Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ON OBAMA'S CALLING THE RECENT SQUIB OF A TERROR EVENT ON AN AIRLINER A "SYSTEMATIC FAILURE" OF INTELLIGENCE

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

Obama has called the recent incident a “systematic failure” of intelligence.

What else was the original 9/11 attack but a "systemic failure"?

What else was the assassination of John Kennedy but a "systemic failure"?

During the Cold War, it is a legendary fact that CIA's estimates of the Soviet Union were consistently failed.

The CIA didn't even forecast the final collapse of the Soviet Union.

America's bloated intelligence agencies have never been effective.

Big Intelligence simply does not work.

But they sure can eat resources and make things miserable for ordinary people.

And the good old CIA sure knows how to torture people.

____________________

Readers may enjoy my piece of a few years ago, "Why The CIA Will Always Be A Costly Flop."

You'll find it at:

http://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/why-the-cia-always-will-be-a-costly-flop/

_______________________

"A senior taliban leader in Pakistan stated, very clearly, that islam and democracy are incompatible. Muslims do not need democracy, as the koran should be used as an example of how a muslim should live his life.

"Notice that it's 'his' life, as a woman has no standing in muslim society and is only a commodity"


This person should know the words to the music before getting up to sing.

What a complete load of uninformed nonsense he/she has written, contributing only to the huge pile of propaganda and ignorance we see about Muslims.

Those statements apply precisely to economically backward societies always and everywhere.

Women were commodities in Europe only a few centuries ago.

Wealthy men can today still buy a wife in India.

Indeed, the practice of “bride burning” is still common in India.

Twelve year old girls are often married off to wealthy old men making payments to the “bride’s” family. Then when she is a widow at a very young age, she is treated like a social outcast and must conform to many terrible rules of behavior. Her life is as good as over. Millions are affected this way.

Women in Africa, to the tune of 3 million a year, suffer the horrors of genital mutilation. And in many parts of Africa, young girls are routinely raped by older village men.

Women in Canada could not have bank accounts without their husband’s written permission well into the 20th century.

Democracy is incompatible with all old societies. It took the United States two hundred years AFTER its revolution to achieve something even vaguely close to democracy.

It is estimated that about 1% of the population of Virginia could vote. Even white males could not vote because of property requirements.

The Senate wasn’t even elected until 1913.

Women couldn’t vote until 1920.

Great masses of black people couldn’t vote until the 1960s.

And today, because of an outdated, anti-democratic provision of the Constitution, Americans still do not directly elect their president: this has produced a number of minority presidents plus a number of political farces like the 2000 election.

AMERICAN HEATHCARE REFORM AND THE QUESTION WHETHER AMERICA CAN GOVERN ITSELF

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

Govern themselves badly indeed – this is fundamental truth that comparatively few appreciate.

But Jeffrey Simpson may not appreciate how conditioned Americans are to accept poor government.

The widespread hatred of all government and taxation works towards this: as in, do what you like, but do not raise my taxes.

So does the artificial hyper-patriotism constantly drummed everywhere in the society play an important role of immense social pressure.

The drumming has several effects. First, there is a general propensity to see critics of any major policy as unpatriotic.

In the Vietnam era, critics were widely told "to love it or leave it," a disgusting thing to say to another citizen, but decades later, the same filthy, divisive words are heard concerning the fantasy-induced war on terror.

The Washington establishment - the Pentagon, the CIA plus about thirteen other intelligence agencies, the ancient, almost unchanging Senate, and the major military contractors - almost form a government within a government, Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex, a genuine breathing presence in American society and not just a turn of phrase.

Obama - as humane and intelligent a man as America can produce - already has been captured in its tentacles. It is hard to distinguish what is going on abroad today from what went on under the ghastly Bush.

That is to say, national elections do not change much today in America.

And this complex eats money, leaving not a lot of room for programs like national heath.

And in such a society, the penetrating sense for so many is one of always living on the edge, just getting by, one step removed from financial chaos, and that sense of things works to the benefit of the Washington establishment’ s demand for resources.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

WHAT IS MISSING FROM ONE COLUMNIST'S LIST OF 2009's FIVE TOP STORIES

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY GIDEON RACHMAN IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Gideon Rachman,

On the whole, a very perceptive column.

I believe two changes, both quite significant, are needed however.

Concerning the election in Iran, I do believe you have it a bit wrong. Yes, the election made Obama’s wishes more difficult, but no, the election was not illegitimate nor is there yet reason to believe the government is insecure.

You are following the common wisdom of corporate newspapers, a wisdom which seems little more than consistent support for American policy, however wrong-headed it may be on any topic.

"...left a permanent impression of the instability and illegitimacy of the Iranian government."

We have absolutely no solid basis for saying that the election was illegitimate. Several observers, very knowledgeable about Iran, including one scholar whom I heard interviewed at length, say that result was accurate. A lot of poor people in Iran like the current president.

The disturbances in Iran's streets have been at least in part fomented by CIA money. Have you forgotten that Bush earmarked $400 million in his late term for inciting trouble in Iran?

I believe that if I gave those who disagree with the government of any country - including certainly Britain or the United States - $400 million dollars towards subversion and propaganda, we would see trouble in any of them. Many Western governments represent minority opinions.

The story you missed, which I think marked a genuine historical turning point, is Israel's Operation Cast Lead.

