Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: April 2010

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

“There has been a shocking lack of moral seriousness in this debate…”

To the extent that may be true, Ms. Wente, I can only say there is a shocking lack of moral seriousness in your column.

Pretty close to vapid, that.
___________________

“It would be a problem if there were killing fields. Where are the killing fields?”

There were killing fields, my blithely ignorant friend.

After Rumsfield stated in Nazi-like fashion that all the Taleban prisoners should be killed or walled away, 3,000 were driven in batches out to the desert and suffocated in vans.

The facts have been documented by Scots documentary film maker, Jamie Doran.

America’s initial carpet bombing, which was used to decimate the Taleban, while the Taleban’s nemesis, the Northern Alliance advanced to take over, killed God knows how many, and the Northern Alliance contained some of the ugliest cut-throats on the planet, but that’s okay, they were our cut-throats.

And there is no counting how many thousands of innocents have been killed by America’s years of careless bombing since. There are scores of instances of everything from whole wedding parties to village elders being slaughtered by mistake. We get no count, of course.

And what about the secret prisons – places like Bagram Air Base or Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean? We have no idea what goes on in those secret, ghastly places.

The entire crusade has been a stupidly wasteful, immoral project. The Taleban never attacked us. They need never been our enemy. They are backward, but so is every other party there.

People like the writer of this comment and Ms. Wente swallow all the propaganda about purpose and women and schools. Most women in Afghanistan today wear the burka, and most schools opened for girls close out of fear, and it ain’t the Taleban alone causing the fear.

It’s a 14th century place. It cannot be changed in anyone’s lifetime, although you can just keep killing, the way Israel has for 60 years in its neighborhood. We do not belong there. We’ve only contributed to the mass of abuse and killing and stupidity in the name of keeping the Pentagon happy.
_________________

“War is horrible, and bad things are done – even by good people.”

This is the oldest, most meaningless cliché known.

What a thoroughly immoral way to excuse psychopathic activities.

I heard an interview with a (former) American soldier who was on that Wiki-leaks video of the helicopter pilots blasting people into pieces of meat. He arrived to see the mess, and says he now despises the expression, “War is hell.”

The American soldier from the video said clearly that the horror people saw on that video is what war actually is, and the cliché just doesn’t cut it.

We protect ourselves from the realities of war simply so we can keep treating it as the moving of colorful little lead soldiers on a map and doing good things for others.

Those in power have a severe responsibility to go to war only when it is absolutely necessary, because, whether necessary or not, the war will be filled with abuse and horror.

The invasion of Afghanistan was not necessary. Our continued presence is not necessary. Our soldiers have been reduced to unacceptable acts to no worthy purpose.

Advertisements

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY LAWRENCE MARTIN IN THE GLOBE AND MAIL

It’s only been a matter of time.

I’ve waited for our Neolithic Conservatives to take up the old Newt Gingrich theme. After all, everything else they do and say was done and said in the United States twenty years ago.

Old Newt used to go around talking about PBS as a sandbox for liberal yuppies to play in.

And he had an impact. PBS/NPR today is a very mediocre excuse for public broadcasting. It has lots of big glitzy shows, but its news and public affairs are toothless, just about as unchallenging as the rest of America’s major networks.

Well, the left/right business is almost meaningless now thanks to CBC’s own handiwork.

How can you talk about left or right when you are discussing a dumb marketing operation for pop music, surely what CBC Radio is well along to becoming totally?

Well, I guess the Neolithics are concerned about the last gasp of shows on CBC that have genuine meaning and challenge thought, a few intellectual gems in a stunningly meaningless broadcast universe.

Challenging thought we know sure ain’t the business of Harper’s gang of provincial incompetents and bellowers.

But I think they should just wait and save their righteous indignation and spewing and fuming: CBC management is killing the network with the death of a thousand little cuts.

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

 

“Israel’s alarm at the deterioration in its relations with the US is palpable.”

I don’t know about Israel’s alarm, but the “deterioration” part has elements of delusion.

