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Monthly Archives: August 2017

John Chuckman


“If we do not have a reasonably competent, friendly government in Kabul, nothing the west achieves will last. Ignoring the Afghan nation’s needs is not an option”

Truly, an incomprehensible statement.

The statement begs so many questions, it is hard to know where to begin.

“Nothing the West achieves”? But in fact, “the West,” as you put it, has achieved nothing, nothing but a lot of misery and deaths of innocent people.

When anyone uses the term, “the West” in this context, it is very telling.

It is a term trying to suggest another era – much like calling today’s American army of well-paid professional killers “GIs” with all its glow of association with amateur soldiers recruited to go off to fight bad guys, something indeed the New York Times tried doing for a while until they were laughed out of it. It is a term that provides, or should provide, a kind of warning signal to readers in the contemporary world.

Afghanistan was an American project entirely from the beginning, and the rest of “the West” was dragged along for the ride.

How do I know that? Not one Western country put a rally serious contingent of troops there, and many kept their small number of troops back from all the ugliness, doing duties varying from supplies to traffic work.

When a war is as truly important as the hyperbole claimed, and still claims here, major countries do not commit numbers like 500 or 1,500 or 2,000 soldiers. That is on the face of it, a dark joke. NATO countries each put in as few as they could possibly get away with, keeping “the boss” (America) happy.

Hardly, the character of a desperately important war.

NATO countries were dragged along by the United States for the now-usual reason of giving the somewhat plausible appearance of an international campaign to what in fact was one country’s determined effort at revenge and control, just one more instance of Captain Ahab desperately seeking to kill the White Whale.

The Taliban are unpleasant but are not terrorists, at least not any more than the United States is when it is at war. You don’t invade a country because a part of its population is unpleasant. Otherwise, you would be invading countries all over the planet for there are some really nasty groups and movements in all the far corners of the world.

The Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11.

The United States has given us an ugly 15-year long performance in pointless brutality there, trying to control a basic social-religious division in the population of this ancient, hardscrabble society. It would have made immensely more progress dropping dollar bills than bombs, but the Pentagon is incapable of thinking that way.

No, the Pentagon destroys the “bad guys” and “remodels countries,” goals, which if looked at critically are absurd, almost literally the stuff of comic books. But killing tens of thousands of real people is not funny like a comic book.

It is exactly as mindless and vicious as the effort to eliminate “the communists” in Vietnam was, a place where being “a communist” was just another way of saying “a nationalist” against further imperial manipulations from abroad once the French had departed.


John Chuckman


This time Britain must resist colluding in US drone terror

Absolutely, Clive Lewis.

However, your “The use of drones devastates communities and fuels terrorist recruitment” does bother me.

It is rather dithery and beside the point.

I really would have liked to have read a clear statement that America’s program of industrial-scale extrajudicial killing is one of the most ethically and morally repellent practices in our world today.

All the people who are targets are legally guilty of nothing, and when these innocent people are killed, we also see bystanders in significant numbers killed.

Obama, who started the horror, used to sign off on “kill lists.”

Nightmarish enough, I think, but Trump doesn’t even bother with that, having told the psychopaths at the CIA that they were best to judge who should die.

There is no distinction between this American horror and the practices of the old Argentine junta making people “disappear” in the thousands decades ago.

I think our public view of it is a fair measure of how far we’ve sunk under America’s self-declared world leadership.
Response to another reader comment:

I find it troubling that people focus on America’s “collateral damage.”

It is just a fact that the targets themselves are innocent.

And have you seen a couple of video clips from American attack helicopters shooting down groups of obviously innocent civilians just for fun in the Mideast?

The clips were kept secret, but some have gotten out.

It was exactly such a clip that aroused the compassionate feelings and anger of Chelsea Manning when she viewed them in her intelligence work years ago and destroyed her career to reveal what she saw.

You take a bunch of 19-year old Americans and send them to the other side of the planet, a place they learn to hate, whose language they cannot speak, whose customs they laugh at, and you have them armed with powerful weapons and little accountability, and this just is what happens.

And do think it is any different for the buzz-cut thugs working in CIA basements with computer screens? They play violent video games with real human victims, and they have zero accountability.

Whether through psychopathy, a condition always affecting some percent of any population, or brutal boredom by young people doing a ghastly job, the results are the same.

And I remind everyone that America at home, the place from which these soldiers and computer operators come, already is a very brutal society. It produces large numbers of young people – whether gang members or local trigger-happy cops – who are entertained by shooting people. It has the highest violent crime rates in the West plus the worst record of abusive police and prisons.

With these policies and practices, sick people are given a legal way to do what they like doing and they are paid well for doing it. After all, who else would be attracted to such “work” in the first place?

John Chuckman


Donald Trump ‘actively reviewing’ sending weapons to Ukraine after Kiev reports 3,000 Russian troops in country
Russia ‘seeking to redraw international borders by force,’ James Mattis says

That claim is a complete falsehood.

