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Monthly Archives: January 2018

John Chuckman

COMMENT TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

What’s Wrong with Liberal Jews?
” … somehow shooting simulated Arabs [Jerry Seinfeld] and grinning while doing so does not appear to bother him one bit.”

“What’s Wrong with Liberal Jews?”

Simple, there are none left.

The liberal Jews I grew up with – I lived in two neighborhoods, as a boy and as a young man, which had large Jewish populations – have virtually disappeared.

The attitudes evinced by many Jews in America today are greatly different than what I knew.

Israel’s founding involved the thinking of some very extreme Zionists like Ze’ev Jabotinsky who famously wrote in the 1920s of the need for “an iron wall” in the future Israel. Indeed, Russians should know that what he wrote was in Russian.

The concept of an iron wall certainly became unofficial Israeli policy. We see it in many, many behaviors. It is an iron wall towards all of Israel’s neighbors, and especially towards the Palestinians they continue to abuse and take things from.

Support for the bizarre behavior of Israel requires may compromises of conscience.

And it is an old and well-known phenomenon that for many people, as they move from youth to senior years, they become far more conservative anyway.

Further, the word “liberal” in Israel is almost a dirty word. Israeli fanatics, the people who always control the balance of power in divided Israeli elections, hate liberals because the essence of being a true liberal is opposing tyrannies of all kinds and respecting human and democratic rights.

Yes, Israel claims to be the Mideast’s only democracy, but that is only a heroic-sounding slogan meant to influence American thinking and comfort American supporters.

No state which accepts only one kind of people can possibly be called a democracy, and no state which keeps millions of people under endless occupation can possibly be called a democracy, and certainly no state that just periodically seizes the homes and farms of others can be called a democracy.

But if you highly qualify that word “democracy,” so that it just describes a political process in which only a select group of people from a society may partake, then you may call Israel a democracy, but then so was Nationalist South Africa a democracy by the same skewed definition. And so was the American Confederacy by exactly the same definition. And the world has had many other such “democracies.”

Surely, calling Israel a democracy is a kind of elaborate charade, but it is easy to see that in order to keep the charade going, you cannot have a lot of people questioning and doubting – which are the very activities genuine liberals always do. So, Israel has virtually no space for liberals, even less than in the imperial mother country, America, where small numbers are found huddled in country stores in places like Vermont or parts of Oregon.

The liberal way of looking at things does not sit well in Israel, it almost goes without saying. Even organizations like Israeli Labor Party do not reflect truly left or liberal views. The truth is that you cannot really be an Israeli without being, implicitly at least, a rather severe imperialist.

Were it otherwise, Israel could not continue keeping millions of people effectively under police-state government, the young men who make the IDF’s ugly excesses possible would not want to continue their day-in, day-out job of suppressing a hostile population and of occupying land they know is not theirs. Israel’s gigantic security services – gigantic, certainly, relative to the size of the country – wouldn’t be able to continue their years-long campaign of terror. A just-published book, for example, describes Israel’s 2700 assassinations, but assassination is just one of the dark practices employed as a matter of course by Mossad and Shin Bet.

For all these reasons and more, Israel is accurately described as a garrison state, much like an old Crusader fortresses of the Middle Ages. It effectively provides an American colony in the region, too, such an arrangement being seen as beneficial by both sides – by Israelis who want the greatest possible security and by the Pentagon-CIA Axis which wants dominance everywhere. It is convenient, too, for American Jews (the largest Jewish population outside Israel) who are allowed dual-citizenship and to freely move back and forth, almost as though Israel were a 51st state.

Those kinds of arrangements do not leave a lot of room for truly liberal sentiments, either on the part of residents or on the part of supporters abroad.

“Liberal,” through long effort on the part of government and media is dirty word in Israel, even more extremely so than it has become through much of America itself. After all, America’s post-WWII imperialism and constant colonial wars leave little room for liberalism to flourish and it has indeed been dying for many decades in America, today’s Democratic Party being pretty much a War Party with slightly different domestic views than the Republicans.

Americans supporting Israel are affected by all these political currents and can hardly assume a different posture without being subject to ridicule or contempt. There are few individuals anywhere who stand up to the prevailing views in a country, no matter how negative they may be. Just making a living is hard enough without taking on a full-time cause, one bringing down on your head many hostilities.

America, except for small enclaves and local institutions – political boutiques might almost be an apt description – really has little left that can be legitimately described as liberal, and the case in Israel is far more extreme, liberal voices often being treated as traitors.

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COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

State of the Union: Donald Trump suggests UK among ‘enemies of America’ after UN Jerusalem vote
US foreign aid should ‘only go to friends of America’, says President

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Response to a comment suggesting Trump was being logical:

Why comment when you have nothing to say?

“Enemies” is a very strong word, and it is totally inappropriate in this context.

Because someone disagrees with you doesn’t turn them into an enemy, unless you are an ignorant, loud-mouthed coward like Trump.

So, by this 3-year old’s attempt at logic, her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition are enemies?

His speech should have been laughed at with a laughter reflecting contempt.

Only there’s nothing funny about the abuse of power and stealing what’s not yours – the very things his dirty little Jerusalem deal with the corrupt and murderous Netanyahu supports.
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Response to a comment saying foreign aid is supposed to be about helping need:

Actually, foreign aid has always reflected influence peddling.

