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Monthly Archives: June 2011

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Cowardly Israel doesn’t state the genuine (underlying) threat to foreign journalists.

The real threat is: foreign journalists on the Gaza flotilla risk being shot point-blank in the head.

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“The ignorance showed on this message board is unbelievable.”

No, it is your ignorance that is unbelievable.

Israel actually calculated the calories originally needed to barely sustain people.

All of Israel’s seemingly insane proscriptions – such as chocolate – were based on this calculation.

The world will one day realize what a shameful thing it has done in allowing itself to be brow-beaten into ignoring this savagery.

Israel wants those people gone, it doesn’t much care where, it doesn’t matter whether they have to leave everything behind, Israel just wants them gone.

Failing to get rid of them, it wants them starved into submitting to a kind of government whose only real responsibility would be to do Israel’s dirty work.

Hamas is only an flimsy excuse.

But Israel’s wretched treatment of Hamas – including assassination, kidnapping, and torture – surely tells us what Israel really thinks about Arab democracy.

Hamas was cleanly elected, and immediately Israel attacked them savagely.

We saw too with the fall of Mubarak in Egypt what Israel thinks of democracy for others. Leading figure after leading figure made shameful public statements supporting the notion that eighty million Egyptians should remain under dictatorship for Israel’s convenience.

Israel’s idea of democracy is that the roughly six million Jews in Israel get to vote and that the tens of millions around them must arrange all their affairs to agree with what the privileged Israelis expect. I believe that’s called imperialism, or at best international aristocracy.

Shameful, shameful, shameful.

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“It’s time the Israeli government get serious about negotiations. Instead, all we’re getting is bluster.”

While I agree with your sentiments, that last sentence is so inaccurate as to distort facts.

All we are getting is not bluster, it is serious criminal and unethical behavior on Israel’s part.

Piracy, assassination, kidnapping, and theft surely qualify as more than bluster.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY LYSIANE GAGNON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Canadian Senate reform is indeed for the most part a dumb idea.

Consider the inescapable facts.

If you create a fully elected Senate, which is fairly representative, all you are doing is creating a second parliament.

Already, many of our people can’t be bothered to vote for the first parliament. This would double election expenses, at least, and would achieve nothing worth doing.

If you create a fully elected Senate – which by design is not representative – you are copying the proven disaster of the American system in which one senator from Alaska represents about 300,000 people and one senator from California represents about 17,000,000.

Many anti-democratic implications flow from that set-up. For example, the undemocratically-constituted American Senate effectively controls the direction of major policies for the country with its veto of any legislation and its required approval of all treaties and presidential appointments.

That’s hardly democracy. And hardly reform.

I do think that when an otherwise intelligent man like Harper advocates reform he has an agenda beyond better democracy, and it is surely this last, anti-democratic intention that motivates him.

The empty slogan goes something like all parts of the country, even small ones, need representation, but underneath is the reality that some regions are to be more equal than other regions.

There’s no escaping that outcome.

Another reform, the one which I would support over either of the above, is abolition of the Senate. After all, the Senate is conceived along the lines of the British House of Lords at a time when being a Lord really meant something.

Perhaps the best course is just to keep the Senate as constituted. Our Senate Committees have done some wonderful work at times in scrutinizing policies and institutions, and it really does not hurt to have an appointment which can be given to distinguished individuals.

After all, a Lord in Britain doesn’t mean too much anymore, other than you’ve had notable economic or celebrity success, yet the House of Lords is not being abolished.

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“If the Senate is too full of political hacks and party bagmen, then perhaps the solution is to stop appointing political hacks and party bagmen.

“As usual, Harper has been both a vocal critic and one of the worst offenders.”

Perfect.

Politicians like Harper deliberately evade their genuine responsibility, which is , making good appointments.

They then turn around and say we must change things to avoid the abuse we, the politicians, are inflicting on the institution.

And we must change them in an undemocratic direction.

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“If Canadians think that the Senate has a function to perform on behalf of Canadians, then let Canadians decide rather than our politicians”

Yes, but you forget how easily referendums are manipulated.

