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John Chuckman



“If newspaper health is a measure of democracy, our democracy is in decline: Neil Macdonald

“Newsrooms would mount costly, complex investigations that took teams of reporters out of play for months”


The costs of doing the classic newspaper journalistic operations – such investigative reporting and maintaining foreign correspondents – have risen greatly while newspapers’ sources of revenue have declined seriously.

It’s a new set of conditions created in large part by the Internet, where new kinds of businesses have taken the revenue that once belonged to newspapers – the best example being classified advertising.

And I really don’t think there’s any going back. Changing technology is always like that. It destroys old ways of doing things, forever. It’s Joseph Schumpeter’s principle of the “creative destruction of capitalism” writ large.

Technological advance always brings change to economic, social, and political conditions in any society – e.g., the original invention of the printing press itself went on to create books accessible to everyone (not a favorable development to authorities of the time), to become a force for public education, and to create newspapers plus a whole lot more.

I think it fair to say that the traditional newspaper represents now a kind of dead-end business model. It is likely to disappear as the existing generation of devoted users passes.

I do not necessarily agree with the statement about the press and its meaning for democracy. Journalists and editors have always had a somewhat exaggerated notion of their central importance. And newspapers, on the whole, for a couple of centuries, have no record of serving as genuine tribunes of the people against power.

Listening to people who are out to earn a living pat themselves on the back with distinctions such as serving as the nation’s “fourth estate” does sometimes reach vomit-inducing levels.

Newspapers have instead supported power, remembering corporations need to keep on the good side of government as well as on the good side of other powerful private establishment interests, and they have often misrepresented the reality of events to people. Just as in wartime, when we know newspapers typically become blatant propaganda outlets for the cause. It’s only somewhat less the case in peaceful times.

And who is it that has been at the very center of the explosive controversy over “fake news” in recent years, if not traditional newspapers and broadcasters? A lot of that controversy is artificially ginned up and reflects the power of the Internet to communicate even paranoia, but a lot of it is genuine and reflects the long history of the traditional press serving power while pretending to serve the people.

Of course, the same charges can be made against many, or most, of the people making charges against the traditional press. New “news” sources on the Internet are just as likely to be biased in their own fashion and to be catering to various moneyed or special interests as the old ones. There are very few heroic Assange or Manning figures out there. Almost none. Careers are not made that way.

Yes, a democracy, in theory, needs to be informed, however, first, I think it important to acknowledge that we, in fact, have no actual democracies in the West. And second, newspapers, generally have not played much of a role in trying to keep people informed.

Our “democracies” are all variations on a theme of making citizens believe they are central and important, when, in fact, we are still ruled by the power of wealth, much as France was in 1780. It’s all subtly diffused and disguised now. Realities are not so crudely obvious as they once were.

We have an entertaining Theater of Democracy with continuous-run performances in the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Canada, and other places.

Only big sources of money and special interest lobbies in the West support all significant political parties, not ordinary people, and they want and receive a return on their investment.

Second, newspapers have never really performed the pure function of keeping citizens informed. Never. Oh, yes, they have with sports scores or stock prices or travel information but not with the intimate workings of government and its agencies or in international affairs. The sports, weather, and travel stuff builds newspaper credibility in readers, but readers mostly have no way to judge what they are being given on the important topics. At least, not until many years later when the information becomes useless, being degraded almost as by entropy.

There are likely few newspapers in America today which do not agree about what a “tragedy” the Vietnam War was, but that is not what any of them said fifty-five years ago, when it counted, when three million Vietnamese faced extermination in a crusade against communism just as intense and bloody as the battle between Catholics and Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. In effect, newspapers are able to publish elaborate retractions of all the fraudulent stories of years ago and go on pretending they are on the side of the angels

The New York Times, for example, which enjoys a better, if truly undeserved, reputation than most, plays that game endlessly. It is a sickening exercise if you observe it over time. Indeed, the years-later stories on terrible, avoidable events, such as the Vietnam War or CIA coups, enable The Times to titillate readers with “revelations,” in effect, bolstering a reputation for investigation and truth that it never deserved. It’s called, by an earlier generation, having your cake and eating it, too.

Newspapers and broadcasters have always served as servants for the powerful and wealthy and as mouthpieces for various power-establishment factions, including government itself.

The entire reason we had all those newspaper empires and barons, people such as Conrad Black or Rupert Murdoch or William Randolph Hearst in the past, was because they were men who wanted to wield power without being elected, to influence opinion, both among citizens and inside government. That has been the aim of every single large news empire, without exception.

