample of those that do to might be quite different than "the heartland".
    - Growing up....what does that even mean? Can we define a scale? (If you haven't "nuked" anyone, you're mature...if you practice genocide, you might not be). Which country is "mature", and what does mature even mean in this discussion. Every "mature" country I can think of has engaged in some aggressive or war-like activity in the past 100 years.

    I think that the most fascinating aspect of this discussion to me has been the characterization of America and Americans. O.k...we don't do everything correctly. Who does? (Maybe Canada...who could be angry at a Canadian?? grin..)

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  • 169. At 8:00pm on 26 Oct 2009, PursuitOfLove wrote:

    With as many prestigous acolades as this guy has, I am personally frankly amaised at the rather premature conclusion he has drawn regarding America's strengths and potencial in the future.

    He seems to think that industrial and financial strength go hand and hand, and furthermore that industry is like natural resources. That once its gone its gone, and there's no way to get it back. So because China is set to overtake us in terms of industrial output, that within a mere decade or two, the Chinese currency will overtake the US dollar as the predominant one in the world, and that the US, if it doesn't cling to its technology for dear life, will soon be little more than a trigger happy footnote in the history books.

    I think that while we should obviously invest in and enhance our technology, industry is not all dead, and can be revived. Many of Obama's speaches mirror this.

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  • 170. At 8:13pm on 26 Oct 2009, hoover41 wrote:

    "They include optimism, friendliness, a certain naivete, a belief that one can get ahead with hard work, a belief that one can reinvent oneself, a belief in new ideas."
    I love that- I believe, more than any other comment, that describes most Americans.
    I probably am a tad naive- certainly optimistic. But what is wrong with that?

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  • 171. At 8:15pm on 26 Oct 2009, revray wrote:

    Aloha,
    If we Yanks act like children it's because we are encouraged to by:

    1. Constant dumb down advertising appealing to basic self centered indulgence

    2. Dumbing down of education. A system based on a mean that is geared for all

    3. Vicarious lives through TV, movies , facebook etc etc

    Nothing new it is the old Roman rule of give the masses circuses and bread while keeping them in a position of preoccupied struggle to keep their head above water. Easier to manage.

    So you Brits have it different?

    We are in deep dodo but there is an awakening. I went to college on the Korean GI Bill it and other GI educational bill created a middle class which is now eroded 40%. It took today's extreme but we are pissed off.

    PS at 80 seen a lot of change a great deal for the good.
    LOVE BBC
    Namaste

    Rev Ray

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  • 172. At 8:29pm on 26 Oct 2009, _marko wrote:

    Great thread!

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  • 173. At 8:36pm on 26 Oct 2009, OpenRoads wrote:

    Maturity: the capacity a) to take responsibility for one's own actions, and b) to reach far enough past one's own ego that the needs of others are seen on at least a theoretical par with one's own.

    Why is this a problem?

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  • 174. At 8:42pm on 26 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    28. At 12:17pm on 26 Oct 2009, reubenr wrote:
    “…It may be a nice place to visit and it may produce some nice inventions, but, currently, it is a hell hole in which to live. It lacks a sole, meaning, organizing principal, which organisms require to evolve.”

    If I have not misunderstood you, I disagree with you completely.

    A sole meaning, organizing principle, and [perhaps] religion and social outlook? That sounds totalitarian, a direction in which the EU seems to be moving. As long as the states, regions, cultures and other groups leave others alone the diversity is good. Only when one of them gets the idea that we need a single, solitary or sole purpose does it become destructive.

    30. At 12:22pm on 26 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote: “Anyway, assimilation is IMO inherently racist. It's like saying 'Jews are welcome here, just as long as you don't act so Jewish!'

    Multiculturalism is still the way to go I say. There's been a lot of debate in the UK about this recently (as you may know), but has more to do a general feeling of powerlessness due to Governments not being interested in the opinions of their electors. This has been brewing for decades.”

    I disagree to some extent, depending upon what you mean by assimilation and multiculturalism. To take an extreme example, would you accept cannibals and embrace their culture? Would you strive to bring your culture in line with cannibalistic immigrants?

    The problem with PC Ultraliberals is that not assimilating and trying to protect incompatible cultural practices requires self-abnegation and may lead to cultural suicide. Shouldn’t immigrants seeking a better life embrace the culture that accepts them? Having lived in Asia and the Middle East, I assure you that when you live there you are expected to assimilate, at least superficially.

    Your choice of Jews is bizarre. There are different “Jewish” cultures and they do not necessarily agree with or assimilate each other. None of these groups are so alien that they pose a problem, as long as the ultraorthodox refrain from stoning people who don’t follow Shabat.

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  • 175. At 8:50pm on 26 Oct 2009, Quakeboy02 wrote:

    One thing that needs to be considered by everyone, Brit and American alike, is that just like you guys, the majority of us just don't really give much thought (or care, really) to how the rest of the world perceives. Just like you, we go about our business, work, play, eat, sleep, etc. Whether people in another country likes how I go about these things is really low on my priority list.

    And, why should I care? Yes, an Arab or a Tutsi may find my lifestyle repugnant or intolerable, but, just like you, I'm not shopping for a moral monitor at this point.

    Our new president has said words something like: "The world has depended on us to solve its problems while hating us for doing it. Perhaps it's time for the world to address its own problems". Are you ready for that? Sure, it sounds like what you want, but do you have the motivation to address the growing threat of militant islamism? If your answer is to "follow Chamberlain" or "leave them alone and they'll be peaceful", then I suggest that you're not.

    It's not easy being the hated American, but it has been necessary for a very long time. Step up to the plate, spend your own time and money, and we'll talk about American lifestyle vs public perception. In the meantime, yes, we'll continue to send food, money, clothing, and other needed help when you have your next disaster that you're totally unprepared for.

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  • 176. At 8:52pm on 26 Oct 2009, RickMcDaniel wrote:

    Perhaps the viewpoint expressed, has missed the mark a bit. The problem with Americans, is they simply indulge themselves far too much, with "things", think only about getting rich, and believe that everything in life should be "fun".

    As for being mature, and putting things into a proper priority, for now and the future.....well, I haven't seen a single country on the planet, do that, as yet, and I really don't expect to see it, in my lifetime, anyway.

    People, as I have found in my travels, are quite the same in most places, save a few variances in skin tone, and cultural heritage. So, in reality, Americans are pretty much the same as people in most other countries, except a little more spoiled, by lots of goods, and foolish notions about fun.

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  • 177. At 8:56pm on 26 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    75. At 3:04pm on 26 Oct 2009, mindxavierbloggz wrote:
    “What is really needed therefore is a collective will to do this and this should come from the UN which after all does have a world wide membership…. The UN now with the ultimate power would sort out the policing problems using ALL resources and not just the token it has now.”

    At the risk of sounding like some of the more right-wing posters, just how is an organization controlled by corrupt and non- or anti-democratic governments going to do a good job of running the world?

    Do you know the membership of the human rights committee? Would you like Libya, China or Russia policing the world?


    76. At 3:09pm on 26 Oct 2009, T1m0thy wrote:
    #38 MagicKirin
    "’I would argue the belief system expoused by Iran and Al Quada and their suggorates are in the same category.’ [sic]
    What makes you think that Iran and Al Qaeda share the same beliefs?”
    I seldom agree with MK, but you are imposing a disingenuous slant here. He said category, and should have said beliefs, not belief. They seem to share the ideas/beliefs that: USA = Great Satan, that the West is immoral, that women are not equal to men, that democracy [as the west understands it] is not acceptable, etc.
    But, MK I agree with 93. At 4:22pm on 26 Oct 2009, expertUSPatriot wrote:
    To MagicKirin."
    And, moreover, your posts seem to be becoming unreadable and incomprehensible.

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  • 178. At 9:08pm on 26 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    "Anyway, assimilation is IMO inherently racist. It's like saying 'Jews are welcome here, just as long as you don't act so Jewish!'" (from dceilar at #30)

    assimilate: "c. to absorb into the culture or mores of a population or group" (from Merriam-Webster.com)

    Assimilation in the sense defined here is not at all racist. It means only that immigrants of whatever ethnic group accept the values of American society generally, so as to function within it. It is not required that ethnic or racial groups give up the values of their own culture which are extraneous to the larger purpose of building a civil society.

    American Jews are assimilated. When they practice the rituals of their faith, and respect the rituals of other faiths, they are accepting the core American value of free exercise of religion as espoused in our First Amendment.

    Most immigrant groups to the United States are assimilated in that they function within the society at large, while preserving whatever aspects of their own culture they wish to retain.

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  • 179. At 9:18pm on 26 Oct 2009, RScWilson wrote:

    All I have to say about many of these comments, is it's pretty unfair how many of you are basing your opinion of America as a whole based on its leader's actions. Many of you say that because American leaders have chosen to fight a somewhat misguided war in the Middle East, and have dragged many countries into it, that the entirety of Americans are selfish and a big group of idiots. Keep in mind that there is a big gap between the mindset of politicians and the mindset average citizen in America.

    Even now, Obama's approval rating hovers just above 50 percent and he's shown the sharpest decline in first-term popularity in any American president in a very long time. Don't get me started on the approval rating for Congress. How is it possible that Americans can elect politicians that they will eventually become hateful of? It's because all "good" politicians are really good at campaigning by making really good sounding promises without actually having a plan.

    American citizens are tired of fighting, tired of losing loved ones in wars that should never have happened as they are, tired of spending money that isn't really there, and tired of being stepped on time and time again by their power hungry commercial and political leaders. But the war wages on, Obama spends more money since the 40s, and companies like AIG still perform poor economic practices while rewarding themselves with "stimulus money" that is borrowed to begin with, while Congress stalls time and time again on fixing anything properly.

    Its clear now, just as it was with Bush, that Americans aren't fully backing the actions of their leaders. Therefore it is unfair to judge the entire population on the actions of the higher few. Actually take the time to visit the States and meet the real people there. You may or may not be surprised of what you find.

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  • 180. At 9:26pm on 26 Oct 2009, Maria Ashot wrote:

    Thank you for the link to the Kurth article, Mr Mardell & BBC. Of course, a detailed response to his main points would have to examine the merit of the criteria named, and how one defines them: "superiority" and "power."

    Just as an example, "power" generally implies the capacity to sustain one's influence over time, by ensuring a succession of successors committed to the operating model & its core belief system. Thus, in many ways, an adult male's "power" (as well as a woman's) was seen throughout history, in every society, as being insubstantial in the event no obvious, committed heirs, successors, assigns could carry on indefinitely for that person in their cause.

    America today is so different from the USA of Truman's time, or even the Kennedys', that it is fair to raise the question whether 20 years down the road there will be any recognisable connection back to the Progenitrix America whose "superiority" Mr Kurth examines. What fills the geographical space between Canada & Mexico on the North American landmass may by 2030 be so far removed from the society which originally gave rise to the great fortunes, "great ideas" and great enterprises that then between 2006-2008 chose to drive the global economy off a cliff almost by deliberate acts of criminal negligence (still largely unaddressed, certainly mostly unprosecuted), as to really open up for the debate even the very notion of its Descent from An Event we date we associate with 4 July 1776, at N39° 57.1362', W075° 9.7421'.

    The original USofA as conceived of by the Founders of that amalgamation of "states" lay claim to certain principles, and made promises to its citizens that no other ordered society had ever made before. Over time, most of these promises were extended to apply to non-landowners and to males younger than the ones originally envisioned by the Founders; eventually, also, to women; to the descendants of slaves most of the Founders had cheerfully owned as property; to others who came to dwell within the borders of that society, or who were absorbed by it (sometimes with shocking cruelty & deception). And today, increasingly, arguments are made for extending the promises even to persons who are non-citizens, or who have entered into the geographical zone defined by the USofA as "USofA" through violation of fundamental laws -- and in spite of such violations.

    Meanwhile, the policies of the power elites and elected officials who govern the space that is "USofA" and administer its wealth have also changed dramatically from the policies originally set forth by Founders.

    So what makes the superpower Mr Kurth analyses a legitimate aspirant to the title, "Descendant of and Successor to the sovereign nation established at N39° 57.1362', W075° 9.7421' on 4 July 1776?"

    is it that a majority of people on earth agree that such is the case? is it that it so proclaims itself to be?

    Many Americans (myself amongst them; i wonder if Mr Kurth would say as much) actually believe there was something special about that 1776 invention of the Founders, and that too much departure from the original recipe essentially dilutes the magic.

    (For anyone reading who is allergic to the word "magic", let me just say it is a remarkably compact & efficient term that captures the je-ne-sais-quoi of so many aspects of existence that would simply require volumes to articulate in their full, empirically quantifiable and verifiable form...)

    The America conceived of in 1776 had flaws, as do all human creations, but it was nonetheless an ingenious idea, and its practical implementation certainly had much to teach all sorts of interested parties.

    Having lived in it for many of the years covered by Mr Kurth's article, i would fall into the camp of those who accept that the specific design & integrated mechanisms are NOT transferable, without significant modification, to other societies & populations.

    As to the broader question being raised here, Mr Mardell, i thoroughly agree that "America" (the one we actually have on the planet, not the fictional p.r. version of either Democrats or Republicans or any other interest group) does indeed need to grow up.

    it is a very immature and increasingly misguided political & commercial entity.

    The only reason it ever attained the degree of clout (i would never call it "superiority" as Mr Kurth does) it enjoyed in the 20th century for a number of decades is that Europe pretty much self-destructed, thanks most emphatically to the private obsessions of one Otto von Bismarck.

    One person can indeed do a great deal of damage. One person can also do a great deal of Good!

    Fortunately, Europe has indeed recovered from the 20th century disasters brought on by reckless, grasping & insatiable men.

    But in the meantime American immaturity has led a whole lot of people down a blind alley... and then to cap it all off, essentially vaporised the resources needed to get us all back out to some better place.

    As for hard, incontrovertible evidence of American immaturity, i have plenty. But i will probably just put that into a separate response to this discussion, in a later post.

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  • 181. At 9:29pm on 26 Oct 2009, NJreader wrote:

    28. At 12:17pm on 26 Oct 2009, reubenr wrote:
    “…It may be a nice place to visit and it may produce some nice inventions, but, currently, it is a hell hole in which to live. It lacks a sole, meaning, organizing principal, which organisms require to evolve.”

    Oh my word, no wonder you were miserable in the USA! It's definitely not the place for you if you think a good society must have one sole principle (sic). How about this one: leave me alone to pursue my own vision of the good life, and I'll leave you alone to do the the same. Freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of labor. Scary, huh?

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  • 182. At 9:36pm on 26 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    179 RScWilson
    "Even now, Obama's approval rating hovers just above 50 percent and he's shown the sharpest decline in first-term popularity in any American president in a very long time."


    Whether you support Obama or not, it is impossible not to understand why his ratings are low, when he seemed to hold so much promise.

    We are in the middle of a recession, stuck in 2 wars and the US is trying to fix its healthcare system against the wishes of many who would most benefit from it .... and, no, he hasn't made it all better yet.

    In his campaign he set out sensible long and short term objectives, and won the election. However the world in a recession and time of war is an unpredictable place and things take time.

    Obama's approval ratings reflect only the short-term wish fulfilment desire inherent in all western societies, but far stronger IMO in the USA.

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  • 183. At 9:44pm on 26 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #159 RomeStu
    Behave I saw her first. Oh and Philly_Mom what is a Basque Bar Mitzvah please?

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  • 184. At 9:46pm on 26 Oct 2009, brokenground wrote:

    @22 dceilar

    btw are you suggesting that Britain has not yet actually grown up?

    I don't disagree with your reasons for the 'loss' of the British Empire. But I wasn't talking about Britain's Empire, the gain as well as the loss of which occurrs substantially after the period I'm talking about. In fact this conflating of Britain and it's Empire (a very short period of the British Isle's history) is perhaps part of this residual superpower conceit I refer to. I was referring to the fact that Britain has struggled to adapt to its loss of Empire because it froze its sense of self at the moment when it was a superpower. The greatest strength of America is its ability to 'turn on a dime', culturally as well as economically - in short to act as a young, immature country. It will need this faculty when (as it inevitably will), it begins to lose its empire/hegemony.

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  • 185. At 9:48pm on 26 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    RScWilson (#179) "How is it possible that Americans can elect politicians that they will eventually become hateful of? It's because all "good" politicians are really good at campaigning by making really good sounding promises without actually having a plan."

    No, it is because we elect only one congressman (or woman). Most members of Congress are well regarded in their own district. It is the ones from other districts we hate, and the way the Congress operates as a body.

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  • 186. At 9:53pm on 26 Oct 2009, Mick412 wrote:

    I'm an expat living in Los Angeles and must agree with maria-ashot. However, I cannot place the entire decline of europe on one man -- Otto von Bismark. Both parties within the United States continue their misguided power plays and cannot, as the old saying goes: "See the forest for the trees". An unfortunate extension of their egos.

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  • 187. At 10:05pm on 26 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    brokenground (#184) "The greatest strength of America is its ability to 'turn on a dime', culturally as well as economically ... "

    I don't see this. A good example is the US automotive industry which, after pioneering mass production of cars, got set in its ways and lost the initiative in innovation to Germany and Japan. There is a lot of inertia in American industry (and business generally) because of its size, which makes turning on a dime rather difficult.

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  • 188. At 10:05pm on 26 Oct 2009, Mick412 wrote:

    GH1618

    Almost correct, the truly devastating impact on the American Political System and its "representative republic" is the failure of the respective parties selection of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. This always affords the winning party with a strong left leaning or right leaning candidate -- pandering to the base and $$.

    The selection, who in all likelihood, may represent less than 15% of the electorate... Therefore, it is a vote for or against an ideology and not an election based on what is truly in each of the individuals' best interest. If you notice both the Democratic and Republican party are losing voters and the largest block will soon be "Independents" -- who tend to be right of center.

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  • 189. At 10:16pm on 26 Oct 2009, Chris2020 wrote:

    I would have to assume it would be the same for anyone reading an opinion piece of their country written by an outsider but, as some of the comments from people claiming to be Americans were by far more ignorant I thought I’d add an American’s comments.

    I am an American who reads the news specifically looking for information for other parts of the world. My President represents my country but, I have always believed that individual citizens are a better measure of a country then the Leaders. I am part of We The People, neither Obama nor Bush accurately reflects the America people, they are both simply one of many and each represent one of many types of American. Obama or Bush are no more representative of America as a country then Tony Blair was of Britain or Osama Bin Laden was if Saudi Arabia. They are simply men within the country whom others had selected to lead the country from the very small pool of choices We The People have (are allowed in Modern time).

    E pluribus Unum: Best describes America. We are one Country made of many peoples who bonded together around core beliefs. Many have come over the last 250 years and most have embraced those ideals and become American both enriching and altering America. This is a country always evolving, sadly many people take such a short sighted, simple view and would judge America by the one administration or another when to be intellectually honest we are what we have always been, a young country by comparison to many in the world never perfect but always growing and changing and never sitting still.

    America is NOT what you see on TV or in movies,
    America is NOT what you hear from our Media, Music, or the speeches of our Leaders.
    America is NOT even the politics and policies that are such sport to mock, complain about and or curse.

    America more then anything else is a collection of Ideas that We The People, for over 250 years, have come to hold dear and see this land as the place to come for the chance to live to those ideas. America is probably just a dream but it is a good and decent dream that many viewed and still view with pride. Many people have come to America from across the world and many people still come, try to come and dream of coming to America.

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  • 190. At 10:29pm on 26 Oct 2009, RScWilson wrote:

    185. GH1618

    I believe you don't know your own political system as well as you think you do. You do not elect one congressman, you elect at least two. Your district gets a representative in the House of Representatives and then you get to elect one of two Senators for your state.

    Your comment is very well true. I'm sure many people blame other Congressmen for problems in government, though my comment still holds true as well. In Connecticut, where I currently reside, there is much discourse over the state's current Senators, both often accused of not fulfilling the promises they once made. If the people of whatever district of whatever state you're in are happy with your congressmen then you are properly represented and I congratulate you, but I assure you, your situation does not hold true for all Americans.

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  • 191. At 10:29pm on 26 Oct 2009, Chris2020 wrote:

    179. At 9:18pm on 26 Oct 2009, RScWilson wrote:

    Here, Here!! believe 1/2 of what you read, then go visit the people and places being talked about. Come on over and visit!

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  • 192. At 10:31pm on 26 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    Mick412 (#188) "If you notice both the Democratic and Republican party are losing voters and the largest block will soon be "Independents" -- who tend to be right of center."

    It has been generally known for some time that unaffiliated voters are increasing in share of the electorate, but I don't know as I would agree that independents are "right of center." Independents (if truly so) are by definition hard to categorize. I'm sure that neither the right or left would count me (an unaffiliated voter) as being on their side of center.

    Here is a thoughtful piece on the independent voter from the Rapid City Journal.

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  • 193. At 10:36pm on 26 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    113. At 5:31pm on 26 Oct 2009, SinShiva wrote:
    “I'd love to see our government take some of our military and use them to clean up cities, get rid of gangs and the like.”

    Good grief! This idea is un-American and also unconstitutional. The federal government is, like the Roman Republic was [south of the Rubicon], forbidden to use the armed forces internally. The national guard has been used in the past because it is supposedly a state organization not a national one.


    184. At 9:46pm on 26 Oct 2009, brokenground wrote TO
    @22 dceilar: “…In fact this conflating of Britain and it's Empire (a very short period of the British Isle's history) is perhaps part of this residual superpower conceit I refer to…”

    Well if you use a more historically realistic “English Empire” instead of “British Empire” you might start with the Angevin Empire, and from that get to the British Empire that the American colonists were encouraged [at gunpoint] not to leave, and finally, of course to the “short period” during which the “Empire” included India.

    There is also an opinion that the “British Empire” is alive and well in its officially republican heir and successor, n’cest pas?

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  • 194. At 10:45pm on 26 Oct 2009, Mick412 wrote:

    GH1618 -- You are correct about the Legislative branch -- I should have clarified that my focus was upon the Executive branch. Which is the symbol / image around the world.

    p.s. -- i'm an Ex Pat, it's not my system of government -- I just live in Los Angeles, and like Connecticut, California too, has been privileged with unfulfilled expectations by its representatives and senators.

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  • 195. At 10:45pm on 26 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    RScWilson (#190) "I believe you don't know your own political system as well as you think you do. ... "

    I beg your pardon. I know all about Senators. The term "congressman" refers to a member of the House of Representatives, to which I was referring. We also, of course, elect two senators from our own state.

    One of our senators (Feinstein) is so popular in her home state that she didn't bother to campaign in the last election. She is currently leading the race to become the next governor without having even announced for the office. That doesn't mean that Californians love the Senate, just one of our senators.

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  • 196. At 10:51pm on 26 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    I have been gravely insulted by
    188. At 10:05pm on 26 Oct 2009, Mick412 wrote:
    GH1618

    “Almost correct, the truly devastating impact on the American Political System and its "representative republic" is the failure of the respective parties selection of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. This always affords the winning party with a strong left leaning or right leaning candidate -- pandering to the base and $$.

    The selection, who in all likelihood, may represent less than 15% of the electorate... Therefore, it is a vote for or against an ideology and not an election based on what is truly in each of the individuals' best interest. If you notice both the Democratic and Republican party are losing voters and the largest block will soon be "Independents" -- who tend to be right of center.”
    I am left of center on most issues [as we Americans see it], thank you very much. But who defines the center, the left, the right?


    190. At 10:29pm on 26 Oct 2009, RScWilson wrote:
    185. GH1618

    “I believe you don't know your own political system as well as you think you do. You do not elect one congressman, you elect at least two. Your district gets a representative in the House of Representatives and then you get to elect one of two Senators for your state.”

    And you do not know it very well either. Alaska has only 1 representative because the number depends on population, whereas every state has 2 senators regardless of population. It depends, as well, on whether reps are elected at large [whole state] or in a single district.

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  • 197. At 10:59pm on 26 Oct 2009, LionMageAZ wrote:

    I was reading some things here with great amusement, but I noticed some of the comments by ElliottCB and others, and simply had to leave a comment to correct what I see as counter-factual or inaccurate information. For the record, I grew up in Connecticut (the northeastern U.S., part of New England), and now live in Phoenix, Arizona (which is considered part of the desert Southwest).

    First, diversity. An outsider will likely perceive America as being culturally homogeneous. This is the disservice done to us by the popular media. What you have to remember is that American media is a product, not necessarily reflective of reality, and our "news" is just another such product. Our newscasters have their regional accents white-washed out of existence, replaced by a fictitious accent meant to sound like some non-existent rural enclave just outside Chicago. The purpose is many-fold; talking heads can be shuffled around to different regional news bureaus, television or radio stations, of course, but the fake accent is considered "neutral" and therefore inoffensive.

    In dozens of little ways, regional flavor is systematically removed from all forms of popular culture. For example, I was dismayed how a television show supposedly set in Phoenix has props indicating that this city is set in a fictitious county of "Mariposa." Mariposa, by the way, is Spanish for butterfly; the real county is named Maricopa. The homes and lifestyles shown could easily belong to people in Los Angeles. (There's a Mariposa county in California, by the way.) Some of us would call this the gross Californication of American culture, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree. The rest of the world sees America through a Californian lens, after all.

    Regional accents are not the only linguistic hallmark of America. There are completely different idioms that are in use in different regions, and if you're not from there, an unfamiliar idiom will likely make no sense to you. The deep South is an extreme example of this -- remember the song "Losing my Religion?" That phrase comes from the South (the band REM is from Athens, Georga), and it basically means you are becoming impatient. My ex-wife taught me quite a few from north Florida and rural Alabama, most of which are either a little too colorful to put here, or which I would do a horrible job of transcribing due to time and memory constraints. (It's been a long time, and my memory isn't so great anymore.) But she would often say things like, "He's just et up with it." (Translation: "He is full of himself.")

    Most regional differences are indeed cultural. You would not walk up to a home in New England and knock on the door if you were previously unannounced. I distinctly recall how chilly a reception a stranger would get, even in my hometown. In some New England states, such as Vermont or Maine, that chilly reception might include a shotgun -- an uncle in New Hampshire or Maine (sorry, I was very young at the time) taught me how to reload shotgun shells, and one of the preferred media to load was rock salt. Why rock salt? To ward off "trespassers," and give them a less-than-lethal send-off which will remind them for some time afterward of their transgression.

    The Midwest is considerably more friendly overall. The South is friendly, but the social order is different there, and if you're not from there you will be reminded of that. The Southwest is still very much in the "Wild West" phase, hence why Arizona and New Mexico have such permissive gun laws. You'll notice, though, that these states emphasize openly carrying sidearms; Arizona requires a concealed carry permit, which requires taking classes, whereas New Mexico does not allow concealed carry whatsoever. Some of these differences in gun laws fall to differences in local temperament; consider Massachusetts, which has gone about as far as it can to make it near-impossible for private citizens to purchase guns of any kind.

    The music scenes are, of course, very different. Each region mingled the influences of different cultures, so Dixieland Jazz (as you might hear in New Orleans) has heavy African influences, whereas Southern Rock has obvious Country influences, and much of the Southwest scene is heavily infused with Latin and Native American sounds. Then there are the new experimental sounds, including Hopi reggae and Navajo jazz (just to pick two examples from Arizona, which I'm somewhat familiar with).

    I was amused that some of the commenters here decried the homogeneity of American culture, after having admitted to only "traveling about" the U.S. Sorry to say, you can't really get a good understanding of American culture without having lived here for a couple decades, minimum -- and even then, you would need to move around a bit to be exposed to some things you otherwise wouldn't.

    To quote ElliottCB: "I think you will find that food was invented by the French, 'base ball', or 'rounders', has been known to the British since at least the sixteenth century, music goes back to African drumming and the Lesbian 7-stringed lute, and the integrated circuit was invented by a Japanese calculator manufacturer. I might add the Internet to your list, which was invented by Al Gore while working at CERN in Geneva."

    Actually, food wasn't invented by anyone. If by "food" you mean sustenance, that's been around since before there were humans on the planet. (If you mean haute cuisine, then by all means, laud the French! But I am told by some food historian friends that there were periods where English cuisine was considered the envy of the world.)

    The integrated circuit's invention is credited to Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor. Sorry, not any Japanese calculator company, though maybe you were shooting for tongue-in-cheek. Then again, maybe you really believe what you wrote...

    Nobody said America invented music, but we certainly originated several forms of music. The synthesis or syncretism of different musical forms is where this stuff comes from, mainly, so while some of the specific origin forms might hail from Africa or Europe, the product is uniquely American. Same thing for baseball -- it might have originated from rounders, but modern baseball isn't rounders.

    And for the record, nobody seriously claims that Al Gore invented the Internet. Even he acts either amused or annoyed by the claim. What Gore did was vote in favor of legislation that funded ARPANET, which is the precursor of the modern Internet. I mean, seriously, I'd expect this kind of nonsense from a political opponent of Gore (or Gore's party).

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  • 198. At 11:39pm on 26 Oct 2009, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    176. At 8:52pm on 26 Oct 2009, RickMcDaniel wrote:

    ...and believe that everything in life should be "fun"...Americans are pretty much the same as people in most other countries, except a little more spoiled, by lots of goods, and foolish notions about fun.

    You have something against fun? I'm guessing you aren't having as much fun as you should, Rick. Or is it that you're just a tad jealous, because Americans always seem like they are having more fun than anyone else? Don't feel bad, I've heard that complaint a lot. But being "fun" is one of our most attractive and endearing qualities, according to most studies done on why people like Americans.

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  • 199. At 11:54pm on 26 Oct 2009, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    ref 197 LionMageAZ

    I loved your post and have only one quibble.

    "...regional accents white-washed out of existence, replaced by a fictitious accent meant to sound like some non-existent rural enclave just outside Chicago."

    As a native New Yorker living in Chicago for the past 15 years I've noticed most of my native Chicagoan neighbors sounding just like your fictitious accent. But the hard consonants and plains flat vowels are indeed, the trademark of newscasters nationwide.

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  • 200. At 00:16am on 27 Oct 2009, Maria Ashot wrote:

    Proof that America is too immature to be an effective & reliable leader for the global community:

    1. The Bedlam that is Cybersmut. Americans' all-but-omnipresent obsession with sex has resulted in compulsive, irrational behaviour spilling over into such unacceptable arenas as the recently exposed (although evidently quite well-established) extreme coercive lewdness displayed towards employees of US Defence Department subcontractors, for example those based as guards in Kabul that were finally dragged into the light of day by intrepid American journalists.

    Addiction to pornography no longer even earns a raised eyebrow. Means for delivering pornography proliferate wildly, reaching deeply into communities that previously could fend off infestations of smut-merchants.

    Just like a narcissistic adolescent, the American public objects to any suggestion that there is something fundamentally wrong about such a high degree of acceptance of obscene content that demeans and degrades participants, notably but not exclusively women & girls, as playthings of aggressive, single-minded sexual deviants.

    The term "deviants" applies because what is "deviant" or "perverse" about this behaviour is the utter lack of any emotional attachment, tenderness or concern for the recipient of the sexually aggressive behaviour. The dominant party is glorified; the submissive party is essentially a disposable receptacle.

    Under the direct effect of the pornography industry (which has extended its reach into the mainstream 'entertainment' industry as well), an alarming proportion of Americans aged 40 and under have only the vaguest idea of how to form and maintain healthy, balanced, adult personal relationships; they have never advanced beyond the mechanics of "doing it" to an actual comprehension of the psycho-emotional landscape of sexual intimacy; they persist in failing to effectively prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections, as well as high-risk conceptions or conceptions by juveniles. Large numbers of Americans enter into "committed" relationships of various kinds without fully understanding what these entail, how to choose partners, how to define & design the union, or why they should & should not do so: this is demonstrated by the high rate of divorce & relationship failure, as well as by the over-reliance on various kinds of therapy for relationship issues -- and the large number of depressed or borderline-functional offspring of these kinds of half-baked associations.

    2. The tradition upheld by just about anyone who can afford it of bestowing a personal automobile on every child who turns 16 -- just so they can drive themselves to school, the mall, or the party down the street.

    The weakness, inefficiency, cost problems, safety problems and huge gaps in American public transport systems falls into this category as well.

    3. Far too many Americans believe the Second Amendment entitles them not merely to own a gun, or a hunting rifle or two, but in fact to amass huge personal arsenals "just in case."

    "Just in case" what? This kind of thinking is characteristic of immature, pathologically insecure young males, rather than intelligent adults.

    4. A high level of tolerance for deceit, lying, cheating, and fakery of all kinds. Anything goes so long as one doesn't "get caught." The concept of consequences is tenuous at best. "Everyone does it" is the usual excuse.

