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Monthly Archives: August 2009

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

Nearly half the votes are counted?

We get almost no reports on the actual turnout of voters, nor do we get much information on what seems to have been very corrupt election management.

I suspect the U.S. is working hard to control the information that tells the real election story.

Fifty percent of, say, a ten-percent turnout, plus heavy corruption, makes an utterly meaningless election.

Afghanistan after more than seven years of occupation and force-fed institutions is no more democratic than Cuba.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A BOOK REVIEW BY LAURA PENNY IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

What an intellectually impoverished effort Laura Penny serves up here.

I’ve not read Chris Hedges’ book yet, but I have heard him interviewed at length.

He is a thoughtful, intelligent, and educated person with something to say. Ms. Penny’s few, carefully selected quotes do not represent the sense of what Hedges has to say at all.

Like all writers on political and international affairs, he sometimes over-speaks himself, but that does not subtract from the freshness of his voice and the acuity of his intellect.

Sorry, Ms. Penny, but our mainline press almost never deals with the issues over which Hedges is concerned. It does offer large servings of stuff like your tired, mannered, “I’ve seen it all” vacuous comment.

Let’s first take Ms. Penny on her own ground, literacy, sadly a word our public education establishment has rendered close to meaningless.

“This claim is a fairly good litmus test….”

God, why didn’t Ms. Penny toss in “level playing field” or “peace process’ while she was at it? This misuse of the nasty, over-used “litmus test” is a perfect example of the decline of literacy over which Ms. Penny claims to be concerned: “test” is all that is required for such a statement.

“I don’t recommend taking it to the beach, lest you pull a Virginia Woolf and seek refuge in the cleansing waters.”

Good God what an awkward remark, and Ms. Penny’s prose is an awkward combination of a pop cliché expression – “pull a [something]” – and a classical, almost-obsolete word – “lest” – a combination which comes off as just silly.

But it isn’t just public-school teacher literacy from which Ms. Penny suffers.

“Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one of those future-drunk techies who thinks the Internet solves everything and that blogs can replace book learnin’ or the old journalism that many sites currently cannibalize. Those techies are just as fervent as Hedges, the optimistic Pollyannas to his outraged Cassandra.”

What an irrelevant comment to insert in a book review on this topic. It’s as though Ms. Penny felt like spouting this notion, and took this opportunity to toss it into the review.

And, please note, the return of clichés – Pollyannas and Casandra – to Ms. Penny’s writing. I might point out the clichés again include the pop and the classical – perhaps indicating Ms. Penny notion of breadth of learning?

But it gets worse, I’m afraid.

“The filthy heart of the beast is the military-industrial complex. Hedges contends that “war is the most dangerous drug of all,” and the United States is well and truly cracked out.”

What an absolutely trivial and pretentious way for Ms. Penny to write about one of the world’s great problems. Ms. Penny offers the tone of a person mainly educated by advertising and marketing and “communications,” the last being Sarah Palin’s major in her six-year, five-college B.A. odyssey. I’d almost bet Ms. Penny sounds like a Valley girl in her accent. What a shabby approach to a deadly serious subject, militarism.

“Most profs are good little careerist lickspittles, or poorly paid part-timers who cannot afford to rabble rouse.”

What a shabby generalization, again having nothing to do with the book’s ideas, and please note the genuine tone of contempt for part-time professors. Why? Ms. Penny is unwittingly revealing her own sad, narrow perspective: a lucky second-rate academic with a university sinecure.

God, we have few enough genuine critics in our society, and few enough of them worth hearing out. Chris Hedges is one of these few.

The truth is that Laura Penny is simply not up to the book she tries to review, and tries covering the fact with a bizarre tone that is both world-weary and flip.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY SEBASTIAN FAULKS IN THE TELEGRAPH

I really cannot understand the kind of behavior Sebastian Faulks has displayed outside of his suffering from serious anti-Muslim prejudice.

Why pick the religious literature of one faith to attack?

Remember what Mark Twain said of the Bible? That it was full of blood and gore and upwards of a thousand lies?

Of course, it is hard to take Mr Faulks too seriously in any case.

He is a writer of novels packed with clichés, sentimentality, cheap cinema-derived scenes, and inconsistencies, but they do appeal to the mob.

And so does his brand of prejudice.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY IRWIN STELZER IN THE TELEGRAPH

The Special Relationship?

Oh, I believe Irwin Stelzer means by that expression the arrangement whereby Britain waits around to serve as a convenient tool to be picked up or tossed away as need arises.

Britain made it possible for the U.S. to call its international-law breaking murderous effort in Iraq a “coalition” effort.