Revulsion at the killing of about 400 children is worldwide, and the act further calls into question Israel's entire structure of unwarranted siege, apartheid, and slow-motion ethnic-cleansing in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Even the support of some American Jews is beginning to crumble for what is so clearly a brutal government with absolutely no intention of ever seeking genuine peace with its neighbors.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

BRITISH APOLOGIST FOR BLOODSHED, CON COUGHLIN, SAYS ISRAEL IS A DIFFICULT ALLY BUT ITS LEADERS ARE HARDLY WAR CRIMINALS

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CON COUGHLIN IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Well, if the leaders of Israel are not war criminals, just who in the world qualifies?

Murdering 400 children in Gaza? Deliberately targeting UN observers bravely doing their job in Lebanon? Laying a blanket of nightmarish, barbaric cluster bombs across Southern Lebanon? And refusing to cooperate in removing them?

Keeping a million and half souls in Gaza under siege, even after killing 1,400 of them? Institutionalizing slow-motion ethnic-cleansing in Jerusalem and the West Bank? Stealing homes and farms from families who have lived there for centuries to hand over to immigrants from London or New York?

Over forty years of humiliation and abuse for the people of the territories occupied in 1967, captured in a war which Israel is known to have engineered to this very purpose? Many thousands held in prison with no proper legal procedures? Building a new Berlin Wall and building it on the property of others?

Arresting the members of a cleanly elected government – far more so than was the case for Mr. Bush - because you disagree with their party? Refusing even to talk to those you disagree with?

Assassinating scores of individuals with no charges or trial or legal procedure, an exact copy of the bloody activity of juntas in South America who made people disappear?

The only reason Israel’s leaders are not all severely dealt with by the Western world is the immense, smothering influence of the United States whose foreign policy in many parts is virtually written in Israel.

A United States, by the way, whose last president was the world's reigning living war criminal with a million dead souls to his credit.

_______________

Footnote on the USS Liberty attacked by Israel in the 1967 war. Previous comments have made some ridiculous claims about bloody event.

The ship was extremely well marked. The lead pilot of the Israeli attack force made low passes over the ship before the attack, exchanging waves with sailors on deck.

Then, suddenly, a savage two-hour assault with every weapon the Israeli planes had - guns, bombs, and torpedoes. The lame claim made afterward: it was a mistake.

Of course, Israel was trying to get the US into the war. It would have blamed Egypt for the attack.

There is also speculation that Israel was destroying the recorded evidence – the ship was a sophisticated spy craft - of its atrocities in the Sinai where Israelis murdered hundreds of Egyptian troops who had surrendered rather than be burdened with them in advancing.

Friday, December 18, 2009

TIGER WOODS AND COLOSSAL DISHONESTY AND THE MEANING OF CELEBRITY PRIVACY AND THE GOOFY CULT OF SPORTS

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

Woods is a disaster of a husband indeed.

And, truth be told, something of a disaster as a human being, apart from his charming smile and sports talent.

The truly disturbing fact in all of this is his level of dishonesty and deception. Colossal.

In general, I agree about private lives of famous people.

But just who here has made things so public?

Woods himself.

His dishonest, shabby behavior has intimately affected the lives of dozens - at least fourteen women at last count plus his wife and children and other family members.

If you choose to share your intimate thoughts and privacy with a long series of cocktail waitresses, you can hardly claim privacy anymore. You’ve literally tossed it to the wind.

The cocktail waitresses do have the right to share what they know with others if they choose – it is now part of their lives - and they most certainly have done so, each enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame and possible book contract.

God, one of his bimbos even released comments of his that he wished he had met her before his wife.

How could you ever again enjoy a mate who talked that way to someone else?

The story does tend to confirm my longstanding belief that sports as a builder of character or sportspeople as heroes is simply ridiculous.

Sports figures do what they do because it is the only skill they have in which they may excel and prosper, not out of any set of principles. Many of them could only hold down jobs as clerks without the fantasy world of high level sports.

Single mothers working hard for their kids are in many cases greater genuine heroes than the often pretentious and over-paid people in sports.

Just think of all the thugs in professional football. The NFL is said to run a significant quiet operation just to hush up and cover the scores of assaults against women, both sexual and brutal physical, by its gang of privileged thugs.

And look at the violent temper tantrums, including threats to officials, of a Williams sister or a John McEnroe.

And professional boxing? Hard to tell most of the cast from inmates at a super-max prison.

Coaches? Countless angry, frustrated men who encourage violence and displays of violence and frequently even humiliate those in their charge.

Sport is about anything you like, but it is not the stuff of heroes.

And Woods has about the same claim to privacy as a drunk arrested on the highway.

_________________________________

"Your post smacks of a deep seated resentment and, for me, casts a dark shadow over anything else you might choose to opine upon."

Deep resentment?

No, I’m just tired of all the hoopla over swinging a stick or running fast. After all, in the scheme of things, they are pretty inconsequential activities.

Indeed, I don't recall ever hearing an interview with a sports figure who says much different to, "We're gonna give it everythin’ we got; we're goin' for gold."

Hardly worth printing or broadcasting.

“And your point is?” would actually be an appropriate response to such mush.

People should enjoy their games, but that is all there is to it, games. Hopscotch or Tiddlywinks for grown-ups.

Trying to make moral or ethical or philosophical points about games really is silly. Yet we still get the rubbish about heroic efforts, about going the last mile, about showing real character, about digging in deep, etc, etc., ad nauseum.