George Bush was without question the most inept man ever to be president.

Apart from many other bits of evidence supporting that assertion, we have his relationship with that colossal bulk of corruption and murder, Ariel Sharon.

The relationship as perceived under these two had no basis in a real world. Israel got to do everything – every dirty trick, every killing, every arrogant piece of behavior – that its corrupt leader could dream of, and that pathetic lump, Bush, just nodded. That even went so far as the extreme abuse, and distinctly possible assassination, of Arafat.

Well, now we’re back to a more realistic situation so far as the American President goes, a man is in power who, despite serious shortcomings, is intelligent and hardworking.

Unfortunately, on the other side of the relationship, Israel has absolutely hit bottom for the intellectually and ethically squalid in Netanyahu. I’m not sure it is possible to find a prominent Israeli with a more grotesque combination of arrogance, dishonesty, and low-life cunning. He’s fooling no one. His skills as a statesman are zero.

Despite many faults in the American psyche, there is a kind of fundamental decency – which, once aroused, is very powerful. Israel has pushed things to the very limits, and once that deep sense of decency and fairness is aroused, I do think the relationship will rapidly deteriorate, perhaps never to recover.

And whose fault will that be?
________________

“A majority of Israel’s Jewish population is of Middle Eastern and North African origin (including, partly, your commenter). So what ‘White man’s burden’ are you referring to? “

Is that dishonest or naive?

Virtually all the founders and most of the prime ministers have had European or American roots, especially European.

And Israel itself is a secular Western society. Nothing about it – from flag to uniforms or political parties – reflects the Mideast.

The only exception is the Orthodox, a people much despised even in Israel for their imposing values on others and shirking responsibilities like military service.

__________________

Well said, David Seaton.

And not only the United States: Israel has never flinched from doing just as it pleased for its often narrow idea of its interests, everything from creating illegal nuclear weapons to assisting the old South Africa to become a nuclear power briefly.

America has been on a one-way trip to nowhere for decades in its relationship with Israel.

It has suffered oil embargo, been dragged willy-nilly into wars, seen Israel abuse the use of the weapons it sells it, suffered Israeli black-ops like the attack on the USS Liberty, and the most damaging imaginable spies like Jonathon Pollard.

It launched the infinitely costly and largely pointless war in Iraq mainly for Israel’s benefit. Yet all it receives from Israel is arrogance, bad advice, and more abuse.

It has stoked the fury of a hundred million Arabs – and all unnecessarily.

A fair policy calls for a fair settlement. Israel’s idea of peace never changes: it is always, I get this and that and the other thing, and you must recognize me and recognize me as a “Jewish state” and you get pretty well nothing.

Israel and Palestine should resemble all the early maps drawn up as parts of the founding documents, not the grotesque distortion we see now. And ethnic-cleansing in Jerusalem and the West Bank must stop. Israel’s insistence on carrying on that way is breeding more resentment and sense of injustice and future horrors than any of us can imagine, but clearly Israel does not have the basic control over its own affairs to stop. The U.S. must do that for them.
________________________

“That Israel is a Western society–not shooting adulterers and homosexuals, allowing diverse religious practice–should not be held against it. I assume you yourself are not interested in moving to a Sha’aria-run republic.”

Comments do not come much more inaccurate or beside the point than that.

It reflects the kind of one-upmanship thinking that has driven Israel on an insane course for decades.

First, I don’t hold being Western “against” Israel. The writer should point out where I did so before making such a ridiculous statement.

My point, had he read what I wrote before answering, was that Israel very little resembles something natural in the Middle East, a point I made in answering someone’s disingenuous claim that the majority of Israel’s people had Middle Eastern or African roots.

Second, where I live or choose to live has nothing whatever to do with the problem confronting the world. It’s as irrelevant as the atmospheric composition of Neptune.

Several million Jewish people have chosen this place, yet they refuse to make any realistic effort, any meaningful sacrifice, to make what they have stable and realistic and fair.

