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Monthly Archives: June 2009

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY ANNE KOTHAWALA IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Government pretty much is incapable of correcting the serious problems of our public schools.

Only a dedicated, tough, and highly intelligent premier – an Obama type – could make anything real happen, and I sure do not see any prospect of such a politician coming to power.

The right wing tried reform and utterly failed: Mike Harris and the boys made a series of totally ineffectual changes, including that bad joke we call the literacy test, something McGuinty has kept only because it is a useful political tool manufacturing statistics that seem to show progress.

McGuinty has done nothing but literally throw money at the teachers’ union to buy peace for his government while we pay the bills. He has asked and received nothing in return, and he is too weak a character to demand anything real.

The teachers’ union is responsible for the extremely high cost of running our schools, costs which mean there are few resources for improved facilities and expanded services.

Just one tiny example of many I could cite: substitute teachers in Ontario are paid the same rates as regular teachers, a totally excessive and unnecessary cost. Further our teachers in many places are entitled to nearly a month of sick days – this on a 9-month work year – and it is a common attitude to routinely take them, leaving taxpayers paying two salaries for one poorly-taught classroom.

Even McGuinty’s weak minister has commented on the huge costs of sick days in Ontario.

The only way to improve public schools is to make teachers accountable. Accountability is a basic principle we accept in almost all our institutions except public education.

We have some wonderful, dedicated teachers, but we have a great many poor, unmotivated, even unintelligent ones, and the entire structure of administration in education, from vice-principals to superintendents, pretty well comes from these ranks.

Most have never had serious management experience, and most have no concept of accountability. That is why we have a mess.

The kindergarten/day care proposal is a sound one – the first meaningful thing McGuinty has come up with for education, but it won’t happen. The teachers’ union is already attacking it, and if it gets its way, the program will be costly and ineffectual.

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

What right does the president of a country have telling people how to dress? Or disparaging how they dress?

Since when in Western society is it acceptable to attack people for their religious practices?

Sarkozy is intellectual sleaze, playing up to widespread, ignorant anti-Muslim prejudice.

Would Sarkozy have opposed the French nuns who wore the most oppressive outfits only decades ago? Indeed, some still do.

Would Sarkozy oppose elaborate bridal gowns with veils?

What about the popular styles of the 1940s which included huge hats with veils, often large and elaborate veils?

Is he going to oppose Mennonite women for their backward clothing?

How about the dress of certain ultra-orthodox Jews whose outfits look like something from several centuries ago?

To see images of some of these things, here are some sites to give perspective:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_NtgXlrcvXZA/SOUVIK_Yk6I/AAAAAAAAP8Q/HjPVxlDzHbE/s1600-h/MARY+WITHOUT+WORDS.jpg v

http://www.bestweddingdresses.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/singletier-20bridal-20veil.jpg

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

I too loved Kodachrome.

My picture library includes about 4,000 images on Kodachrome.

While long a holdout against digital photography, I finally went over to it when I thought the quality had reached a high level.

So I made my little contribution to Kodachrome’s passing.

Still it is melancholy to see the end of such an extraordinarily fine product.

Kodachrome had a longer life in the finished slides than just about any other color film.

It was comparable to Technicolor for movies. Movies shot in Technicolor survived many decades for restoration, while other film stocks literally faded away, losing forever certain images.

Historical slides in Kodachrome from the 1930s are still good images. Other color films after only a few decades faded away.

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Three decades in Canada is only part of what Ignatieff is missing.

Perhaps more important is his lack of any real contact or bond with people. There is something, not just aristocratic, but almost autistic about Ignatieff.

He just does not reach the emotions because he just does not feel them.

Contrast him with a wonderfully earthy and charming politician like Chretien, and you feel there is nothing there.

Even in the sphere of the intellect, supposedly Ignatieff’s great strength, I find him surprisingly wanting. Again, compare him to Trudeau whose brilliance shines in every photo and is burned into memory, and there is little there but mannered words and the indulgent remembrance of a well-connected family.

Ignatieff is altogether an unimpressive politician.

If you add his absence and long lack of interest to Canada, he becomes even more unappealing.