And just what else would someone do whose entire existence is wrapped up in swinging a stick or running fast or throwing a ball, someone who has spent much of their life earnestly training to swing a stick or run?

Opine?

I think that word was last seriously used by John Keats.

Sorry, but in all honesty, your approval or disapproval of my views means about as much as the hum of a fly ten miles away.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

RICHARD COLVIN STRIKES BACK AT THE GOVERNMENT'S EFFORTS TO COVER UP ITS INCOMPETENT BEHAVIOR AROUND TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN

POSTED COMMENT TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

"What happened over there that he has become so bitter against our troops and freedom."

How many times have we read a variation of this completely uninformed comment?

It originated with that great bulk of twisted ethics, Stephen Harper, the very man who is entirely responsible for the behavior of the government and its representatives abroad, including troops.

What are the facts?

Armies are disciplined to do what they are told - that is a major part of their often humiliating basic training, always saluting and saying “Sir.”

Armies, in every modern democracy, are under the command of an elected government.

Armies' policies are all set by civilian overlords.

Armies go nowhere and do nothing without civilian direction.

And we would not have it any other way.

So, who are the civilians responsible for what happened in Afghanistan?

Stephen Harper.

This is Harper's shabbiest performance to date.

He's blaming others for his own failure and trying to sound patriotic while doing it.

I do recall him doing other very similar things. It clearly is a basic part of his character. After Israel's savage slaughters in Lebanon and Gaza, he attempted to pin the label of anti-Semite on honest Canadian critics.

Our own prime minister calling us names because we say things with which he disagrees.

What a disaster he is as a national leader.

How far we have fallen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ORAL ROBERTS: THE GREAT OKIE FRAUDSTER HAS FLEECED HIS LAST FLOCK AND AMERICA'S GREAT INVENTION OF THE INHERITED MINISTRY

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

The Great Okie Fraudster has played his last confidence trick.

He will, perhaps, be best remembered by his stunt of locking himself up in "the Prayer Tower" at the college campus he named after himself. The great man refused to eat until someone came through with a fresh ten million bucks for the Oral Empire.

And it worked. Oral got his gift from God, even if only by way of some eccentric Oklahoma oil billionaire.

Oral used to start his pitches - err, I mean, sermons - by assuring the crowd that "something GOOD was going to happen to YOU."

And, just as in the picture accompanying his obituary, he used his long, husky fingers like someone playing a musical instrument in the air. It reminded me of Harpo Marx doing his melodramatic musical gig in the old Marx Brothers’ movies.

In true Christian fashion, he left his flock – said to be good for an annual fleecing of around five million bucks – to his son, a sort of look-alike without the magic medicine-wagon voice and rough hands of the Master: a meat-substitute burger instead of the bleeding slab of sirloin, if you will.

Sadly, the Good Lord often sends sons to these great Christian Entrepreneurs who prove something of a disappointment. Maybe it’s just that old business of pounding-fist fathers bringing up rather feeble sons. Still, you’ve got to keep the money in the family.

Certainly that seems to have been the case with Franklin Graham, inheritor of Rev Billy’s Dazzling Empire, for Franklin is a man who proves that in America you don’t need any brains to be rich.

Then there’s that Venerable Pomposity, the Rev Robert Schuller, and son, Rev Robert Jr, a dysfunctional pair if ever there was one. Because the princeling proved unworthy, the old Rev had to hand over his Chrystal Cathedral Business Empire to a daughter – Heavens! – Rev Sheila, and word has it that now the Chrystal Cathedral can’t meet its weekly bills for vandalized windows.

It’s called inherited ministry, one of America’s more original contributions to world culture.

But the one thing about Rev Oral you had to admire: he had great hair.

TZIPI LIVNI AS WAR CRIMINAL AND THE PAINFUL TRUTHS OF THE 1967 WAR

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Tzipi Livni is a war criminal, plain and simple.

Indeed, she is no different to some of the old Nazis we sometimes see put on trial for killing a thousand people or even a few hundred.

She was instrumental in Israel's slaughter of 1400 people in Gaza, including about 400 children.

Of course, that horror came only a short time after 1400 were slaughtered in Southern Lebanon, and a ghastly minefield of cluster bombs deposited over a huge area of the country.
___________________________


"In 1967 Israel launched a pre-emptive attack only AFTER it became KNOWN that the Arabs were about to launch a war of EXTERMINATION against Israel. I think this fact alone demonstrates the way in which you distort history. Tell me, are you under the impression that the tiny country of Israel provoked a war which wouldn't have otherwise happened against all its Arab neighbours in the face of their overwhelming military superiority? Did they do this for a laugh do you think?"

No, it is the writer who does not understand history.

Israel engineered the 1967 war. We have that from some world-eminent sources, including the late Charles de Gaulle.

Even Israeli historian Avi Schlaim hints at this in his
monumental history of Israel's first half century of foreign policy.

And the Arabs most assuredly did not have “overwhelming military superiority.” Israel did, with its front-line American weapons and ferocious training. The Arab countries were pitifully disorganized, and Israel knew this since it has the best intelligence in the Mideast. It really was a low-stakes gamble for a very big prize.

The prize, clearly, was the West Bank and Jerusalem, which more than forty years later Israel still holds in bondage. Indeed, a process of slow-motion ethnic-cleansing of these places has been active for decades.

Israel even tried to embroil the US into the war by the sinking of the USS Liberty, an American spy ship in the Mediterranean, hoping to pass it off as an Egyptian effort.

