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Monthly Archives: February 2017

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RINF

 

 “Former US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has called for a “transformation” of his political party to win more support among the American public.”

Bernie is dreaming in Technicolor.

The Democratic Party is beyond becoming what he paints word pictures of.

It is a representative of the power establishment and totally dependent on that establishment.

But there is this consolation.

The Republican Party is mired in the just same place.

One man does not change a thing like the Republican Party.

Besides, the two parties are not the establishments, just useful tools.

And with each passing day it becomes clearer that Trump himself is being sucked into the same establishment.

Amazing parallels with Obama.

Trump’s press thing is an entertaining show only. It’s real, but it is surface not substance, being itself a reflection of changes underway with technological change in the news industry and aspects of Trump’s own personality.

Look at where the serious money is going.

$54 billion more dollars for America’s already immensely-bloated military?

Nothing about any kind of change in that.

The proposal could have been made by Hillary.

You create and sustain a massive military/security apparatus like America’s, and it takes on a life of its own.

And that’s where the American establishment’s real power is seen and felt, day-in, day-out.

You cannot run a huge empire and also a decent traditional society. It cannot be done. And whether the society has a superficial right or left tone makes absolutely no difference.

It’s like talking about Pepsi or Coke being best or being important in human affairs.

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John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

Response to another reader’s comment about globalization, migration, and automation having made Labour’s traditional purpose a thing of the past.

Very true, however what really matters with leadership is not slogans or platforms.

It is integrity.

I think Corbyn has it.

Blair and his acolytes lack it entirely.

The truth is we are in a state of constant change now owing to technology.

No slogan or platform can alter that.

And it will only get worse.

But the people making decisions through that change remain important, at least at this stage of evolution.

My idea of a leader is the person who can be trusted with making decisions from a perspective which is large.

The Tony Blairs of this world are quite the opposite. Dishonest, bought-and-paid-for, and willing to be ruthless enough to see millions die.

 

 

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY MANUEL ROIG-FRANZIA AND PAUL FARHI IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Breitbart News Network, accused of being a mouthpiece for xenophobes, racists and misogynists – and thrown into the spotlight this week by the resignation of its poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos for remarks on paedophilia – is so right wing it makes Fox News look like the BBC. Now that its former boss Steve Bannon is Trump’s chief strategist, nothing stands between its extremist stance and US presidential policy.”

There is no such thing as an unbiased press, always and everywhere.

Whoever pays for a press organization plus whoever feeds it information – those are the people whose interests are served by the organization.

There are no exceptions.

If you read only The Independent or only The New York Times or only Pravda, you will, to a certainty, be misinformed on certain important matters.

Saying anything else is just pure fantasy.

So, in a sense, the critics of new press organizations like Breitbart are correct – it is biased – but they are also wrong because everything else you can possibly read is also biased.

The critics are telling a partial truth, a partial truth being by its very nature not the truth at all.

That is the fundamental reason why the whole “fake news” controversy is itself fake. It’s just a new slogan from one of several biased sources attacking others.

You know the old warning about how nothing is actually free, no matter what the advertising claims say otherwise?

Well, it is exactly the same with accurate information. No one is offering it to you free, or even at the very modest price of a daily newspaper. Just think of the great cost of higher education or superb skills training of any kind.

Information, accurate information, is costly, and not always being measured in currency. It is often measured in the hard effort needed to obtain it.

The only way a conscientious individual can try to be informed, on either politically sensitive or international policy matters, is to read, or listen to, a significant variety of sources.

You must then interpolate, taking into account what each of them is trying hide or feature, and judge roughly where truth is.

It is much what a juror must do in a criminal trial, listening to two sides make arguments in opposite directions. The juror judges everything from the tone of voice to the facial expressions to determine who may be telling truth.

Lawyers know, too, and quite famously, that eyewitnesses are often highly undependable, peoples’ perceptions and mental abilities to process them varying greatly, to say nothing of vast differences in the quality of memories. Yet jurors still must make a determination in a trial based at least in part on what they say.

As a citizen, you are in a sense a juror in a trial, the trial of the veracity of your own press and your own government.

We all understand that government does many things for which it has no mandate from the people. And we all understand that the commercial press almost always supports a government in these deceptive acts.

If you look back, you’ll have a hard time finding press organizations who worked against Tony Blair’s criminal invasion and mass murder. And the same for Lyndon Johnson when he first started the holocaust in Vietnam (eventually, about 3 million Vietnamese were slaughtered, and for nothing but embracing the wrong loyalty).