Real needs take a back seat, always.

You see, those payments represent something which can be ended or just diminished or increased as the donor wishes, and what the donor wishes depends on whether the recipient does as he is asked in international organizations and votes.

It has never been any different. Indeed, back in the late Middle Ages, the common practice of granting a “pension,” as by the King of Spain to an important court personage, say, in the Court of England, served the same purpose.

Of course, we should always bear in mind that Israel gets a slice of foreign aid fatter than everyone else on the planet. It literally floats on American subsidies.

Just the annual formal aid package – not including the many other subsidies and favors given – provides each Israeli with about $500 each year, a top-up only to be wished for anywhere else.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY IAN KEDDIE IN THE GUARDIAN

How the UK armed forces would look if you started from scratch
The debate about Britain’s defence funding has reached boiling point. But we could have a better military – and save money too

The largest and most useless military expenditure on the books is Trident.

You could rebuild a city or a health service with the money going to Trident.

And the impossible irony is that it buys you zero security. It buys you zero deterrence.

Those missiles cannot be used unless the US wants them used, and they can only be used for targets the US wants them used on.

In effect, Britain is subsidizing the Pentagon by bearing the cost of a portion of its missile-submarine fleet.

Britain’s senior naval officers get to ride around on the boats and brag and gloat over what they have that others do not have.

But that’s it – that’s what British taxpayers get for tens of billions of dollars.

Oh, there is one other thing.

You get to be targeted by the nuclear missiles of potential opponents, something true only for countries who possess nuclear weapons.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY CAS MUDDE IN THE GUARDIAN

It’s fashionable to say western democracies are dying. Don’t buy it (yet)
The claim that everything is getting worse is in part the consequence of egocentric bias among liberal commentators

What Western democracies?

America or Britain or France cannot be called democracies by anyone with some history and political understanding.

They have democratic trappings, but they are not remotely democracies.

America is run by money, by those who have vast amounts of it aided by those organizations designed to help and assist them.

I see no evidence things are very much different in Britain and France.

The British system for example is rigged so that someone with about 35% of the national vote can form “a majority government,” a majority of parliamentary seats, that is, from gerrymandered electoral districts.

A prime minister then, supported by a minority of actual voters, can freely and secretly go to war or, indeed, do almost anything he or she pleases because a so-called majority government becomes something pretty close to a dictatorship with few if any constraints.

In America’s last election, it took a multi-billionaire to defeat the woman who spent an unbelievable amount of money to be defeated. Hillary spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.2 to 1.8 billion dollars, money collected from special interest groups and plutocrats just as is the case for the great bulk of all American campaign contributions.

It is not ordinary people who supply the funds to either party, funds used literally to flood the public with advertising and staged rallies and all kinds of phony nonsense right down to gigantic imperial American flags carefully mounted behind every stage where a candidate briefly appears. Funds used to buy experts in manipulating people’s perceptions, to buy tracking polls, to buy barrages from telephone call centers, to buy writers for slogans and ghost-written books, to buy everything from voice coaches to make-up artists and even to guest appearances by pop singers.

Anyway, if you call that a choice for Americans, you have a problem with words.

And isn’t choice – the people’s choice – the very central idea of democracy?

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY CHARLIE PHILLIPS IN THE GUARDIAN

Want to win an Oscar? Stay on the straight and narrow
In the first of a monthly documentary column, our critic bemoans the dearth of daring film-makers from the Bafta and Oscar nominees

Please, when in any organized endeavor, such as awards or honors, do daring people win?

Rarely, if ever, does even high quality win.

It is just the nature of organizations, like bureaucracies, to sink into mediocrity and safety.

Besides, these awards are nothing more than an industry’s own efforts to promote and market its products. Recognition of excellence, when it happens, is almost accidental.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Russian fighter jet flies within 5ft of US Navy surveillance aircraft
Washington calls on Moscow ‘to cease unsafe actions’

You are quoting Washington’s inaccurate hyping of it.

Russia reports a professionally-conducted intercept.

And, of course, the Americans have no damned business being where they are.

It’s just a constant game of provocation anymore from good old America.

Their stunts put us all at risk.

Why, in God’s name, does anyone need that?

Hey, America, why don’t you go do something worthwhile in the world for a change?

You know, the way China is building a vast and creative project like the new Silk Road to improve the future economic lot of humanity?

No, America bombs, threatens, and provokes – virtually 24 hours-a-day anymore.

By the way, here is an interesting bit for readers, showing how America really does business with its best allies behind the scenes, when all the pretense of friendliness and principles is dropped for the public relations claptrap that it is.

And this is that seemingly friendly, smiling old hack, Joe Biden, not crude Mr. Trump:

https://sputniknews.com/world/201801301061187790-us-forced-eu-sanctions-russia/

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO REVIEW OF A BOOK BY RONEN BERGMAN IN THE INDEPENDENT

Poisoned toothpaste and exploding phones: New book chronicles Israel’s ‘2,700’ assassination operations
Intelligence correspondent Ronen Bergman persuades Mossad agents, Shin Bet and military personnel to disclose their stories on state-sponsored killings

Israel has demonstrated little to the world over its brief history beyond the fact that it is capable of succeeding as a criminal state. It has flourished on lawlessness and criminal activity of every description.

