Archive for December 2009

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ON OBAMA’S CALLING THE RECENT SQUIB OF A TERROR EVENT ON AN AIRLINER A “SYSTEMATIC FAILURE” OF INTELLIGENCE

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

Obama has called the recent incident a “systematic failure” of intelligence.

What else was the original 9/11 attack but a “systemic failure”?

What else was the assassination of John Kennedy but a “systemic failure”?

During the Cold War, it is a legendary fact that CIA’s estimates of the Soviet Union were consistently failed.

The CIA didn’t even forecast the final collapse of the Soviet Union.

America’s bloated intelligence agencies have never been effective.

Big Intelligence simply does not work.

But they sure can eat resources and make things miserable for ordinary people.

And the good old CIA sure knows how to torture people.

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Readers may enjoy my piece of a few years ago, “Why The CIA Will Always Be A Costly Flop.”

You’ll find it at:

http://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/why-the-cia-always-will-be-a-costly-flop/

_______________________

“A senior taliban leader in Pakistan stated, very clearly, that islam and democracy are incompatible. Muslims do not need democracy, as the koran should be used as an example of how a muslim should live his life.

“Notice that it’s ‘his’ life, as a woman has no standing in muslim society and is only a commodity”

This person should know the words to the music before getting up to sing.

What a complete load of uninformed nonsense he/she has written, contributing only to the huge pile of propaganda and ignorance we see about Muslims.

Those statements apply precisely to economically backward societies always and everywhere.

Women were commodities in Europe only a few centuries ago.

Wealthy men can today still buy a wife in India.

Indeed, the practice of “bride burning” is still common in India.

Twelve year old girls are often married off to wealthy old men making payments to the “bride’s” family. Then when she is a widow at a very young age, she is treated like a social outcast and must conform to many terrible rules of behavior. Her life is as good as over. Millions are affected this way.

Women in Africa, to the tune of 3 million a year, suffer the horrors of genital mutilation. And in many parts of Africa, young girls are routinely raped by older village men.

Women in Canada could not have bank accounts without their husband’s written permission well into the 20th century.

Democracy is incompatible with all old societies. It took the United States two hundred years AFTER its revolution to achieve something even vaguely close to democracy.

It is estimated that about 1% of the population of Virginia could vote. Even white males could not vote because of property requirements.

The Senate wasn’t even elected until 1913.

Women couldn’t vote until 1920.

Great masses of black people couldn’t vote until the 1960s.

And today, because of an outdated, anti-democratic provision of the Constitution, Americans still do not directly elect their president: this has produced a number of minority presidents plus a number of political farces like the 2000 election.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: AMERICAN HEATHCARE REFORM AND THE QUESTION WHETHER AMERICA CAN GOVERN ITSELF

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

Govern themselves badly indeed – this is fundamental truth that comparatively few appreciate.

But Jeffrey Simpson may not appreciate how conditioned Americans are to accept poor government.

The widespread hatred of all government and taxation works towards this: as in, do what you like, but do not raise my taxes.

So does the artificial hyper-patriotism constantly drummed everywhere in the society play an important role of immense social pressure.

The drumming has several effects. First, there is a general propensity to see critics of any major policy as unpatriotic.

In the Vietnam era, critics were widely told “to love it or leave it,” a disgusting thing to say to another citizen, but decades later, the same filthy, divisive words are heard concerning the fantasy-induced war on terror.

The Washington establishment – the Pentagon, the CIA plus about thirteen other intelligence agencies, the ancient, almost unchanging Senate, and the major military contractors – almost form a government within a government, Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex, a genuine breathing presence in American society and not just a turn of phrase.

Obama – as humane and intelligent a man as America can produce – already has been captured in its tentacles. It is hard to distinguish what is going on abroad today from what went on under the ghastly Bush.

That is to say, national elections do not change much today in America.

And this complex eats money, leaving not a lot of room for programs like national heath.

And in such a society, the penetrating sense for so many is one of always living on the edge, just getting by, one step removed from financial chaos, and that sense of things works to the benefit of the Washington establishment’ s demand for resources.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: WHAT IS MISSING FROM ONE COLUMNIST’S LIST OF 2009’s FIVE TOP STORIES

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY GIDEON RACHMAN IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Gideon Rachman,

On the whole, a very perceptive column.

I believe two changes, both quite significant, are needed however.

Concerning the election in Iran, I do believe you have it a bit wrong. Yes, the election made Obama’s wishes more difficult, but no, the election was not illegitimate nor is there yet reason to believe the government is insecure.

You are following the common wisdom of corporate newspapers, a wisdom which seems little more than consistent support for American policy, however wrong-headed it may be on any topic.

“…left a permanent impression of the instability and illegitimacy of the Iranian government.”

We have absolutely no solid basis for saying that the election was illegitimate. Several observers, very knowledgeable about Iran, including one scholar whom I heard interviewed at length, say that result was accurate. A lot of poor people in Iran like the current president.

The disturbances in Iran’s streets have been at least in part fomented by CIA money. Have you forgotten that Bush earmarked $400 million in his late term for inciting trouble in Iran?

I believe that if I gave those who disagree with the government of any country – including certainly Britain or the United States – $400 million dollars towards subversion and propaganda, we would see trouble in any of them. Many Western governments represent minority opinions.

The story you missed, which I think marked a genuine historical turning point, is Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.

Revulsion at the killing of about 400 children is worldwide, and the act further calls into question Israel’s entire structure of unwarranted siege, apartheid, and slow-motion ethnic-cleansing in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Even the support of some American Jews is beginning to crumble for what is so clearly a brutal government with absolutely no intention of ever seeking genuine peace with its neighbors.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: BRITISH APOLOGIST FOR BLOODSHED, CON COUGHLIN, SAYS ISRAEL IS A DIFFICULT ALLY BUT ITS LEADERS ARE HARDLY WAR CRIMINALS

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CON COUGHLIN IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Well, if the leaders of Israel are not war criminals, just who in the world qualifies?

 

Murdering 400 children in Gaza? Deliberately targeting UN observers bravely doing their job in Lebanon? Laying a blanket of nightmarish, barbaric cluster bombs across Southern Lebanon? And refusing to cooperate in removing them?

Keeping a million and half souls in Gaza under siege, even after killing 1,400 of them? Institutionalizing slow-motion ethnic-cleansing in Jerusalem and the West Bank? Stealing homes and farms from families who have lived there for centuries to hand over to immigrants from London or New York?

Over forty years of humiliation and abuse for the people of the territories occupied in 1967, captured in a war which Israel is known to have engineered to this very purpose? Many thousands held in prison with no proper legal procedures? Building a new Berlin Wall and building it on the property of others?

Arresting the members of a cleanly elected government – far more so than was the case for Mr. Bush – because you disagree with their party? Refusing even to talk to those you disagree with?

Assassinating scores of individuals with no charges or trial or legal procedure, an exact copy of the bloody activity of juntas in South America who made people disappear?

The only reason Israel’s leaders are not all severely dealt with by the Western world is the immense, smothering influence of the United States whose foreign policy in many parts is virtually written in Israel.

A United States, by the way, whose last president was the world’s reigning living war criminal with a million dead souls to his credit.

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Footnote on the USS Liberty attacked by Israel in the 1967 war. Previous comments have made some ridiculous claims about bloody event.

The ship was extremely well marked. The lead pilot of the Israeli attack force made low passes over the ship before the attack, exchanging waves with sailors on deck.

Then, suddenly, a savage two-hour assault with every weapon the Israeli planes had – guns, bombs, and torpedoes. The lame claim made afterward: it was a mistake.

Of course, Israel was trying to get the US into the war. It would have blamed Egypt for the attack.

There is also speculation that Israel was destroying the recorded evidence – the ship was a sophisticated spy craft – of its atrocities in the Sinai where Israelis murdered hundreds of Egyptian troops who had surrendered rather than be burdened with them in advancing.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TIGER WOODS AND COLOSSAL DISHONESTY AND THE MEANING OF CELEBRITY PRIVACY AND THE GOOFY CULT OF SPORTS

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

Woods is a disaster of a husband indeed.

And, truth be told, something of a disaster as a human being, apart from his charming smile and sports talent.

The truly disturbing fact in all of this is his level of dishonesty and deception. Colossal.

In general, I agree about private lives of famous people.

But just who here has made things so public?

Woods himself.

His dishonest, shabby behavior has intimately affected the lives of dozens – at least fourteen women at last count plus his wife and children and other family members.

If you choose to share your intimate thoughts and privacy with a long series of cocktail waitresses, you can hardly claim privacy anymore. You’ve literally tossed it to the wind.

The cocktail waitresses do have the right to share what they know with others if they choose – it is now part of their lives – and they most certainly have done so, each enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame and possible book contract.

God, one of his bimbos even released comments of his that he wished he had met her before his wife.

How could you ever again enjoy a mate who talked that way to someone else?

The story does tend to confirm my longstanding belief that sports as a builder of character or sportspeople as heroes is simply ridiculous.

Sports figures do what they do because it is the only skill they have in which they may excel and prosper, not out of any set of principles. Many of them could only hold down jobs as clerks without the fantasy world of high level sports.

Single mothers working hard for their kids are in many cases greater genuine heroes than the often pretentious and over-paid people in sports.

Just think of all the thugs in professional football. The NFL is said to run a significant quiet operation just to hush up and cover the scores of assaults against women, both sexual and brutal physical, by its gang of privileged thugs.

And look at the violent temper tantrums, including threats to officials, of a Williams sister or a John McEnroe.

