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JOHN CHUCKMAN

LETTER TO CBC RADIO’S SUNDAY EDITION ON INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL GOLDHAGEN

Michael Enright is such a fair-minded man, and one articulate in his fair-mindedness, when it comes to most things. Is it too much to ask that that fairness be applied and heard consistently?

The characteristics of a fair-minded person are just a few, and they comprise the gold standard if you will. He or she is willing to discuss almost any topic. He or she is willing to listen to all sides of an issue presented by others. And he or she is open to being convinced he may have been wrong, at least in part.

I think by this set of criteria that Michael and his producers fail, and rather consistently, on a long term basis when it comes to the related topics of Israel and anti-Semitism.

How many times over, say, the last half dozen years has Michael’s program had an articulate spokesperson for Palestinian rights and grievances? I can tell you: close to, if not actually, zero times.

How many times has the program had spokespeople for Israel’s interests or on the much-abused topic of anti-Semitism? I haven’t counted, but I know that it likely would average to as much as once a month.

That may seem to you not excessive, but I think it represents a continuing, subtle, and genuinely unfair practice. One supposes you don’t make it more regular, say every week, because you understand that heavy repetition of these views would generate hostility in your audience. But the issue of unfairness still is glaringly clear here.

Even as you read these words, Israel prepares to seize more of the West Bank and Jerusalem. No compensation is even given to those whose homes and farms are seized for the flimsiest excuse. And when they protest or resist, they are abused, arrested and often imprisoned. Every day millions of Palestinians, never having done anything against the Jewish people, are treated like the residents of an unrelenting police state.

So, how is it that Michael and his producers believe, as they apparently do, that there is only one side in these matters?

The very definition of the word “liberal” does not make it possible for a true liberal to accept these ugly practices. Yet invariably, when anyone objects to Israel’s behavior, he or she is labeled an “anti-Semite” by the government of Israel and its many apologists abroad. It is a dirty and abusive and inherently unfair tactic.

It is this practice which explains illusory increases in anti-Semitism in “statistics” compiled by Israel’s apologists.
I’m sorry but I do not apologize for speaking against the practices of one of the meanest-natured governments on the planet and that does not make me or millions like me any more anti-Semitic than Michael is.

So, please, if you cannot deal with this set of issues fairly – and history indicates you cannot – leave it alone entirely.

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

COMMENT WRITTEN TO CBC NEWS

CBC radio news has been in serious decline for years, but in your recent coverage of events in Syria, you have touched bottom.

In every newscast and every news-oriented show, the subject dominates. Even on fluff shows like Mary Ito or Bret Banbury we hear about Syria from people who know nothing about it. The problem all this “coverage” is that you investigate nothing and simply repeat the official American view, endlessly.

You have not one qualified reporter on site. No one interviews Syrian officials. No one interviews Russian officials who include many experts on the region. No one talks to good independent reporters or observers, people such as Robert Fisk.

Your broadcasts would not differ in substance if you simply read press releases from the White House and Pentagon.
Even when you report facts upon which people might agree – as for example the number of refugees from Syria, recently cited at one million – you offer no vitally-important perspective, so the end result is effectively CBC joining the tireless American drumbeat to war.

You should well know that when America invaded Iraq, breaking all international law and humanitarian agreements, it killed at least half a million people and created four million refugees. It then refused to take almost any of the refugees, while Syria took a massive two million. Very heartless of Assad, don’t you think?

You keep repeating the American accusations about Assad using sarin gas. In fact, the only certain use of that horrible stuff has been by the violent rabble called the Free Syrian Army. They used small quantities more than once, material either captured from overrun military posts or supplied by American intermediaries such as Israel, which is known to have stockpiles.

And what is the “evidence” you blindly refer to over and over? I can tell you. It is a supposed recording of Syrian officials supplied by Mossad.

Yes, Mossad, the very people who pride themselves at deception and who have a long track record of expertly using it, even in several cases successfully against the United States.

And the recording, even if it could be proved authentic, is ambiguous as to meaning.

You do not kill thousands of people and destroy a country’s infrastructure citing rubbish like that.

The truth is that the entire Syrian “civil war,” as I cannot but believe some of your better journalists must know, is an American black-operation, part of a long series of violent efforts to create a huge cordon sanitaire around Israel. And this particular induced-civil war employs many of the same unsavoury characters typically grouped under the rubric “al Qaeda.”

Recently, this massive covert effort has been failing, despite even more American and Israeli weapons being smuggled to the murderous opposition through Turkey, owing to the successes of Assad’s army. So, now a new casus belli is needed to allow American bombing of Assad’s forces.

The “formula” for this kind of operation was worked out in the invasion of Afghanistan where Americans used everything from Tomahawk missiles to B-52s (with hideous cluster bombs as well as “block-busters”) while locals – the Northern Alliance in that case, including such blood-thirsty creatures as General Dostum – did most of the fighting on the ground. The formula was successfully and cynically repeated in Libya.

The cynics running the induced-horror in Syria for America have gone to the extent now of supplying the rabble with small quantities of sarin to generate a tipping point so Libya can be repeated. It is brutal cynicism with absolutely no regard for Syria’s people.

And remember, if you associate America’s impulses in Syria with either the rule of law or humanitarianism, it was Americans who employed white phosphorus, flame throwers, depleted-uranium (cancer-inducing) ammunition, and cluster bombs in Iraq. Some great defenders of humanitarian principles to be judging what anyone else does.

I realize you cannot present all these underlying realities (after all, your president would be called into Stephen Harper’s office immediately for a chair-throwing meeting), but you do not need to sink to the contemptible level of just repeating every American fabrications with no authority of on-site journalism and no expert opinion.

Shabby, simply shabby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

COMMENT WRITTEN IN RESPONSE TO A BROADCAST ON RADIO

The parable incorrectly conflates two perspectives on the notion of someone’s throwing washed-up starfish back into the sea.

