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Monthly Archives: February 2018

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Donald Trump ridiculed by late night talk show hosts over claim he would have run into Florida school to tackle shooter

“What are you going to do, stab them with your bone spurs?’

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

Readers may enjoy this which also clarifies the comedian’s reference:

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/john-chuckman-comment-trump-as-the-most-american-of-presidents-a-claim-which-should-infuriate-both-his-supporters-and-opponents
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In discussing Trump’s “courage,” it’s important to note his already-established record while President.

None of Obama’s foreign affairs horrors have been overturned – from efforts to have mercenaries in Syria use poison gas (taken from the murdered Qaddafi’s supplies) as an excuse for American bombing to threatening a peaceful Russia.

The Pentagon has been given more money than it knows how to spend.

The tanks’ engines are still roaring at the Russian border.

The CIA, which runs America’s extrajudicial killing program, has been given a free hand in choosing whom it kills.

Afghanistan is still suffering under American occupation and increased bombing with no end in sight and absolutely nothing achieved.

American forces are illegally ensconced in Syria, busy helping terrorists.

The entire Mideast is in flames.

Israel is given whatever it likes and is allowed to threaten a peaceful Iran and continue its own atrocities and human rights horrors.

Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, pretty well speaks for Israeli interests.

And all this from a man who in his campaign said that we should get along with Russia and asked why the Middle East was in flames.

He was strong on those vital points. Then.

But when he first actually sat down around a big polished oak table with all that Pentagon brass and those big suits with the stern faces from the CIA, he shrank down into his chair like an 8-year old boy and peed his pants.

The man is beyond ridiculous.

George Bush was contemptible, but I’m not sure Trump hasn’t outdone him in a single year for contemptible behavior.

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John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Jared Kushner stripped of top-level security clearance
President’s son-in-law is one of several White House staff to have clearance downgraded

That Jared Kushner ever enjoyed the highest level of security clearance is astonishing.

He has no standing in government. No history. No record of expertise. Never elected to anything. He is under no formal oversight. He possesses no expert qualifications of any kind.

His father is a convicted felon.

Jared Kushner himself maintains the most intimate relationship with a foreign power, Israel, and its flagrantly-corrupt Prime Minister.

Kushner has already done some things for his family business which are extremely questionable, as his promoting a family development by telling Asians they would be able to obtain American residence if they bought into it.

All this, while half the government of the United States insanely busies itself looking under beds and rugs, tearing itself apart, for evidence of imagined Russian influence?

You worry about a few Russians buying advertising while at the same time a seriously questionable character like Jared Kushner enjoys the highest-possible access to secrets?

Even if the Russians had hacked into the DNC’s computer to obtain the dirt on Hillary we all saw from Wikileaks (and it is certain they did not, several top-level security experts have told us) the only accusation would be one of over-enthusiastic investigators hacking into someone’s personal incriminating information.

It all had nothing to do with government secrets, even in the most extreme claims by Democrats. And nothing to do with election interference, unless you call the release of embarrassing facts, things voters should actually know, a form of interference.

But here is a man of no standing in Washington, other than being the President’s son-in-law, an intimate of a foreign power including of its corrupt Prime Minister, a man whose father is a felon active in business, and a man whose business practices are already seen as questionable, and this man is given the highest secret clearance?

It’s appalling. Why did Jonathan Pollard go to prison for 30 years if a guy like Kushner can just prance in and see everything, then go over to Israel to discuss top-level secrets with a crook like Netanyahu and a crook like his own father?

Trump has brought the practices of the American government to the lowest level ever imagined.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY PATRICK COCKBURN IN THE INDEPENDENT

‘People are being killed every day’: Life trapped inside ‘Hell on Earth’

Put the blame squarely where it belongs.

And that is on the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia – paymasters and service providers for terror.

And by the way, for a long period, Britain and France were willing helpers. Cameron used to pretend to bomb ISIS while bombing Syrian infrastructure to, in effect, help them. France did the same.

It is absurd for any newspapers to charge Syria’s national government in this horror of East Ghouta.

It is still a fairly popular government, supported by a majority, and it is a government which defends religious minorities.

They are fighting well-equipped, bloodthirsty foreign-paid mercenaries.

Just what would Westminster do with huge gangs of well-armed foreign thugs holding a British city captive?

Good God, we hear a huge amount of noise over just a few returning ISIS volunteers.

And I recall the bloody efforts against the IRA.

Further, what does Israel do when some poor frustrated people held in Gaza send some over-sized fireworks in protest into Israel, something involving no genuine threat to the state and certainly no threat from outside?

They kill them, by the thousands with jets and bombs and tanks, and then hold them without any access to repairs or services, leaving them to suffer interminably.

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Boris Johnson ‘backs air strikes’ against Assad regime if has used chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta
Foreign Secretary agrees there is case for ‘limited strikes’ if there is ‘incontrovertible evidence of further use of chemical weapons’

You are a liar, Boris.

And a particularly filthy one – in the best Tony Blair tradition.

The same game has been played by America-Israel-Saudi Arabia a number of times.

Find an excuse. Do air raids. Destroy a legitimate government.

Why?

Because the United States, under immense pressure from the Israel Lobby, wants it that way.

