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John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Bless you, Jimmy Carter, a man who genuinely deserved a Nobel Peace Prize.

Carter, a man of immense integrity and great understanding, is one of the only prominent people in the Western world to speak truth about Israel’s unending brutality.

Our press goes on and on about natural disasters like Nepal’s earthquake, yet almost never gives notice to the very unnatural disaster Israel has created before our eyes.

And Mr. Carter’s reward? To be called an anti-Semite by many Israelis.

Using what happened three-quarters of a century ago in another country in another continent in extraordinary circumstances of war and hate to justify such atrocities makes no sense to any honest, impartial, and informed person.

Injustice is injustice no matter what history you may cite.

If you want a society of laws, then you must abide by laws.

You cannot stand outside the law, as Israel has done for its entire existence, and create anything worth creating.

The logic of Israel’s excuses is the logic shared by every tyrant and conqueror and criminal through history, all of them having their own important reasons for doing what they did, and it goes nowhere towards establishing the rule of law that is the only true refuge we have against the powerful and hateful and mad.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

Please don’t take Leona Aglukkaq’s words too seriously. They do not represent mainstream thinking in Canada.

Leona Aglukkaq has had a record of mishandling the ministerial portfolios she has been handed by Stephen Harper. Her time as Minister of Health is a genuinely embarrassing memory.

Stephen Harper’s 39%-government (his share of vote totals split several ways) is mighty light on talent. It is team, as they say in hockey, whose bench is pretty thin. So he must use virtual incompetents like Ms Aglukkaq to fill posts.

Mr. Harper has been appropriately nick-named a party of one. He has a personality, and this is not an exaggeration, sharing some characteristics with Stalin. No one in his government says one word that was not put into their mouths by him. The various comments coming from Ministers like Ms Aglukkaq these days not only do not reflect the views of most Canadians, they often may not even reflect the timid minister’s own views.

Readers may enjoy:

http://chuckmancartoons.blogspot.ca/search?updated-max=2013-05-11T12:04:00-07:00&max-results=300

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN BY OWEN JONES

A mostly accurate assessment, but we need more than the ballot change to gain something which can meaningfully be called democratic government.

Today, in Canada, Stephen Harper’s government, elected with just 39% of the vote, has busied itself with dismantling a good deal of what the world knew as Canada. It has a technical majority, and Mr. Harper is an effective parliamentary dictator whose policies stand against 60% of the electorate’s wishes. That isn’t democracy, by any measure, and I believe the situation in Britain with the unpleasant David Cameron is similar.

We have a terrible democratic deficit all over the so-called democratic world, and it is more than a little ridiculous that our (effectively unelected) leaders take us to bloody, meaningless wars, always blubbering about democracy, or they support the policies of a state in which half the people under its rule have no votes and absolutely no rights, again with blubbering about democracy, this time in the Middle East.

There are two essential reforms to claiming some genuine democratic government in the West. And there is a third which would largely complete the job.

First, as the writer suggests, get rid of “first past the post” voting. It is antiquated and genuinely undemocratic. A ballot listing ordered preferences would result always in a government in which a true majority of voters felt they had some investment. The common feeling of non-voters that “what difference does it make?” would be attenuated, and today in many Western countries half the people do not vote.

Second, and equally important, get the private and lobby money out of elections, entirely, and put severe penalties upon donors and receivers who break the rules in secret.

Create an agency to oversee elections with strict powers for accounting of campaign expenditures and legal powers to investigate.

American elections today, for example and with no exaggeration, are quite literally bought-and-paid-for. The Clintons, for example, have a history of grotesque fund-raising and spending. An American Senator, on average, spends two-thirds of his or her time in office raising funds. It results in government by and for elites. It also results in grotesque distortions of policy in favor of groups able to donate heavily, a major explanation for America’s go-nowhere policies in the Middle East.

In France we had stories of Sarkozy getting millions from an aged heiress and a huge secret donation from Qaddafi.