Just as with political polls, you can get the answer you want by the wording of the question you ask.

Referendums often represent the failure of our elected politicians to do the job for which they were elected.

We have a House of Commons for a reason, and that reason is to represent us in such decisions.

When they don’t do their job, it is the same thing as making poor appointments.

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Blair has always been a weak leader.

Now he whines about this or that technical detail instead of just accepting responsibility for what was sheer incompetence.

With a recent freedom-of-access release of information, we know police had infiltrated all the organizations well ahead of time. Whatever they learned in their quasi-police state tactics, the police still managed to make a complete mess of things.

Incompetence, all around, while officers collected unbelievably fat pay packets for overtime.

As for Blair’s specific weakness, recall, a few years back, police officers going in full uniform to City Hall to demonstrate for more money, an unacceptably threatening action in a free society.

Blair told them not to wear their uniforms, but they still did, ignoring a direct order completely.

What did Blair do to the large number of police who took this action against direct orders?

Pretty well nothing.

Actually, I would call that weakness bordering on genuine cowardice.

And you could view the matter as one of the precursors of the police disgrace at the G20. Their behavior reminded me not a little of out-of-control Chicago police at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

We have had example after example of such inept leadership.

But it isn’t just Blair who showed weakness here.

Where was the voice of the Mayor of Toronto in all this?

A supposedly liberal-minded mayor?

Not a squeak about so gross a violation of human rights to our citizens.

Miller of course should have stood up for the city against Harper’s ignorant insistence on holding the G20 right in the downtown, a decision which cost a fortune in money and cast filth on the city’s reputation in the end.

Yet Harper seems to have been coated with Teflon in that blundering, costly decision. He paid no political price.

The whole affair, from beginning to end, is a textbook example of how not to do things.

And our police need serious reminding that they exist to serve the public good, not run things like the Stasi.

We overpay them, give them too many privileges, and expect too little from them.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Ridiculous.

How can any Arabic-speaking person have named his organization “the toilet,” which is what Al Qaeda translates?

This name was created by U. S. intelligence some years ago as a collective term for the various “bad guys” roaming around out there. There is no such organization.

We have the testimony of several very prominent people on that fact, including Britain’s Jack Straw.

Remember the supposed picture of Osama watching television released soon after his murder, a picture which still makes the rounds? That picture was positively identified as a neighboring man, as it should have been since it showed “Osama” using the wrong hand.

These “leaks” are, after all coming from the very people who assassinated bin Laden in cold blood with his family in the house, never mind taking him to The Hague for a fair trial.

The same people who never provided the public or other authorities with one shred of authentic evidence for bin Laden’s guilt of anything but disliking the United States.

The same people who invaded Afghanistan and still occupy it on flimsy excuses.

The same people who invaded Iraq, falsely making assertions about Hussein’s complicity, destroying a prosperous country and starting a terror that would see a million die.

They are the same people sending scores of drones into Pakistan killing hundreds of innocent people with their missiles.

They are the same people who have totally distorted a UN Resolution for a no-fly zone in Libya into an all-out effort to kill Qaddafi and his chief assistants.

This rubbish is just stuff to reinforce public acceptance of the moral filth of war without end, assassinations, and death squads.

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

The Munk Debates are just a financing scheme for the folks running them, a kind of cheap intellectual-circus, employing has-been big names who seek some quick, ready cash. Worse, they are events which appear to be without ethics.

Previously we had Tony Blair, war criminal, debating about religion, a farcical concept on the face of it.

But it was even sillier than it sounds, because Tony “debated” professional advocate for atheism, Christopher Hitchens. Now, Hitchens is a brilliant man, but brilliance has nothing to do with such questions: people gave up the notion that you could employ logic in religious matters with the close of the Middle Ages.

Now we have a debate on China, the world’s most remarkable economic and social phenomenon of the last three decades, and while we have a few appropriate experts on the subject, who is the headliner scheduled to bring in the celebrity-groupies crashing down the doors with handfuls of cash?

Henry Kissinger, a man who is not an economist, not a genuine expert on China, not someone with expertise in the history of economic development.

But he is an even greater war criminal than Tony Blair.

