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Monthly Archives: January 2016

John Chuckman



This is foolish.

First, being related to Anne Frank qualifies someone with absolutely no expertise or even knowledge of this or any other political matter.

She’s entitled to her view, of course, but it means not a jot more than the views of 7 billion other humans who will not receive publicity in The Guardian.

Second, for any informed person her assertion is close to ridiculous.

I reject most of Trump’s views, but I would never compare them to Hitler’s.

I don’t even understand how anyone who knows anything can say this. Just read one of the better biographies of Hitler – Allan Bullock or Joachim Fest, for example – and you will quickly understand why I say this.

Confusing unpleasantness and unacceptable views with monomania and nihilism shows pretty poor judgement.

In fact, in a few areas, Trump is exactly Hitler’s opposite. He tends to be anti-imperial wars, and he voices a sensible view about Russia and China.

These are the areas where Trump does bring something new to American national politics. Our political systems, unfortunately, are such that any national candidate comes with a bundle of views and issues. If you buy into one part of the bundle, you must take, willy-nilly, the rest. No one comes with a platform completely satisfying to most voters.

Trump comes with some very heavy baggage, yet he does have the potential to bring some welcome change to international affairs, an end to decades of pointless war in which the U.S. has been engaged.

I utterly reject ideas like his wall with Mexico, and further I don’t believe it would prove doable. But it does seem to me that criticism of him is highly selective. How is his wall proposal any different than Israel’s walls? It isn’t, and indeed Israel is building still more walls, but they don’t receive the publicity that Trump’s proposal does.

Again, I utterly oppose selecting a kind of immigrant who is unacceptable, especially Muslims who are in my personal experience excellent people.

Yet Trump has not proposed a ban or an end, he has proposed a pause, and that is a very different thing. There can be no question that massive Muslim – or any other specific, culturally different – migration over a short time can cause huge social adjustment problems, as it very much is doing today in Europe.

However, please think about the absolute root cause of this sudden massive migration: it is America’s violent tear through the Middle East, upsetting old societies, killing tens of thousands, destroying countless homes and institutions. Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and others. That American savagery is source of all our headlines today, and this consideration takes us back to the importance of changing American foreign policy.

I think it worth noting, too, that Israel has a permanent ban on many, many kinds of immigrants. For some recent poor black refugees it did not want to accept, given embarrassing public outrages over black migrants, it actually bribed some African states to take them, where I’m sure their future, given the circumstances of their arrival, will be bleak.

Israel truly grants full citizenship to only one kind of people, its million or so Arab citizens being both an accident of 1948 history and a people who live under constant shadows and threats of expulsion as well as a set of laws which do not treat them equally in almost any matter.

Of course, then there are the five million or so Palestinians – some of whom are Christian and some Muslim – who live under illegal occupation with daily abuse, no rights, no votes, no hopes, and not even secure ownership of homes or farms. I haven’t heard Trump advocating anything resembling that ghastly reality which has endured in Israel for half a century.

So, if you are of a mind to criticize Trump’s more extreme ideas, then you should be in the forefront of doing the same for, not just a dismal prospect, but a dismal reality in Israel.

“We haven’t really learnt anything—I’m depressed by the current situation.” I can at least say amen to Eva Schloss on that, but I’m sure we are not talking about the same situation.




John Chuckman



Response to another comment:

No one hates Israel per se, but millions are repulsed by Israel’s behavior, and quite rightly so.

Now, in any ethical or moral system, isn’t that how we are supposed to judge others, by their behavior, not by what they are?

No terrorist organization which exists has a record to match Israel’s, and that’s just a regrettable and unpleasant fact.

500 kids killed in Gaza?

1,700 others?

The people of Gaza can’t even import cement to repair homes, schools, and sanitation?

Israel sprays a huge swath of Gaza with toxic herbicide, likely to cause birth defects for generations?

And that’s only a partial list of recent Israel behavior.

If Israel wants to be regarded as a state like any other state, then it must act like one.

It does not.

And the great underlying, but generally ignored, truth of so much Muslim anger is that it is a direct result of Israel’s behavior, which never seems to be disapproved of in the West while Muslim violence is ceaselessly condemned.

The prospect which Israel’s behavior opens for the future is a terrifying one.

If it is acceptable to behave as Israel does, then there are no bounds, no rules, no laws in international affairs, and every group or country may do just as it feels it is compelled to do.

Israel’s behavior is a kind of experiment with chaos in human affairs, and it must therefore be of concern to everyone.

John Chuckman



There is some truth in the idea that the Republican establishment is shaken by the possibility of a Trump candidacy.

But the folks who are really shaken by Trump, without question, are the Neo-cons and the Israel lobby, already extremely influential groups in America.