If Russia wanted to “re-draw the border,” it could readily have done so.

As Putin famously remarked quite a while ago – a remark deliberately twisted at the time by Washington – if he wanted to do so, he could have his tanks in Kiev in two weeks.

Putin’s patience throughout this entire matter of an American-induced coup against a neighboring, democratic government has been admirable.

He has not recognized the breakaway Donbas area of Ukraine – overwhelmingly Russian speakers who could not accept the new coup-government’s efforts to suppress their interests, even their language.

He has not sent massive forces to defend them, which he could easily have done.

He helped create the Minsk Agreements and has done everything to support them as a way of returning to something resembling normality.

Can anyone even imagine the Pentagon’s reaction to a coup staged in Mexico by Russia or China? The tanks would have been in Mexico City in days. Threats of nuclear war would be in the air.

The entire Ukraine coup is a disgrace. This was a democratic government toppled solely to hurt and provoke Russia. The smiling psychopath, Obama, approved it, but Trump’s gang of Pentagon thugs now carries right on (again giving us a strong clue as to who really determines America policies abroad).

Not only shouldn’t the US be interfering like this in the affairs of others – and we know from overheard words of former State Department’s Neocon fanatic, Victoria Nuland, that the US spent $5 billion on this effort – in the process, it has induced large numbers of deaths and it has supported Ukrainian extreme right-wing outfits who parade around with symbols very much resembling those of Nazis.


John Chuckman


My great uncle was alienated in postwar France. Now Americans know how he felt

Oh, I’m sorry, but this is just not sound thinking.

Mentioning the Holocaust and Charlottesville in the same sentence is beyond ridiculous, lacking completely both insight and judgment.

Charlottesville was a relatively small, unpleasant event.

America is full of small unpleasant events. Millions of them.

That’s why the murder rate is so high compared to other Western nations.

That’s why other violent crime rates are so high compared to other Western nations (see official stats for just one city regularly updated : )

That’s why America’s police kill over 1,100 legally innocent citizens every year, a fact documented by this newspaper.

That’s why something like a thousand people mysteriously die in American prisons every year.

Just highway traffic deaths amount to about 40,000 a year.

America is a brutal society, full stop.

And, what I think is extremely important to do, when you examine what America does abroad, the brutality becomes a crashing storm.

2 to 3 million slaughtered in North Korea. 3 million slaughtered in Vietnam. A million dead in Cambodia after American bombing and incursions destabilized a neutral government. A million dead in Iraq. At least a third of a million in Syria. And there are dozens of lesser horrors in the march of empire.

No person who loves peace and human decency likes seeing events like Charlottesville, but thinking people put it in perspective, and when you do that, it is like the proverbial drop in the bucket.

Perhaps most excruciating here, too, is the special plea about American Jews considering leaving. Why just Jews? And why over this tiny event? It makes no sense at all. I just do not believe it, considering all the horrors in America they and everyone else live with.

Again, for those who haven’t seen it, here are the official violence statistics for just one American city, Chicago. They are presented with graphs and updated regularly:


John Chuckman


Death of a Princess: Why the Diana Tragedy Spawned So Many Conspiracy Theories

Diana actually became a tiresome figure, and I am sorry her memory is being dragged back by the press on the anniversary of her death.

We were all influenced by her superficial charm. She had a dazzling smile. And she had a good press. A few snaps of her with a sick kid, and, presto, she became a secular saint. A beautiful version of Mother Theresa.

But she amounted in fact to little more than one more jet-setting Hollywood celebrity type, wasting immense resources on her whims and doing very little of value besides smiling for the cameras.

And the underlying reality was that she was a very disturbed person who should never have married into the Royal Family, a woman whose beauty and smile caused people to credit nonsense.

We have anecdotes of her, in a limo after one of those glowing public appearances, breaking into hysterical laughter at the very people she had just graced with her smile while accepting their bouquets of flowers.

She clearly was an unbalanced and reckless person with her crazed car chases with the paparazzi, and that was the real cause of her death, her reckless behavior. Forgotten, too, is the record of her insane serial phone calls to various people, just scores and scores of them in a single day.

And her mumbo-jumbo with stuff like “aroma therapy.” Her many reckless sexual affairs, including one with an official bodyguard, ready to damage careers and reputations with little thought. And her dark, paranoid belief that Charles wanted to kill her. No, Charles wanted to forget her, but she was so focused on her own importance that she believed he wished to kill her.

There is a record of madness and excess in the Spencer family line, her brother plainly displaying it, and her son Prince Harry, a quite unpleasant man who does precisely nothing of any worth, shows definite signs of the same with behaviors like demanding he be sent to Afghanistan and later bragging to friends of killing a man or the time he showed up at a cocktail party in a Nazi uniform as a “joke.”