The first perspective is personal, the one doing the throwing.

The second perspective is universal, the person correctly advising that starfish are always being washed ashore all over the world.

The first person is responding to personal feelings and likely could not do otherwise than he or she is doing. But we well know that this person could spend an entire vacation, day and night, throwing starfish back into the sea: he or she might feel good doing so, but in fact would make no difference at all to the total population of starfish.

The second person is giving a universal perspective, or, to put it more scientifically, we may say the statistical truth about the world’s population of starfish. We know this is so because science has demonstrated in species after species – turtles, fish, birds, or insects – that nature produces huge numbers precisely so that at least some portion will survive. It is absolutely guaranteed that many or most individuals in such populations will not survive, the rate of survival at any given time depending on vicissitudes of climate and other factors.

Still, the individual with humanitarian instincts will want to throw the starfish back, but we should note that this only serves to satisfy his or her emotions: it changes nothing.

The second perspective is the factual one: because we are dealing with very large numbers, tiny additions or subtractions are the equivalent of growing or losing a few hairs on your head.

Such a parable is a poor one for any intellectual or educational institution to employ. If you check it briefly on the Internet, you’ll see the kind of people cited are those who read books like Jonathon Living Seagull or The Prophet.

The attitude of the person throwing back the starfish is that shared by the religious zealot or evangelist, demonstrating a drive to convert the whole world’s population – a feat that has never happened and indeed is quite impossible with many millions being born and dying every year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Israel plays this prisoner-release game every time the U.S. manages to push it, once again, into negotiations. I’m amazed people don’t yawn en masse at the announcements.

Each time they play the game, mainline news media gives Israel endless positive coverage, as though something significant or hopeful were happening.

But Israel holds many thousands of Palestinians in prisons, including some very young people and people guilty of no crime, so the release of a couple of dozen is virtually meaningless.

And since these particular prisoners are ones convicted of crimes but nearing the end of long sentences, a slightly early release is truly meaningless: it is what happens in the prison system of every Western nation.

The amount of publicity garnered by this paltry act – day after day in all the big-name papers – couldn’t be bought for a billion dollars.

So why do we hear endlessly about nothing as though it were something?

It is only one more stark proof of the inordinate influence of Israel and its apologists have over our sources of information.

These “peace talks” will go nowhere, just as countless others in the past have gone nowhere.

Why is that?

The obvious harsh truth is that Israel does not want, and never has wanted, peace as anyone outside Israel understands it.

Israel wants more land, minus its undesirable Arabic people, and it has had a long, slow process of ethnic-cleansing going on for decades. Just look at the announcement of still more settlements in the West Bank and the ugly manipulations underway in East Jerusalem to separate people from property they’ve owned for centuries. None of it anything less than legalized theft of the property of others who are forced to live under Israeli rule with absolutely no rights.

There is a fundamental truth to human history, and that is that tyranny and abuse ultimately fail. They succeed for a while – the Soviet Union had a run of ninety years – but it is impossible to maintain such a repressive regime indefinitely.

Here is Israel going through the motions yet again of negotiating, only this time it negotiates with an unelected Palestinian, Abbas, the U.S. has propped up in office because of his compliant nature, one moreover who does not even pretend to rule the Palestinians of Gaza.

Peace will come only when the U.S. gets tough with Israel and stops subsidizing and protecting its brutality, and I suspect that will never happen.

________________________________

Note that a new law has been proposed in Israel. This law would allow Israel to seize the property of all “non-resident” Palestinians who own land in East Jerusalem (Arabic in population for centuries), Palestinians who happen to have their primary residence in the West Bank or Gaza.

It is the equivalent of the state of Florida proposing a law to seize all the condos and vacation properties of people who live in the other forty-nine states. It is actually worse than that because Israel as illegal occupier has no right in international law to legislate such matters over the heads of Palestinians.

Apart from the bitter irony of such a law – after all, Jews are supposed to have left what was Israel two thousand years ago, and you cannot get more “absentee” than that – it is extremely difficult to understand how property-worshipping Americans can stomach such rigged legislation.

Of course, the American mainline press carries virtually no mention of the proposal.

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Toronto has become a laughing stock with this whole long transit fiasco.

A guaranteed project with funding from the province (the Scarborough LRT), a project suitable to the real needs of Scarborough, is allowed to lapse.

Meanwhile, the Mayor and his followers, bellow about a subway being what people want.

But there are no means of financing a subway.

And when you ask people: “Would you rather have a new Chevy or a new Rolls?” without any reference to what it will cost them, you are asking a pretty stupid question, but that is Mayor Ford’s approach to transit.

Costless wants are nothing but childish fantasy, not serious political mandates.

Further, given the nature of the Scarborough route, a subway this far out makes no economic sense.

Previously, Toronto built the Spadina Subway – in effect, a subway to nowhere – and that line never reached the capacity required to justify it.

At that time, the Yonge Subway was already at capacity.

Subways are the most expensive public transportation you can build, and they make no sense in semi-suburban locations.

Years ago, we should have built a Queen Street subway, for that is the kind of location that would warrant the huge cost.

Today, with costs having risen hugely, subways are so terribly expensive to build that many cities in the world are going with light-rail.

It does seem that Toronto’s situation would be best served by a good light-rail system combined with restrictions on private car access downtown, at least during rush hours.

It is well to remember, too, that Toronto proper has a great stock of extremely modest homes. They will not bear great increases in tax.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY AURAL BRAUN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

More intellectual crap from Aural Braun.

Mr Braun is a full-time lobbyist for the interests of the Israeli-U.S. effort to re-shape the planet.

Mr Putin, as one of the true independent-minded statesmen of our time, is of course at odds many times to a dangerous vision of world affairs.
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“Please, Obama is a joke. He is a complete amateur, never worthy or prepared to be president.”