    5. A serious lack of interest and motivation in Education. The preference for any number of "new theories" to replace the slow, laborious, painful -- and proven -- method of Teaching and Learning that involves Work, Time investment, Effort, Practice & Repetition, Focused Reading or Attention to Detail.

    6. An increasingly pronounced discomfort with doing work for sustained periods of time that do not involve eating, drinking or listening to music and/or chatting to friends.

    7. An almost genetically programmed (by now) dislike for careful, deliberate thought at the highest levels of responsibility. "Accountability? What's that?"

    8. Resistance to the concept that one's language needs to be mastered, treated with respect (instead of mangled and peppered with curses) and used correctly to mean what is being said.

    9. An inability to accurately price, value or present one's work product for what it is really worth. The expectation of enormous rewards to be reaped quickly, almost instantaneously even, in exchange for minimal outlay or effort.

    10. The determination to impose upon all other members of the household present (meaning the global community) one's own tastes-of-the-moment in music, fashion, food, friends, attitudes, games and routines. This is possibly the most quintessentially adolescent of all American traits (i would qualify that further as "characteristic specifically of 13-15 year old boy adolescents, as opposed to girls who tend to be a tiny bit more mature and at least occasionally help around the house!)

    11. A lingering hope that Santa Claus exists; that Mum & Dad will show up in the nick-of-time, indulgent and omnipotent as usual, and that all will be well in the end. This is the one trait that i still find a little bit endearing -- this is not an "evil" adolescent, but it is a bit of a spoiled brat and no one should be seating him in the captain's chair, least of all during times of crisis.

    13. Lazy, procrastinating and ultimately dumb resistance to the idea that Habits Must Change Before Oxygen Runs Out. (NB: The porn industry is one that could be excised from the planet with no one even noticing its absence... All that would happen is people would re-learn how to be intimate with real human beings instead: the kind that have actual expectations from a partner, and are not to be toyed with!)

    14. Belief in personal invincibility, immortality, uniqueness and "exceptionalism." Reluctance to embrace the lessons of History. Dread of aging. Paralysing fear of being "unattractive", ergo "unpopular." Obsession with popularity, popularity contests, winning all the time -- at all costs. Focus on externals. Tendency to pitch a fit (throw a tantrum) when stood up to. Requirement that "fun" always be provided -- preferably by others, and at someone else's expense.

    15. The Global Financial Crisis of the 21st century, brought to you by The Masters of the Universe as choreographed by America's highly over-rated, albeit glib & pompous Financial Wizards...

    Enough said?

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  • 201. At 00:25am on 27 Oct 2009, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    Someone just sent me this video and I've come to realize that maybe Rick McDaniel (ref 176) is right. Maybe we Americans are having too much fun.

    Nah!

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  • 202. At 00:36am on 27 Oct 2009, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    Pot kettle, Maria. From the Times Online Vanessa George and Angela Allen abused toddlers for Facebook 'friend' they never met. Everything you stated could just as easily be applied to Britain. Though I'd replace knives with guns and lower the drinking age to a shocking and very immature 16 yrs!

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  • 203. At 00:40am on 27 Oct 2009, Quakeboy02 wrote:

    "1-15 - Enough said?"

    You left out number 16: "In spite of all the above, there are very few on the planet, of any nation, who wouldn't really rather live in America, because as Warren Buffett said, to be born in America is to win the birth lottery."

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  • 204. At 01:12am on 27 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    203. Qb2
    First, I'm wondering is what happened to No.12.

    Second, unlike the very insightful Mr. Buffet, a lot of people who have won that lottery have not the faintest idea how lucky they are. It's that entitlement thing all over again.

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  • 205. At 01:12am on 27 Oct 2009, jacog3 wrote:

    Re: "maria-ashot"

    Lighten up - you take yourself waaaaaaaaaaay too seriously.

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  • 206. At 01:13am on 27 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    Congratulations Mr. Mardell,
    I recognize my country in a good many of these posts, especially those that are contradictory. America and Americans are full of contradictions and always have been. Loyal British subjects who arrest their royal governors and go into rebellion over the rights of Englishmen, people who self-righteously demand freedom of religion while denying equal freedom to others, slave owners declaring "...all men are created equal..." and so on.

    What many fail to realize is that the high ideals came first and we have been playing catch up ever since. Some of this is coming out here. All men are created equal [corollary, all men can aspire to the presidency], and after a couple of centuries we elected Barack Obama. So we haven’t yet attained the “perfect union” we just keep on trying. As another famous American said, “We shall overcome…some day.” Thanks for the stimulating post, keep up the good work.

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  • 207. At 01:36am on 27 Oct 2009, Quakeboy02 wrote:

    Interestedforeigner said: "Second, unlike the very insightful Mr. Buffet, a lot of people who have won that lottery have not the faintest idea how lucky they are. It's that entitlement thing all over again."

    My point is that Americans are just people. It isn't necessary, or even desirable, for us to try to live up to your standards; wherever you may be.

    To most Brits I'd say look to your own before you look beyond yourselves with criticisms. You probably feel like things are just fine, but from where I sit, you have an endemic poverty mindset that you don't dare face. Not only do you provide "councel houses" for the poor, but you import more poor, as quickly as you can, to fill houses not yet built. Your farms only supply 70% of what you eat. You don't take your place in the world by fighting against the threat of militant Islam with any degree of seriousness - why? - from an outsider's view it's because you have so many Muslims that you don't dare offend them. Your educational system is in an even worse state of disrepair than ours, in America.

    To this American's eyes, Britain is a country that is lost in apology to the nations that it subjugated during its colonial period. You've lost your self-respect, and you court the poor and ethnic to try to get it back. But, as we learned here in the US, an ever mounting population of entitled non-working poor is unsustainable. I wish you luck, but carping about what you perceive is wrong in America doesn't take even the first step of addressing what's wrong in your own garden.

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  • 208. At 01:46am on 27 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    200 Maria.

    Last week I found myself in the unaccustomed position of defending the government of Israel.

    Now I find my rock-ribbed presbyterian self defending pornography. Well, life is full of bizarre twists and ironies, to be sure.

    Look, if you don't like pornography, turn off the TV, throw out the magazine, close the book, look the other way. What you consider "pornography" may not in any way offend the majority of your fellow citizens.

    Because of the indefiniteness of what constitutes "pornography", the courts have moved to an assessment based on community standards of morality, of what is or isn't acceptable behaviour. No matter how much people may make fun of this, I stand witness that in my lifetime this approach has led to significant improvements in our society and in our approach to law enforcement. I don't want to go back to the sexual repression and hypocrisy of the society depicted in "Peyton Place".

    Rather than try to define the undefinable and outlaw "smut", the focus is now on identifying harm, and taking steps to counter that harm. Thus we focus on abusive or manipulative conduct, conduct that is degrading, conduct where there cannot be informed adult consent, conduct that is violent, conduct that is exploitative or coercive, and so on.

    With respect, aiming law enforcement at identifiable harm is a far more logical approach than previous attempts at sexual repression through the singularly inappropriate vehicle of the criminal law. Much of the former law enforcement by the "vice" squad in respect of human sexuality was grossly unjust, and led to far more harm than good. It was an enormous waste of public resources, it was an incitement to corruption of the police, it was a huge subsidy and source of wealth to organized crime. Is the world really a better place because Oscar Wilde was jailed for being homosexual?

    We live in a world where adolescents are constantly being de-sensitized to violence. How many murders or beatings have you actually seen or been involved in during your lifetime? Now compare that to the number of violent incidents on prime time television per hour. Don't even get me started on video games.

    By contrast, how many times does the average person make love? Yet it is acceptable to show any number of gruesome murders on TV, any number of shootings, but not to show an undressed woman (or man)on TV, because, heaven forbid, that would lead to the moral ruination of society.

    Well, I would much rather watch (and, I would much rather my children watch, frankly) what you refer to as pornography than the constant diet of guns, explosions, violence and killings that masquerades as "drama" on TV. I have a fair idea which one is doing more damage to our society.


    On your points on education and hard work, you are on firmer ground, in my view at least.

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  • 209. At 02:07am on 27 Oct 2009, David wrote:

    Whatever...

    But yes, now I AGREE, Mr. Mardell needs to get away from the "behind-licking" type people of DC. Most are of course not conformist type people there.

    At least, the appearance(s) of controversial opinion(s) is/are less likely there.

    Mark should travel to Kansas City, New Orleans, Denver, Oakland/San Francisco and Seattle and stay awhile in each city... people are stranger than he might think... here in America (luckily).

    Also, he should go South. I went to Mississippi ..once... with an African American friend And it was a Revelation--truly it IS segregated and ..different in culture from much of America.

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  • 210. At 03:14am on 27 Oct 2009, BraunSA wrote:

    USA, Please do not grow up and get set in your ways!!
    You are the most caring & charitable society on Earth!!
    Believe it or not! Because you find the good in other people and want to help out other people. Just this month my daughter's 5th grade class raised $782 to buy 2 water buffalos and three goats for a tribe in Africa! As Alistair Cooke and Justin Webb discovered, we really do care! Once you look past the media and government rhetoric, you see the heart and soul that lends you the shirt off our back and even our sons to help out if necessary. What Earthly Good would America be if she wasn't the way she is? Yes we frustrate those who wish we would see things their way. I guess you can have an equally powered America, lamenting at the pub with you about the power of China.
    As Billy Joel sings "Don't go Changin'..."

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  • 211. At 03:28am on 27 Oct 2009, BraunSA wrote:

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  • 212. At 05:25am on 27 Oct 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #79. T1m0thy: "One of the group said he would never buy a US built car. When asked why he replied 'because they catch fire too easily'. His reasoning was that every time he saw a crash in Hollywood movie or TV series the car caught fire therefore American cars must be a fire hazard."

    It's just as likely that the vehicle was made in Japan or Europe - perhaps your friend is not very observant?

    #133. jeffzekas: "My best friend is black and anglo"

    Black and English no doubt, but never Black and Anglo!

    #200. maria-ashot: "Enough said?"

    More than enough. You make Mary Whitehouse seem benign.

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  • 213. At 06:23am on 27 Oct 2009, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:

    Yes, we have problems in America just as European nations have, but to call us adolescent is the same as calling yourselves stuffy and old. It feels an awful lot like a finger wagging exercise before a parental lecture.

    However, if I had to chose, I'd rather the US not "mature" in the manner that many on this blog long for. I rather like our national ideals and myths because they keep the country together in the face of wild political discourse that is characteristic of America. And if that sets us back a few years, then so be it. Our nation survived for the most part of 200 years as the underdog and yet we succeeded when most, especially those in Europe, believed and hoped, for various reasons, that we would collapse and fail.

    The US is not about kings and queens, dominions, colonies, and empires of the past and present. We don’t try to subvert and annex the world. We’ll do business, but for the most part, we'd rather be left alone to our own devices so that we wouldn't have to worry about policing the world for an incompetent UN. Those that attack and kill us or others because they associate with us are not attacking imperialist aggressors; they are the aggressors and the friends of aggressors who have purposely brought and wrought death and destruction on the innocent to twist and distort and deceive. It is they who should be condemn by history and world opinion just as Hitler was in the previous century.

    America is an idea, a living mythology based in the utopianism of early western liberalism and witnessed in acts and words of individual patriotism and entrepreneurism. It is naturally a schizophrenic society of Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian ideals, but it suits us. We, as a free society, continue to carry the weight of liberty even when we stumble because our national mythos tells us that it is forever our burden. And we ask only that those who wish to join our nation individually take on that burden, so that we may someday reach the unreachable. It is a lofty, somewhat naive goal for an adolescent 300 year old nation, but I would rather that than the empty political and social "maturity" that would require America to dispel and forget many of these ideals enshrined in the Constitution. Without them, we are lost; a nation with a meaningless flag.

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  • 214. At 06:51am on 27 Oct 2009, turningblueandgrey wrote:

    # 42, 50, 61, 72, 85, 87: I enjoyed all your posts and agree with much that you said.

    In this reply I'll try to avoid the adolescent traits of 'knowing it all' and meeting instruction with defensiveness... We could do better about those as a nation, too, and we need to temper the expectations of instant gratification that feed our consumerism and debt.

    But we shouldn't lose some other youthful traits, here are a few that serve us well:

    improvisation - I think the secret of American music, mentioned by some as our great export for generations, and to innovation and invention, is improvisation, a blend of proficient skill or knowledge with the freeing imagination and optimism of youth.

    concentration - if the intense focus of play can be brought to our growth as much as to our hobbies, we can imitate the likes of Abe Lincoln's fireside reading self-education or George Washington's cultivation of extraordinary restraint and probity.

    fairness - kids have high expectations of a level playing field and don't abide cheaters. This childhood trait is wiser than the jaded acceptance that replaces idealism in some. It's why most of us are law-abiding and tax-paying, and why we respect the fruits of effort more than privilege...

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  • 215. At 08:22am on 27 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    207 quake boy
    "To most Brits I'd say look to your own before you look beyond yourselves with criticisms. ......from an outsider's view it's because you have so many Muslims that you don't dare offend them. Your educational system is in an even worse state of disrepair than ours, in America.
    To this American's eyes, Britain is a country that is lost in apology to the nations that it subjugated during its colonial period. You've lost your self-respect, and you court the poor and ethnic to try to get it back. ........ I wish you luck, but carping about what you perceive is wrong in America doesn't take even the first step of addressing what's wrong in your own garden."


    Much of what you say may well be true, and your opinion is as valid as anyone's, but this BBC blog is about AMERICA, and therefore you cannot discount the opinions of British contributors with a "look to your own problems first" attitude.

    America is a global power and her actions have effect around the globe, often due to the spin put on those actions by manipulators looking to promote a negative image of the USA.

    On this blog, although there are a few real "antis", most of the comment from foreigners is benign and meant to draw attention to the things about America that could be made better, and in no way simply "diss" the USA. Most of us foreigners wouldn't be here if we didn't care about the US and wish it well. I travel often in the US, have worked there (legally) and have many many friends across the whole country, from relatives in alaska, to friends in San Francisco, Springfield (Ill) and New York .... so I feel my comments can have weight, despite the problems in Britain.

    You are perhaps a tad too sensitive, and unable or unwilling to take a good hard look at your country and see it's bad as well as its good, irrespective of party politics. This is what is meant by immature.


    P.S. If you wish to see how self-critical the British can be look at Mark Easton's UK blog and you will see that if anything the British are harder on themselves than on others.

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  • 216. At 08:52am on 27 Oct 2009, DixieNana wrote:

    Grow up into what-a cynical, socialist, Godless Europe?

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  • 217. At 09:01am on 27 Oct 2009, vannutz wrote:

    Kurth's thesis is nonsense. Like many other academics of his political stripe, he is compelled to demonstrate, repeatedly and in public, that he is in fact a manly man, and not merely a fey university lecturer (the best example of this is Harvard Prof Harvey Mansfield's book which, I kid you not, is titled "Manliness.") Anyway, the fact is that the reason America has long been respected and admired around the world is that for most of the twentieth century it was one of the few countries that provided ample opportunities for its people, including its newest immigrants, to better their lives economically as well as educationally. Moreover, throughout the twentieth century the US expanded political and civil rights for women, blacks and other minorities and also, on occasion and with great effect, stood up for human rights around the world (most notably in the years following WWII and towards the end of the soviet era). To the extent that America's reputation has suffered in recent years, this is entirely the fault of lousy political leadership that promoted a foreign policy (invading Iraq) that was, without a doubt, completely insane. Those who really need to "grow up" are the so-called intellectuals who support a state of permanent war against people they don't understand, who live in places they've never been, and speak languages they never studied...

    (signed, a yank in asia)

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  • 218. At 1:25pm on 27 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #212More than enough. You make Mary Whitehouse seem benign.

    _______________--

    A name I have not heard referenced to since the 80s

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  • 219. At 2:01pm on 27 Oct 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 183 T1m0thy wrote:

    "Oh and Philly_Mom what is a Basque Bar Mitzvah please?"

    Presumably it's Jewish Rite of Passage ceremony, where the ladies don exotic underwear...

    ;-)

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  • 220. At 2:07pm on 27 Oct 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 203 Quakeboy02 wrote:

    "In spite of all the above, there are very few on the planet, of any nation, who wouldn't really rather live in America, because as Warren Buffett said, to be born in America is to win the birth lottery."

    Really? Granted, those in countries which are poorer than the US and/or aren't democratic may want to live there. But are all the occupants of western Europe, Japan, Australia, or indeed Canada, queuing up to try to get into the US? Because that's a bit more than 'very few'. [Indeed there seem to be rather large nos of people who want to emigrate to those areas.]

    And if Mr Buffett did say that, I assume he was merely adapting a similar statement some time in the 19th century - something like being born British was to win first place in the lottery of life.

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  • 221. At 2:10pm on 27 Oct 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    After reading all the comments here, I finally got around to reading the piece by James Kurth that inspired Mark's posting. I thought it was interesting and quite well argued. It's argument was certainly a bit more specific than 'America is an adolescent that needs to grow up'.

    And, as some people here appear not to have realised, Mr Kurth is a right wing American, so any criticism by him of the US is hardly 'typical foreigners bashing America'.

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  • 222. At 2:22pm on 27 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    " 96. At 4:32pm on 26 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #93

    There is a fault in the BBC board I have checked posts I have done and spelling has been changed."

    LOL gherkin. Even I doubt that and as U know I have no love for the mods.

    However in your defence I would have a word with the grammer trolls.
    Gherky is american And I am a britican.
    Speeling is'nnt all dat important.
    to concentrate on spelling is a typical bull.
    gherky makes enough ridiculous comments, enough to fill books. so leave off the way he says it and concentrate on what he says.
    Again ,it may be a total pile of fertiliser.
    But that is not the point.
    Or do you just use better spelling and manners to try to claim your side of an argument?
    Even if you are wrong?

    (which most of the time gherky is).
    so grammar troll,if you like but it proves nothing about anything to do with reasoning.

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  • 223. At 2:28pm on 27 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Someone mentions "more intelligentsia crap"

    That is what I see in the case of the business owner in new mexico that is making his staff change their name to an anglicised name, and only speak English in his presence( worried the staff are calling him bad names probably).
    ANy claim that this is not racist is really trying to put some academic debate into what is a simple call.
    The guys a racist.
    but in the states he is argued as not being racist.
    Because americans can all have it their terrible two way whatever way that is.
    If little brat wants to say separating races out and defining people by the religion is not bigoted then that is another example of the spoilt little terrible two year old, getting their way again.

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  • 224. At 2:29pm on 27 Oct 2009, izy1958 wrote:

    Most of the world see's American Culure in three ways, Upper north east coast mentality (who try to appear liberal and educated to the sense that they think they are transplanted Europeans and as such take the attitude that the rest of the country are backward peasants). The rest of the country with the exeception of California (are conservative bible thumpers, that are shocked by the attitudes of "New" morality displayed in Europe, the East Coast and California). And California (who think they are so progressive that they have passed the toughest pollution standards in the world in spite of the fact that the entire state is on fire for six months out of the year). Well for the most part we don't like what the others do or say, but regardless of who temporarily wins the floor we dont go to war over it. Now you Europeans have had 50 years of relative peace, a fleeting bit of time in a long history of conflicts. Maybe you have finally learned to live together and maybe it will all end tomorrow for some dumb reason that will set Europe on fire again. Whatever, My point is this....You have not right to lecture about "Adolescent America needing to grow up". If your so grown up, we would be looking to you for leadership, when all we see is babbling!

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  • 225. At 2:29pm on 27 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #200

    Too much said and most of your points are not specific to America but reflect many nations around the world.

    it is a myth that most 16 year olds get a car. I lived in a wealthy suburb and even there it was a minority. If we were lucky we got to borrow the car.

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  • 226. At 2:48pm on 27 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    105 johne heart.
    could spend loads of time picking that pathetic 105 post out.
    from lack of reality to your crazy assumptioons. but seeing as you are a fresh poster and sound just like some of the other thickos we see here regularly I suspect a troll.

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  • 227. At 2:53pm on 27 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    John what the writer of the article is up to the usual ,now we are out of pwer lets bash the country.during our time bashers were unpatriotic.
    The moron should have been at it for the last 50 years, but he just noticed.
    Well it's obama's watch so america can be derided by good clean living patriots.
    It is not like the old days where there was a nice white guy in power. A guy with republican leanings

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  • 228. At 3:00pm on 27 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    219.john-In-Dublin wrote:
    "# 183 T1m0thy wrote:
    Oh and Philly_Mom what is a Basque Bar Mitzvah please?

    Presumably it's Jewish Rite of Passage ceremony, where the ladies don exotic underwear..."


    Sounds great.... but does this means that the Basque Seperatists wish to seperate these women from their exotic underwear .... ooooh Rabbi, stop it!

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  • 229. At 3:01pm on 27 Oct 2009, cknight84 wrote:

    I'm an American from Chicago who's spent some time all over Western Europe. I have to agree with other comments that the European view of American's seems largely based on American pop culture, which is largely ignored by most adult Americans. I'm sure European adults have no interest in these things either, but they are inevitably exposed to it, and would understandably draw conclusions about our society from them.

    As for the American economy falling behind, a large part of the blame should be directed towards Wall Steet. Many of our smartest young people that used to become doctors and scientists are now going to Wall Street b/c that's where the money is. They've managed to invent imaginary economic rules that, w/ rising American consumerism, helped create the current economic situation; instead of tangible inventions of worldwide use in science and medicine.

    Do young American need to grow up? Yes... in that we need to focus on the things that are important to society, such as personal health and innovation, and less on accumulation of things we think we need.

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  • 230. At 3:08pm on 27 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    116 "that American should become like much of European society has become: cynical and lacking in confidence in its own roots."

    what a country that has refused to give health care because they can't trust their own democratically elected officials. in a country that will go to others and Invade them if they do not have a deep held belief in the freedom of democracy.
    the cold war was fought suposedly over the concept of democratically electing leaders.
    "we want all to be democratic" then we refuse to vote because " well what's the difference"
    refuse to believe in our own elected officials.
    A nation based on making people more "equal" and the state to care for the "welfare" of their people can't get a national health system of any sort going because they can't be trusted those people in the government.
    Or even more in defiance of it's own roots. they sometime argue that "there is no constitutional call for helping others"

    But you would say" should become like much of European society has become: cynical and lacking in confidence in its own roots"

    Pathetic

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  • 231. At 3:08pm on 27 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    225 gherky
    no you are right. some get a car at 15

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  • 232. At 3:15pm on 27 Oct 2009, seanspa wrote:

    I too have sympathy for mk. The mods pick on me as well, changing my brilliantly written posts so that they appear here as a load of carp.

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  • 233. At 3:38pm on 27 Oct 2009, Maria Ashot wrote:

    To our interestedforeigner (No. 208):

    Being a huge believer in freedom of speech, for many, many decades i have turned my eyes away from the pornography phenomenon as essentially some kind of marginal rubbish that has "always been around" in some shape or form.

    Well, in Pompeii they had to hire someone to make the paintings on the walls, or the exaggerated sculptures. And for centuries even a Hogarth or a Turner would produce erotic and even unapologetically pornographic drawings -- many of them exquisitely precise -- so that the kinds of people who have a need to look at images of cavorting others could possess something they could refer to at will.

    Then we had the advent of photography and cinematography, taking things to a whole new level. And, of course, in the second half of the 20th century, we had those quintessentially American "miracles of marketing": Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler... and the degradation got worse and worse, even as the physical number of copies in print grew exponentially, to beyond stratospheric heights.

    No. 202 tells me i am a "pot calling a kettle black": the "problem" is as bad in the UK.

    No, it is not. Nor, i promise you, interestedforeigner, is it as benign as it is from where you are sitting.

    What sets me apart from many of my interlocutors here -- and by no means am i trying to impress, believe me -- is that i do rub shoulders with a very broad spectrum of people in all kinds of interesting places, in a variety of languages & cultures, and i have taught, literally, from your angelic nursery school novice to your post-doc adult. Most of the communities i interact with, notably right here in the US (40+ years in California, 5 in Massachusetts and 3 in the NY area), are not your BBC-types. BBC people tend to have some connection to the power elites.

    And what i am trying to say, by sounding the alarm about excess pornographic addiction & its consequences, to the power elites (of which i am by no means a member, although perhaps some of my friends count) is that this manifestation is no longer "benign"; it is no longer "marginal." Yes, it emanates from the US, which has taken it to "new heights" (much as the US does everything, good or bad); in the US we have had reports of even megafirms such as GM and GE getting into the porn industry via their subsidiaries, because it is soooo profitable -- evidently, pornbrains during the Bush-Cheney years (Cheney's specific proclivities, not to mention W's and Rove's are well known in SF and just about anyone can read about them if they care to actually read) have penetrated even the Pentagon policy institutes. (Yes, "don't ask, don't tell" works that way too, as a shield to protect from scrutiny any kind of conduct provided it is somewhat 'discreet.' From time to time, news seeps out of the Air Force Academy, for example; cases make the news... and then all is quiet again. Until the Kabul "hazing" incident kind of flashed across the public radar screens again: this is what our taxes pay for?)

    in California, this morning, millions of us are still reeling from the Jaycee Dugard story -- an abducted child held as a sex slave "in plain sight" while a whole community, including law enforcement, watched & pretended not to see -- and today we have the latest: a brutal gang-rape of a fifteen year-old outside a high school dance in a city not more than 20 mins away from where i used to live, at an event with sufficient adult presence & monitoring... A rape that went on for more than TWO HOURS, involving perhaps six or seven men, some of whom were "fellow students" -- a rape that went on while people milled around, bystanders watched, neighbours heard about it -- until finally some one sane human being had the decency to notify the police.

    What is the connection to porn? if you actually expose yourself, for a few minutes, to some of the horrible "amateur hour" pornographic content that is available free of charge (!) from almost any computer on the planet, you will see -- if you are an adult woman, as i am, and have the capacity to see this kind of thing from the perspective of a Woman, not the person operating the equipment, so to speak -- a virtually endless collection of often very young females who are being ABUSED. Not "made love to": ABUSED, exploited, attacked -- on camera -- often by "wholesome looking" young men, many of whom one could readily mistake for US military.

    The problem with this content is that it inculcates a conviction in young males who have not read books or ever actually had a conversation with a woman that what is in fact Abuse, Sexual Assault, even outright Rape is "normal sex." The notion that a woman is howling her head off -- in pain -- contorted into the strangest poses no reasonable man would ever willingly undertake himself, "because she enjoys it and this is how it is done."

    For decades, people have attempted to make the point that pornography encourages sexual violence, especially against women and girls. And the people who made that point were generally mocked as "prudes" or "fundamentalists" or "sexually uptight people." Well, i am none of the above.

    i am a mother of a 25, 21 and 16 year old. All three attended US public schools. When the oldest two attended, pornographic content was not a pervasive phenomenon on campus. With the youngest, now 16, in an outstanding high school in a fairly clean-cut community, pornography is the content of choice, not just for most young lads, but also for many, many young lasses. They are learning "dating skills" from watching it. Refusing to participate exposes one to ostracism...

    in the US today, more effort is being put into getting sodas out of high school cafeterias than into teaching young people to have respect for each other and for themselves -- to develop intimacy skills through careful, unhurried experience -- in PRiVATE.

    What we are looking at is the likelihood of greater success with getting people to lose weight than to prevent sexually transmitted infections, not to mention emotional illness, mental illness -- and increasingly extreme acts of sexual aggression. And do not imagine that even rape in Africa or sex tourism in Asia or child brides in india and Africa do not have something to do with just how acceptable it has become to view a screaming, squirming victim of a sexual assault or a sexually exploitative event as "exactly what (s)he needs."

    Not at all. Sexual pleasure does not involve pain. The pain response in the human organism is meant to function as an alarm. Anyone who pretends otherwise suffers from an illness.

    Anyone who applies force against a person who is in the room under duress -- because of financial need, for example, or out of some kind of mental illness that suggests they need to "obey", or because they have been "trained" or "groomed" (as captives or women from marginalised communities often turn out to have been) -- is engaging in an assault, not in an actual sexual encounter.

    True "consent" involves a completely free agent who is an adult, whose mind has not been influenced in some fashion whether by peer pressure - social programming - money - intoxicants -- and who has some knowledge of what they are about to participate in, and how it will impact their body & mind.

    Consider also, as we contemplate an urgent need for reductions in overall carbon footprints, that pornography, like nail lacquer, hair colouring, tobacco, "recreational" drugs and plastic toy falls into an area of human activity that is entirely dispensible, with no actual harm done to anyone from their absence.

    Finally, and this really goes right back to the heart of what Mr Kurth writes, and Mr Mardell raises as a topic for discussion: "This is what they do in America" has become a rallying cry for a much greater proportion of the human population than was ever the case 30 years ago.

    Even though there were, of course, all kinds of phenomena that degraded & exploited women & girls (as well as some men & boys) in all the societies that were at least partially closed to American influence until the 1990s, pornography and smut as a whole were far less ubiquitous.

    Now, with globalization, they are, indeed, everywhere: they are extreme, they are vile -- and they are completely "Americanized": meaning juvenile, primitive, coarse, unthinking...

    Even the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and what is being tolerated from the illegitimate iranian regime in its torture of young people perceived to be "threats to the system" exist at an entirely different level of brutality -- and shock less -- as a direct result of the utterly unchallenged reign of sexually aggressive behaviour that specifically American culture sanctions, models and promotes.

    All that talk about "God-loving Americans" is nothing but a smokescreen.

    Whatever you have going on in the UK or EU absolutely Pales By Comparison.

    it is a problem, it is in particularly a problem for the human rights of children & women; it is a problem because this is how those people you give so much power to in WDC & NYC actually spend their free time: this is what is on their brains.

    it is a problem because even as i write it grows, virtually unchecked.

    And it does say a great deal about what is wrong with America.

    Remedies? Well, a whole lot of people are a great deal more concerned about file-sharing!

    What are your priorities?

    i can understand and would not be spending my time on this -- Filth, because that is what it is! -- if people were privately making on a 100% consensual basis, with no money changing hands and no brainwashing involved -- private videos for personal use within the confines of their own bedroom, safely out of the reach of juveniles, by Adults, involving Adults.

    but this is not what we have here. We have a mushrooming industry -- now also a cottage industry -- of mentally unbalanced males (for the most part) promoting the idea that there is nothing better than sexual assault, PUBLiC sexual assault, in full view of others --and that women and girls exist primarily to provide gratification for people born with male sexual organs. That nothing is more important than male sexual organs, and their "glorification" & gratification in every possible way.

    This is lunacy. it is Pompeii all over again, on a planet-wide scale, and it impacts now Billions of human lives.

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  • 234. At 3:42pm on 27 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    "In Connecticut, where I currently reside, there is much discourse over the state's current Senators, both often accused of not fulfilling the promises they once made. If the people of whatever district of whatever state you're in are happy with your congressmen then you are properly represented and I congratulate you, but I assure you, your situation does not hold true for all Americans." (from RScWilson at #190)

    This remark is patronizing. RSW is in no position to "assure" me of anything. Connecticut is not all that much different than other states where Congress is concerned. They have five members of the House of Representatives. In 2008, four of them were reelected by the solid majorities of 71.6%, 65.7%, 77.5%, and 59.9%. In one district the incumbent was defeated in a close race. The district switched from Republican to Democratic in a Democratic year. In Connecticut, as everywhere else, voters tend to support their incumbent congressman.

    The Senate seats for Connecticut are another matter. One of Connecticut's senators is Lieberman, who has been something of a rogue Democrat. When he was defeated in the Democratic primary, he ran in the general election as an independent, which he won handily with bipartisan support. No generalizations can reasonably be made from this case; independent and third-party members of Congress are an anomaly. The point I made applies to US politics generally: Senators tend to be reelected.

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  • 235. At 4:08pm on 27 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    229 cknight
    "I have to agree with other comments that the European view of American's seems largely based on American pop culture, which is largely ignored by most adult Americans. I'm sure European adults have no interest in these things either, but they are inevitably exposed to it, and would understandably draw conclusions about our society from them."

    This is undeniably true about many European people's perspective on the USA, just as it is equally true that many Americans' opinion of Europe is based on the few (more now, but in the past few) British TV shows, and for the rest of Europe often a 3rd generation memory of what life was like in the old country.

    That said, many of the European contributors here have a good understanding of the US, have travelled expensively or worked there and are making heartfelt comment and critique, with the benefit of replies from actual Americans to help fill our knowledge gaps - that is the point of this blog IMHO.

    Some contributors here label the European view as either "anti-American" or else simplistically state that we are naive victims of pop culture overload. This is nothing more than trying to avoid the issues of the day .... and not seeing our view that although much about the US is good and to be praised, and even adopted, there is also much that is wrong and should be critiqued.