Assassinations, kidnappings, torture, illegal imprisonment, theft, terrorism, starting wars with every neighbor it has, using banned weapons, making nuclear weapons, making chemical weapons, proliferation of nuclear weapons (with apartheid South Africa), blackmailing other states, and more.

The record is simply appalling, and the world cannot go on saying everything is okay because of what some other criminals did in a different country on a different continent three-quarters of a century ago. That cannot be an excuse for decades of new terror and lawlessness.

All people everywhere are capable of sinking into corruption and criminal behavior if they are subject to no standards, no oversight, no checks and balances, and no penalties for wrongdoing. And add to that, allowed to function under the general acceptance of a terrible principle that anything can be excused owing to events of another place and era and people.

When I think of the way our establishment regards Israel, blind to all the terrible things done in its name, I am reminded of J Edgar Hoover whose FBI in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, simply refused to acknowledge that organized crime existed in the United States.

He spent all of his considerable resources chasing non-existent communists.

But organized crime did exist, and in a big way. And it grew and flourished precisely because of the way Hoover ignored it.

Turns out that old J. Edgar (who was a closeted gay and a cross-dresser) had been badly compromised by the Mob.

The Mob apparently had compromising photos of him.

J. Edgar and his companion, Clyde, also used to like vacationing at some Mob-run resorts, where they received all kinds of special treatment, including tips on how to successfully bet at the Mob-run race track. Here was the country’s chief law-enforcement officer accepting betting tips from the Mafia.

Now, does that remind us of anything?

As, for example, the badly compromised American Senate, Congress, and President – all of whom are completely blind to the crimes Israel perpetrates in the Mideast? People who, if they stopped accepting bribes and favors, could quickly straighten out one of the world’s worst ongoing injustices?

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

“On Holocaust Memorial Day, saying ‘never again’ is not enough – we must be constantly vigilant against the far right’

I just cannot agree with that.

What we must be on guard about is the old-fashioned values like respect, tolerance, and decency.

We see such values violated time and time again in numerous places in the world, and about many of them never a word is said.
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Response to a comment about the massive WWII losses of Russia:

Yes, although the ghastly number is put now at 27 million.

The invasion of Russia was the most terrible event in all of human history, almost dwarfing anything else.

Stalingrad was the greatest battle. Kursk was the greatest tank battle. The Siege of Leningrad saw tens of thousands of bodies stacked like frozen logs.

But what do we see today in our press and from our politicians?

Hate Russia. Russia is evil. Russia is dangerous. Send troops and tanks to the border of Russia.

And this wave of filth comes after a long and costly Cold War and the West’s refusal to really help Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed and it experienced the equivalent of a Great Depression.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Holocaust Memorial Day 2018: 92-year-old Kindertransport survivor warns about politics of division
‘Lessons have not been learnt in the 20th century. As far as the 21st century goes, we seem to not only have not learnt the lesson but are on track to copy it’

“Lessons have not been learnt in the 20th century.”

Absolutely right.

Just look at Israel and the concentration camp it runs in Gaza.

I’m not sure human beings are advanced enough to learn anything of the kind.

Chimpanzees with big brains.

And we know now from animal researchers that chimps are quite murderous.

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Response to a comment about dangers of the extreme Right:

Au contraire.

Extreme anything.

The Left is just as capable of horrors as the Right.

The Right had Hitler.

The Left had Stalin.
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Repose to a comment saying thousands of Jews were leaving France for Israel:

Thousands leaving?

I don’t think so.

That’s a commonly repeated nonsense.

Of course, the violent, ugly prime minister of Israel has, against all standards of appropriate international behavior, actually travelled around France actively seeking people to come to Israel and leave France.

He did so on his uninvited and unwanted visit following the events of Charlie Hebdo.

But you would have to be a mighty foolish person to leave a country like France to go to a place like Israel, which is little more than a garrison state.
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Response to a comment citing the old cliché about being condemned to repeat history:

George Santanyana’s saying is much over-quoted and, despite a superficial appeal, is actually quite incorrect.

Humans simply always do the same human things because they are human.

And, most importantly, there is no such thing as a true repeat of history.

Herodotus had it right twenty-five hundred years ago when he said history was like a flowing river where you could never dip your hand into the same place twice.
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Response to a comment:

Yes, indeed, and I’m glad you included, along with the Palestinians, Syria and other places.

The Neocon Wars since the time of Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush have likely killed about 2 million people.

They have sent several million running for their lives as refugees, too.

Arabs, of course. Muslims, mostly, of course.

And what has all that violence been about?

Tyranny? Nonsense. The US and Israel love tyrants who know their place – Mubarak, el Sisi, Salman, Abdullah, al-Sabah, Al Khalifa, etc, etc.

Democracy? Where do you see that, including in Israel where they want only one kind of person?

No, the Neocon Wars are a kind of geopolitical cleansing operation of the region around Israel. The creation of a vast cordon sanitaire.

