Archive for the ‘LORD ACTON’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: AMERICA’S FINANCIAL AND POLITICAL INSANITY: NO ONE SAYS WHAT NEEDS SAYING AND NO ONE DOES WHAT NEEDS DOING   Leave a comment


 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY JEFFERY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Oh, yes, true words indeed.

But I fear they are good seed cast on barren ground.

The United States has demonstrated, time and again, that it is only capable of adjusting its governance after smashing its head into a wall, often after several times.

Its political system is a creaking wreck, a kind of man-made monster lumbering along, force-feed by special interest campaign contributions and marching to the drumbeat of outdated assumptions and truly ignorant superstitions.

Despite decades of declining real income, the American middle class remains moved by silly slogans like “the American Dream” and “America First,” much resembling the flock of some religious cult who even after being fleeced by its leaders insists the religion is true.

The United States is a plutocracy, perhaps as corrupt as France in 1788, and it is an overstretched world imperial power serving the narrow interests of its plutocrats, but always it is mouthing slogans about democracy and freedom and justice, largely dead and empty language, to its ordinary inhabitants.

People insulated from the effects of wars and bad times – the plutocrats and ruling establishment in Washington – just do not feel the impact of such terrible turns of event.

Elections only matter in the most nominal way in the United States, they are part of keeping the myths going, as we’ve seen so clearly in the case of Obama.

This bright, optimistic, and charming man took the world’s attention by storm after eight years of the rancid and hated George Bush.

But in two years what has he achieved? Almost nothing of consequence.

The wars go on. Indeed, they are now killing civilians weekly in Pakistan.

The Pentagon and the American intelligence apparatus have swollen into great wallowing beasts, consuming vast resources to no good purpose.

After a terrible financial catastrophe, what has been changed? Nothing, just countless billions given away to stimulate a temporary respite, paying for which threatens the very security and international position of the American dollar.

We see no meaningful legislation to regulate future financial excesses.

We hear not one voice speak about the painful sacrifices required to pay for all the ghastly excess of war and financial anarchy.

Do we see even one meaningful political change in the way elections are conducted and financed, something that might promise future reform? We do not.

Has anything changed, despite Obama’s early suggestion of a new policy direction, with America’s client state Israel and its terrible seemingly-endless abuse of millions?

Obama’s one big act, his health-care legislation, is an abomination, disliked by liberals and conservatives alike, an ugly ineffective costly compromise.

Has anything happened with the paranoid, democratically destructive legislation around American security, virtual police-state stuff which is unbelievably costly by every possible measure?

Nothing has changed. The election of 2008 might just as well not have taken place.

No individual, however bright and enthusiastic, can move the American establishment from its firm position of ignorance and selfishness and power.

And we all know what Lord Acton said about power.

His words apply to all power, no matter how established, even democratically-camouflaged power.
_______________________

If you want some interesting insight into the assumptions and attitudes of the American middle class, watch a few American real-estate, cable-channel television shows.

People often want three-car garages. They want granite counter tops. The want four bedrooms. They want three bathrooms. They want central air-conditioning.

They have saved no money. They are looking to finance on the basis of 100% mortgages.

And, perhaps worst of all, they are looking at subdivisions in the middle of nowhere, in Colorado or Texas or Arizona. Places which require cars for everyone and every single errand. Places which require twenty-four-hour-a-day air conditioning for major parts of the year. Places often with no long-term, dependable water resources, often genuine deserts.

Some of these shows actually deal with the results of the earlier excesses, people whose home prices have cratered, who owe huge amounts on their mortgages, people who are trying to sell ugly behemoths they can’t afford, and people who feel entitled.

Americans are entitled to walk away from homes and the loans which financed them when the value of the mortgage exceeds the value of the property, a fact not often appreciated in Canada where we honor contracts. They just hand the keys to the bank and go.

In buying homes, Americans often walk away from contracts too. That’s why in most places the signs in front of homes say they are “under contract” rather than “sold” during the interim between signing and closing. Realtors often keep showing homes “under contract” just in case. In America, for sure you do not know you have a valid sale until the little closing ceremony when money and keys are exchanged.

Another fact not always appreciated in Canada is that American home owners have long had the privilege of deducting the interest on their mortgages from their federal income tax. Yet even with this financial boost, still they cannot make a go of it, and for the simple reason that the deductibility has only encouraged still larger purchases and likely inflated prices.

Such shows tell us a great deal, exhibiting like educational films the results of America’s inability to govern itself sensibly. We see the grassroots reality of loose and chaotic government.

But when I say loose and chaotic government, I always exclude the intelligence monstrosity, the Pentagon, and America’s many and brutal police forces. Nothing loose there – just a quasi-police state taken for granted.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: WIKILEAKS ON ROGUE STATES AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS – A BOOGEYMAN PIECE IGNORING THE GENUINE ROGUE STATE WHICH IS ISRAEL   1 comment


 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY HEIDI BLAKE IN THE TELEGRAPH

What a blind piece of writing.

The only “rogue” state in the Middle East is Israel.

Israel has about 150 nuclear warheads, several delivery systems, and a working factory for fissionable material which no one is even allowed to visit.

The same Israel which keeps thousands in jail illegally, attacks every neighbor that it has, relentlessly keeps taking the land of others in an elaborate system of slow-motion ethnic-cleansing, and practices a brutal apartheid.

Now, there is indeed a genuine threat to world peace.

Instead of dealing head-on with a genuine threat to the world, Israel’s illicit nuclear weapons, this article stirs up nonsense about boogeymen, a truly irresponsible game.

What the article actually does is serve Israel’s narrow interests, removing the focus from the world’s outstanding nuclear rogue state, Israel, a state which has supported no international laws or treaties or regulations in building its terror weapons, has stolen, bribed and killed to get its weapons. It is moreover a country which has wheeled-and-dealed in nuclear weapons technology with another rogue state in the past, South Africa.

Israel’s shadow falls on everything for a thousand miles around, and it has a withering effect on the whole region.

Israel has a direct effect on the nature of government in the region. It does not want democracies to emerge, because it is comfortable with autocrats like Mubarak who do not challenge its interests.

It never once tries to respect its neighbors, never once honestly seeks peace, and blubbers on and on about Islamists and terror and its being the region’s only democracy.

What kind of democracy is it that behaves this way? It’s a rather good thing there are no other democracies of this kind.
_____________________
From another reader:

“Israel, an island of liberal democracy on the forefront of a wild Muslim-Arab world”

Sorry, that is arrogant, unthinking, and uninformed.

Israel is by no measure a “liberal democracy.”

There is no Bill or Charter of Rights, nor can there ever be one in a state based on ethic/religious identity.

And minorities of many descriptions are treated unfairly and badly in Israel.

And you cannot have a Jewish democracy anymore than you can have an Islamic democracy or a Hindu democracy. Once you place limits on who has access in a democracy, you no longer are speaking of genuine democracy.

I just love that comic-book stuff about a “wild Muslim-Arab world,” a 21st century version of “the yellow peril.”

You could not cite a more stunning example of pure prejudice.

Unfortunately, it represents the attitude Israel works very hard to foster in the world, always hoping to so prejudice everyone’s thinking that Israel can do just as it pleases.

Well, we’ve seen – especially in the last decade – what Israel does when it does as it pleases. Cluster bombs on civilians, four hundred children killed, piracy on the high seas, a cruel blockade to starve people out, a continued brutal occupation, refusal to talk to anyone but a pathetic figure like Abbas who doesn’t even properly hold office, passing the most prejudiced and unfair laws, assassinating anyone who disagrees, refusing even to talk to a cleanly-elected government, torture, seizing the property of others, and practices which people of unqualified credentials to speak have called apartheid – Jimmy Carter, Bishop Tutu, and Nelson Mendella.

And we all know what Lord Acton said about power and absolute power.
___________________________
From another reader:

‘”Israel has about 150 nuclear warheads…”
‘Really?
‘If you have accurate data, information and not speculation, why don’t you share it with the rest of humanity…??’

Glad to share, but sorry you are not yourself better informed.

Jimmy Carter gave us that number a year or so ago.

Need I remind you that Carter was President of the United States, is a nuclear engineer, and was a commander of an American ballistic-missile submarine?

He is well connected with international leaders and intelligence sources, and many say he has the highest I.Q. of any president in the last century.

He doesn’t say things he doesn’t know.

Of course, actual pictures of some of Israel’s facilities and even a mold for fissionable material were published in the Sunday Times a few decades ago.

The man responsible for those pictures – an Israeli nuclear technician – was drugged and kidnapped by Israeli agents and spent many years in prison. He still lives under strict limits and threats.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE DOLLAR’S REIGN IN THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END – A MAJOR ECONOMIC PROBLEM FOR AMERICA NOT EVEN DISCUSSED THERE – PLUS OTHER ECONOMIC PROBLEMS   Leave a comment


JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY JEREMY WARNER IN THE TELEGRAPH

This is an excellent explanatory piece on one of the most important economic realities facing the world.

Sadly, in the United States the level of discourse in politics is so consistently low and juvenile, people do not appreciate this looming situation, and their cowardly politicians are not about to explain it to them.

We should never forget the role that pointless and destructive wars play.

Its current two wars have achieved nothing useful to the world’s economy, being essentially a kind of gigantic consumption for which America has not the legitimate means to pay. War has been America’s junk food since the 1950s.

Were America functioning the way most countries must function – that is, paying for what they consume and not borrowing to pay for what they consume – I believe we would see a much more judicious use of its Frankenstein military.

Indeed, the monster would be cut down to size more in keeping with America’s own defense and proper interests, not insane crusades all over the globe based solely on the prejudices of American voters and narrow special interests.

The expenses it put into killing three million Vietnamese and toppling a stable government in Cambodia decades ago were colossal at the time. After that hugely destructive and pointless war, Nixon devalued the currency.

The whole world was forced into paying for America’s obtuse policies.
_____________________________

“Whatever we think of America – we know and trust her globally far more than the regime running China as a one party state with vast swathes of the country and activity closed to any sort of observer. “

I don’t see any factual basis for that statement. It’s purely emotional, a result of being comfortable with years of shared culture.

The fact is for all the pose of openness, American society at the top – where it counts in terms of power and influence – is not really very open.

Many secrets remain secrets virtually forever, even long after the supposedly mandated time of their release.

The motivations of America’s establishment are often not clear, and we receive only fluff explanations for major actions which affect the entire world.

For example, the invasion of Iraq has not yet been honestly explained.

If you are familiar with the details of 9/11, you know that complex event has never been explained.

We still do not know why or exactly how President Kennedy was killed. The official investigations are discredited in scores of ways.

What about the very legitimacy of American governments?

Kennedy won through vote fraud.

Lyndon Johnson’s career in Texas started with vote fraud.

Bush won through vote fraud in Florida in 2000.

All national elections in the US are largely decided by money. This recent Mid-term election saw mountains of cash spent, about $4 billion dollars. Those contributors are buying influence and access, things which ordinary Americans are pretty well excluded from today. If you live in any major state, you have as much chance of talking to your Senator as you have talking to the President: zero.

The American intelligence establishment now consists of at least 16 agencies. Only recently a glimmer of information about its budget was revealed. It’s now at least $80 billion a year. Only a decade ago, CIA was typically said to cost $30 billion.

That dwarfs everything else on the planet, just as today America’s military spending exceeds the total of all other nations on earth combined. What are they doing with that colossal amount? What is the long term effect of such immense power, especially when combined with economic vulnerabilities?

Every phone call and e-mail in America is recorded and run through super-computers. The same for Britain or Canada. The FBI has the authority to go to public libraries and check what people are reading. You can be excluded from flying by the mere adding of your name to a list, and there is almost no way to remove it. Privacy has been invaded as almost never before.

Eisenhower warned of the Military-Industrial Complex, and it has been a growing problem in a free society for decades, but today its threat has reached a new order of magnitude.

Now we have a set of super economic problems facing this top-heavy power structure. It is not at all clear that its responses will be favorable to the world. Rather, the reverse is very much likely.

We know what Lord Acton said of power. Never was there a greater test of his observation than what we see in America today.
___________________________________

“It will start a civil war in America in my opinion because the middle class is going to be wiped out in the coming dollar collapse.

“The anger and resentment expressed by the Tea Party people will be a drop in the ocean.”

The US middle class – at least the large, more modest portion of it – has been effectively in decline for decades. Real wages have steadily fallen.

America’s immense boom after WW II was based on all its competitors being prostrate and on its factories having only just become gigantic to serve a huge military. But one by one, the competitors have returned and new ones have emerged.

The myth of American economic magic spun during the 1940-50s is beginning to dissolve – what American politicians love to call “the American Dream.” The rude fact is that America is not really very competitive in many economic activities, and nothing is harder than coming down from the kind of high Americans have long been on.

People were able to offset this reality by such adjustments as both husband and wife working and moving to cheaper houses in the suburbs.

But these patches are pretty well exhausted.

Further, a tremendously important economic issue not discussed here is the future climb in energy prices once the economic downturn is over. We will see oil at well over $100/barrel again.

The growth of China and India mean nothing but immense increases in the demand for energy, as well as other vital commodities.

All those poor lower middle-class Americans out in the suburbs are going to find their adaptation no longer works.

When oil a while back temporarily reached nearly $150/barrel briefly, we saw the beginnings of a revolution in America. Large car sales crashed, and large cars – pick-up trucks and SUVs are essential parts of the suburban life formula.

When such prices are sustained, people will be dumping their sprawling suburban homes which require a great deal of energy to heat and cool and to reach from work.

America’s most ferocious home growth for years has been in the American South West, but those homes require large amounts of energy to cool through semi-desert climates.

America’s military spending too has been a terrible investment. No economic activity is more wasteful than building expensive hardware in huge quantities basically to rust. And its very existence is a constant lure to its use in wars that add even more waste.