Also, the whole concept of freedom of the press has always been a bit of an illusion. It was best summed by the wag who said, “If you want a free press, you must own one.”

Not only is the old newspaper model almost dead, so is the model for our Western “free societies.” The term is starting to sound very dated and stale. The amount of repressive legislation, government spying, secrecy, false official investigations, and ignoring of what we regarded as basic rights has grown at an alarming rate, as have the number of, and resources for, secret agencies and police forces of every description.

Technology greatly assists spying and police effort, just as it’s destroying traditional newspapers. The Stasi never dreamed of such information systems as we have now in the West. Every time you order something from Amazon or do something on Facebook or look something up in Wikipedia or use Google to find something, you are automatically feeding government and huge private corporations information about yourself, quite intimate information.

Our governments, for the most part, have not prevented this with legislation, for obvious reasons.

It’s the same thing if you order your blood or your DNA analyzed for health purposes or for some information about your genetic origins or have your family history traced from a service. All the security services receive anything worth having. Do an on-line financial transaction? The same thing.

The public seems content with this form of voluntary confession to the authorities and corporations, even though it is intrusive and revealing beyond all precedents. It actually resembles the model of the Catholic Church with weekly confession, except that now the confessions are recorded and correlated by supercomputers. The Church was undoubtedly on to something important about human psychology ages ago, but then, at that time, it, in fact, represented the kind of power and privilege we are talking about.

Big Brother no longer needs Room 101 or the Thought Police in jackboots with truncheons, for the most part, although in special cases of urgency, these are very much still used, as at Guantanamo or the other CIA “black sites” in the international torture gulag.

I believe that this trend is only going to continue. The needs of a powerful world empire such as that of the United States drive us in that direction, absolutely. Remember, abroad, the United States doesn’t even pretend to the niceties of rights or basic principles like rule of law. We have CIA torture gulags, we have assassinations in wholesale numbers, we have threats and pressures against every government and international agency that even moderately opposes American policy. We have coups and wars and bombings. Why would anyone expect that such measures will not become incorporated into domestic society by the people so used to them?

The government of the United States does things weekly that it has no interest in most people ever knowing anything about. And it has become almost paranoid about opponents to its policies, seeking them out and even hunting them down.

We are, I believe, entering a kind of brave new world which few of us could have anticipated, something immensely more sophisticated and impersonal and efficient than Orwell’s 1984, a story actually intended to satirize Stalin’s Soviet Union.

All the traditional views and understandings of society, developed over the past couple of centuries, are likely going to pass. I’m sure, eventually, so are such traditional and basic things as the decision about having children. It will no longer be up to the individuals at some point in the not too distant future in Western countries.

I’m not sure what’s going to be put in place of traditional views, but it will be far cry from things like Bills or Charters of Rights, Freedom of Information, the importance of individuals (at least, ones who are not wealthy), and an informed electorate.

It is not a bright outlook, but I think there is no avoiding the direction of things, short of such cataclysms as great war or economic collapse, but even such fabric-of-society-destroying events would only put things off for a while. The forces have been set loose on the world. Pandora’s box has been opened.





Posted May 8, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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John Chuckman



“There are freshmen from Michigan and Maryland in Congress who recently made some news with comments about the Zionist lobby. Some anti-imperialists and progressives lauded them for their efforts and defended them against attacks. But these are wolfs in sheep clothing.

“Rep. Ilhan Omar: ‘The people of Syria revolted against Assad’s repressive dictatorship 8 years ago today, demanding a more just and free government. Peace loving people around the world stand in solidarity with them in this struggle!’

“Rashida Tlaib: ‘The anniversary of the uprising against the oppression in Syria was yesterday. We must recognize the struggle of those who organized and stood up against injustice. It is my hope that we can see a Syria that is truly free one day.’”


I like Ilhan Omar for speaking out on Palestine, just as I like Tulsi Gabbard’s efforts to understand the ugly war in Syria. I admire them both for public courage.

But, please, this is America we are talking about.

To expect anyone in American politics to come along with completely fresh and informed and honest views is just dreaming.

Just as with Bernie Sanders’ so-called socialism or, indeed, anything at all about Sanders.

He’s a distinguished-looking bag of hot air.

He showed everyone what he was made of in his confrontation with the woman who plainly stole the nomination from him, Hillary Clinton.

He’s never been a strong voice against global empire, against the secret terror of the CIA, against the vast intrusions of the NSA, or against the monstrous waste and mass killing of the Pentagon.