Right now, Israel is a fantasyland supported by the greatest level of subsidy from abroad in all history. Its current shape reflects levels of abuse and injustice which cannot be sustained, and others are paying the bills.

Israel, as it exists, is not long-term viable. Its economy is a hot-house thing, for example exporting tomatoes after using some of the world’s most expensive water. It’s a garrison state, not sustainable long-term. It has every neighbor hating it, and behaves as though there were no tomorrow or future reckonings. It drifts along on visions of Greater Israel, and everyone else is supposed to be willing to pay the immense bill to make it happen.

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

Patrick Martin, it is difficult to believe that you are that naive, so are you being dishonest?

The evidence for Israel’s nuclear weapons is overwhelming.

First, a short while back, Jimmy Carter flatly stated that Israel has about 150 nuclear warheads.

As a former president, former commander of an American missile submarine, and a nuclear engineer, I think it fair to say his testimony is as solid as it gets.

Two, Mordechai Vanunu’s strange odyssey surely was another piece of solid gold evidence.

His photographs of the interior of Israel’s bomb factory were published in the Sunday Times (they even included the mold for the hollow implosion-sphere), and they were never impeached by any scientist. Quite the opposite, they were confirmed.

Since Israel afterward sent a team of agents who drugged and kidnapped Vanunu, sent him for many years to prison, and keeps him still under heavy restrictions, surely to any analyst’s mind, his claims were only confirmed further.

Again, we have the public assertions of Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld who has gone on record saying Israel’s nuclear missiles were able to reach the major capitals of Europe.

We also have the testimony of Mohamed El Baradei, a scientist and nuclear expert and former head of the IAEA, that Israel has nuclear weapons.

The New York Times Magazine, many years ago, did a feature story of how Israel came to build nuclear weapons. The French were a key part of the effort, at that time France playing a role for Israel a little like the U. S. today as a key weapons supplier and guarantor.

We know today, too, that Israel stole nuclear materials and secrets from the American weapons establishment to assist its efforts.

Israel not only illegally built weapons but was the world’s first dangerous proliferator. It had a secret pact with South Africa to assist their building nuclear weapons in exchange for secure access to important resources and other considerations.

A spy satellite actually captured the flash of what was almost certainly a joint Israeli-South African nuclear test in the Indian Ocean. A very limited number of reports, all fine-type stuff, after the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa, mentioned America’s removing the nuclear material from South Africa.

We know that President Kennedy became aware that Israel was working on nuclear weapons through the CIA. He was totally opposed to Israel’s becoming a nuclear power, but he did not live to alter the course of history. More than a few have speculated that Israel’s secret services were behind the assassination for just this very powerful motive.

Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, proved one of Israel’s best friends in the White House. The weapons program continued, and when Israel attacked the USS Liberty, a spy ship in the Mediterranean, killing a great many of the crew and likely hoping to embroil the U.S. in the Six Day War, Johnson suppressed the story which only gradually came out afterwards.

There is much other evidence – in total, rarely would even a major intelligence agency ever have collected such an overwhelming case.

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

There are not many matters over which I could agree with Ms. Wente, but this, by and large, is one of them.

McGuinty’s energy policy is little short of madness.

He decided, quite arbitrarily, to close Ontario’s coal-fired stations. The fact is that Ontario’s coal-fired plants are among the more efficient of those in the central continent, a crucially important fact generally ignored in discussions.

The problem with air pollution from such plants – and I mean the problem in Ontario – is the dozens of inefficient plants in the U.S. Midwest: the prevailing winds bring their heavy pollution here.

When you close a relatively efficient plant and then experience a surge in demand, as for summer air-conditioning, Ontario buys power from the U.S., often from the very plants which are the genuine problem. So you close an efficient plant and buy from an inefficient plant, creating a net effect of increased pollution.

None of the renewable energy sources, and certainly not wind power, is capable of coming even close to replacing what is called base-load power, the power ready to be called upon twenty-four hours a day.

Wind turbines can go for days in some locations producing nothing or close to nothing. They are also a visual blight on the landscape, a serious source of noise pollution, a threat to migrating birds, and the electricity they generate is very costly.