They do not trust Trump’s independence of mind with regard to Israel and the American foreign policy which keeps that failed venture afloat. This is the one leaning of Trump’s which many people, doubtful or disliking most of his views, would welcome as a relief and a fresh start from the sick status quo of endless wars, many of them catering to Israel.

Of course, Trump’s more extreme statements on other matters give the Israel lobby plenty of ammunition to make it seem as though they are concerned with issues of interest to a wider audience of Americans. But when you consider the people vociferously engaged against Trump, you know that is not the case. They simply are not people with any record of great concerns over human rights, genuine democratic values, and imperial aggression.

Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York who is exploring running as an independent candidate, is well connected with Israel lobby crowd.

As is the publication, Weekly Standard, which has been making very loud noises about Trump. Founded and run by William Kristol, the publication functions as a major mouthpiece for Neo-cons and the Israel lobby.

It would appear possible now that not only does Israel determine a good deal of American foreign policy, it may as well play a key role in the next election.

That’s a pretty bizarre situation when you think about it: a nation of about 7 million weighing so heavily in the most intimate affairs of a nation of about 320 million. Not only do Israel’s narrow self-interests constitute a supremely influential special interest in the internal affairs of the United States, but Israel’s long-term interests are often directly at odds with America’s long-term interests. America’s own election-finance system is responsible for the situation, but that is something unlikely to be sorted out within the lifetime of any reader.

The relationship between Israel and the United States resembles one of those marriages we read about now and then in the news that is so dysfunctional one of the spouses kills the other.

Readers may enjoy this analysis of a while ago:

John Chuckman



I don’t know about Sarah Palin’s “soul,” whatever that is, and I very much doubt anyone else does either.

But I do know she is a perfect example of a person almost exploding with ambition and having almost no talents beyond a pretty smile.

Her entire career is an example of someone completely ignoring the wise and ancient words, “Know thyself.”

First, she is genuinely stupid. It took her 6 years at 5 different institutions to finally get a BA in a vacuous subject like “communications.”

This says a lot because anyone who knows American post-secondary education knows there are thousands of marginal colleges which award BAs pretty much just for attending and paying your fees.

She lacks the most basic qualities of application and perseverance, having resigned half way into what is certainly the simplest executive government job in America, the governorship of thinly-populated Alaska.

She was also involved in minor corruption in Alaska.

She did some incredibly stupid and embarrassing things as John McCain’s running mate.

Most notably, the Republicans gave her a generous line of credit to keep her wardrobe up for the campaign. This woman grossly overcharged the account, buying clothes not only for herself but for her entire family. It was a scandal, but it was kept fairly quiet.

Later, she was advised to “make hay while the sun shines” with speaking engagements, which have become something of an American institution for anyone enjoying their 15 minutes of fame. She went around giving speeches with zero content at $100,000 a pop, making millions from suckers who seek celebrities, even silly ones. This is, after all, the Age of Oprah Winfrey who has become a billionaire giving America such little circus acts accompanied by moral bromides.

Sarah even got her pathetic daughter into the act at $30,000 a pop, this a woman with literally nothing to talk about, not even “family values.”

These are pathetic people who should never have been involved in politics, but the example of George Bush was prominent and had set a precedent.

Bush was almost certainly the most ignorant and unintelligent person ever to serve as president. In some ways he proved America does not even need a president. Of course, the real power in those years was Dick Cheney, an intelligent, ruthless, and malevolent man, assisted by Donald Rumsfeld.

Some thought the trick could be repeated but with a pretty face, and Sarah had so little sense of herself she went along gleefully for the ride.

It is hard to have any sympathy for a person of her demonstrated lack of good sense, thinking she could be so much more than she almost certainly had to know she was.

At any rate, she is a success, of sorts. She’s worth millions, doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to do, and still has a following in trailer parks across America.



John Chuckman



I just want to know why Amol Rajan bothers to write when he has nothing to say?

Seems like the ultimate expression of vanity to me.

Corbyn has only held the job of leader a short time, yet here is a man saying he isn’t working out.

And during that short time, he has been under constant attack about every petty detail down to what he wears on his feet.

This is an intelligent, thoughtful, and decent man.

Is there then no longer a place in British politics for such a man?

If that is the case, then I think Britain has a lot more to worry about than whether Corbyn wears the right shoes.

The Independent seems to work night and day to tear a good man down.

I guess it isn’t just the Rupert Murdochs of this world with whom we need be concerned over the very future of democracy.

John Chuckman



I have rarely seen such an unperceptive and truly meaningless piece of writing. It is a very good example of words used just to hear yourself.

“Once more, America will have to step in to save us…”

What an incredibly patronizing statement, loaded with unwarranted assumptions, the smugness of a David Cameron, and the insouciance of a would-be Paris salon hostess.

How can a country which cannot run its own affairs help anyone? America is in bad shape on almost every front, yet it insists on a new monomaniacal drive to re-make the face of the earth.

And how is that drive financed in a country which cannot balance its books, its trade balances, or any other measure of self-regulation you care to cite? By abusing its fortunate position as world reserve currency, pumping out endless dollars for all the world’s suckers to hold.

In fact, America is the source of many of Europe’s greatest problems.

It was America’s irresponsible, greed-based financial crisis in 2008 that tipped the world into dangerous economic territory from which it has not recovered.

It is American aggressive policies which are pushing Europe into untenable positions vis-a-vis Russia, a natural partner for Europe in everything from energy supplies to a market for consumer goods and farm products.

Aggressive American policies have pushed Europeans towards greater military spending at a time when realistically it is completely unnecessary.

NATO itself is today nothing but a mechanism to keep America at the center of European affairs, a very costly mechanism both in terms of military spending and in terms of divisiveness with Europe’s natural partners.

It is American aggressive policies concerning the Mideast which have caused all the misery of Syria and Libya and Iraq, resulting in all the terrible migration of refugees.

It is American influence, especially through its unceasing facilitator, Ms. Merkel, that has transported these woes into Europe.

Look at the madman, Erdogan, an unbalanced and genuinely dangerous man, and the risky games Europe is driven to play with him.

Europe, left to itself, might end many of its relations with him, but it is American insistence on the geo-political importance of Turkey that keeps Europe from responding as it should.

Good God, what could be more insane than a member of NATO shooting down a Russian plane and then running behind NATO’s skirts? It reflects the same insanity which drives Erdogan to slaughter Kurds, imprison journalists, and assassinate opponents.

The sum total of American policies is effectively crushing Europe almost like a glacier rolling over the continent, and here is this silly salon-voice saying you need more.


Response to another reader’s comment:

American policy has generated the refugee crisis which is the cause of most xenophobic reactions in Europe.

Any country would be hard pressed to accommodate what is happening today.

Every population has its share of nasty people who will react badly to such huge new stresses.

Every population has a natural distribution of everything from plug-uglies to mental cases. You can’t make that fact go away. Wise governments don’t create situations which stress them and bring them to the fore.

But Europe under American influence has done just that.

I cannot imagine a more bankrupt policy than paying a violent lunatic like Erdogan – a key player in creating the horror – to help, but that is what Europe is doing.

John Chuckman



Of course the Israeli Defense Minister prefers ISIS to Iran. Big surprise.

Israel has been a major secret collaborator in creating and supporting ISIS.

It is a tiresome game that has been going on.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey – both low-key allies of Israel now for some years – are not doing work of which Israel disapproves.

Ever notice how ISIS never attacks Israel or Israeli interests, just makes the odd vague threat to maintain its credibility as a radical outfit? Of course, it is the same for Saudi Arabia and its interests, the Saudis being a paymaster who is never threatened.

Israel has become a kind of genuine nightmare in the Middle East, contributing to instability and destruction and death in every direction.

It is opposed to Iran only because Iran is potentially the Middle East’s big player, the role it covets for itself.

All Israel’s rubbish about Iran’s existential threat is just that, rubbish.

Iran has never threatened Israel, but Israel has busied itself with threatening Iran regularly and even assassinating Iranians.

Indeed, modern Iran has never started a war with anyone, while Israel has attacked every neighbor that it has, some many times.

Israel is able to play this ugly game only from behind American protection, a rather cowardly position like the proverbial calling someone names from behind your mother’s skirts.

By the way, Obama has for the most part catered to Israel’s unending and tiresome demands on many fronts, as has been the case for so many senior American politicians, Israel’s well-financed and coordinated lobby holding their public declarations of loyalty to ransom.

But in the one matter of not allowing war with Iran to be started, he has made himself the most hated American president in Israel’s brief history, while doing one of the only genuinely worthwhile things of his presidency.

John Chuckman



British people forget how many terrible things were done in the name of the empire, or, as in the case of Americans, they perhaps simply never knew.

Virtually nothing ISIS has done was not done in one form or another on behalf of the British Empire.

Machine-gunning of crowds, aerial bombardment of civilians, use of poison gas, assassinations, and many other horrors.

Just as individuals have a built-in tendency to forget horrors as a protection of mental health, so too do nations.

It is also wise to remember that Britain has secretly supported ISIS.

David Cameron well knows that ISIS is the child of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and America.

Have you ever heard him complain about the horrors those countries have caused?