By the way, the method for getting at approximate truth would be the same even if you were getting information directly from folks like CIA or MI6, organizations which also have tremendous bias and always use their privileged positions to influence their audience of high government officials in the direction they want them to go.

So-called “big intelligence” is infamous both for offering what it knows high government officials want to hear and for using their intimate access to advocate for things they themselves desire. There is simply no known way of avoiding this inevitable set of behaviors.

That is one of the reasons why Trump does not hold these people in quite the same regard as they themselves think that they should be held. The truth is, President Kennedy felt exactly the same way about the CIA. He just didn’t have the kind of personality Trump has, one which just blurts out what he is thinking.

We have many historical examples demonstrating the fact of security service bias and dishonesty -e.g., the CIA during the height of the Cold War never got its annual estimates of the USSR even close to right. The reason: they always wanted large increases in budget for themselves and for the armed forces, and they got them.

Honest journalism? It simply does not exist. Free press? A wise man in America said many decades ago that the only way to have a free press is to own one.

 

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF A COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY RON PAUL IN RINF

 

Contrary to followers of the American Civic Religion – people otherwise known as Patriots – who embrace America’s Constitution as a document of almost scriptural perfection, I’ve long believed that it was written containing many flaws and mistakes.

Or, to put the best possible face on it, America’s Constitution was written in a time (1787) immensely different in character to our own and by men whose interests – including, importantly, rich slaveholding planters – were not those of the majority of people even then, let alone now.

Over time, a few flaws have been corrected – e.g., the election, rather than appointment, of Senators in 1913. Although even with that change, the method of election deliberately maintains some of the characteristics of the original appointment provision, as with the election of Senators being staggered in such a fashion as to protect that powerful body from being held accountable to public opinion at any given time.

But many flaws remain, such as the antiquated and anti-democratic Electoral College, the Founders, most of them by their own admissions, being no admirers of democracy.

I’ve always included the Constitution’s designation of the President as Commander-in-Chief as one of these flaws, a very serious one.

The Founders felt safe, as a balancing measure, giving Congress the sole power to declare war, but that has become an irrelevant provision.

None of America’s wars – colonial dirty wars, virtually every one of them – is started by formal declaration of Congress.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY MARGARET REGAN IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“These are the shocking new powers police will have under Trump’s immigration measures” 

Sorry, but this author doesn’t know what she is writing about.

Police powers in the United States are, and have long been, frightening and extreme. That is nothing new.

Police kill about 1,100 people in the streets every year, plus wound many others, and there are almost no consequences for any of them, including those who shoot people in the back.

American police also ruthlessly employ RICO laws (anti-organized crime laws) to seize people’s personal effects, even when they are not the products of criminal activity. And they often do not return them.

They also routinely send in the armored guys in black suits to break down people’s front doors, sometimes in the middle of the night, ordering everyone to hit the floor and leaving them terrified. They do this sometimes on a mere malicious false tip about drugs. There’s even a word for doing this to someone as a dirty joke. It is called “swatting.”

Wake up to the fact that America is an extremely brutal place. I grew up there. I know.

That’s why the country is hyped and ready, at any time, to start some new killing abroad. Americans think nothing of it.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN ZERO HEDGE

 

“Homicides In 4 Cities Are Spiking to The Highest Levels In 20 Years”

I don’t pretend to know all of the causes, but I know for a fact that a majority of this violent activity is black-on-black. The statistics tell us this.

It is likely motivated by the drug trade and protection of territories.

Street drugs like heroin have increased markedly, and that reflects one thing primarily.

It is America’s war in Afghanistan, largely pointless and highly destructive, which has tremendously boosted the flow of heroin. We know this from a number of sources.

So, you can probably thank the US Army and the CIA.

Talk about Muslims being responsible, as I see in comments above, is completely uninformed and badly prejudiced.

The Taleban had drugs completely under control in Afghanistan before the US stupidly invaded, achieving nothing but a lot of death and whole new waves of drugs. After all, American official finance some of their operations off the books this way, and they also encourage various allied groups to assist by overlooking their drug activity.

It is just one more example of the in-built conflict between being a world imperial power pushing everyone around and having a government which concerns itself about its own people and having a decent society.

I had hoped Trump would be able to remedy some of America’s pointless imperial violence abroad, but it is beginning to look as though he’ll fail.

The unaccountable powers in Washington are that great, and they have almost unlimited resources.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN SPUTNIK

 

“Moscow has managed to break the chain of color revolutions in the Middle East, the Russian defense minister said

The so-called “color revolutions” and the Neocon wars demonstrate that America has learned how to apply dirty tricks to world affairs on a grand scale.