It’s an effort to repeat the same filthy business as we saw in Libya.

That was a peaceful place whose people received a lot of benefits from their government.

Now, thanks to America and its friends, it’s a hopeless violent chaos.

Just what Israel wants in all its Arab neighbors who don’t closely toe the American line.
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Response to a comment which asked who supports them:

Caches of Israeli-made weapons have been discovered several times in Syria. American-made weapons too.

Al-Nusra’s paid terrorists are treated in hospitals in Northern Israel.

US helicopters have been photographed moving some of the scum around in other locations.

By the way, the original ploy with chemical weapons was created by Obama/Clinton after they destroyed Libya.

Stocks from Qaddafi’s armed forces were shipped to Turkey for insertion into Syria.

At least once, an innocent, honest Turkish border guard caught some of it being shipped into Syria under cover of Turkish intelligence and it made the press.

It doesn’t get any lower than the game America has been playing here.

And British governments support it.

Why?

They are afraid of offending the Israel Lobby.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN INFOWARS

Pieczenik thinks the shootings in Florida are diversions from what is going on in the Middle East and Korea as in WW3 about to break out

You are free to say what you like, but this is utter intellectual slop.

Mass murder as a diversion?

Good God, next you’ll be saying the Prophet Mohammed was in on the plot.

You know, every human population produces a certain percentage of mentally ill individuals, just as it produces a certain percentage of geniuses and idiots, a certain percentage of men and women.

Create a society where powerful weapons are available to the seriously mentally ill, and this is what you get, regularly.

And you have created such a society. It is called America.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN GOV’T SLAVES

“We are burning through the planet’s resources, living an unsustainable way of life”

I’m sorry, but this claim is inaccurate, and it is getting tiresome with countless repetitions. It is a kind of secular religious mantra.

It resembles the words both of those crazed Old Testament prophets who lived in caves and bellowed about everyone’s transgressions and of Chicken Little warning about the sky.

The fact is that what is defined as a resource changes through time.

Things become resources or cease being resources with changing technology over time. Resources are not a fixed thing like a pile of stones.

8,000 years ago, iron deposits were not a resource, just an impediment for someone trying to clear or use some land.

150 years ago, crude was an undesirable mess in some plots of earth, not a resource.

This is true of every resource you can name.

Even farmland may cease being a resource for growing food in a century or so. Our food will all come to be manufactured in a manner we find perfectly acceptable.

Nothing stays the same, except some people’s minds.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE ON GOV’T SLAVES

Bio Warfare: US Army makes lethal viruses, bacteria, and toxins in blatant violation of the United Nations Convention

I don’t know why this would surprise anyone, and I have little doubt of its truth.

You live in a quasi-fascist country run by the military and security services on behalf of the wealthy establishment.

You have the trappings of democracy, but they are only the trappings.

The big-mouthed bully now in the White house has proved incapable of changing any of the operations or plans of the military-security forces.

The Pentagon now gets more resources than it knows what to do with.

Ditto CIA and NSA, etc. Now, there’s a real blow struck for freedom and rights.

Every stupid and destructive initiative from Obama’s time has continued. Indeed, some have accelerated.

The big coward in the White House hasn’t offered the slightest resistance to the stupidities in Syria, the stupidities in Afghanistan, the stupidities in Ukraine, the stupidities on the Russian border, etc.

Indeed, in some matters, he’s simply washed his hands of the whole thing, as when he handed complete control over the national program of extrajudicial killings by drone over to the very CIA that does the killing!

You are hopeless, America, because most of you still believe in fairy tales.

Fairy tales like the one that the elected president is commander-in-chief.

No, he’s a figure head, a glorified servant, his role is not all that different from the role of Queen Elizabeth in Britain. She, too, is kept abreast of confidential matters, she too must sign off on new laws, but she has no power at all for stopping or altering any of the things which the real government does.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY TOM CLARK IN THE GUARDIAN

“Free speech matters, and the people worried about it aren’t all bigots”

I should say so.

The fact that the author even has to say “the people worried about it aren’t all bigots” is extremely worrying.

Of course, they’re not. It is a pathetic statement to have to make.

But there are signals from all over the establishment – and certainly major corporate news media, including very much this newspaper – of a clear preference against genuinely free speech.

As though you could just precision-snip this or that bit you don’t like and leave the principle sound.

Human affairs simply do not work that way.

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER:

“Moscow Is Building Grand Churches at a Furious Rate”

I do think the program enriches the country.

I am not religious, but some of these churches are simply beautiful and reflect a very old culture.

The Russian people did without religion for an awfully long time under the Soviet Union.

If they are keen to pay for them, that’s just fine.

Of course, churches in general are not only about religion. They also serve as non-commercial social organizations.

Putin sees them as a way of unifying. That’s his motive, and it’s not a bad one.
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Response to a comment about no churches built in Britain only mosques:

That’s certainly an exaggeration, likely one based in prejudice.

But Christianity has been on a serious decline in Britain for a long time.

It has almost become a minority without any new group like Muslims. I do believe polls show that, and British churches sit idle with low attendance.

Anyway, a beautiful mosque is also an asset for any community.

Saying otherwise – as Trump acolytes from the trailer parks and gun clubs very much do – is just pure ignorance.