And if you add his past defense of torture, mass murder, and imperial brutishness, there is nothing there worth talking about.

This sad situation is made sadder still by the utterly soulless Harper, a robot with no personality and no sense of ethics, giving us nowhere to place a comforting vote of trust.

__________________________

“Whether Canada ends up as one national government or two national governments or several national governments, or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion.”

– Stephen Harper

Many thanks to the person above for posting this. Of course, we must also rememmber Harper supported America’s mass murder in Iraq, and wanted us to join in the slaughter.

CHUCKMAN - HARPER - FLAG - IF IT'S SUCH A GREAT IDEA

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

“Softens his stance” is inaccurate.

Obama has backed Netanyahu into something of a corner. Those who want genuine peace have always believed it can only come when the U.S. makes demands of Israel for all the immense subsidies it has poured into that state and all the unpleasant risk it has assumed in doing so.

Netanyahu’s response is to say, “Okay, I’ll mouth your phrases, but I’ll make them meaningless.”

It’s a nasty game various governments of Israel have played a long time. The decades-long “peace process” has been only a way to gain time to absorb more Palestinian homes and farms and water minus the Palestinians. It really is a ploy which covers what may fairly be characterized as slow-motion ethnic-cleansing.

Netanyahu’s conditions are ridiculous to any fair-minded person.

First, you cannot speak of negotiation when you set a precondition like recognizing Israel.

Withholding recognition is one of the only bargaining chips the poor Palestinians have: it is a perfectly ordinary tactic in international affairs.

You cannot tell Palestinians they must give it up before negotiations.

Or rather, you can tell them that, but it amounts merely to another way of saying you don’t accept a two-state solution, another way of buying time to grind away at the poor Palestinians and what little they have.

Besides, how do you recognize Israel when its borders change almost weekly? Where is Israel?

It certainly is not the Israel of the various 20th century agreements underlying Israel’s birth, all documents showing two roughly equal states. Nor is it the Israel of the Green Line.

Perhaps most important, how do you recognize Israel as “the Jewish state” when nearly 20% of its population is not Jewish?

It is an absurd demand, and deliberately meant to be absurd.

To all fair-minded thinkers, the genuine barrier to peace just could not be clearer.

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

This is a great idea, but it won’t happen.

First, for now, Dalton the Magnificent has spent Ontario silly on GM and Chrysler.

Second, and more important for the long term, the teachers’ union will never let this happen on its turf.

Already, the head of the teachers’ union has spoken against it.

The burdens the teachers’ union would place on a program like this would make its costs impossibly high.

Until a politician is ready to take on our Public Teachers’ Guild, education can show no growth and imagination, precisely what this program promises.

____________________________

“…let them be with their moms (or dads).”

Comments like this show no understanding outside the writer’s very limited life experience.

You might think it was 1954, and Ozzie and Harriet were hanging around the house all day, just waiting to make Kool-Aid and help with homework.

Seventy percent of women work today.

We also have “families” where children are almost things tolerated rather than precious objects, mothers who’ve had children with three or four men and are not prepared to devote themselves to mothering. This is a major problem in neighborhoods like Jane and Finch where so much hideous violence has happened.

A program like this would help them all.

__________________________

“I’m stunned…..”

Yes, Mike, you are.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Jeffrey Simpson,

This is one fine piece of writing.

You have stated the situation with remarkable clarity.

Were I to sum the American situation up, I would say it is necessary for that tired old political bromide, the centerpiece of so many bloated speeches by local Congressmen at Fourth of July picnics, the American Dream, to be put into a well-earned retirement.

I think it safe to say, problems so long in their creation, with habits of thinking so deeply ingrained, are not going to be solved in a brief period.

The so-called green shoots we see may be nothing more than fragile plants, force-fed with fertilizer, destined to shrivel.

We may well be in for a long, dark period of adjustment.

Unfortunately, as with its many pointless bloody wars, the U.S., owing to its sheer mass, necessarily drags the whole world into the mess it has created for itself.

Any solution pumping countless billions into the economy and pushing banks and others to make credit available is just more of the same decades-long behavior.