It has never explained that near-sinking in which dozens of American sailors were slaughtered in an extremely well-marked ship, a ship that the lead Israeli pilot made a low pass over - and was waved at by crew members - just before the relentless two-hour attack.

We also have it on good authority that Israel killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai after they had surrendered, just so prisoners wouldn't slow their progress.

Some ally.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

BUSH HANDLING RETIREMENT? HARDLY A FIT SUBJECT ABOUT WHICH TO WRITE A STORY

POSTED RESPONSE TO COLUMN IN THE INDEPENDENT

Why would you bother with a story like this?

Bush was a disaster, and stupidly laughable to boot.

We can all only be glad he is gone.

Long before he was appointed as President, he was a boring, spoiled, and arrogant man who never did one meaningful bit of work.

His achievements in every sphere, except the destruction of a million people, are zero.

You might just as well do pieces about the declining years of a murderous drug dealer or a big-time madam.

THE UNITED STATES DECIDES ON A PRISON IN RURAL ILLINOIS AS A PLACE TO KEEP MANY GUANTANAMO PRISONERS

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

This is just one more stupid, blundering injustice by the United States.

They kidnapped these men and have held them illegally for eight years, torturing and abusing them.

There are no proper charges against any of them. There is no court competent to try them. Any evidence is utterly worthless, contaminated by American torture and illegal procedures.

America has held them for most of that time without lawyers, without family visits, and without access by the Red Cross.

International law has been broken, as well as important international conventions.

These men should be released.

They are a danger to no one, even the ones who might once have been.

They are completely compromised. Everything which could be known about them is known.

They are of no use to any terrorist organization, even if there were one called al Qaeda, which there is not.

Apart from all the other things one might say about this illegal imprisoning of men in a remote part of Illinois, it is, above all, meaningless public relations.

If he is not going to free the innocent - which is what they are under our law as well as that of the United States - Obama might just as well leave them at Guantanamo now that that the torture and abuse have stopped.

Cuba is a far more pleasant place than Illinois in the winter.

And can you imagine how they will be greeted by a general prison population after eight years of relentless propaganda about how terrible they are?

Monday, December 14, 2009

WHY QUOTE A PROPAGANDA MILL LIKE THE CATO INSTITUTE? AND PEOPLE WHO USE PEJORATIVE TERMS LIKE "LEFT-WING RANTS"

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

I don’t know why you would quote anyone from Cato Institute.

Cato is a propaganda mill much like the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, or the Hoover Institution.

While designed to superficially resemble an academic institution, only one kind of viewpoint ever comes from Cato, as well as the other places.

They are financed by some of the most right-wing corporations and individuals in America.

And they serve to provide sinecures to retired professors or government officials who can contribute significantly to what are essentially boiler room operations.

Opinion on demand is provided on almost any issue of concern to America’s Right Wing.

Finally, the Constitution is used by every group wishing to stop progress in America.

It is itself a largely outdated document, full of concepts which have proved mistaken over time.

Any student of American history knows full well it has been ignored countless times when that was convenient for the establishment.

Indeed, for years, the very concept of the Bill of Rights was unenforceable because it was felt by people like Jefferson that a federal court could not pass judgment on state activities.

Still, the Court is a weak institution on the whole, generally not daring to go beyond the most timid interpretations.

Nations are, like all of nature, ever-evolving things. To remain rigidly married to words set down by a few rather provincial men two and a quarter centuries ago much resembles Catholic Church doctors arguing over nonsense.

Indeed, words themselves are constantly evolving in their meaning, something we experience keenly over the last half century and something which will only speed up in future.

Sticking to certain meanings of certain words in a certain document is a perfect formula for little social progress.

Indeed, the establishment uses the Constitution for exactly that purpose.

Genuine freedoms and important institutions only survive over the long term because of general good will and consent in any society, not because of a piece of parchment.

________________________

algasema,

"Left wing rants" is a genuinely pejorative phrase. It is also inaccurate.

I am a classically-trained economist, rather traditional in his views, in my retirement also a teacher of micro-economics of which Milton Friedman would approve.

However, when it comes to the defense of human freedom and decency or attacking arrogance and pomposity, I like to think of people like Samuel Johnson or Graham Greene or George Orwell or Jonathon Swift (‘A Modest Proposal’). To my mind, there is no room for compromise in such matters: they are not simplistic matters of left- or right-wing, except to simplistic people or ideologues at places like the American Enterprise Institute.

What I write is well-written (I am a published author, former corporate chief economist and speechwriter, and once had a weekly metropolitan newspaper column), well-informed, but it is highly critical in defense of human rights, democratic values, and decency.

Calling my comments “rants” is the typical response of someone who does not have the same commitment to these values. It is a noun used a few times towards me by apologists for America’s murderous post-WWII rampage in the world or Israel’s ghastly record of abuse and brutality.

I suspect my views on both of these contemporary barbarisms click a switch somewhere back in your consciousness.

Of course, such descriptions as yours are used in an effort to reduce the person with whom you disagree, an old and genuinely puerile (since you love Latinisms) technique, one shared I am sorry to point out by those of a quietly tyrannical temperament everywhere and always.

I do take credit or blame for everything I write, hardly a shabby quality.

I do not rant, but you, my anonymous name-caller, do expose what I can only call a rather afraid-of-your-own-shadow quality.

That’s surely what you are doing by prefacing comments, somewhat in agreement, with name-calling.