Mr. Blair was also a good buddy of Qaddafi and never saw a wealthy person he didn’t mark with obsequious treatment.

The last necessary reform for a semblance of democracy is the implementation of a quick-referendum system by computer to over-ride the legislature for all acts or policies involving life and death and especially war. The people who must sacrifice and live with the grim results should always make these decisions, not even an elected body or individual. I guarantee we would have fewer wars, and since overwhelmingly our wars only serve special interests, that would be a very good thing indeed.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO RUSSIA INSIDER

Ukrainians should be very careful about any training from American police.

American police forces have a well-earned reputation for violence and abuse.

They kill a large number of innocent Americans every year – estimated at 1,000 to 1,500 – far more than any terrorist dreams of. The statistics are not kept, almost certainly to suppress the shameful reality.

Few if any of them ever are dismissed or charged which means implicitly that American authorities accept the behavior.

But as few abroad, happily watching re-runs of American television situation comedies, will know America is a very brutal society in which to live.

Murder and violent crime rates are high. Police are often brutal. Prisons are extremely brutal. America maintains the world’s largest population of its own citizens behind bars. Some of its “super-max” prisons are an affront to human rights and decency. It embraces the death penalty too.

American police are militarized in their equipment, training, and attitudes, and the trend in militarization has only increased greatly in recent years. With all the meaningless colonial wars America has been fighting, there is a huge pool every year of ex-servicemen of course, all trained to kill, who need to be absorbed back into the civilian population, and police work is one of the typical destinations for them.

On top of those horrors, in recent years many American police forces have undergone training from Israeli forces, and surely there is no nation on earth whose record of killing and brutality on a per capita basis exceeds that of Israel.

It is a rather bleak picture in total, and I think any society which uses training or ideas from American police is desperate or lacks basic understanding.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Of course some of the ads are tasteless, but the human race does have a lot of tasteless and even grotesque people, and advertising’s whole point is to sell stuff to as many of us as possible.

Perhaps the truly tasteless ads – “Come out of the bone age” or “House rules” – tell us something about the tribe of apes to which we belong.

I do think the title here, “Selling White Women,” itself a bit trivial and overstated. The “white women” business too completely ignores the army of Asian and African and mixed-background women who have been mainstays for advertising for years.

We enjoy looking at beautiful women, just as we enjoy looking at beautiful birds, and the advertising industry takes full advantage of that.

It would be equally possible to find many examples of truly beautiful photographs of women used to sell stuff.

Indeed, the “will not go dull and lifeless”, while a screaming, embarrassingly Freudian fantasy, nevertheless is a stunning profile portrait of a beautiful woman.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/29/truth-adverts-white-women-hank-willis-thomas-expose#comments

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A YOU-TUBE VIDEO

Jolie is a truly absurd figure.

Blubbering preciously in the past about rape in war – something which always and everywhere has been part of the complete destruction of society and its norms and laws that is the very definition of war – here she is now advocating more war.

There’s no need to go over all the sad facts of Syria, a nation which already is the victim of covert brutality by outsiders, but anyone who advocates more killing there has to be considered stunningly ignorant.

I wish people who clearly understand so very little of what goes on in the world would just stick to buying designer shoes and attending dress-up fundraisers for fantasy causes like ending rape in war.

But one only has to remember that she is the daughter of actor Jon Voight, and things become considerably clearer. Voight has always perfectly fit the description of actors offered by the late Truman Capote, “The better the actor the more stupid he is.”

As for Jolie, she would appear to have missed out on both talent and brains.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE NATIONAL POST AND PROMPTLY REMOVED

This man’s words are pathetically ignorant special pleading and, in publishing them, the National Post shows how far it will go to stir up the right-wing against the proper working of justice. The comments generated by the article, the ones left posted, resemble an orgy of right-wing hate-masturbation.

You go to war, sometimes you get wounded. You don’t whine and snivel about it long afterward, even more so when you were a paid professional killer in America’s special services, as this man was.

