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Monthly Archives: April 2011

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

I do have a problem with “visions” generally, but, when someone has no legitimate right to be called a liberal, talks of the “liberal vision,” I can only laugh.

I cannot think of one evidence of Ignatieff’s having a genuinely liberal spirit.

Here are just some of the facts:

He does not speak out on any of the great issues of our day.

He didn’t subject himself to a democratic contest to gain his leadership job.

He provided the ammunition – his own foolish words at his first convention – for Harper attack ads against the extremely decent and thoughtful Mr Dion.

He came back to Canada rasping and blubbering on one occasion about how you cannot ever oppose America because they’ll make you pay.

Presumably that absolutely amoral advice applies even when what America engages in is mass murder, as it was in Iraq.

He was published and broadcast in the United States defending the mass murder in Iraq and accepting “mild” torture.

He has distinguished himself in nothing, shown no political courage, since becoming leader.

He well deserves to fall on his face.

I will always hold his ambition and ego responsible if Harper gains a majority and proceeds to tear down the decent Canada we all love.

Intellectuals are supposed to “know themselves,” and it couldn’t be more clear that Ignatieff either has no idea of his own limited political capacities or has such an ego he believes himself capable of tasks for which he has no talent.

Good-bye, Mr Ignatieff, you won’t be missed.

As the saying goes, don’t forget to close the door on your way out.
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Again, so long as Quebec has been out of play for the Liberals and Conservatives – the very basis for the horrible minority freak show we’ve experienced for some years – the only way to defeat Harper is through a coalition.

Mr. Dion and Jack Layton both understood this basic truth, but the Don Quixote of Canadian Liberal politics, the one wearing the colors of the Pentagon on his sleeve, did not.

This silly man actually sneered at Dion’s signing up to a coalition.

Ignatieff is so ineffective a politician, he countered Harper’s appeal to ignorance with his dishonest “stab in the back” stuff about coalitions “stealing elections” only by the most insipid statements.

Well, Harper has been a prime minister with the support of only one-third of Canadians. The two-thirds against him all represent some degree or other of progressive vote.

That’s not democracy.

A coalition of the two-thirds would have been.

And just try telling the dozens of governments in the world who have been or are ruled by coalitions that they stole elections.

Only the truly ignorant repeat this Hitler-like mantra.

Coaltions are everywhere and always a valid part of parliamentary government.

You blew it, Ignatieff, big time.

Unfortunately, we’ll all have to pay for your blundering and meddling.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN

EXPANSION OF POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY IAN BROWN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Donald Trump is, indeed, the perfect fit as leader of contemporary America: a big-mouthed bore who never seriously thinks about anything and is always ready to communicate attitudes as though he came equipped with a megaphone for a mouth.

The youth cult is part and parcel of America, and Trump also fits there perfectly. He fluffs and dyes his pathetic patch of hair, growing it far longer than a man of his age should and combing it as though he believes he is still a teenager and the date is 1960. The total effect is rather like an exhibit in Madam Tussaud’s chamber of horrors.

Money is Trump’s only interest, which corresponds nicely with America’s only interest. And ditto Trump’s favorite hobby of pushing people around.

It all fits so perfectly.

Here is Mr. America for 2012, a deflated old tire of a man who just keeps pounding away by force of his sheer arrogance and greed.

He reminds me very much of what some of the late and most corrupt Roman emperors must have been like.

Surely, the perfect captain for a sinking ship.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Speaking of being a “master of delivery,” consider Ignatieff’s ridiculous ad running over and over on CBC Radio, the one about his mother – yes, you heard right, his mother – and health care.

It is absolutely off-putting.

Instead of talking hard and seriously about a major issue, this so-called master of delivery talks about mom.

Who in his right mind is going to pay attention to that?

It’s a pathetic effort to play on emotions associated with motherhood to gain support. Yuck.

And it is clearly also a weak further attempt to cement the idea that he is, after all, a local boy.

Ignatieff has always been overrated as an intellectual, as a speaker, and as a man concerned with human rights.

Many people clearly see all this, and it’s why Ignatieff is falling on his face.

Again, what “master of delivery” plays Pa Kettle on a long cross-country bus trip and thinks he is doing anything worthwhile?

Playing Pa Kettle was already an admission of failure.

People aren’t listening because they know the Ignatieff Show is boring, and his season is about to be cancelled.

He will win only a bitter legacy of being responsible for Stephen Harper’s winning a five year term, free to tear apart the Canada so many of us love.

Ignatieff is the perfect example of hubris – a man of no political talents and not having the character to resist taking what was handed to him by some sorry backroom politicians.
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From another reader:

“Freedom of choice, Harper and, his Evangelical Christian Theo-Cons if successful at a Majority Government dream of a roll back of same-sex marriage laws plus enshrine fetal rights on the citizens of Canada”

Harper represents a far more pervasive threat than that, an act which would be next to impossible.

Harper will eliminate federal subsidies to parties, thus opening the gates to complete special-interest campaign contributions. You want to see what a set of disasters this can open up? Look at the United States where this is the way it’s done.

Supreme Court appointments represent the some kind of long-term danger as campaign-finance changes.

