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Monthly Archives: April 2012

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

It’s always the same with these meaningless imperial wars of America’s.

After chewing up people and resources for years, leaders are fearful of the notion that it was all to no purpose.

You cannot, no matter how much you bomb and kill, reshape an ancient society to your liking.

Only long-term economic growth does that, and war represents the very opposite, destruction.

The Afghanistan invasion was a pointless exercise in vengeance and American arm-pumping.

The UN and NATO only have their names slapped on the pathetic effort because the United States pressured and threatened and cajoled its way into getting them involved.

To this day, no greater physical evidence of the truth is to be found than in the pitifully token commitments of troops by all the American allies, a thousand or two here and there in specially limited roles – not what you would ever see were America’s extreme and hysterical words on the nature of the effort believed by anyone.

Canadians and others died for absolutely nothing here, but no leader would ever have the courage to say so.

But worse, tens of thousands of Afghans were killed by invaders who never understood what they were doing.
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“Steve, when he made that speech in his fishing vest in Kandahar, said ‘We [Canadians] don’t cut and run’. You mean that now, 158 casualties and ten years later, we should cut and run?”

Very revealing when people use loaded terms like “cut and run.”

Who would ever describe it in that fashion were Canadian troops or police killing innocents in our streets and roads, and people’s revulsion caused them to yell “stop!”

But that is exactly what “NATO” – America’s human shields against world opinion – has done for years in Afghanistan.

If people at home with the opportunity to inform themselves don’t understand what has happened in Afghanistan – and many do not – how are a bunch of soldiers dumped into a hot, confusing, almost totally alien place supposed to know anything about what they are doing?

In the end, Canadian soldiers died because in government it was said “we owe one to the Pentagon.”

And a man like Harper, the most dishonest and manipulative prime minister in our history, can only appeal to the most unthinking, from-the gut responses in our people with his “cut and run” to cover up the waste and shame of the whole sordid business.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Quebec is not leaving Confederation.

There is not the tiniest bit of evidence for saying that.

So why do people keep saying it?

Because it’s such an emotionally charged statement it gets people’s attention, quickly.

Ergo, Ignatieff pathetic comments: words from a man who has proven, over and over, he is not all that perceptive, and a man who sure wants attention.

The man spent most of his life writing books – and as any good professional writer will tell you – that is a lonely business. Indeed Graham Greene wrote of the writer having a splinter of ice in his heart.

Further still, writing books is not necessarily the same thing as either having genuine new ideas or of being a perceptive analyst of current affairs.

The Toronto Liberal Party insiders who lured Ignatieff back to Canada with the promise of his leading the Party never understood these facts.

And, clearly, Ignatieff did not understand them either. He does not truly know even himself.

He has proved a remarkably unperceptive and narrow academic with little ability to relate to society.

It is only natural that Margaret Wente would choose to defend his empty observations. That’s the kind of thing she specializes in.

After all, they are pretty well cut from the same cloth, only Wente has no academic standing.

Two streams of humid air blowing against the realities and subtleties of their time.
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“Get off it Cons, Iggy is not really anti-Canadian in any sense. It is only your stupidity (based on Harper’s 15 sec. talking points) that makes it seem so in your own minds only.”

That would be a laughable comment were it not so sad.

You totally confuse the Right Wing with critics of Ignatieff.

Sorry, but there are many, many genuinely liberal-minded people in this world who do not think well of Ignatieff.

Indeed, there is a strong argument for consigning Ignatieff to the softer wing of the neo-conservatives.

His record during his time at Harvard is quite unpleasant, including, of course, writing in support of our generation’s biggest war crime, the invasion of Iraq, which killed about a million people, destroyed a promising society for a generation, and left about 2 million refugees. He also supported “torture-lite.”

Ignatieff has never qualified as a genuine liberal. He is a special interest man, and his aura of being a significant voice in human rights is just that an aura. His record is a poor one if you scrutinize the details.

Ms Wente’s entire background in writing of world affairs reflects the neo-con position, from endless apologies for Israel’s savagery to her almost putrid embrace of the same invasion of Iraq.

Again, here is a near-demented Ms Wente some years ago on all that death and destruction in Iraq:

http://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/the-iraq-wars-trashiest-piece-of-propaganda/
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“He is entitled to his opinion, but its clear he was never a great choice for Liberal leader.”

But he never was a choice, was he, in the sense of the word choice we assume in a democracy?

He was parachuted into the role by a group of Party bosses.

Just as he was parachuted into his West End riding when he first showed up on stage playing his return-of-the-native act.

Now, what kind of a principled politician, or would-be politician in this case – principled in democratic and human values – accepts such gifts from a group of insiders?

To answer the question is to summarize Ignatieff’s credentials as a principled politician.
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“To be honest, in travelling across Canada, I have found far more of a sense of separation and even hostility in Western Canada. I have rarely heard from a Quebecker the kind of vitriol towards other Canadians as some of the comments/attitudes I’ ve encountered In B.C. & Alberta in recent years.”

Well said.

Your observation confirms my own over some years.

I’ve never heard such genuine low-life comments as I’ve heard in Alberta.

Stephen Harper serves as a kind of bellows blowing on hot coals in this matter.

Wente’s ignorance here is little short of phenomenal, exceeded only by the man of proven poor judgment she’s defending.

Again, here’s what a woman of genuine perceptive intelligence – one of Canada’s best political columnists – has to say:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1167952–michael-ignatieff-s-bbc-comments-on-shaky-ground?bn=1
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The following two postings are mine from the original column by Michael Ignatieff:

Please, go away, boring man.

You were a complete flop as a political leader.

And in your previous efforts to get some attention in the Globe, you’ve demonstrated less-than-Sterling abilities as an idea man.

Indeed, it was your poor judgment and blind ambition which are responsible for the Harper’s licence to act against much of what Canada has represented in my adult lifetime.

Now, you play the old “look out for Quebec” card.

Tiresome and inaccurate.
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“This is what this guy does best. Babble. Of course in their little world he is known as a deep thinker.”

His reputation as a thinker is immensely overblown, as all thoughtful people came to understand from most of what has come out of his mouth since accepting as an inheritance, as it were, the promise of leadership of the Liberal Party.

I cannot believe how trivial and unperceptive he has proven himself.

But, then, he did support criminal invasion and torture when still doing his blubbering in the United States, didn’t he?

Globe, you do readers no service giving this guy free space for advertising himself.

Indeed, there is almost a touch of black comedy here with a man proven to be so out of touch, and not just concerning Canada, still coming back repeatedly to offer views and advice.

The term “idiot-savant” comes to mind here, but I’m not so sure about the “savant’ half of the phrase.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED COMMENTS TO A COLUMN BY MARGARET WENTE IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Margaret Wente is back with her favorite cheap-trick “analysis” of a serious matter.

She gets one person who has written a book or is known for his/her views on a topic and treats the person’s unproved notions as authoritative research, here that person is Jonathan Haidt.

She did the same thing in Iraq some years ago, quoting the infamously one-sided scholar on the Mideast, Bernard Lewis.

She did it in Vancouver where she was supposed to be studying free-injection sites and sourced a single prejudiced “authority.”

Her method represents hack journalism at its most developed. It just happens to be one of the basic techniques of propaganda too.

It’s all very much like the notorious legal practice of expert witnesses: a single expert witness is brought into the courtroom and paid for his/her one-sided opinion in hopes of influencing the jury when indeed the reality is that hundreds of experts disagree and only their full range of views offers the state of the truth.

Her “authority” in this case just doesn’t begin to get it right, offering a specious notion dressed up as an idea.

The political Right’s success anywhere is not owing to a better understanding of human nature. That’s actually rather a sophism and an indirect way of saying what would read as foolishness were it phrased more clearly: the Right is right.

The Right’s success is owing to a couple of extremely basic factors.

The first is money and lots of it.

We always and everywhere observe the Right pandering to special interests for campaign funds.

Money doesn’t buy a seat in a legislature, at least not yet, but it gives politicians the wherewithal to market and advertise and travel and put on an impressive show (everything from stages and backdrops and music and big flags and the ease to ship them around quickly like a travelling rock band) and just saturate the airwaves with their pancaked faces, fluffed hair, and bleached teeth.

And then there are constant polls to test the effect of statements day by day, sophisticated polls that are very costly to run.

We know marketing and advertising work: tens of billions are spent every year just to sell this versus that soda pop or burger or deodorant, and the companies spending those vast fortunes know they are not squandering their money.

It is no different in politics.

Human beings are highly susceptible to suggestions, only the suggestions must be cleverly phrased and they must be tailored to the needs of the individuals or groups – the job of marketing. It is very costly to create and tailor these suggestions across millions of people.

Genuine issues have long receded into obscurity in elections. Rather we get costly advertising pitches designed to just suggest a position on a matter of public importance, and we get swirling dust about non-issues like patriotism, religious views, families, or flags.

And just whom do you think it is that has the best access to money?

Second, there is what we might call the stupidity factor. It is an established fact that conservative views tend to be correlated with lower intelligence. Like all correlations in statistics this one does not hold in every individual case, but it very much does hold on average.

It doesn’t take a great effort to sell stupid people: just look at the millions who bought books and tickets supporting that total air-head, Sarah Palin.

When you direct your appeal to this group, it doesn’t take much imagination or hard work to come up with the right words.

Witness Rob Ford’s (relative) success: he’s actually convinced that if he asks people in general, people who have no idea of costs or finances or urban planning, about wanting subways, that he has earned a mandate to build them. But it is an illusion, one built on asking a simplistic question of lots of people with no background in the subject being asked. It much resembles asking a very young child whether she wants to be a princess or he a magician or armored knight.

Were the same question put, as it should be: here are the choices and briefly here are the costs and taxes and difficulties associated with each, the results would be quite different.

It is actually part of the approach of genuinely stupid politicians – the Sarah Palins, the Rob Fords, the George Bushes – to elicit public responses with the least possible thought or detail or accountability. That makes their jobs so much easier. And as any good advertising person knows, selling a complex idea is very difficult.
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“Liberal$ have lost the trust of Canadians. The need to learn some lessons about telling the truth from the Conservatives.”

A 39.6% majority represents lost trust in the other side? After all, this is not just about the Liberal Party, it is about liberal views.

This reader brings up, inadvertently, a major factor in our politics: our democratic system is broken.