His ghastly policies in Vietnam killed countless numbers of people with carpet bombing, napalm, and cluster bombs – the total deaths of Vietnamese killed by these actions has been estimated at 3 million, and all of it served no useful purpose beyond a terrible demonstration of American power.

His treachery in the Middle East is legendary: he caused many deaths as he manipulated groups like the Iraqi Kurds into vulnerable positions for his own policy advantage and then left them to horrible reprisals.

The Munk Debates are sound and fury signifying nothing, about as important as a noisy hockey game.

Linda McQuaig, in The Trouble with Billionaires, discovered that in the fine print of the contract for Peter Munk’s donation to the University of Toronto there are safeguards to ensure that the school would “fit with the political views and sensitivities of Peter Munk,” including payout of his pledged amount only over a period of years. Does that explain the nature of these events?

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Aesthetics are not unimportant, especially when you propose dotting the landscape with homely objects.

But I disagree with you, almost completely that only aesthetics count here.

The problem is not just aesthetic.

Windmills have serious economic problems.

They do not provide base-load (always available) electricity.

Indeed, they can sit still, generating nothing, for days at a time.

We have seen recently in other jurisdictions that very high winds can destroy windmills and that extreme winter can disable them.

At best windmills can supplement the energy mix, and a rather small supplement at that.

Already in Germany and in Britain, they have had real disappointments with the energy-generating capabilities of windmills.

Windmills also are a hazard to migrating birds, especially when huge farms are built.

And they do generate a kind of “white noise” that drives some people living near them almost crazy. This potential health problem has not been adequately examined.

McGuinty has stupidly over-invested in these inefficient monstrosities because of all the people who think anything involving wind or water is automatically “green.”

It is the same crowd who thinks the narrow and crowded streets of Toronto should all have bicycle paths, something that will only be possible when we limit the traffic going into the city, either through tolls or fees.

Gas plants are economically hazardous in any quantity because our gas supplies are dwindling, and prices will sharply rise.

No one likes nuclear right now, of course.

Clean coal generation is one of our best bets for the near-term, but I know there’s no convincing the “bicycle path” crowd.

Few in the general public also seem to understand how foolish McGuinty’s closing of Ontario’s coal-fired plants is. Ours are among the cleaner plants, and they could be made even cleaner with not a huge investment.

Meanwhile the relatively dirty coal plants in the American Midwest – scores of them – not only continue to send their pollution to Toronto, but as McGuinty closes our plants, when he needs additional electricity – as for peak air-conditioning – he will be buying, at premium prices, from those same American stations, and he will be causing them to generate even greater pollution.

You really want to be green? Stop sending fleets of garbage trucks daily down 401 Highway taking Toronto’s NIMBY trash to Michigan. And put a limit on the cars choking the city. And put a stop to hideous inefficient urban sprawl.

But politicians like McGuinty will do none of things.

No, he will continue playing a game of peanut-and-shells with our energy supply and patting himself on the back before the “bicycle path” crowd.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TELEGRAPH

This is the same stuff we find on the paranoid corner of the Internet.

Ritalin only hides the causes?

You might just as well say that about many, many medications in use.

Mental illnesses and conditions like genuine attention-deficit syndrome are almost all certainly caused by an unfortunate mix of genes or some defective genes.

We have no cures for any of them.

Therapy is a false hope, as it always has been. Therapists understand very little. Only forty or fifty years ago, psycho-therapists were telling people that schizophrenia was caused by an overbearing mother. For all I know, some are still offering such intellectual trash.

But we do have medications which help some, not everyone, but some.

Until we are actually able to understand the causes of these conditions and correct them, medication is all we have.

I have seen the results of successful medication, and I resent people like Mr. Brown who demonize it.

I have seen a child with serious attention-deficit go from being a hopeless student to being able to cope.

And I have seen a person subject to panic-attacks settle to a comparatively normal life with medication.

I would rather no one had to take drugs, and I include medication for gout and high blood pressure and diabetes and cancer, but until we achieve a better understanding of the causes of these conditions medications are lifesavers.