Once prosperous and well-run nations like Libya and Syria are simply left in ruins by America.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JILL ABRAMSON IN THE GUARDIAN

“Trump’s attack on the FBI is an attack on the US constitution itself”

Oh, I am very sorry, but I think you have that quite wrong.

I don’t want to defend Trump. He’s a nasty piece of work, but even a nasty piece of work can be correct sometimes.

The FBI in fact has no place in the US Constitution. It could be argued that its very existence violates that document.

Freedom of speech and assembly combined with an American Stasi?

But even if its very existence doesn’t violate the Constitution, its hideous lifetime record of behavior does.

And, again, ignoring what we think of Trump, we do have strong suggestions of highly inappropriate behavior by the FBI around the election of Trump.

Does anyone really think secret police should be able to work against a proper election?

Keeping secret files on Congressmen. Helping Presidents do political spying. Hounding innocent citizens. Setting up agent provocateur operations. These and far more are the FBI’S legacy.

If you want a clear brief history of this abysmal organization, see:

https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/the-dreadful-record-of-the-fbi/

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY ANDREW HELMS IN THE GUARDIAN

How the anthem protests split one small town
The sharp divisions of the Trump era were laid bare in rural North Carolina when a rumor circulated that the high school football team would be forced to kneel for the Star-Spangled Banner

Nothing better highlights the bizarre qualities of contemporary America than the NFL football players-kneeling controversy.

If you visit some alt-right Internet sites you will read the most seething and angry comments over the simple fact that some football players have chosen to protest by kneeling rather than standing during the playing of the national anthem.

Playing the national anthem at the start of a paid entertainment has always, always been inappropriate, but it is very “American.” The act itself is a measure of American Patriotic excess, generating social pressure on everyone to give a public quasi-religious response to music which doesn’t even belong there.

And many British people may not know this, but back a decade or so ago, the NFL players stayed inside for the anthem, only appearing on the field when it was over.

The only reason they have appeared on the field during the anthem since is because the American military started paying the NFL some fairly big money to have the players stand there.

Why would it do that? To excite young men to join the military when they see their sports heroes standing there.

How very inspiring.

So, who is it that really has been disrespectful to America’s symbols? The guys manipulating them to get recruits, the American military in need of young bodies to send off to America’s pointless colonial wars.

Of course, at a “deeper” level, one perhaps not appreciated by Trump or his trailer-park devotees, the very essence of being American is supposed to have something to do with rights and freedoms, including the right to protest injustice.

Not many months back, a police officer in Salt Lake City was released without blame after he shot a young black man in the back and killed him. The young man was running away, and a camera caught the entire sequence. Of course, this was not a unique event, but it was a well-documented one.

Some who saw the video say the officer literally executed the young man. Protests were immediate.

That’s what the players are kneeling about. In my sense of values, their protest is entirely fitting, and an even more demonstrative one would be.

Ironically, the players protesting have been almost overly respectful by going down on their knees, a gesture understood by most as respectful. It is only a protest because the gesture is different than the expected one.

Just think of what Trump and his pick-up truck crowd would be saying if these players instead were doing what some black American athletes did at the Mexico City Olympics of 1968. They raised their arms high in the black power salute while the anthem played. You should look back at the American reactions to that if you want to read about something exceeding the intensity of the current controversy.

This controversy has been ridiculous almost beyond telling. With all the terrible problems in America, from violent police to terrible ghettoes, and with all the wars and terror in the world, much of it deliberately created by America, here is the President and other major figures and commentators fiercely engaged over how football players pose during a piece of music.

The utter stupidity is comparable only with the Russo-phobia which has totally gripped the country for many months, a phenomenon comparable in every way with some primitive wave of fear over demon-possession. Yet this nonsense has engaged virtually all the country’s highest figures and its major security institutions and news organizations.

“Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Israeli pilots say they would refuse to fly deported asylum seekers back to Africa: ‘I will not be a partner to this barbarity’
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Response to a comment “Strange how crazy, violent and irrational people’s comments become when the word “Israel” is mentioned”:

And do you think that just might possibly be owing to the reality of what Israel does, week-in, week-out, to several million people?

Gaza is a concentration camp, an unimaginable thing given the history of the people enforcing it. An enforced filth-hole with infinite restrictions on a million and a half human beings just because they’re not Jewish.

But there you have it, plain as day, one of the most brutal behaviors by any government in the world today. Never mind Myanmar or other godawful places.

And others are supposed to just ignore it?

Isn’t that exactly what encourages the worst evils, people ignoring them?

And here the same Israelis are in the press desperately maneuvering to send some poor black African refugees to their deaths. All because Mr. and Mrs. Netanyahu do not happen to like having black people in the neighborhood.

Nice to see a few brave pilots stand up against them.

But what week passes that Israel doesn’t openly, violently steal someone else’s home in the West Bank or East Jerusalem?

And surely you know that making threats against the UN, as Israel has done for months, gains it no friends or admirers.

Especially when those threats are simply a bad-tempered response to honest views and acts.

Imagine angrily leaving a fine agency like UNESCO, which does many good works in the world, just because it doesn’t follow Israel’s dictates, a country representing about one-tenth of one percent of the world’s people?

It’s arrogant in the extreme, but it does come from a state which remains in contempt of literally dozens of Security Council Resolutions passed over many decades.