    In general (and it is a generalisation) I believe that Europeans are better informed about the US, on a deeper level than just pop culture, than Americans are about Europe. At least we can say that we ALL know who your president is - can you same the same for us?

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  • 236. At 4:18pm on 27 Oct 2009, CamberwellBeauty wrote:

    stereotypical little barbs from the status quo!
    There has always been a resentment/jealousy of/for the USA dating back especially probably to WWII era the old tired "over paid, over sexed, over here" mantra - who exactly needs to grow up? its all so sophomoric.

    Thank to those i.e. Gavrielle/St.Dom who, as usual, post fair, well written responses without malice & nastiness.

    Mark M. really needs to get out more!

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  • 237. At 4:28pm on 27 Oct 2009, Leo_Naphta wrote:

    I must say I'm quite bemused at the incredibly 'adolescent' reactions being posted on this blog. Nu-uh, you are! Especially since some of these, appear to lack the attention-span to actually read the article, and not just the title. It isn't a European professor saying these things, is it?

    P.S. If certain contributors don't appreciate a European viewpoint, then why read a blog on the website of the British Broadcasting Corporation?

    P.P.S. What is up with all the veiled threats & referencing in part of WWII and what-not? I'm willing to bet, nobody posting here fought in WWII, stop bringing it up.

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  • 238. At 4:39pm on 27 Oct 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    I like American pop culture, including the young. On the other hand our old fuddy duds in the banking, securities and insurance industries have been VERY 'irresponsible' and 'feckless'. I say CONTINUE to export and import pop and youth culture.

    And as for those more mature...."Capricorn 15's. Born 2244. Enter the Carousel. This is the time of renewal. [Crowd applauds] P.A. System: Be strong and you will be renewed. Identify..."

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  • 239. At 4:39pm on 27 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    RomeStu (#235) "That said, many of the European contributors here have a good understanding of the US, have travelled expensively ... "

    There are even more European visitors now that the strong Euro against the US Dollar has made it less expensive.

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  • 240. At 4:56pm on 27 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    237. At 4:28pm on 27 Oct 2009, Leo_Naphta wrote:

    P.S. If certain contributors don't appreciate a European viewpoint, then why read a blog on the website of the British Broadcasting Corporation?

    P.P.S. What is up with all the veiled threats & referencing in part of WWII and what-not? I'm willing to bet, nobody posting here fought in WWII, stop bringing it up.

    ________

    Well, on the first point, it might be because you can't get a good summary of hard news on any of the US news services. But if you want to know about recent burglaries in Hollywood, well, the US news services have got that covered from eighteen viewpoints.

    On the second point, Oh, how little you know. Just don't even go there. And for God's sake, don't raise anything to do with the middle east (and we're not talkin' Wilmington, Delaware, either).

    We may not have fought the war, but by gum it has been re-fought it here over and over and over, often most vigorously by those with the least knowledge, too.

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  • 241. At 5:16pm on 27 Oct 2009, RoyalMCO wrote:

    Survey questions for all 200 plus folks who contributed to this blog: Did you read all Prof Kurth's article or just Mr Mardell's teaser? Have you read Prof Kurth's biography?

    I infer, based upon a read of the comments, that for most, the answer is "no" to at least one question, maybe both. There seems to have been a lot of "mud-wrestling" over issues that respond to the teaser rather than Prof Kurth's recommendation to move away from diplomacy based upon ideology (and back) to a more pragmatic (read:mature) approach when dealing with other nations on the world stage. Kurth used the word "again" as somewhat of an indictment of the US approach of the past couple decades. While Kurth's opinions are up for debate, he is more than just an academic with an axe to grind, or an opinionated foreigner critical of the US...He's from the US and he's been "in the game" for some time.

    Mr Mardell's teaser sure got the comments flowing, but I'm not sure that there were many regarding the substance of Kurth's thesis.

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  • 242. At 5:22pm on 27 Oct 2009, Pennsylvania_Farmer wrote:

    Putting away childish things will be more easier said than done. I agree with James Kurth's comment on the American popular culture that is projected and I am grateful for Mr Mardell's comments on his observations of us close up. Yes, the projected culture is adolescent. But the problem is, it sells. When I have conversations with people outside of the United States about TV, movies, etc. I make it a point to apologize for that awful TV show, Dynasty, and I even pronounce it the British way to make the point.

    Fluff, in the form of stupid TV, silly news or french fries, sells. Just today, on an American purported "news site" one of "Today's Highlights" are articles about celebrity tattoos. For this silliness to end one or both of two things has to happen: 1) American entertainment businesses figure out how to sell good stuff. 2) The demand outside of the United States for fluff ceases to exist. I'm not holding my breath.

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  • 243. At 5:23pm on 27 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #237

    I listen and watch the BBC for their reports outside the U.S. I find that their reports on the U.S are more one sided than most of the world.

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  • 244. At 5:30pm on 27 Oct 2009, db wrote:

    The US is not about kings and queens, dominions, colonies, and empires of the past and present. We don’t try to subvert and annex the world.
    -----------------------------
    Strange...that pretty much describes the last 10 years of US foreign policy.

    I've spent a couple of years in the US (Boston) and I've found that the general public is so utterly divided in terms of personality, beliefs and political opinions that it's hard to pin down any kind of culture to them.

    One thing I've noticed though about most Americans is that they have an extreme paranoia regarding their government. This is where I feel they need to grow up and stop acting like children.

    Of course like any other government the US is not perfect and quite frankly it's foreign policy is often sickening. However the UK also bought into the same war in Iraq so I'm hardly in a position to criticise on that front, despite the cheap shot earlier.

    The main quip I have is that any slightly socialist ideal is condemned as if it will drag the country into a communist state. The main topic at the moment being health care. Coming from Europe I just don't understand the wide spread opposition to universal health care. Many friends here have explained to me "You can't compare Europe to the US we have such a large population, variety of religion, immigrants etc" as if these things don't exist in Europe.

    The way I see it here is that everyone seems programmed to simply reject anything socialist regardless of how useful it might actually be to their society. It is almost seen as unpatriotic and against what the forefathers taught. It seems to me that what I amdire about the US in in its ideas about patriotism and a solid foundation of a republic is hijacked and used against them by those in power (I don't mean the government but the rich) to convince them that it's ok that around 50million live below the poverty line.

    For me Americans have their enemy all wrong. They think their government is their enemy when although not perfect it is nowhere near as twisted as the rich right wing. They are the ones who control the media and they are the ones who constantly take advantage of those less fortunate. If people would trust their government to run health care the country would take a huge step forward. The rich pharmaceutical companies are a prime example of screwing the public. Every TV commercial break is dominated by these disgusting ads. The fact that doctors are under pressure to pretty much sell certain company's drugs is sickening. The fact that people who pay their health insurance premiums are being denied coverage by companies who will do anything not to pay out is outrageous.

    I do think that it's a good idea to be questionable of your government and at times I wish Europeans would do this more however it almost seems like many Americans would be happy to have no government since they don't seem to think they should interfere with anything.

    On the subject of WWII: The US may have helped us win the war but they have charged us an arm and a leg for it since. We only finished paying back the debt a couple of years back. You make out like you were some missionaries helping us win a war and rebuild our countries. No, your treasury was running a tab the whole time and held the debt over us for nearly 60 years.

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  • 245. At 5:51pm on 27 Oct 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    #241 I tried reading the article and bio, truly I did, but it seemed so......boring and arrogant and nationalistic - much more fun to just address Mr. Mardell's blurb, then give a link to a great example of some international pop culture here

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xjPODksI08


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  • 246. At 6:05pm on 27 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #207 Quakeboy2

    I tend to agree, but feel that the US should also deal with it's problems at home as well. The UK might not produce all it's own food but the US has to import nearly 80% of it's energy and pro rata Americans use something like 150% more energy per person per annum than Brits.

    I actually don't think you need to grow up, but I think you do need to stop over consuming. All nations have problems and they should all try to sort them out.

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  • 247. At 6:12pm on 27 Oct 2009, Philly-Mom wrote:

    183 T1m0thy wrote:
    Oh and Philly_Mom what is a Basque Bar Mitzvah please?

    219.john-In-Dublin wrote:
    Presumably it's Jewish Rite of Passage ceremony, where the ladies don exotic underwear..."

    228. RomeStu wrote:
    Sounds great.... but does this means that the Basque Seperatists wish to seperate these women from their exotic underwear .... ooooh Rabbi, stop it!

    ...............

    Sorry to disappoint, gentlemen. Apparently, the Jewish members of Basque were subjected to ethnic cleansing some while ago. Therefore finding such a greeting card would be as rare as Armenian string-cheese in Istanbul.

    Of course, since there are more Armenians in Los Angeles County than there are in Armenia - I would recommend North Pasadena for yummy string cheese.

    BTW - I'm afraid that the Bar Mitzvah actually involves the young man demonstrating the use of his pointer -- but only in the biblical sense.

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  • 248. At 6:19pm on 27 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #237 MagicKirin
    "I listen and watch the BBC for their reports outside the U.S. I find that their reports on the U.S are more one sided than most of the world."

    Magic what exactly does that mean. Does it mean

    a, That the BBC's reports on the US are more one sided than their reports on other countries?

    b. That reports on other countries media about the US are less one sided than those on the BBC?

    Elucidate please


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  • 249. At 6:20pm on 27 Oct 2009, turningblueandgrey wrote:

    Kurth is an interesting fellow and must have what it takes to survive as a resident conservative at Swarthmore College (which has been rated America's #1 liberal arts school, has a good engineering program as well, and is a green and socially conscious institution in what has been a liberal and tolerant borough for generations).

    His "Coming to Order" article is still topical for the Afghanistan decisions...

    I read the subtext of most of these 'where are we going' commentaries as a caution against short term thinking in business, and in personal goals like education, as the factor working against our continued success.

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  • 250. At 6:20pm on 27 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #244 db

    "One thing I've noticed though about most Americans is that they have an extreme paranoia regarding their government. This is where I feel they need to grow up and stop acting like children."

    Sounds just like the Europhobes back in the good old UK.

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  • 251. At 6:26pm on 27 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    Timothy (#146) " ... the US has to import nearly 80% of it's energy ... "

    Not true. The US imports one-third of its energy, and exports seven per cent. Here is a link to the chard from the US Department of Energy:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/diagram1.html

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  • 252. At 6:31pm on 27 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    That reference should have been #246, of course.

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  • 253. At 6:31pm on 27 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #247 Philly-Mom

    Totally off topic with apologies. There is a strong link between the Basque people and the Jews. In the late 1500's when the Spanish were seriously into their Inquisition phase some Jews then based in and around Valencia decided that for safety's sake they would be better off somewhere else and headed over the Pyrenees. Their first port of call was the ancient city of Bayonne. These Jews had the secret of making chocolate and the Basque seamen of Bayonne were only too pleased when told of where to get cocao to go and get it. Chocolate making started in Bayonne and has never left there. And so the Basque Jews were making chocolates in Bayonne 250 years before Belgium was even thought of.
    End of history lesson.
    Enjoy

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  • 254. At 6:35pm on 27 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #251 GH1618
    Sorry I am corrected I misread something, but my other point about consumption stands.

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  • 255. At 6:52pm on 27 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    T1m0thy (#254), yes, but it not so simple as to merely compare energy consumption per capita and draw conclusions from that. One of the biggest consumers of energy world-wide, for example, is the production of alumin(i)um from ore. The UK produces very little; Canada, and to a lesser extent the US, produce a great deal and export the refined product. It makes sense to refine ores where the ores are found or where the energy to refine them is cheap, preferably both.

    The country with the lowest energy consumption per capita is, as I recall, Chad.

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  • 256. At 7:05pm on 27 Oct 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    228 RomeStu wrote:

    "Sounds great.... but does this means that the Basque Seperatists wish to seperate these women from their exotic underwear .... ooooh Rabbi, stop it!"

    Nice to see that the spirit of Sam lives on...

    ;-)

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  • 257. At 7:07pm on 27 Oct 2009, Maria Ashot wrote:

    A highly healthy sign is the development that iceland shall now be a McDonalds' free zone.

    i take great comfort in this. it shows the right direction to go in.

    Don't get me wrong: where America actually does something better than anyone else -- as in the Apple company or its affiliate Pixar (i am thinking "Wall-E") -- that creates an excellent standard for competition and advances for everyone.

    But where America has a really bad idea -- junk food, junk programming, junk banking, junk policy, poor teaching, a decay in family interaction or in Culture per se -- the world is right to say: not one step further, thanks very much.

    And you can hold that ketchup, too.

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  • 258. At 7:11pm on 27 Oct 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    Blinking Heck, Interestedforeigner re post 233,
    I`d go north for a while if I was you!.You should be ok up there, but if
    she gets you first,I bags your ski-doo..

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  • 259. At 7:29pm on 27 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    RomeStu,
    This thread is all about America. I have no way, except the news [usual suspects] to find out what Alaskans really think about their former governor and GOP VP candidate, Sarah Palin. Since you mentioned an authentic connection with that state, would you please consider enlightening us about how the soccer mom who shoots moose from a flying machine is really viewed way up there? This would be especially interesting as you have both inside and outside views to call upon.

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  • 260. At 7:29pm on 27 Oct 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 222 fluffytale wrote:

    "so grammar troll,if you like but it proves nothing about anything to do with reasoning."

    Fluffyjack, this seems to be rather a recurring theme of yours.

    Obviously the odd typo will slip into everyone's posting, and obviously some people are better at spelling and punctuation than others.

    I certainly don't point out every such error I spot. I do tend to if replying to MagicKirin because [a] it's easy - they're hard to miss, and he often manages them at a rate of about one a sentence, if not more. [Of course, I didn't realise that the Mods were inserting these errors - clearly they are terrorist sympathisers ;-)] [b] I enjoy it and [c] I think it's merited, since so many of his postings are little more than prejudice and snidery, generally with very little evidence. [Ironically enough, one of the many groups he has a beef with seems to be academics...]

    Having said that, to my mind, making some attempt at correct grammar, spelling and punctuation - using paragraphs [with spaces between them], commas, full stops, capital letters etc - is a courtesy to the reader, and makes a posting easier to read. So if people don't bother with them, I tend to skip over their postings.

    To use an analogy - if I am talking to someone with a strong accent, or a stutter or some other speech defect, I would expect to make the effort to understand them. OTOH, if someone attempts to talk to me while eating, with their mouth full of food, but wide open, spraying crumbs as they go - I'm likely to give them a miss, regardless of how scintillating they may think themself...

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  • 261. At 7:33pm on 27 Oct 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 232 seanspa wrote:

    "I too have sympathy for mk. The mods pick on me as well, changing my brilliantly written posts so that they appear here as a load of carp."

    For Cod's hake, Seanspa, are you seriously suggesting that salmon in the BBC is altering your postings?

    Sounds distinctly fishy to me....

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  • 262. At 7:35pm on 27 Oct 2009, brasileirocanuck wrote:

    I have been to 12 out of the 35 countries in America. Only one refers to the USA as America. If you want to do an America blog, please include some of the other 34. Thanks.

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  • 263. At 7:36pm on 27 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    The McDonald's franchise in Iceland closed for purely economic reasons, not because of any change of thinking about health or such:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/27/mcdonalds-to-quit-iceland

    It's a mystery to me why McDonald's is established in most European countries. Is it so American tourists have something familiar when they tire of the local fare? (I observed this phenomenon on a European trip.)

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  • 264. At 7:49pm on 27 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #255 GH1618

    It no doubt is Chad poor souls, but your point seems to be an exercise in misdirection. I wasn't talking about Canada and I think that the US predilection for SUV's and other energy hungry toys has a lot more to do with high consumption than the production of Aluminium.
    For instance in a lot of towns/cities in California a state with very high levels of natural sunlight it is breach of city ordinances to hang washing outside to dry. You have to use energy hungry electric or gas dryers.

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  • 265. At 7:51pm on 27 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    brasileirocanuck (#262), "America" is commonly understood in the English language to mean the United States of America, as well as to the Western Hemishpere generally:

    http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/american?view=uk

    The meaning intended by "Mardell's America" is perfectly clear, particularly as he explains it further as "Political analysis and a British perspective on life in the US."

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  • 266. At 8:04pm on 27 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    223. At 2:28pm on 27 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:
    “Someone mentions "more intelligentsia crap"

    That is what I see in the case of the business owner in new mexico that is making his staff change their name to an anglicised name, and only speak English in his presence( worried the staff are calling him bad names probably).
    ANy claim that this is not racist is really trying to put some academic debate into what is a simple call.” [sic]

    Surely you aren’t serious. Your illogical statement indicates that English speakers are a race, non-English speakers are a race, and that expecting employees to speak English is racist.
    FYI, the US has no official language, no one is required [legally] to read/write/speak English, and many official actions like getting a driver’s license can be done in a variety of languages.

    Sometimes employers require their employees to speak the language of their customers. How weirdly PC to expect English speaking customers to deal with clerks who only speak Spanish, for example, in an English dominant country. As to names, expecting non-speakers of, for example, Slavic [no vowels] or Thai [mind boggling] to read or use those names is both unrealistic and could drive away paying customers.

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  • 267. At 8:11pm on 27 Oct 2009, cknight84 wrote:

    You make a good point. I definitely agree that many American’s perceptions of the British are based on TV shows. It’s a condescending stereotype to say the least (dry humoured and a feeling of grand intelligence to name a few), but at the same time most think of the UK as our closest ally and the most similar culture to ours. I’m sure both sides understand these stereotypes are vast exaggerations at the very least, but they still exist and aren’t helpful.

    The difference is, as you pointed out, we are not entrenched in European culture to anywhere near the degree it seemed (to me) many European cultures are entrenched in American pop culture. Before travelling abroad, I had assumed the predominate “stars” in any given country would be that of their own country… it just seemed a little odd to me.

    As many love to point out (and I find it hard to disagree) most American’s know little about the rest of the world’s culture, politics, etc. This seems partly based on the relative feeling of security in America. Not many American’s are truly concerned about war coming to our town, and the past decades of financial security made us care even less. Many don’t care about the world if it doesn’t affect them directly. Obviously, this is the wrong attitude to have but I understand how people get to that point. Needless to say, there are still millions of well read intelligent people here as well.

    I think this ethnocentric view is passing with new generations b/c of America’s declining power in the world, the ease of worldwide communication, and the tanking economy, among other things. Most young American’s I know dream of, or have already travelled to Europe. Think if the USA was next door to European countries. We’d be much more aware of their cultures and how their politics affect us. On a side note, the US is huge in it’s own right, and our children are taught the 50 states and their capitals before learning of anything outside the states.

    So no, we don’t all know who your “president” is. Partly because he’s so boring in comparison w/Obama, IMO. Tony Blaire was known pretty well in the states b/c he seemed a little more relatable, regardless of his policies.

    Sorry for turning this into a W.Europe vs USA blog, but the comments seemed to be heading that way, and I’m interested to hear a different perspective to my views.

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  • 268. At 8:12pm on 27 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    T1m0thy (#264), no doubt there is a lot more involved than production of aluminum and other refined products. A big factor is the size, and relatively low density, of the the US, and consequent inefficiencies of transportation.

    We in the US are trying to do better. Driving distance per capita has been reduced in recent years, for example. Similarly, efficiency of electic devices has been improving. I have a medium-size SUV, and its fuel economy is not much different than that of many ordinary automobiles with similar (V6) engines. I'm not going to get rid of it for awhile. If I did, the total energy equation would have to include the energy cost of scrapping the old one and building a new one. We are seeing more and more of the tiny urban "smart" cars, but there is no way I would have one as my only vehicle.

    I happen to have an energy-efficient European "clothes processor," but unfortunately the "dry" cycle doesn't work particularly well. Fortunately, in California, the humidity is generally low enough that clothes will air-dry indoors without sunlight, which is how we routinely do it.

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  • 269. At 8:20pm on 27 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    244. At 5:30pm on 27 Oct 2009, db wrote:
    “…One thing I've noticed though about most Americans is that they have an extreme paranoia regarding their government…. The main quip I have is that any slightly socialist ideal is condemned as if it will drag the country into a communist state. The main topic at the moment being health care. Coming from Europe I just don't understand the wide spread opposition to universal health care.”

    Very astute, and I will try to answer. Our country was founded on distrust of government interference with the citizens’ lives. This was not limited to British central or colonial governments. The Civil war was very large and costly, and southerners are the most paranoid and anti-government of Americans. Americans tend to be religious; and it is said that atheists are the least trusted minority. Therefore it isn’t surprising that “Godless Socialism or Godless Communism” arouses suspicion. This relic of the Cold War persists.

    You are right about this. All of these prejudices are used by the healthcare, insurance and pharmaceuticals industries to befuddle the people. I really hate the commercials that state, “You wouldn’t want your healthcare controlled by an uncaring bureaucrat in Washington, would you?” or the like. Those companies have the deep pockets to fund so much propaganda that it isn’t surprising that the people who most need change are dead set against it.

    @242. At 5:22pm on 27 Oct 2009, Pennsylvania_Farmer wrote:
    “Fluff, in the form of stupid TV, silly news or french fries, sells.”
    [If you don’t like jokes or puns, stop reading now.]
    Fluff is one of Massachusetts most popular food products. Some people think it should be used alone, but others swear by Fluff in their peanut butter sandwiches. Yes, Fluff sells, it’s sugary and you all know how Americans like sugary things.

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  • 270. At 8:20pm on 27 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    A reply to 259 McJakome

    I'm afraid my analysis of the whole Sarah Palin thing in Alaska and later the wider USA is tainted by a deep aversion to religious fundamentalists.

    However my inside Alaska contacts (who, for the record, were not supporters) tell me that state politics is a very small pond up there - big state, not many people ... some strange people crop up. And add to that the powerfully partisan spirit that often grows stronger in smaller more isolated communities, and you can see how it happened.

    Plus remember that a very large number of Americans believe exactly what she believes - it just seems odd to Europeans who generally prefer that religion is kept out of politics (or at least well hidden) - look at the grief Blair got when he "came out" as a Christian .... in a Church of England country!

    Hope that sheds some light - what do you think about it all?

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  • 271. At 8:20pm on 27 Oct 2009, DixieNana wrote:

    Ref. 262 There is only country in the Americas with America in its name. When the others add that word to their country name, perhaps they too might be referred to as America No. 2, 3 or whatever. Grow up yourself! Everyone knows we ARE America.

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  • 272. At 8:27pm on 27 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    263 GH
    "It's a mystery to me why McDonald's is established in most European countries."


    It's just business and capitalism .... big international corporation franchises its product around the world and lots of people buy it.

    I remember the first McDs in Britain - near Victoria station - in 1977 (I think - I seem to remember seeing Star Wars and having a mc burger for the first time as linked events - I was 9!). People went mad for it, and it spread like wildfire.

    Remember that back then British food was not the greatest and this new fancy American thing was just what we didn't know we wanted.

    It was supply driven , not demand driven .... a bit like reality TV really - before it happened no one knew they wanted it, now we can't get rid of it!

    Incidentally, despite all the media coverage of occasional protests, it is France that is the most profitable European country for McDonalds. Work that one out .... but at least they serve beer at French McDs.

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  • 273. At 8:30pm on 27 Oct 2009, Maria Ashot wrote:

    Recommend two articles on the internet currently shedding some light on the problem of excessively high comfort with America's exploitative sexual obsessions, one from the perspective of the American elite, the other from the perspective of Americans marginalised by poverty:

    The first is the Vanity Fair article about David Letterman's rather typical (for Hollywood) sexual exploitation of female staffers, and the generally exploitative, unprofessional, sexually charged and skewed work environments that even such prominent American women as Barbara Walters defend. (Hmmm, what are you implying, Ms. Walters?)

    The second is an excellent two-part report in the New York Times about runaway teens who are driven into prostitution for survival -- and that directly ties in to my prior excoriation of the porn promoters and smut peddlers.

    We really can and must do better as a 21st century community. Certainly America has no right going around criticising other societies unless it can protect its own women and children better. What exactly are we modeling here?

    Balancing against that we have the notable recent successes of the FBi and other law enforcement agencies, including many in Europe, in bringing to justice those who prostitute, enslave and exploit children, minors and the desperately naive.

    Obviously, more can & must be done. Since the people hellbent on prosecuting file-sharing have people like Carla Bruni speaking out against such "abuses" -- and have demonstrated a capacity to track down individual users of file-sharing sites -- it obviously is extremely easy to go after those who promote and disseminate obscene content, especially to minors or exploiting minors...

    Perhaps Ms. Bruni, Ms. Allen and some of the others who have gone on the record as upset with file-sharers will speak out as forcefully against the exploitation of young people & women by pornographers?

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  • 274. At 8:42pm on 27 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    267 cknight
    "I had assumed the predominate “stars” in any given country would be that of their own country… it just seemed a little odd to me."


    France has laws on radio broadcasting that mandate a certain amount of French songs per hour to stop the big international tunes killing local talent.

    Italy however has a thriving domestic music scene - there's even Italian rap - but it doesn't get much further than Meditteranean Europe.

    When I was growing up in England in the 70s & 80s there was almost no music on the radio that was not English-language (ok Debbie Harry sang in French a few times, and Kraftwerk had a few hits but you know what I mean).
    When I moved to Italy my friends are amazed that I don't know some classic Spanish, French, German or Italian dance anthem (ok Europop if you like) from the long hot summers of the 80s.

    This is not a complaint against US music (and also film), but given the money the US record labels and film studios have, the local talent can barely compete .... and the locals here want both.

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  • 275. At 9:00pm on 27 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    270. At 8:20pm on 27 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:
    A reply to 259 McJakome
    “Hope that sheds some light - what do you think about it all?”

    Born in Boston, MA, and writing from a suburb of the “most European, or British” city in the US, my opinion of the “Wicked Witch of Wasilla” [no offence intended to Wiccans it’s a movie reference] is predictably negative.

    Your opinion, “a deep aversion to religious fundamentalists” is not too different from majority opinion in the US Northeast. To which you could add aversion to religious involvement in government. Perhaps, having had the Puritans a couple of centuries ago, we know where that leads and aren’t having any.

    This is one of the odd contradictions mentioned a number of times above. Most Americans are religious to some degree, and a majority much more so than most Europeans. Yet the country is divided on that issue. Most think some sort of religious identity is essential to civil society and proper civic behaviour, while a bare majority is of the opinion that separation of church and state is essential.

    I have referred to Sarah Palin as John McCain’s “poison pill strategy.” It looks like she is the candidate with which to destroy the Republican Party from within by making it captive to a very narrow regional and religious base. As to shooting moose from the air, how unsporting can you get! Does she cheat in soccer playing too?

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  • 276. At 9:14pm on 27 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Time for a new string Mark.

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  • 277. At 9:26pm on 27 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    The Stars and Stripes Forever is not just a song, it appears to be a fact of life. That fact is one Europe detests and always has from the day America invented itself. There is no other society or place on earth that has nearly as much going for it. It is in a state of perpetual renewal like no other place, drawing the most ambitious and energetic people from every nation on earth including its remotest corners like a magnet. Its current problems are insignificant compared to what it has been through in the past. Much much worse many times before when it looked like it was doomed. But each time it has faced seemingly impossible adversity it has come back even stronger. Every other nation, every group of nations has at least one and often many defects that are certain to be fatal to its future, China and Europe as much as any of them. It was over 100 years ago that John D. Rockerfeller said that anyone who bet against America would go broke. He was right then, he would be equally right saying it now. For all its seeming problems, never has America's future looked brighter. It is sitting on top of the world with nobody in a position to knock it off the summit. America young and adolescent needing to grow up? No Europe is old and tired looking desperately for a new identity to help it hang on to the last shreds of illusions about its worth. That is also doomed to fail.

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  • 278. At 9:26pm on 27 Oct 2009, magnaElizabeth4 wrote:

    Idealism. I dont really know if Americans understand why other cultures are more interesting than theirs. Sure they want to travel to other parts of the world and experience other things but why leave so soon? There should efforts to better their own country and explore what it has to offer. The 51 states, national monuments, National Parks?? However there is a negative stereotype surrounding American culture one that boasts of fast food, television? the constant need for control , beligerence. If America would like to remain a world leader and have a respected voice in the international community there has to be some kind display.

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  • 279. At 9:43pm on 27 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    magmacartaBeth4;

    You seem to know a lot about America. Maybe more than I do. Could you enlighten me as to which is America's 51st state? I seemed to have missed that news somewhere along the way. Nope, not Puerto Rico...nor Washington DC. Try again.

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  • 280. At 9:55pm on 27 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    MAII (#279), that was obviously an innocent error. There's no reason to be snotty about it.

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  • 281. At 9:56pm on 27 Oct 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    #277 - Yes, and it was a hundred years ago exactly when The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded, commemorating the 100th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's birth.

    279 - Why, its Grace, of course! Oh, wait a second, maybe it was Panic...


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  • 282. At 9:57pm on 27 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    279 Marcus
    "Could you enlighten me as to which is America's 51st state?"


    I thought it was the "State of Fear" engendered by Bush, Cheney, Rove et al in order to justify their belligerent foreign policy and the Patriot Act at home.


    Wooop Wooop Wooop We are now at Code Orange. Please return to your homes.

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  • 283. At 10:08pm on 27 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #272 RomeStu

    Very good, but in France it's McDo's not McD's and they serve wine as well. When they opened EuroDisney there was great puzzlement within the management team as to why the French although visiting were not eating until someone pointed out that maybe Disney sans alcool worked in the US but no chance in La France. Vive la difference it would be so boring if everywhere was the same.

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  • 284. At 10:15pm on 27 Oct 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #277 MAII

    "Much much worse many times before when it looked like it was doomed. But each time it has faced seemingly impossible adversity it has come back even stronger."

    Marcus what are you on today??? Seemingly impossible adversity!!! The US has never known such a thing, you may have had some hard times, no doubt, but compared to many other places in this world you live in a land of milk and honey.

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  • 285. At 10:24pm on 27 Oct 2009, pablocruise08 wrote:

    Tweaky take on Americana, but misses the boat. Proves any writer can angle an idea or argument and drive it to ridiculous distances. Any system created by man, including America or any other group or nation can and has been viewed skeptically. Some systems do have a better track record depending on your measuring stick, and all have fault.
    America is going through so so much more than his thin munchie-consumption prism.
    Let's take it away from people, let robots/ computers lead, and THEN see if the human being is satisfied. Not likely.

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  • 286. At 10:28pm on 27 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    #270 Stu

    Plus remember that a very large number of Americans believe exactly what she [Palin] believes - it just seems odd to Europeans who generally prefer that religion is kept out of politics (or at least well hidden) - look at the grief Blair got when he "came out" as a Christian .... in a Church of England country!

    Ha ha. But it was worse than that RomeStu - he 'came out' as a catholic!! Mind you though, the Anglicans and Catholics seem to be kissing and making up at the mo.

    I hope Blair has confessed about his sin wanting to be European President. Unforgivable! At least he's not one of those Humanists.
    ;-)

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  • 287. At 10:30pm on 27 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #272

    In an International Marketing class we did a study on McDonalds. They spend a great deal of time analyzing their markets and modifying product to the culture.

    Now as a visitor I would never visit mcD or Starbucks in France but by the same token, that oaf farmer who breaks windows should not be held in esteem either.

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  • 288. At 10:47pm on 27 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    #277 Marcus

    The Stars and Stripes Forever is not just a song, it appears to be a fact of life.

    I checked it on wikipedia Marcus and it's definitely a song, and a marching song at that. Is marching a fact of life you Marcus? You right whingers like marching - especially with your shiny black boots on.

    It didn't say anything about it being a fact of life though. Ironically, wiki says it was written in Europe. It's a funny old world!

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  • 289. At 10:55pm on 27 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    288.: LOL.

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  • 290. At 10:58pm on 27 Oct 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #272. RomeStu: "this new fancy American thing was just what we didn't know we wanted."

    Before McDonalds became established in Britain, there were America-style Wimpy (A Meal in a Bun) Bars throughout the UK - the Wimpy originating in Chicago. The then-huge catering company, J. C. Lyons & Co, had introduced these immediately after WWII (having planned to do so in the late 1930s) and in London several were on the sites which encompassed the Corner Houses. Not to be outdone, their rivals, the Forte Group, also served hamburgers, notably in what is now the Criterion Restaurant in Piccadilly Circus. The difference was that by 1977, McDonalds had developed the "California burger" which, as in California generally, was served with lettuce, tomato and "secret sauce". Others, such as New York's 'White Tower' chain, simply provided a cooked hamburger in a bun, with no additions. The coming of McDonalds to Britain was nothing new, it was simply an improvement on what had been available before.

    #273. maria-ashot: "The first is the Vanity Fair article about David Letterman's rather typical (for Hollywood) sexual exploitation of female staffers"

    David Letterman works and produces his programme in New York. What proof do you have that his behaviour extends to the West Coast?