Harper will continue marching in lock-step with the United States on a huge range of issues, from purchasing the clunker F-35 which costs the GNP of a small nation to sending more Canadians on America’s now regular crusades against those with whom it disagrees and to a perimeter treaty and to giving the US a special place in our Arctic.

Of course, we will continue for years to hear intellectual trash about criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. Maybe we’ll even get a law in that police-state direction.

He will build his new gulag of prisons, no matter what the cost.

The Foreign Service – Pearson’s beloved Foreign Service – will continue to be told that there are no such things as child soldiers.

Our reputation internationally goes from being another Sweden to being another Pinochet’s Chile.

Program cuts to end the deficit. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

ADDITIONAL RESPONSES TO AN EDITORIAL IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Response to another reader’s comment:

While I agree with your view of traditional Conservatives, genuinely decent men like Joe Clark or Peter Lougheed or Robert Stanfield, what does the once-great Liberal Party now bring us?

An arrogant putz – there is no other word for this dull and uninspiring man who doesn’t even have the faith in democratic values to gain his leadership through democratic means, just as he was parachuted into his riding at the beginning of his Don Quixote quest for political success.

And in the end, his values are nothing of which to be proud. He supported the slaughter of a million Iraqis. He speaks out on none – absolutely none – of the world’s great human-rights problems today despite the flaks’ puff stuff about him as human-rights defender.

He doesn’t object to the sad waste of our lives and treasure wasted in Afghanistan. He doesn’t question the idiocy of Canadian planes joining the Americans in their Libyan crusade, taking sides in a civil war he doesn’t even understand. Israel is just fine continuing its apartheid policies involving assassination, torture, kidnapping, and the regular theft of other peoples’ homes.

And he doesn’t say he won’t serve Pentagon interests by, for example, buying (helping to subsidize) the world’s costliest clunker of a plane, the F-35. No, he dances around saying the procedures were wrong, and he would correct them. Talk about a mamby-pamby nothing.

He goes on the radio with a pathetic ad about his mother and healthcare. Yuck, even a clever high-schooler would know better.

He is a totally inept politician, and his terrible dam-ing legacy will likely be the next five years of Harper’s ripping the guts out of our beloved country and its international reputation as a fair and decent place, turning Canada into a thin-gruel version of Republican Texas.

Thanks, Michael Ignatieff, for not having the courage to admit you do not have what it takes while yet having the diseased ego to proceed anyway.
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A newspaper has no business offering “shoulds” and “it were bests” to its readers, especially in political or religious matters.

It is paternalistic at best, just plain arrogant at worst.

Your job is to report events as scrupulously as you can – in effect, supplying the crucial information for an informed democracy.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY RICHARD GRAY IN THE TELEGRAPH

Here is the world’s genuinely important news.

Politicians’ blubbering, Royal weddings, the Pope’s silly words – all reported as significant, which they are not.

Meanwhile, the real heroes of our age, the scientists and mathematicians, quietly work away making astounding discoveries of incalculable value.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Forget gimmicks indeed. Earth Hour. Earth Day. Sustainable this or that.

But you can also forget focusing on energy as Andrew Miall advocates.

There is only one genuine Green Problem, all the others, and especially energy, being nothing but symptoms.

Human population growth is threatening its own environment.

But the United States Congress still won’t even support aid measures which go against right-wing religious beliefs.

The crazy old Pope keeps preaching nonsense about which he knows nothing.

And off we are on a trajectory of doubling our already groaning population in a matter of decades.

Halve the world’s population, and we could have a good life on earth for all.

It truly is that simple, but also that hard.

Our prejudices and superstitions and that little reptilian piece in our brain condemns us to not deal with the most obvious of problems.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

I think you may be right, Mr. Simpson, as you so often are, being the country’s most astute political commentator after the late Jim Travers.

But the Liberals’ great strategic blunder, pre-dating this insipid election effort, was appointing Ignatieff as their leader.

The insiders responsible for this did our country a grave disservice, as will become painfully evident if Harper gets even the slimmest of majorities.

Ignatieff has almost no political skill and appears to be a poor strategic thinker.

More than that, I think it remarkable that a man with the reputation of “intellectual” shows almost no original or innovative thought. I have heard nothing from him that makes me say to myself, well, that’s right.

And, for a guy who supposedly was such a human-rights figure, his voice is never heard on the great human-rights issues of our day, but then I knew his genuine record – not the puff – before he opportunistically made his return to Canada.

Now while there are virtually no good qualities in Harper – poor ethics, poor democratic values, pandering to groups, a poor record of appointments, and a shabby record of dismissing those he doesn’t want to hear from – you must grant him a great strategic grasp of our electoral process. He is a one-man show of extraordinary dark political skills.

A political anti-Christ, I think it fair to say. Not a leader, not an idea man, not a man of principle, but a calculating machine to achieve dominance – a very dangerous man indeed.

Some choice we are given.

No wonder people in Quebec are turning to Layton, who like Elizabeth May, actually stands for some principles, whether they are ones you agree with or not.

But that too is go-nowhere development.

Layton’s replacing some of Duceppe ‘s seats does not really change the dangerous political calculus that may see Canada damaged seriously over the next five years.

What a great irony that Ignatieff, the very man who literally sneered at Dion’s coalition, should be attacked by Harper for intending “to steal the election” with a coalition.