There is no Special Relationship, but it is hard to communicate that to writers like this, too blind to see.

It’s like telling a child there is no Father Christmas.

Blair joined in America’s war crimes and demeaned his office in a hundred ways with dishonesty for the sake of the “Special Relationship.”

What did Britain get for its disgraceful efforts? Nothing.

It was treated as a mouse squeaking near Uncle Sam’s boot. None of Britain’s views were even considered on any international issue.

Of course, Blair personally got plenty in return for his dirty work.

He’s a wealthy man today with many ill-gotten sinecures from American or American-controlled foundations.

Perhaps Mr Stelzer is hoping to enjoy a bit of the same one day?

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

“Afghanistan” and the word “prospects” in the same sentence are pretty much an oxymoron.

This is one of the poorest regions on earth, a vast sprawl of deserts and mountains with few valuable resources.

The U.S. always had the option of dropping dollar bills rather than bombs, but that’s just not the American way.

Afghanistan will have “prospects” after decades of economic growth and not before, if that ever comes to pass.

The U.S. went there to kill (something it did plenty of), not to help anyone, but the world’s press picked up on all the propaganda and seems to pretend it means something.

The culture and backward ways of the people are the natural adaptations of countless centuries and are, in that sense, normal.

What the U.S. is trying to impose is definitely abnormal, not fitting the land and its people at its stage of their development.

Of course, the stupidity of making the Taleban a bitter enemy was foolish.

No Taleban ever attacked the U.S., a point so easily glided over by the press in the last eight years.

Yes, they housed bin Laden (a Saudi) for a time, but then so did the U.S. for a time.

They offered, eight years ago, to comply with extradition if offered some evidence for the accused, the completely normal behavior of any government, but the U.S. rejected the request and proceeded to attack, as useless and mindless an act of destruction as Israel’s assault on the giant refugee camp called Gaza.

To this day, by the way, we have never been given a single piece of evidence that bin Laden himself was responsible for anything. I’m not claiming his innocence, just pointing out how irrational and lawless all this has been.

General McChrystal is a nasty killer, of the type that carried out that shameful Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, a man absolutely without a larger view. What else would he do but ask for more troops?

Well, there’s light at the end of the tunnel apparently.

Wait, now, I believe I heard that somewhere else. Was it Vietnam?

Good luck, Obama, you are now being squeezed on all sides by the Military-Industrial Complex.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

Far.

My God, it is only sixty-odd years ago that we declared absolutely that following orders is not an excuse when the orders violated basic laws and rights.

The entire Bush/Cheney era is black hole of abuse of authority, murder, and torture.

No one who made these things happen should feel free. We read of Hitler’s willing helpers, did we not?

There are always excuses for abuse and abusive orders. The CIA is not unique in that. In the mind of every tyrant – from Stalin to Pinochet – there were strong and fearful reasons for their acts.

The only way we can be protected from such people is to hold them accountable in each and every instance that we get the opportunity to do so, which itself is rare enough. So few abusers ever are held accountable in the world at large that it makes almost every ethical and moral lesson we learned as children a pleasant fantasy: the evil do prosper, and bad men regularly step over the bodies of good men.

How easy it is – Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld showed the entire world – to take hold of a society of laws and defined rights and complex international obligations and just ignore them all, paying only lip service while carrying on in the darkness in contempt of every principle of decency.

Many observers in the world, including myself, actually believe the United States has tipped over an edge or threshold into a new equilibrium and cannot reclaim any prestige and honor it had.

The promise of that charming, intelligent man, Obama, already is badly faded. The vast forces around him cannot be easily be changed and, perhaps, cannot be changed at all. This is a test of that reality.

Democratic societies are not exempt from the terrible abuse of democratic values: it is a silly myth to believe so.

The U.S. with high-sounding words on paper went a couple of centuries with human bondage and vast abuse. The Confederacy was a democracy for those with the franchise. South Africa under apartheid remained a democratic state for those with franchise. France, inflicting its horrors in Algeria, was a democratic state. I could go on: there is a long list.

Dedication to human rights and democratic values requires America to root out the people who made these ugly acts possible and punish them.

Otherwise, I genuinely believe American democracy is on the wane and the country well on its way to being Eisenhower’s Military-Industrial Complex, ruling a vast empire with abuse and state terror from an elite establishment of military and intelligence and the driving fists of industry.

Power is power, no matter how granted. And Lord Acton’s dictum remains one of the most accurate observations of human society ever uttered.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE INDEPENDENT
The story of North Korea’s producing the so-called super-notes, one-hundred dollar notes of near perfect quality, is an old one, but it is not necessarily true, as the author of this piece assumes.There is another story that says it is the CIA manufacturing these super-notes.