No, of course not, you’ve only heard him call ISIS names while going right ahead with stuff like large weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.


Response to a reader comment:

The point of looking at old horrors is to remind people that people are still people.

Ancient Hebrews and ISIS? Virtually same thing, if the Old Testament is to be believed.

British Empire and ISIS? Often the same thing.

Now America is a very special case. It has murdered at least 6 million people since the end of WWII in its quest to dominate the globe.

And of course just before that it used atomic weapons, twice, and on civilians.

It was prepared to use them 12 times on 12 non-military urban targets if it didn’t receive “unconditional” surrender, the Japanese having already signalled their desire to surrender.

The American record is a true horror, not all that different to Germany’s efforts at dominance.

And the Americans are still at it, on all fronts.

Why anyone thinks of America as a decent place, as a repository of human values, is beyond me.


Response to a comment about use of the atomic bomb:

The Japanese had already signalled their readiness to surrender.

They only wanted to keep the emperor.

But the American view was “absolute and unconditional” surrender.

Now in the end, as we all know, America did leave the emperor in place, but that was after two atomic bombs on civilians and Japan’s literally grovelling.

Your silly stuff about American lives being saved is well-known American propaganda since there was no need for an invasion of a country already willing to surrender.

It stands as a shameful set of events, and simply marks, like a shot over the bow, America’s declaration of world domination.

John Chuckman



Can Dundar is a good and brave man.

Erdogan is a terrifying phenomenon, and the EU should have nothing to do with him.

But of course the reason the EU behaves the way it does with Turkey is entirely owing to America’s now-unhealthy influence.

America has reduced Europe almost to a colony which must follow the “mother county’s” guidance in all things, even when something is against Europe’s own interests.

Things like supporting – both implicitly and explicitly – the horrors of Syria, horrors induced entirely as part of American policy in combination with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

The Syrian horror has not just killed a lot of innocent people, it has helped create a refugee crisis which seriously threatens the stability of Europe.

Things like enforcing senseless measures against Russia simply for its opposing ugly American policy in Ukraine.

Europe is hurting its own economy in order to support anti-democratic policies associated with a coup government so incompetent that it fights its own people.

Europe’s independent voice is not heard any more on these and other serious matters.

Erdogan, the sick monster now running Turkey is always supported by the U.S. because Turkey is regarded as such an important geo-political asset against Russia. This is a situation which serves no one’s legitimate interests, unless you count America’s idea that it must be in control.

John Chuckman



This is silly.

There is no apparent race problem in Hollywood.

There is, very much, a problem with quality and artistic integrity.

Hollywood produces reels and reels of crap.

And the Oscars have never had anything, except peripherally, to do with quality and merit.

They are completely a marketing tool. Good pictures have been ignored. Bad pictures have won.

One of the worst films ever to win anything was Butterfield Eight, a literally unwatchable piece of crap awarded because Elizabeth Taylor, a big money-maker for the studios, was seriously ill.

Oscar awards are regularly influenced by mindless fads too, as the huge number going to a pretty mediocre film like Dances with Wolves.

It is not the creative people involved with the machinery of the Oscars, it is a group of cigar-chomping money guys who look only to promote their own pictures for additional profits.

These are not the kind of people who think about balance or equality any more than they think of artistic merit or subtlety.

John Chuckman



“Killing the planet’?

Language just doesn’t come more absurd than that.

Our planet is just a huge mass of stone and metal hurtling through space.

Water from passing comets over the eons has given it oceans and lakes.

It is likely that of the almost certainly millions of such planets in the universe, some, by one means or another, reach a point of no longer supporting life.

But even that may be a stretch.

The life-force is just so powerful. It was noticed about two or three weeks after the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima that weeds began to poke up in the cracks in the pavement.

And earth has had a number of extinctions, but it is still teeming with life.

The green extremists are just a new form of religion, and anyone who refers to “killing the planet” is a green extremist.

Please, it has never been nice or even civil to toss garbage around, but that has nothing to do with planetary survival, whatever that is.

John Chuckman



There is a very big difference between Trump and Palin, one not noted in the article.

Trump, despite some awful views, is essentially an intelligent person. Sometimes smart people embrace bad views.

Palin, however, and I don’t know why few ever say it in the press, is simply stupid. She says things which are just plain stupid many times, and not just things which are controversial.

Palin didn’t have the ability to even finish her one term as governor of one of smallest-population and least complicated states in the union.

Palin also took 6 years at 5 different colleges to earn a BA in a “bird” subject like “communications.”

Now, for those who understand American education, that says a very great deal.

There are so many marginal to nearly worthless academic institutions in America run as for-profit businesses, where you can sail through virtually buying a degree, that her educational Odyssey is bizarre and telling.