And professional boxing? Hard to tell most of the cast from inmates at a super-max prison.

Coaches? Countless angry, frustrated men who encourage violence and displays of violence and frequently even humiliate those in their charge.

Sport is about anything you like, but it is not the stuff of heroes.

And Woods has about the same claim to privacy as a drunk arrested on the highway.

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“Your post smacks of a deep seated resentment and, for me, casts a dark shadow over anything else you might choose to opine upon.”

Deep resentment?

No, I’m just tired of all the hoopla over swinging a stick or running fast. After all, in the scheme of things, they are pretty inconsequential activities.

Indeed, I don’t recall ever hearing an interview with a sports figure who says much different to, “We’re gonna give it everythin’ we got; we’re goin’ for gold.”

Hardly worth printing or broadcasting.

“And your point is?” would actually be an appropriate response to such mush.

People should enjoy their games, but that is all there is to it, games. Hopscotch or Tiddlywinks for grown-ups.

Trying to make moral or ethical or philosophical points about games really is silly. Yet we still get the rubbish about heroic efforts, about going the last mile, about showing real character, about digging in deep, etc, etc., ad nauseum.

And just what else would someone do whose entire existence is wrapped up in swinging a stick or running fast or throwing a ball, someone who has spent much of their life earnestly training to swing a stick or run?

Opine?

I think that word was last seriously used by John Keats.

Sorry, but in all honesty, your approval or disapproval of my views means about as much as the hum of a fly ten miles away.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: RICHARD COLVIN STRIKES BACK AT THE GOVERNMENT’S EFFORTS TO COVER UP ITS INCOMPETENT BEHAVIOR AROUND TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN

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

“What happened over there that he has become so bitter against our troops and freedom.”

How many times have we read a variation of this completely uninformed comment?

It originated with that great bulk of twisted ethics, Stephen Harper, the very man who is entirely responsible for the behavior of the government and its representatives abroad, including troops.

What are the facts?

Armies are disciplined to do what they are told – that is a major part of their often humiliating basic training, always saluting and saying “Sir.”

Armies, in every modern democracy, are under the command of an elected government.

Armies’ policies are all set by civilian overlords.

Armies go nowhere and do nothing without civilian direction.

And we would not have it any other way.

So, who are the civilians responsible for what happened in Afghanistan?

Stephen Harper.

This is Harper’s shabbiest performance to date.

He’s blaming others for his own failure and trying to sound patriotic while doing it.

I do recall him doing other very similar things. It clearly is a basic part of his character. After Israel’s savage slaughters in Lebanon and Gaza, he attempted to pin the label of anti-Semite on honest Canadian critics.

Our own prime minister calling us names because we say things with which he disagrees.

What a disaster he is as a national leader.

How far we have fallen.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ORAL ROBERTS: THE GREAT OKIE FRAUDSTER HAS FLEECED HIS LAST FLOCK AND AMERICA’S GREAT INVENTION OF THE INHERITED MINISTRY

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL
The Great Okie Fraudster has played his last confidence trick.He will, perhaps, be best remembered by his stunt of locking himself up in “the Prayer Tower” at the college campus he named after himself. The great man refused to eat until someone came through with a fresh ten million bucks for the Oral Empire.

And it worked. Oral got his gift from God, even if only by way of some eccentric Oklahoma oil billionaire.

Oral used to start his pitches – err, I mean, sermons – by assuring the crowd that “something GOOD was going to happen to YOU.”

And, just as in the picture accompanying his obituary, he used his long, husky fingers like someone playing a musical instrument in the air. It reminded me of Harpo Marx doing his melodramatic musical gig in the old Marx Brothers’ movies.

In true Christian fashion, he left his flock – said to be good for an annual fleecing of around five million bucks – to his son, a sort of look-alike without the magic medicine-wagon voice and rough hands of the Master: a meat-substitute burger instead of the bleeding slab of sirloin, if you will.

Sadly, the Good Lord often sends sons to these great Christian Entrepreneurs who prove something of a disappointment. Maybe it’s just that old business of pounding-fist fathers bringing up rather feeble sons. Still, you’ve got to keep the money in the family.

Certainly that seems to have been the case with Franklin Graham, inheritor of Rev Billy’s Dazzling Empire, for Franklin is a man who proves that in America you don’t need any brains to be rich.

Then there’s that Venerable Pomposity, the Rev Robert Schuller, and son, Rev Robert Jr, a dysfunctional pair if ever there was one. Because the princeling proved unworthy, the old Rev had to hand over his Chrystal Cathedral Business Empire to a daughter – Heavens! – Rev Sheila, and word has it that now the Chrystal Cathedral can’t meet its weekly bills for vandalized windows.

It’s called inherited ministry, one of America’s more original contributions to world culture.

But the one thing about Rev Oral you had to admire: he had great hair.