And then we have that thoroughbred phony, Elizabeth Warren, making precious little noises all the time about progressive matters while voting for hateful defense and security budgets and never opposing all those wars and offering us in speeches smatterings of the establishment’s poison about Iran.

I’ve said it many times. There are no liberals, genuine liberals, in the United States, at least not in any positions of authority or influence. Not one in the national government. Not one in charge of a major news source. None guiding the nation’s great institutions and foundations and education establishments.

America is about empire and the wars required to sustain it, and that is pretty much it. The rest is elaborate window dressing, theater, playacting. Empires do not get built and maintained and expanded by nice guys, and the resources constantly pouring into empire leave no room for great human or humane efforts.

Another thing I’ve said many times is that you can have either an empire or a decent country, but you cannot have both. America made its choice, long ago.

The entire atmosphere of the place, the education system, the press, the churches, the politics – all immersed and saturated in war and the drive for empire with little room for other values. It can be seen and heard and felt in a thousand details.

What could be more blatantly unfair and anti-democratic than what we see being done to Venezuela today? Yet, where are the American voices against their government’s open use of threats and terror? The politicians? The editors? The great university heads? The church leaders?

Some might claim an excuse over events in Syria because many facts about responsibility for that set of atrocities remained well hidden for a long time. Many facts remain hidden still, despite our learning a good deal here and there.

But here, in the case of Venezuela, we see daily the blunt face of fascism telling people who they should vote for, who should swear himself in as President, who should control the country’s assets, and destroying the national power grid, an act of terror which undoubtedly killed and injured many and destroyed what was in the fridges of literally millions of the most ordinary people.

Why isn’t anyone shouting at the top of their lungs?

All this done by men who say they respect democracy and human rights and expect to be respected in the world as leaders.

You know, Hitler gave one of the great speeches about peace, not long before he started a new war. It was reported by that great journalist and chronicler of Nazi Germany, William Shirer.

And, under the Nazis, Germany had some window dressings of progressivity, various socialistic measures, if you will. It even sometimes held plebiscites.


John Chuckman



“Neither Rain, Sleet, nor Snow Will Stop the Post Office From Spying on You

“It’s called the “Mail Cover Program” and it’s run by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Yes, even the Post Office is spying on us


Good little piece.

I like the personal anecdote about sending his wife a card from prison (where this convicted CIA whistleblower spent just short of two years), something which highlights humble realities of life in a national security state.

“In general, Americans don’t–or at least haven’t–objected to a gradual loss of civil liberties and constitutional rights. That has to stop.”

The first part of that statement seems so true. But the herd behavior of populations, so counted upon by advertisers and marketers, is very much also counted upon by the power establishment and its security apparatus. I say “its” because that’s who is largely being served, not people in general.

I personally take a dark view of the second part of the statement, “That has to stop.”

There is no effective political mechanism for dealing with the situation.

The parties are both married to the security state through money.

Government by, of, and for the privileged and wealthy is what you have.

The combination of the various security mechanisms, the military, and the bought-and-paid-for members of the legislature work round the clock for their interests.

That is what the Dark State is, what America is.

Small independent voices heard in American politics are just that, small and independent. They are tolerated, but they have no power or hope of power.

The more prominent seeming-rebels – a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren – are just more of the same old, same old, dressed up in jeans and beads.

When you support activities like America’s outlaw work in Venezuela, when you support Dark State creatures like Hillary Clinton, and when you vote for Pentagon budgets, when you parrot all the lines about Iran or Syria, you are only a pretend critic, a potential reformer of nothing that counts. Moreover, even your more fanciful ideas about matters such as education and healthcare have zero chance ever without fundamental reform. That’s Sanders and Warren, completely.

The truth is that any kind of serious popular movement has almost no chance of accomplishing anything in a contemporary, advanced Western state. Just look at France’s Gilets Jaunes. There was a genuine, spontaneous popular movement and it started to have some impact, but France’s national security apparatus – and France is a state just like the United States in the way it is run – now appears to have quieted them with false accusations of being associated with anti-Semitism and a possibly contrived provocative event.

Sorry, but that really is how I see America, and I consider myself very much a realist.





John Chuckman



In a way, Trump is worse and more dangerous than a typical liar

But I’m not sure Trump even knows when he is lying.

Basically, as we’ve seen and heard from him in so many matters, Trump’s reality is whatever he wants it to be.

It’s a mental condition, not unlike psychopathy.

He is happy with the tales he tells, and he expects others to be happy with them, too. When they are not, he just insults them, calling them liars or other nasty names.

I think the only safety for the world from a man like this lies in the fact that he is unable to act on many of his tales. The establishment lets him rant on, but indeed blunts any of his acts that it doesn’t regard as in keeping with its pre-existing agenda. Unfortunately for countless millions of ordinary people, that pre-existing agenda is itself also threatening.

America wants nothing so much as a return to the 1950s, or rather a return to the relative importance of America in the world of that time, to the respect that it enjoyed then, because the world has grown away from a reality once so comfortable for America. The trouble is that the effort to return to that world can only involve aggression, threats, Mafia-like pressures and extortions because it is something entirely artificial being imposed, something going against many natural developments of the last seventy-five years.

This is what we are seeing right now, whether it’s America telling Europe where it can buy its natural gas or telling China how it should sell its products or telling third countries that they should not buy any of Russia’s military technology or allowing its colony of Israel literally to seize the homes and assets of Palestinians, or telling countries like Venezuela who they should elect so that resources can be treated the way America wants them treated.

This is the vision for our near-term future, and what is Trump’s role in it?

Trump can be seen now as frantically trying to retain his job as President. Much like a drowning man waving his arms and splashing desperately. He actually tries now to outdo the establishment with its own agenda as a way to demonstrate his usefulness to them and to ward off the threat he is under. Nothing of the few sensible changes Trump first offered, changes the establishment regarded as threatening, is going to be realized. The tiny change he recently offered in Syria, for example, has already been distorted into something  beyond recognition.

After all, official agencies of the American government, set to work by the previous administration and portions of his own party did try to unseat him, and he remains threatened by ongoing investigation. He knows that the threat isn’t just about supposed collusion with Russia, which has always been a dark fairy tale which tried to exploit America’s throbbing hangover from the Cold War.

However, Russophobia in general isn’t just that. It is the implicit recognition of Russia as a stumbling block to America’s reassertion of world dominance, an extremely important point. I think Russia is viewed in Washington much as ancient Carthage was viewed by the rulers of the Roman Empire, clearly a very dangerous perspective.

And America is reinforced in that view by those running its powerful colony in the Middle East. That is how they, too, see Russia, as a stumbling block to America’s complete dominance, the situation they embrace as best for their own interests.

This chaotic, dishonest, and raging man, Trump, has a closet bulging with skeletons, and a well-resourced investigation could come up with any number of them. Embarrassment or indictment or forced resignation rather than impeachment are definitely ongoing possibilities for him, and here is an ego that regards itself as just too big to fail.

The fact that this bizarre man was elected tells us something about America, and that is that there are tens of millions who feel powerless, who feel no one really represents them. There is a good deal of desperation.

And they are absolutely right to feel the way they do, but they only added to the list of their own woes by electing a man who can do nothing for them and whose recklessness is shaping up itself as extremely dangerous – in Venezuela, In Syria, in Palestine, in Iran, in Yemen, in North Korea, and in a list of other places.

The government of a world empire, one working to redouble its authority over others, has next to no use for the ordinary people of its own country, except when it comes to filling uniforms, but Trump pretends that he has because the belly-over-the-belt set are his people, his political base. That’s why, while other promises are forgotten, “the wall” has not been – that costly, pretty much pointless project means a lot to “his people.” Depriving him of it provides a natural path to weakening him for the 2020 election. Hard to see any compromise possible there.

The threat of war is as constant now as it was under Obama, and I believe it is becoming even more so. After all, even if Trump cannot decide everything as he likes to pretend he does, he still influences the international situation, its tone and direction, and he adds only more instability and recklessness.

And in China, the same recklessness has already started serious aspects of economic war. This is unbelievably dangerous to the health of world society, given the many economic weaknesses we see, especially in the United States, with debts and deficits and various bubbles generated by low interest rates and artificially pumped-up liquidity.

His grand illusion of “Make America Great Again” – just a re-tread of the now-irrelevant “American Dream” slogan – is causing buttons to be pushed that were best left untouched. The establishment knows his slogan is rubbish, but they are using him to undercut China, a country they resent and fear and a country they have wanted to undercut for a long time. It was Obama, answering to the same masters, who spoke of a “pivot to Asia.”

China is definitely on a natural path to becoming the world’s premier nation, and if there is anything the American establishment can do to torpedo that, it will. Trump and his economically-illiterate talk of China stealing American jobs is useful. Of course, no one is going to start closing factories in China and reopening them in America – Trump’s foggy-brained vision of the future – but attacking China so relentlessly can slow it down, something America’s newly assertive establishment views as useful.

The simple goal of the people who really run America is to reassert their authority worldwide. They cannot do that through economic competition anymore and they cannot do it through the immense respect America once enjoyed after WW II, but they sure can work on the military and financial and foreign policy fronts to become a more threatening bully that makes incessant demands and seizes opportunities as they come along.

They are working hard to undermine the elected government in Venezuela in part because the guy they have lined up as “leader” there has promised he would sell off the government’s big petroleum assets. But it’s more than just that. Venezuela is just one piece in a large puzzle. America wants a return in Latin America also to the 1950s, a time when an unquestioning giant plantation system was dominated by American-compliant governments. Cuba is very much back on the list of targets after Venezuela, as are several other states. The “Lima Group” is just one more Cold War-style front organization for getting what you want from others. They help do your dirty work, giving your arrogant demands an appearance of wider respectability, in return for favors and considerations. Hitler’s willing helpers, as it were. Something of the same role Israel enjoys in the Middle East.

Serious world economic collapse is not just a dark fantasy, it is a real possibility, given the many frailties we see. Things are now slowing in China. Things are slowing in Germany. Europe is rife with division. None of the American establishment has been willing to bear the least burden to rebalance things in America, to correct dangerous excesses. Instead of paying the taxes they should have to pay down debt, they received more outrageous tax cuts. It is behavior which almost exactly parallels that of the great dukes and churchmen of France in the years leading to the French Revolution.

In this they are blood brothers, Trump and the Washington establishment. Trump’s entire career is one of fighting taxes and taking unfair advantages with no regard for the consequences to others and society at large. Trump’s personal real estate empire reflects the efforts over years of accountants and tax lawyers constantly battling government more than it does anything else. He has been a decades-long chiseller in slow motion, which is why he refused to release his tax records.

So, too, in military matters. Overwhelmingly, these establishment people avoided military service, as Trump very much did at the very height of horrors in Vietnam. The guy who regularly has his picture taken in custom-made bomber jackets and other military gear welcomed no opportunity to wear them when they weren’t just political costumes.  He’ll hug the flag for countless photo-ops, but it never occurred to him to risk anything personal for it.

But the American establishment is always ready to send others off to war to inflict God-knows-what on the poor people of the world. They do it in the name of “freedom,” but they mean only the freedom to control and exploit. That’s what those American flag lapel pins they all insist on wearing really mean.

And the costliest, least economically-beneficial institution in America, the military and its associated security establishment, just keeps getting more money than it knows what to do with. It now consumes more than a trillion dollars a year. This works towards the large economic threat, but it also adds still more to the threat of war. Great standing military machines have always in the past proved to be agents for war, not for peace.





John Chuckman



“A Call to Reinvestigate American Assassinations”


While I am completely in sympathy with the idea that the major American political assassinations need re-investigation, I know, at the same time, that it is pretty much a waste of breath to advocate for it.

Why were the original investigations, endowed with large resources of money and personnel, so badly handled?

And, as a long-time student of the John Kennedy case, I can say flatly that the investigation of his assassination was more than badly handled.

It was deliberately and consistently mishandled. It was manipulated.

Who had such power to see that it was mishandled?

Well, those same interests have not gone away. There are new names a couple of generations later, of course, but the interests remain.

Indeed, I think it easy to argue that those interests have only become more powerful inside American society, a society where the disparity between the great bulk of citizens and the privileged has grown immensely since John Kennedy’s time. The country, in many ways, is not recognizable as the same place, the place in which I grew up. Hopes, aspirations, and opportunities have all been blunted or diminished for the bulk of Americans while the privileged establishment has burgeoned to become more powerful than ever.

All of the evidence we have about the American power establishment’s reinvigorated efforts to dominate the globe (following its quiet, grim recognition that America’s relative economic position in the world has seriously deteriorated since the halcyon decades after WWII) – its efforts to pursue “full-spectrum dominance,” its efforts in the bloody Neocon wars, its efforts against Russia and against China, its efforts in Latin America, and its horrific level of spending on the military and on security, including an entirely new kind of security involving the compromise of every single American’s intimate privacy – tells us that the interests which deliberately mishandled investigating Kennedy’s assassination, and did so in two major efforts, are very much still around.

America’s power establishment today lies pretty much around the clock about many subjects. It is simply a way of life for those pursuing great power and undertaking many dark deeds.


Response to a comment about Americans must not surrender but demand the truth:

Oh, yes, I certainly do see a lot of Americans fighting for this, or any other, truth.

Sorry, but your rhetoric achieves little beyond raising your blood pressure.

Americans, in general, today seem quite indifferent to truth of any kind. From embracing nonsense claims about “healthy stuff” and burying their minds in “social media” to accepting the almost continuous military atrocities abroad by America and its close allies.

Americans, for the most part, couldn’t care less about what America does in the Middle East and in other distant places. They certainly don’t want to hear about what really causes all those unpleasant, desperate refugees in the Middle East or in Central America – that is, the activities of their own armed forces. They certainly don’t want to hear about all the massive amounts of death and destruction, none of which would have happened without America’s efforts. And America’s press accommodates the wish completely, never honestly investigating such matters, always supporting the establishment’s “narrative.”

As the melodramatic, much-quoted movie-script line goes, “You can’t handle the truth!” Interestingly, that script line and the movie from which it comes were themselves dishonest defenses of Pentagon interests. So constant and penetrating so deeply into society are the establishment’s efforts to propagandize that popular entertainment is enlisted to the task.

Truth in America has become a rhetorical, argumentative word, devoid of any real meaning. It is even often used pejoratively.

In an empire where wars, coups, dirty operations, and assassinations are part of the week-to-week efforts of government – always lying as it does its dirty work – there is no such thing as truth. There is only “controlling the narrative,” getting our “story out there,” and countless big and little lies. The best of literature, art, music, and certainly science honors truth. Politics and the pursuit of power tend to avoid it completely.

Much of the rhetoric in the American “fake news” controversies is on the level of Baptist tent preachers blubbering about Satan rather than saying anything genuine about truth. Truth, despite all kinds of twisted arguments and insincere discussions, in most cases, actually isn’t that difficult a concept to understand or to adhere to. There really is something of the elegant simplicity of Keats’ lines about truth being beauty and beauty truth.

Something either happened or it didn’t, and honest investigators, whether journalists or criminal investigators or special commissions, either report it or they don’t. But it should be obvious that where whole areas of potential information are simply ignored – as in the Middle East today where never once is the Syrian or Iranian or Russian point of view reported or discussed. Always, the same sources are quoted on almost everything. It should be obvious there is no honest effort to report truth.

But most humans are just built that way. Whether in religious, political, or social matters, the original endowment of understanding and point of view provided by society from birth is not questioned and certainly not deeply investigated. The limited number who do question or investigate end up being regarded as eccentrics or kooks or geniuses not understood by most.

Going back to Kennedy’s death, a great many witnesses and valid pieces of evidence were simply ignored while, in a number of cases, lesser witnesses and highly dubious, even compromised, evidence was admitted into the record. Of course, that is only a fraction of what was done badly in the Warren report.

It is the same for every aspect of America’s imperial involvement in the world. Interests totally overshadow truth. Truth indeed becomes quite “inconvenient.”

The Kennedy and King assassinations revolved around this same central gravitational mass. Kennedy’s assassination was about American establishment concerns with Cuba, and to a lesser extent with Russia, and King’s was about an establishment frightened at the prospect of millions of young black men being mobilized against wars and for greater justice at home.

If you doubt that assertion about establishment concerns with King, just look, all these decades later, at the huge bellowing, angry noise in America over some black football players briefly, respectfully kneeling at a game during the national anthem in protest against police violence on the streets, where American police kill about three people every single day, people who are mostly unarmed, many of them being black, and the police involved almost never are charged with anything.

King was okay, could be tolerated at least, when he just gave “Sermons on the Mount,” so to speak, about justice and equality. But when he later began actively opposing a major war and made fiery speeches to striking black workers in various cities, well, that became a very different matter. With his fame and eloquence, he was starting to challenge the interests of those who really ran America.

The same establishment was furious about Castro, whose magnetism appealed even to some young Americans, and who very much challenged the traditional American Plantation System in Latin America, and great resources were spent by CIA trying to do everything from killing him or toppling his government and to sabotaging the economy and demonizing his words and acts. Unless you go into the literature of the time, it is hard today to appreciate the fierce intensity of that reaction. And those horrible Russians, imperial America’s damned Carthaginians, were actually helping him.

The only acceptable response was the square-jawed, fierce-eyed, ready-to-kill one displayed by innumerable American players of the time – Guy Bannister, J. Edgar Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, or Richard Nixon kind of stuff. John Kennedy completely lacked that quality, even though he delivered some pretty martinet-sounding speeches at times which I found rather unsettling.

His gross failures – as judged by the square-jawed set of powerful American figures – in the Bay of Pigs invasion and in the Cuban Missile Crisis, made him a marked man. His firing the CIA’s top three men, all establishment darlings, after Kennedy’s being humiliated by the CIA’s fiasco at the Bay of Pigs didn’t help. Nor did his angry promise to one day splinter the CIA into pieces, especially when combined with the fact that he made concessions to Russia over Cuba – my God, a promise never to invade again! Can you imagine that? – and established back-channel communications with Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

It was all even further fired up by insider knowledge of Kennedy’s intimate relationship with Mary Pinchot Meyer, an eastern establishment family dissident and non-conformist artist-type, and his reportedly having been introduced to some drugs by her in their trysts. She was, we learn from later accounts, the only woman with whom he had a relationship of equals and perhaps the only woman he ever came close to loving, and she was what later would be called very much a peacenik.

Truth and bloody empire cannot coexist. Lies are an inherent part of all the killing and oppression required by imperial enterprises, and since America’s enterprise is global in extent, its crimes and lies are many. We see this clearly in the contemporary case of Israel with its efforts to establish itself as a kind of miniature replica of imperial America in its region. Some of its many ruthless efforts do get recorded, but it is only some, and a compliant Western press minimizes what they report and uses all the euphemisms they can muster. The participants in empire always avoid, as much as possible, direct observation or reporting of their efforts. Always. That’s why secret security services are called secret and why classifying things is virtually an industry in Washington.

That’s why we can still look at old photos of Winston Churchill and think of him as that great cherubic-faced defender of democracy and all good things Western. He was in fact a dedicated imperialist, a man ready to do anything from machine-gunning revolting peasants to making ugly deals with criminals. The only reason he was not willing to do a deal with Hitler, who offered him one around guarantees for the British Empire, was his inability to accept having one country dominate the Continent, reflecting a very long-standing, basic principle of British foreign policy, and his own vanity – and he was immensely vain – in regarding himself as a greater figure than Herr Hitler, as he called him in his memoirs. He was not an enemy of tyrants in general. He was certainly not a defender of human rights in general. And he often laughed at aspects of democracy. In his World War II memoirs, you can clearly sense, too, some admiration of Stalin.

I don’t care which aspect of American government you talk about, it’s always the same. The FBI is a perfect example. The history of that organization is extremely dark and unpleasant. Yet today, we get all these assertions, during the controversy concerning Trump and the FBI, about this or that besmirching the FBI’s reputation. The FBI, in fact, has no reputation, beyond one manufactured by its public relations organization and the ever-supporting main-line press. The arguments about it all are phony.

Below is a piece about the FBI I wrote years ago, and nothing has really changed. It could readily be updated to double its length with a variety of tales.

Now, apart from other matters, they are in the business of trying to influence American elections, but even that is not new. It was learned just the other day in an interview with a former senior FBI official that a regular part of the FBI’s counterintelligence operations inside the United States involved working to prevent any seriously progressive or leftish politicians from being nominated for seats in Congress. 

Here are a few other points:

Here is a brief discussion around one of the only truly valuable documents ever released by government on the John Kennedy assassination.

Yet there has been no public controversy or big discussion about the document, which contains, unmistakably, threads of the real truth. It has been all but been completely ignored by the press.

The authorities releasing this were so confident in the public’s unquestioning mindset that they weren’t concerned when they did so, and it appears they were right to think that way. Either that or they blundered, but it still had almost zero impact.

Which is to say, that none of this historical stuff, the stuff that would be pored over in yet another investigation, can make any difference unless the structure under which investigations must operate, the very structure of the way America is governed, is changed, and just what are the chances of that?

Here is a good summary of what I mean:


Posted January 23, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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John Chuckman



“Ominous New ‘Fact Checker’ Approves MSM Lies to Start Wars While Attacking Alternative Media

“Newsguard attempts to set itself outside of the other allegedly “unbiased” fact checkers like Snopes and Politifact by setting out to monetarily cripple independent media sites by having their ads pulled”


I don’t see a lot of point in citing a selection of past transgressions by the mainstream press. It has never done anything but support the establishment, including supporting every conflict in which America engages.

That is, almost by definition, part of its job. It is the corporate mouthpiece for a corporate government establishment. It is beholden to the establishment for its place and patronage and privileges, so that it could not do otherwise if it tried.

Just as one example, The New York Times has been described as the house organ of the American establishment. You could not come up with a more apt description. And surely, we all understand that the house organs you find provided to employees in any large corporation are provided to make employees feel good about their company, to make them feel proud, and to support what the company undertakes, not to search for truth.

Anyone who believes that the principles of journalism, as espoused in schools, are applied in the mainstream press and broadcasting simply is confessing to the fact that he or she does not read or listen with much understanding.

The old saying, attributed to more than one author, about the only way to have a free press is to own one, is one of the truest things ever said on the subject of journalism and publishing.

Well, that, of course, is just what the many diverse writers and publishers in our Internet universe have done – gone and got their own presses.

Technology has made it possible to have more and more diverse publications and perspectives published than anyone could have imagined just fifty years ago.

We all understand how new technology made the Industrial Revolution possible, but similar revolutionary effects come from any important new technology, such as home computers and the Internet.

Of course, the establishment house organs do not like it, and they like it even less in a new technology-driven environment which has stripped them of traditional revenue sources, revenue such as want ads, once a gold mine for many of them.

The only opinion that counts about any news source is the opinion of its readers. That is the only way it should be in a free society.

NewsGuard is a genuinely insidious concept which effectively tries to put up old-fashioned “quarantined” notices on the front doors of houses to prevent anyone from visiting. But we are not talking about deadly disease here, we are talking about ideas and free speech.

Free speech comes with risks, inherently. Some speech will be misinformed, some prejudiced, some just dumb, but you cannot have free speech without its accompanying messiness. There is no such thing as scrubbed, pre-washed, lab-tested free speech. To even think that you can have it so is to think along the lines of the Soviets.

All of NewsGuard’s interviews and research efforts are intended to give the appearance almost of a scientific research operation supporting their judgments. But, in the end, it is all as phony as the guys with fellowships and titles from “think-tanks” or “institutes” who pose as independent scholars and thinkers while, in fact, being full-time paid advocates for a cause, all much resembling the actors who wear white lab coats and carry clip boards in television ads as they advise you, in authoritative baritone voices, about which headache remedy to buy.

Judgments are what NewsGuard is peddling, judgments and absolutely nothing else. Judgments as dependable as the customer product reviews on many large Internet sales sites, which is to say, not at all. These are then applied with a mechanism intended to destroy revenue sources for the publications they target. You really need to know nothing more than that to reject and condemn this effort to control the flow of free speech.

The very concept is inhibiting, controlling, and unwarranted in a free society.

But who ever regarded an empire as a free society? The American empire is somewhat unique in history as being one that has been carefully tailored over generations to provide a good illusion of a free society. Operations like NewsGuard only remind us of the reality.



John Chuckman



“Nothing unites our political class like the threat of ending our never-ending war …”


A good piece, capturing some fundamental truth about America’s power establishment.

In the early summary of the costs of the War on Terror, however, we find this:

“What’s the War on Terror death count by now, a half-million?”

Well, it is far greater than that.

Just in Syria, at least that many have been killed.

The total for the invasion of Iraq, including all the aftershocks set off by it, is perhaps a million souls.

Then there’s Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, and several lesser spots.

I think a fair rough number is around 2 million.

And the number of hopeless refugees?

Many million. At least 3 million are in camps in Turkey. Germany took around a million. Terrible old Syria took about 2 million originally from Iraq.

No, the consequences of this American insanity are immense and will affect people for a couple of generations.

Meanwhile, the expenses-paid lunches in Washington likely swelled to record amounts.

It’s called the abuse of power.

It’s also called corruption, and Lord Acton had it so right with his words about power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

America’s power establishment arrived at that last point in the dictum quite some years ago.

The amazing thing for me is how any American can believe his country would be free of these basic forces shaping human society?

Americans are somehow purer of heart? I do think there is some of that. Remember George Bush’s pathetic, blubbering Sunday School teacher words about America when some of the military’s war crimes came to light?

Take a bunch of privileged and ambitious insiders, give them hundreds of billions of dollars to spend on questionable projects with no well-defined purpose, give them all the secrecy they demand, give them no real accounting for their acts, and give them a blizzard of favorable propaganda to cover whatever they do.

What possible other results could you get?

The naivete of average Americans in just accepting this from their (bought-and-paid-for) politicians and never questioning what’s in their (bought-and-paid-for) corporate press is astonishing.

Astonishing but a fact.