But she still has, remarkably enough, a bit of a fan club out there, and Trump’s shrewd enough to exploit it.

John Chuckman



The Toronto Star is a genuinely mediocre paper, and has been so for years.

It is also one that is having financial problems, having just announced the closing of a 25-year old major printing plant and the laying off of staff.

Considering these things, it is not surprising that The Star tries to juice things up with emotional nonsense.

Anyway, sadly, the overwhelming majority of Canadians live in a band of about a hundred miles from the American border, a population-density map making Canada look much like a three-thousand mile stick. So we are unavoidably inundated with news from America, which is the same thing as saying, inundated by American propaganda.

By the way, The Star recently stopped all commenting by readers on its site which is of course effectively a kind of censorship. It wasn’t a big loss because their commenting restrictions were always limiting.

John Chuckman



Paul, if you are aware of even one week in human history when the world was not awash with hatred, please let me know.

We are nothing but chimpanzees with larger brains, and, as we know, modern studies of those cute and appealing creatures have demonstrated them as being quite vicious and murderous.

I don’t know what Mein Kampf returning to Germany has to do with anything serious or dangerous, but just bringing it up and associating it with some other larger events demonstrates bias.

This is a tedious, antiquated book which would not even be understood by many today. There is no magical mumbo-jumbo in this book to capture people’s minds.

It is a threat to no one except in some imaginations.

But ignorance very much is a threat to all of us.

The book is of interest to scholars and historians, so why shouldn’t it be available?

Indeed, in Hitler’s day, the book became a kind of social token, much like the Bible, with nice editions being presented as gifts on marriages or birthdays.

Virtually no one ever read it then, just as few read the Bible today.

And, if you want a written record of bloodshed, injustice and hatred, you would have a mighty hard time doing better than the Old Testament.

It was Hitler’s strange brooding personality and gift for fiery live speech that gave him any appeal, but we should always remember he never got more than 37% of the vote in free elections.

He was appointed Chancellor by the ancient President von Hindenburg trying to save his county from chaos in the streets.

After that, Hitler seized power through a series of dark operations, such as the Reichstag Fire, which together amounted to a coup.

Why had the streets of Germany become such a mess that Hindenburg, an old school German officer, appointed someone he genuinely didn’t like?

Because the fine, liberal-spirited government, known as the Weimar Republic, which arose in Germany after WWI was allowed to fall to pieces by Western interests. It wasn’t helped in its many serious problems.

We see such patterns today, but not in the places you may think. We see it in Syria where a tolerant and reasonably fair government is under savage attack by foreigner-subsidized lunatics.

We see it in Libya where America and others decided to destroy a man who once ran his state reasonably well.

We see it in Egypt where absolute government has returned.

We see it in Iraq, a once prosperous country with a growing middle class which undoubtedly would have become democratic eventually, left to its own devices.

None of these events were normal and a result of internal forces.

They all involve external interference and manipulation, the chief players being the United States and its associates in the region.

Now, there’s the real concern for thoughtful people who want peace and justice.

John Chuckman



“Liberal left”?

Charlie Hebdo?

This is a fantasy idea.

Hebdo is a nasty little publication which attacks a select group of targets, largely Muslims and Catholics, with cheap, obscene cartoons.

They are self-satisfied, gleeful attacks on the solemn views of others, much resembling a gang of arrogant teenagers giving “the finger” to some passing old folks.

Ugly attitude is accompanied by an immense sense of self-importance, much like some graffiti scribbler who fancies himself the reincarnation of Voltaire.

Hebdo has a phony kind of free-spirit image, yet it very much functions as an organ of hate and propaganda.

I am not questioning its right to do what it does. Rather I am putting into perspective what it actually does. You would never recognize Hebdo from the high-sounding clap-trap regularly published about it in France or Britain, much of it seeming to confuse a nasty squib with Emile Zola’s J’ accuse.

Readers who would appreciate a longer, serious exploration of the matter should see:

John Chuckman



Foreign aid by governments, in general, has little to do with helping people, although speeches on the subject always contain the empty words.

Most of foreign-aid payments are effectively bribes used to influence the behavior of states, especially in the donor county’s receiving votes of support in international institutions and forums. Being a sizable donor gives a government the power – and it is used often, but always on a confidential basis – to threaten to stop or reduce payments.

It is not unlike the “pensions” that one state – say, France or Spain – awarded individuals in other states – say, an important high official in Britain – in the sixteenth century. The “pensions” were about influence.

Corrupt politician-recipients, who generally use the money for their own security, are tolerated by donor countries so long as they do what is expected at key times.

