Archive for March 2016

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ROBERT FISK ASKS WHY DAVID CAMERON IS SILENT ON THE GREAT PALMYRA VICTORY OF SYRIA AND RUSSIA – A FEW REFLECTIONS ON BRITAIN’S PRIME MINISTER

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY ROBERT FISK IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

Easy answer to the question: because David Cameron is a political pygmy, and not a statesman.

He is Elmer Fudd, not Churchill.

And remember, Cameron has always been part of the cheerleading section for this horrible work in Syria, the grisly work of America, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

Cheerleaders like Cameron or Hollande have spouted off, hypocritically, about terror while they fully supported, in secret, five years of terror inflicted upon the beautiful land of Syria.

But a real statesman acts, and acts supported by facts and reason, and Putin is our best living example of that.

But of course, in our Washington-scripted version of events, Putin is a villain. After all, what else can justify the insane activities of NATO in Eastern Europe after an American-engineered coup in Ukraine?

What the battered Syrian army has done with the assistance of Russia is pretty close to a miracle.

I was especially moved by the Russian Special Forces soldier- used to spot and confirm targets, a practice which has produced an exemplary record of accurate Russian bombing – who, when he found himself surrounded by ISIS, called in an air strike on his own position. That is simply heroism beyond describing.

Most telling about ISIS is that this supposedly wild-eyed fundamentalist bunch never touches Israel or Israeli interests.

And the same for Saudi Arabia and Saudi interests.

It has all been a gigantic, violent fraud perpetrated by America and its allies.

And it all points to how badly we are governed, with our governments regularly lying to us while squandering our taxes in the service of special interests.

Think of all the money wasted in destroying Syria and of all the good things that might have been done instead with it.

Disabled people in Britain? We have no money for that says David Cameron.

We’re spending big on the murderous desires of special interests.

And we are also profiting from lovely people like King Salman in Saudi Arabia, selling them things to assist in killing still more women and children in Yemen.

That ugly set of facts describes the world in which we live today, represented by leaders of no ability or ethics who know only special interests and doing what America’s imperial government tells them to do.

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Posted March 31, 2016 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: OLIVER JAMES AND HIS YOU CAN’T “BLAME THE GENES” REDUX – NURTURE VERSUS NATURE YET AGAIN – SOME OF THE MOST OBVIOUS EXAMPLES OF HOW IMPORTANT GENES ARE

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

 

Sorry, I think you are just wrong, Oliver James, about not being able to “blame the genes.”

Nurture over nature is a common contemporary prejudice, but it does not stand up to examination.

I certainly support nurturing, but we should be aware of the limits always.

In any field from sports to playing an instrument, we know that native talent always wins the day no matter how much nurturing goes on.

You cannot make someone with the talent to be an acceptable pop piano player into a Rubenstein. It just cannot be done.

And each year in America, literally millions of kids play Little League Baseball, many of them, often joined by their parents, dreaming of making it into the “big leagues,” but there are only something on the order of 600 people at any time who get to do so.

Those are pretty terrible odds that completely favor natural talent. If you bet against them, working as hard as possible, you are sure to lose.

And so it is with all fields of effort in academics from languages to maths.

The trouble with emphasizing nurture so much is all the terrible pressures it puts on teachers and coaches from all the parents who aren’t happy with what their child has proved capable of.

It is also unfair to children who are bound to be disappointed by false promises.

And, in the end, the religion of nurture – for that is just what it is, religion, not science – just leads society and institutions off onto false paths

_______________________________

Response to another reader:

But, oh, how wrong you are.

There are countless cases of people with good minds surviving and thriving bad homes, bad institutions, wars, catastrophes, etc.

Really terrible homes tend to point to lack of mental talent in the parents in the first place.

Not always, but I think often enough to form a pretty good working assumption.

 

Posted March 31, 2016 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: BOOK WITH SUPPOSED DEFINITIVE ACCOUNT OF LITVINENKO MURDER – BUT THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE – A SUGGESTION OF WHAT MAY REALLY HAVE HAPPENED – AND WHAT OF THAT OTHER AND MORE IMPORTANT CASE OF POLONIUM POISONING?

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A REVIEW OF A BOOK CALLED A VERY EXPENSIVE POISON IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

I do not see how there can be a “definitive account of Litvinenko murder.”

We do not know accurately what happened, full stop.

And we don’t know what Litvenko himself was up to with British intelligence.

This claim for the book reminds me much of claims for latest book on the Kennedy assassination, a crime whose true details are hidden to this day.

Speaking of polonium in someone’s tea, about which there seems to be no end of talk and theories, what about the identical poison used on Yasser Arafat?