As far as her being pregnant, who knows or cares? If she was, it just adds to the sense of her recklessness, and it would just naturally be something that officialdom would covered-up. No dark plots are required. It happens all the time with celebrities of various kinds.

The idea that authorities thought Diana was worth assassinating has always seemed genuinely absurd to me. She was of no consequence other than headlines about her escapades in the tabloids.


John Chuckman


Could a heroin vaccine cure the west’s drug epidemic?

I don’t know that it is accurate to call heroin addiction a social issue.

Of course, it has social effects.

But I think the original impulse is escape, escape from many serious mental afflictions as well as escape from the often-unending dreariness of life for many.

There has always been this kind of activity, going back to the cheap-gin fueled Industrial Revolution.

Life can be exceedingly drab and difficult for many. Not intelligent enough to get an interesting job. Too ugly to attract the opposite sex. Too painful from many physical and mental conditions. Or just feeling oppressed with life at home or a highly unsuitable spouse.

That fact is just part of the human condition.

I cannot condemn many who take drugs, and I well know we have neither the resources or magic to change their lives.

It is an important footnote on any discussion of this to remember that when the United States needlessly invaded Afghanistan, they destroyed the harsh control over growing opium poppies imposed previously by the Taliban.

Supplies soon shot up all over, price went down, more addicts resulted, and drug gang wars in cities of the United States were intensified.

It is often said, and I don’t know the truth but do suspect there is some truth, that the CIA has used the drug trade in Afghanistan as a nice source of off-the-books income.

They certainly did do the same thing in Vietnam in the 1960s, as several have documented.


John Chuckman


“if I were a man”

Equality is pretty much here.

My mother struggled to bring up two boys alone back in the 1950s, and I am intimately acquainted with the world’s prejudices, but today in no significant way resembles the 1950s.

However, even “equal” things can be unequal in certain aspects.

All the kids in a classroom are equal in important senses, but we all know immediately that in no classroom will all the gifts of nature be equally distributed.

Some will be beautiful, some not.

Some moody or disturbed, some not.

Some intellectually gifted, some not.

The trouble with using a term like “equal” in an absolute sense is that it throws away this complexity which is always there in every situation.

It generates demands and expectations that every individual will be treated the same way.

It is a fantasy. That simply will never be. Every job and career has needs better met by some rather than others, and pay and rise up in the hierarchy inevitably reflect that fact.

I’m not saying, for I certainly do not believe, that this means men on top.

However, we do not have enough scientific knowledge on the distribution of nature’s gifts to say, things will always end up equally distributed.

We proceed on the pragmatic basis of who best fills the job, and lacking the presence of genuine bias, the outcomes will not likely be perfectly equal.

That applies to any human division you care to mention – black vs white, male vs female, or young vs old.


John Chuckman


“Macron will never be Europe’s savior if he keeps playing to the populists”

Speaking of Macron as savior of anything is wooly-mouthed silliness.

There is nothing in this man’s record to suggest someone extraordinary.

I regard him as a milquetoast character with daydream fantasies of grandeur.

A political savior who carried on at fifteen with his predatory high school teacher? One who wears make-up obvious in almost every photo of him?

Saviors come in mighty strange shapes these days.

I think Macron precisely showed what he is made of with the silly Trump visit. He bumped up the mass of the Bastille Day parade to impress Trump.

Trying to impress Trump with marching bands while you scurry around in make-up? Simply ridiculous.

The Poles have already told him what they think of his pretensions.

Macron is a bad joke, and polls show the people of France already perceive it clearly.

He was a quickly pumped-up election balloon, pumped-up and painted by a desperate establishment group indeed trying to stop the election of a genuine independent leader, and he is already badly leaking gas.

Nougayrède, at least, never fails to deliver to readers, phrases wrapped in precious prose saying very little of anything.


John Chuckman


Inside Assad’s prisons: Horrors facing female inmates in Syrian jails revealed

You failed to properly label the source of this utterly ridiculous article.

It should read: “article courtesy of Israel’s Ministry of Truth.”

Assad is liked by most Syrians. He is a strong proponent of religious liberty in a part of the world where that is not common. He has the support of the country’s many Christians.

None of those statements can be made about the government of Israel.

One really has to ask why The Independent could not show better judgment than publishing such stuff.

There is an old journalistic principle regularly ignored by the corporate press today: the bigger the claim in a story, the better scrutinized it needs to be.

Israel’s government goes by the old big lie theory, tell a story loudly enough and often enough, and many will believe it.

The theory comes straight from Joseph Goebbels, and Israel is, without a doubt, its biggest proponent today.


John Chuckman


Israel Misleading World Over Self-Defense Claims
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks on Israel defending itself from Iran hold no water.

Of course Netanyahu is misleading the world.

That’s pretty much all Netanyahu does, and when he isn’t telling lies, he’s making threats.

Israel’s problem with Iran is that it is the most important competitor in a region Israel wishes itself to dominate totally.

It has nothing to do with danger or threats from Iran. How can there be danger when Israel both has its own nuclear weapons is kept under the American nuclear umbrella? The claim would be laughable were it not for the fact that you are not allowed to laugh at Israel.

Iran has never once threatened Israel, although Israel very much has threatened Iran.

Netanyahu’s government runs what is essentially a gangster state, one with the protection of America’s government which is heavily under the influence of a very powerful domestic lobby.

What else besides gangster can you call a state which 50 years after a war it deliberately started still occupies the land of millions of other people, giving them no rights, and periodically openly stealing yet another slice of their land?

This is a state in violation of dozens of UN Resolutions, international treaties, conventions, and accepted practices. And almost everything that it demands or blusters about today only suggests still more lawlessness in future.

All the while keeping millions, as in Gaza, in misery.

And Israel’s position in Syria, supporting the gangs of thugs who have worked to tear the country apart, is all about keeping land it earlier stole there, perhaps even extending it.

All we see from Israel represents a mockery of the rule of law, but you are not even allowed to say that in the press of America or a good deal of Europe.


John Chuckman



End Obama’s legacy?

Are the drones still flying and killing innocent people?

Are more troops going to fight for nothing in Afghanistan?

Has the US left Russia to sort out the horror the US helped create in Syria?

Are the oppressed people of Palestine treated one bit better than before?

Have NATO’s pointless and dangerous activities right on the border of Russia been stopped?

Has the US improved its relations with China?

Are there tons of new jobs for America’s hopelessly poor?

What blind fool wrote these words?

Trump is a complete failure. Everything really ugly that Obama did is still being done, even more of it in some cases.


John Chuckman


Finally, MLK Jr’s Revolution? Challenging Confederate Generals And US Generals Today

I don’t know, but I’d sure accept, even with my respect for history, the loss of old statues to generals if it indeed meant that today’s generals lost their poisonous influence over society.

It was, almost certainly, King’s brave efforts against the Vietnam War that cost him his life.

That, more than demands for racial integration, pitted him against some extremely powerful and ruthless interests and almost certainly rendered him a traitor in those people’s eyes.

It did not take much in the 1960s to be labelled something vile, and working against the holy national crusade against communism was more than enough, and being viewed as a traitor then was a far more powerful mumbo-jumbo than it is today

Such people think very little about having ‘a traitor” shot, and that’s just what they did to Martin Luthor King.


John Chuckman


“Permanent Adolescence: The Epidemic That Will Destroy America”

I like the expression.

But the writer has the wrong tense of the verb.

The United States has been in a dizzying state of permanent adolescence for all of my adult life. Its effects are a significant part of what is wrong with the country today.

It leads to poor decisions and foolish pursuits.

Since the end of WWII, Americans have very much embraced “I want it all, and I want it now,” a childish, demanding attitude.

The so-called “American Dream” is just an advertising slogan dignifying that state of mind. Today, of course, the American Dream is fading fast in coming directly into conflict with a hard new realities in the world.

But Americans cannot quite give up their fantasies. Thus, Trump’s vacuous slogan about “Make America Great Again.”

And, you must always remember, advertising and marketing, one of America’s true original inventions, play an inordinate role in life. Americans are inundated with advertising of every description, none of it of course really communicating any facts or reality, all of it a close relatives to propaganda in its effects.

I’ve always related the observed state of perpetual youth with America’s revivalist tent preachers telling everyone they must be “born again.” It is a religious concept owing to the Puritans and its effects upon America have been pernicious.

Somewhere, deep inside, many Americans genuinely believe in some form of perpetual youth – whether in religion or facial and bodily beauty or other obsessions.

This is just part of why Americans are a very poor people to serve as world leaders.


John Chuckman


“The latest US navy collision should worry Trump’s Asian allies”

Many lovers of peace are wishfully thinking that it might be possible Russia has some new, unannounced electronic warfare gizmo that neutralizes the massive electronics of these ships.

These crashes simply should not happen, and if you understand even a little what a tremendous armada of electronics and radars with which these ships are equipped, these events become all the more mysterious.

The ships literally travel in an electromagnetic bubble that should prevent anything of the kind.

Should, that is, if crew members are not asleep at the switch.

I very much doubt that the problem is caused by a new secret weapon.

Just plain old incompetence is certainly the explanation.

The incompetence that is bred of arrogance in individual commanders, and America’s military is packed with arrogant assumptions to start with. Bluster to spare, everywhere.

The incompetence perhaps also of crews recruited from this Millennial generation, people who often seem to have a poor grasp on essentials, many employers in the private sector saying they come out of school knowing how to do very little but with big attitudes and assumptions.

Whatever the cause, the non-ideologists among us can only enjoy the spectacle of the world’s imperial bully going around crashing costly ships into things.