It is a very disheartening development.

But we know even from ordinary life that there are people among us who only want to hurt and destroy, people with various mental disorders.

Most laws in most places work to restrain such people.

But now we have an unbelievably well-financed institution like CIA which not only employs such people, they do so on a large scale and in many countries.

Free rein for the kind of sick people every human population produces in some proportion while supplying them all the resources and encouragement needed.

Actually, one might think the original model for this came from Israel, a place which has done nothing but attack and abuse those who disagree with it for over half a century.

But, of course, it is always possible to forget what Israel really is. It is an American colony in the Middle East, nothing more but nothing less. It has been so since the beginning, serving much the same purposes British colonies in the region served in the days of the Raj.

The colony has also served as a kind of large-scale experiment in warfare and in the control of large hostile native populations, yielding many useful lessons for America’s power establishment, the kind of lessons militaries learn from testing new weapons and tactics in regional interventions, lessons to be applied later to larger theaters.

It is truly possible that a very dark age lies ahead in world affairs.

And I am sorry to say that in the case of the United States, the man I had hoped might be able to put a stop to some of it is starting to look as though he will fail, utterly.

Rather than draining the swamp, Trump seems to be drowning in it.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN BLACKLISTED NEWS

 

It does appear that what so many hoped for from Trump may be slipping away, and by that I mean obtaining peace.

Rather than Trump draining the swamp, we have signs now that he is barely able to keep head above the water.

Going on about the press, however correct he may be, and spending huge efforts on the almost meaningless matter of temporarily banning migrants from certain countries is a bit like worrying about a scratch when you have blood throbbing from a wound somewhere else.

I very much hope I’m wrong, but there can be no good interpretation of this matter of Bolton or indeed of several other recent actions.

Threatening Iran? Giving the murderous Netanyahu a free ride? Sending troops to Syria? Recent events in Yemen?

And here we have one of most notorious Neocons being looked at for a post, and for a second time?

Bolton is one nasty piece of work, comparable in every way with Victoria Nuland. They breathe hate and death.

Simply not good, any of it.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY RUPERT CORNWELL IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Donald Trump can criticise the ‘mainstream media’ all he likes, the press will continue to do its job brilliantly”

Rupert Cornwell, if that is doing things brilliantly, well, then you must be one of our great political writers.

But your record speaks for itself, actually rather shabby, a life of scribbling propaganda and calling it political analysis.

In fact, the corporate press is suffering its worst time in ages. The industry, a mature one, is plainly in economic decline. In some cases, it plainly doesn’t have the resources to do the job well, as by having numerous foreign correspondents as it once had, even if doing the job well were its aim.

At the same time, new technology and new means of advertising are driving the creation and growth of new models for the distribution of news on the Internet.

In addition, the declining corporate press has been found openly colluding with various special interests, which sure removes the shine that supposedly comes with the word journalism. And even a child can see that it has acted out of immense negative bias against Trump.

There is almost no such thing as journalism and journalistic principles anymore in America or in much of Europe – that’s clear to many, not just Trump supporters.

The days of the Cold War also gave the press a special protective and nurturing environment, an environment of the forces of darkness versus the forces of light, the press being widely regarded as part of the forces of light.

That is gone, although the United States’ establishment – always including the corporate press as an intimate part of that establishment – is trying with its every fiber to re-create it, realizing what it has lost in many spheres, from unquestioned authority and playing the role of good guy – getting the role of Jimmy Stewart opposing Yuri Andropov – to facing new forms of competition. For the power establishment, peace and peaceful competition are not always the same good things most humans being accept them to be.

Who wants, people in Washington ask themselves, people in Europe using Russian natural gas or reading RT? And, so, ipso facto, Obama’s regrettable legacy of re-kindling the Cold War with everything from a shameless coup against a democratic government in Ukraine to tanks rumbling through Europe’s villages and towns to be emplaced threateningly in entrenchments on the Russian border and charming enforcers like Victoria “Fuck Europe!” Nuland being given high posts of influence there.

Well, that wasn’t even true then, as we know from the existence of things like unreported and unquestioned dark operations by a totally unethical CIA, everything from the civilian killings in Western Europe under Operation Gladio to the relentless terror conducted against Cuba or the manipulation of elections in Europe by secret payments to leaders and parties and to the over-throw by coups of even democratic governments not to America’s liking – all went unreported and unquestioned.