I wish it were true that Obama’s behavior could be explained by “amateur” status.

But it cannot be.

He came to office with dreams and enthusiasms and some sound thinking, but in the face of the forces which truly govern America, he quietly threw up his hands and has become effectively a hostage.

He undoubtedly feared assassination, but it is not just such a dark threat which likely influenced him.

Day to day, he works with a relatively small group of people – military and intelligence officials, members of the imperious Senate, big money political contributors, including the powerful Israel Lobby – and that group is not friendly to the language of an Obama before election.

Look at any other notable American politician and presidential aspirant, and you see the same thing at work.

Hillary Clinton, over the last 20 years or so, has gone from a rather idealistic person to an unpleasant, acerbic advocate of Imperial America. She has told bald-faced lies in public countless times and uttered words which might have been written by an old crypto-Nazi like Dick Cheney.

Her husband was once a man of some ideals, too, but his two terms in office were marked by not one achievement of any worth, and he became little more than a kind of giant vacuum cleaner for political donations, setting some ghastly precedents like selling nights in the Lincoln bedroom of the White House or pardoning a big-time criminal at the end of his term in exchange for many millions of political dollars.

This is the modern reality of imperial America: elections at the highest level simply do not matter. By the time a politician has managed to scrabble to become a contender, with all the endless secret begging for campaign funds, he or she has become part of the problem, not the solution.

In economics, we speak of barriers to the entry of markets. The American campaign finance system requiring truckloads of private money to run is effectively a barrier to entry in the political market, a barrier against the idealistic or those who would do anything to interfere with America’s entrenched governing establishment: the military-industrial-intelligence complex along with such powerful special interests as the Israel Lobby.

This barrier is reinforced by a duopoly of parties in that market, each being not very different than the other, except in some volatile social interests of no concern to the establishment.

And anyone who even chances to pass over those barriers faces everyday life with some dark and powerful people who will not watch their power diminished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Terrorism?

What a joke.

The United States just murdered a number of innocent Yemenis with a drone strike.

That is indeed terror, state terror.
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There is not, and never has been, an organization called al Qaeda.

We have the words of several important statesmen, including a former British foreign minister, that the word was only used inside the American government as a catch-all for “bad guys” in certain regions of the world.

The word actually means “hole” or “sewer.” Can you imagine a secret fierce group calling itself “sewer”?

Yet the continued use of the term – repeated over and over in the press – undoubtedly lends weight to vague assertions about threats, and that is precisely why Washington continues to use this ridiculous language.

So why does the press keep repeating the nonsense?

The answer is found in the degree of genuine independence of thought and investigation exhibited by our mainline press, and that is simply not much.

It is not an organization. It does not send e-mails. It does not write press releases. If indeed it were an organization and it did these things from time to time, does any thinking person not understand that NSA and others would locate them quickly, causing the launch of drones in minutes?

But there are some pretty nasty people out there in the world. The United States has cynically used some of them again and again to get something it wants, the latest being the effort to topple the government of Syria.

It used them in Afghanistan – twice: once to fight the Russians in the 1980s, and a second time to defeat the Taleban government and carry out acts of terror like the murder of thousands of Taleban prisoners – and in Libya and in other places.

The United States in using these people and heavily assisting them – aided by its friends Israel and Turkey – is responsible for more terror in Syria alone than any so-called terrorist group could conceive of doing on its own anywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

What we have in the killing of Sammy Yatim is simple: a policeman shot and killed a man who was a threat to no one.

The victim had what amounted to an ordinary pocketknife, a three-inch blade, virtually incapable of killing anyone, and especially a policeman in his heavy armored vest.

One of the first rules of expert negotiators in hostage-takings is to test whether the hostage-taker is ready to release some or all of his captives. Various initial ploys are used such as asking the release only of children or women.

When a hostage-taker complies with such a request, officials know they are dealing with a person of some conscience and reason, willing to show good will.

There were no passengers left on the streetcar. None. The man was absolutely not a threat.

Indeed, the poor soul was already in a portable jail, an empty streetcar. All police had to do was wait patiently for his giving up, perhaps calling in someone with common sense and talking skill.

No, instead, a police officer threateningly approaches with his gun, does not in the least engage in calming conversation, just utters a curt order, and shoots. Even a taser was unwarranted.

Animal keepers re-capturing an escaped lion or bear show more sense by a thousand times. Is a man’s life worth so little in Toronto today?

These military police methods are imported from the United States whose poisonous police have been cited many times by organizations such as Amnesty International for their brutality and lack of reason.

Chief Blair is wrong as he is almost always wrong – the most ineffectual police chief I can recall – there is no more evidence to be had in this matter.

The video tells the story with blinding clarity. The words of eight or so policemen, the only live witnesses, tell us nothing. Our police have become adept at lying even in court and always, without fail, defend a fellow police no matter how corrupt or brutal. Our poor management of police has allowed this to happen.

This shooting, at best, was the act of a simple coward. Police like to blubber about putting their lives at risk for the public, but that is not what we see here at all.

The officer faced no genuine threat. None. His acts resemble those of someone anxious to sweep a piece of garbage off the street, not those of a trained and thoughtful public servant.

After this and the G-20 fiasco, Toronto needs seriously to examine its hiring policies. There are tests which can be administered to candidates to weed out people with poor attitudes, weak intelligence, or pathological problems. They should act as a powerful filter against this kind of person becoming a policeman.

Training too clearly needs serious scrutiny and revision.

But most important is leadership: Toronto does not have any.

We desperately need to be able to fire incompetent officers easily. A man with a gun and a badge and virtual immunity against prosecution is far more dangerous than any disturbed man with a small knife.
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Police are hired muscle for the most part, and we have pretty well adopted the American model of a police force as an army.