What a great disappointment that so many Canadians are revealed to be so poorly educated that they believe Harper’s school-yard name-calling.

So long as we have the situation we have in Quebec – where Conservatives and Liberals are not contenders – the only way to stop a minority tyrant-bully like Harper is through a coalition.

And coalition is both legal and entirely proper in a parliamentary democracy.

Dion understood that. The pathetic Ignatieff has not.
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“Promising to TAX more? Mr Simpson, I’m pretty sure that even Mr. Ignatieff isn’t that silly.”

Here again is the kind of stuff which painfully reveals lack of education in a good deal of our voting populace, and ignorant democracy is dangerous.

How does anyone like that think Harper will make his vast deficits disappear?

And, at the same time, pay for gigantic and unnecessary commitments like buying that costly clunker of a fighter plane and building a new gulag of prisons?

Of course, the simplistic answer is cuts, and I, as a retired professional economist, am not against judicious cuts.

But you cannot spend the way Harper spends and have a deficit like those Harper has created, and cut your way to a balanced budget.

People like the commenter do not understand that some of our program spending is actually a competitive advantage for Canada, health care being a chief one.

We spend about 2/3 per capita to what Americans spend on health care, and – the statistics speak loudly – we get better overall outcomes by measures such as population longevity and infant mortality.

It is largely because of our health care that traditionally American corporations such as the big auto companies have viewed Canada as an efficient place in which to invest.

Not because our workers work harder, not because they are better educated, but because they start on the job by the companies not having to buy the horribly costly and inefficient private health insurance they must buy in America.

And just so for other of our national programs.
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The single greatest cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is, and has long been, heath-care costs.

It is nothing to envy.

Anyway, readers, I think it quite possible that all the political sound and fury will be for nothing.

Despite Harper and his flaks’ constant blubbering about his economic management, when the other shoe falls in the United States, all bets are off.

People are still walking away from their mortgages there in huge numbers, and the country is spending money it does not have with wars on multiple fronts. It is also running unbelievable deficits in every account you care to mention, from the national budget to current accounts and to personal debt.

A gigantic economic tsunami is approaching the United States, and despite Harper’s childish bragging, it will not spare Canada.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO AN EDITORIAL IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The business of political endorsement by a newspaper is an entirely outdated and inappropriate concept.

It is a practice going back to the days in the late 18th century when parties each literally owned their own newspapers, the newspapers being used for the same manipulation of public opinion we call propaganda when it occurs in places like the good old USSR.

In the 20th century, ownership had graduated to secret smoky room deals between big newspaper magnates and politicians.

Things aren’t quite that black-and-white anymore, but we do know that certain papers favor certain parties, even though they may occasionally break with their favorite when endorsement would be a waste of breath and would possibly endanger relations with a new government, the results being so predictable.

How, in any way, is a group of editors qualified to suggest how people should vote?

It is almost mumbo-jumbo to suggest that they are.

Indeed, you are so dependant on relations with government for everything from access to leaks, your endorsement cannot be genuinely based on fair analysis.

So why don’t you set an example, Globe, for the 21st century and just forget this puffed-up nonsense?

But judging from the day-to-day quality of the editorials in the Globe, cloudcuckooland stuff for certain, there’ll be no stopping your people from marching around the office with laughable gravity and pretensions galore, preening their feathers and expecting to be made much of by the hopeful candidates (or is it hopeless candidates in this election?).

The Globe’s editorial writers have what must rank as the world’s highest usage of words like “should,” “must,” and “incumbent upon,” exceeded only by America’s large flock of evangelical tent preachers.

Grow up, please.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

“The NDP platform seldom gets a costed look. It’s a pastiche of guesses and conjectures.”

Please, it is exactly the same for all parties, only in the case of Conservatives, we’re not talking about election platform items, we’re talking about actual policy.

We have no idea, and Parliament has no idea, of the cost of current Conservative policies and proposed legislation. None.

The complete lack of costing of government proposals and policies and campaign policies is one of the greatest flaws in our democracy – a hole big enough to drive a fleet of trucks through.

An ignorant vote is no vote at all.
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“Steal the election?”

Enough, please, of such complete ignorance. Reading this kind of line makes one think we live in Orwell’s 1984.

Coalitions are, and always have been, a completely legitimate part of parliamentary government.

Just because Canada has not used the tool to any extent does not make it an inappropriate one.

Dozens of parliamentary democracies have been governed this way, including at this moment Britain and Israel.

The mindless repetition of Harper’s thoughtless slogans about coalition sadly demonstrates the poor knowledge of a large part of our electorate.

An ignorant democracy really is not much of a democracy, but this kind of sad ignorance is at the very foundation of all Harper’s efforts.

Indeed, Mr. Simpson, I think Harper’s use of this slogan is more dangerous than anything else being said by anyone.

If he fails to get his majority, he is setting up people in the West for deep resentment about the East.

It reminds me quite sadly of Hitler’s “stab in the back” line about why Germany lost World War I.

This kind of intellectual and ethical filth works.

But it works only at the peril of civil society and democratic values.
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Our democracy is in genuine trouble.

Mr. Ignatieff is an appointed leader in the 21st century.

Mr. Harper is a control-freak who feels free to bend every rule and tradition of Parliament to keep his place and promote his agenda.