It also makes you think of the F-35 fiasco fighter America has pushed onto all its allies. Its cost resembles the moon project, but does not even work.

The arrogance of power.

Response to another reader’s comment who thinks the blame is with the civilian ships:

Pretty ignorant.

The US would be all over the companies responsible for crashing their ships into its warships.

Cruise missile bombardments of their headquarters.


Everything in the bully’s arsenal.


John Chuckman


Top 10 books about tyrants
The novelist Christopher Wilson assembles a rogues’ gallery of despots and dictators

Okay, but you have studiously ignored others, in some cases just as horrible.

Lyndon Johnson was a man documented as having first won election in Texas through vote fraud.

And he was the man who started the pointless war in Vietnam that would kill 3 million locals, many in the most horrible fashion, for the sin of wanting their artificially-divided country re-united.

The million victims of Cambodia’s Killing Fields also belong to America’s credit. It was when their neutral government was toppled by American bombing and mini-invasions, that the monsters took control, and America stood by and watched.

Johnson also was an immensely corrupt man, building a small economic empire for himself while only serving at government jobs.

I would put the boyish smile of Obama here, too.

The Peace Prize winner – they gave it to him out of desperate hopes after George Bush – launched many wars and dirty murderous operations in the Mideast. He killed at least half a million in places as far-flung as Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and others, and he drove millions from their homes as refugees to almost destabilize Europe.

Very importantly, he initiated America’s industrial-scale extrajudicial killing scheme, a filthy, shameful thing that makes the efforts of the old Argentine junta look amateurish. He killed thousands of innocents, and even the intended targets were all legally innocent of anything.

He kept on the best of terms with the Mideast’s tyrants – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and others never having to fear repressing and killing their opponents. No drones for them.

He supported the coup in Ukraine against a democratically-elected government, causing the deaths of thousands, a civil war, and the emergence of neo-Nazi militias to the fore.

He then played games about Russian aggression, as they responded reasonably to all this, and re-ignited the Cold War, hurling troops and planes and tanks to Russia’s border.

He allowed the horror of Syria – at least 300,000 people killed – as mercenary rag-tag armies, pretending to be jihadists, worked to topple a peaceful government, well regarded by a majority of its people.

The horrors there included the use of small amounts of American-supplied chemical weapons (the government troops only recently discovering a small cache whose marking are unmistakable) in an effort to get an excuse (a “red line” as he put it) to send in the air force and bomb the crap out this beautiful land. Only the work of a much-cleverer leader prevented his success.

And on the home front, despite raising huge hopes in his own people (“Yes we can!”), he failed, in any serious way, to help them in eight years.

Fine man indeed with that smile and baritone voice. At least the corporate press still thinks so.

There are others, but I make my point.

In many cases, the only difference between what are called tyrants and others is a good press and being on the right side.

Much the way, history is written by the victors.


John Chuckman


Swastikas and Third Reich insignia once hidden away in web’s darkest corners now being worn on America’s streets a true cause for concern, says director of US Holocaust Memorial Museum Sara J. Bloomfield

Oh, please, where have you been?

Nazi regalia and styles have been popular in certain crowds in America for my whole life.

Motorcycle gangs, private militias, organizations like the Aryan Church. The US is packed with weird outfits.

If anything, I’d suggest there is less of it than decades ago.

Hey, how about the various Nazi-like groups America officially supports abroad – outfits like Ukraine’s Right Sector, Svoboda, Azov Battalion, and a number of others?

Some openly wear symbols and carry flags greatly resembling the swastika.


John Chuckman


Ex-intelligence chief: Trump’s access to nuclear codes is ‘pretty damn scary’
James Clapper questioned the US president’s ‘fitness to be in this office

No, what is “damn scary” is that this hack ever held the post as Director of CIA.

He has done nothing but make partisan attacks since early in Trump’s campaign.

Clapper has been right in the middle of every bit of dirty tricks, including the now-forgotten Russian dossier, since proved a fraud.

He also earlier maintained the faith about Russian hacks, but we now know definitively that they were not hacks but an insider’s leak.

A serious group of intelligence experts scrutinized the data, and said flat-out it was the work of an insider, something which again suggests the hypothesis of Seth Rich as the source, an idealistic young man who saw all the dirt going on with Hillary’s people and wanted to do something about it. He paid with his life.

Do we want appointed intelligence bureaucrats deciding who should be in office? Good God, Clapper is an irresponsible loon.

I’m sick of Trump, but Clapper as an accuser only proves how totally corrupt Washington is.

He is, of course, abusing the prestige of his former job title in making such attacks.

By the way, his very words are a measure of dishonesty.

He has to know those codes alone cannot launch missiles.

This is a juvenile appeal, speaking down to his audience.


John Chuckman


FBI reportedly advising companies to ditch Kaspersky apps and U.S. Defense Dept Drops Kaspersky from all related electronics.

I use Kaspersky, and it is simply excellent.