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Response to a comment which said “I still believe that the religion is opium for people”:

Well, that is a very narrow view and one that originated with a now-discredited source, and I am not religious at all.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Lack of models, not charging points, ‘holding back electric car market’
Analysis shows just 20 battery models on sale in Europe against more than 400 conventional ones

Electric cars are not practical at this time. Full stop.

The graph you display in this article is highly deceptive, and a person can only know that by reading the labels on the axes carefully.

These “Full year new registrations for pure electric cars” represent a drop in the bucket in absolute numbers or as a portion of the total car pool, close to insignificant in numbers while the graph, at a quick glance, gives an appearance of rocketing growth.

You know, it is just the nature of numbers that when there is very little of something, a small amount of growth looks big in percentage terms. When you have two of something, and you get one more, you have an amazing 50% growth.

If the technology emerges for durable, lighter batteries that hold a long charge and do not take long to charge, then you will see some genuinely dramatic numbers.

But we are not there, despite all the blow-hard claims at Tesla. The sales of cars like Tesla in many markets depend entirely on subsidies which are starting to falter.

We’ve had electric vehicles since at least 1908, but they have never claimed a serious market share – except for special-purposes like trucks running indoors in plants – and with very good reason.

It isn’t “perceptions” that affect electric vehicles – that is, quite simply, the thinking of marketing and promotional types with a pie-in-the-sky bias.

It is their basic inability, still, to do almost all the jobs for which we use cars and trucks.

And that, as anyone should be able to see, is a pretty serious shortcoming.

When they can do those jobs, you won’t need questionable articles like this one.

By the way, this entire matter is larger and more complex than simple stories make it appear.

We do have evidence that current electric cars – analyzed over their entire life-cycle as they should properly be – are as, or more polluting than, our efficient petroleum-powered ones.

There are many effects involved, including the weight of batteries creating more polluting debris dust from tires and road surfaces.

So, hold on to your very premature enthusiasms.

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE ON THE WND SITE

“Exclusive: Chuck Norris proposes bold plan in battle to protect America’s kids”

Why, he’s even dumber than I thought.

And I simply don’t understand all the whiney-baby stuff is over another school shooting. As so many Americans like to say, “Shit happens!”

After all, in America’s almost continuous wars, we always hear of “collateral damage,” don’t we? What’s to cry over when there’s some back home now and then? God, the whiners just aren’t ready to pay the cost of freedom, are they?

America is simply crazed with the military identity and aggression.

It extends to most of what you do and affects everyday life for everyone.

It is a form of sickness, but it is a sickness America has worked hard to develop (rather than cure) for over two centuries.

Look at your insane record in foreign affairs. Meaningless war after meaningless war. Always ready to push people around. Millions killed since WWII, and none of it for defense.

Well, your lunatic gun culture and all that it implies, including periodic mass shootings, provides the greenhouse or nursery to develop all those killers you are going to need to set loose on the world. Hell, all those killers don’t spring forth full-grown from the cradle. It takes effort.

America’s police have long had it right. They just kill whenever the spirit moves them. Over 1,100 citizens killed each year by their own police. About three a day. Just show me the terrorists who can match a record like that. Then there’s the best part of thousand who die mysteriously in the nation’s prisons every year.

I’d very much go along with your idiot President’s suggestion about arming every teacher. Over 700,000 of them. Not because it would solve any whiney-baby, imagined problem concerning mass murders in your schools, but just because it would add to the fun and sure juice things up.

Opposition here will deprive us of countless hilarious tales.

Teachers accidentally shooting themselves in the foot.

Teachers deliberately shooting annoying parents.

Little Johnny sneaking into the desk drawer where his teacher keeps her gun and taking it out to recess.

Bulletin board notices pinned up in the office about boxes of ammo missing.

School finances could be improved, too, by holding annual neighborhood gun shows and sales in schools across the country.

All this and much, much more – all genuine Americana.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JONATHAN MARSHALL IN RUSSIA INSIDER

“Time to Admit the Afghan War is Nonsense”

From the very start, the entire war has been nonsense – albeit, very violent nonsense.

Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11. All that it did was allow Osama bin Laden to live there.

Bin Laden himself has never been shown to be responsible for 9/11. There is not a shred of proof offered by America. The corporate press has just assumed his guilt from the first. He’s a handy symbol for presumed jihadi extremism.

And that’s what the Taleban government, all those years ago, said when the US first asked for his extradition.

They said, “Show us some proof.” Providing some proof is the normal procedure in any request for extradition, but the US arrogantly refused and prepared to invade.

After all these years and countless billions of dollars, American achievement in Afghanistan amounts to killing and terrorizing a great many people, causing the Taleban to shift and move around, and releasing upon the entire Western world waves of opium-based poisons to such an extent prices fell and extreme gang violence has broken out in American cities.

The Taleban government originally had banned opium production, but the US changed all that with their heavy-handed blundering, and the CIA has undoubtedly used opium sales as an off-the-books source of income, the kind of thing it so often does.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JONATHAN FREEDLAND IN THE GUARDIAN

Ahead of the Academy Awards, Jonathan Freedland celebrates Steven Spielberg’s timely tale of press freedom

“Why The Post should win the 2018 best picture Oscar”

Ridiculous.

Steven Spielberg is, and always has been, a mediocre director.

He has indeed made a fortune with his pictures, but that is precisely because he is the greatest maker of schlock in history, and, in case you hadn’t noticed, schlock sells, just like junk food or Barbie Dolls.

Although I am one who strongly believes that the Oscars do not represent merit – there being a long record of counter examples and even embarrassments – still, newspapers and columnists play the Hollywood promotion game and pretend they do represent merit.

So, let’s pretend for a moment they do represent merit. I don’t think Spielberg can possibly compete on merit.

And this movie is full of crap. Katherine Graham was anything but an admirable person.

There is even the distinct possibility she had her hubby, an embarrassingly deranged man and owner of The Post, murdered. But even without that unproved claim, she was a very nefarious establishment figure.

As for The Washington Post, well, if you like American imperialism, that’s one of your papers of choice. It promotes war ceaselessly.

Ben Bradlee, Graham’s editor was, without question, a CIA insider, the kind of guy often in the past the security agency has planted in outfits like the New York Times and Washington Post a number of times.

There were many reasons for publishing the Pentagon Papers. It did not happen without major establishment insider support. To portray it as a brave battle with truth and the brave decision of this one woman is simply inaccurate, although it may be good drama.

I find it questionable at a time of fading influence by the mainline commercial press that we have a film making one of the club’s big members look heroic.

The long-term record of The Post is appalling. Always, always a supporter of war and the Washington establishment, the kind of paper that has undoubtedly done far more harm than good over time.

Praise them? I don’t think so.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JONATHAN FREEDLAND IN THE GUARDIAN

“The slaughter in Syria should outrage us. Yet still we just shrug”

Yes, indeed, but it very much does outrage me.

And perhaps, were the general population given the truth about Syria, they would be outraged too.

But they are not told the truth, not at all, by any of our major news sources.

Instead we get half-truths, incomplete information, and a good dose of downright lies.

Look at this statement of yours, Mr. Freedland: “gassing children, and the only consequence was a limited US cruise missile strike on a Syrian airfield. So long as I wasn’t too blatant, and kept the murder within agreed limits, I would be left alone.”

We know to a certainty that Syria gassed no one. It gave up its entire stocks of gas under international supervision.

We equally know to a certainty that some of the American-Saudi-Israeli sponsored pseudo-jihadi mercenaries trying to destroy Syria very much did.

The evidence, if you look for it, is quite overwhelming. There has even been the odd event of small quantities of poison gas in canisters being transferred, as one discovered at the Turkish border some years ago.

The war is again heating up because America and Israel are both extremely unhappy about how their costly project in Syria has largely failed.

Some project, reducing a beautiful and relatively peaceful land to ruins because you hate its leader. Of course, exactly the same thing was done in Libya, just more successfully, with a leader who was extremely good to his people and kept them at peace being murdered and his country reduced to chaos.

So, America illegally occupies a portion of Syria now and trains and protects Kurds, preparing the ground for hiving off part of Syria, a la Kosovo, against all international law. It simply acts above the law and goes totally criticism by our press in its quest for “truth.”

Israel regularly bombs Syrian military targets, using this or that excuse, and “demands” an even larger slice of Syria as a security zone for its completely illegal occupation of the Golan Heights.

The total horror is a created event, created by outsiders who want to rearrange the Middle East as though they were gods above all law.

Most of the “mock” shock over it in the West is little more than an effort to have the powers causing it to intensify their efforts.

Just shameful.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN INVESTMENTWATCH

Even George Orwell, the man the left always props up, felt strongly about the necessity for an individual to keep their firearm(s): “That rifle on the wall of the laborer’s cottage or working-class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

The author is ignorant.

Orwell had a rather mixed-stew of beliefs, and not all the components were things many would approve of today, especially liberals.

He is quoted widely on specific matters, and on those matters he wrote eloquently and with a correctness most accept.

But, for example, on the matter of Russia, Orwell came to sound just like a McCarthyite. Quite unpleasant. He demonstrated his willingness to betray people he regarded as dangerous “reds.” He kept lists.

Concerning Orwell and sexual matters – an area which is in fact very revealing of character, for sure – the less said the better. He enjoyed buying young girl prostitutes on trips abroad and even once begged his wife if she would object to him enjoying one on a trip they were taking together (the incident is recorded in at least two serious biographies).

Anecdotes of his relationship with women of his own age are not appealing, including one of his pretty much throwing a woman to the ground and jumping on top of her.

A similar, although even more extreme, example of the same phenomenon is found in Thomas Jefferson, a man Americans, especially of the Right, love to quote.

Yes, he penned a few eloquent slogans, but he also wrote and very much believed in things bordering on the ridiculous. There were strong elements of a tyrannical temperament in his beliefs and behaviors, and some would say his eloquent, frequently-quoted lines were a form of self-serving propaganda and image-manipulation for history.

And even the good things he wrote, Jefferson ignored close to completely when he actually had power, both as President and as Governor of Virginia.