No one seems to care and no one seems to be able to do anything about a man who stands in contempt of Parliament and a man who has abused democratic values in countless situations in committees and in appointments.

Everyone points to the Bloc in Quebec as being against our values when in fact the Bloc’s existence and our tolerance of it represent the finest part of Canadian civil and ethical values.

Indeed, it is a sad thing to have to say, but Mr. Duceppe, in a number of ways, represents democratic values and statesmanship better than the current leaders of our two major parties.

This whole election is meaningless. Harper plays the tiresome and anti-democratic game of seeking out a limited number of “swing” ridings and in those ridings blasts his horn on narrow wedge issues of little interest to anyone else.

Nowhere, absolutely nowhere, does Mr. Harper offer us a set of cohesive policies around which we can unite as Canadians.

And Ignatieff is not much better, a man of surprisingly mediocre political talents considering his noted background.

And Harper spews the anti-democratic venom of “the stab in the back” if he doesn’t get his way.

Harper represents the most poisonous individual ever to hold high office in Canada and he will leave a legacy of hateful ads, secrecy, no tolerance, poorly-considered comments, pandering to certain groups, and a whole lot more.

Texas-style hateful politics.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate leadership vision”

The author clearly does not understand what this election is about.

Harper’s concept of an election is focusing on key “swing” ridings and using specific wedge issues in each in hopes of tipping enough to gain a slim majority.

No ideas, no inspiration, and no democratic values. Just a technical game to gain power.

Apart from that sad effort there is only dumb fear-mongering about things like separatism and coalitions offered the nation at large.

Ignatieff, in going after him, is like a cop in a squad car with flat tires.

The man does nothing but make sounds about new programs.

He is not even honest about dumb matters like the F-35 purchase. He doesn’t say we won’t buy it – which we certainly should not – but only that the process needs review, leaving people to believe maybe he will not buy the world’s costliest clunker.

He is totally ineffective in going after Harper’s own clear dishonesty and misrepresentation. Many of us know there are all kinds of quotes and films from Harper’s career which should be used against him. That is not attacking, that is reminding people of the truth.

But Ignatieff, the unelected leader of a once great party, is a lame excuse for an effective politician.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN

FURTHER POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY NAZEEN SHEIKH IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

“Freedom of speech does not include freedom to oppress others.”

That is so obvious a truth it need not be stated. It is the ethical equivalent of announcing that the earth revolves around the sun.

Its author here only uses it as a lead-in, a way to gain the first favorable nod of the reader’s head, to the bits of prejudice he wants to plant.

That is the well-established method of propagandists and prejudiced people everywhere.

Our laws, as are those of France, are sufficient to deal with all instances where true oppression might be involved. A woman claiming oppression would be supported by all agencies of the state.

Like so many other religious groups, conservative Muslims in Third World countries sustain ancient practices which we view as foolish.

Almost any aspect of the practices of African Animists is repulsive by our lights. Not just silly stuff like witch doctors, but common practices like female genital mutilation – an African, not a Muslim, practice – or the common practice of older men in villages raping young girls. How about the hunting down and killing and magical use of dismembered body parts of people unfortunate enough to be born albinos?

In backwater India, a poor family will sell a good-looking daughter, at 12 years old, to a rich old man who pays them a “dowry.” When the old man dies in not many years, the poor girl will likely inherit nothing, and she will be consigned to terrible abusive practices towards widows. She must never marry again, she must wear only certain clothes, she must eat only certain foods, and she must not socialize in any normal way. She is consigned to living death at perhaps 18 or 20.

Or how about the young girls sold to certain temples to “serve” there? They become institutionalized prostitutes at very young ages, and they are subject to the ravages of venereal diseases from all the old men who use them.

I could go on and on.

The practices of Ultra-orthodox Jews are as ugly as anything at the extremes of Islam – yet note that we tolerate them in our society. We actually allow Ultra-orthodox rabbis to give a woman’s children to her husband upon divorce, and she has no recourse unless she wants to leave her faith entirely. Such people in fact live under a Jewish form of Sharia Law right here in our society, something we would not tolerate for Muslims. And they wear clothes as impossible and ridiculous as any fundamentalist Muslim in the Third World.

And just so our conservative Mennonites – many of their practices are not quaint and charming, they are brutal and outdated, yet we tolerate them.

Going on and on about the small number – and it is a very small number – of traditional Muslim women who wear the niqab is absurd. They hurt no one. They are free at any future date to give it up.

But telling them through force of law that they cannot wear the niqab is simply the tactics of a police state.

Sarkozy has a shameful record concerning minorities, including his nasty deportation of gypsies, something reminding one of the early days of the Third Reich when Hitler focused on deportation and abuse, murder coming later.

No one who loves a free society will embrace Sarkozy.
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@David_C3:

You assume this is “enforced.”

You have no factual basis for saying so, but I suspect prejudice.

Lots of religious or culturally conservative people do things I think are silly or even offensive, but if they mind their own business, they have every right to carry on.

Should Ultra-orthodox Jews be required to shave and remove their big hats? In effect, the men’s faces are virtually hidden.

Should Ultra-orthodox Jewish women have equal rights in marriage and with their children, something they do not have unless they leave their religion?

The world is full of foolishness, and worse.

A few women wearing the niqab is hardly an issue worth writing about. But forbidding their right is very much worth writing about.
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There is a lot of confusion about the various female Muslim garments.

In general, for readers:

The niqab is a sheer veil worn over the lower face. It was not that long ago regarded in the West as attractive and mysterious, but not now in the insanity of the war-on-terror world, we read nonsense accusations. The niqab is not typical in the Muslim world and few migrants wear it.

The hijab is a headscarf, not much different to a babushka. Anyone criticizing this is being ridiculous, considering how many others cover their heads, including Mennonite women, many Jewish men, and senior Catholic Priests. It wasn’t many decades ago that Western women routinely wore hats and very often veils.

The burqa is a head-to-toe sack with a meshed face slot. The burqa is almost exclusively used in truly backwater places like rural Afghanistan. Only a tiny percent of Muslim women use this.

The chador is a robe worn over the head which goes to the feet. It may be worn with or without the niqab. The chador is associated with Iran.

If you look at films from Egypt or Syria or other places, you will see an immense variety of women’s dress, from purely Western to chadors.
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The naiveté of people writing about why some Muslim women use these various modes of dress would be funny were the consequences not so deadly serious.

I recall nuns decades back, dressed in their immense, flowing head-to-foot habits, many of them with huge uncomfortable starchy head gear, who were such strong individuals they might take your breath away.

I am sure, there are Muslim women, wearing the chador and or the niqab who are exactly the same way.

How very foolish it is to assume they are all just beaten beasts, but that kind of cheap assumption comes with the blindness of prejudice.

We are in the midst of a great conflagration of anti-Muslim prejudice. It is a fire constantly stoked by those with an interest in demeaning and demonizing Muslims.

Again,

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JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE FROM A COLUMN BY NAZEEN SHEIKH IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This is simply blather from Nazneen Sheikh, rather dangerous blather, demonstrating not understanding but attitude.

It is well known that neither the niqab nor the burqa are requirements for the world’s billion or so Muslims.

But they are nevertheless deeply traditional parts of some primitive cultures, and indeed primitive cultures everywhere have backward and superstitious customs. That is precisely what it means to be backward.

Societies leave their backward customs behind when they enjoy healthy economic growth. They don’t bind women’s feet anymore in China or Japan.

What still goes on in the backward corners of India, South America, Thailand, Africa, and other places is appalling. Countless savageries are committed daily against women from accepted rape and selling children into prostitution to bride-burning and “honor killing.”

Considering the vast scope of horrors against women in this world, I think it slightly ridiculous to be riveted on the situation of several hundred immigrant women in France who wear the niqab, and that is the order of magnitude we are concerned with here because the overwhelming majority of Muslim women in France have never worn the niqab.

As anyone who studies the ways of people without a political agenda knows perfectly well, you cannot change backward customs quickly.

Indeed, if you try, you do so with tyrant behavior as bad or worse than the custom itself, and often run the risk of bad reactions from those charged with special and unfair laws.

It sometimes takes a couple of generations in a new land for strongly-entrenched customs to fade, as we can easily observe in other groups who live in Canada.

Indeed, some seem never to change, and one may ask justly, why should they if that is their choice? They live quiet lives, just as the Muslims with their niqabs.

Hasidic Jewish men still wear full face beards and large dark hats.

Traditional Mennonite women wear ugly long formless dresses with ugly caps on their heads and they drive in silly box carriages pulled by horses.

Both those groups are stuck somewhere in the 19th century. They both also do not truly integrate into the greater society, keeping in their own close-knit communities.

And so long as they do no one any harm and obey our laws, who cares?

Telling people what they must or must not wear is in the same spirit of human rights as telling people what they should say.

Sarkozy is only responding to the increased popularity of the National Front, effectively setting himself a race with the society’s least decent political party.

Hardly admirable, but we should know from many of Sarkozy’s other deeds and words that he is an unpleasant man altogether, from his treatment of gypsies to his calling people scum.

Yet, the thoughtless writer of this piece sets him up as someone to be emulated.

I suspect Ms Sheikh to be one of those people who are ashamed of their more backward cousins, but that is no excuse to advocate corrupting the laws of civil society.

I suspect, too, this is one of her ways of responding to the irrational pressure created by the “war on terror” with its daily freely-communicated ignorant prejudices against Muslims in our society. It is a way of responding – jumping on the simpler and more backward members of her community – that is aimed at gaining approval from the ugly noisy mob, when it is the mob that is the problem.

How quickly our perceptions vary under such conditions. Not that long ago, the niqab was viewed as alluring and mysteriously beautiful, highlighting the eyes as it does. We saw that in countless movies and television shows and read it in many books. Suddenly, it is evil and must be expunged.

Ridiculous, unthinking, and unenlightened.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

I am sure, as Ms Guergis charges, the ruthless Stephen Harper has treated her badly.

After all, that is what Harper does to people. Witness his behavior towards Belinda Stronach or our former nuclear regulator.

Brutal treatment of those with whom he disagrees is one of his defining characteristics. His entire approach towards his political opponents in the past has had the tone of brutal frat boy who enjoys practical jokes which hurt people.

And yet it is truly difficult to find any sympathy for Ms Guergis. Her past behaviors, as the example of the airport meltdown, have been truly appalling.