We do have doctors who over-prescribe and who inappropriately prescribe, but then we only have super-bug bacteria in our hospitals today because so many doctors have given people antibiotics for a cold.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

 We really have no business backing one side in a civil war. Even worse, we actually have no idea what these people represent beyond being against Gaddafi.

Moreover, our backing is now for an attempt to topple the government directly, rather than helping with a no-fly zone.

We are in violation of the UN mandate.

But then, we know that with a Harper government, we will back America in every last detail of foreign affairs, no matter what considerations there are.

Harper wants to make America feel loved.

And the US hates Gaddafi and always has. It’s bombing efforts have nothing to do with democracy or human values.

Why aren’t they also fighting in Bahrain? The US likes that dictator.

Why aren’t they also fighting in Yemen? Actually the US is reported to be making illegal secret flights there, flights to back the government.

Why aren’t they fighting in Syria? The US knows that Syria is a difficult place to govern and it would rather have Assad than something it doesn’t know so near Israel.

 What about Saudi Arabia?

 Hypocrisy, entirely, and Harper’s our man when it comes to hypocrisy.

 Readers may enjoy:

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

“…its members’ penny-pinching and lack of political will…”

Oh we sure know the United States isn’t “penny-pinching” when it comes to war.

It is fighting more wars than you can count, all on borrowed money, surely providing the example of the most mindless spend-thrift of all time.

What a ridiculous statement Gates makes, considering the mess – sorry, that is, messes – into which the United States has put itself.

 As for “political will,” of course, what Gates really means is the will to do what the United States wants done.

 No one else thinks it makes any sense to stay in Afghanistan.

 No one else – except the great idiot Tony Blair – thought it made any sense to invade Iraq.

 Already, the mandate for a no-fly zone in Libya has been distorted beyond recognition into a get-Gaddafi campaign.

 America’s drones in Pakistan are criminal hi-tech mass murder.

 And there are reportedly secret air operations in Yemen.

 Not only does all of this murderous activity reflect no ethics or human values, it all costs unbelievable amounts of money – money the United States simply does not have.

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NATO’s prime function, from America’s point of view, is that it serves as a way to maintain its hegemony in Europe under the pretense of cooperation and alliance.

NATO also is used by America as a convenient fig leaf for some of its ghastly behavior, as in “NATO planes bombed targets…” when we know they were American planes exclusively or overwhelmingly.

Eisenhower wisely warned us of the military-industrial complex more than half a century ago.

But things over that time have gone from bad to worse, worse than anything he could have imagined.

America has become a world-scale bully, a rather nightmarish quasi-police state, armed to the teeth, and, with no money, it is always sour when others neglect picking up the bill for its self-declared necessary tasks.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN THE INDEPENDENT
Gaddafi is not a nice guy, but I don’t believe this nonsense about promoting rape with Viagra for one moment.

It smacks of the known-fraudulent story of Hussein’s troops ripping babies from respirators in Kuwait.

Indeed, there is an absurd aspect to this one.

Viagra gives men an erection, full stop. It does not affect the mental aspects of sexual desire.

The story certainly serves to divert attention from the West’s grotesque abuse of the UN Resolution, skipping from creating a no-fly zone, to killing many civilians and attempting to murder Gaddafi.

Gaddafi is hated by some of the West’s leaders for various reasons, but certainly not because he is a tyrant or works against human rights.

From the point of view of tyranny, he has never behaved worse than a number of the West’s “friends,” and that certainly includes the country which could kill 1335 Palestinian children since 2000, conduct bloody piracy on the high seas, and keep a secret nuclear weapons establishment.

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Rape, in case anyone missed the fact, has always, always been part of war.

From Troy and the fall of the Roman Empire to the Soviets rolling over Germany and the Irgun’s work in Palestine, rape is part of the story.

The notion of boy-scout soldiers, so common in American popular culture, is simply delusional, fostered time and again by the press and the governments who embrace war as a regular policy.

Apart from the rather indiscriminate draft still used in many countries to fill the ranks, men often join the military because they seek ‘action’ and adventure, and a significant proportion always are sociopaths, drawn to the attraction of situations in which their bloody dreams may be acted out.