The man was a Green Beret, the guys who made their wonderful reputation crawling around at night in the jungles of Vietnam to sneak into villages and cut civilian officials’ throats. They were part of the CIA’s Project Phoenix which included perhaps 40,000 such brave and honorable acts.

But here he is, whining about a 15-year old who was caught up in the bloody mess of war, as though he were a criminal.

Omar Khadr is not a criminal, full stop.

Otherwise every soldier and volunteer who ever went to a foreign war is a criminal, and there are hundreds of thousands of them, including many who ran off to Israel’s various wars to help the IDF kill Arabs.

But they are not treated as criminals by the law.

It has never been the practice, after a war is over, for the winners to try the losers as criminals, unless flagrant war crimes were involved, and even then, it generally has not been the practice.

The United States has itself behaved as a massive war criminal in Western Asia. War after war. Threat after threat. Killing after killing. Massacres. Assassinations. And plenty of torture. The “laws” of war were broken countless times by the United States, and then it had the arrogance to try others for war crimes after torturing them for confessions, including a child, no less.

Only recently, it has been confirmed that a million souls perished in America’s totally illegal invasion of Iraq. Criminal acts do not come a great deal larger than that, but no one received years of confinement and torture for being part of them, much less planning and authorizing them.

This young man was fifteen when American soldiers shot him – twice in the back, a little detail often left out in the telling of the story.

Then they shipped him off for years of torture and isolation in Guantanamo, denying him for a long time all Red Cross-guaranteed rights. His interrogator was a Nazi-like American who made this kid sit up – pulling at his serious and unhealed wounds each time he brutally questioned him, and that after sleep-deprivation.

After years of abuse and without a hope of improving his situation, Khadr finally gave his torturers what they wanted and confessed to killing an American. I am virtually certain he did not kill anyone, but even if he did, he was a mere child and in a war the United States launched. The U.S. in its abuse of him has violated countless laws, including violating the UN Treaty on Child Soldiers, the Geneva Conventions on Prisoners of War, and Red Cross International Conventions on the Rights of Prisoners.

If you want a world governed by law, then you yourself must live by the law. Otherwise, we have international anarchy where might makes right and where America feels free to tell everyone, everywhere what they can and can’t do and even decide who may live and who may die.

And this man who is whining about Khadr’s finally receiving bail was himself nothing less than part of America’s bloody enforcement mechanism.

Thank God for a Canadian judge with some courage and proper legal values. A lot of the most beloved qualities of our Canada have suffered under the hateful government of Stephen Harper, but every once in a while it’s nice to see the old values shine through the gloom.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO THE GUARDIAN ON AN ARTICLE SUGGESTING WHAT GALLIPOLI TEACHES US ABOUT THE IRAQ WAR

Gallipoli was a terrible blunder, a pet project of the same Winston Churchill who gave the world more than his fair share of arrogant ideas and barbarities, including, later, the first mass bombings of German cities, well before Hitler’s bombings.

Churchill was always an advocate of imperialism and plenty of “backbone in war” stuff, and he was fond of referring to Germans as “Huns.”

Yet his is a seemingly benign and heroic figure in history. You can’t help emotionally responding to some of his eloquent speeches and old news photos even now.

Chamberlain, a genuinely decent man in many respects who wanted to avoid a repeat of the Western Front’s unbelievable horror just 20 years later, comes down to us as a somewhat disreputable figure, in no small measure because of the contempt heaped upon him by Churchill.

The word appeasement was used and has since become a favorite insult from the ignorant Right Wing which virtually always wants war and more war.

Of course the entire set of horrors and issues around the Second World War wouldn’t exist had not Britain entered the completely pointless First World War, one its chief cheerleaders for doing so being Churchill. The only outcome of a German victory in 1914 would have been a European Continent dominated by Germany, which is exactly what we have anyway today. But Churchill’s love of British imperialism could not stand the thought of that.

