Monday, October 16, 2017
John Chuckman is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company. He has many interests and is a lifelong student of history. He writes with a passionate desire for honesty, the rule of reason, and concern for human decency. John regards it as a badge of honor to have left the United States as a poor young man from the South Side of Chicago when the country embarked on the pointless murder of something like 3 million Vietnamese in their own land because they embraced the wrong economic loyalties. He lives in Canada, which he is fond of calling “the peaceable kingdom.”
John’s writing appears regularly on many Internet sites. He has been translated into at least ten languages and has been regularly translated into Italian and Spanish. Several of his essays have been published in book collections, including two college texts. He has published a book, The Decline of the American Empire and the Rise of China as a Global Power, published by Constable and Robinson, London. John also writes book reviews.
Apart from his writing since retiring from the oil industry, John has taught university courses in economics, done a good deal of private tutoring, served as a professional newspaper restaurant reviewer (he likes cooking), followed his favorite hobby of photography, and created a popular family of image blogs on the Internet.
John may be reached directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
SOME INTERNET SITES FROM JOHN CHUCKMAN:
CHUCKMAN'S PORT STANLEY
CHUCKMAN'S ILES DE LA MADELEINE (MAGDALEN ISLANDS)
CHUCKMAN'S PORT STANLEY
CHUCKMAN'S ILES DE LA MADELEINE (MAGDALEN ISLANDS)
CHUCKMAN PHOTOS ON WORDPRESS: CHICAGO NOSTALGIA AND MEMORABLIA (SELECTED POSTCARDS AND RESTAURANT ITEMS)
CHUCKMAN’S PLACES ON WORDPRESS
CHUCKMAN’S PHOTOS ON WORDPRESS: TORONTO NOSTALGIA AND MEMORABLIA
CHUCKMAN' S NON-SPORTS TRADING CARDS OF THE 1950s VOL.1/4
CHUCKMAN’S GALLERY OF GROTESQUES
CHUCKMAN’S CARTOON COMMENTS
CHUCKMAN'S MISCELLANEA OF WORDS
CHUCKMAN'S COMMENTS FROM THE WORLD PRESS
CHUCKMAN'S POLITICAL ESSAYS
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: AMERICAN RUSSIAN EXPERT STEPHEN COHEN ON WHY COLD WAR 2.0 IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN THE ORIGINAL - WHAT I THINK HAS HAPPENED SINCE JOHN KENNEDY'S MURDER TO ENABLE THIS DANGEROUS INSANITY TO HAPPEN
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY STEPHEN COHEN IN RUSSIA INSIDER
Cold War 2.0 More Dangerous Than Original - Stephen Cohen Podcast
Today’s American-Russian confrontation is developing in unprecedented ways—and the US political-media establishment seems not to care
Stephen Cohen, as always, brings a well-informed and very focused intelligence to his subject.
He is so very right in these points, and the dangers they collectively represent should deeply concern us all.
I do think there's more than a suggestion of America's unelected government at work here. It ain’t just politicians.
That, too, should deeply concern us all.
The CIA and its ally, the Pentagon, before Kennedy's assassination played all kinds of dirty little tricks to defeat American-Russian rapprochement.
After all, the CIA, using pilot Gary Powers and the then-secret U-2 spy plane, sabotaged Eisenhower’s 1960 Soviet summit and effort to establish better American-Soviet relations. Such CIA efforts are always done in a fashion so that they can plausibly be interpreted in another fashion, as with the U-2 being an effort to provide the President the very latest intelligence for his talks.
In Kennedy’s case, they failed, but the very fact that they even tried, actually going against some direct orders from the President was chilling to those who understood.
Today, both these agencies are immensely more powerful than they were in the early 1960s. They are larger, better funded, and even less accountable than they were. And, the political atmosphere in which they operate is truly poisonous with American politicians seemingly blind to the dangerous consequences of their careless words, as those of Hillary Clinton since her election defeat.
Importantly, America has no strong figure like John Kennedy to stand in the way of these powerful agencies. Trump has proven himself all bluster and ranting, someone who was actually cowered by such frivolous provocations as the infamous Russia dossier, not a serious opponent.
Trump comes after eight years of Obama, who despite his boyish smile and seeming liberality, gave the CIA and the Pentagon everything they wanted. Eight years of bombing, terror, and coups. The eight years of Cheney-Rumsfeld – the pathetic Bush being only a timid and not-very-intelligent figurehead – also gave the CIA and Pentagon everything they wanted.
So, there’s been a very long period of time during which these agencies have increased their capacities, freedom-of-operation, and sheer arrogance. At the same time, and perhaps it is not merely a coincidence, the political atmosphere in America has degenerated badly.
Instead of a Kennedy, today there is a blustery, now seen-as-cowardly, Trump, who actually told the CIA that it knows best whom to kill in America’s extrajudicial killing program by drone. Obama at least went through the pretense of signing off on “kill orders” put on his desk.
Trump also pretty well gave the Pentagon a free hand in Afghanistan, a pointless war that has accomplished nothing for 15 years.
And, despite confidential understandings with Russia, clearly elements of CIA and/or the Pentagon are actively at work in Syria carrying out serious provocations.
We have the story in today’s Russia Insider of a CIA plan, which failed, to assassinate Greek Premier Karamanlis in 2008.
A dramatic recent book has revealed the CIA as the source for the assassination of several Western leaders, including Swedish Premier Olof Palme, a kind of assassination at an entirely different level than the ones we have long known the psychopaths at the CIA are engaged in. This goes far beyond just interfering in countries’ elections, something again the CIA has always done.
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THOSE WHOM THE GODS WOULD DESTROY THEY FIRST MAKE MAD - AMERICA'S NFL FOOTBALL-KNEELING LUNACY AND ITS RUSSIAN DEMON-POSSESSION CRAZE
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT
If the NFL wants to recover from the anthem protests, it needs to start showing some leadership
The league needs to find a way to let players air their concerns without alienating a large portion of their viewers
Drop the stupid anthem at sports events where it has no business.
Playing it at the start of a paid entertainment has always, always been inappropriate.
And many British people may not know this, but back a decade or so ago, the NFL players stayed inside for the anthem, only appearing on the field when it was over.
The only reason they have appeared on the field during the anthem since is because the American military started paying the NFL to have the players stand there.
Why would it do that? To excite young men to join up when they see their sports heroes standing there.
So, who is it that really has been disrespectful to America's symbols? The guys manipulating them to get recruits, the American military in need of young bodies to send off to America's pointless colonial wars.
Of course, at a "deeper" level, one perhaps not appreciated by Trump or his trailer-park devotees, the very essence of being American is supposed to have something to do with rights and freedoms, including the right to protest injustice.