Such an intelligence operation would serve two ends.

One, it is a new source of untraceable funds for the CIA. We know that in the past the CIA has used drugs and armaments as ways to obtain off-the-record funds.

Two, the notes, combined with the story this author repeats, provide one more excuse to beat-up on North Korea.

Just ask yourself whether it is likely that North Korea has the immensely complex technology for producing notes of this quality.

Then ask yourself whether this is the way the United States would behave if indeed it knew North Korea was the source of the bills.

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

Good God, what a lack of logic we see below.

Saying something was vengeance does not communicate approval, but how rarely we see the word “vengeance” used in all discussions of this matter. Americans prefer to play the innocent victim, and it is an act that has grown tired, unconvincing, and even offensive.

The point is clearly that the constant bellowing about mass murder from America completely ignores America’s own blood-soaked record of murder.

Indeed America’s record is unquestionably the bloodiest of any state or organization since the death of Stalin. Vietnam, Cambodia, Somalia, Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and so many other, perhaps lesser, horrors over the last half century.

America has killed millions and millions with its Frankenstein military, almost all of it to no good purpose, and Americans accept that all this carnage is for their defense and thump their chests when anyone questions it.

For the writer who seems not to understand the attack of 9/11, it had several completely obvious causes (and, please, causes are not the same as justifications), all of which, from the perpetrators point of view, represent an aggressive assault on the Muslim world.

What’s more, these were all avoidable. They reflect that poisonous cocktail of American arrogance, ignorance of others, bullying, and bombing those they don’t like.

First, there was the US moving its troops into territory viewed as sacred by conservative Muslims. Putting women in army fatigues into Saudi Arabia was the rough equivalent of having a naked go-go dancer on the stage at a Baptist revival meeting.

America’s horrific past treatment of Iraq everyone seems to have forgotten.

The first Gulf War was engineered, Hussein having got a wink and a nod about reclaiming the territory of Kuwait, much as Israel’s Six Day War was engineered, and the locals understand that even if our press treats these events differently.

The U.S. assault with B-52s killed a vast number of poor Iraqi conscripts in their pitiful sand castles. The bodies on the desert were in such huge piles they reportedly resembled the discoveries of the first Nazi death camps.

Concerned about public relations, the US hid the facts, bulldozing the bodies into mass graves (much as was done, by the way, when 3,000 prisoners were murdered and buried in Afghanistan by the bloodthirsty General Dostum under U.S. approval and control).

Still, with the end of the brief but bloody war, Iraq’s agony was not over.

The heavy restrictions the US heartlessly kept on Iraq killed a vast number of innocents over a decade, thousands and thousands of children. The details were largely suppressed in the Western press, but hardly in the Middle East.

The CIA’s secret war against the Russians in Afghanistan played a major role. All knowledgeable intelligence people use the term “blowback” to describe what happened in 9/11. Local fighters were equipped and given intelligence to the tune of several billion dollars, all the while feeding the conservative Muslim fighters with propaganda that the Russians were infidels invading their lands.

The CIA’s connection with some of these people continued right up until 9/11. That is why the men who destroyed the buildings had legitimate U.S. visa, again something never emphasized in our press. There was a complex, unknown program of training certain of these people in the U.S., and it backfired.

Unquestionably America’s one-sided support of Israel and its bloody excesses – Israel behaves as an exact geo-political miniature of the US in the Middle East, having attacked, often more than once, every neighbor it has – contributed to immense anger and frustration.

The horrors of Israel’s big invasion of Lebanon were also downplayed here, but not in the Middle East.

Of course, in the background, there was the overthrow of Iran’s democratic government, a joint American-British project, and the installation of that torturing vampire, the Shah, whose Savak used to pull prisoners’ finger nails out in their basement torture chambers, something we never heard any complaints about from that human-rights loving land of America.

And later, the U.S. actively encouraged the Iran-Iraq War so that Iran would be worn down (they lost a million men), assisting Iraq with weapons and intelligence.

Later, of course, the U.S. invaded a neighbor with a major border with Iran and still occupies it.

The U.S. has never stopped bashing Iran, and today allows Israel to threaten this country that has never in its modern era attacked anyone.

There is a far more complex record than I can summarize here, but any clear-thinking person knows exactly why 9/11 happened.

They also know that the U.S. has taken such savage revenge – killing more than a million people and ignoring all international law and order – that the original crime is fading in significance.

How immensely uninformed, or just plain dishonest, it is for anyone to claim they do not understand what caused 9/11.