It also is obvious in those countless typo-corrections of yours: they remind me of the nervous schoolboy looking down at his new wing-tip shoes to see if they are adequately shined, a young, desperate-to-please Richard Nixon with a sad smile and beads of sweat on his brow.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

TONY BLAIR SAYS HE WOULD STILL HAVE INVADED IRAQ

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

What do you expect a certified war criminal to say about his past activities?

Napolean spent years on St Helena justifying his murderous wars.

Even Hitler, I'm sure, would offer an eloquent rational for his ghastly behavior.

Apart from being a war criminal, Tony Blair has always suffered mental problems too.

Look at his idiotic religious activity.

Look at his ridiculous marriage to a woman who was the most embarrassing spouse in British history since George IV's wife, Caroline.

And look at his work in the Middle East for which he collects a fat salary and privileges. He's afraid even to land a plane there.

I do not understand why he is taken seriously enough to quote in the press.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

WILL OBAMA'S SURGE WORK?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

Mr. Simpson, you are right on these details.

People who criticize you on this simply do not know what they are talking about because they are part of America's obsession with great white whales, an obsession closely shared by Israelis and Israel’s apologists.

The most fundamental realities are the following.

The Taleban is not an invading guerilla force. The word "insurgents" nicely hides the fact that they are natives of the land we have invaded.

Moreover, they are a substantial portion of the population, not a small group.

And they attacked no one.

The 9/11 bunch were mainly Saudis, almost certainly on a secret CIA training program in the U.S. that went very sour (they had valid American visas, and they were being followed closely by Mossad).

Osama bin Laden has been dead since the horrific bombing of Tora Bora. The extent of that bombing has been kept secret, but it was earth-shattering by first-hand accounts.

Al Qaeda, as a former British Foreign Secretary admitted a few years ago, does not exist. It is a Pentagon nickname to cover a group of disparate fundamentalist Muslims who hate American policy. The word means toilet.

America has worked to keep alive the idea of both bin Laden and Al Qaeda because they serve as focuses for the lunatic “war on terror.”

You cannot have a war on a technique or a set of attitudes: it’s a pure nonsense, rather like Israel’s mantra about there being no such thing as a Palestinian people.

America went to Afghanistan, dragging others along, for vengeance, which it got in spades. Now, it does not know what to do.

In a sense, it is the victim of its own propaganda. As well, there are now huge entrenched interests in the Afghanistan effort, everything from Blackwater Corporation to the manufacturers of Hellfire missiles. America’s Israel apologists, too, never saw a war against Muslims they didn’t like: put them in their place, so to speak.

A very great assembly of forces for a newcomer like Obama to oppose, and, truth be told, he has already buckled.

But he cannot win his war. Absolutely, he cannot hold down a huge country of 30 million people, a land of mountains and deserts and sweltering heat and hardscrabble poverty; moreover, a place where millions deeply resent America’s arrogance and brutality.

One hopes that Obama intends only to make a show and to reach a compromise with the Taleban from a position of increased strength and then get out with a shred of dignity. It is starting a system of payoffs – successful short-term in Iraq – hundreds of millions for opponents to lay down their arms temporarily.

But I am not optimistic. The Afghans are some of the toughest, hardest people on earth, largely because they live in an extreme part of the world with almost no wealth.

Friday, December 11, 2009

NEW "DRONE ATTACK" KILLS "AL QAEDA" - EVEN USING THAT PHRASE "DRONE ATTACK" HELPS HIDE EVIL TRUTH

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

It truly is dishonest to always write about "drone attacks."

Drones don't attack anyone. Gum-chewing thugs sitting in an office chair at a computer terminal do.

These drones are armed with American Hellfire missiles, the same ones Israel uses when it typically kills a dozen innocent people in a bloody horror trying to get one target, some man who has never been charged or tried or condemned.

The guy at the terminal somewhere in a locked room in the Pentagon basement undoubtedly pumps his arm as the missile explodes, killing God knows who.

Then he goes out for some lunch in Georgetown.

Disgusting.

An absolute lack of ethics, only praised by the apologists for Israel's bloody excesses.

Misery likes company, and the same goes for miserable criminal behavior.


_________________

Carrying the Olympic Torch would sure be a suitable suggestion, although I doubt the writer making this suggestion even understands why.

Few Canadians seem aware that the Olympic Torch relay was invented for the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany, invented by no less a figure than Doctor Joseph Goebbels to distract world attention in a very controversial Olympics from the stuff going on in Germany.

Yet we blindly carry on this stupid marketing scheme as though it were a hallowed tradition.

And we get brainless suggestions like this one concerning it.

JEFFREY SIMPSON CORRECTLY WRITES THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD HAVE HUGGED MR. COLVIN INSTEAD OF DEMONIZING HIM - SIMPLY BAD INSTINCTS

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

Yes, in a world run by the kind of rules we were taught as children by traditional parents, churches, and schools, that’s what would happen.

But that world, a world in which the good guys always win and where honesty always counts, is just a hopeful dream as most of us sadly learn after being buffeted about by the brutal realities.

These events provide us, those who are paying attention, the perfect definition of what Harper’s government truly represents.

Harper, a man of supposedly conservative principles (which traditionally are thought of as standing for old-fashioned stuff like honesty and responsibility) in fact is an ugly opportunist willing to do almost anything to cover the blundering stupidities of his cabinet.

Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People" was always a favorite play of mine.