The police force is a well-organized group of urban bouncers, each having great privileges, expensive equipment, and able to use lethal force

Most of them are experts in nothing, and the training they receive does not even deal with many of the things of greatest concern to society.

We forget these things at our peril as a decent society.

Television shows create the fiction of thoughtful, brave and highly-trained individuals risking their lives for us.

They also promote the illusion of resourceful policeman, something which in reality is not all that common.

Police organizations (really, crypto-unions) promote these same illusions and add the dangerous dimensions of always defending what cannot be defended and encouraging insubordination (as when Toronto police once demonstrated in uniform at City Hall against orders).

The behaviors of the RCMP officers at the Vancouver Airport, the police at the Toronto G-20, and the police surrounding poor Sammy Yatim are completely unacceptable in a free and decent society.

If we cannot gain some control over these new developments in police destructive incompetence, all our lives will be diminished.

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The recent record of teachers’ high absenteeism, including many 3-day weekends, demonstrates serious irresponsibility.

The generous terms of their employment – high salaries, big pensions, generous benefits, 6-hour days, and 8-month years – aren’t enough for them.

And when a teacher is absent for no good reason, the public is required to pay two salaries each day.

During labor negotiations we always hear the teachers’ special-interest plea about kids’ education needs, but teachers behaving this way really care about kids, don’t they? Or for that matter, care about anyone else?

Of course, the real problem is, and always has been, that teachers pretty much answer to no one once they are hired into a school.

And the problem is made worse by the fact that the entire system – from principals and superintendents to directors – is run by teachers, actually teachers who’ve left the class room and don’t want to teach any more.

And what is the genuine competence of the average teacher with his or her general BA and a few months at an academically-meaningless teachers’ college? Not much.

If the public doesn’t demand more for public education, we’ll never get it. Remember – setting aside former-Premier McGuinty’s years of empty rhetoric – Ontario in no way stands out in the world of education.

And now we have another premier, a former teacher as it happens, who will give and give and demand nothing in return – a formula for labor peace and political advantage but having nothing to do with genuine education.

We need an entirely new way of hiring and training teachers if we are to have reform.

Any motivated university graduate with an academic major or at least two minors or any motivated middle-aged professional should be able to spend two years in the class room as a substitute under supervision.

Eliminate the academically-meaningless teachers’ colleges.

And forget the overblown and inaccurate notion of teaching as a profession.

It is not, it is an avocation, an art, a skill, and sadly not enough of our current teachers, despite the formal qualification of teachers’ college, possess it.

And you must have something you know thoroughly – music, math, English – in order to teach effectively, which is not the case for so many general BAs. Indeed teachers’ colleges promote the fatuous notion of teachers as some kind of vaguely-defined facilitators who needn’t be expert in the subjects they teach.

Making teachers’ college a 2-year proposition – as our McGuintyesque Premier Wynne has done – is a guaranteed waste of resources and no route to improving education.

And we badly need real management of our schools – people who understand the effective management of human and physical resources – not the money-wasting system of boards and principles we have now.
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From a reader:
“Those who can, TEACH. Those who can’t, CRITICIZE. (I’m neither a teacher nor a critic of teachers.)”

You’ve got the quote wrong, and your error is revealing.

Shaw said:

“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

A criticism of teachers from a wry, inveterate critic.

A world without serious critics would be an impoverished one indeed.

Some of the greats included Shaw, Voltaire, Johnson, Orwell, and Swift.

People like this writer want the same tired band to march in the same tired parade, playing the same tired tunes.

So, according to this writer, we don’t want critics, but hacks like the last director of TDSB are okay? He managed to weasel through a system which has no effective protections and no competent management. Indeed that fact is the most important lesson that should have been learned by those shameful events.

The “managers” at TDSB clearly never checked into his background. I am aware that he was a failure in Hamilton and, most importantly, a very big and wasteful spender, but none of Toronto’s “experts” were aware of the facts nor did they recognize serial plagiarism when they saw it.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

AN EXTENSION OF COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

I am not a Conservative, but already it is apparent that Kathleen Wynne, the new Liberal leader, is a disaster as premier.

She has exactly Dalton McGuinty’s smarmy instincts and political ethics.

One of the only worthwhile things done in his decade as the most irresponsible and inept premier in memory was his reminding the teachers of the fact that they are employees of the public at a time of fiscal difficulty.

This woman has wiped out the effort entirely.

And just look at her other acts over so brief a time as premier.

The investigation she launched into the cancer-drug scandal was genuinely McGuintyesque, a way to delay and put-off while appearing to do something. Any good private investigator could have got to the bottom of the matter in 3 days.

Her recent initiative on wind farms represents virtually no change from McGuinty’s high-handed ways. In Britain, for example, the government is giving local municipalities a veto over them.

Wynne has done nothing of substance about McGuinty’s several scandals of mismanagement.

No changes at e-Health beyond McGuinty’s last appointment resigning and getting a Golden Handshake for solving nothing at the troubled agency.

No changes in our forgotten air-ambulance scandal.

Her recent change in teacher education requirements are leftover initiatives of McGuinty.

The cutting of places in education colleges was something which should have been done years ago. It’s just basic housekeeping never kept up with, not reform.

The new two-year requirement for graduates is backward. Many other jurisdictions have realized that “teachers’ colleges” are ineffective. Putting well-educated and motivated young people – or indeed, not-so-young – into class rooms is what we need. Learn-by-doing under, say, two years of mentoring by experienced teachers is the reform we need.

Teachers’ colleges are staffed by teachers who dropped out of the classroom, who promote unscientific, and even plainly silly, theories about how things are done, and who use language which calls a spade a manually-operated excavating machine. Any intelligent young person will learn how their skills best serve teaching during a couple of years practicing, not the 80 days now proposed for teachers’ colleges and certainly not the present standard of 40 days.