    You seem very hung up about sex; erotic or "pornographic" images have existed for thousands of years and no civilisation has "fallen" because of them. Considering the act necessary to produce them, I'm surprised to read that you actually have two children.

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  • 291. At 11:31pm on 27 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    273. At 8:30pm on 27 Oct 2009, maria-ashot wrote:

    Recommend two articles on the internet currently shedding some light on the problem of excessively high comfort with America's exploitative sexual obsessions, one from the perspective of the American elite, the other from the perspective of Americans marginalised by poverty:

    The first is the Vanity Fair article about David Letterman's rather typical (for Hollywood) sexual exploitation of female staffers, and the generally exploitative, unprofessional, sexually charged and skewed work environments that even such prominent American women as Barbara Walters defend. (Hmmm, what are you implying, Ms. Walters?)

    The second is an excellent two-part report in the New York Times about runaway teens who are driven into prostitution for survival -- and that directly ties in to my prior excoriation of the porn promoters and smut peddlers.

    __________

    No. Not so much.

    You are trying to conflate two things that have nothing to do with each other.

    David Letterman did not break any laws. He did not engage in exploitative or coercive or manipulative behaviour. It is not unknown for men like to having sex. The women agreed. There is no suggestion that it was not consensual. The only thing he has done than many people consider "wrong", is that he appears not to have been forthright with his wife, which is another, entirely private matter. Surely that is their business, and nobody else's.

    It has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with prostitution, pornography, or "smut", as you put it.

    As a former Minister of Justice once said so famously "The government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation." And, with respect, other than your own, neither do you.

    --------

    In many countries it is not against the law, per se, to sell sex, nor is it good public policy,a good use of police effort, or a good use of taxpayer's money to try and outlaw prostitution for its own sake. Trying to stop men paying for sex or women selling sex is a fool's errand, and it has been for as long as there have been men and women.

    It is, however, against the law to traffic in human beings, to live off the avails of prostitution, to coerce people into prostitution, to have sex with minors, to forcible confine, or effectively to enslave others.

    Again, the evils of coerced prostitution are not the same as what you call "pornography" or "smut", per se, although the same kinds of exploitative people may often be found in both activities. The issue is about unequal, manipulative and often violent relationships or behaviour, forcible confinement, and so on. These are things that the police can, and do, address - as they should - just the same as other unequal, manipulative, and violent behaviour.

    It is not sex or "pornography" that makes this behaviour wrong, it is the unequal, manipulative and violent behaviour that is often found with it. And, rightly, that is where the police now focus their effort. Not before time, either.

    The problem that needs to be addressed is the underlying violence in our society.

    In the meantime, do us all a favor and stop being Mrs. Kravitz.

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  • 292. At 11:48pm on 27 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    284. At 10:15pm on 27 Oct 2009, T1m0thy wrote:
    #277 MAII
    “…Marcus what are you on today??? Seemingly impossible adversity!!! The US has never known such a thing [like it was doomed], you may have had some hard times, no doubt, but compared to many other places in this world you live in a land of milk and honey. …”

    Please check pictures of what Atlanta looked like during a Civil War that killed more Americans than all other wars combined, and pictures and articles about the Great Depression. Others may have had it worse, but you seem to think we had a picnic.

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  • 293. At 11:50pm on 27 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    261. At 7:33pm on 27 Oct 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 232 seanspa wrote:

    "I too have sympathy for mk. The mods pick on me as well, changing my brilliantly written posts so that they appear here as a load of carp."

    For Cod's hake, Seanspa, are you seriously suggesting that salmon in the BBC is altering your postings?

    Sounds distinctly fishy to me....

    ________

    Best post in ages. At least it isn't kippers.

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  • 294. At 00:03am on 28 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Stewed in Rome;

    "I thought it was the "State of Fear" engendered by Bush, Cheney, Rove..."

    Actually it was a state of rage engendered by the attacks on 9-11. Our most advanced society's influence on certain backwards portions of the world have so angered people who want to keep it backwards that some of them have made it plain that our society cannot remain as open as it was so long as they and their kind exist. And so our society will be tighter and more closed, more restrictive until they are eliminated and we feel safe again. That has also happened before, as with internment of Japanese Americans during WWII for which no apology ever should have been offered. Nor should one for GITMO which has served America very well revealing lots of planned attacks before they could be carried out.

    T-mouth;

    "compared to many other places in this world you live in a land of milk and honey."

    Finally you said something I agree with. That is true even when compared to the EU when taken in totality and on an objective basis. According to the conclusion drawn by BBC in its flawed series "America Age of Empire" it is almost certain to stay that way for the indefinite future. The reasons why can only be discerned by a careful study of American history, culture, and society and taken in the broader context of the rest of the world. Few Europeans including evidently just about all BBC employees (except if they have American employees) have not done that. Certainly Justin Webb hadn't.

    deep in the cellar;

    I don't know where The Stars and Stripes Forever was penned but it was written by an American John Phillip Sousa. Perhaps if he wrote it when visiting Europe, the contrast between what he was seeing and his own country inspired him. Whatever it was, I like that tune, especially the part where the brass trombones trumpets and tubas blare, the cymbals crash, and then the piccolo plays. That piccolo part is rather reminiscent of the fife and drum 18th century American marchers in post colonial garb might have played just after they whacked the Brits and kicked them out of what was to become America.

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  • 295. At 01:59am on 28 Oct 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    Oy lighten up, I think Maria-ashot is talking about abuse, incl abuse of children, not healthy sex trade or art. There is no 'pragmatic' about that kind of abuse - which is an issue with the Professor's article...is it idealism, or morality that we need to abandon with our 'adolescence'. And then whose morality or image do we spread....not the wicked witch of Wasilla's per #275

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  • 296. At 02:21am on 28 Oct 2009, David wrote:

    Marcus

    I like John Phillip Sousa every 4 years when they play it during the Olympics while the USA's athletes do their walk in front of thousands of Olympic fans.

    And it is fun.

    Otherwise, I think Aaron Copeland is the best American "classical music"..um ...composer. (I do like music its just that I'm rather limited there)

    There is also that guy who won the Bi-Centennial prize for writing a piece of music about Alioe in Wonderland (its really sensational)

    Does anyone know of this composer? He is American, has won a Pulitzer and his music is about Lewis Csrroll's inspiration...oh I'll look it up on Google.

    But, also, Fluffytale, you have a great sense of humor. The Republican party was in power so long I think THEY think they ARE America

    and now they are just the embarrassing part of us....oh well, they ARE human.

    :)

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  • 297. At 03:53am on 28 Oct 2009, over100usa wrote:


    To grow up and to grow strong, America needs to overhaul its senate and congress. Too many idiots are more interested in lining their own pockets than serving the people. Do you know that they earn more than $150K a year, have their own health care and retirement, and are paid for life even after they leave office?

    Check out this new blog:

    http://idiotsatusadotgov.blogspot.com/

    Or just read this:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 298. At 03:57am on 28 Oct 2009, LIm Kheak Wei wrote:

    This comment is very true.The US like all New Kids On The Block(NKOB) thinks that they are the best in everything and the whole world must emulate them.They try to push down the throats of others from the system of government,finance, religion medicine etc.Look at Iraq,Afghanistan,East Europe,Central Asia,South America and Africa.All these problems are from the this attitude of the US.I am not saying that the values of America are wrong,I am just America needs to grow up and take a second look at others and themselves.Buddhists have a saying,before you point your hand at others,point three fingers at yourself first.This comment was true 2500 years ago and is still true now.

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  • 299. At 04:03am on 28 Oct 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #295. frayedcat: "Oy lighten up, I think Maria-ashot is talking about abuse, incl abuse of children, not healthy sex trade or art."

    She appears to equate every sexual act outside of marriage as perverse and dismisses those who indulge themselves and their partners in consensual fetishistic and supposedly aberrant activity as being mentally ill. To my mind her opinions are rigid, conformist and reactionary. I'd be interested in her views on Proposition 8 and the fight in Maine regarding the same subject - and I've no doubt that she hopes that Roe -v- Wade is overturned. With the exception of child-related abuse - and not just with young females - what one watches in the privacy of one's home is no-one's business but their own. Before she or anyone writes to remark that this is too broad, there are some exceptions of course: snuff films for example, just as murder in the name of a sex game would still be murder. There is a case wending its way through the system concerned with women stomping high heels on helpless kittens; although it is disgusting, it could very well be permitted under the freedom of speech provisions. Unlike the UK, the written Constitution plays a great part in what is or is not permitted to be seen, said or done.

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  • 300. At 04:09am on 28 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    sb

    I have no idea what you are talking about. During the Olympics, they play the national anthems of the participating nations. The Stars and Stripes Forever is not America's national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner is and John Phillip Sousa had nothing to do with it.

    "Marcus

    I like John Phillip Sousa every 4 years when they play it during the Olympics while the USA's athletes do their walk in front of thousands of Olympic fans.

    And it is fun."

    From Wikipedia;

    "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry",[1] a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812."

    "The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men's social club in London. "The Anacreontic Song" (or "To Anacreon in Heaven")"

    You also said;

    "Otherwise, I think Aaron Copeland is the best American "classical music"..um ...composer. (I do like music its just that I'm rather limited there)"

    Well perhaps I know a little bit more about American composers of classical music than you but I agree. Copland captures the sense of America in his music like no other composer IMO. (Not counting his composition El Salon Mexico of course.)

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  • 301. At 06:26am on 28 Oct 2009, creativepuma06 wrote:

    Through the eyes of the world, the U.S. will always be seen as 'young' as the country was formed about 300+ years ago(even though I tell people that my ancestors the Native American had been here years before). Someone who is an adolescent is constantly trying to find their place in the world, rebels, lashes out, and sometimes throws a hissy fit when he/she doesn't get their way.

    As an American, I will say like any other country in the world we certainly do need to change our ways. I don't know if "growing up" is the right term, but I do believe that we as American citizens certainly need to become a bit more aware of issues in our country that have long been ignored---wealth inequality( the top 1% controlling everything), debilitating public education, shipping jobs overseas, and accepting the fact that we are PART of the world and not "the world." I feel the biggest threat facing the US right now is the "dumbing down of America" which possibly has been taking place over the past 30 years. I'm ashamed at this anti-intellectual movement that is taking root in some places. Or maybe that's what those controlling most of the wealth want, so people won't question things. It seems that being seen as "smart" is viewed as being suspicious and being "stupid" is seen as good. This has just been my experience.

    I have many friends from all over the world and have done some traveling out of the US as well. It always interests me when some of the people that I meet from different countries tell me that "I'm a different from most Americans" or they're surprised that I have a world perspective, ie that I am aware of current events in other parts of the world. I get annoyed when people want to think of the U.S. as a monolith. Every state is different. After living in NYC for the past 5 years, I relocated to Los Angeles and the two are VERY different.

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  • 302. At 08:55am on 28 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #298
    They try to push down the throats of others from the system of government,finance, religion medicine etc.Look at Iraq,Afghanistan,East Europe,Central Asia,South America and Africa.All these problems are from the this attitude of the US.
    _____________________________-

    Are you kidding? So if there is a corrupt goverment in Africa,or South America it is the U.S fault. That we donate more to aid than any other nation is a problem. If you look at this hemisphere the most progressive nations have great relationships with the U.S. The dictatorships or ones that engage in class warfare are adversaries.

    They blame the U.S to deflect from their problems and you drink that Kool-Aid

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  • 303. At 10:51am on 28 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    I find it remarkable that people from all over the world but especially from the UK seem to know what America should do to "fix" itself yet they know almost nothing of substance about America. That includes Mark Mardell and Justin Webb. How did we ever get as far as we did without their sage advice? Just dumb luck I guess. Well then the old saying must be true; God looks out for drunks, fools, and the United States of America. And they want to know why we ignore them.

    limpheadway;

    "The US like all New Kids On The Block(NKOB) thinks that they are the best in everything.."

    It only gets in people's craw because it happens to be true. The facts speak for themselves. As for America shoving itself down people's throats, it seems to me that it is the other way around. People all over the world crave to emulate America. We never force them to watch American TV or movies, listen to American music, eat at MacDonalds they just seem to want it. How frustrating that must be for locals who have something else to offer. And how surprising that when given their first chance to vote in anything even remotely resembling free and fair elections, Iraqis and Afghans turned out by the millions even at the risk of their lives to wait on long lines to do it. And that too is frustrating to those who hoped they'd be satisfied with the cruel and brutal dictatorships that had been imposed on them since time forgotten.

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  • 304. At 12:01pm on 28 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    #303 Marcus

    I find it remarkable that people from all over the world but especially from the UK seem to know what America should do to "fix" itself yet they know almost nothing of substance about America. That includes Mark Mardell and Justin Webb.

    Considering that you Marcus always judge the mood in your trailer for the entire US I would put you in the list.

    At least Mark and Justin are (or were) not stuck in a trailer park in New Jersey!! I'd rather have the views from 'inside the beltway' anyday to yours!

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  • 305. At 12:08pm on 28 Oct 2009, D R Murrell wrote:

    Marcus – Did you actually read the article before you jumped in with your angry size 10’s? If I was a betting man I would guess not. The main body of what Mark wrote was either an analysis or direct quote of the professor, really all Mark did was suggest that he found the majority of Americans to be rather conservative and reserved and then ask whether the posters agreed with the professors opinions.

    If you had read the article Mark was commenting on you would have noted that the ‘good’ professor’s opinion of how grand and wonderful the US is matches your own. The idea he is promoting is that the US should maintain its economic and military power but currently this is being undermined by both the Obama Administration and reliance on ‘soft’ power including the media.

    What Mark has successfully (though probably unintentionally) done is managed to get many of those who have similar political and social outlooks to the evangelical conservative Republican professor to get all upset about his ‘attack’ on American culture. Instead of reading the article properly and thinking about you and those posters like you have attacked the messenger, since he is but a lowly European, rather than the message.

    I am glad you think that the professor is wrong, since his views mirror posters like you so very much. It just proves that your views are simply reactionary, that you will view as an attack against the great US of A any potential criticism from an outsider, without considering the merits or basis of that criticism. It displays the chip that sits squarely on your shoulders, how much of you patriotism is bravado that doesn’t hold any real conviction.

    To add to the shocking truths here’s a few more American movies are okay but they are not the greatest in the world. I have seen some French, Japanese, Russian even the odd British film that adds a level of grit that Hollywood has lost. Hollywood films are formulaic and obvious, you can tell the good guys from the bad (normally the bad are the ones with the funny accents) and you know no matter how unrealistic that the good guys will win in the end. Aliens with ultra tech star ships able to cross the gulf of space invade, don’t worry a plucky yank with a lap top will be able to take them out with a computer virus (on 4th July obviously).

    There is good US music, but the problem is quite often the US Plutarchs find them to un-American to be sold. It seems in the Land of the Free you can be free to be a rebel, as long as you don’t rebel too much. The big US corporations also don’t like certain Welsh bands inferring things about their brands, proving that in some cases the corps really do have Just Enough Education to Perform!

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  • 306. At 12:39pm on 28 Oct 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 302, Magic

    "If you look at this hemisphere the most progressive nations have great relationships with the U.S. The dictatorships or ones that engage in class warfare are adversaries."

    In the USA the term "progressive" is often used in political forums to describe liberal Democrats. Is that what you are praising?

    The wealthiest nations in Latin America, and the ones that enjoy the highest standard of living are Brazil, Venezuela, Chile and Argentina. All have socialist leaders and, with the exception of Chile, all have rejected FTAs with the USA and became members of Mercosur instead.

    They all have diplomatic relations with the USA, are important trade partners (Brazil and Venezuela are our most important trade partners in Central and South America) and in spite of all the political rhetoric and overt antagonism they love American movies, cars, and try to emulate our way of life.

    On the issue of growing up, the first thing we must do is make an effort to learn more about other cultures, learn to respect the sovereignty and interests of other countries, learn to respect and accept their political and socio-economic decisions, and realize that the rest of the world is not an evil monster determined to destroy the USA.

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  • 307. At 12:53pm on 28 Oct 2009, HabitualHero wrote:

    I bet that marcus fella spells "grr" with twice as many "r"s as most people. That's how angry he is.

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  • 308. At 1:08pm on 28 Oct 2009, arclightt wrote:

    @305 (DRM): "...American movies are okay but they are not the greatest in the world...Aliens with ultra tech star ships able to cross the gulf of space invade, don’t worry a plucky yank with a lap top will be able to take them out with a computer virus (on 4th July obviously)."

    You certainly chose a howler of an example (Independence Day), didn't you! They didn't even get the telegraph keys correct...no professional would EVER use the unsupported Radio Shack version of a telegraph key depicted in that film. They'd use a Vibroplex or EF Johnson, or similar, firmly anchored to the surface it was used on. They'd also have an audio tone present to monitor sending. Very poor technical consultation. A lot better depiction of aliens attacking the earth was "The War of the Worlds" (1953 with Gene Barry)...even had pretty good special effects for that time.

    Small point: I'd agree with you that a significant amount of the current production from Hollywood is not very high quality today; however, I think it's probably a leap to say that ALL American production is and has been inferior, as your comment suggested.
    Consider "Casablanca", "Gaslight", "Rebecca", "North by Northwest", etc.

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  • 309. At 1:11pm on 28 Oct 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    #299, Oh I see - well can't agree with that kind of oppressive thinking BUT stomping kittens is wrong. Shouldn't be a problem with non-abusive consensual endeavors that don't involve children. "Marriage is for woman the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution." - Bertrand Russell

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  • 310. At 1:27pm on 28 Oct 2009, turningblueandgrey wrote:

    #305, while the good professor is cut from conservative cloth, he did not seem to be completely dyed-in-the-wool. I read some nuggets in his article about the need for innovation and technology with respect to economic power, that don't seem too far off from Obama's education and green energy priorities.

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  • 311. At 1:44pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:


    "So, Britain, what should the USA do when it finds itself on the downward slope of the mountain?"

    enjoy the skiing.

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  • 312. At 1:48pm on 28 Oct 2009, Philly-Mom wrote:

    So I've been pondering this Awkward Adolescence of ours, and I think the concern really seems to be boil down to the role of the USA in the Global Sphere. We have - thus far - been fairly isolationist and obstinately self-righteous. Seems kind of like a moody teen, doesn't it?

    Srsly - if you ask a million American "Average Joes" about International Politic, you'd probably find that we're:

    50% Xenophobic And Proud
    50% Isolationist And Proud
    65% People like me*
    ----------
    *"People like me* constitutes those who realize that White Anglo-Saxon Protestants are actually a minority on this here planet Earth and that it would behoove such persons to respect and learn about other cultures. It is useful to understand Russian, Chinese, African and Indian history. It's useful to understand Eastern Orthodoxy and Buddhist Philosophy, which languages are spoken where, the past 1000 years of military and political history of each continent... these sorts of things. Very useful. Why? Because being a good human is more important to me than being a good "American".
    -- Oh - and if you don't like the math of the above statistics, then you can thank American Public Education.
    -- Or - if you don't like the math of the above statistics, then you aren't paying attention. It's in print. On the internet. There are numbers involved. It MUST be true.
    (Pick your punchline. Whichever strikes your satirical fancy.)

    - - - - - - - - -
    Meanwhile, while I'm being poignantly satirical:

    As we discuss the multifaceted nature of the USA, I'd like to point out the importance of understanding cultural metaphors of American Baseball. Tonight the World Series will begin and we will see the culmination of two great cities fighting for an honored title.

    New York's Wall Street Warriors
    vs.
    Philadelphia's Brotherhood of the Working Class

    I know, I know... all the world loves NY NY, while Philadelphia is the kind of dirty dangerous town that throws beer bottles at Santa. But we're a city with heart. Why, just last spring a young girl was raped on her way to school and the neighborhood folks found the guy and beat him to a pulp. The cops had to pull folks off the guy so they could arrest him. Sure we're high in crime, but it's mostly domestic crime. We care, and we have the scars to prove it.

    Sure, Miss Liberty might stand before Manhattan, but don't forget that the Declaration of Independence was signed here. They might have a bigger harbor, but we are a city of truly rebellious souls.

    Sure, folks talk about living in NY - but who can afford it? Why pay 4500/mo for a two-bedroom apartment in NY when you can rent a similar flat in Philly for 800/mo?

    This may seem like just another baseball series, but it's actually a fight between:
    "Wine and Cheese Democrats"
    (lawyers, movie stars, dodgy-investors, etc.)
    vs.
    "Civil Rights Activist Democrats"
    (social workers, green party-goers, activists of color, etc.)

    I can't wait to see how this plays out. Go Philly.

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  • 313. At 1:57pm on 28 Oct 2009, D R Murrell wrote:

    ArcLight – I agree during the Golden Age of American cinema there were some decent films, there still are though mostly these are the more independent films. In the main though they are formulaic dross, because that what makes easy money. Most people don’t watch films to be stretched mentally, they go to watch big explosions and pretty actors/actresses doing things that they really would like to do. I don’t even dislike the formulaic dross, sometimes I also like turning my brain off for two hours and watching big flashing lights and listening to loud bangs. Also I expect that there is formulaic dross made in most countries, the difference is that other in the American films most foreign films that make international splashes are the quality films, the best that country makes. Each week the rest of the world is subjected to whatever bilge Hollywood releases to make money.

    Bluejay – I did not necessarily disagree with the professor’s ideas, though I did the underlying ideology that formed them. What I did find amusing were certain US posters getting irate because they felt it was an attack on America, especially since most of them would support the ideology. That these posters felt the need to attack what they felt was a European attack, rather than doing the basic research, just goes to show how shaky their hardwired beliefs are.

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  • 314. At 2:01pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    304 lol marcus was such a good reader of the merican people he was convinced that the americans wouldn't vote for Obama.

    His trailer gives a lot of false readings

    arclight

    you mention"independence day" the film
    Interesting choice there is a film that was a direct rip off of waqr of the worlds.
    total plagiarised story. no reference given to the original book by HG
    with American hero (like the earlier version america made) american computer virus instead of the planets own defence.
    An appalling re write with jingoistic americans do all the stuff.
    Like a kids fairy story. and also as it happens like some of the fairy stories that america lives with every day.
    Appropriating someone else's story as their own.
    Not giving credit to the creator.

    taking a nice story with the good message that the planet nurtures us and putting Man as the saviour.

    All of that the same year as the 100 year anniversary of HG well's death.
    Way to pay respect.

    re write and ruin his story.

    DC would understand. Horsell common would have made a brilliant setting for the film's start.
    But no we get americana.
    Me me me



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  • 315. At 2:07pm on 28 Oct 2009, Philly-Mom wrote:

    Oh - and for all those folks posting above (on both sides of the oceans?) who seem to think that America invented the internet, sex, drugs, scandal and general debauchery...

    You really need to study your world history.
    There have been self-centered narcissistic bastards who revel in skin flicks and bad art since the dawn of time. Blaming the USA for the decay of western cultural norms is just silly.

    Information Technology is the means by which people communicate. What people use IT to communicate is up to... people.

    IOW: The intertubes don't make crap, end-users do.


    [Hang in there, Mark. Don't let the turkeys get you down.]

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  • 316. At 2:10pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    240 IF and 237 leo

    to quote shultz" there are 3 things not to talk to others about , politics religion and the great pumpkin"

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  • 317. At 2:12pm on 28 Oct 2009, Philly-Mom wrote:

    253. T1m0thy wrote:

    Thank you T1m0thy. You are a delight. I knew of the story, but knew the story not. I had not the time to research it, and you have filled in my blanks. You are a treasure. I would send you Hershey's Chocolate, milk chocolate for the masses, if I could - for I am grateful.

    Peace.

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  • 318. At 2:31pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    215 well said stu

    Chris 2020

    sorry but you assume that commentators do not know the USA.
    as one of the most ' rabidly anti americans' I will say I do live here.

    That america has consistently thrown the concept of universal health care out the window.
    It is still trying to.

    It is not the bad politicians that we have little choice over that created a health care holiday free country.
    that was the people.


    John in Dublin.
    I know it is fun taking the mickey out of gherky .
    I really do. but the grammar trolling. There was a poster No rash, that was put off for some time by this.
    peoples grasp of the skills of writing have NOTHING to do with their intelligence or ability to understand.

    The use of spell checker does not improve ones intelligence.

    Many people are derided and looked over because they cannot communicate good ideas well.So good Ideas are thrown into the bin for the well presented Idea.
    That John is one of the bigger problems we have in society.

    A well presented Oil field in your back yard wins over a badly presented environmental study showing the destruction that will result.

    Why perpetuate that?

    Gherky makes enough ridiculous comments, enough racist comments to be buried under a mountain of them.
    I just suggest concentrating on the content(and the more amusing mistakes he does make)

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  • 319. At 2:34pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Fishy tales.
    Is Gherkin a mullet ?

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  • 320. At 2:35pm on 28 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    Mark,
    I'm not too sure about the US, but in the UK the right wing seem to be much better when they are not in government. I remember the Tory Lord Hailsham describing British politics as an 'elective dictatorship' in the mid-seventies when Labour were in power. When Thatcher began her 'elective dictatorship' in 1979 he went unsurprisingly silent on the issue and accepted the post of Lord Chancellor.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Professor Kurth will be silent when the Republicans get back in. And indeed he'll probably write an article calling for the rest of the world to grow-up instead! I'm not cynical.

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  • 321. At 2:37pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 322. At 2:51pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    266 MC J

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2009/10/26/2009-10-26_hotel_owner_larry_whitten_charged_as_racist_after_forcing_employees_to_drop_hisp.html

    So he's not a racist then?
    Your comment.That is exactly what I mean by some trying to make this into an "intellectual" argument when the guy is a racist.

    As to the Illogical. that would be your assumption.
    There IS no law mandating English, that is true. But this guy didn't hear that bit.
    Changing names is OK.? That would put him in some great company.
    That nice guy in Romania that bulldozed towns, he liked to get Gypsies to change their names(or just get out).

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  • 323. At 2:56pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Gherkin the world has some pretty strange and horrible drinks but it is only the americans that have "Kool Aid"

    that stuff is great for dying cloths

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  • 324. At 3:13pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Maria. I have to stand up for the basic Idea you write about.
    I'd agree with others that it is not just the USA,.It is an Internet created problem.
    But the US culture is a little strange. I call it the pedophile nation .
    Unfairly, but they do have so many rules on drugs and drink but when it comes to sex they have none.

    DC I agree that is she is trying to equate all this with homosexual life styles that is not fair either, but I did not see her mention that she thought gays were responsible.

    She talks of gang rapes by boys on Girls.
    This is happening.
    Is it a new phenomenon that a Girl here in Coos bay was forced to have sex with a dog while the elders watched and recorded it?

    There is an issue to be discussed here.

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  • 325. At 3:21pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    "There is a case wending its way through the system concerned with women stomping high heels on helpless kittens; although it is disgusting, it could very well be permitted under the freedom of speech provisions. "

    DC I know you are a friend of animals. so do not think I am suggesting otherwise.

    I am pleased you put "could very well" I hope that was in the "if you are crazy as a gherkin"(who I suspect also wouldn't hurt a kitten.)

    but there is no freedom in standing on a Kitten. Speech is the vocalisation and has been extended to words written. but the freedom to abuse animals is in no way constitutionally guaranteed.
    the person should be sent to the same jail or sent around for me to practice my free speech.

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  • 326. At 3:22pm on 28 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    Philly-Mom (#312) "Wine and Cheese Democrats" vs.
    "Civil Rights Activist Democrats"


    Can't I like wine and cheese and be for the Phillies, or must it be beer and cheesesteaks?

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  • 327. At 3:52pm on 28 Oct 2009, Texiyank wrote:

    It does not make sense to lump American ideals and American pop culture into the same category. Paris Hilton or Michael Jackson do not belong in the same breath with ideals of freedom, liberty, "the pursuit of happiness," religious freedom, etc., unless you can say their ability to flaunt their life excesses in public comes from our freedom of the press.
    Americans need to have a better understanding of our context in the world in several ways: a) We ARE European, in the sense that our ideals came from the European Enlightenment. John Locke was a Brit, Jean-Jacques Rousseau a Frenchman. We did not invent the idea of personal freedom and the government's mandate to protect it; we merely institutionalized it via the Constitution and Bill of Rights in a way that had not been done so directly by a government before. b) We need to learn more about what's going on in the rest of the world. Our media, our TV especially, does a lousy job telling us about the other 96% of the world's population. We can't "grow up" as long as we have the self-absorption of a toddler. As an example, people from more than eighty countries were killed in the twin towers on 9/11, yet on our TV channels, the stories about victims and their families were almost all about American citizens. I remember one about an undocumented alien, but that's it. Our media needs to be more responsible about putting us in the context of the larger world, instead of doing infotainment crap on silly, blond 20-somethings making no contribution to the world. c) Americans need to realize that what we do as a country is of interest to the whole world, partly because of our current economic and military power, but also because of our social/political ideals that act as a beacon to those in countries still dominated by tyrannical and corrupt leaders and systems of rule.
    Not only our media are to blame; so is our educational system which teaches us so little about the rest of the world. In my twelve years of elementary through high school education, I had U.S. History in 5th grade and half of 7th, and in 11th grade. We had civics/government in 8th and 12th, which included state government as well as federal. In one semester of 7th grade, we had Latin American history, only because that was that teacher's specialty. In high school, I did not take World History, nor did any of my college-bound classmates, because it was considered a dumb-dumb class for the non-college types. However ironic that is, it shows the lack of value put on learning about the world. Of course, I'm in my 50's so I hope the schools are wiser now but, judging from my fellow citizens complacent ignorance of the rest of the world, I doubt it.
    Americans, Europeans, Asians, and Africans need to keep from confusing pop or soft cultural influences with the Enlightenment ideals the founders put in our political documents--those ideals which still light our steps here and which others wish to have light their steps, with or without the Coke and Big Macs, Starbucks, or Star Wars.

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  • 328. At 4:14pm on 28 Oct 2009, Texiyank wrote:

    Kurth is confusing the obsessions of the infotainment media with the attitudes of "American leaders." Even though there has been a lot of ridiculous rhetoric among the parties here in recent months, it seems to me that the Congresspeople are taking health care, Afghanistan, and the financial meltdown very seriously, even if they haven't come to final conclusions about these things yet. The fact that they are taking their time seems adult, not adolescent, to me.--Texiyank

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  • 329. At 4:19pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    IF Police in oregon spend a fair amount of time out and about trapping Johns.

    They arrest women who sell sex from their own home on Craigs list and those on street corners. Most seem to be consensual adult workers.
    But the police still waste huge effort trapping people and show more concern with the craigs list than the number of sexually abused girls in the community.


    327 Texiyank

    Great post.

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  • 330. At 4:23pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    328 it was the temper tantrums to the press that were the childish bit.
    For a year now the GOP were just bull headed.
    They seem to have noticed that their plan was not working so are adopting the go along with them plan.

    that helps if they do not just agree with those things they can see are going to be a mistake.
    They are feeding some rope back to Obama now to see if they can turn Obama's trick back on Obama.

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  • 331. At 4:23pm on 28 Oct 2009, middlecroony wrote:

    # 28 said it all in my opinion.

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  • 332. At 4:25pm on 28 Oct 2009, Aerosynth wrote:

    >> "Perhaps he's just spotted the difference between the heartland and TV-land."

    Mark, I have lived in the U.S. my entire life... in vastly different regions such as California, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas. One thing I have found--even when I lived in Los Angeles--is the the reality of American society in no way matches what Hollywood portrays. And for me, that's not a problem. Pop culture, media, TV, film and other entertainment are all just that... entertainment.

    If America really were the unified, freethinking and progressive society you see on TV, we would in fact be the unquestioned superpower of the world. But we are not.

    I think that American world dominance in on the verge of implosion for no other reason than sociocultural infighting. The United States is in the grips of a heated social battle that gets worse with each year. There are a lot of reasons for this.

    For one, American society's skittishness at federalizing very simple, commonsense laws has caused so much avoidable drama over the years. Let me put it this way: I grew up in the Midwest, where the attitude toward foreigners and immigrants was (and still is) basically, "If you don't like it here, go back to where you came from." The funny thing is, most people don't realize that Americans have the exact same attitude toward each other. If you don't like the laws toward gays and lesbians in Oklahoma, move to California. If you don't like the gun laws in Massachusetts, move to Texas. If you don't like the culture in this state, move to that other state.

    Anymore, we are not fifty united states... we are a lot like fifty small countries. I think that internal disunity is the primary issue our country needs to address before we can possibly work on regaining any sort of political, military, or cultural dominance in the world.