I shouldn’t say “the only outcome” because the other result, an even larger one, of Germany’s success in 1914 would have been no Hitler, no World War II, no invasion of Russia with 27 million killed, and no Holocaust.

People are so easily swayed by emotional words and appealing faces, and they lose the rational aspect of their minds to the rhetoric and backstage lever-pulling of men like Churchill. Democratic politics frequently yields to the superficial charm and secret deadliness of psychopathic personalities. Witness the recent examples of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Tony Blair – all with their smiles and murders and plots possessing varying degrees of psychopathy, to a certainty.

The smarmy Tony Blair years later dedicated all his talents to making an illegal and unnecessary invasion, which we now know killed a million people, seem reasonable and morally right.

He was rewarded afterwards by immense wealth, having served the interests of immensely wealthy people, while the poor people of Iraq were left a disgusting mess of broken infrastructure, no reliable water and power, poisons and explosives everywhere, millions of refugees, no jobs, no hopes, and constant ripples of violence.

Large parts of our people still respond like murderous chimps thumping their chests at the right words put in their ears by the establishment through figures like Churchill and Blair.

I don’t see the author’s suggestions as helpful, and I don’t see any corrective for the foreseeable future. The ugly system we have works for those with power and influence, and it will keep right on working. Only the most fundamental changes in our political institutions offer any hope, and that only far into the future, if ever.

John Chuckman

POSTED RESPONSE TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

“Many illogical wars followed Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.”

This is a remarkably subtle and profoundly true observation.

Sergey Lavrov isn’t just Russia’s top diplomat. He pretty much reigns supreme in today’s world.

John Chuckman

COMMENT TO MICHAEL ENRIGHT ABOUT AN EPISODE OF CBC RADIO’S SUNDAY EDITION

What a shame you had a long segment about a very important and fascinating topic, the Armenian Genocide, and your effort was just plain dreary and uninteresting, all of it the personal reflections of three not-particularly-interesting people, like an hour’s worth of low-key chatter at a cocktail party.

You missed a great opportunity to do something worthwhile.

Why has this subject been so repressed, not just in Turkey but in many countries? What were Turkey’s motives? Why have the United States and others deliberately avoided offending Turkey for decades over this subject?

Perhaps most interesting, why has the Vatican at this time made this statement? Nothing the Vatican does is without politics, and there is, to a certainty, something which has occurred behind the scenes causing this statement. Concern over Turkey’s dealings with Russia?

Last, I have in the past heard spokespeople for Israel, one being Elie Wiesel, expressing sputtering fury over the very mention of an “Armenian Genocide.” According to these folks, there can be only one event in history worthy of the term genocide. Why? There’s an interesting sidelight on the subject.

You didn’t enlighten, Michael Enright, you only schmoozed with some folks who had little to say.

FOOTNOTE: Only shortly after this event, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a stunning public statement that it would be incorrect to call the mass killing of 1.5 million Armenians a genocide! He said it was an “atrocity crime,” a silly minted-to-the purpose term which reminds me a bit of the time when Israel pressured everyone to stop saying “suicide-bombers” and use the silly expression “homicide bombers,” something the insipid George Bush quickly did in a speech, making himself sound more tongue-twisted than ever.  Clearly, new back-scene political pressure is being applied by someone.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Is there a sillier leader on the planet than David Cameron?

“Calamitous”? What an utterly inappropriate and inflated word to describe his own fears of losing office.

I won’t comment on Mr. Cameron’s handling of Britain’s domestic affairs, although my reading is that a great many people in the country are considerably less than charmed.

But Mr. Cameron’s record in running Britain’s foreign affairs is just a dreary and embarrassing series of daily salutes to Washington, each time asking, “Yes, Sir, what do you want me to say or do today?”

I didn’t think it possible that Tony Blair could ever be outshone in pure obsequiousness, but Cameron seems to be making a great and mighty effort to do so.