Hasn’t our government learned anything about education? The previous director of TDSB was hired by people who clearly did not know what they were doing. He was likely awarded his doctorate by an education faculty who also did not know what it was doing.

Ontario schools are by no measure outstanding. Our public education is a leader in nothing. We don’t even compare to the world’s most successful systems. The computer hasn’t yet been integrated with many teachers unable to use them and our schools not supplying them to all students, a longstanding practice in a number of jurisdictions.

But this government can tell young people if they just spend more time in education faculties and waste more resources, adding costs and debt, they’ll be able to do a better job. Nonsense.

If “found money” – money supposedly suddenly discovered in declining enrolments – went anywhere, except applied to the deficit where it genuinely belonged, it should have gone towards obtaining computers for our students, but then we still have many teachers who cannot use a computer. Many jurisdictions put lap-tops into each student’s hands, but not Ontario, bastion of teachers’ union interests and second-rate education.

I’m going to vote Conservative for the first time in my life at the next provincial election, and I’m not even attracted to the leader, Mr. Hudak. A decade of McGuinty was enough, and Wynne shows every promise of being even worse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This is an important discovery for students of the period.

But I take exception to the Globe’s characterizing Rosenberg as a powerful figure.

He was not, indeed he was a quack, even by NAZI standards.

He held a position resembling that of some cardinal in the Vatican whose job it is to codify official doctrine.

He wrote stuff no one actually read and was regarded as a bit of a joke by the real players in NAZI Germany.

The real players all were men who lusted after power and influence, and many of them had little use for a good deal of NAZI doctrine.

Still, he heard a good deal of insider information, and he undoubtedly made some important observations.
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“I, for one, look forward to reading more about this discovery.
“Possibly the most shocking book I have read to date (actually I had to stop reading it, so graphic was it!) was a book I got at the Public Library and which is also available from booksellers:
The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders [Hardcover] Ernst Klee (Editor), Willi Dressen (Editor), Volker Reiss (Editor)
“Having also visited Dachau and the beaches of Normandy (twice), I believe we must never forget such atrocity and each of us has a responsibility to condemn racism in its many repugnant forms. Having lived as a stranger in a strange land, I cherish our rights and freedoms.”

Yes, but there was not just one atrocity.

Hitler was largely responsible for a war that killed more than 50 million people and destroyed the lives of countless millions of others.

The invasion of Russia was the most terrifying event in all of recorded human history with 27 million Russians being killed as well as millions of Germans.

The totality of destruction was like nothing seen before, or indeed since.

Its impact included decades of Soviet domination in Europe and the creation of Israel, which itself has been a trail of tears for millions.

The Holocaust itself was only launched using the chaos and massive brutality of the invasion of Russia as a cover.

Even Hitler didn’t dare such an undertaking without the being able to bury it, as it were, in an even greater horror.

And we should always remember that Hitler and World War War II were the result of the terrible business of World War I, a meaningless war in which 2 branches of a royal house fought for supremacy on the continent of Europe and managed to kill 20 million people.

The Treaty afterward was far too harsh on Germany, especially when the Great Depression rolled in, and the resulting set of conditions and the uncompromising acts of many statesmen gave us Hitler and another war.

Germany after WWI had a very liberal government with many enlightened views, but the West gave it no help and support in its many difficulties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO STAR

I believe we have Mayor Miller largely to blame for the Rob Ford farce.

Miller was an incompetent mayor and a blowhard talker.

He did a poor job of looking after basics – garbage, potholes, and the Gardiner’s maintenance – yet he chased after silly objectives tirelessly, as with his Don Quixote, anti-Island Airport campaign, all the while raising taxes regularly.

Ford is a form of Montezuma’s Revenge.

A lot of ordinary people like Ford’s inarticulate, shady, and rule-breaking ways, and they don’t care whether he’s an embarrassment to the city, which he most certainly is. He’s at least not blowhard Miller.

Readers may enjoy: http://chuckmancartoons.blogspot.ca/

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO STAR

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that reason won the day.

Harper’s position – a pathetic echo of vicious American policy – was ridiculous.

There is not an ounce of proof that Syria has used chemical weapons, although there is clear evidence that the rag-tag Free Syrian Army used a small amount of Sarin nerve gas in a couple of instances.

How did they get that horrible stuff? Supplied either by Israel or the US – both have stockpiles – to create an event excusing further intrusion into the affairs of others. Likely it was sent via one of America’s silent partners in Mideast mayhem, Saudi Arabia or Turkey.

Harper – in addition to his un-statesmanlike bullying of Russia – simply lied when he said that only Russia was against intervention. The Germans are also opposed, and others of the G-8 sit on the fence. Only the cowardly post-Blair British government eagerly wags its tail every time America looks their way.

Thank God, American efforts to create a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident for Syria failed, but still its destructive, underhanded efforts, and those of Israel with Turkish and Saudi cooperation, keep the Syrian people in misery.

A dirty shame, just like our prime minister, who incidentally also failed on trade talks with the EU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Red, white, and blue?

Of course.

Harper is, and always has been, an American wannabe.

In almost every policy and utterance, he takes his lead from right-wing Americans.

In everything from secret slush funds and dishonest campaign techniques to his insanely unbalanced statements about the Middle East, Harper is the American Establishment’s man north of the border.

So, it’s only fitting that he use red, white, and blue – even if the blue a tad different to that of America’s red, white, and blue.

The new paint does perhaps have the advantage of offering some protection on trips abroad, protection against being instantly shot down by trigger-happy American thugs at the controls of drones and fighters and missile batteries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO STAR

Nice to know that the PMO spends time and resources on rubbish like sending out compilations of photostats about Justin Trudeau’s past, paid speaking engagements for charities to local newspapers in hopes of generating some bad press.