Only a couple of days ago, a police officer in Salt Lake City was released without blame after he shot a young black man in the back and killed him. The young man was running away, and a camera caught the entire sequence.
Some who saw the video say the officer literally executed the young man. Protests were immediate.
That's what the players are kneeling about. In my sense of values, their protest is entirely fitting, and an even more demonstrative one would be.
Ironically, the players protesting have been almost overly respectful by going down on their knees, a gesture understood by most as respectful. It is only a protest because the gesture is different than the expected one.
Just think of what Trump and his pick-up truck crowd would be saying if these players instead were doing what some black American athletes did at the Mexico City Olympics of 1968. They raised their arms high in the black power salute while the anthem played.
This controversy has been ridiculous almost beyond telling. With all the terrible problems in America, from violent police to terrible ghettoes, and with all the wars and terror in the world, much of it deliberately created by America, here is the President and other major figures and commentators fiercely engaged over how football players pose during a piece of music.
The utter stupidity is comparable only with the Russo-phobia which has totally gripped the country for many months, a phenomenon comparable in every way with some primitive wave of fear over demon-possession. Yet this nonsense has engaged virtually all the country’s highest figures and its major security institutions and news organizations.
“Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE KIND OF ADULATION HILLARY CAN STILL INSPIRE FROM SOME WOMEN IS SAD GIVEN JUST A PORTION OF HER ACTUAL RECORD OF BEHAVIOR
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY SIRENA BERGMAN IN THE INDEPENDENT
“Last night, I saw Hillary Clinton – every young woman I told was excited and every middle-aged man asked why I'd bother
“There’s no one who saw her speak last night who could not have left knowing that, for all her faults, she deserved that presidency and it was stolen from her. Now it’s our job to claim that power back”
This piece by Sirena Bergman has to be one of the most intellectually-flimsy you've ever published.
"...presidency and it was stolen from her"?
Stolen? You mean the way Hillary stole her nomination from Bernie Sanders, something we know to a certainty?
How was her election stolen?
By the United States' Constitution with its antiquated, anti-democratic provision of the Electoral College?
That's ridiculous. That antiquated provision has been part of the rules from the beginning.
Hillary knows all about it. She complained, as she is wont to about so many things, about it after George Bush was elected as a minority president in 2000, his minority election only being the latest of a number in American history.
Yes, she complained, as always, but did she do anything about it? Did she aggressively pursue an amendment to the Constitution, something for which she could have been praised for even if she failed?
No, just as she rarely has done anything about anything. Her 8-year record as a U.S. Senator is devoid of a single significant piece of legislation she championed.
"...every young woman I told was excited..."
But what can we make of that, if it is accurate?
Hillary Clinton’s major financial supporters include accused rapist and serial assaulter of women, Harvey Weinstein, and Clinton took the best part of a week even to respond to the horrors being revealed about Weinstein, horrors it is said by many were an open secret in Hollywood, and Hillary has not even returned his money.
Another important supporter is Bill Clinton's convicted-pedophile friend, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, a man who lives on an island and procures underage girls for the pleasure of visitors like Bill. Jeffrey was in large part responsible for creating the Clinton Foundation, a shameful scheme of self-enrichment.
Another of her important sponsors is George Soros, an eccentric, manipulative billionaire whose early background in his homeland of Hungary includes work for the Nazis. Today, this sick old man funds many dangerous and questionable groups, such as BLM and Antifa. He is also notorious for assisting CIA operations in coups and interference operations in European governments.
There's more dark stuff, too, in the background of this woman who has rarely told the truth in her entire adult life.
Well, if young women indeed feel as this writer claims they do, all I can do is say how very sad it is. Hillary Clinton is not worthy of admiration, and she is certainly not worthy of high office.
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: OLIGARCHS OR PLUTOCRATS AND WESTERN DEMOCRACY - THE SAD STATE OF OUR "DEMOCRACIES"
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN
"How the oligarchy wins..."
"... two recent books can teach us about defending democracy from oligarchs'
I'm sorry, but this is just not possible, at least not without something close to a revolution.
In every Western country we like to call a democracy, the truth is that they have only an elaborate stage set of democracy.
I prefer the term "plutocrat" to "oligarch," but whatever word you choose to use, the facts of society are the same.
Power, no matter how it is granted, is power.
And money is power, serious power.
We can see this in a thousand aspects of our societies from the long-term success of someone like Harvey Weinstein in business to the many powerful lobbies which determine the direction of national policy.
In the United States, the last national election was between a multi-billionaire and the best financed candidate in history, a woman who burnt through somewhere between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion to lose.
It has been studied, and the fact is that members of the American Senate spend about two-thirds of their time raising money.
The American House of Representatives actually has call rooms were Representatives spend time every week raising money.
And when I say “raising money” I don’t mean the contributions which come from the likes of you or me. I mean big money from big sources of money, the only ones who really count.
Look at a phenomenon like Macron in France. He came from nowhere and seems to have very limited talents, yet the plutocratic interests who backed him managed to grab the French Presidency.
Former French President Sarkozy, a man who proved mostly ineffective, took huge sums from General Gaddafi to the richest woman in France, a woman rumored to not have been even fully competent at the time.
Not only are the contributors of big money - both individuals and lobby groups - at the center of Western politics, but our very institutions are constructed to accommodate leadership which does not reflect the views of a majority. This is done in many structural ways from district gerrymandering to the nature of the “first past the post” ballots we use.
Look at Britain's most utterly incompetent modern politician, David Cameron, the man who single-handedly created the entire Brexit mess plus engaged in a terrible lot of dishonest and brutal behavior in the Middle East. He was never popular and ruled with something over 35% of the vote. Britain’s institutions accommodated that.
In Canada, Stephen Harper, the man most Canadians likely regard as the shabbiest ever to rule the country, managed to do terrible things with about 39% of the vote.
And everywhere, people don't vote for war, interests do, rich interests, and they get what they want.
Response to another comment saying oligarchs may be better than democracy sometimes:
Yes, but the fundamental issue has always been, how do you choose the oligarch and how do you get rid of one who is clearly badly failing or abusing power?
Democracy is a compromise, but it is one that virtually no one argues against. At least leaders are obliged to leave periodically.
Churchill had it right when called democracy the worst form of government except for all the others.
Oligarchy clearly serves some developing countries well, always assuming the oligarchs are people dedicated to doing their best for the country as a whole. And they do do that sometimes.
Yet, we have supported nonsense like killing a Gadhafi, who gave his people good government and peace, and pitching Libya into chaos.
All in the name of democracy from our dishonest "democratic" politicians.