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

As Donald Trump’s emissary to Israel, Mike Pence is looking to a future in which he calls the White House home

No, what’s going on is more urgent than 2020.

It’s about the 2018 Congressional elections, in which, before this, it seemed very likely Republicans would lose control.

Pence is doing urgent missionary work in Israel.

Yes, we’ll move the embassy even sooner. Yes, we kill the Iran nuclear agreement.

In return, the Israel Lobby in the US will shower key Republicans with campaign finance gold. And money is extremely important in US elections.

The high-end papers and broadcasters – all in fact owned by Jewish Americans whose publications are doggedly loyal to Israel – will also shower them with favorable publicity and play down anything bad which happens.

The latter I am certain is what Trump’s whole sudden lurch on the embassy was about.

He has been clubbed by the high-end press from the beginning.

It is a certainty we will begin to see a gentle change. He will be treated much more respectfully.

After all, I don’t know whether readers appreciate the fact, but the New York Times, for example, submits every story having anything to do with Israel to the official Israeli Censor before it publishes.

Deference like this is typical too of the Washington Post or networks like CBS.

It was Harry Truman who first showed American politicians what the Lobby could do.

He was losing to Thomas Dewey in the polls at the time the self-declared Israel sought American recognition.

Truman was reluctant in light of all that was happening in Palestine – including massacres – to grant recognition.

He was tirelessly lobbied, and he finally relented.

Well, he won, by a small margin, but he won. Favorable publicity and lots of campaign funds plus smart operators coming to work for the campaign saved the day.

Truman actually wrote about the almost headache-inducing lobbying he was subjected to before he gave in.

The example was not lost.

By Lyndon Johnson’s day, lobbying for Israel was becoming an industry. Johnson set the further example of granting Israel the early version of the massive foreign aid it now receives as subsidy.

So, the pattern was established gradually of lobby for Israel, and Israel actually ends up not only with benefits, many of which may be unwarranted, but with money.

An American Congressman voting on Israel-oriented bills is carefully monitored for his correctness. After all, the same help can be shifted to the opposition, adding a stick as well as carrot.

When a Congressman votes for Israel, he is assured of support. He or she never considers that effectively a shell game is going on; money or benefits go to Israel from the American Treasury, and the Congressman gets financial and publicity support for his or her vote.

By the way, the system is so advanced and developed today that every freshman Congressman is given an invitation to a little all-expenses-paid holiday in Israel where he or she will be wined and dined and royally propagandized.

Any Congressman not accepting the invitation can pretty well be certain his next election (every two years) will be a very difficult one.

When you really think about it, given all the vast and complex problems in the world and all the wars and struggles including all the vast and nasty problems of America itself, why do any American officials spend special time and efforts on Israel, a country with a population the size of Ecuador?

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

Russia ‘Expert’ Michael McFaul Don’t Need No Russian Language Skills
Former US Ambassador to Moscow, neocon errand boy, would-be color revolution regime changer, and self-proclaimed Russia specialist Michael McFaul doesn’t feel the need to maintain his already highly questionable Russian

http://russia-insider.com/en/russia-expert-michael-mcfaul-dont-need-no-russian-language-skills/ri22287

He is typical of his type in America.

All those private institutes – dozens of them, directly subsidized by billionaires who can claim tax exemptions for donating, or in some cases, secretly subsidized by CIA – are little more than propaganda mills churning out “papers” and “reports” with little or no academic value.

The American “institutes” also serve as sinecures for political has-beens like the former ambassador.

They can sit ensconced in leather chairs looking out the window and be called “fellows” or “senior fellows” as though they were special professors at an important university. It’s kind of like kids playing house, old politicians playing professor and getting a title.

None of these institutes has serious academic credibility because they are, by their very nature, one-sided and serving to promote a view.

The pictures you have here of the ex-ambassador so fit the image – I have been inside such places – of the average habitué, privileged-looking and carrying himself with a very identifiable, distinctive attitude.

His photos are as silly as the words he has written, for anyone with a little familiarity.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY ROY WENZL IN THE GUARDIAN

The kill chain: inside the unit that tracks targets for US drone wars

I cannot read an article like this.

Obama’s industrial-scale extrajudicial killing system is moral filth. it violates every principle any of us were raised to honor – principles from parents, schools, and churches.

Indeed, the use of the word “wars” in this context is sickeningly dishonest. How is it war for a computer operated drone to fly over some people and fire a Hellfire missile at them?

I still cannot believe it is so casually accepted in our so-called democracies which claim rule of law. One would have hoped people would rise to reject this revolting practice.

After all, only a few decades ago many were appalled by what went on in Argentina under the military junta with people clubbed and drugged and thrown into the ocean from airplanes.

Now, of course, American authorities at that time were fully aware of what was going on, and who knows maybe the CIA worked in cooperation to identify “leftists” for being disappeared.

After all, in the Indonesian genocide against communists at the fall of Sukarno, the US officials actually submitted lists of names for the savage fury which saw at least half a million have their throats cut and their bodies dumped into rivers.

Our politicians and press and some historians like to wonder how it is that regimes like Stalin’s or Hitler’s could carry on the way they did without massive public objection. I think we have the answer before our eyes.