God, what a relief if a Labour-SNP coalition could put an end to that.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A STORY BY DAVID PRIESTLAND IN THE GUARDIAN

Well, the reference to “hunchbacked” shows something important of the writer’s understanding.

We now know definitively from his bones that Richard was not a hunchback, that legend undoubtedly having been created by apologists for the Tudors, apologists like the brilliant but biased Shakespeare.

I love Shakespeare’s Richard III, one of his greatest histories, but it is riddled with exaggeration and inaccurate information.

The historical Richard actually appears to have been a rather brave and admirable king, at least according to some serious recent biographers.

As far as his re-burial’s negative effect on the city owing to his bad reputation, I am sure it will in fact prove the opposite, to be beneficial in economic terms. Like it or not, tourists do go to see the places associated with villains. We actually had people going to the place O. J. Simpson’s wife and another person were literally butchered like livestock to take smiling snapshots of themselves.

John Chuckman

COMMENT TO CBC RADIO CONCERNING AN INTERVIEW ON SUNDAY EDITION WITH GIDEON LEVY

As liberal-minded and decent-spirited as your Israeli journalist guest of March 29, may be, why can’t the Palestinians speak for themselves?

Are the Palestinians such hopeless children or primitives that they cannot speak for themselves?

Your program has given voice to scores of Israelis and apologists for Israel over the years with barely a sound from the Palestinians, who have many articulate and educated spokespeople.

The bias, extreme bias, just couldn’t be clearer. Even when speaking of the grief Israel has imposed on five million people for half a century, and in violation of countless international laws and agreements and norms, pretty much only Israelis are deemed qualified to comment.

Actually your interview today could be seen as a new form of reverse-propaganda in that it advertises reasonableness amongst Israelis, telling people: So don’t worry about the endless abuse and injustice, such good folks in Israel will make things right, eventually, and you can feel good just knowing they are there.

Michael, despite your general liberal-mindedness, your broadcasting practices on this terrible, longstanding issue of utterly-debased human rights makes you part of the problem, not the solution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMENT ON A PIECE BY DANIEL HALPER IN THE WEEKLY STANDARD

John Chuckman

 

It really does not get more uninformed and deliberately provocative than “U.S. Threatens Sanctions Against Israel, Makes Excuses for Iran.”

This stuff reads like an official news release from the old Politburo.

There is no need for excuses for Iran. It has done absolutely nothing requiring excuses.

It hasn’t attacked anyone in its modern history, is a member of the international treaty on nuclear weapons permitting inspections, and every intelligence service, including Israel’s, knows it has not been trying to build a bomb.

The genuine madman running Israel, on the other hand, has yelled for years that Iran is building a bomb, going against his own intelligence service. The madman just won re-election by promising no state for the Palestinians, so presumably five million people will be kept without any rights or votes forever? Or perhaps expelled in a future massive ethnic cleansing?

Without outside pressure on Israel, clearly nothing will happen to correct this shameful, longstanding, and potentially deadly situation.

Israel, in contrast to Iran, has attacked every neighbor that it has, some more than once. The madman himself killed 2,200 people only recently in a senselessly brutal assault. The madman’s yelling about Iran is about nothing other than wanting complete dominance of the region and as a distraction against the very bad economic conditions in Israel for ordinary people and against the tremendous tensions he has created in Jerusalem with his regular theft of property and mistreatment of ancient residents.

Israel, again in contrast to Iran, does not belong to the international nuclear arms treaty and does not allow inspections of nuclear facilities, and it does have a stockpile of thermonuclear bombs. Moreover, it participated in a deadly serious secret proliferation of nuclear arms with the former apartheid South Africa, then a good friend and trading partner.

Does it feel good to go to bed each night knowing you’re making every effort as a writer to promote war with a peaceful country, Iran, and continued mass slavery in Israel?

 

 

 

 

POSTED COMMENTS TO A STORY IN THE GUARDIAN

 

 

David Cameron is America’s biggest fool abroad.

This entire adventure, the CIA’s causing a coup in Ukraine and precipitating a civil war, was a gigantic mistake, a mistake fraught with great risk from the beginning and serving no purpose but to gain a psychological advantage over Russia.

Not only that, but it has always involved the support of neo-Nazi and fascist-militia types, present in Ukraine in sizable numbers and heavily armed.

Russia could literally sweep Ukraine off the map in weeks, but it hasn’t so and has shown not the least intention of doing so.

So leave the situation alone.

Ukraine’s current government is so incompetent it will fall eventually anyway. It has thrown away a good part of its army to achieve nothing. It has shot down a civilian airliner without ever acknowledging the fact. It has thrown Ukraine’s economy into turmoil. It has endangered its own energy supplies.

These are dangerous clowns, and the only people genuinely happy with them are frat-boys and plug-uglies guffawing in Langley, Virginia.

Of course, I realize Cameron is by this act genuflecting to Washington. Possibly even he realizes in private how stupid it is, but he is a card-carrying member of the cult worshipping American pre-eminence.

___________________________________

Response to a reader who took exception to my comment about shooting down Flight MH-17:

The simple fact that the investigators are silent tells you a great deal, silent under American influence.

Believe me, if any evidence showed the Russians responsible, we’d hear about it.

It is not that complex a job to determine what happened. It’s been done many times in many places.

The key fact always left out of the story is that America has the world’s most sophisticated spy satellites, called Keyhole Satellites. They cover the earth daily, and one of them was directly overhead the area at the time.

Where are the pictures? Where are the various data tracks?

Simple answer: hidden.

Also, as you should know, America has some of the world’s most sophisticated radars, and believe me, some of them are always trained on the Russian border.

So where are the radar tracks, which absolutely must exist for this event?

Hidden, clearly.

And what is the only reasonable explanation for withholding all the evidence?

To prevent the West from being horrified by what the incompetent Ukrainian military has done.

After all, the mess in Ukraine is their baby, so to speak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMENT POSTED IN THE GUARDIAN ABOUT A STORY ON THE TRIAL OF EDDIE RAY ROUTH WHO KILLED CHRIS KYLE, AMERICAN SNIPER

 

John Chuckman

 

A sniper is not a soldier, any more than a drone operator is. He’s a cowardly killer hiding in ambush.

This sniper was also, virtually certainly, a psychopath. He loved killing, and killed in record numbers.

The symptoms described for his killer suggest some degree of paranoid schizophrenia.

Of course, the military provides a welcome home for both types. It always has. Where else do you get to kill and commit acts of savagery in large numbers and be praised and even rewarded for it?

These recent American wars represent no principle, and they defend nothing but the self-assumed right of America’s establishment to tell people around the planet how to order their lives.

These are some of the dirtiest colonial wars in history, the work of a great bully wrapped in a flag who spouts nonsense about rights and democracy he doesn’t even understand.

 

 

 

LETTER TO CBC RADIO 

John Chuckman

 

Many on CBC Radio have commented on the Ghomeshi squalor. Anna Maria Tremonti, your finest interviewer when she’s in top form, joined with three guests recently discussing whether these events represented a watershed for women.

The discussion proved pretty insipid, but there was truth in the notion of a watershed, not however the watershed discussed, that of a turn in male-female social relations, but one quite different.

CBC Radio, on all programs, has always paid lip service to female equality, just as it does so many progressive concepts. But the reality behind the words we now know is something quite different, and it wasn’t just Ghomeshi’s behavior which revealed it.

I cannot accept that other staff and CBC management were not aware of Ghomeshi’s reputation and office behavior for years. That kind of stink cannot be hidden. It reached even outsiders with one professor at Western reported as having advised students to avoid interning at Q. I certainly didn’t know the extent of things, but in Ghomeshi’s early broadcasting, I clearly heard stuff I would call “smarmy” in his references and emphases, something entirely alien to the sound of CBC, and I wrote CBC several times and ceased listening.