Wind power was embraced in Northern Europe in large part owing to the fact that people already lived in a high-cost energy regime, gasoline going for far greater prices than people in Ontario have ever seen. If all energy is already high-cost, it is less noticeable to add slices of still higher-cost energy to the mix.

But even then, there has been a good deal of disappointment in Europe with the actual performance of wind turbines. They appear, under conditions of mass use, to be even more inefficient and costly than we thought.

Now, Ontario is very concerned about jobs and its manufacturing base. What do you think will be the effect on luring industries to Ontario of high-cost electricity?

Either the industries will go elsewhere, or McGuinty will allow them to be subsidized at the household consumer’s expense. Not only will households pay for their own higher-cost electricity, but they will pay for industry’s higher-cost electricity.

And, as a further thoughtful gift from McGuinty, we’ll pay HST on the whole big increase.

Investmants in further upgrades to the coal stations would have been an infinitely better choice.

McGuinty wants to play the eco-hero, but he has made the wrong call on every aspect of energy policy, threatening the future competitiveness of Ontario.

Maybe us “Eastern bastards” will indeed end up “freezing in the dark.”

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

“…stay course…”?

More stupid American war speech infecting Canada like a contagious disease.

Some Canadians now say “the boys” and we have the brainless McGuinty offering of “the Highway of Heroes.”

And, of course, the pathetic, stick-on plastic yellow ribbons.

Our CBC Radio in its decline produced and broadcast an idiotic series called Afghanada. Every word and sound of that propaganda could have passed for something from America, save only the actor with the phony Newfoundland speech.

These are all signs of how destructive this business has been to Canadian values.

The Pentagon is like the fabled tar-baby. You can’t touch it without pitch stuck to your hands.

___________________________

“… I disrespected parents of dead soldiers?”

Sorry, but there’s another example of trash American speech.

There is no such word as “disrespected.” You “show disrespect,” unless you come from Arkansas or the streets of Detroit.

Further, if parents have the sheer arrogance to beg the government to stay in the killing business just to make the loss of their children somehow more meaningful, they themselves are opening the door to justified attacks on their judgment.

Having lost someone doesn’t give you a special right to advocate like that. It is shameful and abusive.

It is exactly the kind of non-think we see in America’s professional-victim society.

______________________

“Sorry, old bean. Disrespect may also be used as a transitive verb”

Only by those who also use barbarities like “flied out.”

War is, if you will, the secret life of chimpanzees. It is when humans drop all the rules and decencies we have patiently built up over time and set out to murder, rape, and destroy.

That’s why, for example, soldiers in Afghanistan are warned by the Canadian authorities to ignore the bloody rapes of boys that take place regularly in this place we’re supposed to be saving.

Many have witnessed our own allies and workers like interpreters literally leaving children bleeding on the ground from gang rapes.

I point out that I believe the corruption of language reflects this corruption of values.

America has been a society dedicated to war for decades. It has killed millions needlessly, three million just in Vietnam.

Propagandists now are working overtime to alter our culture in the same direction.

_____________________

“Most of us have the power to use logic and factual information. Use it.”

Thus says someone whose entire comment shows little of either.

The Taliban were the government of the country, and they attacked no one. The U.S. invasion drove them out.

The very word “insurgents” is a weasel-word. The Taliban are not invaders. They are not foreigners. They are a large portion of the population of the place.

The governors America has put in their place belonged to the Northern Alliance, people every bit as backward as the Taliban, their former opponents. Indeed, it was the Northern Alliance who permitted bin Laden to reside in Afghanistan.

After the Russians withdrew, the Northern Alliance took power, and ran the country the way a bloodthirsty mafia would. There was chaos in the streets. Fighting everywhere. Injustice everywhere. Corruption everywhere.

The Taliban actually were formed as a “clean government” party, and they did clean things up on taking power, as for instance by totally stopping opium production.

They are not to our tastes, but, believe me, none of the parties in Afghanistan are. They all have 14th century views because the country lives in the 14th century.