He misused power and demonstrated hypocrisy and genuine cowardice on a number of occasions. His penchant, almost an obsession, for secrecy was dark and ominous. Jefferson, who loved being viewed as the perfectly enlightened man, was observed by one visitor to Monticello beating a slave quite harshly. The visitor recorded the incident for posterity.

Jefferson’s sex life also was not something that speaks highly of his character.

He started sleeping with Sally Hemmings when she was a 13-year-old girl, after his wife died. She was, of course, a slave child on his plantation. We have an affidavit from one of Sally’s grown children stating that Jefferson was his father.

Jefferson never in his lifetime, despite a plantation with over two hundred slaves, was able to earn his own living. He was a flop as a lawyer. His tastes and demands were extravagant, he borrowed money from friends regularly, and he died a bankrupt.

By the way, a talented yellow journalist of the day, Philip Freneau – someone Jefferson secretly hired when he served as Secretary of State to publish attacks against his boss, George Washington – later, feeling badly-treated by Jefferson, wrote of Jefferson’s dark side and died under mysterious circumstances.

It was said by some that Hemmings herself was the offspring of his late wife’s father, another plantation owner, something, which if true, suggests how ghastly the whole empire of slavery was. So, not only a slave, but Sally may have been his wife’s younger half-sister.

Never mind Jefferson’s “empire of liberty,” the reality of his entire life was an empire of slavery, right down to the time as President he actually assisted Emperor Napoleon in attempting to brutally put down the Hattian slave revolt.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JOHNNY MILLER IN THE GUARDIAN

Roads to nowhere: how infrastructure built on American inequality
From highways carved through thriving ‘ghettos’ to walls segregating black and white areas, US city development has a long and divisive history

There is truth here.

I grew up in Chicago. I knew Detroit fairly well.

However, as is the common practice with these kinds of examinations, it is incomplete.

Not many British people will be familiar with some of the harshest facts.

In the late 1950s and into the 1960s, it was not uncommon for gangs of kids from the Black Ghetto’s pry up manhole (sewer) covers and roll them to a pedestrian overpass and then send it crashing down onto the road to perhaps hit a car.

As one commentator said at the time, it was just beyond belief, the people doing such a thing didn’t know or care whether Mrs. Martin Luther King was in a passing car.

And just so, mindless violence. As in those ghetto neighborhoods with their countless shootings and stabbings.

That is what creating physical barriers was about, not just an instinctive dislike of black people. It was about fear of violence.

By the way, the manhole cover fad ended when chain-link tunnels were built above all pedestrian overpasses.

As for the general violence, just check out the statistics for places like Chicago and Detroit.

https://heyjackass.com/category/2017-stats/

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY SARAH CHURCHILL IN THE GUARDIAN AND QUICKLY REMOVED

Pushing back: why it’s time for women to rewrite the story

Women have always been free to write their own stories.

And quite a few have, including some remarkable ones.

If others haven’t, no one’s really to blame but themselves.

I can’t help feeling that this kind of article contributes little to understanding and panders to a certain crowd with not entirely rational views.

I like to call these kind of articles The Guardian’s front-page glop, and they appear with great regularity.

They used to be called “filler” by publishers.

John Chuckman

COMMENT TO AN ARTICLE BY PETER BRADSHAW IN THE GUARDIAN

“Who is the best Oscar winning lead actor of all time?’

It’s just a silly, childish question.

There might be – and even this is doubtful – a best light comic, a best tragic, a best romantic, etc., but there cannot be a best.

The Oscars have never been about art or high quality, anyway. Many of the winners have been mediocre. Many great efforts have gone unrecognized.

And, of course, there’s the silly token business of Best Foreign Film. One film from the rest of the planet with the US getting all the other awards while representing about 5% of the world’s people?

The Oscars are an industry marketing and promotion gimmick, a very successful one, getting paper after paper and columnist after columnist writing things as here, helping sell tickets.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY PETER BRADSHAW IN THE GUARDIAN

I’ve never known my times tables. Frankly, who needs them?

“The ministerial diktat to make children learn multiplication by rote is silly. Surely there are more important things”

I’m sorry, but I could not agree less, and I think your words reflect a mighty poor educational philosophy.

Many North American “educators” have taken this view and the quality of the thinking behind it spreads and contaminates much of public education.

The simple fact is that North America graduates millions who have almost no intellectual skills and no talents which are marketable.

I did some tutoring with youngsters some years ago, and learning the times tables – which most did not know from the lax schools – was a first assignment.

I’m sorry to learn that Britain has some similar attitudes, albeit decades after North America’s public education fiasco.

I very much believe a lot of what has happened in North American education has nothing to do with the students or their futures.

It has to do with making the jobs of administrators and teachers easier. In most of our public schools we have social promotion, and all kids advance whether they have learned anything or not.

If you are really concerned with children, you’ll make sure they learn all essentials, not dismiss essentials as boring “rote” stuff.

The times tables are essential, much like the alphabet.

It is so easy to dismiss anything that can be labelled as learning “by rote,” but the truth is that is the only way to learn some valuable knowledge. Very few have photographic memories.

The times tables, of course, enable you to do multiplication, but they also enable you to do division, and they are fundamental to understanding elements of geometry or elementary probability and still other matters.

And you don’t need to be going to university. These elementary math skills are important for everyone from carpenters to cashiers to people buying an area rug or some sod to lay in the yard.