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  • 333. At 4:40pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8329412.stm

    good to see that some recognise the crime of killing people without trial using these drones (or manned aircraft) as executioners, for people that have never been tried is a crime.
    Hard one in the modern world.
    " It's a war we bomb what the heck is this guy saying?"
    " There are innocent families and people there.and how do you know that they are the right guy?
    What happened to presumtion of innocence.
    Theyy are not attacking when we bomb the wedding.
    The journalist takenn hostage portrays these drones as a constant menace.
    an unseen and silent constant menace.
    That is terrorism. we terrorise the people. They do not know that they are safe from attack because they are innocents in a war torn country but not the target. Because so many went wrong.

    But the basic principle of execution without trial is illegal in both the USA and most other civilised countries.
    yet we engage in it all the time.
    In the west bank Israel gets away with the same, same as Gaza.


    many of the " barrages" of rockets that we do hear about coming from the Palestinians are responses to executions carried out with bombs on houses.
    This is the same for the suicide bombers of the talliban.

    But in our childish ways we say.
    "what not me"
    " why ME"
    If they try to blow up the president then it is fair . we are at war with them. we Execute their people without trial. We terrorise their people with drones, in their country.
    then we complain that they execute people without trials, terrorise people ,and try to blow up the military commanders and don't seem to mind the "collateral" damage


    great hypocrisy.


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  • 334. At 4:44pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    331 thanks for pointing that post out.
    yep it says it so well.
    United we stand was the mantra as the divided the country till it fell.

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  • 335. At 4:52pm on 28 Oct 2009, middlecroony wrote:

    America is turning increasingly narcissistic. If you look up the definition of the disorder it is a condition that even therapy cannot help. Put the blame on someone else, without ever looking in the mirror, and asking the question, 'could some of the problems be my fault?' Seems very adolescent. Fighting every other ideology overseas just makes us feel justified. Don't get me wrong, there is some crazy thinking out there, but is it our job to "save" so many others, while our country is slipping into the mental toilet? Our devide in this country isn't the mason dixon line, n,s,e, or west anymore, it's neighbor to neighbor. I'ts become so bad, that just holding your tougue and choosing your battles is the ultimate daily stress. I'm all for growing up.

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  • 336. At 4:58pm on 28 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    329. fluffy:

    "IF Police in oregon spend a fair amount of time out and about trapping Johns."

    "But the police still waste huge effort trapping people and show more concern with the craigs list than the number of sexually abused girls in the community."

    _________

    Yes, this is true.

    And the Police in Vancouver largely ignored a string of missing persons (i.e., missing women) reports for 20 years even though they had all sorts of tips about the Picton pig farm. The missing women were almost all prostitutes, most were drug addicts, and the majority were young aboriginal women who had drifted to the city. You wonder if the police would have been quite so insouciant if even a single one had been a white, middle class woman.

    Nonetheless, in the major urban centers it is generally far, far better than it used to be. When I was a child prostitutes were arrested the same way speeding drivers are ticketed: so that the police can reach a monthly quota of arrests.

    In those days, if the prostitutes tried to escape from their pimps, the police arrested them, they were tried, sentenced, and then sent right back to the same pimps. If they were illegal aliens, they were deported. So they didn't dare seek help from the Police. There is still a ways to go, but we have come a fair distance since then.

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  • 337. At 5:03pm on 28 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    327. At 3:52pm on 28 Oct 2009, Texiyank wrote:

    "... Our media, our TV especially, does a lousy job telling us about the other 96% of the world's population. ...

    ... As an example, people from more than eighty countries were killed in the twin towers on 9/11, yet on our TV channels, the stories about victims and their families were almost all about American citizens. ...

    ... Our media needs to be more responsible about putting us in the context of the larger world, instead of doing infotainment crap on silly, blond 20-somethings making no contribution to the world. ...


    ... Not only our media are to blame; so is our educational system ..."

    ________


    Yup. And those problems ain't a-gonna be fixed overnight, neither.

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  • 338. At 5:17pm on 28 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    middlecroony (#335) "America is turning increasingly narcissistic. If you look up the definition of the disorder it is a condition that even therapy cannot help."

    You are equating ordinary narcissism, or self-absorbtion, with clinical Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is nonsense. I doubt if you have any qualifications to make psychiatric diagnoses.

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  • 339. At 5:18pm on 28 Oct 2009, Ricter wrote:

    The media gives the attention to the attention seekers, so maybe news organizations and journalists need to "Grow Up". Two weeks of coverage on the "Balloon Boy", Two months of coverage on Michael Jackson. The "news" organizations in the US are rediculous. It's info-tainment. Newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur and investigative journalists and great writers have been replaced with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs and Glen Beck. The news or lack-there-of has a profound affect on society.

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  • 340. At 5:23pm on 28 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    #327 + 328 Texiyank

    Intelligent posts (despite your education) ;-)

    It's a shame not many people in the US learn World History or the World par se. Sometimes one can learn more about one's own country by studying others. People can see what's different and what's the same about other cultures compared to their own.

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  • 341. At 5:35pm on 28 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    #333 Fluffy

    Yes, but unfortunately it's taken about a year for this to be finally realised. I don't know how the US is going to win over the hearts and minds of those in Pakistan by using these drones, by using this new form of terror. Like you said, Israel gets away with murder every time and the US acts no different. And all the while they claim they are acting in self-defence! A sick joke really.

    The US acts like that child Bart Simpson character: I didn't do it!

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  • 342. At 5:58pm on 28 Oct 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 327, Texiyank

    "It does not make sense to lump American ideals and American pop culture into the same category. Paris Hilton or Michael Jackson do not belong in the same breath with ideals of freedom, liberty, "the pursuit of happiness," religious freedom, etc., unless you can say their ability to flaunt their life excesses in public comes from our freedom of the press."

    I couldn't agree with you more, but I believe what you said is precisely the root cause of our problems, and it reflects the loss of direction - and leadership - that currently exists in the USA.

    We are no longer the country of Jefferson, Lincoln. or FDR, and we are certainly not the country that was once willing to sacrifice and do whatever was necessary for the security of our country and the welfare of our society.

    Thinkers and the debate of ideals have been supplanted by political "leaders" whose greatest qualification is the use of soundbites, "macho" men who blame others for dithering after collecting half a dozen college deferments to avoid serving his country, and popular figures, video games, and tabloids whose only purpose is to distract our attention from the problems that surround us and focus our attention on anything that does not result in stress.

    While I agree with much of what professor Kurth said, I think what we are seeing is representative of much more than a reflection of an adolescent society that needs to grow up. It is, in fact, the evolution of a mature society into one dominated by by self-indulgence, a desire to have it all regardless of whether or not we can afford it, declining moral standards and values, a rapidly disappearing yearning to do better and contribute to the well being of our country, complacency, a tendency to feel unfairly denied when we can't have it all, a tendency to blame everyone but ourselves for our problems, and a total disregard for the rights of other people.

    Our current circumstances are not unprecedented and a cursory review of history books would reveal similar cultural declines for the same reasons that currently afflict us. I believe it is not too late to turn things around, the question is do we have the strength and will to do so?


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  • 343. At 6:05pm on 28 Oct 2009, Philly-Mom wrote:

    To 326. GH1618:
    By all means, dear. Of course you may enjoy wine and cheese while cheering for the Phabulous Phillies. Cheesesteak and Beer is merely the stereotypical local cuisine. (An Irish Sports Pub nearby usually has an excellent portobello sandwich and a variety of local brews.)

    "Whine & Cheese Dem.s" is merely the derogatory expression of choice for rich bratty democrats. Well... it is among certain conservatives in these here 'united' states. Not that they'd use the expression on FOX. It would be too obviously partisan to do so.

    Any of you Brits good at FOX hunting? Got any advice we could use on a local pest?

    .................
    BTW: Is our squirrely friend off his meds? Perhaps they're not covered on his medical plan.

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  • 344. At 6:48pm on 28 Oct 2009, faeyth wrote:

    America became a super power by accident.ww2 and Cold war etc...Now we are the only world power,Most Americans don't want or care about being a super power or staying as one.Most citizens are thinking about the US and it's people not the rest of the world.Technology is to make our lives better not to oppress others.Most US don't know or understand the number or costs of military.They think there is just a few bases in Germany and Japan.Now I think young Europeans and Asians and Africans ans South America are wanting to restore their continents and take back the positions they once had in influence and it couldn't come at a better ,most US under 40 want to withdraw and return to being a merchant country as we were before WW1.Besides the rest of the world only looks at us as a giant piggy bank anyway.Let the continents work out their own problems,they don't need us anymore and being a Superpower was only to be a temporary position anyway.Europe is rebuilt and Strong and Rich.America should go back to being the inventive,free,and merchant nation we really are.Right Now we need to take care of our own business not everyone else.

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  • 345. At 7:04pm on 28 Oct 2009, faeyth wrote:

    American culture and American entertainment are not the same thing.I may play a Video Games about Wizards or a first person shooter but I am not a wizard who wears costumes or a armed gunman who shoots people.We shouldn't have to explain who we are the many differences in different places.If the rest of the World is stupid enough to believe we Eat fast food everyday,while on a cell phone and watching t.v. while driving our SUV,s to our giant houses than they are the ignorant ones.We all have a culture and it is different from place to place,People from other countries don't and won't understand that there are different regions,races,religions,economies,climates,and population differences in our country from place to place,or that the entertainment is just entertainment same for us as them.In fact what they keep calling American culture TV,Movies,Video Games are also made in Europe and Canada and Asia,as well.In fact Video Games are made everywhere,but are always considered only American or Japanese which is totally inaccurate.

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  • 346. At 7:22pm on 28 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    Who appointed faeyeth spokesman for "Most Americans"?

    The United States may well have become the sole superpower somewhat by accident at the end of WWII, but it has maintained that status by choice. The attack on Pearl Harbor was an embarassment to a country that thought it was too strong and too isolated geographically to be attacked, and it was a wake-up call to be more vigilant and prepared to fight in the future.

    We have maintained a position of military strength since WWII by choice, and many of us who oppose the misuse of military power are nevertheless unwilling to give it up.

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  • 347. At 7:26pm on 28 Oct 2009, matt_wa wrote:

    Saying America is "adolescent" is kind of like saying Britain is "stuck up." Both are inaccurate, ignorant, and "adolescent" statements within themselves. There are 300 million people in the US, maybe the world should stop watching CNN which is targeted toward an audience with a 5 year old mentality.

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  • 348. At 8:42pm on 28 Oct 2009, CamberwellBeauty wrote:

    #347 matt-wa

    The most sensible statement yet! Thank you!

    The stupid stereotypical ideas from BOTH sides of the Atlantic reflects that there needs to be some growing up from a lot of these posters on said sides.
    The "serial posters" are just at one another constantly and civil discourse goes the way of the dinosaur, and it just becomes a slagging match.
    There are some posters that I do seek out for their really helpful/insightful posts there are those I dread seeing to be honest.

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  • 349. At 9:03pm on 28 Oct 2009, Philly-Mom wrote:

    To: 347. matt_wa
    Ding. Give our dear Matt a prize. I heartily concur.

    .....
    There seems to be an odd thread above about how to sell sex in the city. A funny story about that:

    Apparently, women do not stand on corners in silly costumes like they did back-in-the-day. Now, they can advertise online. I discovered this shortly after moving to a dodgy block in Philly and trying to get rid of some stray kittens a friend had found.

    Apparently, "Free Kittens" is text that is banned from Philly Craigslist... as is dealing in any kind of "pets". So, idiot me painted "Free Kittens" on a box and sat in front of my home... and received many honks and cat-calls. It was a little embarrassing. Now I know better. Next time I should wear hot-pants. I'd get rid of the little critters much more quickly.

    BTW - this proves my earlier point:

    Depravity, much like the 'oldest profession on earth,' was not invented by America. Sorry. Information Technology is a thing, a means, a tool... and what people do with it is the responsibility of the person.

    Come now - banning handguns makes sense, but banning the internet is silly. It probably saves more lives than it kills. Probably.

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  • 350. At 9:05pm on 28 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    322. At 2:51pm on 28 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:
    266 MC J
    “So he's not a racist then?
    Your comment.That is exactly what I mean by some trying to make this into an "intellectual" argument when the guy is a racist. As to the Illogical. that would be your assumption.”

    Thanks for the link. It may have been too “intellectual” to make assumptions without having read the [still second hand] report. The hotelier does come off as unenlightened, not respectful of the employees and not PC.

    Having said that, I didn’t read anything that PROVES racism. He is not reported to have used any of the possible slurs on the employees’ heritage [I presume you know them, and I would never write or say them].

    He seems to have indicated that his decision was made for business reasons, which I clearly anticipated in my previous reply to you. No, I do not believe business reasons justify racism or any other crime against humanity. But in the Northeast, the employees' attitude might have been considered disrespectful. I had a taxi dispatcher hang up on me because he didn't understand my English and I couldn't speak Spanish.

    Isn’t it rude to speak a language that one or more people around you can’t understand? I have to remind my international students to stick to English for this reason [does that make me racist in your mind?] When taking a quiz, I have no compunction about telling them to be quiet and do their own work or, if they have questions, to ask in English.

    If I were in his place, in that area, I would expect bilingualism [English/Spanish] and would work on my own Spanish. Nevertheless I am willing to downgrade my accusation of illogic against you to merely excessively PC. BTW while I have rethought and considered your opinion, you seem to have not thought about what I actually said before using some ad hominem words against me. Tsk, tsk.

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  • 351. At 9:19pm on 28 Oct 2009, srlclark wrote:

    I'm sorry to disturb the naive romanticism of those who have posted attacks on maria-ashot, but she was plainly correct. Internet porn has become more vulgar, more violent, more extreme every year. It takes only a few keystrokes to discover pornsites that boast of photos and videos of young girls servicing elderly males, and urge the viewer to fantasize in ways that the blog won't let me describe. Girls especially (also some young boys on the gay scene) are systematically humiliated, bullied and tortured. Anyone who imagines that these sites simply help people to enjoy sex, or that the girls themselves are enjoying it, is - bluntly - stupid. The milder forms of porn may help the inexperienced to get a clearer idea of female and male anatomy and how to enjoy it. Unfortunately, sites are always seeking more shocking scenarios to attract the punters, and - as maria said - thereby normalize behaviour that a few years ago would have been recognized as utterly vicious and perverse. Adolescents aren't to blame in this, and the pornsites aren't adolescent: they are run, for profit, by ageing rogues.

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  • 352. At 9:20pm on 28 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #322

    I think we can agree this guy is a terrible boss and I think it is bigotry to anglicize someone's name.

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  • 353. At 9:33pm on 28 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    McJakome (#350) "Isn’t it rude to speak a language that one or more people around you can’t understand?"

    It is not. It first depends on whether the excluded person is part of the group, not merely "around." Etiquette does not require that others include you in their conversation, if you are not part of the group.

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  • 354. At 9:38pm on 28 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    346. At 7:22pm on 28 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    “…The United States may well have become the sole superpower somewhat by accident at the end of WWII, but it has maintained that status by choice. The attack on Pearl Harbor was an embarrassment to a country that thought it was too strong and too isolated geographically to be attacked, and it was a wake-up call to be more vigilant and prepared to fight in the future.

    We have maintained a position of military strength since WWII by choice, and many of us who oppose the misuse of military power are nevertheless unwilling to give it up.”

    Absolutely correct. Moreover, countries, not just powers and superpowers, who lose the will and means for self defense are likely doomed. The same could be said for cultures as well.

    347. At 7:26pm on 28 Oct 2009, matt_wa wrote: “…maybe the world should stop watching CNN which is targeted toward an audience with a 5 year old mentality.”

    That would make the mentality of the FOX viewers 3 years old. Hmm, that’s about right anyway, but I’d give CNN a few more years, to 10 maybe.

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  • 355. At 10:14pm on 28 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #354

    Why is it that anyone that watches Fox you attack? Are you afraid of a news network that will not worship Obama, exposes ACORN's support of law breaking and child prostitution?

    The reason Fox News is sucessful is because they actually investigate unlike say Obermann and his side kick Maddow progandize

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  • 356. At 11:09pm on 28 Oct 2009, turningblueandgrey wrote:

    #351 and Maria

    I agree with you, and in a wider sense than you mention. All of these are more accessible and graphic than ever: "porn porn" "horror porn" "violence porn" "crime porn" "animal cruelty porn" etc. For example, in pop movie culture, what was once suggested in the shadows or shown indirectly by way a face's reaction is now dissected in slow motion exaggerated detail... let alone changes in other media.

    Joseph Conrad had a character say that restraint is the ulimate hallmark of civilization. We are losing our restraint in these areas.

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  • 357. At 11:18pm on 28 Oct 2009, seanspa wrote:

    Who brought up mullets? We all know what mk has on his head. Surely it's MA who has the mullet? Or at least did when he had hair. Now it's just an old baseball cap plugging the new jersey nincompoops.

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  • 358. At 11:20pm on 28 Oct 2009, Loraine_Antrim wrote:

    Innovation is the key to the next era for America. And that means that technology, green initiatives as well as manufacturing and health concerns need to be top of mind for the creatives in all industries. It is not just a matter of popular culture. The military might of the past is just that--in the past. If America is to grow up and continue to be a world power, then we need to get creative, innovation and collaborative on a global basis. Loraine Antrim

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  • 359. At 11:31pm on 28 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "Many of James Kurth's recommendations are pretty mainstream, suggesting that America's dominance has been built on military power which itself is dependent on economic power. He points out that this has been based not so much on industrial strength as constant innovation. He says that to continue this into the future, America has to emphasise research into green and bio tech, and new medical and health treatments."

    The tenor of this thesis misses the point entirely and its suppositions are dead wrong. America's strength and dominance don't come from military power, nor from its economic power. It comes from the basic structure of government which maximizes the realization of human potential on both an individual basis and as a consequence on a societal basis. It does this by creating opportunities and incentives to personal success in all fields of human endeavor. To state otherwise trivializes the signifigance and uniqueness of the American experiment. By contrast, to one degree or another other societies limit opportunities and create disincentives to successs, often by taxing it to death depleting it of its energy. America's slogan could be "from each according to his ability to each according to his achievement." Whether government guesses about where the greatest opportunities for acheivement will lie in the future are right or wrong is irrelevant so long as the marketplace is allowed to make the ultimate decision. That is where the reward for acheivement comes from and why societies based on central planning of much or most human resources cannot possibly compete with those which don't. Therefore America's power does not come from its military, economic, or technological strength, those assets are derived from and are a consequence of the opportunities each field creates for individuals to innovate and earn rewards, especially personal financial rewards from. That "the Business of America is Business" as President Coolidge said hits the bullseye and sums it up perfectly.

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  • 360. At 00:11am on 29 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    355. At 10:14pm on 28 Oct 2009, MagicKirin wrote:
    ref #354

    "Why is it that anyone that watches Fox you attack? Are you afraid of a news network that will not worship Obama, exposes ACORN's support of law breaking and child prostitution?

    The reason Fox News is sucessful is because they actually investigate unlike say Obermann and his side kick Maddow progandize"

    FOX investigates, like Michael Moore does, propaganda for people who prefer to be given a position rather than think it out for themselves. CNN is at least clever enough to disguise its left leaning. I did like Bill O'Reilly, the only approximation of "fair and balanced" on FOX.

    Specifically, Jerry Falwell's many appearances as one of America's "great moral leaders" was enough to sicken me. You do know some of his positions: the Pope is the Anti-Christ [or was that Pat Robertson, another FOX friend?], homosexuals are evil and can't be treated like normal citizens, and his not so secret support for the West African "Christians" in the blood diamond trade with their child warriors and horrible child murder and mutilation.

    I do not attack everyone who watches FOX [if that is what you meant to imply], I encourage people to get both sides of an issue and beware of blatant, one-sided propaganda [a FOX specialty].

    I think ACORN and any other corrupt organization should be shut down and the guilty should be prosecuted, left, right or center. I have some problems with Obama, but I'm giving him at least as much of a honeymoon as I gave GWB. Relentless, mindless, and sometimes nonsensical right wing attacks on Obama, before he even set foot in the white house is unAmerican, as is the wish that he fail and that anything that he tries fail.

    I don't know where you got the idea that I support crime or child prostitution, any judge too lenient on the latter should be in prison him/her-self.
    Your attack was way, way over the top, get some help will you.
    I didn't complain to the moderators about your post because as a REAL American I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of the press. But you really should be more polite and avoid uncalled for abuse and ad hominem attack.

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  • 361. At 00:47am on 29 Oct 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #351. srlclark: "I'm sorry to disturb the naive romanticism of those who have posted attacks on maria-ashot, but she was plainly correct. Internet porn has become more vulgar, more violent, more extreme every year."

    From what you write it appears that you have been personally following the changes for several years, or how else would you know?

    "It takes only a few keystrokes to discover pornsites that boast of photos and videos of young girls servicing elderly males, and urge the viewer to fantasize in ways that the blog won't let me describe. Girls especially (also some young boys on the gay scene) are systematically humiliated, bullied and tortured"

    Another of your interests? I suppose you view these sites as "research" into the problem. Let the authorities do so where necessary.

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  • 362. At 00:49am on 29 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    "351. At 9:19pm on 28 Oct 2009, srlclark wrote:
    I'm sorry to disturb the naive romanticism of those who have posted attacks on maria-ashot, but she was plainly correct. Internet porn has become more vulgar, more violent, more extreme every year. It takes only a few keystrokes to discover pornsites that boast of photos and videos of young girls servicing elderly males, and urge the viewer to fantasize in ways that the blog won't let me describe. Girls especially (also some young boys on the gay scene) are systematically humiliated, bullied and tortured. Anyone who imagines that these sites simply help people to enjoy sex, or that the girls themselves are enjoying it, is - bluntly - stupid. ..."
    ________

    Great. Two Mrs. Kravitzes. Lord help us.

    With respect, you have merely made my point.

    Look what you are actually complaining about: "... systematically humiliated, bullied and tortured." The behaviour you are complaining about is unequal, manipulative, exploitative, coercive and frequently violent behaviour. It has nothing to do with sex, and a very great deal to do with power and control. This is just one form of a larger problem. The issue is violence.

    And if you think the Police do not spend a great deal of time and effort trying to shut these guys down you are badly mistaken.

    The problem with Maria's posting was that she was equating consensual sex between adults with gross violence. It was ridiculous.

    There was nothing wrong with Cheryl Tiegs' photo being published in the SI swimsuit issue, and the day that somebody decides there was or is we might as well all pack it in.

    And finally, what is it that compels you to be visiting those websites, anyhow? What were you doing there?

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  • 363. At 01:07am on 29 Oct 2009, american grizzly wrote:

    Well after reading about the shootout with FBI agents in Dearborn,Mich. Another radical Islamic preaching hatred has met his end. Meanwhile the neolibs denounce the US right here in Amherst, Massachusetts. Obama's administration is rebuilding the infrastruture in Afghanistan, along with the lefts usual method of leaving those soldiers basically abandoned. Another $7.5 billion for Pakistan to spend on nonmilitary, to got with the $10 billion for military. The neolibs are upset Obama plays basketball to relax with the guys. So instantly the next day Obama played golf with a women, still on the campaign trail for the liberal left. While soldiers continue to die while this administration takes its time. Funny doesn't take his time with Obamacare, ram that down their throats. Whats the hurry, why the hurry? Jobs? Stimulus II, Stimulus III, the first kind of disappeared. Meanwhile executives are bailing out of AIG to form a new company, where they can receive bonuses for the work done to provide incentive. So I guess a government takeover didn't chain those ambitious executives to their desks while the government beats the drum to row.
    So lastly cast the #1 watched News network Fox in a government blackout and ban them from investigating. Sound and looks like ......communism, national socialism? Perhaps they want to ask questions, or accountability? Maybe Michael Moore could be the neolib Joseph Goebbels for the Obama admin. Meanwhile with a government emergency declaration with the Swine flu, the Obama admin does its first Katrina response act. Little to nothing. Enough vaccine for prisoners first, then select people, (kinda of like healthcare, where the government would like to call the shots on who gets, who doesn't (shades of death panels?). Or just economic sense, or absolute control? What a disaster so Democrats now have the ball, one can only wonder when the US will have a real leaders?

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  • 364. At 03:16am on 29 Oct 2009, g55rumpy wrote:

    Ain`t got over 1776, huh? Of course we`re adolescent. Our country is younger than Europe. How come ya still wash up on our shores wanting healthcare/ to be free? You have made a big mess with your socialist governments. Can`t do much as far as defend your own selves, but you want us to ( remember lend-lease/Marshall plan) You seem to want to make all countries as mediocre as rest of ya. The EU, a great place not to be. Put your own house in order before you speak.

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  • 365. At 03:43am on 29 Oct 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #364. g55rumpy wrote: "Can`t do much as far as defend your own selves, but you want us to ( remember lend-lease/Marshall plan)"

    You really believe that joining in WWII and lend-lease was for altruistic reasons? Of course it wasn't, it was self-interest, to ensure that America was protected lest the Germans should win and then have a very good shot at the USA. The United States has never "defended" Great Britain but joined in the war to save itself. It's high time that Americans remembered the truth about their (tardy) involvement.

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  • 366. At 04:22am on 29 Oct 2009, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    365. At 03:43am on 29 Oct 2009, David_Cunard wrote:

    You really believe that joining in WWII and lend-lease was for altruistic reasons? Of course it wasn't, it was self-interest, to ensure that America was protected lest the Germans should win and then have a very good shot at the USA. The United States has never "defended" Great Britain but joined in the war to save itself. It's high time that Americans remembered the truth about their (tardy) involvement.

    It's high time that the Left admitted that altruism is a rare and ultimately ineffective motive for anything. Sure, the USA rebuilt the European economy after WWII, so they would have a market to sell to, and a buffer between themselves and the Eastern threat, and a base of allies rather than an abyss of poverty and want where there had been several strong democracies.

    It's called win-win. Smart, modern nations and smart, modern businesses do it all the time. It is also the best policy for the future and represents the best prospective world for the 21st century I have heard discussed since the fall of the Iron C - which was the end of the thankfully short 20th century (what a relief!). So what do you find blameworthy in US policy toward Western Europe in the 20th century, Mr Cunard? Lack of altruism? How about - I help you, and that helps me too?

    Seems an odd judgment for a Darwinist - Good can only be credited if it does the agent no good at all.

    KScurmudgeon - confused again

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  • 367. At 04:26am on 29 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    It always comes down to the same thing Canard, whenever that topic comes up, Europeans change the subject. Back on point, the fact remains that Britain and the rest of Europe could not defend itself against the Nazis and that includes the USSR. Had the US not taken a strong hand in it, regardless of why it did it, Nazi Germany would have won WWII in Europe. In fact even with American military support an the huge American economic and industrial machine that kept the war going, the Nazis almost won anyway. At the height of their power, the Nazis and their allies controlled practically all of mainland Europe, much of the European part of the USSR, much of North Africa. The UK was isolated and would have fallen without American help. So would the USSR. From the Battle of the Atlantic to the Battle of the Bulge, the Nazis literally had a figthing chance to win. How lucky for us all that their commander had no military knowledge or skill yet insisted on calling the shots.

    I don't know who is worse, Europeans in Europe or European ex-pats who come here. Both seem eager to tell America how to run its country, how to run its affairs. The implication that Somehow Europe is older and wiser, a benovalent elder brother who will impart the wisdom gained from experience on the younger less capable nation is a pile of horse manure. There is nothing the failure called Europe can teach the success called America except to serve as a bad example not to follow. But we know that instinctively anyway. The very first arguments in the current national debate about how to fix our health care system was an agreement that we didn't want to copy the failed financially unsustainable systems of Europe including the UK's NHS. Europe is a doomed society in a state of terminal decline. America is still vibrant and strong, its best days are ahead of it. As America was deliberately constructed as an anti-Europe, it is inevitable that Europeans all of whom don't understand it will interminably criticize it and be ignored by Americans. And that includes Europeans who come to these shores and become American citizens as I presume you have Canard.

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  • 368. At 05:03am on 29 Oct 2009, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    To the original question, yes, it is time America did grow up some more. But it would be best if it did not try to strictly follow the European model. The great strengths that the new world has and can contribute into the next century and beyond come largely from the ways we are different from them ( I almost said 'you' - could that be permitted here?) Growing more like late 20th - early 21st century Europeans would stifle us and our contribution.

    The best trajectory for us can be discovered easily from an examination of our recent history. The promise everyone in the 17th and 18th centuries saw here was realized in the 19th and 20th centuries, where we matched and then surpassed our European forebearers, who peaked rather earlier and declined through the collapse of the colonial system in the early 20th. WWII marked the final triumph of Democracy over there, but the end of the wealth and military domination of the world that had been the European paradigm.

    Americans were the youth of the tribe of Europe - faster, stronger, more adventuresome, short on experience but long on hope and idealism. Many died, but the rest came home heroes, full of plunder. But our vision was a little different. We actually lost our overseas empire, except a few quite insignificant places - some Pacific islands and Puerto Rico. And we deliberately moved to restore the sovereignty and the prosperity of Japan and Germany and the European nations prostrated by their struggle. We struck bargains with the Soviets rather than contest the East, and Harry Truman turned back our lusty General MacArthur when he wanted to engage China.

    The empire envisioned by our ambitions was not dictatorial, but mercantile. The richer your market is, the greater the profits. We coveted, and still covet, rich trading partners not impoverished subjects.

    As Mr. Kurth says, in the foreseeable future there will not be one superpower - there will be instead a hand full of great powers, among whom one may predominate but none will dominate.

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  • 369. At 05:38am on 29 Oct 2009, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    Following Mr. Kurst, America came out of WWII assured of it's strength and rightness, and ready to flex new-found muscle to fulfill its vision for the salvation of the world. We had not lost our fundamental millenialism. The Soviets served as a convenient foil - fear and hatred puffed us up and motivated whenever greed, selfishness, and good will in equal measure could not.

    The experience in Viet Nam, and the concurrent youthful rebelliousness of the first post-WWII generation rather broke down that naivete. The whole culture of the 50's was grown stale by the time the Beatles, Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones appeared. The American Way of War didn't seem to work as well as it had, as Kurst explains. Nevertheless, when the Soviet empire collapsed so spectacularly we were reassured that it was our star that was rising.

    But it hasn't been. Wealth and prosperity have spread around the world, and the third world is eager to compete. And the last eighteen months have shown everyone on the planet that the most recent form of the American model has not proven to bring universal benefits - but it has fulfilled the risk universally as it producing unprecedented wealth for the tiniest of minorities.

    The presumptions we held sixty years ago were adolescent - we were the adolescents of the age. Meanwhile more mature heads created today's Europe - unified, centralized, socialized, aiming toward one opinion, one solution, and perpetually struggling against stagnation, or so it appears from here. Today we have a new style of leadership here in the USA - one that recognizes a new vision of our contribution - not the beneficient megalomaniac the world saw under the Bushes and Clintons, but a contributor and collaborator, a strong competitor who sees as much or more benefit in mutual advancement as in the old-style unilateral victory.

    I predict we will learn to listen more, to learn more, and to help as much as ever with our eye on building a richer, more vibrant and diverse world - and the greatest market imagineable. Would that be the next step toward an estimable maturity?

    KScurmudgeon

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  • 370. At 05:48am on 29 Oct 2009, David wrote:

    Marcus,

    I have one comment. Respectfully, why Europe?

    Why not China, Russia, India or um Brazil?

    Your focus, I mean?

    David

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  • 371. At 06:00am on 29 Oct 2009, David wrote:

    To the person or people horrified about porn ...why worry about the least worrisome aspect of America or the world?

    Profit has gone out of porn..yea!

    Isn't that what you are concerned about (unconsciously) Now abhorrant males don't have to pay for it?

    AND sexism does rear its ugly head, it seems, when someone goes on a opinionated and very well reasoned ...rampage.

    But sexism is not a great tool of reason. I, too, as a gay male, Maria.., was quite prejudiced against "st8 males." But, I was young ..AND stupid..or tooo inexperienced.

    One gets over it when seeing heterosexual young males fighting for the human rights of the gay "other." (in this new generation)..and historically, well, you get the picture....

    There is such a thing as peaceful, intellectual non gay humans...wowie!

    The male member is not the ruling evil of the world. And, pardon me, for pointing this out. (sorry moderators)

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  • 372. At 06:08am on 29 Oct 2009, David wrote:

    Also,

    Your comments are well written, Mr. Kurmudgeon, but your last comment seemed to say we need to throw individualistic choice and individualism to the wind and join Europe (and China?) in providing dictatorial leadership and succor to our huddled masses.

    Yukkkk.

    I think you meant we need to take some aspects of Europe and apply them here. And maybe to abandon our need to dominate the (quite large) world....not so terrible a future, huh?