Her behaviors suggest either drug use or mental instability, yet here she is still pushing herself into the limelight, as though she were qualified for high office, which she most certainly is not.

Her husband is nothing less than a disgrace: he beat just charges of drunk driving and possessing significant amounts of hard drugs on a technicality. He belongs in prison.

And just hearing her voice on the radio is annoying as they play snippets of her statements.

The woman sounds like a Midwestern small-town homecoming queen speaking in her eeny-teeny voice. Her voice as well as her words are just plain insipid.

So while Harper may have treated her badly, she was always someone just setting themselves up for bad treatment – that is the nature of both mental illness and drug addiction.

Go away with some quiet grace, Ms Guergis, but I waste my breath.


 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY ANDREW COHEN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The Kennedys were simply America’s Borgias.

The Borgias had grace and beauty and wealth, but they also were ruthless and murderous and had ambition beyond bounds.

The full story of the Kennedy’s greed and manipulation has not been – and likely never will be – told. Despite many revelations coming to light, the family has succeeded time and again in suppressing much evidence.

This film may or may not be what the author of this article claims, but it does seem strange to me a man who wants to be taken seriously would spend time criticizing a television show.

We know, absolutely, that such a show will be vapid, whether it dwells on the sleaze or not.

Here are some reflections on Kennedy, the president, people may enjoy:

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/the-dark-aspects-of-kennedys-road-to-the-white-house-were-far-darker-than-described-by-british-journalist-andrew-marr/
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Joe Kennedy wasn’t just a crook as a reader has commented.

He was a ruthless and highly immoral man whose behavior included acts like bringing home young women he picked up or paid for sex right in front of his family gathered in the living room.

He was also brutally anti-British in his views, and correspondingly somewhat of a Hitler admirer.

He was so stupidly outspoken in these unpleasant views that the British government asked the United States to withdraw him as ambassador to Britain, not a common occurrence in diplomacy, a request with which Roosevelt complied.

Joe made his fortune in illegal alcohol, working with some very unpleasant and murderous gangsters, a connection which was exploited later in getting funds and support for his son’s drive to be president.

Jack himself, while a far classier guy on the surface with his tailored suits and quotes and manners, shared a number of his father’s characteristics, albeit in varied forms.

John’s womanizing we all know about, although not everyone is aware that at least one of the women – Judith Exner, a woman who paid him calls right in the White House – was tied to high levels of the Mob.

And not everyone knows that one of his early relationships, while in the military, was with a woman German spy. J Edgar Hoover was on to it, and had it not been for the Kennedy wealth and influence, his career would have died right there.

The abuse of privilege, in avoiding responsibility for your actions, was just as big a part of the Kennedys as it was that dishonest mediocrity and ignorant frat boy, George W Bush.

Much was made of John’s PT-109 exploits at the time of his running, and he did help save a man’s life, but the entire incident – the loss of his craft and the misery of his crew – was owing to his incompetence and lack of appropriate caution as a commander.

The same behavior from anyone else, without the connections, might well have resulted in a court martial.

Kennedy’s good taste included taking on people like Theodore Sorensen as writer/advisor – his family wealth allowed them to hire what essentially became a platoon of smart flaks, people who helped very much in smoothing over the bumps in the road of family history and who gave an aura of intelligence and worth.

But it is certain that more dishonesty came into play here too. Sorensen almost certainly wrote Kennedy’s Pulitzer prize-winning book, although he was such a loyal follower he denied it always. Sorensen also, to a certainty, was author of speech phrases like “Ask not what….” If you read Sorensen’s book about Kennedy, the cadence and style of the writing are so recognizable.

John also played a very two-faced game in the White House with regard to Cuba. After the Missile Crisis blew up in his face – and the CIA, as well as attempting to assassinate Castro many times, had been very much in the business of planning another invasion of Cuba as Khrushchev feared when he considered sending missiles to Cuba – the agreement that ended the crisis was Kennedy’s agreeing to not invade Cuba as well as withdrawing certain missiles from Turkey.

Word of the agreement made the anti-Castro thugs the CIA had sponsored for years – Osama’s boys in the mountains made a peanut-sized operation compared to the multi-million dollar terror operation the CIA ran in the early 1960s (just one of countless examples of U.S. hypocrisy around the use of terror) – bitterly, fiercely angry, making them one of the prime suspects in Kennedy’s assassination.

Kennedy had his brother, as Attorney General and stand-in voice of the President, make a big show of raiding camps in the South where these thugs carried on with their CIA-provided weapons and training. Robert also secretly was in charge of more attempts to murder Castro.

The Kennedy brothers were always getting involved in heated battles. For reasons that still are not clear, Robert conducted a vendetta against a number of big mobsters, despite the fact that the Mob had financed his brother’s presidential campaign and kept such connections as Judith Exner. That behavior made the Mob another chief suspect for Kennedy’s assassination.

Both of the Kennedys actually, for whatever well-organized group killed Jack knew they also had to kill Robert if he was going to become President. Robert’s ruthless use of power meant that the full powers of the office of the president would go after his brother’s assassins, as the pathetic Warren Commission never made any attempt to do.

Sleaze in fancy suits, ruthless people with a veneer of class – that’s the Kennedys.