Here we see Mr. Colvin as the good Dr. Stockman, and Harper as one of the backroom leaders of the mob ready to run the doctor out of town for telling the truth that the town's public baths are dangerous to health.

Well, we can't change the fundamental opportunism and dishonesty of Harper and MacKay, but we can all celebrate the bravery and honesty of Mr. Colvin.

Doing so makes Canada at least a little better place.

OBFUSCATION VERSUS SIMPLY TELLING THE TRUTH GENERALLY SERVES TO DEFEND INCOMPETENCE

POSTED RESPONSE TO AN EDITORIAL IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

Obfuscation is an old tactic of intelligence services and, as in the recent investigation into four RCMP officers’ criminal incompetence at Vancouver’s airport, police forces under investigation for gross failures.

It is used most often to cover up, not so much genuine secrets as the facts of blundering incompetence and poor judgment.

The principle is simple: it is better to be considered one who is being obviously less than transparent than one who is a laughable incompetent.

That is precisely what is happening here.

Harper's cabinet in total likely sets something of a national record for incompetence and blundering in a single group of people.

This undoubtedly was another case of sending body bags to reservations as preparation for H1N1.

But the leader of these political buffoons, Canada's own Newt Gingrich (that wonderful family-values man who asked his wife, dying of cancer, for a divorce), gives this sad story a new quality with his filthy suggestions that critics are blaming the forces.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

ON THE DELUSIONAL IDEA OF EVEN A TALENTED MAN LIKE OBAMA "REMOLDING" AMERICA

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Sorry, this article is delusional.

Remolding America is an imaginary concept.

Despite changes over the last two centuries such as universal franchise, America manages a great deal to be what it was two centuries ago.

An aristocracy of wealth and influence, where only a small number of people's views genuinely count and one bent on imperial expansion.

The entire political system is stacked against serious change.

Congress is the best money can buy, and that goes for both parties.

The two parties are an opportunistic duolpoly representing almost no principles at all.

The Washington establishment of the Pentagon/CIA/NIA/FBI actually form an unelected continuing government behind the elected government.

The last president who tried challenging that unelected government died in Dallas November 22, 1963.

Obama is personally an enlightened man of considerable depths, but he is ambitious to be and remain president. That wish is virtually incompatible with "remolding America."

American exceptionalism is now everywhere and always the rule, whether it is making a war crime/ invasion into legitimate foreign policy or the Sceretary of State putting pressure on Italy over a woman, one from a well-off family, fairly convicted of murder.

MORE ON THE SHAMEFUL FAILURE TO PROTECT AFGHAN PRISONERS FROM TORTURE: THE INCOMPETENCE AND DISHONESTY OF HARPER'S GOVERNMENT

POSTED RESPONSE TO AN EDITORIAL IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

I believe in this case, as in so many others, Harper's government has demonstrated sheer incompetence.

I doubt they set out to give men – mostly innocent farmers – over to torture. But as we’ve seen time and time again, the cabinet functions like a gang of Keystone Cops, from dropping top secrets in various places to sending body bags to native people’s reservations as preparation for the flu.

That tendency towards incompetence is exacerbated in its practical effects by a truly slavish admiration, almost a boy-scout devotion, to American government policy, something which of course induces very little use of independent thought. And we all know America has not been the least squeamish about human rights and filthy torture.

Some of the evil involved here is in Peter MacKay's preacherly waving of hands and ranting when he knows perfectly well that he is lying through his teeth to protect his incompetent party.

But of course, Peter MacKay’s entire national career in politics has exhibited dishonesty, from his affair with a party subordinate to his lying about calling her a dog in Parliament and to his original broken word to a competitor for the leadership of the former Conservative party.

Peter MacKay is a proven ethical nullity.

But the true low note in evil here has been struck by Harper, with his filthy accusations about critics of a human-rights nightmare in Afghanistan blaming the brave soldiers.

Pure Rush Limbaugh. Is that the stuff now of Canada’s national politics, stuff dredged from the intellectual cesspools of American politics?

That is the kind of stuff which surely earns you a special place in hell.

RIDICULOUS BOB GELDOF NOW PREACHES THERE IS A NEW STORY OF AFRICA RISING

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY BOB GELDOF IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

Bob Geldof is a parody of the concerned pop artist.

He has abused his musical popularity to preach and preach and preach.

Not only is his preaching hypocritical - Mr Geldof has a fortune which could relieve more poverty than a million normal contributors to charity - but he says things which are simply not true. As in this case about a new story of Africa rising.

All evidence is that Africa is an utter mess with no promise for the future.

Almost every country in Africa is poorly governed, has corruption as a national policy, and is steeped in levels of violence we can scarcely imagine.

South Africa, for example, now liberated from the ugliness of apartheid, experiences an orgy of murder and rape, truly world-record levels.

A truly stupid South African government has for years refused the fact of science that HIV is related to AIDS, refusing even to treat HIV babies. Only now, after endless efforts, have they relented in this last regard.

And still the populations grow, beyond the societies' capacities to sustain themselves. This crowding and poverty induce the countless civil wars, revolutions, and mass killings we read of without pause.

I'm not sure it is possible to find a greater depth of human irresponsibility and hopelessness anywhere.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

STEVIE CAMERON ASKS: HAVE WE FORGOTTEN HORRORS LIKE THE MONTREAL MASSACRE? A BIZARRE PIECE OF WRITING

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY STEVIE CAMERON IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

Sorry, this is a bizarre piece.