And it certainly not true now, perhaps, the only big difference being that now much of the activity has been exposed to the bright light of day. On the domestic front, things like the release of the DNC e-mails provide the kind of investigative reporting we’ve never experienced before from all those self-congratulatory journalists of yesteryear. On the international front, CIA allied dirty operations, like those in Syria, are actually being exposed to the light by news sources from abroad.

The days of the heroic journalistic duo in All the President’s Men are gone, completely gone. The book today almost seems a silly story on a level with “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” yet in its day, it seemed anything but. To my mind nothing better demonstrates some of the underlying and fundamental changes that have taken place.

It wasn’t Trump’s doing, but he is sure putting a high seal of approval on the fact, and lots of people are applauding. His approach, as at press conferences where the old privileged gang is feeling discomfort, will help speed the change underway towards something new, making him a genuine agent of change.

Journalism for the corporate press is a profession in dismal decline, having in most cases reduced itself willingly to paid publicity flacks and propagandists for the state.

Something entirely fresh is emerging using the new technology and forms of advertising. Its complete form is not yet clear, but it will deal the death blow to your industry, just as surely as Amazon ended local bookstores.

I don’t know whether it will be better or not – all great changes come not without drawbacks and flaws as viewed from some perspective – but I applaud its coming because your crowd has been shown to be utterly without principle and are well gone with your false assumptions and unwarranted privileges.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JOHN RENTOUL IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Recent events make it likely that Labour will win both seats in the by-elections next week, meaning Jeremy Corbyn will remain leader – a disaster for the Labour Party”

How does John Rentoul manage to keep employed as a columnist?

Somehow in Rentouland – just a hop, skip, and a jump down the road from Cloudcuckooland – winning by-elections is bad for a party, a party which should instead be working to rid itself of its present leadership.

Well, I do know the answer to my own question.

Because The Independent just salivates about bringing the disgusting Tony Blair – in the form of one of his acolytes if not himself in the flesh – back to power, and writers like John Rentoul do the yeoman’s work of writing-up pages of lame arguments in favor of it.

That moral pigmy and complete sell-out to special interests, Blair, gets almost daily coverage in the paper, as do some of his cult followers.

Blair’s recent insane speech about the public rising-up against Brexit and stopping it – such words from the very man who ignored the greatest peace demonstrations in British history to charge ahead in his secret partnership with Bush to destroy Iraq – was given embarrassing over-exposure by the paper with many images on the same page as links to the same dreary stuff, as though it were statesmanlike material of the greatest possible importance being featured.

And why does anyone in the least wonder that Trump attacks the corporate press?

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Bernie Sanders says Donald Trump administration is ‘totalitarian'”

And, please, what has he done that can possibly be so characterized?

Bernie, each time you open your mouth anymore, you prove only how unfit you were for the presidency.

But the corporate press likes featuring you as part of its attacks on Trump.

Why? Because you have an appealing public personality with a sympathetic, avuncular presence.

Have you forgotten Hillary stole her nomination from you?

Wasn’t that theft a blow at the very roots of democratic government? How can you say otherwise?

Trump was elected under the rules, and he is only using the authorities granted him by lifetime politicians like you and like Hillary and like Obama and like Bill Clinton.

You guys could have re-written the rules long ago, but you chose not to because the Democratic Party benefitted from them.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE ON ZERO HEDGE

 

‘Trump Declares CNN, NYT, CBS, ABC And NBC Are “The Enemy of The American People”’

Well, of course, it is an exaggeration.

But not such an exaggeration as to be untrue.

Constantly misinforming people about important matters is a very pernicious practice.

It certainly does not support democracy or respect for rights or good government. It does support secrecy, bad government decisions, and a sense of privilege in a class of people.

However, the corporate press only does what it does because of a long history of encouragement and cooperation with government. There have even been demands by government at times.

And there has always been a filthy underground relationship between the press and security services like CIA. Trump has just been stung by that very thing.

America has a fundamental lack of honesty in all of its national institutions. Not too much can change unless that underlying reality is changed.

The reason for that is that every government, no matter which party, is doing things for which the people never voted. Indeed, it is often doing things that hurt or disadvantage ordinary people, including wars, coups, dark operations, and supporting tyrants and monarchs of every description.

Since WWII the United States has been almost continuously at war. None of it was about defense. None of it was in the interests of the American people as a whole. None of it brought any benefits to ordinary Americans. All of it wasted immense wealth and plenty of lives. And all of it was about the insider ruling establishment enjoying the game of pushing people around all over the planet.

We all know the clichéd stories of Europe’s privileged classes in the 17th or 18th century. A peasant who was in the road in front of a Duke’s carriage became “roadkill.” What too many Americans do not in the least understand is that that is exactly how their government behaves abroad. Exactly. That’s why the same flag many Americans honor at home is literally hated abroad as a symbol of violence and oppression.

What the press has done has helped this all to happen, but it didn’t happen because of the press. It happened because of government after government serving the narrow interests of the power establishment. But that is the environment which helped “grow” the terrible press that America has.

And that utterly bent press has treated Donald Trump with that same attitude carried over. He has been viewed as a threat to the power establishment and its dirty little insider games of re-ordering the planet for its benefit and to its liking.

You cannot have it both ways, be a world empire and a decent country at home. The two realities are utterly incompatible, and I’m not sure that most Americans truly understand that.

It will be an immense task to change enough in America’s government to even begin to undoing the behavior of the press and other institutions.

I wish the President well in the effort, but it is a task for the gods.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

 

“Judge Slams CNN, Sets Stage For Defamation Case: Network’s ‘Reckless Reporting’ Constitutes ‘Actual Malice’ “

CNN has such a long history of gross and stupid behavior that you might think people would just stop watching.

But we all know memories are short, extremely short sometimes. And besides, some people just like the noise of the television as company at times.

I can remember how CNN literally dogged a poor security guard named Richard Jewell over the Atlanta Olympics bombing.

Perhaps they had a tip from the famously incompetent FBI, an organization which has pulled such stunts many times, but they had not one speck of evidence because, in fact, Richard Jewell was innocent.

They would do moronic bits like photographing the poor man as he left home for work, have a clumsy reporter stick a microphone in his face, and keep filming as he ignored the reporter and drove off.

Pictures of a car driving down a street with a reporter standing open-mouthed holding his microphone passing for news.

The guard proved not only totally innocent but something of a minor hero. The real killer proved later to be an anti-abortion maniac. It was totally wrong and shabby.

I recall also the sick piece of propaganda CNN tried to pass off at the time America was bombing the crap out of Afghanistan.

They had a ridiculous video supposedly produced in Osama’s mountain cave lair in which guys in a lab were developing chemical weapons and testing them on dogs.

We saw the scurrying of undefined figures in sandals and other ludicrous touches.

It was the most obviously contrived crap I’ve ever seen, and we learned those caves of Osama’s were simple and primitive shelters and nothing more.

The killing of a dog was obviously intended to revolt the audience into cheering for the bombing.

No responsible news organization would ever have broadcast it, but CNN is not, and never has been, a responsible news organization.

I am sure someone could fill a book with such stuff. I long ago ceased watching the Clown News Network.

They just work to keep the television screens full, full of something or other, and they pay hack journalists to voice over words that give an aura of suspicion or mystery or excitement.

It keeps people having dinner on the couch or travelers in the hotel rooms watching, and it keeps the advertising rates up.

A genuine piece of American junk culture.

CNN to news is pretty much what Beyoncé is to serious music.

 

 

 

 

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Brexit ‘is not inevitable’ and can be stopped by the will of the people, Tony Blair says”

Gee, Tony, you need to be a real man about this.

Why don’t you just go out and start shooting people who support the democratic vote result on Brexit?

You sure didn’t hesitate in Iraq. Helped killed perhaps a million people to get your way.

So why hesitate now?

Have you gone soft in your old age?

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

‘When officials use the phrase “alternative facts” without embarrassment, we know there’s a problem,’

An absolutely ridiculous article.

Apart from a deliberate attempt to malign and having no content worth calling journalism, you are confusing apples with oranges.

There is no evidence whatsoever that Trump doesn’t accept science, genuine science.

Of course, one of the problems is that some scientists have themselves been claiming more than the evidence warrants in certain cases.

Surely, the writer well knows the tiresomely repeated “alternative facts” business had to do with political matters, not science.

Gee, to understand what alternative facts are, all you have to do is read almost any of the major British papers on subjects like Trump, Corbyn, Brexit, Syria, etc.

They are an almost daily event in The Independent and The Guardian.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Unless we improve education, employment and empowerment opportunities, we could face another humanitarian crisis like Syria”

Well, here indeed is just the man to address the world on development, economics, and world affairs.

Bono, a pretentious old rock ‘n’ roller with dyed hair and a pair of $10,000 designer “tints.”

Good God, what silliness passes for information today.

What’s next, Beyoncé or Cher on political developments?

Oh, I forget, we’ve already had that.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN GOVERNMENT SLAVES

 

“COLLEGE EDUCATION SYSTEM IS ON THE FAST TRACK TO DESTRUCTION, AN OBVIOUS SIGN OF ECONOMIC CRISIS WAITING TO HAPPEN”

What you have seen in American post-secondary education much resembles a hyper-inflation.

The credentials become more useless year by year, while the institutions almost race to admit still more students into programs that have little hope of leading to meaningful employment.

They race because they’ve discovered a temporary gold mine in all the extra fees.

But it will definitely come crashing down at some point, just as does a hyperinflated economy.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN INVESTMENTWATCH

 

“We Live In A Society Where Beyoncé And Lady Gaga Are Considered To Be ‘Entertainment’ “

We had such performers in the 1940s and 1950s.

They didn’t pretend to be “vocalists” or serious “artists,” and their costumes certainly weren’t hugely expensive. The entire productions were modest in most cases.

They were called exotic dancers or strippers, and the shows in which they performed were called burlesque.

What we’ve had is a kind of title inflation, combined with technology which makes it possible for them to reach tens of millions and thus become extremely rich. And, I might add, pretentious.

There is almost no difference.

John Chuckman

COMMENT ON WHETHER AMERICA CAN GOVERN ITSELF

 

Perhaps I should have known better, but I am an old man hoping to see some change in the horrible international arrangements I have known all my life, so a little unrealistic optimism was perhaps to be expected.

I regret having to say that, already, the Donald Trump, who seemed capable of at least a few large acts against the established order in the United States, is beginning to resemble yet another version of the “same old, same old.”

Getting embroiled with courts over a set of restrictions on migrants is just a big, futile waste of time and resources. When you face immense problems – pointless wars, massive refugee problems caused by those very wars, confusion reigning over much of the planet created by your own country’s policies of the last sixteen years, institutions like the EU beginning to crumble, poverty still a feature of large regions of your own country, and budgets and debt wildly out of control – it is hard to understand how you would get so entangled in this matter.

The restrictions, temporary as they mostly are, are of no real value to anyone, certainly not offering a meaningful addition to American security, but they are an unnecessary hardship imposed on a relatively small group people who already have suffered under America’s acts. And, they are creating, let’s face it, a serious public relations setback that you simply do not need. When you pay a large price for achieving virtually nothing, you are making a serious mistake.

There are other unpleasant noises being heard, too. Only the other day, Trump said something about having no choice but to become ruthless over the War on Drugs. Did I get the words right? Ruthless? War on Drugs? Richard Nixon clearing his throat and shaking his jowls, making pronouncements he could never deliver on? The year 2017?

Now, if there was ever a more failed policy than the decades-long American War on Drugs, I just don’t know what it could be. It almost resembles Christianity’s two millennium effort to end sin. Tens and tens of billions spent, small armies of black-clad heavily-armed police stomping on people’s rights and crashing into homes, great havoc and violence created in many countries – all with a complete lack of results. Hollywood and Palm Beach and Manhattan parties remain bountifully supplied with cocaine, as I’m sure some of Trump’s glitziest friends could readily assure him. Heroin and other hard drugs are everywhere on America’s streets and in its alleys. So is, by the way, a great deal of murder and mayhem over the control of the markets for those drugs, as see with the carnage in Chicago.

Most unsettling of all are the noises being made about Iran. A few recent statements made me think we were just right back fresh into the Neocon Wars, almost as though Hillary Clinton had indeed won the election and was ready to launch a new set of them. Certainly, war with Iran has the potential for the kind of violence Hillary seemed greatly amused by in Libya, but on a vastly greater scale. There was even a reliable report that the American Navy came very close to boarding an Iranian merchant ship on the high seas recently. Such an act would violate the laws governing the free use of the seas and would simply be an act of war.

Well, if you want war, nothing is easier to achieve. A total idiot can create war with very little effort. George Bush proved that for all time. Only a clever statesman, one like Putin in our time, can avoid it when the challenge is hurled into his face, as it very much was by Obama and Hillary and their Neocon Fraternity Brothers and Sisters over at the State Department, the kind of people who never gave a moment’s thought to how many they killed to make some geopolitical chess move.

Speaking of Russia, I know it is early, but I can detect almost no movement in that ominous situation created by Obama’s weakness vis-à-vis the Neocons and other Amerika über alles types choking the payrolls of the Pentagon and security services. Trump’s independent-mindedness and self-confidence, combined with his genuine outsider status, are just what seemed to offer promise in reining-in this craziness by powerful, unaccountable figures.