I genuinely believe Harper is the worst bully we have ever had in high office -indeed, he’s the only one, truly in a class by himself.

Harper’s repeated low-life attack ads didn’t work against the attractive Trudeau, so he tried another avenue of attack, that of sending out press kits to local newspapers about a matter which doesn’t even qualify as a tempest in a teapot.

It is perfectly normal for people with big names to speak for fees – it happens thousands of times a year. Tony Blair and his wife have cleared millions that way. So has Bill Clinton.

And did anyone notice Harper’s shabby bullying behavior at the G-8? All but calling Putin, the only real statesman in the bunch, names? That’s what bullies do when they don’t get their way.

I suggest our public schools put together a new curriculum on bullying, one that features Stephan Harper as an example of how not to behave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

I’m glad Prince Harry has done one worthwhile thing in his life in speaking up for a bullied soldier in his unit in Alberta.

It’s nice for change.

Prince Harry has a long record of thoughtless and graceless and even nasty behavior.

See: http://chuckmangrotesques.blogspot.ca/2013/01/harry-is-prince-mad-he-does-have.html

I happen to believe Harry got the worst part of his mother’s genes, the late Princess being attractive and charming in public but privately suffering from serious mental conditions, something of which her family has a history.
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“We knew Harry had been in Afghanistan, but he was made to go to Alberta, too? Is there a reason why he is being punished?”

Harry was not made to go to Afghanistan.

He insisted, to the point of threatening to resign his commission, on being sent there for some “action.” All quite shameful actually.

The high command had decided that it was too risky to send him when he asked, but after his whining and threatening to quit his commission, he was sent for one brief tour which was mainly an extended photo-op of the Prince and the machine gun, something which might just as well have been done on a sound stage.

He insisted and was sent again, managing to kill someone and spent a good deal of time back home bragging about it.

This is a bored, not-too-bright young man with an apparent thirst for brutality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Paul Cellucci likely qualifies as the most ignorant and rude American ambassador ever appointed to Canada.

He criss-crossed the country saying things ambassadors are never supposed to say, negative things about our national policies, as for instance berating us about our military expenditures and internal affairs.

And he had no grace in the way he barked out his inappropriate comments.

He should have been declared persona non grata as an ambassador – and he would have been thus treated by many countries.

But our governments were timorous and afraid of the dangerously vindictive police state emerging south of the border in the wake of 9/11., and they just let this unpleasant man spread his diplomatic poison.

You are not supposed to say unpleasant things about a person who has died, but this man never did much in Canada that was not unpleasant.

His loss will go un-mourned in this country, except by the likes of John Baird and the other uninformed loudmouths of Harper’s American-wannabe government.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY TONY BURMAN IN THE TORONTO STAR

“more hero than traitor”

Sorry, I have a problem with that wording.

In my view, the word “traitor” has no application to Edward Snowden whatever.

Of course, one expects it to be on the lips of the usual gang of blood-thirsty America-firsters – people like John McCain or Dick Cheney or Condoleezza Rice – but then almost everything those people say is unthinking lies.

The victorious Allies hung men, high-ranking men indeed, after WWII for “just following orders.”

It is no different in the intelligence field than in the military: when an order or an assignment violates the very basic precepts of a society, the traitors, if the word has any application at all, are the ones who blindly follow.

Edward Snowden rises above run-of-the-mill heroes, too: he has risked just about everything – home, career, and his life – to reveal secret government acts violating the ethical and legal precepts of free society and threatening the futures of everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED COMMENTS TO AN ARTICLE IN THE TORONTO STAR

Frank Gehry swings between being a decent, but not great, architect (AGO renovations) and being a silly showman who produces giant stunts or monumental sculptures having no relationship to their surroundings and little relationship to their intended use (Bilbao Museum, Disney Concert Hall).

The model for King Street is a perfect example of his latter tendencies. It is simply terrible urban design, and I’m surprised Chris Hume is sucked into paying homage to a concept that does not deserve to see the light of day. A case of the emperor’s new clothes?
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In response to another reader comment:

Well, there is an awfully large range of possibilities between another glass box and this pile of crinkled strapping tape. We do have a terrible lot of crappy glass box condos in Toronto, thanks to a gold rush of development and a government which exercises no genuine standards on developers.

These places do not make a worthy urban space, and many have no good environmental aspects or aesthetic appeal. The city has, to a considerable degree, built a modern urban wasteland on the old rail lands.
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Imagination in this case is just another word for silly on a monumental scale.

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I have a suggestion for the project. You may be familiar with the St Hubert Chicken delivery cars in Montreal: they feature large, lighted plastic chickens on their roofs.

How about a huge lighted turkey on the roof of these condos? It would serve at least two purposes: recalling the annual giveaway gesture of Ed Mirvish (thousands of Thanksgiving turkeys) while characterizing in dramatic fashion the nature of these proposed buildings.
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“Quintessential Toronto building,” Mr Hume? Curls of wide strapping tape dangling from a cardboard tube?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

EXPANSION OF A POSTED RESPONSE TO AN INTERVIEW WITH SYRIA’S PRESIDENT ASSAD IN INTIFADA PALESTINE

I am no great defender of unelected leaders like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, but in the case of Syria’s current troubles I support him and wish him success against the forces responsible for murder and destruction on a large scale in his country.

The great writer, Graham Greene, said:
“…the writer should always be ready to change sides at the drop of a hat. He stands for the victims, and the victims change.”

Syria is the victim in this case, and the bloody bullies attacking Syria are the United States and Israel, both too cowardly to attack directly and both dishonestly claiming that the Free Syrian Army represents a genuine popular revolt.

The aim of the United States and Israel in all this violence is to wipe Syria off the Middle East chessboard, leaving it a divided society with no central direction.