This basic way of operating foreign aid is a major reason for its often being such a visible failure, but I do not see how it can be any different, people being what they are, and I mean by that politicians, both the David Camerons doing the giving and the third-world leaders socking it away in Swiss Bank accounts.

John Chuckman



David Cameron, Absolute Non-leader.

This whole ridiculous mess of a referendum on EU membership was simply not necessary.

A real leader would not have allowed it to happen.

There must be dozens of genuine problems in British society requiring the attention of a serious government.

But, no, Britain is saddled with the complete and consuming foolishness of whether to exit the EU.

British Ministers squabble over whether they should be allowed to campaign for exit.

I’m waiting to hear that members of the government are painting the roses red.

David desperately attempts to find a justification for his silliness by extracting some token concessions from the EU. In doing this, he is also saying the same rules should not apply to all, but is that not one of his most cherished political beliefs guiding his work as prime minister?

Now, good old David of the democratic spirit promises that even if defeated on so major an issue, he will remain as PM. As though any but a tight minority even cared.

Real leaders simply do not behave this way.

It’s rather like having Daffy Duck – or maybe I should say, Porky Pig? – as prime minister, isn’t it?

John Chuckman



You should be ashamed of yourself publishing such American propaganda.

The Russians are doing as careful a job as it is possible to do, and they are, unlike the United States, shooting at the true villains.

Russian intelligent missiles and bombs have proved highly effective, and Russia’s scrupulous effort to double-check targets has been well done.

These claims of civilian deaths you have published are just part of a stream of nonsense we’ve seen flowing from the Pentagon, reflecting their suppressed fury over Putin’s success.

Russia’s effectiveness speaks for itself. The Syrian Army has the upper hand again. Turkey – a major terrorist – is licking its wounds and America’s rear-end more than ever.

Recent success in Iraq by the Iraqis fighting ISIS also owes a considerable debt to the Russian effort, even though American and American-oriented news sources never say so.

Russia’s record for scrupulous effort shines compared to that of the United States in its many blitzes against not terrorism but governments which behave with any independence, often bombing things like hospitals and schools, often using carpet bombing, cluster bombs, and incendiary materials like white phosphorus.

And look at the horrors of Yemen brought to you by David Cameron’s good friend, the insane King of Saudi Arabia.

Or how about the deliberate bombing by Israel, another David Cameron friend, in Gaza, slaughtering 2,200 people? The Guardian never dwells on that. Never publishes a photo. And there’s plenty to photograph since Israel won’t even allow Gaza to import cement to repair homes, schools, and public sanitation.

By the way, after all the pompous posing and name-calling by David Cameron in the bombing debate, it has been noticed that new Russian air defences have pretty well turned off the British effort quietly.

David looks sillier than ever.

John Chuckman



I believe increasingly that Trump must win, and I say that without being an admirer of his.

He comes with some terrible baggage, but on a couple files, he’s the only one saying anything worth saying.

Maybe that’s what America needs to make even a little progress, to elect someone who overall is pretty unpleasant but who brings real change to a couple of files. Maybe that’s the best anyone can hope for a country like America. It is particularly in foreign affairs that he speaks a couple of penetrating truths.

Hillary has absolutely nothing to say worth hearing. In foreign affairs, she has been a complete creature of the Pentagon and American imperialism. In domestic affairs, she’s not progressive, and she’s not liberal. And she is just so contorted in her dishonesty, you cannot make sense of her from one day until the next.

She is a genuine exploiter of the old idea of the Democratic Party, now dead, as a party which does something for ordinary people, but that is simply not what that party has been for about half a century.

In office, she would have most of Trump’s ugly qualities and none of his few merits.

Basically, she wants – wants is too weak a word, she is totally obsessed with – the distinction of being the first woman president.

Now that would be just fine, had she something to offer people, but she does not.

Again, she stands for absolutely nothing any thoughtful person would call progress, especially in foreign affairs.


Response to another comment saying the Republican Party was just terrible and the Democrats were needed:

I don’t think that’s true.

The Democratic Party also is a terrible institution.

It hasn’t had a good idea in forty years.

America’s entire political system is bent, bent entirely towards the interests of the 1%.

Hillary serves the interests of the 1% in virtually everything she does.

Then she goes out and makes some vacuous speeches to others, trying to assure them she’s in fact in their corner.

The woman is a tiresome fraud and liar.


John Chuckman



I think you’ve got it all wrong.

Whatever Trump may be, Bill Clinton qualifies as trash, as he has demonstrated many times.

It’s not just his tiresome efforts to make-out with every woman he ever meets.

But here is a guy who has the distinction of having oral sex with a young intern in the Oval Office, leaving a smarmy, indelible image in all our minds associated with that place.