And, in response to a comment below, I am aware Britain is engaged in this horror, too. Of course, that is the way it is these days with America demanding and its European “allies” responding as good “willing helpers.”

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

POLL: “83% Reject Homosexuality”

This makes little sense. The poll tells us nothing.

Why?

Homosexuality – which exists quite naturally in every large human population – is estimated to involve anywhere from 4% to 10% of the population.

Your poll result is much like claiming 90% of people reject left-handedness, which, as it happens, involves about 10% of human populations.

If churches want to preach against it, they are free to do so, but that, too, is meaningless.

What would be the sense of preaching against left-handedness?

Or red hair? Or green eyes? Or Russians, as American secular-religious super-Patriots do so much?

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

“Why Lyndon Johnson, a truly awful man, is my political hero”

I am very sorry to read that from anyone.

I know Johnson well, having read several major biographies and the material touching him in other biographies and histories.

He was, without question, the most evil man ever in the Oval Office, and that really is saying something.

The most destructive, without question.

Johnson started a gigantic and completely unnecessary war using cheap tricks. It would eventually kill something on the order of 3,000,000 Vietnamese and leave that land a horror zone of landmines and Agent Orange, things which are still killing.

Of course, the Vietnam War was also responsible for creating the conditions which led to the “Killing Fields” in Cambodia. That country’s neutral government was toppled owing to all the American bombing and incursions. Another 1,000,000 died.

Johnson also has a documented history of election fraud. Robert Caro documented fraud in his very first election in Texas. He worked with a very dirty bunch of people. And of course, there was more fraud in the 1960 Presidential election. Johnson and his boys delivered Texas for Kennedy.

Johnson was a king-sized crook with piles of dirty dealings with the likes of Billie Sol Estes and Bobby Baker, dealings which without Kennedy’s assassination would have ended his career and shortly. Johnson’s truly filthy associates included a man by the name of Malcom “Mac” Wallace, a convicted murderer and a dangerously violent man suspected of a number of paid killings.

Wallace is thought to have killed one of Johnson’s early political opponents, an honest man who wouldn’t bend. Most interestingly, a fingerprint of Wallace’s was found on a carton in the Texas Book Depository. That fingerprint was absolutely identified by a world-class expert, but it has never been explained in the official version of events.

If not part of the actual plot, Johnson was at least complicit in the assassination. Kennedy’s death literally changed his whole fortunes and outlook. Indeed, the Russian intelligence people secretly concluded that he was part of the plot.

Johnson’s character I think is best exemplified by his quickie swearing-in ceremony aboard Air Force One in Dallas. It was completely unnecessary, but he insisted. We’ve all seen the news photo. There is Mrs. Kennedy, still wearing her blood-stained suit standing near Johnson for the photo.

He was both using her as a publicity gimmick and, I very much believe, subjecting her and her family to a degradation ceremony. He truly loathed the Kennedys for the way he had been treated as Vice President, shuffled aside with duties of zero importance. Witnesses to his private conversations testify that his hatred was intense.

Johnson also had the distinction of some kind of still-secret complicity with Israel in its 1967 War and the ferocious effort to sink the USS Liberty. There is no other explanation for this man’s mild reaction – and Johnson had a legendary temper – to Israel’s deliberate and serious act of war. So, he willingly saw about forty American servicemen killed in some dark scheme we still do not understand. Indeed, the belief of a number of analysts is that Mossad had knowledge of Johnson’s complicity in the assassination, and that knowledge is what shut him up.

I have no idea as to just why Johnson engaged in both civil rights reform and “a war on poverty.” I suspect a very guilty conscience in part and in equal part a lust for some political immortality. Whatever the reason, not only was the war on poverty a failure, but a good deed or two can never compensate for what this truly evil man did in total.

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE ON A SITE CALLED WOMEN SYSTEM

Make No Mistake, Trump’s Government Shutdown Is About Racism

The incident is just one more example, as if any more were needed, of Trump’s genuine insensitivity to others.

“That book” tells us clearly that all the he tends to talk about is some aspect of himself – his view, his experience, his old story, repeated countless times.

A truly tiresome man, apart from all his other demonstrated inadequacies.

The only thing giving this man continued traction with his own political base is his junk pile of notions about migrants, Muslims, and Mexicans.

He offers nothing else, all of the more encouraging words of his campaign having long since fallen into the gutter.

It’s xenophobia and prejudice disguised as policy over legitimate concerns.

The fact that his base, although a minority, is as large as it is, of course, says some pretty unpleasant things about America.

Trump will never live down the revelations of “that book.’

But equally, he will just ignore the stark facts revealed. He always has.
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Response to a critical comment:

A truly uninformed statement on your part.

Your tone sounds much like one of those American evangelist types, pointing at people, talking about sin.

Sorry to disillusion you, but I hate no one, not even Trump.

I do hate dishonesty. I do hate violence. I do hate arrogance. I do hate the unwillingness to learn anything new.

And unfortunately, America does appear to have a good many people with exactly those as featured characteristics. And Trump has played on them as his political base.

As to the book, again, you simply do not know what you are talking about.

I’ve heard the author interviewed at length. I’ve read the book. He is a dependable old-fashioned journalist type.