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

“Typical santimonious [sic] Canadians who hate Americans with a vengeance. Any decision which affronts Americans is applauded. This to the nation that buys 75% of your products. I never touch Canadian products and lose no opportunity to tell others of your hatred.”

 

The logical and emotional confusion exhibited in that post tells the entire story of why Americans earn the dislike of so much of the world.

No, Canadians do not hate Americans, but many do hate the ugly actions and words of Americans.

Indeed, that is the case for the entire planet. Few people have affection for the poisonous cocktail of arrogance, ignorance of others, bullying, and bombing those you disapprove of.

Speaking of mass murderers, how about the captain and crew of the warship, USS Vincennes, which, during its observations of the agonizing Iran-Iraq War (a war US policy worked to prolong), managed to shoot down an Iranian civilian airliner with 300 souls aboard.

There was no mercy, no apology, and no proper compensation – just a cowardly avoidance of responsibility for the atrocity committed.

Lockerbie was clearly vengeance by someone, and no one truly knows who. The man Scotland released was almost certainly fitted up by the CIA in response to the immense political pressure of unthinking people like the author of the quote above.

There are serious issues with American behavior in the world outside its borders, and when Americans stubbornly refuse to recognize that ugly reality, and indeed insist that they are victims of hate and terror, they earn everyone’s sound disapproval.

That isn’t hate, that’s human decency and ethics at work.

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

The blubbering of the head of the FBI only adds to America’s shame, for the FBI has an immensely long record of being a costly flop in almost every major task it has undertaken, besides functioning as a kind of political police.

From the assassination of John Kennedy to 9/11, the FBI has been a disaster.

Under J Edgar Hoover, the FBI in its early days illegally rounded up and deported migrants that it chose to believe were unreliable.

In Hoover’s later days, the agency functioned sometimes as an out-and-out terrorist organization itself.

It conducted thousands of illegal wiretaps. It illegally opened people’s mail. It threatened and intimidated anyone Hoover did not like.

One of its efforts was dedicated to spying on Martin Luther King and shaming him with his family in hopes that he would commit suicide. Imagine, a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Its investigation into the crash of Flight 800 off the East Coast of the U.S. was long and its findings simply not to be believed, being contradicted by many witnesses and sound evidence like radar tracks.

It basically covered up the truth, which almost certainly was the mistaken release of an American Navy anti-aircraft missile (much like the Navy’s destruction of the Iranian airliner with 300 souls aboard).

The FBI conducted a relentless effort to destroy Dr Wen Ho Lee, an atomic scientist, of espionage for China. They used papers like the New York Times to leak false leads and ruined his career, but Wen Ho Lee was a completely innocent man and they never found credible evidence to the contrary.

The thugs at the FBI spend their time on garbage like looking up what people have been reading in the public libraries.

It was widely known that in bars in Chicago or Boston or New York, the hat was passed regularly for supporting the IRA’s terror.

I’m sure the bulk of the IRA’s funding came from the U.S.

It reflected sentimental Irish attitudes combined with powerful anti-British attitudes, something still easy to discover in the U.S. despite Blair’s pathetic efforts to win American approval through joining in their war crimes.

I’ve never read a single expression of shame or sorrow over that dark history.

And certainly the FBI never lifted a finger.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
SERIES OF POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY STEPHEN SAIDEMAN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Stephen Saideman has given us a disgusting piece of analysis which I can only describe as a foreign-policy version of gutter literature.

The quality of thinking here is stunningly impoverished and utterly lacking in ethics.

This makes you wonder just how some of our universities grant such sinecures.

But then I remember the baffling case of Margaret Somerville, perhaps Canada’s most tedious and irrelevant academic.

And then I consider the case of the ghastly Michael Ignatieff, a man who blubbered stuff about human rights at the same time he advocated torture and NAZI-like invasion of another country.

Clearly, holding a position as a professor at a major university today is no guarantee of original thought, nor even of clear thought.

_________________________

“Canadians don’t appreciate or understand what we have here in our country, we just see the cost, not the rewards of helping others.”

A ridiculous observation.

The author is blinded by his immediate experience and lack of broader knowledge.

The fact is that the world is full of backward abuse. Take your pick.

In rural India they still burn brides, and forty million widows in India live in misery because of the way the culture treats widows.

And many of those forty million are teenagers or not much older, having been child brides married off at 12 or 14 for financial considerations of a family, often to a much older man who dies a few years later.

These women cannot even eat certain food, cannot remarry, must wear only certain colors, and are left alone to eventually die in poverty.

Shall I go on about rural areas of South America? Or Pakistan? Or Bangladesh?