    That's all :)

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  • 373. At 06:16am on 29 Oct 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #366. KScurmudgeon: "So what do you find blameworthy in US policy toward Western Europe in the 20th century, Mr Cunard? Lack of altruism? How about - I help you, and that helps me too?"

    That is probably not the opinion of the poster to whom I responded. I suggest you read his post at #364; he seems to think it was a one-way street. However, you must admit that it took some time for the USA to realise it was in her own interest to join the fight in Europe. Marbles (if she were here) would tell you that it was not a popular move.

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  • 374. At 06:34am on 29 Oct 2009, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    372. At 06:08am on 29 Oct 2009, stellarBeloved wrote:

    Also,
    Your comments are well written, Mr. Kurmudgeon, but your last comment seemed to say we need to throw individualistic choice and individualism to the wind and join Europe (and China?) in providing dictatorial leadership and succor to our huddled masses.
    Yukkkk.
    I think you meant we need to take some aspects of Europe and apply them here. And maybe to abandon our need to dominate the (quite large) world....not so terrible a future, huh?
    ____________________________

    Uh, yes, and no. I hope we can abandon the urge to 'provide' dictatorial leadership anywhere. If by 'succor our huddled masses' you are suggesting we provide European style socialism to those who do not produce or are cronically under productive - no. That is counter - productive every where, and not really within the American paradigm - not part of our genius. Getting everybody an opportunity and a reason to be joyously productive - that is a better thing from my point of view.

    Individualism and individual choice are among the qualities we have cultivated and that are very much needed by much of the world today - in my 'American' opinion.

    Yes we very much need to abandon our 'need' to dominate the world - but must continue to work to trade with and stimulate and be stimulated by the world - and there is nothing innately destructive with working hard to be the best, so long as it is not done by diminishing, destroying or demeaning the other players.

    Perhaps you can suggest some European aspects that would improve the American experience - excepting their ages of wisdom and malaise - we will be best to develop that on our own in the course of time....

    KScurmudgeon

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  • 375. At 06:57am on 29 Oct 2009, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    373. At 06:16am on 29 Oct 2009, David_Cunard wrote:

    #366. KScurmudgeon: "So what do you find blameworthy in US policy toward Western Europe in the 20th century, Mr Cunard? Lack of altruism? How about - I help you, and that helps me too?"

    That is probably not the opinion of the poster to whom I responded. I suggest you read his post at #364; he seems to think it was a one-way street. However, you must admit that it took some time for the USA to realise it was in her own interest to join the fight in Europe. Marbles (if she were here) would tell you that it was not a popular move."

    ____________________________
    DC,
    Funny, I didn't find any real reference to altruism in his post.

    Of course entering the War wasn't popular at the time, as I have said here myself. It was popular with the American industrialists who were busy long before we entered the war, and good for the employees they were able to hire. Policy is not the same thing as popular opinion, then or now, although they should generally correspond in the long run. Our discussions suffer, as you may be suggesting, from a general failure to clarify which one we are talking about, especially on this thread. So, there are also short term public opinions and long term public values, for lack of a better term. Right now we are finding that our policy makers can have short term opinions, or talking points, as well as longer term goals that seem down right incongruent.

    KScurmudgeon

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  • 376. At 10:48am on 29 Oct 2009, D R Murrell wrote:

    Marcus – Your argument that American dominance does not come from military or economic power but cultural superiority is regrettably flawed. If for instance the American social system was so superior it would have been adopted wholesale by other countries, which is not the case. Like any system of governance it has flaws, some of which I will highlight below. In addition, just because you people are happy and well adjusted does not mean that you gain any influence in world affairs, the Scandinavian countries are commonly regarded to be the best places in the world to live (sorry but every study done in the last 20 years, including American ones, supports this view), but Finland does not sit as a titan over world affairs.

    If the US came in like the Lone Ranger to save Europe in WWII, it didn’t use its happy and hopeful population, it used its massive, well resourced military. It did not threaten the USSR with pamphlets explaining how America was the best that man could get, it threatened it will nuclear annihilation. The US military bases strung across the world are not examples or a well adjusted meritocracy they are examples of a powerful centralised military complex that influences large aspects of the governance of a country. Armies do not exist without a central command a successful military central command needs to be imbedded in the ruling administration. Armies do not directly make money, they cost large amounts of it however, and to afford a large army you need the government to be able to raise revenue that means taxes.

    I understand that you believe that America is an enlightened meritocracy, sadly it isn’t. In a true meritocracy a smart kid on skid row would have the same chance to become CEO of a major corporation as the son of a wealthy businessman. While there are example of people clawing their way up to riches and power, the general rule is that those who are born into wealth and power stay in wealth and power. There are more Rockefellers in the world than Alan Sugars. To succeed in American business and politics you need both money and connections, it is the reason why the Kennedy’s and the Bush’s of this world get to be presidents. It is no fluke that George W and his brother ended up governors of states and CEO’s of large corporations that came from the fact that daddy was a wealthy and important man. While I will not judge a former alcoholic, former bankruptee, I find it hard to see how he deserved to be president over someone whose only failing was not to be born into a wealthy family, did not get access to the best schools so lacked the contacts and friends that could oil his progress into office.

    The US is as much a plutocracy as it is a democracy, the wealthy few have all the power and do everything with that power to protected it and increase it. The US is no more a fair and even society than elsewhere else, in some ways it is less. The American Dream, that you can achieve anything if you only work hard enough, has for the majority of people always been a lie. No society could work if it wasn’t, every society needs all the functions and stations to be filled, and the sad truth is not everyone can be a success some people have to fail. Some people’s fates are to clean the streets, in a perfect society this would be because either they chose to or they didn’t use every chance at their disposal. In every current society it is because not everyone gets the same chances. If you are born in a trailer park/council estate you are far more likely to end up in a dead end miserable than if you are born into a wealthy family, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

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  • 377. At 12:53pm on 29 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    As we re-figth WWII yet again ...

    Mark:

    It is time for a new topic.

    Yours,



    IF

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  • 378. At 12:57pm on 29 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Ah, there's the new topic.

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  • 379. At 1:20pm on 29 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    sb

    "why Europe?

    Why not China, Russia, India or um Brazil?"

    Because China, Russia, India, and Brazil have not relentlessly told America what it should do. Have not belittled the greatest achievement in human history while ignoring its own perpetual catastrophic failures. Anti-Americanism in Europe started as soon as the American revolution and hasn't let up since. It may wax and wane periodically but it is incessant and relentless. It's time someone told Europe what and who it is and what and who we are without apology or minimizing the stark contrast between us. Since nobody else will....

    DRMu;

    I've yet to meet any European in my life who "got it," whose views I could honestly say I respected. You are no exception. You just don't get it. Yes it was Amerrican military, industrial, technological, and economic might that ultimately defeated the Nazis, just as it ultimately defeated the Communists. If Islamic extremism is eventually defeated it will ultimately be the crucial factor as well. But it was not created by some king's edict or some Central Council's plan. It inevitably evolved from the way the governance of America was structured. That and tempered by the practicality of a people who had to survive the harshest of wildernesses with solutions that worked in the real world, not just as some abstract theories. That's another difference between America and Europeans, the requirement for "the proof of the pudding being in the eating." Lots of theories that look good on paper and sound good don't work. In fact many European doctrines when put into practice like fascism, socialism, communism led to disaster.

    BTW, I think Finland has the highest suicide rate in the world or close to it. There is also a very high incidence of alcoholism in Scandanavia. Racism is emerging as a fact of Scandanavian life as it is being put to the test for the first time in this respect with an influx of those who are not of their culture in meaningful numbers. So much for their "happiness." It isn't the cold weather. Canada which has in many places a similar cold climate doesn't have those problems.

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  • 380. At 2:14pm on 29 Oct 2009, D R Murrell wrote:

    Marcus – Well respect is a two way street, its just that on my side of the road I couldn’t care less what country a person was born in or now chooses to live. Prejudice is prejudice, no matter whether it is based on race, gender, sexuality, class or what country a person came from. Prejudice is basically a stunted intellects way of dealing with the world, which is kind of sad since other that the top and bottom 5% everyone’s intellect is basically the same. Meaning your stunted view point is probably self induced by intellectual laziness.

    Once again rather than address my viewpoints, you throw the odd insult and the odd incorrect ‘fact’ (you are wrong about Finland by the way, though it is a common myth).

    I suppose it does come back to the issue of maturity, the mature mind questions what it is told, what it believes and thinks, the immature one simply does not have the capacity. I will point out again that I do not agree that anthropomorphic interpretations work with countries, with individuals obviously that is not an issue. As you beetle your brow and insist that no European can have a valid view of the US, because they are not capable firstly, if you are able, question how you can justify an anti-European view while criticising others for being anti-American and secondly remember that arguably the most intelligent person in the modern world is British and the most intelligent ever in history was Italian. I suspect both could have worked out the complexities of how the US worked after all somehow you managed it!

    Really taking two lines from a post while ignoring the body of it is just as intellectually lazy as your prejudice, oh and would you like some ketchup for that giant chip on your shoulder?

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  • 381. At 2:23pm on 29 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    342 st dom look like you are saying ameica is like a boomer.
    took every think when the going was good, used all they could wastefully, then bankrupted the next generaqtion.

    so I see the link between boomers and babies now.
    Cheers.

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  • 382. At 2:29pm on 29 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Gherkin I am glad we can agree it is bigotry.
    I was pointing out the" intelligentsia" of america trying to argue that it was not racist. stangely Mc J did prove my point by trying to pretend it wasn't a racist action.

    As has happened time and time again here on this site.
    Blatant racism is called all sorts of nice names by bigots who argue that they are not racists.



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  • 383. At 2:30pm on 29 Oct 2009, Muhammad Zaman wrote:

    "America what it should do. Have not belittled the greatest achievement in human history while ignoring its own perpetual catastrophic failures."
    MarcusAureliusII.

    America is not "the greatest achievement in human history", it is one of the greatest achievement in human history.

    Democracy was a Greek invention; trial by jury was an English one as was the idea of a cabinet (administration) and MPs (Representatives, Senators in the US). Secularism was a Western concept in general.

    If you go further back, many of the fundamentals of mathematics were of Arabic, Indian and Chinese origin. The printing press - the cornerstone of information technology - was a German invention.

    I'm a UK Muslim -but have studied in the US before and after 9/11, lived in Canada and in Europe. There are good qualities in everyone - after 9/11 I was surprised at the tolerance of average Americans; at their willing to learn about others and yes, their courtesy, politeness and kindness. Americans are willing to judge people on an individual basis, Europeans are not, but then again Europeans are more knowledgeable about other cultures.

    Everyone has good and bad points. The danger for anyone is think they are the greatest. It ultimately breeds complacency and decline. The Chinese and Indians have taken a 1000 years to regain their dominance; and complacency and mistaken self-importance has led to a 700 year decline in the Islamic world.

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  • 384. At 2:33pm on 29 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    357 Seanspa Are you saying that mullets don't sit well under foil caps?

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  • 385. At 2:48pm on 29 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    "347. At 7:26pm on 28 Oct 2009, matt_wa wrote:
    Saying America is "adolescent" is kind of like saying Britain is "stuck up." Both are inaccurate, ignorant, and "adolescent" statements within themselves. There are 300 million people in the US, maybe the world should stop watching CNN which is targeted toward an audience with a 5 year old mentality."

    what and start watching that bastion of freedom FOX?

    350 Mc Jak
    "Isn’t it rude to speak a language that one or more people around you can’t understand?"

    so when you are on holiday do you remain mute if you do not understand the language?
    or do you carry on talking to your wife.

    You can try to slime around it but it is a racist action . How the hell could he tell it would "help business"
    Yes you do need it thrown in your face if you think this was not a racist action.

    To tell people to change their names to a mor e anglicised name MAY make sense if his restaurant was called "Viking retreat " or something .Even then it would be a little strange.

    Even the gherkin can see it is racist.
    Your "logic" is not logical.

    wiki (lol it admits to containing "weasel words")
    "Racial discrimination typically points out taxonomic differences between different groups of people, although anyone may be discriminated against on an ethnic or cultural basis, independently of their somatic differences. According to the United Nations conventions, there is no distinction between the term racial discrimination and ethnic discrimination."

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  • 386. At 2:58pm on 29 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    367 marcarse erroneous.

    AMERICANS WERE TOO BUSY SELLING WEAPONS TO THE GERMANS

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  • 387. At 3:00pm on 29 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    SCK"Would that be the next step toward an estimable maturity?"

    YES

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  • 388. At 3:08pm on 29 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Mc J good to see you aren't one of them racists.
    but there is a leap in accepting that guys behaviour as Not racist.
    PS I consider Gentile a racist term as well and that got me in loads of hot water for trying to point out.
    Many obviously see racism as some abstract concept.But it is pretty obvious really.

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  • 389. At 3:40pm on 29 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    DRMu;

    "other that the top and bottom 5% everyone’s intellect is basically the same."

    And YOU have the nerve to lecture me about prejudice and intellectual laziness? What a laugh. How can anyone possibly take you seriously after a statement like that?

    "I suppose it does come back to the issue of maturity, the mature mind questions what it is told, what it believes and thinks, the immature one simply does not have the capacity."

    Then I assert that by your own thesis you do not have the maturity to question the European dogma you've been fed from childhood. One of the few Americans Europeans respect is a man I and many other Americans consider mentallly defective, the one I call Gnome Chumpsky. By American political standards he is well into what we call the lunatic fringe and we call it that with good reason. By European standards he is considered mainstream.

    If you are referring to Stephen Hawkings as the smartest man in the world today, well that may be your opinion and others' but that doesn't prove anything. For all you know among the two and a half billion people in India and China someone is smarter and even in the US or for all you know in Sierra Leone there may be someone smarter. As for the smartest person who ever was, I assume you were referring to Leonardo da Vinci. But there were certainly other minds as great....like Einstein's for instance. Now why did you forget about him I wonder?

    Call me prejuduced or whatever else you like I don't care. My opinions don't just come from reading about Europeans or reading what Europeans say but from first hand experience talking to and knowing thousands of them oer a lifetime including on their own turf living among them during the two years I spent in France.

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  • 390. At 3:42pm on 29 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Mc J I'm Off and you can smell it from there I am sure , but before I go Another shot.
    You say the racist (as I would call him) made the business decision to tell employees that they must not speak their language and have to change their names because there was and economic model to show that he would make more money from a mono lingual business than a multi lingual business.
    But he says it so it isn't really PROVEN to be racist.

    Now If I had a business and asked all the Arab ,jewish and french people to drop their names no more La le de, No more stiens or golds. no more Muhammad, Bin.
    To not talk to each other in their own language.
    No farsi no hebrew no french
    Just good British names.

    Good british words.

    But I wouldn't be a racist ?
    how anglicised is enough.

    Take away your name.
    No more Mc because their a bunch of....

    You can only be jerome.
    It's silly having Mc in front of all these names.

    Seriously. I could have expected gherkin to argue but you have proven the point that you will try to "intellectualise" that which is really not able to be so easily excused.

    But Ad homin attacks.
    surely saying to all they are engaging in an ad hom attack is in it's own way a way of trying to put down another in an AD Hom way.

    You do not try to explain how getting other races to change names("cultural groups" would be better these days what with race being such an ambiguous word it seems) to ones own race is not racist.\
    You tell me that "he said it was a business decision"

    So back to me running that business where arabs jews and the french are so hated (it seems) by the americans that I decide it is OK to pander to the racists(and nationalistic in one case because they are white right?) ,but i am not a racist.

    There is no real threat to my life , There is no gestapo making me do this I decide of my own free will with no reason other than my Un racist opinion to ban jewish sounding names.
    We all know that anti semetism is rife so why not cater for that group.

    But I am a Capitalist not a racist right?

    That is still racist. Maybe not because it was my intent to discriminate. but the action is still racist.
    Therefore I am engaging in racism. Now if it is pointed out to me that there is a racist angle to it and I CHOOSE to ignore it.
    I would say that makes me a racist.

    You can claim capitalist if you like. but the Intellectual ground is not under you.

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  • 391. At 3:47pm on 29 Oct 2009, seanspa wrote:

    Phiily-mom, I hope that isn't you in the news trying to swap free kittens for baseball tickets!

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  • 392. At 4:34pm on 29 Oct 2009, Maria Ashot wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 393. At 4:38pm on 29 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Here's a list of the smartest people in the world according to the Daily Mail DRMu. Take it for what it's worth, one man's opinion. It's as valid or invalid as anyone elses. Hawkings comes out number 7 on it. A Swiss chemist is number 1. Geroge Soros is number 3. I'm sure many who know him would not agree. He doesn't seem that smart although I will concede he was smart enough to beat the Bank of England out of one billion dollars in one night.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-490382/The-list-worlds-living-geniuses.html

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  • 394. At 4:48pm on 29 Oct 2009, D R Murrell wrote:

    Marcus – Why do I make the ridiculous statement about the majority of humanities intellectual ability being on a similar level? Well a basic understanding of how IQ, EQ and general theories of intelligence works coupled with a working knowledge of statistics. It comes from reading psychology and neural science and the opinion of experts in both those fields. Most people despite slight differences in their recorded IQ have the same baseline capabilities, only those at the upper ranges (only approximately 2.2% of people for instance have an IQ exceeding 130) and very low 70 (borderline retarded) would fall out of the description of below average, average ad above average. Really it is not difficult to understand, though I must admit I do say this as someone who falls into the 2.2%, well probably 1.5% of the population, so maybe you do have difficulties.

    How would you know which dogma I believe in? To be correct I don’t follow any dogma, since it is primarily a religious term and I am at best pantheist, more often atheist. The books and works I have read are not specifically Eurocentric, I have read and respected the Art of War for instance, and I don’t believe the Chinese eunuch is commonly regarded as being overtly European. There are a number of American/Canadian thinkers and writers that I find knowledgeable, I have an interest in aberrant psychology, for some reason most of the experts in this field come from your side of the pond. As for Chomsky, yes I respect his work on linguistics and am intrigued by his ideas about the power and influence of advertising, as for his politics I find that I am less impressed. I did read some of his political ideas but did not find them entirely inspiring. Unlike it seems I can respect a man for his achievements, without concerning myself on his other views.

    As for Mr Hawkings, as I stated quite clearly ‘commonly regarded’, I made no claim that being his absolute status. As you say there may be an unknown genius somewhere in the world, but being unknown makes it quite difficult to judge their genius doesn’t it? As to why I chose Leonardo over Albert, it is simple really Leonardo was a polymath, an artist, writer, mathematician, biologist and engineer, Albert was good but his focus was more limited to mathematics and theoretical physics. Also he claimed that the speed of light is a constant, which it isn’t. I suspected that you are suggesting that I ignored the Austrian Jewish scientist for a reason, now obviously since I chose Hawkings I am not against scientist, choosing one European over another makes little odds to the point I was making. I thus conclude you were making an accusation of anti-Semitism, a rather dangerous claim to make since you know little about me. As I noted before primarily I am an atheist, I view all religions as equally flawed. The fact that I could well have been brought up Jewish is irrelevant. Actually if it makes you happy lets chose Albert, a nice Austrian works as well as a nice Italian.

    You know thousands of Europeans, partially from living France for two years? Well how gregarious of you I have lived in Britain for well over thirty and I cannot claim the same. I have probably walked past tens of thousands of them, but knowing them implies slightly more. Personally I can only claim to have met and talked to mere tens of Americans, in the main I find them little different from other people, though most seem a little conservative for my tastes, but then I am rather liberal.

    As for not caring what I think and write, obviously a lie or you would not have responded and especially not used childish insults. Oh and you still didn’t mention whether you wanted ketchup with your chip!

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  • 395. At 5:33pm on 29 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    " ... other than the top and bottom 5% everyone’s intellect is basically the same." (from DavidRMurrell at #380)

    I take DRM seriously after a statement like that. (See MAII at #389.) What he is saying here is that intellect, like everything that is a sum of several random variables, is normally distributed. When you cut the tails off the normal curve, what's left is pretty much the same, for ordinary purposes. Most people are smart enough to function in society, but not smart enough to discover new principles of science. The differences in intellect among the great mass of ordinary people who fall within one standard deviation of the mean are not important for most purposes of civilization. Why would MAII have a problem with that?

    What cannot be taken seriously is the list of top "geniuses" (not "smartest people") in the Daily Mail posted by MAII. Dolly Parton in the top 100? The concept of ranking geniuses is flawed to begin with. It's enough to credit Dolly Parton (or whomever) for her creativity and success without trying to decide where she falls on some phony "genius" scale.

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  • 396. At 5:38pm on 29 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    look guys I know I normally enjoy trying to ream maria ashot. but really.
    I did miss the homophobia in her remarks and would say that if she did write remarks that tare homophobic, Shame on her.
    but the basic concept that sexualised violence is more and more common is true.
    Sorry it is but it is.
    You can call her a pervert for knowing these facts but that is no comment on her but on yourself.
    It may be the internet and it may have nothing to do with american society. OK but it is a growing problem.

    Ignore it and another generation of abused will be created, and more abuse will happen.
    Zero tolerance on sex crimes did not happen. too busy busting the 80,000 pot heads Number 3 crime in USA.

    Priorities are wrong. but then I doubt Maria agrees with me on that. But then there we are two opposites seeing that the sex industry in the states is appalling.


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  • 397. At 5:38pm on 29 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    DRM I'll have mayo please.

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  • 398. At 5:57pm on 29 Oct 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    DavidRMurrell (#395) "Also he (Albert Einstein)claimed that the speed of light is a constant, which it isn’t."

    No, he assumed that the speed of light was constant, as suggested by the Michelson-Morley Experiment, and developed the principle of relativity from this assumption.

    You assert that it is not a constant. Would you care to provide a link to your source for this?

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  • 399. At 6:19pm on 29 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 400. At 6:23pm on 29 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    396. Fluffy.

    We are actually in broad agreement on this point. But not all human sexuality is evil, and not all sexual acts involve violence.

    I am absolutely in favour of the Police enforcing the laws we already have against violence, including sexual violence, and all the other degrading behaviour that goes along with it.

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  • 401. At 7:18pm on 29 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    397 fluffytale wrote:
    "DRM I'll have mayo please."


    Happyjack - are you part Dutch?

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  • 402. At 7:33pm on 29 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    Maria, Fluff, IF and others....

    The whole pornography issue is IMO a major issue for our times, and one that is not being addressed. It is albeit impossible to legislate for what is or s not an "acceptable" form of pornography.

    Porn has been around for as long as men have been able to paint, but it is a simple and undeniable fact that in the last 15-20 years the amount of porn has increased dramatically (now we have the internet, one doesn't need to go to the newsagents and hope no one else is there!!!) and also become much more "hardcore" and violent.

    As the overall level of "hardcore-ness" increases so do the social norms and levels of acceptance. 2o-30 years ago it was publishing laws and the individual opinion of magazine vendors which controlled the extreme edge of porn. Now it online and it seems that more and more porn-providers are pushing the limit to get punters onto their websites.

    Also for many of the women involved it is not a matter of becoming a "glamour model" and doing some soft stuff for Playboy etc, but it is impossible to know the situation that these women are in. (I say women, and of course it is entirely possible that some men are also coerced etc into the industry, but I think in general the victims are women).

    Bottom line is this - if no one was looking at it then it would eventually go away. There's been a blurring of the line between teenagers (and older) having a sherman (tank) over Playboy and the sort of filth that is out there today.

    I have no solution to offer as the internet is impossible to control, but as another generation of teenagers grows up and sees this hardcore stuff as "normal" (in the sense of being available easily) then they are going to have major problems in future, as are the girls who think that the best way to keep their man is to take a pole dancing nightschool class and act like something they saw on the web.




    That said I saw today that in Berlin brothels are going green - offering discounts to punters who arrive by bicycle or show a used bus ticket. Ever practical ze Germans.

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  • 403. At 9:05pm on 29 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    DRMu, G-Whiz;

    How typically European to try to lump most people into one big bracket denying their individuality, denying that their nature and degree of intelligence is a continuum. Of course those who make such an assertion believe that they themselves are among the top 5% who are destined to rule as the elite were born to rule, that their views should prevail over everyone elses. After all, why shouldn't the best and brightest tell the rest of the population what to do, how to live, what is right and what is wrong? That is how European society is structured. That is a part of the European mentality, especially in the UK where class distinction is inbred in the culture. That is why all European governments and the EU in particular are not democracies at all, their so called democracy a sham. Proof? Just look at how Brits were denied the referendum they were promised on Lisbon or the Constitution. Or that the Lisbon IS the EU Constitution in disguise to get around the fact that under the rules it was voted down by the people of France, Holland, and Ireland. That the Irish were made to vote again and would have been made to vote indefinitely until they "got it right." And the greatest proof of all is that the protest against it was feeble because Europeans accept that this is how it is, how it ought to be. They are cowed. That is how they see the world and they don't like upstarts like America and Americans telling them they are and always have been dead wrong about just about everything.

    According to the Daily Mail's list the brightest living genius is a Brit but it's not Hawkings. It's a computer scientist who tied with the Swiss chemist. That is why Soros is number three.

    According to a study reported by Radio Copenhagen a few years ago, men on average had an IQ six points higher than women. Those who conducted the study found that significant. And the spread of the bell curve was much greater for men than for women. The dumbest men were in general dumber than the dumbest women, the smartest men smarter than the smartest women. At least that's what the study claimed.

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  • 404. At 9:19pm on 29 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    403 MAII

    ... and in study after study, when asked, 70 % of people consider themselves to be smarter than average.

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  • 405. At 9:22pm on 29 Oct 2009, seanspa wrote:

    Did anyone get part the first sentence of #403, "How typically European to try to lump most people into one big bracket denying their individuality" without rolling around on the floor laughing. If ever there was an arch-lumper it is MA. Typical european!

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  • 406. At 9:35pm on 29 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    402 RS
    No doubt.

    But my points were:

    (a) what David Letterman did involved consensual sex between fully mature adults; was neither criminally wrong, nor civilly wrong; cannot be construed to have been porn in any way; and should not be confused with, compared to, or likened to the criminal acts of others, let alone to the sexual assault of a 13 year old girl; and, really, is nobody's business except for him, his wife, and the women involved;

    (b) there is a lot of human sexuality that has absolutely nothing wrong with it; and

    (c) the real issue is abusive behaviour and the violence associated with the abusive behaviour - which would be wrong whether it involves sex or not - but some people seem to get so hung up on the abusive behaviour that they draw the conclusion that sex is wrong, rather than drawing the conclusion that it is the abusive and violent behaviour that is wrong.

    Suggesting that David Letterman is somehow associated with the pron industry is plainly ridiculous.

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  • 407. At 9:36pm on 29 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    403. MarcusAureliusII wrote:
    "How typically European to try to lump most people into one big bracket denying their individuality"


    Pot, say Hi to Kettle.

    You manage to lump clos to 500 million people from 27 different nations into one convenient bracket .... convenient for your narrow minded, paranoid ranting that is.

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  • 408. At 9:55pm on 29 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    @389 Marcus

    Then I assert that by your own thesis you do not have the maturity to question the European dogma you've been fed from childhood.

    Crap Marcus. You sprout immature dogma in every post! And besides, Einstein was German wasn't he? You know Germany, the country your lovely America was selling weapons to while it stood idly by watching them rounding up Jews.

    Also you criticise Chomsky by calling him names instead of debating his arguments - very mature. But what do we expect from someone who thinks they know everything about Europe by living in France for a couple years thirty years ago and constantly using the BBC!! Isn't 'crank' an American word?

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  • 409. At 10:05pm on 29 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    377. At 12:53pm on 29 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:
    "As we re-figth WWII yet again ..."

    Entrenched positions are unlikely to change on this topic, it's a waste of band width, so yes, change this topic.

    Europe vs. US, ditto. [note order is alphabetic not pejorative]
    Islam vs. West [or US] ditto in the vein so common here, but analysis of the “Clash of Civilizations” as seen in the US or the opinions on Americans might be a go.

    PS
    I.F. I regret not taking your good advice, especially as you were so kind as to repeat it
    I will endeavor to do better.


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  • 410. At 10:05pm on 29 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    #405 Seanspa and #407 RomeStu

    Yes Seanspa and RomeStu. Marcus is a living contradiction.

    How about this gem:
    After all, why shouldn't the best and brightest tell the rest of the population what to do, how to live, what is right and what is wrong? That is how European society is structured.

    It's a good job that it doesn't happen in America!!

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  • 411. At 11:31pm on 29 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    I know a great big lump of 500 million clones when I see one. Can I see enough commonality in all of their cultures, histories, views of life that making this sweeping generalization is valid? YES I CAN!

    deep in the cellar; you want me to argue Gnome Chumpsky's claim to fame, his preposterous theory of universal grammar? Fine! Here's his dumb thesis that challenged BF Skinnner and some expert criticism of it;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_grammar

    Chomsky's absurd theory of universal grammar is at the very least highly dubious. If it were true, all languages would have the same grammatical rules and few people would ever make gramatical mistakes. Whether you agree with him or not, his fame for most people came not from his supposed expertise as a linguist but because they liked his political views which are off the radar screen by the reference standards of the overwhelming majority of Americans. In this regard, he's like everyone else, no more qualified to hold an "expert" opinion than Paris Hilton. BTW, you can see how rediculous the Daily Mail's list of the top 100 geniuses alive today is. Just look at some of the people on it. One is Dolly Parton.

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  • 412. At 00:54am on 30 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    411. At 11:31pm on 29 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    ".... One is Dolly Parton."

    ________

    There's an old saying "If you're so smart how come you ain't rich?"

    She may or may not be a genius, but I'm not going to disparage her achievements. It's a fair guess that Dolly Parton is better fixed for retirement than either of us.

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  • 413. At 07:32am on 30 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    #411 Marcus

    Chomsky's absurd theory of universal grammar is at the very least highly dubious. If it were true, all languages would have the same grammatical rules and few people would ever make gramatical mistakes.

    So you don't understand Universal Grammar either. You should read the wiki link you posted. The second line says: "It [universal grammar] attempts to explain language acquisition in general, not describe specific languages." The emphasis is on language acquisition.

    Just like what IF said @412 "If you're so smart how come you ain't rich?"

    Quite!

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  • 414. At 07:42am on 30 Oct 2009, PeterFelten wrote:

    As a born and raised U.S. Citizen I have to agree that America does need to grow up. It seems to me that most young Americans today are focused on parties, sex, MTV, sports figures and celebrities. They dont know whats going on in the world and typically just focus on the present and their own self-centered desires. Most young Americans couldn't tell you who the US Vice President is, where England is on the map or what a Euro is. They can tell you the names of Brad Pitt's children or who Perez Hilton is.

    In America it seems as living on credit cards (which are easily available in the US) are the norm and if people over extend themselves and cant pay their debts, they just file for bankruptcy. In a short period of time the credit companies start giving them credit cards again and the process repeats itself. What have they learned? American retail is teaching our children to buy now and pay for it later. "Have what your parents have today without years of hard work and learning to save money."

    I worry for my Country and see us falling unless we change. American parents need to instill self control, prudence and financial responsibility in their Children. This will make better leaders and citizens for tomorrow. We also need to stop seeing ourselves as the "Top-Dog" in the world and humble ourselves a bit. We need to realize that unless we make major changes we could end up as the most bankrupt and ignorant nation in the world.

    I only have one suggestion for all you international readers out there....please, please, please dont try to become more American like. It's a mess over here and you have a better quality of life than we do. My Wife and I just returned from Germany, Austria and Italy. We were amazed at how much better people are doing in all aspects of life compared to those in the US.

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  • 415. At 11:49am on 30 Oct 2009, Muhammad Zaman wrote:

    "I only have one suggestion for all you international readers out there....please, please, please dont try to become more American like. It's a mess over here and you have a better quality of life than we do. My Wife and I just returned from Germany, Austria and Italy. We were amazed at how much better people are doing in all aspects of life compared to those in the US" - PeterFelten

    It's not all that bad Peter. Being someone who's lived in both the US and Europe I'd say that things are never as bleak or as rosy as they seem.
    Yes, many young kids in the US are prefer sports, parties, dating etc over foreign culture and geography, but it's no different here either. Many of them here think all of America is like New York, that all American women look like Pam Anderson (who is ironically Canadian), and they can do the more complex mathematics of sport team averages, but will have difficulty calculating change from $5.00 if you give them $4.50 (even less so if you give them something like $4.57).
    Yes, Americans like to live on debt and have healthcare problems, but they're also hardworking and often take pride in their work. They're sociable, open and inviting to foreigners. They embrace change more readily.
    Yes, Europeans work less, and enjoy life, but we have more taxes along with a higher cost of living. And with foreigners (my parents were immigrants from the Indian subcontinent), they can go from the UK's over-tolerance to non-integration, to completely excluding like the Swiss.
    As for healthcare, we get it for free, but sometimes with longer wait times and less technology than the US.
    My parents used to visit me in Boston during the summers when I was a single student at Harvard. They saw all the young kids on rollerskates by the Charles River, and thought the US was eternally sunny, warm and carefree. It's because they never visited financially strapped families during New England winters. The same misconceptions can also arise when one visits Europe on vacation.