John Chuckman

COMMENT TO AN ARTICLE BY SHARMADEAN REID IN THE GUARDIAN

How to deal with office politics
It all boils down to human emotion

“Getting on with colleagues all boils down to human emotion”

Wow, that’s a little like saying our temperature depends on the sun. What can a person do about that?

Human emotions are the set of impulses that give us murders, rapes, beatings, violent thefts – to say nothing of wars and terror and tyranny.

They are part of the atmosphere we breathe. Nasty office politics are only the smallest part of their destructive capacity.

This kind of smiley, make-nice stuff reminds me of the wishful thinking of old huckster Norman Vincent Peale, a man who sold a hell of a pile of books and likely never really helped anyone.

People buy books out of hopefulness the same way they buy gym memberships they never use or make resolutions they never keep. Or read such insipid columns.

No, you are always going to meet and have to work with people who are disagreeable, sometimes extremely so.

You try being agreeable, but after that, you accept reality. It’s always been so, and I don’t think there’s is any magic wisdom for dealing with it.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY MATTHEW AVERY SUTTON IN THE GUARDIAN

“Billy Graham was on the wrong side of history”

He certainly was, and in more than a few areas.

The guy literally fawned over Richard Nixon, one of America’s most hated presidents.

And at a time of the horrible, immoral Vietnam War.

He loved being in the limelight, contrary to his act of Christian humility.

His son Franklin “inherited” Billy’s money-machine ministry.

Franklin literally has the intellectual and emotional level of Dan Quayle or George Bush.

Franklin is known for giving automatic handguns as gifts to friends.

He also once used a machine gun to cut a tree in half.

When 9/11 happened, charming Franklin actually made a big showy, emotion-laden public prayer, I believe it was in Washington, for America to use atomic weapons on Afghanistan.

He almost defines “white trash,” although rich (thanks to daddy) white trash, like Trump.

Great genes, that ‘devout” family.

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN INVESTMENTWATCH

Gun control: Felon accused of killing Chicago police commander

The writer simply doesn’t get it.

Well thought-out gun control works.

Just study Canada’s or Britain’s violent crime rates compared to America’s, and that’s with fairly heavy influxes of migrants, something so often (incorrectly) disparaged in the United States as contributing to big increases in violence.

Poor Chicago with its fairly strict gun laws is an island in a sea of American gun lawlessness. Just drive to another state and bring in a trunk-load of weapons to sell or distribute. Or just order on-line. Or have a friend mail you some guns.

They try, but it’s a bit hopeless when you literally are surrounded by lunacy.

Thoughtless people like the author of this article then take the city as an example of how misdirected gun control is. This is a case of deducing from nonsense assumptions.
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Response to a rather bizarre comment from a reader:

Your words are pathetic.

You clearly didn’t even understand what I wrote.

Our rates of violent crime and Britain’s are still extremely low compared to America’s.

“multicultural infestation”? God, what ugly words. You sound like either an Israeli settler or a member of some American Aryan “Church.”
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Response to a comment saying “Unfortunately the anti-gun-control side makes a very valid point too though: If a second Hitler or Stalin takes over the government, would you rather have all guns on the side of the population, or would you rather have an armed population that can fight back?”

Sorry, but I just cannot grasp how anyone accepts this Hitler/Stalin-type argument, although it appears with some frequency in America.

First, America’s governments are so massively armed that some clowns out in the street with rifles and shotguns or even machine guns would provide nothing but target practice.

A National Guard in every state loaded with all kinds of weapons, including armored cars and small air forces.

State police. County police. City police, and some of these have the equivalent of military weapons.

Then there’s national armed forces equipped to obliterate anything or anyone. A huge armed force.

Then there’s all the American security agencies – 17 of them in total, all armed.

By the way, these security agencies have been allowed to become so intrusive that every e-mail or text you send, every phone call you place is recorded by the NSA’s supercomputer centers. They know all your friends and contacts and family. This is even further reinforced by the data dumps of smarmy Facebook and Google who send NSA all the information you reveal about yourself on their sites and services.

Before long you will have to go through TSA inspection to take an inter-city bus or train. All of your personal information from library books checked-out to employment records are open to the FBI. Do you not understand that this huge pile of information, all collated and cross-checked in super-computers, will be used from now on to check on people and what they are doing, to identify “rebels” or “rebel movements” long before there can be any gatherings in streets?

Information is a powerful weapon, and your government has it, and you don’t. East Germany’s once-dreaded Stasi already looks like a gang of amateurs compared to what Americans now live under.

Americans are, whether they know it or not, likely the world’s most overwhelmed people with massive armies and weapons surrounding them and controlled by their government. Russia doesn’t even compare. It much resembles the situation of Palestinians versus the occupying Israeli army.

And you really believe putting on some camouflage and heading out with a weapon could intimidate a tyrannous American government?

You have to be on drugs to believe that silly idea.

Good God, you had revolts enough times in the US – Detroit, LA, etc. – and they all ended the same way with dozens of people shot dead in the streets. Forty-odd people were shot on the streets of Detroit in 1967, and that was just with the local National Guard operating.

And just day to day, recent research has finally revealed how many people in America are killed by their own police – over 1,100 per year. I don’t see how guns have ever had any effect on the slaughter.

In an extreme example, the bunch of far-out people at Waco were armed to the teeth with quite heavy weapons. They all died, and died miserably.

Americans are occupied by their own government, yet they seem blithely unaware of it.

Talk about opposing tyranny is a bad joke.

By the way, you’ve already had some destructive, horrible leaders – the example of Lyndon Johnson being a strong one. He started a major war, stole elections, did countless crooked deals, was likely complicit in Kennedy’s assassination, was definitely complicit in Israel’s 1967 War and the attack on the USS Liberty.

And what band of Patriots confronted him? Zero.

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

“Mueller investigation: Thirteen Russians charged with interfering in US election
The charges are the most direct allegations to date of illegal Russian meddling in the election”

Just trivial nonsense.

I don’t know whether Mueller is misguided or whether, far more likely, he is serving the interests who want to keep this nonsense going, and those interests are not just Democrats. Indeed, the Democrats have hitched themselves to this whole phony story only because they know other powerful interests are at work on Russia for far different reasons than mock concern over the integrity of elections. Why not just go along for the ride? And they have.

Those other powerful interests are the American security services and military. The whole tone of “Russia as sneaky enemy” has to be maintained in the New Cold War, a very serious project which includes everything from running tanks up the Russian border and spending new fortunes on weapons to a dangerous new statement of America’s nuclear weapons posture.

And the stupidest aspect of all this is that charges of interfering in elections comes from the very country which incessantly does more of it than anyone on the planet.

The American security services not only pay pensions to select politicians and work to discredit others in a constellation of countries, but of course actually overthrow selected governments, including elected ones, as they did in Ukraine and as they are trying now to do in Venezuela.

The United States also highhandedly pressures governments, as in Europe, to follow American direction, even when that direction is wrongheaded, as in the Middle East. All that bombing and killing in the Middle East drove Europe’s refugee crisis, as I’m sure the major European politicians understand but are afraid to say.

Amazing testimony to democratic and human values, isn’t it, when major countries cannot speak the truth to their own people? But Joe Biden – that smiling buddy of smiling Obama – only recently was embarrassingly frank on the subject of pressuring European allies. Obama himself spoke once of having to do a little leaning on allies to do as America wanted them to do. That isn’t leadership, that’s autocracy.

By comparison, we have trivial accusations about the release of embarrassing information through the agency of Russia, a function many might call investigative reporting, something the corporate press does not even attempt anymore.

Whoever obtained that information is known to Julian Assange, but Assange is effectively held in minimum security prison on trumped-up charges, again certainly under pressure from Washington.

We already know from Assange the information did not come from Russia. We also have very strong reason to believe it was the work of a disillusioned Democrat idealist, Seth Rich, who downloaded the embarrassing files and gave them to Wikileaks. That fine young man paid with his life.

As for the “dossier,” it has always been a transparent fraud, although it may well be peppered with some truths, as all good frauds tend to be. The Democrats paid or helped pay for that dossier. Now, there’s something to be properly investigated concerning election interference, but we see little sign of that so far.

Please recall how Hillary said something enlightened about Assange along the lines of “can’t we just drone him or something?” Almost as bloodthirsty as her infamous words after the murder of Libya’s Gaddafi, an ugly business she helped engineer under Obama. That is how dedicated to truth Washington’s crowd of scum politicians are.

After all, when you are pursuing world dominance, playing all kinds of dirty tricks, threatening and attacking all kinds of people, there is not a lot of room left for truth. You are busy hiding all your ugly, law-breaking activities like paying cutthroats in Syria or Libya or Ukraine and ignoring all norms of international law. That is the primary reason we live in a tissue of lies, and our press, without exception, manipulates and distorts what readers and listeners receive.

Where have we seen one shred of real evidence about Russian interference?

We haven’t. Not a scrap of anything a court would call evidence.

Yet right this moment, Washington is not only actively interfering in the internal affairs of a number of countries, it is busy bombing or arming others. It occupies a portion of Syria, completely against the will of Syria’s government and for the only purpose of trying to see part of the country broken off to serve the interests of that other lawless nation, Israel. It encourages and arms Saudi Arabia for its blood-soaked war on Yemen. It allows Israel to carry right on with appalling abuses.

By the way, in the end, underlying cause of America’s phony Russia hysteria is in America’s imperial ambitions and in its twisted relationship with Israel. The United States dislikes Russia because it is the only country capable of obliterating America, and American generals want things arranged so they are the only ones capable of obliterating anyone.

Israel also very much does not like Russia for standing in the way of the Mideast plans it has long ago worked out with the United States, plans which have included a long march of terror and war to build “a new Middle East” to Israel’s advantage. Israel also is a great booster of an all-dominant American military because it sees in that an additional line of protection for its various dark projects in the Middle East.

Talk about interfering in the affairs of others and constantly lying about it, the Neocon Wars are our greatest contemporary example. I can’t imagine any form of interference which exceeds killing a couple of million people, turning millions into desperate refugees, and dismembering several states.