First, no one has forgotten these horrors, and outfits like CBC spend time every year playing the record again.

Second, the world is so filled with horrors - a million killed in Iraq, two million refugees, tens of thousands killed in Afghanistan, American torture and assassination, Israel's running an endless gulag for millions of innocent people, Africa a vast continent of brutality and mass murder - that the Canadian cases almost do not stand out.

Third, it is the normal brain's function to forget savage events and try to resume normal life.

Fourth, we have a lumbering, destructive Harper government owing to the majority not getting its act together. The man slashes and burns on the support of thirty-odd percent of Canadians.

________________________

"Great article. The truth stings for some. Rape as a war crime in Darfur, Congo etc. The subjugation of women in countries around the world (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia to name just a few), the denial of education to girls in some countries - just what are men afraid of in education? Power perhaps?"

The complete ignorance shown in postings like that is itself a serious danger to society.

If we proceed in our affairs out of ignorance, we get nowhere.

Rape in war has been a constant of history. As the Soviets entered Berlin at the end of WW II, there was an orgy of rape, not typically discussed in history texts. Literally hundreds of thousands of German women were raped, often gang-raped.

And what about the “comfort women” for the Imperial Japanese Army in WWII? And the orgies of rape and murder in places like Nanking? Tens of thousands killed and countless rapes.

And just what does the writer of that nonsense think is behind the words, read countless times in ancient history, "and the city was sacked with all the men put to the sword."

You read of the horrors of Abu Ghraib in Iraq, but we know from the world’s greatest investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, that in fact the worst stuff has been suppressed, pictures and recordings of boys being raped.

Indeed, some of our soldiers in that hellhole of Afghanistan have seen boys being raped, to the point of blood running down their legs, by those assisting us as translators and guides. It is a common practice in such repressive and backward societies, just as it is in prisons.

Such events only tell us that war is stupid and savage beyond telling, for war is just a time when sick people get to carry out whatever twisted and savage dreams they have with impunity.

After all, likely a quarter of us is mentally ill, as clearly M. Levine was. You just need the right conditions to set them off.

Because men are in general physically stronger and loaded with hormones promoting aggression, they are the perpetrators by a ratio of about 10:1 compared to women.

We need to stop promoting war, and we need to treat people in normal society who are unbalanced. Those are the real lessons here.

The denial of education to girls? God, American propaganda for the Afghan War.

Go look at countless millions of boys in India and Africa and other places who get virtually no education. Boys go to work in places like India or Pakistan doing things like sewing soccer balls or working on carpets as young as seven years old.

And in Afghanistan, are you telling me that the men of the Northern Alliance or the Taleban are educated? The entire society is unbelievably backward and poor. Even if you got a good education in Afghanistan, there would likely be no place to use it. You would have to emigrate unless you were very fortunate.

Think before you write, and go seek some knowledge before you even think.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A GROUP OF BRITISH DOCTORS QUESTIONS THE FINDING AROUND DOCTOR KELLY'S DEATH - AND WHO BENEFITED?

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE INDEPENDENT

Doctor Kelly was almost certainly assassinated.

And who benefited?

The Iraq invasion served Israeli purposes hugely.

Its most implacable opponent was eliminated, his country reduced to ruins.

And the doctor was a threat to the lies that helped create that vast war crime.

Israel has bragged of its many assassinations - scores of them - in the past. It has been shameless on this utterly unethical behavior.

A truly disgusting record for those who care about human rights or justice.

MORE FLATULENCE FROM CANADA'S PRESTON MANNING: THIS TIME IT'S THE FUTURE ALBERTANS "DESERVE"

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY PRESTON MANNING IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL

"Let's give Albertans the future they desire and deserve"

Why do Albertans "deserve" a different future than the one they now have, one which by world standards is pretty exceptional?

More flatulence from Canada’s Sunday School teacher of Right Wing politicos.

Though I have to say: Gee, Preston, I do like the new, cool-guy look in your official photo.

Does it indicate, perhaps, you are undergoing the Middle-Age Crazies?

MORE ABSURD WORDS FROM HILLARY CLINTON: 24 NATIONS SEND 290 TROOPS EACH FOR A WORLD CRISIS?

POSTED RESPONSE TO AN ARTICLE IN THE TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

Clinton is simply out of her mind.

Two dozen countries sending seven thousand troops?

And many or most not for combat?

That's an average of about 290 troops per country.

290 cooks, guards, and orderlies each.

Some world crisis.

Everyone clearly sees what a mistake Afghanistan is, except the government of the United States.

Of course those eager not to offend American sensibilities, or those whose assistance or favors from America are under threat, send their token contingent.

This whole matter is like one of those slightly absurd British comedies of four or five decades ago.

World crisis, civilization in peril, so we better send 290 troops.

The press should be embarrassed to even report such press-release fantasy as an event.

Clinton should be embarrassed to utter a word about these 24 mice roaring, but this woman is long ago beyond any possible embarrassment, having said countless absurd things in recent years or quickly backtracking what she has previously said, making absolutely no sense in most of what she says.

