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John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN SPUTNIK

Mt Rushmore, Beware! Could Monument Toppling Become US National Sport?

Absolutely, and already there has been some talk of doing something about Stone Mountain, Georgia, a vast monument carved into a mountain just like Mount Rushmore. It features in huge bas relief key Confederate figures.

As for Rushmore, Jefferson was a scoundrel, almost totally.

There’s a huge number of reasons for objecting to him, but people remain influenced by his graceful written words, written self-consciously as an image-building fantasy and legacy yet reflecting virtually nothing he actually did when he had power. He broke every rule he ever set for good government and fairness.

Washington was a lifelong slave-holder and a businessman of quite sharp practices. He did things like buy up the script paid to poor revolutionary soldiers, when they badly needed funds, at a severe discount, making a handsome profit.

He was not generous in any business dealings, and all that phony stuff about not being paid while serving in the war was just that, phony. He had a cost-plus contract and submitted a truly huge bill – over $400,000 at that early time – to Congress after the war for everything right down to so many bottles of wine consumed at Valley Forge.

Yes, the same Valley Forge of legends about soldiers suffering winter terribly and being hungry. Well, old aristocrat Washington saw to it that his own needs were handsomely supplied.

When Washington first took military command, removing the arrangements of the Boston Patriots who actually got the conflict going, he instituted flogging and hanging to what became the Continental Army – he was a great admirer of British Army methods – and wrote letters home about the scum and rabble he found and had to deal with.

Roosevelt was a super-imperialist, a genuine brute in some cases, as well as a world-record slaughterer of wild animals. He’d go “hunting” and leave literally mountains of carcasses piled up. His hunting resembled that of Buffalo Bill, yet people regard him as a great defender of nature.

Lincoln is the only truly noble figure on Mount Rushmore, but even he is widely misunderstood. He did not fight to free slaves. He fought to make the central government dominant over the states, something contentious with many Americans to this day.

He also wasn’t just a humble country lawyer as is always featured but a very successful lawyer who worked for corporations like the Illinois Central and became well-enough off to build a handsome new two-story brick home in Springfield, Illinois, and become a notable politician.

By the way, none of these figures were great defenders of minority rights. They all were prejudiced if you interpret that word as some of the extreme people talking about Charlottesville do. Even Lincoln regarded blacks as somewhat less-promising material as citizens.

As was a figure such as dedicated slaveholder Andrew Jackson whose image graces the twenty-dollar bill. Jackson also was responsible for the Trail of Tears which saw thousands of long-settled native Americans, including many farmers, torn from their homes in the Southeast and sent to the then barren Oklahoma territory. Great numbers died, including women and children, in the course of that long forced-march.

Also, as late as the 1950s, we had President Harry Truman, who was a Southerner, always using the word “nigger” for black people. People then barely took note. Should his monuments and library be torn down?

Still, despite those truths, how idiotic it would be to tear it down Mount Rushmore. Better to teach visitors the facts.

And it really is no less idiotic to tear down a statue to a humble Confederate soldier.

The Civil War was America’s greatest experience with war, the deaths exceeding American losses in WWII eighty years later by about 100%, and that’s despite all the advance in weapons.

The Civil War also supplied the model for how generals would fight WWI, a terrible mistake but a historical fact nevertheless.

All monuments represent teaching opportunities. Destroying legitimate historical monuments is nothing less than the work of historical Luddites.

The whole business going on in America today over Charlottesville is a chaotic confusion with almost no coherent meaning. All sides tell incomplete stories, and all sides have prejudices.

But most important of all is that while Americans wail and gnash their teeth over a situation they do not even understand, they ignore far more terrible things their truly brutal country does.

It is busy killing and spreading horror in half a dozen lands, and the soldiers coming back from that filthy work will be treated well.

And that truly bloody symbol, the Stars and Stripes, will be saluted and honored daily despite its stripes representing the blood of millions of innocents killed abroad in colonial wars and interference in the lives of others, everywhere from Korea and Vietnam to Iraq and Libya.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

Assange Hammers America on Selective Outrage Over US Backing for Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis Suddenly America does not like Nazis? Who knew?

Assange has it completely right about America’s long and quiet support for Ukrainian neo-Nazis, vicious characters who’ve done some real killing, compared to all the press and noise over a few historical statues in Charlottesville.

American official hypocrisy is beyond describing.

And in this morning’s news, the Syrian Foreign Minister also tells us about how Syrian soldiers have just discovered a cache of chemical weapons – grenades and such – almost certainly supplied by the US and UK judging by their markings. The very kind of chemical weapons used as an American government excuse for attacking Syria.

Readers interested in the Ukrainian neo-Nazis supported by America may see pictures here:

http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/assange-hammers-america-selective-outrage-over-us-backing-ukraines-neo-nazis/ri20681

And there are so many other instances of gross hypocrisy, including great patches of American history.

Thomas Jefferson – who is on Mount Rushmore, has a huge memorial in Washington, has plaques all over, and has streets and schools named after him – was one of the more reprehensible characters in America’s founding.

He was a far darker character than some of the Confederate figures they are going on about in the Charlottesville events, figures like Robert E Lee or Jefferson Davis.

Jefferson kept over two hundred slaves to his dying day, wrote openly in his “Notes on Virginia” of black inferiority, advocated states’ rights almost to the point of promoting secession long before the Confederacy, had a young black slave (starting at her age of 13, Sally Hemmings) as his mistress, had children by her, and did many terrible things during his time as president including actually supporting Napoleon’s forces fighting the slave revolt in Haiti.

If you want to read more about him:

https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/reflections-on-the-origins-and-meaning-of-americas-independence-day-re-posted-from-6-years-ago-nothing-having-changed/

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS IN ZEROHEDGE

We know that where there are very high stakes for the United States government – as in covert international affairs or in matters with gigantic amounts of money at risk – there will be deception and dirty dealing of every imaginable kind.

That is just a given.

You do not have to subscribe to theories of any kind to know that a government such as America’s lies to its people regularly. It has been caught doing so many times.

The labelling of people who know they are being lied to is a kind of dirty little game. The label is intended to be an unanswerable charge, negating all credibility.

Most people do recognize and respond well to honest explanations of events, but we have a great many instances where they are not given the chance.

The term, conspiracy theory, has long been rumored to have been coined by some of CIA agit-prop guy working out of a backroom at Langley and hoping for a big promotion by inventing a good way to ridicule critics of the Kennedy Assassination story.

I think that is a reasonable assumption.

By the way, the CIA has kept the sense of contempt and ridicule alive in the term by itself seeing that some outrageous books and articles are published on subjects like the Kennedy assassination, complete with obviously-wrong facts and sometimes even poor spelling.

After all, it has the best publishing-contact list in existence, and its deep pockets can make even the stupidest publishing venture profitable.

The CIA, at one and the same time, is responsible for some “serious” books supporting the official version and for some of the most laughable attacks.

That is just the way the game is played.

It is no different to what the CIA has done in many countries where it was trying to destroy a government. That is something they have done so many times you have to wonder why anyone would doubt their bad intentions on any subject they touch.

They are inherently dishonest people because the main purpose of their organization is dishonest in nature. You don’t hire boy scouts for dirty work.

Of course, we have that old political fallback line about it being illegal for the CIA to operate in America, but if ever a statement deserved a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink,” that one does.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Revealed: The truth behind the ‘mystery car’ conspiracy theory in Diana bodyguard death

Diana was, without any doubt, unbalanced and quite reckless.

Her words on any subject should be understood through that filter.

Yes, it is quite possible, if she was pregnant at the time of her death, it was covered up.

That kind of thing happens regularly with rich people and celebrities.

And I do believe assassinations are sometimes a government activity.

I’ve just never regarded Diana as having been important enough to be a target of assassins.

Jack Kennedy was, definitely.

I do wish The Independent would stop using the old CIA-coined phrase, ‘conspiracy theorist.”

Argue facts. Leave out the deliberately demeaning descriptions.

The term was manufactured as a put-down of people rightly doubting the official story of Kennedy’s assassination.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE ON BLACKLISTED NEWS

NYT SHOCKING REPORT: US “ALLY” UKRAINE IS SOURCE OF NORTH KOREAN MISSILE ENGINES

Interesting, if true.

And rather funny, involving, as it does, the CIA’s coup-installed government. What irony, if true.

However, we have had an awful lot of disinformation about North Korea from the States. Almost every day there is some new assertion or another, virtually none of them factual.

For example, recent statements by North Korea’s president about an upcoming missile test towards waters near Guam magically were turned into an immediate threat to attack Guam.

In each of two recent missile tests that the US immediately labelled as tests of an ICBM, Russia’s department of defense said they knew the missiles and that they were in fact of intermediate range.

Whom to believe?

In recent years, the Russians have a far higher score for truth.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN SPUTNIK

“The abandonment of 1.8 million men, women, and children to their fate in Gaza by the so-called international community is one of the most grievous moral outrages of our time.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Our Western press and politicians go on about many relatively small troubles and grievances in our world while ignoring this huge outrage. The smallest terrorist event or violent demonstration -Charlottesville or a stabbing in London – is shouted from the rooftops in the West, yet this horror in Gaza continues, year after year, with almost no notice taken.

These poor people continue to struggle with day-to-day life in unsanitary and crumbling ruins Israel created in its onslaughts which murdered about four thousand people, including about a thousand kids. Israel hasn’t the decency to allow the import of the required building materials.

Now, Israel builds a vast underground wall to prevent the life-sustaining supplies smuggled in with immense effort through hand-dug tunnels. It also plans to build a big artificial island off the coast which would effectively give Israel complete control and keep the people of Gaza from using any of the resources in the Mediterranean, including the natural gas fields which are by international standards the property of Gaza but which Israel is stealing openly and developing.

Gaza’s fishermen cannot even go far from the shore without being shot by Israeli gunboats. Their concentration camp – for that absolutely describes what Gaza has become – is lined with fences and towers with automated, radar-operated machine guns.

Israel even sprays noxious herbicides on portions of their small land. Some vicious Israelis have dumped raw sewerage on the land. When the few settlers that used to live there left, they actually poisoned the water wells. Israel prevents proper supplies of electricity. Israel controls all assistance that might be sent. Israel won’t even permit most visitors to go to Gaza.

It is a totalitarian nightmare. Israeli politician after politician has wished the people of Gaza gone and have always treated them harshly, but in recent years, the treatment has become harsh beyond telling. All because Gaza voted in democratic elections for a party which represented their interests. Going back to Moshe Dayan, we have public statements about making the people of Gaza so miserable, they will leave. And that is just what is being done.

Many Israelis take comfort in the thought that Israel does not do what Nazi Germany did with a large group of people it hates. They are comforted morally by that idea.

But when you keep an entire people living in misery for generation after generation with no rights, no hope, no ability to better themselves, no ability to even move around, I see complete moral equivalency with mass killing

This is a gigantic, on-going crime against humanity, but because Israel is effectively a colony of the powerful United States, enjoying intimate high-level connections, most of the Western press and politicians remain silent.

Repression of the channels of communication is just another terrible weapon in such a situation. I don’t know how anyone is ever surprised by the way Nazi Germany got away with its vast crimes because Germany had, quite simply, one of the early, sophisticated total wars on truth and communication.

Yes, it is possible to keep the majority of people in ignorance, to hide your shameful acts, and to lie daily even while committing monstrous crimes. The public in the West never absorbed that harsh lesson. But Israel’s government certainly has, just as the government of Israel’s mother country, the United States, has. They both apply it daily.

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Trump’s Defense Secretary James Mattis makes passionate case against America withdrawing from the world
‘We ought not to forget the example of the Greatest Generation,’ former general tells young naval officer in Q&A

I’ve got news for you, General.

The Greatest Generation is long gone.

It reflected circumstances which no longer exist.

Indeed, if you read some detailed history, that phrase has been, to a considerable extent, misused even for what occurred during and immediately after WWII. It could fairly be called a self-congratulatory slap on the back by pop American historians.

In any case, what we have today in America is something quite ugly and dangerous. Greatness is not remotely associated with it.

Comparing America in, say, 1941, to America in 2017, is a bit like comparing Hitler’s life as a young boy to his life as a grown-up.
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Response to another reader who wrote “I would be truly impressed with America if it made its own country a shining example of how a country should be. Should be enough for them to be getting on with.”

Well said, indeed.

But they cannot think this way.

The current slogan of the American military-security monstrosity is “full-spectrum dominance” across a range of defined matters in the world.

It is not the thinking of enlightened or democratic people, but the thinking of tyrants.

Mattis forgets one of the truest statements ever made, Lord Acton’s dictum on power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely.

I very much believe America has crossed the threshold towards absolute corruption.

It is fit to lead no one.
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Response to another reader who wrote “It was not the US that went to war with North Korea, it was UN that authorized the war”:

You are only technically correct.

The UN was quietly pushed into the effort, just as the US has pushed and used the UN so many times for its own purposes.

Today, this phony effort to make every American decision about intervention appear international in character more typically uses NATO, an organization which today is more pliable and which can almost not be recognized when compared to its early purposes.

Even inside the Truman government, there was at first a serious question about whether Korea was worth fighting over.