Indeed, the drugs are pouring out of Afghanistan, completely ignored by the U.S. because it is some of their people profiting.

You want modernity? You help the economy develop. You do not bomb people.

America went there to kill, it went for vengeance. Everything else is window-dressing. And Canadian soldiers are part of the decorations.

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

“…he squandered a rare chance to strengthen our democracy…”

Absolutely.

And what is so amazing is the colossal ineffectiveness of the Liberals in allowing the Conservatives to repeat, over and over, the big lie that a coalition is not democratic, unparliamentary.

The truth is, of course, just the opposite.

They also let the dumb slur about deals with separatists prosper.

What hypocrisy, when Harper has never refused their support for something he wanted.

We’ve paid a price for the Liberals’ ineptitude, but I am glad Ignatieff will never be prime minister.

Nothing he has done or said proves he has the talents, the views, or the ethics for the office.

And when it comes to “strengthening democracy,” Ignatieff’s record in entirely in the opposite direction.

Parachuted back into our country, parachuted into his riding, and parachuted into the leadership – all with a charming record of public support for American aggression and imperialism.

And, on top of everything, he is simply boring as a speaker.

_______________

“@John Chuckman

“Ignatieff is . . boring as a speaker”

* * *

For those with attention-deficit problems, and inability to pay attention for more than 30 seconds to anything that isn’t shiny or makes loud noises.”

That’s a pretty pathetic effort at personal attack.

As someone who graduated with honors from University of Toronto, served as chief economist in a major corporation, published a book, published many essays, has had a column in a metropolitan newspaper, taught university courses, and doesn’t even turn on a television, I do think it fair to say the writer doesn’t know what she/he/it is talking about.

I have heard Ignatieff interviewed at length, and he is dull. No new ideas, no fresh thought, just a stream of words, and he secretly worships at the feet of the American Imperium. Then there’s the rather raspy voice and the sense one gets from him of never revealing what he really thinks.

And clearly it is not just my judgment.

He has completely and utterly failed to engage the Canadian people, and that miserable failure comes in the face of a political opponent as widely disliked as Harper.

Proof, if ever there were, of a man totally unsuited to his grasping ambition. He simply does not have the goods.

It really is tiresome to see Ignatieff defended by a small band of enthusiastic (and likely delusional) supporters for the supposed merit of being so impressive an intellectual.

First, I defy anyone to produce a truly original idea from Ignatieff. There aren’t any.

Of course, true intellectuals rarely if ever run for office.

And finally, politics simply is not about being intellectual. Being smart is important. Paul Martin is smart. Jean Chretien is smart. Harper is smart. Pierre Trudeau was very smart.

Ignatieff wrote books, not very interesting ones in my view, and he blubbered on television at lot – but those are precisely the talents of a David Frum or a thousand other talking heads.

Hardly the stuff of leadership.

__________________

“…why do the most ardent Harper supporters hate the BLOC so much?”

Simply because it has stood in the way of the Conservatives winning a majority.

Duceppe, despite his views on Quebec nationalism (and it is thanks to Mr. Harper that is a legitimate phrase in our national political dialogue), is an astute and capable politician, and I credit him with views that are in the finest traditions of Canada.

The absolute stupidity of Conservative arguments about coalition with separatists is demonstrated by several glaring facts.

First, the people represented by the Bloc are Canadians, and they have elected this party to represent them.

Second, we all have included the Bloc in national leadership debates.

Third, the party is a legitimate part of the Parliament of Canada.

Fourth, Mr. Harper uses their support whenever he can benefit by it.

Last, it was Mr. Harper who passed a formal resolution on Quebec as a nation within Canada.

Of course, if Conservatives wanted to be honest and consistent in this matter, they would oppose including the Bloc in debates. They would oppose admitting them to Parliament. And they would never accept their support on legislation.

But we don’t see any of that, do we?

It would be the death sentence for Conservatives in Quebec. Talk about hypocrisy, this is as rich as it gets.