There can be no mandate to do anything involving great change, change which affects everyone, when more than 60% of voters don’t want you in office.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

“Israel never ruled out attacking Iran while talks were taking place: defence minister”

This is news?

Israel never rules out attacking anyone it doesn’t like at any time.

It is simply the world’s great pint-sized bully.

Please see this brief and informative item clarifying, from a high Israeli source, the nonsense we see promoted about Iran’s supposed threat to Israel:

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=30317

Of course, those who follow world affairs will know there was never any substance to the big lie that Netanyahu repeats daily, but it’s nice to see that supported, if only by accident, by an Israeli source.
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“Israel is like North Korea. A little, aggressive country where even girls have to serve as soldiers. They both have nuclear weapons, both are governed by extremists. The only difference is that there’s no North Korean lobby in Washington DC.”

That is a perfect comparison, although our governments constantly preach the opposite.

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“It seems there are a lot of Israeli apologists who spew ‘ANTI SEMITE’ every time somebody has the gall not to be sucked in by every Israeli press release.”

‘Anti-Semite’ coming from Israel or an intense Israeli apologist has today become almost a badge of honor.

Criticize the world’s most aggressive and downright dishonest government, and you are, ipso facto, an anti-Semite.

Criticize a government which will not seek honest peace and daily steals what it wants from others and kills those it doesn’t like, and you are the criminal.

It is pure cloudcuckooland.

Such abuse of language can only change the meaning of what used to be a valid meaningful word.

It is much like hearing an angry, poorly behaved child in a store screaming at its parent for not buying what it wants.

If Israel is to be a state like any other state, then it is subject to the same criticisms as any other state.

If it is not a state like any other state, then what is it?

Were all of the world’s 200 or so countries to adopt a pattern of behavior resembling Israel’s, the world would resemble a massive war between ant colonies, just a ball of unthinking, biting, fighting bodies.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

While I don’t support the death penalty anywhere, I do find it interesting that Harper speaks out so forcefully against Iran in this matter.

I contrast it with Israel’s treatment of a Canadian officer doing his UN observation duty in Southern Lebanon: he was targeted and deliberately killed by Israeli forces during its savage assault of the region.

Harper’s only public response then was the lame asking why the UN had put him there.

In these two events we see with complete clarity the prejudice towards special interests of our foreign policy today.

In one case a man bravely dying at his post in our honorable peacekeeping tradition was not honored by the leader of our country, and, indeed, his killers were never even questioned or in any way challenged.

In the other case, Harper makes big noises about a state which hasn’t yet carried out the verdict of a legal trial.

Unfortunately the death penalty for serious espionage is fairly common practice in the world, so Iran would not be out of line here.

One suspects and hopes they will reduce his sentence, but espionage is not a game. It has serious consequences, and with Iran being unfairly attacked day after day by Israel’s mad leader and by the United States and by a compliant Canada and others under pressure, Iran is naturally more concerned than ever with such acts.

America’s worst modern spy, Jonathon Pollard, who gave away some of America’s crown jewels to Israel, who in turn sold them to Russia – would certainly have been executed but for the Israeli connection.
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‘”…………..Foreign Affairs Department said it is reaching out to “like-minded” countries ….”

‘You mean Israel and the US?’

Well said.

Although I strongly suspect the reaching went in the other direction: Harper is a totally spineless man towards either of these bloody-minded states.
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“But Iran is not a normal country. Think of what Iranians did to the US embassy and its staff.”

The embassy?

That’s a quarter century ago.

Do you characterize any other country by what someone in it did a quarter century ago?
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‘Al Jazeera interview with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, Dan Meridor, in which Meridor admits that the Israelis misquoted Ahmadinejad’s supposed quote about wiping out Israel. This is a misrepresentation that Netenyahu has used constantly, including speeches made before US legislators, on US cable networks and while in Canada….

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2012/04/2012413151613293582.html

‘Little wonder Sarkozy was overheard saying of Netenyahu “I can’t stand him. He’s a liar.”‘

Yes, thank you.

Both points are absolutely spot on.

I would add that not just Sarkozy, largely a friend of Israel’s, said that but Obama spoke to the effect: “Tell me about it. I have deal with him every day.”

Obama’s addition is very telling evidence when anyone wants to discuss the inordinate and inappropriate influence of Israel in the United States.

The leader of a tiny country of 7 million gets access to the President “every day”?

And in that access he gets to lie without ever being reproved?

How is that possible?

The Lobby, and its critical campaign finance contributions.

Just the arrangement Harper daily works towards establishing in Canada by making parties more dependent on private contributions – eliminating government support for parties – and by grooming the special interest groups, especially that of Israel’s apologists, regularly.

It’s not a bright outlook for fairness or decency in our policy, two things completely missing from the foreign policy of the United States for some years now.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Why is the Globe even printing stupid pieces like this?

All thinking people know what happened here, and since when are the words of a genuine madman worth quoting?

Are you planning to do a series, perhaps including quotes from Robert Picton on pig farming and picking up girls?

Stupid and contemptible.
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“The question is not whether multiculturalism is good or bad; that is too simple and too extreme an idea to debate.”

Yes, but what people do not seem to understand is that in a globalized world, it is simply unavoidable.

Movements, across the globe, of resources and people – what economists call factors of production – naturally follow the huge new patterns of world trade in goods and services.

And it is not the first time people have experienced such changes.