It was not on the then-current list of places of real strategic importance to the United States, but America was under the witch-like spell of anti-communism at all costs and so decided to intervene.

Words like “losing this or that to ‘the commies’ or ‘the reds’” came quickly to the lips of various Congressmen and Senators. The atmosphere was poisonous.
North Korea was trying to reunite Korea, on its terms. Reunification has been a longing of all Koreans, but the US has stood in the way always, only willing to accept reunification on its terms.

America conducted the Korean War with total ruthlessness. At the outset, there was the infamous No Gun Ri massacre in which American troops slaughtered hundreds of civilians fleeing war for the south, including women and children, claiming later they feared spies and saboteurs.

America carpet-bombed North Korean cities for three years. General Curtis LeMay – the man who fire-bombed and leveled Japan, and later at the Pentagon pushed for an overwhelming first-strike against the USSR – later bragged that American bombing wiped out twenty percent of the entire country’s population.

It was much the same American approach as that which created a holocaust in Vietnam over the existence of a rump-state run by dictators, but one friendly to US interests, being re-united with the rest of that country. So, millions died horribly for that meaningless cause.

Considering all the fall-out over the decades after the Korean War, it likely would have been better and smarter to leave it to the Koreans themselves, a good general principle, leaving it to the locals, almost invariably ignored by America in its many post-WWII wars and interventions.

Under those circumstances, a unified Korea would certainly have evolved into something new over time, as virtually all communist states have. And there’s no use talking about dictatorships here because South Korea was ruled by dictatorial government for decades after WWII.

It is America which keep North Korea as “the hermit kingdom.”

A huge well-equipped American army to the south. Ships frequently offshore. Deliberately provocative plane flights. Regular war games on a massive scale. Thermonuclear weapons stored just over in Guam.

No diplomatic recognition. No direct talks ever, even now. No peace treaty even considered for going-on 70 years.

The US has been powerful and stupid here, as it has been in so many parts of the world.
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Response to a reader who said “Mattis must be one of those who simply don’t understand just how much the USA is loathed across planet earth. The vast majority of conflict, suffering and unrest is solely due to the actions of his country.”

None of America’s leaders understands that fact.

When they show up somewhere, it is all pomp and ceremony, making them feel good, no matter how twisted they or their secret mission may be.

Look at Nikki Haley.

An utterly ridiculous figure at the UN, embarrassingly preaching to and patronizing diplomats, who in many cases know far more about the matters under discussion than she does, yet of course she must be given all diplomatic courtesies.

The often highly-educated people listening to her truly ignorant speeches just have to grin and bear it, and, of course, like so many American diplomats, she actually threatens her listeners with reduced American financial support to the UN if they don’t agree with what she suggests. A thoroughgoing bully.

I should add, nor do America’s leaders really care what other people think. Remember candidate George Bush actually bragging and chuckling about how he never read the international section of his newspaper? It is a popular and widespread prejudice in America.

It is the pure arrogance of power, not really different in any detail to the attitude of great dukes in France in the early 1700s. Their carriages simply left peasants in their path as “road kill.”

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA TODAY

Kentucky to speed up relocation of Confederate monuments after Charlottesville violence
in neighboring Charlottesville, Virginia

The great irony of these matters is that the Civil War was not about slavery. Lincoln himself said that if that if he could, he would end the war and keep slavery in place.

The war was about states’ rights, a matter which had troubled American politics and affairs since the country’s founding.

Few people realize how consequential the Civil War was. An estimated 600,000 people died in the 1860s. Nearly a century later, in WWII, a war that in total killed over 50 million, American total losses were about 300,000.

The Civil War monuments are history as surely as any anywhere, but public sensibilities and politics change, and it is stupid to fight over the fact.
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Response to a comment about slavery dying out:

Sorry, but you are wrong about slavery.

Slavery actually evolved into something new and more hideous near the time of the Civil War. Individual slave workers disappeared on the great estates to be replaced by gang-slavery, a system of chaining together large blocks of men who then moved through the fields much like a machine.

It was a big improvement in pure efficiency terms. Slave agriculture became more competitive.

If you read the scholarly book, Years on the Cross, you will see how slavery evolved and would have evolved more. It would have been a very long time before it died a natural death, if indeed it ever did.
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Response to another comment about few Southerners having slaves:

This is not accurate.

Many comparatively modest farmers owned a slave or two.

In some cases, they were women and were used for sex. Indeed, at the slave auctions, some women were featured openly for their attractions.

The result is that there is not a single black American today without genes from European types.
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Response to another reader comment:

“defeated Christian Civilization”?

Bizarre, and with the tone of some of the extreme Internet sites.

Lincoln did consciously want the central government to gain authority over the states.

In that sense, he finished the unfinished work of creating a nation.

It had nothing to do with Christianity. Many of the most prominent founders were not Christians but Deists or even atheists, very stylish beliefs of the period in Europe. This included Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and others.
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Response to another reader’s comment:

Of course, it’s obvious you cannot change history.

But our memorials and books change all the time, taking on new emphasis or indeed changing an interpretation.

By the way, it was real history, but there are not many monuments to Benedict Arnold in America. And none that I know of to the Loyalists, decent people who were terribly abused by the “Patriots.” And, there is no major monument to slavery itself. Certainly not in Washington.
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Response to another reader comment about “Lee was right”:

Sorry, Lee was never a politician. He did what he saw as his duty when asked.

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Donald Trump says North Korea risks being ‘in trouble like few nations have ever been’
Rather than toning down his language President Donald Trump issues new threat against North Korean regime

Making ugly threats is not leadership, although it does pass for it in certain parts of America.

The real problem here is America, not North Korea.

Despite all the blizzard of propaganda from America, North Korea is a real threat to no one.

You live with a far more threatening thermonuclear-armed Israel, an Israel which practices slavery and theft, so what is your problem?

One of Obama’s former national security people just the other day said we can live with North Korea.

And it is true. Just ask Russia or China, both neighbors.

Only those directly under American influence approve Trump’s ugly threats and noises, trying to make it all sound like a universal chorus.

The idea of being “tough” being exhibited by Trump is stuff that only goes down with the loons on the alt-right – in trailer parks, motorcycle gang gatherings, tent-preacher crusades, and gun club meetings – all over America.

And since when is appropriate to communicate through the press rather than directly with the country concerned?

But I forget, America’s government simply refuses ever to even talk with North Korea or to recognize them and certainly never to sign a peace treaty with them. No, we’ll make our threats of thermonuclear annihilation through the press.

Truly, this is not a country fit to govern the world’s affairs.

America’s temporary position of being able to do so is a fluke of history following WW II, not a reflection on its innate national character or merit.