It is not encouraging that the mere rumor that Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak may have discussed sanctions created a bit of a storm, the Obama-imposed sanctions being pointless and productive only of hostility between two states which are capable of obliterating one another. But, remember, this is America which kept pointless, provocative sanctions in place against Cuba for half a century. The qualities of a stubborn mule are not what you might expect to feature large in a great power’s behavior, but it seems, in fact, they often do.

Troubling, too, is the very soft approach being taken towards Israel, one of the world’s most demanding, hostile, and dangerous countries. Here is the government of Israel contemptuously spitting on yet another United Nations’ Resolution and openly stealing more land. I know the United Nations does not enjoy high standing with Trump’s crowd, but respect for property rights certainly does, being the bedrock of all efforts to build wealth anywhere. The rule of law matters.

Israel is a country whose successive recent leaders have all favored attacking Iran, all having spoken openly in favor of outright aggression. Could there be a connection? The pending demise of the Clinton Foundation does not appear to have brought an end to “pay for play” in American foreign policy. The Israel Lobby, so antipathetic to America’s long-term interests and so damaging to millions of lives in the Middle East, has to be deeply involved here.

And where are the economies which America so desperately requires? We hear only of vast new expenditures for an already immensely-bloated military, of great new costs like the wall with Mexico, of costly operations like deporting millions of illegals, of investing many billions to ensure school choice, and so forth.

Draining the swamp was a catchy election slogan, but as we have seen many times, the ability to get elected is quite different than the ability to govern. Perhaps America is incapable of being sensibly governed? Too fat and rich and wasteful and arrogant? With a capital city packed with powerful and unaccountable officials? Truly draining the swamp would likely mean emptying much of Washington, a place which, by the way, when it was selected by George Washington himself as the site of the future capital, was indeed swampy land. The fault likely goes back to the very beginning.

Even the freight-train-coming-through personality of Donald Trump seems in danger of being stalled on a siding.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN ZERO HEDGE

 

“South Africa’s President Vows To Redistribute White-Owned Land And Businesses”

This has been expected and feared by many since the end of the old South Africa.

South Africa has been economically successful enough to be included in the BRICS group of promising future economies.

Clearly, any change of this nature will throw all that overboard.

There is a fundamental – perhaps insoluble? – problem in South Africa.

The inequality, which is a normal part of all economies, is made strikingly visible by the ethnic identities of the two extremes there.

I don’t know that one can imagine a long-term solution to such a situation: a few million relatively prosperous to extremely wealthy white people living with tens of millions of poor blacks plus the demands and pressures that come with democratic government.

I know some prosperous whites left, but it is not so easy. Many of the wealth-generating assets – great farming estates to rich mineral deposits – are not portable, and there is no one really in such an economy to sell them to so that you can leave.

Quite a terrible situation to find yourself stuck in.

And, of course, South Africa is also one of the world’s most violent advanced places, with horrific murder and rape rates.

The wealthy still live in heavily armed enclaves, just as they did under the previous regime.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Adele broke her Grammy award in two after saying it should be Beyoncé’s”

You do have to ask, what goes through the mind of someone who breaks an award in half to share?

Who wants a broken half of anything, much less an award?

What can that act possibly signify beyond an embarrassingly public confession of extreme lack of self-confidence in the person doing it?

Of course, all such awards are largely meaningless, just publicity gimmicks for an industry, but there is a special irony involved with the Grammy.

The award was created decades ago by a group of more traditional entertainers, notably including Doris Day, who wanted something to refocus public attention away from the rock ‘n’ roll that had taken over their industry.

It was a pretty naive notion.

Well, here is what the silly thing has morphed into – an asinine circus act in expensive evening gowns.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE ON SPUTNIK

 

We can’t judge for ourselves?

We need someone – someone, by the way, serving their own self-interests in maintaining control over the distribution of information – to tell us that what we read or watch is pernicious?

What a ridiculous position these press people take.

Well, of course, we no more want their opinions on independent press than we want someone’s approval for a book we choose to read or a movie we choose to watch.

The underlying tendency towards a kind of media authoritarianism in the views of these people should be clear to all, and it very much is dangerous.

Imagine the boldness of coming right out in public and essentially telling people they should not be watching or reading certain things?

They should be ashamed at displaying such attitudes.

But it does tell us all something very important that they are not ashamed.

And we very much need to be on guard and defend our natural right to inform ourselves.

Below is another aspect of this cheap propaganda war not all readers may be aware of.

Recently, when I use my Google bookmark link for Russia’s Sputnik, Google frequently inserts a warning page telling me that it is dangerous to proceed, a page which includes a button marked “Back to Safety,” as though I were approaching a phishing or pornographic site.