Rather than taking the hit necessary to wring out the economy, a huge platter of more of the same is being served up.

I’m not sure this is the right thing to do, but the right thing is too painful for any politician to make policy.

In a sense, I think this points to an even larger issue, and that is the question over the very ability of a people like Americans to govern themselves sensibly, rather than a constant lurching this way and that, both in domestic and foreign affairs.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JENNIFER LYNCH IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The very concept of hate speech is a dangerous one, smacking of Maoism.

It is so clearly an Orwellian concept open to endless abuse and no generally agreed definitions.

The expression can be used as a fair casual description: it is one I use to describe the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter.

But what it represents should never be regarded as a crime.

At the point when hate speech actually becomes threatening or dangerous as opposed to unpleasant and ugly, we have the entire criminal and civil law to deal with it.

Those who advocate the increasing criminalization of speech are always found, upon examination, to be acting out of special interests, not out of society’s great interests.

The very idea that you could jail someone for saying something is repellant to a free society.

To avoid having the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter assuming too great an influence in Canadian society, our schools need to do a proper job of teaching, by words and example, what it is to have a civil and humane society. I am afraid, increasingly, they fail in this task.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY LAWRENCE MARTIN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

It was an unpleasant melodrama.

It is simply idiotic to appeal to people on the basis that your relative died after you’ve shown such insensitivity.

If Ms. Raitt’s personal experience had been so moving, why did it not inform her future speech?

Ridiculous.

This is American bathos politics at its worst.

And Ms. Raitt is an unpleasant narcissist.

No wonder Harper likes her.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY INNOCENT MADAWO IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

First, Moyo is right, aid almost never helps.

There are many reasons why this is so, including the fact that much of aid is consciously given as an ongoing bribe to get votes in international forums, to bribe corrupt officials into keeping business interests safe, to support the vast waste of militaries, and to supply good jobs to careerist aid workers from the West.

There are good aid projects, but they are always led by dedicated people and they usually are under-funded. The reality of politics just does not support such efforts over the other projects serving the purposes above.

But more importantly, I completely disagree that investment doesn’t go to Africa because of some nonsense about the “dark continent.”

That is just excuse-making.

Investment avoids places with poor government, places with backward laws, places with overwhelming corruption, places with instability, and places with civil disorder.

Those are circumstances that prevail through much, if not most, of Africa.

Would the writer invest substantial personal savings in enterprises in any of these places as opposed to investments in stable Western economies?

Of course not.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MARCUS GEE IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

There is no defense for this woman who abused her responsibilities.

You cannot call yourself a manager if you don’t question some of the ridiculous expenses she did not question.

Also, her excuse for the exorbitantly-paid consultants ($3000/day in a number of cases) was the idea of getting up to speed rapidly.

But that approach – throwing money at something – is the McGuinty approach to education, a guaranteed failure.

We have the testimony of one honest consultant who told us it was all so badly organized, he was sitting on his hands while being paid. He quit, but clearly most did not.

Of course, she was not alone.

McGuinty’s Minister in this portfolio is a pathetic man. When he opens his mouth, you understand why things went so badly wrong.

He should be dismissed too.

In general, there are open applications on the Internet for this purpose which may be used free.

There are also other provinces already with systems. We could easily borrow or adapt.

The whole enterprise is a scandal, much like our public education system’s failure to get the basics done.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES

Bush did say God told him to do several things.

John O’Farrell should do his own research on his question, rather than expecting others to do it for him. I’m sure Google would get you a hatful of such quotes in a few minutes.

In general, you cannot get at the truth of a matter like this by just adding up citations.

American presidents must bring God into their speech, going back to Washington, who was a deist, or Jefferson, who was altogether a skeptic. There is just too big a pool of Puritan descendents to ignore.

After all, only about fifty years ago, Congress added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, itself already representing a rather obnoxious, fascist-tinged practice.

It is very clear that Obama is a sophisticated man, a genuine intellectual and one who questions things.

It was equally clear that Bush is a dull man no one would call an intellectual, one moreover whose idea of sophistication was to dance naked on a bar room table after drinking lots of beer(something he actually did).