Look at Israel, always slapping itself on the back as the Mideast's "only democracy," while it consorts happily with kings and tyrants in its neighborhood and continues to hold millions of people in occupation against their will.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: DOES ISRAEL WANT PEACE? - I THINK THE ANSWER HAS BEEN IN FOR A LONG TIME - PALESTINIANS CAN VOTE? - ISRAEL HAS PEACEFUL RELATIONS WITH ALL NEIGHBORS EXCEPT PALESTINIANS?
EXPANSION OF COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY ROBERT FISK IN THE INDEPENDENT
We will soon find out what 'unity' really means for the Palestinians
Following the deal between Fatah and Hamas, the real question is: does Israel want peace with its neighbour?
"the real question is: does Israel want peace with its neighbour?"
Yes, but that question is becoming very old, and when a question goes unanswered decade after decade after decade, I think it reasonable to conclude that the answer is "no."
Israel's starting attitudes were those of early Zionist Jabotinsky, display an iron wall towards the natives of Palestine.
And it has only gone from bad to worse.
The 1967 War was a deliberately planned war of conquest, a war aimed at realizing the dream of Greater Israel.
There was even some still-unknown American complicity in that war by President Lyndon Johnson, judged from Johnson’s strange reaction, during the war, to Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty, an American spy ship. After all, this was the man who gave us the Gulf of Tonkin Incident to start the modern holocaust of the Vietnam War. This was also the man whose rise to power involved documented vote fraud. Secrecy and underhandedness were stock in trade with Johnson.
Complicity of some kind seems the only way to explain the anger-prone and violent Texan’s silent and accepting reaction to Israel’s deliberate (the ship was well-marked and Israel’s lead pilot recognized it as American, checking home by radio about how he should proceed), long (more than an hour), and extremely violent (planes and boats delivering torpedoes, bombs, rockets, and napalm plus heavy cannon fire) attack on the Liberty. Every effort was made to sink that ship with its entire crew. The ship proved tougher than expected, but, as it was, 34 of the crew died.
Were it not the case that the 1967 War was a deliberate war of conquest, there would be no reason why Israel still occupies millions of people after half a century.
The winning general of 1967, Moshe Dayan, is on record as saying if the Palestinians were made miserable enough, they would leave.
It is hard to see Israel's subsequent acts in any other light. The giant concentration camp of Gaza. The massive walls with gun towers, all built on another people's land. The regular open theft of other people's property with “settlements” in the West Bank. The new level of brutality and theft going on in East Jerusalem.
Yes, Israel wants a kind of peace, the peace of enjoying other people's property without the people.
You know, defenders of Israel often say how different Israel behaves than other regimes which either exterminate unwanted populations or brutally ethnically-cleanse them.
But my response is that I simply do not see a great distinction. More than half a century of holding millions of innocent people in a kind of living death with no rights and no prospects supports no claim to humane and decent behavior.
In the case of Gaza, the million and half or so are held in almost inconceivable brutality. Automated gun towers. Patrol boats shooting fishermen. Poisonous herbicides sprayed on large swathes of land. Human waste water dumped on land in some areas. Deprivation of electricity. Refusal to provide adequate medical assistance. A blockade which prevents the supplies to rebuild what Israel destroyed. And now a metal underground wall to prevent tunnels from delivering vital supplies from Sinai. All, to say nothing of having bombed and shot about 4,000 people, 1,000 of whom were children.
Peace for Israel is just a word.
Response to another comment about Palestinians being able to vote in their own elections:
Yours are manipulative words.
Palestinians can vote, yes, in a place which is not allowed any kind of real authority, a place with no rights of any kind, a place without even physical access to other places, and a place where even basic property rights are violated regularly by an occupying force.
It is the vote, effectively, of prisoners, under the watch of armed guards, for various small day-in, day-out arrangements in their maximum-security prison.
That is not an exaggeration, not in the least.
Oh, and if they just happen to vote for the wrong choice, they are treated as the people of Gaza have been treated.
Still further, selected leaders, for whom the people might well have voted, are simply assassinated by Israel, with a long series of assassinations going back for decades.
We've actually seen this done by an Israeli gang with stolen or forged passports and poisonous injections, behavior impossible to distinguish from that of North Korea. Several Western countries in the past, including Canada and Australia, actually had to ask Israel to stop using their passports for such killings. Dozens more Palestinian leaders have been killed by missiles launched from planes or drones, blown apart in their own homes, along with families or friends.
Arafat, Palestine’s most revered leader despite his nepotism and favoritism, in his last days was made a close prisoner by Israel with tanks sticking their gun barrels through his walls. He wasn’t even permitted to go to the Christmas religious services he always attended. Later, he was assassinated with radioactive poison.
That's some idea of the right to vote.
Response to another comment declaring Israel has peaceful relations with all of its neighbors except the Palestinians:
Yes, Israel has "peaceful relations"… with tyrants and kings.
The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, etc. - all are tyrants or kings.
When any other kind of government shows up in the neighborhood, Israel is ready to attack it, either overtly or covertly.
Egypt's first and only democratic president, Morsi, was eliminated by an engineered coup. Yes, there was some popular discontent in Egypt, but in what state isn't there, including very much the US and Israel? Coups are not the typical result of popular discontent, particularly where the United States is deeply involved as Israel’s protector and may easily warn off coup forces, instead of encouraging them.
The Egyptians are stuck with still another tyrant-for-life, but, my, we can be grateful because Israel gets along with him just fine.
You see, Israel, by its very nature, as something imposed by force upon others, has almost no tolerance for democracy, not in any of its neighbors and not among the Palestinians it has displaced.
There's a reason Israel is the Middle East's only "democracy," and the reason is that Israel likes dealing with tyrants who keep the natives, as it were, in line, and it very much makes its desires felt everywhere around it.
And, of course, the United States is there, with all its vast military and security resources, to assist in keeping the neighborhood the way Israel likes it. The kings and tyrants who get along with Israel are put under its protection and enjoy favorable treatment. Any leader, whether elected or not, who does not get along with Israel is overthrown – just what we’ve seen done horribly in Iraq and Libya and attempted at immense cost of life in Syria.
Even in the West Bank, the pathetic "president" Israel supports, Abbas, hasn't faced an election in years. He is only supported – “tolerated” would be a better word since he is permitted almost no authority or initiative - because he’s the kind of accommodating, unchallenging personality with which Israel likes to deal. He’s a stage prop Israel can roll out, every once in a while, for the appearance of talks.
As far as Israel itself, what kind of democracy has only one kind of people allowed to become citizens and vote? Or has established many theocratic rules reflecting just one religious group?
Yes, there are a fair number of non-Jewish, Palestinian Israeli citizens, but they were an accidental result of the 1948 conflict and waves of terror. They were trapped in a location, much as the large group huddled into Gaza was, and, short of going into the extermination business, there was nothing just-created Israel could do about them. But they sure are not made to feel welcome or equal, being often to this day harassed or threatened and not receiving the same full measure of citizenship as Jewish Israelis.