Their efforts are designed to serve Israel’s drive to dominate the Middle East, just as America’s invasion of Iraq served the same drive. Israel aspires to be a miniature replica in the Middle East of what the United States has become globally, and the United States’ government, compromised by its corrupt election financing system and the central role of special interests in that system, is more than willing to grant Israel the role.

The brutality and hypocrisy involved in creating a pseudo-popular uprising and putting millions of innocent people at risk are breathtaking. The United States and Israel have gathered, armed, and supported a gang of thugs and injected them (through Syria’s border with Turkey, Turkey also offering refuge and re-supply) into what was a peaceful country, the very kind of cut-throats neither the U.S. nor Israel would allow to cross their own borders.

The recent death of an American ambassador in Libya at Benghazi, an event which no American official will discuss honestly, was part of the same dark scheme and involved the ambassador working with the CIA to gather killers and arms for export to Syria. The operation badly backfired when some of the thugs being dealt with turned on the Americans, something American officials will not acknowledge out of embarrassment and the desire to hide the dirty business in which they are engaged.

The world is not the simple place of angels and devils as America’s propaganda efforts ceaselessly proclaim it – great camps of goodness and evil ready to do battle for the soul of humanity. No matter whether a government is democratic in origin or not – and given the utter corruption of America’s politics, its claims to authentic democracy are tenuous – powerful insiders are fully capable of bloody, ruthless behavior in secret, destroying the lives of others.

While the United States loves hearing itself talk about being a bastion of freedom and rights, the fact is that over the last 40 or so years, it has been, quite simply, the most murderous nation on earth, killing 3 million in Vietnam plus a host of victims in Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and in many, many other places either invaded or toppled in bloody coups. It still runs an international torture gulag, of which Guantanamo is only a part.

The world can support a bloody global dictator even less than an individual country can support a local one. So, in Syria we see a stark choice, and the ethical balance favors for once a local dictator.

If you want the rule of law, you must abide by the rule of law, a principle which neither the United States nor Israel makes even a pretense of embracing although they sure like talking about it between bombing runs and terrorist activities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This confirms what many believed: that it was the rebels, not the government, using chemical weapons.

Now, where does one obtain this nerve gas, sarin, a deadly and sophisticated one which comes in two compounds only assembled at the time of use?

There are only a limited number of countries who make and store it, including both the United States and Israel.

We know about Israel’s chemical arms because there was a crash of an El Al cargo plane in 1992 in the Amsterdam area, killing dozens of people and releasing toxic substances Israel refused to accurately identify.

It was later determined that at least part of the cargo was one of the components of sarin, a cargo which was not declared and which is illegal to ship in most countries.

One has the well-founded suspicion that Israel supplied some of the sarin material recently to that rabble called the Free Syrian Army.

Its purpose in doing so would be typical of Israel’s nasty security forces practices – of which we have a long history including the 1967 War and Israel’s attempt to sink an American intelligence ship – and that is to create a casus belli with the claim that Assad had crossed one of Israel’s many arbitrary “red lines.”

Only in recent days we read a lot of nonsense about the government of Syria having used poison gas, including from America’s pathetic Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, who managed to reverse himself in less than a day after asserting – rightly – that American intelligence did not believe Assad had used chemicals.

His reversal undoubtedly reflected the immense pressure of the Israel Lobby, incensed that he had effectively contradicted Mr Netanyahu’s earlier public claim about Syria’s use.

We see the outlines here of a very shabby story: the desperate efforts of Israel and the United States to support the phony rebellion they created in Syria because it is beginning to look like that rebellion will fail.

What Israel wants in these matters is for Syria to be removed as a power in the region, left as a weak and divided state whose elements will fight with each other for years to come.

Never mind those elements include the same kind of scum that neither Israel nor the United States would even allow to cross their borders. Who cares about the poor Syrians, just so long as once more Israel gets what it wants.

The whole series of events in Syria will prove a textbook example of arrogance, brutality, and cynicism in foreign affairs.

But then that description pretty well sums up the entire brief history of modern Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN RUSSIA TODAY

It is simply gorgeous.

There are too few examples in the world of really fine contemporary public-space architecture, modern architecture which works well with older buildings.

Jack Diamond was an excellent choice as architect. He did the opera house in Toronto, and there he established some of the design principles used in the Mariinsky, although on a much smaller scale, given a much smaller budget.

Diamond is not one of those “looks only” architects who design sculptures with little consideration for the use to which they are put.

The Mariinsky benefits from his approach and great experience.

Congratulations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

This is an absurd development.

Yesterday, in the morning, I read Mr Hagel saying that United States’ intelligence did not believe Syria had used chemical weapons.

Because Israel had already just claimed in public that Syria had used such weapons, Mr Hagel was careful to state that the United States used its own intelligence sources.

By that afternoon, we had this new story that indeed the United States thought it likely (but had no hard evidence) that Syria had used chemical weapons.

I know of no example from real life events more deserving of the descriptive term “Orwellian.”

We know from the inadvertently-overheard words of two presidents not terribly long ago, the presidents of France and the United States, talking in private that Mr Netanyahu is regarded by both of them as an inveterate liar.

Mr Hagel, owing to his independence of mind regarding the Mideast, fought quite a battle after the election to be confirmed for his cabinet post.

Of course, his first words about chemical weapons contradicted Mr Netanyahu.

Something happened in the course of one day to turn him around.

Was it the same group which so opposed his nomination and confirmation?

And that group is the special interest of American apologists for Israel’s excesses.

Actually, if anything, virtually the opposite is true. There was a documented incident of the so-called rebels using some form of chemical.

From where did they get the material?

From Israel, in an effort to create a casus belli?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN RUSSIA TODAY

Civilized is not the point.

The United States mouths stuff about human rights and democracy while assassinating, stealing, and abusing people.

Monumental hypocrisy is the point.