God, American propaganda has been so effective, it is still quoted as a reason for squandering billions and killing the citizens of a country where we do not belong.

Women are abused throughout the poor and backward world, and that includes several billion people.

America did not go to Afghanistan to free women or any other Don Quixote nonsense.

It went there to kill, something which it has done a great deal of, including killing children.

_________________________

The behavior of other NATO countries is the sharpest argument about this pointless war.

No one will commit troops and equipment in any significant numbers.

Do they not understand what a terrible place Afghanistan is? Of course, they do, but they also know the West has no real strategic interests there.

And they know too that the “mission” cannot succeed, except in killing people and creating Potemkin village projects.

They make only token commitments to give the Pentagon a fig leaf of “coalition forces” and to keep Washington from taking reprisals.

You cannot remake a society with an army. Indeed you cannot remake a society at all.

The best we can ever do is give well-thought-out assistance, monetary and technical, and offer trade concessions.

A backward place must outgrow its backwardness. And B-52s sure do not help.

America went to Afghanistan for vengeance, and then realized it didn’t know what to do beyond terrorizing the local population.

We can only hope Obama is able to reach some kind of theatrical arrangement that covers his inevitable backing out, soon.

____________________________

“War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

“I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

“I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.”

Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, 1933

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO AN EDITORIOAL IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The Board should be required to post on an Internet site detailed stats of performance in each school for which it is responsible.

This is something we are slowly approaching in parts of medical care, but it is an essential tool for the future of all publicly supported institutions. The people being served and paying the bills have a right to know.

We do not need a study to tell us our public schools are a mess. There is all kind of evidence, easily discovered.

The basic problem is a system in which no one is responsible for anything. Literally no one.

Once a teacher is hired, no one ever examines his/her work.

And the principals of our schools are just teachers, in many cases people tired of teaching.

And the Board Superintendents are generally, too, just old teachers.

Teacher education is almost a joke: the details of classes at our teachers’ colleges would not stand public scrutiny. It is that intellectually poor.

Students today are subjected to a ridiculously complicated curriculum while important skills are ignored. The schools are full of kids in grade five who do not know their times tables. And we have kids in grade eight who cannot read. School libraries are, many of them, a mess and outdated.

We have ongoing frauds like the “literacy test,” something with which I am quite familiar having served as the “home-stay” for a very bright Chinese student now studying a branch of applied mathematics at University College.

That test tests nothing, and those failing it only have to attend a bird course with a bored teacher next term to get a pass. The teachers write and mark the silly thing, and may easily make results rise, giving an empty blowhard like McGuinty something to talk about in speeches.

We seriously need new blood and new ways of doing things if our schools are to improve.

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

Roger Ebert is absolutely right about the dumbing-down of America, but he is moaning over what I believe is unavoidable.

Perpetual childhood has become perhaps the key aspect of American culture.

It explains not only why Hollywood only makes amusement-ride movies but also why older Americans pour out the cash for rock concerts by former stars in their sixties who resemble bad jobs of embalming.

The Protestant notion of eternal life in a childish paradise has fused with the financial ability of a large number of Americans to pay for costly skin cosmetics, regular plastic surgery, and a great many other reality-avoiding activities.

It is precisely the childish-fantasy nature of American culture which makes it a nation so unsuited to play the deciding role in world affairs.

It has the resources to destroy the world combined with a people who enjoy navel-gazing and display impatience over a late pizza delivery.

The national government only has to blubber some silly lines about good old Americanism and democratic values to have the population support the most horrible bloody excesses, the invasion of Iraq and the Vietnam holocaust (3 million Vietnamese killed justifies the word) being outstanding examples.

The media comply by not showing the real effects of what is done – the dismembered children, the charred remains – although television pictures of distant explosions are popular on America’s couches, eliciting excited hoots and roars between mouthfuls of buttered popcorn.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE INDEPENDENT

This is a shame because al-Megrahi is likely innocent, having been fitted up by American intelligence who were desperate for a scapegoat.

This shows what money can do. The affluent American families carry a lot of weight through the American government.

I have to say, also, I always find it troubling to read the press repeating the lines about 270 victims for the thousandth time.

Rarely do we read the accurate perspective of the Lockerbie event.

The United States Navy carelessly shot down an Iranian airliner with 300 souls aboard as it observed the devastation of the Iran-Iraq War.

Those 300 never saw any justice. Their families never received compensation. And no apology was offered by Americans.

Lockerbie was absolutely clearly revenge.

The whole pattern of the two events explains the basis for the so-called War on Terror: America’s saying, ‘I can do to you, but you can’t do to me.’

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

Newt Gingrich’s comments show how devoid of any content the American Right is.