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN ACTIVIST POST

“Free Market Alternatives To Obamacare”

This is really tired old set of arguments made with no genuine understanding of markets.

Modern medicine is not, and can never be, a free market.

Just the fact that only doctors with certain accepted credentials can prescribe life-saving drugs or open a practice should tell someone who understands economics that there is no free market here.

American medicine is a complex patchwork of market restrictions, limits, and hidden subsidies, such as government funding of medical education, medical research, and even hospitals.

This article shows a childish understanding of the real economics.

What you have in American medicine, at best, is a complex set of things much resembling a very large international free trade agreement.

As any economist can tell you, free trade agreements are not truly free trade.

They are “managed trade” with all kinds of complexities and artificialities built in through difficult negotiations and made law by treaties.

Their rules and agreements can run thousands of pages.

Yes, you can just erase free trade agreements such as NAFTA, but even loose-lipped Trump isn’t doing that. He’s renegotiating details, looking to “improve” the treaty.

Just the same for America’s bizarre medical system, bizarre not just because of Obamacare but for dozens of reasons including various parallel systems such as the VA.

You could not, if you tried, come up with a more complex and heavy-handed system than America’s.

Obamacare’s flaws, which are plentiful, just reflect the same mentality as the rest of the system. Private insurance should not even have had a role. But try telling that to an American Congressman or Senator.

The VA and Medicare and other elaborate creations should have been folded into the same single national market with a common set of rules and a common administration. Such an administration would also have immense market power over important additional matters such as the price of drugs.

But most of America’s politicians cannot think that way. Lobbying and campaign contributions lock you into a ridiculously complicated and costly system, even without Obamacare.

Again, the insistence on ending a faulty system which nevertheless helps a good many people is not a sign of intelligence or sound policy.

Design an alternative, explain how it affects everyone, and then, maybe, replace Obamacare.

But there is not a hint of that happening, so you do look ridiculous just desperately trying to cut out the one portion of the total mess which bears the name of a disliked politician.

The best, most logical approach would prove undoubtedly to be a national single-payer, but I know that will not come in America anytime soon.

That kind of clear thinking totally eludes many Americans because they have lived with horrible messes all their lives and believe that to just the way things are meant to be.

They believe in what they have in much the same way they believe that the Pentagon is about “defense” or that the CIA is about information.

America’s system, with or without Obamacare, remains the worst, the most costly, and the least effective in terms of total outcomes of all the systems in all advanced countries.

It is literally the kind of confused thinking reflected in the article that gives Americans their ghastly medical system results.

The writer apparently believes that the famous kitsch painting “The Doctor,” 1891, actually reflects American medicine.

Good God, what nonsense.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Donald Trump says US military ‘locked and loaded’ for North Korea
Plans ‘now fully in place’ if Pyongyang ‘acts unwisely’, President tweets

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Response to a reader who said: “Lets not forget the American Generals who in the past have suggested dropping nuclear weapons on Vietnam and N. Korea before…not sure if they suggested anywhere else.”

The Pentagon madmen did a great deal more than that.

President Kennedy was presented a detailed plan by the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs for a massive first strike on the Soviet Union. He left the briefing, in his own words, feeling sick at his stomach.

They also developed plans for doing the same thing with Mao’s China.

Israel’s nuclear arsenal does not exist without all kinds of complicity, too.

And when Israel had a dirty deal with Nationalist South Africa to supply them help with their small nuclear arsenal (removed with the fall of the Nationalist government) in return for considerations in the supply of strategic materials and minerals, can anyone believe the CIA did not know?

There was even a totally secret joint Israeli-South African nuclear test in the ocean spotted by spy satellite.

Remember, before the pressure against Apartheid really developed a head of steam, the US protected and encouraged South Africa as a “bulwark against communism.”

Of course, America’s dropping two atomic bombs on civilians – with a series of a dozen cities actually on a list of planned targets – was one of the 20th century’s great atrocities.

But the bombing horrors of America go way beyond the nuclear.

At the last stages of the war with Japan, there wasn’t, by America’s own military assessments, a single primary or secondary target left standing in the country.

And much of it done with massive fire-bombings, making the final atomic bombings a gratuitous horror. Vast numbers of people died horribly without the atomic bombs.

The lessons learned by the Pentagon kept being applied. In Korea, the bombing was more horrific than we have ever been told by government. The Pentagon used carpet bombing of cities for three years. General Curtis LeMay bragged that the US killed twenty percent of the entire population of North Korea.

In Vietnam, the US killed an estimated 3 million with carpet bombing, napalm, and early cluster bombs.

Since they also bombed neutral Cambodia and destabilized it, they are surely responsible for the “killing fields” which followed and saw a million perish.

There have been dozens or smaller operations, but Iraq of course was another very large one. Cluster bombs were widely used, mangling children and others.

White phosphorus incendiaries were used, and the use of depleted uranium munitions has left the country with a cancer-inducing killer cloud of dust.

About a million died in Iraq, and after-effects are still killing, just as buried landmines and cluster bombs and a sea of Agent Orange are still killing in Vietnam.

Yes, indeed, they do love their killing at the Pentagon, but with all the media control and public relations efforts, a lot of people still do not understand how truly vicious their record is.

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE ON INVESTMENTWATCH

Found this video of a guy [George Bush] running for president in 2000 talking about a humble, non-interventionist, no nation-building foreign policy. Anyone know what happened to him?

Bush, in a very real sense, never was President.

He signed papers and made dumb speeches, attended events and had lots of official photos taken in places such as on-board Air Force One holding a phone.

Cheney and Rumsfeld – both heavily connected to the deepest intelligence establishment through their international corporate careers – were the ones putting the papers in front of Bush for signing.

Bush proved modern America does not really need a president, except to formally comply with old laws.

He was a figurehead, a truly laughable one, and remains a pathetic historical figure.

Both Obama and Trump are more intelligent, but both, despite coming from almost different ends of the political spectrum, pretty quickly ended up as signers, not deciders. All of the speeches and rhetoric aside, claiming this or that, asserting this or that, have little to do with the realities of power in America.

I’m not sure anything else is even possible today.

All those powerful and unaccountable good ol’ boys are not having their ongoing plans and efforts disrupted by a mere newly-elected official with some different ideas, from whatever part of the political spectrum he comes.

The last president who actually insisted on his authority over those people left half his head splattered in a street in Dallas.

The American government has created a monster it has no idea how to control.

It was not the work of any single party or politician but the natural outgrowth of a set of circumstances with Congress and President aligning themselves with the country’s vast corporations in their efforts throughout the world – a world in the immediate postwar period almost free of serious economic competitors, all of whom had been flattened – and employing an immense and ever-growing military-security apparatus for the work of putting other governments in their places.

That massive tangle of resources, elite persons, and powerful secretive institutions – what I call America’s power establishment – took on a life of its own and gradually assumed a position from which it cannot be shaken.

When you consider what America has really become in the post-WWII period – a vast and brutal world empire having no relationship to what ordinary Americans like to think of as a government serving their interests and respecting rules on a piece of parchment from almost a quarter of a millennium ago – perhaps no alternative arrangement is possible.

Slogans like “drain the swamp” are simply bad jokes which embarrassingly display many Americans’ ignorance of their own country’s realities. It all much resembles an ordinary citizen who really believes that the police and the military are there to serve and protect them. No, police and the military are there to keep ordinary citizens in line and to protect the people who really do run things.

Trump, despite a free flow of rhetoric and slogans, really has little more independence of action than a middling bureaucrat in a gigantic international corporation.

Again, in the end, you can either have an empire or a decent country. It is literally impossible to have both.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Henry Kissinger warns destroying Isis could lead to ‘Iranian radical empire’

I’m surprised at Kissinger on this.

I’ve never liked or admired him, but his intelligence is not to be doubted.

This thesis, however, seems at about the level of an American Congressman or Nikki Haley.
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Response to a comment about if only Iraq hadn’t been invaded:

Iraq was a disaster down to every last result. A colossal blunder whose full impact has yet to be realized. The idea of its likely boost to Iran’s influence in the region was offered by experts at the time but, of course, ignored by the Bush brain trust.

We had Israel’s incessant demands behind the scenes for American action there.

Just as they were major players in promoting and supporting the horror in Syria, an enterprise which now appears to have failed.

Today, we have Israel whispering in Trump’s ear regularly about Iran. A project long on Israel’s to-do list. Sharon used to blubber on about it.

Could old Henry be parroting the war criminal in Tel Aviv?

Quite possibly, after all, Israel really is a de facto American colony in the Middle East.

The most subsidized and over-protected colony on earth.

And old Henry has made much of his life’s work the support and promotion of America’s empire.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN SPUTNIK

In an exceptional episode, little-known and never acknowledged in the Western mainstream media, Israel secretly negotiated a billion dollar buy-out of North Korea’s missile export program to the Middle East. Negotiations ran between 1992 and 1994, when the US intervened to terminate the deal.

This is an interesting item of which I had not been aware.

It is in the same category, but not quite as spectacularly evil, as Israel’s special relationship with Apartheid South Africa.

Israel secured strategic mineral supplies and other materials they wanted and in exchange, South Africa received illegal aid in becoming a nuclear-armed state.

South Africa only had a small nuclear arsenal, said to have been half a dozen bombs or warheads.

South Africa’s nuclear forces were quietly dismantled after the fall of the Nationalist government.

There has always been a mystery about where the fissile material ended up, enough to make at least half a dozen bombs.

The man who knew, international weapons expert, Britain’s Dr. Kelly, was murdered around the time of the Iraq invasion.

He had been talking to BBC about the realities of Iraq’s weapons, and it was not welcome. Tony Blair stepped down hard on BBC at the time, and it has never recovered from his repression.

Kelly’s death was crudely made to look like a suicide, but people that knew him well said that that was impossible for several reasons, including his handedness.

The idea that his death was a Mossad operation to shut him up about the unknown whereabouts of South Africa’s fissile material is a strong possibility.

In any event, Israel’s dealing in nuclear proliferation is just a historical fact.

They never paid a price for the unholy business so far as I am aware.

The trade in nuclear weapons technology was Just one more bit of dirty dealing by the world’s genuine “rogue state.”

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

North Korea threatens to strike US territory of Guam after Trump ‘fire and fury’ warning
_______________________

Response to a reader who wrote: “It’s a good thing they didn’t elect Hilary, isn’t it? Because Trump’s supporters told us she was a warmonger. Whilst, six months in the job and Trump has been a real force for world peace. /sarcasm”:

True, but you miss something fundamental.

What Trump has definitively proved – especially after the Obama experience – is that it just does not matter who is elected as president.

The interests running America bend anyone who is elected to their purposes, and if they cannot bend them, they break them.

The last election offered a woman who already proved she worshipped at the throne of American war and empire and had done some real killing, for example, in Libya, versus an outsider who definitely gave some strong signals of doing a few important things differently.

He has failed, and badly. The failure is owing both to his own unexpected weaknesses and the non-stop assault of the American establishment trying to prevent his campaign signals – about peaceful cooperation with Russia and about wars in the Middle East – from ever becoming national policy.

Just like Obama, who, when he ran, seemed a pleasant, enlightened man, but ended by bombing half a dozen countries, killing over half a million people, sending millions more fleeing as refugees, and has the great distinction of having started the world’s first industrial-scale extrajudicial killing operation, putting the old Argentine Junta to shame in the scale of “disappearing” people.

The only reasonable conclusion about the United States to draw from these facts is that its barely-democratic, money-drenched political system is not capable of putting an elected official in real charge.

The military-security-corporate establishment controls the main direction of American affairs. It functions much like a giant corporate enterprise, only one armed with a thermonuclear arsenal and served by vast armies, both uniformed and covert.

Just reflect back on George Bush fils, the first certified moron president. He ran nothing, just signed papers and made stupid speeches.

Cheney and Rumsfeld – both deeply connected to the military-security establishment through their international corporate careers – were the ones deciding which papers to put in front of Bush for his signature.

Truly, talking about America today in traditional terms of this party versus that, this candidate versus that, being better or worse is close to meaningless.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Discovery of biggest dinosaur ever hailed by scientists as fossilised bones of Patagotitan unearthed in Argentina

I have been interested in dinosaurs since childhood.

And the truly remarkable thing over that period is the work of many, many scientists using ever-new technologies to change our entire understanding.

The reptile thesis passed away.

The bird thesis seems confirmed.

The variety of species has become immense, especially with discoveries in China and Argentina.

The whole idea of true gigantism has arisen, as with these Titanosaurs.

We’ve found everything from eggs and skin to feathers and organs. Just amazing.

The lessons of the period are, I think, first, the amazing fact that the inanimate universe retains its own history and that, second, technology just keeps advancing enabling us to discover that history.
___________________________
Response to another reader speculating on what caused such a huge dinosaur to evolve:

It may have had something to do with evolutionary response to the size of their opponents too.

It is also in Argentina, they’ve discovered bigger-than-ever versions of the raptors.
____________________________

Response to another reader discussing two different “tons”:

I believe we actually have three “tons.”

The short ton (2000 pounds) is the American measure. The just say “ton.”

The long ton (aka, the imperial ton – 2240 pounds) is the old British measure.