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  • 416. At 2:24pm on 30 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    deep in the cellar;

    It is you that doesn't understand Gnome Chumsky's thesis of universal grammer. Its essence is that gramatical structure is hard wired into the human brain not a purely learned skill. It tries to find similarities among all languages in grammer to prove it. You can read the most widely held criticisms of it at the bottom of the blog. First of all, even if that were true which is it isn't, that is flawed science. For example, if all languages evolved from variants of a single root language where human civilization started, they could have similarities for that reason alone. The variants in gramatical structure among the thousands of languages that have been known throughout human history and the fact that most people are at least occasionally prone to make gramatical errors even in their native language strongly suggests this is wrong. Even in his brief 5 minute interview with William Crawley on BBC's NI broadcast Sunday Sequence, Chumsky made at least one gramatical error and I pointed it out on Crawley's blog site.

    IFfY, you typically changed the subjet. Money and brains don't always go together. Another piece of flawed logic. Dolly Parton many have many assets and I've seen her interviewed on TV many times. I don't put her in the same mental league even with Stephen Hawkings. Unless she has some special mental talents we don't know about, calliing her one of the 100 greatest living geniuses is stretching it more than a bit.

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  • 417. At 2:53pm on 30 Oct 2009, ladyzera wrote:

    I am amazed by the numerous spelling errors within the comments for this article. I wonder at times, if individuals were blinded by the emotion that was stirred up within them to the point where they neglected to spell-check their comments. These spelling errors tend to validate the individual's own level of maturity concerning the issue that was presented in the first place.

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  • 418. At 3:20pm on 30 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    416. MAII
    Nah, I wasn't changing the subject or even addressing the subject, really. The comment was intended primarily as levity.

    Same as

    "Unless she has some special mental talents we don't know about, calling her one of the 100 greatest living geniuses is stretching it more than a bit."

    could prompt many punch-lines, too, but I'm going to leave it alone.

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  • 419. At 3:48pm on 30 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    MA
    " Money and brains don't always go together. "

    That's what I keep telling you when you go on about your whine seller and your big empty mansion in the jersey suburbs. But at that time you try arguing money as a sign of success.
    So which is it?

    PS you just hate chompski because he has certain views about Israel you disagree with.

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  • 420. At 3:50pm on 30 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    417

    Oh no they didn't.
    Nice attempt.

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  • 421. At 5:38pm on 30 Oct 2009, greg00m wrote:

    Looking at how most countries operate and the resulting living conditions for their people, I'll take my adolescent American culture any day.

    And I wouldn't say much for Norway's standard of living because it depends on the US, UK, France, etc. consuming its oil, while Norway scolds us for our CO2 emissions.

    I wouldn't say much for Switzerland's lifestyle because it was built on plunder from the Nazis and now they make a living as a tax dodger haven for the world's wealthy, which hurts national governments around the world.

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  • 422. At 6:11pm on 30 Oct 2009, aynwasright wrote:

    Thanks be to God, the States now has an Administration that is finally accepting the responsibilities and consequences of being a superpower.

    Would the acceptance of responsibilities be before or in-between Obama's 18 holes? Unlike Europe, a lot of Americans are not so enamored with our current administration.

    Don't worry, world. The current administration is working as fast as they can to spend us into bankruptcy, and make us a socialist country. We may be growing up, but I don't think you will like the end result. Personally, I have grown used to a capitalistic society, where hard work and honesty is rewarded. I want to remain independent, not dependent on a faceless entity called "government" that doesn't know me, and could care less about me. I don't want to be given anything by my government. America's government has exactly 2 resonsibilities: Collect income tax and defend the country.

    I have lived outside of the U.S. But I was born here, this is my home. And for all it's faults, until the last election, I have not wanted to live anywhere else. With the Consitution being dismantled on a daily basis, and facing a 2-trillion dollar budget deficit, this country has become a place I no longer recognize. And it breaks my heart.

    James Kurth has it backwards. We were adults up until the 1960's. Then we turned into a bunch of whining babies who like Peter Pan, never wanted to grow up and take responsibility.

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  • 423. At 7:14pm on 30 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    fluffster

    "PS you just hate chompski because he has certain views about Israel you disagree with."


    No, I just hate him because he's no god damned good. He hates his country, he hates his heritage, he hates himself. Nobody would know better why he should be hated than he does.

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  • 424. At 7:27pm on 30 Oct 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    422 aynwasright
    "Unlike Europe, a lot of Americans are not so enamored with our current administration. "


    "alot of Americans" seems to still constitute a minority, according to the last election and the recent polls.
    Obama's approval has not dipped below 50% since he was elected .... so more people do like him. You are in a minority .... you can probably claim special rights if you like.

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  • 425. At 8:19pm on 30 Oct 2009, dceilar wrote:

    #423 Marcus on Chomsky

    No, I just hate him because he's no god damned good. He hates his country, he hates his heritage, he hates himself. Nobody would know better why he should be hated than he does.

    So you do hate him for his views on Israel then.

    BTW you still don't understand Universal Grammar Marcus. It's language acquisition.

    Dolly would understand!

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  • 426. At 8:50pm on 30 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Gnome Chumpsky's views on Israel are an abomination. Not because he is Jewish but because he is a civilized man who has taken just one more irrational position. I know why Europeans hate Jews, their scapegoating goes back well over 1000 years. Chumpsky says he suffered anti-semitic harassment as a child from Catholics in his neighborhood growing up in Philadelphia. I'm not a psychiatrist or psychoanalyst but perhaps that's why he hates Judism and being labeled a Jew as well as the existance of Israel as a Jewish state. Essentailly he hates himself. But that is only one reason for me hating him. He also hates America. His comments about 9-11 leave no doubt of it. He hates everything about the very thing that made it possible for him, his parents, and many tens of millions of other people both Jews and non Jews alike to come from all over the world to have a decent live in America or in fact to have any life at all. He's a fool. And if there was any doubt of it in my mind, the fact that so many Europeans admire him would dispel those doubts because they are also always wrong about nearly everything.

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  • 427. At 9:22pm on 30 Oct 2009, fairfieldia wrote:

    "tightly-buttoned, exaggerated deference, politeness and conformity" sounds like the common description of Britain to me, not like "The Heartland" at all. The Heartland I've lived in most of my life is down-to-earth and no-nonsense; much like the President himself... who is, after all, _from_ The Heartland. He may have lived many other places, but if your roots are here, then the experiences of living other places only makes you richer, fuller. That's the voice he speaks with and that's the voice to which American's responded.

    Popular culture _is_ irresponsible, rebellious, and feckless. But that's not the soul and strength of this country; it's fantasy and what American's really need to do is REALIZE THAT.

    As Suncrush wrote in early comments it's the "energy, openness, and self-confidence of the society" and "the economy's capacity to innovate and create anew" which moves this country _forward_. It is somewhat a "spirit of adolescence" or perhaps naivety, but as any grown, bull elephant will tell you, ultimately, wisdom, luck, and action make the difference. Yes, the bulls on Wall Street (different species, doesn't matter) crash and burn, and could take us all down. That's the way of con-men and slumbering dolts.

    What Americans need to do is take out heads out of the boob-tube and other electronic media, get off our fat asses, and DO! Despite how it looks through the TV, no one will "do" it for us... whatever "it" is.

    I don't think it can be argued; this President is one that DOES. That's The Heartland. That's what resonated with so many. If we, in the US, can't get off our butts and start DOING, and making wise choices with him at the helm, then perhaps our time has passed. It won't be because we have to "grow-up", though, but rather because we have our heads stuck so far up Madison Avenue that we don't recognize reality any more.

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  • 428. At 10:19pm on 30 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    422. At 6:11pm on 30 Oct 2009, aynwasright wrote:

    "Don't worry, world. The current administration is working as fast as they can to spend us into bankruptcy, and make us a socialist country."

    "America's government has exactly 2 resonsibilities: Collect income tax and defend the country."

    "With the Consitution being dismantled on a daily basis, ..."

    ________

    Ok, I'm game.

    1) Please define "socialism".

    2) What are all those other sections of the Constitution there for? You know, the ones that don't refer to raising income tax or making war?
    Or are those sections of the Constitution to be ignored?

    3) Please explain, precisely, which articles of the US Constitution were dismantled yesterday? The day before? The day before that? On what facts do you assert that any particular article of the US Constitution is, or has been, dismantled?

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  • 429. At 10:20pm on 30 Oct 2009, McJakome wrote:

    422. At 6:11pm on 30 Oct 2009, aynwasright wrote:

    “I have lived outside of the U.S. But I was born here, this is my home. And for all it's faults, until the last election, I have not wanted to live anywhere else. With the Consitution being dismantled on a daily basis, and facing a 2-trillion dollar budget deficit, this country has become a place I no longer recognize. And it breaks my heart.” [sic]

    I could almost have written this but with some changes. The constitutional dismantling set in with George W. Bush, whose favouritism to the big corporations and hostility to enforcement of standards have resulted in our situation today. Until 2 years ago he had the help of GOP controlled House and Senate. Since real control fell to the Democrats ONLY with Obama’s swearing in just a few months ago, this blame the Dems is misguided [at best].

    As to Constitutional degradation: Interference with the states on matters reserved to them: use of marijuana, regulation of marriage, medical treatment, death with dignity etc. Then there is the abuse of war powers, undermining the separation of church and state, and other unconstitutional efforts.

    I can not think of ONE unconstitutional effort by Obama, much less a list as long as GWB’s. That so many people fail to see this breaks MY heart.

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  • 430. At 10:21pm on 30 Oct 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    425. dceilar wrote:
    "Dolly would understand!"

    Was that Dolly the singer, or Dolly the sheep?

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  • 431. At 11:50pm on 30 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "Why Adolscent America Has to Grow Up."

    Remarkable that a nation that is still adolescent has in the short span of 233 years become the dominant society not just in its own time but in any time. Aren't you Europeans afraid that if America were to "grow up" as this thesis has it, that what you now perceive as a terrifying monster might not become an even far greater monster? Boo. It's Halloween.

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  • 432. At 01:59am on 31 Oct 2009, Leonardo_Da_Mondo wrote:

    Here's a thought (and an idea for a blog/movie). What if the New World did'nt exist as it does today - the native americans (South & North) repelled European invasion for another 150 years +/-. Would the world be a better place?

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  • 433. At 05:36am on 31 Oct 2009, midnightrage wrote:

    We're all doomed

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  • 434. At 07:59am on 31 Oct 2009, moionfire wrote:

    This is amazing.

    Europeans and the rest of the world claim americans are ignorant of the world and are informed by TV, movies, and stereotypes of the world.

    Yet no one laughs when a non-american makes insanely stupid things about american culture based on hollywood films, music, and TV??

    What in the world is wrong with people. Why the double standard? Whenever a hollywood movie comes out which distorts a historical event, people will scream that "americans will think it is true!!!"

    That comment is so denigrating but it is casually said. But in the same breath someone who has not stepped foot in the USA, or maybe spent a weeks vacation in the USA can give long lectures for hours about american society, its problems, and its lack of culture???

    I am sorry, but american pop culture/low brow culture is NO different than the worlds.

    The low brow "talk shows" game shows, and vapid sitcoms exist in all countries.

    Most of the reality shows in the USA are taken straight from vapid European shows.

    Just look at the most popular sitcoms, and talk shows and you will find they can even be more low brow.

    The idea that the USA CREATED vapid TV, gossip magazines, movies, and music is only a tool to elevate the worlds ego.

    If asked about any countries culture, people would talk about a myraid of things from books, historical events, art, food etc.

    Yet is completely rational to DEFINE america and american culture by chain restaurants, and mass media entertainment???

    I am not saying mass media and entertainment aren't part of the USA culture but to DEFINE it by things which most americans know are not reality???

    The world has no right to talk about american ignorance about the world when many are informed by TV and films...

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  • 435. At 08:01am on 31 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    "I have lived outside of the U.S. But I was born here, this is my home. And for all it's faults, until the last election, I have not wanted to live anywhere else. With the Consitution being dismantled on a daily basis, and facing a 2-trillion dollar budget deficit, this country has become a place I no longer recognize. And it breaks my heart."

    And YOUR side accuses the other of taking the Kool aid;)

    Sorry but anyone who can come up with as many obviously "(fill in with expetive and derogatory comment on intelligence)" comments about the recent history of amerika is probably so deficient in reasoning that new laws restricting their rights to vote should be considered.
    (only joking)

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  • 436. At 08:23am on 31 Oct 2009, moionfire wrote:

    Another bone of contention is the idea that being "mature" is too be more European- whatever that means.

    It really is fascinating the condescension a non-american can get away as long as it is directed towards people of the USA.

    Many Europeans are fascinated or even offended that americans speak casually with strangers and say things like "have a nice day" or "how are you" - which are rhetorical sayings meant as a greeting(for the most part).

    They will even go as far as say it is "fake politeness"- something an american would never be able to say about another countries weird sayings or greetings WITHOUT being attacked and called "an ugly unworldly american."

    They are allowed to openly dismiss things as simply the USA being "immature" or not knowing the "correct way to interact with people."

    I am sorry but an american could never get away with such self absorption and get away with it.

    The assumption is all american behaviors are not a product of culture but an absense of culture- or at least not the "correct culture."

    I find many European,Asian, or African practices or modes of interaction UNappealing but I would never say it is because they "simply don't know the correct way" or that it is a product of a "lack of culture and immaturity."

    The ugly american is one who screams and yells because the country they are visiting has a different culture. They act as if the actions and culture is done to amuse them or even spite them. It is a high level of self absorption. They are rightly laughed at.

    Yet Europeans or other foreigners and quickly dismiss or reduce every American mannerism, belief, sayings, vocabulary, and general daily life in the most simplistic explanation or theory.

    For example americans don't like "soccer" because they don't want to be engaged with the world- because as you know it is unnatural to not like soccer- or shall I say football(how dare americans call football soccer).

    Americans are casual with strangers because they don't form "real realtionships" and are simply bieng artificial - it isn't because politeness in the USA is deeply ingrained in being "nice and pleasant."

    What makes it worse is you get this unsolicited sympathy where people sigh and say they pity americans for not "seeing the light".

    The USA has many problems which can be partly fixed by looking at other countries. But sometimes the USA needs to look within.

    The truth is the same with other countries. But thats not what people think. They think the USA is inherently messed up and that Europe simply has "some problems" but at the core the society is not inherently bad or evil.

    The USA should always show deference to Europe, but the world including Europe does not have to show any cultural respect to the USA- or at least not be forced on a never ending quest to be more american in order to be "a more perfect nation/culture."

    I find NO inherent "maturity" or "authenticity" in being cynical or indiffernt to strangers. I find NO inherent "maturity" or "authenticity in being less American- whatever that means".

    This doesn't mean the USA doens't have problems it just that I don't think the USA is inferior to any nation.

    Please keep you unsolicited sympathy to your self.

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  • 437. At 1:02pm on 31 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    436
    Minion.
    "I am sorry but an american could never get away with such self absorption and get away with it."

    So you are saying that MA2 doesn't post anymore?

    Minion americans spend more money on' finding themselves ' than on health care.
    If America was more like other countries in Europe there would be less complaints. the world can see america for the nation of squabbling brats when they see how hard the nation for everyone bitches abut spending on health care on social security.(not the american version os SS which is possibly worse than others.

    .
    that fake politeness is encountered by many.
    So polite they will hold a line of 10 people up to make polite chit chat and look at strangers brat photos

    Now the one being talked to considers it polite but the rest think " get on with it"

    So which is more polite.
    To say the pleasantries and move on or engage for ages.;)

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  • 438. At 1:05pm on 31 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    PS it is the americans that are cynical or health care global warming and the world being spherical,the concept of evolution, plastics being found to be poisonous and any other scientific data that says less profits.

    OH sorry you are right. their Optimism is what makes all these theories and worries fade.
    because Opitmism alone will cool the planet. while flattening it and making the plastics safe AND stop evolution.

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  • 439. At 3:06pm on 31 Oct 2009, AverageJoe wrote:

    "Why 'adolescent America' has to grow up?"

    Because it's got to stop being a bully picking on much, much smaller countries.

    And we'd all take it more seriously as a bully if it could actually win a post WWII war once in a while (other than on made-for-tv movies) - eg not losing in Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    My mistake, you did win in Grenada and Panama, but I really meant countries with at least five people in the armed forces.

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  • 440. At 4:38pm on 31 Oct 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    IllegalLeftTurn;

    In 1991 America handily defeated the fourth largest army in the world in six weeks of bombing and four days of ground fighting. For nearly 40 years America went head to head against a nation armed with over 20,000 nuclear weapons and figured out a way to destroy it without blowing up the world in the process. Vietnam and North Korea were actually only two of many battles in that war. The US may not have won those battles against the Soviet evil empire but it did win the war.

    In the 2003 war in Iraq there were actually two wars, the first to destroy Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime which the US won, and the second waged against the subsequent insurgency which it has not won yet. That war has taken far too long, been fought much too timidly and its outcome is of much less strategic importance to the US since chaos in the middle east would be no direct threat to American security despite what pundits say.

    The war in Afghanistan is not over yet. The outcome is still in doubt.

    Perhaps if and when America does "grow up" and becomes as cynical as Europe, it will simply crush all opposition without regard to the cost human life as the result of "collateral damage" and be ten or a hundred times the monster Europeans paint it as now. I could live with that.

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  • 441. At 5:39pm on 31 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    "In 1991 America handily defeated the fourth largest army in the world in six weeks of bombing and four days of ground fighting. "

    REALLY?????????

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  • 442. At 5:50pm on 31 Oct 2009, moionfire wrote:

    fluffytale,

    Americas healthcare debate has nothing to do with europeans, you or any other non-american. If you find the debate annoying tune out.

    This obnoxious and false sense of investment in things like American healthcare and social policies is so obssessive.

    If anything it is again the self absorption which leads people to feel personally slated if americans don't follow European or world practices/culture/social programs.

    Only the US governmnent and US business care and interfere in European(and the rest of the world)internal policies.

    In general no one goes on rants and lectures if European culture and government are different than their views. And if they do their isn't this obnoxious sense of insult that they are being different to spite them.

    Americas foreign policy, economic, and environmental policies indeed DO affect the world. But most of the obssessive sneering and annoyance have to do with things which are do NOT affect you or the world.

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  • 443. At 5:56pm on 31 Oct 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    "Why 'adolescent America' has to grow up"

    Because it'll end up in Borstal if it carries on as it is.

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  • 444. At 8:42pm on 31 Oct 2009, AverageJoe wrote:

    MarcusAureliusII: Are you European? How come you're using a Roman, i.e. Italian name? US history too short to have interesting names?

    Moionfire: The healthcare debate has something to do with many non-Americans, considering three-quaters of the world's pharmaceutical companies are Swiss, French, German or British. Also Canadian provinces, eg Ontario, had to change their healthcards to include photos, because so many Americans were coming across the border and fradulently get free Canadian health care.

    Also why are anti-foreign Americans using the BBC? Trying having a civilized conservation on one of your websites instead, like FOX. Don't want to listen to non-Americans moaning? Use an American site then.

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  • 445. At 00:19am on 01 Nov 2009, McJakome wrote:

    444. At 8:42pm on 31 Oct 2009, Left_Turn wrote:
    "...Moionfire: The healthcare debate has something to do with many non-Americans, considering three-quaters of the world's pharmaceutical companies are Swiss, French, German or British. ..."

    I have a problem with these companies [and the American ones too] charging much more for their products in the American market than in other wealthy developed countries' markets.

    Their excuse is that they need the money for reasearch and development of new drugs, and the other countries won't let them charge as much as the ultracapitalist USA.

    I think we should "grow up" and pass a law that the US market must be charged no more than the other advanced countries.

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  • 446. At 00:23am on 01 Nov 2009, moionfire wrote:

    Left-turn,

    Wow, having to put photos on cards must of been a huge disturbance for the Canadians.

    And how are the worlds(non-american) pharmaceuticals adversely affected by the healthcare industry in the USA? Are they losing money or research?

    And how does that affect the average European?? Are their cost going up because of the lack of comprehensive health care?? Are they having to decrease their treatments because of it.

    If not, then it does NOT affect them. And while non-americans can have and say their opinions becoming obnoxious and taking it personal(mostly just used as a vehicle to vent about the USA)is unnecessary.

    As far as anti-foreign sentiment. I have not seen it. People just don't want to be talked down to and don't want unsolicited sympathy by those who think to be "mature" is to be European(or at least non american).

    Furthermore this blog is about the USA, why wouldn't americans come here and discuss- especially when it leads to misinformation and sweeping generalizations??

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  • 447. At 02:38am on 01 Nov 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    fluff;

    ""In 1991 America handily defeated the fourth largest army in the world in six weeks of bombing and four days of ground fighting. "

    REALLY?????????"

    YES REALLY!!!!!!!!!

    "MarcusAureliusII: Are you European? How come you're using a Roman, i.e. Italian name?"

    Because I knew it would bother you.

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  • 448. At 05:43am on 01 Nov 2009, moionfire wrote:

    "It is usually forgotten that this popular culture is chiefly popular with the young - particularly those young who are still irresponsible, rebellious and feckless...If American leaders want to lead the leaders of other countries, they will have to act like mature adults, not like the attention-seeking celebrities of American popular culture."

    This quote is shockingly idiotic. The author is assuming three things:

    One is that american popular culture IS more than simply pop culture but actual American culture.

    It assumes that popular culture is consumed by American adults but not Europeans(and the rest of the world), or at least american adults consume it at a higher rate.

    And it blatantly says that american adults act as "attentin-seeking celebrities." Or possibly Americans have to transform our popular culture because people around the world are too stupid to know it is not real.

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  • 449. At 1:55pm on 01 Nov 2009, joe6pak wrote:

    Nothing is as simple as "Just say no" or just grow up. I have lived in the USA for almost 70 years. I was born as the Nazi Army was invading Poland. I have witnessed a lot of good and a lot of evil done by my country over the years. Sometimes I think " How can we be so stupid ?" And then I marvel at the pictures from Hubble. It is quite a mix.

    But taking a step back and saying "What is wrong here?" I am convinced that it is a general lack of Critical Thinking Ability in the general public. Just look at Israel spitting in our faces while taking our money.

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  • 450. At 5:56pm on 01 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Lol MArcus. it doesn't bother me that you prove to all what a stupid guy you are.
    You are well practised. It does bother me when you advocate crimes against humanity(which you have done plenty of times including recommendations to blow up certain vital civilian infrastructure in Gaza) . but admitting you are a few buds short of a bowl is no problem.



    448 minion.
    Look dear not so bright.
    "It assumes that popular culture is consumed by American adults but not Europeans(and the rest of the world), or at least american adults consume it at a higher rate."

    No it assumes that AMERICAN popular culture is consumed by AMERICAN adults but not EUROPEAN (rest etc) , or at least American adults consume it ( AMERICAN popular culture) at a higher rate.

    You seem confused.

    And maybe I am, but surely a not English speaking guy in Spain, lets say, would absorb less AMERICAN pop culture than his own countries Pop culture.I would suggest it was quite Obvious that americans adults absorb more american pop culture due to proximity to it than any other nation.
    (with the exception of those ever present wannabemercins that wear Stetsons and tassels and think they embody elvis)
    Do you assume they have none?
    That they get more American than Spanish programs.


    "One is that american popular culture IS more than simply pop culture but actual American culture."

    No they say it is American POP culture, Fine,but it is not the same as British pop culture Ditch pop culture or ahfganistan pop culture.
    It is american. Accept it live with it.
    Britain is too small a country to have quite so many jacked up truck driving atv riding Monster truck rally "cultural events" . but they in the spirit of things do get the odd show to see what america is all about.

    They do have crappy stock car races though. bangers in mash.

    449 joe there is a lack of CTA

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  • 451. At 6:18pm on 01 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    446 , 448, 442minion.
    " Wow, having to put photos on cards must of been a huge disturbance for the Canadians"

    why the hell should other nations have to deal with YOUR problems.
    That is so Unamerican you should be rounded up as a commie and put in Gitmo.
    How unpatriotic of you. what a left wing dingbat are you????
    I a Proud and patriotic american say lets fix our own problems and stuff the idea that we can let Canada fix up our people., because we are too cheap to be charitable.

    Other countries pay for their doctors to be trained . they use their people and hospitals to train at rates way cheaper than the USA doctors.
    Many of them then decide to take the training to the UstatesA and ignore the taxes that subsidised their training.
    This is called the Brain drain and is very well known, Except to IGNORANT americans like you.
    Over patriotic but at the same time really Not patriotic americans.

    This effects EVERY country that trains doctors.
    So 'deep muddy pit 'off if you think they have no right to say something.



    Minion the really very un observant

    "Americas healthcare debate has nothing to do with europeans, you or any other non-american. If you find the debate annoying tune out. "

    Again you right wing nutter. do learn a little before you open your keypad.
    I am american and live in Oregon.
    Opps you should feel pretty stupid around now.


    "As far as anti-foreign sentiment. I have not seen it."

    Then again how unobservant of you.
    did you read MA posts?
    Probably not then.
    He does write quite bit.
    But now you reckon that with your great powers of observation that we should assume you are right on the other issues of life.

    lol don't try to make me laugh.


    "In general no one goes on rants and lectures if European culture and government are different than their views. And if they do their isn't this obnoxious sense of insult that they are being different to spite them. "

    So you missed the "freedom fries" and that sort of stuff.
    most americans don't know there is a world out there that is why they make no comment.
    But I will tell you that americans spend a LOT of time telling all that the lord is on their side and that nations with abortions should not allow it . They send over anti abortion missionaries to europe.
    they criticise the pinko commie socialist of europe for having death panels etc.

    WE slag THE WHOLE WORLD OFF DAILY.
    EVERY ONE NOT AMERICAN IS CRAP WE ARE TRHE BEST EVER!!!!!????

    They make crap up about nations to fit their crappy arguments to ignore the poor and stick with no health care for all.
    They will help spread disease as they are unable too even begin to deal with the fact that some of Us are here and have no insurance and whats more some that were always here. always paying taxes to fun rubbish they never saw the benefits from and they have no health care.


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  • 452. At 10:21pm on 01 Nov 2009, moionfire wrote:

    Fluffytale,

    The USA is not responsible if countries overseas don't pay their doctors(or engineers) enough. Neither are they responsible if they tax their citizens too highly either.

    Most of your comments are simply rants because you are anti-american(you are regardless if you are american- which I doubt).

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  • 453. At 3:01pm on 02 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    452

    minion. you don't get to choose who is american. You can doubt but there are a few that know I am.

    "Not paying enough "

    Doctors in the UK live better than most of the UK population. they are in the higher pay scale of the society.
    You say it doesn't effect other nations.
    Now when shown it does you act like a spoilt brat and try to move the goal posts.
    GROW UP.

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  • 454. At 10:57pm on 02 Nov 2009, Matt wrote:

    I'm so puzzled about the way people see the U.S. globally, especially you Brits. And I'm not one of those Americans that's never been out of the country. Far from it. I should make it clear that the following rant is directed at the commenters here, not Mardell. I like you, Mardell. You're a smart guy.

    Now, I'm a New Englander, and I understand quite well our reputation within the U.S. Perhaps my point of view is skewed in some way. I also don't want to sound like I'm moaning about some perceived injustice, because I understand that the U.S. is preeminent in the world in some ways (although I don't feel like I reap the benefits of that... Europeans, compare your social safety net to ours).

    What I'd like to get at is the idea that America dictates something and the world has to listen. Really? When was the last time that happened? Tony Blair goes into Iraq with Bush? As though Britain - or anyone - would have suffered if he hadn't. The war was Bush's fault, it's true, and therefore our fault, and we're sorry, and we're trying to fix that now, and it's hard because we now have no money, and we hope you realize that.

    When America states a policy preference, does France or Germany listen? Russia? China? Brazil? Anyone? Bueller? I've never spoken to a foreigner in America or elsewhere who was afraid to say how stupid everyone thinks we are, and again, I know a lot of non-Americans.

    People listen to American music across the world, and that's supposed to be a sign of our imperialism? Nobody forced you to listen to it, guys. People in other countries see us as this youth-centric, oversexed, party-obsessed society? Uh, have you been here? Because it's pretty clear to everyone that the kids in Germany and Spain are a thousand times more hedonistic than us. Check that out, British - you have a better exchange rate.

    Mardell's talking about a "tightly-buttoned" American society as he sees it, and how that surprises him. There are a lot of things about America that surprise foreigners. Why is that? Could it be that most of them really don't know that much about America? I used to be a waiter, and when you're a waiter in the States you usually make about $2.50 or $3 per hour before taxes. 95% of your income is tips. The place I worked at drew a big foreign crowd, and lo and behold, almost nothing in tips from any of them in the three years I worked there. For a bunch of people who complain about Americans and their cultural ignorance, that's a pretty big thing to neglect learning about. I'm not saying America is innocent. I'm just saying everyone else is guilty too. Only we get the bad rep.

    I'm only posting this because I never get a chance to say it to anyone in person. As an individual American, you have no leverage in argument. You, personally, ruined the world. Well, non-Americans, you try living in this country. At least you guys have freakin health insurance.

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  • 455. At 5:10pm on 03 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    454 you have noticed what happened to countries that did not go along with the USA.
    Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Venezuala, Russia.

    They get sanctioned.

    You seem to get it but then you complain t hat others point it out. You are not an example of the Average american, just travelling shows that.
    but the rest of your post is pretty average.
    all complains that you are misunderstood.

    But I see that you wish the world to know that the land of prosperity and all given an equal chance would allow wage scales that are no where near enough to live on healthily where they use collage as a way of creating a scale of wage slaves.

    Sorry you pretend to be reasonable, but you are not really.

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  • 456. At 5:21pm on 03 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    PS the reason they have health care systems is because they did not spend their whole time saying "screw your commie ideals!"

    They accepted the criticism of not helping and helped.
    If you want america to not be looked at like a bunch of overbearing bullies try not acting like it.


    If you want more than 3 dollars an hour for waiting don't come to a brtish run sighte then complain that YOUR and MY people , the american people are the ones that keep saying No to minimum wage increases. that defend criminal pay rates for restaurant staff.
    The whole treatment of workers in the USA is DISGUSTING FOR A FIRST WORLD NATION.

    Stop Bitching that Forners see the real america better from the outside sometimes than those on the inside.
    We see the dream state you live in thinking you are in the land of freedom.

    you mention Euro bloody history. earlier.
    well what of it. Was america any less bloodthirsty at that time. as you slaughtered the locals you found.
    Do give up you righteous indignation until you are willing to truly look at your nation for what it is.

    As opposed to pretending you do.

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  • 457. At 6:56pm on 03 Nov 2009, Alvaro Piaggio wrote:

    First of all I gotta say I'm not american. I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I've visited many countries, and had the privilege of living in the US for a few months a few years ago. I was in many places in the US and met many people from different backgrounds in that country, I just have to say that find it funny how some europeans view and critize the US - if anyone needs to grow up and read a little history are them. The US has been for a long time one of the leading countries in biomedical and pharmaceutical research; IT and many other areas of science and technology. The only reason why the US may be lagging behind nowadays (or it is not where it used to be a couple of decades ago) is not because it is not "growing up"; it is because it is "maturing" with the likes of Obama and their big government recipes. If maturing means stop being hopeful, idealistic, a little naive and leaving behind their entrepreneur spirit, then I think Americans should should remain "adolescents" for ever. After reading so many comments and the same broken record of "greedy Americans destroying the world, starting wars and taking from the poor" I can only say that most criticism towards the US is not based on a deep understanding of american society, world history or in-depth analysis of current events (If this were the case, then we would always have intectually satisfying arguments). This criticism (that most of the times evolves into rabid anti-americanism) is in great part due to people believing what they see on TV and read on mainstream newspapers (both american and european): an image carefully crafted by cold war propaganda that has prevailed to our days in the form of leftist intelligentsia;left wing politicians that need someone to direct their rants and can no longer use a failed system as an example to follow (e.g. communism, socialism); and some resented europeans elitists that need to find someone to blame the world's problems because the simply can't deal with their own.
    As for being "self-centered", please... Does this mean that Russia, China, the UK and many other world powers act seflessly?. Please!!!! I want to be colonized by a European country because they will always do things EVERYONE will love (note the sarcasm there). All countries look after their interests FIRST; and that is exactly what the US should be doing (and not going around apologizing to everyone so that they have the backing of corrupt good-for-nothing institutions such as the UN). As for the American people, I have to say that americans may not be perfect or the best people in the world, but they are certainly open, kind, and great to work and do business with. Hollywood, reality TV or even some news networks don't show what US society really is. Somebody already said it better than i could think of:
    "It is a damn indictment of the intelligence and wisdom of much of the world if people can't see that American popular media is entertainment, not a accurate essay of American culture"
    There is a great book by a French author called "Anti-americanism" that explain with facts and clear language the absurdity of the anti american sentiment (which is what inspired many many of the comments in this page). Everyone should pick that up over the biography of some undeserving nobel prize winner's biography that came out recently.