 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

SERIES OF POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Banning the niqab is one of the most foolish things France has done in my memory, exceeded perhaps only by the arrest of two women wearing it today.

You do not tell immigrants what to wear.

And you most certainly do not tell citizens in general what to wear. Not in a free society.

Telling people what to wear reflects the same values as telling them what to say. All censorship is abhorrent to a free society.

It is very easy to make fun of such customs, as a commenter called Mich Johnson has done here, but that is the purest proof of an adolescent thinking, not the basis for government policy.

All migrants eventually give up old customs. A decent society lets them do it as they choose.
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“Even non-radical muslims view the world as a map to be coloured in varying shades of green, depending on the degree of islamic implantation.”

Why not try thinking before commenting?

For hundreds of years, Christians of all types have sent out missionaries to convert the world.

And that included the ghastly Catholic ones who presented South American indigenous people with the choice of conversion or being burnt alive, indigenous people murdered by the thousands.

American society itself has fought a battle with intolerant puritanical Christians for two centuries, the Constitution being religion-blind but some Christians insisting stupidly that America was a “Christian country,” too ignorant to know that most of the Founding Fathers were either Deists or Agnostics wanting freedom from religion.

Today people like the Mormons are sending armies of missionaries all over the world – even though it could argued by outsiders that Mormonism is a religion with ridiculous beliefs and superstitions.

Missionaries of all kinds go abroad by the thousands, essentially bearing the message that the native people’s religion is inadequate, so they must have Christianity instead.

Your comment is just prejudice against Muslims dressed up as thought.
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“Now, let’s see these women fight for the freedom of other religions in the Muslim world.If they did that I might believe their commitment to religious expression.”

Have you even considered how many of our religious women fight for the freedom of other religions?

Catholic nuns? Hasidic Jews? Mennonites? Mormons?

You’re proposing a standard that’s phony, comforting yourself that you defend freedom.

Hardly a notion communicating your dedication to principle.
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“Everywhere in the world where Islam is in the majority, it has brought backwardness, bigotry, oppression, destruction and tremendous suffering.”

Oh, so you have studied the practices of more than a billion people?

Your comment is nothing more than a few news snippets strung together to try characterizing something you don’t like.

I believe that’s called prejudice.

People seem to have no idea of the blood-soaked history of Christianity when they make these kinds of assertions.

They also always conveniently ignore the savageries of Israel in our own time.

Readers may enjoy:

http://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/of-war-islam-and-israel/
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“The election’s in a year and Sarkozy’s only hope is to unite France behind him against the foreign element. How many “gypsies” did he deport en masse a few months back?’

Yes indeed. Thanks for an informed comment.

And don’t forget the National Front has shown new strength in France.

Here is Sarkozy using the National Front’s own nasty methods against them politically.

A race to the sewer.
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“Why is no one dealing with the growing use of beards and mustaches these days?

“They deface the person, and are not very hygenic.
And while we’re at it, why should people wear sunglasses, what are they trying to hide?”

Thanks for another thoughtful comment.

Yes, indeed, why not ban the huge beards and big dark hats of Hasidic Jews?

As for someone’s ridiculous comment about some terrorist dressing up in a niqab to commit a crime, I have to say his words are stunningly unthinking.

How many bank robberies, home invasions, and break-and-enters employing ski masks or rubber Halloween face masks do you think the world saw in the year alone?

Hundreds? Thousands?

Surely, by such feeble logic, all advanced states should ban ski masks and Halloween’s rubber face masks.

The comments on this subject sadly just get dumber and more unthinking as we go.

There’s a huge amount of prejudice out there, and here is prima facie evidence of it offered up voluntarily by all the haters.
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“Women wera [sic] it, because of peer pressure from relatives. Not because they chose so, period.”

Oh, you’ve conducted a study have you?

Please share your expert knowledge with the world by publishing in a journal.

Your comment is sad and dumb. Period.
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“Jesus didn’t teach any sort of “jihad”. Those who keep insisting on comparing the two need to stop. You cannot compare islam to Christianity because it is only islam that specifically condones violence as a means to an end.”

Well, here’s another fine example of the old saying about a little knowledge being a dangerous thing.

Christianity has killed more people than any other religion on earth.

Again see my published piece:

http://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/of-war-islam-and-israel/

Christians have never, never followed what Jesus said.

The famous scene in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov called “The Grand Inquisitor” has Jesus returned to earth talking to the Inquisitor.

Jesus can make no sense of what he sees Christianity has become, and the Grand Inquisitor has no use for Jesus’ words and ends by sending him off to the Inquisition.

That fact too is an essential part of the religion’s history.


JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY PAUL KORING IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This guy is shilling for Harper.

We can “maintain our air defense” with much less costly weapons.

Besides, there are no serious challenges to our air defense. None.

We need planes to escort errant air liners and the like. That doesn’t require the ultimate sophistication.

Having a large storehouse of highly sophisticated weapons is an open invitation to getting involved with nonsense like Libya or war crimes like Iraq.

Many of the best historians agree that the useless horror of WWI started in large part because all of Europe was a heavily armed camp.

Politicians and military people will always use power if it is there.

Just so right now in Libya, a lunatic business we do not even discuss.

And just so America’s pointless crusade in Afghanistan where we have spent a considerable number of lives and great treasure.