After all, you live in a country where at any given moment you can have no idea of what is actually happening, there are so many extreme claims in different directions.

You have to trust someone sometime. I’ll put at least some trust in an intelligent, soft-spoken, old-fashioned reporter type. He won’t get everything right, but who does? My God, Trump contradicts himself from month to month and thinks nothing of it.

Does he make mistakes? Of course, he does. But an open-minded person who hears him out and reads the book will say without a doubt, that what he says largely has the ring of truth.

And I can virtually guarantee you, as a person who has read a great deal of history and biography over the years, that that will be the main verdict of history. Trump stands naked before the world, but as a very great writer said, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

I do consider myself a pretty sound observer of human beings, and while there are a couple things in the book where I say “I wouldn’t be sure about that,” but, overall, I think he has it right.

I actually wanted Trump to be elected, hoping for just a few changes in the awful practices of the American government – as in killing about 2 million people in the Middle East in the Neocon Wars and assuming a rational relationship with Russia and China – but he has done nothing but disappoint.

He delivers nothing but more war more stupid spending on war and a lot of filthy words about refugees. You do understand, do you, that the bulk of those refugees are the direct result of all of America’s bombing and horror in the Middle East?

Americans should be ashamed. And Trump should be ashamed of his horrible, ugly words. But he is not. He has no shame.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Technology will widen pay gap and hit women hardest – Davos report
Research into jobs finds men’s dominance in IT and biotech is reversing trend towards equality

It’s an interesting observation, but it’s one of those things where you say to yourself, “I should have realized that.”

The dominance of men in IT is clear.

The future of IT as a component of virtually everything done in goods and services is clear also.

So, the prediction seems an inevitability.

However, I do have a problem with putting it into these terms: “Technology will widen pay gap and hit women hardest.’

I don’t think it is accurate to talk about a “pay gap” when comparing completely different jobs. This language creates a false sense of an issue of equality or social justice.

To take an extreme but instructive example, no one thinks of the pay gap between, say, cleaning staff jobs and engineers, whether we are talking about men or women.

If men are attracted to and successful at IT jobs and women are much less so, it is just a natural phenomenon that the difference in average wages will grow.

I don’t know, but the trend may well become an empirical measure of some innate differences between the sexes, just as in the realm of intensely physical activities, we recognize differences by having versions of sports for men and versions for women.

Any differences in pay in these versions of a sport are really the result of the two markets’ sizes and people’s preferences for one version over the other. I don’t see how, unless women show a new level of interest in IT, the same division can be avoided.

Perhaps we should not be overly concerned because I really do think technology is before very long going to generate vast pools of unemployment for both sexes, and that is going to be a much profounder issue than pay differences between groups.

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

“As Trump Tweets the Generals Run the Show and They’re Restarting the Nuclear Arms Race”

That sadly is the truth. He’s a noisy child diverting people from the real show.

I do believe that it makes little difference anymore who is president.

Unless, somehow, the US came up with another figure like John Kennedy.

But then I think we all know what would be the fate of such an unlikely figure.

Contrary to all our hopes and dreams and teachings, it is often the evil men who prosper.

And the words of Lord Acton, long ago, about the effects of power on corruption remain some of the truest ever uttered. America approaches total corruption as a political society.

We are in for very dark times.
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Response to a comment saying “Fortunately Russia gets ten times as much bang for the buck” in its arms:

Unfortunately, the number of bucks the Pentagon has at its disposal is almost unlimited.

That’s the way it is when you have the privilege of having the world’s reserve currency and you have an irresponsible, out-of-control form of government.

America is pretty close to totally corrupt, or it wouldn’t be thinking the way it does.

Russia and China must spend enough to make war unthinkable for the US without sinking into an unwinnable arms race.

No one understands this better, I think, than Mssrs. Putin and Xi.
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Response to a comment saying “Putin is not going to get into an arms race with the USA”:

Putin has already clearly stated his intention to avoid that.

I don’t know whether it will prove possible, but this is a man of extraordinary ability.

And I think we are all fortunate to have him. All of us in the world.
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Response to a comment saying “The CIA has a budget of around $52 billion a year”:

No one really knows the budget of the CIA.

What’s on the books is window-dressing.

And besides, it enjoys the corrupt privilege of financing itself through drug sales, gun running, and a whole lot of other Mafia-like operations.

Who do you think is responsible for the plague of opioids on the world markets today, causing violent havoc with low-level drug-dealing gangs from Chicago to Montego Bay, Jamaica? The CIA in Afghanistan.

CIA even can counterfeit currency.

You recall, some years back, stories about large numbers of near-perfect US one hundred-dollar bills discovered in circulation and the suggestion North Korea was creating them?

The suggestion about North Korea was nonsense propaganda. Almost certainly, it was CIA doing the counterfeiting. It’s an old dirty trick of intelligence services with high technical abilities. Even today, it has flooded the economy of Venezuela with counterfeit national currency in a successful effort to create rampant inflation.

When it counterfeited its own currency, at least within limits, it didn’t take the same risk, a beauty of having the world’s reserve currency which vast numbers of people all over the world are ready to hold.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JILL ABRAMSON IN THE GUARDIAN

After a year of Donald Trump, there is still hope amid the horror

I still do not see the focus on Trump.