The tonne (French metric – 1000 kilograms – 2,204.6 pounds) just happens to be close to the imperial ton, but is a different measure.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

What nuclear war between the US and North Korea might look like

Oh, please, now you are down to the level of comic books.

There can be no such thing.

The US has literally thousands of sophisticated thermonuclear (an important distinction) warheads in various forms deliverable by all many also-sophisticated systems from supersonic planes to short- and long-range missiles.

North Korea has somewhere between a half dozen and twenty fairly primitive nuclear weapons.

It claimed to have created an H-bomb (thermonuclear) but this isn’t at all clear, and if they did, its yield is poor as measured from their tests.

Their nuclear weapons likely resemble America’s early atomic bombs in being huge and awkward and not very sophisticated and with low yields.

North Korea has absolutely no really sophisticated delivery systems.

They have medium range missiles on which they might be able to rig one of their bombs. The target would be Seoul, South Korea, one of the world’s most populous cities and located a short distance from the border.

There are many clever people in North Korea, as they’ve proved with what a poor country has accomplished. They know all the details.

North Korea has no wish to commit national suicide.

Our concern should be America’s new aggressive bluster in a delicate situation requiring diplomacy.

Few readers perhaps realize that America never even directly speaks to North Korea. They don’t recognize them, and America has always refused to sign a peace treaty from the early 1950s war.

There is absolutely no diplomacy, and little intelligence, coming from America.

China and Russia, being neighbors, have a far better grasp of the situation. They are worth listening to on this matter. America is not.

Again,

https://theintercept.com/2017/05/03/why-do-north-koreans-hate-us-one-reason-they-remember-the-korean-war/

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN INVESTMENTWATCH

Europe is among the walking dead; their future is an Islamic one. America, had a CHOICE & voted to SAVE AMERICA & Elect Trump!

Oh, please, this is colossally ignorant.

Europe’s “mistake” is America’s fault.

American bombing created the flood of refugees.

Europe tried to be humane, but accepting different people of any kind in such huge numbers as America’s Neocon Wars created is always destabilizing.

The difficulties have nothing to do with Islam. It has to do with huge, chaotic movements of people, and when you speak of millions moving, you always include some criminals and mentally ill.

God, America’s own violence record – by civilians, by police, and on the highways – should convince you America’s own population is loaded with criminals and mentally ill people. You set records in the Western world, full stop.

I live in a place where we have many Muslims, and they live in peace and harmony. They are, without a doubt, some of our best migrants.

Garbage like this article just slanders good people.

Our murder rates are so low they make America’s look nightmarish by comparison.

Muslims are not your problem. Your national government bombing everyone is, but that’s just one more aspect of America’s home-grown violence, isn’t it?

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE ON BREITBART

Nikki Haley Warns UN Against Inaction in Wake of Iranian Rocket Launch

The woman is simply a moron.

But I’m sorry to say that puts her in good company with a huge part of the American government.

The truth is that, over time, all people like Nikki Haley achieve is gradually convincing the world’s people that the United states has nothing worth saying.

The only people who think Nikki Haley is cool are senior members of the Israeli government.

And, surely, we all know what a great part of the world’s people thinks of them.
______________________
Response posted to a reader who accused my comment of displaying anti-Semitism and went on to praise Nikki Haley in terms only a weird American Christian gun-nut type could fully appreciate:

And that’s more than pretty ignorant. It’s totally ignorant.

There is no anti-Semitism in my words. Only an observation about senior Israeli government officials, who are regarded by millions and millions as war criminals.

And the last time I noticed Israel was a country, not a religion.

Nikki Haley has made speech after speech about Israel and the needs of Israel and accusing the UN of prejudice.

She often sounds more like the Ambassador for Israel than the one for the US.

I have no idea why she is stuck on that theme, but she clearly is, and it is bizarre to any objective listener.

Saying that isn’t prejudice, it’s just plain observation.

You had the “honor” of meeting her? That sure impresses me. I suggest you share this wonderful fact more widely. Perhaps a Facebook page on your meeting with Nikki Haley?

The woman is a loon. She strings together non-sequiturs in her laughable speeches like the one using Lincoln’s words from the Second Inaugural Address about America being mankind’s last great hope. That sounds laughable to the other 95% of humanity while you bomb the shit out of half a dozen countries and maintain an industrial-scale extrajudicial killing operation that makes the old Argentine Junta seem amateurs.

She almost makes Hillary look good. Now, that’s quite an achievement.

I think the description offered of her in a Russian publication, Russia Insider, was right on the mark. She resembles a Waffle House waitress. From the night shift. She talks like one too.

Talk about prejudice! Yours jumps out from the page. Who the hell cares what Haley’s religion is? I never asked. I never speculated, I never cared. I will never care.

Well, you do apparently. And what is that crypto-weird stuff about “converted”? Converted from what? Scientology? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Zoroastrianism?

What does being “converted” have to do with anything? Why would it interest anyone? You, my friend, have a rather odd sense of values.

And again, what the hell does it matter where her brother “served” or her husband? Does that somehow give her full blood brotherhood claims in the American empire? It’s irrelevant, totally, to anything. Indeed, it only tells me that some of Nikki’s mental deficiencies run in the family. Killing people in pointless imperial wars is called “serving”? And killing by “Christians”?

Irrelevant, except to Americans like you who pee their pants over details like that.

Oh, maybe you could give us her shoe size? It’s about as meaningful as the rest of your remarks.

But perhaps I write with a bit too much cynicism and even contempt – I confess to having contempt for publicly-displayed ignorance – when addressing someone who, my God, has actually met Nikki Haley!

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN SPUTNIK

Israel to Build Underground Wall on Sinai Border Amid Daesh Threat

This has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with ISIS (aka, Daesh).

This is the ultimate project to totally encapsulate the unfortunate people who reside in the world’s largest outdoor prison, Gaza.

The hypocrisy of Israel screams at its loudest possible level in a phony claim about ISIS by Israel.

Tunnels have for years provided an important lifeline to the people of Gaza, a million and a half souls Israel keeps effectively in a concentration camp.

They have no freedom to travel. They have no freedom to receive visitors. Their fishermen cannot go far from shore without being shot by Israel gunboats. The perimeter of their compound is equipped with radar-operated machine gun towers, like something out of a science-fiction story.

Israel’s years-long blockade keeps many essentials from entering Gaza, including basic building materials to repair what Israel’s bombing destroyed.

Israel has committed here such atrocities as spraying dangerous herbicides on great swathes of their farmland, bringing to mind America’s horrible use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. It has shut down their electricity. It has lowlifes who’ve deliberately dumped great loads of sewerage onto their land.