Take any old state you care to in Europe, and you will find a complex and rather messy history in these matters.

Britain is a perfect example. Celtic people were overrun by Latin Romans. Latter the descendants of the Romans were overrun by Germanic Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxons in turn experienced the invasions of the Norsemen. Still later, the French Normans conquered and ruled. There were still more disturbances but the facts are clear.

Modern British people, despite our mental image of them as fixed group, are actually a complex hybrid created over centuries of turmoil.

Globalization only adds speed to what has been going for centuries.

Indeed, these very real forces in the world point to the ultimate absurdity of trying to maintain any country according to a definition of ethnicity or religion.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

“They should ship him to Islamabad and stone him.”

What can one say but that the comment is colossally ignorant?

Breivik was actually quoted previously on his dislike of Arab people, something apparently he shares with the writer of the comment.

His act, if it has any meaning at all, is in line with sympathy for Israel.

By the way, the person commenting clearly does not understand the origins of stoning. I suggest that he read the book of Leviticus.
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“Meanwhile, any Muslim who dares to convert to Christianity gets a death sentence put on their head. Houston, we have a problem here back on earth.”

Death sentence?

Just look back at Christian history.

Centuries of mass killings, burning people alive, and torture over matters so small as a detail of the mass.

We’ve only been free from such horrors for a century or so.

And actually we are not free of them yet if you count places like Latin America and rural India and Africa.

The overwhelming majority of the world’s more than a billion Muslims do not behave this way any more than we do now.

The ones who do are mired in poverty and ignorance and superstition, and if you will just bother to look at the world around you, you will find uncountable horrors in places of poverty and ignorance and superstition – as in rural India or Mexico or Latin America or Africa.
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“The ugly side of socialism”

And your comment qualifies as the genuinely stupid side of free enterprise.

The man is ill.

He is not a whit different to cases like Charles Manson or Robert Picton.

Indeed, he is not a whit different to the American Marines who killed a crowd of innocents recently.

Or Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli who slaughtered a large number of people in a mosque while they were praying.
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“The man is a terrorist and should be tried as one.”

Terrorist?

Is that anything like a witch?

Or one of Stalin’s “wreckers,” of whom he spoke before starting on a new purge?

Is it a special class of human being?

A sick man is a sick man, although he may well have political views too, and in this case his views are much like those of an Israeli settler.

A certain percentage of such people exist in every human population.

The United States has displayed scores of them in Iraq and Vietnam, not to mention all the mass killers right in the dear old homeland.

Israel was founded on the bloody work of the Irgun and Lehi and the Stern Gang.

Israeli soldiers murdered 400 children during the invasion of Gaza, and there are reliable reports of children used as shields by Israeli soldiers.
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“This coward deserves the worst kind of punishment. Typical of the usual suspects to support his views and actions through some convoluted logic. A mass murderer of children is no hero, unfortunately the chickenshit cowards who jack off to war movies and Fox News feel it’s okay to murder children.”

What are you blubbering about?

The only thing remarkable in your comment is a near complete lack of rationality.

Who on this planet called Breivik a hero?

Who on earth supports his views?

Although I must say that some of the violent voices about “terrorism” here in the comments do come pretty close to supporting his views, only the targets of their hatreds are different ones than his.

Bottom line is that Nature regularly produces all kinds of freaks and failed evolutionary experiments, as it were. He is clearly one of them.

It is quite possible that such heartless killers served a purpose once in early human society. Many of the legendary heroes and soldiers were likely the same kind of psychopaths, figures from Achilles to Prince Vlad the Impaler

Vlad was the origin of the vampire legend, a real historical figure, a ruthless killer who fought against Ottoman Empire expansion.

Closer to our own day, it is widely thought that Stonewall Jackson, the Confederacy’s most ruthless general, was a psychopath.

General Curtis LeMay, who ran the savage bombing of Japanese cities and who later advocated in the Pentagon for a nuclear first strike on Russia, almost certainly also was one.

Quite possibly, “old blood and guts” General Patton of WWII also was a psychopath.

The list is a long one, and we are only lucky early detection caught still another, Canadian Colonel Russell Williams.

Some of these psychopaths like to kill in great masses – hence the name mass murder – while others like to enjoy a long series of killings, as did Mr. Picton.
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“Islam slaughtered, enslaved and raped its way out of Saudi Arabia to the doorsteps of Europe and India but I hardly hear a chirp from you.”

History is full of horrors.

But I do tend, quite naturally I think, to be most upset with that happening before my eyes.

Especially when the horrors before my eyes are committed by peoples claiming allegiance to democratic and human values, such as Israel and the United States.

One expects tyrants and ignorant armies to kill and maim and torture, but there is supposed to be something different about countries claiming Enlightenment principles.

By the way, it is estimated that the United States left 3 million people dead in Vietnam.

It left also countless cripples from the bombing.

And it left still more a sea of Agent Orange to cripple babies for centuries.

It was a true Holocaust, in every sense of the word.

And all done for nothing, no point whatever, just mad impulses and paranoid fears.

Lastly, quoting weird sources from the Internet like the one you do is just that, weird.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED COMMENTS TO A COLUMN BY J.L. GRANASTEIN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The article has a completely false premise.

We do understand.

And the notion about a “new toy for the boys,” is a classic example of a straw-man argument.