A sheer waste.
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“However, if you throw your back out trying to shovel deep snow when it does fall, you can be very uncomfortable for a long time. That event can make the snowblower look cheap and handy.

Note to Putin or any other aggressive interloper – we understand the need for snowblowers. Don’t even think about messing with us or our pals.”

A totally false analogy.

A snow-blower is a useful and time-saving tool, used many times a year.

And snow-blowers never start wars, the most wasteful and savage enterprise on earth.

A high-tech supersonic fighter is useless unless something extraordinary happens.

It just sits on the tarmac most of the time, gets its exquisitely fine-tuning put out of tune by jet jockeys taking it out for a playful spin, and absorbs vast amounts of cash on maintenance.

Even mentioning Putin marks the writer as something of a right-wing crank.

Its the cheap Harper ploy on Arctic sovereignty, ignoring the genuine threat against which these planes are useless.

We have infinitely less to fear from Putin’s Russia truly than we do from the United States, a country which now regularly attacks and bombs countries it doesn’t agree with.

Arctic sovereignty and Great Lakes water are two great targets for American interests.

Were the United States inclined to flex its muscle on us, this small number of jets would be shot down in a day.

The contract represents little more than a subsidy to the Pentagon trying to develop this costly machine.
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Further on the silly snow-blower analogy.

If you live in Georgia, a snow-blower is an utterly useless thing with no conceivable use ever, a vast waste of money and time.

In terms of geo-politics, we actually do live in Georgia.

The world’s Frankenstein military resides next door, watching with unblinking eyes.

No one else, but I mean no one, is going to come calling.

So we do not need this plane for any possible circumstance.

The Pentagon wants us to buy it – as it wants other NATO countries to buy it – to help subsidize its astronomical cost.

Just as when the US fights its various wars, it is always cajoling and pressuring its allies to join them – effectively a subsidy of activities they chose alone to engage in.

What a damn poor way to blow tens of billions of dollars.

Remember, Harper is the most pathetically servile prime minister towards the United States in our history.

He supports and goes along with whatever they choose to do but he is always disingenuous about just what he is doing, and just so this silly plane.

His stuff about Arctic sovereignty is a cheap political game because he entirely ignores the genuine threat to it, instead serving its interests without hesitation, and even completely adopting the political methods and language of the Republican Party.


 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

EXPANDED VERSION OF POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MICHAEL WEISS IN THE TELEGRAPH

What a nonsense column.

First, Judge Goldstone has not retracted what he wrote, rather he has made some very qualified statements about aspects of it a long time afterward.

Even in Goldstone’s original report he went out of his way to portray the event as less of a one-sided slaughter than it in fact was, knowing full well he would be subjected to god-awful treatment afterward.

But even his qualified words come after Judge Goldstone’s life having been made a living hell by Israeli apologists with accusations, sneers, shunning, and violent threats.

Israel and its apologists are known for the intense and ugly pressure they can bring to bear on anyone who fails to follow the official script.

After all, that’s how Israel got itself recognized by the United States in the first place.

President Truman was not inclined to recognize the terrorists who declared themselves a state in 1948.

But he was given the full treatment – he was hounded by apologists and lobbyists in a way he never before experienced.

Moreover, he was running for re-election and the situation looked grim, so the last thing he needed was a howling mob chasing him around the country.

And by finally relenting and granting recognition, he got the kind of campaign contributions he badly needed.

Nothing has changed since 1948.

The truth is we do not really need a report although it is always a good thing to have documentation of terrible events.

Everyone except the howling Israeli apologists knows what happened. We saw it. We heard it. We felt the people’s misery.

And it should make no difference to Israel since Israel has never had any respect for the UN. It stands in contempt of a whole list of resolutions, and, in another of its recent atrocities, the invasion of Southern Lebanon, it deliberately targeted and killed four UN workers bravely doing their job of observation.

When Israel invaded Gaza, it shut down a giant, fenced-in refugee camp, and attacked the occupants as though they were going to war with an army. It attacked civilians with tanks and planes and modern weapons, even employing horrors like white phosphorus.

Israel killed 300 to 400 children alone (plus a thousand others), and we have testimony that Israeli soldiers used children as human shields.

The streets ran red with blood, and the pictures were on the Internet.

And for what? Israel and its apologists insisted on calling it a war, insisted it was justified because some Palestinians, frustrated beyond endurance by Israel’s ill treatment, had been shooting into Israel home-made fireworks called Qassam rockets. Thinking people knew, despite a wall of words over these toy rockets, that that was not what Israel’s atrocity was about.

Well, only the other day Ehud Olmert, prime minister at the time and surely a war criminal now, said the army didn’t do its job in Operation Cast Lead. The job was killing all the members and leaders of a cleanly elected government which Israel hates.

Some respect for democracy and human rights.

And as for the mad pack, well, nothing on earth you could say or do would ever convince them that Israel is the nasty piece of work that it truly is, a brutal garrison state with no respect for any of its neighbors or anyone else who doesn’t agree with its views and demands.

According to the pack, we are all supposed to pretend the plainly naked emperor actually is wearing clothes. We are all supposed to drop our precious and hard-won values regarding human rights and just say Israel must be right whenever it starts slaughtering people.

Cloudcuckooland, only stinking of human gore.