When the few settlers who used to live in Gaza finally left, some of them actually poisoned the water wells – kind of the ultimate savagery in a semi-desert. Israel controls the flow of outside funds. Israel controls even the receipt of postage.

Such works of hatred almost cannot be imagined by ordinary people living ordinary lives in other places. These people have been total captives for more than half a century, and in the last decade they have been treated as we might expect Nazi camp guards to treat people.

Why? Because Hamas, a democratic organization, won an election, replacing the famously–corrupt Fatah, just as originally Israel intended when it early on, covertly assisted Hamas just to create division among the Palestinians. But once Hamas actually was elected, it was declared – against all reasonable evidence – a terrorist organization, with the pliable American government pressured to agree. Hamas was elected by people seeking clean government, but it is despised by Israel.

You see, clean government, elected and popularly supported by the Palestinians, is exactly what Israel does not want. It doesn’t like unity and leadership among Palestinians. It doesn’t even like democracy, as it has demonstrated many times in its relations with all of its neighbors from Egypt and Saudi Arabia to Jordan. Democracy amongst non-Israelis is viewed as too risky and dangerous. The brag about being the Mideast’s only democracy is extremely hollow for this reason as well as the fact that only one kind of people can become Israelis to vote in its elections.

Some of Hamas’s leaders were assassinated. Its president was openly threatened several times with assassination. Gangs of goon Israeli soldiers ran into Gaza and arrested large numbers of elected government members soon after their election and kidnapped them to Israel.

Israel still treats Fatah’s Abbas who resides in the West Bank – a man who has not faced an election in years – as the legitimate leader of Palestine, although it doesn’t even talk to him much. Why? Abbas is a very accommodating personality, a kind of “Stepin Fetchit” character, and it is handy to have a Palestinian you can wheel out onto the stage whenever it seems important to have a Palestinian official around for public relations purposes. Of course, the people of Gaza voted him out years ago, and he remains unelected in the West Bank.

Finally, Israel imposed an illegal and immoral blockade on a people who really have done nothing. In its original form, before covert international pressure, this blockade actually had a carefully calculated number of calories per person allowed in an effort to bring all these people to their knees. You could not even buy a candy bar in Gaza.

I don’t know how it gets more Nazi-like than that. No, Israel has not mass-murdered all these people – although it has killed thousands and Israel is not without voices calling for mass killing or expulsion – but keeping generation after generation of people in hopeless squalor without votes or rights or freedom of movement or any real access to the world at large is to my mind not morally superior.

It is a kind of living death Israel maintains in Gaza, and it is intended to make the people so miserable that they leave or beg for mercy. We have words to that effect, advocating making them miserable, from many prominent Israelis, going back to Moshe Dayan. One Israeli prime minister was quoted saying he had nightmares over Gaza. Well, that hideous man, Netanyahu, is doing everything he can think of to make the nightmares go away.

This underground wall is the cherry on the cake, as it were. The brave people of Gaza for years have laboriously dug tunnels to Sinai, tunnels which Israel has always diligently searched for and destroyed. But the Gazans keep building new ones to get at least a steady trickle of the life-sustaining things Israel prevents their receiving. Now, even that is to be shut off with an underground wall. This really is cruelty beyond endurance.

And the excuse? To prevent ISIS (Deash) from using tunnels to threaten Israel. But ISIS is in part an Israeli creation, used to destroy Syria and Iraq. ISIS has never once shown any intention of attacking Israel or Israeli interests. It attacks only people Israel hates. We know Israel has supplied ISIS in the past both from weapons caches uncovered in Syria and from observers of aviation patterns. Israel’s northern hospitals also openly served some of the wounded terrorists fighting the government of Syria.

So, if any threat has been received in Israel at all, it is one manufactured by Mossad to give the government a seemingly-plausible excuse for continuing to entomb the people of Gaza.

FOOTNOTE: Along the same lines of literally entombing Gaza, Israel has plans to build a huge artificial blockading island just a short distance from Gaza’s coast.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE ON THE RIGHT WING

This October, Trump Will Try to Start a War with Iran

Trump undoubtedly has come under pressure from Israel and the Israel Lobby concerning the failure of the Syrian project.

This is not pressure easily shrugged-off because Israel has a direct pipeline to many influential Senators and Congressmen, the very people making the legislative life of Trump a nightmare.

Destroying Syria was one of Israel’s beloved projects, much as was the invasion and destruction of Iraq, handed them by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush.

Well, now that it is pretty clear that they will not get their way, for the most part, in Syria, I’m sure there is intense pressure to make things good with still another beloved project going back years, destroying or badly damaging Iran.

For people like the late murderous Ariel Sharon, this was the Holy Grail of Mideast Projects, and he more than once spoke of it.

You see, Iran is a competitor – actually the only competitor – for regional hegemony, and Israel hates them for that fact. Ironically, the war crimes committed in the invasion of Iraq had the unintended result of actually improving Iran’s regional geo-political situation in some ways.

Israel’s non-stop hatred for Iran, judging from statements of Israeli political figures, has nothing to do with fear of being attacked by Iran or anti-Semitism, those being flimsily plausible arguments regularly put-up by Israel.

Iran would never attack Israel unless it were attacked first, and there is no evidence of any especially great anti-Semitism in Iran, tens of thousands of Jews living there peacefully, much to the consternation of Israeli ideologues.

Well, the one propitiating sacrifice for the failure of Syria Trump could make that would be acceptable to Israel would be Iran.

Trump, the man who so far has failed in virtually his every effort, may just think war on Iran could provide a huge political success. We can be sure that the daily phone calls from Tel Aviv are full of whispered suggestions to that effect.

And, of course, the Democrats, still after Trump’s presidency through non-stop attacks about non-existent deals with Russia and other fantasy nonsense and avoiding the need to deal with their immense internal political failures, would also welcome war with Iran.

They have been, after all, for some decades the true war party, and the long rampage through the Middle East by Obama, assisted by Hillary, was their gift to the world with at least half a million people killed and millions made homeless.

It is a very dangerous time.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

‘Based on the robustness of our system, we know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a national constituent assembly was manipulated’

This is crap.

The company quoted above, Smartmatic, is a part of SGO Group in London.

Does anyone really believe an outfit like that works independently of government policies and security services in its international business?

And we know exactly where Britain’s official view is on Venezuela.

It comes directly from Langley Virginia, from the same twisted people whose director has already announced that they are working on toppling a democratic government.

They have no shame at all anymore about their dirty work.

At any rate, what is going on in Venezuela is absolutely another form of war, covert war funded and guided by the CIA, and I don’t know of any government that has not taken extraordinary steps when someone declares war on their country.

We cannot possibly wade through all the arguments and claims of a situation like this.