Washington has spent a fortune on this weapon that does not work.

Of course, it wants to correct the mess, as it eventually has for other poorly designed weapons.

But it is strapped for money, and correction could take a long time and countless billions.

So the Pentagon has put pressure on virtually every ally to order this hi-tech lemon, effectively giving it tens of billions in subsidies.

And people like American wannabe Stephen Harper and (stupidly repulsive) Peter MacKay raise their hands to volunteer, shining their shoes for a meeting to eagerly sign on the dotted line.

I don’t care what anyone says, so-called military expert or otherwise, this plane serves no role for Canada and its traditional interests.

It is a first-strike weapon – that is, it would be if it ever works.

Its maintenance costs – like all stealth aircraft – are almost beyond the imagination. Like opening a sewer to pour money down day and night.

But even then we would only have 65 of these crappy planes.

We need a practical workhorse of a plane whose cost enables us to buy a good number to defend our interests.

This government has lied to us again and again about the costs here, playing a pure shell game at immensely high stakes.

It doesn’t matter what senior people say at Defense: they want to keep their jobs, they want promotions, and we’ve all seen what happens to officials who express disagreement with this government.

Incompetent and dishonest government, writ large.
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Note on the maintenance costs for America’s current stealth bombers (B-2). These planes eat manpower and equipment after their initial procurement cost of nearly $900 per ounce.

They must be completely overhauled every 7 years at $60 million apiece.

They must be searched after each use meticulously for scratches since scratches will make them visible on radar.

It costs about $90,000 just for a single flight.

The planes must be kept in specially-designed climate-controlled hangers.

Only a drunken sailor or a madman would consider them worthwhile, and the F-35 promises more of the same.
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Granastein is just one more tiresome apologist for Israel’s bloody excesses, and of course all apologists for Israel are cheerleaders for the Pentagon.

Committing to an insanely expense weapon like this – a first-strike weapon – is just another way of hitching us up tightly with the United States and its mindless support for Israel.

If Granastein were honest, he’d admit his true motive.

But that isn’t going to happen.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY THOMAS HOMER-DIXON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This is pure Dr. Feel-good stuff, not genuine analysis.

Several generalizations strung together with unwarranted conclusions drawn.

I don’t see anything so special about Ontario’s resources, human and natural, that guarantees a bright future.

And I certainly do not agree that windmills mean good things for our future.

Quite the opposite seems true: windmills are a costly dead-end technology, and investing heavily in them is foolish for the long-term.

And as everyone who understands the matter knows, you can’t have lots of windmills without back-up base-load (on call 24 hours a day) generating plants.

Ontario has picked gas-fired plants, but cannot even get its act together concerning where to build them, backing down at the first NIMBY pressure.

Besides, gas-fired plants are not free of greenhouse gases.

Even more important, the heavy use of gas in the tarsands plus the opportunity to export liquefied natural gas from the west Coast mean that Ontario’s long-term supply of gas is not all that secure.

When job-creators of any kind – hi-tech or industrial or food-processing – consider a place to establish themselves, competitively priced and reliable energy are of first importance.

A windmill/gas plant energy economy does not fit that description.

Europe has already discovered some serious drawbacks with windmills.

And you must consider that Europe started on windmills from a base of a much higher-cost energy economy (high taxes on energy) so windmill costs did not seem so terrible as they do in Ontario.

Also, very importantly, the education system, which is our most important investment in human capital, the writer thinks so highly of, I would never describe in his glowing terms.

We are not terribly competitive on a world-scale.

Most of our public schools are staffed with out-of-date teachers who do not even know how to use a computer or how to exploit the great resources on the Internet.

Our teachers are paid at rates which not only are not competitive, they are not in any way reviewed and evaluated: they have highly-paid jobs for life with no demands for performance.

We’ve had a generation of nonsense like social promotion.

And our kids go to school for only about half the year (170-odd days).

Our colleges and universities are admitting students now who should not be admitted, just for the money represented by bodies in seats.

Take just teacher education: 12,000 graduates a year for 7,000 jobs (and I doubt that). You simply could not be more wasteful and inefficient.

Ontario is a good place in which to live for many reasons, but, no, the future does not look all that bright.

The last thing we need is the kind of feel-good complacency this piece represents.

We need lots of tough-minded changes for a continued bright future.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

“…politician’s latest blunder could prove to be his last…”

I very much doubt it.

You know, there is no cure for stupidity.

And this guy’s pathetic constituents have stuck with him through scandal after scandal.
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“The puzzle is why can’t a black person (with very few exceptions) not start or run a business however small?”

That is a very true observation.

Of course, there are some who do, but the number has always been remarkably small.

And this hatred of hard-working Korean or Chinese immigrants who do immediately start small businesses in run-down neighborhoods is not new.

Of course, it is doubly stupid because in many cases such little businesses bring to a neighborhood goods and services which did not previously exist. Imagine being without a grocery store and not having a car in a sprawling run-down area?

Ghettos across America are notable for their lack of stores. Big companies do not like the crime risks, blacks often do not fill the need, but Asian migrants come and offer a needed service.

A couple of decades back, there was a much publicized event in New York with groups of blacks literally terrorizing a Korean grocer for weeks.