The fact must be thrown into America’s face when it makes spurious claims.

The CIA Torture Gulag – of which Guantanamo is only part – is gross hypocrisy, all of it carefully kept offshore, as though that fact kept the spirit of the Constitution.

The U.S. has in truth been a bloody monster for half a century: 3 million killed in its Vietnam Holocaust; a million in Cambodia owing to its destabilizing; a million in Iraq; and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

EXPANDED FROM A POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY EINAT WILF AND NOAH SLEPKOV IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This piece is a set of words strung together almost without meaning and certainly without logic. Its only intention is to plant certain suggestions in readers’ minds, one of the key purposes of any propaganda. According to the authors, John Baird, Canada’s current foreign minister, was not guilty of provocation in blundering into East Jerusalem as a guest of Israeli politicians, rather he was being “brave” in the cause of peace.

Brave? John Baird?

Baird has always been a coward because only a coward acts aggressively towards the weak, as he does regularly in both domestic politics and in trips abroad, and certainly the Palestinians are weak, living at the mercy of Israel’s brutal and dishonest behavior.

The leaders of Israel do not want what any normal person calls peace. Their behaviors over decades make that abundantly clear to all but biased observers.

Israel has always followed the policy advocated by early Zionists called “the iron wall” in its attitude towards the Palestinians.

How much better would have been a policy of generosity towards its neighbors, but no, generosity in Israel’s attitude has never received the slightest consideration. The one prime minister who came just a little closer to altering the county’s brutal policies was assassinated, as it happened by an Israeli.

Israel holds all the cards – armaments, economic power, American influence, and absolute rule over millions of people – but it has never made a truly honest effort for genuine peace. Words, words, and more words combined with arrogant and impossible preconditions set even for discussions.

What we see is a garrison state, armed to the teeth, threatening its neighbors constantly, ready at the smallest provocation to kill thousands, and we see that state rule over 4.5 million conquered people with a heavy-handed system of apartheid, a system recognized as apartheid by every sensible and decent observer in the world from Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu to Jimmy Carter.

And, week by week, Israel slowly steals the land on which those 4.5 million people live, stealing it through all kinds of cynical and dishonest laws – an ongoing, slow-motion practice of ethnic-cleansing in every sense of the term.

What other state could accurately claim as its national symbol a D-9 armored bulldozer used to destroy the homes of others and sometimes simply to crush opponents?

Canada’s arrogant and ill-informed foreign minister, John Baird – and Canadians all know that he is arrogant and ill-informed owing to his everyday behavior at home – steps in to validate Israel’s ghastly behavior in East Jerusalem, never once saying anything about human or democratic rights.

And why does John Baird choose to behave in this obtuse fashion?

Because he is a creature of the Harper government which has as its goal, by its leader’s own admission, the elimination of the Liberal Party in Canada, a party which was always been even-handed in the Middle East, reflecting the attitude of a majority of Canadians.

Harper’s strategy includes having ended state support for political parties, using every disagreeable parliamentary dodge he can think of, being an enemy of transparency in government, suppressing the voices of experts in the civil service, and actively seeking a new and substantial flow of private financing, as it happens, from apologists for Israel eager to fund a turn in Canada’s historic and fair-minded policies.

In the United States, this pattern of funding is now an integral part of its foreign affairs. In just one example – and there are countless examples – the unpleasant Newt Gingrich received the best part of $20 million from just one wealthy American heavily involved in Israel’s affairs to run his presidential bid.

The price for that money? Newt’s peppering his speeches with ignorant assertions like “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian.” In another notorious example, Dick Armey, former House Majority Leader, once openly suggested that Israel just go ahead and run all the Palestinians out of the occupied territories – surely the kind of assertion that does not come naturally from an ultra-conservative economics major for whom property rights are virtually religious dogma.

And just so, John Baird’s bull-in-a-china-shop behavior in East Jerusalem and at the UN or Peter Kent’s sudden outbursts, almost like someone given to speaking in tongues, about Canada defending Israel or Harper’s regular speeches claiming credit as a warrior against (virtually non-existent) anti-Semitism and deliberately conflating legitimate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

In the normal world, we know peace in any violent disagreement is often only obtained by outside intervention and patient talks and mutual respect, but somehow when it comes to Israel, this common understanding just disappears. Israel is never pressured to treat its neighbors with respect, and it is never pressured to talk to them without arrogant preconditions. Never.

No one dares say a word about the decades of abusing 4.5 million people, of Israel’s endless torture and assassinations. Nor do the “brave” John Bairds of this world raise their voices when Israel kills 400 children as it did in its invasion of Gaza or when it commits piracy on the high seas or when it murders a Canadian officer serving as a UN observer or when it drops a million hideous cluster bombs on civilians as it did in Lebanon. No condemnation over the theft of farms and homes is ever heard. Not a word about endless illegal arrests and the imprisonment of thousands. Nor a word about the seizure of taxes and foreign aid moneys from their rightful owners.

Of course, there is never a word about the Six Day War so many decades ago, the very event which put all those people at Israel’s mercy, a war which Israel cynically started knowing it could win, aiming ultimately to create what is known as Greater Israel. Nor was a word said about Israel’s attacking a well-marked American intelligence ship, of which they had been advised in advance, during that war to silence signals informing Washington that Israel was turning around its armor to seize all of what it controls today. And there was not a word about the mass murder of hundreds of Egyptian prisoners in the Sinai to expedite that turnaround.

Does anyone in his right mind believe peace is obtained the way Israel has claimed to pursue it? Only if your definition of peace is Israel’s taking all the additional land it covets without any of the people who own it and live there, which is pretty much what the concept of Greater Israel involves. I suppose that is a kind of peace, the kind of peace brutal American soldiers achieved in My Lai, Vietnam, or in Fallujah, Iraq.

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