The CIA literally has an army of operators who churn out plausible-sounding stories in such situations. It is a hopeless task to sort through their output, as it is very much meant to be hopeless.

But I know for sure the psychopathic frat-boys at CIA are on the job of toppling a democratic government.

And that is all I really need to know.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RINF

Shielding Israel From Popular Outrage

Anti-BDS laws like the one being prepared in America cut right to the heart of a free society.

Imagine legislating away an entire people’s right to peaceful, voluntary protest against what they see as oppression and abuse abroad?

And doing so to serve lobbyists who make generous campaign contributions to the very legislators pushing the undemocratic law?

______________________________
Response to a reader who said:
“If BDS can be made illegal, why not campaign contributions?”

Well, yes, but that’s too logical for America.

Most Americans have no idea of the massive role of money in American politics.

A US Senator spends on average – and this has been studied – two-thirds of his or her time raising funds. A US member of the House of Representatives spends hours every week at a bank of dedicated phones, trying to raise money.

I think were the humiliating day-to-day realities of the situation revealed in a short hard-edged documentary film everyone could see, there would be widespread shock and revulsion.

All of America’s accommodating the brutal excesses of Israel pretty well stems from the campaign finance system because well-organized and well-financed lobbyists like those for Israel know how to manipulate it.

But so do many other excesses. Money rules in almost every aspect of American national politics. The joke about the best government money can buy is no joke.

But the existing establishment of American politicians appears quite satisfied with the corrupt system, and America’s Supreme Court has ruled that money is free speech – a ruling about as sensible and ethical as Dred Scott was. How many American national politicians do you hear complaining? How many clamor for serious reform?

The campaign finance system is a self-inflicted horror, but given America’s attitudes and prejudices – as, say, towards government-supported election expenses which, I am sure, would be just as anathema as government-supported health care – I see no way out.

At the Presidential level, it took man reputedly worth 8 billion dollars to defeat Hillary’s spending somewhere between 1.2 and 1.8 billion dollars, all of which came from special interests and big corporations who expected a return.

But, as we can now see, Trump’s personal wealth purchased no independence of action from the money-driven establishment dominating Washington. He is having a hard time even keeping his head above water and flaps his arms around to no effect.

America is in reality a plutocracy, just one with a lot of window dressing and stage acting around the idea of democracy. That is not an exaggeration. It only sounds exaggerated to those who do not think and do not inform themselves.

The entire tableau of the Founding Fathers in their wigs and frock coats gathered to create something new and honorable – a tableau much beloved by Trump’s base supporters – is no more than a pleasant, childish fantasy, having absolutely nothing to do with the way America actually is governed.

Think of any number of American politicians, some of reasonably humble origins, and look at how rich they’ve become. How do people on government salaries get to be worth millions and millions of dollars, especially when the costs of maintaining yourself in office are high in everything from wardrobe and grooming to maintaining more than one home?

We see this not just in egregious examples like Hillary Clinton, but in many, many others. Bernie Sanders is worth millions. Good old rebel rouser Maxine Waters is, too. Former Senator and “environmentalist” Al Gore lives in a massive house where the utility bills alone are said to be $30,000, and he is worth literally hundreds of millions of dollars. It appears a life of government service in America can be remarkably rewarding.

America is a plutocracy, not just in its campaign finance system, but through and through.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY ANDREW BUNCOMBE IN THE INDEPENDENT

“Why Donald Trump could never tolerate someone who was more like Donald Trump than he was”

Andrew Buncombe generates more than his share of rubbish, causing me to regard him as a hack propagandist, but this piece sets a record. It is so bad, it literally smells.

You cannot get further away from journalism or analysis than Buncombe does in this literal parody attack piece.

Apart from making ridiculous claims about Trump, things he cannot possibly know, the author has missed the real lessons of these events.

First, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who recommended this nasty piece of work for the job, has absolutely no judgment.

She has demonstrated her lack of judgment on several occasions – her embarrassing performance at the G-20 and her reported advocacy of Trump’s cruise missile attack in Syria a while ago in response to a clearly phony gas attack (and some might add her choice of a husband, the regrettable and fumbling Jared) – but I think this one is decisive.

She helped get a monster into a position where he didn’t belong. And the monster quickly proved dangerous and embarrassing on a scale I’m not sure we’ve experienced before in a high-level spokesperson.

Scaramucci made it clear to everyone he was totally unfit for a job of political communications.

This brings us to a second important point. Trump is, surprisingly, quite a coward.

Scaramucci should have been fired within the hour after his obscene performance, but he wasn’t.

The job of firing this foul-mouthed lunatic waited for the appointment of Trump’s new Chief of Staff.

It reminds me of Richard Nixon. Nixon is known for having hated to fire people and always left the dirty work to others.

His quietly ruthless, personality-free, Nazi-like Chief of Staff, Bob Haldeman, was given the job of difficult firings.

Of course, at the time, it was surprising thing to learn about a man like Nixon who had a reputation for toughness and even ruthlessness.

Well, here’s Trump doing exactly the same cowardly stunt. Some toughness. Some ruthlessness.

Cowardice, just as he showed earlier by virtually collapsing to the idiotic assaults of the corrupt Democrats and the political interference of the CIA about Russia.

I would never have believed Trump a coward and had hoped before his election that here might be a man who indeed was tough enough to deal with Washington’s ugly, powerful entrenched establishment, perhaps ending the hideous Neocon Wars in the Mideast started by the smiling Obama who quietly, loyally served that same establishment.

But, no, Trump does not have the “right stuff.”

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A COLUMN IN THE INDEPENDENT

Hilary Clinton releasing book about 2016 US election loss to Donald Trump titled ‘What Happened?’

‘Now I’m letting my guard down’

Who is she trying to kid?

This woman has never let her guard down once since she was three years old.

She lives a completely synthetic life, never saying anything sincere, never doing anything which isn’t profitable either in money or political opportunity.

Great portions of her life are complete fabrications, as the real father of Chelsea or the use of Clinton Foundation funds again and again for her own purposes, as in the case of a three million-dollar wedding for darling Chelsea.

The record of her questionable to outright unethical activities is extremely long.

Now, she can’t even accept the fact that the reason she lost was herself, not the Russians, not any hacking, not the former Director of the FBI, but herself.

People who know anything about her don’t like her, except of course, for fellow travelers trying to benefit from her success, people like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or John Podesta, themselves people of very questionable ethics.

It is almost unbelievable but with this phony book she is trying to position herself for another run at the presidency.

And, of course, she did not write this book, just as she did not write the others with her name on the covers.

A former ghostwriter for Hillary, a woman who wrote her own biography, offers some fairly hair-raising anecdotes about what it was like working for Hillary.

Hint: not nice.