He’s awful, obviously.

But he is only a small part of dark and dangerous things going on in the United States, including a military-security empire close to out-of-control and definitely working around the clock to bring back the Cold war and perhaps worse.

Besides, all of his ugliest qualities – from xenophobia to stupid speech – are shared by many tens of millions of Americans. America has a rather huge population of such people in its trailer parks, its NASCAR meets, its customers of gun traders and dealers, and in its Aryan churches.

And on top of that crowd, we have some of the world’s most violent police and prison guards, raging gang wars, people staggering around zonked out of their minds on drugs, and the greatest prison population in the world.

I think the effort to make Trump into a “Oh, how grand things could be if only he were gone” phenomenon is unperceptive and extremely dangerous.

The effort, which goes on daily with many a number of columnists, seems to me about as pertinent as Oprah much-praised, self-serving words at the Golden Globes, the same Oprah who was photographed more than once laughing and touching and cozying-up to the same Mr. Weinstein her words seemed to condemn.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

‘It’s a no-brainer’: are hydrogen cars the future?
Inventor Hugo has a dream: to replace today’s cars with his own hydrogen prototype. Is the world ready?

I wish them well.

But hydrogen has essentially no energy content.

It requires tremendous compression and very strong containers.

I don’t know what the total “life cycle” economics of making and using such a vehicle are, but I suspect they are indeed poor.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Ben Whishaw: ‘Julius Caesar is leading the Trump‑like revolution’
The actor on self‑doubt, being the voice of Paddington Bear, and what his latest play, Julius Caesar, says about politics today

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Response to a comment which said “Trump is far more like Shakespeare’s version of Richard III”:

Well said.

I just don’t even see much comparison between Caesar and Trump.

Caesar was that rare thing, a genuinely great and gifted man.

Trump shares none of those qualities.

Caesar was one of the great soldier-conquerors.

Trump cheaply avoided military service, and all of his language around military matters shows ignorance combined with bragging arrogance.

Caesar was a graceful writer.

Trump mumbles phrases from the trailer park.

Caesar was brave and didn’t flinch in the face of death.

Trump is a proven coward, many times over.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY CHRISTOPHER HEBERT IN THE GUARDIAN

“My year of living ignorantly: I entered a news blackout the day Trump was elected
Being a news junkie left me well-informed but simmering with rage. Unplugging from the media made me feel better, but is it a cop-out?”

God, this kind of stuff is tiresome.

Yes, Trump is a pretty nasty American, but as someone who was born and grew up there, and as someone who also takes an interest in news and affairs, a critical interest, I can tell you with confidence that there are a lot of nasty Americans.

And a lot of very angry Americans. A lot of truly ignorant Americans. A lot of deeply prejudiced Americans. And just a lot of very unthinking Americans.

Anyone who suddenly wakes up in the America I know so well and thinks, as this writer does, has simply not been listening to the news he claims to love.

The very news sources cited here have been guilty of countless shadings and dishonesty over my lifetime. Fake news is an invented phrase, a creation of the last couple of years, but the ugly reality of fake news – what we used to call anything from yellow journalism to propaganda – has existed my entire adult life.

All that press beating the drums for Vietnam? Beating the drums for Iraq? Beating the drums for Libya? Beating the drums for Syria?

Beating the drums for the Cold War? Beating the drums for the mindless War on Terror? Beating the drums now for second Cold War against Russia? Never once investigating and questioning decades of aggressive imperial wars or the countless injustices America promotes and protects in this world?

Eight years of Obama bombing people?

Coming after eight years of Bush bombing people?

Constant violence in the streets of America? Violent young criminals? Violent police? As many guns in private hands as there are people?

Whole cities that look like something after WWII and no one in government has done anything to remedy the situation?

A new level of pervasive surveillance on Americans, surveillance which makes the old East German Stasi look amateur, surveillance brought in by that charming smiler, Obama?

An America which now regularly makes people disappear in many parts of the world? Thousands of them executed with no trial or rights in a fashion indistinguishable from some military junta?

And someone is in a crisis just because of Trump and his loud mouth?

This would be laughable were it not that this represents a good portion of public opinion in America.

Take away that ugly man, and everything will be just fine again in America. The blood dripping from the hands of Bush, from Cheney, from Hillary Clinton, from Obama, an entire federal government which does nothing for its own people, a bloated murderous Pentagon and CIA, a corrupt FBI – all this is just fine, though. I can go back to CBS.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Trump-style populism gives ‘murderous leaders’ free rein, says rights group
Human Rights Watch report accuses western politicians of driving global misrule by feeding off public fear and discontent

“Trump-style populism gives ‘murderous leaders’ free rein, says rights group”

Oh, please, this is dangerously silly.

Trump gave Marcos free rein?

Trump gave Syngman Rhee free rein?

Trump gave the Shah free rein?

Trump gave Mubarak free rein?

Trump gave Suharto free rein?

Trump gave Ceausescu free rein?

Trump gave the Argentine junta free rein?

Trump gave General Thieu free rein?

etc, etc, etc.
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“Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation” – I hadn’t seen that little squib. No wonder this is such nonsense. It is propaganda, plain and simple.