So, I think the root cause of the nonsense about Russia is not just asinine Washington politics – Democrats versus Republicans and Trump acolytes versus traditional party people – although our press does enjoy diverting the public’s attention with such games. The real cause is Washington’s ongoing brutal imperial march, in lockstep with its Mideast colony, to rule the planet and leave everyone else intimidated.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

“Abominably, European government officials are willing to risk plunging millions of citizens into a war with Russia based on lies and warped, self-serving prejudices.”
Halbe Zijlstra quit in shame on Monday as the country’s foreign minister after admitting that a story he had peddled about personally hearing Putin plotting to create a “greater Russia” was false.

The Dutch are a supreme disappointment these days.

They have always been one of my more admired people.

A great epic history. Fantastic industry and invention. And simply wonderful painting. All from a small country whose land is about a third recovered from the sea.

But now that they are so constrained by America’s imperial grip, they do shameful thing after shameful thing – at an official level.

This terrible lie by the Dutch Foreign Minister at such a troubled time. Yes, he’s gone, but I’m sure he did a lot of damage.

The Dutch air crash investigators looking into MH-17 have utterly shamed themselves with shady statements, half-truths, and incomplete efforts.

The very people you might have thought would conduct an honorable and competent investigation, but they have not. Just shameful.

John Chuckman

COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN MIDDLE EAST MONITOR

“US: Calls for Lorde’s show to be cancelled over support for BDS”

Well, I do think all fair-minded people know who is right here and who is wrong.

Advocating BDS is a peaceful form of protest against an oppressive government. Boycotts have long been accepted as a legitimate form of protest.

Calling for the cancellation of a show because of the performer’s political views is just another form of oppression.
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Response to a comment about picking on Israel and ignoring others:

Specious nonsense.

Of course, there are other oppressive places, but Israel’s handiwork is right before our eyes with horrors like the Gaza concentration camp. And it claims to be an enlightened, democratic place, unlike so many others of the world’s abusive states.

Every Israeli should be ashamed.
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Response to a comment saying “I never heard of a concentration camp that has a 5-star hotel and shopping malls…Facts do not lie Muslims and their supporters do”:

You are a hopeless idiot to write such things.

We have lots of good sources of information about Gaza.

I don’t use words like “concentration camp” lightly.

Israel still doesn’t permit many needed supplies to repair the unsanitary mess from your last cowardly invasion with bombing runs.

Imagine, bombing runs over one of the world’s more densely populated areas?

And scores of charming Israelis were photographed sitting on lawn chairs up on the heights enjoying the bombing runs like holiday fireworks. All while many, many children died below.

I also saw pictures of some ground locations in Gaza with pools of blood running like flooding down the pavement.

And you’ve kept Gaza electricity supplies to a painful minimum for a long time. Who can live modern life without electricity? And the needs of hospitals? But you care about those as much as you care about some flies stuck to a piece of flypaper.

In your last two invasions, you killed about 4,000 people, including, to your eternal shame about a thousand children. When your ugly machinegun-toting settlers – a handful of lunatics from New York or London – left their barbed wire enclosures inside Gaza some years ago, they actually poisoned the wells for some of the limited fresh water supply.

You also sprayed large swathes of Gaza’s perimeter with nasty herbicides too, just right for more long-term damage to children. We know what America’s use of Agent Orange did in Vietnam. Still maiming and killing to this day.

And some of your worst savages were actually dumping their sewerage onto parts of Gaza.

Of course, any fisherman from Gaza is allowed only the smallest area from which to try to catch fish as their ancestors have for thousands of years. Israeli gun boats fire machine guns on them.

Your Gaza concentration camp is surrounded by towers with automated, radar operated machine guns, too. What civilized person on earth would do that?

And did you know that in the original blockade of imports, Israel actually had calculated exactly how many calories were needed to keep a person just alive? It was the resulting amount of food that was allowed to be imported. That’s why there were no chocolate bars in Gaza for a while.

Only intense international pressure behind the scenes put a halt to that Nazi-like policy. The blockade is still immoral and, truly, illegal, and creates countless hardships, but at least it no longer aims at starving-out a whole people.

When some peaceful, unarmed people on ships tried to bring needed supplies to Gaza by sea, your military savagely attacked them, killing about ten of them and then stole all their possessions. My, you do have a lot to be proud of. You came to a paradise and created hell.

Look, every informed person knows you just want them gone. You couldn’t care less if they all died. You seem to have many citizens who would gladly do the dirty work themselves (Oh, we have read some savage statements from prominent Israelis, including politicians and rabbis), but you just don’t want to be held accountable for doing so. General Dayan brutally said, in connection with your deliberately-engineered War of 1967, that if we (Israelis) made the Palestinians miserable enough, they would eventually leave.

And that’s just what you’ve done for half a century. That summarizes Israel’s policy. All these years later, you hold millions in abuse and oppression still. You want the land, minus the people.

And, like the cowards you are, you hide behind the skirts of the United States while doing so.

You know, your silly efforts to post slogans from the Official Handbook of Israel’s Ministry of Truth influences no one. Your words are as dishonest as your Prime Minister. But I guess it earns unemployed Israeli students a few shekels a day to keep posting them as part of the government’s idiotic organized effort to influence others on the Internet.

All Israelis should be ashamed of what has been done in their name.