Most people believe sex with people under your immediate authority is quite unethical, and it will get you fired in many corporations and organizations.

And as Clinton tried to explain his way out of that scandal, we saw first-hand another unpleasant portion of his character, an endless stream of smirky word games and shameless lies.

Apart from all the unpleasantness he lodged in our memories, Clinton had not a serious achievement as President, unless you count destroying a new pharmaceutical plant in North Africa.

His bombing of the capital of Serbia was disgraceful and unnecessary, and it included the deliberate targeting of a broadcast headquarters for Serbian television journalists, many of whom were killed.

He was a total coward when it came to the horrors of Rwanda, of which he was aware before any of us through State department and CIA reports. He did nothing. Going well beyond doing nothing, Clinton ordered staff and State Department to keep the story quiet.

In his Washington political appointments, Clinton again proved himself a coward. Time after time, he would name some impressive person to a post, then stall and back off against harsh opposition pressure, withdrawing his support and their nominations, leaving them out to be pilloried and embarrassed by ignorant Republican accusations. It was shabby behavior he repeated several times.

His achievements on the domestic front were zero, unless you count his signing of a huge bill “to end welfare in our time,” as he bragged in describing it. That was some achievement for a “liberal!”

I do not understand admiration for this man. It’s as though people confused a big rubbery-faced smile and an “aw shucks,” downhome act with real achievements.

Yes, he was much smarter and less immediately repulsive than George Bush, but that’s not much of a merit.

He and Hillary – a woman who perfectly matches him in his every quality of dishonesty, greed, and lack of principle – tried to establish a national health care scheme, but they failed utterly. Even had they succeeded, their proposal would have been a sad thing pretty much like Obamacare, a nasty compromise with the insurance industry, which would likely have collapsed before very long.

He did not deserve to be impeached, and I said so strongly at the time, writing a long lead letter in The Times, which earned me hate mail from the Right Wing.

But not deserving to be impeached is hardly a merit.

He and Hillary set an appalling record of grubbing for money in office, perhaps only matched by the repulsive Lyndon Johnson. Clinton was the first president to offer donors in exchange for contributions of a certain size – if I recall it was a quarter million dollars – a luxury night in the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House.

He and Hillary have become quite wealthy by extorting huge contributions to their “foundation” from wealthy special interests, including foreign governments, in return for favorable hearings of their cases. It is a foundation which does little in the way valuable work – unlike for example the Carter Center – while providing occasional political slush funds and a hugely-overpaid job for their relatively unqualified daughter.

Clinton has long been a close friend of billionaire, Jeffrey Epstein, who just happens to be a convicted pedophile. He lives on a private island and purchases a steady supply of underage women, sharing them with guests like Bill who stay there periodically.

Bill really is not just trash, he is world-class trash.

John Chuckman



“The existence of thousands of species may well depend on it.”

That is a statement which actually says nothing. It cannot be an argument for doing anything, much less launching gigantic, costly projects on a planetary scale.

We simply have not established humanity’s responsibility for climate change.

There would be no conflicts or contradictions otherwise, as there very much are.

Yes, we have climate change, just as the earth has had for the entire existence of its climate.

As for losing species, one could likely fill a large book just with the names of species which have disappeared over the last several million years, including, importantly, human-like species.

And we seem to discover new species now regularly with our improved technologies, so we have certainly have lost species we never even known existed.

The earth – like the universe – evolves, and it never stops evolving until the ultimate and unavoidable end of its own existence a few billion years from now when our sun becomes a nova and burns it to a cinder or when the Andromeda Galaxy collides with our own as it is on course for doing in a few billion years, whichever comes first.

Planets rise and fall, suns rise and fall, and galaxies rise and fall – that is the universe in which we live. It is chaotic, and the vast forces relentlessly at work take no account of any species.

The kind of thinking embedded in an article of this nature is really just an update of the same old Christian-Hebrew stuff about God having created every last species in a perpetual world of unchangeable, divine perfection. We have Noah’s creatures, marching two-by-two into the Ark to be saved from the God’s promised vengeance of flood at humanity’s misbehaviour.

The names have changed – including pretty much the dropping of God from the picture – but the view and the message are precisely the same. It all reminds me of today’s many overly-earnest young adults who believe with a religious passion that exactly what they do or do not eat is a matter of eternal salvation much resembling taking Holy Communion.

If science proves unambiguously that human actions are accelerating or disturbing the natural course of changes in climate, I will be among the first to embrace it, but science has not yet done that.

Even then, it will be important to assess the relative costs of taking vast and costly measures versus society’s simply adapting to change before launching earth-scale projects of unknown effectiveness.

Arguments about this or that species which may not survive are virtually without logical force, considering history. We’ve watched many, many species disappear just since Darwin’s day, and of course the entire population of the earth, virtually every species, has changed since the end of the dinosaurs about 60 million years ago. And a good thing, too, or we would not even be here.

Calls for massive, world-scale programs on the basis of no certain knowledge remind me of nothing so much as the proposed vast projects in the old Soviet Union to alter the courses of entire vast river systems and the like.


Response to another reader’s comment:

I have planted a great many trees in my lifetime, but only because I love trees, not because I thought I was “saving the planet.”


John Chuckman



Sorry, but it is simply not true that the Second Amendment is about opposing tyranny.

I believe that you cannot read the Second Amendment clearly and come to that conclusion.

However, technically true or not, such claims are ridiculous because they ignore the concrete realities of power today.

Consider the forces at the disposal of a modern American government wanting to enforce its will.

A massive armed forces, equipped with every weapon you can imagine.

America’s Reserves and National Guards equipped with many heavy-duty weapons.

America’s huge and militarized police forces.

City Police.

State Police.

County Police.

America’s huge and militarized TSA.

The FBI.

The ATF.

The DEA.

The Secret Service.

The Federal Air Marshals.

The CIA and other security agencies.

Just where does anyone see the remotest possibility of citizens with rifles – or even machine guns, if you will – standing up against laws they do not like when the laws are enforced by this horrendous collection of force?

American officials are the most over-armed on earth, and I think it’s time to stop Jeffersonian fantasies about returning to 1790 or thereabouts. Jefferson’s views were not realistic even in his own day – for example, he had a very poor grasp of economics and some pretty flaky ideas of sturdy yeomen and didn’t like industry – and today, in a complex and globe-straddling empire, they are just bad jokes. If you embrace bad jokes as wisdom, you only assist powerful modern authorities to impose bad rules.

America can never be what “patriot” or “militia” or even silly “tea party” types want to think that it can. It just literally cannot happen. There is a definite kind of blurry religious thinking which fogs these matters in America, the religious thinking of what has been called the American Civic Religion with its Scriptures: the Constitution and Declaration of Independence; its Twelve Apostles: the Founding Fathers; and its secular Saints: Jefferson being the central figure almost like St. Peter. And we all know that states guided by religion are dangerous and undesirable.

By the way, even in Jefferson’s day, these backwoods wet dreams of how government should be were impossible. The Great Sage himself had no patience for those who opposed his policies as President, policies such his embargo of Britain which was quite nasty and hurtful to many, and he didn’t hesitate to be ruthless with the use of force against opponents.

People who see him as a benevolent figure, walking with feet barely touching the ground and spouting gems of wisdom about government, almost like lines of poetry, simply do not know the man. He was sneaky and ruthless in grasping for power and going after his enemies, but he also served as his own public relations or propaganda official with his writing providing a pleasant gloss for history.

It’s time to wake up and think about what you can do to make America a better place. That is a gigantic task, and I am not sure that it is even possible given the country’s ethics of imperialism and militarism, but private guns have no role to play in any case.

John Chuckman



This re-make of “Anne of Green Gables” sounds as sensible as “Little House on the Prairie” relocated to Fort Apache, the Bronx.

“Anne of Green Gables” IS Prince Edward Island and the values of another era.

Switching to a small US town is just with the hope of attracting American viewers at the cost of the story’s integrity.

“Anne’s issues are contemporary issues: feminism, prejudice, bullying and a desire to belong.”

That is undiluted puke from a pop psychology book or an insipid circular from the Board of Education.

And what an outlandish and just plain dishonest claim it is, having almost nothing to do with Anne.

This is a mindless waste of time and effort by the CBC and all concerned.

John Chuckman



This sounds like pure propaganda to me.

How do such groups manage to make recruitment films?

How do they distribute them?

If they are on the Internet, why couldn’t the NSA find them in 30 minutes, the same NSA that manages to listen to Angela Merkel’s phone?

The establishment – and especially those establishment figures who are neo-cons or who are associated with lobbying for Israel, the people who have driven American foreign policy for years – are becoming terrified at the idea of this man’s winning.

He has never made an anti-Israel statement so far as I know, but somehow these groups “know” he is a threat.

It is actually quite an interesting phenomenon.

It does tend to confirm that our press and political figures only embrace those who toe the line on existing American-set policies.

After all, the entire reason for the bloody savagery of the Iraq War was that Saddam did not toe the line.

And it is exactly the same for Gadaffi and the horror that has been made of Libya.

The only reason that Syria has been torn apart is Assad’s independent mindedness, and he is a leader who runs a state that protects religious minorities and he is supported by the majority of Syrians.

So why would it be any different in internal American affairs such as a national election?

It’s not.

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