But compared to the millions of Palestinians held against their will in the occupied territories since the 1967 War, the Palestinian Israelis created by accident in 1948, remain a relatively small group.
I think it fair to say the last time we saw similar arrangements in a state styling itself a democracy was in Nationalist South Africa. And the time before that was in the American Confederacy.
And remember, even if Israel really were a democracy in the sense most people understand the term, it still is not organized to protect its minorities. A permanent majority of any one group or interest or religion anywhere puts the rights and freedoms of all others, not part of the majority group, in constant jeopardy.
Power granted by a majority vote may be just as abusive or unfair as the power of a dictatorship. Power is power, however granted, and those not sharing in it must be protected against those wielding it.
That’s the whole reason for having a Bill or Charter of Rights, to protect minorities from belligerent majorities. And Israel has no Bill of Rights, nor can it ever have one, given the very nature of its society.
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: AN OTHERWISE INTERESTING INCIDENT GIVEN A BIZARRE TWIST BY AMERICA'S INSANE ATMOSPHERE OF RUSSOPHOBIA - THE RETURN OF BLACK HELICOPTERS
COMMENT POSTED TO A VIDEO/ARTICLE IN INTELLHUB
A truck driver and his ride-along filmed and commentated as they drove alongside a massive covert convoy of 18-wheelers which were boasting full-on police escorts
Massive convoy of ‘unmarked big rigs’ escorted by police, driver ‘looked Russian’
The convoy story is interesting.
Of course, the American military does this kind of thing with some regularity, transshipping nuclear weapons or other important military equipment. Seeing it underway is of course fascinating and intriguing.
But what is amazing in this little story is the driver/photographer's quoted statement about the driver of one of the convoy trucks "looking Russian."
Amazing not for what the words say on the surface. They are nonsense, of course.
But amazing because they provide a very good measure of the effect of all the insanity about Russia that has poured like a roaring cataract from America's politicians and press for months.
The night-and-day insanity has literally planted suggestions in this man's mind, like some powerful advertising or propaganda campaign.
I doubt the man would even know what a Russian looked like. Indeed, there are many types of people in such a vast country as Russia.
And, of course, Eastern Europe was a big source of legal immigration to the United States in the early Twentieth Century. Literally millions of American descendants have that heritage.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: WHAT'S A "CARNIVAL AGAINST HATRED"? - CONFUSION IN BRITAIN OVER TRUMP AND AMERICA - HE'S BAD BUT NO MORE THAN THE REST OF UGLY WASHINGTON
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY OWEN JONES IN THE GUARDIAN
Britain will greet Trump [on his upcoming visit] with our biggest ever carnival against hatred
"biggest ever carnival against hatred'?
That's a rather bizarre turn of phrase.
But in addition, what I see in Trump is not so much hatred as ignorance and arrogance, the same qualities which you will find in almost every leading American political figure.
Pelosi? Hillary? McCain? Lieberman? Gingrich? Schumer?
Trump alone cannot make the things happening in America happen, except for all the bellowing noise he is good at generating.
America is on a world-wide tear for dominance.
It is frightening almost like nothing in my lifetime.
To call it dangerous is an understatement.
But to put all the responsibility on Trump, big mouth that he is, is foolish in the extreme.
A bit like saying if you just get rid of the big bad wolf, everything will just be fine again.
Well, no, it won't.
It was the boyishly-smiling Obama (assisted part of his term by Hillary) who was bombing someone every day of his eight years in office. He killed at least half a million and created millions of refugees.
Do you think the near-destabilization of Europe with refugees was an accomplishment? What about the brutal ending to a government in Libya which gave its people free education, improved infrastructure, clean water, and peace? Today, the results of Obama’s handiwork are blood-drenched chaos.
It was the same boyishly-smiling man (assisted greatly by Joe Biden) who instituted the hellish program of extralegal killings on a grand scale, putting to shame the amateur efforts of the old Argentine Junta. Imagine, a country claiming to support democratic and human rights and rule of law creating a huge killing machine?
It was the same boyishly-smiling Obama who instituted a coup in Ukraine against an elected government just to annoy and threaten Russia.
Again, it was the same boyishly-smiling Obama who used Russia's measured and reasonable response to the coup to run NATO tanks and planes right up against Russia's borders. Are we more secure now, or less?
And, it was that same boyishly-smiling charmer who talked about "a pivot to Asia", a phrase which meant the beginning of the same kind antagonism and hostility towards China as Russia.
No, I don’t like Trump. He is an embarrassment and a failure. But as eight years of Obama showed, with eight years of Bush before that, America has no leadership worthy of the title. It is an imperial monstrosity which wears a smile while it destroys and demands its way in everything.
Trump is just the latest message-carrier from the beast, one who happens to speak in ridiculous and less-than-rational terms (much like Bush, actually), but if you think you change anything with “a carnival against hatred” you delude only yourself.
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: MICHAEL MOORE IS ACTUALLY RIGHT ABOUT SOMETHING - THE 2ND AMENDMENT IS "ANCIENT AND OUTDATED" - HERE'S WHY - AND AMERICA'S "GUN NUTS" ACTUALLY SUPPORT WHAT THEY THINK THEY OPPOSE
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN INVESTMENTWATCH
Michael Moore calls for repeal of “ancient” and “outdated” Second Amendment
Well, there's not much that Michael Moore says with which I can agree. He's often a big fool.
But here he is completely correct.
And few Trumpites seem even to understand why.
In the 18th century, standing armies were regarded as a costly excess.
That's why well-regulated militias existed. That's also why mercenaries like the Hessians were available for hire to states like Britain as needed.
And that is what the Second Amendment is about. Nothing else. It has nothing to do with the possible tyranny of your own government. That’s a modern fable.
In any event, it should be apparent that all national arrangements have reversed over the last couple of centuries. Modern nations have completely changed the way things are organized compared to the 18th century.
Large standing armies are everywhere, and that of the US is a Frankenstein, and America's organized military includes a monstrous National Guard and reserves.
There is no such thing as the 18th century concept of a militia anymore. It is completely irrelevant.
And this complete change over time makes the argument about "fighting tyranny" all the more ridiculous.
It truly is Monty Pythonesque to speak of opposing tyranny in the US with arms, a bit like saying a bunch of farmers with rifles and shotguns could have opposed the Third Reich, only in view of the nature of modern armies and weapons, it is even sillier than that.
The US has become an imperial monstrosity, and only fools even talk of challenging it internally.
The mouse that roared. A dangerous and rather demented mouse at that.
But, of course, the silly tyranny stuff is only an excuse for the gun-mad set.
The real drive of the gun-mad set is more closely related to America’s terrible racial history and its continued reverberations. And the highly aggressive, paranoid attitudes displayed are just what a massive military such as America’s encourages with its continuous intake of young men for killer-training and its endless march through imperial wars against non-existent “enemies.”
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: A NEW BOOK ON CIA MURDERS OF WESTERN LEADERS PLUS ANOTHER IMPORTANT BOOK LEAD TO MY REEVALUATION OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN SPUTNIK
Ex-Pentagon Advisor Reveals How CIA Killed Western Politicians During Cold War
German investigative journalist Patrik Baab and former Pentagon adviser Robert Harkavy have released a bombshell book, revealing the links between the murders of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, West German politician Uwe Barschel and former CIA director William Colby.
We all know the operations branch of the CIA has been in the murder business. Indeed, they very much are today with America’s industrial-scale, extralegal execution program abroad using drones and missiles, the hi-tech version of what the old Argentine Junta used to do, making thousands disappear.
However, it has never been clear that they went after important Western politicians before, and this new book quite changes our understanding. No wonder the Swedes could never solve Prime Minister Olof Palme’s murder.
Well, I've always attributed the death of John Kennedy to the CIA-trained and -armed Cuban refugees assisted perhaps by some of the lower-level CIA fanatics working with them in the field, but never to the CIA itself.
After this revelation, and having read a very important book about the Kennedy assassination, Peter Janney's “Mary's Mosaic,” I am coming around to the conviction that the CIA did indeed kill Kennedy.
The Janney book, as nothing previously, reveals what undoubtedly were strong motives for the kind of men who ran the CIA. I’ve read all the important books on the assassination, and I have never believed from the time of its publication that the Warren Report was anything but a cover-up.
But it is only with Janney’s book that we see real visceral stuff that might clearly affect the top at CIA to go over the top and kill their president. Yes, they already hated him for his Bay of Pigs reaction and for the way the Cuban Missile Crisis was settled, but how could the kind of self-righteous Cold Warriors running CIA not be affected by the President’s intimate relationship with Mary Pinchot Meyer?
A beautiful and intelligent and extremely well-connected woman of very liberal views who had herself been married to a high-level CIA man, Mary Meyer stood out from all of Kennedy’s other female relationships. He and she talked about important policy matters, and she was dedicated to world peace and, importantly as a motive for CIA, she introduced him to drugs. They smoked marijuana together in the White House, and she may also have introduced him to LSD.
Less than a year after Kennedy’s death, Ms. Meyer was herself killed by a professional assassin – I say “professional assassin” because of the classic pattern of a small pistol to the head and the calm walking away from the scene observed at a distance by a witness - and her diary was stolen. This came after she had built something of a head of steam about the CIA’s possible involvement in Kennedy’s death.
Of course, it should not surprise anyone if people, the kind of intelligent psychopaths favored in the operations branch, people with immense resources who are pretty close to unaccountable and are allowed and expected to play God with leaders of other countries, should one day have turned on their own leader.
Of course, one should also remember that whoever killed John Kennedy was certainly also responsible for later killing Robert. Robert was a ferocious opponent for anyone and had he obtained the powers of the presidency, he would have pursued his beloved brother's killers with a fury.
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: EUROPE'S DESPERATE NEED FOR LEADERSHIP - RIGHT NOW THE EU PRETTY MUCH ACTS AS AMERICA'S HOUSE SERVANT - BUT ITS POTENTIAL IN AN EMERGING WORLD TO COUNTERBALANCE IS GREAT
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JOE MCLEAN IN THE GUARDIAN
Trump's tough talk on Iran could end in a big, blame-evading dodge
Response to another reader who wrote: All you people complaining about Trump's America - either do something about it or shut up. The US throws its weight around in part because nobody in Europe or the wider Western world ever does much to stand up to it. Even in the run up to the disastrous Iraq War, only France had the cojones to say anything.
Indeed, but it’s Europe's leaders, not people commenting in a newspaper, that are the problem.
Europe hasn't had a single leader for years worthy of the title.
Cameron? May? Hollande? Macron? Etc.
And Ms. Merkel, who had a chance for greatness as Europe's leading figure and threw it away, basically eats America's crap daily.
She never said a word about the horrors of the Neocon Wars and their vast slaughter, and she hurt her own country by taking in too many refugees at once, those refugees being the direct result of America's slaughter in the Mideast.
And she always smiled with that mass killer Obama, the man who bombed people every day of his time in office. And she swallowed his immense arrogance.
And she further hurt her people keeping to the Obama nonsense about Russia. And she helped that fairly sick man, Erdogan, gain some real leverage on Europe.
In America, it isn't just Trump. It is the entire American ruling establishment. They are all on aggressive tear, all fearful of the coming relative decline of the country, all desperate to enforce the Pentagon's dictum of "full-spectrum dominance.'
All of them are the worst blood-drenched imperialists.
God, Europe with some good leadership could provide an important new force in the emerging world, instead of behaving as America's domestic servant.
Readers might enjoy these examples of Obama's immense but rarely noted arrogance:
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TURKEY AND SYRIA - BEWARE OF ANY EASY INTERPRETATION OF WHAT ERDOGAN IS DOING IN SYRIA - THIS IS AN UNSTABLE MAN
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER
Turkey to Liberate Western Syria and Itself
By moving into Idlib Turkey cements the future of the Russia/Iran/Turkey alliance
I don't think it is at all clear what Erdogan's intentions are.
This is a very erratic, high-strung man, and his past behaviors, including shooting down a Russian plane, should be a fair warning to anyone making easy predictions.
Erdogan resembles a Joker in a deck of cards. His relationship with the United States runs hot and cold, as does his relationship with Israel and Russia and Germany and the EU.
Monday, October 09, 2017
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: HARD TO IMAGINE A GROWN INTELLIGENT PERSON WHO REGARDS THE PRESS AS IMPARTIAL - AND FOR THE SIMPLE REASON IT IS NOT AND NEVER HAS BEEN
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY OWEN JONES IN THE GUARDIAN
"We can no longer pretend the British press is impartial"
Well, Mr. Owen Jones, I can't imagine who it is that you are addressing.
No well-read person, at least one with fully-operating critical faculties, has ever pretended that the press is impartial.
Bias and various kinds of favoritism and propaganda have been with us for as long as the press has existed.
Indeed, in the 18th century, early political parties started their own newspapers, or formed alliances with existing ones, precisely to get across their views of things.
One of the oldest tools of outfits like the old Nazi Party or the Soviet Communist Party was to create newspapers tailored to their propaganda needs.
The apparent level of bias or propaganda may heat up or cool down at various times, as with the Guardian’s on-again, off-again campaign over nonexistent anti-Semitism in Corbyn’s Labour Party, but it is as much an enduring reality as the sun's rising.
The record of “distinguished” newspapers like The New York Times or The Washington Post is literally riddled with advocacy, propaganda, and even disinformation. Actual CIA people were discovered more than once working for them.
An old CIA hand in the business of “getting stories out there” once told of sitting down to his “mighty Wurlitzer organ” and hitting the keys, by which he was referring to the various publications and columnists who cooperated.
Just why do you think all the old press Moghuls always wanted to own press empires?
It is for the power to influence others, to intimidate or accommodate governments, it is for the entree that influence gives in high places and the ability to gain treatment favorable to your interests or desires. The ability to make a politician look good or bad to millions of readers has proved a very powerful tool in getting what you want.
The press is not, and never has been, about genuine news and journalism, although of course some happens along the way almost by accident as it were.
It really is only in the advertising brochures for journalism schools that we find language which naively speaks of journalistic principles.
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: NAIVE AMERICAN BELIEFS ABOUT JUSTICE AND RULE OF LAW - BUT POWER IS POWER NO MATTER HOW OBTAINED AND IN AMERICA THAT POWER IS NOT WITH OR FROM "WE THE PEOPLE"
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN ZEROHEDGE
The U.S. Justice System Must Focus on Elite Criminality
It just cannot happen - not, that is, without some great and unpleasant circumstances or events.
In many ways, America has come to resemble France of the early 18th century, a time when a powerful duke's carriage might safely run down a peasant in its way, the dead human being regarded as "roadkill.”
America's dukes are not the owners of vast ancient estates, as in 18th century France, but the owners and managers of vast corporations with new ones added and old ones passing away as technological change and creative destruction proceed.
Today's Mr. Facebook, Mr. Google, and Mr. Amazon are replacing an older generation of wealth, although their levels of wealth are even far greater than the older plutocrats.
Why is that? America's tax laws have been butchered to make it so. Such wealth cannot be amassed without a very accommodating tax system.
And, please note, just as taxes are shaped to please wealth, just as imperial wars abroad are shaped to please wealth, and so is the administration of all justice.
It actually cannot be otherwise.
America has some superficial attributes of democracy, but it clearly is not one. It is a plutocracy.
Money has been declared as protected free speech, and American elections resemble nothing so much as a marketing battle between Coke and Pepsi. It took a multi-billionaire to defeat the best-financed candidate in history, who blew through something on the order of 1.2 to 1.8 billion dollars to lose.
In addition, we saw revealed massive fraud in many details by the Clinton Party sinking Bernie Sanders. Those efforts involved both bad intent and lots of money.
Power, no matter how it is gained, is still power.
It is a naive American idea that a stack of old papers - such as the Constitution and Bill of Rights - can genuinely protect anything if the powers that be do not want it so.
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: SILLY STORY ABOUT COMPARING VIKINGS AND NAZIS - WHAT ACTUALLY WERE THE BARBARIC VALUES HITLER HELD AS PART OF HIS FAITH? - WE SADLY STILL SEE ASPECTS OF THESE VALUES FROM AMERICA AND ISRAEL
CHUCKMAN COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT
Vikings were not Nazis, anti-racists tell Swedish white supremacist groups
'White nationalists don't get to reinvent what Viking culture is,' says campaigner
Who thinks he can speak for the Vikings?
This is ridiculous.
They were not a people who left detailed records.
As far as the Nazis, they represented a self-declared form of new primitivism and barbarism.
Hitler openly admired the barbarism of earlier times, at least as it is represented in myths and legends. He of course was a great admirer of Wagner's operas.
He regarded barbarism, at least as organized under the oversight of a man of destiny, as he very much saw himself, as a form of strength.
Of course, it was not quite a complete form of barbarism because so far as we understand early barbaric societies, they did not wear uniforms or march in organized fashion.
And the story of his rise to power, complete with its street fights and thuggery, would have tended to validate his beliefs.
Germany of the 1920s-early 1930s was chaotic with gangs of every description out on the streets fighting opponents. Left and Right behaved this way. Many had uniformed corps such as Hitler's SA or Brownshirts.
He believed it was weakness to embrace modern conventions of morality and ethics and civility, only pretending to regard them in various situations as a political convenience. Christianity was very much viewed in this light, but politically he understood he could not openly fight with all the churches. He saw Germany as evolving away from Christianity.
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: GUARDIAN COLUMNIST OFFERS READERS ADVICE FOR USING FACEBOOK - IT IS USELESS ADVICE AND JUST ANOTHER STEP IN THE GUARDIAN'S FLAGRANT PROMOTION OF ALL THINGS ZUCKERBERG
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY DARIEN GRAHAM-SMITH IN THE GUARDIAN
Twelve Facebook tips that everyone should know
Sync your calendars, censor your history and save great posts: top ways to streamline your social experience
Better advice: steer clear of this manipulative, dishonest, nasty site.
It has been caught in dishonest practices many times, and it has never made clear to its users just how their information is used.
Nor does it make clear to users the constant snares that are set to collect still more information.
Every time a question of any kind appears, it is rigged to get the information Facebook wants, not the information users would want to give.
Facebook is essentially a gigantic electronic Hoover, sucking up all kinds of information to sell for every imaginable purpose and to supply to American security services.
It's not even aesthetically pleasing, and it offers little (other than meaningless stuff such as "likes") that cannot be had in other ways of using the Internet.
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: IMPORTANT STATEMENT FROM TURKEY'S ERDOGAN SAYS WEST'S SHADOW IS BEHIND ISIS (DAESH) AND AL-QAEDA - THOSE WHO STUDY AFFAIRS ALREADY KNEW THIS BUT IT IS NICE TO HAVE HIGH-LEVEL CONFIRMATION
COMMENT ON AN ARTICLE IN SPUTNIK
'West's Shadow' Behind All Terrorist Groups, Including Daesh’ – Erdogan
Erdogan is an unpleasant and sometimes dangerous man.
But unpleasant and dangerous men can say true things.
And this certainly is an instance of that.
This is, in my view, a very important statement.
Not that it tells us anything we didn't know, but it confirms it from a very highly-placed source.
Saturday, October 07, 2017
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE - EVEN HITLER WAS CONSIDERED FOR ONE - THE PRIZE'S SAD RECORD AND HOW IT IS OUT-OF-STEP WITH NOBEL SCIENCE PRIZES - THIS YEAR'S LIMP AND POINTLESS AWARD
COMMENT ON AN ARTICLE IN SPUTNIK
“Incredible, But True: How Hitler, Mussolini Nearly Received Nobel Prizes”
This shouldn't be surprising.