This from the company that started, years ago, with a motto, “Do no harm,” but, of course, today Google is a vest-pocket affiliate of CIA, an outfit which does almost nothing but harm

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Fake news is ‘killing people’s minds’ claims Apple boss Tim Cook”

The entire idea of fake news is itself fake.

I cannot even understand the controversy, except for the fact that it is promoted and featured around the clock by the corporate press and its recent allies, America’s multi-multi-billion dollar hi-tech online industry.

Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook all sleep in the same bed with the corporate press and with America’s intrusive security establishment.

As long as there has been something called news, there has been fake news.

The boy in the fairy tale calling out “wolf!” was an early example. He was acting as town crier – an early form of press – putting out a lie to serve his own interests.

Of course, these fellows are acting just like the boy in the fairy tale in shouting “wolf!”

There has been nothing but misrepresentation and lies or blissful ignoring by the corporate press from time immemorial about any matter of vital concern to government.

What’s new? Only that some of the independent and alternative press are really starting to be listened to by large numbers, and that is happening at the same time that the traditional corporate press is in serious economic decline.

Much of what is in the independent and alternative press is not true or accurate, but given the history of the corporate press, what’s new about that?

You have never been able to be fairly accurately informed by having a paper, any paper, served you on a platter.

You must always dig and doubt because the motivations for misrepresentation are boundless.

You don’t write a term paper citing just one source for a pivotal fact. You cross check.

It is no different with news. And the last people anyone should trust to deliver truth on a platter are the folks at outfits like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, and I say that in view of their own records of behavior in many things from how they treat information to how they treat customers

 

 

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Russia could handover Edward Snowden to US to ‘curry favour’ with Donald Trump, report suggests”

I’ve never regarded Snowden as a terribly sympathetic figure or as a public hero.

To my mind, he is in a different class than Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange – both genuinely heroic figures.

Snowden did one good, brave thing, but, with a great deal of what he has said since, he has become rather tiresome.

Early on, despite an effort to not speak too much, he gave me the impression of a very homesick, privileged American upper-middle class young man.

And that impression has only been re-confirmed, time and time again. In today’s world, that’s not a sympathetic image.

America’s privileged class has caused immense suffering in our world, and it remains focused only on its own comforts and attitudes, including the comforts of its rights and freedoms. Rights and freedoms with Guantanamo just 90 miles offshore?

Even the version of freedom and rights people like Snowden appear to embrace seem greatly irrelevant to much of the world and even for many ordinary Americans.

He has never really shown any opposition to the greatest mass killer of our time, Barack Obama. I lose all sympathy with anyone who accepts hundreds of thousands of deaths in half a dozen countries.

He is a cool technocrat who did what he did – reveal the NSA’s hi-tech and pervasive spying – out of a kind of cool, standoffish, libertarian attitude, one I don’t find overly sympathetic.

Chelsea Manning saw a video of ruthless American helicopter pilots joyously machine-gunning an unarmed man desperately trying to avoid them. That was what motivated her heroic effort. It would have motivated me, too, absolutely.

Nothing like that motivated Snowden. Nor has there ever been a hint of opposition to America’s relentless and brutal imperial march across the globe, complete with mass killing, torture, and destroying countless homes.

No, we have just a cool technical concern for American Rights, much as you might expect from another cold historical figure, Thomas Jefferson, another privileged upper-class man, one who was the utterly unrepentant lifetime holder of over two hundred slaves who also went on at length over “rights and freedoms,” at least as they applied to himself and his class.

Jefferson’s ideas of rights and freedoms, despite his facile phrases written almost as public relations slogans for history, always were effectively limited to his own class. When Haitian slaves rose in bloody revolt against Napoleon’s France, President Jefferson gladly supported and helped Napoleon over the people seeking freedom from servitude and abuse.

I cannot even recall Snowden’s offering any substantial expressions of gratitude to Russia for all it has done for him. He can never stand out in my mind as a generous or very sympathetic figure.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE ON GOVERNMENT SLAVES

 

“TRUMP ON DRUG WAR: ‘WE’RE GOING TO BE RUTHLESS … WE HAVE NO CHOICE’

 

Oh, please, decades of spending a vast fortune and often being entirely ruthless have gone nowhere.

We really need a more thoughtful approach to drugs than “we’re going to be ruthless!”

I’m sorry to say so, but Trump, for whom I had some serious hopes for creative change, seems to be sinking into noisy mediocrity.

Same old, same old.