Over the years, I tried four other anti-malware programs, and I don’t believe any of them matched Kaspersky.

It is well designed, pretty user-friendly, has good help available, and is damned effective.

This kind of stuff from the FBI makes them look more ridiculous than they already are.

It resembles ex-CIA Director Clapper’s childish nonsense about Russians.

Honest to God, people of this low caliber are trying to drag the United States, kicking and screaming, back into the darkest days of the Cold War.

And you do not have to like Trump to say so.


John Chuckman


Alone on his pedestal {portraying Trump giving a Nazi salute]

The cartoon reflects a cheap sentiment endlessly repeated in our press.

I don’t like Trump. He is close to a complete failure.

But it is inaccurate and pretentiously precious to call him a Nazi.

And the entire press focus on Charlottesville is close to absurd.

Two ugly mobs were permitted to assault each other by a terrible police force.

Who really is to blame?

As for perspective, ten times that violence happens every weekend on the streets of Chicago as black gangs shoot each other, sometimes as many as 50 being hit by bullets in a weekend. (If you think I’m exaggerating, see the official stats presented with graphics: )

I don’t see any weeping and gnashing of teeth in our press over that regular and far bloodier event.

The one person killed in Charlottesville, and her death involved a bizarre set of circumstances, carries no meaning beyond that involved in dying by a stroke of lightning – that is to say, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A young man from Ohio attending the crazed festivities, a man of sub-normal intelligence – it is reported that he couldn’t even pass the mental requirements for joining the American Army, and, believe me, that is saying something – crashes his car into a crowd, and he does so not from any apparent intention to kill or maim but in a panic trying to escape a crowd threatening him in his car, a crowd armed with clubs, beating on his car and having smashed the windshield, a crowd of the people supposedly opposed to fascism.

The only lesson from this squalid event is that authorities should have controlled the situation from the start, and they did not even try.

There are idiots on both sides of such events in America, covering the range of the KKK to BLM, a movement that has done many stupid and dangerous things over its short life.

But over and above that, I am far more concerned about so much attention and energy focused on what was, in the scheme of things today, almost an insignificant event.

America bombs people in half a dozen countries. It supports mercenary terrorists in places like Syria. It has destroyed a number of societies over the last 15 years in the Middle East, killing something on the order of 2 million and driving millions from their homes as hopeless refugees.

It catapulted a democratic Ukraine into a bloody coup and civil war. It threatens a peaceful, rule-abiding Iran. It threatens to invade a democratic Venezuela in its induced turmoil.

It threatens North Korea. It runs tanks and fighters right up to the border of Russia, a peaceful state.

And it runs an industrial-scale assassination program – initiated by that former president with the boyish smile a lot of people still regard as a worthy person – a program that puts the efforts of the old Argentine junta to shame in their efforts at “disappearing” people legally guilty of nothing.

And, as The Guardian itself found, America’s police kill more than 1,100 of their own people each year.

America is simply an extremely brutal place – all of it – and one that frequently behaves in insane fashion, as when it slaughtered 3 million Vietnamese for the sin of wanting to reunite their country which had been artificially divided under American influence.

Trump is a terrible leader, but no more so than Pelosi, Gingrich, Graham, Schumer, Clinton, and a whole crowd of American national politicians who support all the horror.


John Chuckman


I fear HBO’s Confederate could be a flag waver for today’s neo-Nazis

This is beyond being silly.

The Civil War was the most titanic event in American history with twice as many soldiers killed in the early 1860s (over 600,000) as Americans lost in WWII (near 300,000), and that despite the huge advances in technology over 80 years.

It was also a huge social and economic event. It destroyed an old settled society in one part of the country, but it also raised a new industrial giant in another, a giant that would before long go on to become a world imperial force.

The Civil War was a true revolution, unlike the so-called American Revolution which was in fact a revolt by a local group of aristocrats against a foreign group of aristocrats. The Revolution, as few even realize was a minority event, too, with the colonial population estimated at about one-third rebels, one-third loyalists, and one-third indifferent. It succeeded only because of the intervention of France at key points, and otherwise would have simply deflated.

The Civil War more closely resembled a modern all-out war, especially for the South.

I cannot say how important it is to keep in mind the Civil War was not about slavery. Lincoln himself said he would gladly end it with slavery intact were that possible. He only finally issued the Emancipation Proclamation because the outcome of the conflict was not certain and he wanted to hurt the South.

It was also very much about British sympathies with the South which were seen as a danger. British merchants did good business with the South, helping finance their fight. Lincoln needed to put the moral force into the war, something which had never been there explicitly. Otherwise, slavery would not have ended.

The Civil War was about the power of the federal government versus the power of the state governments, an issue left undecided by America’s Revolution and its Constitution. Lincoln forged America into a country rather than a set of quasi-independent states.