Their reason: they thought he was too vigilant of some of them concerning shoplifting.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Yes, Mulcair, despite his flaws, was the right choice for the New Democratic Party.

A forceful and intelligent man who will take none of Harper’s crap.

It’s too bad about Bob Rae, a very eloquent and able politician. I admire his skillfulness.

Had the Liberals chosen him, as they should have done, instead of the ineffective, bumbling, repulsive Ignatieff, we would not be in the national mess we are in.

Yes, Rae had some residual disadvantages in parts of Ontario – “Rae Days,” which actually were the carefully considered and least harmful option of a thoughtful politician during an economic crisis – but the total impact could not compare to the horror Ignatieff has dropped on us.
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“They are opportunists both, leading their respective parties down a path to power that involves turning their backs on long time supporters to appear more broad based.”

Sorry, despite my personal wishes otherwise, all politicians are opportunists.

All, without exception.

Being an opportunist is part of the job description for the “art of the possible.”

What is to be condemned is not opportunists in politics per se but opportunists who avail themselves of nasty political situations that were better avoided.

Harper is an opportunist that has used every scrap of tackiness and ignorance and abuse to stitch up a situation for himself.

He’s not to be condemned simply as an opportunist but as an utterly dark and unethical man.
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Surely we are working our way towards something of a two-party system.

Parties change over time with new economic and social realities. They come into and go out of existence. They are not as enduring as the stonework of Parliament.

There was some recognition of new realities when the NDP, under the beloved leadership of Jack Layton, signed on with the Liberals under the very decent Dion – the BQ offering support but not taking membership – to stop Harper a few years back.

Canada, as a whole, is a majority progressive country, but that progressive vote is divided several ways – a reality that allowed the opportunity for Harper to achieve power.

But the entire spectrum has shifted somewhat to the right, as we are faced with a more uncertain future and big economic problems.

Conservatives of years ago were thoroughly decent and respectable people, having given us a number of worthy federal and provincial leaders.

But today’s Conservative Party is extreme and undemocratic and dishonest in its tactics, also lacking in respect for others – quite an ugly creature that cannot possibly in our lifetimes rule without the passive consent of Canada’s majority.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

But who is going to evict Israelis from the rest of their stolen property in the West Bank and Jerusalem?

Those much greater thefts aren’t by right-wing fanatics but by the government of Israel itself.

The Hebron business is pure symbolism and public relations.
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‘The “two-state solution” is actually live and well…, if we only realized that it has been accomplished, legally, long ago, and all that needs to be done at this stage is to tinker with it a bit…

The words would be hilarious were they not so tragic and darkly ignorant.

Two states, one of which weekly steals homes and farms from the other?

The two states are defined by the Green Line, else the phrase “two states” is absurd.
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“Hebron is important for Jews not only because of the tomb of Abraham…”

It would seem that the entire Middle East is important to Israelis, so much so they are ready to start wars regularly to secure their delusional claims.

No modern state can be based on religious texts of 2500 years ago.

Otherwise Turkey belongs to Greece owing to the Trojan War.

And indeed, Israel belongs either to the Phoenicians or the Egyptians, both of which ruled that land before the Hebrews.

One could argue that Italy, too, has a claim.

These arguments over texts of 2500 years ago are irrational and dangerous.

Were it anywhere but Israel, everyone would immediately recognize the fact.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

“The parallels to the F-35 are eerie…”

I am not sure that Mr. Swain has told the whole story here.

I don’t agree with him that both planes were obsolete the day they first flew.

The F-35, if it could do what it was supposed to do, would not be obsolete, but it cannot perform as intended: it represents a set of blunders.

The Arrow certainly was not obsolete in its day.

The project was stopped and existing planes were chopped up without any meaningful explanation by Diefenbaker owing to American Defense Department pressure.

The Americans did not welcome Canada’s entry into the world of high-performance military aircraft – it is an area were competition is not welcome with all the internal subsidies going to the Pentagon – and it very much made its feelings known secretly and strongly, as it always does in such matters.

In the case of the F-35, Harper’s government bought the (unproved) thing because of Pentagon pressure.

All of America’s allies have had significant pressures to buy some of these hi-tech lemons: the reason is to subsidize the immense costs of correcting its design errors.

The only common threads are Pentagon pressure and governments of Canada giving in – in the first case to stop and in the second place to buy.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

“The silent threat of the lone-wolf terrorist”

An utterly stupid piece of writing.

We have always, always had “lone wolf” monsters.

How do you think legends like vampires and other monsters became so fixed in people’s minds?

And what do you think the likes of John Wayne Gacy and Charles Manson and Robert Picton and Clifford Olsen represent?

They are psychopathic serial and mass killers, one of nature’s many mistakes, from civilized society’s point of view, in its endless evolutionary experiments.

There may have been a time when such people served a purpose, as in wars in the times of walled cities.

So what purpose does it serve to call such people “terrorists”?

Or indeed to attribute any politics or ideology to their love of killing and torturing human beings?

Nothing, but it feeds the ignorant nightmarish fears being promoted by Islamophobics night and day.

This is “high class” garbage.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

“Our new culture of compulsive communication”

I like the expression even though it is highly inaccurate.

Tweeting is not our culture.

It represents the habit of a portion of our population, and I’m not sure that it qualifies even as a “culture” for them.

Likely they represent the same portion that has always had a compulsive problem with communication.

Young folks used to talk for hours on land-line phones, generally about nothing of any import.

The expression “verbal diarrhea” is quite old: I remember it in a university psychology course in the early 1960s.

Sadly, too many of our columnists and radio hosts suffer with a form of the same complaint: they write about trivia and passing fads and elevate them into the substance of “culture.”

Apart from Ms. Gagnon and, of course, Margaret Wente, much of our new Radio One CBC is of just this nature.
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“My younger colleagues used Wikipedia as a source for everything, were unwilling to spend time reading the texts or accessing the libraries, and I spent hours editing our written projects. The ability to write a concise, grammatically correct sentence (let alone a paragraph) seemed to be beyond the other contributors…”

I recognize the problem the writer describes, but it, in fact, has little or nothing to do with technology.

The truth is that technology is, in general, not yet in our schools, at least in any meaningful way.

We are badly behind by world standards.

It is simply amazing how many teachers do not know how to use a computer or know about good data sources on the Internet.

The problem you describe has several actual causes.

First, social promotion now sees people quickly rising to the levels of incompetence in schools.

High school grades have become a poor indicator of ability or performance.

Second, our colleges and universities are taking in students who simply should not even be in those institutions.

The institutions do this for purely monetary purposes, as when Ontario’s schools of education graduate 12,000 each year and only 7,000 get jobs (I even doubt that number).

Teachers at all levels are frequently lazy and indifferent. That’s the main explanation for “group work” despite all the blather about team work.

They only have to mark a third or quarter of the number of projects.

What you find often in assigned groups is one or two who work conscientiously and the others “ride their coat tails.”

So far as the ability to write, no demands are made by many teachers in Ontario.

The so-called literacy test is a pathetic little game, and the game allows teachers to avoid being tougher in classes about writing skills, as they once were.

Many teachers’ ability even to explain to students principles of research – such as confirming a source with another source – are often non-existent, as you see with Wikipedia (a good source but one that requires other source confirmation).

Many of our current teachers are themselves the products of this poor system, and they enter the system only to further degrade it.

It’s a sad situation, and we are wasting huge costs to no advance of education.

Your comment also confuses – as does the columnist’s piece – what really is technology.

Yes, Tweeting involves the use of a technology, but then so does answering the telephone or the doorbell.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Absolutely.

The United States Senate has been the single most destructive institution of the United States’ government since its inception.

Under a Parliamentary system, we have no need for a second elected body.

All the corruptions and immense influence of money and advocacy for narrow special interests will be duplicated to no purpose other than the corruption of democratic values.

While it may sound odd to speak of democratic values while we have an appointed senate, it actually is not on closer examination.

The current institution has little power and actually on occasion serves as a useful forum, and it is a distinction awarded for past loyal service, something politicians will always find a way of doing even were the senate abolished.

The Senate should either be abolished or reformed, but it should not become a second Parliament.

In the United States, the elected Senate positively works against democratic values: it does this in many ways.

First, it is not representative at all: a Senator from California represents over 16 million people while a Senator from Alaska represents a few hundred thousand.

There is no hope that the average Californian will ever even shake hands with his or her Senator, let alone influence them.

This also makes campaigns in big states unbelievably expensive.

The average American Senator spends 2/3 of his or her time soliciting for campaign funds.

That fact locks them into the special interests who can supply serious and regular amounts of money.

Second, elections for the American Senate are staggered so that only 1/3 of the members are elected at any period: this means issues of the day cannot seriously disturb the composition of the body.

Third, the Senate operates with a 60% rule which means that a super-majority is needed to deal with an issue.

Fourth, this conservative, special interests-bound institution has the right too veto all legislation.

Fifth, this conservative, special interests-bound institution must approve all senior Presidential appointments and treaties negotiated: it thus has immense power over the popularly elected President.

The process of hearings and approvals regularly gets bogged down into an ugly behind-the-scenes horse-trading operation which in no way reflects public opinion.

Sixth, the system of equal numerical representation for each state is totally anti-democratic, especially given the great powers of the Senate. It was deliberately designed that way since many of America’s founders had no faith in democracy.

Seventh, the American Senate is effectively an aristocracy. Just examine its membership and history. It is largely a bunch of old men with minds not open to new things and beholden to the wealthy suppliers of campaign funds. There even is a considerable element of inherited seats in the Senate, many times fathers having effectively bequeathed a seat to a son.

Is it any wonder Stephen Harper likes the concept?

Now, if we were making a new elected Senate, we could have it totally representational, but all that would do is create a second Parliament. Surely that would be a stupid waste of resources.

Harper’s interests in the West’s having more influence (despite its minority population) and his keen interest in obtaining new special interest campaign-contributors for his party tell us that his long term interests in Senate reform are not in keeping with democratic values.

Abolish the Senate or keep it mainly as is, a place for honors with little power. Only those two options are in keeping with our democratic values.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

“Fear and guns.”

Yes, indeed.

Few Canadians recognize how intense and widespread fear is there.

Fear causes Americans to own more than 200,000,000 guns.

Fear causes idiotic things liked gated communities.

Fear causes segregation as great as ever: its just done in a legal fashion now with sprawling suburbs and abandoned regions.

There are places in the United States I could take readers to that simply would not believe, places which resemble the third-world, right down to people living in shanties.

Fear even helped sell things like SUVs. It isn’t for nothing that those vehicles look heavy and sinister. Suburbanites needing to travel even on the edges of certain regions want to feel protected.

After all, it used to be a saying in much of the United States that if you are bumped into by a black driver, or if you bump into one, you should just keep going.

Americans love to blubber about their guns protecting them from a tyrant government, but that is absurd. No one could withstand America’s military, or its often militarized police, for five minutes.

The guns are about fear of blacks and the unknown in the vague forms of communists or Muslims.

Paranoia can easily be identified by talking to people on the streets.

Other fears too get conflated here. Average Americans real incomes have declined for decades, with only moves to cheaper suburbs and both sposes working preventing a serious decline in standard of living.

There is an intense fear too of government, especially the federal government (a fear not always without basis). The average American sees Washington almost as an occupying power having nothing to do with their interests.

We used to have tales of surviving POWS and black helicopters, and those fears have only changed form, not substance.

We have too all the fears generated in a society run along Social Darwinist principles.

Fear of getting sick with no health insurance in a country where the single greatest cause of personal bankruptcy remains medical bills.

Fear of losing your job (and with that, remember, for middle class people, losing your health insurance).

Fear of the growing power and influence of China, and to a lesser extent, Russia and India. Obama’s recent actions speak directly to this.

Fear of losing “old ways,” especially in religion in a scientific age: this fear causes much of the political activity of the Christian Right.

The fears really get dark and formless too, as the fears around Israel and the Second Coming and Armageddon – things which sound silly to many of us, but which are very real for tens of millions of Americans.

I’ve always believed the excessive fears and paranoia you feel in the United States stem at least in part from a bad gene pool, the legacy of the Puritans and Pilgrims, truly nasty, hateful folks for the most part.
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“But the loud and intolerant are becoming an endangered species”

Where does the author see that?

The United States simply is a seething cauldron of fears, hates, and mindless belief in exceptionalism.

I spent close to half my life in the United States in two widely separated periods, and I do not recognize what this writer is taking about.

No one even raises a voice against scores of extra-judicial murders no different than the hateful works of South American military juntas of the past.

Law after law has been passed without serious opposition, effectively stripping Americans of their Constitutional rights.

Drones will begin domestic overflights. The TSA runs agents up and down the nation’s highways with the right to stop anyone.

The FBI can legally check out your reading at the library.

Every progressive organization in the United States is compromised by agents.

The President now claims the right to kill an American without trial or judge if in his opinion the person works against the interests of the United States.

This possibly qualifies as the most ignorant column ever published in The Globe.
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People forget: the United States was literally founded on hatreds and prejudices.

Everything from hatred of the Pope and hatred for paying taxes to the wide embrace of slavery.

There has been a good deal of moving the furniture around, but the floor plan has changed remarkably little.

And greed remains a national value, as does a bizarre sense of exceptionalism.

http://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/lessons-from-the-american-revolution/

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

Although he’s made some mistakes along the way – and who hasn’t? – George remains one of the age’s most heroic characters, and I’m glad his voice will continue to resonate in Parliament.

And what a voice.

When it’s in full force, it withers the ineffectual propagandists and the cringingly dishonest politicians.

http://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/a-breath-of-fresh-air-sweeps-into-hell-but-theres-still-no-way-out/

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“A very sad reflection on the electors of Bradford for electing this hypocritical and divisive individual.”

The last thing in the world a thinking person would call Galloway is hypocritical.

He is the absolute enemy of the world’s hypocrites.

Clearly the writer either does not understand the words he uses or is indeed one of the pack.

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MATT BLUNT AND MARK NANTAIS IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Notice the careful use of the word “efficient” here applied to a border.

It is plainly dishonest.

Borders are, by definition, barriers.

They may be well run or poorly run, but they cannot be efficient.

An efficient barrier?

The ugly truth is that Harper’s efforts are about getting rid of the border, and if that means nothing to you in terms of future consequences, you are hopeless.

Harper is in almost all things an American wannabe, the most servile to American interests of any prime minister surely.

All done while making big phony noises about arctic sovereignty and new trade routes.

Implementing such a scheme is the ultimate expression of that fact.

Imagine, armed American law enforcement agents being able to enter at will?

I think , not without exaggeration, it will mark the beginning of the end of our National Dream.

http://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/nightmare-vision-of-north-america/
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And readers should ask themselves: would Americans ever even think of permitting such a relationship, one in which they would make the same concessions as Canada is being asked to make here?

The answer is obvious.

A last thought: this nasty project comes at a time in which the United States has become a quasi-police state.

Its TSA agents now run up and down American highways with the authority to stop and scrutinize anyone.

Its President claims the Constitutional right to murder Americans abroad who may be regarded as threats, without any legal process.

Its drones murder innocent people in half a dozen countries regularly.

Unarmed drones now fly the border.

Soon, unarmed drones will fly over the United States.

Police Departments are in line to buy the technology for their own purposes.

The United States’ local police and prison guards have a world reputation for brutality: they have been cited by Amnesty International a number of times.

The United States imprisons more of its own people than any other Western country.

Its Super-max prisons have been cited as barbaric throwbacks to medieval dungeons.

Guantanamo and the other far-flung parts of the CIA’s torture gulag still flourish under Obama.