I don’t believe that Bush was any more religious than Obama, but he cheaply, very consciously exploited religious feelings of fundamentalists at every turn, having been advised that it was the thing to do.

When Obama mentions God, he clearly does it in the Washington tradition.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Sorry, Ms. Blatchford, I don’t think you can convincingly defend Ms. Raitt.

You and other critics of the public’s reaction miss the point entirely.

Yes, it was a private conversation.

Yes, Ms. Raitt undoubtedly knows about cancer.

Yes, Ms. Raitt may be an intelligent person.

No, use of the word “sexy” in and of itself is not horrible.

It is the total sense of this conversation that is wrong. We, virtually all of us, know that it is wrong.

It displays a truly callous monomaniacal ego at work, thinking only of the career advantages she can reap from the situation, not the kind of person most Canadians want making important decisions in government.

Ms. Raitt is not unique in politics with the narcissistic quality of her personality, but she has been caught and documented.

Even if Harper doesn’t dump her and she doesn’t resign, I think she will remain damaged goods as far as national politics go.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY IRVING COTLER AND DAVID GROSSMAN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAILThe real story behind the government’s disgraceful treatment of Mr. Abdelrazik is our government abasing itself for fear of offending the least American sensitivity.

We know there are high-level Americans who have even the basic facts of 9/11 wrong – both the Homeland Security Secretary and Senator John McCain spoke foolishly only recently.

There has been in America generally a big head of steam and lack of clear thinking over the crime of 9/11, but we do not have to accommodate America’s every whim and myth in these affairs.

America’s head of steam is why they are in Afghanistan, and it is why we are there.

America’s head of steam is why we’ve left a boy to rot in Guantanamo.

America’s head of steam is why we’ve quietly cooperated in the transport and torture of several Canadians.

And America’s head of steam is why we are doing irrational things like no-fly lists and bio-metric records of visitors.

It is time to act responsibly on at least this one matter of human rights.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Obama’s speech was an extraordinarily sensitive one. Americans and others are used to hearing only clap-trap on this topic.

He actually said something, and what he said is correct.

But I have to say where is any evidence that sensitivity or truth carry any weight in American politics? And that is especially true in all matters touching on the Middle East.

America’s Right Wing has already attacked Obama’s words, as has the mob of professional apologists for Israel’s bloody excesses.

But even the great mass of Americans who take little interest in world affairs and know only the mantra lines the mainline press repeats endlessly.

Doing anything that at all conflicts with those lines earns you some hard looks.

Israel’s supporters in America will use this to their benefit to prevent a genuine settlement in the Middle East, something we have every reason to believe Israel does not want.

After all, the constant, go-nowhere “peace process” serves simply to gain the decades of time for much of the rest of Palestine to be absorbed without its unwanted residents, for D-9 bulldozers to continue flattening homes and olive groves centuries old on the most specious of excuses.

Israel just ignores all agreements and documentation going into its modern re-creation from the Sykes-Picot Agreement to the Balfour Declaration and the UN maps for partition. All of them saw two states, somewhat equal in extent.

Ignored too are the UN Resolutions concerning the aftermath of the Six Day War.

Indeed, there is every reason to believe Israel engineered the Six Day War knowing full well it could handily win and make a great new land grab. We have the testimony of important historical figures on this matter, including President de Gaulle.

It was the same kind of dark-ops project as so many others, including the vicious attack on the USS Liberty in an effort to drag the U.S. into that war. The U.S. kept a massive silence over the attack on one of its ships, allowing the feeble excuse of a mistake to stand, a ridiculous claim in view of the facts the ship was extremely well marked and the attack lasted two hours.

Just as Israel’s illicit nuclear arsenal is ignored regularly in all the noise about North Korea or Iran. Ignored too was Israel’s help in proliferation by helping apartheid South Africa to briefly become a nuclear power.

The most damaging spy in American history, Jonathon Pollard, remains in prison, but there is a constant flow of intense pressure to release him.