All the noise over an event like Charlottesville loses sight completely of what the Civil War was about, with people trying to impose modern ways of looking at things on events not governed by those ways of looking. It’s all a bit pathetic and certainly lacking historical truth.

It should be emphasized that none of the key figures of that time in America was a defender of minorities, just as none of the founders were. It wasn’t even part of the world view. If you impose that today on a historical series, you only turn it into propaganda.

This piece is in that same vein.


John Chuckman


‘The self is more or less an invention from beginning to end’ Nicole Krauss

Not entirely an original thought, having been expressed by many others in various forms over the years.

But I think the thought is in fact a fantasy.

The word “invention” makes it scientifically false.

The truth is we are not, any of us, the same from birth, and it has nothing to do with invention.

Our endowments and weaknesses – shaped further by our experiences and our “sentimental education” which are not the same for any two humans, even identical twins.

We all live in our own realities to a considerable extent – in our interests, in our politics, in our religion, hopes, and in our fears. These at various points overlap with others, but they are never even close to the same.

Science tells us that we do not even see exactly the same things, given everything from color blindness to perceptual glitches, and we certainly do not feel the same things, given our moods, sensitivities, mental illnesses, etc.

Now, Kafka, whom Ms. Krause cites, was one of our great critics of oppression and crushing of the human spirit by tyranny.

And Israel is the location chosen by Ms. Krause. I wonder what Kafka would say about contemporary Israel?

Actually, I think I know, and it ain’t pretty.


John Chuckman


Almost Third of British Jews Consider Leaving UK Amid Rising Anti-Semitism

This poll is just a tool to be used to support more repressive pro-Israel policies in the UK.

First, it is always very iffy classifying behaviors or words as “anti-Semitic.”

It often comes down to an arbitrary decision.

Second, with Jeremy Corbyn’s taking the Labour Party leadership, Britain suffered through months of McCarthyite attacks over imaginary anti-Semitism. It much resembled the old drunken American Senator, Joseph McCarthy, waving a fistful of sheets of paper while bellowing about how they contained the names of communists in the government.

No proof was offered against associates of Corbyn, just loud accusations day after day, and they were self-serving accusations because certain leaders inside and outside the party just wanted to have things their own way.

Well, with all that noise for months, who would be surprised if there were increased fears of anti-Semitism among some in Britain? It is a self-created phenomenon; just as local news reports of murder or rape invariably engender fears unwarranted among some listeners.

Third, lots of people think about leaving where they live, year-in and year-out. It proves nothing, and since we do not know the measure of this ordinary fact, we have nothing with which to compare these results.

Fourth, threats of this nature – and it is a threat to say a substantial portion of any people want to leave if changes are not made by government – are not healthy for any society.

Fifth, one might ask those polled just where it is that they think they would go. To Israel? A place of immense stresses and threats and unhappiness? I don’t think so. Britain remains a quite peaceful society when compared with many alternatives.

Last, if it is indeed true that there is some genuine increase in prevailing anti-Semitism, and I do not accept that as a demonstrated fact, but if it were true, the fact is that it would have a very great deal to do with the constant ugly activities of Israel.

The oppression, the killings, the stealing of property, the hideous treatment of Gaza, and on and on. These are never out of our news because they are in fact continuous. How about some feedback to Israel about its completely unacceptable behavior, which is nothing less than barbaric?

But, no, what is actually being sought are more limits on the freedoms of a relative free country like Britain. We in many Western countries have experienced such efforts, as with the recent intense lobbying effort in America to make support of BDF illegal with severe penalties.

Imagine passing a law that makes peaceful protest against injustice illegal, completely ignoring the American Constitution and many international laws and conventions? Well, it was close to passing in America’s bought-and-paid-for Senate, bought-and-paid-for, that is, with campaign contributions from the nation’s most powerful lobbying organization, that for Israel.


John Chuckman


Barcelona’s chief rabbi urges Jews to move to Israel because ‘Europe is lost’
Meir Bar-Hen calls Spain a ‘hub of Islamist terror’

Truly, a cheap and rather ugly statement.

Reminds me of Netanyahu rushing to France – and against the French government’s expressed wishes – after the “Charlie Hebdo” events and travelling around to tell Jewish citizens of France that they should leave for Israel.

In many places, what Netanyahu did, repeated here by the rabbi, would be illegal. It is certainly so in Israel.

You know that it is against the law in Israel even to preach to Israelis in order to change their faith?

Can you think of a place with more turmoil, injustice, ugly behavior, and threats for the future than Israel?

Its long-term future is even doubtful for many, many reasons, having nothing to do with terror. Its Jewish population does not replace itself, and there are no more large sources of migrants, as we saw from Russia years ago, many of whom, by the way, have not found Israel a congenial place.

And I think most European Jews understand that and will ignore the rabbi just as they ignored Netanyahu.