Were a major business run the way America runs wars and foreign policy, the economy would collapse.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A RESPONSE TO HILLARY CLINTON’S ASSERTION THAT ALL NATIONS SHOULD PLAY A PART IN THE AFGHANISTAN MISSION

December 4, 2009

A RESPONSE TO HILLARY CLINTON’S ASSERTION THAT ALL NATIONS SHOULD PLAY A PART IN THE AFGHANISTAN MISSION

John Chuckman

Hillary Clinton, in a just-published piece on the Afghanistan mission (see note at bottom), offers us nothing helpful or enlightening, only boiler-plate American slogans, the kind of stuff you’d hear from some provincial Congressman giving a Fourth of July speech in a place like Muncie, Indiana.

Indeed, her use of the question-begging word “mission” in the title to describe what has been the pointless conquest and occupation of a people signals the vacuity of the words that follow.

“The violent extremism that threatens the people and governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan also undermines the stability of the wider region and threatens the security of our friends, allies and interests around the world.”

No government in Afghanistan or Pakistan was threatened until the U.S. became involved. Yes, they are poor regions with much backward fundamentalism, but those governments knew how to handle the difficulties of their own affairs before the U.S. bombed and machine-gunned its way in.

No matter what the U.S. does, short of exterminating an entire class of people (for the Taleban is not an invading guerilla force but a substantial portion of the population), the fundamentalism is not going to go away in our lifetimes.

It would take decades of very healthy economic growth to bring these places forward, and so far America’s only contribution has been to kill tens of thousands of people and destroy a great deal of the meager physical assets in these places.

I would remind Ms. Clinton that it was only as recently as the 1930s, and into the 1940s, that families in the American South, likely considering themselves good Christians all, would attend picnics to watch the lynching of some black men. I am not exaggerating: such events were common even in Franklin Roosevelt’s day, and he never spoke out against them, despite prodding from Eleanor, for fear of losing his political support in the South.

Yet that grotesque horror has come to an end. How did it happen? The answer is decades of strong economic growth bringing jobs, wealth, and fresh air to America’s once-fetid South.

How much larger is the problem in a land that lives, to a considerable extent, in the 17th century? Immensely larger.

How is the security of the world threatened by these people? It’s not and never has been. The very fact that NATO countries have made such almost laughably small contributions is the strongest possible evidence that Ms. Clinton is not believed by any of them.

Imagine a genuine world threat in which the many countries of NATO each sent the troop equivalent of the police force of very modest-sized cities?

They have only indeed sent those owing to constant American browbeating, cajoling, and, in some cases, threats: the U.S. colossus can summon a great deal of economic and political force in getting its way.

Which fact brings us to the question of why the U.S. did not use those great non-lethal powers in Afghanistan after 9/11.

It simply demanded the extradition of people without supplying a shred of proof to the Afghan government, the Afghan request being the normal procedure for extradition anywhere.

Then the U.S. invaded while lining up a fa├žade of support from the U.N. and NATO, everyone at that time being under both pressure from the U.S. and only naturally feeling sympathy over 9/11 .

What was America’s purpose? No person in the American government today, not Clinton and not even Obama, can give you a lucid and reasonable answer, because the truth was that there was nothing lucid or reasonable about the invasion. The purpose was blinding white-hot rage for revenge.

Once the U.S.got there, beyond its early cheap victory over 17th century people, it did not know what to do, and it still does not know what to do. Its victory consisted of displacing the Taleban with warlords of the Northern Alliance, supported by a level of horrific bombing perhaps not seen since America’s holocaust in Vietnam.

Eight years later, there is no democracy in Afghanistan, elections being pretty much a sham. The burka is still worn by most of the women in Afghanistan: after all, many members of the Northern Alliance are just as backward and vicious as the Taleban. General Dostum, for example, is a certified mass murderer, a man whose ghastly, brutal excesses were winked at by Bush and Rumsfeld, if indeed not quietly encouraged.

I heard an interview recently with the only woman elected to the Afghan legislature - since tossed out by the warlords – who says that nothing really has changed and, indeed, some things are even worse than they were under the Taleban.

I have heard from other sources that schools for girls are closed almost as soon as they are opened because no money flows to pay salaries and because of the threats from local authorities. The openings of such institutions are often little more than Potemkin village photo-ops. The Bush people used women’s rights as a propaganda tool to gain domestic support for their invasion, and, like all good propaganda, it worked because it was based on truth.

The truth is that Afghanistan is not even a country in the sense that we understand it. It is a remote, impoverished land of about 30 million where tribes live hardscrabble lives with almost no economic progress, steeped in superstitions having the same force they did in 17th century Spain with its Holy Inquisition. Even its border with Pakistan is artificial, never properly defined with the same tribes living on both sides.

You simply cannot change these realities, and certainly not with bombs.

The world is full of awful places. They burn brides in India, force child marriages, and treat young widows who were married to old men in horrible fashion.

The great irony is that the Taleban need never have been an enemy. No Taleban invaded anyone. No Taleban was involved in 9/11. That atrocity was committed by a group largely of Saudis. Importantly, they virtually all held valid American visas and were almost certainly part of secret CIA training program that failed terribly.

By the way, to this day, there is not one shred of valid evidence that Osama bin Laden did anything like the U.S. claims he did. Yes, he was a guest of the Taleban, but then he also was a past CIA operative, something that only enhanced his status for many in the region. Does that mean the CIA is responsible?

The entire Afghanistan invasion and occupation is an unqualified disaster.

One can only hope that Obama intends to use the next year or two to come to a reasonable modus Vivendi with the Taleban and then to withdraw.
________________________________

Note: Ms. Clinton’s piece may be read at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/6722751/Hillary-Clinton-All-nations-must-play-a-part-in-Afghanistan-mission.html