For his behavior to be tolerated so very long means only that CBC management deliberately chose ratings over ethics, making the network not a bit different to the ruthless enterprises most hosts on CBC would decry.

But there is a long thread to this theme. Toronto just had four years of a disgraceful man as Mayor. CBC typically, once the stories broke elsewhere, reported on his drunkenness and some other shameful behavior, but it always, always avoided the elephant in the room, his abuse of women. A while before he was elected, Ford had been arrested and taken away in handcuffs while his wife displayed a discolored face. She never pressed charges, as we can well imagine why. Other news sources reported that, not you.

The most shocking display of his abuse was his frenetic sudden “press conference” after making insane public comments earlier about “eating pussy” (his very words). He literally dragged his shy wife before the cameras after fetching her from home. She stood as she was directed, but took a couple of steps away and looked down, resembling a brow-beaten prisoner. Sometimes she looked up, and she fiddled with her ring finger, but did not perform the “dutiful wife smiles as her husband speaks“ routine. Her body language spoke volumes. No one on CBC Radio ever dealt with this public, virtually criminal behavior so far as I’m aware.

Ford also was reported by a woman Toronto politician as having touched her and spoken lewdly, and what did CBC Radio do with that? Or the several times he took prostitutes to his office, something we only learned from others.

Now, just a short time before writing this, CBC Radio news reported on controversy swirling around Justin Trudeau’s decisive act of suspending two MPs over sexual harassment of others. Controversy? Trudeau acted perfectly after one of the women involved herself came to him complaining. His was a high standard of behavior, the only one. Only the National Post and the NDP’s leader, both ever hopeful for a point to score against Trudeau, see controversy here.

I think it clear CBC has consistently failed for years to act – in its reporting, discussions, and in not conducting any investigative journalism around such matters – on the principles to which it gives endless lip service. That is the real watershed: the discovery that CBC’s conduct is hardly different from the gorillas it’s always decrying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

LETTER TO CBC MANAGEMENT AFTER ANNOUNCEMENT OF COMING CHANGES BY SENIOR MANAGEMENT

 

CBC’s President and its Vice-president for English Broadcasting spoke in radio interviews about technical matters, using words like “mobility” and almost not a word about content.

It is CBC’s degraded content that deeply concerns those concerned about CBC, not technical matters.

Of course the hope is that technology will reduce costs and that is good but far, far from sufficient.

CBC today – and I speak to CBC Radio, the service I have long used – is fast approaching irrelevance. The emphasis on pop music, on being almost an amateur-tryout outlet for hopeful wannabes, has swamped everything.

Appointed new hosts over recent years are a collective disaster: Jian Ghomeshi, Gill Deacon, Brent Bambury, Matt Galloway, and one or two others are simply uninteresting minds, yet they dominate the schedule, people who talk in trivialities about celebrities and pop music and never utter an incisive word. Even guest hosts on shows now are often of the same poor quality, people who cannot conduct an interesting or informative interview, for example the “The Current”’s summer host, a person of minimal apparent talent

CBC Radio’s broadcast news is filled with trivialities, unexamined notions, pointless “soundbites,” even errors, and virtually no digging-in to anything, besides being annoyingly and infinitely repeated. I am amazed at times on hearing a story on so-called national news that no editor said before putting it on air, “Well, that raises more questions than it answers.”

There are only a few hosts left worth hearing: Anna Maria Tremonti, Bob McDonald, Eleanor Wachtel, Michael Enright, and one or two others. Considering the ages of these excellent few, what comes after them? More dull mediocrity, without a doubt.

Instead of a broadcast service featuring Canada’s best, something of which we can be proud, something which informs, you’ve been building an all-day Ed Sullivan Show.

Content is everything, no matter how you distribute it. And content IS CBC Radio’s crucial problem, and the people who created the situation remain blind to what they’ve done. A few more such changes, and I just won’t bother ever tuning in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 give 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.
___________________________

“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.
______________________________

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.

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