John Chuckman


Teenagers’ blood being sold for £6,200 a shot
Founder claims treatment is ‘like plastic surgery from the inside out’

Organized, mechanized vampirism.

And here I thought I’d heard about everything truly absurd from America, but the country just keeps inventing new ones.

Too many people with more money than brains and, certainly, good sense.

This is stupid by every possible measure.

First, donated blood only remains in your body a very limited time. It ain’t like replacing broken bricks in an old building.

Second, this will generate a street market for teen-age blood with all the risks which that entails – drugs, AIDS, hepatitis, etc. People selling the stuff to fools at these rates are not going to be overly-fussy about their supply sources.

Third, for the great majority of teenagers it would be illegal to donate without parental consent. So, just imagine the greedy parents who begin pushing their kids into becoming blood-cows.

Think of all those gross American parents who now push their kids into everything from beauty contests for five year-olds to desperately seeking child parts in movies, a process which so often involves exposure to pedophilia.


John Chuckman


Mt Rushmore, Beware! Could Monument Toppling Become US National Sport?

Absolutely, and already there has been some talk of doing something about Stone Mountain, Georgia, a vast monument carved into a mountain just like Mount Rushmore. It features in huge bas relief key Confederate figures.

As for Rushmore, Jefferson was a scoundrel, almost totally.

There’s a huge number of reasons for objecting to him, but people remain influenced by his graceful written words, written self-consciously as an image-building fantasy and legacy yet reflecting virtually nothing he actually did when he had power. He broke every rule he ever set for good government and fairness.

Washington was a lifelong slave-holder and a businessman of quite sharp practices. He did things like buy up the script paid to poor revolutionary soldiers, when they badly needed funds, at a severe discount, making a handsome profit.

He was not generous in any business dealings, and all that phony stuff about not being paid while serving in the war was just that, phony. He had a cost-plus contract and submitted a truly huge bill – over $400,000 at that early time – to Congress after the war for everything right down to so many bottles of wine consumed at Valley Forge.

Yes, the same Valley Forge of legends about soldiers suffering winter terribly and being hungry. Well, old aristocrat Washington saw to it that his own needs were handsomely supplied.

When Washington first took military command, removing the arrangements of the Boston Patriots who actually got the conflict going, he instituted flogging and hanging to what became the Continental Army – he was a great admirer of British Army methods – and wrote letters home about the scum and rabble he found and had to deal with.

Roosevelt was a super-imperialist, a genuine brute in some cases, as well as a world-record slaughterer of wild animals. He’d go “hunting” and leave literally mountains of carcasses piled up. His hunting resembled that of Buffalo Bill, yet people regard him as a great defender of nature.

Lincoln is the only truly noble figure on Mount Rushmore, but even he is widely misunderstood. He did not fight to free slaves. He fought to make the central government dominant over the states, something contentious with many Americans to this day.

He also wasn’t just a humble country lawyer as is always featured but a very successful lawyer who worked for corporations like the Illinois Central and became well-enough off to build a handsome new two-story brick home in Springfield, Illinois, and become a notable politician.

By the way, none of these figures were great defenders of minority rights. They all were prejudiced if you interpret that word as some of the extreme people talking about Charlottesville do. Even Lincoln regarded blacks as somewhat less-promising material as citizens.

As was a figure such as dedicated slaveholder Andrew Jackson whose image graces the twenty-dollar bill. Jackson also was responsible for the Trail of Tears which saw thousands of long-settled native Americans, including many farmers, torn from their homes in the Southeast and sent to the then barren Oklahoma territory. Great numbers died, including women and children, in the course of that long forced-march.

Also, as late as the 1950s, we had President Harry Truman, who was a Southerner, always using the word “nigger” for black people. People then barely took note. Should his monuments and library be torn down?

Still, despite those truths, how idiotic it would be to tear it down Mount Rushmore. Better to teach visitors the facts.

And it really is no less idiotic to tear down a statue to a humble Confederate soldier.

The Civil War was America’s greatest experience with war, the deaths exceeding American losses in WWII eighty years later by about 100%, and that’s despite all the advance in weapons.

The Civil War also supplied the model for how generals would fight WWI, a terrible mistake but a historical fact nevertheless.

All monuments represent teaching opportunities. Destroying legitimate historical monuments is nothing less than the work of historical Luddites.

The whole business going on in America today over Charlottesville is a chaotic confusion with almost no coherent meaning. All sides tell incomplete stories, and all sides have prejudices.

But most important of all is that while Americans wail and gnash their teeth over a situation they do not even understand, they ignore far more terrible things their truly brutal country does.

It is busy killing and spreading horror in half a dozen lands, and the soldiers coming back from that filthy work will be treated well.

And that truly bloody symbol, the Stars and Stripes, will be saluted and honored daily despite its stripes representing the blood of millions of innocents killed abroad in colonial wars and interference in the lives of others, everywhere from Korea and Vietnam to Iraq and Libya.