Israeli spies were on to the perpetrators of 9/11, but the several spy groups – a phony moving company and a bunch of “art students” – were arrested afterward and sent home with no public statements about what it was that they had been doing.

If all these many events have not altered American public opinion and Israel’s place of unwarranted privilege in Washington, how will Obama ever succeeed?

I find it difficult to believe that Obama can turn around the momentum that has continued decade after decade, a momentum of slow-motion ethnic-cleansing in Palestine and America’s subsidizing the state doing it.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES

Could be, but I believe there is another explanation.

Alaska is a place heavily peopled with militia-types, backwoods throwbacks, and Aryan-nation types, much like Idaho.

Sarah Palin fits the profile of an ideal candidate there, utterly uninformed about the world at large yet ready to offer an opinion on any of it, being blithely unaware of how parochial her every sentence is. Such places very much want parochialism, male or female.

Her having Russia as “a neighbor,” with its assumption of knowing something about world affairs, pretty much sums up the situation.

Her equivalent as a male is more far common, places like Texas, Mississippi, or Oklahoma growing them almost like a toxic crop.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES

“Mad. But so too was Hitler”

Authoritative psychiatric studies of Hitler tell us clearly that he was not mad.

His not being mad is precisely what makes him so frightening.

Madness is tragic, not frightening.

Humans are simply capable of anything, given the right set of beliefs or obsessions.

It’s the damned human race, a gang of nasty chimpanzees with the brains to be even more destructive than their ancestors.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

I think we all recall what Cheney means when he says something along the lines of “people ought to get a shot at” something.

Apart from blasting his friend in the face with a shotgun while drunk, he oversaw the murder and torture of a number people.

Sarcasm aside, this is the only statement the man has ever made which is ethical.

We’ve had gay marriage in Canada for a few years now, and there are no signs of the anti-Christ or Gog and Magog to be seen.

Even its previous opponents have come to accept it as the normal part of society which it is.

Of course, this one ethical Cheney statement likely owes its origins to his gay daughter, although Lynne Cheney would blow a gasket at anyone’s saying that.

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

This is a dangerous, anti-democratic path to follow.

What is a “victim”?

What will be “support” of terror?

Not to say what is “terror”?

The extremism that attends every discussion of Israel and terror gives us just a hint of the ugly legal excesses to which this proposal could open us.

What I most fear is a new kind of “slap” suit to shut up those who criticize Israel’s bloody excesses.

This is pretty shabby stuff for a Canadian Prime Minister to do or even offer to do on behalf of the interests of another country.

Maybe if Ignatieff comes out strongly against this, I can even manage to support him, a man whose background views are extremely negative for me.

Harper is trying to drag Canada completely into the American camp on this, ignoring Canada’s traditional balanced view of the Middle East.

This may well be the most destructive act Harper has attempted.

__________________

There is nothing rational in all the words and acts surrounding the topic of terror.

Of course, the very concept of a War on Terror is, and always was, irrational. A war against a method or belief. Absurd.

Also, quite legitimately, one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.

This proposal would invite all of the irrationality that surrounds this topic to jam its way into our courts.

It’s a very odd proposal for a genuine conservative too, people who generally are very careful about what goes on in courts and critical of courts stretching their authority too far.

It’s completely wrong for anyone genuinely supporting human rights and democratic values.

But then we all heard Harper a couple of years ago criticizing the UN when Israel targeted and killed four brave observers in southern Lebanon, including a brave Canadian officer doing his duty.

The man is really shameless. This also reminds me of the cards that went out to Jewish Canadians for their holidays, something which of course unpleasantly implied the existence of ethnic lists in Harper’s Party.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS IN THE TELEGRAPH

I don’t know what Christopher Hitchens is going on about, and I strongly suspect neither does he.

Americans are just generally ignorant of the nature and workings of Parliament.

Honestly, having grown up and lived half my life in America, I feel it fair to say that outside of some academics and devoted followers of world affairs, few Americans have the least idea about Parliament.

And over time, I suspect this becomes more and more true since Americans know one thing if they know anything, America is the greatest.

This should not surprise because amazingly few have any idea how their own Congress works.

Hitchens in this only confirms what I believe is a truth about his writing: the man is an obsessive writer even when he has nothing to say. I grant him saying it eloquently though.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI IN THE TELEGRAPH

 

Jesus wouldn’t have voted for Blair either.

Or Bush.

Or Sarkozy.

Or a lot of other politicians.

He would have driven the entire American Congress off Capitol Hill just as he drove the moneychangers from the temple.

And now we know he would do the same with the Mother of Parliaments.

Seems to me his recommendation here is not a strong one.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES

“In my last two paragraphs I mentioned a poll in the US indicating that a quarter of all Americans blame the Jews for the financial crisis either moderately or a great deal. I concluded by saying that I don’t like it when people mob up.”

Daniel, you cannot take such a poll seriously.

A true random sample of American opinion on almost any subject is always disturbing.

After a few years of the bloody pointless invasion of Iraq, a poll showed sixty-odd percent of Americans believed that Saddam was involved with 9/11.

I don’t recall the number, but a surprisingly large percent of Americans believe in the devil and believe that the Mark of the Beast is 666.

Polls showed a good slice of Americans believing that the Apollo Mission to the moon was faked.

I very much don’t like it when people mob up either, but a quarter of Americans believing anything you care to name is not mobbing up, not surprising, and virtually predictable.

As for David Irving, I admire your publishing his e-mail, but I wish you had shown the restraint not to characterize it. People can interpret for themselves.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED COMMENT TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

“Obama Firm.”

Well, let’s hope so. The only way we will ever see peace and an end to the abomination of Israel’s occupation is if the U.S. is firm.

Indeed, America needs to be firm about a lot more than freezing settlements on freshly-grabbed land.

Obama does have the best chance of doing something meaningful here of any president since Israel’s founding, both because he is so popular and because everyone in the world – other than the ceaseless apologists for Israel’s bloody excesses – recognizes the status quo is a disaster.

And it is not a disaster waiting to happen. It has happened.

The single greatest cause of all the ugly business summed up under the title War on Terror is Israel’s behavior towards its neighbors and America’s toleration of it.

Yet, despite Obama’s exceptional opportunity, I am not hopeful. If you read the saga of Truman’s recognition decision at Israel’s emergence as a state, you realize just what serious pressure is.

And look at Hillary Clinton. She went to Palestine once and made sympathetic statements. Then, when she wanted to be Senator, she took almost a one hundred and eighty degree turn in her language. Pressure indeed.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY FORMER GENERAL LEWIS MACKENZIE IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

“Our infantry ranks are so diminished that Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan has to end”

Good.

There is no more wasteful enterprise on earth than the military.

Like police, you need some military, but it should always be regarded with great care as a necessary evil.

And the bigger the military of a country is, the greater is the temptation of politicians to use it to bad purposes.

Analysts of the pointless bloodbath called the Great War agree that the level of armaments in the various states was a major contributor to starting the war. And what was Hitler’s first priority after taking power? The armed forces, of course.

The United States is the clearest contemporary example of that hard truth. Here is a nation that rebelled against imperial military forces only to end up being a greater imperial military force.

It spends as much on its military Frankenstein as all the other countries on the planet put together.

And the results are: occupation of two countries, neither of which ever attacked that country; regular bombing in a third country, Pakistan; constant threats to a fourth country, Iran; support of apartheid in Israel; plus innumerable other intrusions and black-ops.

The world surely is a better place for the three million the US murdered in Vietnam, isn’t it? And for the sea of Agent Orange and landmines it left there? And for the million deaths it generated in Cambodia by destabilizing a neutral government with secret bombing? And don’t forget the million or so killed in Iraq plus a couple of million refugees and an economy set back for a lifetime.

Lord Acton said it best for all time: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Why is it that conservatives and militarists like Lewis MacKenzie do not understand these things? That’s like asking a careless boy why he just smashed a bird’s nest.
________________

Arctic sovereignty I fear is an illusion.

Who is it that is actually going to challenge it?

Why, the world’s military colossus of course.

Would our outposts of troops wave at the passing American atomic submarines and guided-missile cruisers?