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  • 458. At 7:41pm on 03 Nov 2009, Alvaro Piaggio wrote:

    fluffytale

    Venezuela is not being sanctioned. It is actually being praised for holding "fair" elections by the EU and Jimmy Carter. They keep selling their oil to the US and funding terrorists and dictators all over. But that's another discussion...

    Not raising minimum wages or not providing universal health care are not terrible things. They are actual very rational decisions. I won't go into details on this, but just remember that whenever the government gets too involved in the economy, whether it is with direct spending or excesive regulation, it just makes things harder for everyone.

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  • 459. At 8:23pm on 03 Nov 2009, Matt wrote:

    455. fluffytale

    My friend, I think about these things for a living. Do not tell my I'm unreasonable. In my humble opinion, it's the ideologues on the far right and far left who are unreasonable. You appear to be one of them. I've read your posts... if I wasn't such a nice guy I would say that you are crazy. Maybe you're just angry. That can be excused. What can't be excused is your tone.

    First of all, the U.S. doesn't sanction people, the U.N. does. The U.S. can set up trade barriers with other countries, but they can't force others to.

    Iran: there are sanctions against Iran because they are violating nonproliferation conventions. Their leaders have expressed their preference that Israel be obliterated. Speaking as a person who does not believe any whole nation should be obliterated, sanctioning Iran seems like a fairly good idea.

    Russia: there are no sanctions against Russia. I don't really know what you're talking about here. When Russia and the U.S. disagree, Russia doesn't suffer. Practically speaking, it actually probably helps Medvedev's government when that happens.

    Venezuela: the U.S. disagrees with Chavez in a number of ways but that hasn't stopped trade between the two countries. Also, this is a man who's trying to drum up an unholy alliance between several countries who enjoy some of the worst human-rights ratings in the world (Belarus, Iran, North Korea etc). If Venezuela is suffering, it's not because it's going against the U.S. It's because they're doing crackpot things. The whole South American arms race thing that Chavez started isn't helping the hemisphere either.

    As for your minimum wage points, yes, the Federal minimum wage should probably be raised significantly. But I live in Massachusetts which has a comparatively high minimum wage, and a living wage, and generally a much more friendly situation for workers than other parts of the country. The minimum wage for service professionals is a cultural convention. In the U.S., we tip. That's just how it goes. Do you tip, fluffytale, or do you leave 5% and then loudly blame unequal distribution of wealth on the government?

    I'd like to make a suggestion: if you're so angry about all this stuff, why don't you do something about it? I used to feel the way you do... when I was sixteen years old. So I got into the career I'm in. Lots of people complain, and some, like you, complain very loudly, but never do a thing. Maybe you made a colorful sign and walked in a column of loud, incoherent protestors. But what have you really done?

    I applied to graduate school in public policy, which is not what I studied in undergrad. I paid for it with loans that I got from the Federal government. The interest rate is low. The government forgives 20% of your loans if you go into public service after graduation. All this to help me go out and make the changes I'd like to see. I have no patience for people like you. You think something's wrong? Change it. It's that easy. This institutional resistance to change you seem to have such a big problem with only exists because people like you don't have the wherewithal to get up out of their chairs. Who could possibly take you left-wing ideologues seriously? You love to point out problems - sometimes you love to make up problems - but you never offer any specific ways to fix them. You just yell.

    So don't tell me I'm unreasonable when you're up there blowing a gasket about how my country doesn't love Iran enough.

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  • 460. At 03:22am on 04 Nov 2009, rgar wrote:

    I had a similar perception of Americans when I lived there - mostly good people, but very conformist and uncritical. As for maturity, I do think the US as a nation is less mature than in the past, but that is also true of most Western nations. The US, Britain and many others have become addicted to foreign credit, Italy has banana-republic levels of debt, etc. In the meantime, other parts of the world are growing up; most Western nations could learn a lot about prudent financial management from Chile for example.
    American popular culture does project a very distorted image abroad - there's the lawless Far West image, the streets-are-paved-with-gold image, etc.

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  • 461. At 3:28pm on 04 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    MAtt I mke lessw than 10 grand a year and when I DO eat out I tip 20 %

    so go to where you belong.
    ;)

    458
    "Not raising minimum wages or not providing universal health care are not terrible things."

    well then Bog off.
    if you really have nothing to say.
    I have heard other ignorant people say the same thing with as much reasoning as you. IE NONE.


    PS america has been trying to sanction Venezuela.Say boo to the states face the threat of sanctions.
    Just incase you didn't hear that.



    MATT

    screw my tone. I hear people saying Kill that guy and this and let that one die I say it pretty clear.
    Stuff you.
    So hypocrite here we go.
    read on

    ' if I wasn't such a nice guy I would say that you are crazy. "

    No you just did. but you think you are more polite?


    "First of all, the U.S. doesn't sanction people, the U.N. does. The U.S. can set up trade barriers with other countries, but they can't force others to."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctions

    go look .and learn.


    " violating nonproliferation conventions. "

    what like Israel , Pakistan,India?

    When did he say Obliterate?
    Fool

    " Russia: there are no sanctions against Russia"

    No but there was when it was part of the soviet Union.
    there were all sorts of trade barriers and charges.
    Go back to checking the ENGLISH , meaning of sanctions (not your interpretation of the word)


    Venezuala has to deal with SOMEONE>
    after all GW spent ages threatening them.
    trying his best to raise the anger.
    So stop pretending it was always "them"

    Oh have you seen the Human rights leaders of the gulf?
    great company.


    "I'd like to make a suggestion: if you're so angry about all this stuff, why don't you do something about it? I used to feel the way you do..."


    Come around my place I will do something real de-constructive.
    Do you know ANYTHING about me?

    Do you live with that american Dream state that YOU ARE SO IMPORTANT YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

    HA
    I doubt you would be any more missed than me.


    MATT how old are you. You sound like some high school brat

    " I have no patience for people like you. You think something's wrong? Change it. It's that easy. "

    Really change the whole economic and environmental outlook of america.


    HOW big is your ego.
    I have no time for ignorant fools that think SO simplistically

    " This institutional resistance to change you seem to have such a big problem with only exists because people like you don't have the wherewithal to get up out of their chairs. "

    No it is because fools like you keep spouting the same old crap.

    Pathetic attempt there MATT

    funny there used to be a MATT on this thread. (well really was two) who was almost as thick as you.)
    " but you never offer any specific ways to fix them. You just yell."


    The you should have read more.
    I have offered plenty of Ideas.
    not JUST crits of others personality.

    But then that's you speciality.

    You have yet to suggest anything but that some are nasty to the USA.
    NOT ONE REAL SUGGESTION.

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  • 462. At 2:29pm on 05 Nov 2009, Alvaro Piaggio wrote:

    "well then Bog off.
    if you really have nothing to say.
    I have heard other ignorant people say the same thing with as much reasoning as you."

    I did say something. I said, in other words, that raising minimum wages and giving free healthcare to everyone, hurts the economy. These things do not necessarily give ppl better standards of living or better healthcare (in the case of healthcare, it may actually make it worse).
    But hey! it seems like even if I had quoted Friedman, Sowell or Hayek and writen a paper on it, I'd still be an ignorant fool to you simply because I don't share your left wing ideas.

    "HOW big is your ego.
    I have no time for ignorant fools that think SO simplistically"

    And there we go again... If you don't have time for "ignorant fools who think so simplistically", then why do you post so much to reply to such fools? Name calling is the ultimate weapon of someone who can't come up with reasonable arguments. Really sad.

    "PS america has been trying to sanction Venezuela"
    Trying to sanction is not the same as sanctioning. Anyhow, last I saw, Obama was bonding with Chavez in the Americas summit a couple of months ago (I didn't hear any threats to Venezuela, nor any criticism towards Chavez's corrupt and tyrannic regime)

    Oh and fluffy, please move out of the US, seriously. If the people, attitudes, culture and ideologies found there are so grotesque to you , then you should move. I'd recommend Europe, but besides the universal health care thing, they are too capitalistic (nasty, huh?). But no worries, I have a few suggestions for you: North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba... You'll live like a king, as long as you agree with the governments. Hey! You can even stay at my place, free of charge! here you'll be able to experience first hand the "growing up" of a country that was somewhat stable a decade ago and now is marching straight into the benevolent hands of Venezuela's socialism. You'll love it, we have free healthcare for EVERYONE (as long as you don't mind mediocre doctors, extremely crowded hospitals and waiting for 4 weeks for an xray), a minimum wage that is quite great for a developing country (as long as you don't mind working with crappy companies) and the best part is that our wonderful president has kicked out the blood thirsty americans (closed down the embassy, isn't that great?)!!! Woohoo!!! But of course, these pigs stopped trading with our country after that and now all the ppl that worked in the clothing industry selling their products to self-centered ignorant american pigs are out of work (but no worries, there will be a government program funded by drug money that will keep these people going... at least for year or so).

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  • 463. At 3:37pm on 05 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    I did say something. I said, in other words, that raising minimum wages and giving free healthcare to everyone, hurts the economy. These things do not necessarily give ppl better standards of living or better healthcare (in the case of healthcare, it may actually make it worse).
    But hey! it seems like even if I had quoted Friedman, Sowell or Hayek and writen a paper on it, I'd still be an ignorant fool to you simply because I don't share your left wing ideas.


    No you are an ignorant fool because you insist that a universal health care would cost more.
    despite the evidence that America's (who's health care is NOT universal) is the most expensive .

    So yes I would call you a fool.
    You can quote who you like.
    I just posted a lol to MA. because I said Americans would be driving Italian cars soon.
    Guess what?
    which one of your "experts" noticed that, back over a year and a half ago.
    ???
    Comon. show me the quote.

    "friedman" by the way has been discussed here before.
    Highly over rated. generally behind the curve.
    Thought the war going to be a rip roaring success but changed when the mood of the country changed.


    You continued rants about me calling people names do not take away the fact that you have only repeated your anti european views with nothing to back your argument up with.
    Your views on health care systems of the world are as ignorant and thick as can be.

    Yu Offer NO evidence but suggest that you do.
    show me
    show mw the higher life expectancy in Britain over your american lives.

    These stats are not debated by anyone with a brain because they are there. quite clear. No dispute.
    Britains live longer than americans.
    they have less babies die.
    you can lie and complain about my manner. but again. the bog comes to mind.

    I personally am fed up with you lying republicans pretending to be decent people.

    Pretending you care about the lives of others.
    Pretending you are compassionate.
    I find taking word like compassion and turning them into meaningless words is WAY more offensive that a few names.
    That you resort to the ever present americn phrase spouting out of right wing mouths.
    If you don't like it go to another country.
    is just fine.
    I have been told that a lot by the right in america.
    and they get the same answer you will get.


    YOU DO NOT REPRESENT ALL AMERICANS.
    Bog off

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  • 464. At 3:39pm on 05 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    How to
    " change the world "

    get a job as a faceless powerless minion of the gov, (taking tax payers money for being less than intelligent) getting paid holidays your fellow country men cannot afford to take (if they were given the option).
    all the time complaining about "socialism" while working for the Gov.


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  • 465. At 4:25pm on 05 Nov 2009, LucyJ wrote:

    My parents, who were hippies in the 60's, have always told me that their generation was the beginning of a "me" generation, led on by such bands as the Doors "We want the world and we want it now!" and other bands, also led on by a culture that promoted self-enjoyment and fulfillment, as well as lots of drugs, alcohol and wild parties. It was a time in history when teenagers and young adults rebelled against their parents' values. Suddenly, kids didn't care about what their parents wanted, they only wanted what they wanted. The USA was forever changed by this generation. But this was also a time of protests for civil rights/ equality/peace and against wars/big govt. The drugs of choice were marijuana and LSD, although heroin was also used by some.

    The 70's drug of choice was cocaine and the music of choice was disco dancing. People just wanted to have fun still and live life up, partying toward the wee hours in clubs. There were lots of sequins and bizarre costumes. People were less rebellious than the 60's, yet it was still a "me" culture.

    The 80's was when I was born. My parents tell me it was a cooling off period, but that people were beginning to enjoy more financial success, as shown in movies about the "Valley Girls." Kids cared more about their parents again. The drug of choice was cocaine and crack, as well as alcohol. Other drugs were used, but those were the most prevalent. There was still a "me" culture. But the best thing happened in 85', when the Bears won the Super Bowl! Go Bears!

    The 90's was when things began to get more real. I remember the 90's as awesome. The grunge music with Kurt Cobain telling it like it was and Bill Clinton, having affairs, but keeping USA's affairs in order. I think the 90's began to be less about "me" and more about "us." Unfortantely, the drug of choice in the 90's was heroin and Kurt Cobain and others died. This wasn't only an American problem as movies like "Trainspotting" were made.

    The 00's have brought us back to the "me" generation, which has been passed on to kids through intensive advertisements about products which benefit "me." Advertising companies want you to focus on you, so that they sell their products and make people feel like they are the only ones that count.

    But the wars, swine flu and recession have opened our eyes. Americans are beginning to care about "us" as a whole, rather than "me." Suddenly, our neighbors, our friends, our family and us are in wars abroad and at home, we are losing jobs. Suddenly, Americans are not caring so much about products and items, instead, we are beginning to see the true meaning of life, which is having the basic things. We see people in our country hurting and we see people in other countries hurting. We cannot help everyone, but we must try to help who we can. Americans are beginning to understand that we are a part of the world and that we care more about people than we do richness.

    Every person has an adolescent stage, so why shouldn't a country have one, too? I agree that in the 00's, we were very childish and used to getting our way, but USA is changing into a country that wants to be more self-reliant and less about things/objects. USA is no longer a "me" culture. Now, we are an "us" culture again. People from other countries would be surprised about how much we have changed and how we are not near as superficial as they may think.

    As Bob Dylan said many years ago, "The Times, They are A'Changin," and this is still true today. The USA will be different in the 10's. I guarantee it, because I can feel the change all around me. We are no longer so arrogant, but now we are appreciate and grateful.

    We have even elected our first African-American President.
    We are a new USA.

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  • 466. At 4:26pm on 05 Nov 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    Alvaro Piaggio (#462) "Name calling is the ultimate weapon of someone who can't come up with reasonable arguments."

    True, but that's all that Jack (aka fluffy) has. Don't expect him to change.

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  • 467. At 4:31pm on 05 Nov 2009, LucyJ wrote:

    Another great line from a Dylan song is "Once upon a time, you dressed so fine, you threw the bums a dime, in your prime, then you used to call, we said beware, doll, you're bound to fall, you thought we were all kidding you. You used to laugh about, everybody that was hanging round', Now you don't seem so proud. Now you don't talk so loud as you are scrounging for your next meal. How does it feel?"

    Bob sang this many years ago. Eric Clapton sang, "Nobody knows you when you're down and out."

    But I think the USA will come out of this era a better overall USA. We will emerge stronger than ever, including being more self-reliant, more environmental friendly and more world-friendly.

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  • 468. At 5:34pm on 05 Nov 2009, Alvaro Piaggio wrote:

    "You continued rants about me calling people names do not take away the fact that you have only repeated your anti european views with nothing to back your argument up with."

    So fluffly, when did I ever say or hinted that I was anti european? If I ever did, I'm sorry I never meant to. I work for a dutch company. I'm half italian and I have many many friends in Belgium and France. Most of the things I can say about europeans in general are great, especially the dutch. They are generally very kind, hard working, open, honest people. I'm also a great admirer of british culture, just so you'll know.

    "Yu Offer NO evidence but suggest that you do.
    show me
    show mw the higher life expectancy in Britain over your american lives.
    These stats are not debated by anyone with a brain because they are there. quite clear. No dispute.
    Britains live longer than americans.
    they have less babies die.
    you can lie and complain about my manner. but again. the bog comes to mind."

    Life expectancy does not necessearily reflect the quality of health care in a country. If you are saying that americans dont live as long as brits because they dont have a universal health care system, then i beg you please read on the factors that make life expectancy in a country higher or lower. As for universal healthcare being cheaper than a privately funded system, I never said a thing about costs. I only pointed out that one is much better than the other (in terms of quality); although, I can see why you think universal healthcare is "cheaper". You think so because nobody would have to pay for healthcare directly. Well my friend, this is the simplistic analysis you seem to loathe. There's a saying us friedman (that overrated economist) readers have: There's no free lunch; think about that.
    Furthermore, I can't possibly imagine a huge healthcare system that is run by inefficient bureucrats and is prone to very high levels of corruption be better (or even cheaper) than a privately own company. I know this because I come from a continent that for decades has suffered with the ills of big government, so I know what I'm talking about.
    I've been to many places, first world and third world, and I can tell you that health care in the US, while not perfect, may just be one of the best in the world. Is it expensive? of course it is. Don't expect to pay very little for something of good quality. Could it be better? definetly. But putting a bunch bureaucrats in washington to run it is not the answer.

    "I personally am fed up with you lying republicans pretending to be decent people.
    Pretending you care about the lives of others.
    Pretending you are compassionate.
    I find taking word like compassion and turning them into meaningless words is WAY more offensive that a few names.
    That you resort to the ever present americn phrase spouting out of right wing mouths.
    If you don't like it go to another country.
    is just fine.
    I have been told that a lot by the right in america.
    and they get the same answer you will get."

    First of all, I'm not american, a lier nor do I have any political affiliation with either of the big parties in the US - but you can call me whatever you want if it makes you feel better.
    Now, if you find someone that pretends to be compasionate but turns this compassion into meaningless words, please, give em a nice kick in the rear for me. Just don't go around labeling people with something like that just beacuse they disagree with you, especially if you don't even know where or who we are.
    My offer/suggestion is still standing. Move to Cuba. It's for your own good, for I see life in America seems to have made you an angry person. They have universal health care + nice beaches there.

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  • 469. At 5:46pm on 05 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    466 GaryLOL

    You spent so much time getting jack banned.
    Names are there but you always missed the point.
    though there are several documented cases where you did get jack banned and then reposted his post as your own.
    Do be careful when you say I or Jack have no Ideas.
    If you have to steal from them with nothing what are you?

    Am I one or crazy or two.
    Who cares but the mods so at times I play a game. because who I am I cannot admit nor deny.




    465 Illinoisan.
    I like that post.

    But you missed the ecstasy times.



    "But I think the USA will come out of this era a better overall USA. We will emerge stronger than ever, including being more self-reliant, more environmental friendly and more world-friendly."

    Thanks again for supporting the dream.
    I am sure we would execute the plan in a different way . but I too can see an america that could be proud of itself.

    I'm not one to bitch if I thought it couldn't change.

    Awareness brings change.

    America has ALL the potential to be what it wishes.
    But it will take some time and effort.

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  • 470. At 6:32pm on 05 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    " I only pointed out that one is much better than the other (in terms of quality);"

    you are saying it is a better system but cannot make people live as long?

    so is america so dangerous a place to live.
    Is it the volcanos or earthquakes that skew the numbers.


    Life expectancy and infant mortality rates are better than the anecdotal evidence you present ( if you presented ANY)


    Back to St Freidman.
    LOL


    "Furthermore, I can't possibly imagine a huge healthcare system that is run by inefficient bureucrats and is prone to very high levels of corruption be better (or even cheaper) than a privately own company."


    is that the Italian perspective , the one where mafia dons are released because Jail makes them ill?

    I come from a "continent" called Europe as well.
    And there I paid my taxes and got my health care.

    Unlike the USA where I still pay taxes but get very little in return but I do have the knowledge we have the most inefficient health care in the world applied to the smallest percentage of population of any firsts world country.

    Then you crap on about the health care here being more expensive because it is "better"

    what?

    If it is SOOO bloody good why do they die earlier and are more miserable than most other nations.
    (look at the percentage on anti depressants)

    But carry on as you say compared to some third world nations it is better.




    So you are not american but half Italian. what's the other half?
    curiosity.

    " big parties in the US" but some small ones?;)

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  • 471. At 6:38pm on 05 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Universal health care causes nations to look at the empolyment laws and health and safety of their population. hense europe requires companies now to prove their plastics are not dangerous to the people using them.
    Unlike America.
    The european health laws also TRY to get companies to provide safe working conditions that are ignored in the USA.
    Mining is a great example.
    American Miners are way more likely t o die of collapse because the inspectors are not all that independent or will have their budget slashed (by GW who slashed EPA OSHA funding)

    Sure we could wait for these companies to try to do something because their conscience told them to.
    but I would rather not wait on the hope that they will.
    just as I would rather not wait until the health care industry voluntarily reduces costs and their profits.
    See I generally think people that are in it for the profit will not make decisions that reduce that profit just to be nice.
    They would get sued by their share holders.

    But dream on

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  • 472. At 6:41pm on 05 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    ps sorry but you do act like an american GOP person.


    Now I find that you have no real experience of healthcare in the USA from the point of view of us americans.

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  • 473. At 7:33pm on 05 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Alvaro Piaggio

    AHH I see Bolivia and Italy. no wonder you have little faith in GOV running the show.

    should I take your "few months " as a show of you knowledge of the system.
    That would be like me saying MA has great knowledge of europe.(where are you MA . still smarting from being shown to be a misogynist?)

    So when did you leave?
    when were you in the states?

    maybe things have changed.
    Now there is a "socialist" gov in Bolivia.
    and in the states.
    You wouldn't have been a supporter of some general or other that left for political reasons, I am sure.
    democratic all the way I can see.
    I could see how years of living under the Junta would make you cynical of Gov.

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  • 474. At 7:23pm on 06 Nov 2009, Alvaro Piaggio wrote:

    Never lived under any Junta. I was born and grew up in a democratic country. Juntas stopped ruling Bolivia in the late 1970's. And let me make it very clear (people love to connect "american GOP people" to "1970's latin american right wing (i lol at right wing) dictators") that I never supported dictatorships in latin american, nor will I ever - be it "left" or "right".

    "you are saying it is a better system but cannot make people live as long?
    so is america so dangerous a place to live.
    Is it the volcanos or earthquakes that skew the numbers.
    Life expectancy and infant mortality rates are better than the anecdotal evidence you present ( if you presented ANY)"

    You are missing the point completely. You could have the best healthcare system in the whole universe; but that's not the ONLY factor determining longevity in a country. Please, check up how life expectancy is calculated. You are right in one thing though, brits do live longer than americans; by a margin of 2 or 3 years. The difference there it's most likely not volcanos, my sarcastic buddy. There are other factors that can make that number go down, not health care exclusively. (the US receives many more immigrants per year from 3rd world countries with way higher infant mortality rates and lower life expectancies, have higher criminality rates than most countires in europe, have WAY more ppl in active military service than european countries, etc.)

    "Universal health care causes nations to look at the empolyment laws and health and safety of their population. hense europe requires companies now to prove their plastics are not dangerous to the people using them."

    I really don't see the relation between Universal healthcare and stricter work safety laws - it's the first time I hear something like that. I really don't see the relation (no sarcasm btw, i mean this), but I have my doubts there's any. Please I'd like to see some actual research that backs this up.
    As for European countries having stricter labor laws, I won't argue that with you. We could have a completely new discussion on that issue, but I don't think that's the point. Laws that protect the safety of employees are as good as they are necessary, but laws that are too hard on employers, might just be bad for everyone in general (don't forget the economy).

    "AHH I see Bolivia and Italy. no wonder you have little faith in GOV running the show."

    Not just because I'm Bolivian (or partly italian for all that matter). You don't need to be born in any given country to know that things just don't work well when the government runs the show. It's not always a matter of nationalities or cultures either. All I can tell you is that there is example after example of countries that came out of their misery by REDUCING government controls and giving more power to citizens and entrepreneurs. Two of those countries I visited are Chile and Brazil. And there are many who were probably not the best place on earth, but certainly got into trouble for doing the exact opposite such as Cuba and Venezuela. There's also Argentina, that came from being one of the richest countries in the world at the beginning of the 20th century, to the terrible state it is now. Many of the economic hardships faced by the US right now are also caused by excesive government spending and control (I can already read the OOOHs! AAHHHs! Ignorant fool!).

    "Now I find that you have no real experience of healthcare in the USA from the point of view of us americans"

    Actually, I do. How long would you say I would have had to live in your country to have a clear picture? 30 years? It doesn't take that long to see how it works. I have family and friends whom i lived with and are american citizens and we didn't live in the most affluent suburb in middle america, I lived mostly in Miami between 2001-2002. I've also been there several times after, and before that.

    "If it is SOOO bloody good why do they die earlier and are more miserable than most other nations.
    (look at the percentage on anti depressants)"

    More antidepressants doesn't mean you have a health problem or a huge number of people that are miserable. It has more to do with people willing to take em and doctors to prescribe them. (again, I can already see the next post), something not very good imo either, but certainly not the explanation you give.

    "But carry on as you say compared to some third world nations it is better."
    It is. But it is also better than in many first world countries. The most ridiculous comparison I see is with Canada. Canada's system may not be terrible, but it is certainly not better than the US - unless waiting for a free MRI for months counts as something better.

    "Back to St Freidman."
    Ok then. If Friedman is so terrible in your book, I recommend you read some of Thomas Sowell's books and/or columns. He is a much better writer than I am and does a very good job of explaining the things many of us believe in.

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  • 475. At 2:31pm on 07 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    wow third time this post disappeared altogether.
    OK


    AP
    I'll be brief.
    American soldiers killed in action do not make that much of a difference.
    that is a red one if ever there was.

    Please try to explain exactly how you think the numbers are going to be so skewed by your silly excuses.

    Immigrants dying.

    more of them in the states.etc....

    Do shut up.

    " You don't need to be born in any given country to know that things just don't work well when the government runs the show."

    No but if you were born in one with some efficiency you might not have the same view.
    You are formed by your experiences.

    sure there are problems but the alternative of no care provides a few more.
    I suggest that your rather pessimistic views on the ability of humans to organise to help each other is maybe formed by your experience in the countries you know.

    Or I could assume you were another selfish type who is full of it.
    (really I think both are true)

    "
    Many of the economic hardships faced by the US right now are also caused by excesive government spending and control "

    sure .
    Billions to saudi, and israel.
    trillions on stupid wars that were by choice.(yea I can see the ranters on that)
    but then there was the over charging by health industry, crap car designs that didn't go very far, a bad direction for industry that stressed consumerism rather than sorting stuff out( like making solar cells (thanks china we need them)) at a time when the world wanted more green. america introduced the viper and the hummer.Oh them health care costs.
    but then there wqere those wars
    and the drug war, there's another failure. spend more on prisons.

    Export all industry so as to avoid EPS rules,

    these also sank america. not JUST the over spending.
    and even then it was not overspending on EPA , OSHA, inspectors.
    it was over bearing force for the wars of choice.
    , including the drug war which has drained billions over time.

    It was not overspending on health care.
    There is none. You are putting the cart before the donkey there.

    the rate of anti depressant use is very high in the USA and if it is due to misdiagnosing as you seem to realise then how exactly is it helping the patients to get them to take them pills.
    The reality that stress and worry over healthcare costs has depressed a lot of people.
    Bit like when O won how many old GOP people seemed to give up the fight, having "lost faith".

    the lack of freedom to change jobs, depresses people.

    When Doctors have a limited pool of patients they have to make sure some of those walking through have some problems or they are out of a job.
    Not a good incentive.
    In the UK there will always be another.

    "
    "Now I find that you have no real experience of healthcare in the USA from the point of view of us americans"

    Actually, I do."

    OK how much did your treatment cost you?
    was it a fair price compared to else where.
    and when talking of people going elsewhere to get some doc help , as many say they do in the UK, do es one take into account the number of americans that go to Mexico too get treatment?

    And yes Freidman is a crowd follower with little insight.
    He picks up fag-ends of others comments and tries to mould them into his own. He was a total as about the wars until the rest of the nation was changing. then he started trying to be more understanding.
    Don't get me wrong I do not think him evil etc.
    just not very good at his job.
    If I and everyone I know have figured it out before the "news" reporter then he was surely behind the times.

    PS think for yourself

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  • 476. At 2:48pm on 07 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    ps on the MRI in Canada.
    that you would use such typical text book rhetoric from the right kinda show how dishonest you are.

    People wait in the USA as the claim is "processed" as well.
    MAybe not the cadilac kids.

    People who are not part of a company get charged more than those that get health care provided.
    for the same treatment because they have no backing.
    groups negotiate.

    leverage.

    Those that have no insurance when they do visit hospitals pay up to 7 times the price for exactly the same service than those on plans.

    Cash no different;)

    Canada's system is available to all and by having it the cost of private insurance is also reduced(competition. scares the industry).
    Same as UK.

    the pre eminence of american doctors is yet more american hype.
    You fell for it.
    Why not move here.try out the system.
    Walk down town. start shouting rude words till you get shot and see how rich you are later.

    Go for a walk and get bumped by some uninsured person.
    We got a case of a kid, shot throught he neck with a 22 by some idiot who thought he was shooting a skunk (from his truck on public land).
    the dude that did it has no money.
    So who can he sue?

    well back to litigation. he is suing the insurance company of his parents. because the company of the shooter 's didn't pay enough to seriously treat him for being stuck in a wheel chair .
    the suing was all directed at the car insurance company's as the shooter was in the truck.

    Does any of that make sense to you.
    It doesn't to me.
    fix the kid. lock up the idiot.



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  • 477. At 2:54pm on 07 Nov 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    well done bbc this te you admit there was moderation, maybe the computers are gremlined though.
    I'll try again
    wow third time this post disappeared altogether.
    OK


    AP
    I'll be brief.
    American soldiers killed in action do not make that much of a difference.
    that is a red one if ever there was.

    Please try to explain exactly how you think the numbers are going to be so skewed by your silly excuses.

    Immigrants dying.

    more of them in the states.etc....

    Bringing immigrants and military deaths is silly

    " You don't need to be born in any given country to know that things just don't work well when the government runs the show."

    No but if you were born in one with some efficiency you might not have the same view.
    You are formed by your experiences.

    sure there are problems but the alternative of no care provides a few more.
    I suggest that your rather pessimistic views on the ability of humans to organise to help each other is maybe formed by your experience in the countries you know.

    Or I could assume you were another selfish type who is full of it.
    (really I think both are true)

    "
    Many of the economic hardships faced by the US right now are also caused by excesive government spending and control "

    sure .
    Billions to saudi, and israel.
    trillions on stupid wars that were by choice.(yea I can see the ranters on that)
    but then there was the over charging by health industry, bad car designs that didn't go very far, a bad direction for industry that stressed consumerism rather than sorting stuff out( like making solar cells (thanks china we need them)) at a time when the world wanted more green. america introduced the viper and the hummer.Oh them health care costs.
    but then there wqere those wars
    and the drug war, there's another failure. spend more on prisons.

    Export all industry so as to avoid EPS rules,

    these also sank america. not JUST the over spending.
    and even then it was not overspending on EPA , OSHA, inspectors.
    it was over bearing force for the wars of choice.
    , including the drug war which has drained billions over time.

    It was not overspending on health care. education roads and infrastructure.
    You are putting the cart before the donkey there.

    the rate of anti depressant use is very high in the USA and if it is due to misdiagnosing as you seem to realise then how exactly is it helping the patients to get them to take them pills.
    The reality that stress and worry over healthcare costs has depressed a lot of people.
    .

    the lack of freedom to change jobs, depresses people.

    When Doctors have a limited pool of patients they have to make sure some of those walking through have some problems or they are out of a job.
    Not a good incentive.
    In the UK there will always be another.

    "
    "Now I find that you have no real experience of healthcare in the USA from the point of view of us americans"

    Actually, I do."

    OK how much did your treatment cost you?
    was it a fair price compared to else where.
    and when talking of people going elsewhere to get some doc help , as many say they do in the UK, do es one take into account the number of americans that go to Mexico too get treatment?

    And yes Freidman is a crowd follower with little insight.
    He picks up fag-ends of others comments and tries to mould them into his own. He was a total as about the wars until the rest of the nation was changing. then he started trying to be more understanding.
    Don't get me wrong I do not think him evil etc.
    just not very good at his job.
    If I and everyone I know have figured it out before the "news" reporter then he was surely behind the times.

    PS think for yourself

    Mods I know it is saturday but which bit is offensive.

    time for this game again is it?


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