Here is a woman who could not finish one term as governor of one of the smallest-population states in America, and yet she is spoken of in the same sentence with the presidency?

Palin’s real reason for quitting as governor may never be known, but the two most likely explanations are a scandal-prosecution suppressed by a secret promise to resign or her recognition she just could not handle the pressures of the job.

In either case, she is about as qualified to run for president as Bozo the Clown.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 

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

Many of us might be reduced to such hopelessness if we lived the way these people live.

There are no good prospects for jobs.

There is little opportunity for education.

There are limited opportunities for recreation.

There is isolation.

There is rapid population growth, quickly reducing the housing stock to utter inadequacy.

Canada desperately needs an enlightened policy to encourage and assist remote young people to leave the reserves for an opportunity at real life.

Only a relatively small population can be sustained by hunting and fishing, and only a relatively small population is even interested in it.

___________________

Poor parenting only contributes greatly to the problems.

I’m not blaming the parents but just stating an unpleasant fact.

Parents who already are demoralized and hopeless cannot possibly provide sound parenting.

Even in places like Toronto we see the effects of this. Our buck-passing teaching establishment constantly plays the nasty game of stressing the parents’ responsibility, Instead of rolling up their own sleeves to make sure kids are better than their poor parents.

But the ugly truth is many people are parents only by accident and themselves have no skills, no education, and no great hope. The kids may have been conceived in drunkenness, and there may be a number of fathers, each of whom takes no responsibility.

This certainly describes the root problem of Toronto’s poor urban areas experiencing mindless violence, areas like Jane and Finch.

For all the chest-thumping stuff we’ve heard recently about residential schools – and there were ugly abuses – we miss the fact that likely most of the people involved meant genuinely to help, and likely did in many cases. The idea behind the schools had merit, but the execution was flawed and poorly overseen.

We need a 21st century, enlightened program to offer hope and progress. There really is no other logical answer.

No country can afford to equip hundreds of remote communities with all the modern advantages, communities moreover where the facilities will be outgrown in one generation with explosive population growth.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JAMES MANICOM AND ANDREW O’NEIL IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This is pure anti-Chinese rubbish.

Look at our glorious relationship with the United States.

They deport our citizens to dark places for torture.

They never honor their business agreements when it is to their advantage not to do so: as we see in everything from softwood lumber to pork.

They launch savage, illegal wars like that in Iraq or Vietnam, and then accuse us of not being good neighbors when we don’t join them in the bloodshed.

They persist in dangerous ignorance about us, as only shown recently by both the Secretary for Homeland Security and Senator John McCain claiming the 9/11 crew or some of it came through Canada.

They now fill the border with rude, ignorant people, destroying a once-civil relationship.

They refuse to recognize our Northern border, sending ships as they please and even leaving their official maps altered, constituting in fact the greatest single threat to sovereignty there.

They pressure us like a bully on almost every trivial issue they care about.

Their various ambassadors talk down to us like missionaries teaching savages about the Truth.

Unfortunately, we have a shabby government that swallows it all and just smiles, doing their bidding on matters like foreign investment dutifully – including importantly, keeping out Chinese investment that could greatly help our economy.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
RESPONSE SENT TO MARGARET WENTE ON A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL WHERE COMMENTS WERE NOT PERMITTED

If you truly believe what you say, then you should be open to public comment.

It is actually, in this day, rather pathetic to write a piece like yours and hide from comments.

Apart from what the overwhelming majority of humane people feel at seeing and hearing regularly Israel’s ghastly behavior, we have the words of two men of shining credentials in the matter, Bishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela, who have said on more than one occasion that Israel has re-created apartheid.

That excellent man, Jimmy Carter, has said much the same. Of course, he was instantly labeled an anti-Semite, a favorite shabby trick of the apologists for Israel’s ugly behavior.

About three thousand souls – including 400 children and a fine Canadian doing his UN duty – have been murdered in the last couple of years in Lebanon and Gaza by Israel. Gaza is treated like a Middle Ages city under siege, not even being allowed the products to rebuild Israel’s destruction.

People who have had homes and farms for centuries in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have their families destroyed regularly as their property is seized by people born in New York or Toronto or London, and the behavior is simply called “facts on the ground.”

Walls are built on the land of others, water is diverted, people living in their own place are abused endlessly by numberless checkpoints and humiliations.

The reasons many people focus on Israel’s behavior are simple.

One, we cannot avoid hearing and seeing it constantly while we do not see what goes on in rural India or parts of South America. We hear of every election, every cabinet change, and every violent act. This is not the case with a place like Ecuador, a country of roughly the same population.