Hitler, before he launched the most destructive enterprise in human history, made one of the great speeches in history about peace, to quote William Shirer, the great journalist on the Third Reich.
And Hitler was admired by many prominent people at the time, including the British Royal Family and half the British aristocracy.
He was also Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1938.
But beyond all that, the history of the Peace Prize is quite blighted with political errors to the point I believe of having become meaningless.
It has included warmongers and at least two Israeli terrorists. It included an imperialist like Theodore Roosevelt and an absolute do-nothing at the time of his award, Obama, a do-nothing who later proved yet another warmonger.
This year, as has been done before, it was awarded to an organization, one which has no hope of ever achieving its goal. Yes, it would be nice to get rid of nuclear weapons, but only a fool or a propagandist says that it can happen.
In making this year’s again-meaningless award, the Committee ignored obvious and deserving candidates, including Julian Assange.
A prize, if it means anything, must award actual achievements, but in a great many instances the Nobel Peace Prize does not do so, and, in fact, by operating in the way it does, the Peace Prize is completely out-of-step with the Nobel prizes for science, prizes where only genuine achievement counts.
Even one of the greatest scientists of the century, Albert Einstein, did not get the prize for what all regard as his greatest work, the theory of relativity, because it was regarded at the time as a not-fully verified theory.
The Peace Prize has been reduced to a shabby political tool reflecting American political interests and a statement, occasionally, of feeble dreamer hopes from Scandinavia. Any respect that it still commands is extremely threadbare at best.
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TRUMP SAID TO BE READY TO ANNOUNCE DECERTIFYING IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL - NETANYAHU'S TOTALLY CORRUPT INFLUENCE - AND WHAT KIND OF A WORLD DO YOU BUILD THIS WAY?
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY ALEXANDRA WILTS IN THE INDEPENDENT
"Trump to announce he will 'decertify' Iran nuclear deal – reports'
This provides the best measure possible of the overwhelming influence of the Israel lobby in the US.
The head of every organization and state and agency worth listening to agree on one thing: Iran has scrupulously adhered to the agreement on nuclear weapons.
What kind of a world do we build, if America can ignore and lie about such an important matter?
And America ignores and lies about this important matter under the influence of a genuine war criminal, non-stop liar, and ambitious imperialist in his own region, Netanyahu.
This is just sick, and it sadly leads the world on a one-way trip to nowhere.
You cannot make important agreements with the United States is the inevitable and dangerous conclusion.
Thursday, October 05, 2017
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: AMERICA'S BRUTAL DOMESTIC GUN CULTURE - AN EXPLANATION FOR AT LEAST A PART OF ITS ORIGIN - ALSO AMERICA'S PECULIAR PAST EXPERIENCE WITH WAR AND NOW ITS DECADES OF SAVAGE IMPERIAL WAR
EXPANSION OF COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY SUZANNE MOORE IN THE GUARDIAN
British people think they know America – but the gun control debate shows how little we do
The article is right about one thing, America does have a special relationship with guns.
And I do think many Europeans do not fully understand it.
I don't really think it has anything to do with the Second Amendment, as many conservative Americans claim that it has.
The very idea of modern day Patriots out on the streets, dressed in camouflage with their rifles and shotguns and even other more intimidating weapons, protecting the country from “tyranny” is almost the stuff of Monty Python.
It is, after all, a country with some huge armed forces, a huge National Guard in every state, many layers – from state to county to city - of heavily armed police, plus seventeen national security organizations. Patriots would have an easier time opposing tyranny in some of the world’s dictatorships than in America.
I think the single biggest reason, generally unspoken, for the gun culture has to do with America’s racial history. On the old plantations, fear of slave revolt was a constant reality, even though there had been only one revolt of any note. Planters went to bed typically with guns and daggers under their pillows or at hand on a nightstand.
There is a massive residual fear which permeates much of America, a fear not typically mentioned in the press. Thus, we have “gated communities.” Thus, we have an endless sprawl of new “safe” communities built on what were farmlands. Thus, I believe the first military-looking SUVs sold a sense of commuter protection and not just transportation. Thus, we have the widespread ownership of guns for personal protection. Thus, we have police forces which set frightening standards for brutality with a “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude.
Quite typically today, in the urban areas where most Americans live, there are “inner city” areas where many white Americans from suburbs will not set foot. Americans from suburbs who must commute to city jobs avoid these areas. Many also carry a pistol in their car’s glove compartment. Indeed, there used to be whispered advice about not stopping if you ever have an accident with a car having black people in it.
These are just a few of the not-often-discussed realities of America, fears which drive gun ownership. And it is not just white people. The inner-cities are thick with guns, and the tales of the large-scale killings, which do go on there, only further drives everyone’s fear.
In a city like Chicago, as many as fifty or sixty may be shot on a long weekend. These are overwhelmingly young black men shooting other young black men. Most do not die, but many do, hundreds each year. And you can just imagine the tone of the local television news in reporting these events and the fears and dread of those listening, even in distant suburbs.
Response to another reader’s comment comparing American past war deaths to domestic homicides:
Yes, your point is well made, but you overstate American losses for WWII. They were just about 300,000, making the comparison with US domestic killing even more dramatic.
In general, too, American war losses are miniscule compared to what was experienced by other nations. For example, total losses in WWII exceeded 50 million people, a number which makes American losses about one-half of a percent of the world’s total.
You could say, Americans barely experienced WW II, especially when compared to, say, Russia, which lost 27 million people. When you haven’t experienced total war, you are almost certainly more cavalier about starting wars, and that certainly seems to we what we observe with contemporary America.
But there is another extremely important aspect to the American war-loss totals, one generally overlooked, and that is the genuinely horrific losses America inflicted on others. This is not widely understood, but it reflects the use of truly terrible weapons on a scale few appreciate.
The mass bombing and fire-bombing of Japan was so intense it was recorded that there were no secondary targets left standing in the entire country. And then, along came the nuclear bombing of non-military targets. If Japan had not unconditionally surrendered after two cities were obliterated, the US had planned a total series of a dozen nuclear attacks.
Later, there was the three years of carpet-bombing North Korea, estimated to have wiped out 20% of the country’s entire civilian population, a figure which if you applied it to today’s America would mean over 60 million deaths.
The carpet-bombing was repeated in Vietnam, along with many other horrors such as napalm and early cluster bombs, and the US killed about 3 million people there.
The US also bombed neutral Cambodia and eventually succeeded in destabilizing its government, allowing the Khmer Rouge to take power and create the “Killing Fields,” a horror which America did nothing to stop.
There is also America's indifference to various horrors, such as the genocide which occurred in Indonesia after Sukarno fell. Actually, indifference is the wrong word since the American State Department was busy on the phones submitting names of communists for the waves of killing that gripped the country. At least half a million had their throats cut and their bodies dumped into rivers.
We have America’s recent vast march across the Middle East – otherwise known as the Neocon Wars - bombing in at least half a dozen lands, savaging others with mercenaries, killing at least 2 million people, and driving many millions of desperate refugees from their homes.
And over all those years, there has been a large number of lesser but still murderous actions.
The truth is that America is an extremely brutal society. And the brutality feeds both ways, too, from foreign to domestic, and vice-versa. There are lots of brutal candidates on America’s streets for its armed forces’ imperial work abroad, and the many returning soldiers, trained to kill and brutalized, add to the hazards of the streets. For example, America’s infamously brutal police forces quite often select their candidates from the ranks of returning veterans.
I just do not think you can have both a world empire, which has been the main work of America since WWII, and a decent society.
And America certainly does not have a decent society.
Tuesday, October 03, 2017
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TRUMP AS THE MOST AMERICAN OF PRESIDENTS - A CLAIM WHICH SHOULD INFURIATE BOTH HIS SUPPORTERS AND OPPONENTS
THE MOST AMERICAN OF PRESIDENTS
What are the qualities making Trump so “American?” I think there are a number of them, but in this first comment on the subject, I’ll focus on just a few which are related to each other.
He is exceedingly bombastic about Patriotism, complete with photos of himself hugging flags. He enjoys the “toy soldier” militaristic qualities of football half-time shows and marching bands and the histrionic lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner, and of course he freely expresses himself, with no sense of the dignity of the high office he holds, about the way other people may behave when the anthem is played.
“Real” Americans tend to tell you what they want you to hear, whether you want to hear it or not.
It all seems somewhat over-the-top for a man who avoided military service for the thinnest of reasons, the kind of reasons only supported by draft boards for rich young men in the 1960s. But hypocrisy about such matters, as we’ll see, is also a very old and widespread American tradition.
Cowardice, of course, is closely associated with hypocrisy. Trump has demonstrated cowardice already a number of times, but the truth is that it was there from a young age. In his election campaign, he made very telling statements about matters such as the needless Neocon Wars and Obama’s belligerence towards Russia, but as President, he immediately backed off from any action on those life-and-death matters – that is, once faced with the realities of Washington’s bristling military-security establishment. And it is only cowardice when you both claim to be devoted to something and yet refuse to serve its demands and needs, as he very much did as a young man.
It is also a form of cowardice to attack publicly other people’s beliefs in anything, including how they should or should not express their patriotic feelings. And what is more cowardly than attacking those much weaker than yourself? It is the pattern of a bully.
Trump received four draft deferments while in college, a normal experience at the time (Although there were perhaps more sincere Patriots who managed to give up their deferments and go to war. After all, with “communism threatening our very way of life,” how could you ignore it?), but upon graduating in 1968, at the very height of the Vietnam War, the year of the Tet Offensive, he became eligible for the draft. Well, he supplied a doctor’s letter about heel bone spurs and was excused.
It was the kind of deferment only rich young men could obtain. He not only had been very active in sports during college despite the bone spurs, but many millions of people have this minor condition, many of them never taking much note once they adjust to the initial discomfort which lasts only months at most, and, of course, the condition is completely correctable through a small operation, hardly a barrier to a rich young man. But it nevertheless served to keep this flag-hugging Patriot out of the military and out of Vietnam, though I’m sure he kept dutifully hugging and saluting the flag.
Avoiding military service during Vietnam was a common enough experience among future American politicians. Americans used to call some of the most aggressive, war-mongering figures in the Republican Party “chicken hawks” for their backgrounds in avoiding service.
The list of American chicken hawks includes Dick Cheney, George Bush, Dan Quale, Jeff Sessions, Tom Delay, Newt Gingrich, Joe Lieberman, Trent Lott, Mitt Romney, Ronald Reagan, Mitch McConnell, John Ashcroft, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, and includes non-politician warmongers like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Jerry Falwell, Thomas Friedman, and William Kristol. Of course, there is no longer a draft, but the warmonger types still often include those who did no service such as Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and Marco Rubio. So, Trump is in very good company in America.
Hypocrisy in Patriotism goes back a long way with American leaders. The godfather of them all is, perhaps, Thomas Jefferson, exactly the person Samuel Johnson had in mind when he spoke of Patriotism as the refuge of scoundrels or when he condemned those in America who yelped about liberty while being drivers of negroes.
Jefferson, of course, is famous for blubbering about the tree of liberty requiring bloodshed periodically for its growth. Yet, as Governor of Virginia during the Revolutionary War, he never picked up a musket, and he set a then-hilarious example of getting on his horse and riding non-stop until exhausted when a small troop of British Cavalry approached his home. He was the butt of rude jokes among Americans and British for a long time.
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TALK OF AN INTERESTING AND OFF-BEAT WOMAN RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT OF EGYPT IS JUST NONSENSE DISINFORMATION SINCE EGYPT IS NO LONGER A DEMOCRACY - HERE'S WHY
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN
The dancing, beer-drinking woman who would be Egypt's next president
Running against al-Sisi might be a risky prospect, but Mona Prince cuts a bold figure in this repressive society
"Abdel Fatah al-Sisi won the last election with 96% of the vote"
Nonsense, Egypt ceased being a democracy with the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi.
Morsi was Egypt's first and only democratic president.
Quoting Al-Sisi's official vote tally is precisely the same thing as quoting the election results under the old Soviet system or indeed the referendum votes once Hitler was ensconced as dictator. Always not too far from 100%.
Mona Prince appears an energetic and challenging character, but she as much chance of being "elected" in Egypt as I have.
Morsi was overthrown by cooperation between the CIA and Egypt's armed forces.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: COLONIZING MARS - ELON MUSK THE LATEST IN A LIST OF ADVOCATES - WHY THIS IS AN IDEA WHICH REALLY MAKES NO SENSE EXCEPT IN BOYISH FANTASIES
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN
"Elon Musk: SpaceX can colonise Mars and build moon base"
Musk is a very intelligent man, so what can you say of such a nonsense assertion?
Well, it keeps excitement going and likely keeps speculative investors investing.
Mars is a totally hostile environment, making even the most polluted earth imaginable look cozy by comparison.
Mars offers zero promise of anything except maybe minerals which could be better exploited by robots.
Yes, there are always adventurer types willing to go anywhere, and in the days of the New World being opened, they were important.
But we already know Mars in remarkable detail from all our robots and satellites.
It has almost no atmosphere. It is incredibly cold. Its surface is a vast wasteland which makes the Southwestern American desert look lush, and it now turns out that it is poisonous too.