He was a much more important figure in the world than Litvenko, and in his case the polonium was in his toothpaste.

Just who in the Middle East had access to a radioactive element?

And just who had a powerful motive?

The answer seems pretty obvious, but we see no on-going controversy in a case of much greater consequences.

But of course the Arafat case offers no opportunity to attack Russia’s leader.

Readers may be interested:

http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/bombshell-french-counter-terror-boss-i-have-proof-who-killed-litvinenko-it-wasnt-russia

 

Posted March 31, 2016 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: SILLY COLUMN ON TRUMP’S SUPPOSED MYSOGYNY -THE USE OF AMERICAN POLL RESULTS IN JOURNALISM – INFLUENCE OF THE PRESS ON MEASURED PUBLIC OPINION – AND NAME-CALLING OF ANOTHER KIND

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY DIANE FRANCIS IN THE GUARDIAN

 

This is a pretty silly column.

A poll showing what groups of Americans think on any subject has little substance and certainly has little to do with journalism.

The last time I looked, close to half of Americans believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction still hidden.

The fact is the press, acting much like one big advertising campaign, weekly swings and colors American opinion, and, as I think it clear, the press, which is just one more large corporate special interest in America, does not like Donald Trump. In fact, it attacks him relentlessly.

Truly, misogyny is one of those words writers should use carefully. Cheap name-calling, something again we have truckloads of in America, isn’t pretty, and it isn’t journalism.

By all accounts Trump’s family relationships are warm and affectionate. His wife is a very intelligent woman who, apart from other accomplishments, speaks four languages. I find it hard to credit that she lives with genuine misogyny.

Trump does have a problem with his mouth, but it is not exclusive to the subject of women, and the fact is that he is part of the fabric of an entire country which has serious mouth problems. America is a rude, often uncouth, and violent place, full stop.

The President says stupid things regularly, as do many of the chief politicians in Congress.

I just love that closing with “…he responded with characteristic self-delusion.” So, Ms. Francis also is a psychiatrist?

The Guardian seriously needs to up its game on publishing opinion pieces.

Posted March 31, 2016 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE PHONY WORD “NEOLIBERALISM” AND HOW IT IS USED – POPE FRANCIS ON SOCIAL JUSTICE – HIS RECORD ON DISAPPEARED PEOPLE

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A BOOK REVIEW ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

 

I detest the term neoliberalism because it is a phony construction.

It is a way to apply the noble term “liberal” – and it is a noble term with a great history – to what amounts to brutal imperialism.

All great historical liberals would know immediately that is impossible.

The horrors of our world are the work of the so-called neoncons.

Pope Francis seems a decent enough man, so far as popes go, but I don’t think he has any special claims in fighting for social justice.

Everyone should recall that when Francis was a priest in Argentina under the military junta he never spoke up once against the horrors going on, people being “disappeared” in the night.

He knew about it, and he had a reputation for his unwillingness to do anything.

And so today, the same business is going on a global scale with America’s fleet of assassination drones regularly “disappearing” people in half a dozen countries.

Ever heard Francis speak to that?

Never.

Posted March 31, 2016 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE GUARDIAN’S LOIS BECKETT WRITES OF THE GUN VIOLENCE IN CHICAGO BUT SHE LACKS THE BACKGROUND TO GET IT RIGHT

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY LOIS  BECKETT  IN THE GUARDIAN

 

I’m sorry, but the problem is in the black community.

The level of violence among blacks in Chicago (and indeed in every other American city where there is a large black presence) has been high for all my life, only going up or down a little with events like the availability of new drugs or gang warfare over turf or indeed additional changes in population mix.

I grew up there.

This is a harsh social issue we never speak of.

It actually has little to do with guns, per se, except that they make the killing easier.

In my youth, knives were common.

The national stats are clear – and they unfortunately agree with those in other countries – black males are on the order of eight times as violent as others.

By the way, in a place like Jamaica – whose entire population no larger than Chicago’s – they have about 1,500 murders a year.

South Africa’s stats tell the same story, an extraordinary rate of murder as compared to, say, Canada or Northern Europe.

Posted March 31, 2016 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TRUMP SAYS NATO IS OBSOLETE AND IS HE EVER RIGHT

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

This is the smartest thing Trump, or any other candidate, has said to date.

NATO today has only two purposes, neither of which is for the benefit of Europeans.

One, it is essentially a way to occupy Europe without calling it occupation.

Two, it is called in to serve as a kind of fig leaf for American imperial adventures, a way of making America’s aims seem larger than they are in fact.

Posted March 31, 2016 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized