Archive for the ‘MONEY IS FREE SPEECH’ Tag


John Chuckman



“Hijacking the Second Amendment”

“The gun lobby has hijacked the Second Amendment, which was intended for citizen militias to provide domestic “security” without a standing army. The amendment is a dangerous relic”


Absolutely, it is a relic, if a person interprets it clearly.

But it is deliberately misinterpreted, all the time, and there is no one in authority to correct that misinterpretation.

The ultra-conservative Supreme Court, much resembling a group of Catholic Scholastics from the Middle Ages in their narrow way of looking at matters, certainly will never step in the way of misinterpreting it. Their decisions on most matters are about on a level of enlightenment with the old Dred Scott decision.

As, for example, the decision insanely telling us that “money is free speech,” leaving American politics in the complete service of the wealthy with little room for genuine democratic principles. The voice of the general populace has very little political force in America.

Given the quality of leadership the money principle produces in the Senate, in the House, and in the White House (and, of course, in a court appointed by the White House and approved by the Senate), no wonder no significant progress is ever made in almost anything.

And the Second Amendment has long been rather meaningless because the set of circumstances dictating its creation ceased existing a very long time ago. The idea of private militias had roots in a pre-empire English government that was not fond of spending large amounts of money on standing armies. Elizabeth I, for example, hated spending money on the military. Those ideas were transferred to, and early embraced in, America.

But they became obsolete as America itself, fairly early, turned to empire, as reflected in the thinking of the Monroe Doctrine. The national embrace of violence in a long series of imperial wars and violent activities was no friendly environment for any kind of opposition against guns.

The interpretation of the Second Amendment morphed over time into something it was clearly not designed to be, too, a protection against tyrannical government, perhaps not surprising considering all the wars and imperial conflicts of the government.

Of course, hanging onto that changed meaning, about being against tyrannical government, is today absurd, given the massive armed force that American government now has at its disposal.

It’s almost comic-book stuff to think of gangs of concerned citizens dressed-up in camouflage, armed with with rifles and shotguns or even privately-owned machine-guns, hitting the streets against America’s militarized police forces possessing all kinds of combat gear, armored cars, helicopters, gas grenades, and heavy military-style weapons, to say nothing of the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, Special Forces, and National Guard. The results would be entirely predictable. Detroit, 1967.

The fact is that America, as a whole, has been very gun-friendly, and the bending and twisting of the meaning of the Second amendment serves that gun-friendly population. It certainly is not the work of just a formal lobby like the National Rifle Association. There are tens of millions of Americans with gut feelings on the matter of guns. And there is a long history.

I think it dates back to the days of slavery when many plantation owners slept with a gum under the pillow or on a nearby nightstand.

They were afraid of slave revolts, even though there were almost none.

Then we had the gun as friendly tool through the Indian Wars.

And the various imperial wars on the march westward. And efforts to seize parts South too. In all of them, the gun was a friend.

And gun ownership remains popular with the violence of decayed American urban areas generating fears, the same kind of fears that create gated communities and much of suburbia and make driving semi-military, somewhat-menacing-looking vehicles like SUVs popular.

The fear of violence is also to be seen in the undisciplined police in so many places in America, police who kill an average of three Americans a day, and there is very little effort to correct that ugly reality with few police ever charged with anything or even dismissed. The fear of violence is seen in notoriously brutal prisons where hundreds of prisoners mysteriously die every year. And it is seen in the world’s highest rate of incarceration.

It doesn’t help that America is constantly at war, constantly promoting the values of war even at sporting events like football games, constantly recruiting soldiers for the wars, and constantly spending unholy amounts of money on the Pentagon and security services.

The very air that you breathe in the United States is charged with violence.

It isn’t just a “gun lobby” keeping the relic Second Amendment going, keeping it in a state of perpetual widely-accepted misinterpretation.

One could say that the gun-filled, violence-charged American society serves almost as a training and conditioning ground for the rather brutal needs of empire.

On historical aspects of America’s embrace of violence:


On reasons America’s government is so totally ineffective about any real domestic needs:


Posted August 9, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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John Chuckman



“Canada’s Main TV Channel, CBC, Is a Great Big Globalist Bullhorn for War”


Yes, CBC is not greatly different than many corporate news services. A little, but not greatly.

This should come as no surprise because a state network must depend upon the good will of government for its future.

If you want to see public services that are even worse than CBC, look no further than NPR and BBC – both appalling in their subservience to establishment policy.

All people concerned with news and events should know that you cannot depend on any one news source.

Only by reading or watching a variety of sources and making an effort to interpret, reading between the lines, can you hope to come to anything resembling truth in international affairs.

All Western governments dominate their news establishments, both private and public. All of them.

And, in turn, all Western governments are dominated by American imperial policies, often to an embarrassing extent. All of them.

So, we see American policy consistently supported and never truly attacked for the destructive thing that it is by politicians and news sources in “the West.”

But I’m sorry to say that this has nothing to do with “globalists” or even “war advocacy,” although the latter is an implicit part of world empire. Empires don’t just happen, they are created by force. America’s decades of wars since WWII are all about expanding or protecting empire and little else. All the stuff about principles or defense of America is just that, stuff – meaningless, jingoistic stuff.

The “globalism” theme is a myth of the Right to which many cling much as they cling to the myth that Trump is in any way opposed to basic American establishment interests. It is naïve to say so because he is busy fervently serving those interests both in international affairs and in world trade.

He wants the establishment’s support and works to earn it. He wants to be re-elected. Everything points to him working towards that end, as with his appointment of many Neocons to important posts.

America’s basic structural problem is that it has become a plutocracy, and the main power establishment in Washington is dedicated to serving the plutocracy. After all, money runs elections in America, plus a whole lot else.

The stuff about “globalism,” always used as an epithet and left poorly defined, is virtually a distraction from the real problem.

So long as the nation functions as a plutocracy with a power establishment serving its interests, which very much includes a costly world empire, nothing important will change.

Trump is such a great example of the realities. He works overtime trying to give them what they want in return for them tolerating him in office.

You know, in the end, throughout the world, those with great fortunes dominate despite all the political rhetoric about democracy and the struggles for freedom over the last few centuries. The rich rule, still, but it is not always with the complete transparency we see in the United States.

Both major parties are completely dependent upon large money donors. Nothing serious in arrangements or international affairs ever changes with the election of either of them. And America’s Supreme Court has even ruled that “money is free speech.”


John Chuckman



“The War on Assange Is a War on Press Freedom”

“The persecution of Assange is part of a broad assault against anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist news organizations.”


Wow, what an excellent piece of analysis.

I wouldn’t subtract or change a word.

I might add a point or two.

Chris Hedges includes the rot of money in American politics, but there is a lot more to be said about what is at the very heart of things.

The extent of it is not well understood by the average American and certainly not understood by observers abroad.

America has basically managed to create an elaborate political system with all the showy external trappings of democracy but almost none of its content.

America today is run by a relatively small number of people who control the levers in both parties because they control the money available, truckloads of it. These people are served by the American empire’s security-military apparatus and the politicians in Washington who are beholden to them.

The whole gang together, what I tend to call America’s power establishment, has an almost closed system serving themselves. That is why nothing beneficial or useful or even decent can get done in America anymore. And, of course, they do not like those who, like Assange, bring any light to the dark realities of American government.

The unquestioned power of that money-drenched American establishment is why there is now a continuous stream of wars which are not in the average American’s interest at all but are buried under thick layers, almost like stage make-up, of rhetoric about Patriotism and defending freedom.

There are almost no useful or effective rules governing the use of money in American politics. There are also no useful or effective rules governing the operations of America’s immensely powerful special-interest lobbies.

So, if I were a motivated young politician with some good ideas and intentions, I would virtually never stand a chance against the establishment candidate whose millions buy television ads, enable him to travel everywhere with elaborate support, and have the services of everything from a make-up man to pollsters and public relations flacks.

Of course, accidents do happen, and, once in a thousand times, a little guy does manage to win owing to some peculiar local set of circumstances, an event which will be jumped on by the establishment press as showing that things still work for the little guy in America. But such events are almost meaningless because their numbers are necessarily so small. They do not characterize the system because they cannot.

An individual little hero here or there, as a Bernie Sanders, means nothing in the big picture. Its just like a nice little bookstore trying to compete with Amazon or a local specialty soft drink maker trying to compete with Coca-Cola.

They can have their tiny local business, but they cannot dream of seriously competing with the monster corporation. And the truth is often that the monster corporation can put them out of business at any time it decides to do so, or it can buy them out, but it is usually not worth the effort.

Many people do not understand that marketing products has become a monstrous effort which includes everything from research and nonstop advertising to literally buying the shelf space for products from the local grocery store chains. You, as a small producer of anything, can often barely get space on the store shelves, will certainly not be able to get the favorable paid-for space at eye-level and easy-reach, and may indeed in some cases be closed out completely from getting space. That’s just part of the way corporate marketing works.

America has taken these proven practices from corporate business and applied them to politics. Every step in a modern political election campaign reflects the same kinds of efforts as Coca-Cola or Frito-Lay pushing their products, and it all costs a great deal of money. You need money just to recover from money spent on a tactic that proves not to work. And money itself acts as what economists call “a barrier to entry” against potential competitors. You are, in effect, not even allowed to play cards at the table without a very large stake.

The only way to stop this behavior in politics, so that candidates could have a fairer opportunity to talk about their actual ideas and views, would be to choke off the money, but no one with power is willing to do that because everyone of them benefits from the way things are run.

Note also that money not only closes off honest campaigning and exchange of ideas, it serves to discourage from running those who have sincerely-held independent views and a desire for changing something that is wrong. This way of doing things is responsible for pre-packaged candidates and lists of campaign phrases out of manuals. In those senses, too, it is closed system.

But the people putting up the large amounts of political campaign money – literally billions in every major American election – want things to be exactly that way. They don’t want surprises or significant change. They want what they want and what they pay for. It is easy to see the tendency for government to become plutocracy, no matter what nice words are written on pieces of parchment kept in museums.

When a country has become an international imperial force, such as the United States very much has, it is just not the money people who want things to remain as they are. It is the powerful groups running massive agencies like the Pentagon and CIA. They, too, spend vast amounts of money, most of it serving the interests of those same money people, and they do not want change.

Great bureaucracies always have a tendency to protect and perpetuate themselves. The values and intentions of huge forces like the Pentagon and CIA are not friendly to democratic principles, no matter what their charters may say. They are intrinsically authoritarian organizations, and the more they grow and influence a society, the less it becomes a free place, again no matter what the old words on parchment say.

They are, of course, the natural allies of the money people. They serve them abroad in the workings of empire and have a common interest in minimizing political change at home. It is easy to see why ordinary citizens come to feel politics is useless and unresponsive to them. It is.

Whether you vote for Democrats or Republicans, you get the Pentagon, the CIA, the money people, and a ruthless empire abroad, with just some differences in rhetoric. Here again the system operates much like great corporations with their promotional and marketing wars for McDonald’s or Burger King, Coke or Pepsi. Huge amounts of money are spent, and the result is a choice between products similar in most essential respects. Both corporations prosper and their vast walls of spending make it mighty hard for any new competitors to enter against them. That is pretty much what American politics is reduced to.

And this way of operating applies not only to political campaigns in America but to matters like major foreign policy. Take the example of the bizarre relationship America has with Israel, a country with a population the size of Ecuador’s. It is a relationship which causes great amounts of war and trouble in the world and truly works against the long-term interests of ordinary Americans, to say nothing of its spurning of all ethical principles.

The relationship is based on the same money-drenched methods which govern American politics. Israel, despite its insignificant size and greatly troubling behavior, is able to stay right at the forefront of things, to be on every politician’s lips, to be constantly mentioned (favorably) in the press, and to heavily influence American foreign policy through exactly the same mechanisms.

Some of its demands today are even going beyond foreign policy and into the internal affairs of the United States, as with the constant advocacy for laws making support for peaceful boycotts to influence Israel’s awful behavior illegal or the advocacy for laws in every state equating criticism of a powerful state actor like Israel with hate-speech. Just nasty, self-serving nonsense, but it goes on day after day with little attention paid.

Well, Washington’s establishment today just goes on and on about supposed Russian influence in America. It is unproved stuff serving powerful imperial establishment interests, but, even were there some bit of truth in the accusations, the underlying reality of Russian influence in America is a bad joke. Russia cannot even get a good word in the press and is treated unfairly in countless serious matters.

When I saw the silly Facebook stuff, about so many insignificant ads having been bought during the election by a few people in Russia, offered as evidence of influence, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Out of countless billions of dollars in advertising and advocacy on Facebook, the claim represented national concern about someone spitting into an ocean.

But here is Israel and its domestic advocates waging a vast and ongoing campaign to influence a great many matters inside America – from freedom of speech and peaceful protest action to foreign affairs and every national political campaign held – and we hear no complaints or concerns at all. And Israel’s influence in foreign affairs has been deadly, tumbling America into pointless wars time and again.

And it is doing so again, right now. Only recently, we have a recording leaked in Israel of Netanyahu bragging about how he is personally responsible for Trump’s destroying the Iran Nuclear Accord, an act opposed by every expert and most countries on earth, and an act causing dangerous tensions and threats of instability and hostilities.

Israel doesn’t have to worry because it is protected. But what about everyone else? The results of deliberately destroying a peaceful, smoothly-working international accord could be truly catastrophic.

A small country is able to leverage the United States in this unacceptable and dangerous way, against the wishes of almost every statesman and expert in the world, precisely because of the way America runs its national politics. Trump is looking to assure the success of his 2020 campaign, and everyone else on the planet is taxed with fear and threats so that he can feel secure politically. I think nothing better demonstrates the insanity of America’s laws about money in politics.

But we keep getting the silly distraction of what a threat to American democracy Russia is, simply an idiotic and unsupported idea. Meanwhile, Israel’s direct meddling in American politics threatens to bring an economic and military calamity down on our heads, and you will not find a word of criticism from politicians or the press.

Israel’s lobby in the United States is one of the best organized, best financed, and feared in existence. If you go along with it, you benefit with campaign money and good press and perhaps assistance from various experts and professionals. If you oppose it, those same resources will be applied to working against you and making you look bad in one way or another. It undoubtedly has information systems for tracking all political activities and attitudes that would be the envy of many large corporations.

It is easy to see that if the rules governing lobbies and campaign donations were changed, this would all come screeching to a halt. American policy in the Mideast could reflect fairness and decency and even most of America’s long-term interests. Wars and threats and terrible things like millions of desperate refugees created by those same wars would disappear.

But you will not see it changing any time soon in a country whose hideous Supreme Court – each member appointed by politicians benefiting from things just as they are – has ruled that money is “free speech,” just as it once ruled in favor of the rules governing slavery. No one with power in Washington wants change, just as the various estates (the great lords and churchmen) of the Ancien Régime in 18th century France wanted no change affecting their personal situations and privileges. And their unblinking selfishness ultimately brought catastrophe to France.

The model for Israel’s influence in American politics is the model for the general operation of the American government. The same elements are at work in every important matter. And that’s why there is continuous war, massive security and spying systems, gigantic corporations with no limits on their size and influence, and no attention paid to the pitiful rot and poverty so easy to find in a thousand places in America.

Men like Assange – and there are few of them, just as there are always relatively few brave and intelligent people who work to change what is wrong in the world (after all, gifted people can make a whole lot more money by going with the flow of things and working for a corporation) – become effectively “the enemies of the people” under the system. His work shed light on the rot and served as real investigative reporting, while the corporate press just functions as part of the system, defending it, avoiding investigating it, and almost never publishing anything adverse about it.

The corrupt nature of America’s national politics is nicely symbolized by Obama, a man so often regarded (wrongly) as liberal and principled. He came to politics as a second-rate lecturer in constitutional law, the kind of work that earns a moderate middle-class income and maybe a pension. Yet, he just left the presidency as a man worth literally tens of millions of dollars. His new home alone cost more than eight million dollars.

Doing the establishment’s work – which in Obama’s case involved killing hundreds of thousands of people abroad and supporting massive new intrusions into the privacy of Americans – is very rewarding. And that is pretty well the story of every major American politician.

Posted July 22, 2018 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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John Chuckman



Bob Woodward is not speaking for the larger interests.

He never has. He demonstrated that during the horrible Bush administration when he slithered around on his belly, flattering and giving favorable publicity to George Bush, the most incompetent and destructive president in memory.

America’s recent Supreme Court has been a disaster.

Money is free speech? That’s what it ruled, and the results are disastrous.

That view does not earn you freedom, it earns you slavery.

Slavery to a plutocracy.

That is what America has become.

Woodward also always subtly represented the interests of the Israel Lobby. They like things the way they are with America being aggressive across the globe keeping Israel afloat.

And that view shares many aspects with the views of America’s super-rich crowd.

It is ordinary Americans and others who suffer from the current set-up.

Scalia was a basic building block in creating the mess we have. His views were narrow and often uninformed, and over time he said some just plain dumb things.

His views and words on gays and gay marriage were intolerant and disgraceful, just serving to highlight his backwardness and lack of leadership.

The trouble with a lot of what is carelessly labeled as conservatism in America is that it actually supports fascism and the plutocratic crowd. I think many do not appreciate this, but it is painfully true. There is a natural border between these two, but it is easily violated and in today’s America virtually does not exist.

A number of Americans are convinced that Scalia’s views on guns were vital, but the net effect of his views is part of the explanation for the hopeless situation in America today.

Just think of America’s horrible, aggressive, poorly-trained, and murderous police who cause many Americans literally to live in fear. They killed more than a thousand of their own people last year, as they do every year, a performance putting any so-called terrorists to shame.

Scalia supporters may not see a connection, but there very much is one. The police always have the excuse that they thought the person was armed, and it is an excuse which continues to work perfectly because a huge number of Americans are armed.

The plutocrats love things the way they are: murderous police keep the mob in order. Most of these people or corporations live in what are effectively gated communities, and they have very little interaction with the mess “out there.” They just want to see it quiet where they live.

And here it is no accident that large numbers of American police now receive training in Israel, Israel being a place in which a privileged group also wants to live in quiet and security and a place where almost half the population are terrorized by police and army. Israel itself is becoming one giant gated community, and ordinary Israelis themselves do not have a great life. Israel’s equivalent of America’s plutocracy – some being Americans with dual citizenship – is the group making the rules. Thus there is a natural fit with present-day America in many aspects of life.

Scalia was not about freedom. He was about its opposite, slavery.

He reminded me of Thomas Jefferson in his thinking.

No, Jefferson was a thousand times more eloquent, but his seemingly freedom-loving words were not about freedom. Most people who quote them have no idea about the kind of man they are quoting. He actually used words as a kind of self-written legacy, a vast advertising campaign which was about sympathetic-sounding things the real Jefferson was not about.

Jefferson was quite backward in many things. While superficially interested in science, he had some remarkably unscientific views, like the healing properties of soaking his feet in cold water each morning or his interpretation of some fossils found in Virginia which was quite silly.

He was a strong, life-long supporter of slavery. Even when he was President he opposed the rebellion of slaves in Haiti and supported Napoleon’s efforts to crush them. After the French failed, he made sure to have nothing to do with Haiti. His dreamy thoughts about freedom died instantly anytime black slaves were involved.

Jefferson absolutely believed in black inferiority, and we have his own embarrassing words on the subject. This despite his long sexual relationship with a mulatto slave, Sally Hemmings, said to have been fathered by Jefferson’s dead wife’s father. That relationship started when Sally was thirteen. Today we would say Jefferson was a pedophile, and that’s hardly about freedom. He fathered children by Sally – we have the sworn testimony of her adult son on this, no matter what some of Jefferson’s Caucasian descendants claim in order to protect his legacy – and Jefferson did little to improve their lot.

Jefferson rather bizarrely hated industry and wanted only a nation of stout yeomen farmers, something, which if you analyze it, greatly resembles the views of someone like Pol Pot. His vision of stout yeoman farmers of course is completely oblivious to the industrial revolution and the new prosperity coming to some societies.

Jefferson, despite his wealth and over 200 slaves, was never able to support himself. He died a bankrupt. His love of things like fashions and luxury imports was such he was regularly borrowing from friends, some of whom he cheated, never paying them back. He was not a man of his word.

When Jefferson, as President, decided that America must boycott Britain, he was ruthless against American businesses suffering from the policy. His program put many of them under, and he used substantial force to go after any who were not complying. None of this corresponds to today’s fantasy ideas, or Jefferson’s own words, about freedom.

Jefferson as Governor, at the drop of a hat, was ready to have Virginia secede from the Union. He anticipated the entire Confederacy, and that is not an idea of freedom in keeping with a wholesome, democratic society. It’s a version of – what some American plutocrats do today – taking your marbles and running.

Jefferson opposed the Supreme Court even having the very powers which men like Scalia later exercised. He wanted no interpretation of the Constitution. He wanted it to have no force at all in the individual states. His vision much resembled anarchy. He was extremely provincial and ruthless about states’ interests when a Governor, views which were bent completely around when he had other needs as President. Consistency was not a Jefferson strong point.

Jefferson’s words about free expression were extremely hypocritical. When he was Secretary of State under Washington, he secretly hired some nasty scribblers to attack the President and his policies, always pretending he knew nothing about the source of the libels.

Despite Jefferson’s many pretentious words about bloodshed and regular revolutions, he proved in the Revolutionary War a complete coward. He rode so hard away, never stopping for a long time, from some approaching British – a quite small force under the dashing Banastre Tarleton – that there were jokes and laughter about it long afterward by colonists as well as by the British.

When Jefferson was first considered as the colonies’ ambassador in Europe, he wouldn’t go. He was afraid to sail and perhaps be captured by British ships. That didn’t stop old Ben Franklin, who went instead and served well.

Jefferson’s overall impact on the shape of today’s America is extremely negative, despite all the fine words. Ironically, for American conservatives, what I’ll call the Jefferson Myth, was revived by Franklin Roosevelt’s government when they built the memorial in Washington. They were laying false claim to aspects of his legacy for political purposes.

And just so, the acts of many American so-called conservatives like Scalia which ultimately are destructive and divisive and anti-freedom in nature, just as Jefferson was once ready to divide the young country or violently suppress those who disagreed with his presidential policies.

It is all an extremely confused and confusing legacy, and a dangerous one.

America’s armed forces and secret security apparatus today are killing people in at least half a dozen places. America supports torture and illegal imprisonment and suppression in many parts of the world, from Israel to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. America’s police, in many parts of the country, literally terrorize their own citizens. America’s secret security forces spy on everyone in the false name of protection from terror. And, all the while, we hear slogans – completely empty slogans about freedom and democracy. And the great plutocrats that Scalia represented think nothing of moving an entire company abroad, destroying jobs and communities, while enhancing their own wealth.

People who truly love and understand the meaning of a good and decent society cannot shed any tears for the passing of Judge Scalia. His legacy, like Jefferson’s, is simply poisonous.