Two, Israel constantly represents itself as a modern democratic state, but its behavior towards its neighbors is that of a ghastly third-world country. We all expect more of modern states than we do places like Ecuador.

Three, Israel’s behavior seriously threatens peace in the world, having as it does its own illegal nuclear weapons and the thermonuclear support of the United States. There is no other way to look at Israel’s many calls for Iraq to be invaded (answered by Bush), Syria to be attacked and Iran to be attacked.

Checkpoints, walls, computerized machine-gun towers, invasions, sieges, mass arrests, kidnapping, torture, assassination, abuse of power over regulations in building and utilities, and constant threats – there is no rational defense of all that ugliness.

All Israel has to do is accept its borders and respect its neighbors to have genuine peace, but it does neither of these things. Its borders expand like ooze over the land of others, and it treats its every neighbor with contempt.

You simply defend what is indefensible.

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

“Canada will not abandon Afghanistan!”

Sounds like some Colonel Blimp sitting over a large gin fizz in one of the leather armchairs of his men’s club.

Lewis MacKenzie was a failed general, and we have no reason to put any credibility in his words.
________________

“we love freedom, but we’re afraid to risk our lives for it? we love freedom, but we don’t want anyone else to experience it? why are canadians so selfish?”

What planet is the author of those laughable words living on?

Afghanistan is NOT about freedom. Full stop.

It is run by a crook, placed there by American invaders, and the real powers, the regional governors, are a bunch of thug warlords no different to the Taleban.

Afghanistan is, and was, about American paranoia. Americans don’t, and never did, give a damn about “freedoms” elsewhere, especially in a backward place where they have never existed.

You cannot hurl a vast nation from the Middle Ages to modernity. It cannot be done.

That’s like saying you could go to 14th century Spain and tell them they should live like 21st century North Americans.

Ridiculous, and you would soon find yourself burned at the stake.

Of the 200 or so countries in the world, many of them with backward economies, poverty, and ignorant superstition, Afghanistan was about the least likely ever to have caught Canadians hopes or imagination.

We are there only to please the Pentagon, America’s having undergone a form of national insanity over the last eight years.

It has killed more than a million people over a criminal act in which all the 19 perpetrators died.

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

Watchdog?

The man is rather a toothless pup whimpering.

But what would you expect of a Harper appointee?

Just the case of the four thugs at Vancouver Airport screams at Canadians that the RCMP is out of control.

Four men who cannot peacefully arrest a distraught man? Who kill him by misusing both the Taser and a choke-hold position? Who failed in their human duty to seek fast emergency help?

Who then did everything they could – aided by the rest of the force – to delay and impede investigation? And who clearly lied on the witness stand?

I feel sure most Canadians would rather take their chances with a distraught man like poor Mr. Dziekanski rather than police like that.

There are many civilians who would show more courage and compassion under the circumstances than those shabby men.

One can only guess how many of these other cases are comparable in nature, but they were not documented the same way.

The man who was shot in the head during a struggle at an RCMP outpost surely was a case of the same thing.

I think the toothless watchpup should just be quiet and go away. He has no contribution to make, none at all.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

America is reduced to brutal savagery, no different to that of any terrorist.
What we have here is the deliberate murder of a family – with no charges, no trial, no defense, no legalities whatsoever.

Indeed, it is worse than that.

This is the work of buzz-cut employees of the Pentagon sitting at computer terminals, over coffee, murdering people on the other side of the planet by joy-stick remote control, as though they were playing a computer game.

I wonder do they go to lunch down in the cafeteria after a morning’s killing?

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JUSTIN WEBB IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

America is a very conservative country. That is why the great journalist William Shirer, covering events in NAZI Germany, asked whether America would not itself become a fascist country by election.

‘Right-wing’ has characterized its entire history, except for a brief period of the Franklin Roosevelt era.

The nation’s history is characterized by conquest – although its victims were weak compared to those taken on by, say, Germany, including native people, Spanish settlers, and Mexicans – and extreme acquisitiveness. Those are facts largely glossed over in general histories, and few abroad truly appreciate them. They are facts also glossed over in all Fourth of July speeches by local Congressmen and Senators looking for campaign funds.

The higher-sounding words of America’s main founding documents have always been treated the same way most Christians treat the Gospels – that is, they are recited, praised, engraved on monuments, and immediately ignored in day-to-day matters.

And, after all, it is the most superstitiously religious advanced nation on earth, and nothing good comes out of superstition, except fear and killing of every description, killing of devils, killing of communists, killing of Muslims, killing of native people, and killing of any threat perceived by religious paranoia.

And further, the U.S. establishment – really a government within a government, including the CIA, the FBI, the NIA, the Pentagon, and at least a dozen other intelligence agencies not generally known – is not going to permit drastic change. It has things the way it wants them and works daily to keep them so.

The Pentagon alone spends the entire GDP of some countries each year, and it has on many past occasions obstructed presidential policies. The CIA spends a fortune and makes a significant part of its occupation the overthrowing of governments, the interfering in elections abroad (as its doing in places like Iran today), and the getting rid of unwanted foreign leaders. And these powerful institutions are supported by America’s immensely rich Borgia-like families. Does anyone seriously believe such forces will tolerate any real shift in American goals and budgets?

Obama cannot possibly change those circumstances, and without changing those circumstances there is no way he can take significant measures towards creating a more humane and decent America. Kennedy was probably the last president hoping to achieve such huge changes.

Obama has put a pleasant and intelligent face on a government that for eight years was guided by thugs and ignoramuses, and he established a precedent for people of color that gives the U.S. further bragging rights about principles.

Going beyond those modest achievements brings an American leader into highly dangerous territory.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY ALLAN MALLINSON IN THE TELEGRAPH

Allan Mallinson, this is simplistic, uninformed propaganda.

“Undermined at home” smacks of charges of “defeatism” or “stab in the back” or “fifth columnists,” and in using it, you demonstrate a lack of clear thought.

Morale always suffers when you send armies to do the wrong thing, and Iraq and Afghanistan were colossal mistakes.

The British public had overwhelmingly shown its opposition to the invasion of Iraq, but Tony Blair managed to abuse the immense power of a modern prime minister by joining in that pointless mass murder.

Afghanistan cannot be “won” because you are fighting a major part of the population itself, and you are attempting to foist institutions and customs on a people mostly not ready for them.

The invasion of Afghanistan was the product of Bush/Cheney/ Rumsfeld paranoia. The fact that major NATO nations refuse to seriously engage there is owing to the simple fact that they do not perceive a threat there. As well, they do not see how anyone can “win.”

The Bush administration was the most shamefully ignorant and brutal in memory for any Western society. Blair’s having slavishly followed that troika from hell speaks for itself. The man is an ethical nullity.

Given those facts, your words ring oddly uninformed and, indeed, rather dangerous.

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

Lawrence Martin,

This piece is silly babble.

The Canadian Chief Executives is a tiresome organization: a lobbying group for large American corporate interests and a place for political wannabes like Manley to spend some time in expense-paid comfort while schmoozing potential campaign contributors.

Either that last or it serves as a cozy sinecure for has-been or never-were politicians with strong American sympathies to have a title, some press time, and an expense account.

Just look at its last long-term head, an almost silly man who liked to go around in hair resembling Sir John A., absolutely his only point of reference to Canadian interests. Canada’s version of Ichabod Crane.

John Manley is, and always has been, a boring man with American wannabe tendencies. He is a reformer of nothing. He actually could put an audience to sleep with one of his speeches.

And on top of it all, he resembles a slightly demented and overweight chipmunk.

Come to think of it, he is in just the right place to hibernate into his decline.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MATTHEW NORMAN IN THE INDEPENDENT
Now?

Where has Matthew Norman been the last thirty years or so?

The Republican Party has long been a breeding ground for hate and stupidity.

Spiro Agnew’s many ridiculous and shabby words at a time he was taking brown paper bags of money in his vice-presidential office?

Phil Gramm and all his dumb talk about what his mama used to say about “gettin’ down outta the wagon to he’p push the wagon”?

Nixon and wife Pat’s “Republican” cloth coat and their little dog?

Nixon’s filthy, vicious first Congressional campaign won by insulting an honest and capable woman?

Every word ever uttered by that dense chunk of sod, Bush?

Dick Cheney’s organized programs of murder, hate, and denial of rights?

Rumsfeld’s murder of 3,000 prisoners in Afghanistan?

Dan Quayle and everything he ever said?

The late Senator Roman Hruska and his claim that the Supreme Court should reflect all groups, including mediocrity?

Lamar Alexander and his ridiculous custom-made red lumber-jack shirts and his ideas about having a part-time government?

The absurd former Senator Bob Smith and his claim that Clinton was running a “damned concentration camp” when they rescued that poor Cuban boy Elian from his hateful kidnappers in Miami.

Tom Delay and his name-calling and spitting venom while all the time running a crooked fund-raising scheme?

Pat Robertson’s claims that natural disasters were God’s vengeance on America for immoral ways plus just about everything else ever uttered by Robertson?

Newt Gingrich and his “